|Malifaux, why not?|
I'd just like to start this post off right - Malifaux by Wyrd Miniatures is hands down the best skirmish game available on the market. If you haven't given it a go yet, I can't recommend it highly enough. You might be asking yourself, "But Danny, you're a great war gamer, tell me what makes this game so amazeballs?"
That's an excellent questions, and one that I'd be happy to explain to you.
1. Malifaux doesn't use -any- dice.
|Fate Deck Sample|
Now, just flipping cards against each other might sound like you're just playing War or Slap Jack, but that's where Cheating Fate comes in. Each player has a hand of 6 or more cards, which they can substitute in rather than the card they flipped on the duel. This allows you to potentially trump your opponent...unless they too Cheat Fate!
Not only does the duel total matter - it matters what Suites you get in your duel as well! Some models have defensive triggers that happen when they are targeted by actions and fail, or, more often, models have triggers that go off on their offensive actions that give additional effects to their attacks or actions! As you can see, there's quite a bit of strategy in just planning on how and when to cheat.
2. Malifaux has great rules balance.
I have yet to read the stat card for models that I've found to be criminally under powered. It seems to be there's always a good reason to take any model, as long as it fits in your faction or in the strategy/scheme pool that you're playing (more on this later). The interactions are very well defined (though sometimes complicated), and most abilities are clearly explained in the main rule book. If it's not in the main rule book, then it is always explained well on the cards for the model!
In addition, the factions are fairly mutable - many Masters (a leader like a Warcaster in WM/H) can be played for multiple factions, and some Masters can take models that have certain keywords from -any- faction. So you can get a lot of bang for your buck and play one type of list in many different styles.
Malifaux uses an I-go/You-go system, so it feels very interactive. I haven't played a game yet where i felt like my opponent was just doing things to me and I couldn't mitigate them by either Cheating Fate or using my model's abilities.
Also, for the more tournament-minded player, they have a great set of missions that only apply to tournaments (though we use them for fun games pretty much exclusively). They also put out FAQ's and Erratas if they're in need - I believe they've only put out 6 or 7 since the 2nd edition game released 4 years ago.
3. Malifaux has the best mission system I've ever played.
|Some tidbits from the Schemes and Strategies deck|
This is probably the best thing about Malifaux. No, full stop, this is the best part about the game. Before you pick your army, you tell your opponent what faction you'll be playing (there are 7 total), and then you flip cards to see what the Strategy and Schemes will be. After this, you build you list. You're never caught out with the wrong list for the mission - you build the list that will work the best for what you're trying to do!
The Strategy is the over-arching mission that both you and your opponent will be playing. This is the main mission, and there are 10 different Strategies that could potentially come up. This leads to a great variety of different play styles - some are about killing enemy models, but most are about having models in certain zones.
Then you have the Schemes. Schemes are the goals you are trying to achieve. These can either be secret, or you can tell your opponent what you're trying to do in order to make them worth additional points. You generate 5 different schemes, then in secret both players choose 2 of them. Most Schemes rely of Scheme Markers in order to score points. Scheme Markers are an empty base that most models can place (as long as they're not in close combat), and represent your faction picking up intel, placing warding stones, listening devices, spies etc. Whatever you imagine them to be! Enemies can attempt to remove them, but they stick around until the end of the game otherwise. By placing these in certain areas, you use them to achieve your objective. It's up to your opponent to guess what you're up to!
At the end of every turn after the first, you score points. The game usually lasts 5 turns (though it's random, so it could be as many as 8!). There's no kill-off rule, so if you lose every single model, but still have more victory points than your opponent from achieving your objectives, you still win the game! I love that about this game - because sometimes, your opponent will just be running roughshod through your whole army, but you're trying to trying to complete your objectives...then at the end of the game, you might have one or two dudes left, but you still win because you concentrated on what the victory conditions were, rather than wholesale slaughter. It helps to tone down the power gaming quite a bit.
4. Malifaux has amazing theme and models.
I can't say enough how rad the models are for this game. The best part - their entirely plastic. While most people would say that GW has the market cornered on plastic miniature kits - I'd say that Wyrd definitely puts out a product that's just as good. The details are small and sometimes fiddly, but they are such amazing sculpts. I like the more proportional style as opposed to the heroic style that GW uses. But honestly, great models to paint and build!
They also release special edition models - these models have the same rules as normal, run of the mill models, but they release them in other formats, like gender-bent models or sets cast in clear plastic.
So, not only are the models gorgeous, but the themes for them actually work. So if a model works with another one in the background, in the game they often have mechanics or keywords that make them work well with that model. So not giving them overt buffs like free models in formations or theme force price reductions, but rather the models that actually work the best together work that way in the game too! I hope that GW follows this trend in the future; though I'm not sure how they'd implement that.
5. In summation...
...you should be playing Malifaux. I know that our local Henchman (Wyrd Sponsored helper) would love to show anyone and everyone how to play! Plus, Matt is a pretty good guy, and I'm sure he'd be happy to give you the low-down on getting started with models to buy to get started, or let you use some of his fantastically painted dudes to show you how to push Malifaux dollies across the table. Matt typically demos at Tier 1 Cards and Games in Anchorage on Mondays, so if you're interested let him know!