Tuesday, 28 February 2017

The grand re-launch / Cheeky Swines tournament

So the great blog re-launch. Been a while since I posted on here and I thought I might try again. Brief catch-up, still playing Malifaux focusing more on Outcasts and Ten Thunders, but I’ve also played some Drop zone Commander and Drop Fleet Commander too. This blog will mostly focus on tournament write up rather than tactica style entries, but there may be the odd one of those. 

For my write ups I’m going to try less turn by turn re-hashing of what I did but try to focus more on what I took, why I took it, what worked and what didn’t.  That way, hopefully, people who play Faux might learn something new too.

 So for the grand relaunch I’ll focus on the tournament I played in last weekend, Cheeky Swine. Run by the ever cheerful Mcfauxish (seriously if you exclude Facebook rants about people driving without their lights on in fog, I think he’s always happy). Held in Sanctuary Gaming centre (which is inside an old church, looks epic but my god is it cold!!) This was a standard 50ss, three round tournament.  I’m getting some more practise in with Ten Thunders at the moment as I’ll be using them again at the first international team championships later this year (more on that in later blogs).
In typical Mid Table Obscurity blog fashion though I failed to take any photographs of the games. Something I must get better at.

Round 1 vs. Owen Pauling (Arcanists)
Extraction / Standard Deployment: Claim Jump, Dig Their Graves, Leave Your Mark, Undercover Entourage, Last Stand.

I’ve been on a bit of Lynch trip recently and unlike other factions I don’t think that any particular Ten Thunder master is significantly better at a strategy than another one, so I opted to play Lynch. I’ve been trying to come up with tactics for the various suited schemes as clearly they are going to crop up more. For Leave Your Mark I’ve found that the wave 3 Wandering River Monks are very strong. They’ve the speed to get into the heart of the enemy’s board half and drop a scheme marker in turn two, but are also fairly hard to pin down. Their butterfly leap meaning that attacking them at range can be tricky and they’re more than a match for a typical scheme runner. That said they’ll fold like paper to a mid-tier beater.  I used to be an advocate for the Endless Hunger upgrade for Huggy, but I’ve recently been trying out the Rising Sun one instead. 3AP Huggy was good but you had to be cautious not to expose him too easily, where as you can be more bold with burying Huggy, but I’ve found with only 2AP he sometimes doesn’t actually complete the job of killing. Arcanists can mean armour, so I added the Lone Swordsman into the crew for that too.  The shadow Emissary is good with Lynch for making Huggy fast. Then throw in some condition removal and healing. In the end my crew ended up being;   

Jakob Lynch – The Rising Sun, Woke Up With A Hand, The Peaceful Waters
Hungering Darkness – Recalled Training, Smoke Grenades
Shadow Emissary – Conflux of Hunger
The Lone Swordsman – Recalled Training
Shadow Effigy
Chiaki the Niece
Low River Monk
Wandering River Monk

Owen was playing Ironsides. He had a very enforcer heavy crew.  Without going into all the upgrades he took, because I can’t remember the various runes and ward that all the mages took he was running;  

3 x Oxfordian Mages
The Captain
Mechanical Rider

 A lot of casting attacks and a lot of counter spell on this crew, would make Huggy and Lynch’s job hard. I opted for Dig Their Graves, hoping the Shadow Effigy could chain activate before Lynch, Huggy or the Swordsman to drop a scheme marker ahead of them killing something, and Leave You Mark. The board had a lot of large buildings around the outside of the central square meaning the Wandering River Monk should have lots of cover to move down a flank into their deployment zone.  Owen also took Dig Their Graves and Last Stand, a pretty good choice given he had 6 models to count for the later one.    

From a game point of view it started badly. I lost both the Lone Swordsman and Low River Monk too easily to the furious casting mages. However this did have the advantage of tipping the model count in Owen’s favour which actually prevented him from scoring Last Stand on turn two.  Huggy did well despite the amount of casting attacks in Owen’s crew, and managed to recur once after Ironsides killed him. The Wandering River Monk was a star and single handily score Leave Your Mark as well as returning to the centre to drop two scheme markers turns 4 and 5 for Dig Their Graves. Poor positioning of an early scheme marker combine with Owen being careful never to go within 4” of it did hamper my early ability to Dig Their Graves until the Monk made a re-appearance from his trip into Owen’s board edge. However in the end I avoided Owen scoring more than 1vp on Last Stand by keeping my crew equal to or lower in model count than Owen’s and then eventually reduced him to below 3 enforcers.  In the end it was a narrow win for me. 

Round 2 vs. David Brown (Guild)
Head Hunter / Flank Deployment: Claim Jump, Accusation, Leave Your Mark, Undercover Entourage, Inspection.

