On Sunday, I’ll be playing my first game, or games, of warmachine in over a month. I’ve got some choices here, about what I am going to field, and I’ve still not made up my mind. So, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m really digging the new Goreshade I model, and want to field him. I’ve also been toying around with my favorite Skorne ‘caster Xerxis’ Fist of Halaak, and finally, I’ve “hung up” the Cephalyx, but being my most recent army, I can slide right easily into them after such an extended period of time off.

Cephalyx

These guys don't kill Shocktroopers

The Overlords are Coming! 

Cephalyx are easily the go to here, with an army I am have both used recently and don’t believe that I have completely mastered. They are cool, fun and I really need to finish painting them. Playing them again may get me motivated to paint, but I don’t know. I’ve got to paint a friends commission first, and I am super, super behind on that.

Cephalyx Pros: Most recent army used, awesome models, perhaps a drive to paint! three of the people that are going to be there haven’t even seen them.
Cephalyx Cons: Two people there have fought them multiple times, After 17 games I think I need a change of pace, not Cryx.

Cryx

Goreshade 1

Walk in the shade of Gore!

Cryx is whats itching my brain right now, and is making me want to pull out all sorts of lists, tops among them Goreshade I. He’s got a new sculpt, which might invigorate painting, and he’s a caster I’ve given up on before. Sometimes, I just want to try and polish a turn, and maybe Goreshade has something in there worth shining up. I’m not particularly sure, as almost everyone there will be playing warmachine, that I will get the best use out of him. Playing those bad matchups, though, is whats going to pull you through in the time of crisis where you end up playing like that in a tournament.

Cryx Pros: Cryx, new sculpt may invigorate painting, strange list that could be incredibly fun, chance for a second look at a caster, Banes!
Cryx Cons: No Hordes, chances of being played in this situation is normally low, Unfamiliarity with both list and caster, Still need to design list I am happy with.

The Fist of Halaak

From Whence Pain comes.

From Whence Pain comes.

Xerxis is extremely tempting, even though I don’t have his army completely assembled yet. Besides being a favorite of the Skorne ‘Casters, He’s got a freaking cool theme list that allows me to take just a flood of medium based infantry. The list I wan’t isn’t perfect yet, but that is OK by me, because its still going to be really, really good. However, with Exigence coming out soon, just a few days, really, I want to put off any Skorne awesomeness until after I can get and try out some of the new stuff. It is likely, though, that something in exigence will release that pops the Mean Mountain/Fist style of play and ends its reign of terror. Who knows!

Skorne Pros: Awesome army, Awesome caster. List will have limited shelf life, I get to use Tiberion
Skorne Cons: Exigence Awesomeness still to hit the tables, tons of unpainted models, will not invigorate painting concepts, Skorne on the horizon anyways.

Looking over the lists, I think that unless one of my friends asks to play against Cephalyx, I am going to bring Cryx. Goreshade I has just got to hit the table before I dive completely into my Skorne.

That means that I need to finish up a list, and do it soon!

The last list I had started to mull about was something like this:

Goreshade 1+6
*Nightmare10
*Slayer6
*Reaper7
Bane Lord Tartarus4
Darragh Wrathe4
Warwitch Siren2
Warwitch Siren2
Mechanithralls (10)5
Mechanithralls (10)5
Necrosurgeon2
Necrosurgeon2
Satyxis Raiders (6)5
*Sea Witch 2
56

 

I’m still not convinced that I want or need the Mechanithralls, and that is a big boat, some 14 points of beef that I could be using elsewhere, and I am also concerned, the more I Think about it, about the issue difficult terrain will posses, especially when I know I’ll be fighting a lot of Warmachine.

Slayers and Nightmare are definitely in, just because I want to test them out, but if I get hit with the fact that this list is terrible in game 1, I want to be able to change it up for the second game, if not to much.

I think I am just going to bite the bullet and grab Bane Knights in exchange for that 2 units of Mechanithralls. Not only are my banes Super Sweet but they also mitigate pathfinder and speed, and should be able to capitalize on both the Deathwalkers Steal Breath ability and the Bane Thralls Dark Shroud. That leaves me with 4 points left if I want to keep the Satyxis in, and 11 if I don’t. I’ve got a unit of Bane Riders that could hit the table, and might be able to take the heat off the Bane Knights for a turn or two while they both advance, especially against charges with Darragh Wrath around.

Actually, I think I’ll do just that. Its probably not the perfect list, but its a place to start my short time back into Cryx before exigence. The list I’ve decided to bring to my Sunday is this:

Goreshade I+6
*Deathwalker-
*Nightmare10
*Slayer 6
*Slayer6
Bane Knights (10)10
Bane Riders (5)11
Bane Lord Tartarus4
Darragh Wrath4
Warwitch Siren2
Warwitch Siren2
Necrotech + Scrap Thrall1
56

I think That is going to give me the pathfinder I need with both the Bane Knights and Bane Riders while also providing me speed and accuracy with MAT 10 speed 7 Riders and the Speed 5 Reach Bane Knights.

I like that this list is just chock full of reasons to be terrified of melee, though I have 0 shooting. If I end up running against someone with a Haley 1 or another caster that can just rattle off my dudes before I get there I’ll be in huge trouble, but such is the way of life. I’m also not going to bring a second list, as much as it pains me. While I can rely on 2 lists to bail me out of certain games, many times I will be list locked and have to play this list in a suboptimal matchup. Being able to make that game just a little easier is how I am going to win it, and it starts with making sure you take every game you can get as a learning experince.

 

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.

 

I’ve had a couple chanced to try out the Jam Theory with Coven, and I’m fairly happy with here its lead me.  I’m getting comfortable enough with them that I could take them to a tournament, paired of course, with someone who covers the gaps that they have in their play style. They bring something unique to the table and have some very good matchups that they can force, but I don’t play them like a number of other people I’ve seen, either in lists or articles, play them.

To start, I build completely different lists. I’ve seen a number of people focus on their focus stat (9) and Infernal Machine. They combine them together to make a fairly efficient jack- delivery system. This has leveled up with the addition of the Kraken to the arsenal, as that large of a points investment seems to need some serious backup to make sure it works.

I just don’t see it. I understand the draw, as Infernal Machine is a fantastic spell for an offensive jack, but just because they have a focus of 9 and a good jack spell doesn’t mean I want to run jacks with them. instead, because they are vulnerable to just a few hits, I want to run an army as fast and far ahead of them as I can. That does mean that I am running a metric ton of infantry.

I’ve tried all three Jam units in the army: Blackbanes, Soulhunters, and Satyxis Raiders. I could probably drop Blood Witches in there as well, but I just don’t think I have the guts. 13/13 is really hard to defend, and one turn of incorporeal could be worth it.

-Satyxis Raiders – Champs, as expected. I’ve been unable to fit the Captain in, though, and I really think the army could benefit from having her in. What makes the difference, honestly, is that Occultation on turn 1. It allows you to swing up the field as fast as possible without having to worry about many of their natural counters. Picking off the Sea Witch becomes much harder, as well. You’ve still got to watch out for Gun Mages, but that is about it. With advance deploy, I tend to set them across from either a tempting ‘Jack to put a few points of feedback on a ‘Caster, or slot them to draw out some shooting. Nyss Hunters, Longgunners, ect. Anything that just does standard bullets. Typical targets. Turn 1 is definitely Occultation, possibly cast by the Scarlock. Turn two tends to be Ghost walk. Many times, I’ve been tied up in combat, and being able to re-position is fantastic, or I want to get as deep as I can into a shooting unit as is possible. They also natively work amazingly well with the feat. Going up to Def 16 v. Melee, and Def 18 v. anyone shooting them while in the feat is just spectacular. Veil of Mists is also completely bonkers, able to up their Defense to 18 v. Shooting and block LOS behind the cloud. Pairing them with Bile thralls will almost inevitably guarantee you a flank

-Blackbanes – I’ve run them a few times, and their speed 7 and Incorporeal tends to catch people off guard. I tend to run them as a minimum unit, with the goal of jamming on turn 2, and then going in and either forcing the enemy to turn around and deal with me, or going after support solos. Auto-fire is an amazing ability to threaten free strikes with, and even casters don’t really want to incur MAT 8 hits. Their ability to compound with the Def 16/Stealth Satyxis means that many enemy options (Gun Mages) that can deal with both can only deal with one. Many times they have to choose which unit they’ll let through, and neither of them is really worth it. One of the best combinations, though, is that you can drop Curse of Shadows on many of the units with Magic Weapons and wander through them freestrike free, only to drop effective POW 12 hits on them. As a Jam unit It does its job really, really well.

