It should be clear by now that the Abnormalifaux lot like a good club game as well as plenty of tournaments. We all thought that we do plenty of tournaments write ups, but not so many of our club games have been written up on the blog. To change that, here is a battle report from both players perspective.
We pre-flipped our strategy and schemes
Strat: Turf War
Schemes: Breakthrough, Distract, Spring the Trap, Take Prisoner, Line in the Sand.
Turf War, fantastic! This is a strategy that Molly loves. You know that your opponent is going to need to bunch up near the centre. This increases the effectiveness of her summoned models and creates a larger zone of black blood death. There is nothing additional that I will need to pack for this.
The schemes though are a much more difficult prospect. Breakthrough is an obvious choice and I have no shortage of scheme runners if needed, but I was unsure where else I could pick up 3 VPs. Distract can be a good choice in some games, but I play Molly very aggressively and with all the black blood splashing I may end up killing distracted models, so that’s probably out. A line in the sand, hell no. So that really leaves spring the trap or take prisoner. I have never had much success with either of those schemes.
I was 90% certain that I would be facing off against Shenlong, I don’t know much about him, but I do know that he can be an absolute tank to take down, so I figured that going in I would probably be aiming for spring the trap.
So who to take? My Molly build has been leaned down quite a bit over my last few games and I am almost happy with where I am with her. The new addition today was Philip and the Nanny. I have avoided her recently as I am building her a scenic base and didn’t want her out without it. I have been struggling with card draw though, Molly really hogs cards and I always find myself short. So Phil was shoved in. This left me with:
Molly: Forgotten path and take back the night
Madame Sybelle: Bleeding tongue
Philip and Nanny
Datsue Ba: Spirit Whispers
Izamu: Unnerving Aura
With those strats and schemes available, and a fair guess of what I might face, I selected my crew. I knew that I’d be facing ressers with plenty of Horror/WP duels. I decided I needed a list that could tough out the brutal damage output of lots of summoned spirits and Molly. I went with
Shenlong: Wandering River Style (for pushes) and Spirit of the 5 Dragons (+1 WP)
Sensai Yu: Promising Disciple and Low River Style (Condition removal and healing)
Kang: Hard worker and Servant of the 5 Dragons (+1 WP)
Oiran: to give +1 WP in a 4” bubble.
The WP boost was to help Shenlong and Kang stay in the fight without taking too much damage from the various WP shenanigans from Molly etc. With good positioning Kang and Shenlong were WP 8 for most of the game and everything else basically WP 7. The whole crew was tough (except the peasant and Oiran) so I expected them to stay on their feet against most stuff, with Kang helping to power a smashing engine in the centre.
The Set up
I won the flip to choose deployment. The one side of the board (where I was currently standing) had a large wall right in front of the deployment zone. This would force most crews in half, but my crew has a fair bit of incorporeal so that did not bug me. The opposite side had a clearer deployment zone but there was a possible neck approaching the centre. There was some big buildings on the sides that would feature less in the beginning. The centre was mostly open but there was an impassable rock and a small forest within the scoring zone.
In deployment I am quite concerned with ensuring I have a decent approach for Izamu to get to the middle and where I can manoeuvre Sybelle – as she drives where I can get Molly. Given my flexibility I let Bad Blood choose. He chose the side he was already standing, which had the clearer starting deployment. This would be key. He set is crew up fairly defensive in a biggish bubble with Kang, Yu and the two Illuminated looking to lead the advance.
I made sure that I had the belle and Datsue within 6” of Phil and Izamu with a clear path to the middle and within 8” of Datsue.
The board was fairly terrain heavy with a wall and tree forming a V shaped choke point just in front of my deployment zone. This proved a real disaster for me. There was severe terrain on the left side of my deployment zone a couple of large buildings on the far right of the board.
I deployed in the centre in a tight group. My plan was to push the crew up in a bubble and kill the undead in the centre, then make a late break for my schemes. This meant I needed to do two things. I had to push up to the centre through the choke point fast, and I needed to select the right schemes.
After seeing the crews I decided that breakthrough (announced) and spring the trip were the right choices. Unsurprisingly Bad Blood announced breakthrough. After him talking through his upgrades with me I was convinced he had also taken spring the trap.
I had chosen Breakthrough as it is a fairly easy one, especially for Shenlong. I also selected Distract. I have no idea why, as my crew was built around toughing it out and hitting back. Distract was absolutely a bad choice, especially as my crew was always going to be outnumbered by Ressers meaning I’d be massively out activated. I should have taken Spring the Trap or Line in the Sand or Take Prisoner. Oddly, although I scored it, Breakthrough was a poor choice as my crew was built to hammer and hold not move. Having to move some of the crew off watered them down. I should have selected Spring the Trap and Take Prisoner
Turn 1 I followed my plan: The rotten belle dropped a scheme and walked forward. Datsue Ba used her (0) action to move Izamu forward, dropped a scheme and advanced. Phil sucked up the two schemes to give me some card draw. At this point I had seen a huge number of cards but nothing higher than a 10. Not the end of the world, because I can hold onto the chaff and discard it to improve my turn 2 cards. Izamu advanced forward. Sybelle had gone quite far forward and dragged Molly along for the ride. At this stage Shenlong and co had shuffled forward and were starting to get a little impeded by a tree and a wall. Kang had been shoved forward but was yet to go. So Molly walked forward (aided another inch by Sybelle’s aura). She then summoned two Onryo amongst Shenlong’s crew. My purpose was twofold on this: make them take WP tests and more importantly to impede Kang’s movement. Given how much he was forced to bunch the one came in with full wounds and the other one shy.
