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An Explorer's musings on Trials of Fate


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Hey Explorers,

I've just completed my 6th and final game of the Vassal World Series event: Trials of Fate, and while (some) of my memory is fresh, I thought I'd share my picks and experiences.

This was a 6 round GG2 event, which allowed Double Masters, run via Vassal.

If you'd like to see the maps we played on, you can download the player's pack from this page (although, note that round 5's map had to be changed to a pretty hostile map due to a glitch on the original map:) 

 

 

Anyway, let the essay begin:

 

 

Round 1 

Wedge Deployment - Symbols of Authority
Vendetta, Assassinate, Death Beds, Let Them Bleed, Bait & Switch

Lord Cooper1 vs McCabe2 (Explorer's).

My Crew:
Lord Cooper1, 3x Runaways, Malisaurus Rex, Model 9, Artemis, Ullr, Hopeful Prospect, Austera and Twigge.

Opponent's Crew:
McCabe2, Luna, Sidir, Desper with Flush with Cash, Botanist with Flush with Cash, 2x Crypsis Corps.

Crew Construction:
I built a fairly standard Lord Cooper1 build. When building Lord Cooper crews, I heavily prioritise non-Minion Apex models to maximise Ullr's By Your Side targets, and optimise the effects of Artemis' Intimidating Roar on my own models. Although McCabe has good options for ignoring Armour, Model 9 is usually mobile enough to avoid the most dangerous areas of the board, is a very important node for Ullr, and can use Masks of all varieties for great value so I still wanted to include him.

Knowing that Austera and Twigge is great at sniping Luna, for scoring Vendetta and helping with Bait & Switch, I added her to the build, and rounded it out with a Hopeful Prospect, which is a very useful model for Apex for a variety of well-known reasons.

Schemes:
Vendetta: 2vp, and Bait and Switch: 2vp
vs Assassinate: 0vp, and Vendetta: 0vp

I win 8-3

Thoughts on game:
When I was asked to activate first in turn 1, I used Herald to shuffle Austera forward into range of Luna, so that in the first activation of the game, she was able to immediately kill Luna with Focus and Walk back to safety. With Luna dead so early, the upgrade engine slows down significantly. A massive part of any game with McCabe is assessing if Luna can be killed early, because if she dies before activating, it's extremely difficult to catch up - as was the case in this game.

Apex is incredible on Symbols, incredible on Wedge Deployment, and really likes seeing Vendetta & Assassinate, so this was a match made in heaven. Predatory Instinct and Adversary means you're almost always ahead on the attack, which is where you want your AP to go while moving into position for claiming those Symbols.

The combination of By Your Side on Ullr, Artemis having Nimble, and Model9 being so quick and good at moving around combat means Apex remains my go to pick for Symbols if the pool, map and faction match up is good.

 

 

Round 2
Flank Deployment - Corrupted Ley Lines
Detonate Charges, Assassinate, Hidden Martyrs, Let Them Bleed, Spread Them Out

Lord Cooper1 vs Ophelia2

My Crew:
Lord Cooper1, 3x Runaways, Malisaurus Rex, Model 9, Artemis, Ullr, Hopeful Prospect, Botanist with Flush with Cash.

Opponent's Crew:
Ophelia2, 3x Young Lacroix, Sammy, Rami, Francois, Raphael with Inferiority Complex, Lacroix Raider, Bo Peep.

Crew Construction:
I didn't feel like I needed to deviate heavily from my round 1 list, since Artemis and Ullr are a fantastic pairing for Hidden Martyrs, Bayou sometimes struggle with Armour (so Model 9 felt right) and Rex's 2" reach and Terrifying 12 can be a big deal for Bayou's low WP, plus he can push models around which is very powerful in Ley Lines. However, with no easy Vendetta or Luna for Austera to prey upon, and with capturing Ley Lines being so important, I subbed her out for a Botanist to get some Planted Roots goodness.

Schemes:
Hidden Martyrs: 2vp, and Let Them Bleed: 1vp.
vs Assassinate: 1vp, and Hidden Martyrs: 1vp.

