My plan: His lack of blasts meant I could bunch up and benefit from a bevy of auras, so I was going to move all my heavies up together popping heads and picking them up. Somer could be delivered safely to the other side of the board while I also took opportunities to exhaust the other crew. I didn’t give much thought to my opponent’s plans – might need to work on this!
How it worked out: The board was quite odd and forced all the action to occur in one small area, the gap between the large rock and the barrels in the bottom right. This worked out okay for me at the start – Hayden’s emphasis on shooting attacks wasn’t that good for Headhunter so I was happy to bide my time there. The Desolation Engine came screaming in and Gracie only just survived thanks to her armour 2 and Lenny’s damage prevention. I was able to turn the Engine into a head marker and two abominations, one of which was exhausted and another turned into a second head marker. Things were looking pretty good.
I lost Gracie and Lenny quickly thanks to Leveticus and the trapper. Leveticus was able to jump around a lot, I understood this in principle but hadn’t seen it before. Despite this I was able to exhaust him a couple of times (turns out when he dies he doesn’t lose it, useful!). His damage wasn’t as apocalyptic as I was expecting (praise be to the errata) however he did damage Somer enough to get below half-health which cost me a crucial VP.
In the last few turns the damage dropped significantly, the only major event was me foolishly throwing Burt into Leveticus to try to exhaust him one more time. All this did was occupy a few more AP and deliver a head marker straight to the enemy. We were easily able to get into each others’ deployment zones and were too focussed on this to try to stop each other from doing so!
Score: 7-8 loss.
Gracie with Lenny behind her becomes a serious tank. She was only taking 1 or 2 damage each hit from the Desolation Engine.
If I’m taking Undercover Entourage, I really need to take some healing. One bad damage flip is all it takes to knock off at least 1 VP, if not all 3. At the moment I only have slop haulers, I could look at some lightning bugs.
I finally got to use Somer’s Bigger Hat Than You. Amazing ability! Won initiative, used my high cards on Somer’s activation, and saved a high card to guarantee this action would succeed. Bayou Two Card meant I was still able to cheat (sort of) in defence and the rest of the turn went much easier on me because we each had no hand. Coupled with Survival of the Fittest it’s a pretty mean combo.
Leveticus is incredibly mobile, but quite predictable. If I took something to take out the waifs *cough*pigapult*cough* it would be harder for him to get where-ever he wanted.
If I’m sacrificing models in Headhunter, it has to be worth more than 1VP. Otherwise it’s only an even trade at best.
My plan: Send out the taxidermist with the piglets and a skeeter to take one table corner for Inspection. Have everyone else huddle behind some cover while summoning more gremlins, lobbing exploding piglets, and flinging gremlins over to the other table corner. I’d feed gremlins into the centre to contest the strategy, expecting them to die every turn. Som’er would have to move into the centre on turn 3 or 4 (depending on the aggressiveness of my opponent) to make use of his boomstick.
How it worked out: The taxidermist was able to advance to the corner almost uncontested, his only opponent being the witching handler who engaged a piglet for three turns without killing it! Very lucky pig. Sonnia flamed the other piglet and injured the taxidermist but then had to move into the centre. So they claimed that corner from turn two on.
The pigapult performed wonderfully: lobbed three gremlins into the other corner, one of which also ran into the opponent’s half and placed scheme markers for Leave Your Mark. Its fire was mostly ineffective except for turn four in which it finished off Samael, a stalker, and killed the rifleman outright.
Som’er and the gremlins did their part too. He got eight bros in the first three turns, then moved into the centre to damage Samael, Sonnia and the Guardian. He helped to contest on turn five.
Score: 10-6 win.
The pigapult is a wonderful, wonderful thing. For strategies which you have to contest the centre it intimidates your opponent no end. And being able to lob minions all over the board is great for breakthrough-style scheme pools.
Som’er (or any model with a powerful ranged attack) pairs up very well with the pigapult. Som’er damaged quite a few models which the pigapult was able to finish off very easily.
