Brine and Bones is a pirate-themed alternative Nightmare Edition version of Malifaux's Molly Crew. In this article we take a look at the alternative sculpts, introduce Malifaux, and chat to Kyle Rowan, Design Lead at Wyrd about the Nightmare Editions and how to use the Brine and Bones crew.
This article forms part of our Nautical Tabletop Month that's running across all of November. We're going to look at different nautical wargames and board games, as well as interview developers about capturing the sea feel on the tabletop. We'll also look at nautical factions in popular wargames along with tabletop accessories that are available to keep your hobby ship-shape. You can see all the articles here on the hub. So come aboard as we set sail and celebrate all games nautical in nature.
Malifaux is a skirmish wargame set in a dark alternative 1900s. Malifaux has a unique mechanic for tests, and rather than using dice, players draw cards from a deck, with the number on the card drawn being added to the skill of the character. Players also have a hand of cards, which they can use to cheat fate by replacing the card drawn for tests.
There are several factions in Malifaux, each with their own unique flavor and playstyle. Each faction is then subdivided with Masters and Keywords, which are used to recruit crews and synergize your force. Malifaux is very scenario and opponent driven for creating crews, so there is no ultimate crew build. It also means that winning is not always about combat, and creating a control or defensive crew is not only possible but effective.
Malifaux has very simple mechanics, with all the stats and abilities present on cards for each member of your crew. This makes it very accessible for new players, while the tactical depth can take a while to master, which gives it a great learning curve, as even veteran players are constantly discovering new ways to play.
Brine and Bones
Brine and Bones is an alternative Nightmare Edition for the Molly Crew. What that means is that the miniatures and card art are cosmetically different, but all the rules remain the same between Molly Squidpidge and her Brine and Bones equivalent, Mary 'Blacktongue' Bonnet.
The Brine and Bones box contains:
- Mary 'Blacktongue' Bonnet (Molly Squidpidge
- Wayward Mariner (Necrotic Machine)
- Nani and the Voice (Phillip and the Nanny)
- 3x Skellywags (Rabble Risers)
- A Pirate hat for Arrrchie and alternative art card (Archie comes in The Lost box)
Mary (and Molly) are very much a control and support leader. She gives a great amount of card discard and draw based around her abilities, and also punishes your opponent's units if she can see them and they complete the same action twice. Pairing her with some hard-hitting and tough units can make them hard to take down, as your opponent may have to alternate attacks, rather than repeatedly using their most powerful.
Having the additional hat for Archie is great, as he is a fast and hard-hitting unit, that works very well with Mary. Archie and the Crooligan's the come in The Lost box all also share the Forgotten keyword. It allows you to theme Archie easily out of the same Nightmare box.
If you want more units in keeping with Mary's nautical theme, the Salty Seadevil is also an alternative Rogue Necromancy with the Forgotten keyword and adds another hard-hitting unit to Molly's crew.
Brine and Bones Developer Interview
TechRaptor: Brines and Bones are a Nightmare alternative crew for Molly Core Box, with the Forgotten keyword. What started the initial Nightmare alternative miniatures trend?
Kyle Rowan: Back in Malifaux First Edition (many, many years ago), we used the term “Nightmare” as a way to describe alternate models for characters we wanted to see in a different light, such as Dead Justice (a headless, zombified Lady Justice). At the time, some were the same exact character but in a different pose or performing a different action, like Tara and the Whiskey Golem. But that approach quickly changed.
The Malifaux community immediately gravitated toward the idea, so each year, the ideas got a little bit bigger and much stranger. Now, we’ve made it a yearly tradition to release Nightmare Edition boxes that include multiple characters, including a Master, every Gen Con, as a way to let loose and open up creatively with what we’d like to see on the tabletop. When we’re coming up with ideas for these boxes, any wild idea can take the prize for what we’re going to release next.
TR: Why alternative sculpts and not limited crews with their own rules?
KR: Malifaux is a small, skirmish-sized game (each crew has about 6-10 characters on average) but there are hundreds of options to choose from when building your crew. Each character has their own unique abilities and actions, which opens up a lot of space for our players to explore already.
Unlike the rest of our models, Nightmare Edition models are rare. We only make them available at certain points of the year, and when they’re gone, they’re gone. We take pride in Malifaux’s balance from a competitive standpoint, and giving special rules to these exclusive characters could give some players an edge that wouldn’t be fair to everyone.
