Nellie Cochrane – Bringing Truthiness to Malifaux
by Martin Beamish ·
Extra, extra! Read all about it! The Guild’s newest ink slinger has hit the streets and is ready to report the truth and bring justice to Malifaux with all the integrity the Guild can provide. This article will go through all of the ins and outs of Ms. Nellie Cochrane, her Guild compatriots and the Mercenary friends she makes with all that sweet Guild scrip. Think of this article as a thorough look over all of Nellie’s options, which are plentiful, and some solid ideas on how to use her best. She is fresh enough that I could not say this is the COMPLETE AND TOTAL GUIDE TO EVERYTHING ALWAYS™ but it is a solid groundwork in which to break into one of my favorite masters.
If you would like to listen to a most excellent podcast and hear Travis Weyforth pontificate mightily about Nellie, head on over and download episodes of the MAX VALUE podcast. Then question why you hate reading and come back to this article.
Click here to be directed to Nellie’s card thanks to Wyrd Games.
Front of Card
Nellie has solid stats with an OK wound count and average Walk. We will get to her Tome on Df later when we talk about upgrades so keep that in mind. She has her own special Condition called Evidence which she accumulates and uses in various ways. Nellie has no Charge stat and also no Claw Attack actions, these absences are important to keep in mind but not any kind of serious detriment. After all she is a Journalist, not a fighter.
Let’s dig in.
In Plain Sight and Creative Reporting are both ways to gather Evidence, the former when an enemy model performs an Interact action to place a Scheme Marker and the latter when she activates after discarding a card. In Plain Sight will come up less often but it is always nice to keep in mind to avoid an unnecessary discard, but, to be honest, you’ll probably discard anyway because more Evidence is always better. When the Evidence Condition flies away at the end of the turn, you may place a friendly Scheme Marker in base contact with Nellie. Since Conditions are handled in the Upkeep Step before scoring this can be pretty handy for a lot of schemes. However, you’ll often be using it for her native zero action (detailed below).
Revisionist History is the ability that makes opponents sad when they first read her card. Any Damage flip made against Nellie can not be cheated, and Nellie can in turn cheat the damage flip instead ignoring any negatives or other modifiers. This means that when your opponent’s Nekima flips the Red Joker on damage against Nellie, Nellie instead cheats in the Black Joker, nullifying the attack. This ability is truly fantastic and very discouraging for your opponent to attempt attacks on her. Be very mindful of high minimum damage models like your Nekimas or your Howard Langston’s—cheating to min when the min damage is 4 still hurts and Nellie will probably die regardless, unless…
“Run From The Truth!” is Nellie’s real defensive technique. When a model (ANY model) fails an Attack action within a 8″ aura, Nellie can drop her Evidence by 1 to push that model 4″ after the action resolves—so after triggers and other shenanigans. This means that so long as you can beat their first attack and waste their charge or Flurry then you can turn a failed swing into extra movement for your crew, or a repulsor shield to keep the nasty beaters away from Nellie. Because of Revisionist History your opponent will probably not cheat much higher above a negative flip because you can drop their damage down anyway. Use that as an opportunity to beat that duel and get out of dodge. Dodge, in this case, being a giant robot spider terminator man.
Back of Card
Scathing Review is your offensive Evidence generator with an excellent Ca7 and with a built-in Ram which has that same trigger to add an Evidence to your growing pile. Like all of Nellie’s Attack actions, this will target an opponent’s Wp, a rarity in Guild. The enemy model gets the condition, Humiliation, which stays on until the end of the game or until they take an Interact action to drop a scheme marker. Remember the In Plain Sight ability? Yay, combos! If the stubborn enemy model decides not to do this Interact, they will take 2 damage every time they activate. This attack is best used against an enemy model that isn’t in the best spot for that particular scheme pool. For example, You wouldn’t want to target a Ten Thunders Brother near the center line and encourage your opponent to score Claim Jump. Also take note that the Evidence Nellie gets from that interact action would accumulate after she has activated. This can be great if you’ve used all your Evidence on her activation or for activations, giving you that free scheme marker at the end of the turn. Or your opponent will be mean and take the damage, denying you your free marker, so plan accordingly.
Propaganda is by and large Nellie’s most used and useful attack. With a slightly lower but still good Ca6 and a Ram this attack will do 1/3/4 damage to the defending model. Yay. If you forget this damage track exists you would be forgiven because of the paragraph of triggers below it. This attack boils down to it’s triggers and the unique way Nellie uses her single in-built Ram. Basically, you can chose between 1 of 3 triggers (all Rams) to do for free, and lower your Evidence to add another trigger per Evidence lowered. Guilt pushes the model 5″, Angry Mob allows another friendly model within 2″ to take a free Claw attack action against the target, and Shock gives the model Slow. You can resolve these triggers in any order, so by lowering your Evidence by 1 you can declare both Angry Mob and Guilt, but push the model 5″ towards Phiona Gage first and then have her smack it down from Angry Mob.