When David declared Guild I was tempted by Mei Feng, since I really hate Sonia and Perdita, but I’m not feeling the love for her as much at the moment, but Huggy is a really bad match into Sonia as she gets +2 Ca due to his WP and then targets his Def 3 with a cast attack which negates his incorporeal. It typically ends in a dead Huggy in very short order. So I opted for for Shen Long. Half of Shen Long’s crew is self-picking, Sensei Yu is really strong with Shen and magnifies the pushes and shenanigans which he does with the Shadow Emissary and a Low River Monk for obscene card draw. I added Ohaguro for some killing power and a Wandering River Monk for scheme running. My final crew was;

Shen Long – Wandering River Style, The Peaceful Water
Sensei Yu – Promising Disciple
Shadow Emissary – Conflux of Dawn
Low River Monk
Wandering River Monk
Ohaguro Bettari – Recalled Training, A Taste For Flesh

 David actually declared Lady Justice and quite a nasty killing crew, An Executioner, Two Death Marshals and a Death Marshal Recruiter. His crew was;

Lady Justice
Death Marshal Recruiter
2 x Death Marshals
Witchling Stalker
2 x Guild Hounds
Brutal Effigy

I ended up selecting Undercover Entourage on Sensei Yu (with a walk of 7 and the potential for fast he can fly across the board late game to score from the relative safety of my side of the board) and Accusation, the plan being the Wandering River Monk could walk, leap then accuse. David had taken Leave Your Mark and Accusation.

David split his force on the two extremes of the flanks, Lady J and Executioner on one side, the Death Marshal trio on the other. I opted for a more central deployment. The first couple of turns was a feint down one flank to draw out Lady J and then the fast’s and pushing of Shen Long quickly redeployed away from her. We engaged the Death Marshals and through weight of attacks managed to kill all three before turn three, which gave me a lot of heads. I also perfected the trick of moving a peasant onto a head marker, so at the start of the following turn they picked it up after initiative. I also got the timing on making my models fast so that at the start of my turn two I had a fast ShenLong, Shadow Emissary and Ohaguro Bettari. Effectively moving three of my AP from turn one into turn two. Without realising it, by staying close to my deployment zone I’d prevented David from scoring his Leave Your Mark as his Watcher and Dogs were scared to enter the scoring zone. Turn four Sensei Yu sprinted from just outside my deployment zone into David’s for the full points. In the end it was a solid win for me.

Round 3 vs. Graham Allington (Arcanist)
Guard The Stash / Close Deployment: Claim Jump, Frame For Murder, Leave Your Mark, Hunting Party, Hidden Trap.

I’d dodge my fellow team mates in the previous round (there were two Yorkfaux vs Yorkfaux games in the round one winner bracket) but with three of us in the four people with two wins I ended up playing Graham. I switched back to Lynch for the game and took a similar crew to the first time but tried adding more darkened in the form of an illuminated. My final crew was;

Jakob Lynch – Woke Up With A Hand, The Rising Sun, Expert Cheater
Hungering Darkness – Recalled Training, Smoke Grenades
Shadow Emissary – Conflux of Hunger
The Lone Swordsman – Recalled Training
Chiaki The Niece
The Illuminated
Wandering River Monk

Graham took a fairly typical Ramos crew. The first 35 ish stones of the list is fairly fixed only alternating which model you take to generate the initial scrap.  Graham’s list was;

Howard Langston
Electrical Construct
Brass Arachnid

I pretty much know how the first turn goes against this crew. Joss turns the electrical construct into two scrap, Ramos summons two or three spiders, the Arachnid reactivates itself then typically Howard and Joss and finally once you’ve activated you crew Howard will delete a model of his choosing. My tactic was to try to choose who Howard deleted and then make sure I kill him. So the Wandering River Monk with Frame for Murder on it made a play to look like he was going for Leave Your Mark. I also took Hunting Party as all those spiders are good targets for that. Graham has also taken Frame For Murder of Howard as well as Hunting Party.

As I hoped Howard charged the Monk, but amazingly left him on 1 wound, so had to finish him off turn two before nimbling next to Huggy. Then Huggy failed to kill Howard but left him on one wound. The Emissary had to finish him off, which was lucky since it turned out to be Graham’s Frame For Murder, meaning we’d both scored 2vp. Graham also declared Hunting Party off the kill. This resulted in the Illuminated basically hiding the entire game to prevent Graham scoring the remaining two vps. However attrition wasn’t going well. Johan  killed the Swordsman before being killed by Lynch and Joss killed Chiaki. I lost control of one stash marker and only scored 2vp for the strategy. However I’d denied 3vp from Graham by only giving him two for Frame and hiding my remaining minion. In turn 5 I just needed to kill a single spider, with the Shadow Emissary for Hunting Party and I’d force the draw. Then the black joker happened. In the end I suffered a minor loss by 1vp. 

