Friday, 30 January 2015

Why I love Malifaux rather than Wyrd

I played some Malifaux with Ben this evening (I lost 10 - 7, Chompy Dreamer got beaten by Kaeris) and as we did we were talking a little bit about the recently released playtest models and campaign rules.

Better at summoning that eating stuff

For those of you who are unaware of Wyrd games they are a US company who make the Malifaux game as well as the 'Through the Breach' RPG and a few other smaller games they publish on behalf of their authors - Jetpack Unicorn and Evil Baby Orphanage being the only ones I can remember with our looking them up. When they went to the second edition of Malifaux in 2012 they decide to take a leaf out of Privateer Presses book and do a public playtest of the new rules and new models.  Cue several months of weekly updates to the stuff and (generally well managed) interaction with the playerbase.  I didn't really participate beyond reading the cards and frothing with my mates about them but I eagerly followed those that did on Twitter and on the forums.


So far so good. A model example of player engagement compared to GW!
Then slowly it started to break down. A second wave of models were released for testing then a third containing the much maligned avatars.  Wave 2 made it to the end of the line and were published in the Crossroads book late last year but the third wave was abandoned before it was finished. Now avatars have returned as part of the campaign rules in a fourth wave of public testing, along with an admission that they weren't balanced for regular play and that their inclusion was a mistake. Oh and we aren't making anymore of the models.

"We have extracted enough urine for this test"
The production and release schedules don't win them any friends either. Rather than the GW model of released models for a faction at a time the new releases are roughly spread across all seven factions. Oh, they are also resculpting all their models in plastic from the original metal.

In gaming nothing is cheaper
So Wyrd are trying to do an awful lot at once and it was inevitable that there were going to be problems.  Ophelia is one of the gremlin masters who attracted a lot of criticism for the way her upgrades allowed her to target herself with the (0) actions allowing her to do an awful lot as well as missing the 'discard this upgrade after using' from Big Threatening Gun.  This was corrected in the next wave of card decks but also attracted the remark that the community needs to share in the responsibility for these mistakes by not spotting them in testing...

Fah. Playtesters.
I'm not sure I buy that.  I'm not sure that it's reasonable to declare that players are to blame for mistakes like that,  however slightly. I mean,  I'm not a games designer,  nobody I play with its a game designer,  the only people involved in Malifaux (to the best of my knowledge anyway) who are games designers work for Wyrd.  And are paid to design and test games. Now I get the advantage of community testing (a Legion of free testers for one...) and I get that some feedback gets overruled for whatever reason (ya know,  by professionals), but I honestly don't know how the community can be blamed...

I don't know if this baby is designing a game.
Other things that spoil my love of Wyrd are their distribution issues.  Its been nearly two years and no Brewmaster.  But it's okay -  we got a new sculpt of some guild minions that already exist. I know there will always be an element of "my faction is more important" but there aren't many book 1 models not released,  why start on the book 2 stuff without finishing the set first?

Probably not real...
So, the conclusion of my nerd rage is that I still love Malifaux, i'll still play it but I'll "right size" my collection down a bit. Probably to Neverborn and Gremlins. And then I'm done.  Stick with what I have and spend my cash on other things...

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

I played a game!

So last night Mark and I played some Warmachine...

This is exactly what it looked like
It was the first outing for Hierarch Severius (e-Sevvy or Sevvy2 for those who speak the lingo) of the Protectorate of Menoth against Orsus Zoktavir,  the Butcher of Khardov (Butcher1 - a Khador caster). It was only a 15 point game so didn't involve very many models on each side.

My list contained:
* e-Sevvy
* 4 man Choir of Menoth
* A Vassal of Menoth
* A Reckoner heavy warjack
* A Redeemer light warjack
* Tristan Durant (looking after the Redeemer)

Mark had:
* Butcher
* A war dog
* 4 Widowmakers
* A Destroyer heavy warjack
* A Juggernaut heavy warjack

So this happens when you google "Angry Butcher"...
It was my first game and Mark's first for a long time so we made a few rules mistakes. Mostly involving AoE damage and how exactly you cast spells (for future reference,  I think it's using your focus stat not your current focus...). The game itself was a lot of fun and nowhere near as complex as the rulebook suggested it might be. I'm going to claim noob privilege to justify my defeat though I will note that I'm pretty sure my Reckoner would have smashed Butcher into the ground next turn!

Not as complex as first imagined

The aim of the game is relatively simple - kill the enemy caster (most of the time). Warmachine had been sold to me as a game about problem solving and resource management which seems pretty accurate. There were several points where I found myself having to think about which order to best activate my units in to get the best result, which I enjoyed immensely.  I was worried it was going to be a bit more point and click,  more like 40K, but it doesn't seem to be. I've said before that I like my games tactical and objective based, despite being a very different take on the idea it was well worth a look!

