LUCAS MCCABE, RELIC HUNTER is a dual faction master between Explorers Society and TEN THUNDERS, and has a very different playstyle between the two factions. This Tactica will focus on the Explorer’s Society, but hopefully will provide good advice for Ten Thunders players in the WASTREL keyword as well. McCabe is best equipped for intensely mobile lists, with many of his models able to cover a frankly absurd amount of ground in a single activation, though he can adapt to the game state and put out a surprising amount of damage with clever uses of his artifacts.
His Artifacts are the lynchpin of his crew. Only Lucas himself, and his totem (LUNA), can toss the artifacts out, and they can do so from any corpse or scrap markers on the board. For this reason, models that produce Scrap or Corpses on demand are on a premium around him. Oftentimes, this ends up being his dog Luna, or a HUCKSTER with the Inflated Worth trigger, though JESSIE HALLIDAY can also provide some by eating a different marker. (A notable mention is hiring DR. BEEBE and CALYPSO MK II out of keyword, as well.)
The three Artifacts are TIMEWORN BLADE, which gives Precise and Blade Storm, PHANTASMAL MASK that gives Life Leech and Protective Spirits, and FADED MIRROR, which gives Know the Warrior, and Equality of Fate. In addition, EVERY artifact gives the model who equips it Fast, if it’s been equipped the same turn as their activation, and they all have the bonus action to toss it out to other friendly models on a 4 (or a 2, with McCabe’s “Adventure Awaits”).
LUCAS MCCABE, RELIC HUNTER: Lucas McCabe has three very important features for his own activation. The ability to be INSANELY fast, the ability to hand out upgrades, and a Netgun that ruins the activation of multiple models in an AoE. His Netgun targets Movement and blasts Slow and Staggered. You need a Moderate for the Blast, so unless you can Focus a shot, it’s still better to just target whoever you need to Slow directly, but it’s still a remarkably good tool for debilitating an enemy crew. His Ride With Me allows him to help slower models like SIDIR ALCHIBAL or CRYPTOLOGIST up the field, and his Bull Whip is a solid tool if he needs to get around an enemy. I usually take it only if I desperately need the damage in melee, or if I need the Like the Wind trigger, though. It lost quite a bit of threat from his old days.
When he dies, he turns into LUCAS MCCABE, DISMOUNTED HUNTER, though I wouldn’t recommend using this as an excuse to be reckless with him. When Dismounted, he loses Adventure Awaits, which is a SUBSTANTIAL power loss for his keyword, and his Netgun (as well as a massive amount of movement).
“Careful, It’s Cursed!” can be remarkably useful to recycle artifacts you’re not using anymore, as well as apply pressure to the enemy hand. This pulse, combined with the Cryptologists “Cursed Translation”, are the only way you have of pressuring enemy willpower in the keyword, which can be VERY relevant in some matchups.
LUNA: Luna has exactly one job, but she’s very good at it. She takes an action to dig up a scrap marker. Then, if you have a 6 in hand you’re willing to spend (8 if you’ve lost Adventure Awaits!), you eat that scrap for an artifact. Then, you spend the bonus action on the artifact tossing it to any friendly within 12 inches. Remember that Carry the Goods doubles the range of handing out artifacts to ALL friendly Wastrels in a 3 inch aura, and she teleports to whoever you just tossed the toy to regardless of who was doing the tossing. Don’t expect her to survive too long into the game; her ability to help your win condition so efficiently and her inability to survive hits reliably are a bad combination. Your enemy is likely going to kill her. That’s okay.
These Artifacts can be given to any friendly Wastrel, or any friendly Minion. For this reason, any model that is not in keyword, and not a minion, has to have a very important job to be there; not having Artifact access is a serious detriment to their ability to manage the crew mechanics.
