Friday, January 12, 2018

January 2018 Errata Initial Overreactions

Science joke!

I mean, what else could we be talking about this week than the errata? Let’s just get to the mini-musings and then we can talk about the new stuff.

 But first, did you know we're supported by Patreon? Yeah, dude, we totally are! Thanks to our patrons, I was able to actually buy the first Malifaux mini I've picked up in almost a year. Every person my Iggy Incites will be thanks to you guys! And the best part is, I just want $1 a month from you. So why don't you go join in?!?Punctuation!?!?


-There’s a new PDF available for Through the Breach. It’s a Penny Dreadful collecting the story from the previous year’s time travelling world event, A Stitch in Time. A terrible accident has happened, and your characters are tossed into Malifaux’s past, into the days of the first breach. You have to find a way to get back without significantly changing the future, battling an infamous necromancer from the city’s history and facing a terrible threat that still menaces the city today. It’s $15. Go get it.

-Wyrd’s also getting into the terrain business, starting with their Wyrdscapes line. There was a preview posted about a month ago. It looks like this.

-Aaron’s looking for a new moderator for the forums. PM him if you want to throw your name in. If you need me to give you a link to the thread...maybe you aren't right for the job.

-Results from the Iron Painter are in. The Bronze finalists joined with everyone who completed the painting to be entered into a raffle, resulting in the winners argailwall, Annanas, Zanna, Nathillien, Dlenok, beergod, Reservoir Dog, sycorax, Citames, and Senya1987. The silver tier winners were sleepwalker, Demonn Agram, icatsai, and glamage, while the runners up were TheArtofWargaming, Joe Cool, Hellogre, and neveroddoreven. And finally, in the duel for first place, Octavus came out ahead of Whirler. Congrats to them, and to everybody who made it through to the end!

Overreaction Theater!

               So, if you weren’t around for the silly story behind it, about a week ago an update pushed for the Bad Things Happen app that contained what we would later discover was the updated stats for the cards. It was an odd sort of glitch and feels like it wasn’t intended, as it also kinda broke the thing. About a day later, the errata document released (along with Gaining Grounds 2018. Keep an eye on next month’s Wyrd Chronicles for my thoughts on that.) And, of course, people went a little nuts. Not as nuts as one tends to expect from gamers when you mess with their toys, but there were certainly pockets of people losing their collective shit. It happens, not a big deal.

               So what changed? Actually, surprisingly little. Some folk were expecting quite a bit more (your humble Bloggist among them). Nicodem crews were essentially untouched, for instance, despite the collective wailing and tooth gnashing of seemingly the entire UK. Nothing was done about the seemingly unintended first-turn-unburying of a Viktoria by the Scion of the Void, though this could just be a matter of "wait and see." Most of the changes came in the form of soulstone adjustments, usually 1 stone up or down. That may not seem like much, and in a lot of cases it isn’t really that big of a deal, but in some others it is a huge difference. I've found it’s useful to think of it in terms of overall percentage of the soulstone cost that was changed. So, while a one stone increase on Yasunori might not make that huge of a difference, reducing the cost of a Hoarcat Pride by a stone brings it down by 20%. That’s a big deal. In some cases, these soulstone changes are exactly what the doctor ordered, as the problem with an otherwise good model was just the cost. In some other cases, changing soulstone cost can’t fix a model that flat out needs a redesign. The Ice Golem is probably the posterboy for this. It’s an awesome model. People want to play with the thing, but it has Defense of 2. No number of reduced soulstones will make up for that.

               So, let’s get the pain out of the way now: Gremlins players are probably a little bummed, as they got by far the largest number of “cuddles.” Specifically, McTavish, Burt Jebsen, and Francois Lacroix all went up by a point. In exchange, there were relatively few reductions to models that most would classify as “good,” though expect to see a few more Bayou Bushwackers and Whiskey Golems on the board. Taken individually, none of the increases are debilitating. If you liked Francois, there’s nothing to stop you from still playing him, and he’ll work just as well as he always did, killing things worth way more points than he costs. And I honestly doubt that many people are going to argue that those models didn't need to have their value increased by 1 (especially Franc, who was pretty much in EVERY gremlin crew.) The thing is, though, if you were bringing all of them (which was not uncommon) then now that’s an increase of 3. That’s starting to hurt. That's a whole Bayou Gremlin. Additionally, Bert and McTavish’s value as mercenaries is probably in the tank, and Nellie crews (which often took the two of them) take a small hit as well. That’s where these nerfs hit hardest, when you’re selecting several models whose cost was increased. Now, how much of an effect will this have overall? I suppose it depends how reliant on these models your crews were, and how unwilling you are to experiment with something else. It’s painful to get your stuff nerfed, there’s no doubt about it, but you’ll survive. Maybe take this opportunity to try something new, a master you’ve had in your bag for a while and not tried or maybe even dip a toe into another faction for a little break before you come back to your greenskins. Ulix, Mah Tucket, and the Brewmaster all got some nudges in the good direction recently, so maybe consider giving them a shot. The crews you’re playing now will still be waiting for you when you decide to come back and figure out how best to make them run.

