Sunday, September 1, 2019

The Past and Present of The Other Side: Moving on from the stumbles during launch

            A couple of weeks ago, I went to Indianapolis to attend Gencon. I recommend it highly. It’s a good place to meet interesting humans and play games you would never have heard of otherwise. I can’t recommend it enough to those of you who’ve never had a chance to attend.

Also, sometimes there are nerdy burlesque shows. If you're interested in that sort of thing.

            The first day of the convention was The Other Side’s Champion of Earth tournament (or something like that. I can’t be bothered to hunt down the title.) It was a two-commander tournament, which I haven’t had a chance to play in before. There was a pretty clear choice for who to bring for leaders of my King’s Empire, as Kassa and Margaret are head and shoulders (or used to be. More on that later) above Charles. The rest of the lists were going to stay fairly set for most of the games (having a limited model pool will do that). Two squads of Royal Rifle Corps are standard issue. If I have Kassa then I will have the King’s Hand (plus he’s pretty good as an anchor point.) And I’ve seen all kinds of people speaking highly of the South Wales Borderers, so they were going to be standard as screener units and to provide some melee punch. I painted the Field Intelligence Corps squad to use in Set Traps. I have a pair of Motor Scouts for objective running, but they have to get bumped out during Pitched Assault, as there aren’t that many objectives to run and they give up 2 VPs when they die. And I have Infiltrators for…various purposes. They’re probably one of the strangest squads in the game, in that they have absolutely no business being as important to the outcome of games as they are. On paper they’re…well, paper-thin. They can’t shoot for beans. Their armor is trash. And yet, somehow, they always find themselves right in the middle of the most important parts of the game every time. It’s bizarre.

            Anyways, I got in 3 games with the other three Allegiances over the course of the tournament, which was pretty cool. Round one was played against Steven’s Gibbering Hordes in Scavenge. It wasn’t as bad of a match as the last time we played at Adepticon, but Hordes are squishy and so it’s easier to get my guys to Glory by wiping out fireteams from his feeder squads. He got caught out in the open with his Alpha Crawler early, who I managed to take down. Things got a little exciting when Horomatangi suddenly appeared in my deployment zone right behind my gunline, but the Hand managed to put enough of a scare into Steven that he had to pull him back. I took that one down with a Crushing Victory, and I was well on my way.

            Next round put me up against Phiasco’s Abysinnians in Pitched Assault. Both of us were looking to rely on shooting and avoiding combat, so we spent much of the first turn…not fighting each other. I got out to an early VP lead, which was kind of a double-edged sword as the Tactics discount paired with the Lord of Steel meant Jon could buy his whole tactics deck on, like, turn 2 or 3. And that sucked. He attempted to overcome the deficit by throwing one of his bikers into my line and suiciding him with Detonate Soulstone. This is usually quite devastating, but by circumstance he ended up not clearing whole fireteams efficiently with the blast (though he took several chunks out of many of them) and discovered that the scenario punishes you for sacrificing your own models, particularly ones like the bikers that are worth 2 VP when they die. However, Jon played well the rest of the way and was closing the gap up at the end of the game. I ended up winning, but only just and I don’t really care for how the game was going at that point anyways. He moved his Lord of Steel to claim one of the objectives and I started activating Margaret Belle to flip it back before he’d decided he was done, so he moved the Lord of Steel into the center of the marker instead of the side to prevent it. Then I misunderstood when the round ended…it was a shit show. I wasn’t happy with how I played it. I’ll do better next time hopefully, but I’ve got to find something to do with Electrocutioners with Experimental Armor. Every shot I put on them just bounced off. If anybody has some suggestions, I’ll take them.

I still protest that these Cultists are far too cheerily painted.

            Last round I played a Burning Man army that was very well constructed and executed. I think. I honestly haven’t played them enough to know for sure. I mean, it wasn’t 10 Rhinos so how good could it be, right? We were playing Set Traps, so now was the time for the Field Intel Corps. They managed to get to glory and pick up a few points in the late turns, but were otherwise unimpressive. We called this game for time at the end of 3 or 4, and I had been playing from behind from the start (unsurprising, as Cult excels in this Operation). The real damage was done with the Cult Stratagem that lets them interact without spending a Tactics token, as it dropped on Turn 2 and catapulted them to a massive lead (and countered my use of Capture the Flag to swap one of his markers to score for my team.) Things were flipping the right way score-wise at the end of the game, but I was starting to get overwhelmed on the combat front. I don’t know if I could have saved it if we’d played to the end, but I think I could at least have made it closer and I would have been excited to see how it turned out. In any case, I lost but had a good time playing, which I’m fine with.
            I ended up taking 2nd in the tournament, with Phiasco winning and the Cult player in Third, because ToS scoring is weird. I really didn’t care for that, and hopefully they’ll fix it in the next version of the tournament rules. If you go undefeated (as the Cult player did) you should win the tournament, regardless of the VP situation. But I got in 3 more games of KE, found out that I’m not as in love with the Borderers as I thought I would be (they did very little in the tournament) and learned some things to hopefully play better next time.

