Malifaux tournament report: Broken Promises; 24Mar2018

As is our custom, Gareth and I took the train over to Common Ground Games in Stirling for another excellent feast of Malifaux laid on for us by Kai Young, this time in the form of the four round Broken Promises event.

Game 1: Resurrectionists (me) vs Resurrectionists (Stewart Herbert)

Strategy: Public Executions, Close Deployment

Schemes
Pool: Eliminate the Leadership, Dig Their Graves, Undercover Entourage, Vendetta, Public Demonstration
My Resurrectionists: Eliminate the Leadership, Dig Their Graves
Stewart’s Resurrectionists: Dig Their Graves, Public Demonstration (Hannah with Kentauroi and both Necropunks)

Crews
My 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
Stewart’s Resurrectionists: Reva (Guises of Death, Decaying Aura, Litany of the Fallen), Kentauroi, Carrion Emissary (Conflux of the Reaper), Anna Lovelace, 2 Necropunks, Chiaki the Niece

I picked Molly going into this match-up as I’ve found that she can afford to give up a point of Public Executions during turn 2 in order to get her engine running, then overwhelm the other crew in turns 3 to 5. Public Demonstration in the pool also adds to this as it encourages a certain amount of clustering from the other crew if picked. Seeing Reva across the board I realised that I probably wasn’t going to get much use of Izamu as he’s such an easy target for her, so I decided to take Eliminate the Leadership and use Izamu as bait to get her to activate early. Plus, I need to deal with Reva to stop her bossing the engagement range and scoring the strategy unopposed. Dig Their Graves seemed to fit well with the general plan of killing everything.

Turn 1: A Corpse Candle appears in front of Izamu, walks forward and sacrifices itself. The Doxy pushes Molly forward and the Carrion Emissary puts down Shards in one of the two choke points across the centre to keep me off Stewart’s crew. Reva summons another Corpse Candle but, to my huge surprise, doesn’t immediately vaporise Izamu; instead she puts down a scheme marker in midfield. Anna misses a shot at Reva but pushes the Corpse Candle back a bit. Hannah copies her sister’s attack and sticks it on Reva to start chipping through her wound pool. The Necropunks Leap toward Hannah and start dropping scheme markers and the Kentauroi follows suit. Molly moves around the wagon in the middle and drops a Goryo into the middle of the other crew; it then hurts Reva and, crucially, Slows her. Stewart reveals his Public Demonstration for three VPs.

Turn 2: Molly summons another Goryo and but fails to achieve anything else attacking the Carrion Emissary (I was hoping to get the push trigger to move to a better position but the cards didn’t work out). Hannah Chain Activates and drops a Focus attack on the Corpse Candle. This causes a pleasing raft of Horror checks, Paralysing one of the Necropunks, scoring a VP for Eliminate the Leadership and draining Stewart’s hand quite effectively. Reva Focuses and hurts Hannah right back. The Goryo from the previous turn Slows both the Kentauroi and Reva again, critically stopping the Kentauroi from just charging off into the sunset; meanwhile the Emissary puts Shards in Izamu’s way then kills the unactivated Goryo for Dig Their Graves. My Anna finishes off Reva (for the rest of the points on Eliminate the Leadership) and drains the rest of Stewart’s hand with the Horror pulse; I do paralyse my own Goryo in the process but that doesn’t matter as the Kentauroi kills it in the next activation anyway. I’m doing quite a lot of damage simply by spraying Black Blood about the place in the massive scrum. The Onryo knocks the Kentauroi down to a couple of wounds left and is wounded in turn by Stewart’s Anna. The Doxy pushes Izamu back toward the centre and Chiaki fails to remove the strategy condition on Hannah. Izamu shows his worth by dropping a Mindless Zombie and the last Corpse Candle pokes Molly, dying to Black Blood in the process. We draw on Public Executions.

