Model Discussion

 It’s the SPRIGGAN!!

He’s the only warjack that jousts, and he’s incredibly versatile on the battlefield.

He haz shield.

 After taking this, I definitely feel that the edge highlights on the grey are too strong.  I’ll probably try to tone them down a bit before sealing the model.  I’m very happy with how the blends turned out though.

And haz stick

 This shot really shows off the metallics and the glow from the face.  Having used it a bit more now, I’m a huge fan of P3’s Brown Ink.  It’s what I use to shade the bronze.  The face glow is P3 Arcane Blue layered up to GW Skull White in about 4 layers.

Also, buttflap.

 The fire tidbits were Khador Red Highlight for the darkest part, then Heartfire, then Cygnus Yellow.  I[‘m not 100% sold on the fire tidbits up on the top part of the ‘jack, what do you think?

Also, this is the first Khador ‘jack with my scheme, what do you think of the Grey and Red?

A few weeks ago, I finally had a chance to play a pair of games of Malifaux with a local, Carl.  he showed me the ropes, and I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed the game!

Today, I’m going to compare / contrast it with Warmachine, as well as share the basics of the gameplay.  I’ll also be sharing my thoughts about the game afterwards.

Malifaux is set in a Dystopian/Western/weird type world, where gremlins, zombies, nightmares and gunslingers all fight over power.  I started playing as the Guild faction, which is essentially Malifaux’s self-sanctioned police force.  Each of the Guild starter boxes specializes in fighting off one of the other factions: Neverborn (demons), Arcanists (wizards), Resurectionists (undead), or Outcasts (Nazis, goblins, doppelgangers, etc).

Demon Robot hugs!

Each person’s army is called a “Crew”, and is made up of models worth “soul stones”.  Your crew’s “Master” (most powerful piece) is free, and you have to “hire” the rest of the crew out of the soul stone allotment for the game.  The game sizes are 15,25,35 and 50, like WM/H, with the most common being 25-35.  The games take about as long as their WM/H counterparts (or mine did since I was learning, they likely go faster when you know what you’re doing).

I started with the Sonnia Criid starter box, which is a 20ss crew, and I added a Guild Austringer for 5ss, to give me a $43 starting crew.  Not bad for buy in cost, really.  The models are a truer 30mm scale than WM/H “heroic” scale, and have just as much detail.  Wyrd is a model company first, game company second, so the models look fantastic.

Sonnia Criid's Avatar

The game is played on a 3×3 board, with loads of terrain.  Take your normal allotment for terrain for a WM/H game and triple or quadruple it.  Since the gun ranges are half to a third of the whole table, you need stuff to hide behind.  Each player puts down all their models, based off an initiative contest before the game, which also sets who goes first the first round.

Unlike WM/H, you activate one model, then your opponent activates a model.  You go back and forth, each activating one model until everyone’s activated their full crew.  So, having more models is nice, since you can move your weaker pieces early, forcing your opponent to move their more powerful ones before you have to.  This lets you react, as well as gang up a bit, since the rest of your models all go one after another.  The game is very, very similar to Spartan Games naval games, or Infinity in this regard.

The models also don’t have a facing, they can see 360 degrees, so really, the models are just placement tokens.  That’s a bit refreshing, since you don’t get penalized for putting down a model at the wrong angle.  It also emphasizes the need for terrain, since that’s the only way to block LOS.

Combat is completely different in Malifaux.  Attack still have a “to hit” and “to wound” section, but it’s all done with a deck of cards called the “Fate Deck”.  The deck has custom suits, and certain factions like certain suits more than others.  Often, getting a particular suit gives you a bonus of some kind (called “triggers”), and sometimes certain suits are requirements for a successful casting of a spell or ability.  Players also have a hand of 6 cards, with which they can “cheat fate” by replacing the drawn (“flipped”) cards with one from their hand.  (Hands get re-drawn after every round, so you don’t have to worry about keeping them the entire game)

Fate Deck Card Samples

Here’s how it works.  When I declare an attack, I flip the top card in my deck over.  That card’s value gets added to my model’s offensive stat (one for spells, one for melee, as well as raw stats sometimes in a dual, much like in D&D).  That’s my attack score.  The defending model then flips the top card in their deck, adds their appropriate defensive stat and gets their defensive score.  Whichever of us is lowest gets to “cheat first”.  You can replace the drawn card with one from you hard.  However, you only get one “cheat” so pick the right one.

