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 Blackbane’s Ghost Raiders.
IN SHORT: Who doesn’t like zombie pirates? Well, these are GHOST zombie pirates! On FIRE!
STRENGTHS: Blackbane’s Ghost Raiders are Incorporeal! This isn’t a lone solo like the Pistol Wraith, but an entire unit of up to 10 bodies that are immune to non-magical damage and can walk through walls or even enemy troops. Granted, they lose their Incorporeal status for one round when they attack, but this is still a terrifying ability to deal with.
If that wasn’t enough, their attacks set enemy models on fire. Not critical fire, mind you. Continuous Fire! Even if they don’t kill their target, there’s a chance the enemy will just burn to death. Fire is a powerful and dangerous continuous effect that a lot of models do not want to get hit with. Many warcasters are especially vulnerable to continuous fire, because fire does its damage before they replenish their Focus. As an added bonus, their attacks are also magical.
Finally, because of these abilities, the Ghost Raiders are a huge free strike threat. Often the best move is to run them forward and engage as many enemy models as possible (though watch out for enemies with magical weapons). Many models simply aren’t equipped to handle Incorporeal units, nor risk a MAT 8 or 9 free strike with P+S 10 and boosted damage.
In response, your opponent may: (A) Move away, risking the free strike and the new Ghost Raider. (B) Move in models capable of dealing with the Ghost Raider, taking them from other parts of the battle. (C)Spend valuable Focus to blast the Ghost Raider with magic. (D) Glare at the Ghost Raider in frustration and do nothing.
Any of these results can be useful, making the Ghost Raiders premier disruption units.
WEAKNESSES: With MAT 6 (except for Blackbane, who has MAT 7) and a single P+S 10 attack, Ghost Raiders can struggle to do damage. This is why using free strikes is my favorite strategy with them, since the +2 MAT and boosted damage roll helps bring them up to respectable levels. They’re also pricey at 9 points for a full unit, which puts them in competition with many other excellent Cryx infantry units that are harder hitting and easier to use for a similar price.
And while Reanimation is a great ability, it goes away as soon as Blackbane is taken out. Smart opponents will target Blackbane first, so watch out and try to protect him.
Finally, magic and magical weapons bypass Incorporeal. Without Incorporeal for protection, the Ghost Raiders are easy targets with only DEF 13 and ARM 12. Magical ranged attacks are especially painful! Incorporeal grants them superb mobility. Use it to keep them safe!
SYNERGIES: The Ghost Raiders can walk through walls and enemy troops. Why not use them with Epic Deneghra’s Marked for Death spell? Not only does Marked for Death drop enemy DEF by 2, it also allows them to be targeted regardless of line of sight. Nice!
The Wraith Engine can provide a welcome boost to the Ghost Raiders while they’re Incorporeal and in its generous command range. Between the Wraith Engine’s clouds and its Unhallowed ability, it can mean the difference between DEF 13 ARM 12 Raiders and DEF 15 ARM 14 Raiders immune to blast damage. Not too bad.
Finally, Captain Rengrave is a solid addition with his Veteran Leader [Revenant] ability, giving a +2 bonus to Revenant model attack rolls if they can see Rengrave. With smart positioning, those free strikes suddenly became a terrifying MAT 10!
JUST FOR FUN: If you’re taking Ghost Raiders, why not load up on Incorporeal models to saturate your opponent’s ability to handle them? Taking Ghost Raiders with Machine Wraiths, Pistol Wraiths, Wraith Engines, Epic Deneghra, and Blood Witches with Blood Hag can overwhelm your opponent’s ability to cope. This can lead to a somewhat unbalanced army list, but also a fun one.
SUMMARY: Normally, Blackbane’s Ghost Raiders aren’t going to deal a ton of damage. What they excel at is charging into the enemy ranks and causing absolute chaos. They’re nowhere near as straightforward to use as most Cryx infantry, but their ability to disrupt the enemy’s plans is a powerful and welcome addition.