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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Outcast Impressions Part 2 - Totems

Continuing on from yesterday I will discuss briefly (hopefully) on my experience and conclusions of some Outcast Totems. Generally these are associated with their respective Masters, so I'll probably discuss their main interactions with them as well as with potential crews.

First up...

  • Shang
Misaki's dedicated totem isn't that great in my opinion. His main two abilities are Rush of Magic and healing Misaki. Rush is a great ability as it lets you cycle, but 3ss is a hefty price to pay for one good ability. The healing portion is almost not worth discussing as it's another thing that almost never works on the table. Its 6" range and 1AP makes it impossible for the little guy to keep up with Misaki, considering she's moving very fast and for free at times. Healing may be viable if she's sticking to an area like Turf War, but that makes her more vulnerable just for a 1/2/3 heal.

Rush of Magic is his main selling point, and on the forums some people say they like bringing him for that. I guess you can couple it with, say Hannah's ability to draw an additional card for some pretty good cycling. But his Rush of Magic for 3ss works out like this to me:
  • If you pay a soul stone to cycle two cards, that's essentially two Rushes of Magic, making the ability sort of equal 0.5 soul stones per card cycle (one rush of magic)
  • Shang lets you Rush once a turn, bringing in that 0.5ss five times on an average game if he lives long enough, for a total of 2.5ss return
    • This doesn't make up his cost
    • For 3ss throughout the game you could have cycled a total of 6 cards over three turns compared to his 5 cards over 5 turns
      • You can also do it 2 more turns for 4 more cards, but now it's costing more than Shang and is a big chunk of your cache
    • Most tournament games will not go to turn 5, let alone any more after, so that's less return from Shang, making Soulstones more efficient and flexible
So at this point if you're thinking of using Rush of Magic it should be so that you can still cycle and have a full cache to use for other things beside card cycling, which I can understand. It's just a shame that a faction like Neverborn gets Primordial Magic, a totem that costs one less and does more along with Rush of Magic, while Misaki gets this. He's not significant so doesn't help with schemes, while the Primordial Magic does. So in terms of model cost compared to other similar models in the game he's not good at all, and he also doesn't bring anything new or good to the table for Outcasts in general.

I'd leave him at home, but mostly because I leave Misaki as well lol. Really though, if you plan on taking Misaki, you may as well shell out the extra stone for the Hodgepodge Effigy, who has a ton more synergy with her, can keep up with her, counts for schemes, and is still cheap. If you stay at one SS in your cache she can use it to buy a crow, gain her Risky Ventures ability, then after killing a model she gets a stone back and does it all over again.

  • Student of Conflict
Here's a controversial model within our group. She's overall very good, the problem is that her cost far outweighs the usefulness at times, so it's a toss up when it comes to including her. She isn't master specific for the most part so can be utilized in any Outcast crew.

Lets start with the model as it stands. Melee is crap at a 4, but damage is good for a totem at 2/3/4, but the best damage track in the world doesn't help a low initial stat. Yes, you can still hit with her, but using resources to make her hit is ill advised as you need to spend those on models that will do more damage or make more of an impact. It's not impossible to hit with her though, and I've killed a master with her once as she was the only model left and I lucked out.
  • Special note: We were discussing raw stat difference today and a very knowledgeable player pointed out that the difference between 5/6 for a stat isn't much at all on the table, and I only notice the 7 being really good as it's generally associated with something important and therefor I spend resources to make the attack happen. It's an interesting point and probably true, but I find it hard to discount a high raw stat like a Rotten Belle's Lure being CA8 against average WP not being a huge advantage

She has a few good points about her. She has a 6 speed which is always nice, but since she isn't significant you can't capitalize on it entirely for schemes, mostly for Sister placement or scheme denial.

