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Malifaux escalation event report: Gaining Force; 13Jan2018

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The first Malifaux event of 2018 at Common Grounds was Gaining Force. It was described as a story event but I would say it is more like an escalation since the story didn't go further than 'an Enforcer went for a walk and gradually found friends while being attacked'. The format was to select one Enforcer and play two Enforcer Brawls, then add that Enforcer to a Henchman Hardcore crew and play two games of that. The entire Henchman Hardcore crew was then to be included in a regular 50SS Malifaux crew for one final game using the new Gaining Grounds 2018. I will admit that I'm not a big fan of Henchman Hardcore but Kai's events are always excellent so I wanted to attend anyway.

I selected Izamu as my Enforcer for the highly tactical reason that he is the only Enforcer I have available (the Carrion Emissary is still part-built on my painting tray and Ikiryo isn't eligible anyway). Izamu's Warrior's Death ability does mess with the scoring in a fairly amusing way so it's not like I would have chosen anyone else.

Enforcer Brawl 1:

For the first round I was set up with Gareth, Martyn and Mark. We got the rules slightly wrong; killed Enforcers should be able to return to the game at their own initiative step and not just at the end of each round. Also, to make the overall event scoring practical we were capped at 5VPs at any one time.

Me: Izamu the Armour
Gareth Henry: Yin the Penangalan (Unnerving Aura)
Martyn Nicol: Lone Swordsman (Recalled Training)
Mark Watson: Ice Golem (Armour of December)

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Turn 1: The Lone Swordsman charges into the Ice Golem and declares that it Shall Not See Another Sunrise. This doesn't help as the Ice Golem swats him and Yin polishes him off. Izamu kills the Ice Golem.

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Turn 2: Izamu smacks the newly-returned Lone Swordsman but incredibly the Ice Golem fails to kill the plucky chap. Yin, who is left too far away to participate, floats back toward the action. The Lone Swordsman declares (again) something about Ice Golems and Sunrises, and kills the big construct. The resulting explosion is fatal for the Lone Swordsman too.

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Turn 3: The Ice Golem moves up and is gently tickled by Izamu's Dadao. Yin puts Gnawing Fear on Izamu and hurts him.

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Turn 4: Izamu smacks the Ice Golem again. The Lone Swordsman uses Recalled Training but Black Jokers one attack on Yin. To keep up with the action, the Ice Golem Black Jokers an attack on her too. Yin attacks the Golem.

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Turn 5: Yin kills the Lone Swordsman. The Ice Golem attacks Izamu and is killed in return.

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Turn 6: The Lone Swordsman uses Recalled Training (such a good upgrade when you can use it all the time!) and kills Yin. Izamu and the Ice Golem are too far apart to do anything meaningful.

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The final scores are:
Me: 5
Gareth: 2
Martyn: 5
Mark: 0

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Enforcer Brawl 2:

The second Enforcer Brawl sees the model I expected in abundance in this format. I just had to hope that the Langston players didn't get too lucky with their Decapitate triggers, then counter-punch them. Note that the photos are a bit weird for this one; the big buildings were constantly in the way of one model or another so some were taken from different angles.

Me: Izamu the Armour
Andy Bush: Howard Langston (Imbued Energies)
Jamie Clark: Howard Langston (Imbued Energies)
Martyn Nicol: Lone Swordsman (Recalled Training)

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Turn 1: Andy's Langston comes in for Izamu but can't kill him so Izamu stabs the big construct right back. Jamie's Langston fails to drop the Lone Swordsman in one go and is easily taken down in return during the second activation after declaring that he Will Not See Another Sunrise.

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Turn 2: Jamie's Langston appears and immediately ends the Lone Swordsman who reappears on the far side of the board. Andy's Langston kills Izamu and Nimbles away from his imposter. Izamu gently tickles Jamie's Langston.

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Turn 3: Jamie's Langston kills Izamu. The Lone Swordsman declares Sunrise on Andy's Langston but is killed in return before getting a second activation. Izamu helpfully reappears on the edge of the board furthest from anything, and girds himself for a long walk.

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Turn 4: After flipping an ace for the previous two turns of initiative, I flip the Red Joker for this turn, ensuring that Izamu can get straight on to the business of double walking toward the action. The Lone Swordsman reappears and kills Andy's Langston having declared Sunrise on him. Jamie's Langston shows up but fails to off the Lone Swordsman, and is shanked back to death immediately by Andy's copy.

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Turn 5: Andy's Langston kills the Lone Swordsman and hurts Jamie's Langston badly. Jamie then fails the horror duel for his Langston to attack back. Izamu trudges across the board.

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Turn 6: Jamie's Langston recovers his wits and kills Andy's Langston before being murdered in turn by the Lone Swordsman. Andy Langston reappears in range to come and try his luck with Izamu, but after 3 turns of nothing but hand sculpting Izamu easily survives and kills him in return.

