Archive for the 'Malifaux' Category

What is Malifaux: Part 2

In part 1, I covered the background and the various factions of Malifaux.  Now in part 2, I will cover the game mechanics and the real heart of the game, the Fate Deck.

Malifaux is referred to as a “skirmish” game.  What that means is that each player typically only controls 4-10 models in their crew during a game.  This is different from games like Warhammer where one player may have anywhere from 50 to 100 individual soldiers plus tanks making up their army.  For a standard “scrap”, each player’s crew consists of a single Master and a number of other models.  In a larger game, or brawl, players can bring two Masters.  Each Master is allowed to hire crew members from his faction using soulstones from a supply that is agreed upon by both players before the game starts.  Any soulstones leftover after hiring a crew are added to the Master’s cache and can be used to influence the game later on.  This means that even if you aren’t able to use up all of the available soulstones for hiring crew members, the excess soulstones are not going to waste.

One aspect of hiring a crew that is significantly different from most games, is that you don’t actually hire your crew until know what your strategy and schemes are going to be.  I will go over strategies and schemes in a minute, but basically they are your goals for the game.  In most games like Warhammer you build your army prior to the game knowing little to nothing about what kind of goals, terrain or opponent you will be facing, so you need to be prepared for anything.  In Malifaux, you determine what your goals will be and what the terrain will be, and then you hire your crew.  This means that you can build your crew to best fit the goals of the game.  For example, if the goal of the game is to recover some object, then hiring the faster members of you faction is in order, but if the goal is to survive, then the hardier and stronger members might be the best choice.  It is a unique mechanic of the game that adds quite a bit of flavor.

Speaking of strategies and schemes, Malifaux is a heavily story driven.  The objectives in the game go beyond the standard “kill the enemy forces” or “take and hold this position”.  While those do exist in Malifaux, there are also numerous other strategies such as kill the opposing Master, sabotage a specific piece of terrain, and grab and hold the treasure.  There are also special strategies like finding and delivering parts of a potion to a witch’s cauldron, which was one of three strategies specifically created for Halloween this year.  Each crew has a primary strategy, plus from 0 to 2 secondary schemes that they are trying to complete.  The players randomly determine the strategy for their crew at the start of the game, and are know to both players.  Then they can choose their schemes.  Schemes add extra minor goals to the game, and each faction has schemes that are unique to that faction.  For example, the Neverborn have a scheme to kidnap an opposing crew member.  Some additional strategy is added to the schemes because they do not need to be revealed to the opponent.  If you decide to reveal what your schemes are, then you get more points for completing them.

Once the board is setup, and the strategies and crews are chosen, then the game can begin.  Players take turns activating their models, each activating only one model at a time and completing all of that model’s actions.  When a model is done with its activation, then the opposing player gets to activate one of his models.  This sequence goes back and forth until all models have been activated.  There are ways to allow players to activate multiple models in sequence before the opposing player gets to activate a model.  When a model is activated it gets two Action Points (AP) to use during its turn.  These AP are fittingly used to perform actions in the game.  Some models (usually Masters) get additional AP to perform specific actions like spellcasting or attacks, while others are just plain fast and get 3-4 AP.  Some actions that models can perform are the standards like walking, attacking, and charging that are available to most all models.  There are also special actions like spells and more advanced attacks that are unique to each model.

The real heart of the game comes into play when a model attempts to attack another model or cast a spell.  This is the Fate Deck, and it is what truly separates Malifaux from nearly every other miniature game out there.  Instead of using dice, Malifaux uses a standard deck of poker cards with jokers.  The only difference is that the suits on the cards have been changed to more closely reflect the Malifaux feeling.  Standard weapon attacks work much like the card game War, where each player flips the top card of his deck and adds the appropriate stat (attacker adds Combat, defender adds Defense).  The model with the highest value (ties go to the attacker) wins the duel.  If the attacker wins, then another card is flipped to determine the damage done.  Spell casting works a bit differently where the player casting the spell flips his card and determines the total spell power with any modifiers before the opponent tries to resist the spell by beating that total.

