Saturday, January 27, 2018

Mali Gras: Pre-Tournament Planning

               This week’s topic…is something I’m saving for next week. I am going to introduce a new type of post taking a look at particular crews that are powerful in the meta and how best to approach them. However, the fellow I was going to interview about it is a bit busy with UK Masters this weekend, so I’m taking a detour. Let’s have a quick convo about a tournament that’s coming up, and something that occurred to me for how I can approach it.

***

               On the third, I’m taking a trip up to Bristol, TN for a tournament at DeWayne’s World Comics and Games. I’ll be able to do this in part because of funding that you, the MM community have delivered through our Patreon account. Oh, what’s that? You don’t know about Patreon?
               First of all, I know you’re lying, because I’ve written about it on here before. But I’ll do the spiel anyways. Patreon is a way for fans like you to support content creators like Malifaux Musings by donating some money every month. In exchange, you get to unlock individual and group rewards levels. Higher donations mean higher rewards, but all I really want from you, humble reader is $1 a month. I know you’re good for it. If you feel like chipping in more, that’d be great, but let’s get start with $1. Just head over to www.patreon.com/malifauxmusings
               Ahem. Spiel over.
               Anyways, as far as I know this upcoming tournament is going to be Gaining Grounds 2018 with standard rotation. I’m pushing to get rid of the close deployment in Round 1, but for the time being let’s assume it’s staying. That makes the three round tournament 1) Close Deployment + Public Executions, 2) Standard + Ply for Information 3) Corner Deployment + Ours. I don’t believe we have scheme pools yet, but let’s take a look and do some pre-planning.

Round 1

               So, obviously this first round game is going to be about applying a bit of the old ultraviolence, as they say. I’ll probably be playing Collodi a lot this tournament, and this round will be no exception. It’s the killiest Neverborn crew I have, and the one with which I’ve had the most experience. They’re pretty close to finished being painted, and fittingly it’s almost Mardi Gras season. They’ll be able to bring a bit of the festive fun to Bristol this round.

Just point them towards the second line.


               I think the main thing here will be to stay back a bit from the front lines, depending on my opponents. I don’t want to get charged straight off the bat. I can handle a bit of melee, but there are limits. It’s possible I may just deploy per a normal game’s range. In any case, the point of this game will be to bring in the hard hitters and leave the opponent with a trio of unpleasant options to face. Nekima is the first threat. Normally I would pair her up with the Hooded Rider as the other hitter, but we’re going to be in combat early on here and I don’t want to risk losing him early. This may be a good game to break out the Mysterious Emissary, as his condition removal can help to knock some of the Blood off of the enemy crew’s hands to balance out the numbers. Maybe some Stitched can go in that slot instead, or Graves. I’ll have to look closer for what works best when the game comes around. If I do use Stitched I’ll stick with Fated, but if not this may be a game to think about using Bag of Props instead. The Marionettes handing out some Focus to Collodi may help with wrecking the opponents’ crew.

Round 2

               This round’s more about activation control and scheme running than round 1, but a healthy dose of killing is important for defense as well. Killing a model with Ply (or dealing severe damage) knocks the condition off, so that’s a good way to even things up if I fall behind. Getting a few more activations in here than my opponent will be important. The Emissary’s summoning of Changelings (hopefully, though every time I want to summon with him the cards are not there) will help with this, and he can clear the condition with his attack. I’m going to try and come out shooting here, but this one will require playing cagily and killing models before they can get over to me. It’ll be much more about out-activating the opponent early on, then surgically swinging the strategy around with the latter turn activations. So, yeah, more Collodi. Not much else to say. Let’s move on to the next one.

Round 3

               Now, I’ve got a couple of ideas here. One of them is to just keep playing Collodi. There’s nothing specifically about this that he’s not good for, though without Vasilisa or some speed I’ll have a harder time spreading up field and attacking. On the other hand, I have an idea to come at it from a different angle. One of the quirks that happened between later in the playtest process to the final version of GG2018 was the reintroduction of 0SS henchmen counting as 10ss for the purpose of this strategy. That means that a Jacob Lynch crew gets a free 10 stones in Ours. Plus, since he can be buried and then return after being killed, that makes it even tastier. Seems like a pretty good option to me. So, it’s time for some more…

I will literally use any opportunity to put this banner back out.


               I’m thinking a crew with four smashy models is going to be pretty clutch in the current version of GG2018, and this crew’s got it. We’re talking Nekima. We’re talking Hooded Rider. Throw in Lynch and Hungering Darkness for flavor, and it’s gonna be a rough time for whoever comes up against it. I’m planning on working in some cheap activations to get the model count up a bit. Depleted may be a good choice for this, as they count towards the strategy and give us more ways to get Brilliance into the crew. And, of course, Changelings are always a good inclusion. Plus, with this many big beaters, there will be a lot of models to borrow nasty attacks from in my crew.

               So, that’s the game plan. We’ll see how much of it survives the crew building portion of the tournament, but it’s a start. 

Monday, January 22, 2018

Dreamer v. Asami Battle Report: Summoning's good for Ours, right?

Today's post (well, technically Friday's post. I'm late. Sue me) will be a battle report from Vassal where Phiasco and I continued working through Gaining Grounds 2018's January-March rotation, playing Ours. As an aside, we meet regularly for Vassal games Tuesday. You should come join us!

First, some cool Mini-Musings!

Mini-Musings

-Alt Lazarus is here! Sort of! You can't buy him though! But it gives you a new thing to spend your Guilders on! Exclamation marks!!! I want one!!!!

-We mentioned the Wyrdscapes line in a previous post, showing an image of a building they were going to do. Now, they've sent us an image of a much larger span of stuff that could be used to make a whole board. Hopefully it's modular, as this board might be a bit sparse on terrain for an average game, but it definitely looks cool! And expensive. Very, very expensive.

-Fire in the Sky released as a PDF on Drivethru RPG for $15. I recommended it before, and I think I'll do a review of it in the near future, but I like this module a lot. First of all, it takes you Earthside to San Francisco in 1906, integrating a significant incident that happened in the real Earth with The Other Side's fluff in a very cool way. Also, this module has by far the coolest Ongoing Skill Challenge of the game's history, which I cannot recommend enough. It's so cool. Check it out! 

First game of 2018


Strategy: Ours
Deployment: Corner
Schemes: Guarded Treasure, Covert Breakthrough, Show of Force, Search the Ruins, Take One for the Team.

My Crew
Dreamer-Dreams of Pain, Otherworldly, On Wings of Darkness, 7SS
2xDaydreams
Serena Bowman
Mr. Tannen
Hooded Rider-Warped Reality
Bultunginx2
Theory-While summoned models don’t count for Ours, their deaths don’t hurt our side either. As such, I can send them as sacrificial troops, while I use my stuff to score and lay some hits down. The Hooded Rider with Warped Reality makes for a good backfield defender early on and attacker on later decisive turns. Bultungins work well with D and Empty Night, and can make for good cheap flankers on their own. Tannen is there not for the Teddies (though, we’ll see how that goes)
My schemes: Guarded Treasure, Take One for the Team on Tannen

Phiasco’s Crew
Asami Tanaka-A Heavenly Design, Nef. Pact,
Amo No Zako
Ohagaru Betari-A Taste for Flesh
Sun Qiang
2x Ten Thunders Brothers
Chiaki

T1-My opening hand is pitiful. I’m going to have to use Tannen’s ability just to summon a single Stitched Together. Serena made the Hooded Rider and a Bultungin have Black Blood. We spent most of the first turn positioning and setting up for trouble in later turns. I’ll just throw in the screenshot.
Now, that's what I call a control hand.

