Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Comparing Malifaux and Warmachine/Hordes

For those tracking me through IABN, I've been a bit out of the loop as I've been trying out Malifaux the last couple weeks and painting non-Privateer stuff since I finished eThagrosh. Painting other model lines is not really a big change for me, but playing a different game is definitely a change. I've been playing Warmachine/Hordes exclusively (in terms of miniatures games) for about 5 years now. I've debated picking up other games over that time (Confrontation and Flames of War most notably), but never did take the plunge. Malifaux however lured me in. So I wanted to take some time to share my experience of Malifaux so far in the context of having been a Warmachine/Hordes player.

This is my own personal view. I'm not a hardcore gamer. I'm not trying to promote one game over the other. I plan to keep playing both games.

What I like about Warmachine and Hordes (herein refereced as WM/H):
* Excellent models - Overall the models are high quality. Painting is an important aspect of the hobby to me, so if a game has lame models, I'm unlikely to play it.
* Focus/Fury mechanics - I really like these mechanics, particularly the Fury mechanic. I think they create an interesting resource management aspect to the game.
* Giant Robots! - Warjacks and Warbeasts are a very cool feature of the game. I like the idea that these huge hulking critters are intimately tied to the leader of the army.
* Cards for models - Yah, I know, but I'm listing it anyway. I love having the cards for the models during the game. Makes things easier.

What I like about Malifaux so far:
* Skirmish scale - It really is skirmish scale. Each model is a character unto itself. There are no units in this game. To give a point of comparison, it's like having an army of all solos. Even the simplest model has a comparable number of rules to it as Aiyana from WM/H.
* Cards instead of dice - The card mechanic is pretty intriguing. It brings a new form of strategy to the game in the form of resource management of your control hand, and it allows you to bend probabilities to make sure a plan works instead of relying on averages.
* Models are majestic - Seriously, I really like the majority of the models. They are characterful and every one of them is unique. No soul-crushing unit painting weeks.
* Slim simplified rules - Ok, I'll admit that there are rules questions and a FAQ is definitely needed, however overall the rules are pretty sleek. LOS, movement, actions, duels... they all move swiftly during gameplay and don't require as many of the "I need a neutral decision here" moments.

Some key differences:
* Turn order - Malifaux turn order is different, with each player takes turns activating models. This is contrasted with WM/H's complete army activation turns.
* Dice vs Cards - This isn't so much the substantive difference as how the "resource management" aspect plays out. In WM/H you manage Focus/Fury as a resource to boost rolls. In Malifaux you use the Control Hand as a resource to "cheat" card flips and improve success rates.
* Missions - Malifaux focuses a wide variety of missions and in fact the game is meant to be played using their random mission chooser. Typically when I play WM/H, every mission is basically assassination. This causes the game balancing to work differently between the two.
* Terrain - Malifaux is best played with dense terrain, whereas WM/H is best played with moderate to sparse terrain.
* Army size - A typical WM/H battle of 500pts is usually going to be around 20 to 25 models on average. That could easily vary from 5 to 50+ though depending on the faction and the focus on the army. A Malifaux "scrap" which would be the equivelent smaller-sized game would typically be around 7 to 12 models.

Summary: If I like Warmachine and Hordes, will I like Malifaux?
* If you like the larger scale battles and engaging in strategy at that larger force level, then no, you won't. Malifaux is more about a smaller scale skirmish and the playing out of troop formations is absent from the gameplay.
* If you like forming the "No Quarter" set of actions on your turn and playing it out by moving all your forces in a particular order to unravel the puzzle, then no, you won't. Malifaux's turn sequence creates a more fluid game in terms of how to plan your turn.
* If you like rolling lots of dice, then no, you won't. Nuff said.
* If you like emergent interactions between multiple complex models in your army, then yes, you'll like it. Every model is complex and many of them are unique characters that there an only be 1 fielded of. It makes for many interesting combinations.
* If you like missions over pure assassination, then yes, you'll like it. Malifaux puts more emphasis on the mission, allowing you to win even if you end up losing all of your mission objectives in the game.
* If you like games with more turns, then yes, you'll like it. Every game I've played has gone at least 6 rounds. The game actually has a minimum of 6 rounds.
* If you like spending more time painting fewer models for an army, then yes, you'll like it.

Overall, I'd suggest giving it a try. The base sizes are all the same as WM/H, so worst case you pick up the main book, proxy models for a couple battles, and you've ended up spending $35 bucks and a few hours on the chance of finding a new game. Hopefully this has been helpful, and if there are questions feel free to post a comment here.


Deacis said...

Thanx for the helpful comparison!

If I want to proxy, do I need to buy a Fate deck too for every player?

45caliberidea said...

Fate decks are nothing more than regular playing card decks with Malifaux specific artwork. The rules even tell you how to translate the normal suits into the Malifaux specific suits. Just be sure your playing card deck includes 2 jokers.


M said...

Thanks for the reveiw. I've loved the Malifaux models, but now you have piqued my interest to try the game.

dragonlady said...

Nice comparison!!
It definitely gives me fuel to try out the game.

AoM said...

That FAQ should hit within 2 weeks. ;-)