Saturday, September 28, 2013

The continuing adventures of J P Nussbaum 6

The fact that I received another letter from J.P. Nussbaum is probably a given at this point. What I did get that’s new, is an e-mail. Apparently, my plea for confirmation was met with a link to a police report. It arrived on the same day as the registered letter.

I’ll have to do this from memory and I will explain why later on. In the town of Mestre, a dozen me were found beaten to death in an alley. The men in question were found with several cases of firearms. Each of the victims has links to organized crime and were suspected in several area crimes. An inventory of the weapons revealed that it looked like a few guns had gone missing from their places. Finally, there were no witnesses.
After I read the police report, I book marked it in my favorites. When I came back to it I discovered the bookmark gone and the e-mail was missing. Also my computers cookies had been deleted. I’m not sure how any of this happened, but I have only my word to prove what I have seen. I wish I had more.

To the mysterious person who is obviously reading these posts, I would love to talk to you and figure out why me. I have so many questions. Please contact me again.

Anyway, here’s this weeks letter.

Dearest Mother,

I sadly report on our utter failure to rescue Maria Cavallaro from the mountain stronghold of the Klaus Schuler. Christina and I had decided on an approach from the south, it was less steep and offered more cover from the house in the form of large rock outcroppings. There had been some debate on a different approach but with my disease it was decide they would be impossible. It is times like this I damn my bad legs and the effect they’ve had on my life.

We outfitted ourselves with weapons from the cases we had commandeered in the alley. I took a Walther. I know they’re not particularly favorable by the various family members, but it is the weapon father taught me to shoot with. They have always had a special place in my heart despite any shortcomings my siblings may feel they have.

Christina took a pair of Glock’s and an automatic rifle. She also had some body armor for both of us. She took a few grenades designed to make a lot of noise and stun the occupants of a room. Her last piece of gear was a series of small blades suitable for throwing or quietly dispatching a man from behind. I suppose it shouldn’t be a surprise how well she equipped herself after she spent that time working with the Russian Spetsnaz.

Going in just before sunrise, we moved slowly and deliberately across the landscape. We made it to the house without raising an alarm. Lifting ourselves onto a back porch, Christina used her tools to quickly pick the lock. We entered and moved slowly through the house. We took each room slowly, covering one another to make sure nothing happened. It took the better part of an hour to completely search the house.

There was no one there. They had fled before we arrived. We searched the residence and found the computers scrubbed and formatted. There were no notes, no travel plans. It was a dead end.

Christina decided to take one of the laptops to have one of her contacts check it and see just how well they cleaned it. Hopefully we will get some indication of where to go next.

We will be meeting the team next week. We’ve arrived at the time of our first scheduled meeting. Hopefully, they will have good news.

As always, my love.
Your youngest son
J. P. Nussbaum

Let me know what you think, I'm always interested in the opinions of the reader, good or bad. You can either leave a comment below or on facebook. You can also follow me on twitter

Friday, September 20, 2013

The continuing adventures of J P Nussbaum 5

I received a new letter from J.P. and I’m not certain why they keep coming. Some of you may remember that I was going to ask my friend Keith to help me do some research on the Nussbaum family when he returned home. Well he just got back a few days ago and was happy to take part. He came over last night and gathered the letters and what little research I’d been able to accomplish. He said we was looking forward to the challenge, Keith is an armature genealogist and he thought this would be a chance to really use his skills. I’m hoping to hear from him after the weekend, but he said it depends on how much information he has.

Mike was reinstated to his old job he said it seems odd now. There are a few inconsistencies. We’re probably both being paranoid but Mike said his new supervisor doesn’t seem to know anything about how the Post Office actually works. He also seems to be spending a lot of time in places where Mike is. In fact his supervisor hasn’t really done any actual work this week except to shadow Mike.

