It’s that time of year again. Birds are chirping, crocuses are popping out of the ground, and Wyrd has taken out its Balance Hatchet and made some, uh, “adjustments.”
This is an annual ritual, usually accompanying the new Gaining Grounds packet. This year, Wyrd surprised us all with an early errata drop– they released the changes in February, and here we are in April and they still haven’t (at time of writing) released the new Gaining Grounds. That’s all right, though; Gaining Grounds 2 is in a really good place, and nobody will be too sorry to play with it for a month or two longer. The errata, meanwhile, was sorely needed.
Wyrd prefers not to errata a model more than once if they can help it (there are, of course, rare exceptions), and so they usually wait a full year after release to see if things are truly busted enough to need a change. This is thus the first errata after the release of the Explorer’s Society models, and so the changes are concentrated there; if you think the faction was a bit too strong, Wyrd evidently agreed with you, and some of the top performers were cut down to size.
Wyrd’s approach to errata is much more scalpel than sledgehammer, though, and they usually do as much buffing as nerfing. Malifaux has a lot of models, and the goal seems to be that they all see play at some point. That’s ambitious, but the company definitely knows what Keywords are underperforming and does their best to spruce them up. This time around, two Masters got a bit of help, and while the jury’s still out on Wong, it seems like Rasputina has really become a force to be reckoned with.
We’ll go through the factions one by one and discuss the changes. This article is definitely intended for people who have played a bit of Malifaux and can understand the changes, but if you’ve been looking into the game and you see a model you’re interested in named on this list, feel free to partake of my wisdom.
Everyone was expecting big changes to the Society, and Wyrd didn’t disappoint. Mostly nerfs, as you might expect from a chronically overperforming faction, but nothing too brutal.
Let’s not bury the lead. English Ivan was not the consensus best master in the game, but only because Nexus was neck and neck with him. The two were easily head and shoulders above everyone else, and Ivan was much easier to play (and to splash in as a second master for truly nightmarish games). So what’s changed with him?
Well, quite a bit, actually. For one thing, that slash up there in the header is gone for good. Ivan’s no longer an Umbra model (though he can still hire them as though he had the Keyword). That mostly means that a few abilities won’t work on him anymore, the biggest one being Gibson DeWalt’s healing wrench; Ivan was hard enough to remove without Gibson healing him for 4 every round and usually drawing two cards in the process.
Beyond that, the biggest change is to his summoning, which he does via a trigger on his ranged attack; he now needs to hit a minimum value of 14 on his attack flip to summon, meaning you actually have to commit a real card to it, and when he summons he no longer does damage with that attack. The damage wasn’t much, but it certainly added up over the course of the game. He’s also lost 4″ of range on his Penumbral Converter ability, a change so marginal I wonder why they bothered, but the two above are pretty significant nerfs that impact both his survivability and damage output.
It’s not just Ivan that got a visit from the Balance Fairy– the Brocken Spectres, too, woke up with some coal in their stockings. They lost Terrifying, but more importantly, their Hallowed Glory ability was reworked. Formerly, the ability caused nearby enemies to take a test, and any who failed were pushed into base contact with the Spectre, then every enemy in base contact took damage. The predictable and obvious use case for this ability is to move into base contact and then use it, guaranteeing the damage without any flipping on your opponent’s part. Wyrd doesn’t love abilities that do damage that way, so now only models that were moved by the action take damage.
This is a significant nerf to their damage output; they already weren’t being hired, only summoned, but now getting one summoned into the middle of your crew isn’t nearly as bad. It’s still not, you know, great, but without Terrifying they’re actually rather fragile, so now there’s reasonable counterplay in the form of just killing the damn thing.
Nexus was renowned for not only being incredibly powerful, but for being a pretty negative play experience to face off against– doing damage to yourself every time you hit your opponent gets old fast. She’s taken her lumps, too, and lost a bit of her mojo. The most impactful changes aren’t actually on her card – they’re on the Hivemind upgrade, Will of Cadmus, that she attaches at the start of the game. Parasitic Grasp, the ability that lets you treat enemy models with Parasite tokens as friendly Cadmus models, now only functions during friendly activations. Functionally, what this mostly means is that you can’t spill damage onto them with We Are Legion.
