Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Malifaux for Beginners - Action Points.

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 here...as well as quite a few of these old ones, lol.

In Malifaux each model is activated individually rather than there being a movement phase, shooting phase, etc. What the models get to do each turn is governed by a game mechanic referred to as Action Points (AP) and it's that game mechanic that this tutorial is going to explore. For the rest of this tutorial I'll be using the AP abbreviation.

A simple tutorial on starting a basic game without all the 'whistles and bells' can be found here.

After deployment and the flip for initiative each player will take it turns Activating a model, doing whatever Actions that they wish to (and are allowed to, obviously) after which the other player Activates a model and they then alternate until all models have had their go, after which the turn ends and we start all over again. There's some exceptions to that order that are explored here in the Companion rule tutorial that you might wish to familiarise yourself with at some point.

Broadly speaking we have General AP, Specific AP and (0) Actions. Each model gets two 'General' Action Points (AP) and one (0) Action with some models getting extra 'Specific' AP that can only be used for a specific purpose (Hence the name) and a few getting to use extra (0) Actions as well. You can use these in any order you wish but Specific AP need to be announced before you use them.

There are certain generic Actions that any model can use which won't be listed on your card (Walk for example) but all the Actions and Spells that it has available will be on it's stat card together with their AP cost like this,

This particular model (Lady Justice if you must know) has a variety of actions available to her in addition to the generic ones that everyone gets.

She has access to three Actions that cost a point each (One in the actions section and two Spells) marked in Green on the picture.
A single (0) Action (a Spell in this case) marked on the picture in Blue.
A Spell that requires her to use all of her AP (that includes specific AP and (0) Actions) marked in light red.
She also has one Specific AP marked in dark red (+1 Melee Expert) that can only be used for Melee Strikes (more on those later).

Specific AP and General AP cannot be combined to accomplish a multiple AP Action even if they seem similar in purpose. For example, Lady Justice's stat card (the example above) shows that she has (+1) Melee Expert but she couldn't combine that Specific AP with one of her General ones in order to use the (2) Charge Action.

Here is a list of the most common Specific AP granting Abilities.
(+1) Casting Expert and (+2) Casting Master add Specific AP for Casting Spells
(+1) Instinctual allows you to perform two different (0) Actions
(+1) Melee Expert and (+2) Melee Master add Specific AP for making a Strike Action(s)
(+1) Nimble adds a Specific AP for making an additional Walk Action
(+1) Ranged Expert and (+2) Ranged Master add Specific AP for making a Ranged Strike Action(s)

Here's a quick example and as we already have Lady Justice's Action list for reference we'll use her to illustrate how things work.

Lady Justice is in combat with a Rotten Belle. She first uses her (0) Action 'Sword Style' (a Spell as it happens) which gives her a number of options that increase her combat effectiveness. It makes sense on this occasion to use this Spell as the first thing she does as she's planning on using her subsequent Actions to kill the Belle. She then uses the first of her two General AP's to make a Strike Action against the Belle which wounds it but doesn't kill it. She then uses the second of her General AP's to finish it off. This leaves her with her Specific AP's (+1) Melee Expert left...unfortunately she has nothing left to Strike so there's nothing she can do with it...

Lets try that again but be a bit more sensible with the selection order for our Actions.

Selecting the (0) Action 'Sword Style' was a perfectly good first choice as it increases her combat effectiveness and combat is what she's about to do. However leaving her Specific Action (+1) Melee Expert till last was where she went wrong. As their name indicates they have a specific purpose and are wasted if that purpose can not be fulfilled. This time she uses this first, then a General Action which as before kills the Belle. She now has a General Action remaining to use for whatever purpose she desires.

As you can see, the order in which you take your Actions can radically change the effectiveness of your crew and it's important to use any Actions that might end up wasted.

An exception to this rule is (+1) Fast as this gives you an additional General AP rather than a Specific one. To all intents and purposes your model has three Action Points (AP) rather than two.

As you can see in this example, Seamus has (+1) Fast so to all intents and purposes he has three General APs. 

Unlike Lady Justice though he has a lot of (0) Actions rather than her one. Unfortunately simply having a lot of (0) Actions doesn't mean you can use more than one unless have either Instinctual or Subconscious Actions which allow additional (0) Actions...Seamus doesn't...so as one's all he gets to use he'll need to pick wisely. Of course nothing stops him from picking a different one each turn ;-)

Had Seamus been in the same situation as Lady Justice was in her example it would have made no difference when he chose to use his Fast Action as it gives him a General AP not a Specific one so he can use it for whatever he pleases ;-)

So to summarise...
Each model gets a single (0) Action unless it has either Instinctual or Subconscious Actions.
Each model gets two General Action Points (AP) unless it has (+1) Fast in which case it gets three.
Any model with Specific Actions may only use them for the specified purpose and must declare them when they're used.

If you have any questions about this tutorial or have discovered any errors then feel free to point them out in the comments section and I'll sort them out ASAP.


  1. I really like this mechanic. A lotta turn-based strategy video games I enjoy use 'action points.'
    I've been reading more and more about Malifaux lately. I actually read the entire 'Malifaux on a budget' series and enjoyed it greatly.
    Man, this game could really use some aliens. It's got like, everything else. EVERYTHING. I mean, seriously- zombie hookers, check.
    Y no aliens?

    1. I like the way it works but coming from a 40K background it takes a bit of getting used to when you programmed to do things in a certain order.


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