So I have been playing almost exclusively Von shill for my last month or two, averaging about two games a week. In the Outcast Facebook chat we have had a lot of discussion over him and I have been encouraged to write up my thoughts on how to play him competitively in M3E.
*Disclaimer* first of all this was typed on my phone so I apologize if I miss a typing error or autocorrect. Should you find something I missed or perhaps didn’t know, please share! I acknowledge that compared to many who have played since the beta, I have far fewer games to build my knowledge from and every time I try to participate in a tournament life happens and I can’t attend. I also have two kids and a wife + full time job so it can be a challenge to get reps in. I do however view myself in a high skill tier. In M2E I often placed in he top three, many times taking 1st at events at my LGS in GA (before I moved). I have been an outcast main ever since coming to Malifaux in early 2nd Edition. I want to clarify that these are my own opinions based on my own experiences and an immense amount of thought and discussion with the community. You may disagree with my reasoning on some things but I have played the entire keyword, experimented with OOK and versatile, and have even made an effort to play the crew into unfavorable situations to better understand it.
- The Playstyle of the Freikorps
So first of all I want to talk about how the Freikorps feel while playing them and define their playstyle, particularly in the faction.
The Freikorps are a badass group of highly trained soldiers, perfectly outfitted to adapt and survive if you like having the tools for any job, this is the crew for you.
The Freikorps, in my opinion, are the epitome of “adaptable.” They are a crew that rewards you knowledge of the game and your opponents. They aren’t a fancy crew but they are indeed a “deep” crew. They take time to learn because you need to know what it takes to counter and out maneuver your opponent.
Their identity in outcasts is highly durable, elite, and adaptable. They are great for schemes and starts that require durability. They also have a highly respectable amount of damage both at range and on Mele. Add in their plethora of blasts and shockwaves and you have a crew that brings a solid killing force to the table. You don’t need massive amounts of Soulstones since you don’t rely on triggers, but keeping 5-7 for damage prevention is very useful.
While the crew is highly flexible, they have some major drawbacks that will hurt your bad decisions more than many other crews. Many of their synergies are close range, making them a form of “bubble” crew. They do have tools and models able to spread out, but this usually leaves the model unsupported and vulnerable. This crew also has a lot of self-discard effects which will tax your hand. If you mismanage that resource or even face a crew designed to choke your hand, you will find the game much harder.
This is a crew that will help you get better at Malifaux in general and reward you highly for doing so.
This crews game plan starts at the hiring step. You will have an average of 8 models on the table (give or take one in corner cases). Choosing these models in incredibly important to building your field tactics and engagements. I will discuss each models separately, but you will be forced to choose what you need for the current scenario.
From there, you will have options in game to hand out the appropriate equipment upgrades to help prepare for any situation. You need to evaluate what you need on what models to move forward.
In the middle of the game you will need to work through your models with a specific goal in mind. Each piece in your crew will have an important role and making sure you use them to that intended purpose is important. I will cover your general plan during the game. This plan adapts and changes so I will be general in my descriptions.
- Turn 0 goals (Deployment)
Here is a moment where you have to identify your game plan. Your schemes and strat will show you how you need to deploy and where to focus. The most efficient method is to find a way to positions centrally and move towards the flank as a group. Where you move depends on scoring goals and the enemy positions. You want to be able to get a couple early picks and threaten a zone of the board.
- Turn 1
Here you have two main purposes:
Load up on equipment upgrades where needed
Position according to your plan of attack
- Turn 2-3
These turns are scuffles and have the important part of your planing. If you laid the foundations properly these turns set up for your win.
- Turn 4-5
Thesr are the critical turns to secure yourself final points and deny the opponent. At this point equipment should be given out sparingly as the actions needed are likely put elsewhere. Von Schill transforms from support to attacker.
Now all of this is vague and difficult to imagine, but it’s a necessary flow. You need to determine a plan early and execute it properly.
• Reckoning: a strong choice for the crew since you bring solid killing power, high durability, and fewer models to take advantage of. Be careful as Arik and Hannah can be bonus points should they get take out.
• Turf War: my favorite crew for this strat as the area control works quite well to take the center board. Again, fewer models to kill and they are highly durable. Use land mines to help create choke points and punish certain routes.
• Plant Explosives: This one is less favorable to The crew as it calls for more splitting up than is ideal. Still totally doable but it’s harder. You need to use rocket boots to propel your scheme runners into good positions for it.
