Saturday, September 16, 2017

Coordinated Heist - Parker Barrows vs Collodi game 1

Greetings all.  So Adam and I recently finished our first game with our project masters (game 1 of 30 for me.  Uncertain if Adam has a number of games to play goal).  Without further ado... the quick and dirty rundown.

I took :
Parker w/ Coordinated Heist, Black Market, and Human Sheild
Mad Dog w/ Crate of Dynamite, and Lucky Poncho
Wokou Raider x 2
Doc Mitchel
Librarian
Hans

Vs.

Collodi w/ Fated, Strum the Treads, Breath Life
Emissary w/ Mysterious Conflux
Shadow, Brutal, Arcane, lucky effigies
Stitched x 2
Marionettes x 3

Standard Extraction
Claim Jump
Leave your Mark
Mark for Death
Eliminate the Leadership
Last Stand

Crew Selection limited to models owned (my Parker box was on order).

 I looked at the map but not close enough to realizes Hans is garbage on this map  My thinking is when I play into neverborn I like to have at least 1 ruthless model to mitigate Doppleganger and/or Barberos.  I picked up the Wokou to support a Misaki build I have yet to use mostly because I need to get the models painted.  So I threw a couple in to see what I thought.  Librarian because outcast.  Wasn't sold on the Bandidos because the look too squishy but with Run and Gun would have been gold on this map (I can picture Adam vs my Tau crisis suits and a little PTSD). So I threw Doc and Mad Dog in to round out the crew.

If I had it to play again I might have swapped a Wokou for a 4th qualifying model on Last Stand.  But considering Extraction was the goal I don't think a Parker crew is suited to do both.  And due to Adams list I was playing vs 4 schemes.  So basically you can look at this map as 3 parallel hallways.  I sent Doc and a Wokou off to my left, ignored the right and sent the bulk of my crew up the center.  My plan was to get the Wokou in the middle into melee to eat up cards or tie up model but she run into the pair of stitched and melted.  But that let mad dog slide into position to unload with his shotgun and blow up the cover at the entrance to the middle chamber.  I knew once the Wokou on the side started scoring Mark for me he would have to send something to deal with it or seed me 3 points and doc was over there to back her up and help score the strat for the one turn he could squeak in range.  He sent the shadow down my right side and his Emissary came to deal with my Wokou.  I knew the emissary could reach claim jump by turn 3 and if he did Doc could walk over.  Shadow was way out of range to hit Mark by turn 3 but he could have done part of claim if he could carve a spot in the main chamber.  So I ignored the shadow since I would have time to adjust after Adam scored a point with him.  He turned out to be a decoy to attempt to draw one of my more expensive models to go deal with.  Once I got into the Marionettes I was able to lock up 3 for Mark for death.  In return he got my Librarian with a mark.  Hans did slightly more than nothing but ended up being clutch for the 1.5 rounds of combat he got in.  And the Wokou on the flank got 2 Marks left via 0 action kick ball.  Not being able to cheat Ml vs defense works almost like agile. I was able to disengage, drop a scheme, and 0 punt it but the Emissary blocked the third one by walking around me.  And when the smoke cleared in the center Adam got 4 for the Strat to my 2 leaving the final 7-5 for me.

Things that worked.  I like the Wokou but I'm not certain 2 or more is worth it.  I will put them on the table some more before I give them a definitive rating.  Mad Dog was the MVP but it probably had more to do with the match up vs what he brings to the table.  Also this probably goes without saying Librarians are good.

Things that didn't.  I flipped 0 upgrades.  Didn't use 2 upgrades that I brought but I see a synergy with the Wokou and Dynamite that I need to look into.  Hans plus this map should have been complete fail.  Things that work in Thunders don't work for outcast.

I picked up some Ronin.  I own most of the outcast Mercs.  I need to learn what outcasts do better than other factions.  Maybe the leaders just tend to do more on average compared to Thunders so the support models tend to feel weaker by comparison.  If that is the case Parker will be an uphill battle. I think the wave 5 models will fit my play style a little better but they are down the line.  Crew has since been acquired, assembled, and primed.

Until next time...

Friday, September 15, 2017

Dress Rehearsal: How Not to Collodi

Greetings, Musers. With the launch of the patreon account and the signing on of some of our members, we have reached our first goal: commitment to a weekly schedule of posts here on the blog. I’m excited (and slightly terrified) of the prospects of having a regular schedule and deadline to meet on a weekly basis. Hopefully, I’m up to the challenge. I’ve laid out a rough preliminary schedule for the topics for the foreseeable future.

Week 1) General Hobby update: Thoughts on crews I'm working on, some pictures of painted models, etc.

Week 2) Book Review: Review of a physical Malifaux product of some kind. Likely to be Through the Breach related, as their publishing schedule is more frequent. 

Week 3) Tactics Articles: Tournament reports, crew list theory, etc.

Week 4) Story Article: A look at the fluff of the world of Malifaux. Could be some articles that, say, would break down one of the factions or masters through the development of the Malifaux story, or would include my efforts at writing some short fiction.

          I’ve also considered including “Musing on a Meme” articles, where I make a meme list that focuses on some oddity of the Malifaux game or fluff to make a unique crew that, perhaps, isn’t the most competitive thing out there. These posts would be in addition to material written by Phiasco, of course, so that’s even more content, all thanks to our Patreon Supporters!
          Speaking of which, our Patreon campaign is still going, and we’re still looking for more support. I don’t need to replace my income with Malifaux Musings or anything crazy, but it would sure make me feel better about taking time away from my family or job or free time (ha ha, like I have much of that) to write here when I know it’s going towards bringing in some cash for us. Plus, the money from it can go towards buying more Malifaux stuff to feed the blog. Enjoy the Through the Breach review last week? We can do more stuff like that in the future, even including some of the models, using the cash brought in through Patreon. I’m not asking for a ton of cash from you, either. Can you afford $1 a month? I’ll take it! With the new publication schedule, that’s literally .25 cents per post. I don’t even want to think how silly the word count payrate would be for that. If you want to give me more, I won’t stop you, but $! is all I ask. Let’s see what we can turn this thing into together.

***

          Ah, Autumn is here. And you know what that means, folks. It’s time for the Autumn Queen! With Lillith out of the way, no one can stand in her way as she ascends to power over the Neverborn and can begin purging the scourge of humanity from Mali-

*Marionette scuttles into the room*

          -faux. No more will our people be held beneath the oppressive heels of the Gui-

*Marionette scrabbles next to me, tugging insistently on my pant-leg*

          -ld. Um, excuse me. Hello, little man. I’m in the middle of a Malifaux Musings post at the moment. I’m going to talk about Titania. Can I help you?


*Marionette shakes his head and points at his chest.*

          Well. Yes. I know. But it’s Autumn now. Thematically, I should be playing the Autumn Queen. And, you know how she gets when she feels like I’m not paying enough attention to her.

*Marionette makes an angry face, pointing sternly at himself.*

          Look, tell your master I’m sorry, but he didn’t get anything good in Broken Promises. It’s hard to get excited for a master who is essentially not changing and didn’t get any new toys-

*Marionette holds up picture of Hinamatsu.*

          Ok, ok. He got one new toy. But I don’t know how it works! And I wa-

*Crosses arms. Taps foot impatiently.*

          Sigh. Alright. Let’s go play some Collodi.

