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Monday, January 16, 2017

Malifaux: Viktoria Tactica and Strategy

Howdy all!

So, in keeping with the theme of other strategy articles I've decided to post on one of my all-time favorite masters the Viktorias. I also anticipate utilizing this information for a future project I hope to do...

Introduction




The Viktorias are a very hard hitting combination that not many models would be able to survive against if they were charged by them. They can bypass a lot of the average defenses while pushing some of the highest damage from melee in the game. They also sport some of the best mobility in the game - if there's a target they need to get to there isn't a lot that can stand in their way.

On the other side of that coin they are a very vulnerable duo. Their defenses only mitigate so much, and with the equivalent of the average master's wounds split between two models they become susceptible to a quick death. They are also resource intensive, demanding many soulstones to stay alive and cards to make their attacks effective. When one twin uses up resources to gain an advantage the other one may be suffering because of it. They also are very involved with their activation order. Many say that they are the definitive glass cannons of the game. I think of them more like a house of cards - when one gives way it doesn't take long for the game to crumble if not handled correctly.

I'm going to go over the individual nuances of each of the pair, along with some notable synergies, mainstay crew members and general activation strategies.

From this point I'll often refer to them by Ashes or Blood.

Viktoria of Ashes



The lady of the hour that makes it all work, Viktoria of Ashes is what I would consider the support half of the twins. There may be several different play styles involved with her, but every one of them revolve around getting her better half into position to attack.

Front of Card Stats

Ashes sports an average walk and a very high charge range of 8. She has an average defense and a slightly higher WP. She has an abysmally low wound count of 7, making her susceptible to death from one enemy activation. She also sports a ridiculously low stone cache of 1, but more than likely it's because she comes with a free badass henchman.

Blood lines is an incredible ability that plays an important role in how the twins work. It gives Melee Expert to other Sister models in LOS regardless of range. You'll more than likely be using this strictly for Viktoria of Blood, as the other Sister models in the game are lackluster in melee.

Fate's Chosen is a defensive buff that's passive. As long as you have three or less cards in your hand you gain positive twists to all Df/WP duels. This can be a frustrating measure for your opponent, as you don't have to do anything outside of managing your cards to benefit from it. There's a very strong, subtle strategy you'll need to become aware of throughout your games in order to capitalize on this defense. These positives, while never a guarantee, can stretch your resource management out for some extra mileage as theoretically you'll need to use less of your control cards to increase your chances of succeeding in duels. There's still the chance of flipping two aces when you're defending, so never ever think of this as a guarantee you'll live through attacks. The best thing this defense is for is actually as a deterrent for enemy models to spend their resources. By flipping better cards you can increase your duel totals to the point where it's requiring your opponent to cheat higher cards - and sometimes it will be worth it for them to do so. But in doing this you're making the decision harder and you may walk away with duels that they decided to save their resources on. If I only flipped one card that required the opponent to cheat in an 8 or higher they'd more than likely try to make that work, but the positive may bump that up to needing a 10 or higher and people may be more reluctant on releasing a face card they may need for other actions.

Fates Entwined is an ability that doesn't occur too often but can be really good when it's needed. This ability allows all sisters to be healed when Ashes heals. There's only a small amount of Sister models in the game, all of which can't be spammed so you're limited to its use in general. On top of that you're more than likely not putting them all in your list at once, and if you are then perhaps in a later section I'll discuss why I wouldn't (lol). However this can be a game-saver if done at the right time. The biggest issue with this is more than likely if either Viktoria gets hit they're knocking on Heaven's door anyway and a solitary heal probably won't save them.

Back of Card Stats

So, onto attack actions! Ashes sports a melee option and a shooting option. Her Masamune Nihonto is a high melee attack with a range of 2. It sports an awesome damage track starting at weak damage 3 with a built in Mask. For an additional Mask she gets her Whirlwind trigger, which allows the attack to generate additional attacks on every model in range except the target. This trigger is amazing, but I will elaborate more on this in Blood's entry.

She also has a Clockwork Pistol, which sports a good long range and a decent Shoot value, along with an average damage track. It's a good option to keep in mind, but Ashes' AP will be strapped and I can't remember the last time I ever actually shot her gun. I always thought it was interesting how in the fluff her character is defined by the fact that out of the twins she's the one who uses a gun, but they made her gun lackluster.

Her tactical actions run the range of useful to useless...

Her first (0) action The Setting Sun gives her a condition based on being within 2" of another Sister model, and it gives an aura for each Sister increasing their Df by 1. Remember, this requires that another Sister be in range for any Sister to benefit from it so she doesn't just get the bonus if she's on her own. The Viktorias require that the player be conscious of each sisters' positioning in order to benefit from their buffs, and this one exemplifies that. If you plan on being bunched together then make sure to pop this buff because it, along with defensive measures like Fate's Chosen, are what makes them survive when it all works together.

Her other (0) action is East and West, which gives Ashes a condition that lets her get positives to attack flips when not within 6" of another Sister. This is the important one to remember should you lose your Sisters in battle. You can't benefit from The Setting Sun when Ashes is left all on her own, so more than likely this will be your go-to (0).

These two (0) actions create what's been referred to as a "Dead Zone" in terms of her abilities. If a fellow sister is about 4" away from Ashes, then she can not benefit from either ability and is left with no (0) action being useful. Just remember you either want them really far or really close to benefit, but also don't let their positioning dictate what is actually best for them during the game. These benefits are a deal-breaker if they don't have it up, so don't compromise a valuable position just so you can get a bump up in defense.

Lastly her other tactical action is a (2) called Dragon's Bite. I've previously gone over why this isn't a great ability when I briefly went over Outcast Masters, so if you're interested in finding more about this ability visit the link. It needs an 8 to cast and targets an enemy model. All Sisters within 6" of the target get placed in base contact, then get a 1AP Melee action which receives a positive flip on damage. It looks good on paper, but it's highly impractical to get set up and uses the majority of her AP. Avoid this, please... but feel free to experiment with it and tell me if you can prove me wrong (I'd gladly love to hear about making it work consistently). She just has so many better options for her AP that are much more effective at doing the same thing - killing stuff in melee.

Master/Sister-Specific Upgrades

These are where you start to see how Viktoria of Ashes operates, and how although she sports an impressive array of melee abilities you'll more than likely operate in a support capacity.

First there's Sisters in Fury, which gives her a (1) Tactical action that costs 6 to cast. If successful all Sisters (and the model who casted it) gain a condition that adds +2 damage to melee attacks. This is, by far, the must-have upgrade. For 1 AP, regardless of range or LOS, both Viktorias increase their already great melee damage profiles up by almost double. Each Viktoria will have a minimum 5 damage! Absolutely incredible, and all for a moderate card.

Then there's Sisters in Spirit, which for 1AP you can place another Sister within 6" in base contact with this model. This is used for movement shenanigans and getting your sisters in position for an attack.

There's Synchronized Slaying, which grants Accomplice to the model and gives a 1AP action Sisters in Battle, a buff similar to Sisters in Fury that gives positive flips to attack flips. The buff is very nice, and when possible I utilize it, but I mainly use this upgrade for Accomplice as it allows you to chain an important model immediately after you cast your buff spells and use Sisters in Spirit to place Viktoria of Blood.

Howling Wolf Tattoo is an upgrade I've never used. It lets models that are Mercenaries and in LOS use Flurry/Rapid Fire abilities without discarding a card - a useful ability but one that isn't worth the upgrade slot to me. You can also discard the upgrade to make a model within 8" gain the Sister characteristic until the end of the turn - again, doesn't seem worth it and makes the upgrade even more situational.

All of these upgrades can actually go on other Sister models, with Sisters in Fury being the only exception that limits it to either Viktoria. Typically I put the same three upgrades on Ashes regardless of what I'm playing, which is Sisters in Spirit, Sisters in Fury and Synchronized Slaying. This combination allows me to have several options when activating. I can move once, cast Sisters in Fury for the +2 damage, then teleport Blood in base contact using Sisters in Spirit and chain activate her fully loaded! If you don't have to move or teleport you can throw in Sisters in Battle to gain a positive flip, or just attack for a minimum 5 damage before chain activating.

Notable Generic Upgrades

The only upgrade that comes to mind that would be beneficial for the Viktorias' play style would be Survivalist. This allows you to gain Hard to Kill and gives positive flips to healing flips, something that she may do in the game. Hard to Kill will increase her survival, a weak element for her, with a possibility of bouncing back with a heal somewhere. Her main issue with this is that she has no natural way of healing on her own, so for one precious upgrade slot you're more than likely just adding in an additional AP needed to kill her. Granted, that's a decent improvement well worth consideration, I just tend to find I have no space to sacrifice for the upgrade myself. It depends on your play style and how you plan on using Ashes, I just tend to double down on the fact that I am sending the Viktorias to their doom and the only hope I have is killing enemy models before they attack me. There are other ways of protecting them, this option just limits other options while adding an additional layer of protection.

Other upgrades like Oathkeeper carry the usual benefits that have been exhausted before, it's just that it'll run into the same issue as Survivalist being simply there's just no room.

Viktoria of Blood



Awwww man, this chick is my muse! I absolutely love the carnage she brings, I just live for the destruction.

Viktoria of Blood is what players learn to fear, and also what players try to kill first.

Front of Card Stats

Viktoria of Blood is a free Henchman that you only have access to with Viktoria of Ashes. She sports an average walk and the awesome charge range of 8. She has a Df 6 and WP 5 with the same abysmal wound count as her sister.

She also has Fates Entwined like Ashes, meaning when she heals all other Sisters heal as well.

The Uninvited simply means she can only be hired if Ashes is the leader, so no funny business with Leve!

Fate's Pariah is the exact opposite to Ashes' Fate's Chosen, giving her a bonus positive flip to Df/WP when you have four or more cards in hand. This means that only one sister will benefit from positives at any time, so you have to plan your card management accordingly. This also means that at the beginning of the turn you're more than likely giving the benefit to Blood as you will have more cards in hand, and as the game goes on the benefit will transfer to Ashes.

Into the Fray is unique to Blood and gives her a 1/2/3 healing flip the first time she kills a model during her activation. Couple this with Fates Entwined and now Ashes gains a way to heal outside of changing her crew composition. Remember this ability! It can be a life-saver when done right, and it may change your activation order or AP spending as you can reliably kill models with Blood.

