Reading through the rules for Schemes and Strategies in the new version of the game, it is very telling that Wyrd is no longer allowing people to create a cookie-cutter match. Giving a player 4-6 choices of schemes makes choosing your own schemes a challenge, but also forces you to consider what your opponent can take depending on their faction. Another change is the fact that Wyrd made these Schemes and Strategies either a) difficult to pull off as in “Make Them Suffer” (half wounds to the entire crew at once) or b) Easy to complete with Scheme markers but easily be countered by the opponent since the enemy can destroy them by spending the same Interact actions.
At the same time, Wyrd also reduced the amount of turns to 5. This is, in my opinion, the largest change for it asks the player, “Which is more important, completing your missions now or risking models to counter the opponent’s models/schemes?” Before in Malifaux 1.5, the 6th or 5th turn usually happened after one side or the other has killed/countered the other side to the point of irrelevance. This gave the winners the ability to take their time to complete their strategies or schemes later in the match. The playerbase received a hint of a change coming when new multiplayer strategies were released where points were gained throughout the game and not at the end.
During the previous version, players would rush out their schemes on turn 1 or 2 and then spend the rest of the game acting as the foil to everything the other team tries to do if they have not completed them already. These matches, when playing against them as the opponent, were really just a lesson how one player knows the game inside and out while they other did not. I understand one list being really fast compared to other lists, but when all Arcanists take “Sabotage” to an easy 2, uncounterable, points there was something altogether wrong. It wasn’t just Collette that was good in completing it, each Master could run a legal crew with minions that can run to the other side of the board and touch a tree to somehow Sabotage the other crew.
Most of the objective based schemes are back, but require some form of use of the Interact ability that all non-Peon models. Sabotage, if it still existed, would probably require a minion to walk up to the objective and use the Interact action for 1 AP to drop a 30mm marker touching the objective. The scheme is consider “done” but unlike Sabotage, the scheme can be countered by the other team by moving a minion to un-Sabotage the objective. This is amazing. What is even more amazing is the fact there is no 6th turn to look forward to to wrap up everything!
The power of the different types of models range from the Leaders/Masters, the Henchmen, the Enforcers, Minions and the Peons (who cannot complete objectives but serve as a cheap utility knife). The Minion class models are the models you can buy many of but, by themselves, they have things they are good at but are equally weighed down with negatives such as very randomly degress of other stats such as movement or defenses. The upside is they all can interact on objectives which still makes them important to fulfill objectives or prevent objectives from being taken since a Scheme marker cannot be dropped is the dropper is engaged in combat with any enemy. A soggy ball of cardboard, if it was attacking an objective runner, would be enough to make the enemy spend one precious 1 AP to kill it off but that is one less AP to run away from the Bigger Soggy Ball of Cardboard barreling towards them. To complete the schemes, the objective grabbers have to be protected and if they survive dropping the Schemes the Schemes need to be protected from being removed; both of these tasks are usually suited for Enforcers, Henchmen, and Masters. What is interesting is that this allows Wyrd to create models that are Scheme-centric and turns Leaps, Nimble (1 free ap for moving), and Reckless (1 free ap for 1 Wd) into amazing skills to have (not that they are weren’t already great in 1.5, but it put them in a new light*)
To sum up, I am enjoying the game because fewer Activactions are doled out which causes some tough questions that need to answered during the course of the game. Examples such as:
- Can a Henchmen have to answer a Minion on turn 4 and can they get back safely to drop another marker?
- Should a Master waste time doing cleanup tasks on removing Scheme markers or will this model be able to break away from combat to do it themselves?
- Kill an enemy model first and then drop a Scheme or decide to drop a Scheme elsewhere?
- If an enemy chooses two Schemes that involve markers, should you concentrate on killing models to reduce the number of Scheme droppers or should you drop as many as you can and hope you can remove enough to give yourself a new lead?
The fewer turns make the game feel very different and was the first thing I felt happening in the Public Beta test as being the feature that makes the game feel more close and high paced.
* In my opinion, Wyrd needs to watch the prevalence of maneuvering/attacking abilities. This power creep made some models in books immediately useless in 1.5 if it did not have any extra AP in anything.