Turn 3: Stewart uses the Emissary cleverly to put down Shards stopping the Onryo from getting Black Blood from Molly, then hurts Izamu. Molly summons a pair of Hanged (probably not really needed but I had the cards, felt that the game was in hand and enjoy summoning Hanged when I can) and misses yet another attack on the Kentauroi. She does make one of the Hanged hit it to force another card out for the Horror check. I chain activate Izamu who finally contributes by killing Anna Lovelace. The surviving Necropunk Leaps clear and drops a scheme marker. Hannah finishes the Kentauroi, drops a scheme marker and copies from Anna to shoot the Emissary; the Doxy then Takes the Lead to push Molly out of her way then charges in to kill the Emissary and score me a VP for Dig Their Graves. Chiaki fails to deal with the Onryo, who pokes her back equally ineffectively. I score for Public Executions.

Turn 4: Chiaki kills the Onryo (for Dig Their Graves). The Hanged drops a scheme maker then Molly kills Chiaki to score Dig Their Graves for me. I should have left it there, but I forgot (again) how Public Executions is scored and so have Molly finish the Necropunk and hence not get the Shed Blood condition. Oops. My Resurrectionists win 6 – 5 (1 for Public Executions, 3 for Eliminate the Leadership and 2 for Dig Their Graves for me; 3 for Public Demonstration and 2 for Dig Their Graves for Stewart).

As always it is a pleasure to face Stewart; his skill is constantly improving and I think that he’s really only hampered by the relatively small and inexperienced Malifaux scene in Aberdeen not getting him the opportunities to test his mettle against stronger opponents so often. I felt that I had the game in control and then let a couple of points slip through my fingers right at the end; that could have been costly but fortunately I was still able to squeak out a narrow victory. I’m not sure why Stewart didn’t just go in for wiping Izamu straight away in turn one; he had all the tools with Reva to do so and unless his hand was catastrophically bad it would have been very possible to force through.

Game 2: Resurrectionists (me) vs Ten Thunders (Michael Arnott)

Strategy: Ply for Information, Standard Deployment

Schemes
Pool: Surround Them, Covert Breakthrough, Dig Their Graves, Inescapable Trap, Show of Force
Resurrectionists: Covert Breakthrough, Dig Their Graves
Ten Thunders: Covert Breakthrough, Dig Their Graves

Crews
Resurrectionists: Kirai Ankoku (Wronged Spirits, Unforgiven, Maniacal Laugh), Asura Roten, Anna Lovelace, Rotten Belle, Dead Doxy, 3 Shieldbearers
Ten Thunders: Shenlong (Peaceful Waters, Yang, Wandering River Style), Peasant, Tengu, Yasunori (Recalled Training), Yamaziko, 2 Ten Thunder Brothers, Monk of Low River, Monk of Wandering River

I chose to try Kirai for this match-up, not because I think that she is especially good for the strategy, but because the board here was wide open in the middle and I was expecting a lot of ranged attacks to come in. I was hoping that Kirai’s ability to bring Ikiryo into play might be a bit of a deterrent to this. With that in mind, I took a crew with mainly Living or Undead characteristics to force the issue. The Rotten Belle (and, to a lesser extent, the Dead Doxy) were there intending to bring Michael’s pieces to me so that I could Ply them effectively from my side of the board. With that in mind, I chose Dig Their Graves, so that once I had completed sufficient Plying, I could kill the model in question for another VP. Covert Breakthrough felt like the least bad of the rest of the bunch; hopefully I’d be able to get an attrition lead with Kirai’s summoning and score at the end. Michael did put down Shenlong, but slightly to my surprise he didn’t include much in the way of long ranged force projection. On the other hand, Yasunori in that crew was going to be able to reliably delete one of my key pieces within turn one if Michael chose to pull the trigger.

