Well I may not post often these days but when I do, I end up writing lot. :P This article came to around 4500 words so yeah – prepare for a wall of text interspersed with pics of my proxy models. ;)
Rippling Fates is out and I thought I’d give a run-down of the new models and upgrades for my current Faction of choice – the Ten Thunders! Thus far I’ve had a few games with most of the models, so my thoughts below reflect what I are my initial impressions with them, based on early experience.
Be warned that this is written on the assumption that you have the Rippling Fates book in front of you. Most of the time I’ve not gone out of my way to describe specific stats or what each action/ability does (mainly because this blog post is long enough!). Nonetheless if you don’t have their rules on hand, you should still get an idea from reading this as to how these models play. Anyway, enough talk, on with the models!
As awesome as she looks, my proxy-Asami will become my new Chiaki just as soon as I’ve painted the official model.
As the new 10-Thunders Master, Asami probably warrants an article on her own. And once I get a few more games with her, I’m sure I’ll write one. :) But since we’re talking about the rest of the Ten Thunders faction in Wave 4 I think Asami deserves at least a brief look…
Asami is a summoning Master, and arguably the first of her kind in the Faction (Yan Lo doesn’t really count, since his summoning is entirely about bringing back hired Ancestors!). That said, thanks to the Flicker condition her summons are always temporary. In the few games I’ve played with her she’s capable of bringing out one, occasionally two models per turn depending on how many corpse or scrap markers are around to power up that Flicker condition. But bringing out models with Flicker +1 and no way to boost it (ie. they’ll die at the end of turn) just hasn’t been worth it in my experience. In practice, this means that in the absence of corpse/scrap markers I’ve usually only summoned Yokai or Jorogumo. The former starts on Flicker +2 at minimum and has ways to boost their own Flicker, while the latter are worth going to the effort of boosting their Flicker with Asami's totem, Amanjaku. Tengu, Obsidian Oni and Akaname might have their place as occasional summons (especially if you’ve got a few corpse/scrap markers handy), but I think in practice they’re the exception to the norm. As far as I’m concerned it’ll be Jorogumo or Yokai as Asami’s standard summons.
That said, I’ve heard talk about people wanting to embrace the limited lifespan of Asami’s summons and treating them like fire & forget missiles. I’m not convinced this is a worthwhile approach, but I guess time will tell whether it’ll be viable.
Either way Asami’s not going to be spamming summons like Nicodem or Ramos. So I’m not convinced she’ll be the go-to Master that everyone’s hoping for in Strategies like Interference or Reconnoiter. Fortunately, the lack of summoning spam is made up for by the quality of minions she can bring out (specifically, they’re summoned on full wounds!) and the support she provides. Wrath of the Oni gives friendly Oni (1) Charge actions (handy when those summoned models are Slow) and Oni’s Strength (Focus +2 on an Oni or Minion) can be thrown around to boost the damage of a friendly model or two. Asami herself is a little brittle (Df 7 only goes so far), but she’s got the potential to seriously hurt or outright kill models with her melee attack. She also has some great mobility, with various abilities and upgrades enabling her to teleport/push herself, or push other models around.
Asami’s biggest fundamental weakness is arguably her card dependence. Most of her actions have a moderate TN, her Df 7 is only good if you’re flipping well, and of course, she’s a card-hungry summoner. Having access to both Rush of Magic and her Nefarious Pact upgrade should help improve her control hand somewhat. Nonetheless, carefully managing Asami’s control hand is still going to be a significant factor in using her well.
He’s pretty obviously a Soul Porter, but at least for an Asami crew there’s no mistaking what he should be. ;)
There’s not a lot you can say about Amanjaku without also talking about how Asami plays. Basically though, he seems to be there almost entirely for increasing Flicker on summoned models - something that requires a 9 of any suit to cast. He’s got a melee attack and a suit-specific anti-shooting Aura but really, that’s not what you take him for.
I’m still undecided as to whether Amanjaku will be a consistent auto-include for Asami. At the moment I think he is, but it’s possible he’ll end up being more like Asami’s “Training Wheels” – good when you’re starting her, but ultimately unnecessary.
As the Ten Thunder’s newest Henchmum, Ohaguro Bettari (henceforth known as Betty) brings some great options to the Ten Thunders. First and foremost, she’s quick! Being able to place herself next to summoned models and charge through ANY terrain and model, LoS or not, gives her gives her some great manoeuvrability. Asami or a Pathfinder can use newly summoned models to set up some unexpected charge angles, or even just get Betty out of trouble if she’s about to get pounded. There’s also her Ploughed Over trigger on her attack, which lets her push her current target aside and charge another model, much like the Mature Nephilim.
