On Saturday Joe, Forkbanger and I piled into Joe’s car at silly o’clock in the morning to drive down to Sunderland and take part in the Not a Bad Thing tournament. Some of us have previously attended an event run by this group (The Good, The Bad and The Fated, back in May) and it was a great day out so I’d been trying to sell this to other locals for ages. We arrived early and were greeted with friendliness and bacon rolls, not to mention all the tea I can drink. I had some vague thoughts about trying to use four different masters again, and decided to see how the games went before committing myself to it. My first round draw was against Martin Jones, who I’ve never played before.
Game 1: Ten Thunders (me) vs Guild (Martin)
Pool: Line in the Sand, Distract, Assassinate, Deliver a Message, Make Them Suffer
Ten Thunders: Distract, Deliver a Message (unannounced)
Guild: Deliver a Message (announced), Assassinate (unannounced)
Ten Thunders: Lucas McCabe (Strangemetal Shirt, Glowing Sabre, Badge of Speed), Luna, Toshiro the Daimyo (Command the Graves), Rail Worker, 2 Illuminated, Thunder Archer
Guild: Hoffman (Field Mechanic, On-site Assimilation), Guardian, Peacekeeper, Warden, 2 Watchers
This seemed like a decent opportunity to play McCabe, but it took me ages to come up with a crew I fancied for the scheme pool. In retrospect I probably would have been better served without the Archer and one of the Illuminated, and loaded up on Rail Workers and a Wastrels instead. Of course, as soon as I saw Martin’s crew I wished I’d taken Kang instead of Toshiro, especially as I don’t own anything that could be a Komainu so I wouldn’t be doing much summoning with him. In the end I chose Distract, figuring that the odds of killing everything in the field was quite low, and an unannounced Deliver a Message as casting Black Flash on nimble Minions makes it pretty easy to score. I did swither over whether to announce it or not, and decided to play it safer.
Turn 1: Hoffman starts us off by Power Looping the Guardian, then knocks some scrap off the Peacekeeper, gives it Hydraulics, puts it in the Loop and Machine Puppets it forward and Fast. I decide I need to stop it just rampaging into me and run an Illuminated into engagement range. The Guardian promptly swats the Illuminated away with its shield and gives the Peacekeeper a defensive condition. McCabe shoots the Peacekeeper twice to at least knock the Fast off it and also slow the Guardian, then Reactivates the female Illuminated and passes the Badge to the male to push it back into the way of the Peacekeeper. The big robot uses its Nimble move to get past the Illuminated then charges McCabe for a chunk of damage. The Rail Worker, Archer, Toshiro and the other Illuminated flail against the Peacekeeper rather ineffectively while the rest of our crews move about.
Turn 2: Hoffman Puppets the Guardian forward again to pull himself into range of the Peacekeeper, heals it, and Puppets it to hit McCace. McCabe swings back at the Peacekeeper, pulling a couple of Soulstones out of if and stoning for a crow on the last swing (with only 2 wounds on the thing) but then black jokers the damage when literally any other card would have got the Peacekeeper out of my face. He passes the Sabre to the female Illuminated. To my great surprise, instead of activating the Peacekeeper and either delivering the message or beating McCabe to death, the Guardian moves up and makes the Peacekeeper slightly harder to hit. It doesn’t help as the Illuminated cuts it down with McCabe’s Sabre. The Warden pokes the male Illuminated for minimal effect, the Archer shoots down the nearer Watcher and is then vapourised by the chain spear from the Hunter. Toshiro swings a few times at the Guardian, the Illuminated delivers my message and distracts Hoffman while Luna distracts the surviving Watcher. The Rail Worker charges the Hunter to knock off a chunk of wounds. Martin scores for Reconnoitre, I score for Distract.
Turn 3: The Rail Worker bounces off the Hunter. Hoffman summons some scrap, puts Programmed Directives onto the Guardian and Patchwork Plating onto the Warden. He then Puppets the Guardian to deliver his message. The Illuminated with the Sabre uses it to smite the Guardian, who heals and knocks McCabe off his
horse zebra. Luna misses the Watcher, the Hunter misses the Rail Worker, McCabe misses the Guardian and the Warden misses the Illuminated. Sometimes the cards just tell you to give peace a chance. The Illuminated does manage to land a couple of hits of the Warden, and Toshiro scraps the Guardian. Again Martin scores for Reconnoitre and I score for Distract.
