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!!!

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Those Left Behind - Jack Daw, Outcast Misaki and Hamelin

So as promised, here's part two of my "Those Left Behind" article (Part 1 is here). Enjoy! 

Jack Daw

As it turns out, Jack Daw’s playstyle happens to be almost exactly how I like to play. In fact, I'm pretty sure he was instrumental in my decision to abandon the Rainbow Challenge and focus on Outcasts. He was just so interesting, so engaging for me that one game was just not enough! Needless to say, he's become my favorite Master in the Outcasts Faction, possibly even in the game (but that's for another blog post).

Instead of raw damage output, Jack is all about disrupting your opponent in ways that are difficult to neutralise. He prefers his curse upgrades over applying conditions and in fact almost none of his crews utilise conditions, effectively eliminating the usual counter to debuff-style crews (ie. condition removal from the likes of Johan, Chiaki etc). This preference for neutralisation over outright damage is something I’m really drawn to. In a lot of games I’ve found that simply holding up the enemy can be as good as killing them, so a crew like Jacks, who can achieve that well certainly appeals to me.

My first Jack Daw Crew, initially gifted to me via the 2013 Malifaux Gift Exchange by abraxus04! :)

Of course the flip side of that is that Jack’s traditional crew doesn’t have a lot of raw damage output. Fortunately it’s not hard to throw in a few heavy hitters, so bringing the likes of Bishop or Taelor along is certainly handy. Even better, the Guilty’s ability to add the Tormented  characteristic to other models (including your own) allows you to make them honorary Tormented, giving them all the synergies that the rest of Jacks crew benefits from!

Jacks crew is also loaded with effects to make your opponent discard cards and pass lots of duels. Discard effects are something I'm becoming more and more fond of. Individually they might not seem like much, but stack on enough of them and it puts alot of pressure on your opponents hand, forcing them to make hard decisions about whether to cheat/discard or deal with the consequence of not (eg. damage, becoming Tormented, push effects, paralyse, etc etc). It makes it harder for your opponent to keep cards for what they want to do, which reduces the effectiveness of their crew relative to yours. It's sort of the opposite of card-drawing abilities like Arcane Reservoir and Rush of magic, and is a great way to even the playing field against crews that utilise those abilities. 

Finally, Jack and his Tormented have ALOT of movement effects which as I've said before, is an aspectof Malifaux that I've always enjoyed. The Writing Torment upgrade is my favorite, but Monty has both a pulse and trigger to push enemy models into base contact, the Guilty can push toward other Tormented and the Drowned with Jakunna have a great array of movement effects too. In fact, the array of options this can give you in-game can actually get overwhelming. I remember a game at Gencon where it was the top of the 5th turn vs Nicodem. It was a game I was likely to lose (only barely) but looking at the board I felt as though the potential was there for Jack to pull some really jammy shit, push a bunch of models around and snatch victory from the Jaws of defeat. Unfortunately I just didn’t know him well enough to pull it off, so instead I stared at the board, utterly overwhelmed with the options available to me!

Advancing on a poor McMourning crew...

The other challenge with Jack that’s not immediately obvious is the need to maintain line of sight between models. Jack and his crew have a lot of auras and  pulses to utilise, all of which require clear lines of sight to work properly. And with Guilty on 40mm bases and Monty on a 50mm, maintiaining those lines is harder than one might think! So far I’ve done okay with it, but I certainly feel I could do better so I suppose it’s only something that would get better with experience.

Given my professed love for him it’s probably not surprising that I’ve played Jack Daw more than any other Master this year. He’s a solid Master with a lot of great tricks up his sleeve. His learning curve is steeper than it might initially look, but he’s well worth the effort.

