Saturday, September 14, 2013

Painted Into A Corner Is Moving!

Well, it turns out I like blogging a lot more than I thought I would.  If you're going to do something, and you're going to do it right, you might as well do it right now.  My blog can now be found at:

Over the next week I will be working to migrate everything over to the new site, but I hope to keep up my Tuesday / Thursday / Saturday schedule as I've been doing for the past few weeks.  Please come visit my new site and let me know what you think!


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Better Know Your Malifaux 007: Lady Justice

As the defenders of humanity in Malifaux, the Guild are beset on all sides by enemies, both within their ranks and without. While the Neverborn and the Gremlins threaten to overwhelm the Guild with sheer numbers, the Ten Thunders and Acanists work to tear down their plans on Malifaux's city streets.  Each faction is set on increasing their own power, but none of these threats are so insidiously corrupting as the Resurrectionists, the dark practitioners of the necromantic arts.  It is this enemy that the enigmatic Lady Justice has dedicated herself to combating, leading her Death Marshals in expunging the Resurrectionist taint wherever it can be found.

 Like the eye of a hurricane, Justice remains calm in the whirl of battle, directing her troops with steadfast discipline and executing her mission with a placid efficiency.  Justice is a force of nature with her Greatsword - Her combat prowess is second to none and with her Critical Strike trigger she can take out even Howard Langston with a single well-placed blow.  If an enemy has the nerve to take a swing at her, Lady Justice will punish the attacker for a miss with a deadly Riposte.  If she needs a little boost, the Vendetta Trigger gives her two more triggers - Onslaught gives her additional attacks and Vengeance gives her a positive on damage, letting her cheat the flip in a greater variety of situations.

The Judge and the rest of the Marshals hold Lady Justice in the highest of esteem, not just as their leader but also as a paragon of their office.  When she kills a model in close combat her Inspiring Swordplay inspires them to fight harder.  With the Last Stand upgrade she gains the ability to ignore terrain and bring her Marshals with her on a charge, allowing her Crew to stay within her inspirational range.  Restore Natural Order lets her keep a level playing field for her team - removing all conditions from everyone within range.

As deadly as she is in close combat, and as effective as she is as a leader, Lady Justice offers no support to her Crew at range.  With no shooting or casting at her disposal she is dependent on terrain and speed to close the gap between her and her opponent.  The healing ability of Juggernaut and the safety offered by Covering Fire help her survive as she crosses the board, but she can also benefit from the added protection of either the Thalarian Stone or the Badge of Office upgrades.

In the event that she is called to face a Resurrectionist on the tabletop, she has a whole bag of tricks available to her that specifically counter their strengths.  Final Repose allows her to ensure that anything she kills stays dead, while the Justice Unleashed upgrade lets her clear any corpses that fall to the weapons of others and gives her a powerful burst attack versus undead.  Flames of the Pit turns the table on the Marshals' terrifying quarry, making Justice's crew immune to Horror and giving them all their own Horror vs. Undead.

Because the Death Marshals protect the citizens of Malifaux from the most horrific of enemies they have earned a place in the hearts of the populace,  Lady Justice in particular is placed high on a pedestal.  What is not as well known is the price they have had to pay to keep the peace.  Each Death Marshal learns elements of the dark arts, knowledge that corrupts the body and the mind.  Unlike her Guild Marshal allies, Lady Justice appears physically untouched by the ravages of this forbidden knowledge.  What is not known is what effect it has had on her psyche.  As the Avatar of Balance Lady Justice walks the thin line between life and death, between sanity and madness.  She holds the centre line for the sake of humanity, and she will hold it as long as she is able.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Gaming Update: Notes From Demo Night

Nothing helps cement your understanding of the rules like explaining them to someone else. Not only do you get a fresh set of eyes looking at the mechanics, but as a third party you get to hang back and get a birds' eye view of the game as it unfolds. Here are a few of the things I learned or rediscovered tonight while running Demo games at X Planet.

