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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Malifaux Battle Report (of sorts)

Hey folks!

So last night yours truly got to play another game of Malifaux at the wonderful shop named Montag's. With newly built models I put together a list that I find much more rounded for most Schemes/Strategies. I played against Mike, who I hadn't played in over a year despite seeing him more regularly. He uses Gremlins, which I've never gone against but have seen enough of his games to get the gist of their abilities.

Strat/Scheme Pool:

Standard Deployment

  • Turf War
  • ALitS
  • Breakthrough
  • Outflank
  • Assassinate
  • Deliver a Message
So it's a pretty Vik-centric pool, if I do say so myself. Assassinate is always good for the Viks, as they can easily kill most - if not all - things in the game. The problem is that when it's in the pool and they see Viks, they can pretty much rightly assume that it's what was chosen. I've tried breaking away from this, but with a Strategy like Turf War it's hard not to have a killy type scheme such as Assassinate, since it's going to be a bloody scrum in the middle for VP.

Here's what I brought:

  • Viktoria of Ashes
    • Synchronized Slaying
    • Sisters in Spirit
    • Sisters in Fury
  • Viktoria of Bloodz
    • Mark of Shez'uul
    • Scramble
  • Malifaux Child
  • Killjoy
    • Oathkeeper
  • Convict Gunslinger
    • Oathkeeper
  • Johan
    • Scramble
  • Freikorpsmann
  • 6 Soul Stones
(I'll do my best to recall what Mike brought)

Ulix, Bayou Bushwhacker, Gracie, The Major, piglets and stuffed piglets, Merris.

I don't know the upgrades well enough to recall them.

Mike announces both his schemes as Assassinate and Deliver a Message. I announced Assassinate and Breakthrough.

I deployed first and kept my core of the Viks and Malifaux Child in the center, slightly to the right of terrain. There's no secret about having them beeline toward the center marker, and their threat range keeps away models wanting to go over the center line. I deployed the Convict further right to provide shots for the Viks, as well as get rid of any potential scheme runners or flankers. I then deploy the Freikorpsmann as far left as possible while keeping the potential of readjusting to the center if needed, then put Johanna right next to him closer to the center. Mr. F (Mistah Eff - Arrested Development anyone?) was going to either run Breakthrough or threaten scheme runners, and Johanna was the bodyguard. Should Mike abandon that flank, Johanna can easily run toward the center as a counter strike element - where he slow speed, even with scramble, can actually help as she will hit the center after the scrum begins. 

Mike deployed his entire force dead center practically in base-to-base with one another. I mentioned how I wish I had blast templates, but then he said that they're all immune to it so it's a pretty good formation.

Turn one we all move forward. With no opposing models on my left I ran Mr. F straight forward, while Johanna started going toward the center to flank incoming models. The Convict went straight forward to line up shots for the bottleneck of the huge pig brick that's coming. The Viks and Child went up the center, lining up charges for next round's bloodbath.

His bacon brick moved forward and birthed a bunch of other bacons while I shouted lines like, "Get this thing out of me!" and "I want the drugs!" while pondering the idea of the Major, a male pig, giving birth to several other pigs, mid-battle. Also there were lots of Beggin' Strips commercial impersonations and a song Puumba sings from the Lion King. You can be a big pig too, oi!

On turn two I spent a SS to win initiative and had Vik of Blood charge in...

All you can eat...

With all the buffs on she was getting 3 +Flips on Attack (+1 built in, +1 Sisters in Battle, +1 Fate's Pariah), +1 Flip on Damage (0 Ability) and +2 Damage with Whirlwind trigger, which lets her attack all enemies in her Melee Range after damaging. That means with 2 attacks on the charge and 1 attack from Melee Expert that's 3 chances to swing at everyone in her range! With minimum 5 damage each attack that's a lot of dead folk...

I ate too much bacon...

This is what it looked like by turn three. The Viks (mostly Blood) whirled through Gracie (a tank), the Major, 2 war pigs, several piglets/stuffed piglets, the Bushwhacker and almost killed Merris.  It was brutal. I think I went through my whole deck with her activation alone!

As for retaliation, which almost always happens afterward, Blood was eventually killed... which then popped Killjoy right out (which he forgot about). Johanna came into the fray after all the bodies dropped to kill Merris, who then passed out 4 burning tokens (!) to everyone in range - an amazing ability - after Merris flew in and did a (0) interact to distract Ashes. That's a pretty potent ability if I do say so myself.

Then Mr. F popped his Breakthrough marker and Convict shot the Slop Haulers dead, at which point we called it. Killjoy was going to start messing up Ulix, who then had to look forward to Ashes and Johanna. With only one model left he wouldn't be able to get Turf War VP, and Mr. F was going to get full points from Breakthrough so it was an obvious win for me.

