Monday, February 24, 2014

Terror Tot Tournament Report

On Sunday (Feb 23rd), my FLGS, Hobby Quest Games, held a 40SS Malifaux tournament. There were no painting requirements and the strategies and schemes were preset per board. All very n00b friendly. I took my Vickys down to the shop to get a few games under my belt. I'd only played three games prior to this, all with the Vicks so I viewed this as a way to get a better handle on Malifaux and to play against some crews that I hadn't seen before (previous experience was two games against Lady Justice and one against Seamus).

Game One:

The first game I was matched against Marcus. I love the look of his crew and might pick it up in the near future. I went with a pretty vanilla Vickys crew dropping Taelor for Vanessa and adding the Convict Gunslinger. Taelor is awesome and hits hard but I liked Vanessa for the survivability and wanted to see what would happen. I gave Victoria of Ashes the upgrade that allows her to cast a spell to give all the sisters a plus damage flip. Victoria of Blood had the Howling Wolf Tattoo (all mercs can flurry/rapid fire without discarding first).

The strategy was turf war and I remember taking protect territory as one of my schemes but forgot the other. I think my opponent took Line In the Sand and something else but it was early in the morning and I was mostly trying to figure out how to kill his giant gorilla.

Marcus was considerably more tricksy than the crews I had face previously (but not nearly as tricksy as the crews I'd face in the next two battles). Because of turf war, we both moved toward the center. The gate at the center provided some cover for one of his razorspine rattlers which proved to be a bit of a sticking point. Most of the action went down around the house "below" the gate (the one where you can see the door in the picture).

I messed up Marcus a bit by shooting at him and was able to get a couple of lucky blasts off using Vanessa's arcane staff. She did some damage to Cojo and one of the Rattlers early on but then got stuck in front of Marcus. He turned her into a beast and domesticated her. Things were not looking good as I couldn't really attack him since he could assign damage to Vanessa. Fortunately, the range on that is pretty short and I was able to pull Vanessa out of LoS using the Student of Conflict with the ability "Sisters in Spirit." However, I had to commit Victoria of Ashes(VoA) to tie up Marcus, not realizing what he would do.

He lowered her Willpower and then dominated her using his Alpha ability, sending her after Victoria of Blood (VoB). Fortunately for me, I had five cards in my hand, which meant I got a positive flip on all Df and Wp duels for VoB. I got pretty lucky and pulled a lot of high cards thanks to the extra flip. She survived the fight against her sister but both were pretty damaged. With everything locked down by the Ronin, I was able to pull VoA out of the LoS again using the Student. After that, my next activation was to heal with Vanessa and I was fortunate enough to get a moderate heal of 3 points putting the Vicks back in high spirits.

The sisters had had enough of Marcus and so VoB went after Cojo and the rattler who were trying to settle down in the center by the gate, in order to win the Turf War VPs. Cojo had been roughed up already by the Gunslinger but had a few hit points thanks to Myranda's healing ability. Thanks to VoA's LoS Melee Expert, however, VoB made short work of both the snake and the gorilla, leaving her, a ronin, and the gunslinger facing down the Jackalope (it was cowering behind the gate...).

At that point we called it. My opponent had sacced Myranda to summon the Cerberus tiger thingy but all that was left besides that was Marcus and the Jackalope. He had killed a Ronin through poison damage but failed (fortunately for me) to rip the heart out of my force with his Alpha maneuver. I ended up winning with 2 points from Turf War, 2 points from Protect Territory, and 2 points from my mystery scheme. He managed 1 point from Turf War so a resounding victory for me.

Game Two:

In game two, I made two alterations to my crew. I pulled the spell that adds damage flips from VoA and gave her the Howling Wolf Tattoo. I like to keep her within LoS of as much of my force as possible anyway, so it made more sense to give it to her than VoB. With the two free points, I dropped a Ronin and added Hans for a bit more ranged ability. I kept this list for Game Three as well as I liked the shooty support.

Overall, Hans and the Convict Gunslinger performed below expectations. My draws for them were pretty consistently poor. Hans was able to pick off a couple of wounded models with Hard to Kill that were sticking up some melee battles, but didn't really do much damage beyond that. The Gunslinger roughed up Cojo but in all the shooting he did, I only triggered Rapid Fire twice in three games. So all in all, a poor drawing day for shooty times. They did, however, provide much needed tactical support and gave me a psychological edge. The fact that Hans could select targets in a combat spooked both my Game Two and Three opponents and I think they played more conservatively because of the range of the sniper rifle. In game three, I noticed a distinct lack of interest in going near the Gunslinger which prevented my opponent from dropping his fourth counter for Line in the Sand (not that it would have mattered, but we'll get to that later). So despite their lack of damage output, they did a great job tactically.

