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What about the little guys?


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In Mailifaux v2, little guys, meaning minions between 4 and 6 stones, were an option. True, they did not survive too well but they did give you additional AP and since, at least to begin with, your side had more figures than the opposition, then you moved last. Always a valuable method for getting the drop on somebody. Fast forward to v3 and the introduction of pass tokens.

 

I very much like v3 but I also like the little guys. Unfortunately, v3 does not like the them at all:

1/ No longer does superior numbers allow the larger crew to move last. Which it did in v2 (for the first few turns!)

2/ Because the smaller crew of big guys can wait (spend pass tokens) to see where some of the little guys have moved to, the chances of the little guys actually surviving long enough to achieve anything is lower in v3 than v2.

3/ As in v2, two little guys in v3 stand little or no chance of taking on a big guy (2 five stones vs 1 ten stone) on even terms. This was fair in v2 because no pass tokens meant that part of the price of the little guys was the increased AP and moving last. In v3, the moving last disappeared but the combat characteristics of the little guys did not improve to compensate.

 

The conclusion is that the little guys are just not cost-effective in v3. Given the lists that most players use in competitions are almost entirely made up of at least 8 stone figures, with the occasional little guy for a specialised role, then that looks evident. Despite which, crew boxes include several figures of a little guy kind which are almost never going to make it to the tabletop. There are three geishas with Youko, three showgirls with Colette and three ruffians with Lucas. Does anyone ever use all three (or any) in a game (apart from me)? I doubt it because they do not make the grade. One sharp intake of breath from a Rider and they are inhumed.

 

The reason is that they are not cost effective. In my opinion, they need to be cheaper in order to achieve, as Josef Stalin put it, the quality of quantity.

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I only have a few M2E games under my belly, but did people actually hire cheap models back then? I only experienced activation control by summons in M2E games and for me as a newbie back then it was an awefull gaming experience, when I faced a Best-of-The-Best plus Mercs list wile I was trying to get into the game with slowly starting a single keyword. Granted, I could have asked my buddies to keep cool, but when I get to a new system I actually want to experienced it played at full force to see the full picture and I usually start by visiting a few tournaments to get as many games as possible early on. 

As a beginner, late M2E was plain bad gaming experience and rather dull as all the slightly "competitive" lists I faced looked very similar. 

The cheaper minions still could see some kind of change to get more relavance. That definitely would be appreciated, as I like those 'irrelevant' models to turn decide games, while the big guys keep each other busy (which is one of the reasons why I do enjoy Infinity so much). 

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I think it depends on the model. There are models with cost in range 4-6 which you hire very often (like crooligans, necropunks, undergraduates, hucksters, operatives, machinists, etc.) mostly because they are either excellent scheme runners (crooligans/necropunks/hucksters) or are undercosted (undergraduates) or are great counterpicks/support option (operatives/machinists). Type of models that suffer from this price range are models who want to be quasi-beaters,shooting at enemies or engaging them in melee. Also, most models in game have wounds equal to their cost, so low-cost models die to focused severe damage. 

16 minutes ago, Silbuster said:

Does anyone ever use all three (or any) in a game (apart from me)?

So I never used ruffians/geishas/showgirls more than 1, though I picked 3 undergraduates and tried 3 vataagi huntsmen once. I guess Molly can bring 3 Crooligans with her too. There are options, but usually you'll bring only one such model for specific purpose.

 

2 minutes ago, Harlekin said:

I only have a few M2E games under my belly, but did people actually hire cheap models back then

they did. For instance, when Desperate Mercenaries were buffed to cost 3 stones instead of 4 I've seen lists with 6 of them, just to ensure activation control over opponent.

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29 minutes ago, Harlekin said:

I only have a few M2E games under my belly, but did people actually hire cheap models back then?

I occasionally did 3ss hound spam with Marcus. I can't say if it was international top table competitive, but it did well enough locally.

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31 minutes ago, Cedar said:

I think it depends on the model

Absolutely. I even hire Bultungin, occasionally. 
In competitive play, the big guys still dominate the field, though and it really would be nice to see some change to that. 

