Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Wave 2 Beta Wrap-Up: Arcanists

I began by taking a look at the Ten Thunders and then moved on to the Guild. The new files drop on the 10th, so as of this writing I have 5 days to get the rest of these things knocked out. There will be five articles to go after this one, so I’m still on track to make it through this series at one article per day. I assure you, no one is more surprised about this fact than me.

This particular article is one of the three remaining factions I don’t really play, so this presented a problem for me. My read on models and their competitive viability is always a bit shaky anyways, and that’s within factions I know well. How would I know whether the Wave 2 Arcanists were good for the faction when I don’t even really know what they’re doing now with only Wave 1? Answer: pass the buck!

Here you go.

I posted a thread to the Wyrd boards looking for feedback on what models I should be writing about in this article. The response was great and really helped point me in the right direction while reading. Probably the biggest benefit was just the reassurance that things I saw which looked strong were, in fact, strong. It was so useful, I’ll likely be doing it for the upcoming articles in the series as well. But, without anymore preamble, let’s dive in and see what jumped out from the Arcanists in Wave 2.

As previously, the point is to take a look at the models that are going to have broad appeal rather than being specifically strong in a particular crew. Because they typically are more complex and deserve more than a short blurb, Henchmen, Masters, and Totems are excluded from this.

Oxfordian Mage: As of now, I believe this is the only model with the Academic type, which is relevant as these models get a +tomes to duels when within 3” of each other that they need for triggers on their casts. They’re also one of, if not the only model with furious casting in M2E, so there’s not a lot of mystery to what they’re supposed to do. They seem like nice cheap ranged damage models, but are a bit slow and fragile. Also, fun fact, the Oxford in their name is Oxford, Mississippi, not Oxford, England. 

Coming to an Arcanist crew near you.

Coryphee and Duet-The designers made a pretty strong choice this time by making the individual Coryphee quite strong on their own, thus incentivizing you to keep them separate rather than immediately pairing into the duet. With armor 2 and +to df and wp flips they’re going to be hard to put down. They push 4” after their melee attacks with a trigger, so they’re still pretty speedy. Interestingly, they gave them puppet in addition to showgirl this time around, so the coryph√©e can be ran with Collodi (a cool idea) although they are specifically only able to form the duet in arcanist crews. With the mobility remaining more or less the same and many of the attack options duplicated in the duet, one imagines the choice between when to combine and get one model with swift rather than 2 individual activations will be situational (reckoning comes to mind as a time when you will want them together.) It may be a choice of letting one of them take a hit first and then combining them for mutual protection. 

Performers-As Collette’s shtick this time around revolves around using scheme markers, it isn’t really a shock that performers are good at putting them out and interacting with them. “Don’t Mind Me” is always good, and their seduction ability allows them to discard any scheme markers (not just friendly ones) as a cost for passing out debuffs to the enemy. Pretty good objective runners for 5 points, though not exceptionally speedy.  

Mannequin-They are solid as ever with Armor 3, cheap at only 4 stones, and can do some interesting moving tricks if you have other showgirls in your crew. Their magician’s assistant ability lets friendly models place scheme markers 6” away from them, which makes for some interesting utility for things like Plant Explosives. Plus they gained Puppet, so they also get to join Collodi's Marionette show. 

Gunsmiths-The first post on the forum thread read simply “Gun. Smiths.” The rest of the thread backed up this initial support, and it’s not hard to see why. Their main attack has a different trigger for each suit that lets you alternately ignore armor, h2w, and h2k; boosts the damage; adds blasts; or prevents the damage being reduced from soulstones. Normally I don’t like these options, but they have a (0) action that lets you pitch a card and add that suit to all your final duel totals. If you are a crew that hands out burning, you can use their other (0), The Hard Way, that gives you a double positive twist to all duels against models with burning. If you attack them, they have a tome trigger to give the attacker burning or a ram trigger to give the gunsmith fast. A very strong ranged model, and one we should probably expect to see fielded quite a bit in the coming months.

Plus they look like this guy.

Mechanical Rider-The Mechanical Rider is widely considered to be the best of the riders, and plays in nicely with some of the Arcanists' themes of focusing on strategy rather than being focused on offensive power. Its attack triggers either allow you to draw cards or drop scheme markers off of a successful attack, up to a maximum of 2. Moreover, she can summon 4ss or less arcanist constructs as a (0) action once the rider has two tomes. Given how powerful summoning is in this edition of the game, it seems like the Mechanical Rider has some good potential.

Silent One-The thing that jumped out at me initially was the Frozen Statue trigger from their defense. It gives them a condition that reduces all damage the Silent One suffers to 1 and is not considered engaged for purposes of Ice Mirror of Shattered Mirror. I sort of picture an interesting combo where they get attacked by their own crew to trigger this, then Raspy uses her as the focus for her blasts to chain out and hit enemy models, letting you dish out damage without having to win duels. For more general crews, I could see them being decent for objective holding strategies like Reconnoiter or Turf War. They also have a good casting attack for range with some decent triggers and healing with their (0) action, though the trigger is only useful in frozen heart crews.

Soulstone Miner-The main appeal of the miner is their “Surprise from Below” ability which allows them to deploy downfield at the end of any turn. This opens up some options for objective grabbing, particularly for schemes like Breakthrough where you need to get into the deployment zone (though, keep in mind, you will have to appear at least 6" away from the enemy DZ when you come onto the board.) As mentioned in James “Mythicfox” Doxy’s interview on Malibites, the fact that they’re constructs makes them synergize a bit better with some crews like Ramos, as opposed to the current champion objective grabber in the faction, the Moleman. Their soulstone generating ability is really just gravy, although I doubt many of us would argue with a model that could inflict 2 wounds to cycle 2 cards through our hand (via SS at the beginning of the turn.) Compare that to Ronin which you have to sacrifice for similar effects. 

Angelica-One of the models that utilizes all of these scheme markers thrown out by Showgirls, Angelica provides a lot of board manipulation. Her Hooked cane lets you push enemy models around, while here Give Them an Encore! gives you a 5” push for friendly non-leader models without having to attack them. The duel result and push distance are all augmented by the number of scheme markers around her, so you'll want to position her carefully when activating. She seems like she’ll thrive in a central position on the board, re-positioning things for the crew's benefit as the game goes along.

