Saturday, December 31, 2016

News Briefs and Treacherous Allies Team Tournament Report

We’ll have a few quick news bits, then dive into a tournament report from Raliegh, NC on 12/17/16, the first team tournament featuring your two esteemed bloggers working as a team!

-First, a couple of weeks ago Aaron Daarland released a plan to alter the rate at which Malifaux Errata would be released in the future, and brought out the January 2017 Errata. These changes included changes that players have been asking for (in some cases) for a while now. Austringers getting their ranges reduced I assume most players are ok with seeing, as well as Rotten Belles having their cast brought down into only very good ranges rather than ridiculous. Daydreams got a little softening as well. Some other models got buffed. Go check out the file. I’m not a great crunch guy, but I might go through and write up a more in-depth breakdown later.

-Shortly thereafter the new Gaining Grounds 2017 document dropped. Schemes were shuffled some rules changed. I’ll probably save an in-depth breakdown for its own post, but you can go check it out here.


And now, on to the tournament report!
A few weeks prior, Jon had asked me if I wanted to team up with him for the Treacherous Allies tournament at Atomic Empire games store in Durham, NC. This was part of the program organized by the Southeastern Malifaux Players Group of some renown, which is led by the lovely and, of course, sassy Sasslady herself, Dawn McCormack Plunge.

Photographic Proof

If you’re in the area and can go check it out, Atomic Empire is worth the trip. I’m a bit of a bumpkin, but its easily the biggest game store I’ve ever visited. They have snacks. They have a bar. They have more games than you’ve ever seen. Go check it out.
The format for Treacherous Allies was, as I understand it, fairly standard for doubles tournaments. Each player on a team builds a crew with a master and 35SS each round from the same faction. Your models are considered friendly to each other. It’s not balanced and it’s not meant to be. Weird stuff happens in these types of games (more on this later.) You pick who is going first and second in your team every round and alternate activations. So, if one team has players A and B and the other has players 1 and 2, you could go A,1,B,2 in one round and could switch it up to B,2,A,1 in the next. So, basically you have a 70SS crew with two masters and two brains trying to pilot it. What could go wrong!?!
We decided to go with Ten Thunders as they are Jon’s jam and I know Lynch fairly well. Our team was team “Let Me Know When You’re Finished Ten Thundering,” after a sentiment expressed by one of Jon’s opponents after much bewildering tossing of upgrades and various Asian themed nonsense. Dawn was of course thrilled to have to read it out every round. The general themes that came into our games every round revolved around our two halves complimenting each other rather than directly synergizing. Basically, McCabe was there to make something like the Dawn Serpent have reactivate with a super cool sword and the Terracotta Warrior buffing it to protect it from damage. Meanwhile, Lynch would be doing Lynch things, and Promises was there to make Hungering Darkness and any other Enforcers with upgrades we brought in work even better. And Jon's side would have Sensei Yu so he could use Lynch's Mulligan, giving both crews the ability to use it.

Rd. 1 Interference/Flank Deployment/Search the Ruins, Leave your Mark, Exhaust their Forces, Detonate the Charges, and Convict Labor.

Battle in the Bayou: Moments after a very ill-fated charge action.

