Gareth, Jonny, Joe, V and I traveled up north to Aberdeen to attend probably the northernmost Malifaux event venue in the UK: ABZ Games. The scene in Aberdeen is still growing but numbers were bolstered by travelers from various locations so there was a good mix of players attending. December’s End was a fixed master event which suited me fine as I’ve only used Collodi so far in Neverborn; probably Lilith will get a try next. In the end there was a late cancellation so the TO, Martin, got to play and I was drawn against him in round one.
Game 1: Neverborn (me) vs Guild (Martin Cairns)
Strategy: Interference, standard deployment
Pool: Claim Jump, Frame For Murder, Dig Their Graves, Hunting Party, Search The Ruins
Neverborn: Claim Jump, Frame for Murder (Marionette with mirror)
Guild: Claim Jump, Frame for Murder (Guild Pathfinder)
Neverborn: Collodi (Strum The Threads, Bag of Props), Arcane Effigy, Brutal Effigy, 2 Marionettes, Beckoner, 2 Illuminated, Lazarus (One Thousand Faces)
Guild: Perdita Ortega (Trick Shooting, Aura Ancestral), Phiona Gage (Debt to the Guild), Francisco Ortega (Wade In, Hermanos De Armas), Austringer, Witchling Stalker, Guild Rifleman, Field Reporter, Guild Pathfinder
My preference so far has been to use the Fated upgrade for Collodi but that favours a ‘ball of death’ approach which isn’t really compatible with Interference. So I tried out the Bag of Props limited upgrade with the idea that the two Effigies could follow Collodi around and generate Focus or Defensive as needed for it. The Marionettes were initially included to simply sit in a corner and count for the strategy but I realised that I could get some work out of them for Claim Jump too. Since they had to be forward, I took a gamble on Frame for Murder on the left Marionette too. The Beckoner and pair of Illuminated are a solid team that can handle most cases unless they are really out-matched so my plan was to use them on one side and Collodi, the Effigies and Lazarus on the other.
Turn 1: The Pathfinder summons a Clockwork Trap and double walks suspiciously forward. I’m going to have to deal with him eventually, so the Beckoner Lures the woodsman forward and applies Brilliance. The Illuminated make rather heavy work of killing the Pathfinder but eventually he goes down and scores 2VP for Frame For Murder to Martin. Meanwhile, Collodi receives power-ups from the Effigies who also hit it to trigger Run Away Home and start its advance up the table. Most of Martins crew are hiding behind the forest in the centre but for some reason Phiona edges into it so that my crew can see her. Perdita gets El Mayor and Relocates to Francisco to shoot Collodi so it pushes out of range. That massive firing lane down the right side of the board might be a bit of a problem for me. Collodi applies a load of damage and conditions to Phiona and Lazarus helpfully makes it do some more; in the end Phiona has a single wound remaining. Lazarus swaps One Thousand Faces for Mimic’s Blessing.
Turn 2: The Witchling Stalker and my Marionette on the left drop scheme markers; my Marionette also moves to block the Guild marker from scoring Claim Jump. Phiona uses her single AP to move into the middle of the board and the Austringer delivers orders to get another scheme marker. The Rifleman shoots the Marionette on the left, leaving it on Hard To Kill and the Beckoner polishes off Phiona. After the Rifleman’s failure, Francisco takes care of the Marionette which scores me 3VP for my Frame For Murder. I had to cheat high on one attack to make sure that the Rifleman didn’t get the job done alone. On the right, my other Marionette drops a marker and moves across the centreline. One Illuminated shoots the Stalker and the other moves up to take the place of the Marionette; Perdita pumps some bullets into him. The Reporter moves up and drops another scheme marker so Collodi creeps across the board to make her pick it up and, later, die to Burning. It kills the Stalker too. I score for Claim Jump and Interference.
