Malifaux tournament report: Middlefaux (50SS); 19Sep2015

Joe, Furycat and I drove down to Middlesbrough for the Middlefaux Malifaux tournament. We were part of a group of 8 travellers from the Scotland gaming scene which is probably the most people we’ve ever managed to drag to an event outside Scotland itself. After the usual nonsense to get us started (i.e. Joe picking me up half an hour later than planned) we arrived in time to chat with old and new friends and look around the rather nice venue.

Game 1: Guild (me) vs Ten Thunders (Stephen)

Strategy: Head Hunter

Schemes
Pool: Line in the Sand, Power Ritual, Assassinate, Plant Evidence, Protect Territory
Guild: Plant Evidence (announced), Power Ritual (announced)
Ten Thunders: Power Ritual (announced), Assassinate

Crews
Guild: Sonnia Criid (Reincarnation), Papa Loco (Hermanos De Armas), 2 Hunters, Brutal Effigy, Death Marshal, Austringer, Watcher, 2 Guild Hounds
Ten Thunders: Lucas McCabe (Glowing Sabre, Badge of Speed), Toshiro the Daimyo (Blot The Sky, Command The Graves), 2 Thunder Archers, 2 Punk Zombies, Pathfinder

I had been intending to try Sonnia out making more use of Flame Walls to protect myself from retaliation but with this board I figured that just getting line of sight to anything would be enough of a problem and shelved the idea. The Austringer is great for Head Hunter because of the push and interact from Deliver Orders. I had some kind of vague plan about sending the Hounds for one corner and the Watcher to the other and hoping that one of them would make it to score for Power Ritual. Plant Evidence was picked over Protect Territory on the grounds that in corner deployment I’d have to move about as far to put down the markers, but Plant Evidence didn’t require my pieces to stay there until the end of the game.

001

Turn 1: McCabe reactivates one Punk Zombie and passes the Sabre to the other then races forward, presumably to get into the Thick Of It. My Hunter plinks the Pathfinder for Slow to stop it from getting any funny ideas about shooting my clumped up pieces early on. Papa Loco tells Sonnia to Hold This and pulls her through one of the only open channels on the board; a Death Marshal follows him and tuck him into his Pine Box. Sonnia then saunters into the edge of the wood so that she can see McCabe and knocks him off his horse with a timely cheated Red Joker. The rest of the crews slog into engagement range.

Turn 2: Sonnia finishes off McCabe, the Pathfinder and the nearby Punk Zombie. She summons a Stalker from the latter simply because I find it amusing to use Reincarnation even when it’s not especially useful. Toshiro War Fans one of the Archer then summons an Ashigaru from the remains of the Pathfinder. The Hunter nearby kills it off. The Fast Archer knocks the Effigy down to Hard To Kill and hands out Slow. The Watcher and Hounds, having made it to their corners, start dropping scheme markers and finally the Austringer makes the Effigy pick up the head of the Pathfinder. I score Head Hunter.

002

Turn 3: The lead Archer fails to drop the Death Marshal then the Effigy collects the Ashigaru’s head (not sure what it was using since I already picked up the one from the Pathfinder earlier). Sonnia immolates both Archers and hurts Toshiro with the blast damage. The Hunter and Stalker gang up to finish the second Punk Zombie. Toshiro summons another Ashigaru and my Hounds kill it again. I score for the Strategy.

003

Turn 4: Toshiro summons an Ashigaru, then Sonnia turns both of them into expanding clouds of ash. Guild win 10 – 1 (full score for me; 1 point for Power Ritual for Stephen).

That was a fun game and Stephen was a very nice person to play with, but by his own admission is quite new to the game. I hope I explained what I was doing clearly and gave some advice to help him out. From my side, everything went swimmingly so there isn’t much more to say.

