Saturday, November 30, 2013

A response to "How do you make/keep players interested in (whatever)?"

When setting the stage for your players, keeping it short and sweet is the key. Imagine a pitch black room and a flashlight. You can only really see what's within the beam of the flashlight, right? Everything else in the room is shadowy and mysterious. It makes you wonder, it elicits emotions like curiosity or fear. Same thing with D&D. Players have a very limited "cone of vision" within your campaign world, so there's no point in beating them over the head with excessive information. There's also no point in designing things that your players cone of vision will probably never fall upon. Drop knowledge on them as they actively look for it, as it falls within their cone of vision, or if it's vital to the particular quest/story they're embarked on. Other information is best left shadowy and incomplete. It can be tailored and unleashed as needed. The important thing to remember is that your players control the cone of vision, you control what's inside of it.

If they don't care about the villains background, so be it. Save your ultra cool story telling skills for that NPC or villain that they do decide to take an interest in. Just get some of the important details in there. Kinda like writing a thesis statement. "This bad guy is doing X because of Y, and you should  stop him because Z". That's all players need to hear 95% of the time. Awesome treasure and stories obviously help drive the desire to slay the bad guys.

As for main story lines.. I feel that you should always have one, but it should take a back seat to side quests. There are people out there who can explain this much better than I can. My friends, I think, are more interested in running short and sweet adventures that can be wrapped up quickly. Nobody likes dungeon crawls that become long and repetitive. Sometimes there's even room for two really short adventures in one session. A cool way to do this is to feed off of what your players are interested in and make short adventures focused around that, but that's a different topic.



- edit for one more little point...

Think about some video games you play like Skyrim, Fallout, Dragon Age, any of the popular RPG titles. What are you doing 95% of the time? Running silly ass side missions, kicking ass, and taking names. The main story is still there. You're still aware of it because you're being exposed to it in the background of what you're currently doing. Eventually you move on from raping and pillaging short dungeons and you start knocking out storyline quests. When you DM.. be a video game. Some people will want to beat me to death for saying that, but I feel it's a format that works well for the casual Tabletop RPG'er. After all, we're in it to have fun, right? That means you, as the Dungeon Master, need to be flexible.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Painting progress of a Dark Age Warchief

So as part of my resolution to take time painting my miniatures I started with a Warchief for the game Dark Age. Though I am in no way a professional painter I like to think that I can at least paint to a decent table top level relatively well. 
I totally forgot to take a picture of the model before I primed it but I think it doesn't make that much of a difference. Because I was in a rush to buy a can of primer this is GW's black primer, I am more of a fan of the Privateer Press' primer but I had to make do with what I had.


 I learned this technique from one of my buddies I'm sure that there is a more elegant way to both use this as well as a proper application of this technique. But basically you prime black and you dry brush white it helps make the details stick out a bit more as well as adding some instant depth to your miniature before painting it.

Quick example after a coat of Traitor Green from P3 line I believe. The color comes out pretty rich and you can see some natural depth that wouldn't be immediately apparent.

The miniature is coming along nicely with just some base colors, a good amount of the time I spent on the miniature was based on "color placement". When painting up a new model/army that is usually one of the harder parts to figure out personally speaking. I try and come up with little stories for a miniature that I am painting in order to personalize it more and rationalize the colors I used. For example for this miniature I imagined he found some old SWAT armor so I went with the dark blueish color for the armored padding he is wearing.

Here is the miniature just about complete all that is left to do was finish the base and varnish the model once I manage to go down to the hobby shop for supplies. I had a lot of fun with this miniature because I was able to take just a little more time than I allot to myself usually. Though it isn't to a crazy standard it is more than ready to be put onto the table top and be gamed with.

As I said before I am trying to devote more time to this blog to motivate myself to stay active in the community as well as track my progress as far as painting and other hobby related ventures. If you have any suggestions or would like to see more of something feel free to leave a comment! Till then folks!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Let's dust off some of those cobwebs shall we?

Hello everyone I am back! Just took a few months in order for me to get motivated into writing in the blog again. There are several reasons for this for starters League of Legends is a very addictive game... it just took a few months to balance the game with the rest of my life. Hobby wise I was still painting an odd miniature or two but in no way was it for a specific purpose it was merely to test out new paints or techniques I have acquired.

As always Gen Con was the motivator for me to paint a bunch of my friends miniatures as well as my own in preparation for the tournament... Of course it happens to be the last three days before the tournament that i tend to paint like a mad man to get everything done. Gen Con as always was a great experience and I think this year was one of the best I had attended. Nothing great really happened per se but for some reason I just really enjoyed the experience and walked away with a few nuggets of knowledge.

