Deneghra the Soul Weaver is an interesting conundrum for Cryx players. I know a lot of people were disappointed when she was released. I was not one of them… I was excited. I looked at her and saw a lot of potential. And now that the WTC is over, I have had an opportunity to test my ideas in full, and I am now prepared to try writing an article on her.
The Initial List
When I first threw down with her, I had tried very hard to build a list that I thought would be effective. She is a Cryx caster that doesn’t do anything to protect her army, so anything in the army would need to be fast, self sufficient and hopefully, durable. She also has a BIG timing issue, and it all comes down to Soul Weaver. The problem with Soul Weaver is that she wants to generally activate after the rest of the army has gone, collect all the souls they have generated, and then allow that to turn into focus the following turn. Of course, you could leave those souls out on the table, but if you leave a Soul Trapper/ Soulhunter with three souls out there, I can guarantee you that they will be the priority target for your opponent in the following turn. That is why Denny really wants to go last, to suck those all up. But, because Mortality, Ghost Walk and her jack fuelling abilities need to go early in the turn, she wants to activate before the majority of army. It kind of an issue to resolve, and one which I will talk through in various stages in this article.
But first, the initial list.
Denny3, Scarlock, Deathjack, Soulhunters (max), Blood Witches (min) + Hag, Satyxis Raiders (max) + Witch, Mechanithralls + Scarlock, 2 Surgeons, Darryl, Soul Trappers, Ragman.
The list was focused around two things: Allowing Grave Winded Deathjack the ability to get upfield and throw down a key Mortality, which in turn allowed the Soulhunters to activate before Deneghra. This solved the soul timing issues. It also focused on redundancy. The Blood Witches are always a good choice, even if you have Mortality out, it allowed you to focus on specific targets. They are also a very self sufficient unit, that hits hard and has a delivery method in their minifeat. Occasionally clouds can be awesome as well.
After a few successful outings, I realised a few things. The first, the timing issue is kind of relevant, but also at the same time it is not. Sure, Soul Trappers themselves are very easily killed. But depending on your placement of the Trappers in the early turn, and the availability of souls on your other soul collecting models/units (such as the WSC), they do not need to be your only resource for capturing souls. Having the ability to run a Trapper back into safety after loading up is all about placement. So the requirement to pump out that early Mortality then pull in the souls became less important to the overall gameplan. This freed up the list from requiring Deathjack. You still do have the ability to create the “Denny goes last” order of activation Mortality casting by using the Scarlock, although its a lot less reliable.
In thinking a lot more about the list, Obviously you also have the age old issue of Darryl being wanted in basically every single Cryx list ever written. As a result of this, and the ever present two list concern, I decided to drop the Soulhunters and Darryl, as I wasn’t sure this was the absolute BEST place for him to be. He is never going to be a bad choice, of course, and I do think that Soulhunters are a very good fit for Denny, but it was time to try out a few different units.
The crux of what makes Denny3 a great caster is pretty simple, and it boils down to three things. Mortality, her personal speed and survivability, and warjack fuelling. I’ll leave the other two for a little bit and focus on Mortality. It is a phenomenal spell. In fact, in a lot of ways it is better than Crippling Grasp. You cannot Purify it off, or have it shot off by Eiryss. It denies Tough (obviously massive), healing (which although available in Cryx via the Hag, is unable to be killed to allow you to heal a beast and then utilise it), Self Sac (yes, difficult to get on Errants, but the Stone is a very good target also) and even something as simple as a Warcaster/ Warlock being set on fire, Mortality denies them the ability to heal that damage prior to the next turn. Its downside vs Crip Grasp is obviously the lack of a SPD debuff means you can use the unit you’ve targeted offensively. Honestly though, how many canny players leave Crippling Grasp out there with no outs? I’ve not been able to fire and forget it often enough, which makes me think that Mortality is just straight better. It lasts for a round, so free strikes, Counter Charge, etc, all get the bonus. Pretty handy. Mortality also has the advantage of not discriminating vs Friendly and Friendly Faction, meaning Denny3 is a very solid mercenary warcaster. She does exactly what Gaspy3 does in two of his spells, Scything Touch and Carnage, for the cost of 1 soul… That is incredible efficiency, and is up there as most effective debuffer in the faction.
