Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Fear and Loathing with the Ortega Family

I spent most of last week struggling with Pandora, trying to get my head wrapped about what she is supposed to do in games now, with limited success. Wrabbit37 expressed some views on how this should work now, and I’ve adopted some of them, including the use of the Fears Given Form upgrade on both Pandora and Candy to essentially utilize their 3” melee bubbles to create zones of area denial around them, enabling some significant control and denial for your opponents. This happens at the expense of what the old crew did, which was pound WP attacks relentlessly to get the most out of Pandora’s Misery ability and the free wounds, which is a more-or-less inevitable adjustment for the current model as her 6 CA will struggle a bit going up against WP in a lot of cases. As such (and because I received my Evil Baby Orphanage Kickstarter reward models) I refocused the crew to test out some of this new stuff.
Given that the crew utilizes Self-Loathing and Fears Given Form upgrades extensively, it seems only logical for the crew name to continue to be…


Date of Rules 6/20
SS 35
Deployment Standard
Strategy Squatter's Rights
Scheme Pool LitS, Bodyguard, Protect Territory, Make them Suffer, Breakthrough
Game Time: 2 hrs.

Master 1 Pandora
VPs Strategy 3, Bodyguard 3, Make them Suffer (Announced) 0

Master 2 Perdita
VPs Strategy 1, Bodyguard 0, Protect Territory 0

Fear and Loathing Crew
Pandora (Fears Given Form, The Box Opens)
Candy (Fears Given Form)
Primordial Magic

So I’m playing against Guild (again) who know that I’m playing Pandora (again) and I get a very strong suspicion early on that I’m going to be getting Perdita, her family, and her ancestral Aura thrown at me (again). And sure enough…

Ortegas Crew
Perdita (Ancestral Aura, Vengeance Bullet)
Francisco (Armor 1, something else)
Santiago (Destreza Master)
Enslaved Nephilim

Ah well. I guess this is me paying penance for 1e Pandora…

Plans: Given my suspicions that it would be Ortegas coming for me, I knew they wouldn't have very many minions or peons, so “Make them Suffer” seemed like a logical choice. In retrospect, it's one that is probably best not to announce, as the opponent can hide their stuff from you (as happened in game) to deny you all 3 points. Basically, I was planning on taking one flank and castling up to make the opponent come dislodge me while I scored VPs every turn for Squatter’s Rights and Bodyguard. Of course, Perdita is playing Protect Territory, so she may just as likely castle up herself and we can sit on opposite ends of the board glaring at each other. I was gambling that wasn't going to happen, I suppose.

The Perdita player’s plan was fairly clever, in that she basically laid out a 4” equilateral triangle of scheme  markers in her half of the board for protect territory, which she could then score pretty easily assuming anyone was still alive. She misunderstood that you can’t call your leader for bodyguard, so on turn 3 she discovered that she was going to have to change plans, which ended up being a problem.

Game Synopsis

Turn 1 consisted of positioning and me remembering why we don’t put height 3 or taller terrain in deployment zones, as a vantage pointed Nino started off pecking at Teddy with a shot. 0-0

Turn 2 Santiago moved into melee with Teddy, both to get in close and to extend Nino’s disruption of Interact actions to lay over the top of both of my Squatter markers. Between Teddy and Kade we drop Santiago to his Hard to Kill. Francisco moves in with Face Me to push Santiago out to safety and take his place. Pandora tries to use the attack from the Box Opens, since it targets defense, to  minimal effect, before walking  so Candy won’t have to take the DF 14 duel from Fears given Form. Candy flips a squatter marker, moves, heals Teddy. ‘Dita drops some the three markers and flips a Squatter thing between her AP and the Nephilim (presumably he was interacing with Santiago or Francisco to do this. I don’t remember.) 0-0

Turn 3 ‘Dita Red Joker shoots the now exposed Pandora and then shoots her again. Pandora dies. Adam is sad. I console myself by killing Francisco and then flipping my second squatter marker. Santiago runs and flips another marker for the Ortegas. Teddy chases him, attempts to use Gobble You Up, and fails because it’s defended with WP and Santiago is an Ortega. Teddy walks into melee instead, accompanied by the sad Incredible Hulk hitch hiking music. Candy follows to console him (and get Santiago inside her engagement range.) End of turn I declare bodyguard on Candy. We discover that Perdita can’t be the target of bodyguard and, given that S. is going to die in a moment only Nino is a legal and/or wise target for it. As such, 2-1 is the score.