Blessed of December-Anytime you see Leap, you know it’s going to be a good thing, especially when paired with Unimpeded and a Cg of 7. These guys are going to move quickly on the board and can do some decent melee in addition to running objectives. When you throw in Frozen Heart and HtW+1, you’ve got a quick, solid model that can do whatever you ask of it in the game, but may be a bit pricy at 9 soulstones.

Fire Gamin-They’re cheap at 4 SSs and everything they do, including dying, passes out burning to enemy models. It’s a shame shame Sonnia can’t take them anymore, so let’s hope she gets an upgrade sometime in the future to get them back. They’ll be a gunsmith’s little buddy and can do some nice things like stoking the Rail Golem or just generally being a problem for enemy crews.

Slateridge Mauler-The four armed bear is tough but pretty slow, so you’re going to need to get it upfield somehow to even have a shot at earning its points back. Paired up with their good but not great melee damage spread and 8SS cost, this one seems like a pass for most crews and, since it doesn't really stand out, may get passed over even in Marcus crews.

Willie-Willie is a scary model in terms of all the blast damage he can put out, much as he was previously. However, with no way to protect himself, you’re going to have to be careful with exposing him too early or the enemy will shoot him to death before he can be effective. He's very all or nothing. I do like his ability to protect your scheme markers, though that may be a bit TOO meta, as I can probably count on one hand the number of times I've seen an opponent destroy one of my scheme markers via Interact during a game.

Arcane Effigy-The main purpose to this model is to supply some much needed status removal to the faction, and it might see use for this alone. Arcane Radiance is decent (particularly if you’re trying to get some more burning for your Gunsmiths) and you may as well do it every turn since it costs you nothing and it has no other (0)s.

General Thoughts: I really should look more at the Arcanists, if only because of how much I enjoy crews where you dance around the combat and focus instead on schemes. You have to win a flip to kill a model. You don't have to win a flip to do an interact and drop a scheme marker. The Arcanists, particularly the Showgirls, are going to excel at this. There’s going to be some debate between the Gunsmiths and the Blessed (as evidenced by the debate that broke out on the forum thread) for higher point combat models, and that’ll probably come down to the rest of the crew build for how well they’ll synergize. I'm leaning in the direction of the Blessed right now, mainly for its speed and versatility, but I certainly see why the Gunsmith is as popular as it is.

Next up, I think we’ll take a look at the newest faction, the Gremlins. Again, this is one I’m not an expert on, so I’ll be counting on you folks to point me in the right direction.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Wave 2 Beta Wrap-Up: The Guild

There seems to have been some positive response to the first in this series of articles, so I’m going to do the best I can to get through the remaining factions prior to the release of the final Wave 2 cards. I set this goal for a couple of reasons, partially because I really want to take a tour through the cards and create a quick resource for those that weren’t involved in the Beta to get up to speed with their faction (or for use as a scouting resource for opposing factions,) and also because I signed up for the Tale of Malifaux Bloggers project, which kicks off on the 17th. More details on this as I get closer to the date. For now, however, time to take a look at the wave 2 models for everybody’s favorite fascists, The Guild.

As before, these are the models that jumped out at me as being noteworthy as of the final Beta update on 1/21st. I am likely wrong in more than one place, and I am also certain some kind souls will come along to inform me of this fact immediately after reading this. To give you an idea of my prognostication ability, I went into last night’s Super Bowl thinking that the ESPN commentators were trying really hard to convince everybody of how good Seattle was, so the Broncos were going to win the thing going away. And, yeah, that didn’t work out. So just assume that most of my predictions of the future are wrong, and you'll be fine.

Guardian- I kind of feel that all the constructs are slightly undertuned in terms of their general stat blocks due to Hoffman’s Power Loop ability. None of them particularly stand out, but since he can theoretically link all their best stats together, perhaps this is a good thing. It does, however, potentially limit their broad-base appeal. The Guardian’s ability to soak wounds from the model it protects is mostly gone, replaced by the ability to hand out Defensive +2 for a (0) and potentially heal the target with a ram trigger. I’ve learned not to underestimate the potency of Defensive in M2E, but I still have to wonder about whether this model is worth 8 points in a faction that is already cluttered with high-point models.

Abuela Ortega-Shotgun wedding used to be included to let non-family models join into the companion chain shenanigans, but perhaps its best utility now is to give you one more model that can prevent interact actions whenever Nino can see them. Granny has a pretty nasty auto-trigger on her shotgun that puts its damage output on par with Seamus’s flintlock, which is kind of fun. The rest of the crew can use their (0) actions to scoot her around on the board, which is also fun, or at least fun to imagine. When exactly the Ortegas turned into the Clampett family, I’m not sure. She has a friendly only obey as well. Could be an interesting model on the table, particularly to Ortega crews.

Guild Hounds-It seemed like these guys were in the beta updates almost weekly, and not often with positive changes. The big issue with them was how to keep them useful without making them very tempting to spam. 3 stone significant models (as long as they’re in pairs) is dangerous territory. The game doesn’t want to end up with dog-pound Guild crews flooding the board. The designers finally just had to make them Rare 4, which I would have thought would mean they could be tuned back up a bit, but that hasn’t really happened yet. It’s possible they may have gotten pushed too far down at this point, but we’ll see as time goes on.

Guard Sergeant-The fat man apparently got a demotion since M1E, but has picked up some interesting abilities. Namely, he can now shift friendly scheme markers up to 4” with a (0), opening up some new ways to get Plant Explosives or any similar schemes done. He also hands out some decent buffs to friendly guardsmen models that are around him. Given that Lucius and McCabe both like Guardsmen, and a number of Guardsmen models have simply become better for any crew to take (or remained strong, in the case of Austringers,) this could lead to him getting included a bit more often in crews.

Hunter-For a while there, Hunters were one of the best models in faction. They’ve since seen some down-grades and been made Rare 2, but still have some strong potential. Their Prowl ability adds some nice mobility at the end of the turn to either get that last bit of movement or perhaps duck out of melee range of things they attacked. They also have the ability to pounce 3” onto a model as a (0) and debuff their melee, with a crow trigger for a free attack. The chain harpoon is always nice for repositioning enemy models and passes out slow. I wish they would have gotten unimpeded, as I think it would have fit better with the overall theme of the model and would have added some movement flexibility. Still pretty good, but we’ll see how much play they get outside of Hoffman now that the full faction is there to compete for the points.

