Monday, December 31, 2012

My Experience with Misaki

Recently I received a question about how I use Misaki in game and my general experiences with making her work. I started writing a reply to the question and realized there was probably more in my reply to write up than I originally thought. Further, there might be other folk who were interested in what I have experienced and who would enjoy reading some of my thoughts. To that end, I transformed the original answer into this blog post.

Now, let me get it out of the way early that I am certainly not the ultimate expert in using Misaki. I think anyone who takes a quick look at my record can see that at best I am running around a 50% win rate with her. I am still in the phase of trying out a lot of different things and figuring out what works best. I have not taken the 10T to a competitive event yet and have not really settled on what works best in every scenario. I am currently sitting at 14 games played with Misaki leading my crew, and a W/L/D record of 6/6/2. The majority of my strategies have been Escape and Survive (3), Line in the Sand (3), and Turf War (3). On the Scheme side Kill Protege has dominated my scheme selection (6), with Assassinate (3), Exterminate (3), Hold Out (4), and Save Face (3) coming in as strong second choices.

So all of that has been background so far, but what was the question and what are my experiences? The question had a couple aspects, focusing on how a pure Ten Thunders crew worked competitively with some focus on Misaki led crews specifically. Following that was some additional question around my experience with Shang, as I have mentioned that I do not include him in the bulk of my recent crews. Aside from that, I was asked for any general advice I had on Ten Thunders with Misaki as the specific crew leader.

So, lets start and look at what is available for a Misaki led Ten Thunders crew. I am currently playing with only what has been released for Ten Thunders, without including what was released during the Wyrd birthday Sale. That means the Mei Feng box set, Misaki Box Set, Jakob Box Set, Yamaziko, Archers, Ten Thunders Brothers, Desperate Mercenaries, and Ronin. Specifically missing are Hans, Taelor, Oiran, and anything from the McCabe and Yan Lo sets. I do not have Taelor or Hans so those are off the table, and I am still painting up my Oiran so have not included them yet. I also have not found a time when the Desperate Mercenaries would make sense to include in my list. This leaves me with Misaki, Shang, Ototo, Yamaziko, Kang, Graves, Torekage, Archers, Ronin, 10T-Bro as my typical go-to list of models to pick out for a game with Misaki leading my crew.

Overall, I really like Misaki for "Kill" strategies, so thats when I pull her from the case in place of Jakob or Mei Feng. I feel like she excels in these types of strategies, where I prefer Jakob for non-kill strategies. As a quick list, the "Kill Strategies" in Malifaux are:
  • Contain Power
  • Distract
  • Escape and Survive
  • Reconnoiter
  • Slaughter
  • Turf War
I also think Misaki works well with Supply Wagon and could work well with Claim Jump. Further to how I plan my crew is the understanding that my local players tend to play 30ss games, which influences my hiring for a "typical" crew. Starting with these two factors in mind (size of game and strategies), I now start to look at what my "typical" crew will look like.

There are two models that I find critical in every "Typical" Misaki crew I assemble. These two are a Torekage and Yamaziko. I also prefer to start my crew hiring assuming an 8ss pool for Misaki, and then scale back if I find I need another stone or two to hire specific models. To this end, I have already begun the crew hiring for any game having spent 16ss on two models plus Misaki's pool.  I grab Yamaziko for a couple reasons with Misaki. First and foremost, converting Misaki's Reckless into Fast is very helpful overall. In the absence of other abilities I would probably not find this to be worth 6ss, but Yamaziko also brings two other things to the table that I think are well worth her price. First is a fairly reliable healing spell as a (0) action. Healing is very useful in any crew and Yamaziko can reliably get the spell off. Second is a very reliable 3 inch reach weapon. Her Yari is a great weapon that can also spin out a blast off her severe damage. These two abilities make Yamaziko a great add, and a must-take for my Misaki led crews.

For the Torekage, I find that they are just fantastic for a Misaki crew. While I have not included them in every Ten Thunders crew I take, I find that they make it into more lists than not. Torekage are somewhat the poster model for the Ten Thunders. They bring some movement trickery and some LOS blocking trickery along with them and just function very well for their price. Their Arachnid ability and their ability to bury themselves and pop back up at the end of the turn are great for providing mobility to the crew, along with end of turn/end of game positioning. I especially like them with Misaki based on the somewhat limited crew selection she has. They work especially well in combination with a 10T brother and also with the Archer, as I will discuss later.

So, what does that leave to hire for my other ~14 points? Misaki is a fantastic killer and with her plentiful AP she has a tremendous threat range. Being such a threat, I find that it can be very dangerous to leave Misaki as the primary threat in a crew. As the primary threat Misaki will be focused on my the entirety of the opposing crew. To that end, and considering the Strategies I prefer her with, I like to grab another major threat model for the crew. Looking at my selections, this leaves me with Ototo, Kang, and Graves as my big choices. I love the idea of Graves and I really like his model, but he just does not square up when compared to Ototo and Kang. Overall, Graves is missing the Melee Expert AP, and works (for me) as more of a control piece. That drops my choices down to Kang and Ototo. Both
have their places and I switch between them fairly liberally. I find that Kang is more survivable overall, but easier to take down when focused on. Ototo fairs better against other big hitters with his higher WD total, and is a tremendous threat when left low on wounds. The other consideration that I come to is how much positioning in game will matter. In those games where I want some additional board control, I grab Kang for his Knock-back trigger. Games where I want heavier hitters and am not as worried about my models living to the end I grab Ototo. Both Ototo and Kang come in at a price of 8ss, bringing my total to 24ss total on my hiring.

