Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Through the Breach 2nd Edition

Last week’s Monday preview announced the coming of a new edition of the Through the Breach game. It may seem a little surprising, given that it’s only been about 3 years since the game initially came out after kickstarter, but I think most people knew the game wasn’t perfect in its initial iteration, so the initial reaction has seemed to be relatively positive. This is assisted by the fact that Mason and the Wyrd crew have worked hard to ensure that the game is reverse compatible with all of the supplementary materials and adventures published for TTB so far, a consideration that I honestly can’t recall another example of in the gaming industry.
Probably the most immediately notable change is the combination of the Fated Almanac and Fatemaster’s Guide into one book (another concession by Wyrd to reduce the financial burden of releasing a new edition. This all comes together in a 416 page beast of a book that has all the material a group needs to play the game. Along with this, the new Through the Breach Core Rules includes an expanded bestiary, filling up almost a quarter of the book and introducing enemies and signature Fatemaster Characters from each of the factions. These gribblies will get new tricks to throw at Fated in the new edition as well, with the inclusion of Fate Points. They give Enforcer level characters the ability to gain bonuses to flips, take additional actions, or heal damage. I think this helps them deal with the disparity Fatemaster Characters have versus Fated as a result of the latter being able to use twist cards to cheat fate. Cool. Additionally, the back of the book will contain an introductory adventure, which I’ve personally found to be very useful for players who are unfamiliar with the system or story of a new RPG.
One of the design goals for this relaunch of the game includes refocusing pursuits and bringing them in line with what has since been published in the faction books like Under Quarantine and Into the Bayou. They mentioned the Pioneer as one pursuit which has been retooled, as its original form was a bit scattered and…well…useless. Now it focuses on taking advantage of terrain, giving you a specific type of game session when one would want to take it on. Additionally, each pursuit now has a Rank 0 talent (like those from the splat books,) which help to reward players for switching Pursuits in response to the prologue.
Additionally, for fluff junkies like me, this book has it in spades. With over 60 pages detailing the world of Malifaux and its history, this book promises to be a treasure trove. I know one of the things I was really looking forward to in the initial version of the books was learning some new information about what was going on Earthside, what the Neverborn were doing before we arrived in Malifaux, and an explanation of some of the long-standing mysteries of the game’s background. Sadly, much of this information was lacking the first time around. These new versions promise to at least touch on this and even more, including recent events bridging the stories of Malifaux and The Other Side like the Governor-General’s recent mishap and transformation into the Burning Man. It even mentions discussing what happened on the night the first Breach closed, which has always been a mystery. So, yeah, you could say I’m pretty excited about this part of the book, and Through the Breach 2nd Edition in general.


Mmm, gator snacks.

Speaking of Through the Breach, there’s a new one-shot adventure up on Drive thru RPG. This particular story focuses on a quintet of Pregenerated characters working for their boss, one Chubbs Lacroix, who had his hand and favorite gun bitten off by a gator in the swamp. He hires the Fated to go hunt the beast down, leading to the usual array of mishaps incurred by anyone spending an extended period travelling through the Bayou. The story features run ins with a menagerie of swamp beasties and may even end in a meeting with the Swamp Hag herself. Check it out for $5.
Additionally, the Monday preview mentioned a worldwide campaign for Through the Breach coming soon. We don't really know much about it other than the title, A Stitch in Time, but given how cool Nythera was I'm sure we're in for some good stuff. 


Come back later this week for a tournament report featuring my mishaps with McCabe in North Carolina. 

Friday, January 20, 2017

4.5 Tips to Prepare for a Malifaux Tournament


Not a lot of news briefs this week, but The Other Side kickstarter has just a few hours left. If you want to get in on the game from the groundfloor, this is your last chance. The deal has never been better!

Tournament Preparation

With the arrival of the Gaining Grounds 2017 document, and the fact that I'm currently preparing for a tournament coming up next week, I thought it would be a good idea to talk about some ideas for how to prepare oneself for a tournament, particularly if you haven't been to one previously.

1) Figure out what you're playing! - This probably goes without saying, but before you head to a tournament, make sure that you know what you're going to play! This can take a lot of forms, of course. Obviously, you'll want to know what kind of tournament you're entering and which models you'll need to bring along. The standard Gaining Grounds tournament is fixed faction, meaning you name your faction at the beginning of the tournament and that is what you play every round. You are, however, allowed to build a new crew every round after seeing the strategy and scheme pools you'll be facing, as well as knowing your opponents' faction. Other tournaments may be fixed list (same crew every round), fixed master, more or less soulstones, hiring pool, or other more bizarre formats. Now, if you have a favorite faction or one crew you've been playing regularly, this can be pretty easy. If, like me, you suffer from chronic magpie syndrome, sometimes this choice can be a bit tougher. For the upcoming event, I literally asked my wife to name the first suit that came into her head from a deck of cards. She named hearts, so I'm playing Guild (because everybody loves the Guild.)

1b) Pack the models you'll need- Your choice of faction may, in fact, be a choice of master or crew that happens to be holding your interest right now or with whom you think you have a level of familiarity that can lead to success. If so, you can probably put together a small list of models, pack a small bag, and you're good to go. However, the advantage to the fixed faction format is flexibility. Depending on what you may be facing each round, you may be best off building your whole crew, master and all, each round of the tourney. I think it's at least worth your time to include models that are good for killing, good for surviving, and good for moving to go score objectives. If you have that ready, you can probably build a decent crew that can handle most situations the game can throw at you.

