This weekend Forkbanger and I travelled over to Stirling to take part in (day one of) the Scottish Summer GT 2014. It’s held in Common Grounds, which I think is a converted pool hall and is therefore a huge open space with loads of tables; in other words a perfect gaming environment. The format is fixed faction with two games at 40SS and the second two at 50SS. I only own four masters for Ten Thunders so I decided before the event that I would use a different one each round. The first round pairing were announced and I get drawn straight away against David Hamilton who is the strongest Malifaux player in Scotland and probably the best I’ve played with anywhere. Still, if I’m to do well I need to play against the big players sooner or later (and hilariously, two of the other people I regarded as likely winners also got drawn against each other in the first round).
Game 1: Ten Thunders (me) vs Outcasts (David)
Pool: Line in the Sand, Breakthrough, Protect Territory, Spring the Trap, Murder Protege
Ten Thunders: Protect Territory (announced), Murder Protege (Bishop; unannounced)
Outcasts: Breakthrough (announced), Murder Protege (Toshiro; unannounced)
Ten Thunders: Mei Feng (Recalled Training, Seismic Claws), 3 Rail Workers, 2 Illuminated, Toshiro the Daimyo, 3SS
Outcasts: Tara (Oathkeeper, Knowledge of Eternity), 3 Ronin, Johan, Bishop (Oathkeeper)
I’d originally hoped to play McCabe in the first round as I’m not really strong with him, but if I bring anything less than my top game against David he’ll eat me alive. I took a group of minions which are hard to kill and deal significant damage, then top them off with Toshiro as he turns melee minions right up to 11. The key to using Mei Feng is knowing how much she can bite off in one go, and when you need to use the last action to walk or Rail Walk back to relative safety. The scheme pool is quite friendly for the Emberling but in Reckoning it is just too easy to kill the little chap and score. Bishop needed to die if I was to have any chance so I took an unannounced Murder Protege on him (I didn’t want David to play too cagey with Bishop), and I picked Protect Territory as I didn’t have much intention of advancing too far anyway. As soon as I saw David’s crew I knew that I’d made a terrible mistake with crew selection as she could get damage on more than one of my pieces with a single swing.
Turn 1: Tara starts us off my making Johan fast and giving herself reactivate; Toshiro makes a Rail Worker Fast and advances, dropping a scheme marker that I can discard for Focus in a later turn. John advances to bait me up and I take it with the fast Rail Worker; I knew that this would allow Tara to make a start on the Rail Workers for Reckoning but on the other hand I did want a Rail Walk point forward anyway. He drops Johan to his hard to kill wound and Mei Feng Rail Walks in to finish him off. Tara does get in about the lead Rail Worker and drop it and one of the others to their hard to kill wounds in anticipation of the next round; at least it costs her 3 of her 4 soulstones to do so.
Turn 2: The Rail Worker, who is about to die anyway, chooses to go out in a blaze of glory and mauls Tara quite effectively. Tara responds by dropping both wounded Rail Workers (scoring a point for Reckoning in the process) and retreats to what she thinks is safety from Mei Feng’s retaliation. My female Illuminated charges Bishop and hurts him before being flurried to death in return. Toshiro charges in and drops Bishop to a single wound, forcing him to use up the last soulstone in the process. Mei Feng charges Tara and chains together a spectacular sequence of kung fu attacks to kill her with an action to spare so Mei Feng retreats back round the building. In retrospect I think that this was probably a mistake as the Ronin there wasn’t likely to do much to Mei Feng and it might have kept the heat off my pieces on the left. Speaking of which, the Ronin move in and shoot the Illuminated, and in return the last Rail Worker walks up and hits the nearest one.
Turn 3: I win the initiative and Toshiro wastes no time putting the last wound on Bishop, scoring me two VP for Murder Protege. David mentioned the initiative flip here as being crucial, but even if he’d won it, the Ronin wasn’t going to kill off Toshiro and if Bishop tried he’d die from Bloated Stench the first time he put any damage on Toshiro. The Ronin on the left hits the Rail Worker to get away with the Next Target trigger and drop a scheme marker for Breakthrough and then my Rail Worker and the other Ronin trade hits for no effect. Mei Feng kills the Ronin on the right and drops a scheme marker (scoring for Reckoning) and the Illuminated drops the nearby Ronin to her hard to kill wound.
