Saturday, August 31, 2013

State of the Blog: August 2013

I started this blog a month ago today, largely as a personal motivation tool in an effort to push myself to take my hobby a little more seriously.  I honestly had no expectations about readership, I was primarily interested in keeping to a schedule and logging my thoughts on the new rules as Malifaux 2nd Edition rolled out. Imagine my surprise when, after only a scant few weeks, I was up to over a thousand individual page views!

Thank you to everyone who has stopped by and had a read, especially to those of you who keep coming back.  Whether you got here through Reddit, Facebook, Pinterest or the Wyrd Forums, I appreciate you taking the time to visit. I'm always looking for feedback and advice, whether its for painting, blogging, playing, whatever.  Please drop me an email or a comment on an article you read and I'll write you back.

Project Guild - Progress Report

One of the commitments I have made is to finish painting all of Malifaux's Guild Faction by August of next year. Between launching this site, a family vacation and a road trip to Gen Con, I haven't gotten much painting done this month (most of the work that does show in the progress report was the result of finishing mostly-done models).

Completed This Month:
Enslaved Nephilim
Guild Rifleman
Lady Justice (v1)
The Judge (v1)
Scales of Justice (v1)
3 Death Marshals (v1)
Purifying Flame
Pale Rider / Lone Marshal

Currently in Progress:
Lucas McCabe (foot)
Lucas McCabe (mounted)
Sidir Alchibal
Brutal Effigy
Avatar of Revelation

Lady Justice M2E Box
Avatar of Amalgamation

One of the challenges that I face with this project is when to call it complete.  Is Project: Guild done when I have every discrete playable model?  Every version of every model?  All models that can participate in a Guild Crew, such as Nurses or Sebastian? What about limited and nightmare editions?  These are questions I need to answer over the next eleven months.  Please let me know what you think. 

Better Know Your Malifaux

Coinciding with the early release of the second edition rulebook this month I launched my first article series Better Know Your Malifaux.  The goal is to document my thoughts on each model, one by one, as I work on Project: Guild.  The tone and content of the articles is meant to be one man's opinion and overview of each model's capabilities, not to be a comprehensive strategy guide - for that I highly recommend the Pull My Finger wiki. 

So far I have completed four articles, covering Perdita, Francisco, Enslaved Nephilim and Santiago.  As long as I can keep painting and photographing miniatures at a decent rate, my goal is to do two articles a week until I finish all of the book one Guild models.  At that point I'll reassess, but if the momentum is there this might become a much larger project. 

Playing Some Malifaux

Last week I ran my first series of demo games at X Planet in Mississauga, my FLGS.  Over the course of five hours we got three games in and I need to say that I love the new speed of the game!  I only had my Guild and Resurrectionist cards with me so Jacob Lynch had to remain in the box, but Perdita, Sonnia, McMourning and Justice all got some table time.  The new players had a good time, and I was surprised at how quickly those who had never even played 1.5 picked it up. 

As always, tabletop play is the best way to discover new interactions and learn new things about your models.  I learned, in the same interaction, both how very vulnerable Papa Loco is to Wp duels and how effective the Death Marshals' Pine Box is.  Papa Loco spent a high card to escape the coffin at the start of the Death Marshal's activation only to face two back-to-back attempts by that same Marshal to shove him back in.  Now that the ability has a built in suit it costs very little for the Death Marshal to hold on to his victims once he has them. 

X Planet will be launching a Malifaux 2nd Edition League on September 16th where the focus will be learning the new system and hopefully growing the player base.  If you're in the GTA, come on out and play.  We just had it announced yesterday that the second wave of the open beta will be launching on October 7th, so we will likely not see much of the new Masters until after that, but they will be welcome once their rule are out.

It's been a great first month, thanks for everything!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Better Know Your Malifaux 004: Santiago Ortega

A perfect counterpoint to the stern Francisco and the smouldering Perdita, Santiago loves to be in the thick of it, relishing the heat and press of battle.  Unburdened by the responsibilities of leadership, he has put his energy into honing his near-combat prowess and has developed an exceptional talent for delivering hot death to the enemy from the mouth of his peacebringer.

Santiago shows a singular focus, doggedly pursuing his task regardless of pain or circumstances.  Shrug Off allows him to remove a Condition that has been applied to him, helping him bypass such effects as Poison and Burning.  When he is wounded, his effectiveness actually increases as "¿Es Todo Lo Que Tienes?" kicks in, putting his Sh above even Perdita's skill level and providing a positive twist on damage.   Even when Santiago has taken enough damage that he should succumb to his wounds, Hard to Kill keeps him the game, fueling his recklessness.  Despite this he is not invulnerable, having fewer Wounds than most other Enforcers and only average defenses.

Although he likes to be in close, Santiago doesn't want to get too close; He is not a close combat expert and his capabilities tail off substantially when he is engaged. Santiago is at his best standing several inches back from the main fray where he can rely on I'll Cover You to fire on enemies his more melee-oriented Family members have engaged, using Companion to activate right after they charge.

Santiago has a few interesting options available for his singular Upgrade slot. Tormenta De Plumo goes well with his placement on the battlefield but doesn't take advantage of his enhanced shooting under "¿Es Todo Lo Que Tienes?".  If you want to shore up his survivability, Lead Lined Coat provides him with armour.  Alternatively, Plant Evidence can add a silver-lining benefit to Santiago's eventual demise by helping you achieve Scheme Marker objectives.

