Friday, July 27, 2012

Apologist? Sycophant? Fan?

I have not read this book, but I have been accused of being a Wyrd apologist. In fact, its been worse than that, with terms such as Fanboi and Sycophant being thrown out in relation to me and Wyrd. I had some thoughts on this, and I have both a blog and a podcast. Apparently people like to hear my opinions so I figured I would start exploring this topic on the blog. Thats not a promise it will not make it onto the podcast at some point, but for the time being I think this is a more appropriate format. Just a bit of a warning, I envisage this post being filled with a variety of links. Even if its not a lot of links, I will probably be too lazy to go back and edit this out.

So, lets jump in. Are you aware that I really enjoy Malifaux as a game? If so, you might also be aware that I have a very positive opinion of Wyrd as a company. I have had the privilege of gaining a bit of "insider" status with the Wyrd crew and while I certainly do not see everything, the things I do see impress me. I did not start my journey into Miniature Wargaming with Wyrd, but instead started with Games Workshop and thier 40K game. I expanded from 40K into Warhammer Fantasy, and only after several years of that did I find Wyrd.

I have become aware of a fair amount of discussion lately around positive and negative support to gaming companies. Games Workshop raises their prices every year, and when they do there is a flurry of unhappiness on the various internet outlets for opinion (podcasts, blogs, and forums). Along with a bucket full of bile, there are always those people who play the game and simply love it, and see Games Workshop as incapable to do any wrong. Now, GW is a large company in the Mini-Wargaming world and lots of people seem to get joy out of hating them. Other companies have come along and for a variety of reasons, they are held up as glowing examples of all that GW does wrong and that could be done right in the world.

Fair enough. The unmitigated hate of GW is as unwarranted as the unbiased love for GW. By the same token, its the same for the smaller companies. Everyone has the capability to do really well and do poorly in a situation, and these companies are making choices on both an artistic (developing rules, game systems, models, art, etc) and on a business aspect. These factors will not always align for providing a mini-wargaming utopia.

So what does this have to do with Wyrd and Malifaux? Hopefully I gauged your waning interest appropriately and caught you before you stopped reading! Recently we are seeing some vocal unhappiness in the paradise of Wyrd-ville. Numbers of people both lightly and heavily active on the Wyrd forums are unhappy because Wyrd has not released preview pictures of models before they go on sale. Others are anxious to find out what will be released at Gencon, and are becoming increasingly frustrated as that information is not released. Still others have claimed to have quit the game all together because they are unhappy with the way the game is written (apparently?) or balanced (as claimed).

Then we get some discussions about game terms such as Fan boy and Rage Quitting. We get accusations that Wyrd has some type of agenda of evil against critics. This seems to be balanced by posts on the Wyrd forum talking about why players are not quitting the game and asking if Malifaux is people favorite mini-wargame out there.

So why would I both writing up an article on this? Whats the point? I am glad you asked (actually I asked for you.. but keep reading). I was recently accused of being a Sycophant when it comes to Wyrd. I found this interesting, as I have freely admitted I was a fan, and I have previously shaken my head at those GW supporters who think the company can do no wrong. I am coming around to understanding their standpoint a little bit. As I said above, I am a fan of both Wyrd and of Malifaux. I am making an effort to step back and be objective when I see arguments on the negatives. I assume I am labeled a sycophant due to my support of Wyrd, Malifaux, and my comments and opinions that I do not see the same problems the detractors do. There are some hot topics floating around lately, some were very well detailed in a forum post. I am one of the community who disagree with the opinions that seem to be cropping up recently in relation to frustration with Wyrd.

So, I am now asking myself, is there a middle ground? If the "Fan Boy's" stop calling the "Rage Quitters" trolls does that make things better? If the Trolls stop shouting their dissatisfaction at the top of their virtual lungs, will that make things friendlier? Why is expressing disagreement with a detracting opinion immediatly grounds for labeling somebody a Sycophant? or an Apologist? I wonder why its such a popular move to immediately condemn a mini-wargaming company despite a track-record to the contrary.

Overall, this is likely a tempest in a teapot and will fade away. I am likely doing everyone a disservice by even bringing it up. Then again, it is something I am contemplating and spending "brain space" on, so why not post it to my blog?

