Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Auz Malifaux GT here I come!

Last night as I feverishly fought with Blogger pages to try and get my assembly instructions page working (which I kinda only partially succeeded in - stupid formatting), I was briefly interrupted by a forum notification reminding me about the Malifaux Australian GT.

No sooner had I finished my post, than I went to work on the Misses. Now she's known it was coming but permission slips are a fickle thing, so I always try to sweeten the deal. This time I knew she wouldn't want to come with me, so the tactic I'd used for Cancon wasn't going to work a second time.

I knew I needed to reduce the bill if if I was going to appeal the decision, so first things first, lets look at the details of the tourny. Ok the hotel has a room rate for the tourny, right there's $40 saving per night. The hotel Facebook page will chuck in a free continental brekky for a like on their page. I can do that for another $20 saving per night. So far I'd saved $180. Now the big one, the flight. A check of our frequent flyer miles shows there's enough to go to Sydney, right so if I explain this as I've save about $700, its only going to cost about $450 to go, will she go for it?

Well the title says it all really, and I shouldn't spin this out any longer. I have a great and understanding wife at the end of the day and yep I'm signed up, in fact I think I was the first to sign up.

So July is a big month, I want to lift my game. At Cancon the objective wasn't to come last. This time round I don't want to come last, I want nearer to the middle and I want at least 1 win per day. Lets see how I go!

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Wyrd Plastics - Assembly Guide, Tips and complexity reviewed

I've seen a few articles recently with people's feedback on assembling the new Wyrd plastics. I'm not denying that some of these kits are fiddly and the lack of assembly instructions doesn't help, but I've been surprised by some of the criticisms I've seen.

I wanted to create a more impartial guide to those kits and so I'm dedicating a page to a Wyrd Plastics Guide, a mechanism that gives you a simple score on the complexity of assembly and things to look out for with each figure. You should see it appear on my blog in the next couple of days.

I'll be giving each mini a score and then the box set overall, so you get an idea what you might be letting yourself in.

Now because we are all at different skill and comfort levels, scoring works on the premise that you're a hobbyist who has undertaken a few conversions, maybe done a little green stuffing, you certainly know how to drill and pin. A typical example is maybe you've converted a marine to a new pose, drilled out the gun barrels and green stuffed a symbol or two on his armour.

So how will scoring work? Well its a simple 1-5 scale as follows:

One out of Five - A kit or mini so complex and delicate it will take a team of artisans many weeks to assemble the nerve to simply open the box. People have been known to loose their sanity simply by gazing at the contents. Not for the feint hearted and is likely to test your assembly mettle significantly. Be prepared and follow advice and recommendations very carefully.

Two out of Five - A kit or mini with many assembly challenges. It might contain really fiddly bits that leave you feeling you need a third hand, just to hold that bit just as you want it. It will challenge you and requires a fair bit of thought and preparation.

Three out of Five - A kit or mini with one or two assembly challenges. It might challenge you a little but with a bit of thought, it should go ok.

Four out of Five - It's a pretty easy mini or kit to assemble, there's nothing out of the ordinary here for someone of your skills. There might be one or two little things to look out for.

Five out of Five - Seriously you'd have to have a blood alcohol level approaching 100% to cock this one up. No instructions needed and a blindfold is provided for those wanting a challenge.

Lastly, to round out this article, I'm sharing my tips for assembling these minis, some are obvious, some not so. They are my personal take on how to ensure every mini you assemble not only looks great, but causes you the minimum of fuss during assembly.

So my 10 general assembly tips for Wyrd Plastics are as follows:

Keep the back of the box, the 3D renders of the minis can help you find out where those elusive bits should be fitted.

If you are going to wash, to remove mould release agents, do it whilst everything is on the sprue and check carefully for missing components afterwards.

Don't blindly cut things off of the sprue, this isn't a GW kit where you make a little pile of bits, then decide how they go together. Each piece probably has only one place and each mini has specific parts. You can only mix and match if you are prepared to convert, which will not be easy, and arm/leg swaps are non existent in the kits I've seen.

