Malifaux spotlight: The Great Carlos Vasquez

Backstage in the Star Theater, it was busy. Girls ran to and fro with handfuls of dresses and accessories, changing in-between acts or getting ready to go back on stage. The Star Theater was packed tonight, every seat sold out as M&SU men returned from the mines, Guild guardsmen finished their patrols, and the young and wealthy of Malifaux snuck out from under the watchful gaze of their parents for a night on the town.

Cassandra pinned her long blonde hair in place, checking her makeup in the mirror – just to see a figure flit behind her, a hand tilting the mirror as it darted past. Looking up, she found Carlos Vasquez peering in the mirror, smoothing his dark hair in place.

The newest addition to the Star Theater, Carlos was a handsome young man with a toned, muscular body and jet-black hair who, as far as Cassandra could remember, had never worn a shirt. His physical attractiveness, however, was mitigated by his vain ego. Carlos was a man who was certain of his own genius and talent, and wanted everyone else to know about it too. At any opportunity he could be found flirting with the showgirls in the theatre, boasting of his exploits on and off the stage, and flexing one arm as he casually leant against the wall to show off his biceps. Cassandra couldn’t stand him. Snatching her mirror back from him, she gave him her finest haughty glare – a look that had reduced other men to quivering wrecks.

Carlos, however, grinned and winked at her. ‘Don’t worry Cassie’ – she hated it when he used that nickname – ‘I’ll try not to out-do your performance too much tonight.’

On-stage, Angelica was announcing the next act. ‘And now, presenting a pyrokinetic performance that will awe and astonish you, ladies and gentlemen…’ Cassandra noticed that Carlos was mouthing along with Angelica’s words, clearly relishing the ego boost.

‘….the great Carlos Vasquez!’ The crowd roared, the usual cheers of miners and Guild officers punctuated by the higher-pitched cries of excitement from the young women in the audience. Twirling his batons, Carlos vaulted onto the stage, leaving Cassandra rolling her eyes.

* * *

Between A Tale Of Gamers, my charity MTG tiger deck, and my rediscovery of my interest in Tyranids, it’s been a while since I touched upon my favourite game – so let’s go back to Malifaux, and one of my favourite characters. Carlos Vasquez (or, as I imagine he likes to be called, ‘The Great Carlos Vasquez’ – he strikes me as a rather vain, egotistical character!) is, for me, one of the standout models introduced to Malifaux in book four: Ripples Of Fate. So, today I thought I’d take a look at the latest addition to the Star Theater and break down why I, like many young ladies in Malifaux, am so enamoured with him!

‘The audience was told to stand back!’ (C) Wyrd Games.

Whether he’s dancing across the stage or charging across the cobbled streets of Malifaux, Carlos stands out as quite a mobile character. His Wk and Cg stats are above average, and his (0) ‘And Now, The Most Deadly Dance Of All!’ gives him a 4″ push – ideal to get him through severe terrain, out of melee, or just to give him that little extra movement. He also brings some (limited) mobility to the crew with his ‘The Flames, I Am Their Master’ ability, which is great for models who don’t like to walk themselves – such as his thematic master Colette, for example. However, do bear in mind that it is a pretty high target number – even a fast model such as the Mechanical Rider will still need a moderately high 7 to pass – and so it can be a bit risky. Alternatively, it’s worth considering this as an offensive action – TN 13 is pretty high, and if your opponent is low on cards you can drop down hazardous terrain to impede her crew.

At first glance, Carlos doesn’t look too offensive with his single fantastically-named attack, The Flaming Fist Of The Great Carlos Vasquez. I mean, a 2/3/4 damage track on a 9ss henchman? But then we get to the triggers, all built-in, and this is where the real fun begins. He can apply Burning to the target with the classic Stoke The Flames trigger, though this isn’t usually the one you’ll be going for. Instead, True Showmanship lets Carlos apply Burning +1 to himself – a setup for his final trigger (and one of my favourite trigger names in all of Malifaux) ‘The Audience Was Told To Stand Back!’, which deals damage to the target equal to the Burning condition on Carlos. Since it’s two separate bursts of damage Carlos can struggle a little against enemy models with Armor, but Hard To Kill, on the other hand, is not really a problem as he can bring them down to their last wound with his attack, and then use the trigger damage to finish them off. This means that Carlos’ overall damage (without outside assistance, such as other models giving him Burning) can clock in at between 7 – 11 in a single activation, giving him quite the substantial hitting power.

