Saturday, 23 March 2013

Malifaux for Beginners - Soulstone Use

Editors Note - This tutorial is for version 1.5 of the Malifaux rules and has been left available for reference only. Some Malifaux 2nd Edition Tutorials can be found well as quite a few of these old ones, lol.

Soulstones are an important part of the Malifaux game mechanic and are worth covering in some detail.

Firstly your game size is going to be described in terms of Soulstone amount. For example you might play a game at 25 Soulstones (SS), 35 Soulstones (SS), 50 or whatever. The difference between this amount and the amount your crew costs is added to your Cache. Your Cache is a number of Soulstones that your Master starts off with and is detailed on the Masters stat so...

Some Masters are unfortunate and don't get any at all :-(

Henchmen used as Masters don't get a Cache either...sorry...

Added to this is any difference between your agreed upon game amount and what you actually spend. So lets say your playing a 35 SS and only spend 32 SS on your crew, you would then get the 3 difference added to your Cache. You also gain 2 Soulstones for each Scheme that you choose not to take (you would normally select two) but doing this obviously limits the amount of Victory Points (VP) available to you and is not often to be recommended unless your desperate. There is a limit to this however. In a standard game (referred to as a Scrap) of 1-55 Soulstones your maximum Cache is 8 and any extra would be lost. There is therefore a limit to how useful it is to take a smaller crew in order to gain a stock of Soulstones.

If your using a Henchmen as your Master then your Soulstones maximum pool size is limited to the number after your Henchmen characteristic on your card. Using Henchmen will be covered in detail in their own tutorial to come later.

In larger games (referred to as Brawls) of 30-80 Soulstones your limit is increased to 10 and other limitations are altered...that's a discussion for another time though.

An Example.

The players have decide to have a nice quick game and have decided on a Soulstone limit of 20 SS. Player 1 has decided to use Seamus as his Master and has selected a Crew. He gets his Master (A) for free as Masters don't cost you Soulstones (The number on their card is as mentioned previously, their SS Cache not their cost) and decides to take Madame Sybelle (B) who costs 6 SS and three Rotten Belles (C,D and E) who cost 4 SS each. This gives us a total spent on our crew of 18 SS leaving us 2 SS (20 available - 18 spent) to add to our Masters (A) Cache of 2. We therefore have a total Soulstone pool of 4.

Should the Seamus player decide not to take any Schemes he could get an extra 2 Soulstones per Scheme not taken and could (if he wished) get a Soulstone pool of 8. In this case he decides to take a pair of schemes and settles for a pool of 4 Soulstones to spend as the game progresses.

So that's how our pile of Soulstones (referred to as our Soulstone 'Pool') is lets look at what we can do with them.

In order to use Soulstones your model must have the Use Soulstone ability. All Masters and Henchmen automatically have the Use Soulstone ability whether it's listed on their card or not just by virtue of being Masters or Henchmen...

Other models may have access to the Use Soulstone ability either through specific Abilities of their own or Spells, etc. These will be clearly listed on the appropriate models this...

So in this case the above model can gain access to the Use Soulstone Ability under a certain set of circumstances.

Of course in Malifaux there's quite often an exception to the rule. We'll cover the one use of Soulstones that doesn't involve a Master or Henchmen first.

Initiative Flips.
In order to decide who goes first in Malifaux, both players flip a card from their deck with the player with the highest card going first and with draws being re-flipped until you get a winner. The loser can spend a Soulstone from his pool in order to flip another card from his deck (That's the deck NOT his control/cheat hand) and replace the one that he flipped initially. Should he now be the loser your opponent then gets a chance to spend a Soulstone himself in order to do the same thing. All players have this option even if all models with the Use Soulstone ability are dead or unavailable in some way.

At risk of labouring the point I'm going to clarify this again because it's a common mistake. Your Initiative flip cannot be cheated, the only way it can be changed is to spend a Soulstone and flip a card from your deck and replace the previous card. No cheating, No adding to the total...okay...onto an example...


Player A has flipped for Initiative and has ended up with an unimpressive 4 while his opponent (B) has flipped a far more impressive 11. Player A has decided that going first is important to him/her this turn so they're going to spend a Soulstone in order to re-flip for their Initiative total...

Player A has got lucky and flipped a 12. This card replaces their earlier 4 so they are now the winner. Player B could now spend a Soulstone from their pool to attempt to beat the 12 of player A if they wished. However in this case they decide that beating a 12 is unlikely so they let Player A go first...hopefully they won't regret that decision.

