Malifaux

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Malifaux is a relatively new (Since 2009) skirmish-level wargame that's steampunk, supernatural horror, and wild west themed. Despite bashing together a ton of things that were done by Deadlands years earlier, it still manages to be a rather fun game. The storyline and world are not complete and total shit, like you would expect of something that looks like a bandwagon hopping attempt of the nth degree.

Though the sour-throated individual above are right to some extent about the setting (Old, ruined city, daemons, zombies, magicians and the law in one place going for the magical stones), calling it a "rip-off" is doing it a serious dishonour - the setting has many of the same features, but has its very own feel, lore and gameplay, so its probably more of a new setting taking inspiration from Deadlands and Mordheim, but doing new stuff with it. Besides, someone might as well borrow from Mordheim now that GW has thrown it and every other specialist game into a bin.

Why Should I Give A Shit?[edit]

It's a cheap game and the models are quite good, it's got decent mechanics, and the devs actually listen to the players and update things. Unlike other wargames you can start playing with a single starter box. Every model is monoposed, but you never have to paint the same model twice unless you think more than 3 of the same model is good in a game where 7 models in an army is the average.

You should check it out if you enjoy Mordheim, because it's like that if GW actually knew a good thing when they saw one. Even if you find the game unplayable, you won't regret giving it a chance.

Compared to other systems, it may not be AS balanced, but every year the devs try to balance the system either via errata or updating the tournament missions. It's not Warmahordes, but at least it kicks GW's butt.

The fluff is ok, but a lot of the slow moving story progression is hidden in the rulebooks and their online magazine. Though, just like with the Iron Kingdoms wargames, if you like your dudes flavored narrative campaigns, you're pretty out of luck, since all Masters are Named NPCs only. Still, if you're alright with what you game basically being fanfiction to the core fluff, it's a pretty good game.

Also Zombie-Hookers, Showgirls, Geisha, etc...

Setting[edit]

"In the grim darkness of the 19th century, there is only greed."

In late 18th century, magic was going out of style - people used to be able to do magic, but even powerful mages were finding that their 'pop' was beginning to fizzle. Understandably, they find this upsetting- everyone who's anyone has become used to being able to heal the sick and dominate the poor with their sorcery, and so the most powerful wizards and greatest scientists of their age gathered to find a solution. They realised that our plane of existance isn't the only one out there, and there's another plane brimming with magic behind an extradimensional barrier separating this plane of existence from that. Out of desperation and a lust to regain their power, the most powerful mages of the world peformed a ritual, creating a fuckhuge rift stretching a hundred meters into the air, and flattening the city they cast their spell in. This portal (dubbed 'The Breach of the Great Boundaries', or just the Breach) drew in many explorers, adventurers and assorted riffraff and hangers-on, hoping to gain wealth and magical power. What they found on the other side of the portal was astonishing - a large, half ruined city. The Magicians, mercenaries, gold-hunters and chancers settled in to their new world, and christened it 'Malifaux'.

To most, it seemed too good to be true - the place was inherently magical, and the energy everywhere, turned commoners into catalysts of amazing power. Furthermore, these early explorers unearthed Soulstones; faintly glowing crystals which granted magic and power to their wielders. A predictable gold rush ensued, and the massive demand for these jewels earthside made even the most lowly mage spectacularly wealthy, as the stones were used by the rich and powerful earthside to renew and enhance their powers. Even better for the prospectors on Malifaux, these reservoirs of power didn't hold their charge indefinitely- and once drained, they could only be recharged by the death of a sentient being, which is just one of the reasons some of the more powerful countries Earthside decided to get their war on.

Predictably of course, it was too good to be true. In Malifaux a great blizzard began freezing the city, and sightings of nightmarish creatures began. The Breach began to shrink, making travel more difficult and dangerous. In the end, no one could get in or out- but superstitious souls Earthside claimed they could hear the sound of horrific slaughter and murder on the other side.

And then, just as the Breach was about to close, a bloodied and barechested man stumbled out of it. On his chest was carved the word: "Ours".

One hundred years passed. In those years, humanity had only the soulstones brought through when the Breach was open, so demand was high - So high that wars and genocides where waged to get even the smallest chip of the stone in their possesion. Just as it seemed like magic was about to die completely, the Breach opened again, this time by itself, and inside was the same city they had left, but with strangely absent bodies of the people who lived there last time - There were no signs of battle, no rubble. Nothing but the city they found one hundred years ago.

Hope was restored to the magicians of the time, now knowing that soulstones again were within reach, and the rush the first Breach had brought with it was about to begin - Only, the most influencial magicians didn't want that. They formed an organiation called the "Guild", which took responsibility for the distribution of work, managed the soulsone outcome of the mines and generally kept the peace to avoid the large outflux of soulstones that happened last time - They were basically working to keep the soulstones at a reasonable cost by only producing so much of the stuff at a time, preventing a Germany Anno 1933-style devaluing of the stones.