I win 6-5

Thoughts on game: 
In this game I experimented with Cooper1 on Ley Lines, even though he's not particularly good at this strategy, because the rest of the pool was very good for him and map was reasonable. I usually like a crew that can support Botanists well for Ley Lines, since Planted Roots is so important to secure your Ley Lines, so I usually lean towards McCabe or Nexus. However, in this game, I turned two Runaways into Corpses and Soulstones with Cooper (one for one of their bonus actions) to grow my Botanist by 2 Grow Tokens by turn 2 which feels ok since turn 1 he's just capturing the home Ley Line anyway. It's a decent unpack with Apex for Ley Lines, but it doesn't feel as efficient as McCabe or Nexus, and since Cooper1 himself doesn't have a way to push enemies, he remains a fringe pick for Ley Lines, so I doubt I'll pick him for it again in a hurry.

Ophelia2 is very interesting, and can really push the stat advantage - at one stage she had Rami launching stat7 or stat8 nukes that ignores LoS, which almost one shot my Botanist running the Ley Line and killed Artemis next to it. Finishing off the Botanist with other high stat attacks, the lodestone hopped to Lord Cooper, who was forced to Walk 3 times and have no bonus action just to secure my third Ley Line, which feels awful.

I inadvertently gave my opponent Hidden Martyrs by trying to play around the obvious target (the Raider, right in my lines) and then I killed Sammy, who was the other target, yielding my opponent a vp for it anyway. It was a classic case of outplaying oneself, and a lesson that sometimes the heads up play where you just remove an enemy model, even if it offers up Martyrs, is sometimes correct, because you might just deny both points in one turn.

This game also showed just how little control of the game I really had, as my opponent had last activation of the game, and all he needed was to not flip Black Joker on damage when attacking his own model to draw the game - of course, he flipped Black Joker, because bad things happen, but it really should have been a draw at best for me. Lord Cooper's just not cut out for Leylines, so I'll take limping to a 1 point win as a massive victory for him.

 

 

Round 3
Standard Deployment - Turf War
Detonate Charges, Vendetta, Catch and Release, Spread Them Out, Bait and Switch

McCabe2 vs Kaeris2

My Crew:
McCabe2, Luna, Desper, Sandworm, 3x Botanists, Huckster with Flush with Cash.

Opponent's Crew:
Kaeris2 with Magical Training (I think), Eternal Flame, 2x Firebranded (1 with Magical Training), Deacon, Carlos, Elijah.

Crew Construction: 
I built this crew to apply maximum stat pressure to Kaeris' crew, while having huge interaction potential and obscene movement, in spite of the map being drenched in Severe and having plenty of Blocking terrain. I'm a big fan of Sandworm in Bait and Switch, as it can easily deny the second point. I figured that I wasn't going to be able to kill a lot (though the Sandworm was available to potentially help kill things if in the right position) but I could get around the map efficiently, pin the opponent in his half, and score most of my points - in theory.

Schemes:
Detonate Charges: 1vp and Catch and Release: 1vp.
vs Detonate Charges: 2vp, Bait and Switch: 1vp.

We tie 5-5

Thoughts on game: 
Loading up the Botanists with Artefact upgrades makes them almost unkillable to conventional attacks (as they're Df7, Wp6, and reduce nearby enemy attacks by -1), so after doing this I took control of the entire map. At one stage I had claimed all 5 Turf War markers through sheer AP advantage, and not one of my opponent's models ever crossed the centreline of the map.

However, as I learned the hard way in Turf War, it's not enough to have supreme mobility and be almost unkillable - you either have to be completely unkillable, or kill at least some of your opponent's models - and it helps if you read your opponent's cards thoroughly. It also helps if you don't do stupid things like exposing Sandworm without good cards in hand to let your opponent score an early Bait and Switch point on it for free, while achieving basically nothing. The irony of bringing a model to help with Bait and Switch ending up costing you Bait and Switch wasn't lost on me. 

Kaeris2, in the last activation of the game, scored 1vp and denied me 2vp by pushing models around from across the board, then flying next to my C&R Botanist with enough burning to nuke it for 5 burning damage without flipping any cards, which is a pretty good way to remove a model that you can't usually beat in conventional duels. Meanwhile, the Firestarter claimed that burning death, and my burning Huckter's death as his own kills, neutralising 2 Markers in the End Phase of the last turn to deny me my 4th Strat point.

Overall, my opponent played very well and found a way to overcome the insane stat advantage I had on basically ever opposed duel. I still think hiring 3 Botanists is very viable in a pool like this, especially given the map, but I think I needed to use the Sandworm more carefully (or just not hire it), and I needed to realise the dynamic threats that Kaeris2 and Firestarter pose earlier in the game so I could try to play around them.

