I attended the St Valentine’s Slaughter Malifaux tournament, organised as usual by our local Henchman. The format was fixed master, 35SS with preset strategies and unique schemes across all games as is the norm for these events. The strategies (all shared) were Deliver a Message, Treasure Hunt and Beatdown. I slightly theorise that Perdita Ortega would be the better master for these strategies, but I really like Sonnia Criid, so that probably tells you all you need to know about the kind of high-level thinking I do about this sort of thing. There’s a bit of a faction bias in this tournament as over half the players had Guild or Ten Thunders, with Resurrectionists not represented at all. There are also a few side accomplishments for the ongoing Dead of Winter campaign. I mostly forgot about them, but some players did rack up a lots of achievements.
Game 1: Guild (me) vs Ten Thunders (Dave R)
Deliver a Message (points for interacting with your opponent’s master, more of them for doing it first or near the start of the game).
Guild: Hold Out (stop the other side getting models in your deployment zone; unannounced), Kill Protegé (just kill the most expensive minion; Kang in this case)
Ten Thunders: Assassinate (kill the other master), Breakthrough (have models in your opponent’s deployment zone than they do)
Guild: Sonnia Criid, 2 Witchling Stalkers, Witchling Handler, Austringer, Santiago Ortega, 2 Guild Hounds
Ten Thunders: Misaki, Shang, Kang, Yamaziko, 2 Ten Thunders Brothers, Ten Thunders Archer
The Guild Hounds are quick and can be useful for picking up points on interaction strategies; similarly the Handler’s ability to push Witchling Stalkers around can mean they occasionally have enough AP to actually accomplish an interaction strategy. I figure an unannounced Hold Out could be good if I can tie the Ten Thunders up in midfield for the majority of the game. As for Kill Protegé: Kang simply has to die since he’s very killy, so I might as well score some points on it. Helpfully he has Hard to Kill, making him perfect for Violation of Magic.
Turn 1: Basically everyone runs forward. There are remarkably few shenanigans.
Turn 2: One of the Ten Thunders Brothers charges a Hound and kills it. So much for interacting with anything (Guild Hounds are only significant when there’s more than one of them); it bites the guy back a bit. Shang flies into the middle of the board and a Stalker moves up but misses a shot. I assume that Shang was bait since the Ten Thunders Archer then blows away the Stalker with a Red Joker damage flip. I decide to give the Archer a wide berth if possible since he’s in a nice nest but his maximum range only just extends on to the hill. Santiago strolls onto the hill and puts Shang down, and my Austringer sends his raptor to peck at the unengaged Ten Thunders Brother for minimal effect. The surviving Stalker then finishes him off after the Brother flips a Black Joker despite his super-defensive stance. Yamaziko and Misaki are moving around the side trying to avoid my guns. Kang walks up in a threatening way, so the Handler shoots him a few times, mainly to soften him up. I decide that it’s time to make sure he’s down for good. Sonnia throws out a Flame Burst, getting severe damage and even tagging the Ten Thunders Archer with a blast. Conveniently, Kang now has one wound left, so Sonnia turns him into a Witchling Stalker with Violation of Magic. The fresh Stalker moves up to Misaki in case I get initiative next turn.
Turn 3: I do indeed get initiative, so the Stalker-that-used-to-be-Kang delivers a Valentine’s message to Misaki, wrapping up 4 VPs for me. The Ten Thunders Brother continues to flap at the pesky dog in front of him but ridiculously bad cards stop him from achieving much, and the Hound has more or less the same total lack of effect. Santiago, on the other hand, realises that he has a shot on Yamaziko and rapid fires her to almost death; she uses a Soulstone to keep a single wound. Then, thanks to Disrupt Magic from the Stalker she fails to heal with Invigorate, though she does sensibly move to hide from Santiago’s guns. Misaki casts Downburst to move the Stalker out of the way then charges Santiago and kills him (I forgot about Hard to Kill at the time). Seeing Misaki alone the rest of my crew try and put some wounds on her, but sadly despite ranged attempts from the Austringer and Sonnia followed by the Stalker and Handler getting into combat, we only manage a couple of wounds and force her to burn a few Soulstones.
Turn 4: Yamaziko keeps moving to try and pick up Breakthrough (and deny me Hold Out, though Dave didn’t know that at the time) so I take advantage of Misaki’s surprise lack of activation to put a couple more wounds on her with the Stalker. Apparently this only angers her as she bludgeons both the Handler and the Stalker in a single activation – ouch! I get the Hound to finish off the Ten Thunders Brother before he activates, knowing that the main threats have already moved. The Ten Thunders Archer starts the slog forward toward the action, since he’s not achieving anything sitting in his own deployment area. The last Stalker finishes off Yamaziko, and Sonnia casts Flame Bursts at Misaki until I finally get a straight flip on damage where I can cheat in the Red Joker and kill her. Dave offers his hand at this point since he’s only got one wounded Archer left; I take the maximum points for a 7 – 0 victory and we chat a while until everyone else is finished. It turns out that Dave has only played a couple of games with Misaki and is still trying to get comfortable with her crew. Misaki seemed pretty amusing to me, and she can really kick arse in melee. My opponent for the next round is David H, who is probably the best player at these tournaments.