This was a huge part of Nexus’s power, since the first damage each of your dudes took each activation hitting the other team as long as you were spreading the love around made them brutal to face. Losing that ability makes the crew both squishier and less deadly. The damage enemies take from having multiple Parasite tokens is no longer irreducible, either, meaning that armored crews and those who spread around Shielded have some counterplay. The TN on Will of Cadmus was reduced by 2, which is good for Cadmus players but doesn’t counterbalance the nerfs, and the Uncomfortable Twitch trigger is now after succeeding instead of after resolving – so it isn’t just a free 2″ move on the model of your choosing.
Nexus herself has also been changed in some significant ways. The TN on Citizens of Malifaux, her summoning ability, increased by one (well, it increased by 2, but the stat increased by 1, so…), and now it caps at summoning three Eyes and Ears. You would very, very rarely summon four, but now you can’t. More importantly, the Eyes and Ears are treated as Mindless, giving up their activation on the turn they’re summoned, which brutally throttles the infamous Husk Factory.
Overall, Nexus’s summoning has been dramatically scaled back, which is a good thing. Play with the models you have!
In other news, Nexus lost the Severe Injury trigger on her melee attack, replacing it with Blood Loss… pretty much the same, but it caps at +1 Injured inflicted instead of 2. This was necessary due to Siphon Power making it fairly simple to get to 2 injured inflicted with a single Stat 7 attack. And she’s lost Siphon Life, instead getting Tear Off a Bite, losing +1 damage but gaining +1 healing. These changes seem designed to reduce Nexus’s offensive punch, pushing her more firmly into the control camp.
But just to stop her from getting too oppressive there, she got the Zoraida treatment, her Omnipresent Influence ability gaining the Aura tag so that it requires Line of Sight. You actually have to expose Nexus to some danger now to use her abilities! She’s been eating her Wheaties and has gone up to Size 3, which will help her draw LOS to her mostly Size 2 crew, but it also makes her a bit easier to see herself.
Nexus’s best buddy the Archivist has taken a hit, too, in possibly the least surprising development since [insert topical reference here]. He was showing up out of keyword all the time, and that’s usually a sign that model is going to see some changes.
Headlining the changes is Ill Omens. It’s… (Joker voice) gone!
And thank Wyrd for that. Getting to always win initiative just because you took one of the best models in your faction was fairly tiresome. His Killer Late Fees trigger lost its damage bonus, so no more Min 3 damage shots, and he lost the Spin Web trigger. That makes sense– when the most common use case for a model is to shoot your own master twice to draw two cards and drop two web markers, something’s wrong.
He’s picked up some toys in return – Dust and Cobwebs gives him one free web marker per activation, and he picked up the Hush (which hands out Parasite tokens on a failed TN13 Df duel) and Get In There triggers on his ranged attack, giving him some neat options.
The Archivist is still a very strong model, but with the loss of Ill Omens and the reduction in his damage output, he’s substantially less threatening than he used to be. You’ll still see him in nearly 100% of Nexus lists, but probably closer to 0% outside of his Keyword, which is as things should be.
The Cadmus keyword in general has been substantially powered down by this update, though it’s worth noting that 90% of the changes were to Nexus herself, and therefore don’t touch her (extremely potent) Title incarnation, Nexus, One of Many. Therefore, you should expect to see those creepy kids coming to a lot of tables near you. The offensive potential of the keyword has dropped precipitously, but it’s still an incredibly potent control army and one you should not underestimate.
No changes to Maxine here. Instead, we see a bit of a tweak to Calypso Mk. II. Everyone’s favorite octo-bathysphere was showing up a lot, probably even more than the Archivist. Hiring Beebe & Calypso hire gave pretty much every crew in the faction a safe and mostly foolproof way to score Symbols or Corrupted Ley Lines, and when a model shows up out of keyword that often, you know it’s due for a change.
In this case, Calypso took a quadruple whammy. First, its Df went from 6 to 5, meaning it’ll be a bit harder to stop as it jaunts merrily around the board. Second, the range of its explosive demise went from 2″ to 1″, meaning it’s a bit less damaging when it does go down. Third, it lost the Mass of Tentacles trigger on its Thriller Driller tactical action. This makes sense; the fact that it could use Beebe’s Tome reconfigure meant that every tome in your hand (or on top of your deck) was worth a free 1 damage and 2″ of push to every model within 3″ of Calypso, with no counterplay of any kind possible because it was a trigger on a tactical action. That’s a bit much. It still has Mass on its melee attack, but there you have to actually hit, which dramatically reduces the amount of tentacle slappin’ you’ll be doing.
