Friday, April 14, 2017

Mold of the Other

                Phiasco’s still typing up his Adepticon report part 2, so I’ll be putting up something today taking a closer look at a Book 4 model that has introduced a very powerful ability to Malifaux. But first, as always, mini-musings.

Mini Musings

-Wyrd’s Easter Sale is Live! That’s probably the biggest news, I would imagine. As mentioned last week, the sale will not be offering pre-releases as it has in the past as part of Wyrd’s efforts to improve relations with brick and mortar game stores. However, as far as I can see, all the limited editions you would win from mystery boxes, Nightmare Edition Dark Carnival, and the dayglow and translucent sets are available, along with the posters, and an alternate sculpt of Titania that looks to be having a bit of a bad day.

-Speaking of Alt Titania, the person responsible for the artwork you see above has joined Wyrd’s staff. Alyssa has become the new in-house artist for Wyrd, the first for the company. Follow the link to see some examples of her work. She certainly seems to have the Wyrd spirit in her!

-Finally, the Guilder store has been updated as well. You can now spend those poker chips you’ve got piling up for some alternate plastic Miss figures (Ery, Step, Terious, and Anne Thrope), the newly released Dr. Alexei Sokolov (from Wyrd’s last Through the Breach event), and a Wooden M2E Card Box.

-Wyrd Chronicles Issue 29 has come out, featuring a Through the Breach scenario where players wake up in Dr. McMourning's laboratory, an Easter Egg Hunt game for the minis, and the usual allotment of cool fiction. Oh, and there may be a strategy article in there written by your humble bloggist, Adam. Go check it out! 

Mold of the Other

                 There’s really no other way to put it: Ten Thunders got an awful lot of juice in Wave 4. They added a summoner to their stable of masters. They got a nasty beater model in Yasunori, which the faction has sort of lacked up to now. Ohagaru Bettari and Sun Quiang are both solid models that can find a role in many different Thunders crews. But, beneath all of that bright and shininess, one simple 5ss minion has probably had the greatest effect on the faction as a whole, the humble Terracotta Warrior. But why, you ask? Well I’m going to tell you. Jeez. Don’t be so pushy.

                On paper, a 4 Wd 6 Df 4 Wp model is not that impressive. Its melee isn’t that good (though with its ram trigger it can surprise you, as one of my Sillurids found out.) While unimpeded, it isn’t going to set any speed records with a walk and charge of 5. What’s the big deal with this guy? The answer, for those who haven’t seen them in action, is quite simply that he changes one of the fundamental truths of Malifaux: that you’re stuck with whatever upgrades you buy at the beginning of the game. As a 0 action, a Terracotta warrior allows any friendly model to discard any non-0 cost upgrade and replace it with another that it could have legally taken at the beginning of the game. This, along with the Neverborn Thousand Faces upgrade, are the first examples of this kind of flexibility to be introduced to the game, and their power can’t really be overstated. When you pick your upgrades, you don’t know what your opponent is bringing to the game. The only information you have is their faction, and that probably doesn’t tell you enough to truly know what you’re going to face (particularly with the introduction of the Wave 4 masters.) Now, this is much less of an issue. Realize mid-game that you bought the wrong limited upgrade? No problem, just switch it out (and pay the difference in soulstone cost, if the new one is more expensive.) Bring along a defensive upgrade that you don’t really need? Turn it into a Recalled Training! Speaking of which, use your Recalled Training earlier in the game? No problem, just turn one of your other upgrades into a second one and use it again! Mccabe’s in trouble and getting pummeled? Turn his saber into the strangemetal shirt after he activates, and give him some more protection. You can always change it back next turn to let him dish out some hurt! Asami Tanaka’s Feigned Weakness upgrade gives you an interesting boost when you’re behind on Victory Points, but does nothing when you’re ahead. Being able to choose when that upgrade is attached versus when it’s not based on the game state improves it immensely. For a little extra zip, pair this up with the faction's generic totem, the Kamaitachi. If the super weasel manages to stay within range of the model whose upgrades you’re flipping, you get to heal them a bit, give them a 3-inch push, and draw a card along with the upgrade swap. Brilliant!
Oh super weasel. Is there anything you can't do?

                That would probably be enough in and of itself, but there’s another big piece to what makes this thing so special. There’s a good chance you’ll have an important minion or enforcer you’ll want to keep alive somewhere in your crew. This is where the Terracotta Warrior’s 1 AP Tactical action, Mold of the Other, comes into play. It places a condition on the model called Ancient Protections that lets them pass the damage from a single attack onto the Terracotta warrior, who can promptly place a card from their hand under their deck (none of your shenanigans, Mr. Lynch) to prevent it. This may not be necessary for your average model, but when you’re keeping your souped up Dawn Serpent or Izamu alive a turn longer, sometimes that could be the last bit of resilience you’ll need to get a chance to hit them back. I just thought of Yin having this and made myself sick and annoyed (to be fair, Yin has that effect on me most of the time.) And it can even make something a little bit less resilient better able to hold a point for you. Seems like a pretty good deal.

                While being able to flip around some of Mccabe’s gear cards or bring back Recalled Training are all useful, where this model has the potential to be really interesting is when a master has a set of limited upgrades that drastically alter their playstyle. I did an article a while back called the Misaki Switch that discussed how you can change her from a defense oriented counter-charge model with Disguised to the (admittedly more frequently seen) Stalking Bisento murder-bot that we all know and lo(athe)ve. Well, with a Terracotta warrior, now you don’t have to pick! Start out with Disguised, walk up with your crew, and when the appropriate target presents itself, switch upgrades and launch off like a missile. If you’re really lucky, you may even be able to switch back on subsequent turns if you can get the Warrior close enough, though his limited speed and 6” range makes this less likely to work. A build that Phiasco has experimented with is combining this with Jacob Lynch’s limiteds to switch between Casting Expert and Survivable Hungering Darkness, though this requires being able to spot when the big purple tadpole is in trouble in advance to pull off safely. Not for the beginner, I’d say, but potentially very potent.

