This weekend was the long-awaited and much-anticipated Malifaux Scottish GT 2015, a five round 50SS event with a big enough pull to attract strong players from outside the usual local scene here in Scotland. There has been much talk about it in the regional FB group and I believe that the whole group of attendees were really looking forward to this; I certainly was. Furycat and I drove over to Common Grounds Gaming in Stirling, but we were later than planned and everyone else arranged to start without us. Being paired up with Furycat in the first round of an event was not really ideal for either of us, not because I don’t enjoy playing him but because we play each other at various games pretty much every week anyway and it felt like a bit of a waste to do so yet again in an organised event with so many other potential opponents. Luckily, two chaps arrived late (with a much better excuse than we had) before we started, so after a quick switch of tables, it was on with the Malifaux.
Game 1: Guild (me) vs Neverborn (Ewan Smart)
Pool: Line in the Sand, Protect Territory, Breakthrough, Plant Evidence, Murder Protegé
Guild: Protect Territory (announced), Plant Evidence (announced)
Neverborn: Breakthrough(announced), Murder Protegé (announced; Papa Loco)
Guild: Sonnia Criid (Reincarnation, Disrupt Magic), Papa Loco (Hermanos De Armas), 2 Hunters, Witchling Stalker, Brutal Effigy, Death Marshal, Austringer
Neverborn: Pandora (The Box Opens, Fears Given Form, Aetheric Connection), Candy, Kade (Depression), Teddy, Sorrow, Poltergeist, Insidious Madness
Sonnia Criid can be a bit of a gamble in Headhunter as she tends to leave heads scattered around close to the enemy but my plan here was to keep the pressure on so hard that Ewan didn’t get a chance do more than fend me off. I took the fairly standard (for me) selection of support for Sonnia, notably Papa Loco and the Death Marshal. The Brutal Effigy can be wonderful with Sonnia, but I frequently either forget to activate it first or forget that I’ve used Fear Not The Sword when I’m activating her. Luckily it’s still a strong cheap scheme runner so it always earns its keep. Plant evidence felt like a more achievable option in corner deployment than Breakthrough and Protect Territory fits in with my game plan for Guild perfectly (i.e. don’t advance too much, shoot everything to death, spend turn 5 scoring points). I got mixed up with sums here and played 4SS down; there should have been a Watcher that I forgot to put out.
Turn 1: Papa Loco does Hold This for Sonnia and pulls her forward with Cover Me before eventually being tucked into a Pine Box. The crews move to engage, me as rapidly as I can manage considering the massive forest that is pretty much my entire deployment zone and Ewan surprisingly cagily. In the end, Sonnia is able to get range to the Poltergeist and kills it off while spreading some damage across the Sorrow, Candy and Kade.
Turn 2: Sonnia unleashes everything she’s got, killing off the Kade, Candy and the Sorrow and summoning a Witchling Stalker from the latter. Pandora floats over and makes Sonnia Flame Burst herself, getting a tasty Red Joker for damage partway through and burning off the rest of my Soulstones. I totally forget about the Disrupt Magic aura from the Witchling Stalker that could have saved me a lot of pain by putting all her attacks on negative flips. Teddy lumbers over and kills her, but is himself on his last couple of wounds. My remaining models begin a hilarious chain of failing horror duels on Teddy so we end up with a big clump around him and I’m finally able to drop the big lunk with the Austringer. I had hoped to Deliver Orders to pick up one of the many head markers lying around instead.
Turn 3: Pandora comes into my group in the centre and starts hurting the Death Marshal to get at the tasty Papa Loco inside. The Austringer Black Jokers a focussed shot at the Insidious Madness (who has been off dropping markers in the right corner as Ewan forgot where he needed to be for Breakthrough). The Effigy and Hunter who are not cuddling Pandora start to drop scheme markers all around. The summoned Stalker finally picks up a head so I score on the Strategy.
Turn 4: Pandora finishes off the Death Marshal, dropping Papa Loco back out of his Pine Box. She then kills him, causing him to explode, which takes out the Hunter and puts the nearby Stalker on single wound. It would be rude to leave him so unsatisfied, so Pandora pings the last wound out of the Witchling Stalker with Incite, and laughs her was toward my deployment zone. The Austringer kills the Insidious Madness at the second time of asking and the surviving Witchling Stalker picks up another of the many head hanging around. Way away from the carnage, my two other unengaged pieces continue to mine the countryside with scheme markers. I score on the Strategy again.
