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Titles ruined everything!


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How's that for a clickbait title :D

So, in general I was very pleasantly surprised by how well the titles went. Doubling the amount of Masters sounded, to me, like such a recipe for a massive disaster that I was honestly blown away by how balanced and fun the result was.

But that might be because because my expectations were super low. I mean, there certainly were quite a few problems. Some were even errataed.

I think that there are kinda two types of problems.

Since every Master needs to have a distinct playstyle I feel that some have gotten overly convoluted. Be it tracking hundreds of pips of Poison or the kidnap style of play of Tara2 or whatever I feel that there are cracks appearing here and there when the design space is stretched out.

The other problem is simply power level.

I've seen a couple of tier lists and S tier seems solely occupied by titles. Now, tier lists are far from objective, naturally but I really do feel that with the latest round of errata the original Masters are in a very good spot with basically no truly OP ones left. But the titles were protected from the errata (barring a couple of fixes for the most outrageous things) so it's entirely natural that their power level is still all over the place.

And it isn't all titles, naturally. Most are in a good place and there are quite a few weak ones as well.

It's just such a shame that I feel that we might have the most balanced iteration of Malifaux currently if we didn't have the titles. And with the titles, I feel that we're actually in one of the most unbalanced metas ever, currently.

I also really dislike how titles have a lot of stuff that the original Masters pay something for. I mean, stuff like Perdita1 vs Perdita2. Perdita1 actually had to discard a card for A Por El. Perdita2 cycles a card for it so it went from a cost to a benefit. She also summons without any requirements other than a low suited card while most original Masters need Markers or some other type of hoop jumping to Summon. And similar things are all over the titles - not trying to single out Perdita2 here!

I like costs to actions - I think it makes for more interesting decisions. But the new design philosophy seems to be abandoning them more and more.

Anyone else have similar feelings? Am I over reacting?

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Sounds like a reasonable summation to me. It's a bit of an inherent issue with Wyrd's release cycle conflicting with the Errata schedule. Old busted stuff gets nerfed a few months after new busted stuff gets released, which then feels unfair for those people trying to face new threats with old toys.  There isn't really a good solution. More frequent erratas help but consume resources and can alienate players in other ways, as well as running the risk of creating as many problems as they solve. Maybe the best approach would be to move the yearly errata to June and give it time to include the most recent release? Better to deal with broken models for only 9 months than 15... but it would still only leave a 3 month period before the next release wave hits and need to be contended with (in online Vassal environments at least).

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10 minutes ago, Azahul said:

 (in online Vassal environments at least).

I don't think Wyrd does (or should) balance with vassal in mind, but is there a difference for vassal in particular?

The rules are released for the physical world at the same time. Certainly with Malifaux Burns, I was playing those releases the week the rules were released.

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19 minutes ago, Maniacal_cackle said:

I don't think Wyrd does (or should) balance with vassal in mind, but is there a difference for vassal in particular?

The rules are released for the physical world at the same time. Certainly with Malifaux Burns, I was playing those releases the week the rules were released.

I tend to think the act of proxying adds an additional barrier to using a model in meatspace. Not a high barrier, but unless you're competitively minded it's enough to deter many players in my experience.

 

Consequently many players don't need to worry about new busted models until they release.

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19 minutes ago, Azahul said:

I tend to think the act of proxying adds an additional barrier to using a model in meatspace. Not a high barrier, but unless you're competitively minded it's enough to deter many players in my experience.

 

Consequently many players don't need to worry about new busted models until they release.

Well, sorta... But even if you don't directly play it, by the time you do play it, there'll be a wealth of knowledge on the internet of how to play it. For example, anyone starting Parker 2 now gets the benefits of your Benny build, or someone starting Molly 2 can go straight to my Hanged build. Months of tinkering can be skipped for those players that wait until physical release.

1 hour ago, Math Mathonwy said:

Anyone else have similar feelings? Am I over reacting?

I think this is just the state of the game, as Azahul alluded to.

