Friday, June 28, 2019

How to Play Swampfiend Zoraida-By Guest Bloggist Shawn Lee Christoffers

Happy M3E release day everybody! To celebrate, here's a guest post from Shawn Lee Christoffers describing the Zoraida crew he used to win the day 2 MuseonCon Tournament. 

General Crew Build for Tournament Play

Zoraida (7 stones)

The First Mate



Wicked Doll


Bad JuJu

How Does the Crew Work? 

            The way I play this crew is using the power of stealth for my scheme runners and my Master to control the more problematic models of my enemy crew. By cutting my crew into two parts, one focused on scheming and the other on the power of obey, I can threaten large areas of the board with denial and scoring.

How Has the Crew/Keyword Changed Since M2E?

            The main distinction of the crew is how Zoraida uses her swampfiends as her eyes for her magic. Eyes in the Night: This model may draw LoS and range for its non-melee Actions from friendly Swampfiends within 12" and enemy models with a Voodoo Upgrade attached. This gives her a large threat range that make it hard for the enemy to predict how your going to effect the board. It's definitely challenging to use the ability to the fullest. One of the best effect for this ability is using forest terrain. By keeping Zoraida behind a forest with a swampfiend within it, will allow her to play a very safe way. Forcing the enemy to kill the eyes and not the brains. It a great trick with assassination in the pool.

Who are the Key Pieces in the Keyword, and What Are Their Roles?

            Zoraida, the manipulator of fate, gives extra AP for her models or the enemies. Which is always in your favor. The First Mate, the greatest silurid, is the crew's anti schemer and expensive scheme runner. Grootslang, big and fast on your side of the table. He uses lair markers to burrow to any other marker on your side of the table, giving support where you need it. Bad JuJu, punching bag and tank, he assist his crew by being a drain of Ap on your opponents side.

Rate the Keyword on the Following Criteria from 0-14 

-Killing Power (7 out of 14)

             Swampfiends are very average in the destroying aspect. Bad Juju can hit hard but he is a tad slow. Generally with Zoraida, she hopes the enemy brings some big hitter and you can have it kill his allies.

-Survivability (11 out of 14) or (3 out 14)

        or .       

            Stealth on your small models and The First Mate helps against neverborn issues of range combat. Not being able to be targeted outside of 6 inches makes all your scheme runners, silurids and gupps, very annoying to get to. Sadly the die within that 6in bubble. This gives them that bummer score of 3. Like a strong gust can blow these guys up. Mostly, you play a hide and ambush with these models or leap behind the enemy lines to run.

 -Scheming/Maneuverability (12 out 14)

            Silurids leap with stealth... and only need a 3 to do it. Yeap that's amazing. Some swampfiends also have ambush as a bonus action. Giving the player a 3 inch bonus move to get into better position to attack. Can't be used if engaged, but it played a large role in my tournament play.

-Card Manipulation (11 out 14)

            Zoriada is the only card manipulation that you have in the crew. Her ability Reading the Cards - If this model is this Crew's Leader, after an enemy model in LoS Cheats Fate, this model may look at the top card of either Fate Deck and may then discard that card.- Gives her the ability to keep weak cards on damage flips or slightly change fate of her next duel. But your best and only bonus action is the truest card equalizer. Treads of Fate- Both players discard their Control Hands and then draw 6 cards- does 3 things for a swampfiend crew. First it helps keep discard effects from massively taxing the crew, such as demise on Bad Juju and summoning the voodoo doll. Second it gives Zoraida the ability to use high cards to get her obeys out, then refill the control hand. Lastly, it makes opponents play poorly. It dosen't seem like it would on first glance, but most opponents will try to use all their great cards before Zoraida spin the wheel of fate. Yet, just because you can force everyone to discard their hands dosen't mean you should. Just let them cheat and enjoy that empty opponent's hand.

Which Keyword Models (Outside of the Master) Are The MVP and the LVP?