Only snip off the sprue the bits you need for the next assembly step.

Snip things off the sprue over a table, preferably covered in something with a high contrast colour to the grey of the kit and isn't cluttered with other things. Make sure your entire sprue is right over the table/matt and watch carefully for where pieces drop, if they are small.

Make sure you have tools up for the job, you want a needle sharp and pointed set of clippers, some needle files, a needle delivered plastic glue solution and a sharp hobby knife. You may also want a pair of tweezers and a magnifier for some of the kits.

Cleanup small and delicate pieces very carefully. I know this sounds obvious, but I've seen a few pieces broken because people didn't think through the cleanup strategy.

Build from the legs up on a mini unless otherwise suggested in my guides. Decide if legs need pinning to your bases before getting into full assembly.

Consider as you build if adding the next component will hinder your ability to paint. Some prefer to part assemble and paint, others don't mind the challenges that full assembly might bring.

Dry fit every component at least twice before gluing. In the first instance make sure you have the fit right. In the second instance look to your remaining parts to see if what you're doing might hinder the rest of the build.

Lastly and not really an assembly point, but one last piece of advice. Consider how you are going to transport the minis, custom foam is best.

Monday, 25 March 2013

More Alt Sculpts - Lilith and Candy

So as I start another week, I thought I'd share a few more alt sculpts for those of you looking for a change from the Wyrd minis.

First up is this sculpts, which although a little to cartoonish for my liking might be what some of you want for your Avatar Lilith mini. Just google Anima for this one.

Then there is this rather awesome goldilocks sculpt that I can't help thinking would make a great Candy. I think this is a coolminiornot sculpt.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Malifaux Board for Beginners - Part 5 - Is the future here already?

It's going to be a quiet week on the blog front. I'm snowed at work and the misses has handed me a saturated dance card, so this update on the board will be relatively short and might be the only thing I get to write. The good news is this weekend coming I'm home alone for 48 hours, so there will be plenty of progress to report.

I only managed to get a couple of hours in this weekend and I used it to get use to my new collection of power tools. I focused exclusively on the side boards, first cutting out the handholds to allow the inner board to be replaced or flipped. I then went at the sideboards with pencil and rule, testing my schoolboy knowledge of pythagoras and trigonometry to draw out the locations for the soulstone, victory and turn counter tracks. The result was a lump of wood that looked like it had circuitry drawn on it!

I then pulled out my new 22mm hole borer drill bit and spent an hour terrorising my dogs and worrying my wife, who believes I'm something of a clutz when handed heavy machinery. I will never qualify as any sort of woodsman, but I'm relatively happy with how it turned out, and I have no cuts or bruises to show for it...

As I stood back and reflected on how satisfying it can be to Swiss cheese a perfectly good piece of wood, I was at the same time a little disappointed to see that my hole boring hadn't left me with the insets I wanted for the counter to sit on. You see I'd drilled through 6mm of MDF, to create the holes where the glass bead would sit to reflect the current turn/victory/soulstone score. The problem was, the glass bead is only about 4mm tall and getting it in and out of the hole was now quite fiddly.

I always figured this would be the case and I had in my mind I could just cut some 18mm circles in 3mm MDF using the same hole borer drill bits, but apparently not so. Whilst the borer did a good job of cutting out the circle, it did it at the expense of the inner circle and I was left googling alternatives. I've probably spent six hours googling drill bits, counters and discs and then I hit upon Phoenix Laser

Now as I said, I had in mind that I'd need a 3mm tall inset and I'd intended to print some transfers up with the current number. I'd imagined using the Malifaux fonts like Bleeding Cowboy and Blood Crow to follow the theme and give the whole board a sense of authenticity. And then during my searching I found someone had already done the work for me. Someone had created counters precisely to size and they'd embossed numbers on to the top.

And not for the first time in this project, I find myself using laser cut MDF solutions for this board. You'll remember that most of the terrain for this project is coming from a Kickstarter terrain project by Impudent Mortal, or Walt to his backers.