Enter the second list:
Denny3, Leviathan, Leviathan, Scarlock, Devils Shadow, Nyss Hunters (max), Dougal, Rocky, WSC, Soul Trappers, Ragman, Mechanithrall + Scarlock, two Surgeons.
This list was designed to be a similar proposition to my Denny1 list. It has a lot of firepower coming in from a long way off, and has the backup of the McThrall late game delivery package. It was also very successful in testing, which was going to become a recurring theme in the testing stages. The Nyss suddenly shooting RAT8 Hand Cannons is pretty legit, and they have the added advantage of being quite high Defense. They can also in a pinch activate before Mortality to create some early souls for Denny by aiming and using CRA judiciously.
This list relied on Denny herself delivering the Mortality, fuelling the Leviathans and activating fairly aggressively, using Ride By attacks to get Mortality out, pick up a few souls, target key positions yet remain relatively safe. She was able to often facetank the entire enemy army, because of Grave Wind.
FACETANK AND RUN
I realised it in my very first game vs a double Victor Harkevich list, but it wasn’t until I played a few more games that I realised quite how hard Denny is to kill. Having a caster that is straight IMMUNE to KD is immensely powerful, but when you add Grave Wind to take her to DEF17, thats where it becomes frustrating. Poltergeist is a big, big deal. Yes, it can be preventable, if your opponent knows their angles correctly, and sets up a model behind their charge angle. That can be tough, when sometimes your end game is to deliver a big heavy to the enemy caster. MAT8? Needs 9s. They cannot afford not to boost, which means there is a 25% chance of them missing an attack, which means they could be Poltergeisted away from making any more attacks at all. Two Victor Colossals stood basically right in front of my caster, who had camped to ARM30, and they had absolutely no way of killing Denny, outside of rolling 11s, and then rolling dice off 8 for damage. It’s only anecdotal, and probably an ideal situation, but you would be surprised how often a single heavy/ multiple attack model goes in and misses their first swing.
There is a caveat, of course, and that is Eiryss/ Purification. It’s not a game ending problem however. Eiryss is an issue, but honestly she is an issue for the entire faction. You just make do, struggling along until an opportunity arises to kill her, either through throwing waves of McThralls at her, or getting a boosted Warjack into her. Its tough, because it changes up Denny’s game style from being very forward and aggressive, abusing Ride By, to staying back a lot safer, and debuffing the front layers only.
However, even with the issues of Eiryss and Purification, it is amazing how much board space Deneghra can threaten in a game, by virtue of the fact that she is SPD9. She can cover a ridiculous amount of space, thanks to Flight. It is actually not something you realise until you put her on a board and start moving her around. The Huge base works in her favour in many ways, allowing you to maneuver into the right positions with Ride By, to pull souls, fuel jacks and then cast spells, as well as kill a few key models with her melee weapon, or spray. I have on occasion run her first turn, after the Scarlock cast Grave Wind on her. I engaged four Widowmakers and a Drakhun out on a flank in one game on the bottom of 1. She was completely safe from retaliation, and with Ride By Attack, in the following turn she can move 0″, attack three or four Widowmakers, hit a Mortality on a unit, Ghost Walk herself and then walk backwards 9″. Or any combination of things like that. I cannot stress how much manueverability plays into her game, and how much she reminded me of Vlad3. If only she had Sprint… (RORSH BRINE ROAD HOG LEGIT!!)
The one extremely positive thing that I learnt from this current list design, was how easily I was able to fuel Warjacks. It was consistently easy, and I really mean easy, to get focus where I needed it. I began to think about what warjacks would benefit the most from the single turn ability to pump up lots of them.
I am going to make a controversial statement right now. Every single warjack in Cryx is good. They are all quality pieces that have value. The humble Reaper is my favourite Warjack, with amazing melee capabilities, good threat range and decent threat proposition, forcing the enemy to react to it. For 7pts! Even the Seether, a jack widely considered poor, in its niche it is a very good piece. It’s niche is admittedly quite narrow. Looking down the roster of warjacks in Cryx, their biggest problem (and why they are so maligned) is their lack of survivability. They do not make it upfield unscathed. Denny has one thing that can assist, which is Grave Wind, but that is only for one target. She kind of wants multiple warjacks to make the most use of Soul Mastery, but at the same time overplaying your hand and taking too many seems risky. There was a few options that immediately stood out to me in the list, and keep in mind when looking over these that they will get FULL FOCUS on MULTIPLE TURNS.
