A few years ago, a friend and I decided that we wanted to get into miniatures gaming. For those in the know this is a very expensive hobby with boxes of troops starting in the $50 range. Building an army could cost hundreds. Then there’s the myriad tools, the carrying cases, the assembling and painting… and then, Malifaux happened.
Malifaux, created and published by Wyrd Games, is a “crew” based miniatures game. Instead of large armies you build a gang and rove the streets of a centuries old abandoned town. Factions fight over a resource known as soul stones. Remnants of magic that possess energies that can launch the World into a brighter future. Oh, and it’s a dystopian, steampunk, horror, alternate reality game with a touch of magic and fantasy… Just to round things out. But why should you play?
The truth is, Malifaux is a very straightforward game. The rules seem daunting, book after book of options. But here’s the thing, the books are really just for learning about each individual mini. Each character has a personality, a background, a story. The books spell out the rich history that is Malifaux City and it’s surrounding areas while showing you the merits and abilities of the plastic leaders and minions. Only one or two of the books really get into rules and expanded play options.
Games take roughly an hour to an hour and a half and set up is a breeze. Using a mechanic of card draws and “cheating fate”, it feels like a old west poker game that’s about to go terribly wrong. And when it does? It’ll leave you smiling.
But what really shines with this game are the miniatures. Highly detailed peices that represent everything from the silly to the macabre, a starting crew will only cost you about $50-$60. Wyrd was kind enough to make the game balanced to the point that, once your crew is assembled, you can begin playing with your initial crewbox. This leaves you plenty of time to paint and collect additional crew members or to expand into another crew at your leisure. Pretty awesome if you ask me.
But beware casual traveller. If you think that Malifaux won’t drain your pockets of every last cent you are sorely mistaken. This plastic crack will have you pouring out sheckles for the latests and greatest, the add on powerhouses, and the limited edition sets that come available at Gencon, Black Friday, and Easter. That said, the cost is outlandishly low for a miniatures game. I can tell you my average crew cost less than $100 to assemble. (We’re not discussing Kirai… I said no!!! Just… just look away)
The last thing that Wyrd did really right? You can head down to your flgs (that’s friendly local game store to you greenhorns) and ask if they have a Malifaux henchman. These guys will hook you up for a night. Pulling out crews and showing you the ropes before you invest. That’s right. They have folks that collect crew after crew that hang out at your flgs to teach anyone interested how to play. And it doesn’t cost you one red cent.
After you’ve tested out the game, walk slowly to that darkened corner where shiny boxes of crews live. Look for the one that catches your eye. It may be an Arcanist or an Outcast. Maybe you’re into the Resurectionists. It doesn’t matter. The game is so well balanced that you can literally base your choice on superficial choices. Grab a Fate Deck and the first book, Malifaux 2e and walk to the counter. Hand over your cash and then prepare yourself. You’re about to step through the rift into Malifaux City. And remember, bad things happen.