Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Not just a Neverborn in Ten Thunders Clothing

Wednesday is here and I am back with another rambling set of thoughts. No Battle report this week, I forgot my camera at home last night. I did get two games in, continuing my exploration and refinement of the Ten Thunders with Misaki for one game and Jakob for the other. This will make my 6th game with non-proxy Jakob and true to form, I feel like I am settling into a good crew base and playstyle with him. I figured it would be good to ramble a bit about my thoughts today.

So, Jakob Lynch and his crew are interesting to say the least. Based on my reading in the Wyrd forums and discussions with some of my local players it appears I am headed in a different direction than others. The prevailing early wisdom is to keep to the brilliant theme and models presented in the Storm of Shadows book. There is lots of discussion about playing Jakob as a Neverborn master, and most of the thoughts on using him as a Ten Thunders master start with him as Neverborn. People really like Illuminated and Depleted with him, and a couple folk have discussed his teaming with Tannen. I have moved to taken none of those.

Mike was siding on teaming Jakob up with Beckoners and Ten Thunders Archers, building a ranged focused crew and using Illuminated as a "guard" for the back line ranged models. I have not had a chance to play against this configuration, apparently it has been effective based on the feedback from the others in our group. In one of my games last night I had the chance to play around with an Archer and Beckoner team in a Jakob crew, and while its interesting I did not find it as useful as using 2 Beckoners.

This is a really good time to make the point that there are many ways to build effective crews within Malifaux. More importantly, Jakob has abilities which can benefit many different crew builds. Jakob has a couple key capabilities working toward benefiting a very general crew. Judicious use of Dead Mans Hand allows Jakob to build up a very strong hand. The Hungering Darkness (Huggy) is a threat that must be dealt with, then he can be brought back after being killed (under the right circumstances) creating a key game turning moment. These two capabilities together can allow Jakob to work with many different types of crews, and none are wrong. What I am presenting in this article is simply what has been working really well for me over the past 6 games.

So, what do I like in my Jakob crew? The core of my crew starts to look as follows:
  • Jakob
  • Huggy
  • 2x Beckoners
To this I then look to add, in order of importance:
  1. A second melee/damage threat
  2. Crew support
  3. Board Control
Lets start by looking at my core crew and what they are accomplishing for me. First we start out with Jakob, who is not a very strong piece. I find that the strongest ability I get out of Jakob is Dead Mans Hand, which is really what he is there for. What I am finding most interesting, through my games, is that I am using the spell less than I expected I would. Jakob is typically casting DMH 5 - 7 times a game, succeeding maybe 5 times on average. This is 3 solid turns of casting the spell twice, but I was really expecting this number to be closer to 4 or 5 turns in a game. Jakob has been sticking around Huggy, grabbing companion when possible to DMH prior to Huggy starting his attacks. I fill my hand up as much as possible, use his (0) if necessary to push away from a model engaging him, then toss a low card to grab an AP to walk away. On the very odd circumstance, Jakob will use his extra AP to make a shot with his pistol, but thats really a fall back option for me.

I really need an Alternate
Huggy is one of the key threats in my crew. I push Huggy forward, aiming for middle of the board threat starting on turn 2. I am looking to engage my opponents crew early and force my opponent to deal with Huggy on my terms, keeping an eye out for a solid pair to hold in hand for when Huggy is taken down. Huggy is not acting as my primary source of brilliance, but he does do well in spreading it around. I find that in early turns I am using his casting expert to Head My Voice and force opponents brilliant models to walk or charge forward into his 5 inch bubble. I have been fairly successful at keeping an enemy brilliant model within his 5 inch bubble starting turn 1 so that Huggy is able to drain off their health at the end of the turn.  There has been a lot of discussion about keeping Illuminated nearby Huggy to feed him the end of turn brilliance wound, then regenerate that wound back. There is also a fair amount of discussion about keeping illuminated and depleted around for healing Huggy along with a sure-fire way to bring him back. I find that I have had success healing and coming back into game off my opponents models, not needing the depleted and illuminated. Overall, Huggy has worked out well with a mix of Control (Head my Voice) and melee threat in the game. In addition, the perm-brilliance trigger on his spell is invaluable in achieving his scheme of keeping 2 enemy models alive until the end of the game with Brilliance on them.

Beckoners are the last core models in my current crew preference. Beckoners are my primary means of handing out Brilliance in the game, with Huggy filling the secondary role. I find myself positioning my Beckoners then using their ranged attack to hand out brilliance. Its not a bad strategy overall, as they ignore cover modifiers on their ranged attack. I do like the Beckoners for their other abilities as well. First, I am finding them fairly mobile and survivable overall, which makes them good for grabbing objectives. A walk into the melee threat area of an opposing model opens up the ability to then use Seductive Swagger to grab an additional 4 inches of movement (in a push) before taking a second walk toward their objective. This ends up being a total of 14 inches of movement overall, not too shabby. In other cases they have the great capability of a pseudo-lure, which can also cause a model to move its Charge toward the Beckoner if it is already brilliant. While not the primary function of the model, that spell is a useful tool in the tool-box. Lastly, they have an ability to replicate Slow on a model, with the potential of removing 2 general AP on that model with the right flip. Not bad at all as a utilitarian model.

