Monday, October 11, 2010

WARMACHINE: Mr. Black's Top Cryx Warcasters

or "How I Learned to be the Dirtiest Player at the Store"

Mr. Black here, and you'll have to excuse me because my inner bastard tends to come forth when speaking about Cryx. Perhaps it's the play-style, maybe it's the dirty tactics you get to employ against your opponent, or maybe it's because half my chosen faction is a bunch of women who carry with them equal parts visual appeal and a thirst for cold-blooded murder... Yes, I have unique tastes.

(We're not adding a picture of that, I don't care what your "unique" tastes are- Photo Editor)

The point is almost more-so than any other faction, in any game, Cryx allows me to cater a play-style that I really love, and returning to the game has reminded me of such. Thus I have taken the time to reacquaint myself with each of my old favorites as well as the newcomers to the party. That being said, let's take a look at a few of my favorite Warcasters that Cryx has to offer. This will probably end up being a two-parter, so let's jump right in!

Oh, and on that note, this is all completely subjective and is my personal opinions, I do not recommend nor can I condone in any way, shape, or form anyone following my thoughts or opinions... Unless you're into the same kinda things I am, in which case stay the course...

War Witch Deneghra
"The evil twin is always the hot one."

 Deneghra in a way really embodies the Cryx mind-set, she is stealthy, trixy, and can utterly decimate the opponent's defenses if they are not careful (well, ok, even if they are careful. She doesn't take no for an answer!). Basically she plays like the quintessential spellcaster-type you can probably visualize in your head... Except less Hermione Granger and more Naughty-Goth-Librarian-Covered-in-Spikes...

(Can't show that either. Suggest PG-13 photos or I'm just going to start using bunnies and kittens. -Photo Editor)

Deneghra utilizes her arsenal of spells of de-buff the enemy first and foremost with the likes of Parasite and Crippling Grasp, which both reduce the target's stats (most notably ARM), thus making them an easy target for most anything else in your force to slaughter. Added to this she has a great arsenal of direct-damage and utility spells to boot, being able to take out formations with the template-attack Venom and deliver high-POW hits with Scourge (which to note also knock the target down, thus making them much easier to hit... Which is kind of a de-buff in it's own right). As far as her utility aspect she has Ghost Walk for terrain manipulation and (new to MKII) Influence, which takes temporary control over an enemy model- useful for turning those nasty solos against the enemy!

Her weaknesses however are that she's quite fragile should she get into melee and thus it's strongly advised to take advantage of the other great Cryx asset the Arc Node, which allows her to maintain her firm grasp of control from the rear, safe from danger though still allowing her to reach out and touch things (Crippling Touch of course).

When it comes to her Feat, The Withering, basically it's going to function like her go-to spell Crippling Touch, except on en masse- that's right, Deneghra isn't happy exhausting just one target, she can take on a whole board of them and still keep going. Combine all these elements together and during her Feat turn Deneghra can remove most any form of defense from any target she wants, stacking all her effects together and creating a massive -7 to ARM and -4 to all other stats, meaning if she wants something dead it's pretty much going to happen!

Final Review: A great starter-caster for new players as well as a dangerous vixen for the veterans. Deneghra embodies the fundamentals for Cryx as well as being a great spell-slinger in her own right. Plus few other casters could rock a mid-rift as well as her. Haley? Please!

Pirate Queen Skarre
"My what a Great Rack you have..."

While Denehra likes taking the "lead from behind" approach Skarre prefers the up-close-and-personal style, dominating from the front with all the bloodshed and spender of a Satyxis unbound. Basically while with Deneghra you'd probably take a few Arc Nodes and let her do most of the work Skarre takes a different approach, instead forgoing rampant use of Arc Nodes for the ability to buff units around her and lead them to greater effect- that's right, this lovely lady has had tons of experience and will gladly show you the ropes. Of course I am speaking of arguably her best ability, Dark Guidance, which allows all friendly faction models near her to roll an additional die when attacking, almost guaranteeing that you're going to hit your target- this ability alone makes her phenomenal and already worth taking. Basically your troops will hit easier and your Warjacks won't need to waste those Focus Points on the attack, instead saving them for sheer, raw damage. 
Now, as I said, Dark Guidance is arguably her best spell, I say arguably because she also has Ritual Sacrifice, which for the mere cost of a nearby troop model (Mechanithall and Necrosurgeon anyone?) will give her an additional +D6 focus next turn, add in the fact that it will usually be a Skarlock casting this spell for free and you understand why this maneuver is called the Focus Factory. So, not only does she have spells that save you from wasting resources but she will also have plenty to spend on Warjacks. On that note, Skarre likes 'em big. It's personal choice on which to take, but with her I've always loved the Reaper, mainly due to her synergy with it's Sustained Attack. Skarre already helps him drive the big spike home with Dark Guidance and with the extra focus saved (as well as allocated due to Ritual Sacrifice) the Reaper gains the ability to dig in and keep going, and few things are going to survive that may P+S: 16 thrashings, as illustrated here:    

