Friday, April 8, 2016

Adepticon Field Report

Editor's Note: Last weekend my friend Jon (you'll remember his name from numerous battle reports on the blog) went up to Chicago to test out his Ten Thunders might versus the wider Malifaux field. He lives in Atlanta, which is sort of the birthplace of Wyrd anyways, and he's played at Gencon basically every year since becoming a Malifaux player, but this was his first trip to Adepticon. He was texting me the results from his game, and I said "Hey, how would you feel about writing up a report on the con for Malifaux Musings? He said yes, and this was the result. I look forward to doing more of these in the future, as a bachelor man like Jon is much more free to travel and compete than I am. So, this will be our first field report from roving reporter, Jon. Hope you enjoy!

Pictured: Not Jon. But definitely the image of him I'll be using in this article.


So where to begin…  for me this was more a spur of the moment type trip I was fully unprepared to take.  I logged into the Adepticon site a couple weeks ago for giggles to see what in all was going on.  The draw was they had an X wing worldwide event in 8 cities in 8 different countries and I was going to try to get a game in before I went. I have lots of ships but haven't played anyone, and I don’t want to be the guy that shows up to a tournament who has never played even.  I would play X wing on Friday and Malifaux on Saturday and maybe the story encounter Sunday.  So I found someone on facebook to split the expenses with me (who just so happens to be Wyrd's studio painter) and the plan was in motion.

So then the Easter sale dropped.  Now I have models to paint!  And anyone who knows me knows this is kind of an Achilles’ heel of mine.  So I spent almost all my free time the week before assembling and painting (skipping that x wing game I wanted to get in but it wouldn’t matter because I probably needed all day Friday to paint as well).  I ordered bases and they came in Tuesday (I was lucky to keep refreshing the Easter sale every 10 min until it went live so my order was close to first in the queue.)  My label generated Tuesday at 4, so I thought it would go out that day. Turns out Fail-Ex had different plans. Left Wyrd on Wednesday at 2 and I got it Thursday during work hours before I was set to hit the road. So thus began the comedy of set backs.  First up I get a call at 2 (estimated time of departure) ‘I have a flat’… so this set us back an hour.  Between rush hour and the rain we lost probably 2 hours in the commute.  Got in at 2.30am. We didn’t reserve Thursday because when we made the plan he was gonna drive Friday morning, but this changed because of his crystal brush contest.  So that hotel did not have a room for us.  We went over to the convention center to see if registration might be open because the swag bag was suppose to be worth it.  No such luck.  So he made the suggestion we could just nap in the car which I can totally do.  Turned out he cannot.  So after an hour we went in search of a hotel room.  We get that sorted and Friday was bearable.  Got there about 11 after the swag was gone.  Then we set up shop and paint.  Usually I do ok on 6 hours sleep so I paint until 2 am.  Then the fire alarm goes off at 4.30 am…  When I wake up I’m so tired and kinda in a hurry I couldn’t figure out how the coffee dispensers work so I left the hotel without and it was snowing.   How many signs of the apocalypse do I half to encounter just to play some Malifaux? So now that you have an understanding of where I started Saturday morning and that I don’t normally record games in any way to do battle reports, take this with a grain of salt.  And I didn’t bother to take any pictures because my camera is blurry and I need a new phone.
Editor's Note: I like to imagine it looked something this.

I declare 10 thunders
Game 1:  Lynch v Ramos Woke up                                                       upgrades for Ramos that probably did nothing Rising sun Expert Cheater Huggy w addict and recall training         Joss w Imbued Kang w recall training                               Howard w imbued Yu w wandering river style                      Johan Depleted                                                     Brass arachnid
Low river monk                                          mobile tool kit
2x 10 t brothers

I don’t know if anyone snapped any pictures of any of the tables but this one was a wrecked rail yard.

Stat and schemes: recon, convict labor, detonate the charges, exhaust forces, neutralize leader, take prisoner.
Deploy: Standard

I took convict labor and detonate. He took exhaust and take prisoner on Yu.
The game didn’t really go as expected.  He used his beaters to guard Ramos behind cover and sent spiders to contest recon.  Me not being awake at this point in the morning was too slow to counter this.  And I should’ve taken Torshiro.  And while I understand the function of depleted, getting them to work is another animal.  I score one for strat and 3 for convict labor.  Lose 9-4.  I go grab a soda for some much needed caffeine.

Game 2: Lynch vs Ironsides
Woke up                                                   upgrades
Endless hunger
Huggy w RT                                              captain w/ imbuded
Yin w/ smoke grenades                         envy with imbued
Pathfinder                                               mouse
Low river monk                                      Johan
2x illuminated                                         2x gunsmiths
2x 10 t brothers

This was table 18 with carnival terrain.

Strat and schemes: Extraction, convict labor, catch and release, hunting party, leave your mark, and search ruins.
Deploy: Standard

I took convict labor and search ruins.  I think he had hunting party and I know he had ruins.  This one was kinda meh.  We traded pieces until I had yin, both brothers, the pathfinder and lynch and he had captain and mouse.  And this is where I misread and thought center line is where the markers needed to be.  So I won 7-4.  I had a ton of unmolested AP to score 10 and this cost me at the end of the tournament.

Editor's Note: Jon's models when he told them where to put the scheme markers.