He’s also a little worried about a white plumbing van parked outside a house on his block. The house has been going through foreclosure for the last eight months and it’s possible the bank is having someone go in to fix it up for sale but that seems unlikely for a bank. Then again neither of us are experts on foreclosure so maybe this is normal. Like I said we’re both pretty sure he’s worried about nothing but just to be safe he said he’s taken measures to ensure no one is watching him.

As for me, this letter is beginning to take up a bizarre amount of my focus. I’m starting back to school and I’m finding it hard to concentrate on my lessons. Since I’m going into my final semester and want to really knock my senior project out of the park I’m going to maybe put these letters on the back burner for a while.

On the bright side there’s a student new to the school who has asked for my help with a writing project with another class. We’re both taking Starting Your Novel together and he’s asked for my input on a few ideas he’s had. If it takes my mind off this I may just pitch in and help John. I’ve been wanting to get into a writing group for a while.

Anyway, once again I post the most recent letter in hopes of finding someone who may have a kernel of information for me from the written description below. I’d love some sort of conformation of the events in these letters. I just want something to put my mind at risk. I may just stop doing this if it keeps up like this.

*  *  *

Dearest Mother,

With any hope you are still receiving my correspondence. As you may recall after my last letter I was leaving for the town of Padua on the trail of the mysterious Schuler and Maria, Doctor Cavallaro’s daughter. We managed to stop at an internet café and check in with our various contacts in hope that anyone had identified Schuler from the photo of him we gotten.

While mine and Lucia contacts had not yet returned our messages, Christina’s has given us all the information we wanted. I suppose it could be worse; It seems Schuler is actually Klaus “The Hurricane” Schuler, a mercenary of some dubious reputation. He is trained in several martial arts, a wide array of weapons, and various grades of explosive. He is wanted in sixteen European and African Countries for a wide range of charges. He appears to have committed every crime from armed mayhem to mass murder. He is, by all accounts, a vicious and ruthless thug with no conscience. He received his nickname “the Hurricane” from his tendency to destroy everything in his path when he takes a job.

The fact that he is using an unheard of level of discretion with regards to Maria is to some extent worrying. It suggests that he is working for someone who scares him or is paying him sufficiently to restrain him; in either case it is cause for concern. Lucia was able to reach out discreetly to some of her law enforcement fellows and give us a few known locations on Schuler. He has some homes in the area, most notable among those is a cliff side home in Mestre.

We discussed it at length and decided that before we head to Mestre we needed to arm ourselves. Using some of the local criminal element Christina was able to locate a back ally weapons profiteer. He agreed to meet with us on short notice, but explained there would be a service charge for the rush.

We arrived in the middle of the night, as requested, and found ourselves immediately set upon by armed men and thugs. We discovered our error when one of these men, I believe their leader, began to speak to us of our plans. He was a tall man with a vicious scar down one side of his face that passed under a patch he wore over one eye. His questions were punctuated by brutal assaults to our person.

When it became clear we wouldn’t talk he turned violent. His last remark before the fighting started was to give us Schuler’s regards. Then he brandished a taser and jabbed it into Lucia’s back. As she one of his thugs caught her and tossed her over his shoulder. As the two ran for the exit he instructed his men to open fire. They complied with equal amounts of determination and joy. If these things equaled accuracy then I believe Christine and I would have died there.

Fortunately we were able to get behind cover, ducking  behind some crates that were set up in the ally with us. Christina was ready for action and when they paused to reload she hurtled the crates and cleared the distance in a matter of seconds. Using her skills she picked up those two years she worked as a professional wrestler in the States, she leapt up and grabbed the first man she came to around the neck and shoulders. She used him as a pivot to hurl herself into the gunman behind him dragging both men to the ground with her. As one of the thugs finished reloading she rolled to standing and pushed up off a nearby stoop and hurled herself the few yards to the new opponent. She managed to spin her whole body in mid air and kick the man in the chest launching him backwards into two other men.

