A couple of weeks ago, I travelled to Des Moines for the 2018 season opener tournament of the Midwest Region. As part of my ongoing efforts to transition from the Neverborn faction to the Ten Thunders, I planned on trying out the new stuff. I loaded up in the morning and made the drive from Cedar Rapids to Mayhem Collectibles Inc. (a lovely store with a very large selection of Malifaux merchandise. They even stocked Through the Breach on the shelf, which was a pleasant surprise.) After going across the street for some coffee, registered, and picked up a Hinamatsu to go along with my entry fee (but, but, that’s a Neverborn model?! Join the M3E beta son. That’s all I’m sayin’.)
Round 1 looked a lot like this:
Deployment: Standard Deployment
Strategy: Guard the Stash
Schemes: Guarded Treasure, Covert Breakthrough, Hold Up Their Forces, Inescapable Trap, Take One For The Team
Guard the Stash struck me as something that Cheating Bastard Lynch could handle, so I put together a crew built around that. I was paired against Resurrectionists, so I thought I would take the base crew and add in Yamaziko for a bit more resistance to terrifying and Graves to boot people off of the markers.
My opponent (from my old game store in Lincoln, NE) brought Seamus. I often joke that Seamus has Terrifying (Me) 12, and he lived up to his reputation. Sinister Reputation is mostly brought for the reduction in Willpower, but it also gives Seamus a Ca attack versus Defense, the Hungering Darkness’s weak spot. As such, HD was dead shortly after the start of turn 2. Jacob Lynch died shortly thereafter, which left me in “hang on by my fingernails” mode. Yamaziko proved to be extremely difficult for the opponent to remove, and I ended up wishing I had brought the Lone Swordsman instead of Graves, since he has the same immunity. Even still, I managed to accidentally kill my opponent’s Take One for the Team target on the last turn for two points, lost too many models to score more than 2 from the strat, and my opponent killed the wrong Stitched Together to give me any Take One points. So I ended up losing 8-4.
The more I play CB Lynch, the more I’m beginning to have doubts about it. The baseline idea is good, but the weakness is Hungering Darkness and Lynch himself. They’re anchor points for this crew, and if they die it’s pretty much over. And the thing is, they’re not that tough. I played another game after this one over Vassal against a Lady Justice crew that went slightly better, but the opponent knew they were the weakspots and removed them surgically before I could bring her down. I’m going to try working in some more defensive tech (Misdirection, etc.) but I may need to consider that this isn’t as competitively sound as I thought.
Deployment: Flank Deployment
Strategy: Public Execution
Schemes: Eliminate The Leadership, Setup, Show of Force, Take Prisoner, Public Demonstration
The tournament was offering bonus points for going Iron Scorpius style and I knew any chance of placing was gone after a first round loss, so I decided it was time to go into playtest mode and try some stuff out. The other two crews I brought were McCabe or Misaki, and having Eliminate the Leadership in the pool crossed McCabe off the list, so it was ninja time. My opponents being Outcast didn’t tell me much, so I decided to try some of the Yolosunori style of crews as a viability check. It looked like this:
Misaki-Risk/Reward, Storm, Training
Obviously I was going all in on the big Yas first turn charge, with Misaki as a counter-punch. My opponent was bringing Freikorps, however, which meant that Storm was pretty much useless and everyone had armor, so Yas was going to struggle. I saw first-hand how much it blunted him, as I think between doing less damage and missing a couple of his attacks meant he didn’t even kill back his points despite having a pretty sweet charge into some Freikorps mooks on the first turn followed by winning initiative and popping Recalled Training at the start of 2. I mismanaged the strategy and feel like I got a little lost in tracking all of the buffs and plus flips of the crew. With more practice, I think I can get better, but it ended up with a loss in this game through the opponent outplaying my schemes and managing to block a late-game Take Prisoner. Yas, however, didn’t blow me away. I’ll have to see him in action in some less obviously anti-him positions, but much like when I used to work with Nekima, I just don’t seem to have the touch for making these high-soulstone beaters earn back their investment during games. Maybe getting more experience in general and knowing what opponent models he’ll be effective against and which he won’t would be important here.
Deployment: Standard Deployment
Schemes: Guarded Treasure, Dig Their Graves, Search The Ruins, Recover Evidence, Vendetta
Now we’re in the Wooden Soon game, so there’s a sub-goal of trying to avoid finishing in last place. It’s McCabe time, which works given that I think he’s best in games where the action will be more spread-out, allowing him to surgically distribute his upgrades to provide advantages in specific quadrants. My opponent was Neverborn, but I didn’t really stress over that when putting this together, as I was now just trying new things out. Here’s what I brought.
Mccabe-Loot Bag, Promises, Badge of Speed
Lone Swordsman-Recalled Training
Ten Thunders Brother
I faced a Titania crew with the Thorn Knight, Doppleganger, Baby Kade, Emissary, and some etc’s. I set the Lone Swordsman up with the Healing Potion and Cloak Relics and tried to send him up the board with the thought that eventually I could either follow along with McCabe and support him as he Vendetta’d the Doppleganger. Eventually, I’d swap one of the Relics out for the Sabre later on, which didn’t work out as the opponent lured the Terracotta Warrior forward and killed him before I could do the swap. What I hadn’t counted on was just how much of a pest the Swordsman is with that combination of relics. He stayed in the backfield most of the game vexing the opponent and eventually picking up Evidence markers in the backfield. McCabe meanwhile went off to the right flank and led an attack to block the opponent’s control of a quarter along with his pack of dogs, limiting the opposing crew to only a point or two for the strategy and killing the Mysterious Emissary along the way. The Shadow Emissary managed to hang on against Titania in a solo duel, shifting back and forth over the center line to keep her from denying me a quarter, and occasionally handing out Fast to the Swordsman. The Swordsman managed to earn a lot of respect from me all around in this game, as he was an all-star. The only thing he was missing was Ruthless to get around the Doppleganger’s Manipulative, so I didn’t get all 3 points from Vendetta. 2 was still fine, and I managed to pull out the win in this one.
I like McCabe a lot. He’s the right kind of fiddly to keep me entertained, and he’s harder for the enemy to predict. Models with these upgrades attached can overperform significantly from what people expect. He does have some significant holes in his game, unfortunately, and it sucks that there’s a scheme that pretty much rules out using him. Right now he’s my favorite in faction. We’ll see if it stays that way.
So, end of the day, I’m at 1-4 since my change over to the Thunders. Not great. Trying to learn on the fly during tournaments makes it tough to be successful, of course, and one of the crews I expected to use as an anchor point isn’t working as well as I had hoped. I’ve got some work to do, but overall I think I learned a lot. Just don’t look at my rankings.
For the time being, I’ll keep playing games and practicing. However, for October I’m planning to take a short break from the Malifaux skirmish game and do some features on Through the Breach, including product reviews of this Summer/Fall’s releases Above the Law (the Guild sourcebook) and Northern Sedition, a Penny Dreadful continuing the story begun in Northern Aggression. See you then!