As you can see, my Misaki crews add up quickly with the models I tend to choose for my crews. As I look over the remaining 6ss to reach my 30ss limit I have to consider carefully what I am looking at doing. Everything in the crew so far is set for in-close melee combat. There are two additional choices I can go with to augment what I have so far. First is the Ten Thunders Archer, which I mentioned earlier has a nice combo with the Torekage. The Archer is a fantastic ranged model, potentially rivaling some of the better guild ranged models in my opinion. They have a variety of abilities through their Yajiri spell and can hit fairly hard with the ability to focus a shot for a single ap. Add to that the ability to ignore one intervening model when drawing line of sight for a shot and they are really good. Most opponents realize how threatening the Archer can be and they stay aware of the 12 inch range when moving thier own models. This is where the Torekage comes in. Being able to move the Torekage 5 inches with a walk, then swapping with the Archer using Mistaken Identity can quickly move your archer into ideal position to take a shot or two at key targets. It's then very easy to get the archer out of combat by reversing that maneuver on the next round, shooting with the archer first then having the Torekage activate and switch with the Archer to move him away from a melee threat. I really like the Archer in my crews for both the ranged threat and the fact that they fit nicely into the remaining SS hiring I have remaining, rounding out a 30ss crew nicely.

Ten Thunders Brothers are another choice I can make. These guys are great to start with, having the Run Through ability that allows them to move their charge distance and attack anywhere along that movement and having the Companion Ten Thunders ability. I will often hire these guys just for the Companion ability, as being able to string together an Alpha Strike during my turn can turn a game nicely to my favor.When combined with a Torekage, the 10T Brother brings a truly nasty combo to the table with the Torekage, 10T-Bro, and another model (Kang or Ototo or Misaki) being able to companion then the Torekage moving and switching with the primary attacking model, allowing the Attacking model to unleash a flurry of attacks before the opponent gets to respond. At a 5ss hiring cost these boys leave me 1ss shy of my 30ss limit for typical games.

At the same 5ss cost I could also look at Ronin in place of the Archer or Brother. Ronin excel at movement and at fighting against armored opponents. There is some discussion on the Wyrd forums that when facing armor the best choice for 10 Thunders crews is to grab the Rail Worker. I can see this argument making sense in situations where you do not have Misaki leading your crew. With Misaki leading the crew, Ronin count as 10T models and do not cost the mercenary extra cost. At the same cost (5ss) as a Rail Worker, I feel they outclass the rail worker at all comparative levels. I find that more often than not, when I am grabbing Ronin with Misaki I tend bring on two Ronin in place of my alternate hitter. That ends up being an overall cost of 10ss vs 8ss (for Kang or Ototo), and then I add in the 10T brother to balance out the 30ss. This leaves me with a crew as such:
Misaki +7 Stones, Yamaziko, Torekage, 10T Brother, 2x Ronin
That crew has a good model count for a 30ss Malifaux game, and a fair amount of maneuverability. It only has a single heavy hitting model in Misaki, but the back-up support models can dish out a fair amount of damage on their own.

So where does that leave poor Shang? Lets first look at what Shang brings to the crew and how he helps out. Shang has a couple very useful abilities for Misaki, which come at the 3ss cost. First, he gives her Rush of Magic, allowing Misaki to draw an extra card at the start of each turn and then discard a card from her hand. This is a great way to start out with grooming a hand, and certainly has some great uses as any Lilith player will tell you. Second, as long as Shang is within 12 inches of Misaki he can take a wound to allow Misaki to reflip one of her starting cards during a duel. That can be a really nice ability when you flip a low card and want to hold off cheating. Shang also has a great ranged weapon and can move fairly easily (having flight) so can provide some of his own threat to the board. Considering those great abilities, why don't I consider him a key part of my Misaki lists? To be honest, I have not found it to be worth the 3ss cost. Now, this does not mean that I do not think Shang isn't worth 3ss, in fact I think he is a really really cost effective Totem. To clarify my stance, with my play style and crew preference I do not find that Shang brings enough to the crew to spend the stones on. Rush of Magic is really good but its more of a nice to have than anything else. Lucky Charm (the reflip a card ability) is also a really good ability, but does not balance out against a 5ss or 6ss pool for my play style. With my crew choices I would nearly always prefer to keep the extra 2-3ss as they tend to be more useful for Misaki and Yamaziko than Shang is.

That answers what I tend to use in my crews, what I use the crew for, and why I don't use Shang much. The only remaining part of the question comes to additional advice I have about using Misaki or about Ten Thunders in general. I am going to hold off for now on Ten Thunders advice other than to make one recommendation. Overall, I am loving Ten Thunders and recommend that anyone enjoying even 2 of the Masters in the Ten Thunders pick them all up. Even though I think Mei Feng is possibly the weakest of the 10T Masters, I think she is a tremendous amount of fun.

