Thursday, September 2, 2010

Malifaux Review - New Faction Starters

Hello Everyone!

I thought I would kick off the first Malifaux article on CNC with a review of the two new faction starters for the game, the Spirits of Vengeance box featuring Kirai for the Resurrectionists, and the Showgirls box featuring Colette for the Arcanists. I'll be tackling Kirai, bloodied hedge-clippers and all, and our very own Sand will be taking care of Colette with a special guest review!

We finally got our delivery of these models this week, and I, for one, have been wringing my hands waiting for them. Especially since they've been floating around since GenCon, and some stores in the Midwest and Eastern US had them last week!

I cracked open the Kirai box last night and dove in immediately. Here's what you'll be seeing when you open it up:

Dastue-Ba and Kirai

Ikiryo and a Seishin

The Onryo
The minis are excellent; Wyrd has quickly gained a reputation for some amazing models and these, generally, did not disappoint. Kirai and Datsue-Ba are the only multi-part models, and were subsequently the only ones that needed any work other than basic clean-up. Datsue-Ba's arms are post-hole joints, and the holes in her sleeves were a little small, so I had to drill them out with a pin vice to fit the arms in properly. Kirai's clippers attached with no more work than shaping her wrists a bit, as they had squared-off slighty after removing the metal tab. The Onryo, the Seishin, and Ikiryo are all single-piece models, so after a bit of clipper work to removing venting and a bit of filing to take care of the flash, all that was left was to kink the base rails of the minis so they fit snugly into their slottabases and wait for the glue to dry!

Here's the gang after assembly:

I love the look of Kirai in particular; with the graven, downturned face and hair she looks like she's right out of the Grudge or Ringu. The decapitated head under those garden shears completes the look. Models in Malifaux have great names for some of their special rules and abilities, and Kirai's special rule 'Uncontrolled Crying' totally fits the theme of the character; it gives her a trait called 'Pitiful' which makes it harder for other models to attack her! Ikiryo is a neat mini with a lot of motion, but whenever I look at her I can't help but think of the librarian ghost in the opening sequence to Ghostbusters. Not that a Ghostbusters reference is ever a bad thing, of course. The Onryo are also very fluid, capturing a kind of etheric, spiritual movement. Datsue-Ba is the classic faceless crone, and I'm a sucker for models with lanterns so I love her. The Seishin is the lone disappointment in the box. Ruleswise, I understand that they are chaff, being summoned and dying in droves, so they don't warrant any more impressive of a sculpt, but they just seem a little... meh.

All told, though, I'm totally satisfied with the box. Like all the other Malifaux starters, it has enough in it to play a full-sized game right away, and the look and feel of the figures is very unique. For $42, it breaks down to about $7 per model, which is right in the middle of expectation. From the looks of how Kirai plays, I'm expecting to need at least some more Seishin, and probably some Gaki (when they're released), just for Kirai's spirit-summoning engine to run in the powerband, and then fill out her crew with another model or two from there for larger 30-35 point games. Which means that she's going to be a little bit more expensive than other masters to get the whole crew. She definitely looks like a lot of fun though, and it'll be nice to not have to worry so much about corpse counters!

And now, over to Sand for a look at the Colette starter:
Hello, Sand here busting open the new Colette starter box for the small-scale skirmish game Malifaux! After reading Malifaux: Rising Powers from front to back, I decided to play Colette and the showgirls for two reasons: the play style and the girls. When Disdainful first ran me through the game, I first commented on the unique ability of Wyrd Miniatures to produce female models with beautiful detail to the faces and hair.

The Grades

 Colette Du Bois: A quick one-piece slot-in is always a beautiful thing. The pose fits her character as the self-confident – if somewhat cocky – talented magician.

Cassandra: Though I love the look of Cassandra, the model had the fatal flaw of having the one-piece weapon with hands that needed to fit into two precise positions on the wrists. It took me a little bit of bending the sword back and forth in order to find the perfect angle at which I felt the points of connection had been covered best. Despite that, Cassandra’s unique hairstyle and dress provides a different look to the rest of the crew. Instead of frills and short skirts, she wears a smooth dress with a ribbon at the back. If anything, it’ll provide me with a break in the monotony of painting frilly skirts.

Performers: Though both are great, I can’t help but prefer the performer with the shorter skirt. Her pose feels a lot more dynamic, while the other performer’s pose feels like she’s standing still. Both are one-piece slot-ins.

