Wednesday, 28 November 2012

073 - Hamelin as an NPE

"Hamelin is broken".

This statement has been repeated so often that it has become a "fact "in the Malifaux community, to the point where many players have admitted being reluctant to buy a Hamelin crew because of the negative reaction they would get from their gaming group. The term NPE is used fairly liberally on the Wyrd forum to describe playing against him, which for the uninitiated means "Negative Play Experience".

I've played against Hamelin quite a few times in the last year or so and until yesterday I disagreed with the prevailing opinion. I played once against former tournament-regular "MagicPockets", which was an incredibly tight game where my Pandora gave Hamelin a real run for his money. Several times I've played against local player Serigala, also usually resulting in very close matchups. And more recently I've played against club-mate James, who's relatively new to Malifaux and using Hamelin (his only master) to great effect.

Normally I enjoy playing against Hamelin. He's always a challenging master to face, and I like to test myself. I figure the only way to improve as a player is to put yourself through challenging situations. On the whole, my record against him has been middling. I've probably lost more than I've won, but when I've lost I haven't felt demoralised, because it's either been a close fight, or I've made a mistake that led directly to my loss.

Yesterday night I played a 35ss game against James, and for the first time I came away fully understanding what people mean when they say NPE.

Let's set the scene:

Strategy: Shared A Line in the Sand

My crew: Dreamer, Chompy, 2 Daydreams, Lelu, Lilitu, Tuco, Coppelius, 6 soulstones
Assassinate Hamelin, Stake a Claim

James' crew: Hamelin, Nix, 2 Ratcatchers, 7 Rats
Bodyguard Hamelin, Eye for an Eye.

Notes on crew selection:

1) My thinking was this - the only way I was going to win the game was to take out Hamelin. Go straight for the jugular. If Hamelin stayed alive, there would be too many significant models for me to conrest the dynamite. James almost always chooses Bodyguard, so by taking Assassinate I'd be 4VPs up just for killing Hamelin once. Due to the way his resurrection works, you place a *new* Hamelin on the table at the end of the turn he's killed (if you have a Stolen), so the you get points for assassinating the original Hamelin model, and likewise the *original* Hamelin model isn't still on the table at the end for Bodyguard. I planned to drop Chompy, Copellius and Lelu onto Hamelin, take him out quickly, and then work on the rat catchers before finishing off the insignificant rats.

2) Note that James (in his inexperience) chose Eye for an Eye without realising that it was a bad scheme for Hamelin to take, due to the proliferation of rats, and he didn't end up achieving it, so he set himself up with a 2VP handicap from the start.

3) Note that I'd taken a master usually considered one of the most powerful in the game. Along with the twins (considered to be among the most powerful minions) and Tuco (considered to be almost an auto-take in many Neverborn crews these days due to him being off-the-scales good for his cost). My crew was a *powerful powerful crew* on paper.

Notes on the game:

1) I executed my plan perfectly. While the Dreamer waited in a safe position, Tuco stepped up and killed the Stolen that Hamelin had summoned on Turn 1. Tuco is a pain in the ass and a great distraction, so as expected James expended some considerable effort to killing him, including burning *ALL* of his high cards.

2) James had only the Black Joker and a 3 in his hand for two turns, because I refrained from cheating. Meanwhile, I spent 3 turns trying to sculpt a nice hand ready for when I would strike with everything.

3) In killing Tuco with the rats, we discovered that the Black Blood ability HELPS the rats, because every time they wound him, they take a Wound in return, and return as FRESH rats to attack him again. And again. And again.

4) I dropped Lelu near the second Stolen, who ran out of his reach.

5) I launched Chompy in on turn 3, with a decent hand and two AP. Coppelius also landed, and Lelu was positioned to kill the second Stolen.

6) Knowing that even with the Stolen, I'd still be able to score for Assassinate (and deprive Bodyguard) I attacked with Chompy. The first attack did 5 damage. On the second attack I flipped the black joker and did no more.

7) Hamelin retaliated and managed to flip a lucky Red Joker on the damage flip. Chompy died in a single hit. Hamelin used his remaining AP to put a big dent in Coppelius

8) Coppelius then paralyzed Hamelin.

