“Lich moves forward and measures control, just guessing command on that stationary bile thrall.”
“Sure, go for it.”
“Okay, I excarnate on that pikeman nearby, boosting to hit… And that’s a bile thrall.”
“It’s not stationary either…”
Let’s talk Khador. It’s all snow-bots and Iron Brew pikemen this week on Nemesis. And it being Nemesis, we need our grand foe. In the last two articles I talked about the abilities of Lich Lord Asphyxious. The units and armies he’s most likely seen accompanying, and a very crude overview of what his player is likely trying to do with him.
This week, and most of the weeks to come, we will actually deal with what I feel is the crux of the Nemesis series. This series is designed to discuss the tools available in various different factions to help with their matchup against Lich2. So it’s worth your while refreshing yourself with his strengths from the first two articles. Knowing your enemy is very much so our modus operandi.
Assuming you have this in mind, or better yet lots of play experience against the Lich, I want to talk about Khador models, units, and spells that are useful in the games you’ll play against Lich2 and many other Cryx armies. We should think about the basics. Why are Cygnar considered to be the faction with the best Cryx matchup? It amounts mostly to two key words: guns, and denial. As a general rule, low pow guns are the best way to kill infantry. Such guns come on units, get to act first, forfeit power for accuracy, and once you hit most infantry it dies. Cryx very rarely field much in the way of high Arm infantry. Even their Def statistics, with the exception of raiders and mercs, rarely top thirteen. So guns are good here. Even better, gun wielding troops don’t have to get into the lines of the Cryx army, and distance is a very good defence against bile thralls. On the subject of bile thralls, scalpeling them out with guns is the best way to remove them, or at least lessen their numbers and push the position of the leader back.
These guys understand firepower.
We’re talking range 12”+ guns as well at this stage. And wanting our shots to be effective, we want accuracy. Nyss hunters are very solid here, with Valachev they can shoot then back off a further 3”, and being that far away helps to keep them safe from bile thralls. My personal favourite anti-Cryx shooting unit in Khador are the, hugely underplayed, winter guard rifle corps. This unit are great, with 14” guns rolling 3 dice to hit, they shred infantry. The supressing fire can even be useful, but mostly taking 10 very accurate shots from down-town makes the unit act very like gun mages against most non-stealth troops. Ask any Cygnar player and they’ll tell you deadeye is why there probably isn’t a full unit of gun mages. So sure, neither of those units are good at shooting bane thralls. But with any damage buffs, such as hand of fate or using Aiyana’s kiss of lyliss on a unit they will shred most infantry with 10 accurate Pow 12 shots a turn. That huge attrition advantage is the kind of thing I mean when I talk about rolling the game back up on the Lich2 player and forcing them to feat.
A note on the winter guard deathstar. The sprays can murder more infantry than anything in existence, but they get bile thrilled all over long before they can get into the Lich’s horde. Another note is that you want Aiyana and Holt, so you can still shoot the blood witches and to make your shots against bane knights and bone jacks into serious business. They are, in my opinion, an auto-include in a Cryx matchup for Khador.
Let’s talk denial. Khador are a direct faction. If anything I think they suffer from the fact that many of their tricks and common tactics are numbers games. As such, most of their denial abilities come from their casters and, even then, mostly from feats. Irusk2, the Old Witch and Zerkova all have feats which stop Lich’s and which are just generally effective against infantry hordes. Despite the hilarity of fire for effect mortars, I don’t especially like Irusk2 in the Cryx matchup. The Old Witch and even Zerkova (banishing ward, Cryx not having a lot of fire power, icy grip, and a good feat) have solid games when tied with the right tools. I won’t go too deeply into discussing Zerkova here. The Old Witch though, has iron flesh which is a good extra thing to have in your Lich toolbag. If nothing else, Def 18 casters are much harder to feat assassinate reliably. Murder of crows is great against satyxis. Gallows and the ability to let her and her battlegroup ignore clouds are very useful tools for counter threatening the Lich and forcing him back.
Me ol’ mum still has some tricks up her sleeves.