This attack is a huge component in Nellie’s game plan, synergy, and an immense shake-up for the Guild as a whole. It puts Nellie firmly into the Control section of the Malifaux Master spectrum, allowing you to position and displace models while taking away their AP. One of the most powerful things you can do is to push a model out of a scoring section (Interference, Guard the Stash, etc) and make it Slow which is effectively Paralyzing the model for a turn if it can’t score your opponent points. I’ll get into the synergy with Phiona Gage more in depth later but any beater, of which there are many, also loves Angry Mob for the extra attack and pushing of faster enemy models. Think of the slower-than-average Executioner (sans errata upgrade) trying to catch up to a Terror Tot—Nellie happily assists the big boys into their murder frenzy by bringing the little demon baby in for a closer look.
Propaganda is also Nellie’s only action that can push friendly models. You will still have to take damage, but after relenting it should only be 1 anyway. Even if your deck is crazy hot and you flip three 13s, when you target something like the Peacekeeper to help him along, that’s still only 2 damage overall, which can be healed by Delegation directly afterwards. Not the most amazing or friendly push around coughcoughTENTHUNDERScoughcough but it is something to keep in mind when you need that extra movement.
“Hot Off The Presses!” is our final attack action with the same Ca6Ram as Propaganda but with a slightly lowered range. You place the target model in base contact with a friendly Scheme Marker within 8″ and then discard that marker. The target model then gains Burning +3. This is a fantastic positioning tool akin to Yan Lo’s Lightning Dance but at the cost of a friendly Scheme Marker. Often when you need this to happen it will be worth it to get a model (friendly or enemy) placed that far, and a 8″ place is very far indeed. I probably use this attack the least out of the three but when it’s needed it can win you games. A fancy trick is to use the markers dropped through the Transparency upgrade to get an enemy model in harm’s way. Harm’s way, in this case, being a giant pickaxe to the face, and they’re on fire.
Nellie’s only native Tactical Action is a zero action called Lead which lets Nellie discard a Scheme Marker in base contact to push up to 6″. So, at the end of the turn when Evidence goes away you get a free ‘Lead marker’ to use to position Nellie about without needing any real AP. Excellent stuff. A fun tip for early game time is to use a cheap model, like a Field Reporter or Watcher, to place a scheme marker in base contact with Nellie before she goes so she can get into position early for all the article writing and slander she has to dish out. This can also be useful to eat enemy markers if you come into base contact with one.
Misleading Headlines is the first of two auto-take upgrades exclusive to Nellie. This upgrade gives her the ability Misinformation, which in layman’s terms, allows you to ‘pass’ your activation by discarding a card or lowering your Evidence by 1. This becomes huge against a lot of crews that out-activate the Guild regularly and rely on activation control to complete their game plan. Suddenly, you can wait for an entire turn (bad control hand willing) before activating everything with the knowledge of where exactly the opponent is and will be going. This can be a double-edged sword if your control hand is fantastic because you won’t want to discard high cards. In that case it would be best to activate, say the Printing Press, and maybe Nellie first and gather up some Evidence and use that to pass activations instead. This also gives Nellie a second zero action, Incite, which gives out the Mood Swing condition to enemy models just like Pandora/Candy/Iggy do. Excellent for more activation control but you will need to use it on the right model to get the most out of it—preferably something non-threatening that is trying to run schemes. Then squish it!
Delegation is the next auto-include upgrade and gives Nellie a second Tactical Action, “Assignments, People!” which hands out Fast to your models. It has an in-built Ram again and needs a 6 to go off but is definitely worthwhile, especially with both triggers. The first of which allows Nellie to lower her Evidence to put a Scheme Marker in base contact with the target, and the second allows her to drop her Evidence to heal 2 damage on the target. Both are excellent selections for various situations that help out your crew while also spreading Nellie’s AP around like candy. This upgrade is all about ramping up your crew’s efficiency, and the bigger the model the more worthwhile. Giving a Peacekeeper or Aionus Fast is much more worthwhile than a Guild Guard, for example, but always do whatever it takes to score you that VP.
Guild Funds adds a plethora of abilities to Nellie. The first gives you extra bonuses for having a lot of Evidence on Nellie at the end of the turn; healing models, giving models Hard to Kill, or adding Soulstones to your pool. Evidence gathering is not hard to do but Nellie will also want to be using this for other things so the competition for it is high. If you’ve found you have more Evidence than you can shake a stick at then these are great boons to have, but I find myself using them more for activation passes and for Propaganda. We will walk through a neat trick with the Watcher later on and how to get two extra Soulstones on turn 1.
Guild Funds also gives you a use for that Tome on Nellie’s Df. This gives the Df/WP trigger On the Record (Tomes) which adds an Evidence after you fail one of these duels. A nice bump when you can’t beat your opponent’s flips, but don’t rely too much on this or Nellie will just die. “You can’t take it with you, kid.”
