David, Joe and I headed out to Stirling for (I think) the last Malifaux tournament of the year in Scotland. As tournament attendance has been gradually increasing here, the number of rounds was upped to 4, and we stayed at the ‘tournament standard’ size of 50SS. Coming into this event I’ve been really enjoying Mei Feng, partly because discussing her at the UK GT with another enthusiast really got me interested in her again, and partly because Mei Feng is highly entertaining to play. I vaguely decided to myself to play all four games with Mei Feng, unless the mood took me to do otherwise at some point of course. The first round pairings had me up against the infectiously enthusiastic Mark.
Game 1: Ten Thunders (me) vs Arcanists (Mark)
Pool: Line in the Sand, Assassinate, Frame For Murder, Spring The Trap, Bodyguard
Ten Thunders: Bodyguard (Kang), Frame For Murder (Izamu)
Arcanists: Bodyguard (Lazarus), Frame For Murder (Joss)
Ten Thunders: Mei Feng (Vapormancy, Recalled Training), Kang, Izamu the Armour, Thunder Archer, 2 Illuminated, 2 Metal Gamin
Arcanists: Ramos (Under Pressure, Field Generator, Kill Switch / Decoy), Joss (Open Current, Kill Switch / Decoy), Lazarus (Imbued Protection, Kill Switch / Decoy), Electrical Creation, 2 Rail Workers, Mobile Toolkit, Metal Gamin
I guessed that Mark would take either Ramos or Marcus for this match up so I put Kang in to benefit against constructs, save me from taking terror duels or just to hit things with a spade as appropriate. In any case I expected him to be able to stay slightly further back and hence took Bodyguard on him (maybe I should learn from my mistakes of game 4 of the UK GT). Izamu is a fine choice in Reckoning, but hardly anyone is able to resist the temptation to kill the big chap off. In particular with Joss on the table I expected that Izamu would be killed early, so took Frame For Murder on him. Otherwise I took things which hit hard (Illuminated, Archer) or make convenient Rail Walk points (Metal Gamin).
Turn 1: The Electrical Creation moves forward as usual, so I decide to mess with Mark a little by killing it with Magnetism from one of my Gamin. Ramos turns it into two Steam Arachnids anyway of course, but he has to waste an AP walking himself forward to do it. By way of vengeance, Ramos uses his own Magnetism right back at the Metal Gamin. Otherwise this is just a turn of jockeying for position, though I do spread out around Mei Feng with Vent Steam up in case of any Electrical Fire.
Turn 2: One Metal Gamin kills a Steam Arachnid, and the other Gamin hurts the other Spider nearby. The Toolkit puts armour on Ramos to stall for time before our two lines of mostly melee-based forces clash. Joss charges in and finishes off the wounded Gamin; I’m a bit suspicious how easily Joss is being given up, but on the other hand I’m pretty much resigned to losing a few points for Frame For Murder at some point. Kang polishes off the other Arachnid (scoring a point for Reckoning) and then Lazarus auto fires into the Vent Steam aura for no real effect. The Archer shoots Slow onto Joss and otherwise gently tickles a few wounds off him then the Illuminated charges in and Red Jokers the damage on Joss. I actually end up not cheating to hit with my second attack to avoid the reactivation. Mark’s Metal Gamin puts Protection of Metal on Ramos. Izamu charges in to deal with Joss, putting him down without much of a fight and giving up two points for Frame For Murder in the process. The Illuminated on the right knocks a couple of wounds off a Rail Worker after some careful placement to keep in range of Workers’ Champion. Ramos zaps the left Illuminated who has strayed out from under the Vent Steam, then summons an Arachnid which Mei Feng promptly smites before Venting Steam again. I score for the strategy.
Turn 3: On the right, the Illuminated kills the first Rail Worker. The other Rail Worker hits him back. My Archer Rapid Fires Slow onto the Rail Worker, then the Tolkit gives Ramos some more armour before being killed by my Metal Gamin (scoring for the strategy). Ramos summons a pair of Arachnids in base contact with Mei Feng then uses Soulstones to counteract the negative flip from Vent Steam to zap her with Electrical Fire twice, getting severe damage both times. Izamu swats both new Arachnids. Lazarus charges in and takes the Metal Gamin down to its Hard to Kill wound. Kang beats Lazarus with his spade, but Mei Feng fails to achieve a great deal even after discarding Recalled Training. I’d been trying to spread some damage around with Scalding Breath but just couldn’t land a hit even with double positive flips. Oh well. The female Illuminated takes the final wounds off Mark’s Metal Gamin and I score Reckoning again.
