I know you wanted this sooner, but you know I actually have to test things a bit first… but now I feel I’ve got them figured out, so settle in guys because this will be a long one, and let me present one of the most important releases Cryx has had in years.
Yes I firmly believe these strapping undead heroes have brought new life to Cryx, and currently there’s a full unit in both my tournament lists. The Bane Riders bring something to our faction which many of our less obvious casters enjoy immensely, and work incredibly well with several of our powerhouse casters as well.
Operor vestri officium adveho quis may
In the very likely event that one of you nerds have a working knowledge of Latin and a vested interest in the Knights Templar, you may correct the above which should mean “do your duty, come what may”, which is exactly what the Bane Riders bring to Cryx as a faction: durability.
I don’t think I’ve ever been so wrong about a release as I was about the Bane Riders, but Privateer Press gave me EXACTLY what I wanted most, and no bullshit about it either. There’s not much more I can say without diving into stats and abilities, so let’s get our feet wet shall we.
Speed & Threat
The first thing you’ll notice is the very low speed of 7, which for a cavalry unit is about as slow as they come, but don’t be fooled because the Bane Riders are threat range monsters. The Bane Riders have built in reach, so without anything else they threaten twelve inches, which is more than most infantry, so without any other effect they’re fast enough to alpha, but it gets a lot better.
Curse [Bane Riders] – RNG CMD. Target enemy model/unit. If the model/unit is in range, it is cursed. A friendly Bane Riders model charging a cursed model gains +2” movement. Friendly Bane Riders models gain +2 to attack rolls against cursed models. Curse can be used once per activation. And lasts one turn.
Bane Riders are banes, and as such they have access to Tartarus and his curse, turning them into speed nine cavalry on the charge, which is about as fast as cavalry come since they also have reach, and Privateer Press decided on solving the Tartarus character restriction issues by simply building in a curse on the Bane Rider leader as well.
- Hint: The curses do not stack, but two curses are useful as cursing multiple units or impact attack targets can be useful.
- Hint: You can charge with the Bane Rider leader and curse, then charge with the remaining Bane Riders.
The Bane Riders now threaten fourteen inches, but since they’re undead we can also apply Darragh Wrathe with Death Ride, and we end up with a cavalry unit threatening up to fifteen inches, which is downright crazy and makes stealing the initiative a breeze in most games.
The second part of the deal is that they’re cavalry, which means they have access to a bunch of very confusing rules, several of which influence their threat range and target options. I’ll take them one at the time when it’s relevant, but first up is impact attacks.
- Impact attacks: If a charging cavalry model contacts another model during its movement and has moved at least 3 ˝, it stops and makes impact attacks with its mount against all models in the mount’s melee range. These attacks are voluntary which is important to know.
This took me a while to get used to, because I had never really used non-light cavalry before, but impact attacks can really mess up an opponent if you know what you’re doing, and mess up yourself if you don’t. This is mainly because of the three inch clause on the impact attacks, because once the Bane Riders get stuck in the mount is useless, and few opponents so far have allowed me to freely IA my way through their screens.
- Hint: If you declare an IA on your charge target and kill it, you continue your charge the full distance, which usually lands you in some silly situations and also counts as failing your charge. This also leads to all kinds of stupid guessing because people rarely measures exactly how far it moved before impacting, so players have no idea where it’s supposed to end up.
- Hint: Impact attacks hit everyone in your mounts melee range, and since it’s a POW 12 mount you really don’t want it kicking your own models in the face. This also takes time getting used to, but remember that IA is an optional bonus, and sometimes it’s just better not to kick his face.
The real kicker with impact attacks is, that if your IA target survives and is blocking your charge lane you stop and fail your charge. These two problems combine to make impact attacks downright dangerous if your planning to curse something with the unit leader, so be damn sure you know what you’re doing there.
Secondly the Bane Riders have two other cavalry rules called ‘Tall in the saddle’ and ‘Cavalry charge’, which are both pretty easy rules to use but fucking impossible to remember in the heat of the moment, because these two rules affect the way you declare charges and swing at models you couldn’t normally see.
- Cavalry charge: When declaring a charge target, cavalry models ignore intervening models with bases smaller than their own.
- Tall in the saddle: Cavalry models ignore intervening models with bases smaller than their own when making melee attacks.
This means that the Bane Riders can declare charges while ignoring small and medium bases, which combines nicely with the impact attacks to allow you the option of declaring and charging straight through screens that block line of sight, and Tall in the saddle allows you to swing across lines of small and medium bases as well.