9) The rats attacked Coppelius. They had to take Terrifying -> 13 tests each time, but Coppelius has an ability which causes 3 Wounds every time a model loses a Morale duel. Much like Tuco, causing the rats to flee actually *helped* them reposition, as every time one failed the Terrifying check it died, respawned (Hamelin's aura still being effective while paralyzed) and just tried again. And again. And again. Coppelius died.

10) Lelu and Lilitu (who also had Black Blood) and the Dreamer, then died as the Rat Catchers used "Kill All Rats" to get another 14-20 activations out of the vermin.

I was completely tabled in Turn 3. I'd managed to kill a rat early on (by luring it towards me before killing it), but James still finished with around 7 more rats than he started with, and no casualties. Hamelin had 1 wound remaining.

I'd launched an attack at Hamelin that what was probably only a 50/50 chance of success, but it had completely bounced off, and my entire crew was then dead by the end of that same turn.

I feel as though there was nothing I could have done differently.

I should say that this isn't a rant against James, who I have no issue with. He used the only master and crew he has available to him. Until yesterday I was only half-heartedly behind the campaign to get Hamelin nerfed, because I enjoyed playing against him nevertheless.

I don't think I will enjoy playing against Hamelin in future.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

072 - Filthing it up for the GT

I'm starting to get excited about the Malifaux Grand Tournament 2012, which will be in less than a month on the weekend of the 2nd/3rd November. I wasn't able to make it to last year's event but from what I heard it was the event to go to last year, and it sounds as though there will be loads of fun stuff going off over the weekend alongside the main event. At time of writing there are 46 people signed up, and it's expected to go to around 60, so it'll be the biggest tournament I've attended thus far!

My plan was to try and get my Gremlin crew finished off in time for the tournament. This is the same Gremlin crew that I was planning to have painted for last November, but that still isn't done. In fact all I've done on it since this time last year is painted Ophelia and the other LaCroix at the start of this year. The Bayou Gremlins, Mosquitoes, Pigapults, Slop Hauler, etc, as well as So'mer himself, remain untouched in my figure case.

As a result, it isn't going to be feasible to paint enough Gremlins to field a fully painted crew for the tournament. I know that the rules pack doesn't stipulate painted models only, but I hate using unpainted models at the best of times, and especially at a tournament, and especially especially at the Grand Tournament!

As for my other crews: Seamus hasn't done too well for me in a competitive setting this year, although I have a few models ready to paint (namely Dead Rider and some Night Terrors) that might alleviate that for his next outing. I don't have enough experience of playing Dreamer post-errata. Pandora put in a good show at a tournament in York a few weeks ago, and she's always reliable, but I'm getting a bit tired of her now.

So, which faction will I be playing at the GT? Here's a clue. Look what arrived in the post today from Firestorm Games:

If I said that I was only buying them to take them out of circulation and do everyone else a favour, would you believe me? Yea, didn't think so....

So yea. Sorry, but I'm gonna be "that guy" and filth it to the max in November, but then I promise that I will be retiring Neverborn from competition for 2013.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

071 - Review - KR Kaiser Multicase

At the start of this year, I posted my thoughts on the Battlefoam Malifaux Bag, explained that I'd be returning it to Battlefoam, and promised a review of the case I bought instead. That long awaited review is finally here!

After browsing the KR website for some time, I went for the "Kaiser2" case, consisting of two cardboard cases filled with foam, and a larger bag that held both of them along with all the necessary books and accessories.


 There's plenty nice to say about this case.

1) It's roomy. Depending on which foam trays you choose, you have space for more than enough Malifaux models - probably most of your collection (unless you're an obsessive crew collector!) The foam loadout I chose contains slots for 156 regular sized models and around 16 large models, and so even though I own 6 or 7 crews, it's only around half full. KR's website itself is pretty confusing on which foam trays you should buy, so I'll attempt to clarify here.

Half of these holes are still empty, even with 4-5 crews

KR operate a 3-character code system to identify their foam inserts:

The 1st character represents the layout of the inserts.

N = 20 slots per half tray. Each slot holds a 30mm base model comfortably, but is too narrow to hold a 40mm base.
F = 18 slots per half tray. Larger slots that you can squeeze a 40mm base into. Although the base will stick out a little over the top of the insert, I found that the trays still stack on top fine.