Overall I finished 4th, a little frustrated to have lost the last game due to the black joker (the draw would have seen me finish 2nd) but it was a good day with three enjoyable tactical games. There were some learnings from the day.
  • The Wandering River Monk is strong for scoring Leave Your Mark especially on a standard or close deployment. It easier to sneak down a flank in these deployment types to score. 
  • I really need to think more about what schemes my opponent is taking, Graham almost scored 3vp for Frame For Murder on me because I never considered Howard would be Frame For Murder and almost killed him with Huggy. 
  • I do want to try to get some more table time with Yasunori, past experience is I’ve over extended him too much and lost him early. 
  • Sensei Yu is strong for Undercover Entourage as long as you can keep him out of harms way for the first half of the game.
So that’s my first blog post for quite some time. Let see how long it is before my next.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

The obligatory "I'm not dead" update

I'll start this as everyone else does who's not posted on their blog for a while, I'm not Dead!! It's been almost 3 months since last I posted and there's been quite a lot of exciting developments.

Firstly I'm still playing Malifaux, and still representing the nation of the Three Kingdoms. I've branched out from Mei Feng and started using Lynch and McCabe a lot too and really enjoying them. Between them they've breathed new life into the faction for me. I do own a Ramos crew which I'm busy painting up so I might dip my toe into Arcanists for a little while but I'll always be a Ten Thunder player at heart.

Since fluking the best 10T general at the GT I've been to a number of tournaments. I wanted to improve and develop my skills. At the League of Extraordinary Henchmen (the side event for the Masters) my performance was pretty poor and I'm not afraid to say I wobbled on my commitment to the 10T, but success at the local clubs, as well as finally getting some games in with McCabe saw me stay the course. Then came Vappnatak. I entered the Malifaux tournament run by a friend and local Wyrd Henchman and came 4th out of 28. To say I was made up was an understatement, but a week later I went to Under the GasLamp III at Sheffield's Outpost, and came 2nd! This is the first time I've finished on three wins and also podiumed in Malifaux. So I'm currently on a real high!

I jokingly made the statement I was aiming for the best 10T player on rankings at the club, I still don't believe I will, there's some real competition with a couple of the top ranked players moving to 10T as well as the already skilled players from 2014, but you never know. At the moment I'm 23rd in the ranking and I'd love to finish in the top 25 for 2015.

Yes, I'm aware that finishing in the top 25 and podium does call into question the name of the blog, but "Lower half of the top 3rd obscurity" just doesn't roll off the tongue.

The next big thing for me is my, now becoming annual, trip to Adepticon. Once again taking full advantage of Geek Nation Tours to do all the hard organising logistics for flights, transfers and hotel. Teras does make it so easy and I can't recommend his service enough. This year however I'm not playing in 40K but Malifaux. It's got me a little worried but I'm hoping the Malifaux group at Adepticon are every bit as friendly as the 40K lot were. I've got tickets into the story encounter and masters tournament and hope to put in a good performance for the Brits.  The other two days they run team or doubles event and without easy access to a partner or team I've opted for some seminars. I might still go along to the hall at start time to see if anyone needs an extra player, but otherwise I'll be learning Green Stuff and Air Brush basics.

There is also a new team based league starting up in the UK, and York has put in a team so I'm now a member of Yorkfaux, well actually because I turned my notification off on WhatsApp for a morning for meetings at work on the day they announced we need to nominate a captain for each team , I'm not the Captain !! Thanks lads, definitely a case of last man to take a step back. We're still waiting for the details to be finalised before we start setting up match days against the other team in our division, but I'm really looking forward to it.

And that's about it, I've got a lot of painting to do before Adepticon (where is Brian volunteering to paint all the models when you need him?) but I should get it all done in time. I hope to post some pictures of my crew here. I'm not a great painter but they're pretty good from a distance.

As always I'd love to hear comments and feedback so I know you people are actually reading this :)

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Year in Review / Plans for 2015

So as 2014 draws to a close its time to reflect on the year and thoughts for the future.

At the start of 2014 it was all about 40k. I attended Caledonia Uprising and through no fault of the organiser it wasn't the greatest of weekends. My army faced a series of opponents it just couldn't handle and 3 of the 5 games played were very one sided, the type of game I just don't enjoy. That said I had a blast at the Caledonia Open on the Friday night messing around with 1000pts of Tyranids with Dave Williams as a double act. We still lost most of the games but had a laugh doing it.

