Thursday, May 19, 2016

CMON expo. A tale of an almost first place finish.

Greetings all.  This is Jon.  Adam asked me to report my exploits and shenanigans.  So instead of sending him bits and pieces I figured I would give this blogging thing a whirl.  Writing is not something I do often so if I am somewhat vague feel free to ask questions or leave constructive criticism.  Also my phone takes crappy pictures.  I am very aware of this.  I will upgrade in the near future.  With the disclaimers out of the way on to the tournament!

Game one:

Normally I would name opponents but I misplaced a sheet so I'm doing that round by memory and there may be some content that can be construed as a negative play experience.  While it is relatively easy to extrapolate who I am talking about, I will leave all names out as I feel its a polite thing I can do.  I'm not angry.  There are several things I did wrong to lose that game and it was a hard lesson in tournament scheme selection.

Round one:
Strat: Guard the stash.  Schemes: Convict Labor, Set up, Undercover Entourage, Leave your mark, Exhaust their forces.  Deploy:  Corner

Going into this one I was going to use Brewmaster because his defensive trigger is debilitating in corner deployment.  But my opponent told me he was relatively new to the game (less then 10 games played if memory serves.  So I figured a more straight forward master like Lynch would A. play faster on my side and B. not be so confusing and be a NPE for a newer player by making his models do nothing all game.

So the lists: 10 Thunders Vs Arcanists
Lynch, Woke Up With a Hand, Rising Sun, Recalled Training
Hungering Darkness, Recalled Training
Yin, Smoke Grenades
Illuminated x 2
10 Thunder Brothers x 2

Rasputina, Child of December, Decembers Pawn, Shattered Heart
Ice Golem, Armor of December
Hoarcat Pride
Ice Gamin x 3
Sabretooth Cerebus

I don't remember who won flip or who deployed first.  There was no from the shadows I started by the building with the grey roof, and my opponent in the opposite corner.  I sent a brother down each flank to complete convict labor and then to peel off for leave your mark, an illuminated toward each stash marker (hugging cover), Huggy to support one and Yin the other.  Lynch set up behind a fence where he could not be seen between both strat groups.  He came up kinda in a cloud formation and I'm not really certain if there was a plan other then to try to win combat and sweep past me.  This was probably one of his first games since Huggy's incorporeal was frustrating him.  So much so he used smash when Huggy was on one wound top of turn two (probably unaware he was only buried).  Removing Huggy left a lane for my illuminated to skirt past the golem and charge Raspy. He tried to harass one of my thunder brothers with the hoarcat.  Lynch deleted the cerebus releasing huggy who charged the hoarcat and deleted it so my markers on that flank would count.  With Raspy effectively neutralized (don't remember if I killed the golem somewhere in there) he decided to call it.  We both failed the strat turn 3 so I got that game 9-1.  I don't particularly enjoy beating brand new players this bad.  I only hope he sticks with the game and gives it a chance.

Game two:

This table was interesting.  The stairs up to the platforms didn't seem set up in any logical way and I knew I was taking 3 models that don't care.  This guy was running Outcasts but also said he was relatively new.  So we agreed everything was climbable.  Since he showed up with a box that didn't look like it could hold the rat engine and if it did all my stuff can act independent and it was standard deploy sooo...

Round two:
Strat: Turf War.  Schemes: Convict Labor, A Quick Murder, Public Demonstration, Show of Force, Exhaust their forces.  Deploy:  Standard

The lists: 10 Thunders Vs Outcasts
Lynch, Woke Up With a Hand, Rising Sun, Recalled Training
Hungering Darkness, Recalled Training
Yin, Smoke Grenades
Illuminated x 2
10 Thunder Brothers x 2

Von Schill
Strongarm Suit

I don't remember his upgrades as I didn't write them down but every model had an upgrade.  With Turf War and Show of Force having obvious synergy I didn't expect I could compete in Show with just Yin.  As an aside with his crews only threat to my scheme runners being Hans I knew I had 3 points locked up for convict labor (or he would have to potentially lose a stat point and a scheme point to contest my markers).  Public Demonstration while this being the easiest set up I will ever get the list is not built to do it and it relies too heavily not picking off an Illuminated before I spring it.  In hindsight a quick murder on the Strongarm was probably the way I should have gone but somewhere in the back of my mind what if he plays cagey with an obvious melee model and stands back shooting people?  So I settled on Exhaust.  The Brothers didn't have to guard markers anyway as he was obviously all in on a rush to the middle.

