The stage was set last week for my first ever complete game of Malifaux. Two previous attempts to get a game in at the local gaming club had fallen through - on both occasions we'd only managed to get 2 turns done before having to pack up due to Real Life interruptions. My opponent was Alan, another newcomer to the game who'd brought along his Colette crew so we could feel our way through the rules together. We set up a table at the Thursday Club's brand new venue and got down to it.
This battle report is just a short summary of the key moments of the game as i remember it, and apologies for the lack of pictures, I aim to take some next time!
Pandora deploys on the left with 2 Sorrows for support, staring down Colette and one Performer/Mannequin duo. Candy, Kade and the other Sorrow hide behind the trees on my right, facing towards Cassandra and another duo. Not a lot happens this turn except some link-ups, advancing, and Colette creating a Mechanical Dove.
Cassandra runs up and hits Candy hard in the face, causing some damage, and Candy retaliates with Sours (it still doesn't make much sense to me that Cassandra would accept poison sweets from the little girl she'd just cleaved a chunk out of, but them's the rules!). Alan attempts to pull off a tricky combo with the Mannequin and Performer on my right, to try and Paralyse and then Poison Candy, but the triggers didnt work out and it fails. Kade hits the Mannequin but its armour is way too strong to penetrate. Pandora uses Pacify on several of the Showgirls, causing slight damage on 3 models, and uses the momentum to travel across the table behind their lines. Colette releases another Mechanical Dove from her.... hat?
Now that our models are engaged, the initiative flip to decide who goes first is crucial, and Alan wins it by flipping a difficult to contest 13. Cassandra paralyses Candy by borrowing the nearby Performer's spell. Pandora pushes up to Collette, killing a Performer on the way by causing such self-loathing that she jabs herself with her own Poisoned Ring! One of the Doves also succumbs to its negative emotions. With actions still to take, Pandora inflicts 3wds on Colette but then falls foul of bad luck when her Fading Memory ability fails and she's left stranded and looking vulnerable, easily in range of Colette's revenge. Colette uses Magician's Duel twice, uses a Soulstone to reactivate, then does it twice more! This sends Pandora reeling and forces her to burn through all but 1 of her own Soulstones just to stay alive! The surviving Performer rapid fires her Clockwork Pistol at the paralysed Candy, putting her out of her misery. Kade finally inflicts a Wd on the Mannequin, but it takes every trigger he has, and once again it's still merely a scratch! Damn that blasted armour!
The Mannequin near Cassandra (that Kade has been beating on all game to no avail) sacrifices itself to give Cassandra a healing flip to help her through the poison damage she continues to receive. Pandora attempts to finish off Colette and does so easily, projecting Pity and then then Dementia. Colette, though, has "Slow to Die" which grants her a free action when she is killed and Alan used this to cast one final Magicians Duel for which he flips severe damage and kills Pandora in a blaze of glory. With both masters dead, we decide that this is a fitting end and call it a game there.
Alan was a fun opponent I'd gladly play again.
Armour +3 is immense! Physical attacks don't stand a chance against Mannequins, so try inflicting WP duels with Pandora instead.
Having said that, Mamnequins are WP8!!
Kade really needs his trigger to do respectable damage, preferably with a severe damage cheat.
Don't forget Expose Fears or Harmless! Both of us forgot this ability repeatedly throughout the fight, meaning a lot of damage could have been prevented on both sides, and Pandora may have survived!
I need to plan out Pandora's activation before she moves, and have a destination in mind. Too often she just milled about with no real direction. Make sure she has somewhere to hide after doing damage.
Keep people closer together (except perhaps Kade). I needlessly split my force up and that left the children without Pandora's support.
Using Reactivate, Colette can throw a lot of actions at you in one activation. Also, she doesn't have a melée weapon so it's difficult for Pandora to damage her directly. I think I was lucky in that Alan didn't make much use of the crew's swapping about abilities or else I may have been outmanoevered.
Remember that casting totals are generated up front, with Cheat & Soulstone if wanted, before the target makes a resist flip. We got this wrong a few times.
Having a crap hand in Turn 3 really limited my tactics and forced me to burn a lot of Soulstones. Maybe I should try and hold some high cards back for this crucial turn
Anyway, hope you found this summary interesting! I'll be back with more in the future!
