The starter box is probably the thing I am most excited for which will be released this Gen Con (though that’s tough, because I’m hugely proud of the campaign system and Shifting Loyalties book) so I wanted to talk a bit about it! I know some of the images have been released already, but I talk a bit about how it all works below.
So, first, what we already know:
The box will run $65 dollars and include all new fate decks! Samples:
And model renders:
Alright, onto the meat!
The starter booklet is divided into five teaching games, which allow players to learn as they experience the game. Each one builds on previous games with new concepts until you know how to play Malifaux! It is very much designed to be used by two people who have NEVER played a miniatures game, and get them ready for the full glory of Malifaux by the time they’re done.
After a few explanations of what a miniatures game is, how to read a stat card, the fate deck, etc. the players begin playing.
In game one, each player has one minion (Bloodwretch for Neverborn and Orderly for Guild). They start out next to each other and the booklet explains how an opposed duel works along with cheating fate, damage, etc. The players take turns attacking until one dies. However, Accuracy modifiers are not introduced at this time (they are introduced later along with and flips. Accuracy modifiers are a common stumbling point for new players, and remember we want people to be able to learn from this box with no help). It’s also worth noting that there is no need to explain Triggers at this point, as none of the basic minions have any.
This may seem like an odd starting point. But I think that the opposed duel (along with cheating) is really the heart of Malifaux and what separates it from other games. I’ve seen other starters begin with movement, but after years of doing demos and with the advice of the henchmen who playtested this, we determined that starting people in the action is really the way to get them interested!
In game two each player gets two minions (two orderlies and two bloodwretches, depending on the Faction). This game walks you through alternating activations, AP, walk actions (along with movement and measuring) and initiative.
Since game 1 has taught the players the basics of how “fighting” in the game works (i.e. opposed duels) game 2 sets up the opportunity for players to start learning how to bring the tactics to that fight with positioning, AP, and Activation order. While game 1 introduced cheating fate, the heart of Malifaux, game 2 introduces the heart of miniature gaming as a whole.
In game 3 players add their respective Henchman to the two minions they already have. The Henchmen have more advanced things on their stat cards such as Triggers, zero Actions, and pulses. This game also introduces and flips, so it also explains how Accuracy Modifiers work. Again, I know Accuracy Modifiers are a key element of damage, but introducing concepts with a gradual progression is a very important teaching tool.
In game 4 the players add the two Enforcers (Nurse Heartsbane and the Scion of Black Blood), completing the box set and learning more complex concepts which those models have access to such as: simple duels, Target Numbers (particularly how target numbers work within an opposed duel), defensive triggers, interact actions, and conditions.
In game 5, the players attach their Henchman’s Upgrade and learn the basics of Upgrades and Soulstone use.
There are other concepts which are included in the games but I haven’t listed as this is getting long, such as charging, engagement range, shooting into engagements, cover, etc (likely along with a few I’m forgetting!). Point being, after game 5 the new players should have a very good understanding of the game save for how the individual strategies and schemes work (although the games introduce the basic concepts of VP as well). And with the free rules manual download, they will be able to fill in any holes in their understanding they may yet still have, with the advantage of knowing the basic structure which creates a game.
Oh, and the Faction dynamics of the models were switched up a bit (with Neverborn getting some shooting and Guild getting some fast melee) to hopefully make these models more appealing to you veterans despite the simplicity in design that being included in the starter necessitates.
A lot of thought, effort, and testing went into this (I know Lee from Fools Daily made his poor wife play it until she never wanted to see another miniature again, just to get a new player’s perspective), and I can’t wait for you all to get your hands on it!
-Justin Gibbs, lead Malifaux designer