Greetings all. This is Jon. Adam asked me to report my exploits and shenanigans. So instead of sending him bits and pieces I figured I would give this blogging thing a whirl. Writing is not something I do often so if I am somewhat vague feel free to ask questions or leave constructive criticism. Also my phone takes crappy pictures. I am very aware of this. I will upgrade in the near future. With the disclaimers out of the way on to the tournament!
Normally I would name opponents but I misplaced a sheet so I'm doing that round by memory and there may be some content that can be construed as a negative play experience. While it is relatively easy to extrapolate who I am talking about, I will leave all names out as I feel its a polite thing I can do. I'm not angry. There are several things I did wrong to lose that game and it was a hard lesson in tournament scheme selection.
Strat: Guard the stash. Schemes: Convict Labor, Set up, Undercover Entourage, Leave your mark, Exhaust their forces. Deploy: Corner
Going into this one I was going to use Brewmaster because his defensive trigger is debilitating in corner deployment. But my opponent told me he was relatively new to the game (less then 10 games played if memory serves. So I figured a more straight forward master like Lynch would A. play faster on my side and B. not be so confusing and be a NPE for a newer player by making his models do nothing all game.
So the lists: 10 Thunders Vs Arcanists
Lynch, Woke Up With a Hand, Rising Sun, Recalled Training
Hungering Darkness, Recalled Training
Yin, Smoke Grenades
Illuminated x 2
10 Thunder Brothers x 2
Rasputina, Child of December, Decembers Pawn, Shattered Heart
Ice Golem, Armor of December
Ice Gamin x 3
I don't remember who won flip or who deployed first. There was no from the shadows I started by the building with the grey roof, and my opponent in the opposite corner. I sent a brother down each flank to complete convict labor and then to peel off for leave your mark, an illuminated toward each stash marker (hugging cover), Huggy to support one and Yin the other. Lynch set up behind a fence where he could not be seen between both strat groups. He came up kinda in a cloud formation and I'm not really certain if there was a plan other then to try to win combat and sweep past me. This was probably one of his first games since Huggy's incorporeal was frustrating him. So much so he used smash when Huggy was on one wound top of turn two (probably unaware he was only buried). Removing Huggy left a lane for my illuminated to skirt past the golem and charge Raspy. He tried to harass one of my thunder brothers with the hoarcat. Lynch deleted the cerebus releasing huggy who charged the hoarcat and deleted it so my markers on that flank would count. With Raspy effectively neutralized (don't remember if I killed the golem somewhere in there) he decided to call it. We both failed the strat turn 3 so I got that game 9-1. I don't particularly enjoy beating brand new players this bad. I only hope he sticks with the game and gives it a chance.
This table was interesting. The stairs up to the platforms didn't seem set up in any logical way and I knew I was taking 3 models that don't care. This guy was running Outcasts but also said he was relatively new. So we agreed everything was climbable. Since he showed up with a box that didn't look like it could hold the rat engine and if it did all my stuff can act independent and it was standard deploy sooo...
Strat: Turf War. Schemes: Convict Labor, A Quick Murder, Public Demonstration, Show of Force, Exhaust their forces. Deploy: Standard
The lists: 10 Thunders Vs Outcasts
Lynch, Woke Up With a Hand, Rising Sun, Recalled Training
Hungering Darkness, Recalled Training
Yin, Smoke Grenades
Illuminated x 2
10 Thunder Brothers x 2
I don't remember his upgrades as I didn't write them down but every model had an upgrade. With Turf War and Show of Force having obvious synergy I didn't expect I could compete in Show with just Yin. As an aside with his crews only threat to my scheme runners being Hans I knew I had 3 points locked up for convict labor (or he would have to potentially lose a stat point and a scheme point to contest my markers). Public Demonstration while this being the easiest set up I will ever get the list is not built to do it and it relies too heavily not picking off an Illuminated before I spring it. In hindsight a quick murder on the Strongarm was probably the way I should have gone but somewhere in the back of my mind what if he plays cagey with an obvious melee model and stands back shooting people? So I settled on Exhaust. The Brothers didn't have to guard markers anyway as he was obviously all in on a rush to the middle.
Something that didn't happen is I didn't stop to think what he probably took for the second scheme. I can rule out Public Demonstration seeing as how he had 0 demonstrators, not enough models to attempt Convict, and Exhaust is difficult if you are being out activated (but not to be ruled out) so it was almost certainly a Quick Murder (which my list inadvertently thwarts with attacking Yin at a double negative outside of 6"). But had I did this step I would have deployed Yin in cover for an extra negative. Even though it turns out Hans doesn't have a built in positive like the other snipers these are the kinds of mistakes I'm going to need to eliminate from my game.
