Malifaux: Terrain

We finally made time to play another game of Malifaux.  Frank, Andy, JM, and I played two games side-by-side on a 4×6′ board set up with terrain set up for two adjacent 3×3′ boards.  This was a good showcase for my Malifaux terrain, so I took some pictures.

A Ronin attacked by mechanical spiders in the woods

Frank played his Viktoria crew against my arachnid-heavy Ramos crew.  Andy’s Colette box set tried to fend off JM’s Freikorps.  Frank crushed me utterly in 4 turns, while JM destroyed Andy’s dancers in 6 turns.

After trying and failing to enjoy the Terraclips terrain, we’ve fallen back to using area terrain pieces on a Terrainguy map.

The terrain here is an amalgam of pieces from a variety of sources that I’ve collected over the last decade or so.

Malifaux terrain: city and outskirts

Some of the buildings are Mordheim terrain from the box set. Others are completely scratch built and hand painted by Frank.  Some are made from inkjet printed walls glued to foam core. The hobo village around the swamp is plastic O scale railroad terrain.

The grave stones and piles of skulls are from Michael’s craft store during Halloween season.  The graveyard was scratch built by Frank.  There are railroad trees, cast resin stumps, and strips of cloth for roads.  The barrels were store bought pre-painted terrain.

Colette versus the Freikorps in the streets of Malifaux

I scratch built the swamps and rough ground area for dual use with DBA and Malifaux.  They’re made of thin plastic with rocky sand glued on, followed by paint and flock.  The water areas are done with glossy varnish slopped on over the paint.

Frank scratch built the board fences for Warhammer Fantasy, and I built the stone walls using Hirst Arts plaster molds.

Overall, I like the way this terrain looks, works, and stores better than Terraclips.  I could see adding a few standalone Terraclip buildings to this kind of game board, but I don’t think I’ll be trying to lay out an entire board of Terraclips terrain again any time soon.

Playing Malifaux reminded us all how much we enjoy the game, and we plan to play again soon.  Unfortunately the game seems to be changing faster than we can keep up with, since we don’t play regularly.  Luckily it’s still enjoyable with older models.

Malifaux: More Totems and Spiders

Before I recently finished my DBA Viking army, I painted some more Malifaux figures.  Here are some pictures, now that I have some that are in focus. 

I prepared and primed my Guild totems about a year ago, but didn’t get much paint on them until a few weeks ago.  I bought Abuela just after Christmas.  So: Yes!  Some of that old lead does end up painted eventually…

Governor’s Proxy
The Governor’s Proxy has a basic, serviceable paint job without too much interesting going on.  The basing matches all my Malifaux bases, which will make it harder for me to change my mind later with a new crew.  All of the bases shown here are from Dragon Forge Designs.
Enslaved Nephilim

I decided to go with red skin for my Enslaved Nephilim.  I like the way the grey hair and red skin turned out; it almost has the look of ashes and fire.  His wing stumps, not seen here, are also grey.

Abuela Ortega

Abuela Ortega was a fun figure to paint, but apparently I’m running out of different colors of brown to use for outer layers.  I tried to add some interest to her dress and shirt/apron but not much of them shows.

Overall I seem to be taking more of my 15mm technique onto these larger figures than the other way around, these days.  It works well enough and produces a reasonable result, especially for the B-list figures instead of the big names.

Steampunk Arachnids

Finally, my last stand of Steampunk Arachnids?  Hopefully.  This brings me up to two sets of three Arachnids, and two Arachnid Swarms.  Unfortunately these models are a slippery slope.

I have most of the Hoffman box set crew assembled and primed, as well as a Peacekeeper and a few other M&SU/Guild figures.  I’m not sure when I’ll get to those. They’re an excellent crossover crew for my Ramos and Perdita crews, because Hoffman is guild and can use Perdita models; Ramos and Hoffman can use each others’ steam punk models; and Hoffman is M&SU so he can use my M&SU mercenary cheaply as well.

Terraclips: Almost Awesome

Just like everyone else interested in the Wyrd Miniatures/Worldworks Terraclips terrain building sets probably has, I read and heard lots of good reviews about the kits… and then I bought them: one each of the Streets, Sewers, and Buildings kits, and three boxes of clips.  This is definitely a high quality, well designed product.  However, instead of repeating all the glowing praise I read before I bought them, I’ll list all my picky problems.  Hopefully this will help someone to decide whether this is the right toy for them.

My overall summary is: I think these would work great for D&D 4E dungeon crawls, but I don’t think they’ll be very good forMalifaux.

