Malifaux (3rd ed.) - An Introduction

Discussions of all things Malifaux here.
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Primarch
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Malifaux (3rd ed.) - An Introduction

Post by Primarch » Wed Sep 15, 2021 8:54 am

With vaccines going around, hopefully the Corona situation will settle down a bit, and I can get back to gaming regularly. One game I particularly want to play is Malifaux. As not everyone may know of the game, or have much knowledge about how to get started, (or restarted in some cases), I thought a thread to introduce the game might be beneficial.

What is Malifaux?
Malifaux is quite hard to define as a setting, but it's a blend of Victorian Steampunk Horror and Wild West Gunslinging with a splash of Kung Fu Action, set on an alternate plane of existence to a parallel version of 1900's Earth. Players control a crew of between 5-10 minis, drawn from factions as diverse as steam powered automatons and zombie hookers. Combat and actions are handled by cards rather than dice, with players flipping cards from their deck to see if they hit or not. Players also have a hand of cards they can use to replace their flip to change their final score. The suit of the card flipped also lets you trigger special moves and combos. While it may sound strange, it's actually pretty intuitive and fast once you get the hang of it. The game uses an alternating activation system and lots of opposed actions to keep players 'in the game'. During a game, both players have the same goal (a strategy), but also 2 individual goals (called schemes), drawn from a pool. These remain hidden from your opponent until you score victory points for them, so bluffing is always an option.

What are the Crews?
Each player needs a crew for the game. These usually consist of a Master to lead the crew and several minions and henchmen for them to lead.

Each master belongs to one or more factions. There are currently 8 factions in the game (up from 7 in 2nd ed). These are:
The Guild - The human rulers of Malifaux and the forces they use to impose their draconian control.
The Arcanists - Magic-wielding terrorists and revolutionaries who hope to overthrow the Guild
The Resurrectionists - Necromancers and grave-robbers, seeking to master death itself.
The Neverborn - The original inhabitants of Malifaux who are understandably upset at all the humans messing up their world.
The Outcasts - Mercenaries, Outlaws and others who don't have any real agenda except to get rich/survive.
The Bayou - Malifaux's other original inhabitants, a group of in-bred, hill-billy gremlins and other swamp critters.
The Ten Thunders - A primarily Asian crime syndicate that operates throughout all of the other factions.
The Explorer's Society - 3rd Ed's new faction. Big game hunters and researchers looking to tap Malifaux's potential.

Each master comes with one (or two) Keywords that they use to build a crew around. The master and their totem (a small, weak figure that buffs the master) are free. (You can technically hire multiple masters, but they get very expensive). You can then add any models that share a keyword with the master, regardless of faction. In addition you can hire models from the master's faction to round out your crew.
Factions don't have any overall abilities, but they do have faction themes. Resurrectionists obviously focus on undead and summoning. The Bayou crews tend to be pretty wacky and random. Each master and their keyword plays differently, even if they have similar archetypes. Asami, the Ten Thunders summoner can call upon powerful oni, but they can slowly fade out of the game. Hamelin, the Outcast summoner can create huge swarms of rats, each is very weak, but they can overwhelm you with numbers.
Keywords grant similar, themed abilities throughout a crew, usually with some synergy between models. They also make it easy to collect the models for your crew.

Between factions, masters (around 50 or so) and keywords, plus varied objectives in every game, each crew plays differently, so there is a lot of depth to the game.

Are there regular releases?
Yes! Usually there is a new book once a year that contains new masters or minions, or even a new faction. The book coming out later this year, Malifaux Burns, contains about 30 new minions and gives an alternative set of stats for each master (along with new minis), altering the way a master plays and focusing on a different aspect of their keyword. There are yearly updates to existing models with buffs and nerfs handed out where needed. Finally, the company makes limited edition minis and crews for those that want them, usually with a different aesthetic to the originals. (e.g. Hamelin's Rat themed crew mentioned above has a variant with a Cat theme).

And the lore?
Each new book advances some of the plotlines. With so many characters, they don't all get a mention, but the storyline is moving forwards. Several characters have been killed off in the lore, and are no longer on sale. Their stat cards have been updated for players with existing collections though. Each faction has a guide book that contains all of the stats and a story synopsis for every mini in the faction to date, plus several short stories for the faction. Most of the lore is in previous books, which are no longer in print though. More on that in a second.

What do I need to play?
For starters, you will need a crew of minis. Each master has a starter box which contains the master, it's totem and 3-5 keyword related minis. A master box is around the 6000 yen mark. The box also contains stat cards for all the figures in the box. You'll probably also want to add a booster box to round out the crew. These are around the 4-5000 yen mark. 3rd edition Master boxes and booster boxes are labelled with their keywords, so you can easily find models that work together. Older boxes of minis from 2nd ed (and even some from 1st), are available, but don't necessarily contain the current cards.
You'll also be requiring a tape measure, a 3'x3' gaming area, terrain and some cards. Normal playing cards are fine, though there are some very cool looking decks available for about 1500 yen. A copy of the rulebook is also useful. I also use dice for wound markers.

