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The Eclectic Gamer’s Guide to Lich Lord Asphyxious

After having only played two casters for the couple of months leading up to TempleCon I feel like I’ve gotten a pretty good grasp of them. One of those was Lich Lord Asphyxious. He has long been my favorite caster and I ended up playing him exclusively at the High Noon tournament at TempleCon. I ended up 3-1 losing only to the eventual second place finisher before taking off. Hopefully some of the insight I have gained will help those looking at the Lich Lord. This is a long one so brace yourselves.

Stats:

The Lich Lord doesn’t have any extraordinary statistics. His MAT is not pitiful so you can hit things on the off time when you need to. His focus is nice and high.

DEF 16 is what I personally start to think of as ‘high’. At 16, even your MAT 7 troops need 9s to hit. The bell curve gets pretty steep at that point and you either need a lot of attacks, defense debuffs(which still need to hit), or boosts.

After that short rant, the Lich Lord is not that high but it still protects him against some attacks but won’t do much against a dedicated assassination.

Abilities:

He is of course Undead. His other abilities Terror and Cull Soul are nice but very rarely come into play as you usually don’t want him that close to the enemy.

Weapons:

Daeamortus firstly has an awesome name. Great POW with Reach so if you need it, you can lay a little smack down. The reach is quite useful for being able to get a charge off to extend your feat threat range. You want the extra 3″ from a charge to get closer to the target, or to get a better angle. More on the feat next but I usually charge one of my own models before feating and the reach gives you more options on where to end up.

The Soul Reaper ability looks fantastic on the surface but I have found that it doesn’t really gel with my play style. You have to get within 14″ of a whole group of targets and then make sure you can kill them. I usually have my troops way far ahead with Asphyxious hanging back so it doesn’t see play too often. However, if you play much more front line, or don’t run everything so far ahead, I can definitely see how it would come into play more.

Feat:

This is Epic Asphyxious’s bread and butter. This is his thing, and it is really powerful. You bring 10 warrior models back to the table as solos for the turn.

This is usually what you will use to win the game one way or another. I’ll discuss it more under the Winning section

Remember that the models are placed within 3″, not completely within 3″ which means that you can place that Soulhunter with just a fraction of his base within 3″ and with the size of his base, he gets pretty close to the target.

Also it has been ruled that if you bring back a model that has already activated this turn, it cannot activate again since it is the exact same model. So no more attacking with a model, killing it yourself then bringing it back or intentionally getting a model killed with free strikes to bring it back. You can kill it before it activates, however.

If you, for whatever reason, you cannot get to their caster, the feat can also be used to decimate their army.

Spells:

Caustic Mist: The fact that this is not a upkeep makes it fabulous. You can cast it multiple times, throwing up a 9″ wall of cloud to prevent charges and ranged attacks. Troops can’t run in as they will instantly die. This is usually my plan in the first turn or two.

Death Knell: If they have clumped up their models it’s nice. If you just want to throw an AOE out there it’s nice but otherwise I rarely cast it.

Excarnate: Free Banes are fun and this is a good, high pow spell with a decent range. I don’t usually cast it with the purpose of getting a model, but it’s a nice side effect.

Hellbound: I cast it first turn and upkeep it most of the game. Gives you that added layer of protection. Pathfinder and the like are the only melee threats you will really fear.

Parasite: Standard spell and is very useful. That being said I usually only cast it on my feat target. You attack from so far away and want to keep your arc node safe that I rarely have a target before then.

Teleport: As if Caustic Mist and Hellbound weren’t enough, you can also just teleport out of harm’s way at the end of your activation. If you want to be sneaky you can walk up, throw down your soul reaper template and teleport back. Good to cast after using your feat.

Winning:

The feat is usually what is used to assassinate the opposing caster. Additionally, the feat models can be used to to win you a game by scenario. In the destruction scenarios, the objectives are usually easier to take out than the caster. In the control point scenarios it becomes a bit more difficult but the feat models can be used to blast the opponent’s models off of the objective and occasionally destroy models who are near enough to take the objectives next turn, allowing you to get them for two turns in a row.

The first question is which models to bring back. My usual list is 5 soulhunters, Bane Lord Tartarus(if he has died), 1 Bane Thrall(I always want 1 model with Dark Shroud on the target) and the rest Bane Knights.

