Tour de Cryx – The Iron Lich Process – Complete Post

I had thought that Deneghra would be the last full-caster article, but in the interest of catching up to where I am, finally, and being able to write about casters as I play them, I’m going to go on about my trip with the Iron Lich. It took me until the end of the month, but I got the games in! 

When I started this trip through the casters of the Cryx faction, I was looking forward to playing Iron Lich Asphyxious more than any other caster. He’s one of my favorites from the beginning, and he has just a heap of great synergies and abilities. He’s always been able to swing the damage pendulum strongly in the Cryx players favor, a hallmark of the original trinity from prime: Denny, Asphyxious 1, and Skarre 1. Building an army for him was going to be a joy. 

Part 1

Iron Lich has always been a staple in my Cryx arsenel, and even when he wasn’t at the top of the power ranks, he was still a strong and versatile caster that I often fell back on through the years and editions. He’d not lost much between MKI and MKII, but there were subtle differences that made him take a slightly different role than he did in the past. In second transition between editions, he was again tweaked, 

Initial Impressions

Well, lets start, like we always do, with breaking down the caster a little bit. 

Offensivly, this guys is a powerhouse. While he might be slow with his speed of 5, everything else in his kit is extremely strong. He only has a MAT of 6, but his sustained attack rule on Soulsplitter allows him to bank on a single, critical, attack roll, and then just ride the auto-hits from there. Speaking of Soulsplitter, its one of the most powerful caster weapons in the game, clocking in at a massive P+S 15. Combined with his spells Parasite and Scything Touch, and he’s easily looking at MAT 6 POW 20, which is a great melee threat. He can easily carve up lights, and with just a little bit of assistance, can take out heavies. Compounded on his physical powers are his spells, which he has in no short supply. Dark Shroud, granted by the affore mentioned Scything Touch, is easy to apply for his whole army as a model can activate and then the Asphyxious player can cycle Scything Touch around. Additionally he hold Parasite, granting his army a +3 damage swing and pushing himself up to a strong Arm 17. Hellfire and Breath of Corruption round out his offensive spell category, and both of them are extremely strong. Hellfire denying tough can be situationally miraculous and is pretty solid into Ghost Fleet, and Breath of Corruption enables some assassination runs. Getting an arc node within 4/4.5/4.9 of a caster (base size increases distance) can simply rock them with POW 12’s until they pass out. 

Defensivly, he’s not much of a slouch either. With a DEF of 15 and an ARM of 16, he’s not extraordinarily sturdy, but he has the chops to take a few hits before dropping, though his 18 wounds will only save him for so long. Get parasite out there for ARM 17, and you’ve got a fairly resilient caster that can take a bit of a beating. In terms of spells, his only real defensive measure is teleport, which allows him to peek out, affect the game, and then jump back behind cover to make sure he does not end on the wrong side of the gunfight. He brought a spear – he knows where he should hang out. For innate defensive tech, he is simply bare. He is a medium base with solid armor and wounds, but can’t really hide well. He’ll do best to find somewhere to hide behind and call it a game. 

While I’ve gone over most of his spells – Parasite, Scything Touch, Breath of Corruption, Hellfire, and Teleport, he still has his best spell yet. Spectral leech. This spell has so many applications it gives me the giggles. I’m just going to start listing the ones I can remember off the top of my skull. 

  • Krielstone
  • Warbeasts
  • Oracular Vision
  • Forsaken
  • journeyman Warcasters
  • Lesser Warlocks
  • Some Battle Engines
  • the Hydra Warjack
  • Warlocks and Warcaster

The obvious application is tagging the caster and forcing them down from their fairly common 2 camp to nothing. With RNG 10 and Focus 7, he can often hit his target, and with cost 2, he can get as many as 6 shots on his feat turn. none of that is discouraging, and he will almost always find a way to use the spell in a game. I really do love the idea of scalping out a Journeyman with the spell and a shot or two. It seems like the best. 

