Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Through the Breach 2nd Edition

Last week’s Monday preview announced the coming of a new edition of the Through the Breach game. It may seem a little surprising, given that it’s only been about 3 years since the game initially came out after kickstarter, but I think most people knew the game wasn’t perfect in its initial iteration, so the initial reaction has seemed to be relatively positive. This is assisted by the fact that Mason and the Wyrd crew have worked hard to ensure that the game is reverse compatible with all of the supplementary materials and adventures published for TTB so far, a consideration that I honestly can’t recall another example of in the gaming industry.
Probably the most immediately notable change is the combination of the Fated Almanac and Fatemaster’s Guide into one book (another concession by Wyrd to reduce the financial burden of releasing a new edition. This all comes together in a 416 page beast of a book that has all the material a group needs to play the game. Along with this, the new Through the Breach Core Rules includes an expanded bestiary, filling up almost a quarter of the book and introducing enemies and signature Fatemaster Characters from each of the factions. These gribblies will get new tricks to throw at Fated in the new edition as well, with the inclusion of Fate Points. They give Enforcer level characters the ability to gain bonuses to flips, take additional actions, or heal damage. I think this helps them deal with the disparity Fatemaster Characters have versus Fated as a result of the latter being able to use twist cards to cheat fate. Cool. Additionally, the back of the book will contain an introductory adventure, which I’ve personally found to be very useful for players who are unfamiliar with the system or story of a new RPG.
One of the design goals for this relaunch of the game includes refocusing pursuits and bringing them in line with what has since been published in the faction books like Under Quarantine and Into the Bayou. They mentioned the Pioneer as one pursuit which has been retooled, as its original form was a bit scattered and…well…useless. Now it focuses on taking advantage of terrain, giving you a specific type of game session when one would want to take it on. Additionally, each pursuit now has a Rank 0 talent (like those from the splat books,) which help to reward players for switching Pursuits in response to the prologue.
Additionally, for fluff junkies like me, this book has it in spades. With over 60 pages detailing the world of Malifaux and its history, this book promises to be a treasure trove. I know one of the things I was really looking forward to in the initial version of the books was learning some new information about what was going on Earthside, what the Neverborn were doing before we arrived in Malifaux, and an explanation of some of the long-standing mysteries of the game’s background. Sadly, much of this information was lacking the first time around. These new versions promise to at least touch on this and even more, including recent events bridging the stories of Malifaux and The Other Side like the Governor-General’s recent mishap and transformation into the Burning Man. It even mentions discussing what happened on the night the first Breach closed, which has always been a mystery. So, yeah, you could say I’m pretty excited about this part of the book, and Through the Breach 2nd Edition in general.


Mmm, gator snacks.

Speaking of Through the Breach, there’s a new one-shot adventure up on Drive thru RPG. This particular story focuses on a quintet of Pregenerated characters working for their boss, one Chubbs Lacroix, who had his hand and favorite gun bitten off by a gator in the swamp. He hires the Fated to go hunt the beast down, leading to the usual array of mishaps incurred by anyone spending an extended period travelling through the Bayou. The story features run ins with a menagerie of swamp beasties and may even end in a meeting with the Swamp Hag herself. Check it out for $5.
Additionally, the Monday preview mentioned a worldwide campaign for Through the Breach coming soon. We don't really know much about it other than the title, A Stitch in Time, but given how cool Nythera was I'm sure we're in for some good stuff. 


Come back later this week for a tournament report featuring my mishaps with McCabe in North Carolina. 

Friday, January 20, 2017

4.5 Tips to Prepare for a Malifaux Tournament


Not a lot of news briefs this week, but The Other Side kickstarter has just a few hours left. If you want to get in on the game from the groundfloor, this is your last chance. The deal has never been better!

Tournament Preparation

With the arrival of the Gaining Grounds 2017 document, and the fact that I'm currently preparing for a tournament coming up next week, I thought it would be a good idea to talk about some ideas for how to prepare oneself for a tournament, particularly if you haven't been to one previously.

