Friday, July 22, 2016

RIpples of Fate Previews M. 2: Nellie, Reva, Titania

So, surprisingly, Wyrd actually released quite a bit more information on the Ripples of Fate box sets prior to Gencon. I thought it would just be the images of the box sets and, by the way, bravo to them for having ALL SEVEN of the new box sets as well as all of the remaining Book 3 models which haven’t been released available for the show. The sculpting staff at Wyrd deserve a lot of kudos for this. This will be the first time since M1E (possibly the first time in the history of Malifaux) when they’re completely up to date. So, cheers for that. However, mid-day on Thursday the 21st, they released some crew summaries and the backside of the master cards to the public. Therefore, since the previous preview posts (yay alliteration) were so popular, I thought it would be time to go back and revisit the previews. There’s only 2 weeks left to the show, however, so we’re gonna have to pick up the pace a bit. On with the show!

Nellie Cochrane

                Fluff-wise, Nellie has been confirmed to be the leader of the Guild run newspaper in Malifaux city. As such, she serves their purpose by not exposing their corruption while digging into everybody else’s (though the story suggests she’s not crazy about this arrangement, necessarily.) She’s got a crew of journalists that work with her as well as her companion, Phiona Gage (a reference from a famous historical medical case of a railroad worker who took a metal spike through his brain and lived, but with an altered personality.) She’s a crusader of truth and, at least from the blurb, is possibly the only truly good person in the entire game of Malifaux. That said, I haven’t read her short stories, so she’s probably secretly kicking puppies or something.
As predicted, Nellie is very different from your average Guild master (IE she’s not going to smash you in the face.) She has a few options for attacking between 1) Scathing Review: an attack that attaches a condition which deals damage every turn unless they perform an interact action (which will then give Nellie more Evidence,) 2) Propaganda: an attack which does a smallish amount of damage but which has a number of triggers which can push the model, let something else take a swing at it, or give it slow, or 3) Hot off the Presses which pushes a model to a scheme marker and gives them burning 3. Propaganda is probably the most interesting, since the additional text lets you drop your evidence condition by 1 to declare more of the triggers off the attack. She can chew up the scheme markers she drops at her feet to get a free 6” push as a zero action as well. She has upgrades which will allow her to hire up to 4 mercenaries without paying the mercenary tax (which will, likely, necessitate taking multiple mercs, since it’s unlikely to be a free upgrade.) Misleading headlines grants her the ability to avoid being out-activated by the enemy crew (a frequent problem with Guild crews) and gives her the very powerful Incite action. Delegation lets her heal models or give them fast (!) which has some interesting interactions with those big, scary mercs you might be hiring or, you know, all the big scary things the Guild already has. So, essentially, Nellie is a big bag of tricks and aggravation for your opponent. I can see her essentially following along with some big gribbly like a Peacekeeper, healing it or giving it Fast, and handing it free attacks with Propaganda. Feels a bit Hoffman-meets-Pandora-meets-Collette to me. She will be mine, someday, but she may stay on Vassal for the immediate future. School supplies have to be bought for my kids this month.


                Reva’s not at all what I thought she would be in the story. I was with everybody else on thinking “death nun,” based on her appearance, but apparently she is a girl from a rich family who could speak to dead people. They locked her up in the attic, but she escaped with the help of a fallen Guild Exorcist. I’m usually a bit more PC about these things but, based on what I’ve seen so far, *yawn*. I kind of liked the idea of the Resurectionist Nun, I’m not going to lie, so I’m disappointed in this. But, this is just a blurb rather than the full stories from the book, so I’ll reserve judgement until I know the full tale. She seems to have kind of a “Joan of Arc” for the Resurrs, as it mentions that she’s attracting a sort-of death cult that is fanatically loyal.
                The best analogy I can get from my impressions of Reva’s role on the table are “Resurrectionist Rasputina,” only not really. Her main attack comes from Ethereal Reaping, a 1 AP attack that will target anything within 3” or her (and she’s on a 50mm base, so that’s a big range) or a corpse marker within 18”. The attack does pretty strong, Perdita-ish damage with some decent triggers, so this could mess opponents up pretty badly. You won’t want to overlook the Drain Life ability, however, as it has the potential to damage an opponent and heal Reva for up to 5 damage depending on the margin by which she beats the defender in a duel. We all know how fond I am of non-damage flip attacks, after all. Her tactical actions let her teleport to corpse markers or discard corpse markers to add friendly scheme markers. Her upgrades feel toolbox-y, though the one that gives her a corpse candle starting on the enemy’s side of the board and allows her to use Strength of the Fallen while engaged seems pretty strong for her. She’s described as being a quick master who pops around the board, does damage, or perhaps prepares for a big final charge at the end of the game.


