The Brawltimore Tournament Circuit has been going for about 6th months now, and I could not be happier with the results. We’ve had over a hundred people attend more than a score of events run by nearly a dozen different pressgangers. Attendance at tournaments has increased, and  most stores are seeing a sizable increase in the warmachine playing community on a weekly basis.

And, because I’m a great big nerd, I’ve been grabbing and analyzing the data from the events all along.

So, without further ado, I present an analysis of the Brawltimore Meta.

Casters by Faction.

 

Well. Thats a big chart.

That is ever caster, in every list, from every Podium Tournament (ie one that grants bigger points for 1st -3rd), broken down by how many lists were written. Now, I know its not a graphical representation of how many times each list was used, but I do think that its a good way to see what is big, by Faction.

Things of note here, that I find interesting.

  • Each faction has around 13 casters, now. of those nearly half a represented for every faction.
    • Special Consideration to Trollbloods, Skorne Convergeance and Retribution, who each have only one caster left off the list (Borka 1, Makeda 3, Aurora and Vyros 1)
    • Skorne seems to have the flattest curve, bolstered by the greatest number (56) of lists being represented
    • Butcher 3 represents nearly 40% of all written Khador Lists
    • There are more Pig Casters Used (4) than Gator (3)
    • Cygnar is the least diverse faction.
  • Really, I see that pretty much every faction comse at this with a greater than 50% stable, so I have to be prepared for pretty much anything, from Butcher 3 all the way down the line to Morghoul 2

But lets take that a little bit further. Lets see what I am most likely to face, overall.

Total Caster Graph

well, if I am looking to prepare lists, I really, really want to make sure I have an answer for Butcher 3. He’s a menace to society, and also to the Baltimore Region. I’ve also got to prepare for Kreuger2, Bradigus, Asphyxious 2, Skarre 1, Damiano and Harbinger. I have to prepare for tons upon tons of troopers. I don’t think the top contenders here are really a surprise to anyone, except that maybe Deneghra 2 (6 instances) and Calandra ( 4 instances) are not as popular.

Its an interesting digest of who is being played, and how often, at the tournaments in the area. 438 lists in 6 months.

But, beyond that, though, there are two interlinked graphs:

 

This is how many players, and how many times those players have shown up to a tournament. There have been 15 tournaments, so its telling me that I have a fair shot of seeing 2 or more of Circle, Khador, Skorne and Cryx, and a decent chance of one of each of the rest. However, It could be any of a multitude of players for the top factions. Minions, however, are almost always represented, and will only be one of two players. Knowing who you’re gonna play against can be an edge!

This next one intruges me, because it shows me the popularity of the above factions over time.

There has been a recent surge in Trollbloods, after a pretty anemic start, and a winding down of Circle after a pretty strong showing throughout. Khador, while remaining strong, has started to wane a bit, though I’d expect that that’ll tick up as soon as Zerkova and Ruin are released. Ret, though, you almost never see, and Convergence is very hit or miss.

Finally, I have the per-tournament attendance, by faction. While its interesting data, I’m not sure its very useful. people availability really can cramp a single tournaments attendance. But there are solid masses of Red (Khador and Skorne) and Green (Cryx and Circle) in ever pole. It simply reenforces what I’ve learned prior: Plan for Butcher 3, Asphyxious 2, Kreuger 2, and Bradigus,

 

What other type of data would you like to see on our meta? What do you think of what’s up here?

While I was out at Lock and Load, I was able to pick up a box of Croak Raiders to bolster both my Minions force, and to potentially play with a Skorne caster or two.

These Bad Boys

Acquiring these became even more beneficial when I left the whole of my Skorne army in Seattle, and needed to have it shipped home, something its in the process of as I write this. Without Skorne, which I have been focusing on this year, to purloin my time, I needed something else to play for last weeks game night. With the Croak Raiders in my bag, I pulled them out and hastily assembled them, dojoing lists for them in my head over and over.

