Sunday, August 20, 2017

Broken Promises Upgrade Review: Ressurectionists

For this next post, we're going to talk about the cool new upgrades for Rezzers. Before I do, though, I want to take another opportunity to encourage people to sign up as my patron on Patreon. I've really enjoyed all the positive response these articles are getting, but it isn't an insignificant amount of work to get them done. It would be amazing to get a little something back for the effort. I'm not talking a lot of cash, here. I would love for you to start at $1 a month just to let me know you enjoy the work as well. 


               Ready for some weird science? Get ready for Dr. M, because stuff just got weird. To start with the more normal one, let’s go with Guild Coroner. It gives him an ability to, after killing a model with a melee attack, drop a scheme marker in base contact with a different enemy model within 12” and LoS (effectively, him pointing at them and saying “He did it!” McMourning is then allowed to use one of the 0 actions printed on the stat card. One lets him discard every corpse marker within 3” of him, adding a soulstone to his pool for every two corpses ditched in this way (I would think this would be 1 most of the time.) The other, corpse retrieval duty, lets you ditch a single corpse to draw two cards and then discard one.  I like that they don’t cost you anything you wouldn’t be doing anyways (killing stuff.) Not sure how much the soulstone thing will pay off for you, but could be useful.
               On the other hand FRIGGIN TEST SUBJECTS! *ahem* *composes himself* This upgrade allows Dr. McMourning to hire 4 non-Gamin beasts or academics from other factions into his crew. That is bonkers. Welcome to Marcus 2.0, but with Academics and potentially the Guild as well. There are too many options to go through all the stuff that could end up being useful here. Guild McMourning gets the most use out of it, as this lets him hire Rogue Necromancies and the University Transmortis stuff out of faction. I like that it lets him hire Myranda in, since they’re family and all. I’m just jacked to see all the things you can try with him now.



               Do You Know Who I Am? Enhances the fear based Seamus crew by punishing models for passing their Horror duel. Once per turn, an enemy that passes a horror duel within 6” of him can be forced to take a 2/3/4 damage flip. If the flip does severe damage, you can place a condition called Infamy on Seamus to increase the TN of his Horror duels by one, to a max of +3. If you’ve built yourself to be attacking Horror, I would have to think it’s worth the card to cheat in and move up the TN. On top of that, he gained a new 0 action, Boo! It forces all enemy models within 3” of him to pass a TN 12 horror duel. Making the opponent flip more cards when nothing good can come of it for them and plenty of bad can happen instead is a good thing. Plus, it has a built in trigger called You Can Run that lets you push anybody who passes the duel a number of inches away from Seamus equal to 2+ his Infamy condition. I think this upgrade is pretty strong.
               Maybe likely to gather more buzz is AKA Sebastian Baker, which allows Seamus to hire Showgirls at the beginning of the game (what’s the deal with the Rezzers expanding their hiring pools this book? Can Nicodem hire Oni now too?) Additionally, when he uses his Arise My Sweet, he can sub in a Showgirl minion instead of a Belle. The Showgirls lose the Living characteristic and become undead whether they’re hired or summoned. The hiring is interesting as it grants him access to showgirls like Carlos and Cassandra (though you’d think Collette would have noticed the smell if Seamus had murderd and reanimated them.) Hiring a performer without the merc tax for games like Headhunter is ok. My thing is, Seamus only gets to summon once a turn, and if he gets the opportunity I would think he would want to summon a Belle. More flexibility is a good thing, I suppose, and he could potentially get an Ice Dancer, which would be ok. Oh, and he gets to use a 0 action to place a scheme marker in base contact with a piece of terrain somewhere within 12”. It’s not a BAD upgrade by any stretch of the imagination. I just feel like “Do You Know Who I Am?” takes an already pretty good Seamus build and makes it objectively better.


               So, one of his upgrades is Their Last Breath, which basically lets him take a living friendly Rezzer model who dies anywhere within his LoS and buy you a few more turns with it. It isn’t killed and heals all wounds, but gains a Decaying condition. This makes them Undead, limits them to healing no more than the Decaying condition every turn (it starts at +2) and deals 2 damage to them when they activate that can’t be prevented, ignored, or reduced. Every turn the Decaying condition increases. I’m trying to think of who would be a prime candidate for this and nothing’s IMMEDIATELY jumping out at me. Mortimer? I guess that could be useful, since Morty is trading his wounds for corpse counters all game. (Also, why are there no Nic and Morty memes out there anywhere?) Vincent St. Claire? The new Assura Rotten henchman? I’m really not sure what the best application for this would be. I’m sure someone will point it out in the comments. Also, it’s worth noting that this works like Titannia’s Queen’s Champion where it goes off when the condition is met, rather than when you choose, except this one doesn’t have the ability to pay a cost and keep it from activating at all. So, whatever you’re going to do with it, it’s probably best if you only have one target in your crew that can gain it (so, no Vultures I guess.) This would, however, be pretty sick in a doubles event. Oh, you killed Seamus? Guess what, he’s still alive.
               Speaking of Vultures, his other upgrade is Circling Buzzards. This one lets you discard however many cards you want at the beginning of the game to place one corpse for each card on the centerline, so long as they’re at least 8” away from any other corpses. Getting more corpse markers on the board is undeniably good for Nicodem, but I wonder if the cost is too high. They do have a lot of card draw in Phillip and the Nanny abuse, but if you drew a pretty strong opening hand it might be kinda painful to ditch four cards for 2 corpses. Also, Nico gains the ability to summon Vultures into base contact with a Corpse Marker at Range 8. There’s a Ram trigger to drop a scheme marker behind when you perform the summoning as well. Again, debatable if this is better than what Nicodem already uses, but ranged Scheme Marker placement without an interact isn’t terrible.


               Both of Kirai’s upgrades give her passive abilities, which I like for summoning masters. Their AP is usually pretty much spoken for every turn. The first, Ectoplasm, grants her the ability to place a scheme marker in base to base with any non-peon Spirit that she kills or sacrifices during her activation. This will typically be Ikiryo I would think, who you sacrifice to then resummon somewhere else on the board, allowing you to potentially generate an extra scheme marker per turn. Still, there could be some utility here. Second, Spiteful Wrath makes her Seishin count as Undead and allows them to be affected by the Malevolence Aura from her and the Lost Love. This could potentially make them very annoying for opponents to deal with.
               Vengeance Will Be Mine gives her an aura that prevents removal of the Adversary condition from models within 6” of her. As someone who has played Beckoners before, this isn’t that big of an aura, and it will be difficult to plan on using this offensively in a game. On the other hand, enemies are likely to want to get up close to her to stop her summoning, so this could be a useful defensive ability. It just remains to be seen if that’s enough to warrant an upgrade slot and a soulstone.


