Malifaux tournament report: Fountain of Souls (35SS); 25May13

Another month, another Malifaux tournament! Furycat, Forkbanger and I drove out (with Joe, a Malifaux tournament stalwart, who turns out to live just round the corner from Furycat) to Worlds at War for the Fountain of Souls story event. Strictly speaking, it’s not a tournament in the sense that the strategies are story based and so things are more about theme than face beating. From my perspective, there’s no difference as it’s just an opportunity to play three games of Malifaux back to back, and (hopefully) play against people who aren’t in my regular gaming group.

Game 1: Ten Thunders (me) vs Neverborn (Stephen)

Strategy:
Tracing the Source. Carry a water token (but only one at a time per crew for some reason, presumably they only remembered to bring a single bucket with them) from a well in your deployment zone to both aquifers on the centre line. Moving by any means other than a walk means you drop the token and have to start again. Victory points for doing this for each aquifer, and another couple for being the first to put water in both aquifers.

Schemes:
Ten Thunders: Hold Out (stop the other side getting models in your deployment zone), Kill Protegé (just kill the most expensive minion; I chose Tuco as I thought he’d play further forward than Mr Graves who was also eligible)
Neverborn: Grudge (kill the Archer in melee with a minion), Breakthrough (have more models in your opponent’s deployment zone than they do)

Crews:
Ten Thunders: Mei Feng, Emberling, 2 Rail Workers, 2 Wastrels (one with Soulstone Bullet and the other with Earth’s Elixir), Ten Thunders Archer, Kang, 6SS
Neverborn: Lilith, Primordial Magic, Mr Graves, Tuco, Terror Tot, Young Nephilim, Waldgeist

I swithered a bit on the Wastrels for this strategy. On the one hand, they can’t use all their cool movement tricks and carry the water token, nor can they use them in general with Lilith on the board. On the other hand, they’re the cheapest models I own so I thought they’d be the least wasteful to mess around moving the water tokens. Everyone else was just intended to run interference for the Wastrels and disrupt the Neverborn’s own water carriers.

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Turn 1:  The Waldgeist moves the forest in the far corner toward one of the aquifers, and I realise that this is going to get awkward. The Primordial Magic put an Illusionary Forest near the other Aquifer, presumably to cover Lilith and the Young Nephilim. One of my Wastrels picks up some water, and the Tot does the same on the other side of the board. The Young heads over on the left and is shot by the Archer for his troubles. Lilith and Mei Feng both move forward to sit on the Aquifers.

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Turn 2:  My Archer kills the Young Nephilim, and puts a couple of wounds on Lilith with a blast from Yajiri. In retrospect, this was pretty much the last useful thing I achieved in the whole game. The Waldgeist uses his powers to attack Mei from the far side of his forest, putting a few wounds on her, and the Primordial Magic fails to Transposition Lilith into range to threaten Mei Feng. Mr Graves moves into probable attack range of Mei Feng, but the forest being moved by the Waldgeist means that getting Rail Workers into a useful position is tricky. Mei Feng eventually Rail Walks into Mr Graves but I can’t put much damage on him (I also forget to move into base to base contact after a Jackhammer Kick). Lilith smacks Kang down to his Hard to Wound, but 3 return attacks all miss hopelessly.

Turn 3:  Mr Graves flurries Mei Feng. On the first attack, I decide to use a Soulstone to avoid it rather than one of my good cards, needing a 3 to make it. I flip a 2, and the Red Joker (plus severe) comes out of the negative flip killing her in one fell blow. In my mind, Mr Graves beats her corpse for a few more attacks anyway, because of flurry. He then casts Bar’s Closed on a huge card, making pretty much the entire side of the board move. This causes both the Wastrel and Tot to spill their water. Kang tries another 3 attacks on Lilith but still can’t get a single hit in. She finishes him off in return (in retrospect, I think I forgot about Kang’s Slow to Die action, but after missing 6 previous attacks it probably wouldn’t have mattered) and moves to engage the Archer.  I force her to kill him off over two disengaging strikes thanks to Wicked. This denies Stephen his Grudge, though to be honest, I’d probably have been fine with her letting the Archer go instead. Tuco picks up some water and starts heading for the left hand aquifer.