In terms of damage output, Betty’s melee attack only gets impressive on a severe damage flip. That’s not great for a melee-oriented Henchmum …until you realise she can give herself an automatic flay trigger with The Flaying Song. Asami’s cheap focus with Oni’s Strength will also help with that, but what this all ultimately means is that if you really want to lay out the damage, you’ll need to put some resources into her. She does, however, have her Bird and Snake ability, an aura (AURA!) that prevents all enemy Wp or Df triggers. This is a game-changer for the Ten Thunders, and it makes Betty and her crew a serious threat against any model who relies on those triggers for survival (Arcanist Masters especially!).
Unfortunately resilience is not Betty’s strong suit. She’s a SS user with got a decent Df and Wp, and Eat your Fill from her Taste for Flesh upgrade can help out. But without anything else to mitigate damage she really needs to rely on her manoeuvrability to stay alive.
I’ve heard talk that Ohaguro Bettari might be best used as a flanking-type model. She’d probably do fine in such a role but personally, I feel that she’s more of a team player. She needs the help of her crew and control hand to keep her evasive and boost her damage. But in exchange she offers A LOT to the rest of her crew in terms of enhancing their lethality. Basically, I feel like she’ll be at her best when she’s got a few friendly models to work alongside.
More lazy proxy work but believe it or not, I did find myself needing more than three! I really should make a Puppet-Resser crew with all these guys. :)
“The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long - and you have burned so very, very brightly, Roy.” – Tyrell, Bladerunner
Yokai are a minion that I’m very excited about! I suspect a lot of people are going to be turned off by Flicker and the limited life span it allows. But much like the Replicants in Blade Runner, they’re able to punch well above their weight over the short time that they’re alive.
Thanks to Ephermal Wariors granting a 3” place (=4” of movement) every time Flicker or Poison counts down, the Yokai are FAST. They move a minimum of 14” each turn, and potentially 18” if they use Corrupting Essence to Interact and burn another point of Flicker. Hell, stick Poison on them from someone like an Akaname and you’ll get yet another 3” place per turn, bringing their maximum movement to an incredible 22”.
In melee they’re a little fragile for their cost, but between Frenzied Charge (for positives to their charge attacks) and no less than 5 different triggers for a variety of useful effects they’ve got the potential to hit very hard for a 5SS model. Any of the triggers that increase their damage output also tend to cost Flicker, but they’ve also got triggers to drop a corpse (great for summoners!) or increase their own Flicker for a bit of extra longevity.
While I’ve had great success using them as scheme runners or generally just cheap expendable beaters, I think Yokai will really find their place with schemes that require you to interact with other models, like Cursed Object or Distract. Thanks to Corrupting Essence they’ll have no trouble tagging an enemy model with a (0) and then teleporting away (to potentially then remove any such condition on themselves). Plus you can time their Flicker condition to ensure that if/when the Yokai is tagged, they’ll lose Flicker and be sacrificed at the end of turn, before the opponent scores any VP for them!
The Terracotta Warrior is almost perfectly suited to helping out Lucius, but since he’s not a Ten Thunders Master I’m going to ignore him. :) Fortunately, he’s also pretty great in his home faction.
There's basically three things that the Terracotta Warrior has to offer the Ten Thunders – protection for key minions and enforcers, the ability to swap upgrades around at will and a surprisingly meaty melee attack.
Mold of the Other is like handing out ablative armour to your Enforcers and Minions. Being able to effectively ignore a single hit (for the cost of a card from your hand, if you want to keep the Terracotta Warrior alive) can be incredibly useful. That’s especially true when you consider how powerful some of our minions/enforcers are and ESPECIALLY considering you decide whether to ignore the hit after seeing the damage flip! It’s a one use only condition, but the Terracotta Warrior can keep applying it to a new model each turn, even if the original target hasn’t yet spent his Ancient Protection!
There’s some great potential applications for the Terracotta Warrior’s ability to swap friendly upgrades around with Ancient Treasures. At its simplest it lets you customise your crew’s upgrades on the fly. Facing Pandora or Titania? Swap some of those Recalled Training upgrades for Servant of the Five Dragons. Smoke Grenades no longer needed? Exchange it for Recalled Training or Equality. It won’t work with our many 0-cost upgrades (sorry Samurai!), but there’s more than enough 1+ cost upgrades to find some value.