There I was, happily painting my way through legions of Imperial Guardsmen and Leman Russ tanks, eagerly looking forward to having the army finished by the new year and ready to join the local gaming club, the Leeds Night Owls to learn how to play 40k, when I was bitten by the Neverborn bug!
While browsing their forums I came across mention of the game of Malifaux, and a quick Google search led me to this picture of the creepy little serial killing baby known as "Baby Kade". My curiosity immediately piqued, I delved further, and after discovering he partners with a giant carnivorous Teddy Bear(!!), I knew I had to try this game and that my starting faction couldn't be anything else but the Neverborn. I immediately picked up a Legion of Sorrows box set which would allow me to start playing straight away.
My Crew Pandora
Owner of the legendary Box, Pandora is one of the 4 currently available Neverborn Masters, and plays completely differently to any other master in the game. By opening the Box, Pandora unleashes the worst fears and emotions of her enemies, who literally kill themselves with self-loathing and pity. She can also be incredibly fast, appearing and disappearing before the enemy crew has time to react, and her style is very much "death by a thousand cuts", preferring to chip away at the health of enemy models 1 Wd at a time, rather than wade in and hit things hard with a big sword (that's Lilith's job!)
I painted Pandora in a similar scheme to the example in the Malifaux book. I had experimented with a few different colours for her dress, including red and white, but nothing seemed to look right, so I settled on the cream colour.
The magical flame emerging from the open box is actually half the size of the one the model comes supplied with. I felt that putting the whole piece on obscured the rest of the model, so I snipped off the bottom half and only used the tip of the fire. The fire was painted GW Jade Green, a colour which I carried through to the whole crew in small amounts, to give a unified scheme.
Coat: Liche Purple/Liche Purple+Skull White
Dress/Leg Wraps: Graveyard Earth/Bleached Bone
Skin: Dark Flesh/Dwarf Flesh/Elf Flesh
Hair: Chaos Black/Skull White streaks
Pandora's base was made by cutting out sections of cardboard from a cereal packet in the shapes of flagstones, and glueing them on with PVA. This was then drybrushed to resemble stone, and a few tufts of static grass added to finish the effect.
Candy is the Woe of Innocence Corrupted, and she features in the top right corner of this blog in Voodoo-doll form. Candy hates humans, and those she cannot ensnare with poisoned sweets often fall foul of her ability to use her victims guilt and regret against them.
I decided to paint my Neverborn children with regular skin tones, instead of the pallid, undead looking skin in the Malifaux book, as I didn't want them to look like zombies, especially when I might consider painting zombies in a Ressurectionist crew in the future. Plus I figure that if they look like real children then it's even more scary!
Pink Dress: Blood Red+Skull White, highlighted with extra Skull White
White Frills: Fortress Grey/Skull White
Hair: Bestial Brown/Sunburst Yellow
Skin: Dark Flesh/Dwarf Flesh/Elf Flesh
Candy's lollipop was painted with a Jade Green spiral pattern, she was based with the same cardboard flagstones as Pandora.
Kade is the Woe of Innocence Lost, and he delights in pretending to be a baby to lure his victims to their death, which he dispenses with a gigantic (to him at least!) carving knife. While not the strongest melee fighter available to Pandora, if he gets the right triggers at the right time, he can be deadly. Plus, isn't he just so CUTE? The model is one of the tiniest things I've painted, but I still wanted to pull off a nice paint job, so he took a lot of time to get right.
I painted his teddy bear in the colours of a panda, as I intend to add Teddy to the crew soon, and he will also be painted as a great big evil (but cuddly) panda.
Skin: Dark Flesh/Dwarf Flesh/Elf Flesh
Nappy: Fortress Grey/Skull White
I did my best to make his eyes look as deranged as possible, by painting small pupils in the centre of his big round eyes.
These guys are minor Woes, basically backup for Pandora and friends, and they don't have any particularly special abilities in themselves. Their main use is in linking up to the main crew members in order to borrow their more effective spells, and absorb damage from enemies attacks. I painted them slightly different to the pictures on the box, because I didn't like the bright green colour that made them look like Slimer from the Ghostbusters.