Here’s a 3 foot square of Malifaux terrain built using parts of all three kits.  The build took Frank and I 2 hours to complete.  We started with a half-assembled build, and spent some time disassembling it but saved some time reusing a few of the buildings and roofs I built earlier.

And here’s the first problem: Terraclips are slow to assemble.  I rarely spend this much time setting up terrain, and that’s when I am planning a historical scenario.  I’d rather spend my time crafting individual terrain pieces that can be reused quickly, or playing a game.

Because of the long setup time, you need either a lot of free time, or a place where the completed terrain can sit until you use it.  Unlike large purpose-built terrain boards and smaller area/element terrain pieces, Terraclips can’t easily be stored assembled.

Many reviews I’ve seen gawk at the huge amount of stuff you get in each box.  It’s true: you get a lot of stuff.  However, having a lot of stuff doesn’t necessarily mean building a large area of terrain. The kits come with the parts needed to do anything, but not to do everything at the same time.  For example, there are enough roof pieces to handle any L-shaped or T-shaped building, but you can build more square one-story buildings than you can add roofs to.  If you build taller buildings, they take up less area on the map, so you require more streets and sewers to take up the slack.

We found that we had a huge number of balcony and railing parts left unused (unpunched, even), but we ran out of roofs and walls without doors.  Another challenge is using the right ratio of 6″ and 3″ pieces, to ensure that you don’t run out of one before the other.

These parts are also quite fiddly to assemble.  Experience would definitely help building things faster and more cleanly, but I don’t expect I’d ever be fast enough to roll up a Malifaux scenario and then build terrain for it as the rules recommend. 

The clips all have a bump on one side but not the other (look in the clip’s slot, which tends to put a slight angle in the connection, especially when using I clips.  The T and L clips don’t join up the cards in the same orientation at the corner, depending on which direction the clip is used, which can leave you with some less than square buildings if you don’t align all the clips the same way. All these little errors add up over the course of a large build.  The few instructions available implore you to make sure everything is lined up properly and fully assembled, but it’s still fiddly.

The remaining issues I have with Terraclips are related to how they will work with Malifaux.

Malifaux didn’t have any comprehensive rules for working with buildings, the last I checked.  All terrain pieces were “area” or “element/item” and had an overall effect; they didn’t contain discrete walls, doors, windows, and so on.  In previous games using our scratch built buildings and Mordheim buildings, we adopted the Mordheim rules: any obstruction gives you cover, and line of site is WYSIWYG.

WYSIWYG line of site works great… as long as you are able to use terrain to disrupt and limit that line of site without being able to completely hide.  In this regard, the terraclips don’t perform well.  None of the wall sections have open windows, they only have doorways and arches.  These highly enclosed buildings have the effect of breaking the board into small, isolated, easily protected sections. We have yet to see how this plays out in practice.

We also found it difficult to add enough buildings to a flat city street grid, to block the line of site across the board adequately. We were limited by roofs.  We might have been able to build a few more buildings taller, but we couldn’t really add more of them.  Actually, this is great for my Perdita crew, so I’ll just stop complaining now.

For what they are, the Terraclips do a very good job.  These will be great for doing D&D dungeon crawls and encounters inside buildings, and I could even see building a dungeon crawl on the fly if it’s straightforward enough.  They even have 1″ squares subtly printed on all surfaces.  But I don’t have high hopes for building a wide variety of different terrain boards for a series of Malifaux games.

In the future I’ll be sticking to building more individual terrain elements to place on my Terrainguy mat, but I’ll save these kits to build dungeon crawls, assuming I can ever fit them back in their boxes.

Malifaux: Samael Hopkins

Samael Hopkins

I finished Samael Hopkins, another Guild figure I started along with Perdita and her crew.  I was disturbed by his superfluity of straps and decided to set him aside for a while.

He was a bit easier to paint than I expected, but I totally cheesed out on his boots and knee pads.  I decided that the sculpt has enough detail as it is, I don’t need to try to ruin it with too much fancy paint.  So I just used black with a bit of grey highlighting.

This time, my Army Painter dull varnish was really really dull.  It’s not as dusty looking in real life, but it still doesn’t photograph well.  I picked out the metallics with gloss varnish. 

I got this figure on discount without a card, and I’m unwilling to pay Wyrd’s shipping price for a single $.50 card, so I may have to make my own.

Malifaux Terrain

Here are a few shacks I painted up for Malifaux.

These are from an O-scale model railroad plastic kit.  It’s the Hobo Jungle from Bachmann’s Plasticville USA series.   Despite its horrifyingly bad name, there are a few good models in the Plasticville range.

