100 SS Pool, Fixed Master Malifaux at Gertfaux 2016
Gertfaux, on the industrial outskirts of Bristol at Bristol Independent Gaming has seen my first ever Malifaux tournament just one year ago... and also my best ever result, sort of proving that the more I play, the worse I appear to be getting - something regular readers of this site will recognise as a self-evident truth.
(There is lot's more of this stuff on my Malifaux pages)
After a nastily early start and an uneventful drive from London I arrived at the venue a little early, armed with 2 pork pies, a coronation chicken sandwich, two bottles of fizzy pop and a 100SS pool of Arcanist beasts under the command of Marcus.
The logic for Marcus was that the event was using the new Gaining Grounds scheme pool for 2016, but without the Leviticus-destroying one, so I imagined that he might turn up. Having played and lost comprehensively against Levi in previous events I wanted to prepare, and Marcus' buff to Willpower duels for his crew looked like the best way to go
My crew pool was
This list was built around the following scheme pool, where I thought that a combination of Leaping (Blessed, Silurids, and Myrandabus) plus lots of fast, cheap models (hounds of all varieties) would be pretty handy. Cojo would also be useful for pushing people out of the centre or basically out of where they wanted be in games 2-4, and the Raptors bury/unbury might be cute in Game 4
Game 1 Marcus vs Lilith
The first game was against Lilith, on a snowbound table that made me wish I had reconsidered bringing Rasputina and the Snowstorm. Out of the pool I had picked Hunting party and Mark for Death, thinking that they would both be simple to execute and required me to do essentially the same thing as the main Strat Headhunter (as I was pretty jet-lagged and tired, so nothing too complicated could be countenanced)
My opponent - it turned out - took Hunting Party and Leave Your Mark.
The game started cautiously, with both masters and crews not that keen to engage with each other. I had gone for the Blessed and the Rogue Necro as my killing Enforcers, plus of course Myrandabus, with a couple of pairs of Hounds, and the Arcane Effigy in case Lilith did anything nasty with conditions (I don't really know much about most of the other crews).
The plan was to kill little things with the beaters, and then use the dogs to run in and steal the heads. Here the Blessed proxy gets in an early start looking for some head-cutting action
The temptation to leap around was strong, and soon the Blessed was bearing his buttocks all over the table - here I think against Nekima.
Marcus was using Hunger Cry, Feral Instincts, and Trail of the Gods as upgrades and I soon discovered that with a bit of well timed domestication and double-zero actions he could be a pretty scary beatstick - giving Lilith a real fright after turning her into a beast during one of his attacks. This combat then led to the most amusing moment in the game, when after hammering an already-activated Lilith to within an inch of her life, Marcus came on the receiving end of a revenge attack from the Widow Weaver. Cheating down my own cards with a low tome to get of the Defend Me trigger at maximum damage meant that Lilith found herself on the end of a ++ damage flip from the Widow Weaver...... which she then survived as my opponent black-jokered himself in the attack!
Lilith soon butted out - leaving Marcus to keep on fighting anything he could find.
But her retreat was only temporary as Marcus flurried his way into and through a load of other models to find himself and a nearby Guild Hound proxy in a forest of heads.
Marcus and his neighbours
With time ticking out, I was losing by one VP. Looking to sneak a win, Marcus was already placed to pick up a head himself and so first attempted to Alpha a Dead Dog to pick up another... but as the Alpha went in time was called, and despite being surrounded by heads I ended up not collecting any that turn to go down 5-4 (2 for Hunting party, 1 for Mark for Death, 1 for Headhunter).
All in all a game to get the rust out of my system having not played in ages. The learning on the new scheme was that maybe taking M4D and Hunting Party was a mistake, as it added an extra activation before killing an enemy - and with the extra activation to pick up the heads as well, this was just too much to do (and too much to remember to do). Lots of things were killed by both sides, but only 3 heads collected and I only had time to mark one enemy before swatting it.
Game 2 Marcus vs Marcus
Game 2 was a Marcus-off, with two very similar lists. I again took the Rogue Necro, Cojo and an armouring assistant in the shape of a Metal Gamin (also thinking that having something that was not a beast could be useful) and 4 dogs and a rabbit. The dogs split up to run for the corners, one supported by the Necro and the Myrandabus (who changed pretty early to avoid a disaster)
I had chosen Take Prisoner and Inspection from the pool, both relying on the fast dogs to score points - with flank deployment the corners were a long way apart, and I thought that spending 14 points on 4 dogs when the rest of the game would be dragging the beaters to the centre would be a neat trick.