Mannequins: These models are three pieces (body, arm, arm). The arms have circular joints that fit into grooved shoulders. One issue I found was the placement of the mold lines. They run exactly in the middle, through the frills of the dresses and along the head and down the back. It may take a little work to remove the mold lines without damaging some of the details of the face and dress. Other than that, they’re great models that manage to maintain some motion while being lifeless.

And the whole crew assembled:

Gameplay (At First Glance)

Colette: An obvious control/finesse master with sweet soulstone tech. Her spells range anywhere from manipulation of model placement to decently high damage spells. Death Defying and Slow to Die allow you some forgiveness when it comes to being reckless with her. Blinding Flash begs you to hold a high Tome back if you go for a heavy hitting Magician’s Duel. Switching places with Cassandra (who hasn’t activated yet) can spell doom for your opponent’s already weakened model. While Mannequin Replacement can be insane when done on a large model, hoping for it to work out pales in comparison to Sleight of Hand, allowing you to regain your soulstones and keep pumping out more attacks.

I’ve mapped turn 1 as: Move, Soulstone Infusion, Soulstone Manipulation, [Reactivate], Trick of the Hat/Discharge Soulstone/Disappearing Act, Soulstone Manipulation. I’ve viewed turn 1 as the “set up” of the game, and by building up your soulstone cache and creating a mechanical dove (which can be abused next turn with “Now You See It…” and Cassandra) is a mighty fine set up. It also allows you to get rid of bad cards in your hand, keeping only the Tomes and Masks you may need for the next turn’s Discharge Soulstones and Magician’s Duel.

Colette’s Special Charm makes your performers far better at both their abilities and their attacks. Abusing your peformer’s Mesmerizing at WP 7 -> WP X duel right after using Seduction is pretty much an auto-Slow.

I personally feel that Colette’s main weakness is that you can’t misplay with your soulstones. Screwing up and using too many will result in either the loss of a turn recovering with Soulstone Manipulation (which in Malifaux will most likely be lethal) or force you to use Colette as a single spell caster when she should be activating twice a turn, slinging disruption and death amongst your opponent’s team.

Cassandra: While Colette fulfills the role of disruption and support, Cassandra brings the damage to finish it. Abusing Breathe Fire and her ability to avoid damage is key. Walking up and cheating a Breathe Fire with a mask while linked to Essence of Power allows you to remain up to 10” away from the target and gain a 3/3B/5BB with a positive twist. Activating Southern Charm afterwards will keep her fairly safe from return fire. I view her as a ranged model with tech skills that allow her to trade in and out with Coryphee. When the going gets too tough, switch her with the Coryphee and allow the whirlwind of blades to deal with the hand-to-hand. When the Coryphee are being overwhelmed by the sheer number of ranged shots, switch in Cassandra to Breathe Fire and jump away with the 4” push. If Cassandra is linked to Essence of Power, they become an extremely mobile Disappearing Act/Discharge Soulstone.

I personally plan on using Cassandra as my scalpel alongside the butcher’s cleaver that is a Steamborg Executioner.

Performer and Mannequin: Performers are pure tech and manipulation. Using them correctly entails the support of Colette and other models in your crew. I’d always run one and try to avoid running two. At 6 points I could be purchasing a Coryphee for 7. Coryphee kill. Performers make the opponent’s crew easier to kill.

The Performer has three uses: Mesmerizing, Seduction, and Siren Call. Mesmerizing becomes an amazing (0) with Colette around, as explained earlier. Seduction allows either Cassandra, Coryphee, or the Steamborg Excutioner to ensure that the target model will die. Siren Call song allows you to set up the charges and attacks that needed to occur.

Perhaps the most useful thing that Performers receive is the Mannequin. Linking immediately to the Performer and casting Tricks of the Trade giving either the Performer or Cassandra an automatic Mask to Ca while protecting the Performer to the front seems pretty insane. And don’t forget she has Companion (Showgirl).

Game Empire Pasadena will be hosting a Malifaux Tournament on Saturday, so I’ll be able to test my ideas and more accurately describe the strengths/weaknesses of the Showgirls.

Till then,
Thanks to Sand for an amazingly thorough review and some great pictures! Clearly, my poor Kirai will definitely have something to cry about when she squares off against Sand's Colette on the streets of Malifaux!

I hope this has been informative and interesting. Stay tuned for more from beyond the Breach, and thanks for reading!

1 comment:

  1. Great review of the Colette starter! As someone very new to Malifaux and interested in these minis, it was so useful!