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Monday, November 14, 2016

Austin Malifaux Tourney 11/12/16!



Hello world!

So last Saturday I attended a Malifaux tournament hosted by our good friends in Austin and had a blast!

I had decided to really try to have fully painted crews in time for the tournament, even if they aren't fully up to my finished standard. I went to work all throughout last week...


I had already shown you how I started the Abominations, this one is my favorite so far. He was pretty easy to complete, although I did take shortcuts on his skin as I had only painted with washes and a small amount of highlights. I figure being a summon he doesn't have to be a focal point but I did make sure to not skimp on the NMM. He's such a creepy cool model! Sorry the picture's dark, I took it in haste. Soon I should have better pictures of the entire group.


Here's the other Abomination, painted in an assembly line with the others. The NMM was done nicely, I did shortcuts for everything else including his tank but overall pretty darn cool.


I finished up a half painted Flesh Construct exactly as I had done before. I even left the brass areas incomplete so they'd match! I converted this particular one as I hate the fact that they are carrying a body. It's a cool pose, but the victim is completely out of scale and having more than one with that exact same pose looks cheesy. I gave this guy stabbing hands from the GW Ghouls kit as I have plenty of spare parts from it, and it turns out that GW's heroic scale hands are perfect for the larger scale of Malifaux. I even put GW's new technical blood paint to make it look like he's recently shanked someone.


And here are the ones I just absolutely cranked these bad boys out on Friday night. These guys, except for the Dust Storm, were all not primed or based when I started them at 7PM. With some assembly lines and absolute focus while watching Legend of the Seeker for background noise I got them to tabletop standards by 2AM. Although my airbrush was giving me issues from the start I'm still pretty happy with how most of these turned out. I've still got to line and highlight all of them, but it's a promising start. Note how I'm using a Puppet Wars miniature as my Brutal Effigy, he looks the part and is an official Wyrd model, he just has a different base - but so does Sue.

So late in the night I went to bed, I'd already packed up my stuff so that I only have to do the usual morning stuff before heading out. Turns out that I forgot to plug my phone in and it died before the alarm went off. Running extremely late (two hours!) when I woke up I rushed to meet my ride Dreads to head out. I felt absolutely terrible for causing him to run late as well, but we arrived at the tournament in time for him to play in the first round while I got the bye.


So in the second round I got paired up against Travis, Malifaux extraordinaire, and he was using Asami. The Strategy was Interference with Flank deployment, with Schemes like Convict Labor, Leave Your Mark, Neutralize the Leader, Show of Force and Public Demonstration. I decided to use Leveticus as it's my better crew against Asami and picked Convict Labor/Leave Your Mark.


I had my opponent deploy first and saw that he had most of his crew going toward my left side with Graves/Ama No Zako on the right, so I placed Leve/Ashes/Brutal/Johana on the left to oppose his strongest elements while putting one Flesh Construct and Waif team in the middle and one at the right near the center of the table, along with the Necropunk.


Well early in the game he decided to shift gears and moved almost his entire squad toward my right flank. Once he started to commit to this he realized a lot of his synergies were going to go away and maybe he had made a mistake, but he had a good idea to neutralize the Necropunk and keep me from easily gaining VP from schemes while claiming an easy table quarter.

This stupid Henchman is the cause of all my headaches


I had my right side placing markers for Convict Labor on turn one and hope for the best, they really need to stick around long enough so that Leve can sweep his side and assist the right.


Ashes and Dust also placed a marker near the center line and was used for Leve's (0) teleport to shoot a Yokai off the table and make an Abomination. Now that little minion is able to put pressure on Travis as he is in perfect position to run Leave Your Mark for the rest of the game if he's not dealt with. At worst he'll make a scrap marker for Ashes and Dust to push to later in the game.

The Necropunk tries to hold his side long enough for help

Once we got into the thick of things I had stopped taking pictures, as I needed to conserve battery since I didn't get much of a charge that morning.

Essentially the game had been extremely close the entire time, with every turn ending in a tie between us. I'd get either Convict Labor or Leave Your Mark, but Travis was doing a good job at denying at least one of those a turn. We'd also tie for Interference, but he was gaining on me in terms of quarter control. I took the top left quadrant easily but he'd hold the top right and take over my bottom right, luckily I'd have the Brutal Effigy claiming the Bottom Left.

Because Neutralize the Leader was on the board I made sure to be very conservative with Leve's health. The Brutal Effigy healed him up every turn while using Leve's (0) to teleport to Ashes and Dust ensured I wouldn't leave the table and give up points. This turned out to absolutely save me because Travis picked Neutralize the Leader as well as Leave Your Mark! I figured he would, but with the way the game was going and with how conservative I was with Leve's ranges he wasn't able to attack Leve without committing a lot of resources for it.

In the very last turn I managed to gain a VP over Travis and won 7-6! It was an extremely close game but it was very fun.


So lastly in round three I was currently in Second place and was paired against Doug and his Sandeep crew. I had been dreading this for two weeks.

Lately Doug has been terrorizing Malifaux with this master and no one has beaten it yet. The master is just solid and he made a very good list along with it. In anticipation of meeting this crew for the first time I had done extensive brainstorming, and even wrote down every ability and synergy for the crew in a document for me to study. I tend to retain information a lot better if I rewrite everything and make a list myself rather than simply reading the cards. If you haven't tried or read Sandeep I highly suggest you do, that crew is absolutely bonkers.

After extensive reading I had decided that Viktorias would be best suited against them. Sandeep's crew excel with Wp, and they can actually deal with Leve's attrition elements easily. I figured the Viktorias can capitalize on the fact that Sandeep's synergies require close ranges to certain elements, and with a clump of models it's ripe for Blood's Whirlwind. With my elements of attrition using Hannah and Sue they would be able to hold off the Banasuva for the game while the rest of the crew dies.

Sandeep's deployment...

My crew, which has its blood frenzied and ready to see if theory can beat practice

It's about to be on like Donkey Kong...

So on turn one he does exactly what I anticipated. He moves everyone up in a small clump surrounding his Gamin models. The only thing I didn't anticipate was him summoning a Wind Gamin instead of a Metal Gamin. He used the safety of a rail car to hide Joss and company. I placed Hannah and Sue up furthest as a distraction target for his Banasuva, and he summoned and charged them as I expected. I made sure to place Viktoria of Blood directly behind Hannah to make sure the Banasuva goes to the opposite side of where I planned on going - he'd engage her to keep her from doing anything other than killing the Banasuva which is to his advantage. Luckily I foresaw all this and I couldn't believe it was going exactly as I had anticipated!

My biggest concern when I was thinking of this matchup was whether I charge Viktoria on turn one or two. She's completely capable of catching a group on turn one, and that certainly increases the pressure and pace on my opponent, but the situation has to be read very carefully as you rarely get to throw her in more than once. Because I figured I wouldn't be able to get more than two or three models in her range I decided to hold her back for round two as I anticipated him activating the Banasuva first, and even if he didn't it was still a good chance that she could live through a single activation (but very risky).

The risk payed off tremendously. I won initiative and Doug didn't see it coming. Not how many models he had close together near Sandeep on turn one in the picture above. I started with Viktoria of Ashes teleporting Blood to her side, then used Sisters in Fury and Sisters in Blood to buff her and chain activated Blood. Blood then charged Joss and got two other Oxfordian Mages in range, killing Joss and two Mages. I then used my third AP from Oathkeeper (I discarded it at the beginning of her activation) to walk into range of the remaining models and killed everyone except Sandeep.

Killing six models in one activation is absolutely beautiful

The table state was absolutely priceless. Before he activated a model he had lost almost every model in his list short of the Banasuva, Sandeep, Malifaux Raptor and Cassandra.

The Banasuva finished off Sue while Sandeep killed Blood. Ashes and Dust attempted to kill the Malifaux Raptor, but because I spent almost all my resources with Blood I was unable to damage it which proved to later cost me the game essentially. The Raptor flew off the board and Cassandra did her scheme running.

