Following on from yesterday’s post about the Amphibious Assault story encounter’s single-player game, here’s my second attempt with a rather different approach to my crew…
* * *
Myranda crouched silently in the branches of a hickory tree, gripping its knotted branches. Like everything in Malifaux, there was something indefinably different about the tree when compared to its earthside counterpart, but Myranda had been living in the wilds of Malifaux for so long now that she barely noticed any more. Instead, her attention was focused on the mist-shrouded swamp below her.
The swamp was unusually still, twisted trees and bracken emerging from its murky depths like the hands of drowning men grasping for salvation. Usually, the swamp would have various forms of wildlife even this early in the evening, but not today. Myranda’s attuned senses could feel their absence, and the malignant presence that was the cause.
As she watched, a small green amphibian toddled out of the mists. Bulbous yellow eyes peered around as the creature took in its new surroundings. A sibilant hiss echoed from the mists, a malignant sound that managed to set every nerve on end. Upon hearing the sound, the Gupp turned and quickly bounded back into the mists with a speed quite at odds with its stubby little legs.
Usually, she’d leave it be. While many associated the Silurids with the Neverborn, she understood them better. They were just a force of nature, a part of Malifaux that wanted to be left alone and uninvolved with the relentless industry of man. However, that morning she’d received a message. It told of the Spawn Mother’s new breeding ground in the marshes, and the proximity to an Arcanist safe house. ‘Put a stop to this before it becomes a problem’, read the note, signed ‘V.R.’. Viktor Ramos. With a barely perceptible sigh, Myranda dropped from the tree, swinging through the branches to the ground.
A group of creatures stood waiting for her, their predatory instincts overruled by her presence. A pride of Hoarcats milled around the legs of a larger feline, orange and black striped with three fanged heads. One of the heads watched the smaller creatures as they moved, but the remaining two heads were fixated on the mists of the swamp. The Sabretooth’s lips were drawn back in anticipation, revealing all twelve of its huge knife-sized fangs. The final creature was a relative newcomer to Marcus’s menagerie. Fully eight feet tall, the pasha hare was an odd creature. Its mangy fur was an off-white, and when it smiled its mouth seemed to be too wide, revealing too many teeth for such a creature. It wore a threadbare jacket with tarnished brass buttons, offset by a top hat with a ribbon tied around it. It, too, was staring into the fog, as if it could see through the mists and into the heart of the swamp.
Myranda didn’t need to say anything to the creatures. She turned towards the swamp, and the creatures followed her. Together, the group disappeared into the mists.
* * *
This time, my crew consisted of Myranda (with Arcane Reservoir rather than Imbued Energies, for a change!), Luther the Pascha Hare (Blessed of December), a Sabretooth Cerberus and a Hoarcat Pride. The plan was to go for an alpha strike, using Leap to quickly engage the Gupps. The Sabretooth’s Maul trigger should let it take down the Spawn Mother with ease, and if needed Myranda’s Hunting Call tactical action can let other beasts take additional Ml actions to finish off any stubborn swampfiends.
I spent a soulstone to draw two cards and discard two – not usually something I’d do on the first turn, but given that I expected to be engaged this turn I wanted the best hand I could get. After discarding a couple of low cards, I ended up with the twelve of masks, twelve of tomes, nine of crows, seven of masks, three of masks, three of rams and the black joker. Not a bad hand – one high tome for Maul, a moderate crow that I might be able to use for Devour or Luther’s Go For The Throat, a moderate mask for Leap, and the black joker – so no chance of him turning up at the wrong time like last game.
Luther went first, top-decking an eight to Leap without needing a card from my hand before walking into one of the Gupps to avoid their Perfect Camouflage ability. The ravenous hare attacked the diminutive creatures, flipping a high crow to Go For The Throat and taking a swarm down to one wound. Keen to capitalise on the opportunity, Myranda walked up behind him, her Hunting Call encouraging the hare to attack again. Only too keen, Luther finished off the Gupps (with Go For The Throat off the top of the deck again!), and with an angry hiss the Spawn Mother appeared to join the fray.
Cheating in the seven of masks to Leap, the Sabretooth bounded forward, landing right next to the Spawn Mother. Its three heads tore into the swampfiend, flipping a high tome and dealing severe damage. It continued to Maul the Spawn Mother with its bonus attack from the trigger, doing severe damage again and killing the creature in one AP. Blood dripping from its jaws, the feline strode forward to engage the remaining Gupps. Behind it, the Hoarcat Pride padded forward, eager to get involved in the carnage up ahead.
Bereft of one swarm and the Spawn Mother, the Gupps panicked. One swarm attempted to attack Luther, their claws briefly catching the hare for weak damage before it leapt out of the way of their second attack. The other swarm, faced by a titanic three-headed feline, found themselves Paralysed in fear and were unable to attack.
As I went into turn two, things were looking far better. The Child was still on the centreline, and the remaining swampfiends were all engaged with my beasts. I burnt another soulstone to draw two cards, ending with the eleven of tomes, nine of crows, nine of tomes, six of rams, five of rams, four of masks and the black joker (who, out of sheer force of habit, I’d held onto from the first turn). The Sabretooth went first, tearing into the closest swarm of Gupps and hitting the Maul trigger, though the ferocious creature flipped a moderate card for damage and killed the creatures with its first attack. It crouched low, attempting to Leap into the other swarm, but its paws were unsteady on the boggy ground and it failed to Leap, having to walk into engagement instead.
Seeing that the swampfiends were all but eliminated, Myranda pressed the advantage with a Hunting Call to Luther. The hare eagerly swung at the creatures, but they flipped the red joker for their defence and deftly avoided the hare’s paws. Myranda shouted another Hunting Call at Luther, and this time the enraged hare was ready for the Gupps, dealing severe damage despite being on a single negative and finally eliminating the Gupps. Bounding forward with a Leap, the hare crouched low next to the cowering boy, reaching one blood-coated paw towards the child in a surprisingly tender gesture. I chain-pushed the child from Luther to the Hoarcats, who pushed the child farther into the safety of my side of the board. At this stage, with all the swampfiends dead and the child safely on my half of the board, there was nothing left to do but pass the remaining three turns, ending the game on a respectable 9vp.
So, aside from being an enjoyable little game, what can we learn from this scenario? It’s a good exercise in dealing with models whose main defence is imposting a negative twist – Gupps and the Spawn Mother, obviously, but also Yin the Penangalan, or anyone in Mei’s Vent Steam aura. The easiest way to get through these negative twists is to simply take the Focus action, but sometimes that’s not always possible. In this scenario it’s because the Gupps continue to push the child farther away (denying you VP in the process), but in a regular game it may not be possible to focus and then attack due to range, line of sight or – as in this game – VP considerations. This is where models who can get around the twists with built-in abilities or actions are ideal. Models who gain a positive twist to the attack such as Nino Ortega, Samurai or Sue are good choices as well, since they’ll be on a cheatable straight flip rather than an uncheatable negative twist.
Finally, as with the swampfiends in this game, a lot of these negative twist effects have caveats such as only affecting certain kinds of actions (except for Yin, she’s just awkward like that). While it wasn’t an option in the above game, in regular Malifaux it can be worth just waiting until the Spawn Mother activates (or trying to force her to activate), and then attacking her once she’s lost Perfect Camouflage and is a much easier target.
Well, that’s enough from me. Drop me a comment with your thoughts on how well imposing a negative twist works as a defence. I’m off to get some more painting done!