Sunday, October 24, 2021

Six Feet Under: Lady Justice in the Malifaux Burns Era


A not entirely unfounded opinion is that the Guild did very well in the most recent rulebook Malifaux Burns. Not exactly a shock, I suppose, given that they were considered to be somewhat under the power curve before this book came out. There were several things that jumped out at me when I read through the book the first time as potentially “good” or “dangerous.” Some I missed (Bashel is apparently pretty scary and I initially thought that, since he wasn’t a summoner, who cares). But one that tingled my spider sense was the new Lady Justice, Death Touched. And last week I asked a few questions of Matt Lewin, host of the podcast Flippin’ Wyrds (on the rare occasion they post a new episode) and he let me know this may be one of the things people can really have a bad time with, when they aren’t prepared.

The base theory is pretty simple: it’s tough to lose to a model that isn’t on the table. The crew focuses around the use of various versions of the Pine Box action, an action which is cast versus the opponent’s Sz and, if it succeeds, buries them and applies Distracted. Every turn, the buried gets a chance to escape with a WP duel against a TN of 13. If they succeed, or if the model that buried them dies, they pop back out. Lady Justice Death Touched lets the Marshals take 1 wound, drop a coffin marker within 1” of them, and then attempt the Pine Box action against a model within 1” of it, allowing some additional force projection and letting you block up parts of the board with these coffins (hello Research Mission.) Additionally, all of Lady Justice’s attacks can target these buried models, which creates some nice efficiency. The hard part of playing a melee master like Lady J is getting them to the enemy to hit them. So, you know, being able to smack things from anywhere on the board is pretty useful. Charge to a spot you need Lady J to be, hit a buried model, then continue on with her turn (potentially dropping a scheme marker you just moved into position for, for instance.) Even if her crew is having trouble getting things buried she can join in, as new Lady J has a 6” ability toss a coffin marker and bury an enemy model. And on top of that she’s HTW, Regen 2, and potentially Armor 1 with a LLC. 

Judge me next, boss mommy.

Several support models help to enhance the power of this crew. The Jury is one of the biggest ones, as her Exorcism Ritual ability does a ton of work when she activates, dealing 2 damage to every buried model. She can trigger more Pine Boxes as well with her Obey. The Brutal Emissary’s Into the Cage attack isn’t a Pine Box and doesn’t make coffin markers, but it’s a Stat 4 versus size (get in the box, Euripedes) and doesn’t have a claw symbol, meaning its unaffected by any melee specific defenses. One of my initial concerns was that the crew may be a little bit on the slow side, but the fact that the coffin markers make enemies with 1” count as Undead can help to offset that, since it lets Death Marshals gain Fast when they activate within 6”. The keyword’s new model Thirty-Three fits nicely with this, as she brings her own Pine Box, can target buried models with her Peacebringer, and has Incorporeal and Slippery to let her do a little bit of scheming on her own. 

The crew is surprisingly durable, with HtW on many models and Lady J having access to a Shockwave heal. Several models are going to have access to stat advantages versus the size of most enemies, and most crews don’t have a good answer to get them back out again. Coffin markers can close off parts of the board and making the enemies count as Undead usually gves boosts to Marshals. And the bottom line is, a model that is a problem is no longer a problem if its buried. Jedza preventing you from killing members of her crew? Bury her and there’s no more issue. Hoffman shoving pylons around that do insane amounts of irreducible damage? Not if he’s buried. Pandora screwing up your activation order…you get the idea. 

The risk is there for an NPE from this crew (negative play experience). I know that Matt said he’s 1) not lost with the crew yet and 2) the general opinion is that they would rather play a game they enjoy than play against this crew. Now, there are solutions. It’s not an unbeatable crew by any means. A crew that isn’t built around any particular individual models will do better than crews with a lynch pin you can bury. If you focus fire on the Marshal that has buried something you need back, that’s going to help. Blowing the coffin markers up can help clear out the board to help avoid the clutter and restricted movement. Etc etc etc. Not an overpowered crew by any means, but something that could really make for a bad time if you aren’t ready for it. Thus, why I thought it was worth an article. Be aware that this crew is out there. Think about what you’re going to do when you’re up against it. And thanks to Flippin’ Wyrd’s Matt for sharing some thoughts about the crew, as well as the below crew list. 

