Awakening the Dead
Back around 2003 I was introduced to Warmachine and Privateer Press by a local pressganger. A number of club members were getting into the game and I bought a few Menoth Choir members to use in an Inquisitor’s retinue for my Daemonhunters army for Warhammer 40K. My friend punkrabbit was not using his Cryx army actively and I asked if I could borrow it to play in a Steamroller tournament.
I had possibly played one game of Warmachine before entering the Steamroller and got rolled pretty badly by my first Menite opponent, BJ. In my other two games, I fared better, tying one and winning my last against another newbie playing Khador. As the only Cryx player, I won a Best of Faction award and got a certificate and a little medal with a green ribbon. What a way to hook a new player!
I took this army with me down to Comic Con that summer where the Steamroller was split up into a newbies category and one for veterans. With four games under my belt, I entered the newbie one and won it, getting another little medal, a $25 gift certificate, and a Warmachine shirt. Privateer Press really knows how to play to a gamer’s ego and vanity.
Since then I have never quite done as well, but I also purchased the army from punkrabbit and have used it in at least three more Steamrollers. I painted the base borders black and added some more vegetation, but everything in the army was painted by punkrabbit, with a few exceptions.
As wonderfully painted as it is, the thing is is that I don’t really care about Cryx. For that matter, I’m turned off by steampunk and a lot of the elements of the Iron Kingdoms. I got into Warmachine because it was popular with my peers, had fewer miniatures to buy and paint, and I liked some of the mechanics, as well as how Privateer Press was approaching the game. You might also say that I got into Warmachine because of being able to purchase a fully painted and playable army. A Cygnar gunline play style is much more of what I would choose if I were going purely for unit mechanics. That said, units like the Arcane Gun Mages with their silly tri-corner hats really bother me. I like the pure fantasy martial look of the Doom Reavers, Storm Guard, or some of the Menite units. On average though, because they are undead and fantasy-based to begin with, Cryx doesn’t have many steampunk elements in their models.
Army Strategy or Lack Thereof
I am a very defensive conservative player usually. When I played Warmachine under the Mark I rules, Cryx was supposed to be the fastest faction necessitating a lot of coordinated precision, a finesse army. I used my army like a blunt instrument. I think my overall record was split 50-50 in wins and losses. I rarely, if ever, made power attacks with my warjacks, and usually played Steamrollers to their objectives, never even trying for caster kills, while usually overprotecting my own caster quite zealously. I may have given up only one or two caster kills, otherwise my opponent would have to destroy everything else in my force to get to my caster.
Three things I do really like about playing Cryx though are the creation of new units, tactical army shifting, and the ability to ignore Terror. With his Feat, Goreshade can summon a unit onto the board, while the Necrotech can turn scrap and wrecks into new soldiers. I can deploy in a large pattern across the board, but then in the first turn use my higher Speed values to run all of my army to one flank, leaving my opponent’s slower units with nothing to fight. Because I have no living units, I also don’t have to think about Terror and Morale in my army.
Cryx Army Composition
For the most part, the army you see below was exactly what I purchased from punkrabbit. Whatever his tastes were at the time is what I have inherited. The army is entirely Warmachine Prime and Escalation choices, I believe, except for a few additions.
If you do not play Warmachine, the choice of Warcaster drastically affects how an army is played because each Warcaster has unique Feats, special abilities that are activated only once per battle. They also have their own spells and special attacks, though some spells do overlap from Warcaster to Warcaster. While I do envy some of the other factions’ casters, Cryx has some excellent powerhouses itself.
Goreshade the Bastard
First the name itself: Goreshade the Bastard. Then look at the model on his medium-sized base and his massive sword, Bloodcleaver. Then add his sword’s ability to add a model, the Deathwalker. Add his feat, Dark Summons, which allows him to summon a unit of 5 Bane Thralls and a Lieutenant to his side who can then activate. Goreshade is magnificent. His anti-magic spell Mage Blight can also be a game changer or winner. Plus he has 7 Focus.
I have never used the secondary function of his feat to terrify enemies in his control area. When I started playing Warmachine he also threw off newbies and experienced players alike with his Bane Thralls. Unwary opponents would leave avenues open for me to exploit. Big things happen once his feat is underway (as it should be with every Feat in the game). On the other hand, I have only gotten to summon his Deathwalker once. As I said, I tend to protect my caster and shield him from harm’s way, which in turn makes it very unlikely for him to kill another living model himself.