Game 3: Lynch V Levi (Kyle from Schemes and Stones podcast)
Woke up                                                   iron
Endless hunger                                       I think there were other upgrades
Huggy w RT                                              2x waif
Yin w/ smoke grenades                         Strongarm w/ oathkeeper
Pathfinder                                               peace keeper w/ oathkeeper
2x illuminated                                         taelor w/ oathkeeper
2x 10 t brothers                                      necro punk

Table 13 was kinda like a valley with a few pockets of trees.

Strat and Schemes: collect the bounty, convict labor, quick murder, occupy turf, show force, leave mark.  
Close deploy.

I took convict labor and mark.  I think he had show and mark.  He sent the strongarm and a waif up one flank, necro up the other and everything else up the center.  I sent a bro up each side and sent yin and huggy to deal with the strongarm and the rest move up to deal with the host.  Yin put the minus wp debuff on the strong arm and then locked down his walk/charge.  Huggy came along and caressed him once to give brilliance and then the rest of the tentacles sodomized him for red joker 11 at the top of round 2.  Managed to kill the PK relatively easy.  The necro got 3 for mark.  Levi shot one bro, buried, then reversed field and killed the other one.  I scored bounty twice and got 3 from labor.  I think this ended 5-7 or 8 bad guys (this ran up to the timer and I was still kinda in zombie mode).  If taelor didn’t joker an Illuminated last turn I could’ve sprung her to tie this game but it was well played on his side.  I should have ignored the necro and used the pathfinder on the main host.  That might have made the difference in killing stuff to get me the win.

Game 4: Lynch V Ironsides (again ) (Tyler? from Malifaux's Most Wanted podcast I think (could be wrong))
Woke up                                                   
Endless hunger                                       upgrades
Huggy w RT                                              Johan
Yin w/ smoke grenades                        mouse
Kang w RT                                                2x gunsmith
2x illuminated                                         2x oxford mage
2x 10 t brothers                                      firestarter

Table 13 was kinda like a valley with a few pockets of trees.

Strat and Schemes: reckoning, convict labor, exhaust, frame, public demo, show of force. 
Corner deploy.

I took convict and exhaust.  He took exhaust and ? (this game was before the dinner break so hunger and fatigue made this game a blur but I remember both of us were laughing most of the time and he had Kang down to 1 wound for the entire turn 3 and could not get the last wound to score reckoning.  I may have cheated and red joker and told him got to work harder than that. I more or less rolled his forces as I advanced behind Yin with his double – to hit.  I think I won 8-3

Game 5: Lynch V guild mcmourning
Woke up                                                   
Endless hunger                                       upgrades
Huggy w RT                                              frank
Yin w/ smoke grenades                        sebastain
swordsman w RT                                   chihuahua
2x illuminated                                         abuela
2x 10 t brothers                                      nurse
                                                                 2x austringer

Table 7  town square

Strat and Schemes: Guard stash, convict labor, hunting party, inspection, set up, take prisoner.  
Standard deploy.

I took convict and Take Prisoner Frank,  He took set up and ? (I honestly don’t know).  This game started well enough.  I move up using building for cover.  He had abuela, nurse austringer and a watcher on 1 side, and the rest to the other side.  Turn 2 he shoots at the approaching swordsman only to faceplam when he remember I had bulletproof 3.  Huggy then told her to shoot the austringer and she said sure thing and smoked him.  He manages to throw mcmourning in lynches face then huggy, yin, and illuminate counter charge and remove him.  Then frank and Sebastian come up and try to avenge their master and this is where the game went sour.  He had sebastain behind frank but I still had line of effect to sebastain (I will concede he was very close to being hidden but he was not) So I attacked sebastain and he didn’t hear me and assumed I was going after frank.  When I get this sorted when he had frank on one wound, I had him move all those wound over to sebastain.  Then I thought he was gonna flip the table on me.  He was throwing his pieces and everything. At this point all I did was pass with all my models but only to take bare minimum to score 10.  I won 10- not 10(I think 5).  I think he was kinda ok after the game after I showed him I had take frank and that why I didn’t want the wounds on him.  But that was a sour game.  But I learned I need to be rested and pay more attention to what my opponent is doing.  I should’ve caught that before it became an issue.

Editor's Note: Or, just follow this advice.
But I am happy with my 10 (should have been 8th) place finish.  I had fun for 4 ½ games.  And I can’t wait for gen con and to go back next year.

