Goonhammer’s Ashes of Malifaux Review Part 6: The Outcasts

Credit: Wyrd Games

We’re closing in on the final leg here in our Ashes review.  Last time, we explored the forests and fens of Malifaux to spy on the Neverborn.  Now, we’re going out to the wide-open spaces – the Badlands, the town of Freiholt, and the other places where outlaws and Outcasts gather and plot.

Ella Mae Chesterfield

annie oakley was cool, yeah, but she didn’t have a giant robot cat to ride. Credit: Danger Planet Brandon

Cauller Chesterfield was a stubborn old cuss. He knew that the Guild wasn’t exactly asking for his rifle designs, and he knew what would happen if he said “no.”  That’s why he sent his daughter away.  Now she’s looking to avenge him, riding on a “borrowed” Hunter and taking work wherever she can shoot at the Guild.

Sz 3 Ride With Me models are all at least worth a look, and this one’s a good’un.  She’s pretty maneuverable, between Battle Tempo, Ride With Me and Mv 6, and she’s not that easy to remove between 8 health and Armor.  Sniper is an interesting rule here since she doesn’t have an easy way to gain Focus, and her gun’s 2/3/5 damage track means you really want to spend that Focus on the attack itself – but nailing something from 22″ away is always fun.  Ella Mae is missing Run and Gun from the Bandit keyword, and that hurts – but she might have been too good with it.

Speaking of, her gun is unique and very interesting.  Ignoring one of Concealment, Cover or Friendly Fire is obviously worse than just being Angel Eyes and ignoring it all, but often there is only one of those things at play, so it’ll do a good impression of the Advanced Sights/Clockwork Rifle combo a lot of the time.  The triggers are very nice: Puncture will help you hit those sweet Severe 5s, but Bloody Legacy is where it’s at.  You can only declare it once per game, so watch out for those trigger-canceling effects, but Cauller’s Curse is quite strong.

remind me never to cross a man named “cauller.” Credit: Danger Planet Brandon

Ignoring all friendly fire is obviously more use in Bandit than in Mercenary, but the +1 damage is extremely sweet.  If you can tag the enemy Master with this, Ella Mae can spend the rest of the game hunting them down with a 3/4/6 gun, and it even improves her six-armed friend.  (Note that it works in melee too, but Ella’s melee attack is just something you do when your opponent engages you – it’s not something you try to make happen).

Drop It! is kind of the odd one out here, since Ella doesn’t care about Scheme Markers.  But Ride With Me is a really, really good action, and adding Shielded to the target is the gravy on top.  Both of her keywords really benefit from being taxied around: giving Mad Dog a ride is sure to earn you some friends.  Firing Platform really exists to make sure the model you’ve been giving rides to can still shoot, and it’s good at that, but be aware of opportunities to take advantage of it – you can park a Sz 2 model right behind a Sz 2 wall, and during its activation it can shoot over it, while in opposing activations it can’t be seen at all.  Nasty combo.

Six Armed Six-Shooter

he can give himself the most intense stranger of all time. Credit: Danger Planet Brandon

Out in the Badlands, there’s a town like no other in Malifaux. Ampersand has everything you’d expect from a frontier outpost: saloon, general store, poker games… but no people. At least, no living people: Ampersand is a town of constructs who’ve fled their makers. When the Six-Armed Six Shooter blew into town, nobody knew where he’d come from or what he was for. It took an alliance with Ella Mae Chesterfield, slapping iron into all six hands, for the construct to show his mettle.

The synergy between the Shooter and Ella Mae is pretty obvious: he’s slow as hell! Battle Tempo and Run and Gun both help, but you’ll really want to give this guy a ride. The Shielded from Ella’s Ride With Me trigger definitely helps with his survivability, since Shielded and Armor together are better than either individually. The odd rule out here is Gamble, but Bandits do love having Scheme Markers around for Life of Crime.

Hail of Bullets is kind of an odd attack. The damage track isn’t great, though those double blasts on Severe can pop up surprising damage to clustered enemies. It doesn’t ignore cover, concealment or friendly fire (unless you’re shooting someone bearing Cauller’s Curse), but it does ignore Hard to Wound, which is an interesting niche. That ability is a lot more exciting on attacks with spiky Severe values, but at least it’ll be easier to drop those double blasts. At least the triggers here are all excellent.

