So my first event of the year was at the Grid, a games store in Doncaster. It was their first ever Malifaux tournament and I have to say I left very impressed. Organisation was excellent, there was a bar doing hot food and all the cold Pepsi Max I could drink, plenty of tables with some great terrain on, and some space to chill out between games.
I will be back!
The tournament itself was my first with the Guild. I was a bit embarrassed by the fact I didn't have a single model that was actually painted - it's a matter of pride normally that my crews are done and finished - but I was hell-bent on getting the Guild to the table so pushed ahead.
For my Master I used Lady Justice all day. To me she's the epitome of the Guild theory that if it's dead, it can't cause you any problems. There is basically a 14" bubble around her (5" walk, 7" charge, 2" range on her sword) that nobody should go near lightly, because she hits like a train and will survive most counter-attacks. With that said, there is a lot of finesse involved in making sure she's in the right place at the right time, and with ready access to buffs that make her life easier and longer.
These game reports won't be the most in depth ever - it was a while ago now, and unfortunately most of the crew choices and scheme selection have been lost somewhere in the addled mess that is my mind - but I can remember the key points from my perspective.
My first game was a great fella called Brad, using Outcasts led by von Schill. To be fair to Brad I'm not sure the draw could have been less kind to him - this was his third or fourth game of Malifaux ever against someone who's at a tournament most weekends, and I know Outcasts and von Schill inside and out.
The strategy was Turf War, which in theory is normally von Schill's strongest as he can hand out his Legend To Live Up To buff to the Freikorps to keep them in the fight. A Master like Justice on the other side of the table can flip that on its head - you know exactly where von Schill will be, and whilst he's not easy to take out, a melee Master with their mind set on assassinating him can put him down.
And so the game proved. I used 2 Hunters to drag Freikorps models out of position and apply Slow to stop them getting back to where they needed to be. This cleared the lane for Justice to come in from the flank, kill a Strongarm Suit in turn 2 and then leave von Schill, healing all burned, on his Hard to Kill by the end of turn 3. 10-4 win all told.
After the game we had a good long chat, and an impromptu training session on the virtues of Oathkeeper and how the Strongarm and von Schill can charge over anything in their path. It seemed to work - Brad finished the event with a win and a draw and crews laden with Oathkeepers - which made me feel a lot better about the end result! I try to help out newer players as much as I can - I don't pretend to be the world's greatest teacher but I've seen most of what the tournament scene can throw at you. If there's anything I know that can help, I'll gladly pass it on.
Next up was a match against Mike Taylor on table 2, Lady Justice vs a Neverborn-flavoured Jakob Lynch in Reckoning. The last time Mike and I played, he hurled Misaki into the middle of my Leveticus crew, was unlucky to flip a Black Joker on a horror duel with her next turn, and duly given a 10-0 working over. Safe to say he was keen to avenge that particular couple of hours!
The board itself was a swamp board covered in severe terrain that would slow movement, with some decking and walkways. It looked awesome, but if we weren't careful, there wasn't going to be a lot of movement.
Thankfully the Guild has plentiful access to Unimpeded. Lady Justice carried the relevant upgrades, I took a Death Marshal, there were 2 Watchers on the table, and Pale Rider appeared too. None of those 5 models were in the least bit bothered by the terrain! I also had two Henchmen, the Judge and Francisco Ortega, who combined to catapult Justice 10" up the board turn 1 before she'd activated, and resulted in Hungering Darkness being dead turn 2 and Lynch on one wound as she was there so fast. The continued threat of Justice also forced Mike to bring models across to deal with her and the two Henchmen, meaning he couldn't do what he needed to do in terms of schemes.
In the meantime Pale Rider earned 6 VPs in 2 activations; scheme marker, 0 action for scheme marker, move, Plant Evidence achieved. Scheme marker, 0 action for scheme marker, move, Breakthrough achieved.
7-3 win to the Guild.
So last game was up on the lofty heights of table 1, playing Squatters Rights against Mark Elwood. We were both sufficiently far ahead on VP differential that the winner would almost certainly win the tournament, something that would put Mark at the top of the pile as the UK number 1 and give me my first ever podium. Safe to say, we both had a fair bit riding on this one!
Mark declared Neverborn, and I was 95% sure that meant summoning Dreamer. So I took a crew with as many activations as I could, with the intention of spreading out, flipping markers and making the most of the Distract scheme. Whilst Mark's reputation preceded him as a Dreamer player, mine probably preceded me as an over-aggressive nutter who would go all out for the kills. I was pretty sure the last thing he was going to expect from me was a scheme that meant I couldn't kill models in order to score!
Justice took the field with Judge, Pale Rider, 3 Guild Hounds, 2 Watchers (going for unannounced Breakthrough) and an Austringer. That gave me a ridiculous reach across the board, and very little trouble getting models up to the Squat markers early and flipping them over.
The game itself was one of the most tight and tactical games I've ever played in. There was a lot of bait-and-switch going on with Guild Hounds, pulling them in and out with Judge and the Austringer to maximise enemy Distracts and minimise it ending up on my own models, as Mark played the same game with Insidious Madness and Daydreams.
Flying Watchers managed to avoid the attention of Coppelius and Stitched Together. Justice annihilated a Silurid early doors, then kept Dreamer's mobility down by acting as a Chompy deterrent - when Mark wanted to use Chompy to move Dreamer around, Justice went in and splattered the big fella around a wide area, which penned him back in a thin corridor in Mark's half of the table.
Pale Rider didn't accomplish a huge amount, but the threat of him meant Mark couldn't risk moving a Nekima / Doppelgänger tag team off the flank. If he had done, the Rider had a clear route to the backfield for scheme markers, and his shotgun has a 12" range and gets nastier as the game goes on.
When the dust settled I got a 9-8 win, which meant I placed first! Have to be honest, I was more than a bit happy - this was my 23rd Malifaux event and my previous best placing was 4th which I'd hit 5 times. To finally get on the podium, never mind take the event out, felt amazing.
The keys to the victory from my perspective were the unexpected speed of the Guild. They're often categorised as being slow and unwieldy but the crews I was taking were anything but. Hunters, Guild Hounds, Watchers and pushes meant I had no issue getting around. Running rings around a Neverborn crew on a swamp table was a particular highlight!
Lady Justice herself was also a very pleasant surprise. I knew the big sword had the capacity to hurt people, and regularly taking swings with a 6/7/9 damage track (Critical Strike - Ram built in, SoulStone for a Ram, cheat a Ram, +3 damage) certainly lived up to billing in that respect! I always took the Last Stand upgrade which gave her Unimpeded, and that in combination with Blindfighter (she doesn't need line of sight to charge) meant there were very few places on any board for the opposing crew to hide from her.
Having 'clicked' with Justice very quickly (the tournament comprised my 3rd, 4th and 5th games ever with Guild!) I decided to stick with her in the League of Extraordinary Henchmen event two weeks later...