Monday, July 8, 2013

Malifaux V2 and the Rose Colored Glasses

I mentioned this article in an earlier post and now have come back to write about my thoughts. I want to be clear up front, this is a heavily opinionated article. This is my opinion and I am confident that there are several people out there who do not / will not agree with me. I am a little amused writing that since I am not really aiming at convincing anyone of anything in particular. This is an observation from my little corner of the internet, a commentary if you will.

At the time of this writing Malifaux V2 is a month into the open beta playtest, and four and a half months into the closed beta. The open beta forums reveal a great deal of interesting tidbits to anyone who goes digging through the hundreds of posts. One of those tidbits is something that was also claimed adamantly during the podcast interviews Mack and Justin did to introduce Malifaux V2. This claim is that the update is being well received overall and that its a vast minority who are unhappy with the changes. I both agree and disagree with this sentiment overall.

I will step back a second before diving back into my observations of the current state of satisfaction/dissatisfaction that I perceive. I was aware that Malifaux V2 was on the calendar for development and release a long time before the bulk of the community. Due to a variety of discussions and conversations with my own network of Wyrd employees, I learned very early in the process what was coming. I agree that Malifaux 1.5 needed some updates and clarification and was excited to see where things were going. I even had some inside track on the ideas that were on the figurative "docket" on how to improve the game. One of the big concerns for any game company is when the right time for an update occurs. Key people within Wyrd knew that they would inevitably lose some players and customers with a version update. The goal is to offset these losses with significant growth, aiming to replace each lost customer with 3 - 4 new customers. Those same key people knew that updating and balancing the entire system would take a fair amount of time on both the development and play testing front. Time estimates were assumed, a goal was picked, and key "gating factors" were determined. The development team was given thier marching orders and they struck out to update the game system.

We jump forward to today and look at our current V2 Open Beta test. As I read through the posts I can pretty easily pick out the members of the community who are really positive about and defensive of Malifaux V2. There are a handful of forum members who seem to go out of their way to attack and be abrasive to anyone who has something the least bit critical to say about V2. I am a very big advocate and fan of Malifaux Classic and have spend a lot of time on the Wyrd Forums. I have even become involved in some back and forth discussions with a variety of forum members over time. I never felt I was attacking another forum member with my posts, but I allow that this is merely my own opinion and others perception could be different. Based on this perspective, I would like to assume that these current V2 advocates do not see the aggressive nature of thier posts. Then again, we all know what happens when you assume.......

Another things I notice are the posts from Wyrd employees that are specifically written to minimize the perception of unhappiness among the Malifaux community. I do not read these types of comments as just a minimization but more as a concerted effort to refute the perception that people are unhappy with the change. Some quotes in threads such as:
"Despite being really really loud, it has become incredibly clear in the last 2 days that the original poster in this thread is in an even smaller minority that I already thought."
 "That said, for every one looking to leave right now, I know another six or seven knocking on the door saying 'hey, lemme try this' and turning in their henchman applications - a fair number since the announcement and showing of M2E."
"So far we've had four henchmen resign, which is less than when we switched to plastic."
strike me as very interesting comments.  I certainly do not want them taken out of context, so provided the links where they are available (the middle comment is not on a public forum) so people can go read the threads for themselves. Minimization or concerted effort, it seems to me that the questions about unhappiness have really gotten under the skin of some Wyrd employees.

Then we come to Henchmen and Podcasters departing the game or displaying unhappiness over how V2 is developing. I group these two together as they are both significant portions of how word about the game get disseminated. In addition, there is a level of dedication to being a fan of the game that both of these require that tends to surpass the "normal" expectations of just people who play the game. I find some interesting points in these two communities when it comes to V2. The quote regarding henchmen resigning that is referenced above was posted on June 20, 2013 and comes 20 days into the open beta for V2 starting. On the henchman front I will be curious to see how many henchmen actually resign versus just become inactive. I also believe the number of henchmen resigning will not truly be a good measure until after Gencon 2013 when the actual V2 rules are released. I personally know of several henchmen who are sticking around through Gencon but are unhappy and considering quitting. On the podcasting front, there was always a limited amount of Malifaux podcasts out there. Of those podcasts that were still actively broadcasting when V2 testing began, there has been an interesting divide. Two of the podcasts are still actively discussing V2 and show a great deal of enthusiasm for the update. Two have gone on hiatus due to fracturing between the hosts at least partially due to V2. One other appeared to be favorably supportive of V2 but has recently shown some dissatisfaction in the direction of the game. Then at least 1 other has decidedly changed their focus because they are not happy with the game. Just looking at that spread is kind of interesting, 2 for / 3 against / 1 waffling on V2.

