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Countering summoning engine crews

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I'm very new to Malifaux in terms of games. After a recent painful experience getting absolutely clobbered by Kirai, and with the apparent dominance of Nicodem crews, I'm keen to figure out how to beat summoning crews with Neverborn masters.

My first thought was 'alpha strike'. One generic option might be taking Serena Bowman and loading up heavy-hitting enforcers with Warped Reality. We have a few that can really dish out the pain (Mature Nephilim in particular) and can leave a hefty dent in whatever they go after. I thought Lazarus might be particularly good too, thanks to his damage reduction and ranged blasts. The downside is that it's a fairly straightforward strategy, our enforcers aren't the most resilient, and if you deploy first it's probably getting countered. If it doesn't work, you're probably done.

Something similar could also be done with access to lots of pushes. With Mr Graves and a Doppelganger, we can fling an extra model forward quickly. My concern is that anything short of Nekima won't be adequate alone, but even she is quite vulnerable when unsupported.

Another variation might be using a lot of Lures to pull models out of the summoning engine area and kill them off. I'm not sure how viable this idea would be.

My last idea was Lilith with 2 Terror Tots/other fast cheap models and 2 big hitters, with or without Serena Bowman. The upside is that you're not locked into an alpha strike, and none of those models aren't things you would only take to counter summoners. The downside is that it's resource intensive: you need 2 9+ cards, plus Soulstones for each that isn't a Mask, and that's just to set it up - you still need to hit stuff hard enough to break the summoning engine. Maybe the pressure will be enough if the turn-one hit doesn't work - I lack the experience to be an effective judge.

I initially thought Taelor might be worthwhile as a counter, but she's very slow. Also, if I understand the tactics correctly, by the time they're summoning models, it's often too late. She'd be a good speed bump, but maybe not enough of a pre-emptive striker.

Any thoughts, comments or suggestions for any Neverborn master against such crews are more than welcome. I don't have Lynch, Zoraida, Dreamer or Collodi, but I'm sure I'm not the only one struggling against summoning engine crews.

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Titania with audience and royal indignation more or less ignores minion damage, which is what ressers summon, place them with audience (preferably in a terrain marker from emissary) if you have fgf on her they will die quite quickly. Also most summon crews don't have more than one big beater, so there's not much that can hurt her.

Getting Aeslin within 6" of their master and put on -CA aura will also ruin their day, if you can keep her alive.

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Just a thought, I might try this myself, but if you can get Lilith in range, use Tangle Shadows on the Master, then target Nekima as the friendly within 6', drop her into the mass of summons with FgF and cause havoc.

I know Resser masters have higher WP's than the average master, but if they are preoccupied dropping those severes on summons, or other flips, Lilith could make it happen.

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Philip and Sebastian are wp 5 so it could be possible to swap one of them for Nekima if they don't have MLH. Instead of a card draw they now have an angry model with black blood within striking distance of the master. Perhaps a bit hit or miss but significantly easier than shifting Nico with wp 7.

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IMHO there are no "general" solution of this problem. The ways to counter depends exactly on what summoner you face.

For example, against Nicodem, who uses corps markers, all kinds of corps-eating stuff is usefull - like Emmy with Titania's Conflux or Grootslang. Also Hannah with her dumpering field and Grootslang-stolen teleports can make his summon much harder. So the perspective combo is a Hannah+Grootslang+Emmy leading by Titania.

While against Kirai, for example, this list can face lot of troubles - in form of near-anyone ignoring armor. But I used Lynch crew against her - and manage with her spirits-rush.

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After a couple of activations corpse-pooping the Nico player can turn them all into mindless zombies which counters any corpse removal you have so it's important to get in there fast and stop that. If Hannah can pop up near the summoner and survive that should mess with their summoning game. If they have a belle from the start they can probably lure their master out of her 4" aura though.

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3 hours ago, INXVI said:

Just a thought, I might try this myself, but if you can get Lilith in range, use Tangle Shadows on the Master, then target Nekima as the friendly within 6', drop her into the mass of summons with FgF and cause havoc.