Overall it was a great game, we both had a lot of fun. The Viks are among the highest damage dealers in the game and are very efficient with their Melee AP. We then went on to discuss the finer points in Malifaux, and how it all comes down to AP efficiency.

One of the things we discussed was the stigma of how standardized lists aren't much of a factor in the game, and it all depends on the Strats/Schemes flipped. While true to a point, it was discussed that a good core set of models should be sufficient for most Strats/Schemes, and you can play with just a model or two being switched out if needed. The main focus should be what factions you will be playing against when it comes to crew creation rather than the Strats/Schemes. I completely agree with this sentiment, as I've limited myself to playing only with my Viktorias up to this point. I've kept my crew essentially the same, working around automatically bringing in my painted models and working around that. The models I've painted were done so because I like their abilities being able to handle most situations. The trick I've been having is that against some factions there are obvious drawbacks to what I've been bringing, not so much being able to achieve what pops up in the pool. Every pool created thus far I've been able to successfully accomplish, whether it's ALitS, Breakthrough or Deliver a Message (etc., etc.). It's the matchups that give me the longest pause. This crew worked wonders in my last few games, but completely froze up against Pandora's shenanigans. I haven't had a chance to test them out against Ressers, and I hear that in our Meta it's one of the factions that you definitely have to have a hard counter with or your game will be very lopsided. I don't have enough experience or firsthand data to back this up with, but when a player who placed Best in Faction at GenCon, as well as the group who regularly take top placement in every tournament they attend, I'm inclined to listen. 

Anyway, it was a great experience for learning. A few months ago I had no idea how my TheoryFaux would translate to the table. Now I feel like I've got a crew well handled with enough games under its belt that I could use it in tournaments without making my head spin. The next objective is to have another crew for Outcasts that I could use to fill in the gap of what my crew currently cannot do. Currently the only other master I have for Outcasts is Misaki, and I feel convinced that her playstyle (let alone her options as an Outcast master) are well out of my league. I will either start to practice with her, or get another master such as Von Schill to get a bead on.

Until next time!

Monday, August 17, 2015

MERCS Miniatures: House Member Complete!





Finished!

So here is my first completed MERCS model! I'm pretty proud of him, and I used a few new techniques that I believe I previously mentioned. For his base I painted it with GW's Desert Yellow and mixed in some grays and browns, while finishing it off with a mix of Sepia, Brown and Black washes. I painted the can with grays and lined it with a dark grey to give it a sculpted look although it is a flat surface (I used a piece of sprue cut to size). I then used Woodland Scenics grass glued to areas of the sand to create variation and used Army Painter tufts of grass (Wasteland Grass, I believe), which is a superb and easy to use product. I've never gotten the tuft grass look like I see others use all the time and this was simple enough to utilize - all you do is get tweezers to pick out a sufficient tuft and glue it on the base!

The matte varnish kind of frosted teh base of the model, but it's something I anticipated and can live with. I feel that over time my handling of the model will rub it off. Overall a solid piece and a good exercise of a different style for me. I'm still getting a feel for painting browns, although I hadn't realized until I painted him that I hadn't tried Khaki in a very long time. I plan on purchasing Vallejo's Leather/Wood paint set for Angel Giraldez's tutorial to get a better understanding on how to paint those effects, as it did wonders for my NMM technique - which I applied to other techniques outside of NMM.

Once it was all complete I felt much better about my airbrush Olive. Sometimes it's harder to estimate how a portion of the model will look until it is fully done. I look forward to refining certain techniques like the grey/black of the weapon and boots. I want to get it looking more like jet black while utilizing the same colors.

Next on the list: either the House Master or Pack Rat. Either I will paint a MERCS model or a Malifaux Commission, although I don't know which I'll do first...

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

MERCS Miniatures House Member... Almost Complete!



Here's my House Member for FCC House 9 of MERCS Miniatures almost complete! I only have to varnish him and put some flock/grass on the base to finish it off.

I tried a bunch of new techniques on him. First off it's my first model using the NMM color line from Vallejo. In an earlier post I mentioned how my NMM silvers aren't consistent. I believe it's mostly because of my color selection and application. When I purchased the set it came with a step-by-step on how to use it straight from the Infinity Paint Master himself, Angel Giraldez. Now granted, it's a typical step-by-step, in that it skips a lot of important things like the fact that he used an airbrush and how he glosses over washes and glazes, but that's to be expected. This set isn't intended for newbies I believe, and any veteran knows to adapt techniques to fit their tastes. This set didn't disappoint, and that touch of turquoise glaze really adds that pop to the metal. I also utilized the technique for the gun and boots to paint "black" material and it is by far my favorite way to paint black. Although the boots turned out more grey than I'd wanted, it's definitely a step forward. I also used a new skin recipe to experiment with. I wanted to make him look more grounded in realism than my usual cartoon skin. It did the trick but was much more difficult to work with. I intended for him to look less Caucasian to try out different skin tones, but he still looks it. Using the set's guide definitely made me want to pick up Angel's recent book on his techniques. I wish I got it when I saw it for the limited edition model, but the techniques are valuable enough.

