Sunday, 22 January 2012

047 - UK Masters Tournament Report: Terrain Pics

There's been some discussion on the Wyrd forums and elsewhere recently about how much terrain to use on a Malifaux board. I took snaps of the 8 tables used at the Masters last weekend and thought I'd share. To me these are a bit of a mixed bag - some definitely had too little terrain, and one in particular had perhaps a little too much, but as a general guide they're probably not too far off.  Most of the terrain is from Maelstrom Games' collection, with the addition of the Sarissa Precision wild west buildings that had been kindly brought along by Dave 'Clousseau' Brown.

Once again forgive the photo quality. I'm yet to work out how to take a satisfactory picture on my iPhone - tips welcome!

046 - UK Masters Tournament Report: Part 1

As I posted about at the end of last year, I was fortunate enough to be invited to play in the first ever Malifaux Masters event for 2011, where the top players in the UK Rankings would gather for a weekend of Malifaux madness. Now I've had a bit of time to recover from an epic weekend, I'm going to write up a short series of posts with my recollections of the games and some of the highlights of the weekend for me.

Since the strict time limits meant there wasn't time to make any notes during play, I'll be giving a summary of the game (which will be heavily weighted towards my perspective on things) rather than a complete blow by blow. I think I'll be using this Battle Report format going forwards to, as it's a bit less resource intensive during play. Please forgive the shocking quality of my iPhone photos, which were hastily snapped during the game with no thought to how they might turn out.

All 16 players had had to submit 3 fixed lists that they had to use at least once each over the weekend (over 5 games). I decided to bring three different masters for a bit of variety.

List 1:
Seamus, Grave Spirit, Madame Sybelle, 3 Rotten Belles, Bete Noire, Canine Remains, 7ss

A relatively standard Seamus list. The plan was for Seamus and Bete to spam Insignificant at enemy minions in the games that required significant models.

List 2:
Pandora, 2 Sorrows, Doppelganger, Insidious Madness, Lelu+Lilitu, 8ss

Another standard Pandora list, although I hadn't had chance to try out the Doppelganger in many games yet. Pandora was another mobile master that I hoped to use in Shared Distract.

List 3:
Dreamer/Chompy, 2 Daydreams, 2 Stitched Together, Lelu+Lilitu, Insidious Madness, 8ss

I'd rushed to get Chompy and the Daydreams painted in the week before the tournament, because both my other two masters lacked punch for Slaughter, or a reliable way to reach the neutral evidence marker in Destroy Evidence. I'd had 3 practise games with him, but in hindsight not enough to be comfortable enough with him to compete in a Masters tournament. The Madness was mainly in there to sacrifice for a reflip on inititive in Turn 1 of Destroy the Evidence if it was required.

All games were shared strategies that were announced well in advance, and the first draw had been done ahead of the day, so I knew I'd be facing James Doxey in the first game, and I was fully expecting a Chompy mirror match.

Game 1: Shared Slaughter

Dreamer vs. Dreamer

Opponent: MythicFox

Game Type: Tournament

James' Slaughter list included 3 Stitched Together, Teddy, Insidious Madness and 3 Daydreams. He announced Bodyguard and Exterminate Woes, while I chose Kill Protege on Teddy and Eye for an Eye.

I won initiative but played cautiously, deciding not to dive in for an attack straight away. This proved to be both a blessing and a curse, as in James' activation he slingshotted Chompy forward and killed a Daydream (exactly as I would have done), but later confessed that this was a massive mistake and that he was very lucky I didn't capitalise on it at the time. I should have brought out my own Chompy who would have been able to activate before James' companioned Daydream could pull his master out of trouble, and do some serious damage and perhaps even win the game right there and then. Unfortunately I missed the trick and Chompy retreated back to James' deployment zone.

Difficult to see my tiny Chompy behind the bulk of Nightmare Chompy
I advanced my own Dreamer and killed a Stitched Together, but some time around Turn 3 I mismanaged my masters' bury mechanic and LCB was stranded with no support. James' bigger, meaner Nightmare LCB jumped at the chance to chew up his tiny diminutive cousin, and that was just the start of my troubles.

James wisely kept Teddy buried in reserve so he was safe and not giving me easy VPs, and the bear made his first appearance in Turn 5 when most of my models had been eliminated and there was nothing to threaten him. I wasn't as careful with my minions, as both Lelu and Lilitu had died by this point. In the final turn, LCB chased down my Insidious Madness (I underestimated how far he could reach without Daydreams) to secure a 7-3 win. I only had 1VP from the Slaughter for reducing his crew below 50%, and 2 points for Eye for an Eye as there wasn't much left on the table by this point.