               I’ve secretly suspected that one of the unspoken design goals of this book and the upgrades in it are to give really strong options to masters that needed a boost while, instead, granting side-grades to ones that are already pretty good. One of Molly’s upgrades kind of flies in the face of this, though, as I consider her to be a Tier 1.5 master at worst, and her Back on the Job upgrade is one of the strongest tactical options in the game IMO. Embodying her new-old job in Malifaux as a reporter, Molly’s Thorough Investigation allows her to LOOK AT HER OPPONENT’S UNREVEALED SCHEMES AFTER CREWS ARE DEPLOYED. Now, go ahead and think about that one for a second. You don’t get to know the names or variables on the schemes, so you don’t have to say who the sucker is on Frame for Murder, but just knowing that this is what they’re doing is in-freaking-sanely strong, and lets you immediately move to block what your opponent is doing with the assurance that your guess is most likely correct. Wowzers. The Tactical Action to discard an enemy Scheme Marker and draw a card once a turn, which is pretty good in and of itself, is just icing on the cake.
               Possibly overshadowed is Forgotten Items. Lost and Found allows Molly’s summons to prevent damage based on enemy Scheme Markers within pulse 3 when they’re summoned rather than enemy models (you get to choose which.) The flexibility is probably pretty good. And Things I Almost Remember allows her to draw 2 cards when she reveals a scheme. Card draw in a summoning crew? Pretty solid. I think Molly did pretty well with these upgrades.


               As with all the other Book 4 masters, Reva gets 2 upgrades and a conflux for the Carrion Emmisary. Riders in the Sky allows her to force an enemy model to take a TN12 Horror Duel when she charges them. It also gives her a (0) action to place a Blast Marker touching every Corpse Marker in play, regardless of LoS. Every model touched by one or more blast markers must succeed at a TN 12 Wk duel or gain Burning +2. Additionally, there is a tome trigger that makes every model which gains Burning pass a TN 10 Horror duel (is it me, or if a dead body just exploded and set me on fire, wouldn’t the TN be higher than 10?) I don’t know that most players would be going near corpse markers in games against Reva if they could help it anyways, but often you don’t have a choice.
               Specter of Death gives Reva something else to use as the source of her attacks: spirits. If you use them as the origin of the attacks they do one point less of damage, down to a minimum of zero. Additionally, it gives her a crow trigger on her Ethereal Reaping to summon a Seishin when she kills something. I can see the benefits of adding more things for her to attack out of, particularly when they can move towards the enemy. I think using spirits is clever, as they don’t drop corpses when the enemy kills them to prevent a positive feedback from the effects. It really just depends on whether this was necessary, ie if Reva was having trouble getting targets in range before now. I don’t think that was the case, but more tactical flexibility is never a BAD thing.
               Her Conflux upgrade gives the Carrion Emissary the ability to count as a corpse marker. A 50mm mobile corpse marker could provide her with quite a bit of increased threat projection. Adding to this, the Emissary can discard a card as a 0 action to place themselves in base to base with a corpse marker. If the card is a crow, you can push the marker 3” in any direction after placing yourself, also potentially improving their placement. It does deal 2 damage to the Emissary when you use it, so you might not want to do it every turn, but I think it could be pretty useful for Reva. Given his Shards’ ability to summon Mindless Zombies which also function as mobile corpse markers, I think you’ll see the Carrion Emissary in many Reva crews (assuming you don't already).

               Tara’s upgrades are discussed in the Outcasts article, and Yan Lo’s are in TenThunders. Next time we’ll be talking about the Gremlins.  

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Broken Promises Upgrade Review: Outcasts

I’m going through the factions in the reverse order that I did the models, earlier, so Outcasts are up next. Warning: I make a lot of mistakes when theorizing what is good and what isn’t when I’m talking about factions I actually play. The Outcasts, on the other hand, I don’t play at all. So, I’ll do my best, but expect me to be wrong…frequently.

But before that happens, did I mention that Malifaux Musings is on Patreon now? What's Patreon you ask? It's a way for people like you who are entertained by content creators like me to support our efforts. You sign up for a monthly donation to the pool and, if enough people jump in, it unlocks bonus stuff in the future. For instance, I want to introduce a monthly raffle for some limited edition models that we have lying around in the MM warehouse for my Patrons. I'm not asking for a ton of money from any individual, either. Have you got $1 every month? I'll take it! So go to our Patreon page and donate! And if you put your money in while I'm doing these articles, I can certainly be convinced to do my review of your faction first ;). 

Von Schill

               His first upgrade, Oath of the Freikorps, introduces the ability for V.S. crews to manipulate the Oathkeeper upgrade. Any model in the crew with the Upgrade attached gets a positive flip to duels against anything Von Schill damages with his attacks. Pretty sweet, but the real power of Oathkeeper comes from discarding it to gain fast. So, does this upgrade become useless later in the game? Not so much, because V.S. also gains a 1 ap Tactical Action to attach Oathkeeper to a Friekorps model within 12” of him as long as there are less than 2 of them in the crew at the time. Even without the plus flips, this Upgrade would probably be useful for reattaching one of the best generic upgrades in the game. A plus to all duels is almost like icing on the cake.
               Nythera Aftermath is more designed to make V.S. an individual badass. Target Practice lets him take a shot with his gun against an enemy that places within 6” of him with a plus flip to the attack. Probably the most useful part of the upgrade is Practiced Ambidexterity that lets him take the attacks from a charge against separate targets. And, finally, it gives him an attack with his new robot arm that does a small amount of damage but lets V.S. knock the model 6” away from him after damaging. I don’t know V.S. well enough to say if this makes him a strong beater (or significantly stronger than he already is.) I think the first upgrade will be more universally useful.


               Ah, Tara. The master I’m probably least likely to ever want to play. Surely they didn’t keep going with this “no control hand” thing, did they? *reads Out of Time.* Oh, well, n/m.
               Out of Time gives her a + to all flips when Tara has no cards in hand, so likely in her reactivation at the end of the turn rather than at the beginning. It changes the 2 AP Void Maw action into a 1 AP action, allowing for them to do a bit better job of chewing up buried models. Finally, I’m at least intrigued by The Clock is Ticking, a new 1 AP attack action. It’s Ca 7 (Tome) and range 6. It does automatic damage, which I like (the fewer card flips, the better) equal to the turn number, and a built in Tomes trigger heals Tara for the same amount. You can only take the action once per turn, but I still think it could be useful, assuming Tara is still alive in the later turns of the game.
               Emptiness is a bit more interesting. It’s a 0 cost upgrade that allows her to ignore the upgrade limit for any upgrade cards that are specifically for Tara (is it ironic that the Nothingness crew gets to attach the most upgrades? Possibly…) You may not want all of her upgrades in the game, necessarily, but even a junk one can be discarded later in the game to draw cards equal to the soulstone cost, turning running a Tara crew away from the “dump your hand” game and changing it to “manage the number of cards in your hand to match the situation.” Dump cards until your opponent’s beaters activate, then build it back up? I don’t know. In any case, Out of Time and Emptiness don’t really jive with each other, so that’s weird too.
               Did I mention Tara’s not my cup of tea?


