Thursday, February 13, 2014

ToMB Week 0: Musing on the Tale of Malifaux Bloggers

A number of members of the Malifaux amateur reporting community (bloggers) have joined together into a project based on the White Dwarf Tale of Four Gamers articles, wherein several Warhammer Fantasy players built armies from the ground up, doing a series of stories on learning how the armies played, detailing the progress of their painting and assembly, and gradually scaling up from a starter army to a full sized force. With the release of Wave 2 and, moreover, it not being particularly long since the release of M2E in general, it was suggested by the organizers of the Tale ofMalifaux Bloggers (ToMB) that it would perhaps be a good time for the blogosphere (I feel dirty writing that) to focus on starting new Malifaux crews as a guide to those precious souls coming Through the Breach to join us.

I signed up, as I think this is a great idea, and the first question was who exactly to play. The general plan is that we get $60 of “money” to start out a new crew, either buying it in real life or using it as an approximation for beginning with a crew we had already purchased and haven’t worked with yet. As it happens, I have a couple such crews. My wife did a pretty impressive job of painting a Collette crew, considering it was some of the first models she had ever done, but I don’t like mixing paint styles in the same crew and Jen isn’t really interested in learning the game. Similarly, I own a Dreamer and Nightmare Lord Chompy Bits that have sat in my paint drawer forever (not that I have anything against them, it’s just that the model is intimidating enough that I’m not sure what exactly to do with it.) I discounted them as well, however, as I’ve used a number of the non-Dreamer models before in other Neverborn crews, so I’m not sure it really would honor the spirit of the endeavor. Not to mention the fact that Nightmare LCB sells on E-Bay for about $200 on the right day, so I’d just about have enough budget for him at the end of the project if I started saving now.

Fortunately I have a third option, and I think it’s a good one. A few years ago a friend I had tried to lure into the game decided he wanted out and sold me his models. One of those crews was C. Hoffman, and I think that he’s going to be my subject for the project. I’ve only gotten him out on the table once in 1.5 Malifaux. I wasn’t involved in playtesting him. His models aren’t painted (mostly.) I didn’t even do a lot of Theoryfauxing with him. Plus, when I’m done, that will leave Lucius as the only Guild master I’m missing. So wins all around for working with the Hoff.

Wave 2 Hoffman Theoryfaux

Well, first of all, the link to the Wave 2 models’ finalversions is released and available to the public on Wyrd’s newly designed website. His main themes have always been his interaction with and modification of the constructs in his crew, with Hoff’s newly discovered abilities upon coming through the breach giving him unparalleled mental ability to assimilate constructs via the magic of Malifaux. Previously, Hoffman would tend to clump all the constructs together into a group that would shuttle him across the board, forming a group that was alternately described as the Hoffman-ball or the Death Star by certain folk. This theme is still in place, but with a few new twists. One of these comes in the form of the “Power Loop” condition which he acquires and can pass on to other models in his crew when he activates, allowing everything with the condition to use a different model’s Df, Wp, Ca, Sh, or Ml in place of its own when performing duels. His Ca can go up by two points if two constructs are within four inches of him, and he has a defense trigger that lets him use the Armor value of constructs around him when he takes damage. So, without even flipping his stat card over to the attacks and tactical actions, you can see that Hoff wants to be in the midst of one or more constructs during the majority of the game. Luckily, his Magnetic ability lets him push into base to base with them when they take walk actions that start within 3” of him, meaning you aren’t going to use his AP for walking unless things have gone horribly, horribly wrong.

Now, what are you going to do while you’re running around with all these constructs? Well, he keeps a version of his previous ability, named Machine Puppet, wherein he can make a nearby construct take a 1 AP action, typically attacks. The range has been extended out to 6”, however, so this opens up the options a bit and gives him some good flexibility both for offense and spreading scheme markers. Additionally he has gained what I think is his coolest option, Update Hardware, which comes from his Field Mechanic limited upgrade. Hoff is able to use this to attach a set of Upgrades known as Modifications to constructs around him, giving them Armor+1, letting them drop scheme markers with fewer AP, giving them Nimble, or giving them a ram to their attacks (typically this results in bigger damage or nastier conditions from all and sundry Guild constructs.) I like this. I have a feeling that figuring out how to spread the upgrades around for the greatest amount of effectiveness (you can only attach the Modifications to one model at a time) and, moreover, how to spend Hoff’s AP during the turn, will be the greatest challenge with learning this crew, particularly as Hoffman will be my first true support master in either version of the game. I’ll get into more strategy breakdown as we go along.

So, where are we beginning? I suppose we need to do some math first to determine how much we’ll have available to buy with this first month’s budget. Well, the Constructs of Order box set is listed on Wyrd’s web store at $37.00, so that seems an obvious place to start. This will give me a real mixed bag of constructs, as it contains a Watcher, a Guardian, and a Hunter along with the Hoff, and leaves me with $23 to spend. So, now, hmm, what to do with that last bit of cash?

As if there was ever a question.

Ok, look. I know the thing costs $25 and that leaves me $2 over. I don’t care, and this is my article so you can deal with it. Hoffman needs his ride. A Hoffman crew with no Peacekeeper is like a Seamus crew with no Belles: you can do it, but it just isn’t right. I’ll deduct the remaining two from next month’s budget and we’ll call it square.

Obviously, at first glance, I’m concerned with this crew’s ability to score any points that don’t involve smashing things. They’re right at 30 points with what I have here, so in a 30SS game I’m only going to have Hoff’s 3SS cache (does he need them? I guess we’ll find out. He’s the only one in this crew that can use them, after all.) The Watcher is built much more for supporting ranged attacks in M2E, so its main use will be objective running in this group. I imagine that, at least early on, we’ll see an M2E version of the old-school bread-and-butter Hoff-ball (so many hyphens!) with the Peacekeeper, Hoff, and the Guardian rolling together in a clump and smashing faces with the Hunter harrying flanks and the Watcher…doing Watcher-y stuff. I note that the Watcher has a Wk of 6 and Hoff no longer has a size requirement for Magnetism, so a Watcher with the Nimble upgrade could give the main man some real speed when necessary.

Anyway, this is turning into a stream-of-consciousness rant, so it’s time to bring this thing to a close until I get some table time or some painting done. Until next time!

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