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Thursday, 23 October 2014

Oh Masters my Masters

I was going to write a blog on Malifolk 3, but it was a bit of a nightmare result for me and I don't particularly want to re-cap on it (very good fum and well run though)

So after a sub-par performance I am now sweating on a masters place, as are other. With the GT coming up and alot of points being on offer I thought I would have a look at the runners and riders in the mix for masters qualification and try to see what is needed at the GT

Looking at the rankings I would say everyone above 10th if safe and anyone below 25th is completely out of it.

Here are the points available at the GT (if I've done my maths right!)

1st – 100
2nd – 98.53
3rd – 97.06
4th – 95.59
5th – 94.12
6th – 92.65
7th – 91.18
8th – 89.71
9th – 88.24
10th – 86.77
11th – 85.3
12th – 83.83
13th – 82.36
14th – 80.89
15th – 79.42
16th – 77.95
17th – 76.48
18th – 75.01
19th – 73.54
20th – 72.07

And here are the rankings as they stand, the 3rd column is the points they will potentially be replacing with their GT result and the 4th is their next tournament. I am expecting the Winner of the GT to already have gained Masters qualification so have bolded down to 15th as qualifying positions.

Rank      Name                                    Points                   Replace         Next

10th        John Warton                       355.95                   82.5                 None
11th        Luke Cocksedge                   349.61                   77.78               GT
12th        Maria Wieland                     346.46                   70                    M'ween
13th        David Golden                      345.33                   80                     None
14th        Ben Harris                           342.29                   82.14                GT
15th        Graham Bursnell                 341.61                   80                    GT
16th         Connor Barker                    340.48                   80                     GT
17th         Joe Wood                           339.45                   76.67                GT
18th         Josh Leak                           337.38                   75                     GT
19th         Martin Wodehouse             337.12                   59.82                 GT
20th         Scott Porter                        333.81                   60.71                 GT
21st         Josh Fletcher                     331.91                   69                      GT
22nd        Dave Hill                             320.38                   69.67                GT R
24th         Darren Longworth              313.83                   57.83                 None
25th         Dom Westerland                 311.7                     58.33                GT

Looking at this and the points on offer here is a little hypothesis of what people will need to do to qualify

John Wharton – Can’t improve

Luke Cocksedge - Needs to finish in top 15 to improve ranking, needs to finish in top 11 to move up, probably guaranteed a Masters place

Maria Wieland – Can’t improve at present, Malloween not enough player for rankings

David Golden – Can’t improve

Ben Harris – Needs to finish in top 13 to improve ranking, needs to finish in top 11 to move up, needs to finish in top 10 to overtake David and Maria

Graham Bursnell – Needs to finish in top 14 to improve ranking, needs to finish in top 14 to move up (if Ben doesn't improve ranking). Needs to finish 1 place above Ben to overtake him, needs to finish in top 12 to overtake David and top 11 to overtake Maria.

Connor Barker – Needs to finish in top 14 to improve ranking, needs to finish in top 13 to move up (and finish above Ben and Graham) Needs to finish top 11 to overtake David and top 10 for Maria

Joe Wood – Needs to finish in top 16 to improve ranking, needs to finish in top 15 to move into masters (provided Ben, Graham and Connor don’t improve score), Needs to finish top 12 to overtake David and Maria

Josh Leak – Needs to finish top 15 to gain masters qualification (if people above him don’t improve) top 12th/13th to overtake David and Maria

Martin Wodehouse – Needs to finish top 29 to get into Masters (if people above him don’t improve) and top 20 would almost guarantee a place, winning it could see him seeded for the masters!

Scott Porter – needs to finish top 20 to overtake David and 19 Maria, needs to finish 21st to overtake Graham (if he doesn't improve)

Josh Fletcher – 15th would see him into qualification if those above him don’t improve, top 10 would see him have a good chance but there are a lot of people above him who can improve

Dave Hill & Darren Longworth – probably can’t improve due to not attending GT

Dom Westerland – Needs to finish second and hope nobody else above him improves their rankings, a long shot (pardon the pun)

Now lets say that all the above players finish in the position they are currently ranked at the GT, here's how things would look.

10th Luke Cocksedge – 357.13
11th John Wharton - 355.95
12th Martin Wodehouse – 349.95
13th Maria Wieland – 346.46
14th David Golden – 345.33
15th Scott Porter – 345.17
16th Ben Harris – 342.29
17th Graham Bursnell – 341.61
18th Connor Barker – 340.48
19th Joe Wood – 339.45
20th Josh Leak – 337.38

So what does all this tell us? Well your guess is as good as mine but it looks like that (generally speaking) you will need to, at the very least, finish above your current ranking position to get a place at the masters and that Luke and Martin are probably safe already.

Then again 77.4% of statistics are complete bollocks! All I'm saying is I've already booked my ticket for Gunsmiths at TTN on the 30th just in case!

Thursday, 2 October 2014

How to Win (more) at Malifaux

How to win at Malifaux

A friend and good gaming buddy of mine Pete Wright (@temeraire) recently posted on the wyrd forum about his current malaise as a Malifaux player, seemingly easily sussed out as a player by his club mates he wants advice how to stop this, if you are reading this and have an opinion the please go and post on the thread 

Top UK played Joel Henry hit the nail on the head with his advice and (psychology aside) I thought I would post on the way that I win games.

