Monday, 5 June 2017

ITC: Abnormalifaux Rises!

I haven’t had much time to write lately, but I really wanted to cover ITC because it was an amazing event and has really reignited my interest in Malifaux (even if it felt like there was a NB support group there about how crap out waves 3 and 4 were… but I digress). Before I get into the actual games I would just like to thank Mike Marshall for running yet another amazing event. Mike has now run two of my three favourite events I’ve ever been to (Daffcon 2016 and ITC 2017). The third one was in Canada, though I’m sure Mike would’ve run it even better. Also thanks to all the judges and other volunteers who were great and looked like they were having a blast. I’m still unsure if we will get a team together for next year or not, but if not I definitely plan to volunteers as a helper/judge. Finally thanks to everyone at Element games. Wow, what a venue. So far the only other venue I’ve been to that compares is Firestorm in Cardiff. Also it was lovely that they noticed me eating a salad I bought elsewhere on the Saturday as I couldn’t eat the provided sandwiches (which I am totally okay with) and offered to get me a salad for the next lunch, which they did. So props on that, they really went over and beyond my expectations. Finally, having an on site bar is fantastic and the late hours were great too. Honestly one of my favourite parts of the weekend was drunkenly playing Dom Westerland and James Reeves in Guildball (borrowing James’ Masons team) and trying to explain to some of the Finnish team how the game worked. 3 Games of Malifaux (and several pints) during the day and still was up for some Werewolf (Paul Butler is always a werewolf…) and Guildball (and more pints) at night. What an awesome time. Other big highlight was just chatting with a bunch of new players. Was great seeing Elinore, Martin and the rest of their team again as I had met them at Nationals 2015 and had faced Martin in Daffcon Frostgrave event. Also was great chatting with the Americans who were just excellent blokes. Also props to Team Trump Card for winning the event and for embracing their role as the heels of Malifaux by dressing up in super American gear. Loved it. Anyway, enough gushing let’s get on to the actual games.

Arran (Metalhed), Francois, Pippa, Me, Brad (Mechanical Dove)
So I lied… before we get on to the games I want to talk about my team. Abnormalifaux brought a team! That’s right we were repping the blog. Though only 4 of the 5 of us have actually written for the blog, but still, we are a true team and I was really excited to see how we would do. Also nervous though as I think we had played a combined 4 games or fewer of malifaux in the previous 1-2 months (I’ve been playing a lot of Guildball and a few other guys have been as well or were just generally busy) and one team member Brad (Mechanical Dove) was forced to play a different faction and ended up using a Master he had never won a game with (hamelin) for the whole weekend. For simplicities sake Brad went fixed master Hamelin, Francois went fixed Nellie, Philippa went fixed Ironsides except one round where she dropped Raspy, so it was really only Arran and I that were swapping Masters, and both of us only ended up using 2 of the 3 we brought (Sorry Tara/Pandora).

Round 1
Forgot to write down the actual game scores this round... oops
So round 1 we drew the team that was 2nd closest to us geographically after the other Dark Sphere team (Faux Mads), John Burgess’ team Too Much Infaux. They had a major advantage over us both in terms of peak performance, depth, and recent experience. Wasn’t expecting a win here, but was expecting 5 great games cause they are all great guys (and I’ve played a few of them before). John started his weekend trend of throwing Andy under the bus by matching him, their weakest player up against me, our strongest. Smart tactical move though, and to be honest if Andy hadn’t made a couple of mistakes he could’ve taken me. I did stake a claim with Dreamer (which was a mistake, but I wanted to run him at least once this weekend) vs Seamus.

