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Malifaux Measuring System


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I don't like the measuring system in Malifaux. There, I said it. I like Malifaux, but when it comes to measuring distances in a competitive experience, I don't like it.

 

In my opinion, measuring takes practice depending on how precise your gaming group wants people to be with measurements (sometimes just a 1/16in can be the difference between a model being in range and not in range or engaged or not). And, depending on your gaming group, a measurement discrepancy can lead to an argument or maybe a 5-10 minute discussion just to resolve and move forward. I understand that measuring systems allow a lot of flexibility compared to grid based systems. You can place your models anywhere! But...you know, you could just use a smaller grid to accomplish close enough to the same thing...with a lot less headache in my opinion.

But this is just my opinion. Maybe lots of people just don't like grid-based systems compared to me.

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I think a grid system is too rigid.  In order to eliminate ambiguity, you need to have one grid space = one model base.

This leads to some pretty clunky stuff. Walking around terrain, etc. Also you need a specialised board, further increasing the cost of playing the game.

There are plenty of precision measurement tools which are helpful, or playing on vassal can be great.

Also, I think this sounds like a player attitude issue mostly. Bumping the table shifts models by at least 1/16 of an inch, so quibbling over it (especially for 5-10 minutes) seems straight up silly to me.

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9 minutes ago, Maniacal_cackle said:

In order to eliminate ambiguity, you need to have one grid space = one model base.

I don't agree with this piece because I know Pathfinder has characters that take up more than one space and it works just fine, but I respect the desire for more flexibility.

The finest grid I can see being tolerable is a "squares within squares" system where dark lines outline a 1in square and then lighter lines outline four 1/4in squares within the dark-lined square. This allows a player to easily measure in inches but still gives enough flexibility to place a model with 1/4in precision.

Bases are troublesome though (they're circular not square), so it might be too late at this point to even consider something like switching, so I guess it is what it is. Just my feedback

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While there is of course room for disagreement, this sounds like it may be more particular to your personal experience.  The entire industry is based on free measurements relative to the table, even in games where the measurements themselves are pre-set (games with range sticks, like Marvel or Star Wars).

I think an approach of general charity to both players and clear communication is the better method of avoid or resolve ambiguities, as opposed to attempting the overlaying of a grid (with or without potential sub-grids).

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I play games with grids and games without. Both have a place. There are good things and bad things about both options.

One thing that has helped me in the past 5 years or so is getting measuring tools. I started playing by using tape measures and that does fine, but there are times when its hard to tell for certain if something is in or out of range. (It might also be that I started in 1st editon where there was no premeasuring, you had to declare the action and then find out if you are in range or not). I originally got a set of measuring sticks for Guildball which is much more measurement precise than Malifaux, and then some movement tracks, and they can make this sort of thing very quick to answer. if I need to know if I'm within 6" I just pick up the 6" stick and see if it touches both bases. 

They aren't perfect in helping things like movement which is partially in severe terrain, but they do stop lots of arguments. (Intent does help. If I deliberately put a model down to make sure another model is within a 6" aura, then I will often say so, or at least measure it at the time to check. It does mean "cunning traps are more likely to be seen before hand, but if I want to keep it a secret than I either make sure that I'm in range without measuring (by moving closer or checking something else that just happens to tell me the information I want), or accept that I might have got my measurements wrong and I'm possibly not in range if it gets questioned. 

Grids can look clunky when you don't want to move in a line in the orientation of the grid, and yes the smaller the grid gets, the less of a problem it is. But then they more complicated movement gets counting out all the spaces you are moving.  It doesn't work very well with multiple base sizes unless you make the base size change in steps of the grid size (I'm happy with the rules allowing you to take up multiple parts of the grid, but once you're using the grid you have to count as fully occupying all sections equally) and that leads to quite small grid sections . These things are all things that can be worked around, but its a fairly major rules change, and would require quite a bit of work to make that change. 

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The only issue I have with movement is that I much prefer "front to back", as it means your measuring isn't inherently covered by the moving model. Orbasically, how 'place's (except Flight) work. I find it's a lot easier to be precise that way.

Problem is, with bases being Metric, and movement being Imperial, that's a non-starter in Malifaux.

Also makes area terrain a little weirder, but I'd be fine with that in most circumstances. 

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9 hours ago, Design Dragon said:

The finest grid I can see being tolerable is a "squares within squares" system where dark lines outline a 1in square and then lighter lines outline four 1/4in squares within the dark-lined square. This allows a player to easily measure in inches but still gives enough flexibility to place a model with 1/4in precision.

 

So you’re going to ignore the inconvenient facts like:

* Model sizes are 30mm, 40mm, and 50mm.  None of those are even multiples of an inch, so won’t fit in an “inch based” grid.

