Starter Box Battles is a series of battle reports where we try to showcase either the starter box of a game, or a game played using only two basic faction boxes. So, for a seasonally correct Starter Box Battle, Ali and I decided to break out some Malifaux, and have a good old fashion game of Mother Nature verses the December Queen- Lilith against Rasputina.
A couple quick ground rules for SBB. First, we know in many (okay, probably most) cases the SBB won't be a "legal battle" by the rules, but it will give you a bit of an idea for how the forces in a game are supposed to be played. No entry substitution is allowed, but where possible, wargear or other abilities may be added- just not more models. Earlier or alternate sculpts of models are allowable, so long as only the content of the starter box is played. I think that's the list. If not, we'll add more as we go along.
For the Mother of Monsters box, Ali has the whole box painted up in some really sick colors. They totally look great. And violent. Even those tiny terror tots look good and dangerous. Ali's list for this game is the Master Lilith, a henchman named Barbaros, Lilith's totem the Cherub, and three minion terror tots. Ali upgraded Lilith with Wicked Mistress, Beacon Malifaux, and Living Blade.
For the Children of December, we have elements of my way-too-many-soulstones of Sergeant Tina's Frozen Hearts Club Band models. Granted, these are last edition models, but they still hold up pretty well. My list consisted of the Master Rasputina, an Enforcer Ice Golem, the totem Wendigo, and three minion Ice Gamin. I added December's Pawn on Rasputina (because I don't think I'll ever not take it), and Imbued Armor on the Golem.
We drew Squatter's Rights with a flank deployment. Our schemes of choice were Assassinate, Bodyguard, Power Ritual, Spring the Trap, and as always A Line in the Sand. Ali announces Power Ritual, keeping her Assassinate secret. I kept both Assassinate and Power Ritual undeclared.
I set up my forces split wide going for both corners to win the Power Ritual, planning to slingshot the ice gamin forward with the ice golem. To the other side I threw Rasputina and the Wendigo, figuring she’d be able to give him no end to cover, and being close to Rasputina allows the little furry critter to steal her attack, as well as for Rasputina to use him as an Ice Mirror target. The last gaimin stays in the back corner to drop the corner token there.
I win initiative, and activate the Ice Golem to lob both gamin towards two counters. Ali pulls Barbaros towards the midfield to cover whichever direction she’s going to need more support. Rasputina moves towards the corner, stopping just in range for the Wendigo to chain activate (using his “companion” ability) and rush along the back edge of the table. Ali realizes she didn’t leave a model in the back corner to drop a power ritual token, so Lilith bounces backwards six inches, drops the token, and bounces back to where she was before the turn began. The terror tot is far enough forward to “sprint” and make a double move in a single action, for 10”, getting into engagement range with an ice gamin and failing to do any damage. The last gamin drops the token and starts moving to midfield very very slowly. The last tot also closes to the gamin and slaps him around for severe damage. The armor on the gamin comes in real handy.
Turn two begins with Ali winning initiative due to my black joker showing up, and begins with two weak damage strikes from the terror tot against the ice gamin, doing one point of damage each. He blows up, doing two damage to both of the Terror Tots. I activate the low corner ice gamin, claiming both the squatter and dropping a scheme token. Ali claims the next squatter with the now-wounded terror tot, who then sprints off (via a handheld mask) to the midfield squatter. My corner gamin finally makes it around the building into the field.
The third gamin moves towards the corner with the cherub with him, and the Ice Golem steps up into the midfield to challenge the terror tots for squatter control. Lilith takes to the field, coming forwards towards the Ice Golem to try to support her little tikes. The Wendigo activates and rushes into the building in the far corner, reaching the squatter marker and claiming it. Ali’s cherub flits itself into the building where the Wendigo is swapping stories with a squatter, and starts shooting arrows at him- the nerve! The wendigo takes one point of damage and is slowed. Rasputina steps up, and not able to get any targets into range and los, steps up behind a tree for cover. Barbaros can’t quite reach either Rasputina or the Ice Golem, so pulls up in a position to charge either in turn three. <Squatter’s rights one point each, total score 1-1.>
Turn Three’s initiative is my red joker deciding I’m going first, and Rasputina thinks Barbaros needs to chill out for a bit. Three volleys of December’s Curse, countered by Barbaros’ armor and soulstone’s spent to negate damage puts a hurting on Barbaros but not enough to take the angry diminutive Nephilim off the table. Barbaros lets out a howl and charges Rasputina, attempting to turn her into a scabbard. A pair of attacks leave her injured, but still standing. The Ice Golem then charges the terror tot protecting the squatter, and bull rushes him to oblivion. The Ice Golem takes a point of damage from the tot’s black Nephilim blood.
Lilith then summons an illusionary forest, and pulls the Ice Golem into the terrain with Transfixing Gaze- which does one point of damage, but also opens the Golem up to Lilith’s free attack from the Thirsty Mandrake upgrade, which does two more points of damage to it after the Ice Golem’s armor. Her third action levels her blade into him again, doing more damage. The mighty Ice Golem goes from ten wounds to two in one turn. The Cherub opens fire on the wendigo, and nearly kills him off. The Wendigo is tired of getting shot, and closes with the Cherub- unable to swing as well as he is slowed. The last terror tot moves in on Rasputina to help make sure she never escapes. <Squatter’s rights one point each, total score 2-2>
Turn Four starts with perhaps the most intense initiative flip I've ever seen. I throw a four compared to Ali's five. I decide since most of the cards lower than that are in my hand, spending a soulstone to reflip initiative isn't a bad idea. She figures she needs to try to win initiative this turn, so it makes spending one worthwhile as well to her. We both then flip fours- making her moan about the wasted soulstone a bit. Ties mean reflip, and the third time's the charm, right? She throws another five, which doesn't look too promising until I drop a two on the table. Yup.... three flips, and the highest card involved was a five. Crazy.
