Friday, February 7, 2014

Wave 2 Beta Wrap-Up: The Neverborn

The Neverborn are probably “my” faction, in that I’ve played them the most since the change-over (though somehow the Ten Thunders have managed to sneak in there as well. I guess that’s sort of what they do.) As such, I followed the faction’s progress through the Beta process much closer than any of the others, and I had some pretty strong opinions going into this on what worked and what didn’t. It’s possible that’s a good thing, as I got probably the least amount of forum feedback on this topic than the other two I’d polled previously. It may be my imagination, but the Neverborn faction forum has always seemed a little slow compared to the others, so maybe I shouldn’t be too surprised at the apathy. But still, I was surprised to only have 3 responses as I wrote this. Is it because the Wave 2 Models were unremarkable? Most of the non-Collodi minions and enforcers didn’t see a ton of change after a certain point in the process, so have we been “done” for a while now, and that’s why there wasn’t a big rush of opinions?

Is it because we're too busy hiding under your beds?

Let’s take a look at the Neverborn models and then I’ll discuss this a bit more at the end. As with the previous articles, this is going to focus on the faction as a whole, looking for models with general utility rather than those with a specific focus towards certain crews.

Coppelius and Alps-I’m lumping them together, because I can’t really see hiring Alps on their own. They need someone to trigger slow, and Coppelius does that while also summoning more of them so they can work in groups. He makes more alps through a relatively easy summon spell requiring the Plucked Eyeball condition, which he gets from his melee attack. He’s lost mobility and a significant amount of complexity from his first edition form, which can make separating old bias somewhat tricky when gauging his strength. Ultimately, I think he’ll do well in Dreamer crews and can perhaps play a role in others, but I’m just not bowled over by what Coppelius brings to the table.

Lelu and Lillitu-These two also deserved to be spoken of together, although they are not required to be paired up the way they used to be. They are still interlinked, but importantly they don’t start taking wounds when their counterpart is off of the board. Their “Same oppressive force” trait allows healing and conditions to be passed between them. This is a double edged sword, albeit with one edge sharper than the other. The healing being passed is always strong, and just being able to pass Focus or Defensive to both for the cost of 1 AP is pretty good, to say nothing of the specific conditions they both can generate. However, you have to beware of negative conditions like Burning or Poison, which will also be shared unless you discard two cards. I could really see McMourning or Sonnia being tricky match-ups in this regard. Of the two, Lillitu is probably the best on her own, with Lelu needing some help to push enemies into his threat range so he can pounce. They are both a bit fragile, as many Neverborn models are, but their Regeneration (remember it passes between the two of them) and individual healing abilities helps to offset some of this. 14 points for the pair of them is pretty expensive, though, and any 7 soulstone model in the Neverborn is going to have to be compared to the Illuminated. I don’t think these two come out ahead in that comparison.

Insidious Madness-In the right crew, these guys could be seriously frightening. There’s a reason they had to be reduced to Rare 3, and that reason’s name is Pandora. Wk7 and incorporeal means they’re pretty speedy for objective running or getting into position to cause problems. They do this by spreading WP debuffs, both through their 4 inch aura requiring you to discard if you’re going to cheat fate on a WP duel and the “I Can Hear Them” condition they place on enemies with their attack. Considering how many Neverborn models attack WP, I see them being potentially quite useful in the future.

Black Blood Shaman-The shaman is essentially two of Lillith’s upgrades given legs and the ability to walk around and play the game on their own, letting you run Nephilim grow lists without her. This benefits Lillith by freeing up her Upgrade slots, but also greatly improves the ability to use Nephilim in non-Lillith crews. This is frankly a great choice on the part of the designers. Given the fact that Lynch is not particularly dependent on Brilliance anymore to function and Zoraida isn’t really anchored to any particular crew, the Shaman lets them get in on grow list action as well. It even gives you an additional means of letting your tots mature as well, using his “Blood Feast” spell that lets you sacrifice corpse counters to for the grow effect.The Shaman can even stab the non-Nephilim models you bring at the beginning of the game to give them Black Blood, keeping them safe from collateral damage.  It’s still a little “combo”-y for my tastes, but bravo to Justin for putting this into the faction.

Stitched Together-These guys were the poster children for how over-powered Book 2 was and frankly don’t get enough blame for the “Neverfilth” reputation the faction picked up from that point on. As such, you had to expect a dip in power for them. The M2E Stitched Together are no longer the no-brainer auto-includes they used to be. Their old “Does Not Die” ability is replaced by the Hard to Kill/Reactivate mechanism that has been used on some previous models, and I think is a good compromise. Gamble your life actually requires gambling now (probably fitting), as the flips are no longer cheatable and ignore all positive or negative twist on the duel. The Stitched have a CA of 6 for the attack which, considering it targets defense, is going to give you advantage most of the time, but it still will blow up in your face more often than previously. Possibly more interesting is their “Game of Chance” spell that lets the winner of a CA vs. WP duel draw two cards and pitch one. In certain crews (Lynch or Pandora come to mind) these may actually be more desirable than the gamble ability (especially if you have a high crow to trigger either “Heads I Win” or “Tails You Lose,” which are also my favorite trigger names ever.) Plus they retain their creepy fog ability and (thank god) no longer require a suit to cast it. I think the Stitched are a good example of the compromises necessary to bring an overpowered M1E model down to the level of a balanced M2E minion. And, on a personal note, they were probably the part of the Beta I campaigned the hardest for changes that actually ended up in the game. I was one voice among many, but it was still cool to be a part of bringing a model to their final shape.

Tuco-A model that brings reliable ranged to the Neverborn is always going to deserve attention. The thing about Tuco is, you’re going to want to deploy him via From the Shadows downfield, and you’re wrong to do so. Maybe M1E Tuco could pull this off, but M2E Tuco is going to die fast if used in this manner. This Tuco needs to be used for area control, deploying him to a vital spot on the board and letting him dig in with Defensive, shooting at people that come nearby and/or making them walk away with his (0) action. This leads him to feel underpowered, again, in large part because of how strong he was previously. I think, however, that once we learn how to not get him killed on the first turn of the game, Tuco’s going to be quite good at this role in Neverborn crews.

The Depleted-These models frankly felt a little lost at the beginning of the beta, and I was happy to see them shape up into their final form. The Depleted are a tarpit model. With Hard to Kill and Hard to Wound, it’s going to be tough to push the 8 damage onto them to kill them off. That combined with the fact that they explode when they die would seem to make them low priority targets and would suggest that the best course of action is to ignore them. This is tough to do once the Depleted get to grips with you, however, as they get a +twist to disengaging strikes, so they’re going to keep you nearby once you are engaged unless you find a way around them. For four stones, I think they can do a pretty good job of causing your opponent headaches. The only question is going to be whether or not it’s worth spending points on models that are insignificant and can’t score you VPs. I see a lot of them being “Frame for Murder” targets.

Iggy-Iggy’s always been a bit weird, in that he’s the only model in the Neverborn that interacts with burning. In a Woe heavy crew, his ability to depress the willpower of the models around him will come in handy, and adding another Incite to a Pandora/Candy crew adds some utility and makes it more likely to let you control one of your opponent’s models, but this is still kind of a corner case. In the meantime, the burning just sort of feels stuck on, or more accurately is a leftover from the fluff that doesn’t really help it synergize with the rest of the faction.