 

 

Round 4
Break The Line - Corner Deployment
Vendetta, Death Beds, Outflank, Research Mission, Bait and Switch

Nexus2 vs Mah2

My Crew:
3x Nexus2, 2x Shambling Nests, 3x Botanists, Sandworm, Archivist, Nightsilk Creeper.

Opponent's Crew:
Mah2 with Inferiority Complex, Little Lass, Sparks, Big Brain Brin, 2x Survivors, 2x Soulstone Miners, Mechanised Porkchop.

Crew Construction: 
It was Corner and Break The Line, so I wanted tonnes of AP, so 3 Masters and 3 Botanists gets me there. From there, I needed to support the Botanists, so I nabbed web generation models. It helps that those models also have Place effects to contribute to the Break The Line plan.

You can also build the list with Meredith Stanley and 1 or more Eyes and Ears to grow Berserker Husks while you grow your Botanists, but I generally find Meredith to be a pretty lacklustre investment for my playstyle; I want 3 AP out of just about every model in this list to continue to push Markers and reposition my models, and I want to be able to engage enemy models to stop them pushing the markers back. Meredith often doesn't do anything meaningful with her AP (when I play her) so I opted for the Sandworm in her stead to apply some threat to the entire map and have the ability to deny Bait and Switch at the end of game very easily - but this time I would play it more carefully!

I didn't know which way Mah would go - either with hyper mobile Rooster Riders and Bushwhackers to control the mid board, or a mechanised list - which is what he opted for - but the raw AP and Parasite control that Nexus2 offers made me feel comfortable either way.

Schemes:
Death Beds: 2vp, and Research Mission: 2vp.
vs Death Beds: 1vp, and Research Mission: 1vp.

I win 8-2

Thoughts on game: 
Nexus2 is an absolutely brutal master for Break The Line - by having 3 Masters with 3 AP each, and having 2 Totems with From The Shadows and 2" melee engagement ranges, you have good AP count and control for the Strat markers before you even hire a single model.

My opponent screwed up his unpack slightly, which stopped his Survivors from getting near the mid board efficiently, but he did managed to start spitting out Scrap and Pit Traps around the middle of the board. I covered two Strat markers with my Nests to keep them from being pushed into my half, grew my Botanists up and sent them to the flanks, then surged forward with my keyword models courtesy of Playthings to take control of the middle.

From there, I applied pressure with Parasites to keep Mah off balance, heal my models,  and control the Strat markers to ensure  my opponent couldn't score any Strat points.

 

 

Round 5
Wedge Deployment - Corrupted Ley Lines
Breakthrough, Detonate Charges, Claim Jump, Hidden Martyrs, Catch and Release

McCabe2 vs Tara2

My Crew:
McCabe2 with Treasure Map, Luna, Sidir with Treasure Map, 2x Botanists (1 with Flush with Cash), Alpinist, Malisaurus Rex.

Opponent's Crew:
Tara2, Karina, Thirty Three, Scion of the Void, Talos, Nothing Beast, 2x Void Wretches, Prospector. 

Crew Construction: 
I built this skewed crew to try and withstand the potential Tara2 kidnap by having high Sz stats, the ability to reduce enemy attack stats, having Extended Reach to keep my crew safe turn 1, while bringing in Ruthless to handle the Terrifying models that Tara can bring and the Alpinist to get around the board successfully - there were 3" platforms, walls and pools of Lava everywhere. With Tara's unbeatable activation control, I was forced to pick Treasure Maps for Sidir & McCabe to deny Catch and Release and try to score Claim Jump, depending on his crew selection.

Schemes:
Claim Jump: 1vp, and Hidden Martyrs: 1vp
vs Claim Jump: 2vp, and Hidden Martyrs: 1vp

I lose 6-7

Thoughts on game: 
I deployed very, very carefully to deny the kidnap, placing McCabe on some boxes so that his 2" Extended Reach could protect most of my crew, while my Flush with Cash Botanist and Rex were further forward. My opponent didn't realise I had Extended Reach, so activated Tara first activation of the game, and spent several cards and all his AP deploying 33 into my lines. Being unable to hit the target he originally wanted, he instead went for Rex, but I had a 13 in hand to keep it safe. In spite of this massive advantage, I couldn't really capitalise since 33 just vanishes back to complete safety in his deployment zone courtesy of Rewind.

