I like to take the opportunity to visit tournaments outside Scotland whenever possible, partly as I like to reciprocate the visits that other gamers give to my local scene, and partly because I love to play against a wide variety of opponents. Since Joe is so kind to drive when we make these road trips, it’s very pleasing to be able to just sit in his passenger seat and enjoy the ride even if we do all have to set off early. For this event, Dave L joined us in the car. Sunderland obviously makes quite an appealing location for an ‘away trip’ partly since it’s among the nearest possible destinations and partly because the local Henchman, Nate, runs terrific events.
Game 1: Guild (me) vs Arcanists (Graham)
Strategy: Turf War
Pool: Line in the Sand, Distract, Assassinate, Plant Evidence, Entourage
Guild: Plant Evidence (announced), Line in the Sand (announced)
Arcanists: Plant Evidence (announced), Distract
Guild: Sonnia Criid (Reincarnation, Disrupt Magic), Papa Loco (Hermanos De Armas), 2 Hunters, Witchling Stalker, Brutal Effigy, Death Marshal, Austringer, Watcher
Arcanists: Ramos (Arcane Reservoir, Bleeding Edge Tech, Combat Mechanic), Brass Arachnid, Arcane Effigy, Electrical Creation, Howard Langston (Imbued Energies), Mechanical Rider, Metal Gamin
The board was quite open here so my basic plan was to either use Sonnia from further back to clear the centre each turn if Graham was aggressive, or take the centre myself and just blast anything that came near. There was nothing in the scheme pool that I fancied the look of much; Distract was going to make my plan for Turf War hard to execute, Entourage with Sonnia in corner deployment looked improbable and I didn’t really like my chances of catching Assassinate in Ramos if I was also going to keep the centre open. Tidying up Langston and the Mechanical Rider early was going to be the main challenge; then I would have to concentrate on dealing with the inevitable swarms of spiders.
Turn 1: We start with the predictable set plays; the Metal Gamin using Protection of Metal on itself; Papa Loco using Hold This on Sonnia, pulling her forward and being Pine Boxed by the Death Marshal, and Ramos zapping the Electrical Creation. But then, to my great surprise, Ramos didn’t summon loads of Steam Arachnids. I had thought at the time that maybe Graham was wary of giving Sonnia targets out in the open, but actually it ws just that his hand was terrible. The Brass Arachnid fails to Stoke Langston, and the big chap uses his steam cloud and moves into some cover. Sonnia Flame Bursts him anyway (without the benefit of Confiscated Lore on the first shot since I’m an idiot and forgot to use it), splashing some damage over the Rider.
Turn 2: I was expecting Langston to come racing over to kill my stuff, but instead he hides and creates another cloud of steam. My Effigy drops a scheme marker and Ramos summons a trio of Steam Arachnids before retreating to cover. Sonnia immolates 2 of the spiders and takes the opportunity to splash a couple more blasts over Langston. The Brass Arachnid fails again to Stoke Langston and my Death Marshal pops the last spider. On the far right, a Metal Gamin Magnetises over to my Hunter and is gently poked in return. The Rider summons another Metal Gamin and joins it in a slap fight with my other Hunter. The Austringer dinks a wound off the Gamin on the right. Somewhere in here my Watcher drops a scheme marker on my far left. I score for Turf War.
Turn 3: The Brutal Effigy shoots a Gamin on the left, killing it. The Mechanical Rider summons another and kills off my Watcher, dropping a couple of scheme markers in the process. Over on the right, the Hunter prods ineffectively at the Metal Gamin and the Austringer finally kills the dang thing. The Brass Arachnid Stokes Langston at the third time of asking and he sets off toward the centre with a murderous look in his eyes. So Sonnia vapourises him, and splashes the Brass Arachnid down to a single wound and on fire while she’s at it. Ramos summons three more spiders which swarm together and are pushes into a Pine Box by the Death Marshal. I score again for Turf War.