Another new thing was marking his arcs, which I've never done before. I never liked the way it makes a miniature look, and I still don't. Yet it's pretty important to have them in this game so I figured to give it a try. A few simple lines/slashes of turquoise to white gave it a glow on the black base, which was an idea I've seen before and planned to use on my Retribution one day. It looks cool enough, but since I was eyeballing it rather than using a tool the arcs are definitely not 100% perfect. I figure it should be doable though.

I also utilized a new basing technique. Instead of PVA glue I used super glue (the runny kind, not the gel which I use for modeling) on the base and dipped it in the sand. This created a unique texture that captures all the itty bitty granules to make a "smooth" floor. Since it also catches the bigger granules you end up with a much more varied texture than PVA usually creates. I also painted it differently than usual. I've always felt my bases lacked variation of color, usually because I painted the whole basecoat one color then drybrushed the entire thing a highlight color. This usually felt flat, even when I added in other textures like bigger rocks and static grass. This time I did the shaded basecoat technique and utilized 3 different washes for variation. It made it more realistic, although it doesn't quite "pop" like other bases. But since it's there to provide contrast to the model it doesn't take your eye away.

I also thought it would be neat to add in terrain elements that would help with a more urban feel. A 30mm base is rather small for creating elaborate bases. One solution most people go with is elevation by making the model much taller than the base, adding cork and sculpey to create elaborate rubble. I think it looks good, although from a gaming standpoint this can create problems. For games that require true LOS the taller model can conflict with rulings, and any overhang can create issues like getting in B2B contact and measuring. For MERCS not only did I want them flat on the base for LOS issues and storage, but some of the models have fiddly little ankles and tiny feet, so pinning is not an option and any attempts to take it off its metal slot will surely result in despair.

Her left foot is the only point of contact. Seriously?!

So keeping them on their metal slot flat to the base seemed like the best option. To add an urban theme I had to think of other ways to invoke that feeling. This is something I've given a lot of thought over since I started playing Infinity. For this model I took a rounded piece of plastic from a sprue and cut it down to size. I painted it to look like a tin can rusting out on the ground. I think it adds a unique feel without overpowering the model. I have other ideas I want to do as well, I just have to make sure I can size them down to fit on the base like I have done here.

I learned some things painting this model. One: I don't believe using an airbrush on him made him look better. Sure, I got some good gradients on the olive. But it wasn't anything I couldn't achieve by brush, and I feel like I lost some opportunities to make it look more dynamic like I did on the armor and pouches. It isn't a smooth model like Malifaux's models, it doesn't have large surface areas like some of the other factions do, and the olive only covered maybe less than half the model's textures. Most of it was taken up with pouches, belts, weapons, etc. So did I save some time? Maybe. Did I add to the miniature using it? I don't feel like I did.

Well the good thing about this faction is that they are a rag tag group, so having everyone look different adds to its character. I already planned on having everyone look different, but olive was going to be their main shared color. Luckily all their models have a bandanna that I can paint red, much like the Resistance from Terminator (which is what drew me to them in the first place). I bought some other things to fit on the base and give that urban feel as well as gathered some ideas from the interwebs and Pinterest.

I'm pretty impressed with the paint job if I say so myself! In one attempt I got a style closer to Angel Giraldez. Although it is a lofty aspiration to get near his level, I'll take lessons from him any day of the week.

In other news I got some awesome cheap terrain from Fat Ogre:


This is from their "Bones" line, which uses PVC for the models keeping it extremely cheap when compared to other models. Granted you lose a certain amount of quality when it compares to plastic and resin, but really it is very doable and extremely helpful in RPGs where you don't necessarily care about the highest quality sculpt for things like NPCs and minions.

This line also creates affordable terrain for both modern and fantasy eras. I felt like I found a gold mine when I saw a crate, a dumpster and a smaller weapons crate for less than $20! The dumpster was $5! You can get plenty of LOS blocking terrain that doesn't take up too much area for games with this. Plus they look great and build together easily. I previously got crates from Alien Wars' line and I thought it was probably the most impractical way to approach the model, and ended up having to add wooden blocks to ensure it stands up while gluing. This is one of those purchases you can add on slowly and have a whole table's worth of scenery in a small amount of time and effort.

I've also gotten yet another game called Golem Arcana. It arrives tomorrow, but uses an extremely cool element of incorporating technology into gameplay and simplifies complex rules to allow easy entry. Let me just say that it looked so awesome that when I showed Kristy the video on how it works her jaw dropped and said that we need to order it right meow!



That's another post for another time... until then, happy gaming!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

MERCs WIP, Malifaux Gaming and Gencon Goodies!

