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Interview: Nathan Caroland (Wyrd Miniatures/Malifaux Developer)

I am especially excited about this interview. We managed to get an interview with Nathan Caroland of Wyrd Miniatures. Nathan is one of the co-creators of Malifaux. He answered questions about himself and about Malifaux, and was even willing to share some of his painting work with us.



How long have you been interested in tabletop games and how did you get into them?
The games themselves never interested me other than in a very general way –  it was the miniatures, background, story and general look that caught my attention. I had an interest in miniatures in my teen years but life, hormones, wife, kids and career kept me busy and it wasn’t until my late twenties that my interest reemerged. That was seven or so years back now.

What is your favorite part of the tabletop gaming hobby: playing, painting, making terrain, or maybe some other aspect?

Ogre Butcher, painted by Nathan Caroland

Not that I’ve done it in quite some time due to lack of free time, but painting has always been my favorite outlet when it comes to miniatures. When I’m assembling, painting and basing my piece I generally tend to make up stories for the pieces as I go along and that early on led me to writing character pieces for each miniature. Matter of fact, answering these questions made me take a bit of a break and go look up some of my old stuff on Cool Mini Or Not (CMON) which is a great place for painters. Had a bit of a browse through my pieces there and I’m half tempted to go pick up some paints and make time here soon. I still want to paint Killjoy rather badly!

Despite it not being anything special, I’ll share with you my attempts at painting and writing.

What crews do you play in Malifaux? Which crew is your favorite? Do you have any that you’ve painted yourself that you are willing to show us?
While I like all of them, the Resurrectionists and the Neverborn I’m most attached to. I haven’t had time to play much in the way of games or paint in some time but its still fun to get in on a few now and then, and more to the point I like watching a skirmish unfold with other players. I keep saying ‘soon’. I’m sure some day I’ll actually have the time.

What are some of your influences or where do you draw your inspiration from? Are there any specific books, movies, art, or other sources that have had an impact on Malifaux or other Wyrd products?
That’s kind of hard to say to be honest. Malifaux is made up of so many genres that I think its hard to nail it down to any one influence. Most folks give you that queer look when Malifaux is explained to them and then when they get into the story and game itself inevitably someone says ‘Strangely, this works’. When Malifaux started to gel with its own world, background and rules, I didn’t want to stick to any one type of genre as I’m a huge fan of so many and quite bluntly, I wanted to do something different and to find our own niche. I think we’ve managed that.

Books, I used to read two to three a week on average for the last twenty years. I’ve run the gambit from fantasy to sci-fi to horror and suspense to westerns and even a few didn’t know at the time smut novels which surprised me. Once I start a book I never put it down and will always finish it through to the end, though more recently I’ve found that requires me to carry it around for a few weeks now instead of a day or two.

Killjoy, of the Malifaux Outcast faction

My favorite genre to read these days is Urban Fantasy – modern day magic and mayhem. Jim Butcher, Patricia Briggs, Simon Green, Karen Chance, Yasmine Galenorn, Kim Harrison, David Gunn, Mark Del Franco, Kelly McCullough, Neil Gaiman, Kat Richardson, Rob Thurman, Gail Carriger, Seanan McGuire, Robert Asprin, David Eddings, Gary Gygax … and I could go ahead and list probably another thirty authors off the top of my noggin’. I love books.

Movies, that’s a bit different. I don’t watch television often, maybe a couple hours a month for the last five or so years. Just doesn’t appeal to me much anymore and I’m generally too busy. I’ve started to take a bit more time recently though as my children like to watch movies with me and beg mercilessly to go to the theater whenever they can.

Despite not watching them often, I’m still a HUGE fan of B movies. The more B the better IMO. My wife tolerates it and knows that when I show interest in a movie its bound to be something she won’t approve of but she puts up with it. The 80’s movies are high on my list of enjoyment as well, love the whole teen scientist/driving gone bad/stuck in school with nothing better to do on the weekend bits. Zombie and horror movies (not gore and torture though .. that never has appealed to me) are big, big, big winners in my house. We love the Resident Evil, Day of the Dead, Land of the Dead, Fido .. zombie flicks. If its dead and walking, odds are we have it on video and have watched it more than once.

