Madness of Malifaux Exclusive Preview: The Clampetts

Welcome, friends!  You may remember my first Madness of Malifaux column, where we met Damian Ravencroft and the Witness keyword.  Well, this time we’re going to travel to where the Bayou meets the sea, where gremlin Anglers fish for eldritch monstrosities from the abyssal depths…

That’s right, we’re going to find out about The Clampetts!

this counts as good parenting by gremlin standards. Credit: Wyrd Games

Thanks to Wyrd, I bring you an exclusive preview discussing the Bayou’s newest Master(s) and their clan of fish-huntin’, spear-totin’ seabillies.  I haven’t got the whole Keyword to share with you, just a few core models, but what I’ve seen so far has me as worked up as a lobster in a trap, so let’s follow along and find out what these nautical nuisances can do!

The Clampetts, Fisherfolk

We’ll start with the Master.  As far as I can tell, this is the “original” version of the Clampetts, the one you get in the core box with the totem and everything… although all masters have Titles now, it seems.

Wyrd didn’t provide me with any lore blurbs, so I’ll be guessing a bit here.  The Clampetts appear to be a whole family: Pa, Ma, and a passel of squallin’ youngins, which appear to be at least marginally disposable.  They’re all riding on the back of the biggest Silurid you ever saw.  From the keyword (and the context), the Clampetts seem to be a fishing clan, living down at the delta where the Bayou meets the ocean.  Malifaux’s seas are full of tentacled horrors, servants of Meridion (the slumbering Tyrant with mastery over the ley lines).  Players of The Other Side will know these as the Gibbering Hordes; judging by their fishing gear, the Clampetts know them as Lunch.

We’ll start with their front of card.  Nothing too surprising here – the Clampetts have Master-level stats, with decent Df and acceptable Mv and Wp, as well as a reasonable health pool.  That Sz 3 is a bit unusual for the Bayou, and they’re on a 50mm base as well, so they’re definitely a bit bulkier than we’re used to.

I’ll start with Chum the Waters, which appears to be their Keyword ability.  Chum grants them immunity to Tide Markers (a new type of Marker, signature to this crew – a 30mm that’s severe only) as well as a +twist to all Df duels while they’re in contact with one.  That’s pretty solid, as +twists to defensive duels aren’t that common, and their Df stat is good to begin with.  They’ve also got Stealth and Hard to Kill, the former being much more significant than the latter in terms of defensive tech.  It makes their large base less of a liability at least.

Their last two abilities also deal with Tide Markers.  Brackish Bullies lets them swap a nearby Scheme for a Tide Marker, and vice versa.  Based on how easy it is for this crew to generate lots of Tide Markers, I think you’ll be doing the latter more than the former, and it will make some Schemes quite easy to score, though since it’s not friendly Scheme Markers it’ll be a useful way to remove an enemy Marker without expending AP.  Use ‘Em As Bait seems like the headliner ability; once per activation, after an enemy model comes into base contact with a Tide Marker in LOS, they must either discard a card or you may draw one.  This slightly unusual wording captures situations when enemies move onto Tide Markers as well as situations when you move or drop a Marker on an enemy, and it should be trivially easy to trigger in almost every friendly activation once the crew gets up close.

The fact that your opponent controls the effect makes it a bit less good than otherwise, but this is still ferocious hand pressure, and if your opponent’s hand isn’t under pressure then you’ll be drawing a lot of cards.  Just beware of crews with great hand velocity, since they can pitch a bunch of low cards, no problem.

The Clampetts’ back of card is quite impressive, and I can see a lot of fun possibilities here.  I’ll start with Silurid Stomp, as their only Tactical and only Bonus Action; you’ll be doing it every turn.  It’s a Leap that triggers on a suitless 5, pulses out damage, and has a built-in trigger to drop a Tide Marker.  This is, to be blunt, bananas, and it’s a huge part of their kit.  Leap is model-defining on almost anyone who has it, and much hinges on the TN and whether it’s suited or not.  This is not suited, with a low TN, and it does damage and generates the crew’s key resource.  On a 50mm base, it’s even better than normal, since you get the base width as an increase to your displacement.  If you time this right, it’ll guarantee you always get a Scheme where you need one from Brackish Bullies.

