So it has been a few weeks now since the release of the Beta files from Wyrd Games (available on their Forum if you want to check them out) and having played a few games myself, talking to people who have played some games at the club and also looking at the general reaction to the M2E files it so far looks to be a big step in the right direction for the game of Malifaux.
I will be writing 2 articles on the Beta, the first (which is this one, in case you were wondering) is to basically lay down the groundwork for the second article which will be focused on the changes themselves to the game and my opinions. This one i’ll keep brief, because if you already play Malifaux you know the problems and if you don’t play Malifaux then you don’t want to spend hours reading something that is out of date and will officially be out of date in a few months time. First off i’ll give a brief description of the Beta test and what will be happening over the next few months.
Beta Description and Schedule
I’m sure most of you are aware of what a Beta test is. In a nutshell it’s getting people to test the system, which at this point is almost finalised, for those little tweaks that need doing to polish the finished product. This one is no different. However, there is a lot of stuff to get through at the moment. The plan for the Beta is from the end of May up until sometime in July the public is invited to test the Core Rules and roughly half of the models currently available in Malifaux. This is primarily the Masters from Book 1 of v1.5 of Malifaux plus a few extras in the new factions (Ten Thunders from Book 4, and Gremlins who are now their own faction). The plan is to get this selection complete ready for print and release at GenCon this year, with a later release in stores around the end of September/October. This is the first stage of the Beta and the files are available to freely download off their forum and you can discuss them on their too. They are currently being updated once a week.
Once Stage 1 is complete, the rest of the Malifaux line is on the block ready to be tested. This will be everything that wasn’t in Stage 1 basically, so the remainder of the Masters/Current Henchmen (who are now Masters), Avatars and any new shiny stuff they are putting in the books. This Beta will go on until the end of the year, and it will be released in a book sometime around January along with Faction Card decks (similar to the way PP did Mk2 decks for their factions when Mk2 of Warmachine and Hordes was released).
So from now until mid-July we have Stage 1 Beta testing with the release of the M2E rulebook at GenCon in August. Stage 2 testing will be from August/September to December with the release of the Faction Decks in January. Now whether there will be 2 rulebooks, i don’t know. I hope it will just be the one in August that will be released but there is a possibility of 2 books (August/January) which include rules and also model stat/background as they have traditionally done up till now.
Why do we need a Beta or a V2?
If you have played Malifaux v1.5 or attempted to, then you will have experienced its flaws. It was not a perfect game, but it has a great character and brilliantly creepy and weird backstory (not to mention pretty cool models). There were/are several problems with v1.5 and they needed to be addressed if the game wanted to move on.
1. Power Creep. It was obvious that the power of models increased the later on in Malifaux’s development you go. This needs addressing because several older models never see gameplay because they are simply not good enough and certain models were seen all the time because they were too good in every situation. With a system reboot, it is the perfect time to address these imbalances and make the game much better.
2. Wall of Text. Anyone who picked up a stat card in v1.5 saw the wall of text that it offered, and some models (Mei Feng and the Lifer rule) had so much text that some of their rules weren’t even printed on the card. It was very intimidating for new players because you just aren’t able to learn the mechanics and each models rules in a demo game and to even demo the game was a bit of an issue because of all the rules you have to talk about.
3. Clarity of Rules. There were several rules which had different names but the same effect, and there was a different between an attack flip and an Attack flip. It was all getting a bit out of hand, and it really needed changing for simplicities sake.
4. Strategies and Schemes. These are at the core of the Malifaux gameplay but they weren’t even close to being balanced. Arcanists have 2 very easy Faction Schemes, and so do Neverborn which can net you half of your VPs every game if you wanted. There was also nothing stopping you from taking the same Schemes every game so you would more often than not see Colette players choose Bodyguard and Sabotage every game for example because they were so easy to achieve.
So far it seems the Beta has addressed these issues, and i’ll go into more depth about what they have done in the next article and hopefully the changes to the system will encourage more people to give it a go.