Sunday, February 18, 2018

Pandora Potpourri


I'm stricken with a bit of writer's block recently for...reasons. IRL I'm in the midst of a job hunt and am that's taking up more and more of my attention (pending unemployment will have that effect.) Also, there's playtesting going on, which means much of my gaming time is being spent on things I can't discuss. So, this will be a bit more top of mind than usual. Apologies.

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Mini-Musing



Just one mini-musing today, mostly introducing products coming soon. There are a couple of new encounter boxes on the horizon. One is The Undying, a box set revolving around a conflict between the Ten Thunders and the Resurrectionists. The story behind it is an order of warriors bent on hunting down wizards that feed on soul energy to stay alive like Yan Lo, led by Minako Rei (the masked lady in the picture above.) She's hunting down an eternal assassin named Manos who used to be one of their order, but who adopted the unnatural abilities to extend his own life and become Manos the Undying. He uses Chi to power his abilities, while Minako can put some sort of Kharma condition on models to have them take the damage she gets hit with. Along with them, they bring a set of minions. Manos uses a new type of Belle called Mourners who act defensively. Minako has Katashiro, some origami constructs that also count as Oni, and a Flaming Wheel of some kind. There also appears to be some kind of big resser...something in there. It looks cool. But, I must reiterate, if you are painting Manos, there is one acceptable paint job. One.

I'm just disappointed his boxed set doesn't come with Torgo. 

***

So I've been interested in summoning Pandora since I first saw it in book 4's playtest. That said, I didn't play it a ton, mostly because I haven't played a ton in general and when I have, it's been focused on things like Collodi recently. This complicates things even more, because there is a ton of overlap between what Collodi and Pandora do well: namely short to medium range murdering. It didn't make a ton of sense to do one while going with my goal of learning Collodi. But, I'm kind of over that now. It's not that I hate Collodi. He's fine. It just doesn't inspire me to play it the way other crews do.

Enter: podcasts. These are probably the biggest source of my Magpie syndrome. Recently, Max Value did an episode on summoning Dora and Alex Schmid did a Youtube video on the lady of sorrows as well. I've had a Pandora crew since 1st edition. I like the idea of her, and I like the idea of the summoning, so you'll probably see some more of her coming along shortly.

So let's take a look at this crew and what makes it different. First of all, don't go look at any of the stuff about other Summoners. Woe is Me does not make her work like them. She can only summon two models: Sorrows and the Poltergeist. That's it. And, little secret, from what I've heard you're doing way more of the latter than the former. That is, in part, because you don't have a ton of control over the former summons, as it requires you to cast off of an enemy model which has a condition, and the enemy model can then remove said condition. So, you don't have control over it, which means you can assume that your opponent will make the worst choice possible for you in any given situation (as they should be) and, even if you're summoning off of their Fast or Reactivate, they may just choose to drop it anyways to stop you. That said, there are two strategies that require conditions on the enemy crew's models to score VP, so they have to weigh losing points vs. letting you have more models, which is delicious.

Sorrows and Poltergeist have always been "good" models. The problem with them was that they were 1) Fragile and 2) Expensive. Summoning them gets around this problem. Now they're disposable, and if the opponent kills them they can just be brought back, which is great. The Poltergeist's - to WP flips is just debilitating. Sorrows can be really good, and you all know how much I like automatic damage.

One of my questions with this crew is how to focus the action. There's kind of two ways to go about it: take the battle to the enemy or bring the enemy to you. Basically, do I build the crew around advancing aggressively into the enemy, or do I use Lures and the like to bring the enemy in and kill them on my terms. Both have their pluses and minuses. Obviously, if you're drawing them to you and killing them, it's a lot safer. You don't overextend. You don't have to waste AP on your movement. You're separating pieces of the enemy's crew from each other so they can't support each other. Also, a lot of the stuff that works well with Pandora helps make this happen. Things with Lure like Lilitu, Beckoners, Baby Kade etc. all attack Willpower to do what they do (less so Kade, but he has other synergies.) However, if you're using a more passive/Lure based crew, you're also letting the other crew do what they want early on for the most part. You're reacting to their gameplan as opposed to enforcing yours on them. This can end up leaving you too passive and can cause you to fall behind and have to play catch-up to win games. Also, in a game situation where you CAN'T sit back and have to advance, you can end up with a crew that can't get the job done and is severely underpowered.

On the other hand, a more aggressive, attack based crew is going to avoid this problem. You're enforcing your will on the enemy and making them play around you rather than the other way around. This style of play works best in game scenarios where you have to move into the enemy half of the board and accomplish objectives (for instance, Symbols of Authority). Plus, Pandora's numerous auras and those of her summons, particularly the Poltergeist, are being used to their best effect when numerous enemy models are trapped within them. The risks, of course, are that you'll find yourself on the opposite end of the advantages to sitting back and pulling them into you. Worse, you're spending YOUR AP to get into contact with the enemy, so they don't even have to cast Lures or anything like that to get you into their trap. But, bottom line, sometimes the best defense is a good offense.

I don't entirely know the answer to this. I know this crew doesn't have the force projection to deal with an enemy that hides if they don't at least advance to some extent, but I may just have to build to the scenario and go from there. Still, I see a lot of potential here, and the successes I've heard the crew having of late in tournaments is encouraging.

One of the things I like about it is the flexibility of attack methods Pandora can bring in this build. The Max Value pod was very illustrative of this. Some games, Travis played her like the Pandora you know and loathe: moving up into range, smashing you with her attacks, and killing what she needed to kill to disrupt your crew, with Incite in place to help ensure activation order. In another game, however, he ran up against a Mei Feng crew that was using Vent Steam to block the attacks. In that game, he switched to more summoning and use of Incite as the primary offensive tool (cut to a shot of sad Iggy, whose Incite is a Ca instead of Wp, for whatever reason.)

One of the most important things to remember is that Pandora's brittle (like many of her Neverborn compatriots.) To mitigate some of this, I've converted to use of Aether Connection in more crews, particularly with her. I initially wasn't that impressed with just adding one more point of damage mitigation, but in truth that's huge. Pandora has 10 wounds. Mitigating an additional point of damage is saving 10% of her life. That's pretty awesome.

Perhaps because of that lack of wounds, I haven't used Martyr a ton when I've played her. That said, prior to book 5 most of my Pandora crews were the smashmouth version with Box Opens and Fears Given Form, usually supported with a couple other big beaters. As such, there weren't many Woes for her to use it with. I think figuring out when best to use it will be a key part of mastering this crew.

I think that's most of the thoughts I've had so far. Thanks for sticking with the random blur of nonsense. Usually I'm more focused than this, so if this is your first time at the blog, well, Welcome! and go check out the Nicodem wanted poster article to get a better idea of what I'm shooting for most of the time.

