Mind Bending

I’ve made my way through Exulon Thexus and am psyched to be moving back to Cryx for a bit before jumping ship to Skorne. However, I figured I’d give final grades and general thoughts on the Cepahlyx contract before moving on.

Warcaster: Exulon Thexus

The Cephalyx army is lead, as of writing this article, by a single warcaster – Exulon Thexus. His atrophied self has given him great magical powers, but at the cost of his physical prowess.
Thexus is not going to be getting into many personal melees during his games, and his stat line makes sure you think twice before allowing him to mix it up. DEF 14 and ARM 14 with 15 hit boxes is extremely vulnerable. Two charging P+S 11’s will kill him, on average dice. His Combat stats are no better, with MAT 5 and P+S 9 making it so that every additional attack costs him three focus, which incidentally, is how much Hexblast costs. His melee weapon is very important, though, in getting him to use his hex blast as a finisher on the enemy. Speed 6 pathfinder can give him a threat range of 19″ from where he is standing from which he can toss two Hexblasts with two boosts. Or two Hexblasts and a TK.
Spells 

His spell list is great, as I’ve gone over before. Over the course of my games, though, I’ve not managed to find a single time where I’ve cast Influence. I’ve also been unable to cast Rampager as well, mostly to playing against Warmachine, and one of the times I played hordes was a character beast. Deceleration gets popped out most games, Simply to protect my army on the way in, and TK is always invaluable. Psycho Surgery I’ve not really found a great use for, as my Monstrosities tend to form my second wave, and attack themselves in waves, so I’ve either had only one wounded, or none wounded and the rest are dead. The spells, thankfully, run themselves. If there is worrisome shooting on the board, toss up Deceleration and wait it out. If there isn’t, start TKing models into or out of position.

Feat

I’ve found the feat to be extremely powerful, but also extremely tricky to use. Even with Thexus in the back of the army, with his speed and Control Area, it is exceedingly simple to reach out and feat people before you can really get good use out of it. This means that judging threat ranges will be a necessity to getting a good feat off. Unsuspecting opponents will sometimes walk into the feat, and that can be exceedingly nasty for them, but most of the time the opponent is adding 2″-4″ extra to your threat range until your feat is popped. I’ve also used it, rather unnecessarily, for disrupting shieldwalled troopers. Most of the time, though, these troopers are then attacked by a wrecker, who would have worried about that not at all. It is extremely useful in disrupting things like defensive line and take up, though, so keep that in mind.

Abilities

Spell driver is great, and I use it every game. I could not imagine Thexus being even remotely useful without it. That said, make sure to pay attention and to draw LOS and range from Thexus if its at all possible. None of his spells are longer range than his CTRL, so you can always premeasure to the target.This can save up to 4 damage on a Monstrosity, which can be a legitimate lifesaver. That’s an extra attack! Sac Pawn almost never comes up in actuality, but almost always comes up pre-game, when they are judging how to kill Thexus. Its extremely hard to kill him with ranged damage, as the warden is ARM 20 against ranged attacks with both Shield Guard and Sac Pawn. Finally, don’t forget Aggressive Reaction. This allows Monstrosities to not only charge for free, but also to run for free if an enemy model is within 10″ of him. This can be extremely easy to achieve with it being such a long range, and with his access to TK and his Feat.

General Gameplan

Put a Wrench in the Gears
With the Build that I use, the game plan of the Cephalyx is first and foremost attrition. Everything they have is dourable and tough, both in the in game sense and in the rules sense. Lead with the Drudges, they are cheap and expendable. I’ve never really managed to do anything exceedingly great with them, but simply eating attacks and slowing down the army is good enough. Almost every game they gum up the works long enough for the wreckers to get in their and do their job. The Overlords and the Mind Benders really do a good job cleaning up the infantry that gets jammed on the drudges, as well, allowing you to continue to roll forward. One of the traditional downsides to a tarpit unit is that its static. In the Cehaplyx build, they are not. Sprays clear off the front line, and the front line either advances up or runs in to engage. Without the sprays of the Overlords, I just don’t think I’d get far enough in clearing the troops off in order to keep pushing forward. With the speed of the main line troops being 5, though, your going to want to keep pushing deep into the enemy. You don’t really have the luxury of repositioning mid battle, especially without pathfinder.

Rolling Thunder
Behind the front line of Drudges of both types, you want to have a bunker of TAC, behind which are generally hidden a Wrecker, a Pistol Wraith or two, and a machine wraith. way beyond that, but still positioned behind the cloud to make LOS difficult, is Thexus. As the waves of Drudges are overrun, you’ll be exposing the hammer of the army: Wreckers. They will be the ones that move in to take out key heavies on the feat turn and afterwards. You know you’re going to be trading a wrecker for a key piece of the enemy army, but you want to make it hard on them to do it, if you can. The Pistol Wraiths, Machine Wraiths and TAC are here for that. Death Chilling heavies, threatening the possession of a warjack or blocking charge lanes with Machine Wraiths, and putting up clouds to block LOS with TAC really can set up the exact two-for-ones you need to move the game in your favor. Overlords can even chip in here, assuring that any infantry that clumps up to remove your newly exposed heavy gets removed from the board.

