The Crews I Use #3 – The Showgirls (Part I)   4 comments

In my last few games of Malifaux I have been using Colette and her Showgirls.  I thought it was time to take a look at the models, and talk about how they have worked for me so far.  Today we will start with the ones that I have painted up already, which incidentally are the contents of the Showgirls starter box:


We will start with the boss-lady, Colette (3rd from the left in the picture).

Colette sets the crew’s standard of deceptive stats.  Looking at her statline one sees that she is not very fast, has only 6 Wds and only high-average Wp and Df.  Plus, she doesn’t even have any attacks! “Wah!?” you say?  That’s right, no straight up attacks (she is plenty offensive with magic), and only 6 Wds.  Yikes.  So clearly, as a Master, and a successful one at that, she must make up for it in other ways.

Well she does, and it comes in a couple of ways.  First, she is a Soulstone manipulator.  In fact, she has an ability called Soulstone Manipulation, just to prove the point!  First, she gets a free Soulstone each turn, that can be used on anything but Summoning (she can Summon her Totem, the Mechanical Dove, and actually have up to 3 on the table at any given time).  So that’s pretty awesome.  What’s more, when she uses a Soulstone to flip a card, she actually gets [+] on the flip, which is also awesome.  It can often mean the difference between Weak and Severe, or burying and replacing with a friendly model (see below).  Most of her abilities, attacks or otherwise, require a Soulstone to be discarded, so she’s going to need as many as she can get.  Well, fortunately, she is adept at collecting them, as many of her abilities provide her with Soulstones!  She gets the free stone each turn; she can discard 2 Control Cards from her hand for one stone; one of her Triggers gives her a stone; and her two damage-dealing attack spells give her a stone if she kills the defender.  Nice!  As well, some of her minions have abilities that can gain a Soulstone for the crew, and as a bonus, her Mechanical Doves can be sacrficed to gain the benefit of using a stone.  So half of Colette’s M.O. is all about Soulstones.

The other half is what some people call Movement Shenanigans.  In the same way that Kirai’s tactics partially revolved around Switching models around, Colette, and all of the Showgirls really, are all about abilities that make them Move, Push or Switch places.  For instance, Colette’s Illusionist ability lets her switch places with another Showgirl within 18″.  “Wah!?” you say?  That’s right, 18″.  On a 3×3′ board,  yes, that’s halfway across the battlefield.  A couple other abilities let her switch friendly models for some reason or another, or herslef if she is in the process of dying.  And one of her attack spells can bury an enemy model, or fully replace it with a lucky Trigger.  This Mannequin Replacement requires 3 Tomes (books) in the casting, but it’s not as difficult as one would think to get.  She starts off with 7 Casting and one Tome.  As long as her initial flip or a card in her hand has a Tome, that’s 2.  The third is pretty likely to come in when she adds a card to the total by discarding a Soulstone, remembering that when she does this she gets a [+] to that flip.  Even an Ace of Tomes is enough, and with her high 7 to start with it is likely that her Casting total is going to be high enough that the enemy model’s Df total will not be enough.  Especially when supported by Cassandra, a Performer or a Coryphee, who can cause the target to be at a [-] or [-][-] to their Df or Resist flips!

Which brings me to the overall thing about Colette and the Showgirls: support.  Colette is a support caster, hanging around moving her friends around, giving them Mechanical Doves to use as Soulstones (did I mention they give this ability to anyone, even the lowest of the Showgirls, and the flip is at [+], just like with Colette?), and moving them around some more.  She is not afraid to get into the mix as well, switching places with a Showgirl in combat or near an enemy, making the disappear or die (gaining a Soulstone for doing this, of course) and running away again.  “Wah!?” you say?  That’s right, she can jump in, do damage, and jump out.  And she’s not even Fast nor a Casting Expert.  Instead, she can use a Soulstone to give herself Reactivate, which is the perfect way to do all that jumping, killing and jumping some more.  But she’s fragile.  Very fragile.  Leave her in the wrong place with the wrong crowd, and she’s toast, even with her unique Slow to Die ability.  That’s why with Colette, timing is everything.  Unlike some other Masters who do well with pre-planning, but do fine even without it, Colette and her Showgirls require some good for-thought and a lot of pre-planning.  Timing things just right, from which of your models activates first to debuff the enemy, to when Colette jumps in for the kill, it’s all about good timing and keeping proper support.  It is definitely helpful to have a lot of models on the board to help with activations sinks, and having 2-for-the-price-of-one-models like the Performer (see below) or up to 3 1-or-2-cost Mechanical Doves (2 if you start with them, 1 if you Summon them), the Showgirls are ready for it.

So this will bring me to my experience with Colette, and her Showgirls in general, since she is so important to the overall functioning of the crew (again, through timing and support and Soulstone manipulation).  When I first played the Showgirls I used them like I would combat-oriented crews, like the Ortegas.  I got them into combat, and they died.  I did not lose, thanks to the scenario objectives, but I did not win.  Because I did not play to their strengths.  I was not moving them around the board properly, most of all.  It is incredibly helpful in getting friends out of sticky situations, or getting around the board for objective purposes.  I was using Colette alright, I guess, having her create multiple Soulstones a turn, stocking up on them to be used in combat (Cassandra starts with Use Soustone, and the Mannequin can give other Showgirls the ability, so they’re useful for the whole crew).  But I wasn’t using her to her full potential.