1) Figure out what you're playing! - This probably goes without saying, but before you head to a tournament, make sure that you know what you're going to play! This can take a lot of forms, of course. Obviously, you'll want to know what kind of tournament you're entering and which models you'll need to bring along. The standard Gaining Grounds tournament is fixed faction, meaning you name your faction at the beginning of the tournament and that is what you play every round. You are, however, allowed to build a new crew every round after seeing the strategy and scheme pools you'll be facing, as well as knowing your opponents' faction. Other tournaments may be fixed list (same crew every round), fixed master, more or less soulstones, hiring pool, or other more bizarre formats. Now, if you have a favorite faction or one crew you've been playing regularly, this can be pretty easy. If, like me, you suffer from chronic magpie syndrome, sometimes this choice can be a bit tougher. For the upcoming event, I literally asked my wife to name the first suit that came into her head from a deck of cards. She named hearts, so I'm playing Guild (because everybody loves the Guild.)

1b) Pack the models you'll need- Your choice of faction may, in fact, be a choice of master or crew that happens to be holding your interest right now or with whom you think you have a level of familiarity that can lead to success. If so, you can probably put together a small list of models, pack a small bag, and you're good to go. However, the advantage to the fixed faction format is flexibility. Depending on what you may be facing each round, you may be best off building your whole crew, master and all, each round of the tourney. I think it's at least worth your time to include models that are good for killing, good for surviving, and good for moving to go score objectives. If you have that ready, you can probably build a decent crew that can handle most situations the game can throw at you.

2) Know your models- Time limits during tournament games of Malifaux can creep up on you. When one is just learning to play or just having a fun, casual game with friends, its not unusual for games to take 2 1/2 to 3 hours or longer. You don't have that much time in a tournament. The GG2017 document stipulates two hour rounds. It is not uncommon, therefore, for many tournament games to not progress past turn 4 or even turn 3. A good way to help keep this from happening is to make sure you are as familiar as possible with the models you'll be using. If you have to look down at your stat cards every time you activate one of your abilities, that's time you lose. If, on the other hand, you know your models well enough that you remember that, say, Mccabe's Take This! requires a 4 and has a range of 10 and pushes the target 4", you don't need to check it and can just do what you need to do when you need to do it. You don't need an eidetic memory or need to sit and study like you're cramming for a final, though. I've yet to play anyone who could run their whole crew off the top of their head. Just make sure you're as familiar as possible. If nothing else, you'll have a much better idea of what your crew is capable of doing in real situations on the table (as opposed to in your head, where many of us unfortunately end up making our value judgements on the quality of models.)

3) Look up the strategies- Gaining Grounds documents list which strategies you're going to play every round of the tournaments, with a rotation that changes as the months move along. Right now, the strategies are Headhunter, Squatter's Rights, and Stake a Claim. When you know what's coming, you can start planning ahead of time what crews you're going to use every round. Conversely, if you have a fixed list that you're locked in to every round, you limit your ability to adapt to the scenario and can put yourself  at a disadvantage every round. Now, it's not foolproof, because the scheme pools are generated at the individual events (wouldn't want people to be TOO prepared, after all) so you need to be flexible. My Stake a Claim and/or Squatter's Rights Mccabe crews use dogs (as many do) as scheme runners to score the strategy. If, however, I see Hunting Party in the scheme pool for these rounds, then I might want to think about using something else to get the job done, as this would put easily killable models out for the enemy to use to score.

4) Think of pitfalls- While the stated design goals for M2E were to have every master capable of completing every strategy, there are situations where one master is going to struggle more than others. It is useful to sit down and think about what these pitfalls are for the masters/crews you're thinking of using and come up with contingency plans to counter them. One of these for McCabe is the Neutralize the Leadership scheme. It only comes up on a number flip, so I may not see it at all in the tournament. If I do, however, running McCabe essentially grants a free 1 point to my opponent, as I'm going to be reduced to half wounds at least once during the game due to McCabe's "split into two piles" wounds rules. If I see this scheme, then, I might think about running one of my other Guild crews to block those points (and potentially score them myself, of course.) Perdita and Sonnia tend to like standing back out of the fray and blasting things to pieces, so they're strong contenders to think about using in this situation.

5) Make some sample lists- There are two benefits to writing up a few sample crews before the tournament starts. First, you can save yourself a bit of time during your games if one of your sample crews fits the strat/board/scheme pool combination you're facing. The other benefit is physically sitting down and getting an idea of what you can cram into a 50SS limit. Fancy the Peacekeeper but want to use the Pale Rider to swing the glowing saber as well? You'll need to have an idea beforehand of just how much you can still fit after you chew up 20+ stones with two models, and maybe come up with something else that can do similar jobs for cheaper. For instance, if you like the Peacekeeper for his harpoon gun primarily, maybe look at a Hunter instead (which work great with McCabe anyways, since they're minions that he can Black Flash.) If it's durability you're after, Guardians (another minion, and one that got a bump in the most recent Gaining Grounds document) may be an effective substitute. Flip some points around and see what you can really do with your crews. Some things may occur to you that you hadn't previously considered.