Lawyer-Guild Lawyers in M1E were overcosted and undereffective on the board, and it’s good to see that the designers have made efforts to reverse these two characteristics this time around. They have Lucius’ Highest Authority ability to hand out negative flips to attacks and can buff friendly models against horror tests in a 6” aura. I’m not blown away by the special damages ability, but I like Objection! to hand out slow and paralyzed. Pretty decent mid-cost support model.

Watcher-Watchers apparently spent too much time haning out with Nicodem’s M1E Vultures, as they learned how to allow friendly leader’s to draw line of sight off of them with a (2) action. Additionally, they disrupt the opponent’s ability to utilize cover, so obviously their greatest utility will be in ranged crews. I could see Perdita fielding them, or perhaps a Sonnia crew that doesn’t want to rely on burning to negate LoS.

Witchling Handler-These guys are an interesting mix of attack and support. They have some general buffs for friendly models and even more powerful ones for Witchlings, which is always nice. They give Witchlings a speed boost for starting next to them. They have a very limited version of Sonnia’s summoning on a melee trigger, which is situational at best but could make for an unpleasant surprise for the enemy. Also, their (0) to allow friendly models to hand out burning is always a strong addition to a Sonnia crew. A pretty good model that is very good in a Sonnia Criid crew. Which brings us to her counterpart in the Death Marshals...

No, not that one.

I’ve wanted this model to be good since book 3. I like the idea of a travelling preacher man that criss-crosses Malifaux and hunts down the things that go bump in the night. His first edition failed to be broadly effective because it was too much of a magic bullet for undead and spirits and really couldn’t do much when the enemy didn’t have these traits. His new False Accusation (0) is an amusing fix to this problem, as the Exorcist essentially forces the Undead characteristic onto an enemy model (2 enemy models with a trigger,) allowing his abilities to work even when facing Arcanists or fellow Guildies and creating some nice synergies with other Marshall type models (The Judge will be fast friends with him, I’m thinking.) He’s still not particularly fast or hard-hitting (though the banish trigger could lead to some nasty surprises for unprepared undead enemies,) so I’m not sure how effective he’ll be long term, but it’s a good step in the right direction.

Latigo Pistoleros-These guys were essentially a laughing stock model in M1E, relegated to the same drawer as Malifaux Children and that old paint brush that only has two bristles left that you haven’t gotten around to tossing yet. The new version are good, cheap models for a theme crew that desperately needed some affordable backup. Their rules encourage you to pair one of them off with each of your higher priced guys, providing a defense buff as long as the Pistolero hasn’t activated yet. I like the flexibility of the ram trigger to give you either a bonus to damage or your final duel total, but one has to wonder if there will ever be any rams left for them outside of flips from the deck in a crew so heavy on critical strike. Still, I think they’ll see some use if for no other reason than that the Ortegas just flat-out need cheap guys to go complete objectives and fill out their activations.

Pale Rider-As this is the first rider we’ve run into during this series of articles, let’s pause for a moment and take a look at their general theme. All of them are basically on a clock that is controlled by the game turn, ie as the game goes on, they get more powerful. This power comes in the form of them receiving +1 of their particular suit to each of their duels for the turn number -1. That sentence is atrocious, so to make it clearer, on turn 3 the Pale Rider adds 2 rams to all of his duels, 3 rams on turn 4, and 4 on turn five. Unsurprisingly, almost all of their abilities have a trigger that uses these gradually increasing suits to some devastating effect, culminating in some horrific ability that they would presumably only be able to use on the last turn of the game, as it requires five of the suit to pull off.

Ok, here’s the thing: you are never going to get to use that ability. Just ignore it when you’re reading the card. These abilities are the equivalent of the Magic: The Gathering cards like the Leviathan: they look really neat, and they make fanboys get really excited, but they’re completely impractical.

Worst. Rare. Ever

 In 90% of games when you are up against someone relatively competent, either your opponent will kill the rider before you get to that last turn (probably the most likely outcome), you’ll have tabled them and it’ll be wasted, or the tournament game will end on turn 4 and you won’t even get the chance to try it. The trouble is, these abilities are built into the cost of the model, so you’re paying soulstones for something that you’ll maybe get to use in 1 game out of 10. Not great, and it makes me wonder if they’ll build something into Leviticus’ avatar to speed these abilities along.

Ok, with that out of the way, the Pale Rider isn’t that bad outside of me being annoyed by The Last Crossing. He reduces damage from enemy attacks by the number of rams in the defense flip. On turn 3 his damage track can either be a 6/7/8 or he can heal himself a point for each ram in the duel depending on trigger. He’s unimpeded. He’s a stat brick, but I have to think that just makes it more likely your opponent will try to pounce on him fast and take him off the board. So, the Pale Rider is a fun model, but I have my questions about his competitive viability. I’ll be expecting to be told that I’m an idiot and he’s amazing momentarily.

Clockwork Traps and Guild Pathfinder-I really like what they did with the design on these. Clockwork traps are the first model in the game that don’t have activations, receiving the “Inanimate” trait. Instead, any model that moves, pushes, or is placed in their melee range gets an attack. Any model that starts their activation next to them has to pass a walk duel or gets Slow. They deploy via From the Shadows, so they’re going to be scattered through all the key positions on the board (read: Squatter’s Rights markers.) They’re Rare 4 and not particularly tough (3 wounds Armor+2), but that’s not the point. Their job is to slow the enemy down and be annoying, and I think they do a pretty good job of that. I wish they had something to prevent ranged damage, but that might be a bit too good for a 2 Soulstone model.

Unsurprisingly, since they come in the same box set, the Pathfinder works well with the traps as well. He can summon more of them with a 6 or higher of tomes (remember the Rare 4 limit, of course.) He also deploys via From the Shadows, so he can be nearby to support them or off somewhere else causing mischief. Scavenge makes for some decent card cycling, particularly since his traps will likely be dropping fairly regularly around him. His rifle has some nice triggers and doesn’t scatter onto the traps when he fires into melee, and he can relocate the traps with a 0 action. They have the potential to be a nasty little cluster of unpleasantness for the opponent to deal with, forcing him to waste AP dealing with piddly little traps and the crazy gomer defending them instead of going after the objectives. And they’re duel faction Guild/10T, so they can be used with any of the Asian crews as well. I like them and will likely be getting them painted up for action shortly.