T2
-Serena and a Bultungin move around a flank away from where the combat is brewing to go and set up for Guarded Treasure. More positioning happens, as I’m trying to cagily avoid the devastating 1 turn charges that Asami’s crews can dish out. I did, however, have an amazing hand including the Red Joker and the 13 of Masks. Dual Teddy summoning? I mean, when was I ever going to have a chance again? Turns out it was probably the wrong choice, however, as Ohagaru Betari then proceeded to charge through both of them and maul them to death before I could heal them up. Whoops. We both score for Ours, so it’s 1-1


Not pictured, 2 Teddies. Sad face.
T3-The Nightmare Bultungin is in a good spot to eat a scheme marker, but can’t do that since the Ten Thunders Brother is there to block it, reaffirming to me how absurdly powerful they are. Bettari wins initiative and attacks my Hooded Rider, causing me to hold my breath in terror before he, instead, threw my Rider away and charged Tannen (clearly trying to make sure that I didn’t summon any more Teddies.) He kills Tannen. I score 2 for Take One for the Team. The Hooded Rider charges the aforementioned Ten Thunders Brother standing in the middle of the scrum, but fails to kill him on the first swing, so I can’t pick up a scheme marker to remove him. The 2nd attack flips a Red Joker, however, so then the scheme marker gets tossed. I congratulate myself on blocking his Guarded Treasure scheme, which I figure is probably a good and useful thing (I was only partially right.) The Dreamer hauls ass to get away from Betty and drops a scheme marker next to the center line for Guarded Treasure. At the end of the turn, only I score for Ours, so I go up 5-1.


We take a one week break. Over the break, I convince myself he’s trying to complete Search the Ruins and Guarded Treasure. I’m half right, as I’ll find out.

T4-The plan for bringing Serena Bowman takes effect (which is good, because I felt kinda dumb for sending her off on her own to score Guarded Treasure uncontested but also not use any abilities. Whoops.) Dreamer now starts using Empty Night to control the Dead Rider and the Bultungin, followed by accomplishing into the Rider, to devastating effect. The two of them take down Amo No Zako and Sun Qiang. Asami, no longer required for handing out 1 AP charges, summons ac ouple of Yokai and uses one of them to bounce Bettari up onto a rock, to prepare for more charging on my master and/or beaters. To try and block him, I walk the Bultungin up onto the rock to engage him (and prevent him from charging away. Some more fiddling happens. Jon opens markers for Search the Ruins, confirming my prediction of his schemes (in my mind.) We both score Ours, so it’s 6-2.


T5-The Dreamer summons Lelu and Lilitu (probably what I should have done instead of the Teddies.) I then Accomplice the Hooded Rider to charge Asami and knock her onto her Hard to Kill and remove a pair of Search the Ruins Markers. Bettari, however, proves that I am wrong about his schemes and escapes from the Bultungin to go drop markers for Covert Breakthrough, rather than Guarded Treasure. I should have seen this coming, since he had 2 Ten Thunders Brothers for scheme runners.) Lelu and Lilitu were summoned in a way to try and block the Guarded Treasure I thought he was doing, so their attempts now to Lure and Pounce on her to finish her is no longer relevant. Jon’s other 10T Brother runs into the backfield to drop another marker. When we total the points up, we see that he’s managed to catch up to me, and the game ends in an 8-8 tie. So, yeah. That kinda sucked.But it's Phiasco and I, so who was surprised? Not me. This is what happens when we play.

But, but...Guarded Treasure?

Lessons

-Summoning Teddies is cute. And super greedy (if you’re familiar with CCG terminology.) It’s not the most efficient use of cards, though. Lelu and Lilitu summons would probably have been better on that turn, and in general.

-The experiment of whether Tannen’s ability to smooth out the “mana curve” of summoning by buffing masks is ongoing. I wouldn’t have been able to summon at all on turn 1 without him, and it let me summon two stupid Teddies. Both are outliers, and the experimentalist in me says that means I should throw those results out. More testing is needed.

-Trying to spot the enemy’s scheme choices mid-game are what you need to do. However, don’t marry yourself too hard to your prediction, as you can be wrong. There was literally a space of this game where it legit looked like Phiasco was going for Guarded Treasure (it was a Search marker and I misread his intent.) And, if you don’t know what the enemy’s schemes are, no lead is safe. Be prepared. Hood


Friday, January 12, 2018

January 2018 Errata Initial Overreactions

Science joke!


I mean, what else could we be talking about this week than the errata? Let’s just get to the mini-musings and then we can talk about the new stuff.

 But first, did you know we're supported by Patreon? Yeah, dude, we totally are! Thanks to our patrons, I was able to actually buy the first Malifaux mini I've picked up in almost a year. Every person my Iggy Incites will be thanks to you guys! And the best part is, I just want $1 a month from you. So why don't you go join in?!?Punctuation!?!?


Mini-Musings

-There’s a new PDF available for Through the Breach. It’s a Penny Dreadful collecting the story from the previous year’s time travelling world event, A Stitch in Time. A terrible accident has happened, and your characters are tossed into Malifaux’s past, into the days of the first breach. You have to find a way to get back without significantly changing the future, battling an infamous necromancer from the city’s history and facing a terrible threat that still menaces the city today. It’s $15. Go get it.

-Wyrd’s also getting into the terrain business, starting with their Wyrdscapes line. There was a preview posted about a month ago. It looks like this.

-Aaron’s looking for a new moderator for the forums. PM him if you want to throw your name in. If you need me to give you a link to the thread...maybe you aren't right for the job.


-Results from the Iron Painter are in. The Bronze finalists joined with everyone who completed the painting to be entered into a raffle, resulting in the winners argailwall, Annanas, Zanna, Nathillien, Dlenok, beergod, Reservoir Dog, sycorax, Citames, and Senya1987. The silver tier winners were sleepwalker, Demonn Agram, icatsai, and glamage, while the runners up were TheArtofWargaming, Joe Cool, Hellogre, and neveroddoreven. And finally, in the duel for first place, Octavus came out ahead of Whirler. Congrats to them, and to everybody who made it through to the end!

Overreaction Theater!


               So, if you weren’t around for the silly story behind it, about a week ago an update pushed for the Bad Things Happen app that contained what we would later discover was the updated stats for the cards. It was an odd sort of glitch and feels like it wasn’t intended, as it also kinda broke the thing. About a day later, the errata document released (along with Gaining Grounds 2018. Keep an eye on next month’s Wyrd Chronicles for my thoughts on that.) And, of course, people went a little nuts. Not as nuts as one tends to expect from gamers when you mess with their toys, but there were certainly pockets of people losing their collective shit. It happens, not a big deal.


               So what changed? Actually, surprisingly little. Some folk were expecting quite a bit more (your humble Bloggist among them). Nicodem crews were essentially untouched, for instance, despite the collective wailing and tooth gnashing of seemingly the entire UK. Nothing was done about the seemingly unintended first-turn-unburying of a Viktoria by the Scion of the Void, though this could just be a matter of "wait and see." Most of the changes came in the form of soulstone adjustments, usually 1 stone up or down. That may not seem like much, and in a lot of cases it isn’t really that big of a deal, but in some others it is a huge difference. I've found it’s useful to think of it in terms of overall percentage of the soulstone cost that was changed. So, while a one stone increase on Yasunori might not make that huge of a difference, reducing the cost of a Hoarcat Pride by a stone brings it down by 20%. That’s a big deal. In some cases, these soulstone changes are exactly what the doctor ordered, as the problem with an otherwise good model was just the cost. In some other cases, changing soulstone cost can’t fix a model that flat out needs a redesign. The Ice Golem is probably the posterboy for this. It’s an awesome model. People want to play with the thing, but it has Defense of 2. No number of reduced soulstones will make up for that.

