Tour de Cryx – The Warwitch Inevitability – Complete Post

This is the Penultimate large article, on one of the best lists and casters that Cryx has access to. Its coming’ out a bit late, as the sun may be setting on her dominion over the game, but I still think the experience is worth Documenting. Welcome To Ghost Fleet. 

When I left to go to Lock and Load, I brought with me 7 lists. I had to finish Aiakos and start a few other casters, but I was intending on playing Masters in the morning on Friday, and it was a tournament I knew that I’d have to be at the top of my game to really have a shot, so I made sure to bring the games bogeyman with me – Deneghra 1 and Ghost Fleet. After the first day, I just wasn’t feeling like I was going to be up to the challenge that masters brought, so I bowed out. That did leave me in a pretty rough dilema, though. I was playing in Iron Area with possibly one of the best lists in the game. So, of course I started asking people if they wanted to get an Unfun, irritating game in. Bizzarely, I piked up four games like that!

Part 1

The exploration of this list happened in a pretty limited fashion I started out trying to make a list that had three full units of Revenant crew, but it just wasn’t letting me have the models I though were needed in the list. I paid attention to what the internet was saying, and took care to understand the interactions. Still, though, I wasn’t prepared. 

Initial Impressions

The basics of the list are pretty well known, and we were after the Muse on Con sweep by Tim Banky, so the lists were starting to coagulate around his clearly winning formula., for good reasons. That list has a ton of great things going for it, not the least of which is the caster at the helm, Deneghra 1. 

Deneghra is one of the best and most versatile casters in the faction, and she bends both it and the game around herself in magnificent ways. First, lets take a look at her offensive stats, though technically that is all of them. Here above average speed of 7 comes into play here, putting her into solid positions through out the game and allowing her run of 14″ and charge of 12″ to keep many of your opponents models honest and threatening vast portions of the board. Both her MAT and RAT scores leave a lot to be desired at 5, but that is fine. While she is a caster that gets a ton of work done, it is not in either melee or ranged combat, and instead is a spellslinger extraordinaire, represented by her solid FOC of 7. Her melee weapon, Sliver, does have some solid applications, but with her low MAT and its low P+S of 12 she relies on its crowd control and debuffing applications, applying Shadow Bind whenever she hits the target is pretty strong. 

Defensively she picks up for what she lacks in offence. She boasts a strong, if fragile, defensive statline at 16/14. It keeps her safe from most unboosted ranged attacks, and calls into question only moderately accurate boosted shots. While hitting that 11 on three dice is average, coinflips aren’t really what a player wants to rely on. She only has 16 HP, which makes her tough, but not incredibly so with her weak armor. Even focus only gets her to ARM 19, and that is an easily surpassed target. What really keeps her safe in most games, though, are her two advantages, Stealth and Parry. Making sure you are careful in her placement means that she can often simply sit in the back of the list and huck a million spells, which is very much what she wishes to be doing from turn to turn. She surprisingly has soul cages, which can prove useful from time to time, most often in the lists that allow Soul Trappers. She just isn’t close enough most times to get use of the ability herself.

Her spell list is extremely good, which as I type it feels like the worst understatement I can make. Its phenomenal. It does almost everything that you could possibly want of a spell list, and even then it does more than you’d expect.

Offesnsively, she has two damaging spells, Scourge and Venom. Both of them are fairly tame at first blush but are both extremely strong. Venom is a spray, and that alone allows her to ignore a vast array of defenses that would normally be granted by a number of abilities, and it is really cheap. Its cost allows it to be cast, if nothing else is needed, up to 3 times a round, and this can often spell the demise of a tightly packed unit, with corrosion on hit allowing it to pick off 2/3 of the models it doesn’t kill outright. It is a crowd clearing spell at its best. Scourge, on the other hand, is a spell that should probably be single target and can be used to catch more or even drift and catch its initial target no matter what. The fact that is a POW 13 spell is pretty good to begin with, but an AOE 3 Knockdown effect is simply overkill. Yes, it costs 4 but that is only a fair cost for a spell that will often end games when it hits. Combined with her feat and parasite, and you can often nearly negate two of the opponents best defensive stats in a single go. 

Speaking of Parasite, we can go into the pair of debuffs that she brings to the game. First, Crippling Grasp, what was once the best and most feared spell in the game. Now, it is but a great spell. What is really great about this spell is that it swings both sides of the table. Reducing ARM and DEF help the Cryx player capitalize and take down what they can, and the reduction to SPD and STR help to make sure that the models affected are solidly out of the game for a turn or two until you can deal with them, often meaning that this spell is best cast on a unit, one that will have members left around from turn to turn. This can also be used against models that can’t be knocked down to reduce their defense some. Parasite, on the other hand is a much better single target spell, as it reduces armor alone, at a 50% improved rate over Crippling grasp. This is best used with Scourge to also reduce the defense of the target model to trash status. Don’t forget the slight ARM buff that is granted to the caster, too. I have yet to have it play a part in a game I’ve been in, but I am sure it could one day. 

