In Malifaux, there are many factions which vie for power and influence. One such faction is the FREIKORPS, a mercenary group of highly trained and well equipped soldiers led by Leopold VON SCHILL. This group of mercenaries has become a formidable and reputable force in Malifaux, now taking up residence in Freiholt.
So if you are looking to play a crew in Malifaux you might ask why play this keyword? Well if you like the idea of badass, elite military forces combining steampunk technology and tactical flexibility led by cyborg Hulk Hogan in order to tackle any situation or opponent, you are in the right place!
DISCLAIMER: This tactica is merely my own opinion formed from my personal experiences. You might disagree with me and that is totally fine. I believe myself to be competent and a high skill level player, but that does not mean I am the best player in the game, merely an active one who decided to write this up. This is a flexible keyword who can be played in multiple ways and multiple play styles. These thoughts are for Gaining Grounds 2. Should you wish to discuss these points, you can find me on the Wyrd and Outcast discords under Trollbait(Brian)#5324.
- High Durability: the Freikorps boast armor across all keyword models minus the METALLURGIST making it a keyword with harder to remove models through sheer damage. Add in the extensive amount of defensive supporting abilities such as Shielding and healing and this keyword is one of the most durable in the game.
- High Damage Beaters: sporting multiple models with min 3 damage tracks in melee, including the VON SCHILL - IRON-HEART (will be referred to as Von Schill 2 or Iron-Heart), there is no shortage of threatening and durable melee models. The ranged support, while not spiking as high, is still reliable and far from weak, boasting a flexible range of options.
- High Adaptability: through having a model for almost any job and their signature equipment upgrades, a well run Freikorps crew can handle any situation or opponent thrown at them.
- Low Learning Curve: the Freikorps are durable and do not have extremely complicated mechanics allowing newer players to pick them up and play them. Their durability and natural ability to fight well makes them easy and forgiving to pilot.
- Reliable Suits: all but three keyword models have some method of ensuring they have a built in suit to guarantee triggers. Some models have a better version than others, but in general this makes the keyword quite reliable in getting the triggers you need.
- High Cost Models: there is only a single 5-cost minion in the keyword and many of the best models cost 7-10 each. You will frequently be outnumbered, especially in the more interact/scheme marker pools when opponents will be likely to bring cheaper scheme runners than the Freikorps can.
- Limited Hand Support: the keyword has one of the only Arcane Reservoir models in the faction, but other than a few limited cases, Freikorps do not have many ways to replenish their hand or cycle bad cards. This added to their abundance of “discard for X effect” abilities means their hand can become limited rather quickly.
- Limited Speed: the keyword tends to form a “bubble” to support itself, limiting it’s mobility and potential to spread and contest objectives.
- High Skill Ceiling: while the keyword has a mostly straight forward set of mechanics, there is a lot of complexity to mastering the keyword in all stages of the game from picking your crew to playing the game. This makes a player better at the core game if they can master it, but there is no tutorial other than playing and learning the skills needed to master Malifaux Tactics. This hidden complexity means that you might find yourself not understanding why you lost unless you break down the core gameplay and how you approached it.
- Lack of Non-Interact Scheming: the crew doesn’t have triggers or actions that drop scheme markers or provide extra interact actions. This causes them to spend AP or hire OoK models to fill the scheming role with few options in keyword to mitigate this.
- Standard: In standard, Freikorps are given the opportunity to deploy where focus will be needed and are able to defend things like Outflank much easier.
- Wedge: A personal favorite, this allows the crew to position more forward but more coherently than Flank.
- Flank: This is ok in that you can still get your crew forward quickly, but it does force you to be more spread out at the start, so be aware of positioning. This is also where being the defender can be challenging because your opponent can split their deployment to better out maneuver you. Be sure to pick the group of their models that has priority targets (more details later).
- Corner: Probably the keywords worst deployment as it costs you more AP to get where you want to be. It’s also much more difficult to score or contest the edges of the table. Often the FREIKORPS SCOUTs get decent scheming value with this deployment.
I will give my own rating of an “out of 5” system for each choice for the keyword. This does not mean I think the keyword cannot handle the strat or scheme, but rather how easily it will be able to achieve points under most circumstances. A low score means that other crews can achieve it better while a high score indicates the keyword has a strong ability to achieve the strat or scheme. A score of 1 means I would consider taking another crew if there isn’t another option while a score of 5 means this crew is ideal for that scheme or strat.
