Game of the Month Feb '12 - Malifaux - Wargaming Forum and Wargamer Forums
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-06-12, 08:40 PM Thread Starter
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Default Game of the Month Feb '12 - Malifaux

  • Foreword
  • Brief Introduction to Malifaux
  • The Creators
  • Background
  • The Game
  • The Miniatures
  • My Rating


You are reading the 'Game of the Month - February 2012' review. This months chosen system is 'Malifaux'. During this review I intend to inform you of a little bit about the background of this game, the company that makes it and the game itself as well as having a look at some of the miniatures that make the game what it is.

If there are any comments or criticism about the layout/display of the review, the theme of the review or the review itself then please - let your thoughts be known as all opinions will be taken into account and considered to help improve this monthly feature.

Brief Introduction to Malifaux

Malifaux is a skirmish miniature game set in a horror/steampunk environment in a dystopian city in a parallel world. Players build a force of around 5-7 figures from a specific faction and battle it out against their opponents. A force is usually composed of at least one master and some minions.

The Creators

Malifaux was created by the company Wyrd Miniatures. In 2009 Malifaux was released as Wyrd's premiere game. Wyrd Miniatures is owned and founded by Nathan Caroland and Eric Johns and released their first miniatures in 2005. Here is a very brief history about the founding of the company:

Originally Posted by Nathan Caroland
I talked to a lot of people, asked questions ceaselessly, got told more than once that the market was saturated and to not peddle my wares or questions where not wanted, and basically to pack it up before I got started. Good thing I'm hard headed. Eventually I figured out what I needed and got to work with a lot of great individuals who not only answered my questions but supported my quest to create interesting miniatures. I'll be honest, I was lucky as I managed to talk to the right people, find the sculptors that suited my needs, and got some fantastic painters to give those miniatures just the right look before unleashing them on the world in December 2005.


As I have already said previously, Malifaux is set on an alternate Earth and uses gothic, steampunk, Victorian horror as well as using a dose of wild west influence in order to inject fun and depth into the magical lawlessness of the world of Malifaux and the monsters, necropunks, man-machine hybrids, gunslingers, and power-hungry politicos that can be found within.

Here is an extract from some of the background story for Malifaux. If you wish to read more, click here.

"Whether whispered in the rumors of the general populace or spoken in the secretive, hushed tones of the Guild, it is a word always invoked with fear.

For years mankind had grappled with the evident decline of magic. Even the greatest of practitioners found it increasingly difficult to perform the most basic of spells. Some argued that we had become too dependent on magic; that we should welcome a more mundane state. On the other side of the debate it was pointed out that practitioners of magic, especially those whose talents were in the healing arts, improved the quality of life for everyone.

In 1787, the most powerful practitioners of the day came together and united themselves in the pursuit of new sources of power. Although the process of how they discovered a new power is still a closely guarded secret, they found a world just outside of our existence, separated from this world by a thin barrier - a barrier that they could perhaps open. The raw magical energy that emanated through this barrier was too tempting to resist.

In an unprecedented move - some would say an act of desperation - the magicians worked their greatest magic and tore a hole through this barrier between the two worlds. The destruction resulting from the aetheric feedback was massive. Many of the weaker practitioners participating in the ritual fell lifeless instantly. Other, more powerful, magicians felt their magical capabilities stripped from them as the hole - the Breach - tore open. The city surrounding the ritual site was flattened, the life force of its inhabitants ripped from their bodies as aetheric equilibrium was established between the two worlds. Those that survived found their powers increased many fold simply from their proximity to The Breach.

They say that every great deed requires a great sacrifice; both were accomplished that fateful day.

It was officially called The Breach of The Great Boundary by the magicians - the Breach to everyone else. A ragged hole torn from the very fabric of reality itself, the darkened tunnel extended ninety feet wide, sixty feet into the air, its surface shimmering like a mirage in the heat. A cold wind blew through the Breach and brought with it the faint smell of ancient death. Exploratory teams were quickly gathered to scout this new land and bring back some of its secrets.

On the other side of the Breach these teams found a large city. It was surprisingly similar to many of our own on the surface. However, those that crossed the Breach that fateful day could tell this new world was vastly different as well. Many of the buildings bore strange writing, some carved into the brick facades, others painted onto wooden doors. After searching the City for two weeks, not a single living thing was found, not a trace of human or animal. With no signs of battle: no corpses, no destruction, it was as if the inhabitants had simply disappeared.

