Wednesday, 31 December 2014

End of the Rainbow - Awards time!

It’s the end of 2014, I’m dying to talk about my plans for 2015 but before I do, there’s one more order of business to attend to. It’s time for the Great Rainbow Challenge Award Ceremony! When I started the Rainbow Challenge, this was the article I intended to finish with at the end of the year. The blog post in which I go through all the Masters I played and painted, and pick the ones that for good or bad, stood out from the rest in one way or another. This, of course, is all purely my opinion, so please keep that in mind when I start talking about Masters in terms of “Best” or “Worst”. ;)

Also, I’ve gone through 10 categories here but if there’s something you feel that I missed then by all means, ask in the comments section and I'll answer!

Raspy...coming to an X-wing game near you!

Biggest Surprise – Rasputina

I hated Rasputina for the longest time. From my experiences playing against her she was slow, easy to counter and seemed to have a pretty flat playstyle – just sit up the back and throw ice at the baddies before they engage your crew of mini-Olafs (my daughter’s been watching Frozen a lot lately). So using actually playing a game with her on my side was nothing short of a revelation. She was still slow, but her Armour of December Upgrade allowed her to avoid combat easily, removing what I felt was her biggest weakness. Also, as I said in my blog post on her she makes up for her lack of mobility with board control. The incredible range and reach of her spells gives the opponent few options for keeping out of danger, which limits their movements and gives Raspy a great tool for dealing with more mobile crews. Then there’s her paralyze-related tricks and some great crew support, all of which made her a far more interesting Master than what I ever expected.

Why throw fireballs when you can eat FAIRY FLOSS?!

Honourable mentions for this award go to Sonnia and Perdita. My initial feelings on Sonnia were actually similar to Rasputina – she’s a fragile caster who just throws fireballs and is stuffed once you get in melee with her. Fortunately there’s more depth to her than that and she can even pull some nice punches in melee. Plus summoning Witchling Stalkers is just awesome! 

Probably holds the record for the second largest swing in my opinion of a Master between editions. ;)

As for Perdita, there was a time when I swore I’d never play her, mainly because she came across as pretty flat in the previous edition. Fortunately she’s improved immensely, certainly enough for me to enjoy pushing her around the table!

A bureaucrat's dream...

Biggest Disappointment – Collodi

Previous edition balance issues aside, I always felt Collodi was an interesting Henchman in Malifaux v1.5. In a world of monsters he had little more than a pile of puppets to defend himself, and the ways in which he could turn those puppets into killing machines was pretty cool. In M2E Collodi has basically the same sort of playstyle. But what’s turned me off him is the book keeping. Of the Masters I played this year, nobody else made it such a chore to keep track of conditions, scrap markers, corpse markers, scheme markers, auras, and pulse ranges like Collodi does. It was just a pain to deal with, made all the worse by the feeling that I had to keep my crew bunched up for all the overlapping bonuses (a playstyle that I generally dislike).

Probably one of my more expensive crews. :P

Strongest Master - Dreamer

The little boy with his monstrous friend seems to have it all. Condition removal, push effects, debuffs, obey effects, healing, summoning, there seems to be very few gaps in his playstyle. In my game with him he proved to be a real powerhouse, and that was with me using his non-summoning Restless Dreams upgrade. However the internet seems to have decided that Dreamer’s summoner build (With Dreams of Pain) is the way to go. I’m not experienced enough with Dreamer to dispute that, but I certainly do like the fact that you can switch between the two distinct playstyles at will. 

In any case, Dreamer is damn solid. I’m always reluctant to think of a Master as “the best”, but Dreamer is definitely one that left an impression on me.

One of the few moments in which I thought "hey, Von Schill's not so bad!"

Weakest Master –Von Schill

“Weakest” is probably an unfair term. It’s not right to label Von Schill as a bad Master, because he’s actually pretty viable. But what I don’t like about him is that all he really brings to the table are ways to neutralise your opponents strengths (eg. Burning, poison, Wp-based attacks, straight damage etc). It’s a very reactive way to play, and to be honest I don’t rate it very highly. Sure the odd Friekorps Specialist to clear markers is great, but an entire crew of such models just doesn’t feel that interesting.

To be fair, I really need to give Ms T another run!