Turn 4 ‘Dita shoots some stuff. Kade offs Santiago. Teddy turns his attentions to Perdita and drops a Red Joker hug on her but doesn’t kill her. Nino tries to scramble down from terrain so he can get away from the deployment zone and score for Bodyguard. The Enslaved Neph runs away so I can’t kill it. Candy flips the enemy squatter marker to be friendly. 4-1

Turn 5 Dita relocates out of melee with Teddy. Shoots him some. Nino finishes him off. Baby team hunkers down. 6-1

Lessons Learned: This game had 3 different Red Joker damage flips, which makes judging things about what happened in the game tricky since there was a lot of flukiness. That said…frickin’ Pandora dies on turn 3?!?

 *expletive deleted*

Oh well, I had considered playing with Candy as a Henchman leading the crew, so I guess this was my chance. Teddy and Kade mauled the hell out of stuff in this game. I had underestimated the beating Kade can lay out when paired up with Teddy, especially if he hits that Sweetbreads trigger (4/5/8 damage spread? Good lord.) It’s always a little tricky to gauge what effect Candy has on the game, given that her most effective abilities rarely go off because the opponent will alter their activation order to avoid them (which is the idea behind the model) but she didn’t feel like she was all that involved in the game. The only casts she did all game were goody baskets to heal Teddy. Basically, her function in the crew outside of this was A) Don’t die and B) Flip Squatter markers. Admittedly, this won me the game, but it’s not as if no one else could have handled that job. I do think that the enemy crew being a ranged group probably played a part in this as well, as the enemy was much less likely to start in melee with me.

I have a hard time rationalizing why I would want Pandora over Lillith with the Fears Given Form and Thirsty Mandrake upgrades. You’re trading mobility, I suppose, but you have a much more balanced model who attacks at 7 and goes after defense, which is on average lower than WP. If you give her the transfixing gaze, you can pull enemies to you. Kade has Lure for some other tricky synergy. Basically you’re losing the ability to Incite into controlling models (which is huge, obviously) but that’s…kind of it, unless there’s something I’m missing here.

Aaaanyways, here’s some pictures of models I painted.

Baby Kade/Copycat Killer/Jack the Ripper

Candy/Student of Conflict/Lizzie Borden

Eric the Red/Desperate Mercenary

Teddy to come in the future. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Fear and Loathing in the Badlands, Pandora v. Lillith 30SS

Quick game report detailing a Pandora v. Lillith game.

Rules 13/6/13
30 SS
Strategy: Squatter's Rights
Deployment: Flank
Scheme pool: Line in the sand, Distract, Breakthrough, Plant Explosives, Power Ritual

Crew 1: Pandora (Nexus, Box Opens, -Flip to WP upgrade, 4SS)
              2  Sorrow
              Primordial Magic

Strategy: 2 vp
Scheme 1 Breakthrough (announced) 1 vp
Scheme 2:Plant Explosives (announced) 0 vp

Crew 2: Lillith (Gaze, Sword upgrade, base cache)
             3 Tots
             Barbaros (Crushing upgrade thing)
             Primordial Magic

Strategy: 2 vps
Scheme 1: Breakthrough (announced) 3 vps
Scheme 2: Power Ritual 3 vps

8-3 to Lillith

Key Data from the game:
I was beaten essentially from crew construction here, as I was building a crew with the Doppleganger and Waldgeist with sorrows to try and castle the middle of the board and then break for the deployment zone at the end, figuring I could drop a marker for plant explosives and get points when the inevitable clash happened, while my opponent took the obvious synergy of breakthrough and power ritual and basically built a Tot, Barbaros, Lillith crew to scrambled for the corners with the tots while Lillith and Barbaros chopped through my crew in the center. Sprint did what it does here, with Power Ritual essentially completed at the end of the first turn. I was going to need some card help to even try to make this competitive, and I didn't get it. Barbaros and Pandora were on even card flips when she attacked him, which really didn't feel right (insert perpetual grumbling about Pandora's cast of 6 here). Barbaros stood in and weathered the whole crew for a turn, having one wound remaining but then pushing all my models off with his crash ability to slow me down from taking squatter tokens and then being saved by Lillith with Tangled Shadows to avoid Sorrow death. While I did manage to kill Lillith, she had ostensibly butchered all my sorrows, my waldgeist, and my doppleganger before I could get it done. In the end I had Pandora running but not able to drop a breakthrough marker and the Primordial Magic in the enemy deployment zone, counting for 1.

Pandora's crew needs a heavy hitter like Teddy, I think, as you really can't rely on her to kill things in any kind of timely manner. Gone are the days of just being able to trust that she's going to accomplish the things I send her to do at the beginning of the turn, which is partially me still adjusting to the new soulstone use rules and partially my continued frustration with her less than stellar CA. I was also hurt by the lack of ranged symbol on anything in Lillith's crew, as it meant using Pandora at range meant throwing the spell that needs two masks or the one that targets defense, neither of which were optimal since I was trying to play with a smaller SS pool and the Lillith crew has much higher defense than Willpower. Pair that up with an opponent who played very intelligently in managing Pandora's Terrifying by essentially ignoring her and attacking other things in Lillith's melee range and me playing on tilt for most of the game out of frustration (seriously, a hand of ace, four, four, eight, nine, and black joker on turn 2?), and you have the formula for a pretty one-sided match.

