Sunday, October 1, 2023

Picking Through the Ashes


Malifaux has been burning and going mad, now I suppose it’s time to start picking through the ashes. Or asses. Depending on your source, that is. 

Coming later this fall, the next expansion to the Malifaux game, Ashes of Malifaux, will be launching. We’ve had previews of several of the things that are coming, though they’re a bit scattered through Waldo’s Weekly updates. I thought it might be useful to round them up in one place, so that’s what I did. Ta da! Instant content!


We’ve probably had the most intel for models coming out to the Bayou, weirdly. There’s a pair of models that interact with each other, Jebediah and the Haber-Dashers (which would be a fine band name), that are looking to lend their services to the Big Hat and Tricksy keywords. The former is an 8 cost Enforcer with a 12” stat 6 gun, Armor 2, and Ride with Me. Solid. Additionally, it has a tactical action to kick pit traps markers (or other markers, I suppose) around on the board or potentially summon the little hat robots with a ram trigger (at the cost of removing the marker). Not something you would want to rely on, but probably nice when it happens. The Haber-Dashers themselves are essentially mobile scheme markers, as they can sacrifice themselves to turn into one and/or can be treated as scheme markers by Big Hat and Tricksy models. I don’t know that I’m entirely sold on the utility at this time, as they’re fairly easily killed (though that will net you a card and force the opponent to discard a pass token.) 


And it’s the bayou, so there must be silliness of course. I don’t know what a Hoochdini is per say, though he does look like he fits well with the other Jockey models. The two orange resin models are both from the Hog Wild expansion to the Bayou Bash board game, so one assumes they’re likely more Jockeys like the ones from the Bayou starter box. Hoochdini, however, is I believe something new that we haven’t seen before. And also a gremlin on a frog, I guess? He’ll probably have leap, and I’m guessing given the name maybe a Whizz-Bang model? I guess Jebediah’s riding on something too. Must be an overall theme of the Bayou. 



Continuing with our theme of “alternative modes of transportation,” here’s some more concept art for some Resurrectionist models. The latter two originally premiered in a Through the Breach one-shot adventure named The Ferryman, wherein the at-the-time still living Kari was using the undead monster to menace the people along Malifaux’s riverfront. Her current status as a ghost could be considered a bit of a spoiler for how that worked out for her. The first model is obviously a reference to the similarly named train conductor who crashed a train and became the subject of a Grateful Dead song. They’re all concept art, and the Ferryman and Cayce are both animated transportation modes. Maybe this is the theme for the upcoming Rezzer starter box? Maybe not, given what I’ve got coming up next, but who’s to say? They look sweet, though. 


The next model up is Batsch and Amalie, a Versatile Undead Henchman (wouldn’t it be henchmen?) with the previously not seen Fungal keyword. So, if Kari and co. aren’t the starter box, maybe it’ll be something to do with these fungi undead? Somebody was watching The Last of Us for inspiration, it seems. I like the theming of the models for sure, and Endless Waltz is a fun way of showing the movement of the dance. I’m not immediately seeing a lot of power from this model at first blush, though you can shuffle some markers around. Given that they make corpse and scheme markers count as Severe Terrain and their Mushroom Cloud attack gets a bonus when the opponent is in severe terrain, maybe that’s something? Also it can hand out Distracted, which doesn’t usually rate much overall. There’s a trigger on the bonus action to give them and a friendly Oskar model Shielded+1. So, I guess there’s a model called Oskar coming too. Given the recent history of starter boxes, this model will either be an afterthought that never sees play, or a super broken thing that has to be erratad sometime next fall. Place your bets now. 


Next up, we have a Versatile beater for the Explorer’s Society. At first glimpse, I thought this felt like it was pretty vanilla. Then I remembered this is a model in the ES, which are not exactly renowned for having beaters, so this fills a hole fairly well in the faction. Min 3 reach 2 attacks are always a crowd pleaser, especially when they have decent triggers on most suits (naturally, any time I use this model it will only flip Rams.) The Seeking Bolts with the Ram trigger may be potentially more dangerous, as Moderate 4 with a blast and no concealing is nothing to turn up your nose at. The Field Repairs being Construct Only limits the utility, but the ability to semi-mulligan a bad hand once per game may be potentially useful when your deck betrays you during the critical turn. Decent model. It would be fun to pair it with the Intrepid Emissary for some stompy bot fun. Tiri might be the crew that gets the most use out of it, but for a faction that doesn’t tend to hit all that hard he’ll potentially find a home in some other crews as well. 