               So, let’s get the pain out of the way now: Gremlins players are probably a little bummed, as they got by far the largest number of “cuddles.” Specifically, McTavish, Burt Jebsen, and Francois Lacroix all went up by a point. In exchange, there were relatively few reductions to models that most would classify as “good,” though expect to see a few more Bayou Bushwackers and Whiskey Golems on the board. Taken individually, none of the increases are debilitating. If you liked Francois, there’s nothing to stop you from still playing him, and he’ll work just as well as he always did, killing things worth way more points than he costs. And I honestly doubt that many people are going to argue that those models didn't need to have their value increased by 1 (especially Franc, who was pretty much in EVERY gremlin crew.) The thing is, though, if you were bringing all of them (which was not uncommon) then now that’s an increase of 3. That’s starting to hurt. That's a whole Bayou Gremlin. Additionally, Bert and McTavish’s value as mercenaries is probably in the tank, and Nellie crews (which often took the two of them) take a small hit as well. That’s where these nerfs hit hardest, when you’re selecting several models whose cost was increased. Now, how much of an effect will this have overall? I suppose it depends how reliant on these models your crews were, and how unwilling you are to experiment with something else. It’s painful to get your stuff nerfed, there’s no doubt about it, but you’ll survive. Maybe take this opportunity to try something new, a master you’ve had in your bag for a while and not tried or maybe even dip a toe into another faction for a little break before you come back to your greenskins. Ulix, Mah Tucket, and the Brewmaster all got some nudges in the good direction recently, so maybe consider giving them a shot. The crews you’re playing now will still be waiting for you when you decide to come back and figure out how best to make them run.

               The only non-soulstone cost changes were for Misaki’s Thunder Upgrade and Seamus’ Sinister Reputation. The former reduced the range at which her blast markers could be placed down to 8” from 12 and removed the clause that made the damage irreducible (arguably the bigger of the two nerfs.) This isn’t exactly unexpected, as the main feedback from the UK Grant Tournament were horror stories of her blasting nearly entire crews on the first and second turns. I haven’t had the pleasure of facing it in person, but those I’ve spoken to have let me know that, while it isn’t an unbeatable combination by any stretch, getting caught on the wrong side of it when not prepared is kind of a negative play experience and bad for Malifaux . So, while I’m sad that the Mistress of the Thunders is getting knocked back down right after finally starting to pull herself up, I’m glad to see things change in a way that’s better for the game. The Gremlin changes kinda fall into the same category, tbh, as it should promote diversity away from the more standard builds to some new ideas and some increased variety. One might be surprised that more wasn’t done to do the same for Outcasts (who have a similar problem), but I’m not a game designer. Sinister Rep, on the other hand, actually got a buff, in that it now is able to be used as a 1” close combat attack in addition to a ranged attack. 1) I think that this is a good change, though it probably makes Bag O’ Tools completely unnecessary and 2) I don’t understand why this needed to be done right now. There are other things that one would have expected to be more pressing and require more immediate attention, and I don’t recall hearing a great clamor in the community to buff Seamus. But, then again, he is kind of the face of the faction, and in addition to Teddy was probably one of the two main draws to pull people into Malifaux in the first place. Maybe this was a marketing move? I don’t know. In any case, it exists, so use it. The boogy man of Malifaux just got a lot...boogier? Sigh. Ignore me. 

Other factions were more of a mixed bag. Most of the Resurrectionist cost reductions really just translate to “now it’s easier to summon them” rather than increasing the likelihood of their hiring, and the Nurse going up by 1 hurts Zoraida more than anybody else. Hayreddin dropping by a point is interesting, though, as I’ve always thought there was something pretty good with that model. The Outcasts got probably the most even split of buffs and nerfs, as Johan, the Trapper, and Ashes and Dust all went up by 1 (making A&D the first 14 point model in the game) but reductions to Bishop, Hans, the Scramble upgrade, and Desperate Mercs (3 pt Mercs!) help them out in unexpected ways. The Ten Thunders models that went up in cost people will probably keep using anyways (Terracotta Warrior and Yasunori.) Yamaziko at 6SS is a bargain, so expect to see a lot of ninja granny in the future, particularly as she can carry the upgrade for the automatic 3 point score on public demonstration. The Dawn Serpent coming down by one is a welcome sight for McCabe players as well as Marcus. I don’t know if Ototo coming down by 1 is enough to warrant fielding him, but I hope so, as I like Ototo in general. The Guild are probably the biggest “Meh” of these changes, though given the fact that they got a lot of love in Book 5, maybe they didn’t need a lot of help. Guild Guards are now in the 3ss club. Lead Lined coat being a point cheaper means you’ll maybe have to stop and think if you want it versus a third Debt to the Guild. The Judge has always been overcosted, but moving him down one just puts him the same pile of 8ss hench’s that Guild’s always had, and he’s still not as good as Franc or Phiona. The rest is pretty forgettable.

Get your paws ONTO this damn dirty ape. No? I'll see myself out...

               Now let’s talk about fun stuff. A lot of interesting models had their costs reduced as well. Probably the biggest of these was the Arcanists’ favorite ape, Cojo, who got a whopping -2 reduction. Cojo’s abilities were always good, but at his old price tag he was just too expensive to be worth the buy. Not so, now. Expect to see lots of him throwing your scheme markers and models around soon. Additionally, the Hooded, Pale, and Dead Riders all saw their costs reduced by 2 as well. I don’t know enough about the other two to comment for certain on the viability of this, but I love the Hooded and often preferred him over Nekima when they were only two points different. I’ll take him at 10 all day every day. More generally, the Riders are some of the coolest models in the game, so anything that gets more of them on the table I support. My current faction, the Neverborn, probably saw the biggest spread of reductions to decent models in general, with Baby Kade, Bad Juju, the Beckoner, Lelu, and Bunraku all going down a point. The Arcanists are the other faction that could potentially make an argument for “most improved,” as the handful of good models that saw buffs from this saw significant improvements, including the aforementioned Cojo, the now spammable Hoarcat Prides, and The Captain+Patron’s Blessing getting a cumulative -2 cost as well. This helps offset the pain of Johan going up, and lets people use what most people thought was a very good but too expensive model. 

               What difference will all of this make overall? Tough to say, though I would put money on “not as much as you might think.” In the end, most of these changes were still just a stone. There were a reason a lot of these models weren’t being hired, and after an initial burst of experimentation, don’t be surprised if a lot of people just go back to using what they had before. Some, however, will definitely stick, and just the fact that it brings things closer to the middle and promotes diversity is likely better for the game overall. I can appreciate the philosophy behind sticking to soulstone cost modifications rather than rewriting rules in general, and the logic behind leaving book 4 and 5 alone for now is sound, but I do feel there were things that could (and maybe should) have been addressed that weren’t handled here. Maybe we’ll see some more tweaks over the summer. The next round of major tournaments (keep an eye on Winter Murderland in DC and the UK Masters) will tell us more.


               I’m sure you have a number of opinions that differ from mine. Feel free to comment and share them, and as always, thank you for reading! 

Friday, January 5, 2018

First Hobby Round-Up of 2018: Iron Painter 2017 Gold Finalists

We're still in the early stages of recovery from holiday break, so it's perhaps a blessing that today's post is a hobby roundup. To begin with, let's take a look at the Iron Painter. The last round's theme was Snowpocalypse, and has finished up. Voting is going on now. Congratulations to everyone who made it through to this point! I'm going to feature the entries of the two Gold finalists, but everybody who made it through to the end is a winner.

