Last Sunday I had the pleasure of meeting with Peter from ‘Demented Games‘, co-creator of ‘Twisted: A Steam Punk Miniatures Game‘, to give me a first hand experience with the game and show me exactly how it plays.
After introductions, Peter leafed through a paperback copy of the art book that can be purchased as part of their Kickstarter (only a PDF version though) – and as with many art books, it was fascinating to see all the different characters and how they evolved from the initial ideas.
Peter then pointed me to the characters and miniatures that represented them. The two factions on display were ‘The Dickensians‘, a crew of street urchins (or urkins as they’re known as in this world) and thugs for the most part which share vast similarities of characters from Oliver Twist.
The second faction was ‘The Servants of the Engine‘, robotic creations brought about by The Engine (the powerful antagonist of this world with the ability to “Twist” the flora and fauna to suit its purposes) to defend it from those who wish to steal its power.
While the Servants might have characters with names you recognise, not all will look as you imagine. For example there is a character named M’dusa which Peter pointed out is only a small part of the miniature – it steals the body of its victim and then uses it to carry it about. Tesla, from Nicolai Tesla, is a man with a hulking powered vest which in turn gives him electrical abilities. Peter also pointed out that there is a mechanic in game which can overload Tesla’s suit, but only with the help of another figure to press the big ol’ “stop” button in the centre of Tesla’s back can crisis be averted. What’s even cooler is that the stop button is sculpted onto the figure, a tiny but nifty detail.
There is also a third faction as part of the Kickstarter which didn’t have representation on the table at the time of writing, The Egyptians, which looks to be a group of archaeologists that stumbled across one of The Engines nodes which then twisted some folk and brought about the Steam punk version of the Egyptian God Set.
When I’d asked Peter if they had plans for other factions, he replied that there is a fourth faction in the works but it is still in its infancy, The Atlantians. Unfortunate sailors whose vessel had sunken and tripped a node which then brought them back. Peter was able to show me a single image to show off the vibe they’re aiming for which was pretty cool – think an admiral with roman helmet and an arm fused with a crab claw. Navy mixed with sea monster.
The laser-cut card base inserts that are also on offer.
Now the miniatures. Fan-flippin-tastic! Peter stated that crew boxes will be released in metal by local caster Eureka miniatures with one-off, individually purchased figures being made of resin by the US group Valiant.
Comparing the resin and metal figures, the metal turned out very nice, almost identical to the resin which is a brilliant outcome. I find metal can often lose some detail with minuscule markings and finishes but I was unable to see any loss of quality.
Having built Malifaux figures which, while detailed at times, can be a nightmare to assemble (really, who casts a miniature head as three separate pieces, a foot with separate toes?!). I’d asked Peter how many parts we could expect to glue together for each figure. His answer: they’re aiming for no more than four. Excellent!
He did point out that as some figures are very fine, it may take some finesse to glue some parts together though. To me it didn’t look like much of an issue.
The miniatures are all awesomely detailed and filled with character. I think that’s what most people will buy into. The steam punk aesthetics transfers well and the way the characters have been designed to incorporate this unique look shows the huge amount of care and love that the creators have for the project. Really, it’s top notch stuff.
Oliver Twisted *wink* into Ollyver
Onto the game itself. Anyone who’s played Malifaux will get the hang of it pretty quickly. Each side builds a crew to an agreed upon points limit – Peter stated the average game size will be 200 points and characters can vary in points from as low as 11 (for an Urkin) to about 49 -50 points for Launcelot or Bill Psyches (super tough heroes). Each character has a stat card with both passive and active abilities written on the back of each. Figures also have two action points apiece to move, shoot, interact etc. That’s about where the similarities end.
What does set Twisted apart is the ever-present Engine. This is a mechanic in the game which adds a bit of randomness to the fold by granting one player the ‘Favour of the Engine’. Whomever holds favour will win a draw in combat or re-roll any one dice per turn. Favour can be lost by an unlucky card draw or if you re-roll a dice that doesn’t improve upon your first roll. Say you wanted to re-roll a result of “3” but your second roll is a lousy “2” – tough luck buddy, no favour for you. NEXT!
The Engine also has its own deck of cards which each player draws one of at the start of each turn. These card grant positive or negative effects to you or your opponent or perhaps a new ability for the turn. Any unused Engine card is returned at the end of the current turn.
Dodgy Dodger dodges out of harms way
Another huge point of difference is the activation cards. At the start of each turn, both players organise a deck of the current crew in play, to activate in a specific order. The decks are then placed face down and the top card is revealed to your opponent when it’s your turn.
Got a crew member in the deck that died earlier that turn? When you flip the corresponding card, as you no longer have that piece in play, you lose your turn.
This makes you think and prioritise your activates and hope that everyone survives to be able to be used.
Lastly, the games make use of a variety of dice types, from D4 to D20. Mostly you’ll be using the D20 to attack and defend with the other dice for damage and spell effects (or Alchemancy as it’s known in Twisted).
We need cards, STAT!
Observing a game between a friend (who’s since backed the Kickstarter in a big way) and another keen onlooker, the game flows quite quickly. Granted it was only a demo game and about 100 points in size, but still it was a lot faster than I’m use to for a skirmish game. I can’t pick why that is. Perhaps there wasn’t complex rules in play or that combat moved at a rapid pace –roll attack dice, defender rolls a dice, compare. Hit? If yes, roll damage, minus defenders armour value, mark wounds caused. Activation complete.
I must point out that the rules themselves are the result of three years work and are still in a beta phase so some features might change or new ones could be introduced. As it stands, I like the speed at which the game flows and I love the character each figure exudes – both the physical representation as well as the abilities the character has on the card, for example, if Bill Psyches dog ‘Bullseye’ hits a foe, it can “latch on” to the opponents legs reducing their movement. The character Dodger, a pickpocket who’s legs are a single wheel (stolen from a robotic Bobby – English policeman – who gets around in the same way) has the ability to steal any equipped items (or delights as they’re known) off an opponent as well as shoot his weapon during any point in a move action then continue moving the remainder if he has any.
Bill and Bullseye gang up on Launcelot
Other points of note are the MDF scenery and laser cut card bases that were on display. Both were of exceptional detail and while the buildings may look fiddly to assemble, Peter assures that it’s simpler than you’d think. He showed how some details can be quickly snapped off and on to customise the look and use of each building.
le Twisted town
le Twisted building
Peter stated if the game takes off and continues to do well, demented Games hope to introduce up to two factions per year and that’s not including new characters for the current factions. Every figure is full of life and story and I only wish I had more cash to throw at this project.
I’m really psyched about this game and can’t wait for my mate to have his Kickstarter fulfilled!
Twisted (at time of print) is currently at $103,412 AUD over the initial goal of only $25,000. They are well into stretch goals now. Check out the Kickstarter page here.
You can also follow the game on their website here and/or on Facebook here.