Hooded Rider-The hooded rider doesn’t feel particularly inspired compared to, say, the Mechanical, and doesn’t exactly reflect anything that particularly says “Neverborn” to me. His attack has a relatively standard critical-strike style trigger that uses his masks, but also can use a different trigger to discard counters from around itself. The second trigger might have the most potential to swing a game and makes him an attractive choice when your opponent declares Arcanist or Resurectionist. His Revel in Reclamation (0) action will add some good mobility to the crew, with a potential to move 18” in a turn and bring another model along for 6 of them. His big, last turn of the game ability, Judgement Day, doesn’t seem particularly interesting, letting him make an attack on everything in melee range (3”), but I’ve already said not to judge these models based on these abilities so it doesn’t really factor into my assessment. For 12 stones, I think the Rider is going to draw a lot of attention and get shot to death if you aren’t careful with him. There are probably more efficient ways to spend your points when building a crew.

Of all the articles so far, I think this is the one where I skipped the most models during the assessment. A lot of them may have strength in particular crews or under certain circumstances, but some others were just kind of blah. The Spawn Mother/Gupp combination is something I’ve never really cared for, as it takes too long to set up and doesn’t pay off with quality models in the end. Iggy came pretty close to not getting written up either, until someone finally responded with a comment regarding him on the forum thread.  Going back to proofread, I can see that a lot of my commentary comes off more negative than I really intended as well. While I think the Neverborn get some great models out of Wave 2, I have to wonder whether the relative “nerfing” that some things received kind of puts a damper on the enthusiasm of some readers when it came to this. Plus, the fact that Neverborn strength tends to be a bit less intuitive, since it relies on subterfuge and speed rather than direct strength, makes it all the more likely that there are things here we just haven't found yet. So buck up, Neverborn fans! The future is bright! Some of these minions and enforcers are really good!

Plus we get Nekima, so we'll still get complaints that we're totally broken!

Next up on the article list is the Outcasts, who I again did not get a lot of time to playtest during the beta. Any feedback from forumfolks or in the comments section here would be most appreciated.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Wave 2 Beta Wrap-Up: Gremlins

Everybody’s favorite green little nasties, the Gremlins, are next up on the list of factions to receive a thorough blogging from me. I’ve previously discussed the Ten Thunders, The Guild, and The Arcanists under this format. Once again, the forums have come through in a big way to point me towards the minions and enforcers that have general, cross faction appeal rather than being only useful for a particular crew. As per usual, we’re skipping over the Masters and Henchmen for the time being. Let’s not futz around anymore and get down to business.

The Sow- I don’t want to know why the Sow is three headed. I just don’t. Her melee damage spread is a very respectable 3/5/6 so she’s going to rip things up when she’s in melee. She also can summon piglets with a 5 or higher of crows as a (0) by discarding enemy scheme markers through her “Birth” ability, and similarly spawns some piglets from Farrowing when she dies. A respectable melee beater with some summoning that conjures up…unpleasant mental images.

Rooster Rider- This one definitely drew a lot of attention from the forum folks. With Wk7, Cg7, Reckless,  and Gremlin movement tricks the Rooster Rider is crazy fast. It also has the Warpig’s ability to charge as a (1) and the Stampede trigger from their melee attack, with a gremlin’s Rusty Rifle ranged attack. Their only Achilles Heel is the Rampage ability, which makes them charge the closest legal target if they’re knocked to 2 wounds or less. Makes it pretty Gremlin-y, but worth the 6 stones for what it can do.

Stuffed Pigs and the Taxidermist-These two need to be discussed together, so I thought I’d lump them up. The Taxidermist doesn’t exactly work the way it used to, namely with turning piglets into the stuffed variety as a means of arming the Pigapault. I get the sense there was some discontent over this notion, which has left some of my forum responders not liking the Taxidermist much while others swore by him. Now, his summoning comes off of a (0) action and uses Corpse Markers, which of course will be plentiful in a Gremlin crew but won’t be clumped in your deployment zone with the ‘Pult.  The Piglets themselves all have the Bacon Bomb action, in which you flip a suit to determine the range and damage of the blast when the pigs go up. It triggers automatically if they die, and the Taxdiermist can set them all of if he dies. The flip can’t be cheated, so you’re subject to the vagaries of the deck on your bacon bombardiers unless you can stack it in some way (one suggestion coming later on.) The Taxidermist is actually not too bad in melee and generates corpse counters off of successful melee attacks. Combo units like this aren’t really my thing, but they could be potent under the right circumstances.

Bayou Bushwacker-The Bushwhacker’s (0) action lets you generate some mobile cover within 3” around her as the crew moves up the board, which has some obvious benefits both for her and potentially other gremlins that can hide behind her. She has a pretty good statline for a gremlin, and her ability to take bonus shots whenever a gremlin misses with a ranged attack is interesting.  With no defenses she’s a bit fragile, but this may be a model to keep an eye on.

Burt Jebson-I’m not sure what to make of this Burt. 7 points is a lot for a gremlin, which tend to be relatively fragile as a general rule and thus value quantity over quality. Slippery and Hard To Kill will give him some survivability, but 7 wounds and 5 defense aren’t exactly impressive. Moreover, I’m not really sure what he’s supposed to do for you on the board. He has decent damage on his melee attack with Crit strike, and he does have Trigger Crazy to possibly spam off a lot of shots, but still, I’m not that impressed. Crackerjack timing could be useful for clumping models up for things like the Pigapault, Pere Ravage, or the blast from his gun’s severe damage I suppose, though having to spend a (1) for that seems a little impractical. Maybe I’m just not seeing it, but he’s a pass for me as of now.

Gracie-Gracie is a pretty decent tank, particularly for fragile gremlins. Armor 2, Hard To Kill, and healing from Eat your fill and her bite attack are going to make bringing Gracie down pretty tough. 10 Stones is a lot to pay for her, though, so that may limit her utility.

Merris Lacroix-Another star from the Wave 2 Beta is the wannabe Kaeris, Merris Lacroix. His (her?) Gremlin Cunning ability lets you draw 2 cards and then put 3 back on your deck, which is good both for the extra card cycling but also for knowing what suits are coming on subsequent flips (perhaps for setting off Bacon Bombs?) The Bombs Away! ability lets you throw some scheme markers down, which is helpful when paired with his flight ability and gremlin reckless movement. Definitely useful.

Wild Boar-When I read this model’s rules, my first thought was how disruptive they could be by deploying them downfield with From the Shadows and just letting them go nuts with Rampage. Problem is, the boar isn’t tough enough to have much of a chance to survive for long like this and are a bit too expensive to be used as expendable fodder. I think they would have been more interesting if built with one of these strategies in mind, but for now seem to be just a mid-range beater outside of Ulix crews.

Lucky Effigy-Unlike most of the others, this Effigy’s attack actually has a pretty good damage spread, though this is offset by an ML value of 3. Its (0) buff for the crew’s master lets it offset some of the damage done by the various Dumb Luck abilities by having them heal a point of damage when they flip a ram (because god knows a point of damage was too much for Ophelia to pay for her absurd damage output.) It’s “Hit Me!” ability forces models to pass a WP test to attack something other than the effigy, which lets it follow the master or some other important unit around and act as a funny sort of tank. It’s a fairly interesting model that could be pretty disruptive.

Glowin’ Varmint- As has been said about Gremlins since the very beginning of the game, I don’t know if these guys are any good, but they look fun. Their main spellcasting attack can trigger blasts that do damage or pulses that heal everything  nearby. Tinkerin’ with the Unknown creates an interesting sort of interaction with the opponent while giving you something to do with the bad cards in your hand. It allows you to place a control card face down on their stat card and, if the varmint survives to the end of the turn, lets you discard it and get some kind of effect ranging from damage pulses on a crow to healing pulses on a ram. As I said, an interesting sort of interaction with you potentially bluffing your opponents or setting you up for that last little nudge on a turn, but the question will be how exactly you’re going to keep them alive long enough to trigger them.

