I'm an unrepentant Neverborn player in Malifaux. When it comes to being the thing that goes bump in the night there's really no topping the purple menace. In the bright light of Malifaux's day however, there's not too many monsters hanging out in plain sight. Enter the Governor-General's Secretary, Lucius Matheson, a character who uses the brutality of the Guild while still acting like a true Neverborn.
With unparalleled grace and charm, Lucius is the real power behind the throne. Controlling what matters the Governor General sees gives Lucius access to information that allows him to pursue his own goals, each as inscrutable as his golden mask. As the only Guild master worth running (with maybe an honorable mention to the dual-faction McCabe), Lucius can rock the purple with panache and wicked style.
If you are a big Malifaux player, and want to win with evil bureaucracy, come on on in, and let's talk about how to be a jerk with Lucius.
I really love Lucius' theme: I have a weakness for the aesthetics of masks, and Lucius has a style that swags out of control. In the lore, Lucius is not entirely human but it isn't clear what else he is. He doesn't seem to play along with Zoraida and the other Neverborn girls. I have a theory that his mask is the real Neverborn monster, with "Lucius Matheson" either being a fake identity or the true name of the body that the mask has taken over. Having taken the promotion to a master in the second edition of Malifaux, he has really embraced being a master manipulator, so he prefers to let his minions get their hands dirty while he supervises.
Unfortunately, that means I need to go and buy Guild models, but some sacrifices are worth it. Mixing the powerful shooting of the guild with the brutal melee capabilities of the Neverborn is a chocolate/peanut butter combo that patches up one of the Neverborn's only weaknesses: a lack of powerful ranged options. Shooting people from a distance while manipulating the battlefield? Worth every penny.
The man with a plan...and a lot of jerk underlings
Lucius' core box is called Bound By Law and comes with Lucius, his totem The Scribe, the henchman Captain Daschel, two Guild Guards, two Guild Lawyers, and all the stat cards and upgrades you need to run them.
Very much a support master, most of his abilities revolve around controlling what the enemy does while making his friendly minions better. He lacks the flexibility of Zoraida's Obey, but he makes up for it with a friendly-only Obey trick that is almost as powerful as the Dreamer's Empty Night ability. Combine that with a slippery mobility and focus on laying scheme markers, and you get a Master that has a lot of tools for claiming victory in most any scenario.
With a reasonably solid defensive line of 6 df and 7 wp, Lucius can go toe to toe with huge awful monsters like Executioners, Teddies, and other faction big guys that I don't know. Oh, Izamu, sure. Most well-known beatstick 10+ soulstone models have attacks of 6. That's generally as high as it goes. Luckily for our favorite secretary, that means that he is flipping at a 50% chance to avoid getting mushed, and that's before your opponent starts Cheating Fate, you start Cheating Fate, or Lucius starts plain old fashioned cheating. He's going to need to cheat too, because he suffers from the Neverborn Master Anemia, meaning none of them have more than 10 wounds. Odd for a Neverborn master, he only has 4 walk, tying for slowest purple leader with Lynch and Pandora. Must be all that time hanging out with Guildies rubbing off on him.
I've found that I like stuffing Lucius lists with dudes and upgrades, so his cache of 4 helps make sure that he doesn't show up with light pockets. This is helpful, because one of the things that Lucius loves to cheat with is soulstones. He's no Colette, but he can draw on other income streams during the game to make more soulstones than he has any right to be using. Devil's Deal allows him to refund a soulstone after spending one by smacking a nearby friendly model within a 6 inch aura for 3 irreducible damage. That means armor won't help, which is kind of a bummer, but one of the things that Neverborn is known for is regenerating models. I feel like Neverborn Lucius gets more mileage out of Devil's Deal than as Guild, for that reason. Guild models love suiting up in armor, after all. I'll point out that you HAVE to spend a stone first to get the refund, so you can't use the ability to go from zero stones back up to one. You can Devil's Deal stones you spend on drawing cards at the start of the turn, but I'm not sure if you can use it when reflipping initiative. Technically you can nominate Lucius himself as the victim, but with only 10 wounds that is a fast track to a dead master. Lastly this ability can kill your own models to prevent scheme scoring for your opponent, so keep it in mind if you are in a weird situation like that.
Lucius is willing to sell any resource he can to get an edge. Soulstones, his lackey's health, and even your cards. Highest Authority allows him to pitch one card to make any enemy attack action suffer one negative flip. Paired with his above-average defense and willpower, preventing your opponent from cheating means he can stay in the middle of a fray for a while, dipping and dodging all kinds of nastiness. If your opponent is smart they may try and focus Lucius to drain your hand of cards, so just remember that you can use Devil's Deal to recoup a soulstone for a prevention flip. Sometimes, your cards may be more valuable. Determining which resources you can afford to spend is critical, because he can use so many different assets for his defense.
Elite Training is icing on the cake for Lucius, since you can spend your time in the mid or front lines with good effect. All friendly Minions with a 3 inch aura get positive flips to the Ml attacks. Straightforward.
Commanding Presence is one of Lucius' most prominent abilities. Perhaps the thing that exemplifies his playstyle the most, after he completes a Walk action Presence allows him to turn around and intimidate a friendly Minion into doing a 1 action, but only if they pass a TN 13 Horror Duel. Functionally, this allows him to generate 6 ap worth of actions on his turn, and since he has only a 4 inch walk, he's going to be strolling around a lot anyway. It is important to note that a 13 Horror Duel requires a 8 or better if your target has the average 5 wp, meaning that the odds are not really in your favor. I find I have to cheat a lot to make this ability work. Because it is a Horror Duel, if the target fails he will be paralyzed! Plus the victim will be paralyzed out of his activation so he will have to take his turn, generate zero AP, cry because there's no Union representatives to witness the hostile work environment he has to deal with, and then end his activation. Further, if he passes the Duel, he gains immunity to Lucius' Horror Duels until the end of the turn, so it's a once per turn for each model deal. With a little luck and a solid hand on turn one though, you can make Lucius move into position and have three of his friends walk forward once each. Neverborn speed at work here.
