This week I’m going to be having a look at a non-Marcus minion (what!!!!???… this had better be good). Don’t worry though, you can easily give him/her a different paint job and call him/her a ranger or something. It is of course the December acolyte. The acolyte has been mentioned in many of my recent posts, and I’ve had a few requests (from misguided individuals who think they might learn something) for a look at it… so here it is.
December acolytes are just that, “acolytes of December”. For those of you who aren’t up to date with your malilore, December is one of the tyrants (big super being type people), who has made friends with Rasputina. It seems that they both like things a little chilly. Acolytes are sneaky folks, who tend to ambush supply wagons and do stealth missions for the Arcanists. In the game, Acolytes are one of the arcanists’ few models with a ranged weapon (in wave 2 there are more projectiles coming), and deal damage, hinder the enemy, help friendly models, and are generally very flexible. For those non-arcanists (or “misguided fools”, as we like to call them) out there, you have to realise just how amazing ranged weapons are. Count yourselves lucky! We have a choice of Acolytes or Joss/ice gamin (both of whom’s ranged weapons are only there so their cards don’t look empty)… and Rasputina or Ramos.
The acolyte’s stats are pretty average for their cost, with a good willpower, but nothing else of particular note. Their real power comes from a very tasty suite of abilities and actions available to them.
From the shadows
This is an ability which allows the acolyte to deploy ahead of your usual deployment zone. As the acolyte has a pretty low walk (compared to Marcus’ beasts at least) it’s handy to be able to get some extra inches forward. This means you spend less time walking, and more time shooting (which is handy… as we’ll see in a bit). You could deploy the acolyte very close to the enemy deployment zone, but unless you have a cunning plan, I prefer to deploy around the centreline (as a rule of thumb), so that supporting charges can take place in turn 2 if necessary (or turn 1 if you’re using Marcus).
This is something which all of the icy models have, making them immune to horror duels and paralyse. It’s stupidly useful, particularly against models which rely on horror duels as a major part of their defence (anything terrifying 13+… as another rule of thumb). Immunity to paralyse is one of my favourite things in the game… largely because paralyse is one of my least favourite things.
I reckon 90-95% of my December acolyte’s AP have been used to shoot the harpoon gun. Let’s start at the start. There are 2 basic ways to use this gun. The first is to fire as many shots as possible, the second is to shoot less shots, but cause some serious hurt with them (generally I do this if the pansy defender is cowering behind cover, knowing that all kinds of harpoony death are hurtling toward them). I tend to prefer the first option, but both are good.
The acolyte has a very good Sh, and pretty good damage too. This is the first part of why Acolytes are fantastic. They tend to hit what they’re aiming at. Often your opponent will cheat in some high cards to try to avoid harpoony death, but it may well be worth cheating in that 12 or 13 to hit. Your chances of getting moderate damage on a negative flip aren’t too bad, and moderate damage is pretty darn good.
OK, so you’ve shot a model and caused it some damage, big wow. Well this is where part 2 of the harpoon gun comes in. The shot itself gives the enemy model slow. Remember that speed post a while ago? Slow is perfect for reducing what the opponent can do back to you, or reducing how successfully they can achieve their aims. You’re reducing the number of actions they can perform to complete their schemes and strategy. In a simple scenario, it means most things won’t be able to charge your acolyte, leaving you free to shoot them next turn.
Well, that’s a pretty good weapon. Good Sh, good damage, good effect. Right, what’s next?… hang on. What? There’s more!!!?
Yup, the harpoon gun has triggers. One requires a suit, and moves a model toward the acolyte. This is handy in combination with another action (I’ll come onto in a bit), but generally I don’t use it too much. That’s because the other trigger is amazing. It doesn’t require a suit, and forces the target to discard a card. Again, back to the speed post, with less cards in their hand, the opponent has less control of the game. This can only be a good thing (except maybe against Tara, but even then I prefer my opponent to have fewer cards in their hand). It also means they aren’t safe putting anything in a position where it could be shot, even insignificant rubbish.
So to summarise, if you hit your opponent’s model, they 1) take damage (possibly BIG damage), 2) are slow, 3) discard a card. So you could shoot 2 different models in a turn, and that can totally nobble people. If they “need” a model to do 2 actions, or if they “need” all of the cards in their hand, this will screw them over.