This round we played against two men named Jon playing Team Spidercide (Arcanists) We were building to exploit the Strangemetal Shirt and the toughness of Illuminated and Depleted, tossing the shirt on one of them to pass out Armor +2 to everyone around them with the Black Flash reactivate from McCabe. Seemed like a pretty good game plan at the time. Our opponents were bringing Ironsides with a cadre of the Oxfordian Mages and an Ice Dancer and Ramos with Joss, Howard, and…some Howard things? I don’t remember. We took Search the Ruins for a bit of counter-play and Detonate the Charges because why not. It’s Detonate the Charges.
When I say we HAD a battle plan, what I mean is we had one for the first round of the game or so. We had also planned on tossing the Torekage the sword from McCabe so he could use it with his “Works Best Alone” + flip to dish out some hurt, before giving the designated Illuminated the Armor and Reactivate. The Illuminated did his bit, put out his bubble of armor, and the pack moved up. Ironsides, Joss with all the Oxfordian Mage buffs, and the mages themselves mean-mugged our pack of drug-addled freaks over a hill. Meanwhile, the Ice Dancer and the Torekage faced off on the side of the board.  I have to imagine that looked like a Crouching Tiger style dance-fight. Would make a cool fan film.
Where it all went wrong was when we won initiative round 2 and sent our Illuminated charging over the hill to try and get a cheap kill on Ironsides. We hurt her badly, but underestimated the damage Joss was going to do back to us, as well as the fact that one of the buffs from the Mages made him immune to Brilliance so Lynch couldn't just run up and delete him. We threw everything we had at the Arcanist firebase, but our forces withered under Joss's electrical axes and a storm of Furious Casting. Meanwhile, the Ice Dancer and Torekage mutually dropped detonate the charges markers on each other. Huggy engaged Howard and killed him before he could do too much damage, but Ramos then flooded Huggy with Spiders, effectively neutralizing him for the remaining turns (and allowing them to score for Exhaust their Forces. Whoops.) McCabe moved to stop the Joss-gernaught that was coming for us (or at least hold him at bay) but we realized we were in trouble going into turn 3, which the clock told us would be the last turn.
So, time to start being the dirty criminals our faction is. We gave up on whittling Joss down (we almost got him, but were 1 AP short and he reactivated and healed,) and instead focused on objectives. The Torekage dashed into the middle along with Lynch to throw down some quick scheme markers and to delete the now assembled Spider Swarm, which I knew could erase our scheme markers pretty readily. McCabe held on valiantly but was ultimately killed. On the last activation of the game, Sensei Yu dashed into the middle to throw down another scheme marker and complete Search the Ruins. Thankfully, our opponents didn’t figure out what we were doing to stop us and so, on the last activation of the game, we got ahead by 1 VP and stole it. This would become a theme as the day went on.

Round 2: Collect the Bounty/Standard/Occupy Their Turf, Leave Your Mark, Frame for Murder, Hunting Party, and Convict Labor

Which Huggy is the real one? Hint: not the one whose crew also contained a Doppelganger and 2 Changelings.

Our opponents were the Autumn Nightmares, a Neverborn crew played by Sam and Kevin. Our game plan was to use Beckoners to draw the enemy across the board to us, where Hungering Darkness, Lynch, and an over-clocked Dawn Serpent could score from safety. The board was not super-cooperative in this endeavor, as we had a pretty wide open graveyard board, but there was a fence and gate on the very back edge of our deployment zone we hid behind to form our base. The enemy was using Neverborn flavored Lynch with some Illuminateds and Changelings paired with Lillith, McTavish, a Doppleganger, and some Waldgeists. I brought Lynch, HD, Mr. Graves for some more movement shenanigans, a Depleted, and 2 beckoners. Jon had McCabe, the Dawn Serpent, Yu, Terracotta Warrior, and a low river monk. Our schemes were Frame for Murder on the Depleted and Hunting Party. So, basically, we had a drug war on our hands.
The enemy didn’t have a ton of ranged outside of McTavish, so we knew we had a good chance of making the plan work. A Waldgeist ended up in our DZ early between lures and Neverborn tricks and gave us a first opportunity to score a hunting party point, but McCabe hit it too hard and killed it himself. Ultimately, the game boiled down to a 2-sided fight, our right flank where McCabe and the Dawn Serpent tag-teamed with one of my Beckoners to draw Illuminated down and try to kill them, while our left side featured Graves, Lynch, HD, and the other Beckoner dealing with the other enemies. Our chump Depleted bravely (or foolishly?) ventured forth and was drawn into Lillith’s melee range by Tangled Shadows, but they gave me a bit of a scare by acting like they were going to kill him with an Illuminated rather than the Master herself. Thankfully, the enemy’s Hungering Darkness obligingly killed him off so we could score. The left flank combat was a money-maker for us in terms of hunting party and Bounties, but things got a little dicey when Lillith disengaged, hopped across the board, and nearly killed Jacob Lynch after he overextended to finish off a Lured-forward McTavish. Thankfully, Mr. Graves saw what was coming and obligingly ran forward to smash Mr. Lynch’s skull in with his fence-post, thereby denying the enemy the Bounty points. This one got a little dicey at points, but between the high-value targets we took out on the left, bounty points scored by our Huggy, and the reactivated/terracotta warrior buffed Dawn Serpent picking off Illuminated, we won relatively comfortably.

