My friends and I made another trip out to Worlds at War for a Malifaux tournament, this time for the Blood, Steel and Stones II event. Compared to the shenanigans of the previous event, this was set up to be a fairly straightforward tournament with the only thing out the ordinary being flipping strategies on the day and using a hiring pool (i.e. a limit of 60SS of miniatures selected prior to the day from which to choose a crew). This might have been a useful field-leveller between the newest players and those with huge collections, though I am not certain that it ended up having too much of an effect for me. Furycat was still using my Guild, so I kept with the Ten Thunders miniatures. My crew list:
Jakob Lynch, Mei Feng
Hungering Darkness (0)
2 Rail Workers (10)
2 Beckoners (10)
2 Illuminated (12)
2 Wastrels (8)
Mr Graves (7)
For 57 soulstones
Game 1: Ten Thunders (me) vs Neverborn (Barry)
Master of the Hill (points at the end of each round after the first for having more significant miniatures within 6″ of a marker in the middle of the board).
Ten Thunders: Stake a Claim (nominate a terrain piece on the other half of the board and end with a model touching it), Exterminate (on Beasts, ensure that no enemies with that characteristic were in the game at the end)
Neverborn: Reclaim Malifaux (interact with a terrain piece in each of nine board sections), Bodyguard (keep your master alive)
Ten Thunders: Jakob Lynch, Hungering Darkness, Kang, 2 Beckoners, Illuminated
Neverborn: Zoraida, Stitched Together, 3 Silurids, Bad Juju
I like the Lynch / Hungering Darkness combination for Master of the Hill as Hungering Darkness is great for taking and holding an area, and I am always happy to find enemies forced into his waiting maw. Kang and the Beckoners are a strong option in general for face-beating and board control respectively. I haven’t much been a fan of the Illuminated but this is the kind of strategy where its toughness should come into its own. Stake a Claim is a bit like doubling down on the strategy – if I can take and hold the centre then I can easily score on an item nearby. Exterminate seemed like a good idea as the Silurids make up half of Barry’s crew and they’ll have to come to me and fight (rather than their preferred hit and run style) if he’s going to score on the strategy.
Turn 1: Barry’s Silurids jump around and reclaim various parts of Malifaux, and Zoraida predictably creates her Voodoo Doll. She then Obeys Kang to attack Lynch and I am forced to use a Soulstone to avoid getting the poor chap half beaten to death by a spade in turn 1. For my part, Hungering Darkness makes Kang permanently Brilliant with Light Inside so he has a tasty snack for the rest of the game and Lynch casts The Source to speed my crew toward the centre ground. Bad Juju puts in an appearance near to the centre too.
Turn 2: The Voodoo doll tries to Obey Kang again but can’t pull it off, then Zoraida casts Raven and hides behind a building. I have no idea what purpose this served since I am nowhere near in range to do any harm to her anyway, but presumably Barry had some cunning plan. Kang, acting of his own volition for a change, attacks Bad Juju and puts a few wounds on him, and is then killed by the big chap. I move Hungering Darkness into the middle of the Silurids and the Stitched Together in the hope of affecting something with Terror. Sadly, my attack on a Silurid is greeted by the black joker so that doesn’t work well. He does make one the Silurids poke the Stitched Together with Heed My Voice though. Two of the Silurids gang up to kill a Beckoner, but the third is terrified and flees for the table edge. The surviving Beckoner gets a lucky red joker on a triple negative damage flip against Bad Juju, sending him back to the compost heap for another turn, and Lynch and the Illuminated put a couple of wounds on one of the Silurids. I score a VP for the strategy.
Turn 3: The fleeing Silurid rallies and reclaims a bit more of Malifaux before the Hungering Darkness kills off one of his brothers. The last one joins the first hiding on a roof, and Zoraida continues to skirt round the end of the board interacting with scenery for her scheme. With not much to do, Lynch, the Beckoner and the Illuminated just get into handy positions in the centre, scoring me another VP for Master of the Hill. Bad Juju reappears in my right hand quarter.
Turn 4: The Silurids leap around some more and end up near Bad Juju. Hungering Darkness gets the Stitched Together down to his Does Not Die reactivate, which is used to put a few wounds on Hungering Darkness with Deepest Fears. The Beckoner shoots Bad Juju fairly ineffectually and Lynch kills off a Silurid. Normally I am reticent to put Lynch in harm’s way but I thought that I would be safe enough considering my cache and the fact the Zoraida was on the far side of the board. To my surprise, Bad Juju doesn’t even try it on with Lynch, instead shambling away to reclaim a bit more of Malifaux. With no pressure on the centre at all, I score a further VP for the strategy.
