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Total Malifaux Newbie Getting Into Arcanists


Writer@Large
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So, my area is finally seeing some regular Malifaux action, and I'm getting ready to buy in. I know almost nothing about the game at this point, but based solely on looks / theme / limited fluff, I like the Arcanists, and in particular I am drawn to the Star Theater troupe. A few questions, if you don't mind ...

  • I see the list of recommended starting models on the Malifaux page. But is there anything "outside the box" of the Star Theater core that you'd recommend / that goes really well with them?
  • Would you even recommend Star Theater for a Malifaux noob? Or are they the kind of finesse army that a newbie might struggle with? [i am very experienced in other wargames .... ]
  • All the models on the models page have a neat stage floor base. I don't see a base insert like that for sale, though. Am I missing something?

Thanks in advance.

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So, my area is finally seeing some regular Malifaux action, and I'm getting ready to buy in.

:P

Your area has seen a very hoppin' regular Malifaux action, actually. ;)

But, glad you're aboard!

1) Hmm...Coryphee X2. And the Doves totem pack.

2) Not normally, but you're not totally green. You've got skilz. I think the learning curve will be more steep but you can handle it if you know it ahead of time.

3) Nope. You gotta make those yourself.

Edited by nerdelemental
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Either make the bases yourself (trimmed plastic card, coffee stirrers, etc.) or there's a couple companies that do resin bases.

Colette's crew isn't TOO tough to start with though. I only played with the Viks for about a month before I bought Colette last year, and then didn't play anything but Colette for 3-4 months. I did perfectly fine. If you've got basic wargaming experience already, you should be fine.

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I personally find Collette a very difficult master to get to grips with, definately one of the advanced masters. I am working on it though!

Best starter sets are probably Book 1 Guild or Rezzer sets, though Rasputina and Lilith aren't bad either.

But really, this is wargaming, whenever you start, start with something you like the look of!

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The showgirls are an awesome crew and I keep feeling the pull to them. They have their ups and downs. Colette is arguably one of the best competitive masters in the game, but she is also almost byzantine in fully understanding how to make her work that well. She can still do ok, but it will require a serious amount of plays and thinking to fully master her.

She also has the double edged advantage of being relatively cheap. Colette really only works well with a few models in the game currently. More are on the way, but as of the current moment you only need her box, a coryphee clamshell, and a clamshell of Doves. That is pretty much all Colette crews tend to work with. So it is relatively inexpensive, but it can be a tad monotonous if your only master is her, as you don't often benefit from bringing models outside those listed.

A friend of mine bought her over the summer and had a blast with her so If she is who you are called to I think you'll be fine.

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The only master I've played with so far is Colette (though I should finally get to start playing Marcus next week) and I love her. She can be a bit rough to learn, and she's very unforgiving if you don't pay attention.

But if you have even a slight grasp on her movement shenanigans and general unwillingness to die, then you can at least claim a moral victory by annoying the ever-living **** out of your opponent.

Starting out, like others have said you'll want a pack of doves and 1-2 packs of Coryphees depending on how important it is to you that you have a model to represent the duet.

Beyond that the options are a bit limited. Usually when people hire outside the showgirls theme they pick up a nasty slow model like Jack Daw, Johan, or Killjoy and then taxi that model around using Colette's disappearing act to deliver them where they need to be (except Killjoy, who they deliver by flying a dove into the enemies and saccing it to summon him)

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Beyond that the options are a bit limited. Usually when people hire outside the showgirls theme they pick up a nasty slow model like Jack Daw, Johan, or Killjoy

Here's the kind of angle I was hoping for. I look around the Arcanist range and, even though they are billed as a faction, everything seems to specifically 'grouped' -- there's Tina and the ice monsters, Ramos and the mechanicals, etc. I'm very much used to Warmachine/Hordes, where there's much more versatility and variability within a faction.

