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Teaching a new player Shenlong


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I recently bought a friend a Shenlong box and a few Ten Thunder boxes to get him into Malifaux.  Before I told him I was going to buy him stuff he said he liked Shenlong the most.  While I don't regret buying him Shenlong I see now he has a steeper learning curve then I thought.  So I have a couple of questions. 

First here is a list of models he owns:


Sensi Yu

Monks of High River *3

Peasant *2

The Lone Swordsman (his favorite model)

Katanaka Sniper *2

Samurai *3

I also have a Mei Fang's crew so he can borrow anything out of that I am not using.
1.  What is the easiest way to teach a new player how to use Shenlong?

2. What does Shenlong excel at?  I want to choose schemes and strats that benefit him early on.

3.  I play Arcanists.  Which masters does Shenlong have a strong match up against?

4. He doesn't really have the ability to buy his own stuff right now but his birthday is coming up and I wanted to pick him up something then.  I was thinking Tengu for running schemes.  I was also considering Ten Thunder Brothers if they are out by then.  Out of these two which would you prefer?  Or is there other models he needs?  I plan on picking up the Rabbit and Turtle that they spoiled a few weeks ago so he will have access to an Izamu The Armor when  I get that.


Thanks for your help guys!

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1) The easiest way to teach somebody Shenlong will just be practice, and pullmyfinger/the threads on him on this forum. Practice is first, just like learning any game, and Shenlong is not easy, as you've noticed. Shenlong has a lot of little tricks, especially with Sensei Yu. Your friend shouldn't expect to pull off all the combos straight away, but they're worth knowing, once they get a grounding in the game.

2) Shenlong excels at, well, kind of whatever he wants to. He isn't a ranged damage dealer, and even his melee attacks are just average for a master, but he can get :+fate on damage easily with Fermented River Style, and he does have some potentially amazing triggers. That said, for me, he's best as a support master. Pushing your crew, giving them fast, removing conditions, and healing them for absurd amounts of wounds are what he does most often for me, as well as pushing scheme markers around wherever they care to be.

3) I'll put Shenlong up against any master in the game. While your friend is learning, though, just do what you'd always do with a new player. Don't summon 6 arachnids in a turn with Ramos, and don't let Colette order Howard to kill his whole crew in one swipe.

4) For me, the most indespensible additions to Shenlong's crewbox are 10 Thunders Brothers and Yin. You can't go wrong with tengu, Izamu, Toshiro, the shadow effigy, or illuminated either. 

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1. Do your prep before the game. It is important to have a grasp of what he can do and the timing or requirements of his abilities or actions. I would recommend that your should start out with throwing around two upgrades between him and Yu. Might be hard to get the whole set up/prep stages early, and if you don't do it properly it will lead to inefficient play. 

2. He excels at support, board control, and killing targets (preferably henchmen and masters) that has been softened up by something else. He can tank away pretty good if Yu got Low River Style while he is sporting Misdirection. 

3. As tomjoad said, play a bit nicer while your friend is learning. Once he gets the basics of the game and a pretty complex master you can take the gloves off. 

4. TTB would be a great buy, fantastic models for Shenlong. Shadow Effigy is an outstanding filler. Tengu are great runners. 

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I just bought him aswell.

I have a decent selection of ten thunders other models

What would you reccomend as "lerner" upgrades for his crew/models?

I read them all and everyone says he does most things, and games where he never even fights, but to get the basics of him down, what would be the best focus?

OR possible a solid 50 point crew to learn how he works?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Leaning to play Shenlong is mostly about getting a good handle on the possible things he can do, and remembering quite a bit of stuff! Help him out by reminding him things as you play along. Key ones for me as I was picking him up were;

1) Remember the 'Shenlong phase'. After flipping initiative, but before activating he can either force a Peasant to take an interact, OR he can take a (0). Remember to do this every turn!

2) Keep track of conditions. Both he and his crew (Looking at you, Yu!) work heavily off conditions, so develop a good way of tracking who has what.

3) Upgrade swapping. Knowing what options you have, and when each upgrade will be good and planning ahead for this is key for Shenlong, especially remembering that you can swap upgrades onto Sensei Yu. Do you need pushing with slow/fast and moving markers around? Do you want healing? Is it time to amp up to a 3" melee range and kick some blasts and burning around? Will drunken kung-fu benefit you? This part I found takes the most practice to get good at, but can REALLY pay off.

There's a few models that go real nicely with Shenlong I've found.

Ototo and Izamu can become a nightmare when you can push them around to get them where you want them, make them fast, and heal them.

The Dawn Serpent is hilarious with Shenlong. (Make it fast, focus for a (0), unload with either of it's attacks and get +1 to dual total with Yu nearby!)

Samurai, Thunder Archers and Katanaka snipers all benefit hugely from being able to focus for a (0) action.

I've found that Shenlong is primarily best used as a support master with other pieces to do the beating for him, but with the right setup, he can lay down some hurt. Also worth remembering is that if you have Promising Disciple on Sensei Yu, you can get a double use of recalled training. Start it on Shenlong... then when you use it, attach it to Sensei Yu ignoring restrictions and use it again!

Shenlong is a lot of fun, just needs a good bit of practice.

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