Strategies (Gaining Grounds 2)
- Corrupted Leylines: Not a bad strategy but not the most ideal. You can play a bit more slowly, passing the token between models. Generally use Freikorpsmen for this role to claim the early markers. Where the Freikorps have strength is their ability to deny the opponent from efficiently scoring by killing their needed models. Scouts can start on a strategy marker and score easily if you can get them the loadstone, moving to fire support afterwards. 3/5
- Symbols of Authority: A strategy encouraging getting into the opponent's table side, this plays better with the Iron-Heart title as Von Schill pushes into your opponent rather hard. Your crew still can provide a lot of denial as any mobile schemer leaping into your table side is likely to die instantly to one of your many damage threats. The ever-useful THE MIDNIGHT STALKER is useful as if he is ignored he can score this strategy almost on his own and let your crew do the fighting or if the enemy does focus him, they have fewer pieces to stop your central force. 2/5
- Break the Line: Another diving strategy, but this one I have found is much easier to deny than score with this crew without dedicating specific models to scoring (again THE MIDNIGHT STALKER being useful). Often I end up having 1-2 points scored early then focus on denial instead OR scoring 1-2 points later after having secured a more central position. A common tactic to employ is fighting to claim 2 markers and push them as deep as you can. My personal preference is usually to choose more centrally located markers and bully my opponent to either fight for them or have their force split, chasing the side markers. 4/5
- Turf War: Like many bubble crews, this is the keyword’s strongest strategy. They can very easily claim and defend markers while simultaneously killing enemy models to deny their own markers. 5/5
Schemes (Gaining Grounds 2)
- Breakthrough: This is a scheme I do not often pick as it doesn’t match the keyword strengths, but it is still possible especially if you bring in an out of keyword model or a versatile like THE MIDNIGHT STALKER. The ROCKET BOOTS upgrade can help get a Freikorps model more forward, ideally with Von Schill2 as his more forward placement can help transfer rocket boots to more forward models. To deny this scheme, hire a PROSPECTOR as he can eat scheme markers from range. Also the Burn to a Crisp trigger on the GRENADE BELT equipment upgrade or LAZARUS’ shockwave can remove enemy scheme markers at range.
To Score= 2/5; To Deny= 4/5
- Detonate Charges: A weaker scheme for the crew as we do not have any in keyword way of dropping scheme markers inside of the 4” restriction. You will need a versatile like the HODGEPODGE EMISSARY or maybe a PROSPECTOR to achieve it. It is harder to deny this scheme if the opponent has late in the turn actions to drop the scheme markers, but the same anti-marker tech mentioned above can be used. The main issue is crews who can reliably score this scheme usually cannot be stopped due to their unique tricks. Just be aware of it and either remove the models able to score it, or try to zone out the opponent.
To Score= 1/5; To Deny= 2/5
- Vendetta: Being a more killy crew, this scheme is an easy pick. FREIKORPS SCOUT fills the role rather well as his lower cost and potential higher damage can hunt the model you need to target. Add in he ignores a lot of defensive tech and he is a great ranged assassin. Many of the other Freikorps models can work depending on your opponent. Denying this scheme is usually rather easy as long as you keep some healing available for after a beater attacks one of your models (usually HANNAH LOVELACE or ARIK SCHöETTEMER). The sheer resilience of your models with the added healing make this a very hard keyword to score this scheme off of.
To Score= 4/5; To Deny= 5/5
- Assassinate: This is a perfect scheme to pick with Freikorps. I only choose to avoid it if the opposing master has specific defensive tech that makes pinning them down nearly impossible (Collette’s bury for example). Enemies who wish to score this against you must work double time as not only does Von Schill have armor, but Von Schill 1 has Survivalist, making it very easy to get back to full. Von Schill 2 is more in danger of this, but since the scheme scores at the end of the turn it does give you the chance to heal any damage rather well.
To Score= 5/5; To Deny= 5/5
- Claim Jump: Depending on the crew you face, this could be a potential easy scheme or an uphill battle. Regardless, Freikorps play into this scheme very well. ARIK SCHöETTEMER’s Gravity Well can help keep movement tricks from getting in the middle and HANNAH LOVELACE is able to block vision to other models. Denying this can be trickier, but your own models are durable enough you can usually place them where it will be very hard for an opponent to hide from your line of sight and still be in range, especially with a height 3 50mm base Hannah. Add in your Minefields and you can punish the opponent for taking this scheme.
To Score= 4/5; To Deny= 5/5
- Hidden Martyrs: A very easy scheme for anyone to score the initial points off of. What makes it fun in Freikorps is all of your models are durable, meaning it taxes your opponent to kill them, only for it to score you a point. Add in your healing and killing the remaining minion can be quite hard. Consider the SOLDIER FOR HIRE upgrade on the model that you pick to be survivable as it makes it double hard to kill them. As for denying, your opponent is going to score the first point unless you kill a target turn one so you will likely be giving up that point. With this crew’s ability to kill, it can actually be rather easy to deny the second point as long as you hunt down the model. Many times the opponent will be forced to hide it away to keep it safe, essentially removing a model from the conflict.
