My Tactics pledge: I am not the greatest player, nor a seal pup. I will endeavor to speak from my experience and always be honest about what is theory and what is play tested. Never will I assume to know better than anyone else... unless I must call out ego or pretension.

Remember use your mouse cursor over Italicizes words for more information!

A mask of playability...

The Masque has always been quite a silly little lady, always running solo and susceptible to a few stray bullets. Not much can be said about Slaanesh Jessica Beals (the Flashdance one not the Timberlake one), she just never got much play time.

She always had a lots of tricks, but never produced enough treats for you on the battlefield. What does the the newest version have to say about playing this cruel mistress? We can start to understand by looking at the difference between the 2008 and 2013 version of the Masque.

(Click to Enlarge)

The Masque Rules 2013

The Masque Rules 2008


 

Compare &  Contrast

  • Point Decrease from 100 to 75 pts
  • Profile Increases
  • Gifts Removed
  • Unnatural Reflexes
  • The Eternal Dance

--A Dancer for Less Money--

The Masque got a sizable point reduction. This point change doesn't really do much to change the effectiveness of the unit though, because taking up the all important HQ slots is more an issue than anything else. 

--Faster Pussycat, Kill, Kill, Kill--

Like most characters in the codex the Masque got stat increases. These changes are designed to make the Masque more killy, but in no way grant the Masque any more survivability. The Masque still has two wounds and toughness three, making her an easy Instant Death target.

--Less Toys--

It isn't any surprise to see all the Daemon gifts gone, but the real loss is not replacing them with any Psychic powers. The Masque playability would be greatly increased if she had some Telapathy to augment her other abilities.

--Unnaturally Worse--

Instead of having a stout 3+ invulnerable save we get Unnatural ReflexesThe Masque of Slaanesh re-rolls all failed invulnerable Saves. This isn't a bad replacement, but with the Masque not being able to join a unit and weak defenses turns the power into a serious blow for the unit. To make matters worse, the range to get off The Eternal DanceAt the start of each of the controlling players Shooting phases choose one dance to perform. These abilities target one unengaged, non-vehicle enemy unit within 12 inch of the Masque line of sight. The Dance of Caging, The Dance of Death, The Dance of Dreaming and line of sight needs, make it even easier for the Masque to die by firing squad.

--Dance Monkey Dance!--

Like many design elements of late, the The Eternal DanceAt the start of each of the controlling players Shooting phases choose one dance to perform. These abilities target one unengaged, non-vehicle enemy unit within 12 inch of the Masque line of sight. The Dance of Caging, The Dance of Death, The Dance of Dreaming is a great in concept, but poor in execution. You can almost tell the power started off extremely powerful, but once the possibilities were opened up, the design team quickly put burdensome restrictions on it. The 12" range hurts, but having to see the target hurts even more. The Eternal DanceAt the start of each of the controlling players Shooting phases choose one dance to perform. These abilities target one unengaged, non-vehicle enemy unit within 12 inch of the Masque line of sight. The Dance of Caging, The Dance of Death, The Dance of Dreaming requires a lot of combinations. It leaves the The Eternal DanceAt the start of each of the controlling players Shooting phases choose one dance to perform. These abilities target one unengaged, non-vehicle enemy unit within 12 inch of the Masque line of sight. The Dance of Caging, The Dance of Death, The Dance of Dreaming at best as one shot ability relying on the Masque Deepstriking to pull off.

The Masque has always been quite a silly little lady, always running solo and susceptible to a few stray bullets.

Putting it all Together...

What can I say about the girl, she got problems. Is their anything salvageable about her, well sure, but let us get the bad juju out first. The biggest problems with the Masque are two-fold. First, she isn't a Herald and thus takes up a full HQ slot in the Daemon codex. It means she is taking up a spot for vastly more effective Greater Daemons, and if still take a Greater Daemon, you then cannot take any Heralds if you run the Masque also.

