Thursday, April 5, 2012

Loving the Lurkers: Part 1 of 3 (Players Guide to Lurkers)

Lurkers are a different breed from playing a Threshold team and requires a totally different mindset at some points and yet some the elements in building a good Threshold team still applies to building a solid Lurker villains to challenge a Threshold player.  In this article I am going to break it into two parts, the first will discuss understanding the importance of leadership in the Lurker list and the second part building that list into something effective.

Command Structure Part 1: Picking a Leader
First, you have to develop a balance of leaders to followers. By this, you should have at least one model that has the “Command” ability so you can match a Threshold team on a basic level by being able to activate not only that model but two other models as well. By adding other models with “Lieutenant”, adding the “Improved Command” or adding other models with the ability to “Command” to allow more options for you to move more pieces in the game. Sadly, the last option can eat your points up quickly and the first two are easier to purchase with 1 extra build point yet is limiting in that same fact.

Models with Command: Cult Leader, Fishman (with Demagogue), Ghoul King, High Priest, Mad Scientist, Mummy, Rouge Threshold Character, Serpentman (with Demagogue) and the Witch.

Also, the Rouge Threshold Agent has Lieutenant and some other unit types like Swarms can take the Queen option to command just their specific type of models on the table, a cheaper option in some respects but limited in application.

Looking at the list above, you have a good variety of options, but many are very expensive as the cheapest two are 5 and 6 points (Cult Leader and Mad Scientist) and the highest could cost you 12 and 15 points base with no upgrades (such as the upgraded Fishman and High Priest). The Mummy and the Witch are your middle of the road options, but the witch is very weak but a spell caster plus when you start into upgrades she can start to be pricey also and she can only Command her Familiars. The Mummy is solid except he causes Fear so you have to look at other options to keep your human Lurkers from making Resolve checks. When you are looking at your build, this is a critical step as it determines what you have leftover to upgrade your leader and add to the rest of the Lurker list.

Another option is again to take Lieutenant on a cheap option like a Cultist (costing 2 points) that would allow you to activate another model. So, if you had a model with command (that is 3 models active), a Lieutenant can add another one allowing you to chain a Lurker group together allowing you to activate more models. The only downside is keeping within command range which I will talk about later.

Command Structure Part 2: The Minions
Every good villain has a cast of minions to die on his behalf and carry out his evil plans, so your leader should to!

Adding the shock troops can seem like an easy task but can quickly become a daunting task once you start looking at various options including Skills, Weapons, Plot Points, Spells and other Upgrades.

The only real limit is what is available for you to use as Lurker models as the rest is up to you. Do you feel like building something to a theme or just putting out an A team of villains to challenge the Threshold team?
One of the easy solutions to any psychology issues you may have in the game is simply taking the “Drug Crazed” Plot Point for 4 points. Pricey, but if you are human heavy and there is some factor of psychology this could become a very wise investment. A good case in point is the King in Yellow Scenario that would keep your “actors” sane while they summon the Yellow King in their play.

Many missions also require you to have at least as many Threshold models that the other player has or perhaps even one or two more. This has to be considered along with the command structure you want and how much you want to be able to activate Lurkers in the game to do things. If you have too few Lurkers once you take a loss or two, you may find you have wasted Command options and become frustrated.

An option to consider is taking some “Alert” Lurkers as I call them AL’s. They sit in a spot and guard a spot. Usually they (Cultists or Henchmen) have a rifle, shotgun or .45 pistol (if anything a .22) and they wait for a Threshold model to walk within 10” and you can take a snap shot at them. I found this works well with the Plot Point “The Stars are Right” for some nice rerolls making your Lurker even more effective. Plus, in the event the leader is taken out, they can still maintain their Alert status and be useful as you activate other elements in your Lurker list.

Sometimes a balance to a list is required for a good Lurker list to be effective. If you build a strong hand to hand and no shooting only to go up against a Threshold team packed full of long ranged firepower of rifles for example you could be in for a tough game. Having a good list of ranged ability and hand to hand allows your leader to use his Command skill to where it is best suited. Early on, a Cultist or two with a rifle can snipe at the Threshold team, then as they get closer, the hand to hand elements activate and go forward leaving the “shooter” Lurkers in Alert mode to defend some vital spot or protect something and if anything can be activated to assist in a fight as you take losses in the Lurker list.

Command Structure Part 3: Protecting your Leader

It is vital that you keep your leader from harm when possible as he (or she) is the key element to being able to activate more than one model at a time in the game. A canny Threshold player will try to take out the Leader quickly to limit the Lurker’s ability to act and react to the game giving the Threshold team a huge advantage.

Always try to keep your leader in or around some type of cover to gain some type of cover save, it may even be worthwhile to invest in an upgrade (like a vest or skill) that boosts their ability to survive (extra wound or CON for example) but again, these can get expensive quickly so these options will have to be looked at wisely. Also, try to watch range differences when you’re deploying and moving. Pay attention to the range of the Threshold weapons on the other side, because they will aim your way if possible.

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