Fourth, and most impactfully, the Original Creator rule has become Original Creators, and now Calypso only gets a points discount if your crew includes both Beebe and Maxine. That’s huge; on top of all the other changes, slapping a 2-stone tax on Calypso in all other keywords (on top of the ordinary 1-ss OOK hiring tax) just makes it fundamentally not worth it in most situations.
You’ll still see Calypso out of keyword occasionally, especially with the Nexus kids, but not very commonly anymore. In keyword, it’s probably still an auto-hire, which just goes to show how insane it was before.
Once again, the change is not to the master but to their most-hired support model. In this case it’s Mikhail XVI, who has finally decided to get off his lazy ass and use his legs. He used to teleport to any nearby model that healed; in practical terms, that meant that he simply never took a walk action, ever. Now, he gets a 5″ push towards the healed model, which is both less distance and means that you need to worry about things like “terrain” and “intervening models.” He’s a bit faster at Mv 5″ now, but he’ll actually be taking walk actions occasionally.
His sword also went from 2″ range to 1″, which happens to every guy now and then and isn’t anything to be ashamed of. This was another necessary change; Caught in the Ring is a brutal rule, making it impossible for enemy models to attack anyone else if he was engaging them, and a 2″ radius around him is stupidly large in Malifaux terms. He can’t catch quite as many enemies as he used to, and with his movement being less powerful, positioning him becomes more important.
Once again, you’re likely not to see him as often OOK anymore, which is a good thing.
No nerfs here, at least not to the keyword. Cryptologists have been totally revamped. That’s probably a good thing, since they were never, ever hired in keyword, and only ever showed up in Nexus crews. Nexus abused their unique ability to double-trigger start-of-activation abilities to churn out Berserker Husks via Meredith Stanley. They lost that, thus indirectly nerfing Nexus, but gained a variety of abilities that can help Wastrel crews– they can let other models take actions on their attached relic upgrades, and can generate scrap to help Lucas dig up new treasures.
Will you see them in keyword now? Maybe, I guess? Hard to tell.
Two changes here, one big and one small. The Intrepid Emissary/Effigy’s Aura of Courage ability has been changed to only trigger on duels generated by enemy models, which means you’re not going to get 5-6 points of incidental healing every turn for no reason. Good.
The Emissary is still great, at Df 7 with Take the Hit and armor. It just makes your crew resilient now instead of invincible.
And the Alpinist’s Climbing Gear ability has great flexibility now, only requiring nearby models to start their activations near it to ignore terrain, though the thing is still terrible and so probably won’t see any play. Oh, and it heals more now when it eats scrap. Hooray!
ES definitely took it on the chin here, no arguments. Still, I think the nerfs were measured and well-targeted. Cadmus is a lot weaker, DUA/Umbra is a bit weaker, and the most egregious outliers in other keywords were pruned back a bit. I recently started playing ES and I have not yet found any of my crews crippled by these nerfs. The Brocken Spectre losing Terrifying might be a half-step too far, but honestly… screw that guy.
Overall, the faction is still in a great competitive place, and it also benefitted from getting one of the best Enforcers in Malifaux Burns in Jin Baccara, so I would not be surprised to see the teal brigade posting great results at tournaments.
Bayou had the next-most changes after ES, and like the Society, most of these were nerfs. What’s left? Anything? I guess we’ll see.
It shouldn’t be too surprising that Kin took a hit. The keyword was brutally strong, and with Francois showing up in the beater role in a variety of other crews (Zoraida and Zipp, commonly), he was definitely on the list. Unfortunately for LaCroix boosters the world over, the news is not good.