Turn 1. I deploy on the closer side in the picture. Brother on each flank and everything else aiming to support the fight for the middle. He takes a pot shot with Hans (set up on the walkway behind the building for cover) at Yin which misses (still not triggering my spidey senses). I advance everything into cover except the Brothers. I send Chiaki to support the thunder brother on my left flank so I can get the markers down quick to maybe get him into the scum turn 3 for Exhaust. He brought the Strongarm and Librarian down my right flank but angling for the center. I think he got Hannah and Schill up to or on the walkway towards the center. I still don't know what the plan for Lazarus was but he was back by Hans on the ground. Score 0-0
Turn 2. He advances Strongarm and Hannah up to score. I charge Huggy in to melee range of both putting some damage on Hannah so the Librarian would have to think about randomizing. I advance an Illuminated to score. Between Hans and Schill they kill that Illuminated. So I advance the other one and Yin in for scoring. I start running the left flank bro toward the center and advance the other to cover to maybe make a run at Hans. Score 2-2 (Convict for me, Show for him).
Turn 3. This where my opponent says 'That's where it all went horribly wrong really'. I win imitative pop Recalled Training stone for the envelop trigger. I hit the Strongarm for a straight damage flip and top deck the red joker for 11 damage. Then I stone for envelop and hit Hannah for 7. And suddenly there were 2 less models. (turns out he forgot a legend to live up to which is basically hard to kill. The math as I see it is I would have killed both of those models with Lynch next activation if he skipped the librarian to get rid of Huggy and in the end of that turn he might have scored 2 less) He jumps Schill into Huggy burying him. The Librarian moves up to score. Still no clue what Lazarus is doing. I move Yin and the Illuminated up on the walk to go after Hans next turn. Chiaki and the thunder bro came up to score the strat. I score exhaust somewhere in there I think it was Yin on Lazarus. Score 5-4
Turn 4 .Pick off the Librarian, exhaust Lazarus, and engage Hans. Turn flew by pretty quick. Score 8-4. Called the game here 10-4 me.
With a +14 differential and at most 5 undefeateds barring ties (which there is very likely at least a few) means I'm probably playing for first place next game. There were no table numbers and match ups just picked a table, set up, and go. So outside of the final standings there is no way for me to tell at this point if I'm playing for 1st or the second place table (where 1st is possible if the the first place table ties and being in 5th at this point being highly unlikely but mathematically possible).
This was the table my opponent suggested. When you see his list it will be obvious why but someone beat us to it. This is Shenlong, Hans, and two snipers all day. I will gladly trade my 6 shot to his 3. But instead of dwelling on what almost was a completely different game...
This table seemed relatively balanced. More outcasts and 'kinda new player'. I'm going to hedge against ratjoy and bring Aionus. Somewhere in the chaos I put an element in my list for Reconnoiter and not Reckoning.
Strat: Reckoning. Schemes: Convict Labor, Take Prisoner, Detonate the Charges, Covert Breakthrough, Hunting Party. Deploy: Standard
The lists: 10 Thunders Vs Outcasts
Lynch, Woke Up With a Hand, Rising Sun
Hungering Darkness, Recalled Training
Aionus, Recalled Training
Illuminated x 2
Torshiro, Command the Graves
2x Convict Gunslingers
I lost the deployment flip. This wasn't as debilitating as it could have been considering he had 2 models with from the shadows I failed to account for in my set up. I chose the corner with the small square building. He deployed both Trappers together one one the ground behind the rectangle building on my side and one up on the roof in the corner as close to the corner of the board as you can get* (I'll touch back on this as I got cheated). Hans was up on the building in the middle of the other side.
Instead of doing a play by play or turn by turn I'll just run the highlights. Not taking any bros cut Convict out of contention. So I went with Breakthrough and Detonate because Chiaki could probably score me 2 on that. I tie up Hans with Huggy turn 2 after killing a Gunslinger to get him back. I tied up Levi with Torshiro for a couple turns. He scored the strat turn 2 and had I ran my Illuminated down the right flank and pretend it was dropping convict markers I could have stopped him from scoring 3 (for the game) on hunting party.
