IN SHORT: Cryx is a faction spoiled for awesome infantry. At the high end of our impressive arsenal sit the Banes. Powerful, feared weapon masters through and through, the Banes can lay waste to enemy armies, and are made even more dangerous when accompanied by Bane Lord Tartarus.
WHY BANES? Banes are weapon masters. With P+S 11 attacks and 4 damage dice on the charge, they hit hard. That by itself is bad enough, but they’re also undead. It doesn’t matter how many casualties they take, they’re going after your opponent until every last Bane has been dropped.
That’s a good thing because they’re not the fastest infantry in the Cryx arsenal. In a faction that often emphasizes speed, the base Bane SPD of 5 can seem underwhelming. However, that SPD 5 is actually misleading because Banes can benefit from the impressive abilities of Bane Lord Tartarus. In fact, Tartarus is a huge reason to take Banes, in and of himself.
All Banes can benefit from Tartarus’s ability to Curse an enemy model or unit. Banes attacking a Cursed model get +2 attack rolls and +2” movement on the charge (including Tartarus himself). Oh, and there’s no roll to hit for Curse. It’s point-and-click simple to use.
That +2” is pretty good by itself, but where it gets absolutely insane is when Tartarus uses Death Toll. When Tartarus kills a living model, he creates a small-based Bane that appears within 3” of him and in unit cohesion of a friendly Bane unit. This can be a unit that has not activated yet. So not only can these new Banes appear right in your enemy’s face, but they can still benefit from Curse AND activate that very same turn! That’s just sick!
On top of that, Bane Lord Tartarus has Thresher and Reach, so he has the capacity crank out quite a few extra models. He’s pricy as a 4 point solo, but you definitely get what you pay for.
There are two types of Banes: Knights and Thralls. Both have strengths and weaknesses. But which is better? Let’s take a look, shall we?
BANE KNIGHT STRENGTHS: Knights are great at bypassing obstacles and penalizing your opponents. Ghostly is a fantastic ability that allows them to speed through terrain, walk through walls, and ignore free strikes. Thralls can’t do that without a warcaster’s support.
Vengeance acts as both an offensive and a defensive ability. Offensively, extra attacks are always nice. Defensively, it discourages piecemeal attacks. Killing one Knight results in all other Knights getting a free 3” move and a free attack. That is not a good exchange for your opponent! When Thralls take casualties, they just take them.
On top of this, Knights have Reach. Reach combined with a Vengeance move can give Knights a 4.5” threat range advantage over Thralls. When factoring in how they ignore terrain, this can be huge!
As a nice little bonus, Knight also have +1 ARM over Thralls, giving them a little extra durability.
BANE THRALL STRENGTHS: Two words, Dark Shroud. I absolutely love this ability! Bane Thralls are walking debuffs. They don’t even have to hit their opponents. Just engaging them in melee drops their ARM by 2, and there is no defense against this ability!
Not only does this make Thralls hit harder than Knights, but it also acts as a force multiplier. Any other model attacking the same target benefits from the Bane’s Dark Shroud. Cryx debuffs make everything better, and Thralls are debuffs.
Bane Thralls also come with Stealth, which helps mitigate their losses on the approach. They can also gain Tough through a powerful unit attachment, granting them even more durability. An opponent may be able to bypass one of these defenses, but probably not both, and not for the whole unit. Even better, the attachment officer has Dead Rise, which will allow knocked down survivors of Tough rolls to stand up for free in the maintenance phase. Overall, Thralls have more staying power than Knights for this reason, even with the Knights’ ARM advantage.
Finally, Thralls are cheaper. Even with a max unit and the attachment, they only cost 1 point more than Knights, and that set up comes with two extra Banes.
VERDICT: It is almost never a bad idea to put Banes in a Cryx army. Both Knights and Thralls can pull a lot of weight in an army list, and both are very valid choices. For me, it comes down to personal taste.
And my preferred choice is … Bane Thralls!
Bane Thralls are my absolute favorite Cryx infantry. They are the go-to models when I’m up against a tough opponent or I want to try something new, but still have a solid fallback. They consistently perform well in game after game after game.
It’s a close call, because both Thralls and Knights are fantastic units. But the Thralls edge out the Knights because of Dark Shroud. I’m a big fan of force multipliers, and Thralls perform that function nicely.