First my love of card games has reemerged! Don't worry i'm not much of a CCG fan but of Fantasy Flight's LCG business model. I played quite a few games of both Star Wars and Netrunner, both games rate extremely high in my book between art direction and game play. I didn't encounter anyone at the tournament that I thought was "that guy" everyone was friendly and all of my matches were a pleasure. Not only that but the variance in deck construction was quite good. Though some people used similar set ups they put their own personal touches on their decks that made me look at my deck through a different lens.

Second was my love of miniature games never diminishes though this year there was a notable sharp decline in the Malifaux games I played. Games like Dark Age and Hell Dorado I played at Gen Con were great fun and challenged me tactically. But I realized that I should not be rushing all the miniatures I want to paint for a tournament the week of Gen Con. Rather I am going to start painting miniatures months in advance even if I am not sure if I am going to use them.

Miniatures especially in skirmish games are very unique so I should take time to paint them up to the level they deserve rather than rush them out the door at the last minute. With that said I have taken an oath to take my time on my miniatures so after loading up on a few miniatures from Gen Con... namely Dark Age and Bushido miniatures the first thing I did when I went home is primed and painted a Warchief model (pics coming soon).

Well with that I am out of here for now I will update very soon.. in fact I am actually working on that article as we speak just going over it some for the final release. As always I welcome any suggestions so if you want to see reviews of certain games or just more articles of certain games I play feel free to leave a comment. Stay tuned everyone and hope that everyone is on the path of Geeky Enlightenment!


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Some things I've learned as a journeyman Dungeon Master.

Dungeon Mastering is an art form. It is the art not only of telling a story, not only of entertaining your players, but also of giving those players the tools for them to create their own scenes, to affect the world around them, and to truly choose their own adventure. A DM should take pride in an entertaining and memorable session.

Although all players should be contributing equally to the creativity and immersion of the session, It's up to the DM to set the stage and ignite the fires of the imagination. If given the right details and prompts, players imaginations will flare to life and they'll run away with scenes. The DM's job is not to overlord a game session and beat players into the ground with oppressive rules and dialogue. The players don't care about your masterfully written campaign history or how many hours you spend fleshing out every NPC in your world. In the long run none of that will matter. The DM's job is to suggestively and seductively plant creative seeds in the players mind and carefully nurture them to fruition. This means that being a DM is an art. It requires a degree of empathy, the ability to read faces, interpret moods, alter the flow of combat/story to alleviate boredom and inspire immersion.The players will do the rest.

Details should be applied at the players request, or otherwise strategically to inspire curiosity and interaction. There is no need to tell the players every boring detail about your city if all they want to do is find an Inn/Tavern/Brothel/Store. A four paragraph description should not greet the players as they kick down the decaying door sealing the ancient wizard's tomb. A player does not need to know where the stitching pattern of the noble NPC's garment. Conversely no player should ever be left wanting of descriptions and imagination fuel. It's safe to strategically employ key details in scenes and gauge player's interest and reaction to the crumbs you sprinkle. While traveling through the city to find the Inn/Tavern/Brothel/Store there's no harm in mentioning key landmarks they pass en route. It's also a great time to introduce NPC's big or small. I recently introduced "Gorvi the Dungsweeper" as an NPC while the characters were searching for a Apothacary located along the waterfront district. An NPC of zero importance was briefly mentioned and the PC's took an immediate interest in his backstory... of their own free will and without beating them over the head with unwanted details. At the same time several of the main streets were name dropped and a few key buildings were passed... just enough for the players to remember "Oh yea, that theater place is on.. Circus Street? Festival Street? Something like that". It doesn't matter if the details are fuzzy, but it does matter that they are attempting to recall the information because it's being given to them in easy little bite-sized chunks. Knowledge of your setting and the ability to think on your feet are highly prized attributes to possess in order to strike this fine balance.

It was told to me that people think in terms of "scenes" not rounds, or hours, or even days. The more I think about it, the more it makes sense. Ask your players what their characters were doing seven days ago and you'll get answers like "well.. how long ago were we in that dungeon?" or "Well I think it took us about a week to journey through the forest right..?". As I'm sure most players do, mine think in terms of meaningful scenes. Ask them how many "adventures ago" something happened and they'll be much more able to recall the event in question. Enforcing a linear flow of time in a fantasy game is the equivalent of watching paint dry or trying to recall uninteresting pieces of information for a midterm. If the overland travel to a nearby city is uneventful then so be it! There is no need to make players set camp, create a sentry rotation, and re-memorize their spells every day for a four day peaceful journey through The Shire. Looking back on the previous point, and using overland travel as an example, details can still be strategically placed to inspire curiosity. Skipping straight to the third day of travel through a forest, when the PC's stumble past the ancient site of an overgrown fort, is perfectly fine.. in fact preferable. Players get bored easily, and DM's burn out quickly. Skip straight to the good stuff unless it's absolutely necessary for plot reasons.

