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Molly Guide Part 2: Card Advantage


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And here we have it, part 2 of the Guide! Part 1 can be seen here.

Managing your hand is one of the hardest parts of Malifaux, and it can't be taught in a guide. But I will try to convey enough here to give some understanding, which can be built upon with practice in actual games. I'll cover some basics before moving on to advanced tactics:

  • Punisher mechanics
  • How to draw cards
  • Allocating cards
  • Advanced tactic: card advantage

Punisher mechanics

There are three main ways to punish your opponent's hand size.

  • If they have too many cards, you draw from the Gorgon's Influence, since when Molly activates you draw until your hands are equal.
  • If they have too many cards, Crooligan's attacks become uncheatable for defenders.
    • Night Terrors also ignore resistance triggers allowing mask triggers more easily, but this is niche.
  • If they have too few cards, disturbing story punishes them - Molly can do up to 3 irreducible damage for missing cards.

Now most opponent's will drain their hands a bit to deny Molly's card draw. This puts a bit of pressure on the opponent's hand, but by itself that isn't enough. That's where Disturbing Story comes in. You can also punish them for having hand sizes that are too low. That puts tons of pressure for you opponent to have exactly the right hand size - IF Molly is somewhere she can make use of Disturbing Story.

Placement of Molly is key. You need to always be in a position that she can walk and Disturbing Story twice if an opponent is too cavalier with their hands.

Savvy opponents will often default to about 4 cards against Molly. Then her attack only does 2 damage, and we can't draw THAT many cards unless our hand is completely empty (at which point they might go a bit lower). However, don't forget that if they're on four cards and cheat against disturbing story, and you'll end up doing 3 damage if you win!

Below we'll see some of the techniques for manipulating both your own hand and the opponents, so you always have the right hand size to do the job.

How to draw cards

The Gorgon's Influence is the strongest source of card draw. In short, you can punish your opponent for having more cards than you, because when Molly activates you draw up to have the same number of cards as them. Against less skilled opponents, you can drain your hand and get free draws up to six sometimes, but usually opponents will control their hand size at least a little to deny the card draw.

Getting even 2 cards off the Gorgon's Influence is already a tremendous advantage, but in some cases you may need more cards. One technique available is to use the Necrotic Machine's Strange Behaviour ability to force cards back into your opponent's hand - just be careful to time this when the top of their discard pile is low cards! Then you accomplice into Molly, and your opponent has no chance to respond - you just draw tons of cards.

A few things to note. First, you can cheat the Strange Behaviour flips even if you pass them, and same goes for the bonus action to heal (sometimes on a model on full life). This helps get your hand size even lower before you draw more cards. In this way you can ditch a few 4s and 5s for more card draw. Second, this is terribly punishing to your activation control. Recall from the Crooligan Guide that Molly is all about getting last activation in many cases. There is a tension between activation and this insane card draw that must be managed.

Since Necrotic Machine and Gorgon's Influence cannot always be used, there is also Lost Knowledge on Molly. Now this is a master's action (and sometimes a cheated card) to draw two cards, but often it is worth using Molly as a 'battery' to supercharge the rest of your crew by drawing tons of cards with her.

The Whisper is another good source of cards. If you put it on Molly, being able to plan out your Lost Knowledges is much stronger and often saves cheating a card. The best possible upgrade for the crew is a Whisper on Molly.

Lastly, there is the Crooligan's forage ability. Unfortunately the timing of this often works out that you're drawing a card you just discarded to By Your Side, but it is still an extra card in hand.

One final note: don't be greedy. Molly's crew is all about being as efficient as you possibly can. Don't use two cards when one would do. A properly designed Molly crew will take advantage of every single card it can get, whether a 1 or a 13. Wasting cards is very punishing to the crew. It can be tempting to fix this by drawing extra cards to compensate for waste. Just don't waste cards in the first place. Molly's actions are incredibly potent, and losing them to draw cards at the wrong time can lose games. 