I know Resser masters have higher WP's than the average master, but if they are preoccupied dropping those severes on summons, or other flips, Lilith could make it happen.

Behold My Glory would work much better than FgF, otherwise there's nothing stopping them from attacking other models in range or getting carried away by a Kentauroi to do other things.

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One advantage Neverborn have is that a lot of their models don’t count as ‘living’ so they don’t drop any corpse markers themselves.  If you pressure the summon engine early they can struggle for corpses later.

If you want to try using Lazarus for this, give Lucius a go, since he can use What Lackeys are For to get him up there turn 1. Tuco can be helpful if you have cards for the trigger on his gun; if you’re lucky you can bog down his Belles or Kentauroi and slow the whole engine down.

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1 hour ago, santaclaws01 said:

Behold My Glory would work much better than FgF, otherwise there's nothing stopping them from attacking other models in range or getting carried away by a Kentauroi to do other things.

I was talking about Lilith moreover than Titania, somebody already raised the idea of Titania and her usages, I just offered an alternative. Titania would probably do it better, but Lilith has rooted to keep things in place (assuring the Kentauroi is rooted too)

Lilith's trees could also help keep things to a more confined area. It is not to say they will trap the opponent, but LoS blocking and half movement isn't bad at all.

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1 hour ago, INXVI said:

I was talking about Lilith moreover than Titania, somebody already raised the idea of Titania and her usages, I just offered an alternative. Titania would probably do it better, but Lilith has rooted to keep things in place (assuring the Kentauroi is rooted too)

Lilith's trees could also help keep things to a more confined area. It is not to say they will trap the opponent, but LoS blocking and half movement isn't bad at all.

Oops, quoted the wrong person. Meant to reply to @Angelshard

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@santaclaws01 I can see your point, but I find it highly dependent on schemes, the ideal situation would be titania alone pulling models in, leaving the rest of your crew free to complete objectives and wreck the opposing crew.

Behold has the problem that ressers, generally, have a high wound count, so you'd bog down titania and, after one or two models, can't place anymore in emissary terrain. Fgf means they die faster, so you can pull new models into hazardous terrain. I'm not that afraid of a kentauroi pulling them out. That is a lot of investment to give a punk zombie or oryo an activation. 

In my opinion, behold is better suited to force a model into an awkward situation where it has to charge titania or waste it's activation (or even better just can't attack) and generally I don't combine it with audience

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7 hours ago, Clockwork_Fish said:

If you want to try using Lazarus for this, give Lucius a go

Lazarus can't be hired my Lucius because he is part Guild

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Every "Engine" crew and every summoner (to a lesser extent) has some resource that they need to make everything go.  Generally speaking that resource is primarily cards and soul stones, but sometimes there's a secondary resource you can sometimes choke off (corpses for Nico).  If you can mount serious early pressure, even if it's obvious, you can cut into the engine's efficiency.

Case in point, Nicodem.   The famous engine crew that's making the rounds right now draws I think 5 cards and gains a soul stone all before Nicodem's turn.  But it takes a bunch of activations to get through all that setup though (5ish).  If you can position a scary beater within striking range of the pit crew, you can force Nico to abort his whole setup and try to summon on what he's got.

 

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5 hours ago, Corwin said:

Lazarus can't be hired my Lucius because he is part Guild

Is this true?  Does Lucius still belong to the Guild faction if he is taken in Neverborn?  I thought dual faction models only counted as the faction they were in and lost there other faction for game purposes.  That's why they can't take their other faction upgrades.

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6 hours ago, Corwin said:

Lazarus can't be hired my Lucius because he is part Guild

lazarus is a merc so can be hired regardless of faction with a merc tax.

 

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4 minutes ago, HydroMog said:

lazarus is a merc so can be hired regardless of faction with a merc tax.

He's special rule "Hate the Maker" says otherwise...

