Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Just When I Thought I Was Out, They Reel Me Back In

           I was all ready to cut ties with the Neverborn. I put my monster models away on the shelf. I lamented the removal of the masters I had played for the last several years from the faction (ok, technically Dead Man’s Hand masters regained their faction allegiance at the end of the beta, but you know what I mean.) I spent most of my engagement in Alpha/Beta testing Guild or Ten Thunders. I even had a #notmyNeverborn locked and loaded, ready for release along with M3E (there would have been T-Shirts. It would have been great.)

            And then I thought of a Neverborn crew.

            Admittedly, the beginning of this Kickstarter had something to do with twisting my mind back in the direction of Malifaux’s twisted natives. I’ve always wanted to do the Dreamer as HP Lovecraft and these models make good proxies.

(He’s a little too old, as he’d be 16/17 in Malifaux today.  Also, of course, he was born in Rhode Island instead of London like the Dreamer. Maybe in his dreams he reverts a bit in age? The above is a picture of him as a nine year old. L Sprague de Camp described him as a brown-eyed tot with with long golden curls…)

            Anyways, I’m getting off topic. Dreamer’s fun, but having bought his Nightmare Edition metal box in M1E that I never painted or played I 1) Don’t have any Alps to summon 2) Lost one of Coppelius’s face tentacles a long while ago and 3) don’t have a Widow Weaver or Serena Bowman to use as henchmen. So, it’ll be a while until I can field a Dreamer crew realistically (assuming those models don’t all suck, which is possible. People who tested Neverborn in the beta can let me know.) So, basically, I was just planning on using the models as an art project and nothing else.

            Then, of course, the Easter Sale happened (it’s still happening, btw. Go buy stuff. I guess. You don’t have to.)

            This year’s new limited edition alternate model is a really cool/gross alternate sculpt of the Stitched Together. They’re pretty cool, and I started to feel the gribbly little claws of the Neverborn worming their way back into my soul. I looked them up in the beta files. They’re pretty good. Not as killy as they used to be, but nothing is in M3E. That’s one of the points. But the final straw came when I glanced at the Dead Man’s Hand files to see what ended up becoming of Lillith and Collodi. I don’t care for the former, but the latter seems like a pretty good compromise of some of the M2E stuff and not wanting him to be completely unbalanced. The Dreamer, I realized, only casts 13 stones to hire for some reason (I mean he doesn’t do much damage, but he’s a summoner. I’m just surprised, is all.) He can only summon 2 nightmares, but Collodi can hire all 3 of the Stitched Togethers if you want at base price, all of which can do Lucid Dream to help feed Dreamer and use the cards you mill for your life gambling attack.
            And a crew was born.

            I mean, it’s Dead Man’s Hand, so obviously you have to have your TO allow you to use it, but I kind of want to because it keeps one foot in both worlds of M2E and M3E for me. Dreamer is there to resummon any of the Stitched that die during the game. He can do it from literally anywhere on the board, since his summoning mechanics have the summoned Nightmare appear next to an enemy who fails a WP duel. I think it may be better to only come with two Stitched and have Dreamer summon the third one so it can pop out in the fray later on. He can summon Insidious Madness later on in the game to run schemes if necessary, although in M2E anyways the Marionnettes were able to do a lot of the heavy scheme runner lifting on his own.
            Anyways, a list.

Nightmares and Puppet Shows
Collodi-Inhuman Reflexes         2SS
4xMarionnettes                          0SS (Hurray for free totems)
Dreamer                                     13SS
Brutal Effigy                                 4SS
2xStitched Together                12SS
Vasilisa                                         8SS
Another Effigy                             4SS
Cache                                            7SS

            The second effigy slot can swap around to something different depending on matchup. If I know I’ll need condition removal, Arcane is an obvious choice. I think Lucky would be a good all-rounder choice. There may be other options, who knows. To be determined. I think it’s good. Let me know what you think.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