Turn 4: Toshiro fails to deal with the Warden then makes the male Illuminated Fast. Hoffman Puppets the Warden forward and pulls after it on the push, it hits McCabe. The Rail Worker finishes the Hunter, the Warden can’t make anything stick on McCabe and is turned into scrap metal in return; he passes out some of his stash to push minions around to make sure I’ll actually score on the strategy this turn. I score again for Distract and this time also for Reconnoitre. Ten Thunders win 6 – 5 (3 for Distract, 2 for Deliver a Message and 1 for Reconnoitre for me; 3 for Deliver a Message and 2 for Reconnoitre for Martin).
That was quite the game. I still can’t quite get to grips with McCabe and I probably got off quite lightly in a few places here. In particular, my placement in the middle turns was terrible, clumping most of my pieces up in the middle where they didn’t score on the strategy. Round 2 sees me up against the gentlemanly Greg Piskosz.
Game 2: Ten Thunders (me) vs Neverborn (Greg)
Strategy: Turf War
Pool: Line in the Sand, Bodyguard, Breakthrough, Plant Evidence, Murder Protege
Ten Thunders: Breakthrough (announced), Bodyguard (Yin the Penangalan)
Neverborn: Murder Protege (Izamu the Armour), Plant Evidence (announced)
Ten Thunders: Yan Lo (Reliquaries), Chiaki the Neice, Izamu the Armour (Recalled Training), Yin the Penangalan, Rail Worker, 2 Ashigaru, Soul Porter
Neverborn: Collodi (Threads of Fate, Breath Life, Fated), Nekima, Waldgeist, Brutal Effigy, Arcane Effigy, Carrion Effigy, Shadow Effigy, Lucky Effigy
Turf War on a fairly open board felt like a decent opportunity to play Yan Lo. I decided to stick Bodyguard on Yin this time as I always seem to choose Chiaki and I believed that Greg might guess it; Yin is a tricky piece to kill off and she can’t do anything without moving forward so it’s not bad option. Basically the plan was to throw Izamu at the middle of the board, blow Recalled Training as soon as possible to smite stuff and then bring him back once the big chap is inevitably offed and do it again. I’ve never played against almost anything in Greg’s crew before so I was expecting a tough game here as he would be able to take full advantage of any mis-steps by me.
Turn 1: The Shadow Effigy uses Blend Into Shadow on Collodi, who passes it out to the rest of the crew, and basically all the other Effigies stick their own effects on him too (though he keeps those for himself). The Soul Porter pushes Yin and Izamu forward. The Waldgeist Germinates some bushes into a choke point I was forced through. The Carrion Effigy pokes Collodi to trigger his push to move toward me. Yan Lo misses a couple of shots at the further forward Effigy (Lucky) and picks up Ash Ascendant. Collodi uses his Pull Strings attack to take control of the first AP for Izamu and one of the Ashigaru and makes Izamu slow.
Turn 2: Collodi hits Izamu a little more with Pull Strings, makes the Waldgeist his Personal Puppet, then Accomplices to Nekima who come flying in to kill Izamu (though he does hit her back on death), scoring Murder Protege in the process, and missing a fairly optimistic swing at Yin. I had some kind of a plan to use Chiaki to remove the conditions from Izamu, but having him killed seemed plenty effective enough The left Ashigaru hurts the Arcane Effigy. The Brutal Effigy move up to drop a scheme marker on the ice block just behind Yin, then Chiaki kills of the Arcane Effigy and moves to do Breakthrough. The Shadow Effigy gives its condition to Collodi, who shares it out. The Rail Worker, Yan Lo and Yin all fail to finish Nekima, though she is in a bad way with no Soulstones left. We both score on Turf War.
Turn 3: Yan Lo kills off Nekima in person, resummons Izamu from her corpse and heals him. The Shadow Effigy gives its condition to Collodi, who shares it with the rest of the crew, pokes him (to trigger the push) and Accomplices to Collodi. The master moves away to kill off Chiaki with his spells. Yin gets the Brutal Effigy down to hard to kill with a poison token on it. The Lucky Effigy hits Yan Lo for a surprising damage track, and the Soul Porter charges in and achieves nothing of substance. The Carrion Effigy fails to escape Izamu’s clutches. The Ashigaru ensures that the Lucky Effigy will die of Poison at the end of the turn, Izamu smashes the Shadow Effigy down to hard to kill and the Rail Worker does nothing at all against the Carrion Effigy. The Brutal Effigy drops a scheme marker when it dies. We both score on Turf War again.
Turn 4: Izamu kills the Carrion and Shadow Effigies. Collodi Focuses and Pulls strings on Yin, top decking the Red Joker to really put on the hurt, then summons a Marionette. The Ashigaru on its own drops another scheme marker, then we run out of time. We both score on Turf War again. Neverborn win 8 – 7 (2 for Murder Protege, 3 for Plant Evidence, 3 for Turf War for Greg; 1 for Bodyguard, 3 for Breakthrough and 3 for Turf War for me). Actually looking back, we scored Plant Evidence wrong (the score is for the number of terrain pieces, not the number of scheme markers).