To Score= 4/5; To Deny= 2/5
- Death Beds: This is a bit of an odd scheme for the Freikorps, but doable. If you drop the minefield markers and a scheme marker you can score it, but it tends to be a bit more telegraphed. That said it can catch people off guard as you don’t always put out the minefields. You can also use strategy markers if you want since it was ruled you can use them as one of the markers. The biggest challenge is dropping a scheme marker close enough. Denying this scheme is where this is interesting. It’s hard enough to kill Freikorps models which is the greatest defense, but we can also bring in the Drachentrooper to remove terrain markers. Also the ROCKET LAUNCHER equipment upgrade has the Blow It To Hell ability to remove destructible terrain.
To Score= 3/5; To Deny= 5/5
- Catch and Release: A more interesting scheme as it’s more risky. Freikorps don’t have many models they want in the situation this scheme requires as often the master or henchman is likely to annihilate them early, but with planning it can be done. Give the model the REINFORCED ASSAULT SHIELD and ROCKET BOOTS. This gives them added durability and the ability to leap out of combat when needed. If used on the Freikorpsmen they can even take a point of damage to keep the boots on for another leap the following turn to run away. This is highly situational and not a guarantee so it’s generally not picked with other options in the pool. To deny this, that’s hard to do if the opponent is mobile and has last activation. Arik helps with gravity well, but fast models can get in and out with general ease. Best option is if this is scored against you for the first point, kill the model as it tries to escape.
To Score= 3/5; To Deny= 3/5
- Let Them Bleed: One of the Keywords best schemes, the amount of shockwaves and blasts the keyword can put out makes damaging many models rather easy. That and the ability for Arik and Hannah to delete anything they put their minds to makes it a very reliable scheme. Be careful if the primary targets are ones that will avoid the fight zones as it makes them harder to reach. To deny,your models are stupid easy to keep alive. The plentiful healing makes this an easy deny, especially if you bring in the Emissary.
To Score= 5/5; To Deny= 5/5
- Outflank: one of the keyword’s weaker options, this scheme requires you to split your forces where they can’t be supported easily. If you really want to score it, take two scouts and position them defensively to try and snipe other models who get in range. The biggest issue is in corner or flank deployments. Often this taxes your forces too much and many times you end of giving up this scheme to your opponent. To deny, you either use the double scouts OR use a single model on side to kill any possible scheme runners. Often the THE MIDNIGHT STALKER can fill this role as he can handle more scheme runners before going to score his own points.
To Score= 2/5; To Deny= 2/5
- Research Mission: The first part of this scheme is similar to Death Beds in difficulty for the same reasons. The hard part is the second half. Guaranteeing the markers is much harder when you need to split up the forces. Honestly, it’s swingy. Some games you will be able to score relatively easy while others not so much. The biggest thing to hold you back is the requirement on the enemy half. With Von Schill 2 it becomes more possible since he drops scrap and can use minefields, but this scheme is best left alone with Von Schill 1. To deny, bring a DRACHEN TROOPER and be aware of scheme markers, using the Burn to a Crisp trigger previously mentioned.
To Score= 3/5; To Deny= 4/5
- Spread Them Out: This is the crew’s weakest scheme as they have no action efficiency to place the markers. This is easier with the emissary, but still a scheme best left if other better options are available. Denying is usually much easier and efficient but bringing Freikorps anti-marker tech so you can deny from range, avoiding being forced to spread too thin.
To Score= 1/5; To Deny= 3/5
- Bait and Switch: Von Schill 2 will have a harder time with this than Von Schill 1 as the latter’s Pull! Trigger can make positioning for this easy and can easily catch an enemy off guard. Denying can be hard if you plan on diving the enemy lines as Von Schill 2 tends to do. Play more cagey and it can help. Beware of lures as they can force this to score.
To Score= 4/5; To Deny= 3/5
The Freikorps can handle the majority of opponents and pools. Their durability gives them a definite advantage in more aggressive pools while their upgrades and tech-piece hires give them the adaptability to deal with any threat. They do not excel with consistent speed and maneuverability, but tactical flexibility will ensure they can achieve their goals and stop the opponent from reaching theirs.
When Breaking these down I will do a similar “out of 5” system for whether the model is worth hiring. A 5/5 means they are always hired, no consideration of leaving them behind. A 3/5 means they are taken in specific situations but not all the time. A 1/5 means they are left unplayed.
VON SCHILL: The leader of the keyword, acts as a central support piece with the ability to flex into a beater role.
- Stats: Solid defenses at 6 Df and 7 Wp means the opponent will need good cards or high stats to effectively attack. Mv of 6 gives him the speed to be where he needs to be when he needs to be.
- Abilities: Von Schill brings high survivability to the table being extra resistant to blasts and pulses. He also is very easy to heal back to full due to Survivalist through the abundant healing in the keyword. He also supports his crew well, allowing easy access to action efficiency through shouting orders. Be careful not to over drain your hand however as the keyword does not have many ways to draw new cards in the middle of the turn. He is impossible to pin down and many times it is worth charging to get out of sticky spots even if you are not getting an attack. This also allows him to get past his own crew’s landmines.