Malifaux's Card Mechanic Is A Show Stopper

The local store has a lot of Warmachine players, a lot of Magic players and an assortment of Infinity, Flames of War and Games Workshop enthusiasts. There are also a lot of players who hobby in more than one system.  After playing Malifaux nearly exclusively for the last year it was easy to forget how unique the Malifaux rules really are.  The sight of gamers standing over a table covered in terrain and miniatures is familiar, but replace dice with hands of cards and people want to come over and have a look-see.

The card mechanic is instinctive, but with so much depth.  Most anyone I've shown it to has understood it almost immediately, but it is still best described in layers.  The cards replace dice, but with a whole separate dimension brought into it with the suits.  Add in the jokers at the top and bottom of the curve and new players get the sense of the mechanic. By when you explain how the hand works, how cheating works, and finally how Soulstones work, you can see the new players' eyes light up as they grok the full scope of the game. 

Flay Is Better Than I Thought

Flay is a common Neverborn Trigger, found on a large number of their models.  Sure, it lets you cheat when you're on negatives, I already knew that was very good.  I guess I also knew that it would be just as good regardless of how many negatives were in play.  What I wasn't prepared for was seeing a Death Marshal get Flayed by an Illuminated on a tied duel.   That's a triple negative, using the worst of four cards for damage, and the Illuminated didn't care, he just cheated in a Severe and cut the poor Marshal in half. 

Bad Things Happen, Even To Good People

Lady Justice was the central model in the game, taking an early charge opportunity to one-shot an Illuminated (I got to explain to the new players what glorious things happen when you flip that pretty Red Joker on a damage flip).  She finished the turn in a good position to have her pick of targets the following activation.

On turn two Justice won initiative and threw another charge at the second Illuminated, ready to notch up another easy kill.  With a full hand of cards and a Wp of 6 she flipped into the Terror 10 test fearlessly and... Black Joker.  Lady Justice was stuck in the middle of the field all by herself with a full enemy Crew yet to activate.  Predictably, she did not survive much longer.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Malifaux Quality: Be Careful What You Ask For

No, no.  Don't get up.
When I first got into Malifaux a year and a half ago I was amazed by the aesthetic of the miniatures but I was also stunned by the inconsistency of quality.  Some figures were great, with a good balance of design and execution.  Others looked as if they were made in a decade gone by and I was surprised to see that they were only a few years old.  Even Teddy, the first model that drew me to the game, seemed to be have been made with archaic tools as he was menacing to look at from the front, but completely flat when viewed from the side.

I've heard a lot of reasons as to why this was, but they all boil down to the fact that Wyrd has exploded at an amazing pace and as a result some of the models that for other companies might have represented stepping stones were current range for the young company.  That was fine by me, the models were dripping with flavour and I wanted them all (well, almost all).  Each one seemed to whisper a little story, for the first time in a long time I felt that the models were not game pieces as much as characters; fighting was not what the only thing they were for, fighting was just a thing that they did as part of a broader existence.  Still though, there was a great disparity between models like the Witchling Stalkers and Colette's Showgirls and I craved a higher quality of manufacture.

Last year, everything changed.  With the release of the Ten Thunders faction boxes and the introduction of modern Malifaux plastics, Wyrd went back to the drawing board and gave us a tweaked design, incredible computer generated sculpts and blazing levels of detail.  We went from gawky metal Ten Thunder Brothers to dynamic plastic Ten Thunder Torakage.  The news sculpts were of a quality almost unheard of, rivaling Games Workshop for quality and consistency of plastics while surpassing them in terms of casting and intricacy.

This new style has continued into the Malifaux 2e releases, with each of the reconcepted Masters getting the treatment.  Arms are longer, wrists are thinner, and nary is there a place thick enough to work a pin vice.  The new models are over-the-top dynamic, gorgeous and delicate.

Too Much of a Good Thing?