And so as I reflect back on the title of this post, which I now realise was some time ago, I have to wonder if the future of our hobby is here already, lurking on the fringes. If I'd tried this project three years ago, I would have either had to scratch build or accept the offerings of plastic kit manufacturers. I would in all likelihood have paid my coin to a rich corporate and probably not got the exact product I wanted. Nowadays if it isn't out there, I can ask anyone of the the number of startups with access to a laser printer to make it for me.

And so I wonder, where will our hobby be in ten years time? Will we all have laser or 3D printers at home and all we do is log on, select our product and click print. Will our game boards be giant interactive TV screens, like that currently being developed by xxx

One thing is for sure, technology is bridging the gap between our imagination and the practicalities of modern life, each and every day. What things look like in our gaming scene in ten years is anyone's guess.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Mighty Minion - Gaki

Mighty Minion - GakiIt's been a while since I've posted one of these and I really want to rant about the merits of the Gaki, or as I think of them, the piranhas of the spirit world.

  • Walk of 5 and charge of 7 is pretty fast for a Resser
  • Nice cheap minion at 3ss
  • Insatiable hunger gives them a free walk in the end closing phase against living crews
  • slow to die gives you the opportunity to lash out or snack on a corpse when killed, its one of their most powerful benefits
  • +1 dg when inflicting damage within 6 of Kirai
  • Devour Anything spell allows you to sacrifice height 1 models, which together with unstoppable eaters ability, and two other Gaki, means you can target height two models. The target is sacrificed if it fails the duel, regardless of remaining wounds
  • The Absorb spell is a great finisher, cast this on a defender with 3 wounds or less, sacrifice them and gain fast. Do it a second time and gain reactivate.
  • 0 action Eat Your Fill allows all wounds to healed
  • 1 action Snack allows a healing flip and is best used as a slow to die action.
  • Balanced damage output at 2/2/4.
  • Low Willpower of 3
  • Low Cast of 3
  • Never run alone unless you really have to, their melee trigger becomes useless
  • Avoid putting them up against a magical blast crew, they'll simply evaporate
  • Don't let them get to far ahead otherwise they'll be out of Kirai's Seishin range and her damage buff
  • Slow to die action is useless if they are outside melee without a corpse counter to chug on, or something to attack
  • They are entirely selfish, one corpse equals one happy Gaki.
Play Style
Gaki are fast and best run in packs. They are voracious in combat but have no range combat abilities.
They can unlimited trigger off each other in combat until enough damage is done to kill, devour or absorb their prey. They can then stop and snack or pickup any corpse counters and keep going.
A Gaki with a corpse counter can cheat death itself by saving that snack for when it most needs it. When killed it simply pulls out the victims corpse, has a snack (using its slow to die action) and makes a healing flip. It's the ultimate energy bar for these little guys.
With their spirit ability they can simply pass through intervening terrain and their insatiable hunger ability means that a living crew is going to to find they move on them very quickly.
The most obvious synergy is more Gaki. The bigger the pack, the more voracious they become in combat, particularly when up against 40 and 50mm based models where their 1 inch melee range and defender melee range trigger Feeding Frenzy.

They also synergise well with Datsu Ba who can buff their healing or movement, can summon more of them, and can leverage them to get into combat.
They also act as a meat shield and glue for the higher priced minions like Dead Rider, Shikome and Ikiryo. Simply run the Gaki on front, get stuck into combat and then send in the Dead Rider as a closer. Alternatively, run it the other way round, pounce your prey with the rider and then charge the Gaki in to mop up or take care of any unwanted attention. Should the dead rider die, you'll be generating two corpse counters for the pack to pick up and feed on.

An Onryo can give them immediate revenge and they can cover the Gaki assault with their ranged spell malevolence.

I also like the Ikiro's 0 action Call Spirits as another way to enhance their movement.
All up I'm a big fan of these guys, but they'll only work for you if you can get them through the field of fire and up close and personal.

Gaki get my Zombie kill of the week award for putting Teddy in his place in two separate games recently. In game one I simply cheated in the red joker on damage and the another severe for the eight wounds required to finish him off.

