Welcome to Skell Part 4 – List Building

This is the Fourth of a series directed at new players, but hopefully with some nuggets for veterans and journeymen alike. This is a post about my opinions on Cryx from the vantage point three editions and dating back to 2004. Today I’ll take a look at building lists and making them sing. 

Articles in this series: 
1 – Faction Overview
2- Warcasters
3 – Themes

Once you’ve gotten to the point where you’re working past the Battle box and getting into the depths of starting to build lists on your own, it both feels intimidating and liberating. While there are few things as exhilarating as creating your own lists that both function and win, there are many pitfalls along the way that are easy to miss and can be very frustrating as you iterate and try to perfect what you’ve created. With a little bit of forewarning, or simply knowledge of consequences of your choices, they can easily be overcome or expected. 

Starting Points

The starting points of many lists, especially in the beginning of the game, is what to run with specific casters. There are other, different starting points that are worth exploring, but for right now, I’m going to walk through the steps of how you would go building a list that is strong with a given caster, and how to leverage their strengths and shore up their weaknesses. This is the same path you can take for every caster in any faction, but I;ll be specific to Cryx here in my examples. 


The first thing you’re going to want to reach for is a theme. As discussed last week, this will provide you with the starting point of your force and give you an idea of what you want to put in the list. The choice here will steer you through a number of courses, so make sure that you know what you want and why you want it. Check out the whole article on them, because they are a big deal, and I don’t want to rehash and take up a ton of space here. Building from a casters point of view, you’re going to want to have this in the back of your mind while evaluating the model the first time, and reach for themes that provide the largest synergy models for you, while also creating the least amount of overlap with the casters innate abilities. 


Don’t worry if you don’t feel comfortable in the theme. If you choose later to back out because the theme doesn’t fit what you want to do with the caster, just jump out to a different one. Building lists is half the fun of the game, and seeing where you can tweak and twist it after a couple games really help. 

With you’re caster, you want to ask a few pretty basic questions to help get started along the way, looking for specific abilities that you’re going to start building around. 

  • MAT (to -hit) fixers (Carnage, Dark Guidance, Icy Grip, Crippling Grasp, Knockdown abiilties)
  • Armor Fixers (Curse of Shadows, Scything Touch, Parasite)
  • Speed enhancers (Dash, Overrun)
  • Armor Buffs (Death Ward, Hellwrought)
  • Defense Buffs (Grave Wind)
  • Delivery (Breath of Corruption, Occultation, Nightfall)
  • Terrain Mitigation (Ghost Walk, Veil of Mists

This gives you the start of what you want to look at in infantry and jack choices. You’ll want to enhance certain strenghts, cover other weaknesses, and make sure you don’t overlap abilities when possible. 

Agathia is a great caster to start with, especially because she comes in the battlebox. She has Ghost Walk, which mitigates terrain, an Armor buff in Hellwrought though its only a single model, strong Armor fixers with both Dark Shroud and Parasite. She also has a Nuke spell (Any spell thats primary purpose is damage) in Hellfire. You also want to take into account the feat of a caster, as these are often unique and you want to be able to capitalize on them. In this instance, we have Ghost Walk for models activating in, Stealth for models in, and a 3″ place for Jacks that end their activation in. 

Ghost walk likely means that you don’t want many models with pathfinder, as ghost walk ends up being a dead spell on her list at that point, but a single unit with pathfinder will likely be useful to reduce her spellcasting load if needed. 

Parasite and dark shroud built in means that anything can, with a little work, get +5 damage, which is a huge swing. Personally, +4 is where I have to start with a Cryx list for me to feel comfortable, and every time I don’t it feels very, very bad on the tabletop when I can’t crack an arm 18 model and just get rolled. 

Her feat is amazing, delivering her entire army to your opponents doorstep if your careful and calculated with her feat. (bottom of 1 or top of 2, almost every game.) This often means that you can take more fragile models because you can get away with exposing them slightly anyway. 

What she is lacking, though, is speed enhancers and hit fixers. This means that she is going to want to shy away from slower models and inaccurate models. Thankfully, with a number of Veteran Leaders and the preponderance of gang in the faction makes it so that you most lists have a way of providing a solid MAT 7, what I consider the base mat that you need to have without help from the ‘Caster. 

Looking at what the caster has, needs, and lacks, we can start making a list. 


The first place you often look to build is the battlegroup, but it can also be the last piece as well, when the caster calls for certain infantry and other models. Casters with debuffs are almost always going to want an arc node. Casters with Nukes are almost always going to want an arc node. Casters who’s primary purpose from turn to turn is to provide debuff and offensive spell support are going to want 2 or 3, depending on how long their games end up going and the list built. I almost always start with two and then adjust via experience. I lean towards the Deathripper, with the Nightwretch being a great stand in if I need to fill in a point or two in either the final list or the BG points. 