You'll note that a lot of his abilities focus on Minions. Lucius is a Minion master, true, but don't forget to bring some enforcers or henchmen if you really need it. Always play to win the scenario, even it means under utilizing a specific ability. I'll go over his play in specific Schemes and Strategies later.
On the back of his card we see Lucius' abilities. With only one mediocre attack and three tactical actions, that really solidifies his position as a support master.
Sword Cane has a Ml 6 (Rams), with a 2/3/4 damage track and a 1 inch range. Yawn. But the damage isn't why we start swinging our cane around usually. He has a trigger called Governor's Authority on a double Rams that applies the Red Tape condition: "This model suffers a double negative on attack flips against Minions and Mimics." Lucius is a Mimic! Golly! One time I had Lucius step to Izamu and keep him tied up for three turns with Red Tape. (I'll tell you more about how that turned out in the Guild Lawyer section.) Because of his high Ml and short range, this attack and trigger can really prevent a large model from moving a lot because Lucius can reliably keep someone engaged with him for as long as he wants and still throw out orders to his lackeys.
His first tactical action is (1) What Lackeys Are For. Besides the great name, it also has a Ca 7(Mask) with a TN of 12 (Double Mask), so you need a 5 of Masks or higher or to burn a stone. Basically once per turn he can swap places with a friendly model (not necessarily a minion) within 10 inches and it drops a scheme marker at his original position. This ability is incredibly flexible, from getting Lucius out of trouble, to laying a scheme marker and getting movement, to getting Lucius INTO trouble if you want to save a dying friendly. That wouldn't be very in-character for Lucius, but he can handle himself in most fights. Its a surprise changeup move that can throw your opponent off by changing the battlefield drastically in a very real way. That is the sort of switch up that can win you a game by surprise scoring Entourage at the last second by teleporting from midfield into your enemy's deployment.
(1) Guild Intelligence requires a 9 of any suit, and allows friendly minions within a 6 inch aura to make interacts while engaged. Combine this with Commanding Presence and you can allow nearby guys to drop scheme markers or claim last second Distract during Lucius' turn. its a powerful ability, but its also very situation dependent. You can break your opponents scheme markers when they weren't expecting it and deny them points without their ability to respond.
His last and most used ability is the pseudo-Obey (1) Issue Command. Requiring a 7 to fire, he can make a friendly non-Austringer minion model take a (1) action. Normally it has an 8 inch range but that almost doubles to 14 inches if the target is a Guardsman or Mimic. The target must still be a minion though. The three triggers are what make this move gross. On a Rams, the minion gets Focused +1 before executing the (1) action. On a Tomes, the target can take a (1) interact action before resolving the (1) action granted by Issue Command. Lastly, on a second Mask he can grant the target Defensive +1 until it activates again. Each trigger lets Lucius make the unit get an effective 2 AP worth of actions per 1 he hands out. That is something we keep seeing on Lucius; he can generate 6 points of actions during his turn. Originally his Avatar during the beta testing was called "The Liar" and it let him generate an extra 2 ap per turn. That's it. Compared to some of the other Avatars, I thought it was so clean and elegant, and cut right to the heart of what Lucius was trying to do: Make his lackeys do more, better. However that concept was scrapped and now his Avatar lets him treat Masks as Rams and Rams as Masks, which is cool, plus his can reactively take control of enemy actions targeting him. It's a little complicated and messy, but it's not as unbelievably unbalanced as having a 5 AP master. As a side note, the reason that it specifies a non-Austringer minion is because Austringers are just totally fucking disgusting at all times, and giving them MORE AP to throw birds at your enemies was considered too strong in the beta testing. However, they are probably still worth bringing just for that reason, and they can still benefit from Commanding Presence.
Surprisingly Loyal - The defensive trigger on this is unreliable, because it requires a Mask and a Ram on a failed Df duel. That means that you have to burn a stone for one suit, and either cheat or pray to whatever dark, fetid hellspawn you worship that you flip a card of the other suit for your check. I don't think the expenditure of resources just to redirect the attack is worth it, although I love the flavor of one of his lackeys leaping in front of him to catch a bullet. However, Personal Retinue is why I consider this core on Neverborn Lucius because I think having two Guild Riflemen, even without the support of Captain Daschel, is so excellent to cover the advance of your melee and short-range units. People really do keep their heads down when they see a few Riflemen all focused up. Here's a list of all the single-faction models that Lucius can hire with Personal Retinue:
List of Guardsmen:
- Captain Daschel
- Guild Hound
- Guard Seargent
- Guild Pathfinder
- Master Queeg
- Mounted Guard
List of Mimics:
- Guild Lawyer
- Mr. Graves
- Mr. Tannen
I'll give a detailed analysis of each model after I cover his core box.