The 2nd character represents the insert thickness. Generally you're going to want to choose inserts with the standard thickness of 3 (effectively one-third of a cardboard case's depth). However if you want to transport larger models, the 5 insert is what you need, which is twice as thick. That will be deep enough to transport large models with "sticky out bits" such as Avatar Pandora or Nekima. Inserts with a thickness of 4 will be too shallow to hold 30mm bases effectively, and thickness 2 will be somewhere between - it might be good for some of the larger 40mm base models, but you're unlikely to have enough of those to need a whole tray.

The 3rd character represents the width of the insert. It will be either T (Tray) or H (Half tray). Therefore at normal (3) thickness you can fit three T inserts or six H inserts into a box. This is merely a matter of personal preference, but I figured that the H inserts would give me a bit more flexibility and that the T inserts might be a bit large and floppy to handle once filled with heavy metal miniatures.

An N3H is ideal for most 30mm based models

A 5H tray for larger models

2) The foam is good quality. Each of the two boxes has space for 3 layers of standard thickness foam, along with a foam topper. The slots grip a 30mm base tightly, and I've never had any concerns about my models being damaged in the case.

3) There are compartments all over the thing, enough for everything you might want to bring to a game. There are two large zippable book pockets and one small one, two velcro pouches and one zipped pouch, and one elasticated mesh pouch for anything you can't fit elsewhere. My bag currently carries all 3 main Books, a Rules Manual, Tape Measure, all my Stat cards, 3 Fate decks, Whiteboard markers, cloths, Soulstone counters, sweets etc etc.

 There are a couple of small negative points I should add:

1) The bag is big and bulky. It's almost cube shaped and doesn't sit all that well on your shoulder. If your intention is to carry your entire Malifaux collection with you, then I suppose it's hard to avoid having a big bag, but i wonder if a different shape would have been better.

2) The handle isn't very strong. The lid of the bag itself appears to be a thin plastic, to which the handle is bolted. I expected this plastic to eventually shear, but it turns out that the thing that went first was the handle itself. It's a small fabric strap with a plastic coating, and my plastic coating has recently split. It should be noted that this is after 8 months of occasional use, and that my case is only half full.

 3) My particular bag has a slight defect where the shoulder strap attaches to the bag itself. It's only minor, but the sewing doesn't grip the plastic clip tightly enough and so it the clip twists around and puts strain on the join. I'm hoping that the stitching will hold, but it worries me.

All in all though, an excellent bag, and a great way to keep all your Malifaux in one place that I very much recommend. In hindsight, I think I should have gone for their single-box case, which would have done away with the weight and strain issues that this bag has faced. The cardboard trays are interchangable, so as long as you know which faction/crew you will be playing when you leave the house, you can swap them out as needed.

Actually yea, I've changed my mind. Get the smaller KR bag.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

070 - Post GenCon

So GenCon has come and gone and the dust has started to settle. People lucky enough to live on the right continent (or lucky enough to be able to afford a plane ticket!) look to have walked away with more new Malifaux goodies than any person could wish for. Unfortunately my geographical and financial situations meant that I wasn't one of these people, and so like many others my GenCon has once again been one of closely monitoring my Twitter feed for spoilers - biding my time until I can get my hands on the shiny stuff later on.

I didn't even put in a GenCon order this year - I found the Nightmare Hanging Tree to be not nearly as inspiring as last year's limited edition Teddy and Lady Justice (not to mention 60% more expensive!). Although it's definitely an impressive model, and I can't wait to see one properly painted, I couldn't see it getting all that much table time. The smaller trees, intended to be used as alternative Hanged models are, in my opinion, way too big to be used as 30mm base minions, and would look ridiculous next to normal sized models on normal bases. So that was out.

I suppose I could have ordered some of the new models (all three boxed crews are VERY appealing to me), but I already have a giant backlog of models to finish painting, and there'd be no benefit to me in paying the additional cost of international postage just to have them a couple of months earlier, if they weren't going to get used immediately. So no new crew (and no Wyrd plastics) for me just yet.

At GenCon time, I'm basically only interested in the limited edition stuff that I can't get elsewhere, so my only disappointment is that I didn't get myself a Miss Terious. I'm not too worried, however, since I'm confident that in a couple of weeks eBay will be flooded with them. However I fear Santana Ortega, though lovely beyond belief, is going to remain forever out of my price range.

The one compulsory purchase, come it's September release, will be the Storm of Shadows book. Those of us without the book have only seen a few glimpses of the rules for the new models, but all of the art has been shown on Twitter and on the forums (thanks to @sassylady1970 of course!) and so we can see what/who the new masters and minions are.