Now, the Guild has forgotten their roots - They are a police-force who keep the peace, not for the sake of the civilians, but to keep the soulstones rushing out of the Breach, and to make sure they control everything in the name of law and order. This don't settle too well with all, though - Some don't like how the Guild patrol possible mages (and in Malifaux, that's anyone, really) and destroy any opposition with an iron fist. Some folks smuggle goods in the guise of organizations like the Miners and Steamfitters Union; they battle the Guild when they can, commonly calling themselves Arcanists, though it's a name only spoken in the darkest corners of Inns around the city. Others don't feel like holding their skills at bay - When dead people fuel you, why stop there? Why not make zombies?! These "Resurrectionists" have begun springing up everywhere in an alarming rate almost uncontrollable by the Guild, using the bodies of the dead (who there are many of in this city) for their vile experiments. Others, simple outcasts and mercenaries, now arrive to the city in hope of winning a profit on this gang war or to get their own hands on some soulstones. The Ten Thunders family of the Three Kingdoms in the east are also gaining an increasingly stronger hold on Malifaux, conquering in the shadows, and the wacky Gremlins of the Bayou are going even farther from their beloved swamps to fight anyone who dare mistake the sound of banjos with harmless music. All this, however, is nothing compared to the Neverborn: nightmares, unthinkable horrors and unresting monsters who are rising from the shadows of the city to reclaim their city from the naive fleshbags who now think it their home.

All these forces are now fighting in the streets, in the outskirts and deserts, and in the dark underbelly of this thoroughly rotten city, trying to gain a lasting hold on this city of the damned. And yet, something seems wrong. It's like the city is waiting for something, something big. Some fear the night and the frost is coming again, closing the Breach and slaughtering everyone and reducing what people did to gain power to dust, just as they did one hundred years ago. Others believe that Earth is next. What only few dare fear is that the ramifications of what will happen are far, far, far worse.

This is Malifaux.

Game Mechanics[edit]

Malifaux is unique among miniatures games in that rather than rolling dice, players draw from their own deck of cards to please Random Number God. Actions can have positive or negative twists, which means that you flip over more cards and then take whichever is higher/lower, depending on the type of twist. Players also have a hand of cards they can use to cheat fate and replace an already flipped card with one that is better. Some models' abilities only work if a certain suit if played, so there's an advantage to keeping good cards in your hand to pull nice actions. Players have the option of purchasing official decks or simply using a deck of regular cards, with the devs helpfully pointing out which of the real card suits corresponds to their fanciful made-up ones.

The army-building mechanic is also pretty unique; players first generate a scenario, then hire their Crew using an agreed-upon number of soulstones (totally not ghost rock guys!) that set the level of the encounter. Each crew needs to be lead by a Master, which gives a few extra soulstones for use and dictates the faction of the Crew. When you're starting, this doesn't really matter, as you'll use the same Crew for everything, but in tournaments, all you're required to do is point out your faction beforehand, only choosing your Master when you figure out what sort of mission you'll need to play. A typical game is 50SS in size, which is about the size of one of the starter boxes, plus one or two extra models.

Any soulstone not spent on hiring can be spent in-game by certain models to gain advantages on flips, generate new models, healing, etc. Certain Masters benefit from a large stash, and others demand that you fill the board with units before the game starts.

Victory is determined through pre-generated victory conditions. There's a big general one, but players can also take schemes, which are like miniature objectives. They earn more victory points if they announce them beforehand, which possibilities ranging from getting the first kill to assassinating the opponent's Master to simply being a dick the whole game. There are also Master-specific schemes, some of which are retardedly difficult to pull off and others which practically occur automatically.

Editions[edit]

1st Edition[edit]

Wyrd started Malifaux as a game to go with their misc model range. Originally just a way to get people to buy their models, the game took on a life of its own and became the main money maker for Wyrd. This established the card mechanics, masters/minions, and soulstones that the game is known for.

1.5 Edition[edit]

Wyrd updated the system with 1.5 to help balance the game as well as include more and more models. This introduced new mechanics such as Henchmen and Avatars. Avatars were the powered up versions of Masters that could be brought into a game if certain criteria was met.

2nd Edition[edit]

Malifaux has completed the transition from 1.5 to 2nd edition, commonly named M2E. The first edition was know as a clunky mess of rules that was none the less loved by some parts of the fanbase, and 1.5th as the most up to date version of the 1st edition in general. This is also the time where all the newer people in the roster got in, like some of the Mercs and pretty much all of the Ten Thunders. At some point, Wyrd, the devs, though to give the game a new edition to keep up with GWs recent failings, and began producing new and less convoluted rules for the game, among new plastic models. This edition should bring new players to the game and ease up play, generally making a reborn game with the best from the latest edition, the way new editions should be made. But Wyrd wasn't happy just redoing the rules. That wasn't barely enough for this new and bold attempt to get more people on the wagon. Redoing the rules wasn't enough at all. All models, as in, the entirety of their Malifaux range of models, was to be updated. At once, WarmaHordes-style.

This meant several things - First, they couldn't actually do them all at once, that would make the fanbase wait for months before they could play the game and was as such not profitable, so instead they split releases Wave one came out with the rules and a handful of masters for each faction. This meant that some were miffed their Master was neglected in favour of others, some to quit the game because of new rules and the slightly changed fluff and some again were unhappy they did all this in the first place. Basically, fun stuff.

Wave 2 came out and finished the roster of masters, with all of them set to be released by October 2015.

Wave 3 launched, introducing a new campaign system and campaign only Avatars, souped up versions of each master, and a small handful of models for each faction including the Emissaries whom give a specific buff to each master and can alter themselves to fit in with the masters tactics.

Wave 4 was released at GenCon 2016. It introduced 7 new masters, one for each faction, and additional upgrades to "fix" underpowered models. There was also new models that help shake up the meta.

In the end, with new shiny models, (slightly) simplified rules Malifaux is now a game that's not just for reserved fans - It's for new dudes as well, and is currently recruting at FLGS næar you!

3rd Edition[edit]

On July 25th 2018 Wyrd announced a new 3rd edition of Malifaux. The main highlights was to further streamline the game, narrow which models can be taken with certain masters (even in-faction), allow multiple masters in a crew, and they killed off popular Masters (Nicodemus, Ramos and Lilith) keeping them around as "Dead Man's Hands", legacy versions of the characters. Other masters have become Dual Faction, some masters which were Dual faction before are now only mono-faction. It also introduced a new faction that has yet to be annouced, but is present on the McCabe and Cornelius box sets.

