This is a review of my impressions from looking at the Malifaux rulebook itself. The review is written from the timescale/point of view of me having not yet played an actual game of Malifaux. As I said, the review is of the rulebook itself.
The first thing to hit me, as soon as I got the book in hand was that even though this is only a skirmish game with perhaps five models battling each other, the book has a nice size to it.
For those people who appreciate the finer qualities of workmanship in their books, this is a book that you will respect and want to look after.
The book itself is pleasing to hold, somehow. I know that might sound strange, but there’s just something about it. The feel of the cover and the pages, the thick quality stock of paper used on the pages themselves, the entire thing being full colour front to back, given an artificially worn look to the backgrounds as a border edging printed on the pages and so on. Every page supports the look and feel of the world.
The book is a paperback but so well made that to hold it at one side, it bends down on the other with an “American pizza” like quality to it, but always feeling well supported.
For any of you who know the history of how this came about, you’ll know why the book is so, but for those who do not, I shall explain.
The miniatures used in this game were not originally designed as miniatures for a game…
In December 2005 Nathan Caroland let loose these humorously sick and brilliant models on the world and ‘Wyrd Miniatures’ was created.
There was no supported game but people bought them for the sheer love of the miniatures. The challenge and delight in painting them amused painters all over the world. To him, behind closed doors it seems a game system was to be a natural evolution. Bear in mind though, this game was designed by artists, even those he took on to help him create it. Because artists, sculptors and creators are behind the very game itself, breathing life into their works of art, of course the rulebook would be spectacular too, of course it would!
The pages are sturdily stuck in place. They don’t feel like they’ll ever come loose. It’s soft back, so is easy and inviting to pick up and hold. There’s no cracking of a spine upon turning the beautifully rendered pages, just slick slipping by of one page after another as you flick the pages to the place you’re trying to find. It’s a delight to thumb through!
The vibrantly coloured artwork inside is suitably twisted in theme, you see many a “malign foe” there…
The pictures inside are a really good likeness of the models themselves, showing that in miniature model form they have captured the entire look of all complex components and “toon” type visual they are going for.
The storyline (or fluff as it’s called in player circles) for the main characters in the world is laid out in instalments, like ongoing chapters to a novel. Each piece reveals more information about the models you will be playing at the table itself.
These fluff instalments, about two or three pages long at a time are interspaced between the learning rules sections and through the book. This is a great idea!
It gives you several nice breaks between taking the rules in where you can kick back and read about the world itself.
On the other side of the coin, storyline itself is less appetizing when given to you as one solid chunk too. With this system, the writers have ensured that out attention is retained throughout, and as we learn the rules, we learn the world too. That is an important fact as well, because this is indeed a skirmish game that focuses on the narrative to properly enjoy the playing experience. Anyone who has ever played a game of ‘Mordheim’ will know the ground eye level of perspective I’m getting at.
The fluff too is an absolute joy to read. The creativeness that has gone into the entire world, realising its various elements as a story setting is an achievement – and this is only the beginning!
Because the book is so nice to own, I would recommend anyone picking a copy up and reading it first if they were thinking of playing the game. Even if upon reading the mechanics they decided not to, it is a truly worthy tome.
I won’t go into too much detail about the mechanics itself. That should be for a review of the gameplay, perhaps at another time.
I will simply tell you that this skirmish game uses no dice whatsoever, relying on its own set of playing cards numbered 1-13 along with two jokers to the deck. Each player uses a deck of their own. None of this comes with the book by the way (you simply buy the book itself).
You could actually even use a deck of your own playing cards, as the amounts are the same. The rulebook even has instructions telling you what the suit conversions are if you so wished to do it that way, on a budget or to test the game. You could even use miniatures from another range as "counts as" just to test the game.
For the complexity of the mechanics inside, the book does a good job of laying things out for you at least. I will however state that there is indeed an errata and FAQ PDF file available for download and it is rather large, but most of that is clarification of wording. They took comments/questions made by the player community, gathered it all up and made one definitive “patch”. I don’t feel intimidated looking at it though.
Having spoken to one of the Wyrd staff, I discovered that I needn’t wait to purchase a potential second printing of the book, as there would at least be no update/expansion yet and I didn’t want to wait, so…
Learning the rules initially, I found I have to re-read the sections at least one extra time to make full sense of it, but it’s probably something that will make more sense when the models are actually in front of us on the table.
I feel I have a handle on the most of it.
There is a useful glossary at the back with page numbers listed as reference points, pertaining to the given rule/term.
I will know more once I play the game and use the book while doing so.
A lovely book to own – as simple as that really. I won’t let my friends get their mitts on it; they can get their own copy!
This review was originally printed at my gaming blog 'Honest Gaming Prose' here - http://honestgamingprose.blogspot.com/2010...-game-just.html