Monday, 1 December 2014

Sweet Dreams: Starting the Dreamer

Hello everyone! Welcome to my first proper blog post. Today I will be talking about the Dreamer. This will be the first in a series of articles covering the greatest master in game. First an introduction: The first time I heard of Malifaux was also the first time I saw the Dreamer box. When I learned the backstory of him, a child who controls monsters in his sleep and inadvertently murders people, I knew that Malifaux was a game I wanted to play. I bought the box shortly after and fell in love with the rules and look of the game. Sadly I never managed to get into version 1.5 as I was still committed to other games at the time. However, with the onset of M2E I threw myself into the game and got the box set painted and ready to go.

Whenever people ask for advice on what crew to start with they will often be met with responses of Lady J, Seamus, Rasputina, etc. This makes sense as they are more straightforward masters and easier to grasp while learning the game. However, I think that a person can start with any Master if they are willing to put the time and energy in to learning their crew. My advice would be: pick whichever master you think is coolest and then study their cards.

For this article I will be going over how I learned to play Dreamer and what I would suggest as keys to focus on when learning the Dreamer. This is specifically written for newcomers to the game, but could be useful for newcomers to Dreamer as well. I like lists, so expect to see them a fair bit in my writing. 

5 Tips for Starting Dreamer

       1) Take Restless Nights and Tantrum upgrades.
Many people who play Dreamer will advise you that Dreams of Pain is the optimal limited upgrade for Dreamer. In many cases this is true, but if you are learning the game (or just learning Dreamer) it is really hard to focus on him as a summoner whilst also learning all his other rules/mechanics and the synergy he has with his crew. Furthermore, many new players start at low points levels (where summoning is far too powerful) and with limited models (again makes summoning difficult). By playing with Restless Dreams and Tantrum you can learn the core mechanics of Dreamer with a more forgiving play style. He is less card intensive and it is much easier to bring out Chompy as a shield for your own protection. Once you have a deep understanding of Dreamer’s core mechanics it will be much easier to add in his summoning engine without being overwhelmed.

       2) Stick with the box and one or two other models
Another key to learning a new master is to focus on a specific set of models and keep playing them until their rules and style are second nature to you. The new plastic box comes with 3 Alps, 3 Daydreams, and Coppelius. The old box came with 2 Stitched Togethers instead of 3 Alps. In my mind the ideal starting core for Dreamer would include all these models as well as Teddy and 2 Insidious Madnesses. When I originally started playing I started with these models, excluding the Madnesses. It didn’t take me long to spot the main weakness in my crew: I lacked objective runners. Insidious Madness’ are great with Dreamer and later on you can summon them when using the Dreams of Pain upgrade. I fell in love with these models so much they inspired my online Malifaux name. I will hopefully be writing a more indepth article on them in the future. This group of models gives you everything Dreamer can summon on his base card, as well as a beater (Teddy), some mid-range multi-function models (Stitched), objective runners (Insidious), and Coppelius. Coppelius is an interesting case as he is a fairly complex model that can be quite difficult to use properly, but he comes in the box so might as well start with him. 

       3) Expand by one model at a time
Once you have your core crew figured out, or you are finding weaknesses in your crew it is time to expand. The key is to not expand too fast. If you go out and buy 5 new models it will take forever to learn them all. In my opinion it is better to stick with your core and slowly expand out to cover weaknesses or just add models. The first model I added (after Insidious) was the Widow Weaver, which gives a great support piece and a henchman for small sized games. I then added the twins Lelu and Lilitu who are key models for Dreamer when he is run as a summoner. With the addition of the twins you will now have all the models Dreamer can summon with his Dreams of Pain upgrade (although you may want to add more stitched and another Insidious madness if you find yourself wanting more of them. I personally am okay with two of each at the moment). After you have all the Nightmare models, it is time to expand out of theme. What you get at this point will depend on if you want to start a second master and/or what you feel like your crew is missing. Waldgeists make great objective holders, Silurids are great for a multitude schemes, Illuminated hit hard for fairly cheap, and a second Teddy, Hooded Rider, or Nekima will give you another expensive beater (especially good for Reckoning).