Soulhunters – Soulhunters are legitimately our fastest, jammiest, craziest jam unit. sadly, though, they pay for it in points costs. Though they are only a single point less expensive than Satyxis +UA, its a 6 man difference. The wounds they have are barely tolerable, as a single POW 20 attack takes them off the board, and even a simple POW 10 can do it, with a POW 12 able to punch though them fairly often. I ran one list, against Iron Mother, where I brought all three jam units. There wasn’t a lot of shooting in that army, sadly, but having Force Barrier, Stealth (on the Soulhunters), and Incorporeal Jam units was a really satisfying experience. I understand the MAT 6 of the Soulhunters, mechanically, but I am just not a fan. If there isn’t a defense debuff on the field, they are getting really, really chancy. You also have to bring Darragh Wrathe with them, in order to completely up the crazy factor. Though he is almost always worth it, I’ve just not found it worth the opportunity cost.

I’ve also considered Bane Riders and, as I’ve said, Satyxis Bloodwitches. They aren’t as fast as the Soulhunters and they don’t have the Advance Deploy of the Satyixs Raiders, so they’d have to be a replacement for the Blackbanes. Both units have their strengths, with the utility and minifeat that the Blood Witches brings, and the durability and power that the Riders bring. The Blood Witches are 3 points cheaper, and may net you an extra arcnode or solo while the Riders are a touch more expensive, meaning you’ll have to find a point to shave off here or there. Both benefit hugely from Stealth, but that means taking it off the Soulhunters or the Raiders. Curse of Shadows is the Bane Riders best friend, allowing them to plow into the back lines of an army. Their incredible durability here is a plus, making them a serious back line threat. Both of the units have a fairly static MAT 8, allowing them to take out higher defense targets consistently, which is something that the Blackbanes don’t have. I’ve got to get in some time with both to see about the efficiency

Beyond the jam, though,  one of your main consideration is pinning the opponent in the jam. The thing about jamming infantry is that they aren’t generally sturdy or powerful. They tend to tie enemies in place and keep them busy. This tends to force the opponent to try and figure out ways around or through them. You have to give them serious qualms about doing so. You want then to be concerned not only about being jammed, but about once they break through. The models that are going to break through easiest are either high defense models that can ignore free strikes and/or models, or high durability models that can run over or through them. You need solutions to both. I’ve personally taken to two of the oldest infantry in the book: Bane Thralls and Bile Thralls. I don’t think I’ve ever needed more than a minimum unit of Biles, and I can’t conceive of taking less than the max Banes. They solve both problems that the jam units can’t handle, and do a fine job of it. Note worthy here is the saturation of Targets that can really only be dealt with by Gun Mages. I know I keep harping on them, but if you can figure out how to stymie the Arcane Tempest, you’ve got most of the rest of the shooting units on lock down as well. Biles, Banes, Satyxis and Blackbanes each are solvable with the Gunmages. Combined, however, they give the opposing player a significant problem to solve.

Tartarus deserves his own consideration here because I know he’s a very powerful piece. In a single list format I would definitely take him in the list (however, I probably wouldn’t take this list!). In a multi-list format, however, it becomes a lot harder to get him in due to character restrictions. Honestly, though, I don’t think he is needed in this list. The Bane Thralls are doing a very specific job, and that is keeping the heavies and Colossals honest, and keeping them from simply going for the coven. Tartarus fixes some very specific problems with the Bane Thralls – accuracy, and speed, and neither need fixing in this list. Speed is completely countered by the fact that the jam units are up in their front lines, boxing the opponent in, allowing you to position the banes where and how they need to be. In addition, anything that makes it over/through your lines is going to be pushing itself closer to the Bane Thralls. Tartarus’ Accuracy buffs won’t be needed on the targets that the Bile Thralls are not going to clear out first, making it largely unnecessary. I really think that if you’re building a list like this, keeping Tartarus for your Second list should be a real consideration.

I want to try and shorten my articles a little, make them more reader friendly, so I’ll be coming back with more thoughts next week!

The rules for the Cephalyx have been spoiled!

I really like when new things shake up the foundation of the game, but I also like when new, crazy things are released just for the fun of it. Enter the Cephalyx, here to take your mind and enslave it for their purposes.

 

The spoilers that I’ve been perusing, which are the same on Focus and Fury, Muse on Minis and Privateer Press, are very interesting. It very much seems that their playstyle is going to be a combination of Protectorate and Cryx. Everything in the list can be dangerous, and they are combining together to make a superpowerd cannon of death.

Lets get to it!

Exulon

Exulon Thexus

SPDSTRMATRATDEFARMCMD
6454141410

Focus:8
Health: 15
Warjack Points: +5

Pathfinder
Sacrificial Pawn [Monstrosity]
Aggressive Reaction: While one or more enemy models are in this models command range, Models in this model’s battlegroup can run or charge without spending focus

Spell Driver:When this model casts a spell, it can channel the spell through another model in its battlegroup that is in its control area. Once a spell is cast this way, the model it was channeled through suffers d3+1 damage points.

Spell List

  • Deceleration
  • Hex Blast
  • Influence
  • Psycho Surgery
  • Rampager
  • Telekinesis

Feat: Telekinetic Tide: Push each enemy non-Warlock, non-Warcaster model currently in Thexus’ control area 2″ in any direction.

Ok, man! what a pile of rules! This guy has a ton of neat, control based craziness that I just love, especially seeing as I’ve been playing the coven recently, and they have kinda the opposite shtick: The Coven delivers your army, and Thexus wreaks hell on the incoming army. While his defensive stats are pretty poor, deceleration does a lot to protect you from enemy ranged threats, bumping both his armor and his defense up by 2. Sacrificial Pawn [Monstrosity] pushes that threat down even lower, having an ARM 17, 36 HP model right next to you to eat whatever bullets do make it past your Def 16. You do sacrifice a single potential arm point, but with the rest of the army also benefiting from the +2/+2 within the massive 16″ control area, it won’t really matter, even pushing the Monstrosities armor up to 19, making most gunshots simply a flesh wound.

Psycho Surgery further amplifies the ability for the army to simply shrug off guns. It also makes the Monstrosities function thematically similar to warbeasts, and by spending 2 focus, he heals not only himself up to 4 wounds, but also his entire battlegroup. Convenient for the turn that you end up eating a few shots and taking a little damage all around due to Deceleration, Sacrificial Pawn, and a few Spell Driver rolls.

Rampager, Telekinesis, and Influence all demonstrate Thexus’ complete control over the minds of others. TK is considered one of the best spells in the game, and the combinations that this can engender with the models in the Cephalyx army are just crazy. Backstrike bonus’ nearly all the time, especially for the Monstrosities – If your in charge range, your in TK range, and your most likely going to be turned around to get pounded from behind. Rampager is just a continued play on the theme. Pulling a Warbeast not only forward, but out of control area and likely facing their own army for the inevitable frenzy is going to be a glorious day. Influence is generally a dead spell, but the ability to combine it with TK means that you can, very likely, slide the model you want into just the right spot to hack down up to 6 of his friends, Very likely with the backstrike bonus on all of the influences for an effective attack roll of 10! You could even set up a caster to be hit by a back strike of his own models up to 6 times! The possibilities are endless! With a run of 10″ and a spell range of 8″, on a heavy warbeast that can trample, it can be very possible to get the drop on enemy casters.

