So with the release of the second wave beta on the wyrd forums, there’s a huge pile of additional models to tinker with. Of course in the not too distant future, there will be an overview post of all the shiny new beasts that Marcus can use. However, today we have another guest post, this time by Ole Larsen (Gorbad13 on twitter) about that lovely young lady, Colette. She’s one of the Arcanists I’ve never used before, so I’m very interested to find out what she does in her initial beta form (I have read the post already of course, but shhhh) and Ole’s thoughts on how she’s changed since he used her (a lot) in 1st edition.
So without further ado… BAMPF *Dave disappears in a shower of glitter*
Dave has been taken away by Marcus to have scales implanted so as to better resemble his beloved Rattler, so instead we are going to the Star theatre. Yes, it’s another guest post where I get to talk about my favourite crew from 1.5, Colette and the showgirls. In fact it was almost all I played in 1.5, I really liked the tricks, the speed and the soulstone resource management.
Now we finally got the public beta version of the M2E Showgirls and having managed to get in a game with them I thought I’d give my first impression of them.
The first thing one notices is that the way Colette was played, at least the way I played her, in 1.5 is gone, she has just flat out lost most of her abilities. The crew is now less fuelled by soulstone instead using scheme markers for many different things. Looking through, I’m a little concerned, but cautiously optimistic about the crew.
Colette herself, is possibly the model that has changed the most. The most notable changes is that she lost her the ability to swap places with other showgirls, either via Illusionist or her trigger ‘A Blinding Flash’, and she lost both Magicians Duel and Disappearing Act on the offensive side. She still has a spell called Disappearing Act, but it now functions as a scheme marker fuelled Illusionist. She also lost the ability to reactivate. That amounts to some pretty serious change in how I’m going to be using her. On the plus side, she did gain a fairly decent attack in The Sabre Trick, it’s a (0) but with an inbuilt trigger letting you do it again with twice the range and possibly against a different target and 1/3/7 damage is nothing to sneeze at.
However I am a little concerned about her defensively. She gained two wounds, but obviously lost Slow to Die and A Blinding Flash. Instead she gained two new triggers. Now you see me… where she can discard a scheme marker within 1” to take no damage and get placed within 6” and Death Defying, her spell from 1.5 that lets her sacrifice a friendly model in her place. Sadly it requires a 5ss+ model so won’t work on Mannequins and I can count on zero fingers the number of times I used the 1.5 spell. The new trigger has a shorter range and probably heals less. I think she could end up being quite fragile unless you are very good with your scheme markers.
Mechanical doves lost Magical Extension, but gained the ability to be treated as a scheme marker by friendly showgirls. So you could fly them into position and then trigger some of the scheme marker based abilities off them. From my first game that could be very important as getting scheme markers to where you need them can be tough. They are no longer a Magicians Duel with massive range, but they seem like they could be very solid and doubly so since they kept Soulstone Powered and can potentially give +flips to any friendly model just when you need it.
Cassandra is the crews henchwomen, not that anyone is surprised. Her card is a lot less busy, but functionally she is almost the same. She kept, to me at least, all of her most important abilities. Slightly surprised that Celebrity actually got better. I was expecting all the showgirls to lose their special defence skills and just gain manipulation. But since she can no longer lose Celebrity it might be worth just rushing her forward.
One slightly puzzling change is the Understudy ability. It’s now a (2) action and it’s range went from 12” to 8”. I’m not entirely sure what (1) Ca actions are so awesome they had to do that, especially as it’s then included as a trigger on her saber attack. But despite being one of the best melee fighters in the crew I think her role is still going to be more objective based. With Imbued Energy and Practiced Production she can place 3 scheme markers in a single turn.
Performers, now are bought separately from the mannequins, haven’t changed too much either. Irresistible is now Manipulative 13, Precious gives Fast rather than Reactivate but they gained the ability to place Scheme markers while engaged. Sirens Call now needs a Crow rather than a Mask, giving you a use for Crows, and while her melee attack is improved, it’s not really why you are bringing her. She is there for placing scheme markers and debuffing with Seduction and Sirens Call. I think these could be important because of their ability to place scheme markers while engaged, or just good for scoring VPs in general. Oh, and they are still mercenaries.
