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Friday, August 12, 2016

Von Schill vs. Shenlong: A Malifaux Battle Report! ...also Arena Rex...

Getting ready for a fight

Hey you crazy people!

On Wednesday I headed up to the illustrious Montag's for our regular Malifaux meet up. Our Grumpy Gremlin Mike Guy was generous enough to get items at GenCon for our group, so I picked up my limited edition Wild Ones crew box as well as the Parker Barrows box. I am super pumped to try out Parker, it's like I get to play as Shenlong in a faction I actually have a decent collection for. Not only does he play around with upgrades like Shenlong, but he has twice the number of them compared to him. This means four times the confusion during my first game, both for my opponent and myself!

I decided to try something different this week's game, in more ways than one.

Firstly I decided to give Von Schill another try. Although he's not top tier he seems capable enough to handle his own in a fight, and I wanted to see if maybe I jumped to the wrong conclusion with him. 

I also decided to take as many pictures as I could while playing. This helps with descriptions and recall, but also would be a quick way to take note of any mistakes of placement I made. So, fair warning, this will be pic heavy!

I ended up getting matched up against Travis, Mutha-Fauxer extraordinaire, and his Shenlong crew.


So it was Corner Deployment with the strategy being Guard the Stash - two 50mm objectives are placed 10" away from each other on the center line, with points scored by being within 2" of both of them with a member of your crew.

The pool had Convict Labor, A Quick Murder, Hunting Party, and two others I can't recall - of course, I don't have my notes with me because why would I.

This seemed like a good pool to test out Von Schill, as it was a guarantee that there would be models bunched up in or near the middle. I chose A Quick Murder, meaning I have to kill the most expensive model he owned within 3 turns for full points (target: Dawn Serpent), as well as Hunting Party - one that scores when a Henchman/Enforcer kills a minion/peon and scores when there aren't any left. I chose Hunting Party because it sort of coincided with AQM, as the Dawn Serpent is a Minion and he only had one other minion in his crew with one peon. He ended up choosing AQM and CL.

We both had our crews made prior to the flips for the Scheme Pool, so take note of that folks! You can make all around lists and succeed...

Here are the lists:

  • Von Schill
    • Engage at Will (a must have for me, it gives models within 6" the ability to use two different (0) actions!)
    • Survivalist (Gives Hard to Kill, great for models who heal like VS, as well as positive flips to healing!)
    • The Shirt Comes Off (gives VS a heal as a (0) once per game and forces nearby opponents to take Horror Duels, works well with Survivalist as he's getting positives and HtK)
  • Hannah
    • I Pay Better (Mercenaries get Focus for a discarded card, everyone in the list benefits short of VS)
  • Sue
  • Big Jake
  • Friekorpsmann x2
  • Friekorps Trapper
  • Steam Trunk
  • Shenlong
    • Misdirection (super annoying, defensive trigger that passes the attack to someone else including enemy models)
    • Wandering River Style
  • Yamaziko
  • Lone Swordsman
    • Recalled Training (Positives to all flips for a turn - brutal)
  • Dawn Serpent
  • Mr Graves
  • Malifaux Child
  • Shadow Effigy

The first moves...

So I had the Trapper deployed close to one Stash marker but able to draw a LOS to a large amount of the field. I decided to hold him off to see where he decides to move everyone and draw a priority target based on the decision, but I should have done what I originally thought and immediately target the Malifaux Child. I didn't remember that peons count for Hunting Party and would have gotten a head start on the scheme, but I didn't have good cards in my hand and didn't feel confident in passing the Manipulative test with a severe card left in in my hand. In hindsight this would have been a much better action. Instead I chose to advance the Steam Trunk into position before anything else committed anywhere. He immediately responded by running his Malifaux Child behind the middle pillar. This meant that since the Child is out of LOS from the Trapper for pretty much the rest of the game.

He moved Yamaziko toward the top left corner, once I saw that I knew he had Convict Labor. She excels at placing markers since she has Nimble, and can easily do Convict Labor on her own. I don't do a lot of spreading out with Von Schill as he has a lot of Auras, so the markers she places will be left pretty much uncontested.

I start moving Hannah, Sue, and the Friekorpsmann toward the left Stash Marker and use Big Jake to go to the right one. I saw that he was keeping his models grouped together and inched toward the left marker so I didn't think I'd need much on the other one. Using Big Jake to defend it can be helpful, as he can push with his attacks and if he dies he comes back on turn 5. The Trapper was there as backup, but can still affect the other side of the board. He responded by moving his Shadow Effigy closer to the right side.

