The tournament was four 35ss games, with crews chosen from a 55ss pool. Masters weren't fixed, but I'd decided to go with a fully Pandora list, and I don't think anybody changed masters between games on the day.
Pandora, Candy, Kade, Teddy, Lelu, Lilitu, Insidious Madness, Stitched Together, 3 Sorrows
Lelu and Lilitu had been kindly loaned to me by Ade (who was on holiday and wouldn't be needing them), since I'd been having difficulties ordering them from 4 different stockists. They seemed to be out of stock countrywide!
Game 1 - Doctor McMourning (James/Mythicfox)
James' crew was McMourning, Sebastian, 2 Canine Remains, Jack Daw, Zombie Chihuahua, Bette Noir and a Belle. The strategy was shared Claim Jump.
The game was divided into two halves. On one side of the table, McMourning faced off against Pandora, Teddy and the Stitched. I lured one of his dogs out of position early on to attempt to deny him the body parts he'd inevitably get from dissecting it himself. Regrettably, Bette Noir popped out from this death and managed a Slit Jugular trigger against Teddy - and I'd already spent my hand - turning the big bear into a pile of stuffing. Pandora managed to trigger Mental Anguish on Jack Daw, which put him out of my hair for a couple of turns, and for a while the Claim Jump looked secure.
|At the far table, James considers his next move|
On the other side of the table, my Nephilim twins and the Madness attempted to stop the Belle and Sebastian (isn't that a band?!) from making it to James' Stake a Claim marker. They did relatively well, although struggled a little when Bette Noir showed up and started getting killy. It was brutal though, and in the end there were no survivors on that side of the board!
In the final turn of the game, Jack Daw had positioned himself on the Claim Jump. I had no control hand left, but cast against him anyway. James uttered the immortal words "he's safe unless you flip a 13crows", and inevitably that was exactly the card that I turned over! With Jack fleeing and Pandora stood alone on the Claim Jump, McMourning ran close and in the final action of the game attempted to summon a Monstrous Creation. This would leave me outnumbered on the objective and give him a 6-4 win. Unfortunately for James though, he hadn't learned from his previous mistake and he uttered the words "anything but a Black Joker". The final result was 4-0 to Pandora! Thanks to James for a very well played and tactical game.
Game 2 - Dreamer & Lord Chompy Bits (Tim/Oshova)
Tim was using the beautiful Nightmare edition Lord Chompy Bits, who I'd never seen in the flesh before. This model was also the prize for first place in the tournament, so I was anxious to continue my winning streak! Tim's crew was Dreamer, Chompy, Lelu, Lilitu Insidious Madness, 3 Alps and 3 Daydreams. The strategy was shared Reconnoiter.
In Turn 2, the Alp-Bomb landed (James later suggested that "bomb" should be adopted as the collective noun for Alps - like a "pride of lions", or a "school of fish", we now have "a bomb of Alps"). I think I coped relatively well with my first A-bomb. Pandora managed to scare one of the critters away, and my Lelu and Lilitu managed to kill off a couple more (Lure helped a lot!), including scoring two points for my Grudge scheme.
Lord Chompy Bits chewed Baby Kade up and spat out the bones - I hadn't realised that he eats Harmless models for breakfast, and then he proceeded to tear my Lelu limb from limb. In retaliation I killed off Tim's Lilitu, who had been slowly advancing and Reclaiming Malifaux along the way.
In the final turn, my Insidious Madness, heavily wounded, retreated to a corner of the board to claim that quarter. Tim's Lelu beat a retreat back to his deployment zone, and despite the best efforts of Lilitu and Pandora to bring him down, he just survived the turn, depriving me of my Exterminate Woes scheme and contesting a table quarter. The final score was a 4-4 draw.
Game 3 - Kirai (Ant/Stryker)
Ant told me after this game that he'd played Pandora numerous times before, and that he'd never lost against her. This was pretty obvious, as he had perfect anti-Pandora tactics that he executed perfectly.
Ant's crew was Kirai, Lost Love, Jack Daw, 2 Insidious Madness, Gaki, 4 Seishin, and our strategy was Shared Slaughter.
