Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Ripples of Fate Previews M.2: Sandeep, Parker, Asami, and Zipp

Time to carry on with the reviews! If you missed the first half, here's a link!

Sandeep Desai

                From the fluff, we learn that Sandeep was born in Guild occupied India and learned magic at a temple when he was adopted as an orphan. The knowledge he mastered was totally against Guild law, and as such his master was killed and Sandeep was set on his path. He has since become a teacher of rebel mages and spellcasters, with a mastery of Gamin and holding secret classes on Earth and now, after being invited there by Victor Ramos, in Malifaux. It could be my academic background, but I like the flavor of this dude.
                He summons his big totem, Banasuva, to provide a threat on the board that could be interesting for Collect the Bounty. On the card (likely modified from upgrades,) he has a not so strong melee attack from his big Gada mace. His ranged caster spell has a respectable 2/4/5 damage flip with a ram trigger to give it plus flips for damage. He can teleport as a (0) or perform an interact action. As written, he feels like a kind of generic master, but that makes sense because any of his abilities that are casts (the ranged attack, teleport, and interact) are usable by the other academics in his crew. As such, you wouldn’t want them to be too overwhelming or that could get really out of hand. His melee attack is enhanced by which of his limited upgrades he chooses. He also picks up the ability to summon gamin from his limited upgrade, and gives different buffs to them based on which upgrade he chooses. The other upgrades aren’t detailed to any degree, other than to state that they let him hire academics regardless of faction and gives him the ability to enhance their abilities…in some way. Perhaps fittingly, Sandeep remains probably the most mysterious master at this point, but I’m very interested to see how he operates on the tabletop.

Parker Barrows

                Parker was screwed over in court by a brother long ago, which took all of his money and left him to a life of banditry. He now runs a gang out of the Northern Hills and robs people. They aren’t loyal to anybody, so anybody is a target. And…that’s pretty much it for fluff.
                Parker sort of strikes me as being reminiscent of the game Othello: you can learn him in minutes, but it will take you a lifetime to master. He shoots stuff, unsurprisingly, and has a trigger to make an enemy drop…one of their scheme markers? That will likely seem weird, until you get to the tactical action Five Finger Discount which lets him discard either his own soulstones or the enemy’s scheme markers to attach one of Parker’s upgrades to him. This makes sense when paired with his Empty The Chamber trigger on his shooting attack, which increases his damage from ditching upgrades, and the fact that he has 7 different upgrades which allow him to do different things on the board. So, Parker ditches an upgrade that may or may not have outlived its usefulness in the game (IE it’s a combat upgrade and the game has shifted to a strats/schemes/movements phase, or vice versa,) does some extra damage on an attack (3/4/6 for the cost of one upgrade,) and gains a soulstone back for Limited Supplies. He can then either ditch that soulstone or an enemy scheme marker and attach something better from his massive pool of personal upgrades. So, he could be a swiss army knife, with a different tool to fit whatever job you need. He also can toss out some pushes to his crew to help get slowpoke models into position for added utility. So, to all appearances, he is a scheme denial master (sort of,) who can switch between strategy or combat mode in mid game. My brother used to joke that, if I went to a fast food place, I would tend towards the “one of everything combo” because I like having options. Parker gets more tempting to me all the time. I do worry, however, that most Levi and Vik players may look at him, shrug, and move on past because they already have a very strong combat master and Parker doesn’t explicitly fill any of the things they’re missing.