Also, if you're an old reader (or a new fan), please go support us on Patreon! All I want is a dollar a month from you. A dollar! You don't have a dollar? You're a liar! Gimme your dollar!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

January/February Hobby Round-Up: BFF Edition


After the big Nicodem post from last week, I was excited by all the new traffic (hello to you, if you're a new fan,) but ready for a bit of a break. Thankfully, it's hobby week. Pretty pictures time!

To start with, some of my own work. I'd been preparing my Collodi crew for a tournament in Tennessee. Unfortunately, my wife's car needed new spark plugs and ignition coils, so that pretty much killed the travel budget. My patreon supporters are appreciated, but right now I don't make enough from there to cover the costs of a trip like that. (Of course, you could be a part of changing that. Doesn't that sound exciting? Go to patreon.com/malifauxmusings and you can!)

But, they're painted now at least, and I'm pretty happy with them. Here's how they turned out.


I'll just have to wait for another opportunity to Laissez les mauvais temps rouler.

I've also been working on some buddies to run with them (and other NB crews. Here's a pretty much done Iggy and a still WIP Mysterious Effigy.

I've really gotta get some better light for these. 
***

Our feature artist this week is Marina Ainagoz from Serpentarium Painting. She caught my attention because she has been posting finished work from a pair of Malifaux Masters in A Wyrd Place, the Resurrectionist BFFs Kirai and Molly. I think the work is stunning, and I think you will too. Plus, those two turning into friends was one of the funniest and coolest things to come out of M2E.

First, here's Kirai.

The freehand and the patina on the Komainu are especially impressive.

Next, here's Molly.


She's looking pretty good, with an impressive sheer material dress and some spooky ghostly effects in her hand and coming up through the floor. Very, very cool.

***

And we'll finish up with a few odds and ends.

First, Kirill Kanaev did a version of the Evil Baby Orphanage Jack the Ripper model. I was very impressed with the lighting on the felt hat.

Next, Alan O'Brien had a cool Dia de los Muertes version of the alt performer. Could work for a Domadore de Cadaveres.


Finally, Enrico Laura had a cool diorama with Archie.

There are some weird things on the other side of the looking glass.
Thanks for our contributors this week. See you next week, when I'll probably be writing stuff. Maybe. We'll see.

God, that Nicodem thing was long...

Monday, February 5, 2018

Wanted: Nicodem.





Name: Nicodem

Aliases: Nico, The Necromancer, Amelia Bathory
Known Crimes: Grave Robbery, Gross Necromancy, Drawing obscene numbers of cards
Associates: Mortimer, Phillip Tombers, Asura Roten, Morgue Assistant Sebastian

               I had an idea for a series of articles detailing the top crews in the Malifaux meta at any given point in time. I’d call them “Wanted Posters” (since Malifaux’s Most Wanted was already taken,) and they’d give me a chance to take a look at the crews that are dominating right now and give players tips as to how they worked, what the key pieces were, and how best to overcome them. I recalled, specifically, the so-called “Rat Bomb” Outcast crews from 2016 that plagued the meta (pun unintended) before they were errata’d out of existence. The community scrambled to try and discuss how to keep from getting rolled by this toxic build, but they still ran wild and the "how do I beat this list?" posts were more or less constant. Articles like these Wanted Posters could have helped save some folks from a Negative Play Experience back in the day and given them a fighting chance, and I thought maybe I could try and get something like that ready now. Plus, it would give me a chance to learn some things about Malifaux as a whole. At first, I was planning on doing one of these for a Misaki crew with the original version of her Thunder upgrade, especially after the havoc it caused at the UK Nationals. Then, of course, it ended up being nerfed in January, bringing that particular nightmare to heel a bit. So I had an idea for a cool style of blog post, but no subject. And then I remembered the crew that’s induced the most moaning and groaning in the podcasts I listened to historically, particularly those recorded in the UK. One answer jumped out: Nicodem.
               This was an intriguing subject to me for a couple of reasons. For one, I don’t have a ton of experience playing with or against him. Phiasco experimented with him early on in M2E, and the main thing I learned was to knock him out of his little circle of summoning to disrupt him (Mr. Graves literally threw him out the door of a building, which was very satisfying). Seemed simple enough, and it explained to me why I didn’t see him all that often if that was all it took to stop him. Contrasting my own experiences, however, were the horror stories out of the UK meta of him taking down tournament after tournament, seemingly without stop. The modern Nicodem crew has been the boogie-man of the UK Meta for many years, now. You can’t go five minutes on the Flippin’ Wyrds podcast without some mention of how Nico is filth (though one of the hosts probably has a lot to do with that). And yet, here in the US he doesn’t seem to have the same infamy. If you talked to certain people in the US, the thought of spending almost three quarters of your crew’s points on models to drive your summoning engine was laughably slow, the sort of thing players did in the old days of 1st edition (ah, remember that? Hiring dogs and/or desperate mercs to murder on the first turn? Memories…)
               So what is a Nicodem crew? What does it look like? What makes the crew work and, if it’s as bad as the UK meta seems to think, what can players do to beat it? Well, I knew I wasn’t the one to answer, so I went looking for outside help. Asking around the internet, I made contact with Travis Weyforth, host of the Max Value podcast and recent Nicodem convert. Max Value in particular has scoffed at the practice of spending so many points on things that don’t actually go out and score VP, though Travis has changed his tune a bit recently. His opinion, I thought, would be very informative. But, to get the inside scoop on the infamous UK Nicodem crew, there was really no one better to get hold of than the source of all this strife and woe, *sigh* Jamie F’N Varney (we’re contractually required to refer to him that way. Yes, even the sigh.) That, paired with some first-hand demonstrations and insight from a friend of mine, Rich Nave, led to the monstrosity below.

Profiles in Necromancy: How does the Nicodem crew work?



               
                      Put simply, the strength of this crew comes from its access to cards. One of the balancing factors for summoning crews is that they have to expend their resources (in the form of cards and soulstones) to do what they do and get new models out onto the board. Resurrectionists in general have ways of getting around this, and Nicodem is particularly effective at it. But, before we get down to that, let’s take a look at the important pieces of the crew and discuss how they work.



Nicodem- The man. The myth. The top hat. I mean, his name’s on the Wanted poster, so of course he’s the engine that makes this car run. His summoning is, obviously, the defining characteristic of the crew. The TN for Re-Animator (the Summoning spell) is 10 Double Crow plus the soulstone value of the undead minion he’s summoning, so cards and/or stones are the only way to make this spell work (he has one crow built in.) Like most summoners, he has some perks and some costs for his newly summoned troops. They comes in with only half of their wounds (assuming Nicodem doesn’t trigger and use some additional corpse markers to heal them), but any undead model within 6” of him gets a + to Ml and Df duels and undead models don’t gain slow within the same bubble, which takes away one of the main costs of summoning. Once the Undead are on the board, he can heal them with Decay and/or use Rigor Mortis to make them Fast. He’ll often bring the upgrade Maniacal Laugh, allowing him to take a (0) action and turn any corpse marker within 8” into a Mindless Zombie, granting a degree of mobility to his summoning. And last but not least, he draws a card whenever an undead model is killed or sacrificed within 6 of him. This is just good in general, but the crew exploits this with a few…we’ll say “loopholes” in the rules where mindless zombies and Sebastian come into play, resulting in an obscene amount of card draw that effectively lets Nicodem do what he wants on his turn, regardless of what cards he has in his opening hand. As someone who tried summoning Dreamer and, on the first turn of the first game, found himself looking at a hand with nothing bigger than an 8 in it, I can truly appreciate a summoner who is effectively agnostic to the twists and turns of deck randomization.