Turn 3: The Guild win initiative and Perdita has a clear shot at Collodi. Even after using Run Away home to get out of the line of fire after the first shot, the end result is a lot of lead coming from Perdita and a lot of splintered wood on my side of the table. The Illuminated charges Francisco to keep him busy and receives a Flurry in return. Lazarus Focuses to fire a grenade at the Austringer, who throws birds at the Marionette before my totem drops another scheme marker. The Rifleman moves forward, being careful to stay out of Lazarus’s range but the Beckoner Lures him forward anyway. The other Illuminated tries to hide from Perdita, then my Effigies either drop scheme markers or get in the way of Martin’s Claim Jump as needed. I score for the strategy and Claim Jump again.
Turn 4: Francisco finishes the Illuminated off and companions to Perdita who makes short work of my Brutal Effigy. The Marionette drops a final scheme marker before being killed by the Austringer. Lazarus blows up the Rifleman; I might have been better going for the Austringer, but preferred the activation control of killing the Rifleman before it got to do anything this turn. The Illuminated moves up to engage Francisco and Perdita and the rest of my crew move to control quarters and put down scheme markers where needed. I score the last Claim Jump point and another for Interference.
Turn 5: The Illuminated fruitlessly pokes Francisco before being killed in return. The Austringer fails to deal with the Arcane Effigy which quickly hides from Perdita. The Guild master rushes over to try to drop the Beckoner but can’t go far enough to get the needed number of attacks. The Beckoner and Lazarus take some speculative shots at Perdita but can’t kill her either. Martin scores for Claim Jump and neither of us can get anything for Interference. Neverborn win 9 – 3 (3 for Interference, 3 for Claim Jump and 3 for Frame For Murder for me; 1 for Claim Jump and 2 for Frame For Murder for Martin).
That was a very fun game; I’m always really pleased to play with people I’ve never faced previously and Martin was a lovely opponent. I am still getting to grips with how to use Bag Of Props Collodi and I’m not sure I learned much about it here except that I need to be much more careful with positioning and to remember to actually use the Focus / Defensive when I’ve built it up. Indeed, I feel like the exact same crew but with Fated instead of Bag Of Props would probably have been more useful. Overall I was in control for most of the game, partly because the early demise of the Pathfinder and more particularly Phiona for no real loss on my side built up a big enough attrition advantage that even when Martin did get on with killing my crew I already had scored most of the points needed. Full credit to Martin for doing a great job leveraging Perdita’s ranged power to good effect to bring the crew counts back to level. In retrospect I’m not sure why he didn’t pick Hunting Party as he had plenty of Henchmen to score it. The table could probably have benefited from a bit more scatter terrain on my right.
Game 2: Neverborn (me) vs Guild (Callum Palin)
Strategy: Headhunter, corner deployment
Pool: Claim Jump, Frame For Murder, Accusation, Show of Force, Hidden Trap
Neverborn: Claim Jump, Frame for Murder (Stitched Together)
Guild: Show of Force, Frame for Murder (Nino Ortega)
Neverborn: Collodi (Strum The Threads, Fated, Threads Of Fate), Arcane Effigy, Brutal Effigy, Lazarus, Barbaros, 2 Bunraku, Stitched Together
Guild: Lucas McCabe (Glowing Sabre, Badge of Speed, Promises), Luna, Brutal Emissary (Conflux of Exploration, Elixir of Life), Executioner (Ready To Work), Nino Ortega (Hair Trigger), Austringer, Mounted Guard
This strategy felt much more comfortable for having a ball of fighty puppets and just keeping them topped up on wounds with Collodi while using my master for a spot of control. I also took Barbaros with some kind of plan for just sitting him behind the line of engagement with Challenge up to draw cards. I’ve enjoyed Bunraku for their high speed and ability to pull pieces to where I want them to be, though after several games I think I have yet to manage to get even a single trigger out of them. Stitched Together are hilarious with Fear Not The Sword (from the Brutal Effigy) as they can go Fast thanks to Strum The Threads then heal the wounds caused by hitting stuff with Gamble Your Life; because of the damage they take if the attack is missed I am generally inclined to cheat to win. Even if they lose, there is a change to pick up reactivate then heal with subsequent attacks. Having written all that, I chose to put Frame For Murder on the Stitched Together. My other scheme was Claim Jump as I didn’t fancy Show of Force at all (indeed, I didn’t even pick for it, which may have been a mistake) and the other schemes involved a lot of messing about with the other crew when I wanted to focus on just killing them and picking up their heads. As you can see, my deployment is terrible: Barbaros is perfectly placed to spray Black Blood over half of my crew.
