Thursday, February 5, 2015

Animal House: Marcus Indepth


Welcome back to my series of tactics articles on the Beast Master Marcus! Just a reminder, this is based on my own observations, discussions and play time so I will probably come back and update these periodically as I gain more experience with Marcus and learn from others. I also wanted to give a break down of how I will be grading models using a scale for Strategies and Schemes. I say this as some factions can be a a hard counter for a Master, but if you focus on trying to complete the Strategies and Schemes you can look at the models in a vacuum.  

5.0 - All Star in this Strategy or Scheme
4.0 - Staple Choice for these types of Strategy or Scheme
3.5 - Very Good in the Strategy or Scheme
3.0 - Good at the Strategy or Scheme
2.5 - Average at the Strategy or Scheme
2.0 - Has some bright moments at the Strategy or Scheme
1.0 - You should probably pick another Master/Model/Upgrade

These are subject to change so bear with me as I try this out. Remember this is talking about models in a VACUUM. Crew construction for various Strategies and Schemes will be a different article series in the future.  

The Break Down

Marcus is the swiss army knife of masters in that he can be built pretty much to fit any situation. Let's first take a look at the stats. He has average Df/Wp/Wd/Wk, and his Cg is pretty which is extended by a 2" melee that lets him get up the board to attack or engage. Marcus also has a sweet little Df trigger for beasts as well as Unimpeded to move through all the various terrain types. He has the ability to reach out of faction for the entire animal kingdom which is made more lethal by access to Chain Activation. This makes for a lot of versatility in regards to movement which helps to protect himself in a pinch. Marcus has an average damage track with a great trigger for fueling other abilities such as the dreaded Alpha. The uses of Alpha are more than I can summarize here but it offers offensive and defensive applications depending on the need at the time. Darzee's Chant is a great 0 ability that gives you the chance to go on offense with a, really go on the offensive! It is one of those dual abilities that can affect the "beast" type model. I tend to use it on my opponents models as I can plan around them activating then getting Chanted so they only get the debuff and the buff doesn't help them at all. Can we say IT'S CLOBBERIN' TIME!? This last ability gives Marcus some degree of control against opposing models and using this on an opposing melee beatstick can control the flow of the game.

Ratings for Marcus in Strategies

 I will be honest, I love Marcus and feel he is great with most any Strategy or Scheme, but I will mention things that may not be as favorable for him.

Turf War - 4.0 - With a strong Df trigger and reach, Marcus can get up there and hold his ground. If he wants he can even fire off 3 Laws of Meat after engaging multiple enemies just so they can't hurt him.  

Reckoning - 2.5(3.5) - On his own with no upgrades (like that will ever happen), Marcus isn't very good at killing things. He can make good use of Alpha after hitting someone with the Shillelagh and have them do his dirty work.

Squatter's Rights - 3.5 - Much like Turf War, Marcus can reach out and touch people with a solid attack. His solid Wk also allows him to get somewhere in a hurry.

Reconnoiter - 3.5(5.0) - Not as fast as some Masters, but enough to get around the board with 3 AP worth of Wk actions. With the right upgrades, he can really be a highly mobile Master.

Stake a Claim - 4.0(5.0) - Due to moving and interacting, Marcus can really shine here.

Ratings for Schemes

I will be placing schemes in groups much like those located at the Malifaux Wiki. 

Killing Schemes - 2.5(4.0) Marcus is solid, but not a stone cold killer without upgrades.

Marker Schemes - 3.0 (5.0) He has a decent Wk and Cg, but once again with upgrades goes to crazy levels for marker placement.

Miscellaneous - 3.0 (5.0) I'm on the fence here as it is totally dependent on the situation. As I get more playtime with Marcus, I will be leaning more on the side of a 5.0 as you can tailor him to any scheme more so than a lot of Masters.  


