I just wanted to share a couple observations that I had while playing them.
-My fears about them having their leaders sniped out from under them are relatively true. While its not going to happen from direct shots, Arc Nodes and AOE’s are going to require some very specific positioning in order to keep some of them alive long enough to matter.
-The Agitators are awesome on a stick. While they are able to instigate, and turn the below average troopers into elites, they also have a Magic Attack 7, LOS ignoring Pow 12 spray attack as well. With Sacrificial Pawn: Monstrosity they are unlikely to go down to shooting – everyone I played didn’t even bother. I will almost always have the Max FA, because they are solid even when they are not Instigating, and the redundancy makes me feel I can use one or two a bit more aggressively.
-Monstrosities are incredibly durable. Arm 17 doesn’t mean much in the world of Warmachine, but the 36 point damage grid really does, to the point that Pow 19 needs 4 hits to kill. Which equates to a Bronzeback, or a fully loaded Juggernaut that does not miss a single attack. That is not an easy task for every army, and A single flubbed roll could either add an extra attack, and thus extra resources, or fail to kill it at all. In contrast, a Slayer dies to 3 attacks with 5 damage to spare. That is a ton of wiggle room mitigated by 8 more HP. Pow 18 pops it up to 5 attacks to kill, and this is where most damage I think about lies. 5 attacks is nothing to scoff at, especially when you’re looking into the face of mind benders and Mind Slaver Drudges along with at least two other Monstrosities sitting, waiting to maul you to death. Pow 18 gives you a little wiggle room to flub some damage, with 4 boxes to spare, but not a whole lot. Charge damage skews the number a bit, adding 3 more damage on average to a jack’s charging total, sometimes It’ll drop an attack off, and sometimes it wont. but even then, the extra attack needed to kill the Monstrosities can skew the math enough in your direction that they will over-correct and over commit, and I think that is a good thing.
I also tended to keep my monstrosities back behind my front line of drudges. They can’t eat a ton of ‘Jack or ‘Beast charges and live, but they sure can counterpunch with the best of em and I’d rather have them alive and kicking then eating charges to the face.
A quick thought on each unit/model
For being extremely maligned as a Cryx unit, the Mind Slaver and Drudge unit did very, very well. It could be that the Agiatators and the Mind Benders solve almost every problem they have, and that Thexus leaves them with only one – Speed. With the full compliment of buffs up and running, each Drudge is a MAT 7, P+S 15, Arm 17 against shooting, tough, eyeless sight, fearless model. Everything there is good!
They are, however, Painfully slow. This means that you’re never going to jam the opponent, and that you’re most likely going to be digging your way to a scenario win, as opposed to forcing it. Thankfully, drudges are tough to kill, both literally and ability wise, and can really keep a scenario zone clogged. Combine with Thexus’ feat, TK and Pistol Wraiths, and you’ve got yourselves a good setup for grinding out attrition.
The Mind Bender unit is a blast to play, and supremely versatile. I enjoy the order of operations puzzle that is their activation every turn, and that you can both make attacks with, and spray/detonate from a drudge in a single turn. They are exceptionally great at freeing up charge lanes or moving Drudges into them, while still doing damage to the enemy. Agitators make these guys a fearsome MAT 7 and P+S 14, and that is nothing to scoff at. You will find yourself hard pressed to charge with the unit, as the Mind Bender can’t make his special actions or attacks if you do. That means that these guys are largely a secondary unit, and taking two of them could slow you down. If you’re looking at a third infantry unit, go Mind Slaver.
Cephalyx Overlords may be my favorite unit for the whole army, and I just used them as spray-bots. Magic Attack 7 and POW 12 is nothing to turn a blind eye to, and it is very easy to get 2+ in every spray. the TK, you can make sure You’ve got a good target, and with the feat you can bunch tough models up for multiple sprays. I even used anatomical precision when I couldn’t risk the hard 8 to loose the game. I can’t say enough good things about this unit, and I’m seriously considering a second unit. It depends on the rest of Thexus’ Theme force.
