Warmachine Tactics: Initial thoughts on the Cryx Wraith Engine
6 Minute Read
Jul 5 2011
This June Cryx finally got its share of Battle Engine love in the form of the new Wraith Engine. Lets take a deeper look…
With its ability to collect souls and spend them like focus, the Wraith Engine can slice through swathes of infantry and single-handedly wreck warjacks. But it’s more than just a simple killing machine; like the other Battle Engines it possesses a host of interesting and useful abilities. It’s these abilities that make up for its seemingly meager statline, and give it a unique tactical purpose.
Apparition makes this already fast machine even faster. An extra two inches of movement per turn gives the Wraith Engine an un-buffed threat range of 13 inches. Since this movement happens during the control phase, make sure you keep the way clear or you’ll end up wasting it. When you can, try to use your apparition move to get you in range of some enemy souls so you can load up before the Engine activates. It could mean the difference between wrecking a ‘jack, and just doing a little damage to it.
Dark Shroud bumps the P+S of the Wraith Engine up to a far more respectable 17 by inflicting a -2 armor penalty to all models in its melee range. While Dark shroud is always great, let’s stop for a moment and consider the ramifications of this ability on a model with reach and a 120 mm base. The Wraith Engine will be able to catch a ton of models in this aura which will make it that much easier for the rest of your army to mop them up.
Ectoplasm allows you to use your Wraith Engine’s soul tokens to create 3” cloud effects anywhere completely inside its massive 10” command range. The extra safety this can provide your Warcaster can allow you to move them further upfield and catch that many more enemies inside those fantastic army-crippling Cryx feats. In fact you may find there are many occasions where keeping a key model safe will far outweigh the need to spend that soul making another Wraith Engine attack.
Soul Collector is of course the ability I’ve been referencing the whole time; the one that allows you to gather all those Soul Tokens and spend them to boost or buy new attacks. This means as long as you keep hitting and killing living enemy models, you can keep making attacks until all the ones in the Wraith Engine’s melee range are dead. Whereas most models with soul gathering abilities are rather stingy with their range, Soul Collector allows the Wraith Engine to collect from anywhere in its command. That already high Command of 10 is made even more impressive with the knowledge that it will be measured from the edge of a massive Battle Engine base. This makes it easy to load up your Wraith Engine so it can charge an enemy heavy with 5 attacks to make. The only other advice to give about this ability is be aware of other Soul collecting models in your army. As a faction, Cryx loves munching on souls, and the model closest to the destroyed model granting the soul will take the soul. So you can’t send in the Death Jack or a Harrower to collect souls for your Wraith Engine unless you’re ok with them taking the first 3. This problem is really compounded if you bring a Wraith Engine along in a Terminus list. He’ll be pretty unhappy if it soaks up the first three closest souls that appear within 10” of it on his feat turn.
Unhallowed may be the least exciting part of the Wraith Engine’s arsenal – at least for me. It’s probably just that I have yet to find a good synergy between the Wraith Engine and the other incorporeal models Cryx has. Most of the time they will compete for souls, since Pistol Wraiths want soul tokens for themselves and Blackbane’s Ghoat Raiders remove models from play. Still, Unhallowed will go a long way to helping Blackbane’s survive, since there’s a good chance your opponent will be relying on spells with blasts to take them out on their way across the board. Meanwhile for the Pistol Wraiths, +2 armor could mean the difference between life and death for a solo that often finds itself getting sniped by low pow magic weapons. At least that’s how mine seem to die most of the time.
Wraith Walker allows you to make your Wraith Engine incorporeal during your control phase if you didn’t the previous one. This gives you the opportunity to go right through intervening models to get to the opposing enemy warcaster on the other side. Assuming you have line of sight and room to fit its huge base. This also gives you the ability to have a very durable model immune to non-magical attacks every other round. While def 10, arm 18, and 20 damage boxes don’t seem like the most impressive defensive stats, they are on an incorporeal model. Very few armies will have the offensive magical power to take an incorporeal Wraith Engine down even if they throw everything they have at it. You may even find yourself rewarded by having an enemy warcaster put themselves in danger trying to take it out with their magic weapon. While you will lose incorporeal if you make any attacks, it will make a simply amazing point holder for Steamroller scenarios. It can use Ectoplasm on incorporeal turns since that doesn’t even count as using an action. Just be aware of the armies that can bring a lot of magic to bear. Protectorate players, Adeptis Rahn theme lists, or anyone who brings along Aiyana and Holt can really cramp your style. Know which models have magic attacks and take them out in a hurry.
So with a list of abilities like these, who’s the best warcaster to bring along with your Wraith Engine? My first pick right now is the new kid in the block, and the only one who can take a Wraith Engine in their tier: Scaverous. With Telekinesis, he can push it an extra 2” giving the thing a really scary threat of 15”. Add an extra 2 to that if you can snag an enemy target and drag it closer to you. His other spells help it out a lot too. If he casts feast of worms in the right spot before the Wraith Engine charges, it will be striking at an effective P+S 19. Meanwhile, Icy Grip cast on an enemy unit will allow the Wraith Engine to strike at an effective MAT 9 against it, meaning that with its Soul Collector ability, it should be able to keep attacking until all models in its melee range are eliminated.
That same logic can be applied to any Cryx Caster with a similar bag of tricks. Deneghra’s Crippling Grasp will perform the same function as Icy Grip, while Parasite causes an even greater armor reduction than Feast of Worms. And since the Wraith Engine can function using enemy souls instead of focus, that means Deneghra can sling even more spells. I also really like it with both the Skarres. Pirate Queen Skarre will give it the benefit of the spell Dark Guidance, while her feat lets the thing really scrap enemy heavies. With Skarre, queen of the broken coast, you get Black Spot to soften up infantry, and give you the ability to make more attacks against them just in case you miss. But I think what I like most about her and the Wraith Engine is her feat combined with its Wraith Walker ability. Make it Incorporeal one turn, use her feat the next, then make it incorporeal again. That’s three turns of near invulnerability in a row, in a game that is frequently over that quickly. Just remember that eSkarre should always bring along one or two Heavies to make the best use of Admonition and Perdition.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, there is one big downside to this Battle Engine. Your opponent will need to bring along things that offer souls for you to get the most out of it. If you find yourself against a ‘Jack heavy list, your fancy new Wraith Engine will struggle to make its points back. So be aware of this possibility when its time to write your tournament lists.
~So I do think in the right situations the Wraith Engine is powerful enough to change up the meta a little bit. I think if it catches on we will find people re-tooling at least one of their favorite tournament lists to try to bring in more magic or less infantry after they’ve had to deal with an incorporeal Wraith Engine camping an objective, or slicing their infantry to ribbons. But I’ve actually got to play with this thing before I can say for sure. And if you’ve got a great Wraith Engine tactic I neglected to include, be sure to post it in the comments. I didn’t want to make this article too long so there’s a lot of great stuff that probably didn’t make it.