Monday, 22 February 2016

Joden is in a Stable Relationship

After fixed master events, you tend to run into the problem that the master you chose kinda sorta gets killed on certain tables. It's nothing new but in these situations the Perdita's, the Levi's, the Lilith's and others get called OP or "Beginner mode" masters simply because their presence on a board requires an action that they are (mostly) very well defended against regardless of the scheme or strategy. Lilith and her crew doesn't NEED to be killed in Squatters Rights but when the Waldgeists have severe soft cover near Lili's dense severe soft cover on top of Squat markers, that whenever you get near or in, Nephilim keep pushing you out of, you sort of have to answer the question which that master is proposing:

Misaki in Growfaux did remarkably well as a whole. Having a master so dedicated to two things: Movement and Death, means that the only weakness she has is bad positioning, which to be fair, I'm quite proficient at. At the same time though, she was very basic. 

Her main theme seems to be having a lack of soulstones and more crew options because of it. Sadly, my Ten Thunders collection is lacking in any sort of defenses or ability to deal that mad damage yo. So when Misaki or Mei Feng take the wheel, they are wholesomely the center of my crew's damage potential, which means even when the heavy hitters: Izamu, Rail Workers, Torakage etc etc get to where they need to be, they are taken out with relative ease and then the master has to charge in anyway. At some point, buying the Dark Debts box for Illuminated, buying the tag-team of Mr Tannen and Mr Graves, then buying the Temple of Dawn box for Sensei Yu and hoping and praying for Ten Thunder's Brothers to come out in plastic means to extend my options in Ten Thunders would take a fairly large chunk out of my wage packet to play Master's that are fun but I have tremendous trouble winning even games with.

Really though, what this event has shown me is that I am so very tired of bad match ups that I bring onto myself. I've tried the single master ideology and it sort of worked with Yan Lo.
Forcing myself to take on every challenge as the underdog; it was with the goal in mind to find a way to make Yan Lo work and in essence I achieved that and gave a more narrowed focus on what his strengths and weaknesses are. With Mei on the other hand, I already know what she does well and what she doesn't so I'm not learning her so much more that I'm re-defining my own tactics that I bring to the table with any master. Simply having one master to bring to a game means I need to have a master who is a good all-rounder to avoid that bad match up occurrence, staying with a single crew leader is normally to my disadvantage and this fact is cemented even more so with the advent of Gaining Grounds 2016's scheme pool.

Mei Feng is primarily good at two things, defending her crew from ranged threats and chip damage in melee. Her secondary role being mobility and displacing enemy models yet so far, with a well distributed terrain layout, most of the time she's forcefully planting her limbs across a targets vital organs whilst they lean against a wall. With Vent Steam, whilst it's a great deterrent, the moment a model comes within charge range, it's up to those models to either deal with the threat or have Mei Feng rush into melee thus moving her away from the ideal location to put up the steam and many players know this to be the case. Sure they'll take a whole bunch of damage but they've traded one model to put the crosshairs on the rest of my crew. Ten Thunders Mei has Yamaziko to lead a hand for this, Feng Venting and Yama bracing, protecting each other's weaknesses but outside of Captain pushes, Arcanist lack a way to deter charges other than with the reply of the 5 point palm exploding heart technique.
It's a balancing act.

Reading back on past posts, you know who gets mentioned the most? Ironsides and Rasputina, more than likely due to those being the masters I played a lot with before Yan Lo but all the more because the high points of my time in Malifaux have these two masters kicking bottom and taking no notice of names (whilst being out of gum...). I had loads of fun with them and really wish I could have them back in the limelight.

