Malifaux is a Miniatures War-game set in an alternate history/universe/dimension. The bulk of the story has taken place in an alternate dimension accessible through a magic gate known as "the breach", found in California.In the setting magic has existed for centuries, as observers noted it was becoming weaker over time, in the late 1790s a portal was found in California that lead to another world where magic was still strong. On the other side of the portal the first explorers discovered an empty city; Malifaux. In adition to being a magic-heavy world, a resource was found in Malifaux: Soulstone, an ore that stored magical power and when used by mages back on Earth to supercharge, or even just use magic in Earth's magic-poor environment. After an initial colony was set up and a mining operation to extract and ship the soulstone to Earth had been running for some time, the breach that spanned the two worlds abruptly collapsed to the sounds of slaughter, and right before the portal slammed shut, a mutilated torso was flung out of it. One hundred years later the rift has reopened, with city found to be completely empty of any human presence. The game is set four years after the breach reopened, round about the year 1900, in the city of Malifaux where the ruling body, known as the Guild controls the mining and shipping of soulstone, and maintains the only "Safe" area in the city.The game's setting is described by creator Nathan Caroland as "Steamvictoriohorrorwestpunk".There are six main factions, within them there are sub-factions that revolve around variations on the theme of that faction, leading to considerably variety between "Crews" and their Masters, the ones who lead the crews into desperate, violent battles in horror city of Malifaux:The Guild: Currently in charge of running Malifaux, they operate the mines, deal with the convict labor and try to hold off the predations of the other factions. Predominantly themed on Fascism and cowboys, their sub-factions include the Witch-hunters who are basically licensed mage-cowboy fascists hunting unlicensed non-cowboy mages, the Ortega Family of facist Mexican gunslinger cowboys, and the Death Marshalls crazy coffin-wielding undead-hating fascist cowboys. Overall this is the Jack-Of-All-Trades, Masters Of Shooting faction and depending on which Master is taken can be capable of pouring ridiculous amounts of fire on models left in the open, spell-spamming their opponents into submission or just rigorously applying steel to rotting flesh.The Arcanists: Comprised of several semi-secret groups led by mages that are opposed to The Guild's stranglehold, they form a very loose alliance aimed at fighting The Man. Their sub-factions include a Genetic engineering druid cult, an Ice magic worshipping cult and the Miners and Steamfitters Union (the guys who patch-up those steam-powered doom spiders, not a cult). The Arcanists are a trick-based faction that rely on spells to help get the job done, they are quite varied across the Masters in terms of play-style and have more spell-dependant Masters than the other factions.The Resurrectionists: Token Undead faction, although each of Masters are a quite distinct flavour of necromancy. The Resurrectionists are mages who are fascinated with death, souls and unhealthy surgery, they stand apart from The Arcanists due to Ethical differences. Sub-factions include UndeadHookers led by a Jack The Ripper Ersatz, Punk-Samurai-Zombies, as well as a standardised Frankstein-type scientist with stitched-up Zombies. Recently the acquired star-crossed lover who weaves control over ghosts. Despite all sharing the common traits of Undead, a common theme is moderately sized crews rather than spamming hordes, although this is a viable for some Masters, a lot of the time they can replace casualties rather than simply increase their numbers, making them handle attrition better in longer games, in addition to their replaceable traits they tend to have slightly tougher models than the other factions, at the cost of speed and range firepower, the Mighty Glacier faction essentially.The Neverborn: Unlike the other factions, this group is comprised of the original inhabitants of the dimension that Malifaux exists in, and they want their land back. Sub-factions are Voodoo ghouls, Demon-Vampire Hybrids, bizarre child-like entities of sadness and finally the sentient nightmares springing forth from a possibly insane 8-year old's mind. The Neverborn favour a hit-and-run strategy, lacking any real tough units they rely on sheer speed, morale affecting abilities and unusual