2) Know your models- Time limits during tournament games of Malifaux can creep up on you. When one is just learning to play or just having a fun, casual game with friends, its not unusual for games to take 2 1/2 to 3 hours or longer. You don't have that much time in a tournament. The GG2017 document stipulates two hour rounds. It is not uncommon, therefore, for many tournament games to not progress past turn 4 or even turn 3. A good way to help keep this from happening is to make sure you are as familiar as possible with the models you'll be using. If you have to look down at your stat cards every time you activate one of your abilities, that's time you lose. If, on the other hand, you know your models well enough that you remember that, say, Mccabe's Take This! requires a 4 and has a range of 10 and pushes the target 4", you don't need to check it and can just do what you need to do when you need to do it. You don't need an eidetic memory or need to sit and study like you're cramming for a final, though. I've yet to play anyone who could run their whole crew off the top of their head. Just make sure you're as familiar as possible. If nothing else, you'll have a much better idea of what your crew is capable of doing in real situations on the table (as opposed to in your head, where many of us unfortunately end up making our value judgements on the quality of models.)

3) Look up the strategies- Gaining Grounds documents list which strategies you're going to play every round of the tournaments, with a rotation that changes as the months move along. Right now, the strategies are Headhunter, Squatter's Rights, and Stake a Claim. When you know what's coming, you can start planning ahead of time what crews you're going to use every round. Conversely, if you have a fixed list that you're locked in to every round, you limit your ability to adapt to the scenario and can put yourself  at a disadvantage every round. Now, it's not foolproof, because the scheme pools are generated at the individual events (wouldn't want people to be TOO prepared, after all) so you need to be flexible. My Stake a Claim and/or Squatter's Rights Mccabe crews use dogs (as many do) as scheme runners to score the strategy. If, however, I see Hunting Party in the scheme pool for these rounds, then I might want to think about using something else to get the job done, as this would put easily killable models out for the enemy to use to score.

4) Think of pitfalls- While the stated design goals for M2E were to have every master capable of completing every strategy, there are situations where one master is going to struggle more than others. It is useful to sit down and think about what these pitfalls are for the masters/crews you're thinking of using and come up with contingency plans to counter them. One of these for McCabe is the Neutralize the Leadership scheme. It only comes up on a number flip, so I may not see it at all in the tournament. If I do, however, running McCabe essentially grants a free 1 point to my opponent, as I'm going to be reduced to half wounds at least once during the game due to McCabe's "split into two piles" wounds rules. If I see this scheme, then, I might think about running one of my other Guild crews to block those points (and potentially score them myself, of course.) Perdita and Sonnia tend to like standing back out of the fray and blasting things to pieces, so they're strong contenders to think about using in this situation.

5) Make some sample lists- There are two benefits to writing up a few sample crews before the tournament starts. First, you can save yourself a bit of time during your games if one of your sample crews fits the strat/board/scheme pool combination you're facing. The other benefit is physically sitting down and getting an idea of what you can cram into a 50SS limit. Fancy the Peacekeeper but want to use the Pale Rider to swing the glowing saber as well? You'll need to have an idea beforehand of just how much you can still fit after you chew up 20+ stones with two models, and maybe come up with something else that can do similar jobs for cheaper. For instance, if you like the Peacekeeper for his harpoon gun primarily, maybe look at a Hunter instead (which work great with McCabe anyways, since they're minions that he can Black Flash.) If it's durability you're after, Guardians (another minion, and one that got a bump in the most recent Gaining Grounds document) may be an effective substitute. Flip some points around and see what you can really do with your crews. Some things may occur to you that you hadn't previously considered.

These bits of advice aren't going to guarantee you a top 3 finish every tournament, of course, but if you keep some of these ideas in mind, you may set yourself up to do well and have a good time, as nobody likes feeling unprepared and/or getting stomped because they weren't sufficiently prepared.

Do you have any tournament preparation tips? If so, I'd love for people to comment with them below.

Monday, January 9, 2017

January 2017 Errata, Fire in the Sky, and The Other Side

News Briefs:

1)   Wyrd’s Monday preview from last week introduced an upcoming Penny Dreadful for the Through the Breach RPG titled “Fire in the Sky.” This is the first story for the role-playing game to be set earthside. The Fated journey to San Francisco, where a strange light has appeared in the skies. From the cover, you can see that this light is man-shaped, and the description mentions the Other Side, so it suggests that the Burning Man (and perhaps some members of his cult?) may be involved. As someone who may know things about things, the Ongoing Challenge from chapter 2 of this book is one you won't want to miss! 

2)   The Other Side’s kickstarter campaign has 11days left. They’ve exceeded a quarter of a million dollars at this point, and have revealed some special models/units as the campaign has progressed. Adjunct models are special figures that can be plugged into a normal fireteam to add in some special abilities, but can be removed like a normal model or picked off by enemies with accurate fire. Additionally, the creators have introduced the idea of Ally rules, allowing for the addition of some more diversity to your army. One type of ally you can hire are Syndicates, groups of unaligned forces which have restrictions on which armies can purchase them. For instance, the Court of Two syndicate is a Malifaux syndicate, and so can only be hired my Malifaux allegiances (one assumes Gibbering Hordes and/or the Burning Man.) One of the syndicates is the Guild (hurray!), who have taken a step back from running things earthside and are offering their troops to the highest bidder. The other, the Court of Two, is led by Neverborn and their ilk. The Court of Two model previewed in the update is Binh Nguyen, a spirit trained by Kirai Ankoku who has helped raise an army of ghosts to hire out. Cool stuff. Plus there are a large number of add-ons unlocked at this point, so if you have the money, backing the Kickstarter is likely going to be a pretty good deal.