Gameplay Changes:

  • Masters have a soulstone cost and more than one can be taken, only one Master can be leader which grants them 3 AP instead of 2 AP.
  • Crews still built from models within a Faction, however you get a discount if you purchase models that match your Leader's keyword.
  • The Vantage Point rule from 2nd Edition has been replaced with Shadows, where a building/terrain feature has a radius that grants cover.
    • Additionally there was an overhaul of the terrain rules to account for entering buildings and other situations that caused problems in M2e.
  • Conditions have been streamlined into a universal list to avoid multiple conditions with the same effect.

Model Changes:

  • Guild:
    • Hoffman is now dual faction Guild and Arcanists.
    • Dashel was upgraded from Henchman to Master.
    • McMourning left for Rezzers.
    • McCabe left for Ten Thunders and an unknown 8th faction.
    • New Master Cornelius arrived.
  • Arcanists:
    • Hoffman is now dual faction Guild and Arcanists.
    • Marcus is now dual faction Arcanists and Neverborn.
    • Ramos is no longer part of the faction, instead they are in Dead Man's Hands.
  • Gremlins:
    • Captain Zipp is now dual faction Gremlins and Outcast.
    • The Brewmaster is no longer dual faction Ten Thunders.
  • Neverborn
    • Marcus is now dual faction Arcanists and Neverborn.
    • Lilith is no longer part of the faction, instead they are in Dead Man's Hands.
    • Nekima is upgraded from Henchman to Master.
    • Collodi is no longer part of the faction, instead they are in Dead Man's Hands.
  • Outcast:
    • Jack Daw is now dual faction Outcasts and Rezzers.
    • Captain Zipp is now dual faction Gremlins and Outcast.
  • Resurrectionists:
    • Nicodem is no longer part of the faction, instead they are in Dead Man's Hands.
    • McMourning is Rezzers only.
  • Ten Thunders:
    • Misaki is no longer dual faction Outcasts.
    • New Master Kunoichi arrived.
    • Lucas McCabe is no longer dual faction Guild.

Models[edit]

Compare...

The metal models of 1st Edition Malifaux weren't bad, honestly. They were mostly sturdy, had pronounced features, which made them easy to paint. The problems they suffered from overshadowed those nice points by miles, though - Though nothing was really wrong with the models technically, they suffered from what many other first edition models often do - To make the model easy to recognize and to bait people to play the game, all models looked the same, while having no sense of unity or unqiue flair.

... And contrast.

When you want to make new, memorable models for a range, your models must speak volumes of the setting, because the models are what most people see first when they get interested in a game. That's why 40K make the models stand out through easily definable models (There's a lot of races in this game, something for anyone!), because we know a lot by just seeing the model painted. Malifaux, on the other hand, didn't do this at all. The universe is an alternate victorian era, with steampunk, wild west and supernatural horror elements, with focus on the later. The models didn't convey this at all - The models were strangely anime-esque in models and especially artwork. Female models had big boobs, long and full hair, slender bodies and were modelled in a distinct sexually way, thrusting their butt out or showing boobage, while male models were either forgettable or cloaked in brown cloth. Now, sure, this isn't necessarily distinctly anime, but the way the models were presented, it didn't give us any idea of the universe it all took place in at all - Infinity wrote the book on anime-esque models and makes all models like that on purpose, simply because it's a part of the concept, but Malifaux did it because it's easy. They even had "Avatar" models where the women are even more sexualized and the men even burlier, like they are trying to be fucking Kill la Kill.

The new models are nothing like that. Though they still retain some modes with less than average amount of clothes on their body, the models are distincly more human and realistic. Models like Lady Justice who just stood there to show long, flowing hair, big bosoms and slender legs, she now has a body looking more like the badass teenager Batman she is, and is standing like a warrior ready to strike too, while the formerly pretty revealing Rasputina now looks like the powerful yet reserved frost mage she was supposed to be from the start. On top of that, the artstyle has gone a lot darker and more horror, Lovecraftian-inspired, which is also reflected in the models - Some of the newer models are absolutely horribly looking, in a good way, and a good paintjob will make them absolutely disgusting.

Arguably some of the better sculpted models in the industry (Games workshop ain't got shit). They're all in plastic as well, and come in about one million pieces per mini. Oh yeah.

The Factions[edit]

Because all games need different, "morally distinct" factions, Malifaux has five six seven now but the new one is weird because the new one isn't a real faction. All of them have different play-styles, with the different Masters providing further diversity. There are also Henchmen, characters that can serve as part of a crew like normal, or lead a special crew of their own.

Thematically, the different factions oppose each other mostly at surface value; each Master and Henchman has their own loyalities, and they're rarely just what their faction wants, unless they flat-out lead that faction. Examples could be Molly Squidpidgeon, a Resurrectist Master, and the only Undead one. She must be all for Resurrectionists then, right? Nah, she just want to let the Undead have equal rights to humans, and stop humans (including Resurrectionists) from stealing the night from the dead. Another example would be Jacob Lynch, who looks like a puppet for the Neverborn, but actually just want to be free of their influence and flee the place before he gets hurt. Their faction only decides what models they can call upon, and sometimes not even that; just as often, some Masters can get models not from their faction. Dr. Hoffman, a Guild Master, is a Construct Master, and can buy a lot of Arcanist Constructs, for example.