Yes, he's flying around on his Tetsubo. ;)

Misaki (Outcasts)

There is nothing unusual or special about Misaki. At her core, she’s a mobile melee master with a nasty melee Trigger (Assassinate), a solid block of stats and no direct synergy with the rest of her crew. Much like Lilith, in practice Misaki is quite fragile, so while she can dish out some great damage, she has a hard time staying alive if the enemy can converge on her. By comparison her closest competition (the Viks) are both more fragile, more damaging and have a lot more complexity with their synergies and tricks. So why is it, then, that I enjoy using Misaki so much???

I think for me, what it comes down to is that Misaki is a challenge. You need the Soulstones and Crows to trigger Assassinate, you need to strip cards from your opponents hand so the Assassinate trigger will work, and perhaps most importantly, you need to ensure Misaki won’t get killed in the retaliation after she takes out whatever she charges. She needs a certain set of conditions to excel, and anything less will render her either dead, a waste of resources, or both.

My typical Misaki crew, used to great effect vs the Viks during my stay in New York...

The setup I settled on with Misaki was to give her Oathkeeper, Scout the Field and either Stalking Bisento (for killing models without the assassinate trigger) or Disguise (to help keep her alive), along with a 4-5 Soulstones. With the ability to discard Scout the Field and charge from outside line of sight, I was able to keep Misaki safe while projecting a considerable threat range around her to keep my opponent on their toes. When I did charge in, I’d usually burn through my soulstones to get the crow needed for Assassinate, taking out the model (assuming no cards on hand) and if needed, using the extra AP from Oathkeeper to retreat out of danger. It meant she’d burn out of upgrades and soulstones quickly, but if I could kill enough high value targets with her it was worth the effort.

The Assassinate trigger isn’t the only way she can play, although I do feel like it’s her greatest strength if you can get it to work. But at least with the Stalking Bisento upgrade she has a Plan B of sorts, being able to put out a lot of damage on a single model. Nevertheless, she still needs to play the hit & run game. In fact that fragility forces you to play smart, and it’s one of the things I’ve quite enjoyed about her.

My recently painted Shang proxy (on the left ;) ). Really disliked the standard model so I grabbed this guy from the Bushido range. 

I’ve also developed a fondness for her Last Blossom models – as it turns out the Torakage and Yamaziko are both excellent models, with the former being perfect for flanking duties and the latter just being great. Ototo has gotten a bad rep and if I’m being honest, there are usually better choices out there for the Outcasts. But he’s a cool model, so he's nevertheless found his way into my lists. ;) Shang...I'll admit I've never tried. I initially thought he wasn't that great but having played Misaki a few times, I'm starting to see how card hungry she is. She really loves those crows and so the Ruch of Magic from Shang is potentially quite useful to her. In any case I now have an actual painted Shang model to use, So the next game I have with her will undoubtedly involve him!

After Jack Daw, Misaki has become my second favourite Outcast Master. As far as face-beating goes I prefer her to the Viks, if only because the Viks feel less "Hit and Run" and more "Tactical Nuke", preferring to destroy everything in reach and hoping the consequences will be worth while. While it's undoubtedly effective, the more evasive Misaki just feels like she's more my style. 

Sadly I've no pic of my full Hamelin crew, so here's just Mr Uglyface himself.


Hamelin was the last Outcast Master I played, and it took me a few tries to get the hang of him. To be honest I had certain preconceived notions on how he works, due in no small part to his previous incarnation in Malifaux v1.5. The truth is that while his fundamentals are similar, he plays quite differently to how he used to. He still summons rats and applies Blighted to other models of course, but he’s now much more of a support Master than an outright denial machine.

In playing against him (once again vs Chris/Kadeton) I found that Hamelin’s crew was superb a scheme denial. Malifaux Rats could engage models to prevent scheme marker placement, Rat Kings could remove scheme markers, the Rat Catchers had the amazing Don’t Mind Me ability and just about everyone in Hamelin’s in-theme crew had some way of preventing your opponent from easily achieving Distract or Cursed Object. If nothing else, it tends to limit the selection of likely schemes for a Hamelin opponent which is either very annoying or really great, depending on what side you're on!