Over at Leodis games, the 20% discount on preorders continues! Added to it this month: the Amo No Zako boxed set, Death Marshall Recruiters, Will o’ the Wisps, and Akaname, among others. If you’re a UK reader, go check them out!


            The January 2017 Errata document served as an introduction for several things besides just alterations to models. This was the first modification to the game headed by new Malifaux lead designer, Aaron Darland, and it introduced the way these are going to be handled going forward. Specifically, there are now plans for there to be 2 errata documents released during the year, one in January and one in midsummer. Major changes are going to be released in the January update, while the one later is meant to include small changes, many of which come up in response to things from the first errata. The FAQ documents will still be done bimonthly as before, but this allows them to make more drastic corrections without needing to do the 0 ss upgrade cards as has been done in the past.
             Many folks, of course, have some thoughts and feelings about this. The response has actually seemed pretty tame compared to what I expected, but there is a bit of (possibly understandable) salt from some people due to alterations to their favorite models and/or having to reorder cards for models you already own. The print-on-demand service from Wargame vault helps offset some of this pain, at least, but I think even the game design team would prefer not to have to do it this way if possible. This is an advantage digital games like Hearthstone have, where they can make changes on the fly without leaving people with a large number of out-of-date cards. Still, I think this is the best of some bad choices.
            As for the individual changes, they range from severe overhauls to very fine alterations. To run through some of them (and my thoughts: )

Ironsides-Added a tome to her defense, allowing her to trigger “Good shot, my turn” every time she gets hit in melee. Ironsides players love this change, and it means you had better just not fight her in melee, period.

Colette-You can still prompt 3x in a turn, but you can only prompt the same model once. So, no more running in Howard and then having her prompt him to swing over and over. I think even most Colette players are ok with this, as the card does a lot of cool stuff outside of this ability, but many players literally never have her do anything else.

Tara Crew-Many of the changes to Tara and her ilk were to clear up her bizarre hiring rules. She now has Infiltration: Void, which works like many of the 10 Thunders masters to allow her to hire anything with that trait from outside her faction. Correspondingly, Death Marshals, the Scion of the Void, Void Wretches, and the Nothing Beast all gained this trait. Since this made part of the Dead of Winter upgrade redundant, she gained a new ability on there. And, probably the nicest buff for Tara’s crew, the Nothing Beast is now a henchman, with the increased upgrade slots and soulstone use that goes with it.

Brewmaster-Drinking contest was rewritten for clarity. Still works the same way.

Black Blood Shaman-They removed the weird “Black Blood Condition” versus “Black Blood Ability” stuff the model previously had and just made it the ability. This has some effects on the game mechanically but mostly just clarifies weirdness.

Francisco and Papa-Their respective buff abilities now go away when they leave play or activate. This is specifically targeted at the “Papa in a box” type Sonnia builds which, if I’m being honest, always felt a little exploitive. Don’t have a problem with this change.

Guild Austringers-Lost a bit of their sting by taking away the enhanced range while focusing. You’ll now have to get them a bit closer to the action (while still leaving them completely hidden from sight, but it’s something to keep in mind.) This one stings a bit, but may have been necessary from a balance perspective.

Lenny-No longer gives +Rams to masters. This is a big change, and hurts Ophelia, Som’er, and to a lesser extent Ma Tucket crews (as was pointed out on the Malifools, Lenny had a hard time keeping up with Ma.) Probably necessary, but I can see how Gremlins players might be stinging. On the other hand, your Francois can still just explode anything it meets up with.

Rooster Riders-Can no longer Reckless. These guys were, from what I’ve heard, one of the few legitimate NPEs in Malifaux, so softening them up was a good change.

Rotten Belles-Lure's Ca and their wounds reduced to 7. Outrageous! How could they…ok Cast 8 was probably necessary. The reduced wounds actually doesn’t do all that much to reduce their toughness, since people hitting them will probably do weak damage and, if you do the math, this doesn’t change the number of times a Wk 2 or 3 model has to hit them to kill them.

Daydreams: Lucid Dreaming rewritten to only apply to one cast. Basically an effort to curtail summoning Dreamer, who has also inspired some salt from opponents in major tournaments.

Guardian- Reduced to 7 cost and gained a point of weak damage on the sword. Maybe can give Franc a run for his money in the “Auto-include protection model” slot? They’re still not fast so you’ll have to give them a nudge to get up the board with quick crews, but I've dusted mine off.

Lucius-  I’ll just copy-paste Aaron’s description: “The Austringers sent Lucius a fruit basket with a nice card, and now he doesn't hate them as much. Gained +Mask to Defense (Re: Surprisingly Loyal upgrade). Devil's Deal reduced to 2 damage. Elite Training works on Melee attack and Horror flips of Minions, Mimics, and Guardsmen. Commanding Presence works on all friendly models, range reduced to 12”, TN dropped. Governor's Authority lasts until this model's next Activation. Guild Intelligence made a (0), lost its TN, and now works with all friendly models. TN of Issue Command lowered, Triggers changed around. “ Basically, all his stuff that was interesting but not quite that good got a little nudge. Hopefully this brings him out of the “This is the worst master in the game” slot, at least. The scribe also got a nice little boost, becoming a minion and gaining some nice new actions.

