Category Archives: Malifaux

How Do You Eat Yours?


Rather than being a discussion of one of the best chocolate products invented by the hand of man today’s topic is going to be about how you plan and build your armies. There are a number of different ways in which this can be accomplished and I’ve actually been through a couple of ways myself, although I have one method that, while not the best perhaps, seems to always come out on top when I get that buzz of “ZOMG, new models, must have!!!!11!!!!!!one!!!!!”

I’ll split the various ways out and then expound on them, please feel free to comment on which is your preferred method or add something totally different.

 

The Core Method

This method revolves around the fact that most games have a set amount of stuff that must be included to field a minimum sized force. Games like 40k make this easy as you can pick an HQ unit and two Troops choices for a viable army, to play with though you’ll need an agreed points value, this is where I like Privateer Press’ products as you can get starter boxes which give forces balanced to play each other in order for people to learn the rules. Uncharted Seas and the new Firestorm Armada also work off this premise with their starter boxes.

We kind of hybridised this method when starting 5th edition 40k. We knew we wanted to play 1000pts games, I’d sold all my 40k stuff to get something a bit different and therefore started my Orks at that points level, I could then see what I lacked and adapt accordingly (more boyz!). This is in fact one of the core benefits of doing things like this. You can play your force and see what is lacking which can guide future purchases when you expand your army,¬† my 1500pts force therefore fills practically every troops slot available and after playing it I’ve further modified the list to make the Boyz squads fewer but bigger. They butcher stuff in close combat even with only a few of them but they tend to take horrific casualties as they cross the plains to reach their foes. Bumping them up in size means there are more ablative wounds hopefully meaning that more boyz can get stuck in later on. I do realise though that with making the squads larger that there are therefore less squads which means less targets for the enemy to worry about. Hopefully the covering fire of the Lootas still provides a distraction as well as Big Mek “Mr Suicide” who has yet to build a Shokk Attack Gun that lasts more than one shot.

Starting small also means that you aren’t laying down a lot of cash straight away. Obviously if you are starting out with something for the first time you’re going to be guided by what you like the look of, not necessarily knowing how it will play. You may like it, you may not so spending as little as possible is a potential benefit.

 

The Proxy Method

This has happened with a number of the lists I have produced for my Daemons in Fantasy. If you already have some models then this can work out but you’ll want to have your opponents consent and make sure he knows what is what. Proxying (for the uninitiated) is the process whereby you use a model you have to represent something else. I’ve not done this for an entire army as I believe that would get very difficult for your opponent to deal with, but I have expanded units beyond the model count I own or used single stand in models before spending money on proper representations. This has the advantage that you don’t go out and spend money on something before you know if it does what you want or work in the way you expect.

 

The ZombiePirate Method

Here we go, the method by which I generally do things. With most people when they first look at getting anything the first place that is started is with the ruleset for that particular army. This works across all systems as if you get a rulebook with all the forces in them or you have to pick up individual army books you’re going to be looking through them working out what you like the look of. The start of this method can work with other methods already described, what I do is have a nice read through the book, I looks at the units and their physical stats as well as stuff that I like the look of models wise. I will choose not to collect an army if their models luck bad, no matter how awesome the rules might be and so I take my picks and write-up a list for the normal game size, 1500pts 40k, 2000pts Warhammer Fantasy, 25ss Malifaux, 35 or 50pts Warmachine/Hordes etc… For the majority of these times what I will then do is make a purchase of the entire army, maybe in stages but sometimes in one huge bank busting blaze of debit card. Now, obviously depending on the army you’ve chosen this particular method can do more or less damage to your wallet. This also means you are laying down a whole wad of greenbacks on a force that has not yet seen action so you’re not sure about how it is going to perform, this is the chief downside of doing things this way, however, there is also another drawback that is almost at the same scale.

