Spotlight: The Devil’s Shadow Mutineers

The Devil’s Shadow Mutineers were an unexpected treat when they arrived, and the more I use them the more amazing they become. They’re the answer to a lot of problems we’ve had for years, and to be honest they’re probably a little bit overpowered (nobody tell PP!!!)

Zira, Mar, and Morland

The Devil’s Shadow Mutineers are a six point package consisting of Zira, Mar, Morland, and Lord Rockbottom. In theory you can field them without Lord Rockbottom in some lists, but I wouldn’t recommend it, and in most cases the merry band of misfits also include Dougal MacNaile.


The Devil’s Shadow Mutineers have a new ability called Blood Bound. This is their version of recursion, which allows any member of the team to return other destroyed (not removed from play) members to play, by killing living enemy models

Blood Bound: When this model destroys a living enemy model with an attack, after the attack is resolved you can return one destroyed model in this unit to play. The model returns with five damage boxes, must be placed within 3″ of this model, and cannot activate the turn it returns to play. The destroyed model is removed from play but does not provide a corpse or soul token.

That right there is a solid ability. If Mar and Morland die you can have Zira kill two living enemy models, and both her melee goons return to play (although they cannot act in that turn they can still block lanes and make free strikes).

Hint: Devil’s Shadow Mutineers always remove living enemy models from play, even though the text seems to indicate that it only works when they bring someone back. This will be great in some match-ups and annoying in others.

If Zira dies it’s a bit harder, but you still have a shot at getting her back. This is important because they’re quite fragile, and because two of them are (mostly) melee models. In addition the Devil’s Shadow Mutineers are fearless and all carry magical weapons.


Zira has two Pistols (RAT 7 / RNG 8 / POW 10). She also has Eyeless Sight, Black Penny, Gunfighter, and Weapon Master on her guns. Digest that for a minute, and then add in Lord Rockbottom with Money Shot, which turns Zira up to RAT 9 / POW 12 with Weapon Master, which can easily kill casters.

Hint: Zira will hit models that are both engaged, concealed, and in even cover without breaking much of a sweat. She will one-shot enemy cavalry (two in a round), kill enemy casters, and gun down models your opponent can’t handle losing.

Zira can charge with Gunfighter, and because she’s in a unit you get to decide the order of attack. This means that Zira and at least one other member of the DSM declares a charge on the same model, and Mar/Morland kills the target before Zira attacks.

Hint: Never use a model with tough for this job, and make sure you place it so the relevant model gains back strike bonus when charging. Mechanithralls or other easily killed models are perfect for the job, but as long as it doesn’t have tough it’s usable.

Zira is then unengaged, and can shoot something else within her full range, which effectively puts her at 17″ threat. If you have Dougal in the mix she threatens a full 19″, and that’s far enough to threaten all but the most defensive casters. You could theoretically add Madelyn Corbeau as well, but supporting Zira can get expensive fast.


Mar is a Swashbuckler, which in game terms mean that when she makes a melee attack, her front arc extends to 360 degrees and she can make an attack against each model in her (non-reach) melee range.

Hint: The Swashbuckler ability can distinguish between friend and foe, so Mar can attack all enemies in her melee range while leaving her friends alone. This could be challenged in a tournament so here’s the relevant ruling from Macallan.

Issue: There seems to be some confusion about the interaction between Lord Rockbottoms ability ‘Payday’ and ‘Swashbuckler’ as well. I personally don’t think you can move between attacks, and I don’t think you get to move more than 1″, but I’m more than willing to be wrong.

Mar is also a Weapon Master, and the Swashbuckler ability means that hitting two models in a round should be possible, which is the magic number of kills if she’s all that remains of the unit.


Morland decided to bring a gun, but with his RAT 4 and lack of gun-related special rules, it’s mostly there for show (though it’s magic). Luckily Morland brought two power eleven cutlasses, which he can use to perform a power fifteen combo strike.

Hint: Think of Morland like an accurate Mechanithrall and you won’t be disappointing. If he can get in a charge he’ll do some serious damage, but he’s most useful as the second model to charge with Zira (due to his two initial attacks).

Hint: If you’re using Money Shot on the group you’re turning Morland up to RAT 6, so you might as well take a shot at something if you can. RAT 6 and POW 12 isn’t bad if something just happens to be in range, so keep that in mind when you’re planning the turn.

Like Mar he’s mostly there to reanimate Zira if she dies, but with Lord Rockbottom and Payday you can boost his attack rolls (and give him overtake, which might be nifty with him depending on the ruling), which makes it’s a bit easier to land his attacks on two different models in case he’s the last man standing.