The world goes on with or without the PC's. More importantly than your knowledge of rules is your familiarity with the world itself. Become intimately familiar with stage that your actors will tell their story upon. PC actions should have reactions. The better you know your setting, the better you can create a truly interactive environment. Don't drive yourself crazy trying to micromanage every NPC in 100 mile radius, but don't be afraid to place bold and conditional new details in the world based on your players decisions. The haunted forest they cleared out? It turns out some of the best wood in the region can be found there. Loggers from the nearby small village have set up a camp thanks to the players. My players recently probed the lair of a juvenile black dragon but didn't fight it. The result was a dragon rampaging across the farmlands the next day and taking out several farmsteads before returning to it's lair. Players have a direct role in the development of the story and the world itself, don't be afraid to explore the possibilities.

DM'ing is a constant learning experience, and I hope to improve my game in order to contribute to the entertainment of the players and myself. No one side should be clearly dominant. Players have an obligation to interact creatively and enthusiastically, but a DM's job is to inspire and facilitate those feelings and desires so that all players can enjoy our time spent together at the table.

What things have you learned to make you a better story teller?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Wastrel Overview and Tactics

One always assumes that with wealth and good breeding that only paragons of justice and virtue are born..If that were only true then the sons of the wealthy would not end up in such a place as Malifaux. Whether it was to escape persecution Earth side or simply the pleasures on the other side of the breach fail to suffice. One way or another these black sheep of  the wealthy make their wake to Malifaux and look for ways to cause trouble. Though the Guild doesn't officially recognize these Wastrels as officers of the Guild.. there are times when their certain set of skills could be used..

Welcome to the Wastrels the gentlemen thugs of  Malifaux! Even before the book was released I was eagerly awaiting the arrival of these minions. Though at first when the art was spoiled I thought these would fall under the Arcanist branch I was overjoyed upon opening the book and finding these guys under the Guild's umbrella of operatives! With that said lets see just what us Guild players got...

Abilities:

Dual Faction: (Guild/Ten Thunders)
This is another model  that may be hired  by Ten Thunders masters which does in fact include Lucas McCab as one of the five choices available. There is a great amount of choice if you decide to go the Ten Thunders route since you can "splash" 1-2 minions from every faction. As I have said before not too familiar with all the combinations of Ten Thunders but it does add great versatility.

Aniomosity (Zoraida):

Usually models with WP 4 or lower may be hired by Zoraida, but not these guys! With this ability these models may not be hired if she is leading a crew.

Backstabber:
While the Wastrel is under the effects of Harmless it gets +2 Dg to it's Damage Flip. This is quite a good boost considering how low the damage output of his Gang Weapons are at 1/2/3. But don't let straight damage be the judging point of this model there is more to be seen!

Castoffs:
For each Wastrel in your crew you may pick one of the following options, it is considered printed onto their card from that point. You cannot have any duplicates of same Castoffs ability, here are the following choices:
-Earth's Elixir-
It is a 0 action that can only be used once an encounter, but once activated the Wastrel cannot be brought down below 1 wound. This is a great ability to throw a Wastrel onto an objective and have him activate this ability so he cannot be killed. Mind you  that he could STILL be Sacrificed but just about every other form of damage going his way he can simply shrug off.
-Petrified Feather-
A great ability when you have to zoom across the field to jump on an objective or avoid an enemy, once per encounter as an (All) action this model can be placed anywhere within 18" it can legally be placed. Since it is a Place effect you do not have to worry about Disengaging Strikes or any of that jazz. Also something to keep in mind is that even if you are Slow you can still use an All action.
-Soulstone Bullet-
Once per encounter before inflicting damage with Small Handgun replace the 1/3/4 damage stat to 3/4 with a blast/6 with a blast and it is Magical damage. Another one use ability it is good to remember that it is before Damage especially with only a Cb of 4 with Small Handgun you can use the ability when it seems most dire or useful.
-Strange Metal Blade-
The only Castoffs ability that is not 'one use' it replaces the Gang Weapons damage of 1/2/3 with 1/3 + Slow/4 + Paralyzed and the weapon is Magical. Not only do you receive a significant damage boost but the effects you gain on the weapon are great for a 4ss minion to have around. Remember that you still have access to 'Critical Strike' on your Gang Weapons making it quite a nice choice to take.

