Saturday, 27 July 2013

The University of Transmortis - A Review

This review was correct in the dim and distant past of 2013 but if your reading this in 2016 then you might want to ignore the stat cards...the models however are exactly the same.

First lets look at what we get for our money...
As is to be expected, both the box and internal art are in the new style.

We get four 'Iron Zombies' on the sprue...and bases of course...I think you know what bases look like already though ;-)

Front View
Rear View
There's some assembly instructions for them as well. These are the standard 'exploded drawing' style but are fairly clear with the exception that due to the angle of the model in the picture the location of several of the extra cables is hidden from view. A couple of different views or a 'step by step' would be nice though isn't essential.

We'll look at the assembled versions in a little while...

We also as is to be expected get some stat cards. This is the first time we've actually seen the new stat cards as produced by Wyrd themselves rather than on a computer screen or as beta ones printed off for testing purposes.

Front View
Rear View
Other than the minor gripe that I would have liked the stats to be in a slightly different order (I'm of the school of thought that movement stats should be listed first as more often than not movement is the first thing you do) I like the new cards. They also fit into protective card sleeves so there's no more need for laminating...unless you want to that is. At a stretch you could even use them for 1.5 as they only have one spell and that spells Ca could be used as the models own for those rare abilities that interact with Ca rather than Wp or Df.

We'll discuss how they fare as actual units a bit later...

The background material and missions are contained in a fetching booklet and the art is all in the M2E style.

It contains some background material featuring one Professor Albus Von Shtook and his 'University of Transmortis' and it's 'students' the Iron Zombies. As well as creating new monstrosities deep below Cistern Seven in the sewers of Malifaux the professor has also developed an obsession with one Molly Squidpiddge and is attempting to find a 'cure' for her condition...of course obsessions are dangerous things...

The actual review bit...
The models are very nice but then given Wyrd's recent releases in plastic this isn't exactly a surprise and they go together very well. Those of you who have had occasional issues in the past *cough* Yan Lo's beard *cough* will be happy to learn that no such twiddly bits exist on these models...well...there's a couple of those power cables that we all know and love on them...but other than that they're fine. Here's some pictures of them assembled together with their respective stat cards,

The Valedictorian.

Student of Viscera

Student of Sinew

Student of Steel

The supplement itself contains rules for the Iron Zombies when they activate, two new Scenarios ('School of Hard Knocks' and 'Recruitment Drive') and a solitaire scenario for a single player called 'Matriculation'.

In these new scenarios the Iron Zombies are a danger to both crews and therefore have their own set of steps to follow when they are activated and these are quite simple. If not engaged it walks towards the nearest player controlled model (so not another Iron Zombie), If engaged it makes a single strike with it's 'Dissectors' (a 1" range, MI 6 attack with a built-in Crow that does 2/3/4 and has a double Crow Trigger that adds two positives to the damage flip) and if it has not moved then it can attack again. If the Iron Zombie in question is not in play when it needs to activate then both players flip a card and the player with the highest card has the dubious honour of placing the Iron Zombie in base contact with one of his own models...fortunately for him the Zombie doesn't activate that turn.

Note - It's been mentioned by several people that there are no rules for placing the Iron Zombies in the solo mission. However step four of the Iron Zombie special rules in the Iron Zombie Stories section explains quite clearly how to activate the zombies in Encounters and as far as I'm concerned it's just the same for the 'solo' mission with the exception that no card flip is required as there's just the one of you...I'm at a loss to understand why this would confuse anyone?!?!?

When an Iron Zombie is in a situation where a flip is required it is assumed to have flipped a nine with a penalty of two for each negative or a bonus of two for each positive. For damage it is assumed to have flipped Moderate on a standard flip, Weak on a negative flip and Severe on a positive. Though this is an entirely reasonable mechanic I see no reason why you couldn't use a 3rd deck to represent the Iron Zombies or simply flip for them from the deck of the opposite player to the one fact that's what I'll probably do myself.

To use the new Scenarios you determine the parameters of the Story Encounter normally as per the version 2 rules but instead of generating a Strategy you simply select the one you wish to play and then apply a couple of extra parameters depending on which new Scenario your playing. 'School of Hard Knocks' is rather simple and involves you trying to get your opponents models killed by Zombies and 'Recruitment Drive' has one of you attempting to protect four citizens (in the form of 'Citizen Markers') while the other is attempting to get them killed...this one is the most fun of the two for obvious reasons ;-)

The 'solo' scenario has set terrain (five 6" by 6" Ht 2 pieces in pre-set locations), a 6" Deployment Zone and is balanced for a 25 Soulstone Crew.

