Having only recently gotten into Malifaux, I was interested to see the launch of the open beta for the Wave 3 models and rules. I like the openness that Wyrd is showing by inviting their fans into the development process and would love to see more companies adopting a similar outlook.
The biggest changes that are coming with this wave seem to be the alterations to Avatars, the powerful alternative versions of each master that may be manifested for short periods of time. The old models for these avatars are, im many cases, quite gorgeous. Here a couple of my favourites:
Justin outlines the changes to be made in an open letter to fans and potential testers:
I know that Avatars are going to be a hot topic during this playtest, so I wanted to start this thread both to give you a place to discuss them and so that you can have all of the details about what is going on with them. Avatars are going through three major changes:
1) The story involving them will be advancing with this book. Nothing from past books will be retconned, but in Malifaux’s usual way the world is growing and changing. Basically, it becomes clear that changing into an Avatar is a dangerous process due to the sheer power involved. This becomes apparent when a relatively major character assumes Avatar form and is killed in the process. So all of the other major players in Malifaux learn to channel the powers granted them by the Event in different ways. This means that manifesting is more of a spiritual process than a physical one with characters surrounded by auras of power rather than changing physical shape.
2) Avatars will only be available to use during the game while playing a Campaign. This means Avatars will essentially become optional, non-competitive rules (don’t panic! see below…). Of course, if two players agree to both use Avatars during a non-Campaign game they are free to do so, but they will not be tournament legal. The Avatar rules are not receiving an errata, however every Avatar Upgrade which we print will have the “Campaign” trait, meaning it is an Upgrade only available for use during the Campaign. This means we’re keeping open the option to release non-Campaign Avatars in the future. While I’m glad this option is remaining open to us, I should stress that we have no plans to take advantage of it.
3) Masters will not receive their own avatar sculpts. Instead, each Faction will receive a single Avatar sculpt. This sculpt will be more of a base insert than a model. It will be 50mm with a place to slot in a model on a 30mm base. So, for example, the Guild Avatar Sculpt might be a pillar of flames on a 50mm base with a slot for a 30mm base on top which you can put your master on. The Resurrectionist avatar might be a bunch of Undead hands protruding from the earth carrying a throne which you can slot your 30mm Master base on top of, etc etc (these are just me guessing, nothing final). In this way there will only be seven avatar sculpts, each themed to a Faction, which act more like base inserts. I should stress that these base inserts will only be necessary while using the avatars during the campaign and only if you don’t have the original sculpts. For using avatar models outside of the campaign we have something much more interesting…
If you have the older Master specific Avatar models, you are still more than welcome to use them as Avatars in campaign games. As for tournaments and other competitive events, you need not fear – we have plans to ensure that your old Avatar sculpts do not become obsolete. Instead, this book will also be adding a series of new, large based centerpiece models, for which the old Avatars will be legal proxies in tournaments. These new models are called the “Emissaries of Fate.” Story-wise they represent the seven Faction Effigies taking on the power of the event and assuming their own sort of avatar forms. Each Faction will receive one Emissary of Fate, and any Avatar in that Faction will be a legal proxy for it during a regular game of Malifaux (for example, Avatar Seamus, Avatar Nicodem, etc will all be legal proxies for the Carrion Emissary). To ensure that these Emissaries are properly synergized with each Master, every Emissary will receive one 0 SS Upgrade per Master which can take it which is themed to that Master. So, again using the Carrion Emissary as an example, while using it with Nicodem, you can equip it with the free Upgrade associated with Nicodem and it has lots of interactions with Mindless Zombies, but when using it with Seamus you attach Seamus’ free Upgrade to it and all of a sudden it heals when enemy models fail Wp duels. In this way the Emissaries are themed to each Master in such a way that proxying in the Master’s Avatar for it makes sense. I should also mention that we will, of course, be making a cool sculpt for each Emissary, giving each Faction a big, impressive, centerpiece model. And, finally, I feel obligated to mention that the Emissaries have no weird hiring restrictions. You don’t need to manifest them. You can take them outside of the campaign. They don’t restrict you from taking the normal Effigy. Just pay their points and put them on the board.
Alright, I know that’s a lot to stomach. Before you reply let me explain why we are making these changes. There are two major reasons, and the first is economic.
The whole idea behind Avatars is that they were going to be these big, impressive centerpiece models. The problem with big, impressive models is that they are expensive. And, unfortunately, we combined this expense with the most limitations in the game. Each Avatar is linked specifically to a certain Master. Now, assuming it is properly balanced it won’t be an auto include, so that Master would only want the Avatar some of the time. So, taking the Lady Justice Avatar as an example, only Lady Justice players would ever be interested in it and, if we balanced it properly, only some of the time. This means that we have taken these huge, expensive models and made them the most difficult to sell models in the entire line (totems used to have the same problem; they come automatically in box sets now for a reason, and they’re a lot cheaper than Avatars).
The cost of the models combined with their niche nature means that they will be apt to sit on store shelves. This puts a huge strain on the game stores and distributors with whom we do business. Considering that we would be committing to pumping out 39 of these things, it puts a huge strain on Wyrd. And, finally, since these things were going to end up costing between 50 and 75 dollars retail, it puts a huge strain on you, the player. For the cost of an Avatar you could get a whole new Crew. Assuming we made Avatars good enough to be desirable we essentially doubled the cost of playing the game over night. And forcing new purchases through power creep was simply not something we are willing to do. We firmly believe that our customers will be happier (and spend more money, let’s be honest, this isn’t charity) when we design fun things they *want* to buy, rather than expensive things which they are *required* to buy.
The second reason for this change is due to the game mechanics themselves. Avatars have a lot of baggage both due to expectations from the fluff and the previous edition. Avatars need to be ultra powerful, but available only for a limited number of Turns. They need to replace your Master, but still be worth taking (I have a whole blog post on it here: http://justindrawingdead.com/?p=140). And while I’m sure we could hit the mark on some, even most, of the Avatars, 39 is just too many. Relegating Avatars to the campaign allows us to do some more fun things with them which better fit people’s expectations, as the Campaign is by definition both optional and less regulated than the regular game. Also, the changing story will hopefully help to temper some of those expectations.
Whatever your opinions, please be polite to your fellow posters here.
Alright, that’s what is happening. I know not everyone is going to like it, but this is a situation where we couldn’t make everyone happy. If you love this change, I am genuinely happy for you. If you hate it and you feel cheated, I genuinely apologize. But whatever you think about this direction, it is the final one. This is what is happening with Avatars.
Having not used Avatars myself, and having only really started the game in the current edition, this is not a disruptive or upsetting change for me, and I really like what they are doing.
That said, what do I know? I only played my first game last night, and most of that was just experimenting to get my head around the rules. I enjoyed it though, and am really looking forward to a proper game next week.
If anyone is interested in taking part in the beta, the discussion and relevant files can be found on the wave 3 beta forum.