I think the last interesting note I have picked up lately is a look at the activity from key forum members. Keltheos, NerdElemental, and Ratty are all Wyrd Employees and have been heavily involved in the development of Malifaux until the current V2 activity. Each of those has been heavily involved with posting on the public forums and the private testing forums in the past. I find it interesting, disturbing, and curious to see what their current activity has been in regards to the Forums and new version testing. At the time of writing this article, Keltheos had not even logged into the forums in 4 weeks, and all three have been pretty significantly absent from the open beta. I want to say that these gentlemen are just busy or off on more important tasks, but I just do not believe that. The flurry of activity across the board demonstrated by the rest of the company (EricJ/Mack/Justin/even Nathan) in regards to V2 makes the absence of these three particularly noticeable, especially in light of their past involvement.

So what does all this mean? It's entirely possible that I am just grasping at shadows and conspiracy theories because I am unhappy with the direction of Malifaux V2. I am not of the opinion that V2 is going to bankrupt Wyrd or even be a necessary failure overall. I do suspect that the dissatisfaction with the new V2 direction is much larger than is being portrayed. I think that the militant defense by the V2 Crusaders has driven away or discouraged the bulk of people who will say something contrary to the company line. I hold the opinion that there are a number of Malifaux Classic fans who just cannot be bothered to post their thoughts or concerns on the forum due to the response from both Wyrd and the Crusaders.  I think that the V2 transition is not going to go as well as it could/should have, but hope that it goes well enough to be considered at least a minor success internally.

Now is a great time to disregard my opinion and go check out what Wyrd's EricJ has to say about the play testing process.


  1. I have
    created The Poll that will help to approximate the feelings of gamers about 1.5
    and M2E – so please take a part in this Poll – it is the one of the method to
    count Ours number and see/show what Players of Malifaux prefer: Old or New.

    1. I did take part in that poll, it has been interesting to watch. I agree with one of the forumites who replied that they believe most of the anti-V2 players have left the forum or do not check regularly.

      You asked a question in your poll thread about the percentage of Malifaux players who frequent the forums. I believe (but could be mistaken) EricJ estimated that number to be ~25%.

    2. Problem with a poll on the Wyrd site is there may be people who do not want there opinion known at the moment. For example Henchman who are still on the fence.

    3. I know of quite a few Henchman and formerly rabid fans that are currently sitting on the fence waiting for the final product. Wyrd has a bit of a history of changing things from Open Play Test to final Product.

      I also know of more than a few who have not participated in that poll specifically because they dont want to commit to a "final" opinion just yet.

  2. I'm a casual Malifaux fan, and I just tried to get a few friends into it, and returning to Malifaux after a year of not playing one thing immediately jumped out at me.

    The game is a friggin mess.

    You might not be a fan of the way the new edition is going but it needed it. After three supplement books the game was unwieldy and close to impossible to get into for casual or new players.

    Trying to gauge the public's opinion based solely on the Wyrd forum is going to be fairly inaccurate. You're only getting the really hardcore fans who are already set one way or the other.

    Malifaux 2nd edition will do well. There's a huge barrier to entry right now, and that would probably make a big difference.

    1. As I mention, I am hoping V2 does well and am confident there is a community dedicated to it. For that matter, I currently suspect that there is only between 20% and 30% of the current Malifaux players who are not happy and would prefer to stay with Malifaux Classic. I also agree that only the most hardcore fans actually frequent and post on the forums. I do think that the forums are representative of the overall community of players, keeping in mind that it is just a sample set of the most dedicated players.

      Regarding a second edition, I thought I was pretty clear in the article that I do agree an updated edition was a good thing but that the way V2 has gone is not something I like. Perhaps I am blending my previous posts and articles and missed making that clear.