No Zombies start the game in play. After each player controlled activation a card is flipped to see which (if any) Zombies appear on the table as per the above listed behavioural parameters. One Victory Point is scored for being within 6" of the opposite board edge you deployed on at the end of six turns and the goal is to score as many VP's as possible.

I've tested the above solo scenario twice each using (as near as is possible) a Starter box Lady Justice, Seamus and Rasputina crew at 25 Soulstones with varying results. As the Zombie's 'appear' in base to base contact with the target model then crews that work at range are at a considerable disadvantage. As they (the Zombies) don't activate on the turn they arrive the fact that they appear after a models activation is ended is less of an immediate issue however the Zombies CAN activate multiple times. The previously mentioned mechanic makes placing the Zombies next to your strongest model not necessarily a good move as the enemy model could in theory activate once for each model in your crew. As your using a random table the results are obviously...well...random...

All in all the idea of a solo mission is an interesting concept but for the purposes of crew testing it has it's limitations. Of course you might want to use them in your Resurrectionists crew...

All the 'Iron Zombies' share similar basic abilities. Each has Hard to Wound +1, Armour +1 and a version of Terrifying that effects a certain model type (Undead, Constructs or Living) with the exception of 'The Valedictorian' which has Terrifying (All). The 'Students' have pretty average stats in a number of areas (Wk 4, Cg 6, Df and Wp 4 and 8 Wounds), the previously mentioned Dissectors attack with a Trigger that adds two positives but only against certain enemy types (Undead, Constructs or living) and a simple to cast , 8" range, (0) Action Spell that stops the target from declaring Triggers for a turn. They also all get Flurry as a Tactical Action though the Student of Viscera gets another (2) ability that gives it a 9" move followed by a 1 AP Melee Attack Action.

The Valedictorian gets slightly improved stats (Wk 6, Df and Wp 5 and ten Wounds) as well as Flight. As mentioned before it also has Terrifying (All) rather than a version that effects a specific model like the Students.

I suppose the real question is "are they worth taking as part of my Resurrectionist crew?" and the answer is most likely...maybe...

The students are each useful against a specific model type so their Terrifying and 'Dissectors' Triggers are worded specifically but even against crews with these model types in them I'd say they are slightly over-costed...not by much admittedly...maybe only a soul-stone. Some have suggested that perhaps they should be two cheaper but I don't think that they're that bad when selected for the right circumstances. But at a cost of ten Soulstones I'd say the Valedictorian is outperformed by a fair few Henchmen models in the Resurrectionist range...however the model is so nice that I'd personally be willing to make that compromise on certain occasions...whether you would is...well...up to you...

It's also worth mentioning that any of the Iron Zombies are excellent proxies for a number of other models so therefore 'The University of Transmortis' is excellent value for the models alone...

Thoughts and comments are (as usual) most welcome.


  1. First good review I've seen so far. Although I'm confused as why the box says M2E when the cards it comes with are 1.5 cards in 2.0 format. I've actually had this confirmed by someone at Wyrd. The official 2.0 cards will come out later possibly during second wave beta.

    1. The cards seem entirely compatible with version M2E as that is what I tested them with...maybe there's a Malifaux 1.75 that we never heard about, lol.

  2. Those are M2E cards. None of the models have a CA stat and if you'll look at the Valedictorian's card at her (0) Lecture notes you'll see that it's stat line is in the M2E format.

    1. That's what I thought but several people seem to think otherwise.

  3. Are these available to buy yet? I can't seem to find them anywhere.

    1. My FLGS (Titan Games) has had them since last weekend so they must be generally available...unless they have friends in high places that I wasn't aware of...

    2. Wayland don't seem to have them, but what's more strange is that I cannot even find them in Wyrd's own webstore. I may be looking in the wrong places, but I'm not finding any info on them on the wyrd site at all. I just figured they were part of the gencon releases, but I've obviously missed something.

    3. I don't know where you are geographically but if your UK based you could try dropping these guys a message,

      I'm not sure if they mail products abroad but they may be able to help's worth a try at least.

    4. Thanks! I'll look into that, if it doesn't turn up in any of my usual stores efter the weekend.

  4. They were scheduled for 31 July, but delivered early in some places and they were allowed to start selling. I got mine from Dark Sphere.


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