Apart from that first mistake, James played flawlessly, using only his Stitched Together and Chompy hit and runs to wear me down before bringing his other models onto the table. It was a fun game and an education in how to get the most out of The Dreamer. It seems that The Dreamer plays quite different to his normal tactics when facing a mirror match and, as James commented, a big advantage is usually gained by the person who commits second.

Part of my plan was to use Dreamers Daydream to summon a replacement Daydream to the table mid-game if required. I had pulled this off in Turn 2, but I hadn't realised the cost of doing so (a high suited card) and in hindsight I think I'd have done better including the Daydream in the starting list and taking a slightly smaller SS pool.

Game 2: Shared Destroy Evidence

Dreamer vs. Hamelin

Opponent: Serigala

Game Type: Tournament

The second game was more or less a straight refight of a practice game I'd had a couple of weeks before in LCB School where I'd been learning how to use him - same opponent, same strategy, similar crews. For schemes I chose Stake a Claim (feeling that I'd easily be able to drop a model on the table next to one of the large buildings, and the safe option of Bodyguard. Ian selected Hold Out and Hamelin's personal scheme, both of which surprised me since it meant he'd need to kill four of my (limited number of) models within 6" of Hamelin, and stop me finishing in his deployment zone, despite my obvious speed advantage.

Winning initiative I slingshotted Chompy to the center evidence, but had to use two companioned Daydreams to pull him back to my side of the board as he was unable to use the All Done trigger to allow instant teleportation. Unfortunately, and in my second massive mistake of the weekend, this allowed Hamelin to get a bead on The Dreamer by moving forwards twice and positioning so that only the Dreamer was within range for a Pipes attack using his Fast action. Ian cheated and Soulstoned high, and I did the same to resist but came up short (little boys are only Defense 2 apparently!), so you can imagine my relief when he flipped the Black Joker for damage!

Ian took initiative on the second turn and tried the same spell again, but unfortunately his flips weren't up to the task and the Dreamer managed to escape, flying up field to a) drop some Nightmares in the centre of the board to slow Hamelin down, and b) position Chompy on the evidence in Ian's deployment zone. With Chompy stuck on the table, Nix moved into position to bring my master into his Emptiness aura, but Ian had nothing else nearby to capitalise on the negative flips debuff.

Lelu & Lilitu look down on Hamelin from above
The bulk of Hamelin's forces were approaching the center of the board, so I deposited a Stitched Together on each of Ian's target Evidence markers to make a bit of work for him before they could be destroyed. Lelu and Lilitu engaged Hamelin in the middle building and Lelu duly took a stick to the face and died - I'd put them in there more as a distraction for Hamelin as Chompy ran along the back of the table, destroying some evidence for 2VP and finishing in base contact with my Stake a Claim objective. We'd only reached Turn 3, and the risk of Hamelin running back and making LCB insignificant was the only thing worrying me, so a well timed Lilitu's Lure meant he was too far away to deprive me of those points.

Time was called around that point, which was a shame for Ian as he'd not really had chance to get started. The rat swarms were still in play and in a position to give me a steamrollering in the next couple of turns, and Hamelin had cleared up the Nephilim pests in the center and was free to make a mess of the rest of my crew. I'd been unable to shift the swarms from my two objectives in the center and so I hadn't even tried, leaving the final result as 7-0 to me.

The lunch call went up at this point, and a buffet spread was kindly provided by Maelstrom Games free of charge. Loaded up with egg mayonnaise sandwiches and sausage rolls, it was onto Round 3....

Thursday, 12 January 2012

045 - Review - Battlefoam Malifaux Bag

Before Christmas I'd been searching around for a new case to store and transport my growing Malifaux collection, which currently lives in an old GW hardcover carry case. When I say "old", i mean "very old", the one that opens in two halves, each of which had a pair of eggbox type foam layers to holds models in the troughs and grip them between the peaks. Although it's served me well (and even survived a couple of falls down flights of stairs!), the continuing influx of new figures and crews, and the fact that it doesn't hold models larger than 30mm very well, necessitated an upgrade.

