Cry Havoc is a regular date in the regional wargaming calendar, and lately it has featured a Malifaux tournament, so Gareth and I headed over the Forth Bridge to Dunfermline to take part. It ended up being a fairly small event (at least, compared to the Age Of Sigmar tournament sharing the hall) but most of the Malifaux-playing areas of Scotland seemed to provide at least one player to test their mettle.
Game 1: Neverborn (me) vs Resurrectionists (Stewart Herbert)
Strategy: Reconnoitre, close deployment
Pool: Claim Jump, Dig Their Graves, Leave Your Mark, Covert Breakthrough, Last Stand
Neverborn: Leave Your Mark, Covert Breakthrough
Resurrectionists: Leave Your Mark, Covert Breakthrough
Neverborn: Pandora (The Box Opens, Fears Given Form), Barbaros (One Thousand Faces), Nekima (One Thousand Faces), 3 Terror Tots, Black Blood Shaman, Primordial Magic
Resurrectionists: Seamus (Sinister Reputation, Redchapel Killer), Copycat Killer, Dead Doxy, Night Terror, Rotten Belle, Forgotten Marshal, Necropunk, Rogue Necromancy, Philip and the Nanny (The Haunting)
With close deployment I decided to pick a Pandora crew since it would mean that I could hopefully get her in about the Resurrectionist crew before they could split up and therefore keep a big chunk busy. I find that she’s really good at draining cards and since I was partly expecting Nicodem here I was intending to expend Pandora as a distraction piece. The rest of my crew is a Nephilim list that is pretty mobile and threatens to Grow opportunistically. I find that it is quite hard to rely on Grow in a crew, but having the option can force people to respect the threat of it. More importantly, it is highly amusing when it actually works. I’ve used more or less the same crew with Lilith and Collodi at the helm in previous events and it appears to work well regardless of the chosen Master. With close deployment it was a simple choice to pick both Leave Your Mark and Covert Breakthrough since any markers touching the centre line would be good enough to score it. When Stewart revealed his crew with Sinister Reputation on Seamus I was quite worried and knew I would have to play Pandora somewhat cagily to keep her safe from him.
Turn 1: Seamus starts off by using Back Alley to get behind my lines, then helpfully flips really low on a shot at a Tot, allowing me to cheat to avoid it. The Copycat Killer moves to him and tries the same, with similarly ineffective results, much to both our surprise. The Doxy uses Take The Lead to move the Rogue Necromancy up on the right, so Pandora pushes over to it (Inciting the Belle and Doxy in the process) and beats its hard enough to drop the Three Headed rule. The Belle Lures it back to relative safety. Barbaros swaps in Rapid Growth and moves to cover Pandora on the right, and the Necromancy comes forward and misses an optimistic ranged attack at Barbaros. Nekima picks up Fears Give Form and double walks over to smite the Forgotten Marshal and engage the Necropunk. The latter predictably Leaps away and is eventually stabbed by the Black Blood Shaman. The Forgotten Marshal rather obligingly not only fails his Fears Given Form check (which kills him) but also Black Jokers the check to see what was hidden in his coffin.
Turn 2: The Black Blood Shaman polishes off the Necropunk. The Doxy pushes Pandora around and gives her the Confused Feelings condition. Sensing that this could be rather bad news with Seamus in view, Pandora scoots round the building and kills the Rogue Necromancy. The Copycat Killer misses the Tot again, and Barbaros charges into the Doxy to tie up Seamus. The Belle fails a Horror Duel trying to Lure Pandora around and a Tot joins in the mix to attack the Doxy. Philip and my other two Tots drop scheme markers, as does Seamus (to my great surprise) after walking out of Barbaros’s clutches. I score for the strategy and we both score for Leave Your Mark.
Turn 3: The Copycat Killer finally lands a hit on something, knocking the Primordial Magic down to a single wound. The Tot eats the Doxy and Grows into a Young Nephilim. Seamus drops another scheme marker and Barbaros charges into him. Philip drops another scheme marker and Nekima barrels into him vaporising the poor chap with a lucky Red Joker. The Belle makes some desultory attacks on Pandora, who completely fails to do anything in return to her. The new Young picks up a scheme marker near Nekima (in retrospect, I think that I shouldn’t have been able to do this as it had only been summoned that turn). The Tot charges the Night Terror and the Black Blood Shaman uses Pustule to finish it off. I score for Reconnoitre and Leave Your Mark again.
