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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.


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!

Monday, December 12, 2016

12/10/16 Malifaux Tournament! Blood Bowl WIP! Things!

That sweet Malifaux goodness!

Wow, Ryan... a whole month with no updates, what's up with that?

Sorry folks, although I had been doing lots of hobby stuff I hadn't quite gotten enough material together to warrant an update (at least in my mind!), so I had been holding off on content for a bit. I did manage to work on a post involving some thoughts on the game in terms of strategy much like my AP post, but I didn't quite finish it.

Anyway, what's been going on? Well, for starters last Saturday we had a Malifaux Tournament at the impressive Montag's Games store. We had 8 players in attendance, including a relatively newer player I had faced before in the Henchman Hardcore tournament a while back. 

Below are the table set ups for your enjoyment...

Doug's western themed board, I like the set up and he generally has the same set up every time which is good for its symmetry but not to cuttered

Doug also used his Arena Rex mat for an interesting mat, the TO arranged the terrain and made it the definition of symmetrical

Karl's board featured on a Guild Ball mat, which conveniently marks the center circle for Strategies like Reconnoiter

My board that was featured previously on the blog, although I set it up differently every time

Brandon set this one up very quickly, although I must admit it seemed very interesting to play on

I set this one up very fast, it probably had the least elements but hardly any straight lines of sight from deployment zones

Round 1

Standard, Collect the Bounty
Convict Labor, Take Prisoner, Show of Force, Set Up, A Quick Murder

Yay! I actually remembered to post the entire scheme pool!

Mike getting ready to throw some summons in my face

My first round was against Mike, one of my regular opponents who has made the switch from Gremlins to Ressers. So far he's only used Molly so it was a safe guess that she was going to make an appearance.

The scheme pool looked like it favored my Viktorias. Recently I had been using them a lot with a good amount of success and have actually gotten worse with Leveticus - a discussion for another time. I had recently made a big change in the list and replaced Ashes & Dust and Sue with Aionus and two Winged Plagues. I had only one game with this composition under my belt but felt it was such a good addition that I was confident it could weather the tournament. Collect the Bounty is very good for the crew, and they are now very capable of handling marker related schemes like Convict Labor. Their specialty is A Quick Murder, so I decided to go with Viks for my first game.

Molly peers beside the building at my crew in the open...

Based on the terrain I saw that there were a few bottlenecks to look out for. If I went behind the buildings I'd be forced to come out toward his crew in one, maybe two openings, and those would confine my ability to move around my own crew. He deployed first and set up his whole crew behind the closest building while keeping a lone Flesh Construct on the opposite side to hinder my schemes. I noticed that if he decided to come out between the first two buildings he'd be hindered by some scatter terrain in terms of outright coming toward me, although it's a two way street and would force me to work around the terrain to get to him. If he came out between the second and third buildings I'd manage to have a much safer approach as it would take him longer to become a threat but he'd approach safer as well. I decided to deploy behind my first building instead of in the open just in case the flow dictated that I needed to change the approach. It also benefited me to help with my scheme runners on that side.

The opening turns went as expected, with a slight twist. I assumed he would keep his crew together but the limitations of space and LOS had him split his crew in two and went through both alleys. I brought my entire crew out into the main opening while keeping a Winged Plague and Freikorpsmann on the left to place markers that would go unchallenged during the remaining game turns. My right Winged Plague went to the opposite table edge and I managed to get two markers on the center line with two more creeping behind them - Aionus is able to make all friendly markers move so they can eventually come into play mid game.

Molly then summoned two Students (Viscera and Steel) to swing at Hannah, who promptly tanked them and only took two damage. Viktoria of Blood walked toward them and killed one to ensure that I didn't have to deal with it next turn. To do this, however, compromised my usual positioning and left the Viktorias exposed if they didn't win initiative. It was a gamble I was willing to take, however, as Blood would have positives for Defense and a full hand of cards and stones.

Molly promptly throws bodies at Hannah

Turn two saw the expected blood bath. I managed to win Initiative and went to work. Viktoria of Ashes put up a buff for damage, teleported Blood, and Blood chain activated. She then discarded Oathkeeper and charged Sybelle - who happened to be A Quick Murder's target. Viktoria swiftly killed her, then walked toward the Belle and wounded her with Melee Expert. Although it's not as flashy as usual (like killing 6 models at once) it did the job and scored 3VP easily. 

