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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Henchman Hardcore Success!

It was in my

Hello internet!

So the tournament on 7/23/16 was a success with a first place win!

Granted, it was a small tourney with only 5 participants, but I'll take what I can get. The list I used seemed very successful in tackling the problems I anticipated.

As stated before, I took Hannah with Survivalist as my leader, with Sue, Big Jake and Johana in tow.

Sorry I didn't take any pictures, it was a small tournament and since the rounds are supposed to only be 30 minutes I didn't feel like I had the time to take photos.

The first game was against Paul, a brand spanking new player and first time player at Montag's. He declared Neverborn, using Hungering Darkness as his leader and a Bloodwretch, Convict Gunslinger and Illuminated with no upgrades. Overall it was a fun game, and it went a tad slower since I made sure to let him know exactly what my models were doing and what was going on, but this had no impact on enjoyment whatsoever.

I started by moving in Sue slightly to use his Man in Black ability, this way it neuters Huggy as all his attacks are Ca actions. Paul then moved his Convict in and blasted Sue down to 3 wounds remaining! Hannah came in immediately to block LOS to him as well as provide protection from Huggy's Ca attacks. It proved to be a very good deterrent, as Huggy was hesitant to get locked in with Hannah with no suits in his attacks at a negative flip from Sue. Huggy ends up moving on the outside perimeter of the Turf circle. Johana then runs to engage both the Illuminated and Convict but with her 3" melee she made it where each one would have to spend an AP to get in their ranges. He swings and misses with an Illuminated, then Big Jake walks the inside perimeter of the Turf circle as an anchor model for scoring. He sends his Blood Wretch in to attack and gets him down to 3 wounds.

Through Johana and Hannah the rest of the game lead to no enemies alive, coupled with Sue this attrition was very successful. Incorporeal and a high soulstone cache for Huggy made it hard to get Assassinate on him, leading to only get 2 VP since I was unable to kill him early on. I ended up winning with a high differential that, once again, I don't have my notes to say exactly how much.

My second game pitted me against Travis, Malifaux player extraordinaire, using his Ten Thunders. He brought Kang as his leader, with a Dawn Serpent, Kamaitachi and Fermented River Monk. It was an intense and crazy game, as he eliminated Hannah early in the second turn, with hardly any damage on his crew - most of which healed up due to the Dawn Serpent being in range of so many models with Ca actions.

I never gave up though, as I've seen plenty of games swing the other way due to determination - a lot of those examples were in games I've lost. I steadily chipped away using Johana and Sue, with both of them using minimum damage 3 to pile on damage and Sue's Ring of Fire finishing off any stragglers. Big Jake was used as a last resort for damage and possible movement shenanigans, but as long as he was around I would be getting Turf VP. I ended up squeaking by a win by 1 VP!

My last game was agains Mike, our resident grumpy Gremlin player. He used McTavish as a leader, with Trixie, a Stuffed Piglet and the Sow as his crew. Much like Travis he was able to eliminate Hannah early in the second turn - McTavish just melts models sometimes, and the Sow follow up wasn't something she could handle anymore. Luckily, I kept a cool head and systematically chipped the models down once more. Johan and Sue took down the Sow, with Big Jake continuously getting pushed 12" back from Trixie. With a smart use of cards I was able to withstand the brunt of McTavish's shots. Mike used his piglet to blow up for one damage on Sue and Johana and Sue succumbed to all the damage. Johana attacked McTavish to get him low on wounds and used her push trigger to move him out of LOS for shooting and range of the Turf marker. Eventually Big Jake was able to catch Trixie when she used her push on Johana instead and killed her. Since he counts as two models for the Strategy Johan was free to pursue a running McTavish and got the assassination. I ended up winning that one by 1 VP as well!

So I consider this a great success! I got $15 in store credit and used it to purchase another Phantom for my Imperials in X Wing. I also got an alternate card for Hamelin, nothing fancy but I love exclusives I can use. One day I should put together my Hamelin box and see how it works on the table. Mike got an alternate sculpt for the Katanaka Sniper and gave it to me, as last time I gave him my alternate Bayou Gator, which is extremely appreciated as it's something I know I'll need for my Ten Thunders - those snipers are a staple in Ten Thunders crews.