Misaki- Deadly Dance changed to a 0 action, making the defensive Misaki build much more viable. Downburst was reworded and given a trigger to allow you to make some attacks after landing.

Montresor-Choking Death now triggers when model activates. Gained a couple of wounds and a point of damage. Wyrd really wants this model to work, as this is only the most recent in a string of buffs. Will this do the job? Who knows, I don’t play outcasts.

Union Miners-Gained a couple of buffs to their attacks and a common-sense rewording to their false claims ability (now you don’t have to discard a scheme marker if one has already been removed from play.) These guys always seemed like they should be decent to me, and yet you never see them. Hopefully this will change that.

As stated above, all the new versions of these cards are available on Wyrd’s site to print off (and these print-offs are tournament legal, per Gaining Grounds 2017.) If you need a real card, you can use Wargame Vaults' print on demand service. How do you feel about the changes? Was your favorite model nerfed? Are you excited to get something on the table that got a buff? Still wondering how Malifaux Raptors+Practiced Production somehow escaped the cuddle bat (like a certain Malifaux Musings author)? Let me know in the comments below. Otherwise, see you next week!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

News Briefs and Treacherous Allies Team Tournament Report

We’ll have a few quick news bits, then dive into a tournament report from Raliegh, NC on 12/17/16, the first team tournament featuring your two esteemed bloggers working as a team!

-First, a couple of weeks ago Aaron Daarland released a plan to alter the rate at which Malifaux Errata would be released in the future, and brought out the January 2017 Errata. These changes included changes that players have been asking for (in some cases) for a while now. Austringers getting their ranges reduced I assume most players are ok with seeing, as well as Rotten Belles having their cast brought down into only very good ranges rather than ridiculous. Daydreams got a little softening as well. Some other models got buffed. Go check out the file. I’m not a great crunch guy, but I might go through and write up a more in-depth breakdown later.

-Shortly thereafter the new Gaining Grounds 2017 document dropped. Schemes were shuffled some rules changed. I’ll probably save an in-depth breakdown for its own post, but you can go check it out here.


And now, on to the tournament report!
A few weeks prior, Jon had asked me if I wanted to team up with him for the Treacherous Allies tournament at Atomic Empire games store in Durham, NC. This was part of the program organized by the Southeastern Malifaux Players Group of some renown, which is led by the lovely and, of course, sassy Sasslady herself, Dawn McCormack Plunge.

Photographic Proof

If you’re in the area and can go check it out, Atomic Empire is worth the trip. I’m a bit of a bumpkin, but its easily the biggest game store I’ve ever visited. They have snacks. They have a bar. They have more games than you’ve ever seen. Go check it out.
The format for Treacherous Allies was, as I understand it, fairly standard for doubles tournaments. Each player on a team builds a crew with a master and 35SS each round from the same faction. Your models are considered friendly to each other. It’s not balanced and it’s not meant to be. Weird stuff happens in these types of games (more on this later.) You pick who is going first and second in your team every round and alternate activations. So, if one team has players A and B and the other has players 1 and 2, you could go A,1,B,2 in one round and could switch it up to B,2,A,1 in the next. So, basically you have a 70SS crew with two masters and two brains trying to pilot it. What could go wrong!?!
We decided to go with Ten Thunders as they are Jon’s jam and I know Lynch fairly well. Our team was team “Let Me Know When You’re Finished Ten Thundering,” after a sentiment expressed by one of Jon’s opponents after much bewildering tossing of upgrades and various Asian themed nonsense. Dawn was of course thrilled to have to read it out every round. The general themes that came into our games every round revolved around our two halves complimenting each other rather than directly synergizing. Basically, McCabe was there to make something like the Dawn Serpent have reactivate with a super cool sword and the Terracotta Warrior buffing it to protect it from damage. Meanwhile, Lynch would be doing Lynch things, and Promises was there to make Hungering Darkness and any other Enforcers with upgrades we brought in work even better. And Jon's side would have Sensei Yu so he could use Lynch's Mulligan, giving both crews the ability to use it.

Rd. 1 Interference/Flank Deployment/Search the Ruins, Leave your Mark, Exhaust their Forces, Detonate the Charges, and Convict Labor.

Battle in the Bayou: Moments after a very ill-fated charge action.

