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Subject: Not for the casual gamer rss

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Bruno Pigeon
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For many many years, I've been looking to try a miniature game. I've begun an eldar army about 20 years ago to play 40k. Never got to play the game. I've bought many ruleset but have never played miniature games. Until Memoir 44 and Battlelore.

Last year, I was looking for a mini game with a bit more diversity than Battlelore. I've looked at Warhammer, Warmaster, Warmachine and Hordes, Hell Dorado, Anima Tactics, Lord of the rings, Infinity and a few other. Then I stumbled on Malifaux.

It seemed perfect. My grilfriend loved the minis and immediately wanted to try it. The price for getting started is great. The game play time is reasonable, 60-90 minutes I've read. The theme is not too serious. You can download the rules for free. Not many minis needed and I've read it was an easy to learn but difficult to master game. Fine for me. The game has a pick up and play appeal. Grab a crew starter box, a deck of cards and the rules and you are ready to play. It apeared to me to be a mini game for the casual gamer.

But it is not.

I Really love the theme and miniatures but the rules are really too complex.

It seems that Wyrd tried to do too much with their game. It feels like they tried to keep it simple but kept on adding more and more to the game and it is now rather confusing. It's as if the kept having great ideas and just kept on mashing all those together.

For exemple the basic card mechanic is simple. Flip a card, add to appropriate stats and the highest wins. But then they added the power to change the card... not too difficult, then you can add another card with a soulstone. Ok. Then you get special rules for the jokers. Mmmm still not too bad but beginning to get a lot of rules just for resolving what is normally a simple dice throw. Then you get more rules if you have a positive modifier, and different rules if your modifier is negative which change the effect of jokers and your power to change your card. Now that's getting a bit confusing. Then you finally add the suit of the card which allows you or not to do some different things with your special powers...

Add to those that it's different mechanics for casting a spell and for fighting. Then add about 10 different special rules for each of your miniatures, some of which are described on the character card, some are only described in the rulebook.

Then you have to figure out when the effects of your special power ends. Again is seems simple, you only have 3 phase in the game: Card drawing phase, activation phase and end phase. They could have kept it simple and said effects end during the end phase. But no! They divided each phases into several sub-phases. So you have the beginning of the end phase, the resolve effects phase and shuffle deck phase and the end of the end phase. Some effect end during the beginning of the end phase, some during the resolve effects phase, some during the end of the end... Getting confused?

I am!

Then you have the special rules for each character which are really badly written. They went the generic way. SO instead of writing on the character cards: With this power, Pandora can blablabla... the wrote THis model can.. affect that model and that model then and if this model then that model... which get really confusing. It they would have named the model instead of using ''this model'' it would have been much easier.

I think I will keep the minis and use them with the song of Blades and Heroes system instead.

UPDATE: Finally tried my Song of Blade and Heroes version. It was boring, bland and I felt really limited. I will instead try to learn Malifaux step by step, as suggested.
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/8505346

UPDATE: Tried to teach the game on friday night to a few friends. I've tried to keep things simple, introducing rules only when they asked about it or when it was needed. They gave up after 3 hours. It was Pandora vs Seamus.

Here are their comments:

- Card mechanic is more fun than dice because you can cheat
- Game is too long
- Malifaux has great potential but too many unique powers, which are mostly underwhelming.
- Using power is uncertain. When you cast a spell, you have to make a duel to cast it, and then another duel to see if the spell was resisted. It greatly reduce the appeal of casting a spell when the success is so uncertain. Especially when the effect of the spell is a bit underwhelming.
- Difficult to understand the role of each character in the crew. Are they close combat fighters, support, casters?
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Jenny Nguyen
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After Warmachine mkII (streamlined ability names), I found Malifaux's use of way too many unique ability names really irritating. Each figure has so many abilities (some of which are worded poorly) that I found myself with the cards basically pasted in front of my face for entire games.

I also found the army generation bizarre. It's like, say you pick Outkasts, then you pick Somer as your leader, it would immediately narrow down your troop selection to a couple of obvious choices. I don't know how to describe it...it's like all the factions are made up of hodge podge themes mashed together such that the rules prevent them from being fielded together despite being in the same faction.

