Tour de Cryx – The Skarre 1 Engine – The Full Experince

It is both satisfying and appropriate that my final article of 2017, published in the final days of this year, is the conclusion of the Tour de Cryx. I did it! There were a lot of times along the way that I wasn’t sure, because life got in the way, but at the end, I was able to clear enough time to make sure that I was able to make it all the way to the end. So, here we are, the final Caster, the final list, and the final article, of the Tour de Cryx: Skarre 1. 

Part 1

When the Tour started, I was gifted by the community with a litany of low powered casters, under-represented and generally untread ground. While the casters were generally enjoyable to play, they were often less effective than they could have been. Inversely, this lead to a string of strong casters to finish off the tour, with the last caster being extremely powerful and amusingly divisive in the Cryx community, Pirate Queen Skarre (Skarre 1)

Initial Impressions

Skarre has a ton of appeal when it comes to selecting a Cryx caster. She has one real spell, and three other spells that she wants to caster rarely, if ever, and a final spell she never casts but is used every turn. Dark Guidance makes her army, in an army known for its shoddy MAT scores, able to hit nearly every target in the game. Her Feat turns the game upside down, pushing out huge ARM numbers as well as astonishingly high Damage. What she doesn’t bring, however, is a lot of interactivity and choice. Instead, she’s a fairly auto-pilot caster who doesn’t contribute to the game in the same manor that many other do. While there are still plenty of decisions during games with Skarre, what she does turn to turn is pretty simple. This leads many people to classify her as a boring caster. I do not find her to be boring, honestly. 

Lets take a look at her. 

Offensively, she has a ton of tools. Her speed is fantastic, at 7, and her MAT is a respectable 7 as well, though that’s often amplified by her need to cast Dark Guidance, one of the better spells in the game, nearly every turn. She also has 3 initial melee attacks, which is among the highest, though two have mighty low power, 10 and 9, but both have additional benefits. Bloodwyrm, her dagger, has Life drinker, allowing her to regain lost hit points,  and her Great Rack – Horns, has auto knockdown, which is a real boon when she wants to spend all her focus on Damage instead of hitting and/or Dark Guidance. Her main weapon, her 1″ sword, Takkaryx, has Life Trader, one of my favorite riles, allowing Skarre to sacrifice her HP for damage, gaining an additional die on damage if she does. Weaponmaster on auto hitting (knocked down with Great Rack) are scary at simply P+S 13. If she can feat to take down a target, even better. That she can get up to 13 attacks with that weapon is just the cherry on top. She also has three offensive spells that are able to handle a plethora of situations, though often they aren’t going to be worth the sacrifice to cast them or the points to have an arc node to use them; Backlash for Warjacks, Blood Rain for high defense, and Hellfire to finish things off. All good spells, and all will rarely be cast. Her last, and most egregious, offensive tool is her Sacrificial Strike special action. If she chooses to forgo all attacks, she can remove a friendly faction trooper model within 1″ of her to deal an unboostable damage roll equal to the removed models base ARM. Its a solid ability that can scalpel out annoying targets. 

Defensively, Skarre is pretty solid. Def 16 and arm 15 are good enough, most of the time, to only need to worry about knockdown and stationary effects, which are thankfully uncommon. Other than her stats, though, she has very little defensive about her, which is fine given the amount of support and offensive power she can bring to bear. Keep her safe, and she’ll do just fine. 

With a solid offense, serviceable defense, and a pretty low key, if highly effective, spell list, Skarre’s feat is one of the big reasons you bring her in a list. The ability to pump +5 Damage and +5 ARM is extremely powerful, and leverages itself even high with help from Dark Shroud, which will almost always be in a list she runs. This feat has so many applications and is so flexible, I love it. Used on offense, it allows the Skarre list to survive the inevitable counter attack, or forces the player to over allocate resources to deal with models. Unlike a spell such as Arcane Shield, which is going to be in play almost the whole game, Skarres feat will last only a turn, which means that if you force them to remove specific pieces right then, that they will be putting more into it on that one turn that they would if they could just wait, saving other pieces in your army. Used defensively, it can delivery more of the army into the enemy than would normally make it to an opponent, and this is especially useful when your normal attacks will destroy everything on their side of the board anyway. Finally, and this is often what I try to do, is that it can be used as a counter-strike. There is so little that you cannot destroy in an opponents army, especially with your feat up, that getting them to commit a significant portion of their army to taking out some of yours prior to the feat often means that they will be vulnerable to the counterattack and that they will likely have nothing to remove the models that are affected by the Feat, leaving them in the unenviable position to take a second straight turn of beatings prior to being able to remove parts of your army. While they get the alpha on models that you let them take, you get two straight turns of beating face, and that is often going to be enough to get you through the game. 