Asami Tanaka

                I wasn’t sure if Asami would have been an Oni from the start or a former human who had been changed into one. Her backstory reveals that she is the latter. Asami was locked up (seems to be a theme with the women of this book, I just realized) as a child because she could see the lights twinkling in the Beyond and longed to call them to be her family. She and Reva should sit down for coffee sometime. I think they’d have a lot in common. Anyway, her temple was raided and she was wounded and left unable to have children, ensuring she would never be able to create said family the old-fashioned way. As such, she accepted an Oni into her and gained the ability to call them, as well as a big shiny new smile (on the back of her head.) The Thunders have recruited her to take advantage of her talents but, who knows, maybe she isn’t so inclined to being under their control.
                Let’s get the big thing out of the way, Asami’s a summoner. She calls any Oni type minions with a similar version of Nicodem’s summon, but with a twist. Rather than losing wounds when the new Oni enter the board, they have a condition called Flicker+1 that ticks down at the end of the turn and, if it is removed from the model, results in their being sacrificed. So, Asami’s summons have a timer essentially, which can be spiked up by sacrificing corpse and/or scrap markers when she calls them and (presumably) by her totem which has the ability to increase conditions. They still can’t interact when they appear and are slow, but they can tick her for 1 wound and then charge as a (1) so that mitigates a bit of the speed problem. She also has the ability to grant an Oni or minion Focus+2 for the cost of an AP (she is an Oni herself, don’t forget) and her melee attack is no slouch on its own. That said, she has only 10 wounds and only Hard to Kill to protect herself, so keeping her safe while taking advantage of that attack is going to be tricky. Her upgrade A Heavenly Design sounds, on the surface, to be a must-have due to granting her a placing effect for better positioning and by allowing her to drop a scheme marker next to any models which are sacrificed near her (granting them a kind of pseudo-Finish the Job trick similar to Molly’s.) 
                I think that, of the new masters, Asami has the potential to be the most difficult of the lot, but there’s a great deal of potential power here. Playing her as a dedicated summoner and ignoring her own offensive capabilities may end up being a trap, but summoning is one of the most powerful mechanics in Malifaux. Plus, you know, Amo No Zako charging for 1 AP is scary, ya’ll.


                Zipp is pretty much what it says on the box, Captain of a crew of sky pirates. He and his band stole an experimental airship and have been raiding and pillaging ever since. His ship is called the Infamy. He has a jet pack and a lightning gun. I think that’s more or less covered it.
                I like to think of him as having more in common with a certain other captain from Futurama whose name begins with Z. His strength is in A) Aggravating the people around him, B) talking a lot and C) Winning because the competent people around him go complete the mission for him. He’s insignificant, we already knew, and specializes in disruption. His two forms of attack are the lightning gun, which can drop the enemy’s walk down or push someone around on triggers. Or, he can lift you up in the air and drop you, leading to the very unique Melee versus Height duel with a pretty decent damage spread and the ability to reposition Zipp and the target 5”. This attack also has the greatest trigger name in Malifaux, “My work done, I race triumphantly into the clouds,” which lets you move Zipp away after doing the drop on the enemy. I think the most powerful thing he might be able to do is summon clouds of smoke to redefine the terrain on the battlefield and screen his troops. And, he has a semi-reliable ability to reposition his own people. I don’t think we can see the real full strength of his model at this time, since he gains power from upgrades which also allow his enforcers to attach Sky Pirate upgrades as well. These give you the ability to bring the Infamy into the fray by having his people drop pianos out of it on people on the other side of the board. It's tough to know for sure what Zipp is going to do, but I'm sure we'll see a ton of it just for the humor value (which could be said for most non-Wong Gremlins, but I'm editorializing again.) Good luck building those Iron Skeeters, though. 

                 So, that’s the whole sorry lot of ‘em that’ll be available at the Con. Before the show starts, I’m hoping to put together a post with some pre-Gencon plans that I’m orchestrating, some information about the games of Through the Breach I’ll be running there, and a Malifaux Musings challenge which will gain you entry to a drawing for some Gencon lootz. So, tune back in for that later this week!

Friday, July 22, 2016

RIpples of Fate Previews M. 2: Nellie, Reva, Titania

So, surprisingly, Wyrd actually released quite a bit more information on the Ripples of Fate box sets prior to Gencon. I thought it would just be the images of the box sets and, by the way, bravo to them for having ALL SEVEN of the new box sets as well as all of the remaining Book 3 models which haven’t been released available for the show. The sculpting staff at Wyrd deserve a lot of kudos for this. This will be the first time since M1E (possibly the first time in the history of Malifaux) when they’re completely up to date. So, cheers for that. However, mid-day on Thursday the 21st, they released some crew summaries and the backside of the master cards to the public. Therefore, since the previous preview posts (yay alliteration) were so popular, I thought it would be time to go back and revisit the previews. There’s only 2 weeks left to the show, however, so we’re gonna have to pick up the pace a bit. On with the show!