                Ah, my Faerie queen. How we all prepare to revel in the glory of your return. Titania’s fluff we already more or less knew. She’s the resurrected former leader of the Fae who, upon defeating the titans and destroying their physical forms, was locked away by her followers (the current-day Neverborn) and forgotten. She’s back now, and this time she’s pissed. Part of what I want to see story-wise from the book is which of the Neverborn’s masters fall on her side versus which are going to be opposed to her. I can’t imagine Lillith bending the knee, especially given her people’s hatred of the Undead, but I could definitely see Nekima aligning herself with Titania as a means of getting revenge. We do know that she considers humanity to be a scourge of vermin that need to be wiped out, so that would suggest that Jacob Lynch, Zoraida, and the Dreamer are not going to be on her friends list.
                The attack action A Wicked Silence and A New Harvest result in the scheme markers she needs getting dropped. Her main attack is Bloody Command which can discard scheme markers to spike the damage up, heal a friendly model, or forgo Titania’s damage and call in a beater to smash the target (speaking of Nekima.) Finally, she can use her (0) action and discard scheme markers to push herself along which, if she combines it with a triple walk, will give her up to a 21” move in a turn. Sexy. We don’t know which, if any, of Titania’s upgrades are Limited (and, thus, which can be combined,) but we know a few of them. One forces an opponent to discard 2 cards to attack her after she hits a trigger. Forest claims all lets her convert corpse and scrap markers to scheme markers (seems like a pretty strong choice.) And, finally, there’s an upgrade which lets her name one member of her crew as a champion, which gives them some manner of buffs. This lets you apply some flexibility to who gets the upgrade and prevents them getting taken off before they can make use of the abilities, presumably, which tends to happen to me whenever I bring a new shiny to a game. She’s the crew box I’ll be picking up at Gencon, but that’s been the case since the Nythera event, frankly, and that didn’t have anything to do with the rules. I can’t be unbiased with Titania, is what I’m saying, but I think she’s great.

Check back next time for the remaining 4 masters. 

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Sometimes a Draw Can Feel Like a Win

I realized, after writing this post, that it was basically a cat poster. So, here you go.

