Join Craig as his guest, Stephen Bynum, reveals why Resurrectionist players are excited about Yan Lo in Malifaux 3rd edition. His breakdown on the crew will Fortify the Spirit of any Rezzer player. Learn the Darkest Magics that lead Yan Lo and his crew to victory. For those that play against Yan Lo – pay close attention or Yan Lo will take you down the Treacherous Path to losing your next match-up.
When you finish, come back and check out the follow-up article Steve sent in!
More on Yan Lo by Steve Bynum
(We recommend listening to the episode before reading)
During the podcast we had an in-depth discussion about some aspects of the Retainer crew but due to some of the side-bar and detours we made we never did get very far into how I actually play Yan Lo (what he is doing, how he spends his actions, how the crew functions, and what a typical first turn and overall strategy looks like for the Retainer crew and the strategies and schemes for a Retainer crew). After discussing with Craig, he asked me to put down the additional thoughts for inclusion on the website to accompany the podcast.
Starting with Yan; his Ascendancy Upgrades provide him the resilience he needs and ramp up his effectiveness throughout the game. To get the most out of him he should be using The Darkest Magics a lot. Use Instill Youth each turn (when needed). It doesn’t cost anything and is a good way of keeping models topped off. I will occasionally use The Treacherous Paths but when I do it is primarily to move Yan and not to push something else. When Yan needs to move it is more effective if you have something else near. Treacherous Paths gives 8” of movement instead of walking with him. Use it to get out of combat or push another model out of combat. His preferred method of getting his models out of combat is just to kill the opposing model.
You need to spend Yan’s actions to move very often. Since he has both keywords, he can benefit from the 3” movement from Chiaki’s Spirit Flute. He is an Ancestor and can be moved by the Soul Porter before his activation. You can abuse the movement tricks to get him even further. These tricks turn one is enough to get him out from where he is hiding to a position where he can immediately start influencing the board.
Darkest Magics ignores Friendly Fire thus first turn the crew can play aggressive with Manos and other fast movers. Start to attack target or seed objectives as Yan provides back up and added damage.
I prefer to activate Yan late first turn unless forced otherwise. Typically first turn I activate something like a Gokudo early (especially if I have something like Power Ritual in the pool) so he can seed the back corner for a 2nd point score later. He is then pushing and gaining focus and walking to where he can scheme in later turns. Ideally his move will place him on the fringes the range of Chiaki’s pulse in order to get some free movement.
From there, the sequence is really dictated by the pool and the opposing crew. If there are no immediate threats then Chiaki might activate to pulse out Spirit Flute and the trigger to drop out a Reliquary.
Typically, first turn Chiaki drops out Manos’s Reliquary. This cannot wait because by second turn Manos is well out of range. His is one of the best Reliquaries you have access to. Get this out quickly on a key model to enhance the capability and durability of any model. If the opponent’s crew doesn’t have significant damage threats, she will drop it on a Gokudo or Komaino. Usually I prefer Gokudo, he becomes a super scheme runner with move 7. The Regeneration helps with the self-inflicted damage for his bonus action, and + flips to duels. Most of the time you can’t afford to go this route and end up putting in on Yan. If your opponent is gunning for the early assassination, your second Master, Izamu, Archie are all good targets as well. With Archie, the discard for the Demise Eternal will also trigger his Fading so he heals 6. The Regeneration and the healing Archie gets from Fading (when he Flurries) makes more resilient.
Chiaki normally uses Beckoning Call to move models around. It can speed up the crew starting turn 1. Use it to speed up Izamu or get Yan out from a hiding spot and positioned to go on the offensive. She uses Beckoning Call in subsequent turns to help position things to be most effective. She can do tricks with her other bonus action but mainly she is uses Spirit Flute, Beckoning Call, and gets you an extra card from Nefarious Pact.