 (I warned you- Photo Editor)

Now, let's talk briefly about three other things that make Skarre my absolute favorite Warcaster in the game. First, her Feat; not much to say other than it turns everything in your army into a powerhouse for a turn, it seems Skarre can cause even the most homicidal tendencies in her troops with something as simple as a little bloodletting- but then again who amongst us can say otherwise? Basically, unless things are dire, you'll be granting the army a +5 S +5 ARM bonus this round, which means they hit harder and can take more punishment- exactly the kind of ability I'd expect from someone who was lead by the Pirate Queen herself; it takes a strong force of will to dominate someone to that degree!

Next is her Great Rack. Which I can safely say is the Greatest Rack in the entire Cryxian fleet and probably in all the land. Sure, the normal Satyxis have decent Racks, but can theirs knock down something the size of a Juggernaut? Yeah, didn't think so. With the merest effort the Pirate Queen can unleash the full-boasting furry of her Great Rack, setting up virtually any opponent for an easy kill. As I've said before, Knocked Down opponents are easy prey in Warmachine and giving her an attack that causes just that is completely befitting a woman who likes being on top!

Last thing to mention is the key to her old Skarre Bomb strategy: Sacrificial Strike. Toned down from it's MKI version due to balance issues the old favorite stills packs quite the punch- able to hit anything within her LoS with a decent POW (boostable) auto-hit, all at the mere cost of one troop. Combine this with his ARM models such as Bane Thralls and you have a threat that, while a bit pricey, will deal some serious hurt. Personally, I always run a unit of Bane Thralls and Tartarus with her, as an easy way to re-coup loses... Or just spam Mechanithralls with her and let the Necrosurgeon fix things up after Skarre gets all riled up.

Final Review: Who can resist suck a lovely lady and her Great Rack? What? Oh, I never did notice she had horns before... Heh heh, guess that makes her Horny eh? 

Iron Lich Asphyxious

Now the last impression I want the readers to get is that I only care about the lovely ladies of Cryx! Oh no no! Quite the opposite really, I will praise the merits of all of our casters, whether they be male, female, or... other... That being said, let's now look at the Iron Lich himself, Asphyxious.

Now, I know what you're thinking: "Damn, look at that guy. Seven feet tall, covered in bling, has a gigantic rod. He must be one bad melee motha- Shut your mouth!" And you would be partially correct. Asphyxious is no slouch in melee, get close to him and he'll be more than willing to show you how well he can use his big rod Soul Splitter, which I assure you will live up to it's namesake as it has Sustained Attack, so once he starts he won't be stopping anytime soon- probably sometime after your dead- as if that means anything to a necromancer. The truth is, while he is a potent melee threat, he excels best using the same tactics as his cohort Deneghra, that is to say he loves leading from the real and making use of Arc Nodes.

Unlike Deneghra though, Asphyxious has a mixed bag of tricks, he is not limited to one focal strategy of de-buffing. He does retain Parasite, this is true, but instead of something like Crippling Touch, which lowers opponent's defenses, he makes use of Scything Touch, which boosts your friendly units MAT and STR, also granting them Critical Corrosion, but let's be honest, Critical Corrosion is really an afterthought in the matter. Basically in the comparison between Asphyxious and Deneghra consider it something of a Good Touch, Bad Touch scenario. Asphyxious can boost your own troops, Deneghra cripples the opponent's.

(No.Just No. Replacing that picture. -Photo Editor)

Also in his arsenal of spells we have two great offensive spells in Hellfire, and great POW 14 hit, and Breath of Corruption, which is a small AoE and basically forces the opponent to move his unit or die in the following phase- a great tactical spell if used for the occasion. Lastly he also has Teleport, which means he can charge right up there into melee then bounce back to (relative) safety. Again I will note though that while he is effective in melee he prefers being in the back, so don't get twitchy and dive forward, thinking your seven-foot-tall-bling-monster will just wreck everything or you'll soon find out how easy such things die.