Nellie Cochrane

                Fluff-wise, Nellie has been confirmed to be the leader of the Guild run newspaper in Malifaux city. As such, she serves their purpose by not exposing their corruption while digging into everybody else’s (though the story suggests she’s not crazy about this arrangement, necessarily.) She’s got a crew of journalists that work with her as well as her companion, Phiona Gage (a reference from a famous historical medical case of a railroad worker who took a metal spike through his brain and lived, but with an altered personality.) She’s a crusader of truth and, at least from the blurb, is possibly the only truly good person in the entire game of Malifaux. That said, I haven’t read her short stories, so she’s probably secretly kicking puppies or something.
As predicted, Nellie is very different from your average Guild master (IE she’s not going to smash you in the face.) She has a few options for attacking between 1) Scathing Review: an attack that attaches a condition which deals damage every turn unless they perform an interact action (which will then give Nellie more Evidence,) 2) Propaganda: an attack which does a smallish amount of damage but which has a number of triggers which can push the model, let something else take a swing at it, or give it slow, or 3) Hot off the Presses which pushes a model to a scheme marker and gives them burning 3. Propaganda is probably the most interesting, since the additional text lets you drop your evidence condition by 1 to declare more of the triggers off the attack. She can chew up the scheme markers she drops at her feet to get a free 6” push as a zero action as well. She has upgrades which will allow her to hire up to 4 mercenaries without paying the mercenary tax (which will, likely, necessitate taking multiple mercs, since it’s unlikely to be a free upgrade.) Misleading headlines grants her the ability to avoid being out-activated by the enemy crew (a frequent problem with Guild crews) and gives her the very powerful Incite action. Delegation lets her heal models or give them fast (!) which has some interesting interactions with those big, scary mercs you might be hiring or, you know, all the big scary things the Guild already has. So, essentially, Nellie is a big bag of tricks and aggravation for your opponent. I can see her essentially following along with some big gribbly like a Peacekeeper, healing it or giving it Fast, and handing it free attacks with Propaganda. Feels a bit Hoffman-meets-Pandora-meets-Collette to me. She will be mine, someday, but she may stay on Vassal for the immediate future. School supplies have to be bought for my kids this month.


                Reva’s not at all what I thought she would be in the story. I was with everybody else on thinking “death nun,” based on her appearance, but apparently she is a girl from a rich family who could speak to dead people. They locked her up in the attic, but she escaped with the help of a fallen Guild Exorcist. I’m usually a bit more PC about these things but, based on what I’ve seen so far, *yawn*. I kind of liked the idea of the Resurectionist Nun, I’m not going to lie, so I’m disappointed in this. But, this is just a blurb rather than the full stories from the book, so I’ll reserve judgement until I know the full tale. She seems to have kind of a “Joan of Arc” for the Resurrs, as it mentions that she’s attracting a sort-of death cult that is fanatically loyal.
                The best analogy I can get from my impressions of Reva’s role on the table are “Resurrectionist Rasputina,” only not really. Her main attack comes from Ethereal Reaping, a 1 AP attack that will target anything within 3” or her (and she’s on a 50mm base, so that’s a big range) or a corpse marker within 18”. The attack does pretty strong, Perdita-ish damage with some decent triggers, so this could mess opponents up pretty badly. You won’t want to overlook the Drain Life ability, however, as it has the potential to damage an opponent and heal Reva for up to 5 damage depending on the margin by which she beats the defender in a duel. We all know how fond I am of non-damage flip attacks, after all. Her tactical actions let her teleport to corpse markers or discard corpse markers to add friendly scheme markers. Her upgrades feel toolbox-y, though the one that gives her a corpse candle starting on the enemy’s side of the board and allows her to use Strength of the Fallen while engaged seems pretty strong for her. She’s described as being a quick master who pops around the board, does damage, or perhaps prepares for a big final charge at the end of the game.


