Happy M3E release day everybody! To celebrate, here's a guest post from Shawn Lee Christoffers describing the Zoraida crew he used to win the day 2 MuseonCon Tournament.
General Crew Build for Tournament Play
Zoraida (7 stones)
The First Mate
How Does the Crew Work?
The way I play this crew is using the power of stealth for my scheme runners and my Master to control the more problematic models of my enemy crew. By cutting my crew into two parts, one focused on scheming and the other on the power of obey, I can threaten large areas of the board with denial and scoring.
How Has the Crew/Keyword Changed Since M2E?
The main distinction of the crew is how Zoraida uses her swampfiends as her eyes for her magic. Eyes in the Night: This model may draw LoS and range for its non-melee Actions from friendly Swampfiends within 12" and enemy models with a Voodoo Upgrade attached. This gives her a large threat range that make it hard for the enemy to predict how your going to effect the board. It's definitely challenging to use the ability to the fullest. One of the best effect for this ability is using forest terrain. By keeping Zoraida behind a forest with a swampfiend within it, will allow her to play a very safe way. Forcing the enemy to kill the eyes and not the brains. It a great trick with assassination in the pool.
Who are the Key Pieces in the Keyword, and What Are Their Roles?
Zoraida, the manipulator of fate, gives extra AP for her models or the enemies. Which is always in your favor. The First Mate, the greatest silurid, is the crew's anti schemer and expensive scheme runner. Grootslang, big and fast on your side of the table. He uses lair markers to burrow to any other marker on your side of the table, giving support where you need it. Bad JuJu, punching bag and tank, he assist his crew by being a drain of Ap on your opponents side.
Rate the Keyword on the Following Criteria from 0-14
-Killing Power (7 out of 14)
Swampfiends are very average in the destroying aspect. Bad Juju can hit hard but he is a tad slow. Generally with Zoraida, she hopes the enemy brings some big hitter and you can have it kill his allies.
-Survivability (11 out of 14) or (3 out 14)
Stealth on your small models and The First Mate helps against neverborn issues of range combat. Not being able to be targeted outside of 6 inches makes all your scheme runners, silurids and gupps, very annoying to get to. Sadly the die within that 6in bubble. This gives them that bummer score of 3. Like a strong gust can blow these guys up. Mostly, you play a hide and ambush with these models or leap behind the enemy lines to run.
(12 out 14)
Silurids leap with stealth... and only need a 3 to do it. Yeap that's amazing. Some swampfiends also have ambush as a bonus action. Giving the player a 3 inch bonus move to get into better position to attack. Can't be used if engaged, but it played a large role in my tournament play.
-Card Manipulation (11 out 14)
Zoriada is the only card manipulation that you have in the crew. Her ability Reading the Cards - If this model is this Crew's Leader, after an enemy model in LoS Cheats Fate, this model may look at the top card of either Fate Deck and may then discard that card.- Gives her the ability to keep weak cards on damage flips or slightly change fate of her next duel. But your best and only bonus action is the truest card equalizer. Treads of Fate- Both players discard their Control Hands and then draw 6 cards- does 3 things for a swampfiend crew. First it helps keep discard effects from massively taxing the crew, such as demise on Bad Juju and summoning the voodoo doll. Second it gives Zoraida the ability to use high cards to get her obeys out, then refill the control hand. Lastly, it makes opponents play poorly. It dosen't seem like it would on first glance, but most opponents will try to use all their great cards before Zoraida spin the wheel of fate. Yet, just because you can force everyone to discard their hands dosen't mean you should. Just let them cheat and enjoy that empty opponent's hand.
Which Keyword Models (Outside of the Master) Are The MVP and the LVP?
For killing schemes, Bad JuJu is MVP. He hits hard and can use his demise (eternal). This ability gives him better hard to kill by healing him four after he would die. The First Mate may be the best and hardest to kill scheme runner I have ever used. He is very versatile with his AP. Letting him drop 2 scheme markers a turn or kill other scheme runners beside him.
The Voodoo Doll, Zoraida's totem is LVP. Honestly, it's horrible. The range of using the voodoo doll, the nerf to its health from 6 to 3, and how you only gain one condition on the hex target, takes a hard shift from M2E single model debuff into using it as a scrap marker. Its best ability is to die and draw one card. More on that later!
Are There Versatile Models and/or Upgrades You Take Routinely?
Vasilisa and Wicked Dolls are my go to versatile models. Vasilisa is a hidden gem in Neverborn. Armor 2, 7 wounds, ability to heal herself or other puppets, and two amazing abilities. She can summon stitched together or wicked dolls with scrap markers. Its a hard summon requiring a 9 of mask that cant be stoned for, but luckily voodoo doll can kill itself and give you that scrap marker turn one. Zoraida can then discard her hand and try to find that mask card. Works most of the time. The second ability is called Pulling the Strings, This model may remove a Scheme Marker within 3" of the target. Friendly Minion only.Target takes an Action. Then, if a Scheme Marker was not removed when this Action was declared, kill the target during the End Phase. This works greatly with Wicked Dolls because when Vasilisa walks, she picks up 1 Sz puppets and takes them along. Making her great at antischeming. Wicked Dolls, at cost 3, are stealthed like silurids and can drop scheme markers. A bit of an investment of 11 stones but together they make up my left or right flank.
There you have it. Zoraida has been an early darling in the M3E era for a number of metas, for reasons that may be apparent from what you read above. Interestingly, I asked Shawn if he had considered working in a big hitter like the Hooded Rider to make up for some of his lower hitting power in the, which is something else I've seen deployed elsewhere. He pointed out that he doesn't really care for having his hitter not safe to use before turn 3, and he didn't like having his Obey stuck in one place. Given that tournament games are most often not making it to turn 5 here earlier in the edition, only having a turn or two of "good" rider action is suboptimal, in his view. He prefers Juju, if nothing else for his ability to soak up AP from the enemy.
Hope everyone else is having a great time post M3E release! Feel free to comment on this if you agree/disagree/have a novel take on Mama Z that isn't mentioned here.