In June, I did my July Warmachine article early, as Lock and Load was revealing all sorts of cool goodies, and I wanted to wait until after the themes came out to give them a solid once over on how they are going to affect my list building, if at all. So, with that said, let’s take a look at our new themes!
The Great Themepocalypse
Back, two years ago, the game was a new and vibrant third edition, and the first new themes had come out. There were problems with the edition as a whole, but the release of the Storm Division had really caused a commotion. They gave players free points, up to 15, if my memory serves, and those extra points and models were adding up in the tournament scene, being the difference between wins and losses.
In the following weeks and months, Privateer wisely decided that they would roll out all themes for all factions simultaneously to increase parity among lists. At the time, this seemed like a reasonable proposition, but like any good-intentioned event, it had unforeseen consequences that boiled to the surface as time passed. List diversity contracted from the highs of the early releases, and though it was never like MKII, it is clearly a tighter field than it was previously. Something had to be done, but few knew what.
Fast Foward to Lock and Load this year, and the developers of Warmachine (William Hungerford and Oz Schoonover) announced that they are changing the face of Themes completely. Moving away from the point spent barriers and into a simple free slots system, the themes are in a good position to really shake up the meta and bring about a whole new age of list building.
Each faction, with reasonable exceptions, now has 4 themes to use, as well, balancing the availability of themes in addition to the actual themes themselves. As this is a Cryx Blog, I’m going to dive into the cryx ones right away!
What was once Infernal Machines and Black Industries separately has been combined into a single Black Industries Theme. It’s focused on Jacks and Thralls, as it describes, a wall of steel and flesh. Taking the best parts of the previous two themes and combined them into a single theme that feels very reminiscent of the scavengers of the line theme list for Asphyxious 1 way back in MKII. The requisition points lost the free arc nodes of Asphyxious 3 Black Industries, likely removing that list from existence, but it gave us a number of other changes that are very likely to push other lists to the front once someone takes the time to unlock them. Both the triple Necrotech option and the triple Brute Thrall options are strong, netting both 6 points of models and bringing models that will absolutely do something for the army. The other Requisition options aren’t incredibly impactful, but they are good enough to consider when you’re not taking a compliment of Brutes.
The benefits in the theme are solid, as I mentioned, even though Carapace was nerfed, it’s only in specific instances that that was a major help, and being vulnerable to free strikes is probably a reasonable ask of that list.
Ambush strikes as a double-edged blade. On the one hand, ambush is a great rule, and this applies even on a unit that isn’t particularly powerful. I know for a fact that one surviving, ambushing model has turned an entire game. The other hand has you spending points on models you may not want in your list, but feel you are required to use those points as without the models you lose half the benefits of the theme. That, however, is dulled a bit by knowing that carapace is excellent and that this is the only theme that you can use all of your character jacks as well a number of specific units.
This theme is wide open and feels incredibly strong. It has a mass of infantry, diverse and powerful solos, strong warjacks and the famed Cryx Warcasters. I don’t have a specific direction that I want to take this theme, but I know I want to-hit bonuses for the thralls, so casters with extra dice on attacks or caster with def. debuffs will be at a prime. I also want to look at strong battlegroup casters that can take advantage of a large body of ambushing troops to help offset their weaknesses, and I think there might be something in there for Mortenenbra 1 with Denny 0, though I ‘d have to work through building that list.
I am pleased that these two lists came together into a single whole and that they make the theme feel like it fits the fluff. early in MKI, there weren’t a lot of living models, and it was mostly undead and warjacks, so this feels like a call back to a different time, with a nod to making it play as a cohesive force.
Scourge of the Broken Coast
When the Black Fleet was announced as one of the first of the themes for Mk II, I was excited to be able to play my living Cryxians alongside one another in a theme dedicated to their plundering ways. However, that dream was dashed when the CID went live with not one, but two different themes: Slaughter Fleet Raiders and Scourge of the Broken Coast. This tragedy has been rectified, finally. Now, under one roof, I can play all of the living pirates the faction has to offer.
The theme benefits here, as well, are really good and push lists toward combined arms with both troopers and jacks in the list in order to maximize the benefits.
There was a lot of debate about if Gang Fighter was going to survive the Theme merger, and I was glad to see that it had, especially with all the new, fast, 2″ melee range solos that can be included. It makes me take a second look at all of those Scything Touch casters that are out there.
See above for ambush thoughts, but all that aside, there is something to be said about strong infantry with sidestep ambushing into the game, especially with 2019 Scenarios. I think that this is often worth the price, and more so when Dark Shroud is available with the solo.
Speaking of Solos, this theme had some sneaky additions to it via a single clause in the army Composition rules. Living Cryx Models/Units means that Deneghra 0, Darragh Wrathe, and Warwitch Sirens are all allowed within the theme. These inclusions allow you to grab more models that will shore up weaknesses in your list, which is always a benefit worth having around. I think Denny 0 bringing Curse of Shadows will very useful to multiple casters that struggle with armor currently.