Here's a brief rundown of the new guys on the scene. Once I get a book in hand next month I'll post some more detailed thoughts.

Lucas McCabe (Master)
Luna (Totem)
Wastrels (Minion)
Guild Riflemen (Minion)
Clockwork Trap (Minion)
Sidir Alchibal (Minion)
Guild Pathfinder (Minion)

Yan Lo (Master)
Soul Porter (Totem)
Ashigaru (Minion)
Toshiro, The Daimyo (Minion)
Yin, The Penangalan (Minion)
Izamu, The Armour (Minion)
Chiaki, The Niece (Minion)

Mei Feng (Master)
Emberling (Totem)
Kang (Minion)
Willie the Demolitionist (Minion)
Rail Golem (Minion)
Rail Worker (Minion)
Metal Gamin (Minion)

Jakob Lynch (Master)
Hungering Darkness (Totem)
Illuminated (Minion)
Beckoners (Minion)
Mr Graves (Minion)
Mr Tannen (Minion)
The Depleted (Minion)

Burt (Minion)
Gracie (Minion)
Wong (Minion)
Friekorps Strongarm Suit (Minion)
Vanessa, Treasure Hunter (Minion)
Oiran (Minion)
Ama No Zako (Minion)

Ten Thunders
Misaki (Master)
Shang (Totem)
Ototo (Minion)
Torakage (Minion)
Yamaziko (Minion)
Ten Thunders Archers (Minion)

From what I've heard about these characters so far, I'm really excited to see them on the tabletop. It's going to be an interesting year for Malifaux!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

069 - Evil Baby Orphanage Kickstarter - Not Long Left!

It's now been a couple of weeks since Wyrd launched their Kickstarter appeal for their new card game Evil Baby Orphanage. As I write this the total stands at almost $96,000 which is around eighteen times the amount originally requested! There's still 7 hours before the appeal closes though, so plenty of time to hit the final stretch goal and earn everyone an Evil Baby Plushie!

I'm brand new to Kickstarter - I'd never been on the site until being linked to this project - and I've found it fascinating to browse the various innovative projects looking for funding. Some seem very worthy, others less so, but they're all doing their best to develop a dedicated community of supporters to get their project off the ground. It definitely makes you spend time wondering whether you have any seeds of ideas that could be realised through that kind of channel, and I can see myself supporting more projects in the future.

Evil Baby Orphanage itself looks very interesting to me. The concept seems like it will have the perfect blend of humour and accessibility, and the artwork we've seen so far has been dripping with character. The main game will include at least 50 babies, with more to come in two future expansions.

The rules have been released and they appear nice and straight forward, which is ideal as this is a game I can see being played with non-gamer friends and family.

The massive haul of additional gear I'll be recieving as part of the Kickstarter includes limited edition cards, a poster, a book, a carry case, a new fate deck and *three* models to use in Malifaux as alts for Kade, Candy, Copycat Killer and Desperate Mercenary (all of which I can see myself using in games!).

It's a great promotion, and there's still time to get involved and pledge before the appeal closes later tonight. Make sure to pledge at least $55 though so that you get all the extra promo goodies!

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

068 - Storm of Shadows GenCon Releases Compilation

Just wanted to throw up all the GenCon preview pictures in one place, split by faction.


Only available as a free addition to every individual order over $100 made at GenCon or from the Wyrd webstore during GenCon (August 16th - 19th).
Likely to: Be the go-to first Death Marshall model hired in every Guild crew in the future.

Even rarer - good luck getting hold of this if you're not a Henchman! Only available to some Henchman who've done a specified amount of events to support the summer Dead Heat campaign.
Likely to: Cost the GDP of a small country to buy on eBay


A kindred spirit to Papa Loco and Pere Ravage, who definitely wins the prize for bringing the most explosives
Likely to: Survive very few games

The latest species Gamin, and an unexpected one - it's great that they're all individuals too. Now taking bets for Book5... Stone Gamin? Feather Gamin? Cheese Gamin?
Likely to: Combine into the Rail Golem at the first sign of trouble

One stonking great big Metal Gamin. Basically he's a walking train, and he seems deadly.
Likely to: Be able to look Nightmare Teddy eye to eye. Then headbutt him.