Finally, we get to his feat. It is extremely basic, when it comes to Cryxian Feats, as are all the prime casters. He immediately fills his focus up to 7, and makes a POW 5 damage roll against every enemy model in his control range. While the damage roll is nice, what really brings the wins home is his refilled focus. Provided everything goes right, you can manage something like one of the following:

  • 4 pow 12’s, two of which are boosted. They’ll auto hit if you can get in range with the arc node. 
  • 4 pow 14’s, two of which are boosted. Good against hard targets with low DEF
  • 3 pow 12’s, one of which is boosted and 2 spectral leeches
  • 2 spectral Leech, One Parasite, and two POW 12’s or 14’s, one boosted to damage. 
  • upkeep Scything touch, one boosted to hit Parasite, 7 pow 20’s. One boosted to hit. 

You get the idea. Its a pretty solid feat that can change the game. Using it to delete the caster is the most obvious and strongest plays, but you can also use it with parasite to remove low armor units (Satyxis, Revenants, winterguard) or to RFP some important models. Its just good all around. timing its use and planning on what it is going to do will often be the crux of either winning, or losing. 

First list

When I looked at Iron Lich at the start of the new edition, I noticed something on his card I’d not seen since MKI – that Spectral Leech. This spell was bad back in MK I, but today, in the new world of WM, this spell sung to me. I wanted to build a list around it that made this spell its backbone. Everything was devoted to getting this spell into the caster and then following up with a barrage of gunfire so strong it would remove the caster. Combined with his feat. Oh man. This is what I came up with. 

Cryx Army – 75 / 75 points

Iron Lich Asphyxious [+28]
– Deathjack [23]
– Deathripper [6]
– Deathripper [6]
– The Withershadow Combine [9]
Orin Midwinter, Rogue Inquisitor [5]
Pistol Wraith [5]
Pistol Wraith [5]
Satyxis Raider Captain [4]
Satyxis Raider Captain [4]
Soul Trapper [1]
Croe’s Cutthroats (max) [16]
Cylena Raefyll & Nyss Hunters (max) [19]

The whole point of this list was to drop the focus off of your caster via bullets to the head. It had legs, too. I thought there was something too it. 

Then, of course, came ghost fleet, with its better, forever guns and its strong recursion and its… well, you know how it is. It is just a fantastic list that any caster can bring some strong synergy too. 

Surprising no one, this is the list I settled on between the start of the new edition, and when I began playing him. 

 

Cryx Army – 75 / 75 points
[Theme] The Ghost Fleet

 Iron Lich Asphyxious [+28]
– Deathripper [6]
– Deathripper [6]
– Stalker [8]
– Stalker [8]
Captain Rengrave [0(5)]
Hellslinger Phantom [0(7)]
Pistol Wraith [0(5)]
Blackbane’s Ghost Raiders (min) [11]
Revenant Cannon Crew [4]
Revenant Crew of the Atramentous (min) [9]
– Revenant Crew Rifleman (3) [6]
Revenant Crew of the Atramentous (min) [9]
– Revenant Crew Rifleman (3) [6]
Revenant Crew of the Atramentous (min) [9]
– Revenant Crew Rifleman (3) [6]
Wraith Engine [15]

This list, much like the other, focused on getting gunshots and spells to the target casters forehead as swiftly as possible. What am I kidding myself! Its just another ghost fleet list, but this time with the threat of spell assassination as well. The threat of bullets killing you is far less due to the lack of knockdown and defense reducing effects, 

Part 2

After the first game with Ghost fleet, I was impressed. There was a strong game plan there, but I wasn’t sure that it was his best build, or it was his. It was powerful, but I wanted to try something else out. In my second game, I was subbed him out for Dark Host: 

Cryx Army – 75 / 75 points
[Theme] Dark Host

Iron Lich Asphyxious [+28]
– Deathripper [6]
– Deathripper [6]
– Stalker [8]
– Stalker [8]
Bane Lord Tartarus [0(6)]
Darragh Wrathe [9]
Bane Knights (max) [15]
Bane Riders (max) [20]
Bane Warriors (max) [16]
– Bane Warrior Officer & Standard [0(5)]
Wraith Engine [15]

It was a fairly standard list that was just trying a whole bunch of things out at once, and it worked out rather well. 