Bayou Gator-Gators are cheap and mean, to put it bluntly, and were a subject of controversy that led to them being made into peons to try and reduce their value. A 5 stone model with melee expert is scary, and with a good attack like the gators have makes for some serious damage potential. They also have a (3) AP Ml attack that, with a crow, can trigger paralyze. Combine that with the Ambush ability to push 3” and set up for charges and they can get to grips and do 3 attacks relatively simply. They have no defenses, really, so they’re going to die, but they’re going to do a scary amount of damage before they go. Also, nice to see some more swampfiends in the game. If I hadn’t already committed to Hoffman (and if I didn’t already have the models,) I’d be tempted to use Zoraida for the upcoming ToMB project and go swamp heavy. These guys would be an important part of it.

Old Cranky-Any model that has the words “Add 1 soulstone to the crew’s pool” on an ability is going to get my attention. The funny thing is, most of the Gremlin masters I’m familiar with need their totems, so I’m not sure who will realistically be able to switch to this generic. However a totem that boosts the defense and WP of the friendly models around them seems pretty good for Gremlins. I’m reminded of Killa Kans with Kustom Force Fields in Ork armies (from some game we don’t talk about) in that the defense it adds to the army aren’t incredible, but all it has to do is help a few more members of your horde get to where they need to be to be effective. Card cycling as a (0) always makes me happy. His gun is like Granny Ortegas, letting you do blasts or switch to a Seamus-like damage level against a single target. And all of this is only 4 stones. I’ll be interested to see who or what finds a place for him.

Phew, so that’s the Gremlins out of the way. No offense green guys, but I was worried about this one. If there’s one of these articles I expect to get wrong, it’s this one, if only because of my inexperience with the faction. Feel free to set me straight in the comments here or elsewhere.

Now time to move on to the other natives of Malifaux for the next article, The Neverborn. Feel free to share your suggestions on this newthread on the Wyrd forums or in the comments here.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Wave 2 Beta Wrap-Up: Arcanists

I began by taking a look at the Ten Thunders and then moved on to the Guild. The new files drop on the 10th, so as of this writing I have 5 days to get the rest of these things knocked out. There will be five articles to go after this one, so I’m still on track to make it through this series at one article per day. I assure you, no one is more surprised about this fact than me.

This particular article is one of the three remaining factions I don’t really play, so this presented a problem for me. My read on models and their competitive viability is always a bit shaky anyways, and that’s within factions I know well. How would I know whether the Wave 2 Arcanists were good for the faction when I don’t even really know what they’re doing now with only Wave 1? Answer: pass the buck!

Here you go.

I posted a thread to the Wyrd boards looking for feedback on what models I should be writing about in this article. The response was great and really helped point me in the right direction while reading. Probably the biggest benefit was just the reassurance that things I saw which looked strong were, in fact, strong. It was so useful, I’ll likely be doing it for the upcoming articles in the series as well. But, without anymore preamble, let’s dive in and see what jumped out from the Arcanists in Wave 2.

As previously, the point is to take a look at the models that are going to have broad appeal rather than being specifically strong in a particular crew. Because they typically are more complex and deserve more than a short blurb, Henchmen, Masters, and Totems are excluded from this.

Oxfordian Mage: As of now, I believe this is the only model with the Academic type, which is relevant as these models get a +tomes to duels when within 3” of each other that they need for triggers on their casts. They’re also one of, if not the only model with furious casting in M2E, so there’s not a lot of mystery to what they’re supposed to do. They seem like nice cheap ranged damage models, but are a bit slow and fragile. Also, fun fact, the Oxford in their name is Oxford, Mississippi, not Oxford, England. 

Coming to an Arcanist crew near you.

Coryphee and Duet-The designers made a pretty strong choice this time by making the individual Coryphee quite strong on their own, thus incentivizing you to keep them separate rather than immediately pairing into the duet. With armor 2 and +to df and wp flips they’re going to be hard to put down. They push 4” after their melee attacks with a trigger, so they’re still pretty speedy. Interestingly, they gave them puppet in addition to showgirl this time around, so the coryph√©e can be ran with Collodi (a cool idea) although they are specifically only able to form the duet in arcanist crews. With the mobility remaining more or less the same and many of the attack options duplicated in the duet, one imagines the choice between when to combine and get one model with swift rather than 2 individual activations will be situational (reckoning comes to mind as a time when you will want them together.) It may be a choice of letting one of them take a hit first and then combining them for mutual protection. 

Performers-As Collette’s shtick this time around revolves around using scheme markers, it isn’t really a shock that performers are good at putting them out and interacting with them. “Don’t Mind Me” is always good, and their seduction ability allows them to discard any scheme markers (not just friendly ones) as a cost for passing out debuffs to the enemy. Pretty good objective runners for 5 points, though not exceptionally speedy.  

Mannequin-They are solid as ever with Armor 3, cheap at only 4 stones, and can do some interesting moving tricks if you have other showgirls in your crew. Their magician’s assistant ability lets friendly models place scheme markers 6” away from them, which makes for some interesting utility for things like Plant Explosives. Plus they gained Puppet, so they also get to join Collodi's Marionette show. 

Gunsmiths-The first post on the forum thread read simply “Gun. Smiths.” The rest of the thread backed up this initial support, and it’s not hard to see why. Their main attack has a different trigger for each suit that lets you alternately ignore armor, h2w, and h2k; boosts the damage; adds blasts; or prevents the damage being reduced from soulstones. Normally I don’t like these options, but they have a (0) action that lets you pitch a card and add that suit to all your final duel totals. If you are a crew that hands out burning, you can use their other (0), The Hard Way, that gives you a double positive twist to all duels against models with burning. If you attack them, they have a tome trigger to give the attacker burning or a ram trigger to give the gunsmith fast. A very strong ranged model, and one we should probably expect to see fielded quite a bit in the coming months.

Plus they look like this guy.

Mechanical Rider-The Mechanical Rider is widely considered to be the best of the riders, and plays in nicely with some of the Arcanists' themes of focusing on strategy rather than being focused on offensive power. Its attack triggers either allow you to draw cards or drop scheme markers off of a successful attack, up to a maximum of 2. Moreover, she can summon 4ss or less arcanist constructs as a (0) action once the rider has two tomes. Given how powerful summoning is in this edition of the game, it seems like the Mechanical Rider has some good potential.

Silent One-The thing that jumped out at me initially was the Frozen Statue trigger from their defense. It gives them a condition that reduces all damage the Silent One suffers to 1 and is not considered engaged for purposes of Ice Mirror of Shattered Mirror. I sort of picture an interesting combo where they get attacked by their own crew to trigger this, then Raspy uses her as the focus for her blasts to chain out and hit enemy models, letting you dish out damage without having to win duels. For more general crews, I could see them being decent for objective holding strategies like Reconnoiter or Turf War. They also have a good casting attack for range with some decent triggers and healing with their (0) action, though the trigger is only useful in frozen heart crews.

Soulstone Miner-The main appeal of the miner is their “Surprise from Below” ability which allows them to deploy downfield at the end of any turn. This opens up some options for objective grabbing, particularly for schemes like Breakthrough where you need to get into the deployment zone (though, keep in mind, you will have to appear at least 6" away from the enemy DZ when you come onto the board.) As mentioned in James “Mythicfox” Doxy’s interview on Malibites, the fact that they’re constructs makes them synergize a bit better with some crews like Ramos, as opposed to the current champion objective grabber in the faction, the Moleman. Their soulstone generating ability is really just gravy, although I doubt many of us would argue with a model that could inflict 2 wounds to cycle 2 cards through our hand (via SS at the beginning of the turn.) Compare that to Ronin which you have to sacrifice for similar effects. 