When we came back I played a 50ss game against Karl, a Ten Thunders player. We pointed out that we have yet to ever be matched against each other, despite being at 5 tournaments in a row together. We hadn't played each other in over a year even though we regularly see each other.

From memory, the strategy was Extraction, one that I love. Convict Labor, Show of Force, Exhaust their Forces, A Quick Murder and something else were the schemes. I decided to use Leve for the first time since his recent Nerf (MAKE CHANNEL GREAT AGAIN) now that my sodium levels have subsided and I've had enough time to consider how my game will change. Due to him losing a stone in his cache I also had to downgrade Ashes and Dust to having no upgrades.

I used Leve with his usual 3 upgrades, two free Waifs, Ashes and Dust, Mechanical Rider, two Flesh Constructs and a Necropunk. Karl used Lynch with a returning Hungering Darkness, Katanaka Sniper, two Illuminated, two Depleted and Sue from what I remember.

It was a good practice game, especially for what I have to adjust to with the new Leve. I just had to keep in mind that he's not the same model melter he was before, but potentially could be against lower level minions. I'd have to finish heavier models using something else, so I actively engaged Ashes and Dust more than I usually do.

Throughout the game I would have Leve either kill or severely wound a minion like Depleted or Illuminated. I also concentrated on eliminating Sue as fast as possible whenever the chance would come, which gave me A Quick Murder on turn two since I got attacks in before he could use his (0) ability. He got A Quick Murder within the first turn as Ashes and Dust practically give it away - this is something I have to keep in mind for the future, as it could be a way to deny VP should a player think it's easy. The last couple games I've done a different opening move than usual, using Ashes to move up twice and lay a marker down ensuring he's around 10" away from the edge. Leve then sacrifices him to move extremely far forward in base contact, getting more activations from Ashen Core and Dust Storm and being in range for shooting. This leaves him vulnerable though, so he has to do this last when there isn't much retaliation available, and he'll be down in wounds at the start of the next turn. The payoff is that you can kill a model on turn one easily, and set up your initiative for turn two by already being in position. You'll need to anticipate losing him though and potentially losing your offensive pressure for a round, but usually you can withstand one activation with damage prevention and smart use of cards. Once you get through it you melt another model before slipping away. If you're gone for the turn, well you've still got Ashes to add some damage, not to mention your other models being able to get a swing in.

In the end I won by 1 VP. Leve feels a bit different, but you can mitigate the change by focusing on melting smaller models rather than opening up big ones. I essentially ignored Huggy throughout the game, and fed him models that could get a damage here and there for someone to kill at the best moment when needed. With every turn resulting in one or two dead models on his side I was able to attrition away the victory. Every AP spent on Ashes would end up wasted, as I brought him back a few times, and the Mechanical Rider proved to be enough of an anchor for the Waifs that the Flesh Constructs didn't need to be held back. Losing the Necropunk early proved to be hurtful, though, as since I shifted focus for Ashes to damage instead of schemes he was my only reliable marker maker. After that I was hard pressed to get my Convict Labor going.

Leve still is able to put the hurt on big models, but the payoff is a bit later. Going after a fresh henchman with 12 wounds can still be beneficial for Leve, as he can still do 6-10 wounds before damage prevention reliably. Just don't expect him to melt them in one go without good cards, and plan on only doing 2 damage per shot without triggers. Essentially his "flowchart" tends to be this now:
  1. Buy a suit
    • Rams for heavy targets
  2. Channel
  3. Attack for 4 damage or higher
  4. Attack for 2 damage
    • Buy a tome if it's a henchman/master
  5. Attack for 2 damage.
    • Save severe cards for last attack to ensure hit
    • Buy a crow if target is a minion with 2 damage left
    • Buy a tome if it's a henchman/master
There are a few alterations depending on every situation, but he's still a reliable source of damage, and you can anticipate around 8 damage on average and 6 in worst case scenarios. You just have to save a severe card for the damage you get when you channel, but if you're using the ram to open up a model then you don't need to use it. It's going to be hard to use a severe card for damage now outside of your only Channel attack. 

Another use that's come up with his new nerf is his ability to give Slow to models. This doesn't usually come up since he almost always kills what he shoots, but it will definitely become useful now that he's not guaranteed anything on heavy targets. Getting rid of that 1 AP may be what it takes to lessen the retaliation and ensure a kill next turn, especially if they can't walk to get in range.

