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Sheebee

List Building and the Competitive Scene

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Hi all, new to the forums (mostly to ask this question!) and trying to dip my toes back into what little Malifaux I've played.

The core group of players at my FLGS are Warmachine guys; have been since the launch of the first edition, basically.  Very competitive group of guys.  However interest has recently flaked, due to major changes in the game.

I've always tried to push Malifaux casually, but no one has ever taken the bait.  The primary game pusher among us explained to me his trepidation with Malifaux. In essence they are:

1. The game has seemingly very little competition support.

2. To be competitive would require access to the whole faction and multiples, due to the nature of list building.  That is a huge initial investment.

My questions are, how could these worries be addressed?  Is there potential for a locked-list format?  Perhaps a pairing or even a triad?  How can you get reticent competitive players into a game like Malifaux?

 

Thank you for your time and responses.

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I can answer the second question. No you don't have to own an entire faction to be competitive, but different masters will require different levels of investment. There are players that refine their list to a razor-edge and play single master single list throughout tournaments and do well with them, but at the moment not every master can do that equally well. And some people do do fixed master events, but the entire concept of a fixed list is sort of the antithesis of what Malifaux is about, namely you find out what you are trying to do and tailor your list to achieve it. 

I'd suggest potentially listening to some of the episodes of the Max Value Podcast, which seems to primarily be players who were super competitive in the Warhammer scene before Age of Sigmar hit, and they all jumped to Malifaux. Of the people associated with it I believe most of them are pretty high up in the US rankings, with Travis, the primary host of the show, being ranked #8 and top Guild player, and I believe his Co-Host is Jacob Brandon ranked #4 and top Outcast player. It's a very competitively minded podcast and while you might want to skip over the tournament reports their discussions of strategy and how the game functions on a competitive level are pretty informative.

 

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I'm just really confused by what "competitive support" is supposed to be, when used by Warmachine/Hordes players referring to Malifaux.

 

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If you look at our Chronicles E-Zine we have been running a series on how to build the start of a competitive crew. In the December and February issues we covered 10 Thunders and the Neverborn. 

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I've played in 4 tournaments so far and only placed in the top 3 once. I've never left an event without at least $20 worth of prizes. (Alt models/store credit/etc)

I haven't played Warmachine in a long time so I don't know what level of support their events have but I'm very impressed by Wyrd's prize support.

In addition to the resources mentioned above schemesandstones.wordpress.com has articles for every faction on how to put a competitive Tournament list together for under $100 retail. That's a super low buy in. More options are always good but you can make a serious start in Malifaux for $100.

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9 minutes ago, solkan said:

I'm just really confused by what "competitive support" is supposed to be, when used by Warmachine/Hordes players referring to Malifaux.

 

Honestly me too, I was mostly just along for the ride.  But afaik, there are multiple tournament formats, a sanctioning process for events, and invitational events.

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So, they may be talking about the literal competitive scene.  Warmahordes has a very sharply defined set of tournaments that lead up to certain big events - Lock n' Load, Masters, etc.  Malifaux doesn't have ATC weekends, where people compete to represent their area.  We don't have qualifiers for regionals, nationals and worlds.  We have less iconic events that you can go to and watch on stream to see the best of the best.  And that's fair.  Malifaux is not as structured, or at least it's not as publicized.  When I play WMH, I was often thinking "Okay, I can play fun lists for another 3 weeks, then I need to start practicing my lists for the next tournament.  When I play Malifaux I'm thinking "WOO!  BEST GAME! WOO!!!!!"  But that can also be down to the area - have a Henchman set up aggressive tournament schedules and you'll be in competitive mode. ;)  And maybe there is a very thriving Malifaux feeder tournament scene, I just don't know it.

On the flip side, Warmahordes is all about competitive play.  You are constantly thinking about your meta, your counters, everyone has an anti-armor list and a dude-spam-murder list and such.  There is a defined meta - people play types.  Andy is a Khador Jack-spam player, Larry plays A+ Tier Cygnar, Megan does awful things with Ret trickery, Matt is always just going to bring Circle beasts and slam them in to you.  Also, you can have tons of discussions about "Legion in to Wurmwood" or the like.  And you can prep for a tournament by running against certain lists you expect to see.

Malifaux doesn't have that.  While we may have masters to watch, it's not like there's a specific few lists that you have to build against.  You aren't going to see the same lists over and over, you're not even going to bring the same list to every game.  Which doesn't mean we aren't planning and plotting and playing to win, just that playing to win means different things in Malifaux, and it's not so easily categorized as "Be sure your lists can handle X, Y, and Z."  So even "tournament prep" in Malifaux means something different.  It means playing combinations of your masters to be sure you're comfortable, and trying out gimmicks.  Not just running the same list 20x in a row to lock it in.

