What I love about Malifaux Classic Part 2
There is an awful lot I love about this game. I started writing this article about the aspects that really resonate with me and realized the list was actually fairly long. Apparently I have a lot to say, which should not be as surprising to people as it seems to be. Even my lovely wife said it was strange reading my blog and seeing me write about an emotional attachment to a game. To be honest, this game has become an important part of my free time enjoyment, not really leaving much space for other games. I play competitively and I play casually, both of which I enjoy a great amount. Malifaux is my Tuesday Game Night mistress, and I have even been able to travel to play the game. I have recieved a series of comments from various sources including email, blog comments, and twitter and I really appreciate all of them. I am still finishing up the third post for this series and want to get that done overall. I promise to add some additional comments at the end of that part along with a follow-up article next week regarding some of the feedback.
That said, in this portion of the series I talk about some of the aspects that I love but some others push back on.
Malifaux Classic is a complex game, and this is a good thing. As a Henchman for Wyrd, I had the task and privileged of introducing new players to the game and teaching them how to play. I have been blessed with a young daughter who became interested in the game and asked me to teach her how to play as well. Those who are developing Malifaux V.2 have decided that complexity is a bad thing and needs to be burned down with fire. This is something that really disappoints me. Malifaux was not a tough game to learn, with lots of people capable of learning the rules themselves. The first rulebook was an absolute nightmare to try and learn a game from, but it was something that people clearly overcame and the community grew. I am certainly not going to say the game could not use some cleaning up, it could use a fair amount as shown by the errata's released through the years. I enjoyed the complexity in the game partially because it set Malifaux apart as a more mature miniature game. This was not a kids game and was not a simple game, but was a game where you would need to spend a little time to really grasp. I experienced many demo's where I demonstrated the very simple and straight forward mechanics of the game, consisting of Action Points (AP), move, shoot, attack, interact, cast. These simple portions of the game then built on each-other with the characters in the game, each able to enhance or break some rules of the game to do something amazing. The longer players played, the better they became at the game, the more they enjoyed the game. There is a magic to playing complex games and mastering a new skill level to playing. There is a balance to winning a game because you have learned it better, not because you bought the more expensive model and put it on the table. Those are the strengths of the complexity of Malifaux, and those are the portions I enjoyed. Much of the minutia needed to be cleaned up, but that minutia was really only an issue at the highest levels of player skill, and often came to light from the tournament scene.
Malifaux Classic is also a game of combinations, which is such a cool aspect to the game I think many people reference it but do not truly grasp the nature early on. There are certain combo's in 40K or WHFB that people learn and make use of, and these are something people really enjoy about those games. The best players in Warmachine and Hordes learn the strongest combo's and then repeat those to gain advantages in game. In Malifaux, every model in the game adds a new permutation of abilities that create new combo's. This is something that worried many people because they were afraid they could not master ALL the combo's in the game. I believe they were correct, they could not master them ALL. What I love about this aspect of Malifaux is that there were always new combo's to learn. Adding those new combo's to your virtual bag of tricks was one thing that advanced a player up the skill ladder of the game. It also gave constant wow moments to players. I have played a lot of games, to the point I would guess I have played more than most other Malifaux players in the world (at least in the top 5%). Even with this immense scope of Malifaux games and experience across different crews, I still learned a new trick as recently as Adepticon 2013. That trick (Thank you to Doug LeSavoy) was with a Master I was very familiar with and just had not picked up on. That was such a cool moment for me that I could not wait to try it out in one of my own future games. Those type of wow moments provide a "puzzle solving" type experience for me in Malifaux. This is something I saw on Turn 3 of that first game, and something that persists to this day.
podcast I listen to is often quoted for the phrase one of the hosts uses a lot, that phrase being "Innovative Mechanics". Malifaux did away with dice for and instituted a new mechanic for their game using a deck of playing cards. This is such a nice departure to me, and something I love about the game. I can honestly say I have become stuck on this idea even when considering designing my own miniature game, and I just love the deck idea. A deck of cards provides a fantastic dynamic in the game through some randomization that is "controllable", removing the completely random element of dice rolling. This allows a player to make decisions based on how the turn has progressed for them so far, and means that only so much good or bad luck can exist in a specific period of time (that period being the time it takes to require your deck to be reshuffled). Added to this is a players hand of cards which allows them to "cheat" in game and manipulate how their models are impacted in the game. It's such an elegant mechanic to the game which has been incredibly well implemented. My friend Trevor prefers dice to cards, and I cannot figure out or understand why.
**With that I am going to make a cut here and post part 3 on Monday. The article has become very long and I still have about the same amount to say in the final portion as well. On top of that I am out of the more controversial areas of the game which I love but others may not. Check back Monday for the final part.