Madness of Malifaux Part… 3? Harold Tull and the Cavalier Keyword

Running to the window, he opened it, and put out his head. No fog, no mist; clear, bright, jovial, stirring, cold; cold, piping for the blood to dance to; Golden sun-light; Heavenly sky; sweet fresh air; merry bells. Oh, glorious! Glorious!
“What’s to-day?” cried Togepi, calling downward to a boy in Sunday clothes, who perhaps had loitered in to look about him.
“EH?” returned the boy with all his might of wonder.
“What’s to-day, my fine fellow?” said Togepi.
“To-day!” replied the boy. “Why, it’s MADNESS OF MALIFAUX DAY!”  And then he burst into flame.

That’s right, Mali-folks.  The long-awaited second full expansion book of Third Edition is here!  Madness of Malifaux includes six entirely new Masters and their Keywords, each of which comes in regular and title form, and a scattering of other models as well!  I already covered Damian Ravencroft and the Witness keyword, and on this very site I previewed (part of) The Clampetts and the Angler keyword.  But with the book in full release, it’s time to see what toys everyone else got

Today, we’ll start with the Guild’s new playmate: loyal King’s Empire soldier and prog-rock frontman Jethro Harold Tull!

Cross-Eyed Harold

As you may know, especially if you read my Other Side column, Earth is having a rather bad time of it lately.  And the King’s Empire (that is, Jolly Old England) is at the epicenter of the chaos.  The Burning Man appeared in the sky over London, opening up portals from which poured endless waves of gibbering, writhing abominations.  Driven mad by his unearthly radiance, scabrous hordes of mutants and madmen flooded the streets, burning everything and chanting the name of their dark patron.  And worst of all, portals opening beneath Malifaux’s seas flooded London and filled its streets with chittering horrors from the abyssal depths.  Plus, they got knocked out of the World Cup again.  Just another day on Knifecrime Island.

Fortunately, Corporal Harold Tull and his men are here to save the day.  I’m not so sure about “Corporal,” since he appears to be in charge of a whole company, but maybe he’s been demoted.  That wouldn’t be too surprising – Tull is the master of collateral damage.  Cavalier doesn’t mean cavalry; it describes his attitude, which can best be summarized as “hey, I said get down!”  He’s extremely deaf thanks to constant artillery fire, but a little mechanical ear trumpet helps him hear when he wants to… which isn’t always, especially if someone is nagging him about all the rubble in his wake.

Despite the lack of Heavy Horses, Harold and his troops are remarkably effective.  Nothing is Easy when fighting the Cult of the Burning Man, but the Cavalier keyword has developed some unique skills and weaponry.  Chief among these are Tull’s Walking Cannons, a pair of Black Powder War-vintage artillery pieces retrofitted with legs like the world’s most primitive Boston Dynamics robots.  And when fighting sorcerers, fishmen, and Occasional Demons, you need all the firepower you can get.  In response to Governor-General Franco Marlow’s request for aid, the King’s Empire sent Tull’s company through the Breach.  Maybe it was just to get rid of them, but they’re proving to be a powerful Guild asset… even if the Guild does have to rebuild basically any city block they’re fighting in.

Plus, he has the most adorable cat.  His name is Walter.

Harold Tull, Artillerist: Mayhem Maybe

clockwork ear trumpets are very cutting edge in 1907. Credit: Wyrd Games

Good old Jethro Harold really likes blowing things up.  Really, really likes it.  This is most clearly demonstrated with his Rain Hellfire and Bombardment: at the start of each turn, Tull gets to drop a number of Assault Markers equal to the turn number anywhere within 18″.  That’s a huge bubble, and if he’s reasonably near the center it basically means “anywhere relevant on the board,” especially since he doesn’t even need Line of Sight.  He can also drop one more during his own activation, which means you start with 2 and cap out at 6.  They don’t do anything on their own, but they can’t be removed by enemies, which is important because they’re key to how the crew plays.  Individual models have their own Assault Marker synergies, which we’ll discuss when we get to them, but most of them share Heat of Battle, the signature Cavalier ability.  This allows a friendly model within 2″ of a Scheme Marker (or Assault Marker as long as Tull is alive) to discard a card at the end of their activation to take an extra non-bonus action.

This is huge and a big part of the crew’s power; making every model in your keyword effectively Fast is big big money.  You will quickly run out of cards if you try to use it every activation, but getting one more high-value action out of your best models is absolutely worth a card, and the crew does have a bit of card draw.

