Saturday, August 26, 2017

Broken Promises Upgrade Reviews: Neverborn


               Our next faction break-down is going to involve taking a look at the good-guys of Malifaux, the Neverborn (you heard me. Look at the facts, sheeple.) But first, a word from our sponsors.

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               I figured I’d start out with my community mandated master, the Puppet Master Collodi. Dreamer, Lucius, and Collodi are probably the masters with whom I have the least experience in faction, but I’ve at least started a game with C at this point. I do, however, know enough to be aware that his main attack action is probably one of the best in the whole game, so anything that’s going to try and replace it would have to be amazing. Four Arms takes on this job, and it’s questionable if it achieves it’s goal. It’s a pretty standard Neverborn melee 6 2/3/5 damage attack, with the bonus that it lets you draw a card when you do moderate or severe damage. The built-in mask gives you a trigger to get Hold Still, which allows him to increase his final duel total by a point for each puppet within 6” and LoS, which certainly raises an eyebrow. The other trigger, a crow, gives the target a condition until the end of the turn preventing it from declaring walk action. Interesting, but there are so many pushes in the game anymore that this is easily overcome and probably not worth cheating or stoning to accomplish. The thing is, Collodi’s brittle. His defense trigger is designed to get him out of combat, not in it, and his WP is mediocre at best. And let’s not forget, he has the most unpleasant attack in the game. Obviously Four Arms lends itself more towards the Bag of Props “Collodi’s crew makes him better” build rather than the “Collodi makes his crew better” version, which makes sense. That version could probably use the help. I’m just not sure if this does it.
               Doll Collection instead opts to add mobility. It gives Collodi a 1 ap action to place a 30mm Doll marker anywhere within 8” and LoS of him. Then, at the end of the turn, you can choose any number of Puppets, discard a card, deal 2 damage to them, and then move them into base contact with a doll marker (one puppet per doll). You then ditch the doll marker and place a scrap marker. This could add some interesting mobility tricks to Collodi’s crew, but it’s very resource intensive. The fact that it activates at the end of the turn means it will be most useful to do some Malifaux Raptor-esque tricks (albeit with much less range.) I’m not too jazzed with this immediately either. We’ll have to see if either of the Puppet Master’s upgrades have some hidden juice we’re not seeing.

The Dreamer

               One Gencon long past, when the first sculpts of the Carver were coming out as part of a story encounter, I asked Erik if there were plans to make rules for it and release it as a mini for the game. His response was “Well we wouldn’t make the model if we weren’t going to put it in the game.” Using the same logic, when I saw the picture of Dreamer as a more grown up, cricket bat wielding little bastard, my first thought was “They’re going to find a way to bring that out in the next book,” which led to my guess that new master upgrades were coming. This comes in the form of the Limited Upgrade “Growing Up.” He gains the ability Adolescence, which probably has the most sub-abilities tied into it of any ability in the game. It gives Dreamer +4 Wd and Cg 7, prevents him from being damaged when Buried, and gives him an extra AP per turn to take an extra Melee action. It also gives him the (1) Cricket Bat attack. I just got done calling Ml6 2/3/5 an average attack for Collodi, and it’s just as true here, but the importance of this attack is the fact that it lets Dreamer increase or decrease his Waking condition by 1 per successful attack. Additionally, it has a mask trigger to do a short range Tangled Shadows between Dreamer and another Nightmare. Cool stuff all around, but what’s the point of this?
               Well, Sleep Cycles, his other upgrade, completes the picture. Falling Asleep lets Chompy activate as a Chain Activation when Dreamer buries. Yeah…shades of old school M1E Dreamer crews, here we come. Additionally, the chain activations can go the other way as well (Chompy buries, then Dreamer goes.) Now we’re talking. When the Dreamer/Chompy engine rolls into your crew, people is gonna die, folks. Additionally, Sleep Cycles adds a little utility to your Daydreams, giving them a melee attack to deal 2/2/3 damage. Not great, but they’re cheap totems you summon. I mean, you can’t have cheap little peons getting cool attacks, can you? (Looks at Assura Rotten.) Sleep Cycles is probably the MVP out of these two, as it has uses for all 3 builds of Dreamer (assuming there are still uses for Shooting Dreamer rather than going straight to Adolescent, which I don’t see.) I appreciate that they brought out a new playstyle to rival “hide and summon” Dreamer and have tried to give Chompy Bits a chance to be the scary boogie man he’s SUPPOSED to be.


