Thursday, January 29, 2015

Wicked Games: Beginners Guide to Zoraida

Pretty sure she doesn't belong to a sewing circle
The Swamp Hag has not been an easy Master for me to get a solid grasp of. She presents a large and varied hiring pool and has a complicated list of abilities and upgrades. However, as I've learned to play her, the tricks that Zoraida can pull off are fantastic. I'm of course going to be looking at her from a Neverborn perspective even though she can play as a Gremlin also. In this post I'm going to visit the Bayou and learn how to do the voodoo that she do so well.

Dolls are Creepy
Malifaux Acupuncture
Ok so lets talk about the aspect of Zoraida that is the most important right out of the bag. She summons Voodoo Dolls. Why does a tiny little Insignificant Doll terrify your opponent as much as it does? Because of their ability to Hem Fate. Zoraida can spend 2 AP to summon a Doll who then Hems Fate immediately on a target. Once that ability lands, any condition or damage done to the Doll is transferred onto the targeted model until the Doll dies.  This is one of the strongest powers in the Zoraida arsenal as she can do any amount of tricky and mean things with the Doll after that. Want the model to sit where it is and do nothing for a turn? Hit the Doll with Paralyze and watch their Beat Stick collect dust. Want it to go down in a fiery inferno? Inflict the Burning condition on the Doll. At the end of the turn the model will take damage from its burning AND the doll's condition. (Same goes for Poison). The most fun thing is, that if the Doll is healed, it is ready for dishing out more pain and your opponent will more than likely be scared to mess with it, so you can leave the doll out in the open as a taunt.


Next to Lure, Obey might be the most hated ability in all of Malifaux. For only one her AP Zoraida can force a model to use one of its 1AP actions. Is a squishy enemy model standing next to a friendly bruiser. Force
some betrayal and smack that model off the board. Is that model in engagement range of the Doll? Force it to swing for the fences and put some damage on the Hemmed model. Want an extra Lure from a Beckoner, Take Your Meds from a friendly Nurse or a heal from a friendly Candy? Pop Obey on them, they won't resent it..much.
At first glance, Obey seems like it is something you want to play on the enemy as much as possible, but the truth is that Zoraida is not a front lines, stay out in the front kind of girl. Using it on your own troops from the back generally proves safer and sometimes more efficient.  That being said, getting the chance to use it on an opponent's model is always fun. Obey can be used defensively too if an enemy model is in charge range, just make the 1 AP action be a walk that gets it far away from Zoraida or move one of your own models to block the charge and set up a beat down when they activate. Thanks to a suggestion from the A Wyrd Place Facebook group, another great option for Obey is to force an enemy model to attack one of your terrifying models and cheat in a low card for an effectively free Paralyze.  (Extra note: The A Wyrd Place group is fantastic and I highly recommend any Malifaux player to look into them as an amazing community resource.)

This ability will have your opponent doing 1 of 2 things. Either they will gun for the old woman as quickly as possible or they will go out of their way to stay out of range. Anyone who's played against Zoraida knows that a group of squishies clumped near a beat stick with low WP is begging from swamp style mind control.

Oh this ability. Many opponents will be terrified of Obey, and they will respect the Voodoo Doll but most vastly underestimate how good Bewitched is. An enemy model who is Bewitched lets Zoraida draw 2 cards whenever they Walk, Charge or Attack. Its pretty important to know that limited resources are always good to have, in Malifaux every card in your hand is a potential Red Joker as far as your opponent is concerned. Card advantage is a very real thing and Bewitched gives you a lot of control over whether your win or lose duels as the turn goes on and you are gaining cards while your opponent loses them.
Note: Combining Bewitched with Obey is a purely evil thing that can net you 4 cards if you hit the enemy model twice, and I highly approve of these types of shenanigans if your starting to run low on cards during your turn and there are still some significant things to do in the rest of the turn.  Zoraida is a control oriented caster who leaves the dirty work to her crew, spending her turn to draw you 4 cards and move a model that is useful to the enemy to an unwanted section of the board is a very solid way to spend her 3 AP.

Does Not Play Well With Others

Zoraida has a huge WP but a low Def and pretty decent amount of wounds. She does not do well to sustained pressure. Enemy models can and will take her down if they get to her. She does possess a few saving graces that can help her out of a tight spot. Proper Manners is a defensive ability that gives any enemy model attacking her a negative flip on the attack unless they have the Focus condition. Therefore most models that have to charge or walk to get to Zoraida are going to have a decently hard time landing a hit. When combined with her other defensive ability, Regret. On a Mask flip, if an opponent does severe or moderate damage to her, that model's activation immediately ends. This happens even if she uses a stone for
He doesn't play fair.
a healing flip. All in all, these two abilities should keep her out of harms way for most melee models. She gets into trouble when assassins are involved though. I learned the hard way how nasty Hans is against Zoraida, as he can focus as his first action, shoot and then doesn't care that he has to stop after the hit. If your opponent is fielding a sharp shooting sniper get Zoraida well hidden because she will go down quickly.