Have I been talking about how good Telekinesis is? Oh, I have? How about 16″ of TK in every direction! do you want to set up that chain of gorgeous influences? Do you want to have a great target for Rampager, or even that fantastic Hex Blast? Great! because his feat is all of that! Now, it does take a bit more finesse than just using TK, but the two combined can be just amazing. Once you TK the enemy to face his own army, Thexus’s Feat Telekinetic Field will just be an additional 2″. I really think this feat it going to be ball busting. Between moving models out of zones and breaking up any form of LOS blocking or positioning that the opponent was using, its just going to be a nightmare.

Unlike both Convergence and Retribution, this army looks to be sticking on me. Its part of an army I already own and play, and seems to have both a cool play style and ascetic.

While the Warcaster looks good, that is to be expected. Whats really cool is that the rest of the army, as spoiled, looks very cool as well.

The Monstrosities are the star of the show, however. Cheap, moderately durable models with a modest damage output. Exulon starts the game with three options: offensive, defensive and utility.

First, the offensive
The Wrecker

Monstrosity 3

SPDSTRMATRATDEFARMCMDFAPC
510541017-U7
Weapon- 2x POW:8 P+S 17
  • Eyeless Sight
  • Reach
  • Beatback
  • Chain Weapon
  • Chain Attack: Bloodbath

For a mere 7 points, this guys is a complete steal. Two reach P+S 17 attacks with Chain weapon is great for taking down those pesky medium base, high wound troopers. Beat back is going to ensure, as well, that he can eat all or nearly all of them in a turn. Given how good beat back is on the Bronzeback, who does not have reach, I can only extrapolate how well its going to be on the Wrecker. While his MAT 5 will keep him from realizing the greatest of potentials, its still going to be good enough (stay tuned for the Agitator!) . Being able to load this guy up with 3 focus and get 6 attacks at base P+S 17 is just going to be a joy.

Next up we have the Subduer

Monstrosity 1

 

SPDSTRMATRATDEFARMCMDFAPC
510541017-U7
Net Launcher- RNG 6 ROF 1 AOE 3
Weapon - POW 6, P+S 16

 

  • Eyeless Sight

Net Launcher

  • Catch: If this weapon directly hits an enemy model with an equal or smaller base, Immediatly after the attack is resolved the model directly hit can be pushed any distance directly toward this model. After the Model directly hit is moved, this model can make on normal melee attack against it. After resolving this melee attack, this model can make additional melee attacks during its combat action.
  • Quake

This guy is actually one of my favorites, as much as his range on his weapon is terrible. The possibility of rampagering a heavy into range of the Subduer, having him shoot it in the back, knock it down, and drag it over to the heavy to get pummeled to death is really a pleasant thought. The AOE on the gun is neat, because it acts as an AOE knockdown, under certain circumstances, and then will pull the model hit over to the Subduer, as above. Catch is a very neat rule, being a much less focus intensive version of Drag, albeit on a much slower platform. Not having to damage is just a really good upgrade. I like the little guy! and for only 7 points!

The last, defensive minded, Monstrosity
The Warden!

Monstrosity 2

SPDSTRMATRATDEFARMCMDFAPC
510541017-U6
Weapon: 3x POW 4 P+S 14
  • Grand Slam
  • Eyeless Sight
  • Follow up
  • Shield Guard
  • Buckler +1
  • Hard Head
  • 2 open fists

This fellow looks down right the coolest. With the facemask and the clamp-hands, he just has mean written all over his model. He isn’t the greatest rules complexity wise, but I know the rules he has well. I’ve played with Titan Gladiators for years, and the potential of a Grand Slam + Follow Up has kept opponents on their back feet the whole time. At SPD 5, he is slightly slower than the SPD 6 Gladiator, but again that is mitigated by TK and the Feat, when needed. Shield Guard existing for those few times you want to save a particular grunt, solo or leader is going to be invaluable. He’ll be staying behind the front lines just a touch, waiting for his chance to dig in there, knock something down, and have one of his brethren go in there and beat it to a pulp.

I’m really starting to feel the faction Contract has a lot more shenanigans, and its going to make it a freaking blast to play, and I’ve only gotten through the Warcaster and Monstrosities!

There is a Unit and two more solos in the Contract that we have the spoilered rules for, and one of them is the lynchpin of the whole setup.
enter, the Agitator

Cephalyx 9

SPDSTRMATRATDEFARMCMDFAPC
66641413932
Weapon- POW:5 P+S 11
  • 5 health
  • Pathfinder
  • Fearless
    Anatomical Precision
  • Magic ability 7
    Influence
    -Instigate(star action) while within 5″ of this model, friendly drudge and monstrosity models gain + 2 on attack and damage rolls. Instigate last for one turn
    -Psychic Assault(star attack) SP 8 pow 12 that ignores LOS
  • Sacrificial Pawn[Monstrosity]

He has, right off the bat a good suite of rules, but I expect that nothing will compare to his Instigate Action. The ability to tune your Drudges and your Monstrosities up will be nothing short of awesome. Your Monstrosities go from ho-hum to very, very good. Wreckers are MAT 7, P+S 19, Subduers RAT 6, Wardens MAT 7 with 3 P+S 16 attacks. with the Agitator in play, it is unlikely that we will be boosting to hit on all but the most elusive targets, and for that we have headbutt, quake, and Telekinesis. Very little is going to be escaping the clutches of our heavies or our infantry.

The second solo is the extremely fun Dominator, a Unit attachment for Merc units to allow them into the army.

dominator

Cephalyx Mindbender
SPDSTRMATRATDEFARMCMDFAPC
66641413911
  • 5 Health
  • Mercenary Attachment – Can be added to a small or medium based non-cephalyx mercenary Unit.
  • Officer
  • Pathfinder
  • Anatomical Precision
  • Granted: Fearless
  • Granted: Tough
  • Linchpin – When this model is destroyed or removed from play, all other models in this unit lose fearless for one round and immediately flee
  • Ranking Officer
  • Sacrificial Pawn[models in this unit]

His entire purpose in life is to grab a good mercenary unit and toss it into the Cepahlyx army to make them fight for him. Among the great contenders are Nyss Hunters who add a significant ranged element, Boomhowler who adds a serious tarpit – though it wastes tough, Steelheads to form a wall of cheap, difficult to remove models, and Alexia – a fan favorite for all the living models that the army will have. While the punishment for getting him killed is rather severe, keeping him safe with Sacrificial Pawn, a Warden, and proper placement shouldn’t be any thing difficult. Push comes to shove you can always TK him to the proper position.

Lastly, there is a new unit for the army.

Behold, the Cephalyx Mindbender!

Mind Bender

Cephalyx Mindbender
SPDSTRMATRATDEFARMCMDFAPC
56641413926 models:4
10 models:6
Weapon: 2x POW 2 P+S 8
Drudge Grunt
SPDSTRMATRATDEFARMCMD
585211154
Weapon: POW 4 P+S 12
  • 5 Health
  • Fearless
  • Officer
  • Pathfinder
  • Magic Ability 6
    -Adrenal Flood(* action) Rng 6 target Drudge Grunt gains +4 MAT and STR and can immediately advance 4″
    -Concussion pulse(*action) center a 4″ AOE  on this model or a grunt the spell is channeled through. Other models in the AOE suffer a pow 12 magical dmg roll
    -Psychic Assault
    Psychic Projection: This model can channel through grunts in this unit that are in formation. When it does, you can choose up to two more of those grunts and cast the spell once through each, even if the channeler is engaged. Grunts in this unit that channel a spell this way are then removed from play
  • Sacrificial Pawn[Drudge Grunt]

Grunts:

  • Eyeless Sight
  • Fearless
  • Tough

Now this is a cool unit! It can spray almost everywhere, detonate piles of clustered up troops, conveniently put there from the feat, and can roid rage a trio of Drudges into P+S 18. MAT 11 monsters.  There is very little not to like from the unit, and with a combination of proper use of Spells and Feat, I don’t think much infantry will live, and Armor based models have a lot to fear as well. Under excellent circumstances, you could pull a caster  backwards into the oncoming hugs of three of these little guys and end the game right then and there.