Now charging through lines isn’t usually much fun for cavalry as most good screens have Reach and hit hard on free strikes, so Privateer Press built in Ghostly so you wouldn’t have to worry about it, and ghostly also happens to be a great ability because of Ride by attack.
- Ride by attack: A cavalry model can combine its normal movement and action in a ride-by attack. Declare that the model is doing so at the beginning of its normal movement. The model makes a full advance and can halt its movement at any point to make its combat action.
Combined with ghostly the Bane Riders circumvent the usual doom of a cavalry unit, which is getting bogged down by random chaff, because here you can simply swing at them and then leave, allowing other models to finish them or get in the way.
This is still something I often forget about, but with reach the Bane Riders have a nine inch non-linear threat and they ignore both free strikes and every piece of terrain they can move entirely past, making them downright slippery if an opponent doesn’t kill them on the round they engage.
I kick your face!
Now even with all this speed and those fancy rules, some nitwits still complained about the lack of Weapon Master on the riders. It’s true that point for point the Bane Riders fall way behind on damage, but comparing them to Bane Thralls/Knights who both have average damage rolls that make people vomit might be slightly unfair.
Bane Riders have Brutal Charge, so with an average damage of 25-26 on a charge they’re hardly wusses, and we have several casters that can crank them up to 30+ on average damage rolls, which combined with their extreme threat ranges makes some really broken alpha rounds possible, and of course being cavalry they’re highly accurate.
- Cavalry charge: A cavalry model gains +2 to charge attack rolls. Impact attacks do not receive this bonus.
Cryx has historically had easy access to solid MAT scores, but Bane Riders take this to a whole new level, as they can achieve MAT 10 on their charge attacks without any help. If you add a buff/debuff they become surgically accurate, and with some of our casters they can hit Iron Flesh Kayazy Assassins on less than average dice.
Bane Riders also have impact attacks as already discussed, but combine with their curse and high threat their potential for carnage is pretty impressive on the round they hit the lines (they often have to spend the following round lining up for another charge though).
- Hint: You cannot use their curse when stopping to make impact attacks, but you can curse after the leader model finishes his charge move, but before the remaining Bane Riders begin their charge, allowing them to gain +2 to impact attack rolls (assuming you have line of sight to curse that model/unit).
The mounts have an impressive POW of 12, and since many of our casters use debuffs or damage roll buffs, the actual POW of those impact attacks can turn ugly really fast, and I’ve had them trounce medium to heavy infantry units without ever getting to swing their swords.
The destructive potential of this unit comes mostly from the interaction between cavalry rules and Cryx buffs/debuffs, but in truth this is the only part I don’t much like about the Bane Riders because it seems a bit ‘bland’ really. Brutal Charge is not exactly exciting, and they’ve got no flashy moves like Toughalos or lighting leaps like Lancers, but there’s no denying that they kill bugs good.
On the rounds where they don’t charge they’re sort of pathetic though, with just one attack and P/S 13, but thankfully there are solutions to this issue built in. The first and most obvious of these is simply to keep charging, but games don’t always allow this so instead there’s the already mentioned combination of ride by attacks and ghostly.
This is quickly becoming a favorite of mine, because declaring a ride by attack allows you to swing at whatever engages you and then simply leave. This can help you grab zones, line up for charges, or simply get to models you want dead after which you can return to blocking the lane you were in.
- Hint: Don’t swing a and leave unless you can jam whatever you left behind, because otherwise you’re just giving them the option to charge you, and you would have been better of relying on your armor against models with no charge bonus.
Finally there are quite a few of our casters that can help with this ‘after the charge turn’ problem, and especially the ones with access to Curse of shadows or control feats help alleviate the problem.
Suck it long, and suck it hard Cygnar!
The Bane Riders are base armor eighteen… this was so unexpected that for several days I couldn’t see anything other than that when looking at their stats, because I had wished so hard for a high armor unit like this but never expected to actually get it.
This level of armor makes the Bane Riders nigh immune to most of the things that will ruin a Cryx players day, which is nothing short of bloody amazing. The Bane Riders can charge straight at Gun Mages, through covering fire, or catch on fire and keep trucking while laughing at Chain lightning and Ashes to ashes.
This level of armor also interacts well with the few armor buffers we have, who can make the Bane Riders into targets only heavies, weapon masters, and boosted attacks can touch, which is something we’ve never had before and something that levels the playing field against many of the match-ups that were really hard before.
- Hint: Bane Riders have an ability which is not shown on the card, and it’s called ‘allergy to weapon masters’. With their low defense most weapon master will kill a Bane Rider on average charge dice, so keep those little bastards away from them.