Since the first expansion (Explorer's Society), new releases outpace balancing errata. And even if the playtest process tries its hardest, it is unlikely to catch everything broken.

That said... I think it is all remarkably well balanced for how much stuff came out. Titles are significantly better than non-titles I think (last I checked it was something like 83 wins for titles vs 59 wins for originals when they faced each other), but at least now the power level is spread over the various factions and there's no one faction or playstyle dominating.

If every faction gets broken at the same time, there's a lot more leeway!

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51 minutes ago, Maniacal_cackle said:

Well, sorta... But even if you don't directly play it, by the time you do play it, there'll be a wealth of knowledge on the internet of how to play it. For example, anyone starting Parker 2 now gets the benefits of your Benny build, or someone starting Molly 2 can go straight to my Hanged build. Months of tinkering can be skipped for those players that wait until physical release.

I don't disagree, but if you're only playing with physical models then the period of time in which you need to contend in a meta with broken models before they get nerfed is reduced. If Tara2 gets nerfed in March next year then someone who only has to worry about her post-model release only has to handle her for about 6-7 months rather than the 15 or so online players have delt with.

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For me it is the sheer quantity of stuff, rather than the specific power-level problems.

I've never played in the higher margins where the tightest balance design decisions are particularly relevant, so I'm not grossly concerned with Titles being a wee bit overtuned.

I did used to travel for the odd tournament safe in the knowledge that I knew roughly how everything plays though.

I can't lay my post-2020 lack of table time at Wyrd's feet, but learning Explorers (a faction people have said repeatedly "they aren't busted, but you must know them well in order to pick them apart") is enough grief without re-learning every Master and a few dozen new mostly-highly-relevant shared models.

That's as an old player - I can't guess how intimidating it would be as a new player.

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1 hour ago, DuBlanck said:

For me it is the sheer quantity of stuff, rather than the specific power-level problems.

I've never played in the higher margins where the tightest balance design decisions are particularly relevant, so I'm not grossly concerned with Titles being a wee bit overtuned.

I did used to travel for the odd tournament safe in the knowledge that I knew roughly how everything plays though.

I can't lay my post-2020 lack of table time at Wyrd's feet, but learning Explorers (a faction people have said repeatedly "they aren't busted, but you must know them well in order to pick them apart") is enough grief without re-learning every Master and a few dozen new mostly-highly-relevant shared models.

That's as an old player - I can't guess how intimidating it would be as a new player.

I think the answer to this is to just find strong 'question' crews and then know the things in the game that answer your question.

Trying to play answers means you not only have to be able to know all the masters in the game, but also predict which of the 8 masters you'll face, and then which of the two titles you'll face... often it is impossible to build a proper answer to both enemy titles.

So instead you should just pose your own questions is how I see MB.

For instance, rather than trying to answer enemy crews with Molly, I'm more likely to just build a crew like double hanged if I know they aren't likely to bring Ruthless. Or I bring an armored crew. Or whatever I think they can't answer.

Which is a bit of a shame. I felt Malifauxs answers was one of the most interesting things about the pregame.

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1 hour ago, Maniacal_cackle said:

I felt Malifauxs answers was one of the most interesting things about the pregame... often it is impossible to build a proper answer to both enemy titles.

This is no small part of it, yeah - the uniquely interesting bit of the game is "they declare X, commonly that means Y, confounding variables are Z, therefore I will ABC". Can't do that without somewhat in-depth knowledge of stuff, and counter-countering the main counters seems to be part of the purpose of some of the Title versions.

That is why the "just play a strong question crew" doesn't fly for me - if I'm just there to play a decently in-depth game, I can do that with a different system that doesn't take 2-3 hours.

 

This aspect of the "Title's are a problem" is sort of perpendicular to @Math Mathonwy's power-creep concerns, but I think might actually be more damaging to the game as a concept - crew selection in response to scenario is usually what I talk up as one of the best bits of Malifaux (aside from a decent core system), and Titles brutally derail the pick/counter-pick system.