Where this game went sideways for me is when I tried to shoot the Trapper on the roof (who had move up turn one cause it was out of range or something but it was still more than 2 inches from the edge of the building facing my deployment zone) He was running the other Trapper to do break through but he hadn't dropped any markers yet. So he told me I'm pretty sure you can't shoot that guy because vantage point rules. I didn't bother to check the rules at this point because this guy was slow playing me weather he intended to or not. So I just changed target to the scheme runner and cheat to what would have been a tie unless he cheated the red joker and he cheated the joker. I had the red joker in hand and I tie/win the game had I played it there. I was saving it to one shot a buried Levi with Aionus.
So there is this last round call at 15 mins and we are seconds from the end of 4. score going into 5 is 4-6. And he calls the game with some lame excuse of I have to be ready to drive 3 hours after this. If that's the only way you can win buddy have at it. Top of 5 I have Lynch w/ 5 wds, huggy full and in charge range for Levi, unwounded Aionus, and Chiaki. Levi had one wound, 2 Waifs hiding in a puddle of piss and the Trapper on the roof who at this point had been cheating the entire game to shoot at me as it turns out that the vantage point rule runs both ways. Chiaki could still score me detonate for 2 or 3, Lynch could pick up a marker. And I would have scored strat for killing Levi twice that turn. I turned in the sheets with 12 minutes left and there is no way we would have not finished with 8 models on the table. But whatever.
So what did I learn from all that? Take models to do the schemes I chose, have a fall back model, and score a fast as possible. I don't mean for this to sound salty but I'm sure it does. I learned several things from all three games, generally had fun (I can't prove the last guy meant to cheat me but you can be for certain I have vantage point seared into my brain and that won't happen again). I need to slow down and focus at the selection step because this is not the first time I made this type of error.
And a week from this tournament is BKFuax (last weekend at the time of posting this). So more tournament reports to come.
Thursday, May 19, 2016
Tuesday, February 2, 2016
A Few Test Scheme Pools with the New 2016 Gaining Grounds
So if you’re a Malifaux player who lives under a rock, you may not be aware that Wyrd released the new Gaining Grounds 2016 document with a new scheme pool. Most of the podcasts out there have covered it in detail, so I’ll just briefly mention the highlights: 1) All the schemes are unrevealed 2) Models like Leveticus or The Dreamer that bury instead of dying are now less of a way to “hide” from the scheme pool, since these types of schemes now score when you leave play 3) The suited schemes pull you in very different directions and reemphasize the roles of enforcers and henchmen rather than masters.
Rather than do my own analysis, I thought I would flip a few scheme pools and look at how I would address them with a master I know relatively well, Jacob Lynch. First, the disclaimers: I am not good at Malifaux, so I am not an authority on how best to approach these. I can (and likely will) be wrong at least once, so please don’t hoist me on the petard of this article. I’m new to these schemes too.
Ok, that out of the way, let’s get started.
Opponent: Resurrectionist Flank, Extraction, Convict, Show of Force, Exhaust Their Forces, Mark for Death, Neutralize the Leader
Lynch: Rising Sun, Woke up with a Hand, On Wings of Darkness, 7SS; Sillurid; Doppleganger: Useless Duplication; Hungering Darkness: Addict, The Mimic’s Blessing; Illuminatedx2; Lilitu: Mimic’s Blessing;
For this one I would try to see what the opponent has hired to better make a decision between Show of Force or Mark for Death based on opponent’s upgrade selection. If they have more than me, I may have issues pulling it off. This one will be an ugly pile in the middle which the Sillurid will take advantage of by leaping in and Exhausting the enemy.
Arcanists. Squatter’s Rights, Standard Deployment. Convict, Exhaust, Leave Your Mark, Covert Breakthrough, Set Up
Lynch: Endless Hunger, Hand, On Wings of Darkness, 5SS; 3xTerror Tots; Doppleganger: Mimic’s Blessing; Hungering Darkness; Mr. Tannen; Siluridx2
Set Up is trickier unless the crew very obviously has a hitter that you know will be flying to your face (Howard, for instance.) Scramble and throw markers everywhere. If the opponent has fewer models, then Leave Your Mark will be easier. If its Ramos or a spam list of some kind maybe don’t because it’ll be tough. Find the ace of masks, obviously. Tannen’s there to protect the eligible people from Set Up. Hungering Darkness hunts scheme runners and/or takes down the flank Squatter’s Rights markers.
Resurrectionists. Interference. Corner Deployment. Convict Labor, Show of Force, Leave Your Mark, Covert Breakthrough, Undercover Entourage.