I'd heard of the Battlefoam Malifaux bag, and it immediately sprang to mind. The stitched Malifaux logos and the bespoke pockets for card decks, dry-wipe markers and stat cards made it seem the ideal product for what I needed. It comes with 76 slots on two regular trays as well as a pluck-foam tray for large models, which sounds like more than enough for around 5 crews.

With my Xmas cash in hand, I sent off for the standard load-out case.

Unfortunately, on unpacking the bag and having a look inside, I quickly realised that this wasn't the bag for me. I should point out that the quality of the product is excellent - it's a very well made and sturdy bag. There were 4 features, however, that I didn't like and seemed like design flaws to me.

Firstly a small issue, none of the pockets are big enough to hold Stat cards that have been opened up and laminated. There is a pocket which would fit them nicely when folded in half, but as all of mine are laminated I had nowhere to keep them in this bag. The fact that the bag includes two holes for dry-wipe markers therefore confuses me, as it would be a bad idea use these pens on unlaminated cards.

Secondly, the foam that comes with the bag fits far too tight for my liking. That goes for both the dimensions of the tray (it was quite a struggle to remove the top two layers of foam to get to the pluck foam below) and the depth of the trays in the bag (the foam extends over the edge of the bag past the zip, even when the case is empty). The fact that the foam was too deep meant that the edges of the top foam tray occasionally got caught in the zip, and the corners had to be squashed in and got mishapen (still with no models in it).

My third issue was with one of the trays, namely the thinnest one which is called the 1" tray. As you can see below, the tray is not deep enough for a 30mm base, which protrudes from the top of the tray by about half a centimeter.

I should explain that I already knew about this pre-purchase, through combining the product description with a basic knowledge of maths, but in honesty I assumed that Battlefoam would have done something to make it work, perhaps with a foam lid to cover the exposed pieces. But alas no - the protruding part of the model (which will include the edge of your base insert if you use those) will press against whatever is used to cover up that tray. Which brings me to:

Fourth, and lastly, you can see in the above picture that the trays are made of two separate materials. The edges are made of the typical soft foam, but the base of each tray (the darker layer) is made of a more rigid material. I'm not sure what it is, I think it's a more dense type of foam, but it reminded me of a surfboard in its texture. This is the material that will be rubbing against any models on the lower trays that protrude, or dont fit tightly in their sockets. I didn't want to rub one of my painted models against this stuff to test it out, but I'm not at all confident that it wouldn't scrub off paint rather quickly. As for the models protruding from the top tray, they rub against the inside cover of the bag's lid, which is made of a course fabric. There's no foam top sheet, and no room to squeeze one in if you wanted to since the bag is already too deeply filled with foam.

Battlefoam do offer a custom loadout at an increased price (and the bag is already rather expensive), so it's possible that a different tray set could have solved one or two of these problems. If you have your heart set on this bag I'd recommend looking into the custom options and staying clear of the "standard" loadout. 

Regretfully, my Battlefoam bag has been returned, and I am waiting for delivery of a different bag. I'll make a similar post in the near future when it arrives.


Monday, 9 January 2012

044 - Malifaux December Releases Review

Here's the latest round of new minis from Wyrd that should have recently hit the shops, and a bit shorter than last time!


While I like this model, I don’t think enough has been done to distinguish him from the Guild Guard models, who also have peaked hats and long coats. It’s probably something that can be improved with a striking paint job and a completely different colour scheme though. The main feature of the Exorcist is his raised crossbow and clutched relic, which I understand give him immense utility versus not only undead, but also nightmares, soulless and other non-livings. I think he’ll be popping up in a lot of Guild crews this year.

Alt Ramos

Another Alt sculpt that I prefer to the original Master, this one has dynamism and more character in the face, although at the expense of a more cartoonish style. The original sculpt is a bit reserved for me, consisting mostly of coat. The only part I’m not sure about on the new version is the rigid flaring out of the coat which doesn’t look very natural. As for the tentacle… well a certain picture on the Wyrd boards means I think I will forever carry a permanent association with Kirai and a particular Japanese movie genre. I’ll leave that well alone. This is a family blog.

Avatar Ramos

Slightly disappointed with this one. This is a model that’s making me start to think that in some cases Wyrd should relax their insistence that the sculpt matches the artwork. The pose of Ramos himself looks off to me – he would have looked better if he was posed as though he was advancing and being threatening. I’m never a fan of sculpted effects, but the arc of electricity is particularly poor – again it could be the paint job but it looks like water, or cloth, or anything but the energy beam it's meant to be. I hope it’s detachable, but then Ramos himself would look a bit ridiculous. I can’t tell from the released picture, but his upturned face looks a bit like he’s wearing an inane grin, so I really hope that isn’t the case.