They all kept coming back to the same place: Barnabus. He’s got a knockdown feat, and there isn’t anything a ranged unit cavorts gleefully at than a caster who’s got knockdown on tap. Here, though, I run into trouble. The list I built was something like this:

Bloody Barnabus
-Bull Snapper
-Ironback Spitter
Bog Trog Ambushers (min)
Bog Trog Ambushers (min)
Gatorman Posse (max)
Gatorman Posse (max)
Croak Raiders (max)
Croak Hunters (3)
Gatorman Witch Doctor

The Concept here was to have the Gatorman Posse take the brunt of the action until the Trogs come in, have the Trogs overwhelm the edges, and get an assassination via knockdown with the Croak Hunters, and the Raiders. Lurking in the back would be Barnabus and the Spitter, looking to finish out anything causing problems.

I was really confident of the concept when I built the list, and though I thought it has some weaknesses, I was willing to move forward into the testing phase of list design. My first opponent was scheduled to be Cryx, which is fine, as I’ve played them myself for an extremely long period of time. There was a predicament, though, in that I know the guy likes to run Incorporeal models, and the list above has no solution ready for them.

I pondered the issue for a bit before realizing that I might want to try a bit stronger list against Incorp against Cryx, and that list would be steered by none other than our Gator Queen, Jaga-Jaga. I felt like I was teching, though, and that made me sad. In the end, he and I decided that we were going to bring 2 lists from now on, get better at list-selection.

Unfortunately that game was cancelled: I was violently ill and couldn’t make it out to the game store until Thursday, when I met up with some friends of mine at the shop in Bel Air. I was trying very hard to get two games in that day, and I may have pushed my luck a little far, as the first game intruded on the start time of the second much deeper than I would have liked, which made the end of the second game hurry-hurry itself. Next time, I do only one game.

First game of the night was against a the newly minted Cephalyx ‘Caster, Cyphon. I lent him both the models and the list, so it was based on the Cephalyx Army i built over the course of months of testing, just swapping out the caster and adding a Machine Wraith to cover the extra point.

The list was:

Cyphon
-Wrecker
-Wrecker
-Warden
Overlords
Agitator x3
Machine Wraith x3
Pistol Wraith x2
Mind Benders (max)
Mind Slaver (max)
Tactical Arcanist Corps
-Dominator

I knew my second game was going to be against a friend of mine who plays the Protectorate, and has a huge love of both colossals and Feora 2. I knew, almost exactly, what was coming, due to the battle report against him last week.

Feora, Protector of the Flame
– Revelator  [Bonded]
– Reckoner
– Hand of Judgment
Choir of Menoth
Holy Zealots
– Holy Zealot Monolith Bearer
Reclaimer
The Wrack
Vassal Mechanik
Vassal of Menoth
Epic Eyriss

If  you’re astute, you’ll have noticed what I noticed when I was thinking about the list I had conceived and how it was going to play out. All week, there was this sense of terror and foreboding as to how I was going to actually win these games using Barnabus:

Skarre + Incorp or Denny + Incorp will wreck everything I have, as the only Magical Weapons carried by the army are Barnabus’ Axe, Flesh Eater the spell, and the Gatorman Witch Doctors sacrificial Strike.

Cyphon Cannot be knocked down, and has both shield guard and sacrificial pawn to help him live through a withering barrage of Flaming Darts, bu I’ll have to be hitting him at his full def. 13 because he cannot be knocked down. Now, its not a stellar defense, but it is enough to make about 45% of the attacks miss, which’ll keep him alive.

Epic Feora is immune to fire, which is extremely good for making sure she survives against the ‘Raiders. Compound that with the Choirs Warding and the Hand of Judgments Immunity to Fire, and I have a caster that I’m not sure I can assassinate. Mostly, though, It was the Revelator, who I was unable to take off the the board without committing Barnabus, I wasn’t really looking forward to eating that one to the face.

though each game ended almost how I would have predicted it, the whole experience gave me a chance to sit down and dissect the army and how it works. Sadly, I don’t really know what that gained me in the end, as I feel that the inability of Barnabus to mitigate armor or wounds really created a situation where I was desperate from start to finish of both games.

There is a lot yet to figure out with the raiders, and I am pretty sure I am going to be taking them for another spin around the block tomorrow. We will see how that all pans out and whether or not Barnabus can fair any better.

 

LNL

 

The time is here! Wednesday I will be leaving to head out to Lock and Load, enjoying my one convention I get to go to and play each year.

I’ve not packed, as of yet, so once I’m done writing this, that’s exactly what I am going to do. I am extremely excited to go out there, see old friends and make new ones.

Well, maybe not make any. I’m not sure the Titan Train makes friends.