Turn 5: Pandora picks up a head, drops a scheme marker, incites the Austringer to get a push and then puts down another scheme marker. Somewhere on the other side of the board, the Stalker picks up a third head. We both score for the Strategy this time. Guild win 9 – 7 (3 for Headhunter and both schemes for me; 1 for Headhunter and 3 both schemes for me for Ewan).
That was a nice game to start off my event, and I was pleased to be able to take a wind despite not playing very cleverly. Ewan could be a quite a good player if he was able to get a bit more experience. I could have made Ewan’s life a lot more difficult simply by remembering that I had Disrupt Magic, and I have no idea why I didn’t just run away with the Death Marshal and his explosive cargo when Pandora was clearly going to be gunning for him. The crew I took does give up Murder Protegé quite easily though; the most expensive pieces are only 7SS.
Game 2: Guild (me) vs Resurrectionists (Kai Young)
Strategy: Turf War
Pool: Line in the Sand, Bodyguard, Assassinate, Plant Explosives, Power Ritual
Guild: Power Ritual (announced), Plant Explosives
Resurrectionists: Assassinate, Plant Explosives
Guild: Sonnia Criid (Reincarnation, Counterspell Aura), Papa Loco (Hermanos De Armas), 2 Hunters, Witchling Stalker, Brutal Effigy, Death Marshal, Austringer, Watcher
Resurrectionists: Seamus (Not Too Banged Up, Bag of Tools, Mad Haberdasher), Copycat Killer, Madame Sybelle, 3 Rotten Belles, Nurse, Crooligan, Bete Noire
Turf War requires a lot of bunching up so I figured that I could keep Sonnia somewhat safe and blast away at anything that stayed in a group close to the marker, bouncing blasts off my own models if needed. I basically kept the same crew as the previous game, except adding the missing Watcher and swapping out Disrupt Magic for Counterspell Aura since I expected some Luring. Power Ritual looked like a good job for the Watcher if I could keep attention on the centre of the board. Plant Explosives is handy if there is a lot of pieces placing next to each other (like the Copycat Killer moving to Seamus), but I did worry about giving up some points if my plan to carpet bomb the Ressurectionists went too well.
Turn 1: Papa Loco hands Sonnia a stick of dynamite and heads forward, pulling up with him using Cover Me before the following Death Marshal catches up and puts him in a Pine Box. In one corner, the Stalker drops a scheme marker for Power Ritual before beginning the long slog be involved in the game. The Nurse, Sybelle and all three Belles rather helpfully line up next to each other with a sliver of line of sight from Sonnia to the Nurse. What follows is not pretty. The Brutal Effigy puts Fear Not The Sword on Sonnia and a barrage of Flame Bursts ensues. The first shot targets the Nurse and lights up the other four victims; successive shots finish her off along with all three Belles; Sybelle is left on fire and with a single remaining wound. I’m feeling pretty good, so I burn a couple of Soulstones to summon a couple of Witchling Stalkers in the process; though I am concerned about my ability to score on Plant Explosives now. Bete Noire pops out of the carnage. Kai gets his revenge as first Seamus and then the Copycat Killer teleport into range of Sonnia and blast away at her leaving my master with 2 remaining wounds. The left Hunter Chain Spears Seamus for Slow. The Crooligan starts up the Mist to keep me from shooting more at Seamus. The Watcher moves up past Seamus and the Austringer Delivers Orders to make it drop a marker, thereby scoring me 3VP for Plant Explosives.
Turn 2: The Copycat Killer kills Sonnia, scoring 3VP for Assassinate then puts a shot into the Death Marshal. The Death Marshal delivers Papa Loco into the group of the Crooligan, Seamus and the CopyCat Killer, and the Ortega duly blows himself up for some nice damage on Seamus and killing both of the others (and the Death Marshal and himself of course). Seamus summons a Belle then charges and kills one of my summoned Stalkers, damaging himself and Bete Noire in the ensuing explosion. The Watcher makes a run for the far corner and its date with Power Ritual. Bete kills the other new Stalker and one Hunter kills the new Belle (poor girl, before she’s even activated). The other Hunter drags and Slows Seamus. The Austringer continues to ping Seamus, eventually knocking his hat off. Bete burns to death but Kai is able to top deck the required 10 to bury her. I score on the Strategy.
