Friday, December 16, 2011

Serving the Dragonfather: The Beginning

I've been asked several times to write a guide about starting out with Cryx, so: welcome to the Nightmare Empire. This guide will assume that you have a rough understanding of the game, so you know what a Warjack is, and that your Warcaster is important, but you don't need to know more than that to begin. This is part one of three, and will feature links to the remaining articles when they're done.
  • Serving the Dragonfather: Playing the game (WIP)
  • Serving the Dragonfather: Expanding your collection (WIP)
The first rule we need to establish is, that The Battlecollege is often wrong. I'm maintaining an archive of useful articles on the Privateer Press forum, which can be found here, and if you need to read up on a model/unit you should really go see if the archive has an article on it first. With that out of the way, I'll tell you how I think you should join the Dragonfather.

I'll begin with the Battlegroup Box, as you've probably considered it already and we might as well get it out of the way. You'll have noticed the big red cross by now, making it obvious what I think of it, but since I'm more or less alone with that opinion I should probably explain why I dislike it.
  • Warcaster: Warwitch Deneghra
The person who designed the box should receive a solid smack on the head, because Warwitch Deneghra is a horrible choice for the Battlegroup Box. Not only is she a very powerful caster, but unless your opponent is a world class chess player, he'll stop enjoying the game shortly after Warwitch Deneghra hits the table.

Warwitch Deneghra will not teach you how to keep your caster safe, she will not teach you how to block tramples, she will not teach you to consider terrain, and the list continues ad infinitum. There's no doubting you can win with her, but the second you switch to another caster you're in trouble. I'll get back to suggesting alternatives later, but for now I'll just rip the Battlegroup Box apart.
  • Helljack: Slayer
Another smack for the designer, since this Helljack is shelved the second your collection expands. It's not a bad Helljack, and it does see play in certain theme lists, but in general play the Slayer is a poor choice with most of our casters. I see a lot of players swooning over the Slayer, but these are rarely experienced Cryx players.

The thing is, that the Slayer would be downright broken in a lot of other factions, and many players have a hard time understanding that it just isn't very good in ours. There are a few actual Cryx players that swear by it, and some even do well with it, but it's an inferior choice in most lists, and unless you have the skills to convert it into something else, it will gather a lot of dust (a more detailed answer can be found in the comments if needed).
  • Bonejack: Defiler
It's a piece of junk, and without a doubt our worst available Arc Node. There are a few lists that will be able to take advantage of it, but it's another model you'll most likely leave on the shelf after the first month or so. I don't mind people using the Defiler, and I've even seen some funny things being done with it, but I've seen more stunts performed with Deathrippers & Nightwretches, and they're a point cheaper to boot (a more detailed answer can be found in the comments if needed).
  • Bonejack: Deathrippers
The Deathrippers are great, and they're a solid choice in about eighty percent of the lists you'll ever make. I'll explain more about it later, but for now you'll notice something obvious: The Battlegroup Box is quite expensive if you end up using nothing but the two Deathrippers.

That's why I don't like the Battlegroup Box, because most of the models end up spending a lot of time being shelved, and you end up playing the game with a lot of models that won't teach you the things your really need to know. With that in mind, I've designed a Battlegroup Box I feel will deliver the lessons a new player needs, and do it with models you'll be using a lot later.

Lamorons Battlegroup Box

There's no doubt that my setup is a more expensive, so if you're not sure you actually want to play the game, you should find the Handcannon Online beginners guide to the Battlegroup Box here. If you're either sure you'll stick with the game, or an experienced player looking into a second faction, then I heartily recommend these purchases instead.
  • Iron Lich Asphyxious: $10
  • Deathripper Plastic Warjack Kit: $20
  • Plastic Helljack Kit: $35 
As you can see the price is more than the actual Battlegroup Box, but I think it's worth it. This assumes that you know your way around magnets, because fully magnetizing the kit is vital to your wallet (I can't really stress that enough). This box should be cleared with you're group before you buy anything, but since it's theoretically a weaker list it shouldn't be much of a problem.
I want it cheaper!
There are plenty of web stores, local shops with discounts, or even used armies out there just waiting for you to throw gold at them, so don't rush into things. If you're joining an established group of players, they might have surplus models they no longer need, or know players that have quit the hobby when the edition changed to MK2.

I currently own around 300 points of Cryx, and I've sold around 150 points more to new players at joke prices because I bought three complete second hand armies, and I was swimming in surplus models. It never hurts to ask, and you might even find some people that are willing to lend you the models you need, so you can try a couple of games before you decide what you like.

Assuming you're new, and have no easy access to other sources of models, you should know that the prices vary wildly online, and with a bit of effort you can often get the models you need quite cheaply. It all depends on your location of course, but it never hurts to look around, and you might get lucky.
Putting it all together
If you're joining an established group you should have no problem getting someone to introduce the concept of magnetizing your models, and the Helljack Kit should be magnetized, as it will save you a lot of headaches and money later.

If you're on your own, there are guides on the web, and you can go here to see what I'm talking about if you're completely new to wargaming in general. In case you're buying used models and need specific models, I recommend a Reaper, since it will see play with many casters and fit in a 15 point list with one of your Arc Nodes..
Next time!
Next time we'll talk about playing the game, and why I've chosen the models in the group as good models to learn with. I'll introduce the other factions and talk a little about their Battlegroup Boxes, but I'll end this article with one final piece of advice: There's more than one way of doing it.