Legalese - I love this upgrade. If you see a lot of scheme marker focused options for VP, you can take Purposeful Misinterpretation and bogart some Protect Territory scheme markers later in the game. It might not always get you points, but it very very easily could prevent your opponent from scoring points, which is basically the same. Loop Holes is a little bit narrower of an ability, but depending on what your opponent could be playing it can really ruin their fun. It totally turns off Pandora's Misery aura bubble of death, and it lets you dodge things like Sebastian's Induction, the Hanged's terrifying-immunity removal Aura, the Brewmaster's Drinking Contest, and Nether Flux from Hannah. Perhaps the biggest thing it lets you avoid is Chatty, which shows up a LOT and will often be used in the same games that Purposeful Misinterpretation would be useful in anyway. Also, it is a "may" effect, so you can always choose to suffer from a negative effect of an aura or pulse, or decline the benefits, should it matter. One thing to note is that most "friendly" auras often have a specific unit subtype associated with them, for example: Som'er Teeth Jones' auras specific Pig or Gremlin models, of which Lucius is (thankfully) neither. So keep an eye out for which auras will actually affect Lucius.
Secret Assets - At two stones, this is Lucius' most expensive upgrade. I really like to take it because it gives him a zero act, which he wouldn't otherwise have. Hidden Sniper is a little goofy because it's hard to pull off, but I think it's worth it. I also love the idea that somewhere hidden in the map is a dude with a rifle taking shots on Lucius' command, and the enemy will never be able to see him. Requiring a 6 of Rams or better, this Sh 6 action targets defense with a range of 12. It does not have a gun icon, so it doesn't randomize or have to deal with cover, which shows how good Lucius' snipers are. It has a solid damage track of 2/3/4, but if the target is within 3 inches and line of sight of any scheme marker, the attack gets a positive flip and doesn't need line of sight from Lucius. There are two triggers, Critical Strike, and Purposeful Strike. Considering that the TN of the attack requires a Rams, if you are landing the shot it's going to be 3/4/5 as a zero act, which is pretty cool. Although I will point out that Purposeful Strike triggers off a Mask, AND you have to damage the target, which means that your final total is going to be 12(Rams)(Mask). The only way you're going to get that is by burning a stone to add the suit, and maybe cheating on top of that. However, it lets you burn any scheme marker within 3 inches, or place a friendly scheme marker within 3 inches of the target. That could be useful for re-positioning a Spring the Trap marker or stopping points for Protect Territory. It's obviously more of Lucius' shadowy agents laying markers while a sniper keeps his enemies' heads down. This is really useful with a scheme marker heavy scheme pool. Based on the wording or the Purposeful Strike trigger, it appears that if you kill the target after damaging, you probably won't get to flip the marker to your side.
Secret Objectives - This grants Lucius another 0 act, Hidden Weapons. It requires a 5 of any suit to fire, and it lets you discard all friendly scheme markers in a 3 inch pulse, then you get to make that many (1) Ml actions. You can target as many different models as you want, which is nice if Lucius gets mobbed and you want to hit them all with Red Tape. However, considering that you can't manually lay scheme markers within 4 inches of each other, I can't imagine this ability realistically giving more than two free attacks at most. If you take this, most often this is going to be a zero act that just turns into a single Sword Cane swing, and while that might appear to be "free" AP, one of your friendlies had to spend an AP to drop the marker in the first place. I don't think this upgrade is worth the one stone, because the applications are limited and the payoff is so low. Especially considering that he can have a much superior hard-to-pull-off (0) act in the Hidden Sniper.
Watch My Back - This upgrade is guild only. If you are able to take this you are playing the wrong faction. If you do have the unfortunate luck to be playing the Redcoats, it gives all your Guardsmen Accomplice for two stones. Accomplice is powerful, and 2 stones as an entry fee is probably worth it if you have a Guardsmen heavy list. Which you won't, because you're playing Neverborn, right? Right?
Useless Duplications -This is a Mimic Rare 1 upgrade, so while Lucius could carry it, any of the Mimics on the list from above that can carry upgrades could use it. While I love the flavor of the ability, I don't know how good the actual mechanics are. The first ability is called Useless Duplications, and it affects all Mimics that the upgrade holder can see. When an enemy attempts to shoot at an unengaged mimic the enemy has to randomize between all models as though it were shooting into an engagement. That means that you're probably going to have them randomize between some of your friendly models, so something of yours is still getting hit. That may be useful if you are trying to keep damage off a low df model like the Scribe, so maybe having Graves or Candy nearby to soak some of that damage might be worth it. In general I think the applications of that ability are a little limited.
The second ability is more powerful, however. Seeing Double lets any nearby friendly Mimic that is targeted by an engaging attack action (nearly all Ml attacks, or things like the Hungering Darkness' Ca based Tendrils) that Mimic can pitch a card to give the attack a negative flip. The upgrade holder can use this ability on itself. It's like a slightly more restricted Highest Authority. I could see this upgrade working well on someone who wants to be in the middle of things, like Graves, Tannen, or a Doppelganger. Just remember to keep your friendlies 1.001 inches away from Graves, because Black Blood is no joke!
On Wings of Darkness - I'm a huge fan of this upgrade on slower masters that can't afford to waste extra AP walking around things, like Lucius, Lynch, and Pandora, but it could also be really good on people who need to get places fast, like Lilith, or maybe Collodi (who I don't play for no particular reason.) So, everyone, basically. It just gives Flight and it lets you draw and discard 3 cards instead of 2 when you burn a stone at the start of the draw phase. As you've undoubtedly seen from my Lynch Tactica, card quality is a game winning advantage, and since Lucius has access to more stones than any other master (via Devil's Deal (Shut up Collette no one likes you anyway)), getting a little extra juice from every one you spend is icing on the awful soul consuming magic cake.
Aether Connection - Like On Wings of Darkness, This gives Lucius a little more bang for each buck (stone) which he's always a fan of. Plus if you see Assassinate in the pool that extra 1 prevention could be the difference between Lucius living and dying with his low wound count of 10.