Asura Roten and Sebastian- These two are vital parts of the engine, functioning essentially as the fuel injectors. Asura can create a Mindless Zombie every turn, and Sebastian uses “Those Are Not Ours” to sacrifice it, drawing a card and gaining a soulstone. Because this is often done within 6” of Nicodem, that results in the drawing of another card. Two cards and a soulstone in exchange for basically spending no resources at all is a pretty good trade. Sebastian’s Under Cover action allows you to protect the summoning bubble from attacks that have gun symbols, and he isn’t completely useless in melee as a countercharger if it comes down to it (though, if it DOES come down to it, you’re probably in a lot of trouble). He’s also one of the models that can drop a scheme marker for Phillip to chew up on his activation for more cards. Asura, meanwhile, has an ability similar to Sandeep, allowing undead models within 12” to use one of her melee attacks. The worst of these, by far, is Grasping Hands, as it applies a condition that reduces your Df, Wk, and Cg by a point based on how many times you’ve been hit with the attack. That is, frankly, crippling, and adds a ton to the defensive abilities of the crew. The best way to stop a charging melee beatstick is to shorten his Cg down so he can’t reach you in the first place.



Phillip and the Nanny- The joke of this model is that it’s basically just here for “Lost Knowledge,” a tactical action that lets P+N discard a friendly scheme marker within 6” to draw two and discard one. Now, it’s fast and, if used with things that can push it, can function as a very good scheme denier. But, come on. #realtalk, the cards are the reason you’re bringing Phillip.



Corpse Bloat (aka Mortimer)- The assistant Gravedigger has been a staple in Nicodem crews from the beginning. However, he’s one of the few parts of this crew where you see variation. Jamie and several other Nicodem players I spoke to use him essentially every game. Travis, by contrast, considers him “trash” and just puts Corpse Bloat on Phillip to do the job of corpse generation, making them responsible for starting the engine and getting the car moving (to keep belaboring the metaphor.) The advantage to doing it this way, of course, is that Nicodem can then use Decay to heal him up for more corpse generation later. The disadvantage is that you’re putting your eggs in one basket and, presumably, that means killing P+N early could be a way of slowing the engine down. Plus, Mortimer has a tactical action on his card that costs 2 AP to summon a corpse, and so can summon 2 a turn (3 with My Little Helper which, let’s be honest, of course he’s bringing.) In other crews, I’ve seen the upgrade placed on Asura instead. YMMV. Either way, this piece’s job is, in the early part of the game, to generate the raw materials needed for Nico’s summoning. If you do bring Mortimer his other job is to provide a little bit more defense for the bubble. His shovel doesn’t do a ton of damage, but he is Ml7. Assuming he’s still alive later on, he also has Chatty to block interactions (so good luck doing Dig Graves.) Obviously, the advantage to consolidating and cutting Mortimer is that those points are then available for buying other models. Mr. Weyforth recommends putting them in for the Emissary. I would say, if you’re looking to try it out, try both and make your call based on your own experience. If nothing else, you’ll have the Mortimer model anyway from buying the boxed set.


The Summons­ (and the non-engine stuff)So if you’re spending so many points on the engine, you’re going to end up relying on Nicodem’s summons to do a lot of the work for you. The meat and potatoes summon is the Punk Zombie. Ml 6 2/4/5 with Flurry that you can plop out of thin air wherever you need it is nothing to turn up your nose at. Their attacks have a built in + to the flip, and Nicodem throws another one on, so these guys will routinely turn your deck over for you in a turn when they really get going. The new hotness, of course, is the Kentauroi. They add a degree of force-projection that was missing before (because, really, it just wasn’t fair that Nicodem couldn’t drop a Lampad in the opponent’s DZ turn one.) Also, they drop corpse counters all over the place when they move and are respectable in combat in their own right. Rotten Belles are still gross and good for summoning the enemy out of position and/or into the death bubble. In a pinch, he can summon the Students to specifically target a creature type if something particularly troublesome is coming for him. Also, there’s Hanged, and Dead Doxies, and Necropunks…you get the picture. As an aside, the problem with Nicodem is that, every time a new Undead minion comes out, the designers have to keep in mind that he can summon them and cost them accordingly. So, in case you ever wondered why most of them are bad for their points cost, blame him. I mean, Molly and Kirai have something to do with it to, but Nicodem is a good target.

The non-engine stuff (IE what you might hire from the beginning) have some flexibility as well, but mainly it’s to put some more attack and/or utility on the board to supplement the engine. A big counter-charger to keep Nicodem safe is usually not a terrible idea, so you might see Archie or a Valedictorian. The Emissary fits nicely, because the Death Puffin can either help the engine get running and/or go support the rest of the crew independently from the bubble (shards blocking LoS is still good.) Starting out with some Rotten Belles is usually not a bad choice either, and if you’re worried about something alpha-striking you (more on this later) the Belles can be a good counter-choice to pull the pieces out of position/into your death bubble to be killed safely. The new hotness (pun-intended) is the Lampad. Making them fast so they can push onto you, set you on fire, then knock you down to let you die from burning and summon a new one is very strong, as a 4 AP swing between crews is always one of the best power plays in Malifaux.

Putting it all together



I mean, you have some of the pieces at this point, but how does it all work on the board? Well, I could tell you, or I could just let Jamie do it. If you don’t know Jamie Varney, he’s won…all the UK tournaments? I don’t know. Most of them. He’s been the UK Master a couple times and came in second this year. He’s won Nationals. He’s won the GT. He’s the number one ranked player. He’s won all their stuff, basically, usually with some version of Nicodem/Kirai/Molly (so summoning Rezzers.) Let’s see what he’s got to say on how to play the crew, shall we?


So I see Nico playing as an engine that is all about him. He buffs everything. +flips to DF and ML mean anything around him becomes much harder to kill and much better at killing. He is amazing at resource generation and at depleting your opponents. With your models on positives your opponent will often need to cheat to make a hit count and Nico's models won't. If/when you do kill his models it's generating cards and corpses for him.

