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.