The Core Box:
The Scribe - This little dual faction guy is about as weak as totems get. Being used to playing with guys like the Hungering Darkness, I might be spoiled. Overall, for 2 stones he's pretty good though. 4 Df, 5 Wp, and 4 wounds with no defensive abilities means he won't be sticking around long in a fight. (Unless killing him is illegal, since Lucius has something to say about it.) As a peon, he is Insignificant. He has Companion, which is a nice bonus. He also grants other mimics within a 3 inch aura one extra Df, which brings Lucius up to a staggering 7 Df. He has one attack, Glove Slap, which has a pathetic 1/1/2 damage track. However, dear readers, he has Red Tape as a built in trigger on his 5Ml attack, so he can keep even the scariest of dudes tied up in the waiting room before they can get through him to see the Master. If you decide to send in the Scribe to stop Howard Langston, it might work, for a time. And for a 2 stone lackey, dying in service of the Master is the best he could aspire to, anyway. Like Hoffman's totem, he also has a condition clearing ability for Lucius that triggers on a 5, with a range of 3. That could be really useful if there's a Brewmaster, Kaeris, or Hamelin on the other side of the board. I feel like the Scribe could be used best in a Reckoning or Turf war game where the Schemes are not very focused on scheme markers, since he can best support Lucius by being nearby and tying up models.
Captain Dashel - Exclusively available to Guild, or with Personal Retinue, the Captain is a monstrous support Henchman that can also crack heads. with average defensive stats, 9 wounds, and a 5/6 walk/charge, he's well worth his 9 points. He has Armor 1, Hard to Kill, and he makes all your Guardsmen shockingly scary by letting them focus as a (0) act with "Ready! Aim!" Considering how rare it is for minions to have (0) acts, that basically means that all your guardsmen can get a free focus as long as they are within 6 inches since it won't be competing with any other (0) things you might want to do. His other ability "Fire!" gives your friendly Guardsmen a positive to shooting if they target an enemy within 12 inches. If you are also using your focus, that's a double positive to hit with a positive to damage. This guy would go great in damn near any guild crew, but luckily the Neverborn are sneaky enough to bring him in as a shooting consultant. On the other side of his card, he has a Ml6 Baton attack with two built in triggers, one to hand out Slow and Crit Strike. The damage profile is a little low, at 2/2/3, but with Crit Strike it'll feel like a good reliable 3 damage to you. On a charge, he only has a 7 inch threat range, but he's a seasoned veteran, not as young as he used to be. Handing out 2 damage and slow on the first attack and then whacking someone for 3 damage on the second attack will make most people stop and pay attention, but between his Henchman status, Armor +1, and Hard to Kill Daschel won't be stepping out of the fray without leaving someone broken and bloody behind him. His gun is unremarkable, sh 6, range 12, 2/3/4 damage with no triggers, but I often find myself hanging Daschel back with the Riflemen until the enemy closes, and its nice to just focus and take a few potshots. His auras don't benefit himself, unfortunately. His last ability is a once-per-turn (1) On Yer Feet! and it needs a 7 to fire. A friendly minion within 12 inches gets reactive and then gets sacrificed at the end of the turn. I like the flavor that this grizzled old captain yells at his troops to get that last 5% effort out of them to get the job done. I've never had the occasion to use it, but an extra activation is worth a lot. Use with care.
One of these is the good captain, and two of them are creepy lawyers. Can you guess which is which?
Guild Lawyer - I am unabashedly in love with the Guild Lawyers, because they are just so delightfully well designed. Fundamentally, the Lawyers are support models. Although they don't offer much board control, they have several protective abilities for your minions and some ways to make your opponent sit around, not doing anything. They have 6 in every stat (except 5 walk and 2 ht (wouldn't a ht 6 model be totally crazy?)) for 6 stones. Like Lucius, they are lawyers with Highest Authority, so they had a solid defensive trick even if it does put some strain on your control hand. Being Mimics, they benefit from all the Mimic related nonsense that Lucius likes to pull. Being Guild models they have Finish the Job, always useful for last second points scoring. Don't forget, you can always kill your own models if you can't expect your enemy to kill your guys in convenient spots. The real reason why I bring one Lawyer in every Lucius game is his Reminder of a Worse Fate. All friendlies within a 6 inch aura get a positive twist to Horror Duels. He sits in the middle, gently prodding his associates to remind them that failing to obey Lucius' orders will be much MUCH worse than whatever that Student of Viscera is going to do to them. Mathematically, this increases your chance to succeed on Lucius' Commanding Presence check to about 70-75%. Just by bringing a Lawyer, you are going to have to cheat to succeed on the Horror Duels half as often, which means more cards for Highest Authority or, you know, actually cheating. Plus, its a nice bonus against Ressers or Neverborn that usually have terrifying models.
On the back of the Lawyer's card, they can do a lot of different things. His only engagement attack is OBJECTION!!!, a direct reference to the Pheonix Wright series of Lawyer-based games. It has a damage spread of 2/2/2 and attacks Wp, but will Slow on moderate damage and Paralyze on severe. He has a 1 inch range, so I see this more as a defensive skill to lock down an enemy that has gotten all up in his grill. On a crow it triggers Fruit of the Poisonous Tree, giving the victim 2 stacks of poison. The second attack is Special Damages, a willpower attack which does no damage and applies the Fees +1 condition to a non-leader. Fees says that whenever the victim does damage with an attack action, they take 1 damage. This condition stacks, so you could have Fees 3, or 5, or 10, which means that the victim would take that much damage should they hurt someone with an attack. does. Fees is good on almost any model, but it has a weird interaction with Armor. If you use it on a model with a lot of Armor, you need to spend a lot of AP to get it to the point where it starts doing more than one damage per trigger. If a model has Armor 2, Fees at one, two, or three stacks will all do the same one point of damage. If you don't feel like dropping 4 or 5 AP to make Fees start doing real damage, just one stack is enough to start chipping away at the Armored model.
