Monday, February 10, 2014

Malifaux - A whole new world!


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

 On that first night of Malifaux gaming, I went along WOEFULLY unprepared. I've never been much into the "gaming" aspect of our hobby, preferring to spend my time immersed in the "painting" aspect of things. Having said that, however, I have played at least a dozen different gaming systems in my time, possibly closer to two dozen if I count those games played once or twice. As I've grown older I've realized that I absorb rules faster and more thoroughly when I learn them from another player. I learn more aurally than visually. I've also learned that most miniatures games follow a particular pattern, and there typically aren't many situations where luck can swing things completely out of your grasp. Generally speaking, in most miniature wargames, you can tell what's going to happen next. You can be confident the odds are either in your favor or stacked against you.

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. 

Upon arriving at my regular gaming haunt (my friend Eric's basement, we meet every other Tuesday night) I was met by my other gaming friends and an excited flurry of chatter that might as well have been in another language. You see, the other four players had either played plenty of games or had read the rules a couple of times and absorbed them fairly well. As there were five of us, I volunteered to sit out the first round and watch (and download my 2.0 Beta character cards from the Malifaux forums).

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.

Fast forward to last Tuesday night (we'd missed a gaming session in between to snow, which only seems to fall in Maryland on gaming night). In the weeks between sessions, I'd gone out and bought the small Malifaux rulebook (quite a good deal at $15), and ordered my Fate Deck (which sadly didn't arrive in time), and added a Guild Pathfinder and four Clockwork Traps to my pool of models to draw from.  I made sure I read through the rules and looked at my character cards. When I arrived at Eric's we again had an odd number (yes, and all of us are a little odd too) so I sat out the first round again. Watching the other games and reviewing my crew, I started to understand the things they could do. Finally, it was my turn to shine, or at least polish some of the tarnish off my initial experience.

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 ; )

Cheers
Dave

* Obviously it wasn't literally "tragic", but I felt the hyperbole was helpful in making my point ; )

24 comments:

  1. Thanks for a very interesting report - I'm thinking of getting into Malifaux and it's good to know that, while still fun, it's something a little different from the many other things I've played.

    Out of interest, do you know where the cardstock(?) terrain in the pictures is from please?

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    1. That looks like Terraclips terrain.

      www.terraclips3d.com/

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    2. Yup, definitely the Terraclips, Streets of Malifaux I'm pretty sure.

      Picked up that and the sewers on a sale. Enough cannot be said about how nice these sets are. I think about $65(set and clips) gets you setup with a nice gamespace.

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    3. Thanks Euan and Mike, I'll take a look. James

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    4. Sorry for the delay in responding, but yes, Mike and Euan both got it right. Thanks guys.

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  2. Nice to hear that you took and lickin' and kept on tickin'

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    1. I always find it easier being beaten when i don't know as much about the game. I guess it's because I'm less invested. Once that investment grows, I do become a bit more particular ; )

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  3. Having likely played close to as many different game systems as you have, I think you hit the nail on the head here, Dave. There is something about the way Malifaux works that I have never been prepared for until I am actually playing. Only when I'm actually in a game can I start to puzzle apart how I should be playing.

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    1. Having seen the game played in a tournament setting, I know there's a LOT more for me to learn. I'm just hoping the plans I make will pay dividends early. I'll really only be playing this with my regular gaming group, and who knows when they'll be ready to start on the next gaming project?

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  4. Great to hear you're enjoying this Dave and expanding your crew too!

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  5. Howdy Dave! Glad you finally got a Malifaux game in. I think you'll find it a little different from most games in that it is completely Scenario driven. Your Strategies and Schemes will affect which models you want to take. Killing all the models isn't always the way to go. We have a lot of Malifaux events happening at Malifaux. Feel free to stop by and say hi. Maybe I can coerce you to judge painting again ;). I'll be happy to show you different crews in action and answer any questions you may have. Enjoy the game. I think it's a winner.

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    1. Hi Shadowopal

      I think your autocorrect has changed the location you meant to type into Malifaux. Where about's are these events you are talking about? I'm happy to stop by if I get a chance : )

      Cheers
      Dave

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    2. Adepticon! Shadowopal is the henchman who jumped on the grenade that is the big Adepticon tournament this year!

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  6. I'm a little concerned here. Since you were learning the game, your opponents had a responsibility to teach you the game more than try to beat the stuffing out of you. My 2 cents. I hope that was the case.

    Back in the day the Ortegas, minus Papa Loco, were a good beginner's crew.

    I'll have to check out that mini rulebook sometime...

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    1. Thanks for your concern Geoff, but don't worry, the other guys have been taking care of me. To some extent we're all learning together. I certainly didn't mean to give the impression that my gaming buddies are merciless bastards racking up wins against the noob. Nothing could be further from the truth. Some of the guys are just really good gamers. And me? Not so much ; )

      (Although there was that round where it seemed Thomas pulled half a dozen 13s from his deck...)

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    2. Good to hear :) As far as all those 13s... he does know that it is not Like Magic where can construct your own deck, doesn't he?

      And for learning games... You win if you've enjoyed the game enough that you want to play again.

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  7. Dave, love the paint scheme and color choices with your crew. Any chance you can share what paint recipe you used?

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    1. Hi Lord Infestus. There are quite a few colors in there, is there a particular one you were interested in? The blues of the Guild Riflemen (and echoed throughout the rest of the crew) is based around a Vallejo Imperial Blue highlighted up with GW Thunderhawk Blue and, at the later stages, a little Vallejo Pale Sand.

      I'm a big fan of the Thunderhawk Blue, just the right amount of grey in it.

      Cheers
      Dave

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    2. Hi Dave. Where to start - the blue was one color mix on my list, the others were the flesh, the wood planking, Sidir's/McCabe's/Wastrel 'white', the 'Red' and finally 'Browns' on the horse.

      Agree on the T-Hawk Blue, one of the better colors in the new Citadel range.

      Are you bouncing back and forth strictly between Citadel and Vallejo 'Game' colors with your Malifaux work or did you pull any P3 into the mix? I know you had mentioned P3 for some of your previous projects but didn't wasn't sure how extensive you still make use of that line.

      Thanks Ahead,
      Gregg

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  8. Great looking stuff! I was wondering where you got your bases from? I've been having a hard time trying to find some bases with wood planks like the ones you used.

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    1. I talked to the creator (http://fullborerminiatures.com/) of the bases Dave picked up for his Malifaux models and we couldn't really come up with a good solution as the 40mm base was custom made that Dave is using. In doing some research I found these bases: http://www.bases4war.com/

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    2. awesome thanks for the reply! did you ask fullborer about making a custom 40mm base for you? the bases4war bases are cool but they look a bit too much like a ship deck (which makes sense). i also found these: http://bombshell-miniatures.highwire.com/product/resin-base-insert-cobblestone-30mm-6-1
      but i like the raised height of the fullborer bases.

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