Mark(us) my words

Hi folks,

I know what you’re thinking – “Last post was a fantastic change of pace (or rather, “height”) but it wasn’t very beastly”. Well never fear, because this post is THE Marcus post!

I figured it makes sense to go through in a bit of detail, what models do, and how I use them. This kind of post might well get adapted to be an entry in the Pull My Finger wiki as well at some stage, but to get it in it’s full shambolic form, you’ll have to look here.

OK, OK, I’ll come clean. This is just a shameless copy of Joel and MythicFox‘s current run of blog posts… but hey, imitation is the highest form of flattery, so they can consider themselves flattered (what a weird word).

Anyway, on with the show.

Disclaimer: In writing this post, I found tons of new ways to use abilities, and indeed Marcus as a whole. There’re so many possibilities it’s ridiculous. Anyway, to try to prevent tangents, I’ll focus on how I’ve been using various abilities so far, but expect updates as I try new stuff (when writing this disclaimer, I’m actually writing the “Defend me” paragraph… there’re lots of nasty tricks I want to try out based on that ability alone!)

A bit of background to the big man: he used to be a professor (of biology I think/suspect), started doing some questionable experiments, got kicked out, continued his experiments, made a 3 headed cat and an invincible rabbit, became the king of the swingers (the jungle VIP), is now very old (older than Ramos) but beats up the youth of today with a walking stick. What’s not to like?

When you first look at Marcus, it’s easy to be underwhelmed. The only clue in his statline which suggests he’s a master, rather than an average-good minion is his wounds. His melee attack which is his only way to put out damage is fairly poor. His Ml is pretty decent, but the damage is on par with a Moleman. Hmmm, an ominous start. Let’s take a look at his passive abilities then.

Abilities

He has unimpeded (ignores severe terrain), which is nice. It seems to be a common feature for many beasts, helping him to out manouver the enemy in tight corners. He’s also got accomplice (another friendly model activates immediately after him) which can lead to some “alpha strike” tricks (ie get Marcus and a hard hitter to pound someone into the dirt without them being able to retaliate in between). It’s his other two abilities which are really interesting though.

The first is a defensive trigger (imaginatively named “defend me”), which means that when Marcus is hit, he can just shift the effects of the attack onto a beast within 3″ (which doesn’t have to be a friendly beast… but we’ll ignore that for the time being). An exceptionally useful trigger, this has seen my Marcus survive many situations he shouldn’t have. A recent game saw Marcus in melee with Mei who had taken assassinate. In the final turn, Mei unleashed her full fury on Marcus, and defend me allowed me to distribute the hits in such a way that a jackalope died, Cojo died (and I forgot to bring back the rabbit), and Marcus survived on 1 wound (even after burning damage!). Basically, if the opponent wants to kill off Marcus, they’ll have to put in some effort (or devious methods to avoid targeting his defense stat) to get rid of him.

Finally is the main thing which makes a Marcus crew a Marcus crew. “Call of the wild” allows Marcus to hire beasts regardless of their faction. This opens up a wide variety of options, with more coming in each new book. At the moment this nearly doubles the number of minions available to Marcus compared with the other Arcanists, and there’s a lot more to come (I’m particularly excited about night terrors, and the blessed of December). My favourite use of this (at the moment) is hiring waldgeists, which give a great resilient twist to Marcus’ otherwise fragile crew… but that’s for another post.


Attack actions

Flipping over Marcus’ card, he has 4 attack actions, which can all be extremely useful. They really embody Marcus’ Swiss army knife analogy.

First is his attack. Good Ml, average damage (don’t worry, we’ll get to “how to get Marcus beating people into the ground” later). The trigger is one which is easy to overlook, it turns the enemy into a beast for the rest of the turn. Why’s that useful? Well Marcus likes beasts, he has a lot of abilities which need a model to have the beast characteristic, and if you can turn an enemy into a beast, they are likely to get some strange treatment. As a simple example, if the enemy model gains the beast characteristic, and another enemy attacks Marcus, he can use defend me to put that damage on the newly beastified model instead… which is nice.