So that’s the models that jumped out at me from the Guild. As usual, feel free to comment. Look for an article about a faction that I don’t know well at all in a couple of days, the Arcanists. I’m accepting comments from and suggestions from folks on the Wyrd threads now for that, so feel free to drop me a line and help me out.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Wave 2 Beta: Ten Thunders

So, last Friday the Open Beta ended and the files reverted to internal playtest, prior to being released officially so we can move on to the Avatars. I thought, in lieu of other meaningful content, that I’d do a series of articles passing through the factions' upcoming models, looking closely at the minions and enforcers with an eye to their generic utility for the faction as a whole, shying away from things related to the new masters or which is obviously pointed at facilitating a specific crew. I don't consider myself enough of an expert on any of the new stuff to really speak with any authority on them, so I'll leave that off for the time being. Also, all of this may change in a couple weeks when the files come out, but if past experience is to be believed most of the final internal changes will be more of the fine-tuning variety than major overhauls.Now, given the fact that I thought The Illuminated were just “ok” when I first reviewed them, there’s a very strong possibility I’m flat-out wrong about a lot of this. But this is my blog, and you clicked on it and read it, so frankly I think you share just as much of the blame as I do for spreading this ridiculous misinformation.

You should be ashamed of yourself. 

Wastrels: Introduced as the answer to the 1.5 Guild problem of having no cheap, fast, objective runners, Wastrels were undeniably overtuned because they were designed to fill a void. I liked them quite a lot, and not just because one of their sculpts reminded me of Alex from Clockwork Orange. Unsurprisingly, they couldn’t quite keep the same level of power in 2nd edition. Wastrels now gain Defensive+1 at the end of their activation if all they do is take walk actions. They don’t have their back alley teleportation thing anymore (apparently Seamus stole it) outside of a (2) action that lets you jump to friendly scheme markers. Their gang weapons also no longer gain positive flips, mostly to keep them from being better with McCabe’s sword than he is. Their “Bravado” ability to discard cards and gain suits for their duels (useful for the Castoffs (2) action which gives them various buffs and abilities) is nowhere near as effective outside of McCabe (they get to draw after they discard when they have an upgrade attached) or with Lynch (discard your aces, pick them back up, repeat) but could be useful in certain situations for other crews. I don’t think it was intentional design symmetry with Lynch, particularly since he's already pretty good anyways, but I like it all the same. After all, where else would you expect to find a Wastrel if not in a brothel like the Honeypot?

Chiaki: The faction had condition removal with the Low River monks already, but she packages it with an interesting utility offensive ability to force enemy models to become insignificant for a turn. She has Manipulative and incorporeal to improve her survivability. A solid mid-point value model.

Izamu: The 1.5 terror that was Izamu the Armor obviously couldn’t stay as nuts as he was after a reset, so perhaps it's no surprise that he managed to stay controversial throughout much of the beta process, with threads of malcontents griping about him all the way to the final day. I have to say, I don’t get what people were expecting. He’s tough. He hits hard. He has a self-heal on a (0) action and, if an enemy manages to kill him in melee, he gets a free swing at them, which is as close to “Slow to Die” as any model in M2E has at this point. I know much of the dispute ranged around whether to focus him on being "tanky" versus "hitty," but I think the model landed in a place where it can do both relatively well. What else are you looking for, unless of course it’s just for him to be the no-brainer beatstick he was previously? He’s still good, just not quasi-broken anymore.

Ten Thunders Brother: These are in a weird place, and I’m hoping to see some modifications before they come out. Maybe I’m missing it, but these rules don’t do anything for me. Companion isn’t as good as it used to be, and that was the main purpose for these guys previously. I'm probably underwhelmed due in large part to not liking their (0) action, due to my not generally caring for abilities which you can’t control. Maybe it’s just that I’m a control freak, but I hate being subject to the vagaries of the deck or your control hand to catch suits for an ability that is this situational. Also, I have a minor gripe that they aren’t Last Blossom anymore, which bums me out as it means they no longer have a way to be played in their original faction, the Outcasts.

Mr. Graves and Mr. Tannen-I’ve written about an earlier iteration of them previously. Since then they’ve made some good changes to make them play nicer together and to give Tannen some much better abilities (his objective is to bore the opponent’s models, not the player controlling him). “Show ya the door” makes Graves play kind of like an offensive linemen for your crew, which appeals to me on an instinctual level. Tannen can take a (1) to gain chatty, which I think was a good compromise from the discussion people were engaged in during heavy testing earlier on and improves his utility significantly. I'm looking forward to giving them some more test runs.

Shadow Effigy- Effigies changed a lot during the tests, due in large part to Collodi also undergoing a lot of fluctuation. All of them follow a general scheme of doing something good for the crew and having a powerful (0) that buffs the master. I’m interested in “Remember the Mission” as it lets minions put more scheme markers on the board without spending their own AP. This is useful for completing schemes and also for abilities like the Wastrel and the Tengu that gain mobility off of them.

Lone Swordsman-This guy follows the Ten Thunders tradition of being a stat brick. He can walk 12” or have an 11” threat range off of his charge due to “Walk the Earth” (0) action giving him a 2” push. The “You will not see another sunrise” ability is very high risk/high reward, but I can see it being a game winner under the right circumstances. Also, I just want one so I can paint him to look like Samurai Jack
Kamaitachi-Ten Thunders gains a generic totem *applause*. The model should be interesting, as a quick Google search of the name indicates it refers to three weasels blowing in a windstorm, apparently.

Their Howling Thunder ability is probably the thing that is going to raise the most eyebrows, as it effectively lets Ten Thunders models pass Recalled Training back and forth rather than discard them, at the cost of a temporary (in most cases) 2 wounds. One imagines Ototo and, say, Sidir passing it back and forth and being on positive flips for the whole game, presuming you can defend the totem (I imagine he will be a high priority target.) Could be a bit strong, and I know Justin was watching this pretty closely at the end of the testing cycle, so don’t be surprised if this sees some changes. I also like the 0 action for pushing models their walk value, as more movement is always good.