Game 2: Guild (me) vs Resurrectionists (Martin)

Strategy: Turf War

Schemes
Pool: Line in the Sand, Entourage, Spring The Trap, Breakthrough, Assassinate
Guild: Line in the Sand (announced), Breakthrough (announced)
Resurrectionists: Breakthrough (announced), Assassinate

Crews
Guild: Sonnia Criid (Reincarnation, Counterspell Aura, Cherufe’s Imprint), Malifaux Child, Papa Loco (Hermanos De Armas), 2 Hunters, Brutal Effigy, Death Marshal, Austringer, Watcher
Resurrectionists: Molly Squidpiddge (Forgotten Life, Tear of the Gorgon), Madame Sybelle (Not Too Banged Up), Killjoy (Decaying Aura), Yin the Penangalan, 2 Rotten Belles

This was my time to try out the more defensive oriented Sonnia I’ve been thinking of. I’m normally very agressive with Sonnia and it often ends up with me losing her to a counterpunch because I spend all my resources attacking and not defending. The idea was to use the Flame Walls for stopping retaliation by putting them close to Sonnia to block line of sight rather than using them primarily for choke points. I took Counterspell Aura to keep Belles at bay.

004

Turn 1: Sybelle moves forward and uses Call Belle to bring Molly to the very middle of the board. I think my suspicions were aroused here, but I didn’t do anything, partly because I don’t think that I could actually affect what I was expecting to happen (i.e. Killjoy to appear and maul me) and mainly because I forgot that Molly has Accomplice. Molly did indeed walk twice, summon a Necrotic Machine which died immediately to bring out Killjoy then use Whispers of Future Flesh to move the big lunk even further forward. Killjoy then chain activates and eats Sonnia (scoring Assassinate in the process) as not only is she pitifully easy to kill in melee but I couldn’t even prevent damage thanks to the Decaying Aura. Well, so much for that plan! A Belle Lures Molly back to relative safety. The other Belle Lures my Watcher up to Sybelle and the Austringer Delivers Orders to get it out of melee with her and drop a scheme marker. The Death Marshal puts Killjoy in his Pine Box.

005

Turn 2: The Hunter on the left drops a scheme marker and Slows Yin. Molly summons a pair of Punk Zombies in the general area of Papa Loco, the puts the old man on negative flips. So he does the only thing his can do, which is blow up. All this achieves is knocking the Punk Zombies back to Hard To Kill; the Austringer kills both after one of them cuts the Death Marshal a little. Sybelle hurts my Watcher while my pieces run around trying to drop scheme markers all over the place. Meanwhile, the Belles Lure my Effigy back and forth but fail to do much to it. We both score for Turf War.

006

Turn 3: Molly gives the Death Marshal the Terrible Truth, then kills him anyway. Both Belles charge the Effigy, who admittedly has led something of a charmed life up to this point, and eventually kill it off. The Austringer uses Distract a couple of times (I must remember to make more use of that trigger) to drain Martin’s hand, then improbably survives a charge from Killjoy. Both my Hunters drop scheme markers but Yin removes one on the left. Martin score for the strategy.

007

Turn 4: Molly summons a Student of Steel near the Hunter and makes it mauls my robot close to scrap. One of the Belles finishes off the Austringer and my Watcher somehow escapes Sybelle’s attentions to continue showering scheme markers across the back of the board. My Child, who had rather rashly gone into melee with a Belle earlier on (I’m not sure what I had been thinking there, other than that it wouldn’t be able to help me much) fails to disengage; I had been hoping to drag Killjoy away from my deployment zone to stop him from dropping markers for Breakthrough (which he duly does). The Hunter knocks off the Student and drops another scheme marker; the Hunter on the left continues its ridiculous dance with Yin. Martin scores for Turf War.

008

Turn 5: The Hunter attacks Molly in the hope of drawing some cards from her to slow the summoning. The Watcher, which has somehow survived up to this point, flies back toward the centre. Sybelle beats up the left Hunter but still fails to kill it; the Belle Lures it away so that Yin can remove the last of my scheme markers over there. At this point I have 2 scheme markers left for Line in the Sand. Molly makes a Belle Lure the Hunter engaging her away so that she can walk over and remove one of them. Killjoy, deprived of any charge targets, walks around and drops another marker for Breakthrough. We both score for the strategy. Guild lose 5 – 10 (2 for Turf War and 3 for Breakthrough for me; full score for Martin).