The first competitor for the final prize is Octavus, who submitted this entry, featuring an encounter between some gasmasked figures with a "Spirit of Christmas." The diorama is highlighted by photo-realistic images of missing people pasted to the board of the building behind them (click and blow it up to see them more clearly).


The second entry was submitted by Whirler. This diorama features a party of elves travelling through the snow, along with a Tolkein quote. The realism of the faces, particularly on the crouching woman, is stunning.


I don't envy the judges their choice between these two amazing entries. And, again, let me point out that these two are not the only entries. The Silver, Bronze, and even those who had been eliminated but continued to paint submitted some great work as well. Check it all out, and go submit your votes for the Bronze categories. 

***

To swing hard in the other direction, I did a bit of work since the last of these posts. I was going to Dawn's team event last month that ended up not happening and needed to play Ten Thunders, so I got some paint on a couple of staples, the Terracotta Warrior and Ten Thunders Brother, and a proxy for a Wave 5 model, Gwynneth Maddox. This was my first real try at working with white primer. I'm pleased with how it went, though I'm not crazy about the specific primer I used (too think, chokes out some details.) Still, I think they turned out well.




***

Finally, I've done my usual perusing of the Wyrd place painting submissions, picking out a few things that jumped out and drew my attention. First, there's a Spawn Mother that looks very impressive, painted by Adam Huenecke.


Next, there have of course been a number of people painting the holiday themed alternate Rasputina boxed set. I appreciated this version of the Festivus Arboreus by Al Jardines.


Next, continuing with the winter theme, here's a version of the more classic Rasputina crew staple, the Snowstorm, painted by Dragon Slayer Models.



And lastly, to warm things up a bit, here's the alternate Santiago Ortega model, Santana, done by Ravenswood Studios.



Every time I see this sculpt, I want to play my Ortega crew again, especially as I can now use her as Monster Hunter. Hmm. *gets wrist slapped by Pandora* Yes, ma'am. Neverborn or bust. I know...

***

Lastly, I'd like to direct some of you to a poll I put up on the Malifaux Musings Facebook page. I'm collecting data to try and aim posts to more of the content people specifically are interested in. Go over there, give us a FB like, and make your voice heard! I want to keep the blog's growth going!

And with that, I'll pass on one last bit of Holiday cheer, sent to me by the people of Wyrd. I know some of you read the blog, so I thought I'd let you know that the holiday card really made my day. It's my privilege to contribute my small part of making Wyrd grow, and I'm looking forward to what I can do in the coming year.


Saturday, December 30, 2017

2017 Wrap-Up Post

It’s the end of the year. This is a point in time where we look back on things. Reflect. It’s weird that we do that, right? I mean, all we did was go around the sun. But, anyways, that’s what we do, and that’s what we’re going to do in today’s post. Whether you like it or not! Why am I being so aggressive? Have the voices finally gotten to me? Maybe you’re being too aggressive! MAYBE IT’S YOUR PROBLEM!
*gloved hand rests on my shoulder*
Pandora: Calm down, dear. It’s just a Malifaux Musings intro. Nothing to get so worked up over.
Ah, of course. Yes. Nothing to get worked up over. It’ll all be fine. Let’s just talk about 2017, shall we?
*Pandora smiles, while quietly closing her puzzle box behind me*

***

               The last half of this year brought me the objective of focusing on a faction. I have a terminal case of Magpie Syndrome, which I’ve mentioned before, and it takes a conscious effort of will to force myself to sit with one crew/master/faction for long enough to actually become good at it. To counter this, I used my platform on facebook to post a poll and pass the burden off to you: what do you want me to play? I composed a list of masters I’ve owned for a while but haven’t actually gotten onto the table. The Facebook universe, of course, pointed out to me that polls allow you to add your own choices to the list. Suddenly, I discovered that the public had added Parker Barrows who I don’t own and Collodi who I didn’t particularly like. Well, I guess that made the choice clear, and yet I knew I was going to start cutting if I had to play Collodi over and over again. I didn’t get him. I knew it was going to be hard. And I knew there were other things I would rather play more. Thankfully, Jon volunteered to run Parker and the solution appeared: we would alternate our games, and I would focus on the Neverborn faction as a whole.
Well, the reality is that this isn’t exactly the same as focusing long enough to get good at something. My first couple of games with Collodi  were…painful. I didn’t understand what his role was in the crew. I tried putting Hinamatsu out onto the board and I totally boned her activations and placement, ending in more failure. I was about to wrap up the Collodi experiment entirely after the first few games out of sheer frustration. And then, somehow, getting my ass-kicked by Alex Schmid taught me how he’s supposed to work.
I thought, initially, that Collodi’s purpose on the board was force multiplier/debuff spreader/support piece. I was wrong. Collodi’s role on the board is to murder things. He doesn’t look like it, since his main attack only does 2/3/4. Don’t let that fool you. He’s a machine gunner, and his job is to get pushed into position to shoot whatever model from the opponent’s crew goes too far forward until it dies. That’s it. He has an aura that lets things take a couple points of damage to gain fast. He does have the ability to put personal puppet on things and use My Will at clutch moments to score VP. But that’s not why he’s there. He’s there to kill things. That’s his job, period, and he’s very good at it.
There is a bubble in the crew, but this isn’t a bubble crew. The Marionettes can feel free to run all over the place, and honestly that’s what they should be doing because they’re very cheap activations and, if there are no schemes to accomplish, they should be running around being obnoxious. It takes way too much AP for the opponent to kill them off, but there’s so many of them that they can’t be ignored. The effigies are good at their job, but the Shadow only really needs to do it for the first couple of turns to keep the crew safe on early days and then he can wander off to go do what he needs to do. The Arcane Effigy should be amazing on paper, but mine has literally never done anything in any game. I treat him like an umbrella: every time you remember to bring it you won’t need it, and the first time you forget it’s going to be a downpour. Hinamatsu needs to stay in there until it’s time to attack, because gaining Fast on her is just silly (5 AP on my beater? Sure, I’ll take that.) But it isn’t the most important thing, and she can go do her job without it (I think she’s almost better as a Linebacker, but then again I’m starting to look at most beaters that way.)
The Brutal Effigy is the most important model in the crew beyond Collodi. If the opponent can kill it, they bloody well should, because Collodi can be absurdly reckless with the knowledge that his attacks can heal him back without a whole lot of effort. Also, his little pop-gun is pretty useful to push Collodi up the board. That’s the other thing I didn’t think about, because I never think of these types of tricks. Collodi’s Mask trigger on defense lets him push 3” on resolution, so you either 1) Miss the shot and get a free push or 2) Get hit for, most likely, 1 damage, and then push. I often miss these sorts of things because, honestly, they feel “game”-y and I don’t like them. I wish they weren’t in Malifaux, and it’s one of the things about the Collodi crew that I still don’t find to be “fun.” It’s effective, because every AP you spend on walking is one you don’t have for machine-gunning. But, at the same time, I wish it didn’t have to be there to play the crew to the best of its abilities. Sigh. I’m griping, I know, but this stuff irritates me.

