Friday, 4 August 2017

Anatomy of a Warmachine Player

Decided I wanted to put down in text some thoughts about the game I have had for a while, more to organise my own thoughts really but I think it could be a good exercise in learning more about ourselves as Warmachine players, and the things we can do to improve and move to the next level.

Warmachine players come in varying levels of skill and experience, from first game newbies to world championship winners. You see people right across the spectrum, from the new player who's just a natural to the long time player who just can't seem to "get it". In this post I am going to try and dissect the different 'levels' we move through as players and the characteristics required to be better.

The Ultimate Newbie

These players have never seen a Wargame before. Probably been introduced through seeing some models around a friends house, asking about the game and taking an interest in it. In Warmachine, I don't think we have many of these players, I have not met one person who's first game was Warmachine. Pretty much all of us graduated from the GW school of gaming before moving on to more complex and engaging games, like Warmachine & Hordes.

These players will struggle to understand the basic concepts at first, won't know how to build synergies and will often mis-allocate resources, such as using heavy guns to kill infantry. There is the very odd exception where a player will just take to the game like fish to water, however this is very rare for someone experiencing a wargame, particularly Warmachine, for the first time.

The Warmachine Newbie

Pretty self explanatory really, and is one step up from the Ultimate Newbie. A Warmachine Newbie will be experiencing Warmachine for the first time, but has some experience with other wargames. These players can come in many different skill levels, depending on their previous experience with wargames.

Warmachine as a game is a good leveller as the game is more complex than many other games on the market. However, a player coming over from Warhammer Fantasy Battles for example, who played the game at high level and perhaps did well at national level tournaments, will have a much better grasp of the basics of the game. They will understand how to build synergies and have an idea of maximising utility of resources, but they will likely miss the deeper complexities of the game at first.

Mr(Mrs) Average

This spot here is probably where most Warmachine players find themselves, they have graduated beyond battle box games and smaller point games and will be a regular gamer at the club or local store. They may even attend the odd local steamroller or 2 and will generally pick up an average or slightly below average result. These players have a good grasp of the fundamentals of Warmachine and have some level of mastery over their own casters or factions synergies.

However, these players will likely lack the deeper knowledge of other factions to truly compete, they may even struggle to stray too far from the 2 or 3 casters they feel comfortable with. Because of this, they will probably not brave an attendance at national events, not regularly at least and will probably never win a local event.

The Good Player

The next step up is the 'good player'. This player has plenty of experience with the game and probably knows their own faction inside and out. Will have a few casters that they really excel at playing and will frequently attend, and possibly win local Steamroller events. These players will also be regulars at National level events, although will rarely win or even 'do well' in some cases.

A good player will also have a decent basic knowledge of the other factions in the game, they will know the highlights to look out for such as problem casters and common plays but will likely get caught out by more complex synergies that they have either not seen before or didn't fully understand.

This level of player is usually where we start to see carefully constructed list pairs, built to be complementary to each other, sometimes as simple as an ARM cracking list and and anti-gun line list. What will sometimes let them down is knowing the right match ups to drop each list in the pair into, which stems from a lack of deeper knowledge of the other factions in the game.

Nationals contender

These players are the ones that go into larger national events expecting to either win, or come very close. These players are also the ones in which the other 'lesser' players will recognise the names of and hope to avoid to stand a chance of doing well.

Above what a 'good player' brings to the table, a nationals contender will have a much better understanding of every faction in the game and at least a basic idea of how every caster wants to win the game. This comes from a vast amount of practise through regular gaming at a high level and gives them a significant advantage in the list selection phase of a game.

List building will consist of very complimentary lists each with a specific advantage into particular match ups or factions.

Nationals winner

Taking the next step from contender to regular national event winner takes the knowledge of each faction in the game further to the point of having a deep understanding of the meta. Being able to understand and predict what the players from each faction are likely to bring to an event gives a huge advantage when building their own list pairs.

Using this knowledge in conjunction with the ability to predict each match up as it unfolds on the table is what pushes the players skill level to the point of being able to regularly win large national events. These players will often know the exact win condition for any caster in any given match up and will know how to play to counter that win condition.

List building from players at this level is often very reactionary, but in a good way. Players will know exactly what to expect as the 'bogeymen' and ensure they are packing sufficient counters to those problems.

The Trail Blazer

In my opinion, these players are the pinnacle of the game. Above and beyond a national event winner, these are the gamers that create the lists that become 'net lists', they create the lists that become the bogeyman and before people develop a counter they have already moved to the counter to that counter.

A very deep understanding of the game as a whole, know every faction inside out and will know exactly how every caster plays every scenario in every match up. This takes years of very frequent gaming at a high level.

A player who is a trail blazer will not only be able to predict the meta, they will also be able to predict the counters that people will bring for that meta and adjust their own counters accordingly. These are players that will often build lists proactively to create problems no one is planning for and thus start the new meta > new counter cycle all over again.

These are my thoughts anyway, you probably have a differing opinion so let me know if I've missed anything. Hopefully it gives you some insight to the sort of skills required to play at a high level. The thing is, I am not a gamer at the highest level so there are probably plenty of deeper nuances that I am missing, because I am not at that level yet.

Obviously this is written from a competitive play mindset and some will read this and have no interest at all.

Let me know your thoughts on this.

Until next time, thanks for reading!

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Another step on the Dark journey

This will be kind of a 'Part 2' to my previous post about the new Cryx theme, Dark Host. In the previous post we talked about the generic benefits of the theme and what makes it 'good' in the current meta. Obviously, we never addressed the weaknesses of the theme, something that I will tie into this post here as we are going to discuss the casters that you will likely see, and probably want to bring when running a Dark Host list.

