Interview with Ryan Evans, winner of UK National Masters, Cryx aficionado, and member of WTC team UK Lions!

Hey guys, Tseung Tsu here. Call me “Sung Sue” or TT if that's easier. I used to write for ColoradoWarmachine.com but I’m thrilled to be writing for LOSWarmachine now. I love what Chandler and Jaden are trying to do here, and was thrilled when they invited me to be a part of it. Please be sure to follow me on facebook or twitter to stay up to date with all my delusions!

 *Attack Both Barrels

*Attack Both Barrels

Tseung Tsu: We’re here with Ryan Evans, winner of UK National Masters, Cryx aficionado, recent member of England's UK Lions WTC team and all around good guy. Thanks so much for taking the time to join us! 
 
Ryan Evans: Cheers man, good to be here, always love talking Cryx!  The few people I talk hobby with say I must get it a lot, but I really don’t
 
TT: I first heard of you on your blog, Strat Cat Scribblings. It was around a year ago and I had just picked Cryx back up. I loved your deep review and full explanations of decisions. How did you get started blogging? Any big plans for the future?
 
RE: I started blogging this time last year right after the 2016 WTC (England Roses), I wanted to document my games to try and actively learn something from them.  I blog for myself mainly, if someone else reads the drivel I post, that’s just great!
 
My pet project at the moment is Asphyxious, all of them! Experimenting with all three to see if I can put together a viable 2-list pair, and if I can make them work as a 3-list line-up.  Article coming soon on The Lich when I can cram in some more games! 
 
TT: That’s too funny. My blog started as a deliberate practice mechanism to help myself get better too. I found that writing down issues I was having just helped me think objectively about them. Do you have any other tricks to getting better at this game?

RE: Uh, let me think... So, a few things I can suggest... 
 
Firstly, run TheoryMachine ideas past a competent player in your community who plays what the list is aimed at.  A lot of wacky ideas fall down at the first hurdle.  If they dismiss it with reasonable theory and you agree, then great, you learnt something without needing to test it.  If you don't see eye-to-eye on whether it'll work, throw down and test it.
 
Secondly, don't plan for mistakes.  When building lists / theorising / playing games, expect your opponent to play the perfect game, and you'll get more mileage out of your TheoryMachine if you're not planning for mistakes.  People don't play perfect games, but planning for it means if you can play a game in the worst case circumstances, then you should be OK in a normal game.
 
Related, factor your opponent's mistakes into post-game analysis, like, did they do something they shouldn't have?  Did their 'caster step out into the open when they didn't need to? Did your opponent over-extend when they were already ahead on attrition?  
 
Thirdly, play your bad match-ups, win or lose identify what you could have done to either win that game (if you lost) or turn it in your favour further (if you won).  Most of the time “bad match-ups” aren't nearly as bad as people would have you think.

 Official  "Turncoat"  of England Lions

Official "Turncoat" of England Lions

OH, one more thing, tea! Lots and lots of tea. England Lions had a Tea Caddy, in charge of the brews for the lovely sit downs with a nice cup of tea before important rounds
 
TT: That's great advice, and very similar to things I’ve been practicing myself. I always recommend that people practice with a purpose, don’t take Gotcha wins, and learn from mistakes! 

When I found your blog a year ago I think it was safe to say that Cryx wasn’t considered a real power in the game of Warmachine. People were complaining that we “didn’t really get a theme” in ghost fleet, and there was much gnashing of teeth. Over the next year Cryx seemed to ascend to the boogey man of the meta. Now almost a year later we have new themes out, new models in the pipe and proposed nerfs to both Denny 1 and the core of Ghost Fleet itself, the Revenant Pirate Crew. What are your thoughts on the transformation of Cryx thus far in 2017?
 
RE: Aye, this time last year a lot of people had low expectations of Cryx.  I lost count of the number of tournament games I played where people said “…but, I thought Cryx was bad now?” after they’d lost. 
 
Cryx might not have had as wide a pool of viable builds as, say, Cygnar, but they were fine.  I think a lot of the negativity stemmed from people trying to play Mk2 lists and tactics, and failing hard.

Cryx is in a really good place right now, a lot of players have been slow to react to the rise of Cryx which explains why a lot of people have been getting rolled.  It’s fairly easy to tell who’s put in the table time against Cryx and who hasn’t just by the suggestions people make online, “just kill whole units” for example! Madness...
 
TT: What do you hope 2018 holds for Cryx?
 