His only tactical action is (0) Impassioned Defense, and it requires a 6 of any suit to fire. When it does it gives a target within 12 inches Hard to Wound +1. A Tomes lets you take the action again, but it can't declare triggers. Useful to give people in melee a little extra help, like Lucius or a pinned down Illuminated. There's no reason to not try this every turn, but picking the right targets is important.
Now, boys and girls, I will spin a cautionary tale for you. Using Fees on a model with both Armor and Black Blood is a dumb, dumb idea. Don't do it. I did it against Izamu in a Molly crew, and I had to use Lucius himself to keep Izamu tied up with Red Tape. While Izamu couldn't really hit Lucius, he could turn around and hit other people, which triggered Fees, which triggered Black Blood, which got all over Lucius' nice purple coat. Eventually the Black Blood damage was too much for poor brave Lucius, and he died.
Nobody lived happily ever after.
The Rest of the Lackeys:
Guild Guard - On the early print runs of the Bound By Law box, the Guild Guard stats card does not have the Guardsman characteristic. This is a typo, so you could hire them into a Neverborn Lucius Crew. At 4 stones they are mediocre at everything, but you can bring a lot of them. They follow the Imperial Guard school of thought, where everyone in the army has weak little flashlight-tier laser guns... if you have ten thousand flashlights they might actually hurt something. I ended up giving both of the Guild Guard models from Lucius' starter box to Wyatt, since he could actually use them and I don't want to waste the precious four guardsmen slots on them. If you need shooting, you can get a lot more mileage out of Riflemen, and if you need melee you should be looking at the Illuminated or the Warden. If you are running Guild Lucius (which is incorrect, stop it), I guess you could bring them in a swarm, since they can have up to 6 defense and armor, which is pretty good for a 4 stone model. Their damage is about what you would expect, but they have some good scheme marker interactions.
Primordial Magic - My other go-to totem, the Puke Worm is a real all-star when he just needs to hang around and draw a total of 4 cards over the course of the game. Like I pointed out in the Pandora Tactica, if he draws and discards 4 cards over the course of the game he has been exactly as effective as two extra draw-discards at the start of the turn. If he lives to turn five, that's just extra value. Then, if he turns into a scheme marker for more points, or turns an enemy model insignificant to deny VP, he's just being even more of a hero than he already is. Its very rare for my Primordial Magic to do anything other than walk around to set up an extra point or two for Essence of Malifaux. The main difference in play between the Primordial Magic and the Scribe is that while the Scribe wants to stick close to Lucius, the Primordial Magic can wander off and affect the board in a small way somewhere else. For 2 stones, you can't ask for more.
The Illuminated - Remember how I kept saying that Lucius can get a ton of mileage out of Devil's Deal? These guys are why. With a bunch of wounds, Regen 1, and a reliable self heal, these guys can soak damage all day even if it is ignoring their Armor. I've talked about Illuminated before in my Lynch Tactica. These guys are just stupid nasty good. They charge, they deal damage, they sit in combat forever, and Lucius can support them to do more of what they are already good at. My only gripe is that their Wp is a little low for the Commanding Presence Horror Duel, so you might want to keep a Lawyer nearby to help pass those checks.
I have become obsessed with making these guys ruin someone's day
Guild Riflemen - The Riflemen are the peanut butter to the Illuminated's chocolate. There are a lot of guild models that benefit from Captain Daschel's Ready, Aim, and Fire abilities, but none so much as the Riflemen. For only 5 stones you get a 4 defense, 5 wp model with 5 wounds, and a slow walk of 4. Companion allows them to shoot people without allowing your opponent to respond, but be careful about using all your activations too early, because your opponent could then run around without you being able to react. Firing Line allows the Rifleman to add a single Rams to his Sh if one or more other friendly Guardsmen within a 4 inch aura have already activated. This can only add one Rams, regardless of how many Guardsmen have already activated. Stand and Fire allows the Rifleman to lower their Focus condition by 1 whenever an enemy within 14 inches declares a charge to pop a shot off and damage the charging model for 2 woulds before it starts moving. With two or three Focused Riflemen providing an overwatch on the field, you can really dissuade your opponents from going ham on your models. But how do you justify all that focusing if it just falls off at the end of the turn, you might ask? "Hold!" allows the Riflemen to maintain their focus between turns indefinitely. I think the strongest interaction with this ability is starting them within range of Captain Daschel's "Ready, Aim" ability, focusing for 0 on turn one, then double walking. Once I have the Riflemen parked in a good spot to shoot the hell out of critical targets, I try to continue and milk Daschel for as many free focuses as I can. I have had turns where the Rifleman's entire turn was 0 Focus, 1 Focus, 1 Focus, pass.
But now we get to the best part of a Rifleman: his knife! with a Ml of 4, no triggers, and a range of 1, this 1/2/3 attack action....
Sigh, okay, his Rifle has an incredible 14 inch range, Sh 6, with Critical Strike, a 1/2/4 damage profile, and it adds a Rams when it benefits from the Focused condition. Between the Focus Rams, the Firing Line Rams, and the actual focus itself, just having two of the Riflemen next to each other means you're shooting a 14 inch 3/4/6 with positive to attack and damage. Because of the positive to damage and the fact that 6 is above average for most models defenses, you will often find that you can cheat the damage flip. Be careful about blowing all the cards in your hand if you get too trigger happy, especially if you are in the happy position of shooting two focused shots in one activation. If you happen to flip a Rams on the attack too, your damage goes up to a staggering 4/5/7, and even weak damage will pop a lot of critters. With Lucius' crew, remember that cards in hand are perhaps more valuable than getting the extra 1 or 2 damage, which is the only difference between moderate and severe on this gun.