                So, this model has made a huge contribution to Ten Thunders becoming a very tactically flexible faction that can adapt to what is happening on the board, defensively flow to negate what the opponent’s crew is doing, and switch into offense mode to deliver a death blow. It’s kind of hard to think of a crew that wouldn’t benefit from including one, so it’s nice that they’re cheap. Their one significant weakness is their relatively short range, which can make them vulnerable. They’re a bit brittle (perhaps fittingly, they are terracotta after all), with only 4 wounds and Armor 1, though Thousands Strong can be used to negate any damage that doesn’t come directly from an attack action targeting them, so they ignore damage from poison or burning and aren’t vulnerable to blasts the way some other small minions can be. Still, if you get a chance to put one down, I’d recommend doing it. It’s likely they’re an important part of your opponent’s strategy, and you'll be slowing them down or jamming them up by doing so. 


                That's all for now, but I want to remind people in the Southeastern US (or, hell, anybody really) that my tournament NRVFaux is coming up next weekend. Come down to the New River Valley, play some Malifaux, and check out some cosplay and various other geeky vendors at the con itself. It's just $5 to enter the con, and your badge is your entry to the tournament. Phiasco assures me that the Wandering River Dojo will be making an appearance here, and your humble bloggist will be there to chat or jump in as the ringer. Hope to see you then! 

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Adepticon 2017 Wrap up

It’s been kind of quiet around here, recently, because I’ve been working on a soon to be announced project and dealing with some real life stuff. So, let’s briefly run through some mini-muses and then get Part 1 of Phiasco's Adepticon report. 


-Wyrd has announced some changes to the Easter and November sales. In an effort to support brick and mortar game stores, they’re going to reduce their pre-release offerings. This should have the effect of cutting down on the number of players who order directly and help store owners. They’re going to continue doing special edition models and their colored-plastic stuff, but you’ll just have to wait for your Yasunori and Rougarou releases, this year. This is a sacrifice that is important for the industry as a whole, so I hope people don't gripe.

-Wyrd has a couple of new board games in the works. One, Bayou Bash, involves Gremlins having a race on out-of-control animals, using dirty tactics to help themselves, and trying to cross the finish line first. The winner of the game, however, is the one who puts on the best show! The other is an expansion for Darkness Comes Rattling which introduces two new characters and allows the players to enter the spirit realm.

-Iron Painter is coming back soon, so…get your brushes ready? I don’t know, Your paint pots? I’m not a competitive painter. Be ready, I guess. Iron painter's appeal for me is just to look at all the pretty painted pictures. And, you know, despair of my own "ok" painting skills by comparison.

-The March FAQ for Malifaux has been released. Mostly it appears to be clarifications and/or corrections to make it jive with the January Erratas, and to deal with a  handful of other odd situations that have been asked in recent weeks.

-A Stitch in Time has had Parts 2 and 3 release since last we posted. The Fated characters have found themselves hurled backwards through time to the days of Malifaux’s first breach, in the 1700s. To survive this trip (and hopefully not mess up time too much) they’ll need to face down a Quebecois Necromancer, brave the dangers of the haunted church that gives the Redchapel District its name, and survive an encounter with one of Malifaux’s oldest and most powerful threats!


  Greetings.  It's Phiasco of the Wandering River Dojo.  I've been to several tournaments recently and I have been remiss in my reporting duties.  So I figured I would return to reporting with one of the largest draws for a Malifaux tournament attendance wise.  Adepticon!

  So first thing people who might be interested in going to an event like this is what will it cost me?  The year before the swag bag was tied into the cost of the badge and when the swag bags ran out you were SOL.  This year they cut the swag bag into an additional expense bringing down the cost of the badge and guaranteeing a bag to those that buy one .  So the weekend badge just to attend was $30 for the weekend and there was a Malifaux track that was $40.  The track includes the achievement league, meet and greet, the cake match, masters, and the story encounter.  I failed to notice it did not include henchman hardcore and the enforcer brawl (maybe they were on there and I removed them because of the flux in logistics).  Think there is a way to do just the masters for less than $50 if you don't include travel and lodging.

The swag bag was a $25 add on and this year it was probably easily worth twice to three times that.  If I were thinking I would have snapped a picture of all the stuff before I pieced it out.  It included a small mystery box, a full Hordes rulebook ($60 value), and a fantasy flight box set for I want to say Rune Wars but I'm waiting for it to arrive since I sent it with a friend because I flew in.  The bag also had several other trinkets so I will definitely be getting the swag bag add on for future events.  In addition to the swag bag there was a mobile beer cart that you buy a beer or beers and get free Malifaux (and other companies) stuff.  Granted that was cash only and I run to the 4 corners of the convention on Sunday for an ATM which were all out of cash only to borrow the money so I could get my teammate a Whiskey Golem but the look on his face was worth it.

So without further ado... the events!

The first couple I will be making general assumptions because I had a ticket but did not participate.

Meet and Greet-
  I going to make the assumption this is a loose organization of players looking to just play games whether for fun or to facilitate the achievement league.  I came through early Thursday but I didn't bring my stuff because I was just getting my bearings, badge, swag and so forth.  Next year I will make an attempt to be free to play games Thursday morning.  I'm always up for a game of Malifaux.

Cake Match-
  From what I understand you make themed food and enter it in a baking contest.  If I somehow develop some hidden culinary skill I did not know I had I will make an attempt at this in the future.  But there is also the logistics of transporting said food if I fly again.  Looks like a fun event but not certain I will have the capacity to participate.

