So today I want to have a look through the various options for scheme runners, in Ten Thunders. I’ll preface this by stating that I do not by any means consider myself to be the greatest Malifaux player out there, these are simply my thoughts on this. What exactly is a scheme runner? Well, generally speaking it’s a model who’s principle reason for being in your crew is to complete schemes, usually by interacting in some way, or being in specific positions on the board. Technically speaking, any model in your crew can do stuff towards your schemes, but when designing a crew I typically tend to have some models who I specifically include for focusing on doing scheme related things, rather than damaging/controlling the enemy. What makes a good scheme runner? Well, typically I look for at least a few of the following;

  • High mobility
  • Survival tools
  • Scheme related abilities
  • Low cost
  • Additional utility

As I said, any model can technically perform duties related to the schemes, and some times the nature of the scheme pool and strategy will tend to push your hand towards particular crew selections that might differ from this, but it’s useful to have a good idea of how you intend to score your scheme VP and look at what models we have in our toolbox to excel at this. In my view, the following are the Ten Thunders models I would tend to look at, specifically for scheme running duties;

  • Torakage
  • Oiran
  • Ten Thunders Brothers
  • Tengu
  • Yamaziko
  • Samurai
  • Shadow Effigy

You might be looking at this list thinking, wait what? THAT model? Or perhaps wondering why a particular model that you favour for schemes isn’t listed. This is, admittedly my personal views and yours may well differ. Lets go through them all and I’ll outline my thoughts about them for scheme running.

Torakage

Misaki’s theme minions, these guys are a little pricier than some of the other options listed here at 6 stones, but they have a few extra things over other options.

Mobility: These guys are pretty quick with a nice Wk of 6, and as they are Last Blossom models you can potentially get very high mobility out of them with the Smoke & Shadows upgrade, which I’ll discuss in more detail later. They are also Agile, which makes them immune to disengaging strikes, which makes them much harder to lock down and prevent them doing schemes.
Survival: With only 6 wounds they can die very rapidly, but they do have very nice Df and Wp of 6 which can make them tricky for non-beaters to land hits on. They also have the One in the Crowd ability, which means that Sh attacks suffer a – flip when this model is within 3″ of another model, friendly or enemy.
Scheme Abilities: Agile is about the only thing they have here, allowing them to simply walk out of engagement, leaving them free to interact or relocate for the schemes.
Cost: At 6 stones they’re not exactly cheap, but they could be worse.
Utility: What else do they bring to the crew? Well their damage output is actually not bad. A 1/3/5 spread on their Ml5 attack isn’t fantastic, but they do get + flips to attack and damage when not near a friendly model which helps substantially. Their shooting is also reasonable. A 1/2/3 damage spread isn’t particularly impressive, but they can rapid fire, and have a baked in trigger to push 3″ on success giving them mobility while doing a bit of damage.

Smoke & Shadows deserves a mention here. This is a 1ss upgrade that can only be carried by Last Blossom models. It gives all Last Blossom minions 2 new abilities. A (2) action called Shadow Stride that needs a moderate Mask to succeed, which buried the model. At the end of the turn, it unburies within 6″ of a friendly model. They also gain a (1) action requiring any 8, which places two 50mm blocking smoke markers in base contact with the model. A trigger on a Mask allows them to then take the Shadow Stride action, at +2 Ca and a Mask. This can give the crew utility both in terms of blocking LoS to prevent ranged attacks and charges, and also significant repositioning which can be very valuable for getting models where they need to be for schemes and strat, particularly in the late game.

Overall Torakage have some good tools, but are a little pricey and often I find a bit too fragile given their cost.

Oiran

Oiran are often much maligned, I suspect due to their Lure ability being unreliable compared to the Lure options available on other models, such as Beckoners and Belles. However in wave 2 they received a buff, in the form of the 0ss upgrade Hidden Agenda. Once per turn, when the model carrying the upgrade deals damage to an enemy, all friendly Oiran in LoS gain Fast and Focused +1. Put this on a beater with a spare upgrade slot and your Oiran get significantly better. I often favour putting it on Misaki, Ototo, or another similar beater that will be in combat for much of the game.

