Kill-Team battle reports

In preparation for an event I’m attending in the near future, some friends and I met up one evening last week for a couple of kill-team games. I’d already decided what kill-team I want to use at this event, going for a Tyranid force comprised of:

Broodlord – kill-team Leader with the Been there, Seen it, Done it trait and (subsequently) the Feel No Pain Indomitable Specialist skill.
3 Genestealers
1 Genestealer with Scything Talons.
1 Genestealer – Dirty Fighter Specialist with the Murderous Blows skill.
1 Genestealer – Guerilla Specialist with the Preferred Enemy skill.
1 Zoanthrope – Weapon Specialist with the Expert Shot skill.

Total: 196pts

I’ve been having great fun playing my Tyranids since restarting them recently, and the idea of an alien kill-team is really enjoyable. Plus, it means that I get to make loads of Aliens / Starship Troopers / Jurassic Park references during each game (‘How could they cut the power, man!? They’re animals!‘ ‘You kill anything that has more than two legs, you get me?‘ ‘Shoot her!‘). Unfortunately I haven’t finished painting my Broodlord yet and, more importantly, the Zoanthropes I’ve ordered hadn’t arrived. Luckily, my friends graciously let me use a Ripper Swarm as a stand-in, since they’re both on the same size base. Psychic Rippers, now there’s a terrifying thought – something for the Hive Mind to start evolving for 8th edition!

* * *

The night was still, the quiet broken only by the chirruping of the local wildlife amongst the ruins. Estoria’s three moons hung low in the sky, bathing the world in a feeble light and casting a monochrome shade over the crumbling buildings. Their pale moonlight illuminated the PDF trenchline as it snaked its way through the city, but the encampment was abandoned. No men manned the vantage points, no soldiers sat at the guns. It was as if the whole company had simply vanished without a trace.

The Space Marines moved almost silently despite their size, panning their boltguns around in slow, sweeping motions. Each Astartes moved in unison, covering each other as the squad advanced. Ahead, Battle-Brother Kurt held up one gauntleted hand for the squad to stop, the other gripping his auspex. His voice crackled over the comm-links in their helmets. ‘Brothers, I read movement ahead. Multiple signals in the ruins, and closing.’

‘Brother Nova, join him to investigate. Brothers Nate and Shiflett, form a secondary team and follow my lead’ Brother-Sergeant Grohl ordered. Fanning out, the Space Marines moved cautiously forward.

All around, in the darkness of the ruins, alien eyes watched them.

* * *

Game one pitted my bugs against Mark’s Space Marines in a game of Head Hunt. His forces consisted of four Space Marines led by their leader, Brother-Sergeant Grohl, and accompanied by heavy armour in the form of a a lascannon-armed Razorback tank. The Space Marines deployed close together, with the Razorback and three marines kept in reserve thanks to Brother-Sergeant Grohl’s A Cunning Ruse ability. I deployed most of my Genestealers hidden away in the ruins, with the Broodlord on a separate flank and the Zoanthrope – as the only model without Infiltrate – a bit further back in my deployment zone.

The Space Marines fan out as the Genestealers creep through the ruins.

Getting closer and closer…

The game started slowly as the Genestealers clung to the shadows of the ruins, avoiding the incoming fire from the Space Marines. At the start of the second turn the Razorback roared onto the board, its twin-linked lascannon turret traversing and blasting a shot at my Broodlord. She was clearly a tough specimen, however, as she shrugged off the potent shot. In response, my Genestealers moved out of cover and prepared to assault. The Broodlord thundered into the newly-arrived Astartes tank, her razor-sharp rending claws cutting through the armour and immobilizing the vehicle with a shriek of tortured gears. Meanwhile, one of the Genestealers scrambled up the side of the nearby abandoned PDF trenchline, launching itself at Brother-Sergeant Grohl in a diving charge. Sensing the creature, the Brother-Sergeant swung around, his arcane plasma pistol already in his armoured hand… only for calamity to strike as the fusion coils of the weapon overheated, detonating in a spectacular white-hot explosion and vaporizing the unfortunate marine.

Brother-Sergeant Grohl about to meet his end.

The Broodlord engages the Razorback.

