Before I cancelled my ticket to the UK Malifaux Nationals I managed to get in a practice game with a friendly volunteer down at Dark Sphere. We ended up with the Turf War Strategy, a Flank Deployment, and a Scheme Pool of Spread Them Out, Research Mission, Vendetta, Bait and Switch and Claim Jump.
I was running the Viktorias while my opponent was practicing for a tournament that weekend with English Ivan. Not noticing English Ivan was a Summoner, I didn't take Taelor, but did bring a newly assembled (ish) Vanessa and a Ronin.
I deployed half my crew first, pushing the Viks up front, with the Student of Conflict and a Prospector further back. I'd forgotten that you can't make Masters Fast which is why you have practice games before you go to tournaments.
My opponent deployed everything in a little clump all together, explaining that Ivan works by pulsing out loads of Distracted markers which then act as a bonus to his crew rather than a penalty.
Johan was placed to let her move in either direction to remove conditions from people as needed, Vanessa was positioned to head for the centre line and do her magic shooty thing, and a Ronin skulked away from everyone with a job of going and getting Scheme and Strategy points.
My plan was to get Spread Them Out and Research Mission, with the former being relatively easy with the speedy Viks crew, and the latter relying on my opponent to put out too many of their weird shadow markers to be able to pull them back once they realised what my Scheme was.
The spooky shadowy dodgy people put out loads of shadowy markers, starting to build up their Distraction levels.
Near the end of my second turn, I pushed a Viktoria right up in front of Ivan's crew. I was willing to stone for initiative and was confident he couldn't single activation kill a Master, and with Servant of Dark Powers on both Viks, they'd heal up easily by killing targets.
This had the added bonus of being intimidating as all get out and the hope was to draw models away from winning the mission to try and slow the Viks up.
I discovered that after you move away from one of the creepy Daeva minions, you've got to win a Move duel or it then places into base to base and gets a free attack. Super annoying.
Operation "Do A Murder" then happened. Twice. Closer Vik activated, pulled her sister up, then killed the Daeva who was bothering her before charging into Eva Havenhand and murdering her to death. Finishing the first Vik's turn, I then immediately activated the second Vik's turn, and had her run around some woods and obliterate Gibson De Walt.
This is the first time I've really had the Viks go into someone hard, and it was very satisfying to turn three enemy models into a fine mist in short order.
Vanessa was on the centre line, and had started getting bothered by Daeva at the end of the first turn.
Vanessa managed to fail to blow up Corvus and friends, and very quickly gained a lot of friends as she got injured and baddies got summoned into base to base with her.
Johan and the Student of Conflict joined the fray to kill the Daeva, but Rook and Mr Mordrake joined the fray from the Explorers' side.
Rook then went to prove how mean the Department of Ungentlemanly Affairs are by trying to kill the Student of Conflict. His first attempt was unsuccessful due to some very unlucky card draws.
Unfortunately, it didn't last long, and Rook added to his "ruthless baddy" tally by beating a teenager to death. What a rotter!
I noticed that the big spooky boy that had been summoned when Vanessa was attacked had an aura that stopped Demise abilities, that would mean that Big Jake would stay dead rather than popping back up again, so he legged it away as best he could.
Unfortunately, I was running out of models in the places I needed them while the DUA had been reinforced by enough summoned shadowy creatures that they still had plenty of actions, and the tide started to turn.
While I managed to deny a few points through sneaky play and violence, and we ended turn 4 on a 4-4 draw, I was just out of models, and Ivan was able to score a couple of points to earn a 6-4 win in total.
Overall, I was super happy with how this went. I definitely made some "not played this game in forever" mistakes, but Ivan is widely reputed to be one of the stronger new crews in the Explorers Society, and I kept the pressure on for a lot of the game.
Really, there's not too much specific I'd change, once you exclude "get the rules right". I'd definitely bring Taelor instead! The Ronin was excellent and I can see why people bring them. I think the rest of my lessons were around crew placement, and who needed to be near who to make the synergies in the crew work. I also want to try a few other Versatile models to see what they can add to the crew.
Plenty to think about while I work on getting more models assembled and painted . . .