We had a full car load setting off to Wayland Games - the biggest Gremlin around Ben Harris had organised two of the Northampton regulars, Craig and Karl to come along. Plus we had been graciously blessed by having THE Joel Henry in the car with us. I feel we were all made better just by having him in the car. Actually for two of us that proved to be the case. But I'm getting ahead of myself here....
The car ride was a lot of fun, if slightly cramped in the back seat with me, Craig and Karl. There's always a lot of giggling when we're going to an event together, which I'm not entirely sure creates the best driving conditions for Ben but he hasn't crashed the car yet!
|Craig's milkshake brings all the boys to the car and they're like...."Actually I'm not comfortable with this...."|
We arrived at Wayland and went through the usual process of registering, saying hi to everyone and (for me) dispensing cookies to anyone who wanted them. Then it was onto the (somewhat) serious business of announcing the first round draw. And you know something is about to happen when Mike does the random draw and starts giggling. It's NEVER a good sign. The last time it happened I ended up in a Round 1 game against Benjamin Crowe with his Leve crew. It wasn't pretty. Thankfully this time it wasn't me on the end of an "amusing" match up - it was poor Mr Harris getting drawn against THE Joel Henry.
As for me I'd been handed a draw against another member of our travelling circus - Karl. We'd played once before at Wayland which had ended in a pretty definitive win for his filthy Neverborn against my Gremlins. This game would be different as Karl had switched factions to Ressers for this event. He'd chosen McMourning for this game, whereas I'd decided that the scheme pool for Round 1 was pretty well suited to Ophelia. Our strategy was Headhunter and I decided to take Hunting Party and Leave Your Mark, figuring that if I was killing things for Headhunter anyway, I might as well try and score some additional points from it.
The game was very close the whole way - we both scored points from Headhunter and I managed to score some VPs from both my Schemes so the scores all the way through were very even. Once again the Rooster Riders proved tough to pin down and were capable of grabbing head markers and dropping scheme markers for Leave Your Mark. It was a really fun game but I was pleased to come out of it with an 8-7 win at the end of it. So Karl and I are now 1-1 in our games - looking forward to another one sometime!
After a break for lunch and a chance to look at some of the amazing painted crews people had entered for the contest, it was time for Round 2. My narrow win over Karl meant that I had been drawn against Dean who had managed a first round tie with his opponent. I'd played Dean before at the last Wayland event and had come out of that with a small win, helped in no great part by Dean getting himself in a muddle and choosing schemes from the wrong round so making him unable to score any scheme points. Despite this hiccup we'd both thoroughly enjoyed our game and I was keen to see how we would both fare playing the same schemes!
The Strategy for this round was Collect the Bounty so I decided once again that Ophelia was more than capable of murdering practically anything on the board for Bounty points. Dean was once again using Shen Long, a Master I haven't come across that much so if nothing else it was going to be a learning experience. Dean had warned me he was still re-learning Malifaux and in particular was trying out some new models in his crew - 3 Tokerage. Unfortunately they proved reasonably easy to kill and were promptly dispatched by my crew, helping me to earn 3 points for Collect the Bounty reasonably effortlessly.
For my schemes in this game I'd decided to take Undercover Entourage on Trixiebelle, figuring she'd be easy to keep out of trouble and then Reckless her into Dean's deployment zone late game for the points. I'd also decided to Frame For Murder on my Slop Hauler, which is a tactic that works quite well because people tend to try to take out a model with healing capabilities quite quickly. So my plan was to keep him close to Trixie in case she got hit, then throw him at either Shen Long, Ototo or Sensei Yu while Trixiebelle made a break for freedom and 3 Undercover Entourage VPs.
Things went almost exactly according to plan except for Dean very cleverly tying up Trixiebelle for a couple of turns, giving me a few anxious moments of "Ack! I need to get her out of there!" Luckily for me I was able to get the Slop Hauler into range to heal her up and then fling him at Shen Long who proceeded to squash him like a skeeter in Turn 3, giving me all 3 points for Frame For Murder while Trixibelle decided she's a lover not a fighter and legged it to spend the rest of the game hiding behind a building in Dean's deployment zone. Women eh?
The game was a lot of fun but definitely heavily in my favour as I was able to outscore Dean each round for Collect the Bounty (a crew containing Mancha, Ophelia, Francois and Trixie as the models that would score the highest isn't the easiest to dispatch), the Slop Hauler fufilled his destiny by dying gloriously and Trixiebelle ran and hid for two turns to secure her points for Undercover Entourage. Dean had chosen Take Prisoner on Mancha but as Mancha walloped everything that came near him (poor Ototo never saw it coming) he wasn't able to score any points from this. He also picked Undercover Entourage on Sensi Yu but by the end of the game he was badly outnumbered with Ophelia, Mancha and Francois combining to take him out. When we came to tot up the VPs at the end of the game I was gobsmacked to work out I'd actually won 10-0, which was a first for me and the first thing I did was offer to buy Dean a beer - I've been on the end of results like that and it never feels good. However Dean was utterly gracious in defeat and was quick to reassure me he'd had a good game and had enjoyed himself despite the result. Genuinely lovely guy and I was pleased to see him walk away with the prize for best 10 Thunders player and a raffle prize at the end of the day.
