Arcanists vs Guild / Malifaux club game
Mei Feng Crew vs Lucas McCabe Crew
I've now entered a Malifaux competition, which means that my tally of, erm, 2 games needs to be raised somewhat quickly otherwise some 10-year-old kid will not only wipe the table with me, but I'll embarass myself by clearly not knowing any of the rules whatsoever - and with this being a very different type of game to my usual "one set of rules covers all troop types" rules, and instead being a "every figure/model has it's own rules" mechanic I'm already definately going to be at the incompetent end of the spectrum, so knowing the basics is somewhat of a must. With this in mind my co-conspirator Adam and I snuck in a game down the club, with him wheeling out Lucas McCabe and me taking Mei Feng at 50SS
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The list for the Mei Feng Crew was:
Arcanists Crew - 50 SS
This did in theory show some evolution of thought from my first effort, with a lot of Imbued Energies (after soliciting some advice from the Wyrd Forum) which allows some of my bigger models to have an extra move at one point in the game, or generate a lot of extra cards if they die. I had also acknowledged that I had failed to work out how to use Mei Fengs "oi, you, get the f--k off me!" Thunderous Smash upgrade properly in a previous game, and so had dropped it. My opposition was a new Master for Adam, in the form of Lucas McCabe, who is basically a RSPCA-unfriendly cowboy dude who can seemingly sacrifice his own horse for another lease of life. He also has a nice sideline in whips and leather. I stacked up on figures and upgrades and didn't leave many soulstones spare in building my crew, partly as I wanted to get a lot of figures on table, and partly as I'm still not entirely sure when to use them.
The table featured my new roll-out urban 3x3 cloth from those nice folks in Lithuania, but also my cowboy buildings (as the Medieval/Gothic city I'm building wasn't anywhere near being finished). If you are easily offended by what is not a great combination for any crossover Phil & Kirsty/Evil Magic Steampunk viewers out there, please look away now. Because both of us are still old-school wargamers at heart there were also some green felt oval forests on the table, and a couple of bits of terrain that we'd bought and damn well had to use - a from 28mm gallows being visible in the shot below. This didn't leave much in the way of shooting lanes, which might benefit me as the Guild tend to shoot a lot, but my edge of the board had only a couple of bottlenecks through which to move my models up towards the centre of the table.
This first view is showing the impact of the bottlenecks. It's early on, and the scheme pool has thrown up Schemes and Strategies such as "Kill the enemy boss", "Get one of your own men killed" and "Capture the Middle" as well as some more boring ones. Give this option to two wargamers and it seemed fairly obvious that both of us were going to be going for Assassinate and Sacrifice a Pawn - and trying not to let the opponent do the same, which would mean dancing around until turn 4 without killing anything too obvious (when the Kill a Pawn ends), trying to have a ruck in the centre of the table (to Capture the Middle) and teeing eveything up for a mad charge at the enemy boss with great violence having a bit of assassination on the brain later in the game.
My extremely obvious crewmember to be killed was the bomb-chucking lunatic Willie, who immdiately barrelled (or barrowwed) up the middle of the table whilst my big hitters tried to inch forwards in cover behind buildings over to the left behind a big house hoping that they could get close to the enemey without being shot or zapped or spell-spammed or lasered from space or something else quite unpleasant I didn't know anything about. Having drunk the Imbued Energies Kool Aid my plan was essentially to get close, the use Imbued Energies to do shed-loads of nasty things to the enemy in one turn of melee frenzy. The Crew can also be seen in more detail here
The Guild were a motley bunch - a Witchling Stalker doing his best Michael Jackson's Thriller backing dancer impersonation was making a bee-line for the middle of the table, supported by a number of Wastrels who also looked suspiciously keen to join in any incidental otbreak of Gene Kelly inspired musical theatre with their jaunty top hats and canes.
Rasputina vs the Witchling Stalkers:
My plan was one any self-respecting 16-year old boy could have come up with - stick my Willie right into the middle of everything and see what happens when he fires off ... which he did, almost immediately, dropping a big blast marker on the Stalker and dishing out some damage through the 50mm blast radii he dropped (possibly in the shape of an expensive dry cleaning bill..).
