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Malifaux tournament report: Vapnartak 2016 (45SS); 07Feb2016


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I've had some good times at the previous Vapnartak events I've attended and so when tickets were on sale for the 2016 iteration I was very happy to buy one from Chris, the organiser, at some tournament we met at. Normally I'm very lucky that Joe drives me around to these far-flung locations, but this time Joe's car broke down and I was obliged to drive. The effects of my driving can be seen in the results that Joe and Furycat managed at the tournament. Still, I was really excited for this, not only the first singles event of 2016 but my first ever games using the new Gaining Grounds 2016 schemes.

Game 1: Outcasts (me) vs Resurrectionists (Connor Barker; Proximocoal on the forums)

Strategy: Extraction

Pool: Convict Labour, Leave Your Mark, A Quick Murder, Hunting Party, Covert Breakthrough
Outcasts: A Quick Murder (Izamu the Armour), Hunting Party
Resurrectionists: A Quick Murder (Taelor), Hunting Party

Outcasts: Jack Daw (Writhing Torment, Twist and Turn, Firing Squad Injustice, Guillotine Injustice, Drowning Injustice), Freikorps Librarian, 2 Freikorps Trappers, Taelor, Guilty, Rusty Alyce [edit: as pointed out by Viefaux this is actually 48SS, so I cheated Connor here.  I've already apologised to him, and as a true gentleman he's accepted my apology]
Resurrectionists: Yan Lo (Reliquary, Fortify The Spirit), Izamu the Armour (Spirit Beacon), Toshiro the Daimyo (Command the Graves, Corpse Bloat), Soul Porter, Philip and the Nanny (Take Back The Night), Dead Doxy

So after 4 hours of driving South, my first round match up is exactly the same opponent and strategy as the first round of my previous event. Lucky for me that Connor is such a great chap to play against. I picked Jack Daw to hope that the pushes on Tormented pieces could allow me to keep my own models near the Marker and possibly push Connor's away (but it didn't; I forgot about it entirely on the other crew). Alyce and Taelor are both very good for killing so I took Hunting Party, and I realised that I would have to drop Izamu at some point so took A Quick Murder on him so that I could score some points for doing so. It appears that I forgot to take picture of the start of the game.

Turn 1: The Guilty Torments Taelor. The Soul Porter pushes Yan Lo and Toshiro forward while keeping carefully out of sight of my Trappers. Toshiro brings up a corpse marker and summons an Ashigaru from it, then drops a scheme marker. Philip then discards the marker for some card cycling. Both Trappers put bullets into Yan Lo to put a bit of pressure on the old man. The Doxy pushes Yan Lo forward with Take The Lead, then he heals Toshiro and shoots a Trapper. Alyce, who has been made Tormented and moved forward by Jack Daw, puts another bullet into Yan Lo but he Red Jokers the prevention flip.


Turn 2: Yan Lo double focusses and shoots Taelor, then picks up Spirit Ascendant. Luckily for me I flip like a champion on defense and stop Connor from cheating in the Red Joker. The Librarian uses Furious Casting on the Doxy, killing her and scoring me a point for Hunting Party. Izamu steams up the right side and smites the Trapper, starting Connor's own Hunting Party and summoning a Seishin in the process. Alyce Rapid Fires to kill Toshiro who is helpfully standing out of cover. The Ashigaru charges into the Librarian and is charged right back by my Guilty. Taelor charges Izamu; luckily top-decking the Red Joker on the first swing so I stone in the Tome to make sure of the kill on the second; this scores me 3 points for A Quick Murder. Jack Daw puts Guillotine Injustice on the Ashigaru and lands Philip with Firing Squad Injustice (but I made a mistake and should have charged in to use the Noose instead of Suppressed Memories for the better weak damage; I was hoping to make use of the lower willpower on Philip). We both score on the Strategy; I move the marker a toward my board edge.


