Monday, 28 November 2011

Malifaux: Getting Started

Malifaux has been gaining popularity all around the world at a pretty impressive pace over the last couple of years along with various other 'new' wargames like Warmachine, Hordes, Infinity and so on.

Some people go to play them having been put off by Games Workshops prices, some are bored of everyone seemingly playing Marines, some simply think these games look cool and fancy adding a little variety to their gaming circle.

I fall into the latter of those categories. Three other guys from my gaming circle have been mentioning it for a while now, with another couple showing some slightly more vague interest, so it was that we took the plunge together.

Here's how we went on and what I found as the pros and cons of starting a whole new system.

Starting Off

The advantage of games like Malifaux and Infinity and, to a slightly lesser extent Warmahordes, is the required model count and the accessibility to getting started. Sure you could play 40k with a £25 investment on each side but Tac Marines vs Death Company wouldn't be the most fun!
Malifaux do several great starter boxes for each of the factions which give you a solid core list to play from. We chose the following:

My choice - Colette's Showgirls
The Dreamer' Nightmares
Lady Justice's Peace Keepers
Lilith's Brood
All of these cost about £20-£25 each and give similar sized starting forces. I got two clam shell packs at the same time so my whole start up cost (for essentially a complete crew) was £32 - the price of one tank in 40k!

We chose these guys based purely on the 'rule of cool' - the ones we liked the look of the best. This had mixed results. Something we didn't realise was the different levels of complexity of varying crews. If you're thinking of starting Malifaux I (in hindsight) recommend  a little reading first.

Secondly, models are nice but you can't do a game without rules. Malifaux has a full sized rulebook which you can get at all the usual places but they also have a smaller version, minus all the fluff for about £9 in most game shops. I got mine for £7.50 (do love a discount) from Square Orange Games - that link will take you right to it.

So, total start up cost for a new game? £39.50. Good huh? I did add a fate deck (it's played with a pack of cards instead of dice) but you can play with a regular card deck should you wish.

Do A Little Research

Pull My Finger is a really good resource for everything and anything Malifaux. They have a good starter guide here which covers some of the basics and, if you scroll down a little, a list of recommended and not-so-recommended crews for learning the game with.

The recommended crew list is something I wish I'd seen previously! Note that not recommended are Colette and the Dreamer crews...if only we'd known.

Let me explain this a little better. Everyone in Malifaux has a stat card they come with that looks like this:

Everyone has Abilities (such as being fast, or good at close combat), Triggers (things which trigger if certain criteria are met), Actions (like using soulstones - the magic power source) and Spells (kinda obvious?). A basic card would have maybe two of each of these and the flip side looks about two thirds empty. Here's Colette's:

The complexity doesn't come from things making no sense, they do, it's that there's about 20 things to remember for that one model per turn and this slows the game down and really complicates your learning curve.

Now, Colette is a Master, and all Master cards are more complex than basic models but compared to the other crews we started she has by far the most going on! The more complex crews, like the showgirls, rely a lot more on synergy between models and little tricks you can figure out once you've mastered the rules. The more 'basic' crews are more about moving forward and attacking stuff (though still have cool tricks up their sleeves). This means that the whole of Colette's crew work together and all have complex cards - there's so much to cross reference my brain melted a little!

Anyway, nothing I can't work with - if you like the models enough it's really worth persevering, the rules do start to make sense and, as long as you have a reasonably patient opponent and a half decent memory, it's still an O.K way of learning the required basics.

Rising Powers - A Rules Expansion With
Colette's Mannequins on the cover

Praise The Internet!

 The other place that, if you're already looking into Malifaux, you've probably visited already is their excellent website. is a really great site whether you're a beginner or not. It has links to faction information, brief backgrounds for all the masters, the history of Malifaux, their webstore (it's American though for all you Brits) and, maybe most importantly, their forums. There's lots of discussions and tips for how best to expand you initial box sets on here along with examples of preview models, scenery building, rules discussions and tactica. Once you understand the basics there's hours of reading here!

I think that'll do me for my getting started points. Everything else is covered on the websites I linked so check them out and read up on whatever it is that catches your eye!

I'll come back by the end of the week with a quick look at the models (which are awesome).

Laters all!

P.S - Adding this in as an edit. One thing I forgot to mention is there is a Malifaux podcast which is quite interesting, even to my noob ears, The Aethervox so go check that out on iTunes.

Also, Malcontent who commented below has a whole section of his blog for Malifaux and, if you scroll down through all the pretty models (Kirai Avatar....) there's his own intro to the game with a chunk more background than I mention here so go read!
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