First Games Impressions

Both Dark Host and Ghost Fleet worked well under the Iron Liches talons. With Ghost Fleet, I was able to set up favorable trades that didn’t really end up as trades, just as sacrifices for the opponent, and Dark Host put me in a position where I could capitalize on Dark Shroud everywhere

Both games, though, I felt very vulnerable. His medium base and middling defenses made me wary of coming out of hiding, and both games involved me sitting in the rear of the army trying to make sure that I was safe and wouldn’t randomly die. It felt kinda lame, but I also felt that both the opponents lists had long enough threat range to force the issue if needed, so why give them the chance. 

Honestly, there isn’t much I would change about either list. the Wraith Engine at effective P+S 20 is really strong, and pirates at 16’s and 17’s are very strong as well. However, I really wanted to try and stick Cankerworm in the list, so I asked around at some options. I eventually ended up at this Engine-less Ghost Fleet. 

Tweaks and twists

Honestly, there isn’t much I would change about either list. the Wraith Engine at effective P+S 20 is really strong, and pirates at 16’s and 17’s are very strong as well. However, I really wanted to try and stick Cankerworm in the list, so I asked around at some options. I eventually ended up at this Engine-less Ghost Fleet. 

Cryx Army – 75 / 75 points
[Theme] The Ghost Fleet

Iron Lich Asphyxious [+28]
– Cankerworm [9]
– Deathripper [6]
– Deathripper [6]
– Stalker [8]
– Stalker [8]
Captain Rengrave [0(5)]
Hellslinger Phantom [0(7)]
Machine Wraith [2]
Machine Wraith [2]
Pistol Wraith [0(5)]
Blackbane’s Ghost Raiders (max) [17]
Revenant Crew of the Atramentous (min) [9]
– Revenant Crew Rifleman (3) [6]
Revenant Crew of the Atramentous (min) [9]
– Revenant Crew Rifleman (3) [6]
Revenant Crew of the Atramentous (min) [9]
– Revenant Crew Rifleman (3) [6]

This list pushed the strength of Ghost Fleet up a bit, by just having more models to push around the board, but also adds cankerworm while keeping the Machine Wraith Shenanigans. It felt like a good fit, so I figured I’d give it a go or two to see how I liked it. 5 lights looked like it would be hard to keep alive because of both the quantity and fragility, eating up a decent chunk of the lists with powerful but fragile pieces seems pretty foolhardy. Three of the Five have AD and Stealth, though, and the other pair are arc nodes, so I should theoretically have models survive. I expect it won’t happen. 

The larger Blackbanes has always intrigued me, and finding a list that has the capacity to run both the three min revenants and the max blackbanes was pretty cool. They are clearly a win-more unit, but having so many feels so good. I could probably, and should, honestly, optimize the list further and get more out of those six points. 

Part 3

Things I learned

Even know, I love the Iron Lich. He has a number of strategies to win the game, and all three current themes add different dimensions to even those strategies. His is a strong, guiding hand that can prop up the worst units and turn out best units into powerful killers. He does have little going for him in terms of assisting to hit, where both his peers do not, Skarre having Dark Guidance and Denny having Crippling Grasp. Turn over turn, though, he has the most consistent Arm swing with both Dark Shroud and Parasite available, and likely the most durable stats, though they always feel fragile. He’s a very interesting and strong caster, with a play until even he is killed as his personal threat isn’t something to be ignored. 

Final List

The last two lists I played were with Agrimony, Crone of the Dying Strand, and it was really strong the second game at the better price point of 4. The Dark Host list is strong, but I feel it lacks the ranged firepower that his spell list really asks for. Between Spectral Leech and his personal spells, you can often leave the caster on just a couple boxes, and the Revenant guns just finish the job. 