Thursday, April 7, 2016


I had a few different topics I wanted to wander through that didn’t necessarily have the weight of a full-length post behind them, so I decided to lump some things together. The first subject comes from the Adepticon tournament having completed the previous weekend. The winner of the tournament put together a massive post (linked here) that explains his run-up to the victory and his general strategy in the tournament. He also puts out a call-to-action that Wyrd needs to take a look at the strategy he employed in his crew and do something about it, or this will be a problem for them in tournaments going forward.
Now, what does this crew do that is so powerful? It’s really just about using the ability to take the actions of Malifaux rats individually, then combine them into a rat king, then break down the rat king into a rat catcher and a rat. This chews up basically all of the actions of the opponent’s crews, letting you see what they’re doing and setting up the next phase, wherein Nix gives that remaining rat Haunting Memories to give it reactivate and then sacrifice it at the end of activation two, at which point Killjoy will be summoned. Typically, the result of this is that you have KJ in your deployment zone or attacking your critical models unopposed (because you’re in all likelihood activated out at this point, remember) while the rest of the Outcast crew moves to support him, typically in the form of some other critical alpha strike. The player in question would either slingshot the Victorias across the board, a move which has always been around but was very risky in the early turns because it typically left them exposed and vulnerable to counterattack, or used Leviticus and Ashes and Dust to cross quickly and cause disruptions. I think the cleanest example of this going the way it should comes from his battle report in the first round against Dan Johnsons of Before We Begin, where Nicodem starts the turn doing Nicodem things, and then gets killed at the end of turn 1. The phrase “I then killed the rest of his crew” coming in turns 2-3 against Resurrectionists isn’t something you see very often, and underscores the potential power of this setup.
Now, does this need to be shut down? Probably, but not for the reasons you’re thinking. I’m like you. The first time I heard about this I was thinking it was too strong and needed to be nerfed for competitive balance reasons, and maybe that’s true. If you go talk to Joel Henry (as I briefly did on Twitter) he’ll inform you that a ranged caster like a Sonnia or Rasputina can mess up the rat engine and that Pandora simply wrecks this crew. Ok, I don’t know enough to say whether that’s true, but even the person running the crew pointed out that an opposing Outcast crew built to deny charges can cause him trouble as well, so the combination of models is not unbeatable (as we all know nine belles and Leviticus is.) But why then do I think it needs to be nerfed?
The first is that this isn’t the game working as intended. Stalling through the first parts of the game to avoid the back-and-forth nature of the activations followed by a burst combo that knocks your opponent out and leaves them unable to respond are very anti-Malifaux. It’s not fun to play, and it’s really not fun to play against. Also, if the combo falls apart early and the crew gets overextended, you can find yourself in the opposite situation where now the matchup is slanted hard in the other direction and will likely be not a particularly fun game for either player. Is a boring crew enough to warrant an errata? Well, if you were around for M1E and were conscious of tournaments after the second book came out, you can probably recall not seeing Hamelin very often. Hamelin could do this sort of activation control every turn of the game (rather than just early) and was widely considered to be a negative play experience for this reason and was (rightly) shunned by the majority of the Malifaux world. Combine that with not being able to play even close to the whole game in a timed environment against an opponent that was running a Hamelin list, and it was a terrible option for a tournament that was largely ignored. This example doesn’t apply exactly to this situation, as running over time could often be as costly for the person playing the crew as their opponent, but it gets the point across that NO ONE WANTS TO PLAY AGAINST THIS, and often people don’t even want to use it either.
The other problem allows me to hearken back to one of the first gaming “this is unbalanced, we need to do something” situations I can remember: the Black Summer.

Settle in close, kids. Grandpa’s going to tell you a story.

Way back in the late 1900’s, there was a Magic: The Gathering deck that used a card called Necropotence to trade your life for card advantage. This combination wasn’t game breaking like the rats are being argued to be, but what it did do was let you vastly outdraw your opponent and speed them down in an early phase of the game when there weren’t practical ways to stop it with a normal deck. Decks could beat Necropotence, but they had to be specific decks like Turbo Stasis that could lock them down and keep them under control (which, ironically, is more like the rats, but I digress.) And that created the situation in the 1995 Magic: The Gathering known as The Black Summer, a period where to compete you had to either have the Necropotence deck or its counter, and nothing else could realistically win at the highest competitive levels.
Now, this isn’t quite that situation, but it has the potential to turn into that. I will be the first to admit that the Outcasts are one of the factions I know the least about, so I can’t comment from a position of authority whether this rat list is really The BestTM way to play them, but let’s say for the sake of argument that it is (the field at Adepticon appeared to think so, as most if not all of the top end players were running a form of it.) Now, let’s say the trend continues and competent Outcast players are all going to be running this because its objectively better than what else they could bring, AND you know that you have to tailor your list to beat it or it will just wreck you while leaving you no way to respond. You’ve brought, say, Hoffman because you like that list, but you know that a Victoria crew that gets to launch itself into you at the end of the first and can ignore the armor of your constructs will essentially leave you no chance to win. Are you now forced to change you crew around completely to give yourself a chance, say by switching to Sonnia to blast the rats and screw up the activations on the first turn? And if so, is that a good thing? To a degree, you do this every game when your opponent declares their faction (oh, they’re running Ressers? Better bring stuff with high minimum damage and willpower) so this isn’t a complete change. But, the difference is that bringing your standard crew rather than changing the list to react to your opponent against those Ressers means that you might have a somewhat tougher game and may have to work your way uphill to win the game. If you are unprepared for these rats, it appears you are most likely going to lose and be unable to stop it. That’s the difference here, and that’s where there’s reason for concern.
Again, this is not an unbeatable “win button.” Things can stop it, and not knowing what you’re doing while running it will still cause you to lose. However, the original poster made no bones about the fact that he doesn’t consider himself to be that good of a player, but the combination is too strong and needs to be addressed. I think something should probably be done, but I’ll let you draw your own conclusions. In any case, if your opponent is playing Outcasts, be aware that this exists and be ready. And, also, feel free to contribute to the discussion.


Second, I’m still thinking about things to do with the Wrath of Nature crew. Some models from outside the theme will be pretty helpful to include, I’m thinking, so I may have to loosen things up a bit. I think Mr. Graves could be pretty helpful in both phases of the game, largely due to his movement tricks. He could help with moving some models that aren’t that quick upfield early and then throw enemy models into the hazardous terrain later. It should be good times. And he’s a Nephilim, so why not work for Lillith? Also, Tuco might be useful to hold parts of the board away from the terrain ball, deploying with From The Shadows. Also, this would provide some ranged combat to a crew that effectively has none.
Here’s a picture or two of progress so far on painting and assembly.


