Thursday, February 6, 2014

Wave 2 Beta Wrap-Up: Gremlins

Everybody’s favorite green little nasties, the Gremlins, are next up on the list of factions to receive a thorough blogging from me. I’ve previously discussed the Ten Thunders, The Guild, and The Arcanists under this format. Once again, the forums have come through in a big way to point me towards the minions and enforcers that have general, cross faction appeal rather than being only useful for a particular crew. As per usual, we’re skipping over the Masters and Henchmen for the time being. Let’s not futz around anymore and get down to business.

The Sow- I don’t want to know why the Sow is three headed. I just don’t. Her melee damage spread is a very respectable 3/5/6 so she’s going to rip things up when she’s in melee. She also can summon piglets with a 5 or higher of crows as a (0) by discarding enemy scheme markers through her “Birth” ability, and similarly spawns some piglets from Farrowing when she dies. A respectable melee beater with some summoning that conjures up…unpleasant mental images.

Rooster Rider- This one definitely drew a lot of attention from the forum folks. With Wk7, Cg7, Reckless,  and Gremlin movement tricks the Rooster Rider is crazy fast. It also has the Warpig’s ability to charge as a (1) and the Stampede trigger from their melee attack, with a gremlin’s Rusty Rifle ranged attack. Their only Achilles Heel is the Rampage ability, which makes them charge the closest legal target if they’re knocked to 2 wounds or less. Makes it pretty Gremlin-y, but worth the 6 stones for what it can do.

Stuffed Pigs and the Taxidermist-These two need to be discussed together, so I thought I’d lump them up. The Taxidermist doesn’t exactly work the way it used to, namely with turning piglets into the stuffed variety as a means of arming the Pigapault. I get the sense there was some discontent over this notion, which has left some of my forum responders not liking the Taxidermist much while others swore by him. Now, his summoning comes off of a (0) action and uses Corpse Markers, which of course will be plentiful in a Gremlin crew but won’t be clumped in your deployment zone with the ‘Pult.  The Piglets themselves all have the Bacon Bomb action, in which you flip a suit to determine the range and damage of the blast when the pigs go up. It triggers automatically if they die, and the Taxdiermist can set them all of if he dies. The flip can’t be cheated, so you’re subject to the vagaries of the deck on your bacon bombardiers unless you can stack it in some way (one suggestion coming later on.) The Taxidermist is actually not too bad in melee and generates corpse counters off of successful melee attacks. Combo units like this aren’t really my thing, but they could be potent under the right circumstances.

Bayou Bushwacker-The Bushwhacker’s (0) action lets you generate some mobile cover within 3” around her as the crew moves up the board, which has some obvious benefits both for her and potentially other gremlins that can hide behind her. She has a pretty good statline for a gremlin, and her ability to take bonus shots whenever a gremlin misses with a ranged attack is interesting.  With no defenses she’s a bit fragile, but this may be a model to keep an eye on.

Burt Jebson-I’m not sure what to make of this Burt. 7 points is a lot for a gremlin, which tend to be relatively fragile as a general rule and thus value quantity over quality. Slippery and Hard To Kill will give him some survivability, but 7 wounds and 5 defense aren’t exactly impressive. Moreover, I’m not really sure what he’s supposed to do for you on the board. He has decent damage on his melee attack with Crit strike, and he does have Trigger Crazy to possibly spam off a lot of shots, but still, I’m not that impressed. Crackerjack timing could be useful for clumping models up for things like the Pigapault, Pere Ravage, or the blast from his gun’s severe damage I suppose, though having to spend a (1) for that seems a little impractical. Maybe I’m just not seeing it, but he’s a pass for me as of now.

Gracie-Gracie is a pretty decent tank, particularly for fragile gremlins. Armor 2, Hard To Kill, and healing from Eat your fill and her bite attack are going to make bringing Gracie down pretty tough. 10 Stones is a lot to pay for her, though, so that may limit her utility.