That leaves us with the rest of the crew. I have mentioned it briefly before, but will dive a bit more into my thoughts on the models I am currently liking in my crew. My first focus after hiring my core is to look for an alternate "Beater" or threat for Huggy. While Huggy is a big threat, I find that its useful to have a second threat on the board for my opponent to worry about. In addition, this second threat can also serve as the killer of an enemy brilliant model if I need to bring Huggy back out after he is killed. I started playing around with Graves, but Graves is really a control model with strong Beater tendencies. He was not enough of a threat and not enough of a beater for my comfort. I have since moved over to Kang and Ototo. Both of these boys come in at 8 points and serve the same role, in slightly different ways. Basically, they both bring big damage with incredible survivability to the table. It really puts my opponent into a bind when they have to choose between eating through Huggy's spirit based defense (halving damage) or trying to take down a Hard to Kill healing model that will mash your face if you ignore it. On top of that, both models have the key ability of Melee Expert, allowing them to move then still attack after moving. This is what was missing from Graves, making him tough to fill the beater role.

Then we move to my second focus, which is some type of crew support. I find myself using Yamaziko more and more for this role. She is a straight swap out (from a cost perspective) for the Illuminated that was not really doing much in my crew. She brings with her Immune to Influence, healing, and some WP buff's which really help the crew. A judicious heal on one of the Beckoners (who are targets) can really set back my opponents plans for dealing with my crew. I find that although I am not overly aggressive with Yamaziko, I am still too aggressive (I think) for making the best use of her. I need to practice holding her back even more than I already do. With Use Soulstones and healing she is fairly survivable but doesn't need to be in the front lines. Her healing ability has a 6 inch range, so she can hold back and still support the crew.

Then that leaves me with the final choice. Additional board control really fits into my preferred playstyle and further compliments what I have in the crew. This level of hiring doesn't really come into play until we get to the 35ss and higher level. For this I will begin looking at Stitched, Archers, and Torekage to fill the slot. Stitched and torekage can block off lines of sight. Torekage can swap around parts of my crew as needed, along with hopping out into combat with the enemy. Archers provide additional ranged punch to my crew, adding to the ranged threat.

Overall I really like Jakob and his crew. I have heard some rumblings that people believe he is possibly the weakest of the new masters in Storm of Shadows, but I do not agree. His crew doesn't look like it, but it certainly has a degree of finesse to playing it well that I believe has not been picked up on yet. I am at the point I would be comfortable bringing Jakob out in a tournament setting, so now I am moving onto the next step in my Ten Thunders masters, which is Misaki. I am 2 non-proxy games in and starting to wrap my head around what she does well and what she does not do well. I have gotten the bulk of my commission from Convy, so will be playing with Misaki and her crew more over the coming weeks. On that note, I have plans to pull together a new set of pictures and will be doing a Book 4 picture week with the new crews I have. I need to set-up the light tent and get the camera back out, but its coming. Also, I cannot give more praise to how fantastic Convy is with his painting. If your looking to get something commissioned, check out 13th Hour Miniatures, his Bronze Crystal Brush was well deserved!!

I would love to hear your thoughts/comments/experiences on how Jakob is working out for you. Leave me some comments here or shoot me an email for the podcast (


  1. I like the idea of Yamaziko with Jakob over the Illuminated.  I think you're right that she'll be more flexible in that role.  I'll have to give it a try.

    In my experience, I've been using more Archers than melee models.  Part of it may be the fact that I've so rarely been able to use good ranged models in the past (Neverborn and Ressers being two of my big crews until recently) and want to give them a whirl.  But I've also found that they have a pretty flexible range of abilities.  Making Constructs slow, dropping blast markers on low-wound models, and hitting high-wound models with high-damage strikes all turn out well.  You mentioned wanting to have a model to kill a model with Brilliance to bring Huggy back if need be - for my, the Archers have filled that role.  I've been able to drop Brilliance where I want with Beckoners (fantastic models), and then kill them off from range with an Archer.  It works well to drop Huggy in the back ranks of an enemy model and essentially surround them.

    Overall, I really like Jakob.  I think he's on the weaker side of the 10T options (Mei Fang is probably the only one I think is overall weaker) but he's a bundle of fun.  I think the 10T are behind only the NB in having the best master selection in the game.

  2. Now let me start by saying that I have neither book 4 or any of the models, but I was of the impression that you choose Jacob to be either a Neverborn or a 10T master and his choice of models to select was dependent on that choice? So what I'm really asking is how come you can select both Beckoners(pure Neverborn - right?) and Yamaziko (pure 10T - right?)?

    Also why the non-love of Mr. Tannen, I think he looks a great model.

    1. When you take Jakob as a 10T model, he can take all the 10T models (so he can get Yamaziko) and he also has a special rule that allows him to take all Brilliant models (which means he can take the Beckoners), all HT1 Woes, and Stitched Togethers.

      Each of the 10T masters has a special rule that allows them to take a small selection of models from their non-10T faction even when they're 10T masters.