Last weekend, Aramoro and I headed out for the Skirmish Showdown run by DavidK-S. It was a 35SS, 3 round tournament with fixed faction (not a problem for me, since I only have Guild miniatures anyway), preset strategies and unique schemes across all games. After my last epic showing at a tournament (in which Justinmatters and I ‘won’ the wooden spoon) I was hoping to play a bit less badly. Still, the tournament for me is just an excuse to play Malifaux against people I wouldn’t normally meet, so I’m not really bothered about whether I win or lose as long as we have fun. The initial random pairings put me against Aramoro but since about half of my games of Malifaux in total have been against him, we asked for a re-run of the scheduling. This persisted for several more tries as various people were lined up against their most common opponents until eventually we got a set of first-round pair that everyone was happy with. I was against Barry (I think he’s Grumhelden on the Wyrd Forum) who had given Justinmatters and me a good hiding twice in the previous tournament.
I failed to take my camera with me, but David took some photos which I’ve taken from his blog. They aren’t taken at strategically relevant points, but at least you can see the general layout of the terrain etc. Also, it breaks up the wall of text, which can only be a good thing.
Game 1: Guild (me) vs Neverborn (Barry)
Shared Plant Evidence (spend an action to interact with up four pieces of terrain in the other half of the board)
Guild: Hold Out (unannounced; stop the other side getting models in your deployment zone), Kill Protegé (on one of the Illuminated)
Neverborn: Bodyguard (keep your leader alive), Assassinate (kill the other master)
Guild: Perdita Ortega, 2 Guild Hounds, 2 Witchling Stalkers, Nino Ortega, Santiago Ortega, Francisco Ortega
Neverborn: Jakob Lynch, Hungering Darkness, 2 Beckoners, 3 Illuminated, Depleted, Sorrow
I picked Perdita on the grounds that she’s fast, and the Hounds for pretty much the same reason. The three Ortegas go in partly to take advantage of being Family and partly because they provide a nice firebase to keep things off my side of the board. As for the Stalkers, I just love them; they are in practically every game I’ve played of Malifaux. The map is bisected by a river with a bridge dead centre. Barry suggests to treat it as open terrain anyway since all his miniatures either fly, float or ignore terrain for other reasons and he doesn’t want to take an unfair advantage. I line up with the Hounds and Stalkers on the left and the Ortegas on the right; Nino is on his own on building roof. Barry’s crew are all in a clump in the centre to go either way. He admitted at this point that he has no real clue about these miniatures since they are very new and he’s never played them, but speculates that the major threats will be the Hungering Darkness and the Beckoners.
Turn 1: Everyone rushes forward. The Neverborn split up with both Beckoners and two of the Illuminated (including my Kill Protegé target) heading for the Ortegas and everyone else to the other side of the bridge. Perdita uses her speed and range to take a pot shot at the nearest Beckoner; Santiago tries to do the same but is out of range.
Turn 2: I win initiative and my Hounds somehow plant three bits of evidence to rack up some victory points before they are horribly killed. To my surprise, the Hungering Darkness ignores them and moves up to mark one of the Stalkers with Brilliance. Jakob Lynch himself follows up and smites the poor creature for all but one of his wounds. Meanwhile, Santiago and Perdita gun down both Beckoners before I can find out what nasty things they’re capable of, and the nearest Illuminated smacks Santiago so hard that only his ‘hard to kill’ ability keeps him alive. Francisco’s counter-charge is totally ineffective. Nino shoots the Hungering Darkness to minimal effect (as it’s a spirit) before the wounded Stalker shows him how it’s done by cutting it down with one shot from his magical weapon. The other takes a good chunk out of Jakob Lynch who has conveniently placed himself in charge range. Finally, one of the Hounds is killed by an Illuminated.
Turn 3: I win initiative again and the Stalker finishes of Jakob Lynch. With him, the Hungering Darkness and both Beckoners out of the game for next to no losses, I’m feeling confident at this point. The Illuminated easily deals the last wound to Santiago but I cheat high for defense on the first swing to stop it from taking out Francisco too. Perdita kills the other Illuminated nearby (handily, this one was the Kill Protegé target) and the Stalker and Hound start the clean up on the other side of the board.
