Halifaux part 2: What happened!?

Hi folks,

Last time I was chatting about Halifaux I was talking about how I got on in the tournament. This post is going to be venturing deeper into my mind, to look at my thoughts on various aspects of the tournament, what went well, what didn’t, why, etc etc, and what might/will change for my next tournament, in a week and a bit.

First off is a mention (which should’ve come last time) to Mike Taylor, who ran the event. It was certainly his first time running a second edition tournament, and I have a feeling I heard it was his first ever tournament. As far as I’m aware, everything ran smoothly, and seemed very well planned. Everyone knew when they had to be places, and the raffle was a great addition, giving the not-so-near-the-top players/painters a chance to take something home. Obviously it was a massive fix, as I didn’t win anything (I’ve gained a reputation from 4M back in July, when I gathered a small horde of limited edition prizes), but a really good idea all the same. From my personal perspective, I can’t think how it could’ve run any better. Well done Mike.

Joe’s question

Right, on to crew thoughts, and first off, I’ll answer Cheated Fates Joe’s question from the previous Halifaux blog post. Joe asked whether I regret varying the crew builds between strategies as much as I did, and how I might vary the crews if playing those strategies again.

In the end, I took 11 models with me, all of which I had used in at least 5 games before the tournament, and all of which I used at least once during the tournament. As I had reasonable experience with all the models, I don’t think I regret varying the crews, I knew what the models do, and some of their interesting interactions (though I keep finding new interactions). That being said, I am trying to hone down a 30ish soulstone core to the crew, which is suitably flexible and functional for any strategy. I won’t go into too much detail about that core, as I’m still trying to figure it out, however it will almost certainly start off with Myranda (very flexible), RSR (fairly flexible and reliable – doesn’t need suits for anything), and a December acolyte. I’ve only just started using the acolyte, but it’s so flexible, and good at most things (and doesn’t need suits, and gives me a good ranged threat) I’m pretty sure it’ll become as common in my crews as Myranda. There might well also be 2 molemen in there.

As to how I might change the crews if I were to do it again, I’ll go in reverse order. My turf war crew, I’m pretty happy with. it’s very flexible for that particular strategy. Every model can get back to the centre quickly if need be, there’s plenty of killing power, and plenty of objective grabbing ability. It struggles with survival though. I’m tempted to switch out the Cerberus for an acolyte, to provide some ranged pressure and a way to get through armour, but that’s something I need to test.

In contrast for squatter’s rights, the whole crew needs to be more survivable so I can continually contest the markers. RSRs are fantastic for this, and waldgeists aren’t too shabby either (with 4″ melee range, a single waldgeist can lock up/contest 2 markers). The problem this squatter’s rights crew faced was speed. There was enough hitting power to get rid of models reasonably well, but the fact that I couldn’t grab 2 objectives in turn 1 did pose a problem. It wouldn’t have been an issue if Deliver the message wasn’t available, but in this instance, advancing Marcus to the centre line would have given Jimmy 3 VPs on a silver platter. A silurid or some other speedy models may have solved this, but as I had/have no experience with them, I feel safer sticking to what I know. Cojo is also a good shout for Squatter’s rights as he can push models off objectives and grab them for himself. Perhaps I should’ve taken him rather than a Razorspine or waldgeist, but that would have left me with a small cache, and I do find Cojo generally has to have Myranda as a babysitter, whereas I wanted her to be flexible. Indeed maybe the optimum solution would’ve been to turn Myranda into Cojo. I’m just not quite sure. Though I like the waldgeists, they’re pretty slow. I’m tempted to drop one/both for an acolyte (spot the common theme) and a moleman (though I don’t have another model) or a steam arachnid (more on them in a bit).

Finally we get to Reckoning. I think at present I just can’t get my head around what I want to do in this strategy (despite the fact that it’s the new beatdown, so should be what I’m good at!). I think the crew I chose wasn’t awful, given the models I had available and the master I was facing. It was by no means great, with no way to get through armour and not too much defense, but that wasn’t (entirely) why I lost. I lost because even during crew creation, my mind was just thinking “how can I put out as much damage as possible?”. During the game I simply didn’t get out of this mindset. As I said in the previous post, I temporarily totally forgot that Law of Meat existed, and really I should’ve taken Marcus with Trail, feral, and howl, to put someone (namely miss step) on negative flips for all duals each turn, or to be able to alpha Ramos/Joss/Miss Step/Johan to hurt things enough that I could finish them off with my own models. Instead I took trail, arcane reservoir, and imbued energies. This isn’t a bad setup, but it wasn’t optimum for the occasion. As twitter followers will know, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to compose crews for reckoning… and I’m still not there yet.