This theme especially inviting for casters like Scaverous, who’ve been using Slaughter Fleet for such a long time, and now have access to ambushing Blood Witches (see my above take on ambush) as well as Satyxis gunslingers and Raiders. Its a glorious day. This theme has opened up with requisitions as well by allowing Sharde Dirge Seers for free, which is excellent, but it also includes three Misery cages. I do understand that they are FA 3 and that it is technically a 6 point set of models, but I’m not sold on taking them as a requisition. There are much better options when you are likely looking at Sevara Blacktide, Axiara Wraithblade and/or Gerlak Slaughterborn as a choice for freebies, and you cannot benefit from more than one Cage each turn, making it a fairly vulnerable and immobile solo, which isn’t all to impactful over the course of the game.
The living Cryxian models being all in one place makes me excited to build and run more in the theme, though that would be a hard task due to nearly every list I ran lately being slaughter fleet.
Dark host received, as far as I can tell, extremely few changes. One notable non-change is that the theme received no character warjacks that can be taken in theme without their bonded Warcaster. That is significant when it comes to how liberal these character jacks were handed out. The second big change with model selection is that the Void Archon is not considered a mercenary model, but an in theme model, allowing you to bring two of them and a mercenary solo, which can be a big deal in certain circumstances. I very pointed did not look at or playtest the Void Archon because I was not going to play one in any list I could think of, and I could never bring two, so what was the point. This change throws all of that out and makes me wonder how the playtesting for the archon would have been given that it was being added to Dark Hosts new existence
Both theme benefits stayed exactly the same, which means that a list with banes still has the same look to it, overall, with Prowl and Clouds to hide in.
The requisition options for Dark host changed little, but at least two are significant changes worth speaking about. The first is the triple Necrotech, which is a simple and reasonable change. I don’t know how often I’ll need that support in a Dark Host list where all the models hit like jacks, but it is good to know its there if I need it. The second, though, is triple Machine Wraiths, which is extremely good. I like the concept of getting three incorporeal disruption pieces for free, especially because it means that I don’t always have to take infantry Bane Units in order to utilize the free points efficiently, which I rather like. Taking 2 full units of cavalry and Wraith engines looks possible with the options presented.
While I don’t expect there to be great revelations to Dark Host, I do see that it can easily change its complexion from on where it is completely focused on the infantry to one where the banes take a secondary, if still prominent role.
All in all, Dark Host is in a solid place, just as it was prior to the revisitation, with some additional possible takes that people like likely have to shake out on their own and put into action before we see their full potential.
The Ghost Fleet
Oh, ghost fleet. How you were once King and how low you have fallen. Thankfully, you’re no joke theme, and you still have teeth, but you are absolutely not the powerhouse that you once were, driving all their foes before them.
The new theme remix did little to remedy that situation, though all in all that is probably just fine. It put a few tweaks in place to make the life of a ghost fleet player a little more reasonable, adding Barathrum to the theme list, as he’s Terminus’ jack and Terminus is the Lich Lord in charge of the Cryxian Fleet. This makes Barathrum useable in three themes, so expect to see him a whole bunch out there, as he’s a solid all-around jack.
The theme benefits stayed mostly the same, though they did lose the +1 to the starting roll and exchanged it for a re-roll, a change that is uniform around the game. Keeping the Deathbound upgrade makes a ton of sense, however, and I’m eager to try out another Ghost Fleet list here soon, as I just loved how they played, and the changes they made are significant, but not back-breaking.
What did change significantly, however, was the ability to add Revenenat Riflemen as free options. This single change makes lists able to judge and consider their solo options because a solo worth only 4 or 5 points can be taken in the list and 6 points will still be made up through requisitions. The Hellslinger, though, is still going to be taken for free because he’s great. The requisitions also allow the triple Machine Wraith option from Dark Host, which as I said above is really cool, and could allow a fairly complete Incorporeal army, something I have heard that opponents simply love playing against. The last requisition option they added is, once again, the triple misery cages, which, just like the Scourge option doesn’t make any sense for a number of reasons.
The Ghost fleet, as I mentioned, didn’t change much, and I don’t really expect much from it in the future. There are a couple of intriguing builds, with a number of free points more available now, opposed to prior to the remix, and I will say that the tried and true “method” of getting the most free cards is completely out the window, so there is a little bit of wiggle room for new and different lists.
For instance, it’s absolutely possible a list like this together, backing up a pile of recursion with a massive death-platform and your tried and true Wriath Engine.
https://conflictchamber.com/?c4201b_-1Vkv1919c3jA2Dkqf4203g203g203gbB Cryx [Theme] The Ghost Fleet [Deneghra 1] Warwitch Deneghra [+26] Deathripper  Deathripper  Kraken  Agrimony, Crone of the Dying Strands  Captain Rengrave  Misery Cage  Swamp Gobber River Raider  Revenant Crew of the Atramentous (min)  Revenant Crew Rifleman (3) [0(6)] Revenant Crew of the Atramentous (min)  Revenant Crew Rifleman (3) [0(6)] Revenant Crew of the Atramentous (min)  Revenant Crew Rifleman (3) [0(6)] Wraith Engine 
Something like this would have never worked in the old world.
Well, that is all I have for an overview of the themes. Maybe one day I’ll go a bit more in-depth on them, but not just yet.
Until next time!