Monday, 15 December 2014

Sweet Dreams Part Two: Dreamer Base Card

Welcome to part two of the Sweet Dreams Tactica where we start delving deep into the rules and tactics of Dreamer. You can find Part 1 here. This article will cover everything on the Dreamer’s base card, so prepare for a long read. Let’s start with his stat line. Dreamer’s statline is all over the map. He’s got a fantastic Wp of 7 and an amazingly fast Wk 7. However he has no Cg value, a terrible Df of 4 and the lowest wound count of any Master in the game with 6. He is also height 1, which is both a blessing, in that he is easy to hide from enemies, and a curse, in that it is very easy to block his healing aura and defensive trigger targets with things that normally wouldn’t affect a height 2 model (such as low fences). I have since been informed by more knowledgeable players that I have interpreted the rules incorrectly. Apparently as long as the model in question has line of sight and is in range the aura still works. Thanks Joel Henry for the correction. Makes dreamer even better than I thought. Mwahahaha. What this leaves us with is a Master who is incredibly fast but very delicate (at least until we look at his abilities).

The Waking Condition and Pleasant Dreams
Before I go over Dreamer’s abilities and actions individually, it is important to cover the Waking Condition, the ways it can be increased/decreased, and what it means for Dreamer. The most important ability on Dreamer’s basecard is Release Nightmares which explains how the Dreamer/Chompy mechanic works. Note that Chompy and Dreamer can never be in play at the same time. Whenever Dreamer reaches Waking 4, Chompy is summoned anywhere within 6” and LOS; Dreamer is immediately buried and removes all conditions from the model (including Waking). The Waking condition may not be removed through the actions of other friendly models (Note that enemy models can remove Waking; watch out for Johan if you are trying to bring Chompy out). Dreamer increases his Waking by 1 every time he summons a model (either through Daydreaming on the base card or with Manifest Nightmares from the Dreams of Pain upgrade summoning). If he has the Restless Dreams upgrade Waking also increases any time Dreamer damages an enemy with a SH attack. The only way you can actively manipulate Dreamer’s Waking condition, outside of summoning Chompy when you hit Waking 4, is with is with the (0) tactical action: Tucked In, which reduces the Waking condition by one. Knowing when to lower this condition and when not to is important; Waking is a balance between summoning models, including Chompy, and having a stronger healing aura through Pleasant Dreams.

Pleasant Dreams allows any model activating within a six inch aura to heal 3 damage when they activate. Note that this is ANY model. Most of Dreamer’s synergy is with Nightmares and/or minions but this ability allows him to keep other models healthy, without costing any activation points. This healing aura is tied to the Waking condition as for each point of Waking on the Dreamer the aura healing is reduced by one. Therefore, Waking 0 it remains at 3, Waking 1 it is down to 2, Waking 2 is down to 1, and by Waking 3 Dreamer is no longer healing those around him. Getting to Waking 4 allows you to reset this to 0 by summoning Chompy and sacrificing him to bring Dreamer back. Sometimes it is better to use Tucked In to manage the healing aura (by summoning twice and then using it you are able to end at Waking 1 rather than Waking 2), whereas others it is better to summon Chompy by getting to Waking 4 and then unburying Dreamer back at Waking 0. This is the key mechanic to playing Dreamer and depends hugely on upgrades, strategies, schemes, and many other in-game variables. Getting to grips with this mechanic is key to becoming a good Dreamer player as healing all models with 6” (when they activate) and summoning are both incredibly powerful abilities, and learning to balance the two is important.

Incorporeal allows Dreamer to halve the damage of Sh and Ml attacks. This means he is fairly tough against most mid-level attacks. This can allow Dreamer to take much more damage than 6 wounds would seem to entail (especially when using Soul stones for damage prevention). However it is important to watch out for Ca and indirect damage such as blasts, simple duels, and conditions. Incorporeal also allows Dreamer to ignore and be ignored by terrain during any movement or push. This makes Dreamer INCREDIBLY fast. Combined with three actions and walk 7 Dreamer can get almost anywhere on the board during one activation. This is fantastic for schemes like entourage, escaping enemies, or becoming a late game objective runner. I often find my games end with Dreamer zipping 14 inches away on the last turn and placing a final scheme marker to assure me of completing a scheme. Or moving 21 inches into base contact with an enemy for Take Prisoner. It also means Dreamer only has to walk about half as many times as another master would in the same position, allowing more AP for other actions. This speed is one of the key advantages Dreamer has and often comes in handy in a variety of ways.

