Thursday, 28 February 2013

February 2013 - My Malifaux Roundup

Another month done already - surely not! It's been another frantic month on the hobby front, despite promises to slow it down, when you get inspired, you just have to jump on it. So how well did I do in my goal setting this month, well lets see:

Achievement - Unlocked - The ultimate beginners board experiment
Inspiration, or a compulsive madness overtook me in the middle of the month, when a combination of a tournament board i'd seen and idle hands lead to me designing, at least on paper, the ultimate Malifaux beginners board. I promptly got stuck in, dusting off some of my hoardings and buying some truly nerdy airfix kits from Ebay, with the intention of building the ultimate beginners board. Although I have until July to finish these boards, I'm hoping for continued progress next month.

Achievement - Locked - Paint up Izamu
I set myself the goal of painting up my first Malifaux model this month, Izamu. As I start to head into the zombie and undead side of the faction, where skin tones and outfits are less filigree and more dirty and bloodstained, I'm starting to feel a bit more comfortable that I could paint these minis.

So how did I do? Well Izamu sits undercoated on my paint station, so not very well would be the answer there...

Achievement - Unlocked - Gaining Grounds 2013 experience
I wanted to get some exposure to gaining grounds 2013, so I could consider if it was going to have any affect on the tournament I'm planning to run later in the year. I also wanted to know if there were any real changes for my ultimate beginners board.

I tried desperately to find a time to meet up with our local henchman, but our calendars and real life were destined to get in the way. In the end, Wyrd beat me to it, releasing the updated PDF toward the end of the month. I set about trying out different combos both at my local gaming club and using vassal. the result was an article I published recently, with the changes I'd found in how gaining grounds plays. All up I'm very happy with the changes, although some of my combos need a little revision I think the changes will make for much more balanced tournaments.

Achievement - Unlocked - More experiences with Kirai
My first game with Kirai in our summer league and just my luck I get put up against my regular opponent, Mr Neverborn and team Jacob.

I'm still learning what Kirai is capable of, and that game was no exception, teaching me a thing or two about how to use Kirai and Datsu Ba when trying to claim objectives. I seriously considered using Kirai's reactivate on Datsu to get the APs she needed, but when I got distracted it fell to Datsu and I needed to move 6" and have two APs to interact with an evidence counter. My usual tactic of "no escaping" her into contact with one of my crew, just wasn't going to do it, but then I saw guide spirits and it occurred to me to cast it on Datsu, effectively giving her a free walk action for the turn. She hightailed it over to the evidence and immediately destroyed it, not that it won me the game, but it taught me something. I had similar experiences with my night terrors and my Shikome in that, and subsequent games, and I'm starting to better understand what each is capable of.

I also had one of my best games against Mr Arcanist, who just to confuse things, decided to play Guild and Sonnia no less. I went into the game sure of defeat, having heard how hard a matchup against Sonnia can be for Kirai. I did really well and was very pleased at how close the game was until, rereading my cards the next day, I realised I'd been summoning Shikome incorrectly. Undoubtedly the game would have been a lot harder for me if I'd been sacrificing two spirits, instead of one, for each Shikome I'd been summoning. Nonetheless it was an incredibly tight game and will standout as one of my favourites of all time.

Achievement - Locked - Photoshopping Kirai and Crew
I wanted to get my Kirai cards photoshopped with the colours of my painted crew but sadly it wasn't to be. My beginners board won hands down in the priority stakes this month.

And what of the usual surprises that a month of Malifaux brings? Well my good friend Mr Fantasy gave me a gift voucher for my birthday last month that I finally got round to cashing in. I thought seriously about buying a McMorning, but I really despise the sculpt and I'm not as smitten with his play style as other Resser masters. In the end I took a look at ten thunders and looked for compatible models for my Yan Lo boxed set. I settled on some Oiran, but there was still $10 left so I bought the ten thunders boxed set, some archers and granny thunders (name escapes me), which even using the ridiculously high exchange rates we have at the moment, still comes to over $10...... Plus shipping.... But whilst you know that, and I know that, lets not tell the misses that please....

So as my pile of shame threatens to become my room of shame, And with pva, wall paper and use of power tools calling, what will March be like for this Malifaux addict?

Well I have a one day achievement league/tourney I'll be participating in, along with a lot of the other boys from KRAGS. I also have my beginners board, that'll keep me busy, and between all these Mercs and Ten Thunders I have a hell of a lot of painting and assembly to be getting on with.

So another quiet month apparently!