Also, off topic, isn't Viktoria of Blood a Doppleganger in the fluff? I wonder why she doesn't have the Mimic characteristic...

Back of Card Stats

Alright, this is where it gets fun...

So she has one attack action, Paired Masamune Nihonto. This attack sports a high melee value of 7 with a built in Mask and a range of 2". The damage track is impressive at 3/4/6 and gains an innate positive flip to the attack flip. Her trigger Whirlwind is the stuff of legend in her hands and requires an additional Mask. As mentioned in her twin's entry it allows her to make additional attacks against all enemy models in her range. With the built in positive this trigger becomes dangerous, with her additional abilities and upgrades this becomes just plain incredible.

Her first tactical action is a (0) called The Falling Star, which just like her sister's ability The Setting Sun, gives her a buff while another sister is within 2". But instead of granting a bonus to defense it grants a bonus to Melee and increases it by 1. Very, very handy when needed as it elevates Blood's melee to 8, a number that damn near guarantees a hit.

Her other (0), The Lonely Path, grants a condition that gives a positive flip to damage while not within 6" of another Sister. This is what I mainly try to use with Blood as it takes her already stellar damage output into the stratosphere. Not only do you have an incredible damage track, but with this up you're getting a positive to both attack and damage. If you hit severe damage (while buffed from Sisters in Fury) you're doing 8 damage in one swing, and a Red Joker would do 11! You're killing something for sure with that.

And lastly her (2) action Flight of the Dragons. It's like Ashes' Dragon's Bite except the opposite - needing an 8, it targets an enemy within 6" and all Sister models within 2" perform a (1) Ml attack that receives a positive to damage then all Sisters can push 6" in any direction. I don't recommend it, especially when those same 2AP could have been used for 2 Whirlwind attacks, that just hit everyone in 2" of her anyway for a minimum of 5 damage twice to three times at least, doing way more damage than other sisters would have done with this ability. Avoid at all costs, just swing away with Blood instead.

Specific Upgrades

Although her only named upgrade is Sisters in Fury she does have an upgrade I dedicate solely to Blood, and that is Mark of Shez'uul. This pricy upgrade is really priceless, as it grants the Tattoo of Shez'uul: damage dealt by the model's Ml attacks ignore armor, Hard to Wound, Incorporeal and Hard to Kill! This... is... bonkers!

So, on top of the stellar damage profile, and the innate positive to her attack, and her (0) to give a positive to damage, and her high Ml number, and her Melee Expert gained from Ashes, and her ability to heal when killing, she gets the ability to ignore almost every relevant defensive measure the average model has... while being able to get free attacks on everyone around her.

This upgrade elevates her to one of the best assassin characters in the game! Put it on her every time. Don't think about it.

Notable Generic Upgrades

So Viktoria of Blood actually has quite a few candidates for her second upgrade slot, and each of them are very viable choices.

Firstly there's Oathkeeper, the great generic upgrade that grants the user Fast on demand. This is notable for Blood as it just gives her an extra AP for another attack to Whirlwind with. Or it gives her the option to walk once before charging in, extending her threat range. Either way it's an option that gives her flexibility in doing what she does best - getting stuck right in with melee. This option is a staple among the community, and I admit to having used it quite often myself.

The other notable option I've used to great success is Tally Sheet, which grants the model the ability to draw a card every time she kills a model. On most models this isn't too great an option, but with Blood it becomes an entirely different beast. Blood tends to swirl in the middle of an enemy crew and kill A LOT of models. Blood also benefits from having more than four cards to get a positive to her Defense and Willpower, so more cards mean keeping that benefit longer while having more options in her hand to cheat with (or at the very least, get crappy cards out of your deck). There's a subtle power in being able to cycle through your deck, and Tally Sheet opens that up. The argument against using it is whether you believe that Oathkeeper's flexibility outweighs Tally Sheet's, but I believe that the latter is better personally especially when you consider other options of gaining fast (discussed in a little bit...).

There's also Scramble, which is pricy but gives Viktoria Unimpeded and increases her Walk/Charge ranges by 1. When I first began using the Viks this upgrade was a staple, as it really increased her threat range significantly and enough so that you can reach out and touch the opponent on turn 1. Through the years though I've discovered that it gets outshined by her other options and isn't always necessary. It is a good option to think of though, especially if you have a board filled with Severe terrain as it can absolutely cripple your ability to effectively trap as many models as possible in her Whirlwind.

Another option that has recently cropped up in Book 4 is The Bigger They Are. This 1ss upgrade incrases her melee damage by 1 when attacking non-masters with upgrades, elevating her possible minimum damage to 6. Very situational, but the chances are you'll be running into models with upgrades often so it's still got a use. I don't find it absolutely necessary, but if you know your matchup ahead of time - say, against Sandeep using his Oxfordian Mages - then it could be very good.

Weaknesses

With all this incredible melee potential there are a few caveats for the twins...

They are very susceptible to being killed before they do anything. Although they can increase their defenses or even gain positives one or two hits coming in can kill them instantly. Blast damage will also ruin their day as it bypasses their defenses and the average damage from blasts will be enough to get their wounds down to around half or so. They can still be shot off the table with ease so protecting them on the way in is a high priority.

Their order of activation is picky, you have to recognize when it's best to activate the Viks or when to hold them back, because once you do you are going all-in. If you have any support models that need to go first then you're leaving the Viks vulnerable for an additional activation, and that could be all it takes to kill one.

They tend to need to activate first in a turn so you need to know what the most effective attack will be. After that both of them are going to be first priorities for the enemy and you'll likely spend all your resources trying to keep them alive.

They are also susceptible to placement effects like that of Lilith's. If they are taken out of range or LOS then a lot of their abilities become negated and they're easier to kill that way.

One notable weakness is conditions, especially Burning and Paralyze. If you Paralyze Blood then their effectiveness goes down to almost nothing, and if you stack enough Burning on them they can die very easily. They don't have natural ways of removing conditions so you'd need to build around that if needed.

Lastly they are very largely dependent on the enemy crew being relatively close together. They will have a hard time hunting down every element of a crew that is widely stretched out. If they are even remotely close together then they won't have as much of a problem, but Blood likes to get right in the middle of a crew to Whirlwind on every one of them - every model that's outside of that range is one that can kill her after she attacks.

Crew Composition

So we've gone over individual abilities for the twins and we know what they're capable of as well as any pitfalls they have. How do you build a crew around that?

Their main goal is to kill stuff in melee. Couple this with the fact that they are very squishy means they need protection from ranged attacks on the way in that won't get in the way. Outside of this parameter they are a largely independent unit. Their only synergy with other models would be involving the Sister characteristic, which not many models have. crew composition will mainly be about filling in any gaps they have.

And what gaps do they have, exactly? Well, to start with, notice how we have not once mentioned anything scheme marker related - this is because they have absolutely nothing that helps with these. So that is one gap that must be filled.

Another gap would be ranged attacks, whether they're Cast actions or Shooting. Ashes comes with a gun, but she will almost never have the AP to pop a shot off if you use her in a support role. There is so much more of a benefit concentrating on buffs than with her base attacks. So ranged roles will be another gap that you may be interested in filling.

Resource management can be a godsend in this crew, so anything that cycles cards, stones, AP, etc. is more than welcome.

Denial is yet another layer they don't excel in, and this includes items that provide slow, or debuffs like negative flips, Horror duels, Manipulative, etc. Although this isn't always an important role to have to include it's something that they do not innately do.

Sustaining is an area they need help with as well. The Viktorias aren't concerned about staying power so much as removal power. If you need models to hold some ground in a particular area then the Viktorias aren't always the best option considering their squishiness.

A big one I have found over my experience is their model count, and this is in the context of strategies like Reconnoiter/Interference. These strategies proved to be a big weakness for the Viks, as they want to go the shortest route toward the enemy which often puts them in that 6" diameter dead zone in the middle. The fact that they're not summoners doesn't help with model count either. In the other vein of this issue is the fact that they will often be out-activated. You may get a model for free with Viktoria of Blood but using Chain activations cancel that out. Hopefully you've killed enough models on turn two where it won't impact your game significantly.

So, with all these things in mind, what type of models do I use to alleviate these issues?

Hannah



Man, I feel annoyed that I always go to this model for any crew I build. She's just such a solid piece that fills so many roles it's hard not to include her.

In the Viktoria crew I feel like she's their sister from another mister. A lot of the gaps that I've mentioned get assistance with her.


  • Protection
    • This is the main reason why I put her in the list when I first started this crew. Her large base provides a place for the Viktorias to hide behind during their initial trek toward the enemy. Placing Ashes directly behind Hannah near base to base closes off a chunk of attack vectors that could hit Ashes with ranged attacks.
    • There's also a little known strategy to protect Blood after she attacks. If you can keep Blood alive through one activation after she goes nuts, and you have Ancient Tomes, then you can use the ability to Bury Blood to protect her from any further attacks. You can use this offensively as well for protection - bury a model that threatens Blood but wasn't in her range, or bury models that you can't handle immediately through defensive triggers like Lilith, and if possible you can walk her giant base over the bury marker so they can't unbury at the end of the turn and have to unbury in their deployment zone (something I've always wanted to do!)
  • Ranged Attacks
    • Her Make a New Entry can be seen as a ranged attack with the proper spell to copy, it also provides an attack vector targeting WP
  • Resource Management
    • She gives you a 7th control card, that alone warrants her use. This directly helps Blood by increasing the size of your hand and therefor your defensive bonus' duration.
  • Denial
    • Her Counterspell Aura and Netherflux Aura provide an additional layer of defense for abilities like Lure and lengthen her life span. Armor denies models' ability to be efficient with their attacks unless they are specialized for it.
  • Sustaining
    • Armor 1 was mentioned, but she can also use stones to damage prevent on the way in. I generally put Hannah out in front as a target then stone when hit to negate their attacks. Armor and damage prevention can make a very frustrated opponent.
This is an incredible amount of utility all coming from one model that's modestly priced.

Granted, not all of Hannah's abilities directly work with the Viks. For instance her ability to copy Cast actions does not get played from the Viks, you'd have to include other elements in your list to copy.