The last ability on Guild Funds is the Journalistic Spin which allows Nellie to have counted as killing an enemy model within 8″ that was killed by conditions. For Collect the Bounty, for example, she can claim an enemy model that was placed with Hot Off the Presses and died from its Burning. This is situationally useful and good to keep in consideration but will rarely come up for your games.
Embedded will alter Nellie’s crew hiring immensely. It allows her to hire 4 Mercenaries at their base cost (no merc tax) which are not Resurrectionist or Neverborn. In addition to this it gives two triggers to “Hot Off the Presses!”, the first trigger, Hide in Shadow (Mask) moves Nellie after succeeding and the second, Slow News Day (Ram Ram) to not give Burning to the target. Both are great in making Hot Off the Presses more versatile. Now placing your flurrying Francisco into the enemy crew has no downside. We will get into the Mercenaries Nellie loves later in the article.
Transparency is the only Journalist exclusive upgrade currently whose recipients include Nellie, Phiona Gage, and Allison Dade. This upgrade gives a trigger in an 8″ aura to all friendly Journalists’ attack actions. On a Tome and after succeeding, place a friendly scheme marker in base contact with the target. This upgrade is generally best on Phiona Gage because she has an in-built Tome on her Pickaxe, but more on her later.
The Printing Press
This little guy is one of the best totems Guild has access to and will always accompany Nellie into a game. Armor +2 and Arcane Reservoir already make up more than what he’s worth in soulstones. Nellie loves her cards and he gets you more, enough said. His (0) Tactical action, Thorough Investigation gives Nellie Evidence and can let her chain activate, but that’s only used if needed. His only attack action gives auto-Slow, and does damage if the target has Slow already. Combined with his fast Walk and decent Charge range, this guy will hang back keeping Nellie stocked up with evidence before darting around and disrupting the enemy scheme runners or beaters by dishing out some Slow. FLUFF SPOILERS AHEAD STOP READING NOW IF YOU HAVEN’T READ Ripples of Fate – the Soulstone that powers the Printing Press has Nellie’s father’s soul inside of it, so that’s super cute. Think of him as R2D2 if he was your robot dad and also printed newspapers.
…You can start reading again.
Your Control Hand
There is no bad card in a Nellie hand. Low cards are for activations, cheating enemy damage flips, or for the various discard effects Guild models have. Keeping a couple 6’s in hand for Nellie to hand out Fast can be worthwhile, and you can still discard them later if you top deck that flip, which is more than likely going to happen anyway. Still, having that insurance ready just in case can save your turn from collapsing. I still have nightmares about failing two Airbursts with Sensei Yu after flipping terribly. Never again.
One of the largest skill curves one must master in order to play Nellie effectively is to know which cards are needed and when (or how many). Nellie herself doesn’t need many suits (the only two not built-in come from the Embedded upgrade) and her in-theme henchwomen don’t have any suit requirements for their abilities, only options. It’s important to have a plan for who to save your 13 of Crows for and who should really get that 10 of Rams. Skipping your next activation with your last card isn’t great when you want to Flurry next, for instance. Hand management is key to a solid Nellie game.
Nellie’s cache of 4 Soulstones is plenty. Drawing more cards isn’t as necessary with Misleading Headlines so the most important stones will be used for damage prevention or Initiative if you desperately need it. The Guild Funds and A Debt to the Guild both give ways of getting Soulstones back into your pool and I’ve never found I needed more than the 4 provided. If you find your list is full up on upgrades and you have a stone left, no one can really complain, but Nellie is a rare master that doesn’t need a full cache to work at maximum efficiency.
You know how most Guild Henchmen can’t compare to Francisco? Welcome to your competition hombre. Phiona has solid stats all around with a great threat range and the ability to get to Df7 when in base contact with severe or impassable terrain, which she can create. “It’s Me You’re Fighting” is a pseudo-pounce that goes great with all the Wp duels Nellie and the Field Reporters dish out. The perfect move is to target a model within 2″ of Phiona with Propaganda, trigger Angry Mob, and get two extra attacks out of Phiona—that’s Guild bliss.
Phiona’s Modified Pick Axe has beater written all over it, with an in-built positive if the target model has already activated that turn (skip those activations/Incite!). This attack has a trigger on Crows called Head Trauma which gives negative flips against Wp duels until the end of the turn, and a trigger on Rams called Wide Swing that lets her take another swing against a different enemy model. Note that this trigger can only be declared during Phiona’s activation and, like most concurrent triggers, that second swing cannot declare triggers itself. Phiona is a solid beater in her own right but combine her offense with Nellie’s enabling and you have a match made in Malifaux.
Phiona’s Tactical actions are Command in Stone and “Look Out!”. Command in Stone can only be used once per turn and places a 50mm Stone marker in base contact with her. It’s a giant magic rock, see? I like to use this in the first turn after Phiona gets some Fast to help block off a chokepoint and protect the rest of the crew in the process. The giant rock will also give Phiona that magical Df7 since it is Impassable, as well as Hard Cover. “Look Out!” is similar to the tactical action “Enfrantate a Mi!” from Francisco; it works basically the same except Phiona has to be engaged first and she gets to take a (1) Action afterwards, but it also needs a 5 to go off. Not terrible in the right situation, but most times you’re better off just charging in.
