Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Malifaux Tournament Preparation

Its been an interesting month so far, which has kept me from updating the blog overall. I have several models for my Dreamer crew which are painted, but no pictures have been posted. My wife grabbed the camera on her Girls week away, when combined with trying to find it once she returned has put a hard stop to my picture taking activities. I will be updating my pictures soon, with the completed crew up on the blog.

More important to the title and push of this post is my preparation for an upcoming tournament I will be attending. There is a Malifaux henchman a little over an hour away who is running a 35ss fixed list tournament this weekend (Feb 28th) and I will be attending. I am truly looking forward to this, as in my local group I am the person coordinating events, so I do not get to play in the competitive ones.

I decided on a departure from my loved Guild lists featuring Lady Justice and started practicing with the Dreamer and Lord Chompy. I love my custom sculpt model and this is a fantastic opportunity to put him on the table. This is one of my largest considerations for future tournament (Adepticon??) as well. So I put together the following list, and to date have played 8 tournament prep games with it, running a record of W:6/L:1/D:1.

Neverborn Crew - 35 - Scrap

The Dreamer -- 6 Cache
1 Daydream [2ss]

Alp [3ss]
Alp [3ss]
Alp [3ss]
Coppelius [9ss]
Lelu [7ss]
Lilitu [7ss]

There are a couple things I have learned about this list and some basic strategies I use overall. I have to admit that it has taken me most of my 8 games to fully get the rules straight with the crew, as there are a lot of rules and interactions to remember. This is certainly not a straight forward crew to play. Its complicated and takes a lot of thought and planning.

Dreamer & LCB
As a dual master, we get two models to play around with in our master slot. These two operate fairly different from the other dual-master in the game (Viktoria). Our Master can only have one aspect on the table at a time. This is also part of our strength, as the same rule (One Master) that restricts us to one at a time allows for some of the activation shenanigans that make us so dangerous. Basically, there are multiple ways for these two to switch back and forth. However, when they make the switch everything in the game stops and the model who just came out (LCB or Dreamer) gets to activate immediately. To put this in perspective, the order of process could go as follows:
  1. Perdita activates (fast) and gets 3ap.
  2. Perdita uses 1 ap to shoot a Daydream (Dreamers Totem)
  3. Day Dream dies, popping our LCB into combat with Perdita
  4. LCB immediately activates and spends his Melee Expert +1 and 2 AP to go wild on Perdita, killing her
  5. Perdita does not get to use her other 2 AP because she is dead.
There are a number of uses for this ability, with the one detailed above being only the most rudimentary. I use the ability fairly often to swap LCB and Dreamer in and out of dangerous combat situations and reposition on the board.

To be honest, LCB has performed as one of the scariest hitters in my list. When dropped into charge range, or preferably into melee range (3 inch melee range) LCB has rarely failed to kill what he is dropped on. Even when pulling a black joker for damage or hit, he still tends to kill his target then get pulled back from combat and turned back into the dreamer before he takes return damage. I find this can be a boon, both on his ability to intimidate my opponent and on the reliability to remove a model. The trick to this is to pick your target carefully. It takes a careful combination of suits in hand (I love rams for onslaught) and positioning for a choice between weapons. Teeth have a 1 inch range, but put poison on the target, while claws have a 3 inch range and are paired.

The Twins (Lilu & Lilitu)
The twins are fantastic and fill a couple roles in the list. I use Lilu as a back-up melee hitter, keeping him as support for either LCB or Coppelius. He can also drop out of hiding to eat weaker models as needed. This works well with the board control abilities that Lilitu has. Lilitu fills to primary purposes in the list that are of nearly equal importance. One of these is to sit within 3 inches of the dreamer and be a target. The Dreamer cannot be targeted if there is another nightmare that COULD be targeted within 3 inches. When this is combined with Lilitu's irresistible, she provides a great buffer for the Dreamer. Add to this the second role of using Lure for board control and she becomes great. With Lure she can pull opponents models out of position and potentially drag them into range for one of the melee monsters in the list to pop out and eat them.

Squid face himself, Coppelius works really well in this list, and fills a fairly unique role. Coppelius works well in combat with Melee Expert and a solid CB of 6 with his long clawed fingers (his primary weapon). He even has a respectable 5 defense and 10 wounds to go with it. Regardless of this, I find he goes down fairly quickly to any serious focus while in combat. I really look to Coppelius for two primary roles in the list. The first of those roles is an automatic trigger on his attacks that paralyzes target models. This is great as it provides me control of melee, being able to paralyze 2 or 3 models in the combat and freeze them there. Added to this is his secondary role of potentially plucking an eye out and forcing morale duels within 3 inches. This is a great trigger, as the eye can be useful for summoning more alps or healing Coppelius later in the turn. However, the most important is forcing additional morale checks. Based on these two roles, I find that I either drop Coppelius out on a model who has seperated themselves and I need to lock down (i.e. Candy) or I drop him into the primary "Bomb" melee to provide additional support.