               The Soaring Dragon improves the Viktoria crew’s ability to play a hit-and-run game. It can be attached to either Vik and allows that one to start the game buried. All friendly Sister models gain a 0 action to unbury a friendly sister and place them in base to base. They aren’t able to chain activate, so you’ll either want to bring them out somewhere safe or make sure you have activation control before you do it, but it can provide some interesting mobility. I don’t know that you would always want to start buried, since you can’t come back until turn 2. Instead, I think you’d want to do the standard Viktoria slingshot, throwing the model with this upgrade forward. After it kills a target you can discard 2 cards and bury her, improving her survivability significantly and making the Viks less all-or-nothing. Of course, it also means you could maybe do the slingshot multiple times in the same game, which would be unpleasant for the opponents one would think.
               Sisterly Bonds is less about improving their offense and maybe giving the crew a bit more survivability. Any sister model heals 1/2/3 damage whenever they gain a condition from an enemy model, which is situational at best. Viktoria of Ashes can also use a 0 action to give a minion within 6” the Sister characteristic until the end of the turn. I’m sure this opens up some interesting interactions with the rest of the crew gaining synergy buffs, but I don’t know what they are. This one doesn’t seem as useful, to me. Which probably means it’s game breaking and I’m just not seeing it.

Jack Daw

               Growing Injustice allows the Daw crew to exchange Guilty models for Cursed Upgrades, and vice-versa. Every time a Guilty model dies, you can attach a Curse that isn’t currently in play to Jack Daw. Then, if an enemy Tormented model dies with a Curse upgrade attached, you can summon a Guilty off of them first. Lather, rinse, repeat. Any time summoning is involved the potential for strength is there, but this is another very conditional summon. However, the fact that it doesn’t really require any resources from the Daw player other than playing Guilty means there is at least potential for this to happen incidentally.
               Cursed Life is a bit simpler. Whenever he attaches an upgrade to something, heal a point of damage. Whenever a model with a curse on it dies, draw a card. Simple as that. These abilities are good, but as I understand it upgrade slots are at a premium for Jack Daw. Time will tell if these benefits are good enough to warrant a slot.


               Hamelin’s first upgrade is Plague Pits, invoking the idea of the pits of dead bodies that the Guild had to create in Malifaux after the first outbreak of Piper’s Plague in Book…2? of Malifaux First Edition. After both crews are deployed, the Hamelin crew deploys a trio of 50mm Ht. 0 markers anywhere on the board that’s at least 3” away from the opponent’s deployment zone. Enemies that begin their activation or end an action within 3” of a pit marker gain Blighted +1. An enemy in base contact can choose to take a 1 AP Interact and discard a card to remove the markers, but they’ll gain at least one Blighted in the process. Finally, at the end of the turn Hamelin gets to move one of the markers up to 6” at the cost of one of his cards. Based on how these sorts of abilities have worked out in the past, they’ll be most useful defensively to try and restrict enemy movement. The fact that the enemy can send a throw-away model and spend a card to get rid of it gives me pause, but sometimes one activation can make the difference in a win or a loss. And my impression of Hamelin crews has always been that they win by stacking up these little hindrances until they snowball out of control and kill you.
               Useful Vermin is maybe a bit more universally…useful. Essentially it lets Hamelin turn two Malifaux Rats in line of sight into Scheme Markers at the beginning of the turn. Seems good. Not much to add.


               One of the methods of targeting Levi is to kill off his Hollow Waifs. This is often easier said than done, as he has a pretty strong incentive not to let you do that. If you can pull it off, however, he can’t get them back. That is, of course, until the Aether Shackles upgrade. It lets him spend 2 AP to summon one directly or, if there are enough scheme markers on the board within 8”, to get it out for 1 AP instead. Levi has to discard a card for each of the scheme markers, and there must be more of them than the number of Hollow Waifs on the board, but then you can ditch the scheme markers and summon the Waif. Oh, yeah, and it gives Levi a ranged ability to remove Scheme Markers. It seems like a good defensive upgrade, but I don’t know if the Waif summoning would be good enough to warrant an upgrade slot, given that most crews can’t go get the Waifs anyways. The scheme marker removal may put it over the top, however.
               Untimely Demise gives Levi the Desolation ability. Whenever he would be buried by the Pariah ability he does 2 damage to everything with pulse 3 of him. Anything killed by this damage summons an Abomination. You’re planning on dying anyways, so this could be a good way to get some decent incidental damage into your crew. The summoning can be set up with Levi’s attacks, but that’s a lot of work just to get an Abomination.

Parker Barrows

               Like the other wave 4 folks, Parker gets a pair of upgrades and a Conflux for the Emissary. Reminiscent of the Clint Eastwood western A Fistful of Dollars, Hidden Steel Plate can be discarded to reduce the damage of an attack Parker takes by 2 and grant a + Ml and Sh actions for friendly Minion models within 8 when its discarded until the end of the turn. Alternatively, he can use a 0 to remove a condition from a model. If it isn’t a Bandit you have to discard the upgrade, but that will trigger the buff action as well. Badge of Office saw play once upon a time and this is in the same vein, but the fact that Parker can pull it out of his bag of tricks as needed improves it quite a bit.
               His other upgrade gives his shooting attacks a trigger to ignore armor with his pistol attacks, which is useful for him but not exactly lacking in a faction with the Viktorias. It also grants him a 1 AP ability to place a condition on a target called Dead Man Walking and discard the upgrade. This condition allows one opposing model to take a shooting attack at the model with the condition at the end of any activation where it takes a walk or charge action. The model with the condition can discard a soulstone to parker’s cache to discard the condition, which Parker can then immediately discard to reattach the upgrade to himself. The soulstone tax could be significant, but it puts a lot of the power to choose in the opponent’s hands, which I don’t like. Many crews get by just fine with no stones, and/or the model with the condition can just hide or something to keep from getting shot. Might be interesting with somebody like Hans or a Friekorps trapper, and like all situational Parker upgrades you can always choose to use or not use it as needed, but I’m not sure it will end up being a staple.
               Finally, his conflux upgrade turns the emissary into a bandit, which should be helpful. He gains an ability to draw a card whenever he attaches one of his trinkets to a model, and it gains anew 0 action that discards an upgrade off of a friendly model to draw a card. If it’s a trinket, the model also drops an enemy scheme marker in base to base. I honestly have no idea how useful that is, but I’m sure when Phiasco builds a Parker crew and we play in the future I’ll realize why it’s good.

For discussion of Misaki, go to the Ten Thunders article, please. Next up, we’re heading to the graveyard to do the Thriller Dance. It’s Rezzer time! 

Friday, August 18, 2017

Broken Promises Upgrade Reviews: Ten Thunders


-I mean, there’s nothing really going on this week, is there? Let’s just skip this section. Oh, no, wait, Gencon 2017 is happening, so Book 5 and Upgrade cards are flying into people’s hands! And you’d better get your damned Upgrade decks fast, because the webstore is already sold out. So, bummer if you didn’t get it, but don’t worry, because Malifaux Musings is going to break all the new stuff down for you. You’ll at least be able to see what your new models do as we make our way through the upgrades. In the meantime, Phiasco sent me some pics of Wyrd’s booth, so I’ll put ‘em here.

-Before we get to the articles, I'd like to point you to a way through which you can support our humble blog. Malifaux Musings is officially on Patreon!  I love this blog and I love Wyrd products. Wyrd, however, still insists on trying to make money off of their products rather than just giving them to me (the fiends.) Additionally, I have kids who'd probably like to go to college some day or something. You can help make these things happen! If you appreciated the model break-downs or the forthcoming upgrade spoiler articles, and you think our efforts are worth $1 a month....well in the words of Dan Carlin, I'd love to have it. Thank you in advance for the support. 

