Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sonnia Criid - an Overview

Sonnia Criid
Sonnia is one of the Masters that Guild has in thier repetoir to take. There is a lot of information already out there on playing with Sonnia, on blogs such as Wasted Warrior and also on sites such as the Pull My Finger Malifaux Wiki. That would leave you wondering why I would be writing this blog post, especially if I do not intend to recover what has already been covered?

I recently took Sonnia and her Avatar form as one of my primary crew choices at Adepticon 2012. I wanted to put together some of my thoughts on what I saw in her and why I feel she is one of the more competitive Guild masters currently. I thought that this would be a good way to present the information.

Master Description
Sonnia is one of the few guild masters that requires a bit of finesse to use. I see many players pick her up and stay completely focused on her "Throw big balls of fire" ability. While this is a very good ability, I think it is the least of what makes Sonnia a good master. Many people overlook the fact that Sonnia is the only "summoning" master guild players have access to. She can actually increase the number of models on the table through the game. In addition, Sonnia has an incredible control ability in being able to negate spells within a 3 inch bubble effect. Here are my views on Sonnia Criid in her Master form.

  • Violation of Magic - Sonnia can, via a cast spell, summon an additional model to augment her crew. See Witchling Stalkers below. Violation is not a Ranged Strike spell, so can be cast into combat and is not impacted by cover. While it is only 1 point of reliable damage, the damage does scale for some models in the game based on the targets cast.
  • Advanced Counterspell - with this ability and a tome (or 2 cards) in hand, Sonnia can shut down the casting of a spell prior to it being attempted. In addition, she can do this for anything within 3 inches of her that has been targeted. This ability is great, and a very good reason to hold onto low tomes in your hand. As many models accomplish their cool tricks with spells in Malifaux, this ability is very strong.
  • Absorb Magic trigger plus her Sword - This automatically triggers on a melee strike, and has some great effects. At a minimum, Sonnia will heal 1 wd and draw a card while the target will be forced to discard at least 1 card.
  • Flame Burst - Its the spell most people look at for Sonnia, but I put it at the bottom of her list of strengths. You will tend to use it a lot. On a successful cast she will automatically trigger explosive burst, which lets her place her blasts up to 2 inches away from the target. This is a great way to spread the damage out across an enemy crew. At the end of the day, its a damage spell with 2 or 3 blast markers on the moderate and severe damage.
  • Df 4, Wd 10 - she has a fairly average master defensive stat line.
  • Flame Wall - she has a spell to put some flaming pillars on the board, which is nice but situationally useful.
  • Inferno - this ability is ok, but you will often be using her Confiscated Lore spell to cast her spells
  • Magic Seeker - I see you asking why I put this in the neutral column and not in the Strengths. Honestly, while the ability is amazing, I rarely have seen it get a lot of use. My balance of how often it is used vs how good it is leaves this as a neutral ability.
  • Card and SS dependance -  Sonnia is very dependent on both cards and SS for her to work well. She does not come with the required suit to cast her spell, but has an ability (Confiscated Lore) that lets her discard a SS to get the tome. In addition, she needs cards in hand to counter spell incoming spells. This can leave you with few stones or cards for other actions during the game.
  • Walk 4 - I do consider this a weakness. In Malifaux, movement is important. Sonnia only having an average walk is a weakness she shares with most of the guild.

Using a Totem with Sonnia
I tend to find myself not using totems with Sonnia. She has some available to her, but I think her avatar is a much better choice for 2 spare SS. Her personal totem (Purifying Flame) looks very nice but has not real value in picking it up. Sonnia's spells require tomes, so the Gov. Proxy is only partially useful. The Student of Conflict may be good by handing out Fast, but if I am spending 4 points in a Sonnia crew, I think a Witchling Stalker or Death Marshal better fills my needs.

Using her Avatar
Cherufe, Sonnia Avatar. I find that I rarely put Sonnia on the table anymore without attaching her Avatar. Sonnia's avatar is one of the few avatars I can see manifesting early in a game. Real skill in using it, however, comes up with gauging the best time to manifest. Due to some of the things you lose with the Avatar, you may benefit from manifesting later versus earlier.