Angelica-One of the models that utilizes all of these scheme markers thrown out by Showgirls, Angelica provides a lot of board manipulation. Her Hooked cane lets you push enemy models around, while here Give Them an Encore! gives you a 5” push for friendly non-leader models without having to attack them. The duel result and push distance are all augmented by the number of scheme markers around her, so you'll want to position her carefully when activating. She seems like she’ll thrive in a central position on the board, re-positioning things for the crew's benefit as the game goes along.

Blessed of December-Anytime you see Leap, you know it’s going to be a good thing, especially when paired with Unimpeded and a Cg of 7. These guys are going to move quickly on the board and can do some decent melee in addition to running objectives. When you throw in Frozen Heart and HtW+1, you’ve got a quick, solid model that can do whatever you ask of it in the game, but may be a bit pricy at 9 soulstones.

Fire Gamin-They’re cheap at 4 SSs and everything they do, including dying, passes out burning to enemy models. It’s a shame shame Sonnia can’t take them anymore, so let’s hope she gets an upgrade sometime in the future to get them back. They’ll be a gunsmith’s little buddy and can do some nice things like stoking the Rail Golem or just generally being a problem for enemy crews.

Slateridge Mauler-The four armed bear is tough but pretty slow, so you’re going to need to get it upfield somehow to even have a shot at earning its points back. Paired up with their good but not great melee damage spread and 8SS cost, this one seems like a pass for most crews and, since it doesn't really stand out, may get passed over even in Marcus crews.

Willie-Willie is a scary model in terms of all the blast damage he can put out, much as he was previously. However, with no way to protect himself, you’re going to have to be careful with exposing him too early or the enemy will shoot him to death before he can be effective. He's very all or nothing. I do like his ability to protect your scheme markers, though that may be a bit TOO meta, as I can probably count on one hand the number of times I've seen an opponent destroy one of my scheme markers via Interact during a game.

Arcane Effigy-The main purpose to this model is to supply some much needed status removal to the faction, and it might see use for this alone. Arcane Radiance is decent (particularly if you’re trying to get some more burning for your Gunsmiths) and you may as well do it every turn since it costs you nothing and it has no other (0)s.

General Thoughts: I really should look more at the Arcanists, if only because of how much I enjoy crews where you dance around the combat and focus instead on schemes. You have to win a flip to kill a model. You don't have to win a flip to do an interact and drop a scheme marker. The Arcanists, particularly the Showgirls, are going to excel at this. There’s going to be some debate between the Gunsmiths and the Blessed (as evidenced by the debate that broke out on the forum thread) for higher point combat models, and that’ll probably come down to the rest of the crew build for how well they’ll synergize. I'm leaning in the direction of the Blessed right now, mainly for its speed and versatility, but I certainly see why the Gunsmith is as popular as it is.

Next up, I think we’ll take a look at the newest faction, the Gremlins. Again, this is one I’m not an expert on, so I’ll be counting on you folks to point me in the right direction.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Wave 2 Beta Wrap-Up: The Guild

There seems to have been some positive response to the first in this series of articles, so I’m going to do the best I can to get through the remaining factions prior to the release of the final Wave 2 cards. I set this goal for a couple of reasons, partially because I really want to take a tour through the cards and create a quick resource for those that weren’t involved in the Beta to get up to speed with their faction (or for use as a scouting resource for opposing factions,) and also because I signed up for the Tale of Malifaux Bloggers project, which kicks off on the 17th. More details on this as I get closer to the date. For now, however, time to take a look at the wave 2 models for everybody’s favorite fascists, The Guild.

As before, these are the models that jumped out at me as being noteworthy as of the final Beta update on 1/21st. I am likely wrong in more than one place, and I am also certain some kind souls will come along to inform me of this fact immediately after reading this. To give you an idea of my prognostication ability, I went into last night’s Super Bowl thinking that the ESPN commentators were trying really hard to convince everybody of how good Seattle was, so the Broncos were going to win the thing going away. And, yeah, that didn’t work out. So just assume that most of my predictions of the future are wrong, and you'll be fine.

Guardian- I kind of feel that all the constructs are slightly undertuned in terms of their general stat blocks due to Hoffman’s Power Loop ability. None of them particularly stand out, but since he can theoretically link all their best stats together, perhaps this is a good thing. It does, however, potentially limit their broad-base appeal. The Guardian’s ability to soak wounds from the model it protects is mostly gone, replaced by the ability to hand out Defensive +2 for a (0) and potentially heal the target with a ram trigger. I’ve learned not to underestimate the potency of Defensive in M2E, but I still have to wonder about whether this model is worth 8 points in a faction that is already cluttered with high-point models.

Abuela Ortega-Shotgun wedding used to be included to let non-family models join into the companion chain shenanigans, but perhaps its best utility now is to give you one more model that can prevent interact actions whenever Nino can see them. Granny has a pretty nasty auto-trigger on her shotgun that puts its damage output on par with Seamus’s flintlock, which is kind of fun. The rest of the crew can use their (0) actions to scoot her around on the board, which is also fun, or at least fun to imagine. When exactly the Ortegas turned into the Clampett family, I’m not sure. She has a friendly only obey as well. Could be an interesting model on the table, particularly to Ortega crews.

Guild Hounds-It seemed like these guys were in the beta updates almost weekly, and not often with positive changes. The big issue with them was how to keep them useful without making them very tempting to spam. 3 stone significant models (as long as they’re in pairs) is dangerous territory. The game doesn’t want to end up with dog-pound Guild crews flooding the board. The designers finally just had to make them Rare 4, which I would have thought would mean they could be tuned back up a bit, but that hasn’t really happened yet. It’s possible they may have gotten pushed too far down at this point, but we’ll see as time goes on.

Guard Sergeant-The fat man apparently got a demotion since M1E, but has picked up some interesting abilities. Namely, he can now shift friendly scheme markers up to 4” with a (0), opening up some new ways to get Plant Explosives or any similar schemes done. He also hands out some decent buffs to friendly guardsmen models that are around him. Given that Lucius and McCabe both like Guardsmen, and a number of Guardsmen models have simply become better for any crew to take (or remained strong, in the case of Austringers,) this could lead to him getting included a bit more often in crews.

Hunter-For a while there, Hunters were one of the best models in faction. They’ve since seen some down-grades and been made Rare 2, but still have some strong potential. Their Prowl ability adds some nice mobility at the end of the turn to either get that last bit of movement or perhaps duck out of melee range of things they attacked. They also have the ability to pounce 3” onto a model as a (0) and debuff their melee, with a crow trigger for a free attack. The chain harpoon is always nice for repositioning enemy models and passes out slow. I wish they would have gotten unimpeded, as I think it would have fit better with the overall theme of the model and would have added some movement flexibility. Still pretty good, but we’ll see how much play they get outside of Hoffman now that the full faction is there to compete for the points.

Lawyer-Guild Lawyers in M1E were overcosted and undereffective on the board, and it’s good to see that the designers have made efforts to reverse these two characteristics this time around. They have Lucius’ Highest Authority ability to hand out negative flips to attacks and can buff friendly models against horror tests in a 6” aura. I’m not blown away by the special damages ability, but I like Objection! to hand out slow and paralyzed. Pretty decent mid-cost support model.

Watcher-Watchers apparently spent too much time haning out with Nicodem’s M1E Vultures, as they learned how to allow friendly leader’s to draw line of sight off of them with a (2) action. Additionally, they disrupt the opponent’s ability to utilize cover, so obviously their greatest utility will be in ranged crews. I could see Perdita fielding them, or perhaps a Sonnia crew that doesn’t want to rely on burning to negate LoS.