So for posterity, lets remind ourselves of the pro's of Dark Host;


Hard Hitting - Dark Host hits innately hard. Bringing weapons masters and Dark Shroud, the list shouldn't be reliant on armour debuffs to get work done. This means we are not tied in to bringing a Parasite caster.

Ghostly - Pretty much the whole list runs Ghostly or Incorporeal. Terrain and free strikes are no issue for Dark Host, this also means we are not tied into bringing a caster with access to Ghost Walk.

Resilient - Between Knights in Wall of Steel or Riders all buffed by the Wraith Engine, the list can be difficult to shift with standard infantry clearing options, forcing opponents to use overkill weapons against our infantry. Cryx doesn't have much in the way of ARM buffs, but with Dark Host, they are not required.

So by looking at what Dark Host brings as standard, we have identified a few things that don't necessarily need to be covered by your caster choice. That is not to say that a caster with Parasite, say Lich2 for example, is bad in Dark Host. It is just that there isn't as much of a pressing need for an ARM debuff as if you were running Satyxis Raiders for example.

What does need to be covered then? Let's take a look.


Speed - Banes are slow, with the exception of Riders. SPD 5 infantry will always struggle to get where they need to. Dark Host does have the free clouds and Prowl to help Banes get where they need to without too much damage on the way in, but with lacklustre threat ranges it becomes easy for your opponent to play around.

Delivery - Ties in to the previous point really, slow, single wound infantry are difficult to get work from. Dark Host and Banes in general do have built in tech to mitigate this issue but Speed and Delivery are certainly areas the list could do with help from the caster.

Linear - Not always a bad thing but having a list built in a very linear fashion makes you easy to play against. Playing with Banes generally goes turn 1 run, turn 2 run, turn 3 charge. You then either get enough bodies there and win or you've taken too many casualties on the way in and lose the grind. Any caster that can add to the trickery of the list, that can open up non linear plays and angles will certainly find a home in Dark Host.

Hitting - Hitting hard is not a problem for Banes, hitting their target in the first place might be though. BLT helps by bringing Veteran Leader, but he can't be everywhere. MAT fixing is a solution that is very welcome to a Dark Host list, whether you can increase MAT, reduce DEF or add extra dice to hit, Banes love it all.

We can see from the above that we are building up a bit of a picture for what the ideal caster should look like to get the most out of a Dark Host list.

Let's take a look at some options then and assess how each one fits.


Skarre has emerged as a good fit for Dark Host, and it is not surprising really as she kind of slots into the 'turd polisher' category of casters. She has the ability to MAT fix banes through the spell Dark Guidance and certainly cranks hitting power and delivery through her feat. Now, hitting hard is not a priority problem to solve for Dark Host, however, being able to make effective POW18 Weapon Masters is no joke whatsoever.

My issue with Skarre is that she does nothing in terms of threat extension and doubles down on the linear nature of the list, run, run, charge. Skarre has proven to be an excellent choice, but I think she needs a more tailored Dark Host to be built around her. I'd expect a Skarre1 list to lean more towards doubling down on Bane Riders or Wraith Engines as they have the higher natural threat ranges over the Bane infantry options and they also bring multiple attacks to get more benefit out of her feat.


The Witch Coven are our premier caster choice these days, outside of Denny1 running Ghost Fleet they are probably the best caster we have. But how do they fit in Dark Host? Well they certainly bring a bag of tricks with them, between Curse of Shadows and Veil of Mists they can certainly get Banes into places you opponent definitely doesn't want Banes to be. CoS aso doubles as an ARM debuff which is never not good to have. Infernal Machine is also great for letting 'Jacks push deeper into enemy lines or have Stalkers get to awkward places. They also hugely help with delivery, they bring Occultation to the party as well as an impressive feat which shuts down shooting and long range charges. Coven do have a MAT fixing option in Stygian Abyss but fishing for crit Blind isn't a plan I'd be happy resting the game on.

The problem with Coven, and it's a small one because they are amazing in general, is that they don't offer any threat extension for the Banes themselves. However, with great delivery tools it can let Banes play a lot more aggressively. One other problem I find with Coven is that they are so good, I am reluctant to put them with, in my opinion, the best theme Cryx has. I think that cripples your other list too much if you haven't, or don't want to buy into Ghost Fleet. First world problems and all that. Coven fit almost perfectly for Dark Host, but personally I'd save Coven to run my other non-Dark Host list.


This is my money man at the moment. Looking at his cards, he solves every issue the Bane theme has to one extent or another, Delivery, Linear, Speed and Hitting, Goreshade can do it all, in theory. He spell list is phenomenal, and as I have said before in my review of him on this blog here, I think his spell list is probably best in faction. Abyssal Gate fixes 3 problems in one, extends threat on Banes so helps with delivery, let's you turn models around so fixes MAT and adds a bit of trickery and control to an other wise linear list. 3 issues with 1 spell, looking good so far. he also has Curse of Shadows for more trickery and Mirage to further increase threat range and delivery options. Occultation helps with delivery and Hex Blast is another layer of damage or to hit buffing. All in all, his spell list is a symphony of awesomeness. In theory he should make Dark Host sing, and I didn't even mention his feat to bring back moar Banez.

