Thursday, 23 February 2012

playing faster

I noticed a tweet the other day that got me wondering about game length.  Why does it take so long to play a game of Malifaux?  Or, does it take that long to play, really?
My games take hours, start at nine, stop at midnight and we may not be finished.  Why is that?
Surely a game with so few figures can't take that long?  We used to get a 1000-1500 point warhammer game done in the same space of time, so why so long?

(c) Wyrd Miniatures
Well, as per usual with this type of question I believe there are a number of factors.

Firstly I don't think everyone takes this long.  At tournaments there's a set time span and many people are perfectly capable of, and used to, playing to shorter time scales.

So, if it is possible to play more quickly, what can we do to speed things up?  Here are some ideas, they may or may not work for you.

Learn the rules.  Rules queries can take an age to sort out, if you know the rules you'll get fewer queries.  You may not eliminate them but you will reduce them.

Learn the rules. Learn the rules for your crew, as well as you know the core rules, better even.  Study the card on every model, if it interacts or changes core rules do your research on how this will affect the normal resolution of that rule.  If there's anything particularly gnarly I'd suggest you let your opponent know prior to starting, there's nothing will de-rail the progress of a game quite like coming up with some nasty rule mid-game that wrecks our opponents game and seems to contradict what he was expecting.

Learn the rules.  If you can, learn the rules for your opponents crew too.  This won't always be possible but regular reading of the rules books should give at least a passing idea of what your opponents crew can do.

Set a time limit on rules queries, 2 minutes, 5 minutes, whatever works for you, if you haven't found it by then, flip for it and resolve it later, you really don't want to spend 10, 15 or even 20 minutes searching for an answer to a question mid-game.  But make a note so you don't forget to look it up later.

Make sure you know the set-up and game turn sequence off by heart.  What happens next? is a massive slower of games.

Make decisions quicker.  I like to take my time with each and every figure, even if it's obvious what to do, but agonising over each decision will sloooww down a game so much.  Be thinking about what to do whilst your opponent moves, when he's done then.. snap, make that decision, make the move, take the shot.  I believe you can train yourself to do this.  Knowing your crew well will help here, make sure you don't miss anything.  If you have to read every crew members card each turn whilst you decide which action you want to take.. you will have a slow game.

Plan ahead.  Think of the game prior to playing.  If you know which crew you want to take have a general plan, an idea of what you want to do with that crew.  Yes, strategies, schemes and an unkown until you play opposing crew may require a change, but a basic idea of what order your crew members need to go in and what they need to do will help making those decisions.

Play more.  Easiest and simplest answer is that the more you play the less any of these issues will be a problem.  Play as often as you can and you will learn the rules, you will know the turn sequence and you will make decisions faster.

To take it back to WarHammer (sorry), the reason those games took less time was we'd been playing for more years than Malifaux has existed, even though it changed every 4 or 5 years it was still pretty much the same game, so after each change there was a period where games took longer, it didn't last long and we'd be back up to speed again.  Read your books & cards more often, play more often, have a game plan and don't get stuck on rules queries and I think you'll soon be playing faster.

Hope this was of some interest or even help.  Do you have any ideas for speeding up games?  If so, please comment below and let me know.


  1. I think the biggest thing that delays Malifaux when compared to a GW game is not exactly it's complexity, but the fact it requires players to make decisions.

    In any game of 40k, your decisions are pretty much limited to "walk forwards vs stand still" then "who shall I shoot?". In Fantasy you're basically limited to walking towards whichever unit was deployed opposite you until a combat occurs. When it does you just roll dice until it finishes. No decisions.

    In contrast, Malifaux players need to make decisions constantly. Every single AP is a decision. Every duel contains several decisions. Players brought up on GW games are unlikely to have the confidence to make these decisions quickly due to it being such a different way of playing.

    At the end of the day, it's what makes Malifaux much more interesting and fun in comparison.


  2. Nicely put, 40k and to a lesser extent WHFB are much simpler in essence requiring less thought. The results of those simpler decisions can be complex, but the decisions themselves are more simple as opposed to Malifaux, where, as you say, each AP is a decision to be made with more at stake than just move/shoot/direction & target. Which is why I suggest knowing your crew is important, not having to review what decisions are open to you each turn will speed things up :-)