"Distract" you said? Sorry, that's just not happening...

When playing him myself, it quickly became obvious that he has a serious lack of killing power. Blighted can prove fatal to enemy models over time but it takes time to put enough Blighted on the enemy, so it’s a late game ploy. So if you need to kill models early then you need to bring in some out-of-theme elements. Fortunately there’s not shortage of heavy hitters. As a Lost model Kade is pretty effective, but I also got some great use out of shooters like a Convict Gunslinger. As it turns out, Hamelin himself divides his time between summoining Rats and supporting his crew with spells like Obey, something that those high damage models really appreciate!

Random fact of the day - much like Mr Daw, my Hamelin crew started life as a gift from Ramses via the 2013 Malifaux Gift Exchange. Thanks Ramses! 

Speaking of Rat summoning, I know people have expressed frustration at the tedium of summoning an endless cycle of Rats, Rat Kings and Rat Catchers, but I actually quite enjoyed it. The sheer number of activations is a great advantage in-game but the Rats themselves have little to do, so with some practice the numerous rat activations go pretty smoothly. Mind you, I’ve only played 2-3 games with Hamelin so perhaps with time, the repetition will get to me. For now though, it’s a thumbs up for Rats! :)

In the end, Hamelin has taken third place on my list of preferred Outcast Masters. Jack and Misaki remain my favorites, but Hamelin himself has proven to be really enjoyable in the games I’ve played with him. Perhaps his biggest problem is that I don’t like the standard Hamelin model with his oversized head. Even adding a top hat hasn’t improved things, so if I ever come back to him on a more regular basis I’ll probably replace the model!

Wretch plus Rats. One of my all time favorite combos. :)

Friday, 26 December 2014

Those Left Behind - Molly, Leveticus, Von Schill

While the Rainbow Challenge is finished for 2014, there were still half a dozen Masters I had played but not written about. It felt a little unfair to ignore those Masters when all the others got a full article devoted to my experience with them, so I thought I’d at least play a bit of catch up and write about them here! Obviously I’m not going to go into the same detail as I did with the others, but I thought you’d at least like to know what I thought of the final 6 Masters I played in 2014!

NOTE: Because this wound up being a 3000 word post I decided to divide it into two articles. The first will be devoted to Molly, Leveticus and Von Schill while the second will address Jack Daw, Outcast Misaki and Hamelin. Part two should be available in the next day or two!

My Molly starter was originally a gift from my old Brisbane group when I moved to Perth - thanks guys!


First things first – I quite like the choice of crew types Molly has between her two limited upgrades – Forgotten Life and Forgotten Path. It makes me feel as though she’s got a lot of replayability as to the type of crew she can take. The reality might not be so great – they’re practically the same aside from one keyword (Spirits of Horrors), so how drastically her playstyle changes will probably depend on how different the spirit/horror models are from each other.

The game I played with Molly wound up being a three-way against a Ramos and Collodi crew. With Turf-war style mission I went for Molly with Yin, the Necrotic Machine, Bete Noire, a Rotten Belle and a Necropunk. That last minion was purely taken to achieve Deliver a Message, and it didn’t disappoint - Reactivating him with Imbue Vigor gave me an easy 2VP on turn 1. With my crew moving quickly up to a commanding position on the Turf War marker it didn’t take long for it to become a 2v1 match, with Molly attempting to hold off both crews over the course of the game. I eventually lost Molly herself but with the models she summoned and the VPs gathered, I still tied for the win at 5VP.

With both crews making use of hordes of cheap minions this seemed like the ideal situation for Molly’s unusual summoning style, and that certainly proved to be the case. The Punk Zombies summoned from The Ones Left Behind utterly devastated Collodi’s puppet swarm and while the Steam Arachnids were immune to the spells pulse damage, it was nevertheless effective in keeping Ramos at bay too.

 The summoned punk zombies take their toll on the Collodi and Ramos crews...