Finally, we have potentially the leader in the Guild starter box. Commander Bura is cheap as versatile henchmen go, with the again previously unknown Vanguard keyword. Bura puts Shielded on all Vanguard models during the start phase, and another +1 shielded on herself and two other nearby friendly models when she activates, which is solid. Her Shields Up! ability also lets her apply however many points of shielded to reduce an attack’s damage as she wants (instead of one at a time). I don’t think she’s any kind of powerhouse with her attacks, but Remember the Mission is always a good tactical action (though it will cost you an 8 to pull it off). And, finally, her Overload Bonus action is interesting, as it makes an opponent pass a simple duel or suffer damage equal to the shielded value of one of your models that is in base to base with it. There’s a trigger if they’re in B2B with presumably one of her minions, called Bracers, that pushes the TN up. I don’t think you’re going to want to rely on it, though, because obviously it’s a simple duel that they will most likely pass. If it costs them a card in exchange for your bonus action, that’s not too bad, especially as she draws you a card. Overall, she seems like a decent utility player that might have some synergy in the other crews with Shielded, but not a world changer. In other words, probably a good model for a starter box. 

Monday, September 4, 2023

Ballad for the Working Man: Musing on the Foundry Keyword

Yeah, I know, it's the Ten Thunders Poster not the Arcanist one. I don't care. 

    Labor Day seems like a good time to continue my delve into the world of the Arcanists. They are, at least nominally, supposed to be representatives of the working people of Malifaux after all. They also have a bunch of terrorists and a guy who mutates people into animals, but hey, nobody’s perfect. Also, do you like having equal rights and the right to vote for everyone in the US? Thank an Arcanist. 

I pity the fool that fights him near a scrap marker.

When looking at how I wanted to approach things, I usually try to find a pair of crews out of the gate: one that hits hard/takes a hit and one that can move well. As I mentioned before, Mei Feng is who led me into this journey in the first place, and she has a little bit of both. Her movement is primarily coming from Ride the Rails which, while letting you go a long distance, can be a little fiddly at times due to needing to use a walk action to do it rather than just your bonus action like Leap. Also, at least when I was playing them before in the 10T, they didn’t hit especially hard either. Now, that may be a bit different in the Arcanists with the addition of a soulstone wielding Neil Henry (or Mr. H as he is known in my 1988 crew, pictured above) but they’re certainly not going to be setting the world on fire like some of the uber awesome offensive crews. Where they really seemed to excel in my hands is getting to a spot and holding it. Shielded, Armored, big wounds, and getting healed by other members of the crew makes for a group of objective holders that I think will be difficult for most crews to shift. That can be quite useful for a lot of the strategies in the current Gaining Grounds like Covert Ops and Guard the Stash. 

        They’re also the crew I’ve got the most table-ready miniatures for, so that makes them an easy choice. I’ve painted up the 1988 box set and Fat Cap in various 1980s themed motifs. Gumdrop (Mei Feng) either intentionally or not is very reminiscent of Jubilee, who debuted in the X-Men in 1989 (close enough). One of the Rail Workers, Mad Mop, reminded me of the cover to Quiet Riot’s 1983 album “Metal Health” so I went with something along the same lines for him. King Cry Baby is probably supposed to be a reference to the Johnny Depp movie of a similar name, but I wanted somebody to look like Prince so I went down the Purple Rain route instead. The guy who replaces Kang (I can’t remember the name) reminded me of Guile from Street Fighter, so I went that way with him (not that I expect him to get a lot of table time, unfortunately). And Fat Cap (the metal/rail golem) reminded me of the Ninja Turtles Party Wagon, so lots of yellow, green, and orange have been deployed. I wasn’t sure what to do with the Mechanized Pork Chop at first, but after I saw it on the tabletop and realized how out of control it can get, there was really no option besides having him embody the power of 80s wrestling paragon Hulk Hogan and have my mecha porkchop unleash the power of Hogamania on an unsuspecting Malifaux world. I didn’t really come up with anything yet for Sparks, so he just has on brown overalls until I think of something better to do with him, but one of his survivor friends made a passable T-800, so the Gremlinator was born. Still trying to come up with something for the Rock Hopper as well, if people have suggestions. 