At the end of the day, I really enjoy Malifaux. It is my favorite game and I am not quitting. I spend a fair amount of time traveling to play in Malifaux events, and want to see the overall community grow. I see an established track record of Wyrd maintaining incredibly high standards by rejecting unsatisfactory products (Avatar Levi model pushed back, Terra-clips redesigned, Avatar Hoffman pushed back, etc) in places where other companies have a track record of releasing the lower standard item to maintain a sales pipeline. I do not believe Wyrd is trying to take my money, but instead I see a heavy balance toward the creative and the fan and away from the business. I see a company that is doing an awful lot to be involved with their customers and fans. I do believe the game is balanced from the point of how the game is defined to be played. I have a blog where I write about the game, spend time painting the models for the game, record 2 podcasts related to the game, and am a henchman pushing the game on new players.

If there was a doubt that I an a fan, dispel it. Apparently that makes me a Sycophant and an Apologist.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Statistic Updates and 100 Games of Malifaux in 2012

I really enjoy playing Malifaux, as should be no surprise to anyone who listens to my podcast or reads this blog. In addition to that, I really love glancing over the statistics that are generated with the fantastic (and slightly edited) spreadsheet that Rushputin originally created and that I use to track my hobby. The link is over there on the left hand side for those who want to poke around. I originally used that spreadsheet to track just my painting. Then I used an update to track painting and modeling. Rush was tracking his games as well, and I figured what the hell.

A point I think is important to make is that tracking my games has not been about wins and losses. Yes, I track those aspects to a very granular level, but the real fun for me is in other data that can be mined from the spreadsheet. I track my games based on a me-focus. What armies am I taking. In Malifaux, what faction/master/strategy/scheme did I play. I also track the players I play against and their faction and master. Then I track scores for each of those areas. Specifically I do not track how much I win by, only how my own score breaks out and what I was successful at along with if the game was a win/loss/draw.

I hit a milestone recently (yesterday as of the writing of this article) that I found interesting. I played my 100th game of Malifaux in 2012 on July 25th. When I think about it, that's a lot of games. Last year I reached the 100 mark near the end of August, so I guess this is not a huge deal but it felt somehow significant. It came up for me while talking with another player about learning the game. He had mentioned that he needed to play more games to get better, and was feeling pretty satisfied with his skill after a total of 20 games. That made me ponder how many games I had played this year, thus the comparison.

In any miniature game, playing a lot gives you some perspective on the game that is different than those who play far less. I have experienced a large number of different events/players/skills/combo's/etc in the game. I have seen a wide breadth of crew builds and play styles in Malifaux. These are things that can only be picked up after playing a large number of games.

Its interesting to me.

With that, here are a couple charts from my spreadsheet. Call it fun, interesting, or just boring. Stats are like that.

We start with looking at what "Armies" I have played through the year. This year has been entirely Malifaux, and the split is pretty heavy on the Guild side. This makes sense as I played Guild heavily through the end of Adepticon. Neverborn is catching up and the Arcanists still have a showing, albeit a small showing comparatively.

Logically, that would bring us to looking at how I have done per faction. Neverborn have a higher win rate than the other factions for me. With that said, I find it interesting that I have won more games with Guild than I have even played Arcanists. That probably has a lot to do with tournaments, as both Guild and Neverborn make tournament appearances while Arcanists do not. I have only 3 crews for Arcanists, with 1 being a henchman leader. I do not play Rasputina much and when I do play her its only in fun games. That makes Arcanists not as great of a choice for higher level tournaments over my other two factions where I have complete factions.

Going to the next level of granularity, we look at my records with individual masters. This is just kind of interesting overall. With my tracking of Avatars as separate from masters, it makes this a different kind of chart since each of the avatars has to start out as the master as well. Adding that complexity into the game can certainly make the game go differently from playing the master straight up.

One of the things I find most interesting in tracking my game stats are charts like this one. Strategies (Primary objectives) in Malifaux are randomly generated from 13 possibilities, and then can also be shared or individual. Tournaments usually assign specific strategies to a round. With that in mind, this is a great chart to see what I tend to play most and least. Since this is mostly random, you can see where some of my luck sits.

