Sell me on Malifaux!

Chikahiro

Neo•Geo Fanboy
Validated User
#1
So, one of my other Warmachine friends expressed interest in Malifaux, but I know nothing about it for the most part. Its a skirmish game, so I'm guessing I can get into it quick and relatively cheaply, right? How are the minis? The rules? What is the game like? Any good, generalized ideas about the factions?
 

Per Andersson

Tired and emotional
Validated User
#2
The miniatures are largely fantastic, though they may be a bit fiddly to put together.
The game uses an alternating activation system, and uses a card-draw mechanism instead of dice.
 

gribble

Registered User
Validated User
#3
I started off with GW games back in my early teens (a bit of fantasy and 40k, but mainly the "specialist" games - Epic, Blood Bowl, Battlefleet Gothic, etc). I moved to Warmachine/Hordes soon after release, and stuck with that through 3 editions. I'm mainly a casual/fluff based player, so my WM/H lists were always very flavourful and not especially optimised. Since late Mk 2 and into Mk 3, the only games I could get were either tournaments (where I'd invariably get crushed by highly tuned and largely non-fluffy lists intended for tournament play), or "casual" games which were really stealth tournament preparation, in which I faced largely the same lists as in the tournaments. That combined with the death of the Press Gang and PP forums, PP massively dropping the ball on distribution and retail here in the EU, and general fatigue with the game resulted in me taking a break and looking at alternatives around a year ago. I'd always been fascinated by Malifaux, and decided to give it a crack, and I can honestly say I've never had more fun playing a miniatures game.

What makes the game so much fun? Here's what I really enjoy about it:
* Alternating activations, so you don't have the long periods of downtime you get with 40k and WM/H where you sit back and watch your opponent take their turn. I always feel really engaged for the whole game.
* Every game, even casual ones, is objective based. The two players will have one main shared objective (the strategy), plus two smaller objectives (the schemes) chosen from a shared pool. The players don't have to choose the same schemes, and they are chosen in secret, so while you know the pool that your opponent has chosen from, you don't know specifically which schemes they have chosen. The game revolves around trying to score the strategy, deny your opponent from scoring the strategy, score your schemes, and figuring out and denying your opponent from scoring their schemes. You can be tabled by your opponent and still win.
* Small scale, typically 6-10 models per side, which are chosen after you know your opponents faction and master (kind of like the warcaster/warlock in WM/H, though they don't typically control other models and there is no sudden death caster kill), and after you know the strategy and pool of schemes. So every game can be highly tailored to your opponent and objectives, without needing to choose from 2-3 "lists".
* Card-based, not dice-based, and you have a hand of cards you can use to "cheat" a better card for crucial flips. So although there is still a random element, I always feel much more in control of the game in Malifaux than I do in dice-based games. When I really need to succeed at something I probably can, so the game is much more about tactics and resource management than about perfect measurement and probability management.

The models are generally very good. They are all hard plastic (like GW models), so IMO much superior to anything PP is producing right now. They can be a little fiddly to assemble, but IMO far, far, less tedious than cleaning up PP soft plastic, and better than having to pin resin + metal models. The detail on them is typically less than the latest GW plastics, but they still hold a fair amount of detail and tend to have very dynamic and interesting poses.

You can start very cheaply. Most starter boxes are around 25 GBP (which I guess is around 40 USD? Not sure about exact US retail prices), which gets you a master and a thematic crew of 4-6 models for them which totals around 25-30 soulstones (basically points). That's enough to play, although tournament games are typically at the 35 or 50 soulstone level, so you'll want to pick up a few more models to give you some options and let you play at the higher point levels.

For me the most important thing is that it has a deep and interesting background. Basically a Victorian-era kind of steampunk, kind of necropunk, kind of "magic as technology" setting. Making thematic / fluffy crews is not only possible, they can be just as tournament viable as less thematic crews. You can read about each faction, their history, masters and a bit about playstyle here: https://www.wyrd-games.net/malifaux (it's probably easier to just point you there rather than try to replicate it myself).

