Malifaux spotlight: The Great Carlos Vasquez

Backstage in the Star Theater, it was busy. Girls ran to and fro with handfuls of dresses and accessories, changing in-between acts or getting ready to go back on stage. The Star Theater was packed tonight, every seat sold out as M&SU men returned from the mines, Guild guardsmen finished their patrols, and the young and wealthy of Malifaux snuck out from under the watchful gaze of their parents for a night on the town.

Cassandra pinned her long blonde hair in place, checking her makeup in the mirror – just to see a figure flit behind her, a hand tilting the mirror as it darted past. Looking up, she found Carlos Vasquez peering in the mirror, smoothing his dark hair in place.

The newest addition to the Star Theater, Carlos was a handsome young man with a toned, muscular body and jet-black hair who, as far as Cassandra could remember, had never worn a shirt. His physical attractiveness, however, was mitigated by his vain ego. Carlos was a man who was certain of his own genius and talent, and wanted everyone else to know about it too. At any opportunity he could be found flirting with the showgirls in the theatre, boasting of his exploits on and off the stage, and flexing one arm as he casually leant against the wall to show off his biceps. Cassandra couldn’t stand him. Snatching her mirror back from him, she gave him her finest haughty glare – a look that had reduced other men to quivering wrecks.

Carlos, however, grinned and winked at her. ‘Don’t worry Cassie’ – she hated it when he used that nickname – ‘I’ll try not to out-do your performance too much tonight.’

On-stage, Angelica was announcing the next act. ‘And now, presenting a pyrokinetic performance that will awe and astonish you, ladies and gentlemen…’ Cassandra noticed that Carlos was mouthing along with Angelica’s words, clearly relishing the ego boost.

‘….the great Carlos Vasquez!’ The crowd roared, the usual cheers of miners and Guild officers punctuated by the higher-pitched cries of excitement from the young women in the audience. Twirling his batons, Carlos vaulted onto the stage, leaving Cassandra rolling her eyes.

* * *

Between A Tale Of Gamers, my charity MTG tiger deck, and my rediscovery of my interest in Tyranids, it’s been a while since I touched upon my favourite game – so let’s go back to Malifaux, and one of my favourite characters. Carlos Vasquez (or, as I imagine he likes to be called, ‘The Great Carlos Vasquez’ – he strikes me as a rather vain, egotistical character!) is, for me, one of the standout models introduced to Malifaux in book four: Ripples Of Fate. So, today I thought I’d take a look at the latest addition to the Star Theater and break down why I, like many young ladies in Malifaux, am so enamoured with him!

‘The audience was told to stand back!’ (C) Wyrd Games.

Whether he’s dancing across the stage or charging across the cobbled streets of Malifaux, Carlos stands out as quite a mobile character. His Wk and Cg stats are above average, and his (0) ‘And Now, The Most Deadly Dance Of All!’ gives him a 4″ push – ideal to get him through severe terrain, out of melee, or just to give him that little extra movement. He also brings some (limited) mobility to the crew with his ‘The Flames, I Am Their Master’ ability, which is great for models who don’t like to walk themselves – such as his thematic master Colette, for example. However, do bear in mind that it is a pretty high target number – even a fast model such as the Mechanical Rider will still need a moderately high 7 to pass – and so it can be a bit risky. Alternatively, it’s worth considering this as an offensive action – TN 13 is pretty high, and if your opponent is low on cards you can drop down hazardous terrain to impede her crew.

At first glance, Carlos doesn’t look too offensive with his single fantastically-named attack, The Flaming Fist Of The Great Carlos Vasquez. I mean, a 2/3/4 damage track on a 9ss henchman? But then we get to the triggers, all built-in, and this is where the real fun begins. He can apply Burning to the target with the classic Stoke The Flames trigger, though this isn’t usually the one you’ll be going for. Instead, True Showmanship lets Carlos apply Burning +1 to himself – a setup for his final trigger (and one of my favourite trigger names in all of Malifaux) ‘The Audience Was Told To Stand Back!’, which deals damage to the target equal to the Burning condition on Carlos. Since it’s two separate bursts of damage Carlos can struggle a little against enemy models with Armor, but Hard To Kill, on the other hand, is not really a problem as he can bring them down to their last wound with his attack, and then use the trigger damage to finish them off. This means that Carlos’ overall damage (without outside assistance, such as other models giving him Burning) can clock in at between 7 – 11 in a single activation, giving him quite the substantial hitting power.

Defensively Carlos is, quite simply, a tank. As long as he’s not running into the enemy crew by himself, he’s usually very hard to put down. His Df is pretty good, while his Wp is a little lower, but the main two things that make him so tough are his Dance Of Flame ability and Stunt Double from the upgrade of the same name. Combined with his True Showmanship trigger to stack Burning on himself, and his henchman status, Carlos can prevent a substantial amount of damage before discarding a card at the end of the turn to heal himself.

While Carlos isn’t really a dedicated support piece, that’s not to say that he can’t help out his fellow Arcanists. I’ve already talked about how his ability ‘The Flames, I Am Their Master’ can give some extra mobility to your crew, particularly if a few models are clumped together – though, with a TN 13, it may require some high cards to pull off. His Stunt Double upgrade gives him another tactical action, allowing him to discard a scheme marker (friendly or otherwise) at range to force a decent Wp duel for nearby models or gain Burning +2. Since Carlos himself rather likes being on fire, you can always use this while engaged to simultaneously hand out Burning and increase Carlos’ quasi-Armor and damage. It’s also nice to have a way of removing scheme markers at range, giving you more ways to stop schemes like Spring The Trap, Set Up, or Dig Their Graves.

As I mentioned before, I do consider his personal upgrade to be pretty much mandatory. Of course, as a henchman Carlos has a second slot available to him, which I usually use for Recharge Soulstone. Carlos is usually in the thick of things anyway, and his melee reach is also 3″, so it all works out pretty nicely. His incredible 10″ threat range usually lets him engage whoever he wants to, so you can cherry-pick weaker models to take out if you’re desperate for soulstones. Alternatively, Imbued Energies is always good for Fast on demand, or – as a Showgirl – Carlos can always carry Practised Production.

Unsurprisingly, Carlos works well alongside his Star Theater companions. If Colette is leading the crew, he even gets his Showmanship upgrade free of charge (though it does still take up an upgrade slot). Unlike most Showgirls he doesn’t really use scheme markers much (barring the Pyrotechnic Prop action from his Stunt Double upgrade), allowing him to function independently from the rest of the crew if needed – and, with the Recharge Soulstone upgrade, he can help to replenish Ms du Bois’ supply as she burns through them. Colette also tends to like Union Miners for their False Claim ability, and – if you really want Carlos to do obscene amounts of damage – tagging him with their Modified Welder can increase his threat level substantially, especially after the January errata which increased the Welder to hand out Burning +2. Usually I don’t find it necessary to add on extra Burning as Carlos is quite self-sufficient, but if there’s a particularly beefy target that needs to go down this is an ideal way to get Carlos pumped and ready.

I’ve found Carlos also works well with Kaeris due to their synergies with the Burning condition. Due to the wording of Stunt Double, Kaeris can even heal Carlos on the fly by attacking him with Flaming Halo and declaring the Engulf trigger – Carlos can then discard a card to heal himself. This will remove the Burning condition from Carlos and leave him without Armor, but (depending on how many wounds he has) it can sometimes be safer to heal him rather than leave him with his BurningArmor. Situational, but worth bearing in mind. He also benefits from her Grab And Drop upgrade – since he’ll pretty much always be on fire, he can activate near Kaeris to benefit from the Wings Of Flame ability. This does mean that he’ll lose Burning at the end of his activation, but often thanks to ‘The Audience Was Told To Stand Back!’ he will have lowered his Burning to 0 anyway.