             For killing schemes, Bad JuJu is MVP. He hits hard and can use his demise (eternal). This ability gives him better hard to kill by healing him four after he would die. The First Mate may be the best and hardest to kill scheme runner I have ever used. He is very versatile with his AP. Letting him drop 2 scheme markers a turn or kill other scheme runners beside him.
            The Voodoo Doll, Zoraida's totem is LVP. Honestly, it's horrible. The range of using the voodoo doll, the nerf to its health from 6 to 3, and how you only gain one condition on the hex target, takes a hard shift from M2E single model debuff into using it as a scrap marker. Its best ability is to die and draw one card. More on that later!

Are There Versatile Models and/or Upgrades You Take Routinely?

            Vasilisa and Wicked Dolls are my go to versatile models. Vasilisa is a hidden gem in Neverborn. Armor 2, 7 wounds, ability to heal herself or other puppets, and two amazing abilities. She can summon stitched together or wicked dolls with scrap markers. Its a hard summon requiring a 9 of mask that cant be stoned for, but luckily voodoo doll can kill itself and give you that scrap marker turn one. Zoraida can then discard her hand and try to find that mask card. Works most of the time. The second ability is called Pulling the Strings, This model may remove a Scheme Marker within 3" of the target. Friendly Minion only.Target takes an Action. Then, if a Scheme Marker was not removed when this Action was declared, kill the target during the End Phase. This works greatly with Wicked Dolls because when Vasilisa walks, she picks up 1 Sz puppets and takes them along. Making her great at antischeming. Wicked Dolls, at cost 3, are stealthed like silurids and can drop scheme markers. A bit of an investment of 11 stones but together they make up my left or right flank.


There you have it. Zoraida has been an early darling in the M3E era for a number of metas, for reasons that may be apparent from what you read above. Interestingly, I asked Shawn if he had considered working in a big hitter like the Hooded Rider to make up for some of his lower hitting power in the, which is something else I've seen deployed elsewhere. He pointed out that he doesn't really care for having his hitter not safe to use before turn 3, and he didn't like having his Obey stuck in one place. Given that tournament games are most often not making it to turn 5 here earlier in the edition, only having a turn or two of "good" rider action is suboptimal, in his view. He prefers Juju, if nothing else for his ability to soak up AP from the enemy.

Hope everyone else is having a great time post M3E release! Feel free to comment on this if you agree/disagree/have a novel take on Mama Z that isn't mentioned here.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

MuseonCon 2019 Tournament Report

No, I don't know why the logo is an orange. Don't ask. 

I've procrastinated long enough, so with some prompting (and light shaming) from 3rd Floor Wars' Criag Shipman, here is my breakdown of the MuseonCon M3E beta tournament, aka the Schemes and Stones open. It was hosted a few weeks ago in Des Moines, and I believe had somewhere between 22-24 people for the first day's tournament. Second day had more like 16, I think, as a large contingent had done an iron-man drive from Minnesota and had then returned the same day to avoid paying for a hotel. Still, to our knowledge this was the largest M3E tournament so far. 

I entered having not really played much Malifaux since the early M3E alpha/closed beta. My main goal was thus to learn as much as I could about my faction for the coming year (Ten Thunders) and this new version of Malifaux in general. 

Note: I took lots of pictures of the boards from these games. Then the SD card in my phone died. So yeah, that sucks. Sorry for the image light post. 

Day 1

Round 1

Deployment: Corner
Strategy: Reckoning
·Detonate Charges (1)
·Hold Up Their Forces (6)
·Take Prisoner (7)
·Power Ritual (8)
·Deliver a Message (11)

            I wanted to try a Jacob Lynch crew to see how it worked in M3E, as I had played versions of it earlier in the testing but hadn’t touched him in a while. My opponent and I played on a cool barroom board that Kyle had brought. He brought Guild-Lady Justice. My plan was to get into position to try and apply the Illuminated and the Shadow Emissary’s Shockwave abilities to attack the opponent’s hand while I was manipulating mine with Rig the Deck. Also, if you Rig a card on top of the deck before you perform a simple duel, you can be sure that it goes off without having to use one from your hand. I thought it made sense, and I thought that, since I knew Lady J would be in my face ASAP, so Detonate and Deliver a Message seemed like good ideas. I was partially right, about the Lady J in my face thing. What I had underestimated was the abilities of models like the Lone Marshal to shoot off the aforementioned Illuminated while you try to bring them up into position (they seem a bit softer than in last edition), the amount of healing Lady Justice and her crew can bring now, and the relative ineffectiveness of Shockwaves. Maybe it’s a personal thing, but in the games I play I rarely see to see opponents fail simple duels. That’s why the whole “Terrifying is good at making your opponent lose cards,” thing has never washed for me. I like Rig the Deck as a mechanic, but the keyword ability on its own isn’t enough to win games of Malifaux. I need some tips to learn how to play Lynch now, because right now I got nothing.