I did enjoy using the Doppelganger, though I don't know if it's really worth 7 stones. I do wish the model had instinctual, as the choice between using Mimic or her - flips ability basically means the difference between life and death for this model versus being able to actually play her as a Doppelganger and steal spells. Poor hands made the Initiative cheating essentially useless. Stealing misery loves company from a sorrow, however, made for some fun maneuverability, as I jumped up onto a tot who was guarding one of the squatter tokens and flipped it for my team, since she can do interacts while engaged.

Maybe I need to give Pandora  a break and try some of the other Neverborn masters while I gather my thoughts, as Zoraida would have undoubtedly been better at this scenario and Lillith demonstrated pretty effectively how much trouble she could cause in this one. I'm doing a lot of complaining in this when, bottom line, I was just out played in this game. A heavy swampfiend crew with Sillurids, Juju, and Big Z could have made for some amusing times, I'm thinking, and done a better job of chasing down those markers. More testing required, I suppose.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Malifaux 2nd Edition Beta Playtesting and Game Thoughts

I’ve begun playtesting Malifaux 2nd Edition, playing two games with the 6/7 rules set and one game from the most recent. I will try to keep these brief so that we aren’t here all day, and try to wrap up with some points on the matter.

Date of rules played 6/9/13
SS Amount 40
Deployment Type Standard
Strategy Reconnoiter
Available Schemes Assassinate, Line in the Sand, Cursed Object, Breakthrough, Capture

Master 1 McMourning (Guild)
Scheme 1 Line in the Sand
Scheme 2 Cursed Object
VPs earned, Reconnoiter 1, Line in the Sand 3, Cursed Object 0

Master 2 Sonnia
Scheme 1 Line in the Sand (Hidden)
Scheme 2 Cursed Object
VPs earned, Reconnoiter 4, Line in the Sand 2, Cursed Object 0

Additional optional information:
Time it took to complete the game 90 Minutes
Crew compositions 
McMourning (The three mcmourning guild upgrades) , Sebastian (Lead-Lined Jacket), Zombie Chihuahua, 2 Nurses, Death Marshal

Thoughts on the game
Key Turn(s) in the game

Turn 2 Sonnia was whittled down nearly to nothing between McMourning and Sebastian, Sebastian's catalyst was going to finish her off, due to initiative lined it up so McMourning would push out of 6 damage blast but blast kills Sebastian, Witchling, and a Death Marshal. Was in good shape at this point and was going to weather a rapid-fire from Sam Hopkins the next turn, but a red joker damage flip kills McM and leaves me playing for schemes.

Date of rules played 6/12/13
SS Amount 40
Deployment Type Flank
Strategy Reckoning
Available Schemes Line in the Sand, Distract, Entourage, 

Master 1 Pandora 
Scheme 1 Distract (Hidden)
Scheme 2 Entourage (Revealed)
VPs earned Reckoning 0 Distract 2 Entourage 0

Master 2 Perdita 
Scheme 1 Line in the Sand
Scheme 2 Entourage (Revealed)
VPs earned, Reckoning 1, Line in the Sand 3, Entourage 3

Additional optional information:
Time it took to complete the game 2 Hours (playing against someone relatively inexperienced with M2E stuff.

Thoughts on the game
-Ancestral Aura was key for Perdita. I spent most of the game dancing around a 4 Ortega bubble, trying to lure them out or find a way to do any damage. Pandora's AOE spell on the four of them failed to do any wounds twice in a row. 
-Was playing on a board with not enough area terrain to prevent Ortega shooting advantage. Candy was getting plinked by Nino on turn one. Burned through most of our soulstones turn one, rest on turn 2. Candy dead before anything could really happen on turn2.
-Sorrows were good! Admittedly, opponent seemed more concerned about Pandora but more than once it took some fancy footwork to avoid Francisco dying when activating. 8" move is very good. Was how I put distract up.

