Time to get my teeth into the new toys.
Lich Lord Venethrax, like most of the new pieces in the book, is a badass. I imagine he was something of a chore to balance, given that his background is explicitly anti-Hordes, but he still has to be playable against Warmachine. His melee potential hinges on having enemy warbeasts to personally batter, but he has some flexibility against other targets.
The classic Blood Rain and Hellfire on a FOC7 caster are to be embraced, and his Caustic Presence ensures that single wound infantry will either be staying the hell away from him or facing certain, albeit delayed death. Shiny expressed concern at Lamentation, too, which means enemy ‘casters have to keep their distance if they want to be casting spells. There is a downside to these, as enemies keeping their distance isn’t always a good thing with Cryx. Generally, we want to encourage things into threat range rather than give ourselves more ground to cover (what with the bias towards melee exhibited by most of our troops/popular builds/players’ perceptions of the game), but we’ll see.
Finally, and I mention this finally because I think it complements the keep-away aspects of Venethrax, we have Soul Harvester. With this baby upkept on something that can mulch infantry – Soulhunters or Bloodgorgers or even a Harrower, something like that – Venethrax should be able to hoover up the soul tokens, make the most of his FOC7 and two decent offensive spells, or chuck some on warjacks.
Bottom line: like the other Lich Lords, Venethrax seems to rely on favourable opposition. He’ll be at his best against Hordes, where there’s almost nothing he can’t benefit from either battering or sending someone else to batter. Against Warmachine, a warjack-heavy opposition could scupper him badly – he’s just got nothing special for them, and ‘nothing special’ isn’t good enough for Warmachine. However, the book contains something else which is going to do him a lot of favours in that respect…
… look at my segue! The Ripjaw had a lot of work to do to impress me – as an arc node on legs – sorry, classic chassis bonejack – it wants to stay out of combat, but having a melee weapon, it wants to get into combat. This intrinsic counter-intuitiveness does not appeal to me, and neither does its point cost. It would have to be good to even warrant consideration.
It is quite good. It has the same potential to chow down on tough targets as the Cankerworm, and it also has an old familiar favourite from Mark One in the form of Vice Lock – only it’s on a warjack, not a squashy one wound solo that smells of mould and engine oil, and it can’t be shaken off – you get locked, you’re not advancing for one round. Tougher platform for an excellent rule that also lets the Ripjaw act as an enabler for a low-MAT high-damage melee piece like, oh, I don’t know, half the Cryx infantry? That’s worth a go.
It still has the Melee Weapon vs. Arc Node tension, which is why I’d favour it with warcasters who don’t go mad on the arcing of spells but benefit enormously from nasty melee attacks on fast models, for whom the arc node is a secondary benefit. Venethrax, for instance, is going to love the Ripjaw – it facilitates his auxiliary role as spellslinger and it maims the things he’s at his weakest against. Mortenebra might relish it as well, being as she is the great enabler for Cryx melee warjacks.
Bottom line: still a bit pricey, to be honest, but it looks viable, which is more than I was expecting.
The other new warjack entry is one of the things I’m not sure about. The Corruptor is another Slayer-chassis, with all the weaknesses of that chassis (tinfoil armour, dependency on easily-avoided DEF to keep itself going, weaksauce damage grid that makes crippling weapon systems very easy indeed), and few of the advantages (the Slayer’s low cost, high damage output and flexibility, or the Reaper’s utility in scenario play and respectable, reliable damage output). That’s not to say I think it’s bad; it’s costed the way it is because it has a good gun, and Cryx pay a premium for those.
Said gun is very flexible, too. The Corruptor’s Burster rule is better than a standard AOE on the gun would be (unboostable, but high enough POW to achieve similar effect without needing focus to boost), and Psycho Venom is… interesting, I think, although it relies on the Corruptor having range to and killing something that has line of sight to something you want to cast spells on – there are a lot of variables involved. Distillation doesn’t exactly wow me since I stopped using Skarre; if my warcaster’s wounded I probably need to kill more enemy models and win fast, not muck about with damage control.
Distillation impresses me more on the Corruptor’s melee attacks, since three focus would buy me 4d3 points of healing. I also see hilarious potential from Burster (the Corruptor being able to ignore the AOE damage thanks to Corrosion immunity), and maybe from using the Corruptor as bait to draw in enemy melee units ready to be hosed by the Bile Thralls following it up (again, the Corruptor doesn’t care about being caught in their Purges).
Bottom line: I’ve a nasty suspicion I’d rather have a Slayer and a solo, but hell, they’re the same kit, let’s get the magnets out and have a test. Worst that can happen’s it’s not very good.
Bane Thrall Officer and Standard. Why did I sell my Bane Thralls? Oh, that’s right – I was desperate for money and thought I would be happy with a tightly themed collection. I was a MUG. Partly because the Banes would let me work with my instinct to have large armoured men in an army where they’re actually good, and partly because this thing is cool. While these two models live, the Banes have a one in three chance of shrugging off every casualty they take, and won’t be prevented from advancing by freezing or knocking down or such shenanigans.
Bottom line: might be a better use of three points than bumping up the size of the unit?
Satyxis Blood Witches… well, I was sort of hoping for a unit with a ranged attack, to be honest, but I’ll take what I’m given: a fast melee unit who’ll do very well for themselves double-teaming tough enemies and either generating cover for the Cryx army at large or flinging some extra damage into his mates. Their greatest advantage, I think, is being able to project that extra damage deeper into an enemy unit they’ve only been able to connect with the foremost members of. That and their UA.
Bottom line: Nice models, cheap unit, might as well give ’em a go.
Satyxis Blood Hag: HOT DAMN. Turning the Blood Witches Incorporeal for a round and helping them reach/survive their first round of combat? Enabling conventional assassination tactics against warlocks no longer able to transfer the hurt away? Removing upkeep spells from a unit she hits? Costs two points? The only thing I don’t like about the old baggage is her lacklustre SPD, which slows the Blood Witches down to the point where they’re almost a second line unit. However, if she was deployed at the front of their formation range and ran forward, the unit could move at full speed and overtake her without breaking formation… it’s just a question of whether she’d reach combat with the rest of them or not.
Bottom line: Could use a mobility scooter. Still good though.
Satyxis Raider Captain – more hotness. Speeding up the Satyxis Raiders to truly ridiculous degrees, protecting them from being knocked down and losing their greatest defence (their high Defence), and she’s a Weapon Master with excellent MAT too. Being able to Sprint her to safety after she’s duffed something up is quite attractive… oh, and she’s got a gun. A cheap one, with decent RNG and POW for a sidearm, in a Cryx army.
Bottom line: nice, although not for purchase if you don’t regularly field lots of Satyxis. I have some and want more, but there are higher priorities.
Warwitch Siren – hardly new, in fact she was previewed months ago, but this is the first time she’s been in a book and I want to talk about her. Fast, fragile focus-efficiency on legs, she helps spellslingers by providing focus to run their arc nodes into place, and ‘jack casters by packing a traditional Cryx offensive spell. Running up, Seducing an enemy solo and moving it out of its ideal threat range or buffing position could be cool, and I think Seduction is better for that than for wringing out extra melee attacks. If she’s got nothing better to do, she has the excellent DEF debuff and advance preventer Shadow Bind and a long threat range, which is cool for the same reason that the Ripjaw’s Vice Grip is cool. Sticking a focus point on, say, a Slayer (for a charge or power attack or boosted Combo Strike) has appeal too. She’ll do wonders.
Bottom line: she’s in half the Tier lists, which is all right, because if you’ve any sense and any money you’ll want two.