Monday, 25 April 2016

Center Stage Focus - Coryphee Duet

Outside of models I've truly never used before, there are some were I have to congratulate Wyrd on the flavor and abilities of when it comes to their models. Being the mainly Arcanist player I am, the first thing to come into my head when thinking of impactful non-Masters is the Coryphee and the Duet they become.

Back when I first started Malifaux, I had a very real problem with Scheme runners with Rasputina. With little experience with the Ice Witch and at a time where not even all the masters crew boxes were released, it was hard to generate a list for Breakthrough/Plant Evidence etc etc, Frozen Heart back then just didn't have any runners.
My first inclusion were the Mole Men and for a while they were great, that is until they were attacked or, for instance, they had already dropped more than enough markers. They have a Very focused job and can't really diverge from that role, I needed something else.

As a new player I brought both Arsenal decks for Arcanists just so I knew what everything did (This also being when Crossroads wasn't released, dark times indeed) and the Coryphee appeared to be exactly what I was looking for: Fast models who were able to attack but more importantly could leave combat and not get charged in response. The Duet looked insane and rightly so for sacrificing two 7ss models. So I set about a proxy of the dancers and took them to the table.

... And subsequently got them killed before turn 3 every game I had them. As a player in general I have this idea that new models exist in another dimension where opponent's will let them do exactly what they want and watch in awe as they do their home run lap. I can't fault my opponent's actions, I was playing the Coryphee dumb. I ran them in range of Anti-Armor which destroyed them quickly, if I had planned to run the pair separately, I would panic at the loss of 2 wounds and try to duet them only to have them standing out in the open. In games where I duet'ed immediately I would use them as pure scheme runners rather than assassination units so spending 14ss to be backfield doing Mole Men's job (forgetting that with their speed and 3ap, they could achieve a number of base rulebook schemes on turn 5).
I would either play too cagey or too aggressive, but as I came to learn, there is a delicate nuance of balance to the puppet's role on the field.

Fast forward to modern day, the Coryphee are released in plastic now and by budgetary reasoning, I've magnetized them to properly duet together. I know now not to run them into big nasties but rather assassinating smaller models. I almost never run them as a single unit anymore, the first turn is hopefully a double walk into a Dance Partner-Dance Together. Why not duet immediately? Summoning a fresh model that still has 2ap left to use up to 17" into the table is veritably useful, especially in dealing with well-placed From the Shadows models or taking down an early minion who safely assumed double walking was a good move. Picturing two marionettes gracefully spinning across the battlefield and effortlessly taking down a Guild Pathfinder is a thing of beauty.

I have found despite this that Rasputina still doesn't like the Duet. Not being Frozen Heart and not having much synergy in the crew leaves the puppets in the box. Mei Feng on the other hand loves them. Fast constructs that can keep up with her, that can get her out of trouble via Rail Walk and being able start or finish a fight alongside the Rail Boss is amazing. The Duet's main weakness against range becomes silly when they are within the protective Vent Steam and having another 3ap model dancing beside a master and the often 3Ap Firestarter provides fantastic opportunities for Vp gain.
With only one game with Kaeris right now I don't know if they have a place but in their one game with her they provided a means to draw an optimal hand turn one before duet'ing and acted as bodyguards to the rather frail Kaeris saving her Ap to use her burning effectively.

Judging the Duet on it's own, having Auto-everything in attack and defense paired with Agile and Disguised make the dancers impossible to pin down with melee attacks alone. Hitting them with conditions or ranged attacks is preferable but to get through Df/Wp6 with a built-in positive, it's an uphill struggle. This is not to say they are invincible, far from it but so long as I keep them away from tables that can focus anti-armor rounds, avoiding charging them into more than 2 models who can wear down those 7Wd OR being in a position where models around the Duet prevent them from escaping then I'm confident they will always make for an memorable game and an additional challenge to my opponent. It's 14ss that I don't regret spending to include them.

Dance like no one is watching and have fun out there.

Monday, 18 April 2016

A Tale of Souls and Swords - Week 2

Shiro was musing his past again, perhaps his present wasn't something he was happy with, how philosophical. Taking ground in his past life was his preferred method to gaining information and setting up a base of influence in an unknown area. Other methods were sometimes faster, other methods got you killed much faster but setting up a base of operations first before cracking heads together yielded much better results than rushing in(and being able to retreat units to a protected stronghold when jobs went south gave the men a much needed morale boost).

