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Nick86

December Acolytes - I'm doing it wrong

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Hi guys,

Just begun using the December themed stuff in games recently, and although I love it all thematically and model wise, I just don't seem to be getting the best out of the December Acolytes. They seem to die quickly and generally I find it difficult to line up good targets for them. How do others use them? Any good tips or general rules?

Please note I'm not saying they're bad, they are in fact excellent, I just can't seem to work out their best role in a crew. Thanks

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I think December Acolytes suffer because they are bonkers good for their points. The reason why the probably don't last long is because they absolutely MUST die and anyone who has been on the receiving end of them will go to a great length to see them go down as fast as possible. 

My advice would be to not let yourself get carried with "from the shadows". Putting them out in front is just asking for trouble unless you can put them in a very protected spot. They have a good range on their attack, so you can play them further back and allow the rest of your army to get into the thick of it before committing them. 

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From the Shadows is a trap more often than not. If you find a good spot a few inches ahead of deployment, go for it. Otherwise don't use it because it puts a single model out there with no support. That's easy pickings for your opponent's crew. Doubly so because they are such a massive threat, they have to be taken out.

Secondly - they're best shooting at stuff with Df4 or less, so big beaters. Don't worry about damage overly much, what makes them good is causing slow and discards. My favourite targets are flesh constructs. Heaps of wounds and low Df, hitting them lets me burn through my opponents hand. If they have to cheat in a high card to avoid being hit - same effect. One of their high cards is gone.

Lastly - don't underestimate focus. It's the only way to hit things in cover and with cpfocus their absurd damage track kicks in more often as well. I focus at least half the time with a ranged model because it does two things - makes it less likely I have to use a card from my hand to hit and it lets me cheat the damage flip. Focus is good. Focus often.

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Love using them as a prompt target for Collette. If they go and you prompt 2 times, that's a possible 4 cards your opponent has to discard and several models with slow (given that all are in the acolyte's range)

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I believe the majoritt of thier problems come at deployment (and who deploys 1st/2nd). If your deploying first, I normally aim to be placed a maximum of 6" away from your own deployment, and always have them hugging a bit of cover.

This should hopefully mean your set up to shoot anything your opponent wants to double walk turn 1, you have cover from enemy ranged attacks, and with raspy you can move them out and forward if needed as an ice mirror (if theres no threat from opponent to tie them up).

As said above, aim for low defence to ditch cards, and control the game from there.

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7 hours ago, Sordid Strumpet said:

Don't worry about damage overly much, what makes them good is causing slow and discards.

Apart from the root case problems of greedy deployment, this is the best advice. Slow opponents with no hand are much more manageable.

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1 minute ago, angyi said:

Apart from the root case problems of greedy deployment, this is the best advice. Slow opponents with no hand are much more manageable.

While this is absolutely accurate it is worth noting that the damage track isn't too bad on these guys (2/4/6) for their cost. So often (maybe even usually) it'll be better to shoot at two models and give them both slow. Sometimes it'll be better to concentrate on one and just take him off the board entirely. Acolytes can do either based on the situation. 

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I never look at Acolytes has heavy damage dealers at look at them for the slow and discarding cards.  I use them mainly for the slow part.  I try on turn one if I deploy second to put them in a spot where they can hit two of my opponents models so they have two models with slow.  This can be very card intensive and I do not always have the cards.  I just like to make my opponent slow to set the momentum of the game in my favor.  I like them to live till at least turn two.  I make sure where i deploy them they are not getting killed turn one.  Second turn I once again try to slow my opponent by this time in a Raspy crew Raspy is in range to deal her damage while some of my opponents models are still sitting back because they have lost two AP.  The ones that moved forward are now victim to Raspy

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I have put the Acolyte to good use targeting support-models in the backfield which you often cant reach. With the decent dmg track you can down for example a Nurse in one go. 

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On 3/31/2016 at 11:31 AM, Winterscook said:

I never look at Acolytes has heavy damage dealers at look at them for the slow and discarding cards.  I use them mainly for the slow part.  I try on turn one if I deploy second to put them in a spot where they can hit two of my opponents models so they have two models with slow.  This can be very card intensive and I do not always have the cards.  I just like to make my opponent slow to set the momentum of the game in my favor.  I like them to live till at least turn two.  I make sure where i deploy them they are not getting killed turn one.  Second turn I once again try to slow my opponent by this time in a Raspy crew Raspy is in range to deal her damage while some of my opponents models are still sitting back because they have lost two AP.  The ones that moved forward are now victim to Raspy

Hi! Do you use more than one quite often? I can see how one can be useful in various crews (I have Raspy but I play mainly Colette) but not sure about two or more!