After that he moved Shenlong to prepare for the massacre that was about to happen. He pushed the Dawn Serpent right to the Center Line, so my Trapper decided to start working on that target for next turn. I managed to cheat in Severe damage on it taking him down to 4 wounds. I'd have to make sure to take care of him soon as he is able to heal relatively quickly.

Shenlong decides to join the party

Start of turn two, where blood will definitely be drawn

Turn Two was a doozy.

He started with the Dawn Serpent charging Hannah. She managed to get down to 4 wounds after using 3 stones for damage prevention, along with gaining 4 poison counters. She then activated and healed from the Steam Trunk back up to 7 wounds and got rid of the poison (Steam Trunk, don't leave home without it). In hindsight I should have used The Shirt Comes Off to get back up to full wounds, but I didn't think of it until just now. Hannah got rid of the Dawn Serpent and got a VP from Hunting Party and full points for A Quick Murder.

I can't quite remember who he activates, but maybe it was Yamaziko to place scheme markers down. I may be getting the order incorrect.

The Dawn Serpent gone...

Sue activates and uses Ring of Fire to burn models that end their activation within 3" and shoots the Lone Swordsman. I know he has Bulletproof +3 but I needed to start chipping away at him regardless of how much. The Lone Swordsman then swoops in, discarding his Recalled Training for positive flips, and declares that Hannah will Not See Another Sunrise, which gives him reactivate but he dies if he doesn't kill his target by the end of the turn. He gets her down to 3 wounds.

Things aren't looking good for Hannah...

I attempt to do some damage with the Freikorpsmann that's trapped with the Lone Swordsman but with only one attack and lackluster cards I didn't affect much. He then Reactivates his Lone Swordsman and misses the first attack. He connects with the second but flips the Black Joker for Damage! It was quite a lucky break for me, as since he didn't kill his intended target he now must be sacrificed at the end of the turn. I no longer had to worry about that model, who can really hit like a truck when needed.

After that I was overly confident and moved Von Shill close enough to score the strategy by being right next to the left marker. I didn't realize that Shenlong hadn't yet activated, which I should have probably played him a little differently because of that. He then moves Shenlong right in the middle of my crew and finishes off Hannah, scoring A Quick Murder. If I had used Von Schill to block the charge she could have recovered and healed quite a bit of damage, up to 6, and be right back in the game.

Mistakes were made...

I moved my other Friekorpsmann in response to try to do some damage on Shenlong. He managed to hit, but because he had Misdirection I had to discard two cards to prevent the attack from moving to one of my other models within 2" of him. After damage prevention I managed to not do anything that stuck and realized I was in a pickle, as he now has 3 different models he can use Misdirection on.

The Steam Trunk moved into position to assist the big mess on the left next turn while making sure to stay away from Shenlong. He moves Mr Graves to help score the Strategy by being next to the left marker. I tried shooting with the trapper onto the Shadow Effigy and managed to do enough damage to get him down to Hard to Kill. He then moves the Effigy within scoring distance of the right Stash marker. I responded by moving with Big Jake and attacked but missed. He managed to get in range to score the Strategy.

Help... only with Shenlong do I see one person outnumbered 3 to 1 and think I may just lose

The turn ended with me scoring 5, 3 for AQM 1 for HP and 1 for the Strategy. He ended with 4, 3 for AQM and 1 for the Strategy. I don't think I've ever seen the score that high on turn two, I've finished whole games, and often, with a score lower than this.

That was pretty eventful...

See that Red Joker!

Turn three saw Von Schill do some damage onto Shenlong, getting him down to 8 Wounds and permanently lowered his defense by one. Shenlong answered back by switching his upgrades to Fermented River Monk and force everyone nearby to perform a Wk 16 duel. VS, Sue and a Friekorpsmann all failed and received negative flips for everything for the remainder of the turn! He then did a ton of damage to Von Schill, getting him down to only four wounds left.

I disengaged with a Friekorpsmann to start working on Mr Graves and get out of Shenlong's Misdirection range, and managed to succeed. Mr Graves pounded him to death. I disengaged the other Friekorpsmann for the same thing. Yamaziko started getting closer to help out the crew now that she's done laying down markers.

Von Schill isn't liking his chances...