Lynch: Rising Sun, Woke Up With a Hand; Hungering Darkness: Addict; Lilitu: Mimic’s Blessing; Doppleganger: Useless Duplication; Terror Tot; Illuminatedx2;
And the best part of this one was…I got to play it in person!
Opponent’s List: Seamus: Habberdasher, Unnerving Aura, Willpower Limited Upgrade; Sybelle: Bleeding Lash, Not Too Banged Up; 3xRotten Belles; Yin: Unnerving Aura; Nurse
The board was set up with a good mix of scatter terrain, some blocking and some severe. The middle of the table had a hill with a blocking crystal of some kind and some trees to force us to move around it. Corner deployment was really not optimal for Covert Breakthrough, but with Belles I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to get separation enough to do Leave Your Mark. My gameplan thus became flooding the board with sprinting Tots (and Doppleganger) to cross the board and go drop off markers to in the enemy’s deployment zone and to be able to bounce back and forth between zones for the strategy and to get to the centerline for show of force, though I was also unsure of that one when I saw how many upgrades the other crew was using.
The game didn’t start out that well for my side, as I lost a Terror Tot and an Illuminated early (Illuminated are tough, but they don’t hold up well to shots from Seamus and the Copycat.) Thus my activation advantage went away quickly, particularly when the Illuminated stood up and put on a dress. The Hungering Darkness went up the left flank and tied up Sybelle and another Belle before Yin jumped into it to knock him down. In the meantime, a Terror Tot and the Doppleganger copying its sprint went bolting past the action into the backfield. However, Yin jumped after them and tied them up. Seamus moved into the heart of the crew to use his Unnerving Aura and try to put us into a tough place. Things were looking bad for the drug dealing card player.
Where it started to swing was when a Belle and Sybelle ran to go try and kill the other Illuminated. Lynch saw an opening and put Brilliance on the Belle before dropping her with Final Debt, springing HD back into action. He then proceeded to pummel Sybelle over successive turns, drop her, and get within 6” of the centerline. Meanwhile Lillitu was on the other side, tying up several Belles (now there’s a mental image) and getting her own upgrade to the centerline, to allow the crew to start scoring from Show of Force. One Terror Tot managed to sprint into the enemy deployment zone and get a marker down before being lured away by Belles, leading to them pouncing on him, and them bleeding all over two of them. There was an amusing series of attacks where they did more damage to themselves than to the Tot through blackblood before finishing him. Also, there was another amusing exchange on turn 3 when the Copycat Killer and Lynch unloaded on each other and neither could hit. Meanwhile, on the other side of the board, one Tot suicided into Yin while the Doppleganger put down a second marker and ran away. The key moment came when, on a turn when Seamus had a bad control hand, he discarded a corpse marker to backdoor away but failed the flip and didn’t have the card to cheat. He was caught from that point by Hungering Darkness and, when he backhanded the critter away, opened him up for Lynch to drop a 9-point Final Debt on him followed by some ram trigger gun shots to kill Seamus off. This ended up being pretty important, as I found out later that Seamus had Covert Entourage and this denied him three points.
Neither of us scored much in the way of points from the strategy, and the final score was 5-3 for Lynch. I think, in retrospect, Leave Your Mark would have been a better call for this, as the Tots had a lot more room to scramble and hide than I initially thought. Show of Force is still pretty tough to do when the other side has more upgrades than you, but drawing Yin away and unburying HD saved me there. Additionally, while I like Useless Duplication there weren’t enough Mimics to warrant taking it here instead of Mimic’s Blessing, which is just a good all-around upgrade.
So yeah, hopefully that was interesting to someone. As usual, feel free to comment below.
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Breaking Lynch, Wave 2
Apologies for the delay in posts. Real life being what it is, and my local Malifaux scene consisting entirely of me, there’s been a bit of a gap since last I posted. I have, however, managed to get some games in during the intervening period using Vassal, which I’ve come to enjoy quite a lot. Additionally, the Wave 2 Beta files are out and have been updated a couple of times, bringing us all the models that we owned prior to the switch over to second edition as well as some new toys for the gremlins and a new Ten Thunders and outcast master. The rules are obviously still in flux and subject to change, but I thought I’d take a moment to return to Malifaux’s favorite drug dealer and take a look at what new stuff may support the Lynch Mob on the tabletop. So, without further ado…
Part 2: Electric Boogaloo
First of all, I guess I can say that I was wrong about Illuminated with the last post. They’re very good. I played a Squatter’s Rights game where one sat on the center marker and withstood wave after wave of summoned punk zombies from Nicodem and survived. They’re good, I was in error. Stop throwing things at me, please.