The Guild also had a dog, who was threatening to sneak along the side of the table and to cock it's leg up against my new gallows - which as I hadn't yet washed and sealed it, could lead to some very nasty warping, especially in the absence of any Waldgeists in my crew to tempt it into stopping off for a pee somewhere it could get squished. There was a vague chance Lucas had chosen a Breakthrough scheme and so with nothing much to stop the doggie I elected to have a go at it with the new Raptor I had painted up - so, some flight allowed the Raptor to appear next to it, get out the claws and try and slow it down.
The Guild also had a dubious looking skulker on the board edge in the shape of a Guild Lawyer - he moved up, picking up some Leader-level abilities that McCabe had casually tossed him, including a rather outrageous "nimble every turn" and and even more outrageous "reactivate every turn" (wow - how much is that? An ability that doubles the APs of one of your models throughout the whole game ???! That makes Imbued Energies look a bit pants...) Anyway, the Lawyer was busy out-AP-ing my whole crew from the beginning and was furiously casting bad news down the side of the table as he took aim at my crew big hitters with a nasty little abillity which meant my potent attacking figures were all picking up a Condition which would see them take a point of damage each time they dished out damage of their own on the enemy. The range on this was enormous - and as the Golem and Joss were taking hits, and the Rail Worker was thinking about having a revenge pop back at them, the Lawyer was just too far away, and his ability to duck back out of sight through the double-nimble kept him irritatingly safe...
Malifaux hint - Every figure can do about 2 actions each turn - move, shoot, attack, cast a spell or do something to a game-marker. Some also get a specific-to-them freebie action too, and the Masters can do three things anyway. Nimble lets you do an extra Walk action, and Reactivate lets you do two whole sets of actions during the turn. If your crew doesn't have this ability, it also seems a lot like cheating.
Both crews were being cautious with their big dudes, but the lure of packing the middle with low-value models was still too much to resist and the area around the centre-point was looking like a rather dissappointing pot-luck box set. The enemy mad doggie had eaten the Raptor, which was irritating as it took one of my best looking models off table, and meant I'd wasted 3 stones on a junk model and only succeeded in proving to myself that my poorly thought out plan of slowing someone down by dropping into engagement range of them could work, but at a 3SS cost for a 1-turn delay probably wasn't something to repeat.....
The Emberling was muttering under it's breath in the middle, trying to look like it was a possible host for the "please kill me you idiot" Scheme, whilst Willie was merrily flapping around chucking bombs ... and with the demise of the Raptor, and the possibility of an end-zone run by the doggie Willie felt obliged to try and blow up the dog, taking him away from the more obvious targets in the middle in the form of the distressingly casual Wastrels, who were all digging in with their umbrellas. My Gamin had snuck up and gotten close to the Witchling Stalker, and had chucked out a Scheme Marker to try and pretend that Line in the Sand was one of my Schemes. The Stalker was having none of it however.... and demanded that someone killed it
All the big hitters were mased on the left - the thin, as yet-unpainted or washed wooden walls of the Cowboy House were psyching everyone out with their rather cheap and lazy approach to being terrain, and neither side wanted to make the first move. The game was constipated, and the turns were clicking over .... what was needed here was for a large blunt object to be applied at high speed to anything at all... Instantly recognising the fact that this clever mincing around stuff was probably not playing to her crews strengths Mei Feng reached into her toolbag of smackdown and pulled out.....the Rail Golem.
The Golem was pissed. He'd already been irritated by the Lawyer, and had been unable to work out what he'd managed to do in the previous game that was so effective and instead was just lumbering slowly forwards with no real plan. Being called on to execute a brain-free endeavour such as steaming forwards and making something happen was already jostling for top place on his agenda even before Mei gave him the call to start swinging the big metal beam around. The idea was simple - to distract the McCabe crew from the less imposing Joss proxy who was better placed to kill McCabe.