In the second game his hard to wound was saving him so with one action left I tried an absorb, now I missed out by 1 on the duel total but it would have been so powerful if I had managed it. My opponent promptly swapped Kade and Teddy around, with Teddy taking no further part in the game and Kade getting picked to pieces in the next turn.
It almost makes up for Mr Fantasy then going on to trounce me in the thunderstruck achievement tournament (see previous article)
I should also give them the Unlucky Monkey award for the game in which I launched three of the at Sonia Creed only to have them burnt to a crisp outside of Kirai's range to ressurect.
I should maybe take some of my own advice.....

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Malifaux Board for Beginners - Part 4 - Sideways Thinking

As we head towards the weekend, I have a hankering to get some time in on my beginners board. Between tournaments and real life this project has felt a bit neglected recently, but the good news is that my ebay purchases have all turned up, and it's full steam ahead this weekend.

progress to date

closeups of the textured wallpapers I'm using

dry fitting the sideboards on my old urban 4x4

Last night I was playing with the lengths of wood I had put aside for the sideboards. One will show the soulstone and victory point counts and the second will show the schemes and strategies being played. As I laid this out and tried to make it all fit I made two discoveries that will tweak my design just a little.

Firstly I realised that the soulstone and victory tracks each need 11 positions, not 10. I realised as I played it through in my mind that each player starts with 0 VP's and can get down to 0 soul stones, so I need a position for this in the track areas. The 11 positions stem from the fact you can have upto 10 soulstones in a brawl and can earn upto 10 victory points. I also considered that one count goes up and whilst the other comes down and wondered for little while about how to do the tracks before realising I was getting a bit silly about the whole thing and I really need to press on...

This shows the positions on each track, per player. The intention is that each player will have two stones that they move between the positions. To stop inadvertent movement I'm intending to drill through this sideboard and create places where the stone will sit. (It'll make more sense when I post more WIP photos after the weekend.)

Then as I worked on the card management side I realised I wasn't going to get three schemes side by side so I came up with this alternative placement.

Finally came the realisation that if these sideboards fit perfectly up against the inner game board and they are all made of the same thickness MDF, then lifting the game board out to switch to the reverse side is going to be fiddly. I thought about reducing the thickness of the sideboard but ruled that out because I already have the wood cut. The answer in the end is to cut a handgrip sized hole in the sideboards, so I can get my hands in to lift out and flip the inner gaming board.

It may all be semantics, I haven't yet put it all down together, but I'm excited to get this project back underway and show some progress after the weekend.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Alt Sculpts - Dead Rider, McMorning and Shikome

Kickstarter has become a new resource for me, mainly for the terrain options becoming available, but I also keep coming across sculpts that wouldn't look out of place in your crews.

First up this dead rider alt by Dark Hammer Miniatures, the first product of a relatively new start up, this is in the 3D modelling state at the moment, but come on, how good does this look...

Next up is a sculpt that I really like as a replacement McMorning. It's no secret that I'm not a fan of either of his Wyrd sculpts, and I could really see this being the one I get. Sadly he's only available on the Kickstarter as an upgrade at the moment but its only a matter of time before he's released openly as the kickstarters has funded.

Lastly comes this alt for a Shikome, and frankly if this had been available six weeks ago, I would have bought it.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Thunderstruck - Achievement Tournaments Reviewed

As I look back on the weekend that was Thunderstruck, I thought I’d share my conclusions on an achievement ranked Malifaux event.

As I mentioned in my last post, Thunderstruck had 55 achievements, with the winner of the tournament being the person who had racked up the most achievements after three games. As a secondary countback mechanism, our TO used Tournament Points to resolve any tie breaker situations.

If you click on the picture below, you can see the achievements we used. This sheet gives you an idea of whether an achievement can be completed once or several times within the three games we played.

So what is it like to play in an achievement orientated event? Well my experience was that it made for a much more relaxed and less competitive event. Our Henchman did a good job of relaxing the barriers, he allowed unpainted crews, increased round times and there was a broad enough spectrum of achievements to ensure everyone could score.

