Monday, February 6, 2017

Malifaux at the Underground, 1/28th Tournament Report

Mini-Muses



-Information for how to join the Through the Breach worldwide event: A Stitch In Time, is the subject of this week's Monday Preview. There's a sign-up sheet linked on the page where you put in your name, email, and forum name in exchange for access to the forum where the files, including the pregen characters required for the campaign, are located. Fatemasters should sign up by February 26th at the latest, but the first part of the adventure goes up on the 13th (just in time for some Valentine's day gaming?) And, it contains a render of the character which won the first Nythera event, Dr. Alexei Sokolov of the Aracanists. My player tended to use his overdrive ability to pick up tables and throw them, though, but I don't know how well he can pull that off with those big swords...
Everyone's favorite French-speaking Russian

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Last Saturday, Jon and I traveled south into the wilds of High Point, NC for a another tournament in the Southeastern Malifaux group, this one organized by Chris Bellamy. It was more of the standard 50SS fixed faction fair, and I posted previously about some thought experiments I did in advance as tournament prep. I was planning on running McCabe the whole time, as I have an affinity for masters that are more the point guard for their crew rather than the one scoring all the points. I’d played a couple of practice games to learn his nuances, at least as well as I could, and decided to put what I’d learned to the test.



Gaming Undergound is a gaming center similar to my old store Gauntlet Games in Lincoln, Nebraska. The store has some inventory inside, but the majority of the space is dedicated to playing areas. They also have a pretty expansive web store where I would imagine they do the majority of their sales, but it was cool to not have the whole tournament crammed in a corner like you get with some venues. Food was available all around the store, and they had a system set up to allow you to see the round timers on screens throughout. Very handy.

You know nothing, Lucas McCabe...


The first round was Headhunter and close deployment, so I immediately thought “Executioner.” His 0ss upgrade is supposed to have fixed some of the speed issues that have plagued the model since its release, and I’d had some success with it in a test game with Jon online. The scheme pool was Claim Jump, Frame for Murder, Accusation!, Mark for Death, and Last Stand. I came in with:

Mccabe with badge, saber, and promises,
Luna,
Peacekeeper with Debt to the Guild (how does a Peacekeeper go into debt?)
Executioner w/ Ready to work
Hunter
Brutal Effigy
2x Guild Hounds

                The enemy crew was Ulix with Old Major, Lenny, Gracie, a Slop Hauler, and some piglets. There were upgrades involved, I’m sure, but I couldn’t tell you which other than Corn Husks. The main thrust of this game was a two-front battle, his Ulix-Lenny-Gracie unit backed up with a slop hauler versus Mccabe, the Executioner, the Hunter, and my hounds; and my Peacekeeper and Effigy versus his Old Major and some piglets. The former battle didn’t work out the way I was hoping, to put it nicely. He tried to tie up the initial charge of the Executioner, but I got out and threw Fat Wolverine into the enemy to cause trouble and die gloriously for the good of the Guild. He…accomplished the second part. I had thought that, since Gracie was sort of the enabler/muscle of that team, that the right move would be to try and take her down quickly. This was incorrect. Gracie with Lenny standing next to her is a wall of armor that even the big guy couldn’t get through, and he basically bounced off and got eaten for his trouble (though he did manage to milk 2 stones and 2 cards out of the enemy while he was at it.) Making matters worse, Gracie’s an enforcer, so only 2 points from Frame. Meanwhile, the Hunter was trying to move around behind the action and murder the slop hauler, but didn’t get this done either, and the slop hauler was busy the first several turns throwing buckets at him and/or picking up heads off the ground (ironically, never doing the thing he was hired to do, heal people.)
                On the second front things were going slightly better, but only slightly. A peacekeeper is more than a match for Old Major, even when the idiot playing it keeps forgetting to hold a card in hand to keep from giving him reactivate. Some of the heads I managed to pick up in the game came from there, while the others were from piglets that sprinted off into the main fight to muck things up. Unfortunately, the corn husks made it so the enemy piglets could score claim jump three times before I could stop them, and in the main scrum we realized that the trouble with Mccabe and Marked for Death is, you know, he can be scored twice. Eff. So, we both got 4 off the strat, but I missed two scheme points for Mark and Frame while he maxed out, and I lost 8-10. Not a great start, though I was at least happy with the points my side managed to put together. Lessons learned: Executioner is still going to struggle in a lot of games, even with his new upgrade, and if Lenny is on the board he is important to the other side. There’s a reason he got nerfed, and he needs to die.


                Round 2 was standard deployment stake a claim on an Asian themed board. Fittingly for the terrain, I was throwing McCabe into a fight with Rezzer Yan Lo. Big trouble in Little Malifaux, indeed. The pool had Accusation!, Leave Your Mark, Hunting Party, Claim Jump, and Search the Ruins. So, basically, how many fast AP can you squeeze in your list? Prior to this, some other players and I had discussed how some of them had wanted to be matched up against Guild this round, as it was believed that they would not be able to do enough interactions. My response, "Oh yeah? Hold my beer..."