I had initially thought of Foundry as a keyword that wants to go punch people in the nose. After all, Mei and Sparks can give you fast, focused, shielded Rail Golems that land in the opponent’s face and start smashing on turn 1 potentially. But the big guy’s attacks, while having high numbers on them for damage, don’t have triggers or counter-defensive tech to help make those blows stick. I was consistently underwhelmed with its offensive output, if I’m being honest, and that’s not great when your master is focused on support rather than providing offensive output of her own. What I think I’ve realized now is that they’re going to play better going to an important spot on the battlefield, venting steam, and saying “Alright, come and move me” to the opponent. Concealing terrain really messes up a lot of crews game plans, and if they’re not constructs and they have to deal with the hazardous while trying to plink through your defenses, so much the better. Moreover, if the opponent takes the bait and goes in, that’s when Neil Henry can pop into the fray to help mop things up. And if they don’t take the bait, you’ve got your rail golem in presumably an important part of the map, holding an objective or a choke point uncontested, and you can go about scoring your VPs. 

        They do seem to struggle with Willpower, but many of those attacks will hopefully be disrupted to an extent by the concealing auras. They also don’t particularly like crews that can take your conditions away/change them, so Pandora, particularly Pandora 2, could really be a problem. That makes Neverborn stick out as a potential weakness, though the flip side of that is, if the opponent isn’t playing one of those crews we’re weak against, the faction as a whole doesn’t have a lot of anti-armor tech and would potentially struggle against us. I’ll have to give that a bit more thought. I don’t love 50/50 flips that I have no say in, so if there’s a better crew out there to handle them that may be the way to go. 


There are other options for the sticky/smashy crew in Arcanists as well. I have most of a Hoffman crew (many of the models in the 1e metal, the sculpts of which hold up in most cases. Except for Ryle. Poor, poor Ryle.) They have less mobility overall than Mei, I would say, but certainly more hitting power and potentially more staying power as well. If I wanted to lean fully into the smashy castle play style, I’d probably go that way.  

        The crew I’m looking at as a compliment to the Foundry gang is Chimera, who have far more mobility while still being able to do some hitting of their own. I think they’d be better suited to driving the markers in Carve a Path (which can also be a rough time for foundry, since they remove the scrap markers we need for Rail Riding.) I’ve always loved the models, and the first set of beasts I painted up on my own were some of the better early painting work I’d ever done. Sadly, I sold them off for a little extra cash and to down-size my collection a bit back in the grad school days, but that just means I can repaint an even better version today. For the record, I prefer old man Marcus to his current F*ck Boy iteration, but I guess he’s mostly played as a beast-man these days, so it doesn’t really matter. The other option I have for the highly mobile crew is Showgirl. My collection is a bit less complete there, but I think I have most of the keyword through the 1e metal box, some of the alternate sculpts, and a Dark Carnival Coryph√©e boxed set. They’ll be a bit of a hodge-podge visually, but they could at least be fielded if the Chimera stuff doesn’t work out the way I’m wanting. I bought the Avatar boxed set back in the day, so I’d even have decoy marker models. More recent stuff like Dorian Crowe and the guy from the Explorers society would be missing, though. I have no idea how effective they are, though I do recall somebody on a podcast talking about using them (especially the latter guy) to have an unexpected offensive punch in a keyword where folks don’t generally see it coming. 

        Oh well, one thing at a time. I need to finish painting up my Foundry, then maybe actually get them on the board to see how they play in this new faction. I’ll go get to that now. Talk to you next time. Happy Labor Day. 

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Malifaux Blogger Returns! Joins the Arcanist Faction! Wyrd players everywhere declare "Meh!"

Extra, extra, read all about it. Crusty old Malifaux blogger dusts off blog for…like…the 20th time? 

Ok, not much of a headline there. Certainly not news by any stretch of the imagination. 