On advice for playing Misaki, I have a couple thoughts I will share. First, I find that its best to not overestimate her assassination ability. Misaki can straight kill most models in the game, but I tend to be cautious when facing Masters and typically hard-to-take-down Melee centric models. Misaki does not take a hit well and does not always stand toe-to-toe against dedicated Melee models, especially dedicated melee masters. I find it takes a bit of planning to go toe-to-toe with these models. Second, I would recommend staying away from the hit-and-run tactics. Misaki has a great strength in her large amount of AP. Using 2-3 of those AP to move in and out of combat tends to be a waste of AP in my experience. Move in and kill your target with Misaki, thats what she is really good at.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Ten Thunders Experience and Review

I am looking at the top of this post and thinking that the title is not really fitting to the post. Maybe its not that its not fitting, but more that it does not really convey what I am thinking about writing. Regardless, its probably the title that will stick, as I am pretty lazy and am very unlikely to change it. Anyway, onto the article!

I have been playing Ten Thunders as my faction since they were released at Gencon this year. As soon as I got home I started assembling and painting up my models and getting them on the table. Three months in and I have grabbed a solid number of games with each of the masters. My record so far looks a bit like this:

So, a total of 26 games with Ten Thunders with an overall record of 12/11/3. Not horrible in my mind, considering I have been playing around with different crew builds and not optimizing for my opponents or for my strategies. Ten Thunders has three masters currently released, Jakob Lynch (Neverborn/Ten Thunders), Mei Feng (Arcanist/Ten Thunders), and Misaki (pure Ten Thunders). I have been playing them all as strictly Ten Thunders, which means only limited grabbing from their native factions for Mei and Jakob. Also, I am aware that I am a proponent of 6 games to understand a new master or crew and that even with this in mind, Mei has only reached the 5 game mark for me. Despite this, I feel like I have a solid handle on Mei, as all 5 games have played out in a fairly similar fashion despite the differences in her crew. With that said, I am excited about Ten Thunders and still really looking forward to the release of the remaining two masters at the begining of 2013.

Before I dive into my rating and thoughts on each of the masters and their crews, I want to first provide some context. I am looking at these Masters completely in the context of playing as Ten Thunders. I will mention in Mei and Jakob's sections a little of what I think about them in their other faction, but the rating is purely as Ten Thunders. This is how I have been playing them and how I am looking at them.

Number 3 - Mei Feng

Mei Feng is at the bottom of my list in rating the current Ten Thunders masters. I am expecting her to drop a bit further when the remaining two masters come out, although I am unsure where she will end up. Overall, Mei Feng is a fun master to play but does not hold up well as a Ten Thunders leader. Playing with only the models currently released, she is missing traps which will probably increase her overall capabilities in game, but she just does not have enough oomph to rate higher. Mei Feng is a combat master, with the ability to jump across the board and engage multiple enemy models with her melee attacks. She has some incredible defenses, and is very survivable. On comparision, however, she does not do as well in the combat game as either Huggy or Misaki. I cannot see clear situations where I would choose Mei over Misaki in a game. Add to this her limited crew selection. Its not so much limited in actual models, as she has similar advantages and access as the other Ten Thunders masters. Mei does not benefit as much from the key Ten Thunders models as other masters do.

As a basic crew, I find that I am grabbing Mei, Emberling, and the Metal Gamin. Mei benefits from a near-max size Soulstone pool, so this sets me at 10ss - 11ss spent at the start of the game. A decision then has to be made on the next direction to go. When Traps are released, that core will add in 2-3 traps to increaase her initial spend to between 14ss and 17ss. Looking at what she has access to, the decision comes in to add the Rail Golem for 9ss or go another direction. Personally, I have been adding the Rail Golem and then filling in with other models such as the Torekage.

A little bit on Rail Workers. I have grabbed Rail Workers in Mei's crew a couple times in my limited games. Despite the push on the Wyrd boards, I just do not find they deliver in a way I need them too. They are not bad models, but I just am not getting the use out of them that I need for a 5 point fill in my list. They are more viable in a Ten Thunders list than an Arcanist list because they can fill in as Rail Walking points. At the end of the day, Rail Walking is nice, but not critical. Due to this, often times I find myself grabbing a Torekage for 1 more ss, or grabbing a Ten Thunders Brother for the same cost and getting higher use from them.

So, how are the games going and why do I rate her at the bottom of my current list? Mei Feng is a ton of fun to play with all her combo's. I find that I am having trouble holding back until turn 3 to attack, typically holding back on turn 1 and then letting loose with a moderately crafted hand on turn 2. After that Mei tends to float around as a threat and attempt to survive, which she does well with high DF, WP, and armor. As a Ten Thunders, Mei is not great at one of the two Ten Thunders schemes, as she will not often have 2 dual faction models alive at the end of the game. Her own scheme is incredibly flavorful, but I cannot see it being effectivley doable as Ten Thunders. Her scheme becomes incredibly easy, by contract, when she switches over to Arcanists.

Overall I believe Mei is a better add as an Arcanist leader than she is as a Ten Thunders. As an Arcanist she gains access to a number of additional models that incredibly increase her viability in the game. Large Steampunk Arachnids replace Rail Workers while the Coryphee/Coryphee duet makes grabbing her Schemes infinitely easier. Even grabbing regular Steampunk Arachnids is a good add for her, as they are individually good Rail Walker points, then they can join together to create a beater model for melee.