- Attack Actions: Boasting a respectable melee attack, the damage is decent but his triggers are the value. Pay attention to the Pull! Trigger as it can be an easy way to take an enemy and throw them either into your crew to die, or sometimes to throw a model off an objective or in range of one of your other schemes (Detonate Charges for example). His ranged attack again has decent damage but should be valued more for the ability to ignore hard to wound, making damage a bit more reliable.
- Tactical Actions: Able to get rid of a condition on himself or pull an ally out of combat can both be useful, but the biggest action on the card is Load Up. Attaching one of the many equipment upgrades is his bread and butter and by paying attention to the suits you can apply a lot of utility.
- Summary: Von Schill is very versatile and is able to help set up your own crew with the equipment upgrades. Early in the game he usually is attaching equipment, and mid to late game he can flex between support and aggressor as needed. He excels in pools that need his survivability such as when Assassinate is on the table.
VON SCHILL - IRON-HEART: Von Schill’s title, Iron-heart gives up a bit of survivability for raw aggressive power.
- Stats: Very much still a defensible master, his stats took only the slightest of reductions. This makes him less survivable and not as ideal into pools with Assassinate as an available scheme.
- Abilities: While keeping his Armor +1, Iron-heart lost several abilities in favor of ones that push him into an aggressor role. Ruthless gives him play into the crews that often apply negatives, giving his scary melee attack a much higher chance to deal damage. He also gained the ability to allow all friendly Freikorps to ignore ALL negatives to their attack actions targeting models he is engaging. Use this to counter things such as concealment, friendly fire, distracted, serene countenance, etc. He also has the ability to toss his equipment to nearby allies after they are discarded after use, encouraging him to use his equipment aggressively. This is enabled by his ability to use two bonus actions per turn and being immune to stunned. This pushes him into a high level of action efficiency in early turns. Be careful when using the equipment with projectile actions as many times he gets into melee and then can neither use nor discard the upgrades for his crew to benefit from them.
- Attack Actions: This is an area where Iron-heart had a clear upgrade. He lost his rifle but gained a nasty melee attack and an interesting shockwave. His melee has an incredible 2” engagement range with a min 3 damage track. His melee will really hurt and it can equip more upgrades on the right trigger. His Explosive Payload is an interesting attack that provides a unique utility to the crew. It forces a high TN dual on a 2” shockwave, so if your opponent groups up this will get very punishing. The plink damage is nice, but where this is useful in the crew is all other blast or pulses (shockwaves included) do +1 damage. This pushes LAZARUS up to 4 damage per failed duel and there are an abundance of other blasts and pulses in the crew both from range and melee. If you get the trigger for Injured +1 then those future duals become much harder to resist. This is something the opponent will either need to save cards for key models to defend against or they will be decimated by the other attacks the crew can bring.
- Tactical Actions: Almost every title is bringing markers or marker removal tech and Iron heart brings a bit of the latter. Bulldoze allows him to push through pretty much everything, removing markers he passes through and even damaging enemies. The trigger for an attack at the end makes this a psuedo-charge while not technically being a charge allow for you to get out of engagements, more mobility with attacks for ap efficiency, gets around disguised, etc. It takes a very low card to achieve so this is always going to be a threat for the opponent. Note that HANNAH LOVELACE can copy this action for some good value. His second tactical. Foul Mouthed Motivation, is his main way to attach equipment to himself and provides a bit of support to his crew.
- Summary: Iron-heart brings a much more aggressive playstyle to Von Schill, but what it really does is add yet another tool to the impressive Freikorps toolbox. Iron-heart finds his place vs crews with heavy defensive tech as he enables very punishing blasts, shockwaves, and other ways to ignore said defences. He isn’t as survivable as his original and he runs the risk of outrunning his crew, but on the upside he can keep up with his beaters as he enables their leaps after he uses ROCKET BOOTS, handing it to them after. Be careful as he can run the risk of running too far ahead of the rest of his crew. Also note that certain equipment upgrades are not as good on him as he is unable to make the projectile attacks while engaged, preventing him from discarding them for another crewmember to use.
STEAM TRUNK: The Freikorps totem, this is literally a toolbox. It hands out upgrades at very short range and can end conditions. It’s not super defensible so be careful as its demise runs the risk of hurting your own crew. No offensive tech to speak of, the steam truck can still receive Equipment Upgrades which can provide him offensive attacks. One thing to note is due to Iron-heart having a more difficult time equipping the projectile based equipment to his crew, the Steam Trunk is the best way to give those specific upgrades out to your crew.
ARIK SCHöETTEMER: The crewbox henchman, Arik is one of the crew’s primary beaters. Boasting high armor and great damage, his role is flexible yet always dangerous.
- Stats: Moderate stats mean that Arik is easier to hit and manipulate. Be careful around things like obeys and high stat manipulation as he is vulnerable.
