I took the train all alone over to Common Ground Games in Stirling for the Malfunctional Malifaux event. The regular tournaments run by 2G1P attract folks from across Scotland and go from strength to strength thanks to organiser Kai and the others from the club. After some discussion within the FB group this event was increased to four rounds as the number of players meant that it would be unlikely to generate a clear winner after three. This is good news from me; the more Malifaux the better as far as I’m concerned.
Game 1: Neverborn (me) vs Arcanists (David Kerr Smith)
Strategy: Reckoning, corner deployment
Pool: Claim Jump, Eliminate The Leadership, Leave Your Mark, Recover Evidence, Mark For Death
Neverborn: Claim Jump, Eliminate The Leadership
Arcanists: Leave Your Mark, Mark For Death
Neverborn: Pandora (The Box Opens, Fears Given Form), Barbaros, Nekima (One Thousand Faces), 2 Illuminated, Beckoner, Primordial Magic
Arcanists: Ramos (Under Pressure, Arcane Reservoir, Field Generator), Joss (Warding Runes, Bleeding Edge Tech), Soulstone Miner, Brass Arachnid, Firestarter (Imbued Energies, Imbued Protection), Arcane Effigy, Steam Arachnid
David was the first person I ever played in a Malifaux tournament game, all the way back the Blood, Steel and Stones event. Lately, after a long lay-off from Malifaux, he’s been getting back into the game and has joined our regular gaming night to get his hand back in. I took a small and somewhat tough crew to try to avoid giving up Reckoning points too easily; Pandora was picked quite arbitrarily and I could just as easily have favoured Lilith here. I was rather surprised to see that David picked Ramos for this strategy and had been expecting him to take Kaeris (another favourite) instead as I feel that Ramos’s biggest strength is his summoning; which of course is less useful in Reckoning. None of the schemes really appealed so I took Claim Jump on the basis that at least it would be in my control and eventually settled on Eliminate The Leadership thinking that, as tough as Ramos is to kill, I might somehow get to him as I waded through his crew.
Turn 1: The Steam Arachnid scuttles forward, followed by Joss who carves it neatly into two scrap counters. Ramos duly turns this into a trio of Steam Arachnids which themselves eventually form a Steam Arachnid Swarm. Pandora triple walks across the table (the indignity!) and Incites both the Arcane Effigy and Joss to begin Operation: Get In The Way. The Soulstone Miner appears behind a tree on the left side of the board.
Turn 2: Joss is forced to go first while he has the Swarm blocking his charge on Pandora so he misses a Focused shot at her. The Beckoner Lures the Firestarter in and makes him Brilliant, then the Illuminated smites him while the Arcane Effigy is obliged to activate and achieve nothing. Finally free to actually activate according to David’s wishes, Ramos summons another three Steam Arachnids. Pandora scoots into the middle of the neat cluster of Arcanists that has formed and I introduce David to the pleasure of three Inflict actions. This eventually kills the Brass Arachnid and one of the newly summoned Steam Arachnids, but more importantly mills most of the good cards out of David’s hand. Nekima kills the Fiestarter, Barbaros and the other Illuminated drop scheme markers and the rest of David’s crew flail uselessly at Pandora. I score for Reckoning and Claim Jump.
Turn 3: Barbaros puts up Challenge and charges into the Swarm for minimal effect. The Incited Effigy mucks about a bit then the Beckoner Lures the Miner toward her. Joss misses a couple of attacks on Barbaros and Pandora uses Inflict to eventually finish off the Effigy and put a few wounds on most of the crew. Ramos summons another three Arachnids and Black Jokers a shot at Barbaros. Nekima carves up the Soulstone Miner and the right Illuminated kills one Steam Arachnid while the rest of them completely fail to land a hit on Barbaros. I score again for Reckoning and Claim Jump.