Defensively Carlos is, quite simply, a tank. As long as he’s not running into the enemy crew by himself, he’s usually very hard to put down. His Df is pretty good, while his Wp is a little lower, but the main two things that make him so tough are his Dance Of Flame ability and Stunt Double from the upgrade of the same name. Combined with his True Showmanship trigger to stack Burning on himself, and his henchman status, Carlos can prevent a substantial amount of damage before discarding a card at the end of the turn to heal himself.

While Carlos isn’t really a dedicated support piece, that’s not to say that he can’t help out his fellow Arcanists. I’ve already talked about how his ability ‘The Flames, I Am Their Master’ can give some extra mobility to your crew, particularly if a few models are clumped together – though, with a TN 13, it may require some high cards to pull off. His Stunt Double upgrade gives him another tactical action, allowing him to discard a scheme marker (friendly or otherwise) at range to force a decent Wp duel for nearby models or gain Burning +2. Since Carlos himself rather likes being on fire, you can always use this while engaged to simultaneously hand out Burning and increase Carlos’ quasi-Armor and damage. It’s also nice to have a way of removing scheme markers at range, giving you more ways to stop schemes like Spring The Trap, Set Up, or Dig Their Graves.

As I mentioned before, I do consider his personal upgrade to be pretty much mandatory. Of course, as a henchman Carlos has a second slot available to him, which I usually use for Recharge Soulstone. Carlos is usually in the thick of things anyway, and his melee reach is also 3″, so it all works out pretty nicely. His incredible 10″ threat range usually lets him engage whoever he wants to, so you can cherry-pick weaker models to take out if you’re desperate for soulstones. Alternatively, Imbued Energies is always good for Fast on demand, or – as a Showgirl – Carlos can always carry Practised Production.

Unsurprisingly, Carlos works well alongside his Star Theater companions. If Colette is leading the crew, he even gets his Showmanship upgrade free of charge (though it does still take up an upgrade slot). Unlike most Showgirls he doesn’t really use scheme markers much (barring the Pyrotechnic Prop action from his Stunt Double upgrade), allowing him to function independently from the rest of the crew if needed – and, with the Recharge Soulstone upgrade, he can help to replenish Ms du Bois’ supply as she burns through them. Colette also tends to like Union Miners for their False Claim ability, and – if you really want Carlos to do obscene amounts of damage – tagging him with their Modified Welder can increase his threat level substantially, especially after the January errata which increased the Welder to hand out Burning +2. Usually I don’t find it necessary to add on extra Burning as Carlos is quite self-sufficient, but if there’s a particularly beefy target that needs to go down this is an ideal way to get Carlos pumped and ready.

I’ve found Carlos also works well with Kaeris due to their synergies with the Burning condition. Due to the wording of Stunt Double, Kaeris can even heal Carlos on the fly by attacking him with Flaming Halo and declaring the Engulf trigger – Carlos can then discard a card to heal himself. This will remove the Burning condition from Carlos and leave him without Armor, but (depending on how many wounds he has) it can sometimes be safer to heal him rather than leave him with his BurningArmor. Situational, but worth bearing in mind. He also benefits from her Grab And Drop upgrade – since he’ll pretty much always be on fire, he can activate near Kaeris to benefit from the Wings Of Flame ability. This does mean that he’ll lose Burning at the end of his activation, but often thanks to ‘The Audience Was Told To Stand Back!’ he will have lowered his Burning to 0 anyway.

