Joe drove Gareth, Mike and me down to York for our fifth Vappa in a row. I have a soft spot for Vappafaux as it’s been quite a happy hunting ground for me and indeed gave me my first big tournament win back in 2014. The locals and other travellers are always most welcoming and the standard of play has always seemed quite high in general. After a colossal pie dinner and beer on the Saturday night we rocked up to York Racecourse (not getting lost on the way for the first time ever) early and ready to roll. First round pairings put me with the mighty Ant Hoult, so no chance of a nice easy run into game one.
Game 1: Resurrectionists (me) vs Outcasts (Ant Hoult)
Strategy: Supply Wagon, corner deployment
Pool: Guarded Treasure, Inescapable Trap, Undercover Entourage, Public Demonstration, Vendetta
Resurrectionists: Public Demonstration (all three Shieldbearers), Vendetta (Rotten Belle on Bandido)
Outcasts: Inescapable Trap, Undercover Entourage (Parker Barrows)
Resurrectionists: Kirai Ankoku (Wronged Spirits, Unforgiven, Maniacal Laugh), Asura Roten, Anna Lovelace, Rotten Belle, Dead Doxy, 3 Shieldbearers
Outcasts: Parker Barrows (Coordinated Heist, Oathkeeper, Stick Up), Mad Dog Brackett (Lucky Poncho, Oathkeeper), Sue (Oathkeeper), Wokou Raider, Bandido, Hodgepodge Emissary (Conflux of Stolen Goods) [note that this was proxied with Ant’s Carrion Emissary], Doc Mitchell
I picked this crew in a fairly back-to-front way. I was looking for something that could efficiently push the Wagon and settled on Asura as she has a big base (so can push it further) and doesn’t really do much with her own AP. Since I was taking Asura, it made sense to take the Maniacal Laugh upgrade so that there would be plenty of Mindless Zombies to make use of her abilities. Then, as I was going to do that, I took Kirai because I like her with that upgrade. I got the idea of using Mindless Zombies for Kirai’s summoning from the excellent Dave Laing and liked it well, especially with Asura. Anna got into the crew simply because she brings so many solutions to problems and I love to play her. The Belle acts as a spare battery of wounds for Kirai’s summoning and the Doxy is to make sure that I get Kirai into a relevant part of the board at the start; this is especially important in corner deployment. The Shieldbearers work well for Public Demonstration since they are quite mobile and it is very easy to get them Fast for turn 2 by using a Soulstone for Kirai to summon something. Having taken the Belle I thought it would be rude not to abuse her huge range for Vendetta.
Turn 1: Almost the whole of Ant’s crew take a move forward thanks to Coordinated Heist. Sue pushes the wagon forward, and Asura pushes mine and summons a Mindless Zombie. The Emissary gives Sue the Vitality potion and some other upgrade to the Bandido, then immediately takes the latter back to draw cards. Finally, it drops one of my scheme markers to let the Wokou Raider move up. My Doxy pushes Kirai forward with Take The Lead, then moves my wagon. Parker discards Stick Up, moves the Bandido, uses Five Finger Discount to attach Black Market and makes the Bandido push the wagon. Finally he guns down the Mindless Zombie and gets Ikiryo in the middle of his crew for his troubles. My Shieldbearers all move up to end within 6″ of Kirai. The Wokou Raider kills Ikiryo; I’m not sure whether the impact on Ant’s AP use was more effective than just using Ikiryo to start attacking something. Mad Dog moves up and puts a Blow It To Hell marker in the middle of the board and Doc Mitchell heals Sue. The Belle, unable to see the Bandido, moves my Wagon and Kirai summons a pair of Hanged from the Doxy (I couldn’t use the Belle since I needed her for Vendetta) which float forward to get in the way next turn. The use of Soulstones makes all three Shieldbearers Fast.
