Faction Review: Cryx (this is a long one)

For anyone not paying attention, Cryx got a major shake up when mk III landed (a fact that has been much lamented by Cryx players). From the outside, I think mostly people are reacting to the fact that they need to think and change (two things that are very difficult to do at times). Personally, I really like it when overpowered choices get rebalanced into a good spot, I’m also not horrendously heartbroken when an overpowered caster gets undertuned and left below the power curve for a while to pay for their crimes (there are still a few offenders in the game that could do with some more adjustment downwards). One of the reasons I’m not heartbroken is because it grants the opportunity for other choices to be valid. One of the common jokes that used to bounce around the Cryx forums was, “MOR BANES!” Any list questions or discussion was stifled by the cry of MOR BANES. Why try this unit X when MOR BANES was just a strictly better choice? (In a similar fashion, Cygnar boards were nothing but “where’s Haley2 and your stormwall?”). What with Cryx being turned on its head, people are bailing for other factions like there’s no tomorrow. This intrigues me since overall, I feel that PP did a decent job of getting hundreds of models, units and rules to all play nicely together.

  • Is the Cryx boat really that awful?
  • Is it on fire and sinking simultaneously?
  • Does this post have a point?

This past June, I joined everyone in oggling every card and happily jumped on the various hype-trains. When I was sorting through Cryx (with practically no prior knowledge beyond “MORE BANES”), I noticed a few things as an outsider.

  • The Cryx boat isn’t on fire or sinking.
  • Mother of god, speedy DEF13 heavy jacks.
  • Gaspy2 got utterly destroyed.

So, this post started as a Scaverous review (because that’s a thing I do when I have computer access and free time). But as I was putting that post together, it evolved into more of a “what silly things can I do with this faction?” type of affair (which in turn, evolved into this post).

So Cryx lost a couple of their big, iconic, powerhouse casters that were dominating tournaments, but these casters weren’t deleted into oblivion, they just got a rework in their role or purpose. Let’s grab Gaspy3 as a quick example. Gaspy3 was an armor cracker with both damage and accuracy fixes that really wanted a massive infantry swarm (#MOR_BANES_2016), if they had ported him straight from mkII there is not a single doubt in my mind that we would be seeing him on the table as one of Cryx’s top 5 casters. But he changed into a jack caster with Field Marshal [Unyeilding], Mobility and Calamity. Gaspy3 also plays the DEF skew game that Cryx wants to see AND packs upkeep removal. Certainly he doesn’t function well as an infantry blob buff bot anymore, but in a game where running jack heavy isn’t a bad thing, he’s really quite dangerous. A number of things in Cryx strike me in the same fashion, changed certainly, but not bad.

Now I could post a paragraph or three for each entry in Cryx, but I’m certain that most people would prefer a quicker summary than that so I’m going to pick my top few choices out of each category (Warcaster, Troops, Solos, Warjacks), briefly explain why I have this opinion and then call it a post (feel free to comment or otherwise contact me if there’s something you think I’ve gotten wrong).

Warcasters

Here are the 5 casters in Cryx I just don’t want to see on the table (or that I would play if I moved into Cryx for some reason).

Scaverous – He’s a powerhouse of a spellcaster that pretty much fixes anything the opponent decides to buff. Add in Telekensis and a couple methods of generating souls (plus the fact that he can turn souls into rerolls for whomever needs them) and there’s very little that Scaverous doesn’t threaten. With his feat (-1 to spell costs) and an arcnode (or a fat souls turn), he can maintain a credible spell assassination threat with a 14” bonejack run. About the only thing that limits Scaverous from just shoving every other caster out of the Cryx meta is the fact that he lacks a defense buff.

Gaspy3 – Cryx has amazing jacks. The fact that Gaspy3 basically fixes every problem that Cryx jacks face is enough to toss him onto my list. He has debuffs, a def buff, fixes jack armor, speed and vulnerability to rough terrain. I have a hard time imagining the terror that could be Cryx jackspam (a Slayer threats 12” and can run to engage 15”…)

Aiakos2 – Most of the journeyman warcasters that got their v2 were unimpressive. Aiakos is interesting. If he had one or two more focus, he would define the Cryx meta. Instead, he has an amazing spell list that is going to be best used in combination with via pieces like Skarlocks or Deathjack. The fact that he’s also amazingly mobile without any resource investment means that even with a lower focus count, he’s not going to be outrun by his army. With a MAT fix, an armor debuff and threat extender, I think that Aiakos is going to be seen quite a lot when his general release happens.

