Did you know that your opponents are allowed to play factions besides Gremlins? I had almost forgotten!
Today’s game is against David, the Henchman for the Twin Cities. He’s built a fantastic Malifaux community here in the Twin Cities. A community that looks like it’s growing even more, as we have a couple of spectators who are learning the game.
David offers me the choice of facing Outcasts or Resurrectionists. I honestly have no preference. Regardless of which faction he picks, all of David’s models look one thousand times better than my own.
Outcasts vs. Outcasts it is!
For Terrain, we have a couple buildings, a pair of ruined towers, some scattered rocks, and a couple forests. We flip, and the result is corner deployment.
Today’s strategy and scheme pool comes from 2016 Gaining Grounds. These differ from the normal strategy and scheme pool, usually in pretty significant ways. The primary difference for every scheme is that they are all secret until they’ve been scored, or until the type of condition they score off of is assigned for the first time. They’ve also been slightly tweaked from the core rulebook—generally, making them harder to score, or giving you an advantage of some sort towards scoring them again. It’s an objective set which lends itself to far more “competitive” play, and almost all tournaments will use this set.
Extraction (Turf War, with a moving 30mm marker based on who has more pieces near it)
Convict Labor (Replacing Line in the Sand to always be available in this set)
Show of Force
Detonate the Charges
Declaring Outcasts for this pool, I am immediately drawn to Detonate the Charges, and Parker Barrows. Between himself and Mad Dog, he can basically trigger this at any time. Looks like the core Parker crew is coming along—though my “test” list won’t fly. The list I’ve been testing only runs 2 minions. However, Hunting Party makes having only 2 minions too risky, because if he drops the two 6 wound bandidos, then suddenly he’s getting free points the rest of the way. So I sub out Big Jake and Pride for a Ronin and a Freikorps Trapper.
50 soulstone Outcasts Crew:
Parker Barrows + 6 SS Cache
-Hail of Bullets
Mad Dog Brackett
-Crate of Dynamite
David hems and haws over his list, insisting over and over that ‘he has no idea what he’s doing.’ I didn’t believe it at the time, and I believe it even less now, having completed the game. He reveals a crew lead by the Spirit of the Hanging Tree, Jack Daw.
50 soulstone Outcasts Crew
Jack Daw + 4 SS cache
-3 facedown curses
-Twist and Turn
-Brick by Brick
Before this game, I had never played against Jack Daw. This list is basically his box, only with The Hanged and a Convict Gunslinger added. This is also David’s first go-round with Jack Daw (I still don’t believe he didn’t know exactly what he was doing).
I immediately regret my crew decision. Almost all of David’s models are incorporeal, or halve damage from Sh attacks in some other way. His minions aren’t super high in wounds, but hindsight is still twenty-twenty. Lots of shooting isn’t going to do anything against Jack Daw and his Tormented.
This makes my scheme selection easy: I go with Breakthrough—one which Parker can usually pull off by himself. For the second, I select Detonate Charges. Between Parker and Mad Dog’s late activations and scheme marker manipulation, they will be able to get the scheme markers down and blown up.
We flip for first deployment. I win, and allow him to choose first. He deploys behind the taller of the two ruins in the corner, leaving me to the other. Unfortunately, this also takes that nice, tall platform on top out of play for my Trapper, which was a big reason for me taking him. Put this decision under “Mistake #1.”
David torments the Convict Gunslinger, and phases several of his units through the building ruins in front of him. The Guilty move down the flanks, while Montresor takes up camp in the forest near his deployment zone. Mad Dog, the Ronin, and one Bandido take shelter behind the intact house nearest my corner. Sue and another Bandido shelter in the forest on my side. Doc Mitchell dashes over to the Freikorps Trapper, who had been deployed outside of my deployment zone. The Trapper focuses on one of The Guilty, hits him, and then . . . Black Joker. It’s going to be a long day, folks.
Enter Mistake #2 and #3: Parker Barrows’ ability to dash across the map tempts me into moving him to shelter near the middle of the map and toss up a Hail of Bullets between him Jack Daw, Lady Ligeia, and the Hanged. Both actions are incredibly stupid: all three of his units on the other side of the Bullet tokens can ignore the hazardous terrain from the bullet markers, and the Hanged hasn’t activated yet. For my troubles, I experience the Hanged’s most terrible attack, Whispers from Beyond. Gone are half of Parker’s wounds, and he can’t be healed for the rest of the game.
Parker goes first, sticking up Ligeia to stop her from moving (pointless). Then he attacks The Hanged, and . . . Black Joker. My Master is completely off his game. Jack Daw sucks in all of his Tormented to him, and I begin to learn a lesson about Montresor and Ligeia—namely, stay away; far away. What enters this tarpit will not leave.