Round 3 Head Hunter/Corner Deployment/Undercover Entourage, Leave Your Mark, Quick Murder, Take Prisoner, Convict Labor.

Pictured: An ugly-ass mess.

Against team Insert Winning Team Name Here (Ray and Jim) and their Arcanists, we thought we would go with a similar game-plan to what we used previously, tossing out the same crew list but with a Beckoner replaced by a Performer to pick up heads.
We faced a very well designed crew focused around a combination of Collette and Rasputina models with Hans to cause some more ranged trouble. While I went to the restroom during set-up, some genius decided to make a bunch of bubbling puddles count as hazardous terrain (thanks, Jon) so the middle of the board between two buildings became a wide-open stretch of no-man’s land filled with bubbling death puddles. We didn’t have a strong feel for which schemes to take on this one (my note sheet has several options crossed off) but we settled on Take Prisoner for the opponent’s Ice Dancer and Undercover Entourage on Sensei Yu, who can cross 21 inches with our crew build when he wants.
We screwed ourselves up from deployment in this one, I’m able to admit. The massive building we hid behind was impassable, and so our opponents were able to get into position while we were still trying to move around the damned thing to get to the battle. And as soon as we did start to peak our noses out, we discovered the horrible reality of our opponent’s crew: Collette’s prompt can be used on any friendly model. Including Rasputina. So our opponent effectively had 6 Rasputina AP to use every turn. Hoo boy. This is definitely one of those "The designers never thought of this format when playtesting" things.
Realizing the trouble we were in, we broke up our huddle of models as quick as we could and sent the Super Serpent over the hill and back to cause some disruption in the enemy. Huggy tried to move forward to do anything productive and did manage to put some wounds on…something, but was promptly killed by Hans who could ignore his cover and his incorporeal. Lynch had moved around away from the group, dashing into a position out of LoS of the enemy ranged attacks and supporting the Depleted, who had his eye on the enemy Ice Dancer. Those two would engage and dance a lovely duet for the rest of the game, making that dumb depleted the MVP of the whole damn game as he scored us 3 VPs and blocked an opponent’s Leave Your Mark. Where we got back into the game was by using Lynch and a combination of holding all the Aces in his hand with “Wanna See a Trick” (an upgrade I had severely underrated) to make the enemy’s Coryphee duet brilliant and kill them, bringing back Huggy. The super serpent and the newly spawned Huggy managed to pummel through the super Coryphee and a Wendigo with Armor of December that ran up to block us, scoring us a head and a VP. Again it came to the last activation, as Yu had to dash for the enemy corner. He couldn’t quite make it due to some (accidentally) clutch Ice Pillar placement in his path from the enemy, so we got 2 points instead of 3. However, yet again, we snatched victory out of the jaws of defeat on the last activation…almost. We ended up with a draw at the end of the most fun game of the tournament.

Our differentials weren’t high for most of the tourney, and I knew there was at least one team that went undefeated. I was very pleased, then, to find out that we had done well enough to take home 2nd place! We both got small mystery boxes, and Jon won one of the Starter Boxes from the raffle, so all-in-all, a great tournament for team Malifaux Musings! 

Dawn even managed to shame Jon into smiling for a picture...almost.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Other Side Kickstarter: Update 1

