Nemesis: The Lich. 4 – Instruments of Dark Dominion


“I activate my titan gladiator and move him forward. Okay, that’s fine then I… Why are you smirking?”

“Oh nothing.”

“What is it now? You can’t purge me yet… yet.”

“Titans. Heh.”

“I hate you.”

Cryx tends to be good against Hordes. Trivially removing heavies is a hard counter that’s tough to deal with, and Hordes armies tend to have low numbers of attacks. Circle and Legion were and are better placed to deal with it, by virtue of various trickeries and movement shenanigans. The typical Trolls and Skorne plan of taking one on the chin really doesn’t work against Cryx, especially not with Arm-reliant heavies. Trolls have some tools in the Grims and Calandra, but I feel that Skorne’s lack of denial and the fact that our infantry clearing master, Hexeris2, prefers taking lots of beasts against living troops makes for a situation with no easy answer. Combine this with a lack of reliable shooting that efficiently kills banes and we have a tough challenge. It is probably the hardest faction matchup of all for Skorne, even harder than purification Menoth.

There are tools there though. Lots of people do like Hexeris2 in that matchup for example. I’ve been floating ideas for Rasheth, admittedly with middling success even in the dojo. Zaal is regularly touted as a good counter to Cryx (Especially Terminus, whom he spanks). I’ve decided to focus on two options that see little game instead. We’ll get on to ‘locks in a moment. First I want to discuss Skorne options that I think are great against Cryx. The cyclops shaman is a no brainer, with an upkeep removal animus. Moreover I find his gun combined with an extoller soulward makes him a solo hunter extraordinaire. I adore the shaman’s gun. In general, I like cyclopes in the Cryx matchup with any caster who can turn them on (make them kill above their weight class). They are far less points in one place than titans. Zaal does this very well, letting cyclopes kill other people’s heavies, and maintaining target variety.

Zaal and Kovaas


Venator slingers deserve an honourable mention. They get the bonus dice to damage undead troops, who are typified by low Def, and tend to be good against mechanithralls and biles that came too far forward. Nihilators can be very effective, maximising the numbers who survive purges and bane charges by killing a model or three in return. Void spirits, if you can justify them in general, are really sweet against Cryx. Satyxis hate making regular abomination checks, and the impassable clouds are great denial vs. Cryx. The lack of boosted damage often isn’t a big deal. Gatorman witch doctors let you excarnate proof your troops, though its buffs tend to have overlap with lots of Skorne troops inherent abilities.

My first Dark Horse is Mordikaar. With the Despoiler on the way, you can mint some free points. Those points are in void spirits which I do really like against Cryx. Banishing ward is very good against Cryx. Essence blast is sweet for removing blood witch hags, and pistol wraiths, etc. Hollow is great for protecting your troops from Cryx tricks and revive is even more free points in the bank. I have been playing Mordikaar with a mammoth, but against Cryx I think the mammoth is a poor choice. Mordikaar’s feat is especially good against Lich as he doesn’t have accuracy buffs and Cryx are not an especially accurate faction. Both of my Dark Horse lists will be taking units/models I don’t normally like against Cryx. In this case it’s Cetrati. Take them with Vorkesh and there are 7 models, which makes it hard to kill the whole unit. They are immune to crippling grasp, and parasite. And they are annoying as hell to revive, even if it is with one box.


L-L-L-Lanterns… Doesn’t have the same ring.
You can essence blast a mammoth just as easily as last stand it though!

Mordikaar, 5 warbeast points

-Despoiler, 10 points

-Titan gladiator, 8 points

-Aptimus Marketh, 3 points

Praetorian swordsmen, maximum unit, 6 points

-Praetorian swordsmen unit attachment, 2 points

Venator slingers, maximum unit, 6 points

Cataphract cetrati, maximum unit, 11 points

-Tyrant Vorkesh, 3 points

Paingiver beast handlers, minimum unit, 2 points

Gatorman witch doctor, 3 points

Swamp gobbers, 1 point

The swordsmen should be your early game hollow targets. If many die, drop hollow, revive a few, then have Marketh recast hollow on them. It’s all about the long game with this list against the Lich. Kill bile thralls often and early. Make the Despoiler an ass—- on the very edge of the fight, making a few void spirits here and there. Try and use him to taunt out the feat. Don’t hollow or use the witch doctor until after you have done your reviving or essence blasted the blood hag. Try and hang Vorkesh back to keep your cetrati spell warded for as long as possible. Again, it’s all about the slow grind. Your infantry should be two undead units and spell warded Cetrati, which is grind favourable. Revive slingers, so they and the back row of slingers that didn’t die can all aim and really shoot up some banes. It will be hard sell, but if you have the fortitude for really long games this list gives you some interesting options with a cool looking and underused warlock.