Ten Thunders Broken Promises Upgrades

Adam-Hey, Jon, while I wait for an upgrade deck to get here, you could send me pictures of the final upgrade cards so I can start breaking them down.
Phiasco-Cool, we can start with Ten Thunders.
Adam-Are you sure? I mean, they’re not the most popular faction. Maybe we should-
Phiasco-Well, you’ve got a point there. How about I send you Ten Thunders?
Adam-Ok, ok! Geez.
*Disclaimer: Not representative of the actual conversation.

So, we’re breaking down Ten Thunders upgrades from Broken Promises first. As with all the factions, each master, including the new ones received a pair of new upgrades (with a handful of exceptions). Additionally, the Book 4 masters received a Conflux upgrade to attach to their respective factions’ emissaries.


Holy heck, did Misaki get some cool stuff! Probably the one that will draw the eye immediately is The Storm, which allows her to place any blast markers that result from her attacks anywhere within 12” and LoS and makes the resulting damage from the blasts irreducible. Gross. Additionally, it gives her Thunder attack a crow trigger that allows the damage flip to be cheated regardless of any – modifiers to the damage flip. Which, jeez, imagine if Sonnia could cheat her damage flips regardless of any –'s. That would be ridiculous, right? It’s Limited, so you have to pretend that you must decide between her other Limited upgrades (cut to a shot of a Terracotta Warrior laughing uproariously. Also, possibly slapping his knees. Knees are being slapped, people.)
Second, and possibly the most broadly useful, is Risk and Reward. This upgrade lets you avoid the standard “Take the fewest soulstones possible” build with her. Instead, Misaki can throw any number of soulstones away at the beginning of the turn to give her the Risk condition equal to the number of stones. At the end of the turn, you heal a point of damage equal to the Risk condition. “Oh no!” you say, “There goes all my soulstones!” Fear not, her reward ability lets you put back any stones discarded to Risk. As such, you now can have lots of stones in Misaki's pool for the game and still take advantage of her built in abilities for being out of soulstones. This offers more flexibility than you would expect, even, as you get to draw your hand before you have to decide how many cards to ditch, so you can keep one to draw more cards. If you know that you’re going to need to go first, you can save another stone for that and, if you don’t end up needing it, throw it to buff one of Misaki’s flips later on to get back down to 0. Probably a must-take in every game for her. Am I excited for Misaki's new stuff? Well, there's a reason I spent my Guilders for the retro version of her model. 


               Shenlong got a pair of upgrades that tie together, in that you can’t buy both at the same time, but can flip back and forth between them during the game. Yin lets him lower his poison to increase his defense by one every time he’s targeted with an action. Also, it gives him the Butterfly Jump ability. Good, but was Shenlong really struggling to survive before this upgrade? I’m not sure he needed it.
               Yang, on the other hand, boosts his offensive capabilities. When Shenlong charges, he can discard a card to make an additional melee attack as a result of the charge (so, it still must target the initial target.) Additionally, at the end of his activation, any enemy models within pulse one of him takes an additional 1 damage. So…this does improve his attacks, but not by much. I guess it encourages you to get him into melee with a lot of targets, but to take advantage of Power Unleashed you have to still be in Yang and so can’t take advantage of the defensive buffs of Yin. Time will see on this one, but I’m not convinced his upgrades will make it too often.

Jacob Lynch

               Phiasco and I’s favorite master, Jacob Lynch, gets a couple of interesting upgrades. Burn Out gives him the option to summon Depleted off of any Brilliant models that die within 6” of Lynch by discarding 2 cards (at least one of which will likely be an ace.) It doesn’t come in on full wounds, though, starting with 3 points of damage or 4 if you used an ace (which you probably did.) Admittedly, damage on The Depleted isn’t such a big deal since they have Hard to Kill and you kind of want them to die anyways, but the fact that you have to get Brilliant on a model that’s within short range of Lynch (who usually doesn’t want to be that close to a lot of stuff) or Hungering Darkness AND you then have to kill it. All of this suggests this upgrade may be fool’s gold, but I do like Depleted a lot and summoning is very good. This card asks a lot (just think how hard getting Sonnia’s summon to work is, and that can be done from across the board.)
               The second upgrade is Cheating Bastard, which gives him two abilities. One lets any Friendly Models within 6” of him or the Hungering Darkness always chat fate second, which is potentially quite good. The second ability, House Rules, potentially makes your life a little simpler by letting you reveal any number of cards from your hand and triggering effects for however many of them are Masks. If you reveal even one mask you can give an enemy within 8” Under the Influence automatically, which is great for Lynch’s action economy and takes a card flip out of the equation. The two mask ability lets you (in addition to the previous Brilliance distribution) drop a pair of scheme markers, one in base contact with Lynch and one off of Hungering Darkness. And the third lets every friendly model heal two damage. Sounds pretty good, right? Here’s the tricky part: Cheating Bastard is a Limited upgrade, so you have to choose between this, Endless Hunger, and Rising Sun. Right? (Again, cut to the Terracotta Warrior, who is laying on the ground with little Terracotta tears rolling from his eyes.) But seriously, with Lynch this is a tougher call because you need to have Rising Sun on him before HD dies, or he’s dead instead of buried. It does make the Brilliance version of the crew a lot more viable, however, especially with his new friend Gwynneth Maddux in the mix. So, you’ll have more excuses to pick up that fun, face tentacle-y alternate Hungering Darkness model in the future and get him on the board. Funny how that works, isn’t it?

Lucas McCabe

               Unsurprisingly, McCabe’s stuff plays back into his artifacts. One of them is a new toy, the Cloak of Invisibility. When McCabe has it, he gets Perfect Camoflage ala a Sillurid. When he throws it to somebody else, however, they get Don’t Mind Me and Disguised. Not as powerful as Saber or Badge of Speed, but still situationally useful. If nothing else, it saves you the trouble of hiring in a Performer for Headhunter games to go grab the heads out of melee.
               His other upgrade is Loot Bag, which gives McCabe a version of a motif we’ve seen a lot recently: the flexibility of switching from one upgrade to another. Essentially, whenever McCabe activates, he can ditch any of his specific upgrades attached to himself and then attach a different one that isn’t currently in play. So, referring to the other upgrade, if you wanted to start with the cloak for the first turn to keep McCabe safe from range as he moved upfield then swap it for the Saber, you can do that. Or, alternatively, you could just attach the Loot Bag instead of the Badge or Saber, then swap the Bag for it on the first turn, saving you a soulstone. Not the most creative use ever, but if you don’t care about having the flexibility for the rest of the game there’s no reason NOT to do that.

Mei Feng

               Press the Advantage is an interesting upgrade that allows Mei to declare a trigger on her attacks from any of her attack actions, rather than the specific attack to which the trigger is attached. I don’t know enough about Mei to say specifically what the advantage of this would be, but it reminds me somewhat of the old days of Mei when she had a massive flowchart of triggers for all her attacks. Additionally, all of her melee attacks gain a trigger to take the Railwalker action immediately after succeeding. More mobility is always a good thing, so I have a feeling that will be useful.
               Speaking of mobility, her other upgrade is Rail Lines. This one gives any Foundry models that begin their activation within 8” of her +1 Wk. As the Foundry crew tends to be a little slow, this could be potentially useful. Moreover, her Railwalker action gains a mask trigger, Passenger Line, which lets her choose any friendly model within 3” of her and, after jumping, place that model in base contact with her. Good for jumping a model out of trouble (or into it.) Seems pretty good.