Where things get really interesting, is the ability to “cheat fate”.  During any duel and for nearly every case where cards are flipped, it it possible to cheat.  Each player has a hand of cards that they draw at the start of each turn.  After a card is flipped from their deck, a player can decide to replace the flipped card with a card in their hand.  They can only do this once per flip, though.  Some models, such as Masters, can also use soulstones to cheat.  They can spend one soulstone to flip another card and add it to the total.

As an example, Lady Justice is attacking Nicodem with her sword.  She has a combat skill of 7 and Nico has a defense of 3.  Both players flip a card off the top of their decks, Lady J gets a 3 of Tomes, while Nico gets an 11 of Crows.  Since Lady J is losing with a total of 10 to 14, she gets to cheat first.  She has a 13 of Rams in her hand, and decides play it to replace the 3 to bring her total to 20.  She feels this is enough, so she doesn’t use a soulstone to add any further.  Nico’s turn to cheat, and he doesn’t have anything better than the 11 in his hand, so he decides to just use a soulstone to add a flip.  He flips another card and gets a 4 of Masks.  This brings his total to 18, which is a loss to Lady J by 2.  Lady J would then get to flip a card for damage.  Because she only beat Nico by 2, she would get a negative “twist”, meaning she would flip two cards and have to use the lowest card.  But she also has a trigger called Critical Strike that states that she gets a positive twist for each card with a Ram suit in her combat total.  Since she used the 13 of Rams, she gets one positive twist, which then cancels out the negative twist.  She flips a single card for damage, and get a 7 of Masks, meaning she deals Moderate damage for her weapon.

The Fate Deck and the ability to cheat fate add a lot of strategy to the game.  Not only do you need to pay attention to what cards are in your hand, but you need to decide what order to activate your models in, because as you get further along in the turn, you will know what cards have been flipped from yours and your opponent’s deck, making it easier to predict what cards will come up next.  It’s not a completely random chance like it is with dice.

And that is Malifaux in a nutshell.  As the tagline says,  “Cheat Fate or lose your Soul”

What is Malifaux: Part 1

Malifaux Book Cover

A couple people have asked me this recently, so here is my answer.

Put simply, Malifaux is a table-top, tactical game produced by Wyrd Miniatures.  The basic premise of Malifaux is that portals have opened from our world to an alternate world, in which Malifaux is the major city.  The world of Malifaux contains Soulstones that provide the inhabitants with the ability to perform magic.  Naturally these Soulstones are a highly sought-after resource and a number of different factions are out to get them.

The factions that are available in the game are the Guild, Neverborn, Arcanists, Resurrectionists, and Outcasts.  Each one has a distinct theme, and within them are various Masters that lead the crews used in game.

The Guild is the generalist faction and the acts as the law in Malifaux.  Each of the Guild Masters provides a counter for one of the other factions.  Lady Justice commands the Death Marshals and works to stop the unlawful use of necromancy in Malifaux.  Sonia Criid and her crew use weapons and spells designed to stop other magic users in their tracks.  Perdita and the Ortega family provide unmatched long range firepower and an answer to the horrors native to Malifaux.

The Neverborn are made up of the “natives” of Malifaux.  These are the demons and nightmares that inhabit this alternate world.  The Masters of the Neverborn have a wide variety of styles and characters.  Lilith is the most straightforward of the Masters and prefers getting in the opponent’s face with her demon.  Pandora is a ranged spell caster and focuses on draining the opponent’s will to survive.  Zoraida plays a supporting role and buffs her minions so that they can move in for the attack.  The last is The Dreamer.  He summons up creatures from his nightmares to do his bidding, and can even transform into the giant monster Lord Chompy Bits if needed.

The Arcanists are the heavy magic users, casting powerful spells to deal damage directly or to control others.  Rasputina is powerful spell caster that commands and army of ice.  Her minions include ice golems, wendigos and hoarcats that get in the opponent’s way while she blasts them with powerful ice magic.  Ramos is a mad scientist type that creates half man/half machine constructs to do his bidding.  These creatures can be extremely fast and resilient in game.  Marcus the beastmaster controls an army of supernatural creatures like the cerberus and chimera.  He is the most competent melee fighter of the Arcanists.  Finally there is Colette and her Showgirls.  Colette commands an army of dancing girls and deadly mannequins that dance over the board using hit and run style tactics.