                 I’ve played a couple of games recently where I’ve basically been fighting the deck the entire time. I’m not sure what I did to make the Malifaux Gods angry (but I’m totes sorry. For realz.) but the bottom line is that in the last two games I haven’t flipped a Red Joker that hasn’t been for something like initiative or casting Brillshaper on an Illuminated and have, in the meantime, cost myself as many as 6 VP in differential by Black Jokering a flip in a critical moment that I had previously set up for a win. One turn I drew a full hand of cards, plus two rush of magics, plus 3 cards from a Wings of Darkness soulstone…and ended up with one face card in my hand. It’s been a rough week, is what I’m saying. Also, I’ve not had that many games with Lillith in my time, but I had the impression that most games Tangled Shadows is a very effective ability of which many players are afraid. In my hands, however, my opponents seem to intuitively know which master I’m bringing and either Merc in Anna Lovelace to shut it down almost entirely or have Sidir nearby to jump in front of it and block me. These games have left me pretty salty, and I apologize to the opponents who’ve dealt with my grumpiness while playing me. It’s a character flaw that I fight against almost every game with mixed success. On turn 4 of the most recent game I was honestly contemplating just calling it quits. But…I plowed through, and both games ended…in draws! And in a way, I’m almost prouder of those draws than I would be of wins.
                One was against Rasputina in a game of Interference with Search the Ruins in the pool. This was another of those subterranean Vassal boards with small tunnels that just scream “Put a hungry land marker here and the opponent is screwed.” Weirder, it also had close deployment ensuring that we were going to be right on top of each other from the word go. In retrospect, I probably should have brought Nekima and tried to pounce on the opposing master, but A) I’m still determined to find out why everyone hates the Mysterious Emissary so much despite the fact that it’s played a role in the outcome of every game I’ve used it and B) I didn’t KNOW that my opponent was going to bring the one Arcanist master who is absolutely the worst for close deployment. So yeah, the crew purchasing phase was basically a shit show for both of us, and worse of all it became a slog in the middle with Anna and Hanna Lovelace putting up an 8” aura of “No Tangled Shadows here” over the opponent’s entire crew (if you’re struggling in your local meta with a Lillith crew, Anna’s a merc and she’s basically a hard counter that turns Lillith into a mediocre melee master who can summon trees). So, that’s great. Then I made it worse by trying to use Lillith to tie the Lovelace siblings up for a turn, which ended in Lillith getting turned into paste. For some reason, my hungry land markers think Lillith is super tasty, as my opponents have Red Jokered her twice in three games now, so that didn’t help, but all that armor and some less than fabulous flipping to attack meant I was sans master after turn 3. At this point I started to get a little desperate, and was basically assuming a loss, but I knew three things. 1) Lillith’s Illusionary Forest was placed in a way that meant Rasputina was going to be doing dick for the rest of the game 2) I had 2 Waldgeists hiding well away from the Lovelaces to go hide from them and score the strategy and 3) Mr. Graves was tagged as the chump for Frame for Murder, and he was ready and able to charge in and get beaten up by the aforementioned armored ladies to score me some points, which he promptly did. In other words, I evaluated the situation, made myself calm down, and found a way to score enough to stay in it. Hell, if not for the black jokered damage flip of my ME on the last turn, I may have even won by denying my opponent search the ruins (it has a tome trigger on its attack to blow up all scheme markers within 4” of the target.) So, the draw was earned, and I learned some hard lessons about not using Lillith like I would use Perdita.
                The next game was even worse, luck wise. My opponent was playing a Jacob Lynch Ten Thunders crew and taking the “Only bring one minion in Hunting Party” gambit. They can get away with this, though, when that one minion is a Ten Thunders Brother who are notoriously difficult to pin down, let alone kill. To counter, I had brought Nekima for this game and given her Retribution’s Eye to negate the awesome defensive triggers and give me an opportunity, when I was ready for it, to pounce and kill it. I jammed the center of the board up with more forests and Hungry Land, forcing the action around the perimeter of the board (again, how can a model that affects the game this much be bad? I really don’t understand.) Sidir had again managed to jam up most of my transposition antics with Lillith by bouncing in front of the target with Broken Promises turned on to block that as a tactic all together, but eventually I got the TTB pulled into melee. Nekima walked up, had two AP and a hand full of pretty good cards to finish him…and damage flip is a black joker followed by a second attack that misses. Curse words ensue. Then Nekima fails three defense flips against Lynch, dies, and brings Hungering Darkness back into my backfield. The TTB escaped, and then Sidir stepped in the way to protect it for the rest of the game from any more Tangling of Shadows. And, as I said, I was honestly considering packing it in at this point. But, I looked closely at the board and saw that A) I was set up well for scoring max on Search the Ruins B) No one was going to score much of anything from the strategy (Headhunter) and my opponent had kind of tipped his hand that he was playing Search the Ruins as well, while my Emissary was poised to blow up his scheme markers, and C) He had only scored partial points from Quick Murder. The door was open for me to at least make a respectable showing. My Doppleganger and Primordial Magic managed to complete Search the Ruins, despite Hungering Darkness’s compelling argument that the PM needed to feed itself to some Hungry Land on turn 5. Hell, I even had a chance to win the thing if I had thought to get an exposed Illuminated back behind cover to avoid getting finished off by the Ten Thunders Emmisary to score an easy head marker for the opponent.
This one, of course, is a bit dicey since my opponent was playing a crew that was not optimized for the encounter, but the point is simply this: Don’t give up in games. If you get frustrated as easily as I do, step away for a second and pull yourself back together. Get off of tilt, and get your head back in the game. It doesn’t matter how bad you’re getting stomped if you’re playing the scenario effectively. You can still get a good result in a game when you basically bet your butt handed to you in the combat portion if you can outrun the opponent’s schemes and strategy efforts. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Ripples of Fate Preview: Captain Zipp

Alright, folks, it’s time for the last Master Preview! The rest of these have all been exciting, cool themed masters that fill in some corners of the Malifaux universe or introduce some new ones. Time to see what the Gremlins br…wait…what?

