I am probably going to quickly bore most people with my incessant nattering about Malifaux but I have to say that it has been quite some time since I was this excited about a game.
I did a quick demo of the game for a few people at Great White last night and have also been spending a bit more time reading through the rules and contemplating the game in general. So here are a few other things that I really like about the system and that have me excited to play it again.
Terrain and model interaction
While reading through some of the model descriptions it is apparent that some of them, like the Waldgeist, are very dependent on having tree/wood area terrain on the table. And while these models are great when you have trees around they really are less useful without them. And so I wondered, what is to stop your opponent from not placing trees on a table to stop you from gaining the benefit of them?
The answer is twofold. First, you flip for terrain and the rules have a series of area types, with suggested terrain, that you use to dress your table. Secondly, you don’t actually build your force until you find out the deployment, terrain and Strategies. So if you don’t have trees, then you don’t bring the Waldgeists and its never an issue.
The Strategies and Schemes that you choose when determining the game you are playing really do mean that each game is different but also allow you to try to pick options to reward you for foiling your opponent without additional rules. You can pick schemes that give you Victory Points for completing a task, such as protecting your Master, that are in opposition to your opponents Strategy. You can pick schemes that are faction and Master specific and you can even try to pick a force to specifically address the requirements of a Strategy.
This ability to tweak the game conditions and then build your force mean that you are less at risk for having an army that can’t deal with a scenario than in other games.
Alternating activations and card decks
I love alternating activations in a game. Every time I play a game without it I wonder why I bother. Malifaux really benefits from an AA system and the buffs and combos in the game mean that you have to be careful about how you activate your forces and that your opponent’s moves can really add to the tension of a game since you have to react to their actions while still trying to maintain your own activation queue to pull off your own plans.
The card deck is really a wonderful monkey wrench in this that makes your control hand, and the cards in it, even more important. Malifaux basically uses a D13 (1 through ten and then three cards for the face cards in a deck) for its effect resolution and this gives you a pretty wide range of possible outcomes. Many of them very, very bad. Your risk management in the game, or luck management as I like to call it, is dependent on the values and suits of the cards in your hand and your opponent can really mess with this as well based on what and when they activate during their phase. A lucky round of shooting or melee might force you to play cards you were reserving for a later action meaning that you either have to change plans or try to hope that you draw the correct card from the deck.