DESPER LARAUX: Practically an autoinclude. Remarkably fast (remember that, with Adventure Awaits, he only needs a 5 to Leap), ignores all terrain, and his damage output is much higher than his card might imply. It can be a real “Gotcha” moment when he’s doing a Min 3 attack ignoring armor. The ability to steal enemy soulstones with three premium triggers for the crew can’t be understated, and Leap Aside means attacking him is a risk, since there’s a chance he just leaps through a wall if he wins the duel.
SIDIR ALCHIBAL: Still a solid henchman, Sidir is much more of a viable option in Explorers than in Ten Thunders lists, where Ruthless is much more rare. While he’s not going to be winning any races with Mv 4, giving him Fast and Precise means he can use Swagger to get into range with a focus, then do massive quantities of damage. Df 6, Parry, and Juggernaut means he can hold the line better than most models in your crew, as well. Remember that with access to three Ride With Mes in the crew and cheap Chain Gang minions, he usually doesn’t have to move himself into position before he’s a threat.
JESSIE HALLIDAY: At 7 Soulstones, the ability to turn off interacts, and ways to generate scrap markers for your crew, it’s easy to assume that Jessie Halliday is an amazing hire for every occasion. Sadly, this has not ever been my experience. No melee attack means she can’t use the TIMEWORN BLADE, nor does she have any way to escape engagement apart from just disengaging normally. For a hench, she’s about as tanky as wet tissue paper, and her shockwave only requires a 12 to ignore. Coupled with the fact it’s usually best used on the scheme runners that are often isolated from their team, it rarely applies the kind of pressure you want a shockwave to do. She can be a good pick if you expect a ton of enemy markers to remove, but I would never consider her first.
ROUGH RIDER: At 7 stones, with a 14 inch gun, 6 movement, and two mobile bonus actions, the Rough Rider is a fantastic minion for most of Wastrel’s favorite ways to play. Ride With Me’s Field Kit trigger doesn’t require a success, so if you need to heal, you can cheat in a low Tomes to get a straight flip heal (that can be cheated). However, remember that with Adventure Awaits, their Ride With Me only requires a 5 as well! Survivalist is an ability that has some niche utility with Field Kit, but it’s far more useful when you attach the Life Leech upgrade to them. Healing for 2 every time an enemy activates near them can make it so your enemies have the annoying choice to focus heavy fire into them, or accept they’re not going to die. Even if all they do is Ride With Me your threats into position and then take fire that would have killed Desper, they’ve done enough. I usually bring at least one.
HUCKSTER: Hucksters are honestly why you’re declaring Wastrel. False Claim that needs a 4, Secret Passage that needs a 6, the ability to gain Fast easily via Artifacts, and the ability to print soulstones or cards, Hucksters truly have it all. They can teleport 36 inches in a single activation, or (more usefully) 24 inches with a False Claim to get whatever schemes you need. And, just to top it all off, a nice Inflated Worth trigger to give you scrap, both for artifacts, and for incidental card draw via Looted Supplies! If you lose Adventure Awaits, their high TNs become much more painful, though, so be careful.
CRYPTOLOGIST: Cryptologists are a weird package. The ability to ignore the start of activation effects is niche, but helpful (Remember that it’s not ENEMY models, so during friendly model activations, you simply ALWAYS choose to not discard the card, and thereby pick which effects you want to trigger. If CANDY is giving you grief, these boys are a great way to completely ignore her). Antique Timepiece is definitely an interesting ability, often used to simply reapply Fast in keyword, though there are more niche uses. Having an Obey trigger is situationally very helpful (and while they normally need a 9 for the action, remember Adventure Awaits turns that into a 7). For six stones, I like them much more than I thought I originally would; they come with several incidental tools, and I often find myself using at least ONE of them in a game. Having a Willpower attack with cheap blasts can be very helpful, as there are NO other good Willpower attacks in Wastrel to abuse low WP enemies directly. Not an auto include, but a toolbox full of nifty tricks.