Mobility: A fairly average Wk 5, and a surprising Cg 8. However this is significantly offset by the Hidden Agenda upgrade which often means that your Oiran are fast, and 3AP makes for some significantly improved mobility.
Survival: While only Df 5, they do have a rather good Wp 6. However they have 2 abilities that can really improve their survivability. Firstly, they are Disguised, meaning that they cannot be the target of a charge action. Against melee heavy crews this can make them very frustrating to kill, particularly if you position well. They also come with Reading the Stone, which means that the first time they take the Defensive Stance action, they gain an additional Defensive +1. This can keep them alive, or drain resource from your enemy trying to kill them, and combines particularly well with Shen Long as he can allow them to take the Defensive Stance action as a (0). Also worth mentioning is the No Witnesses trigger on their melee attack. It requires a tome to get off, but puts a condition on the target that means they may not declare Showgirl models as the target of an attack action. And Oiran are Showgirls. This can be worth committing a tome for, if it will result in more VP.
Scheme Abilities: Nothing specific, but as mentioned being Fast thanks to Hidden Agenda can allow them to get into position rapidly, or interact, walk, and interact again.
Cost: At 5ss they’re pretty cheap, and their upgrade is 0ss.
Utility: Their damage output is nothing to write home about, but they do have Lure, which forces a target model to move it’s Wk towards them. It does however need a Crow to cast, but has a good Ca 8 vs Wp and an 18″ range. You won’t be using it a lot, but with Focus +1 from Hidden Agenda they have a slightly better chance of flipping the Crow they require, and it can sometimes be worth committing a crow from your hand if moving an enemy model can deny VP to your opponent, score VP for you, or else just significantly disadvantage the opposing crew. Worth remembering. They also have Appealing, which gives friendly living models in aura 4 +1 Wp, which can be very useful against crews that favour Wp based shenanigans. Finally, they are Last Blossoms models so can take advantage of Smoke & Shadows, as mentioned in the Torakage entry.

Overall I actually rather like a pair of Oiran, plus Hidden Agenda on one of my beaters as a good scheme running setup. Particularly good for things like Inspection, Leave your Mark, Public Demonstration and so on. I’m particularly fond of them when going against Neverborn or Resurrectionists for the +1 Wp bubble.

Ten Thunders Brothers

These guys are considered pretty much the gold standard in scheme minions for Ten Thunders, and with pretty good reason. They have an impressive tool set!

Mobility: Wk 5 and Cg 5 is nothing to write home about, however their (0) action can place them within 3″ which helps a lot. I’ll discuss their (0) in more detail later.
Survival: Df 6 is solid, and Wp 5 is okay. 6 wounds is fairly typical for this kind of model. However, they have several options to further improve this. First their Df trigger, Bend As The Willow. This is on a Tome, and gives them Defensive +1 after resolving which can make them very difficult to shift. Additionally they have the Expert Defence ability which grants them +1 Df when they have the Defensive condition, putting them up to an impressive Df 7! Their (0) has two options to improve their survivability; Crab Style will grant them Armour +1, and Mongoose Style allows them to heal 2 damage. Overall they can be very difficult to kill, though serious beaters will still destroy them.
Scheme Abilities: Protect Our Holdings means that friendly scheme markers in aura 5 may not be discarded by the actions or abilities of enemy models, which can significantly improve your chances of completing certain schemes.
Cost: At 5ss, they’re pretty cheap. Especially given their huge tool set!
Utility: They’re extremely survivable, and they aren’t too bad in combat either. Ml 5 and a 1/3/5 damage spread is not bad, and they have triggers on a Ram for + flip to damage, and a Mask lets them place the target into base contact with themselves, and give it slow. Their (0) action is where the real utility comes in. It’s Ca 5 with a TN of 6, meaning anything other than the black joker succeeds. They have a trigger on every suit. Tomes gives them Armour +1, Crows gives them an impressive 4″ Ml which can let them engage a LOT of models, Rams gives them either draw a card then discard a card, or heal 2 damage, and finally Masks lets them place within 3″. Overall rather impressive.

A lot has been said about how good these guys are by many more people than me, and it’s hard to argue. Their only real issue is a slight lack of mobility, but that is offset by the Mask trigger on their (0), and you can use any low Mask from your hand to ensure you get this.

Tengu

These guys are probably what most people think of, when thinking of scheme runners in Ten Thunders. Dirt cheap, and with lots of scheme related goodness.

Mobility: Wk 5 and Cg 6 isn’t terribly impressive, but they do have Flight which makes dealing with terrain pretty easy for them. They also have The Shooting Star ability, which allows the Tengu to place into base contact with a friendly scheme marker within 5″ at the start of their turn. With this, a pair of Tengu can leapfrog their way up the board, leaving a trail of scheme markers in their wake
Survival: Well… it’s not great Df 4 and Wp 4 and only 5 wounds means that any serious effort will kill them pretty easily. They do have Regeneration +1 which can help keep them alive, bust mostly you’ll want to try and hide them. Beware ranged models, particularly snipers, picking them off early from across the board to prevent them doing their thing.
Scheme Abilities: The place into base contact with a friendly scheme marker can make it very easy for a pair of these guys to litter the table with scheme markers while remaining mobile. They also have a (0) action, Still the Earth, that allows them to discard up to 2 cards, and discard one scheme marker in a 3″ pulse for each card discarded, which can seriously crap on your opponent’s plans. They also have a trigger requiring a Tome on their melee, which allows them to place a scheme marker in base contact with themselves after dealing moderate or severe damage. Not to be counted on though.
Cost: Dirt cheap at 4ss each. You’ll likely want a pair for scheme-marker-hopping shenanigans.
Utility: Not too much. Their Ml attack is pretty poor, with a 1/3/4 damage track, though they do have flay on a Mask. They also have a (1) action, Ca 5, TN 11 with a 6″ range to give the target Regeneration + 1 until the end of the turn. A Tome trigger lets them take the action again, with no triggers. Potentially a handy little bit of healing once they’ve done their scheme laying, but typically they’re too busy planting scheme markers to use this, and the short 6″ range means they often aren’t in range of the models that need it most.

