Friday, February 17, 2017

Did the Guild Get Screwed With Gaining Grounds 2017?

Yeah, that’s right. I know how to do Click-bait titles too. Buzzfeed’s got nothing on me.


In today’s post, we’ll take a look at a conversation I had at my last tournament, suggesting that the Guild may have a rough road ahead of them in the coming year. Also, we’re announcing Malifaux Musing’s first official sponsored tournament, here in lovely Blacksburg, VA. But first, some mini-musings…

MINI-MUSINGS

1)      The global Through the Breach event is kicking off this week! Fatemasters sign up through the website and receive access to a hidden forum, wherein the files for the game are posted and discussions can be had. For those unfamiliar with how these work, you’ll be given pre-generated characters and will play through storylines that other players are using worldwide. The characters include some gems like an artist who was “recruited” to join Professor Von Stuck’s University Transmortis, a drunken Guild Guardsman, and a construct who may have some connection to a certain puppetmaster…  Factions score points based on which characters are played the most as well as the Fatemaster's choice of a bonus point. Part 1 features the Fated working with an inventor in Malifaux city to construct a device to recreate the breaches generated by Cultists of the Burning Man, searching the city for parts and getting into some scrapes along the way. Jump in!

2)      The February Chronicles magazine is available atDriveThru RPG. Articles feature a guide to starting Neverborn on a budget, an introduction to a new Wyrd employee, a Through the Breach adventure in which characters journey into the spirit world, and a Malifaux Slasher Scenario called “Cabin in the Woods,” that sounds pretty cool!

3)      A new(ish) tool has been made available for tracking Malifaux games, called Logfaux. It’ll be useful for keeping track of your individual statistics over time, as well as giving a view of changes to the worldwide meta as a whole. Give them a look!

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                Now, clickbait headlines aside, what am I on about this week? Well, going into the second round of the tournament at Fantasy Underground, there was a certain amount of debate as to what sort of crew would be best suited to complete the scenario. It was Stake a Claim, with a scheme pool full of things that required us to drop markers all over the board. I was playing Guild Mccabe, and the guy I was playing against was complaining that he had Gremlins and had hoped to play against the Guild so he could out-activate and out-scheme marker me around the board. And, as we conversed, we mentioned that this round of schemes was actually kind of rough on the Guild in general, and I was inclined initially to agree. Frame for Murder being a suited scheme is ROUGH on a faction that generally does their work at the end of a sword or the barrel of a gun, especially when one of that faction’s calling cards is their bad-ass henchmen. That, plus a general perception of there being more scheme marker-ness in this set created a hypothesis and, like any good scientist, I wanted to investigate.

                Before we get to the results, let’s start with a brief discussion of my methods. If I’m going to break this down quantitatively, I have to have some baseline assumptions. First, I have to assume that, for the purposes of this exercise, schemes that encourage killing are good for the Guild, while schemes that penalize killing and/or require fast movement AND a large amount of scheme marker placement are not good for a typical Guild crew. Is this a dramatic over-generalization? Yes. Obviously. Since getting past Book 1, Guild have had their own scheme runners, and masters like Hoffman and Nellie have no problem using nasty enforcers like the Peacekeeper and handing out their own AP to them as a way of at least denying the opponent one or two points from Frame. But, we have to start from somewhere, and I wanted to basically play to the stereotypical "Hulk Smash" style Guild Crew. Second, I have to be the one to arbitrarily determine which schemes are “Good” versus “Bad” for a typical Guild crew. Are Dig their Graves or Marked for Death good schemes for them? I had to make a judgement call for this. They do involve killing, but they also involve interact actions. As such, I broke them down to a score of “1” for good schemes, “-1” for bad schemes, and “0” for those that I didn’t rate as being particularly good or bad. These ratings are entirely arbitrary, and I have no doubt that others would disagree with some of my choices. The spreadsheet is on Google Drive here, so you can go look and tell me how wrong I am. Last but not least, I multiplied this by the odds of having any of these schemes come up in the average scheme pool. I’m not a statistician, but I think I remember enough from my undergrad stats class (it was only 1 decade ago guys, so not that long) that I did that part right. Again, would not be shocked if I was incorrect about some or all of this. I calculated the sum and mean probabilities, and that gives me my rough number. Which cannot be argued with, so don’t even try, because my logic is ironclad and inescapable.