                The Other Side kickstarter campaign is up and running, and it’s going like gangbusters. They’ve funded within the first half-hour of being live, and are now creeping up on their $175k stretch goal. As such, we have a bit more information released to add to what we know of the game.
                They’re offering, at the outset, an allegiance box containing a commander, 2 units of a standard troop type, and a unit of more elite troops for each of the four Allegiances. Additionally, you receive several tactics tokens which are specific to your allegiance, a fate deck, bases, and a tape measurer. If you back at a Commander level you receive the Allegiance box, your army’s titan, a copy of the rulebook (which will now all be hardcover), and all Commander level stretch goals. From there you can move up to a double and a quadruple commander level to get the equivalent of two or four factions for a reduced price. Pretty straightforward. Additionally, there are add-ons you can pay for any of the models or accessories to be thrown into your order individually if you want to expand your forces. As it stands now, all the stat cards you receive from as a Kickstarter backer will be the sort of special-edition UV treated type Wyrd started offering for Malifaux last year, which won’t be available for sale after the Kickstarter ends. Also, one of the add-ons that were unlocked as a stretch goal are allegiance specific fate decks which have your army’s logo on the back and some pics of the models on the front. Cool.
                Additionally, the $150k stretch goal update on the website told us some more about the Gibbering Hordes specifically. They seem to be VERY oriented around terrain in general and the Tide Pools they place at the beginning of the game specifically. Their revealed commander, the Stormsiren, embodies this by placing one additional tide pool at the beginning of the game and gaining bonuses to her melee attacks when she or her targets are in contact with the pools. Which, of course, means you would never go anywhere near them, right? Well, problem is she has a Lure type effect to either pull your fireteams either to her or to a Tide Pool. The Hordes’ troops, has Adaptive Camouflage to let them flip two cards on opposed duels and choosing the best (IE a + flip.) We also get an idea of what it means to go into Glory with the Stormsiren, as she turns the Tide Pools into Hazardous terrain, gains some trigger-like effects to her attacks, gains a point of WP and AR, and gains an ability to summon more tide pools.
The Gibbering Hordes go into Glory by eating, specifically eating their own units. This strikes me as odd (I sort of wish they could do it by eating enemy units, too, but I have no idea how that would work for game balance.) There are ways around this, however, in the form of the Karkinoi units, who in addition to being the heavy hitters for the Hordes can spawn Egg Clutches which are, apparently, there to be eaten. 
Who's up for omelettes?

             It’s mentioned that the Karkinoi also get stronger when they have reinforcement tokens attached to them. But what do those tokens do? Well, at the beginning of a turn, a fireteam can spend one of these to either replace any missing models from their unit or summon a killed fireteam back into play. So, this is going to make knocking an enemy’s army off the board a lot tougher, presumably (if you’re going to shoot at a unit with a reinforcement marker, you’d better kill them all or not bother, apparently.)
So, that’s what we know so far. They’re up to about $172k at this point, so more info will be coming. In the meantime, here are links to the Allegiances video and a playthrough to give you an idea of the rules.

And since this is a mini-post, I’ll toss in a mini-plug for Leodis games. The deals are still going strong, and they have models from Knight Miniatures and other minis games. You can get a Batman v. Superman set for the Batman Miniatures game. No word yet on whether your models just automatically quit fighting if you say the word “Martha” to them during the game. Follow this link so we can get the credit, and check them out. 

Monday, December 5, 2016

Factions of The Other Side

                Malifaux Musings has previously discussed some of the crunch/rules content known so far regarding Wyrd Miniatures’ forthcoming army-scale game, The Other Side. Late last week some information started to come out onto Wyrd’s website regarding the four factions the game will feature. And then, in this week’s Monday Preview, they released a Youtube video discussing the character and fluff of these organizations and giving us some hints into the way they will actually perform on the battlefield. So, being the fluff nuts that we are and wanting to take some educated guesses at what the mechanics may be from the glimpses we received of their faction cards, we decided to take a dive into the information we have so far. Let’s not waste any more time, as the world is literally at war.

The Story So Far…

                As we know, the current timeline of Malifaux has the date placed in 1906, which is a time of high political tension in our own history. We’re knocking on the door of the first World War at this point on Earth and, in the Malifaux timeline, things are also on the verge of armed combat. The closing of the first breach led to global tensions over the sudden loss of a steady supply of Soulstones. This tension caused the Black Powder Wars, which were ended when the Guild of Mercantilers forms and brings the whole world under its (at least indirect) control. However, not everyone is crazy about this arrangement, and the Guild’s struggles to maintain order in Malifaux once the Second Breach opens only aggravates this further. And then, as a result of his failed ascension as a Tyrant, the former Governor-General of Malifaux appears in the skies over London in a new form, The Burning Man. His arrival triggers chaos and opens a series of smaller breaches which dump Neverborn creatures onto the Earth, and plunge the world into war.

                One group that was ready and waiting for the Guild’s weakening was the United Kingdom. The chaos caused by the arrival of the Burning Man was the last sign they needed to throw off the Guild’s yoke and declare themselves independent. In preparations for this moment, the Empire had stockpiled and engineered the most powerful guns in the world, and they bring these to bear on the enemy. As such, their battlefield strategies are designed around using ranged combat to wear the enemy down from afar.

