Lilith and I have always had a difficult relationship. In Malifaux 1.5 I played all of the Neverborn Masters to at least some degree but of the 5 Masters (+Collodi) available, Lilith was my least favourite. Sure she was good – her and her Nephilim crew’s ability to smash face in melee was almost unrivalled. But ultimately (and in my opinion of course) it led to a fairly flat playstyle. It really wasn’t until later books, when she gained access to more supportive minions like Nekima, the Blood Shaman and Those Bastard Twins (Lilitu and Lelu) that her playstyle developed some more depth. Even then, it was never enough for me to tear myself away from the super-tricky, multi-dimensional playstyles of Marcus, Zoraida or Lucius.
Fast forward to M2E, and Lilith is a changed girl. She’s still a force to be reckoned with in melee, but her higher fragility and a new set of tricks has made her much more interesting and dynamic on the board. Thus far then, I’ve enjoyed using Lilith quite a lot.
Say Hello to Mummy
While Lilith is undoubtedly designed as a melee fighter, she’s not the sort of melee fighter you can just throw into your opponents force and watch her grind through them. Despite her high Df, I’d maintain that Lilith is not particularly tough. There are plenty of melee specialists with a melee stat to match her Df value, and any hit that does connect with her is going to hurt. Lilith is especially vulnerable to blasts or anything else that doesn’t need to force a Df resist, especially with her pitiful Wp of 5. That low Wp alone is going to be a serious weakness against the right crew, so any enemy model who can exploit that is a serious threat to Lilith.
I think the key to using Lilith well, then lies in her ability “Master of Malifaux”. If she doesn’t need line of sight to target enemy models (melee attacks aside), why should you expose her in the first place? So what I’ve tended to do is hide in cover or outside Line of Sight, then use her to take down isolated targets, by either charging them herself or using her positioning spells like Transposition to pull them out of safety. Beyond this general playstyle, there are a few extra facets to how Lilith goes about her business, depending on her crew and upgrade selection. For me though, I’ve almost entirely focused on her tricks associated with push effects.
Rotten Belles? We don’t need no Rotten Belles!
In terms of upgrades for Lilith, my usual setup has been Living Blade, Wicked Mistress and then either Beckon Malifaux or Summon the Blood. While upgrading Lilith’s greatsword attack is undoubtedly great, I take Living Blade for Thirsty Mandrake. As a pseudo-pounce ability, it allows Lilith to make free attacks on anyone who pushes to within 1” of her. Combine that with Wicked Mistress to push enemy models their charge toward her and you have a Master who can easily suck enemy models out of safety and into the waiting arms of Lilith. The alternative to Wicked Mistress would be to use Tangle Shadows. It’s certainly more flexible in it uses than Wicked Mistress, but it won’t give Lilith that free attack and I’m not overly fond of the high casting requirements.
Of the other Lilith Upgrades, Beckon Malifaux has often been a favourite of mine (who doesn’t like mobile, line of sight blocking terrain?), but I’ve also dabbled in using Summon the Blood. While it does wound your own models, the ability to deal irresistible damage to enemy models is very handy when you’re facing something who’s otherwise very difficult for Lilith to kill conventionally (eg. a Nothing Beast with no cards in-hand).
The one action I’ve yet to really try with Lilith is Wicked Vines. In theory it should work really well with Wicked Mistress or other push effects, or even just holding a model in place to keep them from disrupting your own plans. In later games, once I’m over the awesomeness of luring in enemy models for dispatching by Lilith, I’ll probably give this more consideration.
Rapid growth deserves it’s own heading, so…
I’ve only taken Rapid growth in one game thus far, and when I had the chance to grow a Terror Tot onto a Young Nephilim, I actually didn’t bother since I wanted the higher mobility of the Tot at the time. Other than that, I’ve generally avoided taking Rapid Growth in my crews. While I can’t deny the value of upgrading one of your Tots mid-game, it’s always felt a bit like a “win more” upgrade. If I’m already slaying enemy models left right and centre, do I really need the additional killing power of a new Young Young Nephilim? In any case, most of the time my Terror Tots have been sent out to the flanks to achieve objectives or delay enemy models rather than bunch them up close to Lilith (or whoever’s been given Rapid Growth). So thus far my kind of playstyle hasn’t really worked well with getting the most out of Rapid Growth.
That said, I did once play a game against another Lilith player who used Rapid Growth to great effect. What he did was use Transposition to pull isolated minions into a waiting swarm of Terror Tots, who then pounced on the hapless victim and with the help of a swing or two from Lilith’s oversized butter knife, killed it off to grow one of those Tots into a Young Nephilim. The strategies and schemes themselves where very geared toward killing so with no flanking objectives to worry about, the bunched up, Rapid Growth-friendly style worked really well for him.