Game two was played on a very crowded map that featured a host of ruins and a cool train set:

One could see through the building so shooting along that line was possible. The strategy was Reconnoiter and my two schemes were Breakthrough and Plant Evidence. The deployment was the twelve inch corner bubble and I was in the bottom right hand corner looking at the skull on the Engine. I set myself up with most of my heavies going left to try to occupy the center and make things difficult for my opponent to get points from Recon. Meanwhile, I sent VoB and two Ronin out on the right flank to run up the table. The first thing I did, however, was to give Hans fast (Student of Conflict is handy) and push him over the tracks so he could sight all the way down the rail platform. This effectively cut the board on the diagonal.

My opponent was playing a mixed McMourning list with a Hanged and a Belle. They ended up in Han's line of sight and eventually he was able to pick off the Belle. VoB got tied up with both Hanged and the Belle which prevented the Belle from fouling up my scheme runners. She died a noble death after getting hosed by the Hanged. She managed to hold them off long enough for my Ronin to lay all the scheme markers necessary for me to win the game. Meanwhile, the Gunslinger and Hans dominated the center of the table, preventing the Crooked Man from laying enough scheme markers by himself to complete Line in the Sand. This forced the Hanged to have to put down a marker after he blew up VoB which sprung my Ronin to lay the last marker to get me full points for both schemes.

In the meantime, all the action was happening by the ruins near the stairs. My opponent had moved McMourning down into range of my heavies in an attempt to assassinate Vanessa. There was an epic clash between VoA and McMourning and I was lucky enough to pull a Red Joker on a neg three damage flip (pull four, take the lowest). He certainly felt the nine damage. Unfortunately, VoA was damaged and poisoned and McMourning had healed up a bit of the damage he had taken (also there was some soulstone spending for mitigation). Sebastian moved up to add poison damage to VoA and she would die as soon as she activated.

Fortunately, the Student of Conflict came to the rescue again, pulling VoA out of range of Sebastian's nasty poison boost. After a quick heal from Vanessa, I activated VoA and she charged McMourning again (after taking a poison damage). She sliced into him, not triggering whirlwind as I had hoped (I was really gunning for Sebastian at this point because of the nasty poison boost). On another three negative damage flip I pulled a weak damage which was completely mitigated by a soulstone spend and a 13 flip. My second desperate attack landed true with yet another three negative flip. The four cards revealed another red joker and that was the end of McMourning. His soulstones spent, his blood stained the hard ground of the ruined town. VoA turned to Sebastian and jammed her blade through his skull.

All in all, a good game. My opponent mustered 5 VPs. 2 from Reconnoiter, and 3 from Line in the Sand. I won the day with all 3 from Reconnoiter, 2 from Breakthrough, and 2 from Plant Evidence. I thought using the Gunslinger and Hans to hold the middle with range while VoB protected my scheme runners worked fantastically. I would have felt better about it had VoB done some damage before she died but I flipped a bunch of 2s and 3s for her attacks. Still, she served her purpose of screening the Ronin.

My opponent was pretty peeved (rightly so, I think) that I pulled two Red Jokers for damage. All in all, however, the combat where that happened was meaningless to the outcome of the game. Vanessa was never in danger of dying since VoA was slashing face on both of his big bads and with the movement tricks of the Student, I could keep both healed fairly easily. As nasty as McMourning is, I could have pulled Vanessa back and hit him with the Convict Gunslinger. I never felt the need to do this but given all the auras he's got, that's probably how I'll treat him in the future.

A point that was discussed after the tournament was that the first joker came at the tail end of the second turn. The second joker came up right at the beginning of the first turn. The thing is that with all the attack flips and the first low damage flip, I had churned through between 10 and 20 cards in my deck (with drawing for initiative at the start of the turn and pulling my hand and such). The massive damage reduction abilities can be a bit of a double edged sword, especially against someone like Rasputina with that nasty upgrade to treat the black joker as red.

Game Three:

This game was the championship match. I was surprised to find myself here considering my inexperience with Malifaux but tactics are tactics and I felt like I had done a solid job of playing to the schemes rather than just trying to slaughter everything on the board (always a temptation). Playing for VPs is always a good plan in tournaments and was some welcome advice from the store owner when he taught me the game.

