Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Losing your way to Victory - So'mer Teeth Jones


So over the Australia Day weekend I flew to Canberra for Cancon – a three day gaming convention during which two 1-day Malifaux tournaments were run. It’s a long way to travel for a few games of Malifaux (its about a 4.5 hour flight from Perth), but this was my chance for a quick holiday from my Dad-associated responsibilities and in any case, it lets me catch up with some of the guys I’ve come to know in the Eastern States!

 So anyway, the two tournaments were three games each, single faction, with the first being Henchman-led only. I have a tendency at tournamnets these days to take Masters I’ve never or rarely played before, and Cancon was certainly no exception to this! In any case this was a good chance to slam through four Masters in one weekend for the Rainbow Challenge. ;)

Anyway, for Day 1 I decided to take Gremlins, which gave me a chance to tick So’mer and Ophelia off my list. And with my first Master-led game being Reconnoiter, it was only natural that I take So‘mer.




The Paint Job

So’mer is actually one of the more recent crews I’ve painted, having finished them for a tournament late last year. My paint job for these models was actually pretty ordinary this time, Greeny-yellow skin (to suit their cowardly ways), black, purple and brown for the clothes with dash of pink (or course!) to bring them together.

The most recent addition to the crew was Merris LaCroix, one of the new Wave 2 models. Merris finally gave me a reason to use the spare set of Kaeris wings I had lying around (I gave my Kaeris a backpack instead), as well as a headless gremlin who’d been sacrificed to provide a hat for Zoraida waaay back when I started Malifaux. Add to that Carver’s spare head and a pile of grenades from the Warhammer 40k Kroot box and I had myself a fine looking wannabe-Kaeris gremlin!


Merris. Who would have thought that headless gremlin would actually come in handy?

The Advice

Having already taken them to a tournament last year, I had a pretty good idea of how So’mer worked. Some Gremlin - related sources of info I've checked out in the past, however, are the Black Swamp Bayou blog (by Kris Ingram), the Chasing Bacon podcast and the Bayou Broadcast. 

Kris hasn't yet talked about So'mer in any detail but what she has written about Ophelia is very good, so I expect he'll have some good input on So'mer when he works around to it. Hence why I'm including him here. 

Chasing Bacon is more or less a dedicated Gremlin podcast and Bayou Broadcast, while not necessarilly Gremlin focussed, does tend to feature gremlins pretty often in their content. It's also hosted by Dom (@Dumb_Luck89 on twitter), who was the first to give me some solid advice over Twitter on how to build a decent So'mer crew. 

http://blackswampbayou.blogspot.com.au/
http://chasingbacon.podbean.com/
http://bayoubroadcast.podbean.com/

As usual, if I've missed any good sources of So'mer related info then let me know!


The Game                         

50SS, Standard Deployment
Strategy: Reconnoiter
Schemes:
- Outflank
- Bodyguard
- Breakthrough
- Deliver a Message
- Line in the Sand


The List

So’mer Teeth Jones
- Family Tree
- Can of Beans
2x Skeeters
Francois LaCroix
- Dirty Cheater
- Stilts
Raphael
- Dirty Cheater
Merris LaCroix
- Team Work
Slop Hauler
4x Bayou Gremlins

The most glaring omission in my list is probably Lenny. A lot of gremlin players seem to swear by him, but in the few games I’ve taken him I’ve never been all that impressed. His Auras look pretty good but they also force you to bunch a large chunk of your crew close together. That sort of bunched up playstyle has never appealed to me and in any case, I don’t think it’s a good way to go when the Strategy is Reconnoiter. Personally, I prefer the impressive killing power offered by Francois and Raphael. The LaCroix brothers have always been star players in my crews, and they provide the offensive power that So’mer’s crew is otherwise lacking.

The Skeeter’s job was and has always been to hold up my opponent’s key pieces for a turn or two. They may have only 3 wounds but with Df 7 they’re very hard to hit and Wk 10 gets them exactly where you want them. Merris (or at least the 01/14/2014 version I used) was there to run up the flank and achieve breakthrough. The Teamwork upgrade I think is a hidden gem – by the wording she can use it to push herself out of combat, making her very slippery and thus perfectly suited to keeping out of reach of the enemy.

