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These are my notes on Youko Hamasaki as I play her. This is not a competitive guide--I'm playing in M3E as a casual player, so while some notes will talk about time, it's a not a note of encouragement for the kind of play where you plan on not finishing, but pointing out something relatively obvious (for the context) that is a reality of playing in Malifaux's competitive setting. I post here so I can access my own notes from any particular device and to provide a below average player's perspective on playing the master and trying to utilize her. It may be a nice starting point as there's very little literature on the master and may provide an evolving view as I continue to play M3E as long as I do. There will likely from time to time be better content to get ideas on how to play Youko as a master, e.g. Third Floor Wars when they eventually do a deep dive. Assuming TFW doesn't update it's deep dives, however, then this may provide additional insight as the model pool grows. Comments are welcome, to which I'll try to respond and/or account for in updating my thoughts in this main post. As a note, if you're reading this, you probably already know about her in keyword primary mechanic, and since these are my notes that I'll (try to) regularly update, I won't go into what Leverage is., what her front of card abilities do, etc. That also goes for some concepts of her crew as they'll (probably) be implied by what I write here as I update. Additionally, I did not play during the beta for M3E, and because I didn't buy the TT book when everyone else was on first release, I don't have it nor extensive access to known, unreleased models. So I don't have a full grasp of all options, and thus models that may be very popular may not be mentioned much because I just haven't had a chance to really review them--my primary method of reviewing models for consideration is through the publicly available card .pdf files, which don't include models like kabuki warrior. Basic View of how Malifaux M3E works: Because Malifaux largely relies on a 54 card deck with shuffling to determine most results in player interactions, it is inherently a game of chance. Thus, mechanics and play styles to maximize favorable probabilities should often yield more success, by extension more wins, provided overall strategy and situational play is roughly the same strength as the opponent's strategy and play. The primary source of variation in this game comes from the fate deck. The fate deck mechanic is largely, IMO, categorized into 3 major components, in no particular order: (1) the control hand; (2) the flipped cards; and (3) deck manipulation, e.g. simple knowledge or actually changing cards. Any mechanic (currently) related to the fate deck modifies the game by changing one or more of those three mechanics, usually just one. Which one is "more" influential in any given game will vary primarily based on crew composition, then on play that is executed to at least partially address one of those three categories. Every crew in this game more or less needs cards to be higher than the average 6-7 at some point. If we all had our way you'd have all the cards stacked from highest to lowest value order with your hand containing 13s, the red joker, and a 12 of your choice. But, since that isn't very likely, you want to play in a way that maximizes your ability to use the cards that come from your fate deck in any of the three ways they do, because the fate deck is critical to your crew succeeding in accomplishing your in game objective and/or denying your opponent achieving the same to secure a win. This leads to the bookend thought that fielding a crew that can majorly influence at least one of the three categories very consistently will do better. Youko's primary mechanic to address the fate deck is to flip multiple cards during duels with the luxury of more often choosing the better suited card. She additionally has minor deck manipulation for herself and/or the opponent via Youko's aura, and she manipulates the control hand with a world wide hand size limitation. She can address all three categories meaningfully in some way, with an emphasis on flipping more, hopefully better cards. So, she should try to play to that as her strength and build crews and play accordingly. The above is not to say that manipulating the fate deck is the ONLY way to win. There is something to be said for activation control and just having raw model count and/or tricks to effectively achieve activation control, greater than normal levels of action efficiency, etc. Doing these things can also win, and some of these are things Youko utilizes or tries to mitigate against opposing crews. If you can generate hyper activation efficiency, you can often win just by getting points, even if you're mostly tabled by the end of the game. I focus on the fate deck discussion because outside of basic activation control via pass token generation, IMO Youko tends to really focus on making duels better via fate deck manipulation. Just note that non-fate deck related mechanics are in fact important to winning Malifaux and can be a large, sometimes primary factor for winning, but I