Helldiver – The humble Helldiver has been making a bit of a comeback recently. They are usually seen in pairs in Skarre1 lists, and the occasional single guy to chase Warcasters around in Gaspy2 lists. They are the only warjack in the faction that will absolutely, unequivocally get to the fight on your terms. They are also ridiculously cheap, with an amazing DEF/ARM and number of boxes. The moment I began to think about Helldivers with Denny3, the more excited I got. You can hold on and hold on until they finally get to deliver the payload, and then feat and load them all up. I now honestly think a minimum of three Helldivers is essential for a Denny3 list. You also get to make the Jaws noise each turn as they get closer and closer to the enemy caster. Fun.
Scavenger – The Scavenger is a little warjack I’ve never really taken the time to put on the table. POW11 seems too low, even with Finisher, and triggering Sprint is always the biggest concern, with Tough being very prevalent. Putting all of these factors into a Denny3 situation, and suddenly I realised the Scavenger looks pretty damn good. POW13 vs a Mortality target, with no Tough to deny Sprint, Ghost Walk to let you Sprint deep in the backfield, and put Grave Wind on him, and DEF18 is actually a really big deal to try and solve.
Cankerworm, Stalker, Nightmare – Keeping in mind the biggest concern with Denny is delivering her army, and Stealth makes that a lot easier. Cankerworm I like a lot, in every list I’ve ever played him. Giving him a Mortality target means he is hitting them with a MAT9 POW13 AP attack, and if you managed to sneak a Dark Shroud in there… its POW15. That is tasty. The Stalker is a great end game piece, DEF18 means you can risk running it into the middle of the enemy army, and threaten the enemy caster. Nightmare is always a quality piece, and even more so with Stealth, and taking him to MAT12 POW20 vs his Prey.
Leviathan – Mortality, Scourge, 3 Focus. A Leviathan can hit a heavy with two boosted POW17s. That is a decent chunk of a heavy taken off the table. If its against a Warbeast, they cannot heal any damage to their spirals, if you’ve taken out Spirit they are removed from the game for that turn. Its a powerful way of chipping some early damage, and then coming in with some POW19s after that. Decently durable, but a little on the slow side.
Erebus – This is a choice that a few people have discussed and I like the idea a lot. Its a shame he doesn’t get to pull the souls for Denny like he would with Scaverous. DEF16 on a heavy is some serious shit, and Overtaking a Mortality unit is nice too. He is a relatively cheap heavy, with two Open Fists to allow you some board control.
Malice – A unit that I think is really nice with Denny is the Combine, and one of the best 1-2 combinations I have used in a game is the Combine and Malice. Against a faction that runs heavy warjacks (of which there are a few), being able to drag that model towards the Combine, do some damage and then make it walk backwards to then be turned into a Seether… pretty amazing stuff. Malice also comes with a handy soul for Denny without any work required, and it can often be the difference, grabbing one soul before Denny charges a unit, Mortality cast first, then pick up two or three more souls with impact attacks/ melee swings. A nice choice, if a little expensive.
Deathjack – I’ve already discussed Deathjack a little earlier, and there is no doubt that he is a very good fit for Denny3. However there are a few small disadvantages. He gains limited benefit from the Soul Mastery ability, only being allocated 1 focus due to the wording of the rule itself. Grave Wind is certainly a big deal, anything that makes DJ harder to kill is absolute money, but with a 9.5″ threat range and no way to increase that, there are probably better ways to spend the points.
The Third List
After having all of this time to consider my list, and playing a few more games, I began to work on a list theory that tried to put all these things in to practice. I was utilising the lack of a Friendly Faction spell, the soul spam and how many cool things Mortality could do, of how cool it was to have heaps of warjacks that could be fuelled.
Denny3, Scarlock Thrall, Helldiver x4, Scavenger, min Sea Dog Boarding Crew + Mr Walls + 3 Riflemen, Mutineers, Doc, Grogspar, Dougal, Rocky, WSC, McThralls + Scarlock, 2 Surgeons, Soul Trappers.