Now before I start, me giving advice on winning games feels a bit alien to me. I am currently ranked mid 20’s in the rankings table (although I do have a ‘game in hand’) and do not class myself as a top player due to many reasons. I would class myself in the upper second tier of UK players.

And I lose, alot, of games.

But I win, quite alot, of tournament games.

I lose most games where I don’t play properly. In fact I generally only ‘play properly’ now at tournaments, or when I am in a bad mood, or when I play Spooner ‘cos it pisses him off.

Not playing properly can mean many things. I don’t pick the right schemes, I don’t pick the right crew, I make mistakes by not paying attention, or I simply do silly things. When not ‘playing properly’ I do these things on purpose for 2 reasons.

1.       To learn, models, schemes, combos, etc.
2.       Not to dent my confidence.

Number 2 is interesting. In a non competitive setting I will often set myself up to lose (or make it very difficult to win) simply because when I lose, I consider to myself that I haven’t really lost, because I could have won if I wasn’t being so silly. If I win then I’m obviously fantastic.

I have also tried to rein myself in a bit on absolutely trying to obliterate people in every game I play so as not to put people off the game. Lee and Mike seem to carry this into tournaments too and Lee in particular has a habit of telling people how to beat him when playing at tournaments. I don’t. At tournaments I try to play as hard as I can (without being a dick, jury might be out on that!)

Now don’t get me wrong, I do play some casual games to win and really go for it. If I lose these games I try to learn from them. What could have I done better / different and sometimes, after analysis, it’s just down to luck, and that’s OK.

The reason I don’t class myself as a top player is not down to my lack of skill, it’s down to my lack of games and lack of knowledge of opposing masters / players. But that also works in my favour to a certain extent as most opponents don’t have an intensive knowledge of how I play, and those that do may not have faced me ‘playing properly’

So, how does this translate into how I play when playing properly? How do I win if I have no idea what the hell the opposition’s crew does? Or how the opponent thinks?

Well I go into every game with a plan. I work out the plan before hand alot of the time. I will look at a tournament pack, the strategies and I will quite often pick a crew in advance to accomplish that strategy. I will think about what schemes that could be available and I will put together an element of the crew that could accomplish those schemes.

In army speak I have ‘fire teams’. I have elements of the crew build that do different jobs. I make sure I know the models that do those jobs well and I stick to those models.

In essence I am saying to my opponent I don’t care what your crew does (mainly because I probably don’t know) but I certainly know what my crew does and if you want to stop me doing it then come and have a go. I have an unwavering belief that my crew can accomplish what I want and if my opponent wants to stop it then they will need to fight for it.

I try to have a contingency plan for each element. So if fire team a gets obliterated then fire team b or c can cover its job.

I switch between playing aggressively and defensively as the situation dictates (when I lose its usually because I am playing hyper aggressive, which packs one large punch that either wipes out the opponent or leaves me in a position where I lose the game, sound familiar Pete?)

Now this strategy is aiming to give me maximum VP’s. If I get 10 VP’s I won’t lose the game.

The second element, and to me where the game gets more complicated, is disruption.

In Pete’s opening post he mentioned the fact that he does things to the opponent because if the opponent did them to him he would find it annoying. This is completely the wrong strategy.

I don’t care what happens to my crew as long as it does not affect my game plan, well it would have to affect two elements of my game plan as fire team c is on its way to sort out the mess left by fire team a being obliterated.

However disrupt something enough and cracks will appear. I usually find the strategy is where I find it easier to disrupt people.

In a recent game with Pete (where I was playing properly) he lost control of the game in turn 3 and subsequently lost the game (he tried to assassinate Tara just after losing control of the turf war area to a barrage from Lazarus, Tara jumped away and any chance he had of winning was essentially lost)

In this game I had disrupted Pete’s control of the strategy enough for cracks to appear and then made him lose complete control of the game by moving Tara.

In another recent game with Pete (where I wasn’t 'playing properly') I lost control of the game on turn 2 where I was being far too aggressive with Tara and she got taken out by Howard. I still made Pete work for the win but I had essentially lost the game there and then. The strategy was turf war and against Ramos Tara was my only way of re-deploying models, I had lost control of the strategy.

What did Pete learn from this? Did he learn Tara was easy to kill? Well in the following game that I won he took assassinate on Tara and lost the game because of it. Tara was easy to kill in the first game because I didn’t care if she died. Assassinate was not in the scheme pool. It didn’t annoy me that Tara died, it didn’t annoy me that I lost the game by being stupid with Tara. I was expecting it.

In the second game as well I messed up with not keeping an eye on the round numbers and forgot to move something in for take prisoner, luckily Pete did the job for me by leaping his blessed of December into combat with me on its last activation! So the key, as other people have said, is also know what VP’s are available to both players and what to do to score / prevent them. Leaping into melee in the last turn with no benefit to killing the model and with take prisoner on the table is not the most sensible move.