I think the interactions between the Riflemen and Daschel is so strong, considering that Daschel gives the (0) focus action and a positive twist when firing on enemies within 12 inches that there's no reason to not bring two (maybe three) of the Riflemen with Daschel into a Neverborn list. 19 stones is a lot, but like I said earlier, it is VERY easy to have all your Riflemen firing at 3/4/6 with double positives to attack. Even though the Riflemen are rather slow, if everyone is dead they can still run schemes with a little Lucius support.
Beckoner - As a Mimic, everyone's favorite ladies of negotiable affection benefits from the Mimic keywords that Lucius brings to the table. I don't consider the Beckoners essential to Lucius, but Lure is a fantastic ability, and these girls have one of the best Lures. They have a slightly lower Wp for Commanding Presence checks, but being able to Lure someone when they think they are safe can clinch a key victory point, or get your own dudes into position faster. Double Luring two Riflemen up on turn one might be the difference between having an extra focus on them once they get to the front line, or not.
Doppelganger - Everyone and their mother loves the Doppelganger. I only recently got her and have started playing her, and I can see the power she brings to the table. Considered one of the best Neverborn models, she offers a lot of flexibility in a mid-cost package. For 7 stones you get a mediocre 5 Df and Wp, but with a healthy 8 wounds. 6 walk and charge means the Doppelganger can strut around and get things done. In terms of defense, she has a couple of tricks, the most powerful of which is Manipulative 14. Against most models, that's going to require a 9 or higher to beat, so its pretty difficult to bop the shapeshifter without burning a lot of resources or getting pretty lucky. Likewise, she is never a valid target for randomization when shooting into melee because of the delightfully named Which One is Real?! Fun Fact: this combos with Useless Duplications to make the Doppelganger effectively immune to shooting attack actions (Most Sh attacks, and things like Sonnia's Flameburst and Rasputina's December's Curse). She can also take interact actions while engaged, and considering how hard it is to actually hit her she can hang out in melee for a little bit before getting really slapped. Lastly, she has Ill Omens, which lets you cheat the initiative flip, a model that only Trixibelle out of Gremlins can do. The only time I've brought the Doppelganger was against a Trixibelle, so that ability didn't see much play. But those times when you really need to nail the first activation, Ill Omens is a powerful tool.
Her only printed attack is (1) Fists, Ml 5, 1 inch range, 1/1/2 damage. Because she has to be able to do something on her own. I guess.
Dopplegangers are always fun at parties, so don't leave home without one stalking you!
The real reason we bring the Doppelganger is her tactical actions. Blend In is a (0) act that requires a 7 to fire, and you can apply one of two condition until the end of the turn; Chameleon: all Sh actions against her a negative flip, or A Familiar Face: all Ml actions against her get a negative flip. This is useful if you need to activate her early in the turn to get something done, thus giving up your Manipulative 14 ability to do it. If she is engaged you can pop A Familiar Face and walk right out of those disengaging strikes to lay some markers, or just tank the hell out of someone she has no right to fight. Izamu comes to mind, with his Ruthless that would ignore her Manipulative anyway.
The second and more iconic of her (0) actions is Mimic. Going off on a 7 of any suit, it allows you to copy any (1) action on any non-Leader's card or upgrade that doesn't list a model by name. For the rest of this activation the Doppelganger can use that ability with the original stat and suits, but it can't declare triggers. Sometimes you only need a great attack, like a Mature Nephilim's Monstrous Talons, or to borrow a sniper rifle for a moment, but it can also be used for things like Lure. The Mimic action also comes with a trigger on a Tomes, allowing you to immediately perform the Mimicked action without spending AP, so you could get three AP worth of the ability out of her with a 7 of Tomes or higher. There is also no resist flip, so your opponent's models don't get a chance to say no. The Doppelganger has unparalleled flexibility, and is regarded an all-star in any Neverborn list. So go get yourself one.
Insidious Madness - The new plastic sculpts for these dudes are far and away some of the most complex Wyrd has put out. I'm a huge fan, and as of this writing I'm a little stumped as to how to paint them. That aside, the Madnesses are known as great scheme runners due to their 7 walk and Incorporeal, as well as a respectable defense of 6. For 5 points, these guys are comparable to Terror Tots for all your scheme running purposes. As to which is better, I suppose it depends on personal preference. I find that having a Madness lurking at the edges of the board can turn into a pretty nasty Horror Duel bomb if the enemy gets to clumped up, but they just aren't as fast a full-speed Terror Tot. He has no real synergy or anti-synergy with Lucius, but he does have an average Wp of 5, so once he is out of range of the Lawyer's horror duel buff aura, expect to cheat to get some extra walks from Commanding Presence.
Terror Tot - Like the Madnessess, these guys have 5 WP and a good hustle. Getting the extra Sprint with the Masks trigger is nice, but it might end up being card intensive. Given the choice, I'd give the nod to the Insidious Madness model as a slightly better scheme runner, but your mileage may vary.
Austringers - You'll notice that on Lucius' card it specifies that he can't give orders to Austringers. It was determined in beta testing that it was just too disgustingly good. However, you can still run them with Neverborn Lucius (because they are Guardsmen) and have his Commanding Presence work on them, and then when you win the game you can head down to the local animal shelter and mock the puppies and kittens that didn't get adopted because you're obviously a person that is ugly on the inside.