When you’ve bought everything you need in one batch you have an entire army arrayed before you, this can cause morale issues as you are presented with just how much stuff you’re going to need to build/paint. In days of yore I’ve assembled whole armies and left them on my painting table showing me in no uncertain terms just how much work I have left if I want to do it all. This is perhaps one of the greatest reasons why I never get stuff done, after seeing it all I chop and change from one thing to another. My current project is not done in this manner, I am doing things one at a time and leaving my table clear in order to do so, nothing else is cluttering it up (bar a Lord of Change and the aforementioned Big Mek “Orky McSuicide”). I am hoping that by having a more structured approach to things I stand a better chance of getting things finished. I’m looking forward to this weekend and setting myself the challenge of getting some figures actually done, I am away in London on Saturday so this may not be achievable but I’m going to give it a shot to push myself.

Time and time again I’ve fallen back on this method, written out an army list and then gone out and bought more and more stuff so that I have it all. I don’t know why I do this but I know that getting things piecemeal can actually be more beneficial (method 1 in the list here).My preferred method is probably the worst one but I’m sure each gamer has their own style and works in their own way, so don’t let anything here prevent you from doing what you want.

 

So then Intarwebz, when creating your ideal army, how do you eat yours?

Slow News Day


In what may be classed a “slow news day”, or, “I have things to post but don’t have the time to do it at the moment” er… day I thought I’d just make a quick note that people probably already know all about. Current 6 Inch Move favourite Uncharted Seas has a new cousin. Spartan Games have released information about their latest release, the futuristic Firestorm Armada. As I haven’t seen the core rules I’ll hold back from calling this Uncharted Seas in space, yet I can imagine that there are probably going to be a lot of similarities between the game as the rules set for the naval battles we are using are pretty solid.

There are a decent number of races to play and they will be releasing each in a starter box as per US, keep an eye on their website as they will be updating it with piccies and information regarding the new game. I know that some people have been waiting with bated breath for this to finally hit the shelves. Even with the love for US that we have in our gaming circles at the moment I don’t think we’ll be seeing this added to our list of games, we’ve really got enough on our plates before throwing in extra things.

In other new, Wyrd, the company behind global phenomenon Malifaux have updated their website, not to the pleasing of some of their customers judging by threads on their forums. Check it out if you want though, it’s certainly different to the way it was before.

Conventions in Gaming – Army Lists


This post has been blowing around in my head for a while. I’ve known that I wanted to continue through the various aspects of tabletop gaming under the “Conventions in Gaming” moniker as I believe that we can gain valuable insight into the things we take for granted and look at ways to make our games more interesting or perhaps just to see something in a new light. However, the structure to this post has eluded me for the past couple weeks so we’ll see how this goes.

I am sure we have all been there, pad of paper, calculator, rulebook/army book spread out over the table crunching numbers to try and come up with a list that is full of synergy as well as butt-whoopin’ awesomeness. Assigning costs to models has long been an established way of making sure that a fight can be “balanced.” I am using quote marks there because of the general cries that go up around the Internet when something new comes out that means that you can come up with an unstoppable force that seems way too powerful against a normally balanced all-comers force. Yes, I do play Chaos Daemons and no I have not taken an all Tzeentch army or Skulltaker. Army lists provide a way for us to develop forces and in many ways will determine the purchases we make as there are a number of factors that can influence how we build our armies.

For instance, some people will start off picking armies through the models that they like. We’ve all been there, a company comes out with a model that is 17 kinds of awesome, we have to have it, yet, when the rules are read, or it is put onto the battlefield it stinks the place up. Others will pore over the stats and rules for an army and try to squeeze those models into a list of the appropriate value. Some people may even take a mix of both methods. Different companies also release to us the means by which we can mould our forces in differing ways. For instance, Games Workshop has gone down the route of releasing a main rulesbook and then you have to buy a separate Army Book to be able to use your force in the game. Privateer Press when Warmachine and Hordes came out released all the information for their models in the rulebook itself, you didn’t have to buy another book to build a force to put on the table, they then released expansions to the main rules that added in new ones but also released new units for each faction. With the development of Mk 2 they are actually bringing out rulebooks a la GW but after that initial release it’ll be back to the original format of new releases being covered in expansion books. Uncharted Seas and Malifaux both contain all the details for their respective forces within the main rulebook. I’ll give a shout out to Spartan Games (makers of Uncharted Seas) here because the new fleets and rules they release for free on their website. Kudos to them for making things available so readily.