Turn 4: Seamus walks away from Barbaros, focuses and shoots into the melee with the Copycat Killer. Amusingly, he randomises onto the little guy and blows away his own totem. Pandora finally deals with the Belle and Nekima chops Seamus into a fine red mist. Neverborn win 10 – 1 (full score for me; 1 for Leave Your Mark for Stewart).
The cards in turn 1 favoured me a bit; whenever Stewart wanted to take a shot at anything with Seamus or the Copycat Killer I always seemed to be able to get to one higher than him. I was able to put the pressure on quite early by using Pandora to turn the Rogue Necromancy’s nasty damage track against it and by dropping the Forgotten Marshal in turn one. This meant that Seamus had to worry about dropping scheme markers rather than blowing up my crew with his horrible gun. Stewart took it all in his stride and was a gentleman throughout.
Game 2: Neverborn (me) vs Gremlins (Joe Taylor)
Strategy: Reckoning, standard deployment
Pool: Claim Jump, Frame For Murder, Accusation, Hunting Party, Hidden Trap
Neverborn: Frame For Murder (Barbaros), Hunting Party
Gremlins: Claim Jump, Hunting Party
Neverborn: Pandora (The Box Opens, Fears Given Form), Barbaros, Nekima (One Thousand Faces), 2 Illuminated, Beckoner, Primordial Magic
Gremlins: Wong (Ooo Glowy), Gracie (Saddle), Burt Jebsen, Iron Skeeter (Do Over), Swine Cursed, Old Cranky, 2 Bayou Gremlins, 3 Stuffed Piglets
Joe had been talking about using this crew all morning, so I had some idea of what was coming, but sadly I couldn’t think of any really good counter so I ended up putting down a crew with some decent stats and hoping to ride out the horrible alpha strike that it can put out, then counter punching my way through with whatever I had left. I took Frame For Murder, expecting only 2VP since there are no Henchmen to worry about, and Hunting Party since I figured I might have some opportunity to take out the Swine Cursed, then would have to see if any opportunities arose to handle the rest of the Minions and Peons. Wong makes Burt Glowy.
Turn 1: I get hopelessly out activated, since between the Bayou Gremlins, Stuffed Piglets and Old Cranky (total 16 Soulstones) there are six activations. Pandora fires forward into an aggressive position, Inciting a couple of Stuffed Piglets in the process. I was hoping that I can abuse the Fading Memory push and her high stats to reduce retaliation, and then I could threaten a bigger chunk of Joe’s crew next turn. Similarly, Nekima goes forward on the far left and Black Jokers a swing at a Stuffed Piglet that had come up too far; the intention was to thin out the activations a bit. The rest of my crew huddle up a bit with Barbaros in the middle to abuse Challenge. The Iron Skeeter discards Do Over and moves Burt forward, making him Fast in the process. Gracie Reactivates and pulls the Swine Cursed forward four times. Burt kills Pandora, cheating in above me each time. Then the Swine Cursed kills Nekima with similarly little fuss. Wong misses a speculative shot at an Illuminated. This looks bad.
Turn 2: The Illuminated knocks the Iron Skeeter down to one wound. Barbaros kills a Stuffed Piglet to score Hunting Party and the Beckoner Lures Gracie forward so that she’s engaged with Barbaros but outside her own melee range, then fails to finish the Iron Skeeter with Despicable Promises. Now that Joe can use his crew in the order of his choice, Burt wipes out Barbaros (scoring me 2 VP for Frame For Murder) and Gracie kills the nearby Illuminated to score for Hunting Party. The Swine Cursed somehow misses the other Illuminated three times in a row and Wong shoots the Beckoner. We both score for Reckoning and Joe scores for Claim Jump.
Turn 3: The Swine Cursed finally hits the Illuminated, who kills it in return. Burt kills him in turn, scoring Hunting Party again. The Beckoner fails again to kill off the Iron Skeeter, then Gracie Saddles it toward the Beckoner. The Iron Skeeter fails to hit her somehow, so Wong does the job. With only the Primordial Magic cowering behind a tree, I’m happy to concede the rest of the points. Neverborn lose 4 – 10 (1 for Reckoning, 2 for Frame For Murder and 1 for Hunting Party for me; full score for Joe).
