Thursday, May 2, 2013

Malifaux V2 Announced - Changes Incomming

Well, the announcement has shown up and the community is buzzing about the incoming Malifaux V2. Those of you who did not get a chance to read the Wyrd newsletter you can find it here:

There are a number of podcasts that are also releasing interviews with Mack Martin and Justin Gibbs, the two new designers of the Malifaux game. I have to admit that its nice to see, after posting my previous article, that Wyrd decided to reach out to Malifaux podcasts to provide some interviews to the core playing audience for this big change. In many cases, the Malifaux podcasts beat the non-malifaux outlets to the punch on releasing the interviews in conjunction with the announcement.

Here are some of the places the interviews can be found:

As I understand it, more interviews are coming on other outlets as well, so keep an eye on the interwebz folks. As mentioned, there seems to be only one place there will not be an interview, and that's Gamers Lounge. This is my own choice, as I am very unhappy with what I have seen of V2 and chose not to do an interview with EricJ this year because of the back and forth I have had with him (and Mack and Justin) on this topic. While I admit it would have been nice to have been asked if I wanted to do the interview, I think Eric, Mack, and Justin are all pretty clear on where I stand. As such I understand why I was pointedly left out.

Moving Onto the Article

All of that said above, I am not really focusing on that in this article. I really wanted to follow up the last Article (Surviving Adepticon 2013) with some writing about the high points of my games at the Masters and Avatars, along with a series of articles with my overall thoughts on the Competitive Malifaux scene. I wanted to.

To be honest, the announcement of V2 has spun me back to being off kilter and upset over the changes again. Do to this, I have lost my focus on the games and I am not sure if I will get back to writing up that small series or not. I am currently at the point where I have seen some division in my own playing group over Malifaux V2 to the point I am no longer enjoying going to the game store on my normal gaming night. This is likely to also impact the podcast, which really disapoints me as well.

All that said, I figured there was a better article to post at this point. I want to take some time and write about what I love with Malifaux Classic (V.1). My recent interactions with Wyrd representatives have been less than positive lately. This has been further exacerbated by my local group splintering, which has really started to decrease my enjoyment in the game. I think that setting some of those thoughts about what I love in Malifaux Classic in a post will be helpful to me, and also might be interesting to others. This is also a timely article as the upcoming Open Beta test of Malifaux V.2 will have the new rules and models in everyones hands after May 31. Having this list will help me take a closer look at what I might consider both good and bad about Malifaux V.2.

Then again, maybe this is going to be passed over to the dark depths of the ignored internet. It's a vanity project (the blog that is), but I have the keyboard to type and type I will.

What I love about Malifaux Classic

There is an awful lot I love about this game. Starting with my first demo game of Malifaux there were portions of the game that grabbed me. This feeling only grew as I played more and expanded my collections of models. My first demo game was set-up between Jay and I with Jay setting up Nicodem and some zombies while I was handed Perdita and her family of gunslingers. The first turn was a little intimidating, trying to figure out movement, activation, AP and the cards. At some point during turn 3 things really came together for me and I fell in love. I started to read abilities on the cards like Companion and figure out the combo's that would work. I started to really feel the character of the models in how their rules worked together to create a complete package. It took a couple more games, but I knew there was something magical in this game after the end of that turn 3. I'm not sure if they knew it, and I am pretty certain Jay doesn't want the credit, but Dan and Mike answering questions and mostly Jay playing through that demo really gave the start to the game that has defined the last 3 years of my gaming life. June 2010, that demo really changed things for me.

So, looking back over the game that will be consigned to extinction this coming Gencon 2013, what are those things that still make me love the game? What are those things in Malifaux that I want to see in any other miniature game I am going to fall in love with?

The Models
This is a pretty simple one, but its important as well. Wyrd's miniatures really hit a asthetic for me that I truly prefer. This is the first game I have seen where the majority of the minis in the game are ones I think look good. Overall I have very few models in the Malifaux line that I do not like the look of. Overall I am not a fan of undead models, so the bulk of the Reserectionists do not strike my fancy.  I do love the spirit models and the hanged however, and like some of the new models getting released from Storm of Shadows. As a whole, I even like the look of some models which I do not actually prefer to use in game. I have no love for Outcasts in general, but I really like the look of several of the models for Leviticus' and Viktoria's crews. Wyrd's move into plastic was a great move in my opinion. The models are maintaining or increasing in detail overall, while becoming much easier to work with overall. I have to say, I am really looking forward to the new Malifaux models to come.