It is not all sweetness and roses though, Shades main problem is being Focus starved, he is FOC7 but his main spells are Cost 3 and will likely have at least 2 upkeeps out all game. He can't pick up souls and can't have Withershadow Combine in theme so he finds himself with an incredible repertoire of options but not enough resource to do them all, you will end up choosing between Abyssal Gate/Hex Blast/Curse of Shadows. He is basically never going to have any camp so he dies if your opponent gets to him, Dark Host clouds help here but can't always be relied on.


Scavvy has some cool tricks, he can help with delivery through Death Ward and can certainly help with threat extension, MAT fixing and trickery with the infamous Telekinesis spell. He does have an expensive ARM debuff but he does struggle to really support Banes as well as you might want. Scaverous can open up a game and can really enable assassination plays though so he is worth considering.

You would probably look to take Bane Riders and a Wraith Engine with Scavvy, they make more worthwhile TK targets than a Warrior or Knight and Death Ward on Riders with the Wraith Engine is just funny. With Scaverous you are probably going to be building a more control variant of the Dark Host list which could work well, but probably needs a more specialist build.


Lich2 is an interesting one, he doesn't do an awful lot for Banes when you think about it, but he does have some tricks to help Dark Host tick over. He brings Parasite, so packing a punch is absolutely not a problem for this list, casual -5 to ARM when you need it is just money. The real 1-2 punch, in my opinion comes from Caustic Mist, Excarnate and his feat. I guess that's actually a 1-2-3 punch. Caustic Mist lets you extend the fee cloud wall to have almost complete coverage of your wall of Banes and Excarnate let's you keep adding Banes back to the ranks. A neat trick with Caustic Mist is placing the clouds on top of a Bane unit after it has activated to trigger stealth on them through Prowl, do it right and you can punish anyone that enters the cloud with Corrosion. Lich2's feat is usually held back as a fear factor rather than being actively pursued to win the game, it does however, let your Banes have a final hurrah after absorbing the first wave.

What Lich2 doesn't do is speed up Banes at all, he help protect them with extra clouds but keeps them stuck at SPD 5. The trick will be getting those clouds in a position to let you be more aggressive. Darragh Wrathe is a must with him, as with all the casters without a threat extender. He also doesn't do much to make the list non-linear but his increased personal threat and impact on the game can add another dynamic to consider.

I will call it there, I could go through every single caster we have but these are the main ones I am looking at right now. I am sure you can take the principles discussed and keep them in mind when looking at other Cryxian casters.

Just remember the weaknesses of Banes and unless you are just playing a casual game with whatever you think is cool, try to thing about how your caster supports the Banes in your list. Of course, the specific needs of the list will change as the flavour of Banes gets tweaked.

What casters have you been running in Dark Host?

Until next time.

Friday, 28 July 2017

Back to the Dragonfather...Banes are good again?

Wow, didn't realise it had been so long since I last posted...

I have taken a short hiatus from playing Cryx to pick up Cygnar which I played at the ETC recently. I have thoroughly rinsed the swan filth off me in the acid baths and ready to get back to Cryx'ing.

It just so happens that my recursion to Cryx coincides with the official release of the new shiny(?) Dark Host theme. Boy oh boy, this could be a game changer. I have played a few games with Dark Host now, each and every game has resulted in a 5-0 scenario win for the #BaneTrain. It has some serious power, something I will attempt to assess in this post.

First up, lets take a look at the theme itself;

Dark Host

Permitted models
-Cryx Warcasters
-non-character warjacks
-Bane models/units
-Darragh Wrathe
-Machine Wraith solos
-Necrotech solos
-Scrap Thrall solos
-Skarlock Thrall solos
-Soul Trapper solos
-Wraith Engine battle engines

-Every 20 points of units and battle engines you can add one command attachment or medium or smaller based solo to the army for free
-Banes gain Prowl
-Place 2 4" AOE dense fog terrain features before deployment within 20" of your own table edge

Now, if you had given me this theme at the start of Mk3, I would have been very disappointed, and i think most Cryx players would have been too. Banes were bad. They were the ultimate bogeyman of Mk2 but became more like court jesters in Mk3. To properly assess why Dark Host has the Cryx juices flowing again we also need to look at the recent changes to Banes as a result of their CID cycle.


Bane Knights dropped by a couple of points and gained Set Defence and Wall of Steel, 2 very strong abilities to solidify their position as the anvil to the Bane Warrior anvil. However, Cryx players are still looking at Knights as the worst of the 3 flavours. After running 20 Knights in 3 games under 3 different casters (including Sturgis2!) I have to say they may well be the true dark horse of Dark Host. Ha.

Bane Warriors saw an effective 2 point decrease as the UA lost a point as well and the max unit. They also tweaked the UA to make it not suck massive balls so the unit is now how it should of been from day 1. Moving Tough to the standard was a common sense move and making the mini feat not tied to forcing them to kill infantry (which is totally opposed to their battlefield role) was a welcome change.

Bane Riders saw a real shift upwards in terms of power level. A contender for worst cav unit in the game when they had a puny threat of 11" with low damage output, relatively speaking. They were put back to 2" melee range, something they should never have lost in the first place, and also gained Vengeance. Given that I believe the rules for Vengeance changed from boxed to damaged (so even if they don't die they get a Vengeance move) lets Bane Riders get some serious threat ranges and their high natural ARM keep them 'alive' longer than they should.

Tartarus was a mess at 8pts, losing curse is disappointing but picking up Veteran Leader [Banes] and gaining +1 MAT is a nice compromise. He is actually worth his new price tag of 6pts but being free in theme is just gravy.

