Hacking the Cortex: Stuck in the Meta with You, Part 2 – The Cryx Drop.


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Thanks to our most prolific of commentors, Josh Simpson, I have a focus for this weeks’ article – The fact that it’s often very easy to identify “The Cryx Drop” in someone’s list pairing, and the implications that has for List Chicken and List Building.

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Hacking the Cortex: Stuck in the meta with you

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The wider warmachine meta keeps on widening. As books release and factions get more and more tools, every non-minions faction is reaching a point where they can build a competitive list that utilizes any strategy you can think of. I’ve seen people “Cryxing” with Trolls and Menoth, and I’ve Cygnar’d with Cryx. Can list chicken be avoided in a world such as this? If it must happen, how do we mitigate it?

There’s skews to the left of me, weirdness to the right.
Here I am, stuck in the meta with you.

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Hacking the Cortex: Iron sharpens Iron.

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I’d like to claim that my protracted absence from writing here was an elaborate bit of performance art leading up to my article about slowing down Tempo.

But I was mostly just disorganized and lazy and distracted. Sorry about that.

Rather than try and pick on a thread of thinking that’s weeks old, I’m going to talk a bit about the new Iron Gauntlet format, and approaching the Gauntlet Rounds with Cryx. The new format is certainly fascinating from a theorymachine perspective, and it’s been occupying a lot of my Warmachine related thoughts.

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Hacking the Cortex: Imagination is more important than knowledge

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Tempo is really hard to write about.

Instead of sharing something half baked, I’m going to talk about something I’ve just started lecturing on – Creativity. As I was researching the lectures, my mind started its inevitable wander into “I wonder how this might apply to Warmachine.”

I’ve been doing a lot of testing of outside-the-Cryx box lists in recent months. My Terminus list is but one of many that have gone through the paces, and there are many more lined up now that Vengeance models are starting to exist. As has been noted often recently, basically everyone worth worrying about at a tournament has a plan for “standard Cryx”, and I’m not entirely convinced that “Cryx Harder” is enough any more. It can work, but that only means the anti Cryx meta has to anti-Cryx harder. And so, I’m looking elsewhere, and thinking a lot about Creativity itself and how I can harness my own.

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Hacking the Cortex: Tempo, Tempo.




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I’ve been thinking a lot this week about “my playstyle”. “Playstyle” is one of those elusive concepts in gaming that you hear a lot, but is often difficult to pin down. It was only this week that I actually figured out what mine was, even after years of playing to that style in CCGs, Wargames, and basically every other kind of game that would allow it.

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Vengeance Review: Cryx

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Vengeance is possibly my favourite expansion for WM/H Mk2.

The Cryx releases aren’t big, flashy, or obviously powerful. In that, it has much in common with every Mk2 book that isn’t Prime.

But unlike the previous expansions, Vengeance is sparking notions, inklings, and temptations.

As a complete book, Vengeance is one of a subtle broadening of options (and Butcher3, who has no place in any sentence including the word “subtle”. Except in parentheses), and I increasingly like how it was designed. And I think this is probably most true of the Cryx releases. I’ve been hearing increasing rumblings amongst Cryx players and the community at large about branching out away from Cryxing harder, and it’s certainly something I’ve enjoyed exploring. And Vengeance gives me more toys to continue on that path.

Goreshade, Lord of Ruin

And his model is sweet. So so sweet.

I’ll admit that I wasn’t initially wowed by Goreshade3 when accurate spoilers finally hit. I’m still not wowed. I am, however, upgrading my opinion to “whelmed, but interested”. I’m starting to see more clever little interactions you can leverage to turn a Mockery of Life recursion engine up to 11, getting the most out of cunning timing and placement. That’s appealing enough to me that I’ll play him some more before making my final judgement.

Also, you’ve got to respect that Feat/Siphon Bolt assassination run, and having a built in assassination on the table is always good.

Power Grade: C, with the + or – to be determined. He’s not going to break into the top 5 of Cryx anytime soon, but he might be more tournament worthy than I gave him credit for initially.

Interest Grade: C+


There was once a time when I loved the Seether. I’ll admit it. But it was a different time, a time when all we played were 35pt games, no-one I played regularly played boostable guns, and we all still played our stompy robots and angry monsters. Back then, he seemed pretty cool.

But that time passed the first day he met Cygnar, and his arms went flying off like a crash test dummy. And that day was the last day I played a Slayer chassis that wasn’t a character. (And that one time I played a Reaper. But that was Highlander so I had to…)

But the new Seether chassis is exactly what I wanted out of a new Cryx Helljack On Two Legs.

He’s one point cheaper than the Seether.
He’s got reach.
He retains some focus efficiency.
And he has a Shield. A Shield. A Shield.

That +2 Arm makes a whole lot of difference to a helljack. He’s still not tanking anything, but removing his arms from range is no longer laughably trivial. Reach? We all know that reach is one of the marks of a heavy worth looking at, and it interacts well with things like Black Spot and Ravager. It also marks him as someone to look at for threat extending casters like Skarre2 and Mortenebra. His shield guard is also pretty useful for a lot of the casters who like the look of him already, though not, in my opinion, the reason to take him.