Terminus – Terminus just needs an army to protect and deliver him to whatever needs to die. Basically a green colored Butcher, Terminus can pretty much kill anything that has the misfortune to stand within 9” of him. With the ability to pass off shots to tough, undead warriors, Terminus is resistant to being shot off the table (I’d grab something like the Revenant Crew to make his Sac Pawn targets almost infinite). The “balancing” factor of Terminus is that he is almost completely selfish, he does nothing for anyone else in his army.

Denny1 – (Note that Denny 1 and 2 and Agathia are basically the same caster with a few differences. Denny1 is just the best of the three). Mother of debuffs! In my opinion Denny1 is the iconic Cryx caster, nasty debuffs, brilliant feat, and a delicious suite of defensive tech. She has some nice synergies and classically shunts a couple of other Cryx casters out of contention by her existance (why play Agathia when Denny1 is a caster, something that is iconically Cryx as undead things).

Warjacks

Now I’ve mentioned a couple times that Cryx has some of the best jacks in the game, but the reigning opinion typically is “Cryx jacks? They’re sh*t, don’t bother.” especially when discussion about Cryx heavies pop up. I think this is the wrong attitude. Anyways, Cryx jacks feature high speed, high defense (for heavies DEF13 is high) and low armor. Unlike a Juggernaut, Cryx jacks tend to explode with a minimum of effort. That is, until “DEF SKEW” becomes a thing. Most heavies have a DEF stat between 10 and 12 and a MAT of 6. That means on average, a heavy jack rolls a 13 to hit (which amusingly, hits every other heavy in the game). Now people are going nuts for Gallant, to the tune of “OMGEE A HEAVY WITH DEF 13 WHAT IS THIS OP NONSENSE”, which really raise the question of: Why aren’t Cryx players going similarly nuts? Probably a lack of DEF buffs. All this preamble aside, let’s get into it!

Barathrum – Delicious! For 15pts this guy is what I would probably try and take in every list as a beater. He loses nothing from the Slayer chassis and gains the ability to, when he kills something, to threaten ridiculous places. Run under Terminus (or Gaspy3) and he suddenly can take a hit or three. Dig-In is an incredible ability on a DEF13 model (DEF17 against shooting), with a cloud or DEF buff, that gets into the “nigh-unhittable” range. About the only downside is that this is a Character and thus, only one per list.

Slayer – This is an amazing jack, with an inherent threat of 10” and a 12” run, the biggest downside is that he’s a bit pillowfisted with P+S16 claws (which in a faction that is infamous for ARM debuffs, isn’t really that big of a deal). Cheap, fast and mobile, about the only thing I don’t like is the lack of pathfinder.

Nightmare – Huh, all Slayer chassis insofar. Anyways, Nightmare is one of the best sculpts in the game. Coupled with a fabulous bond (because let’s be fair, one of the big downsides to running jacks is having them shot before they get to do anything, Nightmare’s bond is Stealth), an immunity to rough terrain AND obstacles, and an inherent damage buff, Nightmare is a Slayer with all of the problems solved. With a touch of debuff stacking, Nightmare can threaten to one round a colossal…and that is terrifying.

Deathripper – Cheap. Fast. Arc node. There are a couple flavors of this guy now but I like the cheapest one since they tend to accidentally explode the turn after you use them (courtesy of your opponent).

Shrike – Now this is the last jack that I rather impressed by (not to say that there aren’t other perfectly viable jacks in Cryx, the crab jacks have some great potential, they just don’t surprise or scare me enough to mention currently). I’m a big fan of lights that can trample (there’s a griffon in circle that does a similar thing) since it opens up a lot of utility. Cryx straight up wins with this guy however, he trades the Deathripper’s arc node for Wings, +1 DEF, free tramples, additional attack dice on trample attacks, free strike immunity while trampling and the ability to trample EVERYTHING (and more damage on trample attacks). This is a jack that is built to trample things to death (woe steelheads) and unlike heavies, it has enough movement on a trample (10” total) and a small enough base to make huge tramples (since heavies tend to not fit at the end of trample movements at SPD+3”). At 6pts, I find it hard not to slot one in as a solution to troop swarms (seriously, 7+3d6 on the attack, 11+2d6 on the damage without any focus)!

Units

This is a bit trickier of a section to evaluate without a lot of table time devoted to Cryx since a number of the Cryx units seem rather bad without taking the faction synergies into account. Once again, I’ll pick my top few things that I’m worried and scared to see on the other side of the table (or, conversely, the few things that I would play).