Merris Lacroix-Another star from the Wave 2 Beta is the wannabe Kaeris, Merris Lacroix. His (her?) Gremlin Cunning ability lets you draw 2 cards and then put 3 back on your deck, which is good both for the extra card cycling but also for knowing what suits are coming on subsequent flips (perhaps for setting off Bacon Bombs?) The Bombs Away! ability lets you throw some scheme markers down, which is helpful when paired with his flight ability and gremlin reckless movement. Definitely useful.

Wild Boar-When I read this model’s rules, my first thought was how disruptive they could be by deploying them downfield with From the Shadows and just letting them go nuts with Rampage. Problem is, the boar isn’t tough enough to have much of a chance to survive for long like this and are a bit too expensive to be used as expendable fodder. I think they would have been more interesting if built with one of these strategies in mind, but for now seem to be just a mid-range beater outside of Ulix crews.

Lucky Effigy-Unlike most of the others, this Effigy’s attack actually has a pretty good damage spread, though this is offset by an ML value of 3. Its (0) buff for the crew’s master lets it offset some of the damage done by the various Dumb Luck abilities by having them heal a point of damage when they flip a ram (because god knows a point of damage was too much for Ophelia to pay for her absurd damage output.) It’s “Hit Me!” ability forces models to pass a WP test to attack something other than the effigy, which lets it follow the master or some other important unit around and act as a funny sort of tank. It’s a fairly interesting model that could be pretty disruptive.

Glowin’ Varmint- As has been said about Gremlins since the very beginning of the game, I don’t know if these guys are any good, but they look fun. Their main spellcasting attack can trigger blasts that do damage or pulses that heal everything  nearby. Tinkerin’ with the Unknown creates an interesting sort of interaction with the opponent while giving you something to do with the bad cards in your hand. It allows you to place a control card face down on their stat card and, if the varmint survives to the end of the turn, lets you discard it and get some kind of effect ranging from damage pulses on a crow to healing pulses on a ram. As I said, an interesting sort of interaction with you potentially bluffing your opponents or setting you up for that last little nudge on a turn, but the question will be how exactly you’re going to keep them alive long enough to trigger them.

Bayou Gator-Gators are cheap and mean, to put it bluntly, and were a subject of controversy that led to them being made into peons to try and reduce their value. A 5 stone model with melee expert is scary, and with a good attack like the gators have makes for some serious damage potential. They also have a (3) AP Ml attack that, with a crow, can trigger paralyze. Combine that with the Ambush ability to push 3” and set up for charges and they can get to grips and do 3 attacks relatively simply. They have no defenses, really, so they’re going to die, but they’re going to do a scary amount of damage before they go. Also, nice to see some more swampfiends in the game. If I hadn’t already committed to Hoffman (and if I didn’t already have the models,) I’d be tempted to use Zoraida for the upcoming ToMB project and go swamp heavy. These guys would be an important part of it.

Old Cranky-Any model that has the words “Add 1 soulstone to the crew’s pool” on an ability is going to get my attention. The funny thing is, most of the Gremlin masters I’m familiar with need their totems, so I’m not sure who will realistically be able to switch to this generic. However a totem that boosts the defense and WP of the friendly models around them seems pretty good for Gremlins. I’m reminded of Killa Kans with Kustom Force Fields in Ork armies (from some game we don’t talk about) in that the defense it adds to the army aren’t incredible, but all it has to do is help a few more members of your horde get to where they need to be to be effective. Card cycling as a (0) always makes me happy. His gun is like Granny Ortegas, letting you do blasts or switch to a Seamus-like damage level against a single target. And all of this is only 4 stones. I’ll be interested to see who or what finds a place for him.

Phew, so that’s the Gremlins out of the way. No offense green guys, but I was worried about this one. If there’s one of these articles I expect to get wrong, it’s this one, if only because of my inexperience with the faction. Feel free to set me straight in the comments here or elsewhere.

Now time to move on to the other natives of Malifaux for the next article, The Neverborn. Feel free to share your suggestions on this newthread on the Wyrd forums or in the comments here.

Thanks for reading!