In terms of specific Masters, Brewmaster will get a lot of value out of Ancient Treasures simply because it lets him take Running Tab to hire Wesley and his other Gremlin Tri Chi, then swap it out for something that’s actually going to be useful in-game, like Misdirection. Jacob Lynch’s Ace in the Hole might not work with the Terracotta Warrior’s discarding (they go to the bottom of your deck, not the discard pile). However it does give Lynch the chance to swap his Limited upgrades around to switch the Hungering Darkness between killing (Endless Hunger) and rebirth (The Rising Sun). McCabe could also use this to swap his own treasure upgrades around as needed and Shenlong could do the same with his Limited "River" upgrades. Of note here is Sensei Yu, who with Promising Disciple can actually pick up whatever upgrade Shenlong swaps out with Ancient Treasures. That’s effectively a free upgrade for him every turn you swap something!
Finally, it’s worth taking note of the Terracotta Warrior’s Clay Fist. On the face of it it’s a pretty average attack with 1/3/5 damage, but the Ram trigger brings that up to a much more serious 3/5/7. The Terracotta warrior takes 2 damage in the process, but he need only spend a card from his control hand to prevent that. It's unlikely to win you games, but it's the kind of thing nobody will really expect from what's supposed to be more of a support model!
Sun Quiang is the Ten Thunder’s new all-round support model. He’s got some very easy healing, can place and remove scheme markers at will, removes corpse or scrap just as easily and has a great, if subtle array of debuffs to mess with the enemy crew and score/deny VPs. Despite initially being underwhelmed by his stats, after just one game with this guy I’ve started to see A LOT of potential. Hence why this guy gets an even bigger wall of text than the rest of the models I discuss here. ;)
The first thing you’ll notice about Sun is his healing. Between Absolute Sincerity and the Duality Trigger on his melee attack (with a 6” non-melee range, you’ll note), he’s quite capable of healing up multiple friendly models, which is all the more effective if you’ve taken a crew with lots of hard to kill or armour. The former also heals enemy models within the aura, but smart positioning and activation can minimise the benefit. In any case if they’re close enough to heal they’re also close enough to take a potential Wp duel for Slow from Thirteen Measures, so it’s not so bad.
Speaking of which, while most people will primarily see Sun Quiang as a healer, his control and debuff-type tricks are arguably much more valuable. In addition to Thirteen Measures, Sun Quiang has two melee triggers that will either grant them Adversary (making him very scary with Spirits like Izamu or a few Komainu to back him up), or place them 6” away. The latter might actually be the strongest trigger available to Sun Quiang – a 6” place has the potential to basically remove an enemy model from the action for a turn, placing them out of melee and/or out of sight while you deal with the rest of the crew. Or alternatively you can isolate an enemy model from the rest of the crew, removing potential synergies (screw you Lenny!) and/or making sure you can kill them dead. Then, of course, there’s the potential to deny VPs with the placement. You can throw a model away from Guard the Stash, for instance. Basically it’s a very effective (if suit dependent) placement effect, and placement effects are arguably one of the most powerful things you can do in Malifaux!
Then there’s also the “Peon aura” that Sun Quiang can give himself with Recitation of the Essential Formulae. This has no resist, and with the right schemes on the table it’s got some huge potential for scoring/denying VPs. For instance making an enemy model a peon prevents them from tagging your models with Exhaust their Forces or Catch and release, and as peons they’ll count as kills for Hunting Party, even if they’re also an Enforcer, Henchman or Master. That last part has me especially excited – there’s nothing quite like ruining your opponents attempts to deny that scheme by just irresistibly making the model you’re killing peons anyway! There’s also the potential to combine this with Sue’s The Man Comes Around trigger (ie. discard or die if you're a Totem or Peon) to auto-kill those peons. There might be more model-specific synergies, but I’m not yet aware of them.
The final aspect to Sun Quiang are his scheme marker tricks. The Cleanse trigger on his melee attack lets you remove corpse, scheme and scrap markers within 2” of the target and his (0) Study action can exchange a nearby corpse, scrap or scheme marker for a scheme marker of your own. When you consider he’s also got Don’t mind me to let him interact while engaged it shouldn’t be too hard to keep enemy scheme markers away from his vicinity while also placing markers of his own.