Alps are annoying, and that's their primary role in the list. I do not view them as a critical part of the list, but more as the filler to allow the rest of my list to work within the game. Alps have an ability to force WP tests in a 4 inch bubble that can give a model Slow if it fails the test. When this is combined with the Dreamers ability to make nightmares terrifying, Alps will cause a fair number of tests when dropped into melee with multiple models. This rarely causes enough damage to actually kill something (Alps cause damage to anything receiving slow) but it will burn off a fair number of cards from the opponents deck and hand in addition to putting a couple minor points of damage here and there. I find the most important aspect of Alps is the psychological effect they have on my opponent. First, its very difficult to ignore Alps because they are in your lines and the slow and terrifying COULD become problematic. Second, opponents tend to be afraid of Alps summoning more alps. Due to these concerns, opponents tend to focus at least 1 round of actions on removing the Alps from the game. When I can time this drop to turns 4, 5, 6 it gives me breathing room to lock up my own objectives while my opponent focuses elsewhere.

Tricksy Tricksy
So, I have mentioned dropping the models and popping them out a couple times. That's one of the largest advantages of the Dreamer/LCB crew. I start with the models buried (if not during deployment, during turn 1) and have the ability to un-bury/re-bury the nightmares throughout the game. This provides me the ability to pick my own battles both in positioning, timing, and scope. During my practice games I find that I have yet to engage before turn 3. In addition, it often benefits me to move around the board and avoid engagement until turn 4, then pick my battles very carefully before overwhelming my opponent. This ability is quintessential to how the Dreamer plays and is key to any strategy when using him. To date, this has become a challenging quandary for my opponents. They have to choose if they are going to let me wander around unmolested, risking that I pull my victory points early and put them at a disadvantage, or if they are going to force a confrontation which may not be to their advantage. While they are struggling with this, I focus on my strategies and schemes, while watching for opportunities to jump on mistakes they may have made.

For those who are interested, check out Karn987's tactica for the Dreamer hosted on Tabletop Geeks.


  1. Interesting list - it was fun to watch how you play the Dreamer last night.

    I've actually started moving away from using Alps. Partially because I always get complaints about them, but also I've been finding that while they're very good, there are so many other fun things to do with the Dreamer they get left behind. I've been favoring putting a Stitched Together or two in my list recently and popping them out one at a time. They fill the role you use Lilitu for - being a shield for the Dreamer. Since they stick around until the end of the turn, that gives me an entire turn of breathing room for the Dreamer and let him sit around in the midst of the fight without worrying too much. Once one's dead, the next pops up the next turn and repeats the annoyance.

  2. Thats not a bad idea. I would lose out on the lure/board control that Lilitu gives me however.

    For the Alps, I can see how people would complain about them. Then again, I am still a bit torn on using the dreamer/lcb in fun games. I can see how he can be frustrating to play against, and his abilities really lend a competitive slant to the game in my mind. Perhaps this has a lot to do with the fact I have only been playing him with an eye toward this upcoming tournament. I will have to play around with him more moving fowrard in fun games as well.

  3. interesting list. I still haven't faced a Dreamer list but one of my group is looking at getting into him so enough...

    Do you think that making Alps with Coppy is a good thing or not? As I haven't looked that Much at the Dreamer I could always do with a Coppelius for when Hoffman comes out.

    I can't wait to see how you go at the Tournament.

  4. Just started working on my Dreamer/LCB crew for tournament use, 30ss though instead of 35. Right now I'm looking at Dreamer/LCB, 3 x Daydreams, Teddy and 5 x Alps. I've only played one game with him and rand 3 x Daydreams and 3 x Teddy's. Brutal but I made some mistakes that ended up losing me the game. Interesting to see you running without Daydreams, do you think it makes Dreamer more or less effective not having the totems running around to help unbury things?

  5. Alps can prove very useful from time to time. A single Alp is not as good as a bunch of them, yes, but it is still a nuisance and possibly a drain of cards for your opponent as they try to make sure they aren't slow. Also, their ability to heal another Nightmare around them can make them a nice addition if you have other nightmares in your list (not likely with Hoffman). Finally, adding an Alp to your field gives you an additional scoring model should you need it.

    I don't know if he'll run well with Hoffman. Hoffman seems fairly reliant on his constructs and Coppelius is a pretty pricey model not to help out like that. I'd be interested to hear how it works out for you though. We have a local player who plays Hoffman a bit and we talked a bit about adding Coppelius. Neither of us saw a great benefit to doing so. We could be missing something though.

  6. The list is a bit misleading. I generally summon the second Day Dream early in the game and play with 2. I just found it easier to buy up to 34 points, then use 2 stones in game to summon up the second one once I am playing.

    I have not tried playing with Teddy yet, but will be painting up one of my own soon. My current teddy is my wifes, fit for her Pandora list.

  7. Its funny, in my practice games (all the gaes I have played with Dreamer) Coppy has only ever grabbed 1 eye counter. In 1 game he used it to heal, in 1 game he summoned an Alp and grabbed a table quarter with him, in 4 games he held the eye and did nothing with it, and in 2 games he did not get an eye.

    Alps really only seem to work in groups, at least 2 but 3 is prefered. I am looking for an opportunity to pop out a 4th alp into a group, but have not come across it yet. All my opponents so far have nuked my alps with blasts or pulses, so all the alps die at once.

  8. Listen to Mike, he is the Neverborn Guru!