Lord Rockbottom

While technically not part of the team he’s considered a Mutineer in my book. Lord Rockbottom assists with accuracy for the melee models (Morland & Mar), increases the accuracy and damage of the ranged models (Morland & Zira), and can grant the Devil’s Shadow Mutineers tough which they sorely need.

Hint: If you have a Parasite caster, free upkeep, and a Skarlock, you’ll find Lord Rockbottom the perfect target for a Parasite on the first couple of rounds. He’s down behind everything, his abilities have a long range, and he’s a low(ish) priority target.

Rockbottom also carries a flamethrower which is never a bad idea, and if you have other mercenary models in the list he’s a boon for their morale. I don’t think the Devil’s Shadow Mutineers work well without him, but others have disagreed.

Using the Mutineers

The key to getting the most out of the Mutineers is positioning. You don’t want them too far back because they’ll be out of position with their relatively short threat ranges (and enemy casters tend to hide down behind their lines). On the other hand you don’t want them too far up where they’ll get killed because of their squishy stats.

There’s no hard rule for this, but I’ve found that in order to be anywhere except too far back they have to bee too far ahead. This means that you need to protect them with everything you’ve got if you’re planning on using them offensively in the following round.

Hint: The Devil’s Shadow Mutineers are excellent late game models. They work well as sweepers in the early game with Ziras Black Penny ability, and then once everything is a clusterfuck in the middle she can assassinate out of nowhere.

You need to put them in some cover/concealment, block line of sight, give them tough or whatever you have available, because if your opponent knows what Zira can do he’s going to come gunning for her the second she becomes an available target.

More Mutineering!

The Devil’s Shadow Mutineers are still new pieces, and as with everything else it takes time and practice getting to know all the little nooks and crannies. Luckily there are others out there getting brilliant ideas, so here’s where I’ll be collecting the interesting moves and tactics when they pop up.

by Chris: Zira is usually deployed behind the two others, which can make it tricky to gain a charge bonus with Morland or Mar while still shooting with Zira. What you can do is declare a charge with the unit, and then charge either Morland or Mar with Zira. This allows Zira to end her charge in melee with her charge target and it’s a successful charge. THEN you run/charge out of Ziras line of sight with her charge target, leaving Ziras melee range, and Zira is free to shoot at something else (within her normal eight inch range). Thanks to Neldar for clearing up the rules surrounding this, and finding out that Zira will have to shoot at her charge target if she can still see it when her combat action begins.

(8/10 Lamoron approvals)

by Lazarus: Healing by extreme violence. If you have nothing better to do with a member of the DSM, and you’ve got a couple of guaranteed kills lined up for the surviving member(s), you can always kill the wounded models yourself. This not only allows you to ‘heal’ the models, but also to reposition them, and even add their corpses to a nearby Necrosurgeon. Just remember not to use a RFP effect to kill them.

(7/10 Lamoron approvals)

It’s truly amazing that a four point unit can have so many interesting plays and abilities, and I’m sure we’re not done exploring the wealth of awesome that is the Devil’s Shadow Mutineers.

Interesting interactions

There are actually quite a few models with interesting interactions and hidden gems. These range from extremely powerful to somewhat interesting, and it’s quite possible that I’ve missed some as the DSM are still quite new.

  • Bosun Grogspar [No sleeping on the Job]: Knockdown immunity to go with tough.
  • Doc Killingsworth [No I’m fine]: 4+ tough is nothing to sneeze at.
  • Lord Rockbottom [Paymaster]: So many already mentioned interactions.
  • Madelyn Corbeau [Intrigue]: Extend Ziras already impressive range.
  • Dougal MacNaile [Double Powder Ration]: Extends their already impressive range.
  • Nicholas Verendrye [Field Medic]: Grants tough without draining Rockbottoms coins.

Some of these are unlikely to be models you’ll include purely to support the DSM, but several of them are powerful enough to be included on their own merits, or may serve more than one function in a list when you consider it during list creation. Sadly First Mate Hawks abilities are all tied specifically to Sea Dog Boarding Crew, so she does nothing for the DSM.

Loyalty beyond death!

The best thing about the Devil’s Shadow Mutineers is how independently they work. With the standard six point package they can do well in any list, but of course some casters have tools to support them, turning them from awesome to ridiculous.

  • Deneghra1

The queen of debuffs took one look at the Mutineers and went GIEF NAU! Pop’n’drop was ridiculous before, but with Zira involved we need a new word. Deneghra1 can turn Zira into an abomination, rolling 3d6+17 on damage with each shot, and either hitting on 3+ (Scourge) or simply raising her RAT to stupid levels (she hits most casters on anything but snake eyes for Christs sake).

Deneghra1 also likes running living mercenaries, which lets Lord Rockbottom pull a bit more weight during the games. This might honestly be one of the best combinations in the entire game, as Zira can ignore stealth and hit high DEF models even though they’re immune to knockdown, which were two of the things stopping most pop’n’drops.