What I really want to know is: Can I run a Showgirls crew, but effectively run some Arachnids with them? What about an Ice Golem? Does Colette do anything for the Jackalope? Inquiring minds want to know. I'll be a bit bummed if the Crews are so straight-jacketed that varying your army is a losing proposition.

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The Arcanists are one of the few factions that are slightly more limited in their intra-faction synergy. There's some cross-over, but largely, you have to play Brawls before you really see too much of it.

Colette and Ramos work quite well together in a Brawl, when you can run the Mobile Toolkit totem and have it give the extra Tome to Colette's Ca. Otherwise, the Arachnids really don't do much for Colette in a standard scrap. As mentioned before, Johan is a decent fit, as he's cheap.

It's not so much that you CAN'T use the other Arcanists with Colette, it's just more that the Showgirls have SO much better synergy than any of the other available options.

Otherwise though, Ramos and Kaeris have a lot of overlap, as do Kaeris and Rasputina.

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Kaeris is the one not yet released, right? With the gunslingers? She's another box I'm dying to pick up. Honestly, I picked Arcanists because it has the most models that I'm keen on painting ... :)

Yep, Kaeris is hitting shelves in a few weeks. She has nice synergy with either Ramos or Rasputina in particular. There's some fun that can be had with her in a Colette crew as well, but again, not any specific synergy.

I do like running a Gunsmith Colette from time to time though. For instance, against Ressers it can be nice. Colette and the Showgirls do just fine against Kirai, because you've got lots of magic damage to toss around. But it's tougher against the regular Undead, and so a Gunsmith with the :+fate for Dg flips can be really solid in that matchup.

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Good to know.

Also, I keep seeing "Avatars" mentioned. Are these like Epic Warcasters in WarMaHordes?

They're much more....Wyrd. ;)

Whereas Epic Warcasters are alternate versions of the 'caster that you choose to use before the game, Avatars are alternate versions of the Master that you transform into mid-game.

The role of each Avatar is different (some are completely different playstyles, some are extreme versions of the Master's established playstyle, etc,) and what you have to do to Manifest them varies, but its always a set of two requirements your Master has to fulfill. The earlier you accomplish those goals, the earlier you get to bring the Avatar out.

Avatars are interesting. They're not a direct power jump, and a lot of them are sufficiently different from the "normal" version of the Master that you really have to plan for the Avatar, instead of just auto-including the upgrade.

EDIT: Avatars are a mechanic that was recently introduced in Book 3 (Twisting Fates,) so its something I think a lot of players are still trying to wrap their heads around (I know I'm still trying to digest Marcus' Avatar and when its best to use.) For what its worth, the Colette Avatar is really, really cool. :)

Edited by Nephalumps
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Yeah, I haven't even made it to book 2 yet. :)

So, are avatars something that anyone can choose to bring into any game, and that count towards army cost? Or can they only be brought in certain scenarios? What I mean is, could I be playing with, say, a lowly battle box army at a low point level, and have someone whip out an Avatar on me?

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Yeah, I haven't even made it to book 2 yet. :)

So, are avatars something that anyone can choose to bring into any game, and that count towards army cost? Or can they only be brought in certain scenarios? What I mean is, could I be playing with, say, a lowly battle box army at a low point level, and have someone whip out an Avatar on me?

Yes, however the avatars don't necessarily change the game like epic casters did. More or less they change the focus of the master. For example if you're playing against Seamus he goes from a hard to wound scary short range monster to an easy to scary melee monster.

You're not really at a disadvantage because manifesting requires changing your game plan to accomplish the goal. Where as a player without an avatar can just focus on their mission goals.

While Avatars can be used at low point level games they tend to shine in a higher stone game, IMHO.

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EDIT: Too slow! ;)

In theory, yes. Avatars cost 2 SS to "attach" to a Master, and there's no minimum game size for them (so, like Mk. 2 Epics for WM/H,) so you could be playing a 15 SS game, and have your opponent using an Avatar.

However, you also have to announce that you've attached an Avatar to a Master, so there's no way to keep it a secret and, say, spring it one someone mid-game.