So in terms of models and tactics, I think I did well at turf war, reasonably (room for improvement) at squatter’s rights, and badly at reckoning.

Why can’t I succeed at reckoning!?

One thing I’m really struggling with in reckoning is figuring out the right balance of models. Of course the strategy dictates that you need models which can kill stuff well, and models which can defend against attacks well. One way to do this is to just take models which are good at killing/surviving (things like Joss, or RSRs). Another alternative is to take enough cheap stuff to get activation advantage. Then you can dictate when the heavy hitters will engage. James did a combination of the two, which had me beat. With Joss/Miss Step/Johan (and Ramos if need be) he had enough hitting power to kill off 2 models per turn, yet with the ability to summon new spiders, he had total activation domination from the outset. Ramos and Joss also brought along a ranged threat which forced me to be aggressive with my moves (otherwise he would just blast away, unanswered).

James also used a ploy which I might well shamelessly steal, using 2 molemen to do scheme markers, while the rest of his crew beat the 7 shades out of me. Unfortunately, for that I need another moleman. I think it’s fair to say that molemen now, are what night terrors used to be. They’re also very resilient, unless attacked by a model which ignores armour.

I have another tournament coming up in a few weeks, in which the strategies are the same, but with reconoiter instead of squatter’s rights, so before then I’m going to have to try to get my head around how to tackle reckoning. On a fundamental level, I think the theory of channelling AP through a heavy hitter (something which Marcus does very successfully) is a good way to go. However the Cerberus seems too squishy to do that and survive, so perhaps switching in a different beatstick (insert convenient mention of my new Joss proxy here), or taking a few beatstick is a good way to go.

What’s next for team Marcus?

So a few thoughts are flying around my head right now. One is that on the day, I need my head screwed on properly to do well. One is that I want to try out some new minions/enforcers/henchmen. The final one is that I’d like to try out a new master for a while. This is for a number of reasons: 1) my local group must be getting bored of playing against Marcus, 2) I want to test out different playing styles, 3) I want some flexibility, so that declaring “Arcanists” isn’t just declaring “Marcus”. I’m in the fortunate position that (after a recent purchase from And Wiseman of “Soulstone Train” fame) I now own all of the Arcanist Masters which interest me (Marcus, Ramos, Rasputina, Mei, Kaeris), and all of the Arcanist models from wave 1, except the essence of power (which I see little use for at present) and the rail golem (which I might pick up at some point, or I might find a nice proxy for it). This means at present I can be about as flexible as it’s possible to be, while staying within 1faction.

Team Marcus gets mechanical backup

I’ve never really used a summoning master, and now that I have some of the bigger constructs as well as tons of spiders/gamin, it seems like an ideal time to get old Dr Ramos on the table. Ramos also means I have Professor Marcus, and Dr Ramos, in order to make #TeamAcademia.

I’ve tried out Ramos once so far. He seemed very powerful (in reconoiter) summoning in spiders and buffing them very successfully  (defence 6, armour 1, regent 1, and positive flips to defence… enjoy that), though he didn’t seem as enjoyable to use as Marcus. He seemed very mechanical (pun intended), just going through the movements, exactly like a machine. However a future blog post will cover my experiences with the good doctor, as I’m sure I’ll get more into him as I figure out what to do.

So in summary, Halifaux was great, I made some mistakes during the games, and want to use a wider range of models to adapt my crew to the strategies and schemes which are available. Conversely though, I’m trying to figure out a strong core of reliable and flexible models. At the next tournament I might well take Marcus and Ramos for a bit of flexibility. I also want to tinker with Marcus’ upgrades, as I’m not sure my usual loadout gives the best returns (more on upgrades at a later date).

I hope you’ve enjoyed the focussed tournament coverage. In the future I may take a step back and look more at the underlying structure of what worked and what didn’t in given tournaments, but for now, that’s it.

Until next time.

Dave/sssk

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