Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Tea Time with McMourning

For my third and final game at the Cancon Tournament I was sitting on the top table, having decided to go with McMourning. Unlike the other Masters I’d used over the weekend, I’d never actually played McMourning before in any capacity. To make things even more interesting my opponent Todd was using Kaeris – a Master I’d barely even looked at during the Beta. So with my McMourning knowledge limited to a study of the cards and a few forum threads, and my Kaeris Knowledge being even less, I was set for an interesting game!

The Paint Job                    

I was actually struggling to think up a suitably ridiculous paint scheme for McMourning, so I asked for ideas from the Wyrd forums. In the end, I went with a Tea party theme! Taking a leaf from my Mei Feng crew (don’t worry, that’s coming next post), I ordered a dollhouse-sized tea set off ebay and went about preparing the models. As it turns out the tea set was more out of scale than I’d expected it to be, but it kind of adds to the silliness of it so I’m pretty happy with the result!

The Advice

I’m sure there’s a blog somewhere out there that discusses M2E McMourning but at the moment, I just can’t find it. :( In the meantime, here’s some links from the Wyrd Forum;

The Game

45SS, Standard Deployment
Strategy: Reconnoiter
- Make Them Suffer
- Vendetta
- Protect Territory
- Breakthrough
- Line in the Sand

God damn blurry camera. :(

The List

McMourning (Guild)
- On the Clock
- Plastic Surgery
- Evidence Tampering
- Unknowable Pain
Witchling Stalker
2x Guild Guard
2x Guild Hounds

Being Reconnoiter I tried to go for quantity over quality. The Guild Hounds (who are minons!) and Guild Guard are reflective of that, and I included an Austringer as much for its Deliver Orders action as the shooting it offers. Sebastian had Unknowable pain to help further enable some mobility within the crew and I took the Witchling Stalker both to remove conditions (a good idea with all the burning around, as it turned out) and support the Nurse.
McMourning stuck with his personal upgrades. On the Clock was essential if I wanted to take his Resser friends, and the other two helped improve his mobility, through either pushes from the poison condition or the 6” Scalpel Sling.

For schemes, I chose Breakthrough and Make them Suffer.

Todd's Arcanists for the weekend

Opponent’s List

- Grab & Drop
- Arcane Reservoir
- Imbued Energies
- Warding Runes
Mechanical Rider
- Imbued Energies
2x Fire Gamin
2x Rail Workers

For Schemes he went with Breakthrough and Make them Suffer.


During deployment I placed McMourning and the Nurse on the flank opposite the Mech Rider and Firestarter, while the rest of my crew lined up on the other flank against Kaeris and her minions. Turn 1 mostly consisted of both crews advancing. The Nurse loaded McMourning up with poison +4, who then proceeded to sprint straight at the Mech Rider and damage it with a (0) Scalpel Sling action. Over the next few turns McMourning took down both the Mech Rider and Firestarter while the FIrestarter did it’s best to pile Burning onto the good Doctor. A timely Dispel Magic from the Witchling Stalker kept McMourning from succumbing to the burning, and after finishing off the the firestarter in Turn 4 he had just enough time to advance into the enemy deployment zone and place some breakthrough markers.

On the other flank, a Guild Hound held Kaeris up for a turn (mainly to prevent her moving to assist the Mech Rider and Firestarter), and a Turn 3 charge by Sebastian into Kaeris’s minions ended with a dead Sebastian for no kills. The rest of the crew held off Kaeris and her minions for the rest of the game, with the highlights being the Nurse helping the Guild Guard seriously wound Kaeris, then paralysing & healing her for a turn to further hold her up. The Witchling Stalker was tackled by the two fire gamin, dieing in the process but taking out one of the Gamin in the process. Thanks to McMourning’s killing spree and a Guild Hound hidden in one of my own table quarters, I achieved full points for Reconnoiter while denying 2-4 VP from my opponent (can’t remember how many VPs he scored for the Strategy). The game ended in my favour, having achieved 7VP (no VPs for Make them Suffer) to 3-5VP (having gotten full or near-full points for Make them Suffer).

