It’s a while since I took a focussed look at a model, so I figured I’d return to it. Today’s beast is Marcus’ feline friend, his friendly moggy, often called ‘Tiddles’ (though not to its face…s), it is of course the Sabertooth Cerberus.
The background of the Cerberus: Marcus decided to see what happens if you put 2 extra heads on one of Malifaux’s native sabertooth tigers. The result is that it makes it better… 3 times better. In game terms, the Cerberus is the pure beatstick of the crew. If you need something killing, chances are the Cerberus is the cat for the job. Just as a warning, I’ll be looking at the Cerberus’ abilities in a different order to the other models, as it seems more logical (ie not how they appear on the card).
Across the board, the Cerberus’ stats are pretty average for such an expensive model. It has enough wounds to take a few hits, but chances are if its being attacked, it will be getting hit, and it will be taking damage. So the obvious answer there is don’t let it get attacked… easier said than done perhaps, but it does have some cunning (and not so cunning) ways to avoid being attacked, as we’ll see. It also has the unimpeded ability (ignores severe terrain), and is a little bit terrifying to living models. This terrifying is never going to change the world, but every now and then your opponent might need to cheat in a card, which can never be a bad thing.
As I said, I’m not just going from start of card to end of card on this one. Stalk is a zero action, which puts the “stalked” condition on an enemy model until the Cerberus uses stalk again. This essentially means if the enemy model performs a walk or charge during its activation, the Cerberus can take a walk action towards that model. There’s no requirement for line of sight on this, so it can be useful to stick on in the first turn, and then the Cerberus can get a free walk if it wants to. I’ve never found it incredibly useful, but it can be handy on occasion.
This is the Cerberus’ other (0) action, and generally an action you will be using (or at least trying to use) every turn of the game. It allows the Cerberus to move its (fairly alright) charge distance, ignoring terrain and models. The key point here is that it’s a (0) so you can move your Cerberus without having to spend those all important (1) actions (there’s better things to do with those). There are two basic uses for leap: getting to models to kill them, and getting away from models so they don’t kill the Cerberus. Generally (and not necessarily tactfully) I use the Cerberus as a super charged Jackalope, therefore I often use leap to extend the effective threat range of the Cerberus to 15″, which is quite a distance to potentially bring quite a lot of pain. However, if you can get to the enemy with a charge action, you can put in a few attacks and then leap away behind a house to avoid retribution.
The Cerberus also has unimpeded, helping it to hunt down its prey, or flee from danger, but what happens when it catches its prey?
Well this is the main point of the Cerberus. It is a reasonable beatstick with fairly high Ml, and 3/4/6 damage and a trigger (needing a tome) to make another attack (and another, and another….) which makes it very handy for getting rid of tough enemies. The thing which really sets it apart though, is “three headed”. This ability gives the Cerberus positive flips to attack and damage as long as it has 5 or more wounds remaining. Fortunately, if it has less than 5 wounds remaining, it’s probably dead, so you don’t need to worry too much about it.
So how is it looking now? High Ml, flipping 2 cards to hit, means you can often rely on it hitting without needing any help from your hand. This means even if you draw an awful hand, you can generally rely on the cerberus to keep on killing stuff. Usually I only bother cheating in for the Cerberus if I want to hit the trigger to attack again, and usually hitting the trigger once (for 3 attacks) will kill most minions.
If you’re up against tougher opposition, there’re 2 approaches to take (or one devastating, but very resource intensive one). One is to use lots of tomes to get enough attacks to take them down by the thousand cuts approach, the other takes advantage of the second part of three headed. Positive flips to damage generally mean that if the Cerberus hits, it’ll be able to cheat the damage, meaning it’s not too difficult to put out 10 or 12 damage from just 2 attacks. Also if I get a red joker in my hand, it’ll usually be used by the Cerberus, for a fairly easy 9 damage in 1 hit! Of course you can combine these approaches to put out a lot of very high damage attacks… but you probably won’t have a hand for long.
Generally, if I’m up against something with armour, I’ll aim to put out a lot of damage in a few hits. If I’m against something with hard to wound, I’ll try for lots of low damage hits, and if the opponent has neither of those, the cards in my hand will decide how I want to take them down.
*cough cough* so…. the Cerberus’ defense? Urm, it has terrifying against living… a very low value of terrifying, but I guess it might stop something… once. It has defense and willpower scores… which are nothing to write home about. Ten wounds isn’t too bad, though it’s a pretty expensive model, so you’d hope for a few wounds.
