I'm mythicFOX a UK Malifaux Henchman, tournament regular, film nut, and all round geek.
Also the Malifaux devil, apparently.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Announcing Schemes Before Events

I mentioned in a previous post that I favour announcing schemes in advance of an event, and following recent discussions on social media I thought I'd expand on why.

The current default for events in the UK is to only provide strategy and deployment in advance and scheme pool on the day of the event.  I'd like to see this change, so that the default is to announce the entire scenario in advance (barring terrain and opposing faction for obvious reasons).

To my mind there are three advantages to doing this;

Time Saving
Tournaments are often pushed for time and fitting enough rounds of Malifaux into a day is a tricky thing.  Providing; strategy, schemes and deployment ahead of time would allow players to be better prepared, and shave some time off crew selection each round. It will help more games get to turn five.

Fewer non-Games
Malifaux is at times a game of mistakes. I've lost count of the number of games my opponents have lost during scheme selection. I always think this is a bit of a shame, and it's certainly not fun for either player. By giving players the opportunity to think about games in advance and avoid auto-lose pitfalls it means we'll have more games where one player hasn't lost before the deployment flip.

More interesting crews
Discussing the tactics with friends and tinkering with lists is fun in itself. Right now thinking on the fly players more often than not play it safe and stick to the same options every time. Giving objective sets in advance gives players more opportunity to play with ideas and come up with more interesting builds.  This will make games more diverse and raise the standard of play.


So what're the arguments against announcing schemes in advance? Two are commonly deployed;

Crew selection 'on the fly' is an important skill
Tournament games are time limited as a practicality, not because the game itself demands they be timed. Where possible the game should be about players making the best decisions they can, not testing their reaction times.

That said even with this proposal in place players will still need to react to the terrain and opposing faction. So even if this is a skill we want in the game, it's not invalidated by this change. Skilled players can still use their experience to react and build to take advantage of terrain and opposition.

Time to prepare makes it too easy for experienced players
The truth is with ten minutes or ten days to prepare experienced players are far more likely to build a better crew and pick the right schemes than a new player.  I suspect any advantage veterans did gain will be more than offset by the games they won't auto-win in early rounds because a new player didn't see how a particular scheme interaction would work given five minutes prep time.


TLDR:  I think this change would enable more tournament games to play the full five turns, raise the standard of play at all levels of the game, and lead to more interesting and fun games overall.


I'm aware a number of prominent people disagree with me on this. I want to be clear that I very much respect these people and their opinions. I'm perfectly capable of getting along with people I disagree with.


5 comments:

Joe Girard said...

I see both sides of it. In the us scene it's more common to reveal the entire scenario a few days before the event or longer in the larger con sphere. For gencon I utilized a split method, fully announced strategy and scheme pools prior to the event. But the win and your avatar finals we keep under wraps by round. While building at the table yes is a skill. I tend to list tinker a lot away from the table and just pull out a preformed idea in games. From a to perspective having run both style events announce and unannounced pools. And can see a remarkable speed difference in the crew creation process probably 5 minutes savings or more on average. In many cases that five minutes means a full 5 turns done. I think having fuller ideas of the scenarios ahead of time also makes for more interesting list builds and for potential to build around different schemes than usual.

Joe Girard said...

I see both sides of it. In the us scene it's more common to reveal the entire scenario a few days before the event or longer in the larger con sphere. For gencon I utilized a split method, fully announced strategy and scheme pools prior to the event. But the win and your avatar finals we keep under wraps by round. While building at the table yes is a skill. I tend to list tinker a lot away from the table and just pull out a preformed idea in games. From a to perspective having run both style events announce and unannounced pools. And can see a remarkable speed difference in the crew creation process probably 5 minutes savings or more on average. In many cases that five minutes means a full 5 turns done. I think having fuller ideas of the scenarios ahead of time also makes for more interesting list builds and for potential to build around different schemes than usual.

Tao said...

Speaking as a "new to the game" player, I would prefer to know in advance. The amount of variables it takes to get crew selection right is huge for a new player to do in the limited time they are given before a match.

So looking at it from growing the community in mind, I would say yes go to fully announced. Anything that makes it easier for the newer players has to be good for the community as a whole to grow. Tournament based Malifaux is still to small in the gaming scene to be risking pushing people away from the competitive scene

Eusier said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I am organising a tournament, so will take this into consideration. So far I have planned 15 minutes extra for scheme + crew selection for each game. Sounds like a solid in-between solution. But as this is the first tournament for M2E around here, and the first tournament for a lot of players, I am going to consider publishing the schemes in advance as well.

Craig said...

I'm with you on this one. I also think that "building on the fly" gets a lot less fun, the longer the event goes on. Playing at AdeptiCon and building my 7th crew of the day at midnight is a test of endurance more than anything, but if I'm able to start based on some notes I took a few days earlier it saves some much needed brain power to actually play the game in front of me. :)