Turn 3: Taelor charges into Yan Lo, missing one swing then Black Jokering damage on the second. The Ashigaru finishes off the Librarian while the Guilty pokes gently at Philip. The Soul Porter moves Yan Lo toward the Guilty. Alyce shoots the last wound off the Ashigaru for Hunting Party and Jack Daw charges in and drops a Red Joker damage flip to kill Yan Lo. I score on the strategy. We look at the board state and agree that either Alyce or Taelor will be able to drop either the Soul Porter or the Seishin next turn for a final Hunting Party point, and therefore that we can call this here and spend more time looking round the rest of the show. Outcasts win 10 - 2 (full score for me; one for Extraction and one for Hunting Party for Connor).


All games against Connor are fun, and I was glad to get a win against him after a couple of defeats in a row. The board was quite open (not as much as it looked; we treated the cactus bases as forests to have a bit more line of sight blocking) and the Trappers and Alyce were able to get a lot of work done. We ended up picking the same schemes for the same reasons; I would have been quite interested to see what else was popular in the rest of the field. I met up with my old mate Rob and spent the rest of the lunch break looking round the show and catching up before we were onto round 2.  [edit: obviously, winning is a bit easier when you field a bigger crew than your opponent.  Probably not much to learn here apart from that I need to count better.]

Edited by Argentbadger
Edited to note that I cheated by selecting an over-sized crew
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Game 2: Outcasts (me) vs Outcasts (Maria Wieland; MariFaux on the forums)

Strategy: Head Hunter

Pool: Convict Labour, Hunting Party, Catch and Release, Show of Force, Occupy Their Turf
My Outcasts: Show of Force, Hunting Party
Maria's Outcasts: Convict Labour, Hunting Party

My Outcasts: Tara (Knowledge of Eternity), Freikorps Librarian, Rusty Alyce (Desolate Soul), Hodgepodge Effigy, Johan, Bishop (Scramble), Malifaux Child
Maria's Outcasts: Hamelin (Piper, Infectious Melodies, Oathkeeper), Johan (Oathkeeper), Hodgepodge Emissary (Conflux of Plague), Stolen, Taelor (Oathkeeper, Scout the Field), Obedient Wretch

In theory I like Jack Daw a lot in Head Hunter since the pushes from Writhing Torment can make it quite easy to collect the head markers. In this case, I was worried that we would end up with a ridiculous 'Jack Daw off' where everyone gets pushed this way and that before any action takes place. So I decided to take Tara instead since being Fast can make quite a lot of difference too. On such an open board I'd normally be thinking about Trappers, but they would be counter productive in Head Hunter as they'd just end up showering heads around Maria's deployment zone for her to score. Having Show of Force in the scheme pool made me deviate from my normal style too; I'm not really a fan of taking lots of upgrades but in this case I felt that I had to do so to avoid just giving up three points to Maria if she took some upgrades. Once I'd taken them, I felt that I might as well go all the way and select that scheme. With so many expected minions cycling through the Hamelin crew I thought that Hunting Party should be very achievable.


Turn 1: Various combinations of vermin and children get thrown about and turned into each other; my notes don't allow me to replicate the actual sequences. Tara makes Alyce Fast and my crew advance to hold the centre of the board. Hamelin uses a soulstone to summon a pair of Stolen, Obeys Taelor forward and Obeys the Emissary forward. The latter moves toward the centreline and drops a scheme marker.


Turn 2: More rats and children waste activations. Tara taps both Alyce and Bishop for Fast; the Child does the same for Johan. Alyce Rapid Fires Johan down to his Hard to Kill wound and Bishop rushes over to finish him off then scramble back into the centre since Alyce is too far away to score Show of Force. The Effigy uses the Mist and drops a scheme marker to try and fake like I'm doing Convict Labour and not Hunting Party. Hamelin Obeys my Effigy toward Taelor's waiting embrace and summons another Stolen (the previous ones are probably a Rat Catcher by now, certainly there is one around somewhere). Taelor smites the Effigy into matchwood (scoring Hunting Party in the process) and the Emissary picks up the head. I score for Show of Force.