While not super-resilient, Sun’s Df 7 at least acts as a great deterrent for your opponent. Even if they’ve identified how disruptive he is, they’ll often prefer to target someone in your crew who’s easier to hit. Sun Quiang’s low mobility is offset somewhat by his “King of Medicine”. So long as he’s got cards to discard he should be able to push up to wherever models are getting damaged, which is pretty much where he wants to be anyway.
Sun Quiang’s main weakness is his card reliance. All of his actions have a moderate TN, you’ll want specific suits for the triggers on his melee attack and even King of Medicine will demand your low cards. I suspect there’s a good chance that you won’t be able to do everything you want with him, every turn, unless you flip well or dedicate a good chunk of your hand to powering his activation.
Overall though, Sun Quiang seems to like the kind of crew that tends to bunch together in the middle. He can't realistically flit around every turn and remain effective, but for the likes of Yan Lo in a strategy like Turf War (and preferably with Hunting Party and Search the Ruins in the scheme pool!), he should definitely be a force to be reckoned with.
He's a Work in Progress and he doesn’t match the art, but you get the idea…
So the Yasunori is *sort of* our version of the other Faction’s “Rider” models. Well, in so far as he’s a 12SS dude on a horse-thing with some solid resilience and excellent damage output. I’ll admit he’s the only Wave 4 10-T model I haven’t yet tried, but he definitely looks promising.
Compared to a Rider he’s generally more mobile (with Flight) but his resilience doesn’t scale with the turn number – arguably a good thing since you at least won’t be so reluctant to poke his head out in the early turns! With his Wind/Water/Earth/Fire Triggers you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting 4 attacks off on the charg - great considering the 3/4/5 damage output. His obey-style, (0)Kodoku action only adds to that – so long as you’ve got a decent minion handy (friendly or enemy) then you’re able to pull off a potential 5th attack in his activation. The Ram-specific Wrath of the Heavens Trigger it grants on that attack is crazy-good too. So long as your opponent has scored a few VP (and it’s likely they would have after turn 2) it can really ramp up the damage.
Yasunori has some card draw/manipulation in the form of Scales of the Heaven and Great Sage, and defensively Stubborn can limit his chances of being neutralised by a Wp-based debuff-style attack. But otherwise that’s all there is to Yasunori. He’s basically a very high damage beater. You’ll want a good minion to pair with him and some healing to counteract all the attacks that are likely to come his way, but otherwise he’s not a particularly complicated model!
Let’s face it – Pig Demon isn’t a huge stretch from Poo Demon. ;)
Woo! Poo Demons! As you might expect, Akaname is very much Brewmaster’s minion. His attacks allow him to throw Poison around at will, he can siphon Poison off friendly (ie. drunk) models with Filth Eater and then he can use that poison to place scheme, corpse or scrap markers with The Oni’s Gift. That last part makes him a worthwhile replacement to the Tengu, so long as he’s got poison to siphon off to keep placing those scheme markers! There’s also some potential with a Brewmaster/Toshiro crew, using the Akaname to drop scheme/corpse markers (he’ll need a Mask for the relevant trigger though) and summoning Komainu/Ashigaru as needed with Tosh.
Outside of Brewmaster, the Akaname’s going to be a major thorn in the side of Resser Masters and especially McMourning’s crew. It’s a trivial matter for him to strip poison off other models and use it to dump a scheme marker, so long as you can make sure he starts within 6” of the victim (not hard with all the pushes Ten Thunders have!).
Compared with the Tengu, the Akaname has some better resilience and damage output. But combat potential isn't really why you take most 4SS models! So outside Brewmaster I don’t think he’s really going to be worth taking over other 4SS models with more specific roles, unless you can consistently feed him poison (or at least ruin McMourning’s day!). Fortunately there’s a few ways to do that – an Akaname should pair pretty well with the Fermented River Monk, and an easy way of dumping corpses or scrap everywhere can give you easy pushes and poison from Lick their Corpses (Mei Feng’s Emberling, Mechapig and Emissary come to mind). Beyond that, Akaname really does seem to be a minion who’s custom-made for Brewmaster.
The Seishin are magnetised, making this a pretty functional proxy!
Recipe for the Goryo: Take an Illuminated, swap the Brilliance synergy with Adversary synergy and Armor with Incorporeal. Drop the healing in exchange for the ability to summon Seishin, add Fast whenever a nearby friendly dies and then swap the Scintilating Cloud attack with a ranged (0) attack that can add Adversary to the target. Ensure it ignores armour with melee attacks, Incubate and apply evenly to one (1) Yan Lo.