Being anywhere near Nico's bubble is a toxic place to be where you're really up against it and Nico takes it in his stride. He can pull you in with belles and reach out with Kentauroi, he is super versatile since Kentauroi and can seriously threaten almost anywhere on the board or just bring you where he needs to be using lures. Kentauroi and his/your models dropping corpses just makes his next turn stronger and if he has enough corpses to sacrifice 2 when summoning (usually late turn 2 or turn 3 with Kentauroi dropping and stuff dying) you're in a really bad place as he will bring in models fully or near fully healed and draw multiple cards for each summon. Good cards or bad cards it doesn't matter as you either use them or discard them end of turn.

Black joker. Always keep it. Always. With all the +flips especially punk zombies (a flurry PZ can easily flip 18 cards in an activation) get it out your deck and likewise always get the red back in there. Use it to summon or make an attack hit. Just get it in your deck where it can have the biggest impact. Protect Nicodem. Don't put him in danger. Always be on the lookout for threats to him and try to stop them. Anything else is expendable. Think ahead. Nico needs set up. He usually needs to think a turn or 2 ahead, he has an answer to everything but if you need interacts for example you need a summon or model that didn't arrive that turn.





Turning the Tide: How to Defeat the Undead Horde


So, is it hopeless? Sure sounds like it, and when you see the size of Nico’s hand at the end of turn one and realize that he has specially crafted his hand to make it borderline unstoppable, it can kinda feel like it. To give you an idea of how obscene this gets, I started a game with a Nico player recently on Vassal just to see the engine in action, and I watched him discard a 13 from his hand to activate an ability. It wasn’t that his hand had all high cards (there were, like, 10 cards in his hand at this point, and it was late in the turn.) It was because he wanted to hold the bad cards in his hand and stack his discard pile for next turn with severes. If he kept the bad ones, they’d be in his discard pile turn 2 and, thus, couldn’t affect his flips when he was going to be coming in to murder my face. And, of course, because he had SO MANY HIGH CARDS IN HIS HAND HE COULD AFFORD TO DISCARD ONE OF THEM.

This was on turn one, it’s worth repeating.

Well, here’s the good news. Nicodem isn’t unbeatable. Despite what some people think, Aaron does understand that Nicodem is very good and would have taken steps to nerf him in the 2018 errata if it was necessary. I’ll let Jamie throw his two bits (pence? quid? I don’t know UK money) in first.


The weakness. In my opinion there is one. And it's Nico. He is DF 4 with no +flips. Get into him and attack him. Attacking stuff around him just uses your resources and gets him more and he can easily replenish his crew. It's not easy, especially with Kentauroi to get him out of harm’s way. Not much in the game can kill him in an activation and he has an amazing heal and a solid buffed crew around him to protect him, lure, slow, kill any threats. But it is the best way to attack his set up. He will punish you for it if you can't make it count when you go in but otherwise there is no hiding from him. He will lure in or use Kentauroi to get to your models and kill them piece by piece. If you play Nico poorly he is easy to defeat but played well he has insane board control, crazy resources and snowballs into an unstoppable force.


Ok, that doesn’t sound super hopeful, but the idea is that the best day to deal with a Nicodem crew is kill Nicodem, and it’s not impossible to do so. Fighting his crew is like punching a huge marshmallow:  it’ll yield and squish down, but it’ll just spring back to shape just as quickly and leave you tired (and a bit sticky…nevermind. Ignore that part.) If you can launch a decisive alpha strike on him in the first or (maybe) second turn and kill him, threat averted. The slingshotting Viktorias probably have the best chance of pulling this off consistently, plus their whirlwind lets them damage the rest of Nico’s crew while they’re at it. And, of course, once the man in the hat is dead there’s nothing else in his crew that can really do any damage to you.

The trouble is, the crew is very good at surgically neutralizing threats early on by drawing you in and killing you or launching a Fast Lampad and/or Kentauroi into the threat’s face. And worse, if you die in the process of taking him down, you’ve most likely given him more corpse markers with which to fuel his engine, which is some major salt in the wound. As Omar from the Wire put it “You come at the king. You best not miss.” But how to ensure that? Back to the main man I went, with a more pointed question. “You’re sitting down to a game of Malifaux, and you’re playing against Doppleganger Jamie Varney, and you know he’s playing your Nico. What crew do you bring?”


Anything that can bring multiple points of pressure onto Nico turn 1. One model is not enough, he will just kill it or tie it up. Or something that can take out a lot at once, Viks, Misaki etc or something that can pull nico out (not easy at WP 7) so Zipp or Asami.

But tbh Asami is the ultimate nico counter. She can pull him out or just summon off his corpses and she's super quick and can put summons and Yasunori in his face turn 1


*breathes a quick sigh of relief that he didn’t just say “I would play Nico also.”*

That makes it a bit clearer. Your alpha strike needs to be able to bring several threats to bear at once. Yasunori+Misaki, perhaps, or Viktorias and…some other fast thing from Outcasts (I don’t play Outcasts.) If you’re playing Rezzers, you can always give him a taste of his own medicine and Lure him out to take him down (not easy, but at least possible) or maybe some combination of Seamus plus a beater that gets lured forward and then charges in. There are options. The point is, bring multiple threats and jump on him early. If you wait until later in the game, the engine will be running and there will be no stopping him.

Now, not every crew can pull off a turn one multi-front blitzkrieg (shocker.) Also, it may not be the right gameplan for every Rezzer crew your opponent might bring, so you’re gambling in a tournament situation bringing an “anti-Nico” crew that you might end up wrong-footed with an inappropriately suicidal crew. So what happens if you don’t have the perfectly crafted anti-Nico crew, but find yourself squaring off with the master Necromancer? Well, for that one, I turned to Travis, who just finished up coming in second at CaptainCon with Nicodem this previous weekend.
This is more of a paraphrase, as I asked him for bullet points to save him time, but…

Going for kills on nico isn't bad but it needs to be something that can kill him on one activation or very close. You aren't going to chip him down slowly. Any 3/4/6 type beater is scary because one red joker and he's in danger of dying. But even then you are just fishing for the joker and hoping, which isn't the best plan.
So alpha strikes are always good if you have access to good ones and do it right, but don't alpha strike with some mediocre model. You’ll just be feeding him corpses. Instead, you can win with your scheme selection.
You don't want to take any end of game schemes vs nico. You are always going to be out activated late in the game, and he just powers up over the game so things like take prisoner or covert breakthrough are super easy for him to deny late. You want schemes that score all at once (before end of game) if possible or alternatively ones that you score per turn like Dig Graves.
You also need to focus on scoring points not trying to win the brawl. Unless you get an alpha strike early and get way ahead or manage to kill nico you are always going to lose the brawl, so instead focus on scoring what victory points you can early on. Any killing you do should be done to accomplish this goal, aid you in scoring VP, or to block him from scoring.
Biggest thing is scheme selecting.
Score points as quick as you can. By turn 4-5 you will almost certainly be at a huge disadvantage.



