Warcasters are the stars of Warmachine, and Cryx has no shortage of powerful and fun-to-play warcasters. Today, I’m taking a look at Lich Lord Venethrax!
IN SHORT: An army under Venethrax is a lean, mean, soul-collecting machine. Because, if Venethrax is anything, it’s hungry for souls. Nom-nom-nom-nom. He also enjoys moonlit walks through the graveyard, melting people with acid, and causing them to spontaneously combust.
STRENGTHS: Venethrax’s big call to fame is his spell Soul Harvester. With this, a Cryx model or unit can collect souls from living enemies slain in melee. It doesn’t matter where they are or where Venethrax is. He gets the soul. Very few abilities can shut this down, and it can give Venethrax a huge reserve of Focus to cast spells and deal damage.
Another powerful spell at Venethrax’s disposal is Lamentation. All enemy spells cost double to cast and maintain in his control area. With his 14” control area, Lamentation can be absolutely fatal to enemies that require a lot of spell casting in order to function.
Venethrax is also the premiere anti-Hordes Cryx warcaster. He’s MAT 8 and comes with Dismember, giving him an additional damage die against enemy warbeast. Combine this with Dragon Slayer, which allows him to absorb a killed warbeast’s Fury as Focus for himself, and this guy is an absolutely wrecking ball against Hordes armies. As an added bonus, Dragon Slayer gives Venethrax +2 STR and +2 ARM. Not bad at all.
Venethrax’s feat, Charnel House, can make an absolute mess of light infantry. Anything killed in his control area, friend or foe, bursts into a 3” AOE flame cloud that blocks ALL line-of-sight, including Eyeless Sight. It also does 1 point of damage to anyone entering the clouds. This can quickly turn the battle field into one hilarious inferno impeding your opponent’s army.
Finally, Venethrax has Caustic Presence [Corrosion]. Any Corrosion effects on enemies in his control area do not expire. Ever. Combine this with Blood Rain (and AOE attack that causes the Corrosion continuous effect) and Venethrax’s soul harvesting talents, and he can single-handedly devastate enemy infantry.
WEAKNESSES: No debuffs of any kind. His army supports him, not the other way around. Just accept this and move on.
Venethrax has a lot of abilities that trigger on requirements. He needs lots of living enemy models to maximize Soul Harvester and Hordes warbeasts to get the most from Dragon Slayer. Undead models and lots of warjacks are not his thing.
While Venethrax has two powerful spells in Dragon Slayer and Lamentation, both are SELF only. He can use one at a time, and switching between the two during the battle can be dangerous if he hasn’t harvested enough souls.
Also, while Venethrax can really rough up light infantry, heavy infantry with their multiple hit boxes can ignore his Caustic Presence and the damage from Charnel House without too much trouble. They also offer him less chances to collect souls.
SYNERGIES: Without debuffs, Venethrax needs troops that are self-reliant. This means models like Banes under Bane Lord Tartarus, Satyxis Raiders, Blood Witches, Revenant Crew with Captain Rengrave, and other models that can reliably hit their targets.
With Bane Thralls supporting him with Dark Shroud, other units collecting souls, and Dragon Slayer active, Venethrax is very capable of taking down any enemy warjack or warbeast on his own. Alternately, don’t be afraid to take a beefy Cryx warjack. With a heavy or two and soul collecting units, Venethrax can keep his warjacks fueled and happy, and he can hang back with Lamentation up to mess with the enemy caster.
With Caustic Presence, anything that causes Corrosion is going to get a boost. Bile Thralls and a Defiler anyone?
JUST FOR FUN: Need to charge a gun-line? Worried about getting there in one piece? Does Everblight’s Eyeless Sight have you down? Not to worry!
Take a minimum sized unit of Revenant Crew and another melee unit with Reach. Satyxis Raiders will work for this example. Run the Revenant Crew up with 5 models spaced apart in a line abreast. Keep the leader back as far as possible.
Activate Venethrax and use his feat.
Have the Satyxis Raiders charge the Revenant Crew in the back. They should be easy pickings (effective DEF 10 against MAT 6), and will burst into a wall of flame the enemy cannot see through.
Move your army up under the flaming wall cover. Next turn, the Revenant models revive. No losses! This technique can be expanded with two Revenant units for an even larger flame wall.
SUMMARY: When Venethrax gets going, he can be flush with ridiculous amounts of Focus. When the enemy composition doesn’t include warbeasts or plenty of living infantry, he can feel a little underwhelming. He is not bad. I find him an absolute blast to play, but his performance will depend on your opponent’s army much more than other Cryx casters.