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I'm not sure titles really impact counter teching too badly, for every wildly divergent pair like Seamus you get ones like Sonnia or Colette where the challenges posed are at least broadly similar. But that aside, this is always going to be a problem as new releases hit the shelves, and there isn't really an alternative to new releases. Wyrd needs to make money to stay solvent. Miniature companies make money primarily by releasing new models. We don't have access to their finances so we can really only assume the number of new releases was calibrated to allow Wyrd to remain financially viable as a company, which is really in all our best interests. But it will lead to pre-game teching for your opponent (rather than emphasising the pool) becoming inherently more difficult as the number of variables grows.

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45 minutes ago, im_open_to_suggestions said:

i have found in events and gaming nights I have attended that people tend to decide which title they like and stick with that rather than it being a mystery which version might be placed on the table.  eg if someone declares Lady J I would place my mortgage that i wont be facing the OG version.

 

I just play casually, but tend to find this. I'd imagine it might be more of a problem in competitive where people are trying to get every advantage possible, but for casual games with friends, titles have allowed us to explore keywords in different ways than before and play very different games because of this. I guess competitively, you need to be able to field a crew which can somewhat deal with both title options and not try to hard counter a specific one. It might leave you with a "non-ideal" crew, but the entire game hopefully won't be decided by a slightly weaker line up, there's still plenty of strategic decisions and flips to make.

 

1 hour ago, Azahul said:

I'm not sure titles really impact counter teching too badly, for every wildly divergent pair like Seamus you get ones like Sonnia or Colette where the challenges posed are at least broadly similar. But that aside, this is always going to be a problem as new releases hit the shelves, and there isn't really an alternative to new releases. Wyrd needs to make money to stay solvent. Miniature companies make money primarily by releasing new models. We don't have access to their finances so we can really only assume the number of new releases was calibrated to allow Wyrd to remain financially viable as a company, which is really in all our best interests. But it will lead to pre-game teching for your opponent (rather than emphasising the pool) becoming inherently more difficult as the number of variables grows.

This too. Wyrd is a company, which if it is to survive in the market, needs to release new things. It is a shame that with the current shipping woes, the next spoilers will be revealed way before all new titles are out, but that's life. As someone who enjoys playing Euripides and Anya, bit gutted about release order, but I won't whinge too much about that too much!

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11 hours ago, Maniacal_cackle said:

That said... I think it is all remarkably well balanced for how much stuff came out. Titles are significantly better than non-titles I think (last I checked it was something like 83 wins for titles vs 59 wins for originals when they faced each other), but at least now the power level is spread over the various factions and there's no one faction or playstyle dominating.

If every faction gets broken at the same time, there's a lot more leeway!

So let's be honest, here, not everyone has had a chance to play against the Titles to understand how to counter them. This would lead to an inordinate number of wins. As they start proliferating the community and people learn how to combat them, I expect things to even out. Some of the comments I've seen in this thread are more "It's new therefor scary" moreso than factual statements about why particular titles may be too strong.

 

Personally, the titles I've played (10T) have been hit or miss, some I hate compared to the original, some I love.

 

Overall, I have no doubt that some are too strong. Perfect balance is never going to happen. But fixing those should be handled more like a scalpel, targeting the few problem children, more so than bashing on the Titles concept as a whole. Honestly, I think it worked out far better than I expected it, too. And game balance is not the first problem I wish Wyrd would address... or even the second. Definitely top 3, though.

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5 hours ago, im_open_to_suggestions said:

i have found in events and gaming nights I have attended that people tend to decide which title they like and stick with that rather than it being a mystery which version might be placed on the table.  eg if someone declares Lady J I would place my mortgage that i wont be facing the OG version.

 

This is definitely one upside.

Especially for metas that require a painted crew, someone might assemble and paint a crew and then find everyone learns how to play against it within a few games.

Well, at least casually.

Here we travel for tournaments, so tournaments are always full of stuff we haven't encountered before (except the players like me who play tons of vassal xD)

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7 hours ago, Azahul said:

 Sonnia or Colette

Those are interesting examples as I find the titles very different.

