Monday, 26 May 2014

Malifaux Masters: Lady Justice

This time around on Malifaux Masters, I'm going to take a trip Downtown to the Governor General's HQ and have a look into The Guild. Specifically, Lady Justice.

Lady Justice is The Guild's answer, mainly, to Resurrectionists, according to the background at least, but she's certainly more than capable of taking on anyone. She is everything you'd expect from a melee Master, with more than enough tricks under her (admittedly very slim) belt to keep things interesting for any opponent daring to face her. She is, after all, the embodiment of Justice.

Her stat-line is everything you'd expect, above average across the board with a decent Soulstone cache of 4. With a Df of 5 and Wp of 7, she can take attacks fairly well, and with a Wk of 5 and a Ch of 7, she is incredibly fast with a melee threat range of 14" (her engagement range is 2" with her Greatsword). With 14 wounds, she's certainly amongst the toughest of Masters out there. 

Her Df trigger, Riposte, will keep your opponent wary of combat. Every time an assailant misses an attack, they take a minimum of 3 damage - that's pretty huge - and Blindfighter means that Lady J doesn't care about LoS. She can charge around corners, through forests or anything else that your opponent chooses to hide behind (so Rasputina's Ice Pillars are greatly reduced in effectiveness).

Once in combat too, her Final Repose stops whatever she kills from dropping any markers (Scrap, Corpse or even Scheme, so forget about your Finish the Job ability). This severely impacts on Resurrectionist crews or Ramos who will be hoping for markers to summon more models, or crews like Colette or Mei Feng who use markers for other reasons. It denies your opponent one of their resources. 

Finally, and perhaps most importantly for a crew with a hefty combat leaning, Inspiring Swordplay boosts every one of your models within 8" killing ability.

Though she only has the one Attack Action, Greatsword is more than ample for getting the job done. It has the same damage and ability as Lilith's (gaining + to the damage flip if she didn't charge) but has an innate trigger that ups the damage for every ram flipped. Her minimum damage so thereby 4; and with a rams in the flip, a Soulstone burned and the inate rams, you're looking at a 6-9 damage attack. Perfect for putting down a stubborn zombie. 

For her Tactical Actions Restore Natural Order removes Burning, Poison, Defensive, Brilliance... You name it, gone. This severely hampers crews like Kaeris or McMourning that rely on passing off conditions, and Jakob Lynch is sitting in the corner crying as all that hard work has just come undone. 

Then her zero AP abilities (for she has two) are Juggernaut, a straight up cheatable heal, and Covering Fire. Perfect if she's about to make a mad dash across the board and can't quite make it into combat yet. 

In all, Lady Justice is one of the simpler Masters out there to run, making her great for beginners to learn the game, as her card is quite simple, but don't let that fool you. This girl has tricks-a-plenty to ensure dominance of the tabletop!

Her Implacable upgrade adds a layer of protection against shooting, and stops your prey running away before you can hack them to pieces. Push triggers can still rip them away, so don't rely on it exclusively, but it will help tie up models. 

Justice Unleashed is one of those upgrades you'll find yourself taking against certain crews, but never considering for others. Against Spirit and Undead heavy crews, it's exceptional. The pulse effect has a decent range, especially considering Lady J's speed at getting into your opponents lines. Again, the damage isn't even the point - it's that your opponent is going to flip a load of cards and cheat a load from his hand too. You're resource burning them, pure and simple, and the Last Rites zero AP it gives her clears the floor of pesky Corpse and Scrap markers. You've just broken Mei Feng's Railwalk out of combat, and stopped Ramos or Nicodem from summoning. 

Last Stand is great for running your crew across the board and swamping an enemy Master. If Assassination comes up, use this ability to slam Lady J and a load of Marshalls into combat. You'll knock your opponent senseless and be able to weather the storm. Of course, being Unimpeded is very useful too. Forest? What forest?

If you like pure unadulterated beat stick, you'll love Vendetta. It adds two triggers to her Greatsword. One adds another + to damage (that's ++ If she didn't charge!) the other allows her to attack again. As a bit of math, if you flip weak damage and declare the Onslaught trigger, then burn a Soulstone, cheat a ram and declare her Critical Strike trigger and still get Weak damage, you'll have done a total of 9. That's if BOTH flips are weak. 

She can also be given Flames of the Pit to make her immune to Horror Duels and Terrifying (Undead) 12. This will severely hamper any Resurrectionist crew. 

What about the General Guild Upgrades?

Well, Plant Evidence is fantastic for getting extra VP for any Scheme Marker based Scheme. If the model survives, you get to move and drop a new marker. If they die, you get a free marker too. Great for Breakthrough, Protect Territory, Plant Evidence and many more.

Vengeance Bullet is not even worth mentioning as Lady J has no shooting attacks, and the regaining a Soulstone on her death? Not worth an upgrade slot for her. Read the ones above, stop considering this upgrade. 

Finally, I think we find a Stone upgrade that I would be willing to use. The Thalarian Stone may actually see use with Lady J as she's going to be wading deep into your opponents crew, and you probably don't want her to die. Echo of Souls will up her Df or Wp enough to see her through most attacks. If the attack does make it through, she can discard it for free to heal 2 damage. 

Lead Lined Coat, to me at least, is pointless. An upgrade slot for Armor +1 might be worth it on some (but it doesn't strike me as worth the cost). For Lady J, you're sacrificing one of her good upgrades to take this.

Finally, if you're up against a crew with a high damage output (Hello Rail Golems, Lilith, Seamus' .50 Flintlock...) then Badge of Office allows you to stick your tongue out at an opponent and reduce whatever insane damage they deal to 1. I've watched an opponent focus twice with Seamus, fire his .50 Flintlock and cheat in a Red Joker, only for his target (in this case Sonnia Criid) reduce all of that to 1 damage by discarding this upgrade. It's great fun.

That's Lady J herself, but what do you take in her crew? Whatever you want, really! The Guild's Justice box, as you might expect, will see you off a long way. The Judge is an excellent addition to Lady J, being a slightly tamer version of her with shooting capabilities too. Being a Guild Marshall also helps with synergy, especially with the Last Stand upgrade.
Death Marshalls, naturally, are also a great choice. They have decent ranged attacks, synergise (as above) and if things get too heated for Lady J, they can Pine Box it out of the way (fully stoked up Rail Golem about to lay the snack-down? Not anymore!).
The Lone Marshall is another fantastic choice as he adds a great deal or manoeuvrability and ranged threat to the crew. The same goes for many of the Ortega family models.

As for Totems, Lady J is one of the few Masters to have a bad lot when it comes to Totems. Her scales will take her to Wp 8, and it's ability manipulate flips is nice. The Governors Proxy has his usual uses of healing and making suicide runs for his Governor's Influence ability. The Child of Malifaux is as good as useless as he can't make his Just Like You! ability work as he'd need a 15 to pull it off. The Student of Conflict can give Lady J fast, which is hilarious, but all in all, her totem options are quite underwhelming. I tend to use the Scales for the flip manipulation.

As for playing against Lady J, there's really only one word of advice, and that's to target her from range. She has very little protection against Sh, and none against Ca. If you can blast her before she gets close, so much the better. 

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