First off, the miniatures. The assembly was largely straightforward, particularly for Malifaux models. The trade-off is they are somewhat static in look. That said, they don't lack for detail in the least. For the Neverborn crew, I opted to use a series of washes on the skin to give them an unearthly color. I continued the use of washes as the primary method of painting for the clothing, using various shades of brown. One of my favorites after painted ended up being my least favorite sculpt, the Scion of Black Blood. I had fun painting him and his tattoos.
The guild crew, Dr. Grimwell's group, suffers slightly more than the Neverborn crew of being fairly static. This is in part because of the lab coats which are fairly difficult to add much interest to. That said, I was pretty happy with how they turned out.
For both crews, I decided to try out a counter-preshading, which largely ended up as the main paints. from below and front, I sprayed white, while above and behind was dark. The intent is to give them a somewhat sinister appearance from being underlit.
For the missions and the book, after running through them twice with someone new to the game, I think they are very well done. Concepts within the game are quickly built upon and expanded. Game 1 includes simply two models in combat and a simple back and forth attacking to introduce the idea of opposed flips. The second mission introduces some of the movement concepts. From there, each mission expands on it until the entirety of the game, more or less, is included in the last two missions, which feature the full crews on each side.
The crews are, as is to be expected, well balanced, with the Henchmen leaders being fairly dominant over the others in the crews. In the games with Chris, commanding the Guild crew, Dr. Grimwell ran roughshod over my crew with the help of his very strong Melee attack and free walk action. In the first complete game with Chandler, while Grimwell performed similarly for me, Chandler was able to keep Angel Eyes at an ideal distance to deal repeated damage and end up turning the tide.
Overall, I have to say the starter set is a great value, particularly for anyone interested in getting into the game. It's also a great resource for someone who wants to intro the game for others; this gives an excellent outline for a way to introduce the various sometimes complex interactions of the game in a way that allows the new player to be quite comfortable by the end of a run through of the scenarios. The last scenario is a full game, which can take several hours, but the first four missions all told can be set up, explained, and played in the course of a single two-three hour session.