Beyond that, Tull also gets to use his Assault Markers as targeting lasers for the big guns.  At the end of the turn, any enemy near an Assault Marker is caught in the blast radius and has to test against Mv or take damage, with the test becoming onerously difficult if your Walking Cannons are still alive to contribute to the bombardment.  The way it’s written you can’t double up and hit the same model twice even if it’s near multiple Assault Markers, but it’s still a bunch of free chip damage you didn’t have to spend AP on, and once you have 4-5 markers out there it’ll be very hard to avoid (especially on strategies like Covert Ops and Guard the Stash where you are forced to play around near markers).

Tull also goes in for artillery of the handheld variety.  His MFGL (no prizes in figuring out what that stands for) is a solid 10″ stat 6 gun that ignores Friendly Fire from other Cavaliers and deals 2/4/6, with a nice little 1-damage pulse to enemies near the unlucky target.  It also has two solid triggers – one pulses out focused to Cavaliers near the target while the other sends out another little 1 damage pulse that also hits the target.  The Weak 2 damage here makes unfocused shots a bit soft, but it can pulse out a significant amount of pings, which against enemies without Shielded, Incorporeal or Evasive will add up quickly.  Also, I want to register that despite his lore repeatedly saying he causes tons of collateral damage, friendlies are immune to all of his various pulse damage effects.

His second attack is the one I think you’ll be using much more often – Heavy Salvo targets Mv, and can only hit a given target once per activation and only for 2 damage, but it also pushes them a mighty 6″ without regard for models or terrain and staggers them.  And it has the excellent Good for a Laugh trigger, which both draws and filters cards.  The fact that you don’t need to hit hard with this (since it has no damage track) means that you can just merrily blast away, and the effect is crippling; a model that’s been pushed 6″ back and Staggered is not doing much that turn, and that’s not even taking into account pushing them through a wall or building.

He can also inflict Adversary with You Have Your Target, a meaty stat 7 on Wp, and this also lets you either clear a condition on the target or pull other enemies in close (to be hammered by the MFGL’s pulses).  Still, I think you’ll see this a lot less than Heavy Salvo or the MFGL.  He can also as discussed before drop an Assault Marker as a bonus action, which you’ll do every turn, and as a bonus it can remove nearby Scheme Markers or let his Walking Cannons take an action – the Cannons do some neat stuff, and removing enemy Schemes or Pianos or whatever from 21″ away is pretty serious game.

Tull’s two damaging attacks don’t ignore Cover or Concealment, which matters, and they both have projectile icons, but he does have Gunfighter so he can at least make them in melee and Get To Position lets him move himself and another friendly 3″ at the start of his activation, so he will never really be pinned down if you don’t want him to be.

Tull is very strong, and against crews that don’t have good ranged defenses he’ll just pummel them senseless.  You really need to close fast with this crew, and Heavy Salvo makes that painful and difficult.  He’s straightforwardly strong, before you even look at his crew.

Harold Tull, Dead Silent: Under Wraps

this is the universal sign for “my cat’s gonna beat your ass.” Credit: Wyrd Games

Sometimes, Tull is given a mission that can’t be solved via the application of explosive force.  It’s a bit unusual that they’d give those missions to this guy, but the Guild has Opinions about blasting a city block flat to catch one Resurrectionist.  In those situations, Tull turns his deafness into an asset.  He and his company have developed an advanced sign language that lets them silently coordinate their attacks, and an arsenal of tools to help them complete any wetwork mission.

Dead Silent’s stats are just like his original, but with only 10 health and 6/6 defenses instead of 5/7.  He’s still a Gunfighter, but that’s the only thing he has in common with Artillerist.  He’s picked up Stealth and Smoke Them Out, which generates a 2″ aura around him of severe, concealing terrain for you enemy only, so it’ll be very hard to come to grips with him.  If someone does, he can use Out of Sight to teleport into base contact with a friendly Scheme Marker within 4″ and remove that marker to reduce incoming damage by 2 (to a minimum of 0).  Best of all, he’s developed Hand Signals; when a friendly model within 12″ takes a general action with Heat of Battle, other than Charge, you get to draw a card.  This is huge – turning a discard into a rummage is big, big upside (look at Perdita2) and lets you be much more free with Heat of Battle, where his original has to be more selective.  Sometimes you’ll want to take an action printed on the card, but sometimes you’ll just Concentrate and pick up a card.

