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?

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

062 - GenCon Preview Extravaganza

The GenCon rumour-mill has been running away with itself lately, fuelled by Wyrd giving us plenty of glimpses behind the curtain. Here’s a brief rundown of the sneak peaks that we’ve been treated to in the last few weeks. I’ll update this post as and when new previews appear - please let me know if I miss any!

Book 4 itself is going to be called Storm of Shadows, and will introduce a new sixth faction, the Ten Thunders. That much is certain. It’s been heavily hinted that the Ten Thunders minions will be spread across the existing five factions, with their Masters able to hire cross-faction any model with a Ten Thunders characteristic. Speculation is that the new Masters will each fit one of the current faction archtypes, meaning we’ll be able to build both themed and generic TT crews from the outset. If true, this seems like a great way to introduce a new faction and reinforce the existing factions in one stroke. Kudos Wyrd.

The cover art is impressively evocative, however I question where it’s meant to be? Does Eastern architecture in that style exist Breachside?

More artwork from the new book. These three lovely ladies look to be ninja-assassin types. It’s unknown with which other faction their allegiances may lie, but I’m anticipating a link to the expected upgraded Misaki. All female crew perhaps?

Un-named Ressurectionist minion - the picture is named “Trick or Treat”. Does he look to you like someone that might appear as part of a Halloween story pack?

Un-named Neverborn minion – the picture is named “My Hands Can Touch Anything But Themselves”. Maybe we’re looking at a minion with some sort of electricity/energy conducting powers?

Un-named Outcast minion – the picture is named “GremWow” which doesn’t give much away. He has a bag of tricks, a fu-manchu moustache and… 3 hands?

Ressurectionist/TT Wallpaper – You wanted Malifaux skeletons? Here they are, along with a look at a creepy old man who might just be the new Resser/TT Master. His main claim to fame though, is in having the biggest forehead in Malifaux.

Arcanist/TT Wallpaper – A couple of rather generic minion types (although very cool looking if the models can match the art) and a giant living-metal construct-thing that thwacks people with an iron girder? Mike approves.

On the left, the Alt Executioner. A pleasingly ferocious vision of one of Wyrds most iconic models. On the right, a hanging tree with two bodies. Speculated that this year’s Nightmare Edition alts will be the Hanged, possibly accompanying Jack Daw.

I'm not sure about this critter. He looks a little bit like some kind of Pokemon. Still, it could be that Sonnia Criid crews are about to get a lot more firey!

Continuing the firey theme, here's Ragnaros' younger sibling. There's a thread of elementalism running through these releases - looking at Misaki's current abilities, I'm inclined to suspect that it will be the theme of the Ten Thunders.

The guy on the left is new, some sort of Baron Samedi-esque zombie voodoo type? He looks more Master/Henchman than minion though, so who knows. Perhaps a unique named minion a la Jaakuna Ubume?

[EDIT 11th July 2012]

This one, called "Magic", appears to be a Neverborn preview. The characters on the left all have shining white eyes, suggesting possession of some sort. Does Malifaux already have enough scantily clad ladies? Of course not! The gigantic beasty on the right looks kinda like the image has been blown up, there isn't enough detail, and so I don't think we're seeing him to scale.

[EDIT 18th July 2012]

A few more pictures have appeared over the last week:
It took a lot of work for the community to track down all twelve of the puzzle pieces making up these two previews, and the results are certainly interesting! The Breachside Broadcast tells how these guys are a couple of union miners who were involved in a train accident, and were subsequently put back together by Ramos. It appears that Ramos didn't have access to all the pieces, so filled in the gaps with some spare parts. I suspect these will be a new generic Arcanist minion - they need some more variety in the 4-5 SS range.

Caught on camera at Comicon, this is a computer visualisation of the Nightmare Edition Hanging Tree, coming to a GenCon near you (or not!) very soon. Apparently the corpses can be removed somehow and used as Hanged, but I think it will make an excellent piece of scenery in it's own right.

This one is called "Gangs", and it's been suggested that the influence here is the Scorsese film Gangs of New York. If these are yet another generic minion (Guild? Outcast?) then each one of the three has a unique and characterful look to them. It would be the first time we've ever seen concept art for all 3 variants of a minion though. Could they perhaps be named characters? Part of a new crew box?

This picture is called "Mist". Another beautiful pig miniature to add to the game can never be a bad thing. I love the armor made out of kitchen utensils. The luminous Gremlin in the foreground has what appears to be a gun with 20 barrels. Some sort of repeating pistol then? I'm not sure why, but he doesn't seem like he fits as a Malifaux-type character to me.

Breachside Broadcast has this model captioned as a new Ressurectionist minion, but she looks nothing of the sort. Perhaps she's intended to work with Kirai, but why does she look like she's still alive? Is she floating on a cloud of blue fire? Hmmm...

061 - I'm Baaaaaack!

It’s customary after a long absence from a blog to return with the proclamation “I’m not dead!”. I’m gonna level with you though – I *am* dead. Luckily I was raised by Seamus though, and I’ve been working overtime as a Dead Doxy in the Southern Slums to pay back the debt. I’ve had better months.

I seriousness though, I hope to return to my regular posting schedule from now on.

I don’t need to tell you that a lot has been happening since I last mused on the game. GenCon is only a month away, and previews of the upcoming releases have been drip-drip-dripping out of Wyrd as though from a leaky tap of concentrated liquid excitement. The Dead Heat campaign is currently in full swing, offering a fun narrative backdrop to our summer games and a way for players to affect the story in ways never before known in Malifaux. A deluge of excellent new player-contributed Malifaux podcasts and Youtube video series look set to introduce a wealth of new blood to the game. And lets not forget the recent drama… errr… discussion, on the forums. Shhh! Don’t mention the Red Joker!

I’ll be musing on all these developments over the next few weeks, so stay tuned!