Finally, the Cephalyx aren’t anyone’s mercs, and every one of them has the Selective rule. They can only be brought in a list that specifies them as participants, and the Contract Puppet Masters is exactly that:
-Can include Mercenary Cephalyx units, and up to one Mercenary unit, provided it has the Dominator Attachment.
FA of Slavers + drudges and Overlords are increased by 1 ea.
In addtion, the Mercenary unit with the Dominator gains AD, And the army can take Bloat Thralls, Pistol Wraiths, and Machine Wraiths that are all considered Mercenary models for the game, instead of Cryxian.

I am very excited and glad I’ll be at lock and load. I will very likely be trying to score an art print of the Cephalyx in order to get it framed like my Kraken!

 

 

 

As a follow up to the Tier List concept I’d talked about a little bit back, and as a further discussion to the battles I mentioned a little after that, I’ve managed to get a  few games with the Coven, and am starting to think a lot about how to get them to work both well and consistently. Though they aren’t considered competitively powerful in MKII, they, along with the Bloat Thrall and the Machine Wraith, were bif factors into why I ended up picking Cryx back in 2006. Sadly, all three took a large hit in MK II.

The Witch Coven still grabs me, though. They represent everything I want in a spell slinging faction: plenty of Focus giving them a huge control area, an impressive spell list, and a magnificent feat. They are, however, unbelievably fragile, with complicated activation considerations and huge blocks of rules that make them fairly intimidating to parse out.

But using challenging casters is nothing new to me. I’ve always gravitated toward sub par models and units – the challenge of getting them to work is something I really enjoy. There are times, like with Revenant Crew, when it is not really worth the effort, but most times I find a comfortable niche that the model excels at and end up pleasantly surprised.

Without further ado, Lets get started, shall we?

The Witch Coven of Gharlghast, Cryx Warcaster!

Witch Coven

I’ll want to just delve completely into their rules, as Context is going to be key to figuring out what is going on.If you’re already familiar with the Covens rules, head on down to the concepts  here.

The Coven consists of four separate models: Hellenana, Morgaen, and Selene, the three witch sisters, and the Egregore, their giant necromechanical relic orb. Each model has its own statline, though the witches are the identical to each other.

Witch
SPDSTRMATRATDEF ARMCMD
645416128
Egregore
SPDSTRMATRATDEFARMCMD
61111317-

As you can see, none of it is incredibly impressive. DEF 16 is good, but ARM 12 is abysmal. Their CMD and MAT are both on the lower side of bad, and to cap all off, each of them has only 8 wounds. Though It does make for a 24 HP caster under certian specific circumstances, its not particularly pleasing to see on  the card. Oh, and don’t forget that they do have weapons, though they are a measly P+S 7.But its the rest of the card that matters. Like the fact that they don’t have have a focus stat. Instead, they have the following rule:

Coven – The Witch Coven of Garlghast shares a single focus pool, and Witches do not receive focus individually. The Covens base FOCUS is three times the number of Witches in play. When the Coven replenishes its focus, the Egregore receives those focus points. The Covens control area is measured from the Egregore. Any Witch in the Coven’s control area can spend focus points on the Egregore. The Egregore cannot be affected by focus-reducing or focus-removing effects. Each focus point on the Egregore gives each Witch in the Coven’s control area a cumulative +1 ARM. Effects that ignore focus points overboosting the target’s Power Field also ignore this bonus. The Coven can use their feat only once.

The Coven rule gives them a focus of 9 for most of the game, and if something untoward  happens, it could possibly get down to 6 or even as low as 3, though its unlikely. The rule also makes the Coven immune to Eiryss’s disruption bolts portions of Reznik and Severius’s feats, Kaelyssa and Rasks Energy Siphon attacks, and a host of other abilities. In addition, it means that each model is a separate activation. with the advent of Warcaster Units, this can throw some people off. Each Witch, and the Egregore, activate separately, giving a great range of crazy interactions to the entire Coven. Having the Egregore, an independant model as well,  as the central point of the feat means that Nightfall is much more likely to reach where you need it while keeping the individual Witches fairly safe.

There are two other abilities that combine make the Coven a rules headache for newer players, but also completely unique in the scheme of Warcasters: Arcane Nexus and Perfect Conjunction.

Arcane Nexus – When a Witch casts a spell, the Egregore is the spell’s point of origin. The Witch must have LOS to her target, but the Egregore does not. All LOS modifiers are based on the LOS of the Witch. Witches can channel spells normally. The Coven can have up to one attached model; This model is attached to the Coven, not to an individual Witch. The Coven can have only one of each of their upkeep spells in play at a time.

Perfect Conjunction – A Perfect Conjunction is established anytime the Egregore is completely within the Triangular area between all three Witches and each Witch has LOS to each other witch. During a Perfect Conjunction, reduce the COST of spells cast by a Witch by 1.

So, what does all of that mean in non-rules speak? It means that when a Witch casts a spell, it actually originates from the Egregore, not from the Witches themselves. Though the Witch must be able to see the target, everything else eminates from the Egregore. This allows, in desperate times, the Witches to circumvent cover, stealth or other similar Line of Effect based rules to win the game

In addition to the Witches, the Egregore has its own set of rules. Stealth, Pathfinder and Construct, as well as Circular Vision, Steady and Companion make up the fairly common rules that allow it to wander around the board pretty much unhindered, as you would expect from a strange floating magical Orb. It has two additional rules that affect the Coven and how they play: Black Mantle and Sympathetic Link.

Black Mantle – While in B2B with this model, friendly Faction models gain Stealth.

Sympathetic Link – When this model would suffer damage, you must assign that damage to one or more Witches instead, divided as you choose. A Witch cannot be assigned more damage points that she has unmarked damage boxes. This model does not suffer the damage assigned to a Witch.

Black mantle is used to moderately protect the coven while in perfect conjunctions. while its not required to be in B2B, the Witches have nothing but their 16 DEF to protect them at that point, so stealth is better then nothing, and is very good many times. When its bad, though, its exceptionally bad.

Sympathetic Link is a major part of playing the Egregore. With the defensive stats of a Cryx heavy, its only really protected against POW 10’s, with anything higher than POW 12 causing serious discomfort. Thankfully, stealth is a good defense the majority of the time, with the same caveats as above for Black Mantle. The ability to rearrange damage as I see fit, however, means that I have around 21 damage before anything really negative takes effect. Taking damage through the Egregore is actually preferable to taking damage through the Witches do to the redistribution, but is still not something that you should be looking to happen. While its key to keep each Witch alive, keeping the Egregore safe is just as important. its much easier to hit the giant, glowing orb.

We’ve finally come to the spell list and feat, and man, these are good.

Spell List: (hover for complete wording)

  • Curse of Shadows – armor debuff and delivery system
  • Stygian Abyss – direct damage
  • Veil of Mists – control, terrain mitigation and delivery system
  • Infernal Machine – Warjack buff
  • Ghost Walk – positioning aid and delivery system
  • Occultation – delivery system

Its a very, very good spell list for getting the generally vulnerable and low defense models in the Cryx army into the enemy intact, and the same theme is taken into their feat, Nightfall:

While in the Coven’s control area, enemy models suffer -2 MAT and RAT and their LOS is reduced to 5″. Nightfall lasts for one round.