This round we played against two men named Jon playing Team Spidercide (Arcanists) We were building to exploit the Strangemetal Shirt and the toughness of Illuminated and Depleted, tossing the shirt on one of them to pass out Armor +2 to everyone around them with the Black Flash reactivate from McCabe. Seemed like a pretty good game plan at the time. Our opponents were bringing Ironsides with a cadre of the Oxfordian Mages and an Ice Dancer and Ramos with Joss, Howard, and…some Howard things? I don’t remember. We took Search the Ruins for a bit of counter-play and Detonate the Charges because why not. It’s Detonate the Charges.
When I say we HAD a battle plan, what I mean is we had one for the first round of the game or so. We had also planned on tossing the Torekage the sword from McCabe so he could use it with his “Works Best Alone” + flip to dish out some hurt, before giving the designated Illuminated the Armor and Reactivate. The Illuminated did his bit, put out his bubble of armor, and the pack moved up. Ironsides, Joss with all the Oxfordian Mage buffs, and the mages themselves mean-mugged our pack of drug-addled freaks over a hill. Meanwhile, the Ice Dancer and the Torekage faced off on the side of the board.  I have to imagine that looked like a Crouching Tiger style dance-fight. Would make a cool fan film.
Where it all went wrong was when we won initiative round 2 and sent our Illuminated charging over the hill to try and get a cheap kill on Ironsides. We hurt her badly, but underestimated the damage Joss was going to do back to us, as well as the fact that one of the buffs from the Mages made him immune to Brilliance so Lynch couldn't just run up and delete him. We threw everything we had at the Arcanist firebase, but our forces withered under Joss's electrical axes and a storm of Furious Casting. Meanwhile, the Ice Dancer and Torekage mutually dropped detonate the charges markers on each other. Huggy engaged Howard and killed him before he could do too much damage, but Ramos then flooded Huggy with Spiders, effectively neutralizing him for the remaining turns (and allowing them to score for Exhaust their Forces. Whoops.) McCabe moved to stop the Joss-gernaught that was coming for us (or at least hold him at bay) but we realized we were in trouble going into turn 3, which the clock told us would be the last turn.
So, time to start being the dirty criminals our faction is. We gave up on whittling Joss down (we almost got him, but were 1 AP short and he reactivated and healed,) and instead focused on objectives. The Torekage dashed into the middle along with Lynch to throw down some quick scheme markers and to delete the now assembled Spider Swarm, which I knew could erase our scheme markers pretty readily. McCabe held on valiantly but was ultimately killed. On the last activation of the game, Sensei Yu dashed into the middle to throw down another scheme marker and complete Search the Ruins. Thankfully, our opponents didn’t figure out what we were doing to stop us and so, on the last activation of the game, we got ahead by 1 VP and stole it. This would become a theme as the day went on.

Round 2: Collect the Bounty/Standard/Occupy Their Turf, Leave Your Mark, Frame for Murder, Hunting Party, and Convict Labor

Which Huggy is the real one? Hint: not the one whose crew also contained a Doppelganger and 2 Changelings.

Our opponents were the Autumn Nightmares, a Neverborn crew played by Sam and Kevin. Our game plan was to use Beckoners to draw the enemy across the board to us, where Hungering Darkness, Lynch, and an over-clocked Dawn Serpent could score from safety. The board was not super-cooperative in this endeavor, as we had a pretty wide open graveyard board, but there was a fence and gate on the very back edge of our deployment zone we hid behind to form our base. The enemy was using Neverborn flavored Lynch with some Illuminateds and Changelings paired with Lillith, McTavish, a Doppleganger, and some Waldgeists. I brought Lynch, HD, Mr. Graves for some more movement shenanigans, a Depleted, and 2 beckoners. Jon had McCabe, the Dawn Serpent, Yu, Terracotta Warrior, and a low river monk. Our schemes were Frame for Murder on the Depleted and Hunting Party. So, basically, we had a drug war on our hands.
The enemy didn’t have a ton of ranged outside of McTavish, so we knew we had a good chance of making the plan work. A Waldgeist ended up in our DZ early between lures and Neverborn tricks and gave us a first opportunity to score a hunting party point, but McCabe hit it too hard and killed it himself. Ultimately, the game boiled down to a 2-sided fight, our right flank where McCabe and the Dawn Serpent tag-teamed with one of my Beckoners to draw Illuminated down and try to kill them, while our left side featured Graves, Lynch, HD, and the other Beckoner dealing with the other enemies. Our chump Depleted bravely (or foolishly?) ventured forth and was drawn into Lillith’s melee range by Tangled Shadows, but they gave me a bit of a scare by acting like they were going to kill him with an Illuminated rather than the Master herself. Thankfully, the enemy’s Hungering Darkness obligingly killed him off so we could score. The left flank combat was a money-maker for us in terms of hunting party and Bounties, but things got a little dicey when Lillith disengaged, hopped across the board, and nearly killed Jacob Lynch after he overextended to finish off a Lured-forward McTavish. Thankfully, Mr. Graves saw what was coming and obligingly ran forward to smash Mr. Lynch’s skull in with his fence-post, thereby denying the enemy the Bounty points. This one got a little dicey at points, but between the high-value targets we took out on the left, bounty points scored by our Huggy, and the reactivated/terracotta warrior buffed Dawn Serpent picking off Illuminated, we won relatively comfortably.

Round 3 Head Hunter/Corner Deployment/Undercover Entourage, Leave Your Mark, Quick Murder, Take Prisoner, Convict Labor.

Pictured: An ugly-ass mess.