Until we find out what these guys can do, they seem a little generic. Hopefully Mei Feng has some unique tricks up her sleeve. The scenic base she comes with is incredible. Yay for plastic!
Likely to: Be everyone's second choice crew after Dark Debts


Dapper Master + Gigantic Totem + Gribbly Minions = Absolutely Sublime.
Likely to: Be the crew *every* opponent uses in *every* game you play for the next few months

Ever wondered what happens when a Mindless Zombie and a squid get it on?
Likely to: Leave a slimy mess trail.

A big bouncer type, so I'm expecting him to have some bodyguard type abilities. Looks nice and beefy.
Likely to: Have synergy with Mr Tannen

If I wrote his rules, the coin rolling on the back of his hand would mean I'd design some sort of ability involving 50/50 chance. Someone else wrote his rules though, so who knows.
Likely to: Have an ability involving 50/50 probability

Could these be the first models with (1) Lure that you could actually imagine yourself being lured by?
Likely to: Provoke a discussion on gender stereotyping on the Wyrd forums.


The second to last model to be released from Twisting Fates, and a very long anticipated release.
Likely to: Become Hoffman's new best buddy


It's massive. It's very very cool. But will it get enough use for people to want to buy it at $80?
Likely to: Be used as two very expensive Alt Hanged models

067 - House Painting 101

At the local club we recently all pitched in to buy a set of the small buildings from Sarissa Precision and we're all going to paint one up with a personalised sign.

Here's my effort, glamourously modelled by Perdita - slightly grainy photo but you get the idea:

Since the terrain is made of laser-cut wood, and already has the planks and grain marked on it, many people use it unpainted, and I suppose it is kinda the right colour already. However I think it looks much better once it's been primed and properly shaded and highlighted.

The lettering was printed off in the Guild font at the correct size, then painstakingly copied onto the sign. I'm glad I only had to do one building, because it took absolutely ages! I think I'm the first person to finish my building, (despite having it sitting around my house for a couple of months!) so when I take it along next week it'll hopefully incentivise the other guys to get one painted up.

Monday, 23 July 2012

066 - Fully Automatic

After languishing in my figure case half-finished for a couple of months, I've found some time to put the finishing touches to Ryle.

I only have a handful of Guild models at the moment, expanding the faction slowly to try and keep it 100% painted. Ryle gives my already very shooty Ortega crew even more in the way of ranged attack. I'm thinking something with a bit of melee punch is needed next. Executioner maybe...?

Friday, 20 July 2012

065 - Malifools Radio

Something seems to have happened in the wider Malifaux community in the last three or four months. I'm not sure what's caused it, but it's definitely noticable, and it's definitely a good thing. I'm referring to the growth in the list of fan-created Malifaux podcasts, Youtube channels and blogs.

Looking back to the start of 2012, if you wanted a fix of Malifaux media content you needed to wait a month or two for Ian and Julian over at The Aethervox, or Bill at Gamer's Lounge to release their next episode. There was basically nothing else, and the intervals were sometimes long. Compare that to today - there's now so much to listen to or watch that you'll struggle to find enough free time to fit it all in!

New upstart podcasts on the scene include Cheated Fates Radio, Lost Boys RadioTartan Skirmish Radio and Malifools Radio,. and fledgling Youtube video series include Joeyfaux and Soulstone Train. All of these are excellent,  make for ideal background listening/viewing material for a painting session, and I cannot recommend them strongly enough. I expect there will be others that I've forgotten to mention, or that I'm just not aware of, so please let me know and I'll check them out!

Recently I've been getting up to date with the aforementioned Malifools Radio podcast, presented by Mike, Conrad and Jon. It's only six episodes in but it's gotten off to a great start, and their release schedule is astonishingly frequent.

The thing I like most about the Malifools is their relaxed presenting style. Never taking themselves too seriously, the three contributors chat about Malifaux in an informal, affable, way, with as much time given over to teasing, self deprecation and banter as to Malifaux. The content is always interesting, and although I'm sure they'd be the first to disagree, their production values are very very high - the introduction featuring Dom "Dumb Luck" Westerland is particularly spot-on. Although seasoned wargamers of other systems, Mike and Conrad are relatively new to Malifaux, and full of the enthusiasm that comes with that. Jon is their resident Henchman, with a little more knowledge and experience, and the three differing points of view makes for a balanced and insightful discussion.