Safe in My Bed
The final ability on his card is his Df/Wp trigger Safe in my Bed. This triggers on a Mask which is inbuilt into Df but not Wp (this is very important to remember as it means you will need to cheat/stone for a mask when a model is targeting your Wp. Since it is rarer than attacks targeting Df it is easy to forget to do this and leave Dreamer in a precarious position). This trigger allows Dreamer to discard a card to make a friendly Nightmare in 3” suffer the effects, including triggers, of the action. Because of the timing of this action, it means all the flips are done against Dreamer and then the result in applied to the nominated model. This means that you can’t take advantage of another model’s Hard to Wound or Terrifying. However, you can take advantage of armour and Hard to Kill since these abilities come into play after the damage flip has been done. Utilizing this trigger is central to the survivability of Dreamer. Dreamer will usually want to keep a couple cards in hand for turns where he will be threatened to make sure he can he use his trigger. 

In my mind, there are two ideal targets for this trigger: Models that can tank a shot or models that are cheap and replaceable. Daydreams are the perfect example of the latter as they are easily re-summonable and will die to basically any hit. These are the models you will usually want to use against big hitters as anything that does over 2 damage is all the same to them. Two good tanks for Dreamer to utilize are Stitched Togethers, and Teddy. Stitched are great because they are Hard to Kill, which means they are unable to be killed by one attack (as long as they are above 1 wound). Furthermore, when they activate they will heal up past hard to kill and be able to continue tanking for Dreamer. Teddy is a great tank for weak-medium damaging attacks, as he has Regeneration alongside Dreamers aura to heal him. With 11 wounds he is hard to take down from full health as well so he is capable of tanking multiple shots for Dreamer if necessary. These are the three models I generally find Dreamer using his defensive trigger on, especially Daydreams. In a pinch Dreamer can use his trigger on any Nightmare, but you have to be careful that damaging that model does not put it at risk if you need it to accomplish your goals for the turn. Finally, sometimes it is better to let Dreamer take the damage, either because you can mitigate it with soulstones (specifically true with the Aether Connection upgrade), because Dreamer can afford to be a little damaged, or because letting Dreamer die is less disadvantageous to your game plan than having the models around him die.

All right done the front half of the card. On to the back!

Dreamer has only one attack on his base card. It is Sh 6 with 1/2/4 damage and is a 12” gun or 1” combat weapon that targets Df. He has two inbuilt triggers. On masks all Nightmares within 6” of the target push their walk towards the target. I have never used this trigger but I could see the potential uses, however it is very situational. One situation I could see using it is to walk one of your own models and then shoot it with a mask to give your other nightmares a free pseudo-walk action. It would result in some extra movement but would cause your models to bunch up so it would depend on the context whether or not this is a worthwhile trade, particularly in the early turns.

On a crow the target receives paralysed if it has WP 4 or less. This trigger is FANTASTIC. WP 4 is pretty rare, but Dreamer has an inbuilt mechanism to lower WP by summoning day dreams near the target or hiring widow weaver. It shouldn’t be too hard to lower a targets WP by 1-2 points which is enough to get most models to WP 4. In a recent game I managed to flood the turf war area with web markers and daydreams and easily paralyzed both Barbaros and Lilith, which was the turning point in the game. In my opinion this trigger is the main reason to use the Dreamers attack action. Any time you can paralyse someone without them having to fail a simple duel is fantastic.

As mentioned earlier, Dreamer has a (0) action to lower his Waking condition by 1. Learning when it is worth using is key to managing the Waking condition and Dreamer’s healing aura.

Dreamer has two other tactical actions. These are the actions on Dreamer’s basecard that will generally see the most usage.

Day Dreaming
First is Daydreaming which is Ca allows Dreamer to summon a daydream for a 7 or an alp for a 7 mask (on a trigger). When this action succeeds Dreamer gets +1 Waking (as mentioned earlier) and summons a daydream within 6”. With the trigger you can summon in an Alp instead. This is the easiest way to increase your Waking as it is a simple duel with an inbuilt suit. It is important to make sure you don’t have 3 daydreams in play if you are planning to try to bring Chompy out, as it is difficult to go from Waking 0 or 1 to Waking 4 when you can only increase Waking through opposed actions (Sh attacks with Restless Dreams) or summoning models that require a suit (Alps and Dreams of Pain summons). Day dreams are great for pushing around your models and being used as targets for Dreamer’s defensive trigger, since they are so easy to summon. Alps are useful to tie up enemy models, although they are summoned much more rarely than daydreams and aren’t as central to Dreamer’s play style. After I have finished the articles on Dreamer/Chompy and his upgrades, I will be writing an article focusing on Alps/Daydreams in which I will go into more detail on these models as I believe there is enough tactical tricks to pull off with these models that it deserves its own article. 