Bane Warriors – My understanding is that these guys dropped Stealth for Ghostly and that made them go from terror of the table to absolute trash. I disagree, vehemently! In a faction with viable Occultation casters (hey look, stealth on a stick), these guys are much stronger. Effectively P+S13 weaponmasters, they sprint 10” up the table every turn and have built in pathfinder (as a Protectorate player, I would kill to see Bane Warriors in faction). Coupled with a fabulous solo (I’ll get to that guy) and a UA that let’s these guys replenish their numbers from the things that they kill for a turn, I doubt that mkIII is the end of Bane Warriors on the table (perhaps the army of nothing but Bane Warriors is done but that’s probably a good thing).

Blackbane’s Ghost Raiders – I’ll admit, I skipped past these guys a few times after glancing at their defense line of 13/12 (heyo victim stats!). I completely missed that incorporeal icon on the card. Now admittedly, a P+S10 attack is rather underwhelming, but in a faction that is infamous for it’s debuffing ability, that is not really much of an issue (any ARM debuff caster will support them just fine). Coupled with their ability to replenish their own numbers by kill enemies, their relative immunity to most of the game and the fact that they can set things on fire, I think these guys are some of the stronger scenario troops in the game. Oh, they also apparate 2”.

Satyxis Raiders – Holy DEF skew batman! I saw these guys in mkII as the premiere jamming unit for Cryx, that hasn’t changed! SPD 7, DEF14, 2” melee and gang, these guys are still just as annoying and just as dangerous as mkII.

Steelhead Riflemen – Mercenaries! Buhzinga! With a straight face, these guys were horrendously overcosted in mkII because Cryx could take them. They’re much cheaper now and Cryx can still take them…Typically merc units are awful because you can’t buff them BUT debuffs are equal opportunity pain for everyone, mercs included. Interestingly, Cryx doesn’t have a big, shoot-y unit choice so until they do, I like the look of Steelhead Riflemen (also, grab a min unit of these guys for three RAT7, POW13 shots a turn or one RAT11, POW17 shot, CRA is good, kay?).

Soulhunters – On the subject of min unit utility units, I love the idea of a mininum unit of Soulhunters for solo hunting. For 11pts, you get 3 SPD9 (!!!), DEF14 models that threaten 13” with a fully boosted charge attack. With the ability to pop incorporeal after murdering something and reposition 5”, I really think this a unit that can threaten crazy lines without a tremendous amount of effort. I do agree that a full unit of Soulhunters is probably a waste of points (its the typical issue of not enough base space), but a min unit really repsresents a ton of utility.

Solos

I love solos. They do a ton for making a effective, flexible list that can catch whatever the opponent drops on their side of the table (or represent questions that are difficult to answer, see Kell Bailoch). In mkIII (sadly), everything got cheaper except solos. Meh.

Bane Lord Tartarus – This guy looks like the best of the mkII banes mixed with the best of the mkIII banes. If there are any Banes in your list, this guy is worth consideration. Since he’s got stealth, it’s difficult to remove him from the board before he gets his points back. He makes banes more accurate and can replenish bane units around him by murdering things. Only 2 points more than the UA, I like him MORE then the UA since the UA for the Bane Warriors only offers a one per game replenishment. He also is effectively a P+S14 weaponmaster with two attacks. Ya know, cause banes.

Bloat Thrall Overseer Mobius – I hate the appearance of this model (of all Bloat/Bile Thralls actually) but he is deliciously effective as a solo. “But wait!” you might object, “without a Bloat Thrall, this guy is a waste of points!” And you’d be right, if he himself wasn’t a Bloat Thrall as well. That’s right, all of his orders apply to himself! Now, instead of a 10pt premium, you only pay 6! And for 6 points, this guy is decently scary. With his orders, this guy has a lot of options every turn as to what he does. From the top, he threatens a POW14, AoE 4, RAT 5 shot 19” that applies continuous corrosion (haha single wound troops!). Mobius can also JSJ (Jump-Shoot-Jump) from behind things (or simply skitter 7” away from whatever is chasing him). Lastly, he can spike up to RAT 7 (a bit understated, but still strong). Even if all this guy does is pass out continuous corrosion to a bunch of models, he can do that with little fear of reprisal from basically turn two onwards.

Daragh Wrathe – Whoo! Dragoon! And not a shabby one at that. This guy does a lot to make Cryx a scary scenario/attrition presence on the board and he’s difficult to remove from the board. He has three spells on his card, a movespeed buff for undead models (hey look…that’s like the entire faction!), a POW14 single target nuke (meh but it is POW14) and a 9” bubble of “enemies suffer -2 POW” (which is actually really strong). With Battle Wizard and Reposition 3” to cap it off, this guy will probably get his points back (even if it just causes your banes to sprint faster towards the enemy).

