Viktor Ramos is the one of the most efficient summoners in the game, has access to some excellent support auras in his upgrades, and he typically likes to surround himself with lots of Constructs. He’s hard to take down or out-activate, and all it takes for his summoning engine to get a-rolling is a single Scrap Marker. However he can be slow, he’s extremely card greedy (gotta have those 's), and every turn he doesn’t have access to Scrap Markers is one he’s massively going down in efficiency. If an enemy model has a way to remove Scrap Markers then he’s in for a real bad time.
So we're all on the same page here, let's take a look at his card, as per Wyrd's website:
As the founder of the M&SU (the Miners and Steamfitters Union), it’s not surprising he has that Characteristic himself. He doesn’t do anything for other M&SU members specifically, but there’s so much synergy in that group that just being a member is a plus. Moving to his stats, one of the first things you’ll see is his unfortunate Df of 4, but I promise you it’s not as bad as it sounds since all of his Abilities are built around keeping him alive! His Df trigger Repulsion increases his Df for each in the duel and also pushes the enemy away (hopefully out of range if they charged you), he has Armor +2 which is just generally great to have, and his Opportunist Ability heals him 2 wounds each time a nearby Construct is killed (NOT Sacrificed) – and spoilers, that will happen a lot. His other stats are decent besides his hilarious Cg of 4, but if he needs to charge something you’re probably already in a bad spot. The front of his card is admittedly a bit boring, but with it all being defense oriented it’ll take some real effort for your opponent to kill him.
The back of his card is where things get really interesting! One thing that might be a bit of a shock is Ramos does not have a single trigger on ANY of his actions, not even from his upgrades. This means he doesn’t personally care at all about suits outside his summoning and Df trigger. His attack Clockwork Fist is frankly not great, but it does have a Severe of 7 which can give you a sneaky knockout if luck’s on your side. The attack you’re far more likely to be using is his Electrical Fire. It only has a 2/3/4 spread and is Rg 8, but it ignores Armor, doesn’t randomize, and has a respectable Ca 7! His only core (0) is Magnetism, which can only target a Construct but has a Ca 8 and huge Rg 16! On a success it pushes Ramos towards the Construct and does 2 damage, ignoring Armor. He can use this on his own models to zip around without wasting AP on walking, but also gives him an easy way of taking out enemy Constructs. His real bread-and-butter Ability (and the reason he’s so infamous) is his appropriately named Summon the Swarm. This can only be used once per turn, but summons 1, 2, or 3 Steam Arachnids off of a single AP and a Scrap Marker! One Arachnid only costs a 5 and it comes in on 3 wounds, two Arachnids needs an 8 and they both come in on 3 wounds, and three Arachnids needs an 11 and they each come in on 2 wounds (yes, three Arachnids requires spending a Soulstone). You do need to declare how many Steam Arachnids you’re summoning before you make your flip unfortunately, but since this only costs 1 AP his efficiency in summoning is unparalleled in any faction. His final Action is a bit of a “screw you” move, Uncontrolled Detonation. It Sacrifices a friendly Construct and forces nearby models to win a Df duel or take an impressive 4 damage each! Since this is a Sacrifice, the Construct does not drop a Scrap Marker afterwards and it doesn’t count for Opportunist. One EXTREMELY important thing to note is that because of this ability, dropping Ramos into Arcanists is a huge risk – if your opponent takes Marcus, he can use Alpha on Ramos, forcing him to Sacrifice himself!
Ramos has a strong mix of upgrades that really change up how he plays, but they can be a bit pricey as there are three that cost 1ss and three that cost 2ss. Most of his upgrades are pretty support focused, but they have some nice variety in the kinds of support he provides.
Combat Mechanic is his healing upgrade. It gives him Accomplice, letting him Chain Activate into another model after he’s finished which has a few nice synergies, but what you’re mostly taking this for is the Combat Mechanic Ability. This gives Ramos a medium range heal for a Construct, but it spends a Scrap Marker to do so.
Electric Summoning is his summoning upgrade. It gives a single Action but as it’s a (0) it doesn’t compete much with what else Ramos wants to be doing. Electrical Creation summons the explosive model of the same name at the cost of a mid , which comes in at full health. Not huge, but it's not bad if you think your opponent’s going to be clumping up! Just be careful about the cards you're using on it, as this Ability competes for those mid 's with summoning in two Steam Arachnids.