Ali decides that Barbaros needs to finish off Rasputina and score some points. A pair of attacks from Barbaros succeeds in a weak and a severe damage flip, the second of which I reduce the damage of by three with another soulstone. Rasputina's seeing stars, but not down for the count. I retaliate by activating the Ice Golem. Action 1 is to backpeddle a bit- still in Lilith's engagement range, but out of reach of the black blood. The Golem then gets in two attacks (one from his ability to generate one extra AP for melee attacks only), scoring seven points of damage into Lilith, which she reduces by three as well- lots of great cards being thrown when soulstones are spent! The stinking terror tot is just in range to charge Rasputina, and manages to reach her and gets only one weak damage flip. Oddly, on the second attack, her Sub Zero ability
(ending the attacking model's turn) finally occurs, but as the terror tot had no more actions it didn't matter in this case. Wendigo mauls the Cherub, and manages to hit the little bird-baby for severe damage, blowing it to pieces. Wendigo then eats his fill, healing to full because he killed a model (and then ended his turn, which technically was about to end anyway). The little terror tot still engaged with the Wendigo stabs at it for a pair of weak damages- hurts it, but not enough to kill it. Rasputina is unable to disengage from her close combat, but strikes Barbaros for a severe Biting Chill, doing one to herself as well. Lilith manages to beat the Ice Golem to death, who then explodes... not doing enough damage to Lilith to finish her off. Lilith then moves back towards the midfield. <Squatter’s rights one point each, total score 3-3>.
Ali wins initiative yet again, with an equally appalling 6-7 throw. Barbaros manages to land only one attack, and Rasputina survives. My wee ice gamin charges Lilith, and two anemic attacks manages to do nothing but annoy the mother of monsters. Sigh... so much for my Assassinate points. Lilith refuses to attack the Ice gamin that will simply blow up and kill her (even with my decidedly impressive taunts of "I'm right hear, come on! Kill me now!" a la Schwarzenegger from Predator), but does use Transfixing Gaze to slam the Wendigo into a wall for one point of damage, and then a pair of Wicked Vines to finish off Rasputina! <Assassination: 2 points. Score Me 3, Ali 5>. The one-wound-left Wendigo attempts to maul the crap out of the terror tot...but that requires hitting it. And that didn't happen. The tot finishes off the Wendigo, and moves back towards the corner. The game unmercilessly fails to end. <Squatter's rights one point each: Me 4, Ali 5>
Not much to say about turn six. I like the fact that you have to keep a plan B for games that continue, but it seems especially in smaller games what's left on the table is so lackluster that the critical moments have passed. Lilith beats feet (which Ali refers to as "strategically retreating") to run to the corner to escape from being killed by a gamin, and nothing on my side is fast enough to reach her-especially when she runs away through terrain. The Terror Tot drops a scheme token in the corner, and that's about all that happens. The game ends. Ali has two tokens for her declared Power Ritual scheme scoring three, and I have two for my undeclared one. <Me 6, Ali 8>
Thoughts on The Mother of Monsters box: 25 soulstones right off the sprue, a couple quick upgrades away from 30 points. Lilith is a strong combative Master with some neat synergy. The terror tots can be wickedly fast for scheme running. Barbaros is a good mid-size mauler who has some neat synergy with certain upgrades. The cherub not only adds a limited ranged support, it allows for models nearby to do interact actions for cheaper. All in all a strong list, and full of models you could build onto easily for larger games. Oddly enough, the fact that a lot of the damage tricks of this box being only one point of damage, which made the Armor of one or more everything in my box had except for Rasputina pretty irrelevant. Adding a healer or further support isn't a bad way to go from there. Also, since one of the ways you can play this list allows the terror tots to grow into young nephilim (and the young to grow into mature potentially), the nephilim box is an good choice to follow up with as well.
Thoughts on the Children of December box: Also 25 soulstones, also easily boosted to 30. Honestly, my favorite models of the Frozen Heart club aren't in the box: those being the Acolytes and SnowStorm. However, that's a personal choice, and the Ice Golem is a solid model which turns at least two gamin into good scheme runners by tossing them turn one. The Wendigo is still one of the best totems in my opinion. Adding a box of December's Acolytes to this (or any really) Arcanist starter box gives you a nice platform to build from.
Surprise of the game: I totally discounted the terror tots form the start. Having honestly never played against them, I expected the brutal little brats to be nothing more than speedbumps- or in the case of Rasputina, popsicles. Not only does their sprint give them a ridiculous ability to cover the field, the synergy the have with certain upgrades is really impressive. Not at all a bad use of four stones.
Well, I hope you all enjoyed this battle report. If you're reading this before the first of the year, make sure to go vote for Malifaux (or your game of choice) in our Campaign Contest. Merry Christmas, and a Hobby New Year!
The Second Class Elitist.