* Movement and measurement on grids always ends up with messy rules for diagonal measuring, or “free” distance.

 

9 hours ago, Design Dragon said:

Bases are troublesome though (they're circular not square), so it might be too late at this point to even consider something like switching, so I guess it is what it is. Just my feedback

Whistling about thirty years of table top wargaming....
 

At least you weren’t complaining about pre-measuring or not pre-measuring.

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8 hours ago, Morgan Vening said:

The only issue I have with movement is that I much prefer "front to back", as it means your measuring isn't inherently covered by the moving model. Orbasically, how 'place's (except Flight) work. I find it's a lot easier to be precise that way.

Problem is, with bases being Metric, and movement being Imperial, that's a non-starter in Malifaux.

Also makes area terrain a little weirder, but I'd be fine with that in most circumstances. 

Marvel Crisis Protocol does the front to back movement measurement, by having movement not be in inches. Movement there is S, M, & L.  Base size matters, as larger bases give effectively longer movement.  This would require a change in Malifaux stats across the board, but wouldn't make the game unplayable.  It would just be different.

 

As for the Grids thing, squares are a terrible idea for measuring as diagonals vs straight lines leads to weirdness that works best for dungeons with walls and corridors or a "beer & pretzels" fantasy football game.  If you wanted to move to a grid, Hexes is a better grid than squares. There's still weirdness with Terrain, as terrain doesn't typically fit well into hex shapes, and Base sizes end up not mattering (unless you allow smaller bases to stack in a hex like with Godtear or similar).

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If you want to be more precise measuring, the best option I found are these rulers https://www.customeeple.com/product/m3e-movement-templates/?attribute_methacrylate-colors=Beige+-+MOCR+(Painted)&v=0f26a103da90

It is a bit clunky when you start but it gets faster. For big distances you will still need something bigger (sticks with the needed lengrh work fine there too).

That been said, these are great if you want to be more precise for the sake of being precise and both players enjoy it that way.

But I would go for a playgroup discussion and try things like the rule of intent as suggested. With the goal of finding a balance between bekng precise and keeping the game playable that suits you.

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As a game with such a strong sense of aesthetic, playing on a grid would feel a bit ugly to me. I like to play on amazing tables with strange terrain pieces. Many times some buildings have presented problems for placement and the likes, but as you can measure before performing actions and making decisitions, I think the movement works just fine.

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On 6/14/2021 at 8:14 AM, solkan said:

 

 

So you’re going to ignore the inconvenient facts like:

* Model sizes are 30mm, 40mm, and 50mm.  None of those are even multiples of an inch, so won’t fit in an “inch based” grid.

* Movement and measurement on grids always ends up with messy rules for diagonal measuring, or “free” distance.

 

Whistling about thirty years of table top wargaming....
 

At least you weren’t complaining about pre-measuring or not pre-measuring.

Sorry I offended you with my opinions...not! 🙄

On 6/13/2021 at 11:13 PM, Maniacal_cackle said:

Something else to try would be the rule of intent.

When placing stuff, say whether it is within range or not.

This can save a lot of arguments if you're clear from the moment of placing.

Yeah, I've tried that. Works sometimes but sometimes people are real sticklers about 1/16in. I think I'm going to try the "squares within squares" thing with my friends. Malifaux isn't a computer game, so I can just change it however I want so long as I'm only playing with friends. We might tape like paper squares on the bottom of the bases or something to make it more clear.

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4 hours ago, Design Dragon said:

Sorry I offended you with my opinions...not! 🙄

Yeah, I've tried that. Works sometimes but sometimes people are real sticklers about 1/16in. I think I'm going to try the "squares within squares" thing with my friends. Malifaux isn't a computer game, so I can just change it however I want so long as I'm only playing with friends. We might tape like paper squares on the bottom of the bases or something to make it more clear.

If that works for you, sounds like a great idea :)

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On 6/20/2021 at 5:02 PM, Design Dragon said:

Yeah, I've tried that. Works sometimes but sometimes people are real sticklers about 1/16in. I think I'm going to try the "squares within squares" thing with my friends. Malifaux isn't a computer game, so I can just change it however I want so long as I'm only playing with friends. We might tape like paper squares on the bottom of the bases or something to make it more clear.

Good luck with trying it. I'd certainly be interested in hearing how it works for you. 

Have you decided how you are going to deal with Diagonal movement? And are you going to use Squares for all measurement, or just movement? Or are you going to measure and decide for the measurement which grid you are going to fit into?