***



As for the rest of the faction, I dipped a toe into a lot of crews. I’m really intrigued by Dreamer, mostly because the idea of using Empty Night to push a Bultungin for 2 free attacks sounds amazing and because I haven’t played a summoner before. Plus, I have a feeling that the Dreamer is currently falling into the category of “nobody plays this master anymore because of the nerfs, despite the fact that the nerfs really didn’t hurt him that much.” I really feel like he’s stronger than he looks, and I want to find out in person. Also, I think Serena Bowman is really a lot better than people give her credit. She’s expensive, and the question of whether those points could be used better is real, but I want to try it out for myself. A Mature Nephilim that counts as a Nightmare and can be led around by the crew sounds pretty ok.
As an aside, I’m also learning a lot of that last lesson: Go play the models on the board, because the internet is wrong a lot (this blog included). Malifaux is a very complex game with a whole lot of different models that do a whole lot of different things, and nobody can possibly understand how all of this stuff works together. Most peoples’ opinions of models comes from secondhand opinions rather than firsthand experience. The Mysterious Emissary, I’ve always thought, was a very good model that I liked a lot. And yet, somehow, every podcaster and online opinion I listened to for a long while said “It’s the worst. It’s anti-synergy. The summons are unreliable. Don’t take it.” So, you know, I kept quietly trying it every now and then, but I let it sit aside and assumed I was wrong. Thankfully, I started listening to the Max Value podcast and interacting with Alex on Facebook and twitter, and I realized that “Oh, yes, actually this model’s really good. You just have to be flexible with what you expect and assume that any summons or hungry land markers you get off of it are a bonus.” So, yeah, I guess the lesson is “use the online opinions as opinions, not truth. Only use your own experiences to make your final conclusions.”
Anyway, back to the wrap-up. I also tried Titania with Barbaros a couple of games. Interstingly, Titania didn’t do a damned thing in either game I used her, while Barbaros was the MVP of both games. Go figure. I think that guy is a lot better model than he gets credit for, and I want to play him more. If he was, like, one stone cheaper he’d be in every crew, I think. If we somehow end up playing in the future, expect to see Barbaros, because he’s most likely going to be there. I tried Pandora’s summoning list and it was ok, but the reality is that I didn’t play it as well as I could have and, coincidentally, ran into a hot pile of Charm Warders making my summons die almost immediately. Also, I was sort of looking at the Sorrows as the real purpose of the upgrade, but a recent episode of Max Value pointed out that the Poltergeist is really the gem of that list. I’m excited to give it a try and make people sad. Sad, sad, sad. Beyond that, I only got the one game with Lillith against Alex, and that sort of underscored that I need to play her more, and stick to gameplans. I think she’s a good defensive model, but she’s brittle. She’s a lot like the rest of the faction in that regard, really. Also, I need to stop thinking of Tangled Shadows as an offensive ability. It looks like one. It has the ability to target enemy models. But her low Ca for that action means that, in truth, that spell is much more reliable and, therefore, much more effective, when used to move your stuff around rather than to snatch enemy models to you. Don’t fall into that trap. She’s much better at rooting things, disrupting the enemy with terrain, and acting as an ambush predator to pick off enemies that are exposed.

***

Speaking of Phiasco and I’s crew building challenges, we played a sort of “wrap-up” game with them on Vassal. This all started back in August with a game between Collodi and Parker, and this was our chance to match them up again and see what we’ve learned.

               We’ve been steadily working through the Gaining Grounds Jan-Mar rotation, and were now up to Standard Deployment-Ply for Information. The scheme pool was Surround Them, Dig Their Graves, Set Up, Recover Evidence, and Public Demonstration. My crew was Collodi with Fated, Strum, and Aether Connection. 4xMarionette, Hinamatsu w/ 1000 Faces, Mysterious Emissary-Conflux of Music, Arcane, Brutal, and Shadow Effigies. Phiasco had Parker with Black Market and Crate of Dynamite, Hannah, 1 Wokou Raider, 2 Librarians, 2 Ronin, and 1 Malifaux Child. I deployed on the right side of our board because I thought it would take away the most of Phiasco’s access to blocking terrain. Everybody was inside the Collodi 6” bubble to start with. Parker’s crew was mostly together, outside of one of the Librarians who was sitting in the upper right corner, presumably to work on Surround Them.

               Turn 1 had the usual assortment of jostling, prepping, and positioning. I saw that the Parker crew was likely going to have to squeeze through some choke points to get to me, so I used the fast M.E. to jump up and clog the one he initially moved towards with a Hungry Land marker. Shadow Emissary buff was spread through the crew to protect them from shooting (though, in retrospect, this was really unnecessary against the crew Phiasco brought.) Hinamatsu sort of cagily redeployed himself to block the surrounding Librarian. At the end of the turn I sent Collodi up to go take some shots at Hannah. She’s pretty resilient to Collodi’s damage (is there an effigy buff to get around armor? Cuz that’d be neat…) but I did manage to use Obey to make her walk through a Hungry Land marker, which was cute.

Hungry Land Markers are annoying.

               Turn 2 Jon won initiative and used a Librarian to heal Hannah and counter-punch at Collodi. She got one shot before I pushed back out of her way. Meanwhile the Emissary moved to go block the other path, forcing Phiasco’s crew to walk through the forests or risk getting chomped. I moved a Marionette to go Ply Hannah for information, which seemed to make her mad, as she then turned around and dropped a Red Joker damage smash that pummeled Marionettes, Shadow Effigies, and the Mysterious Emissary. Realizing how tough of a nut Hannah was going to be to crack, Collodi changed targets to kill a Wokou Raider for Dig Their Graves, using an incidental scheme marker one of the puppets threw down earlier. Phiasco had moved his Ronin to try and either set up an easy kill on a Marionette or had sniffed out my Surround Them and wanted to stop him from going after it. Hinamatsu soaked up some Fast and snatched the Ronin out of the way, knocking him down to her Hard to Kill but falling short of killing her. Parker moved in behind to also cut off the Surround Them and get in a better position to smoke Hinamatsu. The Librarian shuffled down to take advantage of the opening from Hinamatsu’s repositioning. Figuring that he wasn’t going to get another chance for it, he revealed Public Demonstration at the end of the turn to at least score 1 off of it from the Ronin and Hinamatsu.

Really, really annoying. =

               Turn 3 Jon won initiative again and activated the Ronin, stabbing Hinamatsu for a big chunk of damage and then sacrifices it to keep me from killing it for Dig. Parker used his ability to nudge the Librarian along towards completing Surround Them, but Hinamatsu ran her down and killed her first. Collodi used My Will to instruct the Brutal Effigy to ply the other Ronin in the crew for information and then killed him for Dig Their Graves. The Mysterious Emmisary shifted one of his Hungry Land markers so he could walk into it and engage Hannah in melee, as well as creating a running lane for another of my Marionettes to move to the bottom left corner of the board for Surround. Another Marionette ran up and plied Parker, ensuring I scored the strat again this turn.
               Phiasco went ahead and called it at this point, as he wasn’t sure he would be able to score anymore VPs. Assuming worst-case scenario for me, the game was likely going to end something like 6-3, but we were pretty confident I would end up with the win.
               At this time, I’m starting to get Collodi and understand what he does to be effective. As I said, using the triggers for pushes is a pet peeve, and I don’t think the crew will do particularly well in games where the board is very spread out or where the enemy has a lot of armor. That armor problem could be a real bugbear, actually, so I’m going to have to figure out a way around that at some point.
               Phiasco's thoughts on Parker seem to be that he does a number of interesting things, but it’s too hard to get them to work. There’s an expression some Magic: The Gathering players use where you ask what a card asks of you to make it work. All of the TNs, suits, and resources required to do Parker’s stuff makes him kind of sub-optimal. He might be better in single-master environments where his versatility is an asset rather than making him a Jack-of-All-Trades and Master-of-None, but right now he’s not sure how much he’s going to go forward with him. For now, we’ve suspended our “First I play Collodi, then you play Parker” rule. We’ll see how much we see of each crew going forward.