Healing Flips.
Models with the Use Soulstone Ability only gain access to the Heal Ability. This is a 1 Action Point (AP) Action. The player flips a single card (that cannot be cheated) and heals wounds based on the value of the card flipped.

Black Joker = 0 Wounds(Wd) healed,
Weak (1-5) = 1 Wound (Wd) healed,
Moderate (6-10) = 2 Wounds (Wd) healed,
Severe (11+) = 3 Wounds (Wd) healed,
Red Joker = All Wounds (Wd) healed.


Seamus isn't having a good day at all and is down to his last wound. As a master he has the Use Soulstone Ability so his player decides to spend a Soulstone in order to make a Heal (1) action in order to help the situation a bit.

He flips an 11 (Severe) which restores three Wounds (Wd) to Seamus's total. Things are looking a bit better for him now...

Wound Prevention.
This is basically similar to the Healing flip we talked about above. However in this case rather than restore the Wounds (Wd) we've suffered we're going to try and stop them before they occur. As we are reacting to the actions of another this doesn't cost us an Action Point (AP) is still only available to models with the Use Soulstone ability though.

Black Joker = 0 Damage (Dg) prevented,
Weak (1-5) = 1 Damage (Dg) prevented,
Moderate (6-10) = 2 Damage (Dg) prevented,
Severe (11+) = 3 Damage (Dg) prevented,
Red Joker = All Damage (Dg) prevented.

Lets say for example that Seamus still has just the one Wound (Wd) remaining and unfortunately takes two points of Damage (Dg). Rather than remove the model, Seamus's player decides to spend a Soulstone and attempt a Wound Prevention flip...

As the received Damage (Dg) would put him on -1 Wounds (Wd) he's going to need to prevent all that Damage (Dg) to avoid death...

Oh dear...Seamus's player has flipped the dreaded Black Joker and prevents none of the incoming Damage (Dg) and is unfortunately quite dead. This is unfortunate as even a Moderate (6-10) card would have been enough to save him...better luck next game Seamus...

Adding cards in Duels.
This one takes a bit more explaining than the others and almost got it's own separate tutorial, lol.

During a duel, a model with Use Soulstone can use one of his Soulstones to add a card to his Duel total. Note I said add this time...not replace. Replacing cards is done with your control/cheat hand, adding cards is done by spending Soulstones. A couple of examples would probably be in order.

Example1 - Melee Duel
Lady Justice is currently engaged in a Melee Duel with Madame Sybelle and is about to attempt to cleave her in half with her Broadsword.

First we take the Cb of her weapon and add it to her card flip,

We now have a respectable (but not impressive) total of 11. Lets see what Madame Sybelle can do about that...Firstly we take Madame Sybelle's Defense (Df) and add it to a card flip of her own,

With the addition of the Red Joker (Which counts as 14) Sybelles total is 19 so currently Lady Justice is losing and more significantly for her has missed. However she isn't done yet.

Firstly Lady Justice is going to use a card from her Control/Cheat Hand and she chooses a 12...

...which replaces the 4 giving her a total of 19. Though this now equals the total of Madame Sybelle that's not good enough for Miss Justice and she decides to really put the boot in (which in this case is a bloody great sword rather than an actual boot) and spend a Soulstone in order to further increase her total. She spends the Soulstone and then flips a card from the deck which adds to the total.

She now has a total of 26. That's 7 for her Cb, +12 for the card (A) that replaced the 4 and +7 for the card (B) that she adds to the total due to her Soulstone Use.

Looks like the Madame is going to get hit after all...

Example 2 - Casting Duel.
This is fundamentally the same as a Melee Duel with the exception that you do all your adding up at once before your opponent flips to resist. Therefore you need to decide at this point if you wish to spend a Soulstone or not.

This time Lady Justice is going to cast her Restore Natural Order spell which requires a 17 to cast.

She flips a 12 which added to her Casting Value (Ca) of 5 is just enough to cast the Spell. However as this spell is resisted by the enemy models Willpower (Wp) Lady Justice's player decides to spend a Soulstone in order to make this total as difficult for the Undead it's targeting to counter and flips a card from her Deck to add to the total of 17.

She gets a 13 (B) which added to her current total of 17 (Ca + card A) makes a pretty near unbeatable total of 30...Looks like there's going to be some pretty unhappy Undead around...if they survive that is...

Hopefully that's covered Soulstone use for you all. If any-one has any questions, comments (or notices a mistake) feel free to post them in the Comments section below and I'll get on them as soon as possible.


  1. In 2.0, are you still allowed to pay a soulstone to add a card to the attack duel?

    1. I'm afraid not. You can add a suit but not a card...this is a VERY old tutorial, lol.


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