Carlos also brings some additional synergy to Mei Feng. Since he is happiest in melee and can hand out Burning with his built-in trigger, he can quickly apply the condition so that Mei can swing in and take advantage of it via the Superheated trigger on her Tiger’s Claw. He’s not a Construct and so can’t be used for Railwalk, but that’s what you brought Sparks along for, right? :)

Finally, as always, let’s take a look at what to do when you’re on the other side of the table and find yourself facing off against Carlos Vasquez. If you have it, condition removal such as Johan is superb against him, stripping him of both his defensive trick and the added offence of ‘The Audience Was Told To Stand Back!’. Definitely don’t attack him with Burning – one of my most memorable Carlos games recently was when I engaged Mad Dog with him! Having said that, however, if you can force your opponent down to having no cards in hand, Carlos will feel the heat (pun not intended) as he’ll then take damage from Burning. Given how much damage Carlos can take, it’s worth weighing up whether it’s easier to just impede him with attacks that apply Slow or Paralyzed rather than trying to kill him outright.

So, that’s my thoughts on our latest Showgirl. As always, please drop me a comment with your opinions, I’d love to hear them!

Take care,

Ben

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Malifaux tournament report: Summer of Slaughter

At the weekend, I drove down to The Wargame Store in Wirral for their Summer Of Slaughter Malifaux tournament. Three games, with a little twist in that you had to write two 50ss lists first and then choose one to use each game. The strategies and schemes were released in advance, with round 1 being Guard the Stash (Corner Deployment: Convict Labor, Take Prisoner, Hunting Party, Undercover Entourage, Detonate The Charges), round 2 Turf War (Standard Deployment: A Line in the Sand, Protect Territory, Bodyguard, Vendetta, Deliver a Message), and Round 3 Reckoning (Flank Deployment: A Line in the Sand, Assassinate, Breakthrough, Vendetta, Frame for Murder). I spent a few evenings uhm-ing and aah-ing over which lists to take, and – after all that – ended up rewriting one completely on the morning of the tournament. The lists I took ended up being:

Crew 1
Colette du Bois
-Arcane Reservoir, Shell Game, Seize the Day
Cassandra
-Smoke & Mirrors, Recharge Soulstone
Coryphee
Coryphee
Angelica
-Practised Production
December Acolyte
Malifaux Child

Crew 2
Colette du Bois
-Arcane Reservoir, Shell Game, Cabaret Choreography
Cassandra
-Smoke & Mirrors
Arcane Emissary
-Illusive Conflux
Angelica
-Practised Production
Performer
Mannequin
Union Miner

DSCF7698

I was a hipster Arcanist and used one of the Avatar Colette models all day :)

I chose Colette for both lists for a couple of reasons. First and perhaps most importantly, she’s my favourite master – I find her very easy and intuitive to use, and I really enjoy every game I use her. Secondly, I always think that she’s a very versatile master, and to my eyes she was well-suited to the scheme pool in all three games. The first list was a more elite, hard-hitting crew intended for round three, while the second one had a bit more flexibility that I hoped would suit the first two rounds.

20160702_11363220160702_123307Round 1 (above pictures) saw me go up against the Ten Thunders, led by Shenlong. I opted for list two, choosing to deploy first and grouping most of my models near Ms du Bois. The Emissary and Angelica split off down the right flank to cut off my opponent’s Tengu before they could start their scheme-marker shenanigans, while the rest of the crew headed towards the left stash marker. One of the Tengu strayed into the 12″ threat range of the Emissary, allowing me to charge and kill it. Meanwhile, Cassandra led the Union Miner and Performer over to the second stash marker, throwing out scheme markers as they went in preparation for Set Up. Next turn saw the Emissary charge the second Tengu, killing it and eliminating the Ten Thunders presence on the right stash marker while Angelica moved up to claim it for the Arcanists. Shenlong used his Mighty Gust to move three scheme markers forward, with a Thunders Brother nearby to prevent the Performer removing them. I stalled for time by activating other models before activating Cassandra, who moved forward to put down the last scheme marker so I could score the full 3vp from Set Up, and Colette, who used Prompt to move the rest of my models away from the scheme markers. Both of us revealed Set Up at the end of the turn; I scored the full 3vp, while my opponent scored 1vp as I’d neglected to check Cassandra’s proximity to one scheme marker. Turn four saw Shenlong make a dash into my deployment zone, while Cassandra dashed into my opponent’s deployment zone, dropping down a scheme marker so Colette could do one of my favourite tricks and teleport over at the last second with her Disappearing Act. Both of us scored 3vp for Undercover Entourage, and the game ended with an 8-4 win for the Arcanists.