Many learned scholars at that time were allowed entrance to this strange new world to study the signs and symbols in an effort to learn what may have happened to the residents. After months of research, they learned that the City had been called Malifaux. The signs and symbols on the bricks and doorways were simple store signs: merchant, tailor, blacksmith. Other signs, though, seemed puzzling; for example, Death Surgeon and Mechanical Magics were but two of the oddly titled storefronts the explorers and scholars were able to translate. Throughout these explorations, no records could be found that gave any indication of what had befallen the previous citizens.

The explorers moved farther out, seeking answers, but also seeking the source of the aetheric power they felt around them. Several miles from the City, they found a small settlement that could only be a mining town. There were a few wooden buildings, many of them crumbling. They discovered a large hole cut into the hillside just west of the town with a shaft leading down. Their explorations soon turned up a gemlike substance that radiated aether - the magical energy this world seemed awash in and that Earth desperately needed. The stones came in a variety of shades of white, some more powerful than others, but within them there seemed to be a store of latent magical energy a magician could easily tap for his own purposes.

The scholars found references to these magical stones in old manuscripts. The manuscripts spoke of great power within them, but also great danger. The practitioners didn't care about any danger; they wanted power. There was a rush to harvest these stones in great quantity as magicians of all skill and specialty could possibly use them to power their magic. Those working with the stones also noticed an unusual effect - as they tapped into a stone's power it grew dark, as its magical energy was gradually depleted. Eventually, and purely by accident, it was discovered that a stone's magical energy could be replenished when it was brought into close proximity of a dying person. This curious effect earned the stones their popular nickname - Soulstones.

After six months of exploration, the Breach was opened to the general populace. A thriving trade was established Earthside for those daring enough to harvest Soulstones. The crumbling boomtowns away from the City of Malifaux were rebuilt, and those willing to brave the harsh environment populated these cities to work the Soulstone mines. Many magicians moved to Malifaux in order to study this new world's unusual magic, and with them came families and servants - an entire population.

Life in Malifaux continued in this fashion for little more than a decade.

The salvation of magic was at hand."


Malifaux is tabletop miniatures skirmish wargame in which players collect, build and paint models that represent the factions of the city of Malifaux. The players then fight against opponents 'crews' for control of the Soulstones found within the world.

As stated towards the beginning of the review, crews are composed of at least one master and some minions. A master is able to use their control of the Soulstones to manipulate the course of events in the world that is around them and in doing so, change their own fate. The minions can be a variety of creatures or beings that simply serve their masters in the fight for the Soulstones. Players are also able to include henchmen in their crew, who are able to act as replacements for their master in specialised crews, or as an addition to the crew as well as their master. Henchmen and masters also have the ability to use totems as additions to their magic powers which are able to support them in different ways.

Malifaux uses a card mechanic in which numbers are randomly generated by drawing numbered cards from a "Fate Deck", each of which has different suits to represent one of the threads of aetheric power magicians use for their powers. When a model attempts to perform one of these actions the player will often need to flip a card for it to determine whether that action is passed or is unsuccessful. Every turn each player draws a hand of cards. You may cheat fate with your cards, replacing the flipped card with one from your hand. In this way you can influence a model's actions you deem to be important which is one of the number of mechanics that are used within the game that allow for manipulating the drawing of one of the cards. Soulstones are used to purchase your Crew and to purchase benefits to your Master during the game.

Counters are often used in the Malifaux game and can easily be represented by a 30mm base for counters and a 50mm base for blasts. Wyrd also say glass nuggets can also easily be used to represent soulstones within the game, glass pieces from Mancala would be perfect to represent these.

Masters also have the ability to transform themselves into Avatars, each one representing a certain aspect of that particular masters personality.

An example stat card

The game has five different factions each with their own miniatures and rules for use within the game. Each miniature in Malifaux has a statcard that is supplied with it with the rules that you need to use it in the game. The factions are:

The Guild

"The people want us here; they're just afraid to say out loud that they're scared and need our protection." - Abner Mathiesen, Prefect Monarch of the Guild

The Guild is the system of law in Malifaux. They have a fascist control over the city and they are more concerned with the production of soulstone than they are with the safety of the inhabitants of the city. They offer a mix of ranged and melee combat and aesthetically possesses a number of Wild West motifs.

The Arcanists

"There is nothing here but smoke and mirrors." - Colette Du Bois

They are, as the name suggests, practitioners of magical powers. The Miners and Steamfitters Union is run by one of Malifaux' prominent Arcanists, Ramos. The Miners and Steamfitters Union is an organization that represents the labor class in the city. The Arcanists main strength is the fact that they have access to the use of a large variety of spells and they also boast a number of mechanical and elemental constructs as well as beast minions.