I’ll admit, it doesn’t look like much, but with the massive 18″ control area centered on the mobile and generally sturdy Egregore, it is brutal. Delivering an army with the feat is a fairly simple task thatcan put your opponent on the back foot and really give you a tempo advantage. Most of the time, you want to drop it turn 2, but sometimes its a turn 1 feat, if you and your opponent are both very fast, or you went second and want to see a model or two get to the enemy.

The Egregore is generally sturdy, and fairly safe during the feat, but know any melee tricks that the enemy has. while under the feat, they are going to be looking to take advantage of the Egregore’s relative vulnerability. Make sure you know your opponents walking threat range, as a lack of Line of Sight does not prevent the warpwolf Stalker from walking up 6″ and using reach to pummel you from 8″ out. The same can be said of guns: make sure any guns that can walk out of the feat also don’t have some insane 19″ or better range. strangely, many times its better to get closer to the Sniped or Marshalled defenders so that they can’t walk out and shoot the Egregore. One good set of spiked dice, and your heading for a bad day.

Good, we’ve gotten though the basics of the coven, their rules and a little bit of the thoughts behind them, but in order to make them work, we kinda have to know how they tick. While rules are good, the story is more in the details.

The Coven is an extremely versatile caster that allows you to deliver your army to the enemy with unprecedented flexibility. They have the capacity to either mitigate or completely ignore almost everything on the board. Terrain is taken care of with Ghost walk and Veil of Mists, guns with Nightfall and Occultation, free strikes with Curse of Shadows and Ghost Walk, and alpha strike capacity with Infernal Machine, Nightfall, and Stygian Abyss. They force your opponent to react to you, creating the decisions that are so common when playing against Cryx, where your opponent can’t get a leg up.

What is so frustrating about them, though, is their vulnerability. For all their ability to gain stealth, their combined 24 HP, their 16 defense and their unparalleled freedom of activations, they are incredibly hard to keep alive, and there are some insanely hard matchups out there.  If the enemy is allowed to build momentum, especially after the feat, there is little chance for the coven to really survive the onslaught. Unlike most casters in the Cryx stable, the Coven does very little to increase the potency of the faction, with Curse of Shadows their only reliable debuff, and no offensive buffs at all. Even their feat doesn’t help the Cryx army kill better, its simply extrapolates on the theme of delivery.

They key, as obvious as it is to state, of the Coven is getting your models to the enemy as fast as possible, and that means taking models that really matter once they are delivered. The Coven loves self sufficient models that can get tons of work done once delivered . However, the Covens fragility means you can’t typically wait out the enemy attrition style and that a single miscalculation or a solid play by the opponent can leave you on the back foot, leading to your eventual downfall. It only takes a RAT 9 (7 aiming!) POW 13 attack to remove a Witch from the board. While the models that ignore stealth are rare, its not impossible for those numbers to be able to draw a bead on one or more members, or even the Egregore.

Instead, I’ve come to the conclusion that a Coven army wants to be as deep into the enemy’s half of the board as possible, as fast as possible, and it has four major effects on how you play the army.

First, the opponent comes out of the gate reacting to you which immediately gives you tempo advantage, enabling you to capitalize on both your spell list and your feat. Good feat timing in this situation can drop the hammer on the opponent both mitigating their best possible turn and enabling you to overtake their position and get carve deep into their belly.

Second, it gives the Coven breathing room. The Witches want to be able to sit comfortably at the back of your army and make sure they reach the enemy. With their ability to vanish off the board at the slightest glance of an enemy model, keeping them as far back as possible is key. They still want to threaten scenario, however, and allowing them to get in position to dominate either zone at a moments notice is the first step to that, with keeping the opponent on their side of the table, is the first step to that.

Third, playing off the theme above, it allows them to play a fantastic scenario game. Its much less difficult to control or dominate scenario zones and destroy objectives when the battle lines are drawn nearly completely past the zones. It can also allow for a very sudden end to a game, provided your willing to sacrifice one of your witches. Dominating from a vulnerable position matters much less if loosing your warcaster does not loose you the game, especially if you know you can just repeat the domination next round whether they remove your Witch or not.

Fourth, and finally, it puts their warcaster in a very large bind. They can either try and put themselves into the game, therfore exposing themselves not only to your army, but to the very real Spell Assassination that the Coven represent, Or they can try and hide near their own table edge.  While the assassination aspect of the Coven has been toned down a bit since the MKI heyday (Perfect Conjunction providing boosted hit and damage, and Stygian Abyss being P+S 13 with Crit Blind), it can still get the job done with a little help, and a single Shadow Bind crit can really make sure it does the job next turn. Three boosted damage POW 12’s seriously threaten arm 18 or less, averaging 15 damage against ARM 18. Three boosted to hit Pow 12’s have a ~82% chance that the model is pinned in place suffering -3 defense for a round,Both circumstances are scary at best, and can be used against almost every defense and armor value, due to the crit and high starting hit value.

This leads me to value, in a coven list, things that are both fast and defensive, with abilities that make the opponent unable to engage how they would like.

The three that really jump out to me are: Soulhunters, Satyxis Raiders, and Blackbanes Ghost Raiders. Each of these is speed 7 or greater, has ways to mitigate terrain, and innate defensive tech. Though Darragh Wrathe is required for the Soulhunters to get full use out of them, Ghost Walk can somewhat make up for not having him in the list. That eats a large portion of your 50 point standard list. Normally the challenge would be to get to the opponent on your terms, but we’ve covered the spell list.

With Raiders, UA, Captian, Soulhunters, Blackbanes, and Darragh, you’ve ate a massive 34 points. The addition of three arcnodes, two Warwitch Sirens, and a Scarlock eat a further 18 points that gives you a total of three points to play around with, don’t you feel lucky! Aiakos fits right in there, and with his four focus, stealth, 11.5″ walking threat, he fits right in!

As I said up top, I really think that the Coven holds a fantastic spot in Cryx. Yes, they have their problems, including the ever prevalent blast damage, no ability to change the Cryxian to hit probability, and the threat of Killbox on scenarios, but their capacity to step outside of the standard Cryx attrition or armor crack list makes them feel just a little roguish. I’m not convinced I should play them competitively, but I’m sure as hell going to test them out!

 

 

Over the weekend, at Adepticon, Privateer pre-released the hordes equivalent of the journeyman warcasters for Hordes: Una the Falconer, Horgul Ironstrike, and Tyrant Zaadesh. Each of them brings different skills and abilities to their faction, some with more effect than others.

While I think Una and Ironstrike are neat, what I really want to talk about is Zaadesh. Skorne is my Primary Hordes faction, and I see a ton of really cool tactics with this guy.

So, who is he? Tyrant Zaadesh:

Zaadesh full

on the surface, he doesn’t look much like the other two Lesser Warlocks. He gives no discount on warbeasts, but he also has a battlegroup unlimited in selection. Both Una and Horgul have Their warbeast selection limited: Una to Warbeasts with flight (currently only the Rotterhorn Griffon, Scarsfell Griffon, and Razorwing Griffon) and Horgul to Pyre Trolls and Slag Trolls. Zaadesh’s greatest flexibility comes in his Warbeast selection.

Zaadesh is a fairly middle of the road fighter: MAT 6 and P+S 12 are nothing to get extremely giddy about. Magic Weapon is nice, of course, and reach is always welcome, especially with SPD 6.DEF 13 is good, but not great, and ARM 15 is durable enough, especially with 4 fury.

