Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Malifaux Tournament Preparation

Its been an interesting month so far, which has kept me from updating the blog overall. I have several models for my Dreamer crew which are painted, but no pictures have been posted. My wife grabbed the camera on her Girls week away, when combined with trying to find it once she returned has put a hard stop to my picture taking activities. I will be updating my pictures soon, with the completed crew up on the blog.

More important to the title and push of this post is my preparation for an upcoming tournament I will be attending. There is a Malifaux henchman a little over an hour away who is running a 35ss fixed list tournament this weekend (Feb 28th) and I will be attending. I am truly looking forward to this, as in my local group I am the person coordinating events, so I do not get to play in the competitive ones.

I decided on a departure from my loved Guild lists featuring Lady Justice and started practicing with the Dreamer and Lord Chompy. I love my custom sculpt model and this is a fantastic opportunity to put him on the table. This is one of my largest considerations for future tournament (Adepticon??) as well. So I put together the following list, and to date have played 8 tournament prep games with it, running a record of W:6/L:1/D:1.

Neverborn Crew - 35 - Scrap

The Dreamer -- 6 Cache
1 Daydream [2ss]

Alp [3ss]
Alp [3ss]
Alp [3ss]
Coppelius [9ss]
Lelu [7ss]
Lilitu [7ss]

There are a couple things I have learned about this list and some basic strategies I use overall. I have to admit that it has taken me most of my 8 games to fully get the rules straight with the crew, as there are a lot of rules and interactions to remember. This is certainly not a straight forward crew to play. Its complicated and takes a lot of thought and planning.

Dreamer & LCB
As a dual master, we get two models to play around with in our master slot. These two operate fairly different from the other dual-master in the game (Viktoria). Our Master can only have one aspect on the table at a time. This is also part of our strength, as the same rule (One Master) that restricts us to one at a time allows for some of the activation shenanigans that make us so dangerous. Basically, there are multiple ways for these two to switch back and forth. However, when they make the switch everything in the game stops and the model who just came out (LCB or Dreamer) gets to activate immediately. To put this in perspective, the order of process could go as follows:
  1. Perdita activates (fast) and gets 3ap.
  2. Perdita uses 1 ap to shoot a Daydream (Dreamers Totem)
  3. Day Dream dies, popping our LCB into combat with Perdita
  4. LCB immediately activates and spends his Melee Expert +1 and 2 AP to go wild on Perdita, killing her
  5. Perdita does not get to use her other 2 AP because she is dead.
There are a number of uses for this ability, with the one detailed above being only the most rudimentary. I use the ability fairly often to swap LCB and Dreamer in and out of dangerous combat situations and reposition on the board.

To be honest, LCB has performed as one of the scariest hitters in my list. When dropped into charge range, or preferably into melee range (3 inch melee range) LCB has rarely failed to kill what he is dropped on. Even when pulling a black joker for damage or hit, he still tends to kill his target then get pulled back from combat and turned back into the dreamer before he takes return damage. I find this can be a boon, both on his ability to intimidate my opponent and on the reliability to remove a model. The trick to this is to pick your target carefully. It takes a careful combination of suits in hand (I love rams for onslaught) and positioning for a choice between weapons. Teeth have a 1 inch range, but put poison on the target, while claws have a 3 inch range and are paired.

The Twins (Lilu & Lilitu)
The twins are fantastic and fill a couple roles in the list. I use Lilu as a back-up melee hitter, keeping him as support for either LCB or Coppelius. He can also drop out of hiding to eat weaker models as needed. This works well with the board control abilities that Lilitu has. Lilitu fills to primary purposes in the list that are of nearly equal importance. One of these is to sit within 3 inches of the dreamer and be a target. The Dreamer cannot be targeted if there is another nightmare that COULD be targeted within 3 inches. When this is combined with Lilitu's irresistible, she provides a great buffer for the Dreamer. Add to this the second role of using Lure for board control and she becomes great. With Lure she can pull opponents models out of position and potentially drag them into range for one of the melee monsters in the list to pop out and eat them.