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Malifaux Board for Beginners - Part 3 - Basing, Textures and steampunk terrain

Another weekend down and some serious work on what will be my Arcanist themed board. I started by cutting up and laying out two complete sets of GW movement trays, to act a hard pavements. The intention with this board is to put down a number of surfaces that imply a hodgepodge of architectures. I imagine this to be an evolving rail or factory area for the Arcanists, something that has evolved over time and is their take on claiming old Malifaux. I want a mixture of new and old industrial apparatus, in a mixture of conditions, to imply this evolution. I'll throw in minimal natural resources, the odd broken tree stump, some ruined grass, maybe a polluted stream, to show these arcanists aren't one with Mother Nature.

I then went at the board using a selection of textured wallpaper I've hoarded over the years. I only had off cuts, so nothing's going to fill the entire board and besides that's not the theme I was going for. As I was doing this I was conscious of ensuring I still had adequate spaces for my Steampunk buildings that ill hopefully be receiving from Impudent Mortals Kickstarter within the month. (Below are a couple of examples)

I cut out template 4x6 and 6x8 shaped buildings on paper and checked that there was still spaces to place these in a modular form. Ultimately the board will have the textured paving area but it should still be possible to achieve different setups by keeping the buildings modular.

I've used three different wallpapers so far, one had a fantastic cobblestone pattern, which I cut up and will be using in conjunction with sand or snow to imply the oldest layer, probably some old Malifaux streets.

Then came an abstract pattern, which could easily be painted as a snow or sand texture, this will be the only natural area of the board.

There's also a black cloth material which has a more industrial cobble look to it, much tighter and uniformed. This was by far the hardest to fit and I'm not looking forward to fitting the rest of this, working with wallpaper is far more forgiving and easier, but is the one material I can source locally in abundance.

Lastly is this brownish wallpaper that I might use to represent an internal area, it looks a little more refined.

Then came a splurge on eBay, where I bought 30g of watch parts for converting buildings or making standalone machines and this old airfix kit for a bit of hard machinery and line of sight blocking.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Gaining Grounds 2013 - Summary of Changes

After much noise on the subject, and more than one TO releasing details in their players pack, Wyrd finally announced a revision to the Gaining Grounds Tournament play guidelines last week.

This is my take on the changes and for the record I think these are all for the better, but I'll come to that later.

Wyrd run vs henchman run and other organised play events
At first glance it appears Wyrd have their own set of guidelines for running events, called the governors decree. It looks like this is the hard line version, with many of the changes in player requirements that are listed below, unchanged. Maybe Wyrd has done this to demand the ultimate from its tournaments, although I'm struggling to remember one they've 'officially' run, or it could be a sign that they want to introduce their own events? Anywho...

Player requirements - the letter of the law
There's been some subtle and not so subtle changes in the player requirements for a tourney:
- Fate Decks are listed as needing to be official Wyrd decks, perhaps to make it easier on TOs to check and your opponent to understand, perhaps to try and scupper the custom fate deck options that are popping up on the forums. Either way, I can see most TO's ignoring this
- The use of proxy models is now at the discretion of the TO. Here in Australia there is a big conversion and proxy following, with most TO's ignored the wording in the original gaining grounds guide
- The use of pre release models is also now at TO discretion, and seems like a good move given the long release dates on GenCon models
- Painted crews is now at TO discretion, which I think is a good and bad thing. By allowing unpainted or primed models you include a bigger selection of players, but at the same time, there's nothing like playing against a beautifully painted crew.

Rounds and Timings
The only notable change seems to be in round timing with Wyrd still recommending 10 minutes for encounter setup but then adding 10 minutes to the recommended timings for each round. At the end of the day, that suits me fine, and I look forward to having a little more play time per round, but then I haven't looked at this from a TO perspective yet, to see how that might impact a daily schedule.

Crew Construction
Crew construction has been better defined where a pool is available to players, with a clearer set of rules around selection. Examples include how masters and henchmen are allotted to a pool and the role of avatars and summoned models. There's even two nice examples to follow, with one showing special force, mercenary and compatible models from other factions.

Tournament Formats
Tournament formats has received some if the biggest updates with the introduction of a replacement alternative format and much tighter wording, so there is no ambiguities.

In the original gaining grounds you had the following scoring formats:

In gaining grounds 2013 you have:
Standard - scored on TP, then diff, then VP
Disparity - unchanged, scored on diff, VP, TP
Victory - scored on VP, Diff, TP
Attrition - scored using standard format, but games decrease in size as the day goes on.

Attrition is a format I'd love to try out, but it won't be the format I choose for our clubs first Malifaux tournament. I can see its a format you use when you have a large enough player base, but as attrition is probably best started with a brawl, its likely to only appeal to those with big collections.

Strategies have undergone the most significant of changes with a much heavier emphasis on scoring victory points as the game progresses, rather than totalling up at the end. TOs can still choose between individual and shared variants, but the strategies as a whole have undergone quite a revamp.