RE: This will sound odd, but I really hope Deneghra1 gets nerfed to kingdom come and that Ghost Fleet remains largely untouched.  I don’t believe Ghost Fleet is anywhere near as egregious with any other casters.  On the plus side, if Point Blank does get taken away, I’m less likely to clock with Ghost Fleet, silver lining!
 
Either way, I hope this will encourage people to experiment outside their crutches of Denny1 and Witch Coven to realise that Cryx actually has a really wide stable of tournament-viable casters and themes.
 
TT: I know you didn’t get to be as active in the latest CID as you may have liked. Did anything really catch your eye?
 
RE:  For sure, I was gutted when I saw the timetable for this CID process, alas, exams take priority sadly.  I’m especially excited for the Satyxis Blood Priestess and Jussika Bloodtongue.
 
A free upkeep and Sucker is just great for opening up a number of ‘casters who want to play mid-field but can’t, and I LOVE that it’s not optional and the Blood Priestess might randomly get shot in the face just because you HAVE to Sucker!
 
As for Jussika, I took a gamble on 20 Bloodgorgers for cheap at the end of Mk2, doubt I’ll field both units, but Vengeance for one unit sounds great, especially with the aforementioned Sucker!
 
TT: I always loved Bloodgorgers, angry pseudo undead trolls! Recently with Cygnar PP nerfed some things, but they are still playable. Let's pretend Denny and Ghost Fleet isn’t playable. Where do you see the “Cryx Meta” shifting to?
 
RE: Yes, let’s pretend that... Coven is the obvious first answer, however, I think if you don’t have to tech for Denny Fleet you can tech harder for Coven’s tools, so I’m not sure they’re as great a first list, I’d encourage people to second guess the meta and put in the time with one of the many other great casters in the faction.
 
I think (hope) we’ll see the rise of a different flavour of hard-pairs, even ruling out Ghost Fleet, between our other themes you can present some hard questions if you’re willing to put in the table time.
 
Wherever the meta shifts too, I think Cryx players still need to be looking at presenting problems rather than answers.  The fragility of Cryx means we absolutely have to be dictating the pace of the game and that means presenting problems.
 
TT: You mention Coven and I’d love to chat about them for a moment. They had some insane 70% win rate at WTC. For all those non Cryx players. What are some solutions people should be looking into to deal with Coven?

 Ryan and Banky pondering Denny1's fate

Ryan and Banky pondering Denny1's fate

RE: Aha, the elephant in the room!  I think Coven did as well as they did at the WTC because a lot of players and teams were so fixated on Ghost Fleet they didn't consider the alternatives.  I see a lot of cry for nerfs, but I honestly don't think Coven warrants nerfs just yet, a lot of their power came from how well they paired with Denny Fleet.  With more options into Denny Fleet, people can afford some specific tech for Coven.
 
As a general observation, there is a chronic dependence in the meta on lists with guns.  This is bad against Coven, like really bad, because guns don't generally want to sit in zones, Coven lists are all over zones, and for a turn you can't even shoot anything.  So, you're at a huge risk of losing on scenario, or falling far behind which puts the tempo in Coven's hands.
 
So, how to actually play into Coven... some ideas I guess...
 
Control Feats of your own, with a caveat.  Like, Kaelyssa's Feat for example, it stymies charges for a turn, which is great, but you absolutely cannot pop your Feat first, else Coven back up wait out your Feat and then come in hard the following turn with their own feat up.  Coven will be trying to do the same thing too, but there's a lot of Coven players who pop Nightfall too early.  A lot of things can fall into this category, like Jarl's Feat is a 'Control Feat' in this context.
 
Alternatively, a way to pressure Coven into feating earlier than they perhaps want too.  Guns that can ignore Stealth (Occultation, or Prowl), that can either hit DEF 16+ Stealth Raiders, or that can power through Bane Riders (DEF 14 with Concealment, ARM 20 5 boxes under a Wraith Engine).
 
Failing the above, an ability to absorb an alpha and still get work done under Coven's Feat.  Factoring in the -2 MAT & RAT, you'll want accurate attacks (think Gang / CMA etc), preferably long walking threat ranges to get stuck in deep.
 
Oh, and finally, don't plan on killing Witches.  It falls under the above advice regarding mistakes.  Instead focus on the reality of winning on attrition whilst not losing on scenario.

TT: I’d love to take a bit to talk about the recent nerfs too. What did you think of the Cygnar Nerfs. For those of you who don’t know Haley 2’s feat was nerfed, Laddermore, and Storm Lances in general.
 
RE: So, firstly, the “dynamic updates” (lol) were absolutely warranted in my opinion.
 
