Monday, 22 April 2013

Using Ikiryo Effectively

When starting Kirai, I was under the impression that she was overpowered. Her awesome speed, coupled with the ability to churn out spirit after spirit left me thinking that she had an unstoppable hoard. Chief amongst this hoard was her personal spirit of vengeance, Ikiryo.

What makes her unique amongst Kirai's arsenal is that unlike the 'lesser' spirits, Kirai does not need to sacrifice any spirits to summon Ikiryo. This is great because not only can she be summoned 12" away (with trigger), you only need a 5 of crows to summon (unlike the 11 of any suit for normal summoning). Of course you can't have more than one on the table at any time but the fact remains - forcing your opponent to kill this model only for it to come back next turn is amazing. Especially since Kirai can sacrifice Ikiryo herself to regain Wd, cards and therefore the ability to summon it after it's activated that turn, effectively giving it 5AP.

With these incredibly feats I could be forgiven for thinking that Ikiryo was a ball-busting model. However not long into my playing with Kirai did I realise that this model wasn't all I thought it was. It can't kill masters easily, it can't activate in companion with Kirai and therefore usually gets killed straight away when it's summoned close to the enemy (Df5, 5 wounds) - effectively meaning you risk losing it or summon it too far away to be beneficial that turn. Remember when Kirai dies, you lose 2 cards from your hand, meaning you might have to dump some really good cards!

After finding Ikiryo somewhat underwhelming, I put my conundrum to the Wyrd forums:

My problems are:
  • Only Df 5, 5 wounds - easy to kill, even if it's NOT a master. How do I stop her dying every turn? That's losing two cards a turn.
  • How to kill Masters in Strategies that might/will depend on using her, as well as her scheme. I really wish she had Use Soulstone, she is a manifestation of Kirai after all! I find she can't kill Masters who can cheat and soulstone.
  • Summoning placement - I could really use some advice on when to activate the trigger vs putting her too far forward, when to summon her in activation order, summoning position on the board
  • How can you make her more effective before she dies, as you can't give her Reactivate the same turn you summon her.
Partly, my problems were from being a rather new player both to Malifaux and Kirai. However I really wanted to get the most out of her, was I doing it wrong? Was she not the beatstick I thought she was?

Thanks to the discussion from my fellow Malifaux players, I have found there are some key points to consider to make use of Ikiryo effectively. I have separated them into Big Tips and Little Tips

Big Tips
  1. Ikiryo is NOT Lord Chompy Bits. It seems I was right, Ikiryo is not the amazing beatstick I thought she was. Not saying she can't take on Masters, because she can when the enemies have activated (and been weakened). But, according to Fetid Strumpet, many people try to pay Ikiryo like LCB. Instead, to properly use Ikiryo she should be pitted against the arguably more important models than the enemy Master. Malifaux isn't always about killing the enemy general, it's not Warmachine! Instead, due to Ikiryo's effective 2 AP on summoning (1AP + Melee Expert), Ikiryo can be summoned to take on the fast objective grabbers, or summoned 12" forward to take on the enemy support models or ranged threats. Anything that your opponent thinks is safe should be proven otherwise with an Ikiryo Alpha Strike! The key here is to be able to take out a model in that turn she is summoned so you don't have to fight for activation next turn. Not only does it remove a threat but Kirai will get a nice healing flip. In short, Ikiryo is a scalpel, not a blunt object.
  2. Death is inevitable. Ikiryo isn't a model that can sustain much abuse, but she's not meant to! With her low wounds and Df you should play her like you expect her to die. If she doesn't great, you can sacrifice her to summon her back again! I don't mean to say that you should be overly reckless with her, just don't strop if she dies. If you use high cards to keep her alive, why? Those cards could be used to summon Ikiryo back, or as attacks when she returns. You might even need them elsewhere! What's more important is...
  3. Observe the psychological impact. Ikiryo's greatest strength isn't her damage, it's her threat. She's a moderately offensive model that will keep coming back no matter how many times you kill it. There's no summoning models needed to be sacrificed, but she generates Seishin for your other spirits! Ikiryo can be see as effectively a Paralyse for the enemy model of your choice. Put her on the board and your opponent either has to waste AP to deal with a model that will just come back, or leave it be to destroy its crew, bit by bit. Ikiryo can greatly demoralise your opponent.
Little Tips
  1. Don't forget her (0) Action. The ability to Push (not move) your spirits 4" in an 18" bubble if you chose (as the wording states "may", not "must") shouldn't be overlooked.
  2. She provides Seishin. If you're facing a non-living crew, she's essential to keeping your spirit factory going.
  3. Taxi service. Summoning her 12" away allows Kirai to use her as her point spirit for In The Spirit World, every turn if you want.
  4. Summon Ikiryo when the threats have activated. As a model-heavy crew, you're likely to out-activate your opponent. So use this to your advantage, leave Kirai until last and summon Ikiryo to do whatever you like, unimpeded by reprisals that turn. Then if you win initiative you can use her straight away for more fun before sacrificing. If you don't win initiative and she dies, summon her right back again!
I hope this helps anyone who's starting Kirai and wants to get the most out of an essential model. Also remember: if you want a mega awesome beatstick that can one-shot Masters, we now have Izamu!

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