I actually felt that things were going my way that game and I didn’t make many terrible mistakes; the problem this time was the clock. One more activation would have allowed me to heal Yin for another VP which would have been enough for a draw (or indeed a win if we’d scored Plant Evidence correctly) and I think I could have been a comfortable winner if we’d got to the end of turn 5 as Greg was running out of stuff to do anything to me. Oh well, games with Greg are always close and always fun; he’s just such a nice guy to play against. We broke for lunch (a lovely chilli) and the surprisingly sparsely-entered painting competition before moving to the third round where I was paired against John Wharton.
Game 3: Ten Thunders (me) vs Outcasts (John)
Pool: Line in the Sand, Assassinate, Power Ritual, Protect Territory, Entourage
Ten Thunders: Power Ritual (announced), Protect Territory (announced)
Outcasts: Entourage (Viktoria of Ashes), Protect Territory (announced)
Ten Thunders: Mei Feng (Recalled Training, Seismic Punch, Price of Progress), Emberling, 2 Illuminated, 2 Rail Workers, Thunder Archer, Yin the Penangalan
Outcasts: Viktoria of Ashes (Oathkeeper, Survivalist, Sisters in Fury), Viktoria of Blood (Oathkeeper, Mark of Shez’uul), Freikorps Trapper, Freikorps Librarian, Lazarus, Vanessa (Oathkeeper), Malifaux Child
I’ve got to admit, I looked at this board and didn’t really know what to take. It’s full of awkward charge lanes and choke points, with no scatter cover on the village, and the rest is severe terrain, also with no cover. I was expecting a shooty Von Schill crew to blow me off the board, and did end up facing most the crew I expected except with the Viks at the helm. I took Illuminated, Rail Workers and Yin to hopefully survive the barrage of fire and hoped that Mei Feng would either protect them more with Vent Steam or use her mobility to put threats where I needed them.
Turn 1: The Trapper focuses and misses Yin anyway. The Child states his intent by sitting the far corner casting Sisters in Fury. Vanessa uses Command Construct to move Lazarus further forward. Mei Feng lands on one of the platforms and drops a scheme marker, using Vent Steam to hopefully reduce the incoming fire. The Emberling drops a scheme marker in one corner to start up Power Ritual.
Turn 2: The Child casts Sisters in Fury and the Archer rapid fires Slow onto Lazarus. Then everything goes horribly wrong. Vik of Blood discards Oathkeeper to open up a charge lane onto Mei Feng and blends her way through her, the Illuminated and the Rail Worker there. Mei Feng herself survives on a single wound after burning all my Soulstones. Mei Feng duly butchers her in revenge, but is forced to drop Vent Steam in the process. The Illuminated gets into melee with the trapper, who had moved forward to get a shot on Mei Feng. Vik of Ashes uses Oathkeeper and ends Yin (John wisely uses the final soulstone on a positive flip to get past the horror duel). Lazarus, Vanessa and the Librarian blast away at my unengaged stuff. John scores on Reckoning.
Turn 3: The Archer Rapid Fires Vanessa, but can’t do enough to kill her. She makes Lazarus kill the Archer, and hurts the Rail Worker. The Illuminated does kill the Trapper and Lazarus bombards the Emberling to finish his forlorn run for the far corner. Viktoria Red Jokers a gun shot on the Illuminated taking him down to a single wound. Mei Feng continues to sprint for the corner in the hope of getting a marker down before she gets shot. Vanessa finishes off the Rail Worker for another Reckoning point.
Turn 4: Vanessa finishes Mei Feng. The Illuminated charges Viktoria but (of course) can’t kill her and is chopped up in return. Outcasts win 10 – 0.
Ouch! It’s been a while since I was on the wrong end of a pasting like that. John was really apologetic about the manner of his victory, claiming to have lucky flips etc, but the truth is he outplayed me by a huge margin. I got my positioning all wrong at the end of turn 1 which allowed the Vik of Blood to kill my stuff far too easily in turn 2. I probably should have jumped Mei Feng down her throat before she moved, though I might not have had the line of sight needed (and helpfully I forgot to take a photo that turn). Once I lost so much stuff to the pair of Viks in one round the game was pretty much over. But actually I think the game had finished as a contest even before that. John had the Librarian, Vanessa and Lazarus sitting on a platform where it was inconceivable that I could have got any melee piece to them and they could have simply spent the game shelling me until I lost a couple of pieces a turn and gave up a Reckoning point. I was probably too concerned about this happening that I crowded up too much (to keep my crew under Vent Steam)… which of course made them a perfect target for Whirlwind. I’d be very happy to hear from anyone how they would have handled this game; it is evident from the score that it would not be possible to do worse than me! Anyway, game 4 saw me slide right down the tables where I came upon a fellow Ten Thunders player, Peter Sidaway.