Against team Insert Winning Team Name Here (Ray and Jim) and their Arcanists, we thought we would go with a similar game-plan to what we used previously, tossing out the same crew list but with a Beckoner replaced by a Performer to pick up heads.
We faced a very well designed crew focused around a combination of Collette and Rasputina models with Hans to cause some more ranged trouble. While I went to the restroom during set-up, some genius decided to make a bunch of bubbling puddles count as hazardous terrain (thanks, Jon) so the middle of the board between two buildings became a wide-open stretch of no-man’s land filled with bubbling death puddles. We didn’t have a strong feel for which schemes to take on this one (my note sheet has several options crossed off) but we settled on Take Prisoner for the opponent’s Ice Dancer and Undercover Entourage on Sensei Yu, who can cross 21 inches with our crew build when he wants.
We screwed ourselves up from deployment in this one, I’m able to admit. The massive building we hid behind was impassable, and so our opponents were able to get into position while we were still trying to move around the damned thing to get to the battle. And as soon as we did start to peak our noses out, we discovered the horrible reality of our opponent’s crew: Collette’s prompt can be used on any friendly model. Including Rasputina. So our opponent effectively had 6 Rasputina AP to use every turn. Hoo boy. This is definitely one of those "The designers never thought of this format when playtesting" things.
Realizing the trouble we were in, we broke up our huddle of models as quick as we could and sent the Super Serpent over the hill and back to cause some disruption in the enemy. Huggy tried to move forward to do anything productive and did manage to put some wounds on…something, but was promptly killed by Hans who could ignore his cover and his incorporeal. Lynch had moved around away from the group, dashing into a position out of LoS of the enemy ranged attacks and supporting the Depleted, who had his eye on the enemy Ice Dancer. Those two would engage and dance a lovely duet for the rest of the game, making that dumb depleted the MVP of the whole damn game as he scored us 3 VPs and blocked an opponent’s Leave Your Mark. Where we got back into the game was by using Lynch and a combination of holding all the Aces in his hand with “Wanna See a Trick” (an upgrade I had severely underrated) to make the enemy’s Coryphee duet brilliant and kill them, bringing back Huggy. The super serpent and the newly spawned Huggy managed to pummel through the super Coryphee and a Wendigo with Armor of December that ran up to block us, scoring us a head and a VP. Again it came to the last activation, as Yu had to dash for the enemy corner. He couldn’t quite make it due to some (accidentally) clutch Ice Pillar placement in his path from the enemy, so we got 2 points instead of 3. However, yet again, we snatched victory out of the jaws of defeat on the last activation…almost. We ended up with a draw at the end of the most fun game of the tournament.

Our differentials weren’t high for most of the tourney, and I knew there was at least one team that went undefeated. I was very pleased, then, to find out that we had done well enough to take home 2nd place! We both got small mystery boxes, and Jon won one of the Starter Boxes from the raffle, so all-in-all, a great tournament for team Malifaux Musings! 

Dawn even managed to shame Jon into smiling for a picture...almost.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Other Side Kickstarter: Update 1

                The Other Side kickstarter campaign is up and running, and it’s going like gangbusters. They’ve funded within the first half-hour of being live, and are now creeping up on their $175k stretch goal. As such, we have a bit more information released to add to what we know of the game.
                They’re offering, at the outset, an allegiance box containing a commander, 2 units of a standard troop type, and a unit of more elite troops for each of the four Allegiances. Additionally, you receive several tactics tokens which are specific to your allegiance, a fate deck, bases, and a tape measurer. If you back at a Commander level you receive the Allegiance box, your army’s titan, a copy of the rulebook (which will now all be hardcover), and all Commander level stretch goals. From there you can move up to a double and a quadruple commander level to get the equivalent of two or four factions for a reduced price. Pretty straightforward. Additionally, there are add-ons you can pay for any of the models or accessories to be thrown into your order individually if you want to expand your forces. As it stands now, all the stat cards you receive from as a Kickstarter backer will be the sort of special-edition UV treated type Wyrd started offering for Malifaux last year, which won’t be available for sale after the Kickstarter ends. Also, one of the add-ons that were unlocked as a stretch goal are allegiance specific fate decks which have your army’s logo on the back and some pics of the models on the front. Cool.
                Additionally, the $150k stretch goal update on the website told us some more about the Gibbering Hordes specifically. They seem to be VERY oriented around terrain in general and the Tide Pools they place at the beginning of the game specifically. Their revealed commander, the Stormsiren, embodies this by placing one additional tide pool at the beginning of the game and gaining bonuses to her melee attacks when she or her targets are in contact with the pools. Which, of course, means you would never go anywhere near them, right? Well, problem is she has a Lure type effect to either pull your fireteams either to her or to a Tide Pool. The Hordes’ troops, has Adaptive Camouflage to let them flip two cards on opposed duels and choosing the best (IE a + flip.) We also get an idea of what it means to go into Glory with the Stormsiren, as she turns the Tide Pools into Hazardous terrain, gains some trigger-like effects to her attacks, gains a point of WP and AR, and gains an ability to summon more tide pools.
The Gibbering Hordes go into Glory by eating, specifically eating their own units. This strikes me as odd (I sort of wish they could do it by eating enemy units, too, but I have no idea how that would work for game balance.) There are ways around this, however, in the form of the Karkinoi units, who in addition to being the heavy hitters for the Hordes can spawn Egg Clutches which are, apparently, there to be eaten. 
Who's up for omelettes?

             It’s mentioned that the Karkinoi also get stronger when they have reinforcement tokens attached to them. But what do those tokens do? Well, at the beginning of a turn, a fireteam can spend one of these to either replace any missing models from their unit or summon a killed fireteam back into play. So, this is going to make knocking an enemy’s army off the board a lot tougher, presumably (if you’re going to shoot at a unit with a reinforcement marker, you’d better kill them all or not bother, apparently.)
So, that’s what we know so far. They’re up to about $172k at this point, so more info will be coming. In the meantime, here are links to the Allegiances video and a playthrough to give you an idea of the rules.

