Friday, 26 October 2012

Return to Malifaux : Starting Zoraida crew

My ongoing enjoyment of Malifaux has gone up a notch the last couple of weeks.  My local gaming shop has kicked off a slow grow hobby league and I was keen to take part.  Stealing a bunch of ideas from the Warmachine slow grow league, Rob the shop owner, Matthew the local Wyrd henchman and I (the local OCD organiser and planner) came up with a hobby focused set of league rules.

The key driver behind the league is getting people to play lots of games of Malifaux, ideally with painted figures.  The format allows for an unlimited number of games to be played, by only 12 scores will count.  There's lots of fun achievements to earn points for which again focus on trying new things out rather than playing all out to win.  Avatars are encouraged, with bonus points for painting them and managing to manifest them.

Relegated to the shelf for the time being, they'll be back!
So with all these incentives floating about, I looked at my Kirai crew and decided to put her on hold for now.  I'm waiting for the new Storm of Shadows Ressers to be released to expand my undead, there's only one or two other figures I really want for Kirai.  This means from a hobby point of view there wasn't a lot to inspire me.  So it was time to pick another crew.

Zoraida the Hag, WIP, mostly just base and voodoo dolls to complete
I've picked up a Spawn Mother figure as I think the idea of a giant murloc is funny and I really like the miniature.  I also like the Silurid figures, so I guess a crew of fishmen was the next logical step.  Reading around on the Wyrd forums and PullmyFinger wiki it seemed that I could either go Marcus (and focus on beasts) or Zoraida the Hag.  My friend Carl was toying with Marcus, so that left me with the Swamp Witch.  As it turns out, I am the only Neverborn player representing so I am pleased I chose this crew.

Larry, Moe and Curly - the Silurids
As the league progresses I will able to change master, but I am not sure I will go that way, there's so many choices the Hag opens up that I am keen to stick with her and also try out the Avatar version.

My little voodoo doll
 The first two weeks of play are based on the starter boxes, with a 20 soul stone limit.  Some aren't great selections so we've allowed some changes, but for Zoraida its not a bad start at all.  I've used Bad Juju and 2 Silurids consistently - with the boxset coming with 25 SS of men, it was the only sensible choice really.  Zoraida can summon a voodoo doll totem for free during the game so that helps a bit.

Bad Juju WIP, with a bit of green stuff work to make him look a bit swampy thingy...

I've squeezed in a lot of games these two weeks while the crews are small to get a feel for my crew and give me some leeway if I can't make any of the later weeks.

Game 1 verses Arcanists (Marcus and Carl)

Carl's WIP crew - big and beastie!
This first game was my second ever with Zoraida and Carl's first with Marcus.  There was quite a lot of head scratching as we figured out what on earth we were doing.  The story behind the game seemed to be that Marcus had been encroaching onto the Bayou and Zoraida was going to claim it back.  Marcus had left all sorts of valuable things in the areas, some of which I wanted and others he needed to destroy.

The early game was dominated by bouncing silurids tagging every piece of terrain on the board and a devastatingly effective attack from Bad Juju dealing with Carl's Razorspiner Rattler.  I got over confident and left Zoraida somewhat in the open.  After Myranda turned into a huge bear, I obeyed her into charging Marcus thinking I had the game sewn up.  Turns out Marcus is more wily than that - deftly dodging the bear he covered a huge distance and took a lump out of the Hag.  This was followed up by a Waldgiest uprooting what seemed like half the table and attacking Zoraida with an entire forest.  Down to 3 wounds the Hag looked even worse than normal.

Fortunately I got the initiative on a pivotal turn and managed to repulse everything with the Hag, turn into a Raven and get out of dodge.  By now Myranda was dying from poison thanks to the voodoo doll and an obeyed Waldgiest charging her giant bear form.  The Silurids had finished their tour of the entire table and Bad Juju finally caught up with the Waldgeist.

End of the game result was a victory for me, but Marcus is a much more powerful master than I think most people think, now Carl knows he's going to be a lot more aggressive and the mistakes I made won't fly next time.

Game 2 verses Resurrectionists (Nicodeem and Matthew)

Dem Bones - Nicodeem pimped out
Matthew is the local henchman and crazed Nicodeem collector - he's got all 3 versions of him, 2 Mortimers and a whole mardi-gras of punk zombies.  For the hobby league Matthew started painting a new version of this crew with a Southern/Voodoo theme, so Nicodeem is Baron Samedi, Mortimer is Uncle Reemus (zip-a-dee-do-dah) and the punks are all kinds of day glow.

This game really worried me as Matthew could summon a lot of punk zombies if the cards were nice to him and I was unlucky enough to get Slaughter as the strategy.  On the plus side there was a fair amount of water on the table so my Silurids would be a bit more free to move than normal.  Matthew had destroy evidence, so yet again it looked like Zoraida's territory was being invaded and she was having none of it.

Fortunately between voodoo doll poison and the punk zombie ability 'self mutilate' the undead were falling over themselves time and again, so I was racking up a fair number of kills.  Towards the end of the game Matthew picked up the pace, paralysing Zoraida for a turn (even with will power 10!) and killing bad Juju.  Finding a nice safe high spot as a Raven, the Hag held on for the last couple of turns, about facing the nearest punks with obey spells and mugging poor Mortimer with both Silurids (zip-a-dee-do-ARGH).