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Turn 4:  The Rail Worker Implacable Assaults the Waldgeist but Black Jokers the first damage flip and misses the second. Mr Graves hurts one of the Rail Workers, is killed by the second and puts him down in return with Slow to Die. Lilith moves to engage both Wastrels, and kills one of them trying to get away with Wicked disengaging strikes.

Turn 5:  My Rail Worker finally takes out the Waldgeist, and Tuco actually scores a VP by putting his water token in the aquifer. The Tot moves back to the fountain and picks up another to start the process again. The surviving Wastrel uses Earth’s Elixir and moves around Lilith in the hope of luring her away from my deployment zone. He attacks her just for the form of it, but Black Jokers the strike anyway. My hope at this point is that Lilith will have to commit to taking out the Rail Worker and so be unable to get back into my deployment zone for Hold Out and Breakthrough, but Stephen very cleverly uses the Primordial Magic to Transposition Rail Worker and Tuco. Lilith beats the Wastrel down the one wound that he can stay on thanks to Earth’s Elixir.

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Turn 6:  The Wastrel fails to hit Lilith at all, and she beats him to death and moves into my deployment zone to score Breakthrough and deny my Hold Out. My Rail Worker kills the Primordial Magic, just because I can, then the Tot puts the other water token in the Aquifer to wrap up my defeat. Neverborn win 6 – 0. Ouch!  It’s been a while since I’ve felt that outclassed.

It was a fun game, but I don’t feel like I was ever really in it. Lilith just strolled around being impossible to hit, and Mei Feng went down very early on. In retrospect my choice of Wastrels as water carriers was poor as they’re very easy to kill and can’t actually use any of their cool movement tricks to do anything in this strategy. Picking up the water token also ends their Harmless ability.

Game 2: Ten Thunders (me) vs Guild (Furycat)

Strategy:
Unlocking the Potential. Both Masters start the game in ‘stasis’ in the Fountain, and can’t do anything apart from cast one spell a turn until they are ‘unlocked’ by a complicated business involving carting soul tokens from the aquifers to the Fountain. Carrying a soul token also makes you a Spirit. Points for picking up a soul token from each aquifer and for being the first to unlock the Fountain. Again, moving by any means other than a walk causes the token to be dropped. The spell that the Masters can cast is Manipulate Soul, effectively a super-powered Obey. The Fountain counts as a Pool of Aether so Masters can use a ‘free’ Soulstone once per turn.

Schemes:
Ten Thunders: Infiltrate Malifaux (finish the game with at least 2 dual faction minions), Bodyguard (keep your master alive)
Guild: Grudge (Rail Worker), Raid! (finish the game with more minions)

Crews:
Ten Thunders: Mei Feng, Rail Worker, 2 Wastrels (Petrified Feather, Strangemetal Blade), Yin the Penangalan, Kang, Ten Thunders Archer, 5SS
Guild: Perdita Ortega, 3 Witchling Stalkers, Witchling Handler, Exorcist, Santiago Ortega

This is a very odd strategy. I took Bodyguard as having the Masters out of action for most of the game meant that it was unlikely that I’d lose Mei Feng. I stuck with the Wastrels for token carriers since they could at least use movement shenanigans to get the soul counters first, and then use the Spirit characteristic to (hopefully) float through a wall to safety. Also, they’re cheap. The Emberling would have been pretty useless without Mei Feng’s spells to cast, and similarly I went with a single Rail Worker as it wasn’t likely that I’d need multiple jump points.  As a side note, playing against Furycat in tournament is weird because he uses my miniatures.  It’s odd to see them on the other side of the board, coming to get me.