Skirmish Game
Malifaux is a skirmish game, which is not something I truly understood until I played the game.  I moved into Malifaux from an Army Scale game, Warhammer 40K and Warhammer Fantasy. The idea of playing with less than 50 models on the table was not something I had even considered prior to seeing Malifaux. Even the GW Lord of the Rings skirmish game was something I was never interested in. Once I was introduced to the mistress that is Malifaux, I learned about the joys of small numbers of models on the table. I even love this over other games that took on a skirmish moniker such as Privateer Press's Hordes and Warmachine. Malifaux is truly balanced around being skirmish sized with only 5-10 models on the table. Even the horde crews such as Gremlins and Reserrectionists would typically field less than 12 models total, with many of them being easily kill-able. Having this small amount of models on the table really opened up a couple different aspects of the game which added to its strength for me. First, I could focus on painting a small set of models as well as I could (for me, I was happy with Table Top Quality). This allowed me to be very comfortable in only playing with fully painted and based crews, which I really enjoy. Second, it made the entry into the game very reasonable. I could get started playing the game regularly after only a couple nights painting and be comfortable with having a "full crew". I was playing full sized games while still growing what ended up becoming a massive collection. Lastly, this means that every model in the game has some meaning. On the one hand, they have meaning because there are not really any "line troop" type models that are just there for chaff. On the other hand, each of the models had a lot of character and that leads to my next love.
Character Driven Game
Malifaux is a Character Driven game. Each model in the game had a story and a character behind putting it on the table. Even the swarm of gremlins each had character built into not only their models, but supported by their rules. There were still line troops in the game such as Death Marshals, Ronin, Bayou Gremlins, and Steampunk Arachnids, but they did not feel like a swarm of faceless chaff. Rarely were these models taken in large numbers, and each had a set of rules that made them work really well together with your crew. The models and their special combination of rules built upon and supported their role in the Malifaux world. This character and feel was only further expanded and strengthened as you moved to non-unique rare models, through unique named models to Henchmen and Masters. There has been some commentary that many models got too complex with multiple rules, and even I agree with that to some extent when I look at a model like Mei Feng. At the same time, these rules all built together to create a complex picture of a very singular character represented in a model. Each rule contributed to a better and clearer picture of who and what that model was in the world of Malifaux.

**I'm realizing this article is growing fairly lengthy, so I figured I would split it over a couple days. Herein ends Part 1, with What I love about Malifaux Classic Part 2 returning tomorrow.


  1. Hurry up Bill, need part two, so far all the reasons you love the game resonate completely with me

    1. PArt 2 will be up tomorrow morning, and there looks like a potential part 3 for Monday. I am finishing up the final part of the article and it looks like it might be just long enough to need another split before posting.

  2. I'm with OMMyke, you're reading my mind.... I just hope the fall from the bridge only sprains your ankle and you start running again with the torch that is Malifaux, no matter the edition!

  3. Completely agree on the skirmish aspect and the character driven rules. Especially the skirmish aspect is where I think they are better vghan say Warmachine. The models is a bit more hit and miss to me. Lots I love, some I really don't. But I can proxy so its fine

  4. Nice read! V2 can be a scary prospect, but the things previewed so far sound like they will make the game even more fun! Malifaux is a unique game, and the aspects you describe really caught me as well. Before my Malifaux time I was a 40k fanboy. Compared to GW the company and the game it just isn't a comparison :) Looks like they plan on keeping it that way in v2.

    Looking forward to try v2 on the table, until that time I will enjoy some more v1 games :)

  5. Malifaux has been an odd game for me, I utterly adore it for all the reasons you mention above plus the backstory to it being just so wonderfully deep and actually standing up pretty well as a story on it's own.

    But when it comes to playing the game it never really caught on in my local gaming club, there were about 4 of us that played and only 30mins away there was David Kerr Smith (Tartan Skrimish Radio) and his monthly tournaments but because of various reasons I only ever ended up attending 1 event and the games dwindled.

    Then Vassalfaux dropped just as I was moving house and I've not had my PC set up since so I've never played that way either.

    So for me I live Malifaux vicariously through the actions of others at present. Podcasts and painting are my only current invovlements in the game, I'm hopeful that will change though.

    Intrigued to see where your thoughts go with the remainder of the article and I'm crossing my fingers that the cast keeps on going as it's proved very enjoyable listening over the past few years.