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The final scores are:
Me: 5
Andy: 0
Jamie: 2
Martyn: 5

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Henchman Hardcore 1: Resurrectionists (me) vs Ten Thunders (Martyn Nicol)

Crews
Resurrectionists: Anna Lovelace, Izamu the Armour (Unnerving Aura), Dead Doxy, Graveyard Spirit
Ten Thunders: Sensei Yu (Low River Style), Lone Swordsman, 2 Monks of High River

I realised that I could approach this whole event by either picking a Henchman Hardcore crew that I thought was good, and then hoping that it would lead nicely into a 50SS crew in the end, or largely pre-select my 50SS crew and pick the Henchman Hardcore models as a subset of that. In the end, I took the latter approach mainly because I vastly prefer 50SS Gaining Grounds as a format, especially over Henchman Hardcore. Nonethless, I did put some thought into it. With Eliminate the Leadership as the always scheme I decided that Anna Lovelace's preference for range, good stats and armour would be a good selection; I had considered Datsue Ba instead but thought that she would be too easy to kill in this format. The Dead Doxy can get a chance at a third attack if she Pounces after Take The Lead, and while one of my main criticisms of Henchman Hardcore is the decreased importance of positional play, her ability to move things around is never not useful. Finally, the Graveyard Spirit was added simply because it fit the points. Being able to add Armour is useful but I did think that only having 3 non-Peons to score for the strategy would be a concern. I expected Sensei Yu to move my models out of scoring position, and then the Lone Swordsman to come in and try to kill Izamu by ignoring armour on one of his triggers.

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Turn 1: The Monks move up and take Defensive Stance and the Dead Doxy pushes Izamu forward. Yu Airbursts him back but not far enough and I'm able get a swing on the right Monk (though it misses anyway) and Anna fires a barrage of ghosts at Sensei Yu which scores me the first point for Eliminate the Leadership. We both score for the strategy.

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Turn 2: Sensei Yu realised that if he doesn't heal himself, he'll not get another try, so he punches himself better. The Doxy pushes Izamu into the guts of Martyn's crew, then charges the right Monk for no effect whatsoever. The Monk then kills her straight out in return, not even needing the huge stack of Burning he had applied. Izamu smacks Sensei Yu a little, allowing him to pick up a few Defensive conditions when I missed. The Lone Swordsman declares the Izamu Will Not See Another Sunrise but can't kill the big chap even with a second activation and kills himself to expunge the shame. Anna misses a couple of shots at Sensei Yu. We both score again for Extraction.

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Turn 3: Sensei Yu heals himself again. Izamu again fails to do anything useful to him and instead switches attention to the Monks. One of them Focuses but misses Izamu and in desperation I throw in the Graveyard Spirit which kills the wounded Monk (only had to do one damage due to the Unnerving Aura). Anna continues to attack Sensei Yu who Soulstones all the damage away. We both score for Extraction once again.

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Turn 4: Sensei Yu heals himself. Izamu kills the second Monk and Anna finally finishes off Yu to get me the rest of the Eliminate the Leadership points. I score for Extraction too. Resurrectionists win 7 - 3 (full score for me; 3 for Extraction for Martyn).

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I always have a nice time playing Martyn as he is just such a cheerful gentleman. He had me worried here with his crew selection and I thought that the combination of Sensei Yu pushing my models away from the scoring area plus the threat of the Lone Swordsman just carving through Izamu would have been possibly a winning strategy. As it happened, the high minimum damage on Anna's ranged attack forced Yu to play passively to stay alive for almost the whole game, and Martyn just didn't get the cards he needed for the Lone Swordsman's Perfect Cut. I was really impressed with the Monks of High River at their new cost.

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Henchman Hardcore 1: Resurrectionists (me) vs Resurrectionists (Gareth Henry)

Crews
Resurrectionists: Anna Lovelace, Izamu the Armour (Unnerving Aura), Dead Doxy, Graveyard Spirit
Resurrectionists: Valedictorian (Unnerving Aura), Yin the Penangalan (Unnerving Aura), 2 Rotten Belles

I knew what was coming here as Gareth and I had been discussing crews on the train to Stirling, but it didn't make this easier to deal with. Gareth basic game plan was to apply crippling conditions with Yin, put one model per turn where he needed it with the Belles (and Slow everything else as needed) and then kill it with the Valedictorian. Having one model locked down by Yin each turn would be a big problem with only four in my entire crew (and one of them a fairly useless Totem). My plan was to throw Izamu up as aggressively as possible, using the Doxy to push him into melee if Yin gave him the No Escape condition, and then hit things with him and Anna until they went away. Weak damage of three can solve a lot of problems.

