Sunday, April 29, 2018

State of the Blog, and How I Would Win The Iron Scorpius




It’s been too long since the last time I put something out. This makes the 2nd time in a row I’ve skipped a week between posts, and that’s not the commitment I made to my patreon backers, and that’s not acceptable. The underlying reason is the same one that most people have: life happens and you get busy. I’m in the process of interviewing for a new job at the moment and my wife is in the final stretch of finishing her nursing degree. Things are a little busy around Malifaux Musings HQ. But still, people are giving me some cash to put these things together, and I have a commitment to making it happen. That said, part of not having a lot of time is also not having a lot of bandwidth in my life for playing multiple games of Malifaux, which also means not having nearly as many good ideas for content. So, bear with me if you see more Through the Breach material or hobby posts in the coming weeks. I promise things will settle down at some point in the very near future and the blog will go back to “normal.” It's also likely that you'll see the day of publication pushed to Sundays, as I have more time to work on the posts over the weekend. 
Those of you who are Facebook friends with me may have noticed that I deactivated my account last week (though I posted to it so infrequently that it may not have made much of a difference, to be fair.) I have several reasons for this. First of all, as a researcher I know what is required to conduct psychological experiments on human subjects ethically, and I don’t consider a waiver buried on page 10 of a 12 page EULA to be “informed consent.” Facebook tinkers with their algorithm to try and find the right content to ensure you stay on it for as long as possible, collecting data on their users’ viewing habits and optimizing from there. This is unethical research, and I’m done supporting it. It doesn’t help that more and more they’ve tweaked it to show things that make the user upset, either. That “trending” column in the upper right links entirely to stories that make me angry, and I’m willing to bet the same is true for most of you. If you’re a gun control advocate, you can bet that all of your friends’ posts in favor of the second amendment will be shuffled to the top of your feed and vice versa.
None of that was news to me, however, and I’d put up with it for a long time. A couple of weeks ago, however, the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke, revealing that 1) they were collecting browsing data not just on you, but also on the people on your contact lists regardless of whether they had signed the EULA or not and 2) that they had started selling that information to political and advertising agencies. Even that may have just been another piece of aggravation, but shortly thereafter my grandmother was contacted by some scumbag in Ohio who told her that I had been thrown in prison in Cancun, and that she needed to send them $2000 and not tell anyone about it, or I’d never be seen again. So, yeah, informational security is kind of forefront on my mind at the moment. Deactivating facebook doesn’t immediately fix that problem, but at least it removes an entity that has repeatedly shown itself to be unworthy of trust.
There’s a problem, of course. I promote this blog through Facebook. Most of my post traffic comes from people clicking in from A Wyrd Place. If I want to keep this thing growing, I need to maintain some level of access to this tool. To address this, I created a dummy account for Malifaux Musings and gave it administrative control of the blog’s facebook page. So, any content I produce from here will still be available on FB as usual (though I would still encourage as many of you as are willing to shut their FB down as well. Nothing would make me happier than to decide it isn’t worth my time to cross-post my links to three different FB groups every week.) Nothing should change, but I don’t check FB with any kind of regularity. If you want to talk to me, use @MalifauxMusings on twitter. Slide into my DMs, and I’ll be happy to chat. Or look for Agentrock on Wyrd’s forums.
Anyway, enough about that shit, let’s talk about silly plastic toys.

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Mini-Musings
1)     Congratulations to friend of the blog Jamie “The F’n Red Dragon” Varney for his victory at the Welsh GT a few weeks ago. The organizers of the UK GT events had the cool idea to theme the prizes and trophies around the various nations’ national symbols/animals. The Welsh flag has a Red Dragon on it. Given Jamie’s proclivities for faction selection, I can only imagine that the results looked something like this.



2)     The Obsidian Gate Through the Breach event is still chugging along. Fated around the world are pooling their efforts to keep the Oni sealed away for the good of mankind. Are you doing your part? If not, sign up here (or get your Fatemaster to do it), grab a Fated and join in. No experience with the rules are required, as quick-play rules have been included for people new to Through the Breach.
3)      Finally, a fond farewell to Aaron Daarland, the mecha-tyrant of Virginia and lead designer of Malifaux for the past couple of years. He's moving on to greener pastures (or at least one with less Gremlins in it.) I'm sure we all wish him the best. 

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Next weekend, friend of the blog Travis Weyforth of Max Value fame will be running his Capital City Meltdown tournament in the DC area. They’re sold out, but they have a waiting list and people always drop from these things, so if you’re still interested I would consider contacting him.
One unique thing Travis has introduced for this tournament is the Iron Scorpius prize. This is a prize for the player in the tournament with the best record who plays a different master all five rounds, and it’s one of the smartest prop-bet style prizes I’ve seen in a Malifaux tournament. I doubt even he expected the number of participants going for it to be as high as it seems will happen, but just about everyone I’ve heard from whose attending is at least mulling over going for the prize. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the trophy for winning is this fabulous model painted by Craig Shipman.