 

Thanks from the inside to M2E. Looks like my local meta already was very fond of the big models back then. Or I just ran into Nicodem and Dreamer too often.

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I think you're right, for a lot of minions they don't stack up well against an equivalent point cost of more expensive stuff. 

There are some that are pretty stellar for thier costs like Necropunks or Piglets. I they're are some pretty regular wishlist threads, asking for fixes and I think for the most part they focus on the cheap models. 

30 minutes ago, Cedar said:

mostly because they are either excellent scheme runners (crooligans/necropunks/hucksters)

Yeah it seems that mobility is usually pretty available at this cost range. But rarely survival or punching power. 

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As a (at the moment mainly) Rezzer player, I really can't complain about the 3-6 Stones models. It's only the Guild Autopsies that I close to never field. Everything sees some table time quite regularly. I don't ever hire Gaki but they show up pretty regularly.
And I wish for the Mourners to get a slight buff but even they can make some sense every now and then.

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4 minutes ago, Harlekin said:

In competitive play, the big guys still dominate the field, though and it really would be nice to see some change to that. 

I think nice idea would be to include more schemes that care about model cost. Right now we have only vendetta (which is rarely taken on little guys) or hidden martyrs. Adding 1-2 schemes that care about cheap, significant models would be cool.

 

6 minutes ago, Harlekin said:

Thanks from the inside to M2E. Looks like my local meta already was very fond of the big models back then. Or I just ran into Nicodem and Dreamer too often.

M2E had lots of crazy stuff, much more than current version. I remember when rats were errated that they couldn't be hired in crews lead by masters other than Hamelin, since EVERY OC master was hiring 2 rats and obedient wretch just to get 8 activations for 8 stones :P 

 

8 minutes ago, Thatguy said:

Yeah it seems that mobility is usually pretty available at this cost range. But rarely survival or punching power. 

My thoughts exactly. Low-cost models that want to stab/shot stuff are usually garbage (like pistolero or witchling stalker).Unfortunately, they potential damage output can't be boosted, as high damage/cost ratio could be end of big boys.

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14 minutes ago, Cedar said:

I think nice idea would be to include more schemes that care about model cost. Right now we have only vendetta (which is rarely taken on little guys) or hidden martyrs. Adding 1-2 schemes that care about cheap, significant models would be cool.

Definitely. I would really like to see more of that stuff. 

Well, there is Public Enemies. I guess, it was aimed at giving those <7 Stones model more value. 

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I wonder which factions have unplayable low-cost models. Ressers are mostly playable.

In Neverborn, at least half of the low-cost models are playable. I wonder if it is just that there are so many low-cost models that it seems like there's lots of unplayables.

3 hours ago, Harlekin said:

In competitive play, the big guys still dominate the field, though and it really would be nice to see some change to that. 

To be fair, in competitive play, MOST models aren't viable. Like Vincent, Sybelle, Philip and the Nanny... Many expensive models are considered pretty garbage in competitive play as well. I think it is more noticeable with cheap models because there's so many of them.

That and card draw is so ubiquitous in competitive play, and if you have card draw, elite lists are a lot stronger.

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Would be nice to see more objectives rewarding smaller models that don't reward summoners too much.

Also worth noting that Public Enemies, the strategy that most blatantly rewards low-cost models, is also very unpopular (it gets dropped from tournaments all the time). So I'm not sure people actually enjoy the games that are heavier with lower cost models, despite the complaints.

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I think the big issue is that Malifaux is a game about managing resources, cards AP etc. Even if your have 2 5ss models that are exactly as useful as a 10ss model without support, the 10ss model will preform better. If I've got limited cards to cheat a turn they go to more expensive models with better returns on investment. If I can spread AP around, or boost models, I use those resources more efficiently when I use them on an expensive model.  Like if Hoffman can make 1 thing fast a turn he he gets more out of doing it too the 10ss Peacekeeper than the 5ss Warden. 

 

Some things are minion only, which I think is a good start. But with 9ss minions and 4ss enforcers that doesn't really help the little guy. Models with abilites that care about cost over station would be cool. 