I, spotting a man behind her readying a weapon, managed to get to grips with him using my cane as a makeshift rapier. I was glad to put into use those years of fencing lessons you had always opposed. I batted the gun from his hands and stood poised for his attack. He pulled a knife from his belt and began to move against me. I parried every strike with a deft twist of my wrist and then was able to riposte to a solid strike to the shoulder or face. It came at me again and again until I finally wore down his defenses and forced him towards a small stair leading to some poor bastards basement. With one final strike I lured his foot work off balance and watched as he fell over down the stairs.

During the altercation I could see Christina as she moved from opponent to opponent. She was a masterful mix of brutality, precision, and showmanship as she vaulted from one man to the next. One moment she was leaping through the air holding a man over her shoulder as a human shield. Then in the next she was hauling a gunman up over her shoulder before dropping to her knees to slam his head into the cobblestone street. When she leapt up and wrapped her knees around one mans head then used her own momentum to swing him off balance and slam him onto his back with a sickening crack, I swear she giggled.

Once we had both finished our opponents off we started gathering weapons and ammunition from the men assembled. We are prepared for an excursion into Schuler’s home in Mestre. There was some discussion of whether we should try and find Lucia. Christina’s argument won out, she feels Lucia may be in Schuler’s company as since these men clearly work for him. Tomorrow we head for his home in an attempt to rescue Maria and Lucia. Christina is hoping we will be able to reach the rest of the team, but is afraid we may not. Still, at least now we are armed.

As always, my love.
Your youngest son
J. P. Nussbaum

Let me know what you think, I'm always interested in the opinions of the reader, good or bad. You can either leave a comment below or on facebook. You can also follow me on twitter

Friday, September 13, 2013

The continuing adventures of J P Nussbaum 4

And yet they keep on coming. I have received yet another letter from J.P. Nussbaum. I’m still uncertain why I was chosen to receive these. Mostly at this stage I’m becoming confused by the events surrounding my life and these letters. A recent series of events has taken my focus away from my quest to copy the family crest on the letterhead. Certainly, I would still love to have a copy of to show you.

Many of you may remember that my friend Mike has been helping me learn more about the letterhead. Last week, after I tried unsuccessfully to mail one of the letters to my friend Mia in Chicago, Mike and I started looking into what could cause a postal reroute. Mike decided to take the envelope which had a message to me emblazoned across it with him to work. After talking with his supervisor and showing her envelope she burrowed it and told him she would look into it.

We were both quite happy with this turn of events and hoped to learn more after she had a chance to investigate further. Everything was going along smoothly until Wednesday. That was when Mike arrived for work to learn his supervisor had been reassigned and Mike had been suspended. He has thus far been given no reason for it other than a question of mishandled mail.

Since then we have been spending more time researching the mysterious J.P. Nussbaum. I haven’t given up posting the letterhead, but for now I need to know who this man is. Our research started in the same place as all research, Google. Currently, the internet is failing me. Most of the Nussbaum’s I’ve found are young men living in the U.S. and I’m fairly certain J.P. is British; I’m not sure why I think this, I‘ve poured over the letters and thus far have found no real evidence to support the claim. There are pieces of his speech, ways of writing that trigger a very British feel in me.

To this end the only Brit we’ve found is a James Patrick Nussbaum who served the Royal Family prior to the Revolutionary War. There is precious little information on the man, he seems to have been some sort of messenger. Anything we find on his is sketchy at best.

Mike suggested I talk to his brother Keith, whose a bit of a research fiend. This sadly will have to wait until next week when he comes home. He’s apparently at a convention in Atlanta. I’ve left Keith a voicemail and hope he get’s back with me soon.

As with last week, I leave you with the letter sent me by J.P. Nussbaum. Hopefully, someone will recognize something and help fill in the missing information.

Dearest Mother,

I hope this letter reaches you with due haste. Do to recent events I have been forced to send this correspondence through a surrogate. Now that we are wanted by the authorities we’ve had to become very careful. We’ve changed cars a number of times, I won’t say what vehicle we are driving now incase this letter is intercepted by the authorities.