We’ll start with the less-brutal news. Rami went up a stone in cost (but also gained a point of health, hooray?). He also no longer ignores Concealment. Biggest of all, he lost both Swift Action and No Witnesses, instead getting Stagger. That last change is massive. No Witnesses was his best trigger, and while he still has a (much worse) mask trigger, he has nothing on crows now. Moreover, Concealment is rough for him, as he now needs to focus to overcome it. Rami’s damage potential went way down even as his cost went up, and while I still expect to see him – there’s nothing else in the crew that does quite what he does, especially with Ophelia2 – he’s not nearly what he was.
He’s doing positively great compared to Francois, though. Look! Look how they massacred my boy!
Franc lost Showdown and Hard to Kill, going from one of the hardest targets in the faction to… well, not one of the squishiest, but much softer. He also lost his built-in ram on his melee attack. That last change is massive. Going from a min 3 to a min 2 on your primary attack is fairly brutal, and it completely changes the math on Flurry… trading a card for an attack looks a lot worse now.
It’s not all bad news; he gained the new Rapid Reaction ability, giving him a ram on his first duel in each activation. That not only restores a shadow of his former melee glory, but it gives him access to Wild Shot on command, making his rarely-used gun a min 3 on its first shot. He also gained the Challenge action, with a ram trigger that operates similarly to Zipp2’s Captain’s Challenge: all models other than the Challenged target take a -twist on attacks against him. However, that trigger is not baked in, and to benefit from your free ram to make it happen Challenge must be your first duel of the activation… which creates some odd order-of-activation issues, especially since the target you’re challenging must not have activated yet.
Francois, to be blunt, sucks now. It’s just hard to see a role for him. He’s not nearly resilient enough to be the bully he once was, his damage output isn’t anywhere near what it used to be, he’s much more resource-intensive, and he has fiddly order-of-activation issues. Wyrd’s nerfs usually leave the model in at least a half-decent spot, but this is rough.
I’m not too broken up about it– Kin have had a good run, and Francois was clearly way too good– but this is the kind of nerf that ends up putting a model on the shelf, which is a bit of a bummer.
There’s some bad news here, too, so let’s get it out of the way. Bokors – possibly the most out-of-keyword-hired models in the entire game – have been gutted. They lost Obey entirely and lost Deja Vu, which were literally the only two relevant lines of text on the entire card. Sure, they gained a Surge trigger on their Protective Spirits action, and the new Consolidate Power, but those are barely any consolation. They also lost Big Voodoo, which admittedly rarely came up but really mattered when it did, in trade for Blast Resistant (which will save them a fairly minimal amount of damage over the course of the average game).
Their heal is a little easier to get off, but these changes are savage, and make them unappealing in their keyword and unimaginable outside it. You might still take them with Wong just because of how shallow his bench is, but like Francois they’ve basically been banished to the Shadow Realm.
The rest of the news is a lot better. Wong himself has been… ok, I think reworked is way too strong (especially when you compare his changes to Rasputina’s), but he’s been updated (and upgraded) in a pretty substantial way. His Launch Into Space action now targets any kind of Marker, giving it new flexibility, and his Counterspell has been replaced by Three Demon Bag, which simply disallows any triggers of any kind in duels against him. That’s a huge piece of tech, mostly defensive but with some offensive applications, and against some matchups it just completely shuts down the attacker. He’s also gained a point of defense.
His attack is a bit worse; rather than drop two Shockwave markers, it only drops one, with a built-in trigger for the second. You’ll still get your two markers, but that means you won’t be able to Surge at the same time, which reduces some of the crew’s card velocity (and remember that the Bokors also lost Deja Vu, which means you’ll be drawing a lot less). He’s lost Severe Injury entirely, which is a bummer even if you wouldn’t be declaring it that often with the new setup, but it’s also a bit weird that he had an Injured trigger when his main attack targets Movement.
Finally, he’s gained the Protective Glow trigger on his The Glow action, which doubles the amount of Glowy he hands out to friendly models and heals them. This change is huge and makes his keyword much more functional; one of the problems with Wizz-Bang has always been how much effort it takes to stack Glowy on your dudes, and this both reduces the amount of AP it takes and reduces the net damage you deal to yourself.