Suppressing Fire hands out Focus to Ella Mae, which as you’ll recall from what you just read is very strong, but it does require a 7 – if you’re actually going to benefit from the Hazardous Terrain, I’d say go for it, but I wouldn’t take this action just to pass out a single Focus.

Exhibition Shooting is kind of like baby Target Practice, which is a VERY strong ability. Sure, pushing a marker isn’t necessarily as strong as removing it, but it can be just as good if you’re pushing an Espionage marker off the line or a Power Ritual marker away from the corner. And you can push friendly markers too to help score Ensnare or get you the last few inches you need for Protected Territory. The triggers here are pretty sweet too – Shot to Pieces makes this a better Target Practice, while Swift Action can let you really mess with one marker or tweak two around.

I think I’d hire this guy if 1) I was planning to hire Ella AND 2) there were lots of marker schemes in the pool. He might also be useful for killing Dapperlings in one activation, which is otherwise difficult, although that’ll require significant expenditure of resources (you’ll want a focus, a severe to cheat for damage, and then a decently high mask so you can hit it with Quick Reflexes once it triggers its Demise).


steampunk: for goth kids who’ve discovered the color brown. Credit: Danger Planet Brandon

Vee Hartwright and her brother Herbert are scavengers and tinkers, scrounging up parts to build the wildest contraptions they can imagine. They decided to enter the Badlands Invitational race with an engine of their own devising (strapped to Herbert’s mobility chair). What happened when they turned on the device still isn’t totally clear to Vee – she knows that they vanished and returned, but she’s not sure what Herbert means when he talks about the “corridors of time,” or why the weird dead lady with the claw hand is taking such an interest in them now…

Vee is an interesting one; the Obliteration bury/unbury mechanics are so odd and singular that it’s hard to integrate them into another crew. She’s got the standard From Nothing ability to unbury herself (and be buried by Stutter Time) but her card otherwise looks more like an Amalgam model, with a beefy health pool, Armor, Hard to Kill and Entropy. Back in a Flash is the unique ability here, letting her unbury into base contact with an Amalgam that hasn’t yet activated – it’s a way to get her back onto the board in a crew that doesn’t hand out Fast to its opponents.

Vee’s Clockwork Arm is a reasonable attack – decent stat, good trigger, though you probably don’t want to take active steps to get her into combat. Instead, you’re going to mostly be using Channeled Healing and Gather Intel to support your crew. Gather Intel is a great action, even leaving aside the Distracted, and this version has two excellent triggers. Non-Existence keeps Vee safe, lets her jump around the table, and draws you a card to boot. And Out of Sync is truly great: pushing Levi into position while also keeping him safe from enemy attacks enables an even stronger alpha strike.

These triggers are pretty easy to hit, too, since you can use Jury-Rig to swap cards in hand for cards in the yard. Sometimes you’ll just be leveling up your hand, but more often you’ll be snagging a specific card you need to hit a trigger, and that’s good enough all by itself.

I really, really like Vee. She enables Leveticus’s existing game plan, hands out healing, draws or cycles cards, and is incredibly difficult to deal with. She can blip around the board, stay buried to keep herself safe, and she’s still Armor +1 with 8 wounds and hard to kill. I don’t know that Tara really needs the things Vee does, but I’d expect to see her with Levi quite a lot.

 Hard Stop Herbert

something about this guy’s art seems AI-generated to me. maybe it’s the shirt? Credit: Danger Planet Brandon

Vee’s brother Herbert experienced their brief jaunt outside of reality very differently than his sister. He saw backwards and forwards through time and felt the pair slipping through the timeways until Aionus pulled them out and sent them home. Since then, he can’t stop thinking about the eternity he spent outside time and the unsettling visions he saw: past, future… if he and his sister actually succeed in replicating the experiment for Tara, he’s not sure he’ll be happy with the results.

Herbert is fast for a guy in a chair. Mv6 and Onward, plus Back in a Flash to teleport around, gives me a ton of flexibility. I think often you won’t want to bury him since you’ll want him as a jump point for Vee, but you always can do it if you need to.