*Marionette does a quick cartwheel, grabbing me by the hand and skip as we head to the laptop for some Vassalfaux.*

***
          *ahem* Take two.  It’s Autumn, and you know what that means, time to honor the Autumn Queen by playing her loyal servants, The Neverborn! This of course includes (presumably) the Puppet Master Collodi, the master you voted for me to build! My opponent was Phiasco trying out Parker Barrows (who, you’ll recall, won the poll. Phiasco agreed to pick him up and give him a whirl.) We were playing in Vassal and I randomly picked a map, which turned out to be one of the interior maps for which that platform is (in)famous. My goal was to play a minion-heavy crew with the Mysterious Emmisary and Collodi providing support, so I went with the Fated limited upgrade, lots of Effigies, a couple of Stitched, and some Marionettes. This was really a trial-run/dress rehearsal, since I had never used several of these models before. I learned a lot of lessons this game, though I don’t remember exactly what happened all the way through (for reasons that will become apparent shortly.) Rather than go through it turn by turn breaking down every (in)correct decision I was making, therefore, let me put up a visual aid and walk you through the lessons I learned from this game.





Lesson 1: Don’t Drink and Malifaux.

          Ok, I know that people like to have a drink or two while they’re playing. That’s fine. What I’m saying is don’t get hammered as the game goes along if you’re interested in actually winning. Refilling my double gin and tonic at the beginning of every turn seemed like a good idea early on. It didn’t play out that way by the finish. And it definitely didn’t seem like a good decision the next day (a Wednesday) when I had to get up at 6:15 to get my kids to school and go to work. Make good choices, folks.

Lesson 2: Keep Your Crew Together

          This is probably the most “drunk-faux” thing I did in the game, but for some reason I decided to send my Mysterious Emissary, who was carrying the generic conflux to feed all my puppets + flips, off by himself to go hunt down an enemy Wokou Raider. I know why I did it (to stop Phiasco from scoring Leave Your Mark) but the whole point of this crew was overlapping buffs and to summon Changelings to copy strong attacks from the other crewmembers (Stitched, Lucky Effigy). Neither of those things were happening with him all the way out on the flank like that. On the other flank, there’s my dumb Shadow Effigy, also out where he can’t help the fighting or score points. If I had taken Leave Your Mark, of course, he could have been scoring that. But like a dummy, I thought “Well I try that every game. Why don’t I mix things up?” You do them every game because they’re reliable points, stupid. Go with what works!

Lesson 3: Puppets Aren’t That Good at Killing Stuff

          I mean, I kind of knew this one already, but for this game I wanted to just throw some things up against the wall and see what stuck. It turned out that very few of the puppets were all that sticky. The Effigies don’t do a ton of damage, so sinking 20ish points into them is not a good move, as almost half your crew is basically just there to buff Collodi and the other little minions who are also kinda puny. I had thought Lucky was a good choice for the silly damage buff he receives, and he still might be since he got popped pretty early in this one, but it wasn’t enough. On the other hand, Stitched Together are real good. Most of the damage you see on Maddox and Hans came from the two Stitched I brought along. Again, this isn’t exactly a revelation, but it was good to see what they can really do. I seem to have some fairly horrendous Gamble Your Life luck when I’ve used them, and they mostly just seem to blow themselves up. If I had been trying to complete Leave Your Mark, the Shadow Effigy would have been a fine inclusion. But I wasn’t, so there was no reason for it to be there. I hear a lot of fanfare for the Arcane, and I can see where it would be useful, but it did nothing at all in this game. So, basically, I need to build crews where I include puppets because they have a specific job that they do well, not just because they say “puppet” on them. And, also, the ME was probably again not the best choice for this crew. Sigh. Someday, Mysterious Emissary. Someday.

Lesson 4: Pick Better Schemes

          I thought that with all the activations in this crew I’d be in good shape for Marked for Death, and I thought that Parker wouldn’t be an especially tough model to at least knock down to half wounds. Neither of those things really turned out, mostly due to my opponent having me out-ranged. By the time I got close enough for melee most of my puppets had been shot to death. I needed to use Collodi and the Stitched’s Creepy Fog to better effect and shield their advance by disrupting the opponent. I was trying to keep Collodi back as a support piece, which meant that I couldn’t bring his strong attack actions to bear until turn 4, which was too late for them to make a difference. If I wanted to play a killy scheme pool, I needed to bring killy models. Illuminateds work well with C because he can toss out his focus and his effigy buffs to them, as Minions. Basically, pick a lane and stick to it. Don’t try to do all the things.

Lesson 5: Get Collodi into the Game

          The best I did in this happened after the puppet master got involved. He’s just so disruptive! Passing out slow or Obey type effects to the enemy or, worse, combining the two is so strong. That attack action is the reason you play this master. He can’t do that when he’s trailing along behind his puppets trying to play it safe and stay out of the fray. Now, obviously, if your opponent is playing Pandora or something you don’t want to be mixing it up with things that can attack your WP if you can help it, but still. Not getting him into the action was a big tactical mistake. I don’t know if it would have been enough to swing things, but it certainly would have made it closer.

Summation: Learn to Play, Newb.

          So I ended up grabbing the last point for extraction and blocking it from Phiasco again. I could have possibly made this competitive on the last few turns if I could have either started marking and killing things or knocked out Parker, but there just wasn’t enough time to recover from the way the game started. I’m relatively pleased that I at least was able to take the strat points, but I had to deny schemes somewhere if I was going to get into this thing (surprise, Adam occasionally forgets to play defense. This is not a new occurrence.) I need to get some real hitters into this list and get some of the useless puppets out of there. I was not super blown-away with the Marionettes, either, but I think their best work comes when they’re able to take hits for Collodi, which didn’t become necessary here, or pass out points of Burning from the Arcane’s (0). I’m looking at my Illuminated, obviously, but I think Ronin could be interesting as well. I’ve heard good things about incorporating Lazarus into the crew, but I’m trying to stay with things I actually own for the time being. If/when that alternate Lazarus they teased ever comes out, maybe I’ll pick it up and he can join the puppet show.

          I’ll ask Phiasco to (if he has time) come in and add his thoughts on Parker at the end of this. I think our next games with these masters will be not facing off head to head (IE I play Collodi versus him with someone else, and then we play another game where he has Parker and I play someone else) to keep the diversity up. But, in any case, we had our first rehearsal. It was ugly, but you don’t get better without practice. The show must go on! 

Friday, September 8, 2017

Through the Breach Core Rules Review

-This post is going to be long enough, so I'll give the mini-musings a miss for this one. But let me take a second to thank our Patreon sponsors, and encourage anyone out there to join in supporting our blog's efforts.

-Also, special thanks to the folks at Wyrd, particularly Kai, who helped make this review happen. 

***
  

           Since nearly the beginning of Malifaux’s time as a miniatures game, there was one recurring thread that would appear over and over on the forums: there needs to be a role-playing game set in this world. It has a rich background steeped in earth history and arcane lore. It integrates a number of genres that the fans of Malifaux and RPGs in general enjoy like Western, Gothic Horror, and Steampunk. It has a great story and vibrant, interesting characters. The only question was, how do we do that? What game system could people use to represent it? There were some Weird-West options out there at the time like Deadlands, but it was always more a matter of folding and patching the systems to make them fit rather than playing something designed whole cloth to feel like a Malifaux RPG. Then in late November 2012, Wyrd launched their Kickstarter for Through the Breach, a roleplaying game set in Malifaux based on the rules of the miniatures game. The goal was to make the games so compatible that you could port between the two freely, taking your characters to games on the tabletop or bringing any of the wargame’s rules or models into your RPG. It wanted to let you play characters that were reminiscent of the ones you used on the tabletop, be they spellcasters, melee specialists, ranged experts, or even everyday people like gamblers or workmen. It was ambitious, and like any effort to create something from whole cloth, there were bumps. Parts of the game worked well, but other parts fell short. While the general feel of Malifaux was there, the characters didn’t really feel like they had the same level of power or ability as even some Minion level Malifaux characters. At the same time, making things challenging for these characters was difficult as well, as the rules for accruing injuries and dying made actual character death a rare thing. And, like most 1st editions of games, there were rules that were clunky, awkward, or unnecessary.
After creative control passed to the current head designer, Mason Crawford, some of the philosophy began to shift and newly created character options began to reflect the lessons learned from some of those earlier bumps. The character options presented in the Arcanist book Into the Steam, the Resurrectionist book Under Quarantine, and the Gremlin book Into the Bayou were better right out of the gate, due in large part to characters gaining new abilities when they first enter a character class (called Pursuits) rather than after completing the first session with them. However, introducing newer and more effective Pursuits made some of those presented in the original Fated Almanac feel underpowered enough to be borderline unplayable. And some of that rule and skill clutter was still there, bringing down what was otherwise a strong game. It seemed like it was time to go back and create an updated version of the rule set incorporating the lessons learned from the first trial run. Thus, the project that would become Through the Breach: Core Rules began. The final product is a tighter, more characterful revised edition of the original rules which is fully compatible with all published Malifaux products to date (a rarity in today’s world of new RPG editions) that I recommend highly.