This does mean, however, that this post isn’t going to be a proper one, and I’m definitively not writing one for Thursday. I’ll Still be in Seattle on Sunday and flying back Monday, so the first real post I’m going to have is next Thursday. While there is a strong likelihood I’ll be gushing about LnL, there is also a significant chance I’ll have done all that I can for a number of days, and I’ll talk about something cool.

Like the Announcement of XCOM2, which has me frothing at the mouth. There may be other announcements and such, but we will see how well I keep up with them.

In addition to a wrap up post, I’ll be Tweeting all weekend about my wins, losses and the players I meet and hang out with, as well as any spoilers I come across.I’ll be trying to snatch up a book as soon as possible, and posting contents, spoilers and other awesomeness. Last year was a little lite, I am going to try and get a few more this time around.

Additionally, Some may have noticed that I am short a Mythology Monday post for the final God, Drakken. Getting players input on their character-turned god is something I want to get right, so we’ll see about that once I get back.

Alright, so, its short and sweet, but I’m excited to get out there, and in order to leave, I’ve got to pack, so I’m out!

Salphan, Accursed of Dreams

Other Titles: Dreambreaker, Doomweaver, King of the Unknowable

Alignment: NG

Weapon: Shortbow (Thought Piercer)

Major Domains:  Dreams, Nightmares,Mystery

Minor Domains:  Revelation, Honesty, Whispers

Totem Animal/Warform:  Owl (His warform comprised of Fire and Ash)

Holy Symbol: A Yellow, Clawed hand holding a lidless eye between its thumb and forefinger

Favored Appearances: Salphan prefers the company of those he deems educated and perceptive enough to understand his messages and whispers. To that end, he most often adopts the form of a scholarly elf with generally angular features, graying hair and golden-yellow eyes.The robes that Salphan wears are a dull, pale yellow and are so voluminous as to conceal all most all of his physical form. His hand, as well as his face, are able to be seen clearly.  Both forms he takes has the face as the focal point, each exemplifying the most primal and basic concepts of each. The man has a large, powerful forehead and a heavy, dominating brow, much more like a human than an elf. His nose is broken, bent, and flattened, and his deepset eyes glow with vigor and life. The Female has a thin face, with high cheekbones and large, wide eyes shaded with dainty eyebrows and a small, thin forehead. Both have thin, dainty hands best used for writing, with little use for weapons.

Personality: Salphan is quite generous, but he is also fond of mystery and the act of discovering what that mystery means, sometimes providing in strange and mysterious ways which no one understands until after the fact. He loves mystery, but knows nothing about the future, which leads many of his nightmares and dreams to be about discovering the truth about oneself or the past. He is extremely interested in seeing how the current races and peoples handle the truth of the past, where they come from, and what they are meant to be. Quiet, calm and collected, he is the smartest of the hotheads that are the Accursed, and though he speaks rarely, his counsel is often heeded when he does.

Teachings: Salphan teaches that the greatest of revelations comes from learning the truth and understanding the mystery beyond something. The key to these revelations and truth are gleaned from the nightmares and dreams that one experiences, as they are truly the greatest expression of ones inner self. Using these dreams and interpreting them to the highest standards of intellectual pursuit is the quickest and strongest method of empowerment. However, there is much to be feared in dreams and reality, and what some embrace, others fear. Nothing is quite so feared as knowledge that others do not understand, be wary of those who confuse your knowledge with the capacity and desire to do harm

Abode: Salphan lives on the edges of the Accursed lands in the Iron Marches in the Nightmare Spire, a black and bronze edifice of his own construction. the grounds of the spire are an intricate garden of basalt, rust and lead in a thousand razorsharp configurations with only one true path through.

Cultists: The Cult of Salphan hide their true nature not because they believe they are doing anything wrong, but because they find themselves, in their eyes, wrongly persecuted.  Interpreters of dreams and nightmares are seen as doing accursed work, and those who experience those same dreams and nightmares are of ill portent themselves. The cultists, however, see themselves as doing the right thing and helping the common person, or perhaps a king or noble of some sort, to more completely understand themselves. Few see the benefit of using the accursed for this type of assistance, but their knowledge and ability to interpret these messages has lead them to be the most accepted of the Accursed Cultists, a terribly held secret within almost all lands. 