Gaslight Achievement League-

  So coming in I thought I was going to participate by accident.  I'm not going to get into where this plan went sideways in this post and I'm still on the fence if I want to bring it up and how to do it in a constructive manner. But needless to say second place was 90 something points and first was 140+.  Things I didn't know.  Adepticon uses an app called guidebook that lists your events and the Strategies and Schemes are listed in advance so if I knew this going in it could have helped me narrow my crew selection ahead of time for Masters and give me a heads up for what I need to play outside of organized play to score more achievement points.  So I have a plan for next year going in.

Henchman Hardcore-
  This is a variant format found on Wyrd's website if you are interested.  I fully intended on playing but there was a misunderstanding on my part that the Malifaux included all of the events that were not the Team tournament.  It could be at the time I didn't expect to be doing Thursday events because I thought I was carpooling.  Needless to say I didn't have event tickets and showed up while the last round was in progress.  I fear I won't get to test my new list until Gencon.

Enforcer Brawl-
  If there was ever a case and point to be made how streaky a deck of cards can be my Lone Swordsman proved it in this 3 round event.  This is also an official alternate format found on Wyrd's website.  So I took the swordsman with recalled training.  The last enforcer brawl I played they let us swap models between rounds.  I don't know that I would have but I don't mind either way.  Round 1 I shoot out to 17 points because the cards fell exactly where I needed them to.  Last in initiative last turn.  Hit the board, pop the upgrade, hit reactivate and kill 2 models for 8 points.  The next 2 rounds I score 4 and 0 respectively.  I came in 5th and first was only 5 or 6 points away.  I was there to have fun and fun was had.

Team Tournament-
  I don't think this is a supported format but it is definitely a popular one.  It's basically 4 35SS master led crews.  Adam and I stole second place at a team event in December.  While on the way back from TFL Curtis and I were spit balling ideas and came up with Glowy Somer.  Sadly Curtis had some unexpected surgery not too long ago and I was out a partner for teams.  As luck would have it I was talking to Chris Bellamy and he knew someone looking for a teammate and they also played gremlins.  And the Legion of Boom was born.  So going in I knew most of my thunder shenanigans wouldn't translate to gremlins.  Furthermore Sh5 on Somer could be a liability to the plan.  So I devised a plan to spam bayous and park them just outside of engagement and double blast into the bad guys for 4 damage that ignores armor, incorporeal, and hard to kill.  (I thought it was 5 with the glowy but the +1 damage doesn't carry to blasts).  So instead of going game by game I will highlight things that worked vs. things that didn't.  Aionus + piglets and bayous and skeeters... gold.  Ditch a 4 for fast and reckless on the bayous?  Yes please.  If I could have coordinated the swarm and gotten mileage out of Show Off and 4 ap suicide bayous, I would have.  My never playing gremlins was a liability, though.  I think I have only ever played my teammate once so I had no idea how he wanted to play and vice versa.  I had all these ideas and tried to implement more than one at a time and ultimately between that and clever play by some of our opponents we eked out 1 tie and 3 losses.  That happened to be good enough to take best in faction for gremlins.  We also came in last.

Editor's Note: Getting best in faction for Gremlins while coming in last...the jokes write themselves...

 Not a spoon but I can learn origami...

I am tempted to run one of these at Gigabites in the not so distant future.  Just need to run the logistics and pull the trigger.

 I'm going to splinter off Masters, Story and my mid table mediocrity off into another post.  I ought to have it up in the near future.  Until then...


   In the meantime, don't forget to visit our our sponsor's website Leodis Games. Pre-orders of Malifaux items are 20% off. They are one of the best distributors in the UK, and they'll do right by you, and kick a little bit of support our way in exchange. So go check 'em out! 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

High Ground Tournament Report, 2-18-2016

In today’s Malifaux Musings, we’ll take a look at a tournament Jon and I attended in Kingspoint, TN at one of the most impressive game stores I’ve ever been to and, spoiler alert, one of your faithful bloggers took home the big prize! Before that, let’s take a look at some mini-musings.


-On February 14th Aaron announced a new contest, the Storied Soundtracks contest. It involves writing a short story based within the world of Malifaux inspired in some way by a specific song. This round’s topic is “Rose Tattoo” by Dropkick Murphys. Anyone who submits a 5,000 word story by March 15th will receive a $15 store credit from Wyrd, and the winner will have their story published in Wyrd chronicles and receive a special payment of $.03 per word, up to 10,000 words.

-The Stitch in Time event is still running, and sign-ups are still being accepted. Go join in! It includes quick-play rules for the upcoming 2nd edition of Through the Breach, so there’s no reason not to get into the action! Information on the next Act was released March 6th. And, if you’re participating, I’d love to hear how your groups are doing. My group actually lost a character in this chapter, the first we’ve had die in a TTB game since we started!

-An artist who’s done work for Wyrd previously, Tommy Castillo, is working to raise money for a kidney transplant. If you have a few bucks to spare, kick them in and support our Wyrd family.

-Wyrd Wants You! playtest its next book. Follow the link, and sign up if you think you want to contribute.

-Lastly, those who participated in The Other Side’s kickstarter campaign can now manage their pledges through the backerkit page. Additionally, if you wanted to get in but maybe didn’t have the funds, late pledges can be still be added in for certain options. Check it out!


                I woke up on Saturday morning, February 18th, and piled out into the car to drive to Bristol, TN and play some Malifaux. In my ears rang the sounds of the hundreds of people who poured out of the woodwork to tell me that my last blog post was wrong and, in fact, the Guild was doing just fine in GG2017, thank you very much. I prepared for the sounds of facebook and google alerts from more comments that came rolling in over the course of the day to continue vehemently making this point. I was well prepared to drown these out with some discussions of the Wave 4 Neverborn models by the fellows at Arcane Reservoir who, disappointingly, don’t seem to think much of Titannia and her crew. Sadness. Then I got there and realized I’d left my reading glasses behind. This isn’t a crippling problem, mind you, but I knew I’d have wrecked vision and a splitting headache by the end of a tournament if I didn’t do something about this. Google maps came to the rescue and I staggered across Kingsport to the nearest drug store, picking up a grey and black leopard spotted pair of old lady glasses that were 1 magnification too strong. On the way back an older looking woman stopped me to assure me that she was, in fact, not a prostitute despite what her mother was saying about her (mom was nowhere to be seen.) This was all happening before 10AM, so I had a feeling it was going to be a weird day.