This is hard to say, but Wyrd, I feel like your models may now be too awesome.  I love them, I love owning them, I love painting them, but the thing is, when it comes to miniatures I also love playing with them.  My Guild Riflemen are complicated little statues, but they are more akin to Royal Dalton than Privateer Press when it comes to ruggedness.  Sure, Death Marshals leaping off of flaming coffins look cool on my shelf, but how on Earth am I going to get them to the game store?  You sold me a plastic Beckoner and a metal base insert, but her ankles are thinner than my drill bit.  How am I supposed to even assemble this?

I'm not mad really, if I had to choose between models that stretch me and require work or models that are slap-dash and don't, I know what I'll choose every time.  I guess all I'm saying is that I really can't handle any more delicacy.  Let's draw a line here and call it done, ok?

Broken Justice

Hey Justice, you know that's only half a sword, right?
Lady Justice is the latest casualty of this strange scenario.  Her blade was so thin and so long that I accidentally bent it while I was cutting it from the sprue.  One mishandled drop later and she can no longer properly represent her 2" melee range.  No matter how many times I tried to glue it in place, it just wouldn't hold.

I had a similar situation with Lucas McCabe when one of his arms broke (there was an extra arm in the box thankfully) and again when assembling the Guild Riflemen (one of them just doesn't get a knife now).

So the solution to my Justice dilemma:  I went out and bought a piece of brass that is 1/32" by 1/32" by 6" long and I'm going to have to make her a new sword.  I will cut the existing one off the model and attach the replacement blade to the hilt so I can use her cheek as a second contact point so I can get a better hold.  I want a model I can bring to the table after all, not just a pretty showpiece.  It should work, I'll post the results when I'm done.

The other solution:  I guess I have to grow up and be a little more careful with my toys.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Update: Better Know Your Malifaux

The first six posts of my 285 part series Better Know Your Malifaux are now complete and can be accessed above on the title bar.  So far I've only written up the Ortegas from book one but I'm going to keep moving until I complete all of them - next stop is Lady Justice and the Death Marshals!

Better Know Your Malifaux

At the same time I'm working to photograph every model I've painted and post them online.  I've photographed and posted only a handful to this point, but they can be viewed from my Pinterest page dedicated to such matters.  Until such time as I catch up on everything, only models from Project: Guild are in the gallery.

Project: Guild

I would love to know what you all think of what I've got up so far, is it worth continuing in this direction?  Please let me know in the comments or shoot me an email with any tips or suggestions.

As always, thanks for reading.

Better Know Your Malifaux 006: Niño Ortega

As the youngest operative of the Ortega family, Niño Idolizes his older siblings, in particular his sister Perdita. Smaller than the rest, he uses his size and stealth to bring a unique tool to the Family's battle plan. Niño's contribution to his family's success on the battlefield is larger than his small size and young age would suggest.  Ranging ahead of the rest of the Crew, Niño sets up in an ideal position to bring his deadly Custom Repeating Rifle to bear.  From his forward position he can work to control the battlefield, often getting off the first shot of the encounter and causing the enemy to cling to cover.

For the most part it's best to think of the youngest Ortega as a turret.  Although Niño has an impressive Df, above average for a book one enforcer, his remaining stats are average to poor at best.  This is why it is so vital to make sure you maximize From the Shadows during deployment to make sure he doesn't need to move (his Wk being the same as the Enslaved Nephilim... A guy with a ball and chain strapped to his leg).  A strong opening position with good sight lines also let's you use Spotter to lock-down your opponent's ability to place Scheme markers near the rest of the Family.  Should someone actually get to grips with Niño he can use "Where'd He Go?" to escape being engaged or Shrug Off to remove a negative condition.

Niño's main ability, the reason that you take him with you in your Crew, is his aforementioned Rifle. His Sh is low for an Enforcer's primary attack but this is offset by his positive twist.  Most importantly, Niño extends his rifle range to a whopping 36" when he takes a Focus Action prior to shooting. Two of his Triggers, Critical Strike and Precision, are fueled by his built-in Ram.  His third Trigger, Headshot, requires a Crow and a target within 10” to get off but can result in instant death for a model who can't pay either two Soulstones or two cards to avoid it.

