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.