Thursday, June 7, 2012

Judge Overview and Tactics

Ever by the side of his mistress the Judge is a cold and efficient killer, many of the citizens hear horrid stories about the death marshals. But the Judge is the one they fear the most with almost super human resiliency and his lack of fear for his own safety or death. It is whispered that the Judge's face is nothing but bone or some other such horrors underneath the bandanna that covers most of his face. But when the living dead come back to life there is only one that surpasses the Judge's skill in arms and knowledge of the forbidden lores that is in the employ of the guild.. Lady Justice herself.

Today I take a closer look at the Judge not only is he a stunning model (both regular and nightmare version) but he is quite handy in a pinch. Though he lacks the special abilities or cool tricks that book 2 and 3 Guild minions may have inherited he is still quite appealing even with his moderately high Soul Stone cost of 7. At first glance you will notice he has a decent Walk/Charge and Defense values that is on par with most of the Ortega's at a healthy 5-7.

When it comes to weapons the Long Arm Pistol and Long Arm do not seem THAT impressive at a glance with a 2/3/4 and 2/4/5 damage flips respectively. In addition though cb 6 is decent for the Long Arm the Long Arm pistol only sports a 5cb, though these would be usually good stats for most minions you have to factor in that this particular minion is a healthy 7 stones and has to fight hard to beat out the other guild minions... Have no fear though because though he is a bit on the expensive side hopefully this article will  give you some insight on how to use the Judge or maybe spur on thoughts of your own how he should be used!


Hard to Wound 1:
One of the signature abilities usually seen on Ressurectionist models, it makes any damage flips against Judge receive a negative flip modifier. Barely hitting your enemy and receiving a negative flip is bad enough, but when you are not only grinding your deck and possibly some good cards but reduce the chance  to do high damage it is killer.

Never Me:
A neat little bonus ability that was made almost purely to combat Ressur crews, when Judge dies he does not leave behind a corpse counter. It is not an ability worth writing home about BUT it will be handy to remember when you do fight against Ressur crews.

Slow to Die:
When this model is killed it immediately gets a 1 AP action before it is removed from play. This is a great ability not just because you can get some payback but because you have the ability to do it at range OR in close combat. If you have a 5 or 6 Masks suited card you can cast 'Blades and Bullets' or 'Bullets and Blades' because it is a 1 action spell that generates two attacks!

Fear not Death:
Another anti-Ressur ability this gives the Judge +2wp against Undead models while he is the defender. Since it is a very specialized bonus this ability will probably not be used often. But it is always a good idea to remember ALL of your model's abilities because you never know when it will be useful.


Critical Strike (Long Arm and Long Arm Pistol):
The bread and butter trigger that most Guild models have applies to both of the Judge's weapons, though only the Long Arm actually has an automatic Rams suit built into the weapon. This makes a Long Arm strike damage flip to be 3/5/6 not bad at all, 2 Long Arm strikes will kill most low level minions even on minimum damage. Though the Long Arm Pistol strike does not come with a Rams suit in it's CB its good to note that when you do manage to hit with a Rams suited card that the damage is very consistent and would be increased to 3/4/5.

Final Repose:
Though for most occasions 'Critical Strike' is probably going to be your go to Trigger, Final Repose is not a bad idea when finishing off an opponent. After killing a defender with a melee attack they do not generate Counters of any kind. This is great ability to use against summoning masters/minions depriving them of some raw materials means you are limiting their options. For example if Judge manages to kill a Flesh Construct that is two less Corpse Counters masters like Nicodem can recycle and throw back at you.


(2) Flurry:
Nothing too fancy here, discard a card and use two AP in order to make three separate melee attacks against a single target in range. Not too bad as with a decent score of 6cb with his Long Arm strike Judge should hit most models reliably. The only downside is that you would already have to be in combat already in order to use this or at least be moved/pushed by other means.

Three attacks via Flurry even on minimum damage can send most minions to an early grave, now on a master you may have some trouble as they will probably either have a higher defense or burn a soul stone to avoid getting hit. But if a master is spending all their high cards and soul stones trying to avoid getting hit I would say that the Judge is doing a good job draining resources.

