Monday, 16 November 2015

The Assault on the Visibly Greying Lord

Oh boy, this was a challenging game.

I played a game of Malifaux earlier this week using the Crossroads encounter: The Assault on the Grey Lord as our strategy. To win, I, the defender, needed to keep as many serving girl markers on the board as I could whilst my opponent, the attacker, had to use (1) interact actions to push the markers 6" and eventually off the board and take down my master. The game was pretty much over by the first activation... but before that, the nitty gritty:

Special Terrain: Saloon
This gave the center of the table a Ht1 3x3 soft cover, severe terrain piece that allowed any model within 1" of it to use a (2) interact in order to heal 3/5/7. It removes all flight from models and also provides 4 Chair markers that can be discarded to be used as a makeshift Sh5 Rg:10 action dealing 2/3/7 damage.

A Line in the Sand
Cursed Object
Assassinate (really?)
Bodyguard (really really?)
Outflank (oh come on!)

My Crew:
Yan Lo w/ Fortify the Spirit, Misdirection & Reliquary (Full Cache)
Soul Porter
Clockwork Trap
Izamu, the Armor
Yin, The Penangalan w/ Smoke Grenades
Chiaki, the Niece w/ Pull of the Grave
2x Torakage
I chose A Line in the Sand as I'm already on the center line, and Cursed Object as it was the only other viable scheme. These schemes sucked quite honestly. Yan Lo isn't a killy master so Assassinate was out and Bodyguard needs a Henchman/enforcer who is either very quick or unimpeded, neither of which I had. In normal games Bodyguard is accomplished by having said Henchman/Enforcer move up but stay out of the way, in such close, disadvantageous deployment, it would never work.   

Opponent's Crew
Perdita Ortega (Leader) w/ Trick Shooting & Aura Ancestral (6ss Cache)
Sonnia Criid
Enslaved Nephilim
Brutal Effigy
Death Marshall
Francisco Ortega
2x Guild Austringer
Papa Loco
Witchling Stalker
My opponent on the other hand loved this scheme pool, Assassinate when 2Vp from the strategy is killing the master means 5Vp from the death of one master. Killing masters is normally very hard to do but with that same master being 12" away and in the presence of two masters turn one, it suddenly becomes a piece of delicious soft cake. He also took Bodyguard on Papa Loca as why not, he'll be in a pine box half the game anyway. 

As you can no doubt tell, I was at a disadvantage from the get-go, 10 activations to 7, he could deploy on any table edge he felt I had my weakest flank on and because of the 6" radius around the center and I was close enough for him to alpha strike with ease.
I decided that Izamu should stay dead center and protect best he can the serving girl markers, my theory being that the center is indeed the farthest point from the table edges and Izamu would do better in melee than Yin would. The Torakage hugged the house on the outskirts of the 6" deployment whilst Chiaki readied herself with a chair. Yin camped out in a forest giving her the protection of triple-negative flips to attacks against her from range due to Mass of Viscera, Soft Cover and Smoke Grenades with the hope that her fear behind the eyes and severe terrain would stop any would be chargers.

My opponent put his Austringers on the flanks but otherwise deployed in an off-central line formation, having two masters naturally allowing for a more bunched up formation. When I saw this I secretly cheered, two masters shoulder-to-shoulder, one of which is not so great in melee, the other I could Misdirect and models close enough to them in order for a successful Thunder dance to keep the mass of his crew busy for two or three turns. Yan Lo could tank the damage, kill off weakened models, gain chi and tar-pit for as long as possible using Terracotta Curse to stall the movements of everyone else. Life is good sometimes.

Turn one and my hand is dreadful, nothing above a 6 with a black joker, I stone for cards and get an 8 & a 9...wooo. Anyway, by some act of god I manage to get the initiative and take no chances, I don't have the turn 1 advantage of assuming I won't be targeted so leave the clockwork trap alone, discard for chi and walk 4" towards my enemies deployment, sadly only in range of Francisco, with his 8Wp stat from Perdita's upgrade.
I take a gamble and attempt a thunder dance, lose. I try again and once again lose... well good game, cya laters.

Yan Lo takes an absolute BEATING, I'm stoning left right and center and somehow he stays alive for the turn. Half way through the onslaught Sonnia rocks up and targets the Clockwork Trap, wonderful I'm thinking and he flips a black joker for attack (even better) but I only manage a tie, looking at my non-hand at this point, I think it better to save cards for additional defense and let the tie go.  I prefer to have the now useless trap dead than Yan Lo at this point.