Turn 1: As if by magic, the Peasant reproduces by binary fission. Asura puts down a scheme marker and summons a Mindless Zombie to get my ghost factory rolling. The Doxy pushes Kirai and the Zombie moves to be just within range to summon from. Moving the Zombie just wastes another activation and I can always hope that Michael would fall for over extending to kill it early in the hope of slowing down the summoning; of course he’s far too good a player to fall for this. Meanwhile, the Peasants hand Focus to Shenlong and poke Yasunori to move him forward a little; eventually the Monk of Low River heals the rider too. The opening moves are quite cautious and I realise that with the threat range on Yasunori so large (especially once Shenlong inevitably makes him Fast) I’m going to have commit pieces. The Shieldbearers move up to be just within range to get Fast from Kirai when she uses a Soulstone for summoning. The Belle Lures Anna forward and Shenlong pushes Yasunori up and gives him Fast as expected. Kirai summons a Hanged off the Mindless Zombie and then a Downed and a Shikome off one of the Shieldbearers. Yasunori uses Recalled Training and comes in to kill Kirai; I do summon Ikiryo off the first attack so at least it is on the board. Yamaziko kills the Hanged and sets up Brace in an annoying position. The rest of my crew beat up Yasunori and eventually he dies of Poison. I’m left with the uncomfortable feeling that trading Kirai for Yasunori might not have been in my favour.

Turn 2: Yamaziko kills one of the Mindless Zombies. Anna shoots her down to a single wound and pushes her back to remove Brace, then Shenlong swaps in Low River Style and heals Yamaziko right back up. The Drowned puts some damage into the Wandering River Monk (I’m trying to deal with him before he Leaps off into my backfield and starts dropping scheme markers everywhere). The Doxy pushes Ikiryo forward a little and uses Grasping Hands on Yamaziko. The Ten Thunder Brother on my left kills my Drowned, scoring Michael a VP for Dig Their Graves, then Ikiryo uses her ludicrous charge range to kill Yamaziko to get me a VP for my own Dig Their Graves. The Tengu hurts Ikiryo and even a Peasant charges in. The Belle Lures the left Ten Thunder Brother over and one of the Shieldbearers kills it after Plying for Information. The others hurt the Wandering River Monk and Peasant. I score for the strategy.

Turn 3: Shenlong picks up Fermented River Style in the Shenlong Phase. Ikiryo kills the Tengu (another VP for Dig Their Graves) and the nearby Peasant. The Wandering River Monk Leaps away from the Shieldbearer and runs for the board corner. The Shikome takes advantage of Shenlong having Poison on him to charge in, but fails to actually achieve anything useful. In return, Shenlong kills it (scoring Dig their Graves in the process) and Ikiryo. The central Shieldbearer plies the Monk of Low River for information and the Doxy pushes Anna around. The Monk of Low River puts down a scheme marker by healing Shenlong. I realise that I need to drain Michael’s hand if I am to deal with the Wandering River Monk; luckily I have a couple of decent crows in hand so the Belle Lures the Ten Thunder Brother to her, getting the discard trigger both times. A Shieldbearer knocks him down to a single wound and Anna kills the Wandering River Monk now that he can’t Butterfly Jump to safety. I score again for Ply For Information.

Turn 4: The Ten Thunder Brother flees and drops a scheme marker, presumably for Covert Breakthrough. A Shieldbearer Plies Shenlong for Information but is immediately killed by him. Asura and another Shieldbearer move up and put down scheme markers for my own Covert Breakthrough. The Doxy Plies Shenlong, and the Belle Lures the Ten Thunder Brother back, killing him with a Pounce to get Dig Their Graves. I score again for the strategy.

Turn 5: The Doxy Plies Shenlong again, so he kills her. Anna Plies him instead. The Monk of Low River removes one of my scheme markers and my Shieldbearer puts down another to replace it. Resurrectionists win 10 – 5 (full score for me; 3 for Dig Their Graves and 2 for Covert Breakthrough for Michael).