I also tried using Ice Gamin summons for the Mechanical Rider instead of Metal Gamin. I figured with her ability being able to summon different models depending on the situation I should use Ice/Fire ones when there aren't constructs on the board. Their ability to explode for damage when they die can be very useful as a road block, and I can detonate them myself if I need pseudo-blast damage or an attack against high defense. It will be a great trick to pull on say, Lilith with 2 damage left for some reason. I did learn that I shouldn't use them against models with Obey abilities, as Huggy was sending them back to the Rider and blowing them up - her damage reduction does not work against this and she took a lot of damage from it. It's still useful, I just have to be more discerning as to which one I use.

Anyway, I'll leave you with my WIP on Sue. The pictures were hastily taken, so it's not the best ones of him. He also hasn't been matte varnished yet, so it's reflecting a lot of light that I won't have when I'm done. I essentially got him to tabletop standard before the tourney.

See ya!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Malifaux: Sue WIP, Henchman Hardcore Ideas and X Wing

Hello all...

So over the weekend I started progress on Sue for Malifaux, the pic shows where I'm currently at. I forgot to take a picture of the back, but it's not all that different from what you see so far. 

I debated over how I was going to approach his clothing. He's a Johnny Cash reference so I definitely wanted to keep him as The Man In Black, but black is such a difficult color for me and his model has so many fold that have proven difficult for me in the past to paint successfully with an airbrush. I debated whether I should have black highlighted with blue or purple so create a different kind of black, but decided that doing so may take away having it look like black if that makes sense. So I decided to stay with my tried and true combination of Sombre and Wolf Grey.

I basecoated the model black. My first layer was 50/50 Black/Sombre Grey, then highlighted with Sombre Grey and hit it with Wolf Grey for the shoulders and hat to draw attention and give the lighting a bit of drama. 

For the guitar, pistol and leg armor I did my usual NMM recipe of Black/Cold Grey/White.

The whole model got blacklining treatment, then I edge highlighted the guitar, pistol and legs. That's where I decided to call it a night. I'll have to highlight the clothing and jacket, paint the skin and hair, and finish with the base. The last step will be to airbrush the flames, which I'm planning on using Scorpion Green, and that is a step I'm fearful of, as I don't want to ruin my work with the guitar. So far I'm pretty pleased with how it's going, I think I've finally gotten down how to airbrush large folds and keeping it relatively close to black.

So the reason why I'm working on this particular model is because I will be using him in a Henchman Hardcore tournament this Saturday. It's a really fun format, and we're hosting one for the players to get prepared for GenCon's HH tournament. If you're not familiar with the format it's simple: It's a 20ss fixed list tournament, you have to have exactly four models, and you can't use leftover soulstones to increase your cache. The Strategy is Turf War with Close Deployment and the only scheme is Assassinate. Also, summoning or any abilities with summoning in them, are not used and the round is 30 minutes.

Sue is a really good model overall for the game, and may seem even better suited for this format. He's slightly pricey at 8ss but you get a ton of value for the price. He's very similar to a Convict Gunslinger, being that he has a pair of pistols with a built in positive flip for attacks and is Relentless. His walk is the same at 4 and can use the pistols in melee with a range of 2.

So what does the extra stone give you? Hard to Kill, for one. That's always a great ability to have and helps increase his staying power by an extra attack most of the time. He has an ability called Hurt which lets you draw a card at the end of the activation for one damage. He's got Critical Strike as a trigger with a built in Ram, so his minimum damage is 3 - that's a ton of damage and a flipped/cheated Ram makes the minimum damage 4. He has two (0) actions that are great against a lot of models. The first is The Man In Black, giving anyone a negative flip to Ca actions targeting him and models within 3. This can prove invaluable against the right models and is a good way to deny damage and AP. His other (0) action seems to be the main reason to take him in this tournament. Ring Of Fire makes it where any enemy model ending their activation within 3 will suffer Burning 2, and with his trigger Rising Higher increases that to Burning 3. This is killer in HH format, as everyone is going to be in the center of the board for a slugfest. If I constantly activate him first and use Ring of Fire while engaging a model that's a ton of damage coming from him with his pistols, and is a great deterrent for models that want to charge.