009

Wow, that was quite a start to a game. I often lose Sonnia but I don’t think that I’ve ever lost her so early before – that was activation 3 of turn 1. It is such a clever move by Martin and he counterpicked me really well. Oh well, now that I’ve seen the trick I’ll be able to start thinking about how to avoid it happening again. Losing Sonnia, who I’ll admit was my main plan for firepower here, really put me on the back foot and made the game really interesting as I scrambled to pick up whatever points I could manage. Martin is always a lovely opponent and this game was just as enjoyable as previous times I’ve played him. We broke for lunch – a picnic on a tiny piece of grass in an industrial estate – then it was back to the gaming.

Game 3: Guild (me) vs Arcanists (Graham)

Strategy: Collect The Bounty

Schemes
Pool: Line in the Sand, Deliver a Message, Vendetta, Protect Territory, Bodyguard
Guild: Protect Territory (announced), Vendetta (Nino on the Acolyte who ended up being on my left)
Arcanists: Protect Territory (announced), Bodyguard (Mechanical Rider)

Crews
Guild: Perdita Ortega (Trick Shooting, Aura Ancestral), Austringer, 2 Hunters, Nino Ortega (Hair Trigger), Francisco Ortega (Wade In), Guardian
Arcanists: Rasputina (Cold Nights, December’s Pawn, Shattered Heart), 2 December Acolytes, 2 Ice Gamin, Malifaux Raptor, Mechanical Rider, Wendigo

I considered Sonnia here as I like her against Arcanists, but I thought that there was too much hard cover around to make her a great option. She’s also better at thinning out minions rather than dealing dealing with a smaller number of hard targets. More importantly, I decided that I wanted to try something that wasn’t Sonnia after the previous game’s demonstration of her vulnerability. Nino was mainly to dissuade Graham from taking Deliver a Message but I like him for opening up on Vendetta too if the right options are there.

010

Turn 1: Nino Rapid Fires into one of the Acolytes to get me started on Vendetta. It’s just as well he does, as Rasputina then kills him with a focussed shot followed up by a really good attack on a negative flip. The Austringer plinks at an Ice Gamin. Perdita sees her chance to drop the Mechanical Rider early and takes it. She Relocates to Francisco then walks over, ignores cover with Trick Shooting and twice gets the Witched Bullet trigger on shots to allow me to cheat in severe damage. I had debated letting it go so I could count the bounty for turn 2, but I decided on balance that it was worth losing out potentially on a point for the strategy to get the Rider out of my hair so early while it was still vulnerable.

011

Turn 2: Rasputina shoots Francisco for surprsingly little effect. On the right, my Hunter smites the Acolyte with a Red Joker damage flip, then on the left the surviving Acolyte does exactly the same to my other Hunter. The Raptor, which has landed next to the Austringer, rakes away at him for irony, then the Austringer knocks a couple more wounds off a Gamin. Francisco charges and kills the Raptor and Perdita polishes off the nearer Gamin. I score for Collect The Bounty.

012

Turn 3: Rasputine fires away at the Guardian but between hard cover and armour she might as well throw snowballs. The Austringer finishes the Acolyte (scoring me the second point for Vendetta in the process) and Francisco kills the second Ice Gamin. The Hunter finally gets a bead on the Wendigo and slows it. Perdita starts shooting at Rasputina. I score for the Strategy.

013

Turn 4: Rasputina continues to throw ice ineffectually at the Guardian. The Hunter kills the Wendigo and Perdita finishes things by gunning down Rasputina. Guild win 9 – 0 (4 for Collect The Bounty, 2 for Vendetta and 3 for Protect Territory for me; nothing for Graham).

That was a very funny board for shooting; there was line of sight all over the place but almost all models were in hard cover all the time. Of course, that was why I took pieces that could ignore cover. It was a funny comparison to the last game a played against Graham where there was very little cover at all. I think that Graham might have been expecting Sonnia; certainly I think that the Raptor was for her. Anyway, Graham was a gent throughout and it is a pleasure to be drawn with him.

