Sunday, 12 January 2014

M2E: What Malifaux Has Got Wrong (or 'My Long-awaited Whine Post')

And I'm back, and if you all gather 'round, I'll regale you with tales of horrible games design.

Wait, what's that? M2E is better than most other games?

Well, I'll still whine.

If you didn't read this and aren't overly familiar with M2E, go read that post. I'll wait. And also write this post assuming you know what I'm talking about.


Off we go.

Even though I agree that a lot of the simplifications that have been made with M2E are for the better (they balance Masters better, remove unneeded complexity and mean that we have sleevable cards), I miss some of the more complicated rules.

I miss making Teddy fly.

I miss gathering Body Parts.

I miss Blood Tok... wait, no, I don't.

I miss a lot of characterful, but ultimately either useless or unbalanced things. I do wish they'd left a few of them in, even though in general I agree with the decision not to.

Yes, I resisted doing this one first.

Yes, it's my one truly big gripe with M2E.

Yes, it is one of the few things I actually tried to get looked at during the beta. Whatcha gonna do?

The terrain rules suck.

The reason for this is simple: Malifaux is a two-dimensional game with an abstract third dimension. Most of the time this works okay (I'd argue that it is a much better mechanic than GW's True-Line-of-Sight, for example). However, this system breaks down as soon as the models themselves move off of ground-level.

I won't bug you with details, but it's a mess. Any interaction between these elevated models is cumbersome at best, and downright not covered at worst.

Also, the terrain rules assume all terrain elements to be uniform more or less solid objects. There are no rules for doors, windows, balconies, or anything else that isn't basically a box. Which becomes more of a problem when you consider that the only terrain Wyrd sell is TerraClips, which has all of those things.

All in all, the terrain rules leave me feeling like they finished all the other bits of the book first, and then they were left with a couple too few pages. That, or like they're planning on releasing a rulebook with 'weird' terrain in it (you know, like such alien architectural features as doors...) at some later date, and they just haven't told us.

Malifaux 1.5 did one thing surprisingly well. It defined its terms.

There was rarely an issue with timing, terms like base-contact were nicely explained, and things were mostly clear. Mostly.

For some reason, a lot of this hasn't travelled. The definition of base-contact didn't turn up 'til the FAQ. When two rules conflict, we are told to follow the 'more specific' of the two, with no regard for the fact that many of these instances concern rules that are equally specific, or where the matter is difficult to resolve. Ht (Height) is no longer explained as in being in relation to the elevation of the model - strictly speaking, a Gremlin on a hill still has his head at a comfortable Ht 1, and an Ice Golem on top of a Ht 3 crate does nothing to block a Rail Golem's Line of Sight. Yes, that last bit could have gone under terrain, but then I went and said I wouldn't go into specifics.

Silly me.

Anyway, there are many terms which are well-defined and easy to use. And then there are some, often quite fundamental ones, that aren't.

Yes, I'll go there.

Unlike every other crew that was released in Wave 1, Tara did not go through the public beta. This is a shame.

There are two reasons for this.

First, there are balance issues. Karina is useless for 5SS. The Nothing Beast is insane. The Outcasts did not need 4SS Incorporeal scheme grabbers.

I'm not one of the people who think Tara breaks the game. Yes, there are models which will not be happy they're not safe while buried. Yes, the Nothing Beast will make most other beatsticks wet their pants. But for a Master, Tara does surprisingly little.

But this brings me to the second problem with not testing every model the same.

Tara is open for criticism in a way that barely any other crews are. You think Victoria is weak? Why didn't you chime in during the beta? Rasputina is overpowered? Not really, and we've got the testing to prove it. Tara makes Leveticus useless? Well, I don't think so, but...

The Release Schedule
I get it. Wyrd is a small company, with limited resources. Releasing everything in plastic will take time.

I'm fine with that.

But why would you start with models that already have working iterations? I don't really need a new Ramos, I can just go buy the old one. The Brewmaster, though. No existing model, so I would assume you start there. We still haven't even seen a hint of him (or any Gremlin, actually).

Also, and once again, I understand, but did you have to stop making all the old models? Before they were re-released?

And that'll be that.


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