Well, that’s certainly different.

Zipp is apparently a Sky Pirate (introducing yet another new tribe/trait.) This is interesting, as it’s been mentioned in previous fluff that Malifaux is criss-crossed by sky cars that transport its citizenry. Clearly, these gremlins have come up with a new and innovative way of raiding these conveyances. I don’t know what thematic elements inspired this character other than…I don’t know, the Rocketeer? Oh well. I’m not going to pretend all the Gremlin silliness appeals to me, and their choice to raise the ante here doesn’t do it for me at all. But, that doesn’t mean the character can’t be interesting mechanically.

So yeah, Zipp’s weird as a master. Again, we can’t see his attacks to know what he’s going to bring to the table offensively, but Df 6/ Wp 6 and 12 wounds is not going to hold up to a lot of punishment. Off-setting it, you’re only going to get one hit on Zipp most of the time, as his trigger for Df and Wp will likely push him out of range for any follow-ups after resolving. On the face of him, Zipp kind of seems like a scheme runner/scheme runner hunter, which is odd for a master. I’m not sure there’s any that comes close to his raw speed: with an 8 Wk and 3 AP he can pretty much get wherever he wants in a turn. Of course, he’s insignificant, so no dropping scheme markers, but that won’t stop him from hunting down opposing runners or scoring for things that don’t require significance. And, his pseudo-chatty bubble will make interacting for things like Detonate Explosives or the old school Deliver the Message pretty tough.

I sort of feel like Zipp, more than most of the others, will require seeing the back to know what he can really do. As it stands, he strikes me as being a denial master, but his lack of staying power sort of seems counter-intuitive to that. I think he’ll do best in strats like Interference where the opposing crew will be spread out and you can chase them down individually. So, I guess we’ll see.

Now, since we know all the masters, it’s time to let your voice be heard! Which master from Ripples of Fate are you most excited to play? Go vote here!

Monday, June 27, 2016

May Day Tournament at Comic Dimensions in Greensboro NC

I know this tournament report is very late but I have been going back and forth on how I wanted to address an issue that occurred.  After careful consideration I have decided I would report the game as is, note my opinion and offer a open invitation to my opponent to discuss the game if he feels it is warranted.

Something I should have been doing is reviewing the venue and thanking the TO's for organizing the events and herding us cats.  So shout out and thank you to Chris Bellamy (and other previous TO's) for an awesome event.  Everyone I met was friendly (even in the game where I believe there to be an issue, more on that later) and I would gladly play anyone I met again (or for the first time).  And the buy in was relatively cheap at $10.

Comic Dimensions in a quick and dirty summary appears to be as the name suggests a comic book store first.  It dabbles in hobby, and has a small selection of Malifaux on hand (I assume you can order through the store and someone will correct me if I am wrong).  They do have a dedicated game space with nice tables and office chairs, although they were designed with CCG's in mind.  So while a Malifaux mat will fit on the tables, it feels a little cramp but you can make it work.  The terrain appears to belong to the henchman and not the store (I may be wrong on this count) so showing up out of the blue to get a game in might not work but if you coordinate in the community Facebook group I'm sure they will get you sorted.  All in all I like the store and would frequent it if I lived closer.

So without further ado...