These bits of advice aren't going to guarantee you a top 3 finish every tournament, of course, but if you keep some of these ideas in mind, you may set yourself up to do well and have a good time, as nobody likes feeling unprepared and/or getting stomped because they weren't sufficiently prepared.

Do you have any tournament preparation tips? If so, I'd love for people to comment with them below.

Monday, January 9, 2017

January 2017 Errata, Fire in the Sky, and The Other Side

News Briefs:

1)   Wyrd’s Monday preview from last week introduced an upcoming Penny Dreadful for the Through the Breach RPG titled “Fire in the Sky.” This is the first story for the role-playing game to be set earthside. The Fated journey to San Francisco, where a strange light has appeared in the skies. From the cover, you can see that this light is man-shaped, and the description mentions the Other Side, so it suggests that the Burning Man (and perhaps some members of his cult?) may be involved. As someone who may know things about things, the Ongoing Challenge from chapter 2 of this book is one you won't want to miss! 

2)   The Other Side’s kickstarter campaign has 11days left. They’ve exceeded a quarter of a million dollars at this point, and have revealed some special models/units as the campaign has progressed. Adjunct models are special figures that can be plugged into a normal fireteam to add in some special abilities, but can be removed like a normal model or picked off by enemies with accurate fire. Additionally, the creators have introduced the idea of Ally rules, allowing for the addition of some more diversity to your army. One type of ally you can hire are Syndicates, groups of unaligned forces which have restrictions on which armies can purchase them. For instance, the Court of Two syndicate is a Malifaux syndicate, and so can only be hired my Malifaux allegiances (one assumes Gibbering Hordes and/or the Burning Man.) One of the syndicates is the Guild (hurray!), who have taken a step back from running things earthside and are offering their troops to the highest bidder. The other, the Court of Two, is led by Neverborn and their ilk. The Court of Two model previewed in the update is Binh Nguyen, a spirit trained by Kirai Ankoku who has helped raise an army of ghosts to hire out. Cool stuff. Plus there are a large number of add-ons unlocked at this point, so if you have the money, backing the Kickstarter is likely going to be a pretty good deal.


Over at Leodis games, the 20% discount on preorders continues! Added to it this month: the Amo No Zako boxed set, Death Marshall Recruiters, Will o’ the Wisps, and Akaname, among others. If you’re a UK reader, go check them out!


            The January 2017 Errata document served as an introduction for several things besides just alterations to models. This was the first modification to the game headed by new Malifaux lead designer, Aaron Darland, and it introduced the way these are going to be handled going forward. Specifically, there are now plans for there to be 2 errata documents released during the year, one in January and one in midsummer. Major changes are going to be released in the January update, while the one later is meant to include small changes, many of which come up in response to things from the first errata. The FAQ documents will still be done bimonthly as before, but this allows them to make more drastic corrections without needing to do the 0 ss upgrade cards as has been done in the past.
             Many folks, of course, have some thoughts and feelings about this. The response has actually seemed pretty tame compared to what I expected, but there is a bit of (possibly understandable) salt from some people due to alterations to their favorite models and/or having to reorder cards for models you already own. The print-on-demand service from Wargame vault helps offset some of this pain, at least, but I think even the game design team would prefer not to have to do it this way if possible. This is an advantage digital games like Hearthstone have, where they can make changes on the fly without leaving people with a large number of out-of-date cards. Still, I think this is the best of some bad choices.
            As for the individual changes, they range from severe overhauls to very fine alterations. To run through some of them (and my thoughts: )

Ironsides-Added a tome to her defense, allowing her to trigger “Good shot, my turn” every time she gets hit in melee. Ironsides players love this change, and it means you had better just not fight her in melee, period.

Colette-You can still prompt 3x in a turn, but you can only prompt the same model once. So, no more running in Howard and then having her prompt him to swing over and over. I think even most Colette players are ok with this, as the card does a lot of cool stuff outside of this ability, but many players literally never have her do anything else.