Lastly let's talk about Asphyxious' feat, Consuming Blight, this is where he just lets it all hang out and proceeds to wreck things. This is the exception to the rule- Should your opponent's caster have foolishly wandered close then charge Asphyxious right up into them and Soul Splitter the heck out of them. Once you have that rod firmly implanted then Sustain Attack until your spent then pop your feat- BAM 'nother Seven Focus, ready for more. They think Asphyxious can't keep up with these youngsters just because he's a few thousand years old? He'll be glade to show them how that's the last mistake they'll ever make! Opponent not close enough? No worries, just hit them with a few boosted and Arc Noded Hellfires and, should you believe them low enough, pop that Feat and hit them some more! Definitely one of the less subtle feats in the game your opponent will probably know when you're going to use it just as soon as you do, but oh well, nothing they can do about it until Asphyxious has taken care of business.

Final Thoughts: A nice upgrade from the starter-box Deneghra. Has a similar play-style but offers enough variety to help a fledgling player make the change from the raw spellcaster feel of Deneghra to some of the more trixy Cryx casters such as Skarre or Lich Lord Venthrax.

Master Necrotech Mortenebra
"You have to respect a lady who knows how to work her tools."

(Ok I honestly don't know what  that was a picture of, other than I think it was Japanese. I've replaced it with this kitten, who's face matches my own upon seeing it... No more pictures, I'm done. -Photo Editor)

Mortenebra is a relative newcomer to the party, but what she lacks in experience she makes up for in raw talent for the job. A necrotech like no other she has gone so far as to craft her own body to be the ultimate tool for any occasion, much as the figure above has. Basically, she is the missing link in our first four casters. We have the sultry librarian-sorcerer Deneghra, the dominating troops-en masse Skarre, and the mixture of the two, Asphyxious, except without being female... or really male anymore... So now we have our Warjack-focused 'caster Mortenebra, who forgoes the fancy magics, the inspirational Great Racks and just focuses merely on making her machines and playthings run at optimal efficiency- love to see someone taking pride in their work.

At the initial look we see she has three great spells for turbo-charging her playthings: Terminal Velicity, Jump Start, and Overrun. Each of these spells basically causes your warjacks to be better, faster, stronger, so don't hesitate to pump her list full of Helljacks. This is also one of the cases where I'd make strong use of her Tier Lists, which lower the overall cost of your jacks, bringing the Slayer down to a steal at a mere five points! As you can see, Mortenebra loves the big muscles and can handle upwards of five/six before getting spread too thin. it's worth noting though that, like anything, Mortenebra thrives off of variety, so while it may be tempting to slam as many Slayers into a list as you can it's best to spread the fun around! Don't neglect the aforementioned Reaper, who's pull and stab motions have already been covered, the Harrower, for all your meat-blending needs, or even the big daddy the Deathjack, who can cast some of her better spells all by himself! Mortenebra may seem like a niche' chick, but she needs variety!

Speaking of man-servants, Mortenebra has her very own Skarlock Thrall by the name of Deryliss, meaning that by just including her in the list your already going to be saving points since she has a build-in sidekick. Ask any Cryx player worth his merit and they'll tell you one of the most widely used models is the Skarlock! He has his own little unique tricks, but honestly they're situational at best, and while I hate using that term in a game build off of situations there are better things to discuss about the lovely lady...err...spider... Spider-Lady.

  (I quit. -Photo Editor)

The last thing I'll mention about Mortenebra is her fantastic ability to Interface with her 'jacks. Yep, just by being in base-to-base with them they can freely use her focus as their own, meaning that something like a Reaper can harpoon in an unsuspecting Warcaster and kill-them-dead. It's a handy little ability, the best? No. But when it's successfully used the effects will be absolutely devastating. That's pretty much my feelings on Mortenebra, and I know it probably didn't do her justice. She's a fantastic warcaster and I love the feel of her... Oh yes, cold, hard steel... She's great for a newcomer to use and her Tier List is a great asset to the seasoned player who wants something a bit more straightforward and brutal compared to some of the more common Cryx Tryx!

Final Thoughts: I like Mortenebra a lot, the ability to run so many warjacks and have them be effective is great fun! Again, I believe she's one of the best choices for a newcomer, but if your like me and like the idea of having Warmachines in your game of Warmachine then perhaps her long, cold, steel appendages are meant for you as well!

~And thus we have concluded Part I in Mr. Black's list of favorite Cryx warcasters. Next week we'll be looking at some other favorites, but I won't spoil the surprise for you! See you next time readers, and in the mean time I'll be looking for a more open-minded Photo Editor! -Mr. Black  

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