Joss meanwhile was almost ready to go himself, as he peered carefully with his big half-metal head round the front of the building, taking Metal Protection from the Metal Gamin. McCabe had pulled the Lawyer out, deciding that the time for desk work was over ... McCabe's beatsticks, The Executioner and Sidir the Sikh Waiter, were peering back from the other side of the building, although whilst the Golem stomped up, the Guild men were moving slightly more cautiously due to the random scattering of horse poo McCabe's dancing had already deposited.
Sidir vs McCabe
What transpired next was a flurry of action, too fast to record on camera (for an incompetent like me). The first rather painful occurrence was that The Executioner picked up the Nimble/Reactivate combo from McCabe, and combined with some rather pants cards from the Rail Golem wiped it out in a single turn!
Joss responded with an Imbued Energies-fuelled charge against Sidir the Waiter as he sought to get to McCabe... Joss inflicted some serious hits, spilling several pints of Kingfisher and scattering mushroom pilau rice across the wipe-clean surface of the table but before he could ram the mango lassi down the Sikh's throat and fin ish him off with one more wafer thin mint his final attack came up short, allowing Sidir to whip out his huge sword and rip Joss down the middle like the last hot keema naan dropped into the middle of a rugby club social night dinner, and instantly turn him into a "not actually on the board any more" sort of dude.
I'd now lost my two main beatstick models and done very little damage ... which was a perfect situation, as it meant I only had one model left - Mei Feng - to accomplish everything I needed to do (kill McCabe).
Mei opened a tin of spinach, glugged down the Irn Bru and took a bite out of a Cow Pies as she prepared for some intense comic-book style action - with the Metal Golem providing a perfect jumping off point she Railwalked her way into combat with the somewhat Joss-damaged Sidir .... suddenly the nonchalant poses of the Wastrels instantly appeared smug and deliberately disinterested as they watched from a potentially unsafe distance as Mei unleased a flurry of well-timetabled railway-themed kung-fu on the poor Waiter. Sidir was already almost broken, and Mei's very first flurry send him back through the revolving door to retrieve "the After Eights of too-many-wounds to survive". Mei was now in sight of McCabe - Train-fu against a horse!
Mei was triggering combat sequences and picking the Red Jokers out of the pack like a woman possessed. The iron horse-fu of the Rail Crew's leader swiftly removed the flesh and blood horse of Mr Cowboy, dropping him to a poor man's Indiana Jones (wlthough with Sidir already dead, he probably had no-one to shoot).
Mei kept on pressing forwards as McCabe tried to pass off wounds to the luckless members of his crew - although the passing off of wounds to the Lawyer actually met with approval from both parties. The 3" range of Mei was a mixed blessing, making it hard for the Guild to hit back easily but also pulling multiple models into engagement range and boosting McCabe's defence through one of his other abilities. Willie by now had also reappeared having mopped up a dog, and was giving the Executioner and some Wastrels something else to worry about as he tried to stick lit bundles of dynamite into their back pockets as he maneuvered his wheelbarrow through the woods. This was dicey stuff - Mei was not the most resilient Master, but McCabe was wobbling...
McCabe took his turn.... striking at Mei with his whip as if he was auditioning for a rather Gothic-Horror version "50 Shades of Grey (with cobwebs, and a lot of Black)" he thought his chance was here... but Mei took the hit and back-flipped her way out of combat using her disengage trick, leaving all of the Guild models marooned in a movement-sapping forest and engaged with a rather suicidal Willie (back to the 50 Shades reference...) and unable to get back into combat with her! This breathing space allowed Mei to pick her time to attack in the next turn, taking down the final wounds for McCabe and claiming the Assassinate points!
The game ended in a rather eventful draw - I had accidentally killed the Witchling Stalker, which had netted Adam his own Scheme, we had both scored maximum points on the Capture the Flag thing and I had removed McCabe from play...