Tull’s still got a gun, though this time it’s a silenced pistol – a respectable 2/3/5 that ignores Hard to Kill.  He can either pump up its damage by up to +2 based on the number of Scheme Markers near the target with Shhhhhhh…, giving you a terrifying 4/5/7 (though that’ll be hard to set up), and can also Draw Out Secrets to drop a scheme marker near the target.  This both sets up Shhhhhhh… and also just… scores you points, which win you the game, I’m told.

His other attack, Behind Enemy Lines, functions a lot like Ivan2’s Displacing Shot, except it has no projectile icon, targets Mv instead of Wp, and also obviously works on Cavaliers instead of Umbra models… basically, it swaps the position of a friendly within 8″ and the target enemy, leaving a scheme marker where the friendly was (and the enemy now is).  Cute, and potentially very useful, but it can be tricky to set up and also requires follow-through.

Dead Silent’s Tactical Actions are very focus on the slippery commando playstyle.  Fog of War lets him push a Marker 4″ in any direction and hand out Focused to a nearby Cavalier, and the No Man’s Land trigger gives the Marker a 2″ Hazardous aura (enemies only).  And his bonus, Smoke Bomb, lets him pick any Cavalier within 12″, heal it by 2, and push all nearby models 2″ in any direction.  With Quick Reflexes letting him take this action twice, that’s a lot of displacement, and it’s unresistable displacement on enemy models in an aoe.  Very, very strong if you’re activating late.  He also has the Reconaissance trigger, which lets him look at the top three cards of either player’s deck and pick one non-Joker to discard, putting the other two back in the same order.  A bit unusual, that same-order rider, but getting rid of a high card (or a low one for yourself) is always strong on a bonus action.

This Tull is very schemey and likes to keep mobile, relying on Stealth and Out of Sight to keep safe.  He’s remarkably durable and can score a lot of schemes himself – he won’t be nearly as disruptive as his original, but he has plenty of pinpoint removal ability, which is always good.

Walking Cannons: I Am Your Gun

like boston dynamics robots, but somehow even more threatening. Credit: Wyrd Games

Gertrude and Ethel, Tull’s Walking Cannons, fought in the Black Powder Wars.  These venerable old ladies have seen a lot, but Soulstone-powered technology has them fit for service even in the modern era of 1908.  Tull’s in the small club of masters with multiple totems, and the Cannons are a key part of his crew.  They’re fairly fragile with 4/4 defenses and 3 health, even though Armor +2 helps, but fortunately they don’t have to be anywhere near the action.  Mostly, they have two jobs: drawing cards and pushing markers around.  Both Tulls want Markers (Assault or Scheme) in specific places, and the Cannons can push them where they need to be with Recalibrating…  Once they’re in place, the cannons can attack at an impressive 18″, though their low stat and damage values mean that they’re not really calling down the thunder.

Fortunately, they have impressive support capabilities, ending conditions on friendly targets and healing them for 2 at a time with no flip needed.  Finally, Resupply is key to having crappy chaff cards in your hand you can toss to Heat of Battle.  Try to play the Cannons in the back, healing up your models and filling your hand.  They’ll do plenty of work, even if they’re not your main damage dealers.

The King’s Wall: Thick As A Brick

oi! you cheeky guv’nor, shinji, get in the sodding mechsuit! Credit: Wyrd Games

The King’s Empire armies can field the King’s Hand, a massive gun-toting mecha.  That’s not practical for all engagements, though, and so they developed the King’s Wall, a smaller wearable suit with piston fists and Locomotive Breath.  Braxton Briggs pilots the Hand and has proven to be adept at supporting Tull’s company… especially since the armor keeps him safe from misguided bombardments.

The Hand is an absolute powerhouse of a model and a centerpiece of any Cavalier crew.  Despite its bulky appearance, it’s only got Armor +1, but it has seven Df and can use Soulstones, so it won’t go down easy.  Moreover, your opponent doesn’t really have the option of ignoring it, since they’re at a minus twist to attack and to damage any nearby Cavalier models, effectively forcing them to burn a Focus just to get back to the baseline.  Nor can they take advantage of the Hand’s relatively poor Wp to get it out of position; Laugh Off means it can’t be moved even though you can’t slap a Lead-Lined Coat on it.  Finally, if Cavaliers are clustered near it, they don’t even need to be near a Scheme Marker for Heat of Battle.  This thing is the centerpiece of your force and is guaranteed to give opponents who can’t target Wp fits.  It even lets Briggs pop out of the armor when it breaks, which is a neat bit of flavor.