                Ah, my Faerie queen. How we all prepare to revel in the glory of your return. Titania’s fluff we already more or less knew. She’s the resurrected former leader of the Fae who, upon defeating the titans and destroying their physical forms, was locked away by her followers (the current-day Neverborn) and forgotten. She’s back now, and this time she’s pissed. Part of what I want to see story-wise from the book is which of the Neverborn’s masters fall on her side versus which are going to be opposed to her. I can’t imagine Lillith bending the knee, especially given her people’s hatred of the Undead, but I could definitely see Nekima aligning herself with Titania as a means of getting revenge. We do know that she considers humanity to be a scourge of vermin that need to be wiped out, so that would suggest that Jacob Lynch, Zoraida, and the Dreamer are not going to be on her friends list.
                The attack action A Wicked Silence and A New Harvest result in the scheme markers she needs getting dropped. Her main attack is Bloody Command which can discard scheme markers to spike the damage up, heal a friendly model, or forgo Titania’s damage and call in a beater to smash the target (speaking of Nekima.) Finally, she can use her (0) action and discard scheme markers to push herself along which, if she combines it with a triple walk, will give her up to a 21” move in a turn. Sexy. We don’t know which, if any, of Titania’s upgrades are Limited (and, thus, which can be combined,) but we know a few of them. One forces an opponent to discard 2 cards to attack her after she hits a trigger. Forest claims all lets her convert corpse and scrap markers to scheme markers (seems like a pretty strong choice.) And, finally, there’s an upgrade which lets her name one member of her crew as a champion, which gives them some manner of buffs. This lets you apply some flexibility to who gets the upgrade and prevents them getting taken off before they can make use of the abilities, presumably, which tends to happen to me whenever I bring a new shiny to a game. She’s the crew box I’ll be picking up at Gencon, but that’s been the case since the Nythera event, frankly, and that didn’t have anything to do with the rules. I can’t be unbiased with Titania, is what I’m saying, but I think she’s great.

Check back next time for the remaining 4 masters. 

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Sometimes a Draw Can Feel Like a Win

I realized, after writing this post, that it was basically a cat poster. So, here you go.