My opponent selected Exhaust their forces and Inspection as well, which he looked to do with an RSR on one flank, and a Silurid/Moleman combination. Guessing where the Moleman would be headed, I nominated him for the Take Prisoner scheme
The Rabbit started brightly, attacking a forward deployed December Acolyte and knocking it off its base.
The two Marcuses (Marcii?) were at the heart of the early-bound action, with mine starting the game by Alpha-ing the enemy Myranda, getting her to attack the Acolyte (unsuccessfully) and then turning herself into a second killer rabbit - rather less dangerous than the Cerberus!
This however allowed the enemy Marcus to take the initiative in the next turn and unleash a devastating 5-action attack on my Marcus (Charge x2, Normal Melee, Melee from the upgrade, and then a Pack leader melee from an upgrade on a nearby Cerberus) which saw my Marcus removed from play immediately
The enemy RSR was a bit of an overmatch for the 2 dogs, so the Myrandabus headed over there to sort it out in fairly short order, leaving one corner of the table safe for my dogs to hide out of LoS of the enemy Marcus for the rest of the game behind some rocks.
The enemy Marcus was systematically shredding my models, and it was all I could do to keep two models somehow in range of the 2 Strat markers to keep equal on VPs for as many turns as possible. The Rogue Necro was not entirely happy about having to skulk around and be a Strat runner rather than killing everything but some days you need to take one for the team
On the opposite corner, 2 dogs had attacked the Silurid, who in pooping out a scheme marker for the Moleman to dig his way to had inadvertently allowed one of the Hounds to charge him for 1AP. Needing the Moleman alive made concentrating on the Silurid an easy choice, and once it was dead the Moleman was essentially trapped, unable to go closer to the scoring zone in the corner without leaving the engagement range of the dogs. It sporadically tried to give an Exhaustion marker to the dogs, but with 4 dogs and several other beasties on table I still enjoyed enough activation control to make sure they had AP to shake it off...
You knew it was coming...
When the game ended I had scored maximum on both Schemes, and 2 for the strat (having run out of models due to the enemy Marcus!). My opponent got nil for Inspection, 1 for Exhaust and a full 4 for the Strat giving me an 8-5 win
The game really showed me just how devastating a full-loaded Marcus can be. I could also see that the use of the Packleader upgrade on another model just to give Marcus another attack probably justified the 1SS cost alone.
Game 3 Marcus vs Mei Feng (TT)
Game 3 saw me back on the same table as Game 1 but against a Mei Feng TT crew. With Extraction the strategy I wanted to take Cojo and a high model count, which then led logically into Public Demonstration from a Silurid & 2 dogs, with Hunting Party rounding out the set as it in theory was simple to remember to do - with plenty of terrain to leap onto I took a Blessed and Myranda as the beaters.
My opponent also took Public Demonstration and Hunting Party
Again with heavy terrain the game started slowly, but my boss-heavy crew marched unimpeded into the frozen forest to start pulling the marker towards our side of the table
Marcus for some reason wandered off to the right hand side to hunt enemy enforcers maybe, as he is no use in Hunting Party. This drew him the attention of the hard-to-kill Emberling and a rogue samurai of some sort, but for most of the game he was really a distraction, threatening to come round the back of the Mei Feng crew and cause trouble, but his main role was to draw enemy models away from the centre by dint of his threat potential.
Either that or I was over tired and didn't really have a proper plan of how to use him, but was vaguely reluctant to see him in the middle of the enemy crew and killed easily like in the last game.
The Siluirid and two dogs quickly notched up a full score on Public Demonstration very early in the game, which then left them as models to drag the Strat marker towards us and irritate but not kill the floaty Japanese ghosts in the enemy force.
Cojo and the Gamin giving him a defensive buff (and counting as an extra model) kept pushing the enemy away from the middle, but this did prove difficult to co-ordinate with the need to get their minions close enough to also kill. My opponent was rather surprised by the Rude Sign Language action of Cojo, and how he coudl push all models away with no card flips - for a model that is often regarded as a bit underpowered, this admittedly highly situational ability is pretty dammed good.