20160702_14302320160702_143026Game 2 (again, above pictures) saw me face off against another Ten Thunders player, also using Shenlong. I opted for list 2 again, deploying fairly centrally. The first couple of turns saw both crews moving up, with Shenlong accompanied by Izamu on the turf war point. I jumped the Emissary forward using the (0) Minor Teleport to Deliver a Message to Shenlong, earning 2 vp as I don’t like revealing Deliver a Message. However, things started to go pear-shaped as my opponent’s Tengu and Thunder Brother moved down one flank with a host of scheme markers thanks to Shenlong’s Mighty Gust, while his Katanaka Sniper flipped the Red Joker for damage and took out my Emissary. I moved my Performer over to counter the Protect Territory attempt, but fatally forgot about Protect our Holdings. Colette and Cassandra did a good job of dropping down scheme markers for my Protect Territory, though a last-minute Mighty Gust from Shenlong pushed Colette away, knocking me down from 3vp to 2, and a couple of points for Bodyguard on Sensei Yu finished the game with a 5-8 loss. While my stupid mistake with the Performer and the Thunders Brother cost me dearly, I also think that Izamu was a major point – while he didn’t go on the killing spree I expected, I just didn’t have the tools to deal with him (particularly once the Emissary was out of the game). In hindsight, my first list may have been able to deal with my opponent’s crew more easily due to the Acolyte’s Smell Weakness action and the Corypheé’s general offensive power.

Onwards to game three! (No pictures, because I forgot to take any in the excitement) Finally, I got to play against a master other than Shenlong. This time, my opponent was running Seamus, and I finally selected list 1. Unfortunately the table was fairly open around the centre in terms of terrain, giving the mad hatter’s Belles a superb view of large swathes of the board. One of my Coryphée was Lured right into the heart of the undead thanks to Madame Sybelle’s Not Too Banged Up upgrade. Colette managed to save it, Prompting it back to its dance partner, but was then dragged in herself. I managed to save her with Cassandra, though barely as Colette limped back to join my crew with one wound left and very few soulstones. The Coryphée danced together into a duet, cutting down a Nurse and a Belle to score a Reckoning point for me. Mortimer poisoned Colette, and my final attempt to save her lay in the Malifaux Child. With no cards in hand, I top-decked the high ram needed to successfully cast Misplaced Trust… only to flip the Black Joker for the healing flip. Despite Colette being out of the game, the rest of the game went my way as Angelica moved up to drop down scheme markers for Breakthrough, while Seamus took the bait and killed my December Acolyte to score me another 3vp for Frame for Murder. Cassandra mopped up the scheme marker Mortimer had dropped, and the game ended with a 6-1 victory for the Arcanists.

It was a great day, and many thanks to all my opponents as well as David for organising it. I placed third overall, which I’m rather pleased with.

Take care,

Ben

Malifaux tactics: Angelica

The mistress of ceremonies at the illustrious Star Theatre, Angelica has risen far beyond her humble beginnings as a carnival barker. Most often seen alongside her friends Colette and Cassandra, Angelica is a versatile model who can find a place in almost any Arcanist crew. She specialises at pushing both friendly and enemy models around, and is an ideal candidate for the Practised Production upgrade to give you even more control over your scheme marker locations.

Angelica-sm

(C) Wyrd Miniatures

Her mobility is pretty good, with a slightly above-average Wk and Cg. She also has a nifty little ability called First To The Stage, which lets her take a free walk action after the initiative flip on the first turn, allowing her to get a head-start on moving upfield. A free move is nothing to be sniffed at, and can help to move her further up-field to star using Give Them An Encore! – more on that shortly. Since it’s a walk action, and she’s a Showgirl, it can also be used to drag a Mannequin forward with Mechanical Adorations.