Turn 2: Parker uses Oathkeeper, Focusses then Black Jokers damage on the Hanged. This frustrates Ant immensely (chatting before the game he’d mentioned that flipping the Black Joker on Parker’s activation is tantamount to suicide) and he almost concedes there and then. Fortunately we agree to continue playing, but this does end up eating quite a chunk of the round time. Parker then uses Five Finger Discount to attach Stick Up and uses Black Market to make the Bandido push the Wagon. The Hanged breathes a sigh of relief and does Whispers From Beyond on the Hodgepodge Emissary. In turn, it cycles another trinket to the Bandido and pulls it back for cards then kills the other Hanged. Ikiryo comes out and misses the Emissary, then disappears again as I was hoping to be able to summon it again later. Sue, Asura, the Bandido and my Belle all take turns at pushing their wagons forward; the Belle still didn’t have a line of sight at the Bandido to start on Vendetta. The Wokou Raider drops a scheme marker in the midst of my crew and before I can do anything about it, Mad Dog comes rushing in to stop me removing it, thereby telegraphing Inescapable Trap. Still, that did make it easier for me to score Public Demonstration. Two Shieldbearers charge into Mad Dog and burn through a good number of Soulstones while the last pushes my wagon just over the halfway line and stands near the Hodgepodge Emissary. Anna and Kirai both attack Mad Dog too, for relatively little effect. I score for Supply Wagon (Ant’s wagon is just out of my half of the board) and 3VP for Public Demonstration; Ant scores for Inescapable Trap.
Turn 3: The Hanged moved into a somewhat annoying position and gently tickles the Emissary. The Emissary hands the Bandido the Pretty Floral Bonnet and the Memento, she chain activates and pushes the wagon. Kirai kills the Wokou Raider and puts some more wounds into Mad Dog. He attacks the Belle, then Asura and one of my Shieldbearers hit him; I still can’t actually finish him off by the end of the turn. Sue puts down a scheme marker near my models in the centre that I won’t be able to avoid for Inescapable Trap. Parker finds the Black Joker again, this time on Five Finger Discount, then runs to hide behind a forest so that he can score for Undercover Entourage since between the discussion at the start of turn 2 and a brief interlude for a fire alarm, this will be the last turn. The Shieldbearer near the middle pushes Ant’s wagon back across the centre line (i.e. where it won’t score) and also opens up a line for the Belle to see the Bandido. The Belle fails to Lure the Bandido due to Sue’s Man In Black, but the point was to score one for Vendetta anyway. I score again for the strategy and Ant scores Inescapable Trap. Resurrectionists win 6 – 4 (2 for Supply Wagons, 3 for Public Demonstration and 1 for Vendetta for me; 2 for Inescapable Trap and 2 for Undercover Entourage for Ant).
I had a very enjoyable time playing against Ant, and it’s a mark of his skill that he was able to work around the critical Black Jokers to keep this close. I think that if the game had gone on longer I probably had enough of an attrition advantage that I could have stayed in the lead, but some of the last turn actions were played with the knowledge that we were nearly out of time so perhaps things might have gone differently with the full turns. Overall I was quite pleased with how my plans went, and I felt that I should be able to score at least 9 VP if we went to turn 5 (it was unlikely that the Belle would have personally killed the Bandido). I would have been interested to see how survivable the Shieldbearers were in practice but in fact Ant never had spare AP to even attack them so I only got to experience their distinctly average offense.
As is customary at Vappa, a long lunch break was arranged so that we could go and see the rest of the Vapnartak show so Gareth and I wandered around looking at all the other shiny wargames we could get into, if only we somehow had an infinite amount of time in which to play them.
