(It took me nearly a week, but here it is!)
Never would I have expected Cryx to get the first fill faction spoiler/design concept article first, let alone that the article would be so massive! I enjoy design talk for games way, way more than I ought to so these next few weeks with each of the 12 factions is going to be extremely enjoyable! join me on the other side for my breakdown of what was written and what I think about it.
Before we really get into the hard details of the Insider, I want to set up a little bit of where I am coming from before I read the insider
Cryx, for me, has always been about the assassination vector. Even though they have had great attrition potential over the last edition, I was always leery of getting into a protracted fight. Each turn I was playing the game was another turn that my opponent could take me out. I’m not a real fan of that.
instead, I would try to take down the opponents caster the first chance he gave me, and then keep pressing him it if failed, pulling the initiative to me and trying everything I could to maintain it. In this Third edition, I really was hoping to see the return of stronger assassinations, a toning down of durability and a strong push for ending the game before time ran out. I was aiming high!
Today, as I mentioned, the insider came out about the design and development of Cryx. Here are the highlights:
- Faction Identity should matter
- More friendly Faction spells
- Core Traits
- Dark Magic
- Powerful Debuffs
- Potent Attack Spells
- Dirty Tricks
- Numbers over Capabilities.
- Warcasters are the linchpin
- Troops inherently weak, made better with Casters
- Won’t have a strong Ranged Game
- Slayer is the fulcrum of MK III
- Bonjacks Toned down offensively, but cheaper
- Necrotechs changed to account for the wrecks not being there
- Scarlock thrall changed
- Bane Warriors (ex-Thralls) changed
- Bane Knights Changed
- Curse Changed
- Mechanithralls Changed
- Bile Thralls Changed
- Changes to Deneghra
- Changes to Scaverous
- Changes to Wraith Engine
- Changes to Machine Wraiths
Lets just make our way through this then, why don’t we?
Faction Identity for me is a huge takeaway. I’m invigorated when they say that they have scrutinized the factions to make sure that they still maintain their identity after all these years. Each anthology book and each year that goes by produces more models and more opportunities to water down the brand, so to say, and having the development team ensure that it was taken into account is en-heartening.
The Faction Identity is on point. Though I’m not a fan of undead swarms, the focus on Magic, speed, offense and dirty tricks were what i felt the faction embodied. To see it reiterated from the Lead Developer is reassuring.
Cryx’s weakness of ranged attacks and generally low, but fixable, MAT makes an appearance, too. While I like the Cryx shooting pieces, they are a little weaker than other factions, and for good reason. Debuffs are always better at range, and good range makes debuffs very powerful.
This next portion is an interesting glance into the eyes of game designer:
“One of the first things we did was set the price of the Slayer. This was actually the first keystone that we used as a gauge to slowly determine the point cost of literally every other model in the game I wanted the ferocious Slayer to be balanced against some of Mk II’s most potent solos. From there, every other warjack would fall into place.”
If, as the entry, states, the 10 point bare bones Heavy is the pivot mark for the whole game, I really think I will like the results. Putting that much weight on the slayers fairly flimsy shoulders is pretty tough on the little guy, though. It does give me confidence that the models are going to be fairly level set. I don’t know how you go about doing the actual balancing, but I think that a mid level heavy, if anywhere is a good place to start.
This is where the article takes a turn and delves right into the number crunching parts. First, Arc Nodes
“One of the things I missed most from Mk I was Cryx’s access to cheap, virtually disposable arc nodes. In the change to Mk II, we made these warjacks more powerful because we lost the more granular point system that enabled them to remain proportionally cheaper compared to other warjacks. To justify their new point values, we had to tune their independent offensive abilities up a bit. With the addition of Power Up in the new edition of WARMACHINE, they became even stronger, especially because the warcaster would no longer have to expend any resources to run them into position for a withering spell assault. After a great deal of debate and a number of playtest iterations, we determined something had to give. So, we dialed back the offensive power of these models (in order to bring them much closer to their Mk I capabilities) and reduced their DEF to 14. This put them in a good place with a Deathripper now sitting at 6 points.”