The key thing that every Nicodem player I spoke to for this article repeated is this: he is beatable, it’s just that people don’t know how to do it. Play your strategies and schemes (since, you know, that’s how you win.) Don’t get intimidated by what he’s doing, and don’t try to knock him out unless you’re confident you can get it done in one clean blow. Instead, focus on getting as many VP as you can in the beginning of the game and denying him later, if possible.

In a way, it’s narratively fitting to play against Nicodem if you think of it like a zombie horror movie. Your crew are the group of plucky survivors, trying to hold their ground against a relentless tide of the dead. You’re going to get overwhelmed. You’re going to get overrun. A big, grey tide of the dead is shambling your way, and you have a turn or two to prepare for their arrival. Make those turns count, because when the horde gets here your models are going to start dying. By turn 5 there may not be very many of them left. Understand that from the beginning, and keep your head about you. Keep your eye on the prize and play the scenario, and that will give you the best chance of winning in the end. Remember, Nicodem’s crew isn’t going to be trying to score points early on. It’s busy revving the engine up on turn 1. The Kentauroi being added to the crew means he’s at least going to be able to threaten you early on, but that’s nothing compared to what you’ll face later, and chances are he’ll have to send them out of the bubble to reach your key stuff. Grab your VP as fast as you can, and hang on as hard as possible until the final whistle. It’s not going to be easy, but the point is that it’s POSSIBLE to win, and this gives you the best shot at doing it.

***

I hope this was informative and somewhat entertaining. Many thanks to my contributors. You can find Jamie on Twitter being relentlessly hounded about how broken Nico is @FlippinWyrds. You can also sometimes hear him on a podcast, the Flippin Wyrds Malifaux Podcasts, though they’ve put out two episodes in three months, so don’t hold your breath (we tease because we love). Travis can, of course, be heard on the Max Value podcast, likely telling you why Larry, Roger, or Alex are wrong (today.) He wants to invite people to register for the Capital City Meltdown tournament, May 5-6 in Laurel, Maryland. If you don’t go, you’re a bad person and you should feel bad about yourself. Lord knows, I do. And, of course, thanks to Rich, who’s on FB and usually on Vassal Tuesdays making Phiasco or I sad by summoning far too many things.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Mali Gras: Pre-Tournament Planning

               This week’s topic…is something I’m saving for next week. I am going to introduce a new type of post taking a look at particular crews that are powerful in the meta and how best to approach them. However, the fellow I was going to interview about it is a bit busy with UK Masters this weekend, so I’m taking a detour. Let’s have a quick convo about a tournament that’s coming up, and something that occurred to me for how I can approach it.

***

               On the third, I’m taking a trip up to Bristol, TN for a tournament at DeWayne’s World Comics and Games. I’ll be able to do this in part because of funding that you, the MM community have delivered through our Patreon account. Oh, what’s that? You don’t know about Patreon?
               First of all, I know you’re lying, because I’ve written about it on here before. But I’ll do the spiel anyways. Patreon is a way for fans like you to support content creators like Malifaux Musings by donating some money every month. In exchange, you get to unlock individual and group rewards levels. Higher donations mean higher rewards, but all I really want from you, humble reader is $1 a month. I know you’re good for it. If you feel like chipping in more, that’d be great, but let’s get start with $1. Just head over to www.patreon.com/malifauxmusings
               Ahem. Spiel over.
               Anyways, as far as I know this upcoming tournament is going to be Gaining Grounds 2018 with standard rotation. I’m pushing to get rid of the close deployment in Round 1, but for the time being let’s assume it’s staying. That makes the three round tournament 1) Close Deployment + Public Executions, 2) Standard + Ply for Information 3) Corner Deployment + Ours. I don’t believe we have scheme pools yet, but let’s take a look and do some pre-planning.

Round 1

               So, obviously this first round game is going to be about applying a bit of the old ultraviolence, as they say. I’ll probably be playing Collodi a lot this tournament, and this round will be no exception. It’s the killiest Neverborn crew I have, and the one with which I’ve had the most experience. They’re pretty close to finished being painted, and fittingly it’s almost Mardi Gras season. They’ll be able to bring a bit of the festive fun to Bristol this round.

Just point them towards the second line.


               I think the main thing here will be to stay back a bit from the front lines, depending on my opponents. I don’t want to get charged straight off the bat. I can handle a bit of melee, but there are limits. It’s possible I may just deploy per a normal game’s range. In any case, the point of this game will be to bring in the hard hitters and leave the opponent with a trio of unpleasant options to face. Nekima is the first threat. Normally I would pair her up with the Hooded Rider as the other hitter, but we’re going to be in combat early on here and I don’t want to risk losing him early. This may be a good game to break out the Mysterious Emissary, as his condition removal can help to knock some of the Blood off of the enemy crew’s hands to balance out the numbers. Maybe some Stitched can go in that slot instead, or Graves. I’ll have to look closer for what works best when the game comes around. If I do use Stitched I’ll stick with Fated, but if not this may be a game to think about using Bag of Props instead. The Marionettes handing out some Focus to Collodi may help with wrecking the opponents’ crew.

Round 2

               This round’s more about activation control and scheme running than round 1, but a healthy dose of killing is important for defense as well. Killing a model with Ply (or dealing severe damage) knocks the condition off, so that’s a good way to even things up if I fall behind. Getting a few more activations in here than my opponent will be important. The Emissary’s summoning of Changelings (hopefully, though every time I want to summon with him the cards are not there) will help with this, and he can clear the condition with his attack. I’m going to try and come out shooting here, but this one will require playing cagily and killing models before they can get over to me. It’ll be much more about out-activating the opponent early on, then surgically swinging the strategy around with the latter turn activations. So, yeah, more Collodi. Not much else to say. Let’s move on to the next one.

Round 3

               Now, I’ve got a couple of ideas here. One of them is to just keep playing Collodi. There’s nothing specifically about this that he’s not good for, though without Vasilisa or some speed I’ll have a harder time spreading up field and attacking. On the other hand, I have an idea to come at it from a different angle. One of the quirks that happened between later in the playtest process to the final version of GG2018 was the reintroduction of 0SS henchmen counting as 10ss for the purpose of this strategy. That means that a Jacob Lynch crew gets a free 10 stones in Ours. Plus, since he can be buried and then return after being killed, that makes it even tastier. Seems like a pretty good option to me. So, it’s time for some more…

I will literally use any opportunity to put this banner back out.


               I’m thinking a crew with four smashy models is going to be pretty clutch in the current version of GG2018, and this crew’s got it. We’re talking Nekima. We’re talking Hooded Rider. Throw in Lynch and Hungering Darkness for flavor, and it’s gonna be a rough time for whoever comes up against it. I’m planning on working in some cheap activations to get the model count up a bit. Depleted may be a good choice for this, as they count towards the strategy and give us more ways to get Brilliance into the crew. And, of course, Changelings are always a good inclusion. Plus, with this many big beaters, there will be a lot of models to borrow nasty attacks from in my crew.

