Waldo's Weekly - Carving Our Way to M3E

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Hey Wyrdos,

Despite our best efforts, Waldo got out of the office this week. That’s what we get for leaving candy out. We found him on someone’s doorstep, carving his likeness into each of their pumpkins (you can find the stencil in the latest issue of Chronicles!).

Once we managed to wrangle him back here, he wouldn’t stop talking about the latest changes that we’re making to our favorite perennial terror, Carver. He even promised to stop changing Matt’s passwords if we showed off his stat card.

The most important thing about the Carver in M3E is that he’s now a legal model! In M2E, the Carver was always a “use if the Strategy allows it” model, but we’ve removed that restriction and enabled this scarecrow to go on a rampage no matter the time of year.

Let’s take a look:

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So right off the bat, you’ll notice that the Carver has a high Cost of ten, making him one of the most expensive non-Master models in the game. In M2E, models with a Cost higher than ten were in an awkward space; they had to be strong enough to justify their impressive Cost, but this often led to them having rules that were so strong they distorted games (and their Faction) around them. Nekima and Ashes and Dust are prime examples of this effect.

In M3E, we are capping the Cost of non-Master models at 10. The one exception is the Coryphee Duet, due to the interesting way that it can combine and break apart during the game (though that’s an article for another time). Capping the cost of non-Master models at 10 means that we have a ceiling on how powerful those models could be while ensuring that they don’t have to be so powerful that they would distort their Faction’s balance.

Next, you’ll notice that the Carver has the Nightmare and Woe Keywords. This means that it can be hired by Leaders with the Nightmare and Woe Keywords at no penalty, or by other Neverborn Leaders at a +1 increase to its Cost. At first glance, this means that both Dreamer and Pandora can make good use of the Carver, but it also means that he’s an easy hire for Henchmen Leaders such as Candy or the Widow Weaver.

To take this one step further, the Carver is a Henchman, which means that it could lead a Crew itself! Since it has the Nightmare and Woe Keywords, it could hire both Nightmare and Woe models without penalty, which gives it quite a cost-effective Leader for players that want to run a Crew of mixed Nightmares and Woes. The Carver is restricted from hiring any Masters while it is the Leader – Henchmen can’t run Crews that contain Masters as a general rule – but this doesn’t mean that it’s helpless.

Henchmen gain two distinct bonuses while they’re the Leaders of their Crew. The first is that, like Masters, Leaders can take three Actions per Activation in M3E, which helps them compete with Masters. The second bonus comes in the form of each Faction’s Effigy model, which has a special rule allowing it to be hired for free into a Crew with a Henchman Leader. This allows each Effigy model to effectively serve as a generic Totem for its Faction’s Henchmen, which further helps to ensure that matches between Master Leaders and Henchmen Leaders are balanced.

But just what does the Carver bring to a Crew? Well, let’s take a look.

First we have Terrifying (11). There’s no more immunity to Horror duels in M3E (or Horror duels at all, for that matter), so models will have to deal with the Carver’s Terrifying Ability each time they target this murderous scarecrow. The penalties for failure have been reduced, however; now, instead of a model’s Activation immediately ending, the Action that targeted the Carver simply fails. This ensures that Terrifying isn’t quite such an “all or nothing” Ability, which in turn means that we’re not as restricted in our design process by the innate rules of M2E’s Horror duels. If you’ve heard us talk about “simplifying Malifaux,” this is the sort of thing we mean: we keep the feel and fluff of an ability while making it less cumbersome to process on the tabletop.

Moving on! Next up is Feed on Fear, an Ability possessed by just about every Nightmare model beyond the Dreamer. While not overly flashy, Feed on Fear is a nice little heal effect that helps to keep the Carver (and other Nightmares) on their feet.

Ruthless is next. In M3E, Ruthless is a great Ability, as it allows a model to completely ignore the Terrifying and Manipulative Abilities. The Carver is an invaluable addition to any Crew that intends to face off against enemies that rely on these Abilities for protection (such as the Performers, Journalists, and Redchapel models).

Next up we have Opportunist, which is a common Ability among Woe models. As both a Nightmare and a Woe, the Carver gets the best of both worlds! Opportunist makes the Carver’s attacks more reliable against enemy models with the Stunned Condition, which the Woes hand out like candy at, well… Halloween. The Stunned Condition is incredibly powerful, as it prevents a model from both declaring Triggers and taking Bonus Actions (i.e. M2E’s (0) Actions), so if you’re facing Pandora and relying upon your Triggers to save you, well… you’re probably going to have a bad day.

Finally, we have the new version of Misery. One very important rule in M3E is that models can’t be affected by multiple versions of the same Aura. If an enemy model Cheats Fate near three models with the Misery Ability, for example, it will only suffer one damage. This does shut down Pandora’s traditional tactic of “surround them with Sorrows and papercut them to death,” but on the other hand, playing against Pandora no longer feels like torture, so it’s hard to get too upset over the change. This new version of Misery punishes the opponent for Cheating Fate, which ties back into Pandora’s new control game.

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Flipping over to the back side of the Carver’s card, we have its melee Action, Shears. Engagement ranges and average damage have both dropped in M3E, but even then, 2/2/4 isn’t particularly great for a 10ss Henchman like the Carver. What makes up for it is its stat of 7, which is among the best of the best, and his built-in Ram, which allows it to automatically hit its Critical Strike trigger to jump up to a 3/3/5 damage track… or 4/4/6 with a Ram card or a spent Soulstone!

While this allows the Carver to put out some really great damage, it also forces the scarecrow to make a choice when it comes to Triggers: should it go with the high, reliable damage, or would it be better to make another Attack? The Swift Action Trigger gives the Carver this option, but it’s important to note that Actions generated by Triggers cannot themselves declare Triggers in M3E. In addition to stopping infinite Attack chains (which are fun but also incredibly frustrating), this ensures models aren’t chaining together truly absurd strings of damage and effects like you’d sometimes see in M2E.

Finally, there’s the good ol’ Execute Trigger, which just flat-out Kills something dead (unless the opponent pays the price, of course). The “Demise” Abilities listed in the Trigger are a broad set of Abilities that happen after a model is Killed, such as cosplaying Gremlins turning into normal Bayou Gremlins or Leveticus returning from death to possess one of his Hollow Waifs. Since the Execute Trigger ignores these effects, it makes a great counter to models that expect to make the most of their own deaths.

The Carver’s second Action is Breath of Fire, which gives it some solid, reliable blast damage. Blasts work pretty much just like they did in M2E, so you can all pretty much figure out how Breath of Fire works. One of the nice things about this Action is that it’s not a Projectile Action (there’s no gun icon), so it can be used even if the Carver is engaged.

The Carver’s third Action is Glimpse of Insanity. The little lightning bolt icon denotes that this Action is a Bonus Action, so using it doesn’t count toward one of the Carver’s Actions, though it can only be used once per Action. In M2E, this would have been called a “Free Action” or a “(0) Action).” As for its effects, Glimpse of Insanity is fairly common among Woe models and ties into that “Woes will make your models Stunned like whoa” playstyle that I mentioned earlier.

Finally, we have Draw Essence, which allows the Carver to suck the life out of models around it. The italicized portion of this Action is its cost, which must be paid when the Action is declared. By separating Actions out into costs and effects like this, we’ve managed to make some of the more complicated Actions in the game a bit easier to parse.

So there you have it! That’s a glimpse of the Carver and how it ties into M3E.

Next time, we’ll take a look at some Effigy and Emissary models and talk about how, with a bit of love and some tender care, you can grow one into the other during a game.

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