I actually do want Herbert in combat, at least on occasion. He’s got Armor, Hard to Wound, a tiny bit of healing through Vile Reclamation (though that’s not that reliable) and a melee attack with two pretty good triggers. Burst of Speed in particular will let you cover a LOT of the board.

I’m less bullish on Time Storm, which I think is mostly a way of burying him when you need to. But at least you can get the card for the 88 MPH trigger using Backtrack.

Really, the worst thing I can say about Herbert is that he has two extremely strong bonus actions (well, one strong action and one action that really just matters for its trigger – usually you’ll be Reclaiming a friendly Waif or Void Wretch). Knowing when to use one over the other will be a skill test. I think both of his keywords want this guy as a highly mobile schemer and occasional damage dealer.

Tunnel Rats

i guess you get ’em both? that’s why they’re a 50mm. Credit: Danger Planet Brandon

Let’s get this out of the way now: Secret Passage is an insanely strong action on everyone who has it. Secret Passage on a six stone Enforcer, with a trigger to drop a scheme marker after doing your 12” jump, is bananas. This guy is going to score a lot of schemes without too much counterplay. That said, I have some concerns about the rest of his card. 5/5 defensive stats with no defensive tech and only 6 health is pretty easy to remove. Stealth helps – your opponent will have to lay hands on the Rats to squish them, and that’s not easy with how slippery they can be. Nihilism is also sort of defensive tech, though not the kind that keeps you alive against determined effort.

I like Strength in Numbers, though neither of these attacks really benefits that much from it. Mining Tools are always fun (Soulstone Miners can tell you as much), but the Trench Gun is uninspiring, and you’re making either attack you’re in the danger zone. Same with triggering Diseased.  Stick to scheming.

I think you’ll hire the Tunnel Rats a lot to score schemes, and the Plague keyword has activation control through Malifaux Rats, so you might be able to do so in relative safety. Just be very aware of threat ranges, as a single Min 3 beater or shooter can kill this thing pretty easily in one activation.

Finally, don’t sleep on Land Mines. Sure, they’re simple, but two 50mm bases cover a LOT of ground, and you can give your opponent serious headaches.


see you later, fumigator. Credit: Danger Planet Brandon

If I had a nickel for every time Plague got a new model that was a gasmasked model with a gas sprayer, I’d have two nickels, which etc. etc. etc.

As Plague trends towards mono-dudes-with-poison-foggers, we shall distinguish them as best we can.  This one has the classic Freikorps armor and a bit of self-healing in Perverse Metabolism (enabled by Breathing In the Chemicals, a reference I actually get).  Extended Reach will help keep him alive against melee, but decent shooting will still pick him up reasonably quickly, so be cautious.

Like his cousin the DCU, the Fumigator can spread blight and summon rats.  Specifically, the Friends in Low Places shockwave (which hands out Poison and Blight, a little odd since you’d think the gas would thematically represent one or the other) can give you a rat.  It’s a solid shockwave, for all that, and Not a Bomb?! is a much better trigger than it looks, since it’s ranged scheme marker placement that you can do while engaged and doesn’t require an opposed duel.  (It’s not even once per activation!).

The Fogger itself is on balance a slightly better, but melee-only, version of the DCU’s Flame/Plaguethrower, though the triggers are worse and it can only give Blight to its target rather than everyone hit.  That’s a bit unintuitive and also a bit of a shame, since otherwise this guy would have a niche as aoe Blight Spread.  However, the Fumigator’s ability to Reference the Field Guide ties the model together: you can build in any of those useful triggers at the low, low cost of a card, which incidentally gives him a Poison, which heals him, and so on, etc., world without end.

I kinda like Fumi-kun, though the fact that he’s a melee model is a bit odd and not what you’d expect to look at him.  I think that if he takes focused attention he’ll just die, but he’s not really profitable to throw chip damage on due to his armor and passive self-healing.  I think he gets there: rat-summoning is quite strong, especially multiple times per turn (just make a Rat King whenever you want!), and GG4 has enough Marker play that Not a Bomb?! is useful.

now you’re the one being fursecuted! Credit: Danger Planet Brandon

The Badlands is a big, empty place, and Fate has a way of filling up emptiness.  The Bad Omen followed a bandit through the desert, promising a dark end; when the end came, the Bad Omen was free to spread the misery around.  (It’s implied that the bandit was Jack Daw, which would explain why his fate ended up personified while so many others did not).