***

               Lastly, I’d like to say a word about Malifaux Musings itself. It’s been a bit of an up-and-down ride for me in Malifaux this year. It’s undoubtedly been a year of growth. If you google “Malifaux blog,” we’re the first thing that comes up, and I’m pretty proud of that. Also, I’ve had the good fortune to be tapped regularly by Wyrd to write for their bimonthly ezine, Wyrd Chronicles. I’ve written a couple of Through the Breach adventures and a few tactical articles, most of which I’m quite proud of. I’m actually getting a little bit of money for my gaming, rather than it just being a drain on my family’s finances every month, which makes me happy. I also managed to put together a draft of half of a novel about my Death Marshal character, Thaddeus Burns. I’d hoped to get more done, but novels are hard.
               On the other hand, I had thought to tap into the massive popularity surge the blog picks up annually when Gencon is rolling around to launch a Patreon campaign. Inspired by a couple of other content creators, I thought that I would ask for only a dollar from the people who read the blog on a regular basis (much like Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History podcast) and would offer a monthly raffle of Wyrd stuff as an incentive to get people to chip in. This is what Kyle (aka Khyodee) does for Schemes and Stones, and he has been quite successful with it. Imagine my surprise, then, when we barely got off the ground. At most we had half a dozen patrons, and that number has actually started to shrink! Needless to say, I’m a little bit stumped. $1 doesn’t seem like that much to me, but maybe I’m not offering the sort of content people are specifically looking for. I’ll be putting up some polls in the New Year to try and correct this. But, in any case, for the time being I’ve suspended the raffle (as I couldn’t rationalize continuing it when it was costing me money every month).

               2017 was a tough one for a lot of us, as most of you know. On a personal level, my wife is finishing up her nursing degree. A member of my family had a medical emergency and moved in to live with us. Money’s been tight. Science funding is getting scarcer and scarcer, which has left me evaluating just exactly what I want to do for my career in the immediate future. And, of course, an authoritarian government has seized control, cracking down on a number of groups and individuals we all hold dear (I’m referring to the new Governor-General, of course. Who did you think I meant?). There’s been a lot of struggle, but I’m grateful for gaming and Malifaux specifically for a respite from it. I’m hoping that 2018 is going to be a year of growth, when I’m able to participate more frequently in tournament events and where I can keep Malifaux Musings expanding towards our goal of becoming the best Malifaux resource on the web. I hope you’ll come along with us. 

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Malifaux Musings 2017 Christmas Special: I'm Dreaming of a Green Christmas!

Your humble bloggist has been somewhat slack at the wheel of late. Life's been kind of nuts these last several weeks. Hopefully we'll get back on track for 2018. To make up for it, I threw in a little extra this time. In addition to the standard Mini-Musings, we've got an article on 5 tips to improve combats in the Through the Breach RPG, followed by a Story Encounter themed around a...non-traditional Christmas story. 

Mini-Musings

-To no one's great surprise, the Sandmen won the Homefront event for The Other Side. As an aside, if you're trying to bet on who's going to win a worldwide event for Wyrd, just figure out where the Neverborn fans, particularly the Dreamer fans, are going and bet that way. It's a thing. Along with it, the Gremlins managed to pull out the victory Malifaux side, so the Nightmare box will be themed around them at Gencon this year. What could it be? Well, my family and I were watching the aforementioned unorthodox Christmas movie last night, and I might have some ideas...

If Phoebe Cates is included in the boxed set, that'd move a lot of units all by itself.

-In other TOS news, an image was released of the Guild models that will be joining their Syndicate for the game, including a familiar face. Looks like Nytemare isn't the only Malifaux resident with an interest in how the war is going Earthside.




-Iron Painter has moved into the fifth and final round. The theme is Snowpocalypse. Best of luck to all the competitors. 

5 Ways To Improve Your Through the Breach Combats!

Through the Breach doesn't always get the love that it deserves, and I'm going to do my best over the next year or so to try and correct that. To start, I thought I'd mention a few tips I use to make combats better for my groups. Enjoy!

1)     Include more variety!
One of the things that I see newer referees for RPGs do is line up a series of encounters where the party faces, essentially, a squad of guardsmen, followed by another squad with a few more guardsmen, followed by even more guardsmen, this time with a boss of some sort. While this horde of faceless minions works great for action movies, if you don’t do something to break up the monotony it can get stale pretty fast. Repetition leads to dull, bored players most of the time. Mix your encounters up. Throw in some other stuff. Maybe that second encounter is with a team of riflemen, and the third features a Riotbreaker or a Peacekeeper. Adding in varieties of opponents helps to offset the monotony and keep your players engaged figuring out what is coming for them next.  

2)     Describe the action!

Way too often, I see combats turn into players and fatemasters quoting numbers at each other. If your players’ attacks keep turning into “I shoot my gun at him. I do three damage,” it falls on the Fatemaster to spice it up. After they tell you how much damage they did, describe the action back to him. “You drive the edge of your saber along his side, gashing his ribcage,” is much more exciting than “you hit him with your sword for two.” If you do it well and are gently encouraging to your players, you’ll notice them start to do it on their own. The critical table helps a lot with this, as they tell you A) where you hit and B) the effect it causes when dealing crit damage, but you can always punch up the narration from there. And the absolute best way of using this I’ve found comes from the Dungeons and Dragons podcast Critical Role. Expert DM Matthew Mercer hands narrative control over to his players when one of them kills the last enemy in a combat or the main villain of an adventure by letting them describe how their character delivers the final blow. The positive effect of this “how do you want to do this” technique is to add some personalization to the action and to give your players a chance to add some characterization to their Fated, by showing if they’re quick, efficient killers or brutal, sadistic monsters that take pleasure in dealing out the gore.

3)     Location, location, location!

This one probably doesn’t need as much explanation to the miniature gamers that make up the vast majority of the Through the Breach playing population, but the terrain in which a combat occurs can make a huge difference in increasing its memorability. A fight against Jacob Lynch’s Hungering Darkness is going to be scary, but it’s made that much more intimidating if it happens in a storm sewer on the edge of a rushing torrent of sludge headed out to one of Malifaux’s rivers (especially when he starts compelling your drug-addled minds to jump in for a swim.) Bandits running down your wagon is a pretty standard wild-west encounter, but the most memorable versions of it usually involve the stagecoach driver getting shot and killed, causing the horses to run out of control while your characters try desperately to fend off their attackers and stop the carriage from going over a cliff. How much more epic is the final struggle of the Lord of the Rings between Frodo and Gollum that it happens on the lip of a giant pool of magma? The knowledge that one wrong step could lead to certain doom will always ratchet up the tension!

4)     Don’t be afraid to be cruel but fair!