Turn 1: Nino Rapid Fires into Barbaros. I cheat high to dodge one shot and stone away the damage from another but there is still a bit of Black Blood damage splashed around; overall a needless waste of my resources which was completely avoidable. The Brutal Emissary passes the Elixir of Life to the Mounted Guard so that they can all get past the mess of forests in the Guild deployment zone. The Effigies power up Collodi and poke it to move my master forward. A Bunraku takes Fast then moves and charges Nino to put a couple of points of damage on him. McCabe reactivates the Mounted Guard, passes the Sabre and Badge to the Executioner and the Elixir to Nino; the latter is pushed back out of the Bunraku’s grasp. I can see that the Executioner is being primed to get flung into the centre of my crew (or worse, to kill Collodi) with the Mounted Guard, so Barbaros, the Stitched Together and a Bunraku move to make the needed movement tricky. Eventually Callum gets cold feet and the Executioner ends up just passing his activation without coming for me. Lazarus Assimilates My Will from Collodi to make the Bunraku pull Nino back with Snatch. Collodi then puts Nino down to a single wound remaining with Burning on him (Callum was out of cards to prevent it) as I think that Frame For Murder is either on him or the Executioner; helpfully the Ortega burns to death.
Turn 2: The Brutal Effigy gives Collodi Fear Not The Sword (who shares it out) and drops a scheme marker, then chain activates the Stitched Together. The Stitched Together does some nasty damage to the Mounted Guard. McCabe misses a shot at Barbaros, heals the Mounted Guard and passes the Elixir to the Austringer and the Sabre to the Mounted Guard. My Arcane Effigy picks up Nino’s head then chains to Barbaros who charges the Mounted Guard for some fairly trivial damage; my main goal was to gum up the Guild crew with Challenge. Stupidly I forgot about the Brutal Emissary’s abilities and Barbaros is promptly buried. Oh well. The Mounted Guard charges into the Brutal Effigy for little effect, pulling the Executioner with him. Collodi slows the big chap and generally makes sure that neither the Guard nor the Executioner will do much of any consequence. The Bunraku on the right goes Fast and charges Luna, killing her with two lucky moderate damage flips. In the end, nothing at all dies in the scrum in the centre even though I get all trigger-happy with Lazarus and have him lob grenades into the middle of the mess. Callum does manage to deny my Claim Jump but I score for the strategy.
Turn 3: The Arcane Effigy charges and kills the Executioner (who was looking rather poorly after the mauling he got last turn); the Brutal Effigy chain activates to pick up the head. The Brutal Emissary fails to hurt a Bunraku and the Stitched Together goes Fast and does some nasty damage to McCabe but is also knocked to a single wound itself. Callum can’t let me have another go with the Stitched Together so kills it with the Mounted Guard to score my 2VP for Frame For Murder; of course I was hoping that he would use McCabe to do the job. McCabe does throw himself into the mess in the middle of the board. The Bunraku in the centre finishes off the Mounted Guard and Lazarus Auto-Fires into the big mess but only succeeds in hitting Barbaros twice. Collodi kills the Emissary; I consider finishing off McCabe too (since he has only one wound remaining) but decide not to let Callum have another activation this turn. Barbaros Nimbles round McCabe and stabs the Austringer to push it away from the centre of the board and therefore avoid it scoring for Show Of Force, but only after it has picked up a head. We both score Headhunter and I score for Claim Jump.
Turn 4: Barbaros pokes at McCabe and throws up his Challenge. McCabe make a bit of a meal of attacking the Bunraku thanks to Callum’s terrible cards (he Black Jokered one of the Challenge checks and needed to cheat another despite being on positive flips from Promises). Collodi kills the Austringer, and Callum has seen enough to end it. Neverborn win 9 – 1 (4 for Headhunter, 2 for Frame For Murder and 3 for Claim Jump for me; 1 for Headhunter for Callum).
