Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Views and Surprises from Gencon regarding Malifaux / M2E

What an long title this blog post has, but I am a bit lazy to change it and it is fitting for my article. Yup, I am delving back into some views and thoughts on Malifaux and M2E, so if your already bored with those then move along. At this point I am picking up new games but still very interested in watching the whole Malifaux spectacle unfold as well. Apparently I am not the only one as there are reports from Gencon that I (little ol' me) was still a primary topic of conversation originating from the Wyrd employees. I find that both flattering and a little surprising, as I was not even there and yet there are people who still enjoy discussing the topic of me. Strike that, I find it very flattering....

Anyway, this is not an article to talk about me, but instead some of the other news and discoveries that came back from Gencon. Let's start by talking about Malifaux Terrain. There was a fair amount of talk about the "increase" in terrain requirement in M2E from Malifaux over the past couple months. Most people felt this was a good move, although there has been some concern from and about LGS's having enough appropriate terrain for the new requirements. Malifaux has always been a fairly terrain intensive game, especially when compared to the "typical" tournament set-ups for WM/H and some of the GW games. Terrain plays an important role in the game and as a TO for a variety of large events I have been on the recieving end of "Not enough Terrain" complaints.

I was very excited when I heard that this year Wyrd had tasked Mack and Justin with building the boards that would be used at the Gencon events. I am confident that it was the whole office who spent time building out the boards, as even 16 boards is a lot for 2 people to build in a couple weeks. This was great news because the Malifaux Community could be confident that the boards would be built to specifications for the appropriate amount of terrain on a tournament board, as viewed by the developers of M2E. Even more exciting for event organizers, there would be some definitive answers for what the appropriate amount of terrain would be for future tournaments. The past 2 years Gencon has always been a scramble to build out as much scatter terrain as possible from Terraclips sets provided to volunteers and employees the day before the convention.

This is a picture of one of the Gencon boards, described as typical for the Malifaux tables at Gencon 2013.  It's not a bad looking board, keeping with both some terraclips and having a Malifaux feel to it with the train tracks and some scattered trees. Overall I am a fair bit surprised that this is the typical board for a Malifaux game however. I truly expected more coverage on the board overall, and more terrain provided to block line of sight and firing lanes across the board.

On comparison to previous years Gencon boards, I think this strikes somewhere in the middle of what was built in 2011 and 2012. In 2011 the Gencon boards were pretty sparse in coverage overall, which drew some fairly critical comments from the players and the spectators of the events. I grabbed one of my pictures from 2011 for comparison, this being a board I actually played on during the Masters of Malifaux tournament. You can see that some effort was put into creating interesting terrain from the terraclips but there was no where near enough to really meet the requirements for Malifaux.

The boards at Gencon 2012 are on the other side of the spectrum from what we have at 2013. There is more scatter terrain and a couple of larger pieces that blog LOS across the board. The concerted effort to increase and improve the terrain coverage from Gencon 2011 can be seen here, although these tables still drew some criticism overall as being too sparse in places and providing a few too many firing lanes for ranged crews. The criticism was more of a mixed bag from the participants, down to a couple boards where players in earlier events had moved terrain and the judges had not caught it. In the picture you can get a look at two of the boards, one with a bit more terrain on it constructed from a large center piece and then smaller scatter terrain, and then the second board with a greater number of individual pieces.

The boards this year (Gencon 2013) are a further surprise to me when I compare them to what we use at Adepticon. To be fair, Adpeticon is regularly complimented as an event with generally spectacular terrain, and Adepticon 2013 continued to strive to improve the Malifaux terrain year over year. The picture to the left is one of the "typical" tables of terrain at Adepticon this year, specifically one using more scatter terrain and less themed board. Compared to the new "official" Malifaux boards, Adepticon appears to use approximately twice the amount of terrain that the developers feel should be in the game.