Game 2: Resurrectionists (me) vs Resurrectionists (Greg Piskosz)
Strategy: Symbols of Authority, flank deployment
Pool: Punish the Weak, Set Up, Dig Their Graves, Hold up their Forces, Take Prisoner
My Resurrectionists: Punish the Weak, Dig Their Graves
Greg’s Resurrectionists: Punish the Weak, Dig Their Graves
My Resurrectionists: Molly Squidpiddge (Forgotten Path, Take Back The Night, Wronged Spirits), Izamu the Armour, Anna Lovelace, Datsue Ba, Onryo, Rotten Belle, Dead Doxy, Graveyard Spirit
Greg’s Resurrectionists: Reva (Guises of Death, Decaying Aura, Blood Mark), Asura Roten, Anna Lovelace, Lampad (My Little Helper), Rotten Belle, Valedictorian, Necropunk
I was a bit concerned going into this match-up. I had intended on playing Spirit Molly since she fits my preferred aggressive style and loves the flank deployment options to get her summoning early and effectively. I decided that I would just be able to ride out giving up points for Punish The Weak and try to deny the other scheme. But when I was paired with Greg, I started worrying that he would counter-pick me very effectively since we’ve been discussing Molly back and forth over the last few months. In the end, I decided that I’d be best served by playing to my own strengths rather than worrying about what was coming from the other side of the board. The basic plan was to have the Belle, Doxy and Onryo head for the Symbol markers while everything else jumped down Greg’s throat as quickly as possible to keep them in a ball. With Asura and Reva on the other side of the board I felt comfortable in taking Punish The Weak and eventually decided that Dig Their Graves was better for my game plan that the other options. Critically, Greg didn’t take the Litany of the Fallen upgrade on Reva that would have let her ignore armour.
Turn 1: I have an awful hand; even after using a Soulstone I have the Red Joker and then my highest card is seven. Asura summons a Mindless Zombie which Datsue Ba turns into and Onryo (mistake here, I think that a Gaki would have been a better call); she also order Izamu to move forward. Greg’s Anna nearly kills the Onryo, getting the trigger to summon another Mindless Zombie which then annoyingly finishes off my Onryo. So we’ve both spent several activations and the only upshot is that there is an extra corpse maker in the middle of the board. The Belle, Necropunk and Onryo all start the long slogs out toward Symbol markers on the corners. The Doxy pushes Molly forward and she moves up aggressively to summon a Goryo in the middle of Greg’s crew. I chose a Goryo over a Hanged even though I had the card for the latter since the bigger base meant I could get more wounds on it. Greg’s Belle Slows Izamu to stop me charging him into the fray and the Valedictorian uses Lecture Notes to turn off Molly’s triggers. Oh dear. The Graveyard Spirit moves to cuddle up to Molly and Izamu and makes Greg discard a card. This turned out to be critical as I dropped a weak card myself and forced Greg to use a card he’d been relying on having access to for the rest of his cunning plan. The Lampad misses a shot at the Graveyard Spirit and my Anna pushes him and Asura back. Reva summons a Corpse Candle, attacks Molly once and realises that she’s not going to achieve anything with so much Armour on Molly. We discussed this after the game and think that he was probably in range to just kill the Graveyard Spirit with the first attack which would have opened the game up a lot more. Instead, Reva turns a nearby corpse into a scheme marker then kills the Goryo for Dig Their Graves. At least it got to splash a bit of Black Blood over her.
Turn 2: Molly summons another Goryo and a Drowned, then kills a nearby Corpse Candle for Punish The Weak. The Goryo hurts Reva, Slowing her, but not enough to stop he from easily dispatching the Drowned for Punish The Weak. This does helpfully leave a scheme marker in the middle of Greg’s crew for future attempts at Dig Their Graves. My Anna kills the Lampad, then the Necropunk Leaps over to pick up my first Symbol. Eventually, the Doxy puts down a scheme markers, pushes the Necropunk up to Pounce on it (applying Confused Feelings in the process) and despite all that it still takes the attentions of Datsue Ba and my Onryo to kill it for Dig Their Graves. The Grave Spirit pokes Izamu to kill off another Corpse Candle to clear his way. Asura and a horde of Zombies pile Grasping Hands onto Izamu but he is still able to drop the Mindless Zombie engaging him and charge Reva, killing her and allowing me to breathe a big sigh of relief. In return the Valedictorian kills the Goryo for Punish the Weak but she’s feeling a bit hurt due to the sea of Black Blood that’s been sprayed over her. My Belle can’t quite make it to the Symbol on the right so she hides behind it instead. Greg scores for the strategy.