His card is nice and short: two spells and two rules. The first spell, perdition, is a pretty good one. Now, It’ll get a lot of hate from a lot of people. Its an offensive spell on a 4 fury caster, which means you’ve got an especially poor starting point for hitting your target. However, I will not be fooled. I originally though the same exact thing about Wrong Eyes Voodoo Doll, and I was proven horribly, terribly wrong repeatedly. Wrong eye doesn’t even shirk at going after high defense targets either. Boosting is an immensely powerful ability, turning the hit total of 11 into an average hit total of between 15 and 16. Choosing the right target helps of course, but you can reliably hit almost every infantry model in the game with Zaadesh’s Perdition. POW 10 isn’t anything to write home about either, but any infantry under arm 15 is most probably taking a dirt nap, and arm 16 is a good bet too. You can push the envelope by boosting to damage, but this would be extremely dangerous. Leaving him with no fury and only 5 wounds will likely end with a Zaadesh sized bloodstain. his range of targets for perdition, overall, is fairly good. You do have to know what your getting into when you cast it though. Pushing the Def 14 and/or arm 15 envelope is going to be a tricky proposition, and most times not worth it. The payoff, though, can be devastating. Moving a beast into position early is not to be underestimated.

Especially with his second spell, Tag Team. A new spell, as far as I am aware, and a really good one at that. Granting Gang: Battlegroup is a pretty impressive ability for an upkeep spell. This is doubly true when a number of Skorne warbeast have reach: Molik Karn, Cyclops Savage, Cyclops Brute, Cyclops Shaman, Tiberion, Titan Sentry, Despoiler, and the Rhinodon. Enabling the gang bonus here is pretty simple. The real bonus, here, is the universal MAT bonus, something that Skorne on its own isn’t very capable of. Only three casters have any way to boost MAT: Carnage, Carnivore, and Death March. Having the ability to bring a Warbeast MAT buff is incredibly powerfull, and the capacity for warbeasts to boost on the fly really takes it up to 11.

The first of his two rules is the basic lesser warlock setup, stating that he is not, for rules purposes, a warlock. He does, however, have the capacity to act as one, with the following rules: Battlgroup Commander, Control Area, Damage Transference, Forcing, Fury Manipulation, Healing and Spellcaster. This makes a difference for a few of our models, but overall, is just clarifications.

The second rule, though, much like his second spell, has me a bit giddy. Protective Battlegroup gives every warbeast in his battlegroup an Improved Shield Guard rule. He can only activate it once a turn, no matter how many beasts are nearby, but a free transfer for Ranged or Magic attacks is pretty good.

Tyrant Zaadesh, Lesser Warlock

Tyrant Zaadesh, Lesser Warlock

All of the Hordes warlocks, however, are in a strange place in the game. Unlike in warmachine, hordes really doesn’t need to promote the use of their heavies and lights: the rules of the game require them. Therefore, Lesser warlocks, unlike Journeymen Warcasters, will not be reducing the load on the leader of the force and making them more effective. What they will be doing is taking the place of a unit or slew of solos. This makes evaluating them moderately tough, and their value must be gauged with that in mind. Sometimes, however, you want a few extra warbeasts on the board for their animus or for a specific task, and your warlock doesn’t have the fury capacity to run all the beasts you like. In steps the new Lesser warlocks. With the ability to control warbeasts, especially specialist ones, and allow your Warlock to focus on bringing more big bruisers, it could be just what the doctor ordered.

There are a number of curious interactions, as well, with some of our support models. Because he’s not a warlock, you cannot attach Marketh, and he cannot use either spellslave or Soul tap for Zaadesh. The Mortitheurge Willbreaker’s Beastmaster works just fine, as it is the Willbreaker himself who is forcing the beast. Ancillary attack works too as its targets friendly faction warbeast, which is exactly what Zaadesh brought along. Zaadesh Cannot move fury to, or leach from, an Agnoizer, as the rule explicitly states Warlock. Craft Talisman, either from a Cyclops Shaman or Farrow Bonegrinders, cannot be applied to Zaadesh or any of the lesser warlocks because they are not warlocks, as the rule specifically calls out.

 

Zaadesh has a number of interesting setups that I want to try out. Some of them are less tenable than others, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t rattling around in my head. I have three, specifically, I am looking to grab.

1: Zaadesh, Titan Sentry, Cyclops Brute – This is just the Pain Nugget. With the ability to shrug off three ranged attacks a turn before transfers, he should have no problem getting into the mix. Those same three shield guards will allow him to drop a perdition an a vulnerable target in order to launch the Brute into a target, setting up the titan for a MAT 7 P+S 20 turn, and then getting the Brutes activation on top. That is not gonna make anyone happy.

2: Zaadesh. Reptile Hound x4 – This is a crazy, just for chuckles event. Tag Team will allow up to 8 MAT 9 P+S 10+3d6 (4d6 when charging) attacks against the same target. That can really shred something, given the right opportunity.

3: Zaadesh, Cyclops Raider, Cyclops Shaman. – This is the support package with Teeth. Taking the burden of these models off of the Warlock and onto Zaadesh will enable them to take more of the beasts they love. And, if the enemy does break through the lines, there will be a surprisingly effective MAT 7 P+S 13 Shaman and Raider sitting behind the lines with Zaadesh.

 

Zaadesh brings some interesting play to the faction. He’s not going to be in every list, and sure isn’t going to be the first pick on the list, but he will be around often enough that it’ll really be useful knowing what he does and his strengths and weaknesses.

Oh, and speaking of knowing what they do: Una and Horgul!

Una full Ironstrike full

 

I hope I can punch this out in a timely manner, Battle reports seem to take a lot longer than I’d like.

Over the past two weeks I’ve managed to play two separate games of Warmachine, One against Circle, and the other Against Protectorate. I used the same list both times, Run by my good friend Deneghra

Continue reading

This year at Lock and Load, I am mostly going to be playing in the Iron Arena, but there was a specific concept that really grabbed me from the get go, and I’ve really decided that tournament is something I’m actually going to be really trying to make work. It’ll be probably the only reason I bring Cryx along with my Motley Gators all the way to Seattle, so I want to make it worthwhile, and its going to eat most of Friday.

What is Spelldraft? Well, In a nutshell you get to pick a list and caster, but don’t get any of their spells, good or bad. You get broken up into groups of 8, in which each person is given a pack of 8 cards, and you draft them one at a time, passing the pack of spells to the next person in line once you’ve got yours.

This, to me, opens up all sorts of cool combinations. Some casters are held back by their sub-par spell list, and could be a monster with the right spells in their arsenal, while others are built around signature spells that make them hum, and may become duds.

There are a pair of questions that I’ve not yet had answered in any really good way about the format that have me both terrified and curious.

1) Are the packs randomized spells, or is there some structure to them. Looking over the rules, no one mentions anywhere anything about randomization. This is an enormous factor. If its random, you can get packs with both Temporal Barrier and Iron Flesh. Arcane Shield and Purification. That means that you’re making some serious decisions about what card you pull and what card you pass on to the next players. It also means, however, that the pack could contain 2 rifts, 3 Influences, Arcane Blast, Dust to Dust and Arcantrix Bolt. While Some people may get more or less use out of all those spells, many will not. If you end up with a dead slot, and someone else has all 8 useable spells, that can be a really tricky setup to overcome. This sets up nicely into number 2.

2) is every spell going to be represented, or will there be multiple of the same spells, or will only certain versions of an effect be used? This is the one that poses the most problems when trying to plan out a list. If I know all the “superpowered” spells, the Bombs, to steal a term from the MTG drafts, are going to be cut I’ve got a pretty solid thought process on what I want. If every pod of players is going to draft the same 64 spells. with some 370+ spells, I can imagine there is a great amount of wiggle room here, That gives us nearly 7 pods of 8 to work with, without any duplication.