A few things have happened recently to bring me back to everyone’s favorite western Victorian gothic horror steampunk miniatures game. I got in a couple of tournaments including getting invited to CaptainCon and getting rolled in the content creator’s open (I know, I was surprised too. Not about getting rolled, mind you, but the fact that they invited me.) I’ve become more active in the Iowa tournament scene, run by our TO Doug (no, not the Texas guy. The podcaster. No, not that podcaster. Check him out on TikTok, btw, as he’s doing the lord’s work and recording assembly videos for Malifaux models, including some of my Nightmare Edition models that I never got around to putting together.) The most recent of these was actually a charity fundraiser for kid’s cancer treatment, which is really awesome and gave me a chance to play some of those nightmare models, the 1988 Mei Feng crew, in 6 games. I lost most of them, but hey, that’s what these tests are for. Also, I have a friend learning to play the game, and am working on getting another person involved. So, the time is right to start back again, and potentially a good time to try a new faction. I liked Mei (specifically Foreman Mei) but I can see right away that the Arcanist version of her is probably better in…most ways. Plus, as it happens they just pushed an errata that reigned in the witness keyword and the starter boxf, as they were just bonkers and needed to get hit with all the nerf bats. So, for the first time in my Malifaux career, I am joining the rebels and standing up for the working man/beast man/burning man or lady. I thought it would be interesting to track that process on the blog, so here we are. 

An intro for any new people who may be seeing this post and reading my blog for the first time. I’m Adam. I go by AgentRock on forums/discord. I’ve been a Malifaux player since first edition when I bought a Perdita crew and my friend Jon Goulbourne (aka Phiasco, the sensei of the Wandering River Style) picked up Marcus. 10 Thunders didn’t exist yet, so he hadn’t begun his lifelong commitment to them at that point. I was a playtester for a long time, particularly during 2nd edition Malifaux. I was a Kickstarter patron for Through the Breach, the Malifaux Roleplaying Game. I have a King’s Empire army for The Other Side (which I still say is a better tournament game than Malifaux, so I’m hoping that it can pull itself out of the ashes sometime in the future.) And I started Malifaux Musings over 10 years ago. At one point in time I was on Patreon, but then I discovered that nobody wants to pay money to read stuff. Go figure. Malifaux Musing’s mission (yay alliteration) has always been more of a place to ramble about topics related to Wyrd’s world and the games played within them. I won’t claim to be particularly good at them, mind you. I would maybe put myself in the range of low-mid tier player, going by the Student of Conflict ranking system at least. But hopefully I can spark some thought about the game that will help people get better, or at least enjoy themselves more. 

Anyways, back to starting the Arcanists, or really for starting any new faction. I’ve got a bit of a head start here, as I’ve been collecting Malifaux stuff for a long time and, if you do that long enough, eventually you end up with some pretty good-sized chunks of factions besides the one you play. In my time in the game, I’ve only really actively played Guild, Ten Thunders, and Neverborn, but I can field most of the factions (except Bayou, because they’re not my jam and never will be. Sorry.) That said, if I was in the market for a new faction and starting from scratch, some of the same techniques I’ve used to put together my collection could work for you. So, my top XXX tips for starting a new faction.

1) Find a crew you like.
Ok, that’s pretty obvious, but it’s still pretty important. This is not a terribly forgiving game to newcomers, if we’re being honest. There’s a good chance you’re going to spend some time early in your Malifaux career losing, and maybe not even keeping it close. You can check tournament reports and the like to find out what the strong crews are, but it’s still going to take you a while to learn to play them well. If you don’t love your crew that can really increase your chances of washing out. Some people might like the aesthetics or theme of a crew. Some, particularly those coming to Faux from other wargames, may have a particular playstyle that appeals to them that they want to emulate. Some may just like the models (Teddy has sold sooooo many people into this game.) But whatever the reason, find a crew that speaks to you to start with, and you’ll have a much higher likelihood of sticking with the game. 

2) Find somebody who can show you how to play the crew.
Again, not rocket science, but an important step. Malifaux is a game of synergies between models. There are few crews where you play the Super Friends list (IE a crew consisting of individual models that are good on their own rather than crews built within a keyword with lots of synergy), and sometimes the interactions between models aren’t terribly intuitive. Finding an experienced Malifaux player to show you the ropes is always a good start for the absolute newby, but also looking for resources that know your faction/crew of choice and can give you some tips and tricks that can possibly accelerate your transition from teeth kickee to teeth kicker can be a big help. Also, there’s tons of great content creators out there. Podcasts. Youtube. You name it. I’ll try and highlight some of the better ones IMO in future episodes, but there’s usually enough info to get you started out there if you look hard enough. Just don’t make the mistake of thinking that, because you heard a podcast about a crew, now you know how to play it. I wish it was that simple, but the reality is mastery comes with reps and learning all the little interactions and corner cases that you need to be successful. That’s the best and worst part of the game, IMO, and it’s the thing that really makes it stand out. Phiasco has always been an inspiration to me in this regard, as he is the most immune to group-think person I’ve ever met. If something is hot in the meta, there’s a good chance he hates it because it doesn’t fit with the way he likes to play. And, meanwhile, he’s out here playing Shen Long lists that never attack you at any point in the game and beating you. 