tricks to strike and withdraw before any damage is sustained, veritably the Fragile Speedster faction.Outcasts: Not a united faction but a loose group of models that have their own agendas - from bayou redneck Gremlin hordes, to steampunk Necromancers, to a possessed ratcatcher that is a dark Pied Piper, to professional German mercenaries. This faction is a grab-bag of the other elements that don't fit into the larger factions, very similar to the Mercenaries and Minions factions from the Iron Kingdoms games. (In the recently announced Second Edition, the Gremlins will be splitting off into their own faction.) Ten Thunders: A new faction that represents an ancient Clan from Asia working its way through the power structures of Malifaux. All masters bar their leader, who is a Ninja Assassin, are joint faction models, representing their deep cover assignments to manipulate all of Malifaux, their number include a club-owning, drug-dealing, curse-spreading cardshark who hangs out with Neverborn skinwalkers while being haunted by his own literal personal demon, an Adventurer for the Guild with an interesting arsenal of relics and thugs, a kung-fu fighting railway construction unionist who uses a fighting style inspired by her industry and a not 100% intentionally reincarnated ancestral necromancer who can build up skill trees over the course of a game.The game itself is thematically similar to Games Workshop's Mordheim skirmish game, and shares some similarity with Deadlands.This game contains examples of:
After the End: This is one probable way to describe what Malifaux was like when first discovered, and when humanity entered the city after the second breach.
An Ice Person: Rasputina, and most of the cult of December, including December himself
Anime Hair: Both Viktorias in 1E. In 2E, Viktoria of Blood (the Breachside one) retains the look, while Viktoria of Ashes (the Earthside one) has more of a punk rocker hairstyle.
Anti-Magic: Sonnia and the witch hunters are specialists in using this, especially against arcanists
Badass: Anyone who volunteers for night patrol outside of Downtown after surviving a prior experience. Anyone who fights Lord Chompy Bits and survives. Death Marshalls, the Outcast faction. Generally non-badasses are defined as Guild Guards, civilians or corpses that aren't trying to kill you.
Von Schill is regarded to be with Chuck Norris in levels of badass, lore-, fandom- and mechanics-wise.
Fluffy the Terrible: Lord Chompy Bits, The Dreamer's "Imaginary Friend" actually Nyghtmare, the King of Nightmares, he tried to scare the boy who would become The Dreamer and devour his mind through the fear, but was in fact defeated and befriended/enslaved by the mysterious child.
Teddy, a giant teddy bear with a psychotic grin, teeth like kitchen knives, psycho eyes and a love heart on its chest.
Humanoid Abomination: With the exception of The Dreamer and Zoraida, who are human this applies to all Neverborn Masters and a few of their followers.
The Hunter: The Ortega family are a Mexican Cowboy variant.
Improbable Aiming Skills: At first, it seems like Perdita Ortega is able to shoot bullets in a curve. Later it is explained that reality itself is changing so she hits the target
Improbable Weapon User: Seamus uses a bag of tools to butcher his foes, Death Marshalls use magic coffins they haul around to fight zombies. Sebastian, McMourning's assistant uses a steam-powered buzzsaw to harvest organs for his boss, Kirai uses a set of gardening shears, but is more likely to cut herself with them.
Infant Immortality: Subverted, children aren't normally brought into Malifaux, so if you find any child alone and unafraid in the rough areas of the city letting them live could be the last mistake you ever make, except for The Dreamer, killing him is just as bad as letting him live His friends will pop into existence right in front of you and Mind Rape you before eating you.
Lethal Joke Character: Seamus, a well dressed dandy of a serial killer who loves to raise hookers to form his entourage, has a stupidly powerful pistol as his second most deadly attack. His most deadly attack is whacking someone with his carry bag of tools; it doesn't do damage, it just kills the model outright unless the player controlling it discards 2 cards or 2 Soulstones, considering he can't use the handgun more than once a turn, the tools are best way of making sure something dies.
Mad Scientist: Dr Douglas McMourning, who started as a coroner for the guild, and now is an insane necromancer who likes to combine body parts to create new kinds of undead.