Also, I’ve reached the end of my patience with something, and I need to get it off of my chest. I’m over people telling me that they don’t play this game because of how the Kickstarter turned out.

Like, I get it. It sucked. It was slow. They didn’t meet their deadlines. The models showed up with bent gun barrels. Sometimes you got a Horomatangi instead of a King’s Hand. Things went poorly. I get it. But for christ’s sake, all of the models from Wave 1 are out now. You can get them if you want them badly enough (I know some of the distributor stuff isn’t fixed yet and who knows about international shipping, but you can find them online if you want them.) The rules set is pretty tight outside of some model balance problems, and an errata document has now been released to fix the major problems. rumors abound that a balance errata is coming soon to correct some of the problems. And the game is effing fun. Like, a lot of fun. I don’t care for army scale games generally, but I like this one because it plays more like a skirmisher like Malifaux. In fact, it’s kind of the best of both worlds for army and skirmish. You can play it fast. The armies are very, very, different in play style, so you should be able to find one you want (hell, the three commanders from the Hordes give you three very different play styles all on their own). If you want more complexity, the Cult will give you plenty of headaches as you try to puzzle out what the best move is on each turn (“If I use Adeodatos to drop my Breachling here, it’ll appear next to my Stalking portals there and then immediately teleport again, landing in the enemy’s formation and exploding to blast half of them to hell in one activation. Or I could just send a rhino in there I guess.” If, like me, you sometimes appreciate not having to give yourself a brain hemorrhage every turn, King’s Empire are effective without being as complicated. But still, no matter how many times I hear people tell me the models look cool, the rules sound good, the game looks awesome, still I hear “yeah but nobody plays it around my area, and the Kickstarter really put a bad taste in my mouth, so…”


The game won’t grow if people can’t move on from this. You want to have people in your area that play? You gotta recruit them! The game isn’t gonna build itself, and the more people cling to this negativity, the harder that’s gonna be. Grrrr. The game stumbled out of the gate. It’s time for the people who don’t want to play the game to move on, and those of us who like it to step up and promote it. Cuz the game’s gonna flounder if we don’t give it a push. So let’s push this thing for all it’s worth, ok?

*end rant*

            Anyways, after the convention ended, a new errata document came out addressing the balance problems the game has had with some of its models after release. Let’s take a look at them, shall we?

-Kassa doesn’t get to draw as many cards anymore. She draws one card from her spare parts ability when an asset flips to disabled, and then draws another when one flips to repaired. So, essentially, it cuts her card draw in half. Probably the way it was supposed to work in the first place. Makes me sad, but needed to happen. Also, emergency repairs and its trigger specifies that you’re to flip disabled assets, which means she can’t start the card draw chain on her own. So, this will make buying Overwatch on turn 1 and then filling my hand up with Kassa no longer an option.
-Margaret now only teleports 8” unless she spends a tactics token. That kinda sucks, but I think she’ll still work the way I was using her anyways. It just reduces her ability to cross the board in one turn.
-The artillery team gets to shoot without line of sight now, which it should have had in the first place. Heavy shelling now does need Line of Sight for…reasons. I guess. Also when it’s in Glory it has a crow trigger on the main gun to create a 120mm marker of hazardous terrain. Cool, but it’s gotta get to glory in the first place, which is tricky as they still have an AV of 3 v. Df. We’ll see, but having no Line of Sight requirement on the main gun at least gives this a chance of being useful.
-No double dipping on tactics tokens with the Keep Calm and Carry On stratagem. That seems like a change to working as intended rather than as written, so fine.

- The Mechanized Infantry’s increasing AV ability only counts for the target you were shooting at. If I’m interpreting it correctly, that means just the fireteam you’re shooting at, not the whole sqad. If I’m wrong about that let me know.