Harmless:
Enemy models targeting this minion with an attack must win a WP>12 Duel or the action fails, unless the model with Harmless performs any action other than Walk or Pass. Ruthless and Terrifying models ignore Harmless.

With only a Defense of 4 and no other defensive buffs Harmless is a great way for your Wastrels to get into position especially against models with low WP. Even against models with relatively nice WP this Harmless ability isn't a total waste because it will force your opponent to burn a card on top of their deck. The amount of times I have seen a high card get wasted on random flips is staggering.

Ruthless:
This model ignores both Harmless and Pitiful when targeting enemy models. Quick and simple with only a WP of 4 you do not want your Wastrels to use that stat for Duels. Models like Kirai and Molly cannot rely on their Pitiful ability to cover them up once they unleash their tricks.

Weapon:

Gang Weapons: Paired


Small Handgun: Paired

Both weapons at a glance aren't too impressive till you notice that both weapons are actually Paired. Off the top of my head I cannot recall too many models with both Ranged and Melee paired weapons especially at this Soulstone cost. With a healthy dose of Castoffs and/or Triggers these low Damage output weapons become all the more menacing...

Triggers:


Critical Strike (Gang Weapons):

If you hit with a Rams suited card you gain +1 Damage to your Gang Weapons bumping it from a 1/2/3 to a 2/3/4. Not too shabby especially when you have a Paired Cb 5 weapon it shouldn't be too hard to hit your opponent. It is more of a bonus especially if you couple it with the Castoffs ability of Stangemetal Blade which would become 2/4 + slow/5 + Paralyzed.

Reload...Twice (Small Handgun):
Quite an odd Trigger that requires you hit your target with a Crows suited card, replace the damage of Small Handgun from 1/3/4 to 3/6/8! It is quite a punch indeed doubles your damage but at a great cost. After the attack is resolved this Wastrel ends it's activation and gains Paralyzed. This is Trigger is based highly on the situation, if you can knock out an important model then sure why not go for broke. I see this Trigger most often being used the second action that the Wastrel has just to add a little bit more to damage before you go useless or die the next turn. 

Actions:


Secret Passages:
This model can be placed 8" if no enemy can draw Line of Sight when this model performs this action and the Wastrel is not engaged in Melee. This action does not end Harmless on the Wastrel. A very nice ability to get about the battlefield even if you only perform this ability once a turn you effectively double the Walk of the Wastrel. In addition since it is a Place effect you can essentially phase through walls and into terrain.

Jumping from cover to cover through Line of Sight blocking terrain means that your Wastrel can travel a max of 16" a turn. Have to check if I am correct on this but though you cannot be Engaged or in Line of Sight to the enemy when you start this action. It does not say you cannot end your action in any of the above. Good for pouncing on enemies or getting to their objectives while staying relatively safe.

In my book it is another fine low cost model available to Guild, though the Wastrels do not follow the typical high damage straight forward tactics approach that Guild usually take... that is actually a good thing. The Wastrels have a few neat tricks that Guild didn't have access to in the past, having mobile tricksters that meld well with their respective Master is quite nice indeed.

My only real complaint is that they are not "Guardsmen" but that is only because I wanted the run them with Lucius for the "Dapper Gentlemen Crew". All jokes aside I think just about any Master barring Hoffman can get some good use out of these guys. In theory being faster than even the mighty Warden and only being slightly cheaper. Again with Dual Faction I have not looked to see what crossover ability they may have with the other Masters but as always versatility and options are always a good  thing in my book! Till then folks!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Clockwork Trap Overview and Tactics

Deep in the laboratories of the Guild, scientists work tirelessly coming up with new equipment for Guild officers to bring to the field. What started off as a simple trap spawned into something bigger as the scientists pushed the limit of their ingenuity. This in turn has spawned their very latest... the Clockwork Trap! Stalking its prey as it slithers across the battlefield before it finally attacks and latches onto its victim incapacitating them!

Hello folks and welcome to another article I know that I have been away for quite some time but summer time is usually the busiest with conventions and what not going on. When I got back it took some time to detox and during that time I looked over the new Storm of Shadows book by Malifaux. I figured that I should write an article that highlights one of the new Guild minions. So here is my small review of the model by reading the rules. I haven't been able to proxy it in a game yet but I figured here are a few ideas that first came to me while reading the entry over.

Abilities:

Dual Faction: (Guild/Ten Thunders)
Not a real ability but it allows both Guild and Ten Thunders factions to hire this model into their crews. Which crew this model can get hired into is HUGE and  the amount of combinations that can be done I haven't checked up on fully. So most of my following observations come from a Guild standpoint.