                Thankfully, the apprehension was replaced with awe when I came inside Dewayne’s World Comics and Games and saw the impressive interior. The retail space inside was a massive warehouse-like space filled with games, comics, and collectible statues (sadly no Malifaux, but the owner tells me that may change soon if interest is high enough.) They had recently purchased the space next to them and converted it all to be available for gaming, including tables for miniature and roleplaying games. One clever addition was simply having available a large number of pads of paper and measuring tapes for public use. The space was clean, well stocked, and honestly very impressive. Once they get some Wyrd product in there, they’ll get the full Malifaux Musings stamp of approval ;).

                The format for the tournament was going to be standard Gaining Grounds but with a different set of generated Strats and schemes for each round than the standard rotation, as the TO had just attended some other Gaining Grounds tourneys recently and wanted to shake things up. Using my standard ultra-scientific method (flipping a card from my fate deck) I’d determined I was playing Neverborn for this one. I inwardly breathed a sigh of relief that I hadn’t flipped another ram since, as we all know, Guild can’t win in GG2017. I’ve become more of a fan of the Hooded Rider of late for various reasons (he’s an Enforcer and kills things later in the game, so he’s less a liability in Frame for Murder. Also, one of the fellows on Arcane Reservoir rates him highly) so I decided he would probably find his way into several of my crews this weekend. Also, it meant I got to play Lynch, which I am always happy to do. However, I had heard in a podcast somewhere (I wish I could remember where so I could attribute it properly. If you’re the podcast in question, let me know and I’ll mention it) a new (to me) way of playing Lillith where you use her not as an offensive piece but, rather, as a disrupter for the enemy crew using Wicked Vines, Tangled Shadows, and Beckon Malifaux to hinder the enemy strategies. Ideally, she wouldn't need to take her sword off her shoulder if things go the way you want them to go. I wanted to give this a try as well, so I kept that crew in the back of my mind for Interference/Recon type games that would involve running around the board and/or dropping markers.

                In round one I played Lee, an Outcasts player, in Corner deployment Collect the Bounty. The pool was Claim Jump, Dig Their Graves, Accusation, Show of Force, and Search the Ruins. I brought Neverborn Lynch, Huggy, The Hooded Rider, Dopp, 2x Illuminated, and Graves. Lee used Von Schill, Hannah, Trunk, Sue, Big Jake, a Librarian, Johan and a Convict Gunslinger, I think. I had planned to lure models to me and pick them off, but of course I got over aggressive early and walked into a big ole’ pile of people who ignored my Terrifying, removed suits from my casting, and generally crapped in my Kool Aid. Somewhere in the mid-game I managed to kill Big Jake with Huggy and score a point for Bounty. He scored one back later when Schill chopped up some Illuminated. Lynch did a whole pile of nothing in this game, due again to Hannah and Sue being a potent combination of “Your crew’s stuff doesn’t work” and we played the Hooded Rider as getting his suits removed by Hannah also (I’m not entirely sure that’s right, but it seemed right at the time. Feel free to post and let me know if I’m wrong.) However, on the last turn I completed my trademark “Steal victory from the Jaws of Defeat” maneuver, dashing around to toss out some Search the Ruins markers and win the game 3-2 (Lee got one for Dig Their Graves at some point, also.)

"Seriously?" - Mr. Graves

We stopped to get some lunch, then moved on to round 2. This time I was playing against Noah, a younger player who I was told beforehand was vicious and who I should definitely not take it easy on. We were going to have a Neverborn-off on a table that featured some laser-cut terrain in the form of a derailed train. Since we were doing Extraction, we got a dayglow Sorrow from someone else to use as the marker and, ostensibly (in my head anyways) we were trying to rescue it from the train and recruit it to our side. This was my first opportunity to try out the Lillith Defense list, with Mama Monster, the Rider, Graves, 2x Depleted, Doppleganger (obv), P. Magic, and maybe some other stuff (I can’t remember.) Noah had shooty Dreamer, Widow Weaver, Teddy, a couple of Stitched Together, Coppelius, and maybe some Daydreams. Pool was Claim, Frame, Dig, Recover Evidence, and Tail ‘Em. I had planned on doing Frame and Tail ‘Em, and then realized I didn’t actually have any legal minions I could use for Tail ‘Em, and switched quickly to Recover Evidence.
                The game began with my crew fanning out to the left and right around the extraction zone, letting the enemy filter into the middle so we could pounce. Graves threw the Chump Depleted (who I refer to as “Dr. Tentacles”) into melee with Dreamer, Widow Weaver, and a Stitched. Tentacles managed to do some damage to Dreamer crew people, get beat up in turn by the stitched to near death, but then Graves charged Dreamer and things got weird. I smacked Dreamer with a fence post, which Dreamer then redirected to the Stitched, dealing him severe damage and putting him on hard to kill. Widow Weaver then hit and killed the Depleted, scoring me Frame for Murder and, when the Depleted exploded, killing the Stitched. Rotten contents went off, causing Graves’ Black Blood to splatter on Dreamer. So, yeah, very confused trigger of auras there.
                Meanwhile, Lillith was Tangled Shadowsing Teddy away from support and proceeded to play Wicked Vines ping-pong with him until we got far enough in the game for Hooded Rider to come in and beat him to death. The game became a bit of a tangle in the mid-table of summoned Alps, Coppelius, the Hooded Rider, Lillith, and the Doppleganger. We managed to run out the end of the game before Coppelius could start doing too much damage to me, and I won this one 10-4. Noah made the one big mistake with killing the Depleted and triggering the death of his Stitched, so no reactivation shenanigans, but Dreamer crews are complicated and I think he did a pretty impressive job.