Finally, there’s an announcement to make. My old buddy and Malifaux partner Jon has written a guest post for the blog to discuss his experience playing at Adepticon. I’ll be posting it soon. This opened up an idea for me to let others write for the blog from time to time as well. So, if you have something you’d like to get off your chest about Malifaux, can put a sentence together ledgibly, and want to see it published to literally dozens of readers, drop a line to and let me know. I’m happy to have you! 

Oh, and I finally put my order in to get my henchman "welcome package." It has a mystery box in it to give away if I can ever put a tournament together (ha ha.) But, the foil card they included for me was pretty nice...
It's like they packed it for me personally.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Wrath of Nature: Musings on the Mysterious Emmisary

                Because of [reasons] I’ve been struggling to get some Malifaux in recently, and have temporarily sidelined my drive to play each of the Guild masters a certain number of times to master the faction. That’s the reality of kids, family, work, and all that other stuff. Truly, there is no Tyrant who poses a greater threat to the good folk of Malifaux than the home life. I have received a Miss Step from my buddy Jon that I’ve assembled and will look to use with Hoffman at some point in the future, but I’ll post that when it gets some paint on it.
                In the meantime, we had a night recently when we sat down as a family and all painted minis. My wife had an m1e Miranda that she’s going to use as a TTB character. My kids had their own models. And, mostly because A) I have a few m1e avatar models which I can theoretically use as Emissaries and B) I’ve been playing a lot of Arkham Knight on the ps4 and Poison Ivy gave me a bit of inspiration for the Neverborn’s walking angry plant creature, I decided to dust off the Avatar Zoraida I built long ago and get it in ship shape. As such, I whipped together my new proxy Emissary, and it looks a little something like this.

You know you can't resist her

I like it, though the old GW brown wash made the tree way shinier than I had initially intended and, of course, a black crow with a gray beak isn’t exactly distinctive. It’s missing some basing that I think will be pretty cool (I saw someone who had used pistachios to essentially create the piranha plants from Mario to simulate “hungry land” that I just have to steal.) But, this is the general idea, and I’m fairly happy with how it turned out. Now time to drop it off the table the first time I go to use it and break the thing, I suppose.

Of course, as soon as I decided “Cool, I’ll paint up this Emissary in a theme that I like and get it on the board,” I realized a couple of days later that it is widely considered to be the worst of the lot (explained by UK no. 1 Greg Piskosz in this podcast The tl:dr version is that Neverborn’s main advantage is maneuverability and speed, whereas the Emissary summons hazardous terrain that project an aura around them that restricts movement. Also, they have a short range summon spell and a desire to sit on top of said hazardous terrain, meaning that the Changelings have a very limited safe space where they won’t get eaten when they appear. Greg refers to it as being essentially “anti-synergy,” which is a bummer. But I painted the thing, so I’m by-god gonna get it on the tabletop. Period.

So how to make use of this possibly clunky thing? Their suggestion is to go with one of the two masters that grant strong conflux upgrades to the ME (I’ll use that abbreviation from here forward.) Pandora’s conflux is kind of crazy, as it lets the Emissary copy abilities from other models within a certain range of the model. For those not aware of what “abilities” means, flip to the front of your stat cards. The stuff written under the stats are the abilities. So, you can borrow things like regeneration, terrifying, armor, the Hooded Rider’s triggers or ability to add masks, etc etc etc. There’s got to be something in there that’s broken, and it’s one of those abilities that will only get better the more models come out in the future. The other one is Collodi, because picking up buffs in response to summoning the Effigies works out pretty well and can help the whole crew. However, I’m the kind of nerd that is bothered by crews that aren’t at least pseudo-thematic, and my plant lady ME doesn’t quite fit with those two dazzling-urbanites. So, let’s broaden our thought process a bit, shall we?
This, plus some news I’ll share as we get closer to Gencon, inspired me to shift focus to a new theme: Wrath of Nature. The Neverborn have a lot of models that involve channeling plants and the land itself to destroy the human invaders, and I wanted to combine this idea with the ME. Waldgeists are sort of the marquis minions of embodying this idea, as they’re essentially animated trees which can summon severe terrain and lash out over a massive area with their vines. The masters which play most closely into the theme are Zoraida and Lillith, IMO, where Z likes her Swampfiends and Lillith can summon an additional tree and see through the bushes to the enemy. Neither have particularly impressive Emissary upgrades, so I imagine I’ll be using the generic one that buffs minions (like, say, Waldgeists.)

I mean, I guess you could say Lillith has some thematic synergy with nature...
Lillith I think is a very interesting combination with this crew, as she gives you increased maneuverability and manipulation of the terrain that I think combines interestingly with the summoning of forests she can do along with her minions (I’m aware that the Waldgeist’s markers don’t block LoS, but go with me for a moment.) She can see through them and use Tangled Shadows to shift models into/around/out of them. This can also solve another ME problem, namely its not being particularly mobile. Walk 6 isn’t bad, per say, but we’re the Neverborn and we can do better. A walk 6 model is in danger of getting left behind, and dropping the ME forward on the board to start projecting its dangerous terrain into the enemy’s face might help improve its efficacy (assuming, of course, it doesn’t just get killed. I’m realistic.) So, here’s my first stab at a list using this concept.

