Thursday, 29 January 2015

Year of the Crow - Seamus

So hey, look at this, the The Year of the Crow and my focus on Ressers has officially begun! The Outcasts were fun and if I’m being honest, I’m already regretting moving away from them after seeing some of their Wave 3 model rules (Pigeons!). Anyway, I’ve committed to the Ressers and honestly this is something I need to do. I don’t know the Resser Faction as well as I should, so this is a good chance to learn all their little tricks. ;)

Exchanging all the Outcasts in my Malifaux bag for Ressers was no a small task. After an hour or so of packing I’d crammed 6 Masters into my Bag, plus a handful of Mercs (Nicodem’s the only one I’ve not assembled/painted). That said there are a few more models I’ll want to fit in once painted, specifically some Flesh Constructs for McMourning and Kirai. I’ve also got plans for painting some alternate crews, specifically for McMourning (for the Tale of Malufaux Bloggers) and Molly (which I’ll talk about later!). That’ll probably make it harder to fit 6, or even 5 Masters into my Malifaux bag. Mind you, I’ll be happy if I can take the models for three. It’s just a matter of figuring out which Resser Masters I want to use regularly!

Partway through swapping Outcasts for Ressers in my Malifux bag...

Speaking of which, that’s my first step for the Year of the Crow; deciding which Masters I want to focus on. While I do have some Masters I prefer over others I’m still not decided on three that I both like, and would cover the strategies I’d need to play. Needless to say, and much like my Rainbow Challenge, this is going to require playing each of these Masters at least once again!

Anyway, with my Malifaux ready to go it was onto my first Resser game of the year: A 45SS game against regular opponent Kyle and his Guild-McMourning crew.

The Setup

When we’d originally arranged our game my intention was to go with a Yan Lo crew. On the night however, we flipped for strategies and got this;

Line in the Sand
Power Ritual
Spring the Trap

Damn, that’s a lot of mobility-based objectives then! Going with a crew that prefers to bunch up a little probably wasn’t going to be the best approach for this game, so Yan Lo was out. I don’t yet have Nicodem, I haven’t worked myself up to trying Tara again and as I mentioned above, I’d quite like to paint some flesh constructs before putting Kirai or McMourning on the table again. So instead, I decided to go with Seamus;

My crew for the day. Just need to base my "Copycat Killer"

- Red Chapel Killer
- Bag ‘o’ Tools
- Spare Parts
- Bleeding Tongue
- Not Too Banged Up
Copycat Killer
2x Rotten Belles
2x Crooligans

…leaving 1SS for a 4SS cache. Given the schemes I figured Crooligans were a no-brainer with their ability to Distract enemy models and just teleport away. The Rotten Belles were another no-brainer (both in general and for messing opponents models up in Reconnoiter) and Sybelle provided both some melee muscle and support for the Belles. The Hanged is a model I’ve always hated facing, so with a Terrifying-loving crew like Seamus’s, I definitely wanted to give him a go.

As for Seamus, I figured he’d be playing a more independent and evasive game, hence Red Chapel Killer for the easier Back Alley actions and Bag ‘o’ Tools in case he needed to just beat down someone in melee. Spare parts is an upgrade I took the last time I played Seamus and while I didn’t expect to summon another Rogue Necro, the odd Guild Autopsy would certainly help with achieving Reconnoiter.

For my Schemes I went with Breakthrough and Distract. So long as I could keep at least one Crooligan safe I figured Breakthough was a shoe-in, while Distract felt pretty achievable and wasn’t entirely reliant on the Crooligans…although they do (and did) help a lot!

I really should have remembered how much poison McMourning can dole out...

The Game

After revealing crews Kyle said he’d originally planned to go with Sonnia. But like me, he went for another, more mobile Master after seeing the strategy and schemes. His own crew consisted of McMourning, two Nurses, two Witchling Stalkers, a Brutal Effigy, Watcher and Judge. He split his own crew into two groups during deployment. One with McMourning and the Effigy, the other with Judge and the Watcher and both with a Witchling and Nurse each. I assume his plan was for each group to be capable of handling themselves, each with decent killing power and the ability to both disrupt and (with help from the Witchling Stalker’s condition removal) heal models with the Nurse.