Another couple of examples of this are two tournament games, one against Joel and one against Martin Wodehouse (I also remember most nuances of every game of Malifaux I've played, an advantage to analysing them after and also what helps me become a better player)

Against Martin I was using Belles that I had got to his side of the table to lure his models back out of the turf war area. I was putting pressure on Martin to keep hold of the strategy. I lost Tara to an ability that I didn’t even know Rasputina had (2 damage per upgrade) but that didn’t matter. Martin has complete control of a scheme (breakthrough) and so did I (also breakthrough as I recall). Martin was applying pressure by blowing my models out of the turf war area with blasts so I have to move fire team b in (Johan). This put me in a tricky position because he was the murder protigee target but by applying enough pressure on disrupting the strategy (and I think as I recall a lucky card flip) I won the game by a couple of points.

Against Joel you could almost call it a draw before we began. I was using Jack Daw and the strategy was Squatters rights, we both took breakthrough and plant evidence (I think), I made mistakes (first one being I didn’t have the confidence in Jack Daw for squatters that I have in Tara) and essentially Joel put alot of pressure on the strategy. I made a fundamental error in not accomplacing a Nurse, (even though I had it in my head that that’s what I was going to do) and Joel used a Walderguist to take a squat marker away from me.

This cracked my entire crew and I completely lost focus, Ama No Zako had failed in her job by being killed (and therefore not being able to place any breakthrough markers) and my ‘fire team b’ for breakthrough went to try and regain the squat marker, which was a huge error. At that point, against Joel, I had probably lost the game anyway but a rational thing to do would be to re-evaluate and see if I could have still won without the squat marker for that turn.

I didn’t, I focussed on the wrong thing and ended up losing quite heavily, which in turn meant Joel won the tournament on VP diff. So while I probably couldn’t have beat Joel after that I could have stopped him from winning the tournament (not that I wanted to do that) and conversely this could have had an effect on my tournament placing due to dropping silly VP’s (in the end I don’t think it did)

My last example is complacency.

Complacently can lose you games. In my third round game at Canterfaux I went hyper aggressive in reckoning. By turn 3 I had a 5-1 lead and had complete control of the game and instead of reassessing I went all out for max VP which was a terrible error. I had underestimated my opponent and he pulled a few neat tricks with Yan Lo and assassinated Tara as I pushed for breakthrough. I could have prevented this easily but I thought I had the game won, in the end I just about held on for a 6-5 win.

My very (honestly) last example is never giving in

Game 4 this time at Canterfaux, I was facing Perdita & co on what you could call a very ‘guild friendly’ table in reconnoitre. In turn 1 I lost 2 or 3 models to shooting. turn 2 wasn’t much better. At this stage I could have completely given in and thought there is now no way I can win this with this many models off the table. I refocused my attentions to schemes and piled pressure onto Perdita with Bette Noire to stop him achieving entourage, and used everything else I had very carefully and defensively to achieve my schemes. I lost the strategy but won the game.

So in summary here is what I think helps you get to the next level.

Plan your lists – know which models do what jobs and know which models you are going to use for each job. People tell me that punk zombies and hanged are awesome. I don’t use them, I have never had a need to use them as I have other models that do their jobs. I know what these models are and know how to use them.

Lock down your VP – obviously, but if you do it well enough or fast enough you are putting pressure on your opponent to try and stop you.

Only fools rush in – Evaluate the merits of the moves you are making, plan ahead and if its not going to gain you anything don’t do it. Defensive stance or focus is a good as use of that ‘spare’ AP as anything. Is it really a good idea to leap a Blessed into combat just because you can?

Learn how to apply pressure – look for your opponents stress points and try to exploit them. Have they taken breakthrough with only 2 fast models on the table? Well instead of using Howard to kill a larger target use him to take out the two scheme runners and the first crack will begin to appear.

DONT PANIC! – If you’re gonna lose, you’re gonna lose. If the game has slipped beyond critical mass then see how you can make the most of it. Put yourself in a position where you still play for every VP, something might slip for your opponent. If not play your best and trace the game back to where you lost it then work out what to do not to lose it there next time.

Have self belief – You are as good as other people, you just make mistakes. Other people make mistakes too. The top players don’t make many mistakes but they still make them. When you make a mistake try not to telegraph it, people might not have noticed you have made one. In fact top players might make loads of mistakes, it’s just that no one notices!

You are playing against people, not machines (machines would be easier to beat). You are as good a player as any of those people, apart from me obviously.

Should you change Masters, change factions?

No, if you like the faction and master you are playing then keep it, if you want to change then change. Changing won’t make you a better player (unless you’re changing to Gremlins or McMourning which are obviously bent) it will actually make you worse for a while as you learn them.

A good player is a good player because of how they play, not the tools they use.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Canterfaux (AKA De Cantiacorum Ludi Magna)

After a late sign up to a tournament organised by those lovely folks at the Canterbury Crusaders saw me up at 4:30am on Saturday morning to meet up with a couple of others from the Tractor Massive to head down to Kent for Canterfaux (let’s just stick with calling it that shall we?)

Toting a bag stuffed full of Ressers I was still unsure whether to use Tara or Molly but on the trip down I decided on the void queen mainly because I haven’t actually played a game with Molly and I’m pretty familiar with Tara, well that and I stood a better chance of not going home with ‘The Rusty Tractor’ (A prize for the lowest placed player in our group) if I took Tara, and with neither Spooner, Wrighty or Mark Sheppard being there the Tractor was most certainly in play!