Game 2: Guild (me) vs Ten Thunders (David H)
Treasure Hunt (points for holding onto a token in the middle of the board for as long as possible).
Guild: Bodyguard (keep your master alive), Stake a Claim (nominate a terrain piece on the other half of the board and end with a model touching it)
Ten Thunders: Bodyguard, Save Face (some points available if neither player can score the full amount for the strategy)
Guild: Sonnia Criid, 2 Witchling Stalkers, Witchling Handler, Austringer, Nino Ortega, 2 Guild Hounds
Ten Thunders: Jakob Lynch, Hungering Darkness, Mr Graves, 2 Depleted, Illuminated, Beckoner, Stitched Together, Desperate Mercenary
My own crew is largely similar to the previous round, in that they can do some movement tricks to get close to the treasure and hopefully do something with it. Nino gets the nod ahead of Santiago because of the large patch of open ground in the middle of the board. Both schemes are selected on the basis that I have a decent chance to collect the points regardless of the outcome of the treasure hunt, and I will need all the points I can get if I’m going to get any where in this match. I suspect that David will plan to sit the Hungering Darkness on the treasure and force me to deal with him.
Turn 1: As usual, we all move up. The Hungering Darkness ends up in range to cast Heed My Voice on a Stalker, forcing it to charge Nino. It appears that David really doesn’t like Nino, and I can see why since he’s pretty good with that gun of his. Mr Graves pushes most of the crew forward with Bar’s Closed. The turn ends with a ridiculous clump of Ten Thunders models around the treasure: both Depleted, the Illuminated and the Stitched Together, with the Beckoner and Hungering Darkness nearby.
Turn 2: I win initiative, and it turns out that Sonnia loves clumps of models. When she’s finished Flame Bursting the lot of them, the Illuminated and Hungering Darkness are gone, the Stitched Together will die at the end of the turn and both Depleted are on their Hard to Kill wounds. Mr Graves rushes up and beat Nino to death. My Austringer kills one of the Depleted (if the Hungering Darkness is going to come back, I want it to happen far away) and Delivers Orders to the Guild Hounds who run up and nearly take out the Desperate Mercenary. Jakob Lynch then has the best run of Dead Man’s hand I’ve ever seen, keeping five of the six cards drawn on the Hound and forcing me to discard on every one. So now I have no control hand, and David almost certainly has a pair in his hand to bring back the Hungering Darkness. Oh well. My Stalker kills the other Depleted, and, of course, the Hungering Darkness pops out. The Witchling Handlers flees, and one of the Hungering Darkness’s first acts (after picking up the treasure for some VPs) is to Heed My Voice the Austringer to kill her off with a Red Joker damage flip. I generally feel like I can only rely on the Austringer to manage one wound at a time, so it’s particularly galling to get 8 wounds in a single go against one of my own crew.
Turn 3: The Austringer take out the Beckoner and then Delivers Orders to Sonnia. Sonnia stabs Mr Graves, thereby killing off the last Brilliant model on the table. She tries to Flame Burst the Hungering Darkness, cheating and Soulstoning it up to a straight flip. I have a card in my hand for severe damage. The Hungering Darkness has only five wounds remaining. I utter the famous last words of anyone playing Malifaux: ‘Anything but the Black Joker’. I flip the Black Joker. A single manly tear runs down my face. The Hungering Darkness charges Sonnia and put some good wounds on her, and Lynch kills off the Hound.
Turn 4: If I can win initiative, I might still be in with a chance here (otherwise Hungering Darkness will shred the pitiful remains of my crew). I flip a 3. Amazingly, so does David. Sadly, on the reflip I get a 2. Hungering Darkness kills Sonnia. My Austringer starts to make a run for my Stake a Claim objective and Jakob nearly kills him with his little gun. At least my Stalker does manage to kill off the Hungering Darkness.
Turns 5 and 6: Lynch kills off the Austringer, but the Stalker lives long enough to score my Stake a Claim. David wins 5 – 2; he’s got Save Face, Bodyguard and a point for the treasure; I only managed Stake a Claim. It was a really good tight game, and I felt like I was at least challenging David throughout which is enough for me. Indeed, a measure of how tight this game was is probably evidenced by the lack of photos after engagment. The third and final game of the day was against Jonny’s Hamelin crew.