Other than that, Family Tree on So’mer and the Slop Hauler provided me with my summoning machine to maintain the Gremlin population, while the Bayou Gremlins were there to make up the numbers.

My chosen schemes were Line in the Sand and Breakthrough. Both solid choices when you're taking a horde of cheap fodder.  


Opponent’s List

My opponent for this game was Ross, who had brought his Perdita crew;

Perdita
- Os Veo
- Aura Ancestral
Fransisco
- Wade in
- Lead Lined Coat
Nino
- Hair Trigger
Papa Loco
Enslaved Nephilim
2x Guild Guard

Ross went for Bodyguard on Fransisco and Breakthrough.


I saw this ice table an awful lot over the two tournaments.  

Result

Merris, Fransisco and a Bayou Gremlin deployed on the flank opposite Perdita, the Guild Guard and Fransisco, while the rest of our respective crews deployed on the opposite flank. The early turns saw the Skeeters tie up (and die to) Perdita and Nino, while Nino and my Gremlins led by So’mer and Raphael traded shots with Nino. Francois took advantage of reckless to charge and kill a Guild Guard, engaging Perdita in the process. He held that flank up for another turn (Dirty Cheater and Stilts proved invaulble) before Fransisco eventually killed him with a Flurry. Merris took this chance to slip past the fighting and spent the rest of the game planting scheme markers in Ross’s deployment zone. Thanks to the distraction provided by Francois, the Skeeter and a few Bayou Gremlins, Perdita and Fransisco only had time to plant one scheme marker for Breakthrough before the game ended.

On the other flank, Nino eventually fell to the sustained shooting from Raphael, So’mer and a few Slop Haulers, giving me enough time (and gremlins) to put down enough scheme markers for Line in the Sand. Papa Loco and Santiago both tried stopping this, but between So’mer and Raphael they were both killed before they had a chance to kill enough gremlins. The game ended with a comfortable win for me, having achieved both my schemes and scored full points for Reconnoiter and both schemes while Ross managed only one for Reconnoiter, 2 for Bodyguard (Fransico ended the game under half wounds) and one more for breakthrough (or two? I can’t remember).


Post-game Thoughts

Once again, the gremlin horde pulls through! At the start of this game I was pretty concerned about the amount of firepower Ross’s crew could put out. Perdita’s mobility and reach looked to be a major threat, so a large part of my efforts in this game involved holding her up so she couldn’t bring her guns to bear on something I didn’t want him shooting. In the end she and Fransisco waded through a Skeeter, Francois, 2 bayou gremlins and a hastily redirected Slop Hauler, but the pile of dead gremlins at Perdita’s feet proved to be a worthwhile price for denying her the freedom to do what she wanted.

In this game So’mer proved himself to be superbly versatile. He spent half of the game summoning gremlins, half of it shooting Ortegas with his Boomer and the last half (yes, gremlins cheat ;) running up the board to help secure Line in the Sand and Breakthrough. For the first three turns he barely moved while he spent his AP summoning and shooting. I was a little worried that his static nature was going to leave him out of position in the late game but as it turned out, he proved quick enough in turns 4 and 5 to catch up with and support Raphael and the advancing Bayou Gremlins.

For So’mer’s upgrades, Family Tree didn’t disappoint at all. The ability to just keep churning out gremlins (with a Slop Hauler to heal them of course) is well worth the investment, especially in Reconnoiter. On the other hand, with the Skeeters sacrificing themselves early to hold up Perdita and Nino, I actually got no use at all out of the (0) actions granted by Can o’ Beans. With hindsight I think one upgrade I should have taken (either replacing or in addition to Can ‘o Beans) was Quality Mash Liquor for the healing action. So’mer’s summoning was totally dependent on the Slop Hauler being able to heal the damaged gremlins so if Ross had killed the Slop Hauler early, my summoning would have effectively shut down. It’s for that reason that I’m starting to think that Family Tree and Quality Mash Liquor really need to go hand in hand. Either take both upgrades, or leave Family Tree at home.