The Necrotic Machine didn’t do a lot in this game, although for a 2SS totem I wasn’t expecting much anyway! Even with Insignificant, as a minion it was able to help me hold my Turf War marker for a few turns, plus it got in the way of a flanking Joss (who was otherwise out to get Molly). Near the start of the game its (0) Brethren action was great of course. It required a crow to work (or a corpse, not that there’d be one around on turn 1), but the 4” push really helped get my crew up the field and into a commanding position to dominate the Turf War Marker.

One thing that became clear throughout the game was aside from the Necrotic Machine, Molly really didn’t have a use for her corpse counters. This almost seems a pity, since she can generate them very easily (Summoning a model away from the enemy will essentially create a corpse counter for her). For that reason I feel like it’s worth including some option for using all those corpses. Molly already has a lot of great (0) actions so Maniacal Laugh probably out, but Corpse Bloat and Spare Parts both have potential, especially since Molly’s likely to have plenty of corpses clumped together or around enemy models. Other corpse-utilising models might work too, although Molly’s likely to hog all the good crows in your hand.

While I’d acknowledge that this game went pretty well for Molly, I’m still undecided as to whether I really like Molly’s playstyle. She’s a summoner of course – something I’ve already said I’m not keen on. Her crew support and debuff attacks are great though, so I sort of feel like the jury is still out on Molly.

You can tell the crew's age by how vivid the pink is!


My game with Leveticus was against local Paul with his new McCabe crew, and it was an unmitigated bloodbath. Levi himself just destroyed one target after another while the Ashes and Dust bulldozed up a flank, killing everything in it’s path before planting the required scheme markers for Breakthrough. After the game, I was left with no doubt that Leveticus is a powerhouse and he’s certainly able to lay the smackdown on just about anything that gets in his reach. However that said, I’m still not sure I like him, and I think my reservations about him all come down to the Hollow Waifs.

The Hollow Waifs have a big influence on how Levi plays. Most obviously their existence is essential to keeping Levi alive, thanks to Eternal Shackles. But if you position them right it also gives him some excellent mobility, letting him unbury himself where his skills are needed the most. Levi can only summon one per turn so long as he sacrifices himself, so while he can always replace the Waif he unburies to at the end of a turn, he can’t replace the ones his opponent kills. From a balance perspective this makes Leveticus very killable, which is a refreshing change compared with how he tended to be in v1.5. Although just like Voldemort, it requires his enemies to go on a bit of a “quest” to kill the Waifs before tackling Levi proper.

The requirement for a 6SS model to bodyguard the Waifs definitely has a large influence on crew design. In one sense it’s not a big issue, since in most games you’ll want a few half-decent models to back Levi up anyway. However it does mean that you can’t hide a waif on a flank somewhere, and that your opponent can prevent Levi unburing next to one by killing or pushing the 6SS model out of range. It’s a weakness that can be mitigated, sure, but it’s a weakness nevertheless, and quite an obvious one at that.

 They might look like ass, but god damn they're nasty. 

I must admit that it’s something that makes me a little uncomfortable using Levi. With enough practice I’m sure I could mitigate the risks that those Waifs present, but I feel like a good enough opponent will have little trouble picking those Waifs off unless I play conservatively with them (which in turn limits Levi’s effectiveness). So overall then, Levi is good. But I don’t think his playstyle is one I enjoy.

Yes most of them are converted. No I can't help myself. ;)

Von Schill

Of all the Outcasts, Von Schill was the one I was least interested in. My Kirai game against local Chris, aka Kadeton (who was using Von Schill) did not improve my opinion of him either – he seemed like a Jack of all Trades, with rules that lacked a sense of purpose or clear strategy for him to adopt.