Mannequins. You can finally buy them separately, although the reasons that I wanted to do so in 1.5 have gone. I got very excited when we got the art of them in the new M2E book, so I was somewhat surprised to see their new form, especially the fact that they got no melee attack. The new Mannequin basically does two things. It can act as a scheme marker for showgirls (and blows up if discarded because of it) and via Magician’s Assistant it lets showgirls place scheme markers at range. To that end it kept a version of link, called Mechanical Adorations. It Does have an attack, stopping models targeting Showgirls with Ml and Ca actions, but with a Ca 4 and Rg 2” I don’t know if it will come into effect much. Especially since you have to hit said model before it have activated or it does nothing.
Coryphee/Duet. Still super fast, still hard to hit, still Dance Together (something I had hoped was gone), but much simplified. The Duet have yet another ability letting you blow up friendly scheme counters, and the only healing action in the crew, but fundamentally they are still fast melee models and their speed makes them good at objectives. Losing paired for a + on damage makes them hit slightly less certain but hit harder and the ability to use soulstones are now triggers off attacks, making it seem rather less useful to me. One big difference is I think a single Coryphee on it’s own might now actually be worthwhile to bring. With armour 2 it doesn’t automatically die to the first hit and it’s fairly capable as a 7 point minion. Something to experiment with for sure.
Angelica. She saw the table for the first time ever in my game with the new rules and she was actually rather useful. She is the only 2” melee range in the entire crew with an attack that gets buffed by, you guessed it, friendly scheme markers. However more importantly she can push friendly models 5” in any direction with her (1) Give Them an Encore! action. That could be exceptionally helpful in all sorts of situations. Definitely a model to watch out for now.
Cabaret Choreography. At first glance I don’t get this one. It’s 2 SS and it’s a (2) that lets friendly models in (6) discard a scheme marker with in 1” and then perform a (1) action. It just seems awfully situational and setup dependent.
A Lady’s Secret. 1 SS for a once a turn melee attack. That cost you a soulstone to use. However it is 1/4/9 so it’s pretty scary and perhaps more importantly it gives Colette a melee range so she can engage people. Something she can’t do in her basic form.
Nothing up my Sleeve: 1 SS for the ability to trade cards for soulstones or soulstones for cards. It was a great ability in 1.5, and I think it’s only gotten better now as trading soulstones for cards might actually be worthwhile to do. Would probably take this almost all the time
Shell Game. This lets Colette shuffle scheme markers around for a (0) action. This is another one I see taking all the time. With how close you need to be to scheme markers and how exact you want their positioning, you want to be able to move them around.
Smoke and Mirrors. This is Cassandra’s upgrade, letting her place a scheme marker in base contact with a showgirl if she get’s killed within 3” of her. Eh. To me Cassandra just often isn’t that close to the other showgirls, and with only two upgrade slots I think I’ll want other upgrades on her.
Practiced Production: This can go on any of the showgirls, but sadly rare 1. It is also the upgrade that’s going to make the crew work much better. Doing interact actions as a (0) is huge for this crew. I can’t honestly imagine not taking this. Either on Colette or Cassandra, although I tried it on Angelica in the first turn, but the other two would probably be closer to the action in final turns.
Final thoughts. The crew obviously changed a lot. I think Colette is more vulnerable defensively now, with a couple of defensive abilities I’m not convinced by at all (Death Defying and Woman behind the Curtain) and one that’s good, but resource intensive (so no change there). I think the crew could have problems with a lot of models without melee ranges. Colette, Doves and Mannequins cannot engage people. Just in my first game that was a bit of an issue. And if something can stop interact actions you are in real trouble. So you need to use the place scheme marker at range abilities to best effect. I’m also somewhat concerned that the scheme markers end up being a ‘tax’ on the crew, a hoop you have to jump through to get to abilities that while good, are not better than what others can do for less effort, especially if you need to blow up Doves or Mannequins. But I’ll need more games to see if that is true. It looks like it will be a lot of fun to solving the puzzle of Colette all over again and get her to work at her best, so for now I’m just glad to have her back.