I prefer to activate Yan late in the turn. If the opponent is aggressive with a threat to alpha, it forces me to activate Yan early. In this case, I might activate him early to get one of those survivability upgrades on him. You can mitigate these threats with deployment, positioning of other models, and your Komainu
After activating Chiaki, a Gokudo, Komainu, or Sun are likely to go next and start positioning to scheme or support the rest of the crew. The second Gokudo will move to where I need to scheme and provide a target for a Treacherous Paths. A Komainu will move up and focus to support Yan Lo with Take The Hit or move up to tank and tie up models. It can guard a section of the board or get into position to scheme. Sun Quiang (moved up from Chiaki’s Spirit Flute) hands out focus to Yan, Izamu or Manos. Cheat for the trigger to do it again, if needed. He will move to a protected position if possible that allows him to use the 8” heal on following turns. He can use Bedside Manner to protect key models. These actions set up future turns and enable my overall strategy. They run out the activations on your opponent so they are likely to start activating models that matter before you get to your 2-3 most important activations.
The Soul Porter is usually next positioning Izamu, Manos, or Yan to get them in position to start having an immediate impact. The Porter and Beckoning Call compensate for Izamu’s low movement. This gets him where he can control space and go after key targets. He is a center piece for me to hold key positions and pin targets. Yan can still cast into the combat with no penalty so Izamu can be aggressive. He is also often one of the best targets for the free attack you get with Bone Ascendant. The Porter can use Empower Ancestor on Izamu and Yan. Manos has enough maneuverability that he can get where he needs without assistance. If a move from the Porter can enable him to perform a key action first turn like plant an Plant Explosives or to flip a flank Turf Marker, or attack a killable scheme runner then I will likely shift the action to Manos instead of Izamu.
Izamu is a mid-turn model. It is unlikely he is going to get a chance to engage first turn unless the opponent has extended models into your side of the board. If you activate Izamu too early, he misses the opportunity to threaten the midfield. Izamu has a decent threat range. Porter and Chiaki can give him 7” of free movement and he can charge 4” with 2” reach. He can engage 13” away from deployment. If needed, he can move then charge and attack 17” deep. Flurry still gives two attacks at Min 3.
Once the opponent has indicated their plan with a few activations, Manos will launch to hit an objective or attack a target. With a move from Spirit Flute, Leap, the extra inch from base width and one movement action, Manos can get 16” deep and plant a bomb or flip a marker. If the opponent moved up a mid-range or weaker target, Manos can get 16” (with a charge) giving him an attack with an action left allowing him to reliably kill a 6-wound model. On Flank Deployment he can attack an un-activated model in the opponent’s deployment zone. Manos then has an additional action from his Assassin ability to let him withdraw or reposition.
Ideally Yan has been held back so he is the last model to activate.This gives me the maximum flexibility to assess the condition of the board so he can have the greatest impact. I have a plan for him starting out but, unlike the others who have a much more predetermined course of action, he filters through a decision matrix that adjusts as the turn plays out. Since his attack is long ranged (and ignores friendly fire), Yan can evaluate the results of some of the other actions (Manos/Izamu) and choose his target or actions based on what positions me best to score, denies the opponent a key asset or enables actions the following turn. I have target priorities for the opposing crew and attack them as the opportunity presents. The top priority are threats that disrupt my strategy, things that can enable immediate scoring or make it easiest for them to score. The priorities adjust based on the outcome of duels, revealing of schemes, and as targets-of-opportunity present that can disrupt the opponent or give me an advantage.
Yan’s crew can play into Plant, Turf War or Corrupted Idols. Yan usually isn’t my go to pick in Plant as I refer Molly but this type of crew and turn 1 sequence, with some adaptation, you can position to drop 2-3 bombs first turn. Go earlier with the Porter to move Manos and a Gokudo then launch Manos earlier to plant a bomb. Allow Chiaki to move everyone else and then Beckon the Gokudo with Reliquary towards Manos then Beckon Yan towards Manos. Run center interference with everything else. The Gokudo can move, push, and plant. Yan can Treacherous Path, walk, then plant. If I am playing Yan Lo into Plant, I will hire Archie and dump a bomb with him first turn before he shifts to a combat role.