Anyways, I’ve digressed.

3) Look for deals. 
Now, you may be independently wealthy. If that’s the case, you can probably afford to buy whatever models you want. Go ahead and skip further down in the article, ok?

*checks that they’re gone*

Alright, now that we got rid of those rich assholes (see, look, I’m an Arcanist already) let’s talk about how we can expand our model collection on a budget. The most efficient way I’ve found to do this requires a little bit of patience, vigilance, and opportunism, but can work out in the long run. You see, Malifaux’s been around for over a decade at this point and has gone through several editions. The result of this is that there’s been several models which have gone out of print. They’re often pewter if you go back to 1e stuff, and usually the sculpts aren’t as cool as the new stuff (though not always. I’ll maintain that the best Perdita ever is still the metal one from the first boxed set, for instance.) But, people are usually selling the blisters for pretty cheap on ebay or other secondary miniature selling websites. Also, periodically people decide this really isn’t the game for them and bail out, listing their collections at pretty significant discounts through things like facebook marketplace. This really ticked up during the stagnant years of the transition to M3E and the pandemic. Snatch that shit up! I have most of the Rezzer faction painted from one former player, and it only cost me a couple hundred bucks. Even if you don’t need the models, you might get something you can trade later for models you do. Also, if you want to try and get other people into the game, it’s a lot easier if you can start them off by lending them a crew or two to whet their appetite with before they lay down their own money. Or, hell, maybe you’ll find something you like to play that you didn’t expect. Weirder things have happened. 
Now, the only trouble with this method is that usually the old stuff doesn’t come with stat cards. There are a couple of options to fix this. One, the M3E Malifaux Crew Builder app has all the stat cards on it already. For tournaments it’s a completely legal way to play, if admittedly not the speediest. Alternatively, you can order cards to be printed on demand from Wargame Vault. It’s usually best to do when you have several you need so you can lump them together and save on shipping, but it’s usually pretty cost effective. So, when this is all said and done, you’ll have yourself a crew of models, your stat cards, and the app to play games. And your crew may actually be pretty unique compared to what you’ll run into, as you’ll likely have different sculpts than most. Obviously this doesn’t work with models that are new to M3E, but hopefully it can lighten the lift for your wallet to get into the game. 

4) Build a crew and play!
Get the M3E crewbuilder app. It’s free and it has all the cards in it, so why wouldn’t you? I mentioned that already, but it’s also a great resource for playing the game either in person or over the internet using tabletop emulators like Vassal. Put yourself together a crew, find an opponent, and play your first game. I often find that, for new players, the Henchman Hardcore variant mode can be a good way to get your feet wet with the mechanics of the game without having to deal with all the complexity of a full, master-led crew. If you wan to dive in the deep end, however, don’t let me stop you. The main thing to learning the game (and a new faction) is to get them on the table and play. And play. And then play some more. Then play again. A good rule of thumb is that, when you can get 5 reps at least, you’ll be in a good position to play the crew and have a good “feel” for what they can do. When you find yourself not looking at the stat cards anymore, you’ve probably mastered it. And also, don’t be afraid to play some models the meta doesn’t think are good. I often scratch my head at the things Dixon from the Rage Quit Wire podcast likes (Obsidian Statue? Seriously??) but he’s got the reps and I don’t, and you never know when there’s some hidden synergy you’re not seeing. I’m particularly bad at the theory-faux side of the game (IE looking at the stat cards and intuiting how effective it will be in action). I famously thought Illuminated were bad at the start of 2nd Edition when they were arguably one of the best minions in the Ten Thunders. And with a game as complex as Malifaux, it’s easy for a good model to fall through the cracks and be ignored in favor of the online meta’s current flavor of the week. 

I think that’s enough for now. More posts to come, hopefully. Next time we’ll look at my current hodgepodge collection of Arcanists and make some game plans for how to fill in the gaps.