Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Fear and Loathing with the Ortega Family

I spent most of last week struggling with Pandora, trying to get my head wrapped about what she is supposed to do in games now, with limited success. Wrabbit37 expressed some views on how this should work now, and I’ve adopted some of them, including the use of the Fears Given Form upgrade on both Pandora and Candy to essentially utilize their 3” melee bubbles to create zones of area denial around them, enabling some significant control and denial for your opponents. This happens at the expense of what the old crew did, which was pound WP attacks relentlessly to get the most out of Pandora’s Misery ability and the free wounds, which is a more-or-less inevitable adjustment for the current model as her 6 CA will struggle a bit going up against WP in a lot of cases. As such (and because I received my Evil Baby Orphanage Kickstarter reward models) I refocused the crew to test out some of this new stuff.
Given that the crew utilizes Self-Loathing and Fears Given Form upgrades extensively, it seems only logical for the crew name to continue to be…


Date of Rules 6/20
SS 35
Deployment Standard
Strategy Squatter's Rights
Scheme Pool LitS, Bodyguard, Protect Territory, Make them Suffer, Breakthrough
Game Time: 2 hrs.

Master 1 Pandora
VPs Strategy 3, Bodyguard 3, Make them Suffer (Announced) 0

Master 2 Perdita
VPs Strategy 1, Bodyguard 0, Protect Territory 0

Fear and Loathing Crew
Pandora (Fears Given Form, The Box Opens)
Candy (Fears Given Form)
Primordial Magic

So I’m playing against Guild (again) who know that I’m playing Pandora (again) and I get a very strong suspicion early on that I’m going to be getting Perdita, her family, and her ancestral Aura thrown at me (again). And sure enough…

Ortegas Crew
Perdita (Ancestral Aura, Vengeance Bullet)
Francisco (Armor 1, something else)
Santiago (Destreza Master)
Enslaved Nephilim

Ah well. I guess this is me paying penance for 1e Pandora…

Plans: Given my suspicions that it would be Ortegas coming for me, I knew they wouldn't have very many minions or peons, so “Make them Suffer” seemed like a logical choice. In retrospect, it's one that is probably best not to announce, as the opponent can hide their stuff from you (as happened in game) to deny you all 3 points. Basically, I was planning on taking one flank and castling up to make the opponent come dislodge me while I scored VPs every turn for Squatter’s Rights and Bodyguard. Of course, Perdita is playing Protect Territory, so she may just as likely castle up herself and we can sit on opposite ends of the board glaring at each other. I was gambling that wasn't going to happen, I suppose.

The Perdita player’s plan was fairly clever, in that she basically laid out a 4” equilateral triangle of scheme  markers in her half of the board for protect territory, which she could then score pretty easily assuming anyone was still alive. She misunderstood that you can’t call your leader for bodyguard, so on turn 3 she discovered that she was going to have to change plans, which ended up being a problem.

Game Synopsis

Turn 1 consisted of positioning and me remembering why we don’t put height 3 or taller terrain in deployment zones, as a vantage pointed Nino started off pecking at Teddy with a shot. 0-0

Turn 2 Santiago moved into melee with Teddy, both to get in close and to extend Nino’s disruption of Interact actions to lay over the top of both of my Squatter markers. Between Teddy and Kade we drop Santiago to his Hard to Kill. Francisco moves in with Face Me to push Santiago out to safety and take his place. Pandora tries to use the attack from the Box Opens, since it targets defense, to  minimal effect, before walking  so Candy won’t have to take the DF 14 duel from Fears given Form. Candy flips a squatter marker, moves, heals Teddy. ‘Dita drops some the three markers and flips a Squatter thing between her AP and the Nephilim (presumably he was interacing with Santiago or Francisco to do this. I don’t remember.) 0-0

Turn 3 ‘Dita Red Joker shoots the now exposed Pandora and then shoots her again. Pandora dies. Adam is sad. I console myself by killing Francisco and then flipping my second squatter marker. Santiago runs and flips another marker for the Ortegas. Teddy chases him, attempts to use Gobble You Up, and fails because it’s defended with WP and Santiago is an Ortega. Teddy walks into melee instead, accompanied by the sad Incredible Hulk hitch hiking music. Candy follows to console him (and get Santiago inside her engagement range.) End of turn I declare bodyguard on Candy. We discover that Perdita can’t be the target of bodyguard and, given that S. is going to die in a moment only Nino is a legal and/or wise target for it. As such, 2-1 is the score.