Hi all!

So it's been a busy week in the gaming department! Lets categorize:

MERCs

First Model Primed

I got working on my first MERCs model, a House Member. I glued some sand and a big piece of slate on his base. I also took a piece of round sprue and cut it down to size, then glued it on top of the sand. My goal is to create a realistic city fight scene with their bases, and I plan on painting it up like a can of soup!

Here is his current stage...

So far I've sprayed on his main color, olive. Lately I've been in love with this color and it suits this model well as a guerrilla fighter. Only now have I just realized that he's wearing green fatigues in a city fight, but a ragtag group like House 9 don't have matching outfits for every outing lol. I'll see where it takes me!

Yesterday I purchased some green tufts for basing along with razor wire to create more of an urban war zone feel. I plan on trying out a new recipe for skin tone on him too, as this house is centered in the Middle East as well as having a multi-ethnic population. And he has a handlebar mustache, so that's a win!


I also got a 36"x36" game mat yesterday. It's basically a big mouse pad, but with the urban image it works perfectly for MERCs. It can also moonlight as a mat for Malifaux since it has the right dimensions, the aesthetic just doesn't belong. It's still better than unpainted hardboard and masking tape, which is what we usually play on.

Reuben and I also got to play our first game this week!

This game is EPIC.

I've tried to hold back my enthusiasm for the first game, I didn't want another harsh disappointment like I did with Deadzone. This game, however, just rocked my socks. In less than two hours we played 3 games and hardly ever had to use any reference. The rules are clear enough where they don't get in the way of the fun or strategy, and the game flows so well. We only used one of the advanced rules (Bounding), but it's still a hoot within the basic game. I got to use all the models I currently own to see how they operated, and see how the rules interact in real time rather than in theory. I like how mobile the House Member is, and the Chem Engineer's weapon is just brutal. The Boomer was a sad disappointment, though. Not because it didn't perform like I thought it would, it's only because he only rolled one successful attack ever, and he only had to hit on 3s! My first shots of the game required 10s, and my House Member got both his shots through!!

It's a great game, and it begs to have terrain built for it. I showed a few of mine, and Reuben got bit by the bug and printed out a 3'x2' mat along with making his own barriers. I have a few more plans of my own, but I'm going to concentrate on painting my current force before anything else.

Malifaux

First off, the goodies!


One of the players here went to Gencon and was gracious enough to pick up models for us. I got the Shenlong starter, a Lone Swordsman and the Gencon Exclusive Miss Anne Thrope (who counts as a Wastrel). It's all Ten Thunders stuff, and it wouldn't normally be released any time soon (Shenlong isn't even scheduled yet as far as I know, so that's at least until after November). I have plans (where have I heard that before?) for Shenlong's model, and I hope it goes to what I imagine. It's funny that I haven't even finished his proxy, although it was definitely table top ready. Overall though I think that I'll just build the rest of his crew, then only paint Shenlong because he's the only one I'm excited to paint.

Lately I've been trying to game regularly with the guys at Montag's for Malifaux. Their crew is extremely skilled and I'm hoping to learn a thing or two by playing them consistently. Well it's starting to pay off, because I got my first legitimate win last night!

I played my typical Viktoria crew due to my model limitations, and he played a Lynch crew. The Strategy was Reconnoiter, which I hate since I don't have a high model count, with the schemes Plant Evidence, Assassinate, Protect territory, ALITS and take prisoner. I know my crew rather well now, at least enough to know their capabilities. I chose Protect Territory and Assassinate and kept them hidden.

The main event was on turn one. I deployed the Viks and the Student in the center, the Convict Gunslinger on the left by himself and Johana with a Ronin on the right. The plan was to kill models to deny the Strategy, while capitalizing on Assassinate. The end game would be my flank models popping schemes and sitting on them while claiming two quarters for Reconnoiter. Johana and the Ronin are capable of sitting on schemes and the quarter, both having hard to kill, and the Convict can kill models quite well. Well first turn he moved the Hungering Darkness and two young Nephilim to the center of the board, directly in front of my Viks and Student. I teleported Ashes, who then teleported Blood and buffed her up. In three attacks all three of his models evaporated. I knew this would then trade with his Nekima, but I felt it was a good trade being that I killed almost half his army - including a heavy hitter - for my one model, who then popped out Killjoy!

In the end I got 4vp to his 2 before calling it on turn 4. I only had 2 models left to his 1 doppelganger, so it was looking like there was no way out for him.

I'm hoping that this is my first step toward being a consistent competitor in games. I'm knowing my Vik crew more and finally have a grasp on using them effectively. I just wish I had a second Outcast master that I can use well - Misaki is not gelling with me at the moment.

Anyway, that's just an update on what I've been up to. Hopefully next time I'll have some completed pics for you to enjoy!