Something that didn't happen is I didn't stop to think what he probably took for the second scheme.  I can rule out Public Demonstration seeing as how he had 0 demonstrators, not enough models to attempt Convict, and Exhaust is difficult if you are being out activated (but not to be ruled out) so it was almost certainly a Quick Murder (which my list inadvertently thwarts with attacking Yin at a double negative outside of 6"). But had I did this step I would have deployed Yin in cover for an extra negative.  Even though it turns out Hans doesn't have a built in positive like the other snipers these are the kinds of mistakes I'm going to need to eliminate from my game.

Turn 1.  I deploy on the closer side in the picture.  Brother on each flank and everything else aiming to support the fight for the middle.  He takes a pot shot with Hans (set up on the walkway behind the building for cover) at Yin which misses (still not triggering my spidey senses).  I advance everything into cover except the Brothers.  I send Chiaki to support the thunder brother on my left flank so I can get the markers down quick to maybe get him into the scum turn 3 for Exhaust.  He brought the Strongarm and Librarian down my right flank but angling for the center.  I think he got Hannah and Schill up to or on the walkway towards the center.  I still don't know what the plan for Lazarus was but he was back by Hans on the ground.  Score 0-0

Turn 2.  He advances Strongarm and Hannah up to score.  I charge Huggy in to melee range of both putting some damage on Hannah so the Librarian would have to think about randomizing.  I advance an Illuminated to score.  Between Hans and Schill they kill that Illuminated.  So I advance the other one and Yin in for scoring.  I start running the left flank bro toward the center and advance the other to cover to maybe make a run at Hans.  Score 2-2 (Convict for me, Show for him).

Turn 3.  This where my opponent says 'That's where it all went horribly wrong really'.  I win imitative pop Recalled Training stone for the envelop trigger.  I hit the Strongarm for a straight damage flip and top deck the red joker for 11 damage.  Then I stone for envelop and hit Hannah for 7.  And suddenly there were 2 less models.  (turns out he forgot a legend to live up to which is basically hard to kill.  The math as I see it is I would have killed both of those models with Lynch next activation if he skipped the librarian to get rid of Huggy and in the end of that turn he might have scored 2 less)  He jumps Schill into Huggy burying him.  The Librarian moves up to score.  Still no clue what Lazarus is doing.  I move Yin and the Illuminated up on the walk to go after Hans next turn.  Chiaki and the thunder bro came up to score the strat.  I score exhaust somewhere in there I think it was Yin on Lazarus.  Score 5-4

Turn 4 .Pick off the Librarian, exhaust Lazarus, and engage Hans.  Turn flew by pretty quick.  Score 8-4.  Called the game here 10-4 me.

With a +14 differential and at most 5 undefeateds barring ties (which there is very likely at least a few) means I'm probably playing for first place next game.  There were no table numbers and match ups just picked a table, set up, and go.  So outside of the final standings there is no way for me to tell at this point if I'm playing for 1st or the second place table (where 1st is possible if the the first place table ties and being in 5th at this point being highly unlikely but mathematically possible).

Game three:

This was the table my opponent suggested.  When you see his list it will be obvious why but someone beat us to it.  This is Shenlong, Hans, and two snipers all day.  I will gladly trade my 6 shot to his 3.  But instead of dwelling on what almost was a completely different game...


This table seemed relatively balanced.  More outcasts and 'kinda new player'.  I'm going to hedge against ratjoy and bring Aionus.  Somewhere in the chaos I put an element in my list for Reconnoiter and not Reckoning.

 Round three:
Strat: Reckoning.  Schemes: Convict Labor, Take Prisoner, Detonate the Charges, Covert Breakthrough, Hunting Party.  Deploy:  Standard

The lists: 10 Thunders Vs Outcasts
Lynch, Woke Up With a Hand, Rising Sun
Hungering Darkness, Recalled Training
Aionus, Recalled Training
Illuminated x 2
Torshiro, Command the Graves

2x Waif
Rusty Alyce
2x Trapper
2x Convict Gunslingers

I lost the deployment flip.  This wasn't as debilitating as it could have been considering he had 2 models with from the shadows I failed to account for in my set up.  I chose the corner with the small square building.  He deployed both Trappers together one one the ground behind the rectangle building on my side and one up on the roof in the corner as close to the corner of the board as you can get* (I'll touch back on this as I got cheated).  Hans was up on the building in the middle of the other side.

Instead of doing a play by play or turn by turn I'll just run the highlights.  Not taking any bros cut Convict out of contention.  So I went with Breakthrough and Detonate because Chiaki could probably score me 2 on that.  I tie up Hans with Huggy turn 2 after killing a Gunslinger to get him back.  I tied up Levi with Torshiro for a couple turns.  He scored the strat turn 2 and had I ran my Illuminated down the right flank and pretend it was dropping convict markers I could have stopped him from scoring 3 (for the game) on hunting party.