Knightly Orders: There is a secret society of Warriors of Salphan, the Dreamstriders, who have learned to go into dreams and exist in them for short times. In the Waking World simple minutes have passed, but the dreamstriders have existed for lifetimes in the realm of the dream. In the Dream Relm, however, they seek out the dreams and nightmares of others in order to expand their knowledge and power of the great movers and shakers in the Waking world. Dreams are dangerous places, and they have scoured thousands on thousands and transformed into extremely skilled warriors.

Clerical Attire/colors: Salphans colors are a somber, dull yellow and an iron gray, typically taken together as Iron and Topaz. His followers will almost always wear a single topaz of some sort, often carved into a vague eye, somewhere on their person. Those who flaunt his worship wear a single earring featuring the Iron Eye and Topaz.

Followers: Mages, Clerics and some wiley bards are those who lean furthest to Salphans worship, and the majority are from those professions. Oracles, Soothsayers and other prophets also can end up worshiping him, though it is his ability to know the truth that they seek from him, not the actual future sight itself.

Its been a long, long time since I put up something That I’ve painted, and I figured I’d just toss some models up here, talk a little bit about them, and get on my way!

First, and most obviously foremost, is my Donate or Paint Challenge Model. I was challenged by my buddy Faultie to paint up, in 72 hours, a model or donate money to the cause of one gentleman, Marc Harrison.

This models concept was surprisingly simple: This model should be almost completely black. not just black armor, but black everything. In person, even that purple is almost indistinguishable from black, as are the hose and armor. most of what you see are the base, and flames. Oh, and of course the eyes. I has a blast painting this, and look forward to painting another pair, as they are up next.

My second favorite is a Raluk Moorclaw. I loved his sculpt so much after seeing this guy in my hands that I went out and got one, even though I know his rules are a little wonky and that he is unlikely to see use in even the strangest of lists for both Cryx and Minions.

When I paint a model that not for me, I love to toss a bit of orange in there, no matter what their scheme is. I love painting the color, and have found a huge variety of hues and colors that I can get without much effort. Though I won’t keep him for every long, this model will always be one of my favorite to have painted.

Speaking of paint jobs for other people, I also was able to paint a very enjoyable Morvahnna 2. This model just oozes awesome. I followed the paint scheme given, but managed to sneak my orange in their anyway.

Now, onto my models, Which aren’t many but I am fairly proud of them none the less.

The Fat Man himself, Dominar Rasheth, was the first model I’d painted for myself in many months, and the first Skorne model in possibly years, I don’t remember. Getting back into the groove with painting him was a little bit of a trick, but once I was there he was every bit of fun to paint that I had hoped.

The skin is always the hardest part to get right on these models, because I think I’ve forgotten more ways to paint it than I remember. The green and bone is a simple enough color, but the gold is a giant pain. With the PP solid gold coating terribly, and the need for extremely precise targeting with the paint, I’ve had to give up my favorite gold color and move for a more bronze-gold than the pale gold I initially wanted.

Painted alongside Rasheth, for obvious reasons, was my little adorable agonizer. Though he only took bare minutes to paint, he was a guy I use so often that I wanted to make sure he was taken care of. I’d started him probably three years ago, before I’d discovered a little bit more of what I can do with paints and painting. Now, I’m happy with him.

Then, I put my brush to a caster that was primed, because it was winter, and nothing gets primed in the winter. Makeda 2 was a model I wan’t particularly excited for, and once I started my excitement level dipped even lower. Sometimes, when painting a model your unexcited for that is also not coming out right is to change something up. Simply chaning her shirt from bone to black made her work that much better. In the end, I am pleased with how she came out, and am excited to paint up her second epic incarnation and see how she comes out as well.

After I finished her up, I took a venture into my bag and came out with some models that I had started way back when, and wanted to finish. This was before, like the Agonizer, I had learned a few new techniques like blending properly, mixing colors correctly, and a bit of patience. First to come out of the bag was Aptimus Marketh, a model I love in almost every situation. he took a bit of work to bring up to mediocre standards, but I wasn’t about to paint him up again.