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4 minutes ago, Thatguy said:

I think the big issue is that Malifaux is a game about managing resources, cards AP etc. Even if your have 2 5ss models that are exactly as useful as a 10ss model without support, the 10ss model will preform better. If I've got limited cards to cheat a turn they go to more expensive models with better returns on investment. If I can spread AP around, or boost models, I use those resources more efficiently when I use them on an expensive model.  Like if Hoffman can make 1 thing fast a turn he he gets more out of doing it too the 10ss Peacekeeper than the 5ss Warden. 

 

Some things are minion only, which I think is a good start. But with 9ss minions and 4ss enforcers that doesn't really help the little guy. Models with abilites that care about cost over station would be cool. 

I agree, and I think a key to getting value out of low-cost models is to play them in a way that they either don't need resources or they get a massive payoff for those resources.

Don't need resources: triple Rotten Belle. They support each other and need max one card per turn for their 15 soulstones.

Massive payoff: Crooligan. It might take a card (or eight), but a crooligan is so impactful it gives you another avenue to use your resources to score points.

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5 hours ago, Maniacal_cackle said:

I wonder which factions have unplayable low-cost models. Ressers are mostly playable

I say each Faction has at least one unplayable or bad non-totem model in range 4-7. From top of my head:

Guild: Pistolero (worst model in the game, lol), Guild patrol (as hire, not summon), Newsie, Witchling Stalker, Queller

Ressers: Guild autopsy, Night Terror (crooligans are just better), onryo (as hire)

Arcanists: Moleman, Hoarcat, Saboteur, Paul Crockett, December acolyte

Neverborn: Bloodwretch, Bultungin, Aversion (why this model even exists?), Waldgeist, maurice, tuco, Rattler,

Outcasts: Desperate Mercenary, winged plague

Bayou: Banjonista, Lightning bug,

Ten Thunders: Geisha (she brings only lure to the table so she becomes primary target of many enemies), Rail Worker, Lotus Eater, TT bro, Obsidian oni (as hire)

Explorers Society (yes, even the faction that everyone complains about has bad models): Moorwraith, Alpinist, Harpooner, Nocturne (as summon, you sometimes can hire one, though it's still bad idea IMO), Berserker Husk (as hire).

7 hours ago, Harlekin said:

Well, there is Public Enemies. I guess, it was aimed at giving those <7 Stones model more value. 

Too bad that still models with cost 8+ are performing much better usually at it (maybe excluding snipers and some overstated/undercosted minions), since your opponent needs to spend more resources at killing them. From my experience the best what low-cost minion can do in the game is be mobile and provide some utility for the crew (healing/moving friends/card draw and so) - it doesn't have to attack enemies at all. 

 

5 hours ago, Maniacal_cackle said:

To be fair, in competitive play, MOST models aren't viable. Like Vincent, Sybelle, Philip and the Nanny... Many expensive models are considered pretty garbage in competitive play as well. I think it is more noticeable with cheap models because there's so many of them.

 

Yes and no. I've seen more people complaining about named characters rather than cheap garbage (for example - I've noticed more posts complaining about taelor over those complaining about desperate mercenaries). 

BTW. Vincent is good situational pick :P 

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1 hour ago, Cedar said:

I say each Faction has at least one unplayable or bad non-totem model in range 4-7. From top of my head:

Guild: Pistolero (worst model in the game, lol), Guild patrol (as hire, not summon), Newsie, Witchling Stalker, Queller

Ressers: Guild autopsy, Night Terror (crooligans are just better), onryo (as hire)

Arcanists: Moleman, Hoarcat, Saboteur, Paul Crockett, December acolyte

Neverborn: Bloodwretch, Bultungin, Aversion (why this model even exists?), Waldgeist, maurice, tuco, Rattler,

Outcasts: Desperate Mercenary, winged plague

Bayou: Banjonista, Lightning bug,

Ten Thunders: Geisha (she brings only lure to the table so she becomes primary target of many enemies), Rail Worker, Lotus Eater, TT bro, Obsidian oni (as hire)

Explorers Society (yes, even the faction that everyone complains about has bad models): Moorwraith, Alpinist, Harpooner, Nocturne (as summon, you sometimes can hire one, though it's still bad idea IMO), Berserker Husk (as hire).