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Turn 1:  Everyone rushes forward. The Archer one-shots a Witchling Stalker thanks to the increased damage track from Yajiri. Perdita then Manipulate Souls Kang to charge the poor Archer, hitting him flying and leaving him with a single wound. Mei returns the favour by getting the furthest forward surviving Stalker to charge its Handler, but I Black Joker the attack. The Wastrels move to the Aquifers, one using the Petrified Feather to do so and the other one using Hidden Passages. Hurrah for Lilith not having line of sight to the entire board!

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Turn 2:  The Archer repeats his trick with another Witchling Stalker; I activated him first because I though that Perdita was just Manipulate Soul Kang again to kill him off otherwise. Santiago Ortega Rapid Fires the Wastrel on the right to death, though at least Furycat is forced to burn a couple of cards to get round Harmless. Mei Feng Manipulate Souls the last Stalker to hit the Handler again, and Perdita does the same to get Yin to hit the surviving Wastrel. My Rail Walker moves to engage Santiago in melee, where he is significantly less horrible. Kang bashes the Handler, who has moved to threaten my Wastrel, with his spade, then the Stalker hits him in return and is in turn counter charged by Yin. Finally, the Wastrel picks up a soul token to score me a VP.

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Turn 3:  Kang knocks the Witchling Stalker out of melee, then walks over to beat the Handler senseless. The Exorcist attacks the Rail Worker in melee (for Grudge purposes) but Black Jokers the first hit. Yin finishes off the last Stalker who blows up to put a couple of wounds on her. The Rail Worker hits Santiago, then returns the Exorcist’s favour by Black Jokering an attack on him.

Turn 4:  Perdita Manipulate Souls Kang to hit Yin, but he misses thanks to the Mass of Viscera rule. The Rail Worker kills the Exorcist and is killed right back with the Slow to Die attack. Santiago, now free of melee, walks round to easily finish off the Archer. Mei Feng Manipulate Souls Kang to move back toward Santiago, who is now feeling rather lonely, and Kang goes up under his own steam to apply a spade. Yin heads for the other soul pool.

Turn 5:  Perdita tries to Manipulate Soul Santiago to get out of melee with Kang. It doesn’t work, and Kang pulverises the moustachioed gunslinger. Yin picks up the soul token for another VP.

Turn 6:  Perdita Manipulate Soul Yin to charge Kang. It doesn’t have any effect on Kang but it does force her to drop the soul token. I can’t move anyone fast enough to make them score and Perdita can just cast Manipulate Soul on them all day to make everyone drop the tokens, so we call it there. Ten Thunders win 6 – 2 (2 each for the strategy, Infiltrate Malifaux and Bodyguard for me, and Grudge for Furycat).

I was satisfied with the win, but I am not a fan of the strategy. Playing without a Master for the whole game really changes Malifaux, and others I spoke with on the day pointed out that they were happy to leave their Master in stasis if they felt that the other Master was stronger than their own. It also meant that Bodyguard was too easy a choice to make. The pseudo-obey spell meant that it was just about impossible to move the soul tokens around if you had more than one minion left as the could be forced to charge each other and then drop the token. Even worse, the Fountain giving a free once-per-turn Soulstone meant that it was impossible to resist when the spell was cast, as there is no reason not to do so.  Speaking with Furycat after the game, I think he focussed a bit too much on the brief period in which token carriers became spirits when selecting his crew and ended up with too many magical melee attacks at the cost of some flexibility.

Game 3: Ten Thunders (me) vs Neverborn (Irving)

Strategy:
The Fountain of Souls. Score victory points for having most miniatures in the fountain at the end of each turn after the first. The fountain itself has various effects for being in it (magic resistance and regeneration, plus it counted as cover) which we remembered and some effects which depended on how many things were killed that turn, which we totally forgot about.