Game 3: Guild (me) vs Outcasts (Jonny)
Beatdown (points for killing more of the other side each turn).
Guild: Raid! (finish the game with more minions), Subjugate (successfully create two Witchling Stalkers from enemies using Violation of Magic)
Outcasts: Hold Out, Kill Protegé (Nino Ortega)
Guild: Sonnia Criid, 2 Witchling Stalkers, Austringer, Nino Ortega, Santiago Ortega, Francisco Ortega
Outcasts: Hamelin the Plagued, 2 Terror Tots, Arcane Effigy, 2 Canine Remains, 5 Malifaux Rats, Baby Kade
The strategy is all about killing everything, and luckily that’s right up my street as Guild. I dropped the Guild Hounds (too fragile) and Witchling Handler (good, but more about support) from my previous crew and added in Santiago and Francisco Ortega as they’re good at laying down the pain. I choose Raid! because it synergises well with Beatdown in that if I’m going to kill everything in sight I will probably end up with more minions in play at the end. Subjugate, on the other hand was a bit of a random shot since I almost never remember to use it; some games I would have it accomplished 3 times over and other times Violation of Magic just never comes into play. In some ways it a bad scheme against Hamelin’s crew since the Voracious Rats could stop me achieving it depending on how the rest of the game is going. Jonny asked me to select a crew for him for an achievement in the Dead of Winter league. I tried to choose something that wasn’t totally stupid, and tried to theorise a reasonable crew for growing Nephilim. On discussion later, Jonny suggested that he would have swapped all the rats for Nix and some more Soulstones if he was choosing it. Still, it’s always going to put you at a disadvantage if someone else picks your crew for you (and I wussed out of doing it on my own crew).
Turn 1: My crew move forward to get ready for some shooting. The Outcasts mostly muck about in their own deployment area. The upshot is that both Canine Remains are gone but one of the Terror Tots has grown to a Young Nephilim and there’s a Rat Catcher and a Stolen in play.
Turn 2: Only Kade has moved forward, so the Austringer, Nino and Santiago attack him to minimal effect. Hamelin comes out and forces Santiago to charge Nino with Obedience. Not surprisingly, a fist fight between two shooting specialists turns out to be something of a damp squib (Sonnia had previously stopped this happening with the far more capable Francisco thanks to Advanced Counterspell). Sonnia, tired her of her minions’ inability to deal with Kade, takes matters into her own hands. A focussed Flame Burst vapourises Kade and the blast damage takes a chunk out of Hamelin, the Young Nephilim and the Rat Catcher and also kills a summoned Stolen.
Turn 3: A Stalker charges Hamelin, makes a mess of his attack and is turned into paste by the mighty Black Staff. Hamelin then Pipes the other Stalker to charge Sonnia, who uses a Soulstone to avoid the attack. The Austringer plinks the Young Nephilim (mainly to waste activations as he was the only model who could do much without moving) which then tries and fails to charge him. Sonnia uses Violation of Magic twice on the Young Nephilim (as it had two wounds left) to get started on my Subjugate scheme while it is out of Hamelin’s Voracious Rats aura. Another beautiful Flame Burst on Hamelin puts a few more wounds on him and finishes the Rat Catcher and another Stolen. Nino shoots the Effigy down to one wound. [Note: for another Dead of Winter achievement, Jonny did this round playing his control hand blind. It certainly made his life harder, though I’m not sure it changed the effects very much.]
Turn 4: Hamelin realises that he’s going to have to do this himself. He makes Sonnia Insignificant, then smites a mighty 9 damage on with a severe hit; Sonnia has to burn another Soulstone to dodge another big hit. My Stalker casts Dispel Magic to remove the effect from Sonnia and then stabs Hamelin who is forced to use his last Soulstone to avoid it. As the Terror Tot is slightly out of range of Hamelin’s aura, Sonnia turns it into another Witchling Stalker with Violation of Magic, getting me Subjugate. She kills off Hamelin up close and personal, but the Rat that comes out of him does come perilously close to returning the favour before a Stalker squashes it. Santiago takes out the Effigy, and Jonny calls it there. He’s got a single Rat lurking about somewhere in a forest, and I have a larger crew than I started with and no reason not to rack up all the remaining points. I win 8 – 0. That was a pretty funny game, but it was probably affected by the crew selection right from the start. We spoke about it for a bit and Jonny wasn’t sure that a crew he’d selected would have fared better, so we’ll have to try and duke it out again some time.
Once the scores are counted up, I come in second behind David H which is a result I am very happy with. In terms of more useful results, I managed to get in three highly entertaining games of Malifaux against three very agreeable gentlemen. Thanks very much again to Dave R, David H and Jonny for the games, and to David KS for all his hard work making these tournaments run smoothly. There are a few photo galleries available here, here and here. Bring on the next tournament!