Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Malifaux 2nd Edition Part II

Following on from my last post where I wittered about the book and cards, I'm going to talk a bit in this one about my experiences playing the game since the rulebook came out.  I played in both the closed and open betas as well but since they're not the released rules I'm not counting those.  This is a clean slate.

I've had a couple of games using Pandora as my master and I plan on using her for the first dozen or so games, and at least until the run up to my next tournament in October (Halifaux).

Pandora is good.  Really good.  She's pretty tough to put down being an effective Df7 (she defends on Wp) and slippery as she'll just push away from you if you miss.  In my first two games, she's only taken 2 Wds in total and those were from Black Blood from my own models.

Her offensive power is directly proportional to whatever she is fighting as her melee Attack spell Self Loathing does damage with the target's own weapon which is good and bad.  It'd take her less AP to kill something big and beefy like Teddy than it would to take something less powerful like a Rotten Belle.  She has a ranged version of Self Loathing called Self Harm (new in M2E) which is pretty much the same but only Ca6 and makes them shoot themselves (nice against Seamus).  Movement-wise, she's only Wk4 but getting a 4" push when she wins an opposed Wp duel means she is deceptively fast.

Is Pandora any more fun to play against in M2E?  One of the complaints you heard all the time about Pandora in M1E was that she was a negative play experience.  I played with her in M1E and there were times where it felt like that even being on Pandora's side of the table.  The good news is she's been toned down in M2E.  In my opinion, she's lost two of the major things that made her a pain:

-Auto blast marker on Project Emotions.  I could bump that up with a soulstone and drop - flips for Wp on every model under that blast.  Project Emotions is now an upgrade, the blast requires a trigger and the models under the blast only have to get to TN14 Wp duel.  Not as bad.
-Mental Anguish is now not as bad.  Mental Anguish in M1E was one of the most powerful triggers in the game.  On a crow any of Pandora's spells would cause the target to count as having failed a Morale Duel (and so things which normally ignored Morale Duels like Constructs could still be affected).  They'd then run away and waste at least one activation rallying and then another getting back in the fight.  Combine that with the ability to soulstone up to massive totals (I'd drop a high crow and then a soulstone if I really wanted it to go off), and drop a blast from Project Emotions this was absolutely horrible.  In M2E, the ability to soulstone unbeatable totals has largely gone, the trigger "only" gives Paralyzed and does no damage, is a Limited upgrade and is only on Self Loathing and Self Harm.  Better, but still good.

I don't want to go into too much detail on Pandora as I've not had enough experience to speak with any great authority (for that go and listen to Joel on Malifools Episode 58, there is a man that can play Malifaux).  I can say I like playing her and I like what I've used with her crew so far.  Kade and Teddy especially make for a really nasty tag team combo.  What I did want to talk about was a few general areas where I feel things are very different between the two editions.

Model complexity and upgrade
A major complaint about M2E was that is had dumbed down all the models.  Having played the game I don't think this is the case.  Some models are more straightforward on the card, but the upgrade system really adds to that complexity.  Having had a couple of games, I've still had those agonizing tactical choices to make when deciding which of my 5 or 6 abilities and spells to use on my master (Pandora with 3 upgrades) but with less of the brain burn with some M1E masters.  Having played Hamelin a fair bit I can say there was brain burn involved with that.  In short, in still feels like Malifaux.

The cards are the thing
The changes to the soulstone mechanic have had made a big difference.  In M1E, a master with soulstones was largely untouchable unless by another soulstone users.  Killing a master with a non-soulstone user required some degree of luck either good or bad on either side, or running them out of soulstones first.  In M2E this is not the case.  A strong hand of cards is, in my opinion, more important than a large cache of soulstones.

In M2E, soulstones can be used for:
-Re-flipping initiative (same as M1E)
-Damage prevention flips for SS users (same as M1E)
-Adding a + flip to an attack (new in M2E)
-Adding a +flip to defensive and a - flip to any damage result (new in M2E)
-Adding a suit to an attack (new in M2E)
-Drawing 2 additional cards in the draw phase (new in M2E)

In my games with Pandora, that last one is the one that has been absolutely crucial to me.  She only has one trigger that I'd want to guarantee going off:  the aforementioned Mental Anguish which is one of her upgrades and needs a crow.  I've been using her other limited upgrade so I've not required this one yet.  Drawing 2 extra cards has been vital for me though.  The Primordial Magic giving me an extra card, then adding 2 more means I'm drawing up to 9 cards before discarding down to the best 6.  This enables me to craft a strong hand for that turn when I know I'm going to need to do something epic.  For example, Teddy faces off with Tara.  My hand was 2 x 13, 2 x 11 and 2 x 10 with Teddy at Ml7 that combination of cards was really horrible.  Tara did die in Teddy's activation but in fact it was Kade that killed her after Teddy pushed her 12" into him and he pounced on her.

Anyway, drawing 2 more card has been gold for me.  In my opinion this is better than using the stones for the positive on attacks as you're getting 2 cards for 1 stone that anyone in your crew can use rather than 1 extra card.  Time will tell if this proves to be the case with other crews.

Strategies and Schemes
M1E had 13 strategies, M2E has 5.  M2E has a 4 point VP cap for strategies from a possible 10 meaning 60% of your points are from schemes.  The strategies also all (with the possible exception of Reckoning) seem relatively easy to get points from.  Schemes are king and the pool system means you can't be guaranteed to be able to match up certain schemes with certain strats.  For example, in M1E's Beatdown strategy generally speaking you took schemes which required you to kill stuff such as Kill Protege, Grudge or Assassinate which you were doing anyway for the strategy.  In tournament play, I'd save those type of schemes to go with Beatdown.  In M2E, the scheme pool system means you can't do that.  You might be playing a kill type strat like Reckoning, but all your scheme choice require models to drop scheme markers or get to locations on the board.  It makes for a major change in the way crews are built and played.  Being able to handle the schemes seems to be the way to win games, with the strategies coming a second place to that.

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