There is certainly the consideration of travel required for Gencon, which may have impacted the types of boards that Wyrd provided. I have considered this, but have to discard that as a limitation that may have influenced the boards at Gencon toward less terrain. Over a third of the boards at Adepticon were brought to the convention from half way across the country (similar distance as Wyrd offices to Gencon) so the distance constraints are similar. I think the more important consideration is the Gencon boards compared to the "typical" board in a LGS, as thats where most players will be playing. I can only provide my own boards or pictures from other LGS hosted tournaments as comparison. I grabbed a "typical" board from one of the Victory Comic's events as comparison here.  That also appears to have more terrain than the recommended amount.

Overall, I expect that this change in the expected terrain will impact the game in a couple ways. First, I expect that overall players will just ignore the Gencon 2013 set-ups and continue to set-up the boards they want to play on. The second impact is a bit more insubstantial overall, as it will impact the development and balance of the game going forward. I think the most important aspect for future Malifaux players is that we (the community) now have a glimpse into how the developers feel the tables should be set-up, so we can gain some more understanding on how that terrain should/will impact the game and model balance. The board I see above has distinct advantages for ranged crews while minimizing some of the impact of both "swarm" crews and melee centric crews.


  1. Personally, I find it more indicative of the overall rush, rush, rush, get this ish out by Gencon mentality that Wyrd is trapped in, which has only gotten worse since bringing Mack and his gamer ADD on board.

    Yes, let's task the core developers of M2E with terrain setup and / or allow them to volunteer to do so. Nevermind that they were supposed to be devoting their time and attention to Through the Breach, not a second edition, in the first place.

    Secondly, as Gencon is reporting record attendance, it was probably that factor alone, which contributes more word of mouth, that led to Wyrd selling out of products so early. I'm not privy to their business practices or shipping logistics; however, if they didn't just have their shipping container(s) of their initial Gencon items delivered directly to Gencon, instead of splitting it up in any way, they're doing it wrong. Let the transport be an expected expense. Then they don't have to cart things home.

    Or, here's an idea, forget either California, the new northern California location, or Georgia. Relocate to the vicinity of Gencon, as it seems to be their sole focus. If your warehouse is located right down the road, then refilling stock is as easy as driving the next loaded truck down to a loading bay. Save on rent on multiple offices, transit for multiple employees, convention room and board for said employees, etc. Reconsolidate.

    Heck, open your new Indy office as an official Wyrd store.

  2. Interesting thing seen at Gencon:
    Certain people associated with Wyrd getting huffy that people wouldn't immediately drop what they were doing to allow the Wyrd people to do what they wanted. The poor sods who fell in the firing line were really not happy with the Wyrd people, with all right.
    It was truly pathetic to see, especially as the people who were in the way are very well known in the minis industry.

  3. The one thing that I find kinda disapointing is that most of the other miniature companies have some kind of epic well crafted display board showing off their game and the minis. Did Wyrd have one? Cause if they did no pictures of it showed up ever from all the ones I was seeing from gencon. They went to a convention where your trying to show off how cool your game is with terrain I'd find at a local game store. Rivet Wars had an awesome display terrain board as did warhammer and 40k. I was hoping to see something awesome from Wyrd too.

  4. + "Grasping at straws" another one for you.

    I get that the presentation is lackluster considering the amount of hype that gencon receives. However citing the terrain setups at gencon as somehow indicative of how M2E boards are supposed to be setup is drawing a narrow minded conclusion.

    Personally if I wanted to know how much terrain the designers of M2E suggest I play with. I would check in the rules manual.

  5. The manual that is still in transit for most people, unless they were physically at Gencon? Where they didn't have the time to read the whole book as they were busy playing on sanctioned boards. Sure, it's a bit of a stretch, but their boards should set the standard, giving everyone a clear picture of what our boards should look like. More or less terrain than intended will lead to vastly different play experiences than we should be having. Of course, as has been postulated on the now closed forum thread regarding five turns being a bandaid covering balance issues, more terrain could also be an artificial balancing factor. "Of course your game went that way. You should have had more terrain."