Sunday, August 04, 2013

M2E Beta: Perdita Ortega Has A Dozen Ways To Shoot You

Malifaux second edition brings a handful of change to how Masters function and to what their role is on the tabletop.  The changes to Soulstones have rounded off the extremes of their game play, both offensively and defensively, moving them slightly towards the middle of the power curve.  That having been said, they are still very much the centerpiece of your Crew, a unique tool to apply exceptional pressure to your schemes and strategies.  Has the streamlining of M2E resulted in the oversimplification of Masters?

Let's Do The Math

To get a handle on the changes that Masters have faced we will continue to use Perdita as an example, taking a look here at her total utility.  In Malifaux 1.5, Perdita had 15 different functions, each identified by its own boldface title.  In M2E, that list has been shortened to eight.  At first glance then, it seems that she has indeed been downgraded.

As you dig deeper though, New Perdita's comparative depth begins to reveal itself.  Some of her 1.5 functions we counted earlier were actually Triggers.  Her M2E version also has Triggers, but these are now listed as sub-headings under the associated Action and not as discrete entries in their own right.  Perdita has two different Triggers on her main attack, Witched Bullet and Critical Strike.  Adding these to our total, New Perdita's utility count is up to ten.

Perdita 1.5 had a useful ability called Gunslinger which allowed her to use her pistol as a melee weapon, an ability absent from her M2E incarnation.  Her card also shows no sign of her powerful (+1) Fast.  In both of these cases, the abilities aren't missing as much as they have been cleverly integrated into the new rules set to give a more seamless experience.  The Perdita's Peacebringer Attack Action now lists its range as both Ranged 14 and Melee 2, encompassing the Gunslinger functionality.  Her absent Fast got taken care of with an even broader brush.  In 1.5, every Master in the game had access to an additional (generally specific) AP through such abilities as Melee Expert or Casting Expert.  Now, as a standard rule, all Masters are allocated 3 general AP at the start of their activation.  This perfectly replaces Perdita's Fast, so she is now up to 12 in the utility count.

New Perdita is also missing See the Unseen and Bullet Bending, both of which have received major changes in how they work but are now available on her Upgrade cards.  See the Unseen is not quite as powerful as it once was, but Bullet Bending became a lot more useful, no longer requiring a successful cast or imposing a penalty on Perdita when she uses it. Adding them to our total brings us up to 14 options versus the 15 on her older self.  So really, what has she lost?

Out With The Old

A brief comparison shows that she has lost Immune to Influence, Evasive 2, Anticipation, Spellbreaker and Execute.  Arguably one of Perdita's most broken ability in first edition, Immune to Influence seems to have gone by the wayside for everybody in the new edition, not appearing on any Beta profile.  Instead, Perdita now has access to Stubborn, giving her opponents a negative flip when they target her willpower. The loss of Evasive 2 is compensated with access to Bulletproof +2, which to me signals a thematic change in the character more towards being a gunfighter (more on that later).

In the end, Perdita has lost only three abilities that have not been replaced with a similar function: Anticipate, Spellbreaker and Execute.  In the context of a new rule set, I consider these the only true losses as they are areas of the game she no longer has access to.  Perdita no longer has an offensive deck-shaping attack, a team condition-removal spell or a low-accuracy, high damage flip attack.

In With The New

In exchange for her three lost abilities we discussed above, Perdita has picked up access to over a dozen new functions, a veritable arsenal of ways to affect the game. There is a theme here - New Perdita cares a lot less about spell casting, both her own and her opponents', and a lot more about shooting.  She has six new abilities all about putting lead into her enemies: Point Blank, Witched Bullet, Geometric,  True Mark, Leadstorm and Vengeance Bullet.  As the head of her household, she has a renewed focus on teamwork, emphasized by her open-ended Companion ability, Relocate, Cover Me, Circular and Ortega Presence.  If her survivability is an issue, she can pick up Thalarian Doctrine or Badge of Office to help keep her on the table, and if there is a strategy or scheme that simply must be completed, she can grab Plant Evidence and Finish the Job.

This total base of functions, between her new card abilities and her available Upgrades, means that Perdita now has access to a total of 26 Abilities, Actions and Triggers, an increase of 11 over her original incarnation.  Future editions may very well increase this number even higher.  The chief difference here is that you now have to make significant choices when you choose Perdita, choosing and paying for the ones you want to bring.

Wait, I Have To Pay For Them?

Well yes, you do.  This seems to be a sticking point for a number of people in the community, the feeling that we are being forced to pay for something that was previously free strikes a deep blow to the human psyche.  I think it's important to remember though that we always paid for our Master; We paid for them with our Master slot, our most valuable Crew creation resource we had.  In addition, games of Malifaux are played with larger stone totals now, without being larger in terms of number of models fielded, so we are paying the higher prices from a larger pool of stones.

This might sound like I'm splitting hairs, but let's do the math here.  In Malifaux 1.5, Perdita's crew box cost 25ss leaving Perdita with a cache of 2.  In M2E, the same selection of models costs 29ss with the same cache of 2.  But Malifaux 1.5 recommended the game be played between 30ss and 35ss for a standard game while M2E recommends playing with 50ss, all of which means that you have an additional 15 to 20 Soulstones to cover the cost of your more expensive models and the upgrades they need.

Here's an example of what you can do with the additional Soulstones using Perdita's first edition starter:

Malifaux 1.5 (35ss Game):

  • Perdita, Francisco, Santiago, Nino, Papa Loco. Cache of 7.
  • 5 Soulstones Remaining.

M2E (50ss Game):

  • Perdita (Aura Ancestral, Os Veo, Trick Shooting), Francisco (Wade In, Diestro), Santiago (Tormenta De Plumo), Nino (Hair Trigger), Papa Loco. Cache of 7. 
  • 5 Soulstones Remaining.
In this particular build, Perdita is able to catch her entire 1.5 edition essence along with some added general utility while still keeping her Crew together.  She even has the budget to upgrade the rest of her crew with a few choice abilities.

With the Beta for book one closed and the books themselves off to the printer, the time for player input is over.  What we do know is that there was also a final round of closed-door play-testing done by Wyrd prior to shipping off the rules, so we may still see some changes in the finished book.  When I finally get my hands on Malifaux M2E Book One we will revisit Perdita and get more specific on her options.

Thanks for reading.

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