Turn 4: Barbaros pushes Joss back to keep him away, then kills another of the endless Steam Arachnids. Ramos summons two more of them and puts up Arcing Screen. Pandora Inflicts a few more times as the damage starts to mount up. Steam Arachnids continue to bounce ineffectually off Barbaros, who is living a charmed life; the Swarm helpfully Black Jokers damage on him at some point too. This is the last turn, so Nekima and one Illuminated head off to deny points for Leave Your Mark. I score for the strategy and Claim Jump one more time. Neverborn win 6 – 0 (3 for Reckoning and 3 for Claim Jump for me; nothing for David).
David is a very fun person to play with, and he’s getting better with each game. I think that here he had fundamentally the wrong approach though, as summoning piles of cheap minions just let me kill them off a couple at a time for Reckoning. I don’t know Ramos well, but presumably there is a way to play him that doesn’t focus so much on the summoning; if not, another master was probably indicated. From my side, of course it was indeed a mistake to consider Eliminate The Leadership on Ramos; I probably had the tools to deal with him in Nekima, but in the end I pinned Ramos right on one board edge and all my fighting stuff was far away and busy. I’m not really sure what I would have taken as another option though.
[Edit: David has posted his thoughts about the event in general and our game in particular on his own excellent blog here].
Game 2: Neverborn (me) vs Resurrectionists (Stewart Herbert)
Strategy: Turf War, standard deployment
Pool: Claim Jump, Frame For Murder, Leave Your Mark, Undercover Entourage, A Quick Murder
Neverborn: Frame For Murder (Hungering Darkness), Leave Your Mark
Resurrectionists: Frame For Murder (Shikome), A Quick Murder
Neverborn: Jakob Lynch (Endless Hunger), Hungering Darkness, 2 Waldgeists, Spawn Mother (Hexed Among You), Bad Juju (Eternal Fiend), McTavish, Will O’ The Wisp
Resurrectionists: Dr Douglas McMourning (Moonlighting), Zombie Chihuahua, Sebastian (Transfusion, These Are Not Ours), Anna Lovelace (My Little Helper), Shikome, Flesh Construct, Nurse, 2 Canine Remains
Stewart is really stepping up his tournament appearances lately, having traveled down both for this event and Cry Havoc last week where we met in round one. Turf War felt like a a great option to use this highly entertaining Lynch crew. Having Hexed Among You means that my Waldgeists can start right where I need them, and if they (or almost anything else) gets dislodged then they get Bad Juju to deal with. The Spawn Mother would combine with the Wisp to generate Gupps to score Leave Your Mark, and McTavish is intended to play a sort of sweeper role and take out anything that gets stuck into my front line. Frame For Murder on Hungering Darkness feels like a good option in this crew since it is almost the only thing that can be killed without releasing Bad Juju. Big thanks to Michael for lending me his Lynch and Hungering Darkness as it turned out that mine are still in Gareth’s case while he’s been playing Ten Thunders.
Turn 1: The Spawn Mother lays an egg and the Wisp hatches it. Meanwhile, the Flesh Construct walks up and gets charged by the Nurse, ending on something like Poison +1000. Both Canine Remains shoot up the table, obligingly ending up with 4″ of the left Waldgeist which Germinates next to itself then kills one of them. Lynch guns down the Chihuahua and puts down a scheme marker for McTavish to eat later. Sebastian summons another Canine Remains from what was left of the first one. Hungering Darkness uses Heed My Voice to move the Flesh Construct away, then McMourning pushes it back into my face and charges Hungering Darkness.
Turn 2: Hungering Darkness smites McMourning and heals a little damage, then the doctor kills it off, giving up 3VP for Frame For Murder. The Spawn Mother charges the Shikome for depressingly little impact while the Flesh Construct and Waldgeist poke each other ineffectually over on the right. Anna and the Shikome somehow fail to kill the Gupps, then McTavish puts a couple of bullets into the Shikome. The left Waldgeist kills the other Canine Remains and Lynch puts a bit of damage into McMourning. We both score for Turf War.