My other suggestion is Hexeris1. His feat is the game’s most obvious hard counter to Lich2 outside of Haley1 and polarity shield. Weapon master hordes like banes are great at killing each other, and rfping on that scale bones Lich2 pretty hard. The feat is most of what you are trying to leverage here, so your army can include more typical models, which is a strength of Hexeris1. In fact I’m going to suggest the mammoth. It lets your Hexeris list be amazing against all sorts of infantry, and gives you a serious trigger for the feat with the AoEs. As well as being really good at killing incorporeal blood witches with extoller help. The danger is wasting all of your time on the feat. So don’t get too greedy. Focus on bane knights over thralls and feat once you can get Tartarus or a whole army. You’ll often see the Lich player kill models enough for the feat, so that he can trivially remove your mammoth. Let him! Making that feat predictable and having your opponent 10 odd models down from the get go are just peachy. You’ll probably still get one round of AoEs from the mammoth, and just treat him as killing the feat models himself and you’re not that far down. Added bonus, you haven’t even feated yet! And your feat does work as well as being a counter to his.

Lord Tyrant Hexeris

…to shreds you say?

Hexeris1, 6 warbeast points

-Mammoth, 20 points

-Raider, 5 points

-Shaman, 5 points

-Reptile hound, 2 points

Nihilators, maximum unit, 8 points

Venator slingers, maximum unit, 6 points

Bog trog shamblers, 6 points

Paingiver beast handlers, minimum unit, 2 points

Paingiver taskmaster, 2 points

Death march is sweet here. Especially on the trogs. They get to move, make a load of Mat 7 attacks, then spawn new guys, then activate and kill even more stuff. They are also tough, no-knock down with vengeance. That’s monstrous attrition power. The supped up bokor can probably kill a heavy too, which is sweet extra attrition in a Gargossal list. Hexeris is such a Dark Horse that some people will drop Lich2 against a mammoth without thinking. The reptile hound is great little arc node, as well as slaughterhouse being great on your Mat 7 beat back caster. Lich player still has some bane thralls? Not anymore! He’s the only caster who might make attacks and not skornergise with the reptile hound.

Both of these lists require an even temperament, careful management of pace, and a lot of practice against other matchups to fit into your regular rotation. They do unusual stuff, and are growing increasingly useful against popular casters like Lich2 and Morvahna2. I hope that some people take them to the next level by playing them to death and honing their core concepts, and I’m eager to hear any play feedback on these or similar lists!

Next week I’ll tackle Cygnar in 40 words or less.

Stay classy!

4 thoughts on “Nemesis: The Lich. 4 – Instruments of Dark Dominion

  1. Hi Eoin,

    If you have Hexeris1 amongst your two choices, most Cryx players will actually drop their second list. Everyone knows that Hexeris1 is a hard counter to the Lich, the list that goes with him must at least be able to handle Hexeris1.
    The Mammoth isn’t the point here, since many Cryx builds deal with collossals/gargantuans just fine – Deneghra1 being an obvious choice, but also Deneghra2 and the Skarres do fine as well. Pistol Wraiths are really a b*tch.
    From that viewpoint, Mordikaar might be a better choice, since he’s not nearly as obvious.


    • I agree. But Hexeris isn’t only good against Lich, and that list has some game against all forms of Cryx armies.

      There is also the consideration that if your second list is good at dealing with the other problems posed by other Cryx casters, then you are both playing a game of russian roulette, which often happens at high levels of theory-crafting. You will probably get more work out of the Mammoth against many of those lists. For example, I would happily drop Hexeris against the typical Skarre swarm. And I don’t think Skarre2 runs the kind of Cryx lists which hard counter more usual Skorne builds.

      In terms of the deneghras, I like Hexeris against Deneghra2 here with your magic guns of range 14″. Deneghra just has to be survived, I don’t know that Hexeris is much better or worse at it than most, but at least the shaman helps, and gargossals tend to care less about crippling anyway while shooting away.


      Appreciate the need for discussion on a broader list choosing front. But forcing them to not take Lich is good for everyone!

  2. pMakeda with dual swords and side step works well with the Slaughterhouse animus as well.
    Defenders Ward help out against Banes trying to hit you and Savagery lets your beasts walk straight through a cloud and start hitting those hiding behind it.

    • pMakeda has some game. I agree. Savagery sprints are good against most Cryx models, and I like sentries with her so you can have Def 15 vs. charges on your bruiser elephant. But it’s a pretty serious uphill struggle.

      Most pMakeda armies don’t have the spare points for a reptile hound, and I’m not convinced its a good option. pMakeda paired with that Hexeris list though could be interesting, but leaves you with no real armor buster. vs. Cryx though, it’s lots of options.

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