Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Preparing for the Trenches or Malifaux Tourney Primer


So the time has come. At the end of March I will be attending my first Malifaux tournament. Taking an entire month to plan may seem like overkill but I am a perfectionist when it comes to games and I like to know I'll be playing to the best of my abilities.  So come along with me as I prep for my initial foray into competitive Malifaux.

Seems like a no brainer, but it is important to make sure your schedule will be clear for the day you plan to go play. Game tournaments take all day, no matter how much I try and downplay it to my wife. I need to make sure that day is a good day for me to go. The tournament is also a 2.5 hour drive from my hometown, which is also a factor to take in. This time around, I'll already by at my In Laws which are only 30 minutes away, so fate is on my side. Otherwise, its always good to try and find some other players and see who can carpool to the event. Save gas, you can chat about the tournament or other things on the way, etc. My first step to preparing for the tournament is to make sure I actually have the day free to commit to it. (IE: asking the wife's permission to go play with toys all day).
Caveat to this is; Make sure you know where the tournament is going to be held as well. GPS the location and have a realistic idea of how long it will take you to drive there and when you need to leave, etc. Once again, seems like common sense but I used to have a friend who was continually late to every Magic tournament we went to because he assumed time frames instead of looking them up.

The next step is to figure out the ground rules for the tournament. I know from looking at the Facebook event and the Wyrd Forums that it will be a 50SS Fixed Faction 3 Round Gaining Grounds
2015 Tournament. So I immediately go to the Wyrd Forums and download the Gaining Grounds rules and peruse them. What does all this information mean?
Well 50SS Fixed Faction means that I can bring everyone in my faction, including anything that Zoraida can bring through her Enthrall ability and any mercenaries I want. 3 Rounds lets me know approximately how long the tournament will take. I also find out the entry fee. (Note to self: Put 10 bucks aside in the gaming budget)
Gaining Grounds is the official set of tournament rules for Malifaux and offers brand new Strategies that aren't in the main books.
I also see that Proxies are allowed by the TO's discretion. Sweet, maybe my Deneghra/Widow Weaver will pass.

Who is Coming to the Party?
So I'm committed to my Neverborn this year which means picking a Faction isn't an issue. There are some of you where this will be a much tougher decision, and I'm sure as I branch out into other factions it will become that way for me too. My best advice is, go with what you feel you are the strongest with. If you are just learning Guild, maybe not the best choice for a tournament. However, if you are just going for fun and not necessarily to bring home the big bucks, then go for it. For now though I'm firmly on Team Neverborn!
Of course the Lynchpin (see what I did there?) for any crew is your Leader and should be the first consideration when deciding which models to invite for the road trip. I need at least 3, as there are 3 rounds though, I'm not by the rules required to play them all. In fact, a player recently won a Templecon Tournament playing only Marcus.
I have 4 Neverborn Leaders: Pandora, Zoriada, Lynch and Lucius. I have yet to play Lucius so for now, he is benched. This might change in the next month, but probably not as he is a complicated Leader and I don't have a lot of time to learn him. That leaves me with a trio of pretty well rounded Leaders. I have Lynch for removing models, Zoraida for board control and Pandora for zone dominance.
So looking at my pile of models, I have these options:
Bad Juju
Baby Kade
Nurse (available because of Zoraida)
Rami (ditto)
Pere Ravage (Ditto)
Rapheal (Ditto)
Widow Weaver (pending approval)
3 Silurid
3 The Illuminated

3 The Depleted
2 Beckoner
Mr. Graves
Mr. Tannen
3 Waldgiest
3 Sorrows
Hungering Darkness

Mixed into this list, I have a few heavy hitters (Killjoy, Baby Kade, Graves, Teddy, The Illuminated, Bad Juju), with a few tar pits, (The Depleted, Waldgiest, Bad Juju), Several Control/Support Models (Candy, Beckoner, Nurse, Widow Weaver, Tannen) and thanks to Zoraida a few ranged options that Neverborn tends to not have often. I seem to be have the least options with Scheme runners, so before the tournament I might pick up the Mother of Monsters box to give me access to Terror Tots and since none of Lucius' starter crew is dual faction, they useless unless I decide to run him.
So for a starter to the Neverborn faction I have a pretty wide selection of models. Of course, figuring out when and where to use them is the tricky part.

Scoping Out the Battlefield

Before playing in a Gaining Grounds tournament I feel like its important to have a good grasp on the new Strategies that are available. There are 5 new Strategies that aren't in the core rulebook, Headhunter, Collect the Bounty, Guard the Stash, Interference, and Extraction. Some of them are similar to the base game strategies but others, like Collect the Bounty are very different. I plan on playing each of them at least once in the next month to make sure I have a feel for them.
As it is, Headhunter and Collect the Bounty feel like strong contenders for Lynch. Guard the Stash and Extraction seem good Pandora choices, and Interference seems strong for Zoriada. Ok, truthfully I feel like Zoraida could do well at them all with different crew set ups but I'd like to play someone besides the Hag.
Regardless, learning all you can about the objectives for the tournament you are about to go into is a good plan. Your TO might also let you know ahead of time which Strategies will be used during each round, leaving just the scheme pool a mystery.

Play More Games
 My favorite way to prep for a tournament is to just play some more games. Toss around some ideas for crews and see if they work well before you take an idea into a tournament. If you want to do well, perhaps an untested crew combination is not the best option. Get the group together and throw down. 

Don't Stress It

This is my first Malifaux tournament. I've played approximately 60 games so far and only half of those with my chosen faction. I don't expect to take home the big prize and though I will fight hard to repel all the human invaders from the streets of Malifaux. At the end of the day, I will ask myself these questions.
Did I have fun? Did I play to the best of my ability? Did I meet some new awesome people to play my favorite game with?
If the answer to all of these is "Yes," then the mission is accomplished.

Until next time, Keep Cheating Fate-- John Fox


  1. I really liked this one. It was thoughtful, hit all the bases, and included the best piece of advice in "Don't Stress It". Things will happen, good, bad, and unexpected so its good not to stress over stuff. I love small local tourneys because they let you meet new people, learn new things, and can help you get ready for bigger tourneys like Adepticon or Nova. This was a good read for anyone new to tournaments, well done!

  2. You're definitely approaching this the right way, nice writeup!

    Myself and some friends attended our first Malifaux tournament last month after playing for a few months. We spent the previous weeks playtesting the gaining grounds strategies and got pretty familiar with how they worked. At the day of, I just went with my first thought for master/crew and ended up going 2-1, though a bit short on points with only 19 or so. Play lots, don't stress and have fun.

    Quick Headhunter side note, Doppelganger is amazing in this strategy. She can interact while engaged so excels at scooping up heads in a swirling melee.