Physical Design


               One thing that is obvious straight away is that Through the Breach: Core Rules is the first hardcover sourcebook Wyrd has published (at least, to my knowledge). It features a high quality matte finished look with a glossy logo that stands out on the shelf. After a number of readings and perusals I see no sign of damage to the spine despite the book’s weighing in at a hefty 415 pages, and it comes with a trio of attached ribbon bookmarks for tagging frequently utilized sections (two of mine are permanently placed on the Skills table and the Critical Wounds charts.) The art design for the book is for the most part consistent with other Malifaux products, with a number of pieces recycled from previous offerings but with an equal number of new pieces as well. The cover art features a battle between Witch Hunters and what are likely Arcanists or Outcast spell-casters and includes something that has not previously had a large presence in Malifaux outside of the Gremlins: a sense of wry humor. Namely, one of the Witchling Stalkers has been backhanded by the Hannah-esque suit of steampowered armor one of the rogue magic users is wearing and is flying backwards, wide-eyed with its weapons trailing behind it. This feels like a bit of a departure from the grimness that the setting can sometimes convey, but it manages to not go over the top and doesn’t dominate the rest of the book’s art. The one thing present in previous Wyrd publications that I do miss is the high quality short fiction, as this book has none. This is a mixed blessing, as it means there is more room in the page count for the detailed information contained within the book, and it also means the numerous revelations regarding the background and history of Malifaux are delivered directly rather than having to be cribbed from the short stories. But still, it almost doesn’t feel like a Wyrd book without them.

Background Material


               The first section of the book contains 56 pages of information on the world of Malifaux and its history. For those that are new to the world and have maybe arrived here after looking up reviews online, Malifaux is a game set in an alternate earth history. Events progress roughly the same as in our world until the end of the 18th century, with the variation that magic is a real thing but works about as well in this alternate Earth as it does in our real one because there just isn’t much of it here. When the world’s magic users realize that the last of the magic is about to run out, they pool their efforts together and punch a hole into a parallel world, Malifaux, in search of a new source. What they discover is a place where magic flows almost tangibly through the air, where a magic user who could barely light a match on Earth can set an entire room on fire with their flame. And, best of all, they discover that the magic can be stored in stones called Soulstones that can be transported Through the Breach back to Earth, allowing magic to be used there as well. All was going well for about a decade, but suddenly the natives of Malifaux banded together, threw the humans back through the Breach they had opened between worlds, and sealed the portal behind them. The last thing to pass through the first Breach was a human body with the words “Ours” scratched into the chest, hurled through just before the Breach sealed.
               In the ensuing panic, the Earth is plunged into an early version of World War I, called the Black Powder Wars, as the great powers of the planet vied for control of the now limited resource of Soulstone. The result of this is the seizing of power by a collection of Soulstone dealers known as the Guild of Mercantilers (or Guild for short) out of the ruins of the cabal of wizards that created the Breach in the first place. This new power gains control of the world by seizing the global Soulstone trade in an iron grip. So things remain until about 100 years after the closing of the first breach when, spontaneously, the Breach reopens, allowing humans to once again travel to Malifaux. Prepared for trouble, the Guild brings a small private army with them, only to find the city once again sitting empty as was the case when the First Breach opened. Relieved, they nonetheless use the ever-present threat of Malifaux’s natives to establish a military dictatorship and monopoly controlling Soulstone mining and trade with Earth. They are opposed by rebels called the Arcanists who resist their efforts to control the study of magic. Meanwhile, the humans who have travelled through the Breach to try and make their living in Malifaux are constantly menaced by necromancers called Resurrectionists and the various natives of Malifaux, including the Bayou pests known as Gremlins and the nightmarish Neverborn who twist the human’s fears against them. And in the shadows of it all, a Far-Eastern crime syndicate known as the Ten Thunders slowly spreads their influence through all the other factions, quietly stealing power and wealth for themselves.
               The background section next discusses the city of Malifaux itself, former capital of the Neverborn which is now occupied by the human forces. It goes into a great deal of detail regarding each of the districts of the city, including the well-developed Downtown district where the Guild keeps their headquarters, the Slums where most of the city’s people try to eke out a living, and the Quarantine Zones walled off by the Guild that serve as sanctuaries for The Guild’s enemies. This section is dripping with potential campaign or adventure hooks. It then goes on to describe some portions of the world outside of the main city in slightly more general terms, as much of this material is described in greater detail within the other Through the Breach sourcebooks. Finally, the background chapter finishes up by offering information about the seven factions operating within Malifaux, including some new revelations regarding the early history of the Miners and Steamfitters Union that the Arcanists use as their front, the methods by which the Ten Thunders rose from humble street gang to become one of the most powerful factions in Malifaux, and some information regarding the true form of Lillith, leader of the Neverborn vampiric-creatures known as the Nephilim.

Character Options


               The next six chapters detail the numerous character options offered in the book. As with the 1st edition Fated Almanac, the only character race available is humans. Options for playing undead, gremlin, or partially cybernetic characters are presented in the other sourcebooks. Presumably, players who want to play as Neverborn will be able to do so once the appropriate book is published at some point in the future. This section begins by detailing the very unique method of character generation used by Through the Breach: performing a Tarot reading that simultaneously provides you with information on your character’s background, skills, and attributes as well as spelling out a Destiny for your character to embrace or resist over the course of the campaign. This Destiny serves both as a source of plot hooks for your gamemaster (called a Fatemaster in TTB) to use, as well as a means of character advancement, as the most potent increases in abilities for your character will come when they face part of their destiny. Once all your players have completed their destinies (presumably in one big-blow out final adventure) players are recommended to wrap up that campaign and start a new one with new characters. One consequence of this is that Through the Breach campaigns are, by their nature, more linear and limited than what some players may expect from other RPGs they’ve played. While not impossible, a sandbox style game where a Fatemaster simply drops his players into the world of Malifaux and turns them loose to see what happens is more challenging than one with clear adventure hooks, follow-up, and resolutions. I like to think of my TTB campaigns as being episodic, very much like a western like Gunsmoke or Bonanza with a cold-open prologue that gives the players an idea of what’s coming for them in that game session, the meat of the adventure itself, and an epilogue that wraps up some of the action and possibly sets up the next episode.