Moving onto the attacks, we’ll start with Tongue Lashing, which is both entertainingly named and also fairly unique as an attack that can target Df, Wp or Mv.  In practical terms, that means this attack will nearly always be at a +1 or +2 stat, since almost nothing has a 6/6/6 Df/Wp/Mv (and I’m sure some smarty will make a list in the comments proving me wrong), and it can get around annoying triggers like Regret or Living Nest.  The damage is not stellar at 2/4/5, and while Mental Trauma is neat on top of the front-of-card hand pressure, effects that your opponent can choose the outcome from are not that awesome.  Whirlpool is a bit more interesting, since it’s a significant amount of displacement with no TN to resist, so when I Tongue Lash enemies it’ll usually be to try to trigger this.

Their second attack, Fishing With Dynamite, impresses me a lot more.  It’s not a projectile attack, which means you can do it in combat, and since you can drop a Tide Marker with Gone Fishin’ you should have no trouble setting one up to get a card drop from every hit.  It also synergizes well with the other two attacks on the card, since both (can) target Mv and thus benefit from Staggered targets.

Finally, we get Reel In, an attack you could be forgiven for forgetting exists because it’s only showed up before on the Harpooners, which are (to be blunt) poop.  You’ll basically never use it to push towards a target (though I suppose it might be useful to get out of combat… but why not just Stomp out?).  You might use it to yank a marker towards you.  You will almost certainly use it to either Scorpion-yank enemies into range to be Whirlpooled further out of position, or to use Fling Back for fun and profit.  That trigger is a Big Deal, since slamming enemy models around is very strong in this GG, and you can also use low crows to smash a Tide Marker into the middle of a group of enemies for an effective 3 damage Shockwave.  We Got a Big One! is a strictly better Draw Out Secrets, and since Draw Out Secrets is an incredibly strong trigger, that’s just aces.

Overall, I think the Clampetts seem very solid.  The Tide Marker shenanigans are strong once you realize just how many ways this crew can poop those Markers out; you’re either stripping your opponent’s hand to the bone or maintaining significant card velocity without having to spend AP just drawing cards.  They have three very unique attacks, each of which has its own role, which means you rarely won’t have something good to do with them, and a crazy-strong Tactical action that’ll never not be relevant.

But let’s see what the rest of the Keyword can do…


G’day, Bruce.  This little darling appears to be the family pet (ok, fine, he literally has an action called Family Pet).  A surprisingly large number of Totems in this game are dogs, and while it’s early yet, I think Bruce is a strong contender for Best Boy.  If he counts as a dog (and I’ll say he does), he’s probably the strongest dog-totem, which is saying quite a lot.

Let’s not bury the lead: Accomplice is a crazy powerful ability.  Absolutely bonkers.  Activation control is the name of the game in Malifaux, and Accomplice gives you pinpoint activation control.  Of course, it matters a lot if the Accomplicing model is able to set up a good activation for its follower, and Bruce is really, really good at that.  He’s about as fragile as you expect a totem to be (although Chum the Waters is not unreasonable defensive tech), but he’s fast, even faster than he looks with Mv 6.  Latch On means that just by existing he’s debuffing enemies and setting up the kill, and Hunting Partner means you don’t suffer any downside to doing that.  Sure, he’s Insignificant, but so are many totems, and you really do not care.

So that’s his front of card – he exists to Latch On to a target and then Accomplice into something that can kill it.  Now what actions can he take?