Turn 4: In surely the shortest meaningful turn of any tournament I’ve played in, the Rail Worker finishes off the wounded Ronin, then all the minions run as far away from each other as possible. Mei Feng and Toshiro chase down the last Ronin and the Illuminated drops a scheme marker.
Turn 5: Mei Feng fails to kill the Ronin but does burn all the good cards out of David’s control hand. The Ronin, in a last desperate attempt to score for Murder Protege, flurries Toshiro but only succeeds in killing herself with Bloated Stench. The Rail Worker puts down a scheme marker and I score for Reckoning again. Ten Thunders win 7 – 2 (3 for Protect Territory, 2 each for Murder Protege and Reckoning for me; 1 each for Breakthrough and Reckoning for David).
That was a tight game but ultimately I think it was decided when Bishop took so much damage from the Illuminated and Toshiro on turn 2, and when Tara didn’t get far enough away from Mei Feng at the same time. I was very relieved to get away with only losing a single Rail Worker to Tara’s Sympathetic Echoes trigger as I thought that could really affect the game.
Game 2: Ten Thunders (me) vs Guild (Mark)
Pool: Line in the Sand, Distract, Assassinate, Outflank, Vendetta
Ten Thunders: Distract, Vendetta (Thunder Archer on Santiago)
Guild: Assassinate, Vendetta (Santiago on Toshiro)
Ten Thunders: Lucas McCabe (Glowing Sabre, Badge of Speed, Strangemetal Shirt), Toshiro the Daimyo (Command the Graves), 2 Wastrels, Luna, Rail Worker, Thunder Archer, 3SS
Guild: Perdita Ortega (Trick Shooting), Francisco Ortega (Wade In), Santiago Ortega (Hair Trigger), 3 Death Marshalls, Enslaved Nephilim
Seeing the board I was on and knowing that Mark was fielding Guild made me wish I hadn’t already ‘used up’ Mei Feng, but I stuck with my silly self-imposed rule. Toshiro took his upgrade this time with the idea that I might get some extra minions, always a good thing in Reconnoitre. Luna and the Wastrels were included because they are cheap but score just fine in this strategy. I like to use the Archer for Vendetta as it is really hard to avoid his range for the whole game especially as it’s not announced. McCabe can really tune up minions so it was an even easier choice to take that scheme; the chosen victim was Santiago as he can’t use soulstones.
Turn 1: The Rail Worker advances to what he thinks is the relative safety of the gallows in the centre, so Perdita quickly dispels the myth that anywhere is safe by using Trick Shooting to kill him. Toshiro War Fans to make the Archer fast then raises an Ashigaru from the remains of the Rail Worker. Francisco uses El Mayor to help Santiago and takes a defensive stance after advancing. McCabe Black Flashes the Archer, gives him the Badge of Speed and moves up to make a Death Marshal slow with the net gun. Santiago moves up and shoots Toshiro (scoring a point for Vendetta) so the Archer shows him how it is really done, firing seven shots into the big Ortega and taking him down to his hard to kill wound and scoring me a Vendetta point in the process.
Turn 2: The Archer puts another volley into Santiago, finally dropping him on the third shot (tenth overall!) and burning a few good cards out of Mark’s hand in the process, this also gets me the remaining two points for Vendetta. The central Death Marshal misses a shot at the Ashigaru then Companions to Perdita who blows a few big holes in Toshiro. The Ashigaru walks up and distracts her. Francisco uses El Mayor on Perdita to remove any chance I have of hitting her then pushes her back out of melee with the Ashigaru. McCabe charges Francisco to bang him up a bit and distracts him for good measure, then one Death Marshal kills the Ashigaru and the other kills Toshiro (pulling the Red Joker on a triple negative damage flip and scoring a second point for Vendetta). Luna and both Wastrels continue to hide in convenient places so I score for Reconnoitre; I also score for Distract.
Turn 3: The Archer Rapid Fires Francisco down to his hard to kill wound and makes him slow. The Nephilim Shackles Francisco away from McCabe and toward Perdita and companions to her; she drops the Archer down to a single wound but black jokers a last shot so he leaps aside into the cover of the building and out of line of sight. The Wastrel on the right kills the nearer Death Marshal, dropping the Red Joker on the second (focussed) shot. On the left, the other Death Marshal charges McCabe but fails to Pine Box him and pays for it with his life. Francisco take a single ineffective pot shot at McCabe and Luna runs to hold the last Death Marshal in place. I score again on the strategy and Distract.