And since this is a mini-post, I’ll toss in a mini-plug for Leodis games. The deals are still going strong, and they have models from Knight Miniatures and other minis games. You can get a Batman v. Superman set for the Batman Miniatures game. No word yet on whether your models just automatically quit fighting if you say the word “Martha” to them during the game. Follow this link so we can get the credit, and check them out. 

Monday, December 5, 2016

Factions of The Other Side

                Malifaux Musings has previously discussed some of the crunch/rules content known so far regarding Wyrd Miniatures’ forthcoming army-scale game, The Other Side. Late last week some information started to come out onto Wyrd’s website regarding the four factions the game will feature. And then, in this week’s Monday Preview, they released a Youtube video discussing the character and fluff of these organizations and giving us some hints into the way they will actually perform on the battlefield. So, being the fluff nuts that we are and wanting to take some educated guesses at what the mechanics may be from the glimpses we received of their faction cards, we decided to take a dive into the information we have so far. Let’s not waste any more time, as the world is literally at war.

The Story So Far…

                As we know, the current timeline of Malifaux has the date placed in 1906, which is a time of high political tension in our own history. We’re knocking on the door of the first World War at this point on Earth and, in the Malifaux timeline, things are also on the verge of armed combat. The closing of the first breach led to global tensions over the sudden loss of a steady supply of Soulstones. This tension caused the Black Powder Wars, which were ended when the Guild of Mercantilers forms and brings the whole world under its (at least indirect) control. However, not everyone is crazy about this arrangement, and the Guild’s struggles to maintain order in Malifaux once the Second Breach opens only aggravates this further. And then, as a result of his failed ascension as a Tyrant, the former Governor-General of Malifaux appears in the skies over London in a new form, The Burning Man. His arrival triggers chaos and opens a series of smaller breaches which dump Neverborn creatures onto the Earth, and plunge the world into war.

                One group that was ready and waiting for the Guild’s weakening was the United Kingdom. The chaos caused by the arrival of the Burning Man was the last sign they needed to throw off the Guild’s yoke and declare themselves independent. In preparations for this moment, the Empire had stockpiled and engineered the most powerful guns in the world, and they bring these to bear on the enemy. As such, their battlefield strategies are designed around using ranged combat to wear the enemy down from afar.

                What we can see from the allegiance card shown in the video tells us that the units of a King’s Empire army get to flip from their normal form to their Glory form after killing an enemy unit (what that means in practice, we don’t know, but it is what it is. These are previews when we don’t have the rulebook.) They get a mask trigger on melee and ranged attacks that let them push 2” after resolving the action, which is a nice way of adding mobility to what otherwise looks to be a static gunline faction. They can use their ranged attacks in melee, albeit at a reduced AV, which we can assume from the use of the same terminology in Through the Breach means Activating Value (the equivalent of Ml or Rg in Malifaux.) So, again, it avoids one of the hallmarks of “gunline” armies by making them not completely useless in melee. And finally, they can charge and use ranged attacks instead of melee. Who knows if that’s any good or not, but it would probably create some interesting tactical scenarios.
                Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History podcast has turned me on to World War I in a way that history lessons in America never really achieved (for foreign readers, it goes along the lines of “There was a war going on in Europe for a while, then we came over and helped finish it. The end.”) That and my attraction to Imperial Guard armies in Warhammer 40k makes me think the KE might be something I’d check out in the future.

                From the faction page on Wyrd’s website, we know that the Gibbering Hordes are Neverborn from Malifaux’s oceans and rivers. More specifically, they were on the wrong side of the war with the Tyrants, and the Neverborn we’re used to like the Nephilim banished this group from the land as punishment afterwards. The Burning Man’s arrival has plucked them literally from their homes and dropped them in the middle of London (at least initially. We know the starter boxed set planned is the KE vs. GH and is called The Battle of London.) Guess they got lucky that the Burning Man didn’t show up over Tucson or the Mojave, as I imagine that would have made for a pretty short invasion. Since their initial arrival, however, other portals have opened up and dropped members of the GH around the globe.

                The GH are a melee faction, focused on getting into close combat and destroying the enemy that way. Their first special rule probably explains how they’ve managed to hang on so long after being dropped off in Earth, Endless Numbers. It lets them respawn a unit that was killed on the previous turn at the beginning of the next turn. They start in the deployment zone, don’t have any assets (upgrades?), and get to immediately move up to twice their speed. They also deploy a pair of 120mm Tide Pool tokens on the board during the Scouting phase (one assumes this is at the beginning, though whether this is done before or after units deploy would probably affect efficacy.) These pools count as difficult terrain which the GH units get to ignore. Finally, they get to flip towards Glory by having one friendly unit eat another friendly unit that starts next to them. Presumably this makes for a handy means of taking a wounded unit and getting some value out of them before the enemy destroys them.
                All in all, it feels like you took a Sillurid and crossed it with the Zerg or Tyranids. I suppose most army-scale games need something like this, and it’s fun to see a side of the Neverborn that’s different than what you get in the standard game. Close combat armies have never really been my cup of tea, however, so there’s a good chance I’ll be splitting parts of a BoL box with somebody and letting them take these guys.