As to cost, that's up in the air.  If you pick the right masters, you don't need a huge pool to support them.  For $150 or so you can get most all of the competitive figures you need for 3-4 masters in almost any faction.  Maybe not *any* 3-4 masters, but you can get a broad pool pretty quickly.

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Ok, as a press ganger  turned malifaux pkayer;

The game has plenty of competitiveness to it. Just start running events. And be loose with the round timer for the first few as people get used to it. 

You really don't need the whole faction - while there is an advantage to having and knowing all the options most people play with a fairly small selection of models once they get comfortable. 

The hardest sell is going to be painting requirements.... So maybe just don't enforce them locally.

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For building up, single master tournaments would be my suggestion. I generally prefer playing with one master anyway and did well recently soloing Lilith with nothing newer than book 2.

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On 3/15/2017 at 9:41 PM, Sheebee said:

To be competitive would require access to the whole faction and multiples, due to the nature of list building.  That is a huge initial investment.

Not true. The High Fauxdelity podcast actually does episodes about the (perceived) strongest and weakest models. Every faction has the usual top-, mid- and low-tier so no competitive player would need to buy everything. Doubles might well be required, though.

Regarding the end investment itself: As a former WMH player I can say it's less than the equivalent for WMH. That has to do with competitive WMH players building for the WTC, which is a team tournament and encourages very specialized lists.

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The best antidote is to see the game being played, and let that draw them into playing it themselves.   If they aren't into it, or aren't interested in being into it, then there's a limit to what you can do.

I've been playing tournament 'faux since first edition.  To answer the two points above;

Tournament rules are refreshed with new objectives annually, and the way Strategies and Schemes interact means the game is highly varied as is.  This is coupled with new rules releases in the summer also shifting the meta game mean there's always something to explore.  Malifaux isn't as competitively focused as HWM, but it still handles it well.

While you do need more than one crew worth of models you certainly don't need everything, and with a handful of exceptions you don't need more than one of the same box of anything.  I'm playing in a three round tournament tomorrow and I'll be using a pool of between 20 and 25 models to play the event, even though I own just about everything in my faction.

Fixed list ect doesn't work in Malifaux, it just makes the game look unbalanced.  If you want to get people in try a slow grow style league or a pool event. 

 

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4 hours ago, tactician said:

Not true. The High Fauxdelity podcast actually does episodes about the (perceived) strongest and weakest models. Every faction has the usual top-, mid- and low-tier so no competitive player would need to buy everything. Doubles might well be required, though.

Regarding the end investment itself: As a former WMH player I can say it's less than the equivalent for WMH. That has to do with competitive WMH players building for the WTC, which is a team tournament and encourages very specialized lists.

This is a great point.  I have been paring down my WMH stuff, so I'm down to basically 1 list and a couple options (Abby 2 + beasts).  I would *never* consider myself able to play in a tourney.  My list is a fine all-comers list, but I need basically an entire second list to handle niche meta stuff.  And even then, my current list is over $200 retail.  Adding a second specialized list (probably something like Thags infantry? I dunno - I'm not up on the meta now) would be another $200+ dollars.

They just already *have* all the WMH stuff.  So they don't see the cost they put in to it over time, and they're thinking of going from 0 to full competitive.

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11 hours ago, Ergonomic Cat said:

They just already *have* all the WMH stuff.  So they don't see the cost they put in to it over time, and they're thinking of going from 0 to full competitive.

Oh no they are well aware haha.  But this is the kind of group that goes 0 to 60 with games.  That's why Guild Ball will probably be our next thing for a while, unfortunately.

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16 hours ago, tactician said:

Not true. The High Fauxdelity podcast actually does episodes about the (perceived) strongest and weakest models. Every faction has the usual top-, mid- and low-tier so no competitive player would need to buy everything. Doubles might well be required, though.

That's the issue though.  Even if there are stronger and weaker models, not having the exact model you need against a specific enemy/encounter is a direct competitive disadvantage.  Again, this is according to him, not me.  I feel like WM is similar in that regard.

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29 minutes ago, Sheebee said:

Oh no they are well aware haha.  But this is the kind of group that goes 0 to 60 with games.  That's why Guild Ball will probably be our next thing for a while, unfortunately.

I mean, Guild Ball's fun too. ;)

But their loss.  As I said to a player at my store this week:

Me: "You remember how much I used to love WMH and play it?"

He: "Yeah?"

Me: "I've only played once since I started Malifaux."

He: "I have to leave.  I can't afford another game."

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1 hour ago, Sheebee said:

That's the issue though.  Even if there are stronger and weaker models, not having the exact model you need against a specific enemy/encounter is a direct competitive disadvantage.  Again, this is according to him, not me.  I feel like WM is similar in that regard.