My next few gamers were glorious.  They were routes, in terms of kills and VP.  “Wah!?” you say?  That’s right, I did plenty of killing once I started using them correctly.  Instead of getting the Showgirls into swirling melees with multiple enemies, they instead excel at picking off lone enemies who stray too far from their own supports and allies.  Learning how to time Colette’s jump in was great, and I got plenty of kills by her alone, gaining a Soulstone for it.  All by a model without a printed attack!

Yeah, Colette’s pretty fancy in her play style.  She’s a stage performer, after all. Her stat card is one of the bookliest ones in a game known for tome-like stat cards.  When you first read through her stats and those of he seemingly weak Showgirls, victory seems like a daunting, up-hill battle.  But after multiple reads, some help from the internet and a little practice, the Showgirls become quite a fun and extremely tactical crew to use, with Colette at their head.


Colette’s top girl is Cassandra (3rd from the right in the picture) and is one of the two beatsticks of the crew.

Okay, I say beatstick, because she has a large sword and a bunch of abilities and Triggers, but like Colette, she is somewhat fragile, although a touch less-so.  Stat-wise she is pretty fast on the Wk and Cg, and she has a Df of 6 and 7 Wds.  Not too bad.  But she costs 9 Soulstones, so she needs to do something well in Colette’s crew if she’s going to pull her weight (which judging by the model is not much at all).

First off, she is Nimble, so she can put her high Wk value to good use.  She can get nearly halfway across the board if that’s all she does.  What’s more, at the beginning of the game, before any activitations, she gets to take a 6″ move.  So yeah, she’s pretty fast.  She also works in tandem with Coryphee, the crew’s other fragile beatstick, by moving to them or switching places with them.  Remember Colette’s thing about movement shenanigans?  Well, Cassandra loves it.  She revels in it.  She takes part in it and uses pom poms and a speaker system so everyone knows it.  Some of her Triggers involve Pushing her after the attack is finished, so she can either get out of trouble or back into it 4″ elsewhere.

In terms of combat prowess, her big sword (which should have a range of 2″ instead of 1″) has a Cb of 7 with Tomes, to help out with those Triggers.  Or the ones that let her also cast a spell, like Breathe Fire.  Remember, these are Showgirls and it’s all about the performance.  So what if the perfmorance is her chopping off your head and breathing fire on your corpse, flames licking your nearby friends.  Pfft! It’s your fault for going up against what you assumed were the fairer sex!  Anyway, Cassandra also has a few (0) Actions that will help her offensively: damage flips nearby receive [-]; give herself Masks in her Cb and Ca to get her Triggers off; she can cast a (1) Spell belonging to another Showgirl; she has Use Soulstone; she even has an ability called Sword Dance that gives her a free sword attack while on the move.  And not only can this free attack interrupt her Move Action, but because she’s Nimble she can get 3 attacks in, while moving!  And with the right Triggers, she move, attack, push, move, attack, push, move, attack, push.  A very helpful way to get her our of sticky situations.

Which brings us to her defensive capabilities.  Well, again, her Df of 6 is not too exciting.  She does not have any always-on abilities to help defensively, but she does have a (0) Action that make Attack and Damage flips against her [-], as well as a (1) Action that gives her Harmless.  Plus, for the first two turns of the game she can only be targeted by ranged attacks and Spells, unless she attacks, so if you can get her into the right place across the board on turn 1 even into melee with an opponent, you have one more turn of relative safety, depending on the situation.

Okay, so she’s been in my crew each game, and I’ve had pretty good results with her.  She has died, don’t get me wrong.  That’s the nature of her fragility, but that was my own fault for having her in the thick of it at the end of the turn, in combat with enemies that don’t care how blonde she is.  She’s done fairly well offensively, although she’s failed offensively just as much (like that last game where it took her a tear-jerking 3 whole attacks to take out a single Steampunk Arachnid.  Yeesh.

For me she’s been most successful when using her for her movement skills  What with a free 6″ move before the game starts and a potential 15″ run on her turn, she can get around the board and setup for objective-scoring right away.  One game I had her run across the board and pop a corner for Power Ritual.  Last game I had her run across the board and Sabotage a little forest.  She is definitely a great asset for Colette’s crew, whether she’s slicing and dicing or sprinting around the battlefield scoring objectives.

Performers & Mannequins

Lastly come the Performer and Mannequin pair, two of which come in the starter box.

And we’ll start right off the bat with the duo coming in at 6 SS.  “Wah!?” you say? (You need to stop saying that like that)  That’s right, two models for the price of one!  Now, as usual,  you look at their stats and give their cards a quick read through and you start thinking that 6 SS might be a little much.  They’re fragile, they’ve got low stats, and the Mannequin doesn’t even have an attack! Yikes!  But this pair is the epitome of Showgirl support.