Ouch, that was quite brutal! Joe was, of course, a perfect gentleman all the while he was thrashing me soundly; one would expect nothing less of The Nicest Man in Malifaux. In retrospect, the choice to be really aggressive with Nekima and Pandora was probably wrong and I should have considered keeping them all in Barbaros’s Challenge Aura. But it would have been quite hard to position such that the aura couldn’t have been blocked by some good positioning on Joe’s part, and with the extreme threat range on Burt and the Swine Cursed I would have struggled to keep it relevant. Indeed, Joe could also have just killed Barbaros first. In fact, even if I’d played my own pieces much better, I’m not certain I could have avoided the devastating first turn here. The threat range on the Gremlin fighters is enough to get into my deployment zone so unless I huddle at my own table edge then I’m going to receive the attacks eventually, and even doing so means that Joe can spend turn one setting up as he pleases then pull the trigger on turn 2 instead. Also, Joe’s control hand on turn one was quite unholy: after cycling away an 8 with Old Cranky and drawing two cards with Do Over his lowest card was an 11 and three of them were 13s. I had nothing to match that so it was perhaps inevitable that I was going to lose something important.
The good thing about being beaten so thoroughly was that we had time to re-rack and try again with the same match-up after Joe and I had discussed a few options I could consider for the second game. So in a three round event, we got to play four games. However, I didn’t bother to note the details of the second game for your reading pleasure.
Game 3: Neverborn (me) vs Guild (Dave Laing)
Strategy: Turf War, corner deployment
Pool: Claim Jump, Accusation, Leave Your Mark, Undercover Entourage, Set Up
Neverborn: Leave Your Mark, Undercover Entourage (Bad Juju)
Guild: Accusation, Set Up (Bad Juju)
Neverborn: Jakob Lynch (Endless Hunger), Hungering Darkness, 2 Waldgeists, Spawn Mother (Hexed Among You), Bad Juju (Eternal Fiend), McTavish, Will O’ The Wisp
Guild: Lucius (Secret Assets, Legalese, Surprisingly Loyal), Master Queeg (Promises, A Debt To The Guild), Captain Dashel (Arrest Them, Numb To The World), Witchling Thrall, Guild Pathfinder, Terracotta Warrior, The Scribe, Clockwork Trap
In a rare event for me, I had decided to use this list for this round long before the day of the tournament. It’s a bit of a gimmick list, or maybe a theme list, but the bits all fit together quite well and the whole thing is terrific fun to play. To summarise, the Spawn Mother and Will O’ The Wisp combine to summon Gupps at (sometimes) a rate of one per turn. Everything in the crew apart from Lynch and the Hungering Darkness (and including any Gupps I can summon) is a Swampfiend, so killing any of it will let me bring Bad Juju into play. McTavish synergises really nicely with other Swampfiends, both improving their cover and using them for his own amazing gun. The crew turns out to be quite independent of the Master; I’ve tried variations of it with Lilith and Pandora too for reasonable effect. In this case, Lynch brings the potential to abuse the ace of Masks for Gupps leaping, the badness that is Hungering Darkness and an AP he doesn’t always know how to use; I put this last part to good effect by dropping scheme markers for McTavish to eat. Various people have quite reasonably pointed out that I could go even further down this rabbit hole by putting Rising Sun on Lynch instead, but I’m more familiar with Endless Hunger and haven’t really tried the burying version of Hungering Darkness; anyway, the threat saturation of the crew is huge and often Hungering Darkness seems to be too much trouble to kill off so has survived the games anyway. Leave Your Mark was picked as I planned to summon Gupps and send them out of the Turf War area to score it, and I eventually chose Undercover Entourage on Bad Juju, figuring I could kill my own model near the Guild deployment zone if it was buried and I needed to bring the walking compost heap back into play.
Turn 1: The Spawn Mother moves up and lays an egg, which the Wisp hatches. The Terracotta Warrior puts Ancient Protection on the Witchling Thrall, who moves up centrally. The Gupps move to engage the Thrall, either to be killed and get Bad Juju out early, or to tie up the Thrall until I could deal with it. To my immense surprise, Dave takes the bait and Lucius walks to make the Thrall kill the Gupps. He Issues Command to make the Thrall hit Bad Juju, then uses What Lackeys Are For to swap places with the Pathfinder. Bad Juju pokes the Thrall which removes Ancient Protection, then moves to cover the Pathfinder and Terracotta Warrior and fires off Landslide which slows the Pathfinder and Thrall. Dashel moves and fails to summon a Guard. Lynch also moves up (fittingly, into the swamp) and drops a scheme marker for McTavish. Queeg pushes the Terracotta Warrior around and puts down a scheme marker, as does the Pathfinder. The Waldgeist and Hungering Darkness poke the Thrall for not much effect. McTavish pushes up to the scheme marker and takes a shot which kills the Clockwork Trap. Dave reveals Set Up on Bad Juju, scoring 2 VP.