I deployed my own crew pretty centrally, with Seamus favouring the McMourning flank and the Hanged closer to Judge’s flank. The Crooligans, of course, sat out of sight on each flank. The one closer to McMourning kept his distance (I remembered how fast he can get) while the other sat behind a hill directly opposite Judge’s group (I was more confident of keeping him safe).

Turn 1 began with the usual positioning. Kyle’s Watcher dropped a scheme marker in the corner (for Power Ritual) and I moved my Crooligan up toward Judge’s team, putting him in cover and on defensive stance in case Kyle tried anything funny. My other Crooligan on McMourning’s side stayed put (too dangerous to poke his head out yet) and rest of Kyle’s crew moved forward. Sybelle moved up and used Call Belle to bring a Rotten Belle up to within Lure range, who then promptly pulled a Witchling Stalker into Back Alley & shooting range of Seamus. The Witchling predictably died (with some help from the Copycat Killer to finish it off), but pushed close enough to my crew to damage a few with Immolating Demise.

The Hanged prepares to extract some revenge on Wp 5 McMourning...

Turn 2 started with a bang! Winning initative, Kyle activated McMourning, moved him up and cast 2x Rancid Transplants and an Expunge to kill Seamus outright (he’d already suffered 5 damage from the Witchling and a wayward shot from the Brutal Effigy). Seamus was dead, but I soon had my revenge! Two casts of Whispers from Beyond by my Hanged stripped 11 wounds off McMourning and prevented further heals. Sybelle and one of two Rotten Belles (teleported in with Call Belle) finished off the remaining three wounds. And with that, we were both suddenly left without a Master for the remainder of the game! The rest of the turn progressed pretty ordinarily by comparison. My Crooligans both tagged a model with Distract and some positioning by the rest of my crew ensured  that neither of us claimed enough quarters for Reconnoiter that turn.

Over the last few turns Kyle attempted to both remove Distract from his own models and place Distract on my Crooligans. Both attempts were sadly foiled by my Luring Rotten Belles (pushing them away and freeing the Crooligans to (2) interact and remove distract). The Brutal Effigy was taken out by a combination of the Copycat Killer’s Flintock and a Lure & Pounce from a Rotten Belle. The Hanged attempted to tie up the Watcher in combat to prevent it placing a scheme marker in my corner (big mistake – Watchers are Stubborn!) but otherwise faced off against the Judge, with neither dealing significant damage to the other. By the start of Turn 5 my crew had cleared McMourning’s flank, leaving Kyle with Judge, the Watcher, a Witchling and Nurse on the other flank. I’d still only lost Seamus so with the numbers well and truly against him I managed to claim another 3 VP for Reconnoiter over turns 3, 4, 5 and 6 (we’d flipped a 10+ for playing an extra turn). Despite the Watcher placing a scheme marker in my board quarter my Crooligan managed to remove the scheme marker in his. The other Crooligan was unopposed, and so had little trouble placing scheme markers for Breakthrough. The game ended decisively in my favour at 10-1, with Kyle picking up one point for Power Ritual and me losing one point from Distract.

The mutually distracted Belle and Nurse flail uselessly against each other. Nursey eventually took a Flintock to the head from the Copycat Killer. ;)

After the Game

In both this and my past games I’ve always found McMourning to be great at both killing things and getting killed. This game was no exception! Losing Seamus to McMourning in the first activation certainly hurt, but between the Sybelle, two Luring Belles and the Hanged I was able to finish him off in response, leaving us both without a Master for the rest of the match. Mind you, I only killed McMourning because the rest of my crew (Crooligans aside) were free to focus their attention on him. If the rest of Kyles crew had been in a position to keep my own models occupied, then it would have been a very different story. And that is probably the secret to getting the best out of McMourning – don’t get him in a position where the opponents crew can focus on him without retaliation.
 Near the end of the game - Sybelle keeps a Witchling engaged while the Crooligan prepares to remove a scheme marker.