So in lieu of having real games to tell you about, I thought I’d have a go at theory crafting how I’d approach each round if I was playing for the IS. I won’t be able to attend for reasons mentioned above, and even if I did I would be in no danger of actually winning the thing, so I’m not spoiling anything for myself. So let’s get to it.



Round 1) Standard, Ply for Information, Surround Them, Show Of Force, Set Up, Vendetta, Inescapable Trap



               My thought for this round is summoning Pandora. That crew typically brings a wide swath of enforcers who can carry cheap upgrades to score Show of Force, and Baby Kade is a dream model for Vendetta with his Lure to score the first point, high combat ability, and low soulstone cost. Models that want to Ply my models will have to walk into the bubble of badness that is overlapping Tannen/Widow Weaver/Tuco/Pandora/Poltergeist/Sorrow auras, which helps the crew out. I think this gives us a good groundwork to build from. Plus, Pandora can bring her Fugue State upgrade to penalize the models that do come in and take interacts.





2) Corner, Squatter’s Rights, Eliminate The Leadership, Take Prisoner, Set Up, Covert   Breakthrough, Dig Their Graves



               It’s been well over a year since I played Squatter’s Rights, and I’m struggling to remember the last time I did it with Neverborn. It may be reflective of this, then, that my first thought is “Ok, well, that means time for Sillurids.” I know they’re expensive and fragile, but they have Leap and they can handle their business for this strategy. Gupps supposedly can do the same job for cheaper, but 1) They also are even easier to kill and 2) I don’t own any of them. I’m tempted to try and lean into this even further, bringing a swamp fiend list with their From the Shadows upgrade. Maybe I could get a McTavish to carry the upgrade? Idk, that may be overkill since this is Flank Deployment. This is the one where I’ve got the least initial ideas. In any case, the Master and the other crew members will probably be busy fending off the enemy crew. I’m thinking the Titania and Barbaros crew, with Hoody as back-up. She’s free points for Dig Graves. Since Eliminate is in the pool, I’m thinking Pact with the Grave Spirit to help bring down the enemy Master.



Round 3) Flank, Headhunter, Eliminate The Leadership, Recover Evidence, Vendetta, Take One For The Team, Hold Up Their Forces



This one’s a pretty easy call, as Lynch with Cheating Bastard is made for Headhunter. Bringing in Beckoners who are able to cheat second on their Lures means, chances are, you’re not going to have to come far out of your comfort zone to drop some heads from the enemy. The rest of the crew would be hitters like the popular Hooded Rider/Nekima combination, or perhaps Stitched Together if my opponent makes me worried about shooting. Vendetta is in the pool again, so a Beckoner-Lure to get an easy 2 points at least is in play. I’m leaning towards Eliminate for the second scheme since I’m planning on doing a lot of killing anyways, though that would be dependent on who I’m facing. Dig Their Graves is also a strong option, since Cheating Bastard potentially lets you get some easy scheme markers down.





Round 5) Corner, Symbols of Authority, Punish The Weak, Dig Their Graves, Show Of Force, Search The Ruins, Take Prisoner



This one is going to require mobility and defense, so I’m thinking Lillith here. She and the Hooded Rider are there to play defense, using Root and oversized swords to discourage runners from getting to my Symbols markers. I haven’t had a chance to get Tuco back out since he became cheap enough to consider using, so he may be just as useless but for one stone less. However, placing him with From the Shadows behind a symbol that’s distant from the enemy crew seems like it could be useful to get one symbol down. The others will have to be acquired with a combination of crew mobility and/or Tangled Shadows. The crew typically brings a lot of enforcers and henchman, so again Show of Force is likely to be a good scheme choice. Lillith and Nekima are more than capable of scoring Punish the Weak if the enemy crew is vulnerable to it. I’m not a huge fan of Take Prisoner, as there just seems to be too many ways for it to go wrong during the game, but it’s probably my back-up plan if I don’t think Punish is going to work.



Round 4) Will be announced prior to Round 4 on Sunday.



You’ll notice that I skipped round 4, and that’s because we don’t know anything about it yet. part of Travis's personal plan to make Alex Schmid crazy (and I suppose test people's crew building abilities) is to make folks wait until Sunday morning to learn what the fourth round game will be. I left Collodi for this round, because he can be built to do most scheme pools and strategies and because he’s the master I know best out of the faction (outside of Lynch, I suppose, but I’ve had more recent experience with the Puppetmaster.) For the time being, I’ll leave the post like this with a blank here. Next Sunday, I’ll add an addendum here and in a new blog post updating it with how I would build a crew to respond to the actual scheme pool.