Each episode, the Malifools tend to chat through a couple of topics arising from the forums, give an update on the games they've played recently, have a Q&A session of listener submitted questions, and interview the occasional "special guest". Champions of their Malifools ethos (patent pending?), the presenters are not especially competitive players (yet), instead emphasising the importance of having fun, and making sure your opponent has fun, rather than winning at all costs. Obviously an ideal to be commended - it's no surprise at all to me that they've walked away with two Sportsmanship awards at recent UK tournaments.

If there's one thing that I see perhaps causing them trouble in the future, it's that they're recording so frequently, and with each podcast clocking in at longer than 2 hours, that it's concievable that they may find that they run out of things to talk about, especially once GenCon preview season is passed.

Although I rubbed shoulders with Mike and Conrad at the Doubles GT in March, I haven't met Jon or had the pleasure of playing against any of them, but hopefully we'll be able to cross fate decks at an upcoming tournament or two.

Congrats on a great podcast guys - long may it continue!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

064 - Malifaux Masters Inspiration - Neverborn

The background behind the Malifaux masters has been discussed briefly in the Wyrd forums in the past, but I thought it might be interesting to bring together some of that information, along with a bit of my own research.

First up - Neverborn!

Lilith is actually a pretty easy character to find the inspiration for. She shares her name and a lot of her attributes with the Lilith of Jewish myth who dates right back to Assyria around 700BC (present day northern Iraq). The Assyrians had 2 types of demons named Lilit (female), Lilu (male) and this is believed to be where her name came from originally. It’s pretty obvious to see that these names were also used for the Neverborn twins in Rising Powers.

Babylonian Lilith Statue - no Greatsword here!
A Lilit was a she-demon or succubus with long hair and wings who seduced human men and savagely hunted and killed babies and children. Originally it referred to a type of demon rather than a specific individual.

This ancient legend was incorporated into Jewish folklore in medieval times, where the Lilit myth was merged with the story of Genesis from the Bible. According to this new myth, before God made Eve, he had made Lilith from the same dust that Adam had been created. The first couple argued a lot, as Adam wanted to rule over Lilith but she considered herself his equal. Pesky women, eh!

Lilith eventually left Adam and the Garden of Eden behind and fled to the Red Sea where she gave birth to numerous demon-children. Adam sent three angels to retrieve her, and when they found her they threatened to kill a hundred of her offspring a day if she didn't come back to the Garden with them. Lilith refused, but in return she promised that she would go out and weaken and kill small children and babies descended from Adam, in retribution for her mistreatment. God went on to create the more subservient Eve out of Adam’s rib (so she couldn’t claim her equality) and the rest is history.

In modern popular culture, Lilith is portrayed as the archetypal succubus demon, and examples of her can be seen in anime, film and music. The character also made a recent appearance as a main series villain in the TV show Supernatural.

A typical Succubus


Most people know the story of Pandora’s box, but I hadn't realised that in the Pandora myth she was, just like Lilith, the first woman. This time coming from Greek mythology, Pandora was created by Hephaestus (God of technology, fire and craft) to be the first woman, as a punishment for men who had recently stolen fire from the Gods. The name Pandora means “all-gifted”, referring to the seductive gifts that the various Gods contributed to her completion. Athena gave her beauty, dressed her in a silvery gown and veil and gave her a gold crown, Apollo taught her to sing and play the lyre, Hermes gave her cunning and boldness, and other Gods taught her other skills with the objective of making her the perfect specimen.

Not all was well however, as in revenge for the theft of fire, Zeus made her foolish and mischievous, and Hera gave her curiosity. This was a recipe for disaster when she was presented with a jar, covered in fantastic images, and was told she should never open under any circumstances!

She became married to Epimetheus, who found her to be the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen. In a world filled with only men, one has to wonder what they were getting up to before the first woman appeared on the scene. But then again, they were ancient Greeks, so maybe not. Pandora was tormented by the beautiful jar she wasn’t allowed to open and intrigued by what might be inside. She did her best to resist, but eventually her curiosity got the better of her and she opened it to look inside.

Just a little peek...

At that moment all the evils inside the box were released into the world. Sickness, insanity, disease, greed, crime, death, lies, depression and every other bad thing you can think of. This must have been quite a shock to the people who’d been living quite happily up to then, without all these things to mess up their lives!


It should be noted that the Pandora of the myth opened the box out of curiosity and was not evil. In contrast, Malifaux Pandora is a malicious bitch who has weaponised the negative emotions in her box and releases them deliberately.