One of my favourite spells to use against Cryx units though is freezing grip. It allows you to turn the jam back on itself (so that satyxis can’t keep pushing deeper), it stops vengeance, it turns the unit off next turn entirely, and it lets almost every stray attack you have hit. Maximising attack numbers is huge against Cryx. Again, it doesn’t work against bane thralls, but they are slow and probably behind what you made stationary and if you can’t deal with one unit of banes then you’ve got 99 problems, but freezing grip ain’t one. Speaking of the pejorative, let’s have a look at the casters that have access to freezing grip.
Sorcha1 and Sorcha2 both possess this spell. Sorcha1 has a feat with lets you stationary one unit, clip another, then cast freezing grip to stationary that second unit in its entirety. If Lich is two units down next turn while you kill all of the things, he loses momentum and you should go hugely up in attrition. And she gets to freezing grip the very forward most part of their army, then back up and have +2 Def for her trouble with wind rush. Keith Christianson himself would be proud at our reverse direction caster antics. I really like Sorcha1. I think she’s a serious dark horse, especially played with lots of mercs to really stick it to cookie cutter Khador. You can see a list I love with her here.
When talking about counters for the Lich specifically though, it would be remiss of me not to talk about Sorcha2. She is already one of the best regarded Khador casters, she has freezing grip, iron flesh and a spell that lets her back up after using freezing grip in cyclone. She can get off 4 shots a turn before retreating, and speeds up the winter guard. She has a great warjack bond, a feat that is always useful and most importantly an often overlooked spell. Shatterstorm causes RFP. Only on the direct attacks sure, but this is very potent in today’s meta, with Goats and Ghouls running rampant.
Some specific tech you will want with Sorcha is a spriggan, to remove stealth from individual models in a unit to open it up to freezing grip and allow solos like Tartarus and warwitch sirens to be targeted and hopefully RFP’ed. He also makes a great bond target and is very dangerous to the Lich with the feat in the chamber. You need both Sylyss and Reinholdt (for Lucky Charm) if you plan on utilising freezing grip safely.
A special mention should be made of Butcher2’s tier list, the non-Conquest versions. A lot of spell-immune berserking models could turn the tide on the Lich, but I still think you are susceptible to bile thralls just walking into your lines, and that list doesn’t have the guns to stop the bile thralls from hanging out near the front lines. Greylord ternions and Gorman are also great for creating your own cloud bunker of protection for your caster to protect them from spectral legion.
Below I have a list that I think is a safe mixture between tools that are effective against Cryx and the Lich, and Khador lists that you see in tournaments all of the time. Few of the things included aren’t generically good, or haven’t been discussed above. Ragman allows the list to have some very serious damage potential with the feat and Aiyana. Harlan is there as just a useful solo, and a very dangerous infantry killing machine against stationary models. Not to mention being a bit scary for a Lich that isn’t in clouds or camping much with purgation. It’s all about forcing him to use his focus on self-defence. Note: A helpful reader reminded me that you can’t have boh Harlan and the Ragman, and when considering the Lich specifically I feel that Harlan is probably better. Another helpful reader reminded me that Sorcha2 has +6 warjack points, so Eiryss2 is a solid addition to make this a generic list, as well as giving a tool to remove crippling grasp in other Cryx matchups, etc. This isn’t a perfect hard counter, this is a list you can happily add to your Khador rotation without buying new units, or changing your usual play style to much. It’s not even my number one choice, as I like weird Khador lists. Khador have a huge advantage over many factions in that they don’t need to build really wacky lists to counter Cryx.
Sorcha2 +6 warjack points
-Spriggan, bonded, 10 points
-Sylyss Wyshnalyrr, 2 points
Iron fang pikemen, full unit, 8 points
-Iron fang unit attachment, 2 points
Cylena Raefyll and the nyss hunters, full unit, 10 points
-Kapitan Valachev 2 points
Winter guard rifle corps, full unit, 8 points
Aiyana & Holt, 4 points
Kovnik Joe, 2 points
Reinholdt, 1 point
Ragman, 2 points
Gorman, 2 points
Eiryss2, 2 points
Next week I’ll discuss Skorne. I was going to save them, but everyone and their mother (Colin and Rynth of MoM fame at least) is talking about Hexeris1 and I don’t want to seem to be too far behind the curve. I’ve been digging him for months! I swear I liked him before it was cool!
On that hip note, don’t be like me and-