Honourable mention for this goes to Tara. With her new upgrades in Crossroads her base crew has definitely improved, but at least from my perspective I still feel like she’s fighting to play how she was designed to (ie. bury stuff, make things fast, unbury stuff etc). Her activation control and ability to get reactivate is great, but that seems to be all she does. So for a good Tara crew you inevitably end up taking Tara, then none of her in-theme models. Of course to be fair this is all based on theory and talking to others – I’ve not played Tara since before Gencon so at some point I really need to give her another go on the table!

I swear, he's gonna be a menace once his boxed set comes out...

Favourite Master (Gameplay) – Jack Daw

For some reason, my daughter Miranda has taken quite a liking to Jack Daw. It all started when I was talking to her about which Faction I could take to Gencon (because you know, 2-year old girls know all about this stuff) – a conversation that ended with her and I shouting “JACK DAW!” at each other for a good ten minutes;

It's all her fault.

As it turned out, playing with Jack Daw was at least as much fun as shouting his name at a small child. His disruptive style is difficult to neutralise (ie. condition removal doesn’t work because they’re upgrades), he can strip cards from your opponent’s hand and he comes with an array of movement tricks that he can use to great effect against both his own models and the opponents crew.

She's not pleased at all about losing this award...

As an Outcast Master he gets access to a great mix of models with their own wacky playstyles, which has been a big appeal for me in my games with the Faction. And on top of that, like most utcast Masters he also has his Tormented – a pile of models from other factions that he can bring in at will. The good old Nurse has been the standout powerhouse with her Take Your Meds spell, but of the ones I tried my favourite might be Papa Loco – the crazy old exploding man that Jack just loves to push around. ;)

In any case, Jack’s proven to be a lot of fun for me. So it’s almost a pity that my time with the Outcasts (and by extension, Jack Daw) comes to a close with the end of this year.

Protip: Buy more Steam Arachnids. 

Least Favourite Master (Gameplay) – Ramos

Generally the Masters that have interested me the least are those with a limited playstyle. The edition change from 1.5 to M2E improved a lot of Masters and added some much needed depth to others, but some kind of just missed their chance for the latter. This year I labelled a few Masters with the “simplistic” tag (ie. not alot of tricks or variety in playstyle), which at least for me dooms them to a style of gameplay that I generally don't enjoy as much as other Masters. Of those however, there could only be one at the bottom, and it wasn't hard to give that dubious honour to Ramos.

While I’ve no problem playing against him, I just don’t like playing with Ramos. All he seems to do is summon spiders. Sure he can do other things but the bit I liked most about him (Detonating said spiders) still requires the tome Ramos would want for his Spider summoning and ultimately, every time I’d do something different I feel like I should be summoning spiders instead.

Perhaps my only LJ crew being undead was a little prophetic?

Easiest crew to figure out – Lady Justice

Love her or loathe her, it doesn’t take long to figure out how Lady Justice is supposed to work in-game. She hits stuff hard, heals herself if needed and possibly boosts her crew with Inspiring Swordplay. The toughest thing about her is that her average Df makes her easy to hit, so some care needs to be taken not to let her get overwhelmed in melee. Other than that, she’s a piece of cake to understand. :P

You've already seen Jack Daw, so here's another picture of Miranda instead...

Hardest crew to figure out – Jack Daw

I was originally going to give this to Leveticus and his crazy bury/waif mechanics but actually, I feel for me, the title belongs to Jack Daw. On the surface, Jack Daw is not overly difficult to figure out. You pass out Tormented, place Curses on the key threats and generally be a pain to your opponents crew while you achieve your own objectives. But there is a lot of depth to Jack Daw that isn’t immediately obvious when you first look at him. It’s hard to explain until you see it in action yourself, but the sheer variety of choice in movement effects and the need to maintain Line of Sight between relevant models with their auras and pulses force you to put a lot of thought into how you play each turn. I’ve played around 8-10 games with Jack Daw in 2014, more than any other Master this year, and I still feel like I’ve barely gotten a grip on the depths of his playstyle. He’s not an easy Master to, well, master, for me that was one of his big appeals for me!

My only regret is that the horse isn't a zebra. 
Favorite Crew (Paint-job) - McCabe

This is a tough one, since there are quite a few crews that I’m really proud of. I’ve always liked my Nightmare Dreamer crew, not to mention Neverdita and probably my favorite non-pink crew; the Mei Feng Cake Crew. If I had to pick a favorite though, I guess it would have to be McCabe and his Adventurers Guild. As a treasure hunter I wanted McCabe and his lackeys to actually look as though they’ve been out in the wilderness, plundering tombs and most importantly, with more than enough gear to do so.