                The other faction that excites me the most out of this initial group is probably Abyssinia. They are a real-world kingdom that started in part of Ethiopia. In this history, they gained access to soulstones before the rest of the world (how, we don't know yet) and, as such, have a greater knowledge of how to use them. They seem more technologically advanced than the other human factions, looking almost like a steampunk version of Wakanda from the Marvel Universe. They stretch across central Africa now, and are seeming to want to spread and bring more nations under their control.

                They are represented as an elite army that uses better technology and tactics than the opponent, as opposed to sheer numbers (which triggers my “I don’t have to buy as many models to play this faction” senses.) Their faction card doesn’t give as much away as the others, but indicates that you can put two “Prototype Assets” per commander to units in your army. Are these better versions of assets, akin to Limited upgrades? We have no way of really knowing yet. They do, however, have the ability to flip to their Glory side simply by discarding two control cards at the start of a unit’s activation. Depending on how much of an upgrade this is, being able to do it directly rather than having to achieve something on the board (killing an enemy unit, eating a friendly unit, etc.) would give you a greater degree of control over the unit’s state during the game. Maybe you just spend the first turn burning your hand to flip to glory mode on as many units as possible? Of course, that would be card intensive, so you can try to get some of them back via the trigger all the units in this army have, Innovation, which lets them draw a card when they have a Tome.
                One of the more progressive elements of Malifaux, initially, was its inclusion of many strong female characters that didn’t have to be over-sexualized (although, bizarrely, the more likely a lady master is to fight in close combat with a sword, the less likely they are to be fully dressed while doing so.) In addition to being cool, Abyssinia does this in another way, by taking an African culture and making them the most technologically sophisticated on the planet. We already had hints of this in Ripples (an Abyssinian built the Infamy, Zipp’s airship.) But it’s cool to see it in play. Plus, painting a Marcus model showed me how much better dark skin looks when I paint it than light. And there’s the elites thing I pointed out above (I’m not a wealthy person. For tips on how you can help me with that, scroll to the bottom!) So I’m definitely giving the Abyssinians a close look along with the Empire.

                When a giant burning dude appears in the sky, maybe it’s not a surprise that a certain type of people might ended up deciding he’s a god. What’s unusual about this particular deific figure, however, is that worshiping him as such seems to be granting his followers magical powers, albeit at the cost of their sanity and/or their physical forms. These guys certainly duke it out with the GH for who is the scariest looking of The Other Side’s factions, looking almost reminiscent of the Illuminated and Depleted from Jacob Lynch’s crew in several cases (and giving those of us who don’t like some of the Lynch crews sculpts proxy ideas for the future.)

               Like the Abyssinians, it’s tougher to gauge what these guys do from the faction card (maybe this is a design feature, as it seems the first two simpler factions will be featured in the starter box.) When an ace falls into the discard pile (more Lynch similarities?) you can put a Panic token on one of your fireteams. What do those do? I don’t know. But if you have two of them, that’s how these guys flip to Glory mode. This seems like the ability you'll have the least control over, though if you mill through your whole deck in an average turn of The Other Side maybe I'll be proven wrong. They do, however, seem to have an interesting mobility tactic in use during the game. During scouting they place three 50mm portal markers on the board, which they can shift at the start of their turn 6” by discarding a card. Then, if a unit starts in contact with a portal or moves into contact with it, you can relocate them to a different portal anywhere else on the board. You lose the rest of that movement action, but it still provides some interesting tactical possibilities. As one example, you can present two fronts to the enemy at deployment, then bounce your whole army to one side and try to roll up an  flank. Other than that, we don’t get many hints from the video about what they do, other than that they’re chaotic and use magic and mutations to strike. So I suppose if you’re a GW Chaos player, particularly Tzeentch, these guys will probably feel right up your alley.

Final Thoughts

                Again, I want to stress that I don't know what I'm talking about here (well, more than usual.) I'm not a playtester for this game. I don't know anything about it. I'm learning along with you. Also, there were stat cards shown in the video which someone smarter and more patient than me could freeze frame and break down (though when I tried it, a lot of the terminology was different than anything in Malifaux, so I couldn't be sure what I was seeing.) As such, what I've said so far could and likely in many cases will prove to be incorrect. If nothing else, the video is worth checking out just to see the renders of all the cool models coming for the game in the future. 
               I won't lie to your Marge. When this game was announced, my first reaction was a hard no. It’s not that I don’t think it’s going to be any good. I have enough faith in Wyrd to believe that, if they’re putting the time and effort into the design that they have, they’ll come out with something top-notch. It’s just that I barely have the time or resources to support Malifaux, let alone throwing an army scale game on top of it. That said, some of the characterizations of the factions so far, as well as the materials reaffirming the commitment to The Other Side being as objective oriented as Malifaux, have led to my softening on this point. I’m still not sure if I’ll plunk down the cash for it, but I’m giving it a look. I think a lot of you will want to do so, as well.


                And where would Malifaux Musings recommend you go to buy The Other Side when it finally comes out? Why, to Leodis games, of course! They’re sort of like an online version of your friendly local gaming store, and stock Malifaux, Guild Ball, Infinity, and many more games as well as custom accessories. Right now, pre-orders for Sandeep’s Beacon of Knoweldge crew box as well as Iron Skeeters, Shastar Vidiya Guards, and Archie are 20% off! And, by following this link before making your purchase, you’ll be supporting Malifaux Musings as well.