After a dry tournament spell over the new year period I was pleased to get my 2015 off to a big start at Vapnartak 2015. Joe and I drove down to York having risen rather early; more accurately Joe drove down and sat and enjoyed the conversation. After using Ten Thunders for the whole of 2014 I had decided to play Guild for this event. This is because I’m a fool. Long time readers of my blog may remember that I used Guild in my first tournaments before moving over to Ten Thunders. At Fate Fading last year I sold my metal Guild to Greg, one of the local players who apparently isn’t too worried about the quality of paintwork on his second-hand miniatures. About a week after that, I got a urge to play Guild… so yes, after having them languishing in my bag for over a year, I sold the miniatures and immediately after wanted to use them again. Oh well, at least it gave me an excuse to pick up the very lovely plastic boxes instead. Excuse the partially painted nature of my miniatures in the photos; I’m still working on them, and a few were borrowed from Joe for the event.
In order to avoid the madness of over 50 players in a three round event, TO Chris had split the pack into two sections. Due to a drop out I ended up swapping over before round one; it was just as well I didn’t spend any time worrying about my potential opponents. As it happened, I was matched up with Lee who had been preparing for a specific match up. Hopefully he wasn’t too disappointed with the last minute change.
Game 1: Guild (me) vs Gremlins (Lee)
Pool: Line in the Sand, Assassinate, Spring The Trap, Protect Territory, Take Prisoner
Guild: Assassinate, Protect Territory (announced)
Gremlins: Assassinate, Protect Territory (announced)
Guild: Sonnia Criid (Reincarnation, Cherufe’s Imprint), Papa Loco, 2 Witchling Stalkers, 2 Death Marshals, Austringer, Malifaux Child
Gremlins: Ophelia LaCroix (Dirty Cheater, Liquid Bravery), Lenny, Raphael LaCroix, Francois LaCroix (Dirty Cheater), 2 Bayou Gremlins, Slop Hauler
I’ve only played a handful of games with Guild in M2E and all of them have been with Sonnia, so it wasn’t a hard decision to take her. The board seemed to offer some choke points so I took Cherufe’s Imprint and the Malifaux Child in order to block some angles of getting to the Informant marker. My testing so far has suggested that Papa Loco and a Death Marshal make for a highly entertaining accompaniment for Sonnia, and the rest of my crew was just intended to be mobile blockers and marker droppers. At 40SS it seems to be very hard to keep non-summoning masters safe so I tried Assassinate; Protect Territory usually feels like an achievable scheme under normal deployment.
Turn 1: We generally advance towards each other. Papa Loco tells Sonnia to Hold This and advances, followed by a charging Death Marshal who scoops him into a Pine Box. Francois goes Reckless and rushes me on the left faster than I was expecting, which puts a bit of a crimp on my plans to keep him out of the way with a Flame Wall. Ophelia picks up My Threatenin’ Gun and pulls the Slop Hauler up with Ooh A Girl! before taking Defensive Stance. Sonnia moves forward into range and Flame Bursts all over the little green guys, killing the Slop Hauler, dropping Raphael down to a single wound (which he loses to burning at the end of the turn) and splashing some hefty damage over Lenny and Ophelia. The Bayou Gremlin over there, missed by all the blasts, looks quite alarmed.
Turn 2: Ophelia moves forward, uses Ooh a Girl to bring Lenny to her (for the built-in Rams I suppose) and shoots Sonnia once with My Threatenin’ Gun and once with her normal guns. I cheat high enough to survive with a few wounds; the Austringer is paralysed by the side effect of My Threatenin’ Gun though. Sonnia cracks her knuckles and says ‘my turn’, then vapourises Ophelia, Lenny and the nearby Bayou Gremlin in gouts of flame. This scores me Assassinate in the process, and I turn Ophelia into a Witchling Stalker for the badness. Francois charges the nearby Death Marshal and kills him, and rest of my crew fails to do anything of significance in return. The lonely Bayou Gremlin on the left drops a scheme marker. I score on the strategy and move the Informant Marker further from Francois.
