Greetings, and welcome again to a Study in Purple. This installment will begin an exploration of a topic that I find particularly fascinating and plan on returning to regularly.
Mercenaries: Uses and Abuses in Cryx
Cryx is a diverse faction. We have as many in-faction choices as any faction in the game, being one of the original four. And a solid percentage of those choices are viable in all levels of play. But when you consider all the Mercenaries Cryx can field we are just plain spoiled for choice. Whether it be a solo for utility, a flanking unit, or the majority of a list, the Mercenary element can bring significant depth and versatility to a Cryx force.
In this article I want to take a look at some specific mercenaries in one list that has become one of my all time favorite “Cryx” lists. I’ll give you a hint… YARRRRRRR!
Warwitch Deneghra (*5pts)
* Defiler (5pts)
* Nightwretch (4pts)
* Skarlock Thrall (2pts)
Mechanithralls (Leader and 5 Grunts) (3pts)
Necrosurgeon & 3 Stitch Thralls (2pts)
Necrosurgeon & 3 Stitch Thralls (2pts)
Press Gangers (Leader and 9 Grunts) (6pts)
Sea Dog Crew (Leader and 9 Grunts) (8pts)
* Mr. Walls Sea Dog Crew Quartermaster (2pts)
* 3 Sea Dog Crew Riflemen (3pts)
Bosun Grogspar (2pts)
Doc Killingsworth (2pts)
First Mate Hawk (2pts)
Gorman di Wulfe, Rogue Alchemist (2pts)
Lord Rockbottom (2pts)
Master Gunner Dougal MacNaile (2pts)
Ogrun Bokur (3pts)
Pistol Wraith (3pts)
Let’s break it down shall we?
Scratching the Surface
It’s a Cryx list with 50 models in it. Yes, it is the standard fare of infantry swarm Cryx. But as is readily apparent, most of the models in the list are not Cryx models. The core of the list is the full boat of Sea Dogs complete with Pressgang and the supporting cast of solos. That’s a huge number of living models for Cryx, so the Necrosurgeons and McThralls are in.
Skarlock makes the cut because Ghost Walk is amazing. So is Crippling Grasp, and Parasite, and Venom, and you get the idea.
Two arcnodes; it’s Deneghra; they’re in.
Gorman and the Bokur are there primarily to help me keep the Privateer solos alive. Both models can also get some work done if need be. They’re in.
I had 3 points left and I put a Pistol Wraith in. I’m leaning towards downgrading my Defiler or upgrading the Nightwretch and changing him into one or two Sirens. But a Pistol Wraith is never bad so he’s in for the moment.
In keeping with what Denny wants, the list has a high volume of attacks, a relatively low point/model ratio, and all the necessary support pieces. Standard infantry spam keeps the pressure off of her focus pool so she can influence the table with all the super nuts spells at her disposal.
Getting into the nuts and bolts.
Why did I choose to build my list with Sea Dogs and Pressgang at the core rather than, say, Tartarus and the Baneswarm or the Satyxis units or Bloodgorgers, more Mechanithralls? I have 5 primary reasons: Go Green, Speed, Resilience, Firepower, Go Rogue. The Cryx units might individually possess some of these characteristics, but only the Pirates bring them all in spades. I will explain.
To help me explain what I mean by “Go Green” I’d like to tell you the story of one Bob T. Smith, the Stormnoun:
Bob’s day began much like any other. He had his stormy armor on. He carried his stormy weapon alongside all his stormy friends in defense of the great stormy homeland. But Bob’s day would not end anything like any other day.
Battle erupts all around Bob. It’s the Cryx, or is it? There are smelly guys with sacks and table legs everywhere. Stars erupt in front of Bob’s eyes as his stormy helmet rings like a gong. Someone is yelling “Shanghai!” The world goes black. The world starts to smell like the inside of a burlap sack.