Carlos also brings some additional synergy to Mei Feng. Since he is happiest in melee and can hand out Burning with his built-in trigger, he can quickly apply the condition so that Mei can swing in and take advantage of it via the Superheated trigger on her Tiger’s Claw. He’s not a Construct and so can’t be used for Railwalk, but that’s what you brought Sparks along for, right? :)

Finally, as always, let’s take a look at what to do when you’re on the other side of the table and find yourself facing off against Carlos Vasquez. If you have it, condition removal such as Johan is superb against him, stripping him of both his defensive trick and the added offence of ‘The Audience Was Told To Stand Back!’. Definitely don’t attack him with Burning – one of my most memorable Carlos games recently was when I engaged Mad Dog with him! Having said that, however, if you can force your opponent down to having no cards in hand, Carlos will feel the heat (pun not intended) as he’ll then take damage from Burning. Given how much damage Carlos can take, it’s worth weighing up whether it’s easier to just impede him with attacks that apply Slow or Paralyzed rather than trying to kill him outright.

So, that’s my thoughts on our latest Showgirl. As always, please drop me a comment with your opinions, I’d love to hear them!

Take care,

Ben

Malifaux: A Christmas Tale

Guild saved ye merry gentlemen,
Neverborn ye shall not fear,
For the Governor-General
Will drive them out from here,

To push them back, control this land
And save all we hold dear,
Oh give thanks to the guardsmen and the Guild,
and the Guild,
Oh give thanks to the guardsmen and the Guild.

– Officially approved carol, sanctioned by the Guild for use by citizens of Malifaux

christmas-rasputinaIt’s December and, in an attempt to cut down on smuggling, the Guild’s imposed a tax on presents with checkpoints across the city! Seeing a confiscated wagon of ‘gifts’, Rasputina and her cult decide to steal them back from the Guild patrol escorting the contraband.

* * *

On Christmas eve, my wife and I laid out the table for a casual game of Malifaux. We decided to do the Supply Wagon encounter, and to festive-ise it up I made some little presents to stuff in the wagon :) Kathryn would be trying to move the wagon back into her side of the table, while I’d be scoring 1vp if, at the end of the turn, I had two or more non-peon models in base contact with the wagon. We even flipped for unconventional terrain, getting an Ancient Monument – in this case, the giant Christmas tree! Our crews and schemes were:

Rasputina – Arcane Reservoir, Armor Of December, Cold Nights
Wendigo
Snowstorm – Recharge Soulstone
Arcane Effigy
Ice Gamin
Ice Dancer
Silent One
Slate Ridge Mauler – Circus Bear

I went for a thematic crew, choosing Rasputina (it is winter, after all!), along with almost purely Frozen Heart models. I also threw in the Slate Ridge Mauler – I don’t use it enough, and was keen to try out his new 0ss upgrade.

Schemes: Cursed Object (unrevealed) and Breakthrough (unrevealed)

Sonnia – Counterspell Aura
Purifying Flame
Dr Grimwell – Research Grant
Witchling Handler – Disrupt Magic
Witchling Stalker
Witchling Stalker
Nurse Heartsbane – Numb To The World
Orderly

Expecting Rasputina (given that I’d been talking about her in regards to this game for days previously!), Kathryn went for a very anti-magic force of Witch Hunters, with some potent upgrades to make Ca actions harder to cast.

Schemes: Frame For Murder on the Witchling Handler (unrevealed) and Roundup (unrevealed).

* * *

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The Arcane Christmas Tree, a 50mm blocking terrain piece giving a mighty +2 Ca to any model within 2″! Will Rasputina or Sonnia make it there first? Unconventional Terrain is quite fun every so often!

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The supply wagon, filled full of untaxed presents all ready to smuggle past the Guild!

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Arcanist deployment

Turn 1

The game started with both of us flipping the same value card for initiative… twice. On the third flip I finally won the initiative, starting with my Ice Gamin stalking forward before using his Bite Of Winter in anticipation. In response, one of the Witchling Stalkers took advantage of the Handler’s Goad Witchling ability and walked forward towards the Gamin. The Ice Dancer skated away down one flank, using her skills to Work The Crowd and dropping down a scheme marker. Another Witchling Stalker moved up towards the wagon in the centre of the board and, seeing the Guild amassing near the wagon, the Silent One moved forward as well to join the Gamin. Following her charges forward, the Witchling Handler moved up before ordering the Orderly to Follow The Flock, pulling the asylum worker forward with her.

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The Ice Dancer leaves a present behind!

Energizing Rasputina with its Arcane Radiance, the Arcane effigy walked forward to join the Arcanists grouped near the wagon. Sonnia walked three times towards the wagon, deciding that this was a fight best led from the front. The Wendigo walked to join the clump of Arcanists, while the Guild’s totem took advantage of its Incorporeal nature to float through models and terrain alike. Pushing forward with “Dance, Boris”, the Slate Ridge Mauler ambled towards the wagon, a low growl emitting from its maw at the prospect of violence. The Orderly moved even further forwards.

Having grouped her forces together in a tight cluster, Rasputina revealed her plan as she walked forward before casting December’s Touch on the Effigy. Fate intervened as I flipped the black joker but, not to be deterred, Rasputina spent her last ap to cast it again, temporarily granting the little doll Armor +2 and the Frozen Heart characteristic. Grimwell strode forward, but it was too late as Snowstorm unleashed an Icy Tornado. The Frozen Heart models were safe from the howling gale, pushed forward towards the cart instead of being shredded by the icy winds. Stalking forward, Snowstorm spoke December’s Command, pulling Rasputina towards her. Nurse Heartsbane walked forward, creeping forward even further with Right Behind You Dear, but as the turn ended the Arcanists still had the most models near the wagon, moving it 5″ away from the Guild forces.

Sonnia cursed silently. She’d expected this ever since the damned icy winds had separated her forces from the wagon, but she could now clearly see that ice witch Rasputina and her cult. She ordered her forces forward with all haste, expecting to be able to outrun the cult, but her eyes widened in shock behind the metal mask as a gust of frigid wind hit the Arcanist forces, speeding them forward. Around her, her crew broke into a run, but it was too late as the Decemberites reached the wagon first, grabbing the reins and leading it away from the Guild.

Turn 2

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The forces converge as the Arcanists manage to push the cart away from the Guild.

Despite spending a soulstone to reflip, I still lost the initiative, and Kathryn started by having the good Doctor Grimwell Nimble forward. His Doctor’s Orders moved the loyal Nurse Heartsbane closer, before he walked to the Christmas tree and the supply wagon. The Silent One walked into base contact with the wagon, her eyes set on holding it in place and retrieving some of the untaxed presents, before unleashing a bolt of Freeze at the nearby Nurse Heartsbane. The bolt hit the nurse for weak damage, and taking advantage of the Frozen Shards the cultist cast it again, though Heartsbane was ready this time and dodged the elemental bolt. The Wendigo used Companion to chain activate, but failed to summon the Ice Pillars thanks to the [-] imposed by the nearby Witch Hunters (all I needed was a 4…). Loping back to the cart, the ravenous creature moved into base contact in preparation for the end of the turn.

Having taken a battering, Nurse Heartsbane charged into the Wendigo. Her Electroshock paddles must have been turned up to 11, the powerful charge dropping the Wendigo in one severe damage hit and leaving the little creature twitching and spasming on the ground, out of the game!

Seeking to shore up the line where the Wendigo had fallen, the Arcane Effigy walked into base contact with the wagon before handing a brightly-wrapped gift to Dr Grimwell and revealing Cursed Object. Emanating more Arcane Radiance at Rasputina, the little doll chose to Accomplice the nearby Ice Gamin. The frozen construct also walked into base contact with the wagon and used Bite Of Winter, attacking Nurse Heartsbane though the Guild ‘medical’ officer dodged the creature’s attack. Seeing the press of Arcanists around the wagon and looking to even the balance, one of the Witchling Stalkers charged the Arcane Effigy. The little creature was clearly ready, though, dodging both of the Stalker’s attacks.

Rasputina decided to lead by example, moving forward with a Guarded Advance before unleashing December’s Curse on the Witchling Handler. Ice exploded in all directions as the attack dealt moderate damage, catching the nearby Witchling Stalker for weak. Channelling December’s Power, Rasputina sought to Overload the Guild Officer, but the Handler flipped the Red Joker and promptly reflected the magic back on Rasputina! Not to be outdone in this sorcerous battle, Rasputina sent another blast of freezing power towards the Handler, killing her and damaging the Witchling Stalker again. The little creature died, exploding in a burst of sorcerous energies and damaging both Sonnia and the Orderly… but Kathryn revealed Frame For Murder on the Handler, scoring the maximum 3vp. Curse my over-eagerness to kill her and remove that pesky Disrupt Magic upgrade!