Finally, and I just finished these two up on Saturday, were my Tyrant Commander and Standard Bearer. Both were frustrating to paint, again coming from a time that made me have to just straight up repaint a number of the models features, but also because they are insanely Skorneish: All that filigree is insanely complicated. I’m not a fan at all. At least the Tyrant Commander has useful rules and a fantastic model. The Standard bearer, while nice in a pinch just isn’t a model I am putting front and center every game. He almost killed my will to paint…

With all of that going on, I had time to do a little stupid Conversion. I love Darragh Wrath, and I love scythes, but the scythe on Darragh just wasn’t impressive enough for me. So, I found a pair of those old GW Zombie weapons and carefully made that weapon look scary as hell. I love it.

Do you know how hard it is not to go back to Cryx right now?

Even with all of that done, I’ve got a loaded painting table. I’ve pledged to have a fully painted tier 2 theme list for Lock and Load, to milk the most out of the Iron Arena Games I play, hoping for a Hydra or other awesome art print. In order to do that, I’ve got a Bronzeback, a Gladiator, a unit of Bonegrinders I don’t even own yet, and a Pain Giver Task Master. Additionally, I’ve decided to paint a caster a month, and up next is Mordikaar. Last, but certinaly not least, I’ve still got two exchange models I am going to paint up. One for Aggyfaces Legion of Ice and Fire, and one for my buddy Mike, who painted me a ginger Caliban!

 

Ostelaan, Accursed of Feasts

Other Titles: The Gluttonous One, the Sumptuous  King, Lord of Lust, The Celebrator

Alignment: CN

Weapon: Baton (Merrymaker)

Major Domains: Feasting, Lust, Gluttony

Minor Domains:  Beer, Hospitality, Entertainment, Cooking

Totem Animal: Hog

Holy Symbol: A Mead Cup, overflowing

Favored Appearances: Ostelaan is an extremely flexible being, preferring no given form over any other. He simply exists in whatever form pleases him most at the time. Currently, he has been seen parading as an exotic elf, with skin glistening and dark, pitch black eyes and even darker hair. He is well muscled, with strong lines and close cut hair. He currently favors men as his go-to partner, but will settle for women, if he’s bored.

He was adventuresome with his last favored female form, a voluptuous and powerful orc with deep green skin and prominent forehead and tusks. She sought no partners, but instead took any and all who came to her. Her feasts were lavish and grand while she lived among the orcs of the wildlands. She never took specific place as her home, and instead traveled the lands, throwing feasts with those beasts caught by her great hunting prowess and cooked by her own hands.

Warform: The Warform of the Accursed of Feasting is a hog, his body composed of crashing waves and roiling currents. His slavering maw if filled with huge, razor sharp teeth of ice, with a snout and hooves of solidified salt. Though rare on the battlefield, Ostelaan consumes everything in front of him when roused to combat, savoring the taste of the souls and essence of those opposed to them as they are dissolved in his endless stomach. see – Totem Animal)

Personality: Ostelaan is both  lead by his need to consume. He does not just devour food though,  but fills his days with lustful activities, beautiful dances are singer, and copious amounts of alcohol, though he never seems to become drunk. In his private hours he lives well, but his lavish feasts are events to be remembered for years. exotic and beautiful dancers entrance, bards and poets of ages past enthrall, meals prepared by chefs of impeccable skill and magnitude and as many forms of beer as he can get a hold of. He consumes everything possible in the highest quantities possible and lives for little more, and while under his roof, he will brook no hostility from his guests and ensures through violence if necessary that all his guests are treated equitably and with grace. Though he is also the Accursed of lust, it is not a violent, forceful lust, but the lust driven of visual desire and shared attraction. It is not, however, love, and he finds on ability to connect with the lovers he takes.

Teachings: Ostelaan teaches that life is best lived to its fullest, and that means taking in all the joys in life: food, sex, drink, and entertainment. He is the Accursed that cares least for the war, having little invested in it other than his love or Ferosh, the late Accursed of Ambition. Instead, hospitality and entertainment are to be both savored and sought at prodigious rates, leading to a wandering life looking for new and powerful experiences. Though he teaches that gluttony and lust are acceptable, he also stresses that one should be in shape to enjoy those activities, and actively encourages purging after consumption and abandoning ones partners. Shackles, whether emotional or physical, prevent one from ever experiencing everything that life can provide

Abode: The Great Hall of Banquets is located the the rear of the Iron Marches, and sits in the groves of leaden trees and rusty grass, but within its halls a thousand feasts take place each day, each one greater than the last. It is here that the Accursed gather between battles and conflicts, each one inviting their immortal followers and their demon servants.

