I'm certainly no Malifaux expert...if you stumbled on this post hoping to find a winning strategy, know that I've played about a dozen games total in 3 weeks of being a Malifaux player...please view anything read here thru that lens!
That being said, though, I've pondered the use of the Dreamer quite a bit, and have some thoughts and experiences that I want to share...more for my own benefit than anything else!
I was drawn to the Dreamer by his story and the way the Nightmare models look. I'm a horror movie fan, and this stuff is right up my alley!
For those that don't know, the Dreamer is a little kid in "the real world" that has tremendous natural abilities...when he dreams, he manifests in Malifaux, and any twisted thing he thinks up in his dream comes to life and horrifically murders people for him!
A powerful nightmare entity has realized the power of this kid, and is trying to use/manipulate him so that he can become "real", and not just a nightmare any more.
He's befriended the kid in his dreams, and encourages the kid to "play games with him". The kid calls him Lord Chompy Bits, and they have a lot of fun rampaging through Malifaux eating stuff!
But the kid doesn't know that it's real! He thinks it's just a game in a dream with Lord Chompy! Isn't that twisted? I love it!
So fluff aside, the Dreamer works in Malifaux as pretty much purely a support type guy. He's very easily killed (though has a few tricks to pass off damage to nearby friendly Nightmares), has only one (two with an upgrade) relatively weak attack, and has no place being close enough to enemy models to be targeted.
He does have a few survivability enhancements, notably that he's short (Ht 1) allowing him to hide behind low terrain, and he's Incorporeal, so he can move behind said terrain easily with his very health Wk of 7.
Where he really shines is in his ability to support the Nightmares in his crew. All friendly nightmares that activate within 6" heal up to 3 damage (this is variable, depending on the status of the Dreamer). He can summon Daydreams (small easily killed Peons that can Push other nightmares 4" and sacrifice themselves to add a Mask suit to Dreamer's next flip) or sometimes Alps (small easily killed Peons that can take damage to heal friendly Nightmares, or force Wp Duels on enemies that activate near them or gain Slow). When he summons these things he wakes up a little bit (Waking Condition +1). When his Waking gets up to 4, he is removed from the table and Chompy comes out!
Dreamer also has an extremely potent spell called Empty Night. This spell targets a friendly Nightmare, and it's effect is completely dependent on the suit. The Ca has a Mask, and the Mask effect is to Push the target up to 6" and it gets to make a free Ml attack! Rams heal 2 points of damage. Tomes remove a condition and allow recasting the same spell. Crows give Fast.
Only 2s and 3s fail this spell, so relatively low cards in hand can get good use based on their suit.
Then there's the upgrade I've been using, Dreams of Pain. An expensive upgrade at 5ss, this upgrade allows The Dreamer to summon Minions or Enforcer Nightmare models (at a net requirement of SS cost of the summoned Nightmare + 4 Mask), and the summoned model is damaged down to one remaining wound.
A key difference that I see with this summoning relative to others is that it requires no resource (other than AP and a high card and/or suit). No Corpse. No Scrap. Of course, those Summoned things don't come on the verge of death either, so that's something to consider!
So as an example of how I've been using Dreamer, I'll do a short battle report of a 35ss game at my FLGS this past Monday.
Flank deployment. Strategy was Turf War. Scheme Pool: Distract, Assassinate, Power Ritual, and Breakthrough
Our table was set up like this:
My opponent was at a disadvantage in that not only does he have a far more limited supply of models than I do, he's also not done the research and prep that we as competitive 40k gamers tend to do in order to up our game. He plays Ressers, owning the Seamus starter set and a Bete Noir...was no surprise then to see him place out:
Seamus (Tools and Muhaha, I think)
2 Rotten Belles
Madame and Bete had upgrades but I don't remember what they had.
I went with:
Dreamer (Dreams of Pain)
2 Insidious Madness
I chose Assassinate (yes, Seamus is tough, but I wanted to see if I could do it!) and revealed Power Ritual...I figured not much better at running Power Ritual than a couple Insidious Madness!
My plan was to hide Dreamer, Daydreams, and alps in the bottom right of the table to summon stuff and push it out to do nasty things while Widow lurked behind the Ht2 wall waiting for reinforcements. The Madness would both zip in to corners and scheme. This should give me 3 Schemes in corners nice and fast and allow me to then concentrate on Seamus, who I was quite sure would make his way mid-table for Turf War!
I kind of changed my plan a bit though while deploying, the thought being I wanted to be able to get my newly summoned models in to mid-field quicker...if they were summoned hiding in the corner it would be turn 3/4 before they'd be able to do anything!
So on the weak and lame Powerpoint built map below, you can see my deployment in bottom left. Widow Weaver and Dreamer huddle behind the wall along with all the Alps and Daydreams, while the Madness get set to sprint to corners.