Still, I'm endeavouring with the game. It does get easier, and some starters are easier to play than others. And it's really unique in that you're playing for vp's via objectives. Plus, as you say, you hardly need any figures at all. One starter box and a blister pack or two and that's it.
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Jim F
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Try playing ASL...
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TTorres
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Hi Bruno, have you ever tried Dust Tactics? It was my go-to minis game for a while, with streamlined rules and fast play. Often fast enough to play the same scenario twice a night, with my opponent and I switching sides for the second game.

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Bruno Pigeon
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Ashiefan wrote:

Try playing ASL...


Haha! I did read the first few pages of the starter kit. My eyes glazed over...
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Bruno Pigeon
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Tonman wrote:
Hi Bruno, have you ever tried Dust Tactics? It was my go-to minis game for a while, with streamlined rules and fast play. Often fast enough to play the same scenario twice a night, with my opponent and I switching sides for the second game.



I've looked at it a few times, but the theme wouldn't go too well with my girlfriend. The advantage of the Song of Blades and Heroes system is that you can do whatever you want with it. They've released rules for Fantasy, Steampunk (kind of (Shadowsea), post-apocalyptic, horror, Napoleonics, World War II...

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Bruno Pigeon
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smittenkitten wrote:

I also found the army generation bizarre. It's like, say you pick Outkasts, then you pick Somer as your leader, it would immediately narrow down your troop selection to a couple of obvious choices. I don't know how to describe it...it's like all the factions are made up of hodge podge themes mashed together such that the rules prevent them from being fielded together despite being in the same faction.


For me it was part of the appeal that the choices were obvious. I didn't want a mini games where you spend three months choosing your army list and then playing 1 game with it. I found that picking a crew box and a few other minis that fitted thematically really interesting as a casual gamer.

 
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Michael Jordal
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Being that Warhammer is my main minis game I find Malifaux to be a nice light diversion when I want to play minis. There are a lot of abilities, but they are all on the cards. The actual mechanics are very simple though.
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If this was your first true miniatures game, I can see where you think the game is confusing. There are elements to the game that are pretty standard to most miniature games. As a new miniature player, not only did you have to learn those rules but the rules that set Malifaux apart. This model, for example is pretty standard nomenclature when a rule refers to the model the rule belongs to. A game like Malifaux needs to be slowly built up to. Tackling five or more models and all their unique rules can be daunting for anyone. I would recommend playing with about 3 models and ignoring most of the models unique rules and focus on the basic mechanics of the game like the fate card mechanics. When learning that becomes your main focus, it becomes second nature pretty fast. Then you can move on to learning what your specific models do.

I would make this recommendation for almost any miniature game.

Most miniature games of this nature are not for casual gamers because they require a few practice games before the full depth of the game can be enjoyed.

To each his own.
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Bruno Pigeon
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Thanks for the suggestion. I've thought a long time about a way to simplify the experience but was rather afraid that removing parts of the game to help the learning process would hurt the gameplay. I mean, If I remove all the special powers at first, then some models would be useless because they cannot do anything else but use their special powers. For example Pandora and the Sorrows, which is the crew my girlfriend chose. SO how could I teach her to play when her characters are useless except with the full rules?

I've thought of converting the mini to Lord of the rings, but it didn't seem suitable because I couldn't translate the special abilities, which is the essence of Malifaux, effectively to LoTR. I was in the process of looking toward Anima Tactics and then I've found Song of Blades and Heroes. That was a revelation. It's perfect to convert Malifaux.

I mean, my crew is Seamus. And I've seen abilities in SoB&H like Terror, which is the equivalent of terrifying in Malifaux, and Tough, which is similar to Hard to Kill. There's razor, which allows you to slit the throat of your opponent, similar to Seamus'S Trigger. For the Belle there an ability called Distract, which reminds me of lure, undress and the like.

I feel it's a good compromise for the moment. If SoB&H goes well, then maybe we'll end-up playing with the rules of Malifaux.

But I prefer to be careful. My girlfriend is rather... picky with the games we play. If I don't grab her attention in the first 5 minutes, then it's the end of that game. She won't play it again.