After the Gremlins were forced out, it was time for Shiro to extend his influence further out and that required scouting out the surrounding landscape. Summoning forth Ashigaru retainers and his faithful Komainu, a newly acquired ability he obtained from his resurrection, he sent them to scope out more of Lambs Breath Nord. They would either return with information, or never return, presumed destroyed, both results gave Shiro a clearer vision of his surroundings. He allowed his current entourage time to get adjusted with the local fauna; that was when Jack appeared.

"I... want YOU... TO hit me... AS HARD... AS you CAN!..." it screamed, twitching it's head and flexing it's monstrous claws towards Shiro. Shiro was in awe rather than angry, how such a beast got past.... a puppet, a bored dragon and a sleepy sniper.... oh; Shiro seriously needed more footmen. Summoning was arduous.
Shiro responded to this challenge by near knocking this creature's head clean off, it seemed to have the effect it was looking for. Shiro named him "Jack", short for "Jacked-up S.O.B" and left the fool where he lay, smiling in near-unconsciousness.
Later when Jack had re-awoken, it made Shiro a deal: keep finding it pain, and Jack would fight by Shiro's side.

Well, with so much pain in Shiro's future yet to come, it was a safe bet.

Pain indeed. This weeks match was brutal and left me wondering if I can still compete. Absolutely devastating.

The game in question was:
Standard Deployment Reckoning
Protect Territory
Make them Suffer
Frame for Murder

This weeks campaign bonus: Players get 2 script, up to a maximum of 6 for every scheme marker that's on the opponent's half of the table that isn't being used for scoring Vp.

My opponent brought with him:
Sebastian w/ Those Are Not Ours!
Rotten Belle
Night Terror
2x Guild Autopsy
Malifaux Child

Things went off to a good start turn one, the both of us moving into position, Shadow Effigy and Toshiro making the whole crew drop scheme markers in place for bonus script and Protect Territory. Sadly after that it all went to the bleedin' choir invisible.
It turns out, charging Illuminated into 4 models that can poison and then boost the damage of said poison turn end is a terrible idea. Rafkin and Sebastian being to blame. Toshiro joined the fray but ended up the same way, the Dawn Serpent got badly injured, badly poisoned and then got chased by Sebastian killing it turn 3 whilst turns 4 and 5 had Komainu and Effigy bite the dust too. My whole crew sans Dawn Serpent flipping injuries. It was a complete and total thrashing and one I can't blame anybody else but my lack of poison manipulation experience (I'm normally immune to it or wiping it with Chiaki/Johan/Arcane Effigy) and once again thinking a model is immortal when it is merely difficult to kill.

My first game with Illuminated was less trial by fire and more trial by 200ft drop without a parachute. Armor +1, 2 forms of healing and a decent amount of wounds made me believe the junkie was this god among men and infallible to the attacks of said peons in his wake.
Sadly whilst being very consistent with damage and having bonkers threat range, he is no Viktoria. 7ss vs 22ss is a bad match-up no matter who's at the helm. History repeats.

No matter, with my whole crew in bandages, it means my next game will be one of careful moves, knowing my opponent's models inside and out and scoring full Vp where it counts. With Week 5 closing in fast, I need to complete this bounty, and have enough script to buy Mr Yan Lo and his Soul Porter mate.

It only hurts when I laugh, regardless, have fun out there. 

Monday, 11 April 2016

A Tale of Souls and Swords - Week 1

In a previous life, Shiro was audience to a friendly rivalry between two members of his clan, the lean Stringbean and the rotund Eggplant. They requested a non-lethal battle in order to show Shiro who was greater in combat, Shiro allowed it.

The fight lasted 3 seconds.

The moment Stringbean charged, Shiro knew the battle was over. Eggplant weaved under the first katana swing, parried the counter swing with his own, throwing Stringbean off balance, before kicking his leg and slashing accurately between the armored joints of his skinnier opponent's protective gear, ending the fight quickly and efficiently in a wobbly blur of expert motion. Stringbean's sword resounded on the ground shortly followed by the thud of his own body. Eggplant resumed his previous slouch, bowed, apologized for his rudeness and returned to the cheering celebrations of his peers. 
Shiro was in awe rather than angry. Such unknown skill in his own ranks. Stringbean was allowed to live but forced the indignation of training under the tutelage of "Master Eggplant" when he recovered thereafter.