Wrath of the Guild is Phiona’s personal upgrade that gives her a positive to damage flips against models that have already activated that turn. Excellent with her native positive to attack flips under the same circumstances. If you need something dead then this upgrade and a Debt to the Guild means whatever is in Phiona’s way won’t be for long.
Transparency I mentioned earlier and it is definitely best used on Phiona with her in-built Tome on her Pick Axe attack. Schemes like Dig Their Graves (remember you kill the model first, then drop the marker, so be careful here as that newly dropped marker will not count towards the scheme. You’ll have to have a marker on the board prior to attacking and killing the model ) and Set Up become super easy with Phiona around smashing face. Don’t forget that she gives the Tome trigger out in an Aura so you should remember it for Nellie, Allison Dade, and the Field Reporters’ attacks too.
Phiona is the one model after the Printing Press that I would always take with Nellie. They synergies immensely with each other and compliment each other very well. For upgrades I would almost always take Transparency unless the scheme pool had nothing but killing involved, but that is extremely rare in GG2017. My usual set up would be Transparency and Debt to the Guild for more damage and cards, but if schemes like Accusation or Tail’em are in the pool then Numb to the World would be best to help deny those. Phiona can be a liability with Frame for Murder in most pools this year, which brings us to our second Journalist…
Allison Dade is to Nellie like Queeg is to Lucius, a Henchman version of what the Master brings to the table. Allison has solid stats and costs the same as Phiona but brings even more control to a Nellie crew versus the ferocity of her one-eyed colleague. She has two abilities, Muckraker and Yellow Journalism, that either deal a damage to enemy models within 4″ that declare attacks when she hasn’t activated yet, or heals friendly models for one after they succeed with attack actions within 4″ of her, after she’s activated, respectively. Combine this with Manipulative 12 and you have a model that plays well into Nellie’s activation delaying game to punish enemies for attack and assisting friendly models once she’s done her dirty work. Her last ability, “The Plot is Afoot!” gives Allison Fast after the opponent scores VP from a Scheme. It isn’t ideal, but a ‘free’ Fast isn’t to be sniffed at.
“One More Question!” is strikingly similar to Nellie’s Propaganda attack and it’s a beefed up version of the Field Reporter’s Exclusive Interview. This attack gives out Slow and deals damage only when friendly Guardsmen are within 6″ of the target so she will synergize well with any of them, but like Nellie’s damage on Propaganda it’s just icing on a delicious interviewing cake. Her baked in Ram forces the opponent to discard a friendly Scheme Marker anywhere in play or take 2 damage. So she’s either denying schemes or possibly doing minimum 3 damage, very solid. This attack has triggers for every suit which, similar to the Field Reporter’s, will be nice to have the option but you should only use this attack for that built-in Ram. If another trigger pops up or you can use a specific one to score VP, do it, but you won’t know for sure unless you have that suit in hand or stone for it yourself. The main problem with two of these triggers, including the in-built Ram, is that the opponent will always choose the lesser of two evils. Giving your opponent options isn’t ideal, but forcing hard choices into their game plan can really shake them up.
Allison also has a (0) attack action called simply, Investigation, which works very similar to the Fees condition that Guild Lawyers and Lucius deal out. Pretty solid for a (0) with no downsides, and it lasts for the entire game. Don’t forget it.
Uncovering the Truth is Allison’s only Tactical action. It allows the opponent to show you their control hand or, if they don’t, forces them to discard a targeted scheme marker. This will work best when the opponent has no cards in hand (and if you’re activating everything late, that will help) to get rid of that pesky marker. This action is fairly situational and again offers the opponent on a choice of which action will harm them less. If they don’t need that marker, whoop there it goes. If they don’t care about showing you their hand, they will. You can use that information to your advantage if you have an idyllic memory but if they have a fantastic hand there won’t be much you can do about it anyways. Except make them discard more cards first, but you should be doing that before this action anyways.
Overall Allison is a solid control and scheme denial piece that needs some backup so she doesn’t get killed right away. She has no upgrades that she needs so can go without, or carry Numb if you’re worried about conditions or condition-based schemes. She’s definitely a solid replacement for Phiona when FFM is in the pool and you can use her abilities to mess up your opponent’s plans. She has a bit more to offer not-Nellie crews with her control and scheme manipulation, but the synergy is still there.