The Hand’s melee attacks are reasonable, too.  One is a 2/4/6, though again without Focus that Weak 2 is going to show up a lot. It can either give itself Shielded – useful, given its “bodyguard” role – or allow another Cavalier model to take a shot, which will almost always be Tull himself.  The Shield Slam is really delicious, though- it’s only 1 damage, but with a built in Daze trigger it’s a 2″ push then a 3″ push and Stunned.  That’s a lot of displacement and Stunning is a very potent effect, so I think I’ll be shield slamming a lot more often than I’ll be punching.

The Hand also has Bulldoze, an absolutely busted action on everyone who has it, and this version has one of the silliest triggers ever: if the Hand Kool-Aid Mans his way through a piece of impassable terrain, he busts it open and all other Cavaliers can move through (though not end on) that piece of terrain until the end of the turn (at which point it is presumably rebuilt?).  Finally, he has I Got Your Back, a perfectly boring and serviceable bonus action that sometimes gives him a Shielded too.

The Hand’s card is not subtle.  You look at it and know exactly what it wants to do.  But he does a lot, justifying his 9 stone price, and you can do a lot worse than a big mechsuit soaking up all the fire.

Louisa Fusi: Automotive Engineering

i make a da motorcycle to go to Malifaux and a see if it’s a really made of red sauce!! oh!! Credit: Wyrd Games

Louisa Fusi stepped right out of a Miyazaki movie.  Her family ran a motor courier service, Raising Steam and delivering messages, and she’s taken up work with Italian military as a liaison. She rides a motorcycle with a single giant track instead of wheels; in practice I don’t know how well this would work, but she seems to pull it off.  Fusi is the Cavalier keyword’s scheme runner, a job she does quite well for 8 stones.  She’s reasonably tough with 6/5 df/wp, armor +1, and 8 health (plus Soulstone use, as she’s a henchman).  She’s also fast, with Mv 6 and All-Terrain, which effectively lets her ignore all terrain except impassable and never be Staggered.  She also has Don’t Mind Me just to hammer home what her role is.

Her melee attack, Caught in the Treads, is a bit like Trampling Hooves (as seen on various mounted models) – it’s got a 1/3/4 damage track in addition to automatic Injured, but a 1″ range, and you get to place within 1″ of the target if you hit.  She can also Reposition, which means you can charge someone, teleport to the other side of them, then scoot merrily away.  If she can’t get close she can launch a Soulstone Flare like Jessie Halliday, a bonus action Shockwave that only does 1 damage and Distracted +1 but also turns off Interacts for anyone who failed to resist it.  Finally, she’s got Claim the Land, a once-per-activation 6″ push that comes with a free Interact and has two neat triggers: Hop On lets her bring a friendly Cavalier with her, while Plow Through makes any enemy you moved through test Mv or get run down for 2 damage.  Friendlies instead get a free Shielded!]

Something’s On the Move – Louisa is fast and impossible to pin down, which makes her ideal at scoring some missions, but if the scheme pool doesn’t favor her you probably cut her first – she’s a bit too situational to take every game.

John Watson: Doctor To My Disease

yes, that john watson. the werewolf one that impregnated benedict cumberbatch. Credit: Wyrd Games

It’s not clear who “John Watson” is – the book is clear that it’s a pseudonym.  He’s published “grand tales” as serials (possibly involving his friend Holmes) and keeps his past a mystery, escaping Old Ghosts.  Tull doesn’t care – he just appreciates having a medic handy.

Watson is a “Doctor model,” of which we have a few so far, but he might be the best of the lot.  He’s got Quick Cure, letting him Assist basically for free, and Emergency Syrette to heal a friendly.  Of course, what you really want is the Take Two of These trigger on Syrette – healing, drawing a card and shielding the target is big game.  Especially since he can do with an 8″ range, thanks to Frederick!  He also hands out effective Hard to Wound in an aoe, and is Hard to Kill himself, meaning that removing this guy from the table is going to be a huge pain in the ass.  And if you knock him down low, his Sawbones kicks in, letting him heal even more.

When there’s nobody to heal, he has a respectable rifle with a 14″ range, but where he really shines is in melee.  He has a form of Precise on his melee attacks, ignoring Hard to Wound, Hard to Kill, and Armor, and on a tome he can heal a nearby friendly (including himself) for 1/2/3 after resolving.  This is not a man you want to engage; if you knock him to Hard to Kill, it’s not difficult to imagine him smacking you twice for a likely 5+ damage, healing 2-3 (remember, Sawbones is active as long as he has 4 or less health due to the way rounding works in Malifaux), then Syretteing himself to heal the rest of the way, draw a card and gain a shielded.  Finish him fast or he’ll Protect and Survive, giving you a huge headache.  And if you’re playing Cavalier, take him every time.