For some reason the pictures I took of my Lillith are very pixellated. Its not an amazing paint job, but it isn't this bad...

Wrath of Malifaux Core Crew
Lillith-Beckon Malifaux, On Wings of Darkness
Doppleganger-Mimic’s Blessing (because why wouldn’t you)
Mysterious Emmisary- Mysterious Conflux
Cherub- (I figure if we’re going with the theme, might as well go all out)
Waldgeist x2

This puts us at 35/50 soulstones. I think you fill in the rest of the crew with either Sillurids for scheme running scenarios or something that can hit hard (Nekima? Illuminatedx2?) for more killy stuff. Illuminated getting + just for being within aura 4 of the emissary seems good (of course, that also likely puts them close to the severe terrain. Ugh.)

Will it work on the board? I don’t know. I think it would be better at scenarios like Turf War where you’re going to pile into the center of the board and you can just castle up and hold points, but I could be wrong. Likely am, if this blog’s history is any indication.

Let me know what you think in the comments. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

A Few Test Scheme Pools with the New 2016 Gaining Grounds

So if you’re a Malifaux player who lives under a rock, you may not be aware that Wyrd released the new Gaining Grounds 2016 document with a new scheme pool. Most of the podcasts out there have covered it in detail, so I’ll just briefly mention the highlights: 1) All the schemes are unrevealed 2) Models like Leveticus or The Dreamer that bury instead of dying are now less of a way to “hide” from the scheme pool, since these types of schemes now score when you leave play 3) The suited schemes pull you in very different directions and reemphasize the roles of enforcers and henchmen rather than masters.

Rather than do my own analysis, I thought I would flip a few scheme pools and look at how I would address them with a master I know relatively well, Jacob Lynch. First, the disclaimers: I am not good at Malifaux, so I am not an authority on how best to approach these. I can (and likely will) be wrong at least once, so please don’t hoist me on the petard of this article. I’m new to these schemes too.
Ok, that out of the way, let’s get started.

Opponent: Resurrectionist Flank, Extraction, Convict, Show of Force, Exhaust Their Forces, Mark for Death, Neutralize the Leader

Lynch: Rising Sun, Woke up with a Hand, On Wings of Darkness, 7SS; Sillurid; Doppleganger: Useless Duplication; Hungering Darkness: Addict, The Mimic’s Blessing; Illuminatedx2; Lilitu: Mimic’s Blessing;

For this one I would try to see what the opponent has hired to better make a decision between Show of Force or Mark for Death based on opponent’s upgrade selection. If they have more than me, I may have issues pulling it off. This one will be an ugly pile in the middle which the Sillurid will take advantage of by leaping in and Exhausting the enemy.

Arcanists. Squatter’s Rights, Standard Deployment. Convict, Exhaust, Leave Your Mark, Covert Breakthrough, Set Up

Lynch: Endless Hunger, Hand, On Wings of Darkness, 5SS; 3xTerror Tots; Doppleganger: Mimic’s Blessing; Hungering Darkness; Mr. Tannen; Siluridx2
Set Up is trickier unless the crew very obviously has a hitter that you know will be flying to your face (Howard, for instance.) Scramble and throw markers everywhere. If the opponent has fewer models, then Leave Your Mark will be easier. If its Ramos or a spam list of some kind maybe don’t because it’ll be tough. Find the ace of masks, obviously. Tannen’s there to protect the eligible people from Set Up. Hungering Darkness hunts scheme runners and/or takes down the flank Squatter’s Rights markers.

Resurrectionists. Interference. Corner Deployment. Convict Labor, Show of Force, Leave Your Mark, Covert Breakthrough, Undercover Entourage.

Lynch: Rising Sun, Woke Up With a Hand; Hungering Darkness: Addict; Lilitu: Mimic’s Blessing; Doppleganger: Useless Duplication; Terror Tot; Illuminatedx2;

And the best part of this one was…I got to play it in person!

Opponent’s List: Seamus: Habberdasher, Unnerving Aura, Willpower Limited Upgrade; Sybelle: Bleeding Lash, Not Too Banged Up; 3xRotten Belles; Yin: Unnerving Aura; Nurse

The board was set up with a good mix of scatter terrain, some blocking and some severe. The middle of the table had a hill with a blocking crystal of some kind and some trees to force us to move around it. Corner deployment was really not optimal for Covert Breakthrough, but with Belles I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to get separation enough to do Leave Your Mark. My gameplan thus became flooding the board with sprinting Tots (and Doppleganger) to cross the board and go drop off markers to in the enemy’s deployment zone and to be able to bounce back and forth between zones for the strategy and to get to the centerline for show of force, though I was also unsure of that one when I saw how many upgrades the other crew was using.

The game didn’t start out that well for my side, as I lost a Terror Tot and an Illuminated early (Illuminated are tough, but they don’t hold up well to shots from Seamus and the Copycat.) Thus my activation advantage went away quickly, particularly when the Illuminated stood up and put on a dress. The Hungering Darkness went up the left flank and tied up Sybelle and another Belle before Yin jumped into it to knock him down. In the meantime, a Terror Tot and the Doppleganger copying its sprint went bolting past the action into the backfield. However, Yin jumped after them and tied them up. Seamus moved into the heart of the crew to use his Unnerving Aura and try to put us into a tough place. Things were looking bad for the drug dealing card player.