That's just not realistically how it works out. You generally know the strategies and schemes before hand so you can plan out the 2-3 Masters you want to bring plus model swaps, usually around 25 models.

And even if you felt inclined to buy a whole faction (which, again, is pretty unrealistic) it's going to run you a similar amount to the two warmachine lists you need in tournies.

But it doesn't sound like it's you we need to convince, so...

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4 hours ago, Ergonomic Cat said:

"I have to leave.  I can't afford another game."

Ha! I've had this exact same reaction from the last three people I tried to sell Malifaux to!

After the argumentation was done, that is... :)

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It's salesmanship. We already know their points - they want to be competitive, they want to be reassured that it's not a heavy investment, they want tournament support.

1) Competitiveness. Make comparisons between weakest/strongest Warcasters in a faction, "Well, you know how Haley2 is way strong into almost anything with a solid pairing in Haley3, and Sturgis1 or Kraye1 is way weaker, so if you don't like the Haleys you almost can't play Cygnar? Well, Malifaux is nothing like that. Every master is on a fairly even playing field, and the ones that are slightly weaker are usually that way because they're more challenging - pick the ones you like, and they're actually GOOD. Also, there's no weird nonsense like nirfing Haley1 when she isn't the problem. When they cuddle or buff someone, it's because they need it, and it makes sense - not a single person complained when Wyrd changed a bunch of models in January because every change was logical and balanced."

2) Cost. "So, how much do you have in Warmachine right now? Just your primary faction? Yeah, $600+ sounds about right. Man, my bare bones army, with no real swap options, cost me around $300 and that's with internet discounts - retail, it'd be close to $500! And how much of that money was spent on units that you can't even take, but bought and painted because they looked good? Malifaux ain't like that. Yeah, you should probably start with two different Masters, but once again they're really good at balance and none of the included models are 'toss in the bits bin' - that's about $100 RETAIL. Unless you're going 'Zombie Lord Guy' - which is an option! - you can pick up two or three more small boxes of individuals or squads to cover a few additional bases and you'll have a fully competitive force for under $200 retail. I'd recommend you go retail, by the by; Wyrd does put out limited edition sculpts to people who spend a certain amount at brick and mortars..."

3) Prize support. "So if I get people in stores and earn Soulstones, I can have Wyrd ship me prize boxes. Foil art cards for masters, alternative sculpts for existing models, even full crew boxes! They also have certificates, and participants get tokens called Guilders that can be swapped for limited edition Master models. When did PP ever do THAT? No, Wyrd doesn't go for the 'massive tournament scene' because frankly, it seems almost self-defeating. Too much work for not enough return. They run major events at cons where they release even MORE alternate sculpts of different models - check out this Nightmare steampunk vehicle crew!"

 

Don't go hard sales on them. Don't push them. Ask them questions, give them time to think about the answers themselves, and then show the comparison. The key points are these:

$200 gets you a competitive force in a faction.

All the Masters are fairly even so pick a couple you like out of your chosen Faction and build around them.

Wyrd offers great prize support and has incentive programs to support the brick and mortar stores we play in.

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As an illustration I was at a local tournament today, sixteen players and three rounds.  I won all my games (came second on diff) and used exactly nineteen different models. 

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22 hours ago, Ergonomic Cat said:

 

Me: "I've only played once since I started Malifaux."

He: "I have to leave.  I can't afford another game."

As a fairly new Henchman I've been getting this a lot. I keep showing up, having fun, doing Demos and talking shop and now more and more people are jumping on board--including people who pretty much gave me this response at first.

The models and mechanics are so good that the game sells itself with consistent exposure.

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51 minutes ago, H4ml3t said:

As a fairly new Henchman I've been getting this a lot. I keep showing up, having fun, doing Demos and talking shop and now more and more people are jumping on board--including people who pretty much gave me this response at first.

The models and mechanics are so good that the game sells itself with consistent exposure.

Oh, he'll be mine.  I have no concern.  He was reading the book and getting interested, watching us play, talking about the rules.  It's only a matter of time. ;)

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39 minutes ago, Ergonomic Cat said:

Oh, he'll be mine.  I have no concern.  He was reading the book and getting interested, watching us play, talking about the rules.  It's only a matter of time. ;)

Muah. Haha. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAA!!! *coughcough*

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I think it speaks to what a great game Malifaux is, that games are won or lost on the game board rather than in the list building. You can get an edge by being smart when you know the schemes and strats but netlisting generally doesn't work great. I don't want a warmahordes 'gotta have this list to counter that list unless they pick this other list.' Just play me Malifaux foo. 

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