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M2E Rat King
Rat King, Outcast Minion
A Rat King is a group of rats who have had their tails become tangled and tied together, either as a result of living in close proximity with many other rats, or simply to amuse bored rat catchers. They were considered an omen of plague and disease on Earth, and the same holds true in Malifaux as well...
Table of Contents
Tactics and Tips
Playing Against Rat Kings
Rat Kings have a slightly above average walk speed of five, making them reasonably quick models. Their charge range is unusually short, also five, but with their ability to make charges as a (1) action against models with the Blighted condition they can have a pretty impressive threat range when set up correctly.
Gnaw is a (0) action that places the Rat King in base contact with a scheme marker within 5" and discards the marker. This is a very strong piece of scheme denial, and also can be used to get some extra movement or positioning for your Rat King. Bear in mind Gnaw can't be used while engaged, so you can't use it to hop them out of combat.
Summoned Rat Kings arrive with Slow, but the potential for an extra 5" movement as a (0) action and a charge for 1 AP means that they're still quite maneuverable the turn they're summoned.
Rat Kings have a single melee attack, Swarm of Yellow Teeth. Though short-ranged, it has a decent damage profile and automatically gives the target Blighted +1. Swarm of Yellow Teeth gains a +flip to hit if the Rat King has four or more wounds remaining, off-setting their otherwise unimpressive melee stat and making it easier to hit the Overwhelm Trigger on the attack flip.
Overwhelm gives the Rat King an extra free attack against their target at a reduced melee rating. The Rat King can continue to hit Overwhelm up to 4 times, although the chance to hit is reduced with each subsequent attack. If you have a handful of tomes, or just get lucky flipping, repeated uses of Overwhelm can quickly...well, overwhelm an enemy model with attacks.
If you don't flip or cheat tomes on the attack then you should always declare the automatic trigger Spray of Filth. If the Rat King announces this trigger and kills the enemy model all other models within pulse six inches gain Blighted +1. Since the Blighted condition ticks upwards a point at the end of every turn, using this trigger early in a game in a cluster of enemy models can quickly leave the opponent's crew coughing with disease. Spray of Filth can also let a Rat King kill an enemy with its first AP, spread Blight to another nearby model, then charge that newly Blighted model with its second AP.
The Bore ability deserves a mention here, as it allows the Rat King to attempt to Slow an enemy by moving into base contact with it. Note that this is any move, not a walk action, so this will trigger when a Rat King charges an enemy model or even when an enemy model lures them closer, but not if they place using Gnaw..
Rat Kings have an average defense and average wounds for their price.
Into the Swarm allows a Rat King to "gobble up" nearby Malifaux Rats - including enemy models - to heal themselves at the beginning of their activation. This can be especially useful if doing so would bring the Rat King back to four wounds or more, as it will restore the +flip they gain on their Swarm of Yellow Teeth attack.
Their Plagueborn ability makes them immune to the Blighted condition, but this is just to keep the Voracious Rats ability of
from spawning new rats when a Rat King is killed near them rather than an actual defensive perk.
When reduced to low wounds it's often a good idea to sacrifice your Rat King using Rat Problem. You'll get a Rat Catcher and Malifaux Rat in return on full wounds, which can in turn generate more rats or even another Rat King to frustrate your opponent.
Rat Kings can be summoned via the Tangled ability of
, which triggers when one Malifaux Rat activates within 3" of three others. It sacrifices all of them, but gives you a Rat King in return. Depending on how you activate your rats you can potentially kill a lot of activations before summoning your Rat King. This can be useful for out activating your opponent and is particularly good because the innate +flip on the Rat King's attack makes it much better later in the turn when both players have used up their hands.
For just a single AP, the Rat King can use its Rat Problem ability to sacrifice itself and all Malifaux Rats within 3" of itself, summoning a
in base contact with itself before it is removed.
Between these two abilities - and the rat summoning skills of a Rat Catcher - it's possible to continually summon multiple models from a single Rat King, and maybe even get back a brand new Rat King in the process.
Tactics and Tips
While a Rat King will certainly pull its weight in other crews, it really shines when hired by
. Hamelin's thematic crew will produce enough Malifaux Rats over the course of a game that summoning at least one Rat King is very likely, if not multiple Rat Kings. Similarly, Rat Kings can sacrifice themselves to summon Rat Catchers, which can summon more Malifaux Rats, all of which are favorite tools of Hamelin. The Blighted condition that Rat Kings hand out - particularly with their Spray of Filth trigger - allow Hamelin to get more use of his crew's Bleeding Disease attacks, and their various ways to hand out the Blighted Condition will allow the Rat King to use its Drawn to Contagion ability more often than it might in another Master's crew. Infectious Melodies (an upgrade on Nix or Hamelin) can let Rat Kings Gnaw away a scheme marker from up to 20" in exchange for sacrificing themselves, which can be an extremely strong move late in the game.
Otherwise, Rat Kings are good at skittering around and eating scheme markers, and are good models to send after dedicated scheme runners who might otherwise be too fast for other models to catch. Gnaw - combined with the large base size of Rat Kings - makes them very good at catching scheme runners, as they can place themselves into base contact with a scheme marker and destroy it as a single free action, leaving their AP open to chase after the offending model (and maybe even charge it for a single AP, if the enemy model has been Blighted).
Once in combat, the +flip that healthy Rat Kings gain on attack flips makes it difficult to get away from them, and when nearly dead they can sacrifice themselves to summon a healthy Rat Catcher. They're very good at this role, and do well in games with schemes involving lots of scheme markers.
When using Spray of Filth, don't forget you can put blight on your own models within range as well. There's usually no downside (unless your playing against Hamelin) and it lets you make more Rats from your own models if they die near a Ratcatcher.
Playing Against Rat Kings
Rat Kings are melee models, so hit it at range when possible and shoot it full of holes. Even if you don't kill it 5 points of damage will at leats get rid of its +flip on melee attacks, although your better off killing it before your opponent gets to sacrifice it to summon a brand new 8 wound model, plus a Malifaux Rat.
Whenever you see Malifaux Rats starting to gather it's a good idea to kill them off before they can tangle together and summon a Rat King. It's much easier to kill a Malifaux Rat here and there than it is to put down a Rat King, and you only need to get rid of one from a clump of four to delay that threat. If you don't keep the number of Malifaux Rats running around the board in check you're eventually going to have to deal with a much tougher, more dangerous model which can also score VP and eat scheme markers with alarming ease.
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