Her main use is her ability to sustain damage and block LOS to the Viktorias. Keep her out in front to attract fire - every shot or attack directed at Hannah, a model who can take it, is one less attack on a Viktoria, a model who can't take it. Walk the Viktorias behind her to make sure they can't get engaged by enemies and limit the amount of shots that get through. Once you're in range of charging a juicy target you just have Ashes walk around Hannah and teleport in Blood, let the bodies hit the floor....


Student of Conflict

So I have been having a back and forth between which totem I prefer for this crew. For the last year I had been using the Malifaux Child, but initially I started with the Student and now I'm back on with her.

The Student of Conflict, although a generic totem, has the Sister characteristic as well as Sisters in Spirit - the placement ability. This alone would be enough of a use to warrant her inclusion, but she is a pricy totem at 4ss. What makes her more worth it?

Her ability to hand out Fast for a (2) action, that's what. Once you are able to give Fast to a model a lot of options that were previously unavailable suddenly become viable.

Her main issues, beside her cost, is activation timing. Since it takes up all her AP to give fast and it's only a 4" range she has some limits on who and when she can cast it. You either have to prepare for it by going to where you anticipate models will need Fast or you cast it on models who've activated to benefit from it later. In the case of the Viktorias she almost never gets to cast Fast on them since they always activate first. This limits her ability to other crew members who may not get nearly as much mileage as Blood would with the extra AP. There's also the fact that it's a dead activation - if you plan on utilizing it early then it's an activation where nothing will happen besides buffing, and that can get models killed.

In the end though I came back around to her because her use is so powerful during the all-important second turn for the Viktorias. She can be teleported by Ashes on turn one to move forward approximately 6". After Blood activates and gets within range the Student gives Fast to Blood for the next turn. This interaction essentially negates the need for Blood herself to have Oathkeeper attached, although it is a little more intensive in terms of planning. The good news is that it can happen every turn if possible so it's like 5 little Oathkeepers!

Outside of that she is useful to get more mobility out of the Viktorias. With her ability to teleport them she can get them out of a pinch if needed. I've once used Ashes and the Student to have Ashes cast Sisters in Fury, charge, chain activate the Student and then had her teleport Ashes back to where she started to score for Turf War.

Whether all of this is worth the 4ss will be up to you though...

Malifaux Child

This is the totem I've used most with the Viktorias. One of the reasons why is that I needed activation control, and for 2ss you get another model. His use is a bit more limited, as his Just Like You ability can only perform Sisters in Battle or Sisters in Fury. Freeing up an AP would be worth it, but just like the Student you run into activation timing issues - in important turns I'd rather just have Ashes spend the AP for the buff so I can activate Blood and kill things early in the turn rather than wait an activation for the Child to do it. There was also the risk of not hitting the card when you flip, due to the -3 to Cast you need to hit a 9. I'd still do it with the built in positive and Focus, but when you miss it you'll have to spend a high card to hit the target number.

Outside of casting Ashes' buff he adds a small amount of healing to the crew. Hannah is able to copy this ability in a pinch, but would need a Ram or spend a stone to get it going. It widens options though, and healing on Hannah or the Viks can extend their mileage significantly, especially when you consider that every Sister heals at the same time.

I also managed to use him as an occasional road block to block charge lanes, but that's not really an ability or anything.

Winged Plague

I've only recent discovered how great this little guy is for Outcasts, and man is he a work horse for me now.

The Winged Plague is one of our more recent additions from Book 3 to the faction and he's an in-theme model for Hamelin. It turns out he's great for any crew and is possibly Outcasts' best scheme runner available in-faction. The reason is because they are highly mobile with Walk 6 and Flight, but they're also pretty survivable with Armor 1 for 4ss. They also get positive flips on attacks if you DON'T have a condition on you, which is often, and they can put Blight on you if necessary (but it isn't if you aren't using Hamelin). The upside to putting Blight on outside of a Hamelin crew is an additional push effect but it's not something you'll likely need most of the time. There is a valid tactic when you are picking a scheme that requires a model to interact to remove a condition outside of melee and you use the push to prevent them from doing so, so don't discount it.

This little guy is great for a Viktoria crew especially due to their lack of scheme marker abilities. This forces you to recruit independent scheme runners dedicated solely to scoring VP for schemes like Claim Jump or Leave Your Mark. They aren't the best scheme runners in the game by far (like Necropunks) but they are capable enough and are the best answer Outcasts have. I usually hire two in a crew and leave it as is for scheme running dedication - two fast model activations for 8ss isn't bad at all.

Previously people used Void Wretches in this spot but I actually don't like them at all, but feel free to try them out in this role instead.

Strongarm Suit

This guy is in here more as a direct synergy with Hannah within the context of the crew more so than the Viktorias themselves. With this beast you add yet another credible melee threat to focus efforts on outside of the already looming threat of the Viktorias. He also ticks off a lot of boxes that Hannah does:

  • Protection
    • He has a 40mm base, another way to block LOS to the Viks
  • Ranged Attacks
    • He has access to a 12" range Sh attack that can actually get up to Sh7 - it also attacks WP
  • Denial
    • He's able to ignore damage reduction rather than just simply armor. This makes him a credible threat against models who reduce damage outside of armor, like the Riders or Sandeep
    • He also has another trigger for positive damage flips, helping with Hard to Wound
    • Freikorps suit denies quite a bit more than people may realize
  • Sustaining
    • Armor 2 can pose a serious problem for models who can't ignore armor
Hannah can also copy his (0) ability to either give herself +1 melee damage or a slight version of Black Blood, making her an even bigger threat than before. Putting his base in contact with Hannah as protection on the way in gives you even more wiggle room by closing off more attack vectors to your twins. There's also the fact that you have to choose your evil with them; either attack the Freikorps element which has high armor and Counterspell and get wrecked by Ashes and Blood, or try to ignore the Freikorps and possibly be able to damage or kill the Viks but get wrecked by two models who can do minimum damage 3 and other shenanigans. Doing this definitely adds some melee presence.


Sue

Sue is just one of those generally great models that I tend to think about including a lot (I have a few of those). In the Viktoria crew he's an important tech piece, one that you can confidently substitute or build around and find a use against any opponent but works especially well against quite a few matchups. His ability to add negative flips to Ca attacks targeting him and models within a short distance can provide a further layer of denial when facing factions like Arcanists. If needed he can swap that out for a short aura that adds a ton of burning onto enemies, which is great when you need to control the center in Turf War. On top of that you also get a very good ranged attack. On top of that you also get a bit of staying power with Hard to Kill and 8 wounds. On top of that you also get a bit of card cycling by hurting yourself to draw a card, which is super powerful when done with Hannah in the crew and eventually also Tally Sheet from Blood. Oh my goodness, on top of that you can also put the upgrade Return Fire on him to make it where if he gets a Crow in a Df/WP duel then he gets to do a ranged attack back - a ranged attack that can be used in melee as well as out of it and has a minimum damage of 3. This guy is serious bang-for-your-buck at 8ss, similar to how Johan is one of the best models for the 6ss tier, and is often hired out of faction because of it.

General Strategies

So this section is for a general outline of how the Viks can typically operate within an activation or so, depending on what you need.

Slingshot/Blood Bomb

So this is a well known combo that has slight variations but does the same thing: shoot Viktoria of Blood far up the board and let her loose. A tooled up Blood can wipe almost anything off the board in a single activation and Ashes is there to do it.

It starts with Viktoria of Ashes casting Sisters in Fury to get the damage buff, then she walks up 5" and casts Sisters in Spirit on Blood to move her around 6" forward from where she started. Ashes then chain activates into Blood, who then uses Fast (gained either from Oathkeeper or previously from the Student) to get three AP. If needed she can walk 5" then charge 8" with a 2" melee range, making a 15" which is pretty darn threatening, especially considering the 6" or so from where she teleported adding up to 21". She can definitely reach out and touch someone.

Blood also uses her (0) to get positives to damage, has the innate positive to attacks and a Ml7. Simply buy the Mask and make sure to hit the target. The Whirlwind trigger depends on damaging, so unless you flip the Black Joker you're probably going to hit and damage everything within 2" of her. When figuring out the best placement for her charge you should keep in mind the biggest threats to Blood and the crew and prioritize that target while trying to catch as many other models in range as possible. It's not uncommon to kill absolutely everything you had range to. It won't even matter if you have negative flips as she can cancel them out, and negatives on damage still result in 5 damage which is most models' severe damage range. Melee expert (while in LOS of Ashes) adds yet another assurance you're going to kill stuff. If you didn't have to walk first then you've got 4 attacks that can all Whirlwind. With 4 attacks you're able to reliably kill masters regardless of stone prevention, at the very least draining resources. If you have Tally Sheet on her you're drawing cards every time you kill something and thus helping kill more things in Whirlwind or defending her from retaliation.

This is the main way to operate the Viks every activation. If both your Viks are alive then you're able to kill something that turn for sure, the difficult part of this is proper target acquisition and positioning.

Protection

I've briefly discussed this before but protecting them on the way in is a key strategy you'll need to learn. If you're walking them out in front like any other model then you're going to be putting yourself in harm's way as a typical model may be enough to kill or seriously wound the twins. Any attack that uses your resources is enough to throw them off balance, as it could be a resource you need to hit models, cast spells, or prevent important damage. You definitely don't want to have to spend a stone for prevention from an attack coming from a lowly minion.

I typically use at least Hannah for this protection, but you can use any similarly large-based model with damage mitigation. In the first turn it's important that Hannah moves up before the Viks to provide screening and scout the way forward. Afterward the Viks, namely Blood, can go directly behind Hannah touching her base. This means that enemy models will have to get very creative to get a bead on Blood. Surely they may be able to get her in engagement, but luckily as long as Ashes is freed up then Blood can be teleported out of harm's way. The main downside to this tactic may be blast damage, but luckily most of those come from Moderate to Severe damage and Hannah can ensure the damage flip is negative to help mitigate that and in the worst case you can use a stone to damage prevent on Blood. The damage that gets through can hopefully later be healed once Blood kills someone.

Sue can also be used to place his aura to help deny Cast attacks, in which case he should be the first activation to get the most mileage out of the defensive measure.