Wyrd is also really great at customer service and community engagement. They frequently have contests (painting, etc) online and yearly events which change the story based on the outcome of RPG sessions and Malifaux games. They interact a lot with their fans and have a really nice irreverent sense of humour (especially in relation to their games). They release old fiction as a regular podcast for free so you can catch up on the stories, and have a free monthly e-magazine. They often have open (or at least semi-open) beta playtesting of important products.

Speaking of which, one thing worth noting is that Malifaux 3rd edition is currently in beta playtesting... so it might not be the best idea to buy heavily into M2E. You can read a bit about the changes here: https://www.wyrd-games.net/table-flip (the link is a good example of that irreverent sense of humour after M3E was leaked a couple of weeks early and they went into damage control mode to officially announce it...), but largely it's a streamlining / rebalancing edition rather than one with wholesale changes. You'll generally be ok with the existing starters, but be aware that four masters (Lilith, Collodi, Ramos and Nicodem) are officially dead/removed from standard play (although there will be rules to continue using them), there are some new M3E masters, some masters are changing faction (most notably some of the Ten Thunders masters which were previously dual faction are becoming single faction - some no longer Ten Thunders as a result), and some models which worked well with crews in M2E might not go so well together in M3E (though again, as long as you stick to starters you shouldn't have any problems there).

Finally, it's also worth noting there are two related games by Wyrd (technically three if you consider Puppet Wars, though that is much more of a stand alone boardgame using similar mechanics): The Other Side (which covers larger scale battles as the armies of Earth start to get more involved in Malifaux affairs) and Through the Breach (a RPG set in Malifaux which has a ton of really interesting mechanics around character creation and advancement). Both are also card based, using similar mechanics - though slightly tailored for their respective game sizes.

Phew... that was a lot longer than intended, but I hope it is useful! In summary - try Malifaux, I don't think you will be disappointed!
 
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enoto

E, not O.
Validated User
#4
I played a couple test games of Malifaux against myself. It struck me as being almost exactly as complicated and rules-dense as WM/H despite the drastically lower model count. At the time I was heavily into WM/H and looking for something lighter to play when my brain needed a break, so it wasn't what I was looking for at the time; I'd try it again, though. I thought the rules were fun, the objective based scenarios were refreshing and the card system was clever.
 

gribble

Registered User
Validated User
#5
I played a couple test games of Malifaux against myself. It struck me as being almost exactly as complicated and rules-dense as WM/H despite the drastically lower model count. At the time I was heavily into WM/H and looking for something lighter to play when my brain needed a break, so it wasn't what I was looking for at the time; I'd try it again, though. I thought the rules were fun, the objective based scenarios were refreshing and the card system was clever.
As much as I like Malifaux, "light" is not a word I'd use to describe it. It's very different from WM/H, but certainly no lighter or less complex. I'd argue in terms of the strategy and the amount of thinking you do, it's probably much more complex than WM/H (which tends to have relatively simple scenarios, and failing that you can always fall back to caster kill). Malifaux strategies and schemes tend to be a bit more complex and typically involve more thought to achieve than "put all my dudes there and stop the enemy from killing them or putting his dudes here/there", and there is no "easy out" in Malifaux.
 

Chikahiro

Neo•Geo Fanboy
Validated User
#6
I guess I'll need to wait for 3rd edition then. Privateer Press (anecdotally) had quite a fallout from WM Mark 3. Didn't affect our local players (we quite like it), but that's life :/
 

Ikoma

Registered User
Validated User
#7
One thing to point out: this game is very terrain heavy. It needs it to function well. Large swaths of open board can severely tilt the effectiveness of certain crews, so just a heads up before Anyone plays on a mostly empty board and people start saying how broken the ortegas are.
 

enoto

E, not O.
Validated User
#8
Hopefully the OP doesn't mind too much, but while we're talking Malifaux, what's people's take on the companion game, The Other Side?
 

enoto

E, not O.
Validated User
#10
It's Wyrd's larger-army game (50ish dudes per side, 4x6 table) set at the same time as Malifaux, but on Earth (hence the title). It uses a Fate deck. About 50ish dudes per side, preassembled minis.

Here's the KS page. It looks like it shipped out to backers in Q4 last year.
 
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