OK, clearly I’m being a bit silly (but not THAT silly). The Cerberus is pretty squishy, but there are two easy ways around this. Option 1, as I talked about before, is to leap away from retribution. You should always (ALWAYS) keep a 5+ of masks in your hand if you can, in order to leap. This is the most crucial need for masks in the crew (Marcus and Myranda can use soulstones to get masks). Option 2 is to be as subtle as a brick. You know those cards you’re keeping to use in the Cerberus’ defense? Don’t bother, use them to attack instead. The logic here is that (unless you’re playing against Leveticus) if everything which could hurt the Cerberus is dead, it can’t hurt the Cerberus, so you don’t need good cards to defend with.
What to watch out for
Ranged attacks usually see off a Cerberus unless there’s plenty of cover to advance behind and then leap out of. What usually kills my Cerberus though, is going to kill something and failing. Armour really screws a Cerberus. This means that models like Joss, Howard Langstone, or the ice golem can generally survive the attack, and then batter the poor kitty into the middle of next week. Similarly, models with defensive triggers to push away, or end the Cerberus’ activation will utterly ruin your day, as no amount of free extra attacks will help you if the enemy has buggered off.
So that’s pretty much the Cerberus in a nut shell. It moves in quickly, kills things quickly, and if you aren’t careful, dies quickly. There are 2 more bits to discuss: upgrades, and interactions with other models.
Upgrades: long story short, imbued energies works really well, as the cat will either die, netting you 4 cards, or can have an extra AP to kill stuff even better. Everything else (in my humble opinion) tends to make the Cerberus a great big expensive target. Imbued protection can be tempting, but I tend to find that it doesn’t keep the cat alive too much longer than it would have otherwise lived, I get tempted to use it for bait, and it gets too expensive for what it does.
Interactions: Generally, there isn’t a better target for Marcus’ alpha then a Cerberus. Imagine all that movement and hitting power, twice per turn…. nice. Obviously it depends on the situation, but the Cerberus can really cause some damage for Marcus’ 2 AP. Indeed imagine this: leap-charge-alpha-hit-hit-leap away… mmmh delicious filthy tactics. The other handy thing with Marcus, is if you get enough activation advantage to activate Marcus and the Cerberus after the enemy crew has fully activated, you can put darzhee’s chaunt on the Cerberus. Now your cat has double positive flips to attack and damage (with no disadvantage, as the enemy is all activated out). If things don’t die after that, you should probably stop attacking adamantium mountains.
Another nice interaction with Marcus is to cast feral on an enemy model, then use domesticate, then alpha the Cerberus. Now all of that hitting power is going against negative defense flips (hopefully meaning lower tomes will get you your trigger), then if that enemy survives (and is living), their horror duel to attack back will be on negative flips too, meaning a high chance of failing it.
Then (briefly, because I’m waffling) there’s Myranda. Long story short, she heals the Cerberus to get it back up to 5 wounds to get 3 headed back, she gives it extra attacks (always a good thing), and when push comes to shove, she can turn into a new Cerberus (with full wounds) for the fun to begin again!
Oh! oh! I nearly forgot one of my new favourite models (close second behind RSR)! The December acolyte has an ability to remove armour and hard to wound nearby. If you can get an enemy in that, then only a master can really expect to survive a full blown Cerberus attack… it’s brutal.
Generally these days, I don’t hire the Cerberus too much, but 9 times out of 10, when Myranda shapechanges, it’ll be into a cerberus.
I haven’t even touched on their ability to place a scheme marker – leap – place a scheme marker, or leap and deliver a message.
Basically the Cerberus is very good for tons of stuff, but takes a bit of getting used to (even after 20-30 games of using one, I still sometimes mess up the placing so that it gets killed in fairly short order).
This weekend it’s Jimmyfaux (I don’t actually know what the tournament is called, but it’s being run by Jimmy, so Jimmyfaux seems logical). It’ll be my last tournament for quite a while due to work commitments, but it promises to be a great tournament. Really looking forward to seeing lots of friends, and lots of new faces, and who knows, I might even win a game! The next blog post will probably be a little review of that (unless someone wants to write a guest post?), in a similar style to the Halifaux write up. Feel free to post/tweet your predictions for where I’ll end up. I believe there are 20+ players attending.
Finally, if you haven’t checked out all of the new renders for the models which are coming out over the next few months, take a look here. They’re looking really nice. Of course I’m waiting till January. Personally I really like all of the sculpts in the Marcus box (I know some folk are questioning the Cerberus, but I like it), though I may well remove the spikes from Cojo, and hopefully the scenic bits of Myranda and the Cerberus can be removed fairly easily (this is going to be my first major modelling/painting project since a warhammer goblin army I painted 4-5 years ago!). So expect more from that in the new year.
Sorry this has been a bit of a long post. It was written in 3 or 4 separate chunks, so started rambling 3 or 4 different times.
Until next time