Saturday, 16 March 2013

Malifaux for Beginners - Starting a Game (Simple Version)

Editors Note - This tutorial is for version 1.5 of the Malifaux rules and has been left available for reference only. Some Malifaux 2nd Edition Tutorials can be found well as quite a few of these old ones, lol.

The set-up section of the Rulebook can seem daunting at first as it contains a lot of information. There are random tables for generating Mission, Terrain, Special Rules, Deployment type amongst others. Though these all contribute to an exciting and varied game and are highly recommended once you get the hang of the start you can get away with just the most basic of selections in order to get stuck straight into the fun bit...which as we all know is the bit where you kick some ass ;-)

I'll therefore just stick to the basics needed to get a game between two people started with the minimum of fuss and we'll do another tutorial that covers everything at a later point. This is the way I usually take people through their first game or two before adding all the extra bits.

What You Need.
A 3' by 3' Playing Area - Malifaux is played over this size area but you'll also need some space to put your stat cards, card deck and discard pile, dead models, models that you may be planning on summoning etc. Therefore a bit of extra space on each side of the board is useful (but not essential). If your familiar with other wargame systems you probably already have this sorted...if not a dining room table will do just fine.
Two Crews - One a new player you'll most likely be using a starter box each and these vary considerably in soulstone value. As far as I'm aware the lowest is 16 (Somer Teeth) and the highest is Misaki's box at 29. If there's a big variance then one of you will just have to use less models...or run out to your FLGS and buy some more ;-)

Rather helpfully one of my fellow Bloggers has written a number of articles on creating a crew for the minimum of cost. It also lists the soulstone cost of pretty much every crew and can be found here.

A Rules Manual - Though I'm happy to write a number of brilliant tutorials for some point your really going to need a rulebook. There are currently three versions. There's a 1.5 Rulebook that contains all the rules, many of the errata and all the background stories...a smaller cheaper version without all the errata and all the background stories and a free version you can download that has all the actual rules but none of the diagrams in it. That and a number of other helpful resources can be downloaded from this page.

So you've got a table, your crew and a rules manual. Now you need some stuff so you can actually play.

2 Decks of Cards - You'll need a deck each. I would recommend the standard Malifaux Fate deck for beginners as it has all the required suits and information on the card.

You can use a standard deck of cards but it will need to have both a Red Joker and a Black Joker as these cards are important in Malifaux. If you use an ordinary deck then you'll need to know which suit applies to which Malifaux suit.

Hearts = Rams
Crows = Spades
Tomes = Clubs
Masks = Diamonds

The face cards (Jack, Queen, King) are valued at 11, 12 and then 13 respectively.

A Measuring Tape - One is fine. One each is better.
Counters and Dice - You'll need something to use to keep track of your soulstone cache, wounds and effects on models, etc. A number of counters can be downloaded from the very useful resource page of Ratty as well as some other helpful bits and pieces.

Starting a Game.
In it's full form you'll select a soulstone level to play at, choose a faction, flip for your encounter location, choose a deployment type, determine a strategy type and then select your crew and choose appropriate schemes before finally deploying your crew on the table. However at the beginning you'll most likely only have a single Master and their crew and so will your opponent, have limited terrain and be spending most of your time trying to work out what the hell your doing. This article is therefore going to cut out some of the stages in order to get you started in the minimum amount of time so you can concentrate on the important aspects of the game and learning the rules. A subsequent tutorial will cover the full version ;-)

1) Select a Crew - You'll most likely only have one at this point as will your opponent. Just add up the soulstone value of the crew you have and that of your opponent and see what you've got.

The number on the front of the Masters card is it's Cache (The number of Soulstones you start the game with) not it's Cost (Masters don't cost soulstones...). This seems obvious but I've seen this mistake made on more than one occasion.

2) Select a Soulstone Value to Play at - If you only have a crew each then play at the value of whichever of those crews is highest. If the highest value crew is one that is unfortunate enough to not have a Cache (some of the outcasts start without one as do Henchmen when used as Masters) then round up a little.

3) Encounter Location - The table your using, lol. Mark out a 3' by 3' square as your play area. If you happen to have some appropriate terrain (a few trees, hills a building or two, etc.) then spread them evenly around the play area. If you don't have any terrain then you wouldn't be the first player who's terrain looked suspiciously like a vase, three cans of beans and a drinks coaster...

4) Deployment Type - You can choose one of the three, flip for it randomly or keep it simple and just go for the Standard deployment. As this is the 'Simple' version we'll go with the standard one.

5) Determine Strategy - There are two charts for this, a Core one and an Expanded one. The Core one has six choices but one of those is 'pick which one you like' so really there's only five. For learning purposes most people just use Slaughter and as you'll both be using the same strategy that becomes Shared Slaughter and it works like this...

Shared Slaughter.
Every time a player kills (or sacrifices) an enemy model during the game note down it's soulstone cost. Masters are worth 10 and those couple of Crews that come with two masters count them as 6 soulstones each. Anything that's summoned into play and then killed adds their soulstone cost to the running total and those few models that enter play by replacing another model are worth the cost of the model they replace. Those annoying models that can return to play only count when killed the first time around.

At the end of the game compare both your scores.

The player with the highest soulstone value of enemy models killed gets a Victory Point (VP). If that value is 1.5 times that of your opponent you get an extra Victory Point (VP). If your opponent has no leaders left at the end of the encounter you score +1 VP and finally, if your opponents crew at the end of the encounter is less than half the soulstone value it was at the start you get another juicy Victory Point (VP).

The one with the most VP's wins. If the VP totals are the same it's a Draw.

Obviously 'point and click' killy crews have a bit of an advantage using this particular Strategy but when your first learning the game it allows you to focus on learning the rules rather than worrying about obscure victory conditions. The 'Full' version of this guide will cover the other Strategies in detail.

6) Were using the crews we have so we can skip the 'Hire Crew' bit and we'll worry about schemes later as well. This means we can jump straight to the Deployment phase.

If we'd been flipping for everything we'd have a discard pile by now and would need to shuffle those back into your deck but being as we haven't used any yet there should be no need...unless of course that's a shiny new deck in your which case you need to shuffle the hell out of it right now or this will happen...a lot...

Or far more likely...this...

Done? good :-)

7) Deploy Crews - Both players flip a card from their (thoroughly shuffled) decks. The player with the highest card nominates a player to go first (Flip again if it's a tie) and that player deploys his whole crew in one of the appropriate areas (The diagram is in section four 'Deployment Type' on this page, the deployment areas are the shaded bits).  After all the crews are deployed the players re-shuffle their Fate decks and ready themselves to begin their game.

Flip a card each to see who goes...and then off you go

Once you've had a few games using this simple version then you can move onto the full rules...for which I'll do a tutorial as well ;-) There will also be Tutorials on all the basic mechanics appearing in the near future.


  1. i have a lot more fun with my Victorias crew than any 40k game i ever played.

    i think that says a lot about both systems. =P


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