The Outcasts’ 10-stone Versatile beater is… odd.  A lot of the power of this card is in that Demise.  Basically, if the Omen goes down, the model that kills it gets an upgrade.  All the upgrade does is give all of its actions a mandatory Crow trigger that makes that action fail.  This is intensely amusing on models with built-in Crows or essential Crow triggers (cf. Dead Rider), but since your opponent can typically control who gets the upgrade, you probably won’t get the best case scenario.  But if the upgraded model dies, then you get the Bad Omen back.

don’t look… BEHIND YOU!!! Credit: Danger Planet Brandon

Now obviously, a 10-stone beater that cannot ever die is pretty sweet.  The problem here is the problem with punishing Demises in general: either your opponent can turn off Demises (like with Lantern of Souls), or can bypass the Demise by killing the Omen with a Condition or an Obeyed friendly or something.  (At least it’s Incorporeal, so they can’t kill it with Hazardous Terrain except in very specific and rare circumstances).  And if they bypass the Demise, the Omen is just… not that impressive.  Sure, it’s got Vengeance, but Vengeance +1 is not going to protect a 5/6 Enforcer with 9 wounds alive if your opponent decides it has to die.

Its Spectral Rend is an ok attack, especially with Blood Loss being built in, though a 1” Stat 6 2/4/6 is not 10 stones’ worth of damage.  Suppress Magic at least makes this thing a bit better at hunting Henchmen and Masters, though if you send it after Enforcers (which will sometimes be correct to do), you won’t benefit as much from that rule.

Eventuality is another attack that I think looks better than it is: In Malifaux, turns 1 and 2 are the most decisive turns, and an 8” 1 or 2 damage ping – even if it’s Stat 7, and sometimes Irreducible – is just not very impressive.  Sure, the dream is to zorch someone for 5 irreducible, but even if the Bad Omen makes it to Turn 5 I don’t know how much difference the attack will make at that point.  Encroaching Fate is a good consolation price – especially with Incorporeal, it gives the Bad Omen a better Onward, and while it does eventually get to 0” by that point it probably won’t matter.  You’ll likely use this a lot more than Impending Doom, which reads well but is effectively just “target opponent discards a soulstone, at the end of the turn, sometimes.”

The whole package just doesn’t add up to 10ss to me.  The Bad Omen has a very high ceiling but a lot of its various rules are bypassable, or conditional, or just require you to jump through hoops to make them good.  Ten stones is a lot, and someone like Mad Dog can reliably put a hole the size of a dinner plate in something, while the Bad Omen is bit more finicky to use.

Dr. Silas

kind of weird that he doesn’t have Bedside Manner, but looking at him, he probably doesn’t have any. Credit: Danger Planet Brandon

The black blood continues to baffle humans. Finding a cure to its mutational effect would cut off the supply of Half-Bloods, and finding a way to protect flesh from its corrosive effects would give the Guild a significant edge in its ongoing conflict with the Nephilim. Of course, the dangers of working with a corrosive substance known to cause mutation and psychosis should be clear. Dr. Silas is a living example of what can go wrong – but having escaped the Guild when he realized his search for a cure had gone wrong, he continues to experiment in his makeshift lab. At least he has plenty of test subjects.

So why does an Outcast henchman have Guild and Neverborn keywords?  It all dates back to second edition.  Wyrd’s first attempt at a Malifaux starter set was a two-player starter box featuring the Asylum and Half-Blood keywords (minus Tuco and the Nurses – they gained the keywords late).  They never really caught on, at least until Angel Eyes’ recent glow-up.

So what’s Silas all about?  Just taking models from two different keywords and mashing them up?  Well, kind of.  It’s all about the Afflicted upgrades:

something about these upgrade names seems so familiar… Credit: Danger Planet Brandon

These can be discarded for effect like Marcus’s mutations, but they also add some pretty nice abilities: Black Blood and Leap are great, although this Leap isn’t suited (though you can pitch the upgrade in order to get the suit and a positive twist to be sure you hit it, which will often be worth it).  You don’t need to be shy about pitching these: you can hand out two per activation (well, as long as Silas is your leader).