In most cases the 'Blades and Bullets' spell is a better option because it will give you two attacks for the cost of an AP allowing the other AP to be used for movement or if you are lucky another casting of 'Blades and Bullets'. The only flaw of the plan is to make sure to keep at least a 5 of Masks suited card in order to pull this off and hope a Black Joker doesn't rear it's head.


Needing at least a 5+ Crows suited card this spell can cause an enemy to discard a control card every time they want to take Walk or Charge action for the rest of the game. The enemy could discard two control cards in order to cancel this spell after it has been cast. With a range of 12" which is quite far in the game of Malifaux it is able to tag opponents who would be regularly out of reach of the Judge.

This spell may not seem like much but if you are inclined to make a "Kill Effect" list making your opponent bleed cards even if they are "useless" can lead to some very hard choices for them later on in the turn. But if that isn't your thing this spell is still useful, limiting your opponent's choices either by making them discard or burning a card to avoid being tagged by this spell is still a good tactical option.

Blades and Bullets:
With just a 5+ Masks suited card you can turn the Judge into a whirlwind of limbs and blades, the Judge immediately makes a Long Arm strike and a Long Arm Pistol strike against a single target in range of the 2" spell. This effectively gives the Judge the Gunfighter skill for the action and if you have the cards how can one pass up 2 attacks for the cost of 1 action?

Though the damage on the Long Arm Pistol strike is not as good as its melee equivalent as far as being slightly weaker in both CB and DG it is a minor complaint over all when you can move a healthy 5" and lay hurt on an enemy model. If the Judge is in a position where he doesn't need to move and you have been hoarding two 5+ cards you can unleash this Spell twice on the same model or two different models.

Bullets and Blades:
A very interesting spell that lets you make both a Long Arm and Long Arm Pistol Strike against a single target within 8" of the Judge. All you need is a 6+ suited Mask card and a little bit of lack as both weapons will suffer from a -2cb on their strikes. Though the drawback looks kind of big bringing your strikes to 4cb for the Long Arm and 3cb for the Long Arm strike do not completely discount this spell. First of all it is not considered a "Ranged" spell so you will not suffer the usual penalties, such as shooting at a target in cover or shooting into combat.

When you factor those two great benefits the spell starts to shape up a bit since if you were to shoot regularly with your Long Arm Pistol you would receive a negative/random flip. As with the spell 'Blades and Bullets' it is a good spell to get off and still retain your mobility or other options open.

Needing at least an 8+ of any suit the Judge can do a 1/2/4 damage flip against the target, not very impressive at first glance. But if you have learned anything from the Judge is that he is particularly good against undead/spirit models and this spell is no different. If it targets an undead/spirit model the damage becomes a 2/4/8 flip! yes against most undead you will probably only get 2 damage due to hard to wound. But spirits are not afforded the same luxury as you can blast away most spirits by keeping a Severe damage card in your hand which would kill most spirits in one shot!

The spell like a few of the Judge's other spells/abilities/etc IS based heavily on the situation and opponent you are facing I will admit. But I tend to see it as another option SHOULD I need it if something is too far away hiding in cover or I simply do not have the suited cards to pull off 'Bullets and Blades'.

So there you have it, with the Judge you not only gain some great melee potential but when you factor in he has some surprises in the ranged department also it will catch an enemy off guard. If the enemy things that they are safe behind cover simply cast 'Bullets and Blades', sure you will take a penalty but it is better than taking a negative flip to hit. Have a real tough enemy in your melee? Cast 'Blades and Bullets' twice and watch how most minions and possibly a few masters will turn to paste.

When it comes to playing Guild I have found that it is okay to not play all one force or theme, I believe some players get so caught up in playing Guild just one way all Ortegas, Sonnia with just Witchlings, etc that they fail to see other potential combinations. As a Guild player I find that I have much greater freedom in picking a crew than other factions might have (Hoffman/Lucius are the exception). That is not to say that there aren't a few "auto includes" in a list but don't take it for granted that Guild has many resources at its fingertips it reflects on how you CAN pick your crew.