I had a choice of
- Mei Feng
- Yan Lo
- The Viks
- Von Schill
Don't forget though it isn't just the master. In choosing a master, you are also choosing a selection of models to go with them and excluding others.
I know it is supposed to be bad to just single play a master. I'm supposed to carefully consider the strategy and my opponents crew and the terrain and hte schemes and my crew select etc.
Unfortunately I have a wife that hates Malifaux, gaming, sci fi, fantasy, geek culture and anything related. She especially hates gaming time. That means I have to be very sure I'll enjoy the few times I do get a game, and the move has made that all the harder.
That meant I had to choose a master I really enjoyed playing. This is a very subjective thing. A master that ticks most boxes but is a bit bland just won't cut it. That ruled out Nicodem, the slowest and most boring master in the game. Von Schill is beyond dull. Does things well. No flash. Misaki just too fragile. Seamus and McMourning are both off with a friend who has kindly agreed to do a load of painting and storage of my ressers (yipee), besides I haven't played them, Levi, Kirai or Lynch. I didn't want to risk a master who was potentially not going to click with me.
That did leave some very interesting choices. Mei Feng, The Viks, Shenlong, Yan Lo and Pandora. All had some strengths and weaknesses. I loved playing all of them. The best games I've had in Malifaux have been with these. Such a difficult choice. Mei Feng feels just a bit limited playstyle wise sometimes and she can suffer some really bad match ups. Before the bizarre Metal Gamin nerf she would have been a contender, but without those.....then again the Mechanical Porkchop is good. The Viks are always a blast. They are the only masters I've written fan fiction about (in which my Blood Vik becomes progressively more skilled and more alcoholically wayward, getting worse after her killing of Perdita). They were really tempting but a bit hit and miss. Some great abilities but perhaps a bit known and the Outcasts as a crew feel a bit bland to me at the moment.
Shenlong. Now that is a good master. Good fun to play. Plenty of opportunities for Kung Fu noises and cinematic moments. Plus he is tough, flexible, can handle most strategies and schemes and brings Sensai Yu to the table. A very, very good choice potentially. Fun and powerful. Not top tier but still a damn good master. He was definitely in my top 3.
Yan Lo. Now this is not a good master. Not remotely. In fact he is dreadful. I've written a two part article on how bad he is previously. Every so often new comers to Yan Lo decide to prove "he's really good if played right. The internet is wrong etc" It is always the same. "Spirits, Izamu, secret playstyle." Never works. Really good players will go "oh but he's a solid master I think, he's not the worst choice, look at Lucius" Yep, if you are one of the best players in the UK scene you can turn Yan Lo into a vaguely solid choice. That's because you are a great player. It is like saying Gordon Ramsey could turn those shitty ingredients from the corner shop into a decent meal; no shit, but most people ain't Gordon and the ingredients remain shit. Still Yan Lo had one big, big plus point for me. I adore playing him. He is just a massive fucking laugh. Proper fun to power up. A tank that no one cares about, but you can do Big Trouble in Little China impressions with. He is the ultimate missed opportunity in the game. It is time Wyrd swallowed their damn pride and admitted he needed a fix and the Shadow Emissary isn't the way to do it. (and fix Lucius and Zoirida whilst you are at it). People like these masters and stick with them, so do them the courtesy of upping their levels and abilities. Not much, just enough to make them roughly level with the "mid tier" masters. All Wyrd need to do is release new cards via the Warvault. They are a higher priority than the metal gamin etc.
Pandora. What a master. The only one who is just as much fun to play as Yan Lo and no one could say she was underpowered. The Mistress of Misery, the Huntress of Hate, the Dark Diva, the one, the only Pandora. There seems to be no situation that dropping Pandora into isn't great. Just stick her in the middle of the enemy and Inflict three times. Make your opponent take about 6-12 or more flips. Enjoy draining their hand and their good mood. People hate facing Pandora. That makes me feel good for all the times I've run Yan Lo and suffered. Or team her with Candy and paralyse stuff, and wreck activation order. That is awesome. Your smug opponent with the crunch combo of doom that they always use, just say no and Pandora makes it so for you. Oh and Fears Given Form on Candy here is great too. Love that. Plus Pandora can kill really big stuff. She can, with care, kill the biggest hitters in the game. Sure she sucks in reconnoitre but everyone hates that anyway, even the people who are good it is. It is a boring strategy and no one enjoys playing it.
Shenlong is absolutely more flexible than Pandora. He can cover any strategy and often carries his crew. The pushes, changes of style and healing are great. He is fun too. A serious master that can compete but still have fun on the table. On the downside he needs a lot of tokens, resource management and ability to know when and how to adapt on the fly. Plus his crews, like most TT crews, are very limited builds due to the poor design of the TT faction overall. Pandora is a bit less flexible but she does what she does better than anyone else in the game. She is unique. It is nice to run a master that people genuinely worry about when they activate. Neverborn are a better designed faction that TT so that is a big plus too.
So it came down to a hard choice between Pandora and Shenlong. Both great. Both are fun. In the end though the tears and frustration of my opponent are too much fun to ignore so it had to be Pandora.