RUFFIAN: Cheap, with Swagger and Ruthless. For five stones, they’re far from breaking the game, but Ruthless is still something Explorers lack in, and their ability to turn off defensive triggers with Fast, Precise, and free Focused can catch people by surprise. Mostly they’re useful for minor positioning tricks, via Chain Gang, or for just chaining more actions for cheap, by grabbing an artifact, getting Fast, and passing it on when they’re done with it.
BOTANIST: Being a Versatile minion with good abilities is an essential, because that allows them to take Artifacts. In addition, constantly eating Scrap markers for those trinkets allows them to acquire Grow tokens VERY rapidly. Botanists have always been good scheme runners, and their ability to gain +2 to all stats and Fast turn 1 only accentuates that.
CALYPSO MK II and DR. BEEBE: Many people consider the EVS package an autoinclude for scrap generation and general value. I have always been hesitant to take them (12 stones is a lot for a model that can’t get the Artifacts), but I would be remiss to not include them as a strong mention. Using ANY low Tomes card to generate scrap for both card draw and artifacts has decided value, and as always, Calypso and Beebe are excellent in crossing the map at incredible speeds, doing AoE damage and pushing everyone out of their way.
PHANTASMAL MASK: Life Leech, and a Bonus action to pulse out Shielded, with a trigger to heal 2 and end a condition. I have a personal love for slapping this onto Rough Riders, using Survivalist to make them a proper nuisance. Place them in the middle of enemy support bubbles and it can be a nightmare chasing them down to actually kill them. This is a pretty solid grab for models that want to be near the fight, but not a high damage dealer.
TIMEWORN BLADE: When anyone is talking about how scared they are of McCabe’s damage (assuming they’re not referring to him pre-Errata), they’re OFTEN thinking of Timeworn Blade. The Blade Storm bonus action (with Severe Injury trigger) is very situational, being that it attacks ALL models nearby, not just friendlies. However, giving Fast and Precise to anyone means that whoever gets this bad boy ignores a LARGE portion of defensive tricks in the game, and you can toss it around to make almost anyone in the crew a killing threat. This should be one of your most mobile artifacts; NEVER keep it on one model too long. For that reason, it’s frowned upon to put this on models that have essential Bonus Actions, and I’d never recommend putting it on a Rough Rider.
FADED MIRROR: Equality of Fate, and Know the Warrior. Or just “the card draw upgrade.” This is going to be the artifact you often take out the least, and you can be forgiven for forgetting you have access to it. However, it is vitally important if you can’t seem to keep Scrap or Corpses around for Looted Supplies on all your models. If you intend to use it, you should almost always do so on Ruffians or Sidir. Their Swagger means they can walk to get the intended focus, and then cheat a low card to cycle for a high one. Still, between the other two options, this is the lowest priority artifact to be tossed out, and some people just consider it a way to give Fast if you’ve already handed out all your better toys.
This is simply notes and expectations about McCabe’s new tools that are soon to be out. Being that they don’t exist yet, and thus are A: subject to change and B: haven’t been personally tested, these should be taken with a grain of salt.
LUCAS MCCABE - TOMB DELVER has much higher damage on average, and effectively raises the defense of friendlies if he has Artifacts spread around the map. The main losses are his insanely high movement, and his Adventure Awaits! ability, which helped his crew with a great deal of card efficiency considering the massive number of TNs almost every Wastrel owns. While he lost the amazing AoE Slow-Staggered gun, he gained an AoE Stun-gun, which can be equally brutal in cutting away action efficiency from your opponent’s crew.
CORPSE CURATOR is an amazing pickup. The ability to count as Scrap or Corpse means you always have SOMETHING with which to apply Artifacts, even if it damages a friendly model to do so. However, more essentially, he permanently counts for friendly Looted Supplies models, and he should be given the buddy system to give you a VERY reliable source of sustained card draw. I’m definitely excited to try out both for the Wastrel crew.