I’ve always loved Toni Ironsides since she was first added to the game. Her no-nonsense attitude, personal hatred of the guild, academic interests and brawler style of fighting all come together to create a character who really interests me. I’ve been playing her whenever possible, and found her to be a remarkably versatile master. So today let’s look at the various ways I tend to run Ironsides.
I: First through the door
As you’d expect from a brawler, she’s no slouch in melee and makes a suitable beatstick. With two melee attacks that can combo chain into one another, Ironsides is capable of going toe-to-toe with some of the worst Malifaux has to offer, and coming out on top. She works best with high Adrenaline, increasing her Uppercut‘s Ml to its maximum 8. To this end, when I’m using her in this capacity, I like to go with Frontline Leadership and Challenge The Crowd as upgrades. The ability to drop a low card and start gaining Adrenaline early is very helpful, and Bring It!‘s double defensive twist makes hitting her Good Shot, My Turn trigger much easier. Depending on the schemes I may finish off her upgrades with Iron Determination – while it does lower her adrenaline (and by extension her Ml), a (0) heal can be priceless if Assassinate is on the cards.
II: The bait
Ironsides boasts the highest wound count in the game, matching the likes of Dr Douglas McMourning at 14. With a solid defence and Hard To Kill, it takes a lot of work to put Toni down. This makes her a perfect trap to hold enemy models in places they don’t want to be.
This works best in Turf War and Reconnoiter, where Toni can run down the flank / centre respectively and use You Looking At Me? to drag models out of scoring positions. You Looking At Me? has an impressive range, and with her high Ml and a positive twist to disengaging strikes Toni has a good chance of holding them there once she’s pulled them out of position. It does mean she won’t be scoring, but she can pull up to six enemy models into non-scoring areas each turn while the rest of your crew is free to grab those points. For this approach, I like Iron Determination and Challenge The Crowd. Both help keep her alive longer, maximizing the time she can spend pulling the enemy around. The Stand Up, Stand Tall part of Iron Determination is even a (0), and so doesn’t waste any ap she could be spending on You Looking At Me?.
Perhaps surprisingly, Toni is pretty good at making the rest of her crew better. Her ability Hand-Picked Men buffs up nearby M&SU models when they’re wounded, making good models (such as Howard Langston or Joss) downright amazing. Again, this is best suited to when you want your models to stay together – Turf War and Reckoning spring to mind. You can even damage your own models early on if you want to get the buff quickly – Willie is perfect for this since he can deal damage as part of a walk action, and he’s an M&SU member himself too so will benefit from Hand-Picked Men. There’s not really any particular upgrades that I’ll go with, though Bleeding Edge Tech is good if you’re running mostly minions.
Of course, these aren’t all mutually exclusive. Toni can run support and offense at the same time, and is probably better doing so rather than just trying to support her crew (if you want a dedicated damage-dealer, for example, Rasputina or Mei Feng tend to do better – but don’t have the additional options that Ironsides brings to the table). I suppose that these are the three facets of Ironsides I’ve found while playing her, and the main three ways she can play on the table.
That’s my take on Ironsides, anyway. I’ll do another post about her at some point, and I’ve finished painting her crew (quite a while ago, actually) so pictures are long overdue! Feel free to drop me a comment, it’s always nice to hear from readers.