Yorkshire Open was next and with Forge World, Escalation and Stronghold Assault allowed it further eroded my enjoyment of 40K. I've said it before but if you want to play Apocalypse, play Apocalypse! Titans (and I'm counting Knights in that) and AV15 buildings have NO place in 40K.

However after that was Adepticon XII, and although I didn't do as well as the previous year in the Championship, I did enjoy the games and my opponents. What really made Adepticon for me was the team tournament. Teaming with Brian, Lee and Dano has to be one of my all time 40K highlights. I had a blast, the games were fun (even some of the one sided ones) but it was the team banter that really made the event. Team Supertrooper was a blast to be part of and I'd happily team with them again, even it meant going back to 40K (more on that later). However I think next time Brian won't be so keen to volunteer to paint over 200 marines, mind you it looked stunning as an army and with a few vehicles to round it off I imagine will be a great sight in Brian's game back in Canada.

Coming back from Adepticon and it was the release of 7th edition of 40K. They didn't fix any of the broken stuff, introduced the bullsh!t which is Eldar summoning Daemons, forced apocalypse units onto people and basically finished off the rot of 40K they'd started with 6th edition. Basically GW ruined a game I've loved for over 20 years, sad times.

I very briefly toyed with 30K (and I've still got 20 Iron Warriors to build) but since it's core is still 40K's rule set I wasn't held.

However it's replacement wasn't far behind it. After a demo at the Garrison by our local Henchman (Chris) I fell in love with Malifaux.

I picked the Ten Thunders as a faction since I love the visuals of ninjas and samurai in model range. I started off taking part in a few fixed master leagues both a Garrison and then Guppies. For the first I used Misaki, for the later Mei Feng. This gave me a good grounding in the rules and my masters but I think Mei Feng won the battle as she has become my go to master.

So armed with my new skillz I entered some tournaments. First off was Not a Bad Thing. An awesome tournament and well organised. I enjoyed the games but its fair to say I was terrible! I finished 26th out of 27 players. Not the greatest start to my Malifaux experience, but the fact I still had fun at the games was a good sign. I struggled to finish game in the allowed time and didn't really seen the tricks to the Thunder.

There were a few more tournaments, Malifaux Station @ Santuary Games and Halifaux. I slowly got better, starting to win games as well as finish them within time, but my faith in them was tested and I did get fairly negative. It was all building towards the largest Malifaux tournament in the world ... the GT!!

So in November I attend the Malifaux UK GT 2014. The highlight of the Malifaux season and another highlight of the year for me. Taking place in my home town made travel and accommodation simple. It was 66 players of awesome win, well run and a joy to take part in. I had six really enjoyable games and somehow managed to scoop top Ten Thunders player in the awards ceremony too. It was an awesome end to the tournament year which had seen me loose faith in one system only to find another one.

So what had 2014 taught me? Well for one team or doubles games are awesome with the right mates. I had a blast at both Caledonia Open and Adepticon Team tournaments and definately need to get more team action in.

2015 has some great times install for me. Mike (the GT organiser) is putting together a team leagues across the country and Yorkfaux have stepped up. Myself, Bennett, Graham, Martin, Sam and Nathan (oh and the team Mascot Chris ;) ) We've already got team t-shirt (another fun part of the Adepticon team tournament too) and the inter team banter has already started.

I'm definitely going to the GT in November as well as travelling to Adepticon again, this time for Malifaux rather than 40K, but also to catch up with friends made from previous years, and hopefully make some new ones.

I'll probably do another post later in the month with more aims for 2015, but for the time being I'll end this one.

2014 - Had highs and lows, lost one system but found a new one.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

The UK 2014 Malifaux GT

Been a month since my last post but I've been busy building and painting for the 2014 UK Malifaux GT. I'd actually signed up for this after only playing Malifaux for a month, but it was being held at my home club of York Garrison so it seemed rude not too.
In the end there were 66 players at the event, which I'm led to believe made it the largest Malifaux tournament in the world.
The event was run awesomely, there was a HUGE pile of prize support and in my favourite move most of it was being given away as spot prizes or in a raffle giving everyone an opportunity to win something. That's not to say there weren't prizes for the winners, there were trophies for 1st, 2nd and 3rd as well as best in factions, two best painted and a best costume award too. Once again I epically failed with the camera, totally forgetting to take pictures in half my games.