Turn 3: Jakob Lynch guns down McMourning and pumps some bullets into the massive damage sponge that is the Flesh Construct. The Nurse pumps up the Flesh Construct with better melee attacks. The Spawn Mother hits the Shikome, but something in the way Stewart is Cheating Fate makes me suspect Frame For Murder so her second attack is on Sebastian. The morgue assistant hits her back and the Waldgeist luckily polishes off the Flesh Construct with a Red Joker on damage. Anna somehow again fails to kill the Gupps which run off to drop a scheme marker. McTavish kills another Canine Remains but misses attacks on the Nurse while the other Waldgeist pokes at Sebastian. We both score for the strategy and I score Leave Your Mark.
Turn 4: The Waldgeist kills the Shikome, handing 1VP for Frame For Murder to Stewart. Anna misses shots at the Waldgeist and the Spawn Mother kills Sebastian. The Nurse Paralyses Lynch with Take Your Meds. The Waldgeist kills the Nurse; the Rooted trigger turned out to be very useful here. McTavish shoots Anna and the Gupps put another scheme marker down. I score for the strategy and Leave Your Mark again.
Turn 5: McTavish focuses and kills Anna Lovelace. Neverborn win 10 – 3 (full score for me; 2 for Turf War and 1 for Frame For Murder for Stewart).
Stewart is getting much more experience as a player as he attends more events outside his local area. He played his strategy to keep Bad Juju off the table really well (indeed, I didn’t get the Mire Golem out at all) but the end result of this was that while I was able to whittle down Stewart’s crew, he never killed any of mine apart from Hungering Darkness. I was quite surprised that the Gupps at least didn’t get killed off by Lovelace, but most of Stewart’s good cards were dedicated to keeping his own crew alive, and as the momentum snowballed in my favour I simply had too many AP to spend on attacks against him. Perhaps a better approach would have been to allow Bad Juju to Unbury, then keep it Paralysed with the Nurse for as long as possible.
Game 3: Neverborn (me) vs Arcanists (Joe Taylor)
Strategy: Collect The Bounty, flank deployment
Pool: Claim Jump, Eliminate The Leadership, Dig Their Graves, Covert Breakthrough, Tail ‘Em
Neverborn: Dig Their Graves, Covert Breakthrough
Arcanists: Claim Jump, Covert Breakthrough
Neverborn: Lilith (Beckon Malifaux), Nekima (One Thousand Faces), Doppelganger, 3 Waldgeists, Lilitu, Cherub
Arcanists: Colette Du Bois (Arcane Reservoir, Cabaret Choreography, Practiced Production), Howard Langston (Imbued Energies), Mechanical Rider (Imbued Energies), Hoarcat Pride, Large Arachnid, 3 Mechanical Doves
For this round, I got to have another crack at the Nicest Man In Malifaux after his sound thrashing of me last week. Funnily enough, Joe and I played this exact strategy and scheme combination earlier in the week (though with completely different crews) and came to the conclusion that it was quite horrible to pick a crew that could do well at both schemes and strategies. I considered all the masters I had access to and finally settled on Lilith as her board control could help me to isolate enemies and concentrate them down to kill them on my terms without exposing myself to too much of a reprisal. The Waldgeists were taken on the basis that nobody counter-picks Neverborn with anti-armour technology and so they would hopefully be a big problem to deal with efficiently. I borrowed Lilitu from Steve as her Lure is better than a Beckoner, and I didn’t need the other options that Beckoners bring. Covert Breakthrough feels like it should be quite achievable in flank deployment as you don’t have to cover much ground to put markers near the other zone. I considered both Claim Jump and Dig Their Graves (or both) and settled on the latter as it combined better with what I’d be trying to do anyway, i.e. kill everything in Joe’s crew.
Turn 1: To my great surprise, Howard activates early and just moves across the board. I suspect a trap and check in case Frame For Murder is in the scheme pool, but decide that I can’t pass up on an opportunity to deal with him so early. Lilitu Lures the big guy in and a Waldgeist charges for a couple of points of damage but mainly to position for a Tangle Shadows point for Nekima. Lilith swaps Nekima in and kills a nearby Dove, then puts an Illusory Forest in the most annoying place I can see. Another Dove gives Howard positive defensive flips, but it doesn’t help against Nekima who carves the Steamborg Executioner down. Colette places the Large Arachnid forward with Disappearing Act and summons another Dove. She then Prompts the Mechanical Rider to kill my Cherub. The Large Arachnid eats one of my scheme markers and attacks the nearest Waldgeist.
