The #ToMB guidelines state that every month each participant will allow themselves a budget of $25 with which to expand their model pools, but thankfully the first month's budget is a bit larger to get everybody started. With an initial Month 1 budget of $60 which I can spend on a crew box to get me on my way, I headed to the Wyrd web-store to see what was available. The only sensible place to start a Misaki crew from is, of course, The Thunder boxed set. Into the shopping cart it goes.
Coming in at $35, the box contains Misaki herself, her totem Shang the kitsune, Ototo the Angry Henchman and three deadly ninja minions, the Torakage. These six models on their own would be perfectly fine enough by themselves to play a small game of up to 35 soulstones, however with a "standard sized" Malifaux game being 50 soulstones on each side I would need a little more if I wanted to play the size of game that most people are used to.
So, with $25 left in the budget I decided that I would stick with the plan I have in my head to only build and paint plastic models (whether I can stick to this throughout the whole of #ToMB remains to be seen - the Ten Thunders plastic range isn't fully fleshed out yet) and grab some Thunder Archers. As a nice mid-range shooter, I figure these guys can support the rest of the crew, with the key ability on the Archers being that they can shoot into melee without having to randomise to see if they hit their friends. With most of those friends, and crucially Misaki herself, wanting to be close to the action, this could be very useful indeed.
The Archers cost $21, so that more or less accounts for my Month 1 allowance. I get to keep the remaining unspent $4 aside, which I can carry forwards to add to my meagre Month 2 allowance which is going to drop to only $25 next month.
I should point out that because these boxed sets were ordered directly from the Wyrd webstore, they came with an "M2E" sticker on the front, and 2nd edition stat cards inside. Boxed sets bought from UK retailers could potentially be from older stock including 1st edition cards i.e. not compatible with the new rules. If you end up with one of these older boxes, you can find up-to-date stat cards in the Ten Thunders "Arsenal deck", which also includes the Ten Thunders generic Upgrade cards. Indeed, you might want to grab the Arsenal deck anyway so that you have access to these Upgrades, and this is exactly what I did. I also picked up an Outcast Arsenal deck in case I wanted to expand the crew in that direction as well (because, as a Dual-faction master, Misaki can lead crews from either the Ten Thunders or Outcasts factions).
The only other things I needed in order to play my first game with the crew would be a Rulebook and a Fate Deck. I already have a the former, and a sizeable collection of the latter, so I didn't need to factor those into my purchase plans.
I was eager to get started working on the new models as soon as they hit my doormat, so in a flagrant breach of the #ToMB guidelines I started assembly before the official start date. So sue me...!
Before I show them off in their grey plastic glory, some musings on the kits themselves:
- The Thunder boxed set was (alongside Mei Feng's Rail Crew and Jakob Lynch's Dark Debts Crew), Wyrd's first attempt at making plastic boxed crews, and it shows.
- The kit is *awful* to assemble. I consider myself a skilled modeller. I have steady hands, a razor sharp knife, and a lot of modelling experience (no, not that kind...), but I struggled to assemble these figures. I would hate for a true beginner to the game to be faced with this kit as their first experience of Malifaux, as I honestly believe it has the potential put people off the game before they even get started.
- Many of the pieces are attached to the sprue using chunky joins that don't clearly differentiate between where the sprue ends and the model starts. My advice for others assembling this box is to be conservative and cut off closer to the sprue than you think you need to. You can always carefully trim off the excess afterwards to get the correct fit.
- The pieces of the six models are spread all over the sprue, and it comes with no instructions. Although the pieces of each model are labelled A-F for The Thunder, and A-C for the Archers, I found this picture incredibly useful as a reference. Thanks to whomever created it!
- While the recent new M2E plastics have been accused of having fiddly bits, the Misaki boxed set takes it to the extreme. Chains, spears and arrows are modelled at true scale, and protrude from the model at all angles. This means you get arrows that are thinner than the average sewing pin, that you have to cut from the sprue without them breaking. Good luck with that... I had to make several repair jobs to damaged pieces, some of which had been knocked off the sprue in transit before I even opened it.
- The Ten Thunder Archers are probably the worst offenders. Their heads come in 4 pieces, three of which fit ambiguously in sockets, all need to be glued simultaneously, and are too small for adult fingers to properly manipulate. I spent around an hour just gluing together the three heads correctly.
Here's the crew, with the notable absence of its Master. As you can see, I've decided to go with a slate rock basing scheme - the plan is that it will will be decorated in autumn foliage after painting. I had a lot of fun gluing the rocks into different configurations, and the dynamic poses of the models made for some great action shots.
I've never been a fan of the posing on Misaki herself - if you want to make your mark on the model, the high kicking leg means that people find themselves having to justify the ridiculous pose, and there's only so many variations of "Misaki high-kicking something behind her" out there. My original plan for the crew was to do something similar to Matt Spooner, who perfectly depicted her in the theme of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, leaping between bamboo shoots. I didn't want to be derivative though, so came up with a plan to dissect the model and reassemble it in a new pose.
Although this might seem daunting, working in plastic makes this easier than it sounds. I cut off her right leg at the hip joint, spun it around, and re-positioned her knee. I was going to model her with the Bisento in both arms held like a spear, but I had to cut it in half in order to rotate the arms into forward positions, and at that point it seemed more natural to leave her with two weapons. The blade on the raised weapon is taken from an old Warhammer Empire Halbardier I had in my bits box. A bit of greenstuff work to fill in the gaps, and she was good to go.
I'm really pleased with the final model - I actually didn't need to move or remove her feet at all, but they've still come out looking like she's gracefully tip-toeing around her stalked prey.
Painting will commence through the rest of February and early March, and hopefully I'll have some more colourful pictures to show off next month.
Nothing to report as yet.
I'll get the initial crew test driven in the coming weeks, and have some feedback on their performance to report for next time. It would be nice if I could only put painted models on the tabletop, so it's possible that my initial games with Misaki will be on Vassal until I can get some models completed and off my painting table. My resolve on this point is likely to waver though.
That's it for Month 1. Don't forget to check back on the 17th March to see how I get on, and to tell me off for failing to get even half of this stuff painted!
Tale of Malifaux Bloggers is a group project in which a small group of players document the process of collecting, painting and playing with their new Malifaux crews over a period of several months. For further information, check out Episode 10 of Chasing Bacon or the introductory post on Play it Like Beatdown . A list of participants can be found on the Wyrd forum thread