• Corrupted Idols: decent for the crew since you have a lot of solid healing to counter the damage. Controlling the initiative is rough as it taxes your hand and that is rough on this crew.
• As a killy scheme, this crew brings tons of damage to achieve it. Where the biggest boon is is in Von Schill durability. He is a very hard master to get the points off of from this scheme. I will take this if my master isn’t a super hard to put down master.
• Detonate Charges: As a generality, scheme marker schemes are harder for this crew to achieve since there are no efficient ways to drop markers other than interacts. I avoid This scheme if I can. You can tech in the Emissary for the Don’t Mind Me to help with the scheme, but slots are so few I have a hard time justifying the 10 points for him.
• Breakthrough: This one is doable with Rocket Boots, but can be a challenge. I would bring in The Midnight Stalker to help.
•Harness the Leylines: I avoid this one as it takes a lot more spreading out to achieve and can easily be stopped by a crew with more scheme marker tech.
• Search the Ruins: I used to take this but not with GG Season 0, you have to push forward quite a bit more. This is still one of the better schemes that use scheme markers but usually there are better options.
• Dig Their Graves: I personally like this scheme a lot. Freikorps bring a lot of constructs allowing you to deny corpses unless you need one for your own scheme. Also the Drachentrooper can remove corpses where needed. This crew lends itself to kills so you just need to drop a scheme marker near the target. Best to target a model that has already activated so they can’t walk away from the scheme marker. I favor three Prospector here as well As he can also eat corpse markers.
• Hold Up Their Forces: due to how survivable the crews is, this is a good option. The biggest challenge is not accidentally killing the models you are using for the scheme.
• Take Prisoner: I love this scheme with this crew. With Von Schills trigger, “Pull!”, it’s easy to throw the target into your crew. Pride is a great option to include to help shut the model down once they have been thrown.
• Power Ritual: One Word.. Gross. I am not a fan of this in Freikorps because it requires you to completely split your forces. In my experience, I avoid this and hVe easily been able to punish/deny it by targeting one side of the board. It’s pretty easily broadcasted so you can plan accordingly.
• Outflank: While this might be achievable with 2 Scouts deploying From the Shadows, again those models are unsupported and likely removed from the game. Unfortunately this crew doesn’t have cheap models to just throw out of the fight.
• Deliver a Message: another scheme I like in this crew. Often an alpha striking master will let you get the first point easily. Otherwise you can throw them with Von schill and leave them in the middle of your crew (your discretion on if this is a wise choice depending on the master). You can easily drop the couple scheme markers in preparation, but it may be worth bringing a Prospector to drop the second marker closer. Is actually rather hard to have this scores against us as we don’t put Von Schill
• Claim Jump: one of my go-to schemes in the crew. Put it on Hannah or Arik and use Rocket Boots to leap to the center Turn 4. It both keeps it hidden and is usually an easy to achieve scheme. Arik Has the Diving Charge ability granting him greater mobility to where he needs to be. The durability and healing in the Crew also lends well to the scheme. Also, Hannah can bury enemy models to deny it. Throw down some mine fields and you can really secure the zone.
• Vendetta: again a great scheme for this crew. I often use a scout as it is cheaper, good damage, and can ignore many defenses. Scout are generally a model I can protect (will discuss later) so it usually works out well. Against terrifying crews the Freikorpsman works well too. Do be aware we have plenty of target for opponents to choose from but we are hard to damage and lots of healing to it is very deniable.
- The Tools
So first we have to discuss the equipment upgrades as they are a large part of this kit.
• Grenade Belt: Out of all the upgrades this is the most situational. It allows you to force simple duels that may need cheated. You can attack from out of sight which is ok, but not a lot of major points to this upgrade. It’s only function in my games has been for the scheme marker removal trigger. Don’t forget it.
• Land Mines: If going against a non-terrain-ignoring crew (incorporeal and flight being the main ones), this is usually one of the first upgrades I apply. A large strength of this crew is area control and setting up a choke point with these adds to that. Remember that it is “create” not “drop” so there are more limitations as to where you can put the markers. A added bonus is the demise but it’s nothing major and almost never comes into play. A cheeky trick is to put it on Drachentrooper and dare the mele opponent to kill it. It’s a cute trick but that’s about it. I have never put this on a model late game but you might find a use for it.