I top choice is the Soulhunters for a couple of reasons. Firstly is threat range. They charge 11″ and have reach. Banes are close but that little extra is nice to have. Second is Tall in the Saddle and their large bases. One big problem for the feat turn is getting LOS to the target and getting past things in the way. All the feat models can move through things in their way, but if they can’t see, it doesn’t matter. The Soulhunters can see past that wall of models, and also attack over models closely guarding the target with their reach weapon. Additional reasons include MAT 8 on the charge and the multiple attacks. The 3 attacks is really nice because even if you need 10s to hit, one or two of them will land. Finally and perhaps most importantly is the light cav movement. After they have made their 3 attacks on the target they can move 5″ out of the way to allow the next models in. It is very difficult to get 10 models around a single model, now you don’t have to try.

I also like to have 1 model with the Dark Shroud ability to stand next to the target. If Tartarus cannot get there himself, or a “living” Bane Thrall can’t get in there, I bring one back to make sure I have it. +2 Damage on every attack makes sure the attacks that hit will do enough damage, espically against a high armor target. If the Thrall can get a weapon master attack in, so much the better.

You really want to have Tartarus curse your assassination target. It sounds basic, but it’s that important. Getting the curse on is more important than Tartarus hitting the target himself so I will often charge another model, kill it and then curse the caster, just to make sure he has the range/angle. This can be used to clear LOS for your other Banes as well.

The rest is just Bane Knights. MAT 8 with the curse, reach and Weapon Master makes them hit pretty well. They’re right around the same level of awesome as the Soulhunters, but for me the extra attacks, the big base and the light cav move put them over the top. If you’d rather spend the points on something other than Soulhunters and just use the knights, I couldn’t blame you.

Other models to bring back could include:
Pistol Wraiths – 2 Pow 12 RAT 7s isn’t bad now that they can shoot in melee. Death Chill can also protect you from retaliation if you fail.
Darragh Wrathe – Comes back dismounted but if you kill something to cast deathride you can get closer and get some better angles.
Slaughterborn – He’s okay, but he doesn’t hit much harder than a Bane Knight, costs 3 points and his base gets in the way.

Executing the Feat turn:
The first thing is estimating the distance for the feat. You can pull it off at extreme distances, but it will make it harder to get all your models in combat with the opposing caster. I usually charge my own model with eLich to get the maximum threat range which is ~ 6″ move + 3″ charge + 10″ Charge+Reach of the banes = ~19″. You get a extra distance from the placement of the feat models but not all of them will be able to get that close. Your closest Soulhunter could be placed an extra 5″ and has an extra inch of movement so the above estimate is very conservative. Also Darragh Wrathe can use death ride to give everyone an extra inch of movement.

Before you activate Asphyxious get an arc node in range to cast parasite on the opposing caster. This will go a long way toward helping the kill. Boost the to hit when you cast it and use your Combine’s Puppet Strings on Asphyxious so he can reroll the attack roll. It’s that helpful.

REMEMBER, the feat models are solos with their own activations. It is so easy to pop your feat and start activating feat models. Finish Asphyxious first. Cast whatever spells you need including parasite and possibly Teleport just in case.

I discussed most of the feat model tactics above. Some times you will need to open LOS for the feat models. This can be done with another feat model or with things like Pistol Wraiths and the shiny new Siren.

Many times, with Parasite and a Dark Shroud 1 or 2 Soulhunters will do the trick but you always want to play to get the most models charge lanes in case of terrible rolls. Remember Soulhunters get +2 MAT on the charge and can make an attack with their mount.

The Army:

The key is to bring enough models to bring back. I like to bring lots of extra so that I have options and I can be sure that enough have died.

Here are my typical choices:

Cankerworm: He’s just to good with either Asphyxious. The caustic mist is a nice addition. He can charge up, scuttle back and pop a cloud in front of him

Arc Nodes: I usually only bring one. He’s just there to sneak in for the kill. Sometimes he slams something for me. I go with a shooty one. Defiler if I have an extra point, Nightwrench otherwise.

Helldiver: I’ve started to add one of these at higher points. His burrowing allows me to line up a nice slam to knockdown pesky high DEF targets.

You may have noticed that I love Soulhunters. I like the max unit but min works too. If you bring them, Darragh Wrath is a great addition.

Bane Thralls/Knights: Knights give you the reach, Thralls have stealth, dark shroud and are cheaper. Knights are probably more effective on the feat turn but I solve the problem by bringing both. If you bring either then you must bring Bane Lord Tartarus. His curse is what allows the banes to actually hit. Try not to let him get removed from play. Killed is no problem. Removed from play messes up your Christmas.

Pistol Wraiths: I love them. The ability to halt a big jack or just clear a hole is great. And the ability to be brought back with the feat is nice.

Withershadow Combine: Provide a free upkeep, a nice reroll, some more ranged as well as some anti jack hitting if necessary. The models don’t hurt either.