Too bad that still models with cost 8+ are performing much better usually at it (maybe excluding snipers and some overstated/undercosted minions), since your opponent needs to spend more resources at killing them. From my experience the best what low-cost minion can do in the game is be mobile and provide some utility for the crew (healing/moving friends/card draw and so) - it doesn't have to attack enemies at all. 

 

Yes and no. I've seen more people complaining about named characters rather than cheap garbage (for example - I've noticed more posts complaining about taelor over those complaining about desperate mercenaries). 

BTW. Vincent is good situational pick :P 

Well, that list is kind of my point. It seems like over 50% of cheap models are playable?

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The other aspect to keep in mind is that in a tournament setting with limited time, having elite models might make you more likely to finish a game.

Cheap models probably shouldn't require cards to get their value out - I think there is probably a balance between cheap models that have a defined purpose are are worth spending resources on, and cheap models that are just another body to get a job done (so they can't have a need for cards).

I also wouldn't consider 6-7 models in the cheap category, they probably need different fixes than 2-5 models.

It might be interesting to add a 'cannon fodder' phase to the game, where all cheap models have to act at a given time - what's defined as cheap could be dictated by a rule rather than cost, but mostly be reserved for models 2-5 ss, but not all models in that bracket would get it. My first thought would be, at the start of a new turn, all models with the said rule have to act before any models without that rule. Something might need to be tweaked with pass tokens. I'm not a fan of the double activation back to back as the turn passes over if you win initiative, so this would help that if you had cheap models that could do anything about it.

Not sure this is the sort of thing that would happen mid edition though.

 

So, I think the best we can hope for is that all cheap models not currently being used get made simpler (so they cost less time to play in a tournament settling) and/or have any card cost associated with them removed (which could mean a flatter damage track, 1/X/X), and/or have a single specific role well designed which is needed by their keyword in at least one strategy and two or more schemes.

 

I also think there are two problems - many (half?) cheap models are plain bad, and most minions aren't worth taking more than one of.

In the gaining grounds 2 thread I suggested an optional game variant where additional minions after the first of a specific type cost one less (so 4 corrupted hounds cost 9ss instead of 12ss). Some tweaks to specific models might be needed to account for this though. This would target casual and beginner play more than the top tables - not sure they are as bothered about only using one model from a box of three that costs £20+ than I am!

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3 hours ago, Cedar said:

 

Explorers Society (yes, even the faction that everyone complains about has bad models): Moorwraith, Alpinist, Harpooner, Nocturne 

Ok, this is crazy talk. Harpooners and the Alpinist are both FANTASTIC models, although I will say that I have only played Harpooners in EVS so maybe they need Keyword models to shine (which is good). 

I think I also saw Railworkers on this list? Excuse me? Railworkers are fan-fucking-tastic, to the point of tilting my regular opponents. 

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I'm actually skipping Harpooners in EVS, as just other models are better and I can't see any value in anything they bring to the table.You have better beaters and better support in other models in the crew.  Alpinist is IMO a trap model, that doesn't offer that much. You can hire him as sole scheme runner, though other models (usually those in keyword) would do better job.

I've never played mei myself, just guys who played her told me they are garbage that doesn't bring anything to the crew.

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37 minutes ago, Cedar said:

I'm actually skipping Harpooners in EVS, as just other models are better and I can't see any value in anything they bring to the table.You have better beaters and better support in other models in the crew.  Alpinist is IMO a trap model, that doesn't offer that much. You can hire him as sole scheme runner, though other models (usually those in keyword) would do better job.

I've never played mei myself, just guys who played her told me they are garbage that doesn't bring anything to the crew.

The Alpinist is fantastic for the Climbing Gear ability. That alone is worth 5ss imo, if he was a blank card with 5 wounds, Armor 1 and Climbing Gear I'd still hire him. 

