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Monday, 28 March 2016

Boarfaux: What? No Neverborn?

Insidiously Mad

Well this weekend I will have done my first ever malifaux event using the Gaining Grounds 2016 schemes (having only played 3 games with them prior to the event) and, more importantly, played in my first event without my beloved Neverborn. As anyone who reads the blog probably knows, I am attempting to claim the rainbow badge this year by taking all the 7 factions to a ranked event. First on the lists is Outcasts as they are the only faction I actually have a fully painted master for with enough models to use them fairly effectively.

Rather than a straightforward battle report, I thought it would be cool to look at the (very limited) model selection I will be taking to the event, my hopes/plans in bringing them, and how they actually did. The parts in black were written prior to the event and everything in purple was written after the event had concluded. I've only got 18 models to choose from (including duplicates) so it should be easy to see how they all do in the event. We do not know the schemes in advance but the stratagies were announced as follows (schemes added in after event):
Game One: Guard the Stash (Standard)
Convict labour
Show of force
Search the ruins
A quick murder
Leave your Mark

Game Two: Squatters Rights (Flank)
Convict labour
Hunting party
Exhaust their forces
Undercover entourage
Set Up

Game Three: Headhunter (Standard)
Convict labour
Neutralise the leader
Take prisoner
Public Demonstration
Leave your Mark

Game Four: Recon (Flank)
Convict labour
Exhaust their forces
Hunting party
Covert breakthrough
?

Masters:

Viktoria of Ashes (and Viktoria of Blood of course..)
This will be the first time I've taken one master to an event since attending a couple fixed master events in October of 2015. The last few events I've attended I've had (at least) Dreamer, Lilith and Pandora in the bag to choose between. As I only have 1 master it will at least make it easy to crew build. The real decision will come down to upgrades. Currently I've only used the slingshot build on ashes (Sisters in Spirit, Sync Slaying, Sisters in Fury) but would like to try out the more independent style as well (Sisters in Fury, Survivalist, Oathkeeper). Unsurprisingly with the Viks the main goal is target removal and area control. One thing I have to be careful with is not being too aggressive and losing them early, or not being aggressive enough with them and playing defensively, as it doesn't really suit their capabilities.

Well as the masters kind of define the games a lot of the time, I guess I better give a quick summary of how the event went. In a word: Poorly. I had a great time and my opponents were great fun, I really enjoyed my games. But I played like crap. I won my first game and was fairly happy with that result as I ran the independent viks upgrade for this first time to very good effect. Blood held the center of the board (helping me score public demonstration and GTS) and killed things (Think she killed a depleted, illuminated, wastrel and Lynch) that came near it while I flung Ashes aggressively down the board to kill off a wastrel and Toshiro, scoring A Quick Murder for me. Game 2 I lost 8-7 but the Viks (slingshot build this time) performed very well, my opponent just outplayed me and losing my Entourage target (Taelor) on turn 1 put me on the back foot. Vik of Blood ended up killing 2 dogs, Sensei Yu and a katanaka sniper, pretty good for a days work. She even survived the game. Was still an iniative flip away from winning the game as Ashes was in charge range of Mccabe (on foot) and killing him or even taking him below half wounds wouldve done it. Oh well, my opponent was great and I lost a close one. That's where the day fell apart though. Faced my most common opponent (James Reeves) in game 3 and got decimated by the pigapult and Ophelia, losing both Viks by early turn 2. In that game I took survivalist as well to keep Ashes alive, but it didn't really matter. His iniative control and long range damage output wrecked me. I did manage to pull a draw with some turn 5 shenanigans but was not impressed with my use of the Viks (they didn't kill a single model!). Needed to either be more aggressive or more conservative, i got stuck in the middle and paid the price... A good game four could have salvaged the day but I got absolutely smashed by Ramos (I hate him in recon) as my opponent had massive activation control and did a great job leveraging a reactivating Joss, making it difficult for me to get the Viks into his summoning center (despite again taking Slingshot build). This made Boarfaux the worst I have ever done in a Malifaux event at 1-2-1.

In the end I learned that I much prefer the slingshot Viks unless you are absolutely convinced you don't need them to get that far into the opponent's backfield. I also think they probably won't see competitive play for me again. I really enjoy playing them as a changeup to my normal style, but the hyper aggression you need to run them with just doesn't suit how I like to play the game and I think I just got a bit tired/bored of it by the end of the event. The Viks did kill a lot, which was fun, but I think I made a lot of incorrect decisions of what to go after with them. Target priority is key with them and I think I failed at that. Was still a really fun day, but don't think Viks will be threatening to become one of my go-to masters in events. They will probably stay as the occasional changeup game for fun.  On to the rest of the models!