Zoraida's inspiration doesn't appear to be a come from a single source. Instead it seems to be a stitching together of two main influences, Baba Yaga and New Orleans Voodoo.

Baba Yaga is a Slavic myth, and the likely origin of the "Old Crone Living in the Woods" archtype found throughout literature for hundreds of years. In the original myth, Baba Yaga flies through the air in a giant pestle and mortar, often kidnapping, and presumably eating children. Rather than there being one particular story in which she features, she seems to crop up in various folk tales from Eastern Eurpoe, usually crossing paths with one or more wayward children and filling the antagonist role. On rare occasions, however, she has been known to give advice and guidance to the main characters.

Pestle & Mortar doesn't seem the most practical transportation
In one particular Russian fairytale called "Vasilisa the Beautiful", Baba Yaga is served by three riders of White, Red and Black, each one representing Day, Sun and Night. That this is connected to the Malifaux Hooded Rider's ability to change phase from turn to turn seems likely.

In another Malifaux borrow from the myth, Baba Yaga's home is a hut that walks on gigantic chicken legs - something Wyrd have hinted at in their fluff with a brief mention of a hut that walks on mechanical legs being sighted in the Bayou.

Better than a caravan!

The Zoraida character takes the Baba Yaga myth and mixes in a healthy dose of Voodoo, in particular the dolls (although dolls also feature heavily in Slavic myth), the curses, the swamp setting and the tarot influences.

Voodoo (meaning a spirit/force that can intervene in human affairs) originated in Haiti, but a particular blend of voodoo grew to be practised in Louisiana by exiles following the Haitian revolution. It was largely practised by slaves, who merged Catholic beliefs with beliefs from their African heritage. Zoraida's Obey spell and her Voodoo Doll totem (her primary means of dealing damage), both stem from this religious origin. I was surprised to learn that in real-life voodoo, dolls are usually used to bless instead of curse - the intention is for them to act as a type of talisman to protect the target in particular ways.

The Dreamer

It doesn't appear that the Dreamer (and Lord Chompy Bits) was directly influenced by mythology - instead drawing together a few tropes in a completely original way. EricJ has explained that he came up with the original concept as a result of wanting a child Master who started the game facing down an entire enemy crew all on his own.

The evil child archtype, the "enfant terriblé", already features in Malifaux in the form of Candy and Kade, so the Dreamer was a natural extension, however where Pandora's child companions are effectively spirits/demons in child form, the Dreamer is an actual young boy. Evil children are inherently scary, so are found across film and television. I imagine the Dreamer himself to be basically a blonde version of Damien from The Omen, but he could equally be influenced by scary young characters in The Shining, Children of the Corn or that classic episode of the Twilight Zone where a young boy controls his entire family who live in constant terror of his reality bending power.

Damien was most unhappy with the lack of in-car DVD player

This boy could make you disappear if you displeased him

The theme of dreams becoming real, and being able to manifest creatures and objects through the power of dreams has been a part of fantasy fiction for generations, appearing in, for example The Wheel of Time, The Matrix and Nightmare on Elm Street. Usually these examples feature the dreamer moving through a separate dream world in which they take control of their surroundings, but can die in real life if overcome by the dream creatures they have to face. In contrast, Wyrd's Dreamer brings the Nightmares *out* of the dream world and into the "real" world to menace the Malifaux citizenry.

Lord Chompy Bits is effectively the Bogeyman. No, not the WWE wrestler - the monster used by parents to threaten children if they misbehave! Traditionally he lives in the closet or under the bed, and versions of the Bogeyman myth are found across the entire world. In most of them he kidnaps and/or eats children who displease their parents. It would seem that children are a key food group as part of a balanced nutritious diet for the average Neverborn master!

Are you afraid of the dark?

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

063 - Re-balancing Schemes

Amongst all the Red Joker furore on the forums in the last week or two, one point arose in the Constructive Feedback thread which I found particularly interesting with regards to Schemes and their relative difficulty. I agree with the points raised and thought I'd go a step further and propose some revisions to the current crop of Schemes and the VP system in general.

In essence, my thinking would be to double up all VPs, so that a Strategy was worth 8, and schemes were each worth 4, making a total of 16 available VPs in a game, allowing for more differentiation of scores. This would allow for greater balance between the difficulty of various objectives. When a Scheme can only be worth 1 or 2 VPs, it's impossible to reward the disparate difficulty levels of the different objectives.