Next, the book details the various Pursuits which Fated characters can follow over the course of their adventures. The fourteen basic pursuits available in the Core Rules cover a number of roles in the world, ranging from Dabblers who craft magical energy to produce powerful spells, Tinkerers who animate robotic constructs to serve them, Gunfighters, Mercenaries, Gamblers, Performers, and even every-day laborers like Drudges and Pioneers. One of Through the Breach’s most unique rules compared to other RPGs is the ability to choose which pursuit your character will be on at the beginning of each game session based on information presented in the game’s Prologue. To help encourage switching, each Pursuit includes a Rank 0 talent which Fated characters receive when initially embarking on a Pursuit, allowing even new characters to have a taste of the flavor inherent in each. Additionally, the book contains five Advanced Pursuits: the Death Marshal, Freikorpsmann, Grave Servant, Steamfitter, and Torakage, giving your character the ability to become a member of some of the iconic organizations in the world of Malifaux.
Next, the book details the skills your character will use during their adventures. Almost everything you do in the game involves flipping a card from the Fate deck and adding your ranks in a skill and a relevant attribute (the equivalent of Ability Scores from other RPGs) to overcome the various challenges and obstacles put in their path by the Fatemaster. The list of available skills is the same as in the previous edition of Through the Breach with some trimming to remove and consolidate some of the redundant skills together (a sidebar includes information on which skills should sub for some of those that were deleted out.) One addition to the Core Rules is the inclusion of skill triggers, bonuses you can use for skills with which your character is particularly adept based on the suit of the card you flip from the Fate Deck (explained in more detail later.) Every character who gains three ranks in a skill becomes eligible to add a trigger, and each skill has an example trigger listed in the book for each of the four suits.

His skill trigger is: Come at me, bro!
 Following the skills, the next chapter details Talents, abilities that further help to flesh out and define your character. One of my favorite parts of the original Through the Breach was the inclusion of a number of talents that require you to have a poor score in one of the game’s core attributes, representing means your character has developed over the course of their life to get around some of their deficiencies. Next, the equipment chapter contains a much more concise list of the various weapons, armor, prosthetic replacements, and gear available to Through the Breach characters in the Core Rules. While I appreciated the numerous historically accurate options for, in particular, the guns in the first edition of TTB, trimming the lists down makes it a lot more useable and removes a great deal of redundancy. If someone has a particular antique weapon they’d like to see represented, they can always just reskin one of the guns presented in the book and say it’s the one they prefer. I think it was a great change.

"I cast Magic Missile at the Darkness"-A thing that can actually happen in a TTB game.

               Finally, the Magic chapter describes how Fated characters are able to manipulate the magical energies available within Malifaux itself. Magic use in TTB is not limited to characters from one of the magic using pursuits (though they have the easiest time getting into it.) Each character who uses magic must acquire a magical theory detailing their means of accessing these energies. Some of these are familiar to players of the Malifaux miniatures game, including the Oxford Method used by some Arcanists, the Whisper that teaches necromancers to raise the dead, and the Thalarian Doctrine used by the Guild to suppress other forms of sorcery. Others are unique to Through the Breach (at least as far as I’m aware.) The Lifewell Doctrine is a theory that enhances a character’s ability to use restorative magic at the cost of their ability to use magic to do damage. The Darlin theories (named, presumably, with a tongue-in-cheek reference to Aaron Darland, head designer of Malifaux) focuses on animation of mechanical constructs. The Balanced Five is focused on the balance created by the five elements in Malifaux (Air, Earth, Fire, Metal, and Water) and creates magical effects by throwing this balance out of whack. Additionally, magic use for the Core Rules characters involves the acquisition and utilization of Grimoires, which can range from your traditional spellbooks to the writings of madmen on sanitarium walls to a special magical shovel that whispers the secrets of the spells to its wielder. Spells themselves are crafted by the players by combining Magia, the base spell effects, with Immuto, modifiers to the spells that allow for the alteration and manipulation of the magical effects to increase their range, change the types of creatures they can target, cast them faster, etc. etc. etc. Each Grimoire contains a selection of Magia and Immuto with which the Fated character can craft unique spell effects on the fly during the game, at the cost of making them more difficult to cast for each positive modifier they tack on. Finally, the magic chapter discusses Soulstones, the reason humans are in Malifaux in the first place. The rules for these are very much trimmed down from their previous iteration. Soulstones are given a Lade based on their size and clarity which affects their monetary value, but ultimately the only effect this has in game is to increase the range at which they can be recharged by someone’s death. Otherwise, each stone carries one charge which can be used for specific functions: augmenting the casting of a spell or manifested power, animating magical constructs for a number of weeks equal to the lade of the stone, or healing the bearer. It’s a vast simplification, and Tinkerers and Graverobbers in particular will miss being able to use stones that would recharge faster than their creatures would consume them in order to keep their creations alive into perpetuity, but I suppose sometimes sacrifices must be made for the sake of clarity and ease of use.

Game Rules


               The Core Rules contains all the information one needs to run a game of Malifaux, combining all of the material that previously would have been found within the Fated and Fatemaster’s Almanacs. As previously stated, the rules for Through the Breach are based very closely on the Malifaux miniatures game. All interactions are resolved by flipping cards from a central deck of cards, the Fate Deck. The number flipped on the card plus a modifier from the character is compared to a target number set by the game’s Fatemaster to determine success or failure. If a situation delivers particularly positive or negative circumstances for the action, players receive + or – modifiers and flip additional cards to reflect this. And, much like the miniatures game, players are not stuck with the result of the card flip. After generating their characters, players build a 13 card Twist Deck that they can use to replace cards flipped from the Fate Deck, allowing them to Cheat Fate and seize control of their own destiny. Since everything is done with static target numbers, the FM never actually flips any cards, as resisting attacks or effects delivered by non-player characters (or Fatemaster Characters) is done instead by the players (Fated) flipping a card and adding their relevant defense versus a static number. This can lead to a few head scratchers early on when odd interactions occur (for instance, remembering that FM characters receiving a + modifier to their attack actually results in the Fated character receiving a – to their defense flip) but, from experience, it usually takes about one game session for everyone to learn the ins and outs and get a feel for the mechanics. After that, everyone plays like a pro.
The suits on the cards are used for triggers as previously mentioned or, in the case of spellcasting, are usually a required part of the Target Number for casting a spell. In the updated Core Rules, effort was made to tie each of the schools of magic (Sorcery, Prestidigitation, Illusion, and Necromancy) to one of the four suits and keep that consistent throughout, while at the same time reducing the number of effects which allow Fated to build a suit into their relevant skill and negate this cost early in their careers. So, no skill mastery as your first general talent to let you ignore the suits required for your spells, an overall positive change. This change leads me to recommend that most groups bring an Overseer, as its ability to discard Twist cards and add their suits to their party members’ Challenge flips can be huge early on. The Red and Black Jokers in the deck represent incredibly good or bad twists of fate, as per usual. The Red counts as a 14 with any suit, while the Black counts as a 0. If you flip the Red Joker out you may always use it, even if you have a negative modifier to your flip. If you flip out the Black, you have to use it even if you have a positive modifier. And, of course, if you flip both you have to use the Black, because this is Malifaux and Bad Things HappenTM.
               Damage also works the way it does on the tabletop. Characters’ attacks have 3 damage values, Weak, Moderate, and Severe, corresponding with the three ranges of cards (1-5 for weak, 6-10 for moderate, 11+ for severe.) After you make a successful attack flip you receive a modifier based on the amount by which you beat the opponents’ defense, flip cards, and the relevant fate card leads you to deal the damage. The Red Joker deals severe damage as well as an immediate critical effect (more on these in a moment) while the Black, as per usual, deals 0 damage (other than the crushing of your soul, of course.) Characters have a number of wounds that represents their ability to take and/or shrug off damage. Once they drop to 0 wounds, any additional damage they take results in an immediate Unconsciousness Challenge to avoid passing out and a flip on the Critical Effects table. Depending on the severity of the injury, these can result in as light of an effect as the character being rattled and incurring a minor reduction to any actions they take next time or as harsh as losing a limb or, eventually, their life. Any time you take damage past this point results in another flip on the Critical Effects table until, eventually, the character expires. Facilitating this, the tables themselves have been revised, compressing them and removing a number of the less impactful critical effects to make them really hurt when you suffer one. Since characters usually don’t have a ton of wounds to lose before these critical effects start happening, the end result is that combats in Through the Breach are quick, brutal, and vicious. It can still seem, at times, like some combat-oriented characters are nearly unkillable, particularly later in their careers. But then you run into the wrong group of opponents that match up poorly with their defenses, or you fight a lot of opponents with Black Blood or another passively damaging ability, or you just flip badly, and you find out how quickly things can go wrong in Malifaux.
               One of the things I like best about this game system is the use of Ongoing Skill Challenges. Most Challenges require only a single skill flip to resolve. However, larger activities like searching a library for a lost tome, crossing a desert, or presenting a case in a court room require a bit more of an extended effort. In these cases, you use an Ongoing challenge to represent this, introducing a list of skills that apply and giving a static target number to hit along with a number of successes required before a certain number of failures. If you succeed, the challenge is overcome and the Fated meet their goals. If they fail catastrophically, typically a consequence is introduced that they will need to overcome before the adventure can continue. This basic framework can serve in and of itself, but I find the best Ongoing Challenges involve modifications that crop up as the Fated go along. One of the most memorable Ongoing Challenges came from the first chapter of the Nythera event where the Fated get caught in the middle of a firefight between two Masters in Malifaux’s streets while trying to fetch the head of Phillip Tombers. After every round of action, a new complication would creep up (fireballs raining down from the sky on them, someone summoning ghostly spirits in their path, etc.) that would have to be overcome or taken advantage of before the Ongoing Challenge could progress. Between this and the combat rules, the game offers a variety of challenges for the Fated to overcome on the path of their destiny.