Ok, with that out of the way, the three models added in with this update to round out the Honeypot crew are Mr. Graves, Mr. Tannen, and The Depleted. Of the three, I think the one I like the best is Graves. Maybe I just have a thing for large, follicularly challenged men, but he’s always been one of my favorites since the crew came out, and it was thus very disappointing that he fell into the same category as a lot of underused Neverborn minions in 1.5, i.e. “this is good, but there’s so many overpowered things in faction that you will never have points for it.” The core of Mr. Graves has remained the same, in that he’s a bruiser who can throw his weight around, reposition models in the enemy’s crew, and be relatively tough. Armor 1 and Hard to Kill make him not-trivial to remove. He has his fence post for clubbing the enemy and the ability to do a lot of repositioning with his “Show you the door,” where you can throw an enemy model 4” and follow along into base to base, getting a free melee swing with a ram trigger. The playtest game I’ve played with him ended up going in my favor in part because, at one point, I had gotten close enough to Nicodem to throw him out through a doorway and away from his corpse counters, slowing a summoning engine that had been grinding my crew down prior to that point. His zero action is marginal, but it’s the only one you’ve got so you may as well try to turn it on and catch the 5 or higher of tomes you need to make charges difficult for your opponent. He’s solid, and he can use a different attack trigger to attempt to tank for his counterpart Mr. Tannen if you include both of them.
Unfortunately, as it stands, I don’t think Tannen is worth including. His main gimmick is the cooler passive ability that forces models that want to cheat fate when they’re near him to ditch an extra card first. He can redraw your hand to catch up with your opponent if you’re a bit reckless with cheating fate early in the turn. Unfortunately, his utility dips a bit from there. Bore to Tears drops the opponent’s walk and charge by 2, which is underwhelming given that the ten inch range likely means the enemy model will be near to where they’re trying to walk by the time you can cast it at them anyways. Leave it to Luck is a 0 that penalizes any tome cards you flip and buffs any mask cards, which I can’t really see myself doing unless I can find a way to look ahead at the deck and/or rearrange it to optimize the ability. Aaaand, that’s about it. His melee attack isn’t impressive, he doesn’t have any interaction with scheme markers, he’s just kind of there dampening your opponent’s ability to cheat fate. He has very little survivability outside of Manipulative (which Graves can turn back on for the rest of the turn.) He has some interesting synergy with the Neverborn Fears Given Form upgrade, but throwing more points onto an already expensive, fragile model doesn’t seem like an optimal solution. This is a model I would give more consideration at 5 soulstones (but would still have hesitation,) but at 7 it just isn’t that impressive. I always hesitate when it comes to models that don’t help you win so much as make it hard for your opponent to win. If you deny your opponent all of his victory points, you can still end up in a draw without scoring any of your own. As such, a model like Tannen that is purely designed for causing an opponent grief is going to be the first thing cut when it comes time to make room in the crew, even if I was wanting to play him. Hopefully we’ll see some improvement here in forthcoming waves.
Last is The Depleted. Prior to the release of the version 1.5 The Drowned I would probably have just dismissed The Depleted, as they seem to be built around being a nuisance model with AoE damage when they die and bonuses to disengaging strikes when in melee. This is what I thought of the Drowned after first read (along with most of the Malifaux world, I hasten to point out.) In the end, however, we discovered that this kind of cheap blocking model that imposes a cost on the opponent to remove, in the form of a high resilience model that will require more than 1 AP to remove, and killing them means you get caught in a blast, take 2 damage, and become Briliant for the rest of the turn. They’re basically walking Brilliance Bombs. At 4 stones each they’re quite cheap and the bonus to disengaging strikes as well as some unpleasant triggers on their melee means that the opponent will have a hard time just ignoring/walking away from them once engaged. I forsee them moving up board quickly to go squat on the parts of the board that are going to be the biggest problem for the opponent, daring them to remove them. I wish that their push ability let them push towards models with the Darkened trait as well as Brilliance, and I was really hoping they would be significant when they were within range of Hungering Darkness (as they used to be,) but I’ll be interested to see what they can do on the table top.