                Round 3, on 2 wins, saw me go up to the top table to play this “Jon Goulbourne” fellow, who I had vaguely heard of previously. Earlier in the tournament I had told him about the Lillith defense list, to which he responded “Well I hope we don’t play each other, since I know what you’re doing now.” So, of course, this was happening. He brought in Jacob Lynch, who is Jon’s typical tournament master. He was using Rising Sun Huggy, Terracotta Warrior, Sensei Yu, some 10 thunders brothers, Sidir Archibal with Promises and Recalled Training, and an Oiran. We were playing Squatter’s Rights on Flank deployment, with my taking Leave Your Mark and Undercover Entourage (Lillith) for schemes. I brought in Lillith with Beckon and Wings, Hooded Rider, Doppelganger, 2x SIllurids, and 2x Insidious Madnesses. Because we play each other all the time and have similar thought processes, Jon was on the same schemes, this time with Sensei Yu doing the Entourage. My plan was to use Sillurids and Madnesses to try and go grab the outer squat markers while the sillurids hopped to the back to go drop Leave Your Mark tokens. They were opposed by Ten Thunders Bros who were going to try and move the Insidious Madnesses. I screwed up placement on the bottom squatter marker, allowing the Ten Thunders Bro to ignore the Madness entirely and just hop over him with dance of the heavens, flipping the marker and blocking me from taking it. The other sillurid and madness fell victim to Sidir’s Recalled Training machine gun fire, which is horrific if you’ve never faced it before. On top of that, I poked the Hooded Rider’s nose out too early and nearly got him killed from Lynch and Huggy, who were hindered by Wicked Vines and Trees but not completely blocked since Yu could remove the Rooted condition from them. Things were getting a little rough, is what I’m saying, and I may have lost my temper and broken the frames of my newly purchased leopard spot glasses dropping them on the table in frustration at the end of turn 2.

Pictured: How not to defend a Squat Marker from your opponent's 10T Brother.

                And then it started to turn. Some lucky flips on Turn 3 and key tree placement managed to flip squat markers so I could at least score off the strat and keep Lillith from drying in retaliation from the enemy. The Doppleganger in the meantime was causing trouble for the enemy, making Huggy come kill him while flipping squats and generally being a nuisance. The surviving Sillurid was frantically dropping scheme markers for Leave your Mark, and the Hooded Rider redirected to one of the enemy’s Ten Thunders Bros, parking on his Leave Your Mark Marker turn 3 and eating it Turn 4 to heal himself using Malifaux Provides. This gave him enough wounds to slide up to the now undefended right squat marker, flipping it for our team and letting us resume scoring for the strat before he was punched to death by the Terracotta Warrior (btw, they do a surprising amount of damage). Lillith, meanwhile, spent the end of the game allowing herself to be lured towards the enemy deployment zone by an Oiran. Huggy chased her down and managed to get her engaged Turn 4, but on Turn 5 I rooted him, used Tangled Shadows to jump into base to base with the Oiran (leaving Huggy’s melee range) and then maul the Oiran to keep myself safely at full wounds. I knew Sensei Yu couldn’t come back to unroot Huggy, as he was going to need to sprint for MY deployment zone for Jon’s Entourage. And, in the end, the Sillurid managed to get enough scheme markers dropped and picked up over the last set of turns without getting shot to death by Sidir, allowing the game to finish in a 9-9 tie.

Artists rendition of the end of the game.

                With my greater differential, I managed to take down 1st place in the tournament and, fittingly, won myself an alternate Barbaros model (I have a metal Lillith boxed set, so I did not own a Barbaros. I was thoroughly pleased with this.) Additionally, my Mr. Graves won the painting competition! I’ve never won a painting competition before! So, yeah, it was a damned good day of Malifaux in a very cool store. What more could you ask for? 


                Finally, don't forget the NRVFaux tournament, coming up in a little under 2 months time. It's a 50ss Gaining Grounds tourney with door prizes, con credit as bonus prize support with retailers at the show, and the standard Wyrd prize support. Come on down and check it out and, if you're coming, feel free to sign up through our tournament's Bag o' Tools page

Friday, February 17, 2017

Did the Guild Get Screwed With Gaining Grounds 2017?

Yeah, that’s right. I know how to do Click-bait titles too. Buzzfeed’s got nothing on me.

In today’s post, we’ll take a look at a conversation I had at my last tournament, suggesting that the Guild may have a rough road ahead of them in the coming year. Also, we’re announcing Malifaux Musing’s first official sponsored tournament, here in lovely Blacksburg, VA. But first, some mini-musings…


1)      The global Through the Breach event is kicking off this week! Fatemasters sign up through the website and receive access to a hidden forum, wherein the files for the game are posted and discussions can be had. For those unfamiliar with how these work, you’ll be given pre-generated characters and will play through storylines that other players are using worldwide. The characters include some gems like an artist who was “recruited” to join Professor Von Stuck’s University Transmortis, a drunken Guild Guardsman, and a construct who may have some connection to a certain puppetmaster…  Factions score points based on which characters are played the most as well as the Fatemaster's choice of a bonus point. Part 1 features the Fated working with an inventor in Malifaux city to construct a device to recreate the breaches generated by Cultists of the Burning Man, searching the city for parts and getting into some scrapes along the way. Jump in!

2)      The February Chronicles magazine is available atDriveThru RPG. Articles feature a guide to starting Neverborn on a budget, an introduction to a new Wyrd employee, a Through the Breach adventure in which characters journey into the spirit world, and a Malifaux Slasher Scenario called “Cabin in the Woods,” that sounds pretty cool!