Cultists:  As a cult, the followers of Ostelaan are hard to root out. Many could be just gluttonus and lustfull sons and daughters of nobles and rich merchants, but a few are truly dedicated to the Accursed of Feasts. Their parties are lavish, their feasts are impeccable, and their entertainment is sublime. Keeping their heads low isn’t really a possibility with the lifestyle they have chosen, but they hide in plain sight, encouraging their fellows to throw ever and ever more insane feasts, Hiring entertainers from far away lands, staging readings and plays from ages long ago, and even hiring writers to create new plays and poems for their own aggrandizement. Simply by exposing others to the lavish and sumptuous lifestyle, they are spreading the power and influence of their chosen mentor.

Attire/colors: Bold reds and vibrant blues are the colors of Ostelaan, though he has no specific uniform for them. The colors are simply pleasing to him, both in their contrast and their complement. Both him and his clerics prefer loose fitting, easy to remove clothing for multiple reasons, and have been known to even dine in the nude, when it fits them.

Followers: Those who follow Ostelaan tend to be wealthy, as it takes considerable finances to be able to pull off the style and grandeur that Ostelaan demands. Other than being wealthy, his followers come from all walks of life, from warriors to poets to scholars.

We’re starting our second contract with the OVR, and I’m going to change up the way I write my reports. Instead of going down to the nitty gritty, I’m going to do a more broad overview. We’ll see how I like this layout.

After collecting our payment from our previous contract, and splitting the various rewards between Ronin, Carric, and myself, both Ronin and I did some downtime activities. I researched a bunch into the mad wizard’s papers, finding that, surprise! He was mad. There are some bits and bobs that I can find information from, but others not so much. I can’t replicate his projects, at least not with the methods I am willing to use, but I keep the stash of knowledge for further research if I ever need it. I also take the amulet we found and put the gem into it. I want to be able to have it near me at all times, just in case.

A few weeks after our return, we are approached for another mission. A man’s son was recently ambushed and killed, and we are to find the body of his son and the family’s heirloom sword. We are joined by a Half-Orc Bard going by the name Rumy, who will be a welcome addition with the loss of Haltz.

We make our way to the family’s home, where we ask the father some questions, and then are given the opportunity to question the lone survivor. The man has not exactly been treated well – He was a coward, and they wanted to be certain that they both had the proper information and that he wouldn’t repeat his actions. Chained to the floor, the soles of his feet flayed off and eyes gouged out (Among other things), he repeats his tale – A man with a hammer “Carved to look like fire” attacked the caravan, killing everyone and ransacking it. He only survived by hiding in a ditch.

We then make our way into the Brackwood, a wonderful, peaceful woodland full of rabbits, deer and friendly birds. Or, rather, a dark and foreboding semi-magical forest of doom. After our first day, we come to a bridge, with bits and pieces of it broken presumably from recent flooding. Ronin made a scouting attempt across what remained, and only managed to stir up a… thing.

In my research, I had come across references to creatures made from magical runoff, and this fit the bill perfectly. It was made of mud, stones, and skulls of not-so-happy woodland critters, Somehow, the topic of paying a toll to the creature came up and it seemed pretty happy with the idea. After trying a few thoughts (And Carric pegging it with a few arrows), we managed to all get to the opposite side of the muddy streambed, where we figured out the thing was trapped within a small area around the bridge. As it was unable to come after us, we go happily on our way.

Or, for some of us happily. I, and at times some of the others, end up having headaches and being generally grumpy in this forest. This clears mostly as we get away from the forest on the third day, coming out to a clearing. We see a few farmhouses – One that looks empty, and one that looks inhabited. We decide to make our way to the empty one, as arriving at an inhabited place in an area plagued by bandits at nightfall probably wouldn’t be the best idea.

We arrive at the house, finding it deserted and empty – Well, except for the bodies of the family we found inside. Ronin and I take the time to bury them while Rumy explores the house and the surrounding area, with Carric finding a sheep for dinner. Ronin prepares it for us, and we sleep – Much better than we have in previous nights.

In the morning, we make our way out to the inhabited farmhouse, to which they unsurprisingly bolt themselves shut and try their best to ignore us. Carric talks at them, eventually convincing one of them out.

