Thursday, 15 May 2014

Catchup Week – Collodi

My aim with the Rainbow Challenge this year has been threefold – Play all the masters (going well), Paint lots of crews (falling behind, but not a disaster yet) and keep up to date with this blog. That last part has been….um, a bit of a challenge, made all the worse by my insistence that I write 2000+ words every time I post something up!

At this stage I’ve played no less than 6 Masters for which I haven’t yet written anything for my Blog! This simply won’t do, so to recitfy this I thought I’d make this a bit of a Catchup week. So for the next 6 days I’m going to post up one article each day for each Master I still need to write about – Lucius, Pandora, Collodi, Lynch, Rasputina and Kaeris! In order to make this feasible I’m restricting myself to no more than one hour of writing per article. Well, hopefully not much more than an hour at least. :P

Today, it’s all about Collodi!

The Master

Ah Collodi. What can I say about Collodi? Back before M2E Collodi was a Henchman, and a fairly broken one at that too – her mobility and model count meant she was just a little too good at a whole bunch of the strategies and schemes. From memory, I believe I took her to a tournament, played a few games with her and put her straight back into my case, never to be seen again. I’m not a fan of using overpowered models and with her crazy model count and multiple push effects, Collodi was complicated Henchman to use too.

Anyway, fast forward to M2E and it looks like it’s finally time for me to give Collodi another try. I did give her a game or two in the beta but I didn’t find her to be very fun. That, and against beta Molly they all just got mauled  by her “everyone takes a Wound” summoning trick. I sort of moved onto playtesting other Masters after that, but I have heard good things about Collodi – Mike Marshall (of Malifools fame) has certainly found him to be pretty strong.

For this game, I was up against Mary with her Seamus crew.

The rest of the crew is below but hey look! A Stitched Together!

The Paint Job

There’s not too much to say about the paint job I did with Collodi. His base set was done back when all my Neverborn had the same “enchanted forest” type basing, but after I’d improved my technique for painting Pink. A lot of people apparently dislike Collodi’s pose but I actually enjoyed it. It might be because I mixed the top and bottom hand around (or maybe everyone else did? But in any case, the model works for me! The Stitched were my favourite models to paint though – lots of blood and guts, plus I went to the effort of painting little hearts on them, as if they were once some kid’s pyjamas. ;)

I initially wanted to wait until I had some Corphee before giving Collodi a run but actually, once I’d thrown in the Widow Weaver and proxied some Effigies from my Puppet Wars collection it turns out I could still make a half decent crew without them. The one model that’s missing is Vasillia. I actually have a proxy for her undercoated, but I didn’t get the time to actually paint her so she stayed at home.

The Game

45SS, Standard Deployment
Strategy: Reconnoiter
- Line in the Sand
- Bodyguard
- Breakthrough
- Entourage
- Plant Evidence

For some inexplicable reason I missed the Widow Weaver  in this pic, who's base you can JUST see on the right...

The List

- Fated
- Threads of Fate
- Breathe Life
Widow Weaver
- Handbag
4x Marionettes
Stitched Together
Brutal Effigy
Mysterious Effigy
Shadow Effigy

So basically Collodi, a pile of Puppets and the Widow Weaver with the ability to make more Puppets. Seems logical enough Reconnoiter Strategy, right? I initially thought about taking Wicked Dolls, but eventually I decided that the Effigies would be better and I could probably summon Wickeds from the inevitable scrap counters anyway!

For Collodi’s upgrades I decided that buffing the puppet horde seemed like a better idea than buffing Collodi himself, so Fated was chosen over Bag of Props. After that I went with Breathe Life for the healing and push shenanigans, and Threads of Fate for a bit more puppet resilience and the anti-push shenanigans (which seems pretty important when so much of Collodi’s playstyle seems to revolve around staying near his Puppets).

 The puppet horde advances on the alley way, as Collodi throws out conditions like it's candy

The Result

With Collodi being so focused on having Puppets around him I decided not to focus too much on achieving Reconnoiter. Thus Collodi and the Puppet-ball mostly moved up and got into a brawl with Seamus and some of his undead minions. Being Paralysed (thanks to the Widow Weaver) slowed him down for a turn, but ultimately a Teddy, summoned frm the corpses and scrap of belles and dolls, proved his undoing. He didn’t die by the end of the game, but another activation would have finished the job. On the rest of the table, a Brutal Effigy (supported by a Marionette for its push action) and  Stitched Together were put on scheme marker duties, with the Stitched dispatching a Rotten Belle and Canine Remains, and the two of them both placing friendly and removing enemy scheme markers to achieve plant evidence and Line in the Sand. The Mysterious Effigy and another Marionette planted a literal pile of scheme markers on the other flank and together with some scheme marker removal on both sides, Collodi edged out the win against Seamus.

The Widow weaver is faced with a tough choice - Paralyze Seamus or summon Teddy? 

Post-game Thoughts

Collodi definitely has the potential to be a brutal Master when he wants to be. Pull the Strings in particular is just amazing. If it just gave out slow it’d be good, but the damage and the other “take a (1) action” triggers are just nuts.  If anything it kind of felt as though it superceded his My Will Action – why get another puppet to attack when Collodi will usually do it better? But now that I think about it, My Will is any (1) action, so it could have potential for some out of activation interacts in particular.
Collodi’s base resilience isn’t great, but his Decoy ability plus the Run away home trigger for an easy push out of danger keeps him relatively safe. And that’s ignoring the fact that he’ll probably have any number of other protective conditions on him, either from the Effigies or through his own actions.