Turn 4: Yet again I get the initiative and Francisco finally does something useful by flurrying the Illuminated to death. The last Illuminated tries to shoot Perdita but I get the ‘faster’n you’ trigger and kill it instead. My Stalker black jokers the damage flip to take the last wound from the Depleted (in retrospect, this should have killed it anyway thanks to critical strike) and when I finally do kill the beastie it starts a chain explosion with one of the Stalkers. Anyway, that’s the last Neverborn on the table so I spend the rest of the activations racking up victory points. The final score is 7 – 0 to the Guild (I could have had 8 if I had announced Hold Out, but most Neverborn crews are very fast and I couldn’t have predicted this kind of game). So I was up against another player with a big first round victory, Dave, who I think is Tattyted on the Wyrd Forums.
Game 2: Guild (me) vs Ressurectionists (Dave)
Shared Supply Wagon (various points available for escorting a wagon to the centre of the board)
Guild: Assassinate, Grudge (on Sebastian; kill him in melee with one of my minions)
Ressurectionists: Bodyguard, Hold Out
Guild: Sonnia Criid, Witchling Handler, 2 Witchling Stalkers, Exorcist, Santiago Ortega, Francisco Ortega
Neverborn: Douglas McMourning, 4 Night Terrors, 4 Canine Remains, Sebastian, Desperate Mercenary, Grave Spirit, Punk Zombie
So on the grounds that this will be a slow and steady slug fest across the centre of the board, I choose Sonnia this time. The Handler is useful for pushing Stalkers around (and I’m expecting a lot of them thanks to Sonnia’s ability to create more), and the Exorcist seems like a solid option against Ressurectionists although I’ve never actually managed to get much value out of him. Santiago is a good shooter, and Francisco makes for a handy bodyguard for him in case anyone tries to just mob him with fast cheap minions. This was a mining board with a few mine-heads scattered around and some nice rock formations to hide behind. Most of the Ressurectionists started hidden behind a building with all the Night Terrors in a flock together on one side and Sebastian and the Punk Zombie ‘escorting’ the wagon. I have a line across the board with the Stalkers and Handler on the left, Sonnia and the Exorcist in the centre and the Ortegas on the right. I’ve never played against McMourning, but he looks like a close-combat monster so I chose Assassinate on the grounds that he might put himself in harm’s way.
Turn 1: Of course, most things move forward. Sonnia puts a flame wall up in a gap to limit options for the Ressurectionists. The Night Terrors use ‘flock together’ to move about halfway across the board in one go, and McMourning just mucks about killing his own Canine Remains in his deployment zone to rack up about a million body parts.
Turn 2: The Handler pushes one of the Stalkers toward the mob of Night Terrors. Most of them flee but for some reason one stays to get charged by the Stalker, who knocks it down to its ‘hard to kill’ wound. I move up Francisco to shoot at the Desperate Mercenary but he’s a bit out of range and is shot in return. That was a bit silly of me as there was no need to risk Francisco. Still, the mercenary will also die at the end of the turn so at least it wasn’t a complete waste. Sonnia puts a flame wall in front of the wagon – it won’t affect the wagon itself (indeed, it turns out that the flame wall is not actually ‘terrain’ even though it is hazardous) but it will stop Sebastian and the Punk Zombie moving through. One of the Night Terrors flies to block my wagon from moving, then McMourning shows that he’s not just wasting time with his ‘experiments’ back behind the mine-head as he creates a Rogue Necromancy which races out and one-shots my Exorcist. Admittedly, I did have him a bit too far forward, but I didn’t expect to lose him so easily.
Turn 3: Santiago gets things underway by shooting half the wounds off the Rogue Necromancy, and Sonnia then uses a Soulstone to avoid its charge attack. One Stalker kills the wounded Night Terror and the other takes the one sitting in front of my supply wagon down to one wound thanks to ‘hard to kill’. Luckily, Sonnia loves things with ‘hard to kill’ as they can be conveniently turned into fresh Witchling Stalkers through ‘violation of magic’. She duly cuts the Rogue Necromancy down (that massive sword isn’t just for show, you know) then violates the wounded Night Terror into a Stalker, which is placed as near as I can manage to Sebastian as I need to kill him in melee to get my Grudge. The Handler pushes the new Stalker into the Punk Zombie, but it black jokers the wound. Sebastian moves up to carve up the Stalker in his next activation (I guess he’s slow because of that ridiculous buzz saw he’s carting around with him!). Finally, another Night Terror moves into the space vacated by the first, i.e. right in front of my wagon and McMourning kills off all but one of his Canine Remains to recharge his stock of body parts.