We explain what we were hired to do, and that we expect the local bandit king to have the sword. Since we’re going after him, he gives us some information – The bandits camp on the “Golem’s Blade” cliff, and while there is a road (and a diversion camp) that lead up to it, there’s also a way around the back.

We decide to surprise them in their rear, and after getting off track a time or two, we find their camp a short time after dark. Sparing no subtlety, we attack. Rumy sets off a few of the horses to cause some confusion, and we take out a few of them before they know what’s going on. Some get away to go round up and warn the others, and one decides to make a stand. Ronin goes after him while Carric stays to the shadows, raining arrows on unsuspecting victims. Rumy, too, keeps to the shadows, waiting until the opportune moment to use her bardic magic, shattering several bandits into bloody pulp. I use my own magic to hit some of them, until switching to my glaive to help Ronin dispatch the lone bandit.

The ruckus summoned a big, burly Orc from his slightly-fancier hut, along with two bodyguards. The men who we had been dealing with had stalled for enough time for several others to slip into some armor, and they began rushing us as well. Rumy took a shot at the boss and his guards, dealing some damage to them before she was even seen.

We’ll have to wait until next week to see what sort of mess we’ve gotten ourselves into.

I recently was introduced to a new and completely insane format of MTG this weekend, and I think I may have fallen in love.

Tiny Leaders is a format of MTG that seeks to mimic the Commander feel and gameplay while also enabling competitive, one on one gameplay.  As someone who has very little time to play commander, yet still loves the format, I completely applaud this venture.

Continue reading

Makeada

 

Makeda and the Exalted Court

Archdomina Makeda (Makeda1) has always been one of my favorites when it comes to Skorne casters. I’d jumped into Hordes just a bit before Evolution came out, so I remember only having three casters to play around with and she was easily the one that saw the most table time. Her second form came out with Molik Karn, and for a long time the two were intrinsically stigmatized in my head. I used to have a problem playing the more powerful pieces, though that is no longer the case, and with the two tied together so tightly, I never really got around to playing much of her. Xerxis eclipsed my love of Makeda, and when Makeda 3 came out, I was deep in the grips of Cryx. To cut to the chase, I have wanted to play Makeda 3 for a very, very long time. Getting back into Skorne has now given me the chance to catch up, and I am extremely stoked to be doing so.

Continue reading

Since I last talked about the cube back in September, my brother and I have been hard at work trying to improve it. It has been an extremely enlightening experience into the world of both game development and MTG set design.

Due to the way my brothers cube is built, it exudes much more of a limited set draft flavor than it otherwise would if it was constructed in the standard method of a singleton set. The interactions of the conspiracies with multiple copies of a card have really defined the way the draft is played, and its been a main focus of the cube since the start. I was extremely interested in how building a cube worked, and was thrilled when he wanted my input here and there. It is always going to be his cube, but I was glad to be of help wherever I could.

After our first few drafts, including a Saturday where my brother and I tried out a number of two player draft formats, it became clear that there were some problems with the cube. There were some cards that were consistently being left behind in favor of others, and there were cards that were completely dominating the set.

My brother had built the cube around some pretty solid archetypes, but even that wasn’t enough to topple a set of very good decks that were dominating the format:  Allies and  Graveyard Goodstuff. Both of those decks were nasty to play against because red had a ton of burn and white had awesome value in addition to the fantastic tribal and on the other side black had some really good graveyard manipulation and some big, giant, value fatties in green.

In addition to the two really good decks, the rest of the set seemed to develop into stalemates. early game would see one or two people break get some early damage in with aggro creatures, but after that it devolved into a massive wall of creatures set to lay into each other, but with few ways to break the deadlock, and most of them were in the two strong decks to begin with. had both Typhoid Rats and Deadly Recluse. This would lead to people avoiding going after the player because the trades were unfavorable, giving the deck time to pull out nasty big dudes and pull away. In contrast, had enough cheap, solid dudes that with its allies bonus and its body count it could eventually overwhelm an opponent. This was (is) further buffered by the Ondu Cleric, which, if played right, could net tons of life. Vigilance, which white has in abundance, is also extremely good when it comes to creature showdowns, as it allows you to have both offense and defense.

We could have tried to tone down the power of the two big powerhouses, but my brother felt it was a better path to go down increasing the synergy and power of the other decks, and I agreed heartily. I love crazy, insane, absurd games. There also was a decision to focus on building themes among the cube, archetypes that would be fairly obvious, build around type of decks.