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Turn 1: The Belles Lure and Slow Izamu, and the Doxy Takes The Lead to push him into melee with the left one. Yin gives Izamu both Gnawing Fear and No Escape, but he's able to drop the Belle in two hits which felt quite fortunate. The Valedictorian comes in and puts a bit of damage onto Izamu, then Anna hits her twice with the Swirling Damned. I trigger Screaming From The Aether once and Gareth helpfully fails the resulting Horror duels for both Yin and the Valedictorian. This stroke of luck pretty much ensures that I'll win the game right there. I score Extraction.

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Turn 2: Izamu smites the Valedictorian, scoring me a point for Eliminate the Leadership, then the Belle Lures him to my right and Slows him again. Anna kills the Valedictorian to get the rest of the points for Eliminate the Leadership and I score for Extraction again. I do rather unwisely keep pulling the marker back toward my table edge even though I would have been better served leaving it in the middle.

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Turn 3: Izamu Black Jokers his chance to Reform, the misses a speculative swing at Yin. She kills him (though she does flip the Black Joker herself on my Warrior's Death attack so some damage does get stacked up) then puts various conditions on Anna. I waste some Soulstones to get round all the negative flips attacking Yin with Anna and miss the shot anyway, apparently because Gareth has a truly heroic control hand this turn. The Belle Lures Anna and Pounces on her. No score for the Strategy.

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Turn 4: The Belle Slows Anna. The Doxy Focuses and lands Take The Lead on Yin, getting me the Confused Feelings trigger. With us both on negative flips it just comes down to luck whether I can actually do anything to Yin, but have the better stat and only need to draw. Between the pounce and the second AP, Yin goes down and I breathe a big sigh of relief. Anna pushes the Belle away and shoots her. Neither of us score for the Strategy.

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Turn 5: Anna fails to kill the Belle who hurts her back, but not by enough to get a point for Eliminate the Leadership. My Resurrectionists win 5 - 0 (2 for Extraction and 3 for Eliminate the Leadership for me; nothing for Gareth).

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Gareth is my main opponent at Malifaux (and indeed, all wargames) and it's always a fun experience. I think that we were both a bit sad that this one was pretty much decided by luck in turn 1, but I guess if Gareth hadn't been so keen to fire all his good cards into locking Izamu down with Yin he would have had something left to pass the Horror duels on Yin and the Valedictorian. My main error was to move the Extraction marker way back then commit my crew too far forward to actually score from it.

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Game 5: Resurrectionists (me) vs Arcanists (Jamie Clark)

Strategy: Public Executions, close deployment

Schemes
Pool: Eliminate the Leadership, Dig Their Graves, Undercover Entourage, Show of Force, Take One For the Team
Resurrectionists: Dig Their Graves, Show of Force
Arcanists : Dig Their Graves, Take One For the Team (Wind Gamin)

Crews
Resurrectionists: Molly Squidpiddge (Forgotten Path, Take Back The Night, Wronged Spirits), Izamu the Armour (Unnerving Aura), Hannah (Unnerving Aura), Anna Lovelace, Onryo, Dead Doxy, Graveyard Spirit
Arcanists : Viktor Ramos (Arcane Reservoir, Philosopher's Stone), Joss (Open Current), Howard Langston (Imbued Energies), Mobile Toolkit, Metal Gamin, Wind Gamin, Brass Arachnid, Arcane Effigy

I extended my Henchman Hardcore crew to be lead by Molly with my preferred Spirit build. I've been trying Hannah lately with Molly, partly because I just love to use her, partly because of the amusing theme of having both Lovelaces in the same crew, partly because of Arcane Reservoir and partly because she doesn't have to worry about Black Blood thanks to her Freikorps suit. Having Anna around also means that Hannah is never short of something useful to copy with Make A New Entry. I considered taking a Belle instead of the Onryo but the latter won out because we defined the canals as difficult terrain, and I decided that Lures would be a bit less critical in close deployment. The two copies of Unnerving Aura were specifically for Show of Force, and I have to admit that I forgot about them for much of the game otherwise (to be fair, Jamie mentioned at the end that he had forgotten about his Arcane Reservoir for some of the turns). Jamie surprises me with a very cautious deployment.

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Turn 1: The Doxy pushes Molly and the Toolkit turns Langston up before Joss kills it to get the spider engine going for Ramos. I was expecting to get Langston right in Molly's face instead of Joss activating, so I take advantage of still actually having my Master unmolested by moving her forward and summoning a Goryo and a Drowned. I had the card to have a Hanged instead of the Goryo but I felt that the larger base of the Goryo made it a better option considering the board state. Molly makes the Goryo hit Langston and then chain activates to do it again, Slowing the big chap in the process. Ramos summons a pair of Steam Arachnids then kills both the Goryo and the Drowned which leaves Molly feeling again a bit exposed to Langston, though the Drowned does leave a scheme marker in quite a nice place. The Graveyard Spirit moves to Molly to make the inevitable arrive of Mr Langston a little less unpleasant. The Brass Arachnid Reactivates Langston and Hannah moves up to copy her sister's ranged attack but it misses Joss. Langston gets stuck into Molly but between armour from the Graveyard Spirit and having milled all teh good cards out of Jamie's hand earlier, I get away with only a relatively mild beating.