Turn 3: Francois uses Showdown and kills a Witchling. It turns out that fire doesn’t care about Showdowns as Sonnia happily blasts away into the melee; I’m perfectly happy to kill off my own Stalker to splash more blasts if needed over the Gremlin. In fact, Francois unwisely Squeals out of melee on the first hit and Sonnia barbecues him for his trouble. I think it would have been the same result over all, but this actually allowed me to splash the blast over the Bayou Gremlin to kill him with fire. With nothing left on the table, Lee concedes me the 10 – 0. Sadly, I forgot to take a picture of the barren table, but it’s not like it would have been much different from the previous shot.
Finishing so early allowed me lots of time to wander round and see what else was being played in the event; this appeared to be a lot of Hoffman, Dreamer, Leveticus and McCabe. Lee was a gentleman to play against, and it was lovely to face him across the table after seeing him around at a lot of events. Despite him telling me that he uses Sonnia as him demonstration crew for new players he seemed rather surprised by the fate of his crew on turns one and two. Anyway it evidently didn’t do him any harm as I believe that Lee won his other two games. I think we both enjoyed the game (it was fun for me at least) although I was a little sorry that it had been so one-sided. I had a good look round the rest of the convention, enjoyed a lunch and chat with the rest of the gamers and then it was on to the next round.
Game 2: Guild (me) vs Ten Thunders (Peter)
Pool: Line in the Sand, Breakthrough, Murder Protege, Distract, Plant Explosives
Guild: Murder Protege (unannounced), Plant Explosives
Ten Thunders: Murder Protege (unannounced), Breakthrough (announced)
Guild: Sonnia Criid (Reincarnation, Counterspell Aura), Papa Loco, 2 Witchling Stalkers, Death Marshal, Austringer, The Judge
Ten Thunders: Jakob Lynch (Endless Hunger, Woke Up With A Hand), Hungering Darkness (Recalled Training), Lone Swordsman (Recalled Training), 2 Illuminated, 2 Tengu
I’ve played Peter in an event half a year ago when he was very inexperienced at Malifaux, but he seems to be a real tournament regular now and very handy with his Ten Thunders by all accounts. Unfortunately for him, I also know Ten Thunders quite well and I’m fairly good at unpicking them. I decided that Cherufe’s Imprint wouldn’t be too useful on this board as we’ve agreed that the platforms would be climbable. With Murder Protege in the scheme pool I knew I needed someone quite substantial to avoid giving up the points too lightly; hence the presence of the Judge. Actually he’s probably not that good in Headhunter as any of his victims wouldn’t actually drop heads, but in this case his job was just to not die too easily, hopefully while drawing out the Lone Swordsman. I didn’t fancy Distract with this strategy and I also didn’t like the idea of trying to cross the board quickly enough to pick up Breakthrough, so I picked Murder Protege (unannounced because I didn’t want the Swordsman hiding; looking back I’m lucky he didn’t end up killing himself with You Shall Not See Another Sunrise) and Plant Explosives thinking that it might be a simple move for the Austringer to Deliver Orders.
Turn 1: Things move up. Papa Loco again passes Sonnia some dynamite before being scooped into a coffin by the Death Marshal. The Judge pulls Sonnia forward with Stand For Judgement. Hungering Darkness hides as well as it can but on this board there isn’t anywhere really safe, and Sonnia puts a few wounds on the big tadpole.
Turn 2: To my great surprise Hungering Darkness scoots away and hides in a corner far from the nasty burny lady. The Austringer shoots an Illuminated mainly just to waste time before I’m forced to engage. The Illuminated on the left heals up and moves forward; one of my Stalkers drops a scheme marker near her. The other Illuminated kills my other Stalker; in return Sonnia kills it and has the head drop near my crew. I also summon a replacement Stalker. Lynch shoots the Stalker who had dropped the scheme marker on the walkway; it advances with Drawn to Pain. The Judge saunters over and picks up the Illuminated’s head, scoring me one point for the strategy.