Which reminds me of Snow Tails. I had Formula De in my collection, but there was no way she was going to play a Formula 1 boardgame. So I looked for another racing game which would appeal to her and decided to buy Snow Tails. We sat down to play the game and I explained the rules to her. Just by the look on her face I knew it was the wrong choice. I exchanged it with Last Night on Earth, which she enjoyed...

 
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Wouter Dhondt
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Thanks for the review. Not that I agree. I'm a casual gamer and Malifaux is perfect for me. Even if I only play once a month. I don't need the cards anymore after 5 games with the same crew.

Quote:
For exemple the basic card mechanic is simple. Flip a card, add to appropriate stats and the highest wins. But then they added the power to change the card... not too difficult, then you can add another card with a soulstone. Ok. Then you get special rules for the jokers. Mmmm still not too bad but beginning to get a lot of rules just for resolving what is normally a simple dice throw. Then you get more rules if you have a positive modifier, and different rules if your modifier is negative which change the effect of jokers and your power to change your card. Now that's getting a bit confusing. Then you finally add the suit of the card which allows you or not to do some different things with your special powers...


This really isn't that hard is it? It is a lot better than using dice. At least you are somewhat in control of your fate. The jokers are brilliant and will result in a lot of memorable moments while gaming. The positive and negative modifiers don't change the rules of the jokers. Red is always good, even during a negative flip. Black is always bad, even during a positive flip.

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Add to those that it's different mechanics for casting a spell and for fighting. Then add about 10 different special rules for each of your miniatures, some of which are described on the character card, some are only described in the rulebook.


Care to give an example? Every special ability is on the character card. The explanation might be in the book for the generic ones like bulletproof or hard to kill. But all the abilities are on every card.

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Then you have the special rules for each character which are really badly written. They went the generic way. SO instead of writing on the character cards: With this power, Pandora can blablabla... the wrote THis model can.. affect that model and that model then and if this model then that model... which get really confusing. It they would have named the model instead of using ''this model'' it would have been much easier.


Problem is if two different models have the same ability, it should have a different name if you use the name of the model in the rule. With using "this model" they can use the same name of the ability.



Oh and Memoir 44 and Battlelore are not miniature games. They are board games with miniatures.
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Wouter Dhondt
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For example Pandora and the Sorrows, which is the crew my girlfriend chose.


Pandora is imho a very difficult crew to play, certainly for a beginner. She has a unique play style. Best to start with something more generic. Some crews are harder to play than others.

E.g. your Seamus box is a lot easier to learn.
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Bruno Pigeon
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Kwakkie wrote:
Thanks for the review. Not that I agree. I'm a casual gamer and Malifaux is perfect for me. Even if I only play once a month. I don't need the cards anymore after 5 games with the same crew.


Your are welcome. I think we don't define casual gamer the same way. You do not fit in my description of a casual gamer at all if I look at your games collection. Twilight imperium is clearly too complex for a casual gamer in my mind. Starcraft and Dune are a bit too much. And even Arkham Horror is a bit beyond the limit. I do own Arkham horror, and I have a love/hate relationship with it. Love because it's one of my girlfriend favorite. Hate because I'm the one who have to learn the rules and I struggle a lot with Arkham. Too me it's too much work for the amount of fun I get out of it.

For me a casual gamer is not someone who play games once in a while, but someone who play simple games: Ticket to ride, Blue Moon, Salem, Letters from Whitechapel...

Quote:
This really isn't that hard is it? It is a lot better than using dice. At least you are somewhat in control of your fate. The jokers are brilliant and will result in a lot of memorable moments while gaming. The positive and negative modifiers don't change the rules of the jokers. Red is always good, even during a negative flip. Black is always bad, even during a positive flip.


It's not that hard when taken all alone like this, but when you add ale the rules together, it's a lot. I think you are right about the jokers, I may have that wrong. But mostly, what is meant is that on top the the rules for Malifaux, you have to learn the rules for another complete game, which is the card Mechanics. It is as if if time you have to resolve an event in the game, you stop playing Malifaux, take your deck of cards and play a hand of Poker. The winner of the poker game wins the Duel in Malifaux.