Turn 4 ‘Dita shoots some stuff. Kade offs Santiago. Teddy turns his attentions to Perdita and drops a Red Joker hug on her but doesn’t kill her. Nino tries to scramble down from terrain so he can get away from the deployment zone and score for Bodyguard. The Enslaved Neph runs away so I can’t kill it. Candy flips the enemy squatter marker to be friendly. 4-1

Turn 5 Dita relocates out of melee with Teddy. Shoots him some. Nino finishes him off. Baby team hunkers down. 6-1

Lessons Learned: This game had 3 different Red Joker damage flips, which makes judging things about what happened in the game tricky since there was a lot of flukiness. That said…frickin’ Pandora dies on turn 3?!?

 *expletive deleted*

Oh well, I had considered playing with Candy as a Henchman leading the crew, so I guess this was my chance. Teddy and Kade mauled the hell out of stuff in this game. I had underestimated the beating Kade can lay out when paired up with Teddy, especially if he hits that Sweetbreads trigger (4/5/8 damage spread? Good lord.) It’s always a little tricky to gauge what effect Candy has on the game, given that her most effective abilities rarely go off because the opponent will alter their activation order to avoid them (which is the idea behind the model) but she didn’t feel like she was all that involved in the game. The only casts she did all game were goody baskets to heal Teddy. Basically, her function in the crew outside of this was A) Don’t die and B) Flip Squatter markers. Admittedly, this won me the game, but it’s not as if no one else could have handled that job. I do think that the enemy crew being a ranged group probably played a part in this as well, as the enemy was much less likely to start in melee with me.

I have a hard time rationalizing why I would want Pandora over Lillith with the Fears Given Form and Thirsty Mandrake upgrades. You’re trading mobility, I suppose, but you have a much more balanced model who attacks at 7 and goes after defense, which is on average lower than WP. If you give her the transfixing gaze, you can pull enemies to you. Kade has Lure for some other tricky synergy. Basically you’re losing the ability to Incite into controlling models (which is huge, obviously) but that’s…kind of it, unless there’s something I’m missing here.

Aaaanyways, here’s some pictures of models I painted.

Baby Kade/Copycat Killer/Jack the Ripper

Candy/Student of Conflict/Lizzie Borden

Eric the Red/Desperate Mercenary

Teddy to come in the future. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Fear and Loathing in the Badlands, Pandora v. Lillith 30SS

Quick game report detailing a Pandora v. Lillith game.

Rules 13/6/13
30 SS
Strategy: Squatter's Rights
Deployment: Flank
Scheme pool: Line in the sand, Distract, Breakthrough, Plant Explosives, Power Ritual

Crew 1: Pandora (Nexus, Box Opens, -Flip to WP upgrade, 4SS)
              2  Sorrow
              Primordial Magic

Strategy: 2 vp
Scheme 1 Breakthrough (announced) 1 vp
Scheme 2:Plant Explosives (announced) 0 vp

Crew 2: Lillith (Gaze, Sword upgrade, base cache)
             3 Tots
             Barbaros (Crushing upgrade thing)
             Primordial Magic

Strategy: 2 vps
Scheme 1: Breakthrough (announced) 3 vps
Scheme 2: Power Ritual 3 vps

8-3 to Lillith

Key Data from the game:
I was beaten essentially from crew construction here, as I was building a crew with the Doppleganger and Waldgeist with sorrows to try and castle the middle of the board and then break for the deployment zone at the end, figuring I could drop a marker for plant explosives and get points when the inevitable clash happened, while my opponent took the obvious synergy of breakthrough and power ritual and basically built a Tot, Barbaros, Lillith crew to scrambled for the corners with the tots while Lillith and Barbaros chopped through my crew in the center. Sprint did what it does here, with Power Ritual essentially completed at the end of the first turn. I was going to need some card help to even try to make this competitive, and I didn't get it. Barbaros and Pandora were on even card flips when she attacked him, which really didn't feel right (insert perpetual grumbling about Pandora's cast of 6 here). Barbaros stood in and weathered the whole crew for a turn, having one wound remaining but then pushing all my models off with his crash ability to slow me down from taking squatter tokens and then being saved by Lillith with Tangled Shadows to avoid Sorrow death. While I did manage to kill Lillith, she had ostensibly butchered all my sorrows, my waldgeist, and my doppleganger before I could get it done. In the end I had Pandora running but not able to drop a breakthrough marker and the Primordial Magic in the enemy deployment zone, counting for 1.