Probably the best Upgrade for him is Hermanos De Armas which lets him provide his Crew with more mobility, launching close combat allies toward the foe or helping reposition the team.  For added efficiency, Hermanos De Armas costs a zero action to use which Santiago would otherwise only use for the situational Shrug Off.  This gives him something to do every turn and that works to keep the team together.

Whatever role you give him Santiago approaches it with gusto.  Using him in your Crew is a matter of balancing his dual nature.  He wants to dive into the fray and rapidly close the gap with the enemy but he needs to hold back and keep at range.  He wants to take some fire to unlock his entire potential but he mustn't take too much or he goes down.  Bring him to the table and you can feel his urgency and caution as you strive to seek the right balance.  Get it right and he can be a game changer. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Better Know Your Malifaux 003: Enslaved Nephilim

Tasked with the impossible mission of guarding humanity's Breachside expansion from Malifaux's native population, the Ortegas quickly learned that might alone would not be enough to hold off the Nephilim threat.  No matter how many they brought down, the rapid maturation of the Nephilim ensured that there would always be more right behind them.  The family needed information on the enemy's movements, their tactics, their leadership.

A support Totem through and through, the Enslaved Nephilim has average to low stats in every category with the exception of his remarkably low Wk and lack of a Cg range; That ball and chain is a serious impediment to his mobility.  Thankfully he comes with a built in solution: Shackled allows him to move a nearby friendly model (or even himself) up to six inches towards an ally.  His main attraction is his ability Influence, a low-level version of Perdita's Obey.  Although it is not nearly as effective at targeting enemy models due to it's low Ca, Influence provides a key advantage to the Family, allowing them access to another valuable out-of-activation move or action.  With the Enslaved Nephilim's involuntary support the Family has another tool to either get Francisco or Papa Loco up the field more rapidly, or allow Santiago or Nino to fire off another shot.

Beyond these functions, the Enslaved Nephilim spends more time as a victim than he does victorious.  His melee attack Ball and Chain is laughable and his Peon status ensures that he won't be much help directly when it comes to Schemes.  Black Blood is primarily thematic, as is the Nephilim's lack of Companion - he is not interested in aiding the Ortegas any more than necessary.  Finally, he has Unimpeded, allowing him to move through severe terrain with little effort.

A tragic figure, the Enslaved Nephilim is cursed to aid in the destruction of his own people.  Bound not through promises or coercion, he is a slave to his Master's will through the magic chains he wears.  His bondage compels him to share his knowledge with his tormentors, calling into question the moral character of the Ortegas that they would engage in such a low practice as slavery.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Better Know Your Malifaux 002: Francisco Ortega

It's a tough job, being the elder brother of a prodigy. With the incapacitation of the Ortega family patriarch, tradition would dictate that Francisco step into the role and assume command of the Latigo compound.  Francisco knew, however, that in the categories of leadership, strategy and charisma he was over-matched by his younger sister Perdita.  With the best interests of the family in mind, he stepped aside and allowed Perdita to take the reigns. During the fallout of the Event, while Perdita was bed-ridden, Francisco found himself thrust back into the leadership role, balancing his time between caring for his comatose sister and fighting against the Neverborn threat.  With Perdita now returned to the battlefield, Francisco has happily resumed his second-in-command duties.

Francisco has a decidedly average stat line for a Henchman but this is reflected in his Soulstone cache of five and his cost of eight; He is not expensive relative to many of the other models of his station.  Where his sister is better than him with a Peacebringer, Francisco excels at using his Dueling Sword. His Combat is at the top end of Henchman capability, and rivals even the best of Masters.  Add Flurry on top of that and Francisco can take down even the toughest foes with his blade.

With an average Defense, a relatively low Wound count and his sole defensive power, Finesse, only providing a modicum of protection while he is engaged in melee, Francisco needs to rely on cover and maneuverability to survive. Thankfully, maneuverability is something the Ortega clan brings in spades with a half dozen movement actions between them, in addition to the ubiquitous Companion.  Taking the Wade In upgrade gives him some sorely needed defense, adding both Hard to Kill and a healing ability to keep him in the fight.

As either a Leader or as a member of a Master's crew, Francisco can provide some solid versatility to your force.  With the Hermanos de Armas upgrade and his "Enfréntate a Mi!" ability he can move his allies into position, or out of trouble.  El Mayor rounds out his ability to be a support Leader, providing a much appreciated Defense and Willpower boost to a nearby ally of choice (it also comes from the rare class of abilities that carries over past the end of the turn).  When used on Perdita this drives her defensive stats to stratospheric heights.  If on the other hand you would rather Francisco provide melee support, Wade In and Diestro allow him to tie up the middle of the board and have his allies fire at will into the engagement.  Finally, although he is not the best shooter the Ortegas have, he can provide substantial fire support for either assassination (Vengeance Bullet) or crowd control (Tormenta de Plomo).  Unlike with Perdita, the Thalarian Stone is actually an option in some scenarios since his Defense and Willpower are low enough to take nearly full advantage.