Ideally the turn discussed above is really set up for Turf War or Idols to let you perform scoring actions first turn. Position, flip markers and pick off some early targets to give you action advantage while setting up to start scoring on Turn 2. Your opponent will be under pressure from your attacking pieces.
In Reckoning you are focused on shaping actions, setting up your schemes and early enabler or key target elimination. The main difference in Reckoning is you don’t spread as far and can keep everything positioned where it can better support each other and be ready to attack targets. With any master in Reckoning, my target prioritization focuses on “easy” targets to kill on the later turns. Early I tag team 2-3 models to take down a big or tough target. On the early turns you need fewer kills to score and you are taking away your opponents capacity to get kills on future turns.
I look for scheme-selection efficiency with Yan Lo (like I do with any Master). Some of the selection is deployment dependent as certain schemes (like Power Ritual) are more scorable with certain deployments. Other schemes are board or opposing-crew dependent. Search or Breakthrough are viable if the deployment and terrain support them. Manos and other maneuverable models that can bonus actions to move and put out multiple markers a turn things. Outflank is a “go-to” schemes for almost any deployment zone and strategy. The crew has the mobility to get models into position and Yan and Manos have a 12” attack range. They can occupy a position to score it if needed on a given turn and still have the range to impact the rest of the game.
With Yan there are a few schemes I consider that I normally do not with other crews like Assassinate and Vendetta. Yan’s crew can play them fairly well. He has the model resiliency that he can take a Master/Leader below half points to score the first half and hold them in place or chase them down with melee or ranged attacks on a subsequent turn to finish them off.
For Vendetta, he has resilient cheap models like Komainu that can get you the first point and still be around to get the subsequent point. You can do tricks with models like the Gokudo and Komainu. Make them your vendetta model and then replacing them with one of your Ancestor. All Strategy/Scheme conditions that applied to the original model carry over to the replaced model. You could have Izamu as your Vendetta model which is completely different from trying to keep a cheap squishy model alive.
Take schemes that you are comfortable with. Like in the discussion in the Round Table with James and Jamey, I always try to select my schemes with the intention of being able to score both points. I always play for 8. If you self-select out early and choose things you can’t accomplish you deny yourself the points. Why make it easier for your opponent to win as there are less points they need to deny and less points they need to score. Choose schemes you can score early. Without certainty of how many turns you are going to get in a given game, you choose schemes that your crew can score early. Dedicate the actions early needed to score. This continues to pressure your opponent prevents a situation where you need additional turns to score. I will set up my second scheme points as soon as I can. If I can seed the markers early needed (and stop the opponent from denying) it guarantees (when the game ends) I am going to score.
Typically Toshiro and Yin don’t make it into my lists. Toshiro is focused on minion buffs and there aren’t a lot of minions in my crews outside of schemers. He can give buff minions and has a pseudo obey that gives a minion Focus and lets them move 3” or take an attack. Toshiro can summon but it requires a 10 of crows to get an Ashigaru. The summon is resource intensive. You need a corpse, a stone (or high crow), a high card. If I take Toshiro I need to give up either Manos, Izamu, or something comparable. Toshiro doesn’t synchronize well with the rest of my crew. Some players run him successfully with an Ashigaru and a corpse generator to bring in a second Ashigaru early. I see the value in this but it doesn’t fit with how I run the crew and it forces me to give up some of the utility I get from the models I already take.
Yin is another issue. There are corner cases where she makes my crew. I consider her into Plant since she can get the moves/pushes from the rest of the enablers and then double walk. Once there she uses Dark Bargain to take the damage and interact. You can get deep Explosive plants with Chiaki and a double move. If the Porter hit her as well she is up 21” before using Dark Bargain.
Yan Lo is a great master and the Wyrd team did an outstanding job of building a thematic crew that plays and feels like Yan. He is competitive in a wide variety of games and is a blast to play. Thanks for checking out Craig’s podcast and the episodes I have been a guest on – I hope this has been useful for you and the add on write up covered the items we ran out of time to cover on the show.