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So I've been scratching my stitches lately, and wanted to share my thoughts on balancing Puppet Wars: Unstitched.


The first, and imho the most important, point is this - Puppet Wars: Unstitched is not Malifaux. You can't balance PWU with the same mindset and processes one might apply during a Malifaux playtest. As I've said before, PWU is a brutal game balanced by imbalances. What might seem broken in any other game works just fine in PWU, so long as you don't take it too seriously.


But if PWU is a game built on imbalances, then how do you know when something is actually broken?


Well I'm glad I asked, because I have a process I go through now. Whether it's a model, a combo or effect, just ask yourself these simple questions:


1. How does it affect the game?

- Is this something that ends the game, takes a model out of action, etc.

2. How much set-up/resources does it require?

- Cards, models, positioning, animations, timing, etc.

3. Can it be foreseen/countered?

- What you can do to prevent or mitigate it.

4. Does the cost justify its effect?

- Pay the price, reap the rewards.


So let's take the ever popular Misaki, for an example:


1. How does it affect the game?

- She can rush the enemy workbench early on.

2. How much set-up/resources does it require?

- Animatingt Misaki on a 2, preferably playing a high card so she goes last, suffer a rip to activate twice.

3. Can it be forseen/countered?

- By an educated player, yes, and there are plenty of counters.

4. Does the cost justify the effect?

- Misaki is easy to activate, but the number of counters means that increasing the costs to increase chance of success becomes more and more of a gamble.


So in this case, it is the ability to counter Misaki that balances her, rather than the cost/resources required for her to be badass. This is one of PWU most common means of balancing things. So in general, the fewer counters to the effect, the higher the cost required to pull it off should be.


With that in mind, let's take an example form the current playtest, Marcus:


1. How does it affect the game?

- Marcus' Tag You're It can move any effect on a puppet within range 3 to another puppet in range 3. Effects include Exhausted, Burning, Paralyzed, Confused, Stuck, Powerful +1, etc. This means you can refresh your own puppets while exhausting an enemy, and effectively brush off any conditions they throw at you.

2. How much set-up/resources does it require?

- Animating Marcus on a 6+, who must be placed within range 3 of both puppets he wishes to target beforehand, but with move 3 he can position himself easily enough in a previous animation.

3. Can it be foreseen/countered?

- Opponents will know it's there, but the more targets available, the harder it'll be to avoid. A player can try and avoid Marcus, but range 3 is quite a wide net. Trying to kill Marcus is probably the best option, but killing any master is easier said than done.

4. Does the cost justify its effect?

- Not really.


I've played Marcus a few times. I'm well aware that I never use my master to full effect in PWU, so I do struggle a little bit with masters like Marcus and Seamus. But I did manage to pull of some tricks, such as moving Exhausted around. I feel a canny player could get a great deal of use out of this ability, to the point where it would become a negative play experience for some people.


So in conclusion, there is a fine line between what is and isn't balanced in PWU, but there is still a line. It just takes an open mind to see it =]


Hope this has offered some food for thought, thanks for reading =]

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  • 3 weeks later...

Not sure what you think is unbalanced with the (original) game. Been playing regulalry and we have found that most games could go either way, and although the game length can vary massively, tis is not a problem over an evening's gaming.


Hoping to get some playtest games in shortly - just used Lucius once so far.

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