Totem:

Malifaux Child. I don't own a Student of Conflict but to be honest even if I did it wouldn't see play. Malifaux Child is just so good with the Viks. He will be in every single list this weekend. He is also one model that I can't imagine disappointing me as his job is so simple. He basically hides at the back of the board, gives me an activation to burn and goes early in the turn to try and get Sisters of Fury off (saving Ashes AP for more important things).
I took the Malifaux child in every game. For the most part he sat in my back corner casting Sisters in Fury. Game 1 he also tied up a tengu for a turn, preventing my opponent from scoring a point. His death turn 1 of game 2 showed why he is so important to the list as without him my threat range with the Viks drastically decreased as I need to use one of Ashes' APs to put up the buff. More than any other model the Child was worth his points every single game. I still can't imagine a situation I wouldn't take him with the Viks. 

Beatsticks (10SS+ models):
This is definitely the most crowded area for my outcasts (and many outcasts players, as they have so many strong 10ss models). I am likely to only run 1 of these models in a given game, two at absolute maximum if it's a more killing focused game. Which means with only 4 games it is fairly likely at least 2 of these models don't see the table. But they are all in the case anyway.


Taelor is probably the toughest of all the models in this group (Lazarus is tougher against things that don't ignore armour, but armour ignoring attacks go right through him.) She is also the slowest of the group and there is no way (outside of upgrades) to really speed her up. I use he occasionally with the Viks to mixed effect. In all likelihood she is probably going to see play in Guard the Stash and could see play in headhunter and/or squatters depending on the schemes. She will definitely be left in the bag for reccointre.
Taelor was the only beatstick I used twice. In the first game I put two upgrades on her and sat her in the middle of the board projecting her threat range and helping me score public demonstration. Unluckily for me Lynch gets around her defences fairly easily. At the end of turn 2 he walked up, did two damage to her with play for blood and then did final debt for 8 damage, leaving her on 1 wound. He won initiative turn 3 and killed her immediately. So not a great start for Taelor. Sadly she faired even worse in the second game and it was a much more drastic swing of the game. I decided to take Entourage on her as I didn't love the other schemes (other than hunting party) and I thought her slow speed would make her seem less threatening for it and her toughness would keep her safe. I was wrong. A fast/reactivating lone swordsman (pushed twice by Sensei Yu and twice by Mccabe) with Nimble and glowing Sabre killed her on the charge turn 1 even though she had barely left my deployment zone (he then used his reactivated action and 2 nimbles to get to my corner of the board and kill off the child as well... that was a rough start to the game). This meant I played the whole game basically down 3vp and 2 models... ended up losing 8-7 so it was especially painful. I was not impressed with Taelor at all. She was definitely my most disappointing model of the event, and I really overestimated her toughness. She never made an attack action the entire event :( After such poor performances in the first two games there was no way she was coming out of the bag again. 


Bishop and I tend not to get along. He has pretty crazy damage potential as he can get 4-5 attacks in a turn with oathkeeper. The problem is whenever I use him (or face him) he inevitably dies before he does that much. He may kill a model, he may not. But that model rarely is more expensive than him. Not saying he's a bad model, just that I find him tricky to use. Keeping him hidden until bringing him out late turn seems the way to use him but that works better in a crew with heavy activation control. Honestly he is probably one of the models I least expect to see the table.
Unsurprisingly I never even considered taking Bishop. Just don't think he compares well to the others in this group with the Viks.


Strong Arm Suit is the most recent (painted) addition to my outcasts. I have only used him a couple times, but I love him. He does not hit as hard as some of the other models (though he still hits very hard), nor is he as tough as Lazarus or Taelor. But he is by far the most mobile of these models and for that reason he is often the best at going off on his own to hunt down some models. He is also far tougher than Bishop. Of the three melee beatsticks I think he is the most flexible and will most likely see play in a couple of games. Ideally he will be able to use his speed to pick off small to medium sized models so the viks can focus on taking out the big models. This is main strength compared to Taelor as she isn't fast enough to run down scheme runners.
Strongarm was the only other beatstick I used. I took him in the final game vs Ramos in Recon. Unluckily due to his activation advantage and his projecting a massive threat range by reactivating Joss every turn, the Strong Arm had to play very conservatively. I did manage to kill a spider that had exhausted me in one hit so I could remove exhaust and shot at a few spiders with his gun, but he never really had the opportunity to do much as my opponent did a great job forcing him into a position where he would get wiped out by Josh if he charged anything. I got horribly outplayed in that game (definitely my worst of the day) and it just ended up being a bad matchup for the Strong Arm as Joss is such a good counter to him (and the Viks could never seem to get into a position to take him out).