The Other Side of Adepticon

            I left on Thursday morning to travel to my first Adepticon, my vehicle loaded down with clothes, painting supplies, and my newly magnetized Other Side miniatures in a black metal toolbox. Other than my cruise control quitting on the way there and the discovery of how atrocious the tolls are on the Reagan tollway, the trip was uneventful, just the way I like them to be. When I arrived at the Renaissance Schaumberg center the parking lot was starting to fill up, so I ended up parking around the back of the building. I left my things in the car and came in to find my friend Phiasco and pick up my badge.
            Ostensibly, the point of the tournaments at Adepticon were two-fold: say goodbye to M2E and run the first official tournaments for The Other Side. I was primarily interested in the latter, as I haven’t played a game of 2nd edition Malifaux since joining the Alpha for M3E over a year ago. As such, I wasn’t much interested in the farewell tournaments, and I was ok showing up after the first Henchman Hardcore was underway. Phiasco, on the other hand, was putting a well-honed strategy of non-violence to work in a tournament that is essentially built around killing. Utilizing Low-River Monks, Sensei Yu, and Sun Quiang to throw enemy models out of the center ring or make them insignificant, Phiasco managed to Win or Tie every game of the tournament without inflicting a wound on the enemy models. I told him he needed to tell his opponents “Namaste” after the games ended. I forget how he ended up, but I know he placed.

            After that finished up, it was time for the first TOS tournament of the convention, a Titan Smash. The rules packet for it can be found here, but the short explanation for the scenario is that you play king of the hill for a couple of objectives while in a battle-royal style game with up to 7 other Titans on the same table. You score for being near an objective at the end of a turn, with a bonus point for the titan who is closest to the center point. Additionally, every time you knock an asset off of a titan, that scores as well. If one of the titans reaches 10 points at the end of a turn, all other Titans that haven’t scored 10 die instantly. The winner is the last Titan standing.
            Obviously, I was bringing in my King’s Hand. I attached the Armor Piercing Machine Gun, the Big Drill, and replaced the head-slot assets with the special one for the scenario that gives an extra tactics value. I left the usually standard issue Symbol of the Realm off, as I was thinking that going into Glory may not be all that important for this type of game (though in retrospect that may not be as clear-cut as I thought.) This game was played with four titans squaring off: my King’s Hand, Ariel with a Dreadnought, a man whose name I didn’t get with another Dreadnought, and Steven with an Alpha Crawler. Early on Ariel and I traded shots and danced around the right-most Objective Marker. Steven took a turn to wind up his Alpha Crawler into Glory with a bunch of reinforcement tokens while the other Dreadnought took a commanding spot on the second Marker. Once the crawler was ready, he barreled into the second Dreadnought and did what damage he could, but by that point I’d been scoring 3 a turn from shooting off assets and squatting on the marker. The drill paired with the Dreadnought’s relative lack of offensive capability let me hold it relatively uncontested. As such, I hit 12 points at the end of Turn 4 and caused the other Titans to pop. So, in the first “tournament” run by Wyrd Games for the other side, victory came for the King’s Empire. *cue God Save the King*

I felt left out that my King's Hand box didn't have a Horomatangi in it by mistake, so thankfully the Titan Smash remedied that.

            Despite my intentions to not play any M2E, there was an Enforcer brawl that first evening and
the choice was either to play in it or go home. I figured I knew enough of how to play the game to at least get by. If you’ve never played an Enforcer Brawl, imagine the Royal Rumble from the WWE and you’re not far off. If you die, you respawn on your initiative but lose points (and give points to the enemy model that killed you.) Phiasco let me borrow Yasunori, who can kill a lot of models but costs a lot (there are bonuses for killing more expensive models.) He’s not the right choice, frankly, but he’s pretty straight forward to run so who cares. First game I ran into a Peacekeeper, who is not a great dance partner for Yas due to his high armor. I managed to chop it down, but then the entire battle ended up respawning on the other side of the board, leaving me stranded. So that sucked. Second round went much better at first, with me jumping up 8 points early on in the game. Third round I discovered that Burt Jebsen with Dirty Cheater can’t actually be killed without blasts or passive damage, so that blew. All in all, the format was a laugh and I enjoyed it. I just want to try some different models next time. I think the format should still work fine for M3E, so I’m excited to try it again in the future. With that done, we headed home to rest up and give Phiasco time to get three colors on his Abysinnia models.