Where it started to swing was when a Belle and Sybelle ran to go try and kill the other Illuminated. Lynch saw an opening and put Brilliance on the Belle before dropping her with Final Debt, springing HD back into action. He then proceeded to pummel Sybelle over successive turns, drop her, and get within 6” of the centerline. Meanwhile Lillitu was on the other side, tying up several Belles (now there’s a mental image) and getting her own upgrade to the centerline, to allow the crew to start scoring from Show of Force. One Terror Tot managed to sprint into the enemy deployment zone and get a marker down before being lured away by Belles, leading to them pouncing on him, and them bleeding all over two of them. There was an amusing series of attacks where they did more damage to themselves than to the Tot through blackblood before finishing him. Also, there was another amusing exchange on turn 3 when the Copycat Killer and Lynch unloaded on each other and neither could hit. Meanwhile, on the other side of the board, one Tot suicided into Yin while the Doppleganger put down a second marker and ran away. The key moment came when, on a turn when Seamus had a bad control hand, he discarded a corpse marker to backdoor away but failed the flip and didn’t have the card to cheat. He was caught from that point by Hungering Darkness and, when he backhanded the critter away, opened him up for Lynch to drop a 9-point Final Debt on him followed by some ram trigger gun shots to kill Seamus off. This ended up being pretty important, as I found out later that Seamus had Covert Entourage and this denied him three points.

Neither of us scored much in the way of points from the strategy, and the final score was 5-3 for Lynch. I think, in retrospect, Leave Your Mark would have been a better call for this, as the Tots had a lot more room to scramble and hide than I initially thought. Show of Force is still pretty tough to do when the other side has more upgrades than you, but drawing Yin away and unburying HD saved me there.  Additionally, while I like Useless Duplication there weren’t enough Mimics to warrant taking it here instead of Mimic’s Blessing, which is just a good all-around upgrade.

So yeah, hopefully that was interesting to someone. As usual, feel free to comment below. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

2015 Malifaux Musie Awards

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to Malifaux's Greatest Award Show (by default,) the 2015 Musie Awards! Generally speaking, I tend to focus my thought processes and attention on the competitive side of the Malifaux miniatures game, looking at it in terms of strategy, crew composition, and what is most likely to give you a win in a particular stratety/scheme set-up. There’s a reason my podcasts of choice tend to focus on shows like Before We Begin and (anything Joel Henry is on) rather than those that pay more attention to hobby and collecting. It’s not that I don’t like those other shows, it’s just that I only have so much time and this is the part of the game that interests me. Perhaps not unexpectedly, as I’m listening to these I get a passing view of which factions and masters are winning consistently at the major tournaments over the course of the year. As such, I thought it would be useful and interesting to look back at 2015’s Malifaux Tournament scene with an eye for which factions did well in the competitive environment. I focused on tournaments that either A) had 20+ attendees or B) were a qualifier/golden ticket event for the UK or US national championship (or, of course, were those respective championship tourneys.) First, a few disclaimers that will apply to this first iteration of the awards:

1) I had to have access to the results, so they focus on those which are available through the UK and US Malifaux rankings site. Additionally, I turned to the Malifaux public themselves for some filler data on tourneys I was missing, and I threw in the Nythera event results because it A) had the most players of any event and B) probably gave the closest representation of the aggregate competitive level of Malifaux factions across all of the playing public.
2) I don’t have which masters were used in each tournament, so I elected to not include that in the tracking. Next year I hope to correct this.
3) I wasn’t present for any of these tourneys, so all information has to be second hand. I’ve tried to stick to only data given to me from participants/organizers, but I’m not ruling out the possibility that something in here is incorrect.

The final list of events included in this compilation is: Adepticon, Gencon Avatar of Malifaux tournament, the NOVA Open, the UK Grand Tournament, The UK Masters Tournament, the Nythera Worldwide Event, Brooklynfaux II, Live Free or Die Cheating, Captain Con, Mali-Fest, Templecon, Connecticon, Isle of Faux, Cow Wars, Haul of Eggs, the Scottish GT, Deliverance, and Play More Games. From a first look at the data, what do I see? Well, in terms of attendance at the major tournaments, the UK wins mostly on the back of the 88 people who were at the UK GT. This is just staggering, and is a testament to how popular the game is in the UK per capita and, possibly, the advantage of having all of the player base on a handful of islands rather than spread across the entire continental US. It was impressive to see that the US could field a similar number of high player base ranked events as the UK, however, as the disparity between US versus UK events was only 1 (9.5 vs. 8.5, as I split the Nythera event between the two.) Also encouraging is the fact that each faction had at least one win at a major tournament this season, a testament to how wide-open the meta is for Malifaux’s competitive scene (or, as some might argue, it may just be a comment on the fact that the meta is constantly evolving and no one has quite figured it out yet.) But, this is supposed to be an award show, so let’s get on to the awards.

To start with, the Musie for US faction of the year goes to

The Guild!

Yer Goddamned Right it does.