Tara Crew-Many of the changes to Tara and her ilk were to clear up her bizarre hiring rules. She now has Infiltration: Void, which works like many of the 10 Thunders masters to allow her to hire anything with that trait from outside her faction. Correspondingly, Death Marshals, the Scion of the Void, Void Wretches, and the Nothing Beast all gained this trait. Since this made part of the Dead of Winter upgrade redundant, she gained a new ability on there. And, probably the nicest buff for Tara’s crew, the Nothing Beast is now a henchman, with the increased upgrade slots and soulstone use that goes with it.

Brewmaster-Drinking contest was rewritten for clarity. Still works the same way.

Black Blood Shaman-They removed the weird “Black Blood Condition” versus “Black Blood Ability” stuff the model previously had and just made it the ability. This has some effects on the game mechanically but mostly just clarifies weirdness.

Francisco and Papa-Their respective buff abilities now go away when they leave play or activate. This is specifically targeted at the “Papa in a box” type Sonnia builds which, if I’m being honest, always felt a little exploitive. Don’t have a problem with this change.

Guild Austringers-Lost a bit of their sting by taking away the enhanced range while focusing. You’ll now have to get them a bit closer to the action (while still leaving them completely hidden from sight, but it’s something to keep in mind.) This one stings a bit, but may have been necessary from a balance perspective.

Lenny-No longer gives +Rams to masters. This is a big change, and hurts Ophelia, Som’er, and to a lesser extent Ma Tucket crews (as was pointed out on the Malifools, Lenny had a hard time keeping up with Ma.) Probably necessary, but I can see how Gremlins players might be stinging. On the other hand, your Francois can still just explode anything it meets up with.

Rooster Riders-Can no longer Reckless. These guys were, from what I’ve heard, one of the few legitimate NPEs in Malifaux, so softening them up was a good change.

Rotten Belles-Lure's Ca and their wounds reduced to 7. Outrageous! How could they…ok Cast 8 was probably necessary. The reduced wounds actually doesn’t do all that much to reduce their toughness, since people hitting them will probably do weak damage and, if you do the math, this doesn’t change the number of times a Wk 2 or 3 model has to hit them to kill them.

Daydreams: Lucid Dreaming rewritten to only apply to one cast. Basically an effort to curtail summoning Dreamer, who has also inspired some salt from opponents in major tournaments.

Guardian- Reduced to 7 cost and gained a point of weak damage on the sword. Maybe can give Franc a run for his money in the “Auto-include protection model” slot? They’re still not fast so you’ll have to give them a nudge to get up the board with quick crews, but I've dusted mine off.

Lucius-  I’ll just copy-paste Aaron’s description: “The Austringers sent Lucius a fruit basket with a nice card, and now he doesn't hate them as much. Gained +Mask to Defense (Re: Surprisingly Loyal upgrade). Devil's Deal reduced to 2 damage. Elite Training works on Melee attack and Horror flips of Minions, Mimics, and Guardsmen. Commanding Presence works on all friendly models, range reduced to 12”, TN dropped. Governor's Authority lasts until this model's next Activation. Guild Intelligence made a (0), lost its TN, and now works with all friendly models. TN of Issue Command lowered, Triggers changed around. “ Basically, all his stuff that was interesting but not quite that good got a little nudge. Hopefully this brings him out of the “This is the worst master in the game” slot, at least. The scribe also got a nice little boost, becoming a minion and gaining some nice new actions.

Misaki- Deadly Dance changed to a 0 action, making the defensive Misaki build much more viable. Downburst was reworded and given a trigger to allow you to make some attacks after landing.

Montresor-Choking Death now triggers when model activates. Gained a couple of wounds and a point of damage. Wyrd really wants this model to work, as this is only the most recent in a string of buffs. Will this do the job? Who knows, I don’t play outcasts.

Union Miners-Gained a couple of buffs to their attacks and a common-sense rewording to their false claims ability (now you don’t have to discard a scheme marker if one has already been removed from play.) These guys always seemed like they should be decent to me, and yet you never see them. Hopefully this will change that.

As stated above, all the new versions of these cards are available on Wyrd’s site to print off (and these print-offs are tournament legal, per Gaining Grounds 2017.) If you need a real card, you can use Wargame Vaults' print on demand service. How do you feel about the changes? Was your favorite model nerfed? Are you excited to get something on the table that got a buff? Still wondering how Malifaux Raptors+Practiced Production somehow escaped the cuddle bat (like a certain Malifaux Musings author)? Let me know in the comments below. Otherwise, see you next week!