Turn 2: A Dove turbo-charges the Large Arachnid which Chain Activates to hurt the Waldgeist and knock its armour off. The other Waldgeist puts some damage into the Mechanical Rider. It burns Imbued Energies, summons a Mannequin to push away from Lilith and shoots her three times. The unarmoured Waldgeist pokes at the Large Arachnid and the furthest forward Dove runs as far to my table corner as possible. Lilith Tangle Shadows Nekima and the Doppelganger and puts some damage into the Mechanical Rider, though this is foiled once by the Black Joker. Lilitu Lures the Dove back toward me so I don’t have to deal with a scheme marker so far up, and pulls the back Waldgeist toward the action. Colette fires the Hoarcat Pride at me with Disappearing Act and Prompt. The Waldgeist at the back kills the Dove that Lilitu Lured; this was a mistake as I should have dealt with the Hoarcat Pride which eats my injured Waldgeist. The Doppelganger copies Nekima’s sword and makes short work of the Hoarcats, the Nekima herself kills the Mechanical Rider. I score Collect The Bounty and Joe scores Claim Jump.
Turn 3: The Waldgeist puts a scheme marker near the Large Arachnid, so Colette does various shenanigans to get it away from my crew. Lilitu Lures it in, then it walks away. Finally Lilith Tangles Shadows to bring it to me, then kills it for Dig Their Graves. Nekima kills the last Dove and stands next to Colette, who is admittedly surrounded by scheme markers. I score for the strategy.
Turn 4: Colette proves to be remarkably killy, and nearly finishes off Nekima from a standing start. Lilith Tangles Shadows to get Colette away from her scheme markers, then kills her for Dig Their Graves. Neverborn win 9 – 1 (4 for Collect The Bounty, 2 for Dig Their Graves and 3 for Covert Breakthrough for me; 1 for Claim Jump for Joe).
I love to play Malifaux with Joe, and he’s really improving his skill levels lately. The game really turned on Joe’s early mistake with Howard Langston; it is probable that he forgot about Lilitu (who admittedly was slightly tucked slightly under a balcony) though I did point it out before we started. My gamble with the Waldgeists was reasonably effective, though the presence of the Large Arachnid made short work of one of them. Being able to Lure and Tangle Shadows meant that I was able to engage on my own terms for the most part, and the concentration of force was enough to make sure I killed the right number of Arcanists each turn to score.
Game 4: Neverborn (me) vs Outcasts (Ali Ferguson)
Strategy: Headhunter, close deployment
Pool: Claim Jump, Dig Their Graves, Accusation, Recover Evidence, Last Stand
Neverborn: Claim Jump, Recover Evidence
Outcasts: Claim Jump, Last Stand
Neverborn: Collodi (Strum The Threads, Fated), Brutal Effigy, Barbaros (One Thousand Faces), Nekima (One Thousand Faces), 3 Terror Tots, Black Blood Shaman
Outcasts: Viktoria of Ashes (Sisters in Spirit, Sisters in Fury, Synchronised Slaying), Viktoria of Blood (Mark of Shezuul, Oathkeeper), Nothing Beast (Void Shield, The Bigger They Come), Ashes & Dust, Vanessa (Oathkeeper), Malifaux Child
Since I had already played the other three Neverborn masters I have access to, it felt fitting to use Collodi for this final round. The Nephilim list is really quite effective, and for Headhunter it has a nice mix of heavy hitting power to kill the enemy crew and cheap minions to pick up their heads. Collodi also can pass out AP to the crew as needed for collecting Heads. The Brutal Effigy goes wherever Collodi goes of course, as the doll combines so nicely with the puppet master. Seeing the Viktorias across the table in close deployment is quite scary, though I heartily approved of Ali’s choice of upgrades on the sisters as they’re exactly what I prefer. Again I swithered between Claim Jump, Dig Their Graves or both and eventually selected the first option as it gave me an option to send a Tot round to the far side of the outermost buildings if Ali’s small crew clustered in the centre. Recover Evidence seemed quite a good option as with such a small crew Ali would be hard pressed to keep the markers away from where I could get to them. I was quite interested in the match-up to see if my experience playing with the Viktorias would translate into success playing against them.
