I wasn't actually planning on writing anything about Masters before I went. Much like Nationals, it is too big an event and there is too much going on to take enough notes to do a proper tournament report. But I did think my experience at Masters is worth writing a few short (for me) words about.
My first proper tournament was the League of Extraordinary Henchmen weekend events in January 2015. Philippa and I were lucky enough to get a ride up there from Joe Wood and it was a great weekend. It was at that point I finally got to start testing myself competitively and see how I matched up. It was also, for the most part, the first time I got to meet people in the Malifaux scene. I'd met a few people, including Mike Marshall, James Reeves, Dave Hill, at earlier small events at Wayland but wasn't really a part of the scene at that point. So LOEH last year was thus both the start of my first year of competitive gaming, and the beginning of building a whole new social group in my life. As fun as the gaming was, going out for drinks and dinner on the Saturday night was probably the highlight.
Fast forward a year. After doing far better than I expected over the last year I managed to qualify for Masters. So Philippa and I were back, a year later, where the whole year of Malifaux started. The best part was, instead of being new and not knowing a ton of people, we were getting together with a bunch of friends from all over the country. We even had a fewer others from the Dark Sphere crowd come up for at least one day. Considering how I work in a non-social environment (there are only two of us here in London) and Philippa and I live on our own, the Malifaux community has become one of my main social circles. And what a great community it is. Nationals was so busy and exhausting that I found it hard to really get much socialising done. This weekend was even more about enjoying hanging out with friends than it was about playing for me. Especially since I wasn't particular confident in my ability to make it to Day Two of Masters. I spent most of the train ride up reading the new schemes for LOEH Sunday. Anyway, I'm rambling again, but I just wanted to thank everyone in the Malifaux community for making me feel so welcome and being such a huge part of why I love living in the UK. Also the dinner Saturday was fantastic and hilarious. Really enjoyed how relaxed and social everything was. Thanks to Maria for organising the dinner.
Every time the conversation about Masters has occurred since I started playing Malifaux, people would say that it was the best event of the year. Often saying that high level of competition was balanced with a relaxed atmosphere due to people having nothing left to prove. I wasn't sure I actually believed it, but it was definitely true. On day one I managed to play 3 great games against top notch players I had either never face or never beaten (you still have a winning record over me Dave :P). Even in the games where I won by a lop-sided score, it was a much closer game than the score would indicate. After (shockingly) getting through day 1 undefeated and (even more shockingly) not taking Dreamer out of the case all day (Pandora is so darn good), I was on to Day Two. Day Two started with my one game of the weekend where I didn't use Pandora (Dreamer finally coming out) and was a 9-9 draw that saw me go through to the next round due to previous day's results. The semi-finals saw me take the first punch as Huggy took out Nekima early, but I managed to recover to win the game 8-7.
Having made the final I was amped to see if I could take the Crown, something I hadn't even considered before that point. I managed to land a huge hit at the start of the game, taking off Two Stitched and Doppelganger by first activation of turn 2, leaving my opponent with just Collodi and effigies left in the fight. However, after that point Blue Tack outplayed me and managed to draw the game even and eventually come out on top 6-5. Although not tactically the best game I played that weekend, it was an absolute riot of a game and was really cool having spectators rush over every time something funny happened (and there was a fair bit of that in the game)
So my last 4 games of the event were decided by 1 or fewer points (7-6, 9-9, 8-7, 5-6).
My main memories of the actual games include:
Game 1 vs Martin having a terror tot kill an ice gamin but die from the explosion and Iggy kill a gamin only to kill Pandora with the explosion. But the funniest moment of the game was when the Wendigo charged a paralysed Nekima while Martin had no cards in hand. Of course he top-decked the 13 of tomes to devour a poor defenceless Nekima. Poor Nekima... It was the first time I'd actually seen the Wendigo devour something that big. The biology of their stomachs must be crazy.
Game 2: Dave forgetting to activate Trixibelle two turns in a row after forgetting a skeeter turn 1. Also the fact that he took Outflank and Somer tried to run his fat butt to get there in time.
Game 3: Forgetting to discard Retribution's Eye on Doppelganger before copying Nekima's sword and charging the dead rider. Would've killed him in one hit... instead he survived and killed off Doppelganger.
Game 4: How cagey it was. Nekima trying to stay away from Lazarus/Johan/Librarian and visa-versa until one of us could get the edge and/or good activation control. In the end only Johan, my Trapper and a summoned Insidious Madness died all game.
Game 5: The turning point of the game, when Craig's reactivated Lone Sworsdman charged my librarian in his second activation, did half her wounds on the first hit and then missed the second (I cheated higher than he could) causing it to sacrifice itself. Was absolutely a swinging point in the game as it left that quarter of the board mostly under my control.
Game 6: The funniest moment of the whole weekend. Turn 1 Nekima double walks and stands between two stitched (misses with ml expert). Pandora Incites and then charges a Stitched. Hitting it for 1+1 damage causing two flips for Rotten Contents, both of which hit crows causing 4 damage to Nekima and doing 2 rounds of black blood damage to both stitched which then triggered 4 more flips for Rotten contents. ... And then Pandora attacked again causing another round of the same. I think in the end Nekima suffered 6 damage and the stitched each took 3 from black blood (the stitched Pandora charged being killed in the process). Was absolutely hilarious and definitely the biggest crowd we drew in the match.
Thanks to everyone for being so much fun all weekend.
A special thanks to all my opponents for giving me 6 great games, all of which were incredibly tactical but also fun, relaxed, and often times hilarious. Was worried that the difficulty of the games and the threat of elimination would cause me to tighten up but in reality they were all great fun.
Finally I'd like to thank Joel for running such a fantastic event. Without a doubt it was my favourite event of the past year.