Turn 3: Tara makes Alyce, the Librarian and Bishop Fast. Johan picks up the head of his fallen twin and the Librarian shouts most of the wounds off the Emissary. Bishop kills a Rat Catcher who fell out of a Rat King at some earlier stage (scoring for Hunting Party) and Alyce puts a couple of bullets into Hamelin to keep him cautious. Hamelin Obeys Alyce to kill off my Child, getting round Manipulative cleverly. I actually cheated high enough to put her on a negative damage flip but the Red Joker blew the little chap away. If he'd survived on one wound I could have hidden him safely behind some rock pillars. Tara kills the Emissary and Taelor uses Oathkeeper to pick up its head. I score Show of Force again.


Turn 4: Tara Slows Taelor and makes Alyce and Johan Fast. The Rat Catcher goes Fast, walks over to Bishop and picks up the head of his predecessor then rudely dies before Bishop could punch him. Alyce guns down a Rat King (Hunting Party) and summons an Abomination from it in the hope of making Maria work to score another Hunting Party point. Another child rushes over to pick up the head to stop me from collecting it and sacrifices itself. The Librarian shouts at Taelor and eventually Johan charges in to her, getting her down to Hard to Kill and knocking her out of range of the centre (because I still thought that Maria might have Show of Force herself). Hamelin repeatedly Lures my new Abomination over, eventually killing it. Maria scores for Hunting party at the end of the turn since I have no minions left again, and I score a final point for Show of Force.


Turn 5: Tara finishes off Taelor. Hamelin kills his own last Rat with Useless Toys then runs off to the corner. I'm not really sure why Maria killed the rat herself since it scored me the last Hunting Party point for free. Johan picks up Taelor's head and revels in wielding the last Relic Hammer on the table. My Outcasts win 8 - 6 (2 for Head Hunter and everything for the schemes for me; 3 for Head Hunter and 3 for Hunting Party for Maria).


As always, that was a terrific game against Maria. On my side of the table, I felt that I managed to keep on top of the summoning cycle by forcing Maria to expend pieces from time to time just to keep me at bay. Scoring Hunting Party was much trickier than I expected since Maria played her crew very cagily, but I had the mobility and power to get some kills and some heads where I needed them. Having all schemes unrevealed at the start made the whole game very interesting because I wasn't sure what to try to counter; having said that I think that maybe Convict Labour was not really the right strategy for Maria.

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Game 3: Outcasts (me) vs Arcanists (Mark Shepherd; AnythingBut on the forums)

Strategy: Collect the Bounty

Pool: Convict Labour, Exhaust Their Forces, Leave Your Mark, Search The Ruins, Mark For Death
My Outcasts: Search The Ruins, Mark For Death
Arcanists: Leave Your Mark, Mark For Death

My Outcasts: Tara (Knowledge of Eternity), Freikorps Librarian, Rusty Alyce, Hodgepodge Effigy, Taelor, 2 Freikorps Trappers
Arcanists: Marcus (Hunger Cry, Feral Instincts, Trail of the Gods), Myranda (Imbued Energies), Rogue Necromancy (Imbued Energies), Sabretooth Cerberus (Imbued Energies), Waldgeist, Jackalope, Arcane Effigy

I was absolutely delighted to be drawn against Mark. We've spent most of the 2015 tournament playing at adjacent tables so it was lovely to finally get in a game with him. I chose Tara again for this to try to make the most of flank deployment and the central terrain. Basically I intended to use the middle for cover and shoot things as they came at me; Tara making things Fast or Slow means that I either have longer to do it or more shots per turn. The Trappers were intended to whittle things down and force the incoming Arcanists to spread out to get to them. I took Taelor in case I ended up looking at Joss, Howard Langston or some other equally nasty armoured construct across the table. Search The Ruins felt good since I was aiming to take the centre anyway, and I figured that Mark For Death was basically what I was aiming for in the first place; albeit with an additional step of marking the target first.