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Care to give an example? Every special ability is on the character card. The explanation might be in the book for the generic ones like bulletproof or hard to kill. But all the abilities are on every card.


If you examine the card for Madame Sybelle, you'll see she has 13 special rules (I count the Undead characteristic as a special rule because it does have some effect in the game). 6 of those effect are decribed on the card, and 7 are only decribed in the book.

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Problem is if two different models have the same ability, it should have a different name if you use the name of the model in the rule. With using "this model" they can use the same name of the ability.


I agree that it is not possible to name the model for ''general special rules'' decribed only in the book. But I think it wouldn't have been difficult to change ''This model'' with the name of the model for the special rules described on the card. And I tried it and found it much easier to understand. Compare:

Lure: Push target model its Wk towards this model. If the Push ends with the target in this model's melee range it makes a melee attack against the target.

Lure: Push target model its Wk towards Madame Sybelle. If the Push ends with the target in Madame Sybelle's melee range, she makes a melee attack against the target.

For me the second is really much clearer. Also, I don't understand why you say they would have to change the name of the special effect if they used the name of the model in the description. Clearly you could also write this on the Rotten Belle card and still call it lure because the effect is identical:

Lure: Push target model its Wk towards the Rotten Belle. If the Push ends with the target in the Rotten Belle's melee range, she makes a melee attack against the target.

Quote:
Oh and Memoir 44 and Battlelore are not miniature games. They are board games with miniatures.


I know it's kind of a debate on the geek but I disagree with you. The only difference I see with a ''real'' miniature game is that you count your move in hexes instead of inches. I don't think that a tape measure is what defines a miniature game?
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Wouter Dhondt
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I agree that it is not possible to name the model for ''general special rules'' decribed only in the book. But I think it wouldn't have been difficult to change ''This model'' with the name of the model for the special rules described on the card. And I tried it and found it much easier to understand. Compare:

Lure: Push target model its Wk towards this model. If the Push ends with the target in this model's melee range it makes a melee attack against the target.

Lure: Push target model its Wk towards Madame Sybelle. If the Push ends with the target in Madame Sybelle's melee range, she makes a melee attack against the target.

For me the second is really much clearer. Also, I don't understand why you say they would have to change the name of the special effect if they used the name of the model in the description. Clearly you could also write this on the Rotten Belle card and still call it lure because the effect is identical:


I really understand what you're getting and and why it's easier to understand. Problem is: what happens with two Sybelles. E.g. you and your opponent have one. You wouldn't want to go to tournaments when it's not specifically indicated which one.

And they would have to change the name of lure. Now lure is the same for all. If you change it with the name of the model you'd have Sybelles Lure, and Rotten Lure cause they have a different functionality. Now lure is just lure and works the same for different models.

Quote:
I know it's kind of a debate on the geek but I disagree with you. The only difference I see with a ''real'' miniature game is that you count your move in hexes instead of inches. I don't think that a tape measure is what defines a miniature game?


I think the free movement does, but that's probably a different debate. I don't regard any game with miniatures as a miniatures game, cause the genre I have in mind plays completely different.
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Bruno Pigeon
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Kwakkie wrote:
Quote:
For example Pandora and the Sorrows, which is the crew my girlfriend chose.


Pandora is imho a very difficult crew to play, certainly for a beginner. She has a unique play style. Best to start with something more generic. Some crews are harder to play than others.

E.g. your Seamus box is a lot easier to learn.


Maybe it's my fault for not getting enough info about the crew before buying. But since my girlfriend fell in love with Pandora's crew (killer baby, Candy, a monstrous teddy bear...) it would have been difficult to make her play some other crew.

Also, I know it's too much to ask, but maybe they could write it on the crew box: Beginner, Intermediate, Expert.
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Wouter Dhondt
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super_bruno wrote:
Kwakkie wrote:
Quote:
For example Pandora and the Sorrows, which is the crew my girlfriend chose.


Pandora is imho a very difficult crew to play, certainly for a beginner. She has a unique play style. Best to start with something more generic. Some crews are harder to play than others.

E.g. your Seamus box is a lot easier to learn.


