Malifaux – The tester game, and the epic tale of how I got sucked into yet another wargaming system. admin February 27, 2011 Malifaux, War games 1 Comment So today I gave malifaux a try, but first, a bit of background, as this is my first wargames post on here. I play various wargames at a club in Northumberland in the UK called The Northumbrian Adventurers guild, find the website HERE, The club itself is older than me (I'm 24 in case your wondering), and I've been a member of NAG for somewhere between 10-12 years. Until recently the club was pretty stuck in its ways (this isn't necessarily a bad thing, we all enjoyed what we did), playing mainly Games workshop products, predominantly WFB and 40k as well as a few select roleplays, but tabletop wise it was always mainly Games workshop products. Over the past few months, and mainly since the release of the new edition of warhammer fantasy, GW games have taken a bit of a hit at the club, people have been looking for other things, and we've even seen a drop in numbers of people attending who would normally play WFB every week. Flames of war took off in June 2010, when a club member ran a very small tournament to introduce the game system, and it pretty much opened up the floodgates, after that we latched onto FoW BIG STYLE, as well as trying out a few other wargaming systems along the way. Malifuax is one of the systems that has cropped up at the club, and with a few players already with painted crews it looks like its a game thats here to stay. I've been looking at this game for a while now, but as with most things, I like to do a bit of research on the game before I give it a go. Places like Games workshop (warhammer), and Battlefront (Flames of war) , both have excellent websites, which have mountains of information on them, which gives you the option to spend a bit of time actually researching what you want before you buy it, GW even have stores all round the country that you can go into and talk to the staff members about the hobby (but thats a whole different rant, erm, i mean story..) When I started with FoW, it was pretty easy to get into, I mean, its all about world war two, I have a pretty good grasp of what went on there from countless documentaries, history lessons at school, and my interest in the subject anyway, so I pretty much knew what the background was from the get go. Then on the website, there is a whole load of info about the game itself, how it works, what you can use, what forces are involved etc, so doing some research was fairly easy, Battlefront even give out some of their army lists free as pdf's on their website, they have a forum where you can read through, drool over pictures of peoples minis and ask daft questions about the game system. All in all, its pretty easy to get to grips with the system, and with both GW and Battlefront having beautifully designed websites with easy to use navigation, you can sit back and click/scroll around for hours working out what you want to spend your pennies on. Now, Malifaux. Like i said earlier, I've been looking at this for a while, but unlike GW and Battlefront, their website is utterly terrible. I mean, the site design itself is alright, its easy to see what pages are where and all, but as for content. There is pretty much none at all. I mean, the main page for Malifaux isn't even called malifaux, its listed under the "Games" page on the site, which, only has on one thing. and all the info it has is a one paragraph blurb about the game. Which to be fair is useless, i already knew the game existed, thats how I found the site. Giving me a one paragraph explanation about it hasn't really given me much info outside what I can already guess, or by what I've heard from word of mouth anyway. The product description of the rulebook on the maelstrom games website was more use than the product info about the whole game on the manufacturers website. It doesn't bode well wyrd. You should really sort it out. Now, its not all doom and gloom, They do have a forum, where you can find out more info, but to be honest, I couldn't really be bothered to sift through countless posts of drivel just to get to some info about the game, and the posts I did manage to read seemed to all be from people who already know the game, discussing rules which I have no clue about. So, I headed to the online store. I thought, surely, they will have put in some effort here. oh, how wrong could I be! Now, the catagories for the site are ok, they are set out into factions which are in use in the game, GUILD, RESURRECTIONIST, ARCANISTS, NEVERBORN, OUTCASTS, but unless you know what these mean, (which I didn't) its all pretty useless. but hey, how else are they supposed to catagorise their miniatures? so i bit the bullet and went through the list one by one. Now here is where I got really hacked off. Firstly, I have no idea about this system, other than my mates play it, they like it, so i fancy giving it a try. That, so far, is the full extent of my knowledge. So, as any self respecting wargamer does, I thought "screw it, buy something you think looks pretty. that way, even if its crap in the game, at least you like the figures..." So, I set about looking at the models, only to find that the majority of the photos are 400x450 pixel images, half of the image is taken up by a big MALIFAUX logo. I KNOW ITS MALIFAUX YOU PLEBS. THATS PRETTY MUCH ALL I DO KNOW!!! The crew boxes are the worst, 5 images of the box contents squashed into a space less than 200x200 pixels, how the hell is anyone supposed to see those?! Now admittedly, once you get into the product page itself, some of the pictures are pretty good, showing the figure in multiple poses etc, but the thumbnails are RUBBISH. I managed to go through about two of the sections before I just simply got bored. I found that the models are very hit or miss whether or not I like them or not, and unfortunatly, the guild and resurrectionists didn't get many hits... The sculpts are all beautiful, the quality of the minis is very very high, but for me, I just wasnt feeling them. So, after being totally disheartened by wyrd's pretty pathetic attempt at a website, I thought I'd just look at wayland games and maelstrom's websites instead. Oh, and, I still have no idea whether wyrd ship to the UK from their online store, as I couldn't find a shipping page. so, even if I did find something I liked, I have no clue whether or not I can actually buy it. Again, Its not looking good folks. When I get to wayland/maelstrom, they have the same product images, slightly better navigation, but still no further forward on actually seeing the minis. sod it. I'm not that desperate... I just don't understand it, WHY don't Wyrd have a gallery page??? seeing the minis close up, and from what you can gather from the small images, their stuff is awesome, so why not show it off? surely they realize that a good product photo sells. no photo, or a bad photo puts people off. its common sense, isn't it? So, i continued to play Flames of war, and give my money to battlefront, as at least when I wanted something new from them, I could see what it was I was