Cephalyx – a Mid Season Review

I have been playing my Cephalyx at every chance I get, and am very pleased with their performance. I currently sit at a very comfortable 5-3-1, with the one draw coming to time. I’ve played 25, 35, and 50, and have used every model at their disposal. With the switch back to Cryx looming on the horizon for September and October, I felt it was time to go back and evaluate what I’ve been doing, how I’ve been learning, and what I like or dislike about the Minifaction of Cephalyx.

cephalyx_heavy_kit

Monstrosities
The Monstrosities stand out to me as the flagships of the army. If you have no desire to play them, there is no real reason for you to play the faction as a whole, its just not going to be worth your time. All three monstrosities are exceedingly good.

  • The Wrecker is all it says its supposed to be and more. TK and the feat gives it up at a very achievable 14″ threat range, and at MAT 7 it easily threatens whatever is around to pummel. I do not think, however, that you can count on TKing your target closer to you for extended threat range. Fueling one of these for a rampage takes over 30% of your focus, and if you want to TK the Wrecker, its over 50%. With the TK of the target model, you’re going to need to be close enough to charge already and want to burn nearly 90% of your focus. The Focus expenditure is a choice, but being close enough anyway make it a pretty terrible choice most times. The times its not is when you simply cannot afford a miss. If the target is defense 14+, I’d consider it to get the backstrike bonus. Overall, the Wrecker is even better than I’d originally assumed, and I thought the world of him. I do feel that two is mandatory, though, and that’s kinda lame. Being able to piece trade up with him in the early game, and then swing in to clear a zone or take out a second threat is just essential for being able to put pressure on your opponent.
  • The Warden is a fairly good, standard Monstrosity. He has the oomph to take down enough targets that I don’t feel he is wasted being in the back line, and he has the rules to back up his placement as a second wave. Until recently, I’d not realized how trivial it can be to set up a slam, between the feat and TK. This might just turn into a Gladiator style assassin. He also has the potential to clear out zones both with huge slams and two-handed throws, both of which can be invaluable.
  • The Subduer is something I am not as thrilled with as I was initially. It’s got a unique shtick in the army that enabled it to perform some great tasks while I was using it, but he just does not have the piece trade potential that the Wrecker does, he just looses out on too many attacks, an additional point of POW, and his tricks don’t work on Colossals and Gargantuans. Piled onto that, his drag is easily thwarted by positioning, which I would have to pop my feat to undo. Sometimes, its worth it, but most times it is not.He very much seems like a model designed to fit into a three-model-kit heavy as the third model. While he has some good potential, I just keep subbing him out for a Wrecker.

Overall, I am really trying to figure out a way to keep everything and add a fourth Monstrosity. I don’t see how I can do it without causing my list to crumble, bit I think its possible. I could go Double Warden Double Wrecker, but it is most likely to be a Subduer. Those 36 boxes are much hardier than any of my opponents thought, and it almost always required the expenditure of more force than 6 or 7 points warrants.

Solos are the next most potent addition to the way the Cephalyx play this game, even there is really only one, I’ll cover the Dominator here as well as the Cryx Solos.

  • The Agitators are amazing, but surprisingly hard to use. Their Instigation bubble being a Special Action as well as their generally strong desire to be in the second line can sometimes lead to complicated turns with confusing order of operations. TK can help them get into place, but you have to know where you want to place them, as that’s 25% of your focus spent getting +2 to hit and +2 to damage where you want it. Their Sacrificial Pawn comes up rarely other than to be mentioned and then never used, either because the opponent waits until they are far enough away, or just kills them with melee. The 36 boxes just ins’t worth it.
  • The Dominator is a fantastic icing on the Cephalyx Cake. He’s able to take a number of models as his unit, and I really like the skills he is able to bring to the table. I categorically do not like Croes with him, and I swear by both the Tactical Arcanist Corps and the potential of the Nyss Hunters. Nyss provide a much needed two pronged asset coverage with both ranged attacks and pathfinder. Add in Deceleration, and you get a 19/13 model with ranged 12 bows! sounds great to me! The TAC provide the same reach with spells, and a bunker of smoke with smoke grenades.
  • Bloat thralls are, sadly, the same model they have always been. While I don’t think they will never be good, I just can’t find a good way to press whatever advantages they have. Their short range combined with slow speed means that they suffer an inordinate chance of hitting their own troopers with a powerful blast that will in all likelihood, kill them. Failing that, I have to keep any useful troopers outside of 2″ of him, in case the enemy decides to blow him off the board, which they will.
  • Pistol Wraiths, are, thankfully, the same model they have always been. Their ability to shut down heavies and do damage to infantry is fantastic in an army that has very few ways to neutralize something it can’t get to. The pistol wraith, weather singularly or in pairs, has yet to fail me in a game. They might get killed before they do anything, but that is one other model alive with which to cause problems.
  • Machine Wraiths are my surprise of the solo class. I’ve played them in a number of games, and have enjoyed them in almost every aspect. Even when there are no warjacks to take over, there will always be zones to hold an flags to contest. The ability of these little workhorses to do so much for a simple 1 point cost has been a great boon. I highly recommend picking up one or two for every Cephalyx force.