Turn 4: Lazarus heals, then misses attacks on the Metal Gamin and Mei Feng (who Leaps Aside after the first attack as she has very few wounds left). Izamu repeatedly misses Ramos, who summons one Arachnid and wafts his Clockwork Fist ineffectually at Mei Feng. Over in their own little fight on the far side of the forest, the Illuminated drops the Rail Worker to its last wound, survives the return attack and then watches a Focused shot from the Archer finish the job and get all the glory. Kang kills Lazarus (scoring Reckoning for me and denying Bodyguard), but the big robot explodes from Kill Switch causing damage to Kang and Ramos, and killing the Metal Gamin. Mei Feng ends it all killing off the new Arachnid and Ramos in one go. Ten Thunders win 7 – 2 (4 for Reckoning and 3 for Bodyguard for me; 2 for Frame For Murder for Mark).
That was a fun game to get the day started. Mark’s a really nice opponent and could probably be quite good if he played a few more times with his crew rather than constantly swapping masters. We were swiftly onto the next round where I matched up with Scott, another from the North East contingent who I’ve seen at a few events but never had the pleasure to play.
Game 2: Ten Thunders (me) vs Guild (Scott)
Strategy: Squatter’s Rights
Pool: Line in the Sand, Power Ritual, Take Prisoner, Distract, Protect Territory
Ten Thunders: Protect Territory (announced), Power Ritual (announced)
Guild: Protect Territory (announced), Distract
Ten Thunders: Mei Feng (Vapormancy, Recalled Training, Wings of Wind), Emberling, Izamu the Armour (Recalled Training), 2 Rail Workers, 2 Metal Gamin, Illuminated, Yamaziko
Guild: Lucius (Surprisingly Loyal, Legalese, Watch My Back), Mr Tannen, Scribe, Brutal Effigy, 2 Guild Lawyers, 2 Death Marshals, 2 Guild Guard
Even though I had been planning to use Mei Feng all day I probably would have picked her on this board anyway since it was so open and I feared seeing Perdita Ortega. My plan was pretty simple: move onto the Squat markers, claim them, then defend them for the rest of the game with the huge melee range of Izamu, Yamaziko and Mei Feng. The Emberling would be on Power Ritual duty on the assumption that the rest of my crew would take enough work to get through that no-one would have the opportunity to stop it. I was really pleased to see Lucius across the table as I think I’ve only played once against him during the beta. It’s always interesting to see new masters, especially ones with so many potential shenanigans as this one.
Turn 1: Lucius walks up, dragging a Death Marshal with him, then swaps places with one of the Lawyers using What Lackeys Are For to get them into a forward position. The Lawyer accomplices next to put Fees on my Illuminated with Special Damages. I can see that one of the Death Marshals is angling to put Izamu in a box (and actually I’m expecting Take Prisoner on him) but with a few chain activations already from Scott I’m able to keep Izamu until last. Instead, I use Yamaziko as bait, triple walking her onto a marker but forgetting to put up Brace because I’m silly. The Death Marshal decides to make the best of it, charging Yamaziko and then taking a beating in return from Izamu who has been pushed forward by Mei Feng. Meanwhile, the Metal Gamin are able to race up the field thanks to the presence of an enemy construct to magnetise toward.
Turn 2: Lucius makes the Death Marshal Distract Yamaziko, the Lawyer move to one of the Metal Gamin and uses Guild Intelligence. He accomplices to the Lawyer who Distracts the Gamin, drops a scheme marker and hands out Hard to Wound to a few pieces nearby. Izamu finishes off the first Death Marshal and moves in to hurt a nearby Lawyer. Tannen moves into the fray and uses Chatty to keep me off the central marker. Yamaziko claims both the markers on the right side and the Lawyer staring down Izamu puts Fees on the big chap twice. A big scrum develops over on the left as the Gamin first take out the Effigy then engage in a ridiculous slap-fest with the pair of Guards with the Illuminated joining in too. Eventually Mei Feng has to go in like a responsible grown-up to sort things out, setting one guard ablaze so she’ll die at the end of the turn. I did briefly consider killing my own Gamin too to deny Distract but it looks like more work than it would be worth considering how the rest of the game is playing out. I score on the Strategy, Scott scores for Distract.