Game 1

Strategy: Interference
Deployment: Flank
Schemes: Convict Labor, Take Prisoner, Exhaust Their Forces, Neutralize the Leader, Mark for Death
Opponent: Patrick

Lynch w/ Woke up with a Hand, Rising Sun, Recalled Training
Huggy w/ Recalled Training
Lone Swordsman w/ Recalled Training
Yin w/ Smoke Grenades
2x Illuminated
10 Thunder Brother
Shadow Effigy

Vic of Ashes  upgrades
Vic of Blood upgrades
Student of Conflict
2x Trapper
2x Void Wretches

I didn't record the games as they were happening.  I don't think there was room for my clipboard if I were prepared to record the games.

So I think I won deployment and made him set up first.  He took the top corner and set his trappers up one in the deployment zone peeking out behind the walkway for cover and the other from the shadows up behind that hut on my right flank.  He set Vanessa, the Librarian, and a Wretch to support on my right flank and the slingshot to come up my left.  I set Huggy and an Illuminated to go up my right, 10 TB up the left, and everything else push the center and maybe respond as threats presented themselves.  Kinda wish I took snipers instead of the Illuminated just based on terrain.

Turn one and turn two was mostly maneuvering with pot shots from the Trappers. TB laying down 2 convicts, Illuminated placed the third. LSM was in charge range of the trapper in his deployment, and Blood came out of hiding to attack my Thunder Brother.  Turn 3 I win initiative activate Lynch pop RT, 0 action mulligan, double move to within range of Blood, land the shot with Red Joker in hand for the kill but Black Joker the damage on a straight flip.  And that's where it all went horribly wrong really... 2-9 loss.  Had I flipped Huggy and Yin like I should have done maybe it's not so lop-sided a loss or maybe I activate differently and this plays out way closer.

Game 2

Strategy: Extraction
Deployment: Standard
Schemes: Convict Labor, Exhaust Their Forces, Leave Your Mark, Catch and Release, Frame for Murder

Lynch w/ Woke up with a Hand, Rising Sun, Recalled Training
Huggy w/ Recalled Training
Lone Swordsman w/ Recalled Training
Yin w/ Smoke Grenades
2x Illuminated
10 Thunder Brother
Shadow Effigy

Somer w/ Family Tree, Can o' Beans
2x Skeeters
3x Bayou Gremlin
Pig a Pult
3x Stuffed Piglet
Slop Hauler
3x Roster Riders

I will start off by saying I was replaying these games in my head on the way home and only then did it occur to me that this list might be over SS.  So I contacted the TO to check protocol and such.  That discussion will remain between the TO and myself.

So I leave this open invitation to discuss this game with my opponent here.  If you are reading this and know who I was playing I politely ask you to not take sides but you may bring it to this persons attention and we can work it out between ourselves.  I lost this game by 1 point and it would have no effect on prizes won but it does effect my final standing.  This wasn't important at the time (and for the most part is still relatively unimportant) but data is now being collected for US player rankings.  It also potentially effected who I ultimately played in the final round.  So if we resolve this to our mutual agreement there may be a stand alone post for this round.  I believe the list had at least 53 points in it but that only currently stands as my opinion.  I am also ok with if this game is never resolved.  There is really nothing to gain at this point.  The lesson is you can trust your opponent and pray this doesn't happen to you or you can take 30 seconds and do some math before each game.  This is not meant to be a dig because I won't say this 100% happened with malicious intent.  If you reach out and I fail to reply contact the TO and have him nudge me.  I suck at social media.

Game 3

Strategy: Headhunter
Deployment: Standard (was meant to be corner but there was an error on the record sheet so we went with it)
Schemes: Convict Labor, Leave Your Mark, Hunting Party, Detonate the Charges, Set Up
Opponent: Brian

Lynch w/ Woke up with a Hand, Rising Sun, Recalled Training
Huggy w/ Recalled Training
Lone Swordsman w/ Recalled Training
Yin w/ Smoke Grenades
2x Illuminated
10 Thunder Brother
Shadow Effigy

Pandora w/ upgrades
Insidious Madness

This game was quick and bloody.  I sent the 10TB to do schemes and he was unmolested and got me 6 for convict/leave mark.  I'm not certain if this is the models he owns or if there is some obvious synergy I am not seeing outside of lure into Teddy and Lelu.  I guess I can see banking on impossible to wound and all the built in healing but all I had to do was activate Lynch top of turn 2 and put brilliance on Teddy and now I have 3 models hitting for min damage 4.  Killed Lelu and Teddy turn 2 and tied up the rest of his models so I could score schemes.  I know he took Hunting Party and got a couple points on my Illuminated.  I think the game ended 9-2 (or3).

