“And I port the stalker the second time, and he’s… yup, he’s got reach on the Lich.”
“Man, primaled stalker, Def 15, what Arm?”
“22, but Daragh is here and beyond death is up.”
“…So then effectively Arm 24?”
“What the sh-”
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I think Hordes have a harder time against Cryx than other factions. The tools are being added as time goes on, trollkin sorcerer I’m looking at you, but it’s still tough. It comes down the basic equation of: Cryx bring the most bodies, and are particularly good at killing high Arm models, Hordes’ armies typically bring a few higher arm bodies, with a concentration of quality attacks, but a relatively low quantity. That’s rough from the get go, then the Lich removes your tarpit and you have 3 heavies against a swarm of weapon masters.
It’s a hard sell, but the Hordes faction who does best is the one which usually doesn’t expect their beasts to survive anything reaching them anyway. So, yup, it’s Circle. Circle have a huge crap load of denial, but not a large amount of long range, defense ignoring guns. You can make up for less guns with hit and run, and some incredible infantry removal tricks. As always, you have to roll Lich back up before the horde gains too much, or even any, momentum. If his army does well, he often won’t even need to use his feat, he can just control the game with it.
Wold stalkers deserve an honourable mention for having magic guns, and being good at killing most non-satyxis raider Cryx units. You can get in under stealth on the bane thralls with 9” moves, and rat 6, pow 12 does the job just fine. Zephyr also keeps them from being engaged by running units. If you can, have a gallows grove lurking about behind the bane thralls target, you can often jump it into the unit and get a few non-tough kills. Be very aware that he can excarnate the tree and make a bile from that though!
All my shootings, be zephyr-bys!
So we need to start dismantling his tricks, but luckily tryxy Cryx use magic as much as the Circle do, and we happen to have great anti-magic options. First and formost are the druids. Druids can insulate you against excarnate and parasite, you may even stop Gaspy from teleporting if he got very close to pop his feat (that’d be living the dream though). They also drop a wall of LoS blocking clouds, which are supremely useful in the Lich2 matchup. A few magical, accuracy 7, pow 10 attacks never goes astray. Especially here force bolt as an attack can and should be used often, druids are expensive and do low amounts of work, you need to kill at least some models. A few good devourings can help, especially against blackbanes or satyxis.
As with Skorne, the gatorman witch doctor making your troops undead is a highly effective way reduce the number of horrors Cryx can inflict upon you. Which I find nice! Then the much maligned pureblood is actually not bad in this matchup. Wraithbane lets you kill those pesky Deneghra2’s, the spray is really effective if you can use it safely without dying once or twice, and you can make yourself spell warded and wander a little further from the druids. Stalkers, of course, can warp for berserk, and against the undead of Cryx you probably hit quite a lot, not to mention that sprinting can really keep the retaliation charges low. Though don’t ever shave the edge of bane knights! Vengeance and Tartarus make that a doomed proposition unless you’re killing the last of them. There are many nice infantry removal tools in the faction, though be wary of ones that specify living, like Lord of the Feast, or Morvahna2’s carnivore. Before I discuss warlocks, I have to give the garden gnome, the ignominious woldwatcher a shout out. It has a boostable pow 12 rfp gun which makes LoS blocking terrain. In normal games I adore light beast tarpits, and he’s Arm 21 without help, not to mention that shield guard can be awesome.
Once you go gnome, you will… probably still not use him much.
There is also a deep bench of warlock options. I will reiterate the disclaimer, that while Circle have options, and better choices than many Hordes factions, it’s still a really rough matchup. You have to be even more on your toes than usual against Lich! I’m throwing out many little options and ideas here, which can be combined in different ways to give you a game against Lich. I like to run Baldur1 with lots of tough, undead infantry. And it’s not a bad answer to Lich as long as you really dedicate yourself to dealing with bile thralls. The incorporeal units can be tough for the nyss and bloodtrackers to deal with, but Megalith is awesome here, and the feat slows blood witches after they mini feat. It’s an interesting option, though it has many problems, with your awesome LoS blocking tools. I don’t like the Kayas in this match. Baldur2 is laughable, because even with the wall, you’re trying to run an off-brand Arm brick against Cryx. Morvahna2 is boned in waves of counters in that matchup, and should be avoided at all costs.