Viktoria of Blood left this world knowing her job was done, Sandeep took revenge

Over the next few turns I killed Sandeep and the Banasuva but Cassandra and the Raptor managed to almost score every point themselves.

Sandeep got a lot of eyes looking right at him...

...then he was gone

The problem was the scheme pool. I had studied the enemy crew extensively but knew I may have a problem with most schemes. The deployment was Corner, the strategy was Stake A Claim - one that gives me immense troubles regardless of crew because it's one I never practice and the interact action requires 2 AP. The pool was also not so much in my favor - Convict Labor, Hunting Party, Mark for Death, Exhaust Their Forces and I think Public Demonstration were in it. I foolishly chose Hunting Party and Mark For Death thinking my killy crew should be able to handle it. I didn't realize that I would be double dipping a lot of the times and it affected my ability to score - either I killed something that wasn't from my Henchman and didn't score from Hunting Party or Blood didn't have the AP to spare for Mark for Death. I ended up losing 7-4 despite Doug ending with only his Raptor alive because I couldn't catch up to it. Had I chose either Mark For Death or Hunting Party and Convict Labor I would have done much better and probably would have won. I couldn't score Hunting Party for the full points because I was never able to catch up to that stupid bird, and Peons count for Hunting Party. I would have easily been able to score Convict Labor. Ugh.

Oh well, lessons learned. I was disappointed in not getting the win but the silver lining is that I definitely was correct on how to beat the crew, I just need to anticipate the scheme pool a lot better. I also need to reorganize the crew to handle schemes better. I'd hate to replace Ashes and Dust as I really like how he interacts with the crew but my Viktorias are seriously lacking in the scheme department. Maybe it's time I give Void Wretches a try seeing as a lot of people like using them - I just can't see how the're truly effective. Ashes and Dust really do give me a lot of points to play around with though and would help with model count, we'll see how it goes!



In other news while I was at Dragon's Lair in Austin I saw that The Walking Dead - All Out War was on their shelves. Although I knew that they were on retail shelves I still complained about not receiving my pledge before others could buy it - and as soon as I did complain to my wife with a picture of the box she then notified me that I got a package and the picture showed it was from Mantic! I almost wanted to quit the tournament right then and there to open up my goodies!

Well I finally did as soon as I got home and it is so awesome. I wasn't a fan of the miniatures when I first saw them on the Kickstarter but was impressed with the gameplay and small scale enough to back it. The sculpts actually look a lot better in person and the exclusive components are well worth over the price. Once I get some pictures up I'll update you with my impressions!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Holy crap, 20,000 views?! Uh, also some Malifaux words...

Insane!

Just on August 29, 2016 I had finally hit the 10k views mark for this blog. I don't know what I've done after that, because I just doubled my view count in a little over two months! Um, keep up the great... work... Ryan...

Anyway, there have been a few hobby things I've done here and there including tidying up my hobby room and reorganizing my paints. I had to perform paint triage to make room for my paints and sadly had to put away a few old soldiers that are probably over a decade old. They're still here, just in the closet, as you'll have to pry my old GW Chestnut Ink from my lifeless hands. But being that I hardly ever used them it's better to put them somewhere where they don't take up precious real estate.

My often used rack, mostly Vallejo but with Secret Weapon and Reaper paints as well.

My less often used rack, mostly GW stuff as I've grown apart from the line with the new paints. P3 is hardly ever used...

I had also hit a tiny whim to get my Abominations table ready and did most of the work in a short amount of time. I even took a crappy picture:

Just look at these adorable little fuel tanks of nightmares

I actually got more of it done than in the photo, but I didn't take any pictures yet. It should only take about another hour for them to be completed. These little buggers have a lot of parts to paint, so I kept them mostly metal to knock them out. They aren't critical in my crew so I'm not putting a ton of effort into it, I'd even painted their skin using only washes because I didn't want to get bogged down.

But Ryan, didn't you say you were only going to concentrate on your commissions?

Well that's correct, you annoyingly observant reader. However I will be attending another tournament with our friends in Austin and I'd like to attend with a fully painted crew this time. I'd actually sat down and wrote out what I'd need to get done in order to be fully painted and it wasn't too much additional work. I'd have to finish my Abominations and Flesh Constructs, then paint the Ashen Core (and base the Dust Storm) as well as paint my Brutal Effigy. Not too shabby, and when I get tournament motivation I tend to get a ton of work done in that amount of time due to my arbitrary deadline. We'll see if I can manage it again!

So if this isn't so much of a hobby update, what can I talk about?

I've thought of touching on a few points about Malifaux games that may not get a lot of coverage in the forums, although it may be brought up in Podcasts but I don't listen to them often enough to know. Mainly I wanted to discuss rules interactions, efficiency, or simply general gaming concepts that could help you elevate your game to a better level. These are points that I feel helped me break through in the game and gain a lot of experience and I hope that sharing it with you random folks could help you... at the very least it gives me, a person who talks too much, a way to vent out relevant ideas!

So what's a topic I can touch up on relating to Malifaux? Well kiddos let's talk about...

No, not Shutterstock...

AP!

Or Action Points for the uninitiated. These are the bread and butter of the game, as they allow models to perform their actions to get stuff done. Understanding the elements of your action points can help you get the most out of your game.

First off, and you may already realize this, not all AP are equal. Some AP, like your master's, are probably going to be more effective overall than the rest of your crew's, which is why I get more excited about activating Leveticus than I do with a Necropunk. Some AP get more mileage out of attacking than they do with movement, while other models' AP may be more powerful doing the opposite. The nature of your AP is very fluid and changes constantly throughout the game. Even getting additional AP in your activation changes the nature of your AP as your options increase. Using AP during your first turn is a completely different beast than using it to move in your third or fourth turn.

So there are a few points I'll bring up in order to keep this short(er) and sweet:


  • The difference between Master and Minion AP
So I mentioned there being a difference between master and minion action points. The reason I say this is because inherently your master should be optimized to excel at a certain area better than another model that does something similar, as it should be because they are... well, masters.

So lets take an aspect that is used with AP as an example - attacking. This is probably the most common use of AP in the game outside of movement. If you have a master who excels in an area of combat, let's say Melee, then it is right to assume they should be better at it than the average melee-dedicated model. This can be represented by a bump in the Ml stat, say from 6 to 7, or the damage track being better, or its triggers and upgrades being better, etc. One of my favorite melee models is Ashes and Dust because he has a Ml stat of 7 (master levels) and a minimum damage of 3. However Viktoria of Ashes/Blood (counting as one master really) are significantly better than that once you account for their abilities and upgrades. An attack from Ashes and Dust will most likely hurt you for 3 damage, and doesn't ignore defensive abilities like Armor. Meanwhile Viktorias can consistently have a minimum damage of 5 that ignore almost all defensive measures outside of the irregular kind, not mentioning they'll have positives for attack, damage, can increase their Ml stat, etc. The point spent on an attack is better coming from a master dedicated to melee than the enforcer.

This is an obvious point, and of course it's not hard and fast. Misaki as an Outcast is a dedicated melee master and I'd rather rely on Ashes and Dust to get the job done honestly. But it is a good guide when you're analyzing your crew's efficiency - in fact, with that Misaki example it helps put into context as to why she's not a good master when compared to others; because I have models in the crew that are actually better than her in melee it's a good way to see where she stands in terms of power level. Sure, other factors take a part, like how she's more mobile and can charge while engaged, but in the end she needs to put the hurt on someone and her minimum damage and resource draining to ensure it happens trumps it. Heck, Ashes has the same amount of AP as her as well and can put 9 damage on an enemy easily without many resources, while you can probably rely on Misaki doing around 6 or so, while technically having the same type of speed and melee ranges but Ashes takes a hit much better.

I bring up the point of master AP being intrinsically more valuable than non-master AP because it ties in with a ton of factors associated with the weight of AP - Obey masters are essentially turning Master AP into Minion AP and thus watering down their potential actions, while crews like Sandeep are turning minion AP into master AP and making theirs better.