Alternatively, if they’re in cover, you can focus, and shoot once. Now if you hit, you can (usually) cheat the damage, and just execute most minions with a severe damage. Watch out for things with hard to kill, hard to wound, or other tricksy defenses though. Oh, and don’t forget the slow and discard either.
I could stop here. If you need more reason to take an acolyte then you should probably re-read the first half of this post and bear in mind that Arcanists essentially have no other non-master shooters. But fine, whatever, you’re not convinced… I mean, you’re wrong (obviously, never disagree with a man who runs a blog), but whatever. Maybe you’re thinking “the acolyte will just get tied up in melee”.
Fortunately, if the acolyte does get caught in melee, it has 2 responses. The first of which is the hunting knife. Now you’re thinking: “oh yay, my shooty guy has some piddly little butter knife with which to defend himself from the terrors of the world of Malifaux”. Well don’t worry, because the acolyte wields that butter knife with quite some skill. Indeed, this poncy ranger dude has an attack which is pretty similar to the mighty RSR! Sure it has a short range and low weak damage, but it does have that tasty auto-slow effect, and a delightful trigger on a suit to push 3″, and moderate/severe damage are sickeningly good (for a “shooty” model). If you can push, you can get free (usually), and being free means the harpoon gun is back in action (cue maniacal laughter).
This ability is AMAZING! Say the acolyte is being attacked by something humungous and can’t get free. Smell weakness stops enemies from getting the benefits of armour and hard to wound. That’s all well and good, but your acolyte is still stuck in melee right?. Well put up smell weakness, and then remember those models which we set up to be able to counter charge? Those models like Marcus, or a Cerberus. Now they can just stroll on over and delete that pesky (insert name of nasty gribbly which relies on armour/hard to wound). Personally my best kill this way has been a 2 hit rail golem deletion from Marcus.
Smell weakness can similarly be used offensively. It’s a 6″ aura, so a walk and a smell weakness has quite a bit of range to it. As armour is something which Marcus (and maybe Rasputina?) really struggles against, being able to remove it is very useful in damaging with those big attacks.
I’m beginning to think that any model in here should have “the alpha disclaimer”: if a model is good, it’s twice as good if it can activate twice. I generally find that in the first few turns Marcus may well alpha the acolyte to get 4 shots (potentially discarding 4 cards from opponent’s hand) per turn. Later on he generally has better things to do, and the acolyte is usually dead (people don’t like it for some reason, so go out of their way to kill it… which is fine by me).
As I mentioned, the acolyte and Cerberus pair up really nicely in removing 2 of the key abilities which the Cerberus struggles against (armour, hard to wound).
Of course the acolyte also pairs very nicely with Rasputina crews as well (she can cast spells through it and stuff), using ice gamin. These little guys have a zero action to make nearby frozen heart models deal +1 damage. That takes the acolyte’s damage deep into beatstick territory. Unfortunately only Rasputina and (maybe) Ramos will be taking ice gamin anything like regularly, and it’s really not worth taking a gamin just for this.
Generally however, I find the acolyte doesn’t need too much support/synergy. It’s a very good model on its own, easily able to get rid of enemies and sow disruption without much need for help from other models or cards in your hand.
I find the acolyte is the perfect model for frame for murder. It’ll always get killed (again, I refer back to the harpoon gun for proof), and it’s not difficult to get it near a convenient master/henchman.
In general it’s handy for most schemes, and is really useful for achieving every strategy except maybe turf war, as it can be where it needs to be and still shoot stuff (again, I can’t emphasise enough how little shooting Arcanists, and particularly Marcus, have in wave 1). Dishing out slow like nobody’s business is also very handy for stalling the opponent (for instance in squatter’s rights, or schemes requiring markers), as they can walk OR interact, not both.
The acolyte totally embodies my personal preference for flexibility in models. It does a bit of everything, and does them all fairly well. The only place it is weak is movement. From the shadows partially compensates this, but good deployment is a necessity. Fortunately if you want speed, you have molemen.
So there you go. If you don’t feel inspired to try out an acolyte, please tweet me (iamsssk) or get in touch here or on the wyrd forums (sssk), because evidently I haven’t got my point across well enough. They’re ace.
Next time I’m planning to re-hash my fluff post, trimming it down to the interesting bits. I’ll warn you now, there will be controversy (if it forms as I’m planning it to).
Until next time