On top of that, there’s always a chance that a player might enjoy a Master’s playstyle but not their aesthetic. A different version of that character could make that player give that crew another look, and they might get more excited about playing a different version of an established character.
TR: Let's talk about the design process behind Brine and Bones. Why was Molly chosen as the alternative edition and where did the idea come from? Were the nightmare models designed around Molly’s crew, or was Molly’s core chosen because of the fit to the idea?
KR: When it’s time for us to sit down and think about what the next Nightmare Edition will be, we generally start with a Faction first. While it’s not always the case, we try to focus on a Faction that hasn’t seen any Nightmare love recently. Then we look at the Masters within that Faction and start honing in on wild ideas. We’ll come up with a list of things we’d like to do or see and discuss what excites us at that moment.
Molly was in the running from the start. One person mentioned undead pirates, and then everyone else started riffing on the idea. When everyone is laughing and coming up with a hundred different good ideas during the creative process, there’s this kind of silent agreement that we’re going to move forward in that direction.
So once we knew the theme, we started looking at other characters in her keyword that would fit well into that theme. For example, the Rabble Risers (zombies with swords) were an obvious fit to make them swashbucklers, and the name Skelly Wags came almost immediately after.
Archie, one of Molly’s favorites, didn’t receive a Nightmare alt model, but we did give him a fancy pirate hat (and just had to change his name to Arrrchie) so players who already had him can keep him in the theme of the Nightmare crew.
Once we have the groundwork done, we start expanding on the Nightmare crew’s lore a bit, which can start by looking at old stories, or in this case, real pirates, and how we could spin their mythos to fit it into the Malifaux world. That’s where Mary “Blacktongue” Bonnet came from, she was inspired by a few real pirates from our own history books. The nickname “Blacktongue” came from Molly being a journalist, and the old writer’s habit of repeatedly licking an ink-covered quill.
TR: Molly is part of the Resurrectionists faction. Where does Molly’s crew fit into them and how do they play? What stands Molly apart from other Masters?
KR: Unlike most of the Factions in Malifaux, who are usually grouped up by similar ideals or goals, the Resurrectionists are grouped together by having a similar interest: resurrecting the undead. Molly is slightly unique in that she’s undead herself, having been resurrected by another Master within the Faction, Seamus. While other Resurrectionists might emphasize necromancy in their gameplay via summoning shambling zombies, Molly leans more into her inquisitive nature, thanks to her journalist background and dark past.
The way that translates on the table is through Actions like “One More Question!”, which slows down her target as she asks away, potentially doling out damage if they happen to be near enemies.
Her true strength comes from some of her really unique Abilities, like Lethe’s Caress, The Gorgon’s Influence, and her keyword Ability, Fading (X). Lethe’s Caress makes her opponent think twice about positioning (stay out of Molly’s line of sight!) and performing the same Action twice in an Activation, or else they’ll suffer some damage. It makes her opponent think very differently about how they are going to accomplish their own goals. While it’s not much damage at first, it can really impede an opponent’s strategy throughout the game. They’ll have to adapt quickly.
Managing your resources, namely, your hand of cards is a core component to victory in Malifaux, and The Gorgon’s Influence can really gum up the works. Molly loves it when the opponent makes her discard cards, and she loves it, even more, when they draw cards because when she Activates, she’ll draw up to the same number the opponent has in their hand.
Her crew’s keyword Ability, Fading (X), triggers when they’re forced to discard cards, and each character has their own special twist on what happens. For Molly, X is Memories, which will make a nearby enemy model gain Distracted. But when other characters in her crew discard cards, they can reposition themselves, heal, or remove Markers from the table. Even if Molly and company aren’t playing against a discard-heavy opponent, they have ways of discarding cards themselves via various triggers and effects.
These Abilities all synergize with one another in a way that is unique to the crew and to the Faction. Players will need to think outside the box a bit when playing Molly (or her Nightmare version, Mary), but once things click, they’re a blast to play.
TR: Thank you very much for talking to us Kyle. As a Resurrectionist player, we love the alternative theme for Molly and we're currently in the process of converting all our Forgotten units to the theme.
The Brine and Bone and Salty Seadevil are limited edition miniatures, only available at set times and events from Wyrd. They are currently available until the 03 Dec direct from Wyrd as part of their National Game and Puzzle Week.
The Molly Core Crew, The Lost and Rogue Necromancy boxes are avilable from our tabletop spondor, Firestorm Games.
The copy of Brine and Bone used to produce this preview was provided by Wyrd.