Mccabe-Badge of Speed, Glowing Saber, Plant Evidence
Luna
Master Queeg-Promises and Plant Evidence
Hunter
Warden
Austringer
Brutal Effigy
Guild Hound
Guild Hound

                The opponent was bringing in Yan, Izamu, Toshiro, Soul Porter, 2xNecropunks, a Komainu, and a Crooligan. It was pretty obvious we were going to be trying to sprint for markers, and I was going to need to use my minions to hunt down his before they could start scoring. I was confident, however, that I could use my hounds to score while doing this. That didn’t quite end up being the case, though. We spent the first turn basically waving at each other as we walked past, since we were deployed on opposite flanks and both seemed content to focus on scoring the objectives early. I juiced up the super dog with the badge and reactivate, counting on him to go get the first squat markers down. However, the dog soon found himself engaged with an enemy Komainu that slowed that process down, and I actually fell behind early. I was helped out by Luna charging into an enemy Necropunk on my side, dropping him, and then reactivating to move up field and eventually burn up his claim marker and replace it with one of mine just over the center line. The combat portion of this game was really won through a combination of the Hunter attacking a model before its turn, and then a reactivating saber-wielding Promises-buffed Warden coming in to mop up. That was scary good, and ended with him taking down Izamu, the Komainu, and a good chunk of Toshiro more-or-less solo. Another MVP vote goes to my second, non-super hound who spent the last half of the game blocking two scheme markers from scoring for Claim Jump all by himself. In the end, a combination of McCabe dashing back and forth like his hair was on fire and lobbing upgrades, some decent strategy on my part, and a fair amount of bad luck for my opponent’s flips managed to carry the day for my side, and we won 6-4.

The cards you see are a Terrifying test with a - flip. You know, if you want a preview of how this game went.


                Round 3 featured the dreaded Corner Deployment Squatter’s Rights scenario. I was worried about this one going in, as the scheme pool had Frame for Murder and Neutralize the Leader, which are both bad for Guild McCabe. I tried to avoid some of this by staying away from killy Henchmen if I could help it and focusing on killing models with Enforcers. I was playing Rezzers, so I decided I’d better find room in there for a Warden to help with Terror tests, which ended up being even more important than I knew. My crew looked like this.

Mccabe-Badge, Saber
Queeg-Promises
Peacekeeper-A Debt to the Guild
Hunter
Warden
2x Hounds

                My opponent was bringing a fear based Seamus crew with the Hatter and Sinister Rep, Yin, Carrion Emmisary with a Conflux that didn’t really come into play as far as I could see, 2xCrooligans, a Hanged, and the Valedictorian. Show of Force is a pretty strong scheme for the Guild after book 4, as their universal upgrade (Debt) stays attached after you activate it, unlike Oathkeeper or some of the Arcanist stuff. Seeing no upgrades on anyone besides Seamus and the 0 pointer on the Emmisary, I thought this was a strong bet. Then I put Frame on the super dog, as I figured his chance of living past turn 2 was pretty minimal.

                I was in trouble from deployment on this one, as my opponent stuck me with a corner that had a good third of its space filled by a building right in the middle, forcing me to split my crew (you can see it in the picture.) I also discovered that the trouble with the super-dog strategy is that, if you flip the middle marker and then one on the outside, the opponent can just walk up and flip the middle one back next turn. Doh. Really, I made a lot of mistakes in this game, to the point that the only thing that could have saved me was if my fate deck was exceedingly kind. It was, in fact, not (again, I refer you to the picture.) Misplays like activating my Peacekeeper’s Debt to try and attack Yin when I was in view of the Hanged, so I would have to take Terrifying Tests all turn long rather than just on the first attack, were characteristic of how I played. And, to be fair, this enemy crew is a very effective, classic build for Seamus (though I was surprised there were no Belles. Apparently they were unneeded, though.)  Also, Yin couldn’t actually have Hard to Wound, obviously, but instead Mass of Viscera which is its own thing that the sabre doesn’t ignore. As such, I bogged down in melee in the middle, managed to hand free points to the opponent by killing their Frame target on turn 2 with my Hunter, and only had the Squat markers flipped for a couple of turns 3 and 4 before getting wiped off the board. Oh, and obviously the enemy chose the two schemes that I was afraid of going into this one, so he walked away with something like a 9-6 win (my Crewfaux didn’t save the final score.)



Obviously, I’d like to have done better than 1-2, but there were some take-aways I could pull from this experience. First of all, I had 20VPs scored in the tournament, which was the 5th overall in the pool. So, I wasn’t having problems scoring VPs, but rather keeping my opponent from scoring theirs. As such, I’m going to try and focus on playing defense in the future to work on my denial game. Second, I’m a little concerned for the Guild in Gaining Grounds 2017. It may just be this particular batch of scheme pools, but Frame for Murder being on a suit really hurts them. Also, I sort of feel like there are more scheme marker based schemes this time around than previously. I think I’m going to need to take a closer look at the math on this one, so look for a post on that coming at some point in the future. Moreover, it’s even worse for McCabe, as he’s sort of vulnerable to Marked for Death and really vulnerable to Neutralize the Leadership. That’s a lot of land mines in GG2017 I might have to watch for in the future when picking masters, and he’s definitely not one I’d recommend for a fixed master tournament. I did, however, have a really fun time playing him. I seem to like support masters quite a lot, so I might play some things along those lines in the future (I do like Hoffman…and many of my crews were basically Hoff crews with McCabe…hmmm…) And finally, I still had fun playing Malifaux despite getting my butt handed to me a couple of times. I’ve heard some advice given to an amateur golfer from a pro: You don’t play enough to get this mad when you do poorly. I think that definitely applies to me. Hopefully, I’ll be able to make it to some more events in the future and refine my skills, such as they are.