Thursday, 27 March 2014

ToMB Month 2: Spreading Blight

Month one has been and gone, an awful lot faster than expected. My painting has been very poor, only completing one stolen in the first three weeks last month. I did have one final push and managed to complete one more stolen and two more rats (aside from their bases... That still counts thought right?). This leaves me with a back-log of Hamelin, Nix, two Rat Catchers and one more Stolen from my initial month one purchases.

I did manage to play a few games with in month 1, learning a lot of things about his crew – mostly things NOT to do in future games:
  • Stolen are rare 3 – However this doesn’t stop them from being totems, so you can only start the game with 1 on the field!
  • Rats cannot perform disengaging strikes, but they can get in the way. They can get in the way a LOT. If you are not careful they will stop your own crew from having anywhere to move, especially in areas with a high density of terrain.
  • My current crew selection is mostly peons and insignificant models. This is something that will NEED to be fixed in future months, but first...
  • I don’t have enough rats. It isn’t a choice whether I summon rats and rat-kings. In the few games I’ve played I have had to substitute blank bases for extra rats or simply avoid having to summon them (by my model positioning/not killing the enemy) even when counter-intuitive to the strategy and schemes.
My purchases for month two are therefore dictated by this need more than what I would actually like to get for the crew. This month we have a budget of $25, plus the $1.50 I didn’t spend last month. $12 buys three more rats and I presume that $12 will also buy me one rat-king – assuming that there will either be one box similar to the Nephelim box containing a rat king and some rats or there will be a smaller box similar to the steam arachnid swarm which can either be assembled as rats or a rat-king. This is an imaginary spending of $24 this month leaving me with a grand total of $2.50 in magical invisible change to carry forwards to next month.

As the current Malifaux Rat models are so characterful I did not want to have any duplicates, so until the plastic alternatives are released I have used giant rats from the Games workshop Skaven range. For the Rat-King I have stuck a pile of these blighters together, cut off their tails like a farmer’s wife and replaced with interwoven paper clips (using a very small drill and a lot of patience).

In the few games that I have played so far I have tried a few different tactics, trying to see what I can get from each model in the crew and what they are not good at. Rather than going through each model individually I’ll give a brief rundown of how I currently play with the limited selection of models I have at the minute. At some point I’ll do a more in-depth breakdown but right now my model selection does not let me chose the best options for each situation.

In every game I have taken the piper upgrade on Hamelin, mostly for Obey but the 6” aura around Hamelin in which no enemy can end a charge is very nice. I generally only advance Hamelin when I want to actively stop the enemy from charging into a certain area (i.e. Turf War), otherwise he will be in my half of the table with a Stolen or two nearby and a few rats 4” or so in front of him as an extra layer of defence from melee.

Nix is a model I throw into the midst of a group of mid-level enemy models. He can tie them up and spread blighted with a fairly high chance of survival - just be carefull of enemies with Ca attacks. Any spare rats will be doing a similar job to Nix, standing in areas that I do not want the enemy to easily progress through or where I do not want them to be interacting. Rats are what I put in the way of the enemy big hitters; they are guaranteed to die but are MUCH more disposable than Nix. Aside from getting in the way and spreading blight, Malifaux rats will generally just waste activations so that I can activate the important models in my crew when I want to.

Rat Catchers are the only minions in the crew and so have been doing all of the work for schemes and strategies requiring interactions. Thankfully they aren’t bad at this, being able to interact whilst engaged coupled with Obey means that Schemes such as plant explosives and spring the Trap are fairly easy to achieve. If necessary, Rats can become Rat-Kings who are wonderful at denying enemy objectives having a 0 to remove scheme markers (and get free movement) and are minions themselves to help with Strategies/Schemes.

Bleeding disease is the only way to do any real damage with this crew with my current selection, and spreading blighted early is a big factor of whether I can succeed or not! I have not yet faced Lady J or the Ortegas who would have an easy time removing blighted but would assume that the best strategy when facing these crews would be to focus on one model and attempt to take it down in a single turn. Hopefully I’ll get some more toys to deal with these crews in future months. Rat-Kings should help some way towards this as they can charge blighted models for a 1 action and have a melee trigger that can repeat attacks (although getting less and less likely to hit).

So the first month ends, another month begins - another bunch of rats to paint...
Until next time, farewell!

Monday, 17 March 2014

Ramblings - Hopes and Progress

The Scottish Malifaux scene has been steadily growing over the past two years, mostly down to the hard work of DKS. With the advent of second edition there was a period of unrest, similar to that experienced in other communities: some not keen on the changes, some just wanted to play with all of their toys. Things fell into a slum. The GT came, and with 5 people travelling from outside Scotland, the total number of attendees was a poor 16 – only 11 players from the community attended. The next tournament after the GT was “A brave new world” ran by David Hamilton and myself, with only 6 players turning up on the day we both stepped in so that we could actually call that a tournament.