All in all I had fun, met new people, and hope to play in more NC tournaments in the future.  Next up Origins!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Ripples of Fate Preview: Nellie Cochrane

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! It’s a new Monday Preview from Wyrd!

                Named for groundbreaking female journalist Nellie Bly (real name Elizabeth Cochran Seaman,) this new addition to the Guild has quite a legacy to uphold. For whatever reason, the face looks odd to me, but the render of the sculpt has a lot more of that Newsy “Golly-gosh-gee-whillickers” look that is so out of place in Malifaux and especially in the Guild, of all things. Wait, a Guild master that doesn’t just explode everything in sight or stab it with a ridonculous sword? Who’d have thought? I’m excited for this new theme for the faction where I initially started my journey through the Breach.

                Well, so that’s a tough master, right there. Df and Wp 6, 11 wounds, and Revisionist History to make it so that A) your opponent never gets to cheat a damage flip against her and B) you always get to cheat their damage flip regardless of any negative twists they may have. Wow! Now this is a crew that will be happy to draw their black joker into their hand! She has a Wk of 5 and no charge, so not going to set any speed records, but Nellie seems to want to be playing a support master anyways. She seems to revolve around a new condition unique to her, Evidence, that drops off of her at the end of the turn, resulting in her dropping a scheme marker. Strangely, evidence is a stacking condition (since it reads as Evidence +1) but the condition says nothing about reducing it by 1. So, that seems to suggest that you have more things for which you can use it during your turn, including using it to push models away which fail attack flips within 8” of her. Interesting.

                As a Guild master, she’s definitely something new in that she appears to interact with or generate scheme markers and acts through support rather than direct attacks (I’m aware Lucius exists, but, come on now.) I think Nellie’s pretty cool, and I want to see what she can really do. This is definitely one of the masters that’s tougher to gauge based on the front of her card. The blurb in the Monday preview suggests that she uses propaganda against her enemies and incites (note lack of capitalization, sad face) them to mess up in public, manipulates schemes, and even does something with the way the Guild hires mercenaries. Weird! I want more info! But that’s not what we’re going to get, next week we get to see what the Gremlins are getting. See you then! 

Friday, June 17, 2016

Ripples of Fate Preview: Paker Barrows

I’m gonna be honest with you: I thought I had written this already. I remember doing the research, hunting down the links and what-not. I guess I just didn’t write the damned thing. Anyways, let’s take a look at this week’s preview: Parker Barrows.
With a name that alludes to some historical bandits (who would have been children in the current time-frame of Malifaux, so probably not a direct link,) Parker is an Outcast master who seems to reverse the trend of the faction to get progressively weirder and weirder over time. He appears to be a living human being, not someone possessed by a tyrant, a spirit of vengeance, or an old necromancer who is progressively dying and resurrecting repeatedly every, just a Bandit (his new trait, as has been the trend in Ripples of Fate.) In a way I’m a little bummed by this, as I don’t play Outcasts but really like the Wild West tropes of Malifaux, so Parker is sort of tempting in that regard.

Also, the sculpt render looks badass.

One presumes he’ll be a ranged master, as he is dual-wielding pistols in his art. 14 wounds is a pretty hefty chunk, but Defense and Willpower 6 and no other defensive abilities (that we know of, anyway) means Parker will probably not want to get up close and personal very often (gee, where will Outcasts come up with some melee threats to throw in with him?) He draws cards when he or another bandit kills people within 6” of him (you cycle a card if it’s not a bandit that does the killing.) Cache of 4 is a welcome change for Outcast masters, I’m sure, and he can generate more Soulstones in response to his discarding Upgrades he attached to himself. Oathkeeper? Sure, why not make that better. And, one could guess this means he’ll be cycling upgrades in a McCabe or Ophelia-ish way during the game itself to make more use of this. I think the most interesting part of the front of his card is A Fistful of Scrip (awesome ability name) which lets him discard up to 4 cards and replace enemy scheme markers with friendly ones around 4” of him. That is neat. Good luck getting Convict Labor or Detonate the Charges when Parker is around, and it fills in what can be a weakness for the Outcast faction in scheme marker focused games.