                What we can see from the allegiance card shown in the video tells us that the units of a King’s Empire army get to flip from their normal form to their Glory form after killing an enemy unit (what that means in practice, we don’t know, but it is what it is. These are previews when we don’t have the rulebook.) They get a mask trigger on melee and ranged attacks that let them push 2” after resolving the action, which is a nice way of adding mobility to what otherwise looks to be a static gunline faction. They can use their ranged attacks in melee, albeit at a reduced AV, which we can assume from the use of the same terminology in Through the Breach means Activating Value (the equivalent of Ml or Rg in Malifaux.) So, again, it avoids one of the hallmarks of “gunline” armies by making them not completely useless in melee. And finally, they can charge and use ranged attacks instead of melee. Who knows if that’s any good or not, but it would probably create some interesting tactical scenarios.
                Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History podcast has turned me on to World War I in a way that history lessons in America never really achieved (for foreign readers, it goes along the lines of “There was a war going on in Europe for a while, then we came over and helped finish it. The end.”) That and my attraction to Imperial Guard armies in Warhammer 40k makes me think the KE might be something I’d check out in the future.

                From the faction page on Wyrd’s website, we know that the Gibbering Hordes are Neverborn from Malifaux’s oceans and rivers. More specifically, they were on the wrong side of the war with the Tyrants, and the Neverborn we’re used to like the Nephilim banished this group from the land as punishment afterwards. The Burning Man’s arrival has plucked them literally from their homes and dropped them in the middle of London (at least initially. We know the starter boxed set planned is the KE vs. GH and is called The Battle of London.) Guess they got lucky that the Burning Man didn’t show up over Tucson or the Mojave, as I imagine that would have made for a pretty short invasion. Since their initial arrival, however, other portals have opened up and dropped members of the GH around the globe.

                The GH are a melee faction, focused on getting into close combat and destroying the enemy that way. Their first special rule probably explains how they’ve managed to hang on so long after being dropped off in Earth, Endless Numbers. It lets them respawn a unit that was killed on the previous turn at the beginning of the next turn. They start in the deployment zone, don’t have any assets (upgrades?), and get to immediately move up to twice their speed. They also deploy a pair of 120mm Tide Pool tokens on the board during the Scouting phase (one assumes this is at the beginning, though whether this is done before or after units deploy would probably affect efficacy.) These pools count as difficult terrain which the GH units get to ignore. Finally, they get to flip towards Glory by having one friendly unit eat another friendly unit that starts next to them. Presumably this makes for a handy means of taking a wounded unit and getting some value out of them before the enemy destroys them.
                All in all, it feels like you took a Sillurid and crossed it with the Zerg or Tyranids. I suppose most army-scale games need something like this, and it’s fun to see a side of the Neverborn that’s different than what you get in the standard game. Close combat armies have never really been my cup of tea, however, so there’s a good chance I’ll be splitting parts of a BoL box with somebody and letting them take these guys.

                The other faction that excites me the most out of this initial group is probably Abyssinia. They are a real-world kingdom that started in part of Ethiopia. In this history, they gained access to soulstones before the rest of the world (how, we don't know yet) and, as such, have a greater knowledge of how to use them. They seem more technologically advanced than the other human factions, looking almost like a steampunk version of Wakanda from the Marvel Universe. They stretch across central Africa now, and are seeming to want to spread and bring more nations under their control.