Seeing her nemesis in the open, Sonnia walked towards the Christmas tree for its Ca bonus before unleashing a Flameburst, hoping to melt the ice witch’s power. The first bolt hit her for weak damage, and capitalizing on her success Sonnia threw another Flameburst at Rasputina, dealing weak damage again.

On the flanks, the Ice Dancer continued to walk towards the Guild deployment zone, her Forward Momentum keeping her safely out of line of sight. The Purifying Flame joined the Guild forces around the wagon, but the Slate Ridge Mauler took the opportunity to charge it. Even the Incorporeal spirit wasn’t able to withstand the fury of the Mauler, and it fell under a flurry of attacks. In response, the Guild Orderly walked to contest the wagon. Snowstorm also moved up into range to contest the wagon, before throwing an Icy Tornado into the scrum of models. It hit the Ice Gamin, but the black joker appeared for the damage flip and prevented me from laying down any blast markers.

At the end of the turn, the supply wagon moved nowhere as we both had an equal number of models contesting it. I scored one vp from having two models in base contact, and another by removing the Christmas present / cursed object from Grimwell.

Ben: 2   Kathryn: 3

Dashing in close, Emily planted both electroshock paddles firmly on the furry creature’s chest. ‘Clear!’ she muttered sarcastically as the instrument triggered, sending thousands of volts into the Wendigo. It spasmed uncontrollably as the electricity coursed through it before collapsing to the ground where it lay, twitching sporadically.

On the other side of the field, Rasputina summoned December’s energies to her as she sent bolt after bolt of frigid power at the Guild officer. The trinket the woman carried was somehow disrupting the magic of her cultists, reducing their potential from an avalanche to a trickle. She smiled as the icy blasts sent the woman staggering back, before unleashing one final bolt that exploded in a blizzard of icy shards, cutting apart the Witchling Handler and wounding the Guild officers nearby. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw that Sonnia looked remarkably unperturbed by the death of her lieutenant. That can’t be good, Rasputina thought to herself…

Turn 3

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Chaos errupts around the supply wagon! At least Dr Grimwell has a present :)

The Arcanists took the initiative, with the Slate Ridge Mauler taking advantage of its proximity to Sonnia to Bear Hug her with all four arms. Dropping the Slow Guild leader, it swung at her, but Sonnia blocked its massive paw with her runed blade – only for the giant bear to hand her a present / cursed object for its final ap. In my haste to Slow Sonnia, I’d neglected the nearby Witchling Stalker, who promptly removed Slow with Dispel Magic before attacking the Arcane Effigy – and dealing moderate damage and Burning despite being on a [-] [-]. The Effigy removed the Burning from itself with Cleanse Fate, before dropping a card for defensive stance in an attempt to stay alive. Taking advantage of the Effigy’s Accomplice, Snowstorm entered the fray and attacked Heartsbane. The matron tried to dodge the attack, but the Grip Of Winter trigger kept Snowstorm on a [+] damage flip and left Heartsbane bleeding out on the frozen cobblestones.

Sonnia managed to move away from the Mauler, dropping the present it had given her before sending a Flameburst back towards the four-armed bear. Legend has it that a Slate Ridge Mauler is Impossible To Wound, but that didn’t seem to matter for Sonnia as she top-decked the red joker, taking the bear down to its last wound and dealing moderate damage to Rasputina, Snowstorm, the Ice Gamin and the Effigy! The Effigy died from the blazing inferno, but the others managed to survive with varying low wounds left…

Seeking to repair some of the damage Sonnia had done, the Silent One threw a Freeze spell at the Orderly for moderate damage before healing Snowstorm with her December’s Favour. The Orderly followed suit, putting his medical ‘training’ to good use with some hasty Emergency Surgery on Dr Grimwell. Not to be deterred, Rasputina Focused her energies before hurling December’s Curse at the Witchling Stalker, the magical energies enveloping the little creature and killing it. Both the icy blasts from her spell and the explosion from the dying Stalker hit Dr Grimwell, leaving the good doctor standing but badly wounded. Seeking to block his charge lane, Rasputina summoned a pair of Ice Pillars – however, I’d stupidly forgotten to see if they’d fit first. They did not, and so left Grimwell free to engage the Arcanists. His Nimble walk got him into range of Snowstorm where, with a maniacal grin that would have made McMourning jealous, he revved up his bonesaw for a Lobotomy on the pair. The medical instrument clearly wasn’t intended to deal with such a target, however, as he only managed weak damage. In response, the nearby Ice Gamin handed Grimwell a present, while the Ice Dancer – now completely ignored by the Guild and free to run amok in their back field – walked and dropped down a couple of scheme markers with her theatrical talents to Work The Crowd.

At the end of the turn, the Slate Ridge Mauler succumbed to Burning and died, and I removed the present / cursed object from Dr Grimwell for another VP.

Ben: 4   Kathryn: 3

With a primal roar, Snow and Storm entered the fray. Nurse Heartsbane turned to face them, raising her electroshock paddles in a futile gesture as a gust of cold wind froze her in place. The titanic creature’s paw sent her sprawling onto the frozen cobblestones. Lifting her head up with a tremendous force of will, Emily stared up into the cold, merciless eyes of the cloaked woman accompanying the creature. The woman lifted one hand, ice and snow gathering around it, before a flash of frozen energy hit Emily and everything went black.

Turn 4

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Sonnia escapes from the Slate Ridge Mauler while Snowstorm wades into the melee around the wagon.

Sonnia went first, eager to capitalise on the destruction wrought last turn. She threw another Flameburst at Rasputina, who discarded Cold Nights in an attempt to resist the spell. The +2 Ca from the Christmas tree was potent, however, and Sonnia still dealt severe damage, leaving the ice queen on her last wound. The ensuing blasts from the attack hit Snowstorm and the Ice Gamin, finishing off the diminutive creature – and starting a chain reaction. The Gamin exploded in a storm of shards, finishing off Snowstorm who also sent a blizzard of ice in all directions, killing the persistent Dr Grimwell and leaving the Silent One on her last wound! Seeking to neutralise the tenacious Arcanist, Sonnia tried to negate Rasputina with Grounded Magic, though the ice queen resisted the attack. Out of options, Sonnia used her Confiscated Lore to increase her defence in preparation for the coming counter-attack.

The Silent One interacted to remove her Burning before healing her mistress with December’s Favour. Despite Sonnia’s expectations, Rasputina did not attack and instead moved into base contact with the cart through three Guarded Advances – I needed two models in base contact to score, after all. The Ice Dancer continued to litter the Guild deployment zone with scheme markers, oblivious to the carnage in the centre of the board.

Ben: 5   Kathryn: 3

Calling upon the power of Cherufe bound inside her lantern, Sonnia unleashed a cataclysmic gout of fire. Eyes widening in shock, Rasputina threw up her hands to raise a shield of ice, but it was to no avail as the magical energies overwhelmed her defence. Fire erupted all around, cutting through the icy fog that had enshrouded the field until now.

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Sonnia focuses her energies…

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…and clears the area!

Turn 5

Sonnia took the initiative for a third time, continuing to batter the Arcanists with her Flameburst. Despite throwing in the red joker from my hand Rasputina was still hit by the attack, the fiery magic finally putting her out of the game and the blasts finishing off the Silent One too. Alone in the centre of the board, Sonnia walked towards the supply wagon to begin moving it back towards Guild territory. Completely oblivious to the fact that she was the last Arcanist standing (and with not much else to do!), the Ice Dancer continued dropping scheme markers.

The cart pushed back towards the Guild’s side of the board, but wasn’t able to quite cross the centreline. It looked like it was all over….

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Rasputina tries to support the Silent One on the present wagon, but finds herself facing off against a Ca 9 Sonnia…

Ben: 5   Kathryn: 3

Cherufe was constant now, its voice echoing inside her head. Some part of her knew that she needed to fight it, to force its influence back into the lantern prison where it could be controlled, but another part of her simply enjoyed the power. She raised her arms again, sending another burst of fire at the remaining Arcanists behind the wagon.