The Resurrectionists

"People say I hate the living; it's not true. I just happen to see the potential inside all people, those great things anyone can do if they arent trapped in their own consciousness and morals. And when I unlock that potential, death is a side-effect, I cant help that." - Doctor Douglas McMourning

They are necromancers who command forces of undead. Instead of being obsessed with the collection of the soulstones as other factions are, they tend to loot the ruins of Malifaux for magical devices and tomes of knowledge. They have very strong and resilient characters when playing the game and they also have the ability to absorb large amounts of damage and to raise dead models as additional combatants in their favour.

The Neverborn

"Men come to me to learn their fate. What they don't learn is that I'm the one pulling the strings." - Zoraida

They are the native inhabitants of the world of Malifaux. They are nightmarish monsters that terrorize the human settlers in Malifaux. Their existence is linked with a calamity that occurred in the world's ancient past. They are known for their speed and abilities that confound their enemies. They possess few ranged attacks but are very deadly in melee combat.

The Outcasts

"Why we eating horse again? You know i likes the piggies better." - Gremlin

They are a group of beings unassociated with the major factions in Malifaux, however some of the Outcasts are also mercenaries that are available to be hired by the other factions for use in their crews in the game.

The Miniatures

The miniatures for Malifaux are highly detailed 32mm metal miniatures of a high quality created by Wyrd Miniatures. All miniatures are supplied unassembled and unpainted.

Here are some example miniatures:

The Guild - Death Marshalls

The Arcanists - Steamborg Executioner Class

The Resurrectionists - Nicodem the Undertaker

The Neverborn - Teddy

The Outcasts - Renegade Steamfitter Johan


Malifaux products are available to purchase at many places, the following online stores are just some of those places.

Wyrd Miniatures
Wayland Games
Arcane Miniatures
Maelstrom Games

My Rating

For each Game of the Month review I will give a rating of what I think the game is like (1 being poor, 10 being excellent). This rating is entirely my own opinion.

My Rating - 10/10 - Malifaux is, understandably, not everyone's cup of tea due to the 'Wyrd' nature of it. However, I am one of those people that thinks this game is brilliant. It's wonderfully strange and unusual and the miniatures are fantastic (again, this is just my opinion and I know of lots of people who have the complete opposite opinion of me on this). It's a bit of a love-hate game really. I just find it very wierd (in a good way) and a very unique game in setting with good minis, good rules, good fluff etc.

Thank you for reading!

All images property of Wyrd Miniatures.


Last edited by Red Corsairs; 02-06-12 at 08:43 PM.
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-06-12, 09:21 PM
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I play the teddy bear attack squad. XD

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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-06-12, 09:54 PM
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Have to say, it looks very interesting.... Especially the Neverborn and Teddy... I'd have to play those if I did play this game. lol.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-06-12, 10:16 PM
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I have to say that the backstory really appealed to me. I really like the Weird West vibe that I get from it. I'll probably be checking out the website and other links soon.

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I like the look of the Arcanists, particularly the Executioner and Steam Bots.


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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-07-12, 11:38 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Dicrel Seijin View Post
I have to say that the backstory really appealed to me. I really like the Weird West vibe that I get from it. I'll probably be checking out the website and other links soon.
Yeah the fluff is good, there's more fluff on the link I provided just before the extract posted.

Thanks for the rep GrizBe

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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-07-12, 11:43 AM
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have to admit im not interested in the game, but some of the malifaux miniatures are really cool, the undertaker there is awesome and quite like the steamborg (spidery dude).
but by far this is the most amazing model ever made

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Originally Posted by bitsandkits View Post
The last time I was at our flgs, my friends kept trying to sneak this onto my buy pile. One kept saying I should use it for the Ork Lobba. It is awesome, but also about US$50.00. And it is not awesome enough for me to pay that much. (I have considered building one, but substituting a squig for the er, demonic pig.)

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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-07-12, 11:16 PM
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Ive played this a few times and i think the rules are terribly written, and poorly laid out. Im really not that impressed. miniatures and fluff cool, game play very bad

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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-08-12, 12:46 AM
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Interesting write up, RC, and I'd definitely be tempted to at least give it a shot if my area had more of a non-Magic and non-40K playerbase. Regardless, kudos for the explanation, and the killer teddy bear simply looks badass. New mini-daemon prince, imo.

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