Number 2 - Misaki

Misaki comes in at my number 2 and I do not expect her to fall very far from that point with the addition of other masters. While games with Misaki are not as enjoyable as I expected them to be, they are still a lot of fun and are balanced by Misaki being so damn reliable. The Gamers Lounge reviews of the book labeled her as the 4ap Whore, and she lives up to that title admirably. Misaki does have 4ap and this is a pain to deal with by opponents and provides me as a player a lot of options. At the end of the day, this is not what I find to be her most frustrating ability. Misaki's ability to Diving Charge and then dole out a flurry of Decapitates with her high CB is her most dangerous trick. She is not going to be pushing out a ton of damage like other combat masters, but chances are that with a little planning she is going to catch you short on cards and remove your model.

Misaki excels at assassination, being able to fairly effectively kill any model in play. This shows more with minions as they cannot use soulstones, but can be just as effective vs Masters. Her 4 AP means she has some real range to engage what she wants, and there is a larger concern about leaving her unsupported than in being able to get to where she needs to be.

Misaki also has a very good basic crew selection. She has Ronin, Ten Thunders Brothers, and will have Wastrels for low-cost filler models. Both of these, at 4 and 5 points each, are incredibly effective as they are all significant. She will be able to add in one or two 4 point Oiran as well for some board control if its needed. At the middle of the road she has Torekage and Archers at 6 points, then follows up with a number of 8 point beaters to provide an alternate threat in the crew with Kang and Ototo. Overall, Misaki can operate similar to Pandora, where she is a solo-threat and then there is a complimentary crew that operates as a threat on its own and still compliments and supports Misaki.

Currently my core Misaki crew consists of one Torekage and Yamaziko. Past those two models, everything else gets swapped around a bit based on Strategy, Opponent, and the size and type of game I am playing. Even Shang is hit or miss on his necessity to the crew. He brings some nice bits but is not really a key piece for Misaki. I  am sitting at a core crew of 14ss, as I only believe Misaki requires 6ss to operate. Where possibly I will always take her with 8, but I don't think that's necessary.

The question really comes down to, why is Misaki a number 2 to my rating on Jakob Lynch? If she can do so well in the game and achieve strategies well, what does Jakob bring that Misaki doesn't?

Number 1 - Jakob Lynch

Jakob is just plain fun, and he can get the job done very well. Overall, Jakob Lynch has proven to me that I am a Neverborn player at heart, not because they are "over powered" but because I like their flavor and play style. I have only heard a very little bit of grumbling about Jakob so far, and I would honestly rate him lower than several of the Neverborn masters on a tournament/power level. Jakob would not be the first out of my case if I were playing Neverborn in a tournament, however he is the first I reach for on many strategies when playing Ten Thunders.

What makes Jakob so good? First, I find that Huggy can deliver on most of what Misaki brings to the table in my games. Huggy is a hitter and works really well for me. In addition, due to his rules he is a renewable resource which lets me play much more aggressively with him than I do with Misaki. That's saying something considering I am fairly aggressive with Misaki. Jakob is fairly versitile, being able to contribute as a low level minion with his pistol, or being able to build your hand with his card-draw spell Dead Mans Hand. Buiding up a decent hand can help out any crew by providing a decent number of high cards to support anything you want to do with your minions.

Add to that the schemes. While the "get a straight" scheme is incredibly tough for me to accomplish, I find that against specific crews, Huggy's "spread brilliance" scheme is actually fairly reliable. This adds nicely to the simplification of other schemes such as Grudge. Huggy works as a master for the purposes of Talents and spells in game, but still counts as a minion when it comes to strategies and schemes. Furthermore, he does not award any points for specific strategies and schemes such as Slaughter, giving him a further advantage. This provides a nice boost overall.

Add to that, Jakob's crew brings a fair amount of board control along with its melee punch. Huggy has an obey, the beckoners have a lure, and Jakob can increase his own crews movement. These things alone add a dynamic to the game that really fits in my head. Jakob and the Beckoners both have abilities that increase thier movement by tactically using combat to push away from. All of this is augmented by adding Kang to the list. Kang can provide additional movement by hitting things with his shovel, along with being survivable and an alternate hitter to Huggy.

All told, my core list with Jakob is pretty well established. In general for the strategies I take him for, I end up with a list of Jakob, Huggy, Yamaziko, Kang or Ototo, 2 Beckkoners, 8 stones. One of the Beckoners could be swapped and for games of a higher SS level (this is built for 30ss games), I have 5 points to add other models.

Overall, the mix of melee engagement combined with board control and "tricks" really places Jakob at the top of my list.


Friday, November 23, 2012

Batrep - Misaki v Zoraida

It's been a while since my last battle report and pictures, and it appears from the hit-count that battle reports are popular. Our local group is currently doing a 6 week achievement league and I took Ten Thunders for my faction. Tim and I grabbed a quick 25 point game last night so I could get my achievement for the smaller point value game. I was planning to grab a game with Dan later in the night, using Mei Feng, so I left myself open at 25ss. Over that, I really do not feel Mei works well at 25ss as Ten Thunders, feeling she does better at that level as an Arcanist. Of the 3 masters I currently own (Misaki/Jakob/Mei), I think Mei is the only one who needs to run at a higher level. We flipped strategy and I figured the best choice would be to go with Misaki. We then got down to hiring crews and starting the game.