      Although comments are not the best place to discuss in detail, I would love to hear your feedback on what you feel is "a friggin mess". Feel free to email me (bill @ ) if you are so motivated. I do not agree that Classic is "a friggin mess" although that may be sematics more than anything else.

    2. I'd say that 20-30% is a pretty high estimate. But like I said, and you also said: "Only the most hardcore fans" frequent and post on the forums. Estimating the number based off of the forum is going to run into problems. People who would take the time to register and post there regularly are going to have very strong feelings about the game. Stronger then most players would.

      "Friggin mess" might be harsh. But for me, the amount of special abilities for each unit (Many of which aren't used often) and keywords which require people to look up things if they are not deeply familiar with the game really slows things down. The base mechanics seem to be good, but I think it's inevitable that after three expansion books and countless models, things start creep in that just over complicate things.

  3. So what is the breakdown of podcasts

    I know Gamers Lounge is against and Cheated Fates is fractured. Where do all the others stand, have not been listening to much of anything lately.

    1. Keep in mind this is just my understanding so is probably flawed... that said:
      * Gamers Lounge - on Hiatus. Plans to do 2 V2 review podcasts (positive/negative)
      * Cheated Fates - Spencer and Joe are not in agreement on V2. Joe likes it, Spencer hates it
      * Aethervox - rumors of a new episode have been floating around, but nothing concrete
      * Bayou Broadcast - Dom is doing periodic recordings about gremlins. Lots of V2 talk.
      * Tartan Skirmish Radio - Not sure, but they are still releasing episodes
      * Soulstone Train - And is changing the format and has resigned as a henchman because he is not a V2 fan.
      * Malifools - The Malifools are big V2 fans and happily talking about it
      * Malibro's - sounds like they are trying to get in V2 games but not committed one way or the other
      * Through the Breach - Sounds like some division between hosts on liking/not liking V2. As a whole they are holding off for an official V2 release to review it.
      * Lost Boys Radio - Issues with their LGS have impacted their gaming and recording schedule. Not sure their stance on V2.

    2. How are you breaking that list down in regard to your "2 for / 3 against / 1 waffling on V2" podcast spread above?

    3. I'm not sure how to answer your question better or different than I did above.

    4. Fair enough. The question came from a different anonymous than the one above, BTW. I think I've figured out how to add a name; apologies if I've goofed up.

      I was just wondering because it seems like you're counting the podcasts where the hosts are split as solidly against. Reading the list above, it seems to me more like:

      * Gamers Lounge - on the fence, hosts are split
      * Cheated Fates - on the fence, hosts are split
      * Aethervox - unknown
      * Bayou Broadcast - Not sure from your description.
      * Tartan Skirmish Radio - Unsure
      * Soulstone Train - Solidly against
      * Malifools - Fans
      * Malibro's - Neutral
      * Through the Breach - On the fence; hosts are split
      * Lost Boys Radio - Unknown

      I may be misreading this, and please correct me if I'm wrong. Still, I have a hard time seeing where there's more agin' it than for it, as your initial 2/3/1 split would indicate. Seems like folks are either split down the middle, or taking more of a wait-and-see approach, no?

      I say this not to be overly critical. It's just that when I read this, those numbers troubled me (to be fair,"4 henchmen lost" seems a bit lopsided -- for the other side -- as well.) So, I figured I'd ask.

    5. Gotcha, I understand better now (thanks!).

      So, Gamers Lounge is solidly against, I can say that definitively. Mike and Dan have departed leaving just me by my lonesome and I am not a V2 fan. I plan to get a couple more games in at some point but am not expecting much at this point. I might write an article about why I would play games with low expectations, not sure how good of an article that would be though.

      In my 2/3/1 calculation above you notice the numbers do not line up with what I have below. The 2 I was thinking of on the "for" side are Bayou Broadcast and Malifools. The three against are Gamers Lounge, Soulstone Train, and Cheated Fates. The one undecided was Through the Breach.

      With that said, a wider look (as I tried to do in my comment) is pretty accurate as you have it, with the exception of missing New Fairbanks News. Dr. Loxley is moving forward with his project Crypts (which everyone should check out if they have not) and has expressed a real loss of interest in V2.