As always, Callum was a classy opponent and made me work probably harder than the scoreline suggests. This game really hinged on two moments, both in the first turn. The first was when Callum found that Nino would die to burning and therefore not score any points for Frame For Murder, which really knocked the wind out of his sails. The second was when, after spending almost the whole of his first turn AP turbo charging the Executioner to come and kill Collodi, he realised that the positioning of the rest of my crew would not make it possible and he aborted the whole process. One of the interesting parts about Malifaux is AP efficiency and the upshot of this was that Callum had wasted almost his entire crew to set something up. From my side, I was obviously quite pleased with the way things worked out. My biggest errors were both with Barbaros, a piece that I love but can’t quite seem to ever get right. As mentioned above, the deployment of Barbaros was absolutely dreadful and could easily have ended up costing me much more dearly in turn 1. Then in turn 2, I really gave him away to the Brutal Emissary; slightly more clever positioning could have probably have at least forced Callum to waste an AP moving into position.
Game 3: Neverborn (me) vs Outcasts (Ali Fergusson)
Strategy: Extraction, flank deployment
Pool: Claim Jump, Eliminate the Leadership, Leave Your Mark, Recover Evidence, Tail ‘Em
Neverborn: Leave Your Mark, Tail ‘Em
Outcasts: Leave Your Mark, Recover Evidence
Neverborn: Collodi (Strum The Threads, Fated), Arcane Effigy, Brutal Effigy, Barbaros (Rapid Growth), 3 Terror Tots, Lazarus, Bunraku
Outcasts: Tara (Knowledge of Eternity, Obliteration Symbiote, Survivalist), Nothing Beast (Void Shield, Tally Sheet), Freikorps Librarian (Oathkeeper), Johana (Scramble), Big Jake, Void Wretch, Ronin, Malifaux Child
Finally a game in which killing all my stuff wasn’t a primary goal for the other crew. I wanted to try a Nephilim-heavy crew for a change as I feel like Tots should be good for gumming things up and also have the speed to get markers down for Leave Your Mark. Since I had the Tots I decided to put Rapid Growth on Barbaros; the idea was not particularly to focus on getting Young / Mature Nephilim but simply to have the possibility to do so if the opportunity came up. For one soulstone it felt worth it. The Bunraku was a late addition to the crew as I felt that a bit more speed might be useful. I chose Leave Your Mark partly as a result of having the Tots and partly just to be a change from Claim Jump; the two schemes are remarkably similar, at least superficially. Tail ‘Em was chosen despite Ali having only two targets because I had so many minions that I was sure I’d be able to keep some scoring going.
Turn 1: Tara Reactivates the makes the Nothing Beast Fast and buries it. My Effigies power up and push Collodi. The Child makes Johana fast and our crews generally converge but respect each other’s threat ranges. I’m really concerned about the Nothing Beast getting unburied, focusing and tearing up Collodi so some of my moves are to check the movement options on that side of the board. Lazarus Assimilates My Will from Collodi, making it take a Pull The Strings attack against him with the My Bidding trigger so I can move Lazarus into firing range of the Librarian who is out of normal range but also not in cover. The actual firing is not hugely effective, missing twice, but I do get a straight flip on one so cheat in severe damage to land some wounds on Tara. The Bunraku goes Fast and charges Tara, mainly to try to pin her in place; Johana steams over and smashes the little puppet into matchwood. This has the effect of dropping the Nothing Beast out. Collodi puts considerable effort into hampering the Nothing Beast but only manages to draw some soulstones and the Void Shield out of the big monster. Slightly to my surprise, the Nothing Beast charges Lazarus for minimal effect; it would have been tricky but not impossible to get it onto Collodi I think. Tara herself moves round the forest.