He’s a Barbie Girl, in a Barbie World
As Liliths very own Henchman I think Barbaros (or Barbie, as I’ve taken to calling him) deserves special mention. On his own I’ve found Barbie to be a decent little package – armour, high Df and Wp stats and his Knock Aside Trigger give him some good resilience (especially for a Nephilim), and the extra walk action from nimble makes him quite mobile. His damage output is merely “okay”, but what really draws me to him is how easily he pushes enemy models around. Pairing her with Lilith using the Living Blade upgrade makes it very easy to push enemy models to within 1” of Lilith and give her a free attack courtesy of Thirsty Mandrake. You can do the same with Terror Tots (who have Pounce) and that still doesn’t take into account all the other tricks you can pull when pushing enemy models around, whether it’s to get them out of melee or on/off objectives.
I generally haven’t prioritised giving upgrades to Barbie – he’ll usually only get 1 or 2 if I happen to be short a few spare soulstones in my crew. When I have though, it’s usually been Obsidian Talons for the Flay trigger – something that’s very useful for boosting the melee power of Terror Tots in particular (more on that later). Nephilim Gladiatus seems like the sort of upgrade I would enjoy. After all, it’s another easy push effect! But while I’ve taken it before, I’ve yet to remember to use the ability! Still, it’s a decent (0) action for 1SS so I’m sure I’ll be taking it again. I might even remember to use it in the future!
…and all the rest
So far, my standard Lilith crew has been very similar to what you get in the plastic starter box, with Barbie, a Cherub, Terror Tots and then whatever else I feel is going to help achieve the strategies and schemes.
Of all the models I’ve used with Lilith, her Cherub is the one that’s proven to be the surprise hit. Honestly, there’s very little that seems bad about the Cherub. He’s quick with a high Df for avoiding attacks, and his Our Land ability makes it so much easier for your crew to achieve any scheme requiring interact actions (especially when it’s a (2) interact that’s required). What really surprised me though, was Cupid’s arrows. It’s rarely going to kill a model for you, but granting slow AND pushing that model 5” is amazing for disrupting and tying down enemy models. I once did exactly that to Taelor, and successfully tied her up for the least 2-3 turns of a game.
Like I said above, I’ve mostly used Terror Tots for running up the flanks, placing scheme markers and generally spending AP on the things my heavy hitters are too busy smashing face to do. Once they’ve achieved their main task though, I’m quite happy to throw them into the fray, either by holding up enemy models, positioning them for a pounce attack or simply charging in for the kill. One thing I’ve found though, is that Obsidian Talons REALLY helps improve their damage output. With a damage spread of 1/3/4 you really want to be dealing at least moderate damage with each hit, so giving them a trigger that lets them cheat that damage flip helps them punch well above their weight.
I’ve only rarely used Young Nephilim and never used a Mature Nephilim in my games with Lilith thus far. The Youngs seem okay, but they’re a glass cannon, which is something the crew already tends to have in spades. Regarding the Mature Nephilim, it might provide me with another relaitively tough model but he’s usually competing for space with Barbie, and I’ve enjoyed Barbie’s push mechanics too much to consider dropping him from the crew.
Of the non-nephilim available to Lilith, Waldgeists have been an obvious choice. Their forest markers may not block line of sight like Lilith’s Illusionary forests, but they’re still good for some easy soft cover, slowing enemy models down and giving themselves an impressive 4” melee range when no other severe terrain is available. Most importantly though, they’ve been great as a resilient model for an otherwise fragile crew. They’ve also proven to be an excellent front-line model for the enemy crew to crash into, before the Nephilim follow up for a counter-attack – something they’re far more suited to their glass cannon playstyle.
I know a lot of people will automatically turn to Terror Tots for schemes requiring an interact, but I’ve still found a place for Silurid in that role. Sure, one is almost as costly as two terror tots, but they’re more reliably fast than a terror tot (needing only a 5 of any suit for their leap, rather than a mask) they’re harder to attack thanks to Perfect Camouflage and they can very easily escape melee thanks to Leap. They’re also able to place two scheme markers a turn (interact – leap – interact), and their impressive mobility allows them to make interacts and place scheme markers wherever they want. I still take Terror Tots for their cheapness and flexibility but with the right scheme (eg. Power Ritual, Breakthrough, Deliver a Message), I’ll consider a Silurid purely for achieving those.
Well that’s it for today. Until next time,