Typically you want to be quite generous with drawing cards on turn 1. After that, most of the game you should be happy if you can get four extra draws in a turn (although if you see an opportunity or it all lines up, draw more).

Allocating cards

Right, so what do we do once we draw all these cards?

Well, one relevant consideration is list building - you can build elite crews that are more card hungry than other masters can support. But that is part 3 of the guide. Let's talk about what can be done in game.

At all times, you should be aware of where you ideally want all cards in your hand to go.

With Molly, more than any other crew, you have to plan out how you're using your hand in advance. This is split into two phases:

  • Phase 1 is before Molly activates. At this stage, you're pretty cavalier with cards - Molly sometimes draws 6+ cards on her activation, so draining your hand before she activates is fine.
  • Phase 2 is after Molly has drawn her cards for Gorgon's Influence. After this point, every single card is precious.

So you often want to plan out your activations so that certain card hungry models go early in the turn before Molly - BUT there is a tension in that often card-hungry models prefer to activate late. Activation order is constantly a tricky thing, and requires lots of practice (I may make it part 4 of a guide as well). As a general tip, if a model activates early, it needs to end its activation somewhere safe.

Here's some examples of things that require a card, and you should be mindful of that throughout the turn:

  • Crooligans By Your Side takes a card.
  • Archie's Leap takes a very specific card (4+ masks)
    • Often your timing for Archie's activation will come down to whether you have the mask before or after activating Molly. Careful not to let him go somewhere dangerous if he activates early!
  • Rogue Necromancy benefits from a discarded card to ambush and gain poison (but does not have to Ambush to be effective).
  • Dead Rider requires a 6 for his bonus action.
  • Molly's bonus action can burn up to two cards to hand out focus.
    • Realistically I never give out more than two focus in a turn, and even that is a bit too card hungry.
  • Molly's constructive criticism can take up to two cards (one to discard, one to cheat)
  • Lost knowledge can take a cheated card.
  • Necrotic Machine's bonus action requires a 5
    • And strange behaviour has a TN, but typically you're using strange behaviour to power up your card draw so I don't count it.
  • Other TNs in the crew (like Manos leaping with a 5)

So I'm looking at my list for the upcoming Vassal game, and there are a whopping TWELVE cards I want to use per turn if the flips don't go my way. And that's not even counting cheating offensively or defensively!!

It isn't at all efficient to actually use all twelve cards, but sometimes the flips don't go your way. At this point you have to decide when something is REALLY worth a card. Is it worth healing Archie if he is just going to die anyway? Maybe yes, maybe no. Is it worth discarding a 13 to a crooligan? Maybe, but I probably could have managed my hand better before that point.

Throughout the turn, have an idea of what is mandatory and what is optional. The most painful thing in the world is to skip leaping on Archie so you can save a card for something else. But sometimes it is the right call.

Perhaps my most famous example of doing this was when my second master Kirai was hit by the execute trigger and I had no soulstones. I looked at my hand of cards, realised they all had a job to do, and let Kirai die. To me, a Kirai with 3 health left was not worth a card at that stage of the game. Plan ahead!

Advanced Tactic: Card Advantage

All of the above is about drawing and using cards. But there's a deeper level to all this.

Why do we want to draw cards? So we have an advantage over our opponent. Having more cards opens up a lot of doors.

When we have more cards than our opponent, our cards are more expendable than theirs.

A phrase you'll often hear me say in Vassal is "I'm going to make you work for it" and then I proceed to cheat like an 8 on initiative, or a duel, or whatever. The idea behind this is I either want to win the flip, or I want my opponent to be down a card. To my opponent, cards are precious. He gets a mere 6, 7, or 8 cards a turn. Mighty Molly can have 12+ cards a turn if she needs to. Forcing my opponent to play an 8 to beat my 8 means they have lost more than me, simply because cards are more expendable to me. So if they don't cheat, I win the duel. If they do cheat, I win the war for cards. Either way, I'm winning.