For all of his utility though, Francisco is happiest when he is engaged with the enemy blade to blade, his favourite cover being the whirling dance of melee combat.  He confronts the enemy with a charge or a challenge and hold them in place, freeing the rest of the crew to focus on the mission at hand.  He sees it as his role in the family, and it is a burden he bears with pride.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Better Know Your Malifaux 001: Perdita Ortega

In all of Malifaux, nobody has a quicker gun than Perdita Ortega.  As the head of her household, the young Perdita leads the largest enclave of Neverborn hunters in the Guild's employ, honing them into a lethal weapon to be used in the ongoing conflict with Malifaux's native population.  From the Latigo compound located outside the bounds of the city proper, Perdita and her charges fight nephilim and gremlins alike to shine a light into the darkness surrounding Malifaux. The fallout of the Event had left her comatose, trapped in her own mind while her family struggled to keep the fight going without her.  With her recent recovery, Perdita has a new sense of purpose.  As the Avatar of Revelation she sees truths that other can't, and she decides in her own time what knowledge she needs to impart, and to whom.

Perdita has always been hard to catch but easy to kill and in second edition this remains the case.  Among Masters she is tied with Lilith for the highest Defense in the game and has the second highest Willpower after Zoraida.  Combined, this makes her the hardest Master to flip damage against.  Her defensive trigger Quick Draw keys off of having an enemy model lose a Shooting duel against her, an opportunity she is well equipped to provide.  Should an attack get through however, she has little to mitigate the damage.  Perdita is at the low end of Wounds for a Master and does not have any damage reduction abilities to rely on.  This mean that she can be quite dependent on a good cards to survive.  Thankfully, this is supplemented by her ability to refresh her hand with Hero's Gamble.

Offensively, Perdita is quite capable, being equally effective bringing her Peacebringer to bear in close combat and at range.  Up close, Point Blank gives her a built-in ram allowing her to automatically trigger Critical Strike.  From further away she can set up Finger on the Trigger which allows her to dominate a large piece of the board for a turn, punishing the enemy if they have the nerve to shoot or charge.

Despite these strengths, Perdita's biggest advantage comes from her Family.  She and the other Ortegas all have the newly-templated Companion ability that allows a model who has it to activate immediately after a friendly model (limited to two total activations in a row).  Unlike in the previous edition, the Companion ability is not specific as to who can trigger it, leading to some interesting combinations.  Perdita's Relocate ability allows her to discard a card and push 8" towards a friendly Family model at the start of her activation.  This is an amazing ability that, combined with her Obey action and her totem's Shackled and Influence, gives the Ortegas their incredible ability to be in the right spot at the right time.

No other Master in book one has access to as many upgrades as Ms. Ortega, though not all options are as viable as others.  Her extremely high defense and Willpower make The Thalarian Stone a poor investment while Tormenta De Plomo and Hermanos De Armas are better off being allocated to her brothers.  Perdita is the only Guild Master without a Limited Upgrade, making it an easy decision to take Badge of Office if the Encounter dictates that she needs to survive.  Her own exclusive upgrades can fill in the few remaining gaps in her capabilities with Os Veo giving her two more defensive abilities, Aura Ancestral steeling her and her family's resolve and Trick Shooting adding to her already lengthy list of ways to bring pain to the enemy Crew.  A word of caution though, Perdita is one of the most expensive Masters in the game (in that she has a low cache of two) and taking a full allotment of Soulstones along with all three upgrades will cost 10 of your 50ss in a typical game.

Overall, Perdita rewards an aggressive yet tactical play style that focuses on having her and the Family in mid-range distance from each other as they move about the board accomplishing their tasks.  They need to be close enough to each other to offer support but they do not require the base contact that was the hallmark of so many first edition lists.  Perdita can get in a lot of trouble if she gets bogged down by multiple enemy models, so it's a good idea to make sure she is not left too exposed.

Her crew at this point usually consists of Nino, Francisco, Santiago, Papa Loco and the Enslaved Nephilim.  Beyond that, she can benefit from the inclusion of both Guild Guards and Witchling Stalkers to provide lower cost Minions to fill out the ranks.  In limited situations, the Executioner or Peacekeeper might be called for if the list needs some more survivability, but for the most part the Family likes to rely on each other... to the exclusion of others.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Five Things I Learned at Gen Con 2013

Just got back from a great trip to Indianapolis for our second annual trek to Gen Con.  There was a lot to see and do, more than anyone can reasonably accomplish over a 4 day period, but along the way I learned a few things.

The Con is a Big Deal

I of course know that it's a big deal for the assorted gamers and attendees, but I didn't realize how big a deal it is for the city of Indianapolis.  Every local business got into the spirit of the weekend, with customized menus (TriForce Burger anyone?) and promotions (the Mariott gave custom dice out to the first 75 rooms to check out in the morning).  The convention was front page of a number of papers each day of the event and I've been told that it was a topic of anticipation in the city for about two weeks leading up to the event.

Service is Friendly in Indy

I noticed this last year, so this time out I was deliberately looking for it.  We received excellent service at nearly every opportunity - at the hotel, at the con and at the restaurants.  Even away from the convention centre, at the gas stations elsewhere in the state, people were friendly and nice to be around.

The food was great too!  Best of the bunch were Harry and Izzy's with their prime rib sandwich au jus and California Pizza Kitchen with their Gorgonzola Pear Pizza.