                So what do the numbers tell us? Well, the change isn’t as significant as I may have thought, but there is a definite shift which is not in the Guild’s favor. The biggest changes, unsurprisingly, are in the suited schemes. I counted Dig Their Graves as one that was in their favor since it involved killing and models like Phiona Gage makes them relatively doable, though if I counted them as neutral that would have made things even worse. The change from Show of Force to Frame for Murder is probably the biggest swing, as I consider Show to be in their favor, now that they have Debt and Numb to allow for some strong upgrades that will stay attached, unlike traditional universal upgrades from the other factions like Oathkeeper and Recalled Training that have to be discarded to take effect. The differences are offset slightly by the Doubles scheme shifting from Take Prisoner (neutral) changing to Eliminate the Leadership (good.) But, that change of two “good” suited schemes to two “bad” suited schemes is tough to overcome, as we'll see shortly.

                In the numbered schemes, 2016 GG had 3 that I considered “good” versus 5 “bad.” By comparison, in 2017 the ratio shifts to 5-3. Normally, one would think that would also help to offset things. The problem is, however, that there are only 4 of each numbered card in a deck, versus 13 of each suit. As such, a good or bad scheme here only contributes about + or - .15 to the sum probability, as compared to almost a full .5 for a suited scheme. Thus, it would take having 5 good numbered schemes to offset one suited bad scheme. Therefore, while I included them, they don’t make THAT much of a difference. Still, it’s a little something to help salve the pain, at least.

                How much of a difference did this new scheme pool end up making? Well, if we look at the sums, the total changes from -.81 in 2016 to -1.05 for 2017. This seems significant. The mean probability per scheme, however, doesn’t change that much (only a drop of .01 total.) This backs up our assertion above that, while there hasn't been a significant change in the NUMBER of positive versus negative schemes, the locations of those changes on the table make a big difference for the faction. 

                So what does this mean? I honestly expected that there would be no significant difference (that’s usually how these things work out.) However, I think there is a legitimate case to be made that the “typical” Guild crew (Kill ‘em All and let the Governor sort ‘em out) will struggle in Gaining Grounds 2017 more than it did in 2016. Admittedly, what this analysis doesn’t factor in is the fact that use of force in the game has a quality all its own that can’t be reflected in the math, namely the ability to block your opponent from scoring VP by, you know, blowing them the hell up. Still, I think it would be in the best interests of many Guild players who are looking to rack up as many VPs as possible to think outside the “typical” box and build crews that can run schemes. Look at Reporters, Hounds, or Watchers specifically to fill these jobs, and look for those badass enforcers to do the heavy lifting/killing of your crew. It’s going to be painful to bench Franc/Phiona/Ryle, but with Frame in the scheme pools almost every other game, they’re going to give those points up an awful lot. At least when the Peacekeeper kills your opponent’s Chump, you’ll only give up 2.

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                Finally, I’d like to announce the tournament I’m hosting in late April, NRVFaux. It’s a standard 50ss Gaining Grounds 2017 tournament hosted as part of a regional convention (NRVCon) that is put on by my FGL, Fun-N-Games hobbies. It will be held April 22nd, with registration starting at 9AM and the tournament kicking off at 10. In addition to the standard tournament prizes, I’ve modeled the prize support plan off of the Southeastern Malifaux group plan I’ve seen at tournaments put on by Chris Bellamy and the always Sassy Dawn McCormack. As such, there will be raffle tickets distributed for each round you’re playing a fully painted crew that can be used to enter drawings for extra prize support after the games are finished. We’ll also have a sportsmanship award, and the usual Guilders and Mystery boxes for first and second place. Additionally, the tournament organizers are kicking in some Con-Cash, good for purchasing loot from the vendors at the convention, based on the number of attendees! I’m hoping for a nice turn-out, and if you make your way to the tournament you can even meet your favorite bloggers, Adam and Jon, in person! So come on out! And be sure to come back for our next click-bait article, “Why Donald Trump Thinks All True Americans Play Neverborn!”