It's a really crushing psychological blow when know you your opponent wasted their masters activation, but it just doesn't matter, since you can't retaliate - especially when, in first activation of the following turn, 33 is flung in again to Bury McCabe anyway, placing in b2b to negate Extended Reach, and then once more hop back to safety with Rewind. 

I applied pressure to Tara and Talos as best as I could, but sure enough, McCabe and Sidir were Buried, were not allowed to Unbury, had their stats reduced, and were systematically chewed through over the course of turns 2 and 3, through 7 of my Soulstones.

I've always struggled against Tara, and when she's piloted by one of the best Outcast players in the world, you really have to temper your expectations. Considering the above, I was overjoyed to only lose by 1 point.

 

 

Round 6
Flank Deployment - Symbols of Authority
Breakthrough, Hidden Martyrs, Catch and Release, Research Mission, Spread Them Out

McCabe2 vs Kirai2

My Crew:
McCabe2, Luna, Desper, 2x Botanists (1 with Flush with Cash, 1 with Treasure Map), Intrepid Emissary, Corpse Curator, Huckster.

Opponent's Crew:
Kirai2 with The Whisper, Ikiryo, Datsue Ba with The Whisper, Lost Love, Gwisin, Seishin, Jaakuna, Manos the Risen

Crew Construction: 
Although I enjoy Lord Cooper in Symbols, he has some poor match ups vs Ressurs. So, I opted for McCabe once again, who can play a pretty good Symbols game and has some great match ups vs Ressurs himself.

When building a list vs Kirai, I figured I had to either avoid her crew at all costs to deny her summoning, or play a list that would have a stat advantage big enough that the summons wouldn't really matter. I decided to bring a crew that could do both, bringing in plenty of high stats, and plenty of interaction prowess. As I also really rate 2" engagement ranges on Symbols, I brought in the Emissary to hold the line with McCabe and protect a Symbol, while the rest of my crew could focus on scoring and denying points.

Schemes:
Hidden Martyrs: 1vp, and Catch and Release: 2vp
vs Hidden Martyrs: 2vp, and Breakthrough: 2vp

I win 7-6

Thoughts on game: 
Knowing that I had Don't Mind Me on Desper, and my opponent didn't have any Don't Mind Me models, I set up to defend my Symbols as planned in crew construction. I set up my Symbols in easily defendable places, and unpacked slowly and carefully to maximise card draw from Looted Supply and ensure I got the right Artefacts out at the right time.

Leveraging Looted Supplies and Faded Mirror on both of my Botanists was extremely helpful in this game, keeping my hand topped up throughout each turn, and cycling out Weaks from my hand during Opposed Duels. Having a good Control Hand is essential with a build and match up like this, as every turn you have to make sure to dodge multiple Ikiryo attacks, hit your TNs with Desper, Luna and the Huckster, and in some cases you'll want to deny Kirai's summoning too.

My overall plan worked - even though my opponent outscored me on Schemes, I managed to dominate the Symbols game and take out the win. Catch and Release on a Botanist with the Treasure Map is very, very strong with McCabe2. 

 

Final Thoughts on event:

  • I ended the event at 4 wins, 1 loss and 1 draw, and a healthy differential of +12
  • Despite being a Double Masters event, no extra Masters were hired in any of my games - unless you count Nexus2!
  • Masters' new titles were picked 10/12 times, with my Lord Cooper1 pick for Rounds 1 & 2 being the only original title picked.
  • McCabe has an almost never ending skill ceiling, and I can't wait to get more games in with him. In all 3 of the games where I played him, I feel I could have done better with more experience and time playing the keyword. 
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  • 1 month later...

Hey @hydranixx I am currently studying McCabe2 and Botanists and with your lists I am wondering how quickly you "grew" the Bots/created upgrades? As the lists above looks like they would create 1 or 2 on the first turn then rely on Luna creating scrap? Are you ensuring that any 6 :maskor higher is going to the huckster to generate scrap? Is Luna then creating an upgrade then generating more scrap so McCabe can create one so the Botanist get 2 grow tokens before they activate?

I think my problem is I see McCabe needing to play the upgrade mini-game, but is that actually a trap? 

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On 7/28/2022 at 10:23 AM, Kogan Style said:

Hey @hydranixx I am currently studying McCabe2 and Botanists and with your lists I am wondering how quickly you "grew" the Bots/created upgrades? As the lists above looks like they would create 1 or 2 on the first turn then rely on Luna creating scrap? Are you ensuring that any 6 :maskor higher is going to the huckster to generate scrap? Is Luna then creating an upgrade then generating more scrap so McCabe can create one so the Botanist get 2 grow tokens before they activate?