Doc moves up so that Parker can’t see him, pulls out his hidden deringer, and fires it at the Convict Gunslinger to finish him off. Convict Gunslinger pulls an Ace! Doc Mitchell flips an . . . Ace. A miss.
Seeing an opportunity to score a full-point Detonate the Charges by taking advantage of that horrible tarpit, I focus on the two Guilty who have moved up near the right flank of my crew, hidden near the house. After some pings from the Bandido and the Ronin, Mad Dog steps up, shotguns a Guilty to death, and places the Scheme Marker I’ll need to score a full Detonate Charges!
Both sides score Extraction, but Parker Barrows’ crew Detonates the Charges with 5 enemies within range. 4-1 Outcasts.
I continue my run of Black Jokers, and flip another on initiative. Sue and Parker Barrows continue being super ineffective in the Montresor tarpit. Ligeia prevents me from cheating anything to get the boys up and running. Sue is able to kill off The Hanged, and then starts talking about how Love is a Burning Thing. Parker, terrified of Montresor, goes paralyzed on his first ability point. Montresor is lit on fire after casting some spells that basically ruin Parker’s life, and then Jack Daw kills Sue to finish off his song.
Montresor attacks Parker so he uses a defensive soulstone for a negative flip. A tie is drawn and, well, this happens:
Let nobody tell you a defensive soul stone isn’t worth it! Parker is saved.
Mad Dog blasts away a second Guilty, and drops a scheme marker. This time, however, it’s not Detonate the Charges—it’s a Box of Dynamite! It goes boom and takes out Parker, despite a soul stone to reduce damage. Jack Daw takes a hit as well, but Montresor and Ligeia are fine. The trapper gets real suspicious of this Guilty guy floating around and makes a break for it. Hopefully, he can place the Breakthrough markers in the next couple rounds.
At the end of the round, I am in a position to score precisely zero points. After killing Doc Mitchell, David scores Hunting Party, and also Extraction as his models are the only ones anywhere near the middle. 4-3 to the Barrows Boys.
I win initiative! My first action is a shot by the Freikorps trapper on Jack Daw and . . . Black Joker. The Freikorpsman throws down his gun, swearing never to touch the damn thing again. It might as well have been a feather for all the good it did me this game.
Montresor charges forward and sucks the two Bandidos up to him. He is looking to tarpit the ladies one last time, and brings Jack Daw with him, as well.
Jack Daw dashes over to the Trapper, Red Jokering him immediately and ending the Freikorpsman’s troubles (and dreams of Breaking Through) forever. Then, things start to go right, finally, at just the right time.
Mad Dog moves forward and blasts Jack Daw with his shotgun, blowing him away from the Extraction zone. Next, the Bandidos activate, pitching my entire hand in order to attack Montresor, and bring the tarpit down!
David scores a third Hunting Party in a row, but looks at the table and realizes he has made a mistake: Convict Labor, unlike its counterpart Line in the Sand, can be scored every turn after the first. I had dropped two scheme markers for him—all he needed to do was drop a third. He flips Convict Labor and swears at himself, but is unable to score it this this round. With Jack Daw driven out of the middle of the board and Montresor killed, I score Extraction again. 5-4 Parker Barrows.
The money round. I move my Bandidos using their move shoot move action, firing shots at Jack Daw, but more importantly threatening to take away David’s Convict Labor tokens near the middle of the board. He guns both Bandidos down. Looks like Hunting Party will score again. Mad Dog blasts Lady Ligeia away from the middle (Who cares? She’s insignificant) then dashes forward to make sure Extraction is scored.
The Guilty member who has survived this far places the scheme marker needed for Convict Labor as the Ronin and Mad Dog claim the Extraction zone.
Those doing the math at home know that makes the score 6-6. It’s another Tie between me and David.
Parker Barrows 6 – Jack Daw 6.
The string of Black Jokers I ran through barely mattered. Mostly, it just meant the Trapper did exactly nothing. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.
Last Thing, don’t believe for a minute that David didn’t know exactly what he was doing, or at the least didn’t know enough about Jack Daw and his crew to pull off exactly what he was attempting to do. That Montresor/Ligeia tarpit was way too amazing. It’s like he had the internet to teach him a thing or two about his models, or something.
I still feel really, really good about Parker Barrows. I played absolutely terribly, and had a black joker on critical flips in basically every round. Despite all of the mistakes I made, and Fate certainly trying to stop me from winning I still held on, tooth and nail, to claim a draw. Can’t ask for anything more than that from a Crew.
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About The Author
A reformed Warhammer Fantasy player based in the Twin Cities, Alex plays Malifaux, Guild Ball, X-Wing, and Armada. He also is the host of the Malifaux Tactics podcast here at Midwest Wargaming: Lecture Notes from the Breach