After my, lets keep it family friendly, absolutely soul crushing and face wreaking defeat at the hands of Mo11usq (Awesome guy btw, check out the battle report here) I thought I would re-approach the drawing board and redefine for myself what is best used for each scheme and strategy. My weakness is "shiny new model" syndrome, I recently bought the shadow effigy as a means to improve my scheme running and give greater options but if you've watched Mo11usq's battle report you might ask yourself why I brought the Effigy to a game where Line in the Sand was the ONLY marker related scheme. My answer: I wanted to play with the new model I just brought. It's one of those things I have to train myself out of; in Malifaux, almost every model is a valid choice but sooner or later you'll find that a sub-section of models do the job more consistently each time than other models.
Thus this write-up, Strategies for the most part are either tough models, lots of cheap models or tough models with cheap model support, so we'll give them a pass. What's important now is what models from my box of fun work best with what schemes? Let's take a look:
A Line in the Sand - aka MARKERS! I AM THE LORD OF SCHEME MARKERS!
For the most part, my web of Toshiro, Punk Zombie and Komainu (+ any summons) should be well versed in placing a few markers down in-between death dealing but a couple of Torakage on the flanks would be good insurance. Shadow Effigy is amazing for this IF you happen to have some spare 10's in your hand or get real lucky.
Breakthrough/Plant Evidence - aka You know that one guy who's been staying out of combat?...
Torakage are my go-to scheme runners, but if they aren't together they die pretty darn quickly. Their speed is their saving grace but even if you take three walk actions and throw down a scheme marker with the help of Daddy Toshiro and Uncle Effigy, the scheme marker in question still needs protecting until the end game. So really it comes down to either Yan himself, or keeping the ninja hidden until turn 4&5. Really though, so long as the crew has been moving up all game, any model can finish these schemes within reason.
Assassinate - aka Who am I facing? Welp, not doing this scheme then!
Assassinate is really difficult for some masters, and at least a bother to those who can do it. The thing is, the mass majority of Malifaux masters are nearly impossible to take down either due to their defenses or simply being far far away nuking any threats before they can get within killing distance. Even the ones who do go down easily take a lot of AP to do so. Yan Lo is not a killy master and most masters would love it if you thunder dance'd them into a fairly defenseless yet powerful henchman, so this scheme is essentially blank for all intents and purposes.
Protect Territory - aka Reveal and score 3 Victory Points NEXT!
There have been discussions on just how to improve Protect Territory in order for it to be a challenge or not so auto-include. Are you 6" away from your deployment? or in other words, have you moved since turn one? Wait until turn 4 or 5 and slap down a marker. I have never seen Protect Territory not taken unless my opponent was making a point on not relying on it, but 3Vp is 3Vp right?
Bodyguard - aka - Everyone forgets the distance restriction.
Right now I have 2 solid options for Bodyguard: Chiaki, for her incorporeal and generally staying out of the way; and Yin, because you put Yin in cover and occasionally heal her and she never ever dies ever.
Heck I'll be willing to include both in a list just to keep my opponent assuming I'm body-guarding Toshiro (who is an awful bodyguard target). The thing myself and everyone playing Malifaux has to remember is that "More than 8" away from deployment" so often players forget this. Always aim to get the bodyguard over the halfway line and keep it busy, nothing more suspect than a tough model who's scheme running...
Distract - aka It's like Take Prisoner, but all game.
Distract in theory, my crew can do rather well. Thunder dance an activated target next to Komainu and attack to slow it, then hit Distract. That gives you half of what you need for two turns which is 1/6th of what you need Vp wise for the whole game. Theory has a way of fooling us like that though. What if Komainu fluffs the attack? What if the Komainu gets killed early or get's distracted himself? It takes a lot of effort to Distract an enemy without being distracted back and at that point it's a zero sum game. I tend to avoid Distract unless the scheme pool is THAT bad that it becomes my only option.
Cursed Object - aka Activated? I'll take a Vp thank you.
I love Cursed Object but I hate Cursed Object. It practically turns into a game of whack-a-mole in terms of trying to win with it. If both players choose it, it's basically zero sum once again. I activate, throw a cursed object on everyone in range who activated, you activate and do the same, repeat. Any model in my crew can do this scheme and I'll normally take it to retain that zero-sum, although with the average Wk speed of my crew being Wk5, having to find a 7 to cheat to unbalance the scales is hard to do.
Outflank - aka Arrgh I can't even.
Reserve two tough killy models, be forced to reveal it as it's one of those pesky 2Vp schemes that you want full points from. Then have them run the flanks and ensure that everyone that goes near them dies of mysterious circumstances and pray to whatever higher power you believe in that you can keep this up all game. With so many good and easy ways to gain Vp in this game, you have to be either full out of options of FAAR too optimistic (like I was in Mo11usq's game). I have tried to play this scheme a handful of times but it is far to un-forgiving to be worthwhile.
