Thursday, 6 February 2014

Malifaux: A Beginner's Tale, Episode 1 - So What Is Malifaux Anyway?

© Wyrd Games

This is the first of my Malifaux: A Beginner's Tale articles. These are designed to help an absolute beginner (newbie, noob, n00b or any number of other silly terms) start playing and enjoying the game.

Let's start with defining some terms, shall we? Malifaux's creators, Wyrd Games, describe Malifaux as a 32mm tabletop miniature skirmish game. Right, five terms: 32mm; tabletop; miniature; skirmish and game.

Making the grand assumption that anyone other than me reads this blog, I'm assuming that those people already have some interest and knowledge of miniature gaming in general. If not, then very briefly, miniature gaming usually makes use of models to represent armies, gangs, spaceships and what have you. Generally speaking, two or more players then use these pieces to fight a battle - the game - of some description.

These take place either over a beautifully modelled board with custom terrain, or as is more likely the case if you're starting out, a table with improvised terrain (books and drinks cans are the classic example) hence the term tabletop.

The 32mm refers to the scale of the miniatures. There are various ways of measuring, but this is an indication of how tall an 'average' or human sized model is at that scale. Games Workshop - many people's entry point into miniature gaming - use 28mm scale for their 40k and Fantasy systems, but with exaggerated or 'heroic' body proportions. Some games, such as Hawk Wargames' Dropzone Commander, use even smaller scales, like 10 or 15mm, and are usually designed to represent very large engagements.

Which brings us nicely on to skirmish. The back of the original Malifaux rulebook says you could play with just 4-6 models, and expand to play with more. This is indicative of a skirmish level game. Even though the average size of Malifaux games has increased since the game first released, it is still focused on small groups of models. By comparison, a game like 40k can require dozens (or even hundreds) of models to play a game at the standard level.

The other thing that Wyrd say about their creation is that it is character driven. This means that each model in a game is an individual, with differing and sometimes unique characteristics and abilities to use in a game. All the characters in the game have a back story and a reason to be there. This is a major selling point of the game to me, since it is more interesting to have models that not only look characterful but also act in a variety of ways rather than as just one part of a larger unit as they might do in some other games.

There is one more thing to consider about Malifaux before I wrap up, and that is the way the game functions - its core mechanics. The vast majority of tabletop games are played using dice to determine the random outcomes of game actions and effects. Not so in Malifaux. Rather, a deck of cards, called a Fate Deck, is used for this purpose, and as a form of resource management. This gives the player a little more control of certain outcomes.
© Wyrd Games

Now, in order to avoid falling prey to the Wall-of-Text monster, that's where we'll leave it for now. The next episode will dig a little deeper into how the game plays, what you need to play it and how else it sets itself apart from other tabletop miniatures games (like the fact that you can still win even if all your models are dead!).

I hope someone finds this useful!

See you Through The Breach...

The Scribe

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