Von Schill is feeling the burn right now

I had saved a high Mask card just for this, as one of his triggers is making the target push 3" and he ends in base contact with him. I succeeded and pushed the Effigy out of range from scoring, while the Trapper and Big Jake both were in range to still score. I managed to kill him with the second attack, but it was good to have the Mask just in case I missed.

He got a point for Convict Labor and I got a point for Guard the Stash and Hunting Party, as Big Jake is an Enforcer. So far it was 7-5 in my favor.

Both Stash markers secured for now, while a Freikorpsmann goes Child Hunting... umm... not what it sounds like...

Turn 4/5 details get kind of fuzzy, as it was a fast one and I didn't take as many pictures. I got the initiative and the Friekorpsmann killed the Malifaux Child, securing points for Hunting Party as he no longer had minions or peons. I believe we decided to call it as there wasn't a way to catch up. I secured 8VP, and even if he scored Convict Labor and Guard the Stash I'd still be ahead now that Hunting Party would be maxed out no matter what.

It was a fun game, and it's probably the first time I've legitimately beaten him at 50ss. I've only beaten him twice before, once was a story encounter that I don't rightly count, and the other was at the Henchman Hardcore, but it's not a standard game.

I learned a few things about Von Schill that I liked. Engage at Will is priceless. There's so much utility with that upgrade, individual abilities and the Steam Trunk adding more. Having Sue in the crew with that upgrade makes it where he actually gains use out of all his abilities. He doesn't have to worry about Hurt damaging him since he can heal it that same turn. He can use both his Auras if he ever needs to. Hannah can heal every turn or twice with the Shirt if needed. Hannah is a beast, but she's even beastlier with the Schill dog. Not to mention everyone in this crew has Hard to Kill or a version of it with Von Schill leading the crew. I'd say Engage at Will is his best ability, tied with his ability to give Freikorps models a version of Hard to Kill.

There were a few things I found that weren't that great. Big Jake's ability to take two damage to arrange the top two cards is still pretty useless, even with the Steam Trunk's heal, as he ends up using the cards for the heal anyway. This was a pretty hilarious moment in the game when Travis pointed it out and I was trying to avoid using it but completely forgot about it two seconds later like a goldfish. 

Another issue is placement. There's a lot of movement you have to anticipate with his crew, namely with the Steam Trunk and Von Schill himself. Von Schill's auras are relatively short, and he may have a tendency to jump around the board if needed leaving some models out of his beneficial range. The Trunk's aura is even lower, and since he hands out the (0)s during other models' activation he needs to be where he's needed before others get ther (if that makes sense). This leads to you having to commit to your direction, and a savvy player should be able to anticipate this, which can lead to bad positioning in Strats/Schemes that don't have you fighting at the center.

One more issue is Von Schill, in this game he didn't do much at all himself. I get that it was the timing of activations, as he got damaged after his activation then lost initiative and died before he could heal himself up. But the one time he did attack he couldn't afford to spend stones as I used them all up saving Hannah. This led to him attacking based on his card alone and praying something good flips if you don't have a good control hand. I got one good trigger in to lower Shenlong's defense permanently once and that was it. He's still a pretty Stone-Starved model and needs all 7 of his cache just for him.

He's still mid tier in my book, as well as the groups', but knowing how he operates makes him more viable if I'm ever looking for variety.

Look at that amazing mat. I said look at it!!!

After our game I managed to play two small games of Arena Rex with my brand spanking new mat from GenCon! We stuck to using my starter models so that everyone gets used to how their Ludus plays. 

I represented Ludus Magnus while Mike Guy used Legio XIII. The game was a breeze with only a few minor mistakes, due to the fact that we played once before. He started using his Benefits much better in this game, and managed to make me hate Ban-Luca almost instantly. Her Stall ability is amazing and annoying.

This game I remembered to get rid of Gaius first and did so easily, but as this game is designed to do it only fueled his Favor and got the win when it was down to my Infelix against Aquila.

I played another game with Clay, who bought Zephyri and wanted to try them out. They're a more difficult faction to grasp for a new player as their strength lies in movement and reactions, concepts that take a bit more experience to fully capitalize on, but he was getting the hang of it fast (this game tends to make it easy to learn). I ended up winning since I had more games under my belt as well as practice with the starter, but we both had a ton of fun. The Houston area is starting to get more and more Arena Rex players, as I know a few more in the North Side of town that got into it as well.

Anyway, that's long enough for now, hope you enjoyed it and I'll see you next time!