The Dominator is extremely hit or miss, and for me, he’s been missing. Both games I played him in Croe and his cutthroats were pretty lackluster. Agitators don’t work on them, Mind benders can’t explode them, and the Dominator doesn’t have a spray. I’m looking for a different unit, but I am also trying to get more games in with them first. Maybe I’ll get a juicy target for backstabbing poisons here soon and feel real good about myself.
The Agitator is the glue that holds the army together and the machine that makes it hum. I thought that getting the +2/+2 aura would be hard, but its really, exceedingly easy. With the armies slow speed and the durability of your front line troops, having three Agitators running around the back lines of your army applying the +2/+2 wherever you want is trivial. Four in Thexus’ theme force is going to be bonkers. On top of all of that, they also have influence in a pinch, and Psychic Assault. I was using Psychic Assault repeatedly over the course of the game to remove pesky models or clear off Monstrosities so that they could get out and do some damage (with another Agitator instigating!). Not only the best solo/model, but also the most fun to play, and amazingly realized and sculpted to boot.
Now we get to the Meat and Potatoes of the army – The Monstrosities.
The Warden is by far my favorite sculpt, but sadly not my favorite in usefulness. Its good, don’t get me wrong. None of the Monstrosities are bad, but its not really the protection piece it screams out to be. I played it very much like a Titan Gladiators little brother, and it worked well that way. Grand Slam and Follow up can be a really good tactic for getting models out of zones and knocking other models down for either the Warden to finish off, or for other models to do for it. That extra armor, too, makes it much more durable, adding a complete attack on to kill it, most days.
The Wrecker is the obvious front runner for best Monstrosity, as its the work horse of them. P+S 19, Reach, Beat Back and Chain Attack- Bloodbath is enough rules for one day, let alone the massive amount of punishment it takes to get put down. Provided it can get there, it will be the bane of ‘Jacks, ‘Beasts, Cav and heavy infantry. Its as good in action as it is on paper. Its also not as hard to keep in the 5″ Agitator bubble as it would seem, as he can reach out to 9″ past the Agitator and still be getting the bonus’
The Subduer is my call for most underrated, and I can see why. Its not the same type of beat stick or utility that either other Monstrosity is, but I really like it. Hanging back and waiting for the opportune time to reach out and net someone, or just someone close enough to the target, while absorbing bullets meant for Thexus and the Agitators is just a really good role to have. Towards the end of the game, when all that is left is the remnants of the opponents army, its going to be nice to have a Subduer in your pocket.
Exulon Thexus is probably one of the most fun casters that I’ve ever played. he’s got all of the tools to make the army hum, a damage spell he can toss two off out, and a feat that’s just a blast. I did find, however, that getting his spells channeled was a lot harder than I’d initially expected.Every time I wanted an arcnode there, I also wanted that heavy to be doing something afterward. I think running my Monstrosities forward/center might help this a bit, but I will have to give it a whirl. Even if he is just sitting back, biding his time for the feat and fueling Monstrosities, I think he is doing his job. Monstrosities get a ton of work done, and he will keep them going all.Night. Long.
Lastly, I want to talk about the Cryx solos. they don’t quite count as Cephalyx, but they are allowed in the contract so it makes sense to talk about them. First, the Bloat Thrall, which I did use. Its a mobile artillery piece that seems to fail more often than it succeeds and has some terrible threat range Issues, however I still want to keep at it. Its a solid 2 pt piece that helps with infantry clearing that makes the Monstrosities jobs that much easier.
Second, the Pistol Wraith. I’ve used more than my fair share in Cryx, and he’s a stellar, if finicky piece. Deceleration helps that immensely, putting him up to def 16 and arm 14 against any magical guns. He gets two shots for 3 points, but they are powerful and accurate shots, so its positively worth it. What really puts the icing on the cake though is Death Chill. Combined with TK and the feat, it is extremely possible to pull a model completely out of contention and then make sure It either acts or gets back into the think of things.
Finally, the Machine Wraith. For a single point, you can do much worse than a nearly invincible zone contender, and combined with Rampager, it can give Thexus play against both Warmachine and Hordes. Its a solid pickup if you’ve got the single point floating around.
I’ll be getting a game in with them tomorrow, and I’ll be sure to write it up. I’ll very likely be using the army through August, so stay tuned for even more.