I think I like this change, though the original shock of DEF 14 was a bit hard to accept, especially at the start of the article. I got a very strong feeling that we were going to be getting smashed in the face with the bat. Overall, though, it is not as bad as I thought it was going to be. The guns that were mounted on the Arc nodes were extremely powerful, and being less powerful won’t really be so bad, if we are looking at the Deathripper as the baseline: MAT lost a point, DEF lost a point, POW on the Jaws lost a point. The overall gain of being 6 points, though, is well worth it. Deneghra can take 8 death rippers at the minuscule cost of 4 actual army points. This is magnificent! With the ability to toss around spells with near complete impunity, spellslingers might be back in a big way, able to really get their spells where they want to and when they want to. The hit to defensen will make a big difference, but the overall loss to offensive combat isn’t a terrible trade by any stretch of the imagination, and the total package at 6 points seems to be fair. Compare with Eiryss, who is the same points, with 25% of the boxes. She does much more work on her own, but she doesn’t have an arc node mounted to her forehead.
The new arc nodes, will test the new points system. With so little between them, functionally, it is going to be hard to really differentiate them. It is hard to get extra work out of the point you pay for the Deathripper and Ripjaw now, I imagine that will be exacerbated, as opposed to ameliorated with the new system. Each arc node now has to be weighted against how many Deathrippers you could have gotten for the same points. I look forward to seeing how they solve the dilemma as I see it. This single change to the Arc Node has the potential to swing the pendulum of the faction as a whole away from pure attrition to either combination assassination or sole assassination. I strongly hope that this is going to usher in a return to those playstyles of old.
The Deathripper/arncnode change could be faction defining. The next change, that of the Necrotech, will not be. It does represent a change in philosophy around warjack wrecks (which were removed from the game) and abilities that use them. Though its covered in a different forum post, he sums it up here:
“Another place for significant change was Cryx’s support solos. The removal of wreck markers meant that we had to reconsider how the Necrotechs put Scrap Thralls into play. In the end, we decided they would collect scrap tokens from warjacks that were destroyed in their proximity. These scrap tokens could be used to either put Scrap Thralls into play or spent for a bonus when repairing warjacks, basically taking the form of spare parts. Somewhat trickier to use, this benefit felt like a nice trade-off for the removal of wreck markers.”
I see almost no implications here, the Necrotech simply got better. With the removal of skill checks from the game and of wreck markers, he will become more of a mid-line scavenger, picking up wrecked jack parts to either make bombs or fix jacks. I know I really enjoyed their presence in MK II with only a sparse population of jacks. I can assume that this will hold true for 3rd edition.
The Change to the Scarlock that came next brought with dire portents of doom. Immediately, I was disappointed.
“The Skarlock Thrall, another venerable model in Cryx’s lineup, also underwent some significant changes. The Spellslave special rule has lost the ability to cast Upkeep spells, largely relegating it to casting offensive spells. That’s right. Your warcasters will be casting their own offensive upkeeps from here on out. Furthermore, Spellslave is now a Magic Ability rule, and each model with Spellslave now has its own Magic Ability score. To offset these changes, the Skarlock has acquired the Dark Fire spell, which enables it to collect soul tokens from the models it slays with this offensive spell. This guarantees the Skarlock always has something to do.”
Casting offensive spells was never what I brought the Scarlock for. His use was in his utility to be a free upkeep spell every round. Now, with that utility stripped, he is a combat solo, something cryx is flooded with. It is my sincere hope that that leaves room for some support based Scarlocks in the future. I also hope that there is more that I don’t see, or that is unspoiled, though it could also be a portent of reduced focus efficiency from solos and support pieces. With Power Up and better/more battlegroup spells, maybe the need to be so Focus intensive will go away. That would be interesting for all the factions, but would also mean that they have to give some fond caresses to the lower focus casters in order to boost them up a bit. It may even spell the end of Ritual Sacrifice. all of these changes also have ramifications with Aptimus Marketh and the Succubus, but I am less worried about them at the moment: My heart belongs to Cryx.
