Sunday, May 5, 2019

Let the Countdown Commence!

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a release date!

Earlier this week, our Wyrd overlords deigned to inform us that June 28th is the date upon which we shall be receiving our M3E goodness. The message included a number of interesting details for store owners, including their intention to put together packets of the new stat cards which can be inserted into the boxes along with a sticker on the outside to indicate that the box has been updated. This should cut down on the need for retailers to clear out old stock and replace it with new cards, and hopefully cut down on the recent Wyrd product firesales that most stores have been employing. Additionally, Wyrd is intending to start lumping some of the individual model boxed sets together to try and cut down on the number of SKUs that stores have to stock for Malifaux product, which is also a good thing. One of the concerning things going into the relaunch was going to be the situation with boxed sets that are having new models added to them. As a way of addressing this, Wyrd will be offering the ability to special order individual models through store owners for the first year after M3E’s release. This way, if you already own the whole Marcus boxed set but need one model that has been added to it (just a random example, I don’t actually know if there will be anything new in Marcus’ boxed set) you can get it special without having to fork over cash for a whole new box. I think these are good steps taken by the company, as their reputation, particularly in terms of customer service and relationships with retailers, has taken a bit of a ding over the last year. Hopefully this is a sign of them pulling out of that tailspin.

But what about the new stuff! Well, ok, calm down. Obviously, I’m going to talk about that too. For those of you like me (and, let’s be honest, everybody reading this blog probably falls into the same category) that won’t necessarily be in a huge rush to go replace all their models with new stuff come launch day, all of the rules and stat cards for M3E will be available for free on Wyrd’s website day one. If you have access to a printer or a tablet, you can play M3E when the game launches June 28th without spending a dime (other than printer ink, of course, which I think is made from soulstone dust gauging by the price. /oldmanrant.) Most folks will want physical cards, of course, and the stat cards and upgrades for each M2E model will be available for purchase in Faction Packs that will be sold essentially as long as demand lasts. Gauging how M1E to M2E went that’ll be about a year so you won't want to wait too long. It’s a good way to get shiny new cards for all of your old models all in one go, barring dual-faction complications. Interestingly, Wyrd has also decided to create Faction books that will be released over the months following release that will include new stories, lore, and information on the factions themselves. I assume stat blocks will be in there also, but at first blush these fall into the category of “luxury item” for people who want to just play some Malifaux. I’m curious to see what’s in them, and as a lore nerd I’ll probably need to pick them up at some point to get all the current juicy fluff content, but I don’t feel like I’ll need to buy all of them on day one necessarily.

As for the models themselves, as mentioned above the plan is to lump some boxed sets together. This helps store owners out for the above reasons as well as by helping the sales staff to guide new players (“Oh, you like Seamus? Cool, to get all of the models from his keyword, you just have to pick up these three boxes that say they include the Redchapel keyword on the outside.”) and potentially make it less of a wallet hit for new people to join the game as well. Ok, probably not that last one, but at least it’ll keep new players from getting overwhelmed by letting them focusing on the keyword models rather than having the daunting task of buying the whole faction in front of them. I included some preview art of the new boxed sets above. I preferred M2E’s green and black boxes to this new scheme, and this new sculpt of Lady Justice isn’t my favorite, but the new judge looks rad and I really like the idea of lumping some models in theme together in the same box. As for the new release schedule itself, why don’t I just go ahead and throw it into the post here so you can check it out.

* An asterisk next to a product SKU indicates that the box contains new sculpts or models.
June Releases

Malifaux Core Rulebook
Guild Faction Pack
Resurrectionist Faction Pack
Arcanist Faction Pack
Neverborn Faction Pack
Outcast Faction Pack
Bayou Faction Pack
Ten Thunders Faction Pack
Dead Man's Hand Pack
M3E Fate Deck
* WYR23101
Basse Core Box
* WYR23302
Burning Bridges
* WYR23701
Youko Core Box