Squid face himself, Coppelius works really well in this list, and fills a fairly unique role. Coppelius works well in combat with Melee Expert and a solid CB of 6 with his long clawed fingers (his primary weapon). He even has a respectable 5 defense and 10 wounds to go with it. Regardless of this, I find he goes down fairly quickly to any serious focus while in combat. I really look to Coppelius for two primary roles in the list. The first of those roles is an automatic trigger on his attacks that paralyzes target models. This is great as it provides me control of melee, being able to paralyze 2 or 3 models in the combat and freeze them there. Added to this is his secondary role of potentially plucking an eye out and forcing morale duels within 3 inches. This is a great trigger, as the eye can be useful for summoning more alps or healing Coppelius later in the turn. However, the most important is forcing additional morale checks. Based on these two roles, I find that I either drop Coppelius out on a model who has seperated themselves and I need to lock down (i.e. Candy) or I drop him into the primary "Bomb" melee to provide additional support.

Alps are annoying, and that's their primary role in the list. I do not view them as a critical part of the list, but more as the filler to allow the rest of my list to work within the game. Alps have an ability to force WP tests in a 4 inch bubble that can give a model Slow if it fails the test. When this is combined with the Dreamers ability to make nightmares terrifying, Alps will cause a fair number of tests when dropped into melee with multiple models. This rarely causes enough damage to actually kill something (Alps cause damage to anything receiving slow) but it will burn off a fair number of cards from the opponents deck and hand in addition to putting a couple minor points of damage here and there. I find the most important aspect of Alps is the psychological effect they have on my opponent. First, its very difficult to ignore Alps because they are in your lines and the slow and terrifying COULD become problematic. Second, opponents tend to be afraid of Alps summoning more alps. Due to these concerns, opponents tend to focus at least 1 round of actions on removing the Alps from the game. When I can time this drop to turns 4, 5, 6 it gives me breathing room to lock up my own objectives while my opponent focuses elsewhere.

Tricksy Tricksy
So, I have mentioned dropping the models and popping them out a couple times. That's one of the largest advantages of the Dreamer/LCB crew. I start with the models buried (if not during deployment, during turn 1) and have the ability to un-bury/re-bury the nightmares throughout the game. This provides me the ability to pick my own battles both in positioning, timing, and scope. During my practice games I find that I have yet to engage before turn 3. In addition, it often benefits me to move around the board and avoid engagement until turn 4, then pick my battles very carefully before overwhelming my opponent. This ability is quintessential to how the Dreamer plays and is key to any strategy when using him. To date, this has become a challenging quandary for my opponents. They have to choose if they are going to let me wander around unmolested, risking that I pull my victory points early and put them at a disadvantage, or if they are going to force a confrontation which may not be to their advantage. While they are struggling with this, I focus on my strategies and schemes, while watching for opportunities to jump on mistakes they may have made.

For those who are interested, check out Karn987's tactica for the Dreamer hosted on Tabletop Geeks.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Malifaux Brawls

Last night I was out at my normal gaming Tuesday night and had the opportunity to play a Malifaux Brawl. Whats a Malifaux Brawl you ask? Let me enlighten you!

So, a "typical" game of Malifaux consists of 1 master and typically between 25 and 35 soul stones for a crew. This typically results in between 5 and 7 models on the table for the game. Wyrd provides guidance for larger games which they have termed Brawls. The differences are as follows:
So this leaves us with a fairly large game. John and I decided to go with 50 points, and set up his city board as a 4x4 board as recommended in the first Malifaux rule book. I settled on using Guild, he decided to go with Arcanists, and we agreed to flip for deployment type and a shared strategy. Deployment ended up as Diagonal, which is 12 1/2 inches from a center line, and the strategy was Shared Supply Wagon. I then sat down to put together my crew.

Before I list out my crew I will make a note. Both John and I initially bought our crews to ~40 points, leaving ourselves with a maximum sized soulstone pool remaining. Both of us then realized our mistake as we added in the Cache from 2 masters. This certainly changes the game, as even with my guild crew who start with mid to low soulstone cache's, I started with 6ss in my pool just from the cache. This meant that unless I purchased at least 44 stones worth of crew, I was losing out on soulstones. John was already at an 8 soulstone pool just from cache, so he needed to buy up at least 48 stones worth of crew. So here were our lists:

**As an aside here, I just put this chart together and did the calculation for our game last night while I was typing up this post. Clearly, and in very good humor, we can see why I lost so badly. While I am sure John did not realize he was over on his point, I will take a great deal of pleasure calling him a cheater in future games!

