For when you absolutely have to crush something in melee… Meet Malifaux’s Killjoy!
Killjoy: a lumbering abomination hailing from the badlands. A neverborn cursed with undeath centuries ago, he wanders from location to location seeking a means to die…and failing that, to bring as much blood and carnage as possible. A wise employer would find other sources of muscle, as Killjoy often continues to wreck havoc long after the battle is over, but the initial results are hard to argue with.
So how does this death machine play out on the table? He’s relatively fragile for his points (no armor, low defense, no hard to kill, not even hard to wound…) but he has some interesting methods to get around that. Terrifying (all) will protect him a little, but can never be trusted completely. Too many models are immune to terror or have high willpower to guarantee it protecting him. Same with Black Blood, it’ll hurt them, maybe dissuade them from attacking, but if they want Killjoy dead, they can still do it. His two big sources of survival are heals combined with a lot of health (he has a 0 action heal, heals wounds when he kills stuff, and has 12 hit points) and Blood Sacrifice. This ability lets you start him buried, and he pops up in base to base with any of your models when they die or get sacrificed. This lets him avoid ranged fire until the two sides get closer together, and a lot of the time will pop him out right near a model who’s already activated and can’t fire back for a round.
Beyond that, Killjoy just has nasty attacks. The hooked chain is mid range and drags people toward him, but will almost never be used due to Blood Price. If he is able to, his first action each turn has to be a charge, whether it’s friend or foe within range. Since his charge range factoring in melee reach is the same length as the chain, he only gets to make a range strike if the initial charge kills off the target. That’s not entirely unlikely however, as his cleaver has decent accuracy, a nasty 4/5/7 damage spread, and the Onslaught trigger for free attacks.
Special care has to be taken with Blood Price. Canny opponents will use abilities like Lure or Obey to move him into places that are very bad for you. A turn of Killjoy leaping on and killing nothing but a Canine Remains is bad. A turn of him Obeyed into the middle of your team and forced to charge you own crew can be gamebreaking.
The next question is who to pair Killjoy up with, and when? Reckoning, as well as most kill-based schemes are pretty safe choices. Vendettaisn’t the best choice though, as at 12 points he’ll be hard pressed to find a target that costs more than him to kill for points. As a mercenary, you can bring him with anyone you desire to, but he’ll very rarely play into the play styles of some of the masters (Pandora for example. He does nothing except terrifying to increase the number of willpower duels flying around. Potentially ok as a choice to make sure you aren’t completely stumped against high willpower, stubborn crews, but not the best choice).
Tara is a fantastic pairing for him. Her crew’s bury shenanigans mean you can rebury him if he gets in a bad spot and have him pop out where the action moved. They can give him heals and make him fast, prolonging his reign of terror and making him even deadlier. If buried, one of Tara’s upgrades lets him use the cleaver to perform attacks. It lacks the trigger that way, but it still hits obscenely hard and keeps the heal option. The one thing you then have to pay attention to is since he starts the game buried, he prevents the crew’s main bury mechanic from burying anyone else until he pops out.
Leaders like Perdita and Zoraida who have Obey are also a good choice, as it lets you move him out of activation into a better charge spot or just take one final brutalizing swing to kill off a model. Crews that have a lot of models that die easily but are important to the gameplan are also a good pairing, as if the opponent kills off a key piece you can get immediate retribution by unburying Killjoy in their face.
As for the model, it’s a thing of unrelenting horror. Guts spilling everywhere, massive cleaver, it’s a huge bloated corpse. Just have to be careful with a few things. The body comes in a front half and a back half, when paired together it has a decent sized seam running all the way around him that will have to be dealt with. More importantly, tiny chains! Killjoy possesses 4 tiny chains attached to his face that are all separate pieces. The one that connects to his armpit should be attached before the arm is, or you’ll have problems getting it in there. As is, I got two glued in on one side of his face and realized they were the wrong ones, so the other side chains wouldn’t fit. His hooked chain is also flying off the figure but very thin. I dropped it one time, and the whole weapon snapped off. I then replaced it with some barbed wire, since I wasn’t sure I could manage to actually glue it back on.
So, who’s YOUR favorite high point model in Malifaux?