In the original gaining grounds, the selections were:
Jokers Contain Power
1-2. Treasure Hunt
3-5. Destroy the Evidence
6-8. Reconnoiter
9-11. Claim Jump
12-13. Slaughter

Whereas in gaining grounds 2013, the selections are:
Jokers Contain Power
1-2. Treasure Hunt
3-5. Land Grab
6-8. Slaughter
9-11. Line in the Sand
12-13. Master of the Hill

The common names belie the changes in the missions, you'll want to familiarise yourself with all missions. The stand out changes come in Land Grab, a reworked version of Reconnoiter and Master of the Hill, a reworked version of Claim Jump with a hill.

I won't go into any more detail in this entry, but suffice it to say there's enough change that experienced players will be revisiting their tactics and new players benefit from tighter rules and wording. If nothing else, these changes will shakeup the tourney scene a little and will give us all something to think about in the coming months.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Three causes for celebration for this Aspiring Resurrectionist

That's right this week, with little fanfare, this blog celebrate 3 milestones...

50 posts!
2000 hits!
4 month anniversary!

That's a pretty big week and its incentivised me even more, now I just have to start winning some games and I'll really have something to really celebrate!

Looking forward though, I'm setting myself some objectives for this blog, as I don't want the content to become stagnant and I need to keep incentivised to deliver two-three posts per week.

So what can you expect, well I've laid the foundations, but you can expect:
- More battle and tournament reports because I'm playing on average twice a week and planning on attending at least three more tournaments this year
- More terrain building features as I've been bitten bad by that bug!
- More in the Mighty Minion and Loathesome Lackeys series, as I get to grips with what my crews and the other factions are capable of
- More in the photoshopping series, which is born out of the need to deal with so many duplicate sculpts - thank you Kirai!
- More in the promoting the game category, as our local scene needs a serious pick me up
- More news and reviews from the fringe, I want to get the message out about the things I'm finding that I think players could do with knowing
- More assembly guides, because let's face it, no instructions with Wyrd's plastics has got us all guessing
- More monthly round ups, more for me, as it keeps me going and ensures I have some targets. I'm all about targets (usually painted on my head during tourneys)
- More ultra combos, because let's face it, Ressers need help and if it works why not use it?

And some additions you can expect:
- Vassal review, tips and battle reports, my take on this evolving platform and my performance in the new world league
- Alternate sculpts ideas, as I seem to be finding a lot more of these recently
- A local scene guide, as I've had a couple of enquiries from those migrating to Australia, or just moving interstate
- Something from my regulars. Counterpoint articles on what my opponents think when building out their lists and combos against me.
- And whatever else I can dream up, or is suggested, so don't be shy. L et me know if there's something I'm missing or you'd like my take on.

And hopefully all of this will result in this blog hitting some targets by the end of its first year (again with the targets). I'd like to hit 120 posts, 5000 hits and 10 followers. Lets see how that all pans out when October 15th, the birthdate of this infamous blog, rolls round!

Monday, 18 February 2013

Malifaux Board for Beginners - Part 2 - Foundations Laid

This weekend after all the chores were out of the way, I finally got to start my new Malifaux boards. All I'm really doing is repurposing two old 40k boards but at the same time I want to add all of the embellishments that will open up the game to beginners.

The plan hasn't changed much since I outlined it last time, the only changes came from my very practical wife. Her advice was simple but is probably better understood when you've seen a few pictures so I'll save that for near the end of this article.

So a quick trip to Bunnings (Aussie DIY chain) and I had the majority of the bits I'd need for less than $30! I sat in store as they adeptly sliced up a 6x4" 6mm thick MDF panel, until I had all of the pieces I needed. Along with my boards I also picked up some plastic edging strip I intend to use to protect the board edges and some furniture pads to set the 3x3 on when its placed in the centre of the 4x4. The seating will slightly elevate the game board from the outer perimeter status and player surfaces, and allows me to make the game boards double sided. Now I just have to work out what my four boards are going to be!

Pictured below are a couple of early WIP shots. My old 4x4 urban board will be repainted black and the furniture pads inset for the 3x3 to sit on. The bare wood on top is the 6" player and status surfaces. These need a little planing down to fit snugly to the outer edge, whilst comfortably housing the 3x3 game board. I'll only fit these once I've painted them up.

Then there's the game boards, which I'm edging to protect from splitting, using 4.5mm plastic protective strip. I've used some PVA glue to lock it into place, but may need to tack down if that doesn't prove sufficient.

And board 1 all edged and ready to go...

But then comes the sage advice of the misses, who, ever the voice of reason (and caution where power tools and I are concerned), has always got one eye on my DIY projects.

Her advice:
I'll need to cut hand holds into the status boards to allow easy placement and removal of the inner gaming board.

I should consider some sort of handles or detachable shoulder strap to make carrying the full board easier, as its heavy to start with and is only going to get heavier with the player and status surfaces attached.