The Guild[edit]

For the cowboy lover in all of us. Primarily a direct-damage/shooty type army full of cowboys and 'upstanding' citizens. Strongest in the meta right now because of their absolute superiority when it comes to shooting alongside absolutely retarded terrain rules that can lead to nearly empty boards. Best for people who prefer straightforward games of shooting the fuck out of people with cowboys. The box sets for them are fairly solid, with Perdita Ortega's being completely playable for a newbie who has never played a game before. They are a lot more playable in the 2nd Edition rules, and bring a lot of scheme running to the game. Guild also has some of the highest damaging models in the game.

They're fluffed as the big all-controlling group that manages everything in the game setting, accomplishing this through the twin fists of bureaucracy and shooting you in the fucking face. Kind of like the US government.

Masters[edit]

  • Perdita Ortega: Crazy-ass Gun-slinger chick. She leads the Ortega clan who are basically Mexican cowboys, each with a ridiculous pair of balls. The Perdita and the Ortegas are the Anti-Neverborn crew from the first book and due to a few other bonuses that help them counter Neverborn they kind of lost the "-Neverborn" part and became Anti-Everything. Hands down most overpowered crew. Expect to play them a lot, they are like Shotaclones (Ken, Ryu and the fuck ton that aren't Gouken) in Street Fighter, most commonly played crew, has roughly even match ups with everything, dominant in events and anyone who doesn't play them in events has spent a lot of effort building and practicing to win this match-up so you can spot a noob straight away because they aren't powergaming the fuck out of their list against Ortegas.
  • Lady Justice: Crazy blind chick with an epic sword, epic sword fighting skills, bordering on weeaboo but not really due to being a cowboy/girl/person, leading emo Ghostrider-esq anti-necromancer cowboys to hunt down Resurrectionists. Despite being the necrophiliac rape train of the Guild she is pretty damn scary to face with other factions as she can run a stall-their-crew-while-I-assassinate-their-heavy-hitters-one-at-a-time play that pisses off everyone who hasn't foreseen this shit happening, except Neverborn players who can counter by kiting or baiting her into an alpha-strike. One of the strongest melee models in the game.
  • Sonnia Criid: Crazy magic chick, actually she's not that crazy, but pretty scary to face. Not as overpowering as the other two bitches if you know how to play against her, but absolutely rape-tastic if she catches you out in the open or manages to set you on fire (which is the same thing for her). In the lore, she is dubbed the Anti-Arcanist Master, but on the table-top she can pretty much rape any caster. Unlike the two other chicks that concentrate on murdering a single model per turn, her damage output is based on the ability to dish devastating fire blasts that damage multiple targets at once.
  • C. Hoffman: The first non-chick Master for The Guild. Basically is a Construct master, but he just superpowers an existing one rather than making them in the battle. Has a brother who went utterly insane after crossing the breach, he became a cyborg and has like a .50 cal chaingun for one arm and a powerfist on the other. A lot of experienced players gravitate to Hoffman because he is difficult to counter and has interesting crew lists.
  • Lucius, the Governor's Secretary: This guy is a massive douche wearing a mask, he literally uses bureaucracy to shutdown his opponent's game and give his crew more options. While he and his choice of crew lack in the normal overpoweredness of the Guild, he makes up by having so many ways to just be a dick. He hands out commands to your other models, namely riflemen with extra focus, who then begin perforating anything unfortunate enough to be within range. Essentially a Synergies and Tricks based leader in a faction known for shooting, who loves gunlines and non-snowflake models. In the fluff he is slowly seeping power away from the Governor and consolidating a strong powerbase within the Guild, because he's rules lawyering dick. His special forces are the Guild Guards, yes plain boring cops are restricted elite units in Malifaux. Becomes a master in 2E. Also, he's a Neverborn and is dual-faction with them. Spoiler alert.
  • Dr. McMourning: Officially he is The Guild's coroner, but also doubles as a player in the Resurrectionist underground. In reality he's a Frankenstein rip, his assistance is probably the only real success that he had with his attempts. Plays very aggressively, will butcher in melee and likes to swarm with stitched up dog things. Will use his support, Nurses and Speed to make some beatstick explode, otherwise he is still one of the best melee fighters in the game.
  • Nellie: The Editor and Chief of the Daily Tattler. Fluffwise she is an annoying know it all who makes up fake words to sound smarter. Crunchwise she has the best way to give out Fast in the game and can support her crew better than any Guild Master before her. Called the Pandora of Guild.

Resurrectionists[edit]

The obligatory undead-filled faction. Focuses on some trick-based gameplay, with certain Masters flooding the board with ridiculous numbers of generated monsters and debuffing enemy units. Also everyone can be a summoner. Truly ridiculous in the hands of a good player, but certain machine-based armies can shut them the fuck down by generating very few corpse counters (the creepy fuel that drives their engines). To play properly, expect to buy a lot of zombie dogs, especially if you're running McMourning. Notable for containing their first true weeaboo faction in the form of Kirari, their resident Japanese rip-off ghost who manages to not suck.

Fluffed as a bunch of lunatics running around, reviving corpses to eventually overthrow the Guild. Also entertaining because it's the faction most people point out when looking at the game, as it contains both zombie hookers and their Jack the Ripper rip-off, along with his own rip-off, giving you three more layers of rip than you'd want.