So two wins and a VP difference of +11. After some fairly tortuous mental arithmetic (maths is so not my strong point) I worked out that this would put me in a very strong position going into the last round. In fact I ended up on Table 1. As I said (repeatedly) at the time, clearly the end of the world was very nigh.
Round 3 and yep, I'm on the top table. I surprised myself though by not being terribly nervous. There were two main reasons for this, firstly I'd already won two games and achieved a top table game so I had nothing to prove and secondly my opponent was someone I like an awful lot - the lovely Benjamin Crowe. So I knew regardless of the outcome I was going to enjoy myself as I had no expectations and was playing against a decent chap (that'll be a tenner please Joff).
The Strategy for this final round was Guard the Stash. I decided to stick with Ophelia as I was hoping she'd be able to pick off a few of Ben's models around the markers making it harder for him to score. For my schemes I decided to pick Show of Force (I had upgrades on Trixie, Mancha and Francois) as clustering everyone around the Stash Markers would make it easier to score points for Show of Force. I was torn between a choice of two schemes for my second pick. Tag and Release seemed like a no-brainer with everyone getting in close around the Stash markers but Leave Your Mark had proved very achieveable in previous games and with everyone focused on the centre of the board I was hopeful that my Roosters could streak down the sides of the board and drop some markers without being hampered too badly. Afer some deliberation I went for Leave Your Mark as it was something I was confident I could score some points from.
I'd played Ben once before when he was using Levi. That game hadn't gone at all my way and I'd scored a grand total of two points. I was hoping to better that acheivement this time around. Ben is currently playing around with Neverborn and Mike quickly took a tongue in cheek poll to see how many people would be in favour of an instant DQ if Ben took Pandora against me and the response was overwhelmingly "Yes"! I suspect it had absolutely no effect on Ben's choice of Master and he ended up running a Dreamer crew with Nekima, Sue, Hannah and 2 Insidious Madnessesesesess (I don't know the plural!).
The game started off fairly well, I sent a Rooster down each side to start getting into postion to lay Scheme Markers while everyone else moved into the centre. Dreamer did horribleness that resulted in Coppelius arriving on the board. It all started to go a bit wrong for me when I lost a Rooster very early on and then Ophelia got Nekima'd off the board after taking a few shots at her but failing to kill her. I also made a critical error in my postioning of Trixiebelle - in my caution to try and hide her behind the Stash Marker so she could count for that scheme and not get taken out by Hannah I had left her out of range for Show of Force which cost me two points as I wasn't able to move her in range until Mancha had dealt with Hannah. My second Rooster did well at dropping Scheme Markers for Leave Your Mark until Sue decided he'd like some chicken to cook over his Ring of Fire and shot it to pieces.
All in all the game, while not one of my best peformances, was a lot of fun. Ben played extremely well and chose 2 schemes that his crew accomplished easily (Show of Force and Tag & Release) while picking off enough of my crew and summoning in other models to make Guard the Stash very hard for me to score from. The final score was 5-10 to Ben but I didn't feel disappointed as I'd bettered my previous result and felt no shame to lose on the top table.
So time for the final results and it turned out that Ben Crowe had won the event with THE Joel Henry second and Joe Wood in third. As for me, I'd finished in 5th place and snagged myself top Gremlin, beating Ben Harris (who didn't seem to mind at all) and James Reeves. Craig Woods had also done incredibly well by finishing in 6th place over all and taking the Best Guild title so we were all really pleased for him. Mike also awarded me with a special prize of a lovely MDF building for "Most Surprising Moment of the Day" which was incredibly apt and very much appreciated. 5th place may not seem like a huge deal but there were some very good players in attendance and I'd proved to myself that I can get the results when it all clicks. I don't expect this to be the start of a run of event wins or anything but it was something I was very proud of. I was also very touched (I think that's the right word....) by Mike's heartwarming speech as he handed over the Best Gremlin guilder. Something about me being the same height as Gremlin I think. Cheeky bugger.There was also a painting prize for our own Dr Walnut who picked up a large Mystery Box for the most improved painter with his excellent Molly crew.
So another excellently fun day at one of Mike's Showdown events and I'll certainly be back for Summer Showdown in August! Hope to see some of you there!