Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Jumping Into the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge

Might as well keep the posts coming...

I mentioned in my last post that I've signed up for the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge. I've followed the previous two challenges, and the whole event really makes for an interesting season of blog-watching. Just seeing the incredible diversity of peoples' projects is fascinating. But actually participating lends an extra layer to the whole thing, as it's a great way to crank through a bunch of "ongoing" or "unstarted" projects that have been lingering too long.

The first challenge I followed I only discovered after it had started. I sat out last year's challenge because the rules stipulated historical figures only, and at the time I was only working on fantasy/sci-fi projects...only to subsequently find out that the rules had been changed that year to allow all types of figures! So I've been looking forward to finally get a chance to participate this year.

I've got a display cabinet for my minis, and it's currently about half-filled with assembled and primered figures. My hope is that by the end of the challenge in March, the cabinet will be filled with 100-percent-painted figures. Here's what I'm hoping to knock out over the course of the challenge:

  • Finish up my Epic40K Titan Legion--essentially, this consists of finishing the Titan Defense Platoon, as all the actual Titans are already finished.
  • Paint my Epic40K Ork army. Holy crap, this is going to be the doozy of the projects, as it's three whole clans plus Gargants (Ork titans) and assorted support vehicles. Very much looking forward to seeing this completed and taking a place of honor in my display cabinet.
  • I've got two buntai for Ronin, the samurai skirmish game: Bushi (a samurai and his retinue) and Ikko-Ikki (fanatical peasant rabble rousers). Maybe 15-20 figures max.
  • I'm diving back into WW2, this time with an eye towards finally doing some Berlin '45 street fights. (This has been a project I've been wanting to do for over a decade now, and Warlord is putting out some great kits for this era, so I'm taking the plunge.)
  • I don't think I'm going to wait for the start of the Challenge in December to carry on with my Malifaux projects, but if I've still got some unpainted figures in the queue at that time, I'll certainly add them to my points total.

That should keep me well occupied for the winter! I've set a goal of 750 points, which I think should cover what I want to paint. I was too lazy to count every single figure and vehicle, so I just eyeballed. If you want to get in on the action, head over to this post and leave a comment. The only entry fee is to paint a figure to match the theme of the year and send it to Curt, the event organizer, before the close of the contest. This year's theme is "Anti-Heroes, Rogues and Ruffians" and I wasn't really sure what I was going to paint until, quite by accident, I just happened to run across this figure yesterday:

To which I can only say...


Monday, November 10, 2014

Malifaux: First Encounters, First Impressions

Oof, nearly two months without a post. That's apt to change over the coming months, as I have finally taken the plunge and signed up for the annual Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge. My hope is that by the conclusion of the contest in March, my current unpainted collections will all be painted up, and I'll be sure to share my progress along the way.

I've been priming my painting pump (not to mention sharpening my terraining scythe) of late by working towards a grand goal for this holiday weekend: hosting a bunch of Malifaux games! Two of my oldest and dearest friends were flying in, and grand plans were laid out to take the plunge into this new game. (We played many a game of Necromunda and Mordheim back in the day, and Malifaux seemed to scratch a very similar itch.)

The friends showed up Thursday night and we got to playing on Friday. Here, then, are some pictures from our many games (we each played three - two two-player scenarios a piece, plus an "all in" three-player scenario), followed by my thoughts on the game in general, and what I would recommend to new players like myself.

The board setup from our first game. Terrain consisted of Dave Graffam paper buildings and Zuzzy "Wounded City" rubber mat, with the 4x4 table marked off to the 3x3 area required by the game.

Another game's setup - the second session, I believe. Malifaux takes place in a sort of alternate steampunk history, so I decided to pick up a set of train tracks to add to the table. I'll be dirtying them up for future games.

My crew are from the Outsiders faction and consist of "the Viktorias" - a mercenary and her extra-dimenstional doppelganger who became like sisters. That's one great thing about the Malifaux setting, the many different colorful characters populating it that you get to play with.

This hellish contraption is called a "Peacekeeper" - ha! Seriously bad news, but Taelor (there in the foreground) stood toe-to-toe with it for several rounds before succumbing. The Viktorias got their revenge, though...

The Peacekeeper eventually fell to a coordinated attack, and I managed to pull a draw in my first game - although it would've been a loss had my opponent not neglected one of his Schemes (another fun aspect of the game).

