Tabletop Review: Wyrd Chronicles, Issue #19 (Malifaux, Through the Breach)

Wyrd Chronicles, Issue #19
Publisher: Wyrd Miniatures
Cost: FREE
Page Count: 68
Release Date: 08/20/2015
Get it Here:

I’m extremely new to Malifaux. I’ve read through the Through the Breach RPG manuals and have even felt confident enough in the rules to review a Penny Dreadful adventure, but I’ve yet to play Malifaux. I have a few pieces, like the original Pigapult, three War Wabbits and Nicoderm, Avatar of Decay, but those were for painting, not for playing. However, with the upcoming release of the two player starter kit and a used copy of the 1.5 rulebook I found for five bucks at a used book store, I’ve decided to take the plunge. The same day that this issue of Wyrd Chronicles came out, a package from Wyrd arrived containing the Lucky Effigy and two Gremlins boxed sets – Explosive Solutions and The Bushwackers. I figured I might as well build a Gremlins team, since I already have four pieces for that crew. By the time this review goes live, I should also have a Colette boxed set (for the wife) and the Crossroads Seven (just to paint) arriving, so Wyrd has me set up for painting (if not playing) for a while. Hopefully I’ll get these done by the time my Starter Set finally arrives.

Anyway, let’s talk this issue of Wyrd Chronicles. Since GenCon and the decision to give Malfiaux a try, I’ve downloaded and read all previous eighteen issues of Wyrd Chronicles. It’s a fantastic free bi-monthly magazine where my only real complaint is that it is anything BUT newcomer friendly. There’s an assumption in each article that you know the rules inside and out and are a fanatic to the game, rather than interested in multiple miniatures games. I mean, I already play Batman, Robotech and Warhammer, so I always appreciate when something like White Dwarf goes out of its way to explain to readers rules, mechanics and the like. While Wyrd Chronicles left me more than a little cold in this respect, the size of each issue, plus the quality of the articles, more than makes up for my beginner based confusion. This latest issue, while not perfect, contains eight different articles guaranteed to entertain Wyrd Miniatures’ fanbase. The fact the magazine is free just makes things all the better.

The first article in this issue is “Why Won’t You Die?” It looks at strategies for dealing with extremely hard to kill pieces in Malifaux, but also points out that since miniatures games tend to focus on Victory Points instead of killing the other side, many times you don’t actually need to dispense your opponent’s night unkillable piece – you just need to avoid it or tie it up. It’s an excellent article that is a helpful read whether you’re a newcomer or veteran to Malifaux. In truth, the advice dispensed here can be applied to many miniatures games. Just switch out, say, Killjoy for Titan Bane or Ashes and Dust for The Green Knight. This article alone is worth picking the magazine up for, and since it is FREE, you have no excuse not to!

Next up is the first of two pieces of fiction. “High Stakes” is a story about a Gambler and a Doctor (actual a Resurrectionistn who is essentially a Necromancer for those of you unaware of Wyrd’s vernacular). The two have had a mutual agreement going on, but on the night before the deal expires, one of the two has a change of heart and decides to up the ante in more ways than one. “High Stakes” may be short, but the story is a lot of fun and can easily be understood, even if you’ve never touched a Wyrd product before. The characters are well written and the situation is one that could happen in any Victorian fantasy setting. This was another highlight of the magazine, and it’s impressive to see such a strong start to a periodical.

The third article is “Off the Rails,” which is a Story Encounter for Malifaux. Each player picks their parts and away you go. The attacker has the job of trying to lay down rails while the defender has to disrupt the railroad in one of four randomized ways. In many ways, it is like any skirmish game objective, but the randomization for the defender/saboteur gives this a little more unpredictability and life than others. After all, even if you pick a great team for one of the possibilities, you may get one of the other three.

“Playing with Fire” is article four, and in many ways it is similar to the “Paint Splatter” articles you see in White Dwarf, but with more depth. The writing is weak, with grammatical errors littering this piece (for the love of God man, use a comma once in a while!). Since the article is a whopping ten pages, I found myself wishing that the text better matched the pictures that were here and that the author was better at conveying their amazing technical prowess to people less experienced with painting/moding miniatures. It would have been nice to get pictures of each layer/step instead of just a picture of the finale of each section. Showing the slow progression on each part would have been far more helpful. That said, I loved the finished project and was impressed by the author’s work. I especially liked how he named each paint and its brand so that people could purchase those colors as well if they want to emulate similar effects. So what’s here is a great idea for an article, but the manner in which it is presented really needs to be retooled.

“The Whispering Affair” is a short adventure for Through the Breach, the tabletop RPG parallel to Malifaux. In this adventure, the PCs (Fated, as they are known in the game) are hired by a doctor to retrieve his missing daughter and her nurse, both of whom have been kidnapped. By who/what he has no idea, and so it is up to the Fated to discover who is behind the abduction. It’s a cute, quick little adventure that Through the Breach players will enjoy. I always prefer a good detective piece to a hack and slash dungeon crawl.

“Misaki Vs. Molly” is a battle report. For those unaware of the terminology, it’s a narrative recounting a miniature game’s battle. In this case, since this is Wyrd’s house engine, it’s two Malifaux teams. It’s a well written piece until the end, where the Victory Points shown at the beginning of the turn stop adding up correctly, and somehow one of the players goes from losing 6-3 to winning 9-8 without any explanation of how in the text. It looks like this could have used better editing to ensure the narrative matched the actual VOP tallies, but it was a fun read and a great look at how the game played out.

The last article in the piece is “Ram in the Thicket,” which is the second fiction piece in the collection. Unfortunately, it’s not very good, and thus the magazine ends on a very weak note (compare that to how strong the magazine started off). It’s a very dull piece about one character taking revenge on another, when really, the character that you think is the protagonist is a manipulated patsy for someone else… who is being manipulated by still another character. It’s an easily skippable tale, and you won’t miss out by ending the magazine early.

Although the articles are done by this point, the magazine is not. There is a two page preview of Nythera, the new world wide event for both Malifaux and Through The Breach, and then three pages of con photos. Yay. Overall, Wyrd Chronicles, Issue #19 was pretty good. The first two articles were fantastic, the two adventures were well done and there was only one article (the second fiction piece) that I outright didn’t care for. Sure, the painting guide and the battle report were flawed, but they were still fun. So overall, the magazine was well worth picking up and reading, especially for the low, low price of zilch. Perhaps the most negative thing that I can say about the issue is that it will be a long two months until Issue #20.



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