I’ve not really had much success with Tengu. They’re just too easily killed, and my opponents generally are aware of their scheme running potential and kill one early. A single Tengu is far less capable.

Yamaziko

Wait what? Yamaziko? Yes indeed. While she’s more expensive than most things in this list, and is a Henchman rather than a minion, she’s actually quite a capable scheme runner, and excels in certain situations.

Mobility: On the face of it, Wk 4 and Cg 6 is fairly poor. However she does have Nimble to make up for it, which gives her an extra AP just for walk actions. With this she can cover 12″ in a single turn, and also has the ability to interact, walk, and interact again. This makes her one of the more mobile options I find, she can really get about the board!
Survival: Her Df 4 is definitely her weak point, but her Wp is an excellent 7. Further more, she’s Stubborn, which gives enemy models a – flip to the attack flip of anything that is resisted on Wp. This means she’s extremely resilient against Wp based attacks. She also has 8 wounds which puts her significantly above most scheme runners, and finally she’s a Henchman, which means she can use soulstones, either for defence or for damage prevention. This can substantially increase her survivability if required. Her Brace Yari (0), which I will discuss below, can also make charging her an unpleasant option and may protect her. She’s weak against shooting, being only Df 4 but you can offset this with the Smoke Grenades upgrade, which for 1ss gives all attacks targeting her from further than 6″ a – flip.
Scheme Abilities: The main one is her access to nimble, which combined with her 40mm base means she can interact, walk and then interact again.
Cost: At 7ss she’s more expensive than virtually all of the other options, so consider carefully if the other things she brings to the table are useful to you.
Utility: Yamaziko’s damage spread isn’t particularly impressive at only 3/3/4, but weak damage 3 can be very useful against some models, and she’ll generally be able to easily dispatch most opposing scheme running models, which I find makes her a good flanker. She’s also got a 3″ melee range, which combined with Cg 6 and Nimble gives her an impressive 13″ threat range, and allows her to potentially engage several models to tie them up. She also has a (2) attack, Master Tactician. It’s Ca 6 and resisted on Wp, and may only target enemy leaders. Yamaziko gets a + flip to duels with enemy leaders making this quite likely to succeed. If it does, the target must discard 2 cards for each of it’s unrevealed schemes. This can potentially seriously disrupt your opponents turn if used at an opportune moment. She’s Relentless too so she is completely immune to horror duels which is a nice bonus. Finally her (0) action, Brace Yari, lasts until she is moved or pushed, and causes models that target a friendly model within 3″ of her with a charge action to take 4 damage. Also, as a Henchman she has 2 upgrade slots, and as a Last Blossom model this means she can carry Smoke & Shadows for you. As mentioned above, Smoke Grenades can increase her survivability, and depending on where you feel you will require her she could be a good carrier for The Peaceful Waters 0ss upgrade for Monks of Low River.

I like Yamaziko quite a bit as a scheme runner where I also need some utility and killing power. While expensive compared to other scheme runners, she’s cheap for a Henchman and has some useful tools. Particularly good against enemies that are likely to be heavy on Wp based attacks, but often fares poorly vs shooting heavy crews. Smoke Grenades can offset this somewhat, but you will often find you need to be careful with your positioning. She will take damage very easily in melee and a serious beater will kill her in extremely short order. She can however practically score you Convict Labour, Search the Ruins, Plant Explosives or Spring the Trap all by herself thanks to being able to interact, walk, then interact again.

Samurai

Another choice that might have some people scratching their heads, I quite like Samurai with their Favor of Heaven upgrade as heavy scheme runner / flanker models.