Turn 3: Molly kills a Mindless Zombie for Punish The Weak, then puts Whispered Secret on the Valedictorian and kills her with a lucky Red Joker on damage. This also scores me Dig Their Graves thanks to the scheme marker left behind by the Drowned. Quite a good activation, so Izamu chain activates and shows how it is not done by failing to hit the Belle on three attempts. She Slows him in return. Mindless Zombies put Grasping Hands on my Anna, then Greg’s Anna makes a break for a Symbol marker as she’s the only thing he has that is likely to reach them. My Anna pushes away a Zombie engaging her, then charges her doppelganger. This doesn’t have any effect but it does make it very hard for Greg to get to the marker. My Belle finally takes Greg’s first Symbol marker. I score for Symbols of Authority. We look at the board state and agree that it is unlikey for Greg to get anything else out of the game, nor for him to stop me from getting all my points so we call it there rather than playing out the inevitable. My Resurrectionists win 10 – 4 (full score for me; 1 for Symbols of Authority, 2 for Dig Their Graves and 1 for Punish The Weak for Greg).
What a tight game. I really love to play Greg because he looks at the board state and acts in a completely different way to me. He’s very good at attacking from angles that I just don’t see (probably because I’m focusing on a more direct play) and as such I have to be on my guard for every activation. Of course, he is also a very friendly and fun gentleman to play against so in that regard is surely one of my favourite opponents. The game hinged on my being able to keep Molly alive and pressure Reva and the Valedictorian with summons. When Molly survived turn 1 and I got initiative in turn 2 I felt that I had enough power to just attrition my way through the game. Killing the Necropunk early was also important because it was the only thing in Greg’s crew that was really suited to collecting my Symbol markers. I believe that Greg’s plan was to use Reva’s sheer damage output to cripple my crew early then pick up any point he could after all my pieces were dead.
Game 3: Resurrectionists (me) vs Outcasts (Nathan Chenery)
Strategy: Public Executions, close deployment
Pool: Eliminate the Leadership, Search the Ruins, Take One for the Team, Show of Force, Recover Evidence
Resurrectionists: Search the Ruins, Show of Force
Outcasts: Search the Ruins, Recover Evidence
Resurrectionists: Molly Squidpiddge (Forgotten Path, Take Back The Night, Wronged Spirits), Izamu the Armour (Unnerving Aura), Hannah (Unnerving Aura), Anna Lovelace, Onryo, Dead Doxy, Graveyard Spirit
Outcasts: Hamelin (Plague Pits, Survivalist, The Piper), Hodgepodge Emissary (Conflux of Plague), Midnight Stalker, Nix (Hollow), Stolen, Obedient Wretch, 3 Malifaux Rats
The crew here is the same as when I played a similar scheme pool for Public Executions against Jamie Clark in round 5 at Gaining Force last month. The general plan was to take the centre early and hold it with Hannah (and Izamu if needed for Show of Force) then project damage out as required. Since I was going to be in the middle anyway, I took Search the Ruins too. Molly’s general plan to summon in models with few wounds would be a concern in the strategy but my experience has been that eventually a critical momentum builds up and attrition starts to favour the Resurrectionist crew. On the plus side, being unable to charge near Hamelin wasn’t going to be a problem since I could just summon next to him instead.
Turn 1: Nathan announces Recover Evidence so I choose the models that are in the centre of my crew. The Doxy pushes Molly up and removes the central Plague Pit. Molly summons a Goryo and a Hanged next to Hamelin, killing the Stolen and Rat nearby and hurting Hamelin himself. The Emissary gives the Pretty Floral Bonnet to the Midnight Stalker then Hamelin kills the Hanged before it does anything useful, though there is a significant dent in Hamelin’s wounds already thanks to Black Blood. He also summons a pair of Stolen. The rest of our crews move for position. The Obedient Wretch throws rats about the place, eventually summoning a Rat King.