Empty Night
Empty Night is a buff action with a Ca 7(Mask) and TN 11(Mask). It has triggers on every suit, which I will go into detail on individually. This action may target any nightmare OR MINION within 6”. Much of Dreamers synergy is Nightmare only (ie his defensive trigger and day dreams fantastic 4” push action). The fact that this action can target minions is amazing and makes Dreamer synergize quite well with some of the great minions of Neverborn (such as Illuminated, Silurids, and Waldgeists) as well as all of his Nightmares. Watch out for things that cancel out triggers however as this severely neuters Dreamer as a buff engine. I personally find this action is what makes Dreamer so fun to play. His flexibility is off the charts. Since all you need is a 4, it shouldn’t be that hard to have a card for any given suit in hand. It also makes Dreamer crews able to use lots of low cards (4-6s) to power very powerful results. Between this action, summoning Daydreams/Alps for a 7 and Daydreams pushing nightmares for a 5 of any suit, all cards higher than a 3 will be used in a Dreamer crew. On to the actual triggers:

For a Mask (inbuilt) the target pushes 6” and performs a (1) ML attack. This means that for a 4 of ANY SUIT Dreamer can push a model up to 6” in any direction AND they get a free ML attack. This is great to increase the mobility of models who can’t be targeted by Daydream pushes (ie non nightmare minions) in the early turns and even better in the late turns. Pushing a Teddy or Illuminated 6” AND getting a free attack is a great trade of one of Dreamers AP for 2 AP on a great model. Also being able to push models through severe terrain or out of combat for a 4 of any card is fantastic. This ability synergises well with so many models in so many ways. As previously mentioned my favourite is pushing teddy 6” into combat, where he will get a free ML attack and then can Flurry when he is activated. So instead of Charging and getting 2ML attacks he will get 4ML attacks. This is a great use of resources. Also with the Otherworldly upgrade you can give Teddy the draw a card every time he damages attack and end up drawing four cards as well. Not to mention the fact that you can accomplice him (with Otherworldly) and get all these 4 attacks before your opponent has a chance to activate. I do so love doing that with a Teddy. You can also use it on engaged models with large engagement ranges to push them out of the enemies engagement range but still get a free Ml attack and concurrently keep the enemy tied up in combat (Lilitu is perfect for this).

For a Crow the target gains Fast. Wow. Fast is one of the best conditions in the game. It is not as AP efficient as the Mask trigger since you are really trading one of Dreamers AP for an AP on another models instead of basically 2 AP. However, it is significantly more flexible. I find if I am wanting to do damage with the model I will usually go for the mask trigger, however if I want to do anything else than fast is better (if I have a crow in hand). One of the most common ways I use this is to give Fast to scheme runners on turn 1. I can give fast to two Insidious Madnesses on turn one and have them run 21” across the board (ignoring terrain due to incorporeal) this does a lot to overcome any gaps in terrain on the board and allows you to get phenomenal positioning to start scoring schemes on turn two. This is particularly good in Stake a Claim as it can get you in position to drop a marker each on turn 2, making it very hard to stop you from getting Stake a claim points. This tactic would also work on SIlurids, Tots, or other fast scheme runners. This same tactic can be used for schemes like deliver a message (allowing you to move and then take the necessary two action) or strike schemes from further away than your opponent expected (jumping 14” and then placing a marker to score points for plant explosives is always fun). Scheme completion is the key to the game so I generally consider this the most powerful trigger of the 4. This is a trigger that I am often willing to spend a high crow or a soulstone for the suit to get off as it can sometimes single-handedly score you your scheme points (alongside clever positioning). Another combo I haven’t yet used but want to try is giving fast to an illuminated, having him use his SH attack (with a high mask in hand), making sure I get the trigger to create a brilliance marker, and then Charging in to do +2 DG with his ML attacks. Since there are far fewer ways to pass out brilliance in a Dreamer crew, as I generally don’t find I have the space/need for beckoners, this could be a great (if very situational) use of this ability to up their damage threat considerably. This is especially useful if you are running two illuminated and the enemy has bunched together where you can get two models touching the brilliance marker. I’m sure there are many other ways to take advantage of this ability that I have not touched on which is kind of the point, fast is amazing and incredibly flexible. Even though he can’t pass Fast to everyone (stupid Nicodem/Tara…) it is still a great ability that I keep in mind at all times.