Field Generator is his tanking aura upgrade. It gives the (1) Action Arcing Screen, which gives Ramos a medium ranged aura that gives all nearby friendly models ’s to Df duels. Unlike most of his other actions and abilities, this one is NOT restricted to Constructs so anyone can benefit from this!
Leviathan Power Core is his stat boost upgrade. It has the Ability Powering Up, which gives him the Powering Up Condition every time any model spends a Soulstone (so whenever a stone is used except for cards or initiative), which increases his Electrical Fire’s range by 1” per stack of the Condition. The really exciting thing here though is the Bleeding Off Power Ability, which lets you spend some of your Powering Up stack for bonuses that last through his activation! This can be a to his first opposed duel, increase his Electric Fire’s damage by 1 (min 3 ignoring Armor, pretty nice), give him +1 Ca, or Fast. The value of this upgrade takes a while to get going and relies somewhat on your opponent spending Soulstones as well, but since gaining the Condition is passive it’s mostly just free buffs for him!
Under Pressure is his melee aura upgrade. It gives Counterspell, a small but handy bit of anti-Ca which removes the enemy’s built-in suits whenever they target Ramos. More importantly though, this provides the Overdrive Ability which gives all friendly Constructs in a decent range aura ’s to Ml attacks! If you’re going to be fighting over a small area of the board, handing out a ton of ’s to your attacks with this can be huge value.
Vox Populi is his control upgrade. He gains the short range (0) Shout Them Down, which makes a model count as a Peon until its next Activation (which can really mess with your opponent’s Strategy goals). He also gains the Strike! Action which places two 50mm Markers for the turn that can’t be touching each other or models. These Markers count as Hazardous Severe (but ONLY to your enemies), with a very nice Hazardous damage spread (they are removed if they do any damage though). Dropping two in an opponent’s charge lane gives them two bad choices – charge anyways and take 6+ damage, or waste AP going around them. Win-win for you!
Arcane Reservoir should be considered essentially mandatory for Ramos. It only has one Ability of the same name, but it lets Ramos draw an extra card each turn. This significantly increases the chance of being able to summon 2 or 3 Steam Arachnids each turn, and is absolutely worth the 2ss cost if you compare it to stoning for cards.
If you want to play Ramos as an aura bot, Bleeding Edge Tech or Powered by Flame both significantly strengthen his Steam Arachnids. However, they’re both probably better on other models, as Ramos’ upgrade slots are pretty competitive.
The other upgrades he has access to are okay to poor: Seize the Day, Imbued Energies, Imbued Protection, and Recharge Soulstone can be used with him but realistically there are better options most of the time. Like the above, Recharge Soulstone is good for his crew but you don’t want Ramos himself taking them. Joss is a great candidate for this if you’re not filling him with aura upgrades.
M&SU CONSTRUCT MODELS
Ramos’ personal totem, the Brass Arachnid, is a contentious topic. It has the incredibly powerful Ability Stoke which gives non-Leader Constructs Reactivate at the cost of a high (can you say turn 1 Howard Langston alpha strike?), and the can become built-in for the rest of the turn with his Rewire Ability. One common trick if you have a really good hand is to use Rewire, then Stoke itself, then on its next activation use Stoke on two more Constructs for huge activation control! However, the combination of it being a 4ss Insignificant Peon, having a low Wk, and needing high cards to give out Reactivate keeps this from being an auto-take.
Joss is an amazing Henchman for several big reasons: he has good, reliable damage, he’s extremely tanky, and his Creative Salvage Ability is one of Ramos’ major sources of Scrap Markers. Even if you’re not taking him as your Scrap Marker engine he’s a solid model to take, especially if you’re planning on giving him Bleeding Edge Tech and/or Powered By Flame since he wants to be in the action at all times and having those upgrades’ auras on such a tanky frontliner is very handy.
Howard Langston is an absolute monster in general, and if you need to kill the enemy dead he’s usually the right choice. Especially since the Brass Arachnid lets you do the notorious turn 1 alpha strike or keep him in your reserves and buff the heck out of him with Ramos’ various auras so he can be a danger to your opponent at any point in the game
The benefits of the Rail Golem are the same as Howard, but it needs a bit more setup (a Burning provider and a bunch of low 's). However, if you do then his Locomotion provides your crew with even more damage than Howard can put out (this is the only model in-faction with access to min 5 damage without outside support). He can also carry the Hard Worker upgrade which can buff any Rail Workers you might be taking as well.