Angelica comes with two attacks, one close and one ranged. Her close attack, Hooked Cane, isn’t bad if she’s in a tight spot, with a low Ml that gets boosted for each scheme marker nearby. The main appeal is the built-in trigger “Next Act!”, which pushes the enemy model 3″ plus an extra inch for each friendly scheme marker within 5″. There’s no cap on that either, so if you happen to be near a couple of Union Miners who’ve just laid their False Claim Angelica can push her opponent 7″! As such, it’s definitely best to attack models in an area densely packed with your scheme markers, which synergises well with the Practised Production upgrade – more on that later…

Her ranged attack, Projected Voice, is her other option. The damage is pretty low, albeit with blasts on moderate and severe, but – as with her Hooked Cane – the trigger is where the attack shines. On a Mask, after damaging the target must discard two cards or gain the Paralyzed condition. With a low damage track it’s not likely to affect a master or henchman (who’ll likely stone to prevent the 1 damage, and as such prevent the ‘after damaging…’ trigger), but against enforcers and minions – or an opponent low on cards in her control hand – it’s a great way to give yourself an ap advantage.

20160426_084247As with most Showgirls, Angelica doesn’t have a tremendous wound count. However, her Df clocks in at a good 6, and her mobility should let her hug cover. She does have a situational yet potentially very powerful defensive trigger, the excellently-named Get Off The Stage! If Angelica manages to dodge an attack and has a mask in her final duel total, she can place the attacking model in base contact with any of its scheme markers within line of sight. Situational, but worth it for that time your opponent’s going for Power Ritual and you can throw an enemy model right back into their deployment zone! Finally, she benefits from the Disguised ability, so if an enemy wants to engage her, they’ll have to walk in rather than charging.

Angelica only has one tactical action, but it’s an awesome action and one of the main reasons she’s so good. The (1) Give Them An Encore! lets her push a friendly non-leader model within 8″ up to 5″ in any direction. It doesn’t have a Ca or TN – it just happens – and is a great way to speed up the slower elements of your force, get models out of melee or simply move models around out of activation.

As an Enforcer, Angelica can take one upgrade. Usually, for me, this will be the Showgirl-restricted Practised Production. Not only does it offer the option to buff up her Hooked Cane attack by dropping a scheme marker for free, but there are so many schemes that require markers in a particular position. (Sadly, due to the caveat that the marker can’t be placed within 3″ of an enemy model, you can’t use it for an easy 3vp Plant Explosives!) Whether you’re playing with the regular schemes or the Gaining Grounds 2016 collection, there’s usually plenty of use for getting scheme markers in a particular position, and Practised Production lets you get one where you need it. Its many uses include dropping a scheme marker next to Colette so she’s primed and ready for her own Hooked Cane attack or her Now You See Me trigger; dropping one near an enemy model, and then using a Performer to Siren Call the model onto the scheme marker so Envy’s Gatling Guns get their bonuses; and, since it’s not an Interact action, dropping scheme markers near other scheme markers to make schemes such as A Line In The Sand or Protect Territory that much easier.

I don’t usually tend to take Imbued Protection on Angelica since it’s fairly pricey at 2ss, and her Df 6 is fairly good anyway. Imbued Energies is always good, letting her push three models around in one activation if needed, but I’ll still usually pick Practised Production. Putting it on Angelica frees up the upgrade slot on the other two candidates, Colette and Cassandra, and avoids putting all your eggs in one basket (or should that be all your upgrades on one model?).

Aside from the obvious synergy with Colette, Angelica fits in very well with other masters too. There’s usually someone who could do with a push, such as the Rail Golem or Arcane Emissary. If you take Practised Production, do remember that the scheme marker you place via the upgrade only has to be at least 3″ from an enemy – so it can be placed near your own scheme markers, making flank runners such as Molemen that much more efficient. At the end of the turn, you can remove one of the many markers a pair of Molemen inevitably leave behind them, essentially trading an unneeded scheme marker for a free one upfield.

Particular note has to go to Rasputina, who Angelica particularly works well with. Despite Give Them An Encore! not being able to target leaders, most models with Frozen Heart tend to be fairly slow (of course, there’s always an exception!), and will benefit from being pushed around. The Ice Golem and Silent Ones in particular are slow models who will love being pushed into position. Her Projected Voice trigger also works well with Rasputina, who can take advantage of Paralyzed models with her (0) Shatter action from the Child Of December upgrade.

