Tuesday, October 5, 2010
All right, I know it’s been a while since you heard from me, but I’ve been busy getting ready for and taking my GRE. You guys are important, but so is my future. Anyway, I’m back and you can expect more regular posts from me. So this time I’m going to cover a slightly different game: Malifaux.
First thing you have to understand is that while 40k and Malifaux are both tabletop miniature games; they are in many ways polar opposites in what they try to accomplish. 40k puts you in charge of an army, where you lead large units of similar dudes against other large armies. Malifaux has you heading up a crew of only a handful of models and is all about the special tricks and abilities each individual model has. Due to the large differences between the games a direct comparison doesn’t work at all, so I’m just going to discuss Malifaux on its own.
Like I said before Malifaux is all about the crazy rules and abilities each individual model has. Because of this a game is usually played with each player having their Leader character and only four or five other models on the board. Much more emphasis is placed on unique character models than regular generic dudes. This supports the games back and forth turn structure where one player makes his actions with a model and then the other player, and so on until all models have been activated. And don’t expect models to be similar, each model has its own, abilities, triggers, and spells. The sheer number of things that a single model can do is awesome and allows some serious flexibility in what you actions you take with them.
The other thing that differentiates Malifaux from every other game out there is that it uses playing cards rather than dice. That’s right: there are no dice to be rolled in Malifaux. Everything is determined by flipping cards like the card game War and adding the model’s base stat to the value of the flipped card. Adding an element of strategy to this is the ability to “cheat fate”. At the beginning of every round a hand of six cards is drawn and can be used to replace flipped cards. This can be done by both the attacker and the defender allowing for tough choices and additional strategies. Also flipping cards against an opponent can be fun in and of itself. Even the suit matters, as each faction is aligned with a certain suit and flipping the right suit is necessary for certain spells and can allow special trigger abilities to go off and do all sorts of additional effects.
Malifaux also has one of the best feeling backgrounds I’ve ever seen to it. It takes place in an alternate Victorian steampunk horror setting with large helpings of Lovecraft, western, magic, and just about every other genre you can think of thrown in. Reading about the factions and the characters is hilarious. When one of the leaders is a leprechaun looking necromancer with a large bladed .45 flintlock pistol who leads a small army of undead southern belle prostitutes you know you are on to something.
Malifaux is a lot of fun to play and combining the cheap prices per model and inexpensive faction packs with the low number of models needed to play its one of the cheapest tabletop games you can find. All the rules for both the game and the models can be found in a single core rulebook (expansion books will follow with new rules and characters for each faction, in fact one of them is already out) that costs about the same as a single 40k codex. Everyone should give this game a try, the flavor and large number of abilities makes every game fun and potentially hilarious.