The are a few downsides to him when compared to the Convict, although none that keep him from being a solid choice. His Sh stat is one lower than the Convict. The Convict has Rapid Fire, which would be amazing for Sue, and triggers that Slow or give another attack, which is awesome when it happens for most of your Rapid Fire shots. The other benefits for the Convict don't come up too often, like his Bulletproof 1 and Defensive Trigger. The Convict also has a lower defense, which is why the trigger isn't that great especially since it's not built in. Overall it's worth the trade and additional stone, as Hard to Kill, higher damage and versatile Auras more than make up for any shortcomings. In bigger games Sue is also able to get rid of Corpse and Scrap markers, which can be invaluable. If he's ever in a matchup against Lynch and the Hungering Darkness then his other Pistol trigger would be hilarious, as it forces totems to discard two stones or die outright!

Henchman Hardcore List

So I've only played one HH game, and it was a bit of a silly list to use Pride for once. As expected he wasn't good at all, even in a format that forces everyone to be in his aura. I thought that it may be decent as it has a lot of manipulation for Cheating and discarding, but it really isn't at all and can even hurt me if I'm not careful.

I did find that Hannah is a great leader for the format, and Johan is a great followup model as her slow speed isn't a factor in these games.

So this is the list I plan on taking to the tourney:
  • Hannah
    • Survivalist
  • Sue
  • Johan
  • Big Jake
Hannah is great for this format. Counterspell helps with denial, her Freikorps suit denies blasts on her as well as auras like Black Blood along with Armor 1 to help survive. Her Nether Flux will be put to great use as a 4 inch aura that removes suits from everything is crucial. In my test game against 3 Flesh Constructs and Sebastian it helped deny getting tons of poison counters. When there's such a tiny amount of Soul Stone use in game (you only get your cache) it really forces opponents to choose between damage prevention or getting crucial suits to attacks, and this is going to affect anyone that gets remotely near my crew, which is always going to happen. Giving her Survivalist helps her stick around that much more, and the damage denial will make models have to earn their Assassinate points. Her ability to copy Ca actions may help depending on the enemy models, but I can always copy Johan's Rebel Yell with it as a (0) action to get rid of conditions without losing AP as long as I have a Ram. A 3 inch melee range doesn't hurt, along with its possibility to force a Horror Duel which can be crucial at the right moment. Gaining an extra Control Card at the beginning of the turn is amazing, as in these small games you won't normally go through your deck nearly as much so every card counts. In linchpin moments you can spend a stone to cycle two cards and have a great hand for the round. The debate is whether you anticipate needing better cards or damage prevention that round.

Johan(a) is great for her points. She has her Rebel Yell to get rid of conditions (may only use this if Hannah is Paralyzed as it's more efficient for her to use it), has Hard to Kill, and Flurry with a Ml6 minimum 3 damage attack - that gets two positive flips on Constructs (...and Tyrants...). Our Meta is really big on Constructs, so I can see her getting a ton of mileage. She, like Hannah, also has a 3 inch melee range. If there's anything vulnerable to one of those two in melee then it's double the force. Her heal will be situational, as it's both her AP and is 1/2/3 that can't be cheated. If she's on her last wound from Hard to Kill it may be worth it, but I'd need a high card to avoid being killed the next turn. Most of the time hitting will be a better option than a more than likely 1 heal.

Big Jake is in there for a few reasons. The main reason is that he counts as two models for the purposes of Turf War, which is huge in a 4 model crew game like HH. He can be the only one in the 6 inch area and I score a point for the Strategy. He's also got a melee trigger that pushes models 3 inches with a follow up, so in the rare case that enemies are at the edge of the Turf aura he can push them out while staying in the bubble. This is more situational but useful nonetheless. A potentially huge bonus is that when he dies he has a chance to come back at the end of turn 5 so long as there's a friendly model. With Hannah's staying power there's a good chance, and all three of my remaining crew members each have Hard to Kill with their combos and damage being a good deterrent for charges. Lastly he has a short ranged attack, this can be used while avoiding models if necessary, or rather when he can't get a good swing in.