That was a tough game right from the start; I thought I was in for a very rough ride when I lost Kirai in turn one. I had considered trying to leave Yasunori alive at the end of turn one so that I could possibly Ply him at the start of turn two, but on balance I think that was probably too risky. I was able to hang on for the rest of the game, but I think that Michael might have forgotten that Peons can be Plied For Information which would probably have impacted the margin if not the result. Michael’s game is getting better and better, but I do slightly wonder about some of his crew picks; notably the Tengu didn’t really seem to serve much purpose here.

Game 3: Resurrectionists (me) vs Guild (Lewis Philips)

Strategy: Ours, Corner Deployment

Schemes
Pool: Guarded Treasure, Set Up, Take one for the Team, Recover Evidence, Hold up their forces
Resurrectionists: Guarded Treasure, Take one for the Team (Dead Doxy)
Guild: Guarded Treasure, Set Up (Asura Roten)

Crews
Resurrectionists: Reva (Maniacal Laugh, Beyond Death, Decaying Aura), Asura Roten, Carrion Emissary (Carrion Conflux), Guild Autopsy, 3 Shieldbearers, Dead Doxy
Guild: Nellie Cochrane (Guild Funds, Misleading Headlines, Delegation), Printing Press, Phiona Gage (Wrath of the Guild, Debt to the Guild), Alison Dade (Transparency), Executioner (Ready to Work), Big Jake, Thallarian Queller, Guild Guard

I have very little experience playing Ours, but I decided that a summoner would probably be wasted here since Lewis is too experienced not to just leave my summoned models alone and instead kill the scoring pieces. So with that and the corner deployment I decided to try out Reva as she can project damage a long way across the board. I went for both Asura and Carrion Emissary not only to summon Mindless Zombies but also to give them something to do once they were suitable gumming up the Guild crew. I didn’t like any of the schemes here and it showed. I chose Guarded Treasure but I read the rules wrong and didn’t realise until we were part way through the game that I was making it very hard for myself to score on it. After a bit of indecision I also picked Take One For The Team on the Dead Doxy; it was nearly on the Guild Autopsy instead and I got mixed up about which I’d chosen.

Turn 1: The Press gives Nellie Evidence, the Doxy pushes Reva forward and the Queller drops a Suppression marker in the middle of the board. Nellie makes both Phiona and the Executioner Fast and passes some activations so that she can get the drop on me. The Emissary puts Shards down in the middle of the board and eventually Lewis decides that he won’t get the alpha strike he’s looking for and moves up the Executioner rather more cagily.

Turn 2: The Executioner drops a Mindless Zombie who has wandered in to engage him then charges the Emissary leaving my big bird feeling rather poorly. Reva fails to kill Phiona thanks to a timely Black Joker on her last attack. The Press again gives Nellie Evidence and she chain activates; I’m forced to use my good cards to stop her from making the Executioner kill the Emissary. In fairness I’d somehow forgotten that she could do that or I might have used the Emissary earlier. We move our cheaper models around to score and I start to get a weight of Mindless Zombies into annoying positions. Big Jake saunters over into a corner and starts dropping scheme markers. Phiona eventually spends her activation mowing down Corpse Candles and Mindless Zombies. We both score for Ours and Lewis scores Guarded Treasure but I don’t because I didn’t read all the requirements… oops!

Turn 3: Reva finally kills Phiona. The Press again gives Nellie Evidence and she kills the Emissary between her own attacks and free swings from the Executioner. The Executioner kills the Doxy and I forget to announce Take One For the Team (I’d got in my head that it was instead on the Guild Autopsy); more on this below. Asura and one of the Shieldbearers gang up to kill the Executioner in return. Once again both score for Ours and Lewis scores Guarded Treasure.

Turn 4: A Shieldbearer makes a start attacking Nellie, mainly in the hope of draining Lewis’s hand. Reva completely fails to do anything at all to her. The rest of the turn is just moving our models about to try to score Ours, which we both do and Lewis gets his third VP for Guarded Treasure.