Masters[edit]

  • Nicodem: Basically an undertaker with a pet vulture. Can and will raise a ridiculous amount of zombies in the game, can create any kind of undead model. As a model he is actually really crap stat wise, just that he can win games with the huge ass horde of zombies. Tends to become a slow, defensive grind that breaks with attrition. Killed off in 3rd edition, not playable in normal tournament games.
  • Seamus: The common child of Jack the Ripper and the Mad Hatter. Has like the period equivalent to a Desert Eagle and despite being an absolute pussy in combat has a melee attack with his bag of tools that can one-hit kill any model in the game! which is just about the only thing stopping him from getting charged by every five year old with an inflatable hammer. Plays more towards strategic deployment and luring with his zombie-whores to setup executions with his pistol. His hand cannon gun, can fire in spurts, if he shoots ya, it's gonna hurt.
  • Dr. McMourning: Officially he is The Guild's coroner, but also doubles as a player in the Resurrectionist underground. In reality he's a Frankenstein rip, his assistance is probably the only real success that he had with his attempts. Plays very aggressively, will butcher in melee and likes to swarm with stitched up dog things. Will use poison to damage his enemies and have them turn into undead abominations. Is the powerhouse combat guy for the Ressers and can often pull surprise rampages by initially playing passively until a gap appears to exploit.
  • Kirai Ankoku: Asian ghost chick. Uses ghosts unlike most of the Resurrectionists who are at the Zombie fans table. Plays very support-type role, absolutely fucked if she gets too close to melee monsters like Lord Chompy Bits or left exposed against the Ortegas. Otherwise Kirai was the only tournament viable master until Ten Thunders because she had a mobile crew and a lot of utility options, allowing her to play the objective game when in a bad match up. In Brawls (2-3 Masters per side) she is always the default option because it doesn't force you to split corpse tokens between Necromancers and she can pretty much do everything else the faction can't do.
  • Molly Squidpigdeon: An undead investigative journalist chick in a relationship with Seamus that mirrors that of the Joker and Harley Quinn. Her summoning mechanic is based around damaging the opponent to summon more undead, as opposed to summoning off of corpse markers.
  • Tara: Dual faction Ressurectionist Tara is an undead bitch that doesn't give a fuck about anything. She got Shot Through the Heart (and the Guild's to blame), went into a plane of literal nothingness where another chick was too late to bring her back to life, but she made her undead and arguably even more badass than before. Although somewhat underpowered when compared to other masters, she has the super-power of being able to ACTIVATE TWICE IN EVERY TURN. Her crew are a bunch of creepy-crawlies that she brought back with her from the void. Her main gimmick is somewhat counter-intuitive - giving the enemy Fast is not really something you'd normally do... But Tara does it and makes it work surprisingly well. Also, she's a mean bury-er.
  • Reva: A necromancer who basically acts like a Mother Teresa to zombies in addition to poor people. In game, she has very short ranged, high damage spells, but she can cast them through corpse counters and models that count as corpse counters. She's also on a horse so she's pretty mobile. Most of the models she tends to use come back after dying, with some bonuses.

Arcanists[edit]

Trick-based faction, they rely on synergy, buffs, and some direct-damage spells to fuck people up. Generally not too forgiving for newer players, but able to really hold their own with a competent player. Get some cool units, including the ever-popular steampunk spider we learned to love from Wild, Wild West. Options for a Will Smith-based Master are not included yet; right now, all you've got are a steampunk scientist, a dude who likes animals way too much, a frozen bitch, or a scantily-clad gold-digger showgirl. Expect games with them to take a while, as they are absolutely stupid with incredibly long combos and effect chains, with the worst offenders being the Showgirls, whose movement tricks are incredibly frustrating.

They fill the function of the secret society working to overthrow the power of the Guild and freeing magic, all while smuggling the shit out of things. Notable for controlling the Miners and Steamfitters' Union, which means they get all the neat steampunk toys along with some burly miners.

Masters[edit]

  • Ramos: Head of the Miner's and Steamfitter's Union which is like a normal union except when they go on strike they have steampunk spider centaur cyborgs on the picket-line. Is a construct Master and pretty much was the first of the kind, so he's pretty much middle of the road in that respect. Basically if you like steampunk, you're probably fapping to the box-art on his starter box. Is an absolute nightmare for Ressers due to the fact he won't have many living targets and unlike them he can recycle his constructs constantly, allowing him to play the attrition game against a zombie horde. Essentially killed off in 3rd edition (he's in jail Earthside), so not playable in normal tournament games.
  • Rasputina: Russian girl who got stuck with being the chosen of the cult of an angry alien God of Winter. Squishy wizard who is probably the worst of all the masters in raw stats, except that she can cast well, specifically a fuck-you area-bomb she can drop multiple times a turn. She won't kill a model in one turn, just that in two turns she will combo her spell and knock all your crew to an ass-hair's width from death. Has Ice golems which shatter on death making them very difficult to deal with while she's throwing her blizzard spell around. Best mage archetype in the game and ok for a first master for people familiar with playimg skirmish games.
  • Marcus: Probably insane, is a Druid, but not the game breaking D&D 3.5 kind, he came to Malifaux to study the nature there, but become invigorated by the magics in the air and became George of the Jungle, Old Black Guy Version(r). Generally is liked and sort of balanced, but is way underpowered in general and in the meta sits he way down at the bottom. No idea why he's with the Arcanists as all available data tells us he loves animals too much to care about humans. His crew are mostly beasts and work best as a hit-and-run strategy, except anything that can do the kind of damage needed is too slow to keep pace with him. 2E finally gives us some backstory, him being a college professor and an incredibly old fuck, older than Ramos, that went into the woods and fucked a bear or something, and gained beast magic, and regaining youth. Otherwise, essentially the same lore-wise.
  • Colette Du Bois: Runs weird doll showgirls, can swap places like a puppeteer kind of character (but not THE actual puppeteer; Collodi), can setup interesting strategies and tactics with her maneuverability. Visually her crew looks like Seamus, but with store dummies instead of dead hookers. Has some really good tactical tricks but is fucked if they let a combat heavy model get an opening before she can pull a fast one to get out.
  • Kaeris: One of the better Henchmen choices and more competitive than Marcus, Kaeris is like that girl from Firestarter or Carrie, only with mechanical wings and strong Union movement connections. She works for Ramos by doing sabotage and black ops stuff for the union. Makes very good use of models with Flame abilities, which allows her to put out higher than expected damage. Good crew selection too, can play very good ranged combat which applies fire. Her special forces are the M & SU Assets division, basically mining and heavy industry stuff with some odd Arcanist shit in the mix because blue collar wizardry steampunk right? Becomes a master in 2E.
  • Ironsides: Ramos's strong arm when dealing with rogue arcanists and the gal to go rouse up the people when the Guild becomes to comfortable with their leather chairs and twirled mustaches. She is a close quarters combat master who have little to no magic besides the Adrenaline condition, which she builds up by, well, doing what she does best. Which is to charge anything that doesn't look like Lord Chompy Bits or Lady Justice and go to town. Plays like a combination of Mah Tucket and Ramos, without either one's special abilities, but with their higher stats and an uppercut from hell.
  • Sandeep: An Indian man who is an expert gamin summoner and teacher. His crew is based around summoning gamin models as well as supporting other spellcasters.

