Malifaux’s Defensive Stance

Today’s article will look at one of the mainstay actions available to all models in Malifaux, from lowly Peons to indomitable Masters – Defensive Stance. Despite being a stationary action in a game that I’ve previously stated I believe is all about the positioning, Defensive Stance is a great option to have, yet I seem to see it used less than its twin cousin Focus. So, let’s discard a card to take an in-depth look at Defensive Stance.

First, I think it’s important to know why you’re using Defensive Stance. Not only does it take one or more actions, but you’ve also got to discard a card from your hand. To my mind, there’s a few reasons why:

1) Staying alive. This may seem rather obvious, but usually there’s more to it than this. I’ll tend to go on Defensive Stance when I need to keep a certain model alive – it may be the key model holding down a table quarter in Reconnoiter, for example, or one of my two models currently on the Turf War point. Alternatively, if Assassinate and / or Bodyguard is in the pool, going on Defensive Stance can be a good start towards keeping the required model alive (although this may broadcast your Bodyguard target in the case of the latter).

However, it’s important to remember that while flipping more cards is (almost) always a good thing, being on Defensive Stance doesn’t make you invincible. If my Ice Golem is facing down Lady Justice, for example, there’s almost no point in going on Defensive Stance – extra cards are unlikely to make the Golem dodge an attack when my opponent has a +5 lead based solely on his high Ml versus my low Df!

2) The second reason I might set a model on Defensive Stance is to increase its chances of hitting a defensive trigger. Many models in the game have excellent defensive triggers – Lady Justice, Toni Ironsides and Bishop are three examples of models with triggers that let them deal damage when an enemy misses them with an Ml attack. If they’re surrounded, it can be better to put them on Defensive Stance and wait for the counter-attacks rather than trying to damage the many models surrounding them. By flipping more cards for their Df, you increase the chances of hitting the right suit (well, not in Bishop’s case, as the jammy dodger has it built-in to his Df!).

Usually, the sort of model with a damage-dealing defensive trigger will be fairly handy in melee too, forcing your opponent to weigh up attacking the model and possibly suffering damage themselves, or potentially wasting AP trying to take a Walk action to get away. And again, harking back to my earlier mention of my belief that this game is all about positioning – I don’t mind if Bishop doesn’t kill anyone for a turn or two because he’s on Defensive Stance +3. If he’s holding 3 – 4 enemy models in melee and preventing them from scoring for Interference, then that’s a good use of Bishop in my eyes.

3) Finally, Defensive Stance has some more cornercase uses depending on crew composition. Just as an example, if you have Jakob Lynch leading your crew, the more cards you can flip the better – as any aces will be returned to your hand, this then gives you a plethora of extra cards for Defensive Stance, Flurry, Rapid Fire and other abilities which require you to discard a card.

One of the key features of Defensive Stance is that, unlike most conditions, it doesn’t end at the end of the turn – instead, it ends at the start of the model’s next activation. To make the most use of it, you can set a model on Defensive Stance at the start of the turn, and then activate it fairly late next turn to maximize the effect of Defensive Stance.

So there we have my thoughts on Defensive Stance – what it’s good for, and when I tend to use it. It’d be great to hear your thoughts too, so please feel free to leave a comment with your opinions on Defensive Stance.

Oh, I also have an Instagram account now. The intent is to put up work-in-progress shots of my painting, photos taken during games, etc. I can’t promise how often it’ll actually get used though!

Take care,



5 thoughts on “Malifaux’s Defensive Stance

  1. You are, of course, correct in all these things. I tend to use defensive stance very rarely (almost never, in fact now that I think about it), mainly because I prefer an active rather than passive play. Or to put it another way, ‘the best defense is a good offense’.

    One also needs to be careful about telegraphing a bodyguard target with excessive use of defensive stance, though you could also bluff with the same technique.

    • That is very true – the more you can put your opponent on the back foot, the better. I tend to be like you and usually prefer the active approach, and my usual targets for defensive stance are models like Toni Ironsides who can do damage via Df triggers.

      It’s interesting that Bodyguard isn’t one of the ‘main four’ schemes in Gaining Grounds 2016, so it may be a bit less common now in games. The Gaining Grounds equivalent(ish) of Bodyguard, Undercover Entourage, scores for the noted model being in the enemy deployment zone – which may make Defensive Stance less useful for the protected model, since I’d be spending ap trying to move and get there rather than on Defensive Stance. Haven’t had a chance to play with the new schemes yet,, though, so this is all Theoryfaux!

  2. I play 10T so defensive has come to be a thing I lean on more than I expect (I’m usually a more offensive minded sort). Part of that is how easy it is to manipulate in that faction between Reading the Stone or Stand Ground. And let’s not forget how Shenlong can stack it haha

    • Ten Thunders do seem to have a fair few ways of going on Defensive Stance don’t they! One of my regular opponents favours Wastrels for his scheme runners, and with that Swagger ability they seem to always be on Defensive Stance.

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