In the present, Shiro required a base of operations. Standing in his wake were the inhabitants of the bayou screeching and hollering as usual, no doubt calling to attention every guild guard in earshot. An excellent strategy; if the green ones meant to do it.
One could mistake the mindless chattering and clumsy demeanor to denote little combat experience in the gremlins but Shiro wasn't about to let this section of town slip from his hands and he made absolutely certain not to underestimate his foes. He ordered the Pathfinder to scout ahead and summoned his pet to side.

This fight won't be over in 3 seconds.

My first game on campaign road was a Squatters Rights game vs Gremlins then a second game of Reckoning right after, another faction I've been wanting to play more against.
This weeks weekly mission: After turn 2, players randomly place 4 Guild Guards down, at the end of any turn after the 2nd if there are no Guild Guards on the table, a Peacekeeper is placed in the center. Guild Guard give out 1 script, the Peacekeeper is worth 5 script but lets face it, other than an average damage spread from Lightning Bug's attack, neither of us were capable of taking down a 11Wd Armor +2 monstrosity without taking casualties in such a small game. So the pair of us avoided killing the last guard.

Toshiro was facing:
Lenny w/ I'll love it and pet it...
Slop Hauler
Burt Jebson
Lightning Bug

For an all-comers list, I liked my opponent's choices, Trixie for mobility and a ton of slap attack actions next to Lenny, almost everyone benefiting from Lenny's Rams aura as well as a small amount of summoning, the ever present Slop Hauler to heal everyone's Reckless and the offensive choices of Bug and Kurt Russell.

My List:
Toshiro w/ Command the Graves
Dawn Serpent
Shadow Effigy

My choices were more role-for-role, Komainu for his ability to tar-pit and pass out Slow, Pathfinder for Clockwork Trap disruption and sniper-esque attacks from range, Shadow Effigy for the ability to make scheme runners out of everyone and Dawn Serpent for being the greatest minion in the game (In my opinion). Toshiro ties everyone together passing out attack buffs, Fast and the very rare Focused, then summoning off of Dawn Serpent's targets. A neat little package that I desperately need to add some offensive power to in the near future.

For Squatter's Rights we were evenly matched, Lenny couldn't get any Piglet summons off but neither was Toshiro close enough to any markers. Pathfinder on the other hand was able to summon 2 Clockwork Traps but that didn't stop my opponent from laying down squat markers elsewhere. I won the game 9-7 ensuring Shiro was able to set up base in this part of Lambs Breath Nord.

For Reckoning, it was another story. We both played fairly cagey with the pair of us choosing Frame for Murder and Distract. It was a very close game but once Toshiro finished off Kurt Russell and Lenny Pig Missile'd Pathfinder (Both Frame for Murder participants) We both had the hard choice of Distract or Murder. With such a small game, it was either one or the other yet my opponent won out last turn when a summoned Komainu was unable to finish off his Slop Hauler thus getting distracted alongside an activated Toshiro and Dawn Serpent. Very well played. He won this game 7-6 but not without Lightning Bug taking an injury roll, the Gremlins proving just how distracting they can be whilst Shiro's crew were trying to evict them from his new grounds.

For my efforts, Toshiro now has Ml7 on his Katana strikes and Dawn Serpent is now immune to Slow and Paralyze, No doubt from hitting so many Gremlins around and having to duck and weave out of the way of thrown Piglets. With 5 Script taken from the dead Guild Guard's pockets, my crew is looking healthy with no injuries. Next week is going to be a slobberknocker!

The Campaign system is a great way to introduce another way to do a Slow Grow in my mind. Models increase in strength every game as well as saving Script for crew additions makes for games where sometimes you want to go for more script for later games rather than earning just one more Vp.

On the theory side of things; as with all Slow Grows, a small (or large) amount of summoning is a boon; especially when in this mode of play, models can take on severe injuries that can take them out of your arsenal completely (until re-bought). Having models that "don't exist" for the purposes of game play gives more of a reward to the risk of going up against a more killy crew.
Another thing that crossed my mind was list building itself. Assume for instance, I didn't hire Komainu and gave myself 5 Script on top of 5 Soulstones in my first game, knowing that the start of week two I can hire whoever I wanted with the 5 stone discount. It gives one more options but I felt it redundant when the first thing I would hire would be the Komainu for free anyway. 

