Sunday, January 27, 2019

M3E: Now it can be told...

On today’s blog offering, a discussion of crews that excite me in M3E (and why it took so bloody long for me to post about them). But first, some…


-Going to Adepticon? Malifaux Musings is too! I have no illusions about being competitive in…anything, so if you want to hit me or Phiasco up for a game in person outside the tournaments, we would be delighted to oblige. We’ve got Malifaux crews. We’ve got The Other Side companies. So, come throw down with us!

-In Through the Breach news, our Roll20 character sheet (pictured above) is in beta testing! We don’t have it uploaded into Roll20’s system yet, so you have to install it through the custom script. The good news is, we want playtesters to try it out, and we’re happy to provide the code to you if you let us know you’re interested (and pinky swear to give us feedback.)

- Also, we’ve started recording an actual play podcast! I mentioned previously that I was running my crew through a Malifaux adaptation of Wizards of the Coast’s module Dragon Heist, and last month I started recording them. Learning how to edit has been a process, and we want to get lots of them banked up before we start releasing to the public, but I’m excited for this new way of generating content for Malifaux Musings.


            A couple of weeks ago, the NDA was lifted from M3E content, and an open beta began on Wyrd’s website. A rush of content has begun as the previously dormant podcasts and youtube channels have found new life (and you should go listen to all of them, including Flippin’ Wyrds, Max Value, Schemes and Stones, etc.). When this era started, I felt a call to start writing about the new edition as well. Malifaux Musings had lain fallow for almost a month at that point, as my readership numbers had let me know loud and clear that very few people seem interested in Through the Breach or The Other Side content, or at least nowhere near as many as would follow Malifaux news. This wasn’t a huge surprise, but it was hard to get motivated to crank out a batrep to essentially broadcast it to no one. But now that should be changing. M3E was out there, and we could start breaking down new masters, new schemes, and new rulesets to try and inject life back into my favorite game.

            And for some reason, I just didn’t feel like writing.

            It’s not like I had no ideas. Discussing how the new masters play on the tabletop. Looking for the best way to tackle the new strategies. Hell, just a celebratory “M3E is here! Let’s all start dancing in the streets” post would have been appropriate, but for whatever reason I just couldn’t find the spark to sit down and write it. Maybe part of this stemmed from the fact that M3E wasn’t new to me. I was drafted into the alpha effort, which was where most of my contributions during playtesting went on. I stuck with reading the updates and occasionally getting a game in during later phases, but the playtest group I tried to assemble never really got off the ground, due in large part to the fact that we all live hours away from each other and have to play on Vassal, which takes roughly 1.5x as long as a real game. Plus, it’s a pain printing out the stat cards every week for a crew, etc etc there are a number of reasons. SO, long story short, I stayed in the beta and kept reading the changes, but my interest waned over time. M3E coming out is therefore less a matter of “Oooo look at all the new shinies” and more “huh, well, at least it’ll be new people playing it” for me.

            Then there were some changes at the end of the beta that really blew the wind out of my sails. The NDA is lifted so I could technically go into details, but I’m gonna chose not to, as it would just come off as griping. And then, of course, Mason left Wyrd, which frankly sucks. I was lucky enough to meet him at Gencon a couple of years ago and hang out. I’ve enjoyed collaborating with him during the Through the Breach playtesting group, and he’ll always have my respect for the excellent job he did heading up the rewrite of the RPG’s rules to fix some of the (very) bumpy parts of TTB1e. I’m sure Wyrd’s remaining design staff are excellent and the properties are in good hands, but I have a hard time believing that they’re not worse off for his departure.

            And weirdly, the game I didn’t think I would be that interested in (The Other Side) has actually grabbed a lot of my attention and gaming time recently. One undeniable fact about Malifaux is that, at the end of a game, I’m tired. It takes a lot of mental energy to keep all the possible combinations and moves in mind as the game goes on, and things can swing on one activation. My King’s Empire doesn’t feel that way. Maybe that’s because most of the models I have are some variation of “move into position and shoot the other guys” for their activation. But, somehow, the increased model count and the more abstract nature of the rules (the only elevations are “low” or “high” terrain, for one example) have resulted in a game that is smoother and easier to play. *shrug* Maybe that’s not true for the other Allegiances (I certainly know that Phiasco’s Abyssinia seems to have more things to keep track of than mine) and maybe it’ll change as I expand the models available from the Allegiance, but for now I’m enjoying the game quite a bit, which makes changing gears back to Malifaux even more complicated. Also, the games I’ve played so far have left me with the impression that it’s hard to get completely wiped out in a game of TOS, as the reinforce rules make keeping a fireteam knocked off the board pretty difficult. After almost an edition’s worth of playing the glass-cannon Neverborn, it’s nice not being afraid that one miss-step would end with half my crew getting knocked off the board.

So, yeah, that’s why I haven’t come blazing out of the gate with M3E content. Let me be clear: M3E is a good game that answers a lot of the problems that had accrued in Malifaux  2nd edition. I’m going to play it. Malifaux Musings will keep writing about it. But I’m gonna keep talking about the RPG and TOS as well. This is a continuation of what the blog has always been about, a celebration of all the parts of the Malifaux (and by extension Wyrd) world that I love. I hope readers will stick along with me.