- Abilities: At Armor +2 Arik fills the role of tank and beater in the keyword. He can shrug off blast and shockwave damage and is impossible to pin down. The biggest ability that many forget to take into consider is Gravity Well. Malifaux requires a lot of positioning and movement and a large amount of it is places. The ability to shut those places down prevents many tactics and actions.
- Attack Actions: A very reliable melee attack that can usually hit severe easily due to the puncture trigger makes Arik a very dangerous attacker. He also has one Of the few ways to ignore armor in the keyword. His grenade is nothing special but has a challenging shockwave duel for a bit of damage.
- Tactical Actions: The only tactical is his bonus which has several layers to it. It doesn’t require a flip and you can adjust to your situation. The most frequently used is the Charged Fists as it makes his damage a very scary 3/5/7 on a very reliable melee attack. Bright Aether is nothing to ignore as it causes his grenade to hit a massive area and apply Distracted. Polarized Shielding is highly situational, but don’t forget it.
- Summery: The first of my models picked when building a crew, I never leave home without him. Arik provides too much utility and threat to the keyword for me to justify not bringing him.
- Stats: Average stats with a fantastic WP means she is easy to hit, but hard to manipulate.
- Abilities: Hannah has abilities that make her uniquely valuable, primarily through card and suit efficiency. She has the coveted Arcane Reservoir which provides extra cards in a crew that not only has a lot of discard effects but has limited ways to draw them back. Her Counterspell is more of a tax than anything and shouldn’t be relied on. Her biggest in-game strength comes from Siphon Power. This allows you to guarantee suits on actions including the equipment, allowing you to set up truly nasty ROCKET LAUNCHER attacks and get the triggers she wants to maximize her own damage.
- Attack Actions: her melee attack is just as nasty as Arik’s with a Critical Strike trigger available. See below for a special combo. Her Ancient Words add great flexibility as most models in keyword target Df. The trigger is cool, but unreliable. The thing that makes it great is it’s a non-projectile ranged attack with respectable damage.
- Tactical Actions: Adaptive Tactics is an incredibly versatile action. The main combo used (but not the only one) is to copy Arik’s Charge Up for the Charged Fists ability. This pushes her ability to get a damage track of 4/6/8 with crit strike, going to 5/7/9 if you combine either stoning for suit, cheating (or flipping) a ram, or Siphon Power together. This makes her one of the most dangerous models in the game.
- Summary: Hannah is worth every stone you spend on her. I have very rarely ever not brought her as her power and utility is amazing. This does mean that I have both henchmen in my crew taking up not just a lot of points, but possibly any soul stones I bring into the game.
- Stats: Good WP but average stats otherwise, she fits a pretty standard profile in the crew with nothing to note.
- Abilities: Armor and Shielded combine great and starting each turn with both is great. She has Siphon Power like Hannah meaning she is one for the most reliable models to put upgrades in for their triggers.
- Attack Actions: No melee attack but she brings another source of Ancient Words but with some great utility triggers.
- Tactical Actions: Probably the main reason to bring the librarian is her ability to heal models. It has great range and you can easily pulse to heal your other models. NOTE** you can accidentally heal enemies if they are in range of the pulse as the trigger doesn’t discriminate. Her bonus action is really there to help her keep up with the crew.
- Summary: a great support model and I rarely don’t bring at least one. Two are good in very specific situations but those are very rare. Consider it if you are needing their WP blasts on Ancient Words or you feel you need the reliable healing over other utility pieces.
LAZARUS: A walking artillery piece, Lazarus brings durable ranged tech to counter defenses.
- Stats: Expensive and slow, Lazarus needs to get himself into a position quickly so he doesn’t have to worry about moving much. ROCKET BOOTS can help with this.
- Abilities: Durable through Armor +2 and able to avoid obeys is nice. He helps nearby Allies too. His Grit ability rarely comes up so don’t rely on it, but it can be nice.
- Attack Actions: The melee attack exists more as a way to get out of combat by throwing enemies away with the trigger. His real strength is his attack which just drops shockwaves for a challenging DF dual for 3 damage. It can also clear scheme markers with its trigger, providing Lazarus with some anti scheme utility. Being able to copy other constructs has a variety of uses, but usually this is a way to get a better melee attack. The Asimilate action is very rarely used in favor of his tactical.
- Tactical Actions: Juggernaut is just a great way to heal himself, making him more self-sufficient and allowing your healers to focus elsewhere.
- Summary: Lazarus Brings utility in very specific situations, maily when you need to bypass enemy defences though the shockwaves he brings. He matches a bit better with Iron-Heart due to the Explosive Ordinance being able to make Lazarus’ attack 4 damage. Take him into heavy targeted defence tech type of crews (terrifying, vengeance, serene continence, etc).