We’ve been traveling mostly at night and while staying in small inns and cottages by day. There was some discussion of staying in the youth hostels we were investigating but we decided against it. The fear that we might be recognized if we spent to long in such a public space was a genuine concern. Additionally, if one of the other teams were compromised it would be easier to discover us.

Currently we are unreachable as we destroyed of our phones and purchased disposable ones from a local petrol station. As a warning I should mention that Christina and I withdrew the traditional amount from the family emergency fund before fleeing the city. I believe we are currently ahead of the game, but this is without knowing our opponent, the pieces or even the board.

For the most part our journey has been uneventful, many of the places we’ve visited haven’t heard of Maria or the as yet unknown Schuler. Two nights ago we did have a lucky break. We found someone with a picture of the two of them. He was an Australian who had decided to hitchhike across Europe, a jovial man named Rhys.

Rhys had met Maria and Schuler a little over a month ago and the three had traveled together for a bit. He thought everything had been going well until one day he woke up and they’d left without saying a word. He had assumed the couple had wanted to be alone and thought nothing further of it until he met us.

During our interview, Lucia noticed that Rhys had several cameras and asked if he had any photos of the couple. He said he had and began cycling through photos of his journey thus far. It took him quite a long time to find one that showed Schuler’s face. There were several photo’s of the Rhys and Maria, but very few had Schuler in them. The he did appear in Schuler’s face was blocked by a drinking glass, someone’s shoulder, or Schuler making a peace sign to the camera.

However, there was one picture that Rhys had taken the night before they disappeared. It was a long distance shot of Schuler and Maria sitting under a tree with the sun setting majestically in the background. It seems Rhys had just received a new lens attachment for his cameras that would allow him to take clear photos in bright, direct light and he wanted to test it.

When asked, Rhys couldn’t remember Schuler’s first name. As far as Rhys could remember he had always been simply Schuler. We feel this and the lack of facial photos may mean a sinister motive on the part of Mr. Schuler. Of course, this could just be over caution and paranoia on our parts.

Each of us has sent a copy of the photo for facial recognition. I to our family contact in London, Christina to an old friend from Canada, and Lucia to one of her team. Hopefully this will net us results an we will soon have the good Mr. Schuler‘s name.

We did learn that Schuler and Maria spoke of Padau with Rhys before disappearing. He chose not to follow them feeling he didn’t want to seem like he was intruding, but it has given us our next destination.
Hopefully, my letter leaves you with a bit more confidence than you started with. I hope to write you again soon.

As always, my love.
Your youngest son
J. P. Nussbaum

Let em know what you think, I'm always interested in the opinions of the reader, good or bad. You can either leave a comment below or on facebook. You can also follow me on twitter

Friday, September 6, 2013

The continuing adventures of J P Nussbaum 3

I got another one. I keep receiving these letters and I’m not sure what to do with them. The most perplexing thing about this is the level to which my efforts to copy one of them is being thwarted. It started as the simple desire to show off this particularly interesting insignia and has now turned in to a Herculean level task.

Since every level of electronic reproduction has failed I decided to send the first letter to my artist friend Mia in Chicago. She’s an amazing artist and I felt a little weird asking her to replicate a family crest but I had no other choice. Since she’d been following my blog she was aware of the problems I’ve had copying it. She had become intrigued at the appearance of the crest and agreed to redraw it for no other reason than to get a look at the image.

Happy with the outcome of the conversation, I folded the letter and mailed it to Chicago. Three days later the letter returned across the front of the envelope in red type two inches tall were the words, “YOUR EYES ONLY.” The more this continues the weirder it gets.

I talked to a friend of mine named Mike who works for the Post Office and showed him the envelope. He said they have machines that will print things on envelopes in the font used but to his knowledge this isn’t one of the limited things they are capable of printing. We talked about it for a while and many theories were bandied about: hackers, government agency, illuminati; we went pretty out there. In the end Mike took the envelope and decide to ask his supervisor about it. He called me a few minutes ago to say his supervisor was just as stumped as he was and that she’d look into it.