Schemes Proposal
  •  Strategies to remain unchanged, but all VPs for victory conditions be doubled.
  •  Each Scheme be worth 4VPs. 
  •  Each Scheme to contain an objective worth 2VP, and a sub-objective worth 1VP.
  •  Each Scheme to be worth an additional 1VP if announced.
The reason I think this would help are several:

1) The current schemes are not balanced against each other. Some are easy to the point of being free VPs, and some are downright impossible or unrealistic to aim for. There's some argument for the fact that you can challenge yourself by taking harder schemes if that is your wish, but this is just as attainable by having two goals within each scheme, and easy objective and a hard objective. If you want to challenge yourself, you can aim for the full 16 points by trying for the full points for both schemes, or you can settle for just half points for completing the easier objective.

2) At present, it does not benefit you enough to choose to keep your scheme secret. Every time you choose not to announce, you deny yourself one-eighth of your available VPs, and therefore make the game that much harder to win. Announcing schemes is almost always the sensible thing to do, instead of it being a viable tactical decision. Many schemes are not made more difficult by announcing, so doubling the reward is unfair. When the "Announce bonus" is reduced to only a quarter of the Scheme's total points, it becomes less of an auto-take, and we might start seeing secret schemes being played, not to mention a bit of characterful subterfuge, which would be way more interesting!

3) In contrast, some schemes are only realistically achiveable when kept secret. Take Grudge for example, which invariably ends up with the target minion self sacrificing. My only chance to complete Grudge in a competitive setting is to keep it a secret.By reducing the penalty to only 1VP, it becomes a viable scheme again.
Here's what I'd do with the General Schemes list:

If the noted target Master or Henchmen is reduced to less than half Wds at the end of the Encounter, you score +1VP
If the noted target Master or Henchman is not in the game at the end of the Encounter, you score +2VP
Announced: +1VP
If the noted Master or Henchman was not removed from the game and is in play at the end of the Encounter, you score +2VP 
If the noted Master or Henchman ended the game on greater than half Wds remaining, you score +1VP
Announced: +1VP
If you have more models in your opponent's Deployment Zone than he or she does at the end of the Encounter, you score +2VPs
If all your surviving models are in your opponent's Deployment Zone at the end of the Encounter, you score +1VP
Announced: +1VP

If your opponent has no models with the selected characteristic in the game at the end of the Encounter, you score +3VP
Announced: +1VP

If the number of models you and your opponent have in play at the end of the Encounter differs by one or is equal model you score +2VP. 
If the number of models you and your opponent have in play at the end of the Enounter is equal, you score +1VP
Announced: +1VP
If the noted minion in your crew was killed or sacrificed by an enemy model during the encounter, you score +1VP
If the noted minion in your crew was killed or sacrificed by an opposing Master during the encounter, you score +2VP
Announced: +1VP
Target any enemy minion
If the noted minion is not in the game at the end of the Encounter, you score +1VP 
If the noted minion was killed by one of your non-Master models' melee Strikes or melee spells, you score +2VP

Announced: +1VP
If there are no enemy models completely within your Deployment Zone at the end of the game, you score +2VP
If no enemy model enters your Deployment Zone at any time during the course of the Encounter, you score +1VP
Announced: +1VP
Target the enemy minion with the highest Soulstone Cost.
If the noted minion is not in the game at the end of the Encounter, you score +1VP 
If one of your models killed the noted minion, you score +2VP
Announced: +1VP
If at least one of your models is in base contact with the nominated piece of terrain at the end of the encounter, you score +2VP
If one of your models makes a (2) Interact action with the nominated piece of terrain, and is in base contact with the terrain at the end of the Encounter, you score +1VP
Announced: +1VP
If one of your models steals the relic by the end of the encounter, you score +2VP
If that model is also in play at the end of the Encounter, you score +1VP
Announced: +1VP

I believe the same idea can be applied to the Faction and Master specific schemes. I might come back to them later, but I thought I'd throw it open to people on the forums for their input.

I don't believe any of the above Schemes are overly complicated to keep track of, or to tally up at the end of the game. Compared to a game like Warhammer which might require percentage calculations of destroyed units, totalling up of 1000s of points values of deceased models, etc, I think it's still incredibly simple.

What do you think?