Witchling Handler-These guys are an interesting mix of attack and support. They have some general buffs for friendly models and even more powerful ones for Witchlings, which is always nice. They give Witchlings a speed boost for starting next to them. They have a very limited version of Sonnia’s summoning on a melee trigger, which is situational at best but could make for an unpleasant surprise for the enemy. Also, their (0) to allow friendly models to hand out burning is always a strong addition to a Sonnia crew. A pretty good model that is very good in a Sonnia Criid crew. Which brings us to her counterpart in the Death Marshals...

No, not that one.

I’ve wanted this model to be good since book 3. I like the idea of a travelling preacher man that criss-crosses Malifaux and hunts down the things that go bump in the night. His first edition failed to be broadly effective because it was too much of a magic bullet for undead and spirits and really couldn’t do much when the enemy didn’t have these traits. His new False Accusation (0) is an amusing fix to this problem, as the Exorcist essentially forces the Undead characteristic onto an enemy model (2 enemy models with a trigger,) allowing his abilities to work even when facing Arcanists or fellow Guildies and creating some nice synergies with other Marshall type models (The Judge will be fast friends with him, I’m thinking.) He’s still not particularly fast or hard-hitting (though the banish trigger could lead to some nasty surprises for unprepared undead enemies,) so I’m not sure how effective he’ll be long term, but it’s a good step in the right direction.

Latigo Pistoleros-These guys were essentially a laughing stock model in M1E, relegated to the same drawer as Malifaux Children and that old paint brush that only has two bristles left that you haven’t gotten around to tossing yet. The new version are good, cheap models for a theme crew that desperately needed some affordable backup. Their rules encourage you to pair one of them off with each of your higher priced guys, providing a defense buff as long as the Pistolero hasn’t activated yet. I like the flexibility of the ram trigger to give you either a bonus to damage or your final duel total, but one has to wonder if there will ever be any rams left for them outside of flips from the deck in a crew so heavy on critical strike. Still, I think they’ll see some use if for no other reason than that the Ortegas just flat-out need cheap guys to go complete objectives and fill out their activations.

Pale Rider-As this is the first rider we’ve run into during this series of articles, let’s pause for a moment and take a look at their general theme. All of them are basically on a clock that is controlled by the game turn, ie as the game goes on, they get more powerful. This power comes in the form of them receiving +1 of their particular suit to each of their duels for the turn number -1. That sentence is atrocious, so to make it clearer, on turn 3 the Pale Rider adds 2 rams to all of his duels, 3 rams on turn 4, and 4 on turn five. Unsurprisingly, almost all of their abilities have a trigger that uses these gradually increasing suits to some devastating effect, culminating in some horrific ability that they would presumably only be able to use on the last turn of the game, as it requires five of the suit to pull off.

Ok, here’s the thing: you are never going to get to use that ability. Just ignore it when you’re reading the card. These abilities are the equivalent of the Magic: The Gathering cards like the Leviathan: they look really neat, and they make fanboys get really excited, but they’re completely impractical.

Worst. Rare. Ever

 In 90% of games when you are up against someone relatively competent, either your opponent will kill the rider before you get to that last turn (probably the most likely outcome), you’ll have tabled them and it’ll be wasted, or the tournament game will end on turn 4 and you won’t even get the chance to try it. The trouble is, these abilities are built into the cost of the model, so you’re paying soulstones for something that you’ll maybe get to use in 1 game out of 10. Not great, and it makes me wonder if they’ll build something into Leviticus’ avatar to speed these abilities along.

Ok, with that out of the way, the Pale Rider isn’t that bad outside of me being annoyed by The Last Crossing. He reduces damage from enemy attacks by the number of rams in the defense flip. On turn 3 his damage track can either be a 6/7/8 or he can heal himself a point for each ram in the duel depending on trigger. He’s unimpeded. He’s a stat brick, but I have to think that just makes it more likely your opponent will try to pounce on him fast and take him off the board. So, the Pale Rider is a fun model, but I have my questions about his competitive viability. I’ll be expecting to be told that I’m an idiot and he’s amazing momentarily.

Clockwork Traps and Guild Pathfinder-I really like what they did with the design on these. Clockwork traps are the first model in the game that don’t have activations, receiving the “Inanimate” trait. Instead, any model that moves, pushes, or is placed in their melee range gets an attack. Any model that starts their activation next to them has to pass a walk duel or gets Slow. They deploy via From the Shadows, so they’re going to be scattered through all the key positions on the board (read: Squatter’s Rights markers.) They’re Rare 4 and not particularly tough (3 wounds Armor+2), but that’s not the point. Their job is to slow the enemy down and be annoying, and I think they do a pretty good job of that. I wish they had something to prevent ranged damage, but that might be a bit too good for a 2 Soulstone model.

Unsurprisingly, since they come in the same box set, the Pathfinder works well with the traps as well. He can summon more of them with a 6 or higher of tomes (remember the Rare 4 limit, of course.) He also deploys via From the Shadows, so he can be nearby to support them or off somewhere else causing mischief. Scavenge makes for some decent card cycling, particularly since his traps will likely be dropping fairly regularly around him. His rifle has some nice triggers and doesn’t scatter onto the traps when he fires into melee, and he can relocate the traps with a 0 action. They have the potential to be a nasty little cluster of unpleasantness for the opponent to deal with, forcing him to waste AP dealing with piddly little traps and the crazy gomer defending them instead of going after the objectives. And they’re duel faction Guild/10T, so they can be used with any of the Asian crews as well. I like them and will likely be getting them painted up for action shortly.

So that’s the models that jumped out at me from the Guild. As usual, feel free to comment. Look for an article about a faction that I don’t know well at all in a couple of days, the Arcanists. I’m accepting comments from and suggestions from folks on the Wyrd threads now for that, so feel free to drop me a line and help me out.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Wave 2 Beta: Ten Thunders

So, last Friday the Open Beta ended and the files reverted to internal playtest, prior to being released officially so we can move on to the Avatars. I thought, in lieu of other meaningful content, that I’d do a series of articles passing through the factions' upcoming models, looking closely at the minions and enforcers with an eye to their generic utility for the faction as a whole, shying away from things related to the new masters or which is obviously pointed at facilitating a specific crew. I don't consider myself enough of an expert on any of the new stuff to really speak with any authority on them, so I'll leave that off for the time being. Also, all of this may change in a couple weeks when the files come out, but if past experience is to be believed most of the final internal changes will be more of the fine-tuning variety than major overhauls.Now, given the fact that I thought The Illuminated were just “ok” when I first reviewed them, there’s a very strong possibility I’m flat-out wrong about a lot of this. But this is my blog, and you clicked on it and read it, so frankly I think you share just as much of the blame as I do for spreading this ridiculous misinformation.

You should be ashamed of yourself. 

Wastrels: Introduced as the answer to the 1.5 Guild problem of having no cheap, fast, objective runners, Wastrels were undeniably overtuned because they were designed to fill a void. I liked them quite a lot, and not just because one of their sculpts reminded me of Alex from Clockwork Orange. Unsurprisingly, they couldn’t quite keep the same level of power in 2nd edition. Wastrels now gain Defensive+1 at the end of their activation if all they do is take walk actions. They don’t have their back alley teleportation thing anymore (apparently Seamus stole it) outside of a (2) action that lets you jump to friendly scheme markers. Their gang weapons also no longer gain positive flips, mostly to keep them from being better with McCabe’s sword than he is. Their “Bravado” ability to discard cards and gain suits for their duels (useful for the Castoffs (2) action which gives them various buffs and abilities) is nowhere near as effective outside of McCabe (they get to draw after they discard when they have an upgrade attached) or with Lynch (discard your aces, pick them back up, repeat) but could be useful in certain situations for other crews. I don’t think it was intentional design symmetry with Lynch, particularly since he's already pretty good anyways, but I like it all the same. After all, where else would you expect to find a Wastrel if not in a brothel like the Honeypot?