Finally, we have the two utility spells on her card, Ghostwalk and Dark SeductionGhost Walk may very well be my favorite spell in the game. Free Strikes and Terrain are two things that really can bog you down during a game, forcing you to slow down, go around or chop your way free. Ghost walk solves all of those problems for a steal of a cost. Dark Seduction is a complicated spell that, at its heart, allows you to make a move and attack with a model once per turn. Its not really the most efficient use of a spell, but it has its very, very corner case uses. I see use for it when I have my opponent with two models left in a zone and I don’t have any way of removing them except an arc node that’s too far away to melee them. You can take control of one and moving her out of the zone and make an attack on the other, hopefully killing him and making sure that you can score the zone. It has so many implications that it is really hard to state the possibilities, but it is also expensive enough that you can’t cast it twice in a turn, so you want to make sure that you get it right the first time. 

Finally, we come to her Feat, and what a Feat it is. This is the bar to which all other feats are measured in term of sheer effect on the board in a single turn. Properly applies, this feat allows everything within your reach to be annihilated, and everything that could threaten any good retaliation to be neutered for a turn. The Withering can be both a time walk and a destroyer feat, and it is a right glorious thing. Its not really complicated in application either, as you decided at the start of the game whether your going to use it for attrition or assassination. If the caster is hard to crack, and your army is going to do enough work, then you can often simply save it. However, if the caster is fragile, you can use the feat pretty early to gain a leg up on the attrition game and then apply Scourge and Parasite to the caster when you get a chance and go for the assassination then. 

Deneghra is, as I said earlier, one of the best casters in the stable, and for a long time in the entire game. Keeping her safe and making sure that she doesn’t aggressively expose herself and die can lead to a lot of lopsided games resolving in your favor, a strong caster for tournaments. 

First list

The list That I brought along wasn’t one that Tim had perfected, but it was one that has a full unit of Blackbanes. I’m sure you’ve heard of the Ghost Fleet list that was everyone’s most worry some opponent for the duration of the summer. Here was my completely unoriginal take. 

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

 Warwitch Deneghra [+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 (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 (2) [4]
Wraith Engine [15]

I originally, following the advice of a friend, had the Harrower in the list instead of the two stalkers. I’m not saying that he was wrong, but man I had enjoyed the stalkers in Aiakos and Mortenebra, and I really wanted to try and see how they would do under Deneghra 1, so here I was, defying my own love of the Harrower in order to try out more stalkers. 

Part 2

First Games Impressions

The first two games were diametric opposites in terms of how the games played out, and I learned a lot about how the list played from them both. The first was against Gunbjorn, and a pile of Troll Heavies. This was on a table where I really couldn’t bring the Wraith Engine to bear, so  he was a pretty scary side note in the game, trying to drop armor down to a reasonable level so that I could get the few models I in range onto the heavy to kill it. I managed, after a back and forth game, to scourge and then shoot down Gunbjorn after his feat turn. 

The second game was against the massive and terrifying Kromack 1. Unfortunately, he wandered about 3/4″ to close and with only one fury, I feat, and burn him down with a hail of gunfire. 

What really impressed me here, in both games, was the quantity of effects and abilities that the list brings to bear that you have to answer in a meaningful way, or often end up fighting the wrong side of an uphill battle.

  • Crippling Grasp can stop melee units nearly cold, and slow units become burdens.
  • Parasite reduces most armor to trivial levels.
  • Revenenats are legitimately scary in both ranged and melee
  • There are 13 models with Incorporeal, with 46 total boxes
  • 11 guns with Ghost shot
  • Possible Stationary
  • Auto Knockdown from a Scourge less than 4″ out. 
  • Headbutts from leaping Stalkers
  • Machine Wraith generation
  • Recursion of both Blackbanes and Revenant Crew
  • The Impossibility of killing Rengrave 8 times out of 10

The list isn’t even exhaustive, it is just what I remember off the top of my head. This list and caster can simply melt down models at will, and it can be extremely trying for the opponent to keep up. 

Tweaks and twists

One of the parts of the list that I talked with Tim about was that the Blackbanes are often, as a max unit, a Win-More product. Instead, minimizing them and taking an additional rifle and the Revenant Cannon will often help you win some of those games where you were just unable to put the right amount of damage into a caster. After playing the list twice, I understood where he was with his thinking. I wished I had had the cannon with me in Seattle. 

Instead, though, I made the best of the large unit of Blackbanes, often running them around the back of the opponents army while the Wraith Engine beat down on the center, with the goal of them having to split their army in two directions in order to deal with threats that can only be deal with by Magic Damage, and it tended to work. Running alongside the Stalkers, they had to devote significant resources to take down the flank I was screaming down their side, all the while they have the Revenants and the Wraith Engine coming up the center. 

Denny, for all her power and glory, is still the same old Denny I used back in the start of the game. She is powerful, frail, and needs to commit to be able to turn the tide of the game. Ghost Fleet takes that and turns it sideways by making her troops carry the weight of the game without her feat, making her feat and her exposure that much stronger. With two arc nodes I feel that I have to be more careful than I normally would with three, my desired number with her, but the Stalkers are just so amazing. 