     4) Dreamers defensive trigger is key to surviving
If I could give only one piece of tactical advice for new Dreamer players to focus on it is this. Dreamer’s survivability is completely tied to his defensive trigger. Six wounds will disappear very quickly, even with Incorporeal. Blasts (bypasses his trigger) and casters (bypasses Incorporeal) are hugely dangerous as well. Remember to always keep a couple nightmares within three inches of Dreamer. And don’t run through your cards so fast that you have nothing left to protect him with, especially if you know he is going to be exposed. Cheap models that are easy to resummon like daydreams and Alps are great for this, as are models with lots of wounds that can heal (like Teddy). Also remember when turning into Chompy that if he goes down Dreamer come out. So you want to know that if that happens Dreamer will be placed within three inches of at least one nightmare. If he ends up on his own in the open he will die.

     5) Focus on your strategies and schemes
This is the advice people will give you whenever you ask any question to do with Malifaux. That being said it is an important one. When you are hiring your crew make sure everyone has a role and that you have plans for how to get your points and interfere with your opponents points. Once the game has started make sure to keep your mind on the score, not on mindlessly killing models or keeping your models alive. Better to win with no models left than lose with your crew alive.

That’s it for now. Over the next few blog posts I will be going over Dreamer himself in depth as well as Lord Chompy Bits and some of the other core pieces for dreamer. And just for good measure I have added a picture of some of my Dreamer crew below. Enjoy!


  1. Great intro. I play dreamer myself and agree with all of your advice. Actually inky just got Lelu and Lilitu so looking forward to reading what you think about them.


  2. Thanks! I think Lilitu is absolutely amazing; she has won me several games. Not as big a fan of Lelu. Will be covering them down the road, but first few articles will focus specifically on Dreamer himself (and Chompy of course)

  3. Is it not worth having them both just for the double heal? And do they not work better together?

  4. I would never hire Lelu but often hire Lilitu. However, if you are playing with Dreams of Pain, I often find myself hiring them both on turn 1 so I can have a fully healed Lilitu (and a mostly fully healed Lelu) by the end of turn 1. Lilitu is then often integral to my plans whereas I often just send Lelu off as a distraction or to hunt the opposing players scheme runners. He's definitely usable, I am just still disappointed with how he turned out for his cost. In short: Summon him with Lilitu but never pay 7ss for him.

  5. Thank you very much for writing this article. I've played a fair bit of Dreamer but am always hungry for more information on how to best play him. If you have tried it I'd love to hear your thoughts on hiring daydreams vs hiring the student of conflict for summoning dreamer. If you haven't tried it I encourage you to. The idea is to sacrifice 5 soulstones (the student will usually get sac'd on turn one to a summoned daydream) for one additional summon.

    The advantage of this style is that you heal 6 damage on 3 summons over the first two turns, instead of 4 damage on 2 summons which means stitched, teddy and coppelius are much stronger as first turn summons. It also gives the Dreamer a lot of free movement and allows you to summon aggressively while not turning into LCB again until turn 3 which I find to be a safer time to commit him.

    The downside is that you are stoning for suits on turn one and you lack some of the early game mobility and activation control afforded by having multiple daydreams.

    I look forward to the next installment. All the best.

  6. Very nice introduction. I'm a guild player but I plan to start with the Neverborn soon and I've already bought Dreamer's starter. It's a shame many of the models you're writing about are currently unavailable...
    I Look forward to reading more:-)

  7. Viruk: It is quite hard to start Dreamer at the moment due to the unavailability of so many of his core models.
    Thana: I have never heard of or tried the Student of Conflict 4 summon turn. I personally don't think that the significant cost of 5 SS hire, multiple stones for summoning (since no Day Dreams) and requirement of starting the game with 4 cards of 9 or higher (preferably masks to save stones) is worth the additional models. I would likely just hire an extra model with those stones and keep my soulstones for other things (usually extra card draw). After seeing your post though I will try it at some point. I find I generally summon Lelu/Lilitu or Insidious Madness in turn 1 and they can be fully healed without your strategy. That being said it is an interesting idea.