3)      A new(ish) tool has been made available for tracking Malifaux games, called Logfaux. It’ll be useful for keeping track of your individual statistics over time, as well as giving a view of changes to the worldwide meta as a whole. Give them a look!


                Now, clickbait headlines aside, what am I on about this week? Well, going into the second round of the tournament at Fantasy Underground, there was a certain amount of debate as to what sort of crew would be best suited to complete the scenario. It was Stake a Claim, with a scheme pool full of things that required us to drop markers all over the board. I was playing Guild Mccabe, and the guy I was playing against was complaining that he had Gremlins and had hoped to play against the Guild so he could out-activate and out-scheme marker me around the board. And, as we conversed, we mentioned that this round of schemes was actually kind of rough on the Guild in general, and I was inclined initially to agree. Frame for Murder being a suited scheme is ROUGH on a faction that generally does their work at the end of a sword or the barrel of a gun, especially when one of that faction’s calling cards is their bad-ass henchmen. That, plus a general perception of there being more scheme marker-ness in this set created a hypothesis and, like any good scientist, I wanted to investigate.

                Before we get to the results, let’s start with a brief discussion of my methods. If I’m going to break this down quantitatively, I have to have some baseline assumptions. First, I have to assume that, for the purposes of this exercise, schemes that encourage killing are good for the Guild, while schemes that penalize killing and/or require fast movement AND a large amount of scheme marker placement are not good for a typical Guild crew. Is this a dramatic over-generalization? Yes. Obviously. Since getting past Book 1, Guild have had their own scheme runners, and masters like Hoffman and Nellie have no problem using nasty enforcers like the Peacekeeper and handing out their own AP to them as a way of at least denying the opponent one or two points from Frame. But, we have to start from somewhere, and I wanted to basically play to the stereotypical "Hulk Smash" style Guild Crew. Second, I have to be the one to arbitrarily determine which schemes are “Good” versus “Bad” for a typical Guild crew. Are Dig their Graves or Marked for Death good schemes for them? I had to make a judgement call for this. They do involve killing, but they also involve interact actions. As such, I broke them down to a score of “1” for good schemes, “-1” for bad schemes, and “0” for those that I didn’t rate as being particularly good or bad. These ratings are entirely arbitrary, and I have no doubt that others would disagree with some of my choices. The spreadsheet is on Google Drive here, so you can go look and tell me how wrong I am. Last but not least, I multiplied this by the odds of having any of these schemes come up in the average scheme pool. I’m not a statistician, but I think I remember enough from my undergrad stats class (it was only 1 decade ago guys, so not that long) that I did that part right. Again, would not be shocked if I was incorrect about some or all of this. I calculated the sum and mean probabilities, and that gives me my rough number. Which cannot be argued with, so don’t even try, because my logic is ironclad and inescapable.

                So what do the numbers tell us? Well, the change isn’t as significant as I may have thought, but there is a definite shift which is not in the Guild’s favor. The biggest changes, unsurprisingly, are in the suited schemes. I counted Dig Their Graves as one that was in their favor since it involved killing and models like Phiona Gage makes them relatively doable, though if I counted them as neutral that would have made things even worse. The change from Show of Force to Frame for Murder is probably the biggest swing, as I consider Show to be in their favor, now that they have Debt and Numb to allow for some strong upgrades that will stay attached, unlike traditional universal upgrades from the other factions like Oathkeeper and Recalled Training that have to be discarded to take effect. The differences are offset slightly by the Doubles scheme shifting from Take Prisoner (neutral) changing to Eliminate the Leadership (good.) But, that change of two “good” suited schemes to two “bad” suited schemes is tough to overcome, as we'll see shortly.

                In the numbered schemes, 2016 GG had 3 that I considered “good” versus 5 “bad.” By comparison, in 2017 the ratio shifts to 5-3. Normally, one would think that would also help to offset things. The problem is, however, that there are only 4 of each numbered card in a deck, versus 13 of each suit. As such, a good or bad scheme here only contributes about + or - .15 to the sum probability, as compared to almost a full .5 for a suited scheme. Thus, it would take having 5 good numbered schemes to offset one suited bad scheme. Therefore, while I included them, they don’t make THAT much of a difference. Still, it’s a little something to help salve the pain, at least.

                How much of a difference did this new scheme pool end up making? Well, if we look at the sums, the total changes from -.81 in 2016 to -1.05 for 2017. This seems significant. The mean probability per scheme, however, doesn’t change that much (only a drop of .01 total.) This backs up our assertion above that, while there hasn't been a significant change in the NUMBER of positive versus negative schemes, the locations of those changes on the table make a big difference for the faction. 

                So what does this mean? I honestly expected that there would be no significant difference (that’s usually how these things work out.) However, I think there is a legitimate case to be made that the “typical” Guild crew (Kill ‘em All and let the Governor sort ‘em out) will struggle in Gaining Grounds 2017 more than it did in 2016. Admittedly, what this analysis doesn’t factor in is the fact that use of force in the game has a quality all its own that can’t be reflected in the math, namely the ability to block your opponent from scoring VP by, you know, blowing them the hell up. Still, I think it would be in the best interests of many Guild players who are looking to rack up as many VPs as possible to think outside the “typical” box and build crews that can run schemes. Look at Reporters, Hounds, or Watchers specifically to fill these jobs, and look for those badass enforcers to do the heavy lifting/killing of your crew. It’s going to be painful to bench Franc/Phiona/Ryle, but with Frame in the scheme pools almost every other game, they’re going to give those points up an awful lot. At least when the Peacekeeper kills your opponent’s Chump, you’ll only give up 2.