What do I gain?
When you manifest you gain the following:
  • +1 Cast and two suits to choose from - that's right, Sonnia becomes better at casting and gets to choose between Rams and Tomes. This makes her spells much easier to cast along with making them tougher to resist.
  • Pyres - Pyres are amazing. Pyrse and her ability to push them around the board provide a combination of area control, LOS control, and reliable damage. These are all very strong.
  • Pulse Damage - aSonnia gains a pulse spell for a (0) action that gives out damage in a fairly wide area. This spell is not a game finisher, but is a nice way to hand out some damage
  • A tough melee attack with a Morale duel - through a combination of her melee attack and a new trigger (Horrific Burns), aSonnia can throw around targets she hits in melee and force Morale Duels. This can be useful in specific situations.
What do I lose?
aSonnia does lose some abilities over her basic master form:
  • Ranged damage spells. Sonnia now has her pulse to hand out damage, but does not have any explosive ranged spells like her Fire Burst.
  • Healing in Melee - Sonnia loses the ability to heal with her sword, along with the ability to make models discard cards. Her new weapon can hit very hard, but does not have the same versatility as hr original sword.

Crew's to Hire

General Guild Crew
Sonnia and Justice fill a specific place in the guild when it comes to hiring crews. To that end, I wanted to take a little bit to talk about it. While Hoffman really wants to take a fair amount of constructs, and Perdita really likes her family, Sonnia and Justice can really work somewhat interchangeably with a fairly standard guild crew build. This can be better stated as both Sonnia and Justice can operate as "super solo's" separate from their crew.

While it is worth mentioning, I find that there is an incredible amount of synergy when I build some specific models around Sonnia in the crew. As such, here are some of my thoughts.

Sam Hopkins
Sam comes with Sonnia's box set and appears at a high level to synergise well with her. Unfortunately this does not often turn out to be the case. He does not really add much to her crew. Even his Mage killing abilities (Arcane Hunter) don't actually help Sonnia out. Sonnia can already handle the high cast opponents models, so I recommend (and often do) leave Sam at home.

Fire Gamin
I thought while I was talking about models I do not take, I would mention Fire Gamin. Do I like Fire Gamin? yes. Do I take them? not in a competitive list. I do not see Fire Gamin making it into my competitive lists because they do not add anything to a crew that I really need. They can help out with burning tokens for when aSonnia manifests, but they are not really necessary. I do take them for fun games, but very rarely in my tournament lists.

Witchling Stalkers
Possibly the best 4 point minion in the game. Witchling Stalkers are amazing in melee combat with a CB 6 sword that automatically triggers critical strike. Add to that thier ability to slow down casting with their sword. What am I talking about?
Weapon, Shattered Runed Blade: Magical. Models
wounded by this weapon must discard a Control Card
when declaring the target of a spell until the end of
their next activation or the Action immediately ends.
This is a really good ability and comes automatically on thier sword, although it is often forgotten. Add to that thier aura of "I hate Magic" and they are an excellent model.

It is important to mention the other ability that Stalkers bring to the table, an ability that makes them invaluable to any guild crew. That is the spell "Dispel Magic". With this spell they can remove effects from both friendly and enemy models. This is a very handy utilitarian spell to have on the board to remove such things as Paralyzed, slow, poison tokens, etc.

Witchling Handler
The Handler is a book 3 model that augments the Witchling Stalkers. I find that she works very well in my Sonnia lists, specifically because I tend to get at least 2 stalkers on the board during the game. The Handler has a nice aura to block triggers and hamper casting spells. She also has a great sword to swing that negatively impacts spell casting. The largest boon I see to adding a Handler is two-fold. First, with her ability Word Written she can push a witchling stalker 4 inches toward the closest enemy. This is very cool since it does not require LOS to the Stalker and has no range (basically covers the whole board). Her second ability comes in having Stalkers close by her. When she and a Stalker both engage the same model, she gets bonus's to her attack. When a stalker is near her it gets bonuses to its Wp and Df. This is a reason to keep at least 1 stalker near her at all times.

Santiago beings some very reliable shooting to a Sonnia crew. In addition, when paired with a Guardian he becomes a great model to leave within 3 inches of Sonnia's 3 inch pulse from Inferno. Sitting in this pulse will bring him most of the way down to triggering his "Is that All you Got" ability, raising his CB on his pistols along with giving him a free walk. Santiago's trigger happy trigger is very good for a mid-range gunfight and a great addition to Sonnia's crew.

When facing undead or spirits, the Exorcist finds its way into my list every time. While most of Sonnia's crew does not need the magical weapons the Exorcist can hand out, his Magical Crossbow and his "Head-shot-like" trigger on his spell are very helpful. He also has a great spell in "Turn Undead" which can push an undead or spirit crew out of position and open then up for charges or ranged attacks from the rest of Sonnia's crew.