Rules: 6/13

Deployment: Flank
Strategy: Turf War
Schemes: Bodyguard, Plant Explosives, Breakthrough, Entourage

Line in the Sand (Announced), Plant Explosives 
VPS 7 (4 from Turf War, 3 from Plant Explosives)

Somer Teeth
Line in the Sand (Announced), Bodyguard
VPs 5 (2 from Turf War, 1 from Bodyguard, 2 from Line in the Sand)

Thoughts on the game
Mcmourning-Badge, On the Clock, Plant Evidence
Francisco-Wade In, Healing
Sebastian-Lead Lined Coat
Witchling Stalker
2 Austringers

Somer with Can O' Beans, Quality Mash, Family Tree, and a soulstone cache of 6
Lenny with I'll Love It and Pet It
4 bayou gremlins
2 mosquitos
1 hog whisperer
3 piglets

Key Turn(s) in the game
My witchling did very little in the game, as I underestimated the long range bayou gremlins now have and he was shot to death on the first couple turns. I did, however, enjoy the drawn to pain trigger as a means of running them into the enemy before they blow up. Nurse ended up tied up by a skeeter. Austringers owned this game, as no shooting symbols and long ranges with no LoS meant they could peck the enemy crew to death from the other end of the board, while engaged, with almost no effort. Skeeter farts are resisted with WP for some reason, and they have 7WP to resist. Legit, possibly too good. Sebastian was ok, but again I was not overwhelmed by his contributions. I was denied turning the enemy’s scheme markers into my own to accomplish Line in the Sand by getting caught by disengaging strikes from Somer and the gremlin player accidentally putting one of their markers off of the center line, meaning after I flipped it to friendly it still didn’t give me two markers. Also, Francisco tanked three piglets and the hog whisperer all on his own. Francisco is also very legit.

Malifaux 2.0 So Far
I’ve been trying to play McMourning since I just completed my own Mad Doctor’s degree and, as such, it’s a way to live vicariously in the troublesome world of Malifaux. What this is doing to me now, however, is making it so I’m playing with a very different character every week. I’m supposed to be staying out of melee with him, I’m told, and use him as a support master…yeah, that hasn’t happened so far. He doesn’t lay the beatings out like he used to, but I needed to get him up into the enemy’s face to get the mission done in both games. I think having the Badge of Office may have changed the first game with Jon’s ultimate result, as I could throw that red joker shot down to 1 and then dash up and cut Sam to pieces. I’m almost to the point of just throwing out the Poison mechanic as something I’m even going to bother with at this point, as even with catalyst I’m not seeing enough damage go by to actually make it worthwhile. That said, I haven’t really gotten the chance to see it shine yet, and Sebastian’s ability to make it tick for 3 damage a click might make a difference (it didn’t happen that way in the third game, as yet again Sebastian was pummeled to death early and stupid Lenny is immune to conditions, so no poison.) I can see the viability in the nurses and I’ve done some cool things with them, but it just hasn’t fallen together in the games I’ve played with her so far. More meaningful testing will be required before I can really make a conclusion there.

Pandora was a real mixed bag of a game. First of all, I was in the worst case scenario as I was going up against a Perdita opponent who KNEW I WAS PLAYING PANDORA. As such, I have the Ancestral Aura upgrade, which is mediocre when you don’t know who you have to play against, making the enemy Ortegas all at least a WP of 7, meaning I’m running uphill from the word go and would find myself at various points in the game failing to successfully cast anything during certain turns of the game (I did her AoE spell twice in a row hitting all four non-explosive Ortegas, along with an Incite, and the enemy failed no WP duels.) Pair that up with playing on a forested board with not a ton of area cover to protect my crew from shooting and flank deployment where the Ortegas will be shooting at us on turn one, and we have a formula for trouble. This is confirmed when Nino and Perdita are shooting Candy immediately and she is dead at the beginning of turn 2. That said, I still came within a breath of pulling this thing off, with Santiago pulling Francisco out of 2 Sorrows’ grasp that would have killed him upon activation on Turn 3. The Neverborn upgrade where they heal with soulstone use would have been pretty clutch in this game, but I put it on Candy instead of Pandora since I was unaware that auras now affect the model emitting them. Whoops, lesson learned for next time. Sorrows were a rather pleasant surprise in this game, as their Misery Loves Company gives them some impressive mobility, particularly paired with Distract. The real key to this crew seems to really be controlling enemy activations, a lesson I didn’t exactly glom onto until I was about halfway into the game. I didn’t want to be the ambush guy and take over Francisco with Candy and, so, allowed the player to finish their activation and was going to explain the rules for that afterwards. This, of course, didn’t happen since Francisco and Perdita then companion chained to kill Candy. Oh well, another lesson learned. This game was also when I discovered the real potency Francisco brings to the game, between his additional mobility granted to the crew, his difficulty in killing, and the passing out of defenses to the crew. Very, very impressive model now, and very nearly an auto-include for most Guild crews I would have to think.  