- Stats: Average stats across the board
- Abilities: Standard Freikorps armor for good reliable damage reduction. Sabotage is usually negligible and very rarely triggers in an opportune spot. Not a bad ability, but pretty much ignorable 95% of the time. It gains some value vs crews like Amalgam who use almost entirely constructs. The ability to pay attention to is Tools For The Job. This allows you to get some card cycling and reliable triggers as long as you have the right card to discard. This can also grab a high card back into your hand should the stars align.
- Attack Actions: Both the melee and ranged attacks are good, even if nothing special. Solid damage spreads with good triggers on all. The melee attack is one of the few places krekorpse can get the trigger to ignore armor making them a tad bit more useful into heavy armor matchups.
- Tactical Actions: Strengthen Armor is the bread and butter of this model. Usually you will be targeting Hannah, Von Schill, or Arik allowing you to trigger all of its special effects, causing it to cycle a card and heal. Tools For The Job does a great job helping to guarantee the Preparations trigger making this one of the most effective buffing abilities in the keyword.
- Summary: Engineers are very useful to the keyword and have no real downside. Always consider taking one, flexing it out in coroner cases when you need to double down on other models.
- Stats: Good Wp but low Mv means this is a model good against manipulation, but you need to position him well early or he will have very little meaningful impact on your game.
- Abilities: The Drachen Trooper’s demise ability deters people from killing it up close, but be careful as it can hit allies too. It’s other ability, Clear the Area, is actually one of the reasons to take the model. Many crews use corpses or scrap to activate abilities and removing them can be an incredible boon, especially as this requires only you to end your activation near them. This also helps deny the marker dependent schemes by removing those specific options.
- Attack Actions: The melee attack is one of the weakest in the keyword and really only exists to give you the reposition trigger to escape melee. The biggest issue is it is already range 0” so you are better off disengaging anyway. The ranged attack is unique in the keyword in that it targets Mv. blasting on everything and applying +2 burning is really solid in specific matchups. The triggers are crowd control based and again situational.
- Tactical Actions: The tacticals are all about countering the opponent. Removing conditions from my own models is hard in Outcasts. This models brings a good resource for certain ones and comboed with the metallurgist you take 0 damage from it. Burn It Down is becoming more relevant now that most titles create or interact with destructible markers.
- Summary: A bit expensive at 8 stones but great utility means the Drachen Trooper is a tech pick into specific pools and matchups. Use him when you need to remove markers or the specific conditions with Move or Burn.
- Stats: Average across the board
- Abilities: Standard Armor +1, but what makes the Scout unique is the From the Shadows. This puts the Scout in a unique pseudo-schemer role as you can position ahead, reserving AP to be in position. This is perfect for Strategies like Corrupted Leylines or Symbols of Authority as you can reach the objectives much quicker. You do have to be careful though as this puts your scout out of the range of many of your supporting abilities and models. Try to ensure someone can reach them quickly if needed, perhaps with ROCKET BOOTS. The Advanced Sights combos perfectly with their rifle as that attack now will ignore all the most common ranged defenses. The key to remember here is Advance Sights can be combined with the ROCKET LAUNCHER equipment for much more reliable shots. Also the Pursue ability makes his ranged attack a stat 6 and Rocket Launcher a stat 7!
- Attack Actions: The melee attack should almost always be ignored unless you have no way out of melee combat. The ranged attack is your bread and butter. It has great range, solid damage including the possible Critical Strike trigger, and will threaten any medium to low tier models with a single point of focus.
- Tactical Actions: The Quick Retreat is why you should never make a melee attack. Use this and either run away or start firing.
- Summary: Scouts are a personal favorite of mine and find many roles in many places. They are reliable and always a threat to the opponent. Bring them against crews who utilize a lot of concealment or even melee crews. Be careful bringing them against fast crews as deploying via From the Shadows can make them exposed very easily and allow them to be brought down quickly.
- Stats: Average across the board
- Abilities: NO ARMOR!? That’s right, the only Freikorps model without any armor but instead replaces it with Arcane Shield +2. This is a mixed bag as you only get to reduce 2 instances of damage, but the other ability makes her immune to damage from any aoe attacks. This firmly puts her as a backline support, trying to minimize any threats directed at her. She supports the crews by reducing plink damage and even stopping hazardous terrain from doing damage to the crew near her. Her power token ability is her tie-in to the augmented keyword so it just means she can get whatever trigger she needs on her own abilities.
- Attack Actions: No melee reinforces the theme of keeping her away from enemies. Her ranged attack is rather weak, even if it ignores armor. The trigger is situational, but forcing a discard is always nice. Command construct can be fun on the offence, but has a bigger application on other allies. You will frequently use the power token to guarantee this, but it has a requirement of at least a 9 to work. On allies you can make it where things cannot ignore armor. It is very good but there are a couple of things to keep in mind. It is a bonus action so you can only target one model per turn, it is non-master only, and it does not stop “irreducible” damage but rather the specific wording of “ ignores armor.”