Mobility: With Wk 4 and Cg 6, Samurai are not fast. However, the Favor of Heaven 0ss upgrade grants them +2 Wk and +1 Cg. This puts them to Wk 6 and Cg 7, which is far more impressive! Their (2) tactical action, Run Through, can also give them some surprising extra mobility. It allows the model to push up to 4″ in any direction, perform a (1) Ml attack action, then after resolving the attack push another 3″ in any direction. This can often get them out of tight spots, or let you get to a model your opponent thought was safe.
Survival: Df 5 is pretty average, and their Wp 4 is poor so you will need to keep them away from Wp attacking models. They have only 6 wounds, but Armour +2 can make them very hard to kill unless enemy models have a way of ignoring armour. They also have Stand Ground, which allows them to take the Defensive Stance action without discarding a card, which can be a big help if you need to try and keep them alive.
Scheme Abilities: None, these guys are mostly about mobility, durability and killing power.
Cost: At 8ss, they are the most expensive thing in this list. Their upgrade is 0ss at least!
Utility: This is where the Samurai shines. Their damage output is impressive, with a 2/3/5 damage spread on their melee attack, which also ignores armour. Further they have Critical Strike on a Ram, for +1 damage bumping it to an impressive 3/4/6. A crow trigger grants them a + flip to damage. They also have a potentially potent Sh attack from their Shoulder Gatling, with a great 14″ range. It’s only Sh 5 but gains an awesome +++ flip to the attack. Yes, that’s right. You’ll be flipping 4 cards. This means they can readily target models in cover, or that force – flips to attacks, and still have an excellent chance of hitting. Further more, a Ram trigger allows them to take the action again after damaging, against a different target. And this can happen as often as you can flip or cheat Rams. The damage spread is only 2/3/4 but they can put out a lot of fire potentially. The big downside is that if they miss, they suffer 4 damage that cannot be reduced, which will near kill them even from full health. Be very careful about when you use this. Finally they have Reading the Wind which means that the first time the model takes the Focus action during it’s activation, it gains an additional Focused + 1. Between this, and their Stand Ground ability, they combine very well with Shen Long, who can let them do either Focus or Defensive Stance as (0) actions. His healing also goes a long way with their Armour +2.

All of this means that they will likely slaughter any opposing scheme running models they encounter, and can be quite difficult to kill. They aren’t an auto pick for the role, but depending on crew composition they can be extremely good flanking scheme runners, and have excellent damage output once they’ve done what’s needed for the schemes.

Shadow Effigy

Last on my list is this little guy. Often overlooked since he grew up to be a nice big emissary, he’s still a pretty solid little cheap scheme runner.

Mobility: Wk 5 and Cg 6 is fairly average, and he’s not got any particular movement tricks himself.
Survival: The little guy is surprisingly tough to kill. He’s only got 4 wounds, but he’s Df 6 and Wp 5 with Armour + 1 and Hard to Kill, which means that your opponent will have to commit fairly significant resource to kill him, and may simply feel it’s not worth the bother.
Scheme Abilities: This is where he makes up his worth as a scheme runner, thanks to Remember the Mission. It’s a (1) tactical action that requires a fairly high card to get off, that puts a condition on a friendly minion that allows them to place a scheme marker in base contact at the end of their activation. As this is not an interact, it allows you to even place scheme markers when engaged, or in 4″ of another friendly scheme marker. This can make schemes like Detonate the Charges, and Set Up almost trivial to accomplish. Not to be used every turn, but worth keeping in mind as it can really change the course of a game.
Cost: At 4ss he’s nice and cheap, and makes a good option to fill out the last few stones in a crew.
Utility: His melee attack is accurate, being Ml 7 but only ever does 1 damage. Potentially handy for finishing off those Hard to Kill models, but not exactly a combat powerhouse. His (0) action does give your leader a nice survivability boost, granting a condition that can be ended when your leader is the target of an attack, giving the enemy – flips to the duel. He also has Accomplice so you can activate him early, get the (0) off, and still activate another critical model.

Overall he’s a great way to fill out those last few stones in a crew that you don’t have another good use for, can happily spend most of the game wandering around doing scheme things, and can give your leader a nice little survival boost. I don’t often take him, but I rarely regret it when I do.

And that’s the lot. There are a few options I’ve not really covered here, most notably the new Wandering River Monks, partly because I’ve not really had a chance to try them out yet, and partly because I have a feeling that they’re just a little too expensive and a little too fragile for what they bring. Doubtless I’ll give them a try and some point, and I’d be curious to hear other people’s thoughts on them.

So, as hoped I got another chance to put Sun Quiang on the table this evening in a further effort to see just what he can do. The game was against my arch-nemesis and long time gaming friend, Paul, who’s blog you can find here.

I was of course playing Ten Thunders, and Paul was continuing his run of playing Neverborn. Specifically, Collodi. This is not really a full battle report per-se, just an after-action summary of what happened and my thoughts on Sun Quiang’s performance.

Ten Thunders
Mei Feng, Seismic Claws, Recalled Training
Emberling
Toshiro the Daimyo, Command the Graves
Sun Quiang, The Peaceful Waters
Jorogumo
Illuminated
Rail Worker
Monk of Low River

Neverborn (Roughly)
Collodi, some upgrades
Barbaros
2 x Terror Tot
Arcane Effigy
Brutal Effigy
Beckoner
2 x Illuminated

We were doing Extraction, with a very odd scheme pool containing Convict Labour, Exhaust their Forces, Neutralise the Leader, Catch and Release, and Take Prisoner. Looking at it, I decided to try Take Prisoner on Barbaros, figuring I could throw Ashigaru and angry stone dogs at him from Toshiro’s summoning, and Convict Labour since Sun Quiang would be able to turn corpses and scrap markers into scheme markers for me if needed, as well as potentially doing it to Paul’s ones if he opted for Convict Labour.