I ended up playing two games with Von Schill. In the first my fears seemed to be confirmed. Von Schill and his crew sort of flailed about uselessly, able to neutralise my opponents offensive abilities but otherwise ill-equipped to do much more than that. In my second game I veered away slightly from Von Schill’s in-theme crew and added some hard hitting elements like Bishop and Johan. Against Hoffman, the flexibility of Bishop in particular complemented Von Schill’s crew perfectly, especially with his push effect able to line up targets for Von Schill to finish off. Perhaps all the anti-construct, armour ignoring tricks made facing Hoffman somewhat easier than it should have been, but it still felt as though the additional hitting power gave Von Schill what he needed to work well. The Man himself even managed to look useful, Finish the Cur worked supremely well with a high-damage model around and Augmented jump kept him mobile, able to both chase down key targets and keeep himself out of danger.

The crew I used vs Hoffman - Gooo Bishop!

In the end, it seems to me that while Von Schill remains a Jack of Trades, he is first and foremost a crew Support Master, who works best while close to the bulk of his crew. Push effects like Bishops also help a lot, since it gives him a better chance to use his more damaging attack, the clockwork seeker, against enemy models.

As for the crews paint job, I’m kind of okay with it. I’m really happy with Von Schill (whom I converted with a top hat and massive-ass gun), Lazarus and more recently, Hannah, but the rest feel a little plain. The paint job itself is alright, although I think they’d benefit with a little more battle damage like I’ve done with my two “robot” Freikorps. 

My recently finished (and somewhat evil) Hannah. :)

Sunday, 21 December 2014

End of the Rainbow

This is a long-overdue post. Not only because it’s been months since my last blog post but also because it’s time to own up and admit that I failed. Oh, the shame!

In short, at the beginning of this year I committed myself to the Rainbow Challenge – basically have a painted version of every crew (proxied or otherwise) and play at least one game with each. Despite managing a great start, the task eventually proved too much and with “just” 31/39 crews completed, I failed in my attempt.

If I can pick a month in which it all fell apart, it’d definitely be August. At the beginning of August I had 10 crews left to paint over 5 months, or two per month. At that stage it was a still in with a chance, but two things happened that ended that – Gencon, and Outcasts.

Next time, I'm bringing a better camera.

Long Flights and Limited Baggage

Gencon was absolutely the highlight of the year for me. Living in Australia makes any trip to the US stupidly expensive, and with a growing family to take care of this was likely to be my last opportunity to go for a long time to come. Of course flying meant I could only take so much with me (both there and home…gotta leave room for the stuff I bought!), so I had to limit how much of my model collection I took for gaming and sadly, leave the paints at home.

So while I did manage to squeeze out a Misaki crew before I left, the two weeks I was gone prevented me getting a second crew finished. So with 9 crews and 4 months to paint them, my goal for the Rainbow challenge rapidly started retreating from my reach. I only managed one crew after that (Hamelin).

One of the advantages of taking a Faction to Gencon - everything got properly based. :P

The Faction with Everything

As above, I could only take a few crews to Gencon so I decided to pack my Malifaux bag with the models for just one Faction. Actually deciding on a Faction to take was quite a challenge. I didn’t want to take my older (ie. less pretty) crews and I wanted a Faction I had most of what I’d want to use. That meant either painting what I didn’t have (or like) or picking a Faction I already had most of. I also wanted to avoid what I thought might be the more popular factions (eg. Guild) and if possible, avoid bringing models I’d hate to lose (so no Nightmare Dreamer with Nightmare Teddies and Puppet Teddy Alps!). And most importantly, I had to make sure at least some of my crews were pink. Because you know, I have a reputation to uphold! ;)

In the end I went with Outcasts. Aside from a few extra models to paint I had most of what I wanted to bring and I could fit it all into my Malifaux bag. The only exceptions were Leviticus (damn his massive crew selection!) and Hamelin (I had his glorious Rats, but Hamelin and his Stolen were still unpainted). The only problem was that Tara was my only overtly pink Outcasts crew, so I remedied that by painting Misaki’s crew as pink as I could get it! :)


Anyway, fast forward two weeks and by the time I’d returned from Gencon, I’d well and truly fallen in love with the Outcasts. The sheer variety of models available offered so much in the way of potential synergies and combos, my favourite being the now infamous Obedient Wretch and Rats combo – something I enjoyed so much that I wrote a whole blog post about it. Jack Daw and Misaki became my favorites. The former was superb at disruption and movement tricks while I came to really enjoy Misaki’s role as a fragile, highly mobile assassin.