For people that are new to roleplaying games, the first time you take the helm and serve as Fatemaster you’ll be tempted to go one of two ways: crush your players underneath the weight of your killer encounters or try and protect them by fudging dice rolls and shifting things in their favor. The former is just you being a hateful kid frying ants with a magnifying glass, and will likely end with you not having any more players. The latter is harder to do in this game, since everything happens off of the same fate deck and no actions get resolved behind your Fatemaster’s Screen, but you can always nudge down the damage on an attack or a creature’s acting value to help your Fated out in a pinch. And I’m here to tell you: don’t. Don’t do it. If the encounter is fair and things are just not going in your players’ favor, let them struggle. Let them fail. Besides creating D&D and, more indirectly, roleplaying in general, the thing that E. Gary Gygax is most famous for is being an absolute killer Dungeon Master. You’re not the players’ friend when you take your seat at the head of the table, you’re the referee. And, trust me, they will remember the game more fondly if it feels like they had to overcome real challenges to succeed. The best DM I ever played with was an absolute bastard who once had a possessed NPC throw my character’s five your old child OFF OF A CLIFF IN FRONT OF ME, and believe it or not that isn’t the worst thing I’ve seen him do during a game!
               Now, to temper that message somewhat, I don’t like that DM because I’m some kind of masochist who enjoys being punished at the RPG table (I enjoy that sort of thing in an entirely different context…I’ve said too much.) I like him because the stakes feel real. His monsters are REAL monsters, who REALLY have evil intentions and will cause the characters REAL harm if given the opportunity. If you screw up, there will be no grey-bearded wizard flying down from the sky on a deus ex machina to bail you out. You’ll deal with the consequences, no matter how dire they turn out to be. However, his games are not inherently unfair. Challenging? Yes. But not unfair. Just as often, we’ve mopped up his encounters faster than he’s expected because we rolled well or did something he didn't expect.
                 In Through the Breach this can be a real issue, as the damage system and low numbers of wounds for both Fated and Fatemaster characters can make combat very swingy. A Red Joker for damage at the right time can spell disaster for a character who was otherwise succeeding valiantly, and as a Fatemaster it is up to you to recover from it. Red Joker for damage, followed by a 13 on the critical table? That character’s in bad shape. Sometimes you get unlucky. That’s combat for you. I promise you, however, even if they never tell you this to your face (and possibly curse you for being such a jerk), they will appreciate a game more where they feel real danger than one where it feels like they’re always buckled into their seatbelts with an airbag ready to deploy in case of emergency.

5)     Run with your players’ ideas.

This one ties in a bit with the previous entry, but it’s really about working with your players rather than against them. The real magic of an RPG comes from the interplay between the encounters you create and the ideas your players devise on their own. All of the best stories from tabletops come when the characters wander off the route you had charted for them and come up with something you never anticipated. At the base level, playing a roleplaying game is very much like participating in an improvised theater scene. Learning the basics, particularly learning to “Yes, and…” or “No, but…” the other players’ ideas can increase the enjoyment a hundred fold. If your players ask a question like “Is there any rope nearby?” it probably means they had a creative idea they want to try out, and they need you to give them permission to put it into action. In those circumstances, even if I had absolutely no intention for there to be any rope handy when I wrote the encounter, if I can rationalize it for the setting where the combat is occurring, I try to do it. IE: You’re in the middle of a Knotwood forest. Sorry. There’s no rope…but maybe you can use a vine?
Of course, the standard caveats apply. If it doesn’t really fit with the theme of what you’re trying to create in your game to allow someone to use a Mind Control Magia to force a Cerberus to shove its heads up its butt (you can laugh, but watch a game with comedian Brian Posehn and you’ll probably hear something equally silly before the game is over), then maybe you’ll have to step in and do something to discourage it. Maybe the creature just gets stuck trying to twist and contort in an odd shape for a round, until it shakes it off and realizes how ridiculous its being and goes back to mauling you to death. But, again, don’t just say “No.” Work with your players. They’re as much a part of creating that vaunted story and theme as you are, possibly moreso (they do outnumber you, after all.) If they’re trying to play one kind of game and you’re trying to play another, then maybe you need to find your way to some kind of middle ground.
Hopefully, these tips will help people improve their Through the Breach combats, and help you create memorable games your players will be talking about afterwards.

                                                                        ***

So, as alluded to previously, I watched Gremlins with my kids yesterday. I like to throw in something Christmassy to honor the season (here’s a link to my version of the three ghosts from A Christmas Carol. I’m still particularly proud of the Ghost of Christmas Present.) This year I decided to try something new: a story encounter. 

               Is it fair or balanced? Probably not. Have I playtested it? Nope! Does it make sense that these Gremlins aren’t friendly to models from the Gremlin faction? Definitely not. But here it is anyways. If it’s chaotic, that’s sort of the point, right? Hope some people have fun with it.

Gremlins!




It’s Holiday time in Malifaux, but some mysterious creatures from the Three Kingdoms have gotten loose. Stop them before they spread havoc throughout the city!

Special: After both crews have deployed, both players take turns (staring with the player who deployed first) placing 6 30MM Mogwai markers on the board. Mogwai markers must be placed within a piece of terrain on the board, and may not be deployed within 6” of either player's deployment zone or another Mogwai marker. Any model may make a (1) Interact Action to push a Mogwai marker 4”. Any push performed by a Mogwai marker stops if it comes in contact with a model or impassable terrain.

At the end of turns 1 and 2, after both players shuffle their discard piles back into their decks, players take turn activating the Mogwai markers. Select a marker and flip a card from the fate deck, resolving them as described below.

Ram: Yum, Yum!-Push the Mogwai marker 4” towards the nearest scheme marker. If the                    Mogwai marker ends the push in contact with the scheme marker, remove it.
Crows: Bright Light!-Push the Mogwai marker 4” away from the nearest model.
Masks:-It's singing. It does that sometimes.-The model nearest to the Mogwai marker draws                 a card.
Tome: Don’t get it wet!-Immediately place 3 Mogwai markers within 4” of the Mogwai                       marker that was activated.
Joker: You let him listen to the Aethervox?!?-Make a Sh: 4 / Rst Df/ Damage 2/3/4 attack on               the nearest model.

At the end of turn 3, players take turns (starting with the player who won initiative) placing a Gremlins! special model on a 30mm base in base contact with each Mogwai marker on the board and then removing the Mogwai marker. Gremlins! special models have the following stat line and do not count as friendly to any model other than Gremlins! special models. Any duels performed by the Gremlins! special model are performed by the player activating the model, and any resist flips are performed by the owner of the model doing the resisting. 



Gremlins!

Df 5 Wp 4 Wd 4 Wk 5 Cg 7 Ht 1
Abilities:
Reckless: At the beginning of this model’s activation, it can suffer 1 damage to gain one additional General AP.
Unimpeded: This model ignores penalties for severe terrain when moving.

Attack Actions:
(1) Scratching Claws: Ml 5/ Rst: Df/ Rg: (Claw) 1: Target suffers 2/3/4 damage.
Triggers: Mask-Maniacal Cackle- After resolving, this model immediately takes this action again on the same target or another legal target.
Ram-Yum, yum! : After resolving, push this model 4” towards the nearest scheme marker. If it ends in base-to-base with the scheme marker, discard it and heal 2 damage.
Crow-Where’d it get a gun?!? : After resolving, the closest model that isn’t the original target of this action suffers 2/3/4 damage. 
Tactical Actions:
(2) Time for dress-up!! (Ca 6. / TN: 10) Gremlins! special models within Aura 6 are treated as having the Disguised and Manipulative 12 abilities.
Triggers: Mask: They’re watching Snow White. They love it! - Gremlins! special models within Aura 3 cannot be the target of actions from enemy models and cannot be pushed, buried, or placed.

At the end of every turn (including turn 3) players take turns activating Gremlins! special models, starting with the player that won initiative, until all Gremlins! special models have activated once.

Victory Points

At the end of every turn after the second, if a crew has no Gremlins! special models on their half of the board, that crew scores one victory point.

***

Merry Christmas, to those that celebrate. Happy Holidays to the rest. 

Friday, December 8, 2017

Atomic Empire 12/2/2017 Tournament Report

I travelled south to Durham for the Treacherous Ties Tournament hosted by Sassylady, admin of the Southeastern Malifaux Players group, last weekend. The planning for this tournament had been going on for a while, as Phiasco and I played in it last year, took second, and had a lovely time. I don’t get to go to all that many tourneys, but I’d set aside time for this one. We were going to play Ten Thunders as we had done previously. I’d painted Gwynneth Maddox, a Terracotta Warrior, and a Ten Thunders Brother to take them out for a spin. Our team name was Sex, Drugs, and Malifaux because were basically just trying to cram as many Illuminated into a list where Maddox was spreading the Brilliance around. I was even going to blacken my eyes in and wear a suit, to cosplay as Lynch. It was gonna be great.
So, of course, the tournament format changed the day before.
Too many partners flaked out at the last second, so Dawn changed it to a standard single-faction individual tournament. Then, they changed strats and schemes to 2018, so I could go ahead and toss any of the thought I’d put into pre-building crews in the dumper as well. And, of course, when I asked Phiasco if he was ready to redesign his stuff on the fly for the tournament, he texted back “Yep, I should be good to go for next weekend.” Because he had his days mixed up. So I was going to be there by myself…



But on the plus side, at least the weather was super dreary...