Monday, May 6, 2013

Thoughts On Second Edition and It's Reception Amongst the Community

I’m sure the majority of readers have heard some mention of the big announcement from late last week that Malifaux will be receiving an update to a 2nd edition, which is going to involve significant changes to the game we all know and love. Mike Marshall has done a fine job of rounding up all the information Wyrd has made available through numerous podcast outlets on his blog, so I won’t feel the need to go through it all again here. I have to say that I was initially surprised to see the level of change that was coming to the game, as I was expecting more or less a pass-through and clean-up of the rules and a general rebalancing of some of the minions and masters considered to need an adjustment with any edition change. Instead, the game appears to be changing significantly, with complete rewrites to most models’ stats and significant alterations to the core rules of the game.

This was, understandably, a bit of a surprise.

The game is changing in some very exciting ways. An alteration in the way soulstones work will take a step to improve a potential imbalance between masters that directly interact with enemy models as opposed to those which play a support role. The current mechanism of burning a soulstone to add an additional card to your flip will be replaced by allowing a soulstone user to add positive twists to their flips and/or by using them to add a suit to their casting. I can imagine that Resurectionist crews will be thrilled with that second change, if they continue to have the same reliance on crows for their spells that they currently possess. They are also adding an ability to burn stones before your draw phase to draw an additional 2 cards before discarding back to your original hand size, thus improving your crew’s ability to utilize them if your master dies.

Perhaps the biggest change comes from the alteration to remove many of the abilities from most masters and minions and transferring them to “upgrades” which are purchased through soulstones while hiring the crew. Beyond general alterations to the characters themselves (one mention was made towards adding an ability to Seamus allowing him to bury himself and then spring from the shadows to attack enemy models) many of the abilities we associate with masters will be purchased individually, allowing for a greater degree of customization. I’m intrigued by this idea, as it allows for one to set the masters up to possess only the abilities you think will be needed for a particular game/crew/strategy and will increase the diversity of matchups when paired against the same master in multiple games. This upgrade system will also be available to a lesser extent for minions and what are newly going to be classified as “henchmen,” named minions that can potentially lead small crews on their own like The Judge.

The game is also going to see an increased focus on schemes. All strategies will be shared, but the individual diversity in games will come from scheme selection rather than each player flipping their own strategy, and this will be reflected by an increase in points for the schemes themselves. To ensure the diversity of the games, players will assemble a pool of schemes from which players will pick at the beginning of the game, which should prevent players from taking only Kidnap when using the Neverborn or the ever-present bodyguard/hold out combination. This is another change that I’ll have to see in person to judge. I’m initially somewhat put off by the reduction in importance of the strategy to be worth only ½ the points available from schemes, but I suppose it’s possible that this just represents a bias introduced by playing Malifaux Classic for several years. Still, I’ll be curious to see if accomplishing strategies ends up being devalued compared to both players pushing for schemes, and whether the increase in points from the schemes themselves will actually lead to people leaving their schemes hidden, as the game designers have postulated. I do, however, enjoy the idea of the schemes relying on placement of so-called “Scheme Markers,” generic objective markers placed by minions which can be used either as intended or as a bluff to throw off the opponent, particularly when one of the schemes is essentially “lure enemy models to your scheme markers and blow them up.”

There are a number of other alterations to the core  game as well, not the least of which is the alteration to the avatar manifestation rules, which I think sound like a rather elegant solution to the various balance problems presented by their previous incarnations. Essentially, all avatar manifestation will require building a manifestation “stack” by flipping a card every turn (cheatable) and adding its numerical value until reaching a certain target number, at which point the avatar will automatically appear. The avatars will have their effect on the game, and every time they are damaged a card will be removed from the pool until it runs out, at which point the avatar will be removed and the master will return in their original state. Obviously I don’t know enough yet to comment on this change, but I think that the general consensus that avatars didn’t quite live up to the potential people expected of them means that this change could end up being very positive for the game.

The reaction from most of the community has been surprisingly positive, all things considered. I’ve lived through edition changes in RPGs and and MMOs like WoW before, so I expected a certain level of “sky is falling” panic and resistance to change, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how receptive much of the community has been to the changes. However, there have been those who don’t concur, and one of them concerns me quite a bit. Bill Anderson, host of the Gamer’s Lounge podcast and writer of the Dead Tau Project blog, has been vocally opposed to many of the announced changes, due in large part to his perception that the change to Malifaux 2 is going to introduce a reduction in complexity in the game, among other things. He has discussed what he can of these concerns on his blog, and apparently feels strongly enough about it and has made this opinion so clearly known that he has become persona non-grata amongst Wyrd employees. I have a great deal of respect for Bill and his knowledge of game systems. I enjoy listening to the Gamer’s Lounge (I’m going to use the present tense, though the departure of two of their co-hosts today and Bill’s own statements regarding his diminishing motivation to continue makes me wonder if this will be the case for much longer) and have appreciated the length they’ve gone to disprove a number of the generally held misconceptions amongst the community (Ressers are underpowered, Nekima is unplayable in her current form, etc.) However, there can be no doubt that this group of players isn’t shy about letting people know when they disagree with them and aren’t always politic when stating their opinion. The fact that this dispute seems to have moved into the personal realm and the fact that I’m not privy to any of the details behind what occurred during the playtest process to create this rift between Wyrd and someone who has, historically, been one of their strongest supporters, makes it difficult to know how much of this feud is influencing Bill’s negative opinion. Still, it is enough to raise a level of concern.