Before going to this tournament I'd set myself some goals for the weekend. I knew I was never going to win the thing, I'm just not that good, but I wanted something to aim for and set a bar for what could be accomplished. So I set myself three simple goals.
  • Get two win (out of six matches)
  • Complete a game within the allotted time without being tabled
  • Finish the weekend with a diff of -10 or better. 
To give some context to these, in my first three tournaments I've only two games, so two wins in one weekend isn't straight forward, especially as everyone would be bringing their A game to the biggest Malifaux tournament ever!
So with the overview complete its time to move onto the games.

Game 1 vs. Adam Wheeler (Tara) - Turf War / Standard

Never played against Tara, so an up hill struggle for my first game. I knew she has tricks involving buried models and was worried about a Killjoy bomb given my previous experience with him, luckily for me Adam declared her as Resurrectionist and didn't take Killjoy. I took a fairly standard Mei Feng crew with The Damiyo, Chaki, Rail Workers and Tengu. Mei Feng was a beast! but it was a Rail Worker who opened the door. Catching Tara with two severe damages after triggering it's (0) action knocked her down hard and allowed Mei to Rail Walk in and finish the job. She went on to drop the Construct, Hanged and a Crooligan and pretty much tear the heart of the crew. The trapper on the roof of very tall building did cause some issues, before a summoned Komainu teleported into base contact and gave Mei a route to railwalk into an attack. The game ended 10 - 3 to me and it started the weekend off on a high.

Game 2 vs. Greg Piskosz (Pandora) - Stake a Claim / Corner

Neverborn, I've never won a single game against Neverborn and from comments Greg is very good with them. After much back and forth debate I ended up taking Yann Lo. What cost me in this was the Strategy, Greg just ran away with it. I managed to slow him down a little when Chiaki turned a Silurid insignificant before it had the opportunity to drop a stake marker, and deny him a point on turn two, but by the end of turn three he had four claim markers to my one. The crew I'd chosen was too slow, so I just focused on the schemes. Yann Lo did manage to make them suffer with ease. Each turn melting the face off a minion with spirit barrage. I might have gotten away with it picking up three points for Make them Suffer and a further two more for Breakthrough, but unfortunately Greg was running Vendetta against Chiaki and on turn five caught her with his effigy to score two points (pandora had to finish her off). In the end it was 5 - 8 to Greg. A score which a few people told me wasn't to be sniffed at against a good opponent.

Game 3 vs.  Connor Barker (Somner) - Recon / Flank
Time to play another of the Malifools cast. Recon versus the Gremlin summoning engine and pigapult to throw them all over the board, this was an uphill struggle. There were a few tricked I'd come up with after facing similar and one was a Katanaka Sniper to take out the slop hauler. Sadly Connor foiled this somewhat by bringing two in his crew. Still with the first activation the sniper drew a bead and shot one stone cold dead. However Gracie using saddle and re-activate managed to deliver Francois LaCroix right into melee with the Sniper, however in a rather odd moment he red jokered the damage doing twelve points of damage to the sniper, who took five down to his hard to kill and watched as Francois took six himself. In the second turn the Sniper managed to finish off Francois in melee before being shot in the back by a Bayou Gremlin. Mei Feng swooped into to kill off Gracie for Murder Protege over two turns (after having spent the first turn failing to rail walk for all three APs). The major turning point was when Mei charged into the summoning engine in a round of combat using scolding breath managed to kill the three Bayou Gremlins, slop hauler and the Pigapult, effectively shutting down the engine. However a lot of the damage had already been done as Connor had scored most of the Recon points and denied me a few times. He'd also scored his Breakthrough and Plant Explosives despite a sterling effort from the two Tengu who were cleansing the earth of scheme markers all over the board. In the end I scrapped a draw from the game finishing 8 - 8 in an enjoyable game, and I was really glad to have faced Connor on day one and not day two when he was painted green and wearing a black tank top *shudder*

Game 4 vs Matt Ledgerwood (Nicodem) - Reckoning / Standard
I'd never played Nicodem before but understood him to be a nasty summoner. However generally in reckoning you don't want to be summoning that much as it creates models to kill. Matt took an elite crew with Izamu, Rogue Necromancy, Valedictorian, Belle and a Shikome. Nicodem basically seem to give everyone a [+] to everything from attacks, defence casting, damage. It quickly became clear my Yann Lo crew simply couldn't affect them at all. All attempts to attack the crew were fruitless and I have to admit I became a little disheartened. However there were some moments. Matt's crew actually killed 4 models in a single turn, gutting my crew but effectively meaning he didn't score reckoning in any other turn. When the Valedictorian made an assassination run on Yann Lo he simply misdirected the attack onto the nearby Tengu who was my frame for murder target netting me three vps. Yann Lo then spent the rest of the game running from combat summon back ancestors to throw in the way of his attackers. We'd both taken Bodyguard so, for me Kang also went on the defencive, which included Yann Lo making him a sprit to give him Armour +2. He was reduced to below half wounds stealing a vp, but survived the game. Remarkably the final score was 5 - 4 to me. I really thought I'd lost this one and does show I need to get better at not being so pessimistic and fighting all games to the last activation.