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On 2/3/2016 at 7:18 AM, Mrbedlam said:

Love using them as a prompt target for Collette. If they go and you prompt 2 times, that's a possible 4 cards your opponent has to discard and several models with slow (given that all are in the acolyte's range)

Sadly now Colette can only prompt anybody once...:(
Do you ever happen to field more than one with her?

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Depends on the list I'm running. I have a Frozen list that I run with Colette that runs 2 of them, 2 Silent ones, Cassandra, and a gamin that is a lot of fun. 

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I use them for two effects.

 

When with raspy I am using snowstorm and I am prone to attacking once with them and then using their once action to ignore armour and such. Snowstorm can then move up and 8 action to bring them into range for the aura.

 

Attacking is good for discarding cards but also now with a lot of positional plays needed that pull can work wonders.

 

I also use them with my kaeris crew, I know not very thematic but I just love them, in that crew I use other models for pushing such as angelica or the captain. To keep it alive I never go to far forward and I use purifying flame to heal or maybe a silent ones heal.

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With what @Starrius said: turning off armor.

My first time running into December Acolytes across the table from me was my playing Mei Feng into Rasputina when I still was relatively new with Mei Feng. My opponent was relatively new with Rasputina, but knew how to run a blaster. He hired three of these Acolytes and put them in cover as close as possible to my deployment zone. One of them survived to Turn 2. Raspy's Turn 1 Ice Pillars had forced most of my crew to end up bunched up. The surviving Acolyte put up Smell Weakness and crept in close enough to cover my Rail Workers, Metal Gamin, and Rail Golem; Raspy arced her attacks into my bunched up crew and deleted most of my force, ignoring their armor outright.

 

More experienced me, playing Mei Feng when I expect horror and/or armor and Hard to Wound (especially in the form of Undead and/or Constructs), I have a solid reason to include an Acolyte in my crew. It does with 1AP from the Acolyte what Hard Worker does with a (0) and a card from each affected Foundry model; with the bonus of affecting non-Foundry models. Being able to hand out slow just for hitting a model is also a good way to help up the denial game, provided my opponent's beaters are not immune to conditions (or slow). In any case, if I'm using their attacks, the card stripping is also useful. If I'm winning and I have the trigger they're going to lose the resource one way or another.

In short: Rail Worker keeps the (0) for positives, gets positives against constructs/undead and immunity to terror from being near Kang, and the Acolyte lets him ignore Armor and Hard to Wound.

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I've learned to be super conservative in placing Acolytes when my opponent has models with Lure or similar effects.

Don't get me started on Rotten Belles...

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2 hours ago, H4ml3t said:

I've learned to be super conservative in placing Acolytes when my opponent has models with Lure or similar effects.

Don't get me started on Rotten Belles...

That's the key thing I was finding out when I used one in a campaign:
Deploy too far forward and they will be targeted and killed as soon as your opponent realizes their threat (as early as first activation of the game, if your opponent has ever faced them before). Play them back a bit so that they're shooting into where you want the fight to be (main effort, Turn 2ish) and they last longer and can get support from your crew (and be in range for Ice Mirror) much faster, without forcing you to play a hyper-mobile crew.

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I find them more useful outside a Raspy crew than in one.  In a Raspy crew you already have a lot of ranged attacks, so more range isn't inherently as useful as it is in some of the less range focused crews.  In Malifaux, mechanically speaking, attacking at range is weaker than attacking in melee.  Quality shooting is better as a garnish than the meat of the meal. 

I've had a lot of use from them in Colette and Sandeep crews, from prompt and an Ice Gamin with Commands in Wind respectively.

IMO the Acolytes tend to do better as a specialist, hired in specific situations.  For example I like them in Stake a Claim to kneecap their runners.  They can also get a lot done if you expect the enemy to go for an alpha strike, hitting one or two beaters with slow can force them to attack you in two waves, or give you the charge, which can be a huge advantage.

The other advantage of shooting is it tends to mean you can blink last in a standoff.  Opponents tend to be reluctant to sit there and get harpooned indefinitely. Very useful in Bounty or Reckoning. 

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whilst smell weakness is good, it does mean putting the acolyte within 6" of the target, which can often result in a dead acolyte as they dont stand up well to being attacked.

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7 hours ago, katadder said:

whilst smell weakness is good, it does mean putting the acolyte within 6" of the target, which can often result in a dead acolyte as they dont stand up well to being attacked.

You can work around this.