Death Touched J List (Guild)
Size: 50 - Pool: 4
  Lady Justice, Death Touched
    Lead-Lined Coat
  Scales of Justice
  Death Marshal
  Death Marshal 2
  Death Marshal Recruiter
  The Jury
  Brutal Emissary

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Ortega Family Values: Looking at the new Perdita

 I’ve been looking at Guild more, recently. If nothing else, they’re considered to be on the lower end of the totem pole power wise, so at least I won’t be coming in last while playing broken crews. Moreover, if there’s a definitive hole in my swing when it comes to general Malifaux play, it’s in the killing/combat part of the game. I don’t have a good feel for what it takes to kill a particular model in any situation, so I need to practice that. And the Guild are combat focused, so that seems like a good place to start.

Speaking of starting, I thought I would start by looking back to where I started in Malifaux, with Perdita and the Family crew. Her new title, Nephilim Hunter, gives her the ability to summon the low cost Ortega minions. Normally this wouldn’t be something to get excited over, as the Pistoleros are, well, not great. That’s being generous, frankly. The summoning upgrade she attaches gives them a +1 to their duels when they’re within 2” of another family model, which lets them reach the lofty heights of “average”. They’re not good models at all, and like many people in the Malifaux community, I wrote this new Perdita off the first time I saw it. Something stuck with me, though. I’ve always wanted to play the Ortegas. They were the first crew I ever bought. The family of gunslinging monster hunters is very cool thematically, and I wanted to get them back out. So I kept thinking about it, turning it over in my head, until it finally clicked for me. 

I was sitting in the bleachers at my step-daughter’s volleyball game, waiting for them to warm up, when I read and saw that they get to add in a suit to their duels also. Huh, so that meant they had built in triggers. That might be cool, so let’s look at the triggers. Which is, of course, when I realized that the triggers on the Pistoleros’ attacks, Grudge, puts out Adversary: Family. Now that was interesting. Some cheap, disposable models to throw adversary at the enemy (or at least force some cheating to create hand pressure). Plus, the Family can be pretty squishy, so adding some more ablative wounds to screen and protect the important ones is a good thing. The summoning upgrades feel like a little bit of a double edged blessing, and I’m going to have to do some fiddling to understand the best way to employ them. They’re unique, so you have to put them in the right places at the right time. Ironically, if you have one whose effect when they come into play (removing scheme markers, ending a condition, etc.) are particularly useful, the smart thing for an opponent to do would be to leave the Pistolero alive so you can’t resummon it. That’s a little bit funky and I’ll have to see it in action before I know if it’s a real problem or just one I’ve made up in my head. And they always have Reckles to get a cheap, Fast model. So there’s potential there. I’m guessing you might get them up to grow into a Monster Hunter maybe once in five games at best, so I won’t be counting on that, but if you can get one their stat lines will be pretty impressive with the built in +1s. 

Dita herself shifts gears from killer to leader in this incarnation. The 6” bubble the Ortegas usually want to sit in will have her stationed in the middle to take the most of her Head of the Ortegas ability. Man of the clan have the “Ortega Family Values” trigger on one or more of their attacks, allowing another family member to either draw a card or concentrate. Dita changes this from a choice to getting both bonuses. Moreover, every Ortega has A Por El, which lets you discard a card to let a lower cost Ortega take an action out of turn. If that is a concentrate action and you’re within 6” or Perdita, that’s another card drawn. That’s potentially a lot of card cycling, and I’m very intrigued by that. I think that she’ll spend most of her AP summoning and doing her Trick Shot action to push models, hand out stunned to enemies, and trigger more Family Values. Her gun doesn’t have Critical Strike anymore, so you have just the 2/4/5 damage track of most Ortegas, which isn’t impressive but will do in a pinch. And she’s got a 12” pulse that doesn’t require LoS to hand out shielded, again helping to shore up some of the squishiness. Likely she and Francisco will have Lead Lined Coat (though I’m curious to see if it would be better elsewhere, since she won’t be needing to be in the thick of it) so they’ll be pretty resilient. 

I don’t know if it’s actually any good or not, but having a tailored hand and some resilience seems like it would go a long way with this crew. Phiasco and I set up a game and played through turn one, and I drew/cycled about a dozen cards. I already have some parts of it where I think I can do better next time. There may be something there, and I’m tentatively optimistic. I’ll keep you updated with how it goes.