A friendly welcome greeted us at the venue and it was great to meet / catch up with other players on the Malifaux scene. Seriously if you are considering going to a Malifaux tournament and are a little worried about all these weird wargamer types congregated in one place then don’t be, the Malifaux tournament scene must surely be the most welcoming on the planet (some of them are even normal people)

My welcome pack contained a 13 of Crows, which I decided was a good omen, and a plethora of other cool stuff (I have to say I really like the ‘claim markers’ which seem to be given away at most events now) and we gathered for the draw for the first round. I was almost last to be drawn (as was OldManMyke) but I avoided the Godfather of Malifaux and was drawn against a chap whom I had previously established was playing Gremlins. In Reconnoitre. Great.

Game 1 Tara vs Sommer (Rufus) – Reconnoitre – Flank Deployment – LIS, Protect Territory, Breakthrough, Frame for Murder, Outflank

Reconnoitre is probably my least favourite strategy and I decided to try out the Spare Parts upgrade for the first time, I’m pretty sure my list was

Tara (KOE, OS, SP)
Mortimer (CB)
2 x Belle
1 x Nurse
1 x Flesh Construct (to eat all those Gremlins)
1 x Necropunk

Rufus Has Sommer, a stupid amount of cheap green filth, some flavour of LaCroix that I can’t remember and a Pigapult (+Stuffed Piglet). He announced Breakthrough.

Here we Go, I thought, I’ve read the forums, I’ve (unfortunately) listened to that Chasing Bacon podcast, I know for a fact that that Pigapult is a load of crap and not worth the points. Turns out its quite good, who’d of thunk it!

I declared Breakthrough and Protect Territory and Morty started off by digging a load of corpses up then Tara did her thing summoning some Guild Autopsies. I had deployed poorly and had to move my Belles around a bit, the flesh construct started wandering up the table and the Necropunk did some leaping.

Rufus summoned a shed load of gremlins, healed them with a slop hauler and used the pigapult to launch the Lacroix and a load of gremlins at me.

At this point I thought the he might have Frame for Murder on Raphael so I set about him with a couple of Autopsies rather than Mortimer.

I think it was turn 2/3 when I lost control of the Strategy. The pigapult loaded up the stuffed piglet and launched it at the Flesh Construct killing it and the Necropunk. Gremlins flooded this side of the board and put down scheme markers, meanwhile Tara and some Autopsies had got control of the other flank and started doing the same.

Strength in numbers showed and the Gremlins took more points for reconnoitre but the game was decided when Raphael died from poison placed on him by one of the Autopsies meaning Rufus didn’t get the points from Frame for Murder.

Tara 7 (Recon 1, Protect Territory 3, Breakthrough 3) – Sommer 5 (Recon 2, Breakthrough 3)

A good fun game that I just managed to win on a ‘technicality in the rules’ and very well played by Rufus.

The next game saw me play Ben Sime, one of the Malifools and the conqueror of OldManMyke in the first round.

Game 2 Tara vs Mei Feng – Stake a Claim – Std Deployment – LIS, Breakthrough, Assassinate, Plant Evidence, Spring the Trap

Stake a Claim (or Stick a Clam) is a great strategy for Tara, I went with

Tara (KOE, OS & Unnerving Aura)
2 x Crooligans
2 x Necropunks
2 x Belles

Ben went with something along the lines of Kang, Mech Rider, Metal Gamin, Shadow Effigy & something else (Rail Worker I think).

I deployed second and declared Breakthrough and Plant Evidence. Ben declared Plant Evidence.

It started badly for me as I mis-deployed a crooligan that was killed first activation by Kang. Ben then seemed determined to prove how far Mei could move in one activation and sped her straight up the board toward Tara. Unfortunately he didn’t seem to have many high cards left in his hand and when I saw the bead of sweat appear on his brow as he cheated in a high card to prevent her being buried I spammed it and got the bury on the third attempt (Bye, Bye Ms Feng)

The Crooligan and Necropunks swarmed the right flank and started deploying markers of all varieties and the Belles got in position to undress things and make them slow.

The next turn Kang went to town on Chiaki killing her and popping out Mei who was then paralysed by a Nurse (Ben didn’t remember until the next turn that Mei couldn’t be paralysed and I didn’t know, if I’d have known I’d have told him, honest)

Mech rider summoned a couple of things and generally wandered around. I later found out that he was planning to use its drag trigger to pull in Tara and ‘spring the trap’ but could because I had the masks for ‘Through the Hole’

By this time Tara had positioned herself right in the thick of Bens crew on the left flank and shut down their interacts while handing out slow to everything. A spider managed to escape from a Belles undressing and plant couple of evidences and the Metal Gamin just squirmed out of Tara’s grasp to do the same in the meantime my Crooligan and Necropunks were having a party and dropping markers left right and centre unopposed.

I think Mei killed the nurse before the game ended but it was a comfortable win for me.

Tara 9 (Stake Claim 3, Breakthrough 3, Plant Evidence 3) – Mei 3 (Plant Evidence 3)

Another fun game and I did feel a bit sorry for Ben as Tara is a bitch in this strategy and it’s never good when you forget things on your models cards (see game 4), at my first tournament I forgot loads but on the other hand you hardly forget again if it turns out being crucial.