Next came a readjustment we had to all know was coming deep in our hearts. Bane Thralls.
“Looking at the Bane Warriors (previously known as Bane Thralls but changed after we realized “Thrall” was one theme and “Bane” was another), we determined they gave Cryx a melee combatant that had a withering effect on the enemies around it. We knew that we wanted to preserve both Dark Shroud and their Weapon Master ability, but something needed to change. Looking over the other Banes, we identified Ghostly as a unifying, iconic ability among them (that, and Undead…). So, the Bane Warriors traded Stealth for Ghostly and re-costed accordingly.
At the same time, we identified Bane Warriors as the heavy damage dealers of the Bane army.”
This gives us a start of the evaluation of the Cryx Units. Generally, they should be expected to be a little under the average or even baseline due to the caster and debuff centricity of the army. We knew there were a few outliers that needed to be addressed. Bane Thralls were a primary culprit. How they were addressed, though, I am not sure that they will be toned down. If anything, their only change was a net positive. Stealth was removed, which was an extremely potent defensive ability. Except when it really wasn’t. It was an extremely binary solution that was either ignored, or was crushing. Often, your opponent would be prepared and there would be a feeling of wasted points, or your opponent would come unprepared and get shellacked. Ghostly is always useful, and I expect this to increase as the game will have more terrain on every board. I also think that ignoring free strikes is an enormous benefit, and being able to get that Dark Shroud, on their now 1″ melee range will be that much easier. I really, really like the new Bane Warriors.
Even Bane Knights, for all the reductions they took, still look solid. If everything remains the same, the reach attack is slightly less reliable if your not charging, but they get two attacks a turn (with vengeance) and I can see it being worth the trade off. Add in the removal of the movement distance from Curse, and it seems possible that they are both going to see just a bit less play, opening up the options for other units based on Speed, not just on sheer damage.
What I don’t get, however, is the role they are supposed to play differently. Are they going to be more accurate? Do they get to be MAT 7 with Reach and a slightly lower P+S while Bane Thralls are slightly more inaccurate and Slightly slower? I’ll wait to see the full rules so that I have a better grasp of what each is supposed to do.
to go on a limb here, I think that means that most units are done, because there are so many that I think it would be a massive feat in order to define all the units now uniquely, and then still get a unit in a book down the road that his its one place and use. Its not impossible, I just find it difficult to fathom.
Next were the big offenders of MK II, one throughout the entirety of the edition, the other for the latter third. Mechanithralls and Bile Thralls.
“The Mechanithralls were also beginning to feel out of step with the direction we were taking the new editions of the games. Like the bonejacks, they were just feeling a little too strong for the point cost we wanted to see them at. With Cryx’s numbers-over-quality theme in mind, I knew we wanted to keep cheaper Mechanithralls rather than maintaining them at the Mk II power level at an increased cost. We reduced their DEF to 11 so that even fast-moving zombies would feel less defensively inclined than soldiers actually trying to stay out of harm’s way. We also reduced the POW of their Steamfists by 1, slightly reducing their damage output even as they retained their two attacks and potent Combo Strike (albeit with a reduced P+S).”
These changes, honestly, mean very little. The -2 P+S on the Combostrike is pretty tough to hand out, but I understand. P+S 15 on a 1 point or less trooper is extremely potent, especially with the quantity of MAT buff/DEF Debuffs we have handy (though that could change, I expect it not to) everything else is really just fluff. P+S 10 v 11 isn’t that big of a deal, and DEF 11 instead of 12 is a non-problem. Hitting 12 was so trivial that an 11 does not seem to make it any worse. They are all going to die.
The biggest change for these guys is the near universal rule that applies to all return or add to reanimation spells. Instead of being allowed to activate, the models that come into play now must forfeit their actions, which is an impactful change. no longer moving up your necrosurgeon to get the perfect charge lane with your three new mechanithralls. if your front line is wacked, you’ve got no backup.
