Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Divergent Paths p4 and Vassal M2e v2.2

We’re in the last legs of the Malifaux Divergent Paths event, and all in all things seem to be improving for our wayward newcomers. There were some real surprises this week in who won, and I imagine a couple of factions may be scrambling a bit to secure a hold on models they thought were thoroughly under their control. Phase 4 scenarios can be found here.

I would watch the hell out of a Malifaux based police procedural. Or "Better Call Amina." Just saying.
                The Self-Righteous Man is free! Well, more or less. He’s been cleared of his charges, due in part to the timely intercession of M&SU Lawyer Amina Naidu on his side. Now he’s been recruited to Ridley and is studying magic with Sandeep, having gained an interest in the Court Procedure magic used to bind his werewolf spirit. This week’s scenario features a similar idea to the Trickster’s Period 2 Scenario, with a series of Tome markers being scattered on the board. Models walk to the markers, pick them up and, unless they flip a crow to indicate it’s a worthless book, then try to deliver it to the SRM in the middle of the board. So, get your interacting Don’t Mind Me models ready. Additionally, the library puts a “Shh” condition on models that take Cast actions which will gradually do damage to them, meaning you’d probably better find some alternatives or some condition removal (why the librarians are cool with gunfire and swordfights is beyond me.) The Arcanists’ win in week 1 and 3 mean they’re likely at an advantage to end up with the SRM, but I would imagine the Guild could make a good run at it in week 4 and steal him. I’m pretty interested to see how the model turns out as, again, I love the Court Procedure magic style.

I was a little skeptical of the new Dreamer when I first read about it, but this art is turning me around. And, it makes me wonder about things that may be coming in the future...

                The Trickster was making a new friend this week as well, though the Dreamer isn’t quite as wholesome a friend as the Arcanist lawyer. On the other hand, he can wave his hand and create painkillers out of thin air for her, so I guess I can’t blame her. After going on a little pumpkin-smashing expedition, Nytemare imbued her with a bit of his power as a fail-safe incase Titania decides to off The Dreamer. For this week’s scenario, she’s decided to take some of those reality warping powers out for a spin, calling some Malifaux folks together for a fight with a crew that might not be ENTIRELY real. You hire a crew of 60SS, but then your opponent gets to pick two of your non-master models to REMOVE BEFORE THE GAME. You do the same for them, of course, but wow, that is intense! And as if that wasn’t chaotic enough, throw in blind deployment on top of it. Wowzers. The objective is to kill models near the Trickster in the center of the board every turn, and it’s going to be an interesting one. I think it will be key to build a crew of independent, strong models for this one. If your crew needs to have a lot of synergies to function, you’re going to struggle here. Also, you’re almost certainly going to end up playing at less than 50SS unless you build a crew with no models that cost more than 5SS. Gremlins and other spam type lists might be interesting for this, as well as a summoner master to replace your losses. Your mileage may vary. In any case, I imagine the Resurrectionists will be pretty interested in making sure they win this week with her to ensure the Neverborn don’t steal her away (and get the Ancestor trait tagged onto her as well.)

Pictured: not a nice person. Plus, has she always been able to talk to her arm?

                Finally, the kid. Rusty Alice followed a couple of puppets she found murdering a merc back to her hideout and was going to kill her and her teddybear, but Leveticus interceded on the girl’s behalf. He’s taken over her education and put her to work salvaging scrap for him, and that’s where you come in. This board will consist of two scrapyard markers on the outer edge of the board and the kid in the middle. You need to grab the scrap and then carry it to the kid in the center of the board for VP’s. So, again, lots of maneuvering and interacting required here, and crews that form one central murderball are going to have a harder time with this. It’s kind of like an extreme version of guard the stash. Expect lots of Neverborn activity here for the reasons mentioned above for the Trickster. I particularly enjoy the boosts that the kid may end up getting from this week, as they all basically involve her finding some kind of trash that from another Malifaux model that she’s going to adapt for herself, her Teddy, or her little marionette friends.


                Coincidental though the timing might be, I thought I’d walk you through some of the changes introduced with the new Vassal module v2.2 for Malifaux 2e. Ratty released this last week, and it improves things significantly from previous versions (and is very reassuring to those of us who wondered if maybe the module was not going to be updated again.)

                First of all, the puppet art is gone! I know a lot of people liked it, but it’s kind of dated (particularly given that Wyrd has sort of left Puppet Wars behind for the time being.) I think including the M2E stuff is a fantastic improvement! Additionally, the models now start off with all their wounds added to the model rather than having to be ticked on one by one before you start playing (this isn’t necessarily required, but it was considered good etiquette by most players to do this so your opponent could see how much more hitting a model required before it fell over.)

