When Adam asked me to write this piece, I’ll admit I was a little stumped on how to procced. I felt that I had a strong understanding of Corrupted Idols, and that most of the decision making around this unique Malifaux 3E strategy is done at the table, en medias res. As I thought about what to write, while lazing on vacation in Northern Wisconsin, it occurred to me a few choices I’ve made in every Corrupted Idols game, from the moment the strategy is declared. As such, I decided to breakdown and address these.
Firstly, how Idols works – as copied from the M3E rulebook:
Corrupted Idols (M) At the start of each Turn, after determining which player has Initiative, Drop a Strategy Marker centered on the centerline. The location of the Strategy Marker is determined by the suit of the Initiative Flip of the player with Initiative (and the direction is calculated from that player’s perspective):
• M: 8" from where the centerline meets the table edge on the left.
• T: 8" from where the centerline meets the table edge on the right.
• R: On the centerpoint.
• C: Where the centerline meets the table edge (player with Initiative chooses which table edge).
• Joker: Reflip
If the Strategy Marker would be Dropped on top of a Strategy Marker, Impassable Terrain, or a model, the player with Initiative instead Drops the Strategy Marker evenly on the centerline, touching but not overlapping that Strategy Marker, Impassable Terrain, or model. If this is not possible, the Strategy Marker is not Dropped. A model in base contact with a Strategy Marker can take the Interact Action and suffer up to three irreducible damage, ignoring Hard to Kill. A model may not suffer more damage than its current Health. Drop the Strategy Marker anywhere within X" of its current location, not into base contact with a model or Impassable Terrain, where X is equal to the amount of damage suffered by the Interacting model (even if it was killed by the damage it suffered). At the end of each Turn, a Crew gains 1 VP if there are more Strategy Markers completely on the opponent’s table half than it has earned VP from this Strategy.
Here, there a is key information I’ve found is often overlooked; “The location of the Strategy Marker is determined by the suit of the Initiative Flip of the player with Initiative”. What this means is if you win the Initiative flip, but decide for your opponent to have first activation, they become the player with Initiative, and thus control the placement of the marker. In most scenarios, you always want to have Initiative, and thusly should always cheat for Initiative, or declare first action – in this way, I have my first major recommendation for playing Corrupted Idols:
Location, Location, Location:
Upon arriving at the table, pick a location on the board where the Idols might drop, and decide to focus the majority of your time, models, and gameplay there. In essence, before the game starts, decide on a corner (or center) that you will cheat the Idol to every round.
My plan going into every Idols match is to dump all 5 Strat Markers in the same spot and deny all Strategy points from my opponent; if they have to consistently push towards my chosen location during the game, they are less likely to be scoring their schemes, whereas my priority is only scoring the 4 points from the Strategy, and picking up a single point from one scheme. I’ve found this forces my opposition to play the game I’ve declared, with drastically controls the tempo of the game. I normally like to pick a flank edge, and work to position my crew spread along the line, stretching from the 8in mark (where the Idol drops) and the center; this gives my models control of 3 of the 5 possible Idol locations.
Next, Crew Selection:
2-3 high quality schemers, preferably who can leap. Don't spam low quality scheme models
I’ve found players build large, spam-ish scheme crews to handle Idols – they think that because the Idols can show up in 5 locations, they must be at all 5 locations. This I find wrong for 2 main reasons, the first as detailed above, the second, the survivability of low-cost, spam schemer models are low. Abandoning any type of mid-quality damage dealer just means you won’t be able to prevent the opponent from scoring, without improving your own chances of scoring, since your schemer models will crumble. Between harming yourself to move the Idols and the counter play from enemy, a mass of cheap models will push the Idols, but be unable to maintain them to score points. Keep the balanced lists you use for every other Strategy.
Lastly, Game Play – Standing and Cheating:
Idol markers are not impassable; stand on them. Cheat Initiative unless you literally cannot afford to do so.
The rules of Corrupted Idols makes no mention of impassable traits on the markers, whereas Turf War does. This means you can stand atop Idol markers with impunity, boxing out your opponent’s valuable tech pieces, namely Don’t Mind Me models. Standing on top a marker at the very least denies it from your opponent, and potentially secures it for your scoring. Additionally, I’ve seen boards where players have used large (vertically) 30mm markers for Idols, often with a flag or statute attached (very narrative, I do approve), however, this creates the illusion that they are impassible – do not hesitate to change these out, or call a TO in more official settings to adjust the board as needed.
As the locations of the markers are determined, never, never hesitate to Cheat Initiative, if that will impede your opponent in anyway: Cheat to place the Idol in your designated zone? Do it. Cheat to place it in the contested center zone, and not their zone? Do it. Cheat to toss it to the location without any models, denying both players? Do it. Cheat a midrange card to force your opponent to cheat a better card? Do it. This cheating idea goes double for any crew with access to Arcane Reservoir, since you will have the extra card to spend.
And there you have it, my top tricks and philosophy to play Corrupted Idols in Malifaux 3E. Please feel free to reach out on Facebook to comment and share your thoughts and remember, Bad Things Happen.