Turn 3: The Stalker in the middle moves to be engaged by Lynch and the Illuminated, hoping to set them ablaze when it inevitably dies. The Illuminated does indeed kill it on the first attack, then pats down to remove the fire; Lynch sensible Soulstones the damage away. The newly summoned Stalker picks up the head of his fallen brethren on the far right and one Tengu picks up the most recently fallen Stalker head. Hungering Darkness uses Recalled Training, moves up and puts one attack on the Death Marshal. The damage is weak but it does heal up. The Judge pulls the Death Marshal out of the fight with Stand For Judgement, then the Death Marshal drops a scheme marker next to it. Lynch kills the last Stalker, the Austringer’s bird pecks the Lone Swordsman a little and Sonnia immolates the Hungering Darkness. Finally, just when I think I’m going to pick up Plant Explosives, the Tengu rushes in and removes my marker with Still The Earth. I forgot it had that ability! We both score on the strategy.
Turn 4: The Lone Swordsman uses Recalled Training and charges the Judge; luckily I’d managed to position such that he had to Wander The Earth to get the angle, so at least I only had a single activation of damage to suck up. Two nice chops take the Judge down to 2 wounds left. Sonnia climbs onto the walkway and carpet bombs the assembled Ten Thunders crew, killing a Tengu, the Illuminated and the Lone Swordsman (scoring Murder Protege) not to mention putting some serious damage into Lynch. The Ten Thunders master picks up a head and moves to my right. My Death Marshal lets Papa Loco out of the box and picks up one of the many heads lying around. Papa Loco chain activates and bombs the Tengu back to the void. The Austringer sends his bird to peck at Lynch and the Judge runs as far from Lynch as he can manage. We both score a point for Headhunter.
Turn 5: Lynch collects a head, Papa Loco collects a head, then the Austringer drops a scheme marker next to Lynch for Plant Explosives. Guild win 7 – 3 (4 for Headhunter, 2 for Murder Protege and 1 for Plant Explosive for me; 3 for Headhunter for Peter.
That was a very fun game against Peter, but I think that the sheer power of Sonnia against Hungering Darkness put Peter on the back foot. I was confident of the win from the moment Peter moved his Hungering Darkness right out of the game in turn 2 as it meant that I could concentrate on other parts of his crew. The Lone Swordsman getting into the Judge was a bit of a hairy moment but short of getting the Red Joker I think he would struggle to finish the job in a single activation. With that, we were onto the final round. I was paired up against Mark, another gamer I’ve seen around at a few events but never actually played against.
Game 3: Guild (me) vs Neverborn (Mark)
Strategy: Stake a Claim
Pool: Line in the Sand, Bodyguard, Protect Territory, Outflank, Plant Explosives
Guild: Protect Territory (announced), Plant Explosives
Neverborn: Protect Territory (announced), Plant Explosives
Guild: Sonnia Criid (Reincarnation, Cherufe’s Imprint), Papa Loco, 2 Witchling Stalkers, Death Marshal, Austringer, 2 Guild Hounds, Malifaux Child
Neverborn: Dreamer (Dreams of Pain, On Wings of Darkness), 2 Silurids, Doppelganger (Mimic’s Blessing), Gupps, 2 Daydreams
The board we were playing on was quite strange, with large open spaces that should favour the shooting options, but also very large line-of-sight blocking sections that offered good hiding places. Stake a Claim is my worst strategy; I seem to struggle with it no matter which crew I take. However, the close deployment made this game a very interesting proposition. In this case, I decided to try out a pair of Guild Hounds as they’d be fast enough to get across the halfway line early and start dropping Claim markers. I also decided that there should be enough choke points to make it worth using the Malifaux Child and Cherufe’s Imprint to deny some movement.
Turn 1: The Malifaux Child starts things off by putting a Flame Wall as far down the right hand choke point as I can manage. There is a bit of activation wasting on both sides; Papa Loco gives Sonnia explosives and is boxed up by the Death Marshal on my side while the Daydreams mess about for Mark. The Dreamer resummons the lost Daydream, then brings in an Insidious Madness and makes it Fast. Since it is still on a single wound, the Austringer Focuses and kills the Madness. The Silurids leap and drop scheme markers near my Stalkers. Rather than give up Plant Explosive so easily, Sonnia kills off the Stalker on the right, using him to chain blasts that kill the Silurid and badly wound the Gupps. If only I’d had a severe in hand (or top decked it on a double positive twist) I could have had the Gupps too.