After a period of rest and revitalisation, Paul Campbell organised ‘First Footing through the breach’ for January. This event capped out at 16 players (the capacity of the store), due to allowing use of the then in beta wave 2 models (along with a little coercing of some people). Things were looking up!

On Saturday the 8th March I ran my first tournament as a Henchman for Wyrd. The store reached its capacity of 16 players with most of these signing up well in advance, 3 travelling from the Newcastle area and 2 down from Inverness. I believe that had there been space for more players there would have been a few more signups pushing the number of attendees towards 20.

On the whole, the day ran fairly smoothly; round one was slightly rushed for some players due to my poor planning. I had expected 10 – 10:30 to be used by the players to select crews and schemes, however due to spending most of this time setting up tables and waiting to hear from the 16th player, crew and scheme selection was instead done at 10:30 as part of the 1hr 45 round time. This resulted in less game time and a few games sadly only reaching the end of turn 2. Subsequent rounds were preceded with a 10 minute set-up time which, in my opinion, helped games progress to a more satisfying conclusion. I do believe that with the 10 minutes preparation time, 1 hour 45 is enough time to complete a game of Malifaux, although I know that there are some people only just returning to the game after the release of wave 2 who are not as familiar with the rules and I don’t want any new players to feel intimidated by tournaments.

Just after the start of the first round I heard that the 16th player couldn’t attend, so I stepped in to play in his stead (having planned on grabbing food after round 1 kicked off it was 12:40 before I ate anything this day...). As I was running the event I wanted to use a crew with low activation count and that would either win or lose fast to have more time for any queries. Game 1 was against one of my regular opponents Paul Campbell, so I was likely to be losing fast...

For rounds 1 and 2 (Turf war and Reckoning) I took the exact same crew:
  • Von Schill – Survivalist, Oath keeper, Shirt comes off [Cache 4]
  • Bishop – Oath keeper
  • Freikorps Strongarm – Oath keeper
  • Taelor – Scramble
  • 2 Freikorpsmen
In round 3 I swapped Taelor for a Freikorps Trapper and a Ronin, the trapper immediately proving his worth by red jokering a beckoner off the table in his first activation. Other highlights included Bishop paralyzing Lady J for three turns in round 2 (reckoning) and
Taelor being reduced to 1 wound by a pair of Austringers before she had activated turn 2 in the same game.

This crew did what I wanted it to do; I finished all three of my games with plenty of time to spare (game three was a bloody squatters rights which was all done and dusted in just under 1hr 15). It was also more effective than I was anticipating winning me two of three games (my loss against my regular gaming opponent Paul Campbell). Although low on activations everything in this crew is a threat and so cannot be ignored by the opponent and with the power of each model in this crew you should be able to reduce the opponent’s activation advantage relatively quickly. The strategies did help me a LOT, with Turf War and Reckoning both prime candidates for the Play-it-like-beatdown philosophy. 

Of the non-master models I used today (Von Schill is obviously fantastic), The Strongarm and Bishop were my two favourites. The Strongarm is an amazing model with his Freikorps armour 2, reasonable defence and one hell of a punch. Bishop is possibly my favourite model in all of second edition at the minute; I have yet to find a problem to which he is not the answer, he may need a blog post all to himself to justify his true glory.

In future games I would consider swapping Taelor for Lazarus for some more ranged threat, but I did not own the model until the day of the event.

All in all the day was a success. The overall winner was David Golden, with Paul Campbell and David McGuire in second and third (that is Guild, Ten Thunders and Guild). Guild was the most prominent faction of the day with 5 players, Hoffman seeming to be the most popular master of the day. Outcasts were the second most populous faction with 4 players representing, two of which playing the best master in the faction Von Schill. Neverborn were in third place with three players and Ten Thunders, Arcanists, Gremlins and Resurrectionists all with one player. It was nice to see all factions represented, but it seems the guild still has an iron grip on Scotland in second edition.

Paul’s customary tournament report can be found here (always a good read).

Mr DKS made it along for the third round and prize giving and so has uploaded his photographs here and here.

My far inferior photos can be seen here (I totally didn’t have camera envy on the day....)

My next events are Demo days for a few local stores with a tournament towards the end of April (hopefully as part of something big but I’ve not heard back yet).

I’ll be updating in the next few days with my ToMB progress. Until then, Farewell!

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

ToMB Month 1: Opening Wounds

And so the tale begins... For month one (rules here and here) we are allocated a budget of $60. With Hamelin this gets you a rather large collection of fairly small models. For the sum of $58.50 I’ve bought the Hamelin starter box (as this seems a sensible starting point) and a blister of Rat Catchers (to give me some much needed minions). This leaves me with a starting crew comprising of Hamelin, Nix, 3 Stolen, 3 Malifaux Rats and 2 Rat Catchers. As these models are all metal, and most single piece, construction of this starting crew was straightforward, although I am looking forward to the future plastic boxed set. Without including upgrades my month 1 purchases sum to a grand total of 32 soulstones, so I can comfortably play some 30-40 soulstone games (helped by Hamelin’s low cache and generally expensive upgrades). Looking at the way the rules for this crew (available to download here until the wave 2 cards are released) I am fairly certain that for the first few months of this project I will need to use blank bases in place of any extra Malifaux Rats and rat-kings that I am required to summon, although this will (hopefully) give me a good idea of how many Malifaux Rats I will eventually need.