The Resurrectionists summon or create undead minions to do their bidding.  Zombies, monsters and spirits make up the majority of their minions.  Seamus is like the Mad Hatter and Jack the Ripper combined.  He leads a troupe of undead ladies of the night that lure their unsuspecting victims to their impending doom.  Dr. McMourning is the equivalent of Dr. Frankenstein in Malifaux.  He can stitch together corpses into hulking monsters and prefers brute force over ranged subtlety.  Nicodem is the necromancer extraordinaire.  He can raise legions of zombie minions to  shield himself and to swarm the enemy with bodies that are nigh impossible to get rid of permanently.  Kirai is the last of the Resurrectionist masters.  She is heavily based on Japanese mythology and summons otherworldly spirits to do her bidding.

Finally, the Outcasts are kind of a mishmash of groups.  Som’er Teeth Jones commands a crew of drunken, pig-herding gremlins.  The gremlins also include Ophelia LeCroix and her family or sharpshooters that rival the Ortegas in marksmanship.  The necromancer Leviticus is able to conjure up spirits and deadly mechanized abominations to do his dirty work, while proving to be nigh invincible when surrounded by his waifs.  The twin Viktorias lead a group of mercenaries that bring a western samurai feeling to the game.  They are unique in that they can either work on their own or be hired into other crews.  The final group is lead by the mysterious Hamelin.  He can command a swarm of small beasts while also taking command of his opponents.

That is the overview of the factions and their masters.  In part 2, I will cover the game itself and the unique ideas it brings to the table.

Weekend Update

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving weekend!

My wife and I took advantage of a Black Friday “Buy 2, Get 1” sale and picked up the Rasputina box, the Sonia Criid box and the Rising Powers book for Malifaux.  We then both did a bit of painting over the weekend.  My wife started painting her Victorias crew with one of the Victorias.  I painted up Rasputina’s Ice Golem and started working on the Witchling Stalkers.

Ice Golem:



Malifaux: Guild vs. Neverborn

Ryan and I played a 25ss game of Malifaux tonight.  I decided to use my Lady Justice lead Guild crew consisting of The Judge, Taelor and two Death Marshals.  Ryan brought Lilith, a Mature Nephilim, a Young Nephilim, and three Terror Tots.

We ended up with a standard 6″ deployment.  I had the Reconnoiter strategy, and Ryan had Slaughter.  We each took one scheme, with Ryan taking Kidnap and I took Hold Ground.

The first couple turns were just positioning.  Ryan grew one Tot into a Young Nephilim, and the Judge was able to damage one young one.  That’s when the fun began.  The Mature Nephilim swooped down on the Judge.  My Death Marshals were able to take down a few of the Young Nephilim, but died to Lilith’s whirlwind.  Lady Justice did a number on the Mature Nephilim, and then proceeded to duke it out with Lilith.

By turn 4, all that was left was a couple Young Nephilim (another Tot had grown), a Tot, Lady J and Taelor.  The Nephilim came close to taking out Lady J, but couldn’t quite finish her off.  She and Taelor went to town on the demons and took them down.

At the end I only had the two left, so I was unable to secure any table quarters, but I had kept the Neverborn out of my deployment zone for 2 points.  Ryan had kidnapped his target (one of the Marshals), but wasn’t able to slaughter enough of my crew, so he only got 2 points as well to force a draw.

Malifaux: Bette Noir

Here is Bette Noir from my Malifaux Resurrectionist crew.

I did something a bit different from the way I normally paint, and I used very little in the way of washes.  I really only used them for a bit on the skin, and the blood on the knives.  Otherwise all of the shading and highlighting was done using layering and blending paints.  I’ve very happy with the way the dress and hair turned out.  It could be a bit smoother between shades, but it still looks good.  The skin got a bit washed out in the picture, there is a bit more shading that apparent here.  As for the face, I’m not terribly fond of the eyes.  Not really sure how to do them better,though.