Turn 5: As usual, the Press gives Nellie some Evidence and she scoots over to my right corner of the board. Reva kills the Guild Guard and the Shieldbearers kill the annoying Printing Press. I score for Ours and, finally, Guarded Treasure. With the last action of the game, Nellie drops a scheme marker near Asura to pick up a point for Set Up on her.

Wow, what a game. Lewis is a really strong opponent and I’m always pleased to play him. He used Nellie to her strengths and had a clear plan to wipe out my big stuff early on with her, Phiona and the Executioner, then play defensively for the second half of the game to deny me any chance for Take One For The Team. I was especially impressed by his play of Set Up; he left it to the last minute to score it so that the threat of me handing over two or even three VPs for Take One For The Team was always there. From my side, my inexperience with Reva showed. I spent too much effort getting rafts of Mindless Zombies around and not enough time actually doing anything useful with them. I would have been better served focussing Reva’s attacks on the Executioner as his raw stats are worse than Phiona’s but I got too caught up in getting use out of Decaying Aura. The Shieldbearers were really good; nothing flashy but they were always an annoying threat to do a bit of damage and they are such a pain in the neck to remove without a really dedicated fighter that it just wasn’t worth the bother of anyone attacking them.

The big point of this game was my forgetting to declare Take One For The Team when the Executioner killed the Dead Doxy. When I realised at the end of the game I discussed this with Lewis as, obviously, I wanted to have the VP for it. We agreed to ask Kai as TO and he ruled in my favour. Having had time to think on this now, I believe that actually Kai should have ruled in favour of Lewis in this case; the rules clearly state that the scheme should be revealed once it is scored. And while I don’t think that there was any big impact on the rest of the game play (Lewis didn’t have anything that could really have killed my stuff by that point so it wasn’t like he had to work hard to avoid killing anything else and risking me having the scheme still active) it still meant an unpleasant surprise for Lewis at the end as he thought that he had the game in the bag. Lewis took this frustration admirably and we’ve spoken since so that I could apologise for this. I think that Kai ruled in my favour partly because he understood that it was a genuine mistake on my side but also because he didn’t want to be seen to favour his club-mate; I’m very grateful to him to have made a ruling at all. Fate restored itself as Lewis went on to win his last game and take first place overall.

Game 4: Resurrectionists (me) vs Ten Thunders (Dave Laing)

Strategy: Symbols of Authority, Standard Deployment

Schemes
Pool: Punish the Weak, Set Up, Inescapable Trap, Take Prisoner, Public Demonstration
Resurrectionists: Punish the Weak, Take Prisoner (Kamaitachi)
Ten Thunders: Set Up (Izamu), Public Demonstration (Izamu with all three Yokai)

Crews
Resurrectionists: Molly Squidpiddge (Forgotten Path, Take Back The Night, Wronged Spirits), Izamu the Armour (Unnerving Aura), Hannah (Unnerving Aura), Anna Lovelace, Rotten Belle, Dead Doxy, Graveyard Spirit
Ten Thunders: Asami Tanaka (Nefarious Pact, Borrowed Time, A Heavenly Design), Katanaka Crime Boss (Equality), Monk of Wandering River, Ten Thunder Brother, Tanuki, Kamaitachi, 3 Yokai

I was feeling quite tired here so I chose to pick my round one crew (except removing the Onryo for a Belle) simply on the basis that I might be able to autopilot my way to some VPs due to familiarity. The main plan was to push up the centre then send summoned models out to pick off the side Symbols. I picked Take Prisoner on the Kamaitachi as I figured it would be something that I could safely not attack, then summon something to it at the end. Punish The Weak was chosen since it plays into my normal style of killing things first and asking if anyone has any questions later on.