The gang's all here.

                Second, all the models from Ripples of Fate have been added to the module. So all the new crews, models, and…stuff? I don’t know, I ran out of things to put third on the list. But the point is, it’s all there ready to go. No need to wait for the models to be released, and no more throwing out “Generic 30mm base” and renaming it. Good times.

If you look at Asami, you can get an idea of how the new movement arrows work.

                Last, some quality of life changes. You can turn all the auras off with a simple command (CTRL+Period.) If you’ve played on Vassal enough, you know why this helps. You always have that one model with a 12” aura you turned on 3 turns ago, forgot about, and now can’t figure out how to remove or what size it is. The models have been rebuilt and the appearance of the arrow changed to stop them from wiggling so much. Essentially, the token always stays in the same orientation, but when you click on a token to move it there’s an arrow that rotates to show which way it will move. Plus, the Gaining Grounds 2016 strat and scheme cards are now available to be selected (it defaults to the book strats and schemes, but there’s a Gaining Grounds 2016 option in the drop-down to go find it.)

                So Vassalfaux is back and better than ever. If you get a chance, you should go look Ratty up on the forums or A Wyrd Place and tell him thank you for all his hard work. Use it, go play those Divergent Paths games, and let’s see where these crazy newcomers end up once all is said and done. 

Friday, October 14, 2016

Divergent Paths Phase 3

It’s stage three of the Divergent Paths storyline, and things have gotten kind of grim for some characters, and pretty interesting for some of the others. We'll discuss the results further down, but first a mini-game report chronicling my continued descent further into the embrace of the Whisper.

Seamus and Co. Getting Ready for a Gremlin hunt.
I got one more game in with Seamus since last week, this time actually in person! I traveled to my friend Evan (who runs a blog for some weird game called 40k. I’ve never heard of it, but if you have you should go check them out at Facing the Grey Tide.) The Rezzers have been chasing after the Trickster, and the guy I was playing against didn’t really care, so I did my bit for…Grave Spirit and country? I don’t know, whatever. I played against Ophelia in the Trickster scenario, which was a little bit like Headhunter where you picked up Corpse Counters and dropped them off with the Trickster in the middle of the board for VPs. I kind of screwed up and threw Seamus away early on to tie up the back-lines of the enemy crew, but Sybelle and Datsue Ba managed to hold the line against the enemy while my Belles and a Performer I had hired managed to go win the Strategy. Datsue is a pretty sweet hench who will likely be in many of my crews in the future, as she is versatile, brings in some more summoning, and can deal some real damage. I think I’ll throw both Seishin upgrades on her in the future, but she was very strong in this game with just the Spirit Whispers, and summoning a Seishin right up into Ophelia’s face on one turn was pretty critical. Also, the Copycat Killer is insanely strong and aggravating for its cost. It shot gremlins off the board, cancelled out an opponent’s Convict Labor marker, and then held his own against a piglet for the rest of the game. It was kind of silly. I do like the Bag o' Tools for the Scheme Marker drop and the ability to pass out peon, but I think Sinister Reputation might have been more useful in this. Punishing the Gremlins already low WP by lowering it would have been useful, although I did get some good mileage out of the Bag by throwing down Scheme Markers for Detonate the Charges. So, I managed to make sure the lady ended up staying in the employ of the Resurrectionists (much to her dismay...)

For weeks 5 and 6, the Self Righteous Man’s story took an interesting turn. He’d been rampaging in his wolfy form and killing folks until he was caught by a crew of Guild Lawyers, who used their law magic to tie away the creature in his mind and give him back some control. I was delighted to see this, as the Court Procedure school of magic is one of my favorites just because it’s one of the things that feels truly unique to Malifaux. Now, however, he’s on trial and you have to do a sort of shindig Story Encounter where you’re bribing the judge in his case. He’s been claimed by the Arcanists and the Guild on successive rounds. We’ll have to see where he ends up in the end.