For this crew I am trying a new (to me) basing method: building deep bases. I know that these bases are commercially available, but I have decided to make them myself. To create these bases I have carefully removed the inner section of some lipped round bases, glued the outer edge to a piece of plasticard, trimmed this down and then filed it smooth. The end result is a deep base that can be filled with a reasonable amount of scrap and detritus without raising the miniatures too high. My plan is to paint these bases as if they are part of a sewer system and to fill this deep base with resin water effects.

Completing my first miniature in this crew I came across my first problem with this basing method: A bottle of resin water is rather large (more designed for filling large areas such as lakes and pools) and 30mm bases are rather small - with a model sat in the middle there isn’t much space left to access the inner portion of the base. Looking around my flat for a solution to this (Hobby syringe, funnel, spoon?) I saw what I thought would be perfect – a travel bottle for shampoo/body wash etc. These re-useable bottles are cheap (I think this one came in a pack of 6 or so for £1), will store the resin water until I need it, and has a small enough nozzle that I can be much more precise with my application. I have now completed the base of the first model, and as it was my first time using resin water I learned a lot (such as the amount of resin water needed to fill one small base!).

My other outcast crew (Von Schill and the Freikorps) are predominantly orange and purple with accents of red. I want to carry these colours into the Hamelin crew a little where possible, if only because I am now fairly comfortable with painting these colours! I’m also hoping to improve on my skin tones with this crew – something I seem to be struggling with lately. 
I’m hoping to post blog updates with painting progress throughout the coming month and maybe a battle report or two – I’ll leave initial thoughts on roles and rules of my month one purchases until the next months Tale when I should have a better understanding of what each models does and what I am currently lacking in my model selection. Currently, I don’t think that I will ever need more than 9 Malifaux Rats, but with the cost of the current metal models an extra 6 rats costs $24 (on full months budget!). In addition to more rats I will want to purchase the Obedient Wretch and, outside of the ‘core’ Hamelin models, I can see benefit in Crooligans and Canine Remains (as significant minions and objective runners) and Lazarus or Killjoy as heavy hitters for the crew. Baby Kade and Candy would make a nice addition, but for this project there is an overall limited budget, and I’m not sure that I’ll manage to fit them in within the 6 months (especially as I’d like the beautiful new plastic versions from the Pandora boxed set)....

I’ll end now with a photo of the first completed crew member: A lonesome Malifaux Rat.

Friday, 7 February 2014

That haunting melody began...

Westport station was always empty at this hour. The last trains of the day were past, the days litter cleaned away and the safes securely locked. All that remained was the Station Master as he checked the offices were securely locked, keys in one hand, collier pistol in the other.
Curiosity and Imagination thrived in the dark night. The emptiness was a phantom making every shadow an assailant, each noise a new threat. The hollow building gave every note of the haunting melody a greater emptiness in the depths of the Station Masters soul.
The Station Master took the hand offered by the dirty child, and began to walk towards the melody.
A rat bit into the flesh of the Station Masters leg. He smiled, and handed his pistol to the child, before sitting down amongst the swarming litter. Westport station was never empty.
The empty eyes of a man and his dog looked down as he began to be devoured.

Hello there! Through some twist of fate I have ended up with my first ever forays into blogging as part of a larger collaboration with some of the 'blogging elite' on the current Malifaux scene. This group contains some excellent hobbyists, some excellent gamers and some lucky sods who manage both. I’m not the world’s worst in either of these avenues, but hopefully you’ll be able to gain some enjoyment (if not knowledge) from my ramblings. The purpose of this blog overall will be my adventures throughout the Outcast faction in Malifaux, with occasional journeys to the other factions (as long as they pay their merc tax) and other games (bloodbowl I'm looking at you!).
For the Tale of Malifaux Bloggers (#ToMB as you’ve likely seen on Twitter) I have decided to start the wonderful rat-lord himself, Hamelin. With the price restrictions and the current cost of the metal miniatures this is going to be a challenge...
Hamelin is a master that I have never played before, and have not played against in any incarnation of his second edition rules. I played against him in Malifaux 1.5, pre and post errata, and although I liked his theme, I wasn't a fan of the play-mechanics.
Now, in second edition Malifaux, his mechanics look to have shifted: He no longer has awkward hiring restrictions, can no longer endlessly loop rats and actually looks like he would have difficulty in some strategies (a nice change from his status last edition). Another reason to pick him up is that he is a good contrast Von Schill, the outcast master I've been playing recently.
I'm looking forward to this project, hopefully it will focus my hobby and let me try out a few idea's I've had for basing and painting.
Until the official start, Farewell.