Undeterred by this loss, his fellow marines pumped bolter rounds and meltagun shots into the Broodlord, but she continued to be tenacious and shrugged off all but one of the wounds thanks to Feel No Pain. The Genestealers, meanwhile, quickly closed the gap and started attacking the Astartes in close quarters as the Broodlord continued to attack the Razorback, her claws tearing off the turret and leaving the vehicle helpless. As turn five drew to a close, we rolled to see if the game would continue. Rolling a one, the game ended with every Tyranid model still alive (somehow!) and a 7-0 victory to the Tyranids.

A wave of chitin and claw falls upon the surviving Space Marines.

* * *

Colonel Jenson sipped the mug of hot recaff as much to warm his hands as to wake him up. Nights were bitter and cold on this Emperor-forsaken rock, and long too. Due to some quirk of the planet’s rotation, nights stretched to twenty Terran hours, leaving little of each day in the pale light of the sun.

He didn’t even know why they were here, to be honest. Command had briefed him about some insurgent rebellion, but by the time the regiment had arrived it seemed to be all but dealt with. Yet they were still stuck here, garrisoned out in the edges of the city.

All around him, giant floodlights were mounted on poles, cables trailing to and from generators which buzzed with a constant low hum. Despite their power, the lights barely penetrated the night, the darkness seeming to almost swallow up the light. Jenson didn’t care. Just a couple more hours of tedious sentry duty before his platoon was relieved, and he could retire to the officer’s quarters for some proper rest.

His reverie was broken by a shout from one of the sentries. ‘Look sir, movement!’ Straining his eyes into the darkness, Jenson glimpsed what the sentry had seen – inhuman multi-limbed shapes moving towards their position – and fast. Dropping his mug and drawing his plasma pistol, he shouted orders to his men. ‘Forward positions, two ranks! Targets at six o’clock, light them up!’ Around him Guardsmen scrambled forward to the sandbags, the distinctive snap-crack of lasguns piercing the night as the shadowy alien creatures abandoned stealth and dashed forward towards the line.

* * *

We rolled the Infiltrate the Camp scenario for my second game – this time taking on Tom and his Imperial Guard garrison. I won the roll-off to decide who was the attacker, and it seemed appropriate for the Tyranids to be trying to run through an Imperial Guard road-block. I deployed my force on one flank, hoping to maximise the cover to close the distance without too many casualties. In response, Tom’s Guardsmen deployed opposite, creating a two-man deep wall of bodies and lasguns. As the night started to fade away, my Tyranids prepared to run the gauntlet to punch through the Imperial lines!

The Imperial Guard blockade.

My Tyranids hug cover as they prepare to advance on the road block.

The Tyranids moved up the board with surprisingly few casualties, mainly due to the difference between the lasgun’s strength of 3 and the fact that all my models were at least toughness 4. Drawing upon the powers of its advanced mind, the Zoanthrope vaporized a few of the Guardsmen with its Warp Blast, scoring me a vp for First Blood and thinning down the line a little. A couple of Genestealers were gunned down by the Guardsmen, with a third killed by overwatch shots as it attempted to charge.

‘Fall back! Fall back!’ The Guardsmen panic as the Genestealers reach their lines and start to break through.

Having survived the barrage of lasgun fire, the remaining Genestealers cut their way through the Imperial Guardsmen.

The rest of the Genestealers, led by the Broodlord, made it into combat and promptly started to cut a swathe through the defenders in an attempt to break through to the table edge behind them. At the end of turn five I’d managed to get most of my remaining models behind the Guardsmen, with the Broodlord, Zoanthrope and a Genestealer running off the board at the start of turn six. The remaining two Genestealers chanced their luck, charging an unlucky Guardsman who was loitering too close to the board edge. The first Genestealer disembowelled the unfortunate man, and both managed to roll high enough to consolidate off the board. With five models escaped and three killed, the game ended in a 6-1 victory for the Tyranids!

The survivors of my kill-team who made it off the board, ready to now wreak some havoc behind Imperial lines!

Two very fun games, and I’m pretty happy with my kill-team. Just need to finish painting my Broodlord and the objective markers, and paint the Zoanthrope (which has now arrived). Hopefully I’ll get some more games in soon, and will report back!