The Trickster’s story got…a little dark this week. Doc McMourning killed her again and, when she reanimated, she found that he has removed her skin and given it to one of his nurses. So, that’s pretty rough. I felt a little guilty about that, particularly the discussion of the agonizing pain she is now in constantly, but thankfully the Whispers came along and told me that it’s all a part of the greater plan, so now I don’t feel bad anymore. Thanks voices in my head! Apparently she did finally escape the Doctor’s lab, claiming the skin of a guild guard of some kind and taking on her identity. This week’s scenario is kind of a modified Extraction scenario, wherein you have to bring her painkillers or perform healing flips on her to move her onto your side of the board. You score points for the strategy if she’s on your side of the board at the end of every turn after the first. This one feels the closest to one of the normal strategies, but will have you scrambling to figure out which models in your faction can perform healing flips (hint, Friekorps Librarians are mercs.) 

Finally, the Kid has continued to be influenced by the Neverborn. In addition to her teddy friend, she now has some marionette pals. However, she’s started to want to go find her parents (who are already in Malifaux.) The sinister toys are not so crazy about this idea, and are now going to try and find the kid’s parents and kill them off so she has to stay with them. Again, kinda dark. In this week’s story encounter, you pick a living model in your crew and attach a “possible parent” card to them. If you can kill the other crew’s “parent” you gain VPs based on the station of the model, IE 4 VPs for a master, 3 for a hench., etc. Obviously this would encourage you to hide your parent somewhere in the backfield, however the other side of the strategy is that you gain 1 point at the end of every turn where your parent is within 6” of the opponent’s deployment zone. So, definitely a kill-y game, but one where mobility will be important as well. There will be some tension between deciding between going for the steady points every turn and focusing on the kill. I’m curious to hear people’s plans for how to attack this scenario.

So, there’s two of the new models that, one could say, it will be difficult to pry away from their current influencers. The Rezzers and the Neverborn have won the Trickster and the Kid the first two weeks respectively, so as long as they maintain par there doesn’t seem to be much chance of stealing them away. However, the Self Righteous Man has been split between the Arcanists and the Guild. If I had one complaint about this event as compared to Nythera last year and Dead of Winter from back in the day, it’s that there’s no data available (that I’m aware of) for the other factions’ progress on any of these models. That makes organizing an attack sort of difficult and, in all likelihood, if someone else wins one of the two already locked up models this week they’ll just be handing an ability from their faction to the faction that’s already winning anyways. For instance, if the Rezzers win the Kid this week, Seamus gives the kid his hat. That’s nice and all, but the kid’s probably ending up with the Neverborn anyways, so why should we work to give the kid our hat? As such, if you’re from one of the three factions that hasn’t won any of the models yet, I have to think that your BEST bet is to go after the Self Righteous Man. Neither the Guild nor the Arcanists have managed a commanding lead on him (presumably. Again, we have no data.) So, Outcasts, Ten Thunders, and Gremlins, channel your inner Duran Duran, get hungry like the wolf, and go get that guy. For the other two, we'll just keep pressing our current advantages. Or do like I do, and just play games and be thankful that you got to get your cards out.

Later, folks.  

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Paths Diverged in a Wood

I'm a little late on this, for reasons mentioned below, but the  Divergent Paths event has started for Wyrd Miniatures. It runs through the fall, ala the Nythera event from 2015 (though without the Through the Breach component,) and chronicles the efforts by the factions to recruit three newcomers to their sides. There are story encounters the groups play to try and earn favor with them, and the factions that win the most times in the week influence the character and the story in some way on the subsequent weeks. When we reach the end, the models will be assigned to factions based on who scores the most influence over each and will be added to an upcoming Malifaux book accordingly.

In week 1 and 2, the Fancy Man was won by the Arcanists and, as such, Marcus and Co. have afflicted him with a form of Lycanthropy. The Trickster was killed and resurrected in the morgue by Malifaux's favorite doctor, who is now using her to fetch corpses for him. And, the kid has been recruited by the Neverborn after a Teddy saved her from Witch Hunters. Where things will go from here is up to us.


So, I think I made it clear that, after Gencon and the release of Ripples of Fate, I was pretty psyched for Titania. I bought the boxed set. It was first on my painting table when I got home. I may or may not have been playing test games with her several months prior. I was IN baby, declaring my allegiance to the Autumn Queen wherever I could do it.

And then nothing happened.

I don't know if it was burn-out from being involved in the testing. I don't know if it was just a post Gencon "I've been thinking and blogging about nothing but Wyrd for the last two months," fatigue. I'm certain that not having games of Malifaux to play had something to do with it as well. As such, when the Divergent Paths event started, I found myself not exactly sprinting to Vassal to get another game in with Jon. I've got the Queen painted, but I haven't done anything but prime the others. So, when I finally ended up with an evening to get in the aforementioned Vassal game, perhaps it should be no surprise that, when it came time to declare my faction, I turned on her and her Neverborn companions like a heel turn at Wrestlemania.