According to the TMP All About Scales page, O-scale is supposed to be 1/43.5 scale or equivalent to 37mm miniatures.  In practice, these are great with the 32mm Malifaux figures and fit well alongside Mordheim terrain (intended for 28mm).  They’re quite small overall, and most of our 32mm figures won’t fit through the doorways.

I’m not sure how brown can be described as “bright,” but I think some of these turned out brighter than I intended. The rusted metal turned out well enough, though the rust may be a bit too “fresh” looking… or just too bright.

I also have a Plasticville sniper water tower to put together, and I haven’t finished the outhouse from the Hobo Village.  I think I’ll put the outhouse on the edge of a swamp terrain piece.

Malifaux: Nino and Santiago

 I finished painting Nino and Santiago Ortega, for my Malifaux Perdita crew.

Nino’s repeating rifle is excellent at long range, and his Hunter ability lets him shoot into cover more effectively.  Nino reminds me a bit of Badger from Firefly, mostly because of his bowler hat.  I’m afraid he’s going to break off at the ankle, but I’ll just try not to drop him.

I looked a others’ interpretations of santiago online, and there is a clear consensus: he wears blue pants (jeans) with an offwhite shirt (dirty t-shirt) and a brown duster.

The figures are displayed here on the second floor of one of Frank’s ruined houses. 

Malifaux: Cowboys versus Samurai

Frank and I played a 25 stone game of Malifaux on Saturday. We had a surprisingly balanced outcome compared to most past games, and we played through 5 turns before the end.

I chose my Perdita crew, set up straight out of the box: Perdita, Santiago, Francesco, Nino, and Papa Loco. Frank didn’t actually have any samurai, he chose his Viktoria crew: 2 Viktorias, 3 Ronin, and Misaki. I had the advantage in ranged combat, but Frank’s crew had high mobility and great melee.

Andy was around to watch and learn, so he set up terrain. We flipped on the extended encounter chart and wound up with a Shared Deliver a Message strategy: both of us had to take a (2) interact action within 2″ of the enemy Master, to deliver a message and gain victory points. This ended up having a large effect on the way we played, which means that as a game strategy, “it worked.”

We announced all our schemes.  I chose to Bodyguard Perdita, and to Kill the Protege: Misaki.  I chose Bodyguard since Deliver a Message required Frank to keep Perdita alive; but in retrospect it wasn’t the best choice, as it gave Frank more incentive to kill Perdita as a contingency plan.  Frank chose Steal Relic, which also required him to take an action near Perdita, and Gather Soulstones: end the game with more stones than me.  He started with only 3 stones and I had 2; but he had the option of sacrificing Ronin to get more stones.

For the first few turns, I did the most important thing possible: get Papa Loco as far away from me as possible, and close to Frank; so when he dies, the explosion doesn’t hurt me.  We got surprisingly close to each other on the first turn, and had a bit of a shootout.  Papa didn’t survive, I’m sorry to say, and his final explosion had no effect.  One of Frank’s Ronin died soon after: Perdita shot her for failing to Obey her orders to run down Misaki.

In the mean time, the Viktorias were approaching Nino and Santiago around a building, while Misaki hid behind it.   The two remaining Ronin were on the other flank, seemingly out of the action for now.  The Viktorias hit Santiago in melee, and in response he took 2 actions to Deliver the Message.  Since I completed the scheme first, I got 3VP.

At this point, Santiago survived long odds for longer than I expected. All my remaining guys emptied their guns at the Viktorias in rapid succession, in one huge Companion activation for the whole crew.  Since I was shooting into combat, all of the shots required me to randomly determine which model was the target, but Santiago avoided all but one of the attacks.  Unfortunately, the only luck I had was used up missing Santiago; I also did almost no damage to the Viktorias.

On their turn, Viktoria (no, the other one) killed Santiago, and Frank’s remaining Ronin closed in on Perdita, locking her in combat.  He Delivered the Message for only 1 VP, and then Stole my Relic (so we thought) and started running away.  I killed Misaki.  By now we were both out of soulstones, and the score was at 7VP for me (completing the strategy and both schemes) and 4 for Frank.

But the game wasn’t over yet.  Frank killed Perdita, knocking me down to 5VP.  For him to win, he needed to keep one Ronin alive (giving him 2 of his current 5VP) and sacrifice the other to gain soulstones (for another 2VP).  For me to win, I needed to kill either of his Ronin.