I have my next model to think about. With 5 Script, I can afford any 10ss Ten Thunders model. I need more aggression that's for sure, The Daimyo can dish out hurt, the Pathfinder can take away a lot of wounds but no one is really completely focused on the act of murder. Tosh for one is moving into position to get his minions buffed and trying to summon or give out Fast and Pathfinder is just trying to stay alive.
With my latest purchase of Dark Debts, Illuminated appear to the best choice for a minion focused list. Other models for consideration include Kang, for his buffs to go alongside Toshiro's. Yin, the Penangalan for a more defensive model to guard Warring Turfs, Protecting Territories and generally getting in the way and Katanaka Sniper for some needed range in games where rushing into models is a bad idea.
Illuminated is likely to win this week though and it gives me spare Script leftover in order to save up for future purchases (Skills and Upgrades come to mind). Going to be fun trying to figure out how a violent junkie high on tyrant heroin is going to work with Shiro in a way that makes sense.

Enjoy my average fan-fiction and have fun out there.

Friday, 8 April 2016

A Tale of Souls and Swords, Eternally Retold

Apparently alone with nothing but a pocket of scrap and a Pathfinder (who obviously wasn't bothered being lead and accompanied by an un-dead feudal samurai) Shiro still felt the eyes of the Ten Thunders watching his every step. The Dragon and the strangely compliant Puppet riding on it's back flying high above him enforced his paranoia and were both no doubt keeping his betters updated on his whereabouts and goings on... Somehow.

No peace.

Paranoia notwithstanding, with so many successful missions, even with his accidental possession of the once head of the Katanaka Clan, Shiro (Toshiro always felt to formal) could respect the Ten Thunder's way of leadership. Shiro had first hand knowledge, he lead the same way, once.
Failure was met with harsh and all-too-often fatal retribution yet victory came with vast benefits.
Such as continuing to move and think un-aided was a good one he joked.

It took some adjustment and quick thinking but Shiro was 5% sure he was getting away with the act. If the Ten Thunders knew, they obviously found him more useful alive than dead.
Shiro looked upon his prosthetic torso and his Katana skillfully artificed to look more akin to a Bokuto and grimly smiled. Come rain, snow, magical hurricanes or what was now plain abusive heat, Shiro was going to find what it was he sought, not for the Ten Thunders but for for himself. It's not often Fate hands one a second life after all...

Welcome to Lambs Breath Nord! My first Shifting Loyalties campaign and something I'm very excited to play! It's always been a want of mine to create a narrative within the games I play but I always struggled with the implementation of doing so. Yeah I could spin a tale of the mighty Rasputina rushing towards the enemy ruins to demand a refund on the blender they sold to her but then when I get near-table wiped, it sort of ruins the story I was planning on telling.

The Silent One fell to her knees, the receipt for the blender fell from her hands and danced out of reach in the harsh wind.
"Unfortunately, we need a receipt to refund this item, please get in touch with our customer service hotline" said Leviticus.
All was lost.

Within the Shifting Loyalties rule set though, this isn't a problem and creates games where you have a past, a goal and great way to connect together all the random match-ups one gets when playing Malifaux. It also allows me to stretch out my average fan fiction muscles when I have little to go on when it comes to Malifaux fluff.

I decided on playing Ten Thunders with Toshiro, the Daimyo leading the first wave of games. His buff to minions and summoning plus giving me pseudo 3Ap in his (0) actions gave me more options than if I were to run Kang (too slow) or Ototo (just as slow). Alongside him I hired Dawn Serpent (because as a minion able to be buffed by Tosh, the Dragon is ridiculous); A Shadow Effigy for easy scheme running, a Komainu and a Pathfinder for more summoning and disruption. All minions, all the time. Giving myself no script (the campaign currency used to hire and to buy upgrades) first week might be bad but for such a solid Vp focused line-up, I was happy to earn it from scratch. Plenty of opportunity out there.

Follow me as Shiro sets foot into the idyllic town of Lambs Breath Nord in order to find the Black Soulstone to free himself from his Ten Thunder masters and be a free, un-dead man. I can already tell its going to be a lot of fun.

Create legend on the stage of history and have fun out there.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Season Review - Winter

Since the start of the year I've kept a record of all 50ss games I've played noting the Win/Loss, the strategy and whom I played with and against.
I would keep track of schemes chosen, Vp total, crew member selection frequency and how useful each model was to the game in question but keeping it simple seems to work better for me than updating an excel spreadsheet on the fly. Maybe someday I'll gain the ability to gather data like a BOSS and detail every Ap spent and Vp gained by every model I use but for now, I'll settle for a straightforward Win/Draw/Loss with X master.