The overall strategy of the crew is stacking damage while denying abilities. The first activation each turn should be Sue to maximize damage through Ring of Fire (as models receive burning only if they end their activation within 3, so it doesn't affect models already activated), or deny Ca actions with The Man in Black. He can pop 1-2 shots at minimum 3-4 damage to soften up targets, or charge them if necessary to ensure maximum burning. Hannah will need to stay with Sue for protection as well as bait models into Sue's aura - it will be hard to avoid needing to get close to Sue if most if not all my crew is right next to him. If Sue went first and isn't engaged she can block off LOS/charge lanes with her large base while denying suits needed for Ca abilities. Her entire cache will most likely be reserved for damage prevention to keep away VP from assassinate, all the while her melee reach of 3 can really reach out and touch someone. Big Jake and Johan can activate interchangeably, depending on what is needed and what the board state looks like. If she needs to finish off models she can activate last so she'll know the best position for assistance. If she's needed to remove conditions like poison to prevent Expunge she can activate sooner to deny damage. Big Jake will be the last on the priority list unless he really needs to play keep away or push activated models. His initial death isn't much for concern as long as he can come back on Turn 5. As long as I can keep my 3 main models in the Turf War for 4 turns I should be able to get full VP for the Strategy, Attrition can usually net my VP for Assassination as the Burning 2/3 will start to take its toll, especially with two models having minimum damage 3.

My original thoughts for a list were Rusty Alyce as a leader with Survivalist, Sue, Convict Gunslinger and Johan. The idea of denying charges to the entire crew while shooting the crap out of everything from a Rapid Firing Rusty and Convict, with Sue's nasty damage, and Johan's as a melee backup, seemed very nice. I'd still have 3 Hard to Kill models, with more of an emphasis on melee denial and shooting damage. Anything with sufficient armor or Bulletproof would stop it cold though, and although H2K is great it won't stop a melee beast. It seemed like my Hannah list was more versatile and concentrated on the Strat/Scheme. However, even with Bulletproof 2/3 from models like Snow Storm it still can potentially do a lot of damage. If all triggers were hit, 3 attacks from Rusty and 3 from Convict along with 2 from Sue all doing 1 damage is still 8 damage, but it's not nearly as much as you can do with melee against it - one Flurry from Johan is 9 damage, and she'd get two positives against constructs like a Flesh Construct.

My current list seems like a solid list. I know I'll be facing a few Resser crews, an Arcanist crew, maybe a Neverborn crew, and definitely a Gremlin crew. The Resser ones I've seen are pretty nasty backed by some shrewd players, but it's not much I don't have a grasp on. In my practice game I had a much worse list and held my own for a tie. There's a chance he may not take that crew after seeing what I'll probably bring, but I'll be ready for it if he does. The Arcanist one I saw is pretty scary, as it has Snow Storm, Ice Gamin and an Ice Golem which seems nasty together. The Gremlin crew has some pushing shenanigans which can be a headache for me.

X Wing

In other news I played my first game of X Wing on Saturday with my buddy Derrick. I have a small Imperial force, consisting of 4 Tie Fighters, a Tie Advance, Phantom and Inquisitor. It's a pretty fun game, and definitely a different learning curve. Almost every game I kept bumping into my own ships over and over and over again, even at times where no enemy ships were around. Movement is a pretty big strategy in the game and it's a hard one for me to wrap my head around.

I definitely found that I like the Phantom as it fits my play style. I don't think I'm quite ready for a swarm style of force, as keeping even three ships coordinated is a lot for me to think about as a newcomer. I'll keep playing using elite style groups consisting of 3-4 ships until I get the hang of the game.

That's all for now!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Infinity: Shinobu Kitsune Complete!

So the other day I finished the Shinobu and am pretty pleased with the results. I changed the shoulder plates and it stands out much better, and I touched up a few NMM spots on the arms. I also added the green OSL glow to the forearm and sword, which the sword turned out to be a pretty difficult task as I got the spray all over her torso and had to retouch it all up.

I decided against adding the rust to the base as I am a lazy guy lol.

Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Infinity: Shinobu Kitsune WIP

Howdy Howdy!

So over the weekend I decided to work a bit on one of my absolute favorite sculpts for Infinity: the Shinobu Kitsune for Yu Jing. Lately I've felt a bit stagnant on Malifaux models and needed a change of pace. My friend Reuben has been getting back into Infinity and building up the local community, so I was easily coerced into brushing on some paint for this gal (by coerced, I mean only mentioning Infinity made my brain go oooh shinies).