July Releases

General Upgrades Pack
Guild Faction Book
Arcanist Faction Book
Neverborn Faction Book
* WYR23104
Lady Justice Core Box
* WYR23301
Marcus Core Box
* WYR23502
Loyalty to Coin
Nellie Core Box
Perdita Core Box
Sonnia Core Box
Brutal Fate
Seamus Core Box
Reva Core Box
Carrion Fate
Ironsides Core Box
Kaeris Core Box
Sandeep Core Box
Arcane Fate
Pandora Core Box
Titania Core Box
Mysterious Fate
Tara Core Box
Parker Core Box
Hamelin Core Box
Jack Daw Core Box
Hodgepodge Fate
Mah Tucket Core Box
Zipp Core Box
Brewmaster Core Box
Ulix Core Box
Lucky Fate
Lucas Core Box
Mei Feng Core Box
Asami Core Box
Shenlong Core Box
Shadow Fate

August Releases

Bayou Faction Book
Ten Thunders Faction Book
* WYR23303
Colette Core Box
* WYR23601
Som'er Core Box
* WYR23713
One Born Every Minute
Pathfinder and Clockwork Traps
Pale Rider
Guild Steward
Rogue Necromancy
Dead Rider
Mechanical Rider
Hooded Rider
Ashes and Dust
Rooster Riders
Whiskey Golem
Bayou Smuggler
Ten Thunder Archers
Lotus Eater
Charm Warder
Dawn Serpent

September Releases

Resurrectionist Faction Book
Outcast Faction Book
* WYR23201
Von Schtook Core Box
* WYR23401
Dreamer Core Box
* WYR23501
Viktoria Core Box
Six Feet Under
Wake the Dead
Surgical Staff
Vengeful Ghosts
The Returned
Eternal Servitude
Altered Beasts
The Ten Peaks
Support Staff
A Light in the Dark
The Howling
Familiar Faces
Hired Killers
Marlena Webster
Wokou Raiders
A Hard Day's Work
Bayou Engineering
Off the Top Rope
See Ya Later
Gautraeux Bokor
Creative Taxidermy
Ancient Evil

It looks like there’s roughly one master’s boxed set per faction getting a resculpt, except for the Ten Thunders. That’s a little disappointing, as I would argue they are the most in need of new plastics, since they were first after Wyrd switched away from pewter and their quality is well behind the others. I thought that all of the alternate art for them in Broken Promises might have indicated the future, but for now I’m a little confused. I assume a new Sonnia will be coming at some point as well, since she doesn’t wear the mask anymore.

I'm sure she's hard at work "motivating" the sculptors as we speak.

Lastly, Wyrd mentions that they’ll be releasing a Gaining Grounds Season One document at some point within the first year of the game’s life to reignite the competitive scene (some of which has already started to come back, based on the M3E beta tournaments I’ve seen recently.) I hope they’re working with Craig at Third Floor Wars so they can tie this in with his Third Floor Wars’ attempt to get a national Masters tournament put together. And, of course, they bring up the mysterious new faction coming (likely) in the next wave of M3E. For those not in the know, McCabe and the new Guild master Basse are dual-faction with them, and some overheard rumor and scuttlebutt has it that 1) there will be a model in the faction for which you can use the former Mounted Guard alternate sculpts from the Nightmare McCabe boxed set and 2) the name of this new faction has been mentioned somewhere in the already existing fluff. More details will doubtless come from the upcoming M3E fluff, but I’d say that the themes of frontier, wild west-type models will probably be involved. Maybe an Explorer’s Society pushing out into the boundaries of settled Malifaux to explore the wider world? I don’t know, but I’m in love with them already. I wish Perdita was going with them as well so I could just quit the Guild entirely and play these new people, but c’est la vi. I’m told by unnamed sources that Perdita and Basse don’t really get along, as Perdita will happily burn down a village to get the Neverborn she thinks is hiding inside while Basse is much more law and order focused. The obvious rebuttal, of course, is “yeah, but McCabe is a lawless scoundrel who is literally responsible for breaking the Earth,” but nobody asked for my opinion on the matter. I like ‘em. ‘Nuff said.