At the lunch break I grabbed a sandwich and caught up with the guys, I think Henchman Lee (of BendyBoards fame) was sitting on 2 wins, Pete was a win and a draw and Mike was reserving a parking place for the Tractor with 2 losses.

Game 3 was against a gent called Patrick and Yan Lo in Reckoning.

Game 3 Tara vs Yan Lo – Reckoning – Corner Deployment – LIS, Breaktrough, Assassinate, Vendetta, Take Prisoner

I went with

Tara (KOE,OS)
Student of Viscera (Or Sinew, whichever the ‘anti-undead’ one is)
Bette (Decaying Aura)

Patrick went with Yan Lo, Izamu, Jaakuna Matata, Toshiro, a spirit of some variety (Onryo maybe) & Detsu Ba

We deployed either side of an absolutely huge Buddah and I declared Breakthrough.

The game was brutal, probably the most insane game of Faux I have ever played. I set the tone by burying Bishop and throwing him in Izamu T1 taking him down to 1 wound and declaring Vendetta. Turn 2 saw Bishop finish off Izamu in short order and Patrick getting a point from Vendetta with Izamu’s parting shot.

I think proceeded to plough across the board smashing things to pieces left right and centre and trying to drop marker.

Partick re-summoned Izamu and killed Bishop and we had a TO ruling that it was not the declared model for Vendetta as it was a new Izamu not the original one.

During Turn 3 I realised Tara was the assassinate target and I couldn’t keep her alive even with a bunch of soulstones and then the game started to swing from what I thought was a comfortable victory to sweaty palms time. In hindsight I should have put Eternal Journey on Tara to whip her back to the deployment zone and out of harm’s way.

I didn’t quite realise how far away the deployment zone was for Breakthough but I managed to get 3 markers down but in the last turn Patrick pulled a smart move and swapped Yan Lo around with my Student allowing him to remove 2 markers in the turn.

In the end it was a victory by the narrowest of margins and a great game.

Tara 8 (Reckoning 4, Breakthrough 1, Vendetta 3) – Yan Lo 7 (Reckoning 2, Assassinate 3, Vendetta 2)

As I found my table for game 4 I was knackered and the early start was taking its toll. I looked at the table and though, well I’ll be OK as long as I don’t face guild.

My opponent was Paul and he was using Perdita.

Game 4 – Tara vs Perdita - Recconniotre – Std Deployment – LIS, Assassinate, Protect Territory, Entourage, Take Prisoner

My List Was

Tara (KOE,OS,SP)
Mortimer (CB)
2 x Belles
Bette (Decaying Aura)

Paul took Perdita, Francesco, The other Ortega chappy, Nino, a Pistelero and 4 guild hounds.

I declared Entourage (Tara) & Protect Territory. It started badly and didn’t get much better. I deployed behind the cover on my board edge and Mortimer dug up some bodies. I had one 10 in my hand which I needed to save for Bette and so Tara failed to summon anything in the first turn.

My hand was so bad that even the Belles were failing to lure dogs and the only option I had with the Nurse & other Belle was to move them up into the open where they promptly got shot.

At this point I was tired and just thinking ‘whats the point’ so I must apologise to Paul if I was a little grumpy.

The Necropunk spent the entire game leaping backwards and forwards trying to drop markers only to be stopped by Nino’s spotter ability and just managed to hang on until the last turn thanks to hard to kill and re-attach (love Necropunks)

The second turn was pretty much the same as my deck was dishing out dross despite stoning for cards and Paul’s decks seemed to be made up of 13’s.

It all changed end of turn 2 when Bette arrived in the face of whichever Ortega buffs Perdita and tore him to pieces and then proceeded to tear Perdita a new one and paralyse her.

Tara’s summoning began to come off a bit and the Autopsies were slowly thinning out the dogs which had merrily been dropping markers everywhere.

Bette once again tore into Perdita and I completely forgot I had decaying aura as I’m pretty sure Paul used his stones to keep her alive (See Ben, happens to the best of us)

There was some tricksy Ortega switching going on and the Paul make a mistake by moving 2 models into the no score zone and I started picking up points for recon.

In the meantime Tara had been nonchalantly walking up the board completely indifferent to the fact that there was no cover and any Ortega that shot at her saw the bullet go straight through the hole.

Last turn both masters made a break for the endzone, Dita was just short and Tara had time to get there and drop a couple of markers too.

Mortimer’s contribution to the game was to dig up 2 corpse counters that I failed to summon anything from and hit a dog over the head with his shovel. For 11 points I think he’ll be staying at home if I’m playing things that drop corpse counters.

In the end it was the fact that Paul didn’t declare his schemes that meant I had an 8-6 win.

Tara 8 (Recon 2, Protect Territory 3, Entourage 3) – Perdita 6 (Recon 2, Protect Territory 3, Entourage 1)

4 great games against 4 great opponents saw me knackered as we waited for the scored to be totted up.

In the end I came in second as 3 people finished on 4 wins and Jan Proudly took the top spot with his dirty Wong (well done Jan) and local boy Dave Hill finished off the podium placings.

I won a very nice trophy and a spiffing bag and to top off a great day not only did I overtake OldManMyke in the rankings but he also went home with The Rusty Tractor! (I expect I’ll be walking to my next tournament)

The best in factions then took part in some kind of gladiatorial event which used the cards that had been given in the welcome pack. There was much cheering but to be honest I was cream crackered and just crashed in the other room.