A lot of this comes on the back of the Guild winning both the Gencon Avatars qualifier and the NOVA Open, as well as the Nythera event. Hot on their heels are the Outcasts and Resurrectionists, with two and three major US events each. Two factions (Neverborn and Arcanists) failed to take down one of the major US tournaments included in the data set. It would be interesting to break things down into smaller, more localized meta reports for who wins in certain areas, as I would bet the differences would be pretty significant. Two of the Guild wins that got them this award were from the same player in subsequent tournaments, but the Resurrectionist wins were also clumped (around a certain Guy in Suit) so it’s possible this picture isn’t as complete as it could be.

Next up, the Musie for UK faction of the year

…goes to the Resurrectionists!

Checking into the Rezzers award show party. Update: the party is totally dead.
The Rezzers put together a strong resume of tournament wins in the UK in 2015, taking down both the UK GT and the Masters. The Neverborn ended up with two major tournament wins as well, but I gave the edge to the dead-folk due to overall population of the tournaments that they won. Two different factions failed to win one of the major tournaments. One of the missing factions, interestingly, is the Guild. The disparity in Guild results in the UK versus the US consistently fascinates me and was probably one of the most interesting outcomes of this research. What’s the deal here? Are there just not as many strong Guild players in the UK as in the US? Did the differences in the two meta-games open the door for a more dominant, destructive Guild list to win out here where it was countered there? This is worthy of closer investigation, in my opinion. Look for a future blog post examining that.

Speaking of the UK’s staggering tournament attendance, it should perhaps be no surprise that the winner for the People’s Choice Award Musie (combination of wins multiplied by attendees at the majors) goes to


Currently serving appetizers at the Rezzer party. 
Again, the UK GT skews this result strongly in their favor, but it says something that the Rezzers came out on top of a pile of 88 of the UK’s best and brightest. That is a meat grinder, to be sure, and deserving of respect. Outcasts come in second here, with none of the other factions cracking triple digits.

The second to last Musie we’re going to call the Wooden Spooner award (with nods to self-described terrible Malifaux Player and podcaster Matt Spooner) we’ll give to the bottom of the pile faction. And really, are we surprised that this one goes to

…the Gremlins! 

They don't know it's a gag award, so they're still happy.
This result is probably the least representative of what the faction can really do, as I would pin part of this result on the simple fact that, for a large part of 2015, most of the faction wasn’t available in plastic (or at all.) People don’t like playing proxies, and major tournaments generally aren’t going to let you get away with using them. Their one win (from the included tournies) was Play More Games, a tournament in Maryland. Look for this to change next year, as Ulix, Ophelia, and Rooster Riders are just one of the many scary things you don't want to see across from you on a table. It is fun to poke at the perpetual little-brothers of Malifaux, however, and remind them that they still aren't a real faction. I was also surprised that the Arcanists finished as low as they did, considering they had the Mechanical Rider and pre-nerf Iron Gamins all year long. The one win included was Martin Wodehouse at the UK's Deliverance tourney (and how Gremlins didn't win that, I'll never know.) Now, they finished on the podium for a large number of these tourneys, so if I was including this I think they would have finished stronger. But still, that one really surprised me.

So that leaves us with our final award, the Musie for Faction of the Year: Most major tournaments won worldwide. If you’ve been reading through the rest of the article, it should perhaps not surprise you that the winner is…
I mean, really, what other picture could I use?

The Resurrectionists!

With five major tournament wins worldwide and strong showings in both the UK and US metas, I think it’s no surprise that the deadheads are the winners here. Encouragingly, this was not a matter of the same single master or list winning these tournaments (though Kirai was well represented in both, as Andrew Weakland and Joe Wood, among others, have demonstrated her strength as a master quite convincingly at this point.) Seamus and McMourning were well represented here as well. Runner-up for the award is the Guild, again coming entirely as a result of victories in the US meta and their victory in the Nythera worldwide event. Honorable mention goes to the Outcasts, as Jack Daw and Leveticus led their faction to three major tourney wins.

Well, that’s first effort at putting together a Musies award show, as much as I could do with an informal poll after the fact. Next season I hope to poll the major tournament organizers and winners as the events come along, giving me better information and making for some cool interviews and insights from the players on sight. I’d love to attend some of them in person (and that may happen for Gencon, if nothing else) but I think this is the next best thing. I’d love to get comments and suggestions from readers on how to improve these for 2016, and I’m sure some people disagree with the results I have here. I love to have comments, so feel free. But in the meantime, thanks for reading. Enjoy the post-award show parties. Try not to take too much Brilliance.

If you do, the management is not responsible for any Hungering Darkness or Seamus related mishaps that happen afterward.

Friday, December 25, 2015

A Malifaux Carol

Tis the season, and yesterday we were watching George C. Scott’s “A Christmas Carol” movie. For whatever reason, I saw the Ghost of Christmas Present with the two children Ignorance and Want and thought of him summoning them onto a Malifaux game board, and my imagination was off to the races. So, I made this. They’re not balanced in any way shape or form, I’m sure, but I like the thematics of facing all three of them in sequence, and how each can fill a very different role on the field. Here goes.

Ghost of Christmas Past

Outcast: Spirit, Mercenary, Enforcer, Rare1, 12SS
Wk6 Cg8 Df4 WP6 Ht2 Wk6
Flight, Incorporeal
The first spirit- Ghost of Christmas past cannot be summoned by friendly models. If the Ghost of Christmas Past is killed or sacrificed, place a Ghost of Christmas Present in base contact with it before removing it from the board.