On a Ram the target heals two damage. This is pretty self-explanatory: healing is nice. Healing two damage without needing to cheat a moderate on the damage flip (like most healing) is great. This is definitely more situational than the two above triggers, however having some healing in the crew is always nice. There are two specific situations I want to mention where I focus on getting this trigger outside of the general applicability of healing. First and foremost is to do with summoning multiple models (with Dreams of Pain). Since the models come in on 1 wound being to heal them is obviously useful, however there are two specific summons that I specifically like to heal with this. Insidious Madness (since this heals them to full health) and Stitched Togethers (since it brings them above Hard to Kill). Usually the Dreamers healing aura is enough for these guys, but if they are at risk of being attacked before they can activate (and thus heal) this could be a useful trigger for keeping them alive. Secondly, and even more Niche is for those rare times when Mr. Tannen and a 13 of masks/Red Joker allows you to summon a Teddy. Since Teddy has so many wounds it will take multiple turns for him to heal from the Dreamers aura/regen. Therefore on those rare occasions when I find I can summon a Teddy I always try to hit him with the ram trigger twice to heal him 4 damage, which will combine with Regen 2 and 3 heal from Dreamer aura to have him at 10 wounds after his first activation, making it harder for the enemy to finish him off. Also worth mentioning that Lelu and Lilitu both heal when one of them is healed (if they are both below full health) so this ability is also good for them if both are hurt (though I generally find they heal themselves up well enough between Regen 1 on both of them and being in Dreamers healing Aura).

The final trigger is Tomes which allows you the remove ONE condition from the target AND take the action again. Dreamer is the only model with condition removal in Neverborn, which allows you to not worry about taking Johan when you are facing crews that rely heavily on conditions. Having condition removal on your leader is incredibly flexible, the only weakness being he can’t remove conditions from non-nightmare, non-minions, including himself. Also the fact that you get to take the action again is amazingly AP-efficient. It allows you to do a ton of condition removal with only one AP if you have the tomes or soulstones to do it. It is very fulfilling to watch McMourning throw around a ton of poison and then use 3 low tomes and 1AP to remove poison off three different models. It also combos well with summoning as you can remove slow from the model and then on the additional action you can push the model 6” (or heal it/give it fast if you have the suited cards).

Since Dreamer plays so differently depending on which limited upgrade you take, I will be leaving certain questions, like how many Soul Stones to take, for the individual entries on those upgrades. Part Three of Sweet Dreams will cover Chompy Bits and the Restless Dreams Limited upgrade.

I would love to hear everyone’s comments on anything I may have missed or interesting tricks that would be relevant to this article. Hope this was helpful to anyone interested in Dreamer


  1. Being new to Dreamer, all I can contribute is a hearty 'Thank you!' :)

  2. Again I must say this is brilliant. My only concern is you giving away all of dreamers tricks! Lets hope non dreamer players don't read this!


  3. I think non-dreamer players could use the help. They are already starting behind the eight-ball by not playing Dreamer ;).

  4. This line of blog posts is pure win - Really enjoy reading in depth like this, especially from a new players prospective !

    Would enjoy video examples / more posts like this about all aspects of malifaux - You have a great understanding of the game and it really comes across well !

    Thank you !

  5. such an awesome blog, I am a new player and this is so helpful!

  6. Fantastic article, many thanks from all of us who are starting Dreamer with our Black Friday purchases. One question though about "Safe in My Bed". It says "after an attack action succeeds" you discard the card to make the nightmare the new target. You determine whether the action succeeds before going to the damage flip. Wouldn't that mean that the damage flips would be performed against the new target, and thus you would get the benefit of hard/impossible to wound and other abilities?

  7. This is what I originally thought as well before being corrected. You declare your trigger after the action succeeds but your trigger only occurs after damaging (because all triggers occur at that stage). Therefore things like hard to wound don't benefit you because it occurs AFTER the damage flip. Also the trigger says that the other model suffers the effects of the attack not that it becomes the target of the attack. Things like Incorporeal or Armour would occur because they come after the damage flip but sadly you can't just through everything onto Teddy and take advantage of Impossible to Wound. I feel like someone has explained this better than I have here but I couldn't find the forum post where it came up.

  8. Ah, ok, so it is a timing issue from when defensive triggers occur. I can see that.