So, thanks to all my opponents, everyone who turned up, the organisers for a great day and the Tractor Massive for the lift and company on the way down.

See you all in the future and if you haven’t been to a Malifaux event yet then I suggest you do.

Knowledge of Eternity

Having not played for a while I attended a tournament in Canterbury at the weekend and decided to give Tara a run out in place of Jack as I’m a little rusty with my Malifaux at the minute. I will write up a tournament report later but I ended up finishing 2nd and interestingly enough was contacted on twitter by @geekphotoguy to give some tips on how I use Tara. I thought that sounds quite fun so here goes…

Firstly I’m not going to write an essay on everything she can and can’t do, there is an excellent in depth review of all that here and I’m pretty sure that photo guy only has a limited pool of models so I thought I would look at this pool and how I would play them in each strategy, which schemes to pick and what to buy next.

This is the pool of models I’m looking at

Tara (obviously)
Karina (not mentioned but I expect he has her, probably best not mentioned eh?)
Void Wretches (I will presume 3)
Nothing Beast
Death Marshal (also 3 I presume)
Bette Noire

The first thing that strikes me about this selection is that there are 3 hitters, which is good for reckoning but not needed in most other strategies unless you’re a blood thirsty looney that likes to kill everything on the board (which won’t win you many games). So if you’re squeezing them all into one list it’s going to be a low model count.

Secondly you have 3 models that are fighting for the buried slot (I’m counting the nothing beast in these 3) although the DM will help with this.

There are also models there that are fighting for cards. Bette requires you to have a 10 in your hand at all times where possible, and if you don’t then you need to be really careful (also watch for anything that strips suits away). Killjoy likes masks. The nothing Beast would you prefer to have fewer cards and then there is the problem with hand management. This selection of models requires a fine balance of having the correct cards or not having cards at all. The latter leaves you in the hands of your deck which can be cruel.

In conclusion, this is a pool of models I have taken once with Tara in one of my very early games (barring Killjoy) and I soon dropped the void wretches, the nothing beast and the death marshals.

Most other players seem to say these are fine, great models, very useful and indeed they probably are, but for me, as Resser, I don’t like paying for Dead of Winter. Necropunks (and now Crooligans) can do what wretches do. Bishop can do what the Nothing Beast does, only better. Bette makes it into a list that’s facing living and I found the death marshals pine boxing too convoluted and difficult to keep track of when I was learning.

Tara’s tricks and talents

When I first began playing Tara I thought her talent was to bury enemy models then to use the void wretches to attack them, or to try and steal their abilities, or to unbury and activate them.

I soon found that these abilities can be countered / resisted by the opponent and if your relying on them things can go quite wrong quite quickly. Tara can end up out of position and can be very vulnerable.

Slow, Slow, Quick, Quick, Slow

I now think Tara’s ‘thing’ is AP manipulation. She is able to get 6 AP per turn, she is able to hand out AP to your other models, and she is able to take AP from enemy models. With 5 turns in M2E AP is King, and Tara is the Queen of AP manipulation.

To do this you need to utilise pull the void and hence Knowledge of Eternity is always in my upgrades (and the positive initiative flip is sometimes a game winner, nut don’t rely on it). It has an 8” range and a CA of 7 so it’s pretty reliable and I use it almost every turn either to give my models fast or to give the enemy slow (just make sure they aren’t immune to slow before you do it!)

Bishop Bomb

Bishop can of course be exchanged for your choice of heavy hitter but I prefer Bishop simply because with Bishop you can get 5 attacks at range and he can chose his trigger (I find ignore armour / incorporeal or hard to kill the best) and has cage fighter to help him stick around but the principal is the same, and great fun. Certainly something with an extra AP already is a better choice for this although the Nothing Beast can be a bit vulnerable after being dropped off, particularly if you lose the initiative!

1.       Start turn, spend a stone to  draw a couple of cards to ensure a nice high hand
2.       Activate Tara, gain reactivate, pull the void on Bishop giving him fast and chose to fail the resist for the trigger burying him (if you have a void wretch you can heal him while buried later if you like)
3.       Move Tara
4.       Tara’s second activation move again, cast faces in the void from Obliteration Symbiote and unbury Bishop
5.       Have Bishop activate next, charge said target for 2 attacks then flurry for 3 more attacks.
6.       Keep the high cards in your hand so if anything hits him you can cheat in to win and trigger cage fighter giving them a cheeky smack in the face. If you’ve buried Bette in the meantime you can pop her out when Bishop kills the target to give them an extra choice of who to hit thus keeping Bish alive a bit longer)

Anyway that’s all fun and should definitely be done but it isn’t always the best course of action.

With Tara I often find it’s easy to get sucked into using reactivate as her 0. This isn’t always the best use and with anything that requires laying scheme markers or taking interacts you should be using her ability to shut down interacts within 6”

There are many other things that she can do and certain things that seem really easy such as making everything fast for the cost of a few cards and an enemy model getting fast but I found these things to be quite difficult to pull off without getting you into trouble so to be honest I would simply stick to learning to bury / unbury trick (you will require Obliteration Symbiote and Knowledge of Eternity) and getting used to shutting the enemy down by preventing interacts.


