This week we were graced with an Insider regarding the new Warmachine and Hordes Dynamic Update. These are always an exciting...and sometimes disappointing... time for Warmachine players, where game imbalances or rules mistakes are tweaked and reworked by the development team. This month our dynamic update focuses primarily on changes surrounding the Black Fleet Community Integrated Development cycle that took place a couple months ago.
We will go through the changes as they're listed in the Insider and give a few thoughts on them!
Change 1 - Unyielding
Probably the biggest general change as far as the game is concerned, Unyielding has been changed to be a flat +2 ARM buff against all melee attacks, rather than requiring you to be engaging a target in melee. This touches on a ton of models, and it would take a lot to list them all here but of note in my mind are casters like Magnus2, who gives his whole battlegroup Unyielding, Karchev the Terrible who already sits on enormous survivability and is usually knocked down or turned around to avoid the ARM buff, and the Knight Errant Seneschal who gives Errants Unyielding, a rule they normally had a hard time making use of with their 0.5" melee range. That said, there are a ton of models with Unyielding or access to Unyielding in the game, and this is a change that will likely see certain models enter the CID update process in the future in case they're deemed a bit too strong. Magnus2 is already seeing a bit of love in the meta and, while he usually does run a lot of 2" melee warjacks anyway, it opens up options a little and makes the usuall tech of knocking down or getting into back arcs less effective. This is, essentially, Duelist for ARM, and your best bet if possible is just to shoot... or go for overwhelming damage, of course.
Change 2 - Lich Lord Terminus WJ Points to 27
Seems fine, if a little random. Occasionally really brilliant changes are done with Warjack points to effect balance, but in many cases this stat feels a little random. Guess it's nice he can squeeze an extra point of warjack's in?
Change 3 - Warwitch Deneghra Changes
This is a handful of changes and they're fairly impactful. This was done as a bit of a response to Ghost Fleet's extreme dominance this year, mostly under the fist of Deneghra and her huge kit of control and debuffs. Firstly, her Warjack points were decreased by one. This is actually an example of a much more clever balancing factor to this caster, in that the Ghost Fleet list most known for being a serious terror had effectively no room for point swing, and reducing this single point by one actually forces some pretty sweeping changes to how it has to be designed. Most of the time the Wraith Engine has to actually come out in favor of other pieces, and while the battle engine wasn't necessarily *integral* to how the list functions, it's a big part of the wide range of threats the list creates. Pretty solid change.
Secondly, The Withering no longer stops running, charging, and special actions. Part of the issue with fighting Deneghra, especially under massive gunfire, was melee armies just couldn't function properly because of this control. Ghost Fleet requires extensive Removed From Play effects in most cases to fight, but the nature of this combined with Deneghra's extreme anti-melee capabilities with this feat meant you had to have sufficient number of attacks, with RFP, at range. This is a very, very rare thing to have and now armies will have way more options for teching into Deneghra builds.
Third, Scourge was changed for Black Talons. Black Talons is a RNG 10, 3 cost AOE 3 POW 12 nuke that has Critical Shadow Bind. Scourge was a ridiculous assassination threat in conjunction with her feat, Parasite, and the revenant pirate riflemen with Ghost Shot; you can still get most of this effect, but it's relying on a critical hit and comes down to being way more of a gamble rather than an assured thing. This leaves her list design still quite strong on attrition and scenario, but far less likely to also just randomly kill your warcaster.
Overall Denny's changes are solid; she still has a very powerful kit, but will be forced to play the game somewhat more on other player's terms.
Change 4 - Wraith Witch Deneghra
Denny2 has been a little rough in Mk3, given her extreme power level in Mk2 and the changes she had in response. Her MAT was increased to 6, making her fun teleport-your-enemy shenanigans a bit more consistent which is nice. Her feat was next on the list but I want to talk about that one last.
Denny lost Influence, Marked for Death, and Pursuit in favor of Breath Stealer, Damnation, and Shadow Step. Breath Stealer is an older and very solid spell, made even better by it losing its 'once per activation' clause so it's actually a really brutal, spammable spell. Damnation is a Warmachine version of Kaya's Dog Pile spell, although with a shorter range; giving a bit of extra threat to her 'jacks is a solid option. Shadow Step acts a bit like Feora's Fire Step, causing Shadow Bind to enemies within 2" and letting her place herself 3". This actually gives her a pretty intense threat range, and she'll likely win a game or two just by getting to your caster in melee and teleporting them back into the midst of the Cryx army.