I hope that was an interesting read for folks, I know the stats are fun to look at for me. There are some more that I do not track in charts, but just as calculated data. Some examples are games vs specific opponents and such. Those stats can make for fun rivalries, such as my 1/11/2 record vs Mike and my 2/4 record against Dan.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Warmonger Malifaux tournament

Last weekend I jumped in the car and headed up to NYC for a Warmongers tournament. I enjoy catching games with the Warmonger crew when I am in town and try to make it to a couple tournaments up there through the year. Despite a nightmare of traffic problems in the morning, Rochester Henchman Dave and I made it to the Complete Strategist an hour late and jumped straight into our first game.

The tournament was a 30ss, fixed faction tournament. The TO, Weakland, set up the event with a couple changes. First, the strategies for the 3 round were shared fixed strategies as follows:
  • Round 1 - Shared Treasure Hunt
  • Round 2 - Shared Supply Wagon
  • Round 3 - Shared Reconnoiter
Then he made another change I found interesting. He restricted the schemes to only the basic schemes, not allowing Faction specific or Master specific schemes. This put everyone on a fairly even footing, as many people believe that the faction related schemes are too easy in many cases.

Heading up to the event, I had decided to bring my Neverborn with me. This is my third (I think, third or fourth) event with the Warmongers and I had always ended up playing Guild in the past. Weakland, who is also thier henchman, had given me a bit of harassment in the past because it is rumored I am a decent Neverborn player. I have also experienced the lack of Neverborn in their community before, and that guild was a pretty heavy turn-out with their players. 

Round 1 - Shared Treasure Hunt vs Luke

 Round 1 I was matched up vs Luke, who had declared Neverborn. We had a terraclips style table set-up with a couple houses on both sides of the board. Knowing the strategy was shared Treasure Hunt, I was already pretty much fixed on what I was bringing. It was the perfect mission for the old lady and Collodi's puppet show. My list was as follows:
4x Marrionettes
Stitched Together
Mysterious Effigy
Wicked Doll
Luke ended up tossing out Zoraida as well, with the following crew:
2x Slurids
This was the first round of the tournament, so I figured I would be able to knock out some of the tougher schemes in the game. I grabbed Exterminate Nightmares, figuring Collodi could take out the Twins and a stitched. I also grabbed Breakthrough, as Zoraida is good as swooping to the other side of the board when necessary. With those grabbed, we were on our way.

The start of the game went pretty much to plan. Luke activated his slurids and shifted them around a bit. Collodi made his dolls fast and swooped to the middle of the board to grab the treasure. His marionettes then handed it off and headed back to my deployment zone. By the end of turn 2 things were moving up the table, Zoraida was at mid-board, and my Stitched was holding the treasure in my deployment zone. Not a bad start to the game. The mid-turns of the game turned against me, as Collodi was not able to pull through the kills on the twins before Lelu and the Stitched tore Collodi apart. After that it became a race with Zoraida running for the deployment zone and trying to obey the twins to kill each-other. At the end of the game, I had broken his hold-out but we were tied on the number of models in his deployment zone. That left me with 4 points for Treasure Hunt, and nothing for my schemes. On the other side, I had broken his schemes, so was still ahead overall. That first win moved me into round 2 on a moderate differential but a win overall.

Round 2 - Shared Supply Wagon vs Weakland
Due to an off number of players in the tournament, Weakland had to jump in and play. I was actually happy about this, as I had missed my chance to face him at Adepticon and this was a great chance for us to play a game. Weakland was playing Outcasts and I saw him drop Taelor on the table with other models, so I expected I would be facing the Viktorias, which is one of his go-to crews. I dug out Lilith to start with, planning on putting together a Lilith/Nekima grow list to take down the Supply Wagon. I had a moment of second guessing and put Lilith away to replace her with Zoraida for the second game in a row. I looked at his list and grabbed Steal Relic and Kill Grudge no the Convict Gunslinger. My list ended up being:
2x Desperate Mercenaries
3x Terror Tots
Wicked Doll