Now I could start playing purely Ironsides or purely Rasputina but quite frankly, I've grown tired of the aforementioned bad match-ups. Those games where I've chosen my master beforehand and then you flip those strategies and those schemes and voila! Before the game has began I've already lost 4Vp. Negativity aside, having a well-rounded stable of Masters, in this case The Defensive Mei Feng, the Offensive Rasputina and the Stasis Ironsides, stops poor match-ups from happening as frequently. It means I only have my own skill to comment on when it comes to victories or defeats as I'm wiry of saying "Welp <Master> is no good in this game". 
If I get my face kicked in, I don't wanna be the guy who laments on what could of been if I had only brought <list of models> instead. 
Being able instead to say "I'm bringing this master and these models because they have the greatest chance of winning" is more logical to me than "Well I've made my choice, I'd better place my head on this grindstone". If I were to face Molly again, would I bring a master who struggles against one wound models or do I bring a master who is immune to black blood and can handle a crowd. If I were playing Turf War with Deliver the Message and Distract on the table would I bring a Melee threat or keep everyone dead at range? If I'm playing Squatters against a superior ranged opponent am I going to use models that have a hard time against that or bring a master who can protect them from it? Logically speaking, why would I gimp myself just to remind myself that in bad match-ups, a particular master is bad? I already knew they were! A player gains no further knowledge by repeating the exact same action again and again and expecting a different outcome. 
Have I ever told you the definition of using only one master?

Toni and Rasputina have their fair share of weaknesses like Mei Feng as well to be sure.
Ironsides hates schemes where the opponent benefits from the master staying in one place and any amount of pushes are her bane as it means her well crafted Death Metal Mosh Pit turns into a quiet sunday Pub Lunch. If Toni can't tarpit, she can't get Adrenaline and then she's "simply" a taunt/luring master. This does mean the opponent has to deal with Toni in order to effectively do anything within a 24" inch diameter bubble that isn't attacking Toni but she's happiest when she has 3 models in the thick of combat and kicking absolute royal behind.

Rasputina is harder to talk about when it comes to weaknesses as I've played her enough to circumvent her most well known ones. Melee is nothing to be feared when Snowstorm or Armor of December can be used to righteously punish a would-be attacker after sub-zero shuts them down. Engaging her Ice Mirrors is also well known but I personally don't rely on mirrors for this very reason, I keep my plans to 12" range and expect the added 10" only as a bonus. Range attacks and de-buff auras are a problem but that's where the Ice Pillars come in or keep in mind that the typical range of these threats are also 12" so the Raspmas can still attack back.

This is hard. Back in the day all the above really bothered me but, as above, I "fixed" them so they were more manageable. Okay, try-over, lets start again:
Summoning that aren't cluster summons can really drain Rasputina's killing potential, as at least 3/4's of the time, it's a toolbox summon and spending even 2Ap dealing with them is beneficial to my opponent's single Ap to summon it. If my opponent is able to summon an "effect when model dies" or 3" de-buff aura next to Rasputina, that pretty much end's her as they're no longer attempting to tar-pit 'Tina or using melee attacks against her. Willpower spam she also has a hard time with as if Counterspell isn't helping, it takes it toll.
Summoning and auras there we go, they're weaknesses. Moving on.

So far as Mei Feng goes, I see her more as a defensive master so if I'm facing guild for instance, Feng will likely appear if I feel Rapsy and Toni can't deal with the damage output. Vent Steam x2 is tricky to get through for anybody at range and so long as I don't stand in one place all game in the cage of hands I've created myself, I would at least have a chance. Mei Feng can and has dealt with a whole range of non-armored foes but if she can deal with them, Rasputina and Ironsides can do so better.

It's easy to see Rasputina as an all-rounder but Ironsides is better at pure shut down and out of the three it's clear to see that Feng has the best crew shield. If 'Tina kills a Crooligan after it's dropped it's breakthrough markers, it will take a whole lot of Ap to pick that one marker up. If on the other hand Toni has charged it head-on or taunt/lured it before that time, she has successfully shut that model down from doing it's job. Facing a marker-summoner? The summoner in question will love it if you killed that 4ss model so they can summon that 8ss model from it. Toni will hold them in place without necessarily killing them having the summoner provide their own rather than saying "Thanks for the easy summon mate". If I'm facing that wall of gunfire and casting though, Feng steps in and makes card flipping that much harder, as well as being able to scout the board once the pieces are in place. In essence all masters covering for the other's weaknesses, like a good stable should.

Time will tell how successful I am. Keep those tactics sharp and have fun out there.

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