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 Asphyxious the Hellbringer.
IN SHORT: Hey, someone spilled Menoth in my Cryx … and I think I like it!
STRENGTHS: Asphyxious the Hellbringer has an amazing suite of support spells that are very unusual for Cryx. It is these spells that truly define his role as a warcaster. Let’s step through them.
First, there’s Carnage. Any Cryx models in Asphyxious’ control area get +2 to melee attack rolls. Ouch! Cryx has no shortage of powerful melee models, and Asphyxious can make any of them hit more often.
Next up, there’s Scything Touch, a returning spell from Iron Lich Asphyxious. This spell grants +2 melee damage to a friendly model or unit. It’s a great spell for enhancing a unit’s damage output. As an added bonus, the targets also gain Critical Corrosion.
Then there’s, Ashen Veil, which grants concealment to a friendly model or unit. It also causes living enemy models within 2” to suffer -2 on their attack rolls. Yikes! A defensive buff? In this army? Cryx has no shortage of models that would love to boost their defenses, and many already have very good DEF stats. This is a truly superb addition to our arsenal.
Now let’s take a look at Mobility. This spell may be battlegroup only, but it’s a solid one. It grants +2 SPD and Pathfinder for the cheap, cheap price of 2 Focus. While its primary use is to get warjacks into position, Asphyxious can enjoy its benefits as well.
And why wouldn’t he like that? With FOCUS 7, ARM 17, 18 hit boxes, and a P+S 16 beat stick, Asphyxious is no slouch up close and personal. Add Blood Boon on his sword, Daimonion, he wants to be in the thick of it. Take out a living model with his sword, and Asphyxious can cast a spell for free (once per activation).
On top of that, Asphyxious comes with two attack spells, Bone Shaker and Hex Blast, the latter of which is great for clearing enemy upkeeps and animi. He also comes with a versatile feat, Rites of Shadow, which can be used both defensively and offensively. Every time an enemy is forced, casts a spell, or spends Focus / Fury, Asphyxious gets a soul token and heals d3 damage. Just bunker down for your opponent’s big swing, then punish them hard the next round.
Oh, and he even has his own pet Skarlock.
Yes, let’s not forget Vociferon. This unique Skarlock comes with Soul Collector and Death Harvest. This means Vociferon can collect soul tokens in his command range and then transfer them to Asphyxious in the Maintenance Phase. Oh, and he’s also an Arc Node. You know, in case the soul gathering thing wasn’t cool enough.
WEAKNESSES: Carnage and Mobility are not upkeeps. Between recasting these two spells (as needed) and upkeeping Ashen Veil and Scything Touch, Asphyxious is going to feel the drain on his Focus reserves. Add in the fact that he’s a nice, juicy medium base target, and suddenly leaving him drained of Focus doesn’t look like such a smart idea.
Blood Boon, Vociferon, and the feat do help with Focus efficiency. However, none of these are without risk. Vociferon has to be far enough forward to collect those souls, leaving him vulnerable to attack. The Rites of Shadow has a similar problem, though not as pronounced. And Blood Boon requires Asphyxious to engage the enemy directly.
Asphyxious also can’t employ a standard Skarlock. While Vociferon is great, he’s trickier to use. Plus, Asphyxious has Scything Touch, a spell that is just begging to be bounced around from unit to unit to unit. Without a normal Skarlock to act as a Spell Slave, shifting a powerful upkeep around is a lot more difficult.
Finally, Asphyxious needs living models for their souls. Without them, he cannot operate at peak efficiency. Though honestly, that’s sort of like saying, Asphyxious is in Cryx.
SYNERGIES: Asphyxious’s support spells can produce a diverse set of benefits for basically any model in the Cryx arsenal, but there are a few combinations that really stand out.
Satyxis Raiders are a great target for Ashen Veil. With base DEF 14, Force Barrier from a Satyxis Raider Sea Witch, and Ashen Veil, they’re at an amazing DEF 18 at range and a potent DEF 16 in close against living models.
Scything Touch can be used with any number of powerful melee units, but Mechanithralls are my favorite. Not only are they dirt cheap, but each has two attacks. A full unit of Mechanithralls can put out 20 attacks. With Scything Touch, that’s a damage output swing of 40 hit boxes. You won’t typically see that much benefit, but the potential is there.
And with two great upkeep spells, who can forget the Withershadow Combine. With them in tow, they can help lighten Asphyxious’ Focus load. As a bonus, they’re a unit, so they’re valid targets for Scything Touch or Ashen Veil, as the situation dictates.
JUST FOR FUN: Asphyxious may not be geared towards supporting warjacks, but that doesn’t mean he should ignore them. Mobility brings extra speed to the already swift warjacks of Cryx, and there are plenty of ways to use this.
The Cankerworm stands out as particularly impressive because, due to Affinity [Asphyxious], it gets a free move if it ends its activation in Asphyxious’ control area. Now who doesn’t like an extra fast armor-piercing warjack, ping-ponging back and forth, eating your opponents wreck markers and taking their weapons? I know I like it!
SUMMARY: Asphyxious the Hellbringer has an amazing range of abilities and can support a wide variety of army compositions. With a truly unique spell list for Cryx, he is one warcaster that will make an excellent addition to any player’s collection.