Turn 4: On the left, my Hunter drops a scheme marker and shoots Slow onto the Rider. She summons a Steam Arachnid and scraps the impudent Hunter. Sonnia uses the newly-summoned Arachnid as a target from which to aim her blasts, killing it, the Rider and the nearby Arachnid. Ramos summons another trio of Arachnids and kills my Effigy. Papa Loco Focuses and shoots Ramos, cheating in severe damage to kill off all three spiders. The Death Marshal manages to keep the Swarm in his Pine Box and I start the slow process of plinking away at Ramos’ wounds. I score for the Strategy.
Turn 5: Ramos kills my Hunter on the right and summons another couple of spiders. We look at the game and agree to call it as it stands. Guild win 10 – 1 (full score for me; 1 for Plant Evidence for Graham).
Graham was a lovely chap to play against, and thanks to him I have a new-found understanding of the timing rules (hopefully I didn’t come across as too rude when we were discussing it). From my side everything went swimmingly, but the board was very much in my favour. Indeed, we did mention it to the TO and there was some scatter terrain added before the beginning of the next round. After a break for a delicious chilli, I was paired up with the Chosen One himself.
Game 2: Guild (me) vs Neverborn (Greg)
Strategy: Squatter’s Rights
Pool: Line in the Sand, Breakthrough, Bodyguard, Deliver a Message, Murder Protegé
Guild: Murder Protegé (Nekima; unannounced), Line in the Sand (announced)
Neverborn: Murder Protegé (Guardian; unannounced), Breakthrough (announced)
Guild: Perdita Ortega (Trick Shooting, Aura Ancestral), Nino Ortega (Hair Trigger), Guardian, 2 Hunters, Austringer, Enslaved Nephilim, Watcher, Brutal Effigy
Neverborn: Lilith (Beckon Malifaux, Wings of Darkness), Primordial Magic, Doppelganger, Johan (Retribution’s Eye), Mr Graves, Mysterious Effigy, Nekima, Terror Tot
I’ve been in a habit of using Sonnia against Neverborn, but with Squatter’s Rights I decided that maybe the extra movement afforded me by Perdita and the Enslaved Nephilim would be more helpful. I had some kind of vague plan about keeping a couple of the markers covered by the Guardian’s massive melee range, but also I do find that Perdita plus Protect is quite entertaining. I was hoping to spread out with the Watcher and maybe one of the Hunters to pick up the outermost markers, then swing inward and keep the centre tied up in a huge scrum.
Turn 1: Lilith fails to Tangle Shadows on Nino thanks to Aura Ancestral, she then drops an Illusory Forest in front of herself. Nino breathes a sigh of relief and pings a few wounds off the Effigy. Mr Graves pushes Nekima forward and she then scraps the lead Hunter. I knew I was going to lose something so I wasn’t too surprised that Greg pulled the trigger so early. Perdita shoots away about half of Nekima’s wounds.
Turn 2: Greg takes the opportunity to cheat initiative and Nekima swats Nino, paralysing the Guardian with Teach Them Fear. The Watcher takes the right marker and drops a scheme marker and the Hunter follows suit on the right. Lilith charges the Austringer but Black Jokers one of her attacks to leave him alive. Johan scraps my Effigy, then the Austringer and Perdita gang up to finally drop Nekima (scoring me two VP for Murder Protegé in the process). The Doppelganger takes a Squat marker. I score on the Strategy.
Turn 3: After cheating the initiative, Johan smites the Guardian for a couple of VP on Murder Protegé before being finished off by the Austringer. Perdita narrowly fails to kill off the Doppelganger (just one wound short!). She, or maybe it, moves to take the centre marker. My Hunter hurts Mr Graves and the Tot flips like a hero to kill off the Watcher. The Nephilim fails to Influence my Austringer to kill the Doppelganger, then Lilith kills the bird-man. The Mysterious Effigy reflips the right-most marker. Greg scores for the Strategy.
Turn 4: Lilith kills Perdita after a lucky initial damage flip then some clever use of resources by Greg. The Hunter and Mr Graves bounce off each other. Looking at the board state, I call it here. Guild lose 3 – 8 (2 for Murder Protegé and 1 for Squatter’s Rights for me; 3 for Squatter’s Rights, 3 for Breakthrough and 2 for Murder Protegé for Greg).