Those would be the places that I thought there may be problems, and need defining before you play. Base size is relatively minor and base shape potentially not an issue (depending on how you do the above. If you remove tape measures entirely and turn it into square counting for movement then as long as you know which squares are covered by a base it doesn't really matter your exact physical shape...)

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Having 'tiles' instead of free measuring makes a game sooooo much faster to play. And a game like Malifaux where movement means a lot, it could half the game time which would be awesome.

However, you really need to design a game from the ground up with either in mind. Hexes are leagues better than squares, but then leads to terrain issues, so you have to keep that in mind when buying/selling/building terrain. Circular bases aren't an issue to my mind.

There was a thread a year or two ago about a beginner friendly alternative ruleset for Malifaux which discussed using tiles instead of free measuring.

I used to be very against the idea, but after playing Mantic's Deadzone and Dreadball, I'm very for it. Its not for all games though. And of course we can't talk about wargames + hex's without mentioning battletech. Possibly the longest running wargame, successfully using hex's for 30+ years with only minor rule changes.

 

I don't understand the comments about tiles being clunky - they are the exact opposite. Free measuring is clunky because humans can move things precisely, and the table surface isn't necessarily flat, so models can't always be placed where you want. If you have hex's and a board designed for them, you always know exactly where a model is, exactly how far away it is, and there are no discussions about whether it can or cannot do something.

I think wyrd changing Malifaux to hex's would be catastrophic for sales of the game because of how established it is, but releasing a simplified version, in addition, targeted at beginners (or casual players) with a hex grid could be great. They could probably just do a fairly complex find and replace on the cards to convert without much development time.

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As far as hex bases go, to deal with the 30/40/50mm base split you would probably need hex's smaller than a 30mm base, which might then put them at a size where you want widgets to measure them quickly rather than counting them.

But you don't have too - you can have 50 mm bases take up 7 hex's and 40mm bases take up three, and 30mm take one. You might need to add a few rules to deal with those three hex bases interacting and moving. It would adjust the balance a little between base sizes, so would need several other tweaks if you wanted anything competitive.

So, again, it probably only really works if designing a ruleset from the ground up with it.

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3 hours ago, MrPieChee said:

As far as hex bases go, to deal with the 30/40/50mm base split you would probably need hex's smaller than a 30mm base, which might then put them at a size where you want widgets to measure them quickly rather than counting them.

But you don't have too - you can have 50 mm bases take up 7 hex's and 40mm bases take up three, and 30mm take one. You might need to add a few rules to deal with those three hex bases interacting and moving. It would adjust the balance a little between base sizes, so would need several other tweaks if you wanted anything competitive.

So, again, it probably only really works if designing a ruleset from the ground up with it.

I'd consider going the other way with hexes.

Make the hexes slightly larger than 50s, and allow 2 30s to occupy the same hex (if a player chooses) but otherwise allow only one base in a hex at a time.  I think that's an easier rules set than having bases occupy multiple hexes.  It does change ranges (each hex being ~2"), but a majority of ranges in the game (that are not movement or 1" melee) are multiples of 2, so it could still work by rounding up or down on the odd number ranges.

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Allowing multiple bases into one hex cell is quite brilliant idea, though you may want to adjust Strategies and Schemes to better fitting the hex system.

Break the Line, for instance, brings 4 impassible markers on the board. According to your ruling now, those markers occupy half of the cell. Therefore a player can place 2 strategy markers into same cell and the opponent can never reach to them for the rest of the game.

Also you need to recreate the definition of the center line, where would happen in half of the line is located at the edge in between 2 cells, while the other parts across through a cell. In the same manner deployment zone needed to be redefined as well.

The last thing I can think of is LoS. When a model would draw LoS through a cell the occupied by a single 30mm object, how the model determines is the LoS blocked or not? This does affect how cover work and hence can impact all shooting crew in a significant way.

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Yeah, as MrPieChee noted, a move to a grid system likely requires multiple changes to the game and would likely be best built from the ground up.  I think as you build the new game rules and play you'd find more things that needed to be changed from Malifaux.

 

Another option might be to make hexes fit ~30mm bases and just abandon base size as a concept.  If your base hangs over the edge of a hex you just ignore that and assume it's entirely within the hex it's 'mostly' centered on. You have to fudge model placement a bit (you hang out of the hex more than normal) if multiple models with too large bases are near each other, but since everything is hex based, you kind of can move models as needed, since all measurements would be to a hex and not to the model's base.

Bloodbowl already does this as there are various sized boards with different sized squares and various makers of models with different sized bases, but since everything is measured square to square, it doesn't matter as long as a base isn't so large it causes placement headaches. Other hex/grid based games do the same since the hex/square is the important location for measurement and models & their bases are just markers.

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