She has the ability to teleport sister models as well, meaning this ability's worth depends on using her in a Viktoria list. Outside of using her for Vanessa, which is an expensive utility in my opinion, she can be used for movement shenanigans with the Viks. After using the Viks for a bomb you can use the Student to teleport one back to relative safety or for a better position in an upcoming turn. This helps her stretch her usefulness a bit, but I've found that it's limited as you'll be activating her later in the turn and if you move then you'll be teleporting only one of the sisters. 

Her shining ability is handing out Fast turn after turn. This is what makes her more useful in other crews. An additional AP is pretty darn handy, the main problem with it is the 3" range and the fact that it cost 2AP, soaking up her entire turn. Some notable uses can be plopping her next to Hans while he goes ham on a fool, or other similarly static models. Four stones for that advantage is somewhat debatable, but interesting enough to try out. I've used Fast as her main draw when recruiting her, but if you plan on your target being mobile then it's not nearly as easy to pull off. Being that it's her whole activation the model that is being targeted has to wait an activation before reaping the benefits, and sometimes you just don't have that time and need to act now - which is the issue I had with the Viks past turn one. I've tested out replacing her and have had mixed results. If she was just one stone cheaper I wouldn't have to think about it, but 4 stones seems to be the tipping point between useful and points heavy for me.

  • Malifaux Child
This is a pretty good little dude with lots of flexibility for a cheap price. For the price of an upgrade you get an extra activation along with the ability to copy your master's abilities to an extent. He's good enough for non-Outcasts to pay the mercenary tax and bring him in.

His attack isn't worth mentioning, and really when it comes to resilience I'll mention manipulative, but he's hardly ever a priority in targeting by the enemy. He's usually only in danger with blasts or if everything else is dead.

As for general strategies, the main one I took away from him is using focus. If you focus before using his copy ability the chances are increased dramatically in passing the target number.

He generally makes your master AP efficient by saving them from having to cast something themselves, or gives them more options when it comes to what they can cast.

For the Viks it's interesting that he can cast Sisters in Fury and benefit from the buff himself for +2 damage. It's not a game changer, but certainly a surprise for them while he's saving them from using an AP. The problem with him in their crew is that for them to benefit from his ability he has to activate first, and I almost always want the sisters to activate first to get the Alpha strike or keep up the momentum.

He's not useful for Von Schill, at least not over the Steam Trunk, and should definitely never be used with Leveticus. It's an interesting note that with Misaki he gets access to her Downburst ability, but this is something I have never tried yet. Definitely worth taking over Shang.

It's worth noting that he has access to a small heal. Nothing fancy, but it requires a suit being flipped. I tend to use it when I have a leftover AP and someone could use a heal, but I've also had Hannah copy the ability for a good heal with a held card for his own activation for some okay healing that kept her alive. Just something to think about.

  • Hollow Waif
If you're using Leveticus you're using these, don't think about it too much.

They operate like anyone figures they do, keep them safe and within LOS of the anchor, as this is a mistake I've done and lost Leveticus this way. The only thing of note that isn't always discussed is that they have a DF 6, which is pretty good. Her trigger is by no means worth spending resources on unless convenient. 

  • Steam Trunk
It's good for Von Schill, and I think it's his best option especially when taking the upgrade to give out two (0)s. My main problems I had with it are its speed 4 and 4" range along with with activation issues. For people ahead of the the trunk in need of his abilities he had to activate first to double walk and hand out his (0)s, but the reason why they are in need for something like a heal is because they're about to die and therefor need to activate first. He seemed to never get past that and his abilities were never useful, although on paper you'd think it's easier. Due to his speed the crew tended to be too far out for him.

I probably need more practice with him, but it seems like not only a unique totem but one that could be a lot of use for Von Schill. If you're looking for a more overt crew enhancement however the Student is one more stone and can hand out fast for the entirety of the game.

Well, that's it for Totems I have experience with! If I'm way off base let me know, I'm sure I've got some bad thoughts on this stuff and it's probably the reason why I don't do all too well with Malifaux!