There are alternatives to the pen and paper approach, there are various pieces of software you can download to make the process easier. Wolf’s Lair’s Army Builder is a decent program (you have to pay for it) that allows you to create army lists for loads of games and there is an active community that creates the files that allow you to build the armies for certain games. Then there are things like Armies of Immoren for the Iron Kingdoms worlds, it’s a free download that makes army building a little easier, I even have iBodger on my iPhone which allows me to make Warmachine lists wherever I am. I know there are people with Excel spreadsheets that they have set up for the express purpose of creating lists to play with.

Now, speaking more specifically about what happens with GW books there is a common misconception out there. With 40K or Warhammer there are established points limits that are the “ideal” game size, 1500pts for 40K and 2000pts for Warhammer. Yet, although the armies are supposedly balanced around that points values there is no way to perform a direct comparison between the value of a model in one force and that in another. For example, in the Warriors of Chaos book the standard Marauder is 4pts and is a bargain. I have heard complaints from Bretonnian players that their Man-at-Arms costs more than this for a much worse profile. While both are rank and file infantry they are different in terms of how they fit into the armies, Marauders are a lot more offensive than Men-at-Arms and once both armies are fully arrayed things should be balanced, but comparing points costs from one unit to another in a different army cannot be done, the points values are the cost to the army that they are for and are not meant to be taken in any way as a broad comparison of the value of that troop type. This is one of my pet peeves with GW stuff, when a new army book comes out people inevitably look at something and declare it to be undercosted because “I have to pay X for X.” It’s not a good argument.

There are also different ways of costing things. GW and Privateer use Points costs whereas Malifaux uses Soulstones and this offers a slightly different mechanic into the game. Working with points generally means you have a limit that you cannot go over. Personally I have spent much time trying to squeeze something into those last few points or having to make hard decisions about what to axe to fit into the agreed limit. With Malifaux you have a set number of soulstones to spend on recruiting your crew, any unspent stones go into your pool and allow you to Cheat Fate during the game, which I quite like, it gives you a small bonus in some ways if you do find yourself with something left over.

So, what is the point of this whole post? Well I suppose it is to try and get your thoughts about how you go about preparing a force for the tabletop. I know for our Uncharted Seas games at the minute we are just using the starter boxes however, we each actually have a second starter box each (hence my rolling out of a Broadside Reaper in our last game) that we can use to expand our fleets which will mean we start working to points limits rather than arbitrary collections. In the real world of course there are no careful balancing of forces and history is replete with heroic stands made by vastly outnumbered forces. However, there is nothing stopping us from actually creating our own battles based on these ideas. Just because we do actually have an army list doesn’t mean we can’t throw it away from time to time and just have a game purely for the fun of it. It can provide an interesting diversion to your usual scheduled games.

While we do rely on these things for the majority of the games we play, cutting ourselves loose may help to reinvigorate an otherwise stale gaming environment. I believe this is why things like Apocalypse have become so popular. As I said at the beginning I have struggled with this post for a couple weeks, knowing I wanted to discuss army lists but without knowing where it would take us. I hope this post has been of some benefit other than me pumping out 1300 words of nonsense.

Who knows what I’ll come out with next time?

Malifaux – Loot Review


Last night I had a (brief) opportunity to sit down at the modelling desk (also known as the dining table) to start on my Malifaux stuff. By start I really mean assemble as I won’t get any time to even consider painting until the weekend and even then only if the weather is compliant to allow me to basecoat what I have ready. As I’ve been waiting for such a long time for all these pieces to arrive I thought I’d give a run down of my first impressions of the items I have received.

The obvious place to start therefore is with exactly what I ordered in the first place. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts Malifaux uses cards rather than dice as the mechanic for you to succeed or fail and the game itself has numerous factions you can represent on the tabletop. You can band the factions together as Guild, Arcanists, Resurrectionists, Neverborn and Outcasts. Each of these factions has three starter boxes that you can use to kick off your collection. Nearly every single one of these boxes sold out when the game was released to an unsuspecting public, hence why some people have been experiencing vast delays in getting their hands on their loot.