Isn't that all going to be expensive?
Not really. Per model, Malifaux is more towards the GW end of the market, but you can put together a playable crew for about 10,000 yen and own everything in your keyword for about 20,000. 3rd ed. boxes come with the maximum number of minis of that type you can field. (2-3 for most minions, 1 for named characters), so you'll never need to buy the same box twice.
The official cards are nice, but you can get a deck from a 100 yen shop if you want.
The rules will cost you 2400 for the core book or ZERO yen for the official PDF from the game's website.
The lore books are 3000 yen each, but aren't available on PDF. However, all of the stories are available as audio, again for the low, low cost of ZERO yen. Search for Breachside Broadcast on YouTube for all of the lore, narrated and padded out with in-universe intros and intermissions.
If you want all of the faction cards, a full set costs 2400 yen. Some cards have been updated though, and the boxes are no longer in print. However, all of the cards to date are available for Print on Demand for a small fee, or can be downloaded from the homepage for, you guessed it, ZERO yen.
Finally, there is an up-to-date crew building app that contains all of the cards (it's a BIG download if you want them all at once though), with errata, a link to the rules, FAQ, tournament rules and quick reference pages. You can get this for the standard price of ZERO yen. It is a really useful app and I really recommend getting it for the game.
So really, you only need to pay for the minis. The company wants people to play the game, so gives you all the rules, lore, armylists, media and apps for free. Awesome, right?
Get everything you need below.
https://www.wyrd-games.net/malifaux

How is the balance?
Pretty good. There are some tiers among masters, with some being better than others. The company does make efforts to nerf and buff problem minis as needed though. Currently one of the new Explorer's Society crews is regarded as being overpowered and is expected to get toned down by the next FAQ. The Guild faction is largely seen as being a little weak overall as their crews are often quite specialized in what they do. For example, the Death Marshals get loads of bonuses versus undead, but are weaker against everything else. Games are not usually one sided because of crew choice, but more down to player actions. I always say that to do well in Malifaux, you have to know how your crew wins and how it loses. A crew of dancing, prancing showgirls doesn't want to charge into a huge melee scrum with flesh eating demons. Every crew has a "Your guys can do WHAT?!?" rule somewhere, but that's all part of the fun. Finally, knowing how and when to use the cards in your hand can make a huge difference to the outcome of the game. You can get tabled and still win if you know what you are doing and focus on your schemes.

I played older editions, what changed?
The rules have been refined from 2nd ed., but it's still the same game overall. The biggest changes have been made to hiring crews. Keywords are really important in 3rd ed and some options from 2nd haven't been carried over. Some models changed faction or were removed from the game (Their stats are in the Dead Man's Hand set of cards). You can hire across factions in your keyword, or hire in faction models with the versatile keyword, but have to pay a small points tax to hire non-versatile, non-keyword models. The newer boxes have multiple minis per box, compared to some older blister packs that contained just one figure. So, if you only need one mini for your crew, you can easily end up with unusable duplicates. This change was made to make the game easier for new players to get started and to reduce the shelf space needed by stores, though it hurts people with legacy collections like mine. I have one model from each box in my Lady Justice keyword group, so whatever I buy, I am ending up with something I can't use. I'd recommend downloading the app and the cards you need for your models and try sticking a list together.


And that's it. Any thoughts? Any questions you need answering?
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The Other Dave
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Re: Malifaux (3rd ed.) - An Introduction

Post by The Other Dave » Wed Sep 15, 2021 9:18 am

I'm having trouble figuring out exactly what deck of cards I should buy to update my Neverborn to 3rd edition. :lol: To be fair I'm not looking very deeply, but there seem to be a couple of different "Neverborn" faction decks available to buy?

I do want to get back into the game - I've still only played with Zoraida a handful of times, and it's good fun.
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Re: Malifaux (3rd ed.) - An Introduction

Post by Primarch » Wed Sep 15, 2021 9:38 am

The Other Dave wrote:
Wed Sep 15, 2021 9:18 am
I'm having trouble figuring out exactly what deck of cards I should buy to update my Neverborn to 3rd edition. :lol: To be fair I'm not looking very deeply, but there seem to be a couple of different "Neverborn" faction decks available to buy?