Another aspect of their survivability is their long threat range and high speed, which a canny player can use to avoid the obvious threats to their survivability. There’s zero reason to charge them into an enemy unit of Bane Thralls, if you can simply change flanks with your superior speed and maneuverability.
In the games I’ve had so far the Bane Riders usually suffer from being strangely magnetic, and it seems that every spell, gun, or ability is aimed at them. This is fine though, because it means that all the little guys aren’t taking those bullets, and each Bane Rider takes serious effort to kill.
How to Bane ride
The Bane Riders can do many interesting things, but strangely they’re not a front line unit despite everything I’ve said so far. The most accurately I can describe the part I’ve got them playing now is ‘attacking midfielder’, and if you don’t know the football/soccer terminology:
An attacking midfielder is a very valuable part of the team. They have defensive duties of course, but their main job is to link up with and support the strikers on the team.
This means that the Bane Riders are usually found in the middle of the field, immediately behind the first wave, where they will contest while waiting to see where they’re needed. In this capacity I can use them in two main ways, which is to either enforce an attack or to stop a breakthrough.
Using them as attackers will usually happen when the rest of my forces leave an important target barely alive (like a heavy Warbeast with a handful of boxes left). Then a couple of Bane Riders will split away from the group and go finish the job, while the rest stay back to contest.
- Hint: This tactic requires you to have a firm grasp of your unit coherency and leader position, as with only eight inch CMD it can be tricky to keep everyone in the bubble.
I tried using them on flanks and they’re not bad out there with their long threat range, but having a durable unit with silly long threat range parked contesting the zones/flags/objectives is just pure gold (especially with an armor buff caster).
In some ways they play a little like Terminus, moving up just behind the main assault while you’re trying to remove the most credible threats to their survival, but this requires the rest of the list to be incredibly fast which luckily is something Cryx does well.
I’ve experimented with several ways of using the Bane Riders, but so far the attacking midfielder has been the only style where I’ve felt they were worth their full eleven points, with the flanking style being occasionally useful depending on the enemy setup.
Ghostly riders in the sky!
Now the obligatory walkthrough of Cryx casters. I simply haven’t had time to play them with our ever growing number of competitive casters, so I’ll limit myself to the casters were I have something useful to say.
- Asphyxious 1 (Highly recommended)
Hell yes on the Bane Riders! Iron Lich Asphyxious likes models with a high accuracy, and Bane Riders can push themselves very high indeed. Asphyxious also has several damage buffs, and they all add to the damage of Bane Rider mounts as well, allowing some truly disgusting mini-threshers. Bane Riders also bring their own terrain circumvention, making them perfect for Asphyxious 1.
- Deneghra 1 (recommended)
Deneghra 1 doesn’t really need them, but in my newest incarnation of the Deneghra 1 ranged list they serve as anchor and counter charge unit, allowing the Skarlock to spend his Ghost Walk on the ranged units I need to pull out of harms way. They don’t bring her anything new, but they’re a solid choice.
- Deneghra 2 (recommended)
Like Deneghra 1 she doesn’t really need them, but the interaction of her feat and Curse of shadows, have allowed me to pull some seriously surprising assassinations, charging the Bane Riders through the lines after having locked down the enemy a round before.
- Goreshade 2 (Auto-include)
I’ve only faced this and not played it myself, but Occultation, terrain circumvention, and Goreshade 2 bringing them back with full health on his feat turn was impressive to say the least, and with Curse of shadows to support them, and a swarm of other banes to handle the chaff, they really did some work.
- Skarre 1 (Auto-include)
Bane Riders were simply made for Skarre 1, as they bring everything she needs (high threat, high ARM, and terrain circumvention) while she makes everything they do ten times more dangerous. Bane Riders with Dark Guidance and curse will hit anything on average dice, while being P/S 20 and ARM 23 on her feat round. This combination is borderline broken.
Edit: Thank you Lambstar for mentioning, that Bane Riders are lovely for Skarre bombs, as a POW 18 Sacrificial Strikes are darn impressive.
- The Witch Coven (Highly recommended)
Like Asphyxious 1 the WCoG likes self-reliant units, and with a combination of Blood Witches, the Kraken, and the Bane Riders I think the WCoG gained high level tournament potential. Curse of shadows interact well with Bane Riders, and Occultation makes them jizz their pants.
I’m sure Goreshade3, Scaverous, and Skarre2 will like them, and quite possibly Asphyxious3 as well. Venethrax will most likely have some new friends as well, and I’m also thinking a fast attack Terminus list could be fun. All in all there are a LOT of our casters that should seriously consider bringing more banes, but banes on ponies.