Andy did a great job messing with my schemes with all his pushes/leaps (stupid belles/necropunks/doxies) so I struggled to score. Ended up getting 2 for Accusation but only one for dig their graves, while Andy got three for Dig Their Graves. He did start a crooligan in the corner across from me and shot a necropunk towards the other one, making me think Inspectin was likely. So I pushed teddy with 2-3 day dreams, walked him once and then got his (0) off to drag me into contact with the crooligan and killed him turn 1. Andy later brought Hayreddin into that corner and Teddy killed him too (after he got a stake marker down t2). So in the end he got no points for that. But the real key was stake a claim. Although Seamus is great at hunting silurids he can only kill one a turn so I got up early on Stake a Claim and scored turns 2-4. He did get it turn 5 as by that point all I had left was Dreamer, Teddy and a daydream (and an insidious I stupidly summoned as I thought it was turn 4 not 5). In the end it was a 6-4 win for me. Two big things swung this game in my favour. 1) Andy black jokered a focussed shot on my silurid which prob cost him another turn of me scoring Stake. 2) Andy was in position to stake a claim with a performer which would’ve destroyed one of mine and put him ahead (prob ending in a 5-5 draw) but seemingly forgot about Don’t Mind Me as he was engaged by Chompy but could’ve still put it down. We were done first (a trend for me this weekend) and up 2-0 early (each game won was worth two points). Sadly we lost the other four rounds so our team went down 8-2. Damn. Oh well, they were definitely the better team and everyone seemed to have a good time so I was happy.
This was the board state as the end of the game... the only picture I took this game

Round 2

After lunch we were drawn against Team Lollipop, the Finnish team. It seemed like a lot of their players were quite competitive players, I know that Arran’s opponent was saying he had been to 8 events this year already so was expecting another loss here. I ended up facing Ludwig, a Swede masquerading as one of the finns, using Guild McCabe and I put Collodi in. TBH going into the weekend I was pretty convinced I would end up running Dreamer or Dora once and then just stick with Collodi and that’s exactly what I did. Collodi is just so good in the current Gaining Grounds and Meta that I find it hard to run anyone else outside of very specific pools.

Not the most interesting crew build, but it sure does work
This game was a nailbiter. Definitely my closest game of the weekend and also my favourite. Such an amazingly fun game and a great opponent. I was in a good position early, but failure to kill a dog (terrible hand) and losing my stitched put me on the back foot a bit. We both took completely different schemes and both scored all of them. Show of Force (was never gonna deny that without just killing all his models) and Mark for Death for him and Dig Their Graves and Frame for Murder for me. This game started a 3 game trend of me taking Frame for Murder on Doppelganger and scoring 3 for it each time. Managed to put her in a place where she could copy his Johana’s relic hammer but could only be attacked by Mccabe. Mccabe did kill her and I got the points. Their were really two big moments in a game where we both played quite well. First with the last activation of the turn I had a change to kill Francisco to deny a point for Show of Force but couldn’t quite kill him. Got him down to two wounds but two marionettes couldn’t do the last two hits (he had no stones left). So the last big swing was the initiative flip for turn 5. I had Collodi, a marionette, mannequin and the brutal effigy left. He has Francisco (on 3 wounds now), Luna and Mccabe. Whoever went first could kill off two models (colloid was almost dead) and dney the last turf war point. I had a stone left and he didn’t so I was at an advantage. I didn’t need it tho as I won on the first flip, colloid went fast, killed franc and luna and summoned a marionette. At this point my opponent conceded as there was no way he could win. So it was a 10-9 win for me. What…. A … Game. Honestly one of my most fun in ages. Also reminded me why I love colloid so much, he is just an amazing tool box. Do hate that glowing saber ignoring hard to kill tho. Wasn’t the first game done this time, but was 2nd and believe we were 2-2 at that point. In the end Arran and Philippa lost fairly big, but Brad, Francois and I all squeeked a win so we won the round! 6-4. I was ecstatic. We only needed to win one more round to guarantee we avoided the spoon (which was one of our two main goals for the weekend; the other being to beat the Faux Mads).

At the end of the game only McCabe survived for the Guild

Round 3:

Game Three we ended up up against the Squigs, again a team that plays a LOT more games than us. I though maybe for once I’d get to play Panzer but nope, Blu Tack (their captain) but him up against Philippa. And everyone blamed me for some reason… Brad got Hutch, I got Baby Squig, Arran got Ben Halford and Francois got Blutack. Not a great matchup for us I thought as Francois is such a strong player but Blu Tack is a former Master for a reason. Was pretty confident Arran and I would win our games but was unsure where we would be able to get the final win from. Baby Squig was running Nellie (ugghhhhh) but as it was stake a claim I was still confident.