      My own opinion is that I expect CFR will split and I am not sure if Joe will push on with a new host or not. Aethervox, if/when they return will be positive as I believe Rathnard is very positive on V2. Bayou Broadcast will continue with Dom and be very V2 positive. TSR is already speaking positively about V2, and Malibro's will play whatever the wider community is playing. I am interested to see where the TTB guys go with thier review, but I get the feeling there are more hosts positive about V2 than negative.

      Then again, those are just my opinions.

    6. Thanks for the thorough reply! It clears a lot of things up for me.

      I've spent a good part of the afternoon going through your blog and reading up on the V2 trials and tribulations. Thanks for posting your thoughts. I'm really enjoying reading them, though I'm sorry for the troubles you've been having.

      I'm one of those that's fairly positive on V2. I dabbled in Malifaux a few years ago, picked up a crew and a rulebook, but never really had the time necessary to devote to it. Every so often I'd play a game, but the revisions and changes ultimately just made the learning curve feel too steep.

      M2E's brought me back into the fold. I do think it's easier to pick up and play (for now, at least). That said, I'm not without concerns. Getting it right the first time is crucial on this one, and I'm a little worried that the game's gone through so many permutations in such a short period of time.

      In any case, best of luck with the Malifaux Classic project. I really like the "living rulebook" idea. It gives good games a long life and seems to function as a long term open playtest that really does get the kinks worked out by those whose only interest is a love of the game.

  4. Not wanting to sound like a doom munger but I've been having these exact same thoughts, and it was these sort of 'blackout' tactics which added to my reasons as to why I resigned from being a Henchman myself.

    I'll be very interested to see the final number of Henchmen who resign at this time once M2E is officially out. Justin's comment about 4 resignations was made before myself and 2 others I know went on to resign. So that means we're looking at, at least 7 resignations, probably more, so pretty much double what Justin reported.

  5. As you know I'm one of the ones on the fence at the moment about it... I haven't had much to do with the V2 playtest mainly because we still have classic tournaments going on at the moment and as of writing this in 4 days we have the Australian GT which is being run under 1.5 rules.

    Now there are things that I haven't been happy with like Soulstones and some of the directions that characters are now going which is different that what we have seen over the past few years books.

    Also the Art shown so far seems to be hit and miss.

    And the last thing that gets me is Mack and Justin have said that Tara is going to be in the new book but there has been no sight of her in the playtest so what is going to get people to buy a nightmare box set when they don't know what the crew is about?

    That's all I'm willing to say at the moment as I still have my cards and don't want to put them at risk at this point in time.

    I did send Kelthos a PM to see where he's been at a month or so back and he said he's still around...

    BTW has anyone noticed the fun of henching seems to have gone? I remember hanging out with Sketch and Ratty in the IRC room and having lots of fun!

  6. As a new player I find it hard to comment if V2 is better than 1.5. To provide some context I had been looking at warmahordes in February time to introduce my wife to gaming but due to issues with ordering made the switch to malifaux 1.5 (which arrived a few weeks before 2.0 landed).

    I have been following peoples views on the forums and podcasts and have found it quite interesting the different views and emotions displayed by everyone..

    My thoughts then. I have been playing vassal games with Ophelia (3 games in total). I will say that the cards are greatly improved for getting into the game, having said that the 1.5 cards would have just needed more practise.

    Having not played any 1.5 I am not going to say if the gameplay mechanics are any better but will say that 2.0 is very accessible and still has provided the cinematic feel i envisaged malifaux should have.

    l would be happy to relearn 1.5 to see if the changes are good or bad but all I can assess thus far is the beta rules appear to be the right direction but the proof of that will be in the final release.

    as an aside i think there is some artwork that is better, others have taken a turn down a silly route - but that will always personal preference.

  7. M2E is easier to accesses to new players – but mainly because it covers only first MalifauX 1.5 book. When all models and rules (avatar for instance) will be released the difference in “easy to start” issue will be not so significant. And in two years we will have two new books, another power creep, another rules and in three years it will be obvious that M2E is “in a mess” and is “to complicated to start” and obvious and acceptable solution will be … M3E.
    So, for me it is a good time to quit a “rat race” and start playing “dead system” – modified by Players for Players.
    I only hope that I will have opportunity to be involved in Fun Made Modification of MalifauX 1.5 – if it will be started by very small (judging from my Poll on WYRD forum) MalifauX 1.5 community.