Chiaki: The faction had condition removal with the Low River monks already, but she packages it with an interesting utility offensive ability to force enemy models to become insignificant for a turn. She has Manipulative and incorporeal to improve her survivability. A solid mid-point value model.

Izamu: The 1.5 terror that was Izamu the Armor obviously couldn’t stay as nuts as he was after a reset, so perhaps it's no surprise that he managed to stay controversial throughout much of the beta process, with threads of malcontents griping about him all the way to the final day. I have to say, I don’t get what people were expecting. He’s tough. He hits hard. He has a self-heal on a (0) action and, if an enemy manages to kill him in melee, he gets a free swing at them, which is as close to “Slow to Die” as any model in M2E has at this point. I know much of the dispute ranged around whether to focus him on being "tanky" versus "hitty," but I think the model landed in a place where it can do both relatively well. What else are you looking for, unless of course it’s just for him to be the no-brainer beatstick he was previously? He’s still good, just not quasi-broken anymore.

Ten Thunders Brother: These are in a weird place, and I’m hoping to see some modifications before they come out. Maybe I’m missing it, but these rules don’t do anything for me. Companion isn’t as good as it used to be, and that was the main purpose for these guys previously. I'm probably underwhelmed due in large part to not liking their (0) action, due to my not generally caring for abilities which you can’t control. Maybe it’s just that I’m a control freak, but I hate being subject to the vagaries of the deck or your control hand to catch suits for an ability that is this situational. Also, I have a minor gripe that they aren’t Last Blossom anymore, which bums me out as it means they no longer have a way to be played in their original faction, the Outcasts.

Mr. Graves and Mr. Tannen-I’ve written about an earlier iteration of them previously. Since then they’ve made some good changes to make them play nicer together and to give Tannen some much better abilities (his objective is to bore the opponent’s models, not the player controlling him). “Show ya the door” makes Graves play kind of like an offensive linemen for your crew, which appeals to me on an instinctual level. Tannen can take a (1) to gain chatty, which I think was a good compromise from the discussion people were engaged in during heavy testing earlier on and improves his utility significantly. I'm looking forward to giving them some more test runs.

Shadow Effigy- Effigies changed a lot during the tests, due in large part to Collodi also undergoing a lot of fluctuation. All of them follow a general scheme of doing something good for the crew and having a powerful (0) that buffs the master. I’m interested in “Remember the Mission” as it lets minions put more scheme markers on the board without spending their own AP. This is useful for completing schemes and also for abilities like the Wastrel and the Tengu that gain mobility off of them.

Lone Swordsman-This guy follows the Ten Thunders tradition of being a stat brick. He can walk 12” or have an 11” threat range off of his charge due to “Walk the Earth” (0) action giving him a 2” push. The “You will not see another sunrise” ability is very high risk/high reward, but I can see it being a game winner under the right circumstances. Also, I just want one so I can paint him to look like Samurai Jack
Kamaitachi-Ten Thunders gains a generic totem *applause*. The model should be interesting, as a quick Google search of the name indicates it refers to three weasels blowing in a windstorm, apparently.

Their Howling Thunder ability is probably the thing that is going to raise the most eyebrows, as it effectively lets Ten Thunders models pass Recalled Training back and forth rather than discard them, at the cost of a temporary (in most cases) 2 wounds. One imagines Ototo and, say, Sidir passing it back and forth and being on positive flips for the whole game, presuming you can defend the totem (I imagine he will be a high priority target.) Could be a bit strong, and I know Justin was watching this pretty closely at the end of the testing cycle, so don’t be surprised if this sees some changes. I also like the 0 action for pushing models their walk value, as more movement is always good.

Tengu-Aha, here are the generic objective grabbers we’ve all been clamoring for. These, at first blush, remind me of M1E Night Terrors with their low cost, flight, and teleportation tricks. In a vacuum you can imagine a group of them where one moves forward, drops a marker, and the others jump off of it to gain more movement on round one. Other scheme marking tricksters like the Shadow Effigy could facilitate this further. Toss in some healing abilities and a (0) to discard enemy scheme markers, and you’ve got a pretty solid model for 4 stones. Also, in Japanese folklore they look like Skeksis (or dudes with long noses. Depends on the interpretation.) So you’ve got that to look forward to.

Ansatsu Sha- Oh, Sha. What do you say about this model? It was made Rare 2 partway through the Beta, which should probably give you an idea of how crazy strong they used to be. Ten Thunders gets a sniper model, with the always popular “Focus for longer range” rifles that we’ve come to love in this edition. Also, he has “From the Shadows.” Also, they have a + to attack flips Katana attack. Oh, and Hard to Kill. And if your leader dies in their LoS, they get reactivate. And they can hand out Slow to enemy models with a (0) action. Expect to see lots of these being proxied (if anyone has suggestions, they'd be welcome) once the rules become legal. Apparently Justin doesn’t like their name, though, so that may be different when the final cards are released. Let’s all hope that’s the only thing that changes, as these guys are awesome.

 So these are the models that jumped out at me from the first wave of beta files. Next up is going to be a pass through the Guild, so see you for that one. As usual, comments are welcome and encouraged. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Mixed Ten Thunders Musing

The UK Masters tournament was this weekend, making it probably the highest level competitive tournament of the M2E era thus far. The UK meta is, reportedly, quite different from the US, but regardless this tournament is probably one of the best pieces of hard data we have on what competitive M2E will ultimately look like (at least for a few more months until Wave 2 comes out, but I digress.) It’s always funny to see what people are afraid will be totally broken during the theory phases of the game versus what actually ends up being strong competitively. These two things tend to only meet up rarely, particularly in a game as intricate and balanced as Malifaux M2E. The Drowned from M1.5 were a great example of this, as I have yet to meet anyone who saw those rules on paper and thought “Yep, that’s a solid model right there.” Personally, I thought they were garbage and filed them with the Latigo Pistolero after my first reading (though I didn’t think Tuco was that great either, so I’m clearly an idiot.) Instead, it turned out that they were a tough, cheap, fast model that the enemy couldn't afford to ignore and punished the enemy harshly for killing them.

This has something to do with the Masters, I promise. Stay with me.

For weeks now on the Bayou Broadcast (, Craig Johnson (UKRocky) has slammed the hell out of Ten Thunders. When asked to rank the M2E factions competitively, Craig’s list was effectively “In last, Ten Thunders. Above that, all the others in a tie.” Most of this concern came from the lack of a cheap objective grabbing model in the crew, which is a big deal in the current environment and definitely puts them at a handicap. Every faction in the game can out-activate Ten Thunders if they want to, unless you’re going to take lots of Monks of the Low River, who Craig has openly panned. It’s easy to see why, given that the Monk has no attack actions and doesn’t move that quickly (their function is primarily to remove conditions.) The Torekage (ostensibly the “objective grabber” of the faction due to their ability to walk out of engagement as well as teleport off of other friendly models) is much more expensive than what you can find in other crews. This is a struggle for the faction as a whole and led to Craig’s dismissal of them as a competitive option (at least publicly. Craig is infamous for underselling his own abilities and the abilities of his crews.)

This, of course, leads inevitably to Craig winning the Masters using Ten Thunders Jacob Lynch.

Pictured: Not Craig Johnson.