So in the end I decided to just stick with playing Outcasts for the rest of the year, formally ending any chance I had of completing the Rainbow Challenge.

How could anyone resist the allure of these cheeky fellows?

So how far did you get?

Good question! As it turns out, I managed to paint 12 crews this year;
Yan Lo
Von Schill

…bringing my total number of painted crews to 31/39. The remaining 8 were;
Mah Tucket

You’ll notice that only Hoffman and Nicodem (possibly Wong) have models available for them – the rest I would have had to proxy. I’ll admit that I did have proxies in mind for each of them. There were some night goblins in a bag ready for Brewmaster (and Wong’s Lightning Bugs), Ironsides was getting built from the Through the Breach models and I even bought a pile of Bushido at Gencon for Shenlong’s crew. Mah Tucket was really the only one I was having trouble with.

As for crews played, I managed to play at least one game with all the crews I painted except for one – Colette. For reasons I can’t explain I just couldn’t get excited about using her. So whenever I had a chance to pull her out of the case, I inevitably just reached for an Outcasts crew instead.

Oh Jack Daw. How could I NOT put you on the table, you utter bastard...

What now?

I’m actually going to leave my plans for next year to another blog post (Coming Soon! Hopefully!). But as far as the Rainbow Challenge is concerned, it’s not entirely dead just yet. I would still like to paint every crew and have at least one game with each, and if I’m lucky I might even manage that before then end of 2015. If nothing else I want to do this not just because I can then say I’ve got “everything”, but because I think knowing the basics of how each crew works is going to make me a better player overall. Not just for winning games, but also for helping newer players, providing advice to people trying to pick their next crew and generally just being knowlegable and helpful. But instead of making it my primary goal, I’m just going to keep working on it in the background. It should prove far less stressful that way!

It still might happen!

Until next time,


Friday, 12 September 2014

Wretched Rats!

For this blog post I thought I’d take a "quick" break from my usual Rainbow Challenge posts (yeah, it's been a while since my last update) and bring up something I’ve been playing around with lately. This could have probably been a thread on the Wyrd forum but then again, how else am I going to get people to read my blog? ;)
So lately I’ve been burning through the Outcast faction, trying their various Masters for my Rainbow Challenge and getting an idea of how they work. They were also the faction I decided to take to Gencon, so I suppose it was inevitable that I start looking at the Faction as a whole and whether there were any combos I could use to deal with perceived weaknesses. As it turns out there’s one set of models I’ve developed a particular fondness for. So without further ado, let’s just get straight into the details;

Obedient Wretch (4)
3x Malifaux Rats (3x2) = 10SS Total

It may not seem like much, but this little team offers some incredible utility for a paltry 10SS. If you know anything about these models you’ll quickly realise their greatest advantage – activation control. Here’s how their first turn activations would typically go;

1-3. Malifaux Rats move up, remaining within shooting range (6”) of the Obedient Wretch

4. Obedient Wretch activates and attacks the Rats twice with Tossed Rat, triggering Stink of Death with a flipped/cheated crow. 

5. First summoned Rat activates (ideally outside 3” of 3 other rats) and does whatever.

6. Second summoned Rat activates and being within 3” of 3 other rats, is sacrificed to create a Rat King.

7. Rat King activates, then uses Rat Problem to sacrifice itself and summon a Rat Catcher and Malifaux Rat

8. Rat Catcher activates and casts Moldy Cheese on the Malifaux Rat, giving it Reactivate

9-10. Final Malifaux Rat activates twice, probably doing nothing of importance.