All things considered I’m looking forward to the coming M3E goodness. I think this community post by Wyrd was a good step in the right direction, and they seems to be conscious of the need to make the transition between editions as painless as possible, which is a good thing. Every day I get more hyped for M3E, which hopefully will translate into more regular Malifaux Musings. If you’re in the mid-west United States, I’ll be attending my first M3E tournament in Des Moines May 25th and 26th at Museon Con. If you make the trip, hopefully we’ll see each other there! I’ll be the one who looks befuddled while trying to remember how all these newfangled models work.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Just When I Thought I Was Out, They Reel Me Back In

           I was all ready to cut ties with the Neverborn. I put my monster models away on the shelf. I lamented the removal of the masters I had played for the last several years from the faction (ok, technically Dead Man’s Hand masters regained their faction allegiance at the end of the beta, but you know what I mean.) I spent most of my engagement in Alpha/Beta testing Guild or Ten Thunders. I even had a #notmyNeverborn locked and loaded, ready for release along with M3E (there would have been T-Shirts. It would have been great.)

            And then I thought of a Neverborn crew.

            Admittedly, the beginning of this Kickstarter had something to do with twisting my mind back in the direction of Malifaux’s twisted natives. I’ve always wanted to do the Dreamer as HP Lovecraft and these models make good proxies.

(He’s a little too old, as he’d be 16/17 in Malifaux today.  Also, of course, he was born in Rhode Island instead of London like the Dreamer. Maybe in his dreams he reverts a bit in age? The above is a picture of him as a nine year old. L Sprague de Camp described him as a brown-eyed tot with with long golden curls…)

            Anyways, I’m getting off topic. Dreamer’s fun, but having bought his Nightmare Edition metal box in M1E that I never painted or played I 1) Don’t have any Alps to summon 2) Lost one of Coppelius’s face tentacles a long while ago and 3) don’t have a Widow Weaver or Serena Bowman to use as henchmen. So, it’ll be a while until I can field a Dreamer crew realistically (assuming those models don’t all suck, which is possible. People who tested Neverborn in the beta can let me know.) So, basically, I was just planning on using the models as an art project and nothing else.

            Then, of course, the Easter Sale happened (it’s still happening, btw. Go buy stuff. I guess. You don’t have to.)

            This year’s new limited edition alternate model is a really cool/gross alternate sculpt of the Stitched Together. They’re pretty cool, and I started to feel the gribbly little claws of the Neverborn worming their way back into my soul. I looked them up in the beta files. They’re pretty good. Not as killy as they used to be, but nothing is in M3E. That’s one of the points. But the final straw came when I glanced at the Dead Man’s Hand files to see what ended up becoming of Lillith and Collodi. I don’t care for the former, but the latter seems like a pretty good compromise of some of the M2E stuff and not wanting him to be completely unbalanced. The Dreamer, I realized, only casts 13 stones to hire for some reason (I mean he doesn’t do much damage, but he’s a summoner. I’m just surprised, is all.) He can only summon 2 nightmares, but Collodi can hire all 3 of the Stitched Togethers if you want at base price, all of which can do Lucid Dream to help feed Dreamer and use the cards you mill for your life gambling attack.
            And a crew was born.

            I mean, it’s Dead Man’s Hand, so obviously you have to have your TO allow you to use it, but I kind of want to because it keeps one foot in both worlds of M2E and M3E for me. Dreamer is there to resummon any of the Stitched that die during the game. He can do it from literally anywhere on the board, since his summoning mechanics have the summoned Nightmare appear next to an enemy who fails a WP duel. I think it may be better to only come with two Stitched and have Dreamer summon the third one so it can pop out in the fray later on. He can summon Insidious Madness later on in the game to run schemes if necessary, although in M2E anyways the Marionnettes were able to do a lot of the heavy scheme runner lifting on his own.
            Anyways, a list.