All in all, the list hums, and the caster is, surprising no one, amazing. 

Part 3

Things I learned

I learned that Deneghra is awesome. This isn’t really that big of a revelation, but it is important. It shows that there are still very powerful casters in the game that can simply take hold of a game and run away with it if they aren’t prepared for. Her spell list is withering, her feat is crippling, her defenses are strong, and she can often simply wait out the game in the back, making sure that she has a few models to take advantage of her feat with. 

The other thing that I really want to stress is that while the best Ghost Fleet list might be Deneghra 1, it is likely that Deneghra 1 the best of many theme lists. She does so much and carries the weight of the faction that exploring her playable space is very important. Deneghra 1 may be the best ghost fleet, but the best Deneghra 1 may not be ghost fleet. 

Final List

After playing a couple games both with and without the Pirate Cannon, I can say that it didn’t perform all that well. Instead, I would have had literally anything else in the army that could fit. Sadly, nothing fits at 4 points, and removing that 9th rifle just doesn’t seem worth it. At the end of the day, its the best of the choices for the slot. The final list is this

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

Warwitch Deneghra [+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]

Its an enjoyable and good, and therefore the most common, usage of Ghost Fleet. It very well may be the best, and Deneghra might just turn it completely to 11.

Overall Impressions

Deneghra is, after all these years, still a powerful caster. I don’t know how many times I can say it, and she deserves all the praise and hate she gets as a powerful caster. She brings a form of debuffing that is unseen in the faction, and really across the game. She takes the best parts of your opponents casters and reduces them to either worthless or, at best, simply bad. Cryx is filled with models that lie just on the wrong side of the power curve, and she makes them sing with but the smallest of her debuffs. It is really satisfying to know that you can remove a colossal with something like 5 Revenant Crew. She does have weaknesses and parts of the game she’s not expecting to have to deal with, and when she does she has plans for addressing them, though they are not always A+ plans, they are often still good. 

Deneghra is the reason I don’t understand how Jacks work and may never learn, because she – along with her brethren from Prime, turn her factions infantry into destructive wrecking balls. Without the leverage that these casters grant to the faction, I don’t know how we take to the table on even footing. You don’t need to have any of them in a pairing to do well, but Cryx is, I do believe, based on the -4 Arm swing, and achieving it with the least disruption to your lists is often in the best interest of the game. 

Strong Points

 Deneghra has a lot to offer every army she is part of. Looking at her side of the table, Crippling Grasp can act like an armor buff, threat extension, accuracy buff and damage buff. Its simply a great spell, and it can be used to great affect when applied. Taking care to place your debuffs early and to cycle them at the right time is one of her critical skills and can take a game you should lose and make it a game. 

She is personally safe in most games, and is very safe is a lot of SR17 games where the terrain and killbox enables her to stay far back from the engagement lines. She does lack for pathfinder, which is pretty frustrating at times, but a well timed Ghost Walk will often solve these issues. 

One of the big realizations I had with her is that she can, fairly easily, delete 3 heavies on her feat turn (each taking -4 or -5 to armor) as each of the Revenant crew does an average of 8.5 damage to arm 20 you only need 4 or 5 to take the heavy out, and that is with the -4 to armor. When you do get the trifecta of Feat, Dark Shroud and Parasite it drops an arm 20 to a simple 13. Revenant crew are charging at dice -2. The next realization is that I don’t often need the feat to take down a single target. If I can get the Wraith Engine to it, it is not all to difficult to apply the -4 ARM and kill a heavy with 5 models or a colossal with 7. 

Problem Areas

Deneghra has a few problem areas, and though they aren’t particularly troublesome, they are there. 

First, she is squishy. Sporting only 16 HP and an arm of 14, once people start dropping attacks into her, she will fall. While its unlikely to happen, know that two POW 21’s straight up kill her through any amount of focus, and that three 18’s are only one box shy of finishing her off. If your opponent has ways of ignoring stealth or knocking you down, be wary. Try to maintain at least 11″ between you and a possible shooting target. 

From the other side of the board, she hates to see spell immune models, especially casters. These reduce her possible effectiveness down to a single -4 arm swing when under the Withering and Dark Shroud. It is still very good, and will often be enough, but knowing that you have to try and keep the Wraith Engine alive while they try with everything they have to remove it is really important. Additionally, she doesn’t like models immune to knockdown. Again, she can largely take most of the casters down a notch with her feat and Crippling Grasp, but missing only on snake eyes and missing on 6’s is a lot different, especially for models that might need to move to get into range because of Death Bound. 

Finally, and this is less her than the list, This list hates seeing stealth. Its really the only thing that can’t be ignored by the Revenent Crew Riflemen, the other being elevation) If you see a Spell Immune, Steady, Stealth caster, get ready because its going to be a bumpy ride. 

Final thoughts

Everyone should get the experience of playing with Deneghra. I mean everyone, too, not just Cryx players. Each and every player should get the ability to try and feel out how powerful it is to have so much control over the opponents stats. It’s amazing. She holds one of the top slots in the faction, if not the top slot, and is easily a caster that you could play exclusively and still get piles of great games in. 

Score: 9.7