               So, that’s the game plan. We’ll see how much of it survives the crew building portion of the tournament, but it’s a start. 

Monday, January 22, 2018

Dreamer v. Asami Battle Report: Summoning's good for Ours, right?

Today's post (well, technically Friday's post. I'm late. Sue me) will be a battle report from Vassal where Phiasco and I continued working through Gaining Grounds 2018's January-March rotation, playing Ours. As an aside, we meet regularly for Vassal games Tuesday. You should come join us!

First, some cool Mini-Musings!

Mini-Musings

-Alt Lazarus is here! Sort of! You can't buy him though! But it gives you a new thing to spend your Guilders on! Exclamation marks!!! I want one!!!!

-We mentioned the Wyrdscapes line in a previous post, showing an image of a building they were going to do. Now, they've sent us an image of a much larger span of stuff that could be used to make a whole board. Hopefully it's modular, as this board might be a bit sparse on terrain for an average game, but it definitely looks cool! And expensive. Very, very expensive.

-Fire in the Sky released as a PDF on Drivethru RPG for $15. I recommended it before, and I think I'll do a review of it in the near future, but I like this module a lot. First of all, it takes you Earthside to San Francisco in 1906, integrating a significant incident that happened in the real Earth with The Other Side's fluff in a very cool way. Also, this module has by far the coolest Ongoing Skill Challenge of the game's history, which I cannot recommend enough. It's so cool. Check it out! 

First game of 2018


Strategy: Ours
Deployment: Corner
Schemes: Guarded Treasure, Covert Breakthrough, Show of Force, Search the Ruins, Take One for the Team.

My Crew
Dreamer-Dreams of Pain, Otherworldly, On Wings of Darkness, 7SS
2xDaydreams
Serena Bowman
Mr. Tannen
Hooded Rider-Warped Reality
Bultunginx2
Theory-While summoned models don’t count for Ours, their deaths don’t hurt our side either. As such, I can send them as sacrificial troops, while I use my stuff to score and lay some hits down. The Hooded Rider with Warped Reality makes for a good backfield defender early on and attacker on later decisive turns. Bultungins work well with D and Empty Night, and can make for good cheap flankers on their own. Tannen is there not for the Teddies (though, we’ll see how that goes)
My schemes: Guarded Treasure, Take One for the Team on Tannen

Phiasco’s Crew
Asami Tanaka-A Heavenly Design, Nef. Pact,
Amo No Zako
Ohagaru Betari-A Taste for Flesh
Sun Qiang
2x Ten Thunders Brothers
Chiaki

T1-My opening hand is pitiful. I’m going to have to use Tannen’s ability just to summon a single Stitched Together. Serena made the Hooded Rider and a Bultungin have Black Blood. We spent most of the first turn positioning and setting up for trouble in later turns. I’ll just throw in the screenshot.
Now, that's what I call a control hand.

T2
-Serena and a Bultungin move around a flank away from where the combat is brewing to go and set up for Guarded Treasure. More positioning happens, as I’m trying to cagily avoid the devastating 1 turn charges that Asami’s crews can dish out. I did, however, have an amazing hand including the Red Joker and the 13 of Masks. Dual Teddy summoning? I mean, when was I ever going to have a chance again? Turns out it was probably the wrong choice, however, as Ohagaru Betari then proceeded to charge through both of them and maul them to death before I could heal them up. Whoops. We both score for Ours, so it’s 1-1


Not pictured, 2 Teddies. Sad face.
T3-The Nightmare Bultungin is in a good spot to eat a scheme marker, but can’t do that since the Ten Thunders Brother is there to block it, reaffirming to me how absurdly powerful they are. Bettari wins initiative and attacks my Hooded Rider, causing me to hold my breath in terror before he, instead, threw my Rider away and charged Tannen (clearly trying to make sure that I didn’t summon any more Teddies.) He kills Tannen. I score 2 for Take One for the Team. The Hooded Rider charges the aforementioned Ten Thunders Brother standing in the middle of the scrum, but fails to kill him on the first swing, so I can’t pick up a scheme marker to remove him. The 2nd attack flips a Red Joker, however, so then the scheme marker gets tossed. I congratulate myself on blocking his Guarded Treasure scheme, which I figure is probably a good and useful thing (I was only partially right.) The Dreamer hauls ass to get away from Betty and drops a scheme marker next to the center line for Guarded Treasure. At the end of the turn, only I score for Ours, so I go up 5-1.


We take a one week break. Over the break, I convince myself he’s trying to complete Search the Ruins and Guarded Treasure. I’m half right, as I’ll find out.

T4-The plan for bringing Serena Bowman takes effect (which is good, because I felt kinda dumb for sending her off on her own to score Guarded Treasure uncontested but also not use any abilities. Whoops.) Dreamer now starts using Empty Night to control the Dead Rider and the Bultungin, followed by accomplishing into the Rider, to devastating effect. The two of them take down Amo No Zako and Sun Qiang. Asami, no longer required for handing out 1 AP charges, summons ac ouple of Yokai and uses one of them to bounce Bettari up onto a rock, to prepare for more charging on my master and/or beaters. To try and block him, I walk the Bultungin up onto the rock to engage him (and prevent him from charging away. Some more fiddling happens. Jon opens markers for Search the Ruins, confirming my prediction of his schemes (in my mind.) We both score Ours, so it’s 6-2.


T5-The Dreamer summons Lelu and Lilitu (probably what I should have done instead of the Teddies.) I then Accomplice the Hooded Rider to charge Asami and knock her onto her Hard to Kill and remove a pair of Search the Ruins Markers. Bettari, however, proves that I am wrong about his schemes and escapes from the Bultungin to go drop markers for Covert Breakthrough, rather than Guarded Treasure. I should have seen this coming, since he had 2 Ten Thunders Brothers for scheme runners.) Lelu and Lilitu were summoned in a way to try and block the Guarded Treasure I thought he was doing, so their attempts now to Lure and Pounce on her to finish her is no longer relevant. Jon’s other 10T Brother runs into the backfield to drop another marker. When we total the points up, we see that he’s managed to catch up to me, and the game ends in an 8-8 tie. So, yeah. That kinda sucked.But it's Phiasco and I, so who was surprised? Not me. This is what happens when we play.

But, but...Guarded Treasure?

Lessons

-Summoning Teddies is cute. And super greedy (if you’re familiar with CCG terminology.) It’s not the most efficient use of cards, though. Lelu and Lilitu summons would probably have been better on that turn, and in general.

-The experiment of whether Tannen’s ability to smooth out the “mana curve” of summoning by buffing masks is ongoing. I wouldn’t have been able to summon at all on turn 1 without him, and it let me summon two stupid Teddies. Both are outliers, and the experimentalist in me says that means I should throw those results out. More testing is needed.

