Unit Spotlight – Revenant Crew of the Atramentous

I’ve decided to do a new type of Irregular article. Instead of showing off the models that I’ve painted and just be “hey, lookie!” I am going to, in addition to showing of the models, kinda breakdown the model, the game system its in, and what role it brings, or does not bring, to the table. Some of these, like the one I am bringing you now, will be deep and thorough because I’ve played the system for so long. Others, like the WWX and Relic Knights, will be more expectation based!

This one is higher on my priority list, because they just performed like a horrid stinking mess in my last game, and I really want to just work out why they are worse, what they do, and why its no good for almost every list I can think of.
However, I’ll try to be both positive and critical, when the needs warrant it.

 

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so, lets start at the top:
The statline:

SPDSTRMATRATDEFARMCMD
665413127

its a pretty sorry setup, right off the bat. Speed is average, though 6 isn’t anything to be ashamed of, and STR 6 is also pretty average for an infantry model. Their MAT is a significantly below average 5, and their RAT is significantly miserable at 4 to not consider using their guns at all. DEF 13 is solid for a Cryx infantry model, but isn’t anything to be proud of. To compare with other infantry:
Cryx, 8 (66%) ten man units have a 12 or less, 4 (33%) have 13 or higher.
Cygnar:3 (33%) at 12 or less and  6 (66%) have 13 or higher
Khador: 4 (66%) at 12 or less and 2 (33%) have 13 or higher, and
Protectorate: 4 (66%) at 12 or less, and 2 (33%) have 13 or higher. 

Honestly, this is the first time I have run those numbers, so to speak, and it interests me in a couple ways, and makes me think a little higher of def 13 on 10 man units.

ARM 12 is the armor of chumps, and they die to even pow 5 blasts on average dice. The paltry command of 7 makes a few of the rules to come even worse.

Just looking at the stats, everything cries to keep them in the case or the foam, and not on the table, but there are a couple of interesting rules that make your head start tickin’, trying to find a way to use them well.

Weapons:
P+S 9 Cutlas (melee)
Pow 10 Pistol (range 8)

Traits: Undead – This is nothing new to Cryx, and has a few really nice interactions. Immunity to fear and fleeing is the big one that affects both target selection and unit coherency. The ability to ignore terror checks in any manner means that I can commit them harder to any position that a non-fearless troop could, and still expect them to hold ground and not flee at the worst time.

Abilities:
Gang: This ability is the staple conditional MAT increaser. Originally it represented an incoherent mob of rag tag, dubious abilities that got threatening only when they ganged up on targets. Now, it is added to many units to represent team tactics, savage ferocity, or simple to keep points down. Because it Increases MAT while 2 more models of the same unit are attacking the same target, it can be tricky to use, but its generally an always on ability because you can just run a model to get a gang attack at the +2 MAT and + 2 damage that the skill grants.

Point Blank: This allows them to use their irrelevant pistols in combat as melee weapons, making them slightly more relevant. Because they use MAT and are considered melee for the attacks, it pairs up splendidly with gang. 

Deathbound: The signature ability of the Revenat crew is also their greatest hangup. The ability to return to play after being destroyed is magnificent in theory, and can be extremely useful against melee armies.

All of this comes in a 6/9 package. Its an expensive cost in an army that also sports Bane Thralls, Bloodgorgers, Satyxis Raiders and Bile thralls at 5/8, Blackbanes Ghost raiders at 6/9 and Mechanithralls, Satyxis Bloodwitches, and Cephalyx Druges at the bottom tier. The only 10 man unit more expensive is the Bane Knights. They have vengance, higher armor, higher MAT, reach, ghostly, weaponmaster, and speed 5: but reach more than nullifies that advantage. (9.5″ threat on the Pirates, 10″ on the Bane Knights).

Now, I can’t talk about a unit without its Weapon Attachment being mentioned. They are the whole reason I am even talking about this unit in the first place. The Riflemen have the exact same stat line, and the exact same rules set, with two exceptions. The first is CRA – They are allowed to make Combined Ranged Attacks with each other, in order to increase their accuracy and damage. This pulls their measly rat 4 up to 7 if they are all together, and a respectable 8 if they stand still… or just the leader of the CRA. The second difference is their pistols almost double in range to 14″. This allows them to stand in the back and take pot shots at nearby infantry and vulnerable solos. They cost a single point each to a max of three in a unit, taking the unit up all the way to 12. Sadly, the unit wants to be running or charging most turns, either to try and make the best out of Deathbound, or to try and get attacks in before they die. That tends to leave the poor riflemen out in the cold, as they can’t even stand or shoot during those turns.

So, the unit is an expensive unit in the context of Cryx with pretty terrible stats, which is par for the course in the faction. They have the benefit of being undead and having two attacks each in melee, and a small ranged weapon. The human merc pirates are 5/8 with the exact same stat line and abilities, with the exception of Undead and Deathbound. Undead is worth a point, probably, and Deathbound is probably worth something, so I get where the 6/9 cost comes from. It makes no sense in the terms of the factions infantry and their choices they have, but I’ll give them that it seems pretty logical. The Command 7 and the exact wording of Deathbound is what really gives it the nudge into poor territory. You can only be returned to the unit, on the start of the Cryx players next turn, under two conditions. The first is that you were destroyed in formation. Any RFP effects or change in formation strategies will work to stop the reincarnation. The second is that the whichever model was the leader when you were destroyed is still on the board. Every time the leader is destroyed, the models that were going to come back are removed from the game and no longer allowed to return. This gives a big target to the leader model, one that just can’t be ignored. You’d want to keep him safe, but that requires either an Ogrun Bokur to eat the shots, or a cloud model, or some other forms of shenanigans to protect him, which Cryx is in great lack of supply. The recursion, now much harder to get mileage out of that the opponent knows to destroy the quartermaster at the end of every turn (or just constantly shoot the Quartermaster. it removes at least that one model from the game every turn.), is very shaky, and that counts against the unit overall. The second strike is that the unit seems built from the ground up to be an anti mid defense infantry unit. with Gang bringing their MAT up to 7 and having two attacks, they can take out mid-ground, 14 defense units without a problem. The issue with that is that those units rarely see the game. Either the defense is so low, or the armor/wounds so high, that it doesn’t matter, or the defense is so shockingly high that there is nothing the Crew can ever hope to hit. This can be alleviated somewhat by the Veteran Leader ability of Rengrave giving out +2 to attack rolls made when you can see him. Veteran Leader, however, is a very tricky ability to get to work normally, let alone while trying to set up gang attacks.