Turn 3: Yamaziko drops the second Death Marshal. It hadn’t occurred to me before but with their weak damage of 3, both she and Izamu are perfect for taking out Death Marshals since two shots of weak damage will kill them and the Hard to Wound doesn’t help at all. Lucius Issues Commands a few times to make the Lawyers a bit tougher and one of them makes Izamu Slow. A Rail Worker finally finishes slogging into position and kills the Lawyer on the left (the other Rail Worker is covering the central marker) and Mr Tannen just uses Chatty again to make my life awkward, especially as I don’t have many ways to get him with this crew. The Illuminated kills the last Guard, the Emberling continues its lonely run to the corner and the Scribe heroically charges Izamu. Sadly for the little totem, Scott is all out of cards at this point and Izamu evades the attacks before squashing both the Scribe and the Lawyer. The Metal Gamin removes Distract and Mei Feng launches herself at Mr Tannen but can’t quite finish him off; happily I’m also out of cards at this point so Cooler does nothing. I score for Squatter’s Rights.
Turn 4: Izamu smites Mr Tannen. Lucius looks lonely, takes up defensive stance and moves to stand on one of the many scheme markers dropped by his minions with Finish the Job. The rest of my crew gangs up on him, with the Illuminated delivering the killing blow. Various of my minions drop scheme markers as needed. Ten Thunders win 10 – 1 (all points for me; 1 for Distract for Scott).
That was a really interesting game. Scott told me later that he had only played a game or two previously with Lucius so probably he would be very stong with the benefit of more experience. I was certainly glad to see some of these pieces on the table as I don’t think I see much Guild around; no-one in my regular gaming group plays them so I’m pretty much reliant on tournaments to see most crews in action. Even then I feel like I see a lot more Hoffman and Perdita Ortega being played. After a break for lunch, I’m inevitably drawn against Greg. We seem to get each other in just about every tournament (there was even a recent one where we only avoided each other to break up two other players on the same record getting paired up for a second time in the same event) and Greg very much has the upper hand. I always look forward to such games as I learn so much more from playing against the very strongest players like Greg.
Game 3: Ten Thunders (me) vs Neverborn (Greg)
Strategy: Turf War
Pool: Line in the Sand, Breakthrough, Bodyguard, Cursed Object, Deliver a Message
Ten Thunders: Breakthrough (announced), Cursed Object
Neverborn: Breakthrough (announced), Cursed Object
Ten Thunders: Mei Feng (Vapormancy, Recalled Training, Wings of Wind), Emberling, Izamu the Armour (Recalled Training), 2 Rail Workers, 2 Metal Gamin, Mr Tannen, Yamaziko
Neverborn: Pandora (The Box Opens, Fugue State), Primordial Magic, Doppelganger, Mr Graves (Retribution’s Eye), Mysterious Effigy, Nekima, Widow Weaver
I decided to try out Mr Tannen here. Turf War should be a natural place for him as crews are forced to enter Cooler range, and in theory I had the tools to deliver him (Wings of Wind) and keep him alive for a while (Vent Steam, and presenting higher priority targets). I took Yamaziko in the hope of dissuading a few charges with Brace. With Flank deployment we both announced Breakthrough; it is really easy to score on since the deployment zones are huge. I didn’t fancy trying to Deliver a Message to Pandora or guaranteeing keeping anyone alive for Bodyguard so went with Cursed Object.
Turn 1: A Metal Gamin Magnetises the Effigy so it hides before I can get the other one onto it. Pandora kills the lead Gamin (or anyway makes it kill itself) and makes the other one Insignificant and gives it Mood Swings. The Widow puts a Web marker right in the middle of the board, Mr Graves pushes Nekima forward and the Doppelganger copies Show Ya The Door to do the same. Nekima hurts a Rail Worker pretty badly but can’t actually put him down after a couple of lucky Metal On Metal triggers. Mei Feng hurts Nekima a couple of times, killing the Rail Worker with Black Blood and hurting the Doppelganger with Black Blood and a blast from Scalding Breath. She also pushes Izamu to get a charge lane onto Nekima, but my hand is trash (I spent the first turn with a 5 as my highest card in hand) and Nekima remains unhurt.