We played through three of the new gaining grounds missions, which in itself was an education for everyone, with some fierce fighting to capture the treasure or be king of the hill.

At the same time, I think we were all conscious that winning was only going to net us one achievement point per game, so you saw people playing their hands open or cheating blind, letting your opponent pick their crews, or trying plays they'd normally not risk to get their achievements.

It all creates a more light-hearted atmosphere, and I think it probably emulates some of the play testing that Wyrd went through in the development of the game. What do I mean by that? Well next time you play a game, try a round with your hand face up and you'll see a lot more decisive play, because you know exactly what your opponent has in their hand. Try a turn where your control hand is face down and you cheat blind, you'll have a lot more fun and at the same time your wins and losses in the turn become a lot more epic. That's what I mean.

So does the achievement concept work in a tournament environment? Well my own experience would have said yes but after speaking to a couple of attendees they had mixed feelings about the concept.
There was feedback that some of the achievements weren't possible with certain factions and you also need to look out for achievements that favour a faction. I had several people say I had one in the bag because I could easily end a game with more models than I started with. In reality I didn't, but that was down to me still learning Kirai.
Meanwhile Mr Fantasy, being the sneaky out-of-the-box thinker that he is, found a way to maximise his achievements whilst minimising the risk to his crew selection.

Picture the scene, you have a sixty soulstone pool to play with. You know you can earn six achievement points if you let your opponent choose your crew and it contains no duplicates. How do you ensure that happens, well you only take a 28ss crew, of all unique figures. Yeah sure you can pick my crew, oh and you don't really have a choice because even dropping the cheapest minion will exceed the master's cache.... Oh and they are all unique so that's 2 points per game. Like I said, cheeky, and my hat is off to Mr Fantasy for thinking of it. This from the man who had only played three games prior to the tourny! Achievement Tournys level the playing field.

So if you're careful with your achievements, are there any other gotchas? Well if you look back to the score sheet you might pick up on another, but if not, then my advice would be to design a score sheet where you can differentiate on the achievements earnt per game. It sounds trivial but when you want your opponent to sign off on your achievements, its a lot easier to distinguish if you can see what was achieved that game.

If you follow these points then I think you'll have a great time and put on a unique event that veterans and newbies will enjoy. I know I did, even though I only managed a humble middle of the pack position and 24 of the 28-31 achievement points I was predicting going into the event.

And here's the KRAGS crew at Thunderstruck: Back Row Mr Guild, Mr Neverborn and the grinning loon, on the right, is me, The Aspiring Ressurrectionist, meanwhile in front we have Mr Fantasy and Mr Arcanist.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Achievements Unlocked - Thunderstruck Tourny Part 1 - Prep

This weekend I'm taking part in a one day achievement orientated tournament called Thunderstruck.

Our local henchman has put together a sideline event, with a maximum of 12 players, where you win, not through winning games, but the deeds of your crew. It's a 60ss fixed faction pool, where a set list of achievements is provided and the winer will be the person with the most achievements at the end of the tourny. With only three games to play, getting the majority of these achievements is going to require combos to be taken and so looking at what's on the list, lets see what's possible.

I broadly categorised these into definites, requires some work and gonna be hard. I'm intending to take Seamus and Kirai as my masters and max out my pool with a mixture of minions that suit both. This will mean leaving some toys at home, but will give me a choice of masters and play styles.

So on to the achievements, which I reckon total to a maximum of 54 points.

Play a game against x faction (upto 3 points)
Well I know Neverborn, Arcanists and Guild will be representing and that I'm likely to be the only Resser, so I should see a minimum of two points from the three available

Play a game with a fully painted crew, painted master and minion (5 points)
That's five easy points, because even commission painted is going to count.

Accomplish breakthrough / end game with master in opponents deployment zone (2 points)
I know this is possible with Kirai and might be possible if I use the copycat killer or dead rider to swing Seamus over there but it will depend on the strategy

Take two unannounced schemes, win one unannounced scheme, randomly choose your schemes (3 points)
Should be possible but might sacrifice a win

Play a turn after the first without doing ranged damage (3 points)
Should be possible with Kirai, but definitely not going to happen if I have my usual Seamus list on the board.

