Waldo’s at it again. This week, we found him in the warehouse putting on a puppet show. After rattling off his nonsensical play for five long hours (eight acts? Really?), he demanded that we either watch it again or talk about Malifaux Third Edition. So here we are.
Let’s talk about Puppets! Or, more specifically, let’s talk about Effigies. As always, remember that we’re still in beta testing, so some things might change between now and release.
In the story, the Swamp Witch Zoraida created the Effigies as a means of spying upon and manipulating the various Factions of Malifaux. When Governor-General Kitchener attempted to ascend and become a Tyrant, Zoraida had planned to use the Effigies as a means of leeching away much of that power for herself. Unfortunately, her plan backfired and the Effigies retained the power they stole from Kitchener, becoming stronger entities known as Emissaries.
The Effigy and Emissary models are still around in M3E, so let’s take a look at one of them to see how they’re looking in the new edition.
The Carrion Effigy has many traits that are common to its Effigy brethren, such as Hard to Kill and Accomplice. Hard to Kill works the same as it did in M2E, but as you can see, Accomplice now comes with a cost attached to it, namely that the player has to discard a card or a Pass Token. The ability to chain activate models is very powerful in a game of alternating Activations, so attaching a bit of a cost to that ability helps to level the playing field a bit. Also of note is that the rulebook limitation on Chain Activations is no more; if you have multiple models with Accomplice or Companion (which works similar to Accomplice) together, you can potentially get multiple Activations in a row… if you’re willing to pay the cost of doing so.
Armor is also common to all of the Effigies. The big difference between M2E and M3E is that Armor doesn’t say that it reduces damage “to a minimum of 0,” because that’s just a general rule in M3E: any sort of reduction can only reduce damage to a minimum of 1, unless the reduction effect says otherwise.
Finally, we have Helping Hand, which we’ve mentioned before. Helping Hand effectively turns the Effigy models into generic Totems for Henchmen models, which helps those Henchmen stand their ground against Master models. Masters will usually have a bit of an edge in games against Henchmen, just by virtue of having very powerful Actions, but this bonus helps to close the gap a bit.
On the back side of the Carrion Effigy we can see its Actions. Entropic Siphon is its only Attack Action. The Attack gets better when targeting models that are already wounded, and if it hits, it also weakens the target for subsequent attacks. The stat is only a 4, true, but that’s not quite the death knell that it was in M2E; stats of 4 and 5 are more common (even on Masters), and Defense and Willpower stats in general are down across the board. One of the goals of rebalancing M3E was ensuring that we had a broader spread of stats, since having everything at stat 6 just doesn’t provide the spread that the game needs to feel dynamic.
Stitch Up is the Carrion Effigy’s next Action. Since the Carrion Effigy is a Resurrectionist, the Ability to heal Undead models is usually pretty useful, though it might see less of a use in Crews led by Kirai, who generally don’t associate with Undead models all that much (on account of Kirai being a ghost summoner). Still, a fairly reliable source of healing for a majority of the Faction’s models is pretty good!
Finally, we have the Effigy’s Aura of Decay. All of the Effigies have at least one Aura ability, and the Carrion Effigy’s Aura is very strong, allowing it to shut down the ability of enemy models to both Heal and to reduce damage with Soulstones. For veterans of M2E, it’s worth noting that there’s no more divide between “preventing damage” and “reducing damage;” it’s all “reduce” in M3E, as the distinction was one of the more confusing elements of M2E for players to grasp.
Now that we’ve had a look at an Effigy model, let’s talk about the Effigy of Fate Upgrade.
The Emissary of Fate Upgrade allows an Effigy model to replace itself with its corresponding Emissary model at the start of Turn 3 or any subsequent Turn, mimicking how the Effigies turned into Emissaries in the story. “Replace” is a new game term in M3E that does pretty much exactly what it implies: the Emissary is placed in base contact with the Emissary, sets its Health to that of the Emissary, and gains any game effects that were affecting the Effigy model (which includes counting for any Schemes that might have chosen the Effigy as their subject) before the Effigy model is removed from play.
This can be a bit of a gamble – the Effigy of Fate Upgrade makes the Effigy into great, big, glowing target – but being able to access an Emissary model for a reduced Cost is often worth the risk. This is even better for Henchmen Leaders, who can hire the Effigy model for free!
Let’s take a look at the Carrion Emissary, shall we?
The Carrion Emissary boasts a couple of strong defenses. As with all the Emissaries, it retains the Hard to Kill Ability from its Emissary days, and it’s also gained Terrifying (12), which makes it difficult to be targeted by weak-willed models. Here we get our first look at the new Flight Ability, which contributes to the Carrion Emissary’s great movement (remember, it’s on a 50mm base, so that place effect makes it more mobile than its Mv 5 would otherwise suggest). The Flesh Crawls rounds out the package by providing a movement buff to friendly Undead models around it, which carries forward the theme of “Undead support” possessed by the Carrion Effigy.
On the back of the Carrion Emissary, we can see that it has a Beak Attack that does respectable damage. The range of 0” means that it has to be in base contact with its target to attack it, which is only a minor inconvenience, given the mobility offered by Flight.
Rot and Rend is the reason to keep the Carrion Emissary out of melee range if at all possible. It not only does solid damage but also debuffs those it injures, echoing the debuff abilities on its former self. My Loyal Servant and Infect are both useful Triggers, and Zombify rounds out the package by allowing the Emissary to turn a Killed target into a Mindless Zombie.
The Carrion Effigy’s Aura of Decay returns with a higher stat, but now it has stiff competition with Exhumation, which creates Coffin Markers nearby. The Unexpected Zombie Trigger can exchange a Marker for a Mindless Zombie, but the Markers themselves can be quite useful for providing cover or blocking Line of Sight to the advancing Resurrectionist forces. The “Destructible” Trait means that a model within 1” of the Terrain Marker can spend an Action to destroy it, which in general helps to mitigate the M2E issue of creating terrain to block off portions of the board. In M3E, that’s still possible, but it’s not a permanent solution, as those barriers can be destroyed.
What you won’t find on an Emissary is a Master-specific Upgrade. In M2E, the Emissaries could take Upgrades specific to the Master leading its Crew, each of which changed its behavior in various ways. We’ve done away with those Upgrades in M3E, as they were generally used as patches to sub-par Masters and were either not impressive enough to see the table or (more rarely) so strong that they became mandatory hires with their respective Masters.
By removing Emissary Upgrades from the game, we’re able to focus upon making each Emissary good on its own merits instead of dependent upon the strength of its Upgrade. This also helps new players by ensuring that each Emissary plays the same in each game, instead of being an entity whose Abilities, Actions, and role change depending upon the Master.
Next time, we’ll be taking a break from Malifaux Third Edition to take a peek into Titans in The Other Side!