I take Angelica for her scheme marker and push shenanigans, so she’ll usually be either running down the flank or moving up behind the main force, where she can be fairly safe from enemy attacks yet still push my own models around as needed. With her above-average Wk and Cg she can move forward quickly if needed to attack enemy models and push them around with her Hooked Cane – out of the Turf War bubble, for example, or breaking up synergetic auras. Due to her reliance on nearby scheme markers to raise her Ml above 4, she tends to fare better at this in a Colette crew where scheme markers are usually found in abundance.

I’ve never yet had a game where I’ve regretted taking Angelica. Whether she’s directing my models around, paralysing the enemy or just ensuring that I have scheme markers where I need them, when I need them, Angelica is frequently one of the stars of the show in my crews.

Take care,

Ben

Hiring Mercenaries in Malifaux

‘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.

Bounty-Hunters

(C) LucasFilm

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.

Sue

One of Malifaux’s most iconic mercenaries, Sue. (C) Wyrd Miniatures

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!

Take care,

Ben

Malifaux: Metal Gamin errata

A while ago, Wyrd released an errata which made a couple of major changes to the Arcanist’s Metal Gamin. (Quite a while ago – I meant to write this post a lot earlier, sorry!) Now that the dust seems to have settled, how are our diminutive little friends faring?

Metal Gamin

(C) Wyrd Miniatures

The first change was one that I think we’ve all seen coming for a while now, and that’s a rewriting for clarification on their Tactical Action Protection of Metal. It’s now very specific that they can’t use it on Metal Gamin at all, either themselves or a nearby Metal Gamin (this is to get around the ‘…friendly Metal Gamin within 3″…’ part of the rule, as models always count as being within range of themselves). It’s nice to have this cleared up, and I don’t think it hurts them too much – after all, they’re still Df 5. Now, they’re clearly intended as support models, helping another model to hold an area – ideal for Turf War or Squatter’s Rights (possibly even Reconniter, once they and their partner get into a table quarter to try and lock it down).

The second change is the removal of the Hard To Kill ability from the front of their card. If I had to guess, I would imagine that the Mechanical Rider had no small part in this change – being able to summon a significant minion with 2 wounds and Hard To Kill as a (0) was pretty good, after all. They still have their Armor +2, so should still take a couple of hits to put down, but aren’t the auto-select when it comes to Revel In Creation any more. As an aside, I’ve always liked summoning Fire Gamin myself – they’re fast enough to be good scheme runners, and have a decent ranged attack for their cost.

So how much do these changes affect the Metal Gamin? Personally, I don’t think that the changes are that big a deal. Df 5 and Armor +2 is still pretty good for a 4ss minion even without Hard To Kill, and it always felt a little odd using Protection Of Metal on itself. I’ve left my old Metal Gamin tactica post intact, but added an addendum to the bottom mentioning the changes, and that some of the points I wrote aren’t applicable any more.

In other news, I splashed out a little at Easter to pick up the few missing Arcanists from my collection (Union Miners and the Mobile Toolkit), as well as some Night Terrors for Marcus, and the Amphibious Assault & Twisted Alternatives story boxes. I can also now wear my allegiance loud and proud!

20160404_18351320160404_183543Take care,

Ben

Malifaux tactics: The Captain

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.

Captain

(C) Wyrd Miniatures

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.

Take care,

Ben

Malifaux master spotlight: Kaeris

Riding on fire, touching the sky
Riding on fire, take you up so high
-Iron Savior, ‘Riding on Fire

I really enjoy playing Kaeris and, having run her at a recent tournament, I’ve finally sat down to put pen to paper (so to speak) for my favourite pyrokinetic master, Ms. Anasalea Kaeris.

