Monday, January 21, 2013

Game Night and Thoughts on Malifaux

My gaming group decided to move Thursday Game Night to every other Friday.  This past Friday was our launch, as was my reattempt to play Malifaux, after a 2- or 3-year hiatus.

I already expressed my complaints with Wyrd miniatures, i.e. fiddly and fragile multi-part models, but I have to say, their appearance on the tabletop is inspiring.  They have a presence and dynamism, even when the poses are relatively static, that brings you into the cinema and flavor of the game.

Here is my Steamborg letting off some steam in the heat of battle (ha, ha), to conceal his fellow fighters.


Ramos (lower-right) is about 80% painted, and the rest of the crew is obviously only primed.  However, priming with the airbrush in both black and gray is a nice way to at least get started.  Playing with black-and-white versions of the models at least provides contrast and 3-dimensionality to identify the models and reflect their action and character on the tabletop.

As for gameplay, my complaint about Malifaux and Warmachine/Hordes is that the amount of special rules for each model (probably averaging around 10 per model) presents an overwhelming, up-front learning curve.  It's hard to learn how to operate each model, much less learn all the combinations and synergies between the models in your faction/crew.  And that's just one faction.  Now try learning your opponents' factions, and if you're a league or tournament player, learning all of the factions.  Compared to Freebooter's Fate, where you might have only a couple of special abilities per model, Malifaux is a brain-burner to learn.

Another setback for me when I first started Malifaux was the fact that I bought 3 factions, with the expectation that one of them would be a competitive faction.  I learned from 40K that you can't count on the factions to be balanced, so I figured I would preempt that frustration.  Unfortunately, I selected my factions according to my usual criteria, what models I liked, instead of researching which factions were reported to be stronger or weaker.  Turns out, all three of my factions were regarded as relatively underpowered (Bayou Gremlins, Marcus, and Zoraida).  Between the difficulty of learning the factions and the frustration of being pummeled by opponents who devoted more time to researching the combos for their well-powered factions, I allowed Malifaux to fade to the background.

Eventually, I was to try again, and that is what led me to buy the Ramos starter set, which I read was respectable in its relative ability and relatively simpler in its depth of special abilities.  Even that opportunity fell to the wayside, but that is why I had the models on-hand, when several members in my current game-group expressed interest in giving Malifaux a try.  Attempting it again with fellow newbies was appealing enough to give it another go.

All to say, I enjoyed our game on Friday night!  I lost, of course, but the game was close, and the balance and tension of the opposing forces held my interest and gave me the mental challenge that I enjoy.  Each side had enough muscle to dish out the pain, and each side had interesting tricks and tactics to throw curve-balls into situation.  I have more to learn about combining and sequencing the special abilities in my faction, but it feels like a manageable learning curve that will be fun to learn, rather than a daunting obstacle.

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