buying, and find out more info than just "product supplied unpainted, may require some assembly". So, here we are... I finally get to the point, the tester game. Lately, I've been feeling pretty apathetic towards FoW for one reason or another, so, I put a shout out on the clubs forum for a game of malifaux, and one of the lads at the club offered to run me through game. Great. I finally get to see what it's all about, and I get a game at the same time. The guy who showed me the game is called Andy, he writes a blog HERE , he set the whole thing up, and for the first time in about 5 years I turned up at the club with nothing, didn't even need a bag of dice! (malifaux doesn't use dice!) He gave me a quick rundown of the game, how the turn works, the basics of the stats, and tells me a little about the crews he's brought along for the game, now I've seen a couple of games of this being played in the past, but only as I've been playing another game, and this has been going on at the same time, or, I've finished my game and I come and watch the last couple of turns, so so far, I've only had half the picture. Today I get to see how the game works in total, how the cards are drawn etc, and what everything means. So we set the board up, and "flip" for the first turn, I get to go first, sweet. erm.. so what do I do? luckily Andy knows I have no clue about what is going on, so he shows me how my crew should work, and with the little snippets of info I have picked up watching other people, its quite a successful turn. I'm not going to go into an exact breakdown of the game, as, to be honest, I can't remember every little detail, and, we just played a basic game, so we didn't use any of the strategies or anything like that, we just had a full on scrap in the middle of the board so that I could get to know how the game mechanics work. I have to say, overall, after getting a game, I'm impressed, the crew I used wouldn't have been my first choice, they performed well, and their special rules are pretty epic, Hard to wound is awesome! and unfortunately, my chosen crew doesn't get that rule! The game seems really fluid, and I like the fact that its done slightly differently to normal wargames I have played in the past. Unlike games like 40k and FoW, where you move, shoot, assault with all of your models in one go, then your opponent gets a turn to do the same, or, like Inquisitor, where models get a turn in initiative order, Malifaux lets you "activate" each character individually, and you get to activate one character, then your opponent activates one, and so on until everyone has activated. An activation means you get so spend all of your action points, generally, a character gets two of this AP's (action points), if you want you can move twice, or attack twice, its up to you. There are special circumstances where your characters can activate other ones, meaning you get to activate more than one character at a time, which kind of throws the "you go I go" aspect a little out of sync, but its OK, because it fits in nicely with the game, and can sometimes only be done under certain circumstances. It breaks up the turn a bit, and makes it feel a little more random, adding that extra level of tactics into the game that systems like 40k and FoW simply can't have. I really like the card "flip" aspect of the game too, its quite refreshing to play a game that doesn't require a mountain of D6's or another variety of die just to play the game. With more numbers available too than your average D6, and with the jokers in play it really makes each action that little bit more epic, knowing that any number between one and thirteen could pop out of the deck really makes you think about your actions! It took a little getting used to where I was allowed to cheat fate, and what each card did, and the amount of special rules is just silly, but when you start to play the game more often these will start to sink in, I mean, I have only played one game, and I now know that Cassandra of the Show girls is a bitch who must always die. She gives herself reactivate every turn, so she can effectively "go twice" each round, but hard to wound really hurts your opponent when most of his attack flips are on a negative!! Overall I am pretty impressed with the game, I learned a lot from the tester game I did today, and I am defiantly going to buy a crew. Thumbing through the rulebook I think I have also settled on which crew I want now, something I haven't been able to settle on as online research has pretty much come up with nothing. The rulebook is also VERY nice, I haven't had a great deal of time to read through it yet, but from what I can tell its very good quality, the artwork inside is epic, and for what the book costs, I'm pretty tempted to get it just for that alone, It has lots of little stories too that I'm looking forward to sitting and reading, which I'm sure will get me even more hyped up while I wait for my crew to arrive in the post (i should probably get round to ebay and order it...). This is another thing that confuses me about wyrd games, they have an excellent system, with excellent models, and fantastic source material in the rulebooks, yet they make no attempt whatsoever to show it off?! Now I'm hooked, so I'll have no problem in ordering stuff, probably just based off the artwork in the book, or even if I think it'll fit into my crew, but without having someone in my wargames club to get me started, I would quite happily have passed this one by, and continued on with my FoW armies (who are still going to get some love!), Personally, I think Wyrd games are really letting themselves down by having such a poor website. If I was very nearly put off by the lack of info readily available about the system, how many people HAVE been put off, and how many potential paying customers are they turning away, purely by being lazy when it comes to promoting their products? For someone with such a great product, I think it would be a shame for them to lose any sales, I'm now fast approaching 2500 words, oh dear. I think its time to call this one a day... In conclusion: Malifaux: Great game. sh!t website. Check out some other blogs and malifaux (and Fow) related content at my friend's blogs here: Elazar the glorified : http://www.thegloriousworks.co.cc James Farley: http://sixestohit.blogspot.com/ Wyrd games: http://http://www.wyrd-games.net/ Thanks for reading. Chris One Response Mike3838 February 28th, 2011 I think you’re spot on with this and it’s a real shame, especially since the models and background have to be what gets 99% of people involved in any game system. That being said, I’m glad you persevered, so welcome to the game! Have you mentioned your points to Wyrd at all? I don’t know if you got as far as registering on the forums, but the company’s founders and game designers are all regular posters and engage in dialogue/banter with the community (EricJ is the co-founder I believe). I reckon if you copied this post up for the top brass to see and for the community to get behind, it’s likely that something would get done. 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