That’s where I’m at. I’m posting the newest letter because I’m hoping someone will notice something about them or recognize some landmark. This one should be fairly easy to come across, there is an event described that should have at least made the news in Italy. So, if anyone sees something they recognize, please let me know.

Dearest Mother,

I regret to inform you of a series of troubling developments since my last letter. As you may recall I had been attacked by four men outside my rental cottage. At the time I believed it to be muggers, some locals out to grab a bit of quick cash from the wealthy tourist. I fear I was wrong. The next morning when we sojourned to the hospital to interrogate the three that we had captured we came upon a police investigation.

In the middle of the night someone had entered the hospital and executed all of the men. Quite professionally to, each man had been shot three times the first two bullets were fired into the chest and the final blow was delivered to the head. I believe the term is execution style.

No one is certain how the killer entered the rooms as there were police officers posted in the corridor the entire night. Lucia is worried that one of them may have been bribed, apparently there is some small problem with corruption in this area. Her team asked some questions and gathered evidence for nearly seven hours.
While they were occupied the rest of the team continued talking to Doctor Cavallaro’s associates. During this time we met a few of his personal acquaintances and peers at the institute. The most interesting conversation Christina and I had was with a young woman named Rosa. I will attempt to recreate the conversation from memory to help give the full effect of the meeting.

Rosa, “I’m not certain I can help.”

Christina, “Anything you remember could be helpful. How do you know Doctor Cavallaro?”

Rosa, “Essentially, I’m a fact checker. Most of the profs here give me papers to go through and double check their findings against the ISDB.”

Me, “I’m sorry, what is the ISDB?”

Rosa, “International Scientific Data Base. It’s an online resource where various colleges and research institutions collect and share their papers and studies. It was set up a few years ago to help people check their work against someone else’s. This way they can see if anything they’re working on is redoing existing work or following a parallel line of study.”

Me, “Interesting.”

Rosa, “Not really, but thank you.”

Christina, “So, you did this research for Doctor Cavallaro?”

Rosa, “He was one of the profs I worked with.”

Me, “How many do you help?”

Rosa, “I’m currently only assigned to four, but it’s been up to nine a couple of times.”

Christina, “Do you have any idea what Doctor Cavallaro was working on?”

Rosa, “I don’t know what his specific project was, only what he had me checking up on.” At this point she took out a laptop and began checking her notes. “Lets see, there was a lot of stuff on algae, but that was about six months ago. There was some work on the effects of potassium on the human body. In the last month or I got several requests about metabolism. Then there are three or four requests about fuel cells.”

Christina, “Fuel cells, seems a bit odd for a Biochemist.”

Rosa, “Honestly, it happens a lot. They’ll hit on an idea about how one thing might effect another and then run with it. I had a nuclear based study ask to check into the effects of peanut butter on the human digestive system.”

Christina, “so you don’t know what he was specifically working on?”

Rosa, “no sorry.”

Christina, “Did he ever mention anything in passing to you about something that was bothering him?”

Rosa, “I’ve never met him. All of our correspondence was done by email.”

Christina, “You never met. Not even once?”

Rosa, “Not that I can think of, though to be honest I couldn’t even tell you what he looked like. So, I suppose it’s possible we met at a mixer or fund raiser and just didn’t realize.”

At this point we showed her the Doctor’s photo, she indicated she didn’t recognize him and we thanked her for her time. We left her our contact information, and bid her good day.

I’ll be honest I’m not sure why this particular conversation stuck out in my mind. I’ve been thinking on it the last few days and Don’t have a valid reason for my continued unease. I’ve mentioned my concerns to Lucia and she asked me for my opinion on what we spoke on. After seeing my notes she offered to look into it if I wanted her to but she didn’t see anything that jumped off the page at her.

After a few more days on interviews we were beginning to run out of people to talk with. At this point we’d spoken to local business, grocer‘s, and his neighbors. We’d even spoken to the men that collected the trash. Lucia was hitting a dead end on the investigation into who had killed those three men, and Giorgio’s men who are searching for Maria and Schuler have stopped contacting us.