My Typical Lists:

35:
Epic Asphyxious
Defiler
Cankerworm
Min Bane Thralls
Min Bane Knights
Bane Lord Tartarus
Max Soulhunters
Darragh Wrathe
Pistol Wraith

50:
Add:
Withershadow Combine
Pistol Wraith
Helldiver
Upgrade Bane Knights to Max

Other ideas:

A nice heavy ‘jack: Having a high MAT heavy can be a nice addition. I don’t typically run one but the ability to double handed throw something or simply lay down some smack after the feat has cleared some room is a nice punch to have. Slayer or Reaper is fine. Seether, Nightmare and Deathjack are more expensive but usually worth their points.

“Slammer”: As I will talk about soon, high DEF models are a problem. Bringing a model to lay down a slam or double handed throw is nice. This can be a Helldiver, Stalker, Heavy, whatever you like, but it’s something to think about.

Warwitch Siren: The only reason she isn’t in my lists is that she wasn’t out for TempleCon. I played her with Mortenebra and she was amazing. I would put 2 of her in there for the Helldiver or Pistol Wraith and downgrade the node. The sprays are great for clearing. Giving the arc node a focus, or moving a pain model out of the way.

There are not a lot of bad models in MkII so if there are models you like, give them a try. I haven’t played with everything. If you have your own thoughts, please let me know.

Pitfalls:

The biggest problem the Lich Lord has is high DEF casters.

DEF 15 or lower is the nicest. Your feat models are hitting on 7s and if you get parasite and dark shroud on them all you should need is a couple hits.

16 I am okay with as 8s with the number of attacks you’re throwing should be okay. Casters with that high a DEF usually don’t have too high an ARM so you probably only need 2 hits.

17 or higher is where you’re in trouble. Statistically, you’re looking at 2 or 3 of your charge attacks hitting but it’s pretty risky. If you can knock the caster down then you’re golden but otherwise, slightly below average dice and you’re in trouble.

When I’m playing a 2 list tournament, I have been bringing someone who can hit high DEF, namely Mortenebra.

Specific Caster Pitfalls:

Anything that decreases speed while in an area or prevents charging. The feat avoids a lot of abilities since they’re not present during the enemy’s turn.

Haley – Temporal Barrier stops your models from charging basically destroying your feat. Take your other list or just destroy her army.

Old Witch – At least it’s her feat that stops you. Just wait out the feat and do it next turn.

Zerkova – See Old Witch

eDenny – If Asphyxious got caught in her feat, you’ve probably lost. But if you survive you might be close enough to her to get her anyway. If she’s incorporeal camp some focus and hope for next turn.

Witch Coven – Get close or see Old Witch

eNemo – Polarity Shield. See Haley

eMagnus – See Old Witch

Adeptus Rhan – see eNemo

Final Thoughts:

I started playing eGaspy in MkI because I loved the imagery of the spectral legion and his model. It wasn’t until after I got the model that I realized how awesome he is. I played in my first real tournament with him and did pretty well. He’s my boy. He only got better in MkII because of some of his rule changes(Feat models not being damaged and removing upkeep from caustic mist) as well as other models getting better. He is one of the top tier casters now for Cryx so I feel a little bad playing him but I thought I would share my experiences.

-EG

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    • Von
    • February 28th, 2010

    Nice write-up there, chap. Interesting take on Soul Reaper, which I admit I have a bit of a hang-up over now that it can’t Reap friendly Souls (which made for some nice Catch-22 trickery if you placed the template over your own front-line Satyxis and just let the opponent decide whether it was worth killing them or not).

    I think it could still be a potential cornerstone of a different, less feat-focused playstyle than the one you describe, but I agree that the method you’re describing is probably the most efficient way of running him.

      • EclecticGamer
      • February 28th, 2010

      I’m also leery of planning my strategy around what my opponent has in his army. It would be difficult to work against a ‘jack heavy army, or another Cryx army or even a gunline.

      That being said, just taking a heavy and/or another arc node would leave you in a great position to take advantage or the extra souls.

    • Fujin
    • September 10th, 2012

    Just found your blog and there’s a bunch of fantastic stuff to chew through. Good write-up – eGaspy is up there on the “next models to purchase” front. One query though – I thought you couldn’t bring back large-based models with his Feat?

      • EclecticGamer
      • September 10th, 2012

      That is true now. He has had two sets of eratta released for him. When I wrote this, he could bring back large based models. I got into some forum arguments with people about whether soul hunters or bane knights were better. Someone at PP agreed with me an they changed his rules so that he couldn’t.

      It didn’t really change his play style much since banes are so good. Since then, they’ve released another eratta. Now the returned models gain ghostly instead of incorporeal. This will change his style. It is now much harder to get a crazy assassination run. It is better suited to attrition, using it to decimate the opponent’s forces or important pieces.

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