We had already pulled out the ruins board at the store for a small game vs Skillless-Brian's son, so Tim and I tossed some more scatter terrain on the board to get it to a full-game playable level. When I picked out my schemes I wanted to grab some I had not taken a lot. When I realized I was facing Zoraida I was a bit worried, as the schemes on the low end of my selections were not favorable to facing Zoraida. That said, I wanted to give then a whirl so picked out Assassinate and Eye for an Eye.

Our crews were:

25SS Scrap
Bill - Misaki, Yamaziko, Ototo, Ronin, Archer, 4 Stones
       - Turf War, Assassinate, Eye for an Eye

Tim - Zoraida, Bad Juju, 2x Stitched, Wicked Doll, 7 Stones
       - Deliver the Message, Frame for Murder (Juju), Grudge (Ronin) 

Turn 1
I ended up having to set-up first, but also grabbed initiative. I had tried to set-up in a way that would make it tough for Tim to get Zoraida into LOS with my models I hid my archer behind Ototo, hid the Ronin behind Yamaziko, and sat Misaki out front. I ended up grabbing initiative and was able to bring Yamaziko over in front of Ototo and block overall LOS to him making sure there would be no Voodoo Doll action on him. In response Tim moved a Stitched together out in front of his crew and put up the Creepy Fog. From there turn 1 ended up being a lot of movement. Misaki was able to use up her three moves and make an attack on a Stitched together, dropping him to 1wd remaining, but not triggering his Does not Die. Misaki then used Shadow on Zoraida.  Unforunately I did not get pictures of the end of turn 1, but I did get pictures at the start of how our hands looked. Tim drew his hand and promptly showed me as it was pretty darn bad.

A hand like that certainly did not bode well for how the game was going to go, especially when I had this draw on turn 1.

Turn 2
Turn 2 really turned up the action. I grabbed initiative and Misaki started out. Misaki finished off the stitched together from turn 1, then walked and took a reckless action to diving charge the wicked doll and killed it. Tim opened with having Zoraida create a voodoo doll of Ototo then charged the Archer, removing him solidly from the game. Yamaziko activated and moved up the board, the Voodoo doll obeyed the stitch to charge Misaki (missing the attack), Ototo moved toward Zoraida, and the Stitched delivered the message to Misaki. The Ronin did not need to go anywhere yet, so stayed where she was. Bad Juju came out at the end of the turn, charged the Ronin but I threw the joker to stay alive.

And View number 2, with a look at where Misaki ended up

Turn 3
I knew I was going to lose my Ronin this turn, and had to make the choice between attacking and doing damage to Juju and starting out going after Zoraida. I chose to move after Zoraida first, activating Ototo and charging Zoraida. His Height 3 balanced out the height of the ruins, so he charged to the edge of the 2 inches and tried to attack, but missed due to Proper Manners. He then braced, making sure Zoraida could not move him away with Obey. Tim started as expected and activated Juju to attack the Ronin. It took both Juju's actions to kill the Ronin, leaving him stuck at the far side of the board for the turn. Misaki activated and charged Zoraida, moving the the ruins, B2B with Zoraida but on the ground at the bottom of the ruins. Her 2 inch reach allowed her to overcome the ht4 of the small wall, and she attacked. Now, its important for those keeping track that I was holding a 11 and 13 of Ram's in my hand to attack Zoraida with. The charge attack missed and I proceeded to attack 2 more times (Melee expert and reckless) with Negative flips from Proper Manners and missed both attack. This was a big mistake, as I should have used Your Mine to become paired, and then have been able to cheat to hit Zoraida. Instead I ended up burning off 3 stones in this round of attacks for no success. The Stitched walked around to put some hurt on Ototo, hitting a Red Joker on Gamble your Life and dropping Ototo to Hard to Kill. Poison from the Voodoo Doll will kill him off the next time he activated unless I could figure out a way to heal him. Yamaziko moved across the board and dropped a heal on Ototo, bringing him back up to 3 wounds remaining. Zoraida obeyed the stitched to gamble his life, but ended up having that reversed and it took 3 damage.

An Alternate view

Turn 4
I got initiative on turn 4 and Yamaziko moved around just a little bit to block LOS between the stitched and Ototo, following up by swinging on the Stitched to trigger Does not Die, then healing Ototo again. The stitched activated, walked around Yamaziko to get LOS on Ototo, and Gambled his life to bring him back to his hard to kill. Misaki activated and focused an attack on Zoraida but the cheats and stones went to Zoraida and the attack missed. I followed up with 2 more attack, still not remembering that I should use Your Mine, but missed them all. Zoraida cast repulsive (needing to cast it twice due to a black joker), pushing Misaki back to the board edge and pushing her own Voodoo doll to its death off the side of the ruin. She then used Raven to fly over to the other ruin, allowing Misaki to walk toward her due to shadow. Bad Juju finished up by moving up the board.

Turn 5 and 6
Initiative once again to me, which was a theme for the game. Misaki diving charged into range of Zoraida, attacking and finally remembering to put up Your Mine. This time I was able to cheat but Tim's soulstone advantage took its toll, with me missing 3 more attacks. Juju moved toward Yamaziko but missed his attack. Yamaziko healed Misaki and ran for the Tim's deployment zone. Zoraida cast repulsive three times to push Misaki off the ruins away from her.