Turn 1: The Waldgeist comes up and Germinates. One Trapper shoots it anyway and the other one shoots the Arcane Effigy, which spends the rest of the game hiding out of my line of sight. The Rogue Necromancy Stalks Taelor. Marcus takes his fast walk and rushes over to the cover of another building. Alyce Focusses and shoots some more wounds out of the Waldgeist. We finish the turn classily with the Cerberus failing to Leap and Tara missing a double Focus shot at the Necromancy.


Turn 2: The Cerberus discards Imbued Energies, Leaps onto the roof, Marks the Trapper for death and duly eats him, scoring a point in the process. Tara Slows the Rogue Necromancy and runs away from Marcus who is sitting looking threatening in the corner; the construct shoots some nasty poison onto Taelor. The surviving Trapper misses the Waldgeist twice and Myrand heals it. The Effigy drops scheme markers, then Alyce shoots the Necromancy before Taelor rushes over to kill it. Marcus charges Taelor with melee expert and extra damage and I blow through my cards and soulstones to keep her alive on one wound. Tara moves even further away from Marcus and makes the rest of my crew Fast with Temporal Shift thanks to the Jackalope having come up too far. Taelor finally succumbs to the Poison but I do score for the strategy.

Turn 3: Marcus steams over with a load of extra powers and, to my great surprise, attacks the Librarian (I thought he'd just kill off Tara). She survives but is a Domesticated beast. Tara Marks Marcus, Slows him and pokes him gently with her sword, drawing a couple of cards from Mark to stop me Burying him. The Walgeist comes into the scrum, the Trapper misses Myranda (a terrible choice of target but I think the was the only option) who piles in as well. She heals Marcus a little and turns into a Blessed of December. The Librarian Focusses and hurts Marcus. My Effigy drops another scheme marker and is then charged ineffectually by the Jackalope. Alyce charges Marcus and eventually kills both the Librarian and the Walgeist with redirected attacks. The Cerberus moves well into my side of the board and drops a scheme marker which is later revealed for Leave Your Mark. Tara's second activation has her slapping Marcus a bit with her sword. I score for Collect the Bounty.


Turn 4: This is called as the last turn. Marcus Marks Alyce, takes melee expert and additional damage and swing at her. She's unwounded so he needs better than weak damage on at least one swing. The second one brings out the Red Joker, vapourising the girl and scoring Mark For Death. Tara taps Mrarcus for Slow and he conveniently Black Jokers the resist for Glimpse the Void, thereby scoring me for Mark For Death finally. She also Slows the Jackalope and Blessed. The Cerberus schemes again. The Effigy Marks the Blessed, which Leaps away to remove a scheme marker. The Trapper takes a couple of shots at it and on the second I cheat low to get a triple negative flip, hoping to luck out and draw the Red Joker I'd need for the kill. I do indeed get lucky and gun down the Blessed for another Mark For Death point. The Jackalope blocks Tara so she kills it and drops a scheme marker. Mark scores on the strategy. Outcasts win 7 - 6 (2 for Collect the Bounty, 2 for Mark For Death and 3 for Search The Ruins for me; 1 for Collect the Bounty, 3 for Mark For Death and 2 for Leave Your Mark for Mark).


The game did indeed live up to the expectation; Mark is a much of a gent to play as he is to chat with. My only gripe is to play a man called Mark when there were also two schemes in the pool with 'mark' in the name! I was in general quite happy with how I played; I gave Taelor away a little cheaply but being my main melee threat in this crew I was sure to lose her eventually. I clearly need to play more games against Marcus as I always struggle against his crews; the threat range is huge. The last turn of that game got quite silly with Red and Black Jokers coming up just at critical times.

When the scores are counted up I came in with second place which I am very pleased with in that field. Most importantly I got three fun games against three very strong players, so thanks to Connor, Maria and Mark for enjoying my day with me. Thanks too to Chris and his helper team for putting on a very smooth event and keeping everything running like clockwork.  I'm already looking forward to the next Vappafaux.