               The master everybody loves to hate (keep doing it, she feeds on your tears,) Pandora’s upgrades are…interesting. Rile Them Up is the most intuitive. It gives her the Mania ability, which lets her discard a card to take Incite as a (1) action once per turn. This is reminiscent of old school Pandora, who could keep casting the original version of it over and over as long as she didn’t target the same model more than once. The days of her circling the board in one turn and Inciting the entire enemy crew are long gone, but this does give her some good mobility options to get out of (or into) trouble, which is important for a relatively fragile master. Additionally, she gains a mask trigger to her Self Loathing and Harm attacks (both of which have the suit built in) to replace the enemy’s damage track with 2/3/4 and prevent its being reduced. While this will help her to hurt masters/henchmen/armored things, the main idea here is to improve the efficacy of these attacks vs. models that don’t HAVE a damage track for their Ml or Sh. Pandora can be a little bit hungry for Upgrade slots, but I think this one is worth the space.
               I won’t lie. When I first saw Woe Is Me, my thought was “They’re giving Pandora summons now? I’m never going to be able to play her again.” Then I stopped and thought about it, and it’s not that bad. In fact, a question exists as to whether this is actually any good at all. I don’t mean to poop on it right out of the gate, because it legitimately could be a strong build for her. But it could also be terrible. But what does it do? Well, first of all, it lets her have infiltration Woe, so she can hire Field Reporters (I figured this was coming) and any future non-NB woes. Additionally, if a model dies from Misery, you can summon a Poltergeist off of it. This really doesn’t happen often enough to rely on, but I understand wanting to increase Poltergeist's table time, especially given that it has such a cool model. Finally, the point of all of this is the ability to summon a Sorrow for a 10 of masks or higher. The model has to be summoned next to an enemy model which has a condition on it, and it allows the enemy to end any conditions on the model after the summons. At first blush, this doesn’t seem like a good trade. If you spend an AP to give something Paralyzed, let’s say, you don’t want to then spend one of Pandora’s AP and a high card AND give them the chance to remove the Paralyzed just to get a Sorrow, do you? Well, first of all I should point out that Sorrows can be quite good. Some people know that, some don’t, so let me make sure you know I’m in the first camp. Second, it doesn’t specify what type of Conditions the enemy model has to have. You can use Focused, Adrenaline, Defensive, etc. etc. etc. just as well as the ones you’re putting on them. And even if you need to use one of your own, sometimes you don’t need Incite on a model anymore, especially if you’re putting it on two models a turn as a way of improving Pandora’s mobility. And this is one of the few summons in the game where the new model comes in at full wounds. I’m not saying this is game breaking or anything, but I’m just saying it might not be terrible either. Let’s give it a chance and see.
               Also, this is the one that should have been called “The Box Opens,” since we know that Sorrows come out of there. But hindsight is 20/20.


               Hey there Mama Monster. How you doin? You likin’ those new upgrades? I know you are…

               Excuse me. Sorry you had to hear that. Forgot you were there for a second…

              *ahem* Lilith received one general use and one specific crew build Upgrade. The one you’re going to see all the time is “The Song of Blood.” It gives her a couple of abilities that aren’t as important as the tactical action: One to place a scheme marker when an enemy model is killed by Black Blood (situational at best) and Blood in the Air, which lets you draw a card when one of your Black Blood models dies (better.) The (0) tactical action The Blood Heals is why you’re bringing this, as it gives her the ability to heal another friendly model with BB within 6” for 2. So, you know, Nekima and Graves. There are others, but...Nekima and Graves. She now has 3 0’s on her instinctual build, but the turns when you’ll need all 3 are infrequent. This is just good. The only way it would be better is if she could heal herself, but that might (probably would) be too much.
               The other upgrade is The Land Consumes. I have a confession to make…I want this Upgrade to be good. I can’t be impartial about this. I want the “Fill the board with terrain” version of Lillith to be a thing. Problem is…it just isn’t for most games. Don’t get me wrong, the Mysterious Emmissary’s markers plus Lillith plus some Waldgeists is going to be a crap load of blast markers getting in your opponent’s way, but there are too many ways to get around them and…well why don’t I tell you what the upgrade does first? It gives her melee attack a ram trigger to summon a 50mm marker of hazardous terrain within 1” of the target. Ok, nice if it happens but maybe not worth cheating to pull off. Additionally, she gets to summon one within 3” of her at the beginning of her activation. She puts out a 6” aura letting her friendly models join her in being immune to Hazardous Terrain, which is also vital (and improves her synergy with the ME.) And, finally, if an enemy model is killed by Hazardous Terrain, she gets a 2/3/4 healing flip. It’s all good stuff, but you just can’t get enough terrain on the board (in my experience) to completely jam the opponents up. Or they have incorporeal or flight and ignore it. Or maybe you’re just lazy and summoning 3 different types of marker terrain on the board with different rules for each gives you a headache. They’re all possible reasons to leave this one in your card binder, especially for tournaments where terrain is (on average) more sparse. I’m sorry to be a bummer, and if I’m wrong and this build works I’d be delighted, but for now I’m not sold. I think it's just a meme list. That said, if you play on a very congested board (I’m looking at you, most of the Vassal maps) it can be brutal. And now, to move on seamlessly to the next master, like the professional Bloggist that I am.

               *whispers* Later, girl. Hit me up on my DMs.