                Finally, I’d like to announce the tournament I’m hosting in late April, NRVFaux. It’s a standard 50ss Gaining Grounds 2017 tournament hosted as part of a regional convention (NRVCon) that is put on by my FGL, Fun-N-Games hobbies. It will be held April 22nd, with registration starting at 9AM and the tournament kicking off at 10. In addition to the standard tournament prizes, I’ve modeled the prize support plan off of the Southeastern Malifaux group plan I’ve seen at tournaments put on by Chris Bellamy and the always Sassy Dawn McCormack. As such, there will be raffle tickets distributed for each round you’re playing a fully painted crew that can be used to enter drawings for extra prize support after the games are finished. We’ll also have a sportsmanship award, and the usual Guilders and Mystery boxes for first and second place. Additionally, the tournament organizers are kicking in some Con-Cash, good for purchasing loot from the vendors at the convention, based on the number of attendees! I’m hoping for a nice turn-out, and if you make your way to the tournament you can even meet your favorite bloggers, Adam and Jon, in person! So come on out! And be sure to come back for our next click-bait article, “Why Donald Trump Thinks All True Americans Play Neverborn!” 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Malifaux at the Underground, 1/28th Tournament Report


-Information for how to join the Through the Breach worldwide event: A Stitch In Time, is the subject of this week's Monday Preview. There's a sign-up sheet linked on the page where you put in your name, email, and forum name in exchange for access to the forum where the files, including the pregen characters required for the campaign, are located. Fatemasters should sign up by February 26th at the latest, but the first part of the adventure goes up on the 13th (just in time for some Valentine's day gaming?) And, it contains a render of the character which won the first Nythera event, Dr. Alexei Sokolov of the Aracanists. My player tended to use his overdrive ability to pick up tables and throw them, though, but I don't know how well he can pull that off with those big swords...
Everyone's favorite French-speaking Russian


Last Saturday, Jon and I traveled south into the wilds of High Point, NC for a another tournament in the Southeastern Malifaux group, this one organized by Chris Bellamy. It was more of the standard 50SS fixed faction fair, and I posted previously about some thought experiments I did in advance as tournament prep. I was planning on running McCabe the whole time, as I have an affinity for masters that are more the point guard for their crew rather than the one scoring all the points. I’d played a couple of practice games to learn his nuances, at least as well as I could, and decided to put what I’d learned to the test.

Gaming Undergound is a gaming center similar to my old store Gauntlet Games in Lincoln, Nebraska. The store has some inventory inside, but the majority of the space is dedicated to playing areas. They also have a pretty expansive web store where I would imagine they do the majority of their sales, but it was cool to not have the whole tournament crammed in a corner like you get with some venues. Food was available all around the store, and they had a system set up to allow you to see the round timers on screens throughout. Very handy.

You know nothing, Lucas McCabe...

The first round was Headhunter and close deployment, so I immediately thought “Executioner.” His 0ss upgrade is supposed to have fixed some of the speed issues that have plagued the model since its release, and I’d had some success with it in a test game with Jon online. The scheme pool was Claim Jump, Frame for Murder, Accusation!, Mark for Death, and Last Stand. I came in with:

Mccabe with badge, saber, and promises,
Peacekeeper with Debt to the Guild (how does a Peacekeeper go into debt?)
Executioner w/ Ready to work
Brutal Effigy
2x Guild Hounds

                The enemy crew was Ulix with Old Major, Lenny, Gracie, a Slop Hauler, and some piglets. There were upgrades involved, I’m sure, but I couldn’t tell you which other than Corn Husks. The main thrust of this game was a two-front battle, his Ulix-Lenny-Gracie unit backed up with a slop hauler versus Mccabe, the Executioner, the Hunter, and my hounds; and my Peacekeeper and Effigy versus his Old Major and some piglets. The former battle didn’t work out the way I was hoping, to put it nicely. He tried to tie up the initial charge of the Executioner, but I got out and threw Fat Wolverine into the enemy to cause trouble and die gloriously for the good of the Guild. He…accomplished the second part. I had thought that, since Gracie was sort of the enabler/muscle of that team, that the right move would be to try and take her down quickly. This was incorrect. Gracie with Lenny standing next to her is a wall of armor that even the big guy couldn’t get through, and he basically bounced off and got eaten for his trouble (though he did manage to milk 2 stones and 2 cards out of the enemy while he was at it.) Making matters worse, Gracie’s an enforcer, so only 2 points from Frame. Meanwhile, the Hunter was trying to move around behind the action and murder the slop hauler, but didn’t get this done either, and the slop hauler was busy the first several turns throwing buckets at him and/or picking up heads off the ground (ironically, never doing the thing he was hired to do, heal people.)
                On the second front things were going slightly better, but only slightly. A peacekeeper is more than a match for Old Major, even when the idiot playing it keeps forgetting to hold a card in hand to keep from giving him reactivate. Some of the heads I managed to pick up in the game came from there, while the others were from piglets that sprinted off into the main fight to muck things up. Unfortunately, the corn husks made it so the enemy piglets could score claim jump three times before I could stop them, and in the main scrum we realized that the trouble with Mccabe and Marked for Death is, you know, he can be scored twice. Eff. So, we both got 4 off the strat, but I missed two scheme points for Mark and Frame while he maxed out, and I lost 8-10. Not a great start, though I was at least happy with the points my side managed to put together. Lessons learned: Executioner is still going to struggle in a lot of games, even with his new upgrade, and if Lenny is on the board he is important to the other side. There’s a reason he got nerfed, and he needs to die.

                Round 2 was standard deployment stake a claim on an Asian themed board. Fittingly for the terrain, I was throwing McCabe into a fight with Rezzer Yan Lo. Big trouble in Little Malifaux, indeed. The pool had Accusation!, Leave Your Mark, Hunting Party, Claim Jump, and Search the Ruins. So, basically, how many fast AP can you squeeze in your list? Prior to this, some other players and I had discussed how some of them had wanted to be matched up against Guild this round, as it was believed that they would not be able to do enough interactions. My response, "Oh yeah? Hold my beer..."