Turn 1 was the worst (for me) Turn 1 of a game that I've ever played. Thinking I'd be able to get some early points towards Slaughter, I chain-Lured the Gaki towards my crew, but was unable to finish him off. Ant used Swirl Spirits to swap the wounded Gaki for an aura-primed Insidious Madness, and then to summon a Shikome on top of my Nephilim twins. With paired claws targetting Lelu's WP (which was at a negative flip from the Madness), and the bonuses from Lelu being its prey, the Shikome killed Lelu in 2 attacks (claiming 2VPs for Grudge) and then used its remaining action from Fast to kill Lilitu by cheating the Red Joker in for damage. Half my crew dead by one model in a single activation... not a great start! (I have a feeling however that the Fast ability should drop off the Shikome after she kills her prey - and I'm still waiting for a Wyrd rules marshall to clear that up).
It was all downhill from there. Denial of Sanzu on my Madness meant it could do nothing towards either of my schemes. Both the Madness and Candy eventually fell to a second summoned Shikome - which flipped Red Joker on the damage flips for both of them!
I did manage to Paralyze Jack Daw, but he spirit swirled out of range and when he came back 2 turns later it was to stand next to Pandora and activate his deadly aura. Surrounded on all sides by terrifying creatures and unable to cheat her duels to stay there, she fled only to be cut down as she ran.
Ant took the game 8-1, giving me an education in how deadly a Kirai crew can be when played to the fullest of her abilities, and giving Pandora her own personal nemesis!
Game 4 - Kirai (Andie/??)
Another game against Kirai?! You can imagine that as I sat down to face Andie I was dreading another game against this master, but I decided to take the opportunity to get some revenge on her.
Andie's crew was Kirai, Lost Love, Datsu Ba, Shikome, 2 Onryo and 4 Seishin. Our strategy was Shared Treasure Hunt.
I attempted to get my claws on the treasure straight away by Companioning Lelu and Lilitu, and using Lure to get Lelu stood next to the treasure in Turn 1. Andie had the same idea though, and had a faster crew. He summoned Ikiryo next to the treasure, then used Swirl Spirits to swap it with the un-activated Shikome who picked it up and Nimbly started walking back to its deployment zone.
This time I played very cautiously with Candy, keeping her well back as she was the target of Andie's Kill Protogee scheme as well as being the Shikome's prey.
In Turn 2, Lilitu lured the Shikome off the treasure, and then Lelu and Pandora beat it to the ground. A second (summoned) Shikome also made a beeline for Candy, and I was forced to cheat in a 13 and the Red Joker on two defense flips to keep her alive before Pandora came to the rescue again. Kirai later summoned a third(!!) Shikome who was finally able to take down Candy. Did I mention I really really hate Shikomes?
On the other side of the table, the I managed an Emotionally Exposed/Gamble your Life combo against Datsu Ba, but she charged and killed the Stitched. My stupid mistake of the day was then to use the Stitched's reactivation to walk twice... I'd completely forgotten that he'd already died!
I managed to score a couple of points for Steal Relic, when my Insidious Madness went up against Kirai. Luckily Andie had only brought a couple of soulstones to the match, and so when those were exhausted the Madness jumped in for a quick steal and then made a run for it.
In the closing turn of the game, with the treasure still lying where the Shikome had dropped it, Pandora used a Pacify chain to cross half the table and pick up the treasure. With nothing able to kill her or force her to drop it, Kirai was forced to concede 2VP and the final result was 6-4, as we had both also completed all of our schemes.
After the VP totals had been counted, I was surprised to find that I'd placed 5th out of 13 players, which I was incredibly happy with. I'm not sure if I'd have fared so well if I'd have taken a less competetive crew - I think I'd better give 50% of the credit for my placing to having used Pandora (usually regarded as being towards the overpowered end of the power-spectrum) and I'll challenge myself to achieve a similar placing in the next tournament with a less imbalanced choice of Master.
The winner was Adam (Magicpockets) who deservedly cleaned up with his Hamelin crew. As you can see, he'd already begun celebrating by the second game!
Last of all, I'd like to say thanks to David for putting in the effort and organising the day, and supplying some lovely terrain to play on, and to the sponsors for putting up the highly sought after prizes. Also thanks to all the players who made for a great atmosphere and a very enjoyable day.