201003022031.jpgI have something to admit. I’ve been cheating on Warhammer 40K. Y’see, secretly, I like smaller games. I yearn for integrated game turns, deep mechanics and a style of play where every miniature is a tiny force of nature and not a speed bump. In short, I’ve met someone new and her name is Malifaux.

Malifaux is a relatively new miniature game from Wyrd Miniatures (originating from their line of off the wall miniatures) that is best described as a Victorian-western-gothic-steampunk-fantasy skirmish game – yeah, you read that right. Essentially, a big magical rift opens up in the 1800’s to a town in another dimension where they discover gems capable of amplifying magical prowess. The game has five factions, each with three “masters” (leaders) who control a force of 4 or more other figures (the game can play with larger groups of miniatures, but it’s not generally considered a good idea):

  • Guild – the law & order in the town of Malifaux, these guys have some awesome abilities to mess with the other factions
  • Resurrectionists – depraved necromancers whose numbers never seem to dwindle
  • Arcanists – hard-core magic users who operate outside the bounds of the law and control elemental forces
  • Neverborn – demons and nightmares native to Malifaux’s realm with savage combat capabilities
  • Outcasts – ragtag survivors with their own agenda and motivations, with unique and bizarre abilities

Baby Kade Final.jpgMalifaux uses an integrated (or shared) turn where players activate a single miniature at a time, making for some intense back and forth. The rules themselves are clear and clean and really show the best combination of modern rule sets like AT-43, Warmachine and Infinity. The mechanics to the game are super-simple and use an innovative card-flipping mechanic that uses both the value and the suit of the card to determine effects.Each miniature has unique abilities that create real change on the battlefield. The tradeoff is that you won’t want to play with too many miniatures lest you become overwhelmed with options (I personally think this is great as it helps to enforce the skirmish-level nature of the game).

As for the miniatures themselves, these things are gorgeous. Amazingly detailed sculpts that are generous to the newbie (lots of detail that makes drybrushing super effective) and reward the expert. And these miniatures really run the gamut in terms of topics: evil nurses, demon children, zombie hookers and massive ice golems are just a few of the innovative sculpts in the initial line of minis.

You may be thinking, “that sounds great, but I really don’t have a ton of cash to spend on every minis game that comes out.” In my mind, the price is one of the things that makes this game such a no-brainer – a full starting force for a faction is ~$35 US. I don’t mean a minimal force that isn’t balanced (I’m looking at you Privateer Press...), I mean a full force that is designed to be balanced and ready to compete for a price that’s less than most Games Workshop plastic kits. Throw in a rulebook for $35 US and your entry to the game is probably a touch under $70US (throw in a second faction and you’re at $100 for a fully playable force). If you get a chance, this is one you don’t want to pass up.