Rasputina saw the fire coming towards her. Battered, singed and exhausted, she realised that she hadn’t the strength to withstand Sonnia’s Tyrant-enhanced power any longer. As the fire washed over her, she used her last reserves of energy to summon a cloak of frigid air around her, teleporting away from the battlefield and abandoning her remaining cultists.

Turn 6

The game continues! Sonnia continued to stay near the cart, and the Ice Dancer simply hung around her scheme markers. The cart wheeled firmly back into Guild territory, and with that the game ended.

Final score – Ben: 8   Kathryn: 6

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MVP – once again, the Ice Dancer proves to be a game-changer, scoring me a last-minute 3VP from Breakthrough!

A rather close finish, in the end! Kathryn certainly enjoyed the game, which is great. For me, handing out little presents with Rasputina on Christmas eve – well, what more can you ask for?

Thanks for reading, and hopefully see you in the new year for some more battle reports (probably less silly, and a little more serious!).

Take care, and have a happy Christmas,

Ben

Malifaux battle report: The Train Heist

Cue the music and turn the volume right up – it’s time for a classic train robbery!

* * *

Toni was bored.

The train clattered through the surrounding forests, with nothing but trees and more trees to see on either side.The carriage was mostly empty, with a group of Union workers playing cards at one end with a few showgirls a few seats down. One of the performers had joined in their card game, and by all accounts seemed to be doing rather well.

For the first part of the journey she’d amused herself by working out, using the metal bars along the roof for chinups and the wooden benches for dips. After that, she’d read the book she’d brought with her – a dense tome of the philosophy of neo-Confucianism. Once she’d finished that, she ended up staring out of the window at the endless trees, drumming her fingers on one knee.

Once each fortnight, the train carried the Union payroll from the outlying towns back to Ridley station. It was a nothing job, a milk run. Despite the value of the train’s cargo, no-one was stupid enough to attack a Union train. Either they’d heard rumours about Arcanist involvement, or they’d just seen the show of force the M&SU put on at both stations with crowds of miners, steamfitters and workers accompanied by hulking constructs like the serpentine Soulstone Miners and the massive Rail Golem. Either way, nothing ever happened, but Toni was still assigned to accompany the train.

Suddenly, the train braked, the deceleration jolting people in their seats and sending the miners’ playing cards scattering across the floor. As they cursed and bent down, Toni was already out of her seat, heading towards the engine. A wall of heat hit her as she entered the cabin, the engineer turning as she approached. ‘What’s happened?’ she demanded.

The man swore. ‘We’ve got trouble up ahead. Looks like Neverborn, and explosives on the track. I can slow her down, but she won’t stop in time.’

Toni smiled, flexing her muscles at the prospect. ‘Just slow the train as much as you can. We’ll clear the line.’

Before the man could say anything else, she’d leapt from the train. Crushing a soulstone in her hand, she felt the magical energies coursing through her before she hit the ground running. Speeding up, she overtook the train and dashed towards the waiting forces up ahead.

* * *

Finally caving in to my persistent nagging and enthusiasm for this scenario, Izaak agreed to play the Train Robbery story encounter from book 4, Ripples Of Fate.

I’d already settled on Toni Ironsides to lead my crew – aside from the fact that she’s one of my favourite masters, who else would you expect to be guarding a Union payroll train? Accompanying her was a group of M&SU workers and showgirls, returning from the northern town of Huxley’s Peak to Ridley, and a lone Wind Gamin summoned from the trees.

Toni Ironsides – Arcane Reservoir, Challenge The Crowd, Iron Determination
Cassandra – Recharge Soulstone
Joss – Recharge Soulstone
Performer
Performer
Union Miner
Union Miner
Wind Gamin

Seeing the train up ahead and keen to play ‘train robbers’, the Dreamer called a motley assortment of his friends to his side.

The Dreamer – Dreams Of Pain, Otherworldly
Daydream
Daydream
Doppelganger – Mimic’s Blessing
Mr Graves – Thousand Faces
Teddy – Thousand Faces
Widow Weaver

Being a story encounter, all the schemes were available. I chose Gathering Power (revealed) and Breakthrough (unrevealed), while Izaak chose Deliver A Message (revealed) and Bodyguard on the Doppelganger (unrevealed).

deployment

Deployment

* * *

Turn 1

The Arcanists won the initative, with the Wind Gamin Leaping forward and taking a couple of walk actions. In response, one of the Daydreams used Lead Nightmare to push the nearby Widow Weaver forward, before sacrificing itself to give the Dreamer a Lucid Nightmare. Seeing the power gathering ahead, one of the Union Miners walked forward to the little station platform ahead.

The Dreamer summoned more of his nightmarish friends to join the battle, Coppelius flexing his fingers and the shadowy Bandersnatch creeping from the darkness. He healed Coppelius before lowering his Waking by one, sleeping soundly despite the monsters around him. Taking advantage of his Accomplice, the Bandersnatch crawled into Teddy’s shadow, the hulking bear grinning maliciously as its shadow extended menacingly. The second Union Miner walked forward to join his companion, while Coppelius also stalked forward. Seeing the Neverborn creatures gathering, Toni sprinted forward along the left-hand side of the tracks, ready to lead the charge and protect the train. In response, the imposing Mr Graves used Show Ya The Door to pull the Doppelganger forward before dropping a scheme marker on the railway line. Joss moved to join Toni on the left-hand side of the tracks, while the Widow Weaver scuttled closer to Toni and her miners, throwing a web marker down on the platform. Cassandra moved forward, and Coppelius was pushed even further forward by one of the Dreamer’s Daydreams.

turn1Trying to pull the creature into the open, one of Cassandra’s Performers used her Siren Call on the Widow Weaver, but the spider-like creature proved immune to even the magically-enhanced tricks of Colette’s girls and resisted the action. Seeing the girl out of position, Teddy strode forward, using Gobble You Up to push into base contact before attacking the Performer, dealing moderate damage and taking her down to one wound. Wary of the Doppelganger who was still to activate (and able to get a scheme marker in place to derail the train), I decided to gamble, activating my second Performer who dropped down off the train and used Siren Call on the first Performer. She hit the trigger to take a free attack, ruthlessly killing her companion – and giving Cassandra Reactivate via Precious in the process. With nothing else left to activate, Izaak walked his Doppelganger forward before dropping a scheme marker and having her Blend In. Attempting to move away from Teddy so she could remove the scheme marker, Cassandra tried to Nimble out of combat… only to be held in place by the nightmarish creature, ending my last chance of removing the scheme marker. She tried to attack the hulking creature, promptly failing her Terrifying test and ending her activation.

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Disaster strikes as the Doppelganger derails the train!

The turn ended, and the train hurtled forward, colliding with the Doppelganger’s scheme marker and derailing! Crates of scrip spilled out the back, so while I now had no chance of auto-winning the game by getting the train off the board at least the loot markers were a fair distance away from the rest of the Neverborn…

With a ear-splitting screech of metal the locomotive hit the mine, the force of the blast lifting all 110 tons of the engine off the track for a moment before it crashed back down. Slewing to one side, the train ground to a halt, throwing up plumes of dirt and steam. The Dreamer whooped and capered as it lurched to a full stop, laughing at the decapitated bodies of the engineers amidst the wreckage of the cabin. ‘Wasn’t that fun? Wasn’t it?’ he asked the Neverborn around him, the Widow Weaver slowly nodding in agreement. ‘Come on you lot!’ he exclaimed, pointing to the train. ‘It’s not a proper robb’ry unless you steal the loot!’

Turn 2

Coppelius took advantage of winning the initiative, charging the nearest Union Miner and hitting his sinister I Want Them Both trigger. The Arcanists around him had clearly seen much worse, though, as everyone passed the resulting horror duel. His second attack did weak damage, leaving the Miner standing but wounded.

Seeking to neutralize the threat before it could activate, my remaining Performer walked forward before using her Siren Call on the Teddy. I threw in the Red Joker from my hand, choosing the crow trigger and Paralyzing Teddy. Meanwhile, the Widow Weaver threw down another web marker on the platform before using Exhale Fear on Toni. The first attack did severe damage despite being on a [-], though again the Arcanists around her managed to pass the horror duel. The second attack only managed weak damage, which was prevented by a soulstone. My wounded Miner took advantage of the sheer number of buffs he was receiving – Hand-Picked Men from Toni and Stand Together from the other Miner being nearby – and walked into range of Coppelius, attacking the creature but only managing weak damage despite the [+] [+] to his damage flip.