Turn 1: The Malifaux Child casts Sisters In Fury while I waste activations with the Brutal Effigy and Terror Tots. Vanessa Commands Construct to move Ashes & Dust to my left and zaps Barbaros, so Barbaros takes Rapid Growth and charges her right back. The Nothing Beast commits to the right side and Ashes & Dust to the left, presumably to counter the Tots I have there, while Nekima picks up Fears Given Form and smacks Vanessa now that the only counter charge is from Viktoria (and there is no staying out of her threat range). Ali elects to hold the Viks back to threaten me for next turn and I see my chance to control them before my whole crew gets blended. The Shaman gives Collodi Black Blood and pushes it forward before becoming the Personal Puppet. Collodi Pulls The Strings on Viktoria of Blood a couple of times, critically getting the My Bidding Trigger to attack her sister. Ali flips the Black Joker for the master’s defense, and I have the Red Joker in hand, so that is the end of Viktoria of Ashes. At the end of the turn Ali reveals Last Stand.
Turn 2: I reveal Recover Evidence since Ali has only 5 pieces left on the board. Barbaros kills Vanessa and there is a Tot in range to Grow, but I decide that the Tot will be more useful to me than a Young Nephilim at this point and elect not to Grow. The Nothing Beast Focuses to attack Barbaros but flips the Black Joker for damage, then Ashes & Dust kills the Tot on the left and picks up its Head. Collodi finishes Viktoria of Blood and picks up a nearby head. One Tot and the Brutal Effigy drop scheme markers while the other picks up an Evidence token. Nekima hurts the Nothing Beast and gets hit back for her troubles. I score for Claim Jump and we both score for Headhunter.
Turn 3: Nekima Kills the Nothing Beast while Ali has a hand full of cards. Ashes & Dust collects another Head. The Effigy and a Tot put down scheme markers and Collodi drops Ashes & Dust to 2 wounds remaining (I deliberately left it alive so I could have a chance to deal with it properly next turn) then picks up some Evidence. Barbaros collects more Evidence and the other Tot gets a Head marker. We both score Headhunter again and I get Claim Jump.
Turn 4: Collodi breaks up Ashes & Dust then kills the Dust Storm. The rest of my crew throw attacks at the Ashen Core, as long as they’re not busy with Heads or scheme markers. I score for Claim Jump and Headhunter. There are no Heads left, Ashen Core won’t drop one and can’t move to pick any up, so we call it there. Neverborn win 9 – 2 (3 for Headhunter, 3 for Recover Evidence and 3 for Claim Jump for me; 2 for Headhunter for Ali).
All games with Ali are fun and this was certainly no exception; he just has such a nice attitude to gaming that one can’t help but smile along as we play. In general I think that his approach of using the Viktorias as an area denial threat is quite good, but in this case the large threat range on Collodi plus the low number of AP generated by the Outcast crew combined perhaps make the immediate alpha strike a better option. Once Viktoria of Ashes went down for essentially no impact on the game, this was really over as a contest and it was just a matter of letting my bigger number of activations carry the day. This was doubly the case in Headhunter where Ali had to choose between using his expensive pieces to kill my crew or score points.
Once the scores were calculated I came in first place as the only player on four wins. I was particularly pleased to see three of my opponents, Joe, Stewart and Ali, come in third, fourth and fifth having only lost one game each (i.e. to me). As always I had a terrific time and would thank David, Stewart, Joe and Ali for four fun games of Malifaux and Kai and Callum for doing the work to run the tournament in the first place.