Last night I was out at my normal gaming Tuesday night and had the opportunity to play a Malifaux Brawl. Whats a Malifaux Brawl you ask? Let me enlighten you!
So, a "typical" game of Malifaux consists of 1 master and typically between 25 and 35 soul stones for a crew. This typically results in between 5 and 7 models on the table for the game. Wyrd provides guidance for larger games which they have termed Brawls. The differences are as follows:
Before I list out my crew I will make a note. Both John and I initially bought our crews to ~40 points, leaving ourselves with a maximum sized soulstone pool remaining. Both of us then realized our mistake as we added in the Cache from 2 masters. This certainly changes the game, as even with my guild crew who start with mid to low soulstone cache's, I started with 6ss in my pool just from the cache. This meant that unless I purchased at least 44 stones worth of crew, I was losing out on soulstones. John was already at an 8 soulstone pool just from cache, so he needed to buy up at least 48 stones worth of crew. So here were our lists:
**As an aside here, I just put this chart together and did the calculation for our game last night while I was typing up this post. Clearly, and in very good humor, we can see why I lost so badly. While I am sure John did not realize he was over on his point, I will take a great deal of pleasure calling him a cheater in future games!
As you can see, this is a lot of models on the table. I made the choice to play with some of the more expensive models that I do not typically field together. John went in the opposite direction, throwing in a couple big beasties then bulking out his crew with cheaper models. For schemes, I chose Grudge (Silent One), Assasinate (Rasputina), and Bodyguard (Perdita). John chose Hold Out, Sabotage, and another one I am unsure of. With that, we setup on the board and went to town.
My set-up played into my strategy for the game. I deployed the Austinger and Nino in a building near the middle of the board and the rear of my deployment edge, with Nino on the roof and the Austringer hidden inside. Perdita, Judge, Sam, and one Death Marshal deployed to my left, with the options of moving up the center of the board (there was an open path there) or heading into a building near the center/left of the board. Lady J and 2 Marshals deployed to my right, well up toward the center of the board at the tip of my right hand deployment zone. The Peacekeeper deployed near the center of my deployment zone, just ahead of my wagon. I set-up so that the Wagons 6 inch movement would get it to the center of the board within 3 turns.
Over the turns of the game, Perdita and company moved into the building mid-field and to the left, bunkering down and preparing to rush out into an open area between the houses. It took 3 turns to get everything ready to open the door and rush out, which also game John time to fill the "courtyard" with ice pillars, giving me extra cover but also creating a turn of movement to get through the courtyard. The Marshal boxed Sam, then Perdita opened the door and obeyed him forward behind the ice pillars. The idea was to get the marshal around toward Tina and the Silent one (who had stuck together in Johns deployment zone, hiding behind a building) and then pop out Sam for some witch-hunting goodness. The Judge was backing them up on the way out. I figured this would work well, as even on the chance the Marshal was killed, then Sam would pop out early and get an extra round of shooting in. Unfortunately, while the plan worked, our time at the shop forced a quicker end to the game, ending us at the end of turn 5. Sam and the Marshal did a good job, but only the silent one was killed (with some damage flowing over onto Tina) before John rushed with Marcus and took shots with Hans to clear out the riff-raff.
Through the game, John was also able to get his molemen, Marcus, and the Jackalope into the center of my board, successfully taking down the peacekeeper and the wagon. John had some incredible flips against my wagon, flipping 3 severe damages in a row to take it out in one turn.
I really enjoyed our game, which is something that typically happens when John and I play. From a timing perspective, John and I are fairly slow players when playing against each other. I believe we are fairly evenly matched from a skill standpoint, which contributes to our hobby games taking up a fair amount of time with each of us analyzing our moves and studying the board. We have not played a competitive game, so I am not sure how much quicker those would be. Even with our slower pace, this game still took ~3.5 hours to complete 5 turns. I believe the size of the board (will address this next) contributed to this along with our slower pace. I do feel that a Brawl is going to be an afternoon affair, similar to putting together a 40K Apocalypse game.
Board size is something else that is a consideration. The first Malifaux rulebook recommended a 4x4 table for Brawls. Rising Powers changes that to a 3x3 table, which I think is the right size. Even with the larger number of models on the table, I believe a 3x3 table provides enough room to maneuver, while still creating the opportunities for engagement with the opposing crew early in the game. It took a solid 2 turns for John and I to position our crews from our deployment spaces before we could begin engaging each other. A smaller board would have opened up this opportunity earlier, allowing for a more engaging game. In the future, I will certainly stick to the smaller board.
While I would like to keep a comparison of Brawls with 40K apocalypse, I do not feel that is the best way to look at it. 40K Apocalypse is all about the spectacle, with titans and super-heavies deployed on the board. The Malifaux brawl was fun, but there is not the same level of Spectacle in the game. It is more of an increase in tactical gaming, adding in additional options to a normal game. In our game, John and I both used similar tactics, effectively running 2 separate crews on the same board. These overlapped nicely, but were still operating fairly independently. Another option would have been to run as one large crew with all the hitting power of two masters. In Malifaux, its more about the tactics and balancing how to achieve 4 different game objectives while keeping your opponent from achieving theirs.
At the end of the day, I would be up for another Brawl. I would try and block out a larger amount of time, possibly an afternoon to play.