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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!

 

 

 

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

My steps to success

I thought I might do a quick non ToMB related blog (well its sort of ToMB related) about the phases I have for learning to play a crew. It links in quite nicely to the debate that going on about the VP Diff / VP scored scoring system. It will also, hopefully, help me take a step back and re-focus on how to play Jack a little better.

Phase 0 - Learn the game mechanics.

Well, Duh! I'm not going into this but if you are a brand new player learning the core mechanics of the game is probably the best thing you do before you start figuring out what your crew can do.

Phase 1 - Stress Testing

What I mean by stress testing is putting your said crew to the test in extreme circumstances. I tend to do this early on with new masters. I find you can look at your crew on paper and say 'well it should be able to do this, that, etc but its not until you get it on the table that you find out if that's true or not. An example of this was my first game with Jack where I threw him across the table to engage Ramos turn 1. This move was not conducive to winning the game but I knew in theory he could do it and I wanted to see how easy it was and how he fared when I did it
which gives me more of an idea of what models are capable of.

Again when I started playing Tara I figured the best way to go was to heavily go for burying enemy models. In stress testing this didn't work for me, even throwing my all into it, so I went back to look to see what else she could do.

I find this to be more appropriate with a brand new master / crew and do this alot less when integrating models into an existing crew

Phase 2 - Learn how to score points

Starting with the Strategies I then learn how my crew scores points, who does the killing for Reckoning? Who holds the ground in Turf war? This is alot of trial and error and takes a few games against different crews to get right. At this stage I'm not too bothered about preventing the opponent from scoring more about finding out how I can score. If you can score 10 points every game you wont lose. I try to work out how many resources to dedicate to each task (schemes / strategies) and this phase tends to give you quite high scoring games, hence my objections to putting VP's scored over VP differential in tournament play.

Part of this phase is also learning which schemes to take, which schemes can your crew achieve. This is probably one of the most important parts of this phase. A great way to do this is to follow @malifuxschemes on twitter and whenever it throws out a set of strat/schemes think about what you would chose for that combo and what models you would take.

I haven't figured this out with Jack yet after one game but an example I can give with Resser Tara is with Turf War. Starting out I decided that Flesh Constructs would be hard to remove so started placing 2 of them just to hold the ground. Then I started backing them up with the Graveyard Spirit to add armor and thirdly finding it more effective to back them up with a Nurse instead of the Graveyard Spirit. Of course this all comes apart if you are facing something with Lure due to the very low WP and quite high walk so making sure you have a utility model like a necropunk on hand is a must, and similar tailoring is something you will need when you learn what other opponents crews can do.

Phase 3 - Denying VP's

Having mastered phase 2 and cut down your investment in Soulstones to achieve this its time to look at how you stop your opponent scoring. If you can score 10 points each game you wont lose, if you cant stop your opponent scoring 10 points you wont win. 

I tend to focus on denying VP's from the strategy first for this, the reason being if you are denying points from the strategy and scoring all your schemes you will win. It also makes your opponent think about their resources, it makes them make a decision as to whats more important, re-allocating resources for the strategy? scoring for their schemes? Or denying you. 

Preventing VP's from the strategy puts pressure on your opponent, and there are only 5 strategies.

An example of this, again with Tara and Turf War, is use of Belles. Sure we all know Belles can lure, but its a long way through the turf war area and out your side to get the enemy models to stop them scoring, so by using Tara to bury Sybelle and Sybelle to call Belles you can be on the opposite side of the board using you Belles to lure the opponent back toward their table edge in turn 1/2, putting alot of pressure on the opponent at the beginning of the game.

I find that most of VP denial come from careful model positioning and I theory-faux alot on this phase. I have found it very useful to put up a Vassal map just to practice where I am placing my models to ensure they are most effective.

Denying points from the schemes is more difficult (depending on the scheme) but if you can have a trick up your sleeve that you can pull to stop scheme scoring its always handy.

Phase 4 - Combining phases 2 and 3

This phase is all about resource allocation, seeing a set of schemes, allocating Soulstones to achieve those while also allocating Soulstones to denying them and having a back up plan for if things go wrong. 

Combing the 2 is very tricky and I tend to have models / sets of models that each do a job. If you have ever played me you may also notice that I also quite often have a model that just seems to hang around, maybe moving for side to side across the back of the board (usually a fast model) This is for two reasons, the first is I am indecisive and the second is its there to plug gaps

Phase 5 - Learning your opponents

This is all about experience. You could argue that Phase 5 actually should be Phase 1, or 2, or whatever, that you should read the cards of all the models and know what the can do, and adapt to this before you play.