Hate the Maker: This model may not be hired by a Crew if the Crew's Leader belongs to the Guild Faction.

The Question is, does Lucius (or other Guild Dual Faction masters) still belong to Guild if taken in their other faction?

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45 minutes ago, Da Git said:

He's special rule "Hate the Maker" says otherwise...

Hate the Maker: This model may not be hired by a Crew if the Crew's Leader belongs to the Guild Faction.

The Question is, does Lucius (or other Guild Dual Faction masters) still belong to Guild if taken in their other faction?

Lucius, McMourning, and McCabe cannot hire Lazarus no matter which faction they declare. The same goes for the the Freikorps Librarian's healing ability. The Librarian can use the ability  more than once per turn if Tara or Misaki hire her as a merc even if they don't declare Outcast as their faction. 

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Thanks for the comments and suggestions so far. The message I'm getting is that turn 1 pressure is probably the key. Nekima seems to be the model of choice for this in a general sense - she may need a delivery system but we have plenty of ways to do that.

I'd thought Barbaros would be good against Kirai, as her summoning has to target a friendly model and most of the tricks to bolster her crew require the same. Barbaros's Challenge ability should thin out the hand pretty effectively or cause a few failures.

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Problem is that he isn't as effective if its nicodem or Molly you're facing.

The suggestions here are more against ressers summoned in general.

He's still really good though.

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I played Lilith into Kirai this weekend. I have to admit, my opponent is the store owner and was distracted by customers a couple of times and made some mistakes he probably usually wouldn't do. Still, the match ended up being very one-sided.

In order to avoid Ikiryo, I used a combo of tangle shadows and black blood (ability and postule) to kill the summons that popped up. Nekima with Grow and Mature then turned injured Tots into Nephs and Lilith summoned new Tots of BB kills. The strat was Extraction, which played heavily in my favor once Lilith had placed her markers and blocked the path to the informant marker. Anything that was summoned was killed in the same round. While the Rider and Tots did Scheme-running. 

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I had some success with Dreamer, Serena, 2x Matures w/ Warped Reality, Doppleganger, Changling. You can place a Mature at the absolute closest to the enemy and still get Dreamer to him with 1 AP left to give it Fast, then accomplice to it. 

Turn 1 I went first, moved Dreamer up, gave fast to a mature, accompliced to it, it walked to get a charge lane and then hit Nico hard. Nico tried to block second Mature, but I had a high tome for charge through and then landed a RJ on damage against Nico. It was about as best as that could of gone for me. In another game having Dreamer within heal range of the Matures meant I was able to heal, give fast, give playtime, and heal again to full, followed by accomplice .... got 4 free cards from that. 

My favorite version of this list right now (this is really only for breaking the Nico Engine):

Dreamer w/ Growing Up, Otherwordly, Wings of Darkness. Serena Bowman. 3x Matures w/ Warped Reality. (maybe) Primordial Magic.

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1 hour ago, Ox Barrel said:

I had some success with Dreamer, Serena, 2x Matures w/ Warped Reality, Doppleganger, Changling. You can place a Mature at the absolute closest to the enemy and still get Dreamer to him with 1 AP left to give it Fast, then accomplice to it. 

Turn 1 I went first, moved Dreamer up, gave fast to a mature, accompliced to it, it walked to get a charge lane and then hit Nico hard. Nico tried to block second Mature, but I had a high tome for charge through and then landed a RJ on damage against Nico. It was about as best as that could of gone for me. In another game having Dreamer within heal range of the Matures meant I was able to heal, give fast, give playtime, and heal again to full, followed by accomplice .... got 4 free cards from that. 

My favorite version of this list right now (this is really only for breaking the Nico Engine):

Dreamer w/ Growing Up, Otherwordly, Wings of Darkness. Serena Bowman. 3x Matures w/ Warped Reality. (maybe) Primordial Magic.

There are two main problems of such way:

1. If you lost the deployment flip - your opponent shall see, where you deployed your heavy beaters, and is free to place Nico and other crew the way that shell block your charges.