Turn 3: Seamus focusses and kills the Stalker so that Bete can come back out. The Hunter bites her and she Flurries back rather ineffectually. The Watcher finally makes it to the corner and drops a Power Ritual marker. Everything else I have (i.e. not much at this point) gangs up and finally kills Seamus. I score on for Turf War.
Turn 4: One of the Hunters kills Bete Noire. Guild win 10 – 3 (full score for me; 3 for Assassinate for Kai).
Kai was a lovely chap to play against, but after I destroyed half of his crew in turn 1 there was only one way this was going to end. I did ask Kai if he knew what Sonnia did, and he assured me that he was familiar with her, so I am not sure why he didn’t space out a bit more. The gaming group Kai comes from is somewhat new to the Malifaux scene and it’s really good to see them keep improving with each event. Hopefully this will be another bit of experience that can help Kai’s game (i.e. don’t stand close to your friends if Sonnia is on the other side of the board). From my side, I didn’t really feel like I did anything very clever, but once again, I was happy to get a good win from a potentially tricky match up.
Game 3: Guild (me) vs Outcasts (James Reeves)
Strategy: Collect The Bounty
Pool: Line in the Sand, Protect Territory, Distract, Take Prisoner, Frame For Murder
Guild: Protect Territory (announced), Frame For Murder (Nino Ortega)
Outcasts: Protect Territory (announced), Frame For Murder (Void Wretch)
Guild: Perdita Ortega (Trick Shooting), Nino Ortega (Hair Trigger), Guardian, 2 Hunters, Austringer, Enslaved Nephilim, Witchling Stalker
Outcasts: Tara (Eternal Journey, Obliteration Symbiote, Knowledge of Eternity), Johana, Bishop (Oathkeeper), Taelor (Oathkeeper), Hans (Scout The Field), Void Wretch, Malifaux Child
I decided on Perdita for Collect The Bounty on the basis that she is very likely to be able to kill off one piece per turn on her own, and hopefully the rest of the crew could contribute enough Bounty between them to score each time. Apart from Nino, the rest of the crew are either dangerous or hard to kill and are minions (and therefore score only a single Bounty point). I put Frame For Murder on Nino as he could start further forward and is an enforcer which I hoped would make him an appealing target. The terrain in the game makes the photos a bit useless as most of James’s crew sensibly spent most of the game behind big buildings.
Turn 1: Tara buries Bishop after making him Fast. The Stalker moves forward and the Nephilim pushes both Hunters after it. The Child makes Taelor Fast which she uses to race off around a building far away from any likely action. Nino pings a few shots at Tara, mainly to draw her attention and succeeds in drawing a couple of Soulstones; one Hunter puts Slow on her too but doesn’t drag her in as I don’t want to give up a ‘Bishop bomb’ too easily. Hans focuses but misses a Hunter anyway. The Austringer pings a little more damage onto Tara. The Guardian Protects Perdita and she moves into the open and puts some wounds into Johana.
Turn 2: One Hunter attacks Tara; she pokes it back with her sword and then teleports back to her deployment zone. The other Hunter kills Johana, releasing Bishop next to her corpse. Nino pings a volley into the Void Wretch, mainly hitting the Hunter in the end. The Child fails to heal Tara and the Void Wretch makes my Hunter Slow. Bishop bounces embarrassingly off the Hunter. The Nephilim Shackles itself and Perdita forward. Hans drops Scout the Field but only does moderate damage to Nino (annoyingly, as cheating in severe would have got me my Frame For Murder points). Taelor burns Oathkeeper and charges Perdita; in return both the Guardian and Perdita herself fight back but can only drop Taelor to a single remaining wound. I score for Collect The Bounty. The engaged Hunter pushes to engage Hans.
Turn 3: The Guardian kills Taelor and companions to Perdita who charges kills Bishop. The Child again fails to heal Tara. The Hunter misses Hans and is killed by Tara. The Witchling Stalker finally makes it across the square and kills off the Void Wretch, giving up 2 VP for Frame For Murder. Funnily enough, only a Black Joker damage flip from Perdita on Bishop earlier in the turn saved me from giving up the extra point by killing it off with her. Nino, one Hunter and the Austringer begin a long walk to get in range of any potential targets. I score again for the Strategy.