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‘Stand together!’ Coppelius survives the onslaught of the Union Miners.

Mr Graves moved the Dreamer upfield with Show Ya The Door, and then used Keeping The Peace in spectacular fashion by flipping the Red Joker! The second Union Miner did a little better than his friend despite only benefiting from Stand Together, walking in and doing moderate damage to Coppelius. The Dreamer continued to call more nightmares into reality, summoning an Insidious Madness and an Alp onto the station platform before lowering his Waking again. The Insidious Madness chain activated, healing itself from the Dreamer’s Pleasant Dreams before trying to Induce Phobia. Despite the tormenting images Toni passed the duel, though the Miner next to her wasn’t so strong-willed.

Cassandra walked twice away from the Teddy, using Understudy to copy Siren Call and pull Joss towards the Teddy. (In hindsight, I should’ve just left Cassandra to deal with him and kept Joss on the other side of the table where he could deal with the Dreamer’s summons). The remaining Daydream walked forward, while Toni joined the fray. Her first attack killed the Alp in front of her, but the Insidious Madness proved to be a tougher opponent and evaded the attack. Using Stand Up, Stand Tall to heal herself, Toni attacked Coppelius but flipped the Black Joker for the attack flip, missing the creature.

While the Teddy stood immobile, its shadow writhed around with a life of its own as the Bandersnatch struck. The clawed shadow hit the nearby Performer, catching her by surprise and dealing weak damage. Knowing what to expect, she managed to dodge the second attack just as Joss charged past her, barrelling into the Teddy. His Arc Axe cleaved through fur and stuffing, dealing moderate damage. Despite the paralysis, he still managed to miss his second attack! In response, the Teddy activated to clear Paralyze, while the Wind Gamin walked behind the Hitching Post. Finally, the Doppelganger copied Exhale Terror, though Toni burnt another soulstone to prevent damage.

More of the Neverborn creatures appeared on the station, and pandemonium errputed around the wreckage of the train. A long-limbed creature with tentacles for a mouth was grappling with Mikael, its long fingers grasping for his eyes as he tried to fight it off with his mining tools. Next to him, his companion Josef was paralyzed by fear as waves of terror emanated from the shapeless form on the platform.

Turn 3

Winning the initiative, the Neverborn unsurprisingly opted to go first, and the Insidious Madness handed over a wax-sealed envelope to Toni to score 3vp from Deliver A Message. In retaliation, the wounded Union Miner attacked Coppelius. His first attack missed, though the second attack connected and finally killed the creature.

Sulking somewhat since the Unionists weren’t playing fair by killing his creations, the Dreamer summoned a Stitched Together. As the burlap creature appeared, its rotten stuffing spilt everywhere, killing the wounded Union Miner and wounding both his companion and Ms. Ironsides. His mood brightened by the appearance of his new friend, the Dreamer lowered his Waking before re-summoning Coppelius. The Stitched Together activated by Accomplice, playing a twisted Game Of Chance with the Miner and drawing some cards.

Seeking to keep the Teddy out of the fray, Joss attacked with his Pneumatic Fist. In an impressive display of strength and wrestling ability that would put Mancha Roja to shame, he choke-slammed the Teddy into the ground, Paralyzing the creature again!

Continuing her assault, the Widow Weaver put down a third web marker before using Exhale Fear against Toni. The Arcanist leader burnt another precious soulstone to prevent the damage, and managed to pass the horror duel from the second attack. In response, Toni used Rush ‘Em to engage the Doppelganger, flipping the Red Joker for damage on her first attack! Her second punch killed the mimic, and Toni walked into the middle of engagement with the Dreamer, Widow Weaver and Daydream to set up her Adrenaline for the next turn. Seeing Toni deal with the Doppelganger and muttering something about, ‘If you want something done right…’, Mr Graves walked twice to engage her as well.

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‘Bring it!’ Toni puts down the Doppelganger and moves to engage the nearby Neverborn.

The Performer fled from the Teddy, leaving the Bandersnatch free to attack Joss, and dealing moderate damage on the first attack followed by weak on the second. The Wind Gamin interacted for a scheme marker before fluttering further into the Neverborn side of the field, while the Daydream pushed Coppelius further upfield and pushed Teddy away from Joss. Seeing the gangly figure, Cassandra attempted to finish Coppelius off with her Breath Of Fire, but fate favoured the Neverborn creature as I flipped the Black Joker for damage. Taking advantage of his luck, Coppelius walked forward to base contact with two of the treasure markers…

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End of turn 3.

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Coppelius sneaks around to the unguarded loot markers.

With a surge of adrenaline, Toni rushed forward towards the Neverborn shapeshifter. It turned towards her, taking on the appearance of her long-dead mum – but the attempted subterfuge only served to enrage Toni. Her fist hammered into its face, sending it reeling in a spray of blood and teeth. It staggered backwards, losing control of its mimicry as a multitude of personas appeared and disappeared over its face. Before it could react further, Toni’s uppercut connected with its jaw, snapping its head back with a sickening crack as its neck broke.

Turn 4

Fate favoured the Neverborn as they won the initiative, and Coppelius took two of the treasure markers. Determined to finish the job, Joss charged the Teddy again, his Arc Axe finally cleaving through the creature and leaving it as little more than a pile of stuffing and thread. The Stitched Together continued gambling with the remaining Union Miner and, despite the Wp penalty from three web markers, the Miner won the first game! We all know you can never really win a game when playing against a Stitched Together, though, as it played a Game Of Chance again and won this time.

Seeing the Bandersnatch out in the open now that Teddy was gone, Cassandra focused her energies before letting loose a gout of flame, the sorcerous energies killing the incorporeal creature. She pushed back towards the remaining scrip in a Swirl Of Motion, before putting on her innocent-showgirl look with her Southern Charm.

Attempting to get Toni away from his boss, Mr Graves tried to Show Ya The Door. Despite the mimic’s trunk-like biceps and strength, Toni’s Bring It! ability kept her safe and she held her ground. Activating in response, Toni was in her element as she rocketed up to Adrenaline +6. She hammered her Brass Knuckles into the Widow Weaver, flipping the Red Joker (again!) for damage and hitting the Follow Through trigger. Her Uppercut sent the spider-creature flying backwards with a sickening crunch, hitting the trigger again to lower her Adrenaline. Pushing back into the fray, Toni punched the Daydream, though it seems that punching the insubstantial creations of a child’s memory aren’t necessarily the best way to kill it as she only managed weak damage. She punched it again for her second ap, killing it before walking back towards the loot markers and healing back to full health from Stand Up, Stand Tall. Stand tall indeed Toni, that was a good activation!

Inspired by his boss’s attacks, the remaining Union Miner used Companion to activate, swinging his hammer down on the Stitched Together… only to flip the Black Joker for his attack flip. His second attack managed moderate damage, but left the rotting creature standing. Nearby, the Insidious Madness used Induce Phobia twice, but both Toni and the Miner passed their horror duels now that the Widow Weaver’s web markers had been removed. Meanwhile, the Wind Gamin continued to be a nuisance, dropping a scheme marker before Leaping and dropping another one.

Walking forward to the loot, the Dreamer summoned a Daydream to his side… and reached Waking +4, disappearing from Malifaux to be replaced by the terrifying Lord Chompy Bits. The Performer continued fleeing, dropping a scheme marker in the process, and Lord Chompy Bits attacked Cassandra. His Ten-Inch Claws cut deep, dealing moderate damage and hitting the Onslaught trigger. Even a formidable duellist like Cassandra was powerless against the brutality of the tyrant, suffering weak damage before his second attack knocked her sword from her hands and sent her flying backwards where she collapsed, unmoving. Playtime over, the Dreamer unburied next to his friend as Lord Chompy Bits faded away, his myriad of malicious red eyes being the last feature to disappear.

turn4-end‘It’s not fair!’ The Dreamer’s cry echoed around the forest. ‘You’re not s’posed to do that!’ He pointed angrily at the prone figure of the Widow Weaver. Around him, reality began to distort as his anger affected the very fabric of Malifaux. ‘I’ll show you!’