Alt Rasputina

This is a cool model, and such a departure from the original sculpt. The billowing cloak and outstretched arms just evoke images of a raging snowstorm with Raspy at the center – very much like the Xmen’s Storm, but wrapped up in a warmer coat. When I get around to painting my Rasputina crew (currently still sitting in its box unfortunately), I think I’ll be swapping this mini in for my Master in the majority of games. I may have to do something with the base to counteract what I predict will be some stability issues though – it looks a very tall and potentially top-heavy model.

Avatar Rasputina

My thoughts on this model are already public. I’d been really looking forward to it ever since the miniaturized concept art teaser appeared on the Wyrd boards before GenCon. Then <i>that</i> picture was revealed and I found to my dismay that the model was a bit pants. The ridiculous afro on top of a tiny strange looking face. The fact that its torso is too large and out of proportion with its tiny stunted legs. The staticness of the pose and the fact that the arms look like they don’t have joints. Apparently there is an alternate head that matches the artwork – but I doubt that alone is going to save the model. Don’t get me wrong: I’ll still end up buying it, but it’ll have to undergo some major conversion work before I’ll be happy with it.


I can't fault this model at all - he looks great, and will be an auto-include in a lot of gremlin lists. When we all heard about the alligator handler I think we pictured a gigantic beast, but realistically I think the gator he has is probably about as big as a regular person could handle. Using an alligator as your melee weapon is made of win. As is hitting piglets with a stick for your ranged attack, but we'll get to that another month, along with my love of animal cruelty.


Highly anticpated model here - and it's a very nice one. I'm not familiar enough with Johnny Cash to spot the inevitable references and in-jokes that likely cover this model, but I'm sure someone will be able to point them out. The gunfighter pose is striking and unique - in that stance he looks a bit like a slimmer, more nimble version of Santiago with smaller guns crossed with a Warhammer Witch Hunter. And the flaming guitar actually works - possibly because it's quite understated.


Tuesday, 3 January 2012

043 - Gaming Resolutions for 2012

It's customary for bloggers this week to be posting about their New Year resolutions, and pretty much without exception they'll be resolving to play more games and make some headway with their mountain of unpainted metal, plastic and resin. I have much the same aims, and a couple of others:

1. Painting Progress
I didn't manage to meet the target that I set myself in November, which was to finish 50% of my current collection. I did manage to paint Nino Ortega, and Nightmare Teddy, and I'm most of the way through Lord Chompy Bits, but I'm still below the half-way mark (unless you count Nightmare Teddy as 5 models due to his size? No...?). In fact, due to a couple of purchases last week in preparation for the Masters tournament, I'm still sitting at only 43% painted!

The new aim for the end of 2012 will therefore be 60% painted. I think this is very achieveable, mainly because of the fact that I already own the models for my next 3 crews, so there is less incentive to buy new stuff. I'll still be expanding my existing crews with new releases, but those will come at a much slower pace than they did in my first year of the game.

2. Gaming Progress
Despite placing relatively highly in the UK rankings last year, I don't feel I performed particularly well. I'm notorious for forgetting my strategy and schemes, and for making ridiculous errors that often cost me a lot of VPs. Specifically this year I will be aiming to:
1) Keep my objectives front of mind. Writing them down and keeping them visible with my stat cards will hopefully help.
2) Make every activation count. Related to point 1, I have a habit of just moving forwards or engaging enemy models when it might not be helping to advance my goals or block my opponent's.
3) Keep a record of all my games that I can refer to at the end of the year.

3. Scenery Progress
My gaming board is coming along nicely. I've finished all nine 1' square sections, and am starting to plan out the terrain and features that will go on it by sticking down pieces of paper with blu-tac. I find I can visualise things better this way compared to drawing it out on paper.

My resolution here is to complete the board, use it for some games at home, and run at least one demo event on it at one of the numerous gaming conventions at some point later in the year.

4. Blog Progress
I'm pretty happy with how the blog is going. I'm posting between 2-5 times a month depending on what's happening, and I think I'm covering a decent mixture of topics. Going forwards I'd like to focus a bit more on posting up my work in progress, and to post more battle reports. I have a plan to develop a better template for my battle reports too.

Well that's me filled with resolve - let's check back in a year to see how it goes!