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Welcome to the first installment of spotlight: Underdogs. In this forum we will dissect one figure at a time and find out exactly why this figure deserves a place in the Mageknight universe. Note that we will not be dealing with why a Storm Golem or a Wraith belongs in your army. A blind chimp could figure that out. Here we are going to look at the unappreciated, underused, and generally maligned figures that live at the bottom of players’ boxes.
The week we will take a look at a figure most people throw away from the first time they see him in a pack: the Imp. For those of you, who never got one of these bad boys as your rare, let me tell you that you are missing a key figure that belongs in everyone’s collection. The imp is absolutely ideal for a multitude of tasks that most people foolishly have other troops do.
The key to all the imp’s utility lays in his incredibly low point cost. At 5,7, and 8 points, any imp you buy is a bargain. Few armies come out to exactly the correct point cost. The imp allows you to fill out the point value of the game and get a hell of a figure out of it. The correct imp for an army will depend on what you plan for him to do. However you can never go wrong with a 5-point weak imp if the points are left over for it.
The first task they excel at is prisoner capture. For five points you can get a figure to hold your prisoners. With the imp, you don’t have to worry that getting the captor away from the fighting will hamper your battle plans. After all, since the imp normally isn’t part of them to begin with, not having him as a fighter won’t hurt you. His low attack value shouldn’t matter too much since the figure should be wounded before a capture attempt is made.
The second task imps do well is joining a bum rush of a defensive position. When a guarded position is charged, casualties are always expected. The key to a victory lays in the ability to reduce those initial casualties during a rush to a level that still allows the main force to deal with the entrenched defenders. In this case the red imp is perfect since he has four clicks of health. Most armies’ non-centerpiece figures will do 2-3 clicks of ranged damage, meaning that it will take two actions to get rid of a red imp. Consider this setting: a group of Nightstalkers with a Wraith (a common 200 point army) is hiding in hindering terrain. Fly the imp right in their faces and block the two of the Nightstalkers (each can do three damage with their ranged attack). Then advance the formation behind the imp. Now the opposing player has to use his two actions to kill a single red imp worth 8 points. Next turn move in with the formation and let the fun begin. A red imp has gotten your close combat bad boys into hand-to-hand for only 8 points.
A third use for imps isn’t used as much, but believe me, use it once and you’ll never take these guys for granted again. After a figure attacks, it is unable to further actions that turn. The problem lays in that by killing an opponent in hand-to-hand; friends of the deceased model light up a figure in retaliatory fire. Often these revenge attacks can be devastating to the victor. Or maybe you pushed your guy a little too far and they won’t be able to move before the shit hits the fan. In the case of big guns like an Order of Vladd and Uhlrik Charger, these attacks can kill your chances of winning by crippling key figures to the point of uselessness. Several times my centerpiece figure has owed his life to the heroic sacrifice of a brave little imp who jumped in front of the big guy to take the bullet for him. This is the perfect use for a 5-point imp that was thrown in to make the point cut off.
In all three cases above one of the factors that lets the imp do so well is their incredibly fast movement. 10 inches of flight on the standard and tough version mean that from out of nowhere can come an imp to save the day. Even the 8-inch move on the weak is more then enough to keep up with an armies advance.
The bottom line is that next time you pull an imp as your rare slot in a pack of Mageknight, don’t get mad or upset. Think of all the jobs this little guy can fill by doing the things you would rather not have better figures do. Then go ahead and buy another pack and hope for a better rare.
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