 

I've been using December acolyte with kaeris and the captain. The push from him or maybe agelica allows for some good set up.

Snow storms 0 action to place a frozen heart model in base to base contact works well for this too as you can place it then charge. 

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9 hours ago, katadder said:

whilst smell weakness is good, it does mean putting the acolyte within 6" of the target, which can often result in a dead acolyte as they dont stand up well to being attacked.

There's a couple things to bear in mind here:

  • December Acolytes have 8 wounds and a decent defense. It takes something with some quality attacks to delete one in a single activation. That's something with quality attacks that's not going into the main threats in/effort of your force. If your December Acolytes are too far forward, it costs your opponent little to nothing. If that Acolyte is near your own stuff, your opponent has to figure out their risk tolerance. Having armor and Hard to Wound turned off is bad, but if there's stuff that can give itself positives or that has good min damage or can trigger for additional attacks that's near enough to threaten the target with melee, offering up a quality target to things that can tear it down is also bad.
    Now take that same scenario and have a Blessed/Luther or Snowstorm nearby with the Sub Zero upgrade. There ends up being no such thing as a good decision to make regarding the Acolyte and the forces it is enabling/supported by.
  • If you're putting up Smell Weakness and are looking to get in close, you have threat vectors that can reach things that are relying on armor and hard to wound. All Smell Weakness is doing is making it so that you hit harder.
    Now I'm a janky and chaotic sort of player and the only Arcanist Mei Feng player in my meta, so I don't just bring one trick up my sleeve. What Smell Weakness does for me is make it so that Hard Worker Kang and his cadre of Rail Workers don't have to pick between (0) actions for maximum impact. It also makes it so that I don't need to worry about choosing between a trigger for an additional positive or a trigger to ignore damage reduction when my Shastar Vidiya Guard dives in. If my opponent decides to go after the already activated December Acolyte with something that could potentially kill it outright in a single activation, they're ignoring the things that were planning on exploiting the sudden loss of defensive tech.
    Let's say you're not doing this, but you're using other things like Ice Dancers and Silent Ones that can get some serious damage spikes if they pop moderate or severe. Your stuff is still in range to threaten. You might not delete as many models in the turn as you hope, but you still pulled a quality model's attention onto the Acolyte. That's a model that's not tearing down your main effort, even though you'll still have to worry about armor and negatives on wounding as they apply.
  • If you're putting up Smell Weakness and are looking to Ice Mirror or otherwise use ranged attacks against your target(s), then you do need to worry about the Acolyte being dead. Or buried, or controlled into a position where it's no longer providing any useful effect. This is unfortunate, but it is also because the effort that the Acolyte was supporting was looking to engage from a long ways away, leaving the Acolyte out by itself. Of course, your opponent still had to put some effort into doing that, and that effort may have exposed something to your shooters. If you still need to bypass the Hard to Wound ability, you end up needing to focus. It happens, but as a matter of course, you probably want to have your shooters focus anyway to overcome the inherent weaknesses of shooting when it comes to cover (one of the mechanical things that weakens shooting over melee as @mythicFOX mentioned).

I mention the pulling a quality model's attention because it truly matters. My first run in (described in an earlier comment) with December Acolytes was using a Mei Feng Armored Core kind of list. Mei Feng used her activations in the first two turns to kill two of the three Acolytes. By the end of Turn 2 most of my crew was dead to Raspy's blasting things that were in the Smell Weakness bubble. The only thing I could have done with the board state to not have this happen would have been to play Mei Feng the way I do now: supporting with Vent Steam and hoping that I could reduce the number of effective attacks against my main effort until it was time to dive in and kill things. I got distracted with the idea of trying to kill them off, and that left me exposed when I fell short of killing all three of them.

The recommendation I would give is hire the December Acolyte to add an element of control to your force. It can hand out slow (just for hitting), strip cards (on a crow), or even pull things out of position (on a ram). Any AP spent killing it outside of killing schemes is AP not spent scoring or setting up to score (so Hunting Party, Collect the Bounty, Head Hunter, etc. end up being a different story). If your opponent has things that rely on armor and/or Hard to Wound, you have a means of turning that off if you need to. If you need to, then plan for it. Use it for isolated targets that have already activated or are hobbled by slow (this is where the control game comes into play, slow a target at 12" away, drag them 6" in, now they're really in trouble). Have a serious enough threat that's in range to exploit that isolated target. Don't plan on it surviving more than a turn within their own threat range to the opponent's crew. As has been mentioned by several of us, people who understand the threat of and whose crews are vulnerable to the December Acolyte will go to some trouble to kill them as soon as possible.

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