don't think there is a currently a crew that can sustain > .500 win rate without winning any duels, opposed or simple ones. If you're sustaining > .500 win rate while losing all your duels against competent players, congratulations you're playing the objectively best crew of the game and are about to set the meta. Crew box: Youko Hamasaki: Seems flexible in that you can activate her early and use your high cards to cripple your opponent's control hand early and/or mitigate early activation damage. You can also activate later in the turn to close the door so to speak on any random shenanigans the opponent may have with their last cards, e.g. forcing cheats because not doing so loses a duel, results in the "worse" choice for a pain choices (e.g. blackmail), etc. Wants to be within 6" of a low wp model for bonus action and blackmail with discard aura, other 2 ap being for positioning, focus, etc. Getting 2-3 other low wp models in the area would be amazing, but given she just has serene countenance for defense, seems unlikely. More likely the 1-2 ap will be to catch up to any model that is attempting to outrun her, barring you get off a lure. Very fragile master I feel as her primary defense won't mean much against the high damage output models who get resources anyway to get straight or positive flips, and largely won't mean anything against indirect damage models. It essentially seems to stop trash attacks as most of these types of attacks will largely be within her threat range, either right away for her actions or within 1 AP walk to cover with bubble. Feels stone hungry right now but reps will hone my sense on this. Not particularly rules reliant. Chiyo Hamasaki: Scheme runner and pass token generator. Probably takes 2-3 turns to catch up to barring you have particularly efficient movement tricks or extreme activation control. Back of card seems mostly bad since the crew likely doesn't typically have an abundance of scheme runners, meaning this guy/girl needs to fulfill that role. If you're playing death bubble and Chiyo is part of it, maybe, but then you have to really lock down a couple low Wp models for Chiyo and assumedly Youko to get any real mileage--that seems too rube goldberg to be worth it compared to just running schemes, generating pass tokens, and having a quick activation. Bill Algren: Beater who will double as a scheme runner/runner hunter. Only source of healing, rescue, and scheme marker manipulation in keyword. Probably auto-include for a while. Great for deterring early scheme reveals which can factor into decision making if round time becomes an issue. His ability to dole out damage isn't amazing, but it's probably above average once the pass token engine gets going. Largely doesn't seem stone hungry given what I read and the available triggers. He's not a front line fighter--armor +1 is not enough and depending on how your meta plays, he's either being healed early (and not tanking to make the heal effective) or healed too late (he's been forced to retreat/out of position and +3 Wds isn't enough). Geisha (3x): Sacrificial lamb pieces for the most part. One of the in keyword lures and has one of the few in keyword movement tricks you can play with when using trained ninja. Pretty much a distraction piece for Youko as it provides a 2" aura forcing negative flips on Wp duels, enabling Youko heavily and other Wp duels. Currently I feel you have to run at least 1 to escort Youko, and I will start experimenting with 2x, though I'm unsure as to how to work the math for 2x just yet. 2x also seems a little costly for two models that won't effectively scheme run (without trained ninja) and largely serve as cannon fodder and/or Wp auras that the opponent cannot afford to ignore too long. Crew building: At this point there aren't many in keyword models, and most of my core crew currently comes from the box. A nice thing about that though is getting reps in will yield a great deal of knowledge on what she needs for the core as I refine it and what her pain points are in each strategy and scheme (S&S) set. I have seen people describe her as a control master with a crew that will largely not kill much and mostly run schemes while preventing the opponent from scoring their own points. I'm unsure I agree with this, given my impression of how TT worked in M2E and my understandings/impressions of the models available to Youko. She basically gets beaters in melee when in keyword, excellent beaters at range when looking out of keyword (OOK), and support for those beaters otherwise. That's not to say she doesn't have access to scheme runners--they're just currently not good. In keyword, she currently has effectively two choices in keyword: bunraku and kunoichi. The former is much more straight forward, but lacks oomph to contest other runners/runner hunters and their defensive capabilities are lackluster considering the bonus action is to ping 1 for a 3" push, which sometimes won't get you far enough to drop another scheme marker in the same turn and hurts for ~18% of the health pool with no realistic ways to heal mid game barring unusual circumstances. The latter seems better suited to playing around the outskirts of the main engagement area while