Each of these factions also has a colour associated with it, Burgundy for Guild, Blue for Arcanists, Green for Resurrectionists, Purple for Neverborn and Yellow for Outcasts. Due to the card mechanic of the game you can use any set of cards, however, Malifaux has its own suits, Rams, Masks, Tomes and Crows, as well as two Jokers. So, if you want to use a standard set of cards you need to remember stuff. Therefore when I grabbed my stuff I partook of the Guild and ordered the Ortega set and a Burgundy Fate Deck. I thought adding the deck would save me marking up cards and also be more immersive for the game too. There are a lot of cool models though so deciding on factions you like might be a tough decision, also, even though you can use Outcasts as a faction on their own they can be recruited as mercenaries into other factions, although there are certain restrictions on this.

So, onto the review of the loot. first up we’ll go with the Fate deck. When this arrives it is pretty much just like a starter deck for Magic: The Gathering that standard card deck box that everyone is familiar with. (I really should have taken some photos to spruce this post up). The cards themselves feel high quality and are plastic coated card, each suit has their own pictures on the cards as well as the typical distinctions for face cards. They are a very snug fit in their box and I can imagine that they would wear like normal cards after continuous use so I’d recommend protectors of some sort but once you do that there is no way they are ever going to fit back in their box so you’ll need another way of keeping them together. I imagine the universal holding tool (an elastic band) may fulfill this purpose but in my opinion it has a chance to crease the protectors and the cards inside so I’ll probably evict my long dead Magic deck out of its cosy box to throw these bad boys in there. On the back of the cards is the Malifaux logo with a stripe of the faction colour through it, hence you can match decks to what you’re playing but I’m sceptical if I’d buy other decks if I branch out into other factions just to colour code things. I have a deck, that’s going to be good enough for me. If you’re getting into the game I’d give them a thumbs up, they are quite evocative of the universe.

Next we’ll take the meat and veg of the game, the models. Wyrd have, over the years, produced a number of really nice models. I’ve thought about picking stuff up as I’ve seen things but have never had a proper use other than wanting to paint them and that’s not a good enough reason. Just speak to Servitob or Gribblin about my painting. Yet now there is a game and things are organised into box sets to start things off, well, who am I to dodge a good looking game with some sweet models? So, Ortega set. First impression really was being impressed by the packaging, sad I know, but I have to say that from the moment I cracked open the packing envelope I was surprised with the packaging. The box is actually a lot smaller than what I was imagining. Maybe it’s due to the fact I’ve been indoctrinated into Games Workshop and, to a lesser extent Privateer stuff, but I expect boxes to be a certain size and was therefore impressed that Wyrd had packed their stuff into so small a box. If my wife was a gamer she’d be enjoying their “greeness” for using less packaging, but she isn’t so I just thought it was cool. Opening the box and every single figure is individually wrapped in its own little bag with the base and other components for that model in there. No foraging for stuff and wondering which model it belongs to here, you open a bag, empty it out and put it together, no inadvertently gluing to wrong arm or leg to someone. The models are packed between two foam inserts to protect them from the rigours of long distance transit and the cards for each figure are collected into another insert between the foam and the box.

The models are very well cast, not much flash on them at all, I need to do a little filing on Perdita’s hat but other than that I can’t see anything needing much cleaning. I’ve already put two of them on bases before I went on to do other things last night. The surprising thing about the cards is that they are booklet style. I was expecting things like Warmachine or Hordes but each one is folded giving all the basic rules and stats for each model. You’ll still need the rulebook to make sense of it all and I may have to cut them in half and add them into a card protector sheet so I can keep things altogether like I do with my Warmachine/Hordes stuff. I’ll be using tokens I think as well rather than marking cards or protectors. I’ll have to do a painting review at some point and model some photos, I am also aware that I wanted to do a painting Space Hulk article as well… looks like I need to pull my finger out and get stuff undercoated. Hopefully this weekend should provide the opportunity as I am looking at getting some free time at the moment.

