Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Versions, Updates, and Errata, Oh My!!!

Welcome to the internet, where even the best intentions get you jump on and beat down like the filthy over achiever you are!

Oh, so I joke, but only a little. I wanted to put up a blog post based on some feedback I have seen recently regarding my current favorite game, Malifaux. I thought this would be a good time to post as we recently received an announcement that a new rule book (Malifaux 1.5 - look to the left) is also coming out. In addition, in just a short 2 months Gencon will be here with the 4th expansion to the game.

So whats up with all the expansions and changes? Well, lets step back a bit and look a bit closer at the issues here. Lets talk about expansions and new book releases first.

Malifaux started off releasing the first rulebook at Gencon 2009. At the time they came out with a bunch of models and released their initial set of rules. The book contained all of the models that Wyrd was set to release with the game, for all "armies" (known as factions) within the book. Gamers picked up the models and the book and started playing. Models from the book released along a regular schedule and everyone was happy. Everything was not perfect, however, and Wyrd responded to errors and unbalance by being very responsive on thier forums and releasing Errata and Clarifications regularly. More on that later.

Then, Gencon 2010 rolls around and Wyrd announces the release of Rising Powers, book 2 and the first Malifaux expansion. This updated some of the rules of the game, and it released a whole new set of models for each of the factions. This set-up another year of releases on a regular release schedule. Lets be honest here, it did not really change the rules of the game drastically. Rising Powers clarified a couple existing rules, added a new model type (Henchman / special forces) and added some new characteristics to fit the new models. It also expanded the entire encounter system to the 13 expanded strategies and the location special rules we now use regularly. The core mechanics of the game did not change, other than to get further clarification on specific points.

So, we power on for about 6 months and come to January 2011. At this point the Errata, FAQ, and Clarifications for Malifaux have become a 3 page document and is becoming a bit bulky. This is in response to the questions from the community, but Wyrd decides they can do better. They lock up the current Errata/FAQ/Clarifications and review the entire rule-set. They sit down with editors and work to reword those parts of the rules that are complicated or un-clear, add in the Errata to that point, create some new diagrams for further clarification, then release the Rules Manual. So, here we are at a little over 2 years and the first significant rules change is released. It is important to note that the overall changes to the rules amounted to maybe 25% of the actual core rules in the game. At the same time, Wyrd releases Version 2 cards for most of the models in the first Malifaux book. Several of these cards incorporate changes that are made, partly based on community feedback, to balance the models from book 1 within the game. The V2 cards are offered as a free exchange, and the Rules Manual is put on sale for ~$15 US.

Then we come to Gencon 2011, and the release of Twisting Fates, book 3 and the second expansion to Malifaux. This book adds in a whole new set of rules for Masters, specifically the rules for Avatars. This expands out the game and is possibly the first move Wyrd made to seperate parts of the game between Newer Players and Experienced Players. Avatars add a whole new class of model that works completely different from Masters or Henchmen (who work very similar). It also complicates the game by adding in Manifest Requirements, a type of whole new extra objective to track in an already complicated objective based game. At the same time, Wyrd goes to extreme lengths to make sure that throughout playtesting, the Avatars are kept at a power level similar to Masters and Henchman. This way it is not necessary for a player to use an Avatar to have a chance in the game.

So, jump forward about 9 more months to around May 2012. Since the beginning of 2011 the game grows exponentially and new players pour into the scene. Experienced gamers and new gamers alike start to play Malifaux. Along with this rush of players comes new issues that are identified. First, competitive Malifaux starts to move into a visible position with tournaments jumping up in the US and UK. These tournaments bring competitive players who start discovering ways to "break" the game and start discovering over-powered combinations of models that were missed in earlier playtesting. The growth also brings in a wider spectrum of new players, along with non-native-english speaking players and additional clarification and FAQ's are required. Wyrd copes with this by pointing folk to the Rules Manual and answering questions on the forums. Errata are created to fix both Typo's on cards along with some balance issues. Release of errata is slowed down a bit as the the errata is tested by the Wyrd development testing team. Around the May time-frame all these errata, clarification, and FAQ are again rolled together in a set of downloadable documents and released to the public in one place, making it easy to track the changes.

Jump ahead a bit to July 2012. Wyrd announces that they will be releasing a new Core Rulebook 1.5 at this time. What the heck is this? Let me try and shed a little light on the situation. The first Rulebook for Malifaux contained three pieces of information.
  1. Background story "Fluff"
  2. Game Rules
  3. Model Rules 
Of these three pieces of information, numbers 2 and 3 became outdated and unusable when playing the current version of Malifaux. Enough was clarified and errated within the rules that the gaps in the first rulebooks rules make it not good. Also, the V2 cards invalidaded several of the V1 cards listed in the first rulebook. However, despite these changes, the initial background story was fantastic but only available in a book that had gone out of print. This left many of the newer players with no good way to get thier hands on that information. To address that, Wyrd decided to release a core rulebook to replace the original Malifaux rulebook (book 1). This is what Malifaux Rulebook 1.5 is. It is a book with the orignial background story, updated and current rules, updated and current V2 cards.

Now, that brings us to the looming Gencon 2012. We already know a new rulebook is coming. We know this based on Wyrd's past record plus EricJ's announcement on the Gamers Lounge podcast. Eric says this book will contain a new faction called 10 Thunders. I suspect this will add a load of new models, similar to Rising Powers. We have heard that the 10 Thunders factions infiltrate other factions. This could mean an additional set of rules similar to Avatar Rules in Twisting Fates. It also might not. We have to wait for Gencon to see.

So, post Gencon what would you need to buy for a "complete set" of Malifaux rules. That answer is simple, you buy the Rules Manual. Basically, you end up with the following two choices:

If you want the basics:
  1. Rules Manual
  2. Model rules on the cards that come when you buy the model
 If you want a complete set of rules for all models/rules/etc:
  1. Malifaux Core Rulebook 1.5
  2. Rising Powers 
  3. Twisting Fates
  4. Book 4 (10 Thunders)
I would probably still pick up a rules manual since its a quick reference and easy to carry around.

I just realized how long this is, so I am going to sign off for today. Later this week I will come back and discuss rules changes and errata.


  1. I would love to see the 5 year book be a hardback with all the fluff from book 1 to current, all the rules, and all the minis. I dont play much and i would buy the hell out of that!

  2. That is the reason I am sold on this game. The interaction between the company and the players.
    Like James, I would like to see a hardback book with all of the fluff be one of the year 5 releases. The other book could be a hard back or spiral with just the models....I know greedy!