The initial rush forward went about as you might expect, the Emberling coughed up a scrap marker turn 1 for Toshiro to make into an angry stone dog, and was duly healed by Sun Quiang. Everyone advanced and Mei Feng vented steam to make things harder for Collodi. The Jorogumo ended up at the front and taking a lot of fire, though between Sun Quiang and the Low River monk I was able to keep him up for quite a while before he finally succumbed. Everything bogged down around the centre as is to be expected, and Paul was able to deny me Convict Labour initially by moving models up. Turn 4 I was able to flip a corpse marker in a good spot and score though. Mei Feng ended up charging into the middle of his crew and largely tied things up until she succumbed rather surprisingly to the Beckoner following a series of very poor flips, giving up 2 points on Neutralise the Leader in the process. Paul meanwhile was able to score Exhaust their Forces on my angry stone dogs, who were sadly too far out of the action for me to protect them by having Sun Quiang turn everyone into minions. Thanks to my weight of numbers though, while we were both scoring the strategy I was able to keep moving it back away from him, and both Collodi and the Beckoner ended up quite some distance from it, as they were busy fleeing from/killing Mei Feng.

Barbaros helpfully moved himself deep into the middle of my crew on the final turn, along with Paul’s final Illuminated, and was inside 2″ of a pair of my scheme markers poised to prevent me scoring on Convict Labour. Sun Quiang however was able to hit him, and successfully cheat the red joker to ensure the ‘Hole in the World’ trigger, placing Barbaros on the far side of Toshiro. This cleared my scheme markers, and moved him away from the Illuminated to ensure I would score full points for Take Prisoner. He finally used his Recitation of the Essential Formulae to make both Barbaros and the Illuminated into peons, preventing them from scoring Paul his final point on the strategy. This resulted in a narrow 9 – 8 win to me, with Sun Quiang ensuring me a whopping 5 VP scored on the final turn of the game, as well as denying 1 VP to Paul.

So overall thoughts? His healing is nice, both from the attack action when needed, but also from his 4″ pulse on activation. I had him nicely in the middle of my crew, and actually ended up doing far more healing with that, than with his attack. Obviously, the Hole in the World trigger on his attack also secured my victory, and given how powerful positioning is in Malifaux, being able to move an enemy so substantially has the potential to be extremely strong. Being a place rather than a push is also very handy. His (0) action also got good use, being able to transform a scrap, corpse, or scheme marker into a friendly scheme marker (And in a slightly different location, since it’s placed in base contact with the marker being removed), helped me get points from Convict Labour. The aura of forcing Wp duels to avoid slow also came up several times, costing cards and in one instance actually making a model slow. Finally, I felt he was a great carrier for the healing upgrade for the Low River monk, who did a good bit of healing work for me before Collodi murdered the poor chap.

On the whole, it does definitely seem as if Sun Quiang has the potential to be a very powerful support piece indeed. Strong with the summoning Toshiro, mostly for the heals in this particular instance, but more particularly for his ability to control placement, provide a good bit of healing, and to heavily influence the schemes and strats. I think he’ll be seeing a lot more use from me!

So this will likely be the first in a series of posts on this topic; not just about Malifaux but about game theory in general, which is a subject I find fascinating and useful to study in my quest to be not just a better gamer, but more effective in life in general. I will preface this by saying that I am by no means the best Malifaux player, or indeed gamer in general. I would consider myself to be slightly above average, but improving, Writing articles about this sort of thing helps me reason through it in my own head and solidify my ideas, and while the more experienced among you will perhaps consider a lot of this fairly obvious, hopefully some of it might be of use to newer players.

So to start, lets consider a brand new Malifaux player. They come in all flavours, but a fairly common thing I see a lot of newer players doing (myself included when I was new to the game), is a heavy focus on trying to kill opposing models, and little to no regard for actually scoring points and winning the game. Later, as they gain experience, they might start to look a bit more at scoring those all important VP, but are still easily distracted from the task at hand. They start to study the abilities and actions on their various cards, and come up with some ways to combine them for powerful effects. Later still, they might develop some very complex and/or potent combinations and crush a few people with them. This I feel often leads to the ‘X, Y or Z is OP!’ sorts of arguments. Now granted, there undoubtedly exist some things in the game that ARE overpowered to some degree, perfect balance is pretty much an impossible task, but often the ‘OPness’ comes from lack of familiarity with the models and abilities in question, and a lack of understanding of what I feel are the truly important things in Malifaux.