End result was a solid victory for the Hag, but if the game had gone on much longer attrition would have seen off the Silurids and Matthew would have gained the last piece of evidence he needed to destroy.  A very different crew will be needed if I get slaughter again, maybe I should reflip the strategy if I get it, even at the cost of a soul stone to do so.

Game 3 verses Guild (Perdita and Andy)

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Andy has a number of Guild crews and is using the Ortegas for this league.  Again the Hag's territory was being disputed, this time I needed to claim the centre of the table.  Knowing how tough Perdita was I had to tread carefully here as I could lose any of my models in a single turn if I got into her sights.

Andy was unfortunate not to bring Francisco with him meaning he had to take Papa Loco.  Papa Loco has one of the lowest willpowers in the game which made the voodoo doll and my obey spell all too easy to use and he blew himself up almost immediately.   Already on the back foot, Andy struggled to get my men into his sights, using cover and movement tricks to their fullest I was able to avoid almost all of the pain he was threatening.  Poor Nino was eaten by fishmen, Santiago ran around confused by obey spells and Perdita was trying to get a bead on Zoraida.  Bad Juju appeared on Andy's board edge, claiming a scheme for me.  In the dying moments, the fishmen and Zoraid as a raven all flew right up to Perdita to contest the claim.

Andy had a tough game here and I really started appreciating just how good Silurids can be in this game.  I did however get a tough lesson in crews with high willpowers - once Papa Loco was dead it was close to impossible to tell any of the other Ortegas what to do.  I need to think about including minions of my own worth obeying, especially with the voodoo doll.  Hmm, what to take?

Game 4 verses Outcasts (Henchman Ophelia and Si)

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Right on the heels of seeing off the Ortegas, the gremlin versions of the family turned up in my Bayou.  This was a smack down challenge Si and I were looking forward too.  Much like Papa Loco, Pere Ravage was an obvious voodoo doll target for me, so I was interested to see how this would go.

Si wrote the battle up already so here's the brilliantly composed report from Ophelia's perspective...

Ophelia LaCroix put her back up against the tree and stared about at the swirling mists of the swamp. This one, she'd admit, had not gone to plan. The swamp witch had been sending her scaly critters further into LaCroix territory and Ophelia had figgered this place was as good as any to send the message that she wasn't going to stand for it. The humans had tried to put up one of their stone buildings here and would you lookit, the thing had fallen down. What kind of idiot put a stone building in a swamp anyways? So this was where Ophelia decided to tell the old human woman where the line was. It was, whatsit, a cymbal.

Well, old Pere went racing off as soon as he caught sight of the witch and it sounded like he blew hisself up even faster'n usual. Ophelia had been pushing the boys forward to cover as much ground as possible when the fishy bastits appeared out of nowhere and that was enough to set everyone to shootin'. So much for the plan.

The swamp man about did it.

She'd been figgering once the fish-things keeled over - they got awful confused when you got 'em alone and just up and died half the time - she figgered then they'd be doing alright, but everyone hightails it when the swamp man shows up. She'd pumped a lot of lead at the thing from a ways off but once it came in close she knew she'd be hard pushed to do anything but run like a greased pig. That was when Rami blew the damn thing's head clean off, best shot she ever saw, 'course he went down pukin' after that but could have been the diet, there was some bad hog lately. 

Francois never had the sense to run so the fishman got riled up and beat him bloody, and Ophelia had had to shoot it to teach it a lesson. Then Raphael started runnin' at her with his gun up like he thought it was his time. Well, Ophelia wa'n't going to let Raphael run the family so when he stumbled to a stop a few yards off she just hollered at him to pack up his things and cool off, and off he stomped. Raphael could clear his head pretty well if he had some time to get his strength up, so she wasn't too worried 'bout that.

'Nother of those fish-beasts had come flyin' out of nowhere just now but he looked pretty damned sick and Ophelia reckoned he didn't have long to go. Ophelia was holding close to the tree for the time being and that was when the raven came cawin' down and settled on the one across the ways, and turned into the old crone. Who ever knew what humans were gonna do next?

Ophelia straightened her shoulders and pulled her hat down low. "This still ain't yer swamp, lady!" she yelled, "'cause this here is my damned tree!"

The mist closed in.

Si had only 2 gremlins left by the end and with the Reconnoitre strategy this just wasn't going to work.  We both picked stake a claim and eye for an eye which lead to some amusing calculations and bluffing as the game came to a close.  Although I only had the Hag left at the end of the game, it had very much gone my way.

In conclusion

The starter crew has been working far better for me than I had expected.  I am now looking forward to playing around with what's in my team, but Bad Juju feels like my lucky mascot at the moment.  Its up to 25 soul stones next couple of weeks and I can drop figures from the starter box.  I am tempted to just add another 5 point model for now and perhaps consider a bigger change at 30 stones - I need to get the Spawn Mother painted then I can consider an all fishman crew!

The invaded territory plot seems to be the theme of the league for me, being the only Neverborn player I am happy for the story to continue this way for now.  Perhaps I'll make her hut later for thematic effect!

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