Overall I am quite happy with the way she turned out.

Malifaux: Nicodem vs. Lilith

Ryan and I played a 25 point game of Malifaux last night.  I was playing Nicodem, Mortimer, a Vulture, Bette Noir, and a Punk Zombie.  Ryan’s crew had Lilith, a Large Nephilim, the Cherub and Hans.

We rolled for strategies, and I ended up with Reconnoiter (secure table quarters) and Ryan got Assassinate.  We then deployed in opposing corners of the table.

We were pretty evenly matched for most of the game.  Hans was causing problems and shooting zombies, but Nico always had a group of zombies around himself as a shield.  I was able to get the Nephilim and Lilith down to one wound, but then Bette spent two activations completely whiffing at here and ended up dying after doing a lot of nothing.  On turn 5, the Nephilim was able to kill Mortimer, but couldn’t get to Nico.  Nico then proceeded to kill the Nephilim with a well executed Decay.  On the final turn, Lilith got into combat with Nico, but was unsuccessful.  Nico proceeded to finish off Lilith with a well placed Cane Strike and then managed a very luck draw to resurrect a second Punk Zombie, allowing me to claim three table quarters at the end of the game.

It was a very fun game, and we are starting to really get the hang of our crews and the game in general.  It was a very close game, but Nico just proved too resilient.  And I was able to get luck to turn my way at the end of the game, snatching the win.

Malifaux Battle Report: Nicoderm vs. Viktorias

My wife and I played only our second game last night. She was playing her Outcasts (Viktorias, 2 Ronin and Taelor) and I was playing my Resurrectionists (Nicoderm, Mortimer, 2 Punk Zombies). The table was 3’x3′ with three small buildings on the left, a group of trees in the near right corner and hills surrounding the area. The center of the board was relatively clear of obstructions.

The Outcasts deployed in the far left corner behind the buildings, and I deployed in the trees. Outcasts were going for Reconnoiter and I was going for a slaughter.

The first couple turns consisted of everyone moving forward, my zombies raced forward to get into combat, while Nico and Mort hung back and tried to generate some zombies with no luck. The gun-Vik moved straight at me with a Ronin, while the other Vik, Ronin and Taelor made a flanking move around the buildings to my left.

I was unable to get my Zombies into combat before the gun-Vik got to them, so my Punks were dead quickly and then Nico was surrounded. He was able to kill the gun-Vik with Decay, and get some Mindless Zombies, but by then it was too late.

At the end all, of the Resurrectionists were wiped out and the Viks were able to secure three of the four table quarters for the win.

Death Marshal #1

The base is not complete, but here is the first of the three Death Marshals.

Things I like:
The coffin turned out looking great.  I love the lighter brown
The gun looks good
The skin tone worked out how I hoped

Things that could be better:
The face turned out a bit chalky
The highlighting on the cloak could be a bit better
There doesn’t seem to be enough color, but I’m not sure what more could be done.

Malifaux: The Judge

I finished up the Judge tonight.  Overall I’m pretty happy with how he turned out.

Things I like:
The sword and the chain
The hair
The face and bandanna

Things that could have gone better:
The drybrushing, especially on the coat
Some of the detailing on the pants

Malifaux: The Judge

As an early birthday present, my wife bought us the Malifaux game rules and two of the boxed sets.  She chose the Viktorias set from the Outcasts faction, and I chose the Lady Justice set from the Guild faction.  The models are beautiful and a good portion of the reason I was interested in the game.  We haven’t actually played a game yet, but I decided to start painting up one of the figures tonight.  I started with the Judge.  Here he is in his partially completed glory.  I still need to do some highlighting and final touches, but I’m really liking the way he’s turned out so far, and he’s been a blast to paint.

the Judge front

the Judge back


Last Three Plays:


House of Paincakes Blog Network
N== Blog Network
The 40k n00b - Warhammer 40k Blog Network