Sonnia 1 you may be dealing with extreme burning and summons

Sonnia 2 you need places to ignore pyre markers, or marker removal.

Colette 1 you may want to bring ways to deal with her defensive trigger.

I find that both those masters can warp crew design.

7 hours ago, DuBlanck said:

That is why the "just play a strong question crew" doesn't fly for me - if I'm just there to play a decently in-depth game, I can do that with a different system that doesn't take 2-3 hours.

That is certainly true for me. It is the biggest disappointment for titles so far.

If I play a question crew I win a lot more, but I get bored of it sooooo fast (and once I'm bored I start losing again xD).

38 minutes ago, regleant said:

So let's be honest, here, not everyone has had a chance to play against the Titles to understand how to counter them. This would lead to an inordinate number of wins. As they start proliferating the community and people learn how to combat them, I expect things to even out. Some of the comments I've seen in this thread are more "It's new therefor scary" moreso than factual statements about why particular titles may be too strong.

Personally, the titles I've played (10T) have been hit or miss, some I hate compared to the original, some I love.

This is definitely a factor, and it will be a while before we know the true power of titles.

Though on the flip side, the title numbers are dragged down by people trying them out. It took me something like 6 or 7 games before I won my first game with Molly 2.

There's definitely some busted ones as well, but that's just the nature of new content.

Not to mention many masters aren't new. I've faced Perdita 2 ten or more times. Some players have faced Tara 2 a similar number of times.

The powerful stuff tends to get played more.

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3 hours ago, Maniacal_cackle said:

Those are interesting examples as I find the titles very different.

Sonnia 1 you may be dealing with extreme burning and summons

Sonnia 2 you need places to ignore pyre markers, or marker removal.

Colette 1 you may want to bring ways to deal with her defensive trigger.

I find that both those masters can warp crew design.

Haha, you and I look at different things. For me, both Sonnias are going to be a ranged AOE blaster and are going to put out a lot of burning. For Colette I know I'm going to be facing a highly mobile schemer I probably won't get to kill with the ability to kidnap my models (and a probably guaranteed chance of seeing the Duet). If I build against those aspects of their game plans then the other minor differences don't tend to phase me.

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41 minutes ago, Azahul said:

Haha, you and I look at different things. For me, both Sonnias are going to be a ranged AOE blaster and are going to put out a lot of burning. For Colette I know I'm going to be facing a highly mobile schemer I probably won't get to kill with the ability to kidnap my models (and a probably guaranteed chance of seeing the Duet). If I build against those aspects of their game plans then the other minor differences don't tend to phase me.

My Molly tinted glasses do have that effect xD

I do rely on extreme over-teching. I suspect 95% of the player base probably doesn't tech to that degree.

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On 5/13/2022 at 2:28 PM, Azahul said:

[Balance] is always going to be a problem as new releases hit the shelves, and there isn't really an alternative to new releases. Wyrd needs to make money to stay solvent. Miniature companies make money primarily by releasing new models.

I appreciate this is true, but it isn't really relevant to the discussion at hand - that of game health versus new releases.

If we're going to weight Wyrd's finances as part of the game balance/design discussion, we should be advocating in favour of power creep to sell new OP models and increase market share. The financial side of the business is adjacent to, but not really part of, the discussion we're having.

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2 hours ago, DuBlanck said:

I appreciate this is true, but it isn't really relevant to the discussion at hand - that of game health versus new releases.

If we're going to weight Wyrd's finances as part of the game balance/design discussion, we should be advocating in favour of power creep to sell new OP models and increase market share. The financial side of the business is adjacent to, but not really part of, the discussion we're having.

Sure, I just felt it was worth noting that the pre-game is going to become more challenging over the lifespan of the game. That doesn't have to mean power creep or a trend away from balance, but more options will inherently make predicting opposing tactics harder. Wishing for that that part of the game to remain as weighted as it is (or was pre-Malifaux Burns, or whenever you felt the balance was right) needs to be tempered with the knowledge that it isn't practicable to remain that way. Though you can certainly advocate for the rate of change to be slowed. Titles were a big dial change to go through at once. 

