Late Spring, Good Food and New Malifaux

The last few weeks have been a study in the kinds of things I really like to do. I’ve been painting a lot of models, grilling a lot of food, enjoying the outdoors with my family, spending the gorgeous evenings on my porch reading a new rulebook and watching and playing a lot of the new version of Malifaux. Not a bad spring all together. Our local group has been getting a lot of Malifaux in and I’ve been trying to get there when I can. So far, I have had the chance to watch a few very good games front to back and this has given me good idea of how I feel about the future of Malifaux.

Maybe one of these days I will post the recipe for this delicious BBQ Chicken, but for now I want to talk about the original Malifaux game. In listening to all of the interviews about Malifaux and the new edition, it is clear that one of the goals has been to streamline the game rather than simplify it and to remove the decision fatigue that could be crippling. To me, this is a welcome concept. One of the things I both love and hate about Malifaux’s present incarnation is that the game has an intensely steep learning curve. The complexity and nuance can be staggering for new players. For me, the problem was that if I didn’t play every single week and learn all the individual combos and tricks, I quickly fell out of the loop and it became difficult for me to win a game, or even have much fun. Nuance in this form is excellent for those players in the know….but is frustrating for those who aren’t.

I first had an inkling of this problem back around the launch of book 2 when we started seeing podcasts like Gamer’s Lounge start focusing on Malifaux. I listened to these podcasts specifically to learn how to play with particular masters, as simply looking at the cards didn’t always give me the epiphany of how that card really worked. At the time, I thought of that coverage as a double-edged sword: I liked being in on the cool tricks and combos, but I was worried these podcasts were artificially evolving the meta-game, widening the gap between new players and veterans. I’m somewhere in the middle of that gap, having read the rules and ‘mali-theoried’ a lot, but not played very often. As I’ve mentioned before, this is why M2E has sparked my interest acutely.

So what do I like about the new edition?

Accessibility
This really ties into what I’ve already been saying, but the game seems far more accessible. Aside from playing small games with henchmen leading crews, you can also now play games with no upgrades, which means that new players, or players using new factions or crews, don’t have to worry about needing to know everything. They can add complexity as they choose, starting with simple models and adding upgrades as they go. If nothing else, this will help fix a problem I often see in Malifaux….too much Guild. After all, Guild masters are ‘relatively straightforward.’

Strategies, Schemes and Scheme Markers
The new scheme system has me very interested. I like that I can try to fool my opponent by dropping scheme markers wherever I like and I like that I can tease out what my opponent’s schemes are by watching what he does very carefully. My problem has always been that I don’t play to the objective, which is critically important . It will continue to be key, but now I will have a little pile of scheme markers sitting on my side of the table reminding me what I should be doing.  Oh, and that means I get to make cool scheme markers.

Triggers are Important
When I first heard about M2E and all the changes to the rules, I had the immediate reaction that ‘soulstones have been nerfed.’ I was worried the changes would do away with that climatic activation of a master that turns the tide of a game. For me, that was always something like Seamus focusing a flintlock shot on an opponent and burning stones until there was nothing the opponent could do except put the model away.  In reality, the change in soulstone rules doesn’t prevent these momentous activations. Instead, it makes triggers the catalyst for these moments. This seems particularly the case in games with few or no upgrades. Fewer upgrades means fewer tricks and that means the tricks you have are more important.

So those are my initial impressions. Of course, there is still a lot to learn. As always, comments are always welcome, so let me know where you may have a different opinion than mine.

More to Come.

-Nick

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