However, from what I have heard thus far, I can say that my overall reaction to the details has been positive. Malifaux is my game of choice, and I don’t see that changing any time soon. There can be no doubt that I have lost potential players in my group due to the complexity in the game and the perceived high entry point for new players, so a reduction in this complexity, with the capability to add some of it back through upgrades, may be exactly the change that the game needs to continue to thrive going into the future. A number of the changes sound positive (McMourning as a Resser sounds like two tons of fun), and I’m looking forward to finding out what the future of Malifaux has to offer. I’ve intentionally not discussed some of the faction changes so I can save them for a future blog entry. Edition changes in other games always result in turnover from members of the old player base who don’t care to make the jump, but assuming the Wyrd Staff have done their job (and given the popularity of Book 4, I’m willing to extend them the benefit of the doubt) the game will hopefully draw in more players than it loses and continue to thrive. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Lillith vs. Misaki Round 2: Lillith's Revenge

I played the second round of the campaign today. Misaki and company were paired up once again to face Lillith and her hordes of Nephilim, this time with big sister along to help out.

25 point individual strategies
Misaki-Treasure Hunt
Same crew as before, but with ranged expert on the archer
Schemes-Eye for an Eye and Holdout

Lillith-Escape and Survive…again
Nekima-with bond
3xTerror Tots, one of which had acquired slow from the last game
4 Soulstones + 4 more for not taking any schemes

Apparently my opponent was unaware that you get 2 stones for skipping a scheme rather than one, so she was pleased to know she gets 4 extra stones rather than 2, though I question the wisdom of not taking any schemes. We were playing on a forested board with the graveyard special terrain feature in the center, though not likely to make much of a difference given that neither of our crews had graverobbers. We deployed in our corners and set up for the game.
The first turn consisted mainly of Nekima boosting the tots to let them grow into a young neph and then moving up, with the rest of the Lillith crew repositioning as well and one of the tots sprinting to go stand on my treasure counter. Misaki was slingshotted forward to go and deal with the tot, and the archer took a couple steps up to line up a shot on Nekima, dealing a few points of damage.
Unfortunately, this would prove to be a misstep, as the next turn Nekima charged over Misaki and ate my archer. The combination of Nekima-Lillith-and the young nephilim activating together proved to be significantly more troublesome than I expected. Misaki lived through Lillith’s attacks and survived the charge of the young nephilim, but the subsequent melee expert attack hit a tie, resulting in the red joker-severe death of my master (seems fair, I suppose, since I did the same to Lillith last game.) I was pretty well hosed at this point, but thought I could maybe pull it out from schemes, particularly as Yamaziko was alive to still use my 6 remaining soulstones. She celebrated by gutting Nekima, but the battle was still going to be very uphill.
Yamaziko survived the subsequent charge from Lillith and her young, leaving her at one wound. She cast her healing spell at herself and flipped the red joker, healing back to full, and killed the young Nephilim. This, unfortunately, would prove to be the end of my good fortune in this game. I tried to walk Yamaziko out of Lillith’s melee range to go grab the treasure counter and attempt to hunker down for a strategic withdrawal, but it wasn’t to be. Lillith caught Yamaziko with the disengaging strike, killed the torekage and then finished off the old lady over the next several turns. I had at this point, however, managed to drop her below the number of remaining models she needed to get 2 points from Escape and Survive, and as such the game ended in a 0-0 tie.
With my free barter counter I flipped a 10 and purchased combat expert, applying it to Yamaziko to move her up to cb7. Obviously, the lack of schemes taken by my opponent played a role in determining the outcome of the game, but the fact that she took them meant that Lillith had a massive excess of soulstones compared to what would have been available otherwise, and she had tapped well into that excess to finish me off during the game. As such, it’s difficult to predict what would have happened. I’m not sure whether moving Misaki after the treasure counter that quickly was a good idea or not, although it will end up being required for the new version of the strategy from the updated gaining grounds, so perhaps it was good practice. In any case, it would have resulted in possibly a turn of safety before the enemy was in charge range anyways. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Misaki vs. Lillith 25SS: A funny thing happened on the way to the supply wagon depot...