What wins games of Malifaux isn’t the stats and abilities on a particular model, or the cool combinations of abilities and models you can devise, or even necessarily killing enemy models. What wins games of Malifaux is;

  • Positioning
  • Board control
  • Good resource management

And of course, a solid focus on the objectives. As more experienced players are undoubtedly aware, it is entirely possible to win a game of Malifaux even having lost your entire crew, or without killing a single enemy model.

There are naturally other elements that play into this, but the three things listed above are I think the fundamental core of winning Malifaux games. There’s an awful lot that can be said about each of those subjects, and indeed they apply in various forms to all sorts of other games as well, which is what I will likely delve into in future blog posts. For just now though, I’ll quickly go through the three points listed above and explain what I mean by them.

Positioning

I would consider this to be one of the first important things to learn, in order to improve as a player. Things like knowing your crew/faction and what you can and can’t do within the rules will come naturally as you play more and more games, but focusing on learning good positional play is I believe one of the first things a new player should do, that will lead to a substantial improvement in their game. Positioning covers all sorts of things, such as understanding threat ranges for models, where you can and cannot get cover from ranged attacks, where the charge lanes are, and how you can block or otherwise deny them. It includes knowing where your models need to be in order to secure you VP, and where you need to position models to deny the enemy VP. Reading the cards of your crew will help learn things like charge and walk distances, melee ranges, shooting and casting ranges, and so on. All of these together combine to help build a sense of what a model can, and cannot do from any given location. The stats on your opponent’s models will affect this as well of course, and given how many factions and models there are you likely won’t know a lot of this information. The simple solution is, ask! Don’t be afraid to ask your opponent questions. “What’s that guy’s charge and melee range?”, “How far can Perdita shoot?”, “Does that model have any extra movement abilities?” Or indeed, simply ask for a quick look at the card. Also, remember you can pre-measure in Malifaux. I advise that you do so, frequently. It will help you build an understanding of how the models are influencing the field. I also highly recommend plastic measurement tools, marked for 1″, 2″, 3″ and 4″. They’re fantastic for getting a quick idea.

So as you play, focus on how positioning is affecting both your choices, and your opponents. As an example of positioning at work, I played a game vs a Reva crew at the UK nationals, who was intending to use Corpse Candles to deliver a Killjoy bomb. (If you aren’t familliar, Killjoy is a very murderous guy who starts the game buried, and may un-bury when a friendly model dies). By using my Hungering Darkness, I was able to block charge lanes and make the un-bury options unappealing. By carefully positioning my crew, and influencing where my opponent could position his models, I was able to keep Killjoy off the table until Turn 3, when he had only one option for a charge, into the model I wanted him to charge. I was able to kill him for no loss. This wasn’t done by stats on models, or fancy combinations. It was done though a willingness to expend a resource (A model), and good positioning.

Board Control

This is almost exactly what it sounds like; how you go about exerting control over various areas of the board. Control can mean all kinds of things, from flat out denying access to a position, blocking off line of sight, making certain areas highly unappealing for your opponent to move his models into, and so forth. It ties fairly closely into positioning, which is why I would generally suggest a new player focus on that first to get a solid basing in it as a fast way to improve skill, but you will likely be picking up elements of board control along the way. Board control is very important for almost all of the strategies and schemes, and thus very important for winning games. A good example of a strategy involving board control, is extraction, where the objective is to control the area of the board around the informant marker. If you can keep models in that area, you score VP. If you can deny that area to your opponent, you deny them VP. So how can you do this? Well, for a start you can make it physically impossible to put models in an area. A big solid unit on a 50mm base takes up a lot of space, in which your opponent simply cannot place a model. If you put it adjacent to some impassable terrain, you can block off access to larger areas. Taking this concept further, the model will likely have a melee range that extends around it. Enemy models entering this will be engaged, and cannot move past without taking disengaging strikes. If your 50mm model is also a very powerful melee model you have the added advantage that your opponent may not want to risk moving models close to it! If said model has a 3″ melee range (Say, Izamu), you can create a sphere a whopping 8″ across that your opponent may not want to move models into! Continuing this concept, many schemes and strategies call for performing various interact actions, which cannot be done while engaged. So Izamu there is creating a huge area in which such things simply cannot be done, by the vast majority of models.

Powerful ranged models can create similar areas along their sight lines, where your opponent will want to keep his models either out of line of sight, or else in cover to make them hard to hit. This can effectively reduce your opponent’s mobility in certain sections of the board. Taking things a step further, there are many models which can move opposing models against their will, using abilities such as lure, or various pushes. This again enables you to exert control on sections of the board, by forcibly moving enemy models away from it, allowing you unhindered access. Some models have abilities which allow you to place large blocking markers, which restrict line of sight and in some cases movement as well. These take the form of things like smoke clouds, ice pillars, walls of flame, or suddenly materialising forests. These all let you control sections of the board by preventing line of sight, or blocking off entire paths across the board, if well positioned in relation to terrain.