asserting and/or maintaining advantage, but doubles as a scheme runner with less idea defensive abilities than a bunraku. But, as a runner hunter she offers more consistent oomph and the ability to counter scheme marker schemes with a 3" re-position trigger in an environment where engagement ranges max out at 2" for the most part. Bunraku will likely be the primary scheme runner choices in the cost slot as is in addition to the free Chiyo, providing what seems to be the average "2-3" models that run the more schemy schemes instead of the killy ones. With my understanding of general numbers and some of the crews I've faced/read (mostly read, so take this with a huge grain of salt) at this point, I would probably re-purpose a henchman/enforcer into a runner hunter who runs schemes for the solo point, sometimes second point. This would likely only be an effective strategy in situations where time was particularly important, but may be worthwhile if my thoughts on what Youko's score range is are correct. I also add that a second master with high mobility like McCabe may do the trick, but it's an expensive trade-off. I think Youko is actually a mild control master who largely employs a larger than average front line of beaters with several largely independent control pieces to score 4-6 points while denying the opponent points. The literature I've read on these forums favor Hinamatsu and Fuhatsu, and I largely agree both are great as they play into Youko's primary mechanical advantage: playing favorable probabilities and pressuring the opponent's control hand. Youko's keyword, however, leaves scheme running a thing to be desired currently, and my take on her "core" crew currently is fairly expensive without a ton of room to play around. There is a caveat to that statement, but based mostly on my understanding, she doesn't favor running interaction heavy,schemes, e.g. most scheme marker related schemes. she prefers schemes you can get mostly passively while eliminating high impact models so that she can re-purpose her models into VP denial in the mid-late game. Her beaters are great at getting in range for their raison d'être: beating people's faces in. She isn't the greatest at killing on paper until you start getting the pass token engine going, but once the engine activates, likely turn 2 in tournament, turn 3 in casual games, basically everyone is burning through the deck and should largely hit above average, generating control hand pressure and inciting inefficient actions. With that, my current core crew is as follows, with the mentioned caveat to follow. The core costs 26 SS for 6 models Youko--free Chiyo--free 2x Geisha--4SS Bill--9SS Huckster--7SS (tax included) I originally had Hinamatsu in the core list--I now think she's less of a core, and more of a comfort pick because of her melee attack's reliability. I previously posted I had a caveat, which led into a discussion on swapping Bill/Hinamatsu. I think now you default to have Hinamatsu's 9 stones for her, Fuhatsu, or other suitable model while Bill more regularly stays in. He'll often be needed because he's one of the few models that can gain AP efficiency via cost-less Fast, and he's one of the few models with a reliable eject action--the anti-scheme marker trigger is icing. With the remaining stones, I generally want to hire to the S&S pool. At this point I feel Youko is very limited, as she wants as many in keyword models as possible so leverage has more noticeable impact, but most of the models are slightly over costed for their role. I think Youko will often have to build the crew with split groupings to score roughly 4-6 points per game while denying points to the opponent to achieve wins. I don't think her options, barring high variance one way or the other in game (e.g. flips), provide her the tools to consistently get 7-8 points per game as Youko has a lot of trouble scoring high on strategies and will have issues in the marker/position heavy rule book scheme pool. Typical non-core hires I currently factor in are: Charm Warder--has a variety of abilities that are situationally useful. Bonus action can poop on crews that depend on long term deck manipulation. Chi synergizes with leverage engine. Only model in keyword that can generate irreducible damage. Glass cannon though so wants to stay out of heavy fights--better for clean up and forcing awkward positioning. Doubles as a runner hunter or scheme runner, though not so much the latter. Over costed for most situations, but probably an auto-take in idols where summoners shine. Fuhatsu--former core model, but he doesn't answer scoring points or denying points (very well), which is probably more important than just having a ranged turret. He can help with VP management, but just as often be a non-issue if the opponent concedes Fuhatsu's position as acknowledgement of Fuhatsu's purpose in most games: zoning away from your scoring zone. Yamaziko--Nimble more or less makes up for Mv 4 and means she has a pretty decent threat range for runner and/or sniper hunting. I would hire her for runner hunting primarily, with a mid-late game flank in. If I need another beater, other models suit the purpose better. She just does it well against