I’ve briefly mentioned in previous posts how much I like The Captain, so this week is a dedicated, in-depth look at the man with no name.
Little is known about The Captain’s origins – some say he was once the captain of a Guild airship, some say he fought in the Black Powder Wars, and others claim he’s a gentleman adventurer. Whatever the truth, The Captain has sided with the Arcanists, bringing his Relic Hammer, elemental mastery and jovial good humour to the faction.
Mobility is where The Captain shines. With a decent Wk and an impressive Cg of 8″, The Captain can reliably get where he wants to. The Agile ability lets him ignore disengaging strikes, making him a hard man to pin down. Even his defensive trigger – Vapour Trail – adds to his mobility, letting him push up to 5″ after suffering damage. Out of activation movement? With how much I focus on positioning in Malifaux, it’s not hard to see why I love this guy. The trigger is ideal when you’re faced with more than one attack, such as Flurry, Rapid Fire or just a simple charge. By either cheating in a low Mask or burning a soulstone, you can push away to avoid the rest of the attacks. I’ll often use his Vapour Trail on the first attack, as that’s when you’ll get the most benefit out of it. Of course, there are times when it’s worth aiming for the Vapour Trail trigger even if your opponent is only attacking once – pushing The Captain out of engagement so he can score for Interference, for example, or even push into engagement to stop multiple enemy models scoring with his impressive 3″ melee range.
The Captain’s mobility doesn’t stop there, however. He boasts the attack action Airburst, with a decent Ca and an achievable TN letting him push any model up to 5″. Generally I prefer to Airburst my own models as all I need to do then is hit the TN rather than worrying about beating their resist duel, but it’s certainly worth pushing enemy models around when needed too. The uses for Airbust are almost endless, though some of my favourites include pushing slower models forward to give them a boost, pushing models into or out of melee, and pushing models around to help score VP – pushing an activated model into the 6″ Turf War bubble, for example, or pushing a model with the Distract condition out of engagement so it can remove the condition. The Oxfordian Mages really benefit for Airburst, as you can push them into position so they can spend both AP on Furious Casting. Special mention has to go to the Gunsmiths, who can really benefit from The Captain’s Airburst. Here’s how it goes: The Captain targets a Gunsmith with Airburst, and the Gunsmith chooses not to relent. Flip a card for the attack and resist, cheating in a low ram from your hand for the Gunsmith’s resist to lose the duel and hit the Concealed Weapon trigger. As Airburst was successfully cast, the Gunsmith gets pushed 5″ and, as a result of the Concealed Weapon trigger stating ‘After resolving’, also gains the Fast condition.
The Captain’s first tactical action, Eye Of The Storm, is ideal for clearing groups of enemy models off a small area. Since it can’t be resisted it’s great for a guaranteed push, though with less versatility and range than Airburst.
Before I move on from mobility, it’s worth mentioning the Captain’s second (1) tactical action, Wind Wall. This is the yin to Airburst‘s yang, letting you slow down models rather than speeding them up. Wind Wall lets you place two 50mm Wind Wall makers within a decent range of 12″, creating a sizeable area of severe terrain. Particularly suited to dense areas of the board, a well-placed pair of Wind Wall markers can slow down an enemy advance and is ideal to stop charges, models reaching Turf or Squat markers, etc. The markers also count as soft cover, and the ability to drop down cover is great against ranged crews, forcing them to Focus to avoid a negative twist to the attack.
You’d think that, with all those mobility tricks, The Captain would be a bit of a slouch in combat to make up for it. Not a bit of it! His impressive Cg is accompanied by the usual 3″ melee range of a Relic Hammer, with a decent Ml and a strong damage track. A couple of triggers bring some synergy with other models, letting him either hand out Burning +2 on a Ram (perfect for the Gunsmiths I mentioned earlier), while a Mask lets him use the Knock Back trigger, pushing the enemy 3″ away. This opens up the ideal combination of using Airburst to move a Gunsmith up and give her fast, before charging in and hitting the Spread The Embers trigger on the first attack and the Knock Back trigger on the second attack, pushing the enemy model out of melee – and into line of sight of the Fast Gunsmith, who can use her (0) The Hard Way to gain double positive flips and open up on the enemy model. Fairly card / soulstone intensive, but a pretty devastating combination that ought to put most models in the ground.
Despite having a good Df of 6, The Captain doesn’t really have many defensive tricks. His Middle Of The Storm ability grants nearby friendly models Bullet Proof +1, but doesn’t affect The Captain himself. As before, his best bet is to push away with Vapour Trail – though the trigger does require The Captain to take damage first before he can push, so he will have a limited number of times he can use it. As a henchman he can also spend soulstones to prevent damage, though I’ve found that the best way to keep The Captain alive is to try and mitigate how much the enemy can target him. Given his mobility, he’s best hugging cover to try and minimise enemy attacks – or present your opponent with higher-priority targets.
The Captain has one unique upgrade that’s specific to him – Patron’s Blessing, which gives him the Casting Expert ability. It’s expensive at 2ss, taking the cost of The Captain up to Howard Langston / Mechanical Rider levels, but I personally think it’s worth it. Three of The Captain’s actions are Ca, including Airburst, and I can’t think of a game where I’ve regretted giving him that extra AP. He also features the M&SU keyword, giving him the option of taking Bleeding Edge Tech, Powered By Flame or Warding Runes – as well as the generic Arcanist upgrades, of course. While Warding Runes in particular stands out as a good choice, particularly when the Oxfordian Mages are fielded as well, this – combined with the cost of Patron’s Blessing – makes him very expensive. It really depends on the strategy and schemes, though I tend to usually take him just with Patron’s Blessing.
As you might expect since he’s included in her crew box, The Captain works well alongside Toni Ironsides. His Wind Wall can give Toni cover from shooting attacks as she moves forward, while his Airburst can push her into groups of enemy models / enemies into her, ready for her to gain a sizeable Adrenaline condition when she activates. The Captain isn’t restricted to just Toni, however, as he can find a place alongside most masters. Both Kaeris and Mei Feng work well alongside him for the Burning he can hand out, making their attacks hit harder. Rasputina tends to be on the slow side, so a 5″ push is ideal to get her upfield – it’s just a shame that Airburst can’t target the same model more than once per turn. And, having a Relic Hammer in your crew in case of constructs or Tyrants is never a bad thing to have.
He fares well in most strategies, as even Reckoning can often benefit from his Relic Hammer. A large portion of the scheme pool benefits from his positioning abilities – you can Airburst friendly models out of engagement to remove the Distract or Cursed Object condition; Airburst enemy models away from your scheme markers so they can score for Convict Labour; or pushing enemy models into scheme markers for Spring The Trap / Plant Explosives. More often than not I’ll include The Captain in my crew – the main concern I usually have is his cost, given that he’s a very expensive model (though, in my opinion, worth every stone). Once you take The Captain with Patron’s Blessing, it can restrict what else you can afford to hire – if you take a large beater such as Howard, the Rail Golem or even the Ice Golem, you’re getting close to having spent half your soulstones in a 50ss game – and that’s before taking any upgrades on your master!
If you’re playing against The Captain, single high-damage attacks are your best bet. Don’t worry about charging him, as he’s very slippery and almost impossible to pin down. His Wp is slightly lower than his Df, so if you can target that you’ll have an easier time taking him out of the game. Some specific masters, such as Lilith, can even use his pushes against him through actions such as Wicked Vines.