The twin moons of Malifaux hung like mismatched eyes in the dusky sky, their dim glow barely illuminating the barren fields. Shadows seemed twisted and distorted in the moonlight, trees becoming crooked-limbed figures and leering faces. The gaslights provided little assistance, their illumination seeming to be swallowed up by the darkness around them. Yet despite the gloom, the pumpkins scattered around were clearly visible, seeming to glow with an inner light all of their own.
Francisco’s foot crunched on the ground as he stepped forward. Looking down, he saw that the grass was coated in a thin layer of frost, and his breath was visibly pluming as the air chilled. ‘Dita’ he whispered to his sister, but she had already seen. A peacebringer was already in her hand, finger hovering over the trigger. She gestured to her posse and they spread out, pistols drawn and weapons ready.
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Since it’s almost Halloween, it seemed only fitting to play the story scenario The Carver Walks Among Us. Kathryn flipped to be the attacked so I took the role of the defender, flipping a ram (meaning that I had to keep Carver alive by the end of the game). To make things more extraordinary, we’d also agreed to use the Shifting Loyalties avatar rules. Our forces were:
Rasputina – Arcane Reservoir, Cold Nights, Avatar of Famine
The Captain – Patron’s Blessing
Ice Golem – Imbued Protection
Perdita – Tormenta de Plomo, Avatar of Revelation
Francisco – Wade In
Santiago – Hair Trigger
The Lone Marshal
The Judge – Unrelenting Leader
I chose to reveal both my schemes – Protect Territory and Gathering Power – while Kathryn kept both of hers (Frame for Murder on the Lone Marshal, and Make Them Suffer) secret. My ‘sacrifice’ for Carver was the Ice Golem, since I didn’t want Carver to be on the table before absolutely necessary to try and limit the amount of firepower Kathryn could put his way. Finally, both of us chose the Bloody Manifestation option for our master.
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Turn one saw Francisco supporting the Judge with El Mayor, before walking down the right side of the graveyard. Perdita and the Judge followed suit, while the Ice Golem split off from the main bulk of the Arcanist forces to intercept them. Seeing the hulking titan Perdita’s peacebringer barked, but the intervening graveyard wall stopped the shot before it could hit the frozen monster. Francisco’s eyes widened – he’d seen reality warp before to accommodate the path of Perdita’s bullet, so what strange magic was at play here?
Seeing the Wendigo moving up on the other flank, the Lone Marshal spurred his horse into action, using his Trick Shooting action to move up and take a shot. The bullet hit the little creature square in the chest, wounding but not killing it. As the Marshal reigned his horse away, Rasputina channeled her December’s Curse through the totem, the icy blast missing the Marshal by mere inches.
Crouched in the shadows of the graveyard wall, the December Acolyte saw Santiago moving forward. She levelled her harpoon gun, hitting the Ortega. Fate intervened as the Red Joker appeared for the damage flip, the harpoon spearing Santiago and leaving him on one wound. Capitalizing on her fortune, the Acolyte fired again, and Santiago collapsed onto the icy ground, his blood freezing around him.
Turn two saw the Acolyte quickly reload her speargun before targeting the Lone Marshal. The first shot went wide, but her second bolt hit the Marshal’s horse in the leg, slowing the creature (and managing to do severe damage despite being on a negative twist – I think the Acolyte was on a hot streak this game!). In response, the Lone Marshal leveled his carbine at the Wendigo, hoping to finish off the creature before it could activate. His shot hit true with the Red Joker, but calamity struck as Kathryn flipped the Black Joker for the damage flip.
Rasputina’s Gamin moved up the field to lay a scheme marker, before summoning the frigid energies of December around him with Bite of Winter to try and boost Rasputina’s power. Before she could take advantage, however, the Guild Executioner moved with surprising speed, following the Trail of Gore left by the just-placed scheme marker and decapitating the little creature. In response, Rasputina unleashed her power against the Executioner, hitting the Overpower trigger and killing him. With a resounding crack, the ice around her splintered, shards hovering in a halo for a moment before encasing her. Billowing winds sprung up out of nowhere, whisking the snow into a frenzy, and from the storm rose the Avatar of Famine.
On the other flank, the Judge moved up, pulling his allies along with Stand For Judgement. Francisco bestowed El Mayor to Perdita before taking a shot at the Ice Golem, hitting the titanic creature. Following his lead, Perdita opened fire as well, two shots finding their mark and wounding the ice elemental.
The Captain tried to assist, using his Airburst to push the Golem into Perdita. Looking to enact vengeance for the damage it had suffered, the titanic creature brought both fists down to Smash the Guild leader, the blow connecting and dealing an impressive 9 damage! In desperation Perdita crushed a soulstone in her hand, managing to flip a face card and prevent three of the damage.
The Guild took the initiative going into turn 3, Francisco flourishing his duelling sword at the Golem. The keen blade cut through the ice, but the titanic creature managed to stay standing with a couple of wounds left. Attempting to finish the golem off, Perdita’s peacebringer barked, but the dark magics surrounding them on Carver’s Night twisted her usual accuracy, and the bullets struck Francisco instead. Her final shot struck the golem, but fate had other ideas as the Black Joker reared its ugly head on the damage flip, and Rasputina’s titan still stood.
Meanwhile, the December Acolyte continued to chip away at the Lone Marshal, another harpoon striking the horse and preventing the officer from using his Trick Shooting. Rasputina, her powers amplified now by the unleashed might of December, conjured the moisture from the very air to form an additional shield of armour around the golem, before directing a December’s Curse at the Lone Marshal. The icy bolt hit the Guild officer, but failed to put him down for good. Returning fire, the Lone Marshal’s carbine barked, the bullet striking the avatar.
In an attempt to help Perdita, the Judge cast Stand for Judgement, pulling the Ice Golem away from Francisco before opening fire with the pistol built-in to his Long Arm Blade. The bullets hit the towering creature, but Rasputina’s conjured armour withstood the brunt of the attack. With a low rumble, the Golem turned around to charge back into Francisco, but the elder Ortega was able to avoid its clumsy blows.
And so turn 4 began. Francisco attempted to heal himself, but once again the Black Joker decided to intervene. Taking the offensive, Francisco attacked the Ice Golem, finally killing it. As the icy creature crumbled to shards, a spectral bell tolled far in the distance, and a pair of rusty shears burst from the ground. Hauling a straw-filled bulk out of the depths, its pumpkin head blazing with infernal energy, the Carver had finally arrived.
Its murderous gaze set on Perdita, the Carver strode towards her, its rusty shears slicing at the Guild leader. Perdita easily dodged the first blow, but the second one connected… only for my Black Joker to appear on the damage flip, dealing no damage and moving Carver to the Guild’s side!
Taking advantage of this unexpected turn, the Judge attacked the Carver, hoping to deny the Arcanists their strategy by killing the creature while it was unable to resist. His attacks cut deep, and using her Companion ability Perdita followed, her peacekeeper gunning down Carver and killing it in a hailstorm of lead.
With that, the battle was all but over. The Arcanists continued moving upfield, laying down scheme markers for Protect Territory and Gathering Power, while Perdita desperately attempted to put down two of the Arcanists. Despite flipping the Red Joker when damaging the Captain, she was unable to kill him, the dashing figure pushing away to the safety of cover. And so the game ended, with a 6-1 victory for the Arcanists.
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