On the plus side, the models for these guys are really really cool
Guild Pathfinder - I don't have any experience with this guy, but there is some synergy between him and Lucius. He can lay down traps that Lucius could bop with Devil's Deal to get free stones. The traps are 2 stones a pop, so there's already a loss there if you hire them intitally. While the Pathfinder can make traps once per turn as a zero act, and his shooting improves with them around, it seems like a lot of resources that could be used elsewhere. Granted, I haven't actually tried the combo out, so I may be wrong, but in Neverborn I think the Illuminated are a more reliable source of Devil's Deal stones, especially if you have spread it out between two or three of the little crackheads.
Warden - This is a robot that I am very interested in grabbing when it comes out in plastic. It seems custom built to play well with Lucius, because it has a built in positive flip for Horror Duels and is a Guardsman. With 5 Df and Wp, 6 wounds, Armor 1 and the Grind to a Halt trigger, he has some solid melee and shooting attacks. Its a ironclad package for 6 stones, and I could easily see one making it into a Neverborn Lucius list.
Master Queeg - Straight out of book three, Shifting Loyalties, Master Queeg is another new model that I'm excited to get my hands on. He acts very much like a mini-Lucius. For 7 stones you get a Henchman with 5 df, 6 wp, and 7 wounds. Normal Wk/Cg of 5/6, but with a little extra mobility from his Sadistic Streak, which lets him smack a friendly model within 6 inches for 1 damage and then push 3 inches. He has Hard to Kill to make up for his mediocre defense, but the real gem is Put the Fear In 'em. Much like Lucius, when he completes a walk he can force a friendly minion within 6 inches to make a TN 12 Horror Duel. If they succeed, they can immediately take a (0) act. You know who likes taking damage and also taking (0) acts? The Illuminated! There's not a whole ton of Minions with built in (0) acts, although some good Neverborn dudes jump to mind, like the Silurid's Leap, the Depleted's Drawn to the Light, or the Changeling's In the Blink of an Eye. Probably one of the strongest (0) acts you would be taking though, is if you had a list that was Master Queeg, Captain Daschel, and two Guild Riflemen. You'd need to leave the Lawyer at home, but making the Riflemen get an extra couple of focus seems great. But when we aren't in Magical Christmasland, (or if you're playing Guild, I guess) I think that Master Queeg would be a better henchman for Lucius in a list that had 2 or 3 Illuminated, a Lawyer, and less shooting. In my mind, Queeg supports a more melee oriented list, since his area of influence is small and he also wants to be on the front lines. Daschel supports a more shooty list, which can be great in Neverborn, but not always what you need, schemes depending.
Queeg has some nasty attacks. His Taskmaster's Whip is 6 (Masks), with a 3 inch range and a 1/3/5 profile. He has four triggers: Critical Strike on Rams, Seize Contraband, where the enemy discards a card and you draw one on Tomes, "Back to Work!" on the built in Masks, which pushes the victim 3 inches, and on Crows you get Kneecap, which gives the victim Slow. He is a Henchman, so burning a stone for a specific suit is viable. The 6 Ml is pretty high, so it'll also stick most times you swing it. I think the low damage is only a 1 in the case that you want to whip one of your friendly models to get the 3 inch push that is built in. Remember that you can always have your models relent to a friendly attack, which counts as a tie. Flipping at a double negative will pretty much ensure that you'll only hit your guy for 1 damage, but the extra 3 inches of movement might be the difference between scoring a VP and not.
He also has a Peacebringer pistol, Sh 6, range 10, with a 2/3/5 damage profile. It has the Critical Strike and Kneecap triggers like his whip. Straightforward, but welcome in a Neverborn crew.
His last ability gives the Put the Fear In 'em ability a lot more legs. A (1) act, "Welcome To Hell, And I Am Your Devil." requires a 5 to cast, and it allows all friendly models within a 6 inch aura to take (1) Interact actions as (0) instead. Remember that he has to be within range, so using it and then walking to force a friendly to make the horror duel might require a bit of delicate placement. This synergizes even more with Lucius' scheme marker plans and Queeg has the added benefit of synergizing with guys you are probably taking with Lucius anyway. He might become my go-to Henchman for Lucius, depending on the quality of his play.
Guild Hound - While these pups are technically Guardsmen, Lucius can only bring in 4 when he's wearing purple. Probably best if they stayed in your Guild lists.
Guard Sergeant - The Guard Sergeant seems pretty solid for his cost, and he grants all friendly Guardsmen within 6 inches a positive flip to all Wp duels. That is admittedly more powerful than the Lawyer's Horror Duel specific buff aura, but it only affects Guardsmen, so the Illuminated are on their own. In Neverborn, the Lawyer is the superior choice.
Mounted Guard - If it weren't for the Illuminated's healing, I would consider the Mounted Guard as a strong secondary replacement. One of the funny interactions here is that the Mounted Guard can Cavalry Charge, bringing in another unit with charge 7 or more along for the ride. The Illuminated have charge 8, so they can obviously run like crackheads and keep up with a sprinting horse. Unfortunately, I don't think they are worth bringing into a Neverborn list either.
Candy - Candy is a delightful girl, but I don't think she has any real synergy with Lucius. She is a henchman, so cannot benefit from his support abilities. She can heal, and the Illuminated might really appreciate some sweets from her goody basket. She may be a powerful piece to bring into a Guild list alongside a Beckoner and a Doppelganger, but 9 points is a lot to spend on a unit that doesn't offer much synergy.