The Iron Lich
I have played the Iron Lich the second most, but only in a handful of games. His high Focus of 7 is what I like in a caster and I like his Shadow Wings movement spell, whisking him across the board. His Feat is also pretty straightforward and beneficial. He effectively gets 14 Focus to spend for a turn, as well as dealing damage to enemies within 14 inches, which in practice only kills a few Troopers. I used the Iron Lich further on into playing Warmachine and was more aggressive with him, using the 2″ Reach on his Soulsplitter to kill more foes. Also given its Sustained Attack rules I have taken out Heavy Warjacks with him.
Deneghra, Skarre, and the Witch Coven of Garlghast
I have used Dirty D, Deneghra, exactly one time, I think. The same is true for Skarre. Their Feats are too abstract for me and I don’t care for many of their spells. The models are also puny when compared to Goreshade and the Iron Lich, though I have to admit that Deneghra looks impressive with no other model nearby to dwarf her. Skarre’s 6 Focus is acceptable to me, but boosting friendly models’ STR and ARM is just too intangible for me. Her whole shtick of taking damage for increased gains is alien to me.
The Witch Coven were acquired later and punkrabbit painted them to match the rest of the army. I don’t know where the third member of the coven is right now, but she is painted. Their arcane sphere, Egregore, though is not. I want to mount it on a clear plastic flying stand so it appears as though it is floating. I have never used them in a game. Like Khador’s Old Witch they’ve also always struck me as a caster choice that I seldom see mentioned in tournament lists or battle reports.
Troops and Solos
I have never gone with a pure ‘jack list, in part due to my limited selection of Heavy Warjacks, but also because some of these units are just too cool to pass up.
Have I mentioned yet how much I love Bane Thralls? Four dice of damage on the charge is awesome. Any heavy Warjack is probably going down as well as the Caster hiding behind it. I almost always take my Bane Thralls, even if not fielding Goreshade. Dark Shroud is nice when I can remember it. Stealth always gave me a false sense of security. Canny opponents would target their own nearby models or one of mine until I learned to keep the unit moving by itself if I wasn’t summoning them in via Goreshade.
I think the models are pretty good too. They certainly look like they could do 4 dice of damage with their axes. All the spiky fiddly bits on mine have started coming off and it’s a hassle to reattach them, so I’ve left them off. A lot of people have theirs painted as spectral warriors, but I like how punkrabbit gave them bone skulls.
My Mechanithralls were also usually an integral part of my army. I like the tactical versatility of either two lower powered attacks or one PS 15 attack against armored foes. I would like to get their unit attachment of the Brute Thrall at some point. I usually field them in their larger unit of 10 for resiliency. They do tend to come under attack often and early and usually don’t last an entire battle. I do have the Necrosurgeon unit attachment, but I have listed her down below.
Necrotech & Scrap Thralls
Initially I had trouble discerning between my Scrap Thrall and Mechanithrall models. I find that hard to understand now. What’s easy to get though is that Scrap Thralls go BOOM! Under Mark I rules they cost an additional 5 points each and awarded 0 victory points to my opponents when they blew up. I started out with 4 or 5 of them, but found them to be so useful that I bought several more blisters and now have 10 of the walking explosives. I keep them well away from each other and the rest of my units. They are slow, but can help shut down avenues of approach to the enemy. Mine have taken out a lot of troopers, but also successfully crippled Warjacks as well.
The Necrotech gives the ability to create even more Scrap Thralls! I love it. The model may be disconcerting, but creating new troops out of Disabled or Wrecked Jack Markers is very cool. What I learned though is that I should be aggressive with him. Forces an opponent to target him, which is a slightly wasted attack, is fine with me. Even better is when an opponent ignores him and he uses that 2″ Reach and grabs a hold of another model. In my earlier games though I protected my Necrotech and he never did anything quite useful, because waiting around to make more Scrap Thralls and then being nearby and able to actually reach the Disabled Jack is asking a bit much of the slow Necrotech.
In the hands of an aggressive player, I’m sure a Pistol Wraith can wreak more havoc. Some of my opponents have given mine a wide berth as though it is incredibly deadly. Sadly I’ve never attained such heights with mine. He might take out another Solo or several Troopers, but I’ve never gotten a caster kill with mine.
My original was painted by punkrabbit and matches the Machine Wraith and Skarlock. I picked up two more on eBay that were painted and have never used them.
