Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Babies, Belles and Cyborgs, oh my! A Malifaux review.

I had a chance to play my first battle of Malifaux this week. First, a word of warning: I haven't read the rulebook completely yet.  After watching a small game between the Redchappel Gang and the Deathmarshals I was able to play a multi-player game involving Seamus and his crew (Redchappel Gang), the Legion of Sorrow and my own Miners and Steamfitters Union.

Malifaux is a 28mm skirmish scale table top game produced by Wyrd Miniatures.  From their websiteBased in an alternate Earth, Malifaux uses gothic, steampunk, victorian horror with a dose of the wild west to inject fun and depth into the magical lawlessness of a world rife with monsters, necropunks, manmachine hybrids, gunslingers, and power-hungry politicos. Actively using character-driven stories to define the world of Malifaux, seek your fortune in this fast paced and brutal 32mm tabletop miniature skirmish game. Assemble your crew and stake your claim! 

No longer do you have to trust the fickle fate of a dice roll, in Malifaux you use cards, a Fate Deck, as you lead your Crew to victory with strategy, tactics and resource management, and if that isn't enough, you can Cheat Fate. Looking for scalability? Malifaux has it. Jump directly into a Scrap with 4 - 6 miniatures, ensuring a quick and brutal fight with each character having unique skills and abilities. Want to escalate it? Take it to a Brawl, bring in additional members of your faction or hire out mercenaries to do your dirty work.

You buy your force using soulstones (we played a 25 soulstone scrap).  Your master (gang leader) is free. Each other model in your force costs soulstones.  My Soulborg Executioner costs 10 and an Arachnid Swarm is 9 soulstones.  Any soulstones not spent on models are can be used in the game to affect card flips and are represented by counters on the table.

My first impression is that the action resolution mechanic used in the game is unique, fun and works well.  There are no dice in this game, instead  you use a 54 card fate deck (a regular deck of cards with the jokers can be used with no problems).  When you would normally roll a dice in other games you turn over the top card on your deck, usually adding it to your relevant model stat, your opponent does the same and the high total wins (ties usually go to the acting model).  The card flipped can be changed by playing a card out of a pool of cards you have in hand or using soulstones.

Turn order is determined each turn by the flip of a card.  High card activates a model completing all of its actions then the next player activates a model, etc. until all players have activated all their models.  At the end of the turn the played cards are shuffled back into the fate deck.

Each model has a playing card sized sheet listing its stats and special rules for easy reference.  The thoughest part of the game is that each model has a series of special rules and unique abilites.  Learning how to use them and and how they interact with other models abilities can be daunting.  However, the more you use them the easier it is to remember.

Overall I really like this game.  The game mechanic, fate deck instead of dice, is elegant and simple.  It enhances the theme, looks nice on the table top and most importantly works very well.  The models I have seen so far are well sculpted and nicely detailed.  Many of the models are multi-piece castings and take a bit of time to assemble.  The small number of models needed makes this game very accessible for a modest cost.   This game is easily played with only a starter box with no additional purchases needed.  A highly recommend buy.