Game 4: Ten Thunders (me) vs Ten Thunders (Peter)
Strategy: Squatter’s Rights
Pool: Line in the Sand, Bodyguard, Breakthrough, Cursed Object, Frame for Murder
My Ten Thunders: Bodyguard (Kang), Frame for Murder (Hungering Darkness)
His Ten Thunders: Cursed Object, Breakthrough (unannounced)
My Ten Thunders: Jakob Lynch (Endless Hunger), Hungering Darkness, Kang, Rail Worker, 2 Illuminated, Beckoner, Archer
His Ten Thunders: Misaki (Stalking Bisento, Recalled Training), 2 Torakage, 2 Tengu, Toshiro the Daimyo (Command the Graves), Yamaziko (Recalled Training)
Since I’d already used my other three masters, I decided to make the simple choice and play the fourth and final one I own, Jakob Lynch. Also, I am slightly ashamed to admit, my pride was hurting a bit after the pasting John had just administered and I wanted to use my best crew and rack up a respectable score. Hungering Darkness is such a big threat that he’s a good target for Frame for Murder as the other crew simply must deal with him or be locked away from scoring anything. Similarly, Bodyguard on Kang is a solid if unsurprising choice; he is hard to hurt and heals up easily if needed.
Turn 1: Pretty much everything legs it forward toward the squat markers at top speed. The Beckoner Lures the nearest Torakage, but it’s more out of habit than because his position is significant. Misaki uses Stalk on the Archer and Lynch shoots her. Hungering Darkness moves up but can’t land the hit on Misaki; mainly I’m trying to make it look like enough of a threat that Misaki will try to kill him off for Frame for Murder.
Turn 2: Misaki saunters over, casually kills the Archer (who admittedly I had far too far up the board), charges the Rail Worker for a little damage after I get tomes for both defensive flips and pushes away deeper into my deployment zone. The female Illuminated moves up to flip the first squat marker. Toshiro uses Daimyo’s price on a handy scheme marker to give the Focus to a Tengu and a Torakage then advances and raises an Ashigaru from the remains of my poor Archer. The Rail Worker charges Misaki, putting a chunk of damage on her thanks to Implacable Assault and forcing her to burn Soulstones. Yamaziko charges the Illuminated for no effect, and the other Illuminated turns the Ashigaru back into a corpse counter. The Tengu in the centre moves onto the central squat marker and is promptly eaten by Hungering Darkness. The Beckoner takes a few more wounds off Misaki and the Torakage shows Yamaziko how it is done, dropping the Illuminated to a single wound with poison. Lynch flips another squat marker and Kang bludgeons Misaki to death with his spade. I score on the strategy.
Turn 3: Lynch charges and kills the second Tengu. A Torakage charges Hungering Darkness. The Beckoner slightly unwisely Lures the other Torakage toward her, and the ninja obliges this apparent death wish by putting her down to a single wound with poison. The Rail Worker fails to kill off the centre Torakage, so the Illuminated does it instead. Hungering Darkness puts the hurt on Toshiro to convince him to actually kill it; Yamaziko gets into kill off the Rail Worker and takes out Hungering Darkness with the blasts from her sweep trigger. Kang beats up the last Torakage. I score again for Squatter’s Rights.
Turn 4: The Illuminated kills Yamaziko, then Torakage hurts Kang and pushes away. Lynch charges in to kill Toshiro and Kang, mindful of the impending end of the game and the Bodyguard scheme, heals and makes a run up the table. I score again for the strategy.
Turn 5: Kang keeps running up the board. The Torakage drops a scheme marker and I score on the strategy again. My Ten Thunders win 10 – 1 (everything for me; 1 for breakthrough for Peter).
That was quite a satisfying game, but it was a little one-sided. Peter was a fun opponent and I think with a bit more familiarity with his crew, and a bit more focus on the schemes and strategies (instead of just trying to kill all my pieces), could have really competed in the tournament. Peter posted his thoughts on his own blog.
So in the end I finished 14th overall which was more than satisfactory. My fellow travellers also placed well, with a heroic 3rd place for Joe and 19th for Forkbanger. I had a really fun time, with four great games against pleasant opponents. I’ll have to work on my play a bit after the hiding on round three, and I’m already looking forward to the next event. Thanks very much to Nate and the team for running another wonderful event, and to Martin, Greg, John and Peter for playing enjoyable games with me.