Admittedly this list was also so I could use my sweet Pirates that I recently painted. 🙂 But I really began to feel like the list was almost unimportant, because it was again, very successful in testing. The Pirate boat with Mortality was devastating from ranged, and although there is some slight Skornegy with the Mutineers and their RFP, sometimes it is crucial to have a piece that can spot remove effectively. They are also mad fun and a quality end game piece. The pirates fuel the McThralls, as per usual, and overall this list was a lot of fun to pilot around the table. I made the most of the terrain to get my Soul Trappers into positions where they could collect souls, then retreat and keep them safe for Denny when she needed them.
Which brings to me where I am now!
I’ve been able to run a varied selection of lists for the Soul Weaver, and each of them has felt… very good. In fact, I am beginning to feel like it is going to be the case with any list I design. This is a very good thing, obviously, reminiscent of Denny1. Sure, she doesn’t have the timewalk feat that Denny1 does. In return what she gets is immense survivability, and take it from me, the only time I have lost in games with Denny1 is when she has died to a last ditch attempt at an assassination. I have used Denny herself quite aggressively, some games having her in the middle of the board and daring people to attack her. I have used her in the back of the table, sneaking out a few Mortalities from 10″ after Ride By, then pulling back to virtual safety. I have feated top of one and charged forward, then the following turn ran to engage the enemy caster, camping 14 Focus and with Grave Wind. She is so damn flexible, and so varied in what she can do, that my brain is in overdrive trying to nail down a list.
Two List and Three List Pairing
I am trying to reach a point where I have designed a list that fits in well in a two list pairing, and helps to cover off on some holes that Cryx can struggle with in a tournament setting. Obviously its not easy to design a list for this environment without knowing who you will be using as your second list. I have committed to playing Denny3, Gore3 and Gaspy3 at the Super Series Finals held in just under two months. I think that out of those options, I am going to play Denny3/Gaspy3 in a two list setting. Gaspy3 is an excellent Hordes drop, which falls into what Denny wants to do a little bit as well. I think its possible to build Gaspy3 to be a Bradigus answer, a common issue for Cryx. But I think he has a varied and interesting game plan, which allows him to be built for a number of different situations. I dont want to pigeonhole him, I like have a very adaptable list, which I plan to build for Denny as well, but I want to skew Gaspy slightly more towards Warmachine factions. That of course leaves Denny with a focus on Hordes factions. At the moment the list I am considering includes the following elements, and why I want to try them with her!
Wrong Eye and Snapjaw – I like these guys, and have always liked these guys with a Denny. Scourge/ Mortality creates the ideal environment for them, and with Snapjaw hitting at a potential POW21 with Ragman, they certainly dont lack for raw damage output. They fit into the anti Hordes bent as well, with Voodoo Doll and Scourge having some neat interactions, and Submerge meaning they also get delivered without any issue. They, combined with the Helldivers, will definitely kick some teeth in.
Nyss Hunters – I didn’t really get full value out of the Nyss in my early games, but recently with my Denny1 experiences I am beginning to see some really good return from the Nyss. They can just keep sandpapering away, using their high DEF and terrain to get into good positions where they can put quality shooting out. Mortality will obviously assist this, and they can also hit pretty hard when they need to. Finally, as living models they fuel the McThralls.
Scavenger – Having a little piece that can get in the backfield and be annoying is pretty handy vs most Hordes factions. You’ve got Beast Handlers, the Stone, Shepherds and the Wilder/ Una who are high value targets that are super handy to remove. Having a DEF18 guy who can run 14″ and then charge/ Sprint further is actually pretty useful. Plus I just painted the guy and I want to play him.
So, the list that I am going to try in my next few games!
Denny3, Scarlock Thrall, Helldiver x3, Scavenger, Wrong Eye and Snapjaw, Soul Trappers, Ragman, Dougal MacNaile, WSC, Nyss Hunters (max), Mechanithralls (max) plus Scarlock Commander, 2 Surgeons.
How does this list concept stand up vs the problem matchups of Hordes?
