Monday, 5 January 2015

Monday Malifaux Musings: Strategy Fun Rankings

I thought I would try something different this post. Because I am the kind of person who likes to keep things organized (...sure why not) I've decided that I will organize all my crazy ramblings under the heading Monday Malifaux Musings. I was originally going to go with Madness' Monday Morning Malifaux Musings but I thought someone might charge me with excessive alliteration. 

Rather than focus on anything tactical I want to talk about FUN! Specifically about which Strategies I find lead to the most fun and least fun games. This was written before the new strategies came out for Gaming Ground 2015, but I will definitely do a part 2 next year including those strategies once I have played them all a few times. Thought I might as well combine this with my love/obsession with ranking things so therefore:

1)      Squatters Rights
Man I love Squatters Rights. It’s like all the good parts of the other strategies put into one. You have the fight in the centre from turf war (over the 3 middle markers), the need to have models that can function on their own like Reconnoitre (the outside markers), the need to take lots of interact actions (Stake a Claim), and the need to kill your opponent to stop them from doing all of these things (Reckoning I guess…). I also love Squatters Rights because I think it is the strategy that has the most tactical options open for it. You can try to win through speed by getting to the markers before your opponent can (especially the outside ones) through speedy models, From the Shadows allowing you to start deployed on the markers, or from utilizing pushes. You can win through manipulation (Doppelganger Don’t Mind Me, Chatty denying interacts, Obeying models off of markers so you can flip them, Lucius allowing all minions within 6” interact while in combat to name a few). You can win through killing power by just wiping your opponent off the markers. Every Master has a tactical way they can take on this strategy. I do believe it is the most balanced scheme by Master due to this reason and it is the most fun for this reason. There are so many ways you can go about the strategy (and denying your opponent his markers) that it leads to a great tactical chess match between opponents that I just love to see.

2)      Turf War
Turf war is a ton of fun. Just throwing all your models into a pot in the centre and seeing what comes out has led to some of my most memorable moments in Malifaux. It is also a very difficult strategy to stop your opponent from scoring so I find it generally leads to close games that can come down to the choice of schemes. I also enjoy Turf War because it is generally when you see the craziest combos in Malifaux. Since to score you need to be in a 6” bubble of the centre it often means that the vast majority of models (excluding scheme runners in some scheme pools) are in area overlaid with auras, abilities, and other crazy things that combine into all sorts of craziness. It is also the easiest time to pull off crazy combos like the Widow Weaver, Coppelius, Alp combo of trying to give everyone in the bubble slow and 3-4 damage. All sorts of things that are usually too difficult to pull off (due to having to spread your models out) can happen. It places second after Squatters since I find it is not tactically as interesting. There aren’t as many varied crews/ways to achieve the strategy as there are in Squatters. Generally you are either fielding a few tough hard to remove models or lots of summonable models that swamp the centre. Speed also isn’t as important in turf war and I find that speed is something I love too much to put Turf War at number 1.

3)      Reconnoitre
When I started playing Malifaux this would have been lower on this list as I was playing lower SS games and this strategy in particular I find does not scale down well. Playing at 50ss though I am starting to like this mission more (although still not enough to crack the top 2). Although Reconneiter can be a bit too much of an avoidance strategy sometimes, the fact that you can both score it at the same time means to come ahead you have to be able to take one of your opponent’s quarters. It also spreads out the game which can sometimes force people to move away from specific styles (specifically creating a bubble of death around their master) that make for interesting tactical decisions. Do you reduce synergy to get better board coverage, or rely on the synergistic group to move fast enough and do enough damage that you can still keep most of your models together? I have played two different types of crews in this strategy and both worked very well. The first is a summoning crew. This should be obvious why it is good as the more models you have, the easier it will be to score your quarters and deny your opponents. The other crew, which I thought was going to be problematic, was the Viktorias. It turns out that a super-killy crew that can spread out individually (Other than keeping the 2 viks together) can do a great job of killing anything that threatens your quarters. Watching Taelor, Bishop, and the Viks run around killing Ramos’ spiders quickly enough to overcome him in Reconneiter is a blast. This strategy isn’t higher because it can lead to some un-fun games when you are faced with a summoner who you can’t overcome or a gunline that keeps you pinned down. That being said, I generally find reconnoitre a fun, tactical game that can come down to who can become the aggressor without overextending themselves.

4)      Stake a Claim
Part of me wanted to rank stake a claim higher than Reconnoitre because I always enjoy playing it, but I decided it wasn’t really fair. Winning is fun, and I don’t think I’ve yet lost on Stake a Claim since Dreamer is very good at it, as is Neverborn in general. I also love games that allow me to utilize all my movement shenanigans. That being said, it is one the least interactive strategies and the easiest to break the game with. It is quite feasible to win Stake a Claim without even attacking your opponent models (depending on the scheme selection). I once played a game against Perdita with Plant Evidence and Breakthrough where I just ran 2 Insidious, Coppelius with On Dreaming Wings, and Dreamer himself across the board and hid behind terrain jumping all over the board placing markers. Needless to say my opponent did not have a very enjoyable game. The sheer dominance that certain factions/masters have in this strategy is much more obvious than in other strategies, further unbalancing it game-wise. Therefore even though I generally have fun playing it, it is 4th due to the negative play experience it can create for others. And let’s be honest, no one wants their opponent to have a crappy time.

5)      Reckoning
The easiest part of these rankings for me was what to put on the bottom. I hate Reckoning. Not just because I am not particularly good at it with Dreamer, although that is a factor as I do find it a very frustrating mission with him, but also because I don’t like the play experience it entails. The thing with Reckoning is it just isn’t the mission it’s intended to be. It’s supposed to be the killing strategy, however, due to the fact that crews are chosen after Strategy and Scheme selection it ends up being more about denial. I have to admit I don’t play denial factions/armies in any game I play which probably affects my view on the topic. I just don’t like the idea of a strategy where the goal is more to stop your opponent from getting points of you than it is to get points of your opponent. Since everyone will just take a small selection of very tough models and try to score 1 more strategy point than their opponents I find Reckoning games, while very tactical, to be very boring. If crews were picked before strategies were selected this wouldn’t be a problem as you would have to have a more balanced crew, but in Malifaux this is not the case. The only mitigating factor for Reckoning in my mind is when it is paired with Make Them Suffer. This completely changes the game as it forces the opponent to try and hide 3 points by selection a cheap minion and hiding them or it forces them to have a larger crew size. Either way I find it opens up the game a bit. I can understand if other people like the super-elite avoidance game that is Reckoning, but the non-killing strategies of Malifaux are much more attractive for me. 

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