While she’s thematically part of a Colette crew, the humble Performer has become a staple in many of my Arcanist crews since I got my Black Friday model. Cheap and versatile, the Performer brings something to almost any Arcanist crew – and a few others at that, too, given her Mercenary status.
At a glance, the Performer’s basic stats aren’t anything special. Unanimously 5 across the board (with her Cg being the exception at -), she’s not particularly durable. To help her live long enough to have an impact on the game, she comes with the Manipulative ability. This only works if she hasn’t activated, so while it’s better to leave her activation until later in the turn, I usually have no qualms about activating her earlier in the turn if needed.
In terms of offense, she’s only got a 1″ Ml attack with a decent Ml but a rather wide damage spread. Nicely, it hands out Poison +2 automatically, which helps to make the damage a bit more reasonable. Unless you’re running her with McMourning (and even then…), her other two actions are usually the main reason you’ll be taking her.
Siren’s Call is a solid Lure-esque spell, though with a lower Ca of 6 and a TN12. It’s also specifically a push, so on the one hand it’s great at pulling models through, say, The Captain’s Wind Wall, but you have to be careful if there’s blocking terrain in the way. Where this really shines is in the triggers, which give some excellent additional benefits. The built-in tome trigger lets you take a (1) ap Ml attack against the target if it’s in range – free attacks are always a good thing – but the other two really stand out. On a crow you essentially Expunge the target model, but with no upper limit. As the Performer’s one of the few models with poison available to the Arcanists this is more of an added bonus if you’re targeting a model who has already been hit by a poisoned hairpin. In a McMourning or Brewmaster crew, however, it becomes downright obscene with its damage potential. The final trigger, on a mask, lets you automatically Paralyze the target if they end up in base contact. Paralyze is just a great condition to apply to any model in my mind, effectively shutting it down for a turn – and since Paralyzed models have a 0″ engagement range, she can simply walk away. Having said all that about the triggers, the push itself is great – I’m always of the mindset that moving enemy models around is generally a good thing (it’s one of the reasons I consider The Captain to be such a first-rate Henchman), so Siren Call is only a good thing in my book.
Seduction is a fairly low TN spell that destroys a scheme marker, and forces nearby enemy models to pass a simple WP duel or suffer negative twists for the rest of the turn. For those schemes that rely on markers – or, if she’s a ‘traitor’ showgirl and you’re facing off against a Colette crew – this ability is solid gold. Spring the Trap and Plant Explosives become so much easier to avoid, since the Performer can wait until the end of the turn to make the most of Manipulative before either using Siren Call to pull your models out of the way, or Seduction to simply destroy the marker(s). On that note, since she’s able to interact even while engaged thanks to Don’t Mind Me, she’s a prime candidate for dropping a marker if you take Plant Explosives or Spring the Trap. If needed, and if she starts her activation with a few enemies around her, she can interact regardless of engagement to drop a scheme marker, then hit it with Seduction to try and de-buff them all.
And finally, as a parting gift, Precious is a neat little ability. It’s best in a Colette crew, of course, where keeping a Performer near Colette / Cassandra can discourage your opponent from killing them for fear of giving out Reactivate, but it’s a nice little ability in other crews too. I don’t personally tend to plan around it, but if she’s down to her last couple of wounds I’ll try and move another minion near her if I can. Off the top of my head, unfortunately most of the models I’d want to Reactivate in the Arcanists are Enforcers (Oxfordian Mages, Mechanical Rider, Howard Langston…). I can imagine it being more important in a minion-focused crew, for example if she’s hired as a mercenary into a Lucius crew…
All in all, I’ve found the humble Performer adds more than just a touch of the ol’ razzle-dazzle to almost any Arcanist crew (or any crew at that, given her Mercenary status). Her Siren’s Call is very versatile in pulling your own models forward, or pulling enemy models out of synergistic auras to break up buffs. That’s enough from me, though – what do you think of the Performer? Let me know in the comments below :)