Still it meant I finished Day 1 on two wins, a draw and a loss. So I'd already completed two of my goals and with a differential of +5 I was in a strong position for the other one.

Game 5 vs. Nate Zettle (Collette) -Squatters Rights / Standard
Day two and my original opponent may have partied a little too hard the night before and as such was late arriving for the event, as such there was a little last minute re-arranging and I was facing Nate. Side note- Nate ran Not a Bad Thing, the first Malifaux tournament I'd been to and until the GT it was the best of the tournaments too, its still sitting pretty at #2 for me against the GT (and lets face it any tournament is going to struggle to beat this monster). Nate was using Collette, another master I'd never seen, but the star in his crew were two Coryphee who quickly combined together. I simply couldn't handle them. Plus my deck REALLY hated me in this game, flipping terribly when ever I attacked, Mei Feng burning her recalled training failed to hit with any other her three attacks in one turn. Nate had quickly tied up six vps when Cassandra movement shenanigan'ed into my back corner and dropped two scheme markers for Bodyguard and Breakthrough. However an amazing turn from a Tengu being made fast by Damiyo, teleporting to a Scheme marker and then flying 15" to land between them and remove with cleanse away the markers did catch Nate out a little, but Cassandra managed to drop two more. In the end it was a draw which I was fairly happy with 8 - 8. I was just hoping my deck played nice on my final game.

Game 6 vs. Ben Halford (Molly) - Turf War / Flank
Finaly round and I was facing Molly, I've played against her seriously once (Sorry Bennett the early game against you doesn't really count as neither of us knew what we were doing), so I know her summoning of Punk Zombie is a royal pain. I was however facing ressers in turf war, time to break out Kang, two archers and blot the sky and see how it faired. It faired ok, it wasn't until turn four when Ben targetted the archers, prior to that they were causing some havoc with rapid fire and blot the sky. Ben easily delivered a message on Mei Feng as she leapt into combat only for a dead doxy to teleport to her. But a fast Ashigaru managed to deliver mine back, only I'd not announced it. We both scored three vps for breakthrough too, but it was turf war which decided the game and the archers shut ben out, killing anything that ventured into the centre, so I scored three and he scored zero on it. In the end it was a close 7 - 6 win to me.

So I finished on three wins, two draws and a loss and some how manage to get this, best Ten Thunders player. I'm still in genuine shock as to how I pulled this off, but I think a lot of my fellow 10T players were on three win, three losses.

This was a great way to top off what was a really enjoyable weekend of gaming. Much congratulations to all involved in running an awesome event and I already want to book my ticket to next years.

In other Malifaux related news, I'm writing this the night before another tournament in Stockport, having just booked onto two Malifaux events at Adepticon 2015, so plenty more tournaments to go (there's a chance there's three before Adepticon too). Plus I've been playing with Jacob Lynch recently and enjoying this new Ten Thunders master.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Ringers, Byes and the Odd Man out

I've been three tournaments for Malifaux now and thoroughly enjoyed them all. In two of them the TO was faced with the issue of an odd number of players turning up. There are really two ways to handle this.

The Bye approach

Fairly simple, one player doesn't get a game each round and instead is awards some point. The issues with this what to give them? A win? A Draw? Surely not a Loss? Malifaux has an added complication of the differential in VPs which is often used to break ties. What differential should they be given? Personally I'm really not a fan of this approach. If I've bought a ticket, travelled for a couple of hours I really would like to get the three or four games that were advertised. Now I realise its no fault of the TO, but still I'd feel a little cheated if I was forced to sit in a corner for 90 minutes while everyone else got to play.

Bring Out the Ringer!

This is the other solution, the TO lines up someone as a stand in to play in the event of an odd number of players. Often this is one of the organisers and doesn't play to take part, as such is excluded from winning anything. I do however have one major issues with this. Typically the ringer is one of the team of people organising the tournament, or a fellow club member of the TO. Because tournaments are often put on by the better Malifaux players it often transpires that the ringer is quite a good player. Excluding the first round, where its all determined randomly, the ringer is normally put up against the bottom placed player to avoid them interfering in the race for the podium. That's where the problem occurs. Certainly for game three onwards the bottom player is there for a reason, they've lost all their games. To put them up against a player who would normally be in the top half of the table if they were playing in the tournament is a little unfair. But also can't be that fun for the ringer either to basically stomp someone isn't really a game.

