Which leads me to this article. I was having a small discussion with members my old Malifaux group recently and we were talking about Faction to Faction balance in Malifaux Classic versus the announced Master to Master balance in V2.0. Ok, for those who stuck to the article this long looking for something sensational, I am pretty sure this is your off ramp. I am not writing this article to say that Malifaux V2.0 is no longer a balanced game. I have not seen the final version yet so cannot comment one way or the other. Despite being a liar (or reformed liar now I'm not a playtester?), I would rather talk a bit about the Faction to Faction balance in Malifaux Classic; Sensational blog titles are fun though, aren't they?
Faction to Faction Balance
Onto my actual topic, Malifaux Classic's Faction to Faction balance. It has come out on the recent Malifools podcast that the current Malifaux designers are departing from the previous Faction to Faction balance of Classic to attempting to provide Master to Master balance in Malifaux V2.0. In the previously referenced conversation I stated my opinion that I felt that Faction to Faction balance was one of the core aspects of Malifaux Classic. This is something that I not only like but also something I felt was a strength and a true differentiation to Malifaux in the miniature wargaming space.
Faction to Faction balance is the idea is that every master in a given faction is not specifically balanced to every other master in the game, but that instead every faction has all the tools necessary to achieve all the different game objectives. Factions as a whole are balanced against each other when viewed Faction to Faction. This means that a player will have trouble playing with a single master for all the game objectives, but would be better suited to choosing a full faction to play.
This affects how Malifaux works from a player perspective in a couple ways. As a player stepping up to the table, it means that I will know the Strategy and my opponents faction when I start to hire my crew. Knowing the strategy gives me a general idea of which masters and crew combinations work best to achieve my objective. This will typically draw down my choices from 5 masters to the 2 that work best for the strategy. I can then consider which masters and crews work best for my opponents strategy and start to guess at which they will be bringing to the table. If a hard counter exists in the intersection between those 4 masters (2 most likely for me and 2 for them) then I can factor that into my decision.
Faction balance has allowed Malifaux to design and release masters that are highly specialized and can lead crews with incredibly high levels of synergy built into them. This synergy really builds up the distinct play style and ability of a Master to fit into a very characterful setting. There is not much need to push toward a middle ground of mediocrity with the Masters and their synergistic crews, as every master was not individually required to achieve "balance" against every other. This created situations where strategies could be built into the game that allowed each master to shine.
|Ok, not Kirai but Kaeris instead|
I have to say that hearing Justin and Mack talk about moving the game to Master to Master balance worries me. I feel that it will take away one of the uniquely Malifaux qualities in the game. One of my largest concerns is looking at other games which have "Master to Master" balance built in. PP games and GW games are two examples of this. Those systems both implement their leader balance differently but end up with a similar difference to Malifaux. Each of these games lead to the ability to create "All Comer's lists" in their games. There is a far greater emphasis on pre-game list building to meet all opponents and achieve all objectives that Malifaux has successfully kept away from. I believe the imbalance of Master to Master balance is a large component of Malifaux's ability to stray away from "All Comer's lists" and keep to game specific crews.
So, in another day we will start to see if the new Wyrd developers are capable of maintaining the strengths of the game in this area while implementing their own ideas for how to make the game better.