I think my problem is I see McCabe needing to play the upgrade mini-game, but is that actually a trap? 

Going to latch myself onto that question, as I'm currently in the process of doing the same :)

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Checking in on Discord and it seems 1 or 2 upgrades on turn one is the default. One from Luna and one from McCabe. So you are looking for either 6 :maskif you have a Huckster, or 6 :tome so that McCabe can hit the Glimpse of Gold trigger on "Take what you can carry" This way you'll get the Botanist two grow tokens on turn 1. 

Corpse Curator isn't helpful in this particular build as using the curator as a corpse marker doesn't proc. the grow token as no marker gets removed. Still a valid piece for card draw though. I had thought about Curator and Jessie Halliday or Lamplighter and Halliday, as the Curator and Lamplighter create/bring markers that Halliday could remove, and then turn into a scrap marker but at this point you really start warping the crew build into something that works for making upgrades, but isn't going to help you win the game! 

 

Interested to hear other options/opinions on the Tomb Delver!

 

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On 7/28/2022 at 8:23 PM, Kogan Style said:

Hey @hydranixx I am currently studying McCabe2 and Botanists and with your lists I am wondering how quickly you "grew" the Bots/created upgrades? As the lists above looks like they would create 1 or 2 on the first turn then rely on Luna creating scrap? Are you ensuring that any 6 :maskor higher is going to the huckster to generate scrap? Is Luna then creating an upgrade then generating more scrap so McCabe can create one so the Botanist get 2 grow tokens before they activate?

I think my problem is I see McCabe needing to play the upgrade mini-game, but is that actually a trap? 

Very quickly.

The core objective if you bring 2+ Botanist is to hand out two grow Tokens on turn 1, ideally before either of them activate. They're just not impressive without 2 tokens. Such lists run more of a positional / attrition based plan so they seldom need to table the opponent, so it's pretty rare that I'll hand out the Timeworn Blade until turn 3/4. Instead, over the course of turn 1 and 2, I aim to hand out 2x Phantasmal Masks and 2x Faded Mirrors. Of course, if the opponent has models that really demand a Timeworn Blade answer, then I'll change it up and equip the sword earlier.

12 hours ago, Kogan Style said:

Checking in on Discord and it seems 1 or 2 upgrades on turn one is the default. One from Luna and one from McCabe. So you are looking for either 6 :maskif you have a Huckster, or 6 :tome so that McCabe can hit the Glimpse of Gold trigger on "Take what you can carry" This way you'll get the Botanist two grow tokens on turn 1. 

Corpse Curator isn't helpful in this particular build as using the curator as a corpse marker doesn't proc. the grow token as no marker gets removed. Still a valid piece for card draw though. I had thought about Curator and Jessie Halliday or Lamplighter and Halliday, as the Curator and Lamplighter create/bring markers that Halliday could remove, and then turn into a scrap marker but at this point you really start warping the crew build into something that works for making upgrades, but isn't going to help you win the game! 

 

Correct. If you luck out and have a:maskof about 6-10 available for the Huckster, that's ideal, but that won't come up very often, so in some cases I did default to going for the :tome trigger on Take what you can carry. It's not great though, and I think going forward, I'm building in more Scrap generation. For instance, If you hire the Corpse Curator and/or  Calypso and Dr Beebe, then you have multiple :tome triggers to generate scrap as that'll save McCabe an Action.

Jessie is.... ok. I've used her before as part of the scrap engine. The big issue as you've pointed out already is you need another Marker, plus she still needs to hit a 6+ on her TN. Outside of that, she's also pretty weak unless you're very interested in removing enemy Markers.

 

I think I really, really like McCabe for the In Your Face Scheme in GG3

The current build I'm working on for In Your Face pools is:

McCabe2
Luna
3 Botanists
Huckster
Dr Beebe + Calypso OR Corpse Curator

Either 14ss or 22ss remaining to season to taste, but only purchasing models of cost 6 or below.

For instance, in the game I'm playing later this week against Reva in a fairly positional-based pool with In Your Face, I've taken:

McCabe2
Luna
3 Botanists
Huckster
Dr Beebe
Calypso
Cryptologist
Hopeful Prospect
4ss cache

 

@Beta

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