-No more placing a portal marker in your opponent’s deployment zone with The Approaching Convergence. Would have been nice in a certain game I played recently.
-The rhinos got nerfed, which we all saw coming. Fire Nova only goes out 4” instead of 6, and Consumed by Magic now reduces the value of non-Tomes by 5 rather than just counting them as 0. Which is good. They needed it bad. I hope it’s enough to stop them from being so whacky (and stop people from bitching about them.)

Gibbering Hordes got the most changes, which is appropriate. They needed the help.

-First, non-commanders that get eaten by the Horde’s abilities don’t count for scoring anymore. This is a good thing, as they are now playable in Pitched Assault.
-Stuff you bring back with Endless Numbers gets a Reinforcement token to give them some increased resilience. Shoot those guys down quick before they get a chance to reinforce, or get out of their way.
-Heavy Rains got the same treatment as the Burning Man portals asset, so no putting a Tide Pool in the enemy’s deployment zone and having Horomatangi pop out of it and eat my fine British Soldiers, Steven.
-Shark Tooth Necklace now lets you add suits in addition to a plus flip for attacks, so beware the Frenzy.
-It’s not all good news. Devouring Eel Regeneration ability now reduces damage by 1 for each token you discard, rather than auto reducing damage to 0. Probably a good thing, as the eels were right with the Rhino in terms of unkillability.
-Relics of Ancient Malifaux is limited to once per activation. I’m sure there was an exploit of some kind to do it over and over again that this is fixing.

            There’s nothing in here I disagree with, really. I didn’t think Margaret’s change was absolutely necessary, but you can always spend the tactics token to do like you used to. I wish they would have boosted Charles rather than nerfing the other two, but what’re you gonna do? Lob artillery shells, I guess. The artillery team costs 3 scrip, so I guess they may be worth at least trying out now. The Burning Man rhinos needed to happen, and the Hordes needed boosting. All of this is fine. I guess Abyssinia was basically perfect and balanced, so bully for them. In any case, the balance has now been addressed. 10 Rhino lists are not going to be a thing anymore, hopefully. Hordes are playable (they always were, but I’m talking to the trolls in the comment threads now.) So, if you’re reading this and you were thinking about giving the game a try, I encourage you to do it. If you were going to sell off your stuff, maybe give it a second chance. And if you’re still playing ToS, good for you. Now let’s get out there and help the game grow. I like it a lot, and I don’t want to see it fail.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Pre-Gencon Potpourri

Like many nerds, I'll be making the annual pilgrimage to Indianapolis starting tomorrow. This rite of passage began many moons ago, young padawans, when I used to travel there to play the collectible card game based around World Wrestling Entertainment (and to give you some timeframe on that, when the game STARTED it was still called the World Wrestling Federation.) It's been an intermittent part of my life ever since. And most importantly, it's the mecca of all things new and Wyrd.

My Jacob Lynch boxed set was purchased new at Gencon, along with everyone else from the Honeypot. When Avatars came out (you know them as Emissaries now) I picked up Zoraida and Kirai there. I still have a metal nightmare Lord Chompy Bits that I've really gotta get painted and get on a board for crying out loud. I've played in a number of Malifaux tournaments in Indy, and a few years back I discovered the joys of volunteering with Wyrd, particularly when it came to Fatemastering their Through the Breach games (wait, hold on, you're going to cover the cost of my badge, and give me booth credit, and all I have to do Through the Breach? Umm, yeah, I'll go ahead and sign up now.) 

This year features the first Wyrd-run Malifaux tournament of the M3E era, which I'll be covering as a spectator rather than as a participant (I'll be busy killing off Fated characters for large portions of the allotted time.) It's a two-day event for the first time ever, which I know a number of competitive players have been clamoring to see for some time now. Hopefully Wyrd will also have a large amount of terrain (Adepticon already looked to have improved this issue), as the shooting gallery style boards have been another long-running complaint. Still, it's a great chance to get in many games of Malifaux, and Phiasco will be there doing many Ten Thunders related things that will likely leave opponents scratching their heads in puzzlement. 

My competitive hill to climb is going to be the Other Side tournament on Thursday. I've been scrambling to get a couple more squads of the King's Finest ready for the tabletop. I have some South Wales Borderers and Field Intelligence Corps fireteams painted to an...acceptable tabletop standard. Just don't look too close or you'll see the bare spots where primer is still showing. I have set down some ideas for each round in my head, though since it's a 2 commander tourney I won't have as much crew flexibility as I would in 1C games. I don't expect I'll be the only one for whom that is true. Mostly it's an excuse to get some more games in for what I consider to be a more fun tournament game than Malifaux (yeah that's right, I said it. I'm gonna write a whole blog post about it soon, so just you wait.) Maybe if I'm lucky, I won't have to play against Gibbering Hordes every round! Wouldn't that be nice?