Turn 2: The Nothing Beast focuses then handily flips the Black Joker on an attack on the Lazarus. It does splat the nearby Tot in a single hit though. The Brutal Effigy shoots the Librarian, killing her, then chain activates to Barbaros who moves up to tickle Big Jake and put up Challenge. Tara fails to bury Lazarus. The Terror Tot furthest up the table Sprints then drops a scheme marker. Johana hurts Barbaros and the Arcane Effigy puts Tail ‘Em on the Nothing Beast. Collodi spectacularly fails to do anything substantial to Tara and the Ronin moves to deny my Leave Your Mark from the Tot. We both score for Extraction and I score Tail ‘Em.
Turn 3: Ali reveals Recover Evidence so I put the markers on my most inaccessible pieces. Johana flurries Barbaros so I cheat the Red Joker on the first swing to push her away with the Knock Aside trigger. Collodi kills the Nothing Beast and Barbaros pokes Big Jake again. Tara runs away to the far end of the board so I can’t possibly catch her for Tail ‘Em. The Ronin polishes off my Tot before it can run away and drop more markers. Lazarus focuses and fires at Barbaros, then cheats in moderate damage to kill Big Jake. Finally, the Void Wretch drops a scheme marker. Ali scores for Leave Your Mark and I score for Extraction.
Turn 4: Collodi sidles across the board and kills the Void Wretch. Tara takes Reactivate and starts running back to where she was last turn. Lazarus moves to engage her simply on the basis that Ali must have a plan for her to do something and I might as well try to stop it from happening. Johana charges Barbaros and gets another go of the Knock Aside trigger; the Arcane Effigy kills her. The Ronin removes my scheme marker and does Seppuku. Barbaros moves up to drop another scheme marker and the Child disentangles itself from the Tot and stands there to deny me Leave Your Mark again. This is where my attrition has come to work for me as I can just have the Tot drop a marker instead. Tara fails to disengage from Lazarus. I score for the strategy and Leave Your Mark.
Turn 5: We’re pretty much out of time and last activation could be called at any minute. Big Jake reappears next to Tara and recovers some Evidence. The Terror Tot puts down a scheme marker. Tara finally gets away from Lazarus and runs off to drop a scheme marker so the robot follows to deny Leave Your Mark. The Brutal Effigy applies the condition for Tail ‘Em to Tara and the game ends. We both score for the strategy; I score for Leave Your Mark and Tail ‘Em. Neverborn win 8 – 4 (4 for Extraction, 2 for Leave Your Mark and 2 for Tail ‘Em for me; 2 for Extraction, 1 for Leave Your Mark and 1 for Recover Evidence for Ali).
That was a terrific game; Ali is really improving at Malifaux as he plays it more often. I was impressed particularly with the good way that Ali used his resources to keep the Nothing Beast alive and well in turn 1 though I as mentioned I was quite surprised to see Lazarus as the choice of charge target as I would say that he must be one the least vulnerable miniatures to the Nothing Beast in the entire game. Of course I was trying to make it unappealing to get the Nothing Beast into Collodi but I think it would probably have been possible and I would have been facing a very uphill struggle if Collodi had been killed early in the game. Rapid Growth on Barbaros didn’t end up doing much but I think it was worth the cost to have the possibility to get a Young Nephilim; better flips could have seen me get one from the Malifaux Child in turn 3 but it was not to be. Barbaros in general ended up just doing what he does best: standing in the middle of a crew a forcing them to deal with him. Based on previous games I find he does usually die (he especially hates it when anyone ignores armour) but the idea is to make the other crew expend a lot of AP to do it. One interesting thing that I discussed with Gareth in the pub later was Ali’s choice to move Tara right back to deny me a point for Tail ‘Em. I feel that the opportunity cost of not having any contribution from your master is generally not worth it to save a VP, though I can see that there are some cases where it would be correct move. In this case it allowed me to get a big leg up on attrition by dealing with the Nothing Beast, Johana and Big Jake in close succession.
So once the scores are all counted, I am pleased to see that I get first place. Even more pleasing was the positions of my not-actually-a-team team mates as Joe got second, Gareth third, V sixth and Jonny eighth, so very well done to all of them. I had a great time and the trip to Aberdeen always results in a fun event. Thanks to Martin, Callum and Ali for three fun games of Malifaux, and to Martin again for running everything.