The only time I ran Props build at the event. Didn't make a huge difference tbh tho the focus is nice.
I took Collodi with two silurids, bag of props, marionettes/effigies and a sorrow. Sorrow didn’t do much tbh but think it scored me a point for Tail Em. At my peak I had 9 stake a claim markers down (think he got about 5 down). I killed his condition removal (witchling stalker t1) with colloid tho was very worried about frame. Luckily it wasn’t on him. Then I lost doppelganger turn 2 to Phiona, getting me 3 for Frame again. Also got the strat and Tail Em that turn. Up 5-0 after Turn 2 I realised all I had to do was run away and score the start and I would win. So I made very few attacks after that and mostly ran Collodi away from a chasing Executioner.
This is me using the new Bendyboards movement bases to try and see if fast executioner could catch Collodi. He couldn't.

 I got another point for tail em but then ran away there as well so couldn’t get the final one. I accepted he would prob get Entourage (which he did) but that was it for him. 9-3 win for me. Pretty funny colloid game as he barely ever went fast and was mostly just walking or making my other models walk so they could drop stake a claim.
Turn 3... Collodi continues to run away

I really enjoyed the game and I hope my opponent did as well even though he could never get the fight he wanted. Turned out his other scheme was Frame on Executioner which I think was a poor choice because the crew doesn’t have a ton of killing power but I guess colloid would’ve had to have done it if I was going to kill him. Finished first again so was eager to see how we did but careful not to interfere with games so took my time packing up and went and grabbed a pint and chatted with some of the other players who were done. When I came back Philippa and Brad had lost… so was looking like we were gonna lose the round again. Then our biggest upset of the weekend happened: Blue Tack went down to Francois! I was so psyched! Apparently the cards were all with Francois but I was still so proud of my teammate. And then it was all down to Arran and Halford, but just looking at the dead model piles it was looking good for us. And it was! Arran won and all of a sudden we were 2-1!!

What a great first day. We had won as many rounds as I had hoped for over two days. The whole team was really chuffed. We were all in great spirits and decided to go find a place for curry before heading back to the venue for more drinks/games/chatting. Everyone but me left at a decent hour so they would rested for tomm. Not me though. I got some sweet guildball in and left around 1130 with Andreas, whose team was staying at the same hotel as us.

Round 4:

Day 2 Started a bit rough as I was definitely feeling the consequences of the previous day/night. Managed to have a little breakfast and coffee and, feeling like a zombie, dragged myself over to the venue (slowly). We had been looking at the standings and figured out round 4 was gonna be areally tough matchup. Black Jokers looked likely… and they were out matchup. Ouch. I am prob weaker than their 3 best players so this was gonna be a rough one. If we got a really bad matchup process we could definitely get swept. In the end poor Philippa had to follow her game against hyper aggro panzer with a game vs Maria’s Viks. Sorry! Francois faced Mark, Brad faced Josh, Arran Tim and me one of my good friends, and by far my most common tournament opponent, James Reeves. We have both been playing Guildball a lot more than Faux lately (inc the previous night) and were joking about playing it instead of faux this round. In the end it was Collodi vs Somer in Squatters Rights.

Poor Silurid did not last long

And he dropped my favourite model… the PIgapult. UGHHHHHH. Brutal. Hate that damn guy. My hatred grew after he redjokered my Silurid off the board turn 1. Sigh.
Was a rough scheme pool vs Somer as he could pigapult gremlins to deny leave your mark or convict. I decided I could prob dominate the center of the board so I took Search the Ruins. For my final scheme I was really struggling but decided on Frame on Doppel for third game in a row. I put her in a position where only the pigapult and Francois could reach her and had mimics blessing on. When she activated I would put up the negative to shotting to discourage the pigapult. It worked. Turn 2 I activated her, walked to the far right squatters marker and flipped it (in range for francois to reckless, walk out from behind cover and charge her. I let the attacks through, he killed her in two hits and I was up 3! I also managed to deny him any squatters markers than turn so was up 4-0 after turn 2. Good times. The rest of the game was basically him throwing gremlins around the board while collodi/stitched killed them (inc trixi and franc, love those stitched). I did manage to guess his (very obvious) frame target as he through a bayo gremlin right at collodi turn 1 or 2. Managed to kill it with a marionette to only give up 2. I also kept denying the strat and claim jump.
Man what a table... think this photo is from turn 4 or 5. Have pretty clear dominance over the centre of the board here.
He eventually brought Somer in but it was too late. Really should’ve brought him in turn 2 or 3 rather than 4. In the end I got all my points and he only got the 2 for frame and a turn 5 claim jump to end it 10-3 to me. Sadly much like round 1 we were done first but by the time the rest of the results came in we were beaten 8-2. Oh well, I was proud of the team for still having fun and we all knew that round was our least likely to win yet.