Large Arachnids are some of the tankiest Minions you can hire, and if what you want is something to hold down a point for cheap they’re the models for you. They have a trigger in melee that removes the enemy’s Armor which can be amazing in the Arcanist mirror or when you’re facing Hoffman. Like Joss they have Creative Salvage, so they also provide plenty of Scrap Markers for you no matter what they’re killing. Finally, they also eat Scrap Markers and Scheme Markers for ’s for their Activation, which can be great value if you can get them near an enemy Scheme Marker you want to get rid of.
Another contentious choice is the Metal Gamin. These are decently tanky with 4 wounds and Armor +2, they have Ramos’ incredible anti-Construct Magnetism attack (and they share his Ca 8 at it too!), and they have a really fantastic buff called Protection of Metal which gives a friendly model Df 6 and makes it so their Df can’t be changed from that. The downside though is the buff only lasts while the Gamin is in a very short range from that model, so it’s only really valuable to something largely immobile with low Df. They have their purpose and they’re only 4ss, but they’re not for every list.
On the flip side, the Mobile Toolkit is to be taken in nearly every list. They’re a common sacrifice for Ramos’ Scrap Engine and they have some of the best Construct buffs Arcanists have access to (an extra Armor, to Ml Actions, or to ALL damage flips). They also have their Time Bomb attack which frankly a lot of people forget about, and on turn 5 having this suddenly walk up to a bunch of enemies and say “everyone pass a TN 16 Df or take 5 damage” can really stun a lot of players (and blow up half their remaining crew or totally drain their hand)
Soulstone Miners are another one of these models who have some niche value but are great at what they do. They can start Buried and pop out at the end of any Turn (not near an enemy or the enemy deployment zone though), giving them great access to your opponent’s back lines. They have a good Ml attack that ignores Armor too, with a trigger to mess with enemy positioning or get a Soulstone on a kill. What really makes them unique is their (2) Action which lets them hurt themselves to give you a Soulstone. If you’re running Leviathan Power Core, these models can keep you filled up on Soulstones – just make sure you give them a way to heal if you do this!
The noble Steam Arachnid is the bread and butter in any Ramos crew – but usually not as a hire, since they’re so much more efficient to summon in. Their defenses are excellent with above average Df and Wp and Armor +1, but they also make great scheme runners with a great Wk and Unimpeded. Offensively they’re bad, but they can blow themselves up for extra damage, and any models they’re in base contact with get -1 Df and that does stack!
Compared to the individuals, a Steam Arachnid Swarm loses a bit of Df and the ability to reduce the enemy’s Df in exchange for fantastic offense! If they’re half Wds or higher they get ’s to damage and they have a built-in trigger for more attacks at the cost of accuracy. They can also remove all Scheme Markers within 4 or eat a Scrap Marker or friendly Steam Arachnid to do a really good self-heal. You’ll see these less than just spamming single Arachnids, but these absolutely have value in your crew and are a legitimate option to hire.
Ramos doesn’t give any particular synergy with M&SU models, and he also works fine with non-Constructs (just not as well). Some of the other models you’ll typically see in a Ramos crew will include the following:
Amina Naidu is the queen of denial and control and she works great in a Ramos crew. Her Summons Ability can either bring friendly or enemy models closer, as needed, with a trigger to give out her incredible Liable which means the opponent can’t target anyone missing any Wds – like your new summons!. She can also hand out Slow in melee with a trigger to make it so enemies can only target her. She can also permanently make an enemy into a Peon and stop it from doing Interact Actions, which combined with Ramos’ Vox Populi can really stop your opponent from scoring VP. She’s a good model to give Bleeding Edge Tech to, since she likes to be surrounded by friendly models for her auras.
The Captain is the Henchman to take if you think your crew is going to need extra movement (it's pretty easy to take a lot of Wk 4 models with Ramos after all). His Relic Hammer makes him solid in melee, and his Air Burst is excellent at repositioning your crew, especially since his personal upgrade Patron's Blessing (which should be considered a must take) gives him an extra Ca each activation. He can also bring Bleeding Edge Tech, but if you do then make sure you're not pushing any models that need those heals out of its range.