For Haley2 for example, you needed a very specific build just to play a game into one flavour of Haley2, which made it incredibly depressing to build for Haley2, get a Haley2 player, but one playing a different flavour, such as planning for Storm Division and getting Heavy Metal.
 
For Lances and Laddermore, a lot of people failed to appreciate that Lances and Laddermore needed a “dynamic update” in the context of their own faction.  The internal balance within Cygnar was awful.  The Trencher CID was doing the rounds and it was pointed out (by one of my club-mates, amongst others, hello Anthony!) that “Sure, these Trenchers are all sexy as hell, and have some great rules, but we’ll still play Storm Lances because they’re still better and more versatile”.

 UK Lions powering up with some team

UK Lions powering up with some team

TT: Great points! Why do you think Cygnar was “nerfed” before Cryx was? In the US at least it seemed like Cryx was the top of the Meta still.
 
RE: I think Cygnar was nerfed before Cryx because Cygnar warranted it more.  In general, people were slow to adjust to the rise of Ghost Fleet, and so, a lot of people were getting easy wins because their opponents simply weren’t prepared for what Ghost Fleet brought to the table.
 
Between Patrick Dunford (English WTC Player) and Jarle Svendsrud (Norwegian WTC Player), they’d been smashing people this side of the pond with Cygnar for months.  Stateside is a much bigger area to work with, so the few Cygnar players putting in the time weren’t having as big an impact on the whole.
 
I would add Josh Bates to the list too as a prominent Cygnar player, but he’s been ahead of the curve and putting in serious reps with Haley3, so can’t be blamed for the Haley2 nerfs at least!  Case in point, Laddermore still features in at least one of Josh’s lists, so she can’t be that bad post-nerf like internet hyperbole would have you believe!
 
This isn’t a dig at the US vs rest of the world, just a feeling that maybe due to the geographical area of the US and the sheer number of tournaments and cons, that the power lists / players kind of gets lost in the noise of other people playing, and doing well, with other things.
 
Whereas this side of the pond, because we don’t have the same selection of cons, there’s a high concentration of the ‘power players’ at the fewer big events in the European calendar.
 
TT: I do wish there was a better reporting tool people could see or use. Other than doing a whole lot of google’ing I don’t know how players are supposed to keep up with events worldwide. How do players over there keep track of American events? Or do you even care...

RE : For sure!  I know Jay posts lists up on Discount Games, but that assumes people send them to him.  I guess as a community, more people (both players and TOs) could make a concerted effort to ensure lists are posted up there, but that only goes so far.
 
I can't speak for others, but I try to keep my finger on the pulse of what people are playing everywhere so I personally do pay attention to events everywhere when I can, even American events!
 
I generally keep up with goings on across the globe by following the prominent people in the community on Twitter, that's players and TO's.  Seriously, Twitter has revolutionised my hobby time when I'm not gaming, especially since the Forums got, uh, downsized... I guess that's what you'd call it?
 
But, yeah, between Twitter and the occasional tidbits from the Faction Facebook groups, I tend to hear about most of the big events going on globally one way or another, which is awesome!  Hit me up on Twitter (@CryxHobbit) if you want more hobby drivel!

TT: Ryan Evans dolling out advice 140 characters at a time. #140forlife. I seem to remember something about an OrborosRyan? What happened to that bloke?

RE: 280 characters, man... 100% more drivel per tweet than before is just awesome!
 
OrborosRyan… That guy... Poor fella, he died a slow and painful death whilst playing Legion (Mk2 pVayl <3) and Cygnar (Mk2 eHaley <3), along with the downward spiral of Circle in general at the start of Mk3...
 
It was suggested after I got my first big win with Cryx that my Twitter handle should probably change from OrborosRyan to something Cryxian, can’t fault the logic!  Even if I have been writing Bradigus lists lately... (them Wold changes though!)

TT: When Haley was nerfed everyone knew a Denny1 nerf was coming. If the most recent changes to Denny1 and Ghost Fleet hold, do you think there is another caster or list that needs re-evaluation? (nerfing)
 
RE: I guess the answer here is two-fold, in Cryx I don’t think anything else needs nerfing after Denny1 and Ghost Fleet to be honest, I’ve felt that a lot of the issues other people have experienced has been trying to shoehorn a list into their pair that can deal with Denny1 Ghost Fleet, so, not trivially getting assassinated, losing on scenario and standing up to her on attrition, whilst that same list also needs to not lose to Dark Host or any other list a snowflake might run alongside Ghost Fleet.
 