Bestiary and Sample Adventure

Two opponents from the Bestiary. Oh, you don't have the core rules? Then you don't get to find out who they are! Ha ha!

                The final section includes the last of the tools required for the game, a Bestiary. Trying to cram a comprehensive bestiary for the world of Malifaux into 87 pages would be next to impossible, but the creatures provided do an admirable job of presenting a cross-section of the flora and fauna of that Fated characters will face, and if a particular critter from the tabletop game isn't in here yet, you can usually just use their stat card from the mini to at least pass as a Through the Breach creature. Representative creatures are presented for each of the seven factions so no matter what antagonist your campaign is built around, you can always find something to use for it. Additionally, the system of assigning models to their stations in life (peon, minion, enforcer, henchman, master, and tyrant) allows for built-in scalability of the bestiary contents. Have a game involving rogue spellcasters and enjoy Witchling Stalkers as enemies but not sure if they’ll be a challenge for your higher level players? Just increase them to Enforcers or higher and adjust their station accordingly. As Fatemaster Characters’ stations increase, so does the card they’re assumed to flip for every action, so all the things these new elite Witchlings do will scale up along with them. Additionally, to counter the disadvantage at which FM characters are placed due to not flipping cards or having a Twist Deck to cheat with, FM characters receive a certain number of Fate Points based on their station to spend to either give themselves a + modifier to a challenge, add in a suit of their choosing, or heal some damage, making fighting a Master or higher level opponent a truly intimidating proposition. Speaking of which, the final entry in the Bestiary is a master level character, Leopold Von Schill, leader of the Freikorps and general all-around badass. Included mostly, I think, to give a ball-park range for what Fatemasters should shoot for in the capabilities of other masters (though it’s not like an adventure where the Freikorps have a contract to take out one of your characters would be boring) it’s still nice to see the old man in action. And if you're thinking "But, I have Von Schill's stat card. Why would I need a new one?" Well, Mr. Smartypants...this Von Schill has a rifle. So there! But seriously, some of the mini game abilities don't translate well to the RPG every time, so it's usually worth the effort to redesign them slightly to iron out those wrinkles.

               After the Bestiary, the Core Rules contains a very short adventure meant to serve as an introduction to a game of Through the Breach. Fittingly, it features your characters doing just that: boarding the Iron Ram and travelling from Breachtown (built in what was Santa Fe until the first breach opened and destroyed it) to Malifaux. Of course this is a role-playing game so the Bad Things from the title of the adventure end up happening, and the Fated end up having to step in and save the train from getting stuck in the ether between the two worlds. As I said, it’s very short, and it features a skill challenge that, if failed, ends the adventure (and the career of your newly minted Fated characters) which is a personal pet peeve, but otherwise it’s a good introduction to the game and to the world of Malifaux itself.

Final Thoughts


               Through the Breach isn't always going to fit with every gaming group. I know of at least one local group in particular that likes the campaign world but chafes at how it lends itself to linear versus sandbox storytelling due to the idea of your characters’ destinies being spelled out at the beginning of the game (for clarity, you get a vague idea of the important events in your characters’ careers with the Tarot, but nothing says you have to go along with what Fate has in store for you when the time comes.) Some may find the system of flipping and adding in a skill and an attribute while remembering various Talents and building spells from Grimoires to be too complicated. Paradoxically, others may find the game to be too rules light, preferring a more tactically oriented system. What Through the Breach does have, however, is tons of character. Malifaux is a fantastic world in which to run a campaign, as I’ve previously effused. The diversity of the character options presented in the Core Rules makes it possible to build any character a player might want, honestly. The “heroes” are larger than life and characterful, and the “villains” are grotesque, stylish, and terrifying. It ranges through a number of different genres from steampunk to gothic horror to the Wild West, so it shouldn’t be tough to find something to pique your players’ interests. And the bottom line is, when you play Through the Breach it feels like you’re playing a Malifaux RPG. You’re flipping cards. The jokers and the suits are all there just like you expect. You’re cheating fate and trying to embrace or outrun your character’s destiny. I recommend it highly. The changes to the Core Rules are nothing but improvements, and my hat is off to the game designers for making the choice to keep everything backwards compatible so as not to invalidate previous Through the Breach publications. If you like Malifaux and you want to try an RPG set in the world, you enjoy episodic style storytelling, or you want to find a new RPG that plays differently than anything you've previously tried, I think this is the best way to do it. Some come join us Through the Breach!

Friday, September 1, 2017

5 Crews I Want to Play in the Broken Promises Era!

I’m in the middle of the Through the Breach review at the moment. Had hoped to have it done by today, but it will definitely be ready for next week’s post. So, since Broken Promises is available now, I thought I’d take a moment to recap and mention some of the things I’m looking forward to getting onto the tabletop myself. But first, a couple of mini-muses.

 Mini-Musings

-Gencon finished up a couple of weekends ago, and orders from the webstore are being processed/delivered. So far there’s only been one error, which is refreshing given some of the early releases at Gencon previously. The Cyborg upgrades from Hoffman are Rare 3, but the upgrade deck only has 1 of them. To make up for this, you can print the card for free from here.

-Derek Chu won the Gencon Tyrants tournament, playing Ten Thunders Mei Feng. Congratulations to him!

-Ostensibly the US National Championship for Malifaux, the NOVA Open, is occurring now. It’s the last major tournament pre-Book 5. So enjoy Plague-Pit-and-Flying-Viktorias-free tournament games now, while it lasts. Everybody be sure to say hi to Phiasco if you meet him there! 




-Finally, Wyrd Chronicles came out this week. It includes a number of cool articles, including a Through the Breach module written by your humble bloggist and featuring the cuddly-creature pictured above.