Tengu-Aha, here are the generic objective grabbers we’ve all been clamoring for. These, at first blush, remind me of M1E Night Terrors with their low cost, flight, and teleportation tricks. In a vacuum you can imagine a group of them where one moves forward, drops a marker, and the others jump off of it to gain more movement on round one. Other scheme marking tricksters like the Shadow Effigy could facilitate this further. Toss in some healing abilities and a (0) to discard enemy scheme markers, and you’ve got a pretty solid model for 4 stones. Also, in Japanese folklore they look like Skeksis (or dudes with long noses. Depends on the interpretation.) So you’ve got that to look forward to.

Ansatsu Sha- Oh, Sha. What do you say about this model? It was made Rare 2 partway through the Beta, which should probably give you an idea of how crazy strong they used to be. Ten Thunders gets a sniper model, with the always popular “Focus for longer range” rifles that we’ve come to love in this edition. Also, he has “From the Shadows.” Also, they have a + to attack flips Katana attack. Oh, and Hard to Kill. And if your leader dies in their LoS, they get reactivate. And they can hand out Slow to enemy models with a (0) action. Expect to see lots of these being proxied (if anyone has suggestions, they'd be welcome) once the rules become legal. Apparently Justin doesn’t like their name, though, so that may be different when the final cards are released. Let’s all hope that’s the only thing that changes, as these guys are awesome.

 So these are the models that jumped out at me from the first wave of beta files. Next up is going to be a pass through the Guild, so see you for that one. As usual, comments are welcome and encouraged. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Mixed Ten Thunders Musing

The UK Masters tournament was this weekend, making it probably the highest level competitive tournament of the M2E era thus far. The UK meta is, reportedly, quite different from the US, but regardless this tournament is probably one of the best pieces of hard data we have on what competitive M2E will ultimately look like (at least for a few more months until Wave 2 comes out, but I digress.) It’s always funny to see what people are afraid will be totally broken during the theory phases of the game versus what actually ends up being strong competitively. These two things tend to only meet up rarely, particularly in a game as intricate and balanced as Malifaux M2E. The Drowned from M1.5 were a great example of this, as I have yet to meet anyone who saw those rules on paper and thought “Yep, that’s a solid model right there.” Personally, I thought they were garbage and filed them with the Latigo Pistolero after my first reading (though I didn’t think Tuco was that great either, so I’m clearly an idiot.) Instead, it turned out that they were a tough, cheap, fast model that the enemy couldn't afford to ignore and punished the enemy harshly for killing them.

This has something to do with the Masters, I promise. Stay with me.

For weeks now on the Bayou Broadcast (, Craig Johnson (UKRocky) has slammed the hell out of Ten Thunders. When asked to rank the M2E factions competitively, Craig’s list was effectively “In last, Ten Thunders. Above that, all the others in a tie.” Most of this concern came from the lack of a cheap objective grabbing model in the crew, which is a big deal in the current environment and definitely puts them at a handicap. Every faction in the game can out-activate Ten Thunders if they want to, unless you’re going to take lots of Monks of the Low River, who Craig has openly panned. It’s easy to see why, given that the Monk has no attack actions and doesn’t move that quickly (their function is primarily to remove conditions.) The Torekage (ostensibly the “objective grabber” of the faction due to their ability to walk out of engagement as well as teleport off of other friendly models) is much more expensive than what you can find in other crews. This is a struggle for the faction as a whole and led to Craig’s dismissal of them as a competitive option (at least publicly. Craig is infamous for underselling his own abilities and the abilities of his crews.)

This, of course, leads inevitably to Craig winning the Masters using Ten Thunders Jacob Lynch.

Pictured: Not Craig Johnson.

Now, I’ve already stated how much I love Jacob (, and I’d be lying to say I wasn’t gratified to see some of the strengths I was promoting coming to light. As they discussed on today’s Fools Daily (, the obvious reason for his power is the free face-smashy model (pictured above) that you get just as a reward for playing him, while the less obvious power comes from his card advantage and ace-discarding shenanigans. Now that the Neverborn upgrades have been toned down, the choice of faction for Lynch becomes much less of an auto-select than it used to be. I still tend to favor him as Neverborn, but I think Craig has demonstrated pretty effectively that the other side works well. Also, on his twitter feed today he’s mentioned that removal of conditions is a much more important part of the game than he had given credit, so now the much maligned Monk of Low River is beginning to come up a bit in his perception. I myself need to get him (the Monk, not Craig) out onto the field to battle-test them, but I’m pleased to see the success for both the faction in general and Lynch specifically. And, of course, much congratulations to Fat Craig for his victory. I look forward to his humble-bragging about it on the next Bayou Broadcast episode.

So as not to make this just a minifaux post (ooo, I just coined a new term,) I’ll talk about a game I played recently. This is really a re-visiting of an earlier topic ( wherein I discussed Misaki tactics and another post ( wherein I slammed all over Tara for being ugly and bad (still my most popular post to date.) This was of course played over Vassal, as I still live in the Malifaux dessert of Western Virginia. My opponent was Jon, and he wanted to see what he could do with the Nothingness. The best part, of course, is I get to reuse one of my graphics.

Misaki – Defensive Upgrades, Training, 6SS
Yamaziko-Training, Last Blossom Upgrade
2xRail Worker

Tara-Upgrades of some kind, SSs
Nothing Beast
3xVoid Wretch

The game was played a couple of weeks ago, so I’ll stick to the highlights and then move on to analysis. I hadn’t played Misaki in a while (as a matter of fact I have played exactly 2 games with Misaki in M2E, coincidentally both versus Tara,) but I decided to put my money where my mouth was and try out my defensive build for the mistress of the Ten Thunders. We were playing Reckoning with a very passive scheme-marker-based pool, so I wanted to try out Oiran for Lure tactics, Rail Workers to get my model count up, and see if I could just plant Misaki in the middle of a quadrant and say “Come on if you think you’re tough enough.” Jon was learning to play Tara and wanted to get the box set on the (virtual) board along with some other stuff he wasn’t familiar with, namely Hannah and Hans. I joked afterwards that Jon loves Killjoy and will bend over backwards to fit him into any list he builds, yet for whatever reason he made the decision not to include Killjoy in the crew that he probably works best with!

