To continue with this series of…musings…I think I’m resolved to give the Ten Thunders a go. The way I put it was something to the effect of “as goes Lynch, so go I.” Is this a rational way to make a decision? No, probably not. But this is a silly game with murderous teddy bears and zombie hookers, so I think we’ve probably tossed out any requirement for serious consideration in our decision making.
I thought this would probably be a good time to discuss my thoughts on the faction as a whole. My history with the Thunders is a bit of an odd one, as I never set out to actually play them. It just happened that, when the M1E book Storm of Shadows came out and introduced them, I needed Lynch and McCabe to continue growing my collection of Neverborn and Guild. Then I picked up a Misaki because ninjas were cool. Then I started adding bits and bobs and, next thing you know, I have part of a faction. The fact that Phiasco plays Thunders and we were frequent sparring partners made me hesitate to expand too much in that direction, as I like to have games be as diverse as possible. Additionally, as we were going through the last year of school and job searching, paired with the fact that I was a long way from a Malifaux community when I was living in western Virginia, and as a result I haven't bought very many models from Book 3 of M2E forward. As such my collection isn’t really at a point where I feel comfortable putting them out on the board competitively right now. Mainly, I’m missing two of the fairly key pieces that most Thunders crews bring for games: Yasunori and one of the Shadow Emissary or Sensei Yu. Without them, my Ten Thunders will be missing a lot of the things that give the faction their personal style and reputation.
Which I suppose warrants a discussion of what that style is. When most people think Ten Thunders, there are a couple of things that come to mind. One is the Focus condition. The Thunders have a lot of ways to get it outside of taking an action. The old classic is through the Recalled Training upgrade, which allows one to discard it at the beginning of a model’s actions and gain a + to all flips for the rest of the turn, basically a super Focus that lasts for the rest of the turn. They’ve had this since the beginning of M2E, and it’s really defined their playstyle. Somehow, despite its ubiquity, its managed to escape each round of nerfs without being modified, so this is still very much the case. Most of the time, a model that’s planning on being committed to melee or placed in danger will start the game with an RT attached, which can add a lot of soft costs to crew construction beyond the cost of the models themselves. In addition, a number of Thunders models have actions to hand out Focus. The aforementioned Shadow Emissary and Sensei Yu both play with Focus, as well as a handful of other faction models. The overall effect is to create crews focused more on individual, punishing strikes rather than a crew of brawlers that want to dive in and start throwing blows around randomly.
The other feature are the use of pushes to shove models around. Again, Yu and the Emissary are the usual suspects for this role. The increased mobility is a big part of what makes the “typical” faction crews work, and is a big reason why people play them. Generally, when you’re preparing to play against them, you have to keep in mind the realistic possibility that they can strike with their heavy hitters wherever they want to on the board by turn 2 (if not sooner.) Usually that comes in the form of a charging Yasunori lashing out with a series of brutal, repeated melee strikes, but the same methods can be applied to shove a master like Misaki or Shen Long down your throat as well. There are no safe spaces on the board, basically, if the Thunders want to attack it.
Their weaknesses tend to come when they get bogged down. They aren’t as fragile as the Neverborn, but they’re going to be more successful when they fight in a guerilla style with specific targets rather than engaging in long protracted engagements and hoping to muddle through. Models like Yin the Penangalan or Gwyneth Maddox have some decent defensive tech, particularly with the Smoke Grenades upgrades or defensive buffs from Charm Warders, but glass cannons are more common than tanks. Additionally, they don’t have a preponderance of anti-armor abilities in faction. The Arcanists in particular can be tough for this reason, and you often have to either focus fire on a particular key target or try to avoid combat with them unless entirely necessary.
So, right now this is what I have available.
Lynch Crew: Hungering Darkness, 2x Illuminated, 2x Depleted, Gwyneth Maddox, Mr. Graves, Mr. Tannen, 2x Beckoner.
Lucas McCabe: Sidir Alchibal, Luna, 3x Wastrels
Misaki: Shang, Ototo, 2x Torekage, 2x Thunder Archers, Yamaziko
Miscellaneous: Yin, Izamu, Oiran, Shadow Effigy, Ten Thunder Brother, Terracotta Warrior, Monk of the High River
I think the Emissary is my first priority for new additions, as he’s flexible enough to work in most crews as a lynchpin and enabler but can dish out some offensive punishment when necessary, something that Yu can’t really do (also, I don’t have to buy a whole crew to get the SE, which is nice.) Hopefully by next week I’ll have some tabletop results to discuss, and maybe a break-down of what crew builds I’m looking at. Now I just have to figure out how I’m going to paint some Dragon Balls to put on my Shadow Emissary’s base.