            The next day, I threw on my newly acquired “The British Are Coming” shirt and went forward to do battle in the King’s name. The tournament packet was published ahead of time, so I had a good idea what objectives I would need to complete and which models I could use to do it. My garrison consisted of:

Kassa Okoye-Bigger is Better
Margaret Belle-Rapier Wit
2xMotor Scouts-Toughness
1xKing’s Hand-Symbol, Armor Piercing Machine Gun,

Strategems-Overwatch, Medic, Behind Enemy Lines, Capture the Flag, Defensive Formations, Bloody Their Noses, Perfect Accuracy, Keep Calm and Carry On

            First round saw me go up against Jeff in Scavenge with Confrontation deployment. The hordes crew was led by the Storm Siren and was built around sending some of the armored whelks to squat on objective markers on the flanks while tying my company up with Eels and Karkenoi. The board effectively funneled all the action onto my left flank due to a large impassible terrain piece (this led to the tournament organizers electing not to use that board for any of the other rounds of the tournament). Both sides forgot a large number of rules during the course of the game (resummoned units come in with one fireteam, not all of them. In scavenge the team that’s behind can use a tactics token to remove a turf marker at the end of the turn. Motor scouts have engagement ranges due to the bayonets rule. Etc.) I jumped out to an early lead and then dove Margaret Belle into the backfield to tie up the Stormsiren for most of the game. I decided to try out something I’d heard of online and buy the Overwatch stratagem on Turn 1, effectively giving me an extra set of activations for the rest of the game. It’s kind of a hefty cost to pay (starting with one card in hand and no tactics tokens is rough) but so far I think it’s worth the investment. The Hordes came back over the course of the game, however, and ultimately managed to take a 1-point victory over me. The day was off to an auspicious start.

            Round 2 paired me against Steven (from the earlier Titan Smash) with…more Gibbering
Hordes. This time we were playing Pitched Assault in Corners deployment. I wanted to bring Kassa out for this one, as I hadn’t had a chance to see her in action. They were accompanied by one squad of RRC and one squad of Infiltrators. I knew Pitched Assault is a tough game for the Hordes to play, as their “eat my own stuff to flip my units to glory” tactic feeds VP to the enemy. There are essentially two ways to look at this from the Hordes’ side, either A) Ignore the usual methods and just go all-in on trying to kill the enemy with base units or B) Stick to the normal plan, let the opponent get a lead, and then come back and overwhelm them. Steven went with the latter idea, bringing Horomatangi, an Alpha Crawler, Eels, and Armored Whelks to use as food for the rest. The theory behind his army was to spike the Crawler up with reinforcement tokens and glory then send it barreling into the enemy, fill out your numbers disadvantage with multiplying eels, and have the whelks get eaten then respawn somewhere the enemy doesn’t want them. It’s a good plan in theory, and probably works fine in most games. In this one, however, I seized both objectives while he was powering up/feeding me VPs. My infiltrators took the left objective by themselves, essentially trying to bait part of the enemy to go deal with them while allowing me to keep most of my forces together to resist the Titan team when they came in on me. I learned the delights of Kassa allowing you to actually have cards and tactics tokens to spare (leading me to question my earlier assertion of Margaret as undisputed champion commander, but that’s a blog post for another time.) Ultimately, on turn 3 my Rifle Corps demonstrated why they are the pride of the King’s Empire, withstanding a full assault from the Horomatangi while my Titan shrugged off the Alpha Crawler, resulting in my jumping to 12-0 at the end of the turn. Since the Decisive Victory rule was in place, that meant the game ended immediately. Not exactly what I was expecting, but it put me back in contention for the tournament so I wasn’t complaining.