Turn 4: McCabe charges the Enslaved Nephilim, killing it and getting Francisco with the splash from Black Blood. Perdita charges McCabe, pulling the Red Joker on a negative flip for the first attack and taking him right off his zebra. I place the dismounted McCabe out of melee range and she uses trick shots to ignore armour and drops him again with a single shot. It’s the stuff of legend, we spoke about it in glowing cinematic terms after the game – what a moment! This also scores Mark three points for Assassinate. Luna distracts the last Death Marshal and the rest of my stuff hides. I score another VP each for Reconnoitre and Distract.
Turn 5: The Death Marshal kills Luna, Perdita chases a Wastrel and takes it down to a single wound. I score one final VP for Reconnoitre. Ten Thunders win 10 – 5 (full score for me, 3 for Assassinate and 2 for Vendetta for Mark).
Apparently I forgot to take a photo of the final game state, but it was Perdita standing among her dead family surrounded by the corpses of pretty much my entire crew. In the end I had three models left, all on only a single wound. What a bloodbath! Still, it does go to show that it isn’t only about killing things in Malifaux, or at least that you have to do so at the right time, or with the right piece, or from the right place. The game was great; I always enjoy playing against Mark.
Game 3: Ten Thunders (me) vs Outcasts (Greg)
Strategy: Turf War
Pool: Line in the Sand, Distract, Assassinate, Murder Protege, Plant Evidence
Ten Thunders: Distract, Plant Evidence
Outcasts: Plant Evidence, Murder Protege (Izamu; unannounced)
Ten Thunders: Yan Lo (Reliquary), Toshiro the Daimyo (Command the Graves), Izamu the Armour, Yin the Penangalan, Chiaki the Neice, Soul Porter, Ashigaru, Thunder Archer, 3SS
Outcasts: Jack Daw (all the curses, Twist and Turn, Writhing Torment), 2 Guilty, Hodgepodge Effigy, Taelor (Oathkeeper), Johan (Oathkeeper), Lazarus
Greg and I took a look at this board and immediately thought: whoever set this up doesn’t play Malifaux. Two massive buildings making two board quarters unplayable and a street with practically no cover right from one board edge to another. With Turf War as the strategy there seems like no option but to duke it out in the killing ground of the centre and hope for the best. I did briefly consider playing Jakob Lynch here as I’m very familiar with him, but Turf War is really a job for Yan Lo so I decided to go for the old man. I was pretty set on taking Plant Evidence, which Chiaki in particular is useful for, but nothing else in the scheme pool really appealed. Once Greg showed me Jack Daw I realised that Assassinate was not a likely one to score and I didn’t fancy running a Line in the Sand with Flank deployment and this board set up. So it was a toss-up between Murder Protege or Distract; I eventually settled on Distract but even with the benefit of hindsight I’m not sure which is the best option. Greg seemed similarly unsure as to what to take.
Turn 1: Between the two Guilty, Taelor and Johan are made Tormented. The Soul Porter pushes Yin and Izamu forward (they’re so slow otherwise). Yan Lo takes a shot at Johan but Black Jokers the damage; he picks up Ash Ascendant. Jack copies a Guilty’s ability and makes Lazarus Tormented then obeys him forward. Lazarus Auto Fires into the Ashigaru but I’ve been careful to put my models far enough apart that only severe damage will do enough to splash a blast anywhere. Toshiro War Fans to make the Archer fast and push him, the Archer Rapid Fires Johan down to his hard to kill wound.
Turn 2: Johan discards Oathkeeper for fast then charges and kills my exposed Archer. The Ashigaru kills him in return. Lazarus Auto Fires at Toshiro for surprisingly little effect and Yin charges him right back, dropping the Red Joker for some decent damage and more importantly forcing Greg to deal with her right in the middle of his crew. Jack Daw gives the Ashigaru Drowning Injustice. Yan Lo shoots Taelor and gets takes Spirit Ascendant. Toshiro charges in and knocks 6 wounds off Jack Daw, and Taelor uses Oathkeeper, focuses one attack and stones the other to drop Yin to a single wound. Izamu moves in, being sure to stay out of the way of Taelor, and misses a swing at the Guilty. I might have been better trying to start distracting this turn but I could only get in to Jack and I thought it was worth faking out that I had either Murder Protege on Lazarus or Assassinate. We both score on the strategy.