The guardian is a real spoiler – Ml 7 with a 3″ range. I have a very poor understanding of the Guild robots so after the game I read up on all the models that I faced and he stood out as a particularly good one. Still, only eight wounds, so unless he gets his Df trigger off he’s not too tough.
I ignored Show of Force because I wasn’t planning on taking it, however that just encourages your opponent to take it because it’ll be easy points. Even with Anna sending off the handler into one of the corners, just leaving Hopkins to score it, she still earned two points and nearly three from it. Even taking a single 1SS upgrade on a tough enforcer can be enough to deny the points.
Piglets are very good at staying alive if you’re prepared to cheat. They are awful to control however! I would have been better off either swapping them for bayou gremlins, or taking a hog whisperer instead of the taxidermist.
Terrain: Fair bit of blocking terrain but a mostly open centre. Crews would be able to advance under cover but to contest the stashes they would be exposed in the middle of the board.
Som’er Teeth Jones, Can O’ Beans,Encouragement
Skeeter x 2
Gracie with Saddle
Jack Daw, Writhing Torment, Twist and Turn
Montresor, The Creeping Terror
Ama No Zako
My plan: Split up into two forces: Burt, Gracie, Lenny and a Skeeter on one side, and Som’er, Francois, the lone Bayou Gremlin, the Slop Hauler and a Skeeter on the other. Each would attempt to hold their stash marker. Burt, Gracie, and Lenny would aim to also take out Montresor and any minions they could.
How it worked out: Burt, Gracie, and Lenny worked wonderfully well. They took out Montresor easily and one minion a turn while contesting the stash marker. Gracie was able to dance around a bit and get the boys into position, however she did get paralysed by the Nurse so didn’t have as much direct impact as she would have liked. Lenny’s immunity to conditions made him perfect against the Nurse and Hanged. Burt was just enjoying Lenny’s ram and hitting with 4/5/6 damage.
On the other flank Francois went screaming into Ama No Zako in an attempt to kill both of them with Dumb Luck. It took a couple of turns, some soulstones, and some healing from the Slop Hauler but he did succeed eventually. The exchange was worth it as it nixed his Hunting Party. Jack Daw cursed Som’er and the Slop Hauler which decreased their effectiveness, especially when Som’er got paralysed by the Nurse. Luckily he was standing by the stash marker the whole time! At the end of turn 4 he just managed to remain on it despite the best efforts of Jack and the Crooked Man.
We called it near the end of turn 4 as it was getting late and the outcome was fairly obvious by that point.
Score: 6-4 win, probably would have been 9-5 at end of turn 5.
Lenny, Burt, and Gracie make an amazing team with a ton of synergy. Main thing I need to work on is positioning Burt and Gracie so that he can pull her into combat with his built-in trigger. As she’s on a 50mm base it can be hard to get it to work.
Skeeters are good at taking off the last few wounds off incorporeal models with Pull My Finger, however I need to remember that they can shut down triggers from 13″ away and this can be far more useful. If I’d done that to Jack on turn 4 it would have been impossible for him to leap around and threaten Som’er.
Nurses are awesome and I can’t wait to get some into my Zoraida crew! Nurse/Lenny seems too good to be true.
I’ve decided to start recording all my games of Malifaux to note my successes, failures, and, most importantly, my learnings. A large part of the fun I get from games stems from learning and mastering their systems, so it makes sense to do what I can to improve that.
It’s a good time to start too because I’ve just ended my sabbatical with the Viktorias and am returning to my primary faction, Gremlins. I’ve been playing them since I got into Malifaux at Gen Con 2011 with Ophelia and picked up Som’er Teeth Jones a year later. I’ve used those two for five years now, mainly Ophelia in v1 and Somer (sans apostrophe now) in v2.