- Tactical Actions: Vent Steam is always good as your most powerful models are constructs, but be careful not to catch your other models in it. The last ability is another way to attach upgrades to fellow Freikorps, which comes into play more with the Iron-Heart title since there are few ways to attach equipment.
- Summary: Another great tool to use, the Metallurgist is a tech piece against blasting crews, hazardous terrain manipulation, and against models that have ways to ignore armor.
- Stats: Average across the board
- Abilities: While this model doesn’t seem very impressive at first, the Freikorpsmann is one of the most flexible pieces in the crew. They are one of a very few models in the entire faction with Ruthless, making them ideal takes into Manipulative or Terrifying crews. They heal extra, which will help greatly as they have the unique ability to keep equipment without discarding them at the cost of health. This opens up a lot of options but becomes a key piece in Iron-Heart crews as they become less dependent on being handed equipment every turn. Use the ability for multiple Rocket Boost turns when scheming.
- Attack Actions: The melee is very mediocre but can heal them on the right trigger. Their range attack is very solid and is basically a shorter ranged version of the Scout’s attack.
- Tactical Actions: Reference the Field Guide is hard to get good use out of because it requires you to have the right suit in hand. It comes up every once in a while, but it is a great reason to value low rams for Critical Strike.
- Summary: A very versatile and useful minion that should always be considered. Bring when you need the flexibility or Ruthless.
Versatiles: There are a lot of options available to the FREIKORPS and I will give a short review for each one along with the rating. The biggest issue you will find is there are very few versatile minions in OUTCASTS, meaning upgrades cannot be given to the majority of options. They models you bring will have to prove their worth.
BARBAROS: A beater who likes to help control the enemy through Challenge and Bring It. Freikorps have no shortage of beaters in keyword forcing Barbaros to be left at home. He is not card intensive however so could be reasonably brought.
YANNIC WALLER: a blasting Henchman who provides a unique value through Ingenuity engine. Combine with one or two CATALAN RIFLEMAN and you have a very decent setup. I personally do not use this combo as I do not value the card draw engine. The Freikorps do not have ways to drop scheme markers outside of the interact action making it a very AP inefficient engine in a very elite keyword.
CATALAN BRAWLER: A good brawler, but again, the keyword does not need it. Since you would not likely take out Hannah or Arik for his slot, you sacrifice supporting models to take him which I view as not worth it. 1/5
CATALAN RIFLEMAN: Very solid minions that bring guaranteed stun trigger on sniper shots. As long as you don’t need the damage potential or deployment of the Scouts of the ruthless or equipment use of the Freikorpsman, Riflemen are a fantastic choice to bring. They can gain upgrades from OG Von Schill and the steam trunk making them still a very useful model in the crew. 3/5
HANS: One of the few models in faction with Ruthless, Hans used to be the go-to model for the stunned condition until CATALAN RIFLEMAN. He is still good, but I have a hard time justifying him now with the Riflemen around. Bring him if you value the ruthless Highly enough, but then I would just rather bring more Freikorpmenn personally. 2/5
HODGEPODGE EFFIGY: To put it simply, this is a budget healer. If you have filled points with other roles and still need healing he is a good go to. The Outcast effigy is the worst to take the EFFIGY OF FATE upgrade on so I recommend if you hire the effigy, leave him as that. 3/5
HODGEPODGE EMISSARY: One of the most polarizing models, people either love or hate the Emissary. In truth he has his uses and roles. He is an expensive support model but he brings incredibly high levels of survivability to the crew. If you feel you need to bring the extra mobility and healing then he is a good fit. You do give up a lot of flexibility to bring him so take that into consideration.
JOHAN CREEDY: A good brawler with single model condition removal. If you are scared of conditions enough then you can bring him, but he is expensive and again.. Another brawler.. We don’t need that role. 2/5
MALIFAUX CHILD: Just.. Why? I personally do not think this model has any action worth copying. Sure you can use it to add more upgrades, but the points are better spent on other support pieces. Do not take it. 1/5
THE MIDNIGHT STALKER: The Outcast premier schemer. The Stalker is a bit pricey in an elite crew, but he is still one of the best schemers we have access to. He is a frequent take when his unparalleled speed and action economy are needed, such as break the line or even with deep diving schemes in certain matchups. He isn’t impervious to dedicated assassins so be sure to send him to the correct places on the board to be effective. He is proficient at scheming and taking on other schemers. 3/5
PRIDE: A personal favorite, Pride is a denial tool particularly into dive crews who want to assassinate your support pieces. His anti-cheating abilities can lock an opponent down and guarantee their doom. He isn’t always necessary but he helps against aggressive matchups. Be careful as he is another henchman meaning you will often have 4x soulstone users on the table. That can be taxing if you try to use the stones on all of them and their triggers or defence. 3/5
PROSPECTOR: A solid choice for any Outcast crew, the prospector brings some scheme marker shenanigans to the crew. Ideal as an anti schemer due to his ranged scheme removal, he is best picked into pools where his abilities can be useful and you are low on soulstones. By the end of the game he will have cost you between 3-4 stones on average so his initial price tag is a bit deceiving. I take him mainly as a breakthrough counter to remove scheme markers and any other pools with similar potential. 3/5
Additional Masters: I do not believe the keyword can afford the 16-17 points needed to bring in an additional master. I do not think this crew gains enough value for what they give up. For that reason I hold that this crew should not hire additional masters.