runners, particularly when they run in packs, but solo ones are fine as well. Hard to outpace so can help run schemes as well, probably just as well as bunraku just based on numbers In a full fight she's a glass cannon, but when she's flanking wide, her one on card defensive ability is massive to prevent drop in shenanigans, especially when paired with trained ninja. Another model where McCabe testing might render her obsolete. But, she's probably better in wedge formation, where three articulated movements is much more useful than having +2" in total movement. There are many more, some of which I've seen suggested, some I haven't. For example, Tanuki is definitely a model I've considered, but I don't include it because I have a preference for models that offer more direct impact and I'm trying to feel out how far I can stretch my resources before I have to hire more models, modify the core, etc. I'm pretty sure the core crew I've listed above is mostly solid, especially for my purposes, and flexible enough that as the model pool grows, I won't feel too restrained as I want to make swaps. General Strengths and Weaknesses: Strengths Youko is a master who'll largely hire beaters. Basically everyone in keyword except the master, totem, and geisha are beaters compared to the equivalent model in that role from another keyword/faction. Youko has incredible pressure in duels to stack odds in her favor via flip probability. This goes for actual opposed duels for your attack actions and generating more favorable odds when defending in duels. An interesting use is also to use leverage to pass simple duels to more easily avoid "monkey wrench" mechanics like terrifying, manipulative, etc. that seek to stop your duels from occurring by putting up a medium-high medium difficulty simple duel as a gatekeeper to actually starting an opposed duel as the attacker. It needs to be said that leverage doesn't just take care of duels--it simply increases probability that you'll do better, so using this is more of a scalpel than a hammer--taking unfavorably lopsided duels because you have a positive flip will yield poorer results than taking similar stat duels and putting pressure on your opponent to react and act, typically with cheats, SS, etc. Where this should shine is taking even stat or slightly advantaged (+1 favorable stat) duels where you should significantly more often win the cheating game (forcing your opponent to cheat first), letting you cheat with knowledge, cheat bait, or just gain hand knowledge or other advantage. Youko's crew gets a lot of its benefits passively. Leverage is completely passive--out of Youko's direct control, but once activated, requires nothing mid-game to obtain. How much leverage does will be based on, in order from greatest to least: (1) how many models have the leverage ability and (2) how you use the leverage tokens. Additionally a number of the models in the core gain benefits without having to do much--Chiyo can camp an uncontested corner generating 3 unimportant activations (himself, 2 pass tokens), Bill heals and gets fast for the opponent playing the game, etc. To the second point above, leverage's mechanic allows Youko to play flexibly between high pressure or disproportionate activation control. She can use the pass tokens in quick activation sequences with high pressure duels, especially when using ruthless model(s) that ignore monkey wrench mechanics like terrifying. Alternatively, Youko can use them to assert activation control to mitigate threats and strike when able, relying on her by default larger hand size and probability with any left over pass tokens to generate pressure. Neither of the above approaches will always be necessarily correct at this time, IMO, though this could change depending on how popular the following are: (1) alpha strike crews; (2) low model count crews; and (3) aura/pulse based death ball crews. If Youko had similar stats as in M2E, she would likely play similar to her "counter part" Nellie, in that activation control would typically be absolutely critical for most of the game given the popularity and availability of strong alpha strike and heavy activation control crews--I don't think Youko would be popular in M2E unless she could generate pass tokens under a summoning mechanic as the rules provide now, but if she could she might have been a decent to better control master. A little thing about leverage also is that if you do not need to use pass tokens, you can save them to effectively ensure winning initiative in subsequent turns. I had a game where my opponent flipped a 12 but I won initiative because I had 4 pass tokens left and flipped a 9, putting me at 13, giving me initiative on turn 4, which was critical for getting my beaters in quickly to assert extra activation control and pressure. Youko is also fortunately not particularly reliant on maps featuring any particular type of terrain or board set up out of the ordinary, assuming you board(s) have sufficient terrain in sufficient variety. She benefits greatly from having lots of LoS blocking terrain as she often has to spend turns 1 and 2 walking for set up with potential strike opportunities, but not to any significantly greater extent