I didn't hit her with a chair, but I would have if necessary.
Sometimes you care about winning games and completing objectives, but sometimes you just want to watch the world burn. Nobody embodies this idea better than the Mad Hatter of Malifaux, Seamus. He's my favorite master in the game in terms of the means by which his flavor is translated to the tabletop. Back Alley is just amazingly flavorful and, oh yeah, also pretty darned good in the game. Just when you think you have your strategy set up and ready to launch, suddenly Seamus pops out of a dark corner, cackles at you, and unloads his stupid-big gun into the back of one of your minions' heads. It's beautiful, and it's oh-so-satisfying. I had previously used Sinister Reputation with him and not been overwhelmed by it (not necessarily underwhelmed either. Perhaps just whelmed.) As such, I decided to bust out the Bag o' Tools this game, particularly given that we were going to be focusing in a smaller area on the board.

Plus my Seamus has a Jack o' Lantern. Can't beat that!
A Seamus crew is typically more resilient than it should be (8 wd hard to wound Belles are just silly.) And that Lure thing is supposed to be pretty good too, or so I hear. As such, two of them are nearly an auto-include, along with their pal Sybelle. I've waxed back and forth on the cathouse madam in the past because I've felt that she doesn't carry her weight (not a fat joke) in melee. But, she does have a pretty solid ranged attack in Shriek that blasts, and I think maybe she's better in the backfield as a shotcaller for the Belles than in front mixing it up. For the rest of the crew, I wanted models that could stand up pretty well on their own, given that I often have Seamus teleporting around the board and causing trouble away from them. Towards this end, I decided to try out an idea which I'd heard online, which I call the Triangle Offense. It revolves around placing Unnerving Aura on three solid anchors that move together, forming a triangle of "Don't stand here" for the enemy. Towards this end, I put in Yin (whose main ability in the game is not dying) and the always charming Anna Lovelace, who already has her own disruptive auras and who provides some much needed card draw for the crew in the form of Rush of Magic. Toss in a nurse for flavor, and we've got a crew.

I found myself playing Seamus in the Divergent Paths' scenario regarding the Wolfman running around and rampaging. It was a bit like Extraction, except you scored by having scheme markers within 3" of the marker at the end of the turn, and the marker occasionally leaps at you and tries to kill you. Fun times. My crew was this:

Seamus: Red Chapel Killer, Bag O' Tools, 4SS
Sybelle: Not too banged up, Unnerving Aura
Anna Lovelace: Unnerving Aura
Yin: Unnerving Aura
Rotten Bellex2
Copycat Killer

Schemes: Covert Breakthrough, Show of Force

Jon was playing Yan Lo (who I keep trying to call Shenlong. Also, before you ask, yes he had successfully attached the beard, so he deserves the T-Shirt.) His crew had the Emissary, Terracotta Warrior, Oiran (Yan Lo was carrying her upgrade,) Lone Swordsman, a Ten Thunders Brother, and the Soul Porter. The board was the End of the Line map hosted on Before We Begin's website. It's unbalanced and I won the toss and snatched the bottom left corner. Sybelle and the Belles spent most of the game in the building, alternating between Luring and Shrieking at models outside. The Mysterious Emissary and Lone Swordsman fell victim to some early lures and Seamus Back Alleying. I had some pretty solid luck on turn two with my hand and attack flips (two "With a Flourish" triggers on the swordsman in the same turn=no hand for Jon.) In the end, I was well on my way to tabling the other crew at the end of turn 3, and we decided to call it a win there.

As I said, I enjoyed Seamus quite a bit, and I'm thinking I'll play him more in recent weeks. Sybelle as a backfield supporter worked better than I expected, but it does mean maybe she's not as good of a point on the triangle as I wanted. That said, the Triangle itself  actually did tick a few wounds, so I think there's something there. The nice thing about it is that none of the triangle points are completely vital (Sybelle might be close, though,) so I can fiddle with them. I've heard good things about using Datsue Ba to summon Seishin, who can then teleport off to Seamus wherever he is and provide him some support. Or there's always throwing in Hannah to bring the wonder twins (I know, they're sisters not twins, I don't care.) Double Rush of Magic is probably pretty good, if you're into that.

I don't know that I really did much for the Rezzers in Divergent Paths, since they seem to be going after the Trickster, but I guess I played spoiler (which is more or less what the Hatter would enjoy anyways.) I think I'll definitely give him some run in the future. Maybe through Halloween? We'll see.