Wraith Engine. Whilst not a Bane model, the Wraith Engine is a key component to Dark Host and also recently underwent a pretty big change in the Battle Engine CID cycle. Also receiving a reduction in points as well as some rules tweaks to buff it's support presence make it a very strong piece in the Cryx arsenal. Increasing ARM of all undead models rather than just Incorporeal models was a HUGE change for the faction and really helps the Banes ability to play into ranged lists and make it across the table with sufficient numbers.

So, the new theme is also propped up by a buff to all of the core units and solos of the theme. All good news for Cryx players. But why has Dark Host taken everybody by surprise so quickly? After all it won the Lock & Load Masters and was on the final table of the Iron Gauntlet. Everyone I have spoken to that has played the new theme is reporting back nothing but extreme success with it. Surely Banes weren't buffed that much? Let's take a look.

The Meta

The meta at big events has been pretty rigid as of late. Factions that can bring decent heavy spam are bringing it and the factions that can't are bringing their best answers for it. This ended up with a huge hole in the meta for infantry to slide right into. Ghost Fleet was probably the first real highlight of this but Strakhov2 with mass Pikemen and Thexus + Drudges were 2 other examples of successful lists (amongst a few others) that focused on an infantry swarm. The meta being focused on dealing with jacks struggled to deal with the numbers. Then came Ghost Fleet and players had to adjust. Ghost Feet hit the meta like a sucker punch from Mike Tyson, solutions have since been developed but it just rolled people at first play when they didn't understand it.

Lists then changed to deal with the new bogeyman of Ghost Fleet, magic weapons proliferated and ranged RFP became the currency of the land. What this meant was an influx of multi attack models/units that sacrificed POW for an increase to RoF. Enter Dark Host. Dark Host falls into the space in between. Anti-heavy tech is massively overkill against Banes but the standard infantry clearing methods of massed POW 10s or 12s even just doesn't cut it when there is a wall of ARM 20 coming at you.


The above point leads me into what I see as the main strength of the Dark Host theme, given the state of the meta as it stands. It attritions frighteningly well. A heavy may come in and kill somewhere between 3-6 Banes from a max unit. The rest of the unit then eats the heavy and mini feats to replenish most, if not all the casualties taken from the heavy. A net trade of a few Banes for a heavy, numbers a Cryx player will take all day. With the right caster, you can rinse and repeat this to remove heavy after heavy whilst barely taking any casualties.

The list has the benefit, if built as such as to have no real 'targets'. The list I am running pretty much has only the Wraith Engine and my caster as worthwhile targets. One is easy enough to protect and the other is immune to most of the weapons brought against it. This makes it tough for the opponent to make reasonable trades with the army.

The changes to Wraith Engine and Bane Knights also mean that you can all but immune to the increase in low POW shooting we saw trickle into the meta to combat an increase in warrior models (due to increase further with SR17 upon us). ARM 20 against ranged and magic attacks is certainly no joke.


Previously, delivering Banes was a problem. They were expensive, fragile and as a faction Cryx had very few forms of effective delivery for them. Dark Host, in combination with the changes to Banes in general, certainly helped to combat this issue. First off, you get free clouds which can deploy far enough up the board that you can usually tag them onto a terrain piece for a huge line of LoS blocking terrain. Perfect for defending the approach and protecting your caster mid-late game. Banes also gain Prowl, which in combination with the above mentioned clouds is pretty much perma-Stealth and with Ghostly letting you laugh at forests it can be frustratingly hard for opponents to get work done at range. This plays into the Cryx players hands as it forces the lines to engage, and what do Banes love most? Getting stuck into juicy targets in melee.


From the games I have played Dark Host pressures scenario really well, which is usually a byproduct of strong attrition armies anyway. Dark Host usually boasts a few throw away solos to score flags and with the other changes to scoring in SR17, infantry with staying power play a big part in scoring and contesting zones.

I have have also found that Dark Host can pressure scenario pieces very well with a very small part of the army, linking us back to its strength in Attrition. A couple of ARM 20 Bane Knights are not trivial to remove when ran to obnoxious places and in return opponents have to feed heavies to the Banes to contest.


Dark is exactly what Cryx needed to get some of our staple units back on the table. It was boring to see every pairing be Coven + Denny with Satyxis Raiders and then Ghost Fleet in every single list pairing. Most of us played Cryx because Banes were cool as fuck and couldn't play them even remotely competitively. Not only that I also think it is what the Meta needed to shake the dominance of heavy spam.

It has often been said there is a triangle of power in Warmachine. ARM > Guns > Infantry > ARM was the cycle that keeps the meta in check. Guns shred infantry, ARM nullifies guns and Infantry swarms ARM. For most of Mk3 there was almost no worthwhile infantry options, and the ones that crept through still got ravaged by guns. This let ARM and Box spam reign of the meta and their counters closely followed. With a serious WM Infantry theme back in play (also Exexplar theme could be as popular) it should force a rethink of how people approach the meta and build their pairs. Hopefully this will signal a move towards a more balanced and fluid meta where more options from all factions are viable.

I am loving playing Dark Host as it feels Cryxian, it's so good to have Banes back on the table. I think next time out I will look at some of the main casters to run with Dark Host and start looking at some of the ways other factions can counter it.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Cryx Warcaster Review: Deneghra, The Soul Weaver (Denny3)

Not posted for a while, been really busy with work and a new baby arriving in the family so time has been pretty short. Managed to find some time so thought I would come back with another Cryx Warcaster Review.