Granted, again, it's not hard and fast, and sometimes if you have the option to Obey or something similar it may be more powerful in the situation than something else. In that vein, though, if you are trying to reliably use extra AP from your minions then perhaps you should look for other minions that do so. If you like using Obey to make key models move outside of their activation, look for minions that push, or grant them Fast, or Lure, etc. There's a reason why masters like Lucius and Zoraida are bottom of the totem pole, or why Perdita shouldn't concentrate on Obeying everyone else, it's because their AP should be more valuable.

If you find that your master is a really good shooter, then try to maximize all of their AP so that they're only spending it on shooting, rather than having to use 1 AP to move into position. If they're great at melee, try to find ways that keep them protected on the way in and getting them there faster. Identify elements that could stop your master from doing their thing, like Paralyze crews or Defense 7. If they're Casters then be aware of models like Sue that can effectively shut down your AP spending, or identify models that are susceptible to Ca attack actions like models with Incorporeal - such as Nix.

You want your master spending their AP in what should be their comfort zone - every time I've had to spend AP that isn't in their wheelhouse, like Interact actions or moving to get in LOS, I make sure to ask myself if it's the best way to spend their AP at this time. Maybe there's another model that can activate first that may prevent the Master from having to attack that target, or maybe there's a way to move the target so the Master doesn't have to spend AP to move.

On the other side of the coin, know your minion's capabilities as well. I try to bring specialists to the table, models that excel in one area over others if they attempted the same actions. Although a Necropunk can kill things in certain situations, I bring him because of his mobility - his AP gets him further across the board than other 5ss models on average, and with his 2AP he's able to lay down a scheme marker, Leap with his (0) action 6 inches away, and lay down yet another marker. A Freikorpsmann can only lay down one marker unless he gains fast, and his walk is only a 5 (unimpeded, but technically so is the Necropunk's!). I bring Flesh Constructs because they have over twice the amount of wounds than other models in their price range, and they also bring along Hard to Wound and Reactivate! They specialize in just sticking around, and their AP is rather flexible because they're doing their job just by surviving. Johan has a high Ml stat, minimum damage 3, great triggers, can heal (although not optimal) and can remove conditions - not a lot of 6ss models can say the same, and that's not mentioning if she is attacking a Tyrant or Construct, has Finish the Job, oh goodness Johan is amazing...

This is how I think of AP spending while creating a list: Identify how many elements/models in your list whose AP excels in a certain area - generally I break them down into very broad categories of scheme running, denial, melee and ranged. I make sure to have strong presences in as many of those categories as possible. This helps identify what gaps need to be filled with what type of AP, and make sure that when I play I'm spending that AP to do what they were built to do. Making your beater have to spend AP on running schemes isn't as efficient as if they had juicy targets and someone else was running schemes. I've forced this choice on opponents before, and have had that happen to me a few times. If you are able to identify those opportunities or weaknesses in your list just analyze their AP ability and lessen the gap.
  • Using AP to set up future AP
This brings up a point - just because your master is a baller with a gun doesn't mean you won't spend AP doing other things. The trick to being efficient seems to be making sure that ALL your AP are spent with a purpose, and being able to see how the game will advance over each turn is a huge part of that.

It all starts with deployment. Where you place your models at the beginning of the game are going to dictate everything that happens for the rest of the game. Placing a model in the middle of your deployment is going to take a lot less AP to get them in range to attack than it would if you deployed way back in the corner as far away as possible. This may seem obvious, but I see a lot of players who deploy without true consideration as to what the consequences will be.

Let's say you're deploying first. You don't know where the heck he's going to place his models. But you do know your crew (as you should, in and out!) and you know that in order for Johan to be effective you need to get her in the thick of things fast, so where do you put her? Well, if you put her in the center of your deployment then Johan will have an easier time reacting to enemy deployment and movement; if they're on either side Johan can still move toward them while advancing and not lose as much efficiency as if he ended up on the wrong side away from his best target.

Take a look at your terrain: are there bottlenecks, paths or is it open? If you know the average walk speed is 5 how long will it take before models meet up? Where will they meet up? Will that setting be advantageous to you?

This is related to AP, because it will largely affect how you spend your AP. An average model will only have 10AP to spend at most in a game - that is ten opportunities for that model to affect positive change. Any time you're wasting one or two AP to get in the game is 10-20% of that model's potential!

So smartly deploying your models greatly increases the weight of their AP. You can use that previous example to actually help your models avoid combats as well - I almost always deploy my Necropunk on a table edge, as it eliminates an entire side in which an enemy will approach him as well as make half the table forget about him since he's too far.

Anticipate where your targets are going to move to and try to make it where they walk into your ranges. This forsight will help you spend less AP in the future on having to move to get into range and potentially squandering a turn you could have attacked. If you manage to identify where the fight will take place, did you get there first to have an advantage?

Does placing a scheme marker here prevent you from placing it in a critical area later? 

When I play Leveticus I'm thinking of this as soon as possible. I look at the terrain, then decide where the fight needs to take place to be to my advantage. I try to steer it toward open areas lacking in cover. When I identify the location I ask how I'm going to be able to influence the opponent's movement to this spot. Usually I'll identify the shortest unobscured path to that location and deploy most of my crew right in that path. A lot of the times this isn't far from the center, but if it's going to a side I deploy almost all my models in that area to force the opponent to have to consider going my direction in order to damage me. I then place models like my Necropunk to the opposite side to force my opponent to choose where to respond, either the single model who is probably getting VP on his own or the bulk of my crew, and if they go after the lone model then my entire crew is free to do their schemes as they please (while the Necropunk runs away...). Once they decide to go toward my crew I'm using Leveticus' abilities to place him in a spot that has the most amount of firing lanes with the least amount of cover then for almost the rest of the game he never has to use an AP for moving again.

With Viktorias it is a much more direct approach - they excel in melee, and they need to get there fast. They have an extremely high threat range, so I only need to stick to an area before charging for one turn at most (sometimes I charge on first turn). In this case I'm actually looking for bottlenecks to protect my crew while keeping an open path to the master or other key models.

In any case I'm using initial AP to set up my future turn to be as advantageous as possible. Avoid throwing out your AP with no reason - I've lost games because I was careless with AP that wasn't necessary and walked them for no reason into scoring range for my opponent's schemes. All APs are precious little snowflakes.

  • Being AP efficient - when certain AP deserve resources and when they don't
So how can you maximize the potential of your AP in game?

Firstly, always count your AP toward what your goals are. Every AP I spend I think to myself about how it will affect my scoring or how it will deny theirs. Is this attack critical? Do I really need this model to be off the table? Does using my (0) action help me move into position?

If I identify that it's an important action I will spend my resources to make it happen. If not, I let it go and think of other ways I can achieve the same goal with other models without sacrificing my scoring potential.

Being AP efficient ties in with resources so well because if you are really efficient then you won't require as many resources. When I began playing I'd noticed that I'd run out of control cards extremely fast, and that was because I thought every action was just as important as the next and didn't realize how to pick and choose which ones deserve cards. 

AP efficiency is also tied into the order of how you spend your AP. Does an action improve another model's actions? If so make things more efficient by activating your support first. If holding off on that model means you're at risk for an activation then plan your defense accordingly, or weigh the benefits of waiting over acting now.

Overall if you act with efficiency in mind you may just find that you have more resources by the end of your turn than you did before. Having your models hit the correct targets with the correct abilities is a huge boon toward your efficiency.

  • AP Denial
A good point to bring up is also denying your opponent this precious resource. As stated before each AP can be broken down into about 10% of the average model, so denying them makes them much less effective every time. The benefits of conditions like Slow are easily understood, but if you can hand it out then make sure to consider your target. Although Slow affects everyone equally you'll need to make sure it's going to stop a model from doing what they're supposed to. If you anticipate a charge, give him Slow. If he was out of walk distance then you have effectively denied two attacks. If he's a shooter you've denied two shots or a focused shot. With masters it may not be as apparent as they come with an additional AP, but the weight of denying that extra attack may be compounded by the fact that they are especially good at that attack.