I do want to get back into the game - I've still only played with Zoraida a handful of times, and it's good fun.
This one:
https://www.ring-tail.com/shop-descript ... 1557861511
Zoraida has one of the largest keyword options I think, giving you a large pool of models to recruit from, but you'll also need the matching Bayou deck to get all the cards if you're running any non-neverborn Swampfiends such as Silurids and Gators.

There is another Neverborn deck, but it's a set of playing cards, not stat cards.

Again, the App is really, really good for deckbuilding and just seeing what's what.
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Re: Malifaux (3rd ed.) - An Introduction

Post by Balloonacorn » Wed Sep 15, 2021 1:16 pm

I am very interested in playing but I would like try the game before buying. I like the look and feel of Neverborn but my curse is building theme armies and losing badly.

Any possibility of Demo games?
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Re: Malifaux (3rd ed.) - An Introduction

Post by Primarch » Wed Sep 15, 2021 2:04 pm

Balloonacorn wrote:
Wed Sep 15, 2021 1:16 pm
I am very interested in playing but I would like try the game before buying. I like the look and feel of Neverborn but my curse is building theme armies and losing badly.

Any possibility of Demo games?
Definitely. I get my first shot next week and my second in mid October. Depending on the date and conditions in Aichi, I may be at the October games day, and if not, I'll be there in November. I may even be able to set up a simple demo with Neverborn.

Malifaux strongly encourages themed forces, though having one or two minis from outside your theme is viable. Were you looking at a particular crew?
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Re: Malifaux (3rd ed.) - An Introduction

Post by me_in_japan » Thu Sep 16, 2021 2:39 am

I’ve always rather enjoyed Malifaux, and my Lynch mob never even hit the table in 2nd ed. (I haven’t checked. If it turns out they killed off Lynch I’m going to be super peeved.) And my showgirls, which I daresay will be in need of an update, are always up for a dance (but never a prance. They’re not that kind of lady, and are offended by the insinuation 😮)

There’s also the possibility of actually getting Ramos painted, although again, he might be dead for all I know.

Anyway. I’m already double vaxed. I’m also absolutely gagging for some games. I feel like I haven’t seen anyone in forever, and my hobby mojo is at a historic low (and given my glacial normal pace, that’s saying something.) I gotta get some games in, stat. So count me in for Mali.

*edit* goddamit the bastards killed Ramos. My poor little old man with a bag will never again terrorise the streets of Malifaux 😭

Ah well, at least Colette and Jakob made it 😔
*edit* and made it reasonably unscathed, so far as I can tell. I don’t have the newer named characters, but other than that I seem to be good to go.
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Re: Malifaux (3rd ed.) - An Introduction

Post by Primarch » Thu Sep 16, 2021 3:53 am

Good news, Ramos isn't dead, he is in prison! (Where his Lady Justice zapping a*# belongs if you ask me).
His card is in the Dead Man's Hand set, which you can find in the link I posted above, or in the app. He looks fairly good to be honest. Fairly average ranged and melee attacks, hard to take down if he has robots nearby, the ability to summon more constructs mid-game and he can hire any arcanist constructs at no extra cost, which allows him to use Colette's Coryphee (yay) and Mannequins (um...).

Bad news though. Your Oiran have gone through a few changes. They are now part of the Ten Thunders 'Qi and Gong' crew and go by the name Kunoichi now. They can't be used with Colette and you have to pay an out of keyword tax to use them with Lynch.
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Re: Malifaux (3rd ed.) - An Introduction

Post by me_in_japan » Thu Sep 16, 2021 6:19 am

Is moving from courtesan to ninja an upgrade or a downgrade, in terms of class? 🤔

I’m not super gutted about losing the Oiran, tbh. I have a couple ice dancers I never used that’ll be good to try out, and there’s a ton of scope even just in the Lynch crew. I’m slightly put out that the new model for the hungry dark is faaaaar better than the old one, but them’s the breaks, I suppose. I also have a couple of oxfordian mages that I used to be able to use in my Ramos crew. I’m assuming they’ve been codified into a different faction, too.

Also, where has Ramos’ legion of spider bots gone? I can’t see em, at least on a cursory examination of the site.
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Re: Malifaux (3rd ed.) - An Introduction

Post by Primarch » Thu Sep 16, 2021 11:22 am

The spider bots are in the Arcanist card files.

Scroll down to M3E_arc_machina... they are all in there.
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Re: Malifaux (3rd ed.) - An Introduction

Post by Balloonacorn » Thu Sep 16, 2021 1:03 pm


Malifaux strongly encourages themed forces, though having one or two minis from outside your theme is viable. Were you looking at a particular crew?
Aesthetically, I like the Neverborn, The Dreamers, Teddy, Nephlim and Hinamatsu.

I also like Nexus and her various options.

And how can you not love the Bayou Gremlins... all of them.

This is just by feel alone. I have no idea how any of them play.
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