Turn 4: Tara teleports right to the edge of her deployment zone and makes a break for the left corner of the board. Perdita follows but James has enough masks in his hand to keep Tara safe. Hans pings the Stalker. Nino finally finishes trudging / being Shackled around the building and drops the Malifaux Child. The rest of my stuff fails to hurt Hans.
Turn 5. Tara saunters round the building and drops scheme markers for Protect Territory. Perdita tells her crew to stop messing about and guns down Hans with no further fuss. The rest of my crew drop scheme markers, or sit next to them if they are already there. I score for Collect The Bounty. Guild win 6 – 5 (3 for Collect The Bounty and 3 for Protect Territory for me; 3 for Protect Territory and 2 for Frame For Murder for James).
James has a pretty strong reputation so I was glad to be able to hold on for a win against him here. We had plenty of laughs and I really liked his wacky perspective on the Malifaux world. I was in real trouble for a while since James’s crew mostly stayed back and didn’t ever go in a position to threaten Nino so apart from one shot from Hans I wasn’t ever looking likely to score Frame For Murder. In the end, I just got lucky with Perdita not being the one to kill the Void Wretch which allowed me to sneak a narrow win.
This was the end of the first day, so scores were added up and the round 4 pairings were announced, then we went out for a highly satisfactory dinner and drinks.
Game 4: Guild (me) vs Outcasts (Maria Wieland)
Pool: Line in the Sand, Bodyguard, Entourage, Distract, Deliver a Message
Guild: Entourage (Perdita; announced), Bodyguard (Francisco)
Outcasts: Deliver a Message (announced), Bodyguard (Vanessa)
Guild: Perdita Ortega (Trick Shooting, Aura Ancestral), Nino Ortega (Hair Trigger), Francisco (Wade In), Guardian, Austringer, 2 Hunters
Outcasts: Tara (Eternal Journey, Obliteration Symbiote, Knowledge of Eternity), Bishop, Johan, Malifaux Child, Vanessa, Lazarus, Freikorps Trapper
I’d had the overnight break to think about my options for this game. Normally I don’t make much of an effort to plan my crews in advance, but since this game was against such a strong player I did discuss it on the journey to and from the venue. After a while I realised that I could get into a loop of always worrying about being counterpicked and just went for a crew that felt like it could get the job done and hope to be able to do the correct thing on the table. Indeed, Malifaux is not a game that can generally be decided at the crew selection stage. I didn’t really fancy anything in the scheme pool too much as nothing I have in Guild gives me many options for Deliver a Message and Distract goes against what I’ll be trying to do in Reckoning. Despite my reputation (and by self-admission) for playing a very damage-focussed game, I actually find Reckoning quite hard as the optimal crew builds are usually quite low model count. I feel like I am at my most comfortable in Malifaux with a crew of 8 or 9 good activations rather than 5 or 6 great activations. Ultimately I selected Bodyguard on Francisco and hoped to keep him alive with judicious use of Soulstones and Entourage on Perdita, which would be quite straightforward if I could keep her alive.
Turn 1: Tara makes Lazarus Fast. Nino Rapid Fires at Tara, forcing a couple of masks out of her hand. The Trapper focusses and hurts Nino. Vanessa Commands Construct to move Lazarus forward, then the big robot focuses and Auto-Fires, killing Nino with the first shot (and thereby enabling Deliver a Message) and hurting the left Hunter. Perdita ignores armour to kill Lazarus. The Child makes Bishop Fast and buries him. The Guardian uses Protect on Perdita, mainly so that I can briefly live the dream of being Df9 with double positive defensive flips. Tara misses a few shots at a Hunter. I know that something (presumably Bishop) is coming in to try to Deliver a Message at the start of the next turn so I’m trying to build a web of bases and melee ranges to make him have to work for it.