Mccabe-Badge of Speed, Glowing Saber, Plant Evidence
Master Queeg-Promises and Plant Evidence
Brutal Effigy
Guild Hound
Guild Hound

                The opponent was bringing in Yan, Izamu, Toshiro, Soul Porter, 2xNecropunks, a Komainu, and a Crooligan. It was pretty obvious we were going to be trying to sprint for markers, and I was going to need to use my minions to hunt down his before they could start scoring. I was confident, however, that I could use my hounds to score while doing this. That didn’t quite end up being the case, though. We spent the first turn basically waving at each other as we walked past, since we were deployed on opposite flanks and both seemed content to focus on scoring the objectives early. I juiced up the super dog with the badge and reactivate, counting on him to go get the first squat markers down. However, the dog soon found himself engaged with an enemy Komainu that slowed that process down, and I actually fell behind early. I was helped out by Luna charging into an enemy Necropunk on my side, dropping him, and then reactivating to move up field and eventually burn up his claim marker and replace it with one of mine just over the center line. The combat portion of this game was really won through a combination of the Hunter attacking a model before its turn, and then a reactivating saber-wielding Promises-buffed Warden coming in to mop up. That was scary good, and ended with him taking down Izamu, the Komainu, and a good chunk of Toshiro more-or-less solo. Another MVP vote goes to my second, non-super hound who spent the last half of the game blocking two scheme markers from scoring for Claim Jump all by himself. In the end, a combination of McCabe dashing back and forth like his hair was on fire and lobbing upgrades, some decent strategy on my part, and a fair amount of bad luck for my opponent’s flips managed to carry the day for my side, and we won 6-4.

The cards you see are a Terrifying test with a - flip. You know, if you want a preview of how this game went.

                Round 3 featured the dreaded Corner Deployment Squatter’s Rights scenario. I was worried about this one going in, as the scheme pool had Frame for Murder and Neutralize the Leader, which are both bad for Guild McCabe. I tried to avoid some of this by staying away from killy Henchmen if I could help it and focusing on killing models with Enforcers. I was playing Rezzers, so I decided I’d better find room in there for a Warden to help with Terror tests, which ended up being even more important than I knew. My crew looked like this.

Mccabe-Badge, Saber
Peacekeeper-A Debt to the Guild
2x Hounds

                My opponent was bringing a fear based Seamus crew with the Hatter and Sinister Rep, Yin, Carrion Emmisary with a Conflux that didn’t really come into play as far as I could see, 2xCrooligans, a Hanged, and the Valedictorian. Show of Force is a pretty strong scheme for the Guild after book 4, as their universal upgrade (Debt) stays attached after you activate it, unlike Oathkeeper or some of the Arcanist stuff. Seeing no upgrades on anyone besides Seamus and the 0 pointer on the Emmisary, I thought this was a strong bet. Then I put Frame on the super dog, as I figured his chance of living past turn 2 was pretty minimal.

                I was in trouble from deployment on this one, as my opponent stuck me with a corner that had a good third of its space filled by a building right in the middle, forcing me to split my crew (you can see it in the picture.) I also discovered that the trouble with the super-dog strategy is that, if you flip the middle marker and then one on the outside, the opponent can just walk up and flip the middle one back next turn. Doh. Really, I made a lot of mistakes in this game, to the point that the only thing that could have saved me was if my fate deck was exceedingly kind. It was, in fact, not (again, I refer you to the picture.) Misplays like activating my Peacekeeper’s Debt to try and attack Yin when I was in view of the Hanged, so I would have to take Terrifying Tests all turn long rather than just on the first attack, were characteristic of how I played. And, to be fair, this enemy crew is a very effective, classic build for Seamus (though I was surprised there were no Belles. Apparently they were unneeded, though.)  Also, Yin couldn’t actually have Hard to Wound, obviously, but instead Mass of Viscera which is its own thing that the sabre doesn’t ignore. As such, I bogged down in melee in the middle, managed to hand free points to the opponent by killing their Frame target on turn 2 with my Hunter, and only had the Squat markers flipped for a couple of turns 3 and 4 before getting wiped off the board. Oh, and obviously the enemy chose the two schemes that I was afraid of going into this one, so he walked away with something like a 9-6 win (my Crewfaux didn’t save the final score.)

Obviously, I’d like to have done better than 1-2, but there were some take-aways I could pull from this experience. First of all, I had 20VPs scored in the tournament, which was the 5th overall in the pool. So, I wasn’t having problems scoring VPs, but rather keeping my opponent from scoring theirs. As such, I’m going to try and focus on playing defense in the future to work on my denial game. Second, I’m a little concerned for the Guild in Gaining Grounds 2017. It may just be this particular batch of scheme pools, but Frame for Murder being on a suit really hurts them. Also, I sort of feel like there are more scheme marker based schemes this time around than previously. I think I’m going to need to take a closer look at the math on this one, so look for a post on that coming at some point in the future. Moreover, it’s even worse for McCabe, as he’s sort of vulnerable to Marked for Death and really vulnerable to Neutralize the Leadership. That’s a lot of land mines in GG2017 I might have to watch for in the future when picking masters, and he’s definitely not one I’d recommend for a fixed master tournament. I did, however, have a really fun time playing him. I seem to like support masters quite a lot, so I might play some things along those lines in the future (I do like Hoffman…and many of my crews were basically Hoff crews with McCabe…hmmm…) And finally, I still had fun playing Malifaux despite getting my butt handed to me a couple of times. I’ve heard some advice given to an amateur golfer from a pro: You don’t play enough to get this mad when you do poorly. I think that definitely applies to me. Hopefully, I’ll be able to make it to some more events in the future and refine my skills, such as they are. 

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.