               The only non-soulstone cost changes were for Misaki’s Thunder Upgrade and Seamus’ Sinister Reputation. The former reduced the range at which her blast markers could be placed down to 8” from 12 and removed the clause that made the damage irreducible (arguably the bigger of the two nerfs.) This isn’t exactly unexpected, as the main feedback from the UK Grant Tournament were horror stories of her blasting nearly entire crews on the first and second turns. I haven’t had the pleasure of facing it in person, but those I’ve spoken to have let me know that, while it isn’t an unbeatable combination by any stretch, getting caught on the wrong side of it when not prepared is kind of a negative play experience and bad for Malifaux . So, while I’m sad that the Mistress of the Thunders is getting knocked back down right after finally starting to pull herself up, I’m glad to see things change in a way that’s better for the game. The Gremlin changes kinda fall into the same category, tbh, as it should promote diversity away from the more standard builds to some new ideas and some increased variety. One might be surprised that more wasn’t done to do the same for Outcasts (who have a similar problem), but I’m not a game designer. Sinister Rep, on the other hand, actually got a buff, in that it now is able to be used as a 1” close combat attack in addition to a ranged attack. 1) I think that this is a good change, though it probably makes Bag O’ Tools completely unnecessary and 2) I don’t understand why this needed to be done right now. There are other things that one would have expected to be more pressing and require more immediate attention, and I don’t recall hearing a great clamor in the community to buff Seamus. But, then again, he is kind of the face of the faction, and in addition to Teddy was probably one of the two main draws to pull people into Malifaux in the first place. Maybe this was a marketing move? I don’t know. In any case, it exists, so use it. The boogy man of Malifaux just got a lot...boogier? Sigh. Ignore me. 

Other factions were more of a mixed bag. Most of the Resurrectionist cost reductions really just translate to “now it’s easier to summon them” rather than increasing the likelihood of their hiring, and the Nurse going up by 1 hurts Zoraida more than anybody else. Hayreddin dropping by a point is interesting, though, as I’ve always thought there was something pretty good with that model. The Outcasts got probably the most even split of buffs and nerfs, as Johan, the Trapper, and Ashes and Dust all went up by 1 (making A&D the first 14 point model in the game) but reductions to Bishop, Hans, the Scramble upgrade, and Desperate Mercs (3 pt Mercs!) help them out in unexpected ways. The Ten Thunders models that went up in cost people will probably keep using anyways (Terracotta Warrior and Yasunori.) Yamaziko at 6SS is a bargain, so expect to see a lot of ninja granny in the future, particularly as she can carry the upgrade for the automatic 3 point score on public demonstration. The Dawn Serpent coming down by one is a welcome sight for McCabe players as well as Marcus. I don’t know if Ototo coming down by 1 is enough to warrant fielding him, but I hope so, as I like Ototo in general. The Guild are probably the biggest “Meh” of these changes, though given the fact that they got a lot of love in Book 5, maybe they didn’t need a lot of help. Guild Guards are now in the 3ss club. Lead Lined coat being a point cheaper means you’ll maybe have to stop and think if you want it versus a third Debt to the Guild. The Judge has always been overcosted, but moving him down one just puts him the same pile of 8ss hench’s that Guild’s always had, and he’s still not as good as Franc or Phiona. The rest is pretty forgettable.

Get your paws ONTO this damn dirty ape. No? I'll see myself out...

               Now let’s talk about fun stuff. A lot of interesting models had their costs reduced as well. Probably the biggest of these was the Arcanists’ favorite ape, Cojo, who got a whopping -2 reduction. Cojo’s abilities were always good, but at his old price tag he was just too expensive to be worth the buy. Not so, now. Expect to see lots of him throwing your scheme markers and models around soon. Additionally, the Hooded, Pale, and Dead Riders all saw their costs reduced by 2 as well. I don’t know enough about the other two to comment for certain on the viability of this, but I love the Hooded and often preferred him over Nekima when they were only two points different. I’ll take him at 10 all day every day. More generally, the Riders are some of the coolest models in the game, so anything that gets more of them on the table I support. My current faction, the Neverborn, probably saw the biggest spread of reductions to decent models in general, with Baby Kade, Bad Juju, the Beckoner, Lelu, and Bunraku all going down a point. The Arcanists are the other faction that could potentially make an argument for “most improved,” as the handful of good models that saw buffs from this saw significant improvements, including the aforementioned Cojo, the now spammable Hoarcat Prides, and The Captain+Patron’s Blessing getting a cumulative -2 cost as well. This helps offset the pain of Johan going up, and lets people use what most people thought was a very good but too expensive model. 

               What difference will all of this make overall? Tough to say, though I would put money on “not as much as you might think.” In the end, most of these changes were still just a stone. There were a reason a lot of these models weren’t being hired, and after an initial burst of experimentation, don’t be surprised if a lot of people just go back to using what they had before. Some, however, will definitely stick, and just the fact that it brings things closer to the middle and promotes diversity is likely better for the game overall. I can appreciate the philosophy behind sticking to soulstone cost modifications rather than rewriting rules in general, and the logic behind leaving book 4 and 5 alone for now is sound, but I do feel there were things that could (and maybe should) have been addressed that weren’t handled here. Maybe we’ll see some more tweaks over the summer. The next round of major tournaments (keep an eye on Winter Murderland in DC and the UK Masters) will tell us more.

               I’m sure you have a number of opinions that differ from mine. Feel free to comment and share them, and as always, thank you for reading!