20 March 2011

Malifaux Rising Powers [Blog special]

Malifaux Rising Powers is one of the best expansions I’ve come across when it comes to adding good and meaningful content to a game, taking both boardgames and miniature wargames into account.

The book is thicker than the core rulebook and the main focus of the book is to add additional units and styles of gameplay. All 5 factions get a powerful boost in units, there is at least a couple of units that you will like no matter what faction you play. I see that the makers of Malifaux have tried to flesh out the themes of each faction even further, for instance the Resurrectionists who are the “undead” faction of the game receive a new orientation which includes ghosts and evil spirits – heavily influenced by Asian culture and folklore. This gives the faction both raised, zombie variations, frankensteins monster’esque creatures patched together from various pieces and ghosts/spirits.

The core types also receive a boost in units, additional units for all categories within each faction have been added. Many of the new units are in my opinion “advanced” in that they have more triggers, abilities, spells and action options – making them more complex and specialized, which can be a bit high end stuff for a newcomer. But not all of the new units are like this, there are a lot of “regular” caliber units that share the same amount of skills and abilities as the core rulebook units do. There are  variations on units from the core rulebook mixed between the factions. For instance, the Guild have “Guard dogs” which resemble the Resurrectionist “Canine Remains”, and the Resurrectionist have reanimated Guild Guard zombies.

As a Resurrectionist player I’m not overly hooked on the Asian horror stuff, but I like the additional characters, like the henchman “Molly Squidpiddge” that combines options from both Seamus and McMourning making her a versatile character. Henchmen were mentioned in the core rulebook in various schemes that you could pick for your faction – but they are fully explained and fleshed out in Rising Powers. A Henchman is a character with a tad more potent collection of skills and abilities, and special rules that make them more similar to masters than regular unique characters. You can also use a Henchman characters instead of a Master if you like – and if you do so then the Henchman character has zero Soul Stone cost much like the masters. Henchmen can unlock your ability to recruit units from specific classes from other factions, and may at the  same time limit you to just a handful of unit classes that can be purchased and make up your crew.

You will also notice the nice touch of the units in the book that has not yet been released are having drawn pictures of them – since most of the units at the time of the book printing were yet to be released. This will give you a good idea what they look like /will look like when a model is released. It also makes it easier to know what you might look for in case you are going down the “proxy/stand in model” route. The Core rulebook only had pictures of models that had been released and blank spaces in unit profiles with no models.  So this was one detail I liked a lot.

The new units make up the bulk of the book, but you also have quite a compilation of schemes, encounters, map profiles, terrain features and deployment zones which have been built upon the stuff from the core rulebook and likewise expanded. There are now 13 Encounters. So you get 1 encounter for each card value in your Fate deck. Players can now share the same encounter – this happens often enough in the core game when you draw an encounter – but in Rising Powers this has been amended in that a shared Encounter has a few tweaks to it to make it meaningful for both players to play that scenario. A shared Encounter differs slightly from the version where only one player plays that Encounter.
At the same time the schemes have been boosted as well – and the amount of schemes, and the diversity between them really makes the game. You will enjoy the game a lot more with the new and expanded list of schemes. As usual there are the general schemes, the faction related schemes - and added to it are now master specific schemes.
The deployment zones is another thing that has been tweaked are the deployment zones in corner and diagonal deployment. They have been expanded to make it easier and faster for players to get to the middle of the board. You will no longer spend 2-3 turns walking a slow master to the center of the table.

One other additional feature if you like to call it that, is the new layout of the book. No longer are the stories (which are superb) squeezed in between rules and important sections making it a headache to flip through the book when looking for a specific piece of rules. The stories have instead been grouped together and are divided evenly between each part of the rulebook – but not among the pages of the same section of the rules. I have a real problem with this aspect of the core rulebook, so I’m really happy they changed it in the expansion.

Also released at this time is a pocket version of the Malifaux rules – I have not bought that one yet. But in short, it is a complete collection of the Malifaux rules with all the FAQ and Errata added to it, meaning it is 100% up to date. It does not however contain any unit profiles from what I’ve heard. But – if you are interested in Malifaux, and get the original models in boxed sets or blisters you always get a unit profile card witch all the information about that unit you need. With the pocket version of the rules you get a completely playable game, and much cheaper if you don’t want to dive right in and buy the core Rulebook.

I highly recommend Rising Powers, it did surpass my expectations – and the content (both units and new stories) are solid and expand the universe greatly, making Malifaux one of the most interesting miniature wargame universes out there.

You can get the expansion from GameManiacs or directly from WyrdGames.

One more thing, check this link, every Malifaux player should really have it bookmarked. It contains a lot of game resources for Malifaux such as counters, Wyrd Chronicles etc.


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