Turn 5: Lynch finishes off the last Silurid by soulstoning a gunfighter shot out of sight and dropping the red joker on the damage flip, getting my Exterminate scheme. Zoraida and Bad Juju move around and finish off Reclaim Malifaux and my Illuminated moves to get Stake a Claim. We end the game for time and I score again for Master of the Hill. I take the win 8 – 4 (full points for me, full points on schemes only for Barry).
Game 2: Ten Thunders (me) vs Resurrectionists (Forkbanger)
Treasure Hunt (points for holding onto a token in the middle of the board for as long as possible).
Ten Thunders: Save Face (some points available if neither player can score the full amount for the strategy), Hold Out (stop the other side getting models in your deployment zone)
Resurrectionists: Eye For An Eye (end the game with the same number of models as the other crew plus or minus one), Bodyguard (keep your master alive)
Ten Thunders: Jakob Lynch, Hungering Darkness, Kang, 2 Beckoners, 2 Wastrels (one with Earth’s Elixir and one with Soulstone Bullet)
Resurrectionists: Seamus (plus Avatar), Copycat Killer, Izamu the Armour, 3 Rotten Belles
Lynch and the Hungering Darkness feel like a good option in Treasure Hunt for exactly the same reason that I liked them in Master of the Hill – I can put Hungering Darkness on the counter and force everyone to come and deal with him. The board we were playing on had the treasure marker in the centre of a big forest, which promised to be a real pain in the neck. I swapped the Illuminated out for a pair of Wastrels, mainly for a change and to try and get some mileage out of them, though I thought that they might provide a useful distraction. Save Face is an easy choice in this strategy since the chance of the treasure being cleared out early enough for either side to rack up 4 VPs on it is very low. I took Hold Out to force Forkbanger to split his crew or give me a couple of easy VPs.
Turn 1: Hungering Darkness makes Kang permanently Brilliant again and everyone moves up to the treasure marker. I do finally remember to get a Beckoner to Come Hither Kang forward to get him in the action a bit sooner. Seamus does some stuff to allow him to become the Avatar of Dread.
Turn 2: Seamus shoots a Beckoner who rather foolishly is standing in the open in front of Malifaux’s premiere misogynist mass murderer. To add insult to injury, he then raises her corpse into a Dead Doxy. In fairness, this is probably the transformation that makes most sense in the game (i.e. live prostitute to zombie prostitute). Hungering Darkness hits a Belle in the wood and tightens his tentacly grip on the treasure. The Belle lures a Wastrel forward, who uses Earth’s Elixir and shoot the Copycat Killer rather uselessly. Copycat Killer shows the Wastrel how it’s done by smoking him with a giant handgun and the Wastrel only survives thanks to the Elixir. Kang moves up and smack both Belles out of the forest (and away from the treasure) with his spade, and Izamu moves up to threaten my heavy hitters. Finally, various combinations of Beckoners, Doxies, Belles and Wastrels all attack each other with little discernible effect thanks to the black jokers and general low flips.
Turn 3: Kang puts some good wounds on Izamu, but not enough to take the Armour down. In a surprise move (a mistake in my opinion) Forkbanger activates a Belle instead of Izamu, killing off the cheeky Wastrel whose Elixir has now run out. Taking advantage of my good fortune, Hungering Darkness happily eats Izamu’s soul, getting rid of one of the big threats. A Belle kills my other Wastrel and is taken out by Lynch in turn. Lynch is mostly using his card trick to move for a clear shot and back to safety each turn as I can’t risk losing him to a good shot from Seamus. The Avatar of Dread is unleashed in the forest and starts off by smacking Kang, getting a trigger to cause a terror check and sending him fleeing when I flip the black joker.
Turn 4: Hungering Darkness attacks Seamus, causing massive damage with a red joker flip, but Seamus is able to burn his last few Soulstones to survive and I can’t quite finish the Job. Not surprisingly, Kang is easily dealt with by Seamus, and everyone else continues their general useless flailing around with doing a lot of damage to anyone.
Turn 5: I get initiative again on this critical turn and Hungering Darkness finishes off Seamus. The last wound (because of Hard to Wound) is dealt by a Heed My Voice’d Doxy who was formerly my Beckoner. It’s the last turn due to time and a last sprint for my deployment zone by a Belle isn’t quite enough to deny me my Hold Out. I take a narrow 4 – 2 win, neither of us scored on Treasure Hunt but I did get points for both my schemes while Forkbanger didn’t get Bodyguard.