One solution I though of was after the first round (since this randomly allocated) the Ringer is playing with a pre-determined crew. The crew is worked out in advance with full knowledge of the schemes and strategy that will be played, but without knowing the opponents faction. Then, and here's the really kicker, is presented to their opponent BEFORE he selects his crew. If I'm right this is a win win. The bottom player gets to engineer a crew to try to counteract some of the nastier tricks the opponent might have and hopefully pull a moral boosting win out of the bag, the ringer get to play a challenging match against someone who maybe wouldn't have posed much of an issue otherwise. They find themselves in a nasty match up against a possible hard counter to their crew, which will challenge them as a player and give them some tough competition.

This is all theoretical at the moment, never actually tried it and it does assume that the ringer is an above average player in the local scene.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Tournament Write Up - Halifaux II

So another weekend, another tournament. This time it was Halifaux II in, no prizes for guessing, Halifax. So far my tournament track record isn't good. I've manage only two wins and a draw from the seven tournament games I've played, and I think the win at Sanctuary was against a player even newer to the game than me. 

Halifaux was four rounds of escalating soul stone levels. The first two were 30 & 35 stone henchman lead games with the last two 40 & 50 stones. I'm not sure how much of a fan of Henchman led games I am currently, I'm not sure the henchman are even as balance as the masters are (and see my previous post for how I don't think the masters are balanced). 

Game one versus Gremlins and I take the two Tengu and speedy Torekage planned out here. It actually works relatively well however the Gremlins were able to counter most of my stake makers in subsequent turns. Score full points on breakthrough and with the help of both Damiyo and the Super Weasel pushing him along a wk4 Railworker manged to drop power ritual in my corner and then move the entire diagonal, stopping off near the middle to help kill Burt, to not only drop a scheme in the opposite corner but also remove my opponents corner marker to deny him power ritual. In the end I won this one 7 - 3 and was quietly pleased with myself, sadly it wasn't to last.

Game two versus Gremlins, again. This time is was turf war and close deployment. My cunning plan for this one failed spectacularly due to three things. When setting up my crew I noticed the [+] to flips from Damiyo to minions was only for melee attacks, thus significantly down powering the two Thunder Archers I took. Secondly the archers seem incapable of flipping more than 5 or 6 on every attack them made, and thirdly I'd failed to read that the (2) shooting attack which they were often using and getting for free at the end of the turn due to my Blot The Skies upgrade, didn't need LOS and could therefore have targeted the three Gremlins hiding behind the large ht3 wall scoring for Turf War. My two Tengu being ripped apart in a single turn due to some perfect flipping by McTavish. The scenery didn't help either as Damiyo got boxed in so he could make a run for the deployment zone for entourage. Basically I got pummelled and lost 4 - 8.

Game three and the masters came out to play. Still not had any practise with Yan Lo and I still don't think Miskai can really hang with the tournament crews so it was Mei Feng for me. I was facing the Neverborn Dreamer, a master I've never seen before. In reconnoiter I really shouldn't have bother with the Scheme at all, Dreamer just kept summoning in more in and more stuff. Where is the balance in a crew that appears to be easily able to summon two more crew members each turn? Pretty much from turn two I'd lost this one with the Dreamer summoning in minions to bog down my models and secure table quarters. I didn't score for a single turn on the strategy. I did manage two points for killing the Widow Weaver with Mei Feng for murder protege and Mei Feng survived the entire game, but I did give up two vps by forgetting to soul stone prevent damage on Damiyo in the final turn killing him off a protect territory marker. In the end I lost this 8 - 3 against another master I personally think is on a higher power level than mine. 

Game four and I'm facing Gremlins, again! This time is was the clock that caused the most issues with me only getting to the end of turn three. I scored protect territory fairly easily and managed two turn of squatters rights but the pool selection for the other scheme was terrible (Plant Explosives, Make the Sufer and Distact) so I'd taken make them suffer but couldn't get either of my Henchmen or Mei Feng into the minions. I tried to kill the sow, but in the end it was the burning condition from Mei Feng which finished it off and I didn't realise I could kill the pigs this produced for murder protege, still it would only have been one more point. I think if this game had been a longer game in the garrison I'd have won it since my heavy hitters had taken out most if his henchmen and enforcers and were all baring down in the Bayou Gremlins, but it wasn't to be and I lost again, this time 5 - 7

Overall another pretty dismal performance, I wouldn't say my losses were close, in most cases I just couldn't compete with the opponents crews which reinforces my belief that Mei Feng and Misaki just aren't tournament masters, not if I ever want to get a couple of win, let alone threaten the podium. There was some learning from the games and I think against future Gremlin faction games I'm tempted to take a Katanaka Sniper so that if I'm deploying second I can see where the slop hauler is and shot it first turn. However it would require severe damage flip to kill in a single shot so I'm not sure, even with a focus, it can reliably do this. 