Moreover, playing a smaller size game and having an Avatar isn't going to be an immediate advantage: you can't bring them out turn 1, and its tricky for most of them to get out before turn 2/3. In a smaller game, it'd be even harder, as a lot of them rely on doing stuff to enemy models, so I think it'd be harder when there are fewer available targets.

One last thing worth mentioning: Avatars are a literal transformation, so if you have someone 9/10 of the way dead, and they Manifest, they still Manifest 9/10 of the way dead (though every master can spend a Soulstone while manifesting to make a healing flip, using the normal healing flip rules.) So you can't necessarily use your Avatar as a "bail out" button, either.

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You have to spend 2SS to attach your avatar to your master. This gives you the ability to turn into your avatar once you meet certain requirements that are different for each master. Some of the Avatars are very competitive choices and some are just plain meh mechanically speaking. From a personal perspective all but one or two are very high on the "Wow that's cool" scale even if they are an inferior competitive choice.

Colette and Ramos' Avatars kind of showcase the ends of the spectrum.

Ramos' is just flat out good. I'd venture to suggest it is an almost auto include in any list you play Ramos with, mechanically it is just that good.

Colette's is just plain "WOW" as she splits into three models where one is real and two are false and she gets tons of actions that are interesting. Mechanically however if I was playing against Colette I am hoping my opponent brings his Avatar and uses it because basic Colette is so much better.

So Avatars are just different options you have but the game is perfectly enjoyable without them, even if your opponent is using them and you are not.

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I'm not sure of any single list but you might check out: http://www.malifaux.com/ and find the crew creator in there. You'll be able to see the mercs that work with Collette and anyone. For what it's worth, I don't think Collette needs any. Tastes differ, naturally.

Just in case you somehow missed it: I know where you prefer to play and I'm not trying at all to dissuade you in that, but if you're looking for some in-person advice, we're up at RIW every Tuesday and could very enthusiastically get you up to speed in just an evening or two. Keep it in mind!

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if you're looking for some in-person advice, we're up at RIW every Tuesday and could very enthusiastically get you up to speed in just an evening or two.

Thanks for the offer. :) Unfortunately, I'm working with tight evening schedules. Thursdays are usually my best night; but even that night got ruined this quarter. Honestly, one of the reasons I'm looking at Mal right now is I know a couple people playing it on weekends. Then, when my Thursdays open back up, I'll be able to join that night. But if I ever get a free Tuesday, I'll definitely keep RIW in mind.

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  • 2 weeks later...

A couple of things not mentioned here yet:

1, if you like Arcansists but like versatility, then Marcus is a good option, as he can hire any model with the Beast characteristic in the game..so he can pick and choose his models from other factions.

2, if playing Colette, a key element of her gameplay you need to master is activation order for the first 1 or 2 activations....Cassandra and Coryphee Duet are your key models for all your movement shennanigans...Colette may do most of the switchnig, but without those 2 models your tactical options will be very limited. If an opponent has the opportunity to attack one of them this turn and you have an activation first, you need to activate them to ensure they are either out of danger, or able to activate their defensive abilities (Use Soulstone/Souther Charm)

The biggest thing though for this crew is thinking a turn ahead. You need to know where your models are going to be relative to your opponents next turn, otherwise, if you leave something in danger of being attacked, and you dont win the initiative, you could seriously suffer for it!...plan ahead, and make sure your movement tricks keeps you dictating the game and a step ahead of your opponent.

If you need specific tactical ideas, there is the Malifaux Wiki, and both myself and Mr Nybbles have posted quite detailed tactical breakdowns on this forum. You can also ask questions at any time.

Good luck!

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Just wanted to say thanks for the advice you all gave writer@large. I've just got into Malifaux, picked up the Ortegas while waiting on and order of Collette to arrive and to be honest was a little daunted at the differences between the two but after reading this i'm ready for my first game with her (my second overall). So thanks again all, much appreciated :)

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