Say hello to the Guild’s newest scheme runner. Above average stats for their cost with Unimpeded, Disguised, and Manipulative 12, they’re already a bargain. Their Exclusive Interview attack action can only target enemy models and has four triggers which one MUST be declared, and a built-in Mask that pushes an enemy model 5″ away. Just like Allison Dade, all of the triggers are useful but unless you have a specific need, expect the push as your go-to for denying enemy movement. Corroborating Evidence steals an enemy Scheme Marker and makes it your own, which is stellar. It has a large TN but if it denies them a VP and gets you one in return, it is always worth it. They also have Reference the Field Guide as a (0) just like Freikorpsmen to guarantee a specific suite while using a low card, but you generally won’t be using this unless you absolutely need a trigger.
These ladies are superstars and I have taken 1 in every list I’ve made, outside of Hoffman, since getting them. They do excellent work at denying enemy scheme runner and hiding with their Disguised and Manipulative goodness. Be wary of shooters because they WILL get blown off the table if you’re not careful.
Guild Good Stuff
The Peacekeeper is a walking tank and a nightmare for anything made of soft fleshy bits. It’s only weakness is being on the slower end of things, but give it Fast and a push or two from Propaganda and watch it tear apart enemy crews. The go-to Enforcer beater for Guild, Nellie can feed this behemoth enemy models at will. Hold territory and kill, it’s the Guild way.
Franc is great. There are several reasons why he is a staple in many crews from Lady Justice to McMourning. Nellie doesn’t require his services like those melee fighting Masters often do, but in a Guild-centric crew he is one of my first picks to beat some faces. Unfortunately GG2017 hates killy Guild Henchmen with FFM, Tail’em, etc, but if you need a solid model for 9-10 stones he’s your huckleberry. You put Wade In on him. That isn’t a statement but a fact.
With their recent Errata Upgrade giving them a single use Walk+Charge (or Charge+extra attack) these big boys have really opened up. It starts getting crazy when Nellie starts giving them Fast and heals like candy, not to mention extra free attacks from Propaganda. They’re excellent flankers that will annihilate enemy scheme runners and can really put a damper on Gremlins or Collete with their anti-Df trigger shenanigans. Definitely a consideration if you want a cheaper, but more fragile beater compared to the Peacekeeper.
Solid even after the recent errata nerfing, these falconers still have an excellent role to fulfill in Guild. Nellie doesn’t need to bring them all the time but when you have an interact heavy pool or strats like Headhunter these bad boys are worth their weight in gold.
The Watcher trick. These mechanical bats have the attack action Sky-Eye with zero damage on minimum. Attack Nellie early in the game with this and rack up the Evidence thanks to Guild Funds. You’ll need Evidence +4 to get two extra Soulstones so that’s two successful hits from a Watcher, one from the Printing Presses’ (0) and one from discarding a card when Nellie activates. Bam, instant profit. Note that you can NOT relent the duel with the Watcher as the defender of a relenting attack duel cannot declare Defensive triggers.
Aside from that trick these models were the go-to scheme runner for Guild until Field Reporters were released. Armor, Stubborn, with a Walk6 and Flight made them fast and tough for their cost. Taking one is still a solid pick, especially if you want those scrumptious stones.
The Guild’s newest Big Beef Boy™ these badasses are currently not released at the time this article was written but I’m one lucky SOB that ordered them last Black Friday, and they are amazing. 12 Wounds with Impossible to Wound, auto-pass Horror duels and get extra attacks when scheme markers are placed near them? And min3 damage with a solid ranged Ca attack and extra movement besides?! I’m in heaven. Arguably best when paired with Lucius but lugging two of these things around, giving them Fast and extra attacks ON TOP OF the extra attacks from Propaganda mean these unfortunate souls are monsters with Nellie. GG2017 favors Minions overall and these boys deliver.
I fully expect the Guild to have a resurgence when they are finally released, just be careful you don’t lose any friends afterward.
WAVE 5 SHENANIGANS (5/10/17 Playtesting rules)
With the very recent release of the Wave 5 models available for Public Playtest, it’s time to speculate on the new shiny. Please note: the rules for these models are NOT final and things may change when they are officially released. This section will be updated and corrected while egg gets thrown at my face after I write it. I wont get into too much detail for that reason, until after things become official. Head over to the Wyrd forums to find all of the current cards and community feedback.
Mentioned back in first edition and promptly forgotten about, the Jury makes a return to the Malifaux world. Implications and assumptions being that Jury is a person instead of a group of peers seems very Guild-like overall. Jury brings a competitive niche to the Guild Henchman slot that will definitely be seeing a lot of play with and without Nellie.
A very solid anti-scheming model, these Guardsmen should see plenty of play upon release. Apart from Disguised these guys are fairly fragile but should work well with Allison Dade and Guild Sergeants to get in the way and become a nuisance.
A new Witch Hunter buff and de-buffer, the Queller may find itself built into a few niche situations. Turning off all suits on any actions can be amazing against the right target and having non-reducible damage is stellar. With no direction synergy with Nellie, but moreso her beaters, we’ll have to get some practice in with these.
Duel-Pistol wielding Family members with Stalk and solid anti-charge tech these chaps (or chapettes) should be very nice scheme runner hunters/interceptors, operating independently on their own.