Weeeelll, you know what Mike Tyson says about plans, namely that everybody has one till you get punched in the face.  I had protect territory and frame for murder on one of the rail workers for my schemes, and was basically planning on turtleing up with Yamaziko and the Rail Workers in one quadrant and using Misaki to go control somewhere else, with the Torekage’s burying tricks to move them to where they need to be at the end of a turn for control. Since you don't need to prevent your opponent from scoring in M2E Reckoning, all I needed was to control my two quarters and deny him some scheme points and I would be set. And did I mention how smart I felt about the thought of burying my Torekage to move them around the board to control quarters?


Those of you with brains who remembered that I’m playing Tara probably see the flaw in this strategy right away, as the one time I was foolish enough to try it my Torekage emerged back into the field of play with 3 wounds and some burning tokens. Also, Hans was sitting on the other side of the board, picking at anybody who stuck their face out and laughing at my Torekage’s silly smoke bombs. Also, Hannah had shut my Oiran’s Lure down because of her counterspell. Also…ok, look, you get the idea. My plan was dumb. Even the part that did work, the turtle with Yamaziko to prevent charges on my crew, ended up biting me since it meant the Rail Worker didn’t get murdered until we were past where I could get the bonus points for the scheme.

So, knowing that the plan had failed, I changed to aggressive Misaki without the proper upgrades, if only to shut Hans and Tara down. Jon did a fantastic job of saving Hans from me by burying him with Tara, but in doing so left Tara in position to be Assassinated (a weakness for this crew's low hand size that I had noticed when playing her previously.) I was still rather impressed with the Last Blossom related mobility during the game, as much of the Torekage and Oiran’s jobs for the remaining turns became “dash between quarters to avoid the Nothing Beast and ensure we score.” The Nothing Beast (his name must always be capitalized) with movement 7 from an Outcast Upgrade was pretty tough to get away from, but there was no other option since the crew wasn’t tough enough outside of Misaki to deal with him, and she was busy elsewhere.

In the end the game finished up with an 8-9 loss for me. I have a new appreciation for what Tara can do when she is rolling, given that Jon had never touched her before and basically had me beaten from the first turn of the game. I still don’t really LIKE her, as I detest having no hand and being reliant on what the fate deck feels like giving me. But, I am willing to acknowledge that there is much more to her than perhaps I had previously implied. I l look forward with some trepidation to seeing what Jon’s going to do with her, as he had never heard about using Killjoy or *shudder* Bishop in this crew, with Tara functioning almost like an old-school Dreamer that floats around and drops a big bag of pain in the middle of the enemy. 

In the meantime, my impression of the defensive Misaki build was a bit mixed. I don’t think I gave it a very fair shot here, as I basically had to abandon the plan on turn one to prevent Hans picking us apart. It would have been difficult to use in this particular game regardless, as the Nothing Beast and Hannah all have large melee ranges to prevent her dancing away from combat. Moreover, I’m not sure it really fits my play style that well. My natural inclination is to attempt to dictate the terms of the engagement to my opponent rather than sit back and wait for them, but I consider this more of an opportunity than a liability. I need to learn how to play this way for my own benefit, so handcuffing myself into it like this may be a good way of accomplishing that. 

Also, I found this ( Justin needs to make this for Ten Thunders.

Like, now. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Magpie Musings

So I haven’t played a game of Malifaux in a couple of weeks and, for the most part, have been painting only a handful of models. Time has been tough to come by, and when I get it I’ve had other things to do with it besides move little models around and flip cards. I’ve got some thoughts regarding the Wave 2 playtest models, but I don’t feel extraordinarily confident in discussing them when I haven’t gotten to test most of them out yet. However, one thing that has started to jump out to me is that there are, frankly, too many things I want to play right now.

I’ve been using Lynch quite a bit recently, as evidenced by the last two blog posts I’ve put up. Not a huge surprise, given that I love the crew and wish to do my part to see them succeed, but now I’m stuck trying to figure out what I’m going to focus on moving forward. My first faction in Malifaux was The Guild. I was drawn in by Perdita initially (the fact that I was reading The Gunslinger from the Dark Tower series at the time had a lot to do with this.) As such, I have a soft spot in my heart for the Guildies and always will. That said, that soft spot grew a bit callused towards the end of 1st edition as it became painfully apparent that it was much more difficult to succeed on a competitive level with the Guild than with any of the other factions during that era of the game, particularly Perdita who, after people realized how to get around her high defenses, was just too straight-forward of a crew to get the job done. Now, the new look Guild of 2.0 gets around this by, while still being a very blunt, very strong implement for dishing out damage on the board, adding in a ton of synergy with scheme markers as well. Models like the Austringers and Guild Guards make the faction much more capable of directly throwing down friendly and/or removing enemy scheme markers. Many of them have “Finish the Job,” again giving you the ability to get those markers down on the board when your models meet their sudden but (let’s face it, a lot of them are pretty much stormtroopers) inevitable end. They are still very direct, but they’re directly focused on the things that win you games, scheme and objective completion, and when it’s time to kill whoever is in the way they are still the smashiest of the factions and can dish out the hurt like no one else.

McMourning is probably the best example of this. His injection lets him move pieces around and throw out scheme markers, and the upgrade that lets him steal enemy scheme markers at the end of the game to make them count for his crew is just brilliant. Meanwhile, he can slice people up with his scalpels and burn you out for your full poison total all at once, making him a very potent finisher for almost any model in the game. After I defended my dissertation and got my PhD, I picked up the crew sort of out of a sense of irony for the fact that I was now officially joining the ranks of the mad science community. The fact that he was now a member of the Guild helped as well, of course, given my previous predilections. Plus, I was amused by the thought of using members of the Dead Justice crew box to represent McMourning’s somewhat poorly disguised undead helpers, dressed up to look like their “official” guild counterparts. Eventually I want to pick up some Guild Autopsies to further this them by using them either as themselves or as (again poorly disguised) Guild Guards. Basically, I was planning on using him as a Guild character exclusively, even going so far as to snatch poor minion Hamelin’s Nix model as a proxy Zombie Chihuahua, painting him up to look like my min-pin Rico (anyone who’s been around Rico while he’s asleep after eating something that doesn’t agree with him will know where the Horrible Odor ability comes from.) It was when I painted up the Flesh Golem on a lark, however, that my thoughts started to drift towards the Ressers. I had played a game against Nicodem over Vassal, which was probably my first game ever against a dedicated Resser master that was re-summoning things as quickly as I could kill them, and saw the power of that first hand.  Now, McMourning’s not the best character for this kind of crew…until the Wave 2 beta introduced the Spare Parts upgrade which lets any Resser master summon the Autopsies and Rogue Necromancies off corpse counters on the board. There’s a very good chance that I’ll be giving that a try sometime soon, giving this already pretty good at schemes master the added ability to create waves of dead minions to lead the way forward.