Neverborn[edit]

Glass-cannon beatdown forces. They can put out incredible levels of hurt, but can also die quickly. Very straightforward with some Masters, while others take a bit of getting used to, then completely shut down the game for your opponent. Topping the meta with Guild right now, as they seem to get all the best units, and do horrible things to your opponent. Their masters basically benefit from alpha striking everything in, shredding the opponent, and then calling it a game, because they've won, baby.

Fluffed as the original inhabitants of the hellish plane that the storyline takes place on, they just want to eat souls and kill the humans who invaded.

Masters[edit]

  • Pandora: As in Pandora's Box. Basically her plan is to get you punched by your opponent. Forces willpower duels, a lot of willpower duels. Gets annoying buffs/debuffs every time an opponent fails in addition to whatever punishment failing the duel causes. She basically can sit in a bullet-proof port-a-loo in the middle of the table and make anyone her bitch. Has creepy children as her best friends. Neverborn are like that.
  • Zoraida: Fugly Voodoo Witch. Has awesome as control play, probably the best master in the game to do it with. Honestly only downside is horrible as a hellhole of a face. Is like Tzeentch's Southern cousin with a face like Nurgle. Pretty much claims to be behind everything, which is probably true because no one wants that face in front of them. Can take anything with a willpower stat of 4 or less, which gives her an incredibly diverse selection for her crew, which is good because her starter box is retarded in terms of viability, you will just buy her model and her Voodoo doll totem which is not included in the box and then whatever cheesey combo of models you want. Honestly her starter box is almost Marcus level bad except Zoraida can still piss all over your opponent with her control abilities and her evasive raven form. Her "avatar" form is her as a hot chick, because God forbid the good folks at Wyrd put one lady character into their game you wouldn't want to fuck.
  • Lilith: Aggressive, extremely aggressive bitch queen of rapid assault melee plays. Uses Nephilim to do her bidding, which are basically demonic looking thingies that everyone draws/sculpts for Nephilm, instead of the golden bald giants from the Bible. Can use Nephilim young who look like silly Japanese chibi versions of adult Nephilim. Was Queen of Alpha Strike until the master below turned up. Is infamous for her ability to ignore terrain like solid brick walls with her melee attack meaning she can freely wail on your master while they can't target her or even run away from their position because Lilith will get a free strike, this is fun as fuck to do. Essentially killed off in 3rd edition, not playable in normal tournament games.
  • The Dreamer & Lord Chompy Bits: A young boy psychic on Earth day dreams. In Malifaux an ungodly monster in the shape of that boy terrorizes everyone. The King of the Demons wanted to possess the kid and basically wreak untold havoc on Earth... the kid enslaved him and called him Lord Chompy Bits. Until a massive nerfing that affected his crew's core mechanics and himself, this guy was borderline unbeatable, he starts as a little kid, but can zoom around, and if he's killed or if his controller decides to "bury" him Lord Chompy Bits comes out, or The Dreamer can drop his whole crew on whoever the poor bastard he's standing next too, and then pick them up before they get shot up. Lord Chompy Bits is in the top 3 heaviest hitting melee beast in the game, isn't the toughest, but anything within range of the Dreamer and by extension him is already dead. Seriously this little boy and his demon king nearly broke the game, being able to threaten the whole battlefield from turn 1.
  • Collodi: An ancient living puppet that carves children into killer puppets. Has some amazing board control and mobility tricks, can convert everything around him into a killing machine for a turn with his buffs, allowing you to trade lower valued Dolls for more expensive enemies. Or he can sacrifice these dolls to gain some great buffs for himself.
  • Titania: One of the original Neverborn, but undead. Queen of the Fae. Her strategy revolves around spreading terrain around the board that her crew ignores. Her totem can sacrifice itself to summon back a model that was killed during the game.

Outcasts[edit]

Basically, everybody else. Most of them start with no soulstone cache, but make up for it in their own special way. Masters can have ridiculous learning curves; Leviticus basically benefits by the player learning how to kill himself. Other Masters have similar tricks, and can do horrible things.

Fluff-wise, they're all over the place.

