Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Misaki Switch

Just a couple of quick mini-muses today, as it’s been a bit since I trashed Tara and got the most pageviews and comments of any blog post I’ve ever done (this is an unfortunate message that you’re sending me, internet world.) Fortunately today’s work is going to be somewhat more positive.

One of the significant differences between the previous iteration of the game and current Malifaux was the introduction of the upgrade system as a means of adding complexity to crew selection and allow people who are playing the same masters to come up with completely different looking and feeling crews on the tabletop. The promise of this comes in the form of very different upgrade packages, particularly upgrade cards with the “Limited” designation. I think the general consensus is that the success of this effort has been mixed. On one hand, there are masters who very clearly have a couple of different modes of action depending on their upgrade suite. Seamus jumps out as probably the marquis example, as selecting between his two limited upgrades (I’m at work, so can’t look the names up at the moment) results in a master who either focuses on terrifying and more of the ranged aspect or transforms nto a full-on melee beast by adding the Bag o’ Tricks (discussed well on the most recent Cheated Fates Radio). On the other hand, other masters don’t really seem to have this. I like Sonnia, but in my opinion there are only a handful of upgrades that are worth taking on her, and I don’t think any of them significantly alter what you’re doing with her on the board (namely, standing back and blowing enemy models right the hell up.) When I was doing crew construction for the game mentioned in my last post, it occurred to me that Misaki seems to me to be a fine example of the upgrade system working the way it is supposed to work, giving you an ability to build two very distinctly flavored crews depending on which of her two limited upgrades you attach during the pre-game.

The “Typical” Build

This crew is the much more aggressive of the two builds, and it seems to be the one that I see most often in discussions of how to play Misaki, namely an attack oriented, aggressive build focused around attacking with Misaki and tearing up the enemy crew. The reasons for this are pretty obvious, as Misaki’s high combat rating, long melee range, and good defenses (particularly after burning out her soulstone reserve) make her very well suited either for minion sniping or going after Assassination targets. The upgrade you use for this is the Stalking Bisento, giving her the ability to, as a 0 action, attach the “Stalked” condition to any model in line of site. The now unfortunately “stalked” model triggers a move from Misaki every time they take a walk action and, on subsequent turns, will allow Misaki to use her Bisento attack action as a 0 action against it. This makes an already very aggressive master even more dangerous. I enjoyed Mike Marshall’s discussion of how to run versions of this on this week’s Malifools podcast, particularly the combination of recalled training and utilizing Misaki to go attack the enemy leaders and basically just tie them up during the game, freeing the rest of the crew to go claim objectives, kill enemy minions, and do other things that generally result in winning the game. Currently, my agro Misaki build looks a little something like this:

50SS Aggressive Build

Misaki-Stalking Bisento, Recalled Training, Misdirection, 3(ish) SS
Torekage x2
Ototo (or Yamaziko, your henchman of choice can be here)-Smoke and Shadows, Recalled Training
Ten Thunders Archer
Dawn Serpent

This crew has a couple of effective hitters outside of the master. Ototo and the Dawn Serpent can chew through most of what your opponent brings for minions. The archer can back up either Misaki or the other hitters since they can fire into melee. Dawn Serpent is one I haven’t had a chance to use and could be subbed out for Ronin, particularly if you think you’re going to be up against an armor heavy crew.

The Switch Build

On the other hand, it occurred to me that you could build a very effective defensive build with Misaki by utilizing the other limited upgrade, Disguise. This upgrade makes it so that Misaki can’t be made the target of a charge action. I would pair this particular upgrade with another, Untouchable, which lets her use the defensive stance action without discarding a card. This becomes particularly rude when you activate her Deadly Dance ability, leaving you in a situation where you can engage enemy models with 1” melee ranges while denying them the ability to hit you back, since you can dance away before they can make a strike against you. Thus, you now have traded some of her melee ability to create a soft control model that is extremely difficult to get away from and could potentially be very disruptive to the enemy force. I went on to build a theory-faux crew to go with this that is much more objective oriented than the previous:

50SS Misaki In Disguise…with Glasses

Misaki-Untouchable, Disguised, Misdirection, 6(ish)SS
Yamaziko-Smoke and Shadows, Recalled Training
3x Torekage
2x Oiran
Monk of the Low River

I’m not sure this crew could really kill anything (at all), but I have to think it would be damned annoying to the opposing crew and quite good at objective based scenarios. I like using Yamaziko’s Brace Yari ability to fend off opposing chargers. The Torekage can get a ton of movement out of burying for Smoke and Shadows first turn and then either popping out of Misaki or Yamaziko at the end of the turn, leaving them free to walk out of melee and not be subjected to disengaging strikes. I’m not amazed with the Monk of the Low River, but being able to remove conditions is huge and he’s cheap and resilient, so he matches fairly well with the crew. It’s a very passive crew, to be sure, but I’d be interested to see how it would actually do on the tabletop.