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I think since M3E started, there's been about 150 new cards...

That's about a 30% increase?  That's a huge rate.

It does raise the question of what the game looks like with a thousand cards? We can't be too far off a thousand cards if we stick with the current rate of release.

Certainly raises the prospect of DMH if they're going to continue to release at this speed.

Though there is an argument that Malifaux isn't meant to be a game where you learn all the crew. Just the local ones that people around you own. But even then, the challenges for Wyrd for keeping everything balanced seems very difficult.

Personally I think DMH is the least bad option, but don't really know how to reconcile that with how devastating it is to lose a painted crew.

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1 hour ago, Maniacal_cackle said:

Though there is an argument that Malifaux isn't meant to be a game where you learn all the crew. Just the local ones that people around you own. But even then, the challenges for Wyrd for keeping everything balanced seems very difficult.

The problem is that many crews are nearly impossible to beat when you face them for the first time if you are on an even remotely same skill level with your opponent. And the titles have stretched the design space even further creating even more complexities and possible gotchas that can easily decide a game. So tournaments are likely decided by match-up experience which can be quite random with local metas.

1 hour ago, Maniacal_cackle said:

Personally I think DMH is the least bad option, but don't really know how to reconcile that with how devastating it is to lose a painted crew.

I think that it is almost impossible to reconcile. We locally lost a ton of players to DMH and the keyword adjustments when M3e was introduced. Further killing off of crews would likely be a complete deathblow if it happened.

1 hour ago, Maniacal_cackle said:

Or really a fantastic option would be growing the player base...

I was just talking about this with a friend of mine. He is demoing for a couple of people this week - one who played quite a bit of M2e but fell off with the edition change and one new person. The new person is a bit more competitively minded and we kinda feel that Malifaux is very tough sell for competitive people these days as the mental investment in getting good is so enormous.

And, weirdly enough, we also feel that the strength of Malifaux is in the competitive side of things. We both play an absolute ton of minis games and for beer and pretzels we have a dozen or so games that fit the bill better than Malifaux. For tournament games, the list is way shorter. In fact, I would argue that most minis games really aren't very good at all for serious competitive play. But that strength of Malfauxs really difficult to realize for new players as getting "tournament ready" for a competitive player in Malifaux is an absolutely massive undertaking these days.

When Guild Ball died it mentioned in its epitaph blog one of the main reasons behind the death as being the competitive players. Which was quite rightly mocked (as they were the ones keeping the game afloat and building the communities and so on) but there was a grain of truth to it as well. GB was so incredibly skill intensive that a noob would get absolutely trounced for a dozen or so games against experienced players and the very top players were absolute machines sporting records of like 95% win rates in tournaments and stuff like that. The competitive scene was almost impenetrable for newbies and I kinda feel that Malifaux is going the same way. And of course this wasn't the competitive players' fault but the game rewarding mastery to such an incredibly level. Which is probably what many people wanted but I can totally see it contributing to the game's death.

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1 hour ago, Math Mathonwy said:

The problem is that many crews are nearly impossible to beat when you face them for the first time if you are on an even remotely same skill level with your opponent. And the titles have stretched the design space even further creating even more complexities and possible gotchas that can easily decide a game. So tournaments are likely decided by match-up experience which can be quite random with local metas.

I think it's much more nuanced than this. First of all, Malifaux rewards crew mastery. If you take 2 average player, one with a crew he's playing for a while and the second with a new master that he has pick up (even if he has played a couple of game with it), the player with the most experience with his own crew is the most likely to win.

If you play competitively, you'll quickly see all the more powerful option if you're in a big enough meta or what you local player like to bring (if you're in a smaller meta)... In both case, the "gotcha" moments from MB will quickly be a thing of the past. If people brings fringe masters, they will benefit from the unfamiliarity of their oponent against them, but they also likely have to play less powerful option... in most game you're better with the tried and true powerhouse if you want to win, exept if you found something that nobody else did yet... Wich can happen in the first few months of MB, but people will catch up quickly (you know internet)... 

