Thursday, 13 February 2014

Wrong Impressions

It's funny how seeing a small part of something can you the wrong impression of the whole.

The thing that first attracted me to Malifaux was the slightly gothic, slightly cartoony concept art, combined with who well it had been translated to the first metal models. I still love those early designs. They put me in mind of some of Tim Burton's best work, think Edward Scissorhands or Sleep Hollow, or, perhaps more accurately, the Nightmare before Christmas or the Corpse Bride. It was a look that also snuck into the Series of Unfortunate Events. A kind of caricature of gothic turned up to 11.

Take a look at the early Rasputina, with top hat, stripy stockings and pure white skin. Or Nicodem, with his ridiculously high collar, super-sized top hat, dark glasses obliterating his eyes and Judge Dredd chin. It was a look I wanted to recreate as perfectly as possible in 3D when I painted the model.

Early Nicodem...

...and my early Nicodem model

This is pretty typical for me. I have bought games, warbands, gangs, whole armies on the strength of a single illustration or a model that appealed and for whom I had to find a home. It's a tendency I have tried to reign in in recent years as it has left me with more than a few attractive but unplayed games.

In the case of Malifaux, I am reaching the conclusion that the creators idea of the game world was quite different than the one I assembled in my head from the art work. The first clue came in the rule back, which laid out a background story far darker and grimmer than the slightly playful, dark humour I had expected. But it has become increasingly apparent with the release of Malifaux second edition and the redesigned plastic models.

Gone is Rasputina's hat and stockings in favour of what could only be called practical cold weather gear. While her spindly Ice Golem, has been replaced with a hulking brute, and the previously playful Ice Gamlins have become far more sinister This is a world that, for all its fantasy elements, is far more grounded in reality than the one I thought I was entering.

Not that there's anything inherently wrong with this approach, it just doesn't appeal to me in the same way. My Malifaux models are now lying somewhat neglected as a consequence. It all goes to show the danger of over committing to a game based on a partial understanding of what it's supposed to be.


  1. I agree with you; there was a cartoony playfulness in the original art that isn't there now. It reminds me of the path Games Workshop has taken in a way. Does everything have to be so serious?

  2. Interesting article. I too was attracted to the early models but lost interest when the game was so unlike my assumptions. Nt their fault, of course.

  3. I was just looking over Wyrd minis site last night, wondering if I should give Malifaux a shot...I love the look of a lot of the minis, and the fact that an 'army' consists of 4-8 minis makes it seem inexpensive to get started on. It's pretty sad if they are already getting boring. How do you rate the game itself?

  4. I only played first edition. Personally, I thought if had some very clever ideas, such as its use of cards a random mechanism instead of dice, but I found it over complicated and with too many key words and special rules for each model. Though I believe this has been scaled back in second edition.

    That said, none of what I wrote above should be construed as a criticism of the game. I don't think the new look is bad, it just isn't to my taste in the way the old look was. Similarly, my opinion on the rules is just that, my opinion and you shouldn't let it influence you too much if you like the look of the game