And once we open up the Resser door, there’s a couple of others I like sitting back there as well. I’ve not gotten a chance to see the new Seamus in action, but I love what they’ve done with him. The back-alley killer idea, with him leaping from the shadows around the board to ambush and kill who or whatever is exposed and vulnerable in the enemy crew, is so amazing and thematic for him. Seamus is definitely one of the winners of the M1E to M2E transition, and I’ve wanted to give him a try, if only to cackle and do evil, evil things to my opponents legally. Also, Kirai was the first of the Asian themed masters I picked up and tried in old Malifaux. Something about that character spoke to me. She moved quickly. Her crew was very thematic. There were lots of moving parts (I often said that I played every game where I used Kirai incorrectly, even if I won the game) which I like from the “here’s a puzzle that I’m trying to sort out” standpoint. I haven’t exactly focused on what they’ve done with her in this iteration of the game, but I’m sure at some point I’ll want to get her out on the tabletop and see what she can do.

I’ve stated previously that the Asian themes are not a big sell for me. It’s not a personal thing. It was just one of those situations where, when I was in school, Dragonball Z and the anime craze had suddenly made all things Japanese cool, which meant that in a pre-hipster move I didn’t want anything to do with them. As such, it never ceases to amaze me how I’ve somehow turned into a Ten Thunders player seemingly by mistake. It’s pretty much Lynch’s fault, if you want to get right down to it. He got me through the door after all (the first taste is free.) I had created a relatively novel way of making bamboo bases on the cheap using broken pieces of spaghetti, so there was that draw. I picked up Wastrels because suddenly they gave the Guild some mobility and objective grabbing ability that they were missing before, so now I had a McCabe crew and, hey, those archer things are pretty good so why not pick up one of them to back up McCabe and Lynch if I play them as the TT. And, obviously, if I’m going to play them TT I’m going to need Torekage to do it effectively, since the Tora-swap was about the best form of mobility in that version of the game short of Collodi cruising the length of the board in a turn. Next thing you know, I have the whole faction minus the Rail Crew box and Ten Thunders Brothers, I’m using Misaki in a narrative campaign, and I was lost.

I feel like the Ten Thunders kind of hit the mid-point between killiness and fiddliness between the Guild and Neverborn (although Lucius may have something to say about that, now) which are the things I love about those factions and makes them very appealing to play. I already posted some thoughts on the two forms of Misaki where she can go from hyper-aggressive killer master to elegant defensive/denial master. The recent nerf to Nexus of Power makes the question of which faction to run Lynch in no-longer academic, and I’ve mentioned before that I’m interested to see how Sensei Yu would do in this list (two mulligans per turn? Yes please.) And hey, now the rest of them are here and ready to test as well. Shenlong seems very interesting, and the addition of the Lone Samurai gives them another mid-level hitter model that can do some serious damage and is, more or less, immune to gunfire before he gets to grips with the enemy.

Of course, the reason I picked up Lynch in the first place was because I was a shameless Neverborn bandwaggoner back during the “Well, Neverborn, innit?” days of pre-book 4 M1E. The Pandora crew was amazing. The Zoraida crew was amazing. Collodi was ridiculously good. I never got them on the board, but I always had Lillith and Dreamer ideas in mind (I’m still, one day, going to paint my Lady Gaga “Mama Monster” version of Lillith. This is happening.) I loved Tuco’s craziness. I loved how ridiculous Stitched Togethers were. I fell headlong into this faction, and a lot of it was just how powerful they were on the board. I can admit this freely. I’m a guy who likes to win, and the Neverborn just won in those days. It didn’t hurt that they were all spooky monsters that were a blast to paint and field.

And this was one of the things that was actually quite frustrating in the 2.0 switch. I should not have playtested Pandora early on in the process. I see that now. Coming in with the power level she used to have in the back of my mind led to pretty unrealistic expectations for a model that, honestly, was seriously underpowered during the early stages of the Wave 1 beta process. And I just…could not…accept it. I thought it was my fault. I thought there was something there I wasn’t seeing or I was doing something wrong on the tabletop. I just didn’t realize that, in making her balanced, there was really no way around the fact that she was going to have to lose a lot of the things I liked about that master. And as such, I lost almost all of my playtest games, and I lost every single playtest game where I used Pandora. While the object of these games was not to win but rather to test the mechanics and look for things that needed to be addressed, I couldn’t help the fact that this left a pretty sour taste in my mouth, not just for her but also for the faction as a whole.

Well, that has started to balance out a bit. Playing Lynch recently had a lot to do with this, as it gave me a chance to see some of the minions I had previously dismissed running with a master I had a better grasp on. I haven’t gotten a chance to try out Zoraida, but I like the notion of running the swamp crew, particularly the Swamp Thing Bad Juju. Lillith’s combination of board control and melee has always interested me, and if anything she’s swung further in that direction with 2nd edition. And I’ve had a Nightmare Chompy bits for years sitting in a drawer and have never gotten him out to play. This seems criminal, particularly given how enchanting the idea behind that crew really is. I’m a fan of the current mechanic where, as Dreamer slides deeper into sleep his ability to summon other Nightmares increases, but he has to wake himself to let Chompy out. Very thematic and very cool.

I wish I could say that was it, but it isn’t. I keep finding myself fantasizing about Ramos crews. I’ve liked Jack Daw since he was a minion, so the fact that he’s a master now with another very thematic crew makes him tempting to get out and try. Maybe it’s just reading about him all the time (…all the time…) in the Play It Like Beatdown blog, but Marcus seems like he’d be pretty fun, with Cojo being one of if not the only model in the game that can force movement on enemy models with no flip. And who knows? If you ask me next week, maybe I’ll be wanting to try out Molly or Kaeris or even a gremlin crew (ok, maybe not that last one :P)?

