Recently there has been an explosion of people getting started in Malifaux in the North East. I have previously mentioned the numerous beginners attending Worhamma in Sunderland, but there is also a beginners tournament being run in Middlesborough and a new league being run in Bishop Aukland. This, however, seems to have caused some worrying about disparity in player level. The beginners tournament has changed their rules so that you can only have two pre-decided lists to chose from in all of your games in order to try and stop people with larger collections gaining an unfair advantage. I thought today it would be interesting to discuss what goes through my mind when I play and how I don't change the way I play against beginners.
I think one of the important things when you play a game is that your opponent must know what is going on. It is particularly difficult in Malifaux because every model has many special rules, but you should always let your opponent know what's happening. This does mean when playing a beginner the game will always be slower, because they don't know as much, but I do try and inform my opponent of what is on my side. It's not much of a game if you beat your opponent by 'rules lawyering' them.
In a similar vain, I always allow take backs, as long as it pretty immediate (i.e. multiple cards haven't been flipped and other models moved). If people were unaware of what I had then I feel it is my error for not giving them enough information rather than theirs for no knowing. Winning would feel cheap if it was because of me exploiting a moment of forgetfulness. Again this might happen more against a less experienced player, because it would be much easier to get confused, but I haven't changed the way I play.
The one thing I say do when playing beginners is offer advice on what they can do, but I do only try and do this when they are looking thoroughly confused. I also try and explain why I made a specific move, after the game if not during. I try and keep this to a minimum, however, because if you make too many suggestions then they are not really playing the game. I always feel it is best to learn by doing and even if it is a major mistake it just means it will stick in their mind all the better.
You might be thinking, this guy's a dick. He doesn't pull his punches at all when playing new guys? Guy just gets off on thinking he's better than people. I think that 'kid gloves', however, are patronising. You owe to your opponent to assume they are a reasonably intelligent human being who have as much of a chance at winning as you do. This works better in Malifaux than it does in other games because Malifaux isn't about killing all of your enemy... though killing stuff is still important. Also, if you play how you normally do and explain what you are doing and why, beginners are then able to actually see what to do. Otherwise, what are you teaching them? How to avoid winning?
So in conclusion, I think you owe beginners a decent game, played as you would normally, and not to patronize them. However, for this to work, you should always explain how things are done and why and also allow people to take a move back if they have forgotten something or got confused. These things should be done, however, no matter the level of opponent.