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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!)

Placings
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

http://wyrd-games.net/community/topic/103618-malifaux-malaise/ 

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.