Arachnid:
This ability lets the Clockwork trap get into a good position by ignoring Severe and Climbable terrain penalties in addition it treats all vertical surfaces as climbable. With a very average walk of 4 this really helps the clock work trap get the most out of it's movement.

Evasive +2:
When hit by a blast marker the Clockwork Trap will receive Armor 2 against the damage, quite nifty considering that the trap only has 3 Wounds. Along with the Tiny ability it makes the Clockwork Trap just a little bit more survivable against most ranged threats.

From the Shadows:
Allows the Clockwork Trap to be deployed after all miniatures have been placed, must be in cover and at least 12" away from an enemy and an objective from a Strategy and/or Scheme. In addition this model cannot be targeted by Ranged Strikes or be target of a Charge unless it takes an action other than Pass.

Great ability that lets you counter deploy your enemy where you think you may be your weakest, Clockwork Trap is great at area denial. This ability compliments what the miniature is supposed to do, it can sit in terrain waiting for an enemy or reinforcements to come.

Harmless:
Enemy models targeting this minion must first win a WP>12 Duel or the action immediately ends, they may ignore Harmless if they are Terrifying or Ruthless. Harmless ends if this minion performs an action other than Move or Pass.

Another nice little defensive buff for the Clockwork Trap though some would reason if someone wants the Trap dead that it will die one way or another...but who wants to overkill a 2ss model?

Immune to Influence:
A staple on quite a few constructs this makes the model immune to any Will Power Duels while it is the defender. Nice little ability means your model cannot be manipulated whether its due to movement or control shenanigans.

Tiny:
Ranged Strikes and Ranged Spells suffer a Negative fate flip when targeting this model, in addition this model does not block Line of Sight to other models. Another great defensive buff if this model is in cover even Paired weapons will not hit this model reliably.

Coupled with a nice Defense of 6 anybody targeting this minion with Ranged Strikes is going to have a hard time drawing a bead with their guns! If they want to waste the resources to eliminate this minion then it is already doing its job.

Top Secret:
This increases the rarity of the Clockwork Trap from Rare 3 to Rare 6 when the crew includes either McCabe and/or Guild Trappers. Not much else to this talent not quite sure why you would need 6 in a regular game but at 2ss a pop it is not out of  the realm of possibility.

Unstable:
If this model Flips a  Black Joker for a starting Duel he produces a Pulse 2 for 2 Damage and is then Sacrificed. Shouldn't come up too often but I can see how some people hate losing models on a "random" flip, if it's any consolation it is only 2ss AND it gets sacrificed so no counters for any Scavengers!

Weapon:

Trapping Jaw:
Models who are hit by this weapon cannot attempt to disengage unless the Clockwork Trap either moves or is removed from the game. Traps... well TRAP models it will make them immobile unless they either kill the trap by wasting AP or have Push or Placement effects.

Triggers:

Elusive:
After an enemy misses the Clockwork Trap with a Melee Strike if you have cheated with a Mask suited card you may immediately push the Clockwork Trap 3" ignoring terrain. Quite nifty to get you out of a tight spot if you face something you may not be able to handle. Since it does not say directly away and because the ability does not say it has to leave melee range of any models you can in theory tie up an nearby enemy models with this push.

Actions:

(0) Clamp Down:
The first of three (0) abilities available to the Clockwork Trap, pick a model within 2" they must perform a Cb > Wk Duel. If the target loses the Duel it becomes Paralyzed and you must Sacrifice the Clockwork Trap. If the Clockwork Trap was still benefiting from Harmless when it takes this action it gets a Positive Flip to this Duel.

Most models who have the ability to Paralyze either are Masters or expensive Minions, so when you can have a cheap model that has access to Paralyze it is a GREAT thing. Sure it comes at the price of the Clockwork Trap's life but when you tie up or deter an enemy this action is worth its cost many times over.

(0) Primed:
With this action the Clockwork Trap may make the "Clamp Down" action when an enemy model comes within 2" of this minion, in addition this does not end Harmless. A simple set up ability that is very rare in Malifaux and that is the ability to essentially interrupt a model's action while they are activated.

With this action you can simply set it and forget it, watch the enemy either try and run through the traps or they will have to take a detour around your Clockwork Trap. In addition because it is not a strike per se you can even catch models who have Flight or Float!

Spells:

(0) Dug In:
A relatively tough spell for the Clockwork Trap  to pull off, needing a 9+ of any suit this spell will give the Clockwork Trap +3 Armor until it moves. Not a bad use of a (0) action will give the Clockwork Trap a slight measure of protection when the inevitable close combat begins. With a high defense of 6 you can close to gap and almost always ensure a negative flip when being attacked. So having +3 Armor will usually degrade most melee attacks to 1 damage.