Having models with high defense or defensive measures can deny AP spent on attacks. Silent Ones deny additional attack damage, Flesh Constructs require additional AP for them to be taken down, and models like Hamelin, Ashes and Dust and Rusty Alyce deny charges which can deny a model's entire activation's worth of attacks. Sue's aura giving negative flips to Ca actions can deny an AP by forcing them to Focus, or miss the attack if they don't. Yamaziko's Brace Yari (also a (0) action!) denies charges for the damage it can do. Denial is a huge quality that often gets overlooked, and on the opposite end overestimated, so it is critical to understand how to deny AP. 

  • Lastly: Your (0) Actions
My last point I want to make is the coveted (0) action. I love these as they feel like they're essentially free (I guess they are). It's what makes Von Schill so fun for me even though he's not the best by far.

Models with (0) actions are always a huge factor for consideration when it comes to list building. It is a third action that takes place in an activation, and some of these actions are so critical to their play style that it can have more impact than an action that costed 1AP. 

Each (0) action has its own considerations you'll have to address to understand your timing on use as well as its effect, but most tend to be pretty beneficial. For Outcasts you have a really good option in Sue, who has two (0) actions that both greatly assist your crew. Ashes and Dust's (0) action can help with your efficiency as you may not need to use an AP to move around the board, which is the same as Leveticus as well. It is especially powerful when upgrades give your models even more actions like these and are strong contenders on which I pick for my lists.

Conclusion

So there you have it, an unorganized and probably ill explained thought on AP use in the game. This post was made on a whim, so forgive me if my thoughts seem scattered. The important thing is to look at your every action under a microscope and understand their implications as much as possible, especially before a game so that you'll know how to apply your thoughts effortlessly while playing. Understand the strengths and weaknesses of your models so that you know the best match up for them, and make sure you enjoy your games!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Discoveries About Hamelin

Greetings web people!



So yesterday I had my weekly Malifaux meet up at the unrivaled Montag's games for some practice. Earlier in the day I realized that I had long ago bought the Brotherhood of the Rat and Hamelin boxes, nearly $100 of models, and hadn't once played a game with him. I decided to rectify this that day and made a Hamelin list and was quite pleasantly surprised at how good he is!

So to start off with a new crew I generally take a good long look at the Master's card and upgrades to become familiar with his abilities. I then take a look at their thematic models to see the validity in their synergies, after that I ask myself if any out-of-theme models could benefit from the unique abilities of the Master to potentially tap into unorthodox combos and maybe fill in gaps of the play style. When I've done all that thinking I generally make a very fast and loose list of ideas I've had and see how they fit within a list - this is also the step that I discover that I can't possibly fit all the things I want in the list. Lastly, and rarely I add, I'll check up online in forums and blogs to find what people have made for their lists and compare mine with theirs. I usually do so to ask myself if others have seen something I haven't, if I see something others don't, or if the list practically builds itself and I haven't discovered anything new about them.

These are all the steps I took before heading out to play and the results honestly surprised me.

Pre-Game

So I've read Hamelin's cards and his respective models plenty of times before. I actually had thought of running them prior to Adepticon's explosion over the Rat/Joy lists, primarily because using the rat engine to out-activate your opponent can be powerful in lists like Viktorias.

Shortly after Adepticon Wyrd's awareness of the community's complaints increased and speedily updated their FAQs to nerf the hell out of the rat engine, making its use strictly confined to Hamelin himself. I personally saw this as a disservice, as any competent player can put a wrench in the rat engine easily enough and should encourage players to think outside the box to resolve their on-table issues with the crew. I'm a huge proponent of going against the meta for games for a few reasons, and I've been relatively successful because of it. Having such an effective list being out there for the world to utilize can actually be a big weakness for players who use it - everyone is prepared for it, you're not reinventing the wheel, and everyone has the opportunity to develop counters. If you develop an odd list that works then the chances of someone being prepared for it are significantly less, and this can throw off veteran gamers who expect a list to work a certain way when you've tipped that on its side. I found this especially true in Warmachine, but I'm getting off the point.

Here are my thoughts on Hamelin, his crews, and his synergies before I put theory to practice.

NOTE: Before going into the gritty little details I'd like to bring up the Blighted condition. This condition does absolutely nothing on its own. It does however remain on the model after the turn is done and increases by 1 every turn, so a model with Blighted 1 gains another up to Blighted 2 at the end of the turn. This condition plays into what Hamelin and his crew can do to targets who have this condition, and the higher the number the more devastating the ability can be.

The man himself, the Sewer Slayer, Hamelin!



So I'll keep this in the same vein as my previous strategy entries and discuss the card abilities and thoughts as they appear.

First up are his notable stats. Defense 5 his expected for a guy who isn't a beatsick, and his WP is 7 which is excellent for when you need it. Twelve wounds is also expected but what stands out is his short charge range, definitely signifying to me that he's probably not going to be imitating Whirlwind any time soon.

His first ability is Voracious Rats, which lets you summon rats when an enemy of model with the Blight condition die within 6" of him. This is great for the most part, it's free models so there's no complaining. This seems to be an important one to try to remember in game, and it will probably become second nature after a few of them. This is especially useful against crews who bunch up for auras and such, like Ulix or Molly. This is one of the better ways to feed your rat engine as well as gain easy activations. You don't have to worry about these summons in Strats like Collect the Bounty as they are peons, unlike Leveticus when he summons Abominations.

Nihilism is a very powerful ability that lets you decide what conditions you gain at all times. This includes being tagged for a scheme, burning, slow, paralyzed, everything. Super easy to forget this in game when you're making Terrifying tests! Go ahead and let them fail, just choose not to gain the condition.

His last ability on the front of the card is Lure of Emptiness, and it's key to his rate of survival. Any time he would be killed you can sacrifice one of his totems within close range. Not only do you not get killed, you heal 4 damage! This can truly be devastating, and if you use it to the proper effect you can make him extremely hard to kill along with his upgrades - more on that later.

Now onto his attacks. His melee attack is valued at 6 with a built in crow and a sad little damage track of 1/2/4. His triggers are all crows so they're all built in, which is good enough. The first trigger Taint gives the Blighted condition equal to the number of crows in the duel, which can be very good for you if you happen to become engaged with a target that needs to die. The other trigger Black Death forces the target to suffer damage equal to his blighted condition to a max of 3. This brings his damage track to a much more impressive minimum damage of 4. With these factored in it looks like his melee attack is a good option to have, but it requires a lot of set up prior to the attack for it to be seen as a very good option. At minimum you'd want to use this on someone with at least Blighted 2 or higher to make it most effective, but with a short melee range and lackluster damage track you may want to hold off on using this as a main weapon. If you wanted to use a melee master Hamelin is definitely not the most efficient choice for this.

His second attack is Pipes which is a long ranged attack with a value of 6 with a built in crow. This attack is like the Rotten Belle's Lure, although if the target is Blighted he'd walk forward even further. The built in trigger gives the attack a low damage track of 1/2/3, which is a great addition as when it's needed it's nice to add that damage - one that is a straight flip. It should be noted that this attack uses the Gun Icon, so it randomizes when used in engagements, and it resists Df.

His last attack is Bleeding Disease, a range 12 casting attack of 6 with a built in crow. It has a target number of 10(Crow) and resists WP, something that gives Hamelin a great deal of flexibility. I usually try to make sure that at least one element of my list is able to attack WP, it's less common and can be a great way to work around most defensive triggers. This attack deals damage equal to the number of Blight on a target. Now this is the standout attack. If you are able to get Blighted out on a target on turn one, that means on turn 5 this attack is doing 5 damage - and that's only if you're not adding even more blight on them. This attack can absolutely melt something, the trick would seem to be to make sure you stack on Blight as often and as early as possible to maximize the effect, and to concentrate on models like Johan that can remove conditions. This also means that you're probably not going to become a killing machine until mid to late game, so you need something to get the condition going fast or something to distract the enemy crew until the blight becomes big enough.