Take care,

Ben

Advertisements

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

My first X-Wing tournament

Last weekend, I attended my first X-Wing tournament at Fanboy Three in Manchester. Driving down with a friend, I brought a slightly modified version of the list I’d originally intended to use at a tournament last year (which in the end I couldn’t make it to, sadly). It features my favourite ship, the IG-2000, with matching upgrades to minimise chances of me forgetting anything(!).

IG-88B (36)
Veteran Instincts (1)
Heavy Laser Cannon (7)
Fire Control System (2)
IG2000 title (0)
Black Market Slicer Tools (1)
Autothrusters (2)

IG-88C (36)
Veteran Instincts (1)
Heavy Laser Cannon (7)
Fire Control System (2)
IG2000 title (0)
Black Market Slicer Tools (1)
Autothrusters (2)

ig2000My first game pitted me against another scum player, with a beautifully-repainted Firespray piloted by Kath Scarlett and a Shadow Caster with Asaaj Ventress. For the first half of the game my green dice were perfect, with both IG’s dodging all fire like they were teflon-coated! I managed to put down Kath with some focused heavy laser cannon fire, but lost IG-88B shortly afterwards to the Shadow Caster, and IG-88C took some heavy damage that left him without shields and only one hull left. I quickly realised that I couldn’t afford to turn my remaining shieldless IG-2000 around with a K-turn or Sengor’s Loop as I wouldn’t be able to chew through her remaining hull before she took me down with the return fire, and so kept boosting away to try and reach the end of the time limit – at which point the game would be decided by a final salvo, where the odds were slightly better for me. By this point we were reaching the end of the round, and time was called on my opponent’s turn. He completed his last manoeuvre, took his last shot – and, with a roll of blanks that balanced out my epic rolling earlier, IG-88C was shot out of the sky.

20170122_123823

And so game one begins…

20170122_131203

My first kill of the day! Kath Scarlett is focused down by my two assassin droids.

Amusingly, my second game was against my regular opponent who had come down with me! He was running the Millennium Falcon piloted by Han Solo, with Corran Horn in his E-Wing. I managed to get IG-88B behind the Falcon with his S-loop, while IG-88C turned around to flank Han. Unfortunately the Falcon then had a couple of bad turns where it hit asteroids, preventing it from firing back and allowing the assassin droids to take it down with sustained heavy laser cannon fire. Corran Horn swung back into the fight, but wasn’t able to face off against both IG’s at once, and went down to their guns in short order for a 100-0 victory. I felt quite bad about this one, as it could have been very different if the Falcon hadn’t hit those asteroids two turns in a row!

My third game was against the might of the Empire, featuring the Inquisitor in his TIE Advanced, Colonel Vessery and Omega Leader. Most of our ships deployed down one side of the board, with the Inquisitor on the opposite side. The first few turns were filled with jousting as both my IG’s and my opponent’s TIE/fo & Defender K-turning repeatedly. IG-88B was hammered by Vessery and taken down to his last hull point before I managed to finish off Omega Leader. IG-88B fell soon after as the Inquisitor raced into the fight, leaving IG-88C alone again. Not for long, though, as the combined firepower of the Imperial aces cut him down. Chatting with my opponent after the game, he confided that my mistake was going after Omega Leader – seeing his pilot ability and considering my usual reliance on the target locks from Fire Control System, I’d assumed that he should be my priority target – but he advised that I should’ve gone for one of the damage-dealers and left the TIE/fo for last. Lesson learned!

20170122_155148

I try to joust against Vessery and Omega Leader.

20170122_161525

IG-88C swings around with a Sengor’s Loop as IG-88B flees with one hull left!

