‘Bounty hunters – we don’t need that scum!’ So said Admiral Piett in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Unlike the Imperial officer, Malifaux’s masters have no aversion to hiring sell-swords, hired guns and mercenaries, and this week I’ll be diving to the wretched hive of scum and villainy that is hiring Mercenaries in our games of Malifaux.
First off, I think it’s always important to consider what the appeal of the Mercenary is. After all, you’re paying an extra 1 soulstone premium on top of their usual cost, so you want to be sure that you’re getting what you’re paying for! The most usual reason to hire a mercenary is when the model brings something new to the faction. For example, the Neverborn – who have a tendency to lack much in the ranged combat department when compared to other factions – may benefit from taking a Convict Gunslinger or two to lend some firepower to the crew.
Alternatively, the model might fit in well with your existing crew selection. Johan regularly features in my crews when I’m running Ramos or Ironsides, due to his synergies with the M&SU keyword (which tends to be fairly prevalent with the aforementioned masters). There’s also the less obvious synergies, such as hiring Bishop into a Seamus or Pandora crew – since Bishop can choose whether his attacks are resisted by the enemy’s Ml or Wp, he can choose to attack their Wp to benefit Seamus (through his Feast Of Fear ability) and Pandora, through her Sorrow’s Misery ability. Given that Bishop comes with Swift, giving him 3AP each turn, and that these Wp duels will also most likely be causing damage, he can be a very imposing threat alongside Seamus or Pandora, and well worth the extra soulstone spent hiring him.
Finally, it may be that a particular Mercenary will have a high chance of being effective against your opponent. If my opponent declares Ten Thunders, for example, there’s a good chance that Hans will be a worthwhile choice. His brilliantly-named Smile, You Son Of A… action lets him shoot the upgrades off enemy models, and the Ten Thunders certainly have more than their fair share of upgrade tricks. After all, fully three of the seven masters in that faction revolve (to a certain extent) around their upgrades – Lucas McCabe, Shenlong and Yan Lo. While it’s by no means an easy feat, made harder by Hans’s ability To The Highest Bidder, if you can manage to shoot Shenlong’s Limited upgrade off him this can put a stop to his upgrade-switching shenanigans and make him a less potent threat.
Of course, Malifaux is a game that’s all about the objectives, and all the trick shooting in the ‘verse won’t help if your opponent scores more from the Strategy and Schemes than you do. Certain Mercenaries are rather suited to particular strategies or schemes, and are often worth the extra soulstone cost for the abilities they bring to the table. While expensive, Aionus is an excellent addition to any crew if the scheme pool is full of marker-related schemes – nothing makes denying Plant Explosives or Spring The Trap quite as easy as his rather unique Midnight and Time Changes All (0) actions. A Freikorps Librarian, on the other hand, will find a place in many crews if you’re hoping to pick the Bodyguard or Entourage schemes.
Many mercenaries will fit into more than one of these, making them particularly viable in certain games. Johan, for example, will be first in line if my opponent declares Resurrectionists for a Reckoning game – not only will his Rebel Yell condition removal be ideal to slow down any Poison shenanigans, but his Relic Hammer is an ideal tool to deal with any Flesh Constructs or Iron Zombies my opponent may hire for the occasion. Similarly, while Hans may be hired for his Smile, You Son Of A… ability against an upgrade-heavy faction, his To The Highest Bidder ability may actually come in handy when hired into the Resurrectionists – forcing your opponent to decide between discarding two cards to avoid Hans’s upgrade-removing shot, or holding onto those cards to prevent your Flesh Constructs from gaining Reactivate.
That’s enough from me. Do drop me a comment with your Mercenary hiring preferences, or any particularly good match-ups you like!