Back last week, during the look at the upcoming errata, I was more focused on trying to define the top 5% of models. This week, I want to look deeper and take a candid look at what can be done about Cryx and their inability to survive into a gunline.
In two separate google groups, the Cryx Facebook Group, and the Privateer forums, I have seen people asking about what should be done to the faction in order to make it somewhat resilient to gun lines, so I’d like to take a stab at breaking down the question and then looking at why we can’t survive, the opponents tool, and then how to make the faction more durable to shooting without removing gun lines from the game entirely.
While there well be a lot of looking into the past in order to compare the current state with what was clearly a better state for Cryx, I want to make it clear that I am not calling for a return to the past. In MK2, Cryx had a strong recursion game, a horde of infantry, a couple light jacks, and maybe a heavy jack if you were feeling dedicated to the cause. With the creation of 3rd and the push for more Warjack points and more warjacks, the game has clearly moved in a direction where you want to take less infantry overall and jacks are encouraged. In MK 2, we didn’t take ‘jacks that weren’t excellent, because if our jacks weren’t excellent, they weren’t worth fielding. The risk/reward of the 13/17 defensive stat line along with the tiny body and fragile systems made jacks an unfavorable comparison in almost every way. When I started playing the game, I forced myself to take a heavy jack or two every game. I had huge problems. Once I gave in and simply took the fewest jacks I could get away with, I started succeeding. Our faction was an infantry faction with terrible jacks. It was simply how we felt the faction was designed. I don’t want to go back to those days, where the forces of the dragonfather are simply an overwhelming tide of corpses and pirates. I want our jacks to succeed, and I want our lists to be viable into gunlines in a manor that is in line with our new faction mindset. That said, lets start in the old days of MK 2
A Peek Into the Past
The first thing to look at the MK2 stable of anti-shooting tech.
Not because we want to emulate the past, as I stated above, but because we need to see where and how Cryx was successful against gunlines, and see where it might be applied to our current state in order to become more competitive into a Bayonettaesque list.
- Skarre 1’s feat – This is often overlooked, but enabled huge armies to be delivered, under feat, into the teeth of a gunline. +5 armor is no joke, even with the piddly armor of our common troops. It is singularly why 30 Bane Knights could come through the field alive, as a turn of ARM21 can shrug off almost all pow 10 and 12 guns, and those guns that strike home grant the rest of the unit vengeance, enabling a better strike. I do think the change is for the better in 3rd, as it creates a better situation on the opponents side of the board, but its ability to deliver 30+ weaponmaster, reach troops cannot be underestimated.
- Asphyxious 2’s Clouds – This is a big one. The ability to create a cloud wall, especially one that killed you if you ran through it, that could be adjacent to a building or forest to extend the amount of LOS blocking on the board was fantastic. Delivering your army, unless you were staring down Legion, behind these clouds enabled Lich 2 and Skarre 2 to play a strong, very likely too strong, Anti-gunline pair.
- Darragh Wrathe’s Incorporeal – This might not seem big, but it was. Being able to hide behind terrain without needing to have a ghost walk caster there to babysit you could, and often did, make the difference when soulhunters were played. Being able to run through the melee screen in order to get to the guns behind was also a strong play. Without Incorporeal on tap, the Soulhunters def 14 arm 14 in 3rd just isn’t enough. They die to every pow 12, and a strong percentage of Pow 10’s.
- Bane Lord Tartarus +2 speed on Curse – The difference between 10″ threat and 12″ threat when facing down guns is a vast gulf. Reaching only 10″ is not, often, going to get you to a ranged model unless they somehow managed to miss you. At def 12.
- Satyxis Raider Captain’s Desperate Pace – I don’t want this back, but you can clearly see where I am going with this. The ability to fly across the board and threaten 40″ up was amazingly insane, but also did help deliver the army when the opponent had guns. You’d often play the game a whole unit of Raiders down, but you got to put the models you wanted where you needed before the opponent could gun them all down.
- Reach + Curse on Bane Riders – Yes, those three inches make a hell of a difference. 11″ v. 14″ is significant when you’re facing a gun line looking to chew up all your models. The Bane Riders 11″ is currently not enough to get them fielded, where I was in love with their MK2 incarnation.
- Free Strikes on Incorporeal models – Simply jamming with Blackbanes or Mini-Feated Blood Witches was a tactic that, while rarely used, could really cause a problem on a static, standard set of guns. With the Removal of ubiquitous magic weapons, it seems like these should be tailor made to jam guns, but without the threat of free strikes, their playtime as a unit of runners is going to be limited.
- Stealth and Tough on Bane Thralls – Though it was the addition of the Bane Thrall UA that granted them Tough, the unit was not complete in MK II unless you took the UA with them. No longer the case, the Bane Thrall UA is over costed 90% of the games you play it in, but under costed by significant margins if the right circumstances converge. Additionally, Stealth on a unit you never wanted near your army (instead of on Blood Witches, who are great, mind you, but don’t solve the variety of problems that Bane Thralls do) was a massive boon. I know why it was removed, but its one of the main reasons we’re gutted in the shooting department.