I was taking a look at my Infinity models and deciding which one deserved some treatment. I decided on this one, even though I figured she'd be a real challenge and easy to mess up, but she is the one I'm most excited to use on the tabletop and I started the work.

I took some textured plasticard that I already had cut into a circle a long time ago and cut it in half. I also used plain plasticard and a strip of thicker card and used them to cover up the slot in the base. I had to keep the tab on her foot as she has a tiny contact point where her toes are, as I am too lazy to figure out another solution or attempt pinning such a small area.

Through some clever anglesI feel I've done a decent attempt of covering up the slot while preventing it from being obvious as a lazy cover up. This part took me way longer than I had anticipated, as shaping the card to be round was very difficult with just a hobby knife - again, too lazy to get sand paper from the store. I left part of it as bare base as proof of said laziness.

The next day I primed the model black. I airbrushed a minimal amount on the model, only using Black/Sombre Grey on her pants. She's very tiny, and I wasn't too confident on using the airbrush for the NMM grey for her torso and arms. I'm sure I could do it, but I wanted a dark metal color and that required more control via brush. Eventually I plan on practicing my airbrush technique with a lower psi than normal, as right now I'm used to about 40psi. In his painting book Angel Giraldez, the Infinity god, mentions he uses 30psi and is able to get very thin consistent layers so I figured that I should try that out.

After spraying the pants lightly I sprayed the entire base black, then did the riveted section with Grey/White. I then mixed a light green and light blue 50/50 and sprayed the other half quickly. After black lining and edge highlighting you get what you see.

I then started working on the pants, which was extremely challenging to say the least. I already struggled with a similar texture before with the Oniwaban with disappointing results, so I tried something new. Painting black is one of my weaknesses, as it's hard to do without making it look grey for me. Although I feel they look good, it still doesn't read as black to me and some parts are very sketchy and inconsistent. I also didn't realize that I didn't have good lighting while I painted in the living room, so it affected how I painted. I may touch it up later on but I didn't want to stay hung up on working the pants.

Here I just put some basecoats on the face, hair and armor. For the face I used Reaper Tanned Skin Shadow. The hair was a 50/50 mix of Wolf and Somber Grey. The armor was 50/50 Cold Grey/Black.

Here it is with better light from the kitchen, which was when I realized I should have painted there lol. Here is where you can see more of the inconsistencies in the pants.

Here is how she stands as of now. I started on the NMM for her legs, torso and arms using Black/Cold Grey/White. I painted on Wolf Grey/White for the hair with a glaze of Reaper Blue (can't remember which one) with a limited controlled glaze of GW Nuln Oil for shading. I also painted the face using Reaper Golden Skin Shade/Mid/Highlight with a bit of white for the brightest areas, and used the Reaper Blue color to shade the eyes.

There are some areas that I like and some I need to fix. The plates on her shoulders get lost on the model as they're just black, so I plan on just painting them the same NMM as the rest of her armor. I also mentioned earlier how I need to clean up the pants as well, as it just seems messy to me. I'm particularly happy with how the face and hair came out, especially considering I spent less than five minutes on the face and hair is generally a weak area in my experience. I also like how her hip area and calf turned out, I wish I was as consistent with her arms but they're so darn tiny.

So far it's been a great exercise in restraint for me. For everything except the face I only used two palettes, and it's all been a variation of grey. Her hair and pants are the same colors, just different mixes of Sombre Grey and Wolf Grey. The rest of her is different variations of Cold Grey, Black and White with attention to values. Like the Oniwaban, I wanted to keep her sort of monochromatic with the only change of color coming from her sword, which is something I've got to paint when I'm done with the rest of the model. I'm also debating if I should put rust on the base for variation using pigments, I just don't want to mess up the work I've already done.

Hopefully I can finish her this week and move on to another Infinity model. In the small list I made to play against Reuben I needed 4 Shaolin Monks and 2 Celestial Guards, I may do the Guards next - or most likely my painting ADD will kick in and I'll move onto something completely unrelated. Until next time, let me know what you think or if there are any criticisms!