Aside from that, I feel like I really underestimated Seamus’s resilience this game. McMourning was well suited to taking him down (especially when I’d left him next to two of his own undead models), but it could have been a similar story had I been facing the likes of Perdita, Lady Justice, possibly even Sonnia. Fact is, half the Guild Masters are very capable of assassinating a low Df Master like Seamus. In retrospect I think Mad Haberdasher would have been a solid choice for Seamus vs Guild.

Spare Parts was a wasted upgrade, and not just because Seamus didn’t live long enough to use it. Between the Red Chapel Killer upgrade and his existing summoning spell, Seamus had more than enough uses for the corpses he’d generate. What he needed instead, as per above, was some more resilience with Mad Haberdasher. So while Corpses can be a powerful resource in Resser crews, they’re also quite finite. So in the future I’ll need to think more carefully about whether I’ll have enough corpses available for the upgrades/models I take.

Who's a pretty girl?

Sybelle is one of those models I never thought much of (partly due to a past edition bias), but in my games against her recently I’ve come to see just how good she is. For her cost she’s decently resilient, a significant threat in melee (esp with her Bleeding Tongue upgrade) and nothing short of excellent at supporting her Belles (esp. with Not too Banged Up). In this game I got value out of every aspect of her. Her shining moment in the game was probably helping to kill McMourning, both by dealing some damage and by teleporting a Rotten Belle into position to finish him off. In fact Call Belle proved to be an invaluable spell. Pulling a Belle up on the first turn helped me Lure in a Witchling Stalker to get killed. And then later on she teleported one to the other side of the board to both Lure an enemy model off my Crooligan (freeing it to remove Kyle’s scheme marker for Power Ritual) and helping me achieve Reconnoiter. All in all, I think she’s going to be a difficult henchman to pass up if I’m taking more than one Rotten Belle.

Rotten Belles were just plain good, as they’ve always been in the games I’ve played with/against them. The high Ca, 18” Lure has so much potential for isolating models, positioning your own model and denying schemes. Plus that Undress action for Slow on enemy models certainly had its uses. Nobody like getting Slowed. ;)

Always loved this sculpt. Stay classy Seamus! 

I never expected too much from the Copycat Killer. After all, he’s a cheap peon so he wasn’t going to contribute to the strategy/schemes. At best I expected him to finish off other minions in support of Seamus. Losing Seamus pretty much nixed the Copycat Killer’s mobility but even so, he still managed to help kill a Witchling Stalker, Brutal Effigy and a Nurse (the latter being engaged with my Rotten Belle at the time) – not a bad tally for a 3SS peon! I suppose the alternative to having my Copycat Killer was to either grab a Grave Spirit or third Crooligan, or to upgrade one of my existing models to something more costly (Belle to Dead Doxy, or Sybelle/Hanged to Valedictorian). None of those options seem worthwhile given what the Copycat killer was able to achieve though, so I’m happy with his inclusion.

There’s a lot I like about Crooligans. On the table they’re the objective grabbers I crave in most of my games and the fact that they’re undead children is hugely appealing to me. The competition for this slot in my Resser crews will undoubtedly be the Necropunks. I prefer the former, even if only because I like the models more! But while the Necropunk’s leap requires a decent card to cheat, I feel he’s still the better option in a game without Distract or Cursed Object as a scheme.

Finally, there’s the Hanged. This was actually my first game ever with them on my side, and he didn’t disappoint. Whispers from Beyond was instrumental in killing McMourning after he’d taken on Seamus, effectively dealing 11 Wounds from two casts and preventing any chance of McMourning healing himself. That alone made him well worth the investment, although it would have been nice to see him utilise his other talents a little more, specifically Unrelenting Terror and his many Horror Duel triggers to both strip my opponents hand and paralyse enemy models wholesale. Still, if this game proved anything, it’s that the Hanged is a threat both at range and (I assume) up close!

The Seamus crew I used last year - why the hell didn't I take Sybelle?!

Final Thoughts

So that’s it – my first Resser game of the year. I’m not sure if I can say much about how I found Seamus given how long he lasted. Although I at least know from past experience that I enjoy playing him. The game also gave me a nice feel for how a Resser crew works in a more general (ie. Masterless!) sense, so there is that I suppose. Still, hopefully my Master won’t die quite so fast in future games!

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