Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A glance at Lich Lord Asphyxious

Also known as 'eGaspy', or 'That Freaking Thing Across the Table' or any number of epitephs. I've recently had the joy of playing against him, and I believe he's reasonably strong despite the fact that his Feat can no longer be used in conjunction with Soul Hunters.

There are two traits about eGaspy that come out to me: first, his ability to stay the hell out of danger, and second, his ability to play a mean game of attrition.

We'll start this look at eGaspy by analyzing his stats, spells, and Feat. Then, I'll launch into what thoughts I do have about his army list.

He's reasonably durable with DEF 15 and ARM 16 on top of 18 health boxes. He's only got one weapon, Daemortus. It's a fairly standard-issue caster weapon; P+S 15 with Reach and Magical weapon. Hey, gotta be able to smack those annoying Incorporeal models in the face with something, right? Speed 6 is also pretty decent for casters as well, and 7 focus is typical for Cryx.

Now, if you're coming to eGaspy from the non-epic form, you're going to miss Sustained Attack. You can't just boost the first stab and then buy damage rolls from there. You lost entropy on a stick for a Lich Lord on a stick: Daemortus' special action gives up your melee range & melee attack in order to place a 5" AOE completely within your 14" control area, and you can reap the souls in it (subject to normal restrictions like who's closer, etc.). Combine that with the standard-issue cull soul rule, and you can rack up some focus.

The Defensive Side
DEF 15 is nice, but it's nothing a good MAT/RAT plus a boost can KO. You've got three spells that make you much rougher to get to, though:

3 Focus, Upkeep, and you cannot be charged while it's up. Enemies count 5" within eGaspy as rough terrain. Translation? The enemy needs Pathfinder or Reach to have a chance of just walking up to you and punching you in the face. Or, y'know, they can just SHOOT you. Beware enemies that can do the previous or have ways of dropping Upkeep spells.

Caustic Mist
Or can they? 2 Focus puts a 3" AOE cloud effect into play fully in your control area. You can upkeep a spell and throw out three clouds, which SHOULD generally hide stuff you want to hide. If the enemy enters or ends its activation in the cloud, it eats a point of damage. Single-wound infantry are more or less sad freakin' pandas, but Jacks, Beasts, and heftier units CAN just walk through it and not care, but it cuts out the charge range.

If you can't fully surround a unit with multiple damage boxes, you can drop a cloud on it for a +2 DEF vs. ranged and immunity from non-reach single-wound infantry. It's an option to consider.

2 Focus, place yourself completely within 8" of your current location, and end your activation. It's a 'I'm gonna charge this turn' card, or a mobility card, or anything else your feverish mind can conjure up card. Just remember it ends your activation.

The Attrition Side
He's hard to kill, and there's a decent chance he can outlast you if you have plenty of living units. Failing that, his feat means he's actually fine with trading a unit for a unit if he can open up a hole to your caster and fire it off.

Spectral Legion
The feat is fairly simple: bring back up to 10 friendly destroyed not-large-base warriors. They're incorporeal solos that must charge in their activation, and go away at the end of the turn. You can use this to clean up a heap of beat-up stuff, or you can use it as an assassination tool.

If you're going for the kill, you're probably hoping to combine Bane Lord Tartarus' bane curse with a bunch of effective MAT 8 weaponmasters on the charge. The standby is Bane Knights for their Reach, though Bane Thralls may have some merit when it comes to army composition. Past that, since you're all solos, you want to be able to HIT the target without a combined melee attack.

The other part that makes you want to play attrition is that every time the enemy kills a warrior model, they're just loading up your feat. It's a wonderful psychological weapon.

So, you lost that POW 14 hellfire. Ok, it went down to POW 13, and if it takes down a living enemy model, you get an undead model for a nearby unit. This helps to dictate your troop selection.

Caustic Mist
Are you a gunline? If you don't have Eyeless Sight, your melee troops ARE probably gonna get into the contest. You can avoid losses on the way in, and then still afford to lose troops.

Other Spells
Typical cryx armor debuff. -3 to a target's armor, +1 ARM for you. It does sort of pay for itself in that you get the upkeep AND the benefit of camping the focus.

Death Knell
This is a spell answer for shield-wall infantry, or anyone else that wants to group hug on the field. It's a 4-inch AOE that's POW10, but adds +1 to the damage roll for each enemy caught in the AOE. Direct hit on four guys in a shield wall? The guy you hit eats a POW 14, and his buddies eat POW 9s. Not shabby, BUT it does cost four focus and likely a fifth for the boost.

If you're rolling with Deathjack then you can use its Necromancy and allocate it a couple focus to get the spell off, but past that it's not going to be a mainstay.

Army Composition
For starters, you have +6 'jack points, which is pretty solid for Cryx. Parasite and Excarnate are prime candidates for arcing. Consider a couple of Arc Nodes, though preferably ones that don't need so much Focus, as you're playing a spell-slinger.