Post Match Summary from Mei Feng
At our Sixteenth National Congress since stepping through The Breach, the Party established the important concept of the Triple Ninja Woot Woot Steam Train Slapdown, which together with Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought and Deng Xiaoping Theory, is a founding tenent of the long-term guiding ideology that the MS&U membership must uphold. That was a historic decision which carries forward the basic principles of scientific socialism and underground insurrectionists drug running and crime in an all-round way which upholds the lofty ideal of communism, and its ultimate values and goals in the face of undue provocation from the forces of reactionary Guild censorship and oppression. And dogs.
When we consider this skirmish in the light of both dialectical materialism and historical materialism, it is easy to see how the ridiculous effectiveness of Reactivate on a big fat biffer like the Guild Executioner perfectly embodies Marxism's theoretical characteristic of advancing with the times and is imbued with the same spirit as the Marxist stand, viewpoint and methodology. The destruction of the Rail Golem therefore constitutes a massive breach of the integral whole that comprehensively reflects the Party's basic theory, line and program of using obscure magical powers to permanently fasten steam powered drilling machines to the arms and legs of the working proletariat.
The important thought of MS&U ideology also manifested itself the way in which it all, yet again, came down to me and my cool ninja skills, showing how even the massed proletariat can be busy promoting economic, political, and cultural advancement under socialism with Evil Magic inspired Chinese characteristics and all-round mechanical engineering as its basic content, whilst still leaving time for small slippers and a roundhouse kick to the head from the Party leadership.
To a great extent, this game systematically answered the key questions of our times: What kind of a approach to the game suits our MS&U membership, and how can we make sure it happens like that? The answer is clearly one in which no matter how badly it is going, an act of heroism on my part towards the end two turns is instrumental in building our own version of steam powered and deeply corrupt socialism, as well as developing human society beyond the Breach, and in this fashion constitutes a new theoretical basis that guides all our undertakings toward success.
At its Sixteenth National Congress, the Party established these important thoughts as the long-term guiding ideology that it must uphold. Going forwards however, we will add an Arcane Effigy and Johan to the mix in order to better usher in a new stage in the adaptation of Marxism to through the Breach Chinese conditions, allowing us to remove unhelpful Conditions in the process.
Bring on the real competition...!
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
So, you lost your two best models for no impact, killed something you didn't need to in order to gif the enemy a load of points and turned a win into a draw as a result? In terms of gaming competence, that fits my definition of Arcane in spades.
Lesson One - focus on the way you score points in the game, don't just try and kill stuff. I hoped you had learnt things, but I am not surprised that this hope was dashed on the complex machinery of gears and levers that forms my always-disappointed mind in this steampunk-horror universe in which we find ourselves today.
Lesson Two - don't just take models that you like, take them with a plan. Ideally a plan that is more complex than "I like this model and it's new, let me put it on table".
Lesson Three - CONDITION REMOVAL!!! YOU NEED A MODEL THAT DOES IT!!! You were stuck with painful conditions by that Lawyer that crippled your guys in the first couple of turns, and you had no way of getting rid of it. That means you need Johan or the Arcane Effigy, as they are the Arcaniists only options. You own a Johan, but don't have an Arcane Effigy, so hurry up and buy one.
Lesson Four - I need to buy some incontinence pants and a motorcycle helmet before you go to your first tournament, as I will either p-ss myself laughing, or end up curled in a ball rolling around under the table rocking back and forth - and at risk of bashing my head if I ever dare come out - as the full horror of your incompetence sinks in over the course of three games.
Lesson Five - You failed to mention it in the report, but after klilling McCabe you tried to have a slap at the Executioner. When your own death would have lost you the game. JUST RUN THE F__K AWAY!!!
Lesson Six - Killing an obvious model in a game where "kill and obvious model" is a way for your opponent to score points is daft. But is doubly daft where you can put non-damaging burning on enemy models, which can kill them just as dead, but without it counting for that scheme or strategy.
Anyways, this did happen rather more quickly than the first game, so at least you have learnt to flip cards at some speed. I look forward to seeing more coherent terrain and more incoherent gameplay in future....
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