Now, I’ve already stated how much I love Jacob (, and I’d be lying to say I wasn’t gratified to see some of the strengths I was promoting coming to light. As they discussed on today’s Fools Daily (, the obvious reason for his power is the free face-smashy model (pictured above) that you get just as a reward for playing him, while the less obvious power comes from his card advantage and ace-discarding shenanigans. Now that the Neverborn upgrades have been toned down, the choice of faction for Lynch becomes much less of an auto-select than it used to be. I still tend to favor him as Neverborn, but I think Craig has demonstrated pretty effectively that the other side works well. Also, on his twitter feed today he’s mentioned that removal of conditions is a much more important part of the game than he had given credit, so now the much maligned Monk of Low River is beginning to come up a bit in his perception. I myself need to get him (the Monk, not Craig) out onto the field to battle-test them, but I’m pleased to see the success for both the faction in general and Lynch specifically. And, of course, much congratulations to Fat Craig for his victory. I look forward to his humble-bragging about it on the next Bayou Broadcast episode.

So as not to make this just a minifaux post (ooo, I just coined a new term,) I’ll talk about a game I played recently. This is really a re-visiting of an earlier topic ( wherein I discussed Misaki tactics and another post ( wherein I slammed all over Tara for being ugly and bad (still my most popular post to date.) This was of course played over Vassal, as I still live in the Malifaux dessert of Western Virginia. My opponent was Jon, and he wanted to see what he could do with the Nothingness. The best part, of course, is I get to reuse one of my graphics.

Misaki – Defensive Upgrades, Training, 6SS
Yamaziko-Training, Last Blossom Upgrade
2xRail Worker

Tara-Upgrades of some kind, SSs
Nothing Beast
3xVoid Wretch

The game was played a couple of weeks ago, so I’ll stick to the highlights and then move on to analysis. I hadn’t played Misaki in a while (as a matter of fact I have played exactly 2 games with Misaki in M2E, coincidentally both versus Tara,) but I decided to put my money where my mouth was and try out my defensive build for the mistress of the Ten Thunders. We were playing Reckoning with a very passive scheme-marker-based pool, so I wanted to try out Oiran for Lure tactics, Rail Workers to get my model count up, and see if I could just plant Misaki in the middle of a quadrant and say “Come on if you think you’re tough enough.” Jon was learning to play Tara and wanted to get the box set on the (virtual) board along with some other stuff he wasn’t familiar with, namely Hannah and Hans. I joked afterwards that Jon loves Killjoy and will bend over backwards to fit him into any list he builds, yet for whatever reason he made the decision not to include Killjoy in the crew that he probably works best with!

Weeeelll, you know what Mike Tyson says about plans, namely that everybody has one till you get punched in the face.  I had protect territory and frame for murder on one of the rail workers for my schemes, and was basically planning on turtleing up with Yamaziko and the Rail Workers in one quadrant and using Misaki to go control somewhere else, with the Torekage’s burying tricks to move them to where they need to be at the end of a turn for control. Since you don't need to prevent your opponent from scoring in M2E Reckoning, all I needed was to control my two quarters and deny him some scheme points and I would be set. And did I mention how smart I felt about the thought of burying my Torekage to move them around the board to control quarters?


Those of you with brains who remembered that I’m playing Tara probably see the flaw in this strategy right away, as the one time I was foolish enough to try it my Torekage emerged back into the field of play with 3 wounds and some burning tokens. Also, Hans was sitting on the other side of the board, picking at anybody who stuck their face out and laughing at my Torekage’s silly smoke bombs. Also, Hannah had shut my Oiran’s Lure down because of her counterspell. Also…ok, look, you get the idea. My plan was dumb. Even the part that did work, the turtle with Yamaziko to prevent charges on my crew, ended up biting me since it meant the Rail Worker didn’t get murdered until we were past where I could get the bonus points for the scheme.

So, knowing that the plan had failed, I changed to aggressive Misaki without the proper upgrades, if only to shut Hans and Tara down. Jon did a fantastic job of saving Hans from me by burying him with Tara, but in doing so left Tara in position to be Assassinated (a weakness for this crew's low hand size that I had noticed when playing her previously.) I was still rather impressed with the Last Blossom related mobility during the game, as much of the Torekage and Oiran’s jobs for the remaining turns became “dash between quarters to avoid the Nothing Beast and ensure we score.” The Nothing Beast (his name must always be capitalized) with movement 7 from an Outcast Upgrade was pretty tough to get away from, but there was no other option since the crew wasn’t tough enough outside of Misaki to deal with him, and she was busy elsewhere.

In the end the game finished up with an 8-9 loss for me. I have a new appreciation for what Tara can do when she is rolling, given that Jon had never touched her before and basically had me beaten from the first turn of the game. I still don’t really LIKE her, as I detest having no hand and being reliant on what the fate deck feels like giving me. But, I am willing to acknowledge that there is much more to her than perhaps I had previously implied. I l look forward with some trepidation to seeing what Jon’s going to do with her, as he had never heard about using Killjoy or *shudder* Bishop in this crew, with Tara functioning almost like an old-school Dreamer that floats around and drops a big bag of pain in the middle of the enemy. 

In the meantime, my impression of the defensive Misaki build was a bit mixed. I don’t think I gave it a very fair shot here, as I basically had to abandon the plan on turn one to prevent Hans picking us apart. It would have been difficult to use in this particular game regardless, as the Nothing Beast and Hannah all have large melee ranges to prevent her dancing away from combat. Moreover, I’m not sure it really fits my play style that well. My natural inclination is to attempt to dictate the terms of the engagement to my opponent rather than sit back and wait for them, but I consider this more of an opportunity than a liability. I need to learn how to play this way for my own benefit, so handcuffing myself into it like this may be a good way of accomplishing that. 

Also, I found this ( Justin needs to make this for Ten Thunders.

Like, now. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Magpie Musings

So I haven’t played a game of Malifaux in a couple of weeks and, for the most part, have been painting only a handful of models. Time has been tough to come by, and when I get it I’ve had other things to do with it besides move little models around and flip cards. I’ve got some thoughts regarding the Wave 2 playtest models, but I don’t feel extraordinarily confident in discussing them when I haven’t gotten to test most of them out yet. However, one thing that has started to jump out to me is that there are, frankly, too many things I want to play right now.

I’ve been using Lynch quite a bit recently, as evidenced by the last two blog posts I’ve put up. Not a huge surprise, given that I love the crew and wish to do my part to see them succeed, but now I’m stuck trying to figure out what I’m going to focus on moving forward. My first faction in Malifaux was The Guild. I was drawn in by Perdita initially (the fact that I was reading The Gunslinger from the Dark Tower series at the time had a lot to do with this.) As such, I have a soft spot in my heart for the Guildies and always will. That said, that soft spot grew a bit callused towards the end of 1st edition as it became painfully apparent that it was much more difficult to succeed on a competitive level with the Guild than with any of the other factions during that era of the game, particularly Perdita who, after people realized how to get around her high defenses, was just too straight-forward of a crew to get the job done. Now, the new look Guild of 2.0 gets around this by, while still being a very blunt, very strong implement for dishing out damage on the board, adding in a ton of synergy with scheme markers as well. Models like the Austringers and Guild Guards make the faction much more capable of directly throwing down friendly and/or removing enemy scheme markers. Many of them have “Finish the Job,” again giving you the ability to get those markers down on the board when your models meet their sudden but (let’s face it, a lot of them are pretty much stormtroopers) inevitable end. They are still very direct, but they’re directly focused on the things that win you games, scheme and objective completion, and when it’s time to kill whoever is in the way they are still the smashiest of the factions and can dish out the hurt like no one else.