Turn 2: Molly summons another Hanged and Goryo. The Goryo kills Hamelin but I forgot that he could sacrifice the Stolen to ignore this. That was a big mistake on my part as I am fairly sure that I could have dropped the Stolen before hitting Hamelin. Hamelin summons another pair of Stolen but stops short of killing the Hanged as he’s drowning in Black Blood by this point. Izamu charges the Hodgepodge Effigy, cheats in the Red Joker for damage on the second attack to get it to Hard to Kill then frustratingly flips the Black Joker on damage for the killing blow. More Rat Kings start to appear. Hannah finally kills Hamelin after both Stolen are dropped with a cheeky spray of Black Blood from something; she Makes A New Entry to copy The Swirling Damned from her sister. A Rat Catcher appears from a Rat King and reactivates another Rat King. This one kills the Hanged and starts attacking Izamu. The Midnight Stalker collects Evidence markers. I score for Show of Force but we draw for Public Executions.
Turn 3: The first Rat King attacks Izamu, but thanks to Armour and Black Blood they are doing more damage to themselves as to Izamu then turns into a Rat Catcher to avoid giving up an easy kill; the Obedient Wretch comes out to kill Izamu with Bleeding Disease instead since he’s sitting on Blighted +9 or something by this point. The Goryo kills the first Rat Catcher and comes back to put down a scheme marker. The Doxy pushes Hannah into range of Nix then puts out another scheme marker. My Onryo goes to hurt the new Rat Catcher and gets beaten up a bit in return, then Molly kills the Rat King and my own Onryo, finally pushing into range to chain activate Hannah. Sadly Hannah does nothing useful to Nix except copy Anna’s Vortex to push Nix further back. This turns out to be important because Nix can’t then get far enough into the middle to clear Hannah’s massive engagement range to put down scheme markers so he just settles for getting close enough to deny Show of Force. Somewhere around here we get the call for last turn, we were both quite surprised at how little we’d got done but the turns were very busy. Anna drops a scheme marker herself then uses the Red Joker to Vortex Nix clear of the centre. The Midnight Stalker collects a third bit of evidence and puts down a scheme marker, and the Hodgepodge Effigy comes steaming round the corner and uses its (0) action to push and put another scheme marker out (in retrospect, this wouldn’t have worked as Anna’s Clockwork Dress would have stopped the push). I score for the strategy and Show of Force again. I also have three markers out for Search The Ruins and Nathan could only get two. Resurrectionists win 6 – 3 (1 for Public Executions, 3 for Search The Ruins and 2 for Show of Force for me; 3 for Recover Evidence for Nathan).
Wow, that was a hell of a game! I was delighted to get to play with Nathan as I’ve seen him around at tournaments for years but we’ve somehow just never been drawn together. He was a terrific opponent, a gentleman throughout and the whole game was played with smiles on both sides. I must also admit here that I had underestimated Nathan; I had considered him before in the ‘good but not great’ category but on this evidence he is a truly strong player of Malifaux. In terms of the game itself, I was happy that Molly was the right Master here as her aggressive playstyle fits the strategy and deployment well. Being able to bombard Hamelin with Black Blood seemed like a fairly effective way to deal with him. I did wonder if Eliminate the Leadership would have been a more suitable scheme to pick but in the end I think it was more of a gamble than those that I actually selected. Flipping the Black Joker on the killing blow against the Hodgepodge Emissary was a crucial moment and that could have lead to a very different result. I would have been very interested to see how the game would have gone on if we had enough time to play the full five turns. I felt that I had the advantage in attrition and could probably have held on to win via strategy points but it would have been extremely close; probably Nathan would disagree. Playing against Hamelin and Nix’s Nihilism was the same exercise in frustration as usual.
Once all the scores are in I’m delighted to find that I took first place, beating Lewis Phillips by a single point of VP differential and I got a very nice engraved beer glass to bring home with me. As always I had a lovely time meeting friends both old and new. Thanks to Ant, Greg and Nathan for three hard-fought fun games of Malifaux, and of course to Graham for stepping up and running the event this year.