Harpooners are excellent at mispositioning enemy models or Scheme Markers. I usually hire one and Toss it up the board so it can threaten to pull enemies towards my crew, or activate last and Reel In a Scheme Marker. 

I usually play ArcMei, so Railworkers often hold Magical Training for me. But without that, I find they hold their own against expensive models. Armor 1, 5 wounds, HtK means most models need minimum 3 AP to kill it, so they are great AP soaks. Their damage track is terrific for a 5ss model at 2/4/5, and they are in a crew that pulses out Focus. Pnematic Toss is what really puts them over the top imo. Firstly, it allows you to reposition your own models, and chuck Walking Forge models to get scrap further up the board. But it's also a Stat 5 attack targeting Mv. So this 5ss model is usually on an even stat ignoring defensive triggers, and the Toss is not Sz locked. You can screw over so many beefy 10ss models by chucking them out of position, and then just not having to deal with them. Furthermore, Pnematic Toss triggers all your Hazardous effects to deal upwards of 5 damage 1 Inj all in separate pings which is great for dealing with SS users. 

 

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14 minutes ago, Mycellanious said:

The Alpinist is fantastic for the Climbing Gear ability. That alone is worth 5ss imo, if he was a blank card with 5 wounds, Armor 1 and Climbing Gear I'd still hire him. 

Harpooners are excellent at mispositioning enemy models or Scheme Markers. I usually hire one and Toss it up the board so it can threaten to pull enemies towards my crew, or activate last and Reel In a Scheme Marker. 

I'm actually glad that somebody finds more value in those models than I do :D For me climbing gear is bit bad, as it doesn't work on models that start movement in range, just on models in range. It screwed me over few times.

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2 minutes ago, Cedar said:

I'm actually glad that somebody finds more value in those models than I do :D For me climbing gear is bit bad, as it doesn't work on models that start movement in range, just on models in range. It screwed me over few times.

Sure but I think if you plan around that its super good! I think giving your whole crew better-than-incorporeal for their whole activation is worth a bit more than 5 stones lol. As it is, it really helps on some of those congested Vassal maps. 

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I only really know Outcasts well enough, but there's a big difference between 5 and 6 stone models in our faction. I think every 6 stone minion is worth taking for certain roles. Dead Outlaws are probably the worst one, and they're fine. We also have 1 6 stone Hench who's very good.

Then you get to 5 stones, and you have roughly 3 tiers. The Guilty and Obedient Wretch are very good, then Big Jake is solid, and Freikorpsman and Banditos are just so hard to justify over other choices. I don't think the latter 2 are unplayable, but when you compare them to other choices it always comes up against a model you don't have to worry about getting one shot'd.

At 4 stones, you have 2 good models (Void Wretch, Effigy), 2 models that are ok (Student of Conflict, and Abomination) and then 2 that are actively bad to the point of unplayable (Desperate Merc, Winged Plague).

So there's a pattern here of the weak models at each stone level getting progressively worse than their competition for selection. I don't think the problem is pass tokens, but rather the balancing gets harder. You can live with a 10 stone model that does 9 stones worth of work, that's a loss of 10%. A 4 stone model that does 3 stones worth of work? That's a 25% loss.

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9 hours ago, Cedar said:

Ressers: Night Terror (crooligans are just better)

Arcanists: Saboteur, Paul Crockett

Neverborn: Waldgeist, Rattler,

I have to disagree: Night Terrors are great. I almost always bring one 

Saboteurs can be quite useful against some crews and Paul Crockett can help Marcus' a lot with getting more attacks and is a valid toolbox besides this. 

On the right table, Waldgeists are great and Rattler imho is totally underrated. 

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2 minutes ago, Harlekin said:

I have to disagree: Night Terrors are great. I almost always bring one 

Saboteurs can be quite useful against some crews and Paul Crockett can help Marcus' a lot with getting more attacks and is a valid toolbox besides this. 

On the right table, Waldgeists are great and Rattler imho is totally underrated. 

Seconded for the Rattler. It always punches above its weight class for me

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