Turn 2: Another Daydream goes away to give masks to the Dreamer. One Hound drops a Claim marker. The Dreamer summons Lilitu, removes Slow from her and summons a replacement Daydream before turning into Lord Chompy Bits. The Malifaux Child recasts the Flame Wall in the same place, taking the Gupps to a single wound and the Stalker on the left drops a Claim Marker. Sonnia tries to shoot Lilitu but Mark top-decks the Red Joker to deny me. Lilitu moves up to engage the centre of the board; my Death Marshal fails to hit her. The Austringer uses Deliver Orders to make the first Hound drop a scheme marker just out of Lilitu’s huge melee range. The other Hound bites the Doppelganger. Lord Chompy Bits moves around in the backfield, presumably for some good reason that I can’t fathom, the Gupps drop a scheme marker that near both Hounds and the Doppelganer removes my own scheme marker nearby as I’d forgotten about Don’t Mind Me. Overall, not a very successful tournament for Plant Explosives for me. Finally, the Silurid on the left leaps into my half of the board and drops a Claim marker, removing my own on that side. Mark reveals Plant Explosives for all three points and neither of us score on the strategy.
Turn 3: Lilitu moves forward to be in the most annoying place possible, engaging most of my crew. The Stalker again drops a Claim Marker. Sonnia uses Confiscated Lore to increase her defence, then moves just out of Lilitu’s melee range. She shoots at Lord Chompy Bits but Black Jokers the first damage flip. The second shot Mark uses a Soulstone in defence and I can only get weak damage on the big monster. Lord Chompy Bits walks up and easily eats one of my Hounds before turning back into the Dreamer, wisely hidden behind the rock outcropping. I fail to kill Lilitu with the Austringer, so the Death Marshall walks up and Pine Boxes her. This pops out Papa Loco, who moves up and uses Te Llevare al Infierno Conmigo, killing the pesky Doppelganger. He nearly scares the Dreamer too, but Mark uses a Soulstone for a postive flip and makes it on the second card with nothing in hand. The Silurid again puts down a Claim marker, removing my own. Neither of us score for Stake a Claim.
Turn 4: Sonnia shoots Papa Loco, splashing the blasts over the Dreamer and then blowing up the Ortega for good measure (this also finishes off the other Guild Hound). Mark’s out of Soulstones anyway, but that would have needed some impressive damage prevention to avoid. Then she walks over halfway and drops a scheme marker. The Gupps leap into my half of the table and scheme; I try to kill them off (only one wound remaining remember) with the Malifaux Child but it’s not to be as a 13 is cheated in to avoid the hit. The Death Marshall heads upfield to drop a scheme marker. I nearly get lucky as one Daydream rushes over to try and stop me scoring Protect Territory, but Mark remembers about Plant Explosives before committing the second one and is able to Lead Nightmare to get the first away again. The Stalker drops a Claim marker, then the Austringer helps him drop a scheme marker too; the Silurid also drops scheme marker in their little corner. I score on the strategy but it’s not enough. Guild lose 4 – 6 (3 for Protect Territory and 1 for Stake a Claim for me; 3 for Protect Territory and 3 for Plant Explosives for Mark). Sadly I only remembered to take a photo after we’d started clearing up so there are a few missing markers etc.
That was a truly terrific game, surely of the best I’ve played in months. Indeed, this is one reason I like to travel to tournaments – to test myself against players better than I am. I think I saw a few order of activation and placement errors that I could fix, but of course the big mistake was clustering the Hounds close together and then forgetting Don’t Mind Me on the Doppelganger. Even with that I think if I’d played a little more cannily on the last turn I could possibly have eeked out a draw or better. Mark did everything he needed to for the victory, and was an absolute blast to play throughout. I’ll be delighted if I get to face him again.
Once all the scores were counted I came in 5th place of the 28 players in my division, which I’m really happy about. I had 3 very entertaining games against 3 very nice players, so I’d like to thank Lee, Peter and Mark for spending their day with me. I also want to mention the organisers Chris and Josh for putting on a fantastic event again. Finally, Joe, Maria and I drove back North, stopping for our now-customary terrifying fast food portion and with Joe and me trying to learn pearls of Malifaux wisdom from the foot of the expert.