First List

The first list I want to try out is the Brandon Andrew list from the Florida Meta. Its a strong list and, more importantly, it has double Wraith Engines, which makes me gleeful. I just need an excuse to see how these things work in tandem. 

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

Pirate Queen Skarre [+28]
– Inflictor [13]
– Stalker [8]
– Stalker [8]
– Skarlock Thrall [0(4)]
Bane Lord Tartarus [0(6)]
Darragh Wrathe [9]
Necrotech [2]
Scrap Thralls [2]
Bane Knights (max) [15]
Bane Warriors (max) [16]
– Bane Warrior Officer & Standard [0(5)]
Wraith Engine [15]
Wraith Engine [15]

Part 2

Two games in and I cannot possibly rave enough about this list. Its durable, hits like a truck, and gives the opponents fits just considering how to play into it. I think, even if you simply have to borrow a wraith engine for a bit, everyone who plays cryx should try this list. 

First Games Impressions

The first two games were against Protectorate and Minions. In both of those games I felt that I was in near constant danger from assassination, but that my whole army was going to be enough to do the work. The Wraith engines are way, way more tanky than I had given them with the credit, and that is without the feat. With the feat, they are insane to remove and if the opponent has dice happen to them, it is even harder because they have little that can take out the incorporeal wraith engine, if it hasn’t attacked. That, though, is not a common event. Knowing when your Wraith Engine is going to be killed, no matter what you do, and making sure to get at least the three attacks with it before it does, is a key skill to being able to use the Wraith Engine to its maximum potential. As stated above, making sure that turn is also the turn that you feat is critical to making sure that your opponent spends the max possible resources to remove the big guys. Additionally, making sure that wherever they commit, that they are within threat of the opponents caster on the following turn will put additional threat on the clock, as well as making the opponent sweat. If you can get the maximum work out of your wraith engines while also positioning them to assassinate on the following turn and holding down scenario zones, you’ve done yourself a solid favor in getting the game to a good start. 

Skarre herself is fairly mediocre in the games. I used Hellfire, Dark Guidance, and Ritual Sacrifice. Blood Rain was a dead spell, and backlash was possible, but not worth it in one of the game. I will say that it feels very strange with her having Ritual Sacrifice. Back in previous editions I used her as a specialist caster into Warmachine so that I could get the most out of Backlash, but it feels pretty wrong to have been doing it. The past also created an incentive to using as many models as you could get so that your 5 damage really returned its investment. Now that she gives all models +5 STR and ARM, but has to take a point of damage for each one the tables have turned a bit and now you want to try and get a couple high-value models to feat on so that you can take the least damage possible while manufacturing the most damage into the opponent. Its a neat turn around on her former self that still maintains true to what her original functions are. 

One thing I did notice, that I was unable of breaking myself of, is that while the Dark Host theme provides clouds that are amazing at keeping her safe, they also make it so that she has much less force projection behind her physical threat because she can’t see anyone while standing in the buttcrack between two clouds. She is, overall, safer than she has been in multiple iterations but I see that she feels like an arc node would be welcome to allow her to toss spells a bit farther afield. She has little to do, without an arc node, with most of her focus. Ritual Sacrifice allows her to cast Dark Guidance every turn and still have either a few or a pile to allocate out to the rest of her jacks. On turn where she gets a big influx of focus, say a roll of 5 or 6, she can even fully fuel 3 jacks in the battlegroup which is her exact load in this list. 

Tweaks and Twists

Speaking of arc nodes, I really want to try and get her an arc node in the list, but I don’t see anything coming out of the list. Each part in the list compounds and expands on the last, creating a synergistic and deadly list able to threaten multiple vectors from far distances. 

The Extended Control Range on the Stalkers has proven to be very picky. I like that the bone jacks get 2 MAT 7 melee initials, and with an allocation of 2 focus, can on feat turn generate up to 5 P+S 17 attacks with grievous wounds. Trading them out for anything else would likely be a bad move. The Inflictor has held up his part of the bargain, saving Skarre from assassination at least once, and I believe both games. He’s also chipped in on the feat turn to deal significant damage to opposing heavies, sometimes even wrecking them straight out, and with 19 armor, he’s even harder to kill than a Wraith Engine, albeit anyone can commit. 

Darragh Wrathe is a damned boss, and I am going to need to get him painted soon. He’s a fairly strong monster in combat when needed, but spends most of his turns providing either increase speed or increased resilience. The increased speed is so vital for the Wraith engines, as 11″ is just far enough to make their threat range something to respect, with added problems because they can charge through most models, even ones taking free strikes with magic weapons, without hassle. 

Unfortunately, this list is just fine from the start. I don’t believe that I’ll be making any changes because the strength is apparent right from the start. Skarre should provide Dark Guidance and Feat to enough models that, many times, regardless of now numerous those models are, when they get there, they will destroy enough of the enemy army to begin the clean up process. There isn’t much nuance or learning curve to her, but I still find her great fun because powerful things are fun. I’m not one of the great, top tier players, so I don’t need to have the game constantly bending around my caster because otherwise mybrain gets bored. I’m just not that type of gamer. The list is good, the caster is strong, and I think that she could use a different list, though I struggle to find a list I think is acceptable that’s not this one. 