NOTE: I have not included any out of keyword models other than the versatile models due to sheer number.
So the Freikorps have access to the three faction upgrades as listed below, but they also have the equipment upgrades they hand out during the game. I will go over each and its potential uses. Note that due to the reliance upon situation, I will not rank any of the upgrades as i have found each to be an mvp in different games.
Generic Upgrades: Outcast generic upgrades are usually considered rather bad at least in comparison to what the opponents have access to. What this really means is outcasts are less reliant on their upgrades and instead can add them if and when they will be relevant tools.
- SERVANT OF DARK POWERS: I love to take this on VON SCHILL himself as the initial mobility actually can help both his original and title cards. In the original Von Schill, it really ends up being 3 healing per kill due to Survivalist. The added mobility at the beginning helps him spend more AP turn one giving out upgrades to the crew instead of trying to only move up. For Iron-Heart it helps give him access to healing when he kills, and he can usually kill whatever he attacks. On other models it has middling success, but has potential on the FREIKORPSMANN to add increased survivability and skirmishing potential with other scheme runners.
- SOLDIER FOR HIRE: Probably one of the only keywords who can get some real use out of this upgrade, this is great to put onto a scout who will likely be skirmishing on the flanks and fighting against scheme marker dropping models. Do not rely on the minion ability to happen, but it is nice when it does. If you want less aggressive survivability on Von Schill, you can also put this on him.
- WANTED CRIMINAL: A weird upgrade in the crew. It is good on really anyone due to the added mobility, but it works very good onto the Scout or Freikorpsmann for the Disguised ability, helping to add to their survivability. I have also put it on the THE MIDNIGHT STALKER for the added scheming potential. That is really where you want this, on a schemer.
If it isn’t obvious, these are mostly good to add survivability to your scheme runners. The reason for this is the Freikorps crew likes to function as a loose buble in ideal situations. These upgrades allow you to spread out a little more to get some scheming done.
Equipment Upgrades: The main keyword mechanic is the hand out these upgrades from Von Schill, the Steam Trunk, or the Metallurgist. They are all good in specific situations so I will talk about those and the potential uses.
- GRENADE BELT: Shockwave attacks are usually not good until you can spam them as it taxes the opponents hand. This means this upgrade is one of the more highly situational options. It is great in an Iron-Heart list due to Explosive Payload increasing damage received from other area attacks. Where the real utility comes is the Burnt to a Crisp trigger allowing ranged anti-scheming. Put this onto any model that can guarantee suits with abilities (Hannah, Librarian, Metallurgist, Engineer, Freikorpsman, in that order) or the stone users (master and henchman).
- LAND MINES: Many crews do not have ways to ignore terrain and this upgrade helps to lock down areas against those matchups. It’s not as reliable to do damage, but unless a model spends the AP to remove the mines or has other ways around them, they can cause a lot of headaches when you need to reach certain areas such as the center for Claim Jump. The Demise is more of a defensive deterrent but do not rely on it as many will just shoot you to death. It is better to use this as a last minute equipment when you know an opponent is about to kill a model. Put this onto the DRACHEN TROOPER or the STEAM TRUNK to increase the damage of their Demise.
- REINFORCED ASSAULT SHIELD: A more reliable upgrade as damage reduction is always useful. Note it does not drop off a model until the shielded condition on the model is reduced to 0. That means VON SCHILL - IRON-HEART cannot use Pass it Off until the opponent attacks.
- ROCKET BOOTS: A very versatile and incredibly useful upgrade. It both adds mobility onto the model as well as can provide reliable damage, something the beaters of this crew like a lot. Put it on schemers to give them better speed or on beaters to get into the crew quicker. Be careful as sending a model unsupported into the enemy is asking for death. Arik and Hannah can usually survive a turn doing this, but it is still a risky decision and shouldn’t be done without consideration.
- ROCKET LAUNCHER: The attack on this card is good already before considering the models you want to put it on. The models who can guarantee suits can make sure to trigger Critical Strike and sometimes even twice. The scout ignores Concealment and friendly fire, also possibly having a stat 7 due to Pursue. This also is great on the Steam Trunk as it does not normally have an attack.
Overall, each equipment has a lot of potential utility and getting used to using the correct one at the correct time is key to the keyword. Iron-heart is friendlier to Land Mines and Rocket boots as he has an easier time with Pass Off with them, but do not disregard the others on him. He can still get good use out of the rest, particularly early and with the support of the Freikorpsmann.