Viktoria, in some deep doo doo but worth it

Mike then concentrated on killing Blood while he had the chance, but it took a ton of resources to do it. Between Blood having stones, cards and a positive flip to defense it took almost his entire crew, including Molly's new summons like another Student and a Punk Zombie, to bring Blood down to a few wounds left, and she was finished by a Necrotic Machine of all models, who flipped the Red Joker on damage just when it was looking like Blood pulled off a miracle and lived.

Because of how much it took to dispose of Blood Mike wasn't in a good position anymore. I had the freedom to place markers down for Convict Labor which gave me AP to spend on mopping up the portion of his crew that was further up the field. He was also in a bad spot since his summons were further back than he'd like now and no longer had the buffer between my crew and his master.

His lone Flesh Construct was doing his best to deny markers on the left, but I had placed three or four in the area and would be impossible for him to deny with one model. Instead of attacking him I just attempted disengage strikes and would walk away just to place yet another marker. Aionus tied up the other side while placing markers and moving them around, all the while handing out Slow to the Flesh Construct on the right.

In the end I had only lost two models, which were both of my Viktorias. I didn't kill too much in terms of significant models but I had locked down my VP while denying his - he ended up taking Convict Labor and Set Up and it ended up 8-2 in my favor. If we had went to turn 5 I may have gotten full VP, but I doubt the differential would have been any different.

Round 2

Flank, Interference
Convict Labor, Show of Force, Leave Your Mark, Frame For Murder, Set Up

Doug from the illustrious Guslado Games

So for Round 2 I was paired against Doug and his infamous Sandeep list. I learned a ton from our last encounter, but then so has he. I decided to use the Viktorias again even though he knew their trick, I figured having Aionus and the Winged Plagues will help me with schemes. The table was a bit of a choke point with the way the fence was, luckily Doug gave me deployment and I picked the not-so-damning corner. In hindsight I probably should have picked the opposite corner, being that the building was bigger and would hide me better while denying him a hidey-hole. I chose Convict Labor and Leave Your Mark, although in the end it would prove to be a bad choice.

It started off fairly well. I moved my Winged Plagues to the flanks to place markers, with one ending up on top of the large building in safety. The one on the right however died very fast to Cassandra and a Mage. The Freikorpsmann walked toward the north side of the board and placed a marker, and Hannah went up the middle. The Malifaux Child put up the damage buff.

Doug learned from last time and split up his forces a lot. One the fence-side was a Mage and Cassandra. The middle had Sandeep, and the far side had two Mages and Joss.

Due to the placement of his models I heavily debated if I should do a turn 1 charge with Blood. I figured I'd be able to get the two Mages and Joss in Whirlwind, but knew that once it happened Blood will be gone. Figuring I wouldn't have another chance at it I decided to go for it and slung Blood to kill them. It turned out I wasn't able to get the third Mage into range like I thought and only managed to kill Joss and one Mage - and Joss was the target for Frame For Murder. That's when it all went downhill.

Sandeep then summons the Banasuva to kill Blood, who managed to stay alive at one wound.

Ashes joined in on the fun and the two summons were killed, but Blood now had Burning on her so she was going to die.

Doug used the remaining resources to do damage onto Ashes and get her off the field. He got her down to almost dead.

Meanwhile I spent a lot of brainpower trying to figure out how to get out of this mess I put myself in. I managed to move the Malifaux Child in range, had Hannah walk up to Blood and use the Child's healing ability. But not having the cards in hand it was a gamble - I'd be relying on flipping either Moderate or Severe to heal enough to live. Of course, a Weak flipped and it wasn't enough to stem the tide. Doug's remaining resources managed to get Blood and Ashes down to one wound, which killed them once Burning took place.

Not much to say after that! It went downhill extremely fast. If Blood had managed to get that other Mage in Whirlwind range then my Winged Plague would have been free to run his schemes, but since I didn't the Winged Plague had to be exposed to try to get in range for Leave Your Mark and died. I also should have picked my schemes better, because Frame For Murder would have been a sure shot on Viktoria of Blood, which would have closed the differential much better. The reason I didn't take it was because every time I take it against another player of ours he avoids killing her at all so it left a bad taste.

Needless to say it was pretty demoralizing for me, and unfortunately I let it affect my following game.