Though I would prefer to use the "Primed" action wherever possible Dug In is not a bad action at all in case you want to tie an enemy or even multiple enemeis. Armoring up can sitting in combat preventing enemies from leaving is a perfectly viable strategy.

Off the top of my head I cannot recall many models (especially those in Guild) that specialize in area denial so the Clockwork Trap is quite a treat. Of course Hoffman always loves new/cheap constructs to put into his list I can see him using these to actually out activate an enemy.. as well as other neat tricks. Regular Guild crews can also benefit from slowing down the enemy by having a trap or two lay in wait till the enemy is forced to run into them.

As far as being Dual Faction the Clockwork Trap also has lots of potential in Mei Feng's crew where she can use  them to "bounce" off of with her  Railwalker spell. But of course as I have mentioned in the beginning of  the article this is all "Theoryfaux" as I have not been able to test this minion out. Feel free to comment below with any ideas you have thought up for this minion or if I should edit some of the article. Till then folks!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Lucius, Governor's Secretary Overview and Tactics



In Malifaux there are many things to fear, from the rampaging Neverborn to the undead constructs raised from the grave by the Ressurectionists. But no single human being is as feared as much as Lucius, with his porcelain mask he is the voice of authority in Malifaux. No one doubts his terrible power as with a simple word or gesture he can make any opposition mysteriously disappear. Behind every transaction and deal that the Guild make Lucius personally oversees the details with meticulous planning and deadly efficiency.

Today we talk about one of my favorite models the ever intimidating Lucius, though some people see him as something of a "pencil pusher" Lucius is actually quite the killer. He lives up to his back story by having his minions do all the dirty work as he pulls strings from the shadows. All fear the mysterious man behind the mask, time to find out what's behind it!

Looking over Lucius' statistics he doesn't seem all that impressive as either a Leader or  Henchmen (the latter being 10 soul stones) with most of his stats roaming around the 6 area Lucius almost looks lack luster. Do not be fooled by the raw printed statistics, after you keep reading his card you will see that Lucius actually fills out his card quite nicely with a plethora of abilities/actions/spells/etc.

Abilities:

Advanced Planning:
Any Crew containing Lucius that used a Soul Stone to reflip a Strategy gains one Soul Stone into its Soul Stone Cache. It should be noted that this ability cannot be used when doing a Shared Strategy but otherwise this is quite a good ability. now most players probably would not even dare to waste a stone to reflip a mission. But if you plan to take Lucius you have nothing to worry about as it will come back towards your Soul Stone Cache when you are done building your crew.

Have a mission you aren't particularly strong at? You can reflip the Strategy giving you a better chance to accomplish objectives. As I have said before I do not believe I have seen many people sacrificing a Soul Stone in order to reflip strategies even when they WOULD want to. So the fact that you can do it for "free" should not be something overlooked.

Highest Authority:
Any Strikes or Casts targeting Lucius receive a negative to Attack and Casting Flips. An excellent ability that will help Lucius keep relatively safe even with his low base Defense. In most cases Lucius just has to watch out for enemies who have Paired weapons. As most other enemies will generally be at a disadvantage it doesn't matter how high their Cb or Ca are since they will be at a negative they will not be able to cheat, while Lucius can easily avoid any incoming attention.

Yes a model can get around this by Focusing or Channeling but I have found in most cases if they attempt to do this they are usually  giving up movement so will tend to find other methods to deal with Lucius. Though this makes Lucius pretty hard to target for most models do not think he is above enemy reproach. If you want him to be near bullet proof just hide him behind some terrain where even Focused/Paired weapons will have trouble dealing with him.

Secret Service:
While a friendly Elite Division or Guardsmen model is within 2" of Lucius he  gains a +2 to his Defense, making him a respectable 6. Mixed with 'Highest Authority' this ability makes Lucius pretty hard for most minions and even some master to take out quickly without allocating a good amount of resources. Where as some abilities vary pending on situation this ability is almost always the recommended path to be taken.

The reasoning behind having either an Elite Division or Guardsmen model near Lucius is because Lucius himself is more of a crew buffer.While his damage output is actually quite mediocre it is his ability to command others to be more effective that makes him great. By having a model near by it creates a very effective bodyguard even out of the humble Guild Guardsman.

Slow to Die:
When this model is killed it may immediately take a 1 action before it is removed from the table, if the model manages to gain at least 1 Wound back it stays alive and is not removed from the table. This is an amazing ability on a minion but when given  to a model capable of Use Soul Stone it becomes even better. Since regardless of how many Wounds Lucius takes he can simply absorb the damage and burn a Soul Stone to make a Healing Flip for his 1 action. As long as it is not a Black Joker he stays around for some more!