In the final turn (turn 5), my shooting was ineffective but Frank’s was not.  He got initiative, allowing him to get one Ronin out of the way. I wasn’t able to kill the other because it was Hard to Kill, and Frank cleaned out all of my remaining crew with the Viktorias.

So in the end, it seemed like Frank won with 6 VP, and I had 5VP.  But wait! He realized he was supposed to make a Willpower duel in order to steal my relic, but we forgot to do it. The result is unclear; but I think with the cards I had, I wouldn’t have been able to beat him.

I made some mistakes: I spent too much time shooting with Perdita to remember to keep her out of harm’s way.  I expected more from my guns based on their past performance, and Perdita was frustrated that no one would Obey her.

The strategies and schemes definitely affected gameplay and our play motivations.  I put Perdita into danger, counting on Frank not to harm her until he got his strategy and scheme VP’s… unfortunately I wasn’t able to get her out of trouble quickly enough once that happened.  In the end, I could’ve won the game with all my models lost, if I had only killed one more model.  I still really like the Malifaux encounter system, and we haven’t repeated any strategies yet.

I like this crew, especially how different it is from Ramos. I also the opportunity to demonstrate that it was in fact possible to beat them; maybe now I’ll hear fewer complaints about how broken they are.

Malifaux Update

I’ve taken a break from painting DBA models, and finished some more Malifaux figures.

Here is Ramos with his mechanical minions.  I’ve added another Steampunk Arachnid Swarm and an Electrical Creation.  I’ve always used Johann in this crew, but he seems to be best at dying.  When a few more nice looking models are released from the Rising Powers set, I’ll be adding those.

I’ve also built some scrap counters to match my crew, since Ramos needs scrappy bits to convert into more spiders.  In the center is a treasure counter I modelled for Mordheim, that I’ve been using when the need arises in Malifaux.  Of course, I replace the Wyrdstone with Soulstones first.

I’m also painting a Perdita crew.  I’m very happy with the way her pants turned out, but she definitely has a face made for radio; luckily she keeps a hat over it.  Once again I started this crew with a full can of Army Painter dull varnish.  Unfortunately it’s hard to shake the can enough, which results in a semi-gloss finish at the beginning of the can, and an ultra-flat finish near the end of the can.

And here’s the star of our show: Francesco “Zappa” Ortega, aka The Grand Wazoo.  Is that a real poncho or a Sears poncho?

His cohorts may consider his shirt a bit flambouyant, but Francesco always uses the right tool for the job.

Papa Loco likes fire.  Heh.  Blow stuff up!

I still have a few more Ortegas to paint before I can field a full Guild crew.  I also have a Peacekeeper, because I like the big robots; and Samael Hopkins. I’ll post more pictures once they’re finished.

Malifaux: Ramos’ Crew

Wyrd Miniatures makes some very nice miniatures.  They also make some really creepy ones, if that fits your tastes.

Personally, I really enjoy the steam punk elements available in their line.  After perusing their miniatures for quite some time, I settled on purchasing Ramos the Steampunk Sorceror and his crew.  He builds robot spiders out of scrap, and sends them off to do his dirty work.

I started by painting the arachnids.  Assembling these figures was a big pain in the butt, and there was almost no gluing surface at all.  They were definitely designed as display figures and not gaming figures.

The spiders are painted black with metallic dry brushing.  Except for a few lights and lenses they’re very straightforward.  In real life they have a nice monochrom metallic look that doesn’t come across well in images, and they have just enough color to be interesting.

Three arachnids on a single base are a Swarm. 

They can break up into individually based spiders for more flexibility. They can explode!  And Ramos can summon new ones when the old ones die.  We’ll see if any of this is worth doing, once we actually play the game.

The larger Brass Arachnid is Ramos’ totem: basically a magical familiar, but his is appropriately a spider.  This guy is quite large for his 30mm base.  I like the model a lot, though the paint job looks better in person as usual.

All the bases are from Dragon Forge’s Wastelands II series.  I intend to find some long grass to tune the bases, but can’t seem to get it locally.

I chose Johann, a mercenary, for my other main dude.  Although he’s usually part of a different crew, his special ability allows me to take him with Ramos as if he were also an Arcanist.

I painted Ramos (above) and Johann using a blending technique for basically everything except the metallic portions and the base.  I’m very happy with how they turned out, especially considering how long it’s been since I’ve tried to do a good job on a 28mm+ figure, and also considering the amount of time I spent on them.

These figures are just enough to play a 25 point game, which is kind of small.  I’ll provide some feedback on the rules once we try it out, but I’m very hopeful.