Schemes:
Ten Thunders: Exterminate (on Beasts, ensure that no enemies with that characteristic were in the game at the end; this is the Silurids in this case), Save Face (some points available if neither player can score the full amount for the strategy)
Neverborn: Kidnap (kill both Rail Workers and Archer; unannounced), Kill Protegé (Yin the Penangalan)

Crews:
Ten Thunders: Mei Feng, 2 Rail Workers, Ten Thunders Archer, Kang, Yin the Penangalan, 8SS
Neverborn: Lilith, Primordial Magic, 3 Silurids, 3 Terror Tots, Hooded Rider

Since the mission is just a glorified Claim Jump, I went with the most survivable pieces I had. Yin is brutal in this kind of strategy as people have to get close to her Anathema. After some consideration I took the Emberling out of the crew; I don’t really need the extra movement from the Seismic Punch and Vent Steam was going to be of limited value against a melee crew like Lilith’s. I chose Exterminate as the three Silurids aren’t hard to put down and the strategy forces contact, and took Save Face as a gamble that it might be hard to score in the early turns.

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Turn 1:  Everyone runs toward the Fountain. Lilith puts an Illusionary Forest down in an irritating choke point.

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Turn 2:  The Archer puts a couple of wounds on the Hood Rider. Lilith moves to attack Yin but misses due to the negative flips from Mass of Viscera. A handy Rail Worker tries to get started on Lilith’s wounds but misses his attack anyway. The Silurids all activate together and leap into the Fountain. The first gets too close to Yin and is scared, falling back and being caught by her Wicked strike. The other two wisely keep their distance. The second Rail Worker also tries to hit Lilith and actually succeeds this time as Irving has used up most of his control hand. The Hooded Rider moves partially into the fountain but the placement of the Silurids means that he can’t get into range to hit anything or score on the strategy. Kang climbs over the wall, bashes Lilith with his spade and hurts the nearest Silurid (I was hoping to take advantage of the negative defence flips on the Silurid who was falling back to put moderate damage on to kill it but it was not to be). Yin floats over to stop Lilith from constantly splashing Black Blood on her, and also to maximise her Anathema effect over the Neverborn crew. A crowd of Terror Tots move to be a second wave of bodies into the Fountain once the Silurids are cleared out. Finally, Mei Feng puts a couple of ineffective attacks onto Lilith then casts Scalding Breath to hurt the cluster of Silurids and Hooded Rider. Irving scores a VP for the strategy.

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Turn 3:  Lilith is forced to burn most of her hand and Soulstones to survive Mei Feng’s assault, and Silurid is finished off by another Scalding Breath. Lilith attacks Mei Feng, who also has to use a few Soulstones but does at least get some use out of her armour from Iron Skin. Kang then finishes off Lilith, knocking her back to avoid the Black Blood, move into the Fountain and kills a second Silurid. The Hooded Rider fails to do anything to Mei Feng, and Yin fails to do anything useful to the last Silurid. The nearest Tot moves to reinforce the Neverborn in the Fountain, and the Archer moves up to kill one lurking further back. My Rail Workers gang up to kill off the nearest Tot. I score a VP on the strategy. I’m feeling pretty confident as I’ve hammered the Neverborn crew and lost nothing myself.

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Turn 4:  Mei Feng kills off the Hooded Rider with Tiger’s Claws and then uses her casting expert to take out the last Silurid with Scalding Breath (scoring my Exterminate). My crew dogpile the last Tot before it can even move into the Fountain. I score another VP on the strategy.

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Turn 5:  Yin kills the Tot, and I score another VP on the strategy.

Turn 6:  Everyone moves out of the Fountain so I can achieve Save Face. I win 7 – 1 (3 for the strategy and 2 each for my schemes; Irving has 1 for the strategy).

Again, I was happy with the win, but the Strategy wasn’t really different enough from Claim Jump to be worth talking about. My crew selection worked well enough in that Yin, Kang and Mei Feng can be very tough to get rid of, especially if you’re forced to jump down their throats as in this game.

Overall, I came out very pleased with 5th place (of 10), just behind Forkbanger (4th) and ahead of Furycat (7th). I should give a special mention for Forkbanger’s performance going undefeated with two wins and a draw, which is surely his best result. It was another good day of gaming with 3 fun games of Malifaux. There are more pictures on David’s blog, here and here.

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