Yan Lo

               The old man got some nice upgrades out of Broken Promises as well, and got one extra upgrade beyond what the others received. Follow Their Footsteps lets him gain a point of Chi every time the opponent gains a VP. Additionally, it essentially allows him to swap between Ascendent upgrades at the beginning of his activation (paying or gaining Chi to make up for the difference in costs.) That gives some great versatility and reduces one of the hardest parts of playing Yan Lo, figuring out which Ascendant upgrades to purchase given the board state. This should help quite a bit in getting him up the ladder and, more importantly, making sure he can save himself if he starts going down the wrong path.
               Possibly more important, Awakening gives him Instinctual and turns his Lightning Dance action into a 0, essentially just giving you a free ability to Lightning Dance. Additionally, he gains a tome trigger on Lightning Dance that, if he is still in base contact with the target after completing the jump, inflicts 2 damage and puts Slow on them. Again, more mobility is always a good thing.
               And, finally, he gets a new Ascendant upgrade. At a whopping 4 stones, it’s going to take some doing to attach Blood Ascendant. But in exchange for this, he gains Casting Expert and a new melee attack. This is a Ca attack that hits anything within 2” and deals 3/4/5 damage. This attack targets Willpower, so it lets Yan Lo have some flexibility on which defense to attack. It has a small heal for all ancestors if it kills a target, though probably not enough to make a huge difference. Casting Expert plus the Lightning Dance as a 0 action lets Yan Lo hop into the middle of the enemy and drop 4 attacks on fools (5 if you can make him fast) that’s going to be really tough to survive.


               Bad Hair Day is a 1ss upgrade that improves her summoning and gives her a little versatility. Any time she flips a simple duel and fails it, she can discard a card to ignore the failure and flip another card. That’s helpful in general, especially for cheaper summons like the Yokai, and provides you with some Black Joker insurance. Additionally, she gains a range 8 melee attack which places a condition on an enemy model that prevents it from taking walk or charge actions.
               Possibly more interesting, she has Borrowed Time. It prevents the enemy from removing conditions off of her, which is necessary given the fact that it also gives her Flicker +7 at the beginning of the game and turns Flicker into a resource she can use. Why in the world would you want to do that? Well a couple of reasons. First of all, she can reduce her flicker by one when taking an action to add a suit to the final duel total. Also, when she summons something, she can reduce her Flicker by an amount and then increase the summoned model’s Flicker by the same amount. She can get some Flicker back by killing an enemy model with a melee action. This isn’t likely to happen a ton (though she can chew up weaker models when given the opportunity,) so her totem may be necessary to help replace the Flicker that Asami is losing over the course of the game.

               Finally, she gained the Orochi Conflux to add to the Shadow Emissary. It gives the Emissary the Oni characteristic and makes it so that, when an Oni model is sacrificed with 6”, you can place a scheme marker in base contact with it first. Additionally, the Emissary gains a 0 action, This Flesh is Temporary, which lets it cast a spell to increase a target Oni’s Flicker condition by 1 at the cost of making it suffer half of its total wounds. That seems a little fiddly, but I can envision a situation where an Oni is needed to hold a quarter or something and is far enough away from any enemy models that losing the wounds won’t be helpful. Not sure if this will be as useful as the generic conflux or another Recalled Training, but maybe I’m missing something. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

Top 10 Lore Reveals from Through the Breach Core Edition

I’m working on a lengthier review of the book, but to start out with I’d like to share my top 10 history lore reveals from the “World of Malifaux” chapter of the Through the Breach Core Rules. It should go without saying but, if you want that sweet, sweet Malifaux lore to remain unspoiled, this would be the time to turn around and go back. See you next week for less spoilery content.
These were answers to a number of questions that have been in the background of Malifaux’s canon for quite a while now. I’m a lore nerd and this stuff makes me excited, so I thought I’d share.

1)     The First Undead

Titania is the very first undead creature in Malifaux. The energy she channeled to defeat the Tyrants killed her (probably explaining why she isn’t an unbeatable godling at this point, since she’s not alive anymore) and she arose as an undead creature after destroying the Tyrants’ physical forms. Her people locked her away after seeing what she could become inside of Nythera, a structure that echoed the Kythera gateway through which the Grave Spirit had nearly entered the world.

2)     Path of the Dragon

The tyrant known as the Dragon was on Earth since shortly after Titania’s time. Her servants, realizing that the tyrants’ essences were still around despite their forms being broken, had started binding them away in prisons like the Red Cage or Plague’s prison in the Necropolis. Seeing this coming, the Dragon split itself in half and flung itself through the aether to Earth to escape. It landed on Mount Etna in Sicily, triggering a massive volcanic landslide and tsunami. He later took over a Cretan shaman to travel to Tibet and, realizing he would burn out the physical body of any but the strongest humans, he built a monastery there that would let him train replacements (eventually ending in the current iteration, Shenlong.) Meanwhile, the Dragon’s trip through the Aether weakened the barriers between the worlds, probably making it possible for the breach to be formed in the first place.

3)     The Neverborn on Earth

Malifaux stuff has been on earth for a long time. Some Neverborn got into early North America and interbred with the natives, so Native Americans in this world are likely to have at least some amount of Neverborn blood in them. This, apparently, has some consequences when the Burning Man arrives later and awakens this latent heritage in them. The Amazon rainforest had a handful of Waldgeist wander into it in 220 AD. They thrived there and slowly wiped out most of the indigenous human tribes in the region, leading to rumors in Europe and east Asia that the deep forests are haunted with dangerous plant life. A valley in Mexico was the site of a portal, through which the Aztecs saw the blasted, burned ruins of a part of old Malifaux with still burning flames, leading to the creation of their god Huitzilopochtli in 1332 AD. The Horomatangi, a massive creature that served the Tyrant Meridion, was dumped near New Zealand and fed on the Maori for a while before being poisoned and sent into a deep sleep. And, of course, we know from The Other Side’s lore that the Abyssinians had their own breach into Malifaux for a short time and had discovered and reported on Soulstones long before the opening of the “first” Breach by the Council in 1780.