Consider Canerkworm as well. It's 5 points, reasonably durable, and can hit bloody hard with Armor Piercing. A charge off Cankerworm is doing 11+3d6 against half the other guy's armor value, which is going to do a serious number against jacks. For extra hilarity, you can use the Imprint to repair AND steal a nice weapon. The Affinity for Asphyxious is that you get a free full advance at the end of its activation, so long as it ends the activation in Gaspy's control area. Combine this with Parry (immunity to free strikes) and it charges someone, rips a great chunk out, and then darts off pointing and laughing.

If you're going to take heavy jacks, look into the ones that aren't focus hogs. This means Deathjack and Seethers. Honestly, these provide alternative assassination vectors as well, so it's worth considering them for that angle too. Just don't take focus hogs or ones that need to-hit boosts, which more or less kills the ranged jacks we have.

Excarnate suggests going for undead infantry. Consider Banes of one form or another. Bane Knights have superior range on the feat charge and you can make up for their lack of stealth by hiding behind Caustic Mist.

On the flip side, Bane Thralls don't NEED the caustic mist, so you can keep more of your force safe from shooting. Additionally, for one more point that a full ten Bane Knights you can get the same number of Bane Thralls, along with the officer and standard bearer. What's more fun than a unit full of Tough, auto-standing-up weapon masters? A unit full of Tough, auto-standing-up weapon masters that GROWS! Between Bane Lord Tartarus and Excarnate, the enemy has to etiher NOT have living units, or pretty much level your Banes in a go.

Past that, Mechanithralls can bulk up your numbers, but MAT 5 isn't so hot on feat turn unless you're using them to try to combo-strike heavy jacks. You don't have any way to buff their MAT, either. Still, it's 5 freakin' points for 10 guys, and you can ALSO bring back the Brute Thralls. They do work nicely with Caustic Mist shields, but I'd prioritize Banes of one sort or another before adding Mechanithralls.

You can always use the Mist to deliver Bile Thralls as well. No one likes the Purge, especially when most of the unit gets through to DO it.

Soul Hunters don't benefit from the Feat, but they're still worth considering at higher point levels as a distraction. Bear in mind, though, that they'll be the center of attention if the rest of the army is stealth/behind a cloud.

The Withershadow Combine gets a nod because of the free upkeep and they're about the only way for Cryx to undo debilatory upkeeps. I'd consider them at higher point levels (IE: 35) because they're great utility, but not THAT offensive.

Warwitch Sirens are EXCELLENT for getting your Arc Nodes moving. Free focus for a jack? A Spray on top of that? I'll take it! Certainly worth considering for the army. Hell, they're just all-around utility solos. Every Cryx player should own a couple.

Gerlak Slaughterborn is excellent for clearing out infantry, which he can ALSO do on the feat if you need to clear up lanes. He also gets boosted attacks against wounded enemies, so he's effectively ANOTHER MAT 8 weaponmaster.

Oh, since you're bringing Banes, get Bane Lord Tartarus. The ability to occasionally hit that high defense is necessary. Even with Bane Curse, I almost had eSkarre survive a run of Bane Thralls because of her DEF 16. You have to HIT to roll 11+4d6 against thier ARM -2.

I'm not sure a Skarlock is absolutely necessary, since you don't have buffs for it to hand out. I'd not be surprised to see it get off either a single Excarnate or Parasite before the enemy decides it should die. Thing is, those are the ONLY two spells you can cast; Death Knell is too expensive and the rest of your spells are range 'Self' or 'Control.'

Darragh Wrathe is solid if you're bringing Soul Hunters, and even if not he can help advance your army with Death Ride (since you brought mostly Undead, right?) or help your attrition game with Beyond Death (living models with -2 to damage rolls in your area, combined with high-ARM infantry? Think I can make that work...).

Sample 25-point eGaspy Army
Lich Lord Asphyxious +6 WJ
Deathripper [4]
Deathripper [4]
Cankerworm [5]

10 Bane Thralls [8]
Unit Attachment: Officer & Standard [3]

Warwitch Siren [2]
Bane Lord Tartarus [4]
3 Scrap Thralls [1]

We have a couple of Arc Nodes, we have a hefty infantry unit with support solo, and then we have a Warwitch for focus support and 3 scrap thralls for filler. If we wanted to, we could probably drop down to a minimal unit of Bane Thralls, freeing up 3 points. Since our Deathrippers are 4, we could try to scrounge points for a Seether, but that means dropping our Warwitch Siren. It's a thought, and we could perhaps get away with it at 25. Depends on how many living models are out there waiting to be recycled to the glory of Bane Thrall-dom.

When it comes to assassination, we have a few venues:
1) The feat + heap of dead Banes + BLT
2) Spell Assassination via Arc Node, boosted Excarnates and a good round of harvesting from Daemortus
3) I suppose we could always try to abuse Parasite + Sustained Attack off of the Deathrippers; 3 focus means a boosted to-hit for the charge, an effective PS16+3d6 and a PS16+2d6, which has a decent shot of taking care of a caster.

A Final Note
Note: I don't have a hell of a lot of experience with Lich Lord Asphyxious. This is mostly what I see as his playstyle, and have seen of it. He DOES look versatile and forgiving, and I'd hate to have shooting that can't get through stealth/clouds.

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