Andador De Cadaveres
The new Governor General is definitely shaking things up by bringing literal Necromancers on the payroll. These models currently allow Guild to hire Undead Minion models costing 6 or less as Mercs. This means Belles, Necropunks, Dead Doxies, etc. Expensive but worthwhile by far, this can open up a lot of options that the Guild currently lacks. Playtesting needed for sure.
An Anti-Gremlin piece if there ever was one. This stompy bot can dish out blasts and Insignificant while also denying additional enemy AP (such as Fast or Reckless). Slower than average, these bad boys will want to focus where you know the enemy will be concentrated. Definitely a boon for the Hoff, I can totally see hiring one or two of these in the right pool.
Guild Honorable Mentions
Onto the Guild models that deserve some discussion but might not be your first choices.
Ryle/Judge/Dr. Grimwell/Pale Rider
Nellie can make any expensive model deliver more by increasing their AP and giving them extra attacks. The Guild have access to more beat’em’up models than any other faction, especially our henchmen. A lot of the time it comes down to personal preference. Phiona, Francisco, and the Judge make an excellent henchman kill team for Extraction. Ryle and a Peacekeeper work well together as they do with Hoffman. Making Dr. Grimwell Fast means his Lobotomy just leapt up in its threat range. That’s just a few examples.
Mounted Guard/Wardens (Allison Dade)
While not necessary for Nellie, Guardsmen models work well with Allison Dade for that extra damage output. I can see her working well with McCabe and all of his Guardsmen puppies running around, or alongside Dashel and his Warden cronies to hold down a flank. Allison, a Mounted Guard, and an Executioner make for a terrifying flanking force that can really hold their own.
Oh, Sam… Arguably one of the worst models in the game for his cost, Sam has insane damage output when models have Burning on them. Guess what can do that while placing models in his threat range? Nellie’s Hot off the Presses. This is more of a fun gimmick than a strategy, but the possibilities are there to eliminate a huge enemy threat on turn 1. Just watch that Nekima be the FFM target and give up points immediately…at least you’ll make some back when Sam dies soon afterward.
Mercenary Good Stuff
With the Embedded upgrade Nellie can hire four Mercenaries at their base cost. Let’s take a gander at some solid options.
The Time Lord himself, Aionus brings scheme and other marker shenanigans, relatively easy access to more gifts of Fast and Slow and even another Bury attack with those bony fingers. His Bony Fingers attack also ignores armor and is a Ca attack to boot. Aionus won’t be brought solely for his offense however, as his abilities to move various non-Strategy markers around and hand out Slow easily can be game winners. He’s expensive but brings a lot of control and support that can be unfamiliar to a Guild crew.
The Strongarm fills a similar role to the Peacekeeper in an Embedded list, that being a tank who punches things to death. Although the Strongarm deals slightly less damage than a Peacekeeper they are faster with slightly better stats, can’t be bogged down in melee, and have a better ranged attack. He’s definitely a consideration in Interference or any strategy where you need to hold quarters. As usual be mindful of those little armor-ignoring enemies that will ruin their day.
Ignoring cover is so good. I can’t emphasis enough how taking away a model’s primary defense against shooting hurts so much, and with a Fast McTavish shooting three times he can wipe models out from a very safe 14″ away. His (0) action Gator Snack is fantastic in GG2017 for scheme denial, and the occasional Summing denial by eating Corpse or Scrap markers, while also giving him four very useful triggers after discarding that marker. Overall an excellent choice in almost every situation.
The Freikorps’ Chief Librarian makes the cut into the good stuff for Arcane Reservoir, Counterspell, and the Make a New Entry actions. She’s very dependent on what other models you are taking in the crew but one notable Ca to copy is Phiona’s Command Stone tactical action. You can create a Hannah Wall with that extra stone or block a larger area with Hannah and Phiona both doing so. It can get somewhat card intensive (everything needing 6’s) but surprising your opponent by blocking off all LoS to your crew can be worthwhile. I would definitely only take her in specific pools when you don’t need to move up too far, but a second Arcane Reservoir is a mighty advantage on its own.
Sue brings a lot of utility while also having a min3 gun with a positive flip to attack (goodbye cover). Hurt gives extra cards which Nellie loves and can show her appreciation by healing him back up after giving him Fast. His (0) actions are both good and useful in almost every game. Relentless is a rare option in Guild so having that in your pocket is excellent. The Man in Black is a great generalist model that will always perform well, just don’t laugh when you hear his name.
Burt Jebsen (and Gracie)
Burt is one of those rare models that can get 4AP after a Reckless and Fast from Nellie, and either rocket up the board or do 3/4/5 damage with his Lucky Knife. An excellent, and obvious, FFM sucker, Burt can also travel alongside your true FFM target and slide the damage onto them with Slippery and score you points even easier. His gun is fine but somewhat lacking with that Sh5, you’ll more often than not just be stabbing enemies. Burt is a super solid model for 7 stones, and can be turned to 11 with a little help from Nellie. Add Gracie into the mix with all of her synergy with Burt and these two will annihilate anything close by with all the extra attacks from each other, and Nellie’s Propaganda. Expensive, but worthwhile if Gracie takes your Peacekeeper/Strongarm spot as the tank and a damage dealer.