Johan (or Johana) is the only non-Arcanist member of the M&SU so he does take a Mercenary slot to hire, but he is just SO worth it (even with the price nerf)! He’s pretty tanky, he has a (2) Action that heals ALL nearby M&SU models which is just amazing, and he has one thing that is extremely rare for Arcanists: condition removal. His Relic Hammer is really strong as well, especially with his Solidarity Ability that gives him ’s to Attacks when he is near another M&SU model. Just be careful not to leave him within 3” of a friendly if your opponent has an Obey or you’re in for a bad time. He’s an excellent model to have carry your Bleeding Edge Tech to make him a dedicated healer, or give him Well Rehearsed for that good ol’ double Hard to Kill.
Lazarus is the man (or machine?) to hire if you want to drop some blasts on your opponent. He doesn’t bring a lot else to a Ramos crew, but with his Auto-Fire letting him take 3 shots against the same target he can sure blow the heck out of the enemy’s crew at range.
Neil Henry adds a really strong Condition to a Ramos crew – Fragile, which is like a reverse Hard to Wound. He’s otherwise a tankier Rail Worker with a better Ml, the Ability Man Over Machine that lets you discard for more attacks against models a friendly Construct damages, and his own version of Ramos' Opportunist called Better Than A Machine, which is pretty nice overall. Like the Rail Golem, he can also carry Hard Worker if so desired.
Sue is a personal favourite of mine, as he makes it into most of my Ramos crews for two reasons: he has min 3 shooting which is always nice, and also at the cost of a wound he can draw a card each turn! He also has some powerful anti-Ca with his Man In Black Action, which is very nice against caster-heavy crews.
Electric Creations are typically only ever hired if you plan on killing it to start your Scrap Engine. They're not the cheapest, but they are the most fragile of the options to kill (as long as you don't mind them blowing up in your face). As summons they can be very handy, as all their methods of doing damage don't rely on opposed duels - Shocking Touch does damage just for ending their activation in base contact with something, Explosive Demise deals area damage when it's killed, or they can use their Burst Action (needing a high card) to sacrifice itself and do even more damage.
Ferdinand Vogel and The Beast Within each give Ramos something he loves, but you do have to choose which you want each turn. Ferdinand can draw extra cards each turn by ending a Walk near a Scheme Marker, and his Censure Action can give a Vox Populi Ramos crew even more denial gameplay. On the other hand, The Beast Within gives min 3 melee and the ability to drop up to THREE Scrap markers on a trigger if he kills an Armored model, for the highest Scrap Marker generation available!
Rail Workers only cost 1ss more than a Steam Arachnid, have less Df, Wp, and Wk, but gain Hard to Kill, can discard to gain ’s to all attack and damage flips for the turn(!), and get a much better damage spread. They absolutely love having Johan and/or Bleeding Edge Tech nearby to get even more value out of Hard to Kill, and if you can get past their low mobility they’re a great cheap melee option.
Union Steamfitters are another fantastic option for Ramos for two reasons: they have card draw (sort of) in the form of drawing the top card of your discard pile when they activate, but you must discard a card immediately afterwards. If you're bringing the Combat Mechanic upgrade and Ramos ends his activation with an awesome card on top of your discard, using Accomplice to pick it right back up is very useful! They’re also the ONLY model available to Ramos that can create Scrap Markers without killing models. It does cost you 2 cards from your hand though, so it’s not something to do too much. They can also permanently give Armor +1 to your Armor-less models, such as Johan. Overall, a solid choice.
TIPS & TRICKS
Law of Conservation of Mass? Never Heard of It
It’s important to remember that all it takes to start Ramos’ summoning engine is a single Scrap Marker. Honestly it’s kind of hilarious how many models he ends up making just from that one Marker! There are plenty of options to get that first Marker though, and frankly they’re all pretty good so it comes down to personal preference. Your options are: the Union Steamfitter at the cost of their (0) and two cards, Joss / Large Arachnids at the cost of any model killed (two Scrap if it was a Construct), and The Beast Within at the cost of any model with Armor killed if he gets a trigger for two Scrap (three Scrap if it was a Construct). If you choose one of the kill options, your best choices are: Mobile Toolkit for the cheapest option, Electrical Creation for the easiest kill, or a Steam Arachnid for a moderately easy kill that doesn’t blow up when you kill it. All of these have pros and cons, and no one option is inherently better than the rest.
They Keep Coming... and Coming... and...
