Images and model thoughts after the break.
|December Acolytes Front View|
|December Acolytes Back View|
These two models were sort of a quick paint job - they're pretty straightforward models and I didn't want to get too fancy with the last two models I had left for this crew.
Looking them over now I kind of wish I had done more with the various leather things on them to differentiate them a bit more. It also couldn't have hurt to put one more highlight layer on the cloaks (they look pretty good but they don't particularly "pop",) but otherwise I'm pretty pleased with how they turned out. Especially considering how quickly they painted up.
As for tabletop utility, the December Acolytes are top notch. They give a thematic Rasputina crew a much needed boost of speed, though not in the way I was expecting. They're as plug slow as the rest of the crew (Wk 4) but their ability to deploy anywhere on the table gives them a leg up when compared to other Frozen Heart models (if for no other reason than they have a shorter distance to walk.)
December Acolytes are interesting because they have a few small synergies with Rasputina - namely Frozen Heart and better deployment - but the overall set of abilities they bring to the table is so damn good that they'll be useful with any Arcanist Master.
The gun on the December Acolytes is fantastic: great Sh value, two excellent triggers, a great damage track, and built-in, nigh-automatic Slow. The Acolytes also bring along a very powerful (1) action that negates Armor and Hard to Wound on models near them, which is very helpful for Rasputina (she absolutely hates Hard to Wound) but is obviously useful for anyone.
The Acolytes do have some balancing factors. Like many Minions with effective guns they're not cheap - 7 SS - and they don't have a particularly great suite of defensive abilities. Df 5 and Frozen Heart are nice, but Acolytes are easy enough to take down with a little dedicated effort. December Acolytes are also, as previously noted, not particularly speedy models so they need to be deployed effectively; redeploying them mid-game is a big drain on their utility and output.
Lastly, the December Acolytes suffer from the same problem that a lot of ranged focused models do in Malifaux: the presence of Cover/other defensive tech usually necessitates taking a Focus action before making any ranged attacks. This does two things (that help to keep shooting in check in Malifaux in general):
1) It limits the number of actual attacks you'll be making each turn. The idea of a December Acolyte damaging and Slowing two models in one turn is scary, but in practice it takes all your AP to semi-reliably attack one target.
2) It throttles their AP, which in turn forces you to make some hard choices. Do you stand still and take one Focus'd shot at a target, but possibly forsake objectives? Do you chance a shot on the move, knowing that you'll probably be at a negative and have low odds of hitting? Or do you give up all potential output this turn and just double time it to a critical location?
As is often the case with M2E models I think the good and the bad balance each other out fairly well. They're also competing for space against some excellent Wave 2 models that have a similar approach - most notably Gunsmiths and Oxfordian Mages - so they need to have their own niche. Having played them a few times, I definitely like the Acolytes with Rasputina (more potential spellcasting angles is always good,) and I could see splashing them into other crews.
My original plan was to segue into painting up the only Arcanist crew I own that isn't painted - Mei Feng - but I reached for the models only to discover that they had somehow escaped my latest priming frenzy. So I had to audible to painting Misaki's crew, which is proving to be interesting. Hopefully I'll have some stuff to show from them soon!