Today I'm breaking the program and jumping madly ahead with the Malifaux Masters series, and looking at Colette and her crew! I was intending to work my way gradually through Wave 1 first, but a thread appeared on Colette up on 'A Wyrd Place' (mainly because I put it there...) and I wanted to share the responses, because they were amazing.
It's worth saying before we continue that what follows is in my own words, but that most of the ideas came from one David McGuire. After the break, we'll examine Colette and her crew in a very different manner to the rest of my Malifaux Masters posts. This one is less of a card breakdown, and more of a Colette Tactica.
Colette's crew is very good at dropping strat/scheme markers and at board control/claiming. It has a great advantage in forcing your opponents play, as you're likely to out-activate them. You'd need to be very careful with cheating mind as that's a lot of models - though the extra card from Arcane Reservoir will help.
Colette's crew is all about Scheme Marker manipulation. Most of the models have easy ways of dropping Scheme Markers (either as triggers, or by being within 8" of Colette who then makes all (1) Interactions cost 0). The concern of running out of cards in your hand is a very real one (with 10 models to begin with, and the possibility of swapping Colette's upgrades to allow her to summon more Mechanical Doves). That's why I had included "Nothing Up My Sleeve" which allows you to swap a Soulstone for two cards, or two cards for a Soulstone.
Other than Cassandra, nobody in the crew needs a lot of Soulstones. Colette usually needs her free soulstone (which can only be used for adding a suit to a duel) for either summoning Doves or for her Masks defence trigger. If using it for defence she usually only needs to do it once per Turn to get out of danger.
As for low cards, keeping a low Mask for Colette's defence and another low card for Cassandra's Southern Hospitality. Nothing Up My Sleeve can be used for generating cards, but usually Colette needs to do something else with her AP. If running Arcane Reservoir, Nothing Up My Sleeve might be overkill.
If Cassandra is your sole tank, maybe you do need an inordinate amount of cards and soulstones. With those resources Cassandra can bounce around in the middle of your enemies crew, dropping scheme markers like confetti, with Colette essentially being there to generate those resources for her.
Of course, you can also use your Mechanical Doves to charge up Cassandra's Ca, and Dg flips. With Imbued Energies as an upgrade, Cassandra can use her Breath of Fire 3 times on Turn 2, then Colette can Prompt her to do it a further 3 times. This can be made even more damaging by using Siren Call from the Performers (or Lure from the Oiran) to draw low Df models into range. Once weakened, Cassandra can dive in and hold them up whilst the rest of the crew goes Scheme Marker crazy.
On the subject of dropping things right into your opponents crew, you can throw a Mechanical Dove deep into the enemy lines, then use Colette's Disappearing Act to drop a Mannequin into the middle of their crew. With a 2" melee range, and with Armor +3, they're tough to kill but your opponent has to take them out or risk Slow on their key models. With the A Lady's Secret upgrade (specifically the Encore trigger) you can drop multiple Mannequins with a single Mechanical Dove.
Cassandra can also be used for this, instead of a Mechanical Dove, since her Df trigger (from Smoke And Mirrors upgrade - which is almost a given if you're taking Cassandra) will be dropping Scheme Markers. Colette then drops the Mannequins in with Disappearing Act and Cassandra makes good her escape.
Practiced Production and Scheme Markers:
The Practiced Production upgrade is probably the only must-take upgrade for a Colette crew. The ability to place scheme markers for free, in a crew which makes such varied use of them, is invaluable.
The only downside to Practiced Production is that you must discard a scheme marker at the end of the Turn. The main aim of Turn 1, therefore, is to use your minion's (0) Interact actions given to them by Colette's Rehearsed ability to lay down as many scheme markers as you can around your own deployment zone. These are the ones that will be discarded in later Turns. For extra credit, if they can be spaced 6" apart, Colette can use them as a line of retreat (with Now You See Me...) if needs be.
For Showgirls, every scheme marker is potentially (in order of importance):
- VP's through Scheme's
- A node for moving your models across the board (Disappearing Act)
- A resource for Orchestral Crescendo (if using Coryphée)
- A resource for Performer's Seduction (but better to use enemy Scheme Markers if possible)
It's then well worth examining different ways to get scheme markers onto the table, since you never know when you'll need another.
