Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Broken Promises Upgrades Review: Guild

Home stretch, Musers. One faction to go. Before we jump in, though, one last word about our Patreon account. Inspired by Kyle AKA Kyodee (I mouth it to myself everytime he says it on Schemes and Stones) I decided to add a monthly drawing for models from my patreons, which will start next month. Next month's model is a Miss Ery, an alternate Teddy model from a previous Gencon. Only people who've signed up for our Patreon by September 30th are eligible for this drawing. So, if you want a cute, adorable li'l Teddy Bear of horrible murder, and you've got a dollar to help support our blog, we'd love to have it.

Lady Justice

               The symbol of the Guild in many ways, it’s been a shame that she hasn’t seen a ton of table time for most players. To address this, Lady J’s upgrade Swordfighter was the first one to be released in the original preview ads for the book in Wyrd Chronicles, and it’s easy to see why. Her (2) Acrobatic Assault Tactical Action changes her from being a balls out offensive model to one that can act tactically and function for area denial. It allows her to place within 4” and then take a (1) Ml attack, then place 4” away from that. If she damages an enemy with the attack, she gains a condition called Counterstance which grants a + to Df flips and adds a mask to her defense. Translation: do not attack Lady Justice in melee. Adding to her offensive capabilities, Justice at the End of a Blade lets her pick an enemy Enforcer, Henchman, or Master and gain + to all flips against that model until the end of the turn. There’s some versatility there, as you can use it to add to her ability to take that model down or, if you’re expecting a countercharge, name the offensive model and add to her defense. Most Lady Justice crews run her pretty upgrade light anyways, so there’s no reason NOT to take this.
               Ashwood Coffin lets her join the rest of her Guild Marshals in crafting her casket beforehand and using it to throw the Guild’s enemies into a pocket dimension. Her coffin action has a Ca of 7, but otherwise works pretty much the same as the Death Marshals. I can see I being useful to keep in her pocket for when she runs herself into a situation where she charges multiple models and kills one but can’t take down the others, or to deal with High Df Low Wp opponents. Additionally, she gains an attack called Punishment that lets her strike buried models. It’s Ca 7 vs. Df and 3/4/5, so it’ll put some hurt on in the situations where you get to use it. It would have probably seen more anti-Arcanist play if Practiced Production-Malifaux Raptors hadn’t gotten a nerf, but could still be useful against Leviticus I suppose. I don’t think boxing someone and then attacking them (which is thematically the point of the attack, I suppose) is very efficient. I think this upgrade will be seen a lot less frequently than Swordfighter, but could still be useful.


               Sonnia has had a rough last few years in Malifaux. First she gets possessed by a Tyrant. Then her best friend locks her inside an iron mask. And then the Tyrant leaves her to go become the burning man, severely burning her in the process. I think she can be forgiven for being a little cranky (although I think most of the Witchling Stalkers might not have much sympathy for her.) Maybe that’s why she’s got an upgrade to make her better at melee: she needs to work out some frustration. No More Mask lets her use Ml for her Forbidden Lore ability and, if she does, adds a Blast to her moderate and severe damage. Additionally, any model that she damages in melee gains Burning and gets pushed away from her. I don’t think she’s going toe to toe with the Viktorias anytime soon, but I’ve been surprised more than once when I’ve tried to engage Sonnia in melee with a little scheme runner or something and gotten my butt handed to me. She’s already decent, it’s just that the ranged attacks are so much better. I still think this upgrade is mostly just there to discourage you from trying to engage her, but it’s interesting that it gives her some more options.
               Cherufe’s Parting Gift gives the Purifying Flame the Witch Hunter characteristic and allows her to summon it out of any enemy models that die with Burning on them (as long as you don’t summon anything else.) Free model summoning is a good thing, but nobody used the Purifying Flame before this. Partially this is because the model hasn’t historically been seen as all that effective, and partially because the Malifaux Child can copy her Flame Walls. You have to sacrifice any other totems you have in play if you bring out the Purifying Flame, so that’s not a great combination with this upgrade. Follow the Flame is maybe a little more interesting, as it lets Witch Hunters within 12” and LoS of each other activate after each other as Chain Activations. My first thought is, maybe, a Witchling Handler putting her burning buff on a Thrall and then sending it in to smash and…burn things? No, probably just “Model A sets Model B on fire, then Sonnia Chain activates and blows up model B.” I don’t know, I’m not sold.


               My first love in Malifaux, the gunslinger has always had a reputation as being a strong option as a starter master. Wyrd seems to have leaned into this with Fastest Draw in Malifaux. It gives her +2 to initiative flips and lets her draw a card if she loses anyways. Simple. Straightforward. Effective. Especially given her crew’s propensity for wanting to chain a couple of strong activations together and seize the advantage, it’s a good upgrade for her. Not much else to say.
               Shooting Cans gives her a little bit of scheme marker removal. She gains a Tactical Action to remove target Scheme Marker with a TN equal to 5 plus the number of inches from Perdita to the marker. Additionally, with a tome she can take the action again, as long as the next target is further away than the one she just removed. Again, not too complicated (other than the math, I guess) but it’s alright. I imagine you’ll try to find space for it in pools with lots of marker placement. And, of course Perdita finds a way to solve the problem of enemy scheme markers by shooting them.