Attack Actions
(1) Embers of the Past-At. 4 vs. Df Ml1” 1/2/4 After damaging, target gains the condition “Burning +X” where x is the current turn number.
(1) I can only show what has come before-Ca 6 Res. Wp Range 6 Damage special – The damage profile for this attack is the same as one of the targets attack actions which it has previously used during one of its activations this game.

Tactical Actions
(1) Look upon your past works – CA 6 TN 14 Rg 6 Target a scheme, corpse, or scrap marker within range. Place a second identical marker into base contact with the first. Useable once per turn.
(0) Smother with your own cap-Sacrifice the Ghost of Christmas Past

Ghost of Christmas Present
The ghost of Christmas present is kind of a pedo...

Outcast: Spirit, Mercenary, Enforcer, Rare 1
Wk5 Cg – Df 3 WP 5 Ht 3 Wd 8
The Second Spirit-Ghost of Christmas Present cannot be hired or summoned by a friendly model during the game. When the Ghost of Christmas Present is killed or sacrificed, place the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come in base contact before removing it from the board.
Empty Scabbard-Models within aura 4 must pass a TN 13 WP duel at the beginning of their activation. If they fail, they may not declare attack actions this turn.
Manipulative 13

Tactical Actions
(1) Come and know me better man- Ca 6 TN 12 All models within aura 8 must pass a TN13 WP duel or immediately move their walk towards the Ghost of Christmas Present
(1) Children of your cruel age- Ca 6 TN 14 Rg. 6 Summon either Want or Ignorance.
(1) I see a lonely corner with an empty chair…-Ca6 TN14 All models w/in 6” must pass TN 13 WP duel or suffer 2 damage.
(0) 12th hour of the 12th night-Sacrifice the Ghost of Christmas Present.
50mm base


Peon, Vision, Rare 1
Wk3 Cg- Df4 WP5 Wd 3 Ht 1
Visions of the Present- May not be hired. May only be summoned by the Ghost of Christmas Present.
Gaunt and Weak-This model generates only 1 general AP on its activation.
Manipulative 12
Aura of Ignorance- Targets beginning their activation within aura 4 must pass a TN 13 WP test. Those that fail may not declare tactical actions this turn.

Attack Actions
(1)On his brow is written doom Ca 1 TN 10 Rs. WP Rg 6 Sacrifice target model that fails the WP duel.
30mm base


Peon, Vision, Rare 1
Wk3 Cg- Df4 WP5 Wd 3 Ht 1
Visions of the Present- May not be hired. May only be summoned by the Ghost of Christmas Present.
Gaunt and Weak-This model generates only 1 general AP on its activation.
Manipulative 12
Aura of Want- Targets beginning their activation within aura 4 must pass a TN 13 WP test. Those that fail may not declare interact actions this turn.

Tactical Actions
(1)Are there no workhouses? Are there no prisons? – CA2 TN 10 Rg 6 Target a scheme marker. All models w/in 2” of the marker must pass a TN12 WP duel or gain Paralyzed. Discard the Scheme Marker.
30mm base

Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come

And Christmas Yet to Come is a ring wraith?

Outcast, Spirit, Enforcer, Rare 1
Wk4 Cg8 Wd8 Df5 WP6 HT2
Final Spirit-May not be hired or summoned
Shadows and Mist-Any attack from further than 4” away receives – to attack and damage flips.
Terrifying All 13

(1)One skeletal arm-ML6 Ram RS Special Rg2” 3/5/7
When attacking, decide whether opponent resists with defense or willpower.
Ram Trigger-Feed on your sorrow: Ghost of Christmas yet to come heals a number of wounds equal to the damage done with this attack
(1)Visions of the Future: CA6 Rs WP Rg. 6 Damage 1/2/4
Triggers: Ram- Visions of lost love-Upon damaging, target discards 2 cards.
Tome-Visions of Decayed Fortune-Attack deals +X damage where X=number of enemy scheme markers on the board.
Mask-Visions of Lost Potential-After damaging, target discards 1 soulstone.
Crow-Vision of your grave-Upon damaging, target gains paralyzed.
(0)Repent CA6 RS WP Rg 6 After failing, target must discard 2 cards, 1 soulstone, or sacrifice the target.
40mm Base

Then I thought of a Through the Breach scenario:

A Malifaux Carol

             The Fated are stopped in the streets of downtown Malifaux by a frantic Bob Cratchit. He needs someone to run to the home of his employer, a Mr. E. Scrooge, owner and proprietor of their moneychanging house. He has been missing for several days now, and the Guild is threatening to repossess it and leave Cratchit unemployed if Scrooge doesn’t appear with the payment for the mortgage.
              When the Fated arrive at Scrooge’s residence, they find the home haunted by the distraught spirit of Jacob Marley. He can relate that he sent three spirits to try and convince Scrooge to repent for his miserly ways, but he has yet to return and Marley fears the worst. If the Fated agree to help, he can let them into the spirits’ visions to go try and retrieve him, where they will have to face the spirits in turn and try to free the old man. The question for the Fatemaster to determine is: what went wrong? Did the spirits decide Scrooge was irredeemable? Did some other presence get in and interfere with the process (possibly Nytmare?) Or did Scrooge simply refuse to repent, and has gained some sort of dark power within the visions, leaving an even more dangerous foe waiting at the end of the gauntlet?

Thank you for reading and staying with my sporadic posts in 2015, and of course for supporting Malifaux and Through the Breach! Looking forward to some more exciting content in 2016!