Looking at these attacks show that he has elements of control as a key play ability. His Bleeding Disease attack is the most flexible - you can use it in melee or at long range and it doesn't randomize. Ca 6 is good and it resists Wp, which tends to have less defensive triggers than Df. It also doesn't have a damage ceiling - if you have blighted 10 for some insane reason then the attack does 10 damage. His melee attack has a limit on the damage, and Pipes has a small damage output but is designed for control more so than damage.

Lastly he has his tactical action, Lure Malifaux Citizen, a (0) action that summons his totem in base contact. It needs an 8 to go off and doesn't have any suits built in for his trigger. If you do manage to get the trigger with a card and stone he can take the action again, summoning two of his totems. A very good (0) ability and one that I'd probably use every turn.

Upgrades

First up is Plague. This gives him Virulent, which prevents the Blighted condition from being removed with 6". This is a really good ability to have as Blighted is his main mechanic he needs to function well, and it will frustrate the hell out of people who thought they had a way of removing it. The upgrade also gives triggers to his Pipes action, one that increases the Blight condition and the other that forces models to gain a condition that prevents Interact actions without discarding two cards. Both are built in, the first one is really useful for getting Blight going as it has a long reach as well as brings the target closer. The main reason to get this upgrade is to prevent Blight from being removed, and the area is pretty wide - accounting for diameter it's a third of the table length.

Next is The Piper. It gives Irresistible Dance which prevents charges ending within 6". This is absolutely bonkers. Stopping charges against not only Hamelin but all other models in a wide area around him is just insane. It's what I'd consider an auto include.

It also gives the Obey action at a high Ca value of 7 against Wp with a TN of 14, so you'd need a 7 or higher to pass. 12" range is good and the flexibility of Obey actions is something you should always factor into your decision making. Using Obey actions efficiently could be a whole other entry, so I'll just leave it at that.

Tools of the Tyrant is an upgrade that mostly concentrates on bumping up the melee attack. It gives the attack triggers that heal him or putting more blight on a model nearby. Interesting, but not enough to convince me that his melee attack is worthwhile. It also adds Face the Inevitable, which forces models within 6" to discard a card to perform an interact action. This could be interesting stacking with the Plague's ability that discards two cards for Interact actions, but this leads to a lot of moving parts for an action you're not certain will take place. This upgrade left me unimpressed, his melee attack doesn't get significantly better and the aura is not worth the price or slot of an upgrade.

Sewer King allows you to hire Lost models like Baby Kade and Candy. I don't own these models, but I'm still not convinced they are necessary - although being able to hire a Crooligan is very, very tempting. They're great scheme runners, but during my list composition stage I decided they aren't needed when the requirement takes up an upgrade slot. The upgrade also gives another (0) action Useless Toy, where you can sacrifice friendly models to draw two cards and get a bonus effect on Stolen if they're the target. This is a great ability, especially when paired with models like Ashes and Dust who don't necessarily care about being sacrificed. However it takes up your precious (0) action, which I plan on using to summon, and you won't be sacrificing models like Ashes and Dust after turn two or so without relative safety.

Survivalist gets a mention here as it is one of the best upgrades to put on Hamelin. The combination of his Lure of Emptiness and Hard to Kill will be extremely frustrating for opponents. When he takes hits he first has to go down to one wound, then when he gets hit again he sacrifices a Stolen and heals 4 damage. This means he'd be back above Hard to Kill levels to do it all over again. A major road block and can make him extremely tough to eliminate. This upgrade is why I decided against Sewer King as it's too good to pass up.

So from what I saw I think his best option would be to concentrate on his Bleeding Disease attack, it's a consistent attack that gets better throughout the game. Minimum damage 3 attacks are highly sought after in this game, and Hamelin can do even better than that with this attack. It can be used at range or in engagement, and can be used to kill models in other engagements. If you have a stack of 4 blight or higher then the damage gets stupid over 3 AP, and this doesn't mention the fact that there isn't a damage flip so there's no possibility of a Black Joker screwing with the damage. All his other abilities are used to deny things like charges or condition removal, and he doesn't have to worry about spending his AP for summoning as it works on its own. His Pipes and Obey can be used to assist friendly models or move enemies to where you need them, using Obey for attacks should be situational as he'll most likely be better off just blowing up Blight.

His totem, the Stolen



So next up is his dedicated totem, the Stolen.

These guys are 2 stones and have only one hit point. Low stats, no charge, not surprising for a totem.

On the front of the card they have Diseased, they hand out blight within 3" to enemies beginning their activation close by. Handy, and when close in it's a nice little benefit they add.

Sickly is a way to help get rats summoned when they die as they count as blighted.

Horrible Realization is a nifty ability they can use when they die close by enemies, a relatively average Wp duel being failed can give Paralyzed to enemies in the pulse. Again, this is useful when close in as Hamelin can summon two of them and cause some real trouble when they die - something that will be discussed shortly.

Lastly they are insignificant, no surprise there.

On the back they have a crappy little melee attack, it's not worth going into deeply. It's an attack you will very rarely ever need to use, especially if the target has blighted as the other attack is much better for it.

They have Bleeding Disease, which is absolutely awesome for a totem. It's the same as Hamelin's except a lower Ca value of 4, but if the target has a ton of blight then it can definitely soak up a few precious cards or maybe even get through.

Lastly they have a tactical action in Inevitable Fate, it costs 2 AP and sacrifices the totem to summon two rats. This is a very useful little ability and helps keep the engine running smooth.

So how would I use these guys? Well first off their most consistent useful ability is Inevitable Fate. Being able to summon two rats is very useful, especially if Hamelin is able to get two Stolen summoned the same turn. Summoning two rats adds two models to the crew you didn't start off with, which is always an advantage, and adds two activations for control. If you're able to get another Stolen in the mix then that's four rats, which in turn start a whole new rat engine going. And this was mostly for free, you end up with either a free Rat King or a Ratcatcher and another Rat.

I plan on using Hamelin's stones to summon two Stolen every turn until about mid game, and when the resources are needed (summoning two Stolen requires the right card and a stone, so it can get intensive - not to mention making sure you have another 8 in hand) just summon one. When they are summoned they really only use their 1 AP to move forward, but if they're in range that could be two additional Bleeding Disease attacks. If the opposing crew has enough models in the mix nearby I may move them right into the crowd to sacrifice them, just to get in range for Horrible Realization. If they get killed then they also can summon a rat in base contact. Simply excellent.

It's important to be able to anticipate when you can see Hamelin possibly being attacked. You'll need to make sure at least one Stolen is close by to mitigate an assassination, two is even better. But if you're feeling safe then let them go off to be sacrificed.

I've thought of the other possible totems to see if they'd be useful for him. The Student of Conflict, although expensive, is a good tech piece if you plan on using snipers like Hans. Handing out fast every turn to a stationary unit can do wonders, and if needed Hamelin can summon the Stolen which sacrifices her. The same can be done with the Malifaux Child as he can copy his Obey and Bleeding Disease. Copying Obey can be extremely useful if you're trying to get your friendly beater up the field in a hurry, and he costs the same as a Stolen anyway. On turn one he can use his Obey to make Nix move up 5" if you plan on him being a Blight bomb, or a scheme runner in position to do work, it's a pretty versatile move. Hamelin can double this duty after he's pushed up once. Then after his use is done Hamelin summons a Stolen and is back to running the engine, although it's a turn later. Copying Bleeding disease is a toss up, you're more than likely not to use it since Blight won't be stacked up much and things may not be in range, plus the Ca value is lower but gets a positive flip. If you utilize the Malifaux Child for Obey then that's one 5" walk for Nix from him, then Hamelin can do it again for another 5", and when he activates he's in range of a lot of stuff, and it's probably a good way for him to double walk in his activation to be in range of his (0) action Blight Bomb(tm).

The puppy, Nix



So now we're on to his in-theme Henchman, Nix. He's an 8 stone model with a high cache if needed as a leader. Notable stats are a 6 Wp and a low wound count for his cost. But don't fret! He's got plenty of damage mitigation.

