This was one of those rare times when my wife gave me permission to go to a tournament. What a tournament. Boarfaux, held in the fabulous Paradise cafe Warboar in Bromley, London (UK). A 50ss fixed faction event in 2016 using Gaining Grounds and the new schemes.
Now I was very nervous going into this tournament. Not only am I one of the worst Malifaux players in the UK, but I'm also very inexperienced with Neverborn. I'd had 4 games with Pandora in the run up (2 wins, 2 losses). I also have trouble knowing what the strategies are and I have never scored more than 1 to 2 points of a strat. If I get 5 points overall I have had a high scoring game by my standards. I was therefore worried I'd be a boring and disappointing opponent. Still it was a chance to play 4 games in a row, see my friends and some of the wider community in a great location.
I wanted to run Pandora as she is the master of the year for me at the mo. I've started enjoying her a lot and have been focusing on painting her crew. She is a very strong master and has access to some great models. I normally run her with The Box Opens, Wings of Darkness and Aether Connection. I like her up in my opponents face dishing out pain rather than paralysis or activation order shenanigans. In my case I had Doppelganger, Primordial Magic, Mr Tannen, Mr Graves, Iggy, Aoinus, Friekorp Trapper, Friekorp Librarian, Nekima, Teddy, 2 Insidious Madnesses, 1 Silurid, 2 Illuminated, Widow Weaver, 3 Terror Tots, Candy, Baby Kade. My only other Neverborn master is Lynch. I hadn't assembled the Hungering Darkness proxy so he was basically out, but I like Pandora so much I wasn't worried. I did worry about her crew not being able to do strats/schemes where they needed to spread out.
Game 1: Guard the Stash vs Tom Payne running Arcanists Ironside
Schemes: Convict Labour
Show of Force
Leave your Mark
Search the Ruins
A Quick Murder.
Ok, so this game was an abject failure for me. I knew even as I deployed that I'd lost this game. I didn't know the scheme pool well, and was bad at the strat so I knew that I would do badly. I had good terrain, perhaps a bit too much. I took Leave your Mark and A Quick Murder. I stupidly chose Cassandra as my A Quick Murder victim. Even with Widow Weaver, an Illuminated and Doppleganger hitting her, she barely ruffled a hair. Pandora being evil nearly killed off Ironsides and a Mage, whilst holding up 2 other models. I only got one VP for the Strat as I'm useless at getting Strat points. My Silurid did wonders and managed to get me 2 points for Leave your Mark.
Game 2: Squatters Rights vs Ben "Panzer" Harris running Gremlins Somer Teeth
Exhaust their Forces
I was looking forward to this game, but seeing the nasty list being deployed opposite me was really intimidating and I was ready for my next loss of the day. I did wonder if I should just concede and then play a casual game, but decided to give it a go. My mind blanked so I took Set Up and Hunting Party. I figured Pandora could easily weaken models and then Teddy could finish them off nicely. Seeing Panzer put down a Piggapult, and an Emissary made me realise how badly outclassed I was for this game. I basically hide everything I could behind big buildings and was planning to avoid his crew, perhaps picking up a point or 2 so at least I didn't get 10-0'd as was very likely. It turned into a tight game and Panzer was lovely to play against. I decided to whizz my Silurid up to tie up the Piggapult. This worked really, really well. My crew happily murdered things fairly effectively. Pandora was as vicious as ever. I was stunned when it came time to total up and the game ended in an 8-8 draw. This was one of my highest scores in a Malifaux game ever I think. I even got 3 points for the Strat and I never normally get more than 2 for a strat. Panzer said I'd deployed really well and done a great job, which was a surprise as I had no idea what I was doing or why so I guess I got lucky.
Game 3: Headhunter vs Ross Baker running Gremlins Ulix
Leave your Mark
Neutralize the Leader
I was very excited about this game as Ross is a friend from Darksphere but I'd never managed a game with him yet. He was a great fun opponent and a really good sport. I was happy that I had Headhunter but sad to have to face Gremlins again. I took Leave your Mark and Public Demonstration. The endless pigs were horrible, with Gracie and another pig just ruining all my plans. I couldn't kill the wretched thing. I must have caused more than 25 wounds on it, but never landed the death blow. Finally Ross Red Jokered the damaged on Pandora, killing her - a very rare event indeed but not a disaster on T4. I was sure that we would hit a draw as I couldn't quite get to the headmarkers in time. It finished 9-9 and a great game.
Game 4: Reconnoiter vs Tom running The Viktoria's.
So I was on the last game of the day. I'd had a nice lunch and grabbed some army painter stuff for my SAGA vikings and was looking forward to a more relaxed finish. 2 draws was an exceptionally good performance for me. I normally finish my tournaments with straight losses. I played a really cracking sportsman, Tom from Woking. He was running the Viks, the terrain was a gift for them, and reconnoiter is Pandora's worst strat. I took Pandora, Nekima, Widow Weaver, 2 Terror Tots and Doppleganger. I knew I couldn't beat the Viks and that this was a lost cause, but I managed to kill off Rusty Alice in T2 as she was a bit far forward. Vik of Ashes then made a lone charge against Pandora and Nekima. She killed Nekima with Whirlwind and badly wounded Pandora. Sadly in T3 I lost the initiative despite cheating with Doppleganger. He flipped a 13 so I cheated in a 13. We reflipped and I lost, so I soul stoned and lost. Pandora then failed to succeed on any of her df duels so no push trigger leaving her dead at Ashes feet. That meant game over. Rather than concede we decided to play on basically for fun. Blood Vik killed off the Terror Tots, and only Doppleganger managed to get 3 points. Ended with a 10-3 loss and 45 mins to spare. One of my worst performances so far.
Tournaments are still fun. Go to them even if you lose every game.
I worry that the terrain is too balanced when it is set up by tournament organisers. This seems reasonable at first. Afterall, shouldn't terrain be balanced. Well yes up to a point. If it is too balanced though, we miss out on an essential element of the game. The choice between taking the choice of table side and deployment. Choosing to make your opponent deploy first is a huge advantage at the moment, especially if the terrain is too equal. TO's should set terrain so that there is some downside to making the opponent deploy first, by making a choice between table sides more important. This would be a bit more complex, so players should really flip before moving to the tables.
Pandora hates, hates, hates Recon. It was just awful for her. Maybe I drew unlucky by pulling a Viks crew against her in recon. It meant Pandora wasn't able to support her crew, who were spread out. To hopefully overcome this problem I've picked up Collodi. Also, whilst Pandora likes Hunting Party, you have to be a bit careful to only viciously wound stuff with her but leave it alive to kill off for points with a Henchmen/Enforcer. Pandora can often kill stuff so quickly that you don't get the points despite the body count.
All in all I had a great day. I was over optimistic going in because I had been doing a bit better with Pandora, and thought I might win a game during the day. Game 1 reminded me that I'm one of the worst Malifaux players in the country. I will go into the next tournament (Bitefaux in Chessington in April) knowing that I will lose badly. I do worry that my really poor playing unbalances some of the results as playing me is an easy win for any half way decent player except for one or two lucky games.