Early in the game, you have to debate how much you want the ability to go off, versus late game – you may need to save your good cheat cards for later, so you have to let this early gambit fail.  You are also at the mercy of the cards.  If you can’t cheat the scores higher, you’re stuck.  Once the first person has cheated, the other player gets to cheat.  Once both have cheated, which ever score is higher wins.

If the attack hits, you flip damage cards.  Depending on how strongly you won the “hit” contest, you get bonuses or taxes (for lack of a batter word) to your damage “flip”.  Most of the time you’re at a “negative” flip, which means you draw X cards (depending on how negative the flip is) and you have to pick the lowest card for damage.  So, while you’re flipping more cards, all that does is increase your odds of flipping a low damage card.  Rather than being an additive system.  While it’s possible to be at a positive flip (flip X, pick your choice), it doesn’t happen very often.

My 25ss Crew

Every model has a number of wounds, so models are rarely a one-shot kill.  That combined with the constant “flip 3, pick lowest” means models tend to stick around for quite a few turns.  That’s nice because it makes the low model count of the crews work.  You almost never have “throw away” troops, and almost every faction as some way of making more.  For instance, my crew’s master has these tree little Witchling Stalkers, which are essentially cannon fodder.  They have a pistol, a sword, and they can make a little anti-magic bubble, which causes any spells cast inside a certain radius to suffer 1 negative to their casting flip.  My master has an offensive spell that when it kills, turns the dead models into one of these stalkers, at full health, and it can activate during that same turn.  Yes, I can also kill my own guys to do this, and that’s fun because the stalkers explode when they die.

In fact, I had an epic dual with one stalker and a pair of zombies.  Both zombies had been wounded by some AOE spells, and they ganged up on my Stalker.  It managed to kill one zombie, and when the other attacked my nearly dead stalker, I cheated it’s defensive score down, so I could guarantee it died.  When it did, it blew up, killing the zombie that had attacked it.  In essesnce, my 4 ss model helped take out two 6ss models, all with spectacular explosions.

Gotta have the Demotivational Poster...

The game really exercises different parts of your brain.  Since your plans don’t happen all during one turn, you have to play your opponent (the person) more, trying to bait their models into going where you want them, so you can have clear lines of fire, or so you can snatch an objective (I won’t even cover the game’s objective system which is quite extensive and very well thought-out).  Also, since your pool of influence on the randomness of the game is limited to your hand, you are almost playing poker, trying to figure out what your opponent can do, when they’re going to do it, and how you can try to get them to use their good cards early, so they don’t have them to defend against you later in the round.

I’ve really enjoyed my experiences so far, and I’ve even picked up another 7ss model, which will let me play in 35ss games.  Yes, that’s 3 ss short, but those spare points go into my Master’s ss pool, which I’ll talk about another time.

The game’s got plenty of depth, lots of interaction with your opponent, and because you’re constantly battling on one side of the combat or another, you’re always engaged and having a good time.

I think the last bits to be covered are glowy bits, and leather.  There’s no special techniques for these, just borrow from what’s already been covered.

Glowy Bits are painted just like hair.  The brush bristles are positioned 90 degrees to the direction of the raised bits, and is moved in the same direction as them.  As you lighten the colors, paint less and less.

Glowy Bits Brush Placement

For the glowy bits of the Lightning Coils, start with Arcane Blue.  Then keep adding pure white until you’re basically at pure white, and it’s just a dot on each coil.  I think I ended up using half a dozen “layers”, or steps.

For leather, use two-brush blending.  A basecoat of Bootstrap Leather was used.  Shading was Umbral Umber, and highlighting was Rucksack tan.  Simple ’nuff.