Pandora's crew needs a heavy hitter like Teddy, I think, as you really can't rely on her to kill things in any kind of timely manner. Gone are the days of just being able to trust that she's going to accomplish the things I send her to do at the beginning of the turn, which is partially me still adjusting to the new soulstone use rules and partially my continued frustration with her less than stellar CA. I was also hurt by the lack of ranged symbol on anything in Lillith's crew, as it meant using Pandora at range meant throwing the spell that needs two masks or the one that targets defense, neither of which were optimal since I was trying to play with a smaller SS pool and the Lillith crew has much higher defense than Willpower. Pair that up with an opponent who played very intelligently in managing Pandora's Terrifying by essentially ignoring her and attacking other things in Lillith's melee range and me playing on tilt for most of the game out of frustration (seriously, a hand of ace, four, four, eight, nine, and black joker on turn 2?), and you have the formula for a pretty one-sided match.

I did enjoy using the Doppelganger, though I don't know if it's really worth 7 stones. I do wish the model had instinctual, as the choice between using Mimic or her - flips ability basically means the difference between life and death for this model versus being able to actually play her as a Doppelganger and steal spells. Poor hands made the Initiative cheating essentially useless. Stealing misery loves company from a sorrow, however, made for some fun maneuverability, as I jumped up onto a tot who was guarding one of the squatter tokens and flipped it for my team, since she can do interacts while engaged.

Maybe I need to give Pandora  a break and try some of the other Neverborn masters while I gather my thoughts, as Zoraida would have undoubtedly been better at this scenario and Lillith demonstrated pretty effectively how much trouble she could cause in this one. I'm doing a lot of complaining in this when, bottom line, I was just out played in this game. A heavy swampfiend crew with Sillurids, Juju, and Big Z could have made for some amusing times, I'm thinking, and done a better job of chasing down those markers. More testing required, I suppose.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Malifaux 2nd Edition Beta Playtesting and Game Thoughts

I’ve begun playtesting Malifaux 2nd Edition, playing two games with the 6/7 rules set and one game from the most recent. I will try to keep these brief so that we aren’t here all day, and try to wrap up with some points on the matter.

Date of rules played 6/9/13
SS Amount 40
Deployment Type Standard
Strategy Reconnoiter
Available Schemes Assassinate, Line in the Sand, Cursed Object, Breakthrough, Capture

Master 1 McMourning (Guild)
Scheme 1 Line in the Sand
Scheme 2 Cursed Object
VPs earned, Reconnoiter 1, Line in the Sand 3, Cursed Object 0

Master 2 Sonnia
Scheme 1 Line in the Sand (Hidden)
Scheme 2 Cursed Object
VPs earned, Reconnoiter 4, Line in the Sand 2, Cursed Object 0

Additional optional information:
Time it took to complete the game 90 Minutes
Crew compositions 
McMourning (The three mcmourning guild upgrades) , Sebastian (Lead-Lined Jacket), Zombie Chihuahua, 2 Nurses, Death Marshal

Thoughts on the game
Key Turn(s) in the game

Turn 2 Sonnia was whittled down nearly to nothing between McMourning and Sebastian, Sebastian's catalyst was going to finish her off, due to initiative lined it up so McMourning would push out of 6 damage blast but blast kills Sebastian, Witchling, and a Death Marshal. Was in good shape at this point and was going to weather a rapid-fire from Sam Hopkins the next turn, but a red joker damage flip kills McM and leaves me playing for schemes.

Date of rules played 6/12/13
SS Amount 40
Deployment Type Flank
Strategy Reckoning
Available Schemes Line in the Sand, Distract, Entourage, 

Master 1 Pandora 
Scheme 1 Distract (Hidden)
Scheme 2 Entourage (Revealed)
VPs earned Reckoning 0 Distract 2 Entourage 0

Master 2 Perdita 
Scheme 1 Line in the Sand
Scheme 2 Entourage (Revealed)
VPs earned, Reckoning 1, Line in the Sand 3, Entourage 3

Additional optional information:
Time it took to complete the game 2 Hours (playing against someone relatively inexperienced with M2E stuff.

Thoughts on the game
-Ancestral Aura was key for Perdita. I spent most of the game dancing around a 4 Ortega bubble, trying to lure them out or find a way to do any damage. Pandora's AOE spell on the four of them failed to do any wounds twice in a row. 
-Was playing on a board with not enough area terrain to prevent Ortega shooting advantage. Candy was getting plinked by Nino on turn one. Burned through most of our soulstones turn one, rest on turn 2. Candy dead before anything could really happen on turn2.
-Sorrows were good! Admittedly, opponent seemed more concerned about Pandora but more than once it took some fancy footwork to avoid Francisco dying when activating. 8" move is very good. Was how I put distract up.