The second problem is the Masque is a single unique character, meaning she cannot join any unit. At only two wounds and toughness three it won't cut it --in this shoot first meta we live in. The Masque really could have used some cover save bonuses or a Deathleaper like ability. Both these problems are hold-overs from the previous codex. If one or the other had been fixed we would be seeing the Masque on a lot of table tops. As it is the Masque requires some fancy foot work to live, let alone do anything on the tabletop.

So how do we get this dancer to put on a good show?

It starts with The Eternal DanceAt the start of each of the controlling players Shooting phases choose one dance to perform. These abilities target one unengaged, non-vehicle enemy unit within 12 inch of the Masque line of sight. The Dance of Caging, The Dance of Death, The Dance of Dreaming, this ability is quite nasty, given the chance. The Eternal DanceAt the start of each of the controlling players Shooting phases choose one dance to perform. These abilities target one unengaged, non-vehicle enemy unit within 12 inch of the Masque line of sight. The Dance of Caging, The Dance of Death, The Dance of Dreaming can lock down pretty much any Assault or Shooting unit. Used in tandem with other assaulting units it is downright devastating, but how do you get it off? It starts with terrain. Hopefully you will be playing on board with some line of sight blockers. The Masque still is a Daemon of Slaanesh DoS have the Daemon. Fleet, and Rending special Rules. In addition, DoS Run an additional 3 inches and DoS Cavalry Run an additional 6 inches with Fleet and +3 to any Run. You should easily get the Masque in range of The Eternal DanceAt the start of each of the controlling players Shooting phases choose one dance to perform. These abilities target one unengaged, non-vehicle enemy unit within 12 inch of the Masque line of sight. The Dance of Caging, The Dance of Death, The Dance of Dreaming by turn two.

Now here comes the hard part.

The Masque needs buddies and she also needs to make an assault. Luckily, the Masque doesn't need to assault the same target she danced at. This leaves the Masque with the capability of choosing who and what to assault. The trick here is to have the Masque charge a unit along with another Daemon unit. The reason for this is simple: avoid your opponent's shooting phase. By being stuck in Assault she cannot be shot at, now this doesn't mean the Masque should always go in swinging. The Masque just needs to have body guards to take wounds for her and if there is powerful character involved decline every challenge having the other unit character take it.

The beauty of this convoluted stratagem, is the Masque still has Hit & Run. You can wait till the right assault phase to get outta dodge, and do your little dance all over some other unit's pants.

Of course, if you think you can win a Challenge take it, but remember you are two lucky wounds away from destruction. You shouldn't  completely discount the cost of the Masque, and if you look at it in the reverse, she doesn't take up one of your four Herald slots. If you are adverse to taking Monstrous Creatures, then the Masque might fit into your plan, especially in low point games. She is one of the cheapest HQs around and at worse you can Deepstrike her in for a one shot hail Mary. Taking the Masque means more points for everything else in your army, requiring less game maintenance as well. In addition, the Masque can dance and still run, making it possible for her to duck for cover at a moment's notice.

Finally, one last silly thing to consider; the Masque is a prime Grimoire of True Names target, giving her a 3+ re-rolling save, not bad at all.

-- The Masque Sample Lists--

The Masque Sample List 1

The Masque Sample List 2

A Word about Allies

The Masque isn't all that bad as an ally. You can easily use her cheap cost as a gateway to taking other Daemon units. Throw her in your army and just have her Deep Strike to neutralizing any dangerous unit.

Remember unlike other Battle Brothers Daemons ICs cannot join with Chaos Space Marine units under any circumstance.

Final Thoughts...

Overall, the Masque is a failed experiment, her rules progression is getting better, but without being able to join a unit is just bad design. The Masque is cheap and risk to reward is great and with Tau everywhere it just might be worth that first and final dance. 

Warning

It's Like Tactics is rated theory hammer because these are general observations and assumptions based on only few tested games.