Entourage - aka I place Yan Lo 8" over here turn 5.
It's terribly inefficient but I use Bone Ascendant as a 2ap place action if it means scoring Vp. Yes it's a cop-out but when you have an 8" place action on an incorporeal model who generally speaking is well over the halfway line anyway, why the heck not?
Vendetta/Murder Protege - aka I better use a Sniper for this.
Vendetta is better suited for Katanaka Snipers over all others, which make him obvious but effective, having that 28" range you can hit your vendetta turn one potentially then it's just a case of ensuring the same Sniper gets the killing blow by game end. Murder Protege in the pool, why not have it be the same target? The sniper can wittle their health down early. If this means roughing the target up then Lo handing him to the sniper in melee so be it.
Plant Explosives/Spring the Trap - aka Toshiro's going to use them for Focus, honest.
Walk up, lay down 3 scheme markers then Thunder Dance. Never really that easy but in practice, near as. Shadow Effigy leads a hand to stop the 4" interact restriction being too much of a pain but for Lilith and Yan Lo in particular, Plant Explosives is on easy mode. Spring the Trap is slightly hard if only due to not always wanting to have a Master in the middle of your models but if their is no murder schemes in the pool, do it for the Vp late game.
Make them Suffer - aka Ora Ora Ora Ora Ora Ora Ora Ora Ora....
This scheme is a tricky one, Yan Lo has a hardy crew with giving enemies a lot of negatives to attacks with armor and hard to kill to share a few, but a fairly fragile crew at the same time with some if not all it's survivability due to Chiaki's condition removal, minor heal & Lo's superior heal. Lo can pull out the laser pointer of death, yes, but consistently twice every turn? Not so much, I play a death of a thousand stings tar pit style with the odd take-down being random in determination. This of course makes MTS a tough choice when other better schemes are available and gives an advantage to my opponent more often than not.
Deliver a Message - aka Candygram for Yan Lo. Candygram for Yan Lo.
My two mosh pit masters: Yan Lo & Ironsides hate this scheme because even before game start, I'm giving away 3vp. 3Vp gone just like that. If I play to defend against this then I lose a lot of momentum and my opponent can simply outplay me. This is due to the nature of Thunder Dance, the target gets thrown to a nearby ally yes, but then I'm sitting near the rest of the opponent's crew, what happens then? I need to win every. single. Thunder Dance to ensure no model ever get's engaged with Lo and that's hard work. Even with Ca8 at some point a black joker is going to turn up or my opponent cheats a 13 or any number of scenarios. Thunder dance is a 95% hit rate yes but 5% is all your opponent needs to activate and make a mockery of the postal service.
On the other hand, dependent on the master across the table and if I'm fairly confident that it won't be to my detriment, I will throw a Master to a minion capable of processed tree bark communications and grab an easy 3vp. Even if it is to zero-sum the score.
Take Prisoner - aka Oh yeah, I'm facing Yan Lo aren't I?
Yan Lo win's this.
Okay, not so easy but when you have a Ca8 place action with a model renowned for his survivability, the same ability that allows him to shoo away any other models. It's pretty easy to see why Lo doesn't have a hard time with Take Prisoner. The difficulty lays in choosing the model and that can be tricky sometimes. I will personally go for the toughest SOB on the table and tar pit the ever loving jazz out of it but sometimes the utility model sitting in deployment is the better option due to it not being in the thick of it. Either way, Yan Lo himself or a surviving minion makes short work of Take Prisoner.
Frame for Murder - aka - Dead man walking... and shooting... and clubbing you over the head...
Frame for murder is very simple on paper. Get a dude killed. Thing is, in practice, trying to tell your opponent to murder someone on purpose without telling them is...a pain. You've got a choice, either have a minion take the role and walk on up making less than desirable plays or have a tough menace to society barrel through and do just enough to make an impact without taking TOO many heads. It's a fine balance and another candidate for, you guessed it, Zero Sum. It's possible to go a whole game without killing anything but that's a hard fought game.
Power Ritual - aka Power Ritual.
I love me some Power Ritual, it gives risk and reward a hearty shoot of adrenaline and something I have to tell myself isn't an auto-take. Two Torakages playing safe will normally be my MVPs during this but I have to ensure they can get to the other corners and that might mean taking Yamaziko for a spin if only to allow them access to their Wall-n-Bamf ability. I love how it interacts so well with the battle field and in a game that's going well, is almost unstoppable. Then it becomes a mental game of the Waltz if both players have taken it, it gets ridiculously tense by end game and I love it!
There you have it, my humble opinion on what my crew should be doing with Malifaux's schemes, hopefully writing this down will give me better understanding of what I should be bringing and not let that shiny new model I quickly glued together take the limelight in a show it shouldn't be in.
Take care and have fun out there.