I don't tend to do this with severe cards - they are too valuable and can swing games. But often with moderate cards - especially in phase 1 before Molly activates - my cards are more expendable than my opponent's, and I am happy to force them to work for something I know they want to happen. This is extremely different from Reva, where my cards are far too precious to waste on a duel that I end up losing anyway.

Eventually you'll run your opponent out of gas, and that is when you can truly hit hard. If you've saved some high cards, at this point you can just tear them apart with Archie, Dead Rider, or whatever beater you have in the wings.

Always be mindful of the relationship between your hand and your opponent's hand, and when you can gain small advantages even if you can't force winning a duel.

Another thing to consider is the option of forcing your opponent to have the right hand or lose. For example, sometimes I'll look at a situation and think "the only way English Ivan gets a summon off on my Molly is if he has a 13. I don't believe he has a 13, so I'm going to make him have it and play out my severe card. Always be prepared to lose these situations and have a backup plan, but occasionally you just shut down your opponent's turn and their hand isn't good enough.

With Molly drawing so many cards, you are almost guaranteed to have a better hand than your opponent (unless they're playing a card draw crew too). Make them regret bringing such a crew.

Here's an example where even I am not yet playing at this level:

Assume you're against an opponent, and the only way this turn goes badly for you is if their Willpower 5 beater kills your Archie when he is going to charge in close to the end of the turn, right before a Crooligan teleports to him. How should you be cheating in duels? Everytime you can force the opponent to use a 7 or higher, you are forcing out one less card they can cheat to hit Archie's terrifying duels. After they cheat their first two moderates, maybe all they'll have left is severes.

I am currently at the level where I can do this generally (draining moderates), but not yet at the level where I can plan so precisely that I know I'm looking specifically to drain 7+s or whatever. So I have some work to do.

I hope this part of the guide has been useful! It is an incredibly difficult topic, and mostly just has to be done through practice, practice, practice. I hope this sets a foundation and points you in the right direction!

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37 minutes ago, Maniacal_cackle said:

However, don't forget that if they're on four cards and cheat against disturbing story, all future disturbing stories that activation do more damage!

Does it mean the damage for disturbing stories is decided before the enemy cheats? 
if he has four cards and cheats (down to 3 cards) but still looses the duel - how much damage would he get? 

 

btw. not completly through your post yet - but its awesome! thx for the work you are putting into this
 

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Just now, doubleW said:

Does it mean the damage for disturbing stories is decided before the enemy cheats? 
if he has four cards and cheats (down to 3 cards) but still looses the duel - how much damage would he get? 

 

btw. not completly through your post yet - but its awesome! thx for the work you are putting into this
 

Oh, sorry, he should take 3. I'll edit that.

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1 hour ago, Maniacal_cackle said:

One technique available is to use the Necrotic Machine's Strange Behaviour ability to force cards back into your opponent's hand - just be careful to time this when the top of their deck is low cards! Then you accomplice into Molly, and your opponent has no chance to respond - you just draw tons of cards.

You know, I've played Molly dozens of times, and it's never occurred to me that making the opponent draw cards with Strange Behaviour could be an advantage via Gorgon's Influence if you immediately activate Molly. Brilliant!

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Just now, hydranixx said:

You know, I've played Molly dozens of times, and it's never occurred to me that making the opponent draw cards with Strange Behaviour could be an advantage via Gorgon's Influence if you immediately activate Molly. Brilliant!

Haha, me too.

Until someone on these very forums pointed it out to me xD I just ignored the ability until then.

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I think they mentioned it in one of the two Molly Podcasts (third floor wars/ harlefaux show)

... both were quite informative and nice to listen to (from my(a theorists) perspective - just started in corona times and I havent finished a game yet :D )
if you havent listened to them yet ;) 
 

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5 minutes ago, doubleW said:

I think they mentioned it in one of the two Molly Podcasts (third floor wars/ harlefaux show)

... both were quite informative and nice to listen to (from my(a theorists) perspective - just started in corona times and I havent finished a game yet :D )
if you havent listened to them yet ;) 
 

Vassal can be quite good for getting games in if you're not able to make it to play in person! Highly recommend. I was sceptical at first, but it is actually an awesome programme.