The second tactical action is Alpha. This 2AP action allows you to immediately activate a target beast. “How’s that different to companion/accomplice?” I hear you ask. Well the alpha activation doesn’t count as the model’s activation for the turn. It is basically a method of shipping AP around to where you need it. If you need a Cerberus to be killing, you can activate that, if you need Myranda to be healing, you can activate her (and of course they would get their normal activation too). That’s fairly straight forward right (and indeed that’s generally what I use alpha for)? Why don’t we add in the trigger on Marcus’ attack then? You hit an enemy model (any enemy model, even a master!) and turn them into a beast. Now you can target them with alpha and activate them under your control (though they still get to activate themselves too). That’s handy. I use Alpha an awful lot during games, and one post soon will be about AP use, so expect many more mentions of alpha then.

Next is Marcus’ only (0) action (if we ignore upgrades), “Darzee’s chaunt” which gives a beast positive flips to attack and damage, and double negative flips to defend. Again, this can be very useful cast on friendly or enemy beasts, but be very careful. If cast on an enemy before they activate, they could do some real damage if you don’t take them down. Similarly, it can make friendly beasts hit like a freight train (ever seen a Cerberus on double positive flips to attack and damage?… giggle giggle), but if you leave them vulnerable to counter attack, those squishy beasts will fall faster than a pensioner in a sack-race.

We get to the final tactical action, and let’s just face the facts – it’s called “The law of meat”. Stopped laughing yet? Then I’ll begin… many years ago, the nice folks at Wyrd designed models which were good in melee. Marcus didn’t like this (only his beasts should be good in melee, right?) so he made the law of meat, which essentially let’s him switch them off. Law of meat means a model can’t perform charges, and if they are in melee they can ONLY perform walk actions until the end of the turn. This spell is so good, my brain has temporarily switched off. It’s good for shutting down melee hitters, and switching off supporting casters. If the target is in melee, they get no (0) actions, no tactical actions, no attack actions. They can just walk. Have I made that point clear? Oh, and it only needs a 3 of masks to cast (though obviously you still need to beat your opponent’s Wp flip).

So that’s base Marcus. With no upgrades I’d call him a “support caster”… but of course he can have 3 upgrades, and so far I like all of them. This is where you can really make Marcus the tool you want/need. Unfortunately I’ve been rambling for ages, so I’ll cut it short by only commenting on 2 upgrades I seem to use a lot.

The first is arcane reservoir. This gives you an extra card in your hand, which gives you more control of the duels, which gives you more control of the game, which gives you more success, which is good. It’s expensive though, and is competing with a lot of good upgrades, so I may swap it for something else. The problem which Marcus faces is a total lack of suits. I didn’t mention earlier, but pretty much everything Marcus does needs a tome or a mask. That’s where virtually all of my soulstones go, but an extra card in your hand gives you a better chance of getting those suits you need.

The second upgrade is one of Marcus’ limited ones. I have some cheeky plans for using the god’s domain (which makes Marcus into a very effective tank) in some strategies, but at the moment, I’m addicted to the trail of the gods. This gives Marcus either +3wk, +2dg, or +1AP for melee attacks. This is where Marcus becomes a major beatstick. He goes from very mediocre damage, to very good damage. Then if you discard a tome, you can choose 2 options… how about plus 1AP and +2dg? There’s not much which will stay standing after Marcus screams “unleash the fury!” (Road trip reference). So it makes Marcus into a very efficient beatstick, but you also get the option for +3wk, which turns him from ambling around, into a speedboat (with unimpeded meaning he can generally get where he needs to be in 1 activation). Now he’s your super fast objective grabber. Often I’ll have Marcus +3Wk in the first turn to get into position, then +2dg in the second and third to get rid of some of those pesky enemy models, then +3wk in the last turn or two to put out scheme markers. Very effective.

So here ends the beginning of our look at my crew. As I said near the start, there’s so much that Marcus can do, I’ll keep updating the blog when I try new stuff. I couldn’t possibly have fitted it all in one blog post. I have probably missed your personal favourite Marcus tricks, so why not suggest new stuff/stuff which you’ve tried in the comments below?

Until next time

Dave/sssk

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