Malifaux Tactics: A Line in the Sand
Kickstarter has consumed my life, I've only now managed to rip some free time out of its throat. So what do I do? Blog post about Malifaux tactics!
Line in the Sand. More than any other scheme or strategy plan, line in the sand is important. This scheme will be available in every game you play. This means if you don't include it in your plans, you're not thinking about something that will pop up in every game you play. Let me reiterate the importance of knowing this scheme; Line in the Sand will be available in every game you play.
Let's begin with a brief look at what Line is. Line scores at the end of the game, requires four scheme markers on the centerline, and benefits from being announced. If you announce it, you get an additional VP as long as you have at least two scheme markers on the centerline. Time to pick this apart.
First, line is scored at the end of the game. This means that as long as an opponent has models in position and is willing to devote the resources to it, Line can be denied by anyone. Scoring at the end of the game also means you need to keep an eye on those VP floating around. I've seen many games won because somebody didn't realize Line was in play.
Second, Line requires four scheme markers on the centerline to gain the two VP it grants. Compared to the other schemes out there, this is a lot of markers. It's also right along the middle of the board, so denying it becomes that much easier. Any crew planning on taking Line should be heavy on the runners, the more models you can have dropping these markers the better your chances are of scoring.
Third, Line benefits from being revealed. Only two scheme markers for a VP isn't too hard to do, especially when the area is as wide as the centerline. A pair of runners can easily dart to the edges and drop their markers on turn two before joining the battle and snatch an easy VP. Because it's always in the mix, Line is perfect for bluff tactics as well. More on that later.
Like any scheme that relies on you dropping a lot of markers, Line tactics benefit from the standard array of runners. This is not the only way to do it, though. The four markers can be anywhere on the centerline, and if you decide to field models that can drop them within four inches of a friendly marker, there's nothing stopping you from dropping the four right on top of each other. A group of Death Marshals in a Reckoning game or with Make them Suffer in play can set up a nice, easily defended stack by just standing there and letting your opponent do what the strategy requires of him. Alternately, anything that lets you move scheme markers can accomplish the same effect. Trixibelle and Wong come to mind for my gremlin-inspired thoughts. This tactic works very well if you have a defensible area on the field, you have another scheme that can benefit from this tactic like Bodyguard or Frame for Murder, or if your crew can defend that stack. I've seen a Rail Golem standing on top of a stack like that before, and it's not something I'd like to go up against. If your opponent has a lot of hitting power this might not be such a good idea, and models like Collete, Dopplegangers, and Fingers can just walk up and start screwing with your plan. Like any tactic, examine your opponents list and position before committing too much.
Conversely, fast crews can drop those markers in a more spread out fashion, relying on maneuverability and speed. Terror Tots, Canine Remains, Necropunks, and other cheap traditional runners do this admirably. Parking a bigger model on top of the marker to slow your opponent down from denial can work well, as can flooding the centerline. Removing a marker is an AP your opponent will have to spend, and if you outnumber her than trading an AP for an AP is a very good exchange. One of the better combos I've seen for this is a Terror Tot running about dropping markers like they're going out of style, with an Illuminated chilling on top of it and laughing at the attempts to take it out. If you can drop those markers in cover, even better.
Time for interaction with strategies.
Reconnoiter: I frequently take Line with Reconnoiter . Any sort of forced movement can pull a model making a denial run onto the centerline, thus making them count for neither of the quarters they're standing in assuming you pulled standard or close deployment. With corner or flank deployment this really becomes a game of runners, as that diagonal centerline is a huge chunk of real estate. I really like schemes and strategies that go well together, and this is a good example of it. When this combo jumps out, taking some good ranged ability can do wonders. If a bullet dropping a runner performs double duty, no quarter control and no Line markers, I consider that a good trade.
Reckoning: As mentioned before, the proper list can do very well with line and Reckoning. Otherwise, the flooding tactic tends to work very well here. Most people take a small number of beefy models when Reckoning rears its ugly head, so bringing a lot of runners becomes very risky. MVPs on this combination are usually big and fast, Barbaros and Harold Langstrom come to mine. I've seen Langstrom take half the centerline by himself and proceed to murder anyone who tried to mess with his plans. That guy is a monster.
Squatters Rights: Taking Line with this strategy looks like a natural fit, but you better be damn sure you can outthink your opponent. This combination is probably the closes to an actual gunfight you'll see in Malifaux, don't start this unless you know you can end it. With Squatters Rights, the action will naturally be focused on the centerline. This means that dropping markers to begin with will be difficult due to melee engagements all over the place, deniers are always right nearby, and the usual model mix is all over the place. That being said, I take Line with Squatters Rights frequently. When this pops up you need to ask yourself a single question; “Am I a better player than the person sitting across from me?” If you are, golden. If not, listen to Admiral Ackbar. This combo will frequently result in turn five coming around, and your remaining models running dropping the markers they can. If you've got the numbers at the end, bully for you. If not, shouldn't have taken the risk.
Turf War: Action in the middle, but not the entire centerline. This is another one where deployment really changes the dynamic. A long centerline means those corners are difficult to get to from the focus of the action, and most people I play bring stompy lists to Turf War games. This combo is one of the big reasons why I prefer swarm lists on Turf War, I can take some losses near the middle and still get my VP, while Line is much easier to get. Plus my runners can join the fight halfway through, nothing like flanking reinforcments.
Stake a Claim: With how chaotic Stake a Claim is, scheme selection is hard to peg down to begin with. If you're focusing on your opponents side of the table, you're away from the centerline. If you're running denial and focusing on your side, you're away from the centerline. If the game is focused on the middle, you run into the Squatter's Rights problem. Have fun!
Line provides one of the best bluffing opportunities in the game. By leaving one of your schemes unannounced you can drop a marker in a corner early game and watch your opponent sweat. If he devotes resources to removing that marker and you didn't take Line, bully for you. If he doesn't and you did take Line, that's one less marker you need. The fact that it's always available makes the bluff game on Line a thing of beauty. It happens so often, people know to watch out for it. Which means you can use it to manipulate your opponents actions. Which is fun.
Line in the Sand, learn it. I won't be spending this much time on every scheme, but Line warrants it.
Until next time, keep gaming.