So many backpacks...

The conversions weren’t difficult but I did need to delve through my bits box for the required additions. There’s bits from at least half a dozen kits (all of them Warhammer Fantasy/40k related) and while the basing was my usual “enchanted forest”, I added some plastic diamonds I once collected off the tables at a friend’s wedding. ;) All in all, I was very happy with the end result. They were a fun crew to build but most importantly, they look great on the table top!

Yin is the exception. It's impossible for her NOT to look awesome. 

Least Favourite Crew (Paint Job) – Yan Lo

While there’s some crews I’m proud of and some I’m at least satisfied with, I have to admit that of the crews I’ve painted, there are the odd few where I feel like I missed the mark or at the very least, are really starting to look dated compared with my more recent work. Leveticus is a good example of the latter, mainly because I painted his crew near the end of my “neon pink” phase. And as much as I love my Marcus model, his crew would also fall into the dated category, certainly enough for me to want to rebuy the crew and start again.

It says "soup" but you know what? I really don't care anymore. :(

But the crew I’m probably most disappointed by is Yan Lo. With Yan Lo’s crew I tried going for something different to my usual approach – an old, rusted look with muted greens and browns rather than my usual tendency toward pink or occasionally other bright colours. Technically the crew looks fine, as they certainly should be given the amount of time I putting into them! But the end result just doesn’t pop like I was hoping it would. With hindsight, I feel like I should have just stuck with my usual pink scheme. In fact if I take him up more regularly, I’ll probably buy another crew to repaint. Either that, or find some proxies that are altogether less delicate!

One day, Shlong, one day...

The one that got away - Shenlong

So as you all know, I didn’t get quite as far into my Rainbow Challenge as I’d been hoping. All in all I missed out on playing 9 Masters (including Colette, the only one of those I had a painted crew for). The question then, is which of those nine do I wish I could have had a chance to paint and play in 2014? Well for me there is only one answer, and that’s Shenlong.

At least on paper I quite like Shenlong’s ability to customise his playstyle from turn to turn, not to mention how he supports his crew the most ubiquitous yet underappreciated of actions – Focus and Defensive Stance. I’m also quite partial to the monk archeotype – there’s something about using your own bare hands (or a bo) in a fight when everyone else has swords and guns that’s so incredibly a bad ass. Of the kits that are unreleased, Shenlong’s is the one I’m most looking forward to. In fact once he’s available, I may even put my 2015 plans on hold to get him on the table. :)

I couldn't finish this challenge without one more pic of my Cake crew!


Well, that’s it then. 2014 is done and with it my focus on the Rainbow Challenge. Like I said before I still hope to get around to the crews I missed, but for now it’s time to move on and find another goal to focus on.

So do I feel this Rainbow Challenge was a success? Absolutely. This challenge was never just about getting every Master painted and on the table. To employ an overused cliché, It was much more about the journey. I wanted to give each Master a fair go, put aside preconceived notions, see how they really perform on the table and actually understand how they really work. Most importantly though, I wanted to find Masters with more depth that I’d initially expected them to have. The perfect example of this were those Masters I’d mentioned in the “Most Surprising” Category – Rasputina, Sonnia and Perdita. I’ve never thought much of all three, but having actually played them on the table I’ve found that they’re actually really fun in their own ways. In the same sense there were losers (Collodi, Von Schill, Ramos), but all in all I feel as though this Challenge was a great success!

Pandora deserves a  pic too, because she'll hurt me if I don't at least mention her...

So with the Rainbow Challenge finished with, what’s next? Well I’ll be focussing on just one Faction for 2015, but that’s for my next blog. Stay tuned… ;)

Happy New Year,


Huggy says SMILE!!!


  1. Glad McCabe took best painted, remember seeing it when first posted after I finished my own crew and being filled with envy. Kinda agree with the Ramos comment though.

    1. It's funny, some of my favourite crews (looks wise) happen to be Guild (Sonnia, Neverdita, McCabe). If they weren't so common I'd probably be playing them alot more in 2015!

      A few of the guys here are taking on Arcanists, so hopefully I'll be able to get in more games vs Ramos. I'll be interested to see whether anyone can make him effective without resorting to the summoning spam.