Rocketeers: Slipstream

i send a the calzone into space!! i don’t pay a the taxes!! ohhh!! Credit: Wyrd Games

I saw this movie!  Rocketeers make use of experimental technology, i.e. friggin’ jetpacks.  They’re 7 stone minions who do what you might expect from the name: they fly around on jetpacks.  They’re Armored but only 5/5 defensive stats and 7 wounds, so they’re a bit fragile, but they’re quick enough that it might not matter.  Like Zipp, they have Up We Go (only stat 2, but with a neat mask trigger to pulse out Distracted) and they can ignite the fumes from their packs for a neat little 6″ ranged attack vs. Mv that deals low damage but Blasts and hands out burning.  This attack can also push targets hit or deal more blasts and more burning, but Up We Go is such an insane ability I think you’ll be using that one most of the time.

Rocket packs are pretty fast – these guys have Onward, showing up outside of the Explorer’s Society for the first time, and if they don’t need the extra walk they can Light It Up like Drachen Troopers to hand out some burning and get some aoe marker clear.  They seem fun, but you’ll want to be careful to keep them alive, since they’re fast enough to rapidly outpace the King’s Wall and they don’t have Sputtering Exhaust like Gremlin jet packs to keep them safe.

Sappers: Saboteur

he comes with a Magical Lasso. Credit: Wyrd Games

Sappers are your bog-standard Cavalier minion, and like the other 5ss minions in this book, they are tempting me to step an inch away from my long-held “5ss minions are trash” position.  They’ve got the standard 5ss minion problems – 5/5/5 defensive stats – but Stealth mitigates that a bit, and they can also choose not to be tagged by pulse, blast or aura effects, which means you have to actually spend an AP hitting them.  And if you hit their Df and don’t kill them, they can push away!

Mostly, what you’re taking them for is cheap AP, which they certainly provide; their Trench Guns are pretty forgettable, but Disrupt Supply Lines is a very interesting attack.  It’s only stat 3, but a built in positive twist is nice, and both discarding a random card and dropping a scheme marker are very very strong effects.  Their bonus is also nice; it feeds a card back to your hand to discard for Heat of Battle and stacks the top of your opponent’s deck, giving you a shot at smacking them with a tasty Disrupt.  I think you won’t often successfully Disrupt, but forcing a cheat from your opponent with a 5 stone minion is very nice.  The 5ss minion test is “do you do something useful before you die” and I think these guys pass with Flying Colours.

Hex Bows: Witches Promise

not to be confused with the fearsome “chex bows.” those guys are cereal killers. Credit: Wyrd Games  

Hex Bows are those unfortunates whose bloodlines have been cursed.  Sonnia Criid has taken pity on these poor souls, teaching them to channel their curses into their bows.  They make for a potent asset for the Witch Hunter cadre, and the Cavaliers have welcomed them into the fold… which is a Sweet Dream for the lonely Hex Bows.

They’re a lot like Thunder Archers, except even moreso.  The cost is high, but the power is there.  They’re super maneuverable with Run and Gun, but the real power is in Runed Quiver; they have four powerful triggers, and being able to pick the one you want is big money.  Fistful of Arrows is also quite nice, since with a built-in Blaze they’ll hand out a lot of Burning; they can hand-strip like nobody’s business (though remember that the Quiver only triggers the first time they hit the enemy – opponent discards or you get a suit, and then that’s it, regardless of which one they picked).  They also have King’s Glory, which is great for letting either Tull or Sonnia shoot again.  Both of those two love shooting!

Target Practice is a bit out of place, since the crew has some decent ways to remove markers (at least with Artillerist) and their stat for it isn’t great.  But it’s sometimes totally clutch, and you really like having it when you need it.

The downside here is the cost and relative fragility, though 7 health is a fair bit.  Keep them near the King’s Wall and they’ll lay down withering fire for Queen and Country… er, King and Country.

That’s the Cavalier keyword!  There’s one more model, the shared model in the Tull/Clampetts title box, but since that’s a Bayou model we’ll review it when we get to Bayou. If you’d like to watch a video on these models, check out Danger Planet’s take here:

Next we’ll visit the Hushed Copse and learn about the dreaded Broodmaster Kastore.  Until next time… AQUALUNG!

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