- AD and Pathfinder on Satyxis Raider UA – Again, Raiders were great at what they did. So good that they nearly removed shooting from the game, and I don’t want that to happen – well, not as a player and “designer” I don’t. As a Cryx Player, they can all rot in hell. These two abilities really allowed the Cryx player to get into the face of a gunline extremely quick.
- Satyxis Blood Witches Mini Feat – Damn! this was a great one. Once per game you had a unit that was damn near invincible to shooting! It was a fantastic way for a gunline to still be effective (magic weapons) but not have that lazies fair attitude toward shooting all my models. You had to make choices. No longer.
- Mechanithrall Recursion – Kill 6 models, net 0 casualties. It wasn’t the same game it is today, but it was an amazing way to make sure that gunlines suffered a little bit on the way in. With the new activation rules, which are very good when implemented universally (I’m lookin at you, Manakins. Hellmouth). While this didn’t cause the points in guns to be wasted, it did cause a catastrophic overload in the quantity of models that were going to be on the board every turn.
- Burrow on Helldivers – Again, we are at an ability that is way to powerful by itself, but put a clock on a gunline. If you didn’t get all the work done as soon as you could, you were going to eat a very powerful helldiver to your casters face, and likely lose the game regardless of how many models you killed of mine.
- Def 15/16 Light warjacks – While they were’t the game changers, they were much more difficult to hit, and made it more likely that anything they were attempting to do would succeed. Without their higher defense, these jacks are getting blown out of the water frequently.
the quantity of survival mechanics pulled out is vast, beyond even what I really expected. Combine all of that with the inability to toe in on Forests and hills, loosing ~1″ of threat to gain the measly +2 defense bonus for the troops, and you get a situation where it feels like everything that we do is going to end up with a pile of bullet riddled, unanimated corpses lying in the center of the battlefield.
What really gets me about the Gunline problem is that it seems to have been encouraged by PP, either intentionally or through gross blindness. Premeasuring favors, in an unarguable and blatant manor, the Gunline. Almost all guns are able to shoot past most infantries threat ranges, and one of the only things holding them back was that they had to be good at guessing their ranges and yours. Now, all they have to do is ask you your threat range and “simply” stay outside, often outside a second run, too, if they get their measurements right. Nothing sped up the game, and nothing reduced the ranges on weapons. It is as if they willfully tossed up their hands and indicated that we had to find the solution all on our own. Enter Mad Dogs of War.
They also game a number of shooting casters better tools. I don’t understand. Three of the best shooting casters in the game – Kara Sloan, Caine 2, and Ossyan, got almost unequivocal boosts. Kara Sloan gives out Field Marshal: True Sight. Caine gained both True Sight and Trick Shot. Ossyan Gained Deadeye. I have no idea what they were thinking. Mayhaps their meta simply overruns with melee opponents, and their games often came down to their gunlines always being overwhelmed. I can’t see this as being true, but something has to account for many of the Shooting casters getting better.
However, they did add rubble as a terrain type. This terrain is a game changer, and will give you some sort of shot against gunlines where you normally don’t have any. However, its a static piece of terrain that you have to work around and try to get the most out of, and that is not always easy. This goes doubly true for the 8 pieces of terrain on the table a well. Trencehs, walls, rubble and hills don’t block LOS, so you’re at the mercy of Fog Clouds, which can vanish, houses and Forests in order to really get the best out of staying safe. Its an extremely hard game to play when the inconvenient terrain, that will likely assist in you loosing, is on the same side (or even the same piece of terrain) as the one that blocks LOS to your caster.
Up until now, its been simply a ratting off of the position – Guns are good, our defenses against guns have been depleted, and Cryx has little chance against the current meta, and likely gunlines for years.
What do we do about it?
Well, the world has changed, and we know it. The likely solution will be something with jacks, unless they want the faction to be the infantry-focused faction with little to no warjack support. They have shown that they’ve got an eye on it, what with Barathrum being so good, and all our character jacks being decently solid. I’m almost of the mind that either the defense or the armor of ALL of the Cryx heavies needs to increase by one. I think I would prefer the defense, as it makes the most difference long term and we have few abilities to increase defense for the jacks.
I don’t think recursion is coming back, and I will be glad that it stays dead. I hated the fact that we were relegated to a prototypical shambling horde of undead trope in MKII. Play up the Pirates aided by Undead theme, and I think everything here is pretty solid, theme wise, we just need to figure out how to get the troops across the board.
The exception to that is the Revenant Crew. I would love to see them return a d3+2 models every time the unit is short, because I think that, while a lot of models, it is fairly equitable. Unable to really function well in many circumstances, it would be good to just have Revenant as a meat sponge.
Another idea I’ve been kicking about in my head is a point reduction on slow, defenseless models. While it wouldn’t help the overall army build, it could likely sneak you a Carrion Thralls or an extra light jack into the list if the discount is steep enough for them to feel worth it. Right now, 17 points for most of our units is more expensive than I want to pay, but I have nothing between, realistically, 10 and 17.
Well, what solutions would you propose? I know its a hard subject to tackle, and there are lots of variations on solutions. I look forward to seeing what they do in January.
Till next week!