Let’s start with Family Pet, a 3-and-a-bit-inch place (remember, base width) that doesn’t require you to flip any cards, draws you a card or heals the target.  He can Drool, too, dropping a Tide Marker where you need one.  And while his melee attack isn’t great, especially at Stat 4, it auto-Staggers and the You’re Comin’ With Me trigger does exactly what you want him to do.

So let’s imagine what a normal Bruce activation looks like.  He teleports into base contact with a killy model that’s near enemies, drawing you a card.  He charges the enemy, ending in base contact.  Sometimes he Staggers them and does a tiny bit of damage, sometimes he does that and pushes them 3″.  He then drops a Tide Marker on the enemy, activating Use ’em As Bait.  And then you Accomplice into the killy model and go to town with +1 effective stat on the enemy.

That’s a mean activation, and the only downside to Bruce is that he’s going to eat a bullet the first chance your opponent gets… but with that built in +twist to Df flips (and he’ll always have the marker if he needs it with Drool) he’s slipperier than he looks.

Plus, he kinda reminds me of Sammael from the first Hellboy movie, but cute.  Isn’t he cute?

Now… what kind of killy model can he Accomplice into?

Aunty Mel

I’m assuming that Wyrd has given me the core box here, which means Aunty Mel is the baseline Henchman.  And hoo boy, is she a doozy.

white whale! holy grail! Credit: Wyrd Games

At base, her stats are reasonable but not excessive; that Df6 is especially juicy in combination with Chum the Waters.  She’s a ranged killer, so Gunfighter is part for the course.  Inclement Weather gives you some incidental Tide Marker generation without spending AP, which is quite nice (especially since it means she’ll nearly always have the +twist to Df duels).

Predatory Instinct is familiar to anyone who’s played Apex, but it’s White Whale that’s the real show-stopper on her front of card.  This lets her single out an enemy to just own into oblivion, and at Cost 7 or more she’s not exactly hurting for targets.  You can’t slap this on the enemy Leader, which is a blessing, because she would be gruesome if you could.

break your backs and crack your oars, men! Credit: Wyrd Games

Let’s not bury the lede here.  If you’re taking Aunty Mel, you are planning to murder stuff with Ol’ Thunder, which appears to be just a harpoon.  Lady’s got an arm on her.  This attack isn’t that impressive at baseline, being a slightly shorter-ranged Custom Firearm, but “baseline” is “basically never.”  First of all, you’re reasonably likely to have a baked in +twist, either from White Whale or from Predatory Instinct (and you can combine the two to build in a +twist to damage instead, which is a nasty trick all Apex players know).  If you’re shooting your White Whale, every hit inflicts Injured without a trigger.  And speaking of triggers, she has a stoneable Crit Strike, putting her up to a potential 4/6/7… or just a built-in Trophy Hunter to score Schemes.  This is a vicious attack, and the rest of her card is extremely well-set-up to enable it.

That includes her bonus attack, Surface Level Observation.  On the face of it, this is a bit weak, since unlike many similar effects you can’t discard any of the cards you see.  Still, it’s useful to know what’s coming, especially with Predatory Instinct and White Whale.  The real key here, though, is that it’s not enemy only.  You can target a friendly, relent, and stack your own deck.  If you see a severe and two weaks, you can stack the severe on top, get a -twist to the hit and a +twist to the damage, and White Whale, setting yourself up for a solid hit and a cheatable damage flip.  Or you can stack a +twist from White Whale or Focus with a +twist from Predatory Instinct to “flip past” two weaks into a severe.

The other advantage to this, of course, is that you can use a 6+ of Masks to get a free shot with your bonus action.  When you have a gun that Injures every time it hits, a third shot means a lot.  If you’ve done the Bruce trick mentioned above, you’re shooting with an effective Stat 7 and a built-in +twist to hit, with two followups once the target is Injured by the first hit.  That’s… a really, really dead model a lot of the time, especially if you have the Rams or Stones to get some nice critical strikes.