than most other crews. She also does not currently have too many unusual rules interactions, so for people who play competitively she shouldn't have too many situations where a particular ruling for an interaction her crew started will be needed. Other crews can be the exception, but knowing how a TO or relevant authority will rule is part and parcel of Malifaux's tournament scene, at least in M2E. Youko surprisingly is probably more likely a 2nd hire master--I hate to say it because she's my only TT master, but at this point I don't see Youko players (vs. TT players) being able to thrive in the rulebook S&S environment barring particularly disparate skill levels compared to their opponents. She sucks for idols and basically has to take OOK models for it (who'll kill themselves for their efforts), turf war is a mixed bag because she can neutralize markers relatively well and quickly but can't convert those neutral markers to points easily, and plant explosives is crippling for Youko to do. She is great at reckoning despite wanting to hire a series of henchmen just because of how stacked duels can get, though YMMV. Ironically despite complaining a bit above about Youko's viability in her "strengths" section, I think it isn't "too too bad" because while Youko will have issues scoring the 3-4 points, getting 1-2 points is pretty manageable and she more or less has the tools to deny that many points to opponents, primarily via killing the people moving in to do so. E.g. in corrupted idols where summoners shine, charm warder can make summoning crews suffer relatively heavily with a fairly wide reaching pain aura, decreasing summoning efficiency or just action efficiency in general. Youko also, at least on paper for engagement purposes, probably has some of the better match ups against some of the more popular/powerful (IMO, based on what I've seen and read) masters. Rig the deck from Lynch is heavily mitigated if Youko can assert her hand control early in any given turn and is possibly not useful if Youko's aura is applied to the model rigging the deck. Tara the OP can suffer pretty heavily because even though she mostly needs 5-7 for her simple duel TNs, her primary engagement model, the void wretch, is the perfect patsy for Youko to dump her actions on. Zoraida can pose issues, but many of her models are also great patsies. Against Molly (IMO one of the stronger resser masters as I understand how they work), many of her models are great patsies and the faded mechanic feeds into Youko's draw engine provided Youko can get proper positioning--many models are also terrifying, but at Wp 7 Youko shouldn't often be too concerned). This isn't to say Youko will silver bullet any of these match ups, but rather that Youko can pose a more substantial threat because she can consistently throw monkey wrenches into how they operate just by being nearby--and that's just Youko. The game will largely be determined by other models interacting, but Youko can help greatly mitigate, maybe cripple, some of these master's operations for a given turn because they are dependent on fate deck mechanics that Youko is good at manipulating. I'm including this part last because while I don't think it's something that should be encouraged, it's a real consideration, especially if someone reads this with the thought they may gain insight into playing Youko competitively: she is probably a monster for playing to time in timed environments. Opponents don't want to reveal schemes super early because a leverage engine netting 6+ pass tokens on top of natural pass token generation a turn means I don't have to do anything before most/all of your crew has activated, but not doing so could mean that playing to time wins you the game with how scheme VP are scored in M3E. If your goal is to win within the rules and your opponent leaves themselves vulnerable to a win by time, you can take the opportunity. Alternatively, if your opponent reveals at least one scheme early, you are essentially playing a more powerful crew than normal. I say this last sentence because anecdotally I find players locally are revealing schemes turn 3, meaning Youko would get a 2 turn leverage engine. I'm sure there will be some backlash to the above paragraph, but timed environments bring a new factor into the game and my background in gaming is typically competitive, so my thoughts are to think of whatever min/max strategy within the rules will win. Malifaux is one of my few current leisure activities where I don't want to be in the competitive scene, so I won't do this personally, but it's worth mentioning because people may look at this and think the same way and/or play in an environment where that's a normally accepted practice. This is NOT an encouragement or endorsement for "slow play" such that activations are taking abnormal amounts of time for the sake of doing so; doing so is actually against the core book rules in a couple spots if I recall. But, a regular set pace with good record keeping and accuracy double checks takes time and when round times are (typically?) 