So what does Silas’s crew actually look like?  Well, he can turn Asylum models into Bloodwretches when they die, which isn’t great but is better than losing them (and they’re Replaced, the new models aren’t Summons, so they can still interact with the Strategy).  He lets you do Black Blood shenanigans, which is always fun.  He’s a beefy boy himself, with a hefty health pool and healing via Drink Blood.  The best action on his card, though, is Toss (unsurprisingly, since it’s the best action on most cards that have it).  Both of those triggers are great, with One Flew East actually being built in.  Imagine tossing someone 10″, then letting them move 2″, draw you a card, and then take a point of damage that triggers Black Blood… that’s a great play.  Reckless Research is great on its own, of course, but being able to do it twice gives Silas some serious AP efficiency.  I don’t know how often you’ll Sedate Them, but an 8″ attack with On Your Heels is pretty solid.

I don’t think anyone is ever going to hire Silas into an existing crew, but as a leader, he looks like a lot of fun.  Competitive?  Probably not, but who cares?  This is a bonus model above and beyond everything else Yellow gets this book.  Enjoy him!  He looks cool as heck, too.  Outcasts get all the fun gimmick crews…

Trial and Error

“the same thing we do every night, Bloaty… try to take over Malifaux.” Credit: Danger Planet Brandon

Trial and Error are two of Dr. Silas’s oldest test subjects.  They were both mad before arriving at Smedley’s Asylum, but being subjected to Dr. Silas’s ministrations while there certainly didn’t help.  They’ve followed Dr. Silas into his exile, serving as his (possibly-unwilling) guinea pigs, enforcers, and servants.

In Their Heads is a surprisingly strong trigger (and remember it’s on Wp too, but not built in!).  A common use of Chi tokens in Monk crews is to give yourself insane defensive stats, and Df/Wp7 is high enough that you can force opponents to cheat – especially if Trial and Error have already activated, putting all enemy attacks at a negative twist to hit.  All this adds up to a model that it’s not very efficient to just toss random attacks at, which means your opponent has to really decide to commit to taking out a 6-stone model.  Even that might fail if you happen to flip well and match their suit.

The ability to trade out Afflicted upgrades is kind of cute, though they can’t give themselves one if they don’t have it yet.  I think they’ll mostly stick with Black Blood, though if you absolutely have to remove a condition from a friendly model to win the game, you can do that.

The Rusty Bone Saw is not a great attack, but I quite like Projected Voice.  Ranged attacks that don’t ignore cover, concealment or friendly ire are a tough sell, though this one does target Wp at least, and the blasts can make it impressive.  Mostly, though, I think these guys are useful for Boring Conversation.  It’s a great action on everyone who has it, and Stay Awhile and Listen is a very strong trigger – unresistable Staggered is very strong, and it synergizes with both Dr. Silas (you can Toss enemy models into the danger zone and then Stagger them to prevent rescue) and with Trial and Error’s own Restraints rule.  If you have these guys posted up on a Raid the Vaults marker, you can Stagger an enemy, hug them, and force the enemy to commit more heavily into a Boring Conversation bubble to control the point (you can even give them Hunting Partner to make it even more difficult to get away from them).

The difficulty is getting there, of course, but they can Leap out into position, then Boring Conversation at the top of the next turn.  Or you can just Toss them to where they need to be.

They’re not Versatile, so you’re basically paying a tax unless you’ve declared Silas as your leader. I don’t know that you’d want them without him, but you can take them in a Guild crew led by Grimwell, if you’re that particular brand of insane.  They’re only six stones at baseline, which is very affordable for this package.  I think these guys have a place in a Silas list, if that becomes a thing, but I don’t know if they really do outside of that.

Yellow-Bellied Varmints

And that’s the Outcasts!  I’m a big fan of Silas and friends, though I don’t expect them to be competitive.  I think the Freikorps and Amalgam, two of the strongest Outcast keywords, got some of the best models here, so I guess the rich get richer (just like in Bayou).  But there’s something here everyone will like.

Join us next time when we pay a visit to the creepiest, crawliest, dead-raising folks in all of Malifaux.