 
I considered skipping, as Atomic Empire is three and a half hours away and my main reasons for attending were now gone, but I’d been chatting with Dawn about the tournament, had set aside the time, and had made a plan. My wife said “Don’t you need to go for your Malifaux blog?” So, with that permission, I rolled out of the sack at 6:15 to make the drive to Durham and play Malifaux. I figured that it would, at the least, be a good end to the all-Neverborn fall season I’d been undertaking.

 
Round 1 was played on a carnival board. It was standard deployment supply wagon with the scheme pool Guarded Treasure, Dig Their Graves, Undercover Entourage, Search the Ruins, and Take one for the Team. I played against Kemp, who brought the Brewmaster, a Whiskey Golem, Thunders Emissary, Wesley, some Akaname, and a Tanuki. I thought the action might concentrate in one area, so I brought Titannia with Pact, Behold, and Audience, Barbaros with Thousand Faces, the Mysterious Emissary with Titannia’s conflux, Doppelganger, a Young Nephilim (cheap bigger based model to push the cart), and a couple of Changelings. We set up on opposite flanks and pushed our carts more or less unopposed into the other side of the board. Combat was joined as the Whiskey Golem, who I had underestimated in terms of sheer killing power, stomped over and punched my Emissary to death. Titannia went in to hold him up, but the rapid healing ability of the golem in a brew crew meant he could outlast her. Thankfully, I was able to reroute Barbaros to go finish him off and start holding points. I was using a combination of Changeling and Dopp plus Changeling and Barbaros to score a couple of points for Guarded Treasure, while scooping up a handful of the Scheme Markers that Titannia had dropped while fighting the golem for Dig Their Graves. Finally, it came down to Chiaki tossing my wagon back over the center line while I tried to find a way to get a Changeling to do something meaningful to score me another scheme point on the last turn. He couldn’t get free to drop a marker for Barbaros to pick up Guarded Treasure. He couldn’t get close enough to an Akaname to kill him with his own attack. I was beginning to think a draw was inevitable, but Kemp pointed out that I could hop the Changeling within 3” of the Thunders Emissary and copy his attack to blast the Akaname, killing him for Dig Their Graves and scoring me the point to win 6-5.

Round 2 I played against Alex Schmid. You may know him from his Youtube videos, here. Or, you might have known him from this.

*psst* he's the name at the top


So, yeah, an uphill fight, to say the least. First thing I did was start setting my models out while he was still list building, which is a rookie mistake. We were on a swamp board with lots of open terrain, and I joked about how that would be critical to all the shooting our two Neverborn crews were going to do. Because, again, I’m dumb.
The strat was Ours! in Flank deployment. I don’t remember the scheme pool, because it didn’t matter what schemes were in there, because I got housed so hard. He played Collodi with Fated and Strum, a Changeling, Mysterious Emissary, Freikorps Trapper, Brutal, Shadow, and Arcane effigies, and some Marionettes. I had Lillith with Beckon and Wings, Dopp, Nekima, Graves, 2 Depleted, and Changeling. I had intended on using the Depleted to tie things up for Hold their Forces and for Tangled Shadows bait. I was having a grand time pushing things around by copying Graves’ show you the door ability, when I learned what happens when you push into range of a pair of Changelings standing next to Trappers. Hint, it doesn’t end well. I thought my best chance was to try and pull Collodi out of his crew and send my beaters into his backline to try and smash them up while he wasn't there to buff them. Unfortunately, that left Lillith to deal with Collodi on her own, which she doesn’t do well with a WP of 5. Nekima and Graves got tangled up in a pile of Marionettes who would then push out of range to let the snipers shoot Nekima to death. It was basically a shit-show. I called it after t3 because I was obviously not going to get anywhere. For a little extra salt, in Alex’s battle report he said I seemed like a newer player, which I think he meant to be kind. To be fair, that’s definitely how I played. Feels bad, man.
We chatted afterwards for a while (turned out we had some time on our hands, haha *kill myself.*) and he’s a nice guy. He gave me some Collodi tips that I’ve since put to good use. We’re facebook pals now. You should go chat with him and listen to his Youtube videos or listen when he makes guest appearances on Max Value. You might learn something (without having to get pummeled 10-1 first.)
 
All Lynch wanted was to take his friends for a nice night of dealing drugs at the fair, but then...rats!

Aaaanyways, Rd. 3 was next. Knowing I was well outside any shot at winning anything for this tournament, I decided to have some fun and get my Gwynneth on the table (I did take the time to paint her, after all.) For this game we were playing corner deployment Symbols of Authority with Punish the Weak, Dig Their Graves, Inescapable Trap, Take Prisoner, and Vendetta. I knew my opponent was playing Hamelin, and Plague Pits basically meant “Get your scheme points, cuz you’re not getting anything from the strat.” He had…Hamelin stuff. It was basically a theme crew with no Benny Wolcomb. I don’t remember. They all kinda die and recycle anyways outside of the master. Clint was my opponent’s name, and he was playing Hamelin for the first time (to be fair, I've never played against him, so we were on equal footing). I took Lynch with Cheating Bastard (!) and Wings, Huggy with Malifaux Provides, Maddox with Thousand Faces, a couple Illuminated and a couple changelings. We set up across a carnival from each other and deployed our Symbol markers in triangles with the point aimed towards the opponent.
I was, basically, hoping to bait him forward into the kill zone and take his crew down there while sending Illuminated and Changelings to go run strat. Against Hamelin I figured there would be no shortage of easy things to kill for Dig Their Graves and Punish the Weak, so I took those schemes. Cheating Bastard would hopefully help me spit out scheme markers to help complete the former scheme. It…kinda worked. They flooded forward into the kill zone conveniently, but Nix managed to jam me up by blocking pulse effects (like Gwynneth's Come Play at My Table). Also, he doesn’t take conditions, so no making him Brilliant to deal with him. Basically, I was not going to be killing that stupid dog. I did, however, pick off a bunch of his weaker stuff to get the job done from a killing standpoint (though, Hamelin obeying Gwynneth to remove the Symbols marker she was defending was a bit of a low point.) I did realize that I could turn 1000 faces into Fears Given Form and walk Maddox into the middle of a cluster of stuff to make Hamelin sad, but he responded by Obeying me to walk back out. Sad face. Unfortunately, my attempts at running around the flanks were foiled by Wretches throwing rats at me, tying my dudes up and preventing me from scoring. Worse, I cottoned on to the fact that my opponent was setting up for a Vendetta on one of my Illuminated and building Blight through the roof on him to get it done. Thankfully, I managed to get that Illuminated out of there and save him from being killed by a small child. I scored six from the schemes and 1 from the strat for still having markers left at the end of the game. I managed to hold my opponent to three VPs, so I won 7-4.

2-1 isn’t a terrible record, but with a diff of -5 I only ended up at 6th out of the 11 people present. Still, a day playing Malifaux is better than most other days, so I had a good time. Also, I picked up some pointers on how to play Collodi properly and made a new Malifriend, so that was a good use of time.