Yesterday marked the first round of our campaign conducted through the local game store. Misaki and crew made their way to the game store and lined up to play against Lilith and her crew of vampire-demon Nephilim things. The organizer of the campaign wanted us to include special terrain with the games, so after flipping that I would be playing supply wagon again (opponent had Escape and Survive) we flipped and saw that we were also going to be fighting over some mysterious effigies in this game. So, between the relic counters for campaigns, the effigies, and my supply wagon, there were a number of featureless black disks sitting all over the damned board, which looked somewhat like this.

Ten Thunders Crew

Neverborn Crew
Primordial Magic
3x Terror Tots
1xYoung Nephilim

With diagonal deployment and the rules for the various markers’ placements, things ended up pretty equivalent between us on the board. I set up at the bottom right of my triangle, flanking the wagon with Misaki and Yamaziko and placing the Archer on the roof of the building in my DZ to give it good firing lines on the middle of the board. The Nephilim squad hides back behind their building in their DZ. Tuco, then, deploys from the shadows behind the building to my bottom right. We flipped for initiative, and the game began.

My opponent won initiative and basically split her crew in half, with some going clockwise around her building and Lilith and one tot going the other way with the Primordial Magic. Tuco ended up moving towards my crew pretty early in the turn and breaking the “no attack” effect from deploying from the shadows, which suggested to me that the opponent was not extraordinarily familiar with the speed of a Misaki crew, a lesson that was learned when the Mistress of the Ten Thunders moved into him and dispatched him pretty handily with an assist from Yamaziko. The tots did a lot of sprinting up towards me. I used the Torekage to throw some smoke up and get in position for a second turn flip with Misaki. The archer and Shang poised themselves up on the roof for next turn shooting.

Second turn saw the young Nephilim barrel towards my Torekage, coming up just short of charge range. This was a shame, as the Torekage then flipped with Misaki (who has a 2” melee) and killed him. She was then swamped by tots who, while not really able to do much damage to her, were going to lock me in place for the thing I was afraid of from the minute I drew this opponent, a beating from Lilith. Both from reputation and my own experience, I know that Misaki won’t survive a protracted melee combat against multiple opponents, particularly when is arguably even more smashy than she is. I moved Yamaziko up to try and lend some back-up (though she failed to do anything significant this turn.) One of the tots, knowing the potential damage output of the Ten Thunders Archer,  sprinted towards him but didn’t get the mask it needed to run all the way into melee. He was then rewarded with an arrow to the face. Shang flew to the top-left corner from me to go sit on the relic marker and maybe snipe the primodial magic. And it’s at this point that Lilith did something unexpected, pushing some of us out of place with earthquake and hanging back from melee. I didn’t really understand why until the closing phase when, since I forgot to put someone in place to defend it, when the supply wagon went merrily chugging forward to the middle of the board with no protectors.

Lilith smiled a wicked smile.

She won initiative and walked up to go smash my wagon to flinders (I love that word, even if it did mean I just lost 4 vps.) She only had one AP left, and was worried about getting pecked by the archer, so she cast transposition to flop him and Misaki, leaving the archer in melee range of two tots. I’m not sure how I feel about this move, as she couldn’t have done anything particularly offensive at this point, and it did move the archer out of the way of shooting twice at Lilith, but my Torekage was right there to bail him out and it freed Misaki up for a diving charge on the Mother of Monsters. The Torekage was, admittedly, the Kill Protégé target for my opponent, so it did put him in range to take a shot at finishing him off, but still it was a mixed bag of effects. The tots didn’t manage to hurt the Torekage to any great length (I was relatively impressed with his resilience, to be honest. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised, given that he is a ninja and all.) Shang went up for some totem-on-totem violence and scratched the eyes out of the P.M. And then, the big moment…diving charge from Misaki on Lilith. First attack…misses and leaves me with -2 CB. Second attack…misses. This looks very bad. Final attack I only manage to stone my way to a tie. I flip my three cards for attack…and the second card in is the red joker. Red Joker + Severe damage flip leads to 12 damage for Lilith, and that is one dead vampire lady.

Misaki dropped into a cool ninja pose.

Next turn Yamaziko uses sweep off of her Yari to drop both terror tots, and my opponent was tabled. We called it and let me spread my people out to claim as many markers as I could, and I won 6-0 after getting both my schemes and claiming the mysterious effigies. Cuz, you know, who needs strategy points, anyways?


I always feel a little off playing games against opponents who clearly don’t have the same level of experience as I do, particularly when things are going my way on flips. I don’t enjoy just stomping an opponent into the ground, and I tried to help her out whenever I could without compromising my game for the campaign’s purposes. I’ve also resolved not to injure models with no upgrades in the campaign, as my first experience in the practice game could have left me with a very gimped crew going forward.