It's a fact of life, that almost anything can be done in several different ways, and finding your own way through the game is the most important thing you can do. That means reading my guide, and other guides, but drawing your own conclusion about the game when you're actually at the table. It's harder than you would think, since we're often intimidated by veteran gamers and forced into a specific way of thinking, but we're all just people with opinions.



  1. An arc node with a spray, that causes corrosion, that has decent POW, on a SPD 7 chassis. I don't know why you say the Defiler is crap, because a lot of Cryx lists use it. I hardly ever take the other bonejacks specifically because sprays are THAT GOOD.

  2. An Arc Node usually has one round of Actions, since it's targeted and destroyed the second an opponent has the option (and he most certainly does if you come within 8" to spray). This means that most games will require you to choose between arcing or spraying, and the Defiler is RAT 5.

    RAT 5 means that it won't ever reliably hit anything it can really hurt without boosting, so in order to actually use it's spray you'll have to pump it full of Focus or apply debuffs to the target unit, and all this in a faction that removes infantry at will?

    This all boils down to a model that needs a mountain of resources to pull a single spray once per game, and that's assuming you don't need to run it up that round.

    All that would be fine, if it was four points like the Deathripper and Nightwretch, but it's not, and that makes it junk. I've never seen a list and thought "It really needs two Defilers instead of that Gorman/Siren/Madelyn/Dougal/etc", and I doubt I ever will.

    I don't mind people using the Defiler, and I've even seen some funny things being done with it, but I've seen more stunts performed with Deathrippers & Nightwretches, and they're a point cheaper to boot.

    The only caster I would ever consider running them with is eSkarre, because Black Spot is exactly what the Defiler needs, and with her it has some serious unit wiping potential :)

  3. Interesting article. As one of the people who asked for a beginners article I like it. Now Im going to have to pony up for the plastic jack kit. And learn how to magnetize stuff . . .

  4. That's a decision you won't regret! I own Nightmare, Malice, three Slayers, two Reapers, two Harrowers, and two Leviathans.

    That's eleven jacks, and it could have been done with 4 and a pile of magnets :D

  5. Great write up! I picked up a small Cryx army based on your previous advice and am wondering what your advice for the next addition to this army would be, rounding it out to a solid 25 pts. Would you keep the canker and reaper? Thanks again man, love your blog.

  6. I'm not sure, but in keeping with the idea of learning the rules, without buying anything that will become dust collectors, I'm thinking thinking a pile of solo characters.

    They won't benefit much from pAsphyxious, but they will introduce a bunch of rules and be useful for a long time.

    The Withershadow Combine
    Pistol Wraith
    Warwitch Siren

    That should introduce magical abilities, sprays, stealth, forfeiting actions, Incorporeal, unit activation, and give the list a ranged punch while we're at it.

    It's a bit harsh in terms of remembering rules though, and it lacks the ability to really slug it out with an opponent, so I might reconsider when I have the time to really think it through.

  7. And that would be 24 points by the way, so adding a Machine Wraith might be fun.

  8. I just reread the article and I don't think you say why the Slayer is bad, you only say that it is inferior to other Helljacks. Can you give an example or two?

  9. Indeed I can. The Slayer has several problems, but to be fair it shares a lot of them with the other Slayer chassis Helljacks.

    The main problem is speed. It's a speed six heavy, which has other factions drooling, but for us it's just not enough. It's not enough because the Slayer chassis can be destroyed by anything in the game.

    A single infantry model with PS 12, will take an arm of the Slayer with a charge, and even a random Rifleman with some hot dice will cripple your heavy, which is a huge problem.

    The Reaper has increased threat ranged, and massively increased threat range with the Harpoon, which also applied to Malice. The Seether suffers the same problem as the Slayer, but Erebus has increased defense and armor to keep it safe(ish).

    The Spider Helljacks have increased armor and more boxes, allowing them to survive the random attacks that cripple the Slayer, and most of our character jacks are either faster or have increased defenses as well.

    The Slayer sees regular play with two casters, which are The Coven and Mortenebra, because both of those casters have a way to increase it's speed, which allows it to hit first, and makes it a fine Helljack.

    That's really the only thing keeping it back, and every caster with the ability to add +2 inches of speed to the Slayer, has access to a really nasty hitter.

  10. Nice article,
    Could you explain why the deathripper should be considered a decent bonejack?
    Because it will also be destroyed as soon as it gets close enough to arc node, it isn't good in melee, it isn't stong in melee, and breaks as soon as someone gives it a stern look.

    It may be cheap, but the nightwretch is just as cheap, with a more powerful weapon, and the recent bonesaw-jack does everything a d.ripper can, only better, for a single point more.

    I mostly agree about the defiler, though it can be fun in a witching hour list (if it's the free bonejack) though this is partly because it's decent a fire magnet.

  11. There's a spotlight on the Deathripper that will explain everything :)

  12. Hey, I've been reading all your Cryx related stuff as I have been thinking of starting a Cryx army, and I was wondering if the second part of this will be coming out soon... or is it already out and I'm just very blind? :P

  13. Jesus, the site deleted four replies to your comment so this will be short.

    It's not out yet, I don't know if it ever will be because I can't write something that is both simple enough to work yet complicated enough to be worth writing. I'm teaching my wife to play next week so maybe that will help, but so far the second part is not on the horizon (though I have several half finished versions)