Utility in a robot, the guardian fits well with Sonnia's crews. I do not find myself often protecting Sonnia with the Guardian, instead tieing him to either Santiago or the Exorcist. With the Exorcist the guardian allows for the "Driven by Purpose" by soaking up the 1 wd. When tied to Santiago, the guardian does a great job of catching wounds once Santiago drops to his Hard to Wound level. In both cases, if the guardian does not need to heal up, he can also put up a "I hate magic" bubble similar to the Stalkers, which can be a great help.

Desperate Mercenaries
These are in all of my aSonnia lists, and most of my Master Sonnia lists. There are not many mercenaries Sonnia would prefer to take and the Desperate Mercenaries are fantastic for half-priced stalkers. Its a basic recipe, where Sonnia will pop up inferno and the Mercenaries will stand nearby to soak up the flame for 3 damage at the end of the turn. This brings them to 1 wound which not only improves their CB, but also primed them for the 1 dg from Violation of Magic.

Guild Hounds
Guild is a fairly slow faction overall, and thus needs its hounds. Guild Hounds are critical in any game where you strategy requires movement. Strategies that fit this are those like Destroy the Evidence, Line in the Sand, and Treasure Hunt. Guild Hounds are a basic requirement for crews performing these strategies. I recommend taking 3 of them, as it is very easy to kill off 1 hound (turning them insignificant if there are only 2). Hounds can also be useful to bury scrap and corpse counters when facing crews that use these.

I hope that helps out those of you interested in playing Sonnia. I will add the following for those just starting her out. A question was asked on the Wyrd Board: "I have Sonnia Criid, now how do I play her?" This was my reply:
A couple suggestions I have for starting with Sonnia and her box set.
  • Put Sam Hopkins on the table and play 2-3 games with him. He may work out for you and you will probably get the high damage off a couple times. Do not get frustrated when/if he starts getting killed quickly, thats just time to take him off and move to something more resilient. Get him out of your system quickly then come back to him later if he worked well for you.
  • Blow things up. Start throwing around big big explosions of fire. This is another good thing to get out of your system in early games. Sonnia's flame blast spell is fantastic and a great spell, but is only one facet of her capabilities. Blowing up lots of stuff early on will help you focus on the other things that make her strong.
  • After your 2-3 game when blowing stuff up starts to lose a little shine, throw Sonnia straight into a melee! Go ahead, just throw her up the board and get into a fight. This is a great way to learn about her sword and how resiliant she can be.
  • After you do all of the above, you should be somewhere between 6 and 10 games. At that point, start getting down to really learning the rest of how intricate Sonnia can be.Start checking out her other abilities and working on some strategies and schemes that are not typical.
Overall, Sonnia is a fairly complex master and a whole lot of fun. I think she is probably more complex than most masters, so takes a bit to get used to. On top of that, her Flashy stuff is really a draaw, so its tough to look past it until you have used it a lot.

Oh, and take her with at least 7 soul stones in your pool. Any less and you will be crying at the start!

If this was helpful, I will work on getting similar write-ups for other Malifaux masters posted. Hell, even if this was not helpful I still might knock out a couple more.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Adepticon Bound 2012

The time is quickly catching up to the point when I will be loading up the rental and jumping onto the long drive to Chicago for this years Adepticon. Wednesday morning eChris and I will be packed up and on the road to a full weekend of gaming! I have to admit, there is still an awful lot to do.

I had originally offered to bring 10 tables with me to Adepticon to support the Malifaux tournament. Due to some last minute issues, I am down to only 8 making it out. I am hoping to squeeze in a 9th table, but it is not looking like it will happen. On the bright side, the M&SU bar will be making an appearance, with some bar tables painted up as well. Playing on an indoor board will be a different scenario for most players (I believe) and should be very fun!

For those who have been keeping a close eye on the painting total to the left, you will notice I have been adding a couple points here and there through April. I painted up my Miss Demeanor and repainted a Student of Conflict for my crews. I also finally based my Jack Daw and both Hanged onto actual bases, which only took a year since last Adepticon to get done. I did not get a chance to snap any pictures (good or bad) so will need to post some shots after the con.

Podcasting has also taken a hit in the past couple weeks. Between work, family, and preparing for the trip I have missed releasing the last episode. Listeners of Gamers Lounge will be treated to a fair amount of content post Adepticon if everything goes as planned.