Turn 4: The last Canine Remains rushes up to the remains of the Rogue Necromancy and passes the corpse counters back to McMourning and Sebastian kills off his Stalker; the resulting explosion causes a bit of damage to him and the nearby Punk Zombie. Sonnia then shows me why I love her as she stabs the Canine Remains to death, violates the wounded Night Terror (just like last turn, summoning a Stalker near to Sebastian) then flame bursts the little fat guy, Soulstoning and cheating high to really take his wounds down and nuke the Punk Zombie in the blast. The Handler pushes the new Stalker up to Sebastian, and it then kills him with one swipe of its shattered rune blade. McMourning, who is pretty lonely at this point, moves up to try and throw another Rogue Necromancy at me, but luckily he can’t get the casting requirement.
Turn 5: I win initiative, and the furthest forward Stalker (the one who got Sebastian) charges the Grave Spirit, easily killing it. In fact, I don’t care about the totem at this stage, but I want to get a disrupt magic effect near to McMourning to make him use an activation or two to clear it before he can try to summon another monster. Needless to say McMourning annihilates the Stalker, summons a Rogue Necromancy near the wagons and then sensibly runs away to stop me from trying to shoot him to death. It can’t do much damage since the Handler immediately knocks off half its wounds (stopping it from using its ‘two headed’ ability) and the Handler survives the attack anyway. I need to take out the Rogue Necromancy to have a chance at damaging the Ressurectionist wagon and Sonnia’s charge leaves it on one wound. I try to use violation of magic again but I can’t get the cards I need and in any case I still would have needed to get lucky hitting the wagon with the summoned Stalker. We’re out of time, and the game ends with a 5 – 3 win for the Ressurectionists (I got Grudge and a point for an undamaged wagon, Dave also had an undamaged wagon and also got Hold Out and Bodyguard). It was a very tight game, and very fun. I greatly enjoy games that could be swung by the last card flips. My opponent for the final round is Malcolm, who presumably was on about the same record as me.
Game 3: Guild (me) vs Guild (Malcolm)
Shared Slaughter (does what it says on the tin – just kill everything for lots of victory points)
Good Guild: Bodyguard, Raid! (have the most minions left in play at the end of the game)
Evil Guild: Assassinate, Raid! (well, we’re not both getting points for this one)
Good Guild: Perdita Ortega, Nino Ortega, Santiago Ortega, Francisco Ortega, 3 Witchling Stalkers
Evil Guild: C. Hoffman, Ryle Hoffman, Peacekeeper, Guardian, Warden, 2 Guild Hounds
My choice of master could go either way here, but I feel like Sonnia’s summoning antics could get me into trouble so I select Perdita instead. The Ortega boys are good at shooting so they’re an easy choice, and the Witchlings are not only awesome but conveniently explode when they die for one last hit. This board is relatively open in midfield, but there are a couple of towers in the corners, some patches of rough terrain around the centre and walls scattered about. I have everyone but Nino strung out in a line across the board, with Perdita in the middle and all three Stalkers on the right. Nino, predictably, is as close as I can get him to the door of the tower. Malcolm has the Hounds isolated for a flank run out of line of sight down my left, and Ryle all alone on my right. Everyone else forms the ‘Hoff-ball’.
Turn 1: It’s Guild on Guild, so not much shenanigans but lots of running forward. To no-one’s surprise, Nino runs up to the roof of the tower so he can shoot most of the battlefield.