               Hoffman’s needed a little love for a while too, and I’m glad to see him get it. I find him to be one of the most interesting characters in Malifaux, and frankly who doesn’t like a crew with big stompy robots? Improved Harness is the upgrade you’re going to see in every game. Increasing his armor by a point and giving him a (0) action for a pseudo-leap are decent additions, but the real strength is Adaptive Armor. One of his crews’ great weaknesses is models that ignore Armor. Generally models with Armor don’t have great defense, so if you can get around it (see also: the Viktorias) Hoff’s crews go down in flames. This upgrade prevents any models within 6” of Hoff from ignoring armor. That’s going to make the Hoff ball pretty tough to crack.
               Pneumatic Upgrades is something very different, but still pretty interesting. Apparently the head of the Amalgamations Office is going full-on with his hypocrisy, as he’s going to start “upgrading” other living models to become cyborgs like his brother Ryle. Again there’s an ability we probably don’t care much about, Power Conductors, that lets him cancel Power Loop on any number of friendly models in play to increase the range of one of his Ca’s by 2” per ended loop. Don’t really see this getting a ton of mileage. The interesting part is We Have the Technology, a (1) action to attach a Cyborg upgrade to a non-construct Guild model within range. Cyborg gives them a limited ability to participate in the Power Loop (they can only use one stat a turn, but there’s no limit on other constructs using THEIR stats.) More importantly, it gives the Cyborg a (0) to attach one of Hoffman’s Modifications to itself. This is deceptively useful, as one of Hoff’s problems is his just not having enough AP to do everything he needs to in a turn. If he had been the one required to attach the Mods, this would be just kind of a side-grade. But, their being able to do it themselves frees him up to do other things. Obviously there’s a lot of interesting options for who to make into a Cyborg (there’s a Rare 3 limit on the upgrade, so you can only do so many.) Francisco comes immediately to mind, if only to let him share his Ml 7 to the other power looped models. Personally, I’m kind of interested in making a Robo-cutioner who can attach the Nimble upgrade to himself. That plus his 0 stone upgrade could make Fat Wolverine pretty darned speedy.


               The Secretary-General may be on the outs with the new GJ, but he’s not going down without a fight. His big buffs from the 2017 erratas started the process, and Deep Pockets is some nice Icing on that cake. Essentially he gets a better version of Arcane Reservoir. His hand size is one bigger, and he can discard a card at the beginning of his turn to draw one. And if that’s not enough, you can reveal the card you drew and compare it to the one you discarded. If its value is lower, you can pitch it as well and draw again. Hand manipulation is nice. There’s a reason I play Lynch as much as I do. I’ve always felt kind of bad that my two main factions are Guild and Neverborn but, for whatever reason (read: he used to be bad) I didn’t have Lucius crew. I should probably rectify that at some point…
               The other upgrade, Condescending, I’m less crazy about. The Perks of Power lets you remove an enemy scheme marker at the start of Lucius’ activation as long as he’s ahead on VPs. Seems like a “Win-More” ability to me, which isn’t great. He can add a soulstone to his pool if he kills a friendly minion with Devil’s Deal which, I’m led to understand, doesn’t happen very often. And finally he can perform a Ca 6 v. Wp to block a target model from cheating fate. I mean, Tannen is a mimic, and he already sort of does this in an aura versus just one target. Not as crazy about this one. Lucius will just have to settle for having some of the best card manipulation in the game.


               Much like with Sandeep, Nellie’s already really good and, frankly, probably is on top of the faction as far as tournament play is concerned. Thus, I didn’t expect a ton from her upgrades. Editor in Chief offers an interesting option, however. Headline: Guild Destined for Victory is another “Win-More” ability, but letting everybody heal a point and gain a + to WP is also kinda situational. On the other hand, she gains the (0) action Frantic Editing to discard a soulstone and change one of her unrevealed schemes for a different one in the pool. That could have some interesting uses, though I suppose an argument could be made that the best tactical players would expect to have selected the right schemes from the beginning. 2 stones for an upgrade where you MIGHT only need one of the abilities (and then, only if you’ve screwed up) is maybe not the best use of stones in the world.
               Alternate Facts would be a fun upgrade name, if it didn’t hit too close to home. It gives her a passive ability to gain a point of evidence everytime someone discards an upgrade within 8” of her. She gains a trigger on Propaganda to apply the Fees condition to an enemy, so maybe she can play nice with the Jury if she has that upgrade, as the Fees condition has previously been underwhelming.) And, finally, she can spend a (0) to draw cards equal to the value of her Evidence condition. It’d be great if it ended there, but it then makes you end the Evidence condition. That makes it tougher, as you may need the Evidence to fuel some of her abilities, but if you have a few extra points of Evidence you could get some good mileage out of this. Kind of a weird mixed bag of an upgrade, really. Like I said, Nellie’s fine without any help.
               Oh yeah, her Conflux. She has one of those. It’s kind of funny how the Emissaries all ended up being either amazing or meh, isn’t it? Like, there’s no Emissaries that are just good. Anyways, the Brutal doesn’t see a ton of play as it stands. Nellie’s Conflux gives him a mask trigger on its Rule of Law attack to send her some Evidence. Additionally, he gains a (0) to put a condition on an enemy model that lets Nellie draw three cards at the start of its activation. The model can choose to take up to three damage and reduce the cards she draws by the same amount. That’s pretty nasty, but you always have to realize that, since the choice is theirs, they will always give you the option that gives you the least benefit. I don’t like giving that power to my opponent. Still, not bad for a (0), but I imagine Nellie’s got better stuff to spend her Stones on, especially with all the new toys from Book 5.

Phew. We did it, folks. That’s all the upgrades from Book 5. We’ll be going back to the regular once per week schedule after this. Tune in next time for an in-depth review of the Through the Breach: Core Rules book. 

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