Light returns to Bob’s world. The smell of burlap lingers. His stormy armor and weapon are gone. The magic of the burlap changed the stormy armor into striped pants and a pink blouse, and the stormy weapon into a shoddy sword and a waterlogged pistol. There’s a scary man with an eye patch and a monkey screaming at Bob and pointing behind him. Well, both the monkey and the scary man are screaming but the monkey doesn’t make any sense. Bob whirls around. There are two storm nouns bearing down on him, stormy weapons poised for murder. “Yarrrr!” Bob yells as he fires his pistol at one of the stormnouns, wondering all the while why he should be doing either of those things. Mid-introspection Bob notices something else. The other stormnoun has buried his stormy weapon into Bob’s neck. Light receeds, and Bob’s world goes dark again. (Bob failed his tough check)
Bob is surprised to note he can see again. His mechanical eye works quite well. His legs are mismatched and there’s a steam engine where his heart and lungs are supposed to be, but this doesn’t bother him too much. Bob the Mechanithrall is actually quite content.
Bob’s story is not an uncommon one. The entire list has a lot of recursion potential. Living enemies can be pressganged into the Sea Dog crew. Any of them can be collected by the Stitch Thralls and rebuilt as Mechanithralls. Living enemy, to living friendly, to undead friendly. Go Green.
The average speed of a model in the list is between 6 and 7. That isn’t exceptional for Cryx but it isn’t terrible either. The real speed factor comes from having 24 AD models. If I get to go first, I have commanding board position with all those smelly pirates as far as 25″ upfield. That’s some speed.
Having all the AD is important for a couple reasons. Controlling the board quickly is huge for a scenario caster as well as taking control of the attrition fight–the two things Deneghra cares about. The less obvious advantage is how easy it makes “unpacking” the army. Usually when you have 50 models on the table it is easy, likely even, that you will get in your own way. Having so many of the models out front makes deployment and first turn movement much more fluid.
This part is obvious. There are 28 4+-tough, immune-to-knockdown Pirates that turn into Mechanithralls when they die. This is a hard list to grind down. It comes at you in waves. Each wave has its own redundant resilience mechanics via tough or recursion. And the entire list is protected by The Withering, one of the very best lockdown feats in the game, and further backed up by Crippling Grasp.
If I lose Doc or Bosun some of that resilience goes away. So they need to be protected. Bosun in particular is a weak point. His medium base is more difficult to hide than Doc’s small. Gorman’s cloud and the Bokur’s shield guard dramatically reduce the likelihood of losing one of them. In previous versions of the list I have played 2 Bokurs and that’s something I consider returning to frequently; another possible substitute for the Pistol Wraith.
Here’s the part that surprises people the most. I have, in just the one unit, 15 guns that are potentially range 10, rat 8 or 10, and power 17 or 16 (19 or 18 for Walls). That isn’t including the four shots Dougal can produce, or the Bosun’s gun, either of the arcnodes, or the Pistol Wraith. That’s just the Sea Dogs. With the Withering and a Parasite, they can remove a heavy from the table from 16″ out; add in Crippling Grasp and they might get two. The three Riflemen add extreme threat range for removing key pieces and allow the unit to spread out a bit more, while still being able to focus a lot of firepower in one place.
Short and sweet; when an opponent asks “what are those models?” or “what do those guys do?” the advantage is yours. And mercenaries are not commonly played in most metas, including the national one. Playing the rogue piece gives you the leg up. Sometimes you’ll just walk away with games against an unbalanced opponent. Just don’t come to rely on it. Eventually the meta adapts, or you open your mouth and post all your secrets on the internet.
This list is built to the standard Cryxian convention: More models is better. But it includes something a little different… Lots of guns. This opens up a lot of options for a debuff caster of Deneghra’s caliber. The old drop’n pop is back on the table. I’ve had Dougal get that job done by himself.
There aren’t any real heavy hitters in the list because Deneghra doesn’t need them. Sea Dogs kill heavies just fine. If any heavies survive until the late game, the Mechanithrall wave hits.
Scenario power, attrition power, assassination power. That’s Deneghra with the Merc factor.
Until next time.