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               Since it’s September 1st, this is our first month on Patreon. I’m thankful to the Patrons who’ve signed on already, and I want to remind you to sign up by theend of the month to get in on our raffle. This month’s prize is the alternate Teddy model Miss Ery! You don’t need to give me $10 or even $5 to get in the drawing. Just one dollar gets you into the action! But, if you feel like giving me more, there are rewards like access to future Malifaux writings and a slot in upcoming Malifaux Musings Vassal Leagues!

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Top 5 Masters I’m Looking Forward to Playing from Broken Promises


1. Titania

I have to start here, contractually, as I’ve been a big Titania fanboy since Wave 4 playtesting. Also, I’m not allowed to say that she needed help, or she’ll tear my heart out and turn me into one of her Autumn Knights.

Titania: It’s adorable you think so, slave. Perhaps, if you’re lucky, you MIGHT be good enough to become a Gorar. MAYBE.

               Sigh, yes my queen.

               Anyways, the Autumn Queen got lit in this wave of upgrades. She has two fairly strong playstyles now, a smashy style with Pact with the Grave Spirit and a tanky version with Royal Indignation, and more importantly she has tools to possibly be successful while doing both. I think the tanky one will be the most obvious starting point, as it’s the way we’ve been playing here up until now and she essentially just became tough enough to survive it. The smashy one will be a change of gears for her, and it may be a case of “Why would you take Outcast Misaki when you could take the Viktorias?” where there are other, smashier, more efficient crews in the Neverborn, but it could be fun to have in the back pocket to surprise opponents. She’ll likely be strongest in games where you can force the action into one place (Guard the Stash, Turf War, etc.), especially if you’re bringing her best pal Barbaros for that sweet dual-taunt goodness. Additionally, she has one of the few confluxes for the Mysterious Emissary to make him really a strong part of her crew. Time will tell if this upgrade makes it a must-include for Titania crews, but it definitely makes them stronger by enhancing the rest of her crew. And I’m almost as much of a fanboy for my Poison Ivy Mysterious Emissary as I am for Titania. And, also, I made Hungering Land markers with Piranha Plants on them. And I gotta play that shit.


2. Hoffman

               Once upon a time, I built Hoffman for the Tale of Malifaux Bloggers. The paint job I did for those is one of my favorite of any I’ve done so far, including a number of rust and corrosion effects on the metal that I’d never used before. Also, Hoffman is one of the most interesting characters in Malifaux proper, being a person who is honestly trying to be good while working for the Guild but, in truth, is falling steadily deeper into hypocrisy as he goes along. He’s allowed his brother Ryle to be turned into the thing he’s supposed to be policing as head of the Amalgamations division. He has ties to the Arcanists that won’t stay buried. And now he’s been basically promoted over Lucius by the new Governor-General (it should be noted I haven’t read the fluff from Broken Promises yet, so if things have changed don’t spoil it for me.) His new upgrades seem to indicate that he’s leaning into it at this point and converting people into Cyborgs. This opens up some definitely interesting crewbuilding options. I don’t know that you’ll want to use his Arcanist upgrades and Pneumatic Upgrades together in the same crew (that’s a lot of points spent before you’ve even hired any models.) But one or the other will probably be a sort of pseudo-limited upgrade for him. Meanwhile, his new harness and its defense of his crew’s Armor makes his Hoffball nearly indestructible. You want to go through a Peacekeeper when you can’t negate his armor? Good luck.


3. Seamus

               Most masters in Malifaux have some elements of good and evil to them. The Guild are law and order, but they’re also oppressive jerks. The Neverborn are horrifying monsters, but they also happen to be right and are doing all they can to keep these dumb humans from releasing the Tyrants. Even some of the Rezzers have started to have shades of light, particularly Molly and Reva. But then there’s Seamus. Seamus is a villain. Period. He kills people, particularly women, and brings them back to undeath as his slaves. He does it because it’s fun, and because he’s an anarchist, and because the voices in his head told him to do it. He’s what you would get if you crossed the Heath Ledger Joker with a Victorian Hannibal Lecter, and he does it all with a sense of style. He’s Malifaux’s boogeyman, and that is fun to play. His AKA Sebastian Baker upgrade is nice and all, and it opens him up to a handful of new hiring opportunities (though not as many as you’re thinking, and not enough that I think it’ll be required for the strongest of his crews.) But the one I’m really drooling over is his new Do You Know Who I Am? I already preferred the Sinister Reputation version of Seamus before Wave 5, and this makes it even stronger. It lets him take advantage of Terror the way McMourning manipulates Poison, taking a mild hindrance ability and turning it into a major problem for opponents. I want to play a Terrifying: All Seamus-Yin-Sybelle crew, maybe with a Hanged to just really break your opponent’s will to live. And then, of course, you shoot them with your Flintlock. And possibly cackle.


4. Misaki

               I wrote a post a long time ago (near the beginning of this blog, actually) about theMisaki switch, pointing out that she had two very distinct playstyles to choose from. The Terracotta warrior allowed you to start with one and then shift to the other mid-game, which lets you go from defense to full-out offense as required. With Broken Promises, she gains a third upgrade that allows her to add a third mode, AoE blaster. Wow. I mean, if you’re looking for a master for a fixed-list tournament, I think she would have to be one of the best choices you could make, as you can literally go from defensive to single-target beater to AoE crowdcontroller in the same game. Man, that’s strong. AND THAT’S NOT THE BEST UPGRADE SHE GOT. Risk and Reward lets you have the benefits of soulstones for hand manipulation while keeping her perpetually in range for her 0 soulstone buffs. I don’t go to enough tournaments to say whether this makes her a top-tier master now, but I would have to think she moves up exponentially. Once I get my Throwback Misaki painted (not that I don’t have the normal one, but I have to do something to keep from just switching to Misaki straight off) you can bet I’ll be rejoining Phiasco in service to the Katanaka clan.


5. McMourning

               If you don’t know me in my real-life, I work in Science. Specifically I’m a Virologist, which you would think would point me towards playing Hamelin. On the other hand, I’m not a terrible person, so I can’t play that crew *waits for hate mail.* So if I’m going to play myself in Malifaux, Doctor Doug is probably the closest thing (plus I have a dog that most assuredly inflicts Poison on the people around him.) And, in a way, McMourning is a great choice for my chronic Magpie syndrome, because now he can build a crew containing models from every faction. You got beasts? You got academics? Come on down into the lab, and let’s see what we can do for you. (Author’s Note: Yes, you could build a rainbow crew before with mercenaries. And Marcus could probably do it before now also. I don’t care.) Beyond that, McMourning probably has some of the best fluff in the game. He’s the comedy version of Seamus’ full out horror. He and Sebastian are a classical comedy duo that you actually want to have on the board together. They gain access to the Scorpius, who becomes legitimately decent in this crew now. There’s poison all over the place in Malifaux. If you’re playing Guild McMourning and hire Kudra and give her Debt to the Guild, she can become an actually fairly scary melee beater on top of throwing out tons of Poison. There’s a lot of good stuff here, is what I’m saying. And, you know, McMourning was already pretty good. So time to borrow some scrubs and scalpels from work for cosplay, I’m thinking.


               Well, that’s the crews I’m looking forward to trying (on top of building Collodi. I haven't forgotten. Don't worry.) Who are you wanting to try out? Let me know in the comments! 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Broken Promises Upgrades Review: Guild


Home stretch, Musers. One faction to go. Before we jump in, though, one last word about our Patreon account. Inspired by Kyle AKA Kyodee (I mouth it to myself everytime he says it on Schemes and Stones) I decided to add a monthly drawing for models from my patreons, which will start next month. Next month's model is a Miss Ery, an alternate Teddy model from a previous Gencon. Only people who've signed up for our Patreon by September 30th are eligible for this drawing. So, if you want a cute, adorable li'l Teddy Bear of horrible murder, and you've got a dollar to help support our blog, we'd love to have it.