            In round 3, I faced yet more Gibbering Hordes. There were other Allegiances in the tournament, I assure you, but I guess I’m just lucky. I hadn’t faced them before in any practice games, so I got the full seafood buffet in the tournament. Thankfully, my opponent (Andrew) was bringing the Frenzy for this game, so I got to see all the different faces of the Allegiance that day. As the game was Set Traps, Margaret was the clear choice. I strongly considered bringing Kassa instead, as I’d had a taste of what a KE company with card access could do, but elected to stick with my gameplan all the same. Andrew’s company featured the aforementioned street shark commanders, along with Yarazi, Karkenoi, and some Crawlers I think. They tend to blur. I deployed my forces in two groups on the outer edges of the board, splitting my two units of Rifle Corps with a tough Motor Scout in both places. Margaret was on the left. First turn, I focused on shifting the right Rifle Corps unit back towards the left, creating a sort of Refused Flank to try and pick a hole in the enemy line and then roll it up. I don’t know whether it really worked or not, or whether it’s even possible to do that against the Hordes when they can just respawn and reinforce as fast as they do, but it helped ensure I wasn’t facing the whole of the enemy force at one point. I underestimated the Frenzy, not having faced them before, and tried to use Margaret to tie them up. But without enough tactics tokens to protect her, she was quickly devoured on T1 or 2, leaving me with no commander for the rest of the game. I was tilted, but knew I needed to do something to try and slow the Horde down. I was able to accomplish this by sending the Motor Scout on my left side deep behind the enemy lines with a Rush order. Andrew either had to send the Frenzy back to go and deal with him (the option he chose) or leave me with a free hand to plant explosives at will behind him. Since his Frenzy went chasing after the Scout, that gave me a turn to shoot at them with a Gloried Rifle Corps, filling them up with Pinned tokens to slow their return (they still got back into melee the next turn, but it required them to eat one of their own to get into Glory first.) This, plus some fancy footwork on the right side by the other Motor Scout and some very fortunate card flips managed to get me the win.

Why is Adepticon trying so hard to get me to play CotBM

            In the final standings, Phiasco tied on tournament points with the winner, who was playing Cult of the Burning Man, but was behind on strength of schedule so he got 2nd. I came in third place and got Best in Faction for KE. The Faction badge was my goal for the day, and ultimately I felt my first round was winnable as well, so all-in all it was a successful day.

            That was the end of the official events from the weekend, but I did have a chance to play some pick-up games with an old member of my former Club later on. It was Supply Cache, and I learned that 1) It’s important to actually understand the objectives of the game you’re playing before you start 2) Abysinnian Mechanized Infantry are a nightmare that have to be removed ASAP and 3) Field Intelligence Corps in Glory are kind of gross in this Operation, as they can place markers within 6” of each other rather than the minimum 8” from the rules. Additionally, I played a 2 commander game with Phiasco later on, wherein I was able to deploy my Dragoons. Overall, I wasn’t extraordinarily impressed with them on their base card. Maybe in Glory it would be another story, but unless there’s something I’m not seeing they seem expensive and brittle. While we played, there was a 4x4 game featuring one of each Allegiance going on, which was terribly exciting. Ultimately, that one was decided by how stupid the Burning Man’s Rhinos are, and I got the impression that they will likely be getting erratad soon, so players of other factions can rejoice.

            All in all, I would call it a successful launch of TOS official tournaments. I came away with enough Cult of the Burning Man to get a start on them as a second Allegiance (after using my booth credit from running Through the Breach to get their starter box), which will be important for letting me run demos in the future. I came away with the impression that the game itself is strong, despite starting out awkwardly from the less than optimal roll-out. I think TOS is a better tournament game than M2E and possibly even M3E (I won’t know for certain until I try one.) And ultimately, I think I enjoy it more because I don’t feel as exhausted after playing it as I do when playing Malifaux. Even some of the more vociferously negative voices I’ve seen online seemed impressed with The Other Side, having seen it in person. I don’t know anyone who has a problem with the game itself, so much as frustration with how Wyrd has deployed it. Hopefully that will be overcome with time, as I think the game has some real legs to it.