Resource Management

In virtually all games, you have various resources which you can use to influence the game, and Malifaux is no exception in this regard. In fact, it has quite a few! The main ones I think are relevant, are;

  • Soulstones
  • Cards in hand
  • Cards in deck
  • Activations
  • Action points (AP)
  • Models / Wounds
  • Markers (Corpse, Scrap, Scheme)

Each of these exists in finite supply. Some can be replenished over the course of the game, others cannot. And in many cases you can trade one type of resource, for another. How well you manage these resources, and how well you can force your opponent to expend his, is probably what separates the very best Malifaux players from the rest of us. You will tend to find, watching a highly experienced Malifaux player, that they are very careful about when they do and do not commit resources. By contrast, newer players are often very careless with their resources. A good example of this might be a relatively unimportant minion, attacking an enemy model where nothing much is at stake. An inexperienced player might cheat heavily from their hand to ensure a hit and high damage. Overall though, the state of the game is largely unaffected. No VP have been scored, no resource has been denied to the enemy. Those cards did not need to be used, it would have been perfectly acceptable to simply miss, or do weak damage, and move on. Another example might be burning cards and soulstones desperately to keep a model alive, that has only a tiny chance of surviving, even with the resources being used. A good example of this might be a fully powered up Viktoria of Blood attacking a comparatively squishy Henchman. Sure, I could pour good cards from my hand into trying to force misses, and burn Soulstones to try and prevent damage. But very few things survive a fully powered up Viktoria to the face, and most likely all I’m doing is throwing good money after bad. Better to accept the loss, and save the resources for something else.

Learning when it is worth expending a resource, and when it is not is a huge part of being truly good at Malifaux in my opinion, as is attempting to drain your opponent’s resource faster than you are spending yours. A good example of what I mean, comes from the humble Katanaka Sniper. I like him for resource management for many reasons. For one, he’s an activation I can use early in my turn, without really committing anything, which is handy if I want activation control to force my opponent to commit models into a fight before I react. He’s also very efficient in terms of my hand. By focusing, and taking a shot at very long range (basically clear across the board), he gets an excellent ++ to attack flips, thanks to his innate + flip, and a single + flip to damage. This makes it quite likely he can land a shot, with a good chance of dealing moderate or even severe damage. With his access to critical strike, he can potentially deal as much as 6 damage without my having to commit any of my cards in hand. By contrast, my opponent is faced with a choice. Does he commit cards from his hand and/or soulstones to try and prevent damage from happening, or does he accept the loss of his resources of wounds or even possibly a model. By selecting a relatively weak, easy to kill model rather than a big tough model, ideally one which has not activated, I can potentially remove an activation / model. All for no real commitment of resource myself. Of course, he could still miss with bad flips, but by not throwing cards from my hand into the attack unless there’s a very high chance of payoff, I lose nothing.

There’s a huge amount more on the subject of resource management, I feel it’s probably the most complex of the three topics I’ve touched on here today and one I’m still very much learning myself, so expect me to go into more detail in future on these. Hopefully you’ve found this post at least somewhat useful!

So, I’m not dead.

It’s been a very long time indeed since last I updated this blog, and quite a lot has changed in the intervening time. I used to ramble about Warhammer 40k and Warhammer Fantasy here, neither of which I play any more for various reasons. Instead these days I play a lot of Malifaux, very occasional Warmachine/Hordes and various other games that take my fancy. I also play various video games, so I figured I’d make this more of a general gaming blog, with a slant towards Malifaux since it’s my main thing these days. I’ve cleared out the old, no longer particularly relevant posts mostly in the name of keeping things tidy.

So, to start off the fresh face of the blog, I’m wanting to talk about one of the new Ten Thunders Enforcers, from the Ripples of Fate book; Sun Quiang. I’ve not seen a huge amount of discussion of him as yet, and he looks interesting to me. While models that do a lot of killing are entertaining, one of the things I enjoy most about Malifaux is all the non-killing aspects such as positioning, conditions and their interactions, and doing cool stuff with schemes. And Sun Quiang is definitely all about that. He’s an 8ss support Enforcer, who if we’re being honest is going to be in fairly direct competition with our amazing support Henchman, Sensei Yu for a spot in most crews.

So what does Sun Quiang bring to the table? Well, for a start he’s got some pretty decent defensive stats, with Df7 and Wp6, though with only 7 wounds I wouldn’t expect him to stand up to a determined attacker for too long. You will definitely want to position him well to keep him safe from harm. He has a ton of interesting abilities that I’ll detail a bit more below;

Thirteen Measures: Forcing Wp duels on enemy models activating in aura 4 to avoid slow is pretty nice. Likely wont cause slow terribly often, but it will likely drain some cards from your opponents hand.

