Monday, October 24, 2011

Puppet Mayhem!

Cute little minis that like to rip out their own stuffing? Yes, please. This is another game I was trying to avoid. Unfortunately, I managed to get my hands on a few of the miniatures and painted them up. Then I got my hands on some more ( including some of the LEs) and painted some more up. Then I just picked up the game because, well I had all the pieces everyone was looking for.
Snuggles here enjoys long walks on the beach and diet tab soda
Puppet wars is a game that takes place in the world of Malifaux. Specifically, the game takes place on the bayou workbench of one Zoraida. She is essentially the Baba Yaga of the Malifaux-verse. Basically, the voodoo puppets of other Malifaux characters come to life and wage a war against each other. Don’t worry though, some needle and thread will make it all better.

What you get

Opening a new game is a magical experience. The smell, the packaging the shinies. Well this box has all of that. This is another, of the ever increasingly popular, self contained miniature board games.

The game comes with 18 very nice metal, unpainted miniatures, a 12inch x 12 inch board (small but very acestically appealing), the stat cards for the puppets, 2 specialty puppet decks of cards ( they can double as simple poker decks), and plastic and cardboard counters. The miniatures included make for a perfect 2 player game since you get 2 master, 4 sidekicks and 10 pawns. To scale up to a 3 or 4 player game you need to get the master expansion pack.

On par with the rest of Wyrd’s products the puppet wars minis are the reason to buy this game. They are beautifully crafted and well thought out. Little buggers are downright adorable too. You will not find too many miniatures in this style or quality anywhere else. Honestly, they are just fun to paint too. They go quick and have all the detail you could want. Despite their small size you can do some pretty fun things with the puppets in this box.

How it is done

Normally I do this section myself. However a friend of mine on the Wyrd forums put together a very nice and comprehensive Youtube rules synopsis and I have been given permission to share the videos with you.

Part 1 

Part 2 

List Building

I really like using these videos to learn to play. Unfortunately, I found the rule book rather difficult to lean from. I have played a number of games and only now do really feel like I understand the intricacies of the rules. Thankfully rules queries are readily answered on the Wyrd forums allowing for easy access to any information you may need for the game.

A Few Other things

Wyrd has been doing some very interesting things with regards to releasing pieces for this game. Currently there are 4 “expansion packs” out. One is the masters pack, which contains some sidekicks, pawns and two master puppets. The others are simply assorted minis that can support any of the 5 suits available.

Also, even though the packs are not randomized there is still an element of collectibility in this game. There is a chase Teddie pawn that can be found once in every 10 booster packs. There are 5 different versions of this character too. Thankfully I managed to get my hands on a few through a shadowy benefactor.
I'm home alone?! AHHHHHHHH!
My Thoughts

My first few tries I did not especially enjoy this game. When you are swimming through a game’s rules and it does not flow quickly things can go downhill. Thankfully I did not give up on this. I found that the more games I played the more I enjoyed Puppet Wars.

Wyrd does a good job with their games in terms of rules evolution. There are always people trying to break good games so, the fellows at wyrd make sure their rules continue to evolve through a game’s life. The company even added a section specifically for this game on their forums.
 How does she swing that sword...?

One thing that I find tragic about this game is that it really requires each individual to have their own collection of miniatures. It is difficult for two people to open the box and simply start playing since there is only a certain number of miniatures available between the two of them. Thus for an ideal play situation there should be private pools of miniatures available for each player so they do not have to draft from the miniatures available.

This problem especially puts a crimp on doing a multiplayer game. The master expansion pack comes with an additional two masters. However, if you do not have supporting pieces from the other non-random “booster packs” some people can be at a serious disadvantage.
There are also a few figures that seem to be slightly off balance. Some are very powerful and some very week. Normally you could just say hey that’s how things go, but the differences are notable and sometimes they apply to the master puppets themselves. This causes for unfortunate disparities between the suits/factions. 

All in all I enjoy this game though. Wyrd has put out a lot of support for it and is very much behind it. Playing for fun this is a very enjoyable game. It is another ground breaker in the new realm of hobby-board games in the vein of Super Dungeon Explore, and Dread Fleet. This is certainly a genre that I have been enjoying and one that seems to be the next step in evolution from the miniature skirmish game.
Due to power gaming I think this game is one that should probably not see competitive play. However, in the casual arena it has quite a bit of potential. Between the miniatures, the compact nature of the game, and the downright fun of concept this is a game worth checking out, even if you end up drafting from your friends miniature collection.

Hope you guys enjoyed the eye candy. So until next time all you readers out in internet land, keep on sewing those buttons!

Steve ( puppet warlord)


  1. Heya,

    I've played a few games so far and really found it quite balanced. Every side seems to have counters for other sides tricks. What is it that you found off balanced?

    Btw, your puppets look awesome ;)

  2. Mostly it is just a few characters. Pokey Vick and the Hooded rider seem to be a little too powerful for their compatriots. Also, Pandora seems to lack the synergy other masters have with out of faction models. For instance usually I can use any other master pretty effectively but most of her special abilities rely on specific models that are not easy to get multiples of. For the most part pieces seem to be good though in terms of balance.

  3. Heh, I haven't played pandora yet but I think she looks awesome. An extra move for one of your puppets? This gets the Ronin up to move 4 allowing you to quickly get those far away work benches early on. The Silurid can leap for 5 move total with it as well. The other stuff looks allright as well. The reliance on woes seems not too bad. Remember she is a woe as well so she can always use those abilities on her self.

    I haven't checked up on Vicky and Hooded rider since I haven't got them over here in Sweden ;) But I look forward to trying them out later on.