Bayou Gremlins are easily one of my favourite minions in the game. They rarely seem to hurt, let alone kill other models but with Bayou Two-card acting *kind of* like a positive flip they’ve proven to be remarkably resilient for their cost. Combined with their mobility and fantastically low cost they’ve actually proven to be excellent at taking objectives. Sure, your opponent will kill a few but there’s usually two more for every one they kill (So’mer’s summoniung helps, of course) so I’ve always managed to get enough into position to claim objectives like Line in the Sand, protect territory, Turf War or Reconnoiter.
One thing I haven’t really tried with the Bayou Gremlins is to up their killing power with stuff like Lenny (for Pseudo-Armour and the Ram to their shooting attacks) and the Encouragement upgrade (for the positive flip to attacks). This goies against what I normally use Gremlins for, but I have to admit I am curious to see whether it’s enough to make up for the loss of Raphael or Francois (who’d be exchanged for Lenny).

Speaking of which, Francois and Raphael continued to prove themselves a mainstay of my Gremlin crews. Francois’s efforts in holding up Perdita, Fransisco and the Guild Guard both prevented Ross from scoring full points for Bodyguard and Breakthrough, plus he gave Merris the chance to slip into Ross’s back lines to achieve breakthrough. Raphael managed to survive the game and the shooting from both he and So’mer managed to kill Nino, Papa Loco AND Santiago before the game finished. Stilts has always been great for keeping Francois alive and Dirty Cheater works very well for both LaCroix – it helps keep Raphael above 1 wound for his Hard to kill ability and Francois’s (0) Showdown action gives him an easy way to cheat down a card to heal a wound (usually from Reckless!).

I’ve become a big fan of Merris LaCroix (although again – this was her Beta version). To me, she’s the Gremlin version of a Silurid– quick, excellent at planting scheme markers where you want them and with Team Work, very good at slipping out of melee. I’ve heard some people argue that a pair of Bayou Gremlins can fulfil the same role for as many or fewer soulstones but I disagree. Flight makes her more mobile, she can’t easily be held up in melee and she can give herself Reckless every turn for another AP (as opposed to the Bayour Gremlins with Drunk and Reckless). Combined with her (0) Bombs away action, that last part means she can consistently place two scheme markers per turn. That she’s got a better shooting attack (A cover-ignoring Flaming Bottle for Burning +3) is icing on the cake.

So that leaves… the Skeeter? I have to say I was a little disappointed that they only lasted one turn, but I shouldn’t be surprised given they were facing a crew like Perdita’s and in any case, they did their job! If they lasted a little longer they might have had a chance to use Pull My Finger (from Can o’ Beans) for a bit of potential damage, but I wasn’t particularly fussed by their loss.


I've run out of photos of So'mer, so here's one of Merris's arse. ;)

Final Impressions – Losing Your Way to Victory

I think the best way to describe So’mer’s and possibly the entire Gremlin faction’s playstyle is that they Lose Their Way to Victory. You take a ton of crappy models, summon more crappy models, send them against your opponent and watch them die. But in the process they’re also holding up your opponent’s crew and achieving objectives like Reconnoiter and Line in the sand by virtue of their sheer weight of numbers. In short – Gremlins die, but you win the game anyway so it doesn’t matter! It’s for this reason that So’mer’s been a lot of fun to play. I’ve almost always felt outmatched by the harder, more elite crews I’d face with So’mer, but his ability to just throw wave upon wave of his own gremlins at the enemy somehow lets him pull through for a win.

I have to admit, Som’er was a Master I’ve wanted to play for years. However the sheer number of models I needed to paint for a decent crew put me off. Of course it seems pretty silly now, considering I’ve now painted 21 crews and am looking at another 18 to finish before the end of the year! In any case, I’m glad I finally gave So’mer a shot. He really is a fun Master to play and while there’s nothing in his rules that’s particularly unique, his horde tactics definitely keep him interesting!

Till next time,

Adrian

2 comments:

  1. I'm quite sure the Kris is a he, not a she. Aside from that Somer will be up at the end of next week, and Somer can fulfill the Ophelia role from 1.5, buffing and laying down lots of damage. Cheers!

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    Replies
    1. Ha, right, I'll edit accordingly. ;)

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