If You're Doing It Right, You Can't Tweet

We were absolutely slammed for things to do!  Between the events we had registered for, the games we demoed, the things we bought and then subsequently played, the people we met, the tournaments, seminars, food and drink we were running from the moment our eyes snapped open in the morning until they snapped shut each night.  I had set out to track my trip with photos and updates, but that fell by the wayside after Day One.

Being Canadian Sucks in the US

Specifically, for any type of internet access.  WiFi connections are notoriously poor within the hall, even at the steep price of $15USD a day.  Adding data roaming to a Canadian smartphone runs about $40 for a 48 hour period for a piddly 50 megs, so that was not a viable option.  Without the roaming plan I was going to be charged a dollar a meg and 75 cents a text.  My best bet was to leave my cell data off and simply hop from router to router, borrowing internet from generous local businesses.  Not a great way to keep up on Twitter (or update the blog).

Also, I drink my coffee with milk, something that is unheard of (and as a result unavailable) in Indiana.

Games are Fun

With very few exceptions, I liked every game I played at the convention.  That doesn't translate directly to endorsements or purchases for everything, but even for the ones I didn't love I could usually find something unique or interesting that got me thinking.  Sadly there were a few games out there with buzz that I didn't get close to (The Duke, Sentinels of the Multiverse, Kings of Artifice), but what I did see there was excellent.

I enjoyed Eldritch Horror, Warhammer Discwars, Showdown, Bushido, Titanium Wars, Pathfinder: Rise of the Runelords, The Red Dragon Inn, Smash Up: Cthulhu, Star Wars: Edge of the Empire and the MERCS dice builder game.  Biggest surprise for me was Warhammer Discwars, scheduled for release before Christmas.  It captured the flavour of a Warhammer battle in a short period of time and married a unique movement mechanic to a handy little bluff mechanic.

The most important thing from the whole trip though was of course the acquisition of my beloved second edition Malifaux rulebook.  Now that I'm comfortably back to my life I look forward to taking the time to write-up and review the finalized models within.  First up: The Ortega Family.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Gen Con 2013: Day One

Some quick updates from our first day at the convention:

We arrived last night at 9:30 and headed straight down to the convention hall to get our badges (better than fighting the will call line in the morning).  The line was incredibly fast, the volunteers were fantastic!

Went to see the Wednesday night open house for Wyrd. We arrived a little late and things were starting to wind down. I got to look at Evil Baby Orphanage and Showdown. Both looked good, but not for me right now (M2E is a big enough project at this point). 

Our first event on Thursday was six foot tall* King of Tokyo, was at 10:00 am and I missed it!  I was busy waiting in line for my Malifaux fix. I got my hands on the book, Tara, and the necessary decks (Guild, Neverborn and Outcasts).  That having been said, the line moved very quickly. Cheech grabbed his first ever Malifaux models - Vanessa, the M2E book, a fate deck, and the Outcast faction deck. Thanks to a generous donation earlier of a first edition Viktorias crew, he should be good to go!

We ended up playing King of Tokyo afterwards anyway (regular size). Cheech won the game and got the promo Space Penguin monster as a prize. 

Demoed Warhammer: Discwars at the Fantasy Flight booth, looks like it could be a great game!  You get a decent mass combat feel while still having a smaller game footprint and play time.  There is a great little bluff mechanic along with list-building, and a lot less randomness than I thought at first. Definitely worth a second look when it comes out. 

I tried out the upcoming MERCS dice game.  It was good, but I'm not sold on it.  It mostly just made me interested in researching dice builder games. 

The boys got a little further than tipsy at the Colts Grille, drinking Dragon's Milk from Sun King Brewery.   I've been asked to give a shout-out to Chloe for excellent service.  This place does a great job of catering to gamers during the con.

Tomorrow is the big day, all of our major events!

*as advertised, but the monsters were more like three feet tall.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

GenCon 2013: Gaming to Go

This time tomorrow three buddies and I will be hitting the road for GenCon!  For those of you who don't know, GenCon is one of North America's largest and longest running gaming conventions.  It has also become the clock that the gaming industry sets its watches to with many publishers and developers either saving their release dates to coincide with the event or bringing along demos of upcoming goodies to show to the masses.   From their website:

Gen Con Indy is the original, longest-running, best-attended, gaming convention in the world!
For more than 45 years, Gen Con Indy has set the trend in gaming and has broken attendance records. Last year, more than 134,775 turnstile and 41,000 unique attendees experienced Gen Con Indy.
Featuring game industry veterans, award-winning authors and artists, jaw-dropping costumes, thousands of events, a growing Family Fun Pavilion, and the newest games on the market, Gen Con truly is The Best Four Days in Gaming™!

Gen Con is more than just a convention, however. It's a passion, a community, and a unique experience that keeps people coming back for decades. 

Flashback: August 2012

It's 2am on a Wednesday night, I can't sleep.  I have already spent several hours sorting through my Warhammer room (a vestigial name, I hadn't played a game of Warhammer in there in years) and I'm not happy with what I've found.  Games I've never played, list for armies that I'd never fielded and half-finished projects piled on top of half-started ones.  I found myself in a room full of potential gaming with little actual gaming to show for it.