I almost missed Dark Banishment; this teleport ability on her melee was changed to a somewhat more consistent d6+3".
So... her feat. Choose d3+3 non-warcaster friendly faction models in her control area, they gain Incorporeal for a round. Typically this has lead to her running low model count builds with a handful of extremely high value, high output helljacks like Nightmare, Deathjack, and others, throwing them in your face, giving them Incorporeal for a round, and asking if you can deal with it. This also acts as a way to get Pathfinder for a turn, lets you move without taking free strikes/move through models/etc. It has good uses, but my personal concern with this is its extremely binary nature. Either you can deal with it, or you can't; Denny2 is likely to steamroll opponents who don't have a good answer, but have basically no functional feat into opponents who do. As a Protectorate player, Denny2 feels like nearly a non-concern (although not useless, as Hellmouth is still a very strong spell). Still, will be interesting to see how she plays out; at the very least, if she starts seeing a lot of meta play, lists will have to adjust for even more magical weapons than before, which is usually at the expense of other tools. Feats like this have the possibility to create cyclical, tail chasing metas, but that isn't always a bad thing.
Change 5 - The Witch Coven of Garlghast and Egregore
These are... small changes with huge implications. Firstly, their feat lost the bit about enemy models having -2 to attack rolls, making it a bit less of an absurd time walk... though still a fairly effective one. It's reminiscent of Rask's feat in many respects as is and that feat is strong even on Rask's much smaller control area. This feat is still strong.
Secondly, the Coven can no longer spend focus to reduce damage on each witch individually. Instead, the Egregore can spend a focus to reduce damage done to it by 5, but then that's it and damage done beyond that is handed out to the Coven. That's actually an absolutely massive deal; as it was, a camped up Egregore was nearly unkillable, reducing damage done to it by as much as 15 when it took a hit due to the way the Coven worked with the focus mechanic. Essentially, putting attacks into the Egregore to kill the Coven is actually a viable tactic now. Personally I think Denny1 and the Coven still came out of this as extremely powerful options, but some of the egregious top end was toned down a little which overall feels like a good thing.
Change 6 - Corruptor Point Cost Reduction
Corruptors cost 14 points. Seems good, I actually quite like this 'jack but I know why it wasn't seeing play. 14 points is a pretty aggressive cost for a heavy with a gun, and maybe it will find a home in a few places now.
Change 7 - Kharybdis
To totally level with you, I have never seen this 'jack on the table and didn't have a solid grasp on its rules in the first place, and I think many people are in the same boat.
Its point cost was changed to 17, RAT increased to 6, gained Gunfighter, and its Acid Cloud rule says it places a 4" AOE on itself once per activation at any time, models in the AOE when it's placed or that enter or end their activation inside suffer Corrosion.
Looking at him in his current state... this guy seems ok. RAT 6 on sprays is good, and Gunfighter is great, especially given that with Chain Strike I'm sure this guy had an awkward time getting his spray where he wanted without it, so I see why that was added. I'd personally like him a little more at about 16 points. I don't see Aiakos much, and in a world of themes this means I don't really see Kharybdis, but who knows, maybe we'll see this guy a little.
Change 8 - Black Ogrun Boarding Party
The Boarding Party saw a MAT reduction to 6, a DEF increase to 13, and gained Gang. In most cases this makes them a little stronger, they'll see play in their theme a bit but we'll see how prevalent that is, it's hard to judge a lot of the Black Ogrun until more of their stuff drops.
Change 9 - Bloodgorgers
MAT went up to 7, but the big buff to these guys was really the new Unyielding change. With their two attacks and Cryx's extreme access to ways to increase damage, these guys can do work a bit beyond what their stats would suggest, and the accuracy buff is great for them and gives them more room as a unit that can clear infantry. Overall, they seem solid enough.
Change 10 - Revenant Cannon Crew
The Cannon Crew went up to 5 points, gained Ghost Shot, went up to RNG 13, and lost Point Blank. Ghost Shot is a strong rule, but whether this guy will see play comes down to how Ghost Fleet lists look after the Denny1 and Revenant Pirate changes. Personally I think Ghost Shot and the increased range is enough to make them worthy of play, and we'll see if they start popping up on tables now.