Arguably the most cost-effective model in the game even AFTER paying for Merc tax, Nellie can bring her for even cheaper or slap Debt on her to get a min4 Relic Hammer Flurry turn. I don’t find it necessary to keep spouting how good she is, she’s in almost every Embedded list I take. Being on the slower side is fine, I usually have her protecting a Performer or Field Reporter to make sure they aren’t interrupted during their scheme running.
Armor ignore is a rarity in Guild, and is an overall faction weakness. Our biggest threat to ignore Armor is Perdita who is automatically neutered by Mei Fang. When you expect a lot of armor shenanigans, three of these ladies with Nellie becomes an unexpected and immense threat. Fast Ronin that can walk up and flurry on big armored targets will eliminate those threats quickly. Their average Ml5 is often offset by their primary targets being Df4-5 (think Rail Golem or Howard) and once they’ve done their job they can Seppuku to give you two precious stones or cards back.
The Showgirls of Star Theatre aren’t above getting paid by the Guild for their expertise in scheme running. Don’t Mind Me is amazing for multiple schemes and strats in GG2017 and Manipulative 13 is huge with a crew that can delay their activations so much. Siren Call is an excellent pseudo-Lure which I will often use early to pull Johanna up or another slow model, and keep the Performer a little further back and safe. Then they can run schemes while being protected by that Relic Hammer. Seduction is also excellent for denying schemes and giving out double negatives to Wp duels. For their base cost they are one of the best scheme runners in the game. The Guild normally shies away from hiring them outside of McMourning because their merc tax bumps their cost up a bit too much, competing with Field Reporters and Watchers. Nellie solves this issue.
Another Don’t Mind Me model (which is the best), Big Jake is so huge that he counts as two models for the purposes of the Strategy. The Guild has few resources to do Interference well and Big Jake is one of them. His biggest gimmick is to come back from the dead on turn 5 without gaining Slow and can Interact after being Summoned. He has a (0) tactical action to take two damage to look at the top two cards of your fate deck and put them back in any order. Since he will come back again anyway it’s a pretty handy thing to have in your pocket to set up your next activation or to set up Jake’s Tomahawk attack. For his points he fills an excellent role as an independent scheme runner for Nellie and should always be a consideration for Interference or Extraction.
MERCENARY WAVE 5 SHENANIGANS (5/10/17 Playtest)
Currently there are only three Merc models in Wave 5, let’s see if Nellie likes the look of these…
A Gremlin Merc who brings some card draw and a lot of card discard, this is your scheme and marker denial piece. Not cheap but not too expensive, I could see bringing one against Ressers to remove pesky Corpse Markers and could work well with the new Guild Investigator to deny ALL the schemes!
Another variation on scheme marker shenanigans, this guy can get you cards and additional scheme markers in spades. A little fragile but fairly mobile, the Prospector seems like a niche hire, but a fun one.
One more Merc to mess with Scheme Markers (there appears to be a theme with this new book), the Charm Warder also helps annoy Summoners and keep things even on the battlefield. Another pick to take against specific opponents, the jury (but not Jury) is still out on this one.
Merc Honorable Mentions
There are a ton of mercs out there. Some don’t always make the cut right away, but can become solid choices in niche builds.
While she may not be utilized through Embedded, Anna brings a lot to a crew for her cost+tax regardless. Her push and place denial can be key for a section of the board, say against Ten Thunders who love that, and her Ca attacks are excellent. Add in a little Summoning and Rush of Magic into the pool and you have an expensive, but useful tool in your arsenal. It should also be noted that Seishin are great little summons that can help keep Nellie healed as well as supply a little more activation control into the mix too.
The Undead Nephilim butcher plays a strong gimmicky game with several Ronin to pop out of. His strategy doesn’t change much when brought into Guild but giving him extra attacks and Slowing enemy models so they can’t retaliate, plus heals and Fast can make for a very mean clobbering for this big lug. Minimum 5 damage on that Cleaver with Debt is also a true treasure to behold. Just be careful not to miss play your positioning and get your own stuff charged! The aforementioned Ronin and Field Reporters will help a lot here. You could even shepherd him around with Reporters from the beginning of the game if you don’t expect a lot of shooting.
I love Bishop. Mostly because he can have 4AP from Nellie and then Paralyze two models with his Haymaker attack. Or double Flurry. That’s pretty cool too. He has solid stats but tends to die fairly easy, so he becomes an amazing sucker for FFM because if the opponent leaves him alone they’ll have a champion cage fighter mucking up all their plans. Bishop is a great take in the right pool but is a bit too expensive to always bring him along.