Out of the rest of Lynch’s factions, there are a handful of things that jumped out as having some synergy with his crew. Out of the Neverborn, the Mysterious Effigy seems like a good way to get a version of Lynch’s upgrades into the crew without having to use an upgrade slot for them. It allows models within 3” of it to cheat face down and, with its 0 action, can give back a poor man’s version of the Squeal trigger to Lynch. Not a lot of the models outside of the effigy immediately jump out from the Neverborn as having specific syngergy, but I do like Tuco if only to provide one of the things the crew doesn’t have access to otherwise, From the Shadows. Plus, if you pair him up with Graves you have a nice little block of Black Blood and repositioning effects to perform some area denial. They can hold some Squatter Markers together and throw people out of the center of the board in Stake a Claim.
The Ten Thunders, once again, provide some indirect synergy that comes through Lynch’s ability to prevent discards. One thing I noticed was a trick off of two of Yan Lo’s ancestors with the War Eternal Trigger. It requires a tome on the attack flip, but with Lynch’s Ace abilities can allow you to, if you were going to do minimum damage anyways, cheat in an ace, draw a card for cheating, and then pick the ace back up for a little card advantage bonus. Not a game winner by any stretch, but sort of a neat little trick that may help out with deck cycling. I am more interested, however, in some of the models introduced with the new Ten Thunders master Shen Long. Sensei Yu is intriguing with Lynch. While he isn’t especially killy (although an attack that doesn’t allow defensive triggers is pretty decent), his tactical actions all have a built-in trigger to grant himself focused+1, which he can use in the traditional manner for positive attack and damage flips or can be reduced to throw down scheme markers. Yu also can do some nice repositioning tricks on your crew or the opponent’s in the process of generating this focus. What jumped out at me was the ability to ditch two cards (Aces, naturally) and use a 0 action off of the crew leader’s stat card. Lynch has some nice 0 actions, and I'm a big fan of being able to Mulligan twice in the same turn, so I’m very interested to see what Yu can do with these. Along a similar line of reasoning, the Monk of the High River can discard up to four cards to do a 1 AP melee attack per discard. I get the feeling that, unlike when I’m using him as Neverborn, there’s going to be a high incentive for Ten Thunders Lynch to hold some of those aces through multiple turns to exploit these and previous discard-based abilities.
So, lots of ideas paired up with a little bit of actual playtest experience is all I can throw out this time. My Vassal opponent is probably a little tired of Lynch (or at least Nexus of Power on Hungering Darkness) but I’ll have to see what I can do to get more testing time in with the new stuff. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a quick public service announcement. When painting, if you find your bottle of Vallejo paint has clogged up in the nozzle with dried product, do not attempt to clear the clog by squeezing harder.
It can only end in sorrow.
Sunday, September 29, 2013
Tonight marks the end for one of the greatest television shows in history, Breaking Bad. Over several years of watching, we’ve watched as Walter White has transformed from a down-on-his-luck Chemistry teacher with lung cancer, trying to make some money for his family to megalomaniac mass murderer and drug kingpin. We’ve all suffered through this season as, predictably, it’s all fallen down around Walt’s ears. We all hate him now (at least I hope so. If you’re a #TeamWalt person, I’m puzzled and slightly terrified of you at this point.) We’ve watched as, in showrunner Vince Gilligan’s words, Mr. Chips has turned into Scarface. And tonight it comes to an end. To commemorate the occasion (and get an easy post topic out of it,) I decided to take some time and discuss one of my favorite masters in Malifaux, every Malifool’s favorite drug dealer, Jacob Lynch. So, without further ado…
To start, let me just say that I love Jacob Lynch as a character. I bought his whole crew when he was released at Gencon 2012 and painted them up faster than any I had bought previously. It could just be my proclivity for cheering for the morally complex bad guys (I still think Lex Luthor has a point about Superman) but this crew has always been attractive to me. I like the look. I like the focus on card advantage. These guys are my kind of scum.
Lynch is the proprietor of the Honeypot casino, a den of debauchery where any vice can be explored with the right amount of scrip. The story started out with him down on his luck, about to end up on the wrong side of a loan with the Ten Thunders and desperate. Enter Messirs Graves and Tannen, a pair of disguised Neverborn with an offer he can’t refuse. You see, something old and unspeakable lives below the Honeypot (that’s quite the double entendre sentence), a creature from the age of the tyrants who just wants to find a host to latch onto so it can get out and feed. All Lynch has to do is bind with this Hungering Darkness and spread his influence through the city in the form of Brilliance, the most potent and intoxicating Narcotic to hit Malifaux and which, incidentally, allows the HD to feed off of their essence until only a burned out shell remains. Fast forward, and the Honeypot is a runaway success. Customers are streaming in to try their luck at the tables, spend time with the beautiful ladies, and have a taste of the good stuff that makes it all possible. But Misaki knows what resides inside Lynch now and wants to use it for her own purposes, while the Neverborn could frankly give a damn what they want, being interested only in the corruption and ultimate destruction of the humans who have invaded their home. Once again, Lynch finds himself being pulled between two masters who, if we’re being honest, don’t EXACTLY have his best interests at heart, and trying to find a way to get out from under their thumbs with his skin intact.