Where I’m sitting at now is with a collection of about 50 miniatures to choose from. They’re mostly original metals with a scattering of plastics. I’ve got everything from v1, including 13 Bayou Gremlins, except for McTavish because I wasn’t a fan of the original model. Unpainted I have the new Zoraida box set and the Nightmare Whiskey Golem, and I’m making eyes at Brewmaster. I’m not a fan of Wong or Mah, but Zipp and Ulix interest me, especially after reading previews of the Iron Skeeters.
I haven’t picked up any new models for a long time for a couple of reasons. First, I find the new models difficult to paint due to the incredibly fine level of detail. Secondly, I don’t like having a backlog of painting projects so have spent the last couple of years not buying anything. I’m getting to the end of my pile of minis so am looking forward to expanding my collection again soon!
I consider myself a fairly competitive player, I can beat most of my opponents on a good day but am far from guaranteed a win! I have a few models that I rely a lot on (Burt, Gracie and Saddle as anyone would tell you). I only have a couple of regular crew types: Somer the Summoner, or Somer leading a crew of ram-intensive heavies. My only regular mercenary is a convict gunslinger for taking out hanged.
I’ve got a few goals for keeping a diary.
First off, I want to think more about the scheme pool and come up with a plan each game, and then look back and see how that plan worked out. I can be pretty sluggish when playing and most of the delay comes from me not coming up with a plan beforehand.
Secondly, I want to learn some more finesse with synergistic models I already use together. Malifaux can be a very fussy game and I often activate models in the wrong order, or get them in the way of each other, and by writing down what went wrong I can make sure I don’t repeat the same mistakes.
And lastly it’ll help cement the knowledge of the crews I face. I don’t play that often (maybe 2-3 games a month) so I often have forgotten what a particular model does before I face it again. The best games are the ones in which both players know all the models on the table so this will help me get up to speed faster.
The main game I’ve been playing for the last five years is Malifaux, a tightly-balanced skirmish game set in an alternate Earth dripping with overtones of the wild west, Victorian horror, steampunk, and all sorts of other influences. It’s a bit of a mishmash but it manages to pull it off – after a while ninjas battling undead cowboys or hillbilly gremlins seems pretty normal.
Call to Arms is the annual convention held by the Wellington Warlords at St. Patrick’s College in Kilbirnie, Wellington. This is the second year that a Malifaux tournament was held there, and I was hoping to improve a bit on my nightmare run last year – bottom of the table with zero wins!
I took along my Gremlins, as usual, with a few new models painted up to try out: two warpigs, three stuffed piglets and a Gremlin taxidermist.
There were ten of us competing plus one organising and umpiring (thanks Simon!), a pretty good turn out for a Wellington event. We even had Hayden and Peter come down from Auckland which was great.
Strategy: Headhunter Scheme pool: Line in the Sand, Distract, Plant Explosives, Vendetta, Protect Territory Deployment: Corner
First game was against a local player, Liam, and his Lucius crew. He took what seemed to be a pretty standard crew – two death marshals, a hunter, a lawyer, a doppelganger, and Francisco. I had Som’er, one skeeter, two bayou gremlins, a warpig, a hog whisperer, two stuffed piglets, Burt and Gracie.
The terrain had a fairly open centre with plenty of cover around it. My plan was to use Burt and Gracie to collect heads for me (they’re quite reliable like that), the stuffed piglets to cause a bit of mayhem and to drop scheme markers thanks to the hog whisperer’s The Crispiest of Bacon ability for Plant Explosives, and somewhere along the line to distract a few enemies. I didn’t think this would be a problem due to the nature of strategy requiring us to be near each other from the get-go.
We both led with some scheming – I had Burt put a marker down to make Liam assume I had taken Protect Territory – I think this had the desired effect and led him to not worry about my scheme markers later on. He had declared Line in the Sand and one of his death marshals started to drop markers for that on his right flank.