I’m much more excited about Swine-Cursed, though. They’ve lost Magical Influence, which is a pretty big deal; the ability to bake in your triggers means a lot more when you’re forced to declare one. However, they gained Tear Off a Bite, putting them in the exclusive club of attackers with a trigger in every suit and giving them some much-needed healing. They also gained more health, and now they have a built-in trigger to their Heroic Intervention ability which gives them some Shielded. Between those changes and the fact that now you have nothing to do with their Glowy but spend it on Infused Body, they’re enormously tougher and should be able to take a serious beating before dying (and they pulse damage when they die now!).
Finally, and most excitingly, they traded the Sooey keyword for Pig.
That is huge; Pigs have access to some of the most potent buffs in the game. Swine-Cursed may be slightly better with Wong, but they’re now absolutely bonkers with Ulix, and provide a key intermediate Pig to evolve your Piglets into.
These guys might win Most Improved in this round of errata, which is nothing to sneeze at… and as a Bayou player, I’ll take all the good news I can find.
RIP LaCroixs. I think Ophelia is still playable, but her two best models both got kneecapped, and one of them took a hit so hard I doubt he’s even still playable.
Wong… the jury’s still out on Wong. I think the fundamental problem that his crew has – that Shockwaves are an unreliable source of damage since your opponent can always choose to protect their key models – is still there, and even if Swine-Cursed are better now, Bokors are a lot worse. His Keyword is still extremely weak aside from Sammy and Alphonse. But maybe there’s something there now? If you can think of a good way to spend lots of Glowy, you should do ok, because you can put out lots of Glowy.
ES and Bayou headlines this round of changes, but Arcanists got quite a few updates themselves… and unlike the other two, it’s all good news. Good for them, because prior to this update Arcanists were really struggling competitively.
Imagine I said that last sentence in the most sarcastic voice imaginable.
Let’s not bury the lede here. Rasputina exists now. She’s a real model, with rules. I know, it’s shocking, but it’s true: you can take her and not feel bad about it.
The list of changes is extensive so I’ll just hit the highlights. She’s got a new Bonus Action that shoves around Ice Pillar markers and carries your models with it, giving her excellent maneuverability (important when your main beater is Mv 4 with a 50m base and no ability to ignore terrain). Enemies don’t get cover from Ice Pillars anymore, removing one of the biggest pieces of Skornergy (anti-synergy, for those who never played WM/H) from her crew. Her ranged attack doesn’t push targets, instead doing more damage if one of its blasts touches a Pillar, and can generate blasts even on Weak damage now (huge buff, given that it has a trigger to slow all damaged models; now they can’t avoid the aoe slow no matter what happens). Her Shockwave no longer does damage baseline, but does heal friendly models instead of hurting them, and now has a passel of nasty triggers.
Also she draws three cards a turn now for no good God damn reason.
She’s great! She does so much now! Play Rasputina! The biggest complaints against her crew were how anti-synergistic and resource hungry they were, and this update fixes both of those issues. Massive buff, and I could not be more happy about it. She has a new lease on life. More of this, please, Wyrd!
Well, this was a bit unexpected. Neil Henry’s always been a bit of an odd duck; Foundry is quite a large keyword, stretching across three factions, and Henry has struggled to find a place. This change substantially reworks him, giving him a much stronger scrap-marker focus. He gets bonuses for being near them, can drop them when he kills things, and can pull nearby models into them with his new Get to Work action (which also heals Foundry models).
He also gains a neat trick in Bulldoze, a very strong action which no other non-Master has, and that alone might be enough for him to find a place even out of keyword in some matchups. Bulldoze is great and can generate lots of scrap very quickly, something Mei2 will appreciate.
Little buff to Molemen here, who have always suffered from being 4/4 models with 5 wounds (i.e. in range to be murdered by any Severe 5 gun with relatively little investment). They now generate Tunnel Markers and can teleport to either them or to nearby Scheme Markers, but more importantly, they can let other Sz 2 beasts do the same.
I don’t know that this is great – limiting the ability to Sz 2 or below means you can’t tunnel with Chimeras or Cojo, both of whom would love this ability – but it’s certainly interesting enough to be worth a try at 4 stones. They also gain cover if they’re in severe terrain or on a scheme marker, which makes them a bit harder to shoot off the table.
Rasputina is absolutely worth a try now. I think Wong’s buff might not quite be enough to get him there, but Rasputina’s almost certainly is.
The Molemen and Neil Henry are cute options now, and both are probably worth a try. Take them for a spin and let me know in the comments how they perform.