  • Deneghra2

While not as immediately powerful as Deneghra1, her Epic version still allows for some interesting plays. The DSM are not faction models so they benefit very little from Marked for Death (and Zira already ignores stealth/incorporeal), but landing a Curse of Shadows and using her feat still allows you some sneaky assassinations. Deneghra2 also finds herself using Nyss Hunters occasionally, which makes Rockbottom an even better investment.

  • Deneghra3

Though not fully spoiled at this time (22.05.2015) she has many of the things that make the DSM so good with Deneghra1. Mortality allows you to almost guarantee two kills from Zira without needing a Blood Hag (tough is annoying when you really need those two kills), and Scourge + Mortality means almost auto-hitting and doing 3d6+14 damage. Much like with Crippling Grasp, the application of Mortality also debuffs both DEF and ARM at the same time, which is pure gold for the DSM.

  • Goreshade3

Occultation is a godsend for the DSM, and a stationary caster with no focus/fury that barely manages to survive a Siphon Bolt assassination REALLY won’t appreciate getting tagged by Zira as well. It’s not the best combination in the game, and Goreshade3 has other things to spend his points on, but I think it deserves a mention.

  • Scaverous

With a liberal application of Telekinesis, Icy Grip, and Feast of Worms you can get some silly range and damage out of Zira. RAT 13, POW 14, and a theoretical 23″ assassination range might not be easy to achieve, but it sure sounds fun.

  • Skarre2

While Skarre2 only really helps Zira hit, the application of her feat allows you to push Zira forward into some really nasty positions. Again I’m unsure it’s worth bringing them in a Skarre2 list, but if you really fell like using them you could use them to apply some additional assassination pressure during the feat turn.

  • Everyone else

There’s no caster in Cryx that won’t appreciate two highly accurate shots that ignore half the rules in the game. The only thing making the DSM less than auto-include is the six point package price, which are points many casters need for other stuff that makes more sense for them.

The verdict

I honestly can’t see myself fielding a tournament setup without the DSM in at least one of my lists, because screw Gorman di Wulfe, screw Eiryss2, and screw every other stealth solo we couldn’t get our grubby mitts on before (at least without rolling well and/or sacrificing an Arc Node in the process). Zira will kill the enemy Tartarus, nuke the enemy Blood Hag, and if your enemy manages to kill her you send in her two goons and get her back.

11/10 possible stars.


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14 Responses »

  1. I share your sentiments exactly. I’ll just take the time to reiterate a strategy that has worked wonders for me in the past:

    Keep Zira behind the other members of the unit. There have been times when my opponent has pressed into my lines and I want to charge with the unit but don’t want Zira to be drawn out because they’re in a nice place on the board. What I’ll do is give the charge order, have Zira charge another member of the DSM first, then charge the other members. Because Zira ended in melee range of her charge target it’s a successful charge, but because her charge target is no longer in melee she’s free to target anything she wants. This isn’t a range extender like your sacrifice play but it lets you get the charge damage out of Zira’s sidekicks (they’re an amazing beast cleanup crew) while keeping our favorite pistoleer in place. Food for thought.

  2. Good writeup! Much love for the DSM :)

    Don’t forget that they’re a lovely source of RFP as well, which is becoming increasingly relevant in the current meta.

    Also something I noted in pg 2 of that forum thread: Killing your own DSM models with other members of the army (just not RFP types)!

    Why? Well this is quite nice if you aren’t planning on using them that turn anyway (frequently Mar/Morland) as you can teleport/heal them by bringing them back when Zira inevitably splats somebody. It’s a somewhat situtational trick but hilarious when you need it, because you can drop off her two goons in some really annoying places retroactively.

  3. Couldn’t agree more. I’ve been trying these guys out in mercs a bit, where they stand out as a strong unit probably more than in Cryx. They’re super fun to play and a great toolbox unit.

    “A bit overpowered” is probably a bit of an understatement, although time will tell. Zira could have been released as a 3 point solo, with no recursion mechanic, and few people would have complained. Look back at how excited mercs players were to run Gaston Crosse as a solo pistoleer a few months ago, and then compare his shooting to Zira’s, for reference.

  4. I guess the only thing that I’d add is that I think they’re better with Goreshade3 than you think. Between Mockery of Life and some strategic freezing with the feat, you can set up the perfect charge-kill with Mar/Morland-Zira assassinate after the Siphon Bolt attempt. This perfection in placement gives her the same threat range as Aaikos for the assassination.

    Also: Feat targets that can bring themselves back. Just a thought.

  5. Has the swashbuckler and payday interaction ever been clarified?

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