The next few turns involved me handing out adversary with the Onryo (either from death or from their (1) action) and then smashing Kang down. I must have done enough wounds to kill him three times over. I summoned in a shikome, hanged, another onryo and a drowned over this time. Yu was forced to push himself out of the fray and take an Illuminated with him to try get to score. When that happened Kang went down.
Shenlong is incredibly flexible, I think Badluck&Blood took too long to be aggressive with him. When he did he easily dropped a few of my summoned models. But by then it was too late. The centre was mine. Phil, and Sybelle had dropped my breakthrough markers. And Datsue had blocked the other illuminated down my right flank.
No surprises I started moving my crew forward but dropped a load of scheme markers. This was exceptionally stupid. I keep doing the Shenlong moving scheme marker thing on T1 in my deployment Zone. That makes it slower than if I just used a scheme runner. It also meant that my crew were in the middle of the bottle neck in Turn 2. Molly easily summoned some Oynro to slow me me down and from that point I was basically stuck in the choke point well outside the 6” turf war. Sensai Yu and Shenlong healed Kang a lot. I expected him to go down easily but he just kept on his feet, endless accepting a pounding and only killing a Oynro and a Hanged in return. Because I was bunched up, Molly was summoning models with 5-6 wounds and was pinging wounds onto things with black blood and summoning damage. Eventually I woke up and moved Sensai Yu and an Illuminated off to the right to get Breakthrough. Kang died in a blaze of glory and a peasant then an Oiran threw themselves in to block models in the choke point from getting to Shenlong at the back.
I managed to get the other Illuminated up towards the back near the Turf War bubble, but she was killed off with ease by Izamu who had walked back after killing Kang.
I then decided to actually use Shenlong so he killed off an Oynro and a Drowned in one hit with a blast from his lightning kick using High River Style. Then I sunk back into absentmindedness and just walked him back towards one of my corners. I don’t know why. Molly had some models move up and Sprung the Trap on him easily.
Sybelle gives Molly some incredible mobility, through call belle and her aura. I used this in turn 1 and 5. Once to free up Molly’s AP to do more summoning and the other to get her close enough to spring the trap.
Philip and the Nanny were a great addition to the crew. In the early game they gave me card draw and in later turns they raced around to drop schemes or remove enemy ones. Datsue Ba is an interesting piece, she is quite flexible, giving me (0) actions to improve my movement or limit the opponents. She can dish out damage when needed and may get an onryo or gaki for her effort. Her upgrades don’t seem worth it in a Molly crew.
Molly’s summoning is great and Onryo are definitely an amazing first summon, they can hurt in combat and dishing out slow and adversary on death causes problems for anyone nearby. I have not missed the Gorgon’s tear since I dropped the upgrade – it is great on paper but I am enjoying running her lean.
Shenlong looks formidable but prone to causing analysis paralysis. He has an answer to anything, you just need to remember to do it (and in the right order). I can see him being very potent once people have come to grips with him. Yu was incredibly good too, I can see him turning up in many crews.
Kang is such a beast against Resurrectionist crews that you need to deal with him. Backed up by all that healing it took a while to take him down, but as a result Yu and Shenlong had to devote considerable AP to keep him alive. If Bad Blood could have got into the scoring area earlier there would have been very little I could to do block them scoring 4VP for the strategy. Bad Blood beats himself up about his play, but I think he lost this game in the deployment phase. If he had spread out a little more his plan would have worked and there was nothing wrong with his crew selection. He was shuffling 4 scheme markers around – he could have easily dropped these next to Molly and scored 3 for spring the trap. I also suspect all the pushing could have been useful for tossing my crew out of the scoring zone.
Overall it was a fantastic game with plenty of laughs and shit talking to go around. Looking forward to a rematch – where I expect to see a more aggressive Shenlong.
As usual I picked my schemes badly for the crew I’d actually built. I deployed poorly, forgot about Molly’s summoning getting better the more models are in range (inexcusable as this was my 3 game against her in the last few weeks), I put down a load of scheme markers that I didn’t need instead of pushing fast through the choke point. Sure I was worried about the crew getting too far ahead of slower members but actually the risk would have been far better. Sensai Yu was brilliant at healing and moving. I think he is probably the best henchman in the game. He and Kang are a really fearsome combo.
What was interesting for me was how well the Oiran worked in this crew. She was a last minute sub as I’d forgotten my Komainu but she took the crew up to basically WP 7 with Shenlong and Kang at WP 8. That really made life hard for Molly and the Hanged. Combined with Kang being healed, I had a super tough crew but it was stuck outside the 6” turf war.
I criminally misused Shenlong. I might stop taking Wandering River Style for him early on to stop me messing around with moving scheme markers in T1. I treat him like china, but when I actually get him into combat he is actually pretty fierce. His attacks hurt and if he has some burning he can dish out some real pain and blasts.
If I had pushed through the choke point, I could have held my ground in the 6” bubble and scored points. If I’d taken Spring the Trap, Shenlong could have done that so easily and Sensai Yu could have dashed off T4 to get Breakthrough. Instead I got 1 point for Distract and 3 for Breakthough and a pathetic 0 for Turf War.
In short I am getting progressively worse at this game. My play style is erratic, and my planning short sighted. I lose focus on the table, deploy badly, use my crew badly and consistently pick the wrong schemes. I also constantly design and play my next game as if I was re-playing the last one. Added to this is my legendary poor hand and flipping. I’ve had opponents and bystanders offer to swap decks with me to help. Shenlong offsets this a bit with his numerous positive flips. He is a really powerful master and really good fun to play. Luckily I had great fun, and lots of laughs so I will just accept that I’m only going to get worse but I can still love my games.
Shenlong 4 (3 Breakthrough, 1 Distract)
Molly 9 (2 Spring the Trap, 3 Breakthrough, 4 Turf War).