With a discordant screech reality was torn asunder for a brief second, before the world snapped back into place – and, standing where the little boy had been, was a six-armed figure from nightmare. Cassandra turned towards it, instinctively raising her sabre, but a flurry of muscluar arms sent her reeling back, blood staining her dress. She parried one of the arms, before another grabbed the sword and ripped it from her grip. With a gutteral roar, Lord Chompy Bits casually backhanded the showgirl, sending her flying backwards where she hit the ground, unmoving. As the monstrous figure of Lord Chompy Bits faded away, the Dreamer stood where he had been, a smug grin crossing his face. ‘Hah! That showed you!’

Turn 5

Seizing the initiative, Toni activated and lowered her Adrenaline to Rush ‘Em, jumping into base contact with the Dreamer and blocking his line of sight to Coppelius. Having seen just what this ‘defenceless child’ was capable of, Toni didn’t hold back, hammering a punch that hit home for moderate damage and gained her another stack of Adrenaline. Her second punch hit the Follow Through trigger, and the Uppercut sent the child stumbling backwards, where his form finally faded from Malifaux as he woke up Earthside.

Seeing the Wind Gamin fluttering around in the Neverborn back field, Graves moved to engage him, his Fence Post attack dealing moderate damage to the little creature. Seeking to finish off the tenacious Stitched Together, the Miner swing his hammer… and flipped the Black Joker again for his attack. Hefting the weapon, he aimed a killing blow… and missed the second attack. In response, the Stitched Together challenged him to Gamble Your Life, winning the duel and killing the Miner before dropping a scheme marker down to try and counteract the sea of blue markers.

Joss walked back towards the loot, standing in-between the two remaining markers to discourage anyone from trying to steal them. With Joss now blocking the markers, the Insidious Madness dropped down another scheme marker, while the Wind Gamin Leapt away from Mr Graves to lay down another scheme marker, flying away from the muscled mimic. The remaining Daydream pushed both Coppelius and the Stitched Together, while the Performer walked further into the Neverborn deployment zone and interacted for another scheme marker. Coppelius attacked Joss, but the big man avoided the first attack. Reaching in again, the nightmare’s second attack hit, even managing to paralyse Joss in terror. But, with that, the game ended in an 8-6 victory for the Arcanists.

turn5-endToni didn’t hesitate as she closed in on the boy. She’d seen enough of what he could do to know that he wasn’t human, or at the very least was somehow leading the Neverborn. The boy turned to her as she approached, that smug grin still on his face – right up until her brass knuckles connected with the smile, twisting his head to one side. Turning to face her, he looked down at the blood on his white nightshirt in shock. ‘Hey, now, this is my dream! You’re not s’posed to be able to…’ He never got a chance to finish his sentence, as Toni continued her relentless assault, battering the Dreamer before landing a vicious uppercut. His body faded away before it could hit the ground with a giggle of childish laughter – not the strangest thing she’d seen in Malifaux, Toni mused, as she turned to the remaining nightmares next to her.

* * *

This was such a fun encounter, and one I’d highly recommend playing if you want a break from the usual rulebook / Gaining Grounds strats and schemes. Maybe it’s just all the old Western films and games like Red Dead Redemption, but to my mind a train heist is just so cool!

In hindsight, I’ve realised that actions like Induce Phobia were horror duels, not willpower tests, and so my models would have automatically passed the second attack (such as in turn 4). Izaak’s been playing Pandora quite a lot, so I just assume that all attacks like that are willpoewr duels nowadays, whoops!

Take care,

Ben

Divergent Paths – divergent factions

For the last couple of Divergent Paths games, I’ve broken my usual modus operandi and played Outcasts rather than Arcanists. The main reasoning behind this is that it’s been a little surprising to see the same few factions (Neverborn, Resurrectionists and Arcanists) winning many of the weeks, and I decided – admittedly rather late – that I wanted to do my bit to try and help one of the other factions. Of the other factions I have, Resurrectionists are definitely out and Guild don’t really grab my interest, so that just leaves Outcasts. I’ve always liked Tara in the backstory, and originally picked up her Nightmare box as soon as she was available. Never did get around to playing her, though, so this seemed like the perfect time to rectify that.

thereisnoshelterhereI ran Tara in both the Trickster and the Inquisitive Child’s games this week, managing to win both of them against Pandora and Wong respectively. I rather enjoyed playing her – her time-manipulating abilities are great fun, and the challenge of using Temporal Shift to benefit as many friendly models as possible while affecting as few enemy models as possible is rather neat. I particularly liked using her with an offensive approach to the Bury mechanic, running three Death Marshals in both games to try and cram enemy models into their Pine Boxes where they can then be attacked by Void Wretches, or have their actions copied by Tara. I never did manage to find the points for Karina, so I’m yet to experience her. The summoning upgrade looks very interesting, though the high target number and suits could be problematic given her status as an Enforcer. Now, if I were to use her in a Shifting Loyalties campaign where she could benefit from Change Of Station to become a Henchman…

In terms of Tara’s crew, I’ve been enjoying her thematic mix of Void Wretches, the Nothing Beast and Death Marshals. The Pure Nothingness ability is rather neat, and it feels like running Tara is almost the opposite of my usual masters – while Colette, Sandeep and Marcus like to have cards in their hands for actions and / or triggers, Tara’s crew are the exact opposite. Df 8 on a 4ss minion is pretty awesome, even if it does mean having no cards in your hand!

Divergent Paths has finished now (after all that the Outcasts won the Child!), so Tara is being shelved once again as I return to my favourite faction (oh Colette, never leave me again!). Still, I’ve got a little modelling project in mind for her, and will make sure to break her out again at the start of the next worldwide event – whenever that is!

Take care,

Ben

Divergent Paths – battle report

‘Good, Sophie’ Sandeep nodded as he walked past his students, the air inside the dilapidated building crackling with magical energy. Each of his students was focused on conjuring and controlling a sphere of raw magical energy, the power coursing and writhing as the mages fought to keep them under control. ‘Focus, Nathaniel’ Sandeep warned as he passed another student, the young man visibly trembling as his hands encased the crackling sphere. ‘You need to remain calm. Magic is too volatile to use with such emotions as stress, or fear, or worry, or anger.’ He paused for a moment, involuntarily remembering the times he had unleashed Banasuva in anger, before banishing the thoughts. ‘To master control over the energies in Malifaux, one must…’

Sandeep felt it too late as the very fabric of reality suddenly twisted and broke apart in the classroom, shattering into a myriad of dimensions that tugged at the very edges of sanity. It was all over in a millisecond as Sandeep and his pupils found themselves sprawled on an unfamiliar cobbled street. Rising to his feet, Sandeep looked around as his students helped each other up. He opened his mind, letting his self soar over the ruined buildings around them. There was no sign of the source of their sudden teleportation, but he saw a scattering of Neverborn creatures – Silurids, animated dolls and the writing forms of Insidious Madnesses. Amongst them was a bent and haggard figure, looking as confused as he was. She looked up suddenly with bright, alert eyes quite at odds with her frail body, her gaze piercing the veil as she saw Sandeep. In an instant he called his mind back to his body, finding the reassuring weight of his gada in one hand. Turning to the students around him, he was pleased to see that some of the more experienced mages already had a slight nimbus of magic energy playing around their hands. ‘Ready yourselves, my friends. It seems your practical exam will be taking place sooner than I had planned.’

* * *

The Divergent Paths story encounters were all interesting, but it was this particular Trickster game that most intrigued me. You build a 60 soulstone crew rather than the usual 50, but then your opponent gets to veto two non-master models to be removed from the crew! This ensures a very different kind of crew selection to normal, especially given that you score VP by killing enemy models near the centre of the board. Confident in the knowledge that Izaak would definitely veto any of my usual choices such as Cassandra or the Arcane Emissary, I opted instead to go for a crew of mid-costed models with lots of duplicates. Turns out, he had the same idea in mind…

Sandeep – Arcane Reservoir, To Command Another Plane, Unaligned Sage
Freikorps Librarian
3 Liberated Spellcasters
3 Oxfordian Mages – Temporary Shielding
Mannequin
Wind Gamin
Metal Gamin
Arcane Effigy

Zorida – Animal Shape, Hex Bag, Tarot Reading
2 Alps
2 Bayou Gators
2 Gupps
Iggy -Enraged Tantrum
Insidious Madness
2 Waldgeists
2 Wicked Dolls

Scheme pool: Convict Labour, Hunting Party, Exhaust Their Forces, Detonate the Charges, Mark for Death.