Dissatisfied, I go back upstairs to evaluate.  What's the point of all this stuff?  Am I a gamer, or am I just a game voyeur?  What about real hobbyists, people who actually paint their models, play their games and take pride in their work, what do they do?  I decide to find out.

One hour and a dozen Google searches later, I hammer out a quick message to my friend Cheech before turning in for the night: "Dude, GenCon?".

Present Day: August 2013

A year has gone by since our-last minute, ill-planned four-man journey to Indianapolis.  Last year we had only eight days to get ready for the road trip, and we allotted only a single day to explore the hall.  Our research over the course of the week was less about "what shall we do there?" and more along the lines of "what is GenCon?".  All of the events were booked weeks before I even first hit the website, as well as every hotel within half an hour of the convention hall.  Still, as we stumbled bleary-eyed into our car for the return trip on the Sunday morning, we knew we ha participated in something special.

This year will be different.  We hit the website as soon as it went live and got our badges, we signed up for the events we were looking for and we are planning on being there for three full days, Thursday through Saturday.  We know what we want to see and we've booked it, but we have also set aside a bunch of time to roam around and enjoy the con without the lethargy of an all-night drive on our backs.

If you're going to GenCon, maybe I'll see you there!  Who else is going?  I plan to spend as much spare time as I can in the Achievement League.  I'll be the (only?) guy wearing a Stinkmunk name tag.  I will also be endeavoring to tweet the things that are awesome while I'm down there, although that's a new thing for me and as such is subject to failure.  I can be found at @TheStinkmunk.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

M2E Beta: Following the Leader

After you've selected your Leader for your Crew, what remains is filling out the rest of the team.  With the exception of Avatars, which will be forthcoming in the next round of the beta (we hope!), the remainder of the models in the game fall into the three lesser stations: Peons, Minions and Enforcers.  While different in power-level and cost, each of these stations fills a much needed role within a Malifaux Crew.


Peons are the lowest of the low in the game, with point costs generally staying at around four or under. The station trait Peon doesn't itself carry any mechanical weight, although all Peons released so far are also saddled with being Insignificant, meaning that they are not able to take Interact actions. They are also unable to take Upgrades and are often barred from scoring for Scheme and Strategy purposes.

Any discussion of Peons must also touch on Totems because, although the groups do not overlap completely, nearly all Peons are Totems (and conversely nearly all Totems are Peons).  In fact, of the first wave Beta models there are only three Peons that are not also Totems: Electrical Creation, Mindless Zombie and the Pigapult.  The first two are disposable and the third is more a form of equipment than an ally.

Totems on the other hand are infused with a good deal more individuality.  Representing their Leader's will on the battlefield, Totems can be thought of strategically as living (or unliving) Upgrade cards.  They usually emphasize one part of their associated Master's play-style, or help cover up a weakness.  The unassociated Totems do the same thing but may be hired by anyone in faction, following the usual limit of one per Crew.

Getting rid of the Totem is generally doable with the expenditure of a few Action points, but their low Soulstone price-tag makes it a quandary for the enemy - Do you spend the resources to take out such a small part of your opponent's force?


The majority of the non-leader models in a crew are generally Minions.  A step above Peons, Minions are characterized by their ability to interact with the table and help set up Scheme markers.  Most Minions can be taken in multiples, filling out the Leader's ranks and providing some insurance for when your opponent eventually kills a few of them off.

Within each faction, Minions are generally themed in concert with one of the Masters or Henchmen but can be taken for any crew with ease.  One of the themes of Malifaux 2e is opening up the restrictions on which models can be played when, instead rewarding themed play through synergy bonuses.  This way its still clear which pieces 'go' with which others, but allowing the player to over-ride this system for a specific Scenario, Scheme or for their own personal style.


Last of all are the Enforcers, the game changers of your Crew.  Enforcers tend to be between seven to 11 Soulstones in cost, plus they have the ability to take a single Upgrade, meaning that they are an expensive investment.  A Rail Golem with the Imbued Protection Upgrade will end up costing 13 Soulstones, more than a quarter of your entire Crew in a 50ss game.

Thankfully, you tend to get a lot of game effect for your stones.  Most of the Enforcers have a primary attack stat of 6 or 7, usually with at least one Trigger.  The majority of them also usually have at least one defensive ability, such as Armour or Hard to Kill, or a load of Wounds available.  Perhaps most characteristically, the Enforcer group is where we see the majority of the 40mm and 50mm base-sized models, giving your Crew an option to exert greater control on the table.

The line between low-end Enforcers and high-end Minions can be a little blurry, with models such as the Ten Thunders' Samurai seeming like good candidates for the Minion Station and the Razorspine Rattler being easily confused with an Enforcer.  The big difference is the access to Upgrade cards.  Now at this point in development the number of cards available to each Enforcer is relatively limited, with some having access to only one or two viable options, but this will change as the game continues to roll out.  Presently a handful of lucky Enforcers have custom Upgrades built specifically for them - Lenny has I'll Love It And Pet It, as an example.  This is a glimpse of the potential that Enforcers have for the future as the story continues to develop and the meta game evolves.

