So I got myself a Lady J set because hey, flaming ghostrider like miniatures. Who doesn't love that? The whole set is in hard plastic for those who like that kind of stuff. Got to admit, it made assembling the whole thing so much easier.
I assembled and painted some of my figures but I still didn't know how to play the game. So I needed a demo game. Not a great fan of how small some of the parts are, making them insanely hard to glue into place.
Ended up heading down the local gaming club for a demo. This was where I was pitted against yet another new player and it was both our first game while the more experienced players talked us through it. We were playing with the basic boxes with Lady J vs the 10 Thunders.
The set-up for Malifaux was pretty confusing at first but then I just likened it to rolling for scenario in Warmachine. You have a choice of 5 scheme IIRC and you end up choosing 2. Those are how you'll win the game, by earning Victory Points from each scheme. You can choose to reveal the schemes or you can choose to keep them secret. Choosing to reveal them usually has some bonus VP attached to it but it also makes it easier for your opponent to thwart you since he knows what you're doing.
Then you choose your crew and whatever upgrades you want. In this case, I opted to go for 3 upgrades on Lady J herself and just convert the unused pointage into soulstones. Soulstones are useful since certain models; usually the higher ranked ones can use them for certain effects during the game. And then you draw your hand and finally flip for initiative.
Unlike other table-top games, in Malifaux, you use a poker deck to determine the results of actions. In essence, the poker deck is your 'dice'. You usually have an attacking stat while the defender has his defense stat and you both flip a card and add the value to the stat. If the attacker ties with or is greater than the defender, the attacker wins. Even the suit of the of the card can end up giving you certain effects for the attack (think of it as critical effects in Warmachine). There are of course various modifiers that can effect your draw in terms of postive flips (modifiers) and negative flips(modifiers). A positive flip is you draw +1 extra card and take the highest value. The negative is draw +1 extra and take the lowest value. However, to represent random chance, 2 cards in the entire deck represent total failure (black joker) and total success (red joker), just like double 6s and double 1s in Warmachine. You can also substitute cards in from your hand if you have a high card in hand and you drew a really shitty card.
So I ended up deploying most of my models close together. My opponent won the initiative for the first turn so he decided to make me go first. I guess he was afraid of the shooting the death marshals had. At this point, I'm still very new to the game and I didn't really concern myself with the schemes too much, instead thinking of ways to kill him. At the end of the turn, we shuffle our discard pile back into the deck. Then we choose cards to discard from hand, followed by drawing back to our maximum hand size of 6. This means all the good/bad values from the previous turn are cycled back into the deck while we can drop useless cards from our hand.
So I managed to get myself onto the bridge while seeking hard cover. Meanwhile his Misaki was zipping around trying to lay down scheme markers and Ototo was slowly making his way towards me.
The initial first few exchanges saw him the victor with the very first casaulty being one of my death marshals. Noooooooo. However, I managed to place down a scheme marker with his death so that was good. Ototo then killed off another Death marshal and this time he was too far to place a scheme marker that was of any use. However, then Ototo ended up being pine-boxed....on Round 3.
With his biggest hitter out, Lady J and the Judge quickly made short work of the remaining ninjas while laying down scheme markers. Meanwhile Misaki was still laying down scheme markers of her own and slowly making her way across the rough terrain. We check on turn 5 to see if the game continues and it does.
I continue laying down more scheme markers while making sure Ototo is contained, substituting cards from hand whenever I need to. Misaki kills my Scales of fate. He breaks outs on turn 6 but then I spent 2 actions pine-boxing him back. Lol. We check to see if it continues and it does. Onto turn 7.
Misaki charges the judge but fails to kill him with the 2nd attack or even drop him below 2 health. Meaning he's now impossible to kill thanks to hard to kill. Everytime she tries to do lethal damage, I just drop cards since I had an absolutely horrible hand. Ototo tries to break out again but fails. No Ototo, bad Ototo. Finally the game ends.
We check for Scheme markers and tally VP and I'm ahead thanks to the last few turns, leaving me the winner.
Overall thoughts on the system? I feel that due to the way Malifaux combat is structured, you're less likely to spike on the damage than you are with rolling dice. It's an interesting mechanic although I think my deck was cursed to give me nothing but 2-3s in the first two turns :P. It's an interesting system and it works, although there is a lot of card flipping at times. Certainly, I wouldn't mind playing more Malifaux.