On the front of his card he has Sweet Taste of Failure, which is an aura that heals him 1 damage if an enemy model within 3" of him fails a duel. This is huge. It is for ANY duel! If you put him in a big cluster of enemy models and they have another target they need to deal with and fail an attack he heals. If they're doing a tactical action and fail, he heals. It's amazing. It won't necessarily always save his life but it can be very demoralizing for the enemy. As long as he's alive he's still got the potential to bounce right back from dying. The trick to this ability is knowing how to capitalize on it. You can either keep him on his own and use the ability as a backup for staying alive, or try to put him in the thick of the action as a deterrent and save your good defense cards for actions that benefit him, either saving him from an attack while healing or defending another model nearby to heal him. This is by far one of his best, if not the best, abilities.

With the same range aura we have Weakness, which prevents an enemy model from doing severe damage and instead making it moderate. Again, this doesn't have to target him and he can prevent other models from suffering severe damage nearby, just make sure they are pretty close to get the maximum chance of assistance. This is yet another damage mitigation tool that Nix has.

Like his master he has Nihilism, an excellent defense against conditions without the downside of not receiving beneficial conditions like Ashes and Dust. A very good defense against condition based crews like Sonnia or Paralyze Pandora.

Lastly he is Incorporeal, which makes his low wound count seem much better. Don't get used to it though, as there are plenty of ways around this like Ca actions and actions that simply do damage that aren't Sh/Ml attacks. Make sure to know what enemy models have Ca actions and plan accordingly, either avoid them or save good cards for it.

On the back of his card he has two attacks. Feed On Anima is a short range Ml 6 attack with an average damage track  that adds blight to the target. Bleeding Disease is the awesome attack we've talked about and has similar stats to Hamelin, so it's much more consistent. Once Blight gets stacked up this is going to be his go to attack.

His tactical actions are the meat and potatoes of his options in my opinion. First off is Drink Spirit, a (0) action with a 4" pulse that gives a very high Wp duel of 15 to enemy models without the Nihilist characteristic. If they fail they gain Blighted. This is the Blight Bomb, and it's great for him to get right in the middle of the enemy crew to get Blight started. This is the crux of his strategy in my opinion and should be concentrated on turn one to get the blight going, because once it's on a model it can be very tough to get off without dedicated assistance and most crews don't have that included.

Lastly he has Plague Pit which seems less useful and more like a good option to keep in mind should the situation occur. It prevents models in a 6" aura from interacting if they have at least 4 blight on them. Since it's another (0) action it's competing with the blight bomb, which is more useful. Even if models are blighted adding one more in a large pulse can be nail in the coffin.

Upgrades

So Nix has a dedicated upgrade, Hollow, for 2 stones. It enables the crew to hire hounds, which isn't bad if you need those types of models but I find that a Hamelin crew has no shortage of models that do similar things that other hounds do. It also gives him the ability to charge models with blight for 1 AP instead of 2. The (0) action given allows models within a 5" aura immunity to blast, pulse and aura damage. This can be very good if you want to prevent losing rats in droves, but I tend to shirk away from situational defenses like this especially if they cost an action. I've seen plenty of Hamelin lists and players who believe this to be the key upgrade, but it sacrifices Nix's best (0) action along with forcing him to stay further back near models needing the protection. If you ever plan on having Nix go off on his own then this becomes useless for anything other than avoiding stuff like Black Blood.

Infectious Melodies, although an upgrade that Hamelin can take, is specifically mentioned in Nix's section simply because it works best on him. It allows all friendly Minions and Peons in his LOS to gain Fast but gets sacrificed at the end of their activation, and if Fast is gained they can no longer take actions that sacrifice themselves. Depending on what you're using Nix for this can be almost an auto include as it gives a lot of options for your models for a cheap price. Notice I emphasized ALL minions and peons earlier, this means everyone. So if you really really reaaaaaally need that last AP on a Rat King or another beater, you can do it. If you want a Stolen to go do their little blight bomb in the enemy's face, you give them fast. And there's no limit to how many models can do this, every one of them can. Imagine taking three Stolen who get fast to walk 12" into your face and when they die you all take Wp duels or become Paralyzed. Sure, they can save cards to pass them or pass them with average flips, but 3 times in a row? How about before Terrifying Killjoy? Or how about before Nix's Blight Bomb? What about after?! Spent all those cards to pass other checks then suddenly your whole crew is paralyzed... from totems!

So what does all these things mean for Nix, and how do I plan on using him?

Well, he's definitely mainly used to help deliver the Rat/Joy bomb, which will be described in a bit. but outside of that I think his main function should be denial and spreading blight in a wide area. He's one of the only consistent ways to get widespread blight going and going early. Originally I couldn't think of much of a way to get him in the crew's face fast but I did so after the game I played and will include it in the post game review. I basically included him in the list to have Infectious Melodies and during the 2nd or 3rd turn to increase Blight dramatically. I originally thought that the best way to get blight going early was through Hamelin's Pipes, but Nix is a much better choice for that as he can get in close and deny an early death.

He is definitely a must for a Hamelin crew as he offers a lot of utility and support for the minions and peons through Infectious Melodies.

The Crew



So what about the other models you'd include for Hamelin? Well, there are plenty of resources out there including Pull My Finger and forums discussing each model individually, but I've decided since they're already exhausted online I'll just put a few bullet points:


  • Obedient Wretch
    • Crucial to the rat engine and thus free models. She won't move very much from deployment as she should be generating more rats every turn. Make sure to save two crow cards for her summoning as the target rat can relent and therefor any crow card works. Be prepared to accidentally kill a rat in the summoning process if you flip the red joker or get all severe cards in the negative flips. She also has Bleeding Disease, but since she's so far back of the line she most likely won't use it unless the enemy crew is very aggressive, plan to use her for table quarter objectives like Reconnoiter/Interference.
  • Rat Catcher
    • Mostly a byproduct of the rat engine with handy little abilities that become useful if needed. Mostly exists to give a vermin reactivate, including the Rat Kings who could definitely use it. Initially he's important for the Killjoy delivery so that the target rat gets even further up the field. Don't forget he has Voracious Rats like Hamelin, so any deaths can potentially summon more rats, which fuels his defenses or the rat engine, and at worst can just get in their way. If attacking a heavily-blighted model he can get his damage output to more than respectable levels, so make sure he's in the thick of it after he's summoned because he won't be a very big target until it's too late. Can possibly get more movement out of rats with his (0) action. Important to note his triggers are built in so he's very flexible.
  • Malifaux Rat
    • The fuel for the crew. Pitiful stats. Insignificant and can't do disengage strikes. Mostly there to summon a Rat King with other rats, but their attack can increase Blight and get better the more rats are around. Essentially there for the summon and to release the Killjoy. Use them to block charge lanes and waste AP.
  • Rat King
    • A very good minion that I'd never pay stones for. Solid stats although is Ht 1. Potentially giving Slow when contacting an enemy should never be forgotten. Charges blight models for one less AP. The heal may not get used often, but don't forget it's there. His attack is pretty good as long as you have half your life, and if you get the crow trigger it can spread Blight in a wide area. His (0) action Gnaw is potentially devastating, especially in the new meta of Book 4 masters making scheme markers like it's going out of style. Initially he's mostly used to summon a Rat Catcher and Rat, but after that the Rat King is what you're seeking to make from the rat engine every turn. A solid part of your crew.
Now the out of theme models:

  • Killjoy
    • You can't mention Hamelin without mentioning Killjoy. He's a solid choice for the crew as he has plenty of options to come out from Buried with them and the fact that you're down an activation until he comes out is no issue for the crew as they usually out-activate everyone else. With the rat delivery he's in the opponent's face turn one and can generally get to choose his target - a perfect way to get A Quick Murder or Assassinate. Because he's there turn one the rest of the crew is free to set up what they need, including preparing for Blight and running schemes. Once Killjoy is removed - which he will be, he's too juicy a target - then blight should be built up to the point where Hamelin is exploding models along with other Bleeding Disease models and Killjoy probably took out their biggest threat. If Nix is paired up with him then you've got a solid amount of distraction going on while Bleeding Disease doesn't have to randomize in engagements, a solid plan
    • The issue with Killjoy is that he BECOMES your plan. At his price you can't afford to make a mistake, and in the current community he is definitely expected in a Hamelin crew. Once you announce Outcasts they are thinking about if Rat/Joy is going to come out and prepare accordingly. 
  • Malifaux Child
    • Already discussed, but his ability to copy Obey should be considered at least for first turn before Hamelin kills him for Stolen
  • Ashes and Dust
    • Ooooooh boy, he's expensive but fits in any crew. If you're looking for an alternative to the Rat/Joy he's a good candidate. Great melee presence, can run schemes, simply does not die, and synergizes with Hamelin's upgrade to sacrifice models for cards. If you want you can figure out a way to have him as well as Killjoy, but I doubt that you'd have anything else in that crew, especially since you'll likely still need Nix. I may try to figure out a list to do so, but it most likely won't work well.
  • Convict Gunslinger
    • A points efficient option for an enforcer and Obey becomes potentially great with him due to his triggers. He's effective in ranged or melee as well making him a good way to fill in gaps for the crew as you don't have too many shooters outside of Bleeding Disease. Give him Oathkeeper and watch the bullets fly. Not a necessary addition but one I tend to consider.
  • Friekorps Trapper
    • Another gap filler in the crew, he's able to soften up models prior to the Rat/Joy bomb or pick off models that are outside of the affected bomb area. An added plus is that he's able to run schemes once he's no longer relevant for attacks, or attack once and push to place a scheme. For the points he's always considered in Outcast lists both online and in my lists.
  • Big Jake
    • A good consideration for the crew. Because of the model count he can slip under the radar as a target, and with rats being everywhere he'll have a good amount of options for when he comes back to safely score points. His ability to push helps with positioning models to where you need them to be. It doesn't hurt that he's an enforcer at a low points cost.
All other considerations for models aren't on my radar in terms of crew synergy or gap filling in the list. You can include them, but usually they're self contained and don't offer anything new for Hamelin. Strongarm Suit doesn't do anything that it doesn't already do for anyone else, Freikorpsmann are the same, models like Sue are great as a tech piece but don't add more, etc.

So with all these things considered this is the list I made:

Hamelin (7ss Cache)
  • The Plague
  • The Piper
  • Survivalist
Nix
  • Infectious Melodies
  • Oathkeeper
Killjoy
  • Oathkeeper
The Stolen
Freikorps Trapper
Obedient Wretch
Malifaux Rat x2

Originally I had the Convict Gunslinger in the Trapper's place but decided to try adding another significant minion in the crew so that Convict Labor becomes a little easier to achieve. I would have wished to have room for the Sewer King upgrade and add in Crooligans but the other upgrades are so important to have and Crooligans are not.

The Test Game

So we set up the table and had flipped the objectives. It was standard deployment with Collect the Bounty. The schemes were Convict Labor, Hunting Party, A Quick Murder, Leave Your Mark and Public Demonstration were the schemes. He was using Molly so I chose A Quick Murder - his highest cost model was Anna and Killjoy can dispatch of her - and Leave Your Mark as I felt confident I could get a model on the other side by turn two. I had to be careful because AQM with Killjoy is an easy scheme to achieve for the other side.

So in the game he started off by luring my Trapper, who was deployed on the center line, directly toward his two Belles. I did my meaningless activations as well as started the rat engine with the Obedient Wretch, and he did a few wounds to the Trapper while advancing toward the center. When he was out of activations I proceeded to move Hamelin forward, killed my Stolen for more rats, moved Nix to the center line and had Killjoy pop out to charge Anna. With Oathkeeper, a 1 AP charge and triggers I got a ton of attacks - but only managed to bring her down by one or two attacks as I kept missing and he'd damage prevent and had armor. It's still a good start though, as he was semi-shielded by being engaged and in a forest so he can still do a good amount of damage without much retaliation.

After that I got Nix into the mix and it went off from there. Because he had to split his resources between Nix and Killjoy they required a disproportionate amount of attention in order to be gotten rid of. Nix did the Blight Bomb and everything in the crew had blight, while charging Sybil got even more blight on her. Killjoy easily dispatched of Anna. Hamelin was able to join in on the fray and was using Bleeding Disease on Sybil and exploded her with little effort. All my other models were pretty much inconsequential as they weren't needed hardly; Hamelin, Killjoy and Nix were doing it pretty much all on their own. The Trapper used his ability to push once and placed a marker for Leave Your Mark before dying. Every failed duel on the opponent's part was just healing up Nix, who would get very close to dying before going right back up to full wounds. Nix was just being obnoxious with that.

After Killjoy died it was mostly a clean up game for Hamelin. Blight was hitting around 3 to 4 stacks or higher on everyone and he was just evaporating models with ease. We decided to call it early in turn 4 since he was unable to score Hunting Party and I was starting to score the strategy with ease. We both got full points for A Quick Murder.

Post Game

So after the game I analyzed what I did right, wrong, and what different strategies I came up with now that I've seen what it's like on the table.

  • Being aggressive with Nix is a winner, you just have to make sure he's going into the fray with an equally threatening ally like Killjoy to force half of the attacks off Nix
  • Blight needs to start going on turn one, I only got it started on turn 2 and while still effective it leaves Hamelin a little lackluster until turn 3. If you're able to get going earlier Hamelin becomes an absolute threat on turn 3 rather than turn 4.
  • The Trapper isn't really a necessary piece and that gives me a little flexibility, his points can float around as tech points depending on the matchup.
  • It's debatable if I need the Stolen to turn into rats on turn one, although if the Obedient Wretch fails even one of her summon attacks then the rats are absolutely necessary
  • With the current list placing scheme markers is my biggest gap.
  • The list falls prey to long range shooting, which luckily Ressers don't naturally have, as well as a large amount of Ca attacks. He had quite a few Ca attacks in his crew, but he flubbed all the crucial flips which helped me a lot. Really though there's not much one can do using Hamelin to prevent that, and it's primarily aimed at Nix himself so it's a case by case scenario. Against long range shooters like Hans you're just going to have to accept the weakness and work around it, possibly activate the Wretch ASAP and don't reveal your reactivate/fast rat until after he's activated Hans
So what have I decided to change?

Well my first serious consideration is how to deliver Nix. I really want him in their face just like Killjoy on turn one. So how do I do that?

I've already mentioned the Malifaux Child strategy, so I think I'm going to try that out. The risk is saving high cards for his Obey, and not summoning enough rats to start the engine. In the current list I have only two rats starting off in the list, and generally the only other way I'm summoning more rats is by sacrificing the Stolen. If I flip a black joker to hit, or flip only severe damage, I'll kill one of the rats I desperately need to summon a Rat King, which in turn becomes a Rat Catcher and Rat, which eventually summons Killjoy. However if the risk seems worth it I can use the Malifaux Child for one Obey before dying for a Stolen, then Hamelin can Obey after walking twice. Nix then discards Oathkeeper for one additional walk and either charges if in range (that's to a target within 22" of my deployment zone) or just double walks again to use his (0) action and get Blight going early.

The other option is to simply keep the Stolen totem as Rat backup as usual and just have Hamelin Obey Nix twice, I just prefer to have Hamelin closer to have his Auras be in effect on turn two as well as have the summoned Stolen in effective range for their abilities. In fact if they're in Nix's LOS then they can have fast and explode the turn they're summoned for possible Paralysis. Hmmm.... now it's starting to look interesting, as well as remind me of Ah Puch from Smite... that would lead to a lot of action on turn one alone when a player does not expect it at all, and should probably use a stone for cards turn one as well.

I still am deciding on what is needed instead of the Trapper to aid with my game, I wish I could fit something in like the Strongarm Suit as a follow up threat to when Killjoy and Nix die, or perhaps use the points for something cheap like the Hodgepodge Effigy and use the leftover points for one more Rat - this could be possible assistance for the Malifaux Child strategy as it leaves less to chance on the Wretch not summoning enough Rats, it just leaves me with one less model doing damage (which may not be necessary at all really).