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Turn 2: Langston fails to kill Molly. She summons another Goryo and kills Langston to score for Dig Their Graves, pushing back to relative safety in the process. Hannah chain activates to kill a Spider and again copies Anna's Swirling Damned attack which draws a lot of Jamie's cards avoiding the resulting Horror duel in his bunched up crew. Joss misses a couple of attacks on the Goryo and my Onryo totally fails to land anything on the right-most Steam Arachnid. Ramos summons three more Steam Arachnids then the Goryo misses Joss who gets Reactivated by the Brass Arachnid. The Doxy pushes Izamu forward then charges in to kill one of the Steam Arachnids. Joss goes again and kills the Goryo, this time scoring for Dig Their Graves. Izamu charges into Joss; I'm thinking that if I can get him down to one wound it won't trigger the Reactivate again since each model can only get that condition once per turn, but it doesn't matter and the attacks are not particularly effective. The Spiders chip away at Izamu and Anna continues to miss shots at Joss. I score for Public Executions and Show of Force.

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Turn 3: The Arcanist crew have very conveniently formed a crowd around where the Goryo was just standing, so Molly summons in another Goryo and a Hanged, getting the former on full wounds and the latter on six. I'm not sure that was the best play, but it is not everyday that one gets an opportunity to do that so I wanted to take advantage while I could. She makes the Goryo stab Joss down to his last wound then chain activates Izamu who kills Joss and 2 Steam Arachnids. A highly effective couple of activations if I do say so myself. Jamie is getting sick of the Graveyard Spirit but only has the Effigy in a good spot to deal with it, resulting in a fight between two of the least effective combatants in the entire game. The Goryo kills the Brass Arachnid, mainly to get it out of my hair. Ramos summons a pair of Steam Arachnids to replace the ones despatched by Izamu, magnetises to one of them just to get clear of the scrum and shoots the Goryo. Anna kills the Wind Gamin, giving up 2VP for Take One For The Team and Hannah gently tickles the Metal Gamin which has finally completed its epic run round the side of the building. I throw everything I have left at the Effigy and finally kill it with the Hanged to score Dig Their Graves. I also pick up points for Public Executions and Show of Force.

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Turn 4: One of the Steam Arachnids and my Onryo both drop scheme markers. This is one of the many things I love about Malifaux: that sometimes a decision has to be made between activating a big fighter and just stabbing stuff versus using the smaller models to do things that will score points. A Steam Arachnid bites the Goryo. Izamu hurts Ramos, who summons a single Steam Arachnid, blows up the old one and magnetises to the new one. Anna and Hannah combine to kills the Metal Gamin which took a lot more work than I would have liked. The Goryo kills Ramos for Dig Their Graves and the Hanged kills the last Steam Arachnid. I score for the strategy and Show of Force again, and I won't be able to get Public Executions next turn as there is nothing left. Resurrectionists win 9 - 3 (3 for Public Executions, 3 for Dig Their Graves and 3 for Show of Force for me; 1 for Dig Their Graves and 2 for Take One For the Team for Jamie).

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Jamie is a really top chap to play against, he know his Malifaux really well (apart from his inexplicable failure to remember Arcane Reservoir) and all in all I had a very enjoyable game. We were both joking and laughing together at various happenings on the table and with the card flips, while at the same time playing a tight game and trying to win. In other words, how Malifaux should be, in my opinion. I think that Jamie made a mistake with a very defensive deployment that gave me access to control the choke point on the bridge and as a result his pieces were very clumped together while he tried to deal with the models I sent in. Clumped up opponents are what Molly loves to see. I liked the addition of Hannah instead of Datsue Ba [and 3SS of other stuff] and I certainly plan to try her in similar crews again.

Once the scores are all counted, I'm in first place (based on VP for as otherwise the Enforcer Brawl messes things up, though I think it would have been the same based on other measures). I still prefer standard 50SS games but this was an enjoyable change of pace and I think it could be a good format for introducing new players, at least as long as no-one is too abusive on the Enforcer Brawls. Thanks to Gareth, Mark, Martyn, Andy and Jamie for the fun games, and as always to Kai for doing all the work of running the whole show.

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Really really nice batreps! Also nice to see some enforcer and henchmen hardcore reports. Also Molly is my favorite master at the moment, so keep it coming ;)

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