Maybe it's my fault for not getting enough info about the crew before buying. But since my girlfriend fell in love with Pandora's crew (killer baby, Candy, a monstrous teddy bear...) it would have been difficult to make her play some other crew.

Also, I know it's too much to ask, but maybe they could write it on the crew box: Beginner, Intermediate, Expert.


That would actually be a good idea. Certainly cause they seem to market Malifaux to beginners specifically. With saemus you can play the master and two belles and you'll learn the game faster. That's more difficult with pandora.
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Bruno Pigeon
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Kwakkie wrote:
I really understand what you're getting and and why it's easier to understand. Problem is: what happens with two Sybelles. E.g. you and your opponent have one. You wouldn't want to go to tournaments when it's not specifically indicated which one.


Which shows that the game is not aimed at casual gamer's. If they wrote the rules with tournament play in mind then the target audience must be tournament players.

For me having two Sybelle, or even 20 in play wouldn'T make a difference. It's clear to me that the effect talks about the Sybelle who cast the spell and not any Sybelle in the game. But I've read a bit on the Wyrd Forums and I do understand that some tournament players have a lot of fun trying to find holes in the rules to twist them to their advantage.

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They write them for clarity and balance. Writing the rules for tournament play, imo, makes them better for casual play. It takes some getting used to, but whatever you want to call it, this is the next level of gaming that you don't feel ready for. There are a lot of games like this, and having played a handful, just like you have no problem knowing what "Sybelle does X" on a card means, I have no problem understanding "This model does X".

In your example, I don't find the Sybelle version to be any more "readable" but it does take up precious card space and make the rule non-generic. The effect is no longer identical even if the "intent" is the same.

Anyway, I think your idea about "master difficulty level" for starting players is great, but unfortunately you have what you have.

I think the suggestion about playing some games and really focusing on the basics is a great idea. Even though I have miniatures experience, whenever I start a new game I start as small as reasonably will work. For malifaux, that means 1v1 minions. Play baby kade vs sybelle, or something similar. Who cares if it's balanced? All that matters is you are learning the rules, and once you go through a couple quick clashes, try using some of the rules of the individual model. Then you can move to different models (use belles, use candy, etc.). Next step up to either a master v master fight, or use a couple minions at a time. Eventually, you will find yourself playing a whole game and knowing all the rules better than you may have thought.

Again, when you play pandora's crew vs seamus' and it's unbalanced because you don't know the rules... who cares? You're not playing in a tournament. Try to really use one or two rules well each game, and you'll pick them up in no time.

On the other hand, if you feel like this game isn't for you because it's too rules intensive and doesn't fall well under whatever label you want to apply to yourself, that's fine too. No one's saying you have to like the game, but there's definitely approaches to it that make it easier to learn if you want to give it another shot. I know it's a lot to take on all at once... which is why you shouldn't do it that way!

Good luck!
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The problem for me with the step by step approach is that I don't play often enough for it to work. It's the approach used by Battelore, and it is really a great idea. But since we play about once every 6 month, we don't remember the rules really well and we have to start from the beginning again. With Battlelore it's not too bad because the game is fun from the first scenario, so playing the first 2 ou 3 scenarios again and again is ok. But with Malifaux, I think it would make the game "un-fun" to try the game 1 fig vs 1 fig, then 6 months later, do it again the same way because we don't remember it very well...

Which is why I think that using the SoB&H system would work much better for met. It's simple enough to use the whole system on the first game, and it is focused on special rules for each character, as in Malifaux, so it keeps the same flavour.

In fact, I have created a Seamus Crew and Pandora Crew for ShadowSea. I haven't had the opportunity to test it yet though.
 
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super_bruno wrote:
The problem for me with the step by step approach is that I don't play often enough for it to work. It's the approach used by Battelore, and it is really a great idea. But since we play about once every 6 month, we don't remember the rules really well and we have to start from the beginning again. With Battlelore it's not too bad because the game is fun from the first scenario, so playing the first 2 ou 3 scenarios again and again is ok. But with Malifaux, I think it would make the game "un-fun" to try the game 1 fig vs 1 fig, then 6 months later, do it again the same way because we don't remember it very well...