This shot is from the three-way game, in which C. Hoffman's constructs duked it out with a local Gremlin tribe while my Outcasts snuck in and made off with the treasure. I love playing mercenaries!

A shot from the last game I played, Outcasts versus Gremlins. We found that each game had a distinctly different flavor, with some being very much about careful positioning and others devolving pretty quickly into out-and-out slugfests. Each faction definitely has some very carefully balanced strengths and weaknesses, and part of the fun of the game is discovering your own as well as your opponent's.

Leaving off with a nice little cinematic shot: my Student of Conflict facing down a Guild Hunter. One of the Viktorias bounded in and got her to safety on the next turn, if memory serves.

So what's the final verdict?

We loved Malifaux! I've got a second crew on the painting table already (Perdita Ortega and family), and hope to use it and my original crew to demo games for folks in my own community; my friends are likewise going to carry the gospel back to their town. I'm also planning some new terrain projects, both in terms of expanding my "urban" set-up that we used in this weekend's games as well as creating some new boards (the Latigo clan will need some arid land and adobe buildings to defend, after all).

Because of our Necromunda/Mordheim backgrounds, we dove in with the Campaign rules as presented in Volume 5 of Wyrd Chronicles from the get-go, and those proved very successful. I almost lost my leader, Viktoria of Ashes, after one game, but successfully pulled off a "deal with the devil" that earned her Black Blood (think the creatures' acidic blood in Aliens) and Flight. Triumph! As it was, I came out ahead on Campaign points (yet somehow last in total Soulstone value), and very satisfied with my crew - although I am going to go with the alternate sculpts for the Viktorias and third-party proxy for Taelor that I like better than the sculpts I have.

Game play proved deep and satisfying without getting too bogged down in mechanics (once we got over the initial learning curve, of course), and rules questions were few and far between and easily resolved (the index never failed!). The card mechanic was lot of fun and definitely provided an interesting and engrossing alternative to dice rolling.

Did we have any criticisms? Sure. Few to none of our beefs were with the game proper, however. Rather, there was some frustration with the game's product support.

See, Malifaux is currently in its Second Edition, and is still rolling out new product. The switch to 2E has also seen a switch to finely-detailed plastic kits replacing the old metal sculpts. So there are a lot of the old packs still floating around. And because the game uses stat cards to track models during the game, you can run into the problem of getting a set with old cards, like my friend Alex did with his Gremlins.

Fortunately, I had purchased the full rulebook, which includes copies of stat cards for all the major models in release at the time of publishing. There is, however, a truncated "table reference" volume that lacks those stats - if I had bought that book, we would've been SOL! Furthermore, my friend Tim and I had both bought some supplementary card decks feeling they were somewhat peripheral, only to find out that they were tremendously useful!

So if you're looking to get into Malifaux, here's the "boxed set" assortment I would recommend picking up to make sure your bases are covered:

Malifaux 2E Rules Manual

Two copies of the Strategies & Schemes Deck 

  • (This was invaluable, not just for remembering Victory Point objectives, but also because it came with a handy Quick Refernce card!)

Two "2E" boxed sets of your choice - the buy-in cost for this game is so low compared to 40K or WarmaHordes, it's quite easy to put together two or more crews

A set of dry erase pens to mark your cards - they're laminated, and have spaces to track wounds for this very purpose

ETA: Bah, I knew I was forgetting something--counters! This, in my opinion, is where the game could really use a boxed set in the GW mold, as it makes use of quite a few counters over the course of play but doesn't actually provide any. Fortunately, I had some proxy counters on hand for our weekend, but I'm looking at some third-party sources for the "real deal" and I'm liking what Counter Attack is offering. The "condition quadrant" markers in particular are quite swanky.


Two Fate decks

  • (You can use a standard poker deck to play, but the Fate decks looked nice and already had suits and card values converted, saving a bit of mental math during the heat of battle.) 

Arsenal deck(s) (example)

  • (These are decks for each faction that provide 2E stat cards for every model in the faction; there are currently two "waves" of releases, so make sure you get both to cover all your bases. If you're buying the latest kits, you probably don't need these, but if you're using older models that came with 1E or 1.5E cards, this purchase is mandatory.)
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...