- Interact. Remembering that friendly minions can do this as a (0) Interact action when within 8" of Colette (thanks to Rehearsed) but this does still have all the usual restrictions of an Interact action (ie, not engaged, and no other scheme markers within 4").
The following methods, however, ignore the usual restrictions of an Interact action, allowing the Scheme Marker to be placed anywhere.
- Colette's Props trigger on her Hooked Cane attack (requires a Mask). This lets her place a scheme marker within 1", with no other restrictions.
- Mannequins and Mechanical Doves have the Part Of The Show ability which allows them to be considered as Scheme Marker. If the ability would discard the Scheme Marker, you must sacrifice the model, however, unless Colette has the A Lady's Secret upgrade for the Encore trigger for Disappearing Act.
- Cassandra's Smoke And Mirrors trigger, from the upgrade of the same name. If Cassandra succeeds a Wp or Df duel with a Mask, she can drop a Scheme Marker in base contact. The downside is that enemies must be attacking Cassandra, but since she's a tank and has several damaging abilities, she tends to attract a lot of incoming fire anyway, so it's not too much of an issue.
- The Trap Doors ability granted by Practised Production (possibly taken on Colette or Cassandra, or possibly even Angelica). This will let the model place a scheme marker for free within 3" of a friendly model, but cannot be within 3" of an enemy model. On Turn 1 you'll have to discard a scheme marker at the end of the turn, but otherwise is fantastic for bouncing your crew around the board. Place a scheme marker right where you need it.
As an added bonus, the Magician's Assistant action (Mannequins) allows friendly models placing Scheme Markers to place them up to 6" away. This is brilliant if Spring the Trap or Plant Explosives are available scheme, and is highly useful for placing jump points behind enemy lines for Colette to use (Disappearing Act) or for Orchestral Crescendo. It is well worth remembering that a Performer can do this even while engaged thanks to their Don't Mind Me ability.
Of course, the reliance on Scheme Markers isn't without its concerns. There are several models out there that can discard scheme markers at range, thus denying Colette's crew of a key resource. These include (but there are likely more that we've missed):
Beyond Showgirls, there are some other models that are well suited.
- The Mechanical Rider. The Arcane Ritual trigger is very powerful for Showgirls as it places scheme markers next to enemy models and can do so from range. This makes it very useful for schemes, getting behind enemy lines with Disappearing Act or setting up Orchestral Crescendo. The only issue is that the Mechanical Rider is best in the late game, and as a key target needs protecting for the first few turns.
- Union Miners, specifically their False Claim ability. Forget the bit about discarding one of these Scheme Markers at the end of the turn as they will be used up anyway. Just one Union Miner can drop 4 Scheme Markers in a single activation, which will let Colette reposition herself and two other key models, with a scheme marker left over until the end of the turn for her Now You See Me... Df trigger if anyone threatens her. Of course, it can also be used for Colette's All Together Now action from the Cabaret Choreography upgrade. Since you can resolve the actions generated by the ability in any order, the Union Miner can activate first and drop two more!
- Willie. His Set Charge tactical action combines very well with the Showgirls ability to spam scheme markers in a confined space, such as around a Turf War marker. Even more useful is the guaranteed 2 damage each one does (sometimes you just need to finish off a model). You can use a Performer's Siren Call to pull the enemy in if they don't appear to be too willing to get close.
There are other models that can remove them as a (0) Interact action (such as Nephilim near a Cherub, or models near an enemy Colette) but these tend to only remove a single marker. The above models can affect multiple per activation.
- As a support model, Angelica needs to be replacing another support model in the crew. You don't want too many.
- Projected Voice is worth saving a Mask for in order to get the Paralyse trigger. Cassandra can then borrow Projected Voice using her Understudy ability and soulstone in the mask. A tremendously powerful ability without even considering the blasts.
- Give Them An Encore is a movement trick, and these are always solid gold in Malifaux. A Colette crew has quite a few movement tricks, but this one is great. Colette can even Prompt her to do it, which could result in a whole lot of fine placement going on.
- After your opponent sees her Get Off The Stage Df trigger, nobody is going to want to touch her for fear of being teleported across the board.