To my surprise, Weakland did not take the Vik's and rolled out with Von Schill leading his crew. His list was:
Von Schill
Convict Gunslinger
Freikorps Librarian
Freikorps Trapper
This game went my way from turn 1. The board was set-up with lots of area terrain and Hight 4 objects (clumps of bushes/etc) and a couple flat topped steep hills. The Trapper went first and took 2 shots at one of my desperate Mercenaries, aiming to slow down my grow cycle in turn 1. He missed one shot and the other only did weak damage, failing to kill the Merc. The trapper then repositioned to be hidden from sight. This started the dance, which ended turn 1 with 2 Young and a Mature on the table and ready to go. Weaklands crew had repositioned forward to brace for the incoming onslaught. The next couple turns saw my crew systematically tear apart his crew, then Nekima unleashed her anger on his supply wagon. Come turn 5, only Von Schill was left on his side. Schill had been playing keep-away with Zoraida and her wicked doll all game, running then taking a pot-shot at her, then resisting the attempts by the doll to steal his relic. After 10 attempts to steal the relic, that little wicked doll ended up ripping Schill's mustache right off his face. In return, Schill thwumped the doll and held me at 1 point on that scheme. When the dust cleared, I ended up with 7 points to his 0. This put me at the top table for the final round of the event.

Round 3 - Shared Reconnoiter vs George
Remember when I said that there were very few Neverborn playing in the Warmongers club? Apparently they have become much more popular, as I found myself facing another Neverborn player for the second time during the day. Shared Reconnoiter is one of my least liked strategies, as it typically comes down to trying to kill off my opponent and keep a couple things on the board. I had been playing Zoraida all day, but she is typically a good choice vs other Neverborn crews. With that said, I had wanted to get Pandora out at some point during the day and this was my last chance. With that in mind, I grabbed Pandora and found I was facing a Dreamer crew. George told me he had only been playing about 2 months, which impressed me since he was on the top table. Knowing that I scaled back my Pandora crew a bit, putting the Arcane Effigy away and bringing out the puking snake instead. I ggeabbed Kill Protege on Teddy and Bodyguard for Pandora and was ready to go to town. The board was a load of multi-story 40K building terrain, and our lists were as follows:
Puking Snake
Insidious Madness
and his list was
Day Dream
Stitched Together
George was not familiar with the Doppelganger, Pandora, or the snake so I explained what they do and how they worked real quick then we got down to playing. The first couple turns worked out well, with me being able to kill off Lelu and get him to pull out all his nightmares onto the table. He eliminated my insidious madness early, but was having trouble breaking through Pandora and her crew. Come turn 3 and 4 I made a mistake and got comfortable and cocky that I was playing a new player and had the game "in the bag". Take some advice from me, don't ever do this. During turn 4 Chompy hit the board and George held some important cards to break through Pandora's defenses and ended up killing her off. This left me in a precarious position of having Lelu, Lilitu, and a Doppelganger on the board facing Teddy and LCB. The poor Doppelganger was stuck in melee with both Teddy and LCB, I got initiative and threw Lelu into a charge to try and take out Teddy (who was on 4 wounds remaining). Lelu missed all his attacks. With the bond activation, Lilitu repositioned a bit and black-jokered her lure to pull Lelu out of combat. LCB activated and proceeded to tear apart Lelu, leaving me with the Doppelganger. I flipped well and passed both her terrifying flips then contemplated how to pull the game out. I smiled as I realized I could still do this. First I had the doppelganger mimic LCB's claws then his Flay trigger.  This put me in reach of Teddy, which she attacked twice. On the second attack I was able to cheat in a mask and get the flay off, dealing 4 wounds to Teddy and grabbing my Kill Protege. This left me with 2 points and it came down to an initiative flip. Thanks to the Doppelganger, I got initiative and had pulled 5 masks into my hand on the draw. I started with Lilitu getting safely up onto a higher level of a building then lured the doppelganger to me using a series of double-take lures, pulling the doppelganger out of danger. Chompy moved across the board but could not get close enough to kill off the doppelganger. In return, the Doppelganger healed up her earlier damage and ran for his side of the board, hiding behind a lot of terrain. Turn 6 ended with LCB killing off Lilitu and grabbing 1 table quarter, while I grabbed a different quarter with the unreachable Doppelganger. The game ended in a 3/1 win to me.