Mother, I’m quickly editing in the end of this letter as time is rushed. Please excuse my use of some phrases as I needed to change the end before mailing it to you.

Earlier today we were contacted by Rosa, she wished to meet with us. We were to go to a café near the institute and find her there. It was a lovely place. From a distance it had a rustic charm, there were tables set out on the sidewalk to form a communal area where one could bask in the sun and enjoy their drink. This was made even more appealing by the view of the large square and it’s massive fountain. Every table had a lovely floral cloth draped over it and a small pot with two or three flowers that were the same colors as the covering. I heard music coming from inside, a lone voice raised in beautiful alto was joined by two or three stringed instruments. As Christina, Giorgio, and myself approached the café, Rosa saw us and gave a pleasant wave. I matched her gesture and we approached.

As we crossed the square a black sedan pulled around the corner. One of the back windows slid down and I felt Giorgio shoving me to the ground. I looked up to see a long barrel protruding from the rear window and the sound of gunfire destroyed the beauty of the scene. Rosa and the other patrons were shredded by bullets in a matter of seconds. Giorgio had drawn his weapon and was opening fire, I could make out flashes of light as the bullets deflected off the hood and windshield of the sedan. Small black orb lobbed out the window and bounced along the cobblestones toward the center of the café’s sidewalk tables. The grenade went off, hurling tables and bodies in every direction.

Screams filled the air as panicked people all around us took off in different direction trying to escape. Still there were those valiant few who ran into the explosion to look for survivors.

The sedan started to pull away and Giorgio hauled me to my feet dragging me back towards Franco and the car. Franco had already been moving driving towards us powering open the doors. We piled in, all of us except Christina. When the Sedan pulled away she began running after it.

The sedan turned down an alley and I saw as Christina jumped up grabbed a nearby fence and hauled herself up onto a small stone wall. She then ran down the wall and leapt across to the roof of a nearby shop. As the sedan vanished from view we saw her running across the roof and leaping to another building. I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised, she did spend almost a year running parkour in Paris.

Franco drove off after the sedan. Their driver was good, ours was amazing, Franco matched their speed, and kept a close tail on the men in the other car as they raced down closed alleys, tore across open lots, or shot down the wrong side of the street. All the while we would occasionally see Christina as she would pop up on top of buildings either leaping from one to another or when she would get a chance to stop moving and fire a few shots into the sedan itself. When he could, Giorgio would lean out the window of our vehicle and fire on the sedan.

We eventually hit an open section where Franco could get next to the sedan. As our cars bounced off one another he slid forward just a bit then suddenly braked, timing it so that when they tried to swerve into us he was now near the rear of their car. He took advantage of the move to plow into their rear quarter panel spinning their vehicle sideways.

He accelerated into the sedan now fully pressed up against the side of the car he drove them forward. The driver side widows explode as the men inside began shooting wildly at our car. Franco ducked down and lost control of our car. Everything started to spin and I could feel us rising up in a series of rocky jerks, as if we were running over a series of speed bumps.

Suddenly, the car stopped. Giorgio leapt out gun drawn ready to take some sort of appropriately violent action. After a second I registered Christina’s presence, she was dragging Franco out of the front seat where he had been knocked unconscious. I felt Giorgio’s hands grasp my collar and haul me from the car. Then I was being carried away. The explosion happened a few seconds later and the force of it knocked all of us to the ground.

I woke up maybe twenty minutes ago in the hospital. I was informed by Lucia as she grabbed my clothes and hurried me out the back of the building that we are all to be arrested. We were being charged for the murders of Rosa, Doctor Cavallaro, seven other people who died in the café, and two John Doe’s fitting the description of Giorgio‘s men we‘d sent after Maria. The car we had been following was full of police officers who, according to the official report, were trying to stop us before we ran them into a statue of the pope, destroying it and their car in an explosion.

