About Me

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I'm a bit of a born-again wargamer! I played many of the Games Workshop games when I was in my teens and early twenties, but left the hobby behind when I went to University. Over the last few years I have gradually got back into it and am literally having a ball! I'll play pretty much anything now, ranging from ancient historical to the far future! I think that I get more out of the painting side of things than actually playing, but that might just be because I get more opportunity. Hence the title...this blog is all about the colour of war!!

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Malifaux - first impressions

She's a honey, isn't she? :)

Played my first game of Malifaux last night at the G3 club in Glasgow and thought I'd post my impressions. Normally I would try and review the game, but there are so many good reviews out there that I don't think I could really add anything new, so I've just provided a couple of links at the end of this post. So this is really just a reflection of the experience and my thoughts on what I liked and didn't like. Alas, I got a little swept up in the game and forgot to take pictures! Next time...!

I've been aware of (and collecting the books and figures for) Malifaux for quite some time now. I think it must be more than a year and you can chart the incredibly slow pace of my painting over the course of this blog, but I had never had the pleasure of playing it, mostly for want of opposition. So I was pleased to find that the G3 has an active Malifaux contingent and immediately set about trying to get a game. A really nice bloke called George graciously agreed to guide me through the mechanics and off we went! We eschewed schemes as it was my first game and just took a strategy each. I used my Guild Ortega crew and drew the 'Slaughter' strategy, which really plays into their strengths. George took Rasputina with some hulking monstrosity called Snow Storm! If they intended to intimidate you with that figure, then Wyrd succeeded! Anyway, he drew 'Reconnoiter' which was possibly the poorest strategy he could have got, given the slow movement rate of most of his figures.

The game basically played out with the Arcanists grouping up to take advantage of the many mutually supporting abilities and advancing up the middle of the table. The Guild spread out and just blasted away with everything they have and started to whittle away the minor characters like the Gamins. There were three critical moments that had a major impact on the outcome:

First, after Nino had landed a couple of weak shots on Rasputina, Perdita managed to hit her with a Peacebringer strike after using a Soulstone to make sure of the hit. The damage was only moderate, so I played the Red Joker from my hand (i.e. her above) and that automatically caused severe damage which killed her outright!

Second, the huge Snow Storm character landed a series of devastating ice blasts on Papa Loco, which also caught Francisco and Perdita. Francisco was killed and Papa Loco reduced to a single wound. Critically, I managed to cheat fate on the last casting attempt and caused the spell to fail, as Papa Loco would have gone up in smoke and likely taken Perdita with him!

Lastly, Papa Loco made his last move which was to run into range of the Arcanist group and use his 'Take Ya With Me' spell! This essentially meant the detonation of a large amount of TNT that killed Gamin after Gamin. Unfortunately for the Arcanists they each shattered into fragments that damaged Snow Storm enough for the surviving Guild to gang up and take him down. Great fun!

What I liked

This was a really entertaining game! There was quite a few 'cinematic' moments with characters getting frozen to terrain (as George pointed out, they shouldn't have licked the drainpipes!) and huge explosions. So my first impression is that Malifaux is FUN! And this is what skirmish gaming is all about! Both of us were in the mind to enjoy the game and I was buzzing for a while afterwards and wanted to play again, there and then. If that's the mark of a good game then Malifaux has it in spades!

I also really, really like the card mechanism. This is central to the game and the use of the suits to control triggers and spells is simply genius! It's very refreshing, too; a game that you can play entirely without the use of a single die. The control cards that you have in your hand also play a major part and that just adds another dimension to the game. Let's face it, decisions are the mainstay of any wargame. That's why we play them and the more impact they have on the game, the better. In Malifaux you are deciding what figure to activate next, what abilities will it use, how can they influence the current and future situation, whether to expend precious soulstones and whether to cheat fate (by playing a card out of your hand instead of the one drawn). A myriad of decisions need to be made constantly and I found that barely a minute elapsed where I wasn't thinking about my next move or agonising over whether to accept a hit and keep the good control cards for later or not.

Finally, the characters themselves. They are all highly individual and each brings value to the table. Even from very limited exposure to the game it can be seen that there are many synergies between characters, but I suspect that there is real depth here and you could find some pretty odd, but powerful combos with some experimentation. And that brings replayability!

What I didn't like


Seriously! I liked it all! OK, I probably didn't like having to refer to the cards all the time, but that's more a feature of my noobness. The more you play with the same crew, the more you'll get to know their abilities without constant reference. Although, having said that, the vets at the club acknowledged that even with experience you still need to reference the cards as there is so much to it. And that's actually a good thing in my book!

The verdict...?!

You should have guessed this by now! I love the game and I want to play it again as soon as possible. From the moment I bought the rules and read them I knew I would like it and last night just affirmed that. So now I have an unbridled desire to paint all the Wyrd stuff I have, but I must reel it in! I will finish the second Guild Guard figure and then finish the Super team I have assembled. Then, and only then, will I allow myself to paint more Malifaux. Until then, I'll just get to know Perdita a little better...if she'll let me! :)

Anatoli's Game Room Review
Bell of Lost Souls Review
BoardGameGeek Review


  1. The game is fun, and rather unique. The only downside is trying to keep yourself up to date with all the errata and FAQ material. I have long since given up on that and just play it as is from the core rulebook and Rising Powers expansion.

    Another, somewhat minor problem, arises from all units having so many abilities that it becomes hard to learn them all - be it your own or the opponents units. This admittedly has something to do with my playing a bunch of other games and not focusing 100% on Malifaux in which case I guess it is easier to memorize every little thing.

    Most important thing is to have fun – in that case the game seem to have succeeded 

    1. The number of abilities is a little bewildering, but I guess that will only improve with more plays. And the more crews you run the harder it will be, so I suppose that encourages you to stick with one crew for a while till you really get to know it. Again, I don't see that as a downside!

  2. Sounded like a blast, I must admit I love a lot of the figures from other reviews!

    1. The figures are really nice. Some of the newer avatars are perhaps a bit over the top, but on the whole, they're a very nice range.

  3. Thanks for sharing your first impressions. I have been intrigues by Malifaux and it is going to be hard to resist getting into now with so many people praising it so highly.

    1. You can get the basic rules as a free download from the Wyrd website. It doesn't cover all the attributes and has no stats for any characters, so you couldn't really play the game with that alone, but it will let you see the mechanics and decide for yourself whether it is for you or not. I do think it is one of those games that you'll either love or hate, and if you think you'll like it from a read-through of the rules, then you will almost certainly like playing it.


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