It should be noted that "Kill" effects will still put you in the ground permanently so if you are going to burn a stone to avoid getting hit make sure it is to avoid a "Kill" effect. Though few models actually have such an effect it is a good heads up to remember such things. How many games have been lost due to not paying attention to details?

Special Forces Leader (Elite Division):
Not a real ability per se just crew hiring limitations for Lucius, simply put crews led by Lucius can only be compromised with models with the following keywords: Elite Division, Guardsmen and/or Totems.This only comes into play when you have Lucius lead a crew, personally that is the ONLY way I run Lucius. Yes he can "sling shot" Masters or powerful Minions into combat but for me I enjoy using him as a Leader of a crew.

As of the posting of this article the minion pool includes: Guild Guardsmen, Guild Hounds, Ryle, Lawyers, Guild Captains, Austringers, Wardens and various totems. Though with the new book being released a little over a month away I eagerly await to see what other goodies Lucius may get.

Terrifying 12:
Whenever a Living Model without Terrifying activates, moves through, or ends an action within Lucius' melee range or when declaring a Charge against Lucius they must win a Morale Duel of 12 or immediately fall back. Another defensive ability that Lucius possesses if he ever is locked in melee with an enemy even if they have a high Will Power stat do not forget this ability. Yes they may easily pass the test but the more you mill an enemy's deck the better the chances.

For a second imagine an enemy laughing that they "JUST" have to pass this low Terrifying duel and they flip a Red Joker for the test. That WOULD have been a Red Joker on the attack if it were not for Terrifying! Also what if they flip a really low card? The opponent will have to cheat using one of the cards in their hand they were saving for something they hoped would of been a better situation. If ever an opponent flips a Black Joker for such a test they will be fuming, what would of been a regular miss turns into their model forfeiting their action and running away!

Triggers:

Governor's Authority:
When Lucius must absolutely dirty his hands in a scrap he has this nifty trigger. When he hits a model with a Rams suited card the defender may not target Lucius with ANY attacks. Adding to his survival skills all Lucius has to do is HIT the enemy regardless if damage is caused or not and the enemy will just have to sit there and hope another model is in melee range to use actions on.

With his Cb 6 aiming for this trigger is not a terribly bad idea when you are in a pinch, though I have said that Lucius does better commanding other models it doesn't mean he can't hold his own in combat. This trigger effectively "pins" a model in place with Lucius unless there is a model in range all they can do is either sit there and hop it doesn't happen again OR try and break away combat from Lucius.

Actions:

Casting Expert (+1)::
This gives Lucius an extra action which can only be used for Casting a Spell, not too shabby considering that Lucius has three (1) spells that can be cast. More often than not this spell will "Issue Command" but do not completely discount his other spells...

Advanced Training:
A (0) action that gives all friendly Elite Division or Guardsmen +2cb till the end of Lucius' activation. Though at first glance this ability seems quite prohibitive take a moment to let it sink in. This action is used exclusively with "Issue Command" to make even the humble Guild Guardsman a very skilled swordsmen or gun slinger. When this bonus is applied to something like a Guild Guard Captain or an Austringer this action is VERY nasty as it would create extremely accurate attacks from your minions.

I tend to use this action second turn on unless I want to keep re positioning my crew via "Reinforcements", the +2cb is a huge bonus especially since it can come into use up to three times a turn (by casting "Issue Command" three times) which makes it quite devastating. When this bonus is applied to an Austringer this boosts up their strikes to Cb 9 even some Masters will have difficulty avoiding an attack! While Minions more often than not can only hope to close the gap so the attack doesn't do too much damage.

Ruthless Leadership:
By sacrificing a friendly Elite Division or Guardsman model within 2" Lucius gains Reactivate, this action can only be used once per turn. When it comes to Lucius he has three very viable (0) actions as you will see, with this action  he gains Reactivate which is quite a powerful effect to have. With Reactivate you can have Lucius dash off with some treasure, interact with terrain or simply continue supporting his crew.

Targets for "Ruthless Leadership" tend to be models that have already activated or are already on the chopping block because of being paralyzed, poisoned or simply low on wounds. In the closing stages of the game where an enemy may have activated all their models having Lucius activate again is never a bad thing especially when it means you can "Issue Command" an additional 3 times a turn.

Spells:

Reinforcements:
Needing a 7+ of any suit this 18" range spell places a friendly model from the deployment zone to within 4" of Lucius. A very nifty spell that can make even your slow movers one of the fastest models in the game, this spell in particular is why most players include Lucius into their crew. You double Walk Lucius cast Reinforcements and if the model happens to be Guardsman or Elite Division you can even "Issue Command" on them for some extra shenanigans.