That all depends on being able to tag your White Whale target, of course, so picking the appropriate target and keeping Mel in range of them will be the name of the game.  10″ is a surprisingly close range in Malifaux, though, so you may have to push Mel around with Fling Back.

After all that, you’d be forgiven for glancing over the tactical action, but Showing Them the Ropes is actually… pretty reasonable.  It’s a keyword-locked version of Foul-Mouthed Motivation, except a full action instead of a bonus.  This type of action is often known as “AP transfer,” since you’re using an Aunty Mel AP to give another model an effective AP (via focus).  It’s a little better than that due to the heal, but generally Aunty Mel AP are so strong (for the above-mentioned reasons) that you’re better off just using them to shoot and focus with.  The caveat is that both of the triggers here are very good, so if you have the appropriate card and circumstances to use either, you should strongly consider it.  White Whale is so key to Mel’s playstyle that you’ll really want to turn it back on again as soon as your target dies, and a second 1/2/3 heal really pushes the healing here into the “difficult to deal with” range – healing up to six damage across your crew and handing out a Focus is real AP efficiency.

Overall, Mel is very reminiscent of Lord Cooper, which is a hell of a thing to say about a Henchman.  I mean, she’s got the un-endable Adversary, the Instinct, even Foul-Mouthed Motivation!  She is an absolute terror to enemies doing stupid things like “taking 7-stone or higher models” and if you can set her up with a firing line to her Adversary she will harpoon them in short order.

Still, I want to make one thing clear – as good as this model is (and I think it’s quite good), and as cool as it is (and I think it’s incredibly cool), when you are not attacking your White Whale target you are generally not getting 9 stones’ worth of work out of Aunty Mel.  If your opponent dangles a juicy target in your face that you can snipe with a Severe 6 shot, please do so, but in general terms you should be actively trying to match her against her adversary at all costs.


abandon shell! Credit: Wyrd Games

I admit this picture is a little hard to parse for me.  Is it… two gremlins inside a giant conch shell?  And they’ve somehow added little periscopes to it?  Is the creature in there still alive?  So many questions!

sorry we shelled your village. here’s some soulstone. Credit: Wyrd Games

Looking at their front-of-card, it’s not hard to see what these guys are supposed to be doing.  Prior to this, Bayou had no Take the Hit models; now they have an Armor 2 Take the Hit with Phalanx and Extended Reach.  Hermits have a ton of defensive tech that will make them very difficult to deal with, though it’s designed in such a way that it doesn’t all stack up perfectly; for instance, Phalanx only protects other models, and not the Hermits themselves if they’re Taking the Hit, while Extended Reach only helps if they’re on the frontline (but their Mv is low enough that that might be a problem).  Still, the whole is quite a bit more than the sum of its parts; Taking the Hit on an Armor +2 model with 6 health is pretty impressive, and as we’ve seen the Keyword has some healing scattered about between Bruce and Aunty Mel.  Seven stones is a bit of an awkward price point for minions, since that’s expensive enough that you really start to care when things die, but luckily these guys take some serious killin’ to put down.  Especially in multiples, when they can Phalanx each other…

she sells WHAT now?! Credit: Wyrd Games

Here’s where it starts to come together.  Neither of the Hermits’ attacks is particularly impressive, though they’re both perfectly serviceable, and a 2″ engage is never a bad thing.  In particular, though, I draw your attention to Defensive Fighting.  Built-in triggers are always worth a look, and this one is a doozy.  Don’t worry about the -twist to damage; you’re not lighting the world on fire with a Severe 4 anyways.  Stacking two Shielded on these guys is gross, because Armor +2 and Shielded is at the point where a large number of enemy attacks just bounce right off.  If you don’t have to bother spending a card to make an attack miss, and your opponent has a decent chance of having to spend one to make it hit with Chum the Waters, they’re likely to just not even try to hit you… except they have no choice due to Take the Hit.  This really only starts to work once you get stuck in, and it rapidly loses value against Armored or Shielded enemies, but a Hermit with Shielded +2 and Armor +2 (and a decently stacked hand to pitch to TTH) is just nightmarish to deal with.