In his first iteration, Lynch played very much as his fluff would suggest. He was pretty unassuming and basically snuck around the board completing objectives while the rest of the crew induced havoc. In 2nd edition, by contrast, he appears to have embraced some of the powers made available to him and has become quite a bit more “hands on” in his approach. His main offensive weapon, his hold out pistol, has a trigger for each suit and the ability to pitch a card from his hand and apply that suit to the duel total. The most obvious is the Ram trigger that converts his damage profile to 4/5/6, but the others can be situationally useful as well. Lynch also has an unorthodox ability called Ace in the Hole that allows him to grab any aces flipped or discarded by other members of his crew before they hit the discard pile, effectively allowing them to utilize Defensive Stance and abilities like Rapid Fire and Flurry without giving up card advantage, which we all know I appreciate. But when his activation comes around, what do we do with all those aces? Well, there’s always his (0) action, Mulligan, that lets him shuffle three cards into his deck and draw three new ones which, when paired with his “Woke Up With a Hand” upgrade, basically allows you to draw a brand new hand at the end of your turn in exchange for waiting to activate Lynch last. Also, though I’ve never successfully used the ability, the same upgrade gives him a (1) action called Final Debt where a target with the Brilliance condition takes a point of damage for each card in Lynch’s hand.
I’ve read a couple of different suggestions on how to use Lynch in games. Obviously he’s a much more effective combatant now, but he still has no real defensive abilities besides making people take two damage when they cheat in a duel with him. As such you kind of have to pick your spots with him and make sure he’s well supported. I personally like to save him for the end of the turn and use Mulligan and Woke Up With A Hand to ensure that I can dominate any duels that Lynch is involved in since my opponent will likely have depleted their control hand by that point. The holdout pistol’s ram trigger gives him a surprisingly effective damage output. Others have suggested utilizing his “Play for Blood” attack to spread more Brilliance through the crew, effectively using Lynch to optimize things for his minions, but I’ve personally found the Beckoners and, to a lesser extent, Hungering Darkness to be better at that job, especially given the fact that “Under the Influence” drops off at the end of the turn. His walk of 4 makes him not particularly speedy, so objective grabbing is probably better accomplished by other crew members as well. So, honestly, I think the best way to use Lynch is probably as a hand manipulator and surgical damage dealer.
Also, a sharp dresser
Of course, just like Walt, Lynch can’t do it all on his own. He needs a partner, though in this case his partner is a lot more Gus Fringe and a lot less Jessie Pinkman. The real power of the crew, both in terms of the fluff and on the tabletop, is the Hungering Darkness. Despite resembling the Nightmare Edition of a Hungry-Hungry Hippo (Gencon 2014), the HD is one of the nastiest melee monsters in the game. A 50mm based model with a 3” melee range basically means everything is within his threat radius on the second turn. He’s incorporeal and heals himself with successful melee attacks. He has an enemies only Obey spell. He gets plus flips to basically everything when you are “Under the Influence.” And all this comes before you put any upgrades on him.
Taste me you will see, more is all you need…
Of course, probably the most important upgrade choice you make for HD actually gets played on Lynch. Both are limited, so you have to make a call here, but the choice is between either giving HD an additional CA action per turn (his melee attacks run off of Ca) and makes him Terrifying (All) or gives him Bad Juju’s “When this model would be killed, bury it instead” and lets you resummon him when a Brilliant model dies. This was actually kind of a quandary for me when they introduced this change between the closing of the Beta and publishing the rulebook. I can see games where both would be useful. The ability to effectively prevent any scoring from killing HD (since burying him doesn’t count as killing him) makes it a pretty solid denial tactic for Reckoning or henchman-kill based schemes. On the other hand, if you know you’re playing Ressers or one of the construct-based Arcanists, Terrifying All becomes worth an investment, to say nothing of the added offensive power. I tend to alternate between the two, particularly when running the crew as Neverborn (Nexus of Power is incredibly strong on the big guy and can make Rising Sun sort of superfluous.) We’ll have to see if, after several games, one ends up supplanting the other.
The friendly staff members of the Honeypot are always ready to serve.