2 hours, games going to time will often be the norm unless you go quickly through decisionmaking and execution. I hate the "gamer's inch" measurement, but in casual play I don't really care barring it's particularly egregious. The same goes for misplays; I'll retcon my win into a fail if I ignored a negative flip by mistake even if that would lose me the game because I'm not particularly invested in winning casual games. In timed play, typically competitive, however, I will often double check accuracy, measurements, etc. I don't want to be an ass about it in not trusting my opponent, but people misread cards and letting things go through without checking actions/abilities work the way they're being used can be game losing. Malifaux is a massive game as far as player options, making studying and internalizing all player options a massive, unreasonable requirement; it is thus reasonable to read my opponent's cards and check for errata/rulings. For big ticket issues, e.g. M2E's interaction for Carrion Emissary with the My Little Helper Upgrade, checking with the TO is a must and expected, but for all the other issues reading at time of play is reasonable. All of this takes time to do at an effective pace, so playing to the clock is part of competitive play if you choose to make it so. Weaknesses Leverage is currently limited to Qi and Gong models, and will likely remain so. To be fair, if Qi and Gong had a couple more models and either one was a reasonably costed scheme runner, Youko would be pretty high powered. As is though, there aren't many options, and as discussed below, they are mostly over costed for their roles given what they do. This means Youko wants to hire as many models in keyword as possible, which is a weakness as most of her models have counterparts that do what the Qi and Gong version does but more often are better, but the opportunity cost from losing a model with leverage alone, never mind the OOK tax, may make the swap non-optimal. Bunraku are not terrible scheme runners, but there are better ones in faction, e.g. Tengu cost less with tax, but losing leverage will often make the swap a non-starter. Youko really wants the opponent to think twice about revealing a scheme early for two major reasons IMO: (1) the later the reveal, the more scrambling to score schemes there will likely be, meaning likely more lower action efficiency; and (2) in a timed environment, revealing the scheme for Turn 3 can result in major plays quickly or revealing too late means time will run out and deny points by virtue of mistaken planning. It sounds like I'm describing a strength above, and leverage is a strength, to be sure (otherwise no one would play Youko), but to make leverage an actually effective mechanic and threat to the opponent, Youko will typically NEED to hire mostly, if not all, Qi and Gong. If it's not in keyword, there needs to be a lot the model brings to the table.. Youko's (IMO) primary in keyword flaws: (1) bad answers to range models; (2) models with terrifying/manipulative; and (3) high mobility models. There are no in keyword models with good answers to range--virtually all of them are melee centric and the ones that aren't are the master, totem, charm warder, and Geisha; the first two are part of the control engine and don't want to engage the ranged if possible, charmer warder is a niche pick (which is fine, but still not an anti-range model), and the last has to lure to set up beaters. The only in keyword ruthless model is Bill, who plays more as a second entry beater to another true front line model like Hinamatsu--Bill will often get a turn 3/4 heal, but he doesn't really have much in the way of defense, so while he can be the anti-terrifying/manipulative, he has to play around the situation as opposed to just slugging at the enemy. Lastly, Youko's models are pretty slow for the most part, and should encounter trouble chasing down higher mobility targets like enemy scheme runners.. I don't go into the strengths against other crews Youko has because I think it's more suitable for the Matchups section, but I think it's worth mentioning crew types Youko will have trouble against because that's where players like me will need help more. IMO, Youko will more often have trouble against other low model count crews (natural pass token generation greatly increases leverage effectiveness), crews that manipulate pass tokens (e.g. Somer), crews with good healing, and crews with high damage reduction abilities (only charm warder and Hinamatsu can ignore damage reduction, with the former having to go in melee as a sub-par melee model and the latter only ignoring armor by giving up an onslaught trigger). Hopefully future in keyword releases the damage actions are less "big number" (Bill with 3 min, kabuki warriors with 3 min) and more specialized (e.g. an attack that ignores incorporeal only or armor only without triggers that does like a 2/3/4 and doesn't have built in positive attack flips). Additionally, "keep away" crews are almost always an issue. If you listen to Third Floor War's deep dives, some of the deep dives describe crew building for the tournament level as playing essentially keep away with surgical attacks, mostly in situations where you can't do anything. Youko can mitigate some of this with a leverage engine, but in timed environments in particular, it can