From Necropunks to Ice Golems to Nephilim to Gremlins, Malifaux Has It All

A tabletop game with surprising depth of strategy, Malifaux uses cards instead of dice - elegant weapons for a more civilised age

In my previous article, I mentioned how I was recently introduced to the tabletop skirmish strategy game Malifaux. Since then I’ve collected a few small armies, or “crews”, along with a few friends.

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One of the main differences between Malifaux and the average tabletop game is the use of cards instead of dice. No dice rolls are used, although dice are still useful as counters.

Instead, each player has a Fate Deck, which is essentially a normal 54 card deck, and cards are drawn from the top of the deck to generate random numbers. The main difference with this method as opposed to dice, is that you also keep a hand of 6 cards which can be used to replace the card you flipped. This is called Cheating Fate, and it adds a whole new layer of strategy to the game, because you must decide when to use your precious high cards to Cheat Fate, and when to save them for a more important flip.

The turn system is based on ‘activations’; each turn players alternate activating a single model. Models get two general Action Points (AP) to use during their activation (although some get slightly more or less) which are used to do everything from walking to striking to casting spells and more complex actions.

Once a model has activated, the other player has a chance to activate one of their models, until all models have activated and the turn is over.

How to spend your model’s precious AP and picking your order of activation are crucial concepts to the strategic nature of Malifaux. Do you activate a currently unimportant model to wait to respond to your opponent? Or do you strike before he has a chance to react? This system differentiates significantly from typical turn based systems that other tabletop games use and I find it adds a lot to Malifaux.

One of my favourite aspects of Malifaux is the cinematic, flavoursome feel the game has. Because each crew typically consists of only around 5-15 models, each individual model is vital to the outcome of the game. One of the main reasons I think the game feels so flavoursome is that unique models are commonplace, especially Masters, who lead each crew. All the Masters have very specific, unique play styles which can be complemented by the minions you choose to field with them in game. Masters range from a gentleman necromancer to a steampunk revolutionary to a little boy and his gigantic demon friend.

Each Master, along with their minions, come from one of 6 factions: The Guild, The Neverborn, The Arcanists, The Resurrectionists, The Outcasts, and The Ten Thunders. Each faction has around 5 Masters and perhaps 50 different minions. While each faction has a cohesive, overall theme, it’s the Masters that really bring the unique flavour to each crew.

Malifaux is a table miniatures game with excellent layers of strategy and well themed battles. If you’re a fan of tabletop games definitely check it out, and if you’re not, maybe Malifaux will be the beginning of a new passion. It’s that good.

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From Necropunks to Ice Golems to Nephilim to Gremlins, Malifaux Has It All
A tabletop game with surprising depth of strategy, Malifaux uses cards instead of dice - elegant weapons for a more civilised age

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Author
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Zombie Rogue
Always looking for something new to enjoy in gaming, I find myself exploring everything from MMOs to CoD to indie games to the tabletop.