• Reinforced Assault Shield: One of the most valuable equipment. This will add tons to your durability. Put it on a librarian for extra shielded. Remember that since it only falls off in the action phase, you can use it to soak condition damage without it going away. The action on it is nice but more of a bonus just in case. I use it on my frontline models (Arik or Hannah) but it also is great to keep Vendetta or assassinate targets alive.
• Rocket Boots: In my opinion, the most important upgrade to have out. This adds massive amounts of mobility, particularly to Arik. The leap can be taken regardless if engagement but the value is in the damage potential. Put this primarily on Arik, Hannah, or Von Schill for value.
• Rocket Launcher: Probably the most versatile of the equipment as it can be used for a decent attack with blasts or you can remove cover/destructible terrain. If you want a meme, put it on the Streamtrunk as it doesn’t use any stats off the model. I like it most on the Freikorpsman to keep using it or on the Scout since he ignores most ranged defenses.
These upgrades are very strong when used correctly. It takes time and experience to really understand when and where you need to use them. Also, do not over focus on them. The mechanic is cool but you can lose too much time and actions if you focus too much on them. Use them when needed but don’t get crazy with them and lategame you may not need them anymore.
- The Crew
Now we tackle the models. Each has a role and I will give what they do and where they are useful.
• Von Schill: As the leader of the crew, Freikorps need him early game to get initially set up. He is a master that starts as a support piece, handing out upgrades and various effects. Over the course of the game he transitions into a damage dealer, having a good ranged attack and mele. Looking at his stats, this guy is a beast and is not easy to kill. Being able to take a beating with armor as well as benefiting from healing with survivalist, his will stay alive against all but dedicated attackers. Into his support role, he makes his models nearby take concentrate as a fast action, increasing the action efficiency. Also he can always charge making him difficult to pin down (plus it allows him to ignore terrain). On the back of his card boasts some solid attacks. His mele has a particular trigger that makes him ideal for take prisoner. He can place the model within the range (granting a free shot from an ally) but you can toss an opponent all around easily positioning for take prisoner. His rifle has decent damage that Rezzers hate since it ignores Hard to Wound. At 14” range, do not forget it! His ability to add upgrades has a useful trigger everywhere and I frequently will cheat to grant focus to the model for a very strong attack. Consider using this on the Scout or Freikorpsman with the Crow trigger for some real “umf!” His fast actions are situational but good to have.
• Steam Trunk: a support totem, this guy is another source of equipment as well as a very needed condition removal tool. His starts are typical and low, but armor 2+ means it will take at least 2-3 hits to kill him. Do be careful as he explodes when he dies. I have run him suicidally into an enemy crew to get in the way and threaten them should the kill it. Do not forget his equipment cycling aura! It can help it the right situation, but don’t do it all the time unless you want an empty hand.
• Hannah: the first of our “auto include models” as she brings a bit of everything. Moderate stats by a very high WP means she will be difficult to control. She has Arcane Reservoir adding much needed cards to your hand and counter the hand reduction of certain crews. Her Counterspell adds to her defensive capabilities. She able to ensure the suit she needs without needing it in hand helping card efficiency. Her mele damage is super good before adding in her Crit Strike trigger. Her ranged attack is ok but it’s more about its time trigger, being able to burry models. Her tactical is fantastic as it can target many models in the crew. The most common target is Arik to add +1 to her mele damage (with Crit Strike making her peak at 8 damage!). Overall she brings a ton of things to the table and is a very much needed model for the crew.
• Arik: Often an MVP in my games, our second Henchman brings a lot to the table. He has moderate stats But At armor 2+ he is one of the most durable models in the crew. He is almost immune to blast and pulse damage while also having Diving Charge just like Von Schill. His Gravity Well also gets a lot of value. There are a lot of place effects in the game now and his 6” aura on a 40mm base provides a lot of denial. On the back of his card he has a good damage mele attack with fantastic triggers to either help to higher damage or ignore armor. His grenade is ok, but nothing to scream about. It’s best used either against crews who group up or have terrifying/manipulative/serene continence. Where he turns amazing his his tactical action. Huge amount of flexibility that can punish attackers, do extra mele damage, or add distracted to his grenade (at which point his grenade is really good). Between his area denial for placing and his mobility+damage, Arik is a monster that will be a prime target to remove while also just wreaking havoc. I have yet to leave him at home when I play the crew.