Final Countdown
After the game has progressed through the screening drudges, and the hammer has been applied to the army, you’re generally running on borrowed time. Hopefully, you’ve jammed their infantry long enough to remove them, and then stalled out and piece traded with a wrecker or two. Your Drudges are long dead, as are most of your TAC. You’ve lost an agitator or two in getting the Monstrosities to their targets, as well. Your final Monstrosity, in my case the Warden, is likely sitting beside Thexus and waiting further instructions. Its finally time to take the game out. It is unlikely that you’ve scored many control points, as the slow, durable army here has just stuck it out and been chewed on. You may have gotten a few, though, from sheer exhaustion of your enemies forces. This is when your game plan is decided. From here, both options to win can be achieved. If you’ve built 2+ control points, try and go for the scenario win. This works doubly well if you have no wreckers. Move, run if needed, Thexus barely into a zone as far away from as many enemy models as you can, and get the warden into the game to make sure you keep the enemy busy and not attacking Thexus. They are likely to get desperate here, so make sure that whatever remaining Natural Cepahlyx (Overlords, Agitators, Dominator) are either ready to pick off those running contesting models, or are ready to run and contest themselves.

However, if the game is going your way, its time to put your foot on their throat. The Warden is here to jump into the action, most likely with a free run from Aggressive Reaction. If a Warden got to the caster and failed earlier, which is not entirely impossible, you just need to be able to dump a Hexblast or two into them. Pow 13 spells are legit game ending shots, and there isn’t a lot they have out there to save them, as upkeeps are knocked off on hit. A double boosted Hexblast does 24 damage, which is nothing to scoff at. If you’ve not gotten a Wrecker to the caster, now is the time to do it. Running the Warden over to within range of a TK + Hexblast is never a fond proposition for the ‘caster, and ending it with a Wrecker to the face is even less entertaining. In this mode, your remaining Cephalyx models are there to provide you the clear lanes you need to finish off the army. Make sure to double or even triple up key enemy models when possible, as hinging a game on a single die roll is never a good concept.

Always remember, though, that Thexus has a 19″ threat range with Hexblast himself. If the game is on the line, feel free to make the daring move, charge something and drop those nukes on the enemies head.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Strengths
  • Model Durability: Almost all models have either high ARM, high DEF, or a pile of wounds
  • Quantity: Everything in this list is a bargain for its price. Outside of Thexus, everything can be sacrificed for the win
  • Versatility: Almost every model has ways to deal with more than one situation, use what is needed at the given time
  • Quality: Outside of the Drudges, everything is very good at what it does.
Weaknesses
  • Speed: Very little in this list can react swiftly, you’ll need to deploy well and make sure you stick to pushing forward despite losses
  • Difficult Terrain: This cost me at least one game, and you need to be able to either play around it or deploy to mitigate it.
  • Magic Denial: So many of the best plays the Cephalyx have are Magic Abilities that its hard to plan your turn if there is a lot of Spell Denial
  • Officers: The Mind Bender, Mind Slaver and Overlord units all have extremely vulnerable leaders to Magic Attacks and Spells that its hard to keep them safe under bad circumstances.

Model Ratings

Scale:
0 – I’d never bring this unit with this warcaster, and the unit has heavy negative synergy
1 – I’d bring this only in a gimmicky list centered on this model/units and its in game interactions.
2 – I consider bringing this model/unit with this warcaster, with the proper support units and/or as a points filler
3- When taking this caster I  debate bringing this model/unit every time
4- When taking this caster, I find it hard to leave home without this model/unit
5- This model/unit is an Auto-include for this caster.

Monstrosities
Wrecker -5: I currently never leave home without 2, and I itch for a third
Warden -4: This model is a 6 point Arc Node with a great suite of defensive tech
Subduer -3: This model has its place, but I feel it does the same job as a Wrecker, but not as good

Solos
Agitator-5: I bring all three, every time. In addition to bringing Instigate, they have a great offensive spell.
Dominator -4: While I currently love the TAC with Thexus, I could see leaving home without them on a future occasion
Pistol Wraith -4: I run two, every time, and they lock down models really well. I could get rid of them, but I’d really just rather not.
Bloat Thrall-1: I just don’t have the heart or desire to try and make this guy fit in every list. Its just not working
Machine Wraith-3: While I’ve got a ton of use out of them, I do play against a lot more Warmachine than hordes. It could be that I just have the right group of players.

Units
Overlords -4: These models do so much work on their own I couldn’t possibly make it through a game without them. I hate playing 35 points because they are that good to me.
Mind Bender and Drudges -5: The stone cold base models in the army. Their ability to clear troops and buff Slaver drudges earns them a spot every time.
Mind Slaver and Drudges -5: The foot troops of the army are required material for war. Don’t leave home without them. I’d not take more than a single unit, though, as they’ve never proven to be more than a nasty tarpit to my opponent.

Well, that’s it! now, on to Cryx!