For me this isn't the case. As discussed in Stress Testing  I don't know what things actually do until I see them in action. I can read all the cards I want (and yes do read them, it does help) but the plain fact of the matter is I cant remember them, and I have even more difficulty in M2E trying to remember upgrades which alter play styles etc so I tend to focus on Phases 1-4 first.

Its not until I've played against a master that I really know what to expect. Sometimes this is fine, the preparation I have made in Phases 1-4 will win through, other times I will just get hit by something out of the blue. If this happens its important not to panic and re-group, keep the pressure on and even if you are going to lose keep trying for the VP's.

I remember the first time I played M2E Raspy I was hit with the spell that did 3 damage for each upgrade I had. That was one dead Tara. The second time I played raspy I knew this could happen (and her other tricks as well) and adjusted my play-style accordingly.

I believe this, and not some massive amount of skill, was the reason I won the Isle of Faux tournament. I learnt my tactics for scoring and denial and every crew I faced (Raspy, Sonnia and Seamus) was a master I had faced before.


Wednesday, 5 March 2014

ToMB Episode 1.6 - One Month In


First month in

Well after a month of ToMB I’m now in a position where I need to think about my next models. I’m three games in with 2 losses and a win, although two of those games didn’t go beyond turn 3.

The two games I haven’t reported back on were;

Vs Mike Marshall (Coloddi) on Vassal, Reconnoiter

I was absolutely hammered on this one, whatever I tried didnt come off and once again I felt as though I was wandering around aimlessly. Mike got 3 points from plant explosives on T1 from re-activating dolls and I just about got into position for this before the game ended. Jack performed well, taking out Vasilisa quite easily and the void wretches were OK. Everything else didn’t do Jack! Montressor in particular was very poor again and I struggled with his positioning.

We called it on T3 and worked out it would more than likely finish 9-6 ish to Mike but I think that’s probably being generous, I was played off the board.

After this game I went away and had a think about things, and wrote a little piece on the phases I go through for winning games, which I will post up in the next couple of days.

Vs Henchman Lee (Dreamer) Turf War

Again this was called on T3 (we were both playing very slow and yapping a lot) but I fared a lot better. Jack positioned himself pretty much in the middle of the board and caused a nuisance for 3 whole turns before finally being eaten by Chompy. Montressor’s contribution was again somewhat questionable but he did manage to kill Tuco in T1. Unfortunately the killing blow was achieved by sucking him into base contact along with half the rest of my crew and killing him at the end of the turn where his Black Blood caused chaos!

Void Wretches again performed well for Line in the Sand and Turf War. At the end of T3 I think the score was sitting at 6-2 but I was beginning to fall to pieces a little bit and it would probably have finished much closer than that.

So what have I learned from month one?

Jack is awesome; he can be a real pain for opponents and takes a lot of resources to get rid of. He pretty much performed as I expected. Ligeia is awesome, you have to be careful with her positioning and she may not last that long in the thick of things but the no cheat aura is massive. Void Wretches are awesome; they performed much better than expected for a 4SS minion.

The Guilty are average, I wasn’t expecting much from a 5ss minion but they are very ‘meh’. They require a lot of work to get their pushes off and can be quite card intensive if you want to use their tricks. Their saving grace is hard to kill which is great on a low cost minion. And then there is…

The Trouble with Montressor

After 3 games with Tara I was on the verge of dropping the Nothing Beast and after around 5 games it went into the case and never came out again, I’m almost at that point with Montressor and if it wasn’t for the restriction of ToMB I would probably be doing the same with him.

My main problem is, well, erm I don’t have a main problem, just an all round lack of inspiration. So, the problems I have are…

Walk 4. Yes he’s nimble which is good but walk 4 is slow, real slow. His 50mm base is great for the auras but a lot of the time he just seems to get in the way, blocking LOS and auras from other models.

Triggers. No built in crow for toss the noose means you have to cheat one in, and the suck into base contact can be countered by the opponent dropping 2 cards, so potentially I’m swapping one of my high crows for two of his cards, not great.

0 Actions. The only one he has is from his upgrade which forces a WP resist or pushes them into base contact, the only problem with this is that it sucks everything, friendly and enemy, into base contact and pretty much everything I’m running has a WP of 4 so if I don’t want them to go I have to cheat high or position them further away, which leaves him isolated, and he won’t last long like this with his….

8 Wounds. On a 9SS model is not great, not great at all.

I’m pretty sure a lot of this is down to activation order and positioning. I will persevere with him and see what happens but a beatstick of some kind is on my shopping list.

The next problem I have with the models I am using is low WP. Everything apart from Jack has WP4 and boy did I feel it when I went up against Neverborn so that’s also something I need to bear in mind for my next purchases.

I have a week to decide what’s next up, hmmm…………….