Lady Justice

               The symbol of the Guild in many ways, it’s been a shame that she hasn’t seen a ton of table time for most players. To address this, Lady J’s upgrade Swordfighter was the first one to be released in the original preview ads for the book in Wyrd Chronicles, and it’s easy to see why. Her (2) Acrobatic Assault Tactical Action changes her from being a balls out offensive model to one that can act tactically and function for area denial. It allows her to place within 4” and then take a (1) Ml attack, then place 4” away from that. If she damages an enemy with the attack, she gains a condition called Counterstance which grants a + to Df flips and adds a mask to her defense. Translation: do not attack Lady Justice in melee. Adding to her offensive capabilities, Justice at the End of a Blade lets her pick an enemy Enforcer, Henchman, or Master and gain + to all flips against that model until the end of the turn. There’s some versatility there, as you can use it to add to her ability to take that model down or, if you’re expecting a countercharge, name the offensive model and add to her defense. Most Lady Justice crews run her pretty upgrade light anyways, so there’s no reason NOT to take this.
               Ashwood Coffin lets her join the rest of her Guild Marshals in crafting her casket beforehand and using it to throw the Guild’s enemies into a pocket dimension. Her coffin action has a Ca of 7, but otherwise works pretty much the same as the Death Marshals. I can see I being useful to keep in her pocket for when she runs herself into a situation where she charges multiple models and kills one but can’t take down the others, or to deal with High Df Low Wp opponents. Additionally, she gains an attack called Punishment that lets her strike buried models. It’s Ca 7 vs. Df and 3/4/5, so it’ll put some hurt on in the situations where you get to use it. It would have probably seen more anti-Arcanist play if Practiced Production-Malifaux Raptors hadn’t gotten a nerf, but could still be useful against Leviticus I suppose. I don’t think boxing someone and then attacking them (which is thematically the point of the attack, I suppose) is very efficient. I think this upgrade will be seen a lot less frequently than Swordfighter, but could still be useful.


Sonnia

               Sonnia has had a rough last few years in Malifaux. First she gets possessed by a Tyrant. Then her best friend locks her inside an iron mask. And then the Tyrant leaves her to go become the burning man, severely burning her in the process. I think she can be forgiven for being a little cranky (although I think most of the Witchling Stalkers might not have much sympathy for her.) Maybe that’s why she’s got an upgrade to make her better at melee: she needs to work out some frustration. No More Mask lets her use Ml for her Forbidden Lore ability and, if she does, adds a Blast to her moderate and severe damage. Additionally, any model that she damages in melee gains Burning and gets pushed away from her. I don’t think she’s going toe to toe with the Viktorias anytime soon, but I’ve been surprised more than once when I’ve tried to engage Sonnia in melee with a little scheme runner or something and gotten my butt handed to me. She’s already decent, it’s just that the ranged attacks are so much better. I still think this upgrade is mostly just there to discourage you from trying to engage her, but it’s interesting that it gives her some more options.
               Cherufe’s Parting Gift gives the Purifying Flame the Witch Hunter characteristic and allows her to summon it out of any enemy models that die with Burning on them (as long as you don’t summon anything else.) Free model summoning is a good thing, but nobody used the Purifying Flame before this. Partially this is because the model hasn’t historically been seen as all that effective, and partially because the Malifaux Child can copy her Flame Walls. You have to sacrifice any other totems you have in play if you bring out the Purifying Flame, so that’s not a great combination with this upgrade. Follow the Flame is maybe a little more interesting, as it lets Witch Hunters within 12” and LoS of each other activate after each other as Chain Activations. My first thought is, maybe, a Witchling Handler putting her burning buff on a Thrall and then sending it in to smash and…burn things? No, probably just “Model A sets Model B on fire, then Sonnia Chain activates and blows up model B.” I don’t know, I’m not sold.


Perdita

               My first love in Malifaux, the gunslinger has always had a reputation as being a strong option as a starter master. Wyrd seems to have leaned into this with Fastest Draw in Malifaux. It gives her +2 to initiative flips and lets her draw a card if she loses anyways. Simple. Straightforward. Effective. Especially given her crew’s propensity for wanting to chain a couple of strong activations together and seize the advantage, it’s a good upgrade for her. Not much else to say.
               Shooting Cans gives her a little bit of scheme marker removal. She gains a Tactical Action to remove target Scheme Marker with a TN equal to 5 plus the number of inches from Perdita to the marker. Additionally, with a tome she can take the action again, as long as the next target is further away than the one she just removed. Again, not too complicated (other than the math, I guess) but it’s alright. I imagine you’ll try to find space for it in pools with lots of marker placement. And, of course Perdita finds a way to solve the problem of enemy scheme markers by shooting them.


Hoffman

               Hoffman’s needed a little love for a while too, and I’m glad to see him get it. I find him to be one of the most interesting characters in Malifaux, and frankly who doesn’t like a crew with big stompy robots? Improved Harness is the upgrade you’re going to see in every game. Increasing his armor by a point and giving him a (0) action for a pseudo-leap are decent additions, but the real strength is Adaptive Armor. One of his crews’ great weaknesses is models that ignore Armor. Generally models with Armor don’t have great defense, so if you can get around it (see also: the Viktorias) Hoff’s crews go down in flames. This upgrade prevents any models within 6” of Hoff from ignoring armor. That’s going to make the Hoff ball pretty tough to crack.
               Pneumatic Upgrades is something very different, but still pretty interesting. Apparently the head of the Amalgamations Office is going full-on with his hypocrisy, as he’s going to start “upgrading” other living models to become cyborgs like his brother Ryle. Again there’s an ability we probably don’t care much about, Power Conductors, that lets him cancel Power Loop on any number of friendly models in play to increase the range of one of his Ca’s by 2” per ended loop. Don’t really see this getting a ton of mileage. The interesting part is We Have the Technology, a (1) action to attach a Cyborg upgrade to a non-construct Guild model within range. Cyborg gives them a limited ability to participate in the Power Loop (they can only use one stat a turn, but there’s no limit on other constructs using THEIR stats.) More importantly, it gives the Cyborg a (0) to attach one of Hoffman’s Modifications to itself. This is deceptively useful, as one of Hoff’s problems is his just not having enough AP to do everything he needs to in a turn. If he had been the one required to attach the Mods, this would be just kind of a side-grade. But, their being able to do it themselves frees him up to do other things. Obviously there’s a lot of interesting options for who to make into a Cyborg (there’s a Rare 3 limit on the upgrade, so you can only do so many.) Francisco comes immediately to mind, if only to let him share his Ml 7 to the other power looped models. Personally, I’m kind of interested in making a Robo-cutioner who can attach the Nimble upgrade to himself. That plus his 0 stone upgrade could make Fat Wolverine pretty darned speedy.