Round 2

Deployment:  Corner 
Strategy: Corrupted Idols
Scheme Pool
· Breakthrough (2)
· Dig Their Graves (5)
·Outflank (9)
· Claim Jump (12)
· Vendetta (13)

            Wanted some mobility for this game, so I looked towards McCabe. This round I was up against Leviticus, played by Daniel. He referred to this strategy as “Kickball,” which I thought was apt. Apparently this kickball has rocks in it or something, since it hurts you to kick it, but close enough. I used a Samurai, because I wanted to try and employ he and Sidir to protect the backfield with their machine guns. Hucksters would go forward to move the idols. I wanted to try a Ruffian out, despite the fact that I’m really not sure they’re worth their points. I also brought the Lone Swordsman, who I used for Vendetta against the Ashes and Dust in the enemy crew. The earlier part of the game worked out great, with a Huckster on my left flank bumping an idol forward and then moving into position to score Outflank. Lone swordsman darted in to score the first points on A+D then Mccabe rode in to pull him out and rescue him. The Samurai and Sidir had a grand time tossing artifacts back and forth between each other to hand out fast and then machine gun the heck out of things. At one point a fast Sidir killed A+D then machine gunned a prospector to death in one activation, which I enjoyed. Unfortunately, the this let the Dust Storm appear next to Lone Swordsman and kill him, preventing the second point from Vendetta. This did open up the amusing scene of Luna biting the Dust Storm and dragging it around the board with her trigger. The ruffian managed to do more damage to himself on the flanks shooting at an abomination than he did to the abom itself. Some deft maneuvering of models by the opponent pushed us to a tie at the end of turn 3. I was confident I could maneuver out of it t4, but then Kyle called time as we were getting ready to start. So that sucked. I lost my cool a little at this, and I felt like a jerk for that. Sorry again if you’re reading this, Daniel.

Round 3
Deployment: Flank 
Strategy: Turf War
Scheme Pool
·Detonate Charges (1)
· Breakthrough (2)
· Harness the Ley Lines (3)
· Dig Their Graves (5)
· Assassinate (10)

Wanted to try out all 3 masters I brought along with me, so I pulled Misaki. Didn’t bring much of her keyword models, but went big with Yasunori and the Emissary along with a samurai and some hucksters for Detonate. I played against Roman with Lucas Mccabe, who introduced me to the wonders of the M3E Tanuki, who is like Oprah Winnfrey for handing out Focus. Roman made an epic play using Mccabe’s new henchman, Desper Lareux, to bait my Yasunori into turning around and chasing him down by bluffing that he was going for Breakthrough, ensuring that the horseman was out of position for much of the rest of the game. I learned a lot from this game regarding proper placement of Misaki shadow markers, the epicness of the Shadow Emissary, how silly the Hucksters’ False Claim ability can get so long as you have an AP to waste somewhere else on the board to throw down a disposable scheme marker, and how to use Shang to cheat some extra movement for Misaki. I ended up losing again fairly handily, but felt I learned the most from this game of all I played this weekend. Roman’s a great guy, and I hope to have him contribute to Malifaux Musings at some point in the future (he writes the Versatile model reviews for Schemes and Stones’ blog.)

So with that I finished at an ignoble 0-2-1 for the first day. I did however get some cobblestone base inserts that will work well for some ideas I have for future crews, so not a complete loss.

