Thursday, 12 July 2012

Double-barrel buckshot

Evening all!

I'm writing this from the wonderful comfort of my bath, which after the day I've had and the awful cough/cold I've developed is just what I needed.

Before I get moving I'd like to point out that I am currently about 1/2 through the latest Gamer's Lounge pod cast, and there were a few things which stirred some thoughts and feelings, some of them agreement and happiness, but others disagreement and near anger.

I won't touch onto the details of that, but I would like to thank Nix for the podcast. The fact that it evoked emotion kept me listening during my commute, which if it had not I would have tuned out a long time earlier.

No the point I want to tackle is the comments about Comp being possibly unnecessary, and how everyone is naturally of a different skill level.

This got me thinking, and I had to come to the conclusion that on paper, I am a loser.

- Yes, yes, get the laughing out of your system -

My main opponent and I have been playing Malifaux for the same amount of time, in fact he found out about the game the day after me, after I sent him a txt asking him to check it out online.

Now this player is a very skilled player, more skilled than anyone else I think I've played and most certainly more skilled than me.

I'm not putting myself down here, I'm just being honest. Where as he plans and strategises almost every action, I tend to GorkaMorka it and just wing it.

But I enjoy doing that! I enjoy thinking my own plans out loud, and also his plans. When collectively we came up with the Levi Slingshot, that was a game of epic proportions! Both of us had felt that we had uncovered a tactic that was probably not new, but we had never seen it before.

You see, when it comes to competitive play, my role is to lose. Sure I put up a fight and there are occasions when it looks like I could walk off with the big W, but I virtually always lose.

I think this is the reason all the recent discussion around metas and comps and possible redesigning of rules has annoyed me.

I'm not a competitive person in that respects, in the wild I'd be the Beta-Beta Gorilla who's best chums with the alpha female, but on the sly is waiting for the opportunity to "Colossus Smash" and take over the group.

And so I read about these proposed changes, and I think to myself "ok Dr Lox, these Comps are fine, if I don't like them then i don't need to play in those tournaments. I can focus instead on 'casual' games". And I have no problem with that.

But the idea of changing the official rules themselves? To change how core principles work in a game that I love more than any of the other Table Top games before (except for maybe GorkaMorka). That is where I have to draw the line.

This is not aimed at any one person in particular, but instead at the concept of retconning the rules.

If these changes were made official, yes the hardcore experience would be improved, but what effect would it have on my experience? As a casual gamer I feel that it would have a negative impact.

I know what your thinking, 'what does a loser know?' and what i know is that I have experience of my own and thoughts of my own.

If we are saying that every gaming group is an exclusive meta, then my experience is completely different to all the other metas, and therefore can not be fully compared and must be taken with equal merit, as at their cores they are just the thoughts of 1 or a few people who play together.

And so I leave this thought bubble (and with it my still lovely and warm bath) with a request.

Don't just think of the casuals and the hardcores, think of the losers, the runners up and the spoon holders.

Enjoy your win as much as you like, however you like, but please, let us enjoy our losing as well, and currently, I think us losers like the game just as it is.

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley


  1. Nice.

    I'm coming to Malifaux from a Warhammer background and as discussed the rules as written are not balanced and do not really fairly reflect player skill. At least that used to be the case, there is a pretty valid argument that is no longer the case. So I'm familiar with the purpose of comp and the requirement for it in that game.

    When I look at malifaux I see something a bit different. I see a bewilderingly complex mix of interactions. I see some incredibly simple ones and some very complex. Now at the depths of those complexities there may be a few unintended consequences which the game makers themselves have done a fairly good job of removing the worst offenders from the game. Outside of that I hear about a few masters who are generally just too good all round - Kirai and Haemlin spring to mind but sure others could suggest more (post errata I've no idea about dreamer). Now I've never faced either of them played by an experienced player (never faced haemlin fullstop) but I'd rather see what they do on the table first as the game designers planned than adopt a set of restrictions.

    But when it comes to a tournament, then I'm perfectly happy for the organiser to do that, for a start they've often picked scenarios for the event, so they're already restricting how the games will play and what works best. So to then go beyond that and restrict certain models is the next logical step if they are looking to even the field. But whether that works or not is another question, often removing one thing just makes something else take it's place as 'unbeatable'.

    Overall I don't care about comp/restrictions/rules as long as the games are fun and (to use Bill's favourite) don't result in a negative play experience then I'll be happy to play whatever anyone puts on the table.

  2. Dave,

    For some reason I have received your comment through my email but I can't see it here.

    Nice reply by the way :)

    As I said above, I have no problem with comp. the TOs tend to announce it in advance so if you don't like it, you just don't go to that event.

    For me the problem is the assumption that a). 1 person is right and Wyrd are wrong and b). That said 1 person knows the game better than anyone else because of arbratary reasons.

    I'm REALLY trying here to be fair and balanced and not go about naming and shaming, but we all know the person/people I'm talking about.

    This issue here is that Malufaux has so many variants, with terrain placement, strategies, schemes, crew selection on both sides and crew actions mid game.

    It is impossible to truly assess every model as was wanted because the different combinations result in the millions.

    Take the infamous 'spreadsheet' for example. There were numerous nerfs being suggested to Gremlins, all of this because one, maybe two people in the whole world were doing VERY well with Gremmies.


    1. I own some Gremlins, and I enjoy playing with them, they are fun!

      I suck at playing them, but they're fun.

      Imagine these nerfs came into play as official Wyrd rules and I wanted to play a friendly game of Gremlins vs ?

      Using these new rules, a crew which is already pretty pants in my hands would become even worse, just because a few people in the world was able to make them work very well and those who were beaten by them felt butt-hurt.

      But why should my enjoyment of the game be made worse because of these select few minorities?

      If anything, if someone can take a master such as Som'er and make him kick ass, that player should not be punished, but instead celebrated!

      I think this is where my issue lies. I feel like I am playing the game the way it was intended to be played, and I am very much enjoying that, and I see people trying to change the game into something it is not and it scares me.

      I've seen it in many MMOs, especially when PvE games shoe horn in PvP content, the game is never the same and it's only a matter of time before I have to move on, because where's the point in playing a game that you don't enjoy?

  3. I suspect my vanishing comment is due to using IE v0.1 or whatever backwards out of sate system my work uses! Writing this on my phone for home of it actually showing up!

    I entirely agree that comp often gets thrown at games as a solution to non existent problems for the majority of players. I know the person you're talking about from his wfb days and can reliably say he's good at breaking games and often using combos other people haven't tried. So in that basis I think the fear is that he'll do too good a job of restricting things that most others wouldn't limit. It's realistically a possibility but I think the community will push back if it goes too far.

    Fingers crossed anyway!

    From my backwater of a very small malifaux community it's not something we'd ever consider using.