-Trying to spot the enemy’s scheme choices mid-game are what you need to do. However, don’t marry yourself too hard to your prediction, as you can be wrong. There was literally a space of this game where it legit looked like Phiasco was going for Guarded Treasure (it was a Search marker and I misread his intent.) And, if you don’t know what the enemy’s schemes are, no lead is safe. Be prepared. Hood


Friday, January 12, 2018

January 2018 Errata Initial Overreactions

Science joke!


I mean, what else could we be talking about this week than the errata? Let’s just get to the mini-musings and then we can talk about the new stuff.

 But first, did you know we're supported by Patreon? Yeah, dude, we totally are! Thanks to our patrons, I was able to actually buy the first Malifaux mini I've picked up in almost a year. Every person my Iggy Incites will be thanks to you guys! And the best part is, I just want $1 a month from you. So why don't you go join in?!?Punctuation!?!?


Mini-Musings

-There’s a new PDF available for Through the Breach. It’s a Penny Dreadful collecting the story from the previous year’s time travelling world event, A Stitch in Time. A terrible accident has happened, and your characters are tossed into Malifaux’s past, into the days of the first breach. You have to find a way to get back without significantly changing the future, battling an infamous necromancer from the city’s history and facing a terrible threat that still menaces the city today. It’s $15. Go get it.

-Wyrd’s also getting into the terrain business, starting with their Wyrdscapes line. There was a preview posted about a month ago. It looks like this.

-Aaron’s looking for a new moderator for the forums. PM him if you want to throw your name in. If you need me to give you a link to the thread...maybe you aren't right for the job.


-Results from the Iron Painter are in. The Bronze finalists joined with everyone who completed the painting to be entered into a raffle, resulting in the winners argailwall, Annanas, Zanna, Nathillien, Dlenok, beergod, Reservoir Dog, sycorax, Citames, and Senya1987. The silver tier winners were sleepwalker, Demonn Agram, icatsai, and glamage, while the runners up were TheArtofWargaming, Joe Cool, Hellogre, and neveroddoreven. And finally, in the duel for first place, Octavus came out ahead of Whirler. Congrats to them, and to everybody who made it through to the end!

Overreaction Theater!


               So, if you weren’t around for the silly story behind it, about a week ago an update pushed for the Bad Things Happen app that contained what we would later discover was the updated stats for the cards. It was an odd sort of glitch and feels like it wasn’t intended, as it also kinda broke the thing. About a day later, the errata document released (along with Gaining Grounds 2018. Keep an eye on next month’s Wyrd Chronicles for my thoughts on that.) And, of course, people went a little nuts. Not as nuts as one tends to expect from gamers when you mess with their toys, but there were certainly pockets of people losing their collective shit. It happens, not a big deal.


               So what changed? Actually, surprisingly little. Some folk were expecting quite a bit more (your humble Bloggist among them). Nicodem crews were essentially untouched, for instance, despite the collective wailing and tooth gnashing of seemingly the entire UK. Nothing was done about the seemingly unintended first-turn-unburying of a Viktoria by the Scion of the Void, though this could just be a matter of "wait and see." Most of the changes came in the form of soulstone adjustments, usually 1 stone up or down. That may not seem like much, and in a lot of cases it isn’t really that big of a deal, but in some others it is a huge difference. I've found it’s useful to think of it in terms of overall percentage of the soulstone cost that was changed. So, while a one stone increase on Yasunori might not make that huge of a difference, reducing the cost of a Hoarcat Pride by a stone brings it down by 20%. That’s a big deal. In some cases, these soulstone changes are exactly what the doctor ordered, as the problem with an otherwise good model was just the cost. In some other cases, changing soulstone cost can’t fix a model that flat out needs a redesign. The Ice Golem is probably the posterboy for this. It’s an awesome model. People want to play with the thing, but it has Defense of 2. No number of reduced soulstones will make up for that.

               So, let’s get the pain out of the way now: Gremlins players are probably a little bummed, as they got by far the largest number of “cuddles.” Specifically, McTavish, Burt Jebsen, and Francois Lacroix all went up by a point. In exchange, there were relatively few reductions to models that most would classify as “good,” though expect to see a few more Bayou Bushwackers and Whiskey Golems on the board. Taken individually, none of the increases are debilitating. If you liked Francois, there’s nothing to stop you from still playing him, and he’ll work just as well as he always did, killing things worth way more points than he costs. And I honestly doubt that many people are going to argue that those models didn't need to have their value increased by 1 (especially Franc, who was pretty much in EVERY gremlin crew.) The thing is, though, if you were bringing all of them (which was not uncommon) then now that’s an increase of 3. That’s starting to hurt. That's a whole Bayou Gremlin. Additionally, Bert and McTavish’s value as mercenaries is probably in the tank, and Nellie crews (which often took the two of them) take a small hit as well. That’s where these nerfs hit hardest, when you’re selecting several models whose cost was increased. Now, how much of an effect will this have overall? I suppose it depends how reliant on these models your crews were, and how unwilling you are to experiment with something else. It’s painful to get your stuff nerfed, there’s no doubt about it, but you’ll survive. Maybe take this opportunity to try something new, a master you’ve had in your bag for a while and not tried or maybe even dip a toe into another faction for a little break before you come back to your greenskins. Ulix, Mah Tucket, and the Brewmaster all got some nudges in the good direction recently, so maybe consider giving them a shot. The crews you’re playing now will still be waiting for you when you decide to come back and figure out how best to make them run.

               The only non-soulstone cost changes were for Misaki’s Thunder Upgrade and Seamus’ Sinister Reputation. The former reduced the range at which her blast markers could be placed down to 8” from 12 and removed the clause that made the damage irreducible (arguably the bigger of the two nerfs.) This isn’t exactly unexpected, as the main feedback from the UK Grant Tournament were horror stories of her blasting nearly entire crews on the first and second turns. I haven’t had the pleasure of facing it in person, but those I’ve spoken to have let me know that, while it isn’t an unbeatable combination by any stretch, getting caught on the wrong side of it when not prepared is kind of a negative play experience and bad for Malifaux . So, while I’m sad that the Mistress of the Thunders is getting knocked back down right after finally starting to pull herself up, I’m glad to see things change in a way that’s better for the game. The Gremlin changes kinda fall into the same category, tbh, as it should promote diversity away from the more standard builds to some new ideas and some increased variety. One might be surprised that more wasn’t done to do the same for Outcasts (who have a similar problem), but I’m not a game designer. Sinister Rep, on the other hand, actually got a buff, in that it now is able to be used as a 1” close combat attack in addition to a ranged attack. 1) I think that this is a good change, though it probably makes Bag O’ Tools completely unnecessary and 2) I don’t understand why this needed to be done right now. There are other things that one would have expected to be more pressing and require more immediate attention, and I don’t recall hearing a great clamor in the community to buff Seamus. But, then again, he is kind of the face of the faction, and in addition to Teddy was probably one of the two main draws to pull people into Malifaux in the first place. Maybe this was a marketing move? I don’t know. In any case, it exists, so use it. The boogy man of Malifaux just got a lot...boogier? Sigh. Ignore me. 