2. Because you don't use Doppleganger, you are vulnerable to losing the initative flip. This is actual for the second variant of list.

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I have been going back and forth on the value of Doppleganger in that crew. Assuming you deploy first and go second turn 1, there still isn't much that Nico's engine is going to do. Other lists will certainly have options, but Nico has a pretty set order of operations to complete the engine.

If charge was blocked by a model I'd most likely either go to a different Mature or give the blocked Mature playtime, accomplice into it for flurry and look for a high tome on the free cards/ plus flips for charge through. I feel it would be hard to block all the Matures with one activation, just make sure Dreamer can get within 6" of all the Matures with 2 AP. Also keep in mind that a fast Mature with a charge lane can wing buffet a blocking model out of the way prior to taking the charge. 

I played against the Nico Engine after my opponent knew exactly what I was doing and with me deploying first. He decided to place Nico at the absolute back of deployment behind a large building, blocking my charges with terrain. I decided to have my Matures kill off the other pieces of his summoning engine and charged through to Nico when finally able to. He was also limited because the shelling up caused his own charge lanes to be blocked. There was some advantage to him turtling up like that, but it caused a bottleneck on his side as well. 

Definitely has its issues and is a gamble to get at that engine specifically, just more flexible than it may appear. 

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3 minutes ago, Ox Barrel said:

If charge was blocked by a model I'd most likely either go to a different Mature or give the blocked Mature playtime, accomplice into it for flurry and look for a high tome on the free cards/ plus flips for charge through. I feel it would be hard to block all the Matures with one activation, just make sure Dreamer can get within 6" of all the Matures with 2 AP. Also keep in mind that a fast Mature with a charge lane can wing buffet a blocking model out of the way prior to taking the charge. 

2 ap for moving dreamer to position. 1 for giving fast - there's no way to give playtime. Or, if you not give him fast, there'll be no flurry - since it isn't engaging anyone. Wing buffet is a 1 ap action that works in a 4" pulse  - so it's useless if taken before charge.

4 minutes ago, Ox Barrel said:

I played against the Nico Engine after my opponent knew exactly what I was doing and with me deploying first. He decided to place Nico at the absolute back of deployment behind a large building, blocking my charges with terrain. I decided to have my Matures kill off the other pieces of his summoning engine and charged through to Nico when finally able to. He was also limited because the shelling up caused his own charge lanes to be blocked. There was some advantage to him turtling up like that, but it caused a bottleneck on his side as well.

Charge through - if we are talking about a trigger on Mature's Nephilim Attack - requires high tomes card, which is also a luck affair. If you have it on your hand, you can make another combo - instead of giving Mature the Fast, you can use in-built masks to push him 6 and make an attack. Then use your high tomes to push blocking model out and charge directly to Nico, making 2 attacks out of his activation - and then possibly chain activate another one Mature Nephilim.

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7 minutes ago, Domin said:

2 ap for moving dreamer to position. 1 for giving fast - there's no way to give playtime. Or, if you not give him fast, there'll be no flurry - since it isn't engaging anyone. Wing buffet is a 1 ap action that works in a 4" pulse  - so it's useless if taken before charge. 

That was offering different options for how to deal with being blocked by a model, so assuming being engaged. Either give it playtime and flurry to hunt for a high tome or give it fast for the wing buffet then charge, not both (just due to lacking AP). Using Dreamer to push it would work but then you wouldn't be able to accomplice, which may or may not matter. If blocked by a model with 3" (so outside Mature's 2") you could try the push or fast to let it move around inside that engagement or to close distance or to wing buffet. Getting a free push and attack then cheating the charge through is a baller move, really like that. Biggest/best part of this is exactly how many options you have even when they know exactly what you're up to. If they make it to turn 2, there is even more options with Dreamer up close to the nightmare Matures. 

This is the best version of an alpha anti-Nicodem list that I've played with. We got a local guy who plays it in a lot of tournaments and I needed a response. 

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