I dig the idea of a crew of bandits that steal your stuff during the game. I’ll probably not end up playing Parker much, but that’s more a result of my not having Outcasts than anything else. It also continues a trend of “Here’s something different” that we’ve seen with all the masters so far. Let’s look forward to seeing where this goes in the future for the Guild and Gremlins. 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Bad Blood

Pictured: What we're talking about today, more or less.

Episode 69 of Before We Begin featured a Malifaux Addict named Michael who was presenting two lists for the Neverborn faction, one of which approached crew building in a way I hadn’t really seen before. The list he put forward looked like this:

Lilith -- 4ss
 +Beckon Malifaux - 1ss
 +Summon The Blood - 1ss
Primordial Magic - 2ss
Black Blood Shaman - 7ss
Doppleganger - 7ss
 +Retribution's Eye - 1ss
Lelu - 7ss
Lilitu - 7ss
 +The Mimic's Blessing - 1ss
Mr. Graves - 8ss
 +The Mimic's Blessing - 1ss
Silurid - 7ss

Briefly, the central idea behind the crew was to exploit the Black Blood ability to punish melee oriented crews and spread AoE damage. The Black Blood Shaman could supposedly give the Black Blood condition to both of the twins with one swing of his ritual knife, effectively giving them Black Blood +2. Of course, the next episode they pointed out a specific call-out in the rulebook that neutralized this combo (if a condition and an ability grant the same thing, they count as having 1 version of the ability, not two.Stupid rules, spoiling all of our fun...) Still, it got me thinking about Black Blood and its role in Malifaux.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I like to minimize as many of the random elements from my crews as I can, so there’s some appeal to the fact that Black Blood just does what it does (splash everything within an inch of the model with 1 damage every time the BB model is damaged). In the past, however, I’ve sort of overlooked it as a damage source, treating it more like icing on the cake than something to build around. I considered it a bonus rather than something built into the soulstone cost of the models. The game designers might think the same way, however, as a lot of models that have Black Blood are pretty good in and of themselves. Graves is a very solid beater that also brings some good movement tricks to a crew. Lilitu has some very strong abilities, particularly Lure and her large melee range, that make her worth including in many crews regardless of their content. Young Nephilim are one of the best models for their point value you can buy. And, of course, there’s always Nekima. I think most of us know what she can do when she puts her mind to it, and she even has abilities to intentionally trigger her Black Blood to deal damage over a wide area (50mm bases are big, y’all.) Plus, I remembered how devastating an encounter with Nephilim was in the third chapter of Nythera in Through the Breach. This was one of the only combats in the whole Penny Dreadful that put the players in honest danger of death when I ran it, and it was mainly due to the Nephilim splashing that acid blood all over the place. Of course, the difference between TTB characters and Malifaux characters is that the former does a lot less damage per attack typically, which plays right into Black Blood, but it still made an impression.

So I decided to give this a try. It happened that roving reporter Jon was in town a couple of weeks ago before heading to a tournament, so we set up my Mats by Mars and Terraclips terrain and threw down.

As a side note, this is the blog post where I come out of the closet as an anthropomorphic cat. Meow.

I ran essentially the same crew as above, with the substitution of a Young Nephilim for the Silurid (I didn’t have a scheme where the frog-man would come in handy.) Jon likes combo-y lists and was trying out a TT McCabe where he turned an Austringer’s bird into a ranged napalm strike with a combination of buffs, so I didn’t get a ton of chances to splash them with the Blood. But, a situation did present itself where I swapped Mr. Graves in front of a Guard the Stash marker, facing off with three Guild Hounds who were trying to score it, where I saw the potential in action. Jon looked at one point and said “I could try and hit you, but I’d probably end up doing as much damage to myself as I would to you.” The big bald man put his fence post to work, cleared the dogs off of the post (no marking your territory! Bad doggies!) and that set the stage for the Neverborn to win the game.