The subtle power of this spell is that because it does not "target" a model you can slingshot models like Ryle or even the Lawyer without any negative effects. Also it is a "Place" effect so you can put a model into/onto a building, out of line of sight, etc. Do not think this is JUST a turn 1-2 spell.if one of your models is running away from the enemy run to your deployment zone and simply have Lucius teleport them out from harms way.

In a mission like " Deliver the Message" after the opponent activates his master and there is no immediate danger simply walk up Lucius and cast this spell to put the minion within range. In some cases it is easier to walk one of your minions to your deployment zone to have Lucius re position them further along the board or onto an objective.

Guild Intelligence:
Next up we have Guild Intelligence needing a 6+ to cast this spell allows you to draw a card then discard a control card. This spell is relatively easy to cast and should you have nothing that needs Lucius' immediate attention it is a good spell. Any time you have the potential to cycle through your deck and weed out the low cards is a good thing in my book.

Even if you cycle into a weak card never discount that the card  COULD of been a failed defense/resist flip, yes it may stay in your hand but when you discard it next turn that is a turn free of one weaker card out of your deck.

Hidden Sniper:
An interesting spell that requires a minimum of 5+ Rams suited card to be cast, it is spell that targets Defense and has a nice range of 16". It's damage output is not that impressive at a 1/2/4 but it should be noted that this spell is not considered a Ranged Spell so it can be cast to/from melee without penalty. In addition Lucius himself does not need Line of Sight, in fact this spell can target any model within range of the spell that any friendly Elite Division can see.

I have  not personally used  this spell much the relatively weak damage probably will not make a big dent in an enemy barring a lucky severe or red joker card on damage. But if an enemy is camped in some terrain or you are facing a pesky Spirit I can see where this can come into play. Though Lucius has better spells and actions to do in the right circumstances this particular spell can be useful..

Issue Command:
The spell that defines Lucius as a crew buffer Issue Command needs an 8+ of any suit to go off, it allows a friendly Elite Division or Guardsman to immediately make a melee or ranged strike action or it can take a walk action. With a healthy range of 12" Lucius can stay behind his minions a good distance while commanding them to carry out his orders.

As has been mentioned in "Advanced Training" this spell can effectively double (or more) a minions actions and make them quite dangerous. Just when an enemy thinks they may be safe you can spam attacks and even some of the better defense minions will break a sweat as they burn through their deck or hand trying to defend themselves. The most popular use of this spell is to make an Austringer attack even more! with an already deadly Cb 7 even without "Advanced Training" the enemy will be hard pressed to avoid attacks.

In missions where movement can mean victory or defeat simply make a model keep taking Walk actions, just make sure to keep them in range of Issue Command until Lucius uses his last AP. Being able to move just about anywhere, focus fire and other tricks ANY time after their activation or even before is a huge boon. It will keep an enemy guessing unless they completely eliminate a minion they will have to second guess some of their plans if Lucius did not yet activate.

My preferred totem of Lucius when he is leading a crew is the Governor's Proxy this is for a handful of reasons. The main reason is that the Totem comes with a ghosted Rams suit for his Ca so he can ALSO cast Issue command but needing a 9+ instead. Sure it he can only cast it an additional time but when a 2 Soul Stone totem can give a higher Soul Stone model another action it is a thing of beauty.

Now I have to chime in that all the times I have played Lucius he has always been leading the crew so I cannot comment on the greater use of him when taken in addition to a master. It is a rare thing when Lucius actually stays dead at the end of the game, between having some great defensive buffs and other models putting out damage output the enemy either forgets about him or over commits.

The speed that Lucius provides means that he can really get his crew where they need to be, so in objective missions you can easily get about the battlefield and pick where you want the fight to be. Much to his background story and character Lucius does plan things meticulously and see that every cog in the Guild machine does it's part. Playing Lucius as a leader for a crew is a different experience because all of the current Guild masters can do some damage in one way or another where as Lucius lets others do the work for him.

If Lucius has a glaring weakness it is that if all his minions are dead most of Lucius' usefulness goes with them. He NEEDS his crew to do all the heavy lifting so unless you have a mission that either relies on staying alive or mobility you may be toast. If a master or powerful minion decides to go after him there is not much Lucius can do but stall or run away unless he is lucky. With that said Lucius is one of my main crew leaders (the other being Sonnia) and I always enjoy fielding his crew, it is a breath of fresh air and gives Guild players tons of tricks that were previously unavailable.