Malifaux: An Introduction

Martin Almand is one of our local gaming enthusiasts and a confirmed Malifaux Nut (even to the point where he is indeed the Local Henchman for the game)! Heavily involved with those lovely people at Wyrd games and always to be found running an event of some sort he is quite the expert, so with out further ado I shall hand this over to him to introduce this awesome game.

At some point in our childhood lives, we would have imagined ourselves as a gun slinging Cowboy (or Cowgirl) or as a noble Brave. Driving the bad guys out of town, saving the kidnapped victim or stopping a train robbery. Maybe you mixed it up a bit and had magical powers, monsters came into town or you found yourself fighting off hordes of mechanical terrors? Well, if any of that rings true, Malifaux is the game for you.

Malifaux is a small scale skirmish game, set in a Wild West / Steampunk / Victorian horror setting. We are currently enjoying the second edition of the game and a lot of the wrinkles from the first edition have been ironed out and what we have now is a very balanced game indeed. You build your crew using Soulstones (think of this as currency), with each player spending up to the limit agreed between the opponents before battle commences, but spend on what? Well everything comes with a cost! Your Masters, henchmen,  and basic crew members have a value depending on their function, upgrades can also be purchased which can take the form of abilities or equipment. Starting games are best to be played around the 25-35 Soulstone mark and the normal games are usually between 35 and 50. Either way you will be able to take a nice amount of models and upgrades.


Now, one Malifaux-BEKof the largest concerns when taking a plunge into a new game is the actual cost, lets be honest most games require a fair bit of investment when you start and this can be a critical choice when taking the plunge. Well the beauty of Malifaux is that you can get started with very little outlay! There are two versions of the main rule book: the first is the big book, which contains the all the rules, schemes, strategies, wave 1 crew details and of course all the fluff. The second smaller book (its A5 size) contains just the rules, schemes and strategies – everything you need to get your game going. Then if you’re buying for just yourself, you can pick up one crew box, which do vary in respect of the total value of Soulstones, but average out at about 30. Lastly, you will need to pick up a Fate deck (more in this in a second) and if you haven’t got one, a way to measure distances in inches. That is it, you are then good to go (well apart from the need of someone to play against but we can’t supply everything)! Over time you will want to expand your crew, to explore the different options and playing styles that new characters bring or simply because you have seen a model you can not live without, but as a starting point the crew boxes are good value with every crew box bringing something different.

As we all know there are a plethora of small scale miniature skirmish games on the market. So, what makes Malifaux unique compared to other skirmish games? Well, not one dice is rolled, ever!


The game has a Wild West feel and as such, the game is played using a deck of cards! This adds a very random feel to the game, more so than getting a target number on a polyhedral dice and places the outcomes of attack and defence on the draw of a card which just fits with the thematic so well! In addition keeping with the theme of a card game in a seedy saloon, you also have a hand of cards drawn at the start of each turn. Why you may ask? So you can cheat fate! It adds a whole new level to your games, as you don’t know what your opponent has in their hand, what gambits they have cooking and whether that wry smile is a bluff or genuine. You will need to have a good poker face to avoid giving the game away! Now, if the dice gods have forsaken you in the past (Simon, I am looking at you here), the card gods may shine upon you.

Wastrels Wallpaper


The game is played over a 3 x 3 area and you will want terrain. You could fight in the desert canyons, in a town, in the bayou, anywhere your imagination can take you. The game has a minimum of five turns and again, if the game is to continue to subsequent turns, you need to use the Fate deck. You alternate activations, so you are not waiting around for your opponent to move all of their crew. Also, this is not a game where the primary aim is to kill your opponents crew, the game is objective based. This is where Schemes and Strategies come in, these are randomised for each game – again using the Fate Deck, and set out what you need to accomplish to win. It is actually possible for each of your crew to be killed and still win, if you achieved your objectives. This gives the game serious depth and makes it much more about how you play rather than having the latest net list.

As with all things miniature the game is driven by the thematic and with Malifaux there is a wonderfully rich back story, which would take ages to explain. However the short version is: Inter dimensional portal discovered, humans doing what they do best and go through, the inhabitants are not happy with the incursion, politics create factions and then the inevitable conflict happens. There is of course, lots more to it, but that’s the quick version! There are seven factions from you to choose from:

The Guild – the recognised government and I use that term loosely. Very cowboy-ishRusty Alyce M2E
The Archanists – rebellion cell / terrorists depending on your point of view. They like technology
The Outcasts – Mercenaries and misfits
The Neverborn – the original inhabitants and not happy they have been ‘invaded’. Magic and monsters are the order of the day.
The Resserrecionists – The undead and summoning crew, always corpses in Malifaux. Fluff wise, some great and nefarious characters.
Ten Thunders – Oriental themed and have infiltrated the other factions in Malifaux for their own gain…
Gremlins – Tiny green terrors, who have started to mimic key Malifaux characters to devastating effect. They also like a drink or six


To sum Malifaux up: easy to learn, fun to play, has amazing fluff (all the stories, Leveticuslike fate, are intertwined) and is actually relatively cheap to get into. I am going to be writing a number of articles over the coming weeks and months, looking at the factions and focusing on some Masters and some, in my opinion, good crew builds.
In addition to this, I am also working with the good people at Chaos Cards to put some bundles together and doing a small write up on each and why certain models work well with each other.

Before I leave you, you can start your Malifaux Journey with some of the stories that appear in the books with the Breachside podcast: these will introduce some of Masters, their backstories and why they do, what they do!

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