I was intrigued and decided to keep things going. A Wyrd Place runs a Vassal League through Facebook, so I signed up for that and entered as Neverborn. I decided to swap the twins out for Nekima and learned another lesson in the first game, namely that Black Blood doesn’t do you any good when your opponent doesn’t have to close with you. I was playing against Wong, I momentarily forgot that this isn’t M1E and an opponent can see all the way through terrain as long as they place a toe inside of it, and I proceeded to get my crew blasted off the board in large part by misplacing Illusionary Forests on turn 1. So, lesson 2 learned: if you’re going to utilize BB, you have to draw the opponent into you or put them in a situation where they have no choice but to walk into it. Screen your crew by putting the terrain in front of you and then making them come close, rather than trying to slow them down with it at range. Lure, Show Ya The Door, and Tangled Shadows are one way of doing this, but it’s better when you can set your opponent up so they have to do the work for you.

And that brought me to Game 2 of the Wyrd Place League. It was Extraction and it was going to be played on this map:

Seeing the restricted access the top of the map had to get to the Extraction Marker, and knowing that my opponent was not playing Resurrectionists (meaning they would likely have limited access to Incorporeal) I decided to take what I had learned from Black Blood and combine it with the terrain control crew I had written about previously. So, I fielded this:

Lillith-Beckon Malifaux, 5ss
Mysterious Emissary-Conflux of Blood
Doppelganger-Mimic’s Blessing
Mr. Graves
Primordial Magic

I won the deployment flip and took the bottom of the map, as planned, and completely jammed the opposing crew up in the top-middle doorway with two hungry land markers for the entirety of the game. Lillith’s long range for summoning Illusionary Forest made it less necessary to have the Waldgeists for controlling the side doors (Hungering Darkness came through the left, making the trees useless there, but Yin tried to run around the right side later in the game, and I managed to flip the trees across the board to block it without having to get out of position. Again, the Black Blood wasn’t a deciding factor in the game, but it helped a couple of times. Nekima splashed it on Hungering Darkness to soften it up, and at certain points I set up situations where the Hungry Land markers could trigger black blood and splash it onto opponents (which is great, until Lillith does it and the opponent flips the Red Joker. Hurray randomness!) It helped that my opponent had built to counter Pandora rather than Lillith and hadn’t foreseen the terrain jamming as a tactic, but I have to think that would be a rather common occurrence in this situation. Pandora was my first thought when I saw the board as well, as her 6” death bubble shtick would be pretty effective in the Turf War-esque strategies (we were playing Extraction.) Plus, I'm well aware that most boards aren't as closed off as this Vassal map, but still, I feel like there's potential here. 

So, conclusions from what I’ve seen so far. Black Blood can be crippling for an opponent’s crew, but only in very particular situations. High minimum damage crews avoid it by not having to trigger it frequently. Ranged crews get around it by…being ranged. And high wound models might not even notice it’s happening. So, it's most effective against models like scheme runners who have a low pool of wounds to begin with and have to come to you, and can be pretty useful as a kind of poor-man’s blast damage. Everyone who has softened up a 9 DF Perdita by blasting into her from the friendly model standing near her knows how effective that can be. Also, it's most effective when the opponent has to come into close contact with you. Engineering the battlefield can help create these situations, so I think there are some real possibilities to be found in combining the Black Blood and summoning Hungry Land, Illusionary Forests, and/or Waldgeist Trees. And, as a side lesson, perhaps the Mysterious Emmisary’s sub-optimal reputation is a bit exaggerated, or is one of those things that looks to be true in Theory-faux but doesn’t prove to be true on the board. Admittedly, this is one game, but considering that it basically won me that game single-handedly, I think the model at least has potential in some specific scenarios.Part of the negative reaction, I think, is that Neverborn are typically all about moving rather than playing standing defense, so the ME is a very different tool in their arsenal. I'm curious to try it on A) more open maps and B) strategies where the opponent doesn't have to come to a central point to see if it can be effective there as well. More testing is required.

Soooo…looks like I need to start building some 50mm markers with trees on them. I’m looking at you Hanging Tree boxed set. Talk to you next time!