Where this game went sideways for me is when I tried to shoot the Trapper on the roof (who had move up turn one cause it was out of range or something but it was still more than 2 inches from the edge of the building facing my deployment zone)  He was running the other Trapper to do break through but he hadn't dropped any markers yet.  So he told me I'm pretty sure you can't shoot that guy because vantage point rules.  I didn't bother to check the rules at this point because this guy was slow playing me weather he intended to or not.  So I just changed target to the scheme runner and cheat to what would have been a tie unless he cheated the red joker and he cheated the joker.  I had the red joker in hand and I tie/win the game had I played it there.  I was saving it to one shot a buried Levi with Aionus.

So there is this last round call at 15 mins and we are seconds from the end of 4. score going into 5 is 4-6.  And he calls the game with some lame excuse of I have to be ready to drive 3 hours after this.  If that's the only way you can win buddy have at it.  Top of 5 I have Lynch w/ 5 wds, huggy full and in charge range for Levi, unwounded Aionus, and Chiaki.  Levi had one wound, 2 Waifs hiding in a puddle of piss and the Trapper on the roof who at this point had been cheating the entire game to shoot at me as it turns out that the vantage point rule runs both ways.  Chiaki could still score me detonate for 2 or 3, Lynch could pick up a marker. And I would have scored strat for killing Levi twice that turn.  I turned in the sheets with 12 minutes left and there is no way we would have not finished with 8 models on the table.  But whatever.

So what did I learn from all that?  Take models to do the schemes I chose, have a fall back model, and score a fast as possible.  I don't mean for this to sound salty but I'm sure it does.  I learned several things from all three games, generally had fun (I can't prove the last guy meant to cheat me but you can be for certain I have vantage point seared into my brain and that won't happen again).  I need to slow down and focus at the selection step because this is not the first time I made this type of error.

And a week from this tournament is BKFuax (last weekend at the time of posting this).  So more tournament reports to come.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Ripples of Fate Preview: Titania

This week’s Monday preview brought us the first in a series of reveals for the masters in Malifaux’s next book, Ripples of Fate. Confidentially, I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while, as the first preview was…Titania!

With a name that hearkens to Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” it should be no surprise that Titania is the Queen of the Fae. The resemblance ends there, however, as details revealed from the Nythera Penny Dreadful (stop reading if you plan on playing this or don’t want this spoiled) let you know that she was once ruler of the Neverborn before she made a pact with the Grave Spirit to defeat the Tyrants by shattering their physical forms. The Neverborn were not thrilled with this (their hatred of the undead continues to be one of their defining traits, as Hayreddin can likely attest) and they locked her away beneath Nythera before she could bring the Grave Spirit fully into the world. Since then, she has leeched the energy from the Badlands, turning them into the wastes that they currently are, before being released by Fated at the end of this summer’s events (assuming that your Fated released her. I am aware that not all are as impulsive as others but, as my players put it “We’ve come this far, there’s no way we’re NOT going to find out what’s locked under here.”
Fluff-wise, I like this character a lot from the little bit we have so far. Someone who is an enemy of the Neverborn from the inside, who is returning and going to make the other masters decide how they feel about this person being back, could lead to some very interesting stories going forward. Also, it occurs to me that all of us should feel some sort of affinity for her, as Titania is one of the first characters any of us ever saw in Malifaux and one who many of us have spent games praying would appear in our favor.

Look familiar?

But what about in game? Let’s take a look at the front of the stat card.

For Neverborn players, it should be apparent that this is something very new and different for the faction. This character is very tough. With twelve wounds, Impossible to Wound, and the ability to heal two wounds every time her crew drops a scheme marker within 6” of you, it’s going to take some doing to bring down our new Undead queen. Additionally, enemy models that activate within 6” while in base contact with her scheme markers have to make a WP duel or take some damage. This seems like it would be sort of difficult to set up, but still makes some interesting possibilities for using her to defend markers in schemes like Convict Labor. Walk 5 and flight on a master usually means speed, though that’s nothing new for Neverborn. Still, good to see she will be able to keep up with other members of the faction if she needs too. And, frankly, nobody is likely to say no to a 4 cache. That’s good stuff, and will let you feed stones into the crew without having to save them for her (usually.) It’s tough to gauge anything past that without seeing the flip side of the card and her upgrades, but so far I like what I see.

As an aside, I’m happy to officially announce that roving reporter Jon has joined the blog as an official coauthor, and should be posting soon about his experiences at the Cool Mini Or Not Expo tournament. 

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.