Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Box Review: Masters of the Path Box Set

Greetings, fellow Malifaux fans!

   When LXG hit Malifaux, we did it hard. Almost everyone in the club has two or three factions going , and there's plenty more we want. I think it's because they hit our weak spot- we love awesome models. And they have plenty. So, I guess we'd better get started with some model and faction reviews, and you can bet there are bunches of battle reports coming your way! Let's get started with my first box, the Masters of the Path box set.

   When our club dove into Malifaux, we did so together. We all sat down in front of the big screen and browsed the starter boxes to pick our favorites. It was hard. There was a lot of nice stuff. Finally I settled on my very first starter box and, big surprise, it's a Resurrectionist box with some awesome undead. The Masters of the Path box set is Yan Lo's box. It has a slightly low point total for a starter box (just 24 points), but it's also one of the least expensive at $35. So that's 6 models at just under 6 bucks each, including their cards and bases. It's actually a dual faction box, so you could use it to determine whether you want to go Resurrectionist or Ten Thunders (although the Ashigaru are strictly Resurrectionist). And you CAN legitimately play a small 30 Soul Stone game with just this box, though you will be using some upgrade cards to do it.
   Before I get into individual models, I wanted to let you know my thought process while I was painting them. I like to choose my color scheme before I start my faction. I generally try to pick a color scheme that has three or four colors, in addition to a metallic. This allows me to maintain some uniformity among a large number of unique models, while still having room to treat each model a little differently. I also like to use a color scheme with a reason or meaning behind it, rather than just a raw aesthetic. It's kind of like adding a little fluff to your painting.
   For this, my Asian crew, I envisioned an overall Shinto aspect to their design. (My apologies in advance if my internet research led me astray on any of the following facts.) They are, in my mind, all kami (Shinto spirits), so I wanted to use some classic, related colors. Red is traditionally the color of gods, and used to ward off illness, and is apparently the most commonly used color in Shinto, so that had to go in there. Many pictures of kami feature brown and black, and nature is important in Shinto, so I added a couple brown tones and black accents. Yellow, in Japan, is a symbol of courage, which I thought had a rather ironic twist in a Resurrectionist army. And, of course, I chose gold as the metallic. By the way, the slightly faded quality to the colors is deliberate; in the world of Malifaux, I figured all virtues are perverted, so their colors should be also.

   So, onto the models. I will start with the master, just as you would if you were using Wyrd's crew creator (a fantabulous tool, btw, and also available in an app!) Yan Lo is a delightful little icon we've all seen before- that hunched over old master that can't even get around without his walking stick, but that you know you should be scared of. I respect that Malifaux does not need to make every leader look ornate or imposing. He's a hunched over old guy in robes- no, not elaborate robes flowing in the breeze, but basic monk's robes. There are a few layers of robes, so that you can play with colors a little, but he's mostly simple. As for assembly... have you heard about "Yan Los' beard", the symbol of Malifaux's obsession with making us run out of glue? It's true. Yan Lo's beard is a separate piece. Other than that, he's not too bad.
   Yan Lo's totem is a creepy little thing called the Soul Porter. It's a crouching, humanoid thing in a fur cloak, conical hat, and not much else. Oddly, this diminutive fellow is still height 2, probably because of that polearm that remarkably gives him a melee reach of 3 inches. You might want to paint him before gluing him down to his base, or you'll have a hard time painting the details on the inside of the crouched pose. And if you like object source lighting, those lamps on his weapon will make you grin. I'll admit, he wasn't our favorite model in the box, but after playing a game with him, the little guy is growing on me. He can actually be pretty useful out there, despite his meager 3 health. Insider tip: If someone engages Yan Lo in melee, and you don't want him there, use the Soul Porter to push Yan Lo away from his attacker- that way he won't incur disengaging strikes.

 Next is Chiaki, the Niece. As in, Yan Lo's niece. She's the one that brought him back. Gee, thanks, Chiaki. With a record like that, I'm not sure why she has powers like "Innocent" and "Purity." I guess necromancy is not frowned upon where they come from. "No, they don't 'raise undead', they 'resurrect ancestors.'" Riiight. Seriously, their cards work with "ancestor" magic. So, okay, that's why Chiaki is an elegant, beautiful lady in flowing garments. She doesn't even walk; she floats on this... swooshy energy thing. She's gorgeous. I had a little trouble sorting out form-fitted fabric from skin in a couple of places, but I guess it doesn't matter how you interpret it. By the way, that mask that's sitting on top her head is a separate piece, and can be placed anywhere or not used at all as you so choose. I opted to have it sitting on her head as it is on the box, painted in a natural skin tone, to suggest that she could blend in among normal mortals if she so chose.
   Some of you may be wondering where the light blue and orange came from. They are actually bridge colors to my intended Kirai force, a master that also fits in well with the Asian theme. I already have Datsue Ba, who is named and modeled after an actual Buddhist underworld river hag. I found pictures of her in white and light blue, so I used them when I painted her, and carried the blue over when I painted Chiaki, since they can be fielded together (if you are playing Resurrectionists). And the orange comes from something I saw online claiming that orange lilies were a symbol of revenge, so I intend to use them in my Kirai crew when I get there.

  Last but not least, we have the Ashigaru. These guys are the reason I chose this starter box.(Ironically, I think they are the reason most people avoid this box). They are breathtaking. The skeletons, armor, and banners are a magnificent conglomeration of details that make the many hours of assembling and painting them worthwhile. Additionally, they are AMAZING on the battlefield. For 5 points each, they really pack a wallop. They are hard to kill, which makes them great both for holding territory and going after objectives, because they CAN'T be killed in one shot. I can't tell you how many times I've already used that and their lunge to my advantage. Their lunge? Yeah, they have a way of doing a charge in one action instead of two, increasing their strike range, and really messing with Rasputina's tactic of slowing everybody (I'm glowering at Second Class Elitist).
   I know many people shy away from the Ashigaru because they are hard to assemble and paint. I'm here to tell you not to be afraid of them. Yeah, assembling them will likely cost you a pretty penny in the "No Cussing" jar. But they are so worth it. As for painting them, you don't have to go as detailed as I did. You could make the armor one solid color, the pants and banners another, and the skeleton a third, wash it, and the sculpts will still make them look awesome. But if you like painting, or really want to hit the table with masterpieces, here are a few things I did to make them special: paint those threads tying the armor bands together a contrasting color (those are the black dots you see in the armor skirts). While you're at it, finish the armor in a nice gloss coat, since it would historically be lacquered. And put something on the banners- I chose the kanji for eternal life- I hope it's legible!

   So there you have it. The Masters of the Path, the Yan Lo box set. Not a bad starter box for the gamer on a budget. The things you are most likely to have a problem with: assembling the Ashigaru and really maximizing some of the more indirect abilities on the list. Things you are going to love: the overall finished look of the box (escpecially if you love Asian themes), and the frustration in your opponent's face once you learn to utilize some of the finer skills and stategies these models allow.
 Wanna see them in action? Check out our battle report where these guys and their friends (to be reviewed later!) take on 2CE's pain in the butt Rasputina forces!


  1. You're just jealous because your Ten Ressurectionist Thunders aren't as cool as Rasputina. Cool, Rapsutina- it's a joke, son, you missed it! :-P

  2. Hey, thanks pulpcitizen!

    2CE- bite me.