So I think it’s time to admit I’ve got a problem. I’m a magpie. I’m an addict for new crews and new ideas. And I can’t stop.

Oh well, at least I’ll have plenty of crews to loan out for demo games in the future. 

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. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Vassalfaux, anyone?

Given that we live in the future now, moving to a new area where no one seems to play Malifaux doesn't necessarily have to mean game over for me. I’m going to start demoing and trying to stir up interest, but I want to get in some 2nd Edition Malifaux action now. NOW DAMMIT! But what am I to do about this situation?

This is where we learn to play Malifaux using Vassal.

My friend Jon from back in the 402 and I hooked up through Skype and decided to learn how to make this crazy thing go. Now that I’m sitting here typing this, it occurs to me that I should probably have taken screen shots of the game as it went along, Whoops. Aaaanyway, I had installed it the day before and attempted to figure out how it worked (where are the tokens? Why are all of the windows stretched out to the least useful size possible when you turn first turn them on?) and then walked Jon through the installation process. The program is available from Wyrd at this page. You need to pull down the program itself as well as the Malifaux 1.31 module. For the record, this module is designed for Malifaux 1.5 Edition post-release of the Ten Thunders crews, but it still works fine for M2E other than the fact that some of the various models aren't sorted appropriately under the tokens tab (Lucius is a Henchman, The Judge is a minion, and so on.) It took about an hour to get through all the installation issues (he didn't have an up-to-date version of Java) but then we were up and running. One immediate benefit of playing through this medium was made apparent, as Jon elected to try out Rasputina for the first time despite the fact that none of the models he had purchased at Gencon were even assembled, let alone painted. Since I had just published my break-down of Jacob Lynch, I decided to put my money where my mouth was and take him out for a spin. So, without further ado, the battle report.

40SS Turf War
Vassal Streets of Blood Map
Scheme Pool: Assassinate, Breakthrough, Power Ritual, Take Prisoner, LitS

Jacob Lynch (Eternal Hunger, Woke Up With A Hand) 6SS
Hungering Darkness (Nexus of Power)
2x Beckoners
1x Illuminated
2x Terror Tots

Schemes: Assassinate, Power Ritual
Reasoning: I wasn't over the moon about this pool of schemes, if I’m being honest. I've yet to pull off a successful Take Prisoner, and Breakthrough and Power Ritual felt like they were working counter to the strategy of holding the center of the board. Also, knowing my opponent was Raspy made it seem less likely I’d be able to get Assassinate given that she was unlikely to be anywhere near where the action was happening. I elected to take advantage of the Terror Tot-Sprint-Ace of Masks trick, with the thought that the Tots could sprint up, drop their markers, then sprint back to help hold the middle. Also, knowing my opponent was trying out a new crew, I was hoping Raspy would stick her nose out somewhere I could get her for Assassinate.

Rasputina (some upgrades, 6ss)
4 Ice Gamin
Ice Golem (Ice Armor upgrade? Gives everything with frozen heart the trigger where I only get one activation if I attack them.)

Schemes: Power Ritual, Take Prisoner

I won the deployment flip and elected to pick the bottom DZ for my team, setting up most of the crew in the building on the left and putting one tot and the Illuminated in the opposite (right) corner. Jon put one of his gamin in each corner and then had the rest form up behind the central building, with Rasputina on the top. I instantly regretted giving her that vantage point, but what are you going to do? There was no DZ that didn't have a building in it, and this one gave me the best cover for advancing.

Turn 1 saw my tots dropping scheme markers in their corners and then sprinting for the other side of the board. The gamin did likewise (albeit not as quickly.) The Ice Golem chucked some of the gamin forward to threaten the turf war marker and get some force projection going. Beckoners lure one of the gamin in so HD can start to hit it. Rasputina takes advantage of this by chaining ice off of him and blasting into HD and the Beckoners with her spells. Lynch sneaks out the side door of the building, circling around to flank.

Turn 2 saw the Rasputina player win initiative and blow up her own Gamin to blast into my crew some more (Red Joker damage flip.) One Beckoner died, feeding some health to the other. Hungering Darkness used stones/nexus to resist/ignore a lot of the damage. The tot on the right flank made it nearly to the enemy deployment zone but couldn't avoid a disengaging strike from the gamin standing there and was engaged. The other tot slipped along the outside and dropped the third power ritual marker.

From there things bog down a bit. Lynch engages on the left side with the Ice Golem, exchanging blows over the next couple of turns and then winning mostly because Lynch has soulstones. The Tot that dropped the scheme marker then charged into the leftmost ice gamin to keep him away from my scheme marker. We had an amusing exchange where we discovered that Ice Gamin and Terror Tots are like matter and anti-matter, as on subsequent turns they end up killing each other while finishing off their opponent with Black Blood/Shatter. The Turf War in the center bogs down with the Beckoner getting blown up by Rasputina, HD dragging the scoring Gamin and Wendigo in and eating them, and the Illuminated walking in to hunker down with defensive stance so HD and Illuminated score while the opponent cannot. Raspy had a tough time blasting through the Illuminated’s defensive posture, so I saw firsthand how potent it can be. Jon had basically given up on trying to kill HD, as Nexus+Incorporeal was making him pretty much unstoppable. End of the game saw Lynch running up to destroy one of the Gamin’s scheme markers, HD trying to climb the building to go fight Raspy to no avail, meaning no Assassination.

Jon and I didn't know Vassal very well, I kept having to get up to kid wrangle during the game, and Jon was playing a new crew, so the game taking 4 hours to finish was not a huge surprise. I’m sure when we play again it will go much quicker. Still, I see why so many people love Vassal, and I’m glad to be able to join in with it. If anybody feels like hitting me up for a game, contact me through the blog and we can figure out a time. As far as the game went, I’m reminded of why the Hungering Darkness is so sick with Nexus of Power, and why I've started hearing some muttering from Justin Gibbs in interviews that something may have to be done there. Jon could probably have made more use of paralysis in this game to give me troubles, and Power Ritual may not have been the right scheme. I suppose the Illuminated did what I asked him to in this game, mostly by not dying, but I still wasn't blown away by his performance. More testing required, I suppose.

And now, time to wait for Wave 2 of the Beta.