I did not grab a turn 6 picture, Misaki started out by jumping back to the top of the ruin and attacking Zoraida again. I burned off the last of Zoraida's stones, used Your Mine, then hit and killed her with my second attack. Misaki grabbed Reckless and moved off the ruin, away from Juju. This was another mistake as I had just enough movement to make it across the mid-line of the board for Turf War, but chose to get away from Juju instead, losing my turf-war. Tim passed his AP with Juju and the game was over.

At the end of the game it ended up a win to Zoraida, 6/4.

Misaki: Turf War - 0, Assassinate - 2, Eye for an Eye - 2
Zoraida: Deliver the Message - 4, Grudge (Archer) - 2, Frame for Murder (Juju) - 0

Final Thoughts
Tim and I both made critical mistakes in the game, but I made more and ended up losing. Tim forgot to use Zoraida's trigger to take Moderate or Severe damage and no longer be attacked when he was cheating his defense on the last turn. This let me attack him a second time and kill Zoraida off. I forgot to use Your Mine in both turns 3 and 4, which would have really locked the game up at that point. I was burning stones on negative flips and Tim was able to counter me nicely. Had I remembered I could have started with the Decapitates on my early attacks and Zoraida would have been killed on one of those earlier turns. That would have left me time to consolidate up the board for Turf War.

Overall, it was a fun and quick game.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Random models and Statistics!!!

Its been a while since I used the shark picture, and here it is again. Everyone loves statistics right? I mean, I keep a spreadsheet of statistics on games I play and hobby I accomplish, with points and graphs and everything. I guess all that means is I like statistics, huh. Well, too bad... you came to the blog today so you get to read about me and my musing on statistics. I probably should offer something different for those people who think the statistics are just an egotistical love fest I have with my own hobby. Ok, you convinced me (didn't take much, did it?). Before we dive into some graphs I enjoyed checking out, lets look at a couple painted models.

So, we open up with my second Mature Nephilim. I enjoy playing a Nephilim grow list and have done so for a while now. Its a successful list for me, and I find it to be a lot of fun in games for both myself and my opponent. With that said, I was missing out on a second Mature Nephilim until recently. I have the capability to get two of these bad boys out on the table with my grow list, but was limited to 1 because I did not want to put an unpainted one on the table. Well, thats changed now and I have a second painted one. He is slightly different from the grey Mature I have, but still fits the overall crew. If only I could find room in my Malifaux cases, as it stands I have to specially pack him when I believe I might be using my grow list.

I also painted up the Nightmare Edition models I picked up at Gencon this year. Gencon 2012 had a Nightmare Hanging tree set, which included a large Hanging Tree plus two Hanged models that are resized onto 50mm bases. These are all cool models as the digital sculpting allowed for incredibly detailed Nathan and Eric models to be hung from the tree. The Hanged models also came with new stat cards specific for the nightmare versions which allow them to be played with the larger base size. This is kind of cool overall. The detail on the trees was nice, but the fit of the models when assembling them was a bit rough. The price seemed a little high as well, compared to the similar sized GW trees that were released a couple years back. Overall, I am not too worried as this is a one off limited purchase that was fun to paint up.

Hobby by Month 2011
Hobby by month 2012
Ok, so now we saw some pretty painted models, we can jump into the statistics and graphs, right? Actually, I was intrigued to take a look at the differences between my hobby progress this year compared to how things went last year for me. As we can see in the graph to the right, September was a fairly low month for me but November really burst with activity. I was painting and assembling pretty much at the same time last year, not spreading things out as well. This year changed that a bit with some assembly happening in bulk, then painting happening in a separate effort. This is something Rush tended to do more than I did in the past, and I am not finding my hobby time splitting up. The differences in productivity per month is kind of interesting to look at as well. Knowing that I picked up a lot of stuff at Gencon this year, you can clearly see my excitement to get it assembled and painted to get it on the table by the spike in activity January of this year. The lull from last December also followed me into the beginning of this year, with on l a little activity until we hit April, where things started to pick up. There are fewer spikes through this year as well, unlike 2011 where my hobby had a lot of peaks and valleys in activity. This probably has to do with the splitting out of assembly from painting.

Hobby by Faction/Army 2011
Hobby by Faction/Army 2012
So what does that mean for diversity? In 2011 I was heavily focused on four different Factions/Armies. I still had a little bit of Eldar being painted and assembled. Past that, I built and painted a lot of Guild and Neverborn and a little bit of my Arcanists. Moving into 2012 we see some real diversity overall. The first thing that jumped out at me as the tremendous lack of anything GW related. Thats not surprising when you consider my journey away from GW games and deeper into the Wyrd universe.  I still have a heavy focus on Neverborn and Guild, but now we see a dramatic increase in both Ten Thunders and Arcanists. A lot of this comes from the Dual Faction nature of the Ten Thunders, plus an expansion of a couple Arcanist crews I have enjoyed painting and playing. We also see Puppetwars added to the list, although thats really a small amount to augment the Puppet Teddies added to my commission painted PW set. We also see Resurrectionists and Outcasts jumping into the fray, again pretty heavily due to crews outside those faction. Lastly you can see the small bump in terrain on the list, as I just started really tracking that this year.