Turn 1: The Doxy pushes Molly forward and the Wandering River Monk puts scheme marker precisely in the middle of the semicircle of Yokai. This is so that when they activate they’ll also pick up a Poison from the Tanuki and therefore enable extra jank with their end-of-turn placing. The Kamaitachi pushes Asami forward. Molly moves up and drops a Goryo near Asami who kills it with a Focus attack and summons a Yokai. The hired Yokai crowd round Izamu, placing here and there due to the Poison and scoring Public Demonstration for an easy three VP.

Turn 2: A Yokai hurts Hannah. Molly summons a Goryo and Hanged then chain activate Izamu who fails to kill the Katanaka Crime Boss when I flip a Black Joker on the second attack. This turns out to be quite important as I’d forgotten that they have Calls Unto The Chi, so most of that good work is immediately undone and Izamu takes a thorough beating for his troubles. The Doxy kills one of the Yokai and pushes Hannah, but Asami teleports over and kills Hannah in a single go. Anna shoots at the Ten Thunder Brother on her side and the Yokai flail rather ineffectively at the Hanged. Somewhere in there the Ten Thunders dropped a few scheme markers and score Set Up on Izamu for two VPs.

Turn 3: The Katanaka Crime Boss finishes both Izamu and the Goryo. Molly drops Whispered Secret on Asami to make her a bit more manageable and summons a second Hanged which chain activates to Paralyse Asami. Sadly, the Kamaitachi dies as a result of all of Molly’s summoning (and probably some incidental Black Blood). A Yokai collects my Symbol in the middle. The Doxy drops a second Yokai and the other Hanged kills the Crime Boss. Even the Graveyard Spirit gets in to stack a few wounds on Asami. My notes confirm that I score Punish The Weak here but I can’t work out how.

Turn 4: Molly puts Whispered Secret on Asami again and hurts the Tanuki. The Hanged kills Asami and the Tanuki stabs the Hanged, dying to Black Blood in the process (I think that this was deliberate to avoid giving up Punish the Weak). The Hanged and Ten Thunder Brother get Symbols.

Turn 5. The Ten Thunder Brother hides so that Anna can’t kills him for Punish The Weak, then the Dead Doxy and Wandering River Monk both remove a Symbol each. Resurrectionists lose 3 – 9 (2 for Symbols of Authority and 1 for Punish The Weak for me; 4 for Symbols of Authority, 3 for Public Demonstration and 2 for Set Up for Dave).

A well-deserved win for Dave who outplayed me quite thoroughly. As always we were joking and chatting through the game and I’m delighted for any opportunity to match up with him. I took the wrong crew for this encounter entirely as it was just too easy for Dave to spread out and deny my summoning. I didn’t have anything fast to go for the outer Symbols and should have realised that I would be held up in the centre for too long to go for them after mopping up. I don’t own any Necropunks but perhaps I should have tried Crooligans to work the edges (though I don’t have any experience with Horror Molly). Or maybe even just hired a pair of Goryo to make use of their crazy speed and gone up the flanks; they could have probably outfought the Ten Thunder Brother and Wandering River Monk on the way if needed. Clearly the Kamaitachi was a poor choice for Take Prisoner so that is a lesson that I can learn.

So once we’re all done I come in 8th place (of 20) which feels quite good considering that I don’t think I played particularly well in any of the matches. Thanks as always to Stewart, Michael, Lewis and Dave for four fun games of Malifaux and of course to Kai for his tireless work to promote the game here and run the events.

I’ve been feeling a bit unenthusiastic about Malifaux for the last few months (probably this is why it’s taken me so long to write up this tournament report) and I’m not sure if I’m burned out on the game or the competitive aspect. I’ve also had the feeling lately that the current edition is quite bloated with confusing rules and could probably benefit from another round of flattening such as the way that the ME1.5 to ME2 was handled; it is quite hard to teach the game to new people in my gaming group as there are so many moving parts for them to learn. In the short term I’m going to take a bit of a break from events and play a couple of other good systems with friends so we’ll see if my mojo comes back. I already have my ticket for the Scottish GT so I’ll surely be there.

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