After arc nodes, you’re going to want to look at whether or not you’re going to need a bruiser jack, something like the Seether, Slayer or Deathjack. If your caster lacks a damage buff/arm fixer, then you’re going to really want to look strongly at being able to take and deliver some of the bigger, nastier jacks. We don’t have many, and they are pretty fragile, but you’re still going to want to consider them if you’ve got not other way to break down armor. 

Finally, you’re going to want to see if you can plug in some of the utility lights. If you’ve no real need to break armor, and no niche need for something else, Stalkers are the go to model at the time of writing. With a solid defense, Stealth, AD, Leap and extended control area they do the work all themselves. If the other lights suit your fancy, they can also be taken in a pinch, except for the helldiver, who does so little that he’s not worth it in any situation I’ve found. 

Once all of that is done, you can look at taking jacks that fit other needs in your casters arsenal, like shooting jacks, positioning jacks, or defensive jacks, with defensive often being the last jack considered. When you need one, though, you’ll often bend over backwards to get it in the list. 

Make sure not to overstrap your caster on focus, though. Casters often need to cast spells each turn, taking up more than half of their focus pool, and many jacks need 1 or more focus from the caster to finish what they start. Playing out in your head how much focus you might need on turns 2 and 3 for spells will often give you the leftover focus you can expect to be able to allocate to the jacks. It is often very little. 

Infantry and Solos

Following up on the earlier analysis of the caster, now is when you start grabbing the troops that make the most sense for your casters gameplan, but even here you have to worry about how you structure your list. If your caster can make armor trivial to remove, then you probably don’t have to worry about the power of your weapons, but if you’re caster can’t, you need to look at bringing models that can consistently break through ARM 18. Sometimes this is Bane Warriors, Mechanithralls, or Warjacks, but you have to be able to look at what proportion you have in your army. If under half your army struggles to crack armor with the casters help, you might need to rethink what you’re doing. 

there is a caveat, though. Sometimes you can simply go around a problem and attack it from the side or behind, and this applies with list building as well. If your goal is to kill the enemy caster with spells, then you can afford to take the fast, nimble and statistically weak models as long as you keep your eyes on the prize and don’t get too bogged down in them not being useful. 

The same thought process goes with all the considerations of the caster. Make sure your infantry and solos use the casters abilities to the best degree. Most hard hitting models will be innacurate: Take them with casters that boost accuracy. Most fast models are fragile, take them with casters that can protect them on the way in. Most accurate models are low P+S, take them with casters that can boost their damage.

Sometimes, the plan will be to overload a single stat and crush the enemy in that single manner. Deneghra 1 with Bane Warriors is an example of this. With her ability to drop -5 ARM on any single model in the opponents army, the Bane Warriors are going to make quick work of it with their additional +2 that they can apply. Applying that -4+ to a number of different models in the army, which is something she can do, means that the Bane Warriors are often able to scrap heavy models fairly easily, meaning that I need to commit less models to get the work done. Resource management, including your troopers, is a huge portion of the game. 

Lastly, a word on overlapping abilities. Many times there will be options that the caster seems to provide that their list also wants innately, and that is fine. Complimentary abilities are great and can often lead to a better form of synergy than was originally envisioned. Innately High MAT models are useful when combined with Defense reducing abilities because it removes much of the curve and changes the math. You might not need them all the time, but its worth considering if you think you need to hit that defense often. Satyxis Raiders are great at a Ganged MAT 8, needing 5’s to hit def 13, and 6’s to hit 14’s. With Deneghra 1, though, they still shine because MAT 10 needing 3’s and 4’s is exemplary. Overlapping abilities would be like playing the same Satyxis in a game where you’re primary attack used knockdown, because then it doesn’t matter if the MAT of the model is 1 or 1,000, it is going to hit. Watch out for these when building a list because they will often come across as complimentary when they are not. 

Solos and small units the final pieces of the puzzle, and getting them right is often the key to victory. Solos often shore up small holes in your lists and are used to buffer out larger problems. Don’t rely to heavily on them, though, as they can often end up dead during the game and you can almost always count on their contributions to stop. Warwitch sirens can help focus allocation, Tartarus helps Banes hit, Gerlak grants Berzerk to Bloodgorgers, and Darragh Wrathe can get a fair bit of speed to an undead army. Filling those last 10-15 points is often critical, so when it gets down to that point, take a look at the list and see what its lacking, and see if you can’t contribute with some form of solo. 


So, what do you think? Miss any critical portions? Anything you do differently when you build a list? 

Until next time, 

As always – if your looking for more, I’m on Twitter, Instagram, and facebook, though they all aren’t equally active. 
I make my lists at Conflictchamber.com