The Performer has pretty much got 5s across her statline.  She is quick, but cannot Charge.  And you might not want to, considering the Dg on her Cb 4 Poison Ring is 0/0/1!  (I know what you’re going to say, so I’ll get to it first)  That’s right, you’re only doing damage on Severe damage flips.  However, a successful hit with the ring bestows Poison 2 on the target.  And she can use Wp to attack instead of Cb.  And if she’s near Colette at the time, her Wp is 7!  So, maybe it’s not so bad, under the right circumstances.  Even better, though, is, with Fate on your side and an enemy within their Wk+1″ from you, a successful Siren Call will get the enemy up close, Paralyzed and with (1) Action Poison 4’d.  Yeah, you’ll need the luck or cards, or both, but it does happen.  2 Performers working together, supported by Colette or Mannequins or Coryphee (they can cause Paralyze as well), could do pretty well.  They can Mesmerize an enemy, giving them Slow if they lose a Wp Duel.  They can Seduce an enemy, making their Resist and Damage flips [-][-], perfect for setting up other Showgirls to do real damage.  They can steal a Soulstone from a model with Use Soulstone, with enough luck.  They’re Irresistable (like a permanent Harmless), and if they are killed a friendly Showgirls nearby gains Reactivate.  So the Performer has a nice Showgirl-perfect mix of support, offensive and defensive abilities.  All in a pretty package.

The Mannequin works along the same lines.  She is not very quick at all, so she relies on Colette to move her around, or her ability to Link to another Showgirl and follow them around.  She’s Slow, too, so she won’t be doing much on her turn.  But’s a high-end support model with quite a few options.  She can give herself Use Soulstone, and then use it to buff a friendly model (Healing Flip, Use Soulstone, + Masks to Ca, movement shenanigan).  Or she can protect nearby Showgirls from Weak damage flips, which can be pretty useful!  Did I mention she doesn’t have any listed attacks?  Well, she doesn’t.  She does have a spell that stops other models from attacking her, with the added bonus of a Trigger for each suit, so whatever you flip or Cheat, there’s some benefit: damage; straight up Wds (although the Mannequin dies as well); Slow; cast again on someone else.  The spell itself is great if you can get the Mannequin into combat with an enemy model that you want to try and hold up, because they can’t attack her and will then have to move away instead to be more useful, which may fail.  On the defensive side, the Mannequin has Armour +3 and Object 2, so even her 3 Wds will take either a big hit, or multiple small ones to finish her off.  At least she can be fixed (Healed) by nearby Showgirls if she does start getting beaten on.  So the Mannequin, like the Performer, is pretty mid-level, but she does have some nice Tricks of the Trade, to help her crew out.

In my experience, this pair has been supportive.  The Performer can go and score objectives, while helping her fellow Showgirls by debuffing the enemy.  Or getting them all Poisoned up, which is often fun.  The Mannequin gets Linked in with important models and either supports them (even though I always fail to cast Mirrors) or annoys the enemy in some way.  I do think that the pair of them is worth the 6 SS, and I haven’t yet tried a list without them.  I will likely always have at least one pair in my crew, and both if the game is big enough.  They are excellent activation sinks, again helping with the ever-important timing, forcing my opponent to run through all of his models before I have to start activating my important ones.

* * * * *

Sadly, Malifaux is not getting play a lot right now, at least by me.  Scott is off playing with Chris at his place, and Loy still hasn’t come back to the fold.  I’d love to keep playing games with the Showgirls, especially now that I am confident in my ability to use their movement shenanigans and supportive roles correctly.  Plus, having half of the crew fully painted is awesome.

Next time I will talk about the Coryphee and Mechanical Doves, and one day I will talk about the Coryphee Duest and Angelica, both of which I have not yet used.

Thanks for reading.


Posted August 13, 2012 by mrborges in Arcanists, Malifaux

4 responses to “The Crews I Use #3 – The Showgirls (Part I)

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  1. Just got this set a while ago too-big into arcanists of all types and liked the models and fluff that is probably so unique to this particular crew. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with the gameplay tactics for Showgirls, as I’ve only ever heard of them losing! Colette seems key for he witching ability, but you really have to think a couple of moves ahead when playing these guys. As a collector first and a budding player, I was worried about the steep learning curve, but I always think that if you like the army/models; then you shouldn’t be put off about their play style. I’ll be curious to see how the Mechanical Doves fare out – an unusual model and I’ve not really used Totems yet either.

  2. They definitely have a neat theme going on, which matches their playstyle: how scary can a bunch of performers be? Well, they can win, even if they don’t kill to do it. I spent some time on reading the articles, as well as the videos and articles at (Welcome to the Show! specifically), and even more going through all the stat cards and making notes. It helps to know which cards are necessary for certain spells (say, the 9 of Masks or whatnot), and what you can get rid of. With a little experience you can make these girls work. Just definitely don’t play them like the Ortegas or the Nephilims. I’ll talk about the Mechanical Doves and Coryphee ASAP.

  3. Wow, you have crazy good painting skills!

    • Hah, thank you. That’s a very encouraging comment.
      I’m not as happy with these paintjobs as I am others (the Ortegas and the Outcasts come to mind), but I am pleased with how they look on the tabletop.

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