Round 3
Corner, Stake a Claim
Convict Labor, Hunting Party, Exhaust their Forces, Neutralize the Leader, Occupy Their Turf

So for my last game I was paired against Travis, another regular opponent and Malifaux genius. We played on the Arena mat. Unfortunately with Corner deployment I realized that no matter what cornern I ended up in I was extremely bottle-necked. As I deployed my models it sunk in even further as I could already tell this was not going to be a good game for me.

With Exhaust their Forces in the pool and Stake a Claim needing models in enemy halves I decided with Leveticus, although in hindsight I probably should have stuck with Viks. I chose Convict Labor and Exhaust Their Forces, which I realized recently that Flesh Constructs are actually really good at. I need to start forgetting about Convict Labor when it comes to Corner Deployment, I'm just too far to do the normal strategy I usually do.

I hadn't taken a lot of photos during the game, mostly because it was a terribly awful game and I was already worn down from my last defeat and let it get in my head. He used Asami and was much better equipped to be walking around in forests than I was. He managed to get Neutralize the Leader on turn two, and was getting Hunting Party every turn. I only got two points from Exhaust Their Forces and nothing else. It was bad. On top of that my flips were awful, and my control hand rarely saw anything above an 8 even after spending stones. It ended 10-2 and we were done with an hour left in the round!

I felt bad that I didn't give Travis a good game but in the end it bumped him up to second place so he probably wasn't complaining! Doug ended up winning (again, damn you!) and Karl took third.

Lesson's learned, really. I need to re-rack my brain on scheme selection and really approach every scheme as valid rather than sticking to the same ones repeatedly - not that I'm saying that there aren't any staples, just that I need to reevaluate how I approach them.

In the end it was fun but brutal on the psyche. Luckily the end of the year is approaching and the new Gaining Grounds packet should be out - it should be enough to revitalize my game and is definitely exciting. 

After the game we had Indian food for dinner and went back to Mike's for Board Game Night. We ended up playing Camel Up, which is a surprisingly fun game about gambling! We also played King of Tokyo which was cool too, and ended the night with Cash and Guns, a fun party game.

Blood Bowl WIP

So a few weeks back Guy, the owner of Montag's, commissioned me to paint a copy of Blood Bowl in exchange for a copy for myself (I may have done some coercing...). From the moment I saw the new Orks I knew I had to get my hands on a copy, and they looked like an absolute blast to paint. It took me a good four hours to assemble and cover up the bases - they have a slot to insert the ball, but it's not something Guy (or I) wanted. I finally was able to set aside some time on Sunday to start the painting process. I had to do an assembly line in order to get them done in a timely fashion, even though I hate assembly line painting.

The first foundation of Red is placed...

Guy wanted them to have the same paint scheme as they do on the box but gave me the freedom to paint in how I'd like within that range - a good thing, as my particular style doesn't match that of GW which is a rather cool one. I'd been brainstorming on how I wanted to approach the work and decided on using a technique I'd used in the past for red with a slight twist.

Over a black primer coat I sprayed Vallejo Gray highlights and color blocking. Because this "undercoating" process is used under a coat of red I had to go more overboard than usual to ensure that the red is readable in the end. Once the gray was done I used Vallejo Red Ink and sprayed several light coats over the gray. It starts off as a light pink at first but over time and several layers the red starts to show, and it is really rich. Unfortunately it looks a lot different under the light than it does in normal lighting conditions and is actually a lot darker than I'd like.

New! Now with Orange! (Also, it looks a lot more orange than it really is in this light)

I decided to add another layer of highlights with Vallejo Fiery Orange. I was worried about this step as I hadn't used orange to layer over red in quite a while on this scale and was afraid it wouldn't look good. Luckily it worked out, and it creates a really cool sheen on the armor while still reading as red. Had I took the more realistic route it would turn out much more of a pink tone, maybe less so with a Flesh Tone undercoat. I plan on knocking down the gloss finish with matte varnish tonight to see if I need to work more on it.

Up Close...

I really like the way they turned out, but I'm afraid that they are too dark and subtle to pop. I'm debating on pushing the contrast further, by shading with Burnt Umber and adding in another layer of Gray/Orange. I'm also debating on the skin tone, as I initially thought I wanted them to be more of a olive green rather than the yellow green that they traditionally are painted as. We'll see, but in the mean time I will continue to update my progress and get it done as soon as possible!