Game 4: Guild (me) vs Arcanists (James)

Strategy: Reckoning

Schemes
Pool: Line in the Sand, Make Them Suffer, Murder Protegé, Bodyguard, Breakthrough
Guild: Make Them Suffer, Bodyguard (Sidir Alchibal)
Arcanists: Breakthrough (announced), Murder Protegé(announced; The Judge)

Crews
Guild: Lady Justice (Last Stand), Francisco Ortega (Wade In), The Judge (Lead-Lined Coated), Sidir Alchibal (Promises), Austringer, Guardian, Brutal Effigy
Arcanists: Rasputina (Cold Nights, Arcane Reservoir), Snow Storm (Imbued Energies), 2 Ice Gamin, Wendigo, Sabretooth Cerberus, Myranda (Imbued Energies)

I’ve never actually played a single game with Lady Justice before, but I have been looking for an opportunity to play some variation on this list. The idea is to use the Brute Squad and keep them together to benefit from Promises; The Judge can bring the otherwise rather slow Sidir along for the ride with Stand For Judgement. Playing against a strong opponent like James with a master I’ve never used before isn’t really a brilliant idea from the perspective of winning games, but when you’re in the mood for something it’s better to go with it for hobbies. We ended up declaring all the hedges as height 1 dense to make it practical to actually traverse the board. Hence a lot of these photos have my miniatures lying down because we couldn’t get them to stand nicely in the hedge.

014

Turn 1: Snow Storm uses Ice Tornado to shuffle the Frozen Heart stuff together; most of the rest of the turn is just James positioning to kill all my guys and not let me into his while I try to close the gaps without letting Rasputina kill my whole crew. Rasputina does eventually get a couple of shots at Lady Justice (who rather pointlessly had used Covering Fire instead of just getting into cover) and then raises some Ice Pillars to keep herself safe.

015

Turn 2: I win initiative and decide to throw Lady Justice at Myranda. She’s about the worst target in the crew but it’s better than standing in the middle of a field being shot by Rasputina. Sadly, I don’t get the dose of luck that would have been needed to drop Myranda, so she steps back a little and becomes a Blessed of December. The Guardian applies Protect to Lady Justice and heals her a little. Francisco takes a pot shot at Rasputina to keep her busy. Rasputina demonstrates that she doesn’t care by Paralysing Lady Justice, killing the Effigy and hurting The Judge. Sidir uses Empty The Magazine but only ends up hurting and putting Slow on the Wendigo; still, that could be enough to save Lady Justice from being eaten. The Judge Focusses and kills the little blighter (scoring for Make Them Suffer in the process). The Austringer gently tickles the Cerberus and Snow Storm can’t manage more better on Lady Justice.

016

Turn 3: The Cerberus continues its advance toward my deployment zone. Francisco charges the Gamin on the left but an unfortunate Black Joker keeps it alive. Sidir opens fire on Rasputina and the other Gamin and The Judge finishes the latter for Make Them Suffer. Rasputina shoots The Judge down to a single wound; the Guardian Protects him but I can’t get the trigger to heal him. My robot also pokes at Snow Storm a little. The Blessed finishes off The Judge for Murder Protegé and finally the Austringer knocks the Gamin down to a single wound.

017

Turn 4: Francisco kills the Gamin to score me the rest of the points for Make Them Suffer. Rasputina Paralyses Lady Justice again, then the Austringer and Sidir gang up to kill off Snow Storm. The Guardian finishes Rasputina and the Blessed and Cerberus drop scheme markers for Breakthrough. Sadly, we run out of time at this point so it is a draw at 6 – 6 (1 for Reckoning, 2 for Bodyguard and 3 for Make Them Suffer for me; 3 for Murder Protegé and 3 for Breakthrough for James).

018

That was a really enjoyable game; James is such a gentleman to play Malifaux with I would love to play him more often. If only we’d had time for another turn I could finally have racked up a win against James; I’ve never managed to beat him yet. Anyway, the game itself was quite an interesting experience. Lady Justice didn’t really do a great deal as she was Paralysed for 2 of the turns that actually mattered but I suppose that she did provide a good distraction for my Henchmen. The Judge in particular felt really effective despite dying in the end; in the past I think that perhaps I haven’t really used the resources on him that he wants. Overall I liked the way that the crew played and I think with a bit of practice I got get to grips with the peculiarities of positioning it requires. I’ll try to get a few more games in with Lady Justice and see where they take me.

I didn’t actually make a note of where I finished, but I think it was around 8th of the 24 players which is a result I’m very happy with. We’ll certainly be back if there is more Middlefaux. Thanks to Stephen, Martin, Graham and James for 4 fun games of Malifaux, and also to Andrew for being a great tournament organiser.

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