Shadows Layer: Dark Angels Green
Base/Middle Layer: Jade Green
Highlight Layer: Rotting Flesh
The protruding tongues and eyes were painted with Scab Red followed by Blood Red highlights. Lastly, the bases were finished off with cardboard flagstones and static grass
The next addition to the crew is going to be Teddy, following which I'm leaning towards a couple of Stitched Together, who appear to work well with Pandora's Willpower based mechanics.
You may be wondering what on Earth this "Malifaux" thing is all about, so let me explain. Assuming you're already familiar with miniature war-games in general, here's what I believe marks out Malifaux as special:
1) Unique Setting The game is set in a fully fleshed out alternate history Earth, in which magic, once common, is on the wane. Around the end of the 19th century, a portal opens to the world of Malifaux; a world where magic can be fueled through the use of "Soulstone", and various characters and factions travel through the Breach in search of power and wealth. So far, so Mordheim!
The characters and factions here, though, are varied, fresh and more imaginative than anything I've seen in other games. Starting with a strong Old West vibe, Malifaux adds to the mix a healthy dose of Necromancy, (including the oft-touted zombie hookers!), a dollop of Gothic Horror (possessed blade wielding children and a Frankenstein-esque doctor), and finishes with sprinkles of Steampunk, Victorian science and Manga. It's an eclectic melting stew of genres and it's incredibly characterful. Wyrd themselves coined the word “Steamvictoriohorrorwestpunk” to describe it.
2) Card Based Mechanics
There isn't a single dice to be seen in this game. Everything is driven by the Fate Deck, essentially a regular deck of cards but with themed suits. Both players have their own deck from which they flip cards throughout the game. Most actions in the game involve a "Duel", basically flipping a card and adding the value to one of your characteristics. The total is compared to a target number or to a total similarly generated by your opponent. Beat the target number and the action succeeds.
The simple foundation allows a surprising degree of modification. Negative flips (flip 2 and take the lowest), cheating (replace the flipped card with one from your hand of 6 "control" cards) and Black/Red Jokers (think miscast or irresistible force) give further tactical considerations and give the players a constant stream of important choices to make.
3) Simple Core Rules
The basic rules are very straight forward. Crews are usually made up if between 5 and 10 figures. Each model can make 2 actions in it's turn, whether that be walk, attack, or one of the unique actions listed in it's special rules.
Models activate alternately (you move one, I move one) which allows players to react to opponents moves in a way that GW games lack. Things can happen fast, and Activation order becomes a key tactical consideration.
4) Complex Special Rules While the basics may be simple, each model has somewhere between 5 and 20 special rules. Knowing how your crew works, and looking for combos and synergies between different models is the key to winning and, to my newbie's eye, seems to give the game endless depth. I'm hoping that there will be many hidden layers in this game to uncover. The only concern I have is that with so many special rules at play, it's very easy to forget one or two in the heat of battle, as I've already discovered.
5) Small Supportive Company
Malifaux is produced by Wyrd, a relatively young company based in Georgia, USA. With the game being so new, it's still evolving, and Wyrd appear to be very supportive in offering up to date errata, free updates to cards if the rules change, and an active presence on the official forums, answering rules queries and such. The level of interaction with the hobbyist is, in my experience, relatively unprecedented.
All in all, I hope the above has made you curious enough to give the game a shot! In my next post I'll be showing off some of the Malifaux models that I've recently painted, and explaining how I went about selecting my starting crew.
Welcome to the first post of my blog, in which I'll be sharing my thoughts, painting progress and gaming experiences as I venture into the world of Malifaux.
First, a little about me. I grew up playing Games Workshop games, primarily WFB, and I tried my hand (and lost) at pretty much every game they produced in the late 90s and early 00s. After a 10 year break from wargaming, my interest in the hobby was recently rekindled by the 40k blog community and i set to collecting an Imperial Guard Praetorian force. I quickly found though, that with the multitude of smaller companies producing alternative games nowadays, there were so many other better options out there, and so it was that I broke away from the clutches of GW and dived into Malifaux, a card based skirmish game from a small US company called Wyrd.
After looking around the Web, it seems to me that there's precious little Malifaux-related blogging going off, so I figured I'd make the effort and add my voice to the (hopefully growing) crowd.