So where should Tara be in all this? I find the answer to be not too close to anything! She has a decent resist against casting (remember the plus 2 to DF & WP) and is immune to SH attacks as long as you are holding or can stone for a Mask thanks for through the hole.

However, she doesn’t like being hit in the head. She is, at the end of the day, a support master and requires careful positioning. I believe she needs to be sitting just behind the action handing out the AP. She’s an enabler making her crew do the work.

She is also an objective grabber. She can potentially move 20” in a turn and still interact which means she can make a late break for an objective, make a late break to remove a counter, bury, move and unbury an objective grabber and so on and so forth. Add in the upgrade that allows her to move back to her deployment zone and she can be very annoying at removing that vital opposing scheme marker.


So what doesn’t she do well? Well her combat skills are a bit meh despite the impressive looking sword. Glimpse the void WP 13 duel can be resisted but is handy late in the turn when the opponent is sweating due to having no / low cards in hand, although I still prefer to do this through pull the void rather than by bashing things with her sword.

She will go down like a sack of spuds in melee so beware when assassinate is in the scheme pool and don’t over extend her.

I was going to look at the strategies and schemes with the model pool available

I will first off start by saying I would take either Bette or Killjoy dependant on what I was facing. Bette is great against living crews due to the paralyse trigger but otherwise can struggle.

Bette is also AWESOME for bodyguard with Tara as long as you can keep the cards you need safe and keep Tara alive. Simply bury Bette with at one with the night, heal her and pop her out on full wounds in the last turn for your 3 points.

Claim Jump

For available models it would be

Tara (Knowledge of Eternity, Obliteration Symbiote, Dead of Winter) - 5
3 x Void Wretches – 12
2/3 Death Marshalls – 12/18
Killjoy or Bette with no heal aura thing (decaying?) – 15/10
Worth dropping a void wretch / marshal to fit Nothing Beast in at 10

So with turf war you want to look at your schemes. It’s quite hard to stop the scoring from the strategy particularly in the early turns. Use the void wretches to flood a flank for marker dropping (whichever is weakest) but keep one on hand and out of trouble to bolster the scoring for the claim.

Use Tara to utilise Bette / Killjoy to take out anything that’s going for their schemes or simply drop killjoy into the middle of whatever is scoring for their strategy but bear in mind whatever you’re putting in there is probably going to die. I would use the marshal for holding the claim territory, keep them in cover and use their ranged attacks. If there are no blasts in the opposing crew so you can maybe utilise the scheme markers they drop. I would keep Tara near the back to threated / counter anything that going for your side of the board. I would take schemes that utilise marker dropping such as protect territory & breakthrough or interacts such as distract.

To bolster the crew for this strategy I would consider adding a couple of flesh constructs simply because they are so bloody hard to get rid of and Belles to lure things out of the scoring zone)

Squatters Rights

Very tricky with this model choice simply because you don’t have a lot of resilient models to hold the markers.

Tara (KOE/OS/DOW) - 5
3 x void wretches – 12
Nothing Beast – 10
Killjoy – 13
Bette Noire - 8

Simply get the wretches to you markers ASAP and use everything else to try and kick the crap out of things and hope your wretches can hang on (which they won’t) but then use Tara to move things to where you need them and use her ability to stop your opponent interacting with the markers.
Schemes – with that list anything that requires you to kill stuff! Again Flesh Constructs are good additions as the can sit on the markers to hold them (and you can get them there T1 by burying / un-burying them) and Necropunks


Tara (KOE/OS/DOW) – 5
Nothing Beast (decaying Aura) - 12
Killjoy (decaying aura) - 15
Bette (decaying aura, unless it’s rare 2) - 10
Void Wretch – 4

I usually find the key to reckoning is not to take too many models (less to kill) and to run with a high cache to help keep things alive. The strategy is usually very tight so you need to focus on your schemes. Keep the void wretch hidden and use to it to attack / heal any buried models and as soon as you get access to other models I would drop it and DOW for the upgrade that lets you move Tara back to het deployment zone, handy for getting her out of trouble! What to add? Bishop & Johan as a tough filler for 7 stones, handy with his condition removal)


Tara (KOE/OS/DOW) – 5
3 x Void Wretch - 12
3 x Death Marshall – 18
Bette Noire (decaying aura) - 10

Another tough one with this model selection, and a tough one in general with all the summoning masters that are out there. I would look to get some more cheap minions (Necropunks rule) to flesh this out and pick up a pack of guild autopsies so you can make use of the spare parts summoning upgrade.

Stake a claim

Tara’s speciality subject. Keep her in the backfield and make use of her ‘pull the void’ to make enemies slow, if they are slow they can’t drop claim markers and use her ‘no interact’ 0 action to shut down the enemy while running your Void Wretches round to get your claims. Void Wretches can also hand out slow. Again bolster with Necropunks and Belles (Belles can cast undress to hand out slow) or Nurses for paralyse.


Schemes are probably the most important part of the game so decide which ones you like and learn how to do them. I like bodyguard on Bette as you can pop her out late on (Frame for Murder is also good on her), Entourage as Tara can activate twice, protect territory and breakthrough if you have fast minions. I normally stay away from assassinate and I hate spring the trap and plant explosives (I just find it too difficult to concentrate on this while doing other things, personal preference I suppose) If your opponent has distract then bury your distracted models as they don’t count if they are buried!