The two remaining “in theme” models for the crew are Beckoners and The Illuminated. Beckoners were previously almost too good, effectively spreading Brilliance through the enemy crew at will and giving you the ability to lock down most models in the opposing crew by putting them on negative flips to hit them. They’ve been toned down a bit at this point, but two of them are probably still an auto-include in most Lynch builds. Lure is just too powerful of an ability to ignore in an objective based game. They still have the negative flip to opposing models’ attacks when Brilliant, but their “The Party Never Ends” range has shrunk significantly, making it easier for models to get away from them and sober up. They’re not going to kill anybody, but that’s not what they’re here for. Put them in. Paint ‘em up pretty. Thank me later.
I am not an expert on the Illuminated, I’ll confess. The first time I tried to use one in a 2nd edition game, it had a bad case of “new model syndrome,” walking up behind cover against a Sonnia player only to be set on fire by a Witchling I had lured in and subsequently blasted to pieces by her on the first turn. My take on them at this point is that they’re worth including now and then but will probably see limited use after the Wave 2 minions come out, simply because they seem to be pretty good at a lot of things but not great at anything. I like the combination of armor, regen, and their Brillshaper healing spell for resilience, and Flay is always good, but the model’s statline is otherwise fairly unremarkable and their ability to spread brilliance requires a trigger and isn’t particularly efficient even when you do hit it. If they were a bit cheaper I’d be singing a different tune, and it’s possible I’m just off base or not using them right, but they just don’t feel like you’re getting a full 7 stones worth of model with these guys and, unfortunately, will probably be replaced by better options once we see what’s coming with Wave 2.
Update: Many people have written/commented to me that the Illuminated are, in fact, better than I’m giving them credit for here. One of them did help me to win a game the previous weekend (as I’ll discuss in my upcoming post about Vassal,) mostly by being able to weather a storm of ice blasts from Rasputina while in defensive stance to hold the Turf War marker. Certainly, Armor+Regen+Brillshaper makes for a pretty tough model. Also, against a Brilliant target they will certainly do a lot of damage. I maintain my concern that the model may end up on a pile of “hey, remember those things? They were pretty good” once Wave 2 comes out, but I wanted to make sure people are aware that this may be a minority opinion on my part.
The question of what faction to run the Lynch crew with has always been a little one-sided for me from a feel perspective. He just seems like he fits better with the Neverborn. These are horrific monsters doing terrible things to the people who step through the casino doors, and you don’t get much more Neverborn than that. Plus, my Cade and Teddy are both wearing formal attire, so they’re dressed and ready for a night on the town with Lynch. Mechanically, the Neverborn fit well with him as well. As mentioned, Nexus of Power played on HD makes him pretty difficult to take down simply by pouring Soulstone’s down the big guy’s throat to heal any damage the opponent puts on him. Terror Tots become some of the best objective grabbers in the game if you can manage to cycle through your deck and find the ace of masks, since you can cheat the flip for their sprint ability then pick the AoM back up thanks to Lynch. The Doppleganger gets a number of tasty (1) actions to copy between HD, the Beckoners, and the Tot’s unlimited sprinting. Teddy gets to flurry for free and provides a pretty solid 1-2 punch with the HD. I’ve played them much more often as Neverborn, and have never felt that I was missing out.
That’s not to say that the Thunders don’t bring some solid advantages as well. Recalled training is just good no matter who you put it on. The Archers get to Rapid Fire for free thanks to Lynch, and their ability to shoot into melee at will makes them pretty useful to back up the HD. I’ve always liked putting Yamaziko and Hungering Darkness together to form a massive wall of denial in the mid-board, especially for scenarios like Squatter’s Rights. Misdirection is always handy and, with the ace of masks trick, can end up being pretty effective to block opponents’ attacks against your Henchmen and/or Enforcers late in the turn when the opponent’s hand is shrinking.
Personally, I don’t think you can go wrong and your choice may just come down to preference and playstyle. Lynch is overall a good crew with some very interesting tricks. I don’t know that he’s ever going to end up being classified into whatever shakes out as the “Top Tier,” but I also don’t think the crew has very many particularly bad match-ups either. I’m interested to see what they do with the rest of the crew in Wave 2 (using the Depleted for reliable, cheap objective grabbers would be excellent.) In the meantime, have fun spreading addiction and corruption through Malifaux, and let’s all hope that Walt finally gets what’s coming to him, and that Jessie gets revenge on that piece of crap Todd.
See you next time.
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