I am beginning my planning phase for SmogCon which is going ahead in February 2017, part of which is deciding on a pairing for the Steamroller events. The Witch Coven are pretty much nailed on at this point as they play the meta so well and i wanted something 'different' to go with them. Without delving too much into a post about SmogCon (I will do this at a later date), I think I am going to take Denny3 so let's take a more in depth look at her and what she can do.

Denny3 is pretty much the most Assassination focused caster that Cryx has. She can play a decent scenario game given that she can't be KD or pushed out of zones or off flags, but her primary win condition will be irking out that 14" run to the enemy caster to chop their head off.

Her card then

Denny3 is a little bit weird to be honest, she is a caster that likes to get stuck in but doesn't have the stats to support that game plan. Like most Cryx casters she has 7 focus, so enough to get done what she needs to get done. She is only MAT6 (but perfect spell to improve this) so she does need help here. Her dragon does have a SP8 POW 10 which is really useful but at only RAT4 it's nothing to get excited about, however coupled with her incredible SPD of 9 with Reposition 5" it can do some work. Denny's melee weapon, Malefactor, is her main go to with RNG 2 and POW 13 it should usually be enough to get the job done when coupled with her spells.

What truly defines Denny3 is the way she interacts with souls, she has 3 rules which use enemy souls, Soul Mastery, Soul Taker: Cull Soul and Soul Weaver.

Soul Taker is the Cryx standard of models destroyed within 2" of Denny, she gets their soul. Soul Mastery is fantastic, what this lets her do is for the cost of 1 soul token Denny can either cast 1 spell from her card with a COST of 3 or less or let a jack within her CMD range gain up to 3 Focus points. Soul Weaver is a great ability that lets her remove soul tokens from any friendly model within her CMD range and place them on her self, once per activation.

These rules in combination is where Denny3 really shines and gets work done. She only needs a soul or 2 per turn to really up her output with a couple of free spells or being able to fill up a jack after the allocation phase is a very flexible tool to have.


Ghost Walk - A bit of a Cryx staple, simple but oh so very effective. Ghost Walk gives a friendly faction model/unit Ghostly, which lets them ignore penalties from moving through terrain and makes them immune to free strikes. Ideal to throw this on Denny when going for her assassination run, or any other combat unit really. fantastic synergy with the new changes to how melee ranges work, letting you charge into back arcs without taking free strikes is top draw stuff.

Grave Wind - Another decent spell (I just wish it could affect whole units), gives target model +2 DEF and Poltergeist. When a model misses an attack against a model with Poltergeist it can be pushed d3" directly away from the model with Poltergeist. Usually find this cast on Denny herself to get up to DEF 17 which helps her inability to benefit from cover or concealment etc. Poltergeist is a cute addition, can be very useful in certain niche situations but normally it won't have much of an impact, other than to make things further away from you on your turn. Could be useful if it pushed models out of zones or out of range of a second shot for example, but it won't come up that often.

Mortality - Oh ho ho, this is the money spell. Target model/unit suffers -2 DEF and ARM, loses Tough and cannot have damage removed from it for 1 round. Boom. Fixes basically everything Denny and Cryx in general need fixing (well maybe not ARM, we are pretty good at that already). -2 DEF and ARM helps Denny's army hit harder, and removing Tough and transfers are perfect for when Denny goes on her assassination run.

Scourge - Another spell which will normal only be used on Denny's assassination run, normally it will go; Charge, cast Scourge (auto hit's because of deviation rules, Denny is immune), use soul to cast Mortality, kill caster. Handy spell to have and gets much more use out of it than previous incarnations of Denny would.


Denny's feat is very simple. She gives herself 7 soul tokens. For any other caster this would be an awful feat but because of the way Denny interacts and can use souls, it is actually pretty damn good. It is multi-functional, she can either use the feat to spam spells, 7 free copies of Mortality or Ghost Walk on top of what she can already cast is a tasty thought, or she can sit on them prior to assassination run turn to become focus for extra attacks. Not setting the world alight but a very flavoursome feat that supports her game plan well.

Suggested Units

A list that contains Denny3 needs to be almost exclusively built to deliver her to the enemy caster. She can take most units and support them through Mortality and Ghost Walk, so you can pretty much build her to your own flavour, just keep in mind the first point, everything needs to have a part to play in delivering Denny. Given that she is a huge base and not exactly invulnerable, she will want a Shield Guard, so bring and Inflictor - or a Bokur if you are feeling brave. I like her with Nyss Hunters for their ability to clear models at range which can be crucial for finding Denny a landing spot when she goes in. From here, almost anything works, I like to pack a Pistol Wraith for his ability to pick up a soul or 2 at range which Denny can then pinch for her own use and The Withershadow Combine is great here for casting Ghost Walk and Mortality as well as their free upkeep ability and ranged soul collection in a pinch. Soul Trappers never go a miss either to keep her 'Soul Network' flowing. With Denny, most games will be won by assassinating the enemy caster, so always build her army with that goal in mind.


I love Denny3, her model is frankly amazing and she offers a very aggressive play style which I like. in Mk2 she was almost God tier towards the end and in Mk3 she has been brought down a fair few pegs. Her weakness is her vulnerability to ranged attacks, even at DEF 17 she is at risk as boosting is a thing. The odd attack she can weather but a serious attempt on her life(?) will put her down pretty easily, she is the ultimate glass cannon. That said, almost no one takes her anymore so she could slip into that sweet spot of being underestimated and under prepared for giving her a slight edge. Time will tell. Either way, she is a lot of fun and I can't wait to get her on the table.

For a score out of 10? she probably only gets 5 or 6, perhaps lower into ranged armies but for fun factor she is well up there with the best.

Thanks for reading and be sure to let me know what you think.


Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Cryx Warcaster Review: Goreshade the Cursed (Shade2)

Hello all, I am back again with another Cryx Warcaster review.

As mentioned in the previous one, there isn't going to be any order to these, I am just going to do them as get the motivation to do them, usually triggered by a fleeting appreciation of whichever caster tickles my fancy.

This time around it was Mr Banes himself, Goreshade the Cursed. The more and more I read his cards, the more and more I appreciate what he can bring to the party. Never going to dazzle at the top of the pile or rule the tournament scene like some Cryx casters before him, but he does offer some fantastic control and attrition play that we can certainly build around to exploit.

Lets take a look at his card

Shade2 has a decent focus stat of 7, decent enough melee stats with a very good melee weapon should he need it in a pinch (more on that later), a pretty handy immunity to cold and sports DEF and ARM of 15 and 16 respectively - decent enough but never going to stave off any serious assassination attempts.

Goreshade packs a fantastic melee weapon, Voass. It is a RNG 2, Pow 15 sword that inflicts Stationary on a hit so long as the target is not immune to cold. If he needs to, Shade can certainly get stuck in to finish things off himself. Though, if you plough him into the fold, you better make sure it is to finish things off as he wont survive much of a retaliation.

Arcane Consumption is a cute ability more than anything due to his fairly short CMD range, what it does is inflict d3 damage points to a spellcaster casting a spell within his CMD, and then Shade gets to heal d3 damage points. Never going to change a game but can potentially catch out 1 box spell slingers that stray too close. Goreshade also has Tactician [Bane], another fairly decent ability, great for its synergy with Bane Riders as you can hang them back and then charge straight through a front line screen of Warriors or Knights. Again, cute more than game changing.


This is where, in my opinion, Goreshade the Cursed really shines, he has a fantastic list of spells and could be a contender for best in faction. They all synergise well with his overall game plan and offer a good balance of Damage, Debuff and Support.

Abyssal Gate - At first glace it is a fairly uninspiring damage spell, short range and POW 12 isn't much to get excited about. However, when a model is damaged by this spell you can place it completely within 3" of its current location. Fantastic tool for kicking tough to kill models out of a zone or to run an Arc Node up, hit a target and pull them in. Great utility spell that offers control and threat extension.

Curse of Shadows - Another great utility spell. It inflicts a -2 ARM penalty to the target and prevents them from making free strikes. It also allows friendly models to pass through enemy models so long as they can completely clear their base. Multi use spell, lets you debuff ARM on a key target as well as let you completely ignore any jams that could cause potential headaches.

Hex Blast - Doesn't need much of an explanation, good damage spells that immediately strips any active Upkeeps or Animi on the target.

Mirage - I like this spell. Gives the target Apparition which lets you place the target model/unit completely within 2" during your control phase. Stick this on a unit like Bane Knights and assuming Vengeance has been triggered they know threat 13". Tie this in with the movement from Abyssal Gate and Goreshade has some real ability to extend threat ranges, something the soft Cryx units are desperate for.

Occultation - Best spell Cryx has, even in a world where Stealth ignoring abilities are ever increasing. Any unit in faction loves them a bit of Stealth. Great spell.


On a first look, Goreshade the Cursed's feat isn't very good at all. But when you start thinking about ways to apply it, you can really generate a fantastic attrition scenario. Shade's feat lets you remove from play any number of friendly faction trooper models and replace them with the same number of destroyed friendly faction trooper models. There is no restrictions on what you bring back, so you can sac McThralls for example and bring back Bane Riders or RFP some Scrap Thralls to replenish your Bane units. Great mid game feat for when the lines have met to bring back all the models that have been killed by shooting. Bare in mind though, they have to sacrifice their Combat Action on the turn they come back. My personal recommendation is to max out the allowance of Scrap Thralls as they are the cheapest unit he can sac, 6pts of Scrap Thralls that can become 9 models worth of anything else, thats a full Bane unit nearly, or 2 max units of Bane 6pts of models for 40pts of models is a decent feat indeed.

Suggested Units

As we can see, Goreshade can dip his toe into many different roles and push different win conditions. He supports an attrition game with his feat and his spell list is great for a control or scenario game. Taking models and units to emphasise this is a good way to. Think models like Malice and the Machine Wraiths for their ability to move models, a great trick is drag a heavy with Malice, then posses it with a Machine Wraith to move it potentially over 20" from where it started your turn, to be subsequently eaten by Banes. Speaking of Banes, he is about the only Cryx caster than can actively support Banes and actually wants to take them in multiples. Warriors, Riders or Knights, it doesn't matter, a couple of units fit like a glove for Shade2. To prop up the feat, as mentioned before, max out on Scrap Thralls, cheapest unit we have and can become whatever flavour of Banes you have brought that have been killed. After these key ingredients, fill to taste. I like Raiders for their Speed and self buffing through Gang. The only thing you will want to avoid is a big battlegroup, Shade doesn't really do anything to support 'Jacks and his spell list makes him pretty focus hungry. Speaking of, take the Withershadow Combine, not a great deal of spells they can cast from Shade, but the free upkeep can be a godsend and someone like Malice will always appreciate the Puppet Master reroll.