As you can see, this is a lot of models on the table. I made the choice to play with some of the more expensive models that I do not typically field together. John went in the opposite direction, throwing in a couple big beasties then bulking out his crew with cheaper models. For schemes, I chose Grudge (Silent One), Assasinate (Rasputina), and Bodyguard (Perdita). John chose Hold Out, Sabotage, and another one I am unsure of. With that, we setup on the board and went to town.

My set-up played into my strategy for the game. I deployed the Austinger and Nino in a building near the middle of the board and the rear of my deployment edge, with Nino on the roof and the Austringer hidden inside. Perdita, Judge, Sam, and one Death Marshal deployed to my left, with the options of moving up the center of the board (there was an open path there) or heading into a building near the center/left of the board. Lady J and 2 Marshals deployed to my right, well up toward the center of the board at the tip of my right hand deployment zone. The Peacekeeper deployed near the center of my deployment zone, just ahead of my wagon. I set-up so that the Wagons 6 inch movement would get it to the center of the board within 3 turns.

Over the turns of the game, Perdita and company moved into the building mid-field and to the left, bunkering down and preparing to rush out into an open area between the houses. It took 3 turns to get everything ready to open the door and rush out, which also game John time to fill the "courtyard" with ice pillars, giving me extra cover but also creating a turn of movement to get through the courtyard. The Marshal boxed Sam, then Perdita opened the door and obeyed him forward behind the ice pillars. The idea was to get the marshal around toward Tina and the Silent one (who had stuck together in Johns deployment zone, hiding behind a building) and then pop out Sam for some witch-hunting goodness. The Judge was backing them up on the way out. I figured this would work well, as even on the chance the Marshal was killed, then Sam would pop out early and get an extra round of shooting in. Unfortunately, while the plan worked, our time at the shop forced a quicker end to the game, ending us at the end of turn 5. Sam and the Marshal did a good job, but only the silent one was killed (with some damage flowing over onto Tina) before John rushed with Marcus and took shots with Hans to clear out the riff-raff.

Through the game, John was also able to get his molemen, Marcus, and the Jackalope into the center of my board, successfully taking down the peacekeeper and the wagon. John had some incredible flips against my wagon, flipping 3 severe damages in a row to take it out in one turn.

Opinions of Brawls

I really enjoyed our game, which is something that typically happens when John and I play. From a timing perspective, John and I are fairly slow players when playing against each other. I believe we are fairly evenly matched from a skill standpoint, which contributes to our hobby games taking up a fair amount of time with each of us analyzing our moves and studying the board. We have not played a competitive game, so I am not sure how much quicker those would be. Even with our slower pace, this game still took ~3.5 hours to complete 5 turns. I believe the size of the board (will address this next) contributed to this along with our slower pace.  I do feel that a Brawl is going to be an afternoon affair, similar to putting together a 40K Apocalypse game.

Board size is something else that is a consideration. The first Malifaux rulebook recommended a 4x4 table for Brawls. Rising Powers changes that to a 3x3 table, which I think is the right size.  Even with the larger number of models on the table, I believe a 3x3 table provides enough room to maneuver, while still creating the opportunities for engagement with the opposing crew early in the game. It took a solid 2 turns for John and I to position our crews from our deployment spaces before we could begin engaging each other. A smaller board would have opened up this opportunity earlier, allowing for a more engaging game. In the future, I will certainly stick to the smaller board.

While I would like to keep a comparison of Brawls with 40K apocalypse, I do not feel that is the best way to look at it. 40K Apocalypse is all about the spectacle, with titans and super-heavies deployed on the board. The Malifaux brawl was fun, but there is not the same level of Spectacle in the game. It is more of an increase in tactical gaming, adding in additional options to a normal game. In our game, John and I both used similar tactics, effectively running 2 separate crews on the same board. These overlapped nicely, but were still operating fairly independently. Another option would have been to run as one large crew with all the hitting power of two masters. In Malifaux, its more about the tactics and balancing how to achieve 4 different game objectives while keeping your opponent from achieving theirs.