Part 3

Things I learned

With Skarre, there really isn’t a lot to learn about her play style and how she herself works. Each turn, you have your skarlock Ritually Sacrifice a model, and see if you can cast Dark Guidance while camping 3,4,5 or 6 focus. Then if you need Skarre to move to a safe position, she does that, and then you cast Dark Guidance. Once per game you peek your face out from behind the clouds to get your feat into the right position, hope you don’t die, and then run back to your terrified position, afraid for that single turn that everything goes south. It is the most likely time for it, though. Your opponent is likely on the ropes, you often have to leave yourself open for the feat to do its job, and your low on HP because you allocated and/or used your focus to make sure that feat was worth it. All of that stacking against the opponent sure makes it likely that they’ll reach for the hail mary, and you know its coming. 

That said, I don’t find her boring to play. Her feat and Dark Guidance are fairly simply, but with no other help to bolster the list on a turn by turn basis, it feels like you have to be much more careful with your army than you’d normally be. I like positioning games like that, to a point, but it is mostly because I ignore them and simply make my opponent be better than me at killing their models. Few are. 

Final List

Once again, I didn’t learn much here. The list that I was playing was so good and strong into so many lists that I just played that same list in every game. Its a great list, and even though its linked above, I’ll pull it down here so you don’t have to scroll. 

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

Pirate Queen Skarre [+28]
– Inflictor [13]
– Stalker [8]
– Stalker [8]
– Skarlock Thrall [0(4)]
Bane Lord Tartarus [0(6)]
Darragh Wrathe [9]
Necrotech [2]
Scrap Thralls [2]
Bane Knights (max) [15]
Bane Warriors (max) [16]
– Bane Warrior Officer & Standard [0(5)]
Wraith Engine [15]
Wraith Engine [15]

Overall Impressions

Skarre 1 is a great answer to a problem I always have when playing Cryx: our miserable MAT. She gives nearly everything in our stable a chance to hit everything on the board, and to feel that way is pretty slick. Adding in Tartarus, Rengrave, or Gerlak makes it all just a little stronger. Compounding that with a feat that is backbreaking, and I don’t know why I haven’t reached for her more often. I love the power she brings to the table, and I can see myself building all sorts of different lists with her in all types of themes. What she doesn’t have, and something I am strongly aware of, is a way to protect herself against anything but the most woefull efforts to kill her. DEF 16 ARM 15 just isn’t enough most days. 

Strong Points

Skarre Brings power and accuracy to the faction, often in compounding ways. In a faction that likes to swing the math against army by -4 or more, she can easily hit -7 on feat turn, making the effort to destroy enemy armies rather insignificant. She can turn even the weakest, inaccurate model into a powerhouse for a turn, if its needed. She’s a very Cryxian support caster, and I appreciate it. I do want to try and stick in a node into the list, somehow, but I have to figure out how that is ever going to work. Simply having the option to try and land some of the spells she has would be nice. 

Being able to either absorb the alpha, and give out two, back to back, in return is something that Cryx often isn’t excelling at. Often we end up absorbing losses, and hoping that the opponent can’t keep up. If the opponent can, then our list folds, if they cannot, then we end up winning that battle of attrition. Skarre turns that on its head and informs the opponent that they are going to eat at least one round, if not two, of getting completely pounded, because that is what Cryx can do if they are allowed. She is great for making the most out of the models on the board. 

Problem Areas

While Skarre is a great caster, though possibly boring, she does have problems keeping her head attached to hear shoulders. Instead, she likes to put her face out there and, as a good friend said once, aggressively expose herself in order to win the game. Because she;s not removing dice from the situation via Stationary or Knockdown, she can have dice go south on her, and if it does, the game gets put on a notice really quickly. She can solve armor, but only for a round, which can be quite tricky. A list that is durable with a significant ranged presence can prove formidable to her list, as she hates using her feat defensively. wasting half her feat just to deliver models isn’t as good as it once was. Keeping her safe is the number one priority throughout the game, and that means that you have to know all of the enemies tricks, which means knowing their army better than they do. Playing her may be simple, but being prepared to player her is anything but. 

Final Thoughts 

Skarre is a very good caster, one of the best. I don’t know that she breaks the top three, though. Denny 1, Coven, and Scaverous are all excellent. She is clearly top 5. The hard part here is deciding if she is better than Lich 2 or not. I am going to go with she is not. She has no way of protecting herself regardless of theme, and has no capacity to affect the game long term with anything beyond Dark Guidance. She is great, but not the greatest. 

Rating: 9.2

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