One of the key differences for Malifaux that every player notices is, of course, no dice and a deck of cards in its place. There must be endless articles on this fact but I thought I would muse on a few things over the matter and a brief take on playing the odds.
While many of the other elements of the game of Malifaux, Schemes & Strategies or building your crew 'on the fly' are also quite unique and go a long way to make Malifaux the amazing game that it is the use of cards, for me, is the real big separator from other systems.
As a long term player of games like Flames of War or back in the day Warhammer I really enjoy being able to have some semblance of control over what I am going to accomplish in a round. We have all played a game of system 'x' where the dice gods just laugh in your face ... 5 dice and needing a single 3+ ... no, not today. Epic frustration, especially on those pivotal rolls. I am a big believer of the bell curve but sometimes that curve comes too late and your fate is sealed. I recall one game at the Flames of War masters, so important stuff as far as toy soldiers are concerned, I'm playing the UK's #1 and all I need is a 3+ on three dice to virtual ensure victory, could I do it ... nope. So, so annoying but that is dice games for you, or any table top game for that matter.
In Malifaux there is a chance of fate/luck manipulation, holding 6 cards at the start of the round and the ability to cheat really helps ensure (black joker aside) you can get that pivotal play in that may help you achieve your goals or even win the game. Learning when to cheat though is very important, when I first started Malifaux I was burning through my hand in no time ensuring things hit or reached their TN, the real skill is leaning to say 'ok, that misses' and move on. Not everything needs to hit but it is great to be able to (virtually) ensure a certain play will.
Of course some times the deck hates you, your hand is crap and even though you hold seemlingly every 1 or 2 you thought possible there still seem to be more in the deck on every flip. That said at least at the start of your turn holding said crap you can say a couple of things ... 1) no hail marys and play safe and work on positioning for the next round .... or 2) make your plays in the knowledge that, percentage wise at least, more good cards are still in the deck so in a pinch you might just get away with it, either way you can make that informed choice and play to the situation. This is especially true as the turn progresses and you have seen more and more of your deck and while I'm no 'Rainman' you can hopefully judge things. For example, if there are only 12 cards left and the Black Joker is yet to appear it is probably not the time to charge your master forward to attempt to kill everything around you.
So this brings me to my next point, getting yourself into a winning position. It is not chance alone that someone is the UK's #1 at Flames of War for years in a row (although the sod is a lucky bugger I swear) it is because he has calculated the odds, he doesn't over stretch himself or try hail mary's unnecessary and gets himself, through solid tactics, into winning positions so more often he is rolling (or flipping) to win rather than hoping for a lucky result to get himself out of a jam.
Now unfortunately I don't have a quick paragraph on how to get into these winning positions, that takes time and practice but I can say it is the really good players who through tactics get themselves into a place where they are rolling/flipping for victory and should they roll low they may have a back up or line something up next turn. This, compared to those like myself who find themselves hoping for that 6 on the die or 13 off the top of the deck to save their bacon might often find themselves dissapointed.
That's it fow, thanks for reading and of course .... good luck!!