Insider 10-4-2013

DC: Our final WARMACHINE High Command blog in this series takes us to the Nightmare Empire of Cryx. As the necromantic faction of WARMACHINE, Cryx takes a different approach to life and death conflicts than the other factions do. Their warriors and warjacks are the least sturdy of the WARMACHINE High Command factions, but their various necromantic game mechanics can make up the difference in a number of ways.

The most obvious is the namesake Necromancy card, which returns an undead card from the discard pile to a player’s hand, but the Necrotech Corps card and the Scrap Thrall Horde card are arguably the best examples of the Cryxian approach to life-and-death battles. With a Necrotech Corps at a location, deploying Scrap Thrall Hordes isn’t just cheap—it’s free! And those Scrap Thrall Hordes hit as hard as the mighty Khadoran Juggernaut, but they explode after making an attack.

Will: Maybe it’s because Halloween, my favorite of all U.S. holidays, is fast approaching, but in writing this blog I find myself completely enthralled with a whole host of dirty tricks that will leave my opponents pulling their hair out.

Combo Strike is perhaps the most straightforward of Cryx’s tricks and is a powerful tool in a deck boasting several cheap Mechanithrall Horde cards. While Mechanithrall Hordes can be useful in the early game thanks to their extremely low cost, in a deck built around Combo Strike they continue to be useful in the late game, giving Cryx decks the punch they need to compete with late game power hitters like Khador or Cygnar heavy warjacks. While sacrificing a card from your hand might seem like a steep price, overall the low cost of Cryx heavy hitters like Brute Thrall Hordes and Slayers really balances out the expense.

In addition to Combo Strike, Cryx commanders can utilize Blood Witch Hags to prevent opponents from using the traditional tactic of rushing a warcaster to prevent the capture of a location. With a solid 4 Health, the hags are no pushovers either, demanding a concerted effort to shift them.

Much like Freeze from Khador, Corrosion gives Cryx commanders a way to punish opponents who contest locations while giving themselves a significant card advantage to stay ahead in the arms race of High Command.

DC: The various ghostly elements of the Cryxian force are another great option for Cryx players in High Command. The Bane Thrall Cadre and Pistol Wraith cards feature heavily in my green-blue-red reinforcement deck. On their own, each of these cards is an amazing tool for contesting or conquering a location. Pistol Wraiths are immune to destruction during their first round at a location, and Bane Thralls Cadres are immune to destruction while other friendly cards are at their location. Put these two together, and you can conquer a location with cards your opponent can’t even touch!

Warcasters also count as friendly cards with respect to Bane Thrall Cadres, so a warcaster with some Bane Thralls brings a lot of hitting power with no risk of losing any cards to a location. Goreshade the Bastard is an obvious fit when there are so many Bane Thrall Cadres running around, and I’ve got Pirate Queen Skarre and Iron Lich Asphyxious to back this up. These aren’t the most subtle warcasters, but they all pack serious hitting power to clear a location of enemy cards.

In addition to heavily featuring the ghosts in this build, I also get some access to the Necrotechs and Scrap Thralls I mentioned earlier. My chances of drawing them together are reduced from what they would be in a deck that also included the yellow detachment, but with decent resources and a victory point on the Necrotech Corps, they’re still worth the purchase when they appear in your reserves.

Will: When I take command of the Nightmare Empire, I really like capitalizing on as many of Cryx’s infuriating abilities as possible. My favorite deck consists of blue-purple-green with Goreshade the Bastard, Lich Lord Terminus, and the Witch Coven of Garlghast. Not only does this assortment of detachments give me access to Dispel, Corrosion, Incorporeal, Stealth, and Combo Strike, but these warcasters also bring their own unique tricks to the table. From dropping an enemy card’s Power to 0 to free purchase/deployment to drawing an additional card, each of my warcasters gives me a very specific tool to use against my opponents.

Beyond these tricks, however, this deck has some serious speed, allowing it to get an early jump on locations. The key to making the deck hum is to use the first two turns of the game to purchase as many resource cards as you can. With three Will of Toruk, three Ritual Sacrifice, and two Necrofactorium cards, you should have little trouble nabbing one of them during your orders step in the first two rounds with a little cycling. With rush costs of 4 and 5 on your early game hitters, you don’t need to be as focused on getting troops into your army deck. Once you’ve established your resource base, its time to build up a bit for the mid-game with Brute Thrall Horde, Bane Thrall Cadre, and Slayers. Best of all, a single Will of Toruk is all it takes to deploy the Brute Thrall Horde or Slayer onto the field, allowing you to maintain constant pressure even during turns like Inclement Weather or against denial decks like Khador Freeze decks.

DC: Now that it’s time to start wrapping up my thoughts on Cryx, I’m struck by how much I enjoy playing Cryx in a variety of ways. I enjoy the thrall rush or leaping around with Stalkers or using Corrosion to punish players who are contesting locations rather than capturing them. There are all sorts of possibilities, and those possibilities are only going to expand when The Big Guns and other future expansions are released.

Will: While Cryx certainly doesn’t lead the pack in durability, it is filled with all manner of combinations and synergies for players to use to really ruin their opponents’ best-laid plans.

Till next time!

—DC and Will