Putting It Together

For every rule there is an exception and Malifaux 2e has its fair share.  Lots of models break the rules, and the rules were built with this in mind.  Totems who are Minions, or even Enforcers.  Models which act as Scheme markers or Corpse markers.  Totems that are hired in pairs or even triples.  Non-Leaders with Use Soulstones.  In a future article we will discuss the biggest example of this: the new prevalence of Dual-Faction models and their interactions with the Upgrade system.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Project Guild: 100% in 2014

They say that the best way to hold oneself accountable to one's goals is to share them with someone else, so I'm going to make a public claim and then it falls to me to back it up:

I will complete The Guild before GenCon 2014

It might not seem a lofty goal, but my plan is to do this while also not losing my job, neglecting my kids or alienating my wife, so that does indeed make it harder.  Added to this difficulty is that the guys at Wyrd intend to release a great number of models this year, all of which must also be completed for me to claim successful completion of this task. As a sub-goal, I will also photograph every model and put them up on the internet as proof of my success - I just need to find a good place to host the pics.  Any suggestions?

You can track my progress here on Stinkmunk's Malifaux Completion List.  It's not as awesome or as fancy as Mako's Malifaux Model Tracker but it will suffice for my needs.

As of today's date, I have completed 62% of the models, but the bad news is that I've left the hardest ones to last.  Avatars, Nightmares, out of production figures.  Still, I hope to succeed, and I have 53 weeks to do it in!

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

M2E Beta: Building a Better Henchman

The original Henchman system from Twisted Fates was Wyrd's attempt to create a hybrid-style model that could act as either a powerful addition to an existing Master's Crew, or as a stand-in Master in its own right.  Each Henchman was the leader of a sub-set of Special Forces miniatures who were thematically and mechanically linked to their boss.  Any Master from the appropriate faction could hire these Special Forces models with or without the associated Henchman, but they were limited to only two models and restricted to only one type of Special Force per Crew.  Crews led by a Henchman were free to hire as many models as they chose from their Special Force but had other, sometimes quite severe, hiring restrictions in place.  This created a limited tool-set that, while mechanically promising, generally felt underwhelming and predictable when placed on the table.

The problems with this entire setup were twofold.  First of all, to ensure that Henchmen were not unbalancing to the game when taken as part of a Master's Crew, they had to have a reduced power profile as compared to their full Master brethren. Second, not enough Special Forces models were ever released to carry the Henchman's Crew through every scenario.  These two factors combined to give the old system Henchmen a very restricted feel that often felt over-matched by their Master opponents.

Malifaux 2e took a good, hard look at these problems and provided three solutions: Advance the current group of Henchmen to Masters, dismantle the Special Forces and start from scratch with a new look at the Henchman role.

The Graduating Class of 2013

Each and every one of the original Henchmen have now graduated to full Master status.  They have also acquired all the rights and responsibilities that go along with that title. They are reportedly each getting their own Totem, their own Avatar and of course, that juicy third AP.  Just as importantly though, they are also getting an advance in their story, bringing them in from the fringes and placing them front and centre of the action.  This week's release of Wyrd Chronicles #7 updates Molly's story, while the short from Wyrd Chronicles #5 gave us what might be a glimpse of Lucius' future.

One of the big changes for this outgoing class is that they are losing their ability to team up with their old Masters. No longer can Molly support Seamus in the field, nor can Lucius teleport Lady Justice from the Deployment Zone into the thick of combat.  Von Schill is no longer invited to mercenary for each and every Faction.  Instead, each of these recent graduates is going to need to forge a new path, with new allies and a host of new rules.  This is quite likely the juiciest area of the edition change - existing characters getting new toys.  It's going to be a lot of fun!

Not-So-Special Forces

The Special Forces were a really cool idea, and if they had been fully fleshed-out over time they might well have become interesting alternate crews for each Faction while still providing a source of variation for the Masters.  When Storm of Shadows came out however, and the Ten Thunders dual-faction mechanic was ascendant, it became clear that Special Forces were not going to be the major focus many players expected.  Now in Malifaux 2e, Special Forces are dead.

This is a good thing.  All of the models that the Special Forces consisted of will transition nicely to the new system, in all likelihood they will retain all of their flavour and utility and simply lose the hiring restrictions.  Wyrd's stated reason behind this change is to let people play with models they want to play with, but the underlying philosophy of M2E is that complexity of rules does not equate to depth of game.

Running the Crew (Like A Boss)

Now that the graduating class has safely moved on to their new roles, Malifaux 2e has room to introduce the new and improved Henchmen curriculum.  Under the new system, the role of Leader in an Encounter can be filled by either Masters or Henchmen, each of who bring their own Soulstone cache to the table.  Either station can lead a Crew of between 26 to 40 Soulstones, with Masters being the exclusive choice for Encounters larger than that and Henchmen having the monopoly on games 25 Soulstones and under.  Henchmen can be included as members of a different Leader's Crew as well, usually costing between seven and ten Soulstones to hire.  Henchmen all have access to up to two Upgrades per game, which ones are available being defined in part by their role in the Encounter.  Most importantly, Henchmen always have access to the game-defining ability Use Soulstones.  That means that no matter their role in a particular game, they can buy suits, prevent damage and add positive twists just like the Masters can.