I hope you've enjoyed my thoughts on this crew, however long-winded they may be! Let me know what you think or if you have any other ideas I haven't come across yet.



Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Small Updates


Hello web-heads!

So I hadn't been doing much in terms of painting or modeling, but I did get to get some good games in of varying tastes.


Last Wednesday I went to Montag's. The regular group had a few scheduling conflicts so I didn't expect to get any games in and went to pick up a few items. To my surprise Karl showed up and didn't have any opponents to play so I decided to get in a game. I didn't bring any of my models though so I ended up using his Ten Thunders. I decided to use Misaki since out of all his models it was the only master I had familiarity with. I also took a Dawn Serpent, Lone Swordsman, Katanaa Sniper and three TT Brothers. It felt odd only taking 7 models but I'd noticed that whenever I make TT lists they're usually on the low end of model count, and Karl even pointed out that it's not unusual in a TT list to end up with that count. He decided to use Yan Lo in the spirit of Masters with little to no experience, so it was like a battle of the wiffle ball bats. He took a Porter, Sniper, Obsidian Oni, Izamu, Komainu, and Toshiro - possibly more but I can't recall.

It was interesting to play as I hadn't played Misaki as TT since I first started playing Malifaux. I've always been under the impression that she was much better as a TT master than Outcast and this game fit under that assumption. We played Headhunter with Flank Deployment, with a lackluster scheme pool consisting of Convict Labor, Show of Force, Public Demonstration, Exhaust their Forces and Hunting Party. I ended up taking Convict Labor, a staple in my playstyle and easier with the TT Brothers, as well as Show of Force - a problematic scheme as my only Enforcer was the Lone Swordsman with Recalled Training, but I felt that he alone couldn't handle Hunting Party for three turns and the other schemes are my least favorite ones. He also ended up taking the same schemes for almost the same reasons.

The highlights of the game aren't glamorous, we both began by using our Snipers to pack some damage in early with his bringing my Sniper down to one wound early. I got the Swordsman right at the center with the Dawn Serpent while the Brothers spread out to place markers. Misaki dove headfirst into the clump of his models that were very close to his deployment zone and Stalked Izamu. On turn 2 she used Recalled Training and destroyed Izamu giving some breathing room for her for a round, and due to the positives from Recalled Training and Misdirection she was holding off almost every attack. The rest of the crew sort of milled about making markers and the Swordsman stayed where he was at to score for Show of Force.

In the end Misaki seemed to have done a good job of distraction and remained there until turn 4. Despite Izamu being resummoned she did a good job of putting on damage. I was learning how important her Stalk action is in terms of timing and targets, as I was using Misdirection when I could to play a game of attrition and resource drain. Although you have to accept the fact that she will never live a full game the trick seems to be making sure she drains as much AP as possible before she falls. This proved invaluable as it left only one model to oppose the Swordsman (Toshiro) and with the right cards he was able to dispatch of Toshiro in a fell swoop - his triggers seem to be a good answer for almost any matchup, it's just tough as it is heavily dependent on your control hand. The Brothers are very good for denial, as it was extremely tough for him to get any damage through on them as with every defensive flip I was managing to increase their defensive measures - on average I was at Df 7 with around two positive flips. He managed to dispatch two of them with Wp duels but it was well after they did their part.

We ended up calling it after turn 4 as he was no longer able to score Show of Force and had no way of scoring Convict Labor. He scored very well with Headhunter though and ended the game 8-4 in my favor.

It was fun running around with a different Faction and Master than usual, and once I feel comfortable or tired enough of Outcasts I will swap back to Ten Thunders for interest. I plan on utilizing two main masters - Shenlong and McCabe. I've had Shenlong for over a year now and have yet to really play with him, but Travis has been using Ten Thunders with pretty good results and made an excellent Shenlong crew that would be hard not to imitate so I'll most likely main McCabe. I got the limited edition Wild Ones crew that I'll want to definitely paint up well and use on the table, luckily he's not a bad master and has great options when used for Ten Thunders. The main issue I foresee is using Mounted Guards, a model I'm not too terribly impressed with in terms of list composition, but I want to use them because their Wild Ones models are too good to pass up. They're right at that price point that makes me want to swap them out for something more efficient, though, or at least for a better beatstick.


After that game the owner Guy proposed a game of Krosmaster Arena 1.0, which I had to oblige because that guy never plays games and I just had to witness it. He's said before that this is his favorite game and has the entire range for his personal collection. I've always liked the components and presentation of the game and even borrowed it a while back to read the rules. The models are excellent and come pre-painted in a very good example of work, I just didn't like the rules presentation as it doesn't have the rules organized in a traditional way - rather, the rules are presented bit by bit via scenario tutorials. I'm not a fan of this as it creates a hassle to find rules during play, and usually segments different parts of the same rules between basic and advanced rules sets.

We played a game of 4 vs 4. The mechanics themselves are simple enough to understand, and by the end of the game you definitely get your head wrapped around the strategies needed to win. I only had a few issues with the game, as a lot of the mechanics tended to add weight to the game but could have probably done with streamlining to eliminate that bloat. An example is their AP system, which is used for every action in the game from movement to attacking and collecting. The system almost requires for you to track the model's AP with dice or a similar method and just added fiddlyness to the game. I understand the need for this as there are so many things that you can do, but this can add analysis paralysis to a vulnerable player and makes it harder to see how your actions in your team can synergize with one another immediately. The dice system was also a bit tougher to understand as it's not in the traditional vein of random resolution. The end game is also kind of anti-climactic as it can end suddenly depending on your rolls, and generally killing one model can be all it takes to bring about a win or loss.

Overall though it was a fun experience, however it was definitely one of those games that you'll have to power through your first few games to get the full experience out of it. Personally I'm a fan of games that get going right out of the gate and are easy to grasp and explain to a first time player. This may not be one of those games, but it can hit the spot for some gamers who are looking for more crunch in their arena styled games - it's just not something I'd recommend for a player looking for a light or at least more understandable experience. The components, though, are definitely one of those elements that warrant prospective players to look past their first rough tries as there is a very good game beneath all those layers and the excellent models will have you coming back for more.


Lastly on Saturday I met up with Mike to get some other games in and hang out. We ate at a darn good Indian restaurant (I've never had Indian food before and it didn't disappoint) and started with a playtest of the new updated rules for a game that's in development.

Overall the game flowed much smoother than before, of course there were a few speed bumps but that is why we're playtesting it in the first place. I was super stoked to see that my suggestions from the first playtest got through in the update! I've never been able to take part of the ground floor development in a game and it's very exciting.

You can see from the picture above that I used the Battle Systems Kickstarter terrain. I absolutely love this stuff, although my use of trees was testing Mike's patience on a hilarious level. Pretty terrain isn't always the most functional...

After we playtested the game Mike indulged me in a demo for MERCS. I used the same 2x2 board set up and we played a 3 vs 3 game with me playing the FCC House 9 and giving him the KemVar. I had forgotten my rule book but it's easy enough to recall most rules as the game is very intuitive. It was a quick and bloody skirmish but his KemVar easily overcame my House 9. The KemVar camouflage can be a tough uphill fight without the right resources and the low model count can definitely make it harder, but I knew that going in. KemVar is a good faction to give for demos as it is more forgiving in terms of cover and helps ensure that the new player doesn't lose models too fast, it also is a good challenge to try and overcome as a more experienced player. Their Heavy is a devastating model once he's in the right spot and it is crucial that you get rid of him fast. The smaller board also plays very well into KemVar's strengths as when they close the distance their melee capabilities come into play. Overall it was a fun day and I got to have my MERCS fix even if it was out of pity (ha!). I really wish this game was more visible, it's a great light wargame and alternative to more of the dedicated games out there.

Anyway, this small update turned out a bit more wordy than I anticipated. Hopefully soon I will have more substantial material for you, but with the holidays coming up it may be a bit sparse from time to time. I'll try my best to keep things interesting!