Turn 2: Maria and I spend a bit of time verifying that Tara can move and drop Bishop in a place where he can walk to Deliver a Message without triggering any disengaging strikes, and since I couldn’t quite keep him out he is able to do so and score 3VP for the scheme. Tara teleports back to her own deployment zone during her activation. The Guardian pokes Bishop and the Trapper kills the wounded Hunter before putting a shot into the other one. The Austringer pings another couple of wounds out of Bishop, leaving him on a single wound. Vanessa finishes the second Hunter. Perdita kills Bishop, moves up and Obeys Francisco into charge range of Vanessa (while still being within 2″ of her, so she can get another turn out of El Mayor). Somewhere around her I also Hero’s Gamble, putting away a 3 card hand no higher than a 4 and picking up another 3 cards also not higher than a 4. Maria sees Francisco coming and so the Child buries Vanessa. Instead, Francisco charges the Trapper but leave him on a single wound. Johan charges Francisco but is only able to do a single hit thanks to Finesse. Maria scores for Reckoning.
Turn 3: Tara pings Francisco for Slow and makes Johan Fast. Perdita charges in and takes Johan down to his Hard to Kill wound and companions to Francisco who kills off the Trapper then uses Finesse. Vanessa falls back to reality on the roof of the building. Johan Flurries Francisco but can’t make it through the Finesse. The Guardian Protects Francisco and takes the Trigger to heal him. Vanessa disengages, focusses and misses a shot a Francisco. The Austringer polishes off Johan and the Child fails to Slow Francisco. I score on the Strategy.
Turn 4: Vanessa runs the hell away from Perdita and Francisco, telegraphing that she has Bodyguard on her. Perdita blows away the Malifaux Child, the Guardian heals Francisco again with the trigger on Protect and the Austringer top decks a Red Joker attack flip on Vanessa allowing me to cheat in a nice severe plus Critical Strike. We both score a point for Bodyguard.
Turn 5: Vanessa heals herself. The Guardian and Perdita both charge Tara (conveniently this gets Perdita into Tara’s deployment zone) and hurt her quite badly. Tara moves round, avoiding the disengaging strike, and tries to take Francisco below half wounds but can’t quite do enough damage. For the second turn in a row I’m able to flip a Red Joker attack with the Austringer on Vanessa, putting her down to a single wound. If the game ends now I will win by one. We flip, and the game does not continue. Maria chooses (not surprisingly) to reflip with Stutter Time, and it comes up a 13! We both score a point again for Bodyguard.
Turn 6: Vanessa heals again to have 5 wounds left. Perdita drops Tara finally. The Austringer can’t quite do the needed number of wounds to finish off Vanessa (I would need a 12 of rams or better, plus one other severe card, or any 12 and the Red Joker I think). The game ends in a draw (1 for Reckoning and full points for both schemes for both of us).
Wow, what a game. Maria has a reputation as a fantastic Malifaux player for a good reason and I’m glad to have held her to a draw after 6 turns. I probably could have played Francisco a bit more cagily considering he had Bodyguard on him; Johan could probably have killed him by taking a focussed swing in turn 3 rather than using Flurry. I felt that I let the Hunters go quite cheaply too; in general I’m used to being able to flood the board with comparable threats which means that the Hunters (who are often out on the flanks away thank to their mobility) tend to get a fairly easy ride. In this case the terrain forced me to send them both straight up the middle and without much cover available Maria was able to gun both down without any trouble.
As it happened the other two players on three wins also got a draw and in addition the two just below who were on two wins and draw both won their games (their draw had been against each other which is why they weren’t playing again). So we went into game 5 with everything still to play for and only points difference separating the top six players.
Game 5: Guild (me) vs Gremlins (Connor Barker)
Pool: Line in the Sand, Breakthrough, Assassinate, Cursed Object, Vendetta
Guild: Breakthrough (announced), Cursed Object
Gremlins: Breakthrough (announced), Assassinate
Guild: Sonnia Criid (Reincarnation), Papa Loco, 2 Hunters, 2 Guild Hounds, Brutal Effigy, Death Marshal, Austringer, Watcher
Gremlins: Som’er Teeth Jones, 2 Skeeters, Merris LaCroix, 12 (yes, twelve) Bayou Gremlins
With Reconnoitre I supposed that I might be likely to see a Som’er summoning factory and figured that setting them all ablaze with Sonnia would be the simplest option. There was no reason here not to take a nice cheap crew with plenty of activations so I took the Hounds, Watcher and Brutal Effigy to cheaply run schemes. Of course, I was still expecting to be out-activated, but I was still amazed by what Connor set down across the table. Naturally, killing Merris efficiently was going to be key to this game. With close deployment I picked Breakthrough as an easy 3 points (and so did just about everyone else I saw) and decided that Cursed Object should be simple enough to score as there were simply so many Gremlins out there.