“Bile Thralls were also substantially changed in the new editions. We wanted to do something to tame Purge while still enabling the Bile Thralls to keep their (corrosive) teeth. We eventually settled on limiting the purge to an SP 8 template that would automatically hit every model touched by the template. This had the effect of somewhat limiting their potential lethality (in terms of square inches, if nothing else), making them more targeted and less dangerous to the rest of their own army, and adding some distance to their overall range. In the end, it felt like a solid trade-off and an excellent answer.”
Good. Bile thrall templates were the best, but they also became a priority target when they didn’t need to be. Instead, now with a purge being a spray, more people might not worry about them. Increasing the RNG by 2″ isn’t exactly making up for the reduction in affected area, but it surely makes the opponent more accepting of buffs for Scaverous.
Speaking of Scaverous, Even warcasters were recalibrated, and I really look forward to seeing all the new abilities, some of which are sure to be a lot of fun (like the forum spoiled Field Marshal: Counter Charge on Venethrax) They give us Denny 1’s card, and I think its the benchmark, much like the slayer, which everything else was paired against. She’s got a little bit of everything and also hasn’t really changed a lot. Parry is now an Icon, and Soul Taker is codified: I assume that each one has its own set of conditions.
Her spells and Feat remain relatively untouched, with a few caveats. Her feat no longer affects Focus or Fury, which seems warranted, as it was extremely potent when applied to the opposing caster. Dark Seduction Returns at a cost of 4, and Ghostwalk got a reduction in cost.
These changes are good, all of them. Dark Seduction looks expensive, but can be very powerful. Removing an enemy from a critical spot AND getting him to kill one of his friends will be extremely potent, especially in the SR setting where you can free up two models in a zone with one well placed spell. Crippling Grasp took a well deserved hit with a change in the basic rules of the game. No longer does a simple penalty to your speed mean that you cannot charge, which makes Crippling grasp just a touch better for your opponent as you can’t just save a model within charge range by casting a spell on it that also cripples four other stats. It is no longer going to fly and that an amazing thing.
Scaverus, too, get a touch of the juice with at least one ability allowing rerolls. I like the concept, though I don’t know how well it plays in reality, though Soul Trappers are a thing now, I suppose.
“Other models like Lord Exhumator Scaverous received all new and potentially defining capabilities like Knowledge of the Damned, which states, “When a model in its control range makes an attack or damage roll, this model can spend a soul token to cause that model to reroll that roll. Each roll can be rerolled only once due to Knowledge of the Damned.”
Finally, we come to my favorite spoiler of the whole article. The Wraith Engine. Released as it was in MKII it was an awesome sculpt full of lackluster rules. I played it for some time, then abandoned it in favor of models that performed any role on the battlefield. This new blurb gives me hope that one of my favorite models and concepts in all of Cryx has a Resurrection in front of him, and he, along with all the battle engines will experience a renaissance.
“And holy god, the Wraith Engine… No longer satisfied with merely gathering souls, the Wraith Engine now produces Machine Wraiths from its victims. Soul Bondage states, “Once per round when a living enemy warrior model is boxed while within 2˝ of this model, you can remove the boxed model from play and replace it with a Machine Wraith solo.” Furthermore, it has flat-out gained Incorporeal and been bumped up to SPD 7, and the Machine Wraiths themselves have traded a wall of text for simple effectiveness: now possessing a melee attack, the Machine Wraiths can temporarily take control of warjacks they hit in combat.”
Each and every line of that is good Cryxian soul food. Creating incorporeal models? Incorporeal itself? Speed 7! everything above looks like it is going to combine together for an awesome set of models. I cannot wait to try them out on the board.
Overall, I think Cryx did well. A few pieces got hit, but overall it feels like balance. I think that PP is striking the right tone of negativity to positivity and is actively trying to temper attitudes across all the Factions.
It will be ok.