Given all the tight parameters you have set for miniatures games in this thread, I honestly think your best bet is Super Dungeon Explore. That's a pick up and play scenario, easy to learn and you can play full scale games every 6 months and simply refer back to the short rulebook as you need it.

Malifaux is a spectacular game as far as I'm concerned, and I'd argue it's the best miniatures game currently in production. It's the simple to learn mechanics coupled with the complex interactions that give the game a pick up 'n play early life, yet incredible depth as you continue into the higher levels of the game. Most of us begin by fumbling around just trying to learn the mechanics, and once it clicks the game really takes off. In truth though- expecting to be able to pick it up and play it every 6 months after a very brief introductory period and then not have to look up any rules is simply unrealistic for the depth of the game.
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My friend bought Pandora as his first crew, she is now banned because she is utterly boring to play against; every time you try and do anything against her you end up having to flip; God does it get boring and repetetive.
 
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super_bruno wrote:
Kwakkie wrote:
Thanks for the review. Not that I agree. I'm a casual gamer and Malifaux is perfect for me. Even if I only play once a month. I don't need the cards anymore after 5 games with the same crew.


Your are welcome. I think we don't define casual gamer the same way. You do not fit in my description of a casual gamer at all if I look at your games collection. Twilight imperium is clearly too complex for a casual gamer in my mind. Starcraft and Dune are a bit too much. And even Arkham Horror is a bit beyond the limit. I do own Arkham horror, and I have a love/hate relationship with it. Love because it's one of my girlfriend favorite. Hate because I'm the one who have to learn the rules and I struggle a lot with Arkham. Too me it's too much work for the amount of fun I get out of it.

For me a casual gamer is not someone who play games once in a while, but someone who play simple games: Ticket to ride, Blue Moon, Salem, Letters from Whitechapel...

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This really isn't that hard is it? It is a lot better than using dice. At least you are somewhat in control of your fate. The jokers are brilliant and will result in a lot of memorable moments while gaming. The positive and negative modifiers don't change the rules of the jokers. Red is always good, even during a negative flip. Black is always bad, even during a positive flip.


It's not that hard when taken all alone like this, but when you add ale the rules together, it's a lot. I think you are right about the jokers, I may have that wrong. But mostly, what is meant is that on top the the rules for Malifaux, you have to learn the rules for another complete game, which is the card Mechanics. It is as if if time you have to resolve an event in the game, you stop playing Malifaux, take your deck of cards and play a hand of Poker. The winner of the poker game wins the Duel in Malifaux.

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Care to give an example? Every special ability is on the character card. The explanation might be in the book for the generic ones like bulletproof or hard to kill. But all the abilities are on every card.


If you examine the card for Madame Sybelle, you'll see she has 13 special rules (I count the Undead characteristic as a special rule because it does have some effect in the game). 6 of those effect are decribed on the card, and 7 are only decribed in the book.

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Problem is if two different models have the same ability, it should have a different name if you use the name of the model in the rule. With using "this model" they can use the same name of the ability.


I agree that it is not possible to name the model for ''general special rules'' decribed only in the book. But I think it wouldn't have been difficult to change ''This model'' with the name of the model for the special rules described on the card. And I tried it and found it much easier to understand. Compare:

Lure: Push target model its Wk towards this model. If the Push ends with the target in this model's melee range it makes a melee attack against the target.

Lure: Push target model its Wk towards Madame Sybelle. If the Push ends with the target in Madame Sybelle's melee range, she makes a melee attack against the target.

For me the second is really much clearer. Also, I don't understand why you say they would have to change the name of the special effect if they used the name of the model in the description. Clearly you could also write this on the Rotten Belle card and still call it lure because the effect is identical:

Lure: Push target model its Wk towards the Rotten Belle. If the Push ends with the target in the Rotten Belle's melee range, she makes a melee attack against the target.

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Oh and Memoir 44 and Battlelore are not miniature games. They are board games with miniatures.


I know it's kind of a debate on the geek but I disagree with you. The only difference I see with a ''real'' miniature game is that you count your move in hexes instead of inches. I don't think that a tape measure is what defines a miniature game?

Miniatures also handle height differences in terrain/units/whatever that exist on the table. Does yours?
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