Lazarus is the first of the 10ss+ shooting platforms I have access to. He is very tough (armour 2 and healing), puts out min dmg 3 shots at a good range, can fire at 3 targets a turn once he in position... All in all he is awesome. But he does need to get into position. Command Construct from Vanessa can help with that, but it does require a board with good firing lanes and not too much terrain to hide behind. More than any of the models in this section Lazarus will depend on the board. It is very doubtful he will make it into the list for GTS (extra stuff to hide behind) or Headhunter (don't want to kill things from range), but is very likely to be considered for reccointre and squatters. Combined with Vanessa and the Librarian he anchors a very good firing base with loads of healing and decent combat output that can hold a quarter/squatters markers on their own.
I never used Lazarus. I considered using him in Recon (Squatters I went for Taelor so I could have her as an entourage option, otherwise I would've considered Lazarus) but the board just had too much hard cover. During the day the strat/scheme pool and the board setups didn't make using Lazarus a great option, but I did consider him in the final game. 


McTavish is amazing. Man do I love this guy. He is also the most expensive of all these models due to having to pay the mercenary tax. I've never used him with the Viktorias, but to be honest he is a very independent model. Whereas Lazarus is very board dependent, Mctavish thrives on heavy terrain boards, especially forests. His gun ignores cover and he's unimpeded, so forests really help him in a gun fight. He also doesn't randomize into engagements. This vastly increases his flexibility. Much like the Strong Arm, Mctavish could really fit into any scheme pool or strategy. Furthermore he does have a bit of scheme denial as well with his 0 and some mobile cover with his other 0. Not sure he will end up getting into a game just cause of how tight this crew is for Soulstones, but he is definitely a strong option I will consider.
Mctavish was the third of the three beatsticks I never hired. I debated taking him in Headhunter, as the board was good for him, but I didn't want to kill stuff at range. Headhunter game ended up being the only game I didn't take any of the 10ss+ beatstick models as I wanted to try public demonstration. I also could have considered him in Squatters, but though Taelor was tougher and thus a better entourage target. There was too much line of sight blocking terrain in the other two games to consider him. 

Support Pieces:
Vanessa is the one model outside the Malifaux Child (and the Viks themselves) that I see in every competitive Viktorias list. I've also never used her and will be borrowing her for the event (although I have just bought her myself, I won't have time to paint her for the event). I see her as a secondary hitter as she is a great caster and can be a massive threat in ml to low df models when Sisters in Fury up. I view her (2) heal as more of a corner case, but it's nice to have. More importantly, she gives the librarian a target she can heal that she will actually be able to keep pace with. These two models will tend to stay together for that reason.
I ended up taking Vanessa in every game, and she tended to not do a ton. I'm not sold on her yet. She was fantastic in game 2 where she killed off the lone swordsman in combat after Ashes weakened him and accomplished into her in game 2, commanded the effigy around and killed off Luna from range (allowing the effigy to flip a squatters marker to deny a point to my opponent) but she basically did nothing in games 1,3, and 4 outside being a healing target for the librarian and putting out some decent damage as a caster (think she killed off a couple models over the day with that). Command construct was really useful in squatters rights as I commanded the effigy around flipping markers. I still think she is a very good model but I will need to work to get more advantage from her card manipulation abilities. I also very rarely had her on the centerline, so not sure how much that hindered her. I also wonder if dropping the heavy Viks synergy/healing from the list (ie Vanessa and librarian) wouldv'e allowed my crew to do a better job competing once the viks went down... something to consider in the future.

