Monday, 21 March 2016

The Value of Sacrifice

Other titles in I had in mind were 
"Frame for FUN" 
"Just, Just Go Sit in a Corner" 
& "Guys? Control Hand? Guys!?". 

The more you know.

What I've found out and touched upon late last year was, sometimes in a game of Malifaux, some models just plain don't matter anymore. A recent game had Snowstorm face down the fury of a very angry Mei Feng but with activations remaining and the necessity of getting past opponent's high cards and the rather likely Vent Steam, I felt it best to leave it to fate. 

A very sad, possibly in slow-motion, Snow and Storm, with a single tear running down both of their faces to the sound of a resonantly somber song, stand defeated. They both stare at Rasputina, no hatred in their eyes but rather tearful regrets.

Time stops. If only for a moment.

They smile as a suitably aggressive heavy metal music slowly fades in followed swiftly  by Mei Feng's Tiger Claws destroying their very essence rending them asunder...

I want the thank the academy....

What actually happened far, far away from imagination land is Mei Feng flipping higher numbers than Snowstorm's numbers, my decision not to cheat higher, then removing the model depiction of a fictional character from the table.
The above prose sounds better in the grander scheme of things mind you.

It's a skill that beginner players learn to adapt into their games and it took me quite a long time to consider that with only a finite resource of control hand available for semi-assured actions, using them wisely and knowing when to "not bother" for certain models is not only reserved for just for when my control hand is empty but I don't want to repeat what I previously said in "The Devil Makes Work of Idle Hands" for hand management. I want to talk about those times when your one of the remaining 7 or 8 models is just not worth keeping around. They've lost that glow, they aren't the same model you've hired anymore and you want to move on and concentrate on your work. You're in different places and you feel a  Oh good they're dead, man it was getting to be a drag being with that model dude.

I've had it happen in many games, turn four rolls up and I'm either winning or drawing with a chance at a comeback and my opponent activates and concentrates their fire on some dude who is out of position who's not ever going to score this game and who can only really attack for no gain. The rest of my models are protecting schemes, scoring for strategy or in a position where they can end the game where they need to be. 
This guy This Guy though, he's getting nowhere in life, riding the coat-tails of my more successful models and not keeping up paying his half of the rent. If my opponent is courteous enough to, lets say, Evict this particular individual from my life; well I suppose I'll look the other way during this, shall we say, Intervention.

Sometimes you have to take advantage of your opponent's blood lust by being Zen and accept losing a model in this instance is a natural part of tabletop life. If they cheat cards in order to hit the poor individual then all the more better. When I'm on a speculative 7-6 victory and only really need those 4 models around to ensure that assumed point total, models 5 and 6 better be stopping the opponent's Vp or else they get no control hand to assist them with breathing. It's late game and the loss of a Key model is brutal so if my opponent wants to throw their fate at a small fry, so be it.

This is of course assuming I'm winning. When it's likely that loss is on the cards (and with a year's total win/draw/loss standing at 5/1/10, for me its certainly likely) getting to even decide what models live and die is sadly out of my hands. Most of my models by game end are either engaged or 12ft under, so I have absolutely no choice in letting a model die, most likely I'll need all of them to have a chance at a draw. In these situations who do you save cards for and who do you give the face cards to? They're all required to score!
Quite honestly, without the game in front of me, I can't give a general answer. If the strategy is low, focus on your guys who can score it and if a scheme is score-able, let your guys who have a chance take a shot I guess....
If both are low (as what most happens to yours truly, look I don't follow my own advice all the time, okay) then the fate deck will have to unfortunately cover you. I've had scoring models who have taken a LOT of heat and lived much longer than they had any right to by top-decking fate. When a Sister at the chapel of Viktoria takes more than 4 swings to take down Joss with all her relevant buffs and all I had were those lucky top decks, I call that a win even if it resulted in Vp, model and game loss.

Then there's the time the deck screws you and the models you'd expect to be able to take a series of hits and stay standing, are left as little more than dust in the wind. It happens. How many of you have suffered a face card vs Black Joker only to see a Red Joker in the damage flip? Devastating.

I've learned in my recent games to plan for eventualities. It's not always clear but by the middle of turn 3, I can roughly imagine how things are going to go down and what the score is likely to be by game end. What me and my opponent can do to change that can be at least assumed at this point also. By the end of turn 4, I have a detailed idea of what points are left to be scored so I attempt to make key models in advantageous positions long beforehand, which in turn (presuming my opponent is doing much the same) creates closer games than if I were to attempt purely last turn Vp gains. Gaining Grounds 2016's new schemes has leveled this out somewhat by allowing players to score throughout the game rather than the all or nothing at game's end that was the base rule book schemes but even so, with enough Malifaux experience, you get a gut-feeling how scores will go down by mid-game. It's shown me greater depth of forward planning and knowing what models are most likely to achieve that objective. And also what models are best left as bullet sponge punching bags.

Keep calm, remain Zen and have fun out there.

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