Thursday, July 31, 2014

Malifaux: Entering the Guild

"I was lucky in the order, but I've always been lucky when it comes to killin' folks."

Since discovering the wonders of Vassal for playing miniature games online, I have really gotten excited about Malifaux again.  And with Gencon coming up in less than two weeks, where Wyrd traditionally unveils a host of new models and some limited edition ones, it seems like a great time to be involved!  This spurred me to continue to assemble and expand my primary faction: the Guild.  While not as flashy and esoteric as many of the other factions in the Malifaux range, the Guild are grounded a little more in reality, with a heavy Western theme: long coats, cowboy hats, bandanas, and single-action revolvers.  With one part Clint Eastwood, another part McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, and a lunatic touch of Kouta Hirano's Hellsing, Malifaux’s Guild have a very distinctive style themselves.  Nowhere is this more evident than in their Marshals, which are what drew me to the Guild in the first place.

Wyrd’s shift to using plastic got me interested in Malifaux, but it was when I saw the plastic versions of their iconic Death Marshals that I was truly sold.  Tall desperados with tattered leather coats, knee high boots, wide brimmed hats, and bladed revolvers, all concealing the grimacing visage of a human skull wreathed in an unholy fire, were all strong factors telling me to buy some. But what really convinced me to get them was their completely ridiculous poses.  At the time, there were not too many images of them assembled floating around the internet, so the only indication of what the models were like came from the digital renders of them and the concept art.  I could understand how concept art, in order to inspire and excite, might have exaggerated action poses.  But were the Death Marshal models truly vaulting over and running along coffins that they themselves were carrying?  Certainly they would be toned down for gaming purposes?  This was simply my first experience of Wyrd disregarding standard conventions for the sake of an uncompromising vision, because I soon discovered that the models looked exactly like those crazy illustrations.

I am still amazed that they did not tone down the Death Marshal models; they look more impressive then the Masters themselves!

I cannot help but think of Trigun every time I look at these models, the broad shoulders, chains, long and skinny legs, surrounded by a flowing (red?!) jacket.

The Death Marshals were the first Malifaux models that I assembled.  At 32mm, I was surprised how small they really are, with fine chains, individual fingers, and tiny revolvers.  Heroic scale they are not, and therefore I was relieved to discover that they did not use Games Workshop’s plastic formulation.  Wyrd’s formula is considerably harder, preventing all of the fine parts from bending and breaking, which would be virtually guaranteed if they used a plastic like Games Workshops’.  This additional hardness doesn’t affect trimming off mold lines or assembly; it is still easy (and nothing like Mantic’s restic).  And while I like the flaming skulls on the Death Marshals, because they exude that otherworldly quality to them, I was pleased that they also included human faces as well.  Interestingly, one of the Marshals, the kneeling one, is considerably larger than the other two (which are roughly the size of Malifaux’s other models).  Wyrd has commented that it was intentional, but considering they had some scaling issues in the past, particularly with some of their ronin models, I am inclined to believe this was an oversight during the switch to computer-aided sculpting.  I suppose it is not too big an issue considering that the Marshals are spectral entities (I think so anyway, ha ha) and likely could take any form they wish, but it is still curious.

Most miniature games would have some problems with such dynamic designs, particularity those with true-line-of-sight, but Malifaux uses a simple Height statistic that eliminates any guesswork.

Although not as bizarre looking as the Death Marshals, but equally mysterious is the Judge (I cannot help but think about enigmatic and terrifying Judge Holden when I ever I read that name).  Tall and lean, with a heavy coat and thick gloves, his face hidden behind a bandana, thin goggles and a capotain, he is one unsettling looking individual.  He has quite a dynamic pose, legs braced, swinging his gunblade (long arm blade/pistol) in a slow arc to bring the pistol element to bare, his other hand fingers splayed.  The model itself was extremely easy to assemble, not even requiring any green stuff to fill seams.

The tall Puritan style hat really gives the Judge a witch hunter look, and his Final Repose ability preventing the placing of corpse marker of the models he kills fits that perfectly. 

The most recent addition to Malifaux’s line of Marshals, and one that I had been anxiously awaiting since the release of 2nd edition, is the Lone Marshal.  Of all the models that I have talked about, he probably has the least Malifaux “weirdness,” and looks as though he galloped off any Wild West film.  Yes, I did say gallop, the Lone Marshal is one of the few Malifaux models that is actually riding a horse.  No chains, excessive belts, or bladed revolvers, just a long leather coat, heavy gloves, and a cowboy hat.  To fit the part, he still hides his physiognomy behind a bandanna and round spectacles, however.  I found, one of the most striking aspects of the model is how small his carbine is.  Reminiscent to a Winchester lever-action, his rifle is actually well scaled (and not twice the size of him like some miniature companies tend towards) and he is even aiming it (a novel concept I know)!  He also has a Peacebringer (Malifaux’s Colt Single Action Army “peacemaker”) holstered and hanging off his saddle.  Although he came in a huge number of small parts, he was not very difficult to assemble.  Since the horse came in two halves, however, some greenstuff work was required to fill in the prominent seamline.  I finished the model by pinning it to a 50mm Dragonforge base.  I removed a rock beneath one of the horse’s rear feet, thinking it added to the overall sense of movement in the model.  Although I imagine it was added for extra stability, I did not think it was necessary due to the high durability of Malifaux plastic.

Is it just me, or is the left tail of his coat much longer then the other?  I might need to go back and shorten it...

Although not Marshals per say, the Guild has a rare unit of Riflemen who fit the same aesthetic, trenchcoats, knee high boots, ten-gallon hats, and bandanna-covered faces.  But as their name suggests, they are carrying long-rifles with impressive telescopic sights.  I particularly like one that is crouched, bracing his rifle on a sword he stuck in the ground.  They were actually one of the first Malifaux models in plastic, so they currently do not have cards printed with their 2nd edition rules.  They have been updated, however, and are available to download from Wyrd’s website.  I  can only imagine that means they will be in the upcoming Crossroads book, so I might have to get a set of them.  If I do, I will be sure to show them here.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to assembling Malifaux models.  I need to assemble as many as possible before Gencon this year, before a flood of new exciting models are unleashed...

- Eric Wier

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