Take the Denny1 issue out of the equation, and the removal of Point Blank, and I think the number of things you can drop into Cryx is much wider now.
 
In the wider game, I think the playing field is more level than it’s ever been.  Once the Denny “dynamic update” goes live, I don’t think there’s anything left significantly ahead of the curve.  Some stuff could benefit from small buffs, but there isn’t much that far behind the curve as to be unplayable.
 
TT: One thing I loved about WTC is the diversity of lists. What do you think of the current state of Warmachine, and it’s future?
 
RE: There are some things a bit behind the curve (Legion), and some things that maybe need their internal balance looked at to encourage a wider diversity of lists (Circle), but on the whole, the game feels great.
 
Steamroller 2017, especially, has really revitalized the game.  It’s a completely different game now!

 Patrick RFP's everything

Patrick RFP's everything

TT: What do you think of Grymkin as a whole?
 
RE: Dude!  Trigger warning, please! T.T  I’ve never lost as hard with Ghost Fleet as I did to Patrick practicing his Heretic list on me in the run-up to the WTC! It’s incredible!
 
I’ve only had a few games against Grymkin, their flexibility with the use of Arcana is absolutely immense and I’ll be the first to admit I grossly underestimated how good it is.
 
Whilst I joke a lot about being a scrub playing underdog factions, deep down I love to play stuff that’s broken or very powerful.  I’ve long debated picking up a Grymkin army which tells you all you need to know!

TT: Sorry I’ll try not to trigger any more traumatic flashbacks! Were you surprised by PP announcing their plans to do a new “faction” a year?
 
RE:  I was, I’m not 100% convinced it’s realistic, but it’s ambitious and I think Privateer Press is at that space where they want to make a conscious effort to grow the business.  If it means more cool stuff for the game I love, even if I don’t play the new factions I’ll be excited to see where they take things!
 
TT: While we’re on the subject of new Privateer Press concepts, what are your thoughts on Black Anchor Industries?
 
RE:  It sounds great in principle, but tariffs (import tax, and handling fees) make it a pretty unattractive proposition, even with free shipping.  I can understand why though, enabling them to do more limited runs of higher quality Colossals and Gargantuans, hopefully eliminating some of the QA issues they’re experienced with other huge bases.
 
I know in the UK that Cerberus will be casting in metal some of the new releases, I did joke that it’d be awesome to get a full metal Dracodile!  I’d love to know what that bad boy would weigh in full metal! Less excited to hear what it’d cost, no doubt...
 
TT: Are gaming stores doing well in your neck of the woods? Locally I know shops are fighting the battle of Online Resellers vs Brick and Mortars. I understand the savings, but worry there won’t be anywhere left to play! Do you think Black Anchor exacerbatesthat?
 
RE: Gaming stores seem to be fairly steady in the UK, I don’t know about the continentals, but the “main” stores in the UK appear to be doing mostly OK.
 
I’m very fortunate to have a great store nearby, Bristol Independent Gaming.  It’s close to convenient transport routes, so we always get a nice variety of people out for our semi-regular WarmaHordes events.  Simple pleasures make gaming more enjoyable, like plenty of space between tables, or supplying zones so you don’t need to pack any, or supplying trays (Cryx needs big trays, so not having to pack one is great!) and always having a spare 2’x4’ on the end of each table to put stuff on means the table isn’t cluttered while playing.  It all adds up! 
 
I’m disappointed when I see people advocating buying online over supporting their local gaming store, I mean… sure, you save a bit of money, but supporting the gaming store is supporting the business that gives you a place to meet and play with other gamers.  It’s a no-brainer to me...

 Bristol Independent Gaming, rules disputes handled in the boxing canvas

Bristol Independent Gaming, rules disputes handled in the boxing canvas

TT: So as we wrap this up, what are you most excited for coming down the pipe in Warmachine?
 
RE: For me it's the count-down to BonesCon (February) now.  The whole “Con” hype thing is still catching on here, so BonesCon is one of the few.  It was borne from the ashes of SmogCon which has been awesome for... 5?  6? years, so I have high hopes for BonesCon diversifying into other systems alongside the core of WarmaHordes.
 
By February people should have started “unlocking” the themes from the recent theme dump, so it'll be exciting to see what people are tearing up the meta with!  I have a TON of painting to do between now and February!

TT: Thanks again Ryan for taking the time to join us. Be sure to read Ryan’s musing over on Strat Cat Scribblings or follow him on twitter @CryxHobbit. Again be sure to follow me on facebook at @CoWargaming to stay up to date with all my Mile High Delusions.