Freikorps Librarian is the other healing in the list. I think there is a very good chance she ends up in every list I take as well, as I find her healing is incredibly handy (even more so with the Viks and Vanessa in the list). Also she is fairly tough and can output quite a bit of damage if you get her in a central position. Think you would see librarians a LOT as mercs for 8ss if they didn't have the once per turn limitation on healing outside Outcasts. Either way, for 7ss they are a steal.
The librarian was awesome. I took her in every game and she was fantastic in most of them. Her healing was super useful in all 4 games and she also did a ton of damage with her casting attack. She un-horsed McCabe in game 2 in one round of furious casting (before being killed by the Lone Swordsman) and did some damage in game 3 as well. Game 4 she ended up being needed to hold my own quarter in interference, but she still managed to score me 2vp for Hunting Party. Still not sure the librarian should be in 100% of Viks lists as I said above, I think I may have overdone the healing/synergies and left the rest of my crew a bit sparse, but she was such a great (and flexible) piece it would be hard to leave her behind. Exceeded my expectations (especially as a damage dealer).
Only had a group shot of the freikorps for the libarian/trappers

2 Freikorps Trappers make up one of only two models I have multiples of (Ronin being the other). Trappers are so fantastic for their points. They are flexible in deployment, tough and have great board control. All for 6SS!! That being said, on certain boards they can be very difficult to take advantage of (though on others they have far too strong an effect for a 6ss model). More than any model in the crew these guys could see play in every game, or none depending on the board and the schemes. They are some of the best denial pieces for Hunting Party as they can effect the game from so far away that they are not as much of a risk of giving up points (especially if you spread 2 of them out at opposite ends of the board). Also the ability to put them on a corner squatters rights marker to start the game is really helpful as the crew is a bit slow to get to the markers for turn 2. I would be surprised if I didn't have one or two of these in every game, except GTS where there is likely to be just too much blocking terrain for them to deal with (and more models are needed that can hang around the fight). There main job will be fire support, area control, denial, and potentially getting a scheme marker down near where they deploy. Definitely one of the core pieces of many of my lists.
I never took both trappers in a game, but I took one in both Squatters Rights and Recon. They did fantastic in both games, effecting my opponents deployment AND managing to get down two markers for Breakthrough (though one got removed) in the Recon game  and shooting off a guild hound turn 1 and flipping a squatters marker turn 2 in the Squatters game. They also didn't die in either game and with both games having Hunting Party in the pool (though neither of my opponent's took it) that was a boon as well. They weren't usable in GTS cause of terrain and I don't like them in Headhunter, but they did a fantastic job in the two games they were in. After Malifaux Child probably the most effective models in the day for what I paid for them. 

Originally was done for my Neveborn, thus the illuminated arm

Johan is possibly the best hitter for his cost out there. 6ss for a relic hammer is bonkers. He also brings much needed condition removal to the crew. However he.... is.....so.....slow. Oathkeeper can speed him up, but he is often not one of the priority places to put it. Johan will be great in games where you need to hold an area (GTS, Squatters) but will be a liability when you need to spread out (Recon). His job will to function as a fourth hitter (after Viks and a beatstick). He is also a great choice with Hunting Party in the pool as he won't give up points for it. Basically Johan will be fighting against the trappers/ronin for a spot, but I could see him making a fair few lists and just sitting around beating up minions.. but it will really depend on the scheme pool.
Johan is very slow but quite tough, so he didn't make the list very often. However he was in the crew for the only game I won (game 1). I took him in that list as he was a cheap model I could chuck an upgrade on (scout the field) and have hang around one of the GTS markers scoring the strategy and Show of Force. This is exactly what he did. He basically hid all game behind a marker, but that's all I need him to do. He was also enough of a threat that he could have taken out any cheaper models that came to contest that marker (tho none ever did). He did exactly what I need him to. Well done Johan.

Hans is another model that is very unlikely to see play. Trappers being 2ss cheaper, harder to kill and having better deployment tends to win over Hans' tricks most of the time. However being able to ignore the Guard the Stash markers is handy and the ability to remove upgrades is a lot more powerful now with show of force in the game. However the one way Hans will definitely get in the game is if I face Gremlins. With Scout the Field, Hans can shoot off the pigapult (or a slop hauler) on turn 1 and really hamstring the gremlins player. It's a big risk of course, but well worth the look on your opponent's face. If he does that he was worth it. If he doesn't he's a huge waste of points.
Hans is the final model I didn't use in this list, and I'm kind of kicking myself for not doing it. The only game I would've used him in was headhunter vs Gremlins. And I really wish I had. I played around the pigapult a fair bit, and it still did tons of damage. I completely forgot about my plan to take Hans against Gremlins as a way to remove the pigapult turn 1 and I am kicking myself about it now. I was just exhausted by that point in the day (my play in the final two games was pretty awful for the most part) and since he's a model I rarely use I completely bypassed him while crew building. I really should have found a way to fit him in, as removing the pigapult turn 1 (or even turn 2 if i didn't have the cards turn 1) would've been a massive game changer. One of my dumbest mistakes of the day. Sigh. 

Scheme Runners/Cheaper Models:
Couldn't find a picture of the 2nd Ronin..