Oh, hey, metallics!  Meg shades both grey metals (silver, iron, etc) and yellow metals (gold, brass) with the same mixture.  She used Greycoat Grey with some Umbral Umber.  It both tarnishes and dirties the metal.  The main goal isn’t really to darken the metal so much as dull it, and take away the shine.  Metals were highlighted with an appropriate color of the same family (golds highlight bronzes, silvers highlight irons, etc).  As for a technique, just 2-brush blend it.

Here’s how my Nemo turned out:


 Here are a few more pictures:

As I mentioned earlier in the week, I had the awesome opportunity to learn from a master painter, Meg Maples.  Of the several things she covered, one was faces.

For the flesh color palette, she started with a basecoat of Midlund flesh, and then shaded with Khardic Flesh.  Her second shade was Khadric Flesh with some Sanguine Base added.  The highlighting was done by adding Morrow White or Menoth White Highlight to the basecoat’s Midlund Flesh.

Colors used for standard Cygnaran flesh

Obviously, you darken or lighten the shade depending on what sort of tone you want the flesh to have.  For a Mediterranean, olive toned flesh, you’d add Ordic Olive to the mixtures.  For lighter (female) flesh, kick everything up a level by basecoating with the Midlund Flesh / Morrow White mixture, and don’t shade with nearly as much Sanguine Base.

For black flesh, start with a basecoat of Battlefield Brown or Umbral Umber.  For shading, look to blues or purples, made from a mixture of Sanguine Base and Exile Blue.  For highlights, add a flesh tone to the brown basecoat to lighten it up.

Colors used for darker flesh

Meg painted the face using glazes.  These are essentially super thinned down paint.  I’m used to using mixing medium to make glazes, since it makes the paint translucent without loosing the consistency of paint.  Meg just mixed in lots of water on her wet palette, and then applied that directly to the model.

When I painted my Nemo’s face, I used my standard formula of basecoat, wash, highlight.  This was as much about speed as it was my complete lack of ability to make a glaze that worked.

The placement of the highlights and shadows is incredibly important for making a believable face.  The hollows of the cheeks, eye sockets, insides of the ears, bottom of the top lip and the bottom of the bottom lip are all places that should be in shadow.  The cheekbones, brow ridge, nose, top of the upper lip, top of the lower lip, and chin should all be highlighted.  The stronger the shadows, the more hollow the face will look.  The brighter the highlights, the healthier and younger the face will look.

When we covered hair, the technique Meg showed us was simple, but incredibly effective.  You use a wet brush, with not a lot of paint loaded.  The brush bristles should be 90 degrees to the direction of the hair, and then you essentially slide the side of the bristles along the raised strands.

Proper brush direction for hair

This allows the raised portions of the hair to be painted, without pulling any unnecessary paint out of the bristles, and accidentally filling in the valleys between the hair.  I hope that makes sense.  The brush bristles are perpendicular to the hair, but the motion of the brush is *with* the direction of the hair.

For Nemo’s hair, I based with Ironhull Grey, then I did my first level of highlighting with GW Codex Grey.  This was followed by a layer of GW Foundation Astronomicon Grey.  The last bit of the hair was pure GW Skull White.  Each layer on the hair moves further and further from the roots of the hair, highlighting the outermost strands.

One important thing Meg discussed with hair was the use of cool and warm colors.  Use a cool color for the basecoat, since it’s supposed to be in shadow.  Then, use warmer colors for the actual strands of hair, since they’re part of a living thing, and they are in the light.

Nemo's Closeup

The last interesting tidbit Meg shared with us had to do with facial hair (eyebrows and mustaches).  Hit each with the hair’s basecoat, but only highlight the mustache.  Eyebrows are almost always darker than head hair, and if you highlight it, it has a tenancy to get lost among the brighter flesh.  I disregarded this last bit, I couldn’t help highlighting Nemo’s bushy eyebrows.

Anyway, that’s faces and hair.  Next time, I’ll cover glowy bits and some basic Object Source Lighting (OSL).