The main idea is putting out viable targets for the opponent to attack rather than trying to attack the Viks themselves. Then when you present these targets that appear juicy you use your resources to prevent as much damage coming through. After the first turn or even two the protections won't matter as much as the Viks should be doing their thing, then your protection elements join the fray.

All of the options presented under "protection" roles also double as reliable damage dealers - from Hannah causing Horror duels in melee and possibly gaining a buff from the Strongarm, to the Strongarm or Sue having minimum 3 damage. So once they're done escorting the Viks it's not like they won't have anything to do.

Activation Timing

This is an important section to go over with most (or maybe all) masters, but doubly so for the twins. Due to their Glass Cannon nature they find it very important to activate before the opponent does in order to ensure their Alpha Strike capabilities.

However during the first turn it's important to do the opposite. You actually want the Viktorias to activate last during the first turn. This helps you get a lay of the land and anticipate where the fight is going to take place and identify clumps of models that are potential Blood Bomb targets.

Another reason you activate them last is to see if there's potential for a first turn Blood Bomb. This is extremely situational as I've learned over my experience with them. It's very tempting with a 21" threat range, and using the bomb in the first turn has secured me several of my fastest victories along with more defeats. It's probably one of the biggest debates I have in my head during a game on whether or not to unleash the bomb early. With the right positioning the opponent may not be able to recover from it if it's successful, but the downside is that Blood is guaranteed to be out on her own with no support from retaliation and you'll be gambling on gaining initiative on turn two or surviving. The upside is that you'll be Alpha Striking hard. Due to being at the end of the turn most models won't be in a position to retaliate on turn one, then you kill a handful and gain an advantage as those models died before doing absolutely anything in the game. If you happen to win the next initiative you're in a great place, although slightly worse in terms of support as Ashes would have to walk twice to possibly be in range to Sisters in Spirit/Chain activate Blood. If you're too far for some reason (like difficult terrain) then you're in a bad place.

The turn one bomb is risky as all get out, and I've lost more than I've won doing that strategy. Be able to recognize whether the cost is worth the benefit, as you'll more than likely lose Blood afterward. It is particularly powerful against opponents who haven't seen it before or aren't aware of it, but it's a trick that only works once - hence why all the strategy I've developed in terms of protection. I suggest before trying it to try to talk yourself out of it, it's generally not a great idea (but fun to do so have at it!)

Outside of that in a typical turn you're probably going to want to win initiative and activate the Ashes first to cast Sisters in Fury. With your remaining two AP you should be thinking about Viktoria of Blood - where does she need to go, does she need an additional positive on attacks from Sisters in Battle, where is she going to end up after chain activating and will it be further than 6" away. If your options for Blood (outside of Sisters in Fury) aren't exactly necessary then you can use Ashes to soften up targets herself using her melee or even ranged attacks.

There will be times where it may not be necessary for them to activate first. If you feel very confident in the Viks surviving an activation they can delay their actions for something else to go first if it's just as or more important. Maybe you need to wait for more models to get stuck in or bunched up, or your most important target isn't quite in range, or you need to reposition  Ashes before she activates using the Student, or the Student wants to hand out Fast, it's fine to delay. The reason why I usually don't is because of their fragility and sometimes you get surprised with an opponent's move you didn't anticipate and that's all it takes for you to lose a Vik or two. Just like the turn one bomb, make sure to weigh your options. Does delaying help you score or provide a move that will help you? Will the Viks survive delaying another activation? If so, do it. Activating first isn't a hard and fast rule, but with experience you'll see it's a good guide to go by.

What to do if one of your Viks is dead

So, something you may not have anticipated happened, or the inevitable death of Blood has occurred, what do you do now?

Well, you're not all helpless fellow gamer! There's still plenty you can do with your leftovers.

First off, if Ashes is by herself, she still has the ability to Chain activate other models. So now she can be a lesser version of Blood while having another close model clean up some enemies.

She can also still be teleported by Student or vice versa, she can still shoot but more importantly can hit quite hard on her own. She'll still want to cast Sisters in Fury every activation that she can, because that increase of 2 damage is worth more than an additional attack at her base damage (2AP of attacks with minimum 5 damage rather than 3 attacks with minimum 3 damage). She still has a (0) for positive flips on attacking that's useful, or her other one that increases her defense.

Blood on her own is still capable but you'll have to keep in mind her limitations. You can use the Student to help protect her by teleporting Blood into a better spot. I've found that I actually do this first then hold out on Blood's activation until later unless she's in danger of dying soon. Blood can have a bit off staying power with her defensive positive flips and good cards from the beginning of the turn or Tally Sheet. But mainly I'd concentrate on getting the most mileage out of her by killing at least a model or two for her remaining activations. Don't forget you'll lose your Melee Expert now that Ashes is gone.

Both are still quite capable on their own, just know that it's only a matter of time before the other one dies if you're still evened up on the table in terms of models your opponent has.

List

So, at the end of this, what do I include in my list for Viktoria?

This is my current iteration:


  • Viktoria of Ashes (6ss Cache)
    • Sisters in Fury
    • Sisters in Spirit
    • Synchronized Slaying
  • Viktoria of Blood
    • Mark of Shez'uul
    • Tally Sheet
  • Student of Conflict
  • Hannah
  • Strongarm Suit
  • Friekorpsmann
  • 2x The Winged Plague
I've gone over the reasons why these models are in the list so this is more of a complete visualization of what I will typically take to the table. An 8 model count isn't bad, along with a healthy cache of 6ss. I wish I could make it a full 7ss cache because Ashes, Blood and Hannah all compete for these on top of using it for initiative flips. Typically Hannah will use a few in the first turn at most, then Blood uses up to 3 for attacking in turn two and the remaining one or two are held on for super important moments so it's definitely stretching.

I also included a Friekorpsmann as a backup scheme runner should the Winged Plagues not be enough, he also provides Reference the Field Guide for Hannah to copy if she needs a suit, perhaps for a Tome to trigger the Horror Duel on her melee attack. I debated whether I should use Big Jake in his place instead to help with strategies like Reconnoiter/Interference as well as his ability to push models around and come back on turn 5, but I don't have his model yet.

The idea of the list is exactly as I've described over the post. The Winged Plagues will run up to position for schemes like Claim Jump, Hannah and the Strongarm form an armored barrier for the Viks to hide behind, then the Sisters (including the Student) either stay behind them or in the rare cases throw out a Vik Bomb early. Turn two if I win initiative there should be an opportunity for me to bomb their crew and take out a lot of models before they do anything, if not I should be relatively safe for one activation for me to Bomb them immediately afterward. If anything attacks Hannah/Strongarm in turn two then I won't care as much, being that they will now have an immediate threat of Blood in their face. More than likely Blood will die and hopefully after taking out more than her share in return, and from that point it's cleanup with the Strongarm, Hannah and Ashes/Student. I should be putting out plenty of threats for them to keep their eye off my scheme runners (including the Freikorpsmann) for me to score VP.

My biggest issue with the list is actually not having the room to give Hannah her upgrade Ancient Tomes. I've recently come around to liking the upgrade to use instead of actually attacking with melee and with the Friekorpsmann she has a way of getting the needed suit outside of using a stone. There's the added benefit of being able to protect Blood with it if needed or forcing a model to unbury in their deployment zone, but I just don't have the points for it. Maybe if I downgraded the Strongarm for Sue I'd use the leftover points for Ancient Tomes, but I'm afraid of spending the stones and never using the attack like I've done in the past. Also the Strongarm has more staying power and synergizes better with Hannah.

Anyway, that's my entirely way too long post on the Viktorias. Let me know what you think, if it opened up any insights, or any items I didn't mention so far!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

2016 Malifaux Data



Hey Folks!

So it took me a while to figure out how to put a spreadsheet into the blog, and this was the best I could come up with.

I was able to put all my notes from recorded games in 2016 into one spreadsheet. It was an interesting process, and although by itself it doesn't make me a better player it's intriguing to discover if there are any correlations or notes I could gather from comparing a year's worth of data.

So over the year I was able to record 54 games - there are only a few that I didn't record notes on because they were demo games or I didn't have my book with me. So here are a few bullet points on what I discovered:


  • 31 games were won (57% win ratio)
    • Of those wins 21 were using Leveticus (68%), 5 were Viktorias (24%)
  • Leveticus was my most used master, totaling 33 games (61%). He has a Win Ratio of 64% (21/33)
  • Viktorias were used for 10 games (20%) and had a Win Ratio of 50%. I'm sure I could do better with them in 2017, considering that most of these games were at the beginning of the year or so and I didn't have them dialed in like I do now
  • Parker Barrows has a Win Ratio of 0% over 4 games! Not enough play time to be useful data, but c'mon - over 4 games I should have learned something, but he's pretty terrible
  • Of the 23 games where I recorded initiative flips there seemed to be no direct correlation between Win/Loss and the amount of times I won or lost initiative flips (either the majority of times or otherwise)
  • Molly and Asami were my most often faced enemy masters, with Rasputina coming in third. This surprised me as it didn't seem like I had faced them most often.
  • I took Convict Labor in 37 games, 22 of which were won (59%) and was my most often picked scheme - not a surprise in terms of most often taken considering it's always available, but more often than not it resulted in a win
    • When I didn't pick Convict Labor my Win Ratio goes down a bit to 53%, but this is kind of skewed as this also includes games not using Gaining Grounds 2016
  • The spread of strategies played was fairly even - 9 games with Collect the Bounty, 8 games with Extraction, Guard the Stash and Interference (as my most often played ones)

It's really interesting to see the overall statistics of how I did throughout the year compared to how I thought I was doing. I knew I used Leveticus most often, but was surprised to find I didn't use Viktorias more than I thought. I was also surprised to find that initiative didn't affect my games nearly as much as I would have guessed. Also, I only played against Lilith once and she's a master I plan my lists around!

Anyway, thought I'd share my notes with you. I highly suggest keeping a notebook with you every time you play. It helps you track your scoring over the game and can be valuable data to look over afterward - especially if you write down the opponent's crew composition to look up later. Writing down your scoring through the game ensures accuracy, so when you have to recall when and what you or your opponent scored it has an accurate recount of the score for both of you. Notating model interactions and when you used soulstones can also help define your play style, important future notes on how models interact between one another, and can tell you what you used your stones most often for.