That’s 10 activations for 10SS, but even if you only summon one Rat with the Obedient Wretch and/or don’t summon the Rat Catcher, that’s more than enough to out-activate most other crews in the game. The above requires your opponent to leave those models alone for the turn (likely, if you deploy them well enough) and requires two crows (for Stink of Death) and a 4+ of any suit (Moldy Cheese). The worst that can happen is if you flip severe damage for the Obedient Wretch’s Tossed Rat (killing it) or as usual, if you flip a Black Joker for anything. Mind you, the only flips you're making are for Tossed Rat and Moldy Cheese, so the chances of flipping that Black Joker aren't high. 

I’ve found that the activation control this crew offers is a great boon for both Misaki and the Viktorias, both of whom value activating later in the turn to avoid too many models counter-attacking them after they’ve killed something. Tara might not care so much (she'll still want to activate first most times) and I don’t care enough about Von Schill to make a judgement call for him. :P As for Hamelin, well he’s going to have these models in his crew anyway. ;) Leveticus might not need the activation control but with his need for 6SS models and the fragility of Hollow Waifs, he might appreciate the ability to activate some chaff regardless. Having said that, activation control isn’t all that this combo offers. Lets look at the models in more detail, shall we?

Misaki, as it turns out, really loves her some Rats... 

Obedient Wretch

Even after throwing the initial few Rats to get the combo running, the Wretch is still a nice cheap minion to chew up an activation and plant scheme markers as needed. If worst comes to worst she could always sacrifice herself with Inevitable Fate to summon two more Rats (and by extension, hopefully another Rat King), but her real ace in the hole (apart from summoning Rats) is her Bleeding Disease attack. Every model in this Rat-combo can add Blighted to enemy models, either with their basic attack or in the case of the Wretch, through her Diseased Aura. As the Blighted Condition adds up, the Bleeding disease attack starts dealing some obscene damage, giving the Wretch some great potential as a way to finish off particularly tough enemy models.

Malifaux Rat

Useless, right? Wrong! I often feel like people underestimate the value of Peons. They may not be able to interact or count for scoring most strategies or schemes, but they can still prevent engaged models from charging/interacting, can’t be interacted with (for Cursed Object/Distract) and will in fact prevent certain schemes of your opponents (eg. Protect Territory).

Rat King

It may not be a killing machine, but it still packs a respectable punch and has some nice tricks in the form of Bore (to give models in base contact slow) and Drawn to Contagion (for (1) action Charges vs Blighted models). But the main reason I’ve been loving this model can be summed up in one word: Gnaw. Games can be won or lost on Scheme markers, so being able to just remove them from under your opponents nose with this (0) action from a Rat King is fantastic.

Rat Catcher

The Rat Catcher is sort of a mix of the between Rat King and Obedient Wretch. His average melee abilities are supplemented with some great automatic triggers, including granting slow, extra damage to Blighted models and summoning a Malifaux Rat. Covered in Rats gives him some good resilience in the form of Armor +1 when his Rats are nearby but similar to the Rat King, I like the Rat Catcher for its Don’t Mind Me ability to place scheme markers whilst engaged.

So not only does this 10SS combo give you excellent activation control when you need it, but it also lets you summon models that help deal with another common weakness with Outcasts – scheme marker manipulation. Even without scheme markers to mess with they’re still useful for Turf War and Reconnoiter (it’s basically 2 non-peons, maybe more, for 10SS). Reckoning is definitely their weakest strategy but even then they can prove useful, since you could just avoid exposing the Rats to your opponent and the Rat King with Bleeding Disease is from the Wretch could definitely claim a few heads of their own.

I hope this has convinced you all of the value of these models to the Outcasts. What started for me as some niche models to deal with a specific problem has fast become the first models I take in most of my Outcast crews, and I can only assume they’ll wind up being a common addition to other players crews as well. ;)