The Machine Wraith is certainly a striking figure. I used it in my first couple of Steamrollers and it caused some consternation, but I have only been able to capture a ‘jack with it once or twice. The number of things that can hit Incorporeal models kept growing. Combine that with my opponents usually keeping their Warjacks within their Control area, which also happened to be within a spell’s range and I found the points spent on a Machine Wraith to be wasted. In this era of Warmachines and Hordes combined in tournaments, their specifically anti-warjack power could be an even bigger waste.
The ability to have 3 extra Focus a turn to either free up or play with is a hard one for me to pass up. I have usually taken my Skarlock in Steamrollers. The Iron Lich has a habit of leaving him behind with his Shadow Wings flight spell, but the Skarlock has been a faithful servant to Goreshade. While he tags along with Goreshade, when enemies start getting closer he is usually closer to the enemy and draws enemy attacks, serving as a light and fluffy meat shield.
Part of the miniature broke off and is missing, but I find it hard to spot where the little piece was on the figure. I think it may have been a wisp of magical energy near the Skarlock’s base that eventually bent off. Otherwise the little scrap I’m thinking of came from the similarly-painted Pistol Wraith.
Necrosurgeon and Stitch Thralls
When I initially acquired the army from punkrabbit, it didn’t have the Necrosurgeon and Stitch Thralls. He may have already had them, but they hadn’t been painted yet. I haven’t used them yet. I am dying too though, pun intended. Yet another unit that can create more models for me. The necromantic arts are just so useful!
With only three heavy warjacks painted and available to use, I usually field at least one, if not two, bonejacks in my Cryx army. Yes, they have a higher than average Defense and yes, they have low Armor. Yes, they are oftentimes the first of my units to go down. This is usually because in Take and Hold or other objective games I have paid a Focus to make my bonejacks run up and take the objective. Very quickly I just came to expect that they would die. The variety of them really doesn’t seem to make a difference to me. Initially I tried getting the ranged attack from the Defiler, but bonejacks are so limited in terms of stats (MAT 5/RAT 4) that they just suck. They also suck up opponents’ ranged attacks and attention. I make a bit more use of their Arc Nodes, but even then, they are the odd clucking chickens that seem to attract a lot of attention.
I have 5 that punkrabbit painted and then I saw these other two on eBay and they looked well painted and like they wouldn’t clash too much with my existing ‘jacks. I like the glowing necrite in them. Why 7 Bonejacks? One of the reasons is to allow me to create a second army for a friend to play either alongside me or against me.
When I lose a Defiler or a Nightwretch, I shrug. When one of my Reapers goes down or my Slayer it does take some time to recover. I have only fielded dual Reapers once, otherwise I usually take both the Slayer and a Reaper. The Slayer’s base attacks of 3 are nice. Again, I have only possibly used his Open Fists once or twice to make Slams or Throws.
On the other hand, is there anything as sweet as harpooning a rival Warcaster and Sustained Assaulting him or her with a Reaper’s Helldriver? I have managed it a couple of times and it is very gratifying. On occasion I will only take one of my Helljacks, but that is usually when I am trying out some new tactics or spells I rarely cast. Otherwise in Steamrollers I would take at least two Helljacks.
Reinforcements and Banned from Service
I have a Deathjack awaiting construction, as well as a Stalker. I also couldn’t resist picking up one of the “new” plastic warjacks a couple years ago at Comic Con, getting the Slayer/Reaper/Corruptor box, as though I need any more Reapers. The Cankerworm is too odd a look for me. I also picked up a Lich Lord Venethrax, but have yet to assemble him. Painting is a whole other issue because punkrabbit has a lot going on in his life.
The Satyxis Raiders have never appealed to me, though their Sea Witch unit attachment looks pretty sweet. I would love to have some Revenant Pirate Crew though, as well as some Black Ogruns. Bile Thralls are also too disgusting for me to really stomach in my force. I feel the same about Lich Lord Terminus. While he might impress others, he is too alien and strange for me to identify with him, not to mention the difficulty in assembly posed by the physical model. However I would like to get Master Necrotech Mortenebra to round out my selection of warcasters. I think the model is interesting and would compliment my Necrotech.
The real things I would love to get would be another unit of Bane Thralls, as well as some Bane Knights, and Bane Lord Tartarus. Just as I was playing some of my last Warmachine games, these models were coming out. On the other hand, I absolutely hate the centaur look of the Soulhunters which were introduced at that time and I could never see myself fielding them. If they weren’t so financially expensive, I would consider using other mounts instead with Bane Knights mounted on them, but that’s getting a bit ahead of myself.