Very few changes here, but still kinda neat.
Thalarian Quellers are a bit weird. Witch Hunter is a fairly small keyword, with only 9 in-faction choices, and Quellers have always been a little tough to use. This update gives them a defined identity: tech picks into Henchman-heavy crews or against trigger-reliant enemies. They’ve gained the Anti-Magic Field bonus action, a buff that gives a friendly model Wong’s Three Demon Bag ability for a turn: nobody can declare triggers in opposed duels with them.
That’s incredibly strong, obviously, and being able to staple it to Sonnia or a Witchling Thrall is a big deal. You need a suit, which you only get built in if you’re targeting a Witch Hunter, so this is a bit resource-heavy to run out of keyword… but you still might, it’s a very strong ability.
They also gain a 6″ aura that requires enemies to discard cards to use Soulstones, adding to the keyword’s already significant hand pressure. They lose their anti-summon tech, but they gain Gunfighter, even though their attack got a bit worse.
Overall, they’re not going to be killing stuff, but at least now they have a clear use case. If your opponent is running Zoraida or Colette or some other master with a powerful defensive trigger, cancel it and paste ’em; get up close and you can even turn off their Soulstone defenses.
Orderlies have changed hugely. These models are a bit weird, dating back to the Guild v. Neverborn two-player starter set from 2E, and have struggled to find a place. They used to have some fairly fiddly Staggered synergy; now, they still Stagger, but mostly to synergize with themselves.
They’ve got the Daevas’ Clingy ability, and they’re never considered engaged by any enemy model with Conditions, which makes them extremely strong scheme-runners given the fact that their melee attacks Stagger. They also have an actual bonus action now in Creep Along.
All told, I think they’re some of the best scheme runners in the faction now (admittedly a traditional area of weakness for the Guild) and definitely worth taking if your keyword has a hard time with Ley Lines or Symbols.
Minor changes, but the Orderly change at least is pretty exciting. They’re not stellar, but they’re absolutely serviceable, and given that they now do something many Guild keywords can’t do themselves I absolutely expect to see these guys on the table.
A mixture of nerfs and buffs here– it’s not all good news like Arcanists, but things aren’t as dire as they are for the Society or Bayou.
Bad news out of the way first. The Black Blood Shaman, long a mainstay of the faction, has been toned down – their Blasphemous Ritual is now a unique ability called Ancient Ritual, which triggers automatically after they move but only affects Nephilim is limited to once per turn (across all Shamans, so you can’t even double stack Focus anymore). It does let you give one of your Tots a grow token instead of focus, but most people don’t hire Tots, so that’s of limited utility.
More importantly, they can’t grow anymore. One of the reasons Shaman were so good is that they would pulse out Focused twice then turn into a 10-stone beater, and that second half just doesn’t happen now.
Also, their Blood Clot has a lower range.
You’re still going to see one of these guys in every Nekima list between now and the end of the time, but you won’t usually see two anymore, and you pretty much won’t ever see them out of keyword. That’s fine.
Bultungin… are real now! They lost Forage (a very difficult ability to trigger), Pack Mentality (likewise, especially since they’re often used as scheme runners) and Abundant Growth (not really necessary in Titania crews and weirdly out of place in Euripedes crews). But in return, they gain Hard to Kill and Favorable Terrain.
The latter is good, because scheme runners (in crews that generate tons of severe terrain) really shouldn’t be slowed by terrain, and the Cover will help them stay alive. The former is huge. 5 health is at the breakpoint where lots of Severes kill you in one hit, which is one reason they never really showed up before, and Hard to Kill just makes that a non-issue.
Also somewhat exciting is their new bonus action, Homeward Bound. No flip – you just target a Scheme Marker within 2″ and turn it into a copy of any one Terrain Marker in play. Obviously the primary use case for this is to create more Undergrowth or Ice Pillar markers – the kinds used by the Bultungin’s two keywords – but you can also create Webs or even Hungry Land markers if you’ve got the Widow Weaver or Mysterious Emissary.
That kind of flexibility is really cool and unlocks some unique plays, and it’s fun to see Wyrd exploring this type of design space
Changelings are next up, and the headline is the loss of Just Like You!