Masters[edit]

  • Leveticus: The Cancer that is killing Malifaux is his title, but only in the game's setting though. Necro-steampunk zen guy. Basically he will die. repeatedly. It makes him one of the hardest masters to beat and to learn. Plays the most balls out offence game, even against alpha strike Neverborn. He can also summon a pretty powerful Desolation Engine from his Steampunk Abominations that he made out of the mangled remains of your crew/his crew. His crew is limited (initially) and the best choices are unique shit as bizarre and prone to loop dying as he is, ergo assassination or slaughter is just unfair against him. The real fun comes from his ability to, with one of two upgrades, take any non-gremlin construct or undead from out of faction, giving him a massive recruiting pool. Being the first to play him in a local meta will net you a lot of easy wins because he has very little in common with anything else in the game.
  • The Viktorias: Basically Viktoria went on an adventure in hellish plane of Malifaux and met a doppelganger, they became friends. You get two for one here. One has a pistol the other one has Katanna and will cleave shit up all over the place. Twin shenanigans and the like. Their crew is basically a bunch of punk-goth chicks out for a fun night out on the town. WITH FUCKING KATANAS. While tricky to learn and play, the Viks have some amazing synergies, allowing them to slingshot eachother accross the board and slice even the toughest foe to ribbons in a single turn. They're so fast it's not even funny.
  • Hamelin The Plagued: Basically one big homage to the Pied Piper of Hamelin, Hamelin was originally a rat-catcher sewer dweller, but now he's trying to conquer Malifaux. He has lots of rats. Like more than in Mexico City, New York and Hong Kong combined. Neverborn have the advantage of being able to attempt to alpha strike him and then trying to keep their casualties from causing a draw or one of those out of nowhere losses, this works like none of the time.
  • Von Schill: Badass German merc, leads the Freikorps, which are a PMC of Badass German mercs. Good choice for people starting Malifaux and don't know what to play, as his crew is generic but solid out of the box, while he himself is the good looking god of death jumping across walls and houses. Also he looks like Hul***REDACTED***
  • Tara: Dual faction Ressurectionist Tara is an undead bitch that doesn't give a fuck about anything. She got Shot Through the Heart (and the Guild's to blame), went into a plane of literal nothingness where another chick was too late to bring her back to life, but she made her undead and arguably even more badass than before. Although somewhat underpowered when compared to other masters, she has the super-power of being able to ACTIVATE TWICE IN EVERY TURN. Her crew are a bunch of creepy-crawlies that she brought back with her from the void. Her main gimmick is somewhat counter-intuitive - giving the enemy Fast is not really something you'd normally do... But Tara does it and makes it work surprisingly well. Also, she's a mean bury-er.
  • Jack Daw: Tormented ghost of a hanged man who somehow isn't Ressers. He and his crew are quite slow but have a lot of movement tricks such as teleporting, but their main focus is cursing the opponent's lynchpin models with some random but deadly curses. One of which can just straight up kill certain models unless they pay a hefty resource tax. Jack can also pull cursed models out of position and damage them by ripping the curses off them and moving the curse to something else. Works well with Tormented-type models like the Guilty, the Drowned and the Hanged, which all get different buffs when attacking cursed models. Quite difficult to get the hang of, but fun. Has one of the best lines in the fluff: Jack now wanders Malifaux, looking for a woman he does not recognize in order to avenge a crime he cannot remember.
  • Parker Barrows: A bandit that is known for robbing banks, trains, etc... Classic outlaw from the law. His crew is based around scheme marker manipulation.

Ten Thunders[edit]

An ancient ninja clan that has left the 3 Kingdoms (Which is China with lots of traditionalist poor people and well armed rich people instead of the game's normal 1870s aesthetic, but fuck logic right, its ninjas? The Three Kingdoms are China, Japan and Vietnam fused together in an empire) to form a powerbase inside Malifaux. They have a lot of Dual-Faction models which represents the clan infiltrating the 6 other factions, including somehow convincing the Neverborn to not eviscerate and soul rape them. This means that they are only 60% Weaboos, and 40% whisky drinking hardmen. This is mostly because of how each main faction already has a suit assigned to it, and Outcasts are a mess across the whole board, so instead each master is dependant on the suits associated with their other faction. The exception is their leader who is not dual faction and works like an outcast Master.

Masters[edit]