Arcanist - KaerisLike Ms. Toni Ironsides, Kaeris has quite a diverse skillset that she can apply to most common situations in-game. A lot of this variety comes from her Limited upgrades, Grab & Drop and Purifying Fire. In a similar vein to Marcus, each of these has quite a noticeable effect on how both Kaeris and her crew can be played. Grab & Drop focuses on increasing the mobility of both Kaeris and her crew, giving her the classic action of the same name back. I often find myself using it as much for the placement as for any damage, pulling enemy models out of a synergistic bubble or into range of one of my own models. The upgrade also lends her some more mobility tricks to Kaeris’s crew with the Wings Of Fire ability. This takes a little bit of setup as the models have to be Burning in order to benefit, but having Flight and dropping a free scheme marker is pretty awesome. There’s a limitless number of uses for this, from dropping markers right next to the enemy master for Spring The Trap to creating a lethal minefield for Willie.

The second upgrade, Purifying Fire, is more focused around supporting your crew and keeping them alive. Kaeris gains a (0) action to drop down a pair of 50mm Flame Pillars to block line of sight, as well as damaging any model that moves through them. Ideal for dense areas of the board, this lets Kaeris block off chokepoints, forcing enemy models to decide between taking damage or finding a longer route around. It also gives her the ability Purifying Fire, converting Burning on nearby models into healing. As with Grab & Drop this takes a little setup, but can work really well with schemes such as Bodyguard, letting Kaeris light up a model with (1) Flaming Halo for up to Burning +4, then healing them instead of damaging them. Which one to take is very much dependent on the terrain, strats and schemes and enemy crew, though I have to admit that I do take Grab & Drop slightly more often than Purifying Fire just for the mobility tricks it can bring to the crew. A flying Howard Langston is a truly terrifying prospect!

Leaving aside the upgrades for a moment, Kaeris’s base card has some pretty good mobility. As might be expected from the mechanical wings that she’s known for, her speed clocks in at a respectable 6″ Wk and Cg with Flight letting her ignore terrain during each move. She does have a few tricks via her upgrades, most notably her (0) action Grab & Drop from the upgrade of the same name, but she can also push enemy models around somewhat via her Blinding Flame upgrade. All in all, she’s a pretty mobile master who shouldn’t have any problems getting where she needs to.

When it comes down to offence, Kaeris’s focus is pretty much the same as anything else – light it on fire. Her Immolate action combos particularly well off of her Flaming Halo, letting her hand out the Burning condition to an enemy and then attack with positive twists. Nicely, both Flaming Halo and Immolate have the melee and projectile symbols, so can work at range as well as in close quarters. It’s worth noting that Immolate is also a Ca attack, and so will get past Incorporeal, Bullet Proof and the like. Kaeris may not be able to put out the same sort of damage as, say, Lady Justice, but with a little setup she can certainly deal some significant damage when needed.

Her Tactical actions also bring some interesting new tricks to the table. The (0) Flare forces a high TN number on all models in a short pulse range or gain Burning +1 – ideal for lighting up groups of enemies or, indeed, groups of friendly models so they can benefit from either Grab & Drop or Purifying Fire. Her second (0) action, Truth In Flame, almost does the complete opposite – removing the Burning condition from nearby models to draw cards. Drawing cards is always a good thing in Malifaux, though since Truth In Flame isn’t selective it’s important to consider when you want to use it, as Kaeris does prefer attacking Burning models and her crew can benefit from being on fire through her upgrades. There’s no point in removing Burning off two enemy models to draw a couple of cards, and then having to cheat those exact cards in as you’re not getting the positive twists to Immolate any more.

While Kaeris isn’t the most resilient master out there, she can certainly take a few hits before she has to worry. A solid Df and Wp of 6 is backed up by Armor +1, though beyond stoning for damage prevention this is about all she has to keep her alive. Her defensive trigger, Smouldering Heart, is nice but not usually one I’ll aim for – unless Kaeris hasn’t activated yet and I really want the attacking model to be Burning! I tend to run a pretty full cache, using stones for damage prevention as well as some of the suits for the triggers on her upgrades (Blinding Flame and Born Of Fire come to mind).