For my two vetoes, I chose both Waldgeists. I had neglected to take anything that could reliably cut through armour, and the idea of having to potentially spend between 4-8 ap putting down each one filled me with dread. In turn, Izaak vetoed one of my Oxfordian Mages and the Freikorps Librarian. I had kind of expected the latter to be knocked out of the crew, but figured at seven soulstones it was worth a shot!

Being blind deployment, everything ended up rather close together. I lucked out somewhat with a huge clump of tome cards in one area, with only the one mask card on the fringe of the group – perhaps unsurprisingly, I deployed Sandeep and all his mages there. The Metal Gamin and the Wind Gamin were left out on the flanks, while the Arcane Effigy was placed in the board corner behind all the Mages. Zorida went in the ruins, while the Gators and Gupps deployed in between her and the assembled Arcanists.

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Blind deployment begins…

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…and the mists clear!

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The crews deploy.

As is always the case with blind deployment, the action began early. One of the Gupps Leapt forward to engage a Liberated Spellcaster, wasting no time in marking her for death before attacking her. But the mage disappeared in a whirl of magical energy as she used Sandeep’s Beacon to take The Path To Salvation, disappearing over the other side of the wall before dropping a scheme marker and hurling a bolt of energy at the nearby Wicked Doll. Following on from her example, one of the Oxfordian Mages sent a flurry of bolts into the diminutive creature, the magical energies shredding its burlap body.

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The mage gunline makes short work of the Wicked Doll.

Nearby, one of Zorida’s Will O’ Wisps exerted its sinister energies over a nearby Spellcaster, the man’s eyes glazing over as he felt compelled to follow the trail of lights leading him away from his colleagues. As the man stumbled blindly forward, Iggy took advantage and sent bolts of fire hurtling towards him, the fiery magics setting his heavy cape on fire. Hoping to press the advantage, Iggy tried to Incite the mage, but surely not as he flipped the black joker… Nope! In a hilarious twist of fate I too flipped the black joker, and the Mage was successfully incited.

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What are the odds? :P

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One of Sandeep’s students sucumbs to Zorida’s formidable magic powers.

Seeing his student in trouble, Sandeep pulled the man back to safety with The Mind Among The Senses before summoning an Ice Gamin with Commands In Wind, placing the frosty creature right in the middle of the mages so as to benefit most of them from the [+] flip.

On the other side of the field, my lone Metal Gamin found itself cornered by another pack of Gupps and a vicious Bayou Gator. Both swampfiends charged the Metal Gamin, but after the barrage of attacks the diminutive metal creature stood unharmed! It managed to walk away from both, before dropping another scheme marker near them. Zorida narrowed her eyes, putting two and two together to make the obvious conclusion, and used Obey to move the Gator and the Gupps away from the scheme marker. Seeing his opportunity, the Wind Gamin fluttered in close to drop a scheme marker near Zorida, while my final Liberated Spellcaster completed the trifecta by placing a third near an Insidious Madness before finishing off a nearby Will O’ Wisp. At the end of the turn, I revealed Plant Explosives to score three VP.

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My plucky Metal Gamin survives the attacks, despite the odds!

The Gupps and the Gator charged back in to continue their assault on the Metal Gamin, but the little creature’s luck held true again as it took a grand total of one wound from the five attacks! Meanwhile, the remaining Wicked Doll used Over The Needle to Poison the wounded Liberated Spellcaster before hitting the trigger to jump into base contact. Seeing an opportunity, the Ice Gamin walked over and Interacted with the Doll to Exhaust it, revealing my second scheme in the process. Sandeep, meanwhile, took it upon himself to lead from the front and moved around to where he could see Iggy before unleashing his Arcane Storm, twin bolts of blue energy hitting the woe and taking him out of the game.

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Sandeep gives his students a practical demonstration as he puts Iggy down in a single activation.

The third turn started with my brave Metal Gamin standing his ground and taking the Defensive Stance action twice in an attempt to weather a third round of attacks. Determined to take him out, the Gator attacked again, taking him down to one wound. The Gupps finally managed to land the finishing blow, flipping the right suit to hit their trigger and evolving into a full Silurid! The remaining set of Gupps Leapt into the Arcanists in an attempt to take out a marked Spellcaster, but the mage dodged their attacks before unleashing a storm of magical energy to take them out of the game. The remaining Spellcaster blasted the Insidious Madness off the board. The Wind Gamin attempted to fly away from Zorida, but the old crone was more dangerous than she looked, and held the little creature in place – just as her other Gator moved in to attack, killing the marked Gamin. Unfortunately, though, thanks to To The Sky the little creature was buried rather than being killed, and didn’t score any VP from Mark For Death for the Neverborn.

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The Gator and Gupps finally finish off my Metal Gamin, and the Gupps rapidly evolve into a fully-grown Silurid!

At that point, with the Arcanists in the lead by 7vp to 1 and with so few models left, my opponent conceded the game. Pictures are courtesy of him too, since he’s far better at remembering to take regular photos than I am!

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Shifting into the form of a raven, Zorida flees the field to leave the Arcanists victorious.

I really enjoyed this scenario, even if I did feel quite bad during the game itself as it quickly became evident that my crew selection was all but perfect to deal with Izaak’s. The ideal of vetoing is really interesting, and forces you to build a very different crew to normal. I would not be averse to giving this scenario a go again sometime, it’s great fun and really makes you think about your crew in a different way :)

Take care,

-Ben

Divergent Paths – week 1

I’ve played my first two Divergent Paths games this week, attempting to rescue the child from the clutches of the Ten Thunders as well as the Guild’s Witchling Stalkers, and trying to spring the man from the Guild jail card before Som’er Teeth Jones and his Gremlins could grab him. In a rather interesting evening, I actually played both of these games at once – since there were three of us and the Divergent Paths encounters don’t really allow for three players, I agreed to challenge myself and play two games at once. It certainly helped me to make snap decisions rather than over-thinking moves, though I have to admit that I found remembering the schemes the worst part – I did forget Cursed Object for two straight turns in one game :/ In my defence, playing two games at the same time after a full day at work is quite taxing!

* * *

The child stumbled through the ruins of the trainyard, scrambling over rusted tracks and past abandoned carriages. Behind her, she could hear the padded footsteps and canine-like snuffling of the hooded creatures pursuing her. She had no idea what they would do if they caught her, but some deep intuition told her that she didn’t want to find out. Suddenly she slipped and fell on the cobblestones, grazing her hands on the rough brickwork. Looking back, she saw a sheet of ice starting to form over the uneven ground of the railyard, and snowflakes started to drift lazily through the air as the temperature plummeted to a freezing chill. Snow? In July?

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The child marker stumbled through the frosty trainyard.

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Rasputina and her Arcanists enter the area.

This game saw McCabe leading the Ten Thunders as they attempted to grab the girl, opposed by my Rasputina and her Cult. The game started with the Katanaka Sniper deploying right next to the child, though this advantage was short-lived as Rasputina blasted him with a barrage of ice, taking him out of the game early on. Snowstorm moved up to support her, using December’s Command to pull the Blessed of December forward, who Leapt forward to interact and push the child towards the Arcanists.

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Snowstorm assists the Blessed in pushing the child towards the Arcanist lines.

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McCabe / Rollins finds his way suddenly blocked by pillars of sheer ice.

McCabe and his Mounted Guild Guard moved up to give chase, but found themselves stalled by the dense terrain and a set of Ice Pillars summoned by the Wendigo. With the child safely behind Arcanist lines, I attempted to deal with the pursuing Witchling Stalkers. The Ten Thunders were faster, though, taking out three of them before I could even get a model in range. Rasputina finally managed to draw a bead on one and hit it with a blizzard of ice, obliterating the creature before it could reach the child. After a tense battle in the corners as both sides attempted to score for Power Ritual, the game ended in a 9-8 win for the Arcanists.