Double negative flip. Weak damage easy.
My opponent flips the first card. Severe, Whatever.
Flips the second card, Severe... okay, next is weak, I can take it.
Flips the third, SEVERE!? SERIOUSLY!?

You serious?
Yeah, I've obviously angered the Card Gods because that was so damn improbable a parallel universe got created from it's occurrence and slapped me upside the head! Clockwork trap gets hit with 5 damage. Dead. Soul Porter gets the first blast marker and eats 3 damage. Dead. Yan Lo gets hit with the second, stones and prevents 2 damage. Half Dead. Yin takes the third which annoys her as it kind of gets past her invincibility shield I've lovingly gave her.

Sigh it's just one of those games.

At the end of turn one, Yan Lo is at Chi +2, 2Wds and in no way looking forward to the second turn.

Second turn starts and somehow, I get the initiative again. I have exactly two plans, try to walk out of engagement with Francisco with yet another average hand and take a healing flip from the open bar healing a guaranteed 5 Wds; or Thunder Dance over to the two masters by way of Effigy monorail and have them beat on Yan Lo with the risk of Misdirection. I decide with the more like to happen Thunder Dance option seeing as last turn, without much effort, they dropped 10wds off of Lo with ease, giving them target practice with 7Wds seemed fruitless. I get over to them and set off a Terracotta Curse, cursing the Effigy and nearby Death Marshall but getting nothing more than a bored stare from the ladys in red and their mustachio'd henchman. 
2Wds and a death wish? Yan's your man!
I use the last ap to attack Sonnia with no effect. Perdita activates and attacks Lo, I luck out and beat the first attack and on the next attack gain a mid-way mask to get the Misdirection trigger. "Discard two cards or Sonnia takes that attack" I say, my opponent responds by binning an ace and a 3 and lets me know that Yan Lo is taking "weak" 5 damage....

Yan Lo takes a seat next to the Trap and Soul Porter in the losers lounge. The rest of the turn kills off Izamu and one of the Torakage who up until now have been avoiding Sonnia's gaze and laying down scheme markers for Line in the Sand with his brother. I leave turn 2 with Yin, a Torakage and Chiaki (who has been less than useless this game).

Turn 3 begins as well I would have hoped, Yin is taken to the trash whilst Torakage and Chiaki follow closely after. I'm looking forward to these 15ss worth of models to save the day...
Fate hears my silent plea and a staff member at our local store informs us that we'll have to clear the table for a tournament that was happening soon.
Shallow non-victory time! Ending turn three with all 4 LITS markers and all 4 serving girl markers on the table gave me 7vp to my opponent's 5vp he won off killing Yan Lo (Assassinate + Strategy) and denying him Bodyguard as it was unrevealed at the time.
We later discussed that had the game continued, it was too late in the game to remove the Serving girl markers but LITS would have been removed and obviously Bodyguard would have scored full points ending the game with a much more conclusive 8-4 loss to me. Still, default victory. 

Oh man, Assault on the Grey Lord is a challenge but such an interesting game to get one's head around. Basically speaking, the defenders crew will get tabled, one way or another. Being that close to two masters turn one means you don't have that first turn buffer we all enjoy to set up synergies or combos. You have to survive and concentrate on nothing but survival because that is what this scenario asks of you, to be as much of a pain in the neck towards your attackers as possible and prevent those markers from moving. From the center you need at least 3 interact actions to move the serving girl markers off the table and the only way to do that is to set up conveyor belts of models (easily done by the attacker mind you) in order to efficiently remove them from the defenders scoring pool. This in essence means that so long as the defender has a model alive to get in the way of the bullets, blades and magic, those serving girl markers aren't going anywhere.
Even if the master is taken down, with enough resilience, you're still up two points as defender (so long as assassinate isn't in the pool). Get scheme running and focusing on scheme Vp and you have a chance.

I didn't get to the end of the third turn sadly so it's up in the air whether it would have changed up the game enough but seeing as I was tabled by then, having 3 strong 5ss models enter the fray just to ensure LITS kept scoring is a solid option, or maybe just more tough get-in-the-way models.

Final thoughts, this is definitely not a game for the faint of heart, every card in your control hand matters, every bad flip or below average hand can result in death. Every stone you use to improve that bad hand is another stone you could have used to keep your master alive, every soulstone damage prevention flip is another stone you could have used to get better cards or re-flip that close initiative. It's a challenge and makes you really think about every single action you take. Should you stand and attack? Or is it better to go double defensive and weather the storm? These are all questions that will ask yourself constantly during this encounter as defender and one I very much look forward to getting a full time re-match against my opponent.

Keep on improving and have fun out there.

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