Rules: 6/13

Deployment: Flank
Strategy: Turf War
Schemes: Bodyguard, Plant Explosives, Breakthrough, Entourage

Line in the Sand (Announced), Plant Explosives 
VPS 7 (4 from Turf War, 3 from Plant Explosives)

Somer Teeth
Line in the Sand (Announced), Bodyguard
VPs 5 (2 from Turf War, 1 from Bodyguard, 2 from Line in the Sand)

Thoughts on the game
Mcmourning-Badge, On the Clock, Plant Evidence
Francisco-Wade In, Healing
Sebastian-Lead Lined Coat
Witchling Stalker
2 Austringers

Somer with Can O' Beans, Quality Mash, Family Tree, and a soulstone cache of 6
Lenny with I'll Love It and Pet It
4 bayou gremlins
2 mosquitos
1 hog whisperer
3 piglets

Key Turn(s) in the game
My witchling did very little in the game, as I underestimated the long range bayou gremlins now have and he was shot to death on the first couple turns. I did, however, enjoy the drawn to pain trigger as a means of running them into the enemy before they blow up. Nurse ended up tied up by a skeeter. Austringers owned this game, as no shooting symbols and long ranges with no LoS meant they could peck the enemy crew to death from the other end of the board, while engaged, with almost no effort. Skeeter farts are resisted with WP for some reason, and they have 7WP to resist. Legit, possibly too good. Sebastian was ok, but again I was not overwhelmed by his contributions. I was denied turning the enemy’s scheme markers into my own to accomplish Line in the Sand by getting caught by disengaging strikes from Somer and the gremlin player accidentally putting one of their markers off of the center line, meaning after I flipped it to friendly it still didn’t give me two markers. Also, Francisco tanked three piglets and the hog whisperer all on his own. Francisco is also very legit.

Malifaux 2.0 So Far
I’ve been trying to play McMourning since I just completed my own Mad Doctor’s degree and, as such, it’s a way to live vicariously in the troublesome world of Malifaux. What this is doing to me now, however, is making it so I’m playing with a very different character every week. I’m supposed to be staying out of melee with him, I’m told, and use him as a support master…yeah, that hasn’t happened so far. He doesn’t lay the beatings out like he used to, but I needed to get him up into the enemy’s face to get the mission done in both games. I think having the Badge of Office may have changed the first game with Jon’s ultimate result, as I could throw that red joker shot down to 1 and then dash up and cut Sam to pieces. I’m almost to the point of just throwing out the Poison mechanic as something I’m even going to bother with at this point, as even with catalyst I’m not seeing enough damage go by to actually make it worthwhile. That said, I haven’t really gotten the chance to see it shine yet, and Sebastian’s ability to make it tick for 3 damage a click might make a difference (it didn’t happen that way in the third game, as yet again Sebastian was pummeled to death early and stupid Lenny is immune to conditions, so no poison.) I can see the viability in the nurses and I’ve done some cool things with them, but it just hasn’t fallen together in the games I’ve played with her so far. More meaningful testing will be required before I can really make a conclusion there.

Pandora was a real mixed bag of a game. First of all, I was in the worst case scenario as I was going up against a Perdita opponent who KNEW I WAS PLAYING PANDORA. As such, I have the Ancestral Aura upgrade, which is mediocre when you don’t know who you have to play against, making the enemy Ortegas all at least a WP of 7, meaning I’m running uphill from the word go and would find myself at various points in the game failing to successfully cast anything during certain turns of the game (I did her AoE spell twice in a row hitting all four non-explosive Ortegas, along with an Incite, and the enemy failed no WP duels.) Pair that up with playing on a forested board with not a ton of area cover to protect my crew from shooting and flank deployment where the Ortegas will be shooting at us on turn one, and we have a formula for trouble. This is confirmed when Nino and Perdita are shooting Candy immediately and she is dead at the beginning of turn 2. That said, I still came within a breath of pulling this thing off, with Santiago pulling Francisco out of 2 Sorrows’ grasp that would have killed him upon activation on Turn 3. The Neverborn upgrade where they heal with soulstone use would have been pretty clutch in this game, but I put it on Candy instead of Pandora since I was unaware that auras now affect the model emitting them. Whoops, lesson learned for next time. Sorrows were a rather pleasant surprise in this game, as their Misery Loves Company gives them some impressive mobility, particularly paired with Distract. The real key to this crew seems to really be controlling enemy activations, a lesson I didn’t exactly glom onto until I was about halfway into the game. I didn’t want to be the ambush guy and take over Francisco with Candy and, so, allowed the player to finish their activation and was going to explain the rules for that afterwards. This, of course, didn’t happen since Francisco and Perdita then companion chained to kill Candy. Oh well, another lesson learned. This game was also when I discovered the real potency Francisco brings to the game, between his additional mobility granted to the crew, his difficulty in killing, and the passing out of defenses to the crew. Very, very impressive model now, and very nearly an auto-include for most Guild crews I would have to think.