Games by Army/Faction 2011
Games by Army/Faction 2012
So, the last things to really look at in this article is the overall gaming I have been doing. 2011 was really the year of the Guild for me, with Guild dominating 40 percent of all my gaming. Neverborn pushed in with a healthy 29 percent, and there was still the glimpse of some WHFB and 40K on the list. Granted, Hordes had enough games to actually register a percentage while the GW games didn't, but they were there a little bit. 2012 has been the year of Malifaux lock stock and barrel. The graph of games so far this year leaves no doubt that Malifaux is my dominant game at this point. From January 1 through November 12th I clocked in 157 games reported, which does not include games considered demo's or games where I did play testing. I am not exactly sure what tracking those would do to the number, as I am fairly certain I have an additional 15+ playtest games under my belt this year. 2012 has seen a more even split between guild and Neverborn, although the weight still falls on Guild. Ten Thunders has only been out for three months at the time of this article, and my games with them are already increasing dramatically in percentage, carving a healthly slice of my gaming pie. I am surprised to see the lack of Hordes on the list this year, but that really just comes down to time moving quicker than expected. I did not realize it had been nearly a year since I played my last Hordes game.

So, those are some stats from this year. I am leaving my win/loss/tie records and things along those lines up on the spreadsheet. They are interesting to me, but not really super important. I do enjoy the occasional spot analysis I am able to do tracking the games and hobby as I do. This is not everything for 2012, we still have about six weeks left in the year for games and hobby.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Ten Thunders / Arcanists Dual Faction

Mei Feng is our Arcanist / Ten Thunders Dual faction master from Book 4. This is the first of the currently (Gencon) released crews that I grabbed some pictures of prior to completely painting all the models. I am having fun playing Mei Feng, and am exploring how she works as a 10T Master. Overall, I have to say that I believe she is stronger as an Arcanist master with how she works. This is not swaying me from using her as 10T, and playing around with different crew builds for her.

Mei comes in with her trusty totem, the Emberling. Some who have followed this blog for a while might know that I enjoy painting up burning and fire based models. This goes a fair way back to my Eldar Avatar model, and the Balrog I grabbed from the Lord of the Rings line to practice painting the burning cracked skin theme. The Emberling was no different, as he is really the fire from inside a train engines furnace, come to life and jumped out into the open. Mei herself is a fantastic action piece, coming with the broken lumber she is kicking her way through. This actually made it a bit tough to put her on a base, as the broken lumber just did not fit well with the placid sand zen gardens I have on my other bases. No worries, I still liked the broken wood so just based her alone with that. I ended up painting up the wood first, then going back and adding Mei Feng to the lumber and painting her after.

Mei is all about the constructs, and brought some new robot friends along with her. The big add for Arcanists and for Mei Feng is the Rail Golem. This was a great model to put together and I am really happy with how he assembled and painted up. This guy is a beast on the table and is a large model, filling in both play wise and table presence wise as a center piece model. The Wyrd Asian base insert worked really well for basing this guy and he was much easier to paint up that I expected. It was a fair amount of metalics, followed by wash then touching up the wood and other details on the model. He assembled very easily as well, with all the pieces clearly popping into play. I think the girder in his hands was the only challenge, as it has a hand on one side which actually affixed to the model on the upraised hand, then slides into the lower hand which is not affixed to the girder.

Mei Feng's box set released with her, the Emberling, then three Rail Workers as her base starter. On both the Wyrd boards and the Podcast I am on record as not being a big fan of the Rail Workers. I will be painting them up despite not being a fan, but thats because I am a competitionist. They are not on the fast track, although they are sitting on my paint tray currently and are getting a little bit of work here and there. I finished up one of them to try out in my lists, as seen here. I figure one is enough to show they just do not stand up to alternatives, and if I find something to be different I already have the other two getting painted up. This ends up being a game play situation more than a model situation. The models look pretty good overall, and are full of character with their modifications.

The last set of the Storm of Shadows arcanist models I have painted up are the Metal Gamin. These three little guys are a lot of fun in game, although I am only fielding 1 at a time currently. They are little protection pieces with some decent utility and also work as tremendous tar pits within the crew. Being constructs, they provide a nice jump point for some of Mei Feng's abilities. I like the models overall, and they were very easy to paint, with some metallics and washes. The Thickset guy to the right was the first piece of art I saw for the Gamin, and I loved it. Overall he is probably my favorite of the three, although the other two have grown on me. The Gardener guy with the little tree was something I thought was cool, and the tree from the Wyrd Asian accessories kit was a nice fit for his base. The lizard looking guy was not something I was a fan of when I saw the sculpt. I was heavily reminded of the Skink's from GW's Warhammer Fantasy Lizardman line. After getting some paint on him I was much happier with how he looked and now have him in my case as an alternative to the heavy set guy. Going with some green wash on the brass coloring set him apart into a mechanical construct from the more organic lizard creature I kept seeing when I looked at him.

So whats missing? I have not gotten Willie painted up yet, but he is incoming. Willie is a crazy guy with a wheel barrow of dynamite, so he should be a lot of fun to paint up and the models I have seen are great looking models. I also have the additional 2 Rail Workers to paint, although I expect they will go straight to the display case.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Its Brilliant!!!