Overall, I think the solo selection is really fantastic. I had hoped that the feat and TK would help out the bloat thrall, but it simply highlighted its inaccuracy and its ability to destroy my own troops.

Units are a pretty simple thing to go over. Thankfully, I’ve been able to use them all extensively.

  • The Mind Slaver and Drudges unit is the main body of work for the army. Not only is it a single power higher, than the Mind Bender Drudges, the unit can charge and still be effective. They are almost always the second unit to activate, with the Mind Benders handing out Adrenal Flood to the foremost Drudges to get awesome charges off, or handing it to the back to get more into range. I keep unnecessarily worrying about their staying power, because MAT 7 P+S 15 is really, really good for a 4/6 unit, and I shouldn’t complain.
  • The Mind Bender and Drudges unit is the engine of the army. They enable clearing of troops, clearing of Jacks, and a ton of other work besides. As I have stated, the ability to get into the way, make attacks, and then be channeled out of the way right afterward is extremely helpful. Their need to put forth spells almost every turn means that this unit will go first and will burn itself up fairly quickly I am very curious to see if two units, and a potential for 6 Adrenal Flood/Psychic Assault/Detonations is worth it for the two more points. I get two more models in the exchange which will equate to two more spells over the course of the game. Extremely curious.
  • Overlords are one of the hate them or love em units in the army. They have been my saving grace, but also my weakness in the list. With the ability to cover almost any situation, they have a ton of capacity to be worth inserting them into every list. The times they become useless, though, they feel like a weight around your neck. I can see how, in areas and metas where Meat Mountain, Fist of Halaak, Runes of War and other multi-wound nastiness, the overlords are not loved. I had them tied up against a unit of Man o War for about an eternity because they just couldn’t break free. I still love them for their potential, but I completely get the strikes against them.

The units are the backbone, where the solos are the ligaments and the Monstrosities the Muscles. I am still tweaking how and what proportion of units I run, and am very solidly considering running 2 mins of each unit for flexibility. It might be terrible, but I am going to have to try it.

Cephalyx 2

Finally, the Brain of the Operation, in both form and function. Exulon Thexus, the Warcaster himself.

  • Exulon is, actually, a lot more passive than I had originally thought. Without an upkeep spell, and without any real answer to guns, he has very little options open to him when it comes to spending focus. Instead of casting a ton of cool spells every turn, I find myself casing Deceleration, fueling one Monstrosity, and either camping the final two, or casting a single TK. I have yet to actually, successfully, cast Influence, but I think that is just a pipe dream anyway. While the option is there, a range 10 spell that requires 3 rolls to succeed and does d3+1 damage to my Monstrosities just doesn’t seem worth it. I will instead just fuel one of said monstrosities up and let them have a go at the same targets, with less dice needing to be rolled. His feat is also coming up surprisingly useless. Maybe its the armies I am fighting or my piss poor timing of the feat, but I’ve not been able to catch a ton of models in the feat that enables me to actually call down the wrath of my army. I’ve got until September to try and get the perfect storm happening. Finally, Rampager has been somewhat of a disappointment, though it could be because I rarely think to use it because of the amount of Warmachine that I end up playing against. If I can ever get a Warpwolf Stalker backwards in front of my army, that’ll be the best day!

The army overall is fairly close to what I expected after reading the spoilers, but has some aspects I didn’t see coming. The Subduer just isn’t pulling its weight, and Thexus, for one, seems to be much less involved in the games I’ve played. I didn’t consider a Hex Blast Assassination as a thing until I did the math, but there are times when it’ll be very good to drop a pile of damage on their caster, provoking a flight or flight. The Warden seems to be the perfect arc node substitute, at 6 points, but his large base size and slow movement are really hampering him from being a good stand in.

I cannot wait for the next caster, and the final reveal of Thexus Theme list. I’m not sold on ambushing Drudges, but I’ll try them a time or two before I put them aside forever and ever. I’m also very likely going to end up picking up another Agitator and two more boxes of Drudges. I do not look forward to painting them, though they will likely be easier now that I have my palate pretty much picked out

If you come down to NOVA, make sure to hunt me down and get a game against the Cephalyx, who will hopefully be fully painted by then. finishing off the Overlords and Agitators sometime this week! Oh, and don’t forget to follow me on twitter for random tidbits and updates.