Turn 2: The Pathfinder summons a Clockwork Trap in a rather annoying position. This was a mistake from Dave as he should have used the Terracotta Warrior to reapply Ancient Protection to the Thrall. I take advantage by having Hungering Darkness kill off the Thrall. Dashel puts enough wounds on Bad Juju to bury it and the Waldgeist hurts the Pathfinder. Lucius Issues Command to move the Pathfinder over to the unactivated Waldgeist, then has him Accuse it. He puts a Focused Hidden Sniper shot into Lynch. Lynch Plays For Blood to finish the Pathfinder. Queeg engages the Accused Waldgeist to stop me from simply removing the condition, and McTavish puts some bullets into him. The Spawn Mother lays another egg and engages the Terracotta Warrior, then the Wisp hatches the egg and the Gupps move off toward Dave’s deployment zone. We both score for the strategy and Dave scores for Accusation.
Turn 3: Queeg uses A Debt To the Guild and then accidentally kills the Waldgeist by flipping 2 severe cards on a negative flip so Bad Juju unburies. The Hungering Darkness finishes off Master Queeg. Dashel Accuses the surviving Waldgeist and fails again to summon a Guild Guard. The Spawn Mother totally misses her swings at the Terracotta Warrior and completes her shame by Black Jokering to lay an egg. The Scribe puts Red Tape on Hungering Darkness so Bad Juju kills him. Lucius misses a shot at Lynch with the Hidden Sniper, then moves up and Black Jokers a Commanding Presence on himself; suddenly I don’t feel so bad about the Spawn Mother’s abject failure. The Wisp and Terracotta Warrior bounce ineffectually off each other. Lynch puts another scheme marker down and takes a shot at Lucius with Play For Blood; for some reason it didn’t occur to me that it would be perfect for Dave to put me on a negative flip to hit, thereby causing some free damage to Lynch. McTavish then guns down Lucius with some very lucky flips; I twice got double moderate damage on negative flips. Lucius also really hurts Dashel and the Trap with Devil’s Deal to try to stay alive. The Waldgeist pokes at Dashel. We both score for Turf War, I score for Leave Your Mark and Dave scores for Accusation again.
Turn 4: Dashel finally manages to summon a Guard then Accuses the Waldgeist. The Spawn Mother again fails to hit the Terracotta Warrior which kills my Wisp. Lynch finishes off the Trap and hurts the Guard; Hungering Darkness kills her and hurts Dashel some more. McTavish, getting tired of the Spawn Mother’s ineptitude, ends the Terracotta Warrior. I score Turf War and Leave Your Mark again and Dave gets the final point for Accusation.
Turn 5: Dashel summons another Guard. The Hungering Darkness fails to kill it, so McTavish does so. The Waldgeist finally lands a hit on Dashel to kill him and Bad Juju shambles into Dave’s deployment zone. Neverborn win 10 – 7 (full score for me; 2 for Turf War, 2 for Set Up and 3 for Accusation for Dave).
As always, playing Dave was a real pleasure. He’s such a student of the game that you always know that his crews will contain some entertaining synergy. In this case, the game hinged on his activation order error at the start of turn 2 which allowed me to finish off the Witchling Thrall quite painlessly rather than failing uselessly at it and suffering another series of attacks from it throughout the turn. From my side, the pieces generally did as expected. The Waldgeists got in the way and were quite frustrating to dislodge. McTavish was a superstar though he was probably helped by some really lucky flips on my side. In contrast, the Spawn Mother couldn’t do anything correctly, though in fairness the two Gupps she did summon (with help from the Wisp) both had a pretty big impact on the game.
So when the scores are in I’m in 4th place which I am quite pleased with. I got four good games of Malifaux, including an unexpected bonus game after round two… though perhaps I would have preferred not to have capitulated quite so quickly against Joe. Thanks to Stewart, Joe and Dave for more fun games, and to Michael and Andy for their parts in running this.