That’s pretty much it. The Goryo is a functional clone of the already amazing Illuminated, but repurposed for Yan Lo. Like the Illuminated, he’s great in combat with the same Ml and Dg stats, but the raw damage potential offered by Brilliance repurposed to simply ignoring armour on all his attacks. Even without the consistent healing he remains quite tough thanks to Incorporeal
In short, the Goryo is the model you take with Yan Lo when you need a nice, chunky, minion-level killing machine. This is something I’m especially happy about since it gives Yan Lo the chance to take a more minion-heavy crew. That should help a lot when schemes like Public Demonstration are in play. They’ll also synergise really well with the other new Retainer, Sun Quiang, since it’s quite trivial for him to heal up some of the damage they lose from summoning the odd Seishin.
He’s nowhere close to matching the art, but he’s doing a good enough job while I build a more suitable replacement.;)
As an Outcast-Last Blossom minion, the Wokou Raider is a new option for Misaki. I’ve never been a fan of taking Last Blossom models for the purpose of using the Smoke and Shadows Upgrade (it’s never been worth it for me). But I think it will make for a great addition to Miaski crews.
Stone for stone, the Wokou Raider is a pretty solid melee fighter. The positive on attack makes them pretty card efficient and they’ve got a good damage spread with the chance for Critical Strike. But they’re at their best when paired with another friendly melee model, where their Coordinated Raid trigger can give a nearby friendly model a free attack on the target.
Defensively, Combat Finesse (which prevents the opponent cheating melee attacks vs Df) can be a major deterrent to taking them out in favour of other models and together with Bulletproof, helps their average Df go a long way.
But I think what sets them apart from their main competition in a Misaki crew (ie. Lone Swordsman), is their scheme marker-related tricks. So long as they have a lowish tome on hand, their (0) New Horizon action lets them throw nearby scheme markers, friendly or enemy, a massive 6” anywhere they want. It’s an easy way to put a friendly scheme marker where you want, without the hassle of exposing your crew too badly by physically moving models up there. For instance it’s the kind of thing that makes schemes like Detonate the Charges almost trivial. I’ve also used one to throw a scheme marker up the board for Leave your Mark, without my Wokou Raider leaving the centreline.
Overall, I feel like the Wokou Raider is sort of a combination melee fighter/scheme runner for Misaki. Coordinated Raid discourages you from running up a flank on their own, but New Horizons should prove excellent at moving existing scheme markers into position for scoring VPs.
While I’m not quite convinced this will have value in most 10-T crews, as a “Discard or Die” effect this is practically an auto-include for Misaki. Our Assassination-happy Ninja Master loves anything that makes your opponent discard their cards, so Death Contract offers an easy way to encourage that.
Outside of Misaki, there’s probably some value in pairing Death Contract with Misdirection, for what I hope are obvious reasons!
I’ve found Equality to be a great little upgrade. All three effects (draw a card, heal 2 dg or drop a scheme marker) have their uses but most importantly in my mind, it gives the Ten Thunders an upgrade that they’re not going to discard at the first opportunity.
We all know Recalled Training is amazing. But on a model without any other upgrades, once you use it they lose any possible synergies with upgrade-dependent actions like the Obsidian Oni’s heal or Shadow Emissary’s push & Fast. I used to take Smoke Grenades on one of my models when I wanted an upgrade that would stick around for the game, but now Equality has mostly taken its place.
For the same reasons, Equality is also another upgrade we can use instead of Recalled Training for the scheme Show of Force – something I’ve otherwise had trouble achieving compared to some of the other factions!
A Memory of Honor
Fuhatsu is the only model I don’t yet have for the Ten Thunders, and I’m not quite convinced this upgrade will change that. It’s nice to see that he’s no longer useless once engaged, but it really only addresses one half of what was wrong with him. His other issue is his inability to be pushed or moved by other models, and in a Faction that’s packed to the brim with push effects, that’s unforgivable. I still feel like an Earth Samurai or even Envy is the better choice over Fuhatsu. With the upgrade I might finally buy him and try him in a crew, but I don’t hold out hope for the poor guy.
The Peaceful Waters
I didn’t think the Low River Monk needed an upgrade. Being able to remove conditions for 4SS was enough for me, but the community decided otherwise. So here we are. Fortunately, The Peaceful Waters is a great upgrade. It basically adds Healing and placing scheme markers to the Low River Monk’s in-game roles, so there’s now even more reason to take one.
Until next time,