There are a lot of really bonkers combinations out there: Harbinger + Temporal Barrier; Terminus + Train Wreck, Reznik, Wrath of Ages + Tow. I don’ think, however, with that many spells and combinations, you can really bank on getting one spell, or even one type of spell. Take the Coven or Scaverous for instance: they both have a method to reduce their spells cost by 1. There are plenty of 2 cost nukes in the game, but even if there are 30, if they use the whole 370, thats only 8% of the field. Divide that 8% over 6 pods, and you’ve got a very slim chance of seeing even one of them. People will, no doubt end up with their favored combinations through luck, chance and skill, but I’m pretty sure I am not going to bank on that.

The list building part is pretty simple, really. Take stuff that is self sufficient, that holds its own, and can do what it needs to do with no spell support from the caster. Thankfully, Cryx has a ton of unit and solo support that works very well together without spells from the caster.
Unfortunately, that leaves our jacks to be kinda shunted to the side. I don’t think Aiakos will be legal then either. My basic list, baring some tweaks after I look into things, is this:

Bane Thralls
-UA
Bile Thralls
Bane Lord Tartarus
Nightwretch
Nightwretch
Leviathan

I have three points left over to spend on something, but its my first pass.
Everything there is just good. Nothing is chaff and there to take up only space. The Leviathan is especially key, because if the draft goes south, I still have a plan. Everything works without spells, Nightwretches could be upgraded to Ripjaws, as well. No frills, but also none of the utility I am so used to. This part seems simple to me.

Finding Points for the Withershadow in 35 Is hard!

Finding Points for the Withershadow in 35 Is hard!

where I see a problem is a clash of strategies when it comes to the draft, and therefore the army building itself. Everyone is going to be fighting to get and hold those good spells, and they aren’t going to be passed unless they have something better in their pack. If you don’t get it in the first or second pull, expect it to be shitty, or something that is undervalued, and I think that a list built on cards that are typically undervalued except by the right casters could be a real winner. Bring a caster and a pile of cheap jacks, and the Withershadow combine. Full Throttle, Superiority and other spells become your friend, and other will probably not have build for them. Bring a caster that focus’ on direct damage spells and try to leverage them through.

Putting all your eggs in one basket is risky though. Betting on a better, all around plan seems to be another way to really get the gears going. Take a caster that is suitable in Melee, that doesn’t rely on any spells to get the job done. Have them have a gun. Make sure they have Battlegroup support build into their card. Have a good feat for 35 points, and build a self sufficient army. Make sure you have at least one arc node. Grab every spell that looks the smallest bit good. This seems a really good way to hedge your bets, but I think it’ll fall to the created skew lists that take advantage of undervalued cards.

I’ve lumped the Cryx casters into several broad categories, though I am willing to entertain dissension of these categories.

Looks Good:
Skarre II: Seems to have all the tools to fill the second, generalist option. Seas of fate, blood trade, her feat , lifetrader and a hand cannon make her a standout.
Asphyxious I: His feat refills his focus, and with some of the fantastic 2 point spells out there, he could really be killer. In addition, anything that boosts his initial threat range of 11″ to something more reasonable could see him with a significant melee threat.
Goreshade I: Free bane thralls as a feat? No rules on the back of the card to make him need specific spells, with no good spells of his own? The only way is up!
Goreshade II: His feat is great, and his weapon is good. Automnatc stationary is like sustained attack, above.
Deneghra: Her feat and stealth combine for some really good synergy without a spell list.
The Witch Coven: I really like that they can make spells cheaper every turn. With the Withershadow, Warwitches, Scarlock and Deathjack, I could turn it into a massive focus factory. They still suffer the same problems here, though, that they do everywhere else, and will die to any sort of attack. Thankfully, there is no killbox, and no reason for the girls to get close.

Looks Bad
Deneghra II: Feat is good on its own, and Dark Banishing is pretty great, but the rest of her oomph is in her spell list.
Mortenebra: Interface and Repair are good, but there is just something here that screams that she needs more from her spells than I would be able to make up.
Asphyxious II: He would be a literal Feat with legs. most of his greatness comes from Hellbound, Parasite, and Caustic Mist. No thanks.
Lich Lord Terminus: Him only being a MAT 17 Pow 16 without Malediction really hurts. Tough is good, as is the 10″ spray and Sac-pawn, but I’ll pass.

No Thanks
Lich Lord Venethrax: With a small feat to begin with, and all of his muscle tied up in some really great spells, he’s just got nothing going for him.
Scaverous: Wile his feat is an amazing spectacle, the Def 14, arm 17 caster on a medium base with no set spell list is a really dicey proposal.
Skarre I: Her feat is gangbusters, but without her Sacrificial Lamb factory and Dark Guidance, I don’t think she can cut it.

I’ve got a lot of choices to make here on out, and I’m not completely sure about any of them!

I’ve decided to do a new type of Irregular article. Instead of showing off the models that I’ve painted and just be “hey, lookie!” I am going to, in addition to showing of the models, kinda breakdown the model, the game system its in, and what role it brings, or does not bring, to the table. Some of these, like the one I am bringing you now, will be deep and thorough because I’ve played the system for so long. Others, like the WWX and Relic Knights, will be more expectation based!

This one is higher on my priority list, because they just performed like a horrid stinking mess in my last game, and I really want to just work out why they are worse, what they do, and why its no good for almost every list I can think of.
However, I’ll try to be both positive and critical, when the needs warrant it.

 

Untitled

so, lets start at the top:
The statline:

SPDSTRMATRATDEFARMCMD
665413127

its a pretty sorry setup, right off the bat. Speed is average, though 6 isn’t anything to be ashamed of, and STR 6 is also pretty average for an infantry model. Their MAT is a significantly below average 5, and their RAT is significantly miserable at 4 to not consider using their guns at all. DEF 13 is solid for a Cryx infantry model, but isn’t anything to be proud of. To compare with other infantry:
Cryx, 8 (66%) ten man units have a 12 or less, 4 (33%) have 13 or higher.
Cygnar:3 (33%) at 12 or less and  6 (66%) have 13 or higher
Khador: 4 (66%) at 12 or less and 2 (33%) have 13 or higher, and
Protectorate: 4 (66%) at 12 or less, and 2 (33%) have 13 or higher. 

Honestly, this is the first time I have run those numbers, so to speak, and it interests me in a couple ways, and makes me think a little higher of def 13 on 10 man units.

ARM 12 is the armor of chumps, and they die to even pow 5 blasts on average dice. The paltry command of 7 makes a few of the rules to come even worse.

Just looking at the stats, everything cries to keep them in the case or the foam, and not on the table, but there are a couple of interesting rules that make your head start tickin’, trying to find a way to use them well.

Weapons:
P+S 9 Cutlas (melee)
Pow 10 Pistol (range 8)

Traits: Undead – This is nothing new to Cryx, and has a few really nice interactions. Immunity to fear and fleeing is the big one that affects both target selection and unit coherency. The ability to ignore terror checks in any manner means that I can commit them harder to any position that a non-fearless troop could, and still expect them to hold ground and not flee at the worst time.

Abilities:
Gang: This ability is the staple conditional MAT increaser. Originally it represented an incoherent mob of rag tag, dubious abilities that got threatening only when they ganged up on targets. Now, it is added to many units to represent team tactics, savage ferocity, or simple to keep points down. Because it Increases MAT while 2 more models of the same unit are attacking the same target, it can be tricky to use, but its generally an always on ability because you can just run a model to get a gang attack at the +2 MAT and + 2 damage that the skill grants.

Point Blank: This allows them to use their irrelevant pistols in combat as melee weapons, making them slightly more relevant. Because they use MAT and are considered melee for the attacks, it pairs up splendidly with gang. 

Deathbound: The signature ability of the Revenat crew is also their greatest hangup. The ability to return to play after being destroyed is magnificent in theory, and can be extremely useful against melee armies.