The league member who red jokered the “injury” for one of his Death Marshals, on the other hand, may be a different story…

I did, however, screw up completely with protecting the supply wagon. What a dope. I honestly told her, after the game, that if the Red Joker + Severe hadn’t come out on that Lilith attack, there’s a better than even chance that she could have taken that game. 8 defense blooooows. Now I know how people felt trying to attack my Perdita back in the day. And, worse, Lilith drops your CB after the first miss with her vanish ability, leaving me swinging at 5CB against 8 defense with another soulstone user. After the first two attacks missed, I was almost expecting to lose Misaki at that point. I was very much baled out.

                My upgrades after the game had the highest barter card come back at a 9. As I only got to 5 guild scrip (stupid supply wagon…mumble mumble…) I can’t buy a ronin to up my model count, so I used the 9 to buy ranged expert for my archer. Should make him even more capable of shooting things very dead. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Campaign Trial Run

While I was in Omaha on Sunday, I sat down with my friend Jon Goulbourne for a quick run-through game to get an idea of how the Misaki crew I'm planning on using for the upcoming campaign will operate. We cobbled something vaguely resembling terrain onto a board, lined up, and went after it.

My Crew:

Opponent's Crew
Sonia Criid
3x Witchling Stalker
Samael Hopkins
6SS (I think)

My strategies and schemes: Supply Wagon, Stake a Claim, Kill Protege (Sam Hopkins)

Opponent's Strategies and Schemes: Treasure Hunt (Old version), Stake a Claim, Frame for Murder (Sam Hopkins)

Well, that's annoying.

I decided not to get silly about this and just throw into the opponent's crew while leaving Yamaziko to protect the wagon, as her big threat range makes protecting the thing pretty straight forward. Shang would circle around the board to go claim the terrain towards the back of my opponent's half. I mused that our two crews might just wave at each other as they walk past each other. That didn't end up happening...

Early on, I moved forward with the Torekage and swapped him with Misaki for the free 5 inch move. The archer and Shang moved towards the left flank. Jon split his crew up a bit, with one stalker moving towards my right to eventually head towards the claim, the Watcher flying up to go get the treasure from on top of a building in the middle of the board, and Sonnia, Sam, and the remaining stalkers going to my left to go mix it up. Misaki then went, bounced up the board, and proceeded to gut Sam Hopkins and get Sonia and the stalkers into melee with her as well. Sonia puts up inferno, swings at me a few times with her sword, and (this ends up being critical) blocks me off from the crew by dropping flamewalls behind Misaki. Second turn ends with the Torekage unburying on top of the middle terrain, in prime "swap with the archer so he can shoot the treasure counter" position.

Jon wins initiative on the third turn and picks up the counter and high-tails it with his Watcher. I forget that he loses fly and the increased movement, but don't care because putting the treasure counter on top of a building was kind of harsh anyways. The torekage swaps the archer up to the roof, and I reflect on how neat it would be to have companion to make it so the archer could fire now. Also, I remember that Sonia put up Inferno last turn, and ask how many wounds Misaki took from that because I'm a nice guy. Jon says 3, spends another turn not hitting me, recasting inferno, and blocking Yamaziko from healing Misaki. I then gleefully murder Sonia, at which point Jon says "That's fine, I'm good with mutually assured destruction."

I give him a confused puppy dog look.

He then informs me that Inferno goes off and does 6 to everything around Sonia. So that's a dead Misaki, a dead Stalker, and a dead Witchling.


Then one of the remaining witchlings climbs the building and puts the archer into melee. This also annoys me, but I manage to succeed at disengaging despite having a negative twist and plunked the witchling for 3. Later on, Yamaziko climbs to the top of the building and drops that witchling, freeing up the archer to chase down the fleeing watcher and shoot him full o' holes. Given that my Torekage was running to my claim and Jon's was well hidden behind his, we decided the game was pretty well sorted at that point. So, 8-4 victory for me.

My concern was that we were flipping for the injuries as the game went on, and the Misaki and Sonia both flipped a 10+. We didn't see what injury we were going to end up with when we were finished, but we were slightly concerned at the fact that both our masters are pretty combat intensive.

Lessons Learned: Misaki will kill things dead. Then she will die. This is the way of things, unless one plays smarter than me and doesn't throw her at the enemy's whole stupid crew.

Archers kill things dead. This is not news.

When I can get companion Ten Thunders on my Torekage as an upgrade, it will be very useful.

Don't kill Sonia when she has cast Inferno, unless you plan on getting exploded for 6.