And Now For Something Completely Different – Malifaux

The Blue Baron Back with another installment of And Now For Something Completely Different. Up today is Malifaux. I’ve wanted to take some time and get a few games in before posting. I received the mini rule book at Adepticon and read through it. A few friends play and I’ve been borrowing their models to get some games in.

One the first things that jumped out at me was how similar the rule system is to Warmahordes. You’ll find a lot of the same verbage eg. within vs completely within and pulses vs auras. there are melee attack values, ranged attack values, casting values, melee ranges and so on. The game works off of an alternating activation system, the old you go, I go, you go. Each model gets 2 actions. Move and shoot, or move twice. There are also some zero actions which can be done in addition to the 2 normal actions. One of the main draws of this system is the lack of dice. I really can not stress enough how excited this made me. Dice don’t like me, FACT! Instead the system uses a deck of cards called the fate deck. These are numbered 1-13 have four unique suits. There are also two jokers, a black joker (the bad one) and a red joker (the good one). Every turn you draw a hand of cards to be used to cheat fate (see below) or for other types of actions.

Most conflicts are resolved through duels. This is where the attacker flips a card and add the total to a give stat while the defender does likewise. This can be modified by either cheating fate (playing a card from your hand to replace the card flipped) or using a soul stone to flip an additional card. This is added to the total of your other card, where cheating fate replaces a card. There are modifiers which can make you flip additional cards and take the highest / lowest (analogous to Ashlynn’s Roulette feat or the hand of fate spell). Depending on how well you beat your opponent on the duel you will take a positive or negative modifier on to the damage flip. Weapons have three levels or damage: weak, moderate, or severe. The card flipped determines the amount.

As I said above playing Warmachine helped me digest the rules faster. While I’m still not great I can get through a game. I’ve been playing with the Viktorias recently. They are part of the outcast faction which is basically mercenaries. The other factions are the guild (basically Johnny law), the archanists (magic people), the Neverborn (demon monster types), and the resurrectionists (necromancer types). They are different from most leaders as there are 2 of them. They work by playing off each other. Any spells one casts can benefit the other. They can also switch locations or ever pull them to each other. This allows some slingshot type maneuvers.  With them I was running ronin. These are basically female samurai types with a sword and a pistol. The Viktorias have a very expensive spell that can turn a ronin into a Viktoria if one of them should die. I was playing for that one game but didn’t get the cards I needed so it ended up blowing up in face costing me some points. I also had a convict gunslinger who seems to be a bit overpowered. He has the equivalent of gun fighter so he shoots in melee. The part that gets a little over the top is that he can use both action to get 3 pistol shots. His shots have a trigger that if you use a certain suit it gives him a bonus attack. When you have a hand of cards you can sometimes get up to 6 shoots in an activation just decimating models. The last person I  used was Taryn. She’s basically a big tough beat stick. 3 inch range, she gets a free melee attack every activation and ignores armor.

The first game I played was vs my friend jack. He ran McMourning from the Ressurectionists. The guy is melee monster. His character is a mortician that… experiments. Jack ran McMourning with his companion zombie chihuahua, his assistant, a hand full of stitched together dogs and some samurai zombies. The pictures attached are from that game. McMourning was butchering some of the dogs for spare parts and summoned up some flesh golem. I eventually got beaten to a pulp.

My second game was against Rob at the club. He was running Colette. She’s a showgirl. One of her tricks is summoning doves that fly around and explode on all of your nice things. He also ran a pair of dancers with mannequins and an angel type lady who is a combat machine, Kaeris I think. His force had little shooting and I was able to (with some help from the convict) mow down his front line and put him on his heels.

So overall I’ve really been enjoying the game. I put in an order for some guild guys to start my own force. If you have any questions or comments feel free to post them.



  1. Christopher Young Reply

    Malifaux is a fun little game. My love of the Old West balances out the excessive Tim Burton-ness of the setting. The system works well, though sometimes duels take a little longer than I would prefer. All in all I find it to be a excellent “casual” game for me personally… I can’t hope to get enough Malifaux painted up and ready for competitive play(I have heard the more you own the more competitive you can be)when I struggling to get my Hormachine stuff painted, but for casual games I’m all in.

  2. Dustcrusher Reply

    Competitiveness in Malifaux is relative because the game is balanced by faction. In other words, at the high-level tournaments, most players will have at least two Masters or Henchmen of their faction if not more.

    The way the official tournament-style pre-game sequence works, you declare a faction (Guild, Resurrectionist, Arcanist, Neverborn, or Outcast), determine Strategies (the main objective), hire crews, choose Schemes (secondary objectives that can be revealed or remain hidden), then deploy. Yes, that’s right, you can tailor your crew to the strategy. Because of this, having more than one Master/Henchman helps cover your bases. The downside is, as Christopher said, it costs a bit more to cover one’s bases (I would argue it’s probably not any worse than competitive HoMachine, much less any current GW game).

    Baron’s crew is a great base for the Viktorias- 3 Ronin, Taelor, and a Convict Gunslinger. It’s exactly how I started my Viks crew.

    One small point of note- Rapid Fire and its analogues Flurry (melee) and Furious Casting (spells) require the discard of one card from your hand. They are still quite powerful (especially when the Gunslinger’s player has a handful of Mask suited cards) but that comes at the cost of a smaller hand for later.

    The informal straw poll among people who demo or play Malifaux is that it scratches a different itch- it’s familiar yet new. I’m hoping to have some Malifaux articles posted on this very site soon- feel free to shoot me any questions you have.

  3. Pingback: Why play Malifaux?

Leave a Reply

Connect with Facebook


captcha *