Sounds great, So who is taking up this remodeled station?  Malifaux 1.5 had given us a wealth of interesting characters to choose from, and in most cases the new Henchmen are individuals who felt just a little too large for the tag of 'minion' in the previous edition. The Judge, Sebastian, Myranda, Yamaziko.  There are a few new faces in there too with Hannah and Fingers fleshing out the Outcast and Gremlin factions.  All told there are 19 Henchmen in the first round beta, each with their own play-style and flavour.

Let's make sure we're being perfectly clear about what we're talking about here - Malifaux 1.5 had 22 Masters and 6 Henchmen across all four books - 28 Leaders.  Round one of the Malifaux 2e beta has 21 Masters and 19 Henchmen, that's 41 Leaders, in the first book alone (this figure includes the late removal of Leviticus and Rusty Alyce and the inclusion of Tara).

Balance of Power

Not everything is roses for the new Henchmen however.  Wyrd has explicitly stated that they will generally be lower on the power spectrum than their Master allies.  This is to balance against their ability to be included in Crews where they are not the Leader.  After all, it is now possible to run a Crew that is composed exclusively of Henchmen!  The target for Henchmen is to be well-suited to running smaller games, not to be on par with Masters in every Encounter.  Still, since each model tends to have its own niche in the structure of their associated Master's plan, there is potentially room to bring a Henchman led Crew to a mid-sized game and catch your opponent off guard.

Next week I'll be heading to GenCon 2013 in Indianapolis to get my copy of the game.  When I return we can take a deep dive into specific models and how there finalized versions have changed since the beta.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

M2E Beta: Perdita Ortega Has A Dozen Ways To Shoot You

Malifaux second edition brings a handful of change to how Masters function and to what their role is on the tabletop.  The changes to Soulstones have rounded off the extremes of their game play, both offensively and defensively, moving them slightly towards the middle of the power curve.  That having been said, they are still very much the centerpiece of your Crew, a unique tool to apply exceptional pressure to your schemes and strategies.  Has the streamlining of M2E resulted in the oversimplification of Masters?

Let's Do The Math

To get a handle on the changes that Masters have faced we will continue to use Perdita as an example, taking a look here at her total utility.  In Malifaux 1.5, Perdita had 15 different functions, each identified by its own boldface title.  In M2E, that list has been shortened to eight.  At first glance then, it seems that she has indeed been downgraded.

As you dig deeper though, New Perdita's comparative depth begins to reveal itself.  Some of her 1.5 functions we counted earlier were actually Triggers.  Her M2E version also has Triggers, but these are now listed as sub-headings under the associated Action and not as discrete entries in their own right.  Perdita has two different Triggers on her main attack, Witched Bullet and Critical Strike.  Adding these to our total, New Perdita's utility count is up to ten.

Perdita 1.5 had a useful ability called Gunslinger which allowed her to use her pistol as a melee weapon, an ability absent from her M2E incarnation.  Her card also shows no sign of her powerful (+1) Fast.  In both of these cases, the abilities aren't missing as much as they have been cleverly integrated into the new rules set to give a more seamless experience.  The Perdita's Peacebringer Attack Action now lists its range as both Ranged 14 and Melee 2, encompassing the Gunslinger functionality.  Her absent Fast got taken care of with an even broader brush.  In 1.5, every Master in the game had access to an additional (generally specific) AP through such abilities as Melee Expert or Casting Expert.  Now, as a standard rule, all Masters are allocated 3 general AP at the start of their activation.  This perfectly replaces Perdita's Fast, so she is now up to 12 in the utility count.

New Perdita is also missing See the Unseen and Bullet Bending, both of which have received major changes in how they work but are now available on her Upgrade cards.  See the Unseen is not quite as powerful as it once was, but Bullet Bending became a lot more useful, no longer requiring a successful cast or imposing a penalty on Perdita when she uses it. Adding them to our total brings us up to 14 options versus the 15 on her older self.  So really, what has she lost?

Out With The Old

A brief comparison shows that she has lost Immune to Influence, Evasive 2, Anticipation, Spellbreaker and Execute.  Arguably one of Perdita's most broken ability in first edition, Immune to Influence seems to have gone by the wayside for everybody in the new edition, not appearing on any Beta profile.  Instead, Perdita now has access to Stubborn, giving her opponents a negative flip when they target her willpower. The loss of Evasive 2 is compensated with access to Bulletproof +2, which to me signals a thematic change in the character more towards being a gunfighter (more on that later).

In the end, Perdita has lost only three abilities that have not been replaced with a similar function: Anticipate, Spellbreaker and Execute.  In the context of a new rule set, I consider these the only true losses as they are areas of the game she no longer has access to.  Perdita no longer has an offensive deck-shaping attack, a team condition-removal spell or a low-accuracy, high damage flip attack.

In With The New

In exchange for her three lost abilities we discussed above, Perdita has picked up access to over a dozen new functions, a veritable arsenal of ways to affect the game. There is a theme here - New Perdita cares a lot less about spell casting, both her own and her opponents', and a lot more about shooting.  She has six new abilities all about putting lead into her enemies: Point Blank, Witched Bullet, Geometric,  True Mark, Leadstorm and Vengeance Bullet.  As the head of her household, she has a renewed focus on teamwork, emphasized by her open-ended Companion ability, Relocate, Cover Me, Circular and Ortega Presence.  If her survivability is an issue, she can pick up Thalarian Doctrine or Badge of Office to help keep her on the table, and if there is a strategy or scheme that simply must be completed, she can grab Plant Evidence and Finish the Job.