Magicians Are Wizards: Colette Du Bois and some of her stage girls. Colette was a normal magician and illusionist before coming to Malifaux.
Mass Super-Empowering Event: Crossing the dimensional barrier between Malifaux and earth can awake the magical potential of and individual, if it doesen't kill you. Another example is "the Event" in Rising powers, who made already powerful individuals capable of assuming more powerful forms.
Mecha-Mooks: Used mostly by the guild and the arcanists
Mechanical Horse: Several chariots in Malifaux use horse shaped robots for locomotion. The mechanical rider rides one
Metagame: There is small tournament scene in the US and UK, currently its dominated by Ortega crews for their superior shooting and all the Neverborn crews for being able to Alpha Strike the enemy or put them in an unbreakable death-lock on the first turn.
Of note is Kirai, who is considered the only tournament viable Resurrectionist due to her huge utility and mobility that allows her to handle the overly powerful Ortegas and Neverborn crews.
Marcus has had a huge surge in 2012-2013 with several well-known tournament wins, despite being considered the worst master and the second worst crew leader at present.
Mind Rape: The Nightmare sub-faction of the Neverborn is entirely populated by creatures that feed on bad dreams, except for The Dreamer and Coppelius...
Murderous Mannequin: Mechanical version, used by Collete and her showgirls as dancers, assistants and bodyguards.
My God, What Have I Done?: Malifaux has so many zombies and shapeshifters that most people naturally assume Hamelin's child minions are undead or monsters. They're actually living children controlled by a Mystical Plague. When one of them is killed, the "Horrible Realization" mechanic can cause their killer to go into a Heroic BSOD.
Mystical Plague: Hamelin started a epidemic in Malifaux after being possessed by a tyrant of disease. It's also part of his tactics for fighting enemies.
Pandora does this as a game mechanic to everything in her presence, whats worse is that a spamming passive ability and often proves fatal to anyone in range.
Jakob Lynch's "Brilliance" is both a drug, a curse and a disease.
Rock-Paper-Scissors: The original Masters were designed as a balanced counter system with one master to counter a specific faction, as the number increased this has shifted a bit, especially with the introduction of The Dreamer and some buffs to Lilth and Pandora. The Ortegas were an exception to the originals as they're good against everyone.
Spider Tank: The leviathan, capable of destroying ancient temples and creatures made entirely of death.
Squishy Wizard: Rasputina and Nicodem aren't going toe-to-toe with anyone any time soon. The Dreamer technically is one but is disqualified due to the mechanics of his interaction with Lord Chompy Bits. Leveticus is squishy but subverts it by coming back to life constantly, in fact its best if his controller makes sure he dies every turn to take advantage of refreshing their hand every turn.
Steampunk: 25% of the game is Steampunk, 25% Magic, 150% Horror and 200% Awesome.
Surveillance Drone: The watcher, a bat like machine used by the guild as form guarding certain areas
Was Once a Man: The Neverborn were normal people before the end of old Malifaux
Bad Juju was a man who learned the hard way why you don't go back on a deal with Zoraida.
We Can Rebuild Him: Ryle, Hoffman's older brother, who was caught in a magical explosion when crossing the breach, great part of his body and mind were destroyed during the incident, and to survive Ramos had to transform him into a almost mindless cyborg.
When Trees Attack: The Waldgeist are tree monsters that are born from forests devastated by humans.
Zerg Rush: Surprisingly not the main tactic of the undead faction, but the Neverborn like this; The Dreamer is infamous for his ability to start with just himself on the board, fly right into the enemy's face and then drop the entire crew onto his victims and transform into Lord Chompy Bits, one of the most powerful models in the game, kill whatever the player chooses, transform back into the little boy and withdraw all nightmare models, removing them from the table, bar The Dreamer himself... in the first turn. Albeit this does leave the kid vulnerable to being murdered, in which case all those models drop out again and can attack again...
Jones can work similarly too, using his spells and mosquitoes to constantly swarm the enemy with expendable piglets, mosquitoes and gremlins