He sent Bete Noir out far to my right (to counter that madness, I guess), a Belle went to my left to counter that madness, and the rest of his crew set up in the middle.
We drew cards (I had a bunch of 5s and 6s and one 11 Ram...at least enough to summon something constructive!) and flipped for Init. I can't honestly say I remember who won that flip, and I can also honestly say it probably made no real difference! :)
I moved Madnesses (what the hell is the plural of Madness?!) double Walks in to the corners, he shuffled Belle and Bete towards them. WW gimped over the wall to at least attract attention and threw down a web.
Then Dreamer fun began. I sacrificed a Daydream, and Dreamer tried to summon Lelu. I flipped an 11 mask, ironic, but wasted the Daydream. No worries, I summoned another Daydream, dropped my Waking one, and pushed Lelu so he was close enough to corner to drop a Scheme and still be 6" from The Boy, who dropped down to Waking 1. At this point my opponent was out of activations, and all he did was double walks forward. Lelu activated, healed up a bit, dropped a Marker, got pushed twice by the two daydreams and healed twice by the Alps. On to turn 2!
Turn 2, again I don't remember who got init, though it was probably a bit more important here. My Madnesses dropped Schemes within 6" of corners, giving me 3 for that Scheme so far. Bete ran down on top of the Scheme in my bottom right, ready to remove it next turn. Copy cat walked over and shot/killed the madness on my left. Boo. Sacrificed another daydream. Summoned Lilitu. Things got tense at this point as my opponent was very frustrated with the summoning mechanic and relative ease with which I was healing them up and pressing to the middle. Lilitu had her Slow removed and she was healed a bit.
Seamus walked up on the hill and shot at Widow, I believe, taking off a chunk. Lilitu Lured the Belle on the left up close enough for Daydreams to push Lilu in range, and Lilu ate her disgusting face, healing up both himself and Lilitu to full. Alps activated, near Dreamer so damage from Blood Gift healed and the took 2 more to heal up Widow a bit.
Opponent very grumpy now. I've summoned in 14 points of enforcer plus a daydream, he's down on schemes, realizes he's in a poor position, and is ranting about how my crew seems to have every power available and is unstoppable and how summoning Dreamer is completely broken as it takes no resources while his crew is unable to generate corpse markers because I'm all Nightmares...it wasn't very fun to hear.
Sadly I'm almost out of time, so will skip the maps for the rest...
in Turn 3 he cleared out all Alps and Daydreams save one, I was able to Lure Seamus over the hill and push a Fast Lelu on to him, leaving him about half dead and Poisoned. Widow walked up on top of hill continuing to throw Webs around. My last madness double-walked to support the scrum on Seamus next turn. Sybelle shrieked at Dreamer several times, I passed the wounds off to Lilu and Lilitu.
At this point I've got mildly damaged Lili on Seamus, Widow about 3" behind Seamus on the hill. One Alp near Seamus and a Madness about 3" away. Lilitu and Dreamer are supporting. He's got Sybelle and a Belle coming in to support while Bete is stuck off on a table edge doing nothing but removing one of my Scheme Markers.
Winning initiative on turn 4 is key, and I win it. I don't think an unbuffed Lelu can drop Seamus; Dreamer is in a bad spot, the Madame is bearing down on him, but I have a lot of junk cards in hand. My waking was at zero, so I decided to push the bad spot Seamus was in and setting up for total knockout by summoning in 3 new Daydreams, all near Seamus. With webs and daydreams, Seamus would be at -5 WP. Very likely he'd get Slow on activation near the Alp. My opponent rage quit.
I think he could have Lured Seamus away from all the Nightmares with a Belle, Lured either Widow or Lelu out of my support, and killed either with Seaums, Sybelle, and Copycat. Instead he just got too grumpy to go on and gave up.
I submit a question though, was his situation really hopeless? I think not. I think he had a lot of presence he hadn't flexed yet. Moreover, I think his deployment and first turn movement kept him from gaining any ground on my weak starting forces. More-moreover, he chose Assassinate and Breakthrough vs me...probably not the Schemes I would have chosen, but none of them are great for his crew as put together.
I really think if he had Madame and Bete working to tag team things lured by Belles, he could have chewed thru me quickly enough. He had the right idea throwing Ca shots at Dreamer too...doing that really made me go thru my hand fast, and came close to getting him Assassinate!
I'm really enjoying the flexibility of the Dreamer. I can pick models I need to fit the scheme then summon models I need to supplement and match what the opponent is doing and really make them react to me instead of doing what they want.
I somewhat understand my opponents frustration...no doubt Summoning Dreamer is very powerful. That said, Seamus is really good at not dying and has great mobility. Playing more to his strengths and disrupting my plans would go a long way to not letting me overpower the game!
Hoping to get another game or two in Sunday, and maybe more on Monday! See you then!