2 Ronin are the closest I have to native scheme runners in this list. They are decently fast, decently tough, hit decently hard, and can sacrifice themselves for most soulstones. They do hate being shot as it gets around a lot of their defenses, but going defensive without having to discard anything is no joke. I tend to go defensive with them a lot and therefore rarely, if ever, use their gun. However they are also pretty good at taking down opponents scheme runners if they come near them. Other than Vanessa these are probably the models I am most curious to see how they perform. I could see them making anywhere between none and all of my games depending on the scheme pool and how I am feeling. They are particularly competing with the Trappers, and to a lesser extent the performer, for a spot. I do want to give them a run though as the (metal) models are great and Joel has been raving about them lately.
I took both Ronin in headhunter as it allowed me to have a list with a chance to score Public Demonstration, which seemed important as there were no super easy schemes in the pool. There was also the potential for them to run Leave Your Mark (though I decided not to). They were absolutely phenomenal in that game. They were absolutely my key models in pulling out a draw of a game where I was down both Viks after the first activation of turn 2. They managed to dodge around the sides of the board turn 1/2 before moving at end of turn 3 to score me 3vp for public demonstration (alongside the effigy). They also managed to deny my opponent 3vp for take prisoner when one of them charged my own effigy (who it turns out was the target), killing it, and then both of them sacrificing themselves so only the malifaux child was left on the board. One of them even charged Ophelia and did some damage, which enabled me to at least get 1vp for Neutralise. In the end they (and the effigy) scored me 4vp of my 5 and denied 3vp to my opponent in a game I never should have drawn. I didn't use them in any other game, but I will definitely be trying them out more in the future. 

Hodgepodge Effigy is my only 4ss or less model outside the Malifaux Child. He is also a tough bugger. The way I play the Viks, Vik of Blood does most of the killing so his 0 action isn't likely to do all that much. Putting up soft cover is potentially useful, but expensive. Really this guy is in the list to free up 2ss that would've gone to a trapper, performer, or ronin if I need a cheap/tough scheme runner but can't afford one of them. I expect to see him in most games, especially if I want to try and fit two of the expensive beatsticks in.
I took the effigy twice, in the Squatters Rights game and the headhunter game. He was fantastic in both games, especially since he was 2ss cheaper than my other minion choices. In squatters rights he ended up being my main marker flipper (with assistance from Vanessa) and in the Headhunter game he got stuck in, did a fair bit of damage to Old Cranky, and almost grabbed a head, but more importantly he looked like an easy Take Prisoner target, which convinced my opponent to take it, but then I charge him with a Ronin on turn 5, killing him and denying my opponent 3 points. I never really used any of his abilities, ie the (0) action buff or mobile cover, but for 4ss he is just such a solid tough scheme runner. Really glad I borrowed a model for him (since like Vanessa he was one of my two outcasts models I didn't have time to paint). 


Performer is a really interesting model at 6ss in outcasts. It competes directly with trappers and ronin as my 6ss models to get schemes done. She is also much easier to kill and has lower damage output than both those models. The potential lure is solid, but not really what I am looking at her for. It really comes down to the ability to destroy enemy scheme markers and interact while engaged. This model is extremely situational in this list but could definitely see play with certain scheme pools (such as set up or detonate the charges). She is also really handy in headhunter for drawing people in and picking up heads. I predict 1-2 games with the performer but could easily be none if the right scheme pool doesn't come along.
I took the performer in Headhunter, just as I thought I might. I debated taking her in Squatters as well but thought she was too easy to kill for Hunting Party. She was okay. She did a bit of drawing Ophelia towards me to try to get her in position for the viks to strike, but the viks died too early, though it did allow me to position her close enough for me to get public demonstration. I also ran her into the scrum at one point to try and pick up a head (as all the heads were in a giant combat at that point, but I had to expose her a bit to do this and I lost iniative the next turn so Francois was able to kill her before she could pick up the head. Did manage to give reactivate to the effigy when she died (yay?) so that was something. For 6ss she was okay, but I do feel like I need to play her a bit better in the future; I've still never had a game where she's done a ton of work for me... Also the fact that my opponent didn't take Leave your Mark (which I thought he might) made he blowing up scheme markers much less useful. 


Please let me know in the comments if you like this kind of article as since I am going to play with more limited crew selection this year than in the past as I try out new masters/factions it would be easy enough to do for other events in the future if people are interested. Or if people prefer more traditional battle reports I could look at doing that instead. Let me know :)

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