Lucia’s team were recalled by Italian intelligence, and she was told to remain here to act as a witness and facilitate our capture. She came and informed us of what was happening before they left. We are leaving the city., Christina thinks it’s for the best. We’ve decided to see if we can find out what happened to Giorgio’s men and what became of Maria and Schuler.

We’re dividing into three teams, Franco and Antonio are one team, Giorgio will be heading out with a man from his security team named Cutter. I will be traveling with Christina and Lucia. We all have a portion of the list and are hoping to discover what happened to Giorgio’s men and Doctor Cavallaro’s daughter.

I’m sorry to give you such bad news in this fashion. I’m safe, I suffered little real damage from the explosion and will be fine. I will attempt to keep writing every week but am uncertain when or if I will be able to do so.

As always, my love.
Your youngest son
J. P. Nussbaum

Let me know what you think, I'm always interested in the opinions of the reader. You can either leave a comment below or on facebook. You can also follow me on twitter

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Malifaux 2.0 review

Malifaux 2.0

I’ve gotten a few games of Malifaux 2.0 under my belt, mostly as Guild with a little Ressers, and I wanted to talk about it. First, for those of you who don’t know what Malifaux is, this is how I describe it to people. “It’s a tabletop miniatures game set in the late 1800’s it’s a Victorian, western, steam-punk, Lovecraftian, Wushu, fantasy, horror, and it’s amazing.”

Somewhere around the turn of the last century a portal opened to a parallel reality for the second time. Humanity went forth and conquered as we are want to do, and as usual the locals were less than enthusiastic about it. Several factions popped up and now everyone is vying for control through everything from open warfare, subterfuge, and propaganda. All of this to control the land and the flow of soulstones, a mystical rock found in Malifaux that when shipped back to Earthside allows magic to function.

You may note that I am glossing over whole sections of back-story often called fluff as it has little to nothing to do with the game itself. I’m doing this on purpose because the story here is amazing. Every new rulebook that is released I sit down as soon as I’m able and start reading the story right away. I’ve never been certain whether I get more excited about the story or the new characters.

I also would like to point out that I have not been calling it fluff. The reason for this is I feel the story in Malifaux is just as important to the game as the range of the Judge’s charge. Where some games use the story to reinforce the lay style and have been known to change it to suit their newest codex Wyrd uses it to show growth and a continuing evolution of the characters that exist in this world. To me, they feel like natural extensions of one another.

As for the game itself, I will try to avoid the comparisons between 1.5 and 2.0 because they’ve been done to death. I’m going to try and simply give my opinion of 2.0 however; I admit there will probably be some mention of 1.5.

2.0 is smooth, fluid, and simple. The rules are easy to learn with few things that trip up the reader, as a veteran player I was already well versed in the mechanics. I’m not certain how a new player will find the rules, but I feel they are presented in such a way that it’s easy to find your footing quickly. The card based mechanism used for playing the game is elegant and allows for players to adjust their luck through a “cheating” mechanism built into the game where every player draws a hand of cards they can use to replace the random card flips in most instances.

Your forces, called crews, are chosen from one of seven factions, each with a different feel. You have Guild, a western feeling set of lawmen, guards, and demon & witch hunters. Resurrectionists who are the resident necromancer featuring every thing from a Dr. Frankenstein like madman to a traditional zombie master. Neverborn, the original denizens of Malifaux, are demons, myths, and voodoo swamp hags. Arcinists are outlaw magic users of Malifaux, with everything from a beast master to a master with mechanical spiders. The Outcasts are the mercenaries and thugs of the world that include sword wielding “sisters” and their all female band of ronin. The Ten Thunders are a collection of Asian inspired samurai, ninjas, and infiltrators. Finally, there are the more lighthearted, yet equally deadly Gremlins, think backwoods mountain men riding giant pigs into battle.