That netted me 1st place at the tournament and I grabbed the last of the Warmongers Fate Decks from their last print run. Overall a very fun day!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Malifaux Puzzle Anyone?

Thanks to Bell of Lost Souls for the cover art to the new Malifaux Book, Storm of Shadows. Its due out at Gencon and the excitement is growing! The blog-o-sphere and the Podcasting community is really jumping on board as Gencon gets closer and more information is leaked out.

Speaking of new information being disseminated to the community, everyone who is interested in teasers should go and check out the Breachside Broadcast. Its available at the website (link previously) and also on iTunes. This is a great little podcast set-up to support the current Malifaux Summer campaign, Dead Heat. Its has been a privledge to be part of it and a lot of fun to do. One of the best parts of the broadcast has been getting to record audio snippets to release with a new teaser picture from the upcoming book. To that end, we come to this blog post. Wyrd was kind enough to share the following puzzle piece with me. Check out the Breachside Broadcast episode 4.2 for more details.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Mysterious Effigy and Paint Progress

Malifaux Malifaux, how I love you.You are driving me mad with your models however!

This is by no means a rant post, more a rambling from my head on how much I love this game. I have really not been in the mood to paint lately. I had the play this past Saturday to sleep in, get up mid-morning and hide from the family, head down to the Man-Cave and get some painting done. I had my two riders that seemed to be calling to me from the Box of Stuff Still to be painted. The Pale Rider and the Hooded Rider have been waiting a while and I kind of want to play around with them. I have new bases for both models to match the selected factions. I figured it was a no brainer to go down and paint.

Then I woke up. Lunch at the Chicago style beef and hotdog place was really good. Grabbing some gourmet cupcakes down the road and carting them back home. Scan over the Wyrd forums a bit and see whats new. Ok, now I was already to paint (a good 3 hours after I intended). Nope, I just felt off so it was off to the XBox to play a little MTG 2012.

Finally, nearly 5 hours after I intended to start painting and assembly, I dragged my but down to the man cave, tossed on some podcasts, and started working. I went through the aforementioned box and pulled out the two Riders boxes. I glimpsed the blister of Night Terrors and knowing I will be playing Dreamer in an upcoming tournament, I figured I would pull them out. Damn, I need another blister as well, as I really want to field three of these little guys. I figured while I was assembling models, getting Avatar Zoraida finally together made sense as well. I pulled out all those small boxes and blisters and then packed up the remainder to put the box away. It was then that the Mysterious Effigy caught my eye from my paint tray. That little bugger reminded me that if I pulled out the Carrion Effigy I could have a complete set of Effigies done. Ok, box back down, dig through and grab the Carrion Effigy, then repack the box again and put it away.

It was at this point I wandered back to the table and noticed that a Large Steampunk Arachnid had crawled out of the box into the pile of stuff to assemble. I am not sure how this happened, his damn legs are not even attached! So, I went to town with Glue and bases and a little bit of quick dry. Assembly complete, the whole batch went into the priming tray.
  • Avatar Zoraida
  • Carrion Effigy
  • 2x Night Terrors
  • Avatar Zoraida's base (customized with a dremel to get it to work)
  • 2 Night Terror bases
  • (the Carrion Effigy is being painted on his base)
So, primer spray until the room is clouded up and then I step back to let the primer dry. While I am waiting I figure why not paint up the Mysterious Effigy. So, out come the paints and water cup and away I go. The little guy painted up nicely, although there are a couple fiddly parts that are tough to get to. I am not sure if it was was a better idea to assemble him then paint or if it would have been better to paint him up unassembled. Regardless, I got him all painted up and mounted to his base and was feeling fairly accomplished.

So, fully painted Mysterious effigy set to the side on his card, primed models go onto the painting tray for future painting, paints packed up and water cup cleaned and rinsed out. Palette cleaned off and I am good to go for dinner. Then it hit me as I looked at my paint tray and the table it sits on. Those of you keeping score probably realised this a short bit ago.

I went down intending to assemble and paint up 2 riders. My Hooded and Pale riders were both sitting in their boxes, never even making it out of the plastic. There they sit, still not assembled, next to a newly filled paint tray.

Huh. This must be what ADD feels like. Well, here is the quicky picture of the Mysterious effigy.