What to add in next.

It has to be said the only one of these models I actually take in my Tara crews on a regular basis is Bette. I generally replace the Void Wretches with Necropunks, the Death Marshalls with Belles / Nurses and the other hitter with whatever suits, quite often Flesh Constructs.

There are players out there that will sing the virtues of pretty much every M2E model. Some people love Hanged and everyone agrees Punk Zombies are solid models but I have never taken either so It’s whatever takes your fancy to a certain extent. I would say Necropunks (or Crooligans if you prefer) and Belles should be your next 2 purchases, after that it’s your choice, pretty much all the Resser minions are solid models.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

ToMB Episode 2.1 - Amazing

Sorry for the delay in updating you on the next purchase., I’m sure you were all waiting with baited breath.

After a month of ToMB and still having only played 3 games with Jack it’s a tough choice on what to pick next to add to the crew. The most obvious choice would be Hanged, but to be perfectly honest I’m not completely sold on them, here’s why…

First off, I just think they are over costed at 9SS. I’ve been playing ressers for pretty much all my M2E and I’ve never been tempted to hire one, and I don’t think I’ve suffered from it. To be honest at 9SS I think there are better choices out there.

Secondly, I haven’t had any problems playing against them.  I’ve faced them a few times and they just haven’t caused me a single problem, I’ve just simply avoided them or hunted them down with something that ignored incorporeal, so I’m not sure how I can play them that would make them effective.

Finally, and this is relating again to the cost, you can summon them (well Nico can at least) There something that just doesn’t sit right with me about paying 9SS to hire a model that can be summoned quite easily by other masters.

Sure I’m probably missing something and they probably synergise fantastically with Montressor and will make me go ‘wow, so that’s what Montressor does’ but I wont find that out this month, or probably next month either.

So what else is there to consider? Looking at how my crew has failed in my first three games I am needing two things. First off is a second heavy hitter (if Montressor is considered a heavy hitter, I’m still not sure what he is at the minute) and the second is a replacement / supplement for The Guilty so this leaves me the following choices from my ‘thematic’ models.

Heavy Hitters – Ama no Zako, Killjoy or Lazarus (Lazarus has been added to my list of potential models, if there is ever a tormented robot its surely Laz-Bot)

Replacements / alternatives for The Guilty are Crooked Men, Drowned, Nurses or Hodgepodge Effigy.

So, after careful consideration and the fact that I’m now pretty close to month 3 I have decided to add…..drum roll…..

Ama No Zako –9SS, Henchman, Mercenary, Rare 1, 50mm base

Based, I believe, on Japanese legends Ama is a Daemon with a frightful temper, a bit of a personal hygiene problem and a liking for eating things in one go.

My choice was based partly on the fact that I hadn’t done much painting for ToMB and I had an Ama model sitting around that needed building and painting. In my force selection she offers the choice of another enforcer and she looks a lot more survivable that Montressor.

Looking at some theory faux the first thing to notice is that she’s fast, walk 6 with flight. I’m a big fan of fast moving models especially in M2E with the 5 turn limit and amount of objectives. DF is no great shakes at 5 but WP is very impressive at 7. She has 10 wounds which are supplemented by Hard to Wound and Terrifying 13 (Living) so she’s already looking quite survivable.

Her 2” melee attack (Vicious Embrace) hasn’t got a great ML (only 5) but does an impressive 3,5,7 damage and the trigger Quaff Blood, requiring a mask to add the her built in crow, allows her to make a 2,3,4 healing flip after damaging, which again adds to her survivability.

She doesn’t have a ranged attack but does have a 6” range 0 action (Promising Whisper) which provides an Obey but requires a meaty 8 mask to add to her CA6.

Her second melee attack is a mini devour (Swallow you Whole) with a 1” range. It requires a 7 tome to add to her ML6 with built in crow and it sacrifices anything HT1 or paralysed unless the defender discards 2 cards (and there are other things in Jack’s crew which can force card discard and paralyse)

Miss Zako’s tactical action is something that is often found at some tournaments, particularly in the summer. Miasma of Flies and Boils is a 0 action requiring a 6 crow to cast and creates a 4” aura of hazardous terrain around Ama, that’s a 1,2,4 damage flip for anyone entering or activating within the aura and this can obviously be extended by an inch is she is in LOS of something with the Creeping Terror upgrade.

I does have to be noted that Miasma affects all models within the aura and not just enemy models like Jaakuna’s aura does.

So what’s is she going to do then? Well I see Ama as a bit of a lone wolf within the crew. She’s gonna be tough to take down and ideally need to be taken down at range ‘cos if your going to get too close she can hit you with that nasty melee attack and hurt you with the miasma. Both Montressor and Jack can potentially shove things into her aura but I see the miasma as more of a deterrent than anything else.

While it certainly looks like she can take a few things out I see her more as a board control piece and even as an objective grabber with her high speed and flight. I’m hoping she will hold ground well and her 50mm base with 2” melee range will be great for squatter’s rights.

So I’m going to see how I get on with Ama over the next couple of weeks and roll the $12 over to next month where I should be able to buy two new sets of toys for the crew!