This total base of functions, between her new card abilities and her available Upgrades, means that Perdita now has access to a total of 26 Abilities, Actions and Triggers, an increase of 11 over her original incarnation.  Future editions may very well increase this number even higher.  The chief difference here is that you now have to make significant choices when you choose Perdita, choosing and paying for the ones you want to bring.

Wait, I Have To Pay For Them?

Well yes, you do.  This seems to be a sticking point for a number of people in the community, the feeling that we are being forced to pay for something that was previously free strikes a deep blow to the human psyche.  I think it's important to remember though that we always paid for our Master; We paid for them with our Master slot, our most valuable Crew creation resource we had.  In addition, games of Malifaux are played with larger stone totals now, without being larger in terms of number of models fielded, so we are paying the higher prices from a larger pool of stones.

This might sound like I'm splitting hairs, but let's do the math here.  In Malifaux 1.5, Perdita's crew box cost 25ss leaving Perdita with a cache of 2.  In M2E, the same selection of models costs 29ss with the same cache of 2.  But Malifaux 1.5 recommended the game be played between 30ss and 35ss for a standard game while M2E recommends playing with 50ss, all of which means that you have an additional 15 to 20 Soulstones to cover the cost of your more expensive models and the upgrades they need.

Here's an example of what you can do with the additional Soulstones using Perdita's first edition starter:

Malifaux 1.5 (35ss Game):

  • Perdita, Francisco, Santiago, Nino, Papa Loco. Cache of 7.
  • 5 Soulstones Remaining.

M2E (50ss Game):

  • Perdita (Aura Ancestral, Os Veo, Trick Shooting), Francisco (Wade In, Diestro), Santiago (Tormenta De Plumo), Nino (Hair Trigger), Papa Loco. Cache of 7. 
  • 5 Soulstones Remaining.
In this particular build, Perdita is able to catch her entire 1.5 edition essence along with some added general utility while still keeping her Crew together.  She even has the budget to upgrade the rest of her crew with a few choice abilities.

With the Beta for book one closed and the books themselves off to the printer, the time for player input is over.  What we do know is that there was also a final round of closed-door play-testing done by Wyrd prior to shipping off the rules, so we may still see some changes in the finished book.  When I finally get my hands on Malifaux M2E Book One we will revisit Perdita and get more specific on her options.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, August 02, 2013

M2E Beta: Now With More Perditas!

Perdita has a special place in my heart as she was my first Malifaux model, the first I bought, the first I painted and the first Master I fielded. She was also the first I had to have replaced, since she came with a pretty severe casting error and was missing most of her right arm.  As a result, I actually had my first interaction with Wyrd's customer service before I flipped my first card.  It seems fitting then that my primera señorita be the first model I write up for Malifaux 2e.

Masters in M2E

A lot of noise has been made about the changes coming to Malifaux in the upcoming edition with strong opinions both for and against the changes.  Setting aside the general mechanical differences and focusing instead on the individual models, it seems that the M2E Masters have borne the brunt of the change.  Gone are the crowded walls of text that made up their stat cards, replaced instead with a boiled-down essence of the character.  Many of the Masters' abilities have been shifted off of their main cards and have moved over to a series of Upgrade cards that can be purchased at option during Crew selection prior to an encounter.  Again, like seemingly every issue that has arisen during the Beta, this is viewed as either a fantastic idea that is broadening the scope of the game and future-proofing Malifaux or it is a major fumble that is sapping the spirit and character out of the game.

The largest complaint seems to be that a lot of Masters are less powerful than they were before.  Between the changes to Soulstones, the general standardizing of Master abilities and the retemplating of powers in general Masters can do a lot fewer different things now than they could in the past.  In 1.5 Perdita had 15 different abilities, actions, triggers and spells including four different zero actions.  In M2E she has been reduced to eight.  So the question is, have the Masters traded their souls for a more accessible and less tactical game?

Awesome or Option?

For me, the answer is relatively simple.  In the first edition of the game, there was one amazing Perdita Ortega, in M2E there are 120 distinct Perditas at you disposal.  Some combinations of Upgrades are better than others, some are downright silly, but it doesn't change the fact that I now have considerably more options available to me than I did before.  Added to this, as the game continues to roll out, and as more Upgrades are created in the future, the number of ways I can field my Master jumps.

Under the previous edition I played Perdita exclusively for the first dozen or so games until I got my other Masters completed and then I got bored.  She was great, but she was the same, each and every time.  Her Companion chain all but demanded that I take her with her Family and I quickly grew tired of the looks I would get when I explained the benefits of Immune to Influence to my opponent.  Perdita went onto a shelf, then into a box, along with the rest of la familia.  

Now she's back, and I couldn't be happier.  She has been revitalized with a new rules set and a new purpose.  Like her fellow Masters she now has the ability to choose Upgrades that give her abilities and actions specific to the flipped strategy, your schemes or your personal play-style.  Her added flexibility makes non-family models a much stronger option than they ever have been before.  The number of choices that you need to make when you decide to field her has gone through the roof.    Less tactical indeed.

Next time I'll discuss what she's gained, what she's lost and how she'll play in M2E.

Thanks for reading.