This also meant that I came first overall for the tournament, so I was pretty pleased with that! :)

Post-game Thoughts

By going after the Firestarter and Mech Rider on the Flank, I don’t feel as though I used McMourning to his fullest potential this game. There was no chance to really abuse his poison mechanic and he was never close enough to his own crew to move them around or buff them with his On the Clock upgrade. That said, I knew I needed to kill that Mech Rider as soon as possible before it started dropping scheme markers and Arachnids in my deployment zone, and McMourning was the only model in my crew whom I felt would achieve that. Fortunately my gamble worked – McMourning was lethal enough to take down both the Mech Rider and Firestarter, and still had time to place enough scheme markers to achieve my Breakthrough.

At least in theory (and bearing in mind I never got to use them), McMourning’s support tricks have a lot of appeal. While it comes at a cost of Poison +2, the (0) action Injection should really help push your crew into position and put out scheme markers. The On the Clock upgrade also helps with this, allowing you to effectively trade McMourning’s AP for (1) interacts on other friendly models. Also from On the Clock is the Spot Weakness spell to let friendly models ignore Armour and Hard to Wound, greatly improving their killing power against certain crews. I would have loved to use any of these actions, the game just didn’t allow for it so at least for the moment, I can only dream of what could have been. ;)

So while he made no use of his crew support abilities, McMourning’s resilience and killing power was definitely put to the test in this game. On paper it seems merely “okay”, with a 2/3/6 damage output. However poison +1 or more from the infect trigger plus the Catalyst trigger adds at least another 1 damage (so 3/4/7), not to mention it ignores armour and Hard to wound (though I note it was no use in this particular game) AND you get up to four attacks each turn from the extra (0) Scalpel Sling from the Evidence Tampering upgrade. A (0) Expunge can also finish off a model if you’ve put enough poison on him so while he might not have the raw damage output of the likes of Lady Justice or Lilith, he’s still a force to be reckoned with in melee.

Resiliance wise, McMourning was definitely not easy to take down. 14 wounds and Hard to wound more than made up for his paltry Df 5, and the consistent Healing from Organ Donor helps him last quite a while. His biggest weakness is definitely his Wp 5 (something that thankfully never came into play in this game). It makes him quite vulnerable to Wp-based attacks, although the condition removal from a Witchling Stalker’s Dispel Magic should go some way in making up for that.

For Guild-McMourning’s upgrades, it’s very difficult to go past his own ones – they’re all so good.  On the Clock is essential if you want to take Nurses (and there’s no reason not to), not to mention the support elements it adds, above. Evidence Tampering can seriously mess with your opponent’s scheme marker-related objectives (since he turns enemy markers within 4” into friendly ones at the end of game) and the extra, 6” attack with Scalpel Slingin’ adds to his mobility and reach.  The poison-fueled 5” push from Plastic Surgery  can also add to McMourning’s mobility (another reason to take the Nurse and load McMourning up with Poison), and while the Skin Graft ability has no immediate use outside the Resser faction, it does synergise with the Judge and his anti-undead Bound by Law attack.

It’s actually a pretty tough ask to consider what, if anything, McMourning could replace his three upgrades with. If you plan to use his other (0) actions a lot it might be worth replacing Evidence Tampering with the Badge of Office for some added resilience. Mind you, he’s already quite tough, so even against an assassinate scheme it might be unnecessary.

I really made a mess of Sebastian in this game. I only charged him up unsupported was because I needed him to start claiming VPs for Make Them Suffer, a scheme that in itself was a bad idea the moment I committed McMourning to killing a pair of non-minions. That move in itself was a bad idea but in retrospect, I really expected far more of Sebastian than I should have. For one, he’s a 7 soulstone model, which is quite cheap for a henchman so I really shouldn’t have expected him to tear chunks out of my opponents crew, Killjoy-style. At first, I also thought that I shouldn’t have been using him without the close support of McMourning (thus adding to the poison synergy of both). However looking back at his card, perhaps that’s not being fair to poor old Sebs. At least in theory (and assuming he survives to the end of turn), a single attack from Sebastian’s Bone Saw is going to deal 5/6/8 damage (2/3/4, plus Poison +1 from Infect, plus 2 Dg from Induction). Any additional poison you get on them translates to another 3 damage, thanks to Induction and then Catalyst forcing that damage to occur earlier. People rightly talk about how good Illuminated are, but Sebastian’s potential damage output actually exceeds what an Illuminated can do! Beyond that, he seems decently resilient but possibly a little slow, which really only means that unlike in my game, you need to ensure he’s got some support!