Cryx Army – 75 / 75 points
[Theme] The Ghost Fleet

(Asphyxious 1) Iron Lich Asphyxious [+28]
– Deathripper [6]
– Deathripper [6]
– Stalker [8]
– Stalker [8]
Captain Rengrave [0(5)]
Hellslinger Phantom [0(7)]
Pistol Wraith [0(5)]
Blackbane’s Ghost Raiders (min) [11]
Agrimony, Crone of the Dying Strand [4]
Revenant Crew of the Atramentous (min) [9]
– Revenant Crew Rifleman (3) [6]
Revenant Crew of the Atramentous (min) [9]
– Revenant Crew Rifleman (3) [6]
Revenant Crew of the Atramentous (min) [9]
– Revenant Crew Rifleman (3) [6]
Wraith Engine [15]

I really missed the weighty, massive and imposing Wraith Engine when I wasn’t playing it in the list. Its armor wasn’t really a big deal, but it put me in a position with a few of my solos and the caster that I felt was a bit farther up than I normally feel safe. Its a good list, and while I miss cankerworm, I think its the better list. Cankerworm just didn’t perform well enough for me in the three games I played him in to really be worth any time. 

Overall Impressions

Iron Lich Asphyxious is a good caster with solid personal threat a significant spell assassination, and the ability to delete armor from the board fairly swiftly. He lacks in an multi-armor drop, but every list has a weakness. With either Dark Host or Ghost fleet, I feel he gets an additional win condition in scenario presence and power. However, he is very vulnerable, and relies on terrain to keep him alive, and provided with the wrong type of terrain, could easily be plucked off the table by concentrated or sustained fire. This makes me leery, as a constant threat around here is that of bullets to the face. 

Strong Points

Iron Lich excels at pulling armor off the board, and is custom built, it seems, to be able to do it, even if it is by himself, for very little investment. In ghost fleet, I had three Revenants take out a heavy, which isn’t uncommon, but it is a different caster able to play a similar game. Siphon Bolt, over all five games, was amazing. In the first game, I was able to pluck fury straight off heavy warbeasts, forcing the caster to cut turn 2, which helped me win the long game. Lucant had three pulled from him, and Jaga Jaga felt safe, but was bolted down to nothing and then taken out. Its a fantastic spell and I expect that there is little a player can really do about it. While I didn’t play the original concept of the list, I can tell is more overkill than I need, spaming that many Siphon bolts, and I can often get away with only a pair of them. 

In addition to pulling off armor, Asphyxious has a great control game with both Breath of Corruption and his threat of spell assassination via arcnode, and it will often keep casters honest, playing farther back than they would like and taking on less of the field. If you cannot take advantage of this warriness, then it can swiftly turn into a debilitating downside for you, as your opponent is safe and you have no real answers for them, but if you push into their face, this will often spell their doom as they can only stay 18″ away from a deathripper for so long. It is a good trick in your back pocket, but be prepared to use other means necessary to win. 

Problem Areas

Iron Lich has some pretty standard flaws, honestly. He is larger of base, making him hard to hide and unable to be screened by most troopers. He has fairly average defensive stats, with the potential of turning them up a bit, but not too much, and not against anything that isn’t gunfire or spells. His personal threat range, while outstanding with damage output, is almost to little to really worry about, and gutting his speed to 5 didn’t help. a 10″ threat isn’t anything to write home about. There was almost no time I felt safe enough to slip out, get two souls, and ‘port to safety, but I was looking for every opportunity I could. Finally, he feels very single-trick, though the themes have helped him out with that, adding dimensions he doesn’t have or exploit: Ranged and recursion, to the list. 

The Iron Lich is a big, scary monster, and that makes people rightfully wary, but without any strong defensive tech, it tempts your opponent to go for those assassinations or plays that might not be profitable at the time, but given enough attempts and incentive, they could quickly spell doom for your caster. 

Final thoughts

Asphyxious is still one of my favorite casters, and possesses all of the skills now, and some more, than he did when I was first introduced to the game. He will continue to be strong because he can interact with multiple facets of the game, though he has a problem with high DEF, as his only play against it is his feat, which is often not enough. 

He is a fun, satisfying and thoroughly Cryxian caster. Score: 8.7