Start 2017 off right with a notebook for your Malifaux games!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Malifaux Gaining Grounds 2017 - Battle Report (Viks vs. Asami)


Hello 2017!

So as the new year came along it brought with it Malifaux's annual tournament format packet, Gaining Grounds. Our group dissected the new pool of schemes and I got to have my first game yesterday using these new ones. My overall impression is that it has largely remained the same, with some of the new schemes appearing very interesting in terms of scoring.

I played against Travis' Asami crew, now working on all cylinders since he's recently added in the Yasunori.

I've been tinkering around with my Viktorias list and tried some new changes:
  • Viktoria of Ashes (6ss Cache)
    • Sisters in Spirit
    • Sisters in Fury
    • Synchronized Slaying
  • Viktoria of Blood
    • Mark of Shez'uul
    • Tally Sheet
  • Student of Conflict
  • Hannah
  • Strongarm Suit
  • Friekorpsmann
  • Winged Plague x2
I've liked having the Winged Plagues in the list to help with scheme running. I've recently decided to go back to the Student of Conflict, as I noticed the Malifaux Child has not been able to get past the activation order issues he's had and has simply been used as a healing option for Hannah (it's not a good option, by the way). I believed having another Sister to aid the Viktorias in teleporting and being in range for buffs should be more useful, along with the ability to hand out Fast to anyone, makes her less actiavation-order specific.

I also swapped out Aionus for the Strongarm Suit. I recently built this guy and have had him for quite a while, he's a great model for his points. Not only does he have more of a melee presence than Aionus, he sticks around longer with Armor 2 and gives a great option for Hannah in his (0) ability. He's cheaper as well, which is what I mainly swapped him for in order to fit in the Student of Conflict.

I also swapped back in Tally Sheet for Oathkeeper on Blood, as even though I like having Fast on command the ability to draw a ton of cards helps keep her alive longer. There's also the option of having the Student give Blood fast after she's activated so that she has it for the next turn, so it's like you're getting the best of both worlds.

The main issue I have with this list is the lack of upgrades outside of the Viks - I really wish I could fit in just one more Oathkeeper, or even The Bigger They Are, but I really need to have as many soul stones as possible due to so much need for damage prevention across the three soulstone users. In fact I'd feel much more comfortable with a 7ss cache instead, but there isn't anything I can trim for it.

Anyway, onto the scheme pool!

Standard Deployment
Strategy: Headhunter
Schemes: Claim Jump, Frame For Murder, Dig Their Graves, Hidden Trap, A Quick Murder

Schemes taken: Claim Jump, A Quick Murder (Yasunori)

I decided to take A Quick Murder, due to the fact that Viktorias make that scheme rather easy. I also wanted to try the new "Always Available" scheme Claim Jump. I will miss Convict Labor, but I need to see if I can take this new one no matter what crew or pool comes about. It seems a bit harder to maintain scoring as you'll always need models near the center line to continuously drop markers.

Turn 1
Initiative: Me (Given)

So Turn 1 I lost the initiative flip, which Travis gave to me anyway. I prefer not to activate first since I have an 8 model count and potentially less with Viktoria's chain activation. I started off with moving my Winged Plagues into scoring position on the flanks, the Friekorpsmann followed up as a backup but out of harm's way. He moved his models up the board as well. 




I also moved Hannah and the Strongarm right behind the statue in the middle, acting as a shield for my important twins. 



He then summoned an Obsidian Oni right next to Hannah and charged her. I ended up spending two soul stones on damage prevention to keep her at full health as I suspected she was his target for A Quick Murder. I knew that he'd more than likely score full points if he chose it, but decided it was worth the resources to try to delay Hannah's death.


Without LOS to the targets he wanted (Viks) Travis set up his Yasunori in the middle of his crew to prepare for a charge next round.

Both of us knew the game was pretty much going to come down to whoever won initiative next turn. If I won then Blood would wipe out at least 3 models or more, including his pivotal Yasunori - I would attempt to charge her in the right side of him to catch Asami, Graves and the Monk in her Whirlwind. If he won then he'd charge right in at Hannah and use his triggers to kill Ashes and cripple my ability to do insane damage, not to mention getting to use his Yasunori before it dies.


No VP Scored

Turn 2
Initiative: Travis

So of course I lost initiative.

I flipped over a 12 and thought, hey that's pretty darn awesome. Travis then flips over the Red Joker.

Soon after I shed a single tear

So he has the Yasunori charge Hannah and got her down to four wounds. With the stupid triggers he also got Viktoria of Ashes down to one wound (I got a lucky Black Joker for damage on her once). Did I mention he gets to charge for 1AP with Asami? Yeah, that guy gets a ton of attacks.

When I got to go I had Ashes buff for damage, swing to get a hit in on the Yasunori, and teleported Blood into the fray. Blood then chain activated and killed the Yasunori to score 3VP for A Quick Murder.

Viktoria of Ashes eventually succumbed to focus fire. The Strongarm attacked the Obsidian Oni with the help of Hannah and killed it. The Friekorpsmann picked up a Headhunter marker while the Winged Plagues dropped markers for Claim Jump. Asami also picked up a Headhunter marker.

VP Scored: Me (5) Travis (1)

Turn 3
Initiative: Me

Things started to go downhill around this point. Ohoguro killed Hannah to score 3VP on A Quick Murder, who also was next to a scheme marker that was dropped as part of an attack and scored for Dig Their Graves. Picking up a Head marker gave him full points for the turn, while I still managed to score for Headhunter and Claim Jump.


He also had Asami charge in and use Devour Whole to outright kill my Strongarm while he almost at full health due to my lack of cards in hand.



VP Scored: Me (7) Travis (6)

Turn 4
Initiative: Me

So I didn't have much left, although my Winged Plagues were still able to score for Claim Jump I only had the Student, Blood and a Freikorpsmann left to affect any change. I managed to get Blood to kill Ohoguro and a Low River Monk, but it wasn't enough to stem the tide.


Blood managed to live through most of the round but was slightly injured. Then Graves came in and killed her in one attack. I scored for Claim Jump and Headhunter. He scored Dig Their Graves and Headhunter.


VP Scored: Me (9) Travis (8)

Turn 5
Initiative: Travis

The last turn was where we called it, as I had no way of scoring additional VP since I was so far away from any Head markers. Travis continued to get his VP and got Dig Their Graves as well as Headhunter to score a full 10VP.

VP Final Score: Me (9) Travis (10)

After Game Thoughts

So it was a good, close game. One of the Viktorias' weaknesses is the dependence on getting initiative at the right moments, more often than not at Turn 2 where they can do the most damage. I've attempted to alleviate this by creating a more defensive list that tries to protect them by presenting big targets that can take damage well enough, and also having big bases to block off LOS. With this protection they aren't so vulnerable if they don't win initiative. It does a good job of this, but it's still vulnerable to models who have flight, or ignore LOS for attacking, and even placement effects. If anything, though, this game showed that I can still handle not getting the initiative on turn 2 if it comes down to it - I just have to be aware of those select models who work around my protections like Yasunori.

I've decided that I like using the Student of Conflict much more than the Malifaux Child for this crew. I also was hesitant on losing Aionus as his abilities are very fun and helpful in Gaining Grounds' schemes, but he just wasn't doing anything damage-related in relation to his cost. The Strongarm is a much more damage oriented model for a cheaper price, and it bumps Hannah up to respectable melee levels. Armor 2 is a really good deterrent as even minimum 3 damage dealers have a hard time getting through it - coupled with his ability to ignore damage reduction he can be very good at getting rid of pesky models like the Riders. He falls quickly to models who ignore armor, though, and there's plenty of that in the game so I can't rely on him too much. Augmented Jump will actually prove to be a very good ability when the situation arises, because it will allow him to reach models that would normally be safe in the back line. I've thought about using him for Scheme-Runner Hunting, but it will depend on how the game goes on.

Well that's all I have for you today, hope you enjoyed the battle report and good luck gaming in 2017!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Perdita Tactica

So a few buddies of mine have the Perdita crew box and are trying to get into Malifaux. I thought that I'd take a stab at writing an entry revolving around the Guild Master to see what insights may crop up, especially any that may or may not be mentioned in other areas like Pull My Finger or the forums. I'll try to avoid being redundant with those sources, but odds are with the format I generally use on these entries I'll repeat a lot of what they say.



Perdita

The Master Gunslinger!

Perdita is a great master for beginners due to her straightforward style and easily understood abilities. She does one thing extremely well - she packs on damage that is almost unrivaled by other Masters. Guild models tend to deal with most problems the same way, with a Peacebringer, and she's no exception.

What's on the front of the card?

Well her base stats are amaze-balls. Defense and Willpower 7 is insane. She's got 10 wounds so not the highest wound count, with an average walk of 5 and short charge of 6.

Relocate is an incredible mobility trick. It costs a card, and sometimes that may be a high price to pay, but she pushes 8" toward a Family member which gets her much further than an AP to walk. This should be used as often as possible to avoid spending AP on walk actions, as her greatest strength is her damage potential and all actions should be spent trying to maximize her number of attacks.

Companion is very handy. It's a great way to ensure that you kill important targets or maximize the amount of damage you put out there before your opponent can react. The danger of Companion is that your are spending twice the amount of model activations as normal. This can put you in a tough spot if you don't take out enemy models to compensate this - at the end of the turn you can be out of activations while your enemy gets to move around without consequence. Activation control is extremely important in this game, Perdita crews tend to try to gain control by wiping out models but it's a gamble at times. Remember that this is optional, it may occasionally be better to hold off on activating a chain to see what may come next. Generally you'll probably use this often to follow up on what another model softened up earlier, but I always ask myself if Perdita acting next benefits me in regards to scoring VP. If not, hold it back.

Point Blank is one of her most crucial passive abilities. Gaining a Ram to your Sh duels brings her to damage levels that are feared. Although being out of engagement gives you limited protection and options, adding in that suit and taking cover away from your target makes it where you want to engage targets often, at least if you're trying to be aggressive. More on this later!