The clash started soon with Burt being pulled into combat with the hunter, who had declared Vendetta against him. This soon became the centre of the melee, with Gracie and then Francisco committing themselves into the combat. I claimed the hunter’s head for my first VP, and was trying to keep Burt alive to deny Liam’s second Venetta VP by passing off his attacks onto Gracie. This was going well until Francisco drew the red joker for damage, so then I sent in the warpig to become the new damage soak who managed to keep him alive for the rest of the game.
I had taken Pig Feed on Som’er so I used him to get some extra mileage out of the warpig and the stuffed piglets. I found stuffed piglets to be great at ruining plans – people just don’t want to touch them, and because they’re peons they don’t drop head markers. I was able to move them into position easily and had Som’er shoot one, this dropped a scheme marker thanks to the nearby hog whisperer. This plus a scheme marker dropped by a sacrificial gremlin gave me all three VPs for Plant Explosives.
The last few activations was spent desperately trying to remove Liam’s scheme markers he’d dropped for A Line in the Sand – he placed a total of five or six during the game but I managed to get the total down below four by the last turn. Phew!
In the end, 6-4 to me. I was very pleased with the ability to drop scheme markers easily with the combo of the hog whisperer and stuffed piglets, that worked better than I had hoped though I could tell it was going to be hard to keep the whisperer alive. Burt and Gracie were their usual reliable selves and it was good to finally see some use out of Burt’s Slippery ability. Plus I really liked Som’er’s Pig Feed upgrade and can see I’ll be taking it more often.
Strategy: Turf War Scheme Pool: Line in the Sand, Distract, Make them Suffer, Assassinate, Take Prisoner Deployment: Standard
Second game had me paired up against Hayden, a Wellington stalwart who had recently moved to Auckland. He plays Ten Thunders and recently picked up Brewmaster, before the tournament I had encouraged him to use him instead of his usual choice of McCabe or Shenlong because I wanted to see how he played.
We played over a very open board, and with Assassinate and Make them Suffer in the mix I chose to use Ophelia. I took her, one Young Lacroix, a slop hauler, a warpig, a hog whisperer, a convict gunslinger, Burt, and Gracie. He took the Brewmaster, Wesley, Fingers, Ama No Zako, Toshiro, and two komainu. I thought this played into my hands with a lot of minions and minion summoning, however I did my usual and forgot that Make them Suffer only applies if masters or henchmen do the killing, and I’d only taken Ophelia! She was going to be very busy.
I sent the warpig and hog whisperer up one flank which worked out very well – he managed to kill a komainu on turn two, then next turn killed Wesley and rebounded off him into Ama No Zako. He kept slowing her which really helped negate her effectiveness, however he did get distracted later in the game which gained Hayden a VP.
In the centre I was facing off against Brewmaster, Fingers, Toshiro and a komainu. Not a great deal happened in the first few turns, then I took out the komainu (with defensive +2) in one turn with the gunslinger in an impressive display of rapid firing – five shots in total! Brewmaster got shot to bits by Ophelia, however the next turn Hayden won the initiative flip and healed him nearly to full with Fingers – so close! At the end of the next turn he ran him out to distract Ophelia – Gracie slightly mauled him, followed by me winning the initiative finishing him off with Ophelia for the three Assassinate VPs.
I ended up winning it 7-4. Again the warpig proved its worth – if they get a good run they can really pinball around a cluster of enemies and spoil plans. I’m always worried about Ama No Zako so was happy when she got locked down. The Assassinate points make up for my mistake choosing Make them Suffer, which only rendered me one VP when Ophelia took out a summoned komainu.
Strategy: Collect the Bounty Scheme Pool: Line in the Sand, Breakthrough, Vendetta, Distract, Spring the Trap Deployment: Close
The final round I found myself at the top table with the only other player to get two wins, Peter from Auckland. He was also the only other Gremlin player, a fact we both derived some smug satisfaction from! We also ended up taking similar crews: I took Som’er, a skeeter, Lenny, two warpigs, Gracie, and three stuffed piglets. Peter took Zoraida, a slop hauler, a hog whisperer, two warpigs, Gracie, and the whiskey golem.