This is the bread and butter of what Marcus is and does. I feel he has some of the best upgrades in the game not to mention access to Arcanists' amazing suite of upgrades. Rating these on a scale will be difficult as they are useful in any set of Strategies and Schemes so I will just discuss them and what I like about them.

The Hunger Cry - Very utility based and a great control upgrade. If my opponent is Neverborn I always take it (sorry John) because it is amazing against WP based crews. I will have to give more consideration to other factions as I get more games in, but looking at the upgrade as a whole it feels great against most opponents. Especially when paired with Alpha. This upgrade is really solid no matter the Strategy or Scheme so I feel like rating it would be ineffectual to tell its real power.

Feral Instincts - This upgrade makes The Hunger Cry even better. It allows double (0)s and then sets up the opponent to get some debuffs along the way. Usually I will try and pair these together if I take one of them. However, I have learned that there are some situations to take just one. For example, if I know that my opponent isn't using a Wp heavy Master or crew I can drop Hunger Cry and just use this to power up my Alphas. Ultimately, it will be hard for me not to take both as I have had such good results when combining these upgrades together.

Pack Leader - Not an Upgrade that is Marcus required but worth mentioning here. It's another upgrade that is pointed towards Wp duels but this punishes an opponent for failing. The Hunger Cry makes it even more difficult for them to win the duel. Most of the time, I'll throw it on a forward tanky model i.e. Cojo, Slateridge Mauler, Blessed of December and sometimes even a Razorspine Rattler. I have considered using it on Marcus on occasion, but the demand for better upgrades on my Master tend to rule it out.

The Trail of the Gods - We are now getting to the first of two upgrades that really define Marcus. The ability to pick something for a situation is what sets both of these 2 upgrades apart. Trail of the Gods is more combat output centered and we get to see Marcus become a very strong melee beatstick. His damage line goes from ok to "I don't care what flip you get." The only downside to the damage buff is that it doesn't ignore armor. We also notice that he can get anywhere he needs to go with the increase to Wk and this has been very useful for contesting or claiming certain Strategies and Schemes.The final ability grants more attacks which is always a welcome thing.The bonus is that at the price of some Fate Cards you can get multiple abilities to do all the powers at once. This can get a little out of hand as I have seen my man generate Reckoning points on his own and then the rest of the crew handle other objectives. We call this playing in the sprinkler folks.

The God's Domain - This is the support version of Marcus. If you want to hang back for a while with Marcus this is what you will choose. It has build in regen as well as great accuracy and helpsMarcus support his beast army with precision. He can also move in and finish off models his crew whittled down. Its an interesting upgrade because you get lots of highly accurate attacks from the backlines which can catch players off guard. I find that gaining the Df buff and rusing the front is good enough to keep most players honest.

Arcanist Upgrades - These next group of upgrades are all mostly "win more" options in my opinion with the exception of Arcane Reservoir. Reservoir helps to fuel his two most powerful upgrades (but doesn't it for every Arcanist Master?) so you can get 2 abilities a turn from Trail and Domain. Imbued Protection isn't really needed so much for Marcus because Domain is better and Imbued Energies is better on other models that I have played (Myranda). I could see a use for Recharge Soulstone but I would have to test it first. The Philosopher's Stone is cute but the Marcus only upgrades are more consistent. Though it would be neat to take Philosopher's Stone and Trail together just to get the Df buff and the damage output, I think using SS takes away from some important triggers for his base abilities. Seize the day could be nice but it uses up an important slot on Marcus. Maybe if you are in a lower point game it could be good on Myranda, but not for the main man himself.

The End?

 I hope that this gives a better insight into how I view my main Master. As I play more games my thoughts will continue to evolve. Right now I am still very new in my understanding of Malifaux and the best ways to win with Marcus. I truly love his versatility and as I start to review his beast choices, I hope that you can also gain a better understanding of how to play with and against the Beast Master. Next week, I will begin to break down and explore the impressive selection of beasts Marcus has access to. Until next time! 

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