Overnight, I decided the crew I’d had the most fun with was McCabe, so I decided on day 2 to go with him exclusively and try to hone in on how to best play him. Round 1 looked like this:

Deployment: Corner 
Strategy: Plant Explosives
Scheme Pool
· Harness the Ley Lines (3)
· Take Prisoner (7)
· Assassinate (10)
· Deliver the Message (11)
· Claim Jump (12)

I decided to try out this 2 masters business, as Misaki would make finishing the strat much simpler. Hucksters + Misaki + Mccabe’s speed should have made it academic. I was playing against Phiasco and his Yan Lo which, though fearsome in combat, is not overly mobile, so I knew I would have a maneuverability advantage. Also, we misread the start time and were about 15 minutes late, so I had a feeling we’d be stopping early, so I would need to grab all the points I could as fast as I could. I set about doing just that, hurling relics from Mccabe and Luna to hand out fast (with the assist of a trigger on the Huckster’s false claim to get an extra scrap marker for them to use.) Most of the game boiled down to me trying to dance around, drop bombs, and drop scheme markers on the center line for Harness. Mccabe and Yan Lo delivered messages to each other on turn 2, which is always amusing. Mccabe picked up the Whispering artifact and then dropped into tanking position, which I think is a pretty strong choice to keep in mind for future games. In the end my proactive strategy payed off, as we didn’t get through t3 and I ended up winning accordingly. First win of the weekend!

Deployment: Standard
Strategy: Turf War
Scheme Pool
·Breakthrough (2)
·Hold Up Their Forces (6)
·Power Ritual (8)
·Outflank (9)
·Assassinate (10)

Not having listened to the Schemes and Stones post-Museoncon episode at this point, I still had it in my head that Turf War was a scheme-y strategy rather than one that’s essentially Reckoning but more spread out. I went with a Desper and two Hucksters list therefore to go and do Outflank and penetrate deep into enemy territory to flip markers. My opponent was the winner of the Saturday tournament, Landon, using a Crossroads Seven! Arcanist crew led by Envy. Since Envy relies on Armor and doesn’t have much in the way of wounds, I thought I could probably use McCabe to try and drop him without too much fuss after giving him the bladed artifact. That part of the plan was executed relatively well, but I didn’t get enough damage down to actually kill him. I think I got a point from Outflank before Pride wrecked Desper and the Huckster that tried to follow in behind him. Pride is very good, and the CR7 are pretty solid as well. I think they can be beaten if you have effects like Lure to pull them apart from each other, and some of the pieces are more important than others (I think Pride, Sloth, and Envy are most important, Wrath and Gluttony are good, and the others are meh.) More Luna biting things nearly to death was another highlight, and I have a feeling a lot of people are going to get caught off guard by her. Ml 5 2/3/4 isn’t that impressive normally, but on a free totem that you can toss a bladed artifact to it could actually be fairly scary. Despite the loss had a very enjoyable game.

Deployment: Wedge
Strategy: Corrupted Idols
Scheme Pool
·Detonate Charges (1)
·Search the Ruins (4)
·Dig Their Graves (5)
·Outflank (9)
·Vendetta (13)

Played against Leviticus in Corrupted Idols. Hmm. Where have I heard this one before?

This time I was up against Brian “Schemes” Spence of Schemes and Stones fame. He was pretty tired and frustrated with his weekend, so he decided to YOLO Levi at the tip of his wedge with the free walk upgrade, sending him forward on T1 to get Sidir within range and blast him off the board first activation. I forgot to use stones to block the 2nd two attacks (the first one he triggered to prevent) so that was a screw up on my part. The rest of the way was just cold deck on my side of the board, hot deck on his, and well executed play on his part to step on my crew’s neck and not let up. The game was completely one-sided, to the point that Brian was apologizing by the end, which always feels great :P.

But, since we decided it was all over but the counting after T2, that gave me time to go spy on Landon and Shawn at the top table, where Zoraida was facing off with the Crossroads 7 for the tournament championship. Let me reiterate that: the championship game of the Sunday Museon Tournament was Zoraida vs. the Crossroads 7. If you needed a sign that M3E is going to be a brave new world, look no further. I didn’t catch a ton of details about Shawn’s Zoraida, though I did see the Voodoo doll kill one of the band members with pins. The Swampfiend’s stealth is pretty clutch in this new, more ranged combat friendly version of Malifaux. In the end, Mama Z took home the win and first place. I had scored a Lady Justice crew from someone for cheap, so I took some Domodores to go with her as a prize, and more importantly took home several new contacts in the area to contribute to Musings and a lot of new info to process for how to play M3E!