50 Soulstone Fixed Faction Action at Spring Showdown 2015
This was Spring Showdown, or, to be more accurate, a Malifaux competition for grown-ups with no training wheels allowed. Yes, the full 4-games-in-one-day experience, complete with no pre-published schemes and strategies. This meant picking your army in the brief moments before each game - something which in the previous event I had been able to enjoy the luxury of planning the week before.
There is lot's more of this stuff on my Malifaux pages
The event was also held at the glamorous location of Wayland Games, a big cold old shed on an industrial estate in Essex, with it's own liquour license and a surprisingly adequate array of mostly clean toilets.
The Road next to the Road to Spring Showdown
This was venturing into the unknown in a big way - Essex is a long way from West London, and this fact was rammed home most forcibly as when driving out East we passed a Little Chef - clearly so isolated was this region that no-one had told the locals that Little Chef's era ended in the mid 80's. As we sped past the red and white logo, looming large over the Essex countryside we entertained visions of renegade serving staff, still bringing forth plates of toast with real butter (80p for 2 slices, sachets of jam an extra 15p), a virtual tribe akin to those Japanese soldiers on remote Pacific Islands not realising the war (or in this case, the 1980's) was now long since a distant memory for the rest of the world, but for them in their tattered striped uniforms the refrain of "would you like another pot of tea?" still rings out clear and true...
This format allows you to use a different "Boss" in every game, wish - as long as all your Bosses are from the same Faction. All 4 of the Bosses I own are Arcanists, so as I suspected that I might be a bit outclassed in this event, I had kinda planned to try and get as many of them out on table as possible, as I have really only played with one of them enough times to work out how to use it (or, her to be more accurate). This of course also gave me a pre-arranged excuse for being rubbish, which was another excellent reason to possibly adopt this strategy.
Game 1 vs Lilith and the Neverborn
The first game was against a Master that I'd never played against before, and a faction that I'd also never seen - the Neverborn and Lilith. According to the clever wiki thing at Pull My Finger Lilith is a high-speed, melee-focused Master Mother of Monsters, and one of the fastest, most evasive and powerful opponents anyone would ever dread to face. That all sounds pretty easy then...
Being rather panicked by the whole "work out what schemes you are playing and then pick an army in 10 minutes" shenanigans, I just picked the Master I'd played most with before, Mei Feng, and picked Breakthrough and Plant Evidence from the pool along with Reckoning.
Plant Evidence - 1 VP for each scheme marker in contact with terrain in enemy half, +1 if revealed at the start of the game, max 3 VPs
Breakthrough - 1 VP per marker in enemy deployment zone, + 1 if revealed at the start of the game, max 3 VPs
Reckoning - 1VP for 2+ enemy models killed/sacrificed per turn. Points is all are killed too, max 4 VP's
This on paper seemed the simplest option - Mei and her team are good at killing stuff so that might be OK for Reckoning, and Breakthrough and Plant Evidence both need scheme-runner models just to sneak through the enemy lines and dabble around in the back part of the table so are similar, and easy to remember as well. I picked the following list for Mei
My 50SS Game 1 List
The table was fairly nude, with just some scattered trees and fences, and a range of buildings which, if they had had heads, would have been furiously scratching them wondering if they were supposed to be from a Wild West idiom or just a generic Farmyard scene.
Disturbingly, a number of isolated stand-alone thunderbox toilets were also placed randomly around, clearly no-where near any obvious sources of underground sanitary pipework.
As far as I am aware, there are no models in the current version of the game with abilities which can take advantage of the proximity of unsatisfactory outdoor plumbing. However, Wave 3.0 is in Beta right now, so who knows....?
Mei's crew held their noses and got ready to barrel forwards, protected by the steam-venting abilities of Mei and Howard, and being ready to be restored by Dutch Johan's special healing hands (or Hans maybe). The enemy had two majorly huge bad-ass models, a Waldgeist to bung up the middle and some Silurids which I had heard were rather quick and good at scheme running on most every podcast I had ever listened to - so I decided to ignore them for the time being and think about running Howard over to kill them later in the game.