Quick Draw is a nice ability that deals a good amount of damage as a defensive trigger. However the suit isn't built in, requires that the attacker fails the duel, and the flip receives a negative. Due to this it goes from amazing to simply a nice add-on, as it no longer becomes reliable. If you wind up spending a stone for the suit on the duel and they end up hitting you anyway then the stone is wasted. It is much more reliable to spend that stone on damage prevention for a mild guarantee of damage mitigation. In my head I'm thinking this: "I spend a stone on a chance to deal (more than likely) 2 points to their model, or spend a stone to (more than likely) prevent 1 point from their attack." So although dealing 2 damage to them is better than preventing one, the odds are not in favor of me. Also the stone spent on prevention is after everything has been flipped, so you have all the information you need to see if the stone is worth spending. What if they flip the Black Joker, or fail to hit me, or only do 1 damage? I can save a stone in those situations. But with Quick Draw you're spending the stone before you receive any of that information and could risk wasting it. Better to flip into it, I say, unless you have high cards and can possibly kill the model with those cards. In regards to that, if it's an important model to kill, and you have maybe 2 or more face cards in your hand, and that model is low on wounds, it may very well be worth the stones for the chance to kill him out of your activation and do some morale killing as well! Even better if those face cards are Masks.

Onto the back of the card!

Her attack action Perdita's Peacebringer is the main course for this Master. A very high Sh value of 7 makes this attack very reliable with a long range of 14", and it can be used in melee with a 2" reach (as well as a free Ram added when engaged from Point Blank). She has two triggers not inherently built in. The first needs a Mask and gives the damage flip a positive twist, which is pretty good. The damage track being 2/4/5 makes that trigger become resource intensive though, as you'll want a severe in your hand to capitalize on it. However Critical Strike is where it's at! If you have the right cards and even spend a stone you take your minimum damage into the same region as your innate severe damage! If you're engaged it's even better and hits the same level as your severe without triggers. This is huge and should be concentrated on as it's one of the highest minimum damage in the game. If you are engaged, spend a stone, and have a Ram card in hand, your minimum damage goes to 5. Add in upgrades like Vengeance Bullet and that goes to 7! Your minimum damage has now exceeded most models' severe damage!

This is her bread and butter. This is what you need to concentrate on in her lists and in the game. Spend all her AP and resources and trying to get her shots hitting targets because it's her best ability. This is why you don't want to spend any AP on walking because it's potentially 5 reliable damage on a model, and with her range being close to half of the length of the board it shouldn't be much of an issue.

There are caveats, however. She has no natural way of avoiding randomization flips, so shooting into engagements is a risk. She requires her upgrades to ignore cover, an element that will more than likely be in her way. She can be resource intensive with discards, saved cards for attacks, discarding upgrades, etc. as well as issues with positioning as she will need to be conscious of where family members are at all times in order to fully utilize her attacks. Being engaged or close to the action will make her vulnerable as she has no innate defenses outside of her impressive statline.

Her next attack action is Obey. There's a whole school of thought when it comes to Obey masters and luckily her version tends to make the decision for you in terms of if it's a usable action (hint: it isn't much of one in my opinion). The critical reason for this is that the target number requires a Mask, which isn't baked into the action. For reliability this will require either a stone or the appropriate card of at least a 7 of Mask. This eats into your resources yet again in a crew that eats resources like a buffet. Outside of that you still have the issue of typical Obey masters, in that they are turning Master AP into lesser AP, and this time it's coming from a Master who will probably do better damage than any other crew member. There's little doubt that if you're using Obey to hit someone then it was probably a better choice to just have Perdita hit them herself.

Don't discount the option, however. Using Obey on a crucial model can be the key to winning, say if Francisco over extended himself and needs to reposition to score VP. Keep the option in mind, don't plan your entire game over it.

Now on to Tactical actions!

She has a (0) called Hero's Gamble which can be very useful. The ability to replenish whatever is left of your hand is extremely useful. I generally find myself with lackluster cards toward the end of the turn, and using this (0) to give you a better chance at finding suitable cards can be a game saver. The main issue with this ability is that it's conflicting with her other (0) actions given to her by upgrades, ones that are not so much of a gamble. However, like Obey, it's good to keep the option in mind, especially if your other (0)s aren't really necessary to do what she needs to do for a particular activation. I do find it interesting that the PullMyFinger entry dedicates a healthy amount of space toward the strategy of this ability, even going so far as to let the ability dictate her activation order. I don't see it as necessary for her to activate early to utilize it fully - in fact I see it as the opposite, it's generally doing more consistent good once you have an entirely crappy hand, and the chances of having an entire crap hand are increased with less cards in hand. I mean, when you draw 6 cards and maybe even use a stone to cycle two more the odds are pretty good you're getting a face card. I wouldn't use Hero's Gamble while I have a face card, I'd prefer to use the card first and THEN use the Gamble, that way you're not wasting any good ones. I'd even wait until my mid cards are depleted, experience has taught me that the 6-8 range is still very useful throughout the turn.

Lastly we have Finger on the Trigger, a 1AP ability that puts a condition on Perdita that makes her a counter-attacker. With a very large Aura range she is able to preemptively attack models that declare a charge or projectile attack action. This is extremely useful, as it lets you perform attacks out of activation and possibly become more efficient in damage than using AP. If you use it once and it generates one free attack then you've evened out your AP spending, if it occurs again then you're on a net gain of AP efficiency. If you find that you have an AP remaining that can't be used for attacking then just put this aura up, as long as you don't have something more useful to do. The down side to this ability is that you're relying on your opponent to activate it, and they may very well just walk in and melee to prevent taking damage. They may be prepared for it with models who can mitigate the damage like the Riders do, or Silent Ones. But the up side is that you're dictating what your opponent can and can't do, and that control can be a game winner. It is a very good ability to use on melee oriented crews that are just outside of walking distance but inside charge distance. Granted, if your attack can't outright kill a model I know that I'd go ahead and deal with it, and these types of actions may still have their crew at an advantage at the end of the turn since they went ahead and did their plan anyway, but I can't see it being a terrible downside. Generally I'd still take the AP to attack something and kill it over setting up a defensive ability like this as a bird in hand is worth two in the bush.

So that's everything printed on the card and what I think of them. What next?

Master Specific Upgrades

Perdita has 3 specific upgrades tailor-made for her:


  1. Aura Ancestral
    • This is a situational upgrade, but one that could prove very beneficial in the right matchup. Ignoring any duels associated with targeting seems pretty good, but I'd say that it isn't necessary since she has a very high base WP. Sure, ignoring them could help you be more consistent, however taking up 1/3 of my upgrade slots makes me hesitant to take it at all. The other part of the upgrade increases crew members' WP by 2. Again, of course that isn't bad. Is it worth an upgrade slot? Not likely. You'd really need to anticipate your match up, like if you know you're going against Leve or Pandora. But more than likely you probably won't know and therefor shouldn't plan on something that uncertain. You don't want to bump your WP up to the max then find out you're going against the Viktorias with absolutely no Manipulate models on the board or any Horror Duels. With average WP duels hovering between 12-14 and not fairly often in a typical game it's safe to say Perdita will probably naturally flip the card needed, and you still have low cards like 5s in your hand to help pass that.
  2. Os Veo
    • A pricy one that gives negative flips when targeting her WP and Bulletproof 2. About as situational as the first one. 
  3. Trick Shooting
    • This is the one that you'll see often as it speaks directly to what she plans on doing. It gives her 2 (0) actions, one that ignores cover and one that ignores incorporeal and armor. I'd feel confident in saying that it's an auto-include, as you'll deal with cover in every game and the odds are you'll encounter something with Armor or incorporeal. Cover can be an absolute killer for a shooting-based master, as I have personally experienced with Post-Nerf Leveticus. Being able to utlize a (0) action to negate it is extremely efficient. Since hard cover potentially gives you negatives in both attacking and damaging you'd need to perform a focus (1) action in order to negate it, and that's a whole AP. Using one (0) action is like performing a focus action for every attack, and if you attack three times that is like 3AP. If you don't have this and plan on being consistent with attacking a model in cover you'll have to either spend stones for the attack flip (something I never do) or spend one AP focusing, then the second attacking, and the third is just screwed with a negative flip. This example ends with two attacks, the first being a regular flip and the second being a negative flip. One simple upgrade takes away all of that and you'll never have to worry about Cover for Perdita again. Also of note, if a model is in cover and has armor/incorporeal, it's probably still better to ignore the cover, but it depends on the situation as usual. I'd say at armor 2 or higher it may be better to ignore the armor and just stone for the positive flip or Focus, as 2 damage negated is worth the resources per attack. Most incorporeal models have low wound counts anyway, and if you're running on all cylinders then you'll be doing 4-5 (or possibly 7) minimum damage, which turns into 2-3 (or 4) damage after reduction from incorporeal. That can outright kill low cost models or be significant enough to kill them in the same activation so I may still ignore the cover rather than incorporeal. You should be able to recognize when one is better than the other, but most times ignoring cover is the way to go. If they're out in the open, then the decision was made for you!
Guild Upgrades