Game 3: Ten Thunders (me) vs Outcasts (Paul)
Beatdown (points for killing more of the other side each turn).
Ten Thunders: Bodyguard, Kill Protegé (just kill the most expensive minion; it was a tie between Rami Lacroix, Burt and Wong so I chose Burt)
Outcasts: Frame for Murder (get a specific minion killed by the enemy master; Burt in this case), Breakthrough (have more models in your opponent’s deployment zone than they do)
Ten Thunders: Mei Feng, Emberling, Kang, 2 Rail Workers, Mr Graves
Outcasts: Ophelia Lacroix, Rami Lacroix, 3 Young Lacroix, Burt Jebsen, Wong, Slop Hauler, 2 Bayou Gremlins
I had pretty much decided to use Mei Feng for the last game anyway so I was quite pleased to see that Beatdown had been selected as she’s pretty good at killing stuff. She’s also very handy against Gremlins as they tend to be stronger at range, which she can shut down with judicious use of Vent Steam. I figured between that and a full cache of 8 soulstones I should have a decent chance of scoring Bodyguard. Kill Protegé seemed was promising since the choice was of three relatively cheap models so I selected Burt as he’s most likely to be in melee where I can kill him. So of course I was thwarted somewhat when I found that Paul had chosen Frame for Murder on him to make it pointless to finish him off with Mei Feng.
Turn 1: The Emberling starts 2″ behind Kang, Seismic Punches him, Mr Graves and Rail Worker forward then walks up and links. Most of my crew moves up, but most of the Gremlins seem keen to stay put and let me come to them. I am mostly trying to stay on one side of the forest in the centre to keep some gun fire off my crew. Wong races up and hits the leading Rail Worker with Lightning which jumps to the other one. Rami shoots an exposed Rail Worker but flips a one and abruptly ends his activation. Mei has already had enough of her crew being shot up so she Rail Walks to the front and puts up Vent Steam. Mr Graves uses Bar’s Closed to move Kang a bit further forward, and Kang then races up to Wong and black jokers his attack. Oh well. Ophelia drags Wong back to safety with Ooh A Girl! and finally the Slop Hauler heals all those pesky Reckless wounds the Gremlins have suffered.
Turn 2: I win iniative but I’m not really in a position to launch a decent attack so I just move the Emberling forward and Vent Steam to thwart much of the shooting. The back Rail Worker moves forward out of Rami’s line of fire, and the sniper Gremlin laboriously climbs up a big rock on the far side of the forest so see if he can see anything. I move the leading Rail Worker forward to act as a launchpad for Mei Feng to attack, but Ophelia inconsiderately kills him before I get the chance. Kang moves forward and black jokers his second attack in a row, this time against a Young Lacroix. Mr Graves uses Bar’s Closed to get Mei forward now that I can’t Rail Walk to anywhere useful, and she charges Wong, dropping the Red Joker to put him down. She uses Tiger’s Fury to follow up into a Bayou Gremlin but he survives and escapes with Squeel! so instead Mei casts Scalding Breath and cheats the damage up to kill a nearby Young Lacroix. I get a VP for Beatdown.
Turn 3: Ophelia shoots a few wounds off Kang but poor flips mean she misses a crucial shot. She companions the Slop Hauler who heals the nearby Gremlins. Kang kills off a Bayou Gremlin then black jokers an attack on Ophelia to complete his hat-trick and she uses a Soulstone to avoid a final hit. Burt Jebsen moves up to attack Kang but even he can’t finish off the big man, although he is down to his Hard to Wound. Mr Graves charges over to smite a Young Lacroix which had been heading to get Breakthrough until Paul remembered that Insignificant models don’t count for that scheme. The game is about to end for time so Rami tries to leg it down from his lovely perch to score Breakthrough, but he’s not quite fast enough. I win 4 – 0 (2 for Bodyguard and 2 for Beatdown).
The scores come in and I am in first place! Hurrah. I try to treat victory and defeat the same, but I can’t deny that there is a certain sweetness to victory. Especially since my kids had promised me two stickers if I came home having won the tournament – they are now adorning the trophy. I’ve had another great day of playing with toy soldiers with three highly enjoyable games against three nice folk. In some ways I would prefer not to be drawn against Furycat, Forkbanger or Aramaro in a tournament since almost all my games are with them anyway, but there’s nothing to be done about it. For their parts, Aramoro came in 6th, Forkbanger in 8th and Furycat in 9th, but I think we were all satisfied with the days entertainment.