Don’t Mind Me: What’s not to like about this? He’s a support/scheme Enforcer and this makes him very useful for a wide range of schemes.

Absolute Sincerity: Possibly a slightly double-edged sword if you aren’t careful about your positioning and activation order, heals 1 wound on all models in (4) when activating. You will want to ensure you maximize your own models getting healed, while minimizing the opposing models getting healed.

King of Medicine: This I think might be one of his best abilities. For the cost of a discarded card, he can push up to his Wk towards any model in LoS that takes damage, and if he pushes at least 3″, he can take a (1) interact action. Potentially a very good use for low cards to get good positioning, and putting down extra scheme markers contributes towards his general theme of being a scheme/support model.

Action wise, Sun has a single attack which is either Rg 6 or 1 melee. He’s on a solid Ml7 with it which makes it likely to hit, and needs only a 6 to meet his target. Resist is Wp. The action MUST select a trigger, and has a ram built in to allow either 2 healing or 2 damage to the target so this adds some nice support to a crew, and also gives the option to administer finishing-off attacks to badly hurt models. I suspect the heal will be the more often used however. Other triggers allow discarding all scheme, scrap and corpse markers in (2) of the target, giving out Aversary, or placing a target engaging him in melee within 6″. That’s quite a toolbox.

His tactical actions are a (1) Ca action to gain a condition that makes all enemy models in aura 4 count as Peons, in addition to their normal station characteristic. This is potentially extremely disruptive to several schemes and strats, and also hilariously would make anything count for Headhunter. His only (0) action targets a scrap, corpse or scheme marker in 8″, to place a friendly scheme marker in base contact with it then discard it. Further adding to his arsenal of scheme-related dickery, and giving him some added utility against crews that rely on scrap or corpse markers.

Overall he has quite a nice selection of tools to make him a very versatile support piece, though you will need to keep him safe from harm as it’s highly likely your opponent will want him dead, and with no defensive tech beyond simply Df7 and Wp6, he’ll go down pretty easily. The obvious question is, how does he compare to our OTHER really solid scheme/support piece, Sensei Yu? Well… they perform slightly different roles. Yu brings some excellent pushes, the ability to hand out fast or slow, the ability to copy your master’s (0) actions, and of course the ability to toss markers around the board with Mighty Gust. (and lets face it, if he’s not in a Shenlong crew, he’s rocking Wandering River Style). Those are probably stronger abilities overall than what Sun Quiang is bringing, however there is the crucial matter of cost. With his upgrade, Yu is 11ss which is a serious investment in a support piece. Sun Quiang is a much cheaper 8ss as he doesn’t really need any upgrades, though he does make an excellent carrier for The Peaceful Waters upgrade, if you are planning on taking any Monks of Low River. Indeed, Sun plus a Monk of Low River makes a nice solid support core for a crew, for a total of 12ss. 1ss more than Sensei Yu, but with greater total support for your crew. (Not to mention, an additional activation).

So is he worth taking? Well, depends on what you’re trying to do and what master you are rocking. It seems unlikely he’ll make it into many Shenlong lists for example, since you will generally want Sensei Yu with Shenlong for upgrade swapping shenanigans, and putting in a second relatively expensive support model is probably too much. He goes well with Yan Lo however, which probably isn’t surprising given his Retainer characteristic (Which incidentally means Yan Lo can take him as a Resser). He brings some nice additional healing to the crew, particularly for Yan Lo himself if you’re throwing him into the opposing crew, and plenty of scheme interactions. He also goes nicely with Toshiro since he can drop scheme markers from his push towards models getting hurt, which Toshiro can use to hand out his Focused + 1 pulse, and Sun can heal up freshly summoned Ashigaru and angry stone dogs.

He will likely compliment well any models that are naturally somewhat tanky, such as those with armour (Izamu, Samurai), or Hard to Wound, keeping them in the fight longer while moving around putting down scheme markers and disrupting the enemy’s schemes. Do remember to put down corpse and scrap markers while using Sun Quiang, as he can target them with his (0) to make them into scheme markers!

I’ve run him out once so far with Yan Lo which worked well, though I need more experimental data to be sure. I tried him in combination with a Goryo, and Toshiro. Turn 1 the Goryo walks, and summons a Seishin, taking 2 damage. Sun Quiang discards a card to push up and lay a scheme marker. He then heals the Goryo in his activation and moves forward. Toshiro and his cloud of minions advance, and he makes the Goryo fast, and pushes it forward 4″. Yan Lo spirit barrages the summoned Seishin to gain a Chi from killing it. Second turn, Toshiro activates early and uses the scheme marker to pulse Focused +1 to all minions, before they all rush off to do Things(tm). All in all, worked nicely. I’ll likely add more info here as I try him out in more crews.