Change 11 - Revenant Crew of the Atramentous & Rifleman
A controversial change, the Revenant Crew lost Point Blank. This reduces their output significantly; lists running ARM debuffs could get Revenant Crew well into the range of 3-4 of them wrecking even quite tough heavies, and this brings them down into being more of a shooting unit that has melee as a secondary option. Overall this was one of a long list of nerfs to Ghost Fleet, but... my personal feeling is that it's warranted. It's not really about personal experience dealing with the list; in the end, the strength of this unit is built into its theme and comes from what Cryx can do as a debuffing faction. Revenant Crew are built around their recursion and their guns, having the option to also... not just easily, but trivially trade up into basically any target just left this whole list design with too few weak points. Now there are holes in design that have to be filled with other pieces, making the list pairing and matchup process more dynamic and purposeful.
Satyxis Blood Witches
Blood Mist swaps out for Grievous Wounds as an attack type. With the Blood Hag losing Entropic Force, this makes the unit maintain its function as a solid out for tough without it being quite so easy to apply to everything in the army. Seems fine, doesn't drastically change their role.
Satyxis Blood Hag
She lost Entropic Force, gained Dark Shroud and Granted - Side Step. This changed her role on the battlefield a little, but Side Step on the Blood Witches is quite solid and Dark Shroud means she can be used as a bit of an all-in to help nuke down a harder target. Interesting little tweak.
Bumped up to RAT 7, gained Dodge across the board, and swapped Blood Mist for Heart Seeker, which gives them an additional die on damage rolls, dropping the lowest. Aside from the fun little cloud wall effects people were doing, this is a straight upgrade, making them a way more efficient and murderous shooty unit. Personally not excited about fighting these.
Satyxis Raider Sea Witch
Aaah, Raiders. Always a vicious unit to deal with, though far from what they once were.
The Sea Witch is up to 4 points, went down to CMD 8, and True Wind got cleaned up to just give the unit Pathfinder. This is a bit of a swap given that the theme for them no longer gives Pathfinder to everything, and makes sure the theme has a solid pathfinder out in the form of the core Satyxis melee unit, the Raiders. She's also forced to be a little bit more aggressively placed by her low CMD. Sea Witch has always been pretty good, she remains pretty good, just changed around a bit.
General Gerlak Slaughterborn
Gerlak swapped around quite a bit; for one, he gained Weapon Master and Grievous Wounds, which is extremely strong and pushes him further into being the gross infantry blender he always was, not being stopped by obnoxious Tough models at all. He went down to 6 points, and he lost Finisher and his Leadership for Bloodgorgers, but his new Elite Cadre gives Bloodgorgers Berserk and he has Veteran Leader [Blighted Trollkin]. Acting much more as the commander of the Blighted Ogrun for Cryx's army, his role as far as ability to murder hasn't changed much. Berserk on Bloodgorgers seems fine, it's not ball busting exactly but it's solid, although they have to avoid killing each other a little bit which can be hard given their base sizes. Veteran Leader, though, will be quite good given the increasing number of Blighted Ogrun in Cryx. If you're taking his theme and any Blighted Ogrun, easy free model choice.
Satyxis Raider Captain
Gained Tough, swapped Reposition 3 for Sprint. Tough feels a little random but Sprint is huuuuuge for this model; she's a nasty solo hunter like this, and will be much more of a pain to deal with than before.
Just going to put these under one category; Barathrum was added to Scourge of the Broken Coast, and instead of it giving the army pathfinder, solos in the army gain Dodge. This is.... overall a downgrade, but I think is in part a balance tweak given the increasing power of Satyxis through their update and new releases on the way. It's not amazing, but will be reasonably strong and the theme as a whole creates quite powerful lists.
Axiara and Kharybdis were added to Slaughter Fleet Raiders. This is mostly a thematic thing, it's possible we'll see Kharybdis a little more but... it's hard to say what the popularity of this theme force will be given the new models and changes happening around it. We'll see!
Other Faction Stuff
Not to discount how important these may or may not be, but most of these were incidental changes. Cognifex Cyphon and Saeryn's instances of Breath Stealer was changed to account for the change with Denny2, and Grymkin had a note in there to allow Hollow Holden to be taken as a free option in Bump in the Night.
Overall, the changes to Cryx seem quite solid. It can be hard being in the crosshairs of a nerf for a power list or pairing, but overall Cryx's nerfs were quite measured in comparison to the 'Mad Dog' style nerfs we've seen before, keeping the casters involved quite strong in design, and the updates to the existing models make for a lot of pretty cool options. I personally may be getting some Satyxis and Blighted Ogrun stuff eventually, marking a return to Cryx half a decade in the making... but we will see. Thanks for reading everyone, and we'll see you next time.