Monday, 8 February 2016

Fast Dragon, Slow Grow Week Two - Zodiac Calender Brawl

Game two for Misaki and now she's facing down the Tyrant of Plague: Hamelin.

This game allowed another style vs style game, being able to choose between a killy list and a more defensive list and both being valid strategies.
Flank Deployment
Squatter's Rights
A Line in the Sand
Make Them Suffer
Protect Territory

Facing down a master that is known for flooding the board with peons, Make them Suffer was an obvious choice; with the sole way of shutting me down being running a Malifaux Rat FAR away from Misaki and then never using Blighted or accidentally summoning off of his own models. Which lets face it, shuts Hamelin down. 3Vp in the bag easy. My next choice was either between the ever present Protect Territory or risking Bodyguard, I decided on the latter due to Rat King being well known for eating all of the scheme markers.

Onto the list:

Misaki retained her pet Shang and Stalking Bisento, adding Smoke & Shadows for the (future) two main-stays: Torakage. Being able to relocate a model who's safely buried until end of turn means, if I have the suit available that is, having no wasted turns trying to get up the board to assist. In this game and the couple of 50ss I've had playing it, it's always helped being able to Bamf a ninja to either far outside of combat or to wade in getting that sweet sweet Works Best Alone.

As I was deeply afraid of my models becoming slightly more English (Blighted), I added in Chiaki, the Neice in order to save the team from being wiped out by the black death. Being able to remove any possible Blighted, alongside Paralyze or the dreaded Sick in Bed condition.
Also being out of the way and never really stepping up to front lines means I can bluff Protect Territory whilst safely being away from deployment scoring fairly easily for Bodyguard.

Taelor I hired because Welcome to Malifaux scares summoners. Sometimes it doesn't matter, sometimes it creates bad plays and sometimes it gets Taelor dead. In this game she had the added benefit that she could be within 7" of Hamelin and garner the "Oh yay, Relic hammer" response (Walk + Hammer) forcing a move or getting anything in the way of her if the Stolen are taken care of. I didn't mind what happened so long as Taelor was able to get into combat and be the biggest target to deal with, allowing the Torakage a bit more wiggle room and keeping Chiaki safe from attention.

My opponent played a defensive list of Hamelin with his Anti-Charge aura (safe bet against Misaki), The Stolen, 2 Malifaux Rats, Freikcorps Trapper, Freikorps Librarian, and Ama No Zako, he revealed Outflank and Protect Territory.

First turn I got initiative and made Misaki lay waste to a From the Shadows Trapper to stop him taking pot shots at my fast-yet-weak crew. Stalked feels wasted when the upgrade gives you a (0) attack but auto-focus on Misaki's Bisento attacks is brutal no matter how many there are. I don't know weather my opponent planned for this to happen to get Misaki far away from the action but regardless the Trapper was a threat that needed dealing with.
My opponent spent the first turn making Ama No Zako walk and place a scheme marker, sacrificing the Stolen to summon 2 rats next to the two hired ones to create a Rat King to then Gnaw the placed scheme marker and move toward the second closest Squat marker to ready a claim next turn. My crew moved into positions that allowed them to next turn Walk-Interact second closest marker on my side and head up to the center. I normally hate Flank Deployment but having to play it so much recently I've come to respect it despite how it messes with my standard deployment ranges game.

Second turn was the marker claim turn. Misaki claimed the marker she wiped the Trapper's blood from and Stalked Ama No Zako. Ama No Zako claimed a marker and then walked to the furthest marker on his side. The Rat King was placed just outside of Hamelin's bubble allowing Taelor to take it down in one activation. Hamelin responded by Summoning two Stolen and then Obey'd Ama No Zako twice to walk up to and then take the Squat Marker. One Torakage took the second marker and walked towards the incoming melee whilst the second killed a Stolen that for some reason walked up to him, scoring the first Make them Suffer Vp.
This was a sticking point for me as it happened all game, The Stolen running into my models. I asked my opponent about it afterwards and he said that the Stolen are good at three things: making Rats, giving Blighted and handing out paralyze checks. But if he was giving out Make Them Suffer, why not flood the table with Rats? If he was avoiding giving Vp away, why run Stolen in to be murdered? I don't know if the easy Blighted and Paralyze check was worth it personally.

Turn three was the turning point, with Squatter's Rights safely in the bag for both players, it was time for murder, or at least attempted murder. Ama No Zako waded into the center of a Torakage, Taelor and the second Torakage and threw up some Miasma of Boils and Flies. Taelor killed a Rat that appeared scoring Make them Suffer and hit A.N.Z for weak. Torakage hit twice for weak one damages but the second Bamf'd out burying for the turn. The Librarian then healed Ama a decent amount resetting the clock.
Hamelin then Obey'd 'No Zaka to Focus then Obey'd her to attack Taelor... hitting a black joker. Man for a 1-in-54 chance, that black joker shows up at the worst moments. At the end of Turn 3, Torakage Bamf'd into the Librarian's face ready for face smashing.

Turn 4 the Torakage smashed academic face as promised. Misaki finally got into combat and Red Joker'd an Assassinate trigger into Ama No Zako (who once again Black Joker'd her focus attack, poor Oni) leaving Hamelin in the incredibly rare position of being out-activated. Another Stolen was killed and a marker was taken forcing a submission from my opponent. Chiaki being in place for full Bodyguard and full Make Them Suffer Vp to his 2vp from Squatters with no way to climb back, it would have been folly to continue other than seeing a board wipe.

It was a rough game. Facing Misaki with Make Them Suffer in the pool is hard enough for a summoner but trying to play a master like Hamelin without the Rat engine put the final nail in the coffin. The post game chat revealed that if he had played the game 3vp down knowing I'll be gunning for the Rats and the Stolen before other targets, the Rat engine would have overrun my non-blast list and tar-pitted the crud out me whilst he scored Outflank and Protect Terri.

This is what Slow Grows are for though, to be put into difficult situations and learn from them. What do you do when your master is blatantly giving away points? What happens when you can't do the one thing your master is known for and forced to do their secondary role?
My opponent realized in this game just how powerful Ama No Zako can be looking back at her presence in the game. 
If Ama didn't run into the black joker (twice) Hazardous Terrain with two lots of Min-damage 3 attacks and a zero obey to use other models to hit their allies would have ENDED my crew. Ama tied up two Torakage and Taelor, if she was able to hit already damaged Taelor twice it wouldn't be a long shot to expect Hazardous Terrain to finish off all three the next time they activated. Next turn, tank the damage take out all three with an Obey action on top of two attacks, heal up, job done.

Alas, I didn't learn much of anything with Misaki this game, due to the landslide nature of the game seeing Misaki kill stuff could have been safely assumed. Had the Rat swarm happened and branched out, Misaki and Taelor might have been able to dash around the table but until I get a re-match against The Pied Piper it will all be theoryfaux.

Onto my next game on week three, where I'll be playing <Sigh> Reckoning... Well all I can do is hope for a bad match up in order to really get the feel for Misaki's weak points. Until then, avoid that black joker at all costs and have fun out there.

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