* * *

The man was pushed into the wagon by a couple of surly Guild Guard, still protesting against their treatment of him. Slapping one side of the wagon to alert the driver, the Guardsmen fell into step as the prison cart lurched forward to leave the station. Before it could, however, two of the Guardsmen were cut down by a hail of inaccurate rifle fire while the other two were set upon by Malifaux Raptors, unable to even draw their sabres before the creatures were upon them. The wagon jolted forward as the driver desperately attempted to flee the ambush…

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Beasts of all forms emerge from the woods near the station.

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With its prisoner loaded, the Guild prison cart prepares to leave the station.

The game started with a hoedown as the Gremlin Banjonista started ‘playing’, the surrounding Gremlins shuffling forward in one big group. Som’er called even more Bayou Gremlins from the nearby forest, bolstering his numbers as Marcus led his beasts in a cautious advance. This proved to be their undoing, as – with a little help from Trixie’s ability to cheat the initiative flip – the Gremlins managed to spring the man from the Guild wagon. Most of Marcus’s beasts moved forward to try and intercept the man, while the Rogue Necromancy broke ranks to chase down a Rooster Rider.

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Intent on capturing the man for their own purposes, Som’er and his Gremlins emerge from the opposite treeline.

A madcap brawl began around the wagon and the escaped prisoner, with the self-righteous man being pushed backwards and forwards as Gremlins and Arcanists alike managed to find a break in the scrum to get out of engagement and take an interact action. Luther Leapt into the fray, tearing his way through the Gremlins as Trixie and Lenny battered their way through Marcus’s Canine Remains. The Dawn Serpent sat in the middle of it all, absolutely loving it as it healed back 9 wounds each turn with Call Unto The Chi. By the time the game finished, both sides had racked up 8vp for a draw. There’s not actually an option right now on the Divergent Paths form for a draw, so this might call for a rematch at the weekend!

Take care,

Ben

Malifaux tournament report: Summer of Slaughter

At the weekend, I drove down to The Wargame Store in Wirral for their Summer Of Slaughter Malifaux tournament. Three games, with a little twist in that you had to write two 50ss lists first and then choose one to use each game. The strategies and schemes were released in advance, with round 1 being Guard the Stash (Corner Deployment: Convict Labor, Take Prisoner, Hunting Party, Undercover Entourage, Detonate The Charges), round 2 Turf War (Standard Deployment: A Line in the Sand, Protect Territory, Bodyguard, Vendetta, Deliver a Message), and Round 3 Reckoning (Flank Deployment: A Line in the Sand, Assassinate, Breakthrough, Vendetta, Frame for Murder). I spent a few evenings uhm-ing and aah-ing over which lists to take, and – after all that – ended up rewriting one completely on the morning of the tournament. The lists I took ended up being:

Crew 1
Colette du Bois
-Arcane Reservoir, Shell Game, Seize the Day
Cassandra
-Smoke & Mirrors, Recharge Soulstone
Coryphee
Coryphee
Angelica
-Practised Production
December Acolyte
Malifaux Child

Crew 2
Colette du Bois
-Arcane Reservoir, Shell Game, Cabaret Choreography
Cassandra
-Smoke & Mirrors
Arcane Emissary
-Illusive Conflux
Angelica
-Practised Production
Performer
Mannequin
Union Miner

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I was a hipster Arcanist and used one of the Avatar Colette models all day :)

I chose Colette for both lists for a couple of reasons. First and perhaps most importantly, she’s my favourite master – I find her very easy and intuitive to use, and I really enjoy every game I use her. Secondly, I always think that she’s a very versatile master, and to my eyes she was well-suited to the scheme pool in all three games. The first list was a more elite, hard-hitting crew intended for round three, while the second one had a bit more flexibility that I hoped would suit the first two rounds.

20160702_11363220160702_123307Round 1 (above pictures) saw me go up against the Ten Thunders, led by Shenlong. I opted for list two, choosing to deploy first and grouping most of my models near Ms du Bois. The Emissary and Angelica split off down the right flank to cut off my opponent’s Tengu before they could start their scheme-marker shenanigans, while the rest of the crew headed towards the left stash marker. One of the Tengu strayed into the 12″ threat range of the Emissary, allowing me to charge and kill it. Meanwhile, Cassandra led the Union Miner and Performer over to the second stash marker, throwing out scheme markers as they went in preparation for Set Up. Next turn saw the Emissary charge the second Tengu, killing it and eliminating the Ten Thunders presence on the right stash marker while Angelica moved up to claim it for the Arcanists. Shenlong used his Mighty Gust to move three scheme markers forward, with a Thunders Brother nearby to prevent the Performer removing them. I stalled for time by activating other models before activating Cassandra, who moved forward to put down the last scheme marker so I could score the full 3vp from Set Up, and Colette, who used Prompt to move the rest of my models away from the scheme markers. Both of us revealed Set Up at the end of the turn; I scored the full 3vp, while my opponent scored 1vp as I’d neglected to check Cassandra’s proximity to one scheme marker. Turn four saw Shenlong make a dash into my deployment zone, while Cassandra dashed into my opponent’s deployment zone, dropping down a scheme marker so Colette could do one of my favourite tricks and teleport over at the last second with her Disappearing Act. Both of us scored 3vp for Undercover Entourage, and the game ended with an 8-4 win for the Arcanists.

20160702_14302320160702_143026Game 2 (again, above pictures) saw me face off against another Ten Thunders player, also using Shenlong. I opted for list 2 again, deploying fairly centrally. The first couple of turns saw both crews moving up, with Shenlong accompanied by Izamu on the turf war point. I jumped the Emissary forward using the (0) Minor Teleport to Deliver a Message to Shenlong, earning 2 vp as I don’t like revealing Deliver a Message. However, things started to go pear-shaped as my opponent’s Tengu and Thunder Brother moved down one flank with a host of scheme markers thanks to Shenlong’s Mighty Gust, while his Katanaka Sniper flipped the Red Joker for damage and took out my Emissary. I moved my Performer over to counter the Protect Territory attempt, but fatally forgot about Protect our Holdings. Colette and Cassandra did a good job of dropping down scheme markers for my Protect Territory, though a last-minute Mighty Gust from Shenlong pushed Colette away, knocking me down from 3vp to 2, and a couple of points for Bodyguard on Sensei Yu finished the game with a 5-8 loss. While my stupid mistake with the Performer and the Thunders Brother cost me dearly, I also think that Izamu was a major point – while he didn’t go on the killing spree I expected, I just didn’t have the tools to deal with him (particularly once the Emissary was out of the game). In hindsight, my first list may have been able to deal with my opponent’s crew more easily due to the Acolyte’s Smell Weakness action and the Corypheé’s general offensive power.

Onwards to game three! (No pictures, because I forgot to take any in the excitement) Finally, I got to play against a master other than Shenlong. This time, my opponent was running Seamus, and I finally selected list 1. Unfortunately the table was fairly open around the centre in terms of terrain, giving the mad hatter’s Belles a superb view of large swathes of the board. One of my Coryphée was Lured right into the heart of the undead thanks to Madame Sybelle’s Not Too Banged Up upgrade. Colette managed to save it, Prompting it back to its dance partner, but was then dragged in herself. I managed to save her with Cassandra, though barely as Colette limped back to join my crew with one wound left and very few soulstones. The Coryphée danced together into a duet, cutting down a Nurse and a Belle to score a Reckoning point for me. Mortimer poisoned Colette, and my final attempt to save her lay in the Malifaux Child. With no cards in hand, I top-decked the high ram needed to successfully cast Misplaced Trust… only to flip the Black Joker for the healing flip. Despite Colette being out of the game, the rest of the game went my way as Angelica moved up to drop down scheme markers for Breakthrough, while Seamus took the bait and killed my December Acolyte to score me another 3vp for Frame for Murder. Cassandra mopped up the scheme marker Mortimer had dropped, and the game ended with a 6-1 victory for the Arcanists.

It was a great day, and many thanks to all my opponents as well as David for organising it. I placed third overall, which I’m rather pleased with.

Take care,

Ben