I also love everything to do with old Jack the Ripper or Sherlock Holmes movies, cobblestones and gaslight appeal to me and while there aren’t a lot of movies out there that do that these days, I tend to hunt them down when I hear about them. Growing up I’ve watched every Western and War movie you could think of with my Dad who is a real nut for those movies – John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Gary Cooper, Audie Murphy, Lee Marvin, Earnest Borgnine, Charles Bronson, Telly Savalas, Yul Brynner, Robert Mitchum, Richard Boon, Steve McQueen, etc. That’s rubbed off on me a touch as well.

I’m a fan of a lot of different types and genres so I guess its no surprise that Malifaux is a riot of tastes.

Bete Noir

What hobbies do you have outside of tabletop games?
Reading. Writing. Occasional video game with the kids where they seem to whoop the heck out of dad.  Tinkering on old cars and just driving away for a day or weekend to see something different.

Why did you choose the name Malifaux for the game?
When we started trying to come up with names for the setting we threw a lot aside as they sounded too American or too typical and we wanted something different. The suggestion was made for Malifaux and it just clicked, from the way it was said to the cocked head and obvious question to its meaning when someone heard it. There are folks still debating what it means and we’re happy to let them.

How did the idea of using cards for Malifaux instead of dice come about?
It’s no secret that we scrapped the core rules twice before settling on Malifaux’s current incarnation and early on we were actually using dice. The decision was made to do something different and not follow the easy road, and while it took a good while to develop and balance, I think we’ve pulled it off nicely if the interest in Malifaux is anything to go by.

How long did the process of creating Malifaux take from inception until the rulebook was released? What was the hardest part of creating the game?
Couple of years. Wasn’t easy, wasn’t fast and we were all treading new ground and finding our places within the development. I say ‘we’ in the company sense as in all honesty I’m not the rules/game guy, that mantle falls to Eric Johns and his team of very talented and dedicated game developers. That doesn’t mean I don’t crawl in the sandbox from time to time and build my own sand castles and knock theirs down.

The hardest part was creating the core mechanics and then balancing it. That took ages and more than a few moments of tearing ones hair out.

There are so many different elements that comprise the setting of Malifaux (“Steamvictoriohorrorwestpunk”) yet it somehow all works together really well. How did you manage to fit all these elements together in a way that actually works?
Crowbar and superglue.

A Hoarcat price from Malifaux

Malifaux uses 32mm ‘heroic’ miniatures, but these miniatures don’t appear to be much different in size than the 28mm miniatures elsewhere. Why the different size label?
Funny that isn’t it?

When Wyrd started up, 28mm seemed to be the norm, but when we measured the miniatures, surprise surprise, these certainly aren’t 28mm, unless you are measuring to their chin or the like. Then of course there is the whole argument in the industry of do you measure to the eyes or do you measure to the top of the head? Everyone seemed to do it different. I decided to buck the trend somewhat and state openly that we were measuring to the eyes, and then of course gave it the heroic moniker so that folks understood that some of our miniatures are a bit taller, some shorter – you know, like real folks. Thus 32mm heroic.

That caused no small amount of trouble and confusion I can tell you and for some time there I questioned whether that was the smartest decision we could have made.

People immediately started hollering that we were doing an off scale size, that nothing would look right together with their other miniature collections, why didn’t we go for 28mm, and so forth. We naturally tried to educate folks on the scale of the miniature line as compared to others, took photographs and even encourages folks to pick them up or look at them in the stores where they could find them and dared them to find a huge amount of difference. Slowly people started to recognize that we weren’t ‘out of scale’ and started questioning some of the other manufacturers sizes.

Heck, I’ve started to see some newer companies coming onto the market using the 32mm heroic label now .. so maybe that’ll be the new ‘standard’ in a few years, who knows.

Dwead Piwate Wuppwecht, a non Malifaux Wyrd mini.

What are the plans for the future of Malifaux? I’ve seen mention of expansions or supplements. Can you give us any hints as to what we can expect from those? Will we see official campaign rules?
We’ve got our hands full that’s for sure. Malifaux has been a huge success for us and obviously we’re quite thankful for that. When we published the core rules for Malifaux there was already another books worth of expansion which was removed from the original book due to our concern that it might be too much too quick. This has allowed us to get Malifaux to the market without it being overly complex for a new game and as time goes on continue to add content and characters to the Malifaux world.

We’ve been asked about campaign rules, roleplaying games and other expansions into the Malifaux world and I can say that we’re exploring them diligently, though with everything, time and interest will tell.

Are there any non-Malifaux products in the works that we can look forward to?
Certainly are!

Thanks again to Nathan for taking the time out to answer some questions. If you haven’t already seen it, you might want to also check out our Malifaux Review.

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