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Have downloaded both - Vassal and Tabletop Simulator

Have to look into them... Kinda sad - spent so much time painting my crews - and cant play them yet :( 
(Currently sitting on Seamus + Molly Crew - with all kinds of Versatile and OOK models)

... Seems to me you only play Elite crews - are there scenarios where you take minion crews? (guess thats for the next part)
and Im wondering if you use gravespirits touch on minions to add terrifying to them for more hand pressure?

 

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11 minutes ago, doubleW said:

... Seems to me you only play Elite crews - are there scenarios where you take minion crews? (guess thats for the next part)

When I first started playing Molly, I was very minion heavy (2 rabble risers, 2 crooligans). This was partially because that was basically what I owned. Now I prefer elite Molly. I'll cover it more in Part 3, but basically her crew is just so efficient anyway it doesn't really need what the smaller minions are providing except in niche situations.

That said, you can still run very strong crews with just full keyword making use of lots of minions. In my local area I think I had over a 90% winrate even when using the minion-heavy crews, so it isn't like they are bad. It is only at the top level tournaments that you start to feel the pain of trying that.

11 minutes ago, doubleW said:

and Im wondering if you use gravespirits touch on minions to add terrifying to them for more hand pressure?

I've never been too big a fan of this, partially because I don't like how easily bypassed it is. Someone might still kill my crooligan in a single activation even with terrifying xD

However, Grave Spirit's Touch is awesome for Blasphemous Ritual, so if you have a way to get a corpse marker in the crew, a crooligan is quite happy to ritual off of it. Getting that corpse is the tricky part though...

I find I probably under value upgrades in every crew I play - most crews I play I end up with 1-2 upgrades, tops.

EDIT: The other thing is that with activation control (see the previous post), my minions tend to be kept quite safe. So it is really only rabble risers that run into danger. I never actually tried GST on them, but could definitely see the merits of it. Particularly in casual play!

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8 hours ago, Maniacal_cackle said:

Necrotic Machine's Strange Behaviour ability to force cards back into your opponent's hand - just be careful to time this when the top of their deck is low cards!

Did you mean the discard pile is low cards? If not, could you please explain why you want to be careful about high cards on the top of their deck? Thanks!

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6 hours ago, doubleW said:


... Seems to me you only play Elite crews - are there scenarios where you take minion crews? (guess thats for the next part)
and Im wondering if you use gravespirits touch on minions to add terrifying to them for more hand pressure?

 

GST is better in minions that are already durable by themselves. Improving the survivality of a Crooligan doesn't make sense when he has 5Wds and it's easy to take down. On models like Hanged, Doxy or even Bone Piles.

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5 minutes ago, Stumpyfjord said:

The other neat part of GST on a minion is that you are force activating twice and so get regen twice a round.

Havent thought about that! ... sounds kinda nice - maybe for rabble risers?

7 minutes ago, ShinChan said:

GST is better in minions that are already durable by themselves. Improving the survivality of a Crooligan doesn't make sense when he has 5Wds and it's easy to take down. On models like Hanged, Doxy or even Bone Piles.

True 🙂 
My plan is to put GST on the doxies the next game

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3 hours ago, Mr. Crows said:

Did you mean the discard pile is low cards? If not, could you please explain why you want to be careful about high cards on the top of their deck? Thanks!

You're quite correct! I have edited the post.

2 hours ago, Stumpyfjord said:

The other neat part of GST on a minion is that you are force activating twice and so get regen twice a round.

Yeah, I found it super useful on a Crooligan on corrupted idols, since then the Crooligan could move an idol every activation rather than twice per game.