When it comes to building a crew, Kaeris is fairly unique to the Arcanists in that she doesn’t have a particular keyword she likes. While it’s ideal to have at least a few models who can either dish out or benefit from Burning, she’s not ‘constrained’ to them. I’ll usually pick at least a Fire Gamin or two for their speed, ranged attack and ability to hand out Burning, as well as a Gunsmith or two for their synergy with Burning. Beyond this it really depends on what I feel is suitable for the strategy and schemes, though special mentions have to go to the Malifaux Raptor when paired with Grab & Drop (a 16″ move with Flight, with a free scheme marker at the end, is just brilliant), the Rail Workers for their (0) action Shovel Faster!, and the Mechanical Rider for her ability to summon Fire Gamin during the game. The Rail Golem seems like he’d be an excellent addition to a Kaeris crew, but I usually find that he can get enough Burning by himself without having to resort to Kaeris spending an AP on Flaming Halo. It’s also important to be very careful with the placement of the Rail Golem, since Grab & Drop’s Wings Of Fire ability, for example, will lower his Burning condition to 0 at the end of the activation if he starts within the aura.

One other model that really deserves a mention alongside Kaeris is the Arcane Emissary. I’ve never written about him here – mainly because I wrote the PullMyFinger article on him and (as much as I love the Emissary) I haven’t yet felt like writing it all again! – but he does have some superb synergy with Kaeris thanks to the Kaeris-specific unique upgrade. The ability it gives is fairly good, letting nearby minions damage themselves to deal out Burning +1 when attacking. The real draw of the upgrade is the (0) action it gains, Flame-O-Taur! Apart from having one of the best names in all of Malifaux, the action gives Kaeris Instinctual for the turn. Given how many (0) actions she has, this is simply fantastic. You can use Flare and then immediately use Truth In Flame to draw three cards, or fly into the midst of the enemy crew to use Flare and then disappear with Grab & Drop. The Emissary also benefits from Kaeris and her Grab & Drop upgrade – if you set it on fire and start its activation within the Wings Of Fire aura, it becomes a truly terrifying Ht 3, Cg 10 model that, thanks to Flight, can charge across most terrain without a care, helping to overcome its otherwise less-than-stellar mobility.

I’ll usually consider Kaeris for most strategies. Both of her Limited upgrades lend themselves well to Reconnoiter, either giving her crew additional mobility via Flight or restricting where the enemy crew can move with her Flame Pillars. The same applies to Turf War, where Purifying Fire can help give your crew additional staying power and the pushes from Blinding Flame can move enemy models out of the 6″ bubble. Squatter’s Rights becomes a lot easier when you can give models Flight so they can move straight onto the markers regardless of terrain, and again the pushes from Blinding Flame can help to move your opponent’s models off the markers. I have found her to be pretty good at Reckoning too, given that Kaeris works best focusing on one or two models and you only need to kill two models each turn. You can use Fire Gamin to hand out the Burning condition, then use Kaeris to Immolate them or open up with the Gunsmiths’ The Hard Way. It’s important to try and kill models with actions rather than the Burning condition, as – unless the Firestarter is nearby for his I Did It! aura – you can’t count models who die from Burning towards your total kills for the turn. Finally, the rarely-seen Stake A Claim also benefits from the additional mobility handed out by Grab & Drop, and Kaeris herself is usually fast enough to intercept enemy models who try to push through onto her half of the table.

Finally, what about playing against Kaeris? It goes without saying that condition removal is pretty essential, especially given that a lot of the time Kaeris relies on synergy. For example, while the Gunsmiths can take advantage of the Burning condition, they don’t really have a way to apply it outside of their Df trigger – so to take advantage of The Hard Way and maximise their damage output, another model will have to set the target on fire first, giving you a chance in-between the two activations to put out the fire, engage the Gunsmith, or anything else to stop the one-two combo. Most of her thematic models are equally proficient at range and close quarters, and can often get enough positive twists to ignore the negative twists from cover, so it’s best to try and prioritise your targets and focus them down. Be wary of taking models who use the Burning condition, such as the Rail Golem and Shenlong – Kaeris and the Gunsmiths in particular will love that you’re stacking the condition that they exploit on your own models!

Of course, this is all just my opinions and experiences of playing with Kaeris. If you’ve got thoughts on playing her, or indeed playing against her, please leave a comment, it’s great to hear from you :)

Take care,

Ben