Ama No Zako
Ama is often a giant scheme runner and interceptor. All of her abilities need specific suits so she can become resource draining if you want to use her fun stuff, but she’s solid enough to hold down a flank on her own. She becomes a nightmare against Gremlins with their majority of Ht1 models and has a solid Obey-like action which helps her utility. Ml5 is her biggest downside, but hopefully she’ll be fighting stuff with the same Df or less and you won’t need to worry about it too much. She’s definitely a niche pick but can do the job you hire her for well.
The Crossroads 7
Having Nellie lead the Band is an interesting proposition but their own weaknesses still bleed over and become an amusing romp instead of a competitive crew. Jack Daw is still the best frontman for them, but if you just have to play with five members (4 mercs and Greed) it would be a fun game, at least. Envy and Lust are the best of the seven by far and are worth considering for their own merits.
Snipers have an interesting position in Malifaux. If the board is not set up properly they will dominate and blow the enemy crew off the field, but if there is enough terrain as there should be they then do just OK on their own. Without easy access to I Pay Better or Hans’ errata upgrade they lose some of their effectiveness by just having the one shot per turn after focusing, but adding one in with Nellie can assist an area of the board by keeping the enemy wanting to hug cover. Definitely a consideration, but in GG2017 hanging back and shooting generally does not score VP.
Examples in Practice
Now let’s take a look at some example lists and how they can operate together. Nellie is flexible enough to allow any crew to succeed with solid play, but her crew buffing and synergy is used best to make good models even better.
Guild Sample List
Nellie Cochrane – Misleading Headlines, Delegation, Guild Funds, 4 cache
Phiona Gage – Transparency, Debt to the Guild
Francisco Ortega – Wade In, Debt to the Guild
Peacekeeper – Numb to the World
This list will use Nellie to maximize your beaters’ efficiency while delaying activations to allow your scheme runners to get up and complete objectives. Nellie, the Printing Press, and Phiona should stick together with Franc and the Peacekeeper being flexible in their placements to protect your flanks or push through an area. This list will suffer with FFM in the pool so adjust accordingly.
Embedded Sample List
Nellie Cochrane, Embedded, Misleading Headlines, Delegation, 5 cache
Phiona Gage – Transparency, Numb to the World
Sue – Debt to the Guild
Burt Jebsen, Debt to the Guild
Johan, Debt to the Guild
This list will operate fairly similar to the Guild example but with a bit more flexibility in the crew’s application. The maximum amount of Debts give you some wiggle room for another Field Reporter or a Watcher but these will provide some extra punch and cards when you need them. Nellie can provide all the extra activations you may need, anyway. This crew will have different options and deny various opponent plans if they go heavy into Casting or really gun for schemes like Tail’em or FFM.
SLOW EVERYTHING List
Nellie Cochrane, Embedded, Misleading Headlines, Delegation, 5 cache
Aionus – Numb to the World
Allison Dade – Transparency
This list’s gimmick is to Slow as many enemies as possible with Nellie, Aionus and Allison while your other models run schemes. The Hunter and Field Reporters can also dish out the Slow if needed so there are even more options. This list follows the idea that if you have more general AP in your crew than the opponent you will win the game, probably. Being light on killing and focusing on schemes is a hard pill to swallow in Guild but it can prove to be unexpected and surprise opponents who were expecting a fight. The odd leftover stone can be used for another upgrade or just to help your two henchmen stay alive longer.
Strategy and Schemes
Nellie has so many options for crew selection that she can hire a crew to fit into almost any pool and excel. Guild’s weakness is Interference for a lack of solid summoning but at least the inclusion of Big Jake and activation control help mitigate these disadvantages. Nellie is an enabler for your crew and a thorn in the side of your opponent to help deny what they want to do. Control the flow of the game and come out with a win.
Overall Nellie has more options while taking Embedded instead of Guild Funds or any other upgrade. The Mercenaries of Malifaux are so varied in function and application that you can truly field a cavalcade of different models who all excel at their specific job.
What Nellie Hates
If you find yourself on opposite ends of the table as Nellie, just remember that she is weak to getting killed. Many people will read her card and decide she isn’t worthwhile to spend the resources on killing her. However, I can you tell you firsthand that if she is concentrated on, or smashed by a big beater early, she will go down. There is only so much Evidence, low cards in hand, and Soulstones to prevent damage with before she’s taken out. Nellie should be target priority #1. Without her the crew can still function, but they don’t function as well and you aren’t hampered by the bologna she dishes out.
One way to cancel out a lot of Nellie’s effectiveness is by bringing anything that gives negatives to Ca actions or strips suits from the duel totals. Suddenly she has to spend a lot more resources trying to do her normal actions, which are ALL Ca actions. Just be mindful that Interact+Walk+Interact can still score points so she should also be locked down if able. Anything that drains cards in hand will also help you control the Nellie shenanigans. Unlike most masters who don’t care about ditching the weak cards in hand, every card Nellie has is another activation or damage mitigation for herself. If she doesn’t have a hand all of her AP spent on attack actions are at the mercy of her deck.
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