Monday, March 28, 2011

Malifaux- First Thoughts

The more I play Malifaux, the more I like it. The depth of the system is awesome. It has synergies, movement, resource management, and those flat awesome moments when you do something(or have something done to you) that just makes a table top game. I haven't played long, and have only played one real game, though even that was against a brand new player, but I like it I really do.

The models: This is what got me into Malifaux. I saw the Viktoria Sword Mistress model, and I had to have it. She was perfect for a D&D character I had from 3rd edition, and was always my favourite. I was also entice by her sister model, the Viktoria Bounty Hunter, and the more I looked, the more I liked. As a whole, I really enjoy the range. There are some that look to be bad sculpts, but as I have started my first crew, I'm not sure that their paint jobs are as much a culprit as anything else. Taelor was one of those models, but as I painted her up, I notice that I was able to turn her in to a decent model. I did green stuff a little more shirt on her, the original was just a little to trashy for me. Other than that, I just stayed away from shading her cheeks, which I think is the main problem with the stock photo, as it makes her look to drawn. There are other models I am just not a fan of, but thats true in any range. Clean up and paint wise... Taelor has a mold line on her face. OVER HER EYE! I can't even begin to describe what went through my head when I realised what I was lookinh at. Of the Viktoria box, she was the exception, with the other being fairly easy to clean. They are tiny though. I made custom bases for them all, and so I pinned the feet. My bit nearly gutted the leg on my Viktoria Bounty Hunter. They aren't heroic scale, and they seem even finer than Reaper minis. Its a trait I like, but at first it kinda worried me. The only one I have finished painting was Taelor, and I noticed some detail isn't there, the models are almost a blank surface. They have certain detail, but others the painter is allowed to add himself. For instance, Taelor has a glove on her left hand. The model doesn't. This was cool for me, as I was able to shorten it down to the elbow, and remove the fingers. This brought it more in line with an artist rendering in the book, over the stock photo. All in all, I am a big fan of the models, and am eager to not only finish this squad, but start into many more.

The cards: The game doesn't use dice. You can use regular playing cards, but I recommend purchasing the $8 deck. The art on them is fantastic, and I hear the more pricey, plastic puppet decks are even more stunning. In the game, the cards bring a level of play that can't be matched by dice. Don't get me wrong, I still love my dice, but cards are definitely growing on me. With a dice game you can throw it all to statistics, while this is true of cards as well, the is also the hand and Soulstone pool to contend with. What are the chances of my opponent having an X or better card? Will he choose to use it? Do I draw it out with this so I can use that? Sure, you can count cards, but they are reshuffled every round, minus what the player has in his hand. And high/low cards are important, but suits are as well. You could make the cast with a 5, but its the suit that you need. A 13 of Crows won't do when you need a 5 of Rams. And then there's the triggers, the 13 of Rams will get the spell off, but a 5 of Masks will get the spell of AND activate the trigger, BUT he would only have to resist a 10 instead of 18, does he have the cards, will he flip it... It goes on and on, its strategy and playing your opponent, and its fun. Its like Poker and Warhammer in one glorious, little ball.

The rules: I red the entire rule book. There were things I couldn't get my head around. How did that work? Why was that worded that way? I finally had to play a couple games against myself, just to get it right in my head. And it snapped, like a taught rubber band. I was over thinking things, within a turn I saw how concepts worked that just seemed twisted to me. Maybe it was coming from a dice game where everything either is or isn't, maybe it was just my head, but once I got it, it just flowed. And then I truly began to see the depth. The difference of winning by a little or a lot. The use of losing big(er) to clean out a bad hand. Seeing why blowing soulstones and control cards on a winning flip to make it even stronger could turn a game. Or playing the Black Joker(0 points, no suit) to grab some cards to stomp my opponent three activation down the road. Its the best kind of game, easy to learn, difficult to master.

The crews: Crews in Malifaux are so much more than a group of models, each with a specific purpose, acting for its own goal. In 40K, each squad has a task, something it does, whether assault, shooting, tank hunting, board control, or what have you. Malifaux has similar tasks, but they also have more direct synergy. My Daemon Prince can Lash a unit into a nice template for my Blast Master, but Malifaux, while Bishop can throw you into charge range of my Viktoria, in much the same way my Lash works, he could also throw you out of range of an aura giving you extra damage. Rasputina can give your Armor and Frozen Heart, but than use you to increase the range of her spells. Leviticus or Cordetta can kill a minion to come back from the dead. The Viktorias can jump through each other, tag teaming across the board, moving forward shooting, then swapping to bring the melee to bare, or drawing the other in to attack together, or share a buff spell. The combinations and tricks go far beyond the meagre sampling I have scraped off the surface. It is a depth I plan to dive deep into.

The fluff: This final part is what has most captivated me. The story behind Malifaux is dark and twisted. It is of Daemons and Mages, Gunslingers and Mad Scientist, it is all the stories told around camp fires for hundreds of years. Stories to scare young children, stories to entertain the less young. Nobody is innocent, the very air turn people to acts of violence, even the children could turn on you. The words to truly describe it elude me, all I can say, is it is well worth the read. Even if you ignore the rules and read only the fluff, it will be a good read. The fluff doesn't have the long running(go nowhere?) story that 40K has, but I found it truly enjoyable, and can't wait to get my hand on the second book.

If you couldn't tell, I am a huge fan of this game, and will be bringing my Malifaux stuff every weekend I am there. I hope to get my second crew in the next couple of weeks and be able to have real games. I am also willing to play proxy games with anyone interested. The Wyrd site has all the updated cards for the first book available to anyone who wants to grab 'em. They are under the V2 Stat Card redemption program. I recommend snagging the ones from the starter boxes for your first game or two, sine they will likely be where you start anyway, and are already set up for you.
Hope to see you all Saturday!

CW, flippin' cards.

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