Proxy Joss, Proxy Johan and an actual real Malifaux Metal Gamin's camping trip through the rural mid-western countryside was going well, but in the distance something that seemed a little altogether too pink and nappy-wearing to technically be a Mature Nephilim was lurking in the bushes...
The brave Arcanists attempts to form a flying wedge of destruction were being hampered by Lilith and the Waldgeist, who were dropping rather unexciting looking 50mm markers on table in front of every avenue of advance for the overly unionized mechanicals. Despite the very definite absence of actual foliage, Mei's crew decided to play fair and agree to pretend that each round disc on the floor was in fact a fast-growing magical forest.
With the Waldgeist protecting itself and engaging pretty much everything on the table with its massive 4" engagement range, Howard was struggling to disengage and get hold of something actually dangerous - after wasting far too many card flips to escape the Waldgeist's clutches, he raced towards Lilith... only coming up short when he was reminded that he had been hit with Slow earlier on that turn...
The Silurids and something that looked like a refugee from an episode of "Bear Grylls Extreme STD Clinic" were by now bounding down the edge of the table, their 7" (O) activation leap + 2 moves was taking them forwards at such a rate of knots that it would soon be time for my Soulstone Miner to appear behind them and start pooping it's own markers in their deplyment zone.
The other Scheme Runner on my team - the Incorporeal Emberling had already been killed, squished by the magical re-animating flying Big Pink Baby with Wings and a Bad Attitude that was the Mature Neph. As the Emberling had been a bit of a banker in the points department in my previous games, this was a setback indeed and so Mei wandered across to the back edge of the table to think about denying the Silurid Leaping Army a chance to score freely.
No-one was quite sure whether the Silurids were real, or were just a strange accident resulting from too much cheap scotch and the Dr Who wardrobe department's 1976 Christmas party - but either way, none of them wanted to get too close to the blue thing....
Howard raced onwards, or tried to through the miasma of slowing pain that the Ne'erborn poured onto him. Seeing that he was in trouble, a friendly Gamin came up to offer some Metal Protection...
Bad Ju-Ju was lined up behind the Mature Nephilim, but was saving his strength for the painting competition after the first game (which we missed due to eating a dreadful lunch) - time welll spent as I believe he was part of the winning crew
Howard and Lilith had been doing bad things to each other for some time, and now it was all about the first activation in the next turn - which card would come up highest?
Acoustic Death Metal Cover Versions
Lilith's 13 nailed it... and Howard was removed swiftly from play. The Neverborn breathed a sight of relief, and the Gamin pooped its pants as it realised that it was the clear target for Reckoning this turn.
Reckoning - kill 2 enemy models in a turn to score a point.
But with 2 enormous models, the Neverborn were happy to try things the old fashioned hard way and waded into Joss. None of his special abilities seemed to make any difference as the big pink winged wall of well-moisturised baby-flesh bore down on him...
Joss however is an effective killing machine himself - the Nephilim fell victim to a well swung Arc Axe attack, allowing Mei to then also remove the increasingly disturbing blue wobbling thing from the table as well in the same turn - ratcheting up a Reckoning point of her own. Joss, exhausted by his exhertions and now no longer supported himself fell under a reign of blows from Lilith. Reckoning points swapped hands under the table for small amounts of cash
The table was now almost entirely bereft of Arcanist models, with only Mei, Johan and the Soulstone Miner left - the Neverborn were free to roam around and drop markers as they pleased, and the only hope was for Johan to pin down the last Silurid and prevent him from leaping away and dropping yet more markers in the bottom right hand corner
Just buy some Siluruids now on UK eBay - the best scheme runner in the box. MOve of 5, and a 0 AP "leap" of 7" that ignores terrain and only needs a 5 of any suit to cast. That's a crazy-effective 17 inch move every turn, making them a must-have for Neverborn and also Marcus crews (as they are beasts)
He failed - the always-leaping Silurid lept again, and was free. The Result is a 5-8 loss for Mei and her team (2+1 for Plant Evidence, 1 for Reckoning, 1 for Breakthrough vs 6 for Breakthrough & Plant Evidence + 2 for Reckoning)
Post Match Summaries from Mei Feng and Steampunk Hannibal
After this defeat it is time to arouse the political consciousness of the entire people so that they may willingly and gladly be seriously injured, bodged back together with old railway parts and then fight together with me for victory.