    1. If you have not seen this I suggest checking it put

  8. I do not like the new models.

    Instead of there being interesting character to each crew, I feel like every single model in the game is about to enter Thunderdome.

  9. Not to take a cheap shot, but I've mostly noticed a trend of Neverborn players being the biggest complainers. The Witchhunts don't help though, and about the only time its really ever worth calling out criticism is when they don't want to support their argument. I'm not even talking about saying X is bad without playing it, I mean simply saying X is bad. Theory-faux may not be the greatest thing to test with it, but it is more useful than just saying stating that models suck because you say so.

    I can pick things that I don't like about the system, but I'd still play it over 1.5. I've been trying to get more people to pick this game up for 2 years now, and I feel M2E is a big step in the right direction. It still feels like Malifaux to me, and its a lot easier for me to get people interested in the game when I'm not telling them why X combo is NPE or that they should be ignoring half of a card.

    1. Boshea,

      Somehow I missed replying to this in the other replies I posted. I apologize for that, I am not ignoring your comment!

      I don't think its a cheap shot at all (noticing that you have seen NB players complaining the most about V2). Myself, I am a Neverborn player but also a Ten Thunders player, Guild Player, and then a smattering of other masters as well. In trying out and playing through the evolution of V2 I only played 2 games with the neverborn stuff, playing more with the Ten Thunders and Guild. I actually felt those factions were far worse off in thier changes to both the feel of the masters and the overall changes being not positive (power level, reduction of abilities, etc). Both of my NB games were with Lilith, and at the time I felt she was grossly OP and had become a terrible NPE. I am fairly certain she changed a fair amount since then so is not as bad as she was.

      Overall, I'm just on the other side of the spectrum from you on V2. I think there are good things that were done with the V2 ruleset but not enough to make me want to play it over Classic.

  10. Well, you know how it is, some people are packing rose tinted glasses and others have pure black tint in theirs and both will self validate all they can to make out the other guy be the dymb one, so yeeeeah, sorry if I don't see much else of a value to the pity parade you have going here.

    1. --and some people have rose-colored megaphones.

      Sorry if I don't see much point in coming in to bitch out people who don't agree with you.

  11. I also don't see the point of these kind of blog entries.

    You don't like the new system. We got it. But to entangle yourself with wild speculations, assumptions and augury to "prove" that there are many others who also hate the new system??? What the hell is that good for? Maybe Wyrd will say: oh, sorry, now we can see that we made a terrible mistake, here is your Malifaux Classic with a few tweaks? The poll is especially charming: you make one and when it shows totally different results that the haters would like to see, they start to construct theories why the results are off. Pablo, genial!

    PS: In my vicinity v1.5 was slowly heading for extinction, then - with M2E coming - all of a sudden everybody is active again and there are a lot of new or year long inactive faces at the tables. IMO Wyrd will hit the jackpot with the new system even if you desperately try to prove the opposite for reasons I could not comprehend. :)

    1. Peter,

      thanks for your response. To help you understand, DTP is just a place for my own ramblings and opinions to be written up and publicly posted. It's not meant to be anything other than that.

      Regarding Wyrd's response, I can be very clear about that. If they read this blog I am flattered in the exact same amount as I am by anyone reading the blog. I do not expect and am not looking for them to respond in any way, and certainly do not expect they will ditch their work on V2 and reverse their current path. Looking at the situation from a business perspective, Wyrd as a company (and the owners personally) have invested in the path they are on and are committed to the work that has been done.

      Regarding your comments on the poll, I did not post it. The poll was posted by Caen while my user name on the Wyrd forums is Nix. Posting polls and similar posts on the Wyrd forums is not my style at all. I did (and do) find the discussion around the poll to be very interesting and enjoy following it.

      Regarding 1.5 in your area, I am sorry to hear that it was headed for extinction. It's good to hear that your local gaming scene is adopting the changes in a positive way!