Monday, 1 April 2013

Malicious Malifaux

This is the second part of the post The Merits of Malifaux. THat one was about the good. This one is about the bad.

Malifaux has me gripped firmly by the... neck. It's a lovely game, with absolutely stunning minis. But there's a flipside to every coin.

Yes, the rules. Malifaux has the misfortune of being a very good game with bad rules. On the concept level, the mechanics are good - there are exceptions, but they are few.

However, the rules are as full of holes as a web spun by a caffeinated spider.

Yes, the research has been done.
Don't get me wrong, they're doing good work fixing those holes, even going so far as to entirely rewrite not individual rules, but entire models and - in the case of the Dreamer and Hamelin respectively - essentially full crews. It remains the case that the rules were bad to begin with, and I think we'll have to wait until Wyrd releases an actual version 2 to see them fully fixed.

Some rules still make little or no sense. Some wordings are used confusingly or even wrongly (even occasionally when the term is clearly defined). The conflicts between 2D and 3D are occasionally jarring.

Also, the Malifaux rules are spread out over multiple publications. There are the original books, there's a version 1.5 of the first book, there's the Rules Manual that can be bought or downloaded, there's the v2 and v3 cards, there are the Erratas, FAQs and Clarifications. And there are the Rules Marshals, who, while giving official guidance in rules questions, occasionally add rules that are difficult to find.

It's nowhere near as bad as GW once was, but the risk of needing all of those publications (except perhaps book 1, which is basically outdated) during a single game is rather high.

Balance is an issue with Malifaux for one reason: there is none.

Much less insane a picture than I usually go for. Ah, well...
Okay, that's an exaggeration. But not by as much as we might wish...

I can take an incredibly fluffy Pandora crew, using nothing but Woes, and not even the good ones, and beat any crew built around Marcus or Rasputina, consistently. If I decide to be a git about it, and build the Pandora crew that kicks the most face, it won't even be fun.

Yes, there are things that can offset this; player skill, Strategies, luck. But all other things being equal, there are Masters that are significantly weaker than others. And those that are significantly stronger than the norm. There's no coincidence that it's the Dreamer and Hamelin that were rewritten...

But while some pieces are auto-includes, or are never seen, this is not uncommon in the world of wargames. Some factions are stronger than others, but this again is not unusual. No, what is really ridiculously unbalanced is the Strategies.

Let's say you've chosen, oh, I don't know, Neverborn as your faction. Your opponent has declared Guild. You flip for Strategies. You get Reconnoiter. He gets Slaughter.

(Reconnoiter stipulates that you have more models in at least three of the quarters of the board, or all if you want full points. Slaughter means you get to kill your enemy).

Yes, you could use a Soulstone to reflip.

Let's assume you don't.

You now have a few options. You can build an army that has many models in it. Hey, you can fit ten Terror Tots in, if you want to, and have the models. You could build a Collodi crew full of little dollies. Most other options are no-go, as they are Insignificant, with no way to lose it.

And then you realize it takes a Perdita crew all of one turn to halve your army.

Or you could build an army meant to manage numerical superiority by reducing his numbers. This is easier. But its a detour, and he will be trying to do the same, so you're fighting on his terms, with les chance of success.

Barring extreme skill discrepancies, or horrendous luck, your little guys are fighting uphill, while being shot at. And all his little guys have to do is be the ones shooting.

Oh, I know, I'm whining, and there are things to be done, but the fact remains that the Strategies are set at very different difficulty levels.

Yes, wargaming is addictive. It appeals to the collector in us, while calling out to our competitive nature. It sates our bloodthirst to a degree, and has elements of gambling. It provides a mental challenge as well as a creative one.

I'll admit I have occasionally wanted to 'have one of everything' with other games.

Not a wargame. Doesn't count.

Never before have I come even close.

The closest I've got is nearly owning all the Warbeasts for the Trollbloods. Before Domination. Nearly.

I am currently one Master away from owning all the Neverborn Masters. I'm eleven model types away from owning them all. So three of those are unappealing to me. I'll still, probably, by some point, have all but a handful of models for one faction. And I'm also closing in on the Resurrectionists.

There are explanations, of course - beyond my addiction-prone nature.

One of the most important ones is the fact that I have yet to get a single duplicate model. Yes, there are some that use the same rules. There are none that use the same models (I'm liable to break this streak by getting more Terror Tots, of which there are no alternate sculpts, but still). At no point have I been doing the Malifaux equivalent of painting my fiftieth Halberdier or third identical Kriel Warrior. Every model is new.

And then there are all thos ethings I brought up in the previous post.

Fact is, I'm more addicted to collecting Malifaux than I've been for any other game so far.

And this is where the fat lady sings for this time.


No comments:

Post a Comment