Nightmares and Puppet Shows
Collodi-Inhuman Reflexes         2SS
4xMarionnettes                          0SS (Hurray for free totems)
Dreamer                                     13SS
Brutal Effigy                                 4SS
2xStitched Together                12SS
Vasilisa                                         8SS
Another Effigy                             4SS
Cache                                            7SS

            The second effigy slot can swap around to something different depending on matchup. If I know I’ll need condition removal, Arcane is an obvious choice. I think Lucky would be a good all-rounder choice. There may be other options, who knows. To be determined. I think it’s good. Let me know what you think.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

The Other Side of Adepticon

            I left on Thursday morning to travel to my first Adepticon, my vehicle loaded down with clothes, painting supplies, and my newly magnetized Other Side miniatures in a black metal toolbox. Other than my cruise control quitting on the way there and the discovery of how atrocious the tolls are on the Reagan tollway, the trip was uneventful, just the way I like them to be. When I arrived at the Renaissance Schaumberg center the parking lot was starting to fill up, so I ended up parking around the back of the building. I left my things in the car and came in to find my friend Phiasco and pick up my badge.
            Ostensibly, the point of the tournaments at Adepticon were two-fold: say goodbye to M2E and run the first official tournaments for The Other Side. I was primarily interested in the latter, as I haven’t played a game of 2nd edition Malifaux since joining the Alpha for M3E over a year ago. As such, I wasn’t much interested in the farewell tournaments, and I was ok showing up after the first Henchman Hardcore was underway. Phiasco, on the other hand, was putting a well-honed strategy of non-violence to work in a tournament that is essentially built around killing. Utilizing Low-River Monks, Sensei Yu, and Sun Quiang to throw enemy models out of the center ring or make them insignificant, Phiasco managed to Win or Tie every game of the tournament without inflicting a wound on the enemy models. I told him he needed to tell his opponents “Namaste” after the games ended. I forget how he ended up, but I know he placed.

            After that finished up, it was time for the first TOS tournament of the convention, a Titan Smash. The rules packet for it can be found here, but the short explanation for the scenario is that you play king of the hill for a couple of objectives while in a battle-royal style game with up to 7 other Titans on the same table. You score for being near an objective at the end of a turn, with a bonus point for the titan who is closest to the center point. Additionally, every time you knock an asset off of a titan, that scores as well. If one of the titans reaches 10 points at the end of a turn, all other Titans that haven’t scored 10 die instantly. The winner is the last Titan standing.
            Obviously, I was bringing in my King’s Hand. I attached the Armor Piercing Machine Gun, the Big Drill, and replaced the head-slot assets with the special one for the scenario that gives an extra tactics value. I left the usually standard issue Symbol of the Realm off, as I was thinking that going into Glory may not be all that important for this type of game (though in retrospect that may not be as clear-cut as I thought.) This game was played with four titans squaring off: my King’s Hand, Ariel with a Dreadnought, a man whose name I didn’t get with another Dreadnought, and Steven with an Alpha Crawler. Early on Ariel and I traded shots and danced around the right-most Objective Marker. Steven took a turn to wind up his Alpha Crawler into Glory with a bunch of reinforcement tokens while the other Dreadnought took a commanding spot on the second Marker. Once the crawler was ready, he barreled into the second Dreadnought and did what damage he could, but by that point I’d been scoring 3 a turn from shooting off assets and squatting on the marker. The drill paired with the Dreadnought’s relative lack of offensive capability let me hold it relatively uncontested. As such, I hit 12 points at the end of Turn 4 and caused the other Titans to pop. So, in the first “tournament” run by Wyrd Games for the other side, victory came for the King’s Empire. *cue God Save the King*

I felt left out that my King's Hand box didn't have a Horomatangi in it by mistake, so thankfully the Titan Smash remedied that.

            Despite my intentions to not play any M2E, there was an Enforcer brawl that first evening and
the choice was either to play in it or go home. I figured I knew enough of how to play the game to at least get by. If you’ve never played an Enforcer Brawl, imagine the Royal Rumble from the WWE and you’re not far off. If you die, you respawn on your initiative but lose points (and give points to the enemy model that killed you.) Phiasco let me borrow Yasunori, who can kill a lot of models but costs a lot (there are bonuses for killing more expensive models.) He’s not the right choice, frankly, but he’s pretty straight forward to run so who cares. First game I ran into a Peacekeeper, who is not a great dance partner for Yas due to his high armor. I managed to chop it down, but then the entire battle ended up respawning on the other side of the board, leaving me stranded. So that sucked. Second round went much better at first, with me jumping up 8 points early on in the game. Third round I discovered that Burt Jebsen with Dirty Cheater can’t actually be killed without blasts or passive damage, so that blew. All in all, the format was a laugh and I enjoyed it. I just want to try some different models next time. I think the format should still work fine for M3E, so I’m excited to try it again in the future. With that done, we headed home to rest up and give Phiasco time to get three colors on his Abysinnia models.