Thankfully, Mark Rosewater is a very lucid, clear and explanatory MTG designer and has put out tons of fantastic articles on design, development and color concept. These principles gave us a starting point to kinda kick off from.

One of the things that he explained was the concept of “as fan” which is the amount of cards with certain features that will, on average, appear in a pack. its a simple formula that is based on the quantity of type of theme and rarity of that theme within a set. The article is here if you need/want more information, its very interesting to me.

We looked at a number of different themes, but quickly settled on enemy color pairs. This was a fairly easy choice because it allowed us to keep both of the powerful decks and gave us only three themes to build from the ground up.

We wanted fun, powerful cards that allowed us to have the same type of insanity that both Allies and Graveyard pulled off, but also fit the flavor of the card colors. Being an Izzet fan, I gravitated immediately to . From here it gets a little sketchy because we tried a multitude of different concepts. Suspend, Flashback and Slivers made brief appearances but were eventually rejected for a fun, simple and very Izzet theme: Spells Matter. In the mix with the good, solid spells that were offered in the spectrum, we added creatures like Jeskai Windscout, Goblin Electromancer and Guttersnipe. Not only were you going to be able to play awesome limited spells like Lightning Bolt, Think Twice and Assault Strobe, but you were going to get rewarded for it.

False Orders

While Strange, I think this card is great. Can’t wait to play it.

While we rejected Slivers for Izzet, I really liked the concept in . It really felt like the type of synergistic, evolving, growing beast that would be represented by the Simic colors. The original problem that I’d posed with the slivers was that they have inherently low toughness. Both colors supporsed some fantastic slivers, but they were easy to kill and never would be able to break through the wall of creatures the other side would definitely be building up. Don’t get me wrong, Red has some Slivers that are just massive, but only on the power side. Green, though, was the Sliver beef machine, and I argued that it better fit the design. Thus, we tackled the Sliver deck. In addition to the slivers in the primary green and blue colors, there were also going to be Slivers of other colors, and even a 5 color sliver hiding in there for good measure. This did mean that Slivers were going to be highly prolific, but it felt right, and I couldn’t argue with it. As that guy who loved playing M14 slivers, I just had to back the concept. The big problem that we are facing now is that the blue slivers just seem like too much. They have some fantastic abilities and are game changers, but are they going to blow out the games, we don’t know. Its definitely a place for playtesting.

Dude....

Dude….

Finally, we come to , the colors we struggled with for the longest time and simply ignored. While the other two color combinations took a ton of time to has out what cards were desired, what direction the theme should go, and what cards should be at what rarity, Orzhov took the longest so simply come up with a theme. It would have been easy to try and use extort or outlast, but we really wanted to come up with something that was a slightly different take on the standard bent of the color pair. What my brother ended up striking on was an enchantment matters theme, which allowed for us to branch out in a number of different ways, much like spells mattering. Interestingly, it also allowed us to seep tendrils of overlap into as well, with cards like Nighthowler and Sadistic Glee. Constellation looked like it would be a natural fit, but there were only a pair of cards that looked good at the end of the day, and they easily slid into the cube: Underworld Coinsmith and Grim Guardian. One thing I really wanted to press into the mold here that my brother had come up with was the prevention of the 2 for 1 in the vast majority of cases. Cards like Necromancer’s Magemark were high on my list to posit for consideration.

Vigilance!

Vigilance!

Now, with all the color pairs we were considering up and built, all we had to do was re-vamp the cube and get playing. Last night was the first time we were able to sit down and start card swapping, and we even got a pair of rounds in. 2 player drafting is a little strange, but we’ve started to get used to it. Each draft felt different, and we each won a round. He took the cake with a mean stuff deck, and I took the round with a 5 color Worldknit

What was different this time around was that we felt that we were concerned about the cards the other person was getting, and that every choice felt valid. Instead of just getting what you wanted and passing whatever else you didn’t like, it was a massive undertaking to pass up some of those cards.

I will say, I am looking forward to getting more games in with this cube and testing it out. It feels shockingly fun.

 

If you feel like giving it a go, draft it on Cubetutor and leave me any suggestions about the setup, execution and design. I don’t promise to heed them, but I will read them!