                They are represented as an elite army that uses better technology and tactics than the opponent, as opposed to sheer numbers (which triggers my “I don’t have to buy as many models to play this faction” senses.) Their faction card doesn’t give as much away as the others, but indicates that you can put two “Prototype Assets” per commander to units in your army. Are these better versions of assets, akin to Limited upgrades? We have no way of really knowing yet. They do, however, have the ability to flip to their Glory side simply by discarding two control cards at the start of a unit’s activation. Depending on how much of an upgrade this is, being able to do it directly rather than having to achieve something on the board (killing an enemy unit, eating a friendly unit, etc.) would give you a greater degree of control over the unit’s state during the game. Maybe you just spend the first turn burning your hand to flip to glory mode on as many units as possible? Of course, that would be card intensive, so you can try to get some of them back via the trigger all the units in this army have, Innovation, which lets them draw a card when they have a Tome.
                One of the more progressive elements of Malifaux, initially, was its inclusion of many strong female characters that didn’t have to be over-sexualized (although, bizarrely, the more likely a lady master is to fight in close combat with a sword, the less likely they are to be fully dressed while doing so.) In addition to being cool, Abyssinia does this in another way, by taking an African culture and making them the most technologically sophisticated on the planet. We already had hints of this in Ripples (an Abyssinian built the Infamy, Zipp’s airship.) But it’s cool to see it in play. Plus, painting a Marcus model showed me how much better dark skin looks when I paint it than light. And there’s the elites thing I pointed out above (I’m not a wealthy person. For tips on how you can help me with that, scroll to the bottom!) So I’m definitely giving the Abyssinians a close look along with the Empire.

                When a giant burning dude appears in the sky, maybe it’s not a surprise that a certain type of people might ended up deciding he’s a god. What’s unusual about this particular deific figure, however, is that worshiping him as such seems to be granting his followers magical powers, albeit at the cost of their sanity and/or their physical forms. These guys certainly duke it out with the GH for who is the scariest looking of The Other Side’s factions, looking almost reminiscent of the Illuminated and Depleted from Jacob Lynch’s crew in several cases (and giving those of us who don’t like some of the Lynch crews sculpts proxy ideas for the future.)

               Like the Abyssinians, it’s tougher to gauge what these guys do from the faction card (maybe this is a design feature, as it seems the first two simpler factions will be featured in the starter box.) When an ace falls into the discard pile (more Lynch similarities?) you can put a Panic token on one of your fireteams. What do those do? I don’t know. But if you have two of them, that’s how these guys flip to Glory mode. This seems like the ability you'll have the least control over, though if you mill through your whole deck in an average turn of The Other Side maybe I'll be proven wrong. They do, however, seem to have an interesting mobility tactic in use during the game. During scouting they place three 50mm portal markers on the board, which they can shift at the start of their turn 6” by discarding a card. Then, if a unit starts in contact with a portal or moves into contact with it, you can relocate them to a different portal anywhere else on the board. You lose the rest of that movement action, but it still provides some interesting tactical possibilities. As one example, you can present two fronts to the enemy at deployment, then bounce your whole army to one side and try to roll up an  flank. Other than that, we don’t get many hints from the video about what they do, other than that they’re chaotic and use magic and mutations to strike. So I suppose if you’re a GW Chaos player, particularly Tzeentch, these guys will probably feel right up your alley.

Final Thoughts

                Again, I want to stress that I don't know what I'm talking about here (well, more than usual.) I'm not a playtester for this game. I don't know anything about it. I'm learning along with you. Also, there were stat cards shown in the video which someone smarter and more patient than me could freeze frame and break down (though when I tried it, a lot of the terminology was different than anything in Malifaux, so I couldn't be sure what I was seeing.) As such, what I've said so far could and likely in many cases will prove to be incorrect. If nothing else, the video is worth checking out just to see the renders of all the cool models coming for the game in the future. 
               I won't lie to your Marge. When this game was announced, my first reaction was a hard no. It’s not that I don’t think it’s going to be any good. I have enough faith in Wyrd to believe that, if they’re putting the time and effort into the design that they have, they’ll come out with something top-notch. It’s just that I barely have the time or resources to support Malifaux, let alone throwing an army scale game on top of it. That said, some of the characterizations of the factions so far, as well as the materials reaffirming the commitment to The Other Side being as objective oriented as Malifaux, have led to my softening on this point. I’m still not sure if I’ll plunk down the cash for it, but I’m giving it a look. I think a lot of you will want to do so, as well.


                And where would Malifaux Musings recommend you go to buy The Other Side when it finally comes out? Why, to Leodis games, of course! They’re sort of like an online version of your friendly local gaming store, and stock Malifaux, Guild Ball, Infinity, and many more games as well as custom accessories. Right now, pre-orders for Sandeep’s Beacon of Knoweldge crew box as well as Iron Skeeters, Shastar Vidiya Guards, and Archie are 20% off! And, by following this link before making your purchase, you’ll be supporting Malifaux Musings as well.