Turn 3: Jack rather superfluously gives Firing Squad Injustice to Toshiro and Obeys him to hit the Ashigaru, then kills both anyway with Writhing Torment. Yin hits Lazarus (I’m hoping, fruitlessly as it turned out, that Greg will kill Lazarus himself if he thinks I’ve got Murder Protege) and Lazarus pushes out of melee and kills her. Yan Lo rebuilds Toshiro, heal him and shoots Taelor. Now that Yin is out of the way, Taelor is free to charge Izamu and beat him a little. The Soul Porter pushes Toshiro into Jack to distract him (rules error on my part here as Toshiro shouldn’t have been able to interact this turn). Izamu distracts the Guilty and beats Taelor a little. Both the Hodgepodge Effigy and Chiaki finally make it into the correct half of the table and start dropping scheme markers for Plant Evidence. We both score for Turf War and I score for Distract.
Turn 4: This will be the last turn. It’s a critical initiative flip but it goes to Greg so Taelor smashes Izamu into dust, scoring two for his Murder Protege. Yan Lo kills her back (error by me – I should have distracted her) and Rebuilds Yin (another error, Izamu would have been better as he covers more space with his bigger base and melee range). Lazarus fails to kill Chiaki so she moves off and drops another scheme marker. Jack hurts Toshiro and is killed right back in return. At this point I was in a ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation’. Killing Jack Daw meant that I only had one distracted model left in Greg’s crew, but leaving him alive would have allowed the Guilty to push out of melee and remove the nearby scheme marker. Outcasts win 8 – 7 (1 for Distract, 3 for Plant Evidence and 3 for Turf War for me; 2 for Murder Protege, 3 for Plant Evidence and 3 for Turf War for Greg).
What a game! It was so close, and but for a few errors I could have maybe got at least a draw. Greg is always such a pleasure to play against, he is not only technically very skilled but he takes everything in his cheery stride. I’m pleased to have run him so near, but in some ways I’m quite glad for the sake of the tournament that there was a clear winner as it meant that (if Greg could win his final game, which he did) the event would end with one player on four wins from four. There had been quite a few draws already and the only other player on two wins going into round three was also beaten.
Game 4: Ten Thunders (me) vs Neverborn (Andy)
Strategy: Squatter’s Rights
Pool: Line in the Sand, Breakthrough, Bodyguard, Outflank, Vendetta
Ten Thunders: Bodyguard (Sidir Alchibal), Vendetta (Archer on female Illuminated)
Neverborn: Bodyguard (Hungering Darkness), Vendetta (crouching Illuminated on Beckoner)
Ten Thunders: Jakob Lynch (Endless Hunger), Hungering Darkness, 2 Illuminated, 2 Rail Workers, Beckoner, Sidir Alchibal, Thunder Archer, 2SS
Neverborn: Jakob Lynch (Endless Hunger, Wanna See a Trick), Hungering Darkness, 3 Illuminated, 2 Beckoners, Mr Graves, Depleted
As soon as I saw that I was paired against Andy I knew that this was going to be a Lynch game. I’m not a fan of mirror matches but I decided to stick with the plan and put Lynch down anyway. If nothing else, Ten Thunders Lynch versus Neverborn Lynch makes for quite an interesting test; though as it turned out nothing in Andy’s crew mandated him being in one faction or the other. I chose Sidir mainly to get him some table time but also because taking Bodyguard on him is really easy to score. I swithered for ages over whether to use the Archer or the Beckoner for Vendetta; the former does give the possibility of scoring all three points (not impossible but quite unlikely with the Beckoner) but Luring in a victim with the Beckoner’s first attack does almost guarantee that I can finish it off for two points. In the end I opted for the Archer. Playing Flank deployment made this even sillier as not only were there Brilliant models everywhere but we were on top of each straight away.