Changeling - The main thing about these little guys is that they can passively copy the attacks of units nearby them. For 4 stones, they can mimic the (1) attack action of any model within 3 inches, but it has a stat of 4 with no suits. They can get the entire text or the Guild Riflemen's Guard Rifle attack, but without a Critical Strike trigger it won't do them much good. The really interesting thing is their Surprise! ability, which functions like a ranged Pounce, letting them make free attacks whenever an enemy model ends a push or move actions that wasn't part of a Walk or Charge within their attack range. The Guard Rifle has a range of 14 inches. While a shot at Sh4 isn't that exciting, two or even three of them might add up. These guys are cheap, and I'm not sold on if they are worth it or not, but they may very well be good. They have 4 wounds and Regeneration 1, so they could even eat a Devil's Deal and stay upright, then eat another a few turns later, if they stick around. I'll need to test it. If you guys have any cool stories or synergies with the Changelings, please tell me in the comments!
Mr. Graves - This dude is a just a huge beater Enforcer. Besides being a mimic and a good bruiser for 8 stones, there's not a lot of synergy with Lucius. For the cost you might be better off with another Illuminated, or 1.6 Guild Riflemen.
Mr. Tannen - I really like this guy, and I'm not sure why. He doesn't do too much, and he doesn't offer much board control, but he sits in the middle of a fight and wastes the opponent's time and cards. Tannen is a mediocre control piece, but he does something that no one else can do (Except the Insidious Madness, sort of) and so he might be worth bringing in certain games where you expect people to bunch up. Being an enforcer, he doesn't benefit from Lucius' abilities too much.
How Lucius Actually Wins the Game:
Lucius is not considered one of the strongest masters. He doesn't have quite as much control as other masters in the game, and he is a little restrictive and punishes you for flipping poorly. His suite of abilities is a little light, but it is important to judge him as a master that plays the game, instead of in a vacuum. He can win games, but it might not be as easy as with some others like the Dreamer or Colette. Even if you won't see him topping tournament lists, he is still a fun and solid master when he is playing the game he wants to play. Keep the following schemes and strategies in mind when considering if Lucius is the right master to bring to the table:
Reckoning: Generally Reckoning games turn into an Elite Crew beat-'em-up, because you can easily deny your opponent VP by bring in three or four huge, tough enforcers or henchmen. Coming in with lots of minions opens you up to having them die, granting your opponent that precious VP. Because Lucius loves bringing Minions, which typically aren't as tough as named enforcer characters, I feel that he is at a distinct disadvantage in Reckoning games.
Reconnoiter: With his ability to influence friendly models up to 14 and 18 inches away using Issue Command and Commanding Presence, respectively, I feel that Lucius can make his influence felt far across a scattered Reconnoiter board. Zoraida has always been my go-to for Recon, because she can obey people all over the map to cause trouble, but Lucius has the edge on her in range. He can't Obey an enemy unit into the middle of the map to invalidate their scoring, but he can Command a Beckoner to Lure one. Reconnoiter is probably Lucius' strongest Strategy for this reason.
Controlling land and people is what Lucius lives to do!
Turf War: Keeping everyone bunched up in the middle allows Lucius to bring his full suit of support tools to bear, while still Commanding people on the outskirts to score points from Schemes. Illuminated love being in a fight (especially with Elite Training) but once the brawl starts you might find your Riflemen in the back having to shoot into a melee, which can lead to awkward questions at the afterparty. Like, "why did you shoot me, you dick?" Turf War is a strong Strategy for Lucius.
Stake a Claim: Similar to Turf War, having Lucius speed up the entire freaking crew means you can grab more claim markers faster than your opponent, plus his control abilities have the range to stretch over the entire line if he is parked in the center of the map. Remember to not let him get too exposed though, because Lucius will fold to a concentrated attack.
Lucius is good at scoring schemes that require mobility, positioning, and scheme markers. Its easy for him to make a few What Lackeys Are For casts over the course of a game to be deep in enemy territory to score things like Entourage, Breakthrough, Power Ritual, and Protect Territory, while still supporting his units in the fray and keeping the enemy tied up so they can't stop him.
He's come a long way since being a henchman in first edition
His weaknesses are schemes that require a lot of fighting. I think that Bodyguard can be hard to score, as Lucius prefers having a lot of Minions. While he is tough his defensive suite doesn't make him immune to Assassinate. If you see Assassinate on the table, play smart and keep a full sack of stones, and use Highest Authority liberally. He cannot really assist in fighty Schemes like Make Them Suffer or Murder Protege because he can't contribute noticible damage on his own. Depending on how gung-ho you are, you might be able to support your minions into killing an enemy henchman, but its not a cakewalk like if you had someone with assassinate, or a master that could really bring the hurt.
As a parting thought, minions are designed to be good at one thing. They might not be as flexible as enforcers, or as strong as henchmen, but the one thing they are good at doing, they can do well. Riflemen will always be great shots. Illuminated will always be great beaters. Silurids will always be amazing scheme runners. Lawyers will always be pedantic jerks. With Lucius' help, they can be even better at all the things they are already good at, and maybe they can be okay at other things too. If Lucius dies, your minions will still be good at doing what they want to do, and you can still win games with quality models even if Lucius somehow gets deleted. Unlike some support masters, Lucius' game doesn't fall apart if he isn't there. Weirdly enough, he is very very helpful, but not totally critical. He is the supercharge to your minion's engines, but not the engine itself. Pick the right tools for the job, get them working more efficiently than your opponents, and the job will get done.
If you think my analysis of Malifaux's Finest Liar is good, tell me in the comments! If I'm full of crap and don't know what I'm talking about, tell me in the comments! Do you think I should cover a specific Master next? Say so! Hit me up @dkjolner on Twitter, and check out our Patreon or Facebook if you like what we're doing. We need to keep bribing the Guild to stay open, after all.