4)     Shez’uul and the Masamune

The first of the Tyrants to escape its bindings happened a long time before humans came to Malifaux. Shez’uul was freed by a shaman of some kind, and promptly possessed him. This ended predictably (the shaman burned out) but he was able to sustain himself for a time by feeding on the blood of victims, ending in its becoming a creature of flowing blood. The Nephilim managed to beat him by turning their own blood into black ichor that would destroy red blood. Rather than let itself be bound again, Shez’uul hurled himself to Earth like the Dragon had previously done, landing in Kanagawa, Japan in 1293AD. It bound itself to a Samurai Lord and forced him to slaughter his subjects to supply him with blood. He was only then defeated when a sword was forged by Goro Nyudo Masamune, the Masamune Nihonto. The blade cut Shez’uul away from his host and bound him inside. That would have been the end of the story, but it was stolen decades later and proceeded to influence its wielders to greater feats of violence to feed itself. Eventually it passed into the hands of Kenshiro, the Weeping Blade, a hero of the first human entry into Malifaux. It played a key role in stopping December from escaping through the first Breach to earth (though it cost Kenshiro’s life to do so.) It was then thrown back through the breach and faded into the background of history before Zoraida directed Viktoria Chambers to recover it (not knowing about the Tyrant within, of course.) Though the Neverborn’s to kill her with a Doppleganger and claim the weapon failed spectacularly, Viktoria, her newly acquired “sister,” and the Masamune were able to foil December once again at Kythera. And they’ve been slingshotting across battlefields and murder your whole crew in one turn ever since.

5)     The Council

This has been discussed before, but we learn a lot about the Council of wizards who were in charge of the first expedition from Earth into Malifaux. Earth’s magic was dwindling, and so a group of sorcerors, wizards, warlocks, shamans, etc. formed a group to try and restore it, travelling to the new world and to Abyssinia to work on the problem. Eventually, they realized there was a world beyond ours (probably because of the East African people’s experiences, in large part) and combined their forces to punch a hole through to it. They gathered in Santa Fe, New Mexico for whatever reason and performed the ritual there, causing a massive explosion that killed many of them and supercharged the survivors. These newly empowered magic users travelled through the new Breach and were the first humans to enter Malifaux. They spread out, gained new Malifaux power, but became the ruling power for humans in the city.

6)     The End of the First Human Settlement

The time of the first humans in Malifaux came to an end due to December’s first attempt to escape. Some of the Archmages from the Council went into the Ten Peaks and, because they’re dumb, broke the bindings that were keeping him sealed away. It then took over the strongest of them, who then either subjugated or ate those archmages that remained. He then went to Malifaux city because he wanted to feed on the energy of the breach to complete his ascension to godhood, using a massive blizzard to conceal his arrival. Lilith and Nekima arrived to stop him, defeating his followers, but December would have succeeded if Kenshiro hadn’t arrived with the Masamune Nihonto to kill his host body. The day was saved, but the two Nephilim sisters determined that the humans had to go. In less than a decade, multiple Tyrants were already freed, and the witch Zoraida offered to seal the place up with magic. Zoraida sealed the portal while the Nephilim went through the city, butchering all the humans they found. At the last moment, Nekima hurled one final corpse back through the gate after scratching the word “Ours” into its chest.

7)     The Black Powder Wars

There are quite a few more details about the war that happened Earthside between the time of the two breaches. In a lot of ways, it’s like World War I broke out a century earlier than it did in our history, sparked of course by the sudden panic in the world when the flow of soulstones dried up. All the nations of the world signed a series of fragile treaties after the first breach closed, and a revolution in Eastern Europe triggered a series of these alliances to be triggered. This drew the nations into a war that would spread across the whole world. I very much enjoy the descriptions of how many of the nations fought in the war, including combinations of cavalry and musket lines along with magic, Spanish use of Necromancy, revolution in South America, and much more. There’s also a lot of information on the history of the Three Kingdoms (who, the book now explains, are Japan, China, and Vietnam. I always figured Korea was in there, but I was incorrect.) They stayed independent for most of the war but were eventually drawn in to attack Russia, Eastern Europe, and the Western US. When the dust settles, the world ends up underneath the Guild’s bootheels despite the war not really causing national borders to end up moving much. The Council imploded, fractionated, and ended up becoming the Guild because they could control the Soulstones everyone was fighting over in the first place.

8)     Rise of the Union

When Book 1 starts (in M1E) all four factions are in place and ready for action. However, the story of how the unsafe working conditions in the mines led to the M&SU’s rise is interesting as well, particularly since it really should have been the story of “the good guys.” After all, the original workers in Malifaux were convicts, so the Guild really didn’t care that much for what happened to them. When more independent workers started to come to handle the unexpected workload, these new men and women banded together more out of a need for mutual safety than anything else. The Guild didn’t realize the danger this posed until they ordered a group of miners underground during a torrential rainstorm, leading to their being trapped for days as the mines flooded. Of those that escaped their leader was not Victor Ramos, but a man named Erick Ulish. He then went on to rally the workers around the idea of standing together in mutual support to demand safer working conditions and better pay. They formed…not the M&SU, but the United Miners Union. Rather than rely on the Guild to do the work, they used the money from membership dues to hire engineers who did the work of improving the conditions, including Dr. Ramos whose Hollow Marsh Pumping Station prevented another flood from happening ever again. Given how important the engineers were to the cause, the union was expanded to incorporate them (which is how they became the M&SU.) But, after that, an “accident” leads to Ulish’s death and Ramos’ ascent to the leadership. After that, of course, the organized crime part of the M&SU grows up, the Arcanists arise from under their cover, and basically things go really wrong really fast from there.

9)     Rise of the Ten Thunders

I also enjoyed the discussion of how this faction secretly came to power in the shadows of everything else. The Guild had been forced to close the whole city off after the Event, meaning the people in Malifaux City needed food, water and supplies and the people earthside needed the Soulstones that had been cut off. The Arcanists made a good living smuggling stones home, but the Katanaka crime family was able to grow up in the shadows of the ignored district of the city, the Little Kingdom, and solidify their power there by helping people the Guild had neglected. They became the Ten Thunders to disguise their origin, bringing their people through a secret, second Breach of which only they knew or were able to use. They grew quickly, infiltrating the factions of Malifaux and insinuating themselves in the city. Their power reached its zenith when they saved the city from “a Necromancer” (read: Nicodem) who was trying to take advantage of the chaos following Governor-General Kitchner’s failed ascension to power. He had killed off a large number of the other Necromancers in the city, adding their undead to his own, and attacked the Guild Enclave itself. Things looked doomed until the Thunders agents attacked in the flank, scattering the Resurrectionist forces and saving the city. The Ten Thunders have, however, contributed to the instability in the city as well. Lynch’s Honeypot casino is spreading dangerous drugs with nefarious purposes. They’ve brought the Tibetan religious leader Shenlong with them, not knowing that he is currently possessed by the Dragon who is all too happy to return to his home.

10)  Death of the Governor General and Birth of the Burning Man

After the Event was triggered by Hamelin, the released Aetheric energy from Cherufe’s red cage slamming into the ground gave a number of people the ability to ascend into avatar status. Some of these we know of, given that our masters were able to transform for several years prior to M2E’s release. The Governer-General, however, had the same ability, though he kept it hidden. He was hungry to push further and ascend to become a tyrant. He would have achieved this goal, but McCabe sabotaged the ascension ritual, substituting one of the relics with the bones of a Tyrant. When Governor-General Kitchner tried to draw on the relics’ power, these bones gave him too much power, and the ritual spiraled beyond his ability to control. Cherufe, sensing this, broke away from Sonnia Criid and combined with him, melding their two essences together to create the Burning Man. He travelled through space and time, arriving in Earth over San Francisco (there are more details about this event in the adventure “A Fire in the Sky.”) His arrival triggers the great 1906 earthquake, and leads to the creation of the fourth army in The Other Side, his Cult. He wakes the Horomatangi from its sleep. He triggers the Neverborn blood in the Native Americans to wake up, giving many of them shapeshifting abilities. And he weakens the barriers between the worlds, triggering the arrival of the Gibbering Horde in London. This chaos was the final straw for many of the nations of earth, who had already started pulling away from the Guild. While they have control of things in Malifaux, their authority earthside is waning significantly. India, Russia, the Ottoman Empire, Abyssinia, and of course the British Empire are now breaking away, with the Guild only able to serve as advisors and facilitators for the coming war Earthside.

