Infantry may not be the stars of Warmachine, but that doesn’t make them any less important. From screening high priority targets to overwhelming a foe with sheer numbers, infantry plays a critical role, especially in the armies of Cryx. Today, I’m taking a look at our character unit, the Withershadow Combine.
IN SHORT: With solid defensive stats and a slew of special abilities, the Withershadow Combine can tip the balance in Cryx’s favor and even construct whole warjacks during the battle! No, seriously, they can do that!
STRENGTHS: The three Iron Liches of the Withershadow Combine bring a diverse and powerful set of abilities to the tabletop. Let’s step through them.
All three members come with Dismantle. This gives them an extra damage die in melee against warjacks. Combined with a base P+S 13 and their ability to buy new attacks if they have souls, the Withershadow Combine can inflict a tremendous amount of pain on a warjack, which is just awesome because …
The ability Dark Industries allows the Withershadow Combine to build new Cryx warjacks out of enemy warjacks! There are a few conditions to pull this off. All three Iron Liches must be present and be engaging the enemy warjack in melee when one of them destroys it. After that, replace the enemy warjack with an equivalent-sized Cryx warjack of your choice. Note that the new warjack is autonomous, and so does not start in your warcaster’s battlegroup.
Also, Dark Industries does NOT work on Colossi, so no free Krakens, because that would be silly.
The Withershadow Combine also has strong defensive stats. As long as the leader, Maelovus, is alive, the unit has Stealth. Add in DEF 14, ARM 16, and 5 hit boxes each, and the Combine is fairly resilient by Cryx standards, especially at range.
Each Lich can cast Dark Fire, a decent attack spell that collects the soul of destroyed living models, allowing the Combine to inflict damage at range and stock up on souls for a later attack (such as an attempt to pull off Dark Industries). With a respectable magic attack of 7, they can certainly pull this off. Oh, and they also come with Terror.
In addition to these abilities, the other two Iron Liches have their own special abilities. Admonia allows a warcaster to upkeep one spell for free with her Black Arts ability. She can also clear all enemy upkeep spells within 5” with her Unbinding ability. This also inflicts D3 damage to the controlling model, per upkeep cleared, allowing Admonia to inflict some minor damage to the enemy warcaster or warlock.
Tremulus comes with an awe-inspiring ability: Puppet Master. Target a model or unit, friend or foe, and then chose a CMD, attack, or damage roll to reroll. You can even choose which dice to reroll, greatly increasing the odds of a favorable outcome. Seriously, how many uses are there for this ability? It is incredibly potent ability.
Under normal conditions, I put this ability on the warcaster. Cryx depend heavily on debuff spells. Missing a key debuff attack at a critical moment can be disastrous. But with Puppet Master active, you get a free do-over!
WEAKNESSES: At 5 points, the Withershadow Combine is a bit pricey. They’re almost the cost of three separate solos, though it’s a fair price for what they bring. Stealth can help protect them at range, but there are plenty of ways an enemy can bypass that defense. Plus, if Maelovus goes down, so does Stealth.
That leads to the toughest part of pulling off a successful Dark Industries attack: all three Iron Liches have to be alive. Take out any one of them and your opponent takes out the Dark Industries threat.
And naturally, if there are no warjacks in your opponents army, Dark Industries and Dismantle have no effect. That doesn’t mean the Withershadow Combine is bad against Hordes, just that they’re not quite as versatile.
SYNERGIES: From allowing rerolls of attack spells to upkeeping for free, the Withershadow Combine can help out almost any Cryx warcaster. The one possible exception is Goreshade the Bastard, who lacks upkeep spells. That doesn’t mean the Combine is bad with him, just maybe not an ideal combination.
Warwitch Sirens are great toolkit solos to have around, and their Power Booster can come in handy if the Withershadow Combine pulls off a successful Dark Industries. Remember, the new warjack is not automatically part of the warcaster’s battlegroup, and so cannot be allocated Focus. The Warwitch Siren allows you to bypass this problem by using Power Booster to give the new warjack a Focus token.
Lastly, since Dark Industries requires all three Iron Liches to engage the target warjack in melee, it can be tricky to wear the warjack down AND leave enough room for the Combine. Infantry with Reach, such as Bane Knights, can certainly help deal out damage while keeping space open for the Combine to finish the warjack off.
JUST FOR FUN: Executing Dark Industries on a full strength target is normally not the best idea. Ideally, a warjack should be softened up before the Combine moves in for the kill. But how soft does the target need to be? Let’s assume a charge attack with no extra souls available for additional attacks. Even against a Khador warjack, the Combine will do an average of 21 points of damage.
Obviously, there are a lot of permutations that can affect the outcome. But in general, if a warjack is at roughly half-health, it can be a good opportunity for the Combine to strike. Note that if the target has a defensive upkeep spell, consider having Admonia clear it with Unbinding instead of attacking.
SUMMARY: The Withershadow Combine is a powerful character unit with a diverse set of abilities. While their flashiest abilities are geared towards taking down warjacks, that is nowhere near the extent of their usefulness. From clearing enemy upkeeps, setting up strategic rerolls, and adding some extra Focus efficiency, the Withershadow Combine can find a place in almost any Cryx army.