One of the things that really struck me about Collodi is that he LOVES his conditions. Being able to pass on Conditions to all nearby Puppets with the Fated upgrade really encouraged that, and most turns I was making sure I had either Armour or Defensive, as well as an Effigy condition on Collodi (and thus on his Puppets). In fact, I feel like I had too many conditions available, and not enough ways to use them. As above, Fated can only pass on one Effigy condition and one “self” condition, and there’s only so much benefit a back line-style Master like Collodi can get from piling on anything extra. In retrospect I probably would have done fine with just one Effigy, rather than three, with the extra SS being spent on something with more hitting power.

Between Pull the strings and this focus on conditions, I never got much of a chance to actually summon any puppets. He just seemed to have better things to do with his AP (ie. Pull the Strings or Defensive Stance, for instance) and in any case, I was sort of hoping I’d have enough scrap markers around to eventually summon a Teddy. More on that below. ;)

...Teddy it is then. :)

This is starting to get longer than I hoped so I’ll just say one thing about the Marionettes – I actually found it handy to have one supporting any Puppets away from Collodi with his Push effect from Dragging along. It helped get the Brutal Effigy out of melee with a Punk Zombie, who then went on to plant some scheme markers for me so all in all, having that Marionette around was actually worth it!

The Widow Weaver was amazing. Just. Amazing. The Web counters proved to be an excellent area denial tool, and any poor shmuck who got close enough (Seamus, for example) was paralysed thanks to Seize Prey! It will only work once or twice in a game at most, but the threat of it should be enough to keep your opponents models away. Actually I’d seriously consider ranking the Widow Weaver second (after the Nurse) on the list of reasons why you should have condition removal in your crew! Failing that, I can definitely see the Widow Weaver being a prime target on your opponent’s “to kill” list, and with some very average defensive stats she’s definitely squishy.

When I took the Weaver’s Handbag I was secretly hoping I’d get a chance to summon Teddy, so I was quite pleased to see that happen! In reality it was a cool trick, and while two turns of Teddy helped me take Seamus out of the equation, VP-wise, I’m not sure it was enough to make the Handbag an auto-include. The summoning is great, sure, but to me the main reason you take the Widow Weaver is for the Web Markers. The Handbag gives her something else to do, but the higher SS investment means it’s probably not always the best thing to take.

The Shadow Effigy guards its precious pile of scheme markers from the ugliest Madame in Malifaux. 

Playing with multiple Effigies in one game certainly gave me a good impression of how they work and perhaps more importantly, their strengths and weaknesses. On the plus side, they’re tough and they are fantastic for buffing their Leader in some way. On the other hand, their hitting power is just terrible, which really relegates them to a support role and by extension, probably made taking three a bit overkill. Of the Puppets I took, the Shadow Effigy was really the standout. Blend into Shadow helped blunt any attacks coming my way and Remember the Mission was phenomenal for putting out scheme markers. In fact three of my Line in the Sand Markers were safely (sort of) piled onto a single flank thanks to this little guy. The other two, the Brutal and the Mysterious, were somewhat lacklustre. I had to use the brutal to help plant scheme markers away from my main force, so his talents were somewhat wasted aside from the potential with Finish the Job. The Mysterious did pretty much nothing all game. The push from Rapid Acceleration never seemed worth giving to Collodi (and friends) compared with the Shadow Effigy’s own (0) action. I also never actually bothered with Disguised Fate – cheating face down just didn’t seem worth the effort when most of the crew consisted of cheap puppets. That said, I can see both puppets being useful in other crews, and in fact I got a lot of use out of the Brutal back when I played Perdita. It’s just that for a Collodi crew, and in this game, the Shadow Effigy outshone the rest.

One thing I noticed was missing from the Collodi crew I took was killing power. For all the conditions I could layer on, I was still just using Marionettes and Effigies to fight off my opponent and honestly, they don’t hit all that hard. Perhaps should have I’d tried harder to get the Marionettes working with Collodi’s buffs? Or if I’d added a Wicked Doll or two to further boost nearby models damage output?

The Stitched together was the sole exception to this – if I had the cards on hand his Gambling abilities allowed him to hit pretty hard. So if I played this again I’d probably consider adding another Stitched, purely for some half-decent killing power that doesn’t rely on the Collodi ball.

Collodi convinces a Punk Zombie that placing scheme markers for Breakthrough is a bad idea.

Final Impression

Okay, so most of the above is pretty positive about Collodi, but when it comes down to it, I still didn’t like how he played. With the buffs he can hand out, Collodi seems to almost demand that you keep his puppets close by. So you end up spending most of your crew allowance on the likes of Marionettes and Effigies to work with Collodi, leaving little room for something that can fulfil its duties away from the main Collodi/Puppet ball. Hell, even the Widow Weaver practically begged to hang out with Collodi thanks to his +1Wk aura with Playthings and his summoning potential from the handbag.

To me, that style of play, where you’re clustering most of your crew together, feels very constricting. I’d much rather have my crew spread out, projecting power all over the board and not be forced to sit in a big clump somewhere. You might argue that by the same logic I shouldn’t like Guild Lucius, but even in that case Lucius’s support tricks can have a hefty range to them, plus the strong shooting allows the crew to project their power all over the board, even if they are a little clumped together.

Anyway, I hope that makes some sense. Maybe my negative impression of Collodi was more a factor of the crew build I went for and if that’s the case, I’d definitely like to know. So as usual, please feel free to comment below. :)

Until next time,


P.S. Yes, this took longer than an hour to write. I'll try harder tomorrow! :)

Hey look! It's the Widow Weaver!

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