I can see their use, I really can. I just don’t think that between their point cost and the role they play that they are generally worth taking to many games, and I’d never take them to a tournament, they’d be smashed off the table with the amount of combined arms that is hanging around in every army these days.

So, enough with the bad! Lets take a look at what support casters can give them to try and maximize their meager abilities. I like to look at units in conjunction with casters. As good as a unit may be, if there is no caster to support it, it won’t matter. So, below is my rating scale for a model/unit, respective to the caster I am talking about.
Scale:
0 – I’d never bring this unit with this warcaster, and the unit has heavy negative synergy
1 – I’d bring this only in a gimicky list centered on this model/units and its ingame ineractions.
2 – I’s consider bringing this model/unit with this warcaster, with the proper support units and as a points filler
3- When taking this caster I  debate bringing this model/unit every time
4- When taking this caster, I find it hard to leave home without this model/unit
5- This model/unit is an Auto-include for this caster.

Asphyxious I – Scything touch and Parasite make a great combo for any melee unit, and hitting at effective P+S 16/17 is no joke. (2)

Asphyxious II – Parasite still exists, and the added clouds make sure that the Revenant Crew can get to combat. However, there exists enormous anti-synergy with his feat, as they remove themselves from play when the Quartermaster is killed. (0)
Asphyxious III – The Return of Scything Touch is welcomed, but the loss of Parasite is not. Carnage Makes them hit at MAT 9, and Ashen Veil bumps their defense up to a very respectable 15. (3)

Deneghra I – What does Deneghra I not make better? Crippling Grasp and her feat makes them MAT 11 and P+S 15/16. It’ll threaten a pile of Cygnar and Ret Jacks, and makes them that much better at removing infantry.Ghost Walk mitigates their lack of pathfinder, enabling them to reach different places than they normally would. (1)

Deneghra II – Bringing along Ghost Walk like Deneghra 1, She also brings Curse of Shadows to allow movement through models and immunity to free strikes, as well as Marked for Death making their pistols an amazing rat 8 if in site of Rengrave. With very little melee assistance, though, this seems to make for a poor match. (2)

Skarre I – Skarre I is another fantastic caster able to prop up even the weakest unit. Her feat and Dark guidance makes every unit hit like gangbusters, and the pirates at MAT 7+3d6 and Pow 16/17 again, you could do a lot worse. (2)

Skarre II – I originally thought Skarre II would support the Revenants, but after a number of games, I was unable to keep the Quartermaster alive through anything, including under her feat. With no way to up damage output, and black spot being much harder to take advantage of than it seems, I was really disappointed (0)

Goreshade I – Goreshade provides less than nothing to the Revenants. No way to debuff arm, and no way to increase accuracy or surviveability, I’d leave them at home every time.   (0)

Gorhshade II – Curse of Shadows is good, and sudden death has decent synergy with their ability to come back from the dead. Occultation could allow them to get to combat safely, but that’s generally on Goreshade for safeties sake. Also, they aren’t banes. So many Strikes! (0)

Goreshade III – Scything Touch makes another appearance here, which is good, as does Occulatation, but there is serious problems with Mockery of Life, as they are once again removed from Play. The feat has some neat interactions ad they’d just come back next round. (3)

Terminus – These used to be the best thing for Terminus next to sliced bread, but the Cabin Boy/Sac Pawn interaction has been culled from the game. While they’d be really nice sac-pawn targets with returning tough, Bane Knights Vengance and better overall application trumps them unless you bring a specific build for them. (1)

The Witch Coven – Both Occulation and their feat are very good for preventing the Quartermaster from dying on the way in. Curse of Shadows is a good armor debuff, and both Veil of Mists and Ghost Walk make terrain and other models not even matter. (2)

Mortenebra – Mortenebra joins the list of casters who bring nothing to the table for the poor Revenants, with some units thats OK. With the Revenants, its not so much (0)

Venethrax – Chalk him up there with Mortenebra, Goreshade and Asphyxious II. He’s just got nothing for them. (0)

Scaverous – While some casters bring nothing, at least scaverous has a def debuff. The Feast of Worms and Icy Grip can make a poor mans Crippling Grasp, but most of the time its just not worth it (1)

Best Caster: Asphyxious III – He’s got a suite of abilities that make them easy to deliver, hard hitting and accurate, and he’s the only one of the bunch that has all three.
Worst Caster: Goreshade I – He has his own set of problems, but the Revenants don’t even try to help here.

Results: I really wish they were better, as they are some of my conceptually favorite models. However, their focus on the leader of the unit in MK II, when there are so many ways to snipe out the leader of a unit, I just don’t find them incredibly compelling, and their mediocre stats are just a sour cherry on top. An easy to remove and counter unit at an elite unit price just drives in the final nail in the coffin. Maybe they can get a Unit Attachment that allows something really, really fun, and on that Day, I’ll review them again.