Lucius

               The Secretary-General may be on the outs with the new GJ, but he’s not going down without a fight. His big buffs from the 2017 erratas started the process, and Deep Pockets is some nice Icing on that cake. Essentially he gets a better version of Arcane Reservoir. His hand size is one bigger, and he can discard a card at the beginning of his turn to draw one. And if that’s not enough, you can reveal the card you drew and compare it to the one you discarded. If its value is lower, you can pitch it as well and draw again. Hand manipulation is nice. There’s a reason I play Lynch as much as I do. I’ve always felt kind of bad that my two main factions are Guild and Neverborn but, for whatever reason (read: he used to be bad) I didn’t have Lucius crew. I should probably rectify that at some point…
               The other upgrade, Condescending, I’m less crazy about. The Perks of Power lets you remove an enemy scheme marker at the start of Lucius’ activation as long as he’s ahead on VPs. Seems like a “Win-More” ability to me, which isn’t great. He can add a soulstone to his pool if he kills a friendly minion with Devil’s Deal which, I’m led to understand, doesn’t happen very often. And finally he can perform a Ca 6 v. Wp to block a target model from cheating fate. I mean, Tannen is a mimic, and he already sort of does this in an aura versus just one target. Not as crazy about this one. Lucius will just have to settle for having some of the best card manipulation in the game.


Nellie

               Much like with Sandeep, Nellie’s already really good and, frankly, probably is on top of the faction as far as tournament play is concerned. Thus, I didn’t expect a ton from her upgrades. Editor in Chief offers an interesting option, however. Headline: Guild Destined for Victory is another “Win-More” ability, but letting everybody heal a point and gain a + to WP is also kinda situational. On the other hand, she gains the (0) action Frantic Editing to discard a soulstone and change one of her unrevealed schemes for a different one in the pool. That could have some interesting uses, though I suppose an argument could be made that the best tactical players would expect to have selected the right schemes from the beginning. 2 stones for an upgrade where you MIGHT only need one of the abilities (and then, only if you’ve screwed up) is maybe not the best use of stones in the world.
               Alternate Facts would be a fun upgrade name, if it didn’t hit too close to home. It gives her a passive ability to gain a point of evidence everytime someone discards an upgrade within 8” of her. She gains a trigger on Propaganda to apply the Fees condition to an enemy, so maybe she can play nice with the Jury if she has that upgrade, as the Fees condition has previously been underwhelming.) And, finally, she can spend a (0) to draw cards equal to the value of her Evidence condition. It’d be great if it ended there, but it then makes you end the Evidence condition. That makes it tougher, as you may need the Evidence to fuel some of her abilities, but if you have a few extra points of Evidence you could get some good mileage out of this. Kind of a weird mixed bag of an upgrade, really. Like I said, Nellie’s fine without any help.
               Oh yeah, her Conflux. She has one of those. It’s kind of funny how the Emissaries all ended up being either amazing or meh, isn’t it? Like, there’s no Emissaries that are just good. Anyways, the Brutal doesn’t see a ton of play as it stands. Nellie’s Conflux gives him a mask trigger on its Rule of Law attack to send her some Evidence. Additionally, he gains a (0) to put a condition on an enemy model that lets Nellie draw three cards at the start of its activation. The model can choose to take up to three damage and reduce the cards she draws by the same amount. That’s pretty nasty, but you always have to realize that, since the choice is theirs, they will always give you the option that gives you the least benefit. I don’t like giving that power to my opponent. Still, not bad for a (0), but I imagine Nellie’s got better stuff to spend her Stones on, especially with all the new toys from Book 5.


Phew. We did it, folks. That’s all the upgrades from Book 5. We’ll be going back to the regular once per week schedule after this. Tune in next time for an in-depth review of the Through the Breach: Core Rules book. 

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Gaining Grounds 2018 open Beta : Schemes Last edit 8/26

This blog will cover the evolution of the scheme portion of Gaining Grounds 2018.

Jumping right in...

The Always and doubles schemes appear unchanged from 2017.  Currently Claim Jump and Eliminate the Leadership respectively.

All four suited schemes are currently new and all four can be accomplished even if the enemy crew is immune to conditions.  If this holds and your event is run in a 50 SS standard format then you ought to have bare minimum 3 schemes your opponent can't deny with crew selection.  Furthermore there are currently 0 schemes that hand an enemy a condition. I don't know if I expect that to remain until the end of beta but I would happily take the compromise of not having the hand out condition schemes suited.  But I do like the strategy where you interact to acquire a condition and that gets neatly around condition immunity.  Or Wyrd can extend the can't be immune to scheme conditions as well.  But I suppose that is what beta is for.

- Smuggled Across (masks); Once per game your crew can reveal this scheme to score a number of VP equal to the number of minions on the enemy half of the table and not within 6" of the center.

Initial reaction;  First I'm not entirely certain they didn't mean centerline because on flank deployment this is probably scored 3-3 at the end of turn 1.  Gremlins will, more likely than not, auto score this after turn one if there is a pigapult present.  In the current iteration most summoners can also probably be up 3 at the end of turn 1.  I predict there will probably be a change to this scheme in its current form.

- Charge Soulstone (crows); Kill an enemy model within 6" of a master or a henchman and then discard a Soulstone to score 1 VP. 

Initial reaction; Most crews I run that don't summon can get by on 3-4 SS.  With that said odds are if you run a summoner and think you can kill 3 models in 1 activation you might catch someone by surprise since very few would expect a summoner to use SS in a non summoning function.  This scheme will certainly foil the (current)mask scheme to some extent if you want to expose your minions in that fashion.  I find this scheme interesting and I hope it makes it in some form.

- Buried Treasure (tomes); At the end of the game score 1 VP for each scheme marker that is both more than 6" from your deployment zone and more than 6" from all non leader models.

Initial reaction; This is 3 VP on corner deployment.  Outside of that gut reaction this will be relatively simple for the masters and their crews which drop schemes everywhere as a byproduct of what they are already doing.  Sensei Yu in most cases will get 3 easy VP as well. Ranged scheme removal and solid models that tank well will help defend this.

- Collect Evidence (rams); use interact to remove enemy scheme markers to reveal scheme and score a VP.  If revealed you also score 1 VP at the end of the turn if there are 0 enemy scheme markers outside of 6" of its deployment zone.

Initial reaction; I love this scheme.  I love that it is a foil for the tomes scheme if they both end up in the same pool.  Chatty models will see a lot of work in 2018.


The number schemes appear to be a grab bag of book schemes, 2016/2017 schemes, and a hand full of new schemes.  I won't list the numbers because there is a chance these will end up shuffled from where they currently sit.

- Hold Up Their Forces; Use no more than one model to engage more than one enemy model and maintain through the end of the turn.  Score 1 VP at the end of each turn after the first if the requirement is satisfied.

Initial reaction; I'm not sure how I feel about this scheme.  It punishes lists that rely on auras.  Also peons currently count.  So raptors can drop in end of turn and catch a bad positioning by surprise.

- Challenge; reveal the scheme at the start of a turn and then select one of your models and an enemy model as challengers.  If the enemy challenger is killed by the friendly challenger score 1 VP and unreveal the scheme.  You may discard 2 cards to unreveal the scheme and remove all challenge tags assigned by this crews scheme.

Initial reaction; this is basically the same thing as Vendetta (with Vendetta currently in the pool) only Masters and 0 cost models can be involved and you can aim for peons with 13SS models if so inclined.  And if the enemy wins initiative then he can kill his model and you have to discard 2 cards to try again next round.   So right off the bat cheating initiative is huge on both sides of scheme.  I predict some form a change or possibly a full replacement of this scheme.

- Take One for the Team; Basically Frame for Murder with different scoring conditions.

Initial reaction; I prefer this to Frame For Murder because I can deny a point by using a cheaper model to land the killing blow and go about what I was doing.  As an aside moving it to a numbered scheme will have less people complain when it does show up.  I liked Frame and I think I like this version better.  If anything makes it through unchanged this will probably be the first thing I would bet on.

- Don't Leave a Mark; when you scroll to the description it's Leave Your Mark.

Initial reaction; I'm probably not the first to catch the error.  reserve initial reaction for the correction when I find it.

The other nine schemes are unchanged from what I can tell from their previously released versions.