My final game put me up against the Imperials again – Rear Admiral Chinnerau with Darth Vader and a Gunner on board, and a TIE Phantom piloted by Whisper. I like using the Phantom myself but haven’t really been on the receiving end, so was wary of the decloak shenanigans that she can pull. Once again in a moment of deja vu IG-88B was the first to be shot down, leaving his fellow brobot alone. I put Whisper down with a burst of range 1 firepower, leaving each of us with just one ship left. It was at this point that I realised how deadly his crew combination was, as Chinnerau doesn’t actually need to even hit in order to trigger Vader – so, thanks to his Gunner, he was able to potentially trigger Vader twice a turn. We finally ended up facing each other down, IG-88C on three hull points with a focus token, and Chinnerau on five hull. He attacked, rolling one hit, and I rolled three eyeballs for my defence. Considering the earlier turns where I’d managed to evade Chinnerau’s shots only to be hit twice by Vader, I opted to take the hit in the hopes of being able to return fire and finish off Chinnerau. He chose to use Vader’s ability…. and I flipped a direct hit from my deck, finishing off IG-88C. A very close game in the end!

20170122_172329

I learn first-hand how deadly Darth Vader is!

After all that, the day was great fun and I certainly learnt some lessons on X-Wing tacticsa and strategies. All of my opponents were really nice people, and all the games were really enjoyable. It was nice that two of the three losses were rather close games that could have gone either way. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye open for any other X-Wing tournaments near me in the future.

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.

20161106_132243

Blind deployment begins…

20161106_132315

…and the mists clear!

20161106_133323

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.

20161106_140005

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.

20161106_135728

What are the odds? :P

20161106_140015

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.

20161106_140018

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.

20161106_142645

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.

20161106_145722

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!

20161106_145724

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

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

DSCF7698

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

Painter’s block

As you may have guessed from the lack of recent posts, I’ve had a bit of what I suppose we should call painter’s block over the past few weeks. I can’t attribute it to a lack of time, or indeed models to paint given that I’ve a sizeable Frostgrave crew sitting on my table. Instead, I’ve been struggling to find the motivation to pick up a brush and start painting, and have instead been falling back on games that don’t require painting such as X-Wing and Magic: The Gathering. The EU Referendum hasn’t helped, either, but I shall avoid talking about that as this blog is meant to be about wargaming, not my political stance.

I did force myself to sit down on Sunday evening, planning both assembly (a Johan model I won at a tournament a while ago) and painting (my old metal Rasputina model, and Kirai – I don’t play Ressers, but she’s a lovely model and I have had a paint scheme in mind for ages now). I have repainted an A-Wing for Fantasy Flight’s X-Wing Miniatures Game in the last couple of days, however, which was great fun. I’d consider X-Wing to be my second game – it’s fast-paced, fun and, rather crucially, straightforward in terms of mechanics. The phrase, ‘Easy to learn, difficult to master’ has never been so true!

I started off X-Wing playing just the Empire – mainly because they could hire Boba Fett while the Rebels couldn’t. This was back in the early days before Scum & Villainy were a faction, of course. However, as of late (and due in no small part to the co-operative X-Wing campaign I’ve been playing in), I’ve begun to emulate my favourite TIE pilot, Soontir Fel, and started to defect to the Rebellion. This was brought about by the A-Wing in particular – the nippy little ship with its incredible dial chock-full of fast, green manoeuvres won me over. To me, they’re such fun to fly and encapsulate what drew me into X-Wing in the first place (well, alongside Boba Fett and the fact it’s Star Wars. I mean, come on – it’s Star Wars!) – the fast ships. I love the high-speed dogfights as ships vie and jockey for position, dancing around one another as they attempt to lock the other pilot in their sights while avoiding their enemy doing the same. Sure, I enjoy flying the slower or larger ships such as the TIE Bomber too, but ships like the A-Wing and the TIE Interceptor are what X-Wing is all about to me.

20160624_091011Back on tangent (stay on target…), here’s the repainted Green Squadron A-Wing. I started by dulling the model with a wash of Nuln Oil, giving some more depth to the detailing on the fuselage. The red parts were then painted in P3’s green, before being highlighted in a mix of Loren Green and P3 green. This was then washed with . Finally, I picked out the lines on the engine and the cockpit in a mix of Army Painter matt white and GW Astronomicon Grey, and repainted the missile tips in Cygnar blue base. I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out, and am really looking forward to using it in this week’s campaign game. I’ve been informed that we’ll be dogfighting planetside this week as opposed to in space, so I’ll have to try and get some pictures…

Take care,

Ben