Machine Wraith – Not the most impressive solo ever, at a bare minimum, this is a 2pt incorpreal model. At the most, this guy will probably die the turn after you use it BUT a Machine Wraith can serve to kidnap pretty much any warjack your opponent has (read: a poor man’s telekinesis). Since Telekinesis is probably the best spell in the game, I’m down with paying 2 points to get a once per game telekinesis on a key jack (with an 11” charging, incorporeal threat, it’s pretty scary).

Pistol Wraith – I love these guys. First off, they’re incorporeal (are we seeing a pattern here? I hope so!) so they’re pretty much immune to death before you get to use them. Coupled with two RAT7, POW12 shots, these guys get the souls of whatever they kill (enabling them to boost their shots and boosted POW12s do a surprising amount of work). Now if that was all this model did, I’d be less impressed (spot removal that can boost shots, it’s good but not versatile enough to tickle my fancy). Tack on Chain Attack: Death Chill (double tap a model, it becomes stationary) and I begin to drool. Seriously, this allows a scary amount of crowd control on a stick. Each turn this solo can, at a minimum, tax a warjack/beast a focus/fury. At most, this removes accuracy as an issue for the entirety of the faction and there is very little in the game that is immune to stationary.

So that wraps up this faction review of mine. I’ve certainly missed things and not mentioned others (feel free to shout/yell/comment/whatnot, feedback is always welcome!) but I really think that Cryx still has the potential to an absolute terror. At the time of writing, I’ve got a fledgling Cryx force (2 Player Warmachine Starter + mkII Battlebox + Min Soulhunters) but who knows where it’ll end up.

Kraye (Some Musings)

This isn’t a caster rating, just some musings. So I got to play a game with Kraye recently, only 25pts, but it clarified a few things for me.

  • Kraye sucks.
  • Chargers are amazing.
  • Kraye should not take Defenders.
  • Trenchers are amazing and I have no clue how to use them effectively.

For the record, my list was:

Kraye
-Charger
-Charger
-Defender
Min Trenchers
Trencher Chain Gun
Captain Maxwell Finn

And I was playing into a Retribution list:

Rayven
-Hydra
-Hydra
Stormfall Archers
Max Invictors

We were playing The Pit. Terrain consisted of two ruins that were basically linear obstacles and rough terrain inside that just barely cornered into the zone (placed roughly on the midline of the table).

The tl;dr version is that I lost due to an assassination run on Kraye. He was sitting on my flag, Finn was keeping Rayven away from her flag by standing nearby (I was up 3-0 on the turn Kraye died) and the pit was a blood bath (I had a charger, a half hour defender and Finn left at the end. My opponent had a Hydra and the archers). My opponent took her only shot at winning (killing Kraye) and managed to do it with a last hail mary shot from Rayven.

Anyways, I’ve always liked Kraye. Turning my big, smashy robots into big, smashy robot horses is just plain fun! Sadly, Kraye is just useless for anything else. No cool spells, a lackluster feat, low focus, poor stats…playing him is just misery. I still need to try a few more permutations of his list, but by and large I find myself thinking, this would be an amazing list under any other caster.

Kraye has issues and I think those issues stem from his utter lack of army interaction. If he had a CTRL spell that boosted ranged attack rolls, things would be better. Or how about a spell that lets him scoot infantry around faster, that’d be cool. Or maybe a unit buff of some sort, I like the sound of quicken.

With the way he is now, about the only advantage he has is making the choice to run a Mercnar style of list not feel bad (since it’s not like Kraye will be buffing things anyways). In designing a new list with this principle in mind, I made another few Kraye-led mercnar lists that are now in need of testing.

Kraye
-Charger
-Charger
-Hammersmith
Max Steel Halberdiers
Arcane Tempest Rifleman x2
Eiryss1

The basic idea behind this variation was to run the Steelheads as the primary jamming force. The snipers cripple and scalpel threats while the Chargers flat to handle anything else. The Hammersmith hangs out for aggressive piece trading (3 focus and feating puts it 9” down the board and it arrives with 6 attacks, enough to rip several jacks to pieces). This list is okay but I feel like it lacks a win condition…it doesn’t really force or control scenario, it doesn’t really have an assassination threat and it can’t win the attrition game.

I built a few more lists under Kraye but at the end of each list I can’t help but think, this could work…but it would work better under Stryker1… I’m not going to give up on Kraye, but the only thing that he really brings to the table is Iron Horse (maybe I need to take a look at a jack heavy list that looks to leverage the charge bonus of Kraye).

I can only hope that PP will take another look at this caster and perhaps throw a rework at him. Meh.