I don’t have a great way to end this post, so I hope you enjoyed some of these lore revelations as well. Next time, we’ll probably be talking about Collodi and tabletop crunch again. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Five Finger Discount

Hello all.  It's been a while.  I was going to post on my experience a couple months back but I am at a loss for how I want to approach the topic in a constructive manner.  But I did manage to collect third party data. At this time I will continue to collect data on the subject and maybe one day we may discuss it.

I will be at Gen Con for certain.  So if you see me you are welcome to come say hello.  Chances are good I will make it to Nova.  And for those of you who are unaware there is a nationwide league (TFL) with sign ups this month and games run from September through November.  Details can be found here .  The quick and dirty summary:
-If your meta has 6 people interested buy in is $30 per person.
-If your meta has up to ten the top player gets to play in the champion tournament in June.  11-20 send 2 players. 21-30 sends 3.
- I am uncertain to the logistics of why the tournament is held 6 months later in June. The tournament will be held in New Jersey again this(next) year.
-Prize support requires your meta to send someone from your meta to pick it up.   I thought the prize support was excellent at $15 last year.  
-The champion tournament will be run at a convention (hosted by Gadzooks I think) and will have non champion events that anyone can attend for an undetermined ticket price.  I will attend regardless of if I am my metas champion or not.

-Everyone declares a faction at the start.
-You will get 6 pre generated 50 SS games to play in any order.  Best record(s) is the champion.
-Tournament sounds like it will be a multi-day event.  Last year it was 5 rounds in 1 day.
If you have any questions on the TFL I will do my best to answer them or you can get ahold of Chris Weinstein on Facebook.

So with that out of the way onto my up coming project.  Parker Barrows.  Adam just closed a poll where he asked what master do you want and in depth write up on.  While he did not intend for write in answers Parker did manage to win the poll.  So I decided I would pick him up in the near future and run him as a side project and see if I can figure out what makes him tick.  I will probably run him at local tournaments until I have 30 games with him.
On the surface I can see why he won the poll.  Why pick this guy if you have the other 7 masters available to you.  Nevermind the in faction models are a hodgepodge hot mess of why are we allies?

So from what I can determine there is resource juggling that will be the first thing I need to get a handle on. I can see there is an order of operation in which upgrades I want to discard and which ones I want to add back.  His attack is mediocre but can punch once for min damage 5.  There probably is a little bit of hidden finesse in his attack but I suspect I will get more mileage out of his other abilities.  It's obvious he will play different from every master I've already played.  When I have played against him in the past there is nothing that jumps out on his card that makes him a threat that needs to be removed at first opportunity.  So the focus shifts to the nasty items in the crew.  In turn that allows Parker to score or deny victory points.  The problem is I have beaten him all 3 times I have faced him by ignoring Parker.  Thus making crew selection exponentially more important.

When I acquire the crew I will have a totem I'm not sold on.  Might be situationally good depending on the opposing faction.  Short range healing might be good if the crew is slow or stationary and able to survive an alpha striking model.  Mad Dog looks good and will probably make it into most lists.  Moderate range solid damage.  He only lacks defensive tech.  Bandidos look like cheapish scheme runners.  But they don't seem to do anything I would need them to do.  So I will maybe put one in to help with schemes (or to bluff schemes) but I doubt 2 or more will see the table unless it's a demo game.  So beyond the crew box I already own the Wokou raiders.  I need to paint some up for Misaki so they will be on the paint table this week.  I like the deceptive nature of these models but I expect to be hosed by the fate deck.  So I will report back on what I think of them after I play a few games with them.  Dead outlaws look ok.  Not sold on if I will buy them right away.

I own Tara and her box but not assembled.  I have the metal Levi, Von Schill and Vic's Boxes.  Misaki obviously but her crew is not outcast native (less the Wokou Raiders).  The Torakage and Oiran are mercs but unlikely worth pulling into outcasts. I also have a handful of mercs to try out.  Now to see about digging up some unwanted metal Ronin... I will update when I acquire the crew.  With any luck wave 5 will help shore up his weaknesses.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Curtain Rises: Taking a Look at Collodi


-Probably the biggest piece of news is, of course, the announcement of what will be available for purchase at Gencon this year.  There's lots of good stuff there, more than I'm going to break down here. I know that the Malifaux Musings authors (particularly Phiasco) are giving the alternate sculpt of the Hungering Darkness an appraising look (now with 100% more face tentacles!) Take a look for yourself, and then prepare your con budget now.

-The other big news was the release of the July errata for Malifaux. As Aaron had previously stated, the plan is to have two Errata updates a year, with the early one being the place for major changes to the game while the mid-year one is for smaller tweaks and adjustments. As such, there are only a handful of changes affecting the Arcanists and Gremlins. All of them could be described as "nerfs" (cuddles, according to the Forums language filter) adjusting some of the parts of the game which aren't working as intended and giving too much of a tactical advantage. Wind Gamin can die now, which needed to happen. Practiced production can't be used on Malifaux Raptors anymore, which also probably needed to happen. I don't know as much about the stuffed piglets problem, but it must have been one for them to have increased their cost. I'm told (by internet comments) that people are still going to use them for Wong, so I guess they must not have been nerfed into the ground completely. Somehow Phillip and the Nanny escaped the nerf-bat, likely with Phillip whistling innocently to himself as they faded away into the fog. 


Master of Puppets

               Earlier this week, I posted a poll to A Wyrd Place and the Southeastern Malifaux Player’s Group on Facebook, asking for a suggestion for a crew to build over a series of articles in the coming weeks ala the old “Tale of Malifaux Bloggers” series that used to be in vogue for gaming bloggists like me. I threw out a handful of masters I owned already but hadn’t given the time they deserved including Hoffman, Marcus (I got him for free from Through the Breach’s Kickstarter program and like the paint job I did for him), and Ten Thunders Misaki, among others. What I didn’t realize is that you have to select an option to close a poll’s responses to limit them to those you put into the machine, and suddenly the write-in votes took over. Parker Barrows flew to the top of the list, followed by the puppet master Collodi and Jack Daw. Over the course of the week the three masters battled it out for first place, and Parker came out on top. Unfortunately, there’s an issue with me playing Parker: I don’t own him and I don’t have money to buy him right now (more on this subject in a later post.) I could have just theory-crafted him and played him in Vassal, but I want this series to include the modeling and painting process (plus who doesn’t like to have pretty pictures of painted models to look at,) so I’m afraid I have to put Parker on hold for the time being. If you voted for him, I apologize and I assure you that I will get to that crew in the future. Don’t worry, you’ll be getting Book 5 soon and you’ll forget all about my disappointing you. At least I hope so.
               So that left me with Collodi, the second place finisher by 1 vote. I already play Neverborn, so I have a good pool of models to pull from to round out a Collodi crew. I own the metal boxed-set for the puppet master from back in the day, so you guys will get a bit of old-school-meets-new-school flavor with this one. I assembled and painted them once upon a time, but tbh I’ve gotten better as a painter since then and I feel like I should strip and restart them. That’ll depend on how much time I have available in the future, of course, but it’s a project goal. For the time being, however, let’s take a look at where Collodi started, who he is, and how people play him in Malifaux today.