Cojo and the gang's ability to survive was finite however, but even with them gone there were still enough models on table to keep moving the centre marker, but never enough to push enough of the enemy away to deny them the VPs too. The hills also suited my leaping crew, as they could move up and down them really easily to keep out of harms way - and as the marker moved towards me, the two dogs were able to keep safe and deny the enemy Hunting Party VPs too
The game ended with a narrow victory for me, with my 3-point Public Demonstration and 1VP Hunting Party beating a 1VP hunting Party and 2 VP Public Demonstration
Game 4 Marcus vs Misaki (TT)
Game 4 was all about the birds. With Interference I again picked a large crew with 4 dogs and two Raptors. The Schemes were Occupy their Turf (which I hoped the fast dogs could do along with a Silurid whilst also counting for Interference) , and Catch and Release - again good for fast models and high activation counts
My opponent took Convict Labour and Show Of Force - which I would be able to do little about given the paucity of non-Imbued Energies upgrades on my Beaters and my generally peon-rich crew.
With 4 dogs and 2 raptors I was consistently out-activating Miysaki, allowing me to engage plenty of enemy models to deny them Interference and Convict Labour and also to hand out quite a few Catch and Release markers - the tone of the game was set when the Silurid leapt over this house to engage 2 models and hand out a marker in turn 2.
Miysaki and her TT crew slowly chipped away at the mass of beasts, but each turn they found scoring on either the Strat of the Convict Labour almost impossible, with the 2 raptors in particular being ridiculously effective at burying (also giving me activation control) and then unburying at the end of each turn somewhere within 2 inches of (usually) multiple Convict Labour markers and models, taking all of them out of the reckoning for the Scheme and Strat. Protecting the birds became the key objective for me, sometimes seeing 3 AP Peons activating first in each turn to fly away out of engagement, and leaving much better models sat like targets to be beaten up.
Aside from the birds, Marcus also managed a rather amusing Alpha on this young lady in the photo, getting her to spend her 3 AP again to pick up the two scheme markers than she had just dropped earlier in the turn !
Malifaux Rules hint - erm, looking back at this, it shouldn't really have been possible as you can't pick up friendly markers, and even though Marcus was controlling her, she does not change sides. Anyway, both me and my opponent missed it, it wouldn't have changed the result and it did also fit into the "bad things happen - and if they are funny, even better" ethos of Malifaux
A "focus on the scheme and strat" gameplan also saw the Cerberus used to occupy a table quarter at one stage, electing not to eat Shenlong who was caught in two minds most turns between scoring for Show of Force or stepping further back to count for Interference.
The game ended 8-4 to me, with a full house on the Strat and on Catch and Release, but only 1 scored on Occupy as the dog pack, having done their job on interference were unable to escape the engagement range of a phenomenal 4" engagement TT model to get into the enemy backfield in any numbers. My opponent scored in only 1 turn for Convict Labour (thanks to the Raptors), got a full 3 for Show of Force but nil for the Strategy having never managed to hold 2 uncontested quarters throughout the game.
Read on for the post match summaries from the Generals involved, as well as another episode of legendary expert analysis from Hannibal
Post Match Summary from Marcus
I am plased to report a 5th place finish for me and my beasts, following our beatings of what I can only describe as a rabble of political extremists of various hues.
This great result has been delivered through an unswerving allegiance to the Churchillian vision of focusing on a beast-rich crew, and setting a net of jungle living above which all were free to rise, but below which we condemmed our enemies to fall.
Disraeli gave the working man the vote, Rab Butler was responsible for universal education, Mrs Thatcher's government enfranchised the council tenant and I have now proved that loads of dogs and raptors are prettty tasty in some of the new Schemes in Gaining Grounds 2016.
We have now let the light in and we will see a Beast-esque countryside and jungle renaissance on a scale and quality not seen since Victorian times before the Breach!
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
What shame-faced wizardry is this? How can one as incompetent, unpracticed, unskilled, tired and as lacking in knowledge of your opponents armies as you were today end up doing so well?
All I can imagine is that you have come up with a trick, a wheeze, a positively cheaty little gimmick or two that has allowed your admittedly half-competent focus on achieving the schemes and strats to pay off against opponents who have not seen an army such as yours for quite some time because it has usually been pretty rubbish. Especially under your command.
Hopefully no-one from Wyrd Towers will read this shameful epistle, as then you will enjoy several more months of raptor-induced success before these fearesome 3-AP non-minions are cuddled to the point of non-existence - or the schemes will be tightened up to make them not quite so good.
At least you have proved to your own satisfaction that if yu are not competent enough to properly use big scary dangerous models effectively, that just having lots of rubbish ones and moving the last 3-4 in each turn without reply allows you to survive for longer than when you are trying to achieve something complicated. Please do not risk your health by trying to walk and chew gum anytime soon though, as I fear this is more luck than good judgement on your part
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