Repulsive is an ability that Zoraida has forces TN 17 WP duels or be pushed outside of 6" of her. This is great if she finds herself in a bad situation and doesn't have Animal Shape to rely on. It doesn't get used very often but it comes in handy during certain situations.

I should mention that Zoraida has a limited upgrade that is called Animal Shape, which allows her to be placed anywhere within 15". This ability is both offensive and defensive in nature, allowing her to get to a good position to Obey and a way to get out of dodge. Taking this upgrade keeps you from getting Crystal Ball though, which is a fantastic upgrade as well.

Crystal Ball

So one of my favorite upgrades with Zoraida is Crystal Ball. This gives you choices at the beginning of her activation. You can draw a card, force your opponent to discard a random card, or peek at a deck and see whats on top. The tough choice is that you give up Animal Shape, which is Zoraida's only movement trick.
It really comes down to what you want Zoraida to do for you in a game. Is she going to be Obeying enemies and causing havoc around the board? Animal Shape is for you. Is she going to sit back and play with her dolls? Then she shouldn't leave home without her crystal ball.

Never Ask Whats In A Lady's Purse

Hex bag is Zoraida's upgrade and it is a utility (0) attack that makes good use of her diminutive totem by adding conditions loaded with triggers. She can dish out 2 damage, Burning+2, Poison +2, and stop soul stone usage for a turn. You mainly want to dump these on her Voodoo Doll and by circumstance an unlucky Hemmed model to put some damage on it. This can be used directly on an enemy model, but hopefully you don't have Zoraida in a position where she's in that kind of trouble.

Upgrade Options

Zoraida can take any of the other Neverborn upgrades as well, but only one stands out if you have room for it. Hexed Among You allows up to 3 swampfiends to infiltrate the enemy side of the board at the beginning of the game which is awesome for getting your own schemes rolling or setting Waldgeists in very annoying spots. On Dreaming Wings

Scheming and Strategizing

Zoraida is not a reliably murderous Master. She sets a lot of the heavy lifting on the shoulders of her crew, though a Voodoo doll can wreak havoc on one model a turn, it costs her 2 AP to summon it back and that's not incredibly efficient. Since Zoraida can bring a Nurse, I like to just find a model and paralyze it for the rest of the game instead. However, a lucky Voodoo Doll can help you achieve Murder Protege very effectively.   Since she often employs Silurids many of the movement based schemes (Power Ritual, Breakthrough, Line in the Sand) work for her as well.

Strategy wise, my favorite for her is Reconnoiter. Using Obey to walk a model that has already been activated to close to the center or out of a quadrant all together can leave your opponent very frustrated. She is fun for Turf War as well for the same reasons, though it does force her to be closer to the action. I wouldn't recommend taking her for this Strategy if you don't take the Animal Shape upgrade for a quick escape. Unless you bring a particularly kill focused crew, I would say that the only Strategy she doesn't do as well in is Reckoning.


So that's most of my Zoraida insights so far. Outside of Lilith she is probably the most adaptable Master in the Neverborn Arsenal (props do go to Lucius but I have very little experience with him). Once your enemies learn the proper respect for Obey and Bewitch they will attempt to gun her down every time. Just be aware that even with her impressive defensive abilities, Zoraida will go down quickly under concentrated fire. Keep her safe. For the newer player, I'd recommend the safety net that is Animal Shape until you get a good feel for how to keep her well hidden. Zoraida is pretty complex, and wouldn't be my first choice for a player brand new to Malifaux or minis in general, but there's honestly not a straight forward Neverborn master, so if you are starting with the monsters of Malifaux, she's good to have in the arsenal.

Until next time, Keep Cheating Fate-- John Fox

I know Zoraida experts will be pointing out that I left a huge part of the Zoraida tactics out of this post, her impressive pool of models to choose from. This is intentional and will be covered in the next post. Zoraida more than most Masters needs a full blog to talk about all the choices she can bring to the table. So next week we'll take a look at those that owe a debt to the Swamp Hag. 

1 comment:

  1. I played my first game with Zoraida yesterday against a Pandora player. We're both new so it was a long game but Zoraida is the first master I've actually 'clicked' with.

    I used Hexed Among Us to throw Bad Juju into my opponents front lines straight away. I lost him quickly but panicked my opponent through being so aggressive. Then he read what Eternal Fiend did and so went out of his way not to kill anything else allowing me to just block him whilst achieving strategies and throwing voodoo dolls at him. 'Twas a good game.

    One question though, I've got the Swamp Hags boxed set and some Waldgeists. I've got a nurse although I've not used her yet, but what do you recommend for expanding my crew? I'm sticking to plastics so I've not picked up any Gupps yet, do you have any suggestions? I like to keep things themed if possible but I'm open to most any really.