Game three took place on a swamp board. The strategy was Squatter's Rights but the available schemes were not very palatable to my movement impaired crew. I ended up taking Line in the Sand and Make Them Suffer, figuring I could count on the Vickys to provide enough mayhem to account for at least a couple of VPs. Unfortunately, there was a bit of a miscommunication when I revealed Line in the Sand. I made an offhand comment about how it wasn't worth hiding the scheme because a) it's obvious what you're doing as soon as you put down a scheme marker, b) we were playing Squatter's Rights so there was going to be a lot of action on the midline, c) Even if you only got two counters down, you still got a single VP. My opponent interpreted this to mean that you only needed two counters down to get all three points which ended up costing him, sort of.

He was playing Yan Lo and had a variety of flying or incorporeal creatures who could ignore the movement penalties from the swamp. He took Line in the Sand and Power Ritual as his schemes. Which, as you can see from the board, were a lot easier for him than me:

We had the 12 inch bubble deployment again and I started in the bottom left corner of the picture. This meant I could place the gunslinger, the student, and a ronin out on the bit dock/platform thing on the center left of the board. This would be important later. Hans hung out by that big rock near the two bridges, somewhat behind the Vickys and Vanessa. 

VoA and Vanessa went up the right hand bridge toward the obelisk and the pile of rocks. VoB went with some Ronin to hold down the center of the board. Yan Lo floated around in back while the rest of his crew moved up to the island on the right with the rocks and the obelisk. Yan Lo's niece ran into the far right corner to plant a scheme token there for power ritual but then inexplicably floated back toward the center of the board.

I was able to push into the very center of the board and get my two squatter's rights tokens flipped. He had gotten there a turn earlier thanks to some movement tricks. I tried blasting the flying snake lady but the negative flips to hit and damage made the effort fruitless and I quickly gave up. VoA engaged Yan Lo's heavy (toshito?) and a couple of Ashigaru near the back pile of rocks. I got another Red Joker Damage flip which spelled the end of the big bad, or so I thought. Yan Lo raced over and rezzed him and then healed him, a rather frustrating turn of events. This did clear out enough of the corner, however, for one of my Ronin to run over and remove one of his scheme tokens for Line in the Sand. At this point, my opponent argued that rezzing his guy negated the kill for Make Them Suffer but that was quickly shot down by the organizer.

I was pretty pleased with VoA since she turned the whole corner into a snarl and slowed his crew's advance to a crawl. With Vanessa backing her up, I was pretty confident that she would survive what he could throw at her and she did. My other Ronin, VoB, and the Gunslinger, meanwhile, ran schemes, getting all four tokens on the centerline and flipping two of the Squatter's tokens. 

Yan Lo and the snake lady ended up in the swamp on the far side of the center stones. I took the opportunity provided by VoA to push the Gunslinger further out into the center where he was able to do a bit of damage to the Snake lady. Then I charged Yan Lo with VoB to cut down on his mobility. This worked wonderfully as VoB got stuck in with both the Snake Lady and Yan Lo, preventing her from running schemes toward the Gunslinger and the Ronin and stopping Yan Lo from running around doing whatever it is that he does.

The next turn, he pulled Yan Lo out of the combat with his movement guy. I was able to kill the Snake lady with VoB and then move over and take a shot at Yan Lo because VoA grants Melee Expert within LoS. This meant that Yan Lo had to heal himself before rezzing Snake Lady. Snake Lady then had to come deal with VoB instead of doing whatever else she was going to do after rezzing. 

At this point, time ran out on the game. I won by the skin of my teeth. He had 3 VP from Squatter's Rights, 2 VP from Power Ritual, and 1 VP from Line in the Sand. There was a bit of an argument about the VPs from the last scheme because he only had two tokens down, but in the end we cleared everything up. I had 3 VPs from Line, 2 from Squatter's and 2 from Make Them Suffer giving me 7 to his 6. 

Overall a very fun three games. I had a lot of fun at the tournament. Getting a chance to play more Malifaux was great. All three games had some pretty intense moments. I look forward to getting play more in the future, hopefully with painted models. :)

Big shoutout to Jules the tournament organizer and to Matt at Hobby Quest games. The whole event was great. The flips went my way and I was able to exert enough control over the board to get the VPs I needed to win. 

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