Claim precious work benches, tear the stuffing out of your enemies, and sew on bits and pieces of your fallen comrades!
New themes are hard to come by in the world of board and miniatures gaming these days, so it’s refreshing to something a bit different behind Puppet Wars Unstitched, a miniatures board game from Wyrd Miniatures, makers of Malifaux. Instead of space marines and zombies going at it across a ravaged post-apocalyptic wasteland, you control bizarre little animated puppets fighting each other across the floor of an isolated witch’s cottage, trying to claim work benches as bases. A wound is a ‘rip’, and you tear rip bits off other puppets to stitch onto your own puppets to make them more effective. Another unique thing about this game is that instead of dice, players use a deck of cards to power their little forces, matching card values and suits to send them into battle.
I’ve only played a couple of games but they’ve been great fun. The cards seem to give you lots of choice, but actually they cleverly restrict your options with a mix of push-your-luck (draw a card and hope you’ll win) and card management (I’ve saved this good card for this big attack). The production quality is good, with 44 hard plastic miniatures that, while fiddly to put together, look great and have lots of Tim Burtonesque character. There’s a colourful, solid board to play on and a couple of decks of nice cards. A few things let the side down a bit however: some thin counters (I’m sure I’ll quickly replace them with some form of token), cheap-looking unit cards that could be better designed, inconsistent iconography and—personally—I find the artwork somewhat dinky. Still, the characterful miniatures more than make up for these flaws.
By the way, if you’re painting these puppets, be sure to check out this issue of the Wyrd Miniatures magazine for extensive tips.
Talking about those reference cards, I couldn’t take them any longer, so redesigned them, using photographs of my own collection of miniatures. For minis that come in multiples, I gave them small painting variations and separate cards depicting those variations; of course your paint jobs will be different, but you may find these cards useful in any case.