  • Misaki; Mistress of the Ten Thunders: Dual-Outcasts ninja assassin master, very combat, 1 v 1 focused, does incredibly amounts of damage in melee, on par with Lord Chompy Bits. Some crew support, but being able to take Ten Thunders crew members means she has a reliable crew.
  • Lucas McCabe: Dual-Guild Master, mounted and has access to sets of relics that let him slow or paralyse models, he also gets tougher when he's surrounded, has access to Guild units including the Watcher is almost mandatory if you want to have good card control. His unique mechanics are, aside from riding a horse,is being able to give away relics. Definitely not Indiana Jones.
  • Mei-Feng: Dual-Arcanist master, specialises in Metal and Earth, also uses a martial arts combo system so expect players running her crew to sing "EVERYBODY WAS KUNG-FU FIGHTING!!!" during her activations, also reeks of Avatar fandom weabooness, not CGI Furry Avatar, the badass 2 cartoons about Aang and Korra with the Terribad M.Nightshamalamadingdong live action movie. Her unique mechanic are her combo chain triggers that allow her to pull off her crazy kung fu. When she starts its going to hurt.
  • Jakob Lynch: Dual-Neverborn master, because the human chunk is in debt up to his eyeballs to the Chinese mob. Uses a status effect called Brilliance, its like a curse, radiation, a horrible disease, and crack cocaine, except the junkies have a lot more tentacles than humans should possess. His trick is to get Brilliance on everything and charge the Hungering Darkness out, which is stronger based on how many models have Brilliance and allows it to do a lot of damage to models with Brilliance. Lynch runs a club where the staff are either Neverborn Skinwalkers or humans possessed by Brilliance, which makes him the only Neverborn aligned thing to actually interact with humans in a method other than evisceration. His crew also contains the first prostitutes that aren't zombies, ghosts or mannequins, they're just possessed by Brilliance which they spread to clients, which means its probably also an STI...
  • Yan Lo: Dual-Resurrectionist master. Undead necromancer who uses Ancestor spirits and can store them when they pass, gaining benefits for doing so, meaning if you massacre his crew he can be very hard to deal with, or he can resummon his heavy henchmans, because hey having an undo button is fun in tabletop games. Because he uses a specific type of spirit token, he works well with other Resurrectionists in Brawls, if you go with the rare 3 Master Brawl, he goes really well with the normal Kirai+anyone who does zombies setup. Also like Kirai he has utility functions. His unique mechanic is having 3 upgrades that he can gain over the course of a match by earning Chi points, allowing you to adapt him on the fly.
  • The Brewmaster: Dual-Gremlins master. Gets everybody drunk, which means if you're a Gremlin you become the hulk and if you're anything else you collapse into a puddle of vomit and shame. Has some permanently drunk buddies who reverse their modifiers: Any positives they get become negatives, and any negatives they get become positives. Makes for some bizarre play where the Brewmaster's crew intentionally gets themselves into the worse situations and comes out top. Has the power to induce drinking contests, which is nastier than you think, because while the enemy is chugging das boot, they can’t do anything else, essentially repeatedly wasting their turn as they poison themselves over and over.
  • Shenlong: The only pure Ten Thunders master. Some talented monk who saw a very bright sunset, went up into a temple on the top of a mountain and came back having become the sunset and being possessed by something only known as "The Dragon". As you do. The latest Master to the party, no one knows exactly what he does, 'cause he hasn't been released. Seems to be the leader of the clandestine invasion the Ten Thunders lead on Malifaux.

Gremlins[edit]

Take one part orks, one part Deliverance, one part hillbillies, and one part drunken game dev, and you've got the Gremlins. Creatures who were in Malifaux before humans, but somehow are redneck gobbos and not Neverborn. Not very smart on their own, but pretty good at copying things, and since humans are smart... Have a very casual attitude towards death, since so many things in the swamp are ready to kill them - even the pigs they rear for food and combat are capable of eating them whole. They spend the whole game blowing themselves up, accidentally shooting each other, and sending pigs flying at the opponent. Hilarious and workable, but they're absolutely fucked against a Hamelin list. General approach to battle is a horde of cheap, dumb gremlins supported by nastier swamp critters (mostly giant hogs, but also giant mosquitoes and giant gators).

Fun-fact; if you can handle the smooth-skinned no-nose look and slightly glowy solid-colored eyes, most of the female gremlin characters make pretty good monstergirls. About the only exceptions are Mah Tuckett (who is fat and old), Meris LaCroix (who is a fat gremlin chick strapped to a rocket) and The Little Lass (who is a loli). Definite points have to go to Trixiebelle, who is... well, stacked. [See for yourself.]

Masters[edit]

  • Som'er Teeth Jones: The hillbilly gremlin master. Its 40k Orks but in a different game system and modelled on rednecks instead of English football hooligans. One case of good blatant ripoff in Malifaux. Has very diverse list builds and not correctly guessing what he's taking is going to be difficult to deal with on the table, though he does have a slant towards the horde approach. He also possesses the most tricks to apply damage to models that bypasses defenses, armor, damage reduction etc, one of these methods is a fucking aoe fart nuke, like the worst fart you've had after a Vindaloo curry and few pints of lager. Naturally he has a crew build where this fart nuke is going to hit your crew 4-5 times a turn.
  • Ophelia Lacroix: Basically Ophelia and her family cosplay as the Ortegas, only they're Gremlins so expect lulz. They have better shooting than normal gremlins and are tougher, but still like having numbers. Ophelia's special force is The Kin, basically her family, like the Ortegas, only really hillbilly. Got promoted from a Henchman to a Master when Gremlins got upgraded to full-factions status in 2.
  • Ulix: Old peg-legged gremlin who specialises in training, breeding and herding pigs. Naturally, if this guy is the boss, the force should be comprised mostly of pigs. Nasty pigs. Moves very slow, but can "ride" pigs and so get free move actions if he sticks close to them.
  • Mah Tucket: Vicious, ugly old gremlin matriarch who beats peoples' heads in with a wooden spoon. She's the best melee combat master that gremlins have.
  • Wong: Crazy gremlin who essentially mugged Lo Pan from Big Trouble in Little China, and stole his clothes, which he uses to blow enemies up real good. Zaps enemies with lightning, explodes objectives, and can turn enemies into piglets. Playing Wong is all about letting Wong do half the killing; Wong doesn't synergies well with many models, so he will mostly run around melting any poor fuck dumb enough to stand near him, and doing half the work while his crew either supports him, distracts enemies, or plays the objective game. Tends to either win by a landslide or get slapped like a bitch and lose instantly.
  • Zipp: The only Insignificant Master and a sky pirate - leads a crew of gremlins riding metal skeeters, drops pianos on things, and carries Earl Burns (his totem and hostage) around to interact for him.
  • Dual Factioners: Can also be led by Zoraida of the Neverborn and the Brewmaster, who is a Ten Thunders dual-master who specializes in Poison attacks and making the enemy so drunk off their ass they can barely see you, let alone attack you.

Tactics[edit]

See Also[edit]