Turn 2: I win initiative, but sadly my joy is short-lived as Greg makes me activate the Metal Gamin first. He puts Protection of Metal on Izamu (I did consider Yamaziko, but figured Greg would prioritise killing Izamu). Nekima focuses and cheats in a 13 to allow a straight flip on Izamu, dropping the Red Joker on damage and finishing him off with her second swing. I saw it coming but with Nekima’s high Ml stat and evidently a 13 and Red Joker in hand there wasn’t anything I could do about it. He does at least hurt her back with A Warrior’s Death. Mei Feng and Yamaziko beat most of the Soulstones out of Nekima and kill the Doppelganger with splash damage but can’t actually finish off Nekima. Pandora makes the surviving Rail Worker Insignificant and gives him Mood Swings. He’s forced to act next and moves round to use Shovel Faster on Nekima, luckily getting her on the randomisation and forcing yet more damage on. The Widow puts another Web in the middle of my crew and Mr Graves comes in to put Cursed Object on Yamaziko; Mr Tannen puts it on him right back. Over on the right the Emberling drops a Scheme marker and the Effigy and Primordial Magic close in on it. Nekima uses her last Soulstone to avoid burning to death and we both score on Turf War and Cursed Object.
Turn 3: I stone to win the initiative and Yamaziko polishes off Nekima and puts another Cursed Object in one of Mr Graves’ natty waistcoat pockets. Mr Graves hurts Mr Tannen (how could he!?). The Metal Gamin fails to magnetise the Effigy. The Widow Weaver kills off Mr Tannen then the Rail Worker goes in and takes a chunk of her wounds. The Effigy saunters over to remove the Scheme marker that the Emberling put down and Pandora makes my totem Insignificant to stop me from just dropping another one. She also gives my Metal Gamin a Cursed Object to hold. Mei Feng ensures that the Widow will burn to death and Vents Steam. We both score again for Cursed Object and Turf War.
Turn 4: This is announced as the last turn. Mei Feng pushes the Rail Worker away from Mr Graves (to avoid the Black Blood) then sets the skinwalker ablaze and knocks him down to his Hard to Kill wound. He smites Yamaziko, getting severe damage on the first but I top-deck the Red Joker on damage prevention to avoid the lot. The second swing looks rather half-hearted after that. The Rail Worker fails to do anything to Pandora apart from give her a free push (she didn’t need it anyway to get where she was going; I was just hoping to force at least one high card out of Greg’s hand). She in turn races away to drop markers for Breakthrough. My Metal Gamin critically Black Jokers the Magnetism shot on the Effigy; he charges in but only hits once and so leaves the Effigy alive; it gives both the Gamin and Emberling Cursed Objects. If I could have hit with Magnetism and one attack then I could have avoided giving up a Cursed Object this turn at least. Yamaziko gets away from Mr Graves and drops a marker for Breakthrough. I score for Turf War and Greg scores for Cursed Object. Ten Thunders lose 6 – 8 (3 for Turf War, 2 for Cursed Object and 1 for Breakthrough for me; 2 for Turf War, 3 for Cursed Object and 3 for Breakthrough for Greg).
Wow, what a game. As regular readers know, I always have a great time playing Greg; he’s a real gentleman and a great ambassador for everything Malifaux gaming should be about. I’m sanguine about losing to player of his ability and I feel like I did make him work hard to beat me (probably he would be too polite anyway to admit that he found it easy). If either of my two Magnetisms on the Effigy in turns 3 or 4 had come off I might have closed the gap (or maybe more in turn 3) but on the other hand I got crazy lucky to keep Yamaziko fighting against Mr Graves on turn 4. I felt that Greg was running out of pieces to work with by the end so if we’d managed a fifth turn I might have been able to score more. Notably I made a few bad choices in turn 4; in particular I probably should have just pushed Mei Feng out of melee at the end of turn 3 using Wings of Wind so she could go and actually score me some points then used Yamaziko to give Mr Graves a Cursed Object instead of trying to kill him at all. Of course, this is why I write these battle reports in the first place: to give me an opportunity to review and improve my game. If, if, if. Greg rightly beat me in the game that actually happened so I’ll just have to learn from this. After all that we were onto the final game where I would play James.
Game 4: Ten Thunders (me) vs Arcanists (James)
Pool: Line in the Sand, Protect Territory, Distract, Plant Explosives, Bodyguard
Ten Thunders: Protect Territory (announced), Plant Explosives
Arcanists: Protect Territory (announced), Plant Explosives
Ten Thunders: Mei Feng (Vapormancy, Recalled Training, Wings of Wind), Emberling, Kang (Blot the Sky), Thunder Archer, Illuminated, 2 Rail Workers, 2 Metal Gamin
Arcanists: Ramos (Combat Mechanic, Arcane Reservoir), Joss (Imbued Energies), Electrical Creation, Arcane Effigy, Large Arachnid, Myranda (Imbued Energies), Cassandra (Practised Production)
So, Arcanists in Reconnoitre? I was certainly expecting to see Ramos here and James didn’t disappoint. In the same vein, I don’t imagine that he was very surprised to see Kang in my crew. I had been taking a pair of Metal Gamin all day for utility Rail Walk points as needed, but of course against Constructs they’re very nice with a free attack in the form of Magnetism. I figured that the Archer would be hanging around Kang all the time anyway to pick off targets of opportunity and I had a spare SS at the end so took Blot the Sky. I took Protect Territory thinking that I’d probably want some models sitting still a lot to count for the Strategy, and then thought I might be able to lure a few attacks of opportunity onto my crew when they were sitting on scheme markers which I could re-purpose for Plant Explosives. As soon as I saw Cassandra with Practiced Production I knew I’d have to keep my crew spread apart.
