Monday, September 4, 2023

Ballad for the Working Man: Musing on the Foundry Keyword

Yeah, I know, it's the Ten Thunders Poster not the Arcanist one. I don't care. 

    Labor Day seems like a good time to continue my delve into the world of the Arcanists. They are, at least nominally, supposed to be representatives of the working people of Malifaux after all. They also have a bunch of terrorists and a guy who mutates people into animals, but hey, nobody’s perfect. Also, do you like having equal rights and the right to vote for everyone in the US? Thank an Arcanist. 

I pity the fool that fights him near a scrap marker.

When looking at how I wanted to approach things, I usually try to find a pair of crews out of the gate: one that hits hard/takes a hit and one that can move well. As I mentioned before, Mei Feng is who led me into this journey in the first place, and she has a little bit of both. Her movement is primarily coming from Ride the Rails which, while letting you go a long distance, can be a little fiddly at times due to needing to use a walk action to do it rather than just your bonus action like Leap. Also, at least when I was playing them before in the 10T, they didn’t hit especially hard either. Now, that may be a bit different in the Arcanists with the addition of a soulstone wielding Neil Henry (or Mr. H as he is known in my 1988 crew, pictured above) but they’re certainly not going to be setting the world on fire like some of the uber awesome offensive crews. Where they really seemed to excel in my hands is getting to a spot and holding it. Shielded, Armored, big wounds, and getting healed by other members of the crew makes for a group of objective holders that I think will be difficult for most crews to shift. That can be quite useful for a lot of the strategies in the current Gaining Grounds like Covert Ops and Guard the Stash. 

        They’re also the crew I’ve got the most table-ready miniatures for, so that makes them an easy choice. I’ve painted up the 1988 box set and Fat Cap in various 1980s themed motifs. Gumdrop (Mei Feng) either intentionally or not is very reminiscent of Jubilee, who debuted in the X-Men in 1989 (close enough). One of the Rail Workers, Mad Mop, reminded me of the cover to Quiet Riot’s 1983 album “Metal Health” so I went with something along the same lines for him. King Cry Baby is probably supposed to be a reference to the Johnny Depp movie of a similar name, but I wanted somebody to look like Prince so I went down the Purple Rain route instead. The guy who replaces Kang (I can’t remember the name) reminded me of Guile from Street Fighter, so I went that way with him (not that I expect him to get a lot of table time, unfortunately). And Fat Cap (the metal/rail golem) reminded me of the Ninja Turtles Party Wagon, so lots of yellow, green, and orange have been deployed. I wasn’t sure what to do with the Mechanized Pork Chop at first, but after I saw it on the tabletop and realized how out of control it can get, there was really no option besides having him embody the power of 80s wrestling paragon Hulk Hogan and have my mecha porkchop unleash the power of Hogamania on an unsuspecting Malifaux world. I didn’t really come up with anything yet for Sparks, so he just has on brown overalls until I think of something better to do with him, but one of his survivor friends made a passable T-800, so the Gremlinator was born. Still trying to come up with something for the Rock Hopper as well, if people have suggestions. 

I had initially thought of Foundry as a keyword that wants to go punch people in the nose. After all, Mei and Sparks can give you fast, focused, shielded Rail Golems that land in the opponent’s face and start smashing on turn 1 potentially. But the big guy’s attacks, while having high numbers on them for damage, don’t have triggers or counter-defensive tech to help make those blows stick. I was consistently underwhelmed with its offensive output, if I’m being honest, and that’s not great when your master is focused on support rather than providing offensive output of her own. What I think I’ve realized now is that they’re going to play better going to an important spot on the battlefield, venting steam, and saying “Alright, come and move me” to the opponent. Concealing terrain really messes up a lot of crews game plans, and if they’re not constructs and they have to deal with the hazardous while trying to plink through your defenses, so much the better. Moreover, if the opponent takes the bait and goes in, that’s when Neil Henry can pop into the fray to help mop things up. And if they don’t take the bait, you’ve got your rail golem in presumably an important part of the map, holding an objective or a choke point uncontested, and you can go about scoring your VPs. 

        They do seem to struggle with Willpower, but many of those attacks will hopefully be disrupted to an extent by the concealing auras. They also don’t particularly like crews that can take your conditions away/change them, so Pandora, particularly Pandora 2, could really be a problem. That makes Neverborn stick out as a potential weakness, though the flip side of that is, if the opponent isn’t playing one of those crews we’re weak against, the faction as a whole doesn’t have a lot of anti-armor tech and would potentially struggle against us. I’ll have to give that a bit more thought. I don’t love 50/50 flips that I have no say in, so if there’s a better crew out there to handle them that may be the way to go. 


There are other options for the sticky/smashy crew in Arcanists as well. I have most of a Hoffman crew (many of the models in the 1e metal, the sculpts of which hold up in most cases. Except for Ryle. Poor, poor Ryle.) They have less mobility overall than Mei, I would say, but certainly more hitting power and potentially more staying power as well. If I wanted to lean fully into the smashy castle play style, I’d probably go that way.  

        The crew I’m looking at as a compliment to the Foundry gang is Chimera, who have far more mobility while still being able to do some hitting of their own. I think they’d be better suited to driving the markers in Carve a Path (which can also be a rough time for foundry, since they remove the scrap markers we need for Rail Riding.) I’ve always loved the models, and the first set of beasts I painted up on my own were some of the better early painting work I’d ever done. Sadly, I sold them off for a little extra cash and to down-size my collection a bit back in the grad school days, but that just means I can repaint an even better version today. For the record, I prefer old man Marcus to his current F*ck Boy iteration, but I guess he’s mostly played as a beast-man these days, so it doesn’t really matter. The other option I have for the highly mobile crew is Showgirl. My collection is a bit less complete there, but I think I have most of the keyword through the 1e metal box, some of the alternate sculpts, and a Dark Carnival Coryphée boxed set. They’ll be a bit of a hodge-podge visually, but they could at least be fielded if the Chimera stuff doesn’t work out the way I’m wanting. I bought the Avatar boxed set back in the day, so I’d even have decoy marker models. More recent stuff like Dorian Crowe and the guy from the Explorers society would be missing, though. I have no idea how effective they are, though I do recall somebody on a podcast talking about using them (especially the latter guy) to have an unexpected offensive punch in a keyword where folks don’t generally see it coming. 

        Oh well, one thing at a time. I need to finish painting up my Foundry, then maybe actually get them on the board to see how they play in this new faction. I’ll go get to that now. Talk to you next time. Happy Labor Day. 

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