The list I took seemed effective and I can see why all the models in it were suggested as good buys - It had a nice mix buffs for a melee jack and a shooting jack.  The one thing I'm not certain of is whether I like the caster or not.  e-Sevvy seemed a little... anaemic? He had no attacks to speak of,  his defensive buff is nice and he has a lot of focus but he didn't seem to do much.  Maybe it's because it was a low point game - his feat and influence spell were both sorely lacking in targets - but I think I'm going to pick up another one to some variety.  Maybe the none-epic version of Severius? He is a bit more blasty I think. Or one of the more combat focused casters?  I'm not sure - it's really hard to tell from one game. I'm going to try to get a game against Raye's Cygnar next week - I don't know what they do but I gather is very different to Khador...

Google had some suggestions...

Anyway.  I also did some painting.  Have a look!

I love the model for Hierarch Severius - it is stunning. Of course the staff falls off all the damn time but that is more than made up for by the beauty of the sculpt. This model is pretty much why I picked the Protectorate - this may have been a poor way to choose a faction.

This the Vassal of Menoth. He looks like he is riding an invisible horse. I have no idea why.

These guys are the Choir of Menoth. Beautiful models, useful on the table, whats not to love?

I'm working on some jacks at the moment but they only have undercoat on them so aren't worth sharing. Maybe next time?

In other news the next wave of Malifaux playtest stuff has been released. I think my next article will be about why I'm not very excited about it or the whole Wyrd playtest concept at the minute.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

The end of the world as we know it?

I came across this on TWF and decided I had to blog about it. Disclaimer: I've not played Warhammer in well over a year and sold my army over the summer so I have no dog in this particular fight.
From Darnok over at Warseer
If you like Warhammer, I suggest you better take a seat.
Over the last few months I got a few glimpses on what WHF could change to in the very near future. I have collected messages, asked questions, and tried to form a somewhat coherent picture. The one thing I believe by now is: Warhammer in its current form will no longer be supported by GW. It will be transformed into something else, with everything built up in background and most of the model range being kicked out of the door.
To give you an insight into some of the messages I got, have a look at the following. Please note that I am paraphrasing at times, and have cut out (hopefully) everything that could lead to the original identities of my friendly birdies.
- 9th Edition to pick up where the ET leaves off in fluff, plus a couple of hundred years or so (to reboot the setting).
- The Warhammer World gets shattered on a dimensional level during the climax of the ET. No more "map of the Old World" - it's now little bubbles of reality, where pockets of civilisation try desperately to eke a living before the next collision with another bubble, which may be full of Chaos. (To address the problem of "how come my Tomb Kings of Khemri are fighting against Wood Elves from Athel Loren?", not that I get the impression that either of those will still exist, but you get the idea)
- New faction... heavily armoured, religious, "good" human warriors fighting with the power of the gods. (Warhammer Space Marines, basically). Karl Franz Ascended seems to be the prototype or precursor for this concept, AFAICT.
9th edition will have 6 factions. Model diversity cut in half shelf space. New world and new age so current factions and lore aren't recognizable at all. Each new faction has like 3 core units that will always be on the shelf. Much faster releases of stuff, mainly characters and special units of 2-5 fancy models (like Morghasts) that have their own rules right in the box, so not dependent on a static army book. Many of the these non-core models are only available for a limited time (say 6 months to a year), so they don't take up shelf space forever and ever. Many existing models are not usable in 9th.
We can expect the next edition of Fantasy to throw everything up in the air. The whole End Times move has been to wean people onto a whole new take on the Warhammer world and it's going to start with every army being "chaosified". We can expect army play styles and appearance to change quite dramatically and there will be a whole load of new models being released early on to tie everything together. This has caused quite a stir back at GW HQ as there are a lot of people behind the scenes (some of which are very well known to us) who don't like the changes that have been made. I have also been told that the models due to be released are some of the best to date!
'9th' [or] whatever is next for fantasy [...] coming 2015 in the summer. The new faction [plus] future releases after this point for five 'existing' factions (which plus this would make six) […] but I think there will be [...] more.
I gather from some other threads that this Darnok chap is considered pretty reliable as a source and that his stuff tends to be fairly accurate. As ever with GW it could all be lies and nonsense (this is what happens when you are so scared of people copying your ideas that you lock down your release schedule).

It's an interesting idea and actually makes me a bit interested in Warhammer again,  certainly interested enough to keep an ear out for the next stage in the story. I've always had a fondness for GW's world (both fantasy and 40K) but long feel out of love with their games and business model.

My reading of that is that they want to reduce the model count to boost the popularity of the game - people have been suggesting for ages that the top brass believe fantasy is the poor relation of 40K because people don't want to sink the cash into getting a playable army.  If they change that maybe it will revive is fortunes - it would also explain the End Times theme of merging multiple armies into combined forces (The Undead Legion, The Elven Warhost and a Chaos Legion thing).

The change in seeing seems a bit left field - The Black Library seems to make a tidy profit from stories about the world, though this would give chance to write a whole load more...

Watch this space I guess!