be rough to get traction quickly/in time. Since "keep away" is typically playing high mobility or a gimmick like Tara's bury manipulation, Youko often will struggle to keep up. At least so far in my play, the general idea before making match up considerations is to pick schemes that allow me to bubble around my scheming "area" to deter the free anti-scheming. The opponent will attempt anti-scheming anyway, but Youko punishing it hard when it happens may prevent it from happening or mitigate/eliminate the opponent's ability to permanently deny those points. Youko leaves much to be desired in scheme running. To be fair, Youko's keyword is not really suited to scheme running, but the rulebook S&S heavily favor having either lots of generic extra actions/out of activation actions or getting into X, Y, & Z positions at various points in the game, all of which Youko's in keyword options are pretty terrible at outside of fighting, e.g. Hinamatsu blender. I am going to test running a 2nd master, specifically McCabe, because he doesn't seem stone hungry for what I need him to do, his totem synergizes very well and serves a purpose the whole game while not drawing massive amounts of attention, and he's fast. Mei Feng requires scrap markers which don't exist for Youko and the forgeling is not a good solo source of scrap marker generation. Jakob lynch without Hungy is a bad range model. Asami loses a lot of her utility in a Youko crew because she'll be a summoning battery that requires healing or she'll kill herself. Misaki and Shenlong are largely self-sufficient except they're stone hungry to get maximum effect from their actions and Youko doesn't want to spend 16 stones for more melee centric models. Finally, Yan Lo takes too long to be efficient for Youko and he really needs a reliquary model to utilize a lot of his own model, making him a 20+ SS commitment. Finally, and this might seem very fatalistic, especially early into M3E's release, but it's here so that I have a reference point as I get more reps in, I experiment, etc. I think Youko, barring particularly useful releases, will likely be a mid-higher mid tier master if you're looking to play competitively, and will be a higher mid tier-high tier master in casual play environments where players aren't running the "in meta" masters with by and large optimized lists. She lacks the options to really answer some of the most common ways people will play in more competitive environments, and this is due mostly to a small in keyword model selection and to a lesser extent OOK options. In most setups she can't "score" turn 1 with 1-2 schemes set to score turn 2, which will likely be more of a factor in timed environments but still a consideration in casual play. Her AP efficiency is about making duels better, but not auto-win, and she still has to win them by and large because she doesn't get many free actions on her models' cards by and large. She is a master that currently leads a crew "honestly" with walking to an area and taking rulebook interaction actions to accomplish interact schemes while charging/shooting at you to accomplish the killy schemes. This isn't to say Youko can't be played, but she probably isn't the best all comer master--more likely a secondary master to pull into S&S sets where her weaknesses aren't easily exploited for a loss. I'll continue to play Youko, at least for now, as my primary master because I want to play in a casual only environment. So, I'll probably maintain a lower win rate if my local meta runs more "meta" masters with optimized lists, but I want to keep model acquisition costs relatively low and starting with a master that has few in keyword choices does that. I could also be VERY wrong about Youko as far as competitive viability--maybe she'll fit very well into it because of how tournament games go in M3E, e.g. time limitations still generally result in 3-4 turn games, so schemes get revealed early and/or playing to the clock is a reality of tournament play. Matchups: To be written. Strategy and Scheme Decision Making: Since we only have the rulebook S&S right now and I've mentioned my thoughts above, I'll keep the strategy discussion relatively short. The scheme section will be more general guidelines because those choices vary more greatly IMO depending on board set up, opposing crew composition, deployment, etc. Corrupted Idols--possibly Youko's worst strategy, with its competition being Plant Explosives. Corrupted Idols may not require as many interact actions as plant, but the self-pings to push are hugely painful for Youko's elite style crews and (IMO) over costed in keyword options for running the strategy. Getting 1-2 points isn't super painful, but getting 3-4 is very rough because of how much irreducible damage her models will have to take in a crew that will not typically have massive amounts of healing. Charm warder/Fuhatsu are probably strong picks because Fuhatsu can heal himself and guard the idols he's pushed while charm warder can mitigate summoning effectiveness. Plant Explosives--competition for idols in going for worst strategy for Youko. Youko has plenty of models to carry two bombs, but few of them are good choices to spend their AP just walking