Greg is a tough match-up and I need to be at my very best to beat him, which was plainly not how I played this game. Still, I don’t think I made any catastrophic errors; a few instances of poor placement at the end of turn 1 and a couple of bad choices of activation order in turn 3 in particular. Greg got a bit unlucky in a couple of key points but I didn’t take advantage and in the end this was a pretty routine win for him. In many ways this was like playing against a better version of myself – Greg is particularly adept at killing off unactivated pieces for example to get a pseudo-activation advantage. The difference is that Greg is also great at denying retaliation which is an area that I need to work on a lot. Indeed after this game, I did get a few ideas about a different way to play Sonnia which I am looking forward to trying out to see it works out.
Game 3: Guild (me) vs Arcanists (Ant)
Strategy: Collect The Bounty
Pool: Line in the Sand, Protect Territory, Breakthrough, Take Prisoner, Spring The Trap
Guild: Protect Territory (announced), Breakthrough (announced)
Arcanists: Protect Territory (announced), Breakthrough (announced)
Guild: Sonnia Criid (Reincarnation, Disrupt Magic), Papa Loco, 2 Hunters, 2 Witchling Stalkers, Brutal Effigy, Death Marshal, Austringer
Arcanists: Rasputina (Arcane Reservoir, December’s Pawn, Shattered Heart), Snow Storm (Imbued Energies, Warding Runes), Blessed of December (Imbued Energies), Myranda (Imbued Energies), Essence of Power, Ice Gamin
So after losing to the number 1 ranked player in my country, I got the ‘soft’ final round of playing against the reigning Masters champion. I went for Sonnia on the grounds that Disrupt Magic can be quite brutal against some Arcanists build, and the rest of the crew was mainly minions with the idea of giving up as few points for Collect the Bounty as possible. Protect Territory is a bit of pain in Flank deployment but I still preferred it over the other options, and anyway figured that I was heading over to that side of the board either way.
Turn 1: Papa Loco does his usual thing and is put in a Pine Box. The Blessed heads one way out of the little frozen fortress and Myranda goes the other way. This is really good play from Ant as it puts a really high range attacker with leap on either side of me to box in Sonnia’s options. Rasputina softens up a Hunter and Stalker and Sonnia kills off the wounded Stalker to get another one a little further up.
Turn 2: The Hunter on the left attacks Snow Storm, then Rasputina channels snowballs through the Blessed to kill off the Hunter (which you can clearly see I’ve managed to put in no cover whatsoever) and puts armour on Snow Storm. It then smites the other Hunter and Witchling that I’ve stupidly blundered into melee with it. Myranda turns into a Cerberus which the Austringer plinks away at. Sonnia splashes some damage onto the Effigy and Rasputina via the Effigy, which of course dies and drops a scheme marker. The Blessed Leaps and attacks Sonnia; the Cerberus does the same to close down the Austringer. Ant scores on the Strategy.
Turn 3: I use a stone to beat a four on the initiative flip, and manage to replace my 2 with a 1. The Blessed doesn’t need to be asked twice and kills Sonnia. The Death Marshal moves up and unleashes Papa Loco, who blows up himself, the Death Marshal, another nearby Stalker and the Ice Gamin, not to mention some nice damage on Snow Storm and Rasputina. Sadly, that is pretty much it for my offensive capability. The Cerberus easily kills the Austringer and we call it there as Ant will have no trouble polishing off the remains of my crew and picking up all my scheme markers. Guild lose 10 – 0 (nothing for me and full score for Ant).
That could be the worst I’ve played in Malifaux second edition. Beating a player as good as Ant would have been a huge ask anyway, but I didn’t really do anything right in this game. Even basic stuff like using cover was entirely beyond me. Oh well, Ant was a gentleman and I still enjoyed the game despite my poor playing of it.
After all that, I think I came in 14th or so of 22 players (in retrospect that seems a bit generous considering my scores so maybe I noted it down wrong) and had a really enjoyable time. I really wish I could play against the likes of Ant and Greg more often; I learn more in general from a loss than a win and it hopefully did me good. Nate always puts on a good tournament and this was no exception. Thanks again to him and rest of the Worhamma folks for running the show and to Graham, Greg and Ant for three fun games.