Round 5:

Round 5 was gonna be big. If we won (or Faux Mads lost) we would clinch best Dark Sphere team which we definitely wanted, AND a winning record. We could’ve gotten a brutal matchup but instead we actually played one of the teams I was most hoping to play, the Swedish Stuffed Piglets. I was so excited as I really like those guys and think they have a very similar attitude to our team. Much better painting though. So much talent in that area in the team. They ended up winning best painted. For the 3rd time in 5 games I ended up playing Stake a Claim as I really was our best bet for it (plus it’s one of my favourite starts to play). It came up twice in this pool though so Arran decided to take the other with Seamus, which was prob our second best option. Once our matchups were set it really looked like it could go either way as the players seemed to be very similar in skill level in all the matchups. Was especially interested to see how Francois did against Eleanore as she is a hell of a player. I was originally going to play the first stake a claim game but when my opponent declared Reva I threw Arran under the bus (sorry!) and made him play that one. I hate facing Reva with Collodi and really didn’t think I would do well in that matchup. 

The Two Stitched were the only big damage dealers in either of our crews...
Instead I ended up in a Neverborn-off with Martin. He was running Zoraida, who is excellent at the strat. Was quite worried about facing a Iggy/Wisp combo and mctavish as the board control that gives is crazy. Went with two stitched, two silurids and fated build on Collodi as new I needed to do more killing than I did vs Nellie as I couldn’t rely on outdoing my opponent on the strat. Then Martin announced his crew and I burst out laughing. Zoraida (animal Shape), Doppelganger, 3 Silurids, 4 Gupps. Wow… Talk about doubling down on strat. With tons of scheme running in pool though I was quite intimidated. Was going to have to rely a lot on Collodi to pick off his scheme runners. I was thinking he would get up early but fi I could deny schemes and turn the strat around for turn 4/5 I could still take it. This game did not go well for Martin. His lack of any killing power (outside copying/obeying my stitched) was a major hindrance in this game as it gave me the ability to spend several activations pushing collodi all over the place with his df trigger without fear of overextending him. Turn 1 I charged one of his silurids with one of mine (didn’t quite kill it) and collodi killed off a silurid on his far wing. Turn 2 Collodi killed two Gupps models and my silurids managed to get stake markers down. Won stake a claim 3-2 turn 2 (thanks to a marionette) and at that point it really started to roll my way as he has lost his whole right wing so I had that area locked down. He did get one of my silurids poisoned and down to 1 wound. But managed to leap him back towards the center, get a stake marker down and double walk an arcane effigy to within condition removal range where collodi my willed it to save the silurid, who then went on to get another stake marker down and score me my breakthrough (alongside the other silurid. Highlight of the game was me having no cards in hand, him having 1-2 and obeying a stitched to gamble against Zoraida, which put the stitched on neg flips. Sadly he flipped double severe to attack and couldn’t dodge it. Then severed the damage flip. Zoraida took 7 damage (5 after stoning) from her own attack. Ouch. 
I had to take a photo to commemorate the moment...
She managed to kill the stitched tho and at that point I could only really target Zoraida with collodi so she managed to live (stupid wp 10). Next turn my 2nd (final) stitched was copied by my doppel, who killed his final silurid before killing herself (oops). Then I managed to kill Zoraida with the stitched (as she had Animal Shaped near me). In the end he had doppel hiding in my deployment zone with one breakthrough marker and I had dominance of the board (having only lost my two stitched and doppel). 

Board state at end of game... can't quite see the doppel hiding about 6" away from collodi in my corner

A big 10-1 win for me, but a really great game despite the lopsided score. Also we finished super early and had an hour left in the round to pack up, chat, grab a drink etc. When the dust had settled after the other games Arran had drawn reva (yes!) and we had won the other 3 games by 1 vp each!!! Talk about a tight matchup! Philippa was really happy to win her final game and we were all happy that all of us had won at least one game in the event.

In Conclusion:

We all had an awesome time. And as a team we are already discussing a return again for next year. My interest in Malifaux has really been reignited as well. And being able to dodge strategies I hate playing with my fav masters made the event extra fun... We ended up coming 8th or the 18 teams which was far better than any of us hoped for so that was fantastic. I felt we really played as well as we could have and everyone had a lot of fun, which was all we could've hoped for. 

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