All of this comes in a 6/9 package. Its an expensive cost in an army that also sports Bane Thralls, Bloodgorgers, Satyxis Raiders and Bile thralls at 5/8, Blackbanes Ghost raiders at 6/9 and Mechanithralls, Satyxis Bloodwitches, and Cephalyx Druges at the bottom tier. The only 10 man unit more expensive is the Bane Knights. They have vengance, higher armor, higher MAT, reach, ghostly, weaponmaster, and speed 5: but reach more than nullifies that advantage. (9.5″ threat on the Pirates, 10″ on the Bane Knights).

Now, I can’t talk about a unit without its Weapon Attachment being mentioned. They are the whole reason I am even talking about this unit in the first place. The Riflemen have the exact same stat line, and the exact same rules set, with two exceptions. The first is CRA – They are allowed to make Combined Ranged Attacks with each other, in order to increase their accuracy and damage. This pulls their measly rat 4 up to 7 if they are all together, and a respectable 8 if they stand still… or just the leader of the CRA. The second difference is their pistols almost double in range to 14″. This allows them to stand in the back and take pot shots at nearby infantry and vulnerable solos. They cost a single point each to a max of three in a unit, taking the unit up all the way to 12. Sadly, the unit wants to be running or charging most turns, either to try and make the best out of Deathbound, or to try and get attacks in before they die. That tends to leave the poor riflemen out in the cold, as they can’t even stand or shoot during those turns.

So, the unit is an expensive unit in the context of Cryx with pretty terrible stats, which is par for the course in the faction. They have the benefit of being undead and having two attacks each in melee, and a small ranged weapon. The human merc pirates are 5/8 with the exact same stat line and abilities, with the exception of Undead and Deathbound. Undead is worth a point, probably, and Deathbound is probably worth something, so I get where the 6/9 cost comes from. It makes no sense in the terms of the factions infantry and their choices they have, but I’ll give them that it seems pretty logical. The Command 7 and the exact wording of Deathbound is what really gives it the nudge into poor territory. You can only be returned to the unit, on the start of the Cryx players next turn, under two conditions. The first is that you were destroyed in formation. Any RFP effects or change in formation strategies will work to stop the reincarnation. The second is that the whichever model was the leader when you were destroyed is still on the board. Every time the leader is destroyed, the models that were going to come back are removed from the game and no longer allowed to return. This gives a big target to the leader model, one that just can’t be ignored. You’d want to keep him safe, but that requires either an Ogrun Bokur to eat the shots, or a cloud model, or some other forms of shenanigans to protect him, which Cryx is in great lack of supply. The recursion, now much harder to get mileage out of that the opponent knows to destroy the quartermaster at the end of every turn (or just constantly shoot the Quartermaster. it removes at least that one model from the game every turn.), is very shaky, and that counts against the unit overall. The second strike is that the unit seems built from the ground up to be an anti mid defense infantry unit. with Gang bringing their MAT up to 7 and having two attacks, they can take out mid-ground, 14 defense units without a problem. The issue with that is that those units rarely see the game. Either the defense is so low, or the armor/wounds so high, that it doesn’t matter, or the defense is so shockingly high that there is nothing the Crew can ever hope to hit. This can be alleviated somewhat by the Veteran Leader ability of Rengrave giving out +2 to attack rolls made when you can see him. Veteran Leader, however, is a very tricky ability to get to work normally, let alone while trying to set up gang attacks.

I can see their use, I really can. I just don’t think that between their point cost and the role they play that they are generally worth taking to many games, and I’d never take them to a tournament, they’d be smashed off the table with the amount of combined arms that is hanging around in every army these days.

So, enough with the bad! Lets take a look at what support casters can give them to try and maximize their meager abilities. I like to look at units in conjunction with casters. As good as a unit may be, if there is no caster to support it, it won’t matter. So, below is my rating scale for a model/unit, respective to the caster I am talking about.
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 gimicky list centered on this model/units and its ingame ineractions.
2 – I’s consider bringing this model/unit with this warcaster, with the proper support units and 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.

Asphyxious I – Scything touch and Parasite make a great combo for any melee unit, and hitting at effective P+S 16/17 is no joke. (2)

Asphyxious II – Parasite still exists, and the added clouds make sure that the Revenant Crew can get to combat. However, there exists enormous anti-synergy with his feat, as they remove themselves from play when the Quartermaster is killed. (0)
Asphyxious III – The Return of Scything Touch is welcomed, but the loss of Parasite is not. Carnage Makes them hit at MAT 9, and Ashen Veil bumps their defense up to a very respectable 15. (3)

Deneghra I – What does Deneghra I not make better? Crippling Grasp and her feat makes them MAT 11 and P+S 15/16. It’ll threaten a pile of Cygnar and Ret Jacks, and makes them that much better at removing infantry.Ghost Walk mitigates their lack of pathfinder, enabling them to reach different places than they normally would. (1)

Deneghra II – Bringing along Ghost Walk like Deneghra 1, She also brings Curse of Shadows to allow movement through models and immunity to free strikes, as well as Marked for Death making their pistols an amazing rat 8 if in site of Rengrave. With very little melee assistance, though, this seems to make for a poor match. (2)

Skarre I – Skarre I is another fantastic caster able to prop up even the weakest unit. Her feat and Dark guidance makes every unit hit like gangbusters, and the pirates at MAT 7+3d6 and Pow 16/17 again, you could do a lot worse. (2)

Skarre II – I originally thought Skarre II would support the Revenants, but after a number of games, I was unable to keep the Quartermaster alive through anything, including under her feat. With no way to up damage output, and black spot being much harder to take advantage of than it seems, I was really disappointed (0)

Goreshade I – Goreshade provides less than nothing to the Revenants. No way to debuff arm, and no way to increase accuracy or surviveability, I’d leave them at home every time.   (0)

Gorhshade II – Curse of Shadows is good, and sudden death has decent synergy with their ability to come back from the dead. Occultation could allow them to get to combat safely, but that’s generally on Goreshade for safeties sake. Also, they aren’t banes. So many Strikes! (0)

Goreshade III – Scything Touch makes another appearance here, which is good, as does Occulatation, but there is serious problems with Mockery of Life, as they are once again removed from Play. The feat has some neat interactions ad they’d just come back next round. (3)

Terminus – These used to be the best thing for Terminus next to sliced bread, but the Cabin Boy/Sac Pawn interaction has been culled from the game. While they’d be really nice sac-pawn targets with returning tough, Bane Knights Vengance and better overall application trumps them unless you bring a specific build for them. (1)

The Witch Coven – Both Occulation and their feat are very good for preventing the Quartermaster from dying on the way in. Curse of Shadows is a good armor debuff, and both Veil of Mists and Ghost Walk make terrain and other models not even matter. (2)

Mortenebra – Mortenebra joins the list of casters who bring nothing to the table for the poor Revenants, with some units thats OK. With the Revenants, its not so much (0)

Venethrax – Chalk him up there with Mortenebra, Goreshade and Asphyxious II. He’s just got nothing for them. (0)

Scaverous – While some casters bring nothing, at least scaverous has a def debuff. The Feast of Worms and Icy Grip can make a poor mans Crippling Grasp, but most of the time its just not worth it (1)

Best Caster: Asphyxious III – He’s got a suite of abilities that make them easy to deliver, hard hitting and accurate, and he’s the only one of the bunch that has all three.
Worst Caster: Goreshade I – He has his own set of problems, but the Revenants don’t even try to help here.

Results: I really wish they were better, as they are some of my conceptually favorite models. However, their focus on the leader of the unit in MK II, when there are so many ways to snipe out the leader of a unit, I just don’t find them incredibly compelling, and their mediocre stats are just a sour cherry on top. An easy to remove and counter unit at an elite unit price just drives in the final nail in the coffin. Maybe they can get a Unit Attachment that allows something really, really fun, and on that Day, I’ll review them again.