and interacting. Fuhatsu can be great for protecting dropped markers, but to put two down takes him 2 turns. Bill is one of the best suited among the non-minions, but he'll probably be needed to provide back up to Hinamatsu so she doesn't get in over her head. Also without cute movement tricks to start planting markers at the end of turn 1 or start of turn 2, it becomes a big decision to either set up scoring the strategy versus denying positioning/points to the opponent. Turf War--probably the most neutral strategy for Youko. What makes this strategy better or worse for Youko will be the scheme pool and the opposing crew. If it's another elite crew, Youko is probably happy at playing for her 4-6 points and playing the denial game. If it's a summoner/action efficient crew, this is rough because Youko can neutralize markers easily enough, but she's terrible at converting them to her side. Reckoning--probably the strategy a TT player would pick her for, with the other 3 being auto-excludes for Youko as a leader. Beating people down is what Youko wants to do with her crew, and she supports it mind, body, and soul. It can be risky in a "race to the bottom" sort of way with her favoring hiring a bunch of henchmen as her in keyword beater options, but they have some resilience. Fuhatsu I feel is particularly effective because of how powerful his zoning can be, which can turn the game from a competition for X out of 8 points to X out of 4 points if the opponent doesn't have a good answer to Fuhatsu. Hopes for future models: Please Wyrd, if anyone involved in model design reads this. Give Youko a real scheme runner. A 6 cost scheme runner with a critical strike trigger and 1 damage self-ping push for 3" at 6 Wds is bad math.-Armor +1 and building Df stat on trrigger are not the defensive abilities we were looking for Kunoichi is not a scheme runner--she's a skirmisher. Chiyo is the only real in keyword scheme runner and relying on child labor leads to bad things. Kabuki warrior is great for fighting, when it releases but Youko is in no short supply of melee beaters. If not for her amazing leader only ability, I'd say she should always be a 2nd hired master because her model basically supplements any crew she goes in. Alternatively, errata leverage so it starts turn 2; then no one will complain about lack of in keyword ranged models or scheme runners. Having to wait until Turn 3 at minimum to use leverage is a huge hit considering this game favors having the most critical interactions start turn 2 and tidy up halfway through turn 3. It's nice to have +6 pass tokens on someone, but if I'm toeing engagement starting turn 2, I'm definitely in it by turn 3, at which point my pass tokens are almost exclusively going into duels because hey, I've got way fewer models and I need to decrease that differential if I want to have a comparable number of actions to score points. TL;DR Youko is a beat down master--her own model is a control model, but her in keyword models are pretty much all melee beaters, and they beat good by having Youko soften up your opponent's hand so they need to Yugi Moto the heart out of their cards, but you stack the odds against them with leverage for critical duels or set up counter-strikes with activation control via pass tokens (possibly on the latter--I've never been able to do it). She suffers from generically high costs in keyword compared to equivalent models in the same roles from other keywords/factions, so she'll need to hire out of keyword options, making crew building difficult, to make up for her largest weaknesses of running schemes, dealing with ranged attacks/manipulation, and getting into position without losing threat presence by spending beater actions walking into position. A second master hire may be the answer, but that's more or less a stop gap solution until more models come out. Youko is likely a better "pocket" master for particular situations where she doesn't have to go out of her comfort zone much, but she can likely be played at all levels to some effectiveness because her playstyle and mechanics have ways to capitalize on the realities of playing in timed environments by playing to time or casual environments by trying to kill enough to win by a small to medium margin.
Hello, greetings! You made it through the title! Long time lurker, first time topic starter. I've been thinking about this painting blog since Youko was revealed in the M3e beta. I've got a few project blogs scattered around the internet from when I was heavily in to [REDACTED], but even though I'm a long time Malifaux fanatic and complete convert this is my first cohesive painting blog for Wyrd stuff. This will be pretty comprehensive and be the base from which I keep track of the project on Instagram and Facebook, and will probably be interrupted at random by other painting stuff. Enjoy! A LITTLE ABOUT ME Started playing and painting [REDACTED] in 1993. I have won a few painting prizes. Began Malifaux in 1.5 with Raspy, played through 2e. Crews built: Rasputina Lynch Viks Brewmaster Kirai That list USED to be less of a hot mess, but they took my Brewy away from TT Unbuilt stuff: Well, see for yourself: Seems fine. I can quit whenever I want.