Hordes Problem Matchups
Trolls: EE, Runes, Grissel1, Grim2
There are multiple lists in Trolls that are difficult for Cryx to face. EE sits at the top of the list, which is a pretty big issue for Cryx. I think Denny3 has the ability to play into this list for a couple of reasons – Mortality lets you isolate the Stone and remove it from the table (if you have a ranged element, and the ability to get the spell on the Stone). You can use Scourge to remove the need to hit, bypassing Star Crossed. There is no Purification in EE, so Grave Wind is a very effective way of Denny avoiding being hit by their RAT4/5 shots outside of feat turn. The right list should be able to outplay Cally, which is a big bonus. Runes is a problem on the other hand, which is funny for Cryx. Purify off Grave Wind, limited Reach making the walls problematic. However, it is still fundamentally a list of heavy targets, into a faction that excels at removing them. Grissel1 is usually a problem for Cryx, her feat is frustrating and the multiple attacks lets the army do a lot of infantry clearing. Overall the Grim2 is a big ranged assassination caster, but fortunately Denny cannot be Knocked Down. Grim will still put some shots on her, but with a full camp she should be able to survive, meaning you need your army to be able to get there. A Mortality off!
Legion: Vayl2, Lyl2, Saeryn
Immediately having Wrong Eye, and three Helldivers means you are not in terrible shape vs Lylyth2. You can usually leverage those models into an assassination of some description. This is a game where you will probably feat turn 1, and in your turn two rush to engage Lylyth with your incredible SPD and ARM30. From there you can engineer an assassination, with the Helldivers, Denny herself, or Wrong Eye. It feels really strong vs Lylyth in a Killbox mission, but less so in a non Killbox, hopefully Denny can bully the scenario if that is the case. Vayl is a bigger problem, with Purification turning off your key defensive tech, and Stealth/ Admonition causing difficulties for Denny without being able to KD an Angel. Wrong Eye again prints money here, getting to be a counter puncher. I can see the Helldivers taking out targets like the Pot, Shepherds or even just digging deep for Vayl herself. Its a big bonus that you will not be able to kill Denny via Oblit assassination, needing boosted 9s is risky (prior to Purifying) and with a worst case scenario of dice -8 on damage rolls, you would have to think the risk is not worth the reward. Saeryn… problem. Helldivers? Solution. Keep chasing that bitch, then BAM. KD and eat her face off.
Circle: Bradigus, Krueger, Morvanha2
This is the biggest issue concern that I have for Denny. Bradigus/ Krueger in a pair. Without the right list design, Bradigus can easily punch through a Cryx army and get to the caster, and DEF17 wont save you if Bradigus is hitting at MAT13, and POW21 (well it might, if he misses an attack…). You need to be able to outattrition Bradigus, or have an assassination vector on him. That is quite hard to do for an army that relies on recursion which is not on the table vs Brad. I do have some positives. I can shoot some of the twig men. If things go south, I can always look for a ranged assassination. My biggest problem is when the Bradigus player decides to cast Flesh of Clay/ Mystic Wards, how easily I can actually make an assassination happen. This game may be a Gaspy3 drop, I will need to test it further. I do think Denny is excellent into Morvanha. Krueger is a very interesting game. Druids Krueger probably favours Krueger, but the Nyss do put a bit of pain out there, thanks to Dougal and his minifeat. Denny can be placed, so TK is still a problem, she can be only DEF15 vs a primalled Stalker, so straight 7s to hit, and Megalith could make it 5s. You dont really have a strong answer for Stones, except for Helldivers, and the timing is an issue. But, if things play out well on the scenario front, and you can hold on and not get killed before losing on Scenario, you can definitely play this game. This is one pairing where Wrong Eye is a liability unfortunately.
Well, one of my regular opponents plays Fists, so all of my lists have to stand up to the Fists test. And I am not talking the crappy Molik/ Gladiator build. The real Fists, all the Cataphracts and so much Fire. I have no idea how this list will go into Fists. I feel like Denny herself, being DEF17 with no way of being KD is actually pretty safe in the game, meaning I can use her personally to do a lot of work, walking forward and killing two or three guys a turn, then walking backwards. The Helldivers are ineffective in this game. The Nyss are not great, charging them will net a kill each, shooting will only kill five Cataphracts with Mortality in play. The Scavenger is going to burn to death, despite probably killing a few Cataphracts each turn. I dont know if the list has enough late game potential to win this game. It may be a game that I drop Gaspy3 into, and hope that I can use the stronger recursion and speedier elements to push through Fists.
So, that is it! My journey with Deneghra the Soul Weaver so far. I am so excited for the possibilities of what she can do, and I am sure my next list will look completely different, and have just as much success.