So, that brings us to whats planned for Adepticon this year? This is my third year attending the con and the first year I am only taking part in 1 type of gaming event, and then the after con-mixer as usual. That right, this year consists entirely of Malifaux for my "Official" events. I will be acting as judge for the Cake tournament on Thursday evening, and then returning as the primary judge for Friday evening's Malifaux Masters Qualifier #1.

Friday morning, eChris and I will be showing up (in matching t-shirts) for the Malifaux Team tournament with out Neverborn crews. eChris is in the team tournament as his competitive tournament this year, while I am aiming to support him and have some fun. Our first round will be a challenge match vs Cheated Fates Radio. I am certainly looking forward to it. I even tossed out a teaser that if the CFR guys can beat us, I will toss in a Hooded Rider puppet as an extra prize to them! I expect he will be coming home with me.

That brings us to Saturday Morning where I will be jumping into playing in the Masters Qualifier #2 while Nilus takes over as head judge. I am bringing Guild with me this year, a switch up from the All Neverborn I brought to tournaments last year.  I will admit that I am a little nervous about how my games will go this year. I have only gotten in one tournament so far, and while I went 2/1 with my only loss being to Hamelin, I am still not overly confident that the guild will perform well. I do not believe that Hoffman has what it takes to deliver a win in a tournament, and I do not really click with Perdita. That leaves me Sonnia Criid, Justice, both their avatars, and Lucius to play around with. I am comfortable with each of these, but just not as confident as I am with Dreamer,  Pandora, and Colette. The playstyle is not a good fit with how I tend to play Malifaux. Add to that my recent string of losses and bad luck and I am looking at a tournament where I do not feel very confident. Then again, I have had some very good performances with my guild models, and it will certainly help cement Guild as a playable and tournament worthy faction if I can do well.

If I do well on Saturday I will find myself up on Sunday and in the 8 person Adepticon Master of Malifaux competition. I aim to be in the top 8, and even if I am not I will be judging the tournament. Following that, its the now traditional end of Adepticon Mixer and Poker tournament. I have enjoyed this two years in a row and expect this year to be no different. Its a great way to end the overall trip before crashing Sunday night and driving home on Monday.

So, when do I plan to hang out, get in some Gamers Lounge recording, and get in some pick-up games? Pretty much all weekend! I will be bringing along a very small selection (35 points) of Hordes for some small games. I also have my entire Malifaux selection with me. I expect it will be hard to pry myself out of more Malifaux games, as it is my primary game currently, but there is a small chance. I will also be bringing along my puppet wars set, as its a very fun game to play while drinking. Aside from that, I am planning to run down to Lou Mitchel's on Thursday morning for some breakfast. I have mentioned in the past, and will point it out again. This is my favorite breakfast place in Chicago, and one of the places I like to stop while in town. If any readers are in the area and interested in meeting up, Thursday @ 10am on West Jackson Blvd is the place to be!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter Painting

So I grabbed a little time over the Easter holiday to do some quick painting on a couple models camping out on my paint tray. I also did a bunch of priming to refill said paint tray for the next round of models. Needless to say, it was nice to slow down a bit from my recently hectic schedule and get a couple models completed.

In addition to that, Easter is here and Wyrd has released a couple new easter models. These are Gremlins, which is a crew I do not yet have painted, but still a lot of fun. My wife say the little guy to the left and fell in love with the model, so I picked up a second one and made sure to add it to the rotation yesterday. Now my wife is the proud owner of a little Gremlin Egg Hauler. Here is the picture.

I will probably go with the same for when I get my own painted up with the rest of the Gremlin crew, sans the basing. He was a fun guy to paint up and with a quick red wash then highlights of pink he came out pretty good.

I also knocked out Angelica for my show girl crew. She was a bit tougher to work through, and I had clipped her cane a bit too short when I was cleaning up her model. I am not unhappy with how she turned out, as the shorter cane worked with the base, making her look like she is at the edge of the stage. I am not overly happy with the stool, but she is pretty much done so I am unlikely to go back and change anything.

Lastly I knocked out the fat boy who has been sitting on my tray for a fair while now. The Executioner model is not one of my favorite models in the Malifaux range. To be honest, I really do not like it overall. Looking at him, I should like him with the big claws and the humor built into the model (his human hands are hanging from his belt). The model is great, it just does not work well for me. I will say that once I got him painted up I was happier with the model, but still not at the top of my list. Regardless, he is now painted and jumping into my bag.

All of these will make another appearance with better lighting and photography when I do my next batch of light-tent pictures for the reference links.