So what general upgrades are noteworthy for Perdita? She has access to a lot of different upgrades that aren't Perdita-specific. I'm also including Family-specific upgrades. Although I don't have access to all the cards right now I'll do my best to sum up their relation to Perdita.
  • Badge of Office
    • Damage reduction isn't a bad thing. For two stones, though, it becomes debatable. This upgrade becomes viable for big damage bursts, because it's not worth it if you're only getting hit with 2 damage or so. But it could be a life saver if you're hit by something doing severe damage. Situational, but worth considering.
  • Curfew
    • This Wave 4 upgrade is an odd one and is extremely situational. If the equipped model is the last activation in your crew it can discard the upgrade and a soulstone (oof!), then all enemy models who haven't activated gain Slow. Like I said, situational! Granted, Perdita crews tend to be outnumbered, and Chain Activations make it even more so. So yes, it could work, and it could be beautiful, but so are Rube Goldberg machines and plans with 10,000 steps. With the additional cost of discarding a stone this upgrade bumps from 1ss cost to 2ss while taking up an upgrade slot. Take this at your own risk!
  • Dampening Field
    • This Wave 2 upgrade gives Perdita the ability to discard it at the start of her activation to prevent enemy healing within 8" for the rest of the turn. At 1ss it makes you think, but it's still pretty situational. It also gives another (0) action that prevents a target non-Leader model within 8" from popping an aura until the end of the turn. Hmm... situational, but with the right matchup this could cripple some models. Anna Lovelace, for example, loves her auras. Still not something I'd put on Perdita without knowing your matchup 100%.
  • Expert Sleuth
    • This one from Wave 2 lets you discard it for a +2 to your initiative flip and gives another (0) to push 4" toward an enemy scheme marker within 10". She's got enough pushing options, next!
  • Hermanos De Armas
    • A Family upgrade that gives a (0) 5" push to a target model into base contact with them. It may be a good push option but is better served on a model that doesn't have an urgent need for (0) actions like Perdita.
  • Plant Evidence
    • The generic upgrade is scheme marker related; it gives a single push at the end of the game that pops a marker afterward and gives the model Finish the Job, which also places a marker when it dies. For a single SS and upgrade slot this may be one to leave alone.
  • The Thalarian Stone
    • Ugh, what is with these upgrades? Why spend a stone to get an upgrade that makes you spend another stone? This one, like the other Stone upgrades across the factions, bumps up different stats - in this case, Df/Wp - but by a random amount. And gives another (0) that heals 2 damage. I guess that part is ok. Not for Perdita though. It's like they want you to give her a billion (0)s!
  • Tormenta de Plomo
    • This is a Family upgrade that requires an 8 or higher for a 6" pulse. It's a 2AP action so it's costly. However it causes the pulse to force enemy models to perform a TN 14 Df duel or suffer 4 damage. These are the kind of silly upgrades that I actually try to make work sometimes. If Perdita was able to gain Fast she could push then do this twice. But you know what makes you just know that you shouldn't do this? Because if Perdita gained Fast, she could also... you know... just shoot 4 times and cause a minimum of 16-20 damage, probably more.
  • Vengeance Bullet
    • I saved the best for last! This is an awesome one. If you have this you can target a model that uses Soulstones (Master/Henchman), discard the upgrade, and gain +2 damage for the attack as well as a positive flip for the duel! Absolutely bonkers. So say you're shooting a master; you pay a stone for a ram, you have a high ram in your hand, and you discard this upgrade for its bonuses, and you just happen to be engaged. Your minimum damage is 7. Drop the mic, go home. This may sound situational, but it plays into Perdita's strengths. She can easily become engaged on her terms through her pushes. There is always a Stone-User model in the crew (like the Master). Bring enough stones with you and the only thing you'll have to rely on is drawing a good Ram card, but you may get away with a mid-ranged card with her Sh value of 7.
So, how would I build her in a general sense?
  1. Trick Shooting
  2. Vengeance Bullet
  3. Badge of Office
This is a decent build for her as it focuses on her strengths. Use Trick Shooting's (0) actions every activation to maximize her damage against the target. For the cases where her target or targets do not have cover, armor or incorporeal you can use Hero's Gamble to cycle through cards before attacking. I'd suggest charging or engaging targets when possible to get the additional Ram. When targeting a Master or Henchman you can discard Vengeance Bullet for the extra damage and positive flips - if you happen to have a spare severe card you can save it for the damage flip, as you'll be gaining a positive and should be able to cheat barring any defensive measures like Hard to Wound or in the case of ties. If you cheat in the severe damage while spending a stone and Ram card you can get a 10 damage attack which can either kill or seriously maim a target, freeing up your remaining AP for other targets. Badge of Office is there in case you get a surprise attack and want to put a speed bump in their plans. If you're needing the stone you can leave the Badge off, she can operate just fine with the first two upgrades. Also feel free to experiment with the third upgrade by using her other options if they seem to do well against the faction or crew you're playing against.

Activation Examples

So how should she typically activate? First, during and before her activation, assess the field and try to identify what the best target for her would be. Do you know how the opponent plans on scoring? Can you deny it by killing a model or two? Also ask yourself what models are out there that can threaten key elements in your crew or Perdita herself. Then you can assess what's in range and LOS, who would have cover, and finally if she would need to reposition for the best angle of attack.

Remember, you're trying to avoid using AP on movement. Her first option for movement is Relocate, so identify where your Family members are and push toward the best one for your plan. Relocate specifies that it is up to 8", so you can stop short if you want to. If at the end of the activation you won't be put in a compromising spot you should engage your target to add damage - that extra point of damage over three attacks comes to a total of 3 damage, so it's like getting another attack's worth of damage on top of your normal AP. If the extra damage isn't necessary to kill the intended target with your AP then you can play it safe by staying back. If you killed your target or targets and have a remaining AP then consider using Finger on the Trigger to enforce a defensive 12" bubble around your crew.

Of course, this is a fast and loose idea of what she may be doing during her activation, but it's a good start. Other models in the crew are going to affect how she operates slightly, but in the end she's a shooter and should do so as well as possible.

List Building

So after analyzing everything Perdita has to offer it's easy to come to a conclusion - Perdita is most comfortable shooting and packing on damage. Her secondary abilities are positioning through pushes as well as a bit of control through card cycling. In order for us to approach her list building sequence we'd also need to look at her thematic crew members. This can tell us how the crew naturally progresses as well as any gaps to be filled. Some masters who operate similarly to Perdita, via damage dealing, actually gain nearly nothing in terms of crew composition and synergy. Viktorias, for example, are independent of their crew and operate just as fine with or without support that synergizes. Leveticus completely depends on his crew to survive. So lets take a look at that odd family!

  • Francisco
    • Auto-include, hands down. By far the Guild's best Henchman and he's an Ortega. El Mayor makes Perdita reach near untouchable levels. He has a Ml 7 with a built in Critical Strike. With a stone and a card his minimum damage hits 5. The gun is useful too. Flurry is ridiculous, especially with the crew pushing him around. Enfrente gives you mobility options and potential disruption, although for an AP and the range you will be debating whether you should charge instead. Finesse is a stunning defensive measure. I'd always give him Wade In as an upgrade for survival, but the heal kind of sucks due to the suit requirement. Diestro is a serious consideration for Perdita's crew on him, it allows him to get stuck in without worrying about Randomization into engagement, while providing a debuff to engaged models. The high price, though, is what prevents me from always including it. Lead Lined Coat is also a good consideration for a cheaper survival option.
  • Abuela
    • She's an interesting choice for the crew. She provides charge denial, although only to models declaring charges within 6" so it's not as useful as Hamelin's similar ability. She pushes around a lot and a short ranged attack. Her (0)s are what's speaking to me personally. Shotgun Wedding turns one model into a Family model for the game, which creates a lot of potential. She also has a friendly Obey ability for an 8 or higher, which offers flexibility. She's more of a utility Ortega than the rest, as the family tends to focus on damage
  • Santiago
    • This Enforcer is lackluster. A middling melee with short range and no triggers. A ranged attack with no built in suits. For one more point you're getting Francisco. And Santiago doesn't do anything Perdita can't do herself. Leave him at home unless you're going for some combo I haven't thought of (which, granted, could be amazing and I have limited knowledge of Guild).
  • Nino
    • Nino is one of those models people waffle back and forth on, between loving him or leaving him. On paper he seems so good. From the Shadows, his Spotter ability, and a sniper rifle with great triggers. However, in the field he has the same issues that most Snipers have. People deploy them too far ahead and they get themselves killed. Too far behind, though, and they're not effective. A lot of the times they are disjointed from the crew because of their distance. He still randomizes into engagements. His minimum damage is 1, although with a built in crit strike, and going for Headshot puts him in dangerously close range as well as being resource intensive. However, much can be said about what I believe is his best ability, which is Spotter. If deployed right he can aid Perdita's crew with scheme denial for the game, something Guild tends to lack in. This, in turn, aids the crew's ability to perform their schemes themselves and dictates what your opponents have to do in order to score. He's one to consider keeping, just be a bit more conservative with him when deploying because that's where he's probably going to stay (or die) for the game.
  • Papa Loco
    • I personally don't like him. The forums often talk about putting him in a Pine Box with Death Marshals. There are a lot of counters to that strategy, not to mention that the particular plan is 13 points of your crew for what amounts to a novelty - one that relies on getting your models killed in the first place. I mean, hire a Freikorps model and just engage the Death Marshal or Papa, and watch the frustration fly. Hold This actually is a great ability, however it is not worth the risk of hurting your own models significantly. Also, he has terrible stats. I bet it is super fun to pull off those explosions though...
  • Enslaved Nephilim
    • Lastly, although not an Ortega, the Nephilim deserves a shout out. Perdita's totem, although there aren't any stellar stats, is an important member of the crew. It's mainly because of his tactical action, Shackled. A 6" push for a friendly model can't be understated, he can do it twice with correct positioning, not to mention he can target himself (something most people forget). He should never be using AP for walk actions. During the first turn it may benefit anticipating where the action will take place and position him accordingly. His pushes, coupled with the family's affinity for Companion, can help models position perfectly for their activation. Activate him, then push a model behind you like Fracisco twice so that he's 6" in front of you engaging a target, then Frank activates from Companion and Flurries. Stuff like that. Auto-Include in my eyes.
So that's the thematic crew. What impression do I get? Frank, Santiago, Papa, Nino: damage. Abuela, Nephilim, somewhat Nino: support. You know what this is lacking? Scheme running.

Yes, this crew is low on the scheme totem pole. They do a fine enough damage wiping models off the board but can't place scheme markers very well. Sure, you can hope for a scheme pool that has killy killy stuff in there, but often it doesn't come up and you don't want to be predictable to your opponent by always taking killy stuff.

With that in mind while I'm building the list, or considering models to include, I keep that in mind while trying to augment what Perdita is already good at.