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On 3/9/2021 at 10:22 PM, doubleW said:

... Seems to me you only play Elite crews - are there scenarios where you take minion crews? (guess thats for the next part)
 

Night Terrors can be great in some pools, so I often have one in my Molly crews (and one Crooligan - always bring at least one Crooligan). Night Terrors are especially strong reactivate targets since they can cover the entire board in one turn and still have AP spare to scheme. iirc in one of Varney's TFW podcasts he suggested that he even played some lists with 2-3 of them in addition to Crooligans.

On 3/9/2021 at 10:22 PM, doubleW said:

and Im wondering if you use gravespirits touch on minions to add terrifying to them for more hand pressure?

It's quite interesting on Mourners since they not only remove Ruthless from enemy models within 6" (so Terrifying is way more impactful) but also Mourners give you a free Corpse Marker at the start of the game that they can use Blasphemous Ritual on to give your entire crew Focus +1. GST giving them Regen and Terrifying on top of their native mix of Disguised, HtW and Final Veil makes them extremely tough to deal with.

Are they strong enough with GST that you'd hire them out of keyword? Maybe if you're full of Terrifying models, but probably not. But since you bring up that you also play Seamus, I've built Seamus crews around abusing Terrifying in the past and had good success.

One list I was experimenting with was basically along the lines of:

Seamus
Copycat Killer
Mourner + GST
Carrion Emissary
Any 2-3 of: Sybelle / Yin / Archie / Bete Noire / Datsue Ba
0-2 Dead Dandies / Rotten Belles / Dead Doxies

 

Sorry to derail this magnificent Molly thread!

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34 minutes ago, hydranixx said:

Night Terrors can be great in some pools, so I often have one in my Molly crews (and one Crooligan - always bring at least one Crooligan). Night Terrors are especially strong reactivate targets since they can cover the entire board in one turn and still have AP spare to scheme. iirc in one of Varney's TFW podcasts he suggested that he even played some lists with 2-3 of them in addition to Crooligans.

It's quite interesting on Mourners since they not only remove Ruthless from enemy models within 6" (so Terrifying is way more impactful) but also Mourners give you a free Corpse Marker at the start of the game that they can use Blasphemous Ritual on to give your entire crew Focus +1. GST giving them Regen and Terrifying on top of their native mix of Disguised, HtW and Final Veil makes them extremely tough to deal with.

Are they strong enough with GST that you'd hire them out of keyword? Maybe if you're full of Terrifying models, but probably not. But since you bring up that you also play Seamus, I've built Seamus crews around abusing Terrifying in the past and had good success.

One list I was experimenting with was basically along the lines of:

Seamus
Copycat Killer
Mourner + GST
Carrion Emissary
Any 2-3 of: Sybelle / Yin / Archie / Bete Noire / Datsue Ba
0-2 Dead Dandies / Rotten Belles / Dead Doxies

 

Sorry to derail this magnificent Molly thread!

Varney is a higher ranked Ressers player than me in the series, so definitely is worth listening to!

I personally have found that 1-2 minions get the job done, but too few minions carries a huge risk - if they kill all your minions, scoring becomes a bit trickier.

As for Mourners with GST in a Seamus. I love it on paper! However in practice I've struggled getting useful stuff out of the Mourner after turn one. That said, I haven't played it that much because I don't own Mourners.

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  • 3 weeks later...

What I also heard on the third floor wars podcast I think, is to attack your own models and cheat the duel with both models to get rid of your bad cards before activating molly... so that you can draw up even more(hopefully better) cards... 

Guess with all the fading abilities its quite a rare case

...looking forward to your next part btw 😉 

 

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2 minutes ago, doubleW said:

What I also heard on the third floor wars podcast I think, is to attack your own models and cheat the duel with both models to get rid of your bad cards before activating molly... so that you can draw up even more(hopefully better) cards... 

Guess with all the fading abilities its quite a rare case

...looking forward to your next part btw 😉 

 

Yeah, that's a good trick! I tend to find I can control my hand size regardless, but is useful to have that tool available.

You're more likely to see it as a counter to Molly (if I drain my hand, my opponent's who don't have the same tools will also charge their own models and cheat two cards to miss).

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  • 4 months later...

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