  6. Bill,

    Thanks for part1 of this write-up. I am anxiously waiting to see how the next 7 months unfold. I love Classic Malifaux, but think M2E has potential, if at a minimum to bring a resurgence into the community. Your key points are spot on why I got into Malifaux. It is my FIRST minis game, so while seeing it change does sadden me, I can't help but accept change as it is just part of life.

    Our local NH crew really hit our stride these past 5 months with becoming competitive and forming a cohesive group both local and even have begun extending out to other states adjacent. My fear is that M2E will stifle the growth we've seen for our core group. So you can see my dilemma, on one hand I am optimistic that new 'mature' players will pick up M2E and we will continue to grow. On the other hand I am fearful we'll lose what Greg (Fastenhate), Matt (Silas Cordell), and myself have been growing over the past year, which is our core players who love Malifaux Classic :)

    Looking forward to chatting more next time your up in our neck of the woods, and really looking forward to reading part 2&3.

  7. Great read! Very much looking forward to part 2!

    I think for me I can relate on many levels as I too fell in love with v1, and at the moment I do have to try and weigh up out of my dislikes which ones are genuine and which are just fears of change.

    What I do know is that I'll always have v1 to play, and if I am not a fan of v2 I'll stick with that.

    But I think for me one of the bigger issues is that I'm not sure I am particularly happy with the direction Wyrd is going in general. I can't go into detail here and there are many reasons (I've already raised my dislike of their Kickstarts over my blog) but depending on how v2 pans out will really determine if this time next year I still have the words Henchman printed on my back.

  8. This game has character, humor, and feels like a different story each time you play rather than an exercise in rapidly assassinating a single model, getting as many little toy men inside an arbitrary square or circle objective as possible, or simply grinding through all the models on the board in dice-based attrition. I completely agree with your list on what makes Malifaux so compelling, and it seems that none of these things will be changing in 2nd edition. I'm thrilled with almost all of the proposed changes with the notable exception of upgrades, which I think will be tricky to balance. As a graphic designer, I'm relieved that they're finally addressing the poor layout and design of the cards. Each card is currently such a wall of text that they're clunky to reference and it's a chore to re-familiarize myself with the minutia buried in the cards before games. It's clear that you spend a lot of time thinking about and playing Malifaux, so I understand that memorizing model abilities isn't an issue for you, but I think cleaner design will go a long way toward making the game more accessible and attracting more players. I trust that this will not come at the expense of the "personality" of the game.

    As for miniatures, I agree with you that the character designs for Storm of Shadows characters are fantastic, but I'm not as happy with how the miniatures actually turned out. I'm glad to have all my old minis in metal before the new plastic rescuplts are released, not because I like metal (plastic is obviously easier to work with), but because they're hand-sculpted and feel true to the world of Malifaux. For me digitally sculpted models are analogous to CGI in blockbuster movies in that they seem less gritty and somehow weightless, for want of a better way of describing the difference. Analog sculpts produced in plastic would be the grail for me.

    I really hope that, despite whatever went down between you and the designers at Wyrd, that you'll stay involved in the community. I really enjoy your podcast and it would be a shame to lose it as a resource during the coming playtests and second edition. I'm generally happy with direction Malifaux is heading, and I hope that, perhaps by the end of the playtest, you'll recapture some of your excitement for the game that has been so evident in your contributions to the community thus far.

  9. Bill,

    I also want to thank you for taking time to type up your thoughts here. After your trip to NH, I had a suspicion this was where your head was. I completely understand your concerns, and they are clearly shared by others here.

    That being said, I think I'm going to have to buck convention here and deny being more than a tiny bit nervous about 2e. Any concern I have is far outweighed by excitement and curiousity. Change is difficult, but it doesn't have to be negative.

    I have not been involved in the beta tests, so I will be interested to see the full rules in a month, and to hear your thoughts on exactly what you dislike about the new edition.

    Matt, aka Silas Cordell

  10. Thanks Bill, I agree with most of what you are saying about the models aesthetics. I started playing the game because Rasputina looked so cool (of course I never bought her or her crew.)
    I have been playing the Guild this year and I am really excited and nervous about what M2E will bring, but to be honest. I trust that Eric and Nathan will not let their game take such a huge departure from what they originally envisioned.
    Of course I've read what you've written a couple times over. But I still get the feeling that you are not telling "all". ;)

    PS we should continue that conversation we started at Adepticon about Vassal and competitive preparation.