Wyrd’s design team has been upfront about this: an ability that copies Masters’ actions severely restricts their design space, since in the factions that had it they had to balance every Master tactical action against the possibility that several other friendlies could copy it each turn.
Changelings have lost that, but they’ve gained quite a bit. First of all, they’ve got a melee attack now, which is significant in all kinds of ways (engaging enemy models, mostly). Unassuming Demeanor isn’t great, especially with stat 5 and no triggers, but it might be worth a few damage here and there. They’ve gained Sidekick, a sort of limited By Your Side that can teleport them to nearby non-minion Mimics, and Take by the Hand, a version of Chain Gang that can hit enemies but also has a TN.
Finally, they gain On the Wrong Side, a very weird little ability that lets them remove enemy Scheme Markers or Terrain Markers, or even turn enemy Terrain Markers into friendly Scheme Markers by discarding a card. It’s… kind of odd, but if you really, really need marker removal, here it is. And they’re still only four soulstones.
Bloodwretches, like their Orderly counterparts, got a bit of a buff, including (for the first time this edition!) a bonus action. In their case, it’s Furious Swipe, a little tactical action that pulses out 1 damage in a 1″ bubble. They also picked up Hard to Kill.
Not much to say here: they’re both harder-hitting and harder to kill. Is it enough? Maybe, maybe not.
The biggest changes are to Changelings and Black Blood Shaman, and while it’s hard to call either one a straight-up nerf, they’re both probably on balance weaker than they were. They’ll both see in-keyword play, probably, but I’d be surprised to see them out of keyword anymore.
The Bultungin and Bloodwretch changes are straight-up buffs, and while I have friends that are excited about the Wretches I don’t see it myself… but Bultungin seem legit now.
Very minor changes here, except one very exciting one.
What’s Returned, you ask? Oh nothing… it’s just Barbaros’s new keyword!
In second edition, Barbaros was Lilith’s henchman; when Nekima took over, he fled, remaining loyal to the end, and so he’s an Outcast in 3E. His picking up a new keyword, Returned, has no mechanical impact now, but bodes fairly ominously for upcoming developments in the story.
His Nephilim Loyalist ability now not only prevents him from being hired in any Nekima-led crew, it prevents him from being hired into any crew that contains Nekima… which could only possibly be mechanically relevant if there was a Neverborn master who shared a keyword with him, or an Outcast master that shared a keyword with Nekima. No prizes for guessing who that might turn out to be.
On the crunch side, he actually has been somewhat reworked, trading a point of Df for a point of Wp and gaining Caught in the Ring instead of Challenge. He also traded his Regeneration for an upgraded version called Broodfighter, which lets him push a nearby friendly model 2″ if he’s at full health when he activates.
Not one single soul:
Wyrd: Drachen troopers are cheaper now!
They’ve also got less health and more movement, and they’ve picked up the Disease Containment Unit’s Containment Suit ability. They’ve lost Move or Burn and Clear the Area, taking away some of their utility, but their Light it Up action lets them drop a shockwave that inflicts Burning and removes one type of marker (potentially Pyre Markers, in a huge flavor fail). They also have a Move or Burn trigger on the action that does much of what the old action did.
Overall a pretty significant buff to an underperforming model. Maybe you can werf some flammen on the board again.
Winged Plague were in contention for worst model in the game, and now they’re… not maybe? They’re faster, and they get a free end-step push towards a model that’s not currently Blighted (spreading Blight wherever they land). That’s quite a bit more mobility for Plague’s premier scheme runner.
Remains to be seen if they have a role, but they at least have a role in mind now.
The buffed models here were serious underperformers, and I’m not sure if this is enough to put them on the table (unlike with, say, the Arcanist models, all of which definitely have a place now). But at least they’re trying. And Barbaros’s new keyword is intriguing!
Two changes here, both to Versatiles, and both extremely significant. There’s good news and bad, so let’s take it in stride.
Ah, Fuhatsu. Him and Francois are toasting their bad luck together somewhere. If you didn’t see this coming, you might be blind; Fuhatsu was possibly the best non-Master model in the game, and certainly the best outside of the Explorer’s Society (at least until 33 comes out). As might be expected, he got his ass roasted.