Turn 1: The Hunters Chain Spear a Gremlin each but one Black Jokers the damage flip. The drag victim moves round the Hunter to be further on my side of the board. The Hounds move up and drop scheme markers. Some Gremlins punch or shoot Som’er to move him around with Loudest Squeal. Papa Loco give Sonnia a stick of magical dynamite (no need for Cover Me in close deployment) and is eventually popped into a Pine Box. Som’er uses Do It Like Dis for rams then uses his Bigger Hat on Sonnia to make us both discard our hands. A Skeeter moves up to engage Sonnia and is killed by the Austringer. Sonnia takes a couple of pot shots into the crowd of Gremlins, but she’s pretty sad with no control hand and Merris sitting behind the building. I think I kill one or two in the end. Merris goes Reckless to move up into view of my crew and misses a shot at Sonnia. The Watcher advances and drops a scheme marker. Various Bayou Gremlins stroll around and take shots but they mostly seems to be getting in each others way.
Turn 2: Som’er uses Do It Like Dis for masks. He tries to compare Hats with Sonnia but I manage to get Reflect Magic off on the first 2 (top-decking the Red Joker on the first) and hitting moderate damage on both to kill a pair of nearby Gremlins. With the extra cards in hand Som’er decides he’s not so keen to get rid of his own hand. The Brutal Effigy puts out Fear Not The Sword. Sonnia uses Confiscated Lore to get up to Ca9 then vapourises Merris with a single shot. Naturally I kill her first to remove the blast immunity for the rest of the Gremlins, dropping 3 of them with the first action. She then puts some fairly serious damage onto Som’er since he’s obligingly standing there. The Gremlin on the left hurts my Hunter. Over on the right, the Hounds eat the leading Gremlin. The Death Marshal guns down another and the second Skeeter moves in to take the place of the first and I’m not able to pick it off this time with the Austringer. The Watcher hands the Gremlin on the left a Cursed Object. I score Cursed Object and Reconnoitre.
Turn 3: The Skeeter goes double Defensive. The Hunter on the right kills one of the Gremlins behind the big building. One of the few surviving Gremlins shoots Som’er to move him. He uses Do It Like Dis for rams again then double focusses and shoots Sonnia, accurately picking her out in the melee and doing some nasty damage with Thinkin’ Luck. The Death Marshal shoots at Som’er, who is looking distinctly unhealthy by now. The Austringer can only manage 1 damage on the Skeeter so it’ll be up to Sonnia to try to get herself free. The Brutal Effigy uses Fear Not The Sword and fails to disengage. Sonnia then flips a very timely Red Joker to attack the Skeeter, killing it and healing a ludicrous number wound and drawing cards thanks to the Brutal Effigy and the Absorb Magic trigger. She then immolates Som’er and the remaining two Gremlins in the middle of the board. Over on the left, the last Gremlin is dropping Breakthrough markers and the Watcher hands it another Cursed Object. Since this is the last Gremlin and it has only a single wound, Connor decided that it would kill itself with Reckless next turn to deny me the final point for Cursed Object; of course, I would remove his scheme markers. Guild win 9 – 0 (4 for Reconnoitre, 3 for Breakthrough and 2 for Cursed Object for me; nothing for Connor).
Any game against Connor is always fun, and this was no exception. He took my expectation of what I would come up against and dialled it up to 11. I don’t think I would do anything particularly different (and notably, I did get some very lucky flips) but the main thing I took away from this is that using Merris to protect your Gremlins against Sonnia is going to be very hard to achieve.
When the points are all added up, I come in a very respectable second place, behind Maria only on VP scored as we were also tied on VP difference. I’m really happy with the result, and I felt that my play got better as the event went on, albeit from a fairly ropey start. I had five great games against five great people and got to spend my weekend with a really great crew of folks, both locals and those who had made the effort to travel far to play. Thanks to Ewan, Kai, James, Maria and Connor for being wonderful opponents, and thanks of course to Joe, Andrew and Maria (again) for making everything run smoothly. All in all, a wonderful way to spend a weekend.