Well after too long an absence, I've finally had a game of Malifaux. I thought I might jot down some reflections on how it felt after a 6 month break. Luckily my good friend Francois stepped in to give me a game. He ran:
The Shadow Emissary
The Lone Swordsman
Wandering River Monk
A TT Brother.
The strategy was extraction.
The first thing that struck me was how rusty I was at crew selection. I went with Pandora as my go to Master. She is just so good and super fun to play. Plus people get nervous when you activate her because he actually has an impact on the game. Just the threat of know she can activate is worrying for an opponent.
Pandora (The Box Opens, Wings of Darkness, and Fears Given Form). I like my girl to be up and hurting people.
When Francois deployed, I was terrified of his crew. I know Shenlong very well and I simply couldn't see how I could actually engage his crew. I expected lots of hit and runs from fast, focused hitters being pushed into combats of their choosing whilst Pandora and co lumbered around.
I had forgotten how many tokens Malifaux actually needs. I really want to make a full set of blank tokens that I can write in in white board marker and wipe clean. I've done a few for Shenlong and they work really well.
Anyway, I tried hiding some of my crew like Doppleganger and Nekima but the Lone Swordsman moved towards them and so I had to run Nekima into a corner on T2 to stop her getting killed by him. He took out Doppleganger instead. Pandora, Waldgeist and Weaver reached the middle on T2. The terror tot raced up the other side but got stuck in some forest. A tight, and powered up, ball of doom in the shape of Shenlong, Sensai Yu and the Emmissary headed up the middle ready to kill off Pandora and Widow Weaver. At this point on T3 I was fairly sure that I would be lucky to score more than 1 VP.
I accepted that Pandora and Widow Weaver (who was basically just dropping web markers around the Extraction marker) would get killed off this turn so I thought I might as well throw Nekima at the Lone Swordsman to try to get a few wounds on him, and maybe slow him down enough to let the Waldgeist put down a marker.
With not much else to do I decided to get Pandora to do some Inflicts and then attack the Emissary. To my surprise she wounded him badly. Widow Weaver then did a mass more damage to him, leaving him dead. This was shocking to me as in my last game against the Emissary it and McCabe removed Pandora in a single set of activations. Nekima killed the Lone Swordsman too, which I genuinely wasn't expecting.
I was still losing VP and not scoring but on T4 Pandora reduced Shenlong to his last two wounds, and killed the last peasant, then Nekima flew in to kill Shenlong and the TT Brother. Much to my surprise Pandora was alive and unwounded. She made it to Sensai Yu and killed him on T5. That left me my whole crew except Doppleganger and the Primordial Magic and Francois had the Wandering River Monk left. We worked out that with another turn I could have reduced his VP and boosted mine enough to get a draw but as it was the game ended 9-4 to him.
I was really surprised at not being table on T2 or early 3. I was really expecting the Emissary to kill Pandora/Widow Weaver and Shenlong to go off and score the max VP on markers whilst the Lone Swordsman killed Doppleganger & Nekima. I got really lucky with Nekima. I was tempted to hide her in a corner more till late game but I took a risk in moving her out of my deployment zone. I might have to stop using Doppleganger as I'm really bad at using her - I'm just not a good enough player.
I really, really enjoyed playing again. I always have a good time against Francois and he is a amazing player.
What struck me coming back to Malifaux is how important regular play actually is to be able to keep up in the game. It is more like tennis or running where short lay offs result in massive skills deterioration. That means that good players who play regularly will always convincingly thrash weak or casual players. I'm starting to wonder if the complexity and how punishing the game is against lower skilled/experienced players is going to become a barrier to new players. I don't think so at the moment. Wyrd currently do a great job balancing the crews and the game. Entry remains easy and cost effective but it is something perhaps to keep an eye as play testing and balance seem overweighted towards the views of the top level players (especially the US ones).