Their other actions aren’t bad, either, though I think I will very rarely toss any spears.  Seashells by the Swampshore is notable as 1) their only way to produce Tide Markers, which is something you want your whole crew to be doing, and 2) a really, really nasty way to use all the Markers you’ve been storing up.  Given how easy it is for Mel, Bruce and the Clampetts to drop a marker next to themselves just before they end their activation, a Hermit with an active aura can make any opponent trying to close in regret it.  It’s not too hard for a model with a 1″ engage to dodge a 30mm marker, and trivial for a 2″ engage, but enough markers close together will make them think twice.

Finally, Scuttle is… pretty much just what the doctor ordered.  You don’t tend to have a use for Tide Markers in your backfield, but you’ll leave a lot of them behind between Inclement Weather and Gone Fishin’.  Scarf them down and make your slow-as-hell Hermits actually quite speedy.  Remember it’s a Push, not a Walk, and also remember that it targets any kind of marker; once you get engaged, this is basically all upside.  Bayou is not lacking for marker removal, of course, but it’s nice to do it as a bonus action on a model you’re taking for other reasons and even get something out of it.

I think Hermits are nasty and are reasonably likely to show up out of keyword.  They don’t particularly need the Angler keyword for anything, they’re the only Take the Hit model in the faction, and they’re both Durable and Absorbent (like Brawny™ brand paper towels – the towels for Truly Tough Messes).

glub glub i’m a fish. Credit: Wyrd Games

We’ve seen these guys before, so I won’t go into too much detail.  They’re basically little scurrying blowgun snipers!

Sadly, I’m not impressed.  Beneath the Leaves is a very strong rule, but that’s about all they have going for them.  Their attack is quite bad; a stat 5 gun that’s pretty much only interesting for its triggers is not exciting to me.  Under the Surface is neat, but it can only remove friendly Schemes (and thus can’t interfere with your opponent’s plans) and has a fairly sizeable TN.  And… that’s really all they do!

I would consider OOK hiring these guys into Tricksy, since Beneath the Leaves on Pit Traps is rude, but that’s about it.  They’re very, very fragile; anything that can reach them in melee or shoot them from 6″ away will murder them in one hit, probably.  I’d consider them at 4 stones, but even then, the combination of “low impact” and “easy to kill” is not a winning one.  Cheap minions tend to have that problem in Malifaux; when you are in the range that an opponent can realistically dispose of you with one AP, you really need to bring something special to the table, or be so cheap that it doesn’t matter.  Skulker Skins do neither.  If they were Disguised (and come on, they literally are!) I’d feel a bit better about them, but it would probably take both that and a built in crow on their attack to make me actually want to take them.  The models are bound to be cool, but I think I’m going to leave them on the shelf.

Wrapping Up

Well, that’s Angler!  So far!  Remember that we have a Title form to see, and if the Witness keyword is any indication, another 4 or so keyword models.  But these are all the models Wyrd has given me, so that’s all I can share with you.

I’m pumped to put Angler on the table.  The keyword is very cool – good card velocity, hand pressure, a mixture of ranged and melee attacks, and marker generation.  I love marker crews, and I love that this marker crew doesn’t just fold in the face of marker removal; Tide Markers are a value add and something that they can riff off with their abilities, they’re not a lynchpin of how the crew plays.  I might make some with clear resin.

There are plenty of cool models for which we’ve seen the art, too – the dude on a giant snail, the guy with the artillery ballista, and, uh, I think that’s it?  That art is sweet, though.

Oh, and the title form has the whole family on a boat.

If you’d like to watch a video discussing these models, check out Danger Planet’s take:

The next preview will come to you from Dek of Corner Case.  I can’t wait to see what he has for us!

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