Overall I’m very happy with my purchases and the quality of the things I have so far. I’ll see if I can tempt anyone else to give it a try as I am sucker for skirmish style games and Malifaux is different enough from my usual fare to get me excited in all kinds of new ways.

Conventions in Gaming – Dice


From my history page it’s clear that I have grown up with Games Workshop, therefore this post will present a pretty clear bias to that fact, historical gaming isn’t my forte and I’m sure old man Servitob can chime in with some extra points once I’m done.

Classic board games and pretty much every tabletop war game I’ve seen all use dice. Varying quantities of dice to be exact. You can get by with a mere 6d6 if you’re playing Privateer Press games whereas in 40k you can easily end up rolling over a hundred. I remember reading a copy of White Dwarf where the author of an article describing the new War of the Ring game was using the fact that you got to roll an ill-fated Southampton built cast iron behemoth load of dice to decide combats. One of the things that can help you pick out closet gamers is the fact that, more than likely, there are various boxes of dice scattered around their house and the odd errant wanderer lodged under a TV cabinet of sofa.

So, why are dice used? Normally this is to add in an element of chance that exists in the real world, just because you line up a perfect head shot doesn’t take into account that at the last minute a random gust may take the bullet off target, or the mark may find some extra cover to protect themselves. Dice naturally represent the vagaries and random elements that can and do take place in normal real life activities (not really just talking about actual combat here, I have much more experience with the virtual kind and am thankful to not have had to experience it in real life). Yet some games let you roll way more than others, some people also seem to be unlucky at certain kinds of rolls. Personally I struggle with Instability tests with my Chaos Daemons and Power Klaw attacks from my Ork Nobs. Servitob has a reputation for unerring accuracy with a blast template too. While obviously the dice do not favour one person over another, we see patterns in the fate we receive. But surely, there can be other mechanics that we can use other than dice? I like dice and sometimes there is something sadistically satisfying as getting a full mob of Orks into combat and then rolling enough dice to reconstruct the Hanging Gardens of Babylon in 3d, however, is this the best way to do things or just an accepted part of our hobby?

We’ve already talked about how different games require different numbers of dice, I’m pretty certain that if there was a game where you just compared the stats of one thing to another¬† Top Trumps style, it’d be a pretty crummy and boring game (just like Top Trumps). This is why I’m so interested currently with Malifaux, it forgoes the use of dice and instead uses a pack of 54 cards, being a money making venture of course you can buy official faction themed Malifaux decks, but there are rules in the main book that cover using a normal deck of cards, you just need to have two Jokers in there as well. With cards you need a slightly different mechanic than with dice, but just as dice can be re-rolled due to certain rules, in Malifaux you get rules that allow you to add additional cards to a total as well as having a hand of cards that allow you to “Cheat Fate” by swapping the card you drew with one you possess in your Hand. With dice you’re completely at the whim of chance as to whether your re-roll is higher than the previous, but with the mechanic in Malifaux if you really need to cast that spell or win that combat, if you have the cards in your hand then you’re in a much better place to predict the outcome of the action.

I don’t know whether you can call it lazy game design that leads a lot of our games to rely on dice, after all, dice have been in use as games in their own right for millenia and now we use them to add that randomness to our games. Is being able to control things using cards better than the pure random chance of a dice roll? Well, that’ll be down to personal preference and I’m not leaning either way, it’s just nice that someone has come up with another way to play and I believe it to be a nice change of pace from the staple that I’ve seen over the past almost 20 years of war gaming.

As long as whatever system is developed is non-intrusive and doesn’t detract from the ebb and flow of a game I’m all for trying out something new. I’ve played dice games and I’d played card games. I’ve even played card games that have used dice, but I do think that while it’s easy to fall back on using dice as Malifaux demonstrates, using something a little “out of the box” can add an extra dimension to a game that makes it stand out against the ever increasing crowd.