Cheat red joker on damage (2 points)
Hey it should happen at least once, even with my cards.

Requires some work
Win a game (upto 3 points)
Well we all want to win games, but considering that wont net a tourny cup, I'd be happy to win one of the three games/points available here.

Accomplish a master or faction scheme (2 points)
Yeah I generally don't play these, so will require work

Allow your opponent to choose your crew (2 points)
Thinking about it, it shouldn't be to much of a disadvantage as ill be picking the 60ss pool of compatible models.

Play a turn, after turn 1, with you control hand face down/up (3 points)
Now that should be fun! Blind cheating I have to try this one but the open hands idea will also be interesting.

Gonna be hard
End the game with more models than you started with (1 point)
Gonna be hard (for Seamus or Kirai) unless I can convert an opponents crew

Kill an opponents leader with your leader (1 point)
Not my style and I only really see me doing this if I avatar.

Kill an opposing master with your totem (1 point)
Technically possible, providing I can keep it alive long enough and its a finisher on an already beaten up master

Select no schemes / win game without schemes (2 points)
This little combo is very tempting to take together but its going to require some really good plays. I can't see me taking this combo and I definitely don't see a win on the cards if I do.

Win a game with none of your models on the board (2 points)
I don't think I've ever done that but gaining grounds 2013 might change that.

Play a turn after the first without doing melee damage (3 points)
This will be hard with either of my crews, unless I hunker down for a turn.

End game with 4 cards of 2 or less, or 10 or more (2 points)
Well what can I say, that's all going to depend on the cards

Play a game with no duplicates in your crew (3)
Well for Kirai that's damn near impossible and I'm not sure how my Seamus crew will look under the 60ss cache.

So my prediction is I end up with 28-31 points but lets see.

Last night a couple our KRAGS regulars tried out some of the achievements in their game. They made me pick their crews and randomly select their schemes. They played a hand with it face down and were having so much fun blind cheating that they carried on that way all night! They even started adding sound effects and musical numbers for their crews!

I guess, at the end of the day, tourneys don't have to be competitive, this one is just going to be raw fun!

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Faux Pas Club CoOp event 3 months in and Kirai realised

Last night our cooperative inter-club monthly event, dubbed Faux Pas, had its third outing. This event was created because there are pockets of Malifaux players dotted at the various clubs in Western Australia and the best way to mix up the local meta (and ensure you get games) is to get everyone in the same room. How do you do that when we are so dispersed? Well our answer has been to put on a schedule of events that moves between the clubs.

This schedule covers the many different and often overlooked aspects of Malifaux, last month being mysterious terrain and achievements.
This month was largely practice for the Thunderstruck Tourny being held here this weekend, which links achievements with the new gaining grounds 2013 strategies. Next month is Easter and as KRAGS (my local club) is hosting, we're planning a story encounter.

Three months in and its been good, we consistently get 8-10 people at these events and hopefully that number will rise. At the same time, I'm sat here puzzling over what more we can do to raise attendance. We continue to advertise in local outlets and on the local forums. We push hard in the run up to advertise and to ensure the regulars can attend and we try to have something different each time. All this is combined with the efforts of our henchmen, who is a very busy man. That said, I can't help feeling we've hit the glass ceiling. I know there are a lot more players out there, I just can't think how we can incentivise them to come to these events. Time will tell I suppose.

I think I can finally say I'm getting to grips with Kirai. I can now look at my hand and know what I'm going to need to focus on that turn.
- If I have crows then I'm evolving and summoning, or going for maul results in combat situations
- If I have masks then I'm moving minions around the board and I need to be looking to Datsu and Kirai to do this
- If I have rams then I'm healing things and again need to see what Datsu, Kirai and the Lost Love are up to.
- If I have tomes then I'm not doing a lot and I really need to card cycle with Kirai and bide my time, trying not to over extend myself.