So who/what do I like about M3E? Well, most of the testing I did focused on the Ten Thunders and Guild, so that’s what I’ll be most familiar with initially. Long-term readers will know I was leaning heavily towards Ten Thunders going into the edition, and that hasn’t changed. I really like the card manipulation that Lynch’s crew uses. Stack the Deck looks like it would mostly be useful as a card manipulation/cycling tactic, but it goes deeper than that. Get tired of failing simple duels to activate your free actions? Put the card you need on top of the deck and the problem is solved without having to reduce your handsize by cheating. Know you’re going to be doing a double walk or a walk-interact (IE you won’t need to perform a duel during your activation)? Hide a high card on there and know you’ll be in good shape for defense duels. There’s a lot of there there, if you take my meaning. The summoning is nice, but I didn’t get as much mileage out of it in my games as I had hoped (disclosure, I played Lynch in the alpha and early beta, so it could have changed.) One of his abilities also used to be called “Blackjack and Hookers.” I’m sad that is no longer the case.

McCabe is interesting. I like that the crew is more built around swapping the upgrades than previous versions. I’m hoping the Ruffians prove to be quality enough to be used in most games, as I like the models (and the bald guy with the chains is one of the few Malifaux people I can cosplay, these days.) Plus I kind of fell in love with McCabe at the end of M2E, so I’m definitely feeling the Wastrels going forward. For those worried about his Nightmare Edition boxed set no longer being viable (since he can’t hire mounted guards anymore, after his termination by the Guild), rest assured that you only have to be patient. This will be resolved shortly. Misaki is a lot more interesting and involved than previous versions, as you have the tension of being penalized for the longer you let her sit buried versus the advantage of not having your master in a predictable place. I’m not sure I “like” it as a crew I would want to play all the time, but it’s certainly more unique and tactical. I’ll go into more of a discussion of the Qi and Gong crew in the future, but the games I played with them I enjoyed. Their success or failure doesn’t wrap around their master, as their damage dealers and scheme runners are in the greater crew, but they can tie you up into some serious knots with all of the conditions they can stick you with. They leave the opponent in a position where they have to make hard choices which you can exploit. I worry about how that will work competitively, as one of my hard rules is “don’t rely on your opponent making choices, as they will always choose the one that is worst for you”, but I’m intrigued. If nothing else, their addition ensures the Ten Thunders’ have the most hookers per capita of any faction in Malifaux, which is amusing. 

Oh yeah, and the Shadow Emissary can crush some serious face, which I like for reasons entirely unrelated to being in love with the paint job I did on mine.

For the Guild, the new guys from the Frontier have definitely drawn my attention. They’re likely to be the subject of another blog post, but I’ve always been drawn to crews that can define the terrain of the battlefield, and these guys do a lot of that while also being ranged combat oriented. There’s a reason M2E McTavish was so popular in Lillith crews, after all. They expand the deployment zone, which seems broken as hell the first time you see it. That actually happens a lot in M3E, and The Flippin’ Wyrds pointed out that this is a feature, not a bug. When you get the models on the table you’ll realize most of it isn’t as bad as you think. I’m still a little worried about the combination of melee masters with it, though. Is Lady Justice being that close to the opponent on Turn 1 worth 16 points? I’m not sure, but I’ll keep testing it until I know for sure. Austringers that die release Malifaux Raptors, which is cool and reminds me of Roland’s coming of age in The Dark Tower, which is what drew me to Malifaux in the first place. Plus, Cornellius has a trigger where a sandworm pops out of the ground and attacks an enemy model. I don’t know this for sure, but I’m pretty positive Malifaux didn’t have sandworms prior to the Penny Dreadful one-shot I wrote for Wyrd Chronicles, so I’ve pretty much gotta play Basse. 

Somehow playing KE in The Other Side (and all of the Guild lore from the setting) has me wanting to play Dashel. I’ve never really played a summoner before, which is kind of mind boggling when I think how long I’ve been playing Malifaux, so I’ll have to give them a go at some point. I stocked up on the Lucius box set and some other things that go with Dash during the Easter sale. If nothing else, the Captain deserves some respect for going from a nobody in Malifaux to a master in his own right over the course of two editions. I guess it’s good to have the secretary-general on your side. The Ortegas feel like the Ortegas, so they’ll always be there as an “I don’t want to think anymore, I just want to shoot shit” crew. I do like that Francisco won’t be the Guild’s version of Wolverine anymore (IE: somehow he’s a guest star in every single crew, much like Logan was somehow an X-Man, Avenger, had two of his own comic book, and was guest starring in half of the other series). The out of keyword tax wouldn’t have been enough to get that done with M2E Franc, so they scaled him back a little to get the job done. Also Santiago isn’t hot garbage anymore, so putting him (or his sister Santana) on the board won’t be as embarrassing.

So yeah, like I said. I don’t hate M3E (despite how the first part sounded.) I quite like it. The rubber-band dynamic of the scoring is interesting, and I want to see how it plays out in tournaments. There are a lot of crews I want to get on the table (even if it’s just virtual.) In the future I’ll likely do individual crew break-downs, unless people have their own stuff they would rather see first. Let me know in the comments if you have a crew you want first, or if there is a different topic you’d like to see covered.