But we also need to invest in a set of hedge trimmers, because that Waldgeist blocked up the whole table for us good and proper, and this has inflicted on Howard and all of the rest of my people a conviction that The Neverborn might even have better killy things than we do. So, better luck really...
Dearest Mei, there is an ancient Arcanist fable called "The Foolish Old Card-flipper who Failed to Plan." It tells of an old man who lived up a mountain on the northern side of the Breach long, long ago and was known as the Foolish Old Card-flipper of the North Mountain. His house faced south and beyond his doorway stood the two great peaks, Taihang-shitsu and Wangwu-weewah, obstructing the way. With great determination he led his sons to a factory where they had an industrial accident, and then to me, and then with their mechanical arms they started digging up these mountains up. Another greybeard, known as the Wise Old Card Flipper saw them and said derisively, "How silly of you to do this! It is quite impossible for you to dig up these two huge mountains, even with your rather stylish steampunk accoutrements."
The Foolish Old Card-flipper replied, "When I die my sons will carry on; when they die, there will be my grandsons and then their sons and grandsons, and so on to infinity, however other figure-based Sci Fi Games are also available.
High as they are, the mountains cannot grow any higher and with every bit we dig, they will be that much lower. Once we clear them anyway we can go out and hit people with my sons mechanical arms, and then we will have a massive drugs and protection money racket and be rich?" Having refuted the Wise Old Card Flipper's wrong view, he went on digging every day, unshaken in his conviction. God was moved by this, and he sent down two angels, who carried the mountains away on their backs.
Today, two big mountains lie like a dead weight on our people. One is a lack of ability to second guess what our opponents will do when we haven't every played them before, and the other is our own lack of ability to remember what the schemes are we are trying to do. And there is a third, which is failing to realise that the Waldgeist needed to be attacked by two models from two different sides to avoid getting gunked up in it's tree-rooty stuff and killed, as otherwise it woudl be a huge block in the table forecer - and a fourth in that there were some cheap reckoning points to be had in killing the Silurids and that blue thing that I really don't want to think about again, which would have been a better job for our fast-moving killy models to do rather than being stuffed together near each other trying to yomp through a magic forest.
Basically, the Neverborn had long made up their mind to dig up these mountains, and they kept focused on digging all of the game. We must learn from them, persevere and work unceasingly, and we too, will eventually not be as useless and hamstrung by poor planning and self inflicted wounds as we were here today.
Game 2 vs Jacob Lynch and the Ten Thunders
Having comfortably lost the first game, the second game appeared very quickly afterwards. The only brief break allows the clever players to eat their own packed lunches, and the less well informed and experienced ones to benefit from the sort of high quality catering one can reasonably expect from an industrial lockup on the edge of the Essex marshes.
Having consumed the above, I felt very much more in tune with the "fluff" of Malifaux, being stuffed full of weird chemicals, unsure if the experince I had just had was of this world or the next, and in a state half-way between life and death. But, at least it meant the next game was nigh...
The scheme pool here was Turf War, Assasinate, Protect Territory, Frame for Murder and Power Ritual - and with my aim of playing all three masters still top of my mins, Ramos and his world of Spiders popped up at the top of the pile. My choice was Power Ritual, and Protect Territory (+Turf War) and my aim was to spawn a load of spiders and outnumber the enemy in the middle of the table and at the corners. Both of my schemes were revealed.
Turf War - 2 or more non-Peons within 6" of centre spot, each turn after 1st
Protect Territory - 1VP per scheme marker 6" from own deployment with non-outnumbered friendly model in 2". +1 if revealed and 2 scored
Power Ritual - 1VP per marker in a corner, only 1 of your deployment corners counts, +1 if revealed
Having not really used Ramos that much (erm, twice) I picked a bit of a dogs breakfast of a list:
My 50SS Game 2 List
I also quickly realised that didn't really have a well-rehearsed plan about how to get the Spider Factory going, and that trying to work it out myself was a lot harder than just copying one of the two main sequences down off of the forum and going though it by rote.
And, meanwhile, in the real world...
