Dec 30, 2013

General Gremlin Upgrades - Written by Special Guest, Dom Westerland of the Bayou Broadcast!

Howdy y'all! Today is a great day in the Bayou! We have three special guests coming up and here is the first one as we have one of the original Big Hats, Dom (Dumb Luck) of the Bayou Broadcast,  telling us about the General Gremlin upgrades and his impressions of them. I'd like to take a second to thank Dom publicly for his contribution and hope that he may return! Stay tuned for more mystery writers giving their thoughts on the Gremlin Upgrades as well! So without further ado here are Dom's thoughts about the upgrades, take it away Dom!

General Gremlin Upgrades

 A great upgrade, even if it is situational. This doesn’t mean it isn’t great. I mean situational in the real sense of the word, rather than how wargamers tend to use it (generally, when they want to talk about something but have no clue what to say. So most of the time). You’d want to take this after a good look at your scheme pool. Has Bodyguard or Assassinate popped up? It has? Then pop these on the feet of your Gremlin of choice then. It is worth keeping in mind that Stilts only protect you from Ml hits. So if the foe’s whirling death machine of choice is of the Shooting or Casting variety, your Gremlin might be better off just running and hiding.
Other than that, I’m not sure I’d bother taking it all the time. But it has its place. It’s just up to the player to find it.

Dirty Cheater 
 Now here’s an upgrade that I’d take all the time. I believe that to due to the upgrade gifting a passive ability (something that just happens outside of AP use) that is normally an active ability (something you as a player has to activate) in healing. I tend to favour aggressive models that like getting in the thick of it (my masters of choice at the time of writing are Ophelia, Mah and Wong) meaning that AP is at a premium. These masters are at their best when spending their AP to lay the smackdown, meaning that ‘ain’t nobody got time to spend on healing’. They can also be quite suite hungry for their triggers – be it Thinkin’ Luck, Mah’s set of triggers or Wong’s quite frankly ridiculous Lightning Storm. Dirty Cheater harnesses the need that frontline masters (or other models, for that matter) have for healing by piggybacking (pun intended) it onto their consumption of cards.
Also, it’s cheap. And an ability that most models would want if they could. Let’s be honest.
Models that excel with Dirty Cheater are models that have abilities that cause a wound for a benefit, with the heal from the upgrade effectively giving you a ‘free’ wound for your troubles. Examples of this are the Gremlin staples of ‘Reckless’ and ‘Thinkin’ Luck’.
Two models in the LaCroix family do wonders with Dirty Cheater. Francois LaCroix has a whole raft of abilities that ping him from a point. He has ‘Reckless’. The ‘Loose Trigger’ trigger can constantly synergise with Dirty Cheater, providing you have enough cards. Part of Francois’ affinity with Dirty Cheater comes from having a zero action. Often I’ll cheat in a low card from my hand, just to heal that ‘Reckless’ wound through the zero action.
That goes for anything with Dirty Cheater. If you have some bad cards and you’re going to fail anyway, might be worth chucking in that bad card just to heal a wound.
 Raphael LaCroix benefits from Dirty Cheater via his ‘Hard to Kill’. If Raphael is on one wound, cheating the attack flip will take him back over the Hard to Kill threshold. If any rams are involved in the attack duel (easy enough in Gremlins), then Hard to Kill will mean that Raphael loses just the one wound – whereas he would’ve normally died without the free wound from Dirty Cheater.
So much value for one stone.

The Guardian Stone 
 An interesting upgrade and one that could be very important in this version of Malifaux. With the changes to the Soulstone mechanic, stats are even more important since duels will rarely push much higher than twenty in total. This upgrade – in combination with the respectable Df and Wp on most Gremlin masters – makes those lofty totals much more likely.
There are a few issues with this upgrade. First of all, it’s pretty resource intensive. Each time you want to use the ability, you’re giving up a Soulstone for the privilege.  Although it may have a printed cost of only one Soulstone, it is naturally much more than that. It’s a worthy price for what you’re paying, but it’s another outlet for Soulstones to spend in. Fewer are going to be spent in aggressive ways – which in my opinion – is a much more useful way to use them, but that’s another topic altogether. Good board placement and playing safe is more likely to keep your Master safe than a few extra pips on Df. That, or removing the thing that might cause you to use this upgrade in the first place.
Another downside to this upgrade other than its hidden cost is that the Df buff is random. It shouldn’t be a massive problem if you have a decent card or two in hand but if not, you’re playing with risk a little too much for comfort. If you do have that good card to combine with the Df buff, then you’re still using up lots of resources in one go. This could be what the scenario requires though, so it may not always be a bad thing. Regardless, random is never something you want to lean too heavily on.
Finally (and this is it’s biggest fault), I never seem to find room for it in my upgrade slots. When purchasing upgrades for my Master, they either tend to indulge in the other generic upgrades heavily or they are very reliant upon their own set of upgrades. Ophelia rarely hits the table without a few empty slots for her guns. Wong is attached to ‘Explosive Solutions’ and ‘A Gremlin’s Luck’ at the hip. As a result, The Guardian Stone only ends up guarding its spot in my card folder.

Liquid Bravery 
 Another upgrade that pays to know what you’re playing against or in other words, ‘situational’. It comes in two parts, one section protecting your Master and one that buffs your troops, at the cost of a zero action.
The former is really handy against crews that will attack your Master through their Wp. This could include (but not limited to) a number of Neverborn models, a few Ressers (look out for Hanged) and Brewmaster. The great thing about forcing foes onto negative flips is how it allows you to thin their resources. Models will be forced to focus beforehand (meaning they’ll generally be doing the one thing that turn) or accept the negative flip, preventing them from cheating and making the action less effective. When taking Henchmen or Masters into account, you might be able to steal a stone away from them. Do keep in mind that this Wp buff only comes into play when they are attacking you. Your Master won’t be any braver when dealing with Terror.
The second half of the upgrade makes your troops stronger in the Wp department. Again, a word of caution. This ability clears states it only affects Minions. Whilst this is fine in some crews (namely Som’er, who has crews that are mostly made up of Minions), in most it’ll leave your heavy hitters open to Wp based attacks. This can be a huge problem, since their Wp is generally as subpar as your Minions and quite frankly, you’d want to protect them more than your peons.

Quality Mash Liqueur (Liquor for us Yanks)
 Let’s not beat around the bush. It’s an upgrade for Som’er. It is a great way for him to scrubber the side effects of his summoning ability. I think Dirty Cheater is stronger for healing, since you’re not using AP to do it unlike the action this upgrade gives. Som’er has time to use AP on this action since he’ll be sitting back and healing. It is pricey for a Gremlin upgrade and it does have a fairly short range, but it’s worth considering for your crew if you can’t fit in a Slop Hauler.

Show Off 
 Turning your models into Ice Gamin is a pretty sweet deal. This upgrade seems - much like The Guardian Stone - an upgrade that is lost in the battle for upgrade slots with the Stilts and Dirty Cheaters of the world. You'll get the most bang for your buck with this by taking it in a list with lots of models, lending it well to Som'er's playstyle (Lenny is a good candidate for it, since his own upgrade is utterly useless). Having said that, any list which takes loads of models would like Show Off since our cheaper models have a habit of dying pretty quickly. I reckon this upgrade is the hidden gem of the general upgrades for our faction.

That's all for this post stay tuned for some more upcoming special guests! - Kris

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