None of the current Upgrades are a very strong match for Niño as all three of those available to Family require him to be uncomfortably close to the enemy. Niño doesn't have enough wounds to really make Lead Lined Coat worth the points.  Theoretically there could be situations where Plant Evidence would be of benefit since it can be an automatic Marker for such Schemes as Breakthrough, Plant Evidence or A Line In The Sand.  Beyond these limited situations you can probably spend your Soulstones more wisely. 

Once a must-include powerhouse under the first edition rules, Niño is now a much more subtle tool in the Guild arsenal.  He no longer dominates the field as he once did and this has caused many of his detractors to disregard him entirely.  He is absolutely a trickier model to play now, but the ability to be up field before the game starts can not be dismissed in a five turn game.  Second edition also introduced the Vantage Point rules which Niño is uniquely suited for, being able to shoot over terrain is a great combination with a 36" range.  The test will come when the rules for the rest of the Ortega models are released and we can see him at his full potential. 

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Better Know Your Malifaux 005: Papa Loco

Once a powerful and wise leader, the man now known as Papa Loco is no longer in complete control of his mental faculties.  The reasons for his break with reality are unspoken, but whatever the cause there seems to be no cure - even an extended stay in the Malifaux Sanitarium was unable to provide relief.  Due to his mental infirmity he no longer leads his family, either on the battlefield or in the homestead, but has instead handed over control to his daughter Perdita.  Even still, Papa will often insist on going along with the family when they go to battle, arming himself with a variety of homemade explosives.  Out of respect for their patriarch emeritus the Ortegas never say no, but they are smart enough to not stand too close when he starts flinging the dynamite.

In his delicate state, Papa Loco wins the contest for least defensive Enforcer in the game.  With a combined Wp and Df of eight no one else has stats that low without also having a defensive trigger or ability.  Whether it's a complete lack of self-preservation, or whether the demons in his skull demand that he end his own life, Papa Loco offers very little resistance to anyone who dedicates themselves to taking him out.  Crossing the great open table to get within range of his foes is the hard part.  Luckily his Crew is well-equipped for the challenge with several abilities to help him get a head start on his activation.  Papa himself has Companion so can launch the assault right after he is given a boost.  Hold This returns the favour, giving his ally within 2" a rare bonus to attack that lasts past the end of the turn until the start of Papa's next activation.

Although uniquely vulnerable at before he gets there, once Papa closes to short range he owns his space.  Both Throw Dynamite and the close combat Dynamite Punch attacks have significant blast effects that can do a lot of damage close up while "Te Llevare al Infierno Conmigo" can hit everyone within 4" for a whopping six damage, including mandatory damage to Papa himself.  This is more often than not part of the plan since his ability Boom! has him do five damage to everyone within 3" when he expires.

As of the content of book one, the Upgrades available to Papa are not of the highest calibre for his play Hermanos De Armas and Diestro are both at odds with his armament and Torementa De Plomo is a watered-down version of his own "Te Llevare al Infierno Conmigo" (although it would be nice to avoid the self-inflicted wounds).  Papa can get some use out of Lead Lined Coat to help him get up the battlefield unmolested - it also provides some protection for when he inevitably blows himself up.  Plant Evidence seems tailor-made for a model that wants to get into the enemy's face and expire and is a good situational pick-up should the Scheme pool call for it, otherwise it seems that Papa Loco might find himself on the field with an empty Upgrade slot.

Regardless of how you use him, Papa Loco is unlikely to see the end of turn five, so the trick is to make sure your Crew makes the most of his sacrifice.  Capitalizing on the Family's many movement and out-of-activation Abilities, Papa Loco can rapidly launch up the field to the point where his proximity can disrupt your opponent's plan and force him to make difficult decisions.  Does he take out the walking bomb and suffer the consequences, or does he burn multiple AP to reposition his entire Crew to avoid the madman?  Either way Papa exerts his will on the table, influencing everyone within his significant radius.