I didn't realize the "Endless Numbers" special rule applied in real life, as well.

The only other tournament games I'll probably participate in is the Henchman Hardcore on Sunday. I found some nasty tricks from the Honeypot that I think could be pretty rude in that format, so I'll be eager to give them a try and find out all the reasons I'm wrong.

And, of course, most of Friday and Saturday I'll be running TTB. I love RPGs, and I love running them in particular. I'm a DM (or in TTB's case, FM) first, player second. This is truly a labor of love for me. This year I'm running 4 sessions of the game with three premade Penny Dreadful adventures. One adventure features the Fated trying to rescue a kidnapped Star Theatre showgirl and getting more than they bargained for. Another pits them against the Universtiy Transmortis in a more straightforward beat-em-up. The third features an expedition into the badlands and.....dinosaurs? No, that can't be right. *goes back to check the module name* Oh, yeah, I guess that's really what's going on there. That should be interesting! 

I think most of them are sold out (not because I'm running them. Though I'm sure if people had known, they would have sold out even faster) but people have a tendency to buy tickets and not show up, so there's no harm in getting generics and swinging by to see if a slot is available. Moreover, throughout the con Wyrd will also be hosting short character creation events where they walk you through performing one of the Tarot readings that generate a new Fated. I'll have pregens for all of the games I'm running (so will the other Fatemasters, but come on, you know you would rather play at my table) but if you show up with a Fated of your own, they can happily take their place. Sometimes I've even been known to sneak in an extra player or two if Matt Carter isn't watching too close, so you never know. Maybe you'll get to have your first adventure run by your favorite bloggist. I'll be honored to kill your character guide you into the world of Malifaux! 

Wyrd's bringing their usual slew of rare and limited edition stuff, as well as the full line of The Other Side models and some new M3E style crew boxes. Apparently the faction books won't be there due to a shipping issue, which kinda stinks but frankly I can live without. Those may end up falling in the "buy as pdf" pile for me anyways to cut down on the shelf footprint dedicated to Wyrd stuff (moving several times in as many years makes one appreciate digital literature. Also, this year's nightmare crew is the above Nightmare version of Molly, titled Brine and Bones. I gotta tell ya, I really couldn't be any less interested in playing Ressers but...goddamn that is a cool box set. Gotta stay strong.


Maybe I can put a "Will FateMaster for Nightmare minis" tip jar out when I'm running games to help offset the cost?

Anyways, that's what I'll be up to at Gencon. As you've probably noticed, I've been recruiting knowledgeable folks to contribute articles for the blog. If you're a cool guy, or if you beat me in a game of Malifaux, or if you know more about the game than I do (not a high bar to clear), expect me to hit you up and see if you're interested in joining the ever-growing legion of guest bloggists. Otherwise, feel free to find me or Phiasco to say hi, challenge us to a game, or tell us we're wrong and bad people. Either way, it's always nice to meet a fan! And it's Gencon, so you're not going to hinder my good time anyways. 

See you in Indy!

How To Play: Corrupted Idols! - by guest bloggist Brien "Schemes" Spence

As part of my move back to the midwest, I've been blessed to join a meta that is at least within practical driving distance in Des Moines, which has reduced my need to employ the Wandering River Style to attend tournaments/get in games of Malifaux. One gentlemen I've been "blessed" to play against was Brien Spence, of Schemes and Stones fame. We've played twice since I moved here. Both games were corrupted idols and both were against his Leviticus list (I'll work on getting him to write about Levi for the future.) I was very impressed with his control-based gameplan for dealing with this strategy, and I asked him to comment on it briefly. So, here he goes!


            When Adam asked me to write this piece, I’ll admit I was a little stumped on how to procced.  I felt that I had a strong understanding of Corrupted Idols, and that most of the decision making around this unique Malifaux 3E strategy is done at the table, en medias res.  As I thought about what to write, while lazing on vacation in Northern Wisconsin, it occurred to me a few choices I’ve made in every Corrupted Idols game, from the moment the strategy is declared.  As such, I decided to breakdown and address these.