She's absolutely right of course and now I'm going to have to work out how to accommodate these things!

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Malifaux Board for Beginners - Part 1 - Design

After a busy couple of weeks building my crystal canyon boards and helping to run a Fantasy tournament for KRAGS, I should be taking it easy. I should be getting stuck into painting Izamu. I should definitely be earning some brownie points with the Misses, but instead I'm getting excited about my next Malifaux board, and specifically about how to pimp it out and make the game more accessible to beginners.

I'd seen this board a couple of times when searching the web for inspiration, but when I saw it again last night, I resolved that the two 4x4 urban boards I'd done for 40k, that had been sat doing nothing for almost a year, needed to be repurposed for Malifaux.

If you look beyond the actual game surface area in the above picture you see clearly defined deployment areas, a turn counter and a few other embellishments. It's true that Faux is played on a 3x3, but when you get down to it, between crew cards, soulstones, counters and the whole kit and caboodle, you probably need a 4x4.

I think particularly when training new players, having sectionalised areas for crews, decks and a highly visible soulstone and victory point tracks makes all the difference. Therefore I've resolved that my next two boards should be based on my 4x4's and should, at the very least, have the following features:

Extra foot of length divided into two deck and crew management zones, two deck areas for your deck and discards and control hands.

Extra foot of width divided:
Side 1:
- Into soulstone and victory point trackers
- upto 10ss and distinguish scrap from brawl
- upto 10vp's to cover brawls
- separate tracks per player
- track points should be the size of a glass bead to allow beads
to be used as counters
- Turn counter
Side 2
- Section for individual or shared strategy cards
- Section for scheme cards per player
- location for crew specific counters and reserve/dead crew

The centre point on the board should be subtly marked for a 30mm counter, making placement of centre counter quick and simple.

And because a picture is worth a thousand words, here's my crude mockup.

I was tempted to mark out deployment zones but I think that might prohibit these boards being used in a normal game or tournament environment. On the whole, I think this will open up the accessibility to newer players, but there is nothing here that would give an experienced player an edge. Hopefully it'll be a enjoyable experience for anyone using them.

As to what the actual play area may look like, well that my dear readers is a subject for another blog entry. All I will say is it will be an Arcanist themed affair and that I can't wait for my scenery from the Impudent Mortal Kickstarter to arrive.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Kirai Crew Commission Painted By TSOM

Now that I'm all caught up on my Cancon and Faux Pas event posts, I can turn my attention to the delivery I received yesterday.

As some of you know, I've been leaning on commission painting services to get my collection painted. The work I do really doesn't leave me with a lot of time and as such, I need others to bring my collection to life.

Just before Xmas I contacted Luke from The Sound of the Machines, a commission painting company operating out of Sydney. I explained that I wanted a commission that captured the original artwork for Kirai and crew, but that I also wanted duplicates to have alternate colours, so that I could photoshop the models to produce distinct cards.

Yesterday I took possession and without further ado, here is the fruits of their labours:

I'm very happy with how they all turned out. The duplicate sculpts in particular are just distinct enough and use the same colour palette to make it easy to distinguish who is who.

My hat is off to Luke and his team who provided a great service from start to finish. I can't wait to get these minis to a game or two!

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Malifaux Terrain Board - Crystal Canyons

Well as I hinted at in my January roundup the Crystal Canyons boards are now complete. Below are some shots taken as a preview and some taken of all the boards I've prepared, taken at various times during our Faux Pas night.

It's intesting that when I previewed these boards several people came back with the honest feedback that the terrain was a little sparse and would favour ranged crews. The simple solution was to add an extra mesa to each table. You can see in the last photo that adding a third LOS blocker has made all the difference and although it was getting tempting to add a fourth or fifth, two factors stopped me. Firstly it was cost prohibitive adding another $70-80 dollars to a table. Secondly I've always believed that terrain looks best when there's an odd number of each component on the board. You tend to get less symmetrical shapes and players tend to think a bit more about placement.

The boards themselves are 3mm 3x3 sized topper boards. They can be that thin because they are laid on the clubs 4x4 boards. They were undercoated black and then heavily sprayed with brown before adding bursts of red, a desert yellow and a greyish colour. The bursts help to break up the flatness of the board, but still make it a simple job to repaint as they take wear and tear.

The crystals are from the gale force nine range and were black undercoated, liberally painted in imperial purple before highlights in layers of liche and warlock purples.

The mesas are also gale force nine terrain and only really had grass tufts applied, they come painted as you see them. I added the tufts to all pieces of terrain to give some synergy between the crystal formations and the badlands terrain.

The other pictures are of other boards I've delivered, the shady rest cemetery and settlement boards use a mixture of GW, Rendra and gales force nine terrain.