            The next day, I threw on my newly acquired “The British Are Coming” shirt and went forward to do battle in the King’s name. The tournament packet was published ahead of time, so I had a good idea what objectives I would need to complete and which models I could use to do it. My garrison consisted of:

Kassa Okoye-Bigger is Better
Margaret Belle-Rapier Wit
2xMotor Scouts-Toughness
1xKing’s Hand-Symbol, Armor Piercing Machine Gun,

Strategems-Overwatch, Medic, Behind Enemy Lines, Capture the Flag, Defensive Formations, Bloody Their Noses, Perfect Accuracy, Keep Calm and Carry On

            First round saw me go up against Jeff in Scavenge with Confrontation deployment. The hordes crew was led by the Storm Siren and was built around sending some of the armored whelks to squat on objective markers on the flanks while tying my company up with Eels and Karkenoi. The board effectively funneled all the action onto my left flank due to a large impassible terrain piece (this led to the tournament organizers electing not to use that board for any of the other rounds of the tournament). Both sides forgot a large number of rules during the course of the game (resummoned units come in with one fireteam, not all of them. In scavenge the team that’s behind can use a tactics token to remove a turf marker at the end of the turn. Motor scouts have engagement ranges due to the bayonets rule. Etc.) I jumped out to an early lead and then dove Margaret Belle into the backfield to tie up the Stormsiren for most of the game. I decided to try out something I’d heard of online and buy the Overwatch stratagem on Turn 1, effectively giving me an extra set of activations for the rest of the game. It’s kind of a hefty cost to pay (starting with one card in hand and no tactics tokens is rough) but so far I think it’s worth the investment. The Hordes came back over the course of the game, however, and ultimately managed to take a 1-point victory over me. The day was off to an auspicious start.

            Round 2 paired me against Steven (from the earlier Titan Smash) with…more Gibbering
Hordes. This time we were playing Pitched Assault in Corners deployment. I wanted to bring Kassa out for this one, as I hadn’t had a chance to see her in action. They were accompanied by one squad of RRC and one squad of Infiltrators. I knew Pitched Assault is a tough game for the Hordes to play, as their “eat my own stuff to flip my units to glory” tactic feeds VP to the enemy. There are essentially two ways to look at this from the Hordes’ side, either A) Ignore the usual methods and just go all-in on trying to kill the enemy with base units or B) Stick to the normal plan, let the opponent get a lead, and then come back and overwhelm them. Steven went with the latter idea, bringing Horomatangi, an Alpha Crawler, Eels, and Armored Whelks to use as food for the rest. The theory behind his army was to spike the Crawler up with reinforcement tokens and glory then send it barreling into the enemy, fill out your numbers disadvantage with multiplying eels, and have the whelks get eaten then respawn somewhere the enemy doesn’t want them. It’s a good plan in theory, and probably works fine in most games. In this one, however, I seized both objectives while he was powering up/feeding me VPs. My infiltrators took the left objective by themselves, essentially trying to bait part of the enemy to go deal with them while allowing me to keep most of my forces together to resist the Titan team when they came in on me. I learned the delights of Kassa allowing you to actually have cards and tactics tokens to spare (leading me to question my earlier assertion of Margaret as undisputed champion commander, but that’s a blog post for another time.) Ultimately, on turn 3 my Rifle Corps demonstrated why they are the pride of the King’s Empire, withstanding a full assault from the Horomatangi while my Titan shrugged off the Alpha Crawler, resulting in my jumping to 12-0 at the end of the turn. Since the Decisive Victory rule was in place, that meant the game ended immediately. Not exactly what I was expecting, but it put me back in contention for the tournament so I wasn’t complaining.