We both knew that the warpigs make for excellent additions in a Collect the Bounty game – they’re very hard-hitting but as only minions you’re only giving up a single bounty point if (when) they die. However I knew their 1AP charges were going to be cost me against Zoraida’s Obey.
I took Vendetta with one of my warpigs against Gracie – turns out I picked the wrong pig of mine to put it on! Distract I wasn’t sure why I picked it – it always runs a bit counter to a killing strategy and ended up netting me a single point. My plan on the right flank was to lure Gracie into attacking one of my warpigs (the one without Vendetta) then killing her with the other one. In the centre I was going to use the great combo of Burt and Gracie to kill his two warpigs, with the stuffed piglets for support or early bombing runs.
The opening moves saw one of my warpigs hemmed by Zoraida’s voodoo dolls. I took the risky move of charging it with that same warpig, which of course made it inflict the damage on itself. However when a warpig kills a model it can heal up by ending its activation, so as long as it actually killed the voodoo doll it’d be okay! Luckily it managed it, so ended up a lot further up the board with no wounds.
My plan against his Gracie got off to a good start – an early Zoraida-induced charge from one of my warpigs against Som’er led to him squeeling into position to get off two shots against Gracie which reduced her to three wounds. I moved my vendetta warpig into position for a charge next turn to finish her off and gain my three VPs – all looking pretty good.
In the centre things were also going pretty well too – I had blocked up his warpigs’ charge lanes with the stuffed piglets, and Lenny rode Gracie into melee and took out the slop hauler while Gracie herself mauled one of the warpigs.
Turn three everything turned to custard however! Peter won initiative and took out my vendetta warpig with Gracie – it had already taken six wounds from Zoraida’s Obeys, and a high ram was all he needed to finish it off. That led to Gracie being restored to full wounds and my Vendetta scheme being worth zero VPs because I wasn’t able to declare it. Then Lenny took a red joker to face so my centre looked like it was going to collapse as well. In the meantime the whiskey golem was quietly running around putting down scheme markers for Line in the Sand and Breakthrough.
The end came quickly, the score was 5-2 in Peter’s favour which led to him deservedly winning the tournament. I ended up on 6 TPs with a DIFF of +2, gaining me fourth place. Also the second tournament in a row in which I just missed out on the podium after losing on the top table. 🙂 Still, I was very happy with my performance, and most importantly I had three very enjoyable games against great opponents.
The day after
I’ll admit that my interest in Malifaux had been flagging of late. A number of factors led to this: I don’t love the direction that the art is going in, I find the plastic miniatures frustrating to paint, the fiction has been uninspiring since the pinnacle of Twisting Fates, and two of the new Gremlin masters seem unnecessary and rushed (Mah Tucket and Wong). However don’t get me wrong, I’ve always thought that the game itself is wonderful. It’s very well put together and balanced, and holds up extremely well to high-level competitive play. And somehow Wyrd has created a game which you can still be very good at without having to be a dick.
So I’m happy to say that this tournament has got me back into the Malifaux spirit. I have a diverse enough roster of miniatures already (just shy of 50) to field a lot of different Gremlin crews even with just two masters, especially now that I’ve got two warpigs painted up. I’ll be getting my pigapult painted up soon now, plus I’ve got a Zoraida crew box assembled and ready to base and paint if I want to branch out into a new master. Ulix is looking mighty fine too, his pig shenanigans look like a great deal of fun.
And most importantly we’ve got a really good local scene now. The tournament attracted a lot of attention, due in no small part to a lot of the players putting in a huge amount of effort in getting some really nice boards built – thanks Simon, Alastair and Jordan! We were talking with a lot of interested players throughout the day, people who had maybe bought a crew box but never played a game before, or had heard of the game but didn’t think anyone locally played it. Very promising!