And all for the very competitive price of 8pts. This guy keeps creeping into the conversation whenever I’m building “not Cryxing Harder” lists. While he’s not amazing, he’s a fantastically well designed model for that alone. He epitomizes what I mean when I say I really like Vengeance for Cryx – he nudges his way into your thoughts, and encourages you to break the mould a little.

Power Grade: B (He’s still a Cryx heavy jack)
Interest Grade: A+ (But I’m going to play him. A lot.)

Bane Riders

In a similar vein, we have the Bane Riders. I’m going to go out on a limb for a moment, and say that these guys are the best Heavy Cavalry in Warmachine (Coming second to Long Riders overall, because those guys are The Best At Cavalrying).

For one, Cryx can deliver them pretty well with several casters. Occultation appears on three casters, Death Ward on two others. Lich2 has clouds. On top of that, Curse of Shadows is possibly one of the best Heavy Cavalry enabling spells in the game. It’s so, so satisfying. With the right caster, you can get them where they’re going.

The next problem Heavy Cavalry have is getting enough work done after they’re stuck in. But once again, Cryx have various ways to improve that situation. We have great control feats on the Deneghras. Curse of Shadows comes into play again here. They have continuous reach, so they can abuse Black Spot. Ghostly means they can get around free strikes with ease.

Admittedly, their damage output seems tame compared to Bane Thralls, but that’s what Cryxian debuffs are for. And the added threat range is huge in many matchups. Warpwolves do not like eating a charge from these guys, and they can make it happen way better than footslogging banes do.

And again, we come back to My Favourite Thing About Vengeance – most of the casters in the conversation are the ones who I was almost going to play, and are now in serious contention – Coven, Skarre2, Goreshade2, or ones I was playing but was looking for a new style with – Skarre1, Deneghra2.

Power Grade: B- (but they may form a vital part of really good complete lists)
Interest Grade: A+

Skarlock Commander

I’m afraid I must stop the positivity train of “this stuff is making me think about new lists all the time”.

It’s not that the Skarlock Commander is bad, it’s just that I can’t see myself ever going out of my way to include him. If I have a point left over and I’ve already put in 3 Brutes? Sure, why not. (Well… probably Machine Wraith, let’s be honest).

There’s only so much awesome you can put in a 1pt package. But I don’t hate having the option. The extra 1″ on excarnates is cool. And he can do pretty good work in combat for a 1pt guy, if it comes up later in the game. He has a magic weapon and a magic nuke after all.

Power Grade: C+
Interest Grade: D

Aiakos, Scourge of The Meridius


The new juniors are all excellent.


Because 3 caster independent focus is excellent. In Cryx, it is doubly excellent, because it’s one of the main reasons we completely avoid running heavies. Aiakos is triply excellent, because I love Leviathans with debuff casters, and now I have the means to do it to its full potential.

And then there’s his really solid spells – +2 Spd is nice for the jack, +2 Arm is nice for him. Being able to randomly apply Grievous Wounds where needed will situationally win games, so it’s a nice bonus.

Throw in some stealth and a solid defensive line of 14/17 with Stealth (while camping 1) and he’s one of the harder ones to get rid of.

Aiakos is yet more excellent because even independant of his focus giving out duties, he’s a beast of a combat solo for 3pts who can and will cause all sorts of misery for solos and unwary casters. He’s Cryx’s very own Totem Hunter, if you want him to be.

Aiakos is yet more excellent because he looks like the Predator and his name is badass.

Aaaand yeah, he’s pretty sweet with all those casters I keep name checking this week.

No, I couldn’t be happier about this guy if I tried.

Combined Grade: AAAAWWWW YEAH.

As I’m sure you can tell, I’m really happy about the Cryx releases in this book. The one thing I feel could have been better was Goreshade – ultimately, he doesn’t contribute to the sense of “oooh, new ways of doing things” that Vengeance has created in me, and I would have loved for him to be another caster I could break the Cryx Harder mould with. (I wanted him to have Iron Horse, Curse of Shadows, and Shadowpack. It was a beautiful dream, Harrowers and Inflictors as far as the eye could see… ) But still, that sense of new horizons for Cryx is strong in this book. I’ve been on a journey outside of the Cryx Harder box, and it has done me well. And Vengeance has only steeled me to keep walking.

Know Yourself, and Go In Swinging,


Smogon Masters: Winners Report

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Smogcon was incredible. For anyone in Europe who didn’t head along to it, it’s a wonderful experience, and you should go. Major kudos and thanks to the organizers and staff who made it happen. I’ve been going to games conventions for over a decade, but this was genuinely one of the best.
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Tales from the Testing Cycle: Locked and Loaded.

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Last week, I declared that I had settled on my lists for the Masters. And that’s exactly what I’m going to talk about this week. In a moment of steely resolve that has only wavered a little bit in the intervening week, I settled on Lich Lord Asphyxious, Warwitch Deneghra, and Lich Lord Terminus.

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Tales from the Testing Cycle: The Final Countdown

This weekend marks the beginning of a long run of highly competitive tournaments. After talking the talk, it’s time to walk the walk. We’ve got a 3 list Masters practice tournament this Sunday, a WTC Team Qualifier tournament the following week, Smogcon the week after that, and then it’s only one weekend off before the Masters itself.

Of course, this is exactly when the self doubt kicks in.

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