            In round 3, I faced yet more Gibbering Hordes. There were other Allegiances in the tournament, I assure you, but I guess I’m just lucky. I hadn’t faced them before in any practice games, so I got the full seafood buffet in the tournament. Thankfully, my opponent (Andrew) was bringing the Frenzy for this game, so I got to see all the different faces of the Allegiance that day. As the game was Set Traps, Margaret was the clear choice. I strongly considered bringing Kassa instead, as I’d had a taste of what a KE company with card access could do, but elected to stick with my gameplan all the same. Andrew’s company featured the aforementioned street shark commanders, along with Yarazi, Karkenoi, and some Crawlers I think. They tend to blur. I deployed my forces in two groups on the outer edges of the board, splitting my two units of Rifle Corps with a tough Motor Scout in both places. Margaret was on the left. First turn, I focused on shifting the right Rifle Corps unit back towards the left, creating a sort of Refused Flank to try and pick a hole in the enemy line and then roll it up. I don’t know whether it really worked or not, or whether it’s even possible to do that against the Hordes when they can just respawn and reinforce as fast as they do, but it helped ensure I wasn’t facing the whole of the enemy force at one point. I underestimated the Frenzy, not having faced them before, and tried to use Margaret to tie them up. But without enough tactics tokens to protect her, she was quickly devoured on T1 or 2, leaving me with no commander for the rest of the game. I was tilted, but knew I needed to do something to try and slow the Horde down. I was able to accomplish this by sending the Motor Scout on my left side deep behind the enemy lines with a Rush order. Andrew either had to send the Frenzy back to go and deal with him (the option he chose) or leave me with a free hand to plant explosives at will behind him. Since his Frenzy went chasing after the Scout, that gave me a turn to shoot at them with a Gloried Rifle Corps, filling them up with Pinned tokens to slow their return (they still got back into melee the next turn, but it required them to eat one of their own to get into Glory first.) This, plus some fancy footwork on the right side by the other Motor Scout and some very fortunate card flips managed to get me the win.

Why is Adepticon trying so hard to get me to play CotBM

            In the final standings, Phiasco tied on tournament points with the winner, who was playing Cult of the Burning Man, but was behind on strength of schedule so he got 2nd. I came in third place and got Best in Faction for KE. The Faction badge was my goal for the day, and ultimately I felt my first round was winnable as well, so all-in all it was a successful day.

            That was the end of the official events from the weekend, but I did have a chance to play some pick-up games with an old member of my former Club later on. It was Supply Cache, and I learned that 1) It’s important to actually understand the objectives of the game you’re playing before you start 2) Abysinnian Mechanized Infantry are a nightmare that have to be removed ASAP and 3) Field Intelligence Corps in Glory are kind of gross in this Operation, as they can place markers within 6” of each other rather than the minimum 8” from the rules. Additionally, I played a 2 commander game with Phiasco later on, wherein I was able to deploy my Dragoons. Overall, I wasn’t extraordinarily impressed with them on their base card. Maybe in Glory it would be another story, but unless there’s something I’m not seeing they seem expensive and brittle. While we played, there was a 4x4 game featuring one of each Allegiance going on, which was terribly exciting. Ultimately, that one was decided by how stupid the Burning Man’s Rhinos are, and I got the impression that they will likely be getting erratad soon, so players of other factions can rejoice.

            All in all, I would call it a successful launch of TOS official tournaments. I came away with enough Cult of the Burning Man to get a start on them as a second Allegiance (after using my booth credit from running Through the Breach to get their starter box), which will be important for letting me run demos in the future. I came away with the impression that the game itself is strong, despite starting out awkwardly from the less than optimal roll-out. I think TOS is a better tournament game than M2E and possibly even M3E (I won’t know for certain until I try one.) And ultimately, I think I enjoy it more because I don’t feel as exhausted after playing it as I do when playing Malifaux. Even some of the more vociferously negative voices I’ve seen online seemed impressed with The Other Side, having seen it in person. I don’t know anyone who has a problem with the game itself, so much as frustration with how Wyrd has deployed it. Hopefully that will be overcome with time, as I think the game has some real legs to it.