Turn 1: His Beckoner Lures mine forward and the Depleted uses her as a beacon to move up and flip a strategy marker. My Illuminated charges in and takes it down to the hard to kill wound. Mr Graves pushes Hungering Darkness toward me but is blocked himself by some awkward placement. Sidir shoots a Beckoner and my Hungering Darkness finishes off the Depleted and makes a start wounding the female Illuminated which has rushed into range. My Archer focuses and shoots her to score me a point for Vendetta. Over in the right corner my Illuminated and Rail Worker make a run for the markers, but the latter is too slow and Hungering Darkness swoops over to make an attack.
Turn 2: The Archer focuses and drops the Illuminated (scoring me the rest of the points for Vendetta). His crouching Illuminated charges my Beckoner, missing twice doe to Don’t Bite The Hand but nonetheless scoring a point for Vendetta. My Illuminated on the right flips the corner marker before his inevitable death came over in the form of Andy’s Hungering Darkness. The Beckoners shoot my Hungering Darkness down to 1 wound so it eats the nearby Illuminated then moves over to them and Consumes Brilliance to get back to full health. His Lynch ineffectually shoots my Rail Worker while mine is similarly useless attacking the nearer Beckoner. Both my Rail Workers and the Beckoner flip markers. I score for Squatter’s Rights.
Turn 3: Andy’s Hungering Darkness attacks my Rail Worker but amazingly fails to polish off the plucky little chap. My Lynch shoots his last Beckoner and his Lynch moves to the corner strategy marker. My Hungering Darkness kills his and Mr Graves counter charges in and hurts the big tadpole. My Archer Rapid Fires Mr Graves to death leaving my Hungering Darkness clinging to a single wound after being thoroughly splashed with Black Blood. My Beckoner lures the last Illuminated into range and my own Illuminated kills it. Andy has only Lynch left hiding in a corner and he’s seen enough of this carnage to know it’s all over so we can chill out and watch the rest of the event ending. Ten Thunders win 10 – 1 (as we didn’t time out I collected the remaining possible points for the strategy and bodyguard; the Neverborn took their point for Vendetta).
Playing against Andy is always a fun experience, he brings such a sunny outlook to every game I’ve played with him. There’s probably not too much to say about the game itself, which was brutally one-sided, except that probably taking Vendetta for an Illuminated against a Beckoner is not a great idea as it forces you to spend at least one AP swinging away on a negative flip (the other way round is very achievable though). From my side everything went swimmingly though I am still finding it hard to do much with Sidir apart from ‘not die’; admittedly this was worth 3 VP in this game.
When the scores come in I’m placed second behind Greg which is a fantastic result for me. There were quite a few draws early on so only Greg took 4 wins and I scored a lot of points (in fact I only dropped 6 in the entire tournament, 3 each against Greg and David, neither of whom are soft opponents). Forkbanger had a pretty good run too, taking on some strong opponents and finishing with 2 wins and 2 losses, somewhere around 10th place. Thanks very much to the combined powers of Henchmen Joe and David KS for running another great event, and to my four fun opponents David, Mark, Greg and Andy.
Having played four games with four different masters I thought it might be interesting to consider the options I own which didn’t make it out of the bag this time. There turned out to be surprisingly few of them.
Emberling: Mei Feng’s totem so it could only have appeared in game one. I still like the little chap but Reckoning isn’t the place for such an easy to kill piece even with a favourable scheme pool like that.
Kang: My love for Kang is well known but there was no particular need for his powers in these match ups as I wasn’t expecting to face lots of undead or constructs. I did consider him in the third game against Greg’s Outcasts as Leviticus and Jack Daw can field a good number of such models, plus that knock back from the shovel is sometimes handy in Turf War but I decided against it in favour of Yin this time. Still, Kang did get an outing with Forkbanger’s Shen Long crew in game one and with Andrew’s Lynch (I think?) crew in game three.
Mr Graves: I need a bit more table time to get this one to work out for me. That push from Show Ya The Door is super in the early turns of course, especially with slow hitters like Sidir or Izamu around, but after that I always feel a bit at a loss for what to do. Andy (game four) said he’d been a bit of a superstar in other games, so I’ll have to work on this one.
Oiran: I find Oiran a bit tricky to use well. They really need a cluttered board and couple of marker-based schemes to do much and there never felt like there was a time when I’d have been able to use the Oiran here. Still, I knew that Barry was rocking Pandora so I surely would have considered the Oiran in that match up.