Morvahna1 is interesting. You have to protect your bloodtrackers from rfp like excarnate, but being undead does that and keeps them safe from the witches’ knifes. Regrowth is the kind of attrition advantage that can help you get out of the slump. You just can’t let him bile too many tharn ladies in any given turn. The feat is interesting, as is spamming influence or eruption of life under harvest. Especially watch out for excarnated gallows groves in this matchup. Mohsar has some choices, purge doesn’t affect the pillars, but the biles can shoot and clear them. Daragh and the withershadow if they are present can remove the pillars too, so as always watch for pillar removing attacks. Crevasse now only rfps the first target, that said, some accuracy 8 pow 12 sprays can chew up a horde like Lich’s. As can miraging bloodtrackers, and slaughterhoursers which lots of people like with him. I hope it’s for curse of shadows, not sunhammer, but I fear for the worst!
The Kruegers can be interesting, Krueger1 just tries to kill enough models fast enough. If anyone can do it it’s him. And you’re chain lightnings are magical, so that’s hugely effective against the crappy stats of incorporeal spam, though a few bad rolls can kill you, good ones can roll him up before you even start chewing on banes. I’d highly recommend a geomancer for the possibility of dropping three chain lightnings on the jamming witches and blackbanes. Kreuger2 plays the denial game instead, hopefully killing a good bit, feating then killing a good bit more. You play him back and spam lightning storm, focusing on killing the bane knights more than ever. Casting lightning storm on your heavies protects them from non-reach troops. Doing that to Ghetorix right after killing the bane knights, and hopefully Tartarus, will almost guarantee he’ll retaliate with the feat, though your feat’s frustration can bring that even earlier against really impatient opponents. You can also afford to kill a few bane knights on the turn you feat, as their retaliation range even with vengeance is short, especially if you kill the forward most models. This takes a lot of the pressure off killing the whole unit in one go later on.
Wow! The word count is racking up! Again, Circle just have lot’s of playable options, but all of them are on the razor’s wire, you have to not make mistakes and give anything away you don’t want/expect to give away. So the usual Circle plan, just higher stakes. There are two more casters to discuss.
The first is Kromac, and while I could run through the ins and outs, the list I usually play with him is very close to Will Pagani’s, and that dude has a helpful legacy of advice and a record to lend credence to it. So I’ll rattle off some great reading/watching/listening material in that order. We’ll start with the thread where Will/skillt (Willt?) discusses and constructs his Kromac list: Kromac the Ravenous – An In-depth Guide. Then you should watch this video of the Lich2 matchup being played out. It’s incredibly enlightening. As an aside, MattieK at Endgame does amazing tournament coverage, from lists and results to awesome videos. Finally the third episode of Road to War, the awesome Texan podcast hosted on Muse on Minis, was all about Circle and is an interesting listen. Though it isn’t really concerned with Cryx matchup.
You won’t like me when I’m ravenous.
There is one warlock I haven’t mentioned, who I think is an awesome, and still pretty dark horse, choice against Lich. Cassius and the Wurmwood! Two hellmouths a turn will kill a huge amount of guys, and rfp them while doing it. Now, you do have to be very careful where you leave the tree, because if Lich ever feats on it, you’re done for. But barring skimming a few satyxis souls, you are gathering from your own models anyway. I like him with nyss and slaughterhousers, if you want to counter Lich/Cryx druids may well be worth it. I like him with Megalith a lot because curse lets you be a decent fighter, and makes those banes arm 13/14 which is pretty sucky against hellmouth, nyss, force bolts, etc. Lots of people, myself included, like slaughterhousers with him, and that’s even more rfp. Spicing with incredible danger for Tartarus, Gerlack, etc. is how I like cooking zombie soup! I think Cassius has the tools, and very few people know what to expect from him yet. He does require a lot of practice/skill, and isn’t for the faint of heart, but Lich players hate hellmouth! And I abhor their sense of joy!
I’d run the following:
Cassius and the Wurmwood, 6 warbeast points
-Megalith, 11 points
-Warpwolf Stalker, 10 points
Druids of Orboros, 7 points
-Druids unit attachment, 2 points
Cylena Raefyll and the Nyss Hunters, 10 points
Shifting Stones, 2 points
-Stone keeper unit attachment, 1 point
Shifting Stones, 2 points
Farrows Slaugherhousers, 6 points
Gallows Groves, x2, 1 point each
Farrow bonegrinders, max unit, 3 points
That’s right, no gorax. If you need to, you can have megalith apply his animus and curse of shadows for the same effect, but no frenzying! It’s not perfect, and this isn’t an optimal Cassius list, this is specifically designed to give problems to Lich2. Remember to use the bonegrinders’ arcane bolt! High magic is another witch/pirate/bane a turn, and you need every kill you can get.
Next time, we swap to a different brand of politically-motivated divinity-exploiting maniacs!
It’s all burn, baby, burn!