Anyway, as I stumbled through the sequence of making Spiders in the corner of the board where I had started, the Soulstone Miner emerged in one of the other corners, and immediately found itself in a brand new situation - it had opposition! The grey, wraith-like ethereal form of some sort of dead lady and a baby Hungering Darkness were mumbling their apologies for being unpainted and advancing methodically against the rather outnumbered mechanical burrower.
As the game developed slowly (me not knowing what to do anyway, and my opponent being unsure of his brand new crew too) the centre of the board developed into a counting match, with teeny-tiny spiders hiding in the cracks whilst the big grey enemy ninja samurai dead people (erm... isn't that a big greedy on the paradigm front for one crew ..?) jumped around attempting to crush as many of the mechanicals underfoot as they could. Johan was enjoying himself immensely, sat out of sight at the bottom of the rock pile, but restoring spider's health every time he activated with his Bleeding Edge Tech upgrade whilst Ramos continued to cast furiously whenever he had enough cards in hand
With mini-spiders doing all of the scoring in the middle quite well on their own, Howard decided to take the "concentrate on what you need to do to achieve scheme points" rather more seriously than his usual "I'll just go over there and decapitate someone and let the others score the points" approach, and hared off down the edge of the board to drop some scheme markers in the corners of the table. Woe betide any second-tier model that tried to stop him...
And, meanwhile, in the real world...
The ideologically charged tide of spiderism was ebbing and flowing as the Ninja-corpse-horror-samurai-possessed infantry of counter-revolution moved forwards and took advantage of the lack of decent hitters in the Arcanist crew. But every dead spider was a potential source of 3 new ones for Ramos to cast up to - they were coming back faster than they were going!
Howard had bounced off his first corner, and started down the back straight towards the Ten Thunders original corner - it was a long way, but he was a nimble model so the race against the game-end was on!
The middle continued much as before, with some of the tiny spiders taking advantage of the terrain to occupy underground crevices that were within range of the centre marker, but unassailable to the overheight reanimated-japano-midwestern-gothic enemy forces. But, with time running out before turn 5, the end result was a draw...
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition, or 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 Ramos
There is power in a spider factory, but you need tomes in your hand, Power lies in the mechanical hands of the railworker. But it all amounts to nothing if the schemes you cannot understand, and that's what's needed generate more power in my Steamfitters Union
Now the lessons of the past were not learned nor understood, and the mistakes of me, as the boss, my spiders must pay for. From the cities and the badlands to the card-hands full of cruddy cards, casting has always been the ninja-cyber-samurai-undead's way, sir. The Union forever is defending spider rights, and I say down with the undead, all mechanicals unite! With our brothers and our sisters with steam-power and soulstones in their hands, that's how we create the power in our Union
Now, I long for that morning when the Guild will realise that brutality and unjust laws can not defeat us. Until then it's down to me to defend the workers who cannot organise, and massacre the bosses and their lackies who set out to cheat us!
Money speaks for Soulstones, the Guild speak for their own, but who comes to speak for the skin and the bone and the mechanical appendages? What a comfort to the widow is a scream in the night? There is only power in My Union!
The Union forever defending spiders rights, Down with the Ninjas, all mechanicals unite, with our brothers and out sisters from many out-breach lands, you should know that there are many many spiders in a Union.
Well, my old communist comrade in arms (possibly all 8 of them), this was a game in which you failed to do the proper preparation, and you failed to take note of the time as well. Knowing you would use Ramos, and that the beginning of the game would be key in seeing how many spiders you took, how come you failed to plan this? Idiocy in the extreme! At least you managed to conjure enough spiders to hang on in the main Strategy, but you failed to generate enough extras to claim the corners, which should have been easy enough to do.
Once the clock approached the midnight of the game, and all the agents and the superhuman crew of Mr Lynch had come out and rounded up everyone that had more legs than they did, that was the time for you to bring forth not just the spider factory, but to get a grip on the game with the 8-legged heart-attack machine that is Howard Langston.
Thrown into the centre of the board and with his claws strapped across their shoulders, you could have poured kerosene on the hopes of the Undead coming down from their castles as they would have been sans-heads. ONce their numbers were thinned they would have needed life insurance men to come and check to see if anybody had escaped from the desolation that Howard had wreaked, and then the game might have been yours.
Click here for the report of the next games in this competition
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