I’m undecided on Sebastian’s Unknowable Pain upgrade. It should be a good choice in the Resser faction since they’re almost entirely melee focused, but for the ranged-heavy Guild it felt unnecessary. In the crew I took there was nobody who really needed it. Guild Hounds were fast enough and the rest of the minions were more than happy to stay at range from the exploding Gamin and hard-hitting Rail Workers. However if I’d taken more melee-heavy models like the Executioner, Peacekeeper or Papa Loco, Unknowable pain would have been a better option.

I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that a Witchling Stalker should be mandatory for almost all Guild crews. Condition removal is a powerful effect, and it definitely proved its value after stripping something like Burning +6 from McMourning. Had I the chance, I also could have used it in conjunction with a Nurse, Paralysing and Healing a friendly model with Take Your Meds, then stripping the paralyse condition with the Witchling Stalker. His damage output is certainly nothing to laugh at but when it comes down to it, he’s really only going to be charging models when there’s no immediate use for his Dispel Magic. Otherwise, I’d quite happily leave him in the back lines to keep him safe.

Oh yes, you want at least one of these in your crew. ;)

Speaking of which, the Nurse is another model I was not disappointed with this game. Her ability to easily load McMourning up with Poison for extra movement with Plastic Surgery is pretty good in itself, but her Take Your Meds action is incredibly useful, allowing you to heal your models (see the Witchling Stalker, above), boost your own models or neutralise your opponent’s models. In this game she put it to good use, paralysing Kaeris for a turn and boosting a Guild Guard’s damage output significantly. Had I the chance, I would have also liked to use the Downers trigger (Armour 2 and negative flips to all duels) in conjunction with McMourning’s Precise ability or Spot Weakness action, which basically allows you to ignore the armour you just gave to that model!

The Zombie Chihuahua was a model I tried to fit into the crew, but as a non-minion I couldn’t really find the space to justify its inclusion. In a Guild crew his Horrific Odor pulse is going to be more of a hinderance than a help, since you don’t want him near anyone but McMourning (the only model able to benefit from having Poison). However McMourning seems fast enough to leave the Chihuahua behind after the first turn, so it seems that the Nurse is a far better option for granting McMourning Poison. If you can get him into your enemies lines, then accelerate the poison with Sebastian’s Induction and Catalyst Auras he’d probably do well though. So while he might work, I’m not yet convinced that he’s an essential inclusion for Guild McMourning.

As for the rest of the crew, the Guild Guard surprised me with their cost effectiveness. I they did much more damage in melee that I expected them to (even without the Nurse) and their resilience kept them in the game long enough to keep Kaeris occupied. The Guild Hounds were typically fragile and while I didn’t get to use their (1) charge against models near scheme markers, the fact that they’re 3SS minions made them a great choice for Reconnoiter. As for the Austringer, he claimed a scalp or two with his ranged attack and used Deliver Orders to move Sebastian up, so he performed as well as I expected him to.

In terms of crew construction, I’m starting to see how your average Guild McMourning crew “should” go. After taking McMourning and his three personal upgrades, the first choices are undoubtably a Nurse and Witchling Stalker. After that it depends on the Strategy and Scheme pool. The Executioner, Peacekeeper, Judge and Sebastian would offer good killing power (especially with Spot Weakness from McMourning), while Unknowable Pain from Sebastian can get them moving and Take Your Meds/Drain Magic from the Nurse and Witchling Stalker can keep them healed up. Objective running would necessitate the use of Guild Guard and/or Death Marshalls. Taking super-fast models is less necessary since after all, McMourning use his Tactical actions to move them and/or place the required Scheme Markers for them.

Scheme Markers!

Final Impressions

I only have a vague idea on how McMourning  is supposed to work in Ressers, but while playing as the “Good Guys” (if you can even call the Guild that!) McMourning actually reminds me of how Marcus works. Both masters are incredibly flexible at what they do, capable of changing roles from turn to turn as the situation dictates. McMourning himself is resilient and very fast when he wants to be. He can support his crew extremely well (especially when it comes to scheme marker placement) and if needed, can leap into combat himself and deal a respectable amount of damage.

That flexibility is something that’s really drawing me to McMourning. Much like Marcus and Zoraida, I feel like there’s enough that you can do with him to keep him interesting for quite a while. The fact that you can also use McMourning as a Resser only adds to his “replayability”, so to speak. While I haven’t yet committed to playing every Duel Faction Master in both their Factions for the Rainbow Challenge, I am very tempted to try Resser McMourning, if only to see what new dynamics the Faction switch might add to his playstyle.

Till next time,


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