Other factions were more of a mixed bag. Most of the Resurrectionist cost reductions really just translate to “now it’s easier to summon them” rather than increasing the likelihood of their hiring, and the Nurse going up by 1 hurts Zoraida more than anybody else. Hayreddin dropping by a point is interesting, though, as I’ve always thought there was something pretty good with that model. The Outcasts got probably the most even split of buffs and nerfs, as Johan, the Trapper, and Ashes and Dust all went up by 1 (making A&D the first 14 point model in the game) but reductions to Bishop, Hans, the Scramble upgrade, and Desperate Mercs (3 pt Mercs!) help them out in unexpected ways. The Ten Thunders models that went up in cost people will probably keep using anyways (Terracotta Warrior and Yasunori.) Yamaziko at 6SS is a bargain, so expect to see a lot of ninja granny in the future, particularly as she can carry the upgrade for the automatic 3 point score on public demonstration. The Dawn Serpent coming down by one is a welcome sight for McCabe players as well as Marcus. I don’t know if Ototo coming down by 1 is enough to warrant fielding him, but I hope so, as I like Ototo in general. The Guild are probably the biggest “Meh” of these changes, though given the fact that they got a lot of love in Book 5, maybe they didn’t need a lot of help. Guild Guards are now in the 3ss club. Lead Lined coat being a point cheaper means you’ll maybe have to stop and think if you want it versus a third Debt to the Guild. The Judge has always been overcosted, but moving him down one just puts him the same pile of 8ss hench’s that Guild’s always had, and he’s still not as good as Franc or Phiona. The rest is pretty forgettable.

Get your paws ONTO this damn dirty ape. No? I'll see myself out...

               Now let’s talk about fun stuff. A lot of interesting models had their costs reduced as well. Probably the biggest of these was the Arcanists’ favorite ape, Cojo, who got a whopping -2 reduction. Cojo’s abilities were always good, but at his old price tag he was just too expensive to be worth the buy. Not so, now. Expect to see lots of him throwing your scheme markers and models around soon. Additionally, the Hooded, Pale, and Dead Riders all saw their costs reduced by 2 as well. I don’t know enough about the other two to comment for certain on the viability of this, but I love the Hooded and often preferred him over Nekima when they were only two points different. I’ll take him at 10 all day every day. More generally, the Riders are some of the coolest models in the game, so anything that gets more of them on the table I support. My current faction, the Neverborn, probably saw the biggest spread of reductions to decent models in general, with Baby Kade, Bad Juju, the Beckoner, Lelu, and Bunraku all going down a point. The Arcanists are the other faction that could potentially make an argument for “most improved,” as the handful of good models that saw buffs from this saw significant improvements, including the aforementioned Cojo, the now spammable Hoarcat Prides, and The Captain+Patron’s Blessing getting a cumulative -2 cost as well. This helps offset the pain of Johan going up, and lets people use what most people thought was a very good but too expensive model. 

               What difference will all of this make overall? Tough to say, though I would put money on “not as much as you might think.” In the end, most of these changes were still just a stone. There were a reason a lot of these models weren’t being hired, and after an initial burst of experimentation, don’t be surprised if a lot of people just go back to using what they had before. Some, however, will definitely stick, and just the fact that it brings things closer to the middle and promotes diversity is likely better for the game overall. I can appreciate the philosophy behind sticking to soulstone cost modifications rather than rewriting rules in general, and the logic behind leaving book 4 and 5 alone for now is sound, but I do feel there were things that could (and maybe should) have been addressed that weren’t handled here. Maybe we’ll see some more tweaks over the summer. The next round of major tournaments (keep an eye on Winter Murderland in DC and the UK Masters) will tell us more.


               I’m sure you have a number of opinions that differ from mine. Feel free to comment and share them, and as always, thank you for reading! 

Friday, January 5, 2018

First Hobby Round-Up of 2018: Iron Painter 2017 Gold Finalists

We're still in the early stages of recovery from holiday break, so it's perhaps a blessing that today's post is a hobby roundup. To begin with, let's take a look at the Iron Painter. The last round's theme was Snowpocalypse, and has finished up. Voting is going on now. Congratulations to everyone who made it through to this point! I'm going to feature the entries of the two Gold finalists, but everybody who made it through to the end is a winner.

The first competitor for the final prize is Octavus, who submitted this entry, featuring an encounter between some gasmasked figures with a "Spirit of Christmas." The diorama is highlighted by photo-realistic images of missing people pasted to the board of the building behind them (click and blow it up to see them more clearly).


The second entry was submitted by Whirler. This diorama features a party of elves travelling through the snow, along with a Tolkein quote. The realism of the faces, particularly on the crouching woman, is stunning.


I don't envy the judges their choice between these two amazing entries. And, again, let me point out that these two are not the only entries. The Silver, Bronze, and even those who had been eliminated but continued to paint submitted some great work as well. Check it all out, and go submit your votes for the Bronze categories. 

***

To swing hard in the other direction, I did a bit of work since the last of these posts. I was going to Dawn's team event last month that ended up not happening and needed to play Ten Thunders, so I got some paint on a couple of staples, the Terracotta Warrior and Ten Thunders Brother, and a proxy for a Wave 5 model, Gwynneth Maddox. This was my first real try at working with white primer. I'm pleased with how it went, though I'm not crazy about the specific primer I used (too think, chokes out some details.) Still, I think they turned out well.




***

Finally, I've done my usual perusing of the Wyrd place painting submissions, picking out a few things that jumped out and drew my attention. First, there's a Spawn Mother that looks very impressive, painted by Adam Huenecke.


Next, there have of course been a number of people painting the holiday themed alternate Rasputina boxed set. I appreciated this version of the Festivus Arboreus by Al Jardines.


Next, continuing with the winter theme, here's a version of the more classic Rasputina crew staple, the Snowstorm, painted by Dragon Slayer Models.



And lastly, to warm things up a bit, here's the alternate Santiago Ortega model, Santana, done by Ravenswood Studios.



Every time I see this sculpt, I want to play my Ortega crew again, especially as I can now use her as Monster Hunter. Hmm. *gets wrist slapped by Pandora* Yes, ma'am. Neverborn or bust. I know...

***

Lastly, I'd like to direct some of you to a poll I put up on the Malifaux Musings Facebook page. I'm collecting data to try and aim posts to more of the content people specifically are interested in. Go over there, give us a FB like, and make your voice heard! I want to keep the blog's growth going!

And with that, I'll pass on one last bit of Holiday cheer, sent to me by the people of Wyrd. I know some of you read the blog, so I thought I'd let you know that the holiday card really made my day. It's my privilege to contribute my small part of making Wyrd grow, and I'm looking forward to what I can do in the coming year.