I like Goreshade, he offers a fairly unique style of play for Cryx in that he actively supports our main poster unit, the Banes. He is also very flexible and should have game into most lists but probably plays a little better in Warmachine factions. This is probably down to the fact that he handles armour fairly easily, between supporting Banes and having an ARM debuff in his arsenal and being able to trivially manipulate the positioning and movements of enemy heavies playing against an ARM skew shouldn't really be that much of a problem. Given that he is very flexible, it can be a blessing and a curse. You will rarely start a turn with nothing to do or no way to better your position but because he 'can' do so many things, it can be easy to lose sight of the overall win condition. Just something to bare in mind, have an overall plan and stick to it. In a Staemroller environment, you will need to pair him with a list that handles gunlines and plays well into Hordes, someone like Venethrax for a specialist or pDenny for that allcomers 'game into anything' list.

My score overall? I'd say 7/10 which could go higher depending on the match up.

Thanks for reading and I'll catch you on the next one.


Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Cryx Warcaster Review: Captain Aiakos

Hello everyone,

One of the things I want to cover on this blog are my thoughts and analysis on all of the Cryxian warcasters. I was going to go through them in the order they are in War Room, but seeing as we have confirmation of the Journeyman promotion for Aiakos to full blown Warcaster, it seems fitting to start with him.

Captain Jack Sparrow Aiakos

Overall, I love our new captain. He is one of the first casters I have looked at for Cryx and instantly thought 'wow'. Let's be clear though, he is by no means a powerhouse caster, that is not why I like him. I look at his rules, abilities and spells which for me seem like a whole load of fun, and furthermore they seem to embody the 'feel' of Cryx really well. Aiakos is quick, tricky and can hit with a hard alpha given the right tools. He isn't the best caster we have but he certainly has enough about him to cause some major problems for the opponent.


He is only FOC 6 which is an issue and no way to gather souls to increase though so resources are going to be at a premium with him. He does have good SPD though and a decent enough MAT of 7. His RAT 5 is a little low considering one of his main gimmicks is using his Harpoon to reel the catch in. He has the same DEF and ARM as Aggy which buts him in the 'distinctly average' section of things. CMD is 9 which is fine and he also has Tough which is interesting, but also a very poor trade considering he lost Stealth from his Journeyman incarnation. Overall he is a very average caster in terms of stats, his main strength is SPD which we will get on to in the next section.


Jump - after he has done his normal movement but before his combat action it lets him be placed completely within 5", this is great to extend his melee threat to 12" or 15" on feat turn (17" & 20" if you count the Harpoon drag). The best thing about this is that it is non linear threat, so he can move up his 6", jump 5", Harpoon 5" all in different directions, this gives him some janky threat angles.


His spell list is both very good and full of traps, lets look at them in a bit more detail:

Assail - Target friendly faction warjack and give them +2" to charge and Slam distance, when you consider that the alpha is so important to Cryx given how fragile they are, an extra 2" can make all the difference - or so I'm told. Good spell, great on feat turn.

Carnage - The old Gaspy3 spell back from the grave, except on a much more fragile model with a smaller CTRL range. Carnage is a great spell that adds +2 to melee attack rolls against enemy models in Aiakos' CTRL area. The trap in this spell is having to move Aiakos up to within 12" of the fight, given how far he threats, you never need to do this. Can be great in a bind to clear a zone or certainly worthwhile if facing down a high DEF Starcrossed brick, as seems fairly norm these days. Okay spell but only cast it if you can get very high reward for doing so.

Scything touch - A Cryx staple, helps with his ARM cracking game and can upkeep it on himself to do some real damage with his absurd personal threat range. Solid 7/10 all the time.

Stranglehold - The Wurmwood classic. This is a great spell and really adds to the alpha threat Aiakos can offer, hit the frontlines then Arc Strangleholds onto the retaliatory pieces and you start getting very favourable piece trades. Only downside is POW 11 and it needs to damage the models to take effect so tougher targets will require a boost and even then it might fail. You could end up sinking a lot of focus into a plan that fails. Fantastic potential but choose targets carefully.

White Squall - Aiakos' unique spell, you basically hit the target and throw them d6" - what a fucking brilliant spell. So many options, from throwing tough models out of zones, to throwing jack screens over their caster to knock them down to throwing Scrap Thralls at the enemy to make them blow up. A very versatile spell which always needs to be planned for. Watch out for the casters that like to hide directly behind a jack or beast that isn't immune to throws. You can throw the larger base over the smaller base and knock them down leaving them very. very vulnerable to assassination with the crazy threat ranges Aiakos can hand out on feat turn. The Kraken for example melee threats 17" and can drop an assault shot from 29" away. Boosted POW 14 (minimum) is enough to seriously threaten soft casters that find themselves without a camp.


Aiakos has a bit of a wonky feat. but it is good. His battlegroup (himself included) get +3SPD and Assault. The +3SPD bit is superb and really lets us threaten a huge alpha with our already quick jacks and really supplements one of the main issues with have with the character jacks, delivery. The Assault bit, isn't so great. We don't really have any stand out shooty jacks and the jacks that would really benefit, Reaper and Malice, don't really get full benefit as you can't Drag then buy more attacks if you didn't end your move already in melee (before you drag). The main use for the feat is cranking up the SPD of his jacks and being able to slingshot a crazy Assault shot from the Kraken. Overall it is pretty good but not great, 5 or 6/10.


When you breakdown what we have seen, it is clear that Aiakos has a little bit of everything to his game, he can play a control/scenario game quite well between Stranglehold and White Squall and he can facilitate a quite ridiculous assassination game. The trouble is, he is a little bit of a jack of all trades, master of none. He isn't going to punch through a tough caster on full camp and he isn't going to match the control play of a Krueger or Haley.