Among the variety of new crews that have been brought to us in the Storm of Shadows is Mr. Lynch and his crew of gangsters, gamblers, addicts and women of ill repute. Jakob and his crew are the first crew box to make it out of the release gate post Gencon, and those like me who were lucky enough to grab stuff at Gencon had the opportunity to get the full crew. These guys are dual faction Neverborn and Ten Thunders, but I decided to get them based up on my asian bases to match my 10T crews.

I have had a lot of fun playing around with Jakob and his crew, although I am finding I am using less of his "dedicated" crew and more of the wider 10T faction models to flesh out his play style. Jakob is a very flexible master, with him actually working less as master and his totem being the heavier hitter of the pair. Now, I love the idea of his Totem, the Hungering Darkness. I will readily admit I think its one of the worst models Wyrd has produced to date. It just does not fit my overall mental image of a "Creature of Old Malifaux on par with the Tyrants". The model, in my mind, looks more like a Tadpole than anything else. This model is up very high on my list of models to find a good alternative to use. That said, I love the simplicity of Jakob. I could have attached a ghostly skeleton bit with cards dropping to the ground that came with the model, but I prefer the simple man in a suit offering out his hand in greeting, or to accept payment.

Jakob and Huggy (Hungering Darkness) both work in a crew that contains a new characteristic of Brilliance. Brilliance is a type of drug that Huggy exudes into willing addicts then consumes from them afterwards. There are a number of servants that work for Jakob and Huggy, are full of this "Brilliance" and help deal it out. The first of these are models I love, which are the Beckoners. These would be the "Women of Ill Repute" mentioned earlier. I painted mine up and then showed them to my daughters and wife. The overwhelming response was that they looked like slutty versions of Disney's Tinkerbell (in green) and Jasmine (in purple). At the end of the day, who am I to argue with them, they would know best! Both of these girls regularly find their way into my Jakob crews, as I find them to be the best way to spread brilliance and help Huggy operate within the game.

That brings us to the Gangsters of the crew. In the story, Mr. Graves and Mr. Tannen are actually Neverborn who have "inhabited" the skin-suits of humans. These guys both work for Huggy and are operating on some level full of Brilliance as well. I really like the look of the models, although I am finding that I am not using them a whole lot in games. Tannen can create a bit of a negative play experience overall, and only fits into the play style of a couple crews of mine. As for Graves, he is a great model but in my Jakob crew, I have other models that perform his role better than he does.  I love the model for Tannen, as he certainly comes across as a creepy little slimy dude. He has a knife hidden behind his back which you cannot see in the picture. As for Graves, I could not resist modeling him up with a fence post in hand, as that's one of his weapons on the card.

At some point we come to the question of how does this Brilliance drug affect those Humans who are imbibing and partaking? What are the addicts like? Happily, Wyrd answers this question for us in two different stages. We start with the "Active" addicts, those humans who are currently under the influence. Those are the Illuminated in the game. These models are fun to put together, although the woman with the distended jaws was a bit of a frustration. From a painting standpoint, there are lots of chances for blending and off color choices to play off the human skin tones to the more alien/exotic brilliance infused mutations. The third model is a real "Monkey on your Back" illustration of addiction. In this case the Brilliance has manifested some type of Mini-Huggy that started consuming the Brilliance during use. The Illuminated are not Dual Faction models but instead are dedicated Neverborn models. They can be hired by Jakob regardless of which faction he is in, but not by other 10T masters. Despite this, I wanted to keep with the same asian base scheme across the models that could end up in 10T crews.

Then we come to the next set of models, which is an illustration of what happens when an Illuminated becomes burned out on Brilliance. The result end up being the very sad and incredibly creepy Depleted. Depleted are exactly that, Brilliance users that have hit rock bottom and are hopelessly burnt out on the drug. Their life essence has been consumed by Huggy and only a husk of a person is left. I am not finding that I use these much at all, as they really fill a spot in the crew as a cheap tarpit unit. I can see the use as they can fuel Huggy in the game, but I just do not have room in many of the lists I have build for Jakob. I have pulled them out in fun games and they are interesting. While the model rules alone make them insignificant, Huggy has a rule that removes their insignificance while he is within LOS. Add to the fact that they are brilliant and the fact that they can offer additional healing to Huggy and they are not a horrible hire. Overall, I can see them making their way into a couple lists, just not the primary lists I am playing. These end up being a more for fun model overall. On the modeling side, the Gimpy Foot guy was the biggest challenge for me among the Depleted. I ended up having to glue him on the base with the Foo Dog just to get him to stand up securely. The normal foot is very very small so does not have much room for a pin. The gimpy foot has no room at all for pinning. This required something else for him to lean against. That said, I am fairly happy with the way these three ended up coming out.

That should bring us to the end of the Jakob Lynch crew from the Storm of Shadows book. What we basically have here is the Neverborn section of the new book, which all synergises well with Jakob. I find that I am going a different way with his crew, as I mentioned above. Instead of taking him primarily as a Neverborn Master, I am melding him into the Ten Thunders, running with Beckoners and Huggy but then adding models like Yamaziko (from the pure 10T faction) and Kang (from the Dual faction 10T/Arcanist). I also like adding in Ototo from time to time, swapping with Kang.

Stay tuned next week, still to come are a look at my Arcanist/Ten Thunders and some Hobby tracking and random painted models.