All up, I'm happy that I've gone from the position in my first few games where I sat there saying 'I don't have the right suit' to 'ok I'm going to be focusing on this for the turn'.

I think the next objectives for me will be to try out avatar Kirai, to see how that changes my later game antics and to start looking at the time and place to use specific summoning strategies and when to use Jakume. Then it'll be on to looking at other spirits and seeing what they can add.

The other thing I need to do is work out is my summoning strategy dependant on who I'm facing. Last night I faced the Ortegas and I took a very risky strategy of sending off twin linked Shikome on one flank whilst Datsu and 3 Gaki went up the other. As someone who's just realised how important it is to keep Kirai near the fighting, this was not the strongest of strategies. It did work, but it could have gone horribly wrong at the same time.

(Two Shikome get the drop on a Death Marshall in last nights game)

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Malifaux on Vassal, Pandora Schinanigans and a visit to Mr Magpies Circus

Long weekends are a rare and complicated beast. You look forward to them, but then in the final few days before they arrive, I often find my time gets booked up, and before you know it, the weekend is over and you're left wondering where it went.

Something odd happened this weekend, and for some reason the entire long weekend was free. This gave me the opportunity I was looking for, and through stealth and cunning, I managed to notch up some serious hours on Malifaux.

First up was one of my international league games using the vassal platform. Over the course of two days and about four hours of play we took Kirai and Yan Lo for a spin in a 25ss shared slaughter scrap. Four hours does sound like a lot for that sized game, but vassal isn't as fluid as playing in real life and we were plagued with comms issues throughout the entire game. Nonetheless there's something cool about playing someone in Japan from the comfort of your own study.

Vassal is a great addition for a number of reasons and I encourage everyone to give it a try, but for me the overriding reasons why I value the platform are:
- it means I get to play more
- it means I get to play different people
- it means I get to play crews outside my usual meta
- the disconnect from the gaming board means I have to focus that much more, and in doing so, I learn new things about my crew.

At the end of it I took home my first slaughter win, an 8-0 win but that result belies how difficult a game it was. Going up against Toshiro and Izamu was terrifying, they are a superb combination and very difficult to put down. I went into the start of turn four, loosing the initiative and watching four of my crew slaughtered. I summoned backup and finally managed to fell Izamu before killing Toshiro in turn 5. Whilst Kirai was nothing short of a spirit factory, in a slaughter game, you don't really want to be resurrecting that much of your crew, because you are going to find it difficult to win on VPs.

I may have won that game using conventional scoring, but when it came to achievements I lost out. Killing three of the same minion and then killing five of my crew netted Joel two achievements points to my one for tabling my opponent. Achievements are turning out to be the great counterpoint to VPs and has made me realise that next weekends achievement orientated tournament (Thunderstruck) is going to be a real challenge.

After playing on the Internet, came a real life game vs Mr Fantasy, playing against Pandora. Now I've played against Pandora quite a bit now and although she gives me trouble in every game, I thought I had her tactics nailed. Not so, it seems! In turn four I watched as a companioned poltergeist and pandora held back a tide of my spirits from the treasure counter and then beat them up time and again using willpower duels to strike wound after wound. This I think was my punishment for felling teddy in one round of combat with two Gaki triggering off each other...

(Teddy wants the treasure)

And whilst my recollections of that scrap are going to be anecdotal at best, I thought I'd share pictures of the board we played on. Inspired by the Aethervox readings of Mr Magpies Circus, Justin went about creating this beautiful board. You can read more about it on his blog

Life under the big top

Both crews after the proceeds of Mr Magpies ticket sales

(Kade survives attacks from a Shikome and Ikiryo without taking a scratch)

And as to the rest of the week, well it promises to keep the heat coming. I have our monthly Faux Pas night with Outpost South tonight, my second worldwide league game during the week, a league game for our local achievement league on Friday night and on Sunday I'm playing in Thunderstruck, our one day achievements tournament. And with any luck ill get some time in on my beginners board as well!

Fun times.