               Big Z is a master that needed help, so she got it. *thumbs up* Powerful Control gives her Obey action a trigger on 2 masks to let the model she targeted take a (2) charge action instead of a (1), which was absolutely required. It was bologna that Zoraida’s whole shtick was using Obey on models when she was arguably the worst Obey master in the game. Being able to declare a charge with the enemy should make a huge difference here, as you're effectively exchanging one master AP for about 2.5 AP from the enemy model. Additionally, her Bewitch gains a double mask trigger as well allowing her to use Obey on the target immediately. It would be a whole lot of masks to pull off both triggers in a turn, but it could be very rewarding if it happened. 
                The other upgrade is a little more situational and ties in thematically to her Voodoo Doll interactions. Poisoned Fate makes any enemy models with conditions on them take 2 damage whenever they cheat fate. That’s…a lot of requirements, but I just got done pointing out how many conditions are in this game up above. It doesn’t have to be the Voodoo Doll’s stuff that would be triggering this, it could be Focused. It also gives Zoraida a decent way to do some direct damage, a Rg 18 attack vs. WP that deals damage to them based on the number of cards in their controller’s hand. Damage that doesn’t require a flip is always a crowd pleaser, but it requires them to have a condition first. There’s an incidental Crow trigger to put slow on a model (not saying Slow is incidental, but it seems like Zoraida’s gonna need her stones for masks now, so you’re maybe not gonna want to work too hard for this trigger.) This seems like a lot of work on its own, but remember that you can do these attacks through the Voodoo doll. This gives you some added flexibility, as 1) there’s nowhere the hemmed model can hide to keep you from hitting them and 2) since you control the Voodoo Doll, you can use this on him while you have lots of cards in hand to spike up the damage. This will probably mean you need to activate Zoraida early in the turn when you’re going to use the attack (we can’t all be Lynch and just refill our hand on the last activation,) but it’s a versatile attack that’s useful with or without the Voodoo Doll. The first upgrade is an every game take. The second is a good option for a specific type of crew, but not necessary every time.


               My queen! *bows* What? No, of course I wasn’t flirting with Lilith. I wouldn’t presume to disgrace the Autumn Queen in such a way. I…*gulp* please stop looking at me that way…Hey! Let’s talk about your upgrades!
               Titania also needed some help….uh…I mean she needed no help, but her overwhelming power has only grown as she’s recovered from her exile in Nythera. *phew, that was a close one* She gained a couple of Limited upgrades from Broken Promises. The first, Pact with the Grave Spirit, represents Titania’s ability to break leader models, as she did when she destroyed the Tyrants’ mortal forms. As such, her first ability, Death of Tyrants, lets her add a suit and deal +1 damage on any attack actions she takes against enemy Leaders. Additionally, she gains a version of Decaying Aura (I like the thematics of this) that extends out to aura 3 from her and prevents soulstone use to prevent damage or healing. Finally, she gets The Rot Within, a Ca action that requires a Crow on its TN, but deals an amount of damage to the target equal to the damage they’ve already taken, up to a maximum of 4 (or 5 with Death of Tyrants.) Additionally, a built in trigger lets you place a scheme marker in base contact with the model before removing it. So, obviously, Pact with the Grave Spirit is a much more offensively minded upgrade designed to have Titania go master or high point model hunting, setting them up with her other attacks (or her crew’s attacks) and then turning them into compost to finish things off.
               Her other new limited, Royal Indignation, goes the other direction and lets her punish modes with lower Stations than her while giving her a limited ability to enhance her own crew. First of all, it changes any living minion or enforcers she hires into Undead Fae (for insight in how this is accomplished, see the Nythera module of Through the Breach. Or, alternately, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.) There isn’t a ton of built-in synergy to this other than the Taproot upgrade, which doesn’t see a ton of play anyways, but it does make the models no longer subject to Terrifying: Living tests…which is good I guess. The meat and potatoes of the upgrade is the Royal Indignation ability that reduces damage from an enemy model by an amount equal to its station, 2 for a peon or minion and 1 for a henchman or enforcer. On top of her Impossible to Wound and healing from scheme markers, this gives her what she needed to be the tanking Master she was designed for in the first place. Finally, she can use a (1) action to give another Fae without the Armor Condition (so they can have Armor built in) the Armor Condition. This is a way to boost up her minion Fae mostly, I’m thinking, as 2 armor hard to wound models are going to take a disproportionate amount of AP for most crews to remove, but it could also be some synergy with the converted models from the top of the card. So, essentially, Titania’s Limited upgrades offer you a choice of playstyles (as most good Limiteds do.) If you want her to tank and support, go RI. If you want a smashier crew, go with the Pact.
               Finally, her Conflux is pretty solid, too. It allows the M.E. to add a suit of its choice to its duels whenever it’s within 3” of a Hungry Land Marker (which it wants to be most turns.) Finally, it adds a 0 action (because it doesn’t have enough of them to choose from, apparently) to give some buffs out to friendly Fae ranging from the Armor condition, healing a couple points of damage, burning+1 to any enemies’ they’re engaged with, or a scheme marker. It’s a shame he isn’t Living so Royal Indignation would turn him into a Fae and he could do it to himself, but you can’t have ALL the buffs I guess. As an unapologetic Mysterious Emissary apologist, I’m excited to try it if only for making his Changeling summons a lot easier.

               Phew. Home stretch, folks. Lynch was reviewed in Ten Thunders. Lucius will be in Guild, who are the only faction we’ve got left to review. See you next time!