Your crews consist of a leader, called either a Master or Henchman, based on how many points you’re playing with. You get enforcers, minions, and peons which represent varying levels of power amongst the models in your crew. Each crew currently features between three and four Masters and two to three Henchmen. In the next few months this should jump to seven masters per faction, if all the reports I’ve read are accurate. There are dozens of other models to choose from each with unique looks, abilities, and styles.
In fact one of the things I love about Malifaux is none of the units feel like any of the other units. When you compare my Guilds Witchling Stalkers to the Neverborns Young Nephilim both groups are melee fighter and both play extremely differently. Additionally, you’ll rarely find yourself fielding more than a handful of models; I think the most I’ve ever used is seven.

Of course crew selection depends on what your goals are. The rules include a list of strategies, one of which each team will share as a victory condition. In addition to this, you will generate a list of five schemes that you will get to pick two of. Some are kept a secret, some are revealed, and some are revealed for additional points. Occasionally these are to kill your opponent’s models. Usually they are to control points on the board, push into your opponent’s side of the table, or even deliver a message to the opposing teams Master. Since they are not all played openly you have to be careful because you never know if your opponent is placing markers to claim territory that you can remove if you get close enough or is he planting explosives waiting for your models to get close enough for him to destroy them and gain points.

This is one of the best parts of the game; you start scoring points at the end of the second of five turns so if you’re fast and think you actions through you can get points before your opponent knows what’s going on. One of the things I really like about the game is that it’s possible to score points without killing a single enemy model. In fact I have won games where the majority of my forces were wiped out and I had done little damage to the opposing forces. For new players, the best piece of advice I can give is not to get bogged down killing your opponent’s forces, certainly it’s helpful, but you need to focus on your strategy and schemes for the victory points. Master doesn’t work with every strategy. Certainly you can play just about any of them against any scenario but some will be a better choice than others.

Entry point into the game is very easy, you can purchase the 2.0 rules and a starter set for one of the factions and have more than enough to play with. You’ll need a tape measure, a three foot square playing surface, some terrain, and a deck of cards. The tape measure is easy to pick up at any hardware or sewing store. The playing area was simple as well, you can mark off an area of table; I purchased a square yard of felt. For terrain you can stack book, use cut circles of paper, or purchase some from a model train store. Despite special suits being used any deck of cards can be played with, though I went and bought one of Wyrd’s custom decks, actually I have five.

As for forces it will depend on what faction you like, what you want to paint, and how you like to play. New plastic version with new sculpts are coming out for all of the models over the next year and you may want to wait on one you really like. Though, if you prefer the metal version they should still be available for a little while or in some hobby stores discount and loose figure bins later on.

Here comes that sudden but inevitable comparison I didn’t want to make. Under 1.5 Guild had a very rock/paper/scissors quality, if I played against Neverborn I took the Ortegas, I went up against the Ressers I took Lady Justice. I could mix and match my Masters if I thought one would be better in a particular strategy than the others but they never seemed to do as well. Under 2.0 this is no longer the case. Yes, Perdita still shines against the Neverborn, but Lady Justice is still quite capable when wading in to the numbers. I no longer feel the need to automatically take Master X against faction Y. Talking to some of the other players in my local setting this has continued across the board. Every master feels the same but different, more balanced against one another. Pandora may no longer be the slam dunk she once was, but she’s still incredibly good on the table. Conversely, players who avoided him as if he had some sort of communicable disease are now actively using Marcus.

My final thoughts: the game is fast paced, easy to follow, fun, and engaging. For new players or veterans I feel it’s a must have. I can’t say enough good things about it. Certainly there are some models that haven’t been upgraded to 2.0 yet but there stats should enter a second open beta testing by the end of September or early into October and I believe available by the end of the year in a final form. The only downside is that by getting in at 2.0 you're missing out on four books of story, which I've heard they may publish elsewhere. It’s worth playing, find a Wyrd Henchman in your area from their website and see if you can organize a demo, I think you’ll have a real fine time.

You can find out more information at The Wyrd website which features links to all of their other games. Have you played Malifaux? Are you interested in a game? Do you play any other miniature games? Head on over to my facebook page and let me know, or post something below.