Loosing the faith a little more with Ten Thunders as I contiue to struggle against almost all other crews, don't want to swap to another faction but it does look like if I want any success in 2015 Adepticon I might have to. I'll definitely stick to them for the remainder of 2014, I've got one tournament book, another one possible and the GT this year, I'd love to actually win a few more games to give me a bit of an ego lift but we'll have to seen.

Oh one final note, if you don't already I'd recommend the Before We Begin podcast. It a really good format and episode ten features yours truly give his views and limit experience of tournament and how to prepare for them, more from a new player than from any position of knowledge you understand.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Power Scale, Counters and balance

Having come from a game where power creep was a thing and there were, due to an appalling lack of internal balance and in my mind play testing, a clear hierarchy of armies in terms of their power, I've been interested recently by a lot of tweets, blogs and podcasts in the last couple of weeks discussing relative faction power and "brokeness".

First off, Malifaux is a significantly more balanced game than anything GW has produced. It works well at the casual level and so far, touch wood, appears to work well in tournaments. Although I'm very much aware I've never really troubled the top table players where all the filth and broken combos might be hiding.

That said all is not equal in the world of Malifaux in my mind and there is definitely a couple of tiers of power. There is one main reason which make a master powerful, synergy. From what I've found the main thing to concentrate on is playing your game, executing your plan whilst watching out for opportunities to maybe throw a spanner in the opponents plans. Some masters and crew combine together to make a fairly awesome strategy if they get going. Examples I've seen include
  • Hoffman powerball of death
  • Ramos spider spam
  • McMourning poison bomb
  • Rasputina's spell assault 
  • Nicodem's summoning machine
There are obviously others. It basically when a crew are all pulling in the same direction. Generating the resource that the master or other crew members use to execute the power used to further the plan.

Another trick which makes crews powerful is an defencive ability which prevents the opponent from playing their game. Crews which can bring a lot of armour, incorporeal or hard to wound can really throw a spanner in the works.

One comment I've heard made is that all these synergies have a counter. Sometime it taking out a key member of the crew, which isn't always the master. Sometime its another ability which counters the powerful one. However with most events running fixed faction I don't agree with this. Given you don't know which master your opponent is playing against you (unless they only own a single one and you happened to spot it on his tray or an earlier game) you won't know which counters you need to take.

Although each faction has a general trend, Resurrectionist will be undead, hard to wound and probably summon for example that's not always the case. Take Guild, will you be facing the high armour and constructs of Hoffman? the melee power of Lady J or the ranged firepower of the Family? Without knowing this you really can't plan against them or take the required counters that people are always going about or you'll end up taking a handful of each defence and fail to stop the chosen tactic of the enemy as it overwhelms your small defence. So I'm not a fan of this "every synergy crew can be beaten by counters" argument. It's true provided you know you're facing that master. In a tournament you've no idea which master from the declared faction you are going to face. I've been caught out by not taking the Hard Worker upgrade to then face lots of armour or hard to wound, similarly the opposite of tacking it and realising there isn't anything in the opponents crew it works against.

So once again you're back to playing your own game primarily. This is where the weaker Masters suffer, they don't have a real 'thing' to do. Take Misaki, she doesn't really have a trick other than being able to hit quite hard (and others hit harder). The rest of the crew don't augment or improve her ability and she doesn't work to improve them. The same could be said for Mei Feng. Yes she likes to rail walk off her constructs but there no real synergy. I've not managed or seen a real burning crew with her when run as Ten Thunders as you can't lay the burning down quickly, I think its viable if she's being played as Arcanist as they seem to have more burning orientated crew.

Now I'm not sure that the other Ten Thunders fair much better, but I've not played a lot with them. Yan Lo is a resser and so can do attrition fairly well but he doesn't really have a lot of summoning. Never used McCabe or Shen Long, they do look slightly more synergy orientated, but its hard to tell.

So I think there is definitely a power curve in Malifaux, I think the game structure does mean that one of the top power crew can be beaten either by luckily taking enough counters in your blind crew creation stage or possibly by focusing solely on you game and scoring points and just hoping that the opponent doesn't get their mechanisms rolling at full power. I think I need to get more play time with Yan Lo and Shen Long (I now have proxies for him and Sensi) if I want to be able to compete with the big boys as I don't think Misiki can hang at all and Mei Feng is a struggle. But I'm more than happy to hear other's opinions since, after all, I've only been playing this for 4 months so could easily have missed some moment of clarity.