Without further ado:

Most played Strategies:
- 1st Place - Reconnoiter - 5 Times

- 2nd Place - Squatter's Rights - 4 Times
- 3rd Place - Guard the Stash - 4 Times

Despite randomly flipping the strategy each game, my favorite strat came up 5 times in the course of 3 months, even Squatter's and Stash I find enjoyable. It's almost like telling the universe what I like playing pays off. Strange.

Most played Masters:  
- 1st Place - Rasputina - 12 Times

- 2nd Place - Mei Feng - 6 Times
- 3rd Place - Misaki - 3 Times

- Participation Award - Ironsides - Once

- Newcomer Award - Kaeris

Lady 'Tina is no surprise whatsoever this season, every game I play it's a case of really wanting to play another master but then Rasputina shows up and pushes everyone around with her Frozen Hearts getting up in everyone's faces. Ms Mei getting half of Raspy's total games is a given at this point but the Rail walker has shown me that she can rock the house just as well as Rasputina; favorites are favorites though so it'll be tough to gain the discipline of not auto-taking the Rasmus for every encounter; or going the other extreme and not taking Rasputina when I really should.
Misaki sneaked in for bronze due completely to the Growfaux leaving Ironsides with little more than a little flag saying "Everyone's A Winner!".
The last game of the month saw Kaeris wining her inaugural match and she shows a lot of promise. Not as killy as the Ice Queen, not as brutal as the Oybun Metal Worker but rather a master with a lot of ways to deal with any given situation. Watch this space.

Most games won:      
- 1st Place - 
Mei Feng - 4 games
- 2nd Place - Rasputina - 3 games
- 3rd Place - Misaki - 2 games

Mei Feng got in a trio of close game wins on the last day of the month hence her resurgence to the top of the leader board, facing Nicodem's mass summoning in non-recon/interference games will do that though (Hunting Party, hallowed be thy scheme, Coryphee Duet's will be done, on table, as it is in Malifaux). What this also means is so long as I don't play Feng simply to play her and choose my games carefully, she is a very good choice in good match-ups, dare I say, better than Rasputina. I'll be very interested to see how next the season plays out.Rassy only winning a quarter of her games is a little sad but when my local meta is full of champions of malifaux as mine is, you roll with the punches besides, if I had decided to use Rasputina for my final three games, I'm confident her score would have been better. Playing many games with experimental lists such as "Team Mega Buff" and the abysmal "Casting Gunline" and I should expect nothing less than a bad on-paper score.
Misaki fares better percentually (Is that a word? It is? Really? Nice) winning two-thirds of her games much like Mei but considering that Growfaux was all about trying out new masters and models, the results are a little skewed.

Masters played against by faction:
- Outcasts - 8 games
- Viktorias - 5 times; Jack Daw - Twice; Levi - Once
- Resurrectionists - 4 games       
- Nicodem - Twice; Yan Lo - Once; Seamus - Once

- Neverborn - 3 games
- Pandora - Once; 
Collodi - Once; Dreamer - Once
- Guild - 3 games
- Sonnia - Once; 
Lady Justice - Once; Perdita - Once
- Arcanists - 2 games      
- Rasputina - Twice

- Ten Thunders: - 2 games
- McCabe - Once; 
Mei Feng - Once
- Gremlins - 1 game
- Ulix - Once

Viktorias appear to be everyone's favorite right now in my experience, with many people either slaying with them or attempting the subtle chess game of early turn blitzkriegs. Viktorias might be top but the impression I get from many players is that they are one-trick-ponies, they either get the job done and get killed with ease; or fail to do anything and get killed with ease, which I sense frustrates more players than it intrigues. Otherwise a pretty even spread throughout. Some late games against Resurrectionists supercharged their faction to silver granting my wish to play more against them. Talking of which, I played against Yan Lo! Which got me very excited to play the old man once again. Maybe I'll pull him out of hibernation for a certain casual event starting in April.... 

Season total:- 23 games
- 9 Wins

- 1 Draw
- 13 Losses

So draws a close to this seasons games, with half of my games being lost I have to really buckle down and start taking my own advice. I'm slowly but surely getting to grips with what every master in the game does as well my own models strengths and weaknesses. Here's to closer games next season!

Continue to kick arse in a sportsmanlike fashion and have fun out there.