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Another great read and fantastic insight to your decision making at these events Paul, and i'm finally famous! :D


Thanks again for the great game and for being a gent throughout. one of the closest i've ever had with critical red/black jokers for each of us which could have swung the game either way. I feel like my play is finally improving this year where i've been able to grab some wins against the top players so hopefully it's the first of many top table clashes between us!

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Thank you again for the amazing reports!

And that was some hefty opposition you faced. And that third game! What a nailbiter and what a turn-around on the final turn. Seriously good stuff from both sides!

I felt that Yan Lo went a bit easily but I blame the terrain in part as your shooty crew had a field day on that one.

And Maria fell victim to your crew's pressure so she couldn't get into completing Convict Labor at all.

Why no I Pay Better, though?

Also, what's you opinion on GG-16 now that you've had a tournament's worth of it. You even tried bluffing with a Scheme which was something that, at least in our games, came about really rarely with the original set of Schemes.

Finally, you seem to have adjusted to Outcasts well now. Do you like their complexity more than the simpler brutality of the Guild? Or is it simply a change of pace and refreshing in that but ultimately not better or worse.

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Mark - thanks!  Hopefully the first of many (almost) top table games for us.  It was especially sweet to get a game against you after being on the table next to you for most events in 2015.  The game was so close that the result essentially came down to luck in the form of the Red and Black Jokers to decide in the final turn.

Math Mathonwy - thank you for your kind words.  Vappa is a really interesting tournament as it draws a lot of skilled players (probably half the attendees are people I consider credible event winners on any given day) but has only 3 rounds.  This means that if you get drawn against a top player in round one (reasonably likely, since that's about half the field) and win then you'll probably face another strong player in round two and the same again in round three.  Effectively the winner of the event is almost sure to be decided by VP difference.  In some ways this is part of the charm of the whole thing; the round numbers and times are kept deliberately short so that we can go and see the rest of the Vapnartak show.  Anyway, I'm always glad to test myself against skilled players, with whom Connor, Maria and Mark are certainly included.  That almost everyone I've ever faced in Malifaux has been a perfect lady/gentleman means that I don't worry about having to avoid the legendary 'That Guy'.

I didn't use 'I Pay Better' for the simple reason that I don't own the book or any deck which includes it as a card; I will eventually pick up the generic upgrade deck.  So I can't give any wonderful tactical insight, although I will say that I don't particularly miss it.  The same goes for Oathkeeper (which I do have access to in the wave one deck); I don't find that I use it that often.

GG2016 is absolutely wonderful.  At this point I cannot praise the makers of the updated schemes highly enough.  I think they'll really shake up tournament play for several months at least while people work out their preferred options, and if the balance is genuinely better than the book schemes (in terms of making them all viable) then the long term impact will be even more appreciated.  As you correctly point out, making all the schemes unrevealed means that bluffing a scheme that you won't score in turn 2 becomes a viable strategy, something that wasn't often the case in the book schemes.  For me at least, GG2016 has injected fresh life into a game I already love to play.

I'm really enjoying Outcasts at the moment, though it's hard to say whether I like them more than the Guild (or Ten Thunders that I played pretty much exclusively up to the end of 2014 before I gave them to Furycat).  Part of that is the relative freshness of playing with a new set of tools and trying to find what works in my hands for the tasks I need.  It could be argued that Guild suited me better because I often play quite aggressively, but I haven't found Outcasts to be lacking in that department.  I would note the faction to faction balance though: I played Ten Thunders for about a year, then Guild for about a year and now I'm on Outcasts and I haven't seen any notable difference in my event results.  That suggests to me, in the limited dataset of my own experience, that those three factions have comparable efficacy under my control in the shifting UK tournament scene.

On that last point I'd be interested to read if anyone else has swapped factions and found a big change in their fortunes as a (perceived) result of doing so.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

Viefaux has pointed out via my blog that I selected a crew of at least 48SS in game 1, so I cheated Connor.  I've already messaged Connor to apologise and Chris to find out if he needs to do anything as a TO.  Connor, like the true gentleman that he is, has accepted my apology.

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