  • Brutal Effigy
    • The Effigies are great models. For 4ss you get hard to kill, Finish the Job, Armor, and a buff for Perdita that heals her and draws cards. That's a steal for the cost. He also doubles as a scheme runner, because he can cast his buff then walk 5 and interact. Due to the buff being a (0) ability it offers a lot of flexibility in terms of his activation, especially with a mobile master like Perdita.
  • Ryle
    • There's no shortage of beaters in Perdita's crew, but I always like including Ryle for some reason despite this, mostly in combination with Frank. El Mayor bumps Ryle up to respectable levels of defense, he has armor 1 and can bump it up to armor 3 with a tome or stone (i'd even use low tomes to counter being hit) and has a (0) heal for resilience. His melee attack is min 3 damage, has crit strike, and he's a SS user. He's actually pretty competent with his gun, it has a built in positive as well as a ram for his triggers - one of which gives positives to damage. If Frank and Ryle are together things are going to get messed up hard.
  • Austringers
    • Guild staples. They offer another vector in terms of ranged attacks. I mostly consider them due to their ability Deliver Orders, as it is a flexible source of Interact actions as well as a slight reposition. Something that you can consider leaving though, but still an option.
  • Pathfinder
    • Decent stats, From the Shadows and summons traps which help with activation and zoning. Although a bit resource intensive he's a great budget option for scheme running and board control, just make sure to save the 6 of tomes or better for his summons.
  • Pistoler de Latigo
    • Cheap Family members for Perdita. They can act as pylons for her pushes and get positives to attack models who've activated. They also hand out positives to Df if they haven't already activated, so they operate as potential supporters without having to do anything explicitly. They have decent attacks, nothing special due to their price, but can remove conditions on their own. They're good options for scheme runners but they're not great at it.
  • Guild Hounds
    • I hover back and forth on these pups. On the one hand they're cheap activations at 3ss. However they're only effective if there's two and they're nearby, but you may want three in case one gets killed and you want them to still run schemes. But then you've hit 9ss for scheme running with a serious flaw your opponent can exploit. They're no Necropunks. However they're a considerable choice for scheme running, as if you have three of them running around unopposed that's a lot of scheme markers being placed.
  • Watcher
    • A cheap model that can potentially deny cover, but that's not why I put this in the list. Perdita doesn't need him when she's got her (0) to ignore cover. The main reason why I list this guy is he's a flying model with a 6 walk. And has armor. For 4 stones. Value. Come for the scheme markers, stay for removing cover or providing the master with Lines of Sight from the Watcher.
  • Wastrel
    • Another 4ss choice.  Although card intensive they're a flexible model. Their 2AP Cast-Offs ability heals 2 damage on a model within 6" and has 4 triggers ranging from more attacks to healing the Wastrel 2 damage as well. One of them teleports the Wastrel to a friendly scheme marker within 12", so they're potentially very mobile. Experience with a pair of these guys can teach you a few tricks, but they're included as scheme runners with a reliable healing element. A consideration for strats like Turf War or Extraction where sticking around is needed.
  • Brutal Emissary
    • A very pricey option to consider. He adds a Mask for Perdita so her Obey becomes viable. He also has options to bury models (friendly or enemy) until his next activation which can be a while. They can unbury either in base contact of him or a scheme marker. While they're buried he can copy their abilities which opens up combinations much like Hannah does. He has a (0) slow action. He also heals over the course of the game due to Destined so is a good option for Turf War/Extraction. The problem with him is his price, which cuts into model count, a problem with Ortega crews as they're chain activating already and have a middling model count. In that vein, though, he has the unprecedented ability to chain activate a third model leading to strategies that outright wipe models off the board before they get to respond. Is it worth it? Try it out...
  • Upgrade: A Debt to the Guild
    • This is a Wave 4 upgrade worth mentioning here. When I first saw it on the table I thought hot damn, this is a good upgrade. For 1ss it gives the model the ability to add a soulstone to the cache upon death. So if the model dies it's free essentially. It also gives Paid in Blood, which lets the model - once per game - to draw a card and add +1 damage to its attacks for the remainder of the activation. I mean, come on, that is so damn good it's gotta be a joke that it got in. Too bad it's Non-Master, because Badge of Office would be out the door.
  • Upgrade: Lead Lined Coat
    • Armor is always good to consider for 1ss
So, after all this, what kind of list would I build for Perdita?

  • Perdita 6ss cache
    • Trick Shooting
    • Vengeance Bullet
    • Badge of Office
  • Enslaved Nephilim
  • Ryle
    • A Debt to the Guild
  • Francisco Ortega
    • Wade In
    • A Debt to the Guild
  • Pistolero De Latigo
  • Brutal Effigy
  • Watcher
  • Watcher
Now, I'll be the first to admit I don't know Guild as much as I could. This is more of a list I would feel comfortable with my playstyle rather than being a catch-all list for anyone. There's absolutely no practice with this list, and I quickly came up with it just now in the span of less than 5 minutes of thought. Take this all with a grain of salt and know that if you think it's terrible you're probably right. 

(There's also the logistical issue of including Watchers, specifically two of them. They're only available in the Hoffman crew box, so you'd have to buy two of them to field them. You can also get them individually via websites like Gadzooks Gaming, but they're always out every time I look. The best option is probably converting them, which is what I'd do as it gives you some flavor as well.)

Now that we've gotten the disclaimer out of the way, I'll let you in on my line of thinking.

The Watchers are in there as scheme runners who can moonlight as assistants for Perdita and the other bruisers when they shoot. If they have nothing better to do then they can provide LOS for Perdita but more than likely she won't need it. 

The Brutal Effigy is there as a backup scheme runner but mostly for support for Perdita - with his healing buff she won't need stones as much for damage prevention, coupled with her Badge upgrade she'll be very survivable. Perdita kills stuff a lot, so his bonus card draw upon killing stuff is much needed for a crew that is pretty card intensive. 

The Pistolero acts as another Family member for Perdita to push toward, but can also drop scheme markers if needed. His ability to buff defense for models before he activates is also handy for survival.

The Nephilim is there for all the reasons stated earlier, mostly for his pushes. Remember to keep him safe but close by the bulk of your beaters.

Lastly, Frank, Ryle and Perdita are the damage dealers. They're all soulstone users so they're going to be fighting over those 6 stones in the cache something fierce, as well as any Ram cards you may have. Just know who should have priority over these resources during the turns and you'll be fine, just be okay with letting one or two of those models in terms of resources and let the third fly free. Frank is the squishiest of all of them and will probably be a huge target so act accordingly.

Deployment would be simple, put the Watchers on the flanks near the edges of the board for safety and everything else in the middle. This way the group can react to where the opponent sends his models the best way possible.

The general plan would be to first activate the Watchers. They'd double walk the first turn to prepare for schemes like A Line in the Sand, Convict Labor, Leave Your Mark, etc. If they're in range on turn one, like with Flank Deployment, then they can already start laying down markers. Then the Brutal Effigy can buff using his (0) and double walk forward. The Pistolero can double walk forward as well. The last activations you want are Frank, Ryle, the Nephilim and Perdita (roughly) in that order. Frank will activate first and place El Mayor on Ryle or Perdita (I prefer Ryle for now) and walk forward as far as possible. Ryle uses his (0) to push 4" toward Frank then double walks right next to him. The Nephilim then uses his Shackles to push himself twice, or Perdita once and himself once, depending on what you plan to do first turn. By now the opponent should have some models fairly close to your crew. Perdita can discard a card to push 8" toward either the Pistolero or Frank, and if the Nephilim pushed her she's now 14" up the board without having spent an AP on movement. With a 14" range gun she should be in range to hit something now. Have at it. Kill something. If you have an AP to spare put up Finger on the Trigger in anticipation of charges or shots. Try to kill something flashy like a Henchman or Master (lol) by using Vengeance Bullet, it would be a great demoralizing moment for your opponent. Realistically you'll catch something like a minion, or better yet a scheme running one or something challenging your Watchers. Those are priorities as you want to deny their schemes before they happen while letting one of your Watchers get away with the rest of the game unopposed.

At the end of this you may have killed one, possibly two, models. Your watchers are set up for running schemes. And your bulk of the crew should be in a little bubble around your Pistolero. This means that, if you set up Finger on the Trigger, everyone in the crew will have positive Df flips from the Pistolero, Ryle has El Mayor, Perdita attacks anything trying to charge or shoot them within 12", and the Nephilim should be in position to assist everyone in that bubble with pushes or his pseudo-obey. Not bad.

If Ryle gets hit consider using Tome cards to add armor or even use a stone for the Tome instead of damage prevent as it's a reliable 2 damage reduction rather than a possible 1 damage prevention from a bad flip, which always frickin' happens. Use stones for damage prevention on Frank whenever possible. Avoid using stones for Rams with these guys as that starts soaking the stones away, but use them when you have to. El Mayor on Ryle should cause some issues, but if Perdita is in a compromising spot you can use it on her and keep Frank safe. You're basically balancing all your resources between these three. But when Ryle or Frank attack something juicy, pop off Debt to the Guild and go nuts because that thing should be dead. Eventually you'll lose someone, more than likely Frank, but you'll gain a soulstone from them for someone else to use. The idea is to kill kill kill using those three models, and they all will have some sort of defensive measure to make retribution a tough sell. The Pistolero gives Df positives, Frank gets Hard to Kill, Ryle has tons of armor, and Perdita naturally has high defense. Just concentrate on dishing more than you're taking and maximize your Chain Activations between Perdita, Frank and the Brutal Effigy to wipe models off before they activate (preferable high damage targets). If you manage to kill models that can reliably kill you back before they retaliate you'll set yourself up for success.

In theory. There is the Black Joker, after all.

I wish I could have fit more healing elements into this list to help out the Beaters in terms of sticking around. Sure, they all can potentially heal, but Frank being the weakest link in terms of surviving has the weakest element of healing as well. It's there, just not reliable. You can technically swap out the Watchers for Wastrels to add in some healing, but I don't think it's enough to improve the list and you lower your ability to run schemes much more. I've also considered swapping the Pistolero for a Pathfinder to add more scheme flexibility and board control, but I think that positive to defense for the majority of the crew is worth it (plus he's a stone more expensive).

This crew has glaring weaknesses. One, Frank is a huge target and easily removed. Also, if you manage to kill Perdita or any one of the two others, you lose almost all your damage dealing in one go (and it is easily possible... your opponent doesn't plan on just letting you do what you want). However this seems like a fairly good list able to tackle most scheme pools. Testing it would be the only way of finding out.

There are probably better lists out there, but this is the one that inspiration struck me with. Try it out, let me know how terrible it is, and improve upon it.

Let me know what you think! As I said before, I'm no Guild master and whipped this out off the top of my head with my vague understanding of Perdita. Go and prove me otherwise, we'll all learn more in the end!