Firstly, how Idols works – as copied from the M3E rulebook:

Corrupted Idols (M) At the start of each Turn, after determining which player has Initiative, Drop a Strategy Marker centered on the centerline. The location of the Strategy Marker is determined by the suit of the Initiative Flip of the player with Initiative (and the direction is calculated from that player’s perspective):

• M: 8" from where the centerline meets the table edge on the left.
• T: 8" from where the centerline meets the table edge on the right.
• R: On the centerpoint.
• C: Where the centerline meets the table edge (player with Initiative chooses which table edge).
• Joker: Reflip

If the Strategy Marker would be Dropped on top of a Strategy Marker, Impassable Terrain, or a model, the player with Initiative instead Drops the Strategy Marker evenly on the centerline, touching but not overlapping that Strategy Marker, Impassable Terrain, or model. If this is not possible, the Strategy Marker is not Dropped. A model in base contact with a Strategy Marker can take the Interact Action and suffer up to three irreducible damage, ignoring Hard to Kill. A model may not suffer more damage than its current Health. Drop the Strategy Marker anywhere within X" of its current location, not into base contact with a model or Impassable Terrain, where X is equal to the amount of damage suffered by the Interacting model (even if it was killed by the damage it suffered). At the end of each Turn, a Crew gains 1 VP if there are more Strategy Markers completely on the opponent’s table half than it has earned VP from this Strategy.

Here, there a is key information I’ve found is often overlooked; “The location of the Strategy Marker is determined by the suit of the Initiative Flip of the player with Initiative”.  What this means is if you win the Initiative flip, but decide for your opponent to have first activation, they become the player with Initiative, and thus control the placement of the marker.  In most scenarios, you always want to have Initiative, and thusly should always cheat for Initiative, or declare first action – in this way, I have my first major recommendation for playing Corrupted Idols:

Location, Location, Location:

Upon arriving at the table, pick a location on the board where the Idols might drop, and decide to focus the majority of your time, models, and gameplay there.  In essence, before the game starts, decide on a corner (or center) that you will cheat the Idol to every round.

My plan going into every Idols match is to dump all 5 Strat Markers in the same spot and deny all Strategy points from my opponent; if they have to consistently push towards my chosen location during the game, they are less likely to be scoring their schemes, whereas my priority is only scoring the 4 points from the Strategy, and picking up a single point from one scheme.  I’ve found this forces my opposition to play the game I’ve declared, with drastically controls the tempo of the game.  I normally like to pick a flank edge, and work to position my crew spread along the line, stretching from the 8in mark (where the Idol drops) and the center; this gives my models control of 3 of the 5 possible Idol locations.

Next, Crew Selection:

             Focus on 2-3 high quality schemers, preferably who can leap. Don't spam low quality scheme models

I’ve found players build large, spam-ish scheme crews to handle Idols – they think that because the Idols can show up in 5 locations, they must be at all 5 locations.  This I find wrong for 2 main reasons, the first as detailed above, the second, the survivability of low-cost, spam schemer models are low.  Abandoning any type of mid-quality damage dealer just means you won’t be able to prevent the opponent from scoring, without improving your own chances of scoring, since your schemer models will crumble.  Between harming yourself to move the Idols and the counter play from enemy, a mass of cheap models will push the Idols, but be unable to maintain them to score points. Keep the balanced lists you use for every other Strategy.

Lastly, Game Play – Standing and Cheating:

Idol markers are not impassable; stand on them.  Cheat Initiative unless you literally cannot afford to do so.

The rules of Corrupted Idols makes no mention of impassable traits on the markers, whereas Turf War does.  This means you can stand atop Idol markers with impunity, boxing out your opponent’s valuable tech pieces, namely Don’t Mind Me models.  Standing on top a marker at the very least denies it from your opponent, and potentially secures it for your scoring. Additionally, I’ve seen boards where players have used large (vertically) 30mm markers for Idols, often with a flag or statute attached (very narrative, I do approve), however, this creates the illusion that they are impassible – do not hesitate to change these out, or call a TO in more official settings to adjust the board as needed.

As the locations of the markers are determined, never, never hesitate to Cheat Initiative, if that will impede your opponent in anyway:  Cheat to place the Idol in your designated zone?  Do it.  Cheat to place it in the contested center zone, and not their zone?  Do it.  Cheat to toss it to the location without any models, denying both players?  Do it.  Cheat a midrange card to force your opponent to cheat a better card?  Do it.  This cheating idea goes double for any crew with access to Arcane Reservoir, since you will have the extra card to spend. 

And there you have it, my top tricks and philosophy to play Corrupted Idols in Malifaux 3E.  Please feel free to reach out on Facebook to comment and share your thoughts and remember, Bad Things Happen.