Overall, he looks like a heap of fun and I am really looking forward to getting him on the table. He will work really well with a Kraken as the threat range he gives it is pretty insane, he also wants infantry that can operate well without support like the Satyxis variants as other than Carnage, (which we discussed earlier as being a bit of a trap spell) he doesn't support infantry at all really. War Witch Sirens and the Withershadow Combine are almost auto includes with him as he is very focus hungry, the latter also offer another cast of Stranglehold (at an increased Magic Ability level) and a Puppet Master reroll for his Harpoon on any given assassination run. Deathjack can also work well, he will always appreciate the extra 5" of threat Aiakos can give him and can also offer another Stranglehold which really ups the control game when taken with the Withershadow Combine.

His main game is to play an 'aggressive control' game, playing fairly forward and using his throw spell and Stranglehold to put the brakes on key pieces, whilst simultaneously threatening with his 20" assassination threat. This is key to his success really, the psychological impact of knowing that Aiakos can get you from 20" will really cause issues for opponents and might force them into a much more defensive strategy, the trick is going to be to master the fine line between pushing hard enough to make it a problem for the opponent and not over extending to expose Aiakos too soon.

I am really looking forward to solving this little puzzle.

If you get him on the table, let me know how it goes.

As always, thanks for reading and I'll catch you on the next one.


Thursday, 4 August 2016

Cryx in Mk3

Oh how the mighty have fallen...

Cryx were undoubtedly the bogeyman of the Mk2 meta, so much so that pretty much every steamroller pairing at the time had a dedicated 'Cryx drop'. And even then, Cryx still managed to place very, very respectfully at large events.

A large part of this was down to this man...

That's right, our man Gaspy in his epic incarnation was the grand daddy of them all. Clouds, bile bombs, immune to charges and a game ending feat - and this was after he was nerfed, twice. Add to this the Stealthed, Tough, Bane Thralls, Bane Knights, Satyxis Raiders with about 20" of threat and the Bile Thralls it was truly a fearsome package. Poor Lich, we will miss you.

It was Gaspy2 that led the way for Cryx to be top dog, backed up by the pSkarre 30 Banes list (MOAR BANEZ!!!!) and the pDenny 'you have no fun' list, it basically gave Cryx an almost perfect pairing.

Enter Mk3, and PP really went to town with the nerf bat, a brief run down of pieces that are now noticeably worse off than their Mk2 variant:

-Bane Warriors
-Bile Thralls
-Skarlock Thrall / Withershadow Combine (kind of)
-Satyxis Raiders
-Bane Lord Tartarus
-Bane Riders
-Necrosurgeon & Stitch Thralls

To name a few, there are probably more.

Now, a bunch of those nerfs were needed and some even justified. But that is a huge core of the faction that was gutted, and a lot of it went too far the other way, especially considering many of those units are still paying the undead tax when being undead offers very little benefit these days, leaving them wanting on the table and a handful of points too expensive.

In my previous post I said I was fine with this, and truth be told I am. I play Cryx because I love the theme and feel of the faction, not for power gamer reasons. I am however, primarily a competitive gamer, always have been, always will be; this means I look for cost effectiveness and efficiency in units, Cryx units don't have that in abundance - a few exceptions aside. Also, to make it clear, the above list is not to say that those units are now terrible or unplayable or under powered, simply that they are worse than the previous iterations.

Where are we now?

Cryx is in an awkward spot, Mk3 has 'forced' the early meta down 2 routes, ARM skew brick lists and powerful ranged 'gun lines' (I hate that term), with the odd 'quirky' list thrown in there, usually because it counters either of the aforementioned lists well. Cryx does neither of these well. This leaves Cryx, as one of the premier melee factions, trying to squeeze into shoes that don't fit. Whilst at the same time fighting a faction like Cygnar with very few of the same drawbacks holding Cryx back.

Cryx 'jacks can hit fast and hard, but they are fragile so in a world of power ranged attacks they will rarely get there fully functional. The balance to this is to spam them, Slayers are 10pts and pretty decent value for 10pts. The problem here is only 1 or 2 casters really support large numbers of jacks well, on top of our casters still being built around support infantry in a meta where infantry are very low down the pecking order.

This brings me to another point, there isn't much in the way of synergy in Cryx, in fact there is quite a bit of 'anti-synergy' such as BANE Witch Agathia offering almost nothing to support Bane units. I watch a Cygnar game the other night, Stryker2 I think it was, with all the Stormlances. With the simple application of a spell or 2 and a *Action or 2 both Cav units were ARM 20+ with very good DEF, how Cryx would dream for that kind of synergy for our key units.

Warmachine is a game of Questions and Answers, factions pose questions that need to be answered. Can you survive a Cygnar feat turn of shooting? Can you get up and over crazy high ARM from Baldur lists? Can you avoid a 28" assassination run from Lylth3? Can you break through a Troll brick on Ragnor's feat turn? Can you...Can you...Can you.... I look at questions like these, and bearing in mind that I am still new to Warmachine, I can see that Cryx can answer these questions but with a fair amount of difficulty and specific army builds. When I have been writing lists in War Room I constantly end up sitting there and thinking "What question does this pose?" and the answer is that it doesn't really pose a difficult question at all. Perhaps it is my lack of experience showing through but everything Cryx puts on the table can be dealt with trivially.

I am going to end it here as the post is starting to sound ranty and I don't want it to, I am just outlining my personal experiences so far. Cryx in Mk3 is a puzzle that I am looking forward to unlocking, myself and a few Cryx players i know have ideas that we want to try but it will be a while before we see where Cryx falls once the meta settles.

Lets see how it goes.

As usual, any comments and feedback welcome and thanks for reading.