Turn 2: I win initiative and Nino shoots the Peacekeeper twice, getting ‘headshots’ on both and forcing Malcolm to discard 4 great cards to keep the big robot in play (plus one he cheated in to avoid a ‘trigger happy’ on the first shot, which I then cheated above; in total he’s played out a 10, two 11s and two 12s). Ryle responds by moving up behind a wall and shooting a Stalker but can only take it down to a single wound. Perdita shows him how it’s done by casting bullet bending (to ignore the cover) and blow him away before the Warden charges the wounded Stalker to finish him off. The Hounds charge Francisco but miss their attacks because Malcolm’s flips were terrible and he had nothing left to cheat in, then Francisco stabs one of them to death. Finally,the Peacekeeper knocks another Stalker down to 1 wound. I breathe a sigh of relief at my good luck… then Hoffman casts override edict to let the Peacekeeper finish the job.
Turn 3: I win initiative again after using a Soulstone and Perdita then shoots the Peacekeeper into scrap before it can get stuck into her. Instead, the Guardian charges and Malcolm sensibly uses the shield bash attack to put some damage on Perdita and get round her ridiculous defence. Francisco flurries the other Hound to death and the Warden charges the last Stalker but can’t quite finish it off. The Stalker has no such issues and shreds the robot with his shattered rune blade despite the armour. Hoffman attacks Perdita using machine puppet on himself (funnily enough, it never occurred to me that you could do that) and I’m forced to use all but one of my Soulstones to keep her alive. Then I gamble with Santiago and shoot into the Guardian / Hoffman / Perdita scrum achieving nothing of note except not killing Perdita.
Turn 4: This turn is going to be critical for initiative, and Malcolm wins it with a 13. Not much point using a Soulstone on that. Hoffman duly lays into Perdita, and good flips keep me in it until the last shot (after tapping the Guardian for power to become fast). The final hit is high, and Malcolm stones it out of sight. I keep my final Soulstone in the hope of a good damage prevention flip, but the red joker is cheated into the damage and Perdita is well and truly vapourised, losing me the points for Bodyguard and getting Assassinate for Malcolm. Still this has the silver lining that Hoffman and the Guardian are no longer in melee. The remaining Ortegas companion, and Nino headshots the Guardian twice (again!) to drain the rest of Malcolm’s hand, though it does trigger ‘shielded’ to put his armour up to about fifty. I then have a most amazing run of cards when I rapid fire Santiago into the Guardian, getting trigger happy off repeatedly for a total of 8 hits. I black joker one them and it is pointed out that trigger happy requires damage (I’d assumed it worked off a hit) which breaks the chain at one point. But it is still more than the Guardian can take and the last shot puts it down as I cheat for severe to get rid of it. Francisco and then the Stalker charge the rather lonely looking Hoffman and force him to use the rest of his Soulstones just to survive.
Turn 5: It’s a bit of a formality at this point as a Hoffman with no constructs, no Soulstones and in melee is not a happy Hoffman. To make it even more embarrassing, I red joker the initiative flip. Francisco Ortega avenges the death of his sister by flurrying Hoffman to death. The final score is 6 – 3 to me (I got all 4 for Slaughter and 2 for Raid!; Malcolm got 1 for Slaughter and 2 for Assassinate). I had outrageously good cards throughout the game, and Malcolm had very bad cards too; at one point it looked like we’d split two decks and given me all the high cards and him all the low ones. Malcolm, if you’re reading this – sorry… Anyway, it was a fun game played in a good spirit and Malcolm took his ill fortune with a smile on his face. Or perhaps that was a grimace!
After the smoke clears, I get second place, behind Dave (who beat me in the second round) and narrowly ahead of Alan, who also had 2 wins and one loss but is slightly behind on some tie-breaker or other. I’m very happy with that, and I look forward a resumption of the jokes about being a ‘pro-tournament player’ from my friends.
To cap off an excellent day, I also take a prize for Santiago as best painted miniature. To be honest, I think that there was something odd going on here as I spent the whole day playing against and around miniatures painted better than any of my crew. David has a policy that if a miniature wins a prize then it’s not eligible again (presumably to prevent one player having one amazing crew then winning the prize every tournament without doing any more painting) so the only explanation is that everyone who had better painted miniatures than me already had a trophy at home.
Overall, it was a highly satisfactory day for me – three fun games of Malifaux against three really nice chaps, and plenty of banter in between for good measure. Aramoro has written a bit about his own experiences here and there are a load of pictures taken at the event by David, which can be found here, here and here. Thanks very much to David once again for all the work he puts in to make these events a success.