A little over a month ago, I posted that I was going to be playing my first game of Malifaux that night. The request for a report on that game was pretty significant. I certainly wasn't expecting that kind of response from you, my faithful blog readers. I wanted to post a report straight away, but I didn't. I didn't post a report because I felt it would be hideously unfair to both you and to the game of Malifaux.
"Unfair?" I hear you ask. Yes. Unfair. Read on and I'll tell you why.
Neverborn face off against Arcanists in the streets of Malifaux
Knowing these things about wargaming (and my approach to it) lulled me into a false sense of security. I'd painted up a nice looking crew of models, I had my character cards (they came in the box with the models), and I had a scary sense of knowing exactly what I was getting into.
This turned out to be tragically* wrong.
The Ortegas (Guild) unsuccessfully attempt to rein in the activities of a Ten Thunders crew.
I must admit I felt a bit like Antonio Banderas' character in The 13th Warrior, sitting around the campfire night after night, slowly piecing together the language of the Northmen (in my case it was the language of Malifaux). Negative flips, +3 Rams, dropping Scheme Markers. It all seemed fairly impenetrable.
But I took my time, I watched what the guys were doing during their game, I compared their character cards to my character cards, and asked questions. Slowly I felt I was getting a handle on things. And then it was my turn to play. I was up against my friend Thomas, who was running his Decemberist crew, the same one I painted for him last year (see it here). Malifaux has quite a strange order of things before you actually get into the game. Unlike 40K, for example, you don't actually choose your army/crew makeup until after you know the placement of terrain, your deployment area, the schemes you'll be trying to achieve, the faction you'll be facing. This allows you to tailor your crew to suit all of the opportunities mentioned. Of course I've never done that sort of thing before, and not having played the game I had no real idea of how this would benefit me immediately, so I simply chose the models I liked the most.
When we leapt off into the game, I figured that the models would all perform best for me by doing the things that they looked like they'd be good at (Guild Riflemen sitting back taking long ranged shots, McCabe using his grenade launcher to blow away the big guys, etc). This is where things fell apart a bit - I discovered that missile ranges in Malifaux are quite short and that a rifle that was taller than the model wielding it could only shoot 14", and my "grenade launcher" was actually a "net launcher", not so good for blowing things up but better for slowing things down.
Suffice it to say that my first game went the way I expected it to (down the tubes in a hurry), but for completely different reasons than I expected.
The Ortegas clash again with remnants of Lucas McCabe's Relic Hunters.
We played a small game, only 25 Soulstones. My crew was led by Sidir Alchibal (toting a rather tasty machine gun) and had a few Wastrels, two Riflemen, and a lone Clockwork Trap (that I deployed incredibly poorly and then watched him clank ever so slowly towards the enemy).
I decided to be bold with my Wastrels and swaggered them forward at most opportunities, but taking the time to attempt a well-placed shot when appropriate. My Riflemen raced forward to take up position early, and then hunkered down, either firing away at an Ortega on my left flank or building up Focus on my right (this Focus helped me take out a Guild Guardsman with one shot).
I could see what I was doing right, and I could see what I was doing wrong, and I was developing potential strategies for future games (like possibly leapfrogging a trio of Wastrels around the board so they would constantly have one of them in a position to heal one of the others).
Although my second game was cut short by the late hour, I was pretty confident that even if my next five games of Malifaux end with me crying into my pocket handkerchief, I would learn so much about not only what I could do better next time, but how I could foil my opponent.
Unless, of course, that opponent is John Swann... I'm pretty sure he'll crush my crew faster than I can understand ; )
* Obviously it wasn't literally "tragic", but I felt the hyperbole was helpful in making my point ; )