One of the most important choices Ramos has to go through every turn is whether to summon any Steam Arachnids, and if so how many. Since you have to declare how many Arachnids to summon before you flip (and you NEED to spend a Soulstone on a Tome to get three), you really shouldn’t leave it to chance. If you’re not certain you can get three Steam Arachnids, declare two instead. It’s typically not worth it to only summon one, and that should only be done if you absolutely need the activation.
Big Things Have Small Beginnings
It can be a hard thing to decide whether you would rather have three Steam Arachnids or a single Steam Arachnid Swarm. Losing out on two activations, the Df debuffs, and (if you’re playing Aura Ramos) giving up a lot of force amplification is a hard pill to swallow. However, the Swarms being able to wipe out bunched up Scheme Markers, getting ’s to damage when above half health, having a much better damage track, and the ability to heal themselves all makes them legitimate choices.
I Herd U Liek Auraz (best with Amina Naidu)
One thing Ramos can do that’s not seen elsewhere in Arcanists is to just cover your crew in a ton of beneficial auras. Any crew can take Amina Naidu, Bleeding Edge Tech, and Powered By Flame, but only Ramos can add Field Generator and Under Pressure to that. All of that combined means that even a tiny Steam Arachnid becomes very tanky and can actually put out some decent damage, and in your full crew becomes a huge force amplifier if you choose to play it this way.
Ride The Lightning (requires Leviathan Power Core and Soulstone Miners, best with Johan and/or Bleeding Edge Tech)
One of the coolest things to come out of Wave 5 for Ramos is Leviathan Power Core, which actually gives him the ability to go a bit “super-solo” and be really awesome in one specific direction each turn – if enough Soulstones get used. To make sure that happens, you can bring one or more Soulstone Miners and have them use their Action Mine Soulstone to constantly feed you new Soulstones to spend. To keep them from dying turn 3, bringing Johan and/or Bleeding Edge Tech to heal them up will comfortably give you 10+ extra Soulstones. With that much spare, Ramos can really go to town with his Electric Fire and give it some pretty wild range! Since he only needs to spend Powering Up +2 to gain the +1 damage to Electric Fire, you’re not giving up much range for the turns you want him to start killing things too.
Tyranny of the Masses (requires Vox Populi, Amina Naidu, and Ferdinand Vogel)
Ramos’ other new playstyle in Wave 5 is all about shutting the enemy down. Amina can permanently make enemy models into Peons, stop enemies from targeting anyone but her, stop them from targeting anyone missing wounds (friendly or enemy, this shuts down healers very well!), and lets you trade cards for Soulstones when an enemy Interacts near her. Ferdinand’s “It was self-defense!” trigger giving to enemies when they target Minions makes it absurdly hard for the enemy to kill your Steam Arachnids, and his Censure being able to stop enemies from taking any Tactical Actions on its card or upgrades, or making them discard any time they want to attack can really screw with the enemy’s gameplan. Lastly, Vox Populi giving Ramos the (0) Shout Them Down is just amazing in several ways. You can make an enemy model into a Peon until the end of the turn, stopping it from scoring, or you can use it on a friendly model the enemy’s about to score on and deny them points that way! It retains its other level in addition to Peon, so it won’t stop something like Buried Treasure, but you’d be surprised how many Strats and Schemes specify “non-Peon.” One of these on its own can be annoying, but bringing all 3 makes the game hell on your opponent – especially since this can comfortably happen while Ramos gets his Arachnid engine going effortlessly!
Let's Start A Riot (requires Vox Populi and models with pushes/places/Lures, best with The Captain, Lazarus, and Malifaux Child)
Ramos' Strike Markers are really excellent damage, but a smart opponent's not just going to walk into them if there's an alternative. So to fix this, you can have your other models push or lure the enemy models into the Markers! The Captain is the best at this, since his The Eye of the Storm Ability does mass pushes with no resists, but anyone else who can move the enemies (Amina Naidu, Lust, Performers, etc.) can do this just fine. If you take the Combat Mechanic upgrade then you can Companion straight into these models as well. Making this even better, if you decide to take the Malifaux Child and Lazarus then they can each drop another set of two Strike Markers, for a total of 6 on the board at a time! This can really make it hard for the enemy to move without dealing with Severe and the really good Hazardous damage.
As you can tell from all of this, while Ramos may seem like a fairly simple Master between multiple “once per Turn” abilities and a pretty dull card front, he actually has several interesting and legitimate playstyle options which all greatly benefit from him being the most efficient summoner in the game! If you know of any model synergies or tips & tricks I haven’t mentioned above, feel free to post them below