From Workshop to the Stage

               The story of Malifaux is really my favorite part of it, so if you’re her for hardcore crunch and battlefield analysis, you’ll probably want to skip this bit and move on to the next section. If you’re still reading, let’s step into the way-back machine and take a look at the story of this character and his origins.
               Collodi is a construct from when humans first came through the breach from Malifaux. He was built to serve as an entertainer for children, creating puppets and putting on shows for them in the streets. And he was happy with that lot in life. Unfortunately, the Breach closed and humans were trapped earthside, and poor Collodi was left behind with no one to entertain (apparently Terror Tots aren’t that into puppet shows.) He built puppet children to watch his shows, but it just wasn’t the same. Thus, when humans returned through the second breach, Collodi rushed to them eagerly to resume his purpose. The humans didn’t understand his intentions, however, and drove him away with axes and torches, teaching the construct to hate. He returned home and determined to teach humans the loneliness he had experienced by taking away their children and using their blood to build his puppets. He now wanders Malifaux with his painted wagon, putting on shows and spiriting away victims in plain site of the world’s new human denizens.
               He was introduced in “Rising Powers,” the second book released for Malifaux 1st edition, and continued the strong tradition of literary allusions in Malifaux (Carlo Collodi being the pen name of the author who originally wrote "The Adventures of Pinochio." The puppet master has popped up from time to time in other stories over the years. One short story demonstrated one of his attempts to take over a town by infiltrating his toys into it, and another from M2E discussed his discovery of a Coryphee and adaptation for his own purposes. Probably the most recent use of him in the fluff is making a cameo in the most recent Through the Breach world event. One of the pregenerated characters was a construct built by him, and you could run into Collodi in the days of the first breach and potentially prevent him from becoming a horrible child-murderer.
So, all-in-all, there’s not a ton of fluff for Collodi in the game, and most of it is pretty one-note. It would be interesting to see him interact a bit more with some of the other masters or characters, though one assumes that he gets along pretty well with Zoraida (what with the puppets and being from the days of the first breach and all.)

A Tale of Old Malifaux

An image inscribed on a Grecian urn? A cave painting? What could it be?

               It seems a little silly to talk about “old” Malifaux since Wyrd only passed its 10 year anniversary recently. Or course, then I went to a tournament and put my alt-metal Lillith on the board and was met with a look of “huh?” from my very young and very new to the game opponent, so maybe this is one of those “the 1990s were 20 years ago even though it seems like yesterday to you” things. So, come sit at old-man-Adam’s knee and he’ll tells ya a tale of olden days, when a model’s rules took up two 3x5 index cards (assuming you didn’t need a separate flow-chart for them) and soulstones added to your flip instead of giving a + modifier.
When Collodi was introduced he was a henchman, not a master, and could be hired into any of your Neverborn (or Leveticus) crews. Which, of course, you always did because Collodi was ridiculous in M1E. Every time one of his Marionettes took a walk action he could snap over into base to base with it, ala Hoffman, and then the Marionettes could snap automatically into B2B with him (jumping to the front of the base rather than the nearest edge to cheat for another inch of movement). They were pretty quick to begin with and he could make them Fast, which essentially meant Collodi could cross the entire board in a turn if he wanted to, and was often sprinting into the backfield for Breakthrough or something similar (remember, you picked your schemes from the full list in M1E, so it was always available). The little marionettes didn’t do a ton of damage, but his ability to hand out Fast meant that his little ball of puppets would chop through most things you would throw it at, one wound at a time. If that sounds like a bit too much, that’s because it was, particularly when you threw in that it gave you 4 cheap activations to improve your model count on top of everything else. Things would need to change before he moved to M2E.

Modern Puppetry

               The biggest alteration, obviously, was his promotion to master along with all of the M1E henchmen. So, no more soul-crushing Pandora crews that just splashed in the Collodi package for scheme running/additional misery. Second, his movement shenanigans were sharply curtailed. When he was initially published, you could probably argue that he was one of the models that made the transition from 1st to 2nd edition by getting slightly nerfed (though it’s a bit of an apples to oranges comparison), but that was probably necessary and allowed the game designers to introduce some cool, thematic abilities to replace what he lost. A stat line of 5(M), 6, 9, 5, -, 2 isn’t immediately inspiring, but that’s because Collodi’s job isn’t to fly into the middle of the enemy and wreck the crew, it’s to conduct from the mid-field. Most of his abilities operate within a 6” bubble, as do many of the effigies which he would employ, so he can’t hide in the back. If he gets attacked physically he has a built in mask trigger to push away 3” after resolving, so at least you can get away from physical attacks. For stuff that attacks WP, well, we might be in trouble…
               I remember everyone being very excited about being able to hire things with Puppet from out of faction, especially since Coryphee have now been added to that club. Of course, then we read that only Arcanist crews can combine them into a duet, and we got sad again, but c’est la vie. He can apply “Personal Puppet” to a model within 6”, which allows those models to take 1 damage and then a 1 AP action every time Collodi takes damage, and/or sets them up to be sacrificed to let Collodi ignore an attack. Marionettes are the prototypical target for this, as they have an ability to ignore that 1 damage, but theoretically you could put this on an Illuminated or something like that to let you hand out free attacks, which could be handy. And, last but not least, you have Accomplice to allow for some chain activation shenanigans.

               The back of his card is what really defines him. Collodi’s main (only) attack ability is “Pull the Strings,” which does a moderate amount of damage with a built in + modifier and has a number of triggers to make opponents unhappy. The built in trigger puts Slow on the target, which is potentially quite mean in and of itself. With a crow you can perform an Obey on an enemy model which, surprisingly, is arguably the least useful of the triggers, since it still leaves the target with both AP on their turn, but could win you the game in the right situations. Finally, the meanest one of all, A New String basically combines those two triggers, letting you declare what the non-leader model does with the 1st AP on its turn. So rude, and with a 7 Ca on the ability you’re likely to be able to hit with it when you want to do so, and a Rg of 10 means he can screw with a pretty solid area of the board. His tactical actions help with manipulating your crew (are we detecting a theme, yet?) My Will is an Obey for friendly models which gives them a + to any duels while they’re performing it. Extra Thread gives you a limited summon to create replacement Marionettes or Wicked Dolls out of scrap counters, though at the cost of a moderately good card with a suit. So, from the base card, Collodi is a tactically disruptive model that can operate as either a force multiplier for your crew or an inhibitor of the opponent’s. 
                 We’ll take a look at his upgrades next time, and maybe get an idea of what models I have that can be used with him right now, versus what I’ll be needing to acquire in the future.