Headlining the changes is his demotion from Henchman to Enforcer. This is a big, big deal, as it means he can’t Soulstone anymore; this both makes his attacks much less reliable (since he can’t force triggers) and makes him a lot more fragile. On top of that, he’s entirely lost Rapid Fire, an extremely rare and powerful ability that set him apart. Now he gets to make attacks one at a time like everyone else.
He’s lost Scatter, too, which wasn’t always relevant, but really mattered when it was.
Of course, there’s some upside, and I think Fuhatsu made out a bit better than Franc here. He’s picked up the Gatling Gunner’s Covering Fire ability, which lets him discard a card when he fails an action in order to let a nearby model take a general action. He’s also gained the Reckless Aim trigger on his ranged attack, which is built-in and lets him draw a card when he misses (once per turn).
He’s a lot less resource-intensive now, since you get some goodies even when he fails. He’s also cheaper, going down by a whole stone, which makes a big difference.
The other change is to the Terracotta Warriors, who lost Just Like You! like the Changelings. These guys are totally different now. They’re… kind of weird, actually.
They traded their armor for a unique rule, Ten Thousand Strong, which means that any source of damage against them only ever deals a single point of damage. They have three health now, but it will take three hits to take them out (though they can never heal). They also have Take the Hit, and the combination of those abilities is pretty phenomenal; any attack directed at any nearby model simply turns into 1 damage on a Terracotta.
They also gained Nefarious Pact, letting them draw a card each activation (to counterbalance the cards you’ll be pitching to TtH). Numbskull gives them complete condition immunity, so you can’t just Burn or Poison them to death, either.
The mere existence of these guys warps what you can do. For instance, Lord Cooper is just a dead drop into Thunders now. I’m kind of excited to see them out there, especially since they kept Mold of the Other. Their Clay Fists are also slightly better, but that’s not what you take them of.
I think these are solid changes. Fuhatsu is still seeing some play, mostly with Shenlong, though he’s definitely a shadow of his former self. Terracottas are kind of hard to wrap my head around… sometimes they won’t matter at all, but sometimes they’ll dictate the flow of the game. I wouldn’t want to declare Nephilim into Thunders now.
Only one change here, but it’s a doozy.
The first, and so far only, Malifaux Burns model to be changed, Dr. McMourning, Insanitary has had an “Experimental only” rider tacked onto his Plastic Surgery action. Thank God.
I won’t get into the details, but the ability created an obviously unintended interaction when run alongside Seamus1 which allowed him to delete an enemy model per turn with no counterplay of any kind, regardless of that model’s defensive stats or anything. It was bad, folks.
Abilities that transplant text from one card to another are extremely dangerous (witness the almost-total demise of Just Like You!), and this one was completely out of line. It was also quite odd, since the vast majority of Master bonus-action buffs (especially in Malifaux Burns) are keyword-locked. Well, now this one is too.
The other change is to his Appendage upgrades; no model can have more than one of them at a time. That’s probably fair, since a model with extra arms, legs and a head was nightmarishly difficult to kill. To balance out these changes, the Hidden Bombs trigger is now built into Desperate Plot, which gives him substantially more damage.
Fair changes here, taking away two extremely negative play experiences in return for a little more punch. I think McMourning2 is still an absolutely top tier Master and I can’t wait for them to fix some of the rest of the busted crap in Burns!
I think I speak for most Malifaux players when I say this update was a huge net positive for the game. There are winners and losers, and there’s always some salt when your pet crew is in the latter category. I feel that – I used to run lots of Kin. But the changes are healthy for the game, and I think it’s in a much better place now.
I would like to see Wyrd do these balance updates more than once a year; 10-12 months is going to be a long time to wait to see Kirai, Envoy of the Court fixed. But at least when they do come down, they’re very solid. Usually the errata accompanies the new Gaining Grounds release, but this one didn’t; I am kind of eager to see the back of some of the current Schemes and Strategies (especially Symbols, which I like in principle but which really needs a few tweaks), so hopefully we get that update soon!
That’s all for now. If you liked this article but your eyes glaze over when you see too much text, you can find a video version here, where we discuss the errata and crack some jokes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFF0H387LQc&t=1s.
Next time, we’ll be discussing some of the new Malifaux Burns models. Until then… keep it Wyrd!