McMourning is probably the best example of this. His injection lets him move pieces around and throw out scheme markers, and the upgrade that lets him steal enemy scheme markers at the end of the game to make them count for his crew is just brilliant. Meanwhile, he can slice people up with his scalpels and burn you out for your full poison total all at once, making him a very potent finisher for almost any model in the game. After I defended my dissertation and got my PhD, I picked up the crew sort of out of a sense of irony for the fact that I was now officially joining the ranks of the mad science community. The fact that he was now a member of the Guild helped as well, of course, given my previous predilections. Plus, I was amused by the thought of using members of the Dead Justice crew box to represent McMourning’s somewhat poorly disguised undead helpers, dressed up to look like their “official” guild counterparts. Eventually I want to pick up some Guild Autopsies to further this them by using them either as themselves or as (again poorly disguised) Guild Guards. Basically, I was planning on using him as a Guild character exclusively, even going so far as to snatch poor minion Hamelin’s Nix model as a proxy Zombie Chihuahua, painting him up to look like my min-pin Rico (anyone who’s been around Rico while he’s asleep after eating something that doesn’t agree with him will know where the Horrible Odor ability comes from.) It was when I painted up the Flesh Golem on a lark, however, that my thoughts started to drift towards the Ressers. I had played a game against Nicodem over Vassal, which was probably my first game ever against a dedicated Resser master that was re-summoning things as quickly as I could kill them, and saw the power of that first hand.  Now, McMourning’s not the best character for this kind of crew…until the Wave 2 beta introduced the Spare Parts upgrade which lets any Resser master summon the Autopsies and Rogue Necromancies off corpse counters on the board. There’s a very good chance that I’ll be giving that a try sometime soon, giving this already pretty good at schemes master the added ability to create waves of dead minions to lead the way forward.

And once we open up the Resser door, there’s a couple of others I like sitting back there as well. I’ve not gotten a chance to see the new Seamus in action, but I love what they’ve done with him. The back-alley killer idea, with him leaping from the shadows around the board to ambush and kill who or whatever is exposed and vulnerable in the enemy crew, is so amazing and thematic for him. Seamus is definitely one of the winners of the M1E to M2E transition, and I’ve wanted to give him a try, if only to cackle and do evil, evil things to my opponents legally. Also, Kirai was the first of the Asian themed masters I picked up and tried in old Malifaux. Something about that character spoke to me. She moved quickly. Her crew was very thematic. There were lots of moving parts (I often said that I played every game where I used Kirai incorrectly, even if I won the game) which I like from the “here’s a puzzle that I’m trying to sort out” standpoint. I haven’t exactly focused on what they’ve done with her in this iteration of the game, but I’m sure at some point I’ll want to get her out on the tabletop and see what she can do.

I’ve stated previously that the Asian themes are not a big sell for me. It’s not a personal thing. It was just one of those situations where, when I was in school, Dragonball Z and the anime craze had suddenly made all things Japanese cool, which meant that in a pre-hipster move I didn’t want anything to do with them. As such, it never ceases to amaze me how I’ve somehow turned into a Ten Thunders player seemingly by mistake. It’s pretty much Lynch’s fault, if you want to get right down to it. He got me through the door after all (the first taste is free.) I had created a relatively novel way of making bamboo bases on the cheap using broken pieces of spaghetti, so there was that draw. I picked up Wastrels because suddenly they gave the Guild some mobility and objective grabbing ability that they were missing before, so now I had a McCabe crew and, hey, those archer things are pretty good so why not pick up one of them to back up McCabe and Lynch if I play them as the TT. And, obviously, if I’m going to play them TT I’m going to need Torekage to do it effectively, since the Tora-swap was about the best form of mobility in that version of the game short of Collodi cruising the length of the board in a turn. Next thing you know, I have the whole faction minus the Rail Crew box and Ten Thunders Brothers, I’m using Misaki in a narrative campaign, and I was lost.

I feel like the Ten Thunders kind of hit the mid-point between killiness and fiddliness between the Guild and Neverborn (although Lucius may have something to say about that, now) which are the things I love about those factions and makes them very appealing to play. I already posted some thoughts on the two forms of Misaki where she can go from hyper-aggressive killer master to elegant defensive/denial master. The recent nerf to Nexus of Power makes the question of which faction to run Lynch in no-longer academic, and I’ve mentioned before that I’m interested to see how Sensei Yu would do in this list (two mulligans per turn? Yes please.) And hey, now the rest of them are here and ready to test as well. Shenlong seems very interesting, and the addition of the Lone Samurai gives them another mid-level hitter model that can do some serious damage and is, more or less, immune to gunfire before he gets to grips with the enemy.

Of course, the reason I picked up Lynch in the first place was because I was a shameless Neverborn bandwaggoner back during the “Well, Neverborn, innit?” days of pre-book 4 M1E. The Pandora crew was amazing. The Zoraida crew was amazing. Collodi was ridiculously good. I never got them on the board, but I always had Lillith and Dreamer ideas in mind (I’m still, one day, going to paint my Lady Gaga “Mama Monster” version of Lillith. This is happening.) I loved Tuco’s craziness. I loved how ridiculous Stitched Togethers were. I fell headlong into this faction, and a lot of it was just how powerful they were on the board. I can admit this freely. I’m a guy who likes to win, and the Neverborn just won in those days. It didn’t hurt that they were all spooky monsters that were a blast to paint and field.

And this was one of the things that was actually quite frustrating in the 2.0 switch. I should not have playtested Pandora early on in the process. I see that now. Coming in with the power level she used to have in the back of my mind led to pretty unrealistic expectations for a model that, honestly, was seriously underpowered during the early stages of the Wave 1 beta process. And I just…could not…accept it. I thought it was my fault. I thought there was something there I wasn’t seeing or I was doing something wrong on the tabletop. I just didn’t realize that, in making her balanced, there was really no way around the fact that she was going to have to lose a lot of the things I liked about that master. And as such, I lost almost all of my playtest games, and I lost every single playtest game where I used Pandora. While the object of these games was not to win but rather to test the mechanics and look for things that needed to be addressed, I couldn’t help the fact that this left a pretty sour taste in my mouth, not just for her but also for the faction as a whole.

Well, that has started to balance out a bit. Playing Lynch recently had a lot to do with this, as it gave me a chance to see some of the minions I had previously dismissed running with a master I had a better grasp on. I haven’t gotten a chance to try out Zoraida, but I like the notion of running the swamp crew, particularly the Swamp Thing Bad Juju. Lillith’s combination of board control and melee has always interested me, and if anything she’s swung further in that direction with 2nd edition. And I’ve had a Nightmare Chompy bits for years sitting in a drawer and have never gotten him out to play. This seems criminal, particularly given how enchanting the idea behind that crew really is. I’m a fan of the current mechanic where, as Dreamer slides deeper into sleep his ability to summon other Nightmares increases, but he has to wake himself to let Chompy out. Very thematic and very cool.

I wish I could say that was it, but it isn’t. I keep finding myself fantasizing about Ramos crews. I’ve liked Jack Daw since he was a minion, so the fact that he’s a master now with another very thematic crew makes him tempting to get out and try. Maybe it’s just reading about him all the time (…all the time…) in the Play It Like Beatdown blog, but Marcus seems like he’d be pretty fun, with Cojo being one of if not the only model in the game that can force movement on enemy models with no flip. And who knows? If you ask me next week, maybe I’ll be wanting to try out Molly or Kaeris or even a gremlin crew (ok, maybe not that last one :P)?

So I think it’s time to admit I’ve got a problem. I’m a magpie. I’m an addict for new crews and new ideas. And I can’t stop.

Oh well, at least I’ll have plenty of crews to loan out for demo games in the future.