Turn 1: Ramos does the now-familiar routine of Magnetising his own Electrical Creation and turning it into a trio of Steam Arachnids. One Metal Gamin magnetises Ramos (mainly for the movement) and other does it to finish off one of the Steam Arachnids that had been wounded by the Archer. Mei Feng walks into a cluster of my pieces and Vents Steam. Finally Myranda moves up and turns into a Cerberus (surprise!) which pokes a Metal Gamin rather toothlessly. The Arachnids scatter.
Turn 2: The Archer Rapid Fires the Cerberus to drop it out of Three Headed. It kills off the Metal Gamin anyway and Leaps to safety. Kang scraps another Arachnid and Mei Feng ensures that the Cerberus will burn to death at the end of the turn. Ramos summons another three Steam Arachnids from the increasing pile of scrap counters on the centreline. The rest of the turn is jockeying for position but James outplays me and only he scores on the strategy. Of course, having a swarm of Steam Arachnids around doesn’t hurt him, but I ended up leaving my Archer in the no scoring zone which didn’t make my life easier.
Turn 3: The Archer kills a Steam Arachnid and the Metal Gamin gets another. The Large Arachnid eats its Scheme marker, moves very slightly and drops another; I’m not sure what this achieved or if James just wanted to make use of its abilities while it was sitting in the back. The Arcane Effigy also drops one and I see an opportunity to at least get two points on Plant Explosives so the Rail Worker climbs the wall and drops a Scheme marker that will catch both the Large Arachnid and the Effigy while only being in range of one of their markers. Cassandra moves in to drop a Scheme Marker near the Archer and Metal Gamin (who have both already gone). Mei Feng makes a total mess of hitting the Spider she’s near and ends up just Rail Walking away to push the Archer away from Cassandra’s marker. The rest of the turn is a very complex dance of positioning as we both tried to arrange a third victim of our own Plant Explosives while not giving up a third point ourselves. Sadly my notes and writing ability aren’t adequate to describe it in a way that would help anyone, but it was highly entertaining. In the end we both have to settle for two points on Plant Explosives and neither of us gets anything for Reconnoitre.
Turn 4: Mei Feng hurts Ramos who summons another three Steam Arachnids then Magnetises away to one of them, perhaps to escape Kang’s spade. The Archer shoots a hefty chunk of Cassandra’s wounds off; she uses Southern Charm, Nimbles away from Kang (who can’t stop her thanks to the negative flip of course) and charges the Archer, easily skewering him. Time is running out and we agree to just theory out the rest of the turn; neither us of could see a way for me to catch up that missed Reconnoitre point from turn 2 (but for those reading along at home please let me know if you can think of a realistic one considering the board state). Ten Thunders lose 6 – 7 (1 for Reconnoitre, 2 for Plant Explosives and 3 for Protect Territory for me; 2 for Reconnoitre, 2 for Plant Explosives and 3 for Protect Territory for James).
That was a really fun game that needed a lot of thinking and careful positioning. James is a treat to play against and I hope that I can learn to keep up with his high quality of play. Like my previous game against Greg I wasn’t unhappy to have lost as I achieved my goal of making my opponent work hard to get the victory. James’ positioning was stronger than mine for much of the game and believe that I can see a few things now looking back that I need to watch for in future games.
When the results are announced I’ve come in 9th (of 20) which was pretty much expected based on winning two and losing two. I really enjoyed the event and I’m happy with my performance over the games; my two losses were close and were to very strong players. Overall I think I’ve learned a few more things about how to play Mei Feng (mainly I was trying to get a handle on Vapormancy which I hadn’t used much previously) and I find her a very satisfying master to put on the table. I’d like to thank Mark, Scott, Greg and James for joining me in four really good games of Malifaux, and Joe and Andrew for their hard work running a successful event.