• Lazarus: our big robo-enforcer, Lazarus excels at durability and AOE damage. He is a bit slow but high WIP along with being immune to obeys make him a prime option against control Crews like Zoraida or Youko. He also provides cover to those around him so he is useful vs heaven ranged crews like perdita or many outcast crews. His grit doesn’t always come into play but can be nice when it does. On the back of his card he has an ok mele attack with “Pull!” His main attack is going to be his Grenade Launcher which has a great shockwave attack with 3 damage. Against grouping crews or the heavy defensive tech it can be great. With the trigger, you have a a ranged scheme marker removal tool. His Assimilate action is ok, usually targeting Hannah or Arik. It’s fun to target enemy constructs but that is situational. He is a great tech pick but not in every crew.
• Drachentrooper: Low walk but high WP make this model ideal for holding an area. He is a tech piece when you need marker removal or condition removal (distracted, slow, staggered). His attack targets MOV so it can bypass a lot of defense. I don’t take him as often as I want to but he is a great counter piece to certain crews.
• Freikorps Engineer: one of our support models, this model increases the survivability of other models while providing some extra utility. They have average stats but they have Tools for the Job, making even the low cards in your hand useful. Her attack is decent, but she can ignore armor and if she kills a construct she drops a scheme marker. A basic but good ranged attack makes her good even at range. Her tactical is the big part of her kit. She adds extra shielded, heals, and cycles a card while targeting a Freikorps construct (usually Arik, Hannah, or Von Schill). She makes it into many of my lists and is never a bad model to have.
• Freikorps Librarian: another model I consider “autoinclude”. She brings decent stats, good durability with built in shielded, and can get reliable triggers. She has no mele, but her ranged attack has good damage and the trigger draws a card. She can provide mobility to other minions, but her real value is her healing. Great straightforward model that I never leave home without.
• Freikorps Scout: personally I love this model but people debate him. He has moderate stats but his value is in his attack capabilities. Don’t fall into the trap of using From the Shadows to put him way out of position. Instead use it to put him forward in an advantageous spot to threaten a zone. His ability to ignore the main positional defenses (cover, concealment, and friendly fire), makes his attacks very reliable. He gets a stat boost attacking models that have gone already so you are incentivized to not use him early. His mele is nothing special and it’s better to use his tactical action to get out of the combat for free. A great piece you need to learn how to use.
• Freikorpsman: the basic grunt that has average everything, stats, attacks, etc. His tactical can be clutch, but you don’t always use it for the discard can Tax you harshly. Where he shines is with the equipment. He can take damage to keep the equipment on him after use and he heals very easily. He is a great all rounder and I always look if I can use him.
- Versatile and OOK
this is a crew who can barley afford a versatile model so I am of the opinion that you do not go OOK. The crew has enough options that you don’t really need to. We do have some great Versatile options though.
• Midnight Stalker: if you have a pool than needs mobility and scheme running, he is a great choice. I have a hard tim picking him in this crew since I like picking the other style of Schemes with him.
• Prospector: my go to model to counter Breakthrough. He is a very strong models and brings good utility to the crew. He is my main method of dropping scheme markers. I am willing to go down to a 4-stone cache if I use him.
• Hodgepodge Effigy: I personally prefer this to the Emissary, but people’s mileage may vary. He is cheap, has a nice heal, and is a significant scheme runner.
• Hodgepodge Emissary: I do not like this model due to opportunity cost, him being 10 stones. But others have used him a lot. He provides regen to help increase durability, don’t mind me to help scheming, and boosts healing and mobility.
• Hans: This is a model I look at when the Ruthless is needed. Great range, damage, and utility. He is he scout in steroids.
• Pride: A great denial piece I love to bring when I either need to be defensive or if I need to inhibit a specific model without killing them. I tend to crutch on him in my other crews but in Freikorps he brings a very specific role.
• Johan: decent model that brings condition removal. I have found that there is enough condition removal in keyword that the one or two you can’t remove are not crippling. If you feel crippled by conditions then he is your go to model.
As far as general upgrades, I don’t like many in the crew, but have experimented with Hired Soldier and Servant if Dark Powers. Both I find being unnecessary, but can be useful. I many time just prefer the soulstones instead Of the upgrade.
To end all of this, here is a sample of a “general” list with no opponent or schemes in mind. I hope this wrote up helps give insight into much of the depth of the crew as it is one that will reward you the more you play it.
Freikorps core (Outcasts)
Size: 50 - Pool: 6