At the end of the day, I would be up for another Brawl. I would try and block out a larger amount of time, possibly an afternoon to play.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Something a bit different, a little humor.

Most of you probably do not know this, but I grew up in New England. I spent the first 18 years of my life living with 9 seasons in the wonderful North East of the US. (Early Winter, Winter, More Winter, Spring, Mud, Black Fly, Summer (2 weeks), fall, indian summer (2 weeks)) I no longer live there but try to visit regularly in the very short summer season. Anyway, my mom recently sent me this bit of email humor. Its been out there a while, but was enough to make me chuckle so I figured I would share.

August 15 - Moved to our new home in Massachusetts.  It's so beautiful here. The lake looks so majestic.  I can hardly wait to see it snow covered.  I'm going to love it here!

October 14 - Massachusetts is definitely the most beautiful place on earth. The leaves have turned all the colors and shades of red and orange.  Went for a ride through the park and saw some deer.  They are so graceful. Certainly they are the most wonderful animals on earth. This must be paradise, I LOVE IT HERE!!   
November 10 - Deer season will start soon. I can't imagine anyone wanting to kill such a gorgeous animal.  Hope it will snow soon. I love it here. Those red and orange leaves have covered my yard. Looks like a magnificent multi-colored carpet. HOW BEAUTIFUL.  Raking and cleaning up the yard will be an opportunity for invigorating exercise in the cool crisp air.

November 15 - Ah, more leaves and more exercise.
November 18 - Jesus, still more leaves. Guess it's best to wait until they've all fallen before I rake again.
November 25 - Finally, all of the trees lost their leaves and with today's final raking it's over for this season. Chiropractor suggested I use a lawn maintenance service next year. Only four blisters became infected. Should probably remember to use gloves.

November 30 - What the f...? Where did all of those leaves come from?  Had a little wind last night and the lawn is covered again. Oh well, they'll just have to wait until spring.
December 12 - It snowed last night, FINALLY. Woke up to find everything blanketed in white.  It looks like a postcard. We went outside and cleaned the snow off the steps and shoveled the driveway. Had a snowball fight (I won) and when the snowplow came by and we had to shovel the end of the driveway again. What a beautiful place. I Love Massachusetts!
December 14 - More snow last night, I love it. The snow plow did his trick to the driveway again. I Love it here.
December 19 - More snow again last night. Can't get out of the driveway.  Can't to get to work. I'm exhausted from shoveling. snowplow.

December 22 - More of that white shit fell again last night. As if dealing with the leaves weren't bad enough, now I've got blisters all over my hands from shoveling. I think the snowplow hides around the corner and waits until I'm finished shoveling the driveway. The asshole.
December 25 - Merry Christmas. More frigging snow. If I ever get my hands on that son-of-a-bitch who drives the snowplow, I swear I'll kill the bastard. Don't know why they don't use more salt on the roads to melt the ice.

December 27 - More white shit last night. Have been inside for three days except for shoveling out the driveway after that plow goes through every time. gloves got wet and then froze on my hands. Doctor said it was just a mild case of frost bite, disfiguration is probably only temporary. Can't go anywhere, car is stuck in a mountain of white shit. The weatherman says to expect another 10 inches of the shit tonight. Do you know how many shovels full of snow 10 inches is?
December 28 - The weatherman was wrong. We got 34 inches of that white shit. At this rate it won't melt 'til summer.
The plow got stuck up the road and the bastard came to the door and asked to borrow a shovel. After I told him I'd already broken six of them shoveling all the shit he pushed into the driveway, I broke my last one on his head.

January 4 - Finally got out of the house today. Went to the store to get food and on the way back I hit a damned deer that ran in front of my car.  Did about $3000 damage. beasts should be killed.  Wish the hunters had killed them all last November.
May 3 - Took the car to the garage in town. The thing is rusting out from all the god damn salt they put all over the roads.
May 10 - Moved to Sarasota, Florida. I can't imagine why anyone in their right mind would ever live in that God forsaken state of Massachusetts.