Finally, I'm totally fine with someone spiking a tournament with something new and refreshing (as long as it's not oppressive bulshit)... This is how we avoid a stall meta.

Imo a stale game is much more dangerous than a big change.

* * *

I totally agree that the strength of Malifaux is in the competitive aspect of the game (and in it's great mini and lore).

This is not an easy game and it doesn't reward casual play... But the game mechanics are incredible and allowed an almost chess like experience, with just enough RNG to keep it interesting. I think this can appeal to a lot of competitive player...

Wyrd should definitely strengthen the casual par of the game : making rules for legacy / campaigns play ; more random outcome and special encounter and even a coop mode are all things that worh exploring.

 

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32 minutes ago, SEV said:

I think it's much more nuanced than this. First of all, Malifaux rewards crew mastery. If you take 2 average player, one with a crew he's playing for a while and the second with a new master that he has pick up (even if he has played a couple of game with it), the player with the most experience with his own crew is the most likely to win.

Definitely! But I was talking about tournaments and I generally expect competitive tournament players to be familiar with their own crews in a tournament environment.

32 minutes ago, SEV said:

If you play competitively, you'll quickly see all the more powerful option if you're in a big enough meta or what you local player like to bring (if you're in a smaller meta)... In both case, the "gotcha" moments from MB will quickly be a thing of the past. If people brings fringe masters, they will benefit from the unfamiliarity of their oponent against them, but they also likely have to play less powerful option... in most game you're better with the tried and true powerhouse if you want to win, exept if you found something that nobody else did yet... Wich can happen in the first few months of MB, but people will catch up quickly (you know internet)... 

Ironically, with the balance getting better, I find that the problem kinda gets worse since the power gap is smaller. In early M2e it seemed that well over half of Neverborn tournament games were against Dreamer. But now that the balance is better you can kinda run into anything and there are very few true pushovers left so facing a new Master in competitive hands is a tough deal.

And, I mean, I totally support balancing efforts! But in a weird way they make the problem of Master diversity worse.

Also, as mentioned, the new Titles have a lot of Masters with very weird playstyles that at least I cannot grasp until I see them in action.

Finally, at least here, the metas are quite small and cross-pollination between cities is minimal outside of tournaments. So when a tournament happens, you get three or four small metas colliding and you are very likely to run into something new. My meta has, quite randomly, minimal Arcanist representation, for example, so I still haven't played a single M3e game against Sandeep or Toni or Kaeris and haven't faced any of the Arcanist titles. (I have Toni from M2e myself but the keyword shuffle meant that I don't have a crew for her...)

32 minutes ago, SEV said:

Finally, I'm totally fine with someone spiking a tournament with something new and refreshing (as long as it's not oppressive bulshit)... This is how we avoid a stall meta.

Imo a stale game is much more dangerous than a big change.

This is fair, I think, but it does kinda suck from a competitive point of view. At least IMO.

 

And I realize that I'm mostly criticizing here but I wish to note that

  1. I don't have answers. I don't know what Wyrd should do to keep the game alive yet accessible from a competitive perspective.
  2. I think that the conversation has been good and I really appreciate the opinions and views offered even if I (seem to) disagree with some.
  3. As noted, I still think that Malifaux is one of the better competitive minis games and on my painting desk there's currently minis for eight different skirmish minis games...
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42 minutes ago, Maniacal_cackle said:

I think since M3E started, there's been about 150 new cards...

That's about a 30% increase?  That's a huge rate.

It does raise the question of what the game looks like with a thousand cards? We can't be too far off a thousand cards if we stick with the current rate of release.

Certainly raises the prospect of DMH if they're going to continue to release at this speed.

I think that on average for the past 10 years, they have added around 50 models a year, which largely works out as 5 models a month being released each month ( obviously this doesn't account for new sculpts of existing models, or new rules for existing sculps either from errata or edition changes). 

I think it's likely that they will continue to add 50-70 new profiles every year, which when you split them across 8 factions, or 50 ish masters, isn't that big an addition. ( but it can be a lot to learn to face).

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