                 I’ve played a couple of games recently where I’ve basically been fighting the deck the entire time. I’m not sure what I did to make the Malifaux Gods angry (but I’m totes sorry. For realz.) but the bottom line is that in the last two games I haven’t flipped a Red Joker that hasn’t been for something like initiative or casting Brillshaper on an Illuminated and have, in the meantime, cost myself as many as 6 VP in differential by Black Jokering a flip in a critical moment that I had previously set up for a win. One turn I drew a full hand of cards, plus two rush of magics, plus 3 cards from a Wings of Darkness soulstone…and ended up with one face card in my hand. It’s been a rough week, is what I’m saying. Also, I’ve not had that many games with Lillith in my time, but I had the impression that most games Tangled Shadows is a very effective ability of which many players are afraid. In my hands, however, my opponents seem to intuitively know which master I’m bringing and either Merc in Anna Lovelace to shut it down almost entirely or have Sidir nearby to jump in front of it and block me. These games have left me pretty salty, and I apologize to the opponents who’ve dealt with my grumpiness while playing me. It’s a character flaw that I fight against almost every game with mixed success. On turn 4 of the most recent game I was honestly contemplating just calling it quits. But…I plowed through, and both games ended…in draws! And in a way, I’m almost prouder of those draws than I would be of wins.
                One was against Rasputina in a game of Interference with Search the Ruins in the pool. This was another of those subterranean Vassal boards with small tunnels that just scream “Put a hungry land marker here and the opponent is screwed.” Weirder, it also had close deployment ensuring that we were going to be right on top of each other from the word go. In retrospect, I probably should have brought Nekima and tried to pounce on the opposing master, but A) I’m still determined to find out why everyone hates the Mysterious Emissary so much despite the fact that it’s played a role in the outcome of every game I’ve used it and B) I didn’t KNOW that my opponent was going to bring the one Arcanist master who is absolutely the worst for close deployment. So yeah, the crew purchasing phase was basically a shit show for both of us, and worse of all it became a slog in the middle with Anna and Hanna Lovelace putting up an 8” aura of “No Tangled Shadows here” over the opponent’s entire crew (if you’re struggling in your local meta with a Lillith crew, Anna’s a merc and she’s basically a hard counter that turns Lillith into a mediocre melee master who can summon trees). So, that’s great. Then I made it worse by trying to use Lillith to tie the Lovelace siblings up for a turn, which ended in Lillith getting turned into paste. For some reason, my hungry land markers think Lillith is super tasty, as my opponents have Red Jokered her twice in three games now, so that didn’t help, but all that armor and some less than fabulous flipping to attack meant I was sans master after turn 3. At this point I started to get a little desperate, and was basically assuming a loss, but I knew three things. 1) Lillith’s Illusionary Forest was placed in a way that meant Rasputina was going to be doing dick for the rest of the game 2) I had 2 Waldgeists hiding well away from the Lovelaces to go hide from them and score the strategy and 3) Mr. Graves was tagged as the chump for Frame for Murder, and he was ready and able to charge in and get beaten up by the aforementioned armored ladies to score me some points, which he promptly did. In other words, I evaluated the situation, made myself calm down, and found a way to score enough to stay in it. Hell, if not for the black jokered damage flip of my ME on the last turn, I may have even won by denying my opponent search the ruins (it has a tome trigger on its attack to blow up all scheme markers within 4” of the target.) So, the draw was earned, and I learned some hard lessons about not using Lillith like I would use Perdita.
                The next game was even worse, luck wise. My opponent was playing a Jacob Lynch Ten Thunders crew and taking the “Only bring one minion in Hunting Party” gambit. They can get away with this, though, when that one minion is a Ten Thunders Brother who are notoriously difficult to pin down, let alone kill. To counter, I had brought Nekima for this game and given her Retribution’s Eye to negate the awesome defensive triggers and give me an opportunity, when I was ready for it, to pounce and kill it. I jammed the center of the board up with more forests and Hungry Land, forcing the action around the perimeter of the board (again, how can a model that affects the game this much be bad? I really don’t understand.) Sidir had again managed to jam up most of my transposition antics with Lillith by bouncing in front of the target with Broken Promises turned on to block that as a tactic all together, but eventually I got the TTB pulled into melee. Nekima walked up, had two AP and a hand full of pretty good cards to finish him…and damage flip is a black joker followed by a second attack that misses. Curse words ensue. Then Nekima fails three defense flips against Lynch, dies, and brings Hungering Darkness back into my backfield. The TTB escaped, and then Sidir stepped in the way to protect it for the rest of the game from any more Tangling of Shadows. And, as I said, I was honestly considering packing it in at this point. But, I looked closely at the board and saw that A) I was set up well for scoring max on Search the Ruins B) No one was going to score much of anything from the strategy (Headhunter) and my opponent had kind of tipped his hand that he was playing Search the Ruins as well, while my Emissary was poised to blow up his scheme markers, and C) He had only scored partial points from Quick Murder. The door was open for me to at least make a respectable showing. My Doppleganger and Primordial Magic managed to complete Search the Ruins, despite Hungering Darkness’s compelling argument that the PM needed to feed itself to some Hungry Land on turn 5. Hell, I even had a chance to win the thing if I had thought to get an exposed Illuminated back behind cover to avoid getting finished off by the Ten Thunders Emmisary to score an easy head marker for the opponent.
This one, of course, is a bit dicey since my opponent was playing a crew that was not optimized for the encounter, but the point is simply this: Don’t give up in games. If you get frustrated as easily as I do, step away for a second and pull yourself back together. Get off of tilt, and get your head back in the game. It doesn’t matter how bad you’re getting stomped if you’re playing the scenario effectively. You can still get a good result in a game when you basically bet your butt handed to you in the combat portion if you can outrun the opponent’s schemes and strategy efforts.