Thursday, February 24, 2011

That Other Company's Fantasy Wargame...

by SandWyrm

Mrs. Sandwyrm was having a ladies night at the house with some church friends, so after hitting Chick-Fil-A, I decided to take the kids down to the North Store. Their 40K shipment usually comes in on Thursday and I wanted to snag some new Speeders for the Emo-Wing.

Turns out it was WarMachine night. I counted 19 players milling around the tables. Which is a fair bit more than the 10-12 we get most 40K nights. I even saw that some of them used to be 40K regulars that we don't see anymore on Wednesdays. So I asked the staff if this was their usual turnout. They said they usually get about 8 players, but that things always get busy when Privateer Press starts it's official tourney season.

Cue whining about GW's lack of a tourney season from the store employees. I can't say I blame them if it brings in these numbers.  Must be nice to have real company support for competition.

So... wow! Warmachine is a real competitor to 40K now. At least in our area. I hope GW is paying attention.


  1. It is popular in the Dayton area as well.

    I admit, I started a Khador army last year, played a few games and played in 1 tourney.
    It has its merits, mainly the beautiful models, easy to play game, cool cards for each unit and the low basic cost for a faction to get up and running.

    I found that for me it was missing what I love about 40k...versatility in list building, gameplay and tournaments. There are a few prime lists for each faction and thats it...

    I will continue to play 40K over anything else. It appeals to my sensibilities.

  2. Same here in Colorado, we have probably 2x to 3x the number of warmachine/hordes players to 40k/fantasy players.

    I haven't tried it myself, but like Sandman says, the models are beautiful. I have a buddy that wants to convert his Ork warboss from a Khador warmachine.

  3. As a former Press Ganger (company approved volunteer event organizer and demo guy) allow me to give you the skinny:

    First, GW is NOT listening and they haven't bothered since Privateer's inception. Privateer, however, was VERY conscious of GW's infamous business model and I'm thinking somewhere along the line they sat down and used it as a how NOT to run a miniature company.

    Privateer started with extremely high-quality models and a well-designed game. Then they backed it with truly awe-inspiring customer service. Get a model with a problem? They make it right super fast. Have a question or want to know more about the game? Chances are if your FLGS sells Privateer products there's a Press Ganger in the local vicinity who can hook you up. And once you invest your $40 or $50 startup you'll likely have a campaign or tournament coming up in just a few weeks. Oh, and when you participate in that event there will be prizes supplied by Privateer Press, and there will be rankings recorded by Privateer Press, so your efforts go beyond that particular afternoon or weekend.

    I am with Sandman, and I play 40K first and foremost. But having spent some time with the Privateer folks (and I'm talking first-name basis with their Marketing director and spent an evening partying with the President and other ranking members of the company) I am happy to let anyone who asks know that PP is indeed a VERY fine company.

    If GW would put even a TENTH of that kind of effort into their operation they would not only hold their customer base by the danglies, we'd be willingly lining up to have them gripped.

  4. Warmahordes has actually waned a little at my FLGS. It was really big right before Mark II came out but then a lot of people got burnt out and turnout has dropped off. Figures, it happens right when I get interested in picking up a few models :(

  5. limited builds is what lost my interest in Warmachine when I started on 40K.
    I also wasn't crazy about the 'loose the caster, loose the game' feel of it. I understand V2 is better, but the 40K fluff got me.

    now Flames of War has almost gotten me to quit and switch. Especially when they came out with early war French.

  6. Warmachine is a lot like FoW in that there's usually one store in an area that all the players congregate at. GW games tend to have a more even distribution across a local area. This is all based on my non-scientific anecdotal evidence.

    I'm a Warmachine burnout myself. I've got big Cygnar and Legion collections sitting in my garage collecting dust because I have no inclination to buy the MK 2 rulebooks. Privateer Press does not always smell like roses, they've been following in GW's footsteps more than they would like to admit from their increasingly irrelevant print magazine to their overpriced hobby line. Then there's all the back peddling on the "plastic minis are for little girls" page 5 BS when they had to switch to plastics to stay competitive.

    GW has improved greatly over the last few years. Their dedicated stores may be useless, but their overall customer support is very good. They've improved the quality of the rules and continue to produce an impressive model range. The comparison that a lot of privateer press fans make to GW is to the GW of 7 or 8 years ago, and I don't think it's a fair comparison.

    I also kind of like it that GW isn't as involved in providing local support for their games. I'd rather have the community run events we have now than some official company play style enforced by a game store employee that's maybe played the game twice ever.

  7. I must admit the models ARE nice, but I was never a big fan of Steampunk. Nor did I much like the MTG-ish gameplay of kill-the-caster. As Farmpunk said, he and I have been considering starting up Flames of War armies. That might happen next fall for me.

    I do wish PP the best though. Without competition, GW wouldn't be improving at all. Though I do wish they'd get with the program a little faster than they are.

  8. GW has stepped up recently (as in the last 2 or 3 months), but as a convention organizer I dare you to try to acquire any kind of company support (prize or give-away wise) from GW. I ask GW if they have anything they want to provide for our Rogue Trader or Apoc game and I hear crickets. I ask Privateer for the same and I get a full case of swag and a separate box of flyers and promotional material (as well as a full sized poster signed by the staff). Privateer is by no means perfect (they are pricey and they experience periods of confusion just like any company), but comparing service and support track records over the long haul they make GW look like the clueless scrooges they are.

    Another big point in their favor is convention presence. If it weren't for Black Library and Fantasy Flight, GW would be a total non-presence at big shows like GenCon. Even at a mid-sized convention like MidSouth Con in Memphis the battle bunker guys can barely manage to arrange a ten-man tournament. Seriously? You can't host a major event at your local con? Hell, I manage to draw that many players for our piddly little con here in podunk Missouri. A huge part of why Privateer excels at cons is because of their volunteer program. If you volunteer to promote GW games you get... well, the gratitude of the players at least. If you volunteer for PP you get stuff. And if you volunteer for them at a con you get TONS of stuff (I worked 3 slots at GenCon a couple years ago and I got: $150 credit, a faction hardcover that was just released, a shirt, a new character blister, an Extreme Khador Warjack valued at $50 or so, AND they threw us a big party complete with booze, food, and a huge raffle for MORE stuff.) My point is this:

    We all love 40K or we wouldn't be here. And we'll keep buying models, rules, and paint until they stop selling them. We'll also continue to put in our time and effort to grow the hobby and host events. We do it because we love it. But if GW would be a bit more supportive we'd have a lot more help in all the above and we wouldn't always feel like servitors.

  9. Well, remember that GW fired it's national convention team a few years ago to save $$$. So I'm not surprised they find it hard to maintain a presence at national events. Right now they're still in cost-cutting mode, so I wouldn't expect much from them in the next year or so.

    The future of GW though, is going to depend on them switching from a short term cost-cutting mentality to a long term grow-the-hobby mindset.

  10. If you buy a GW product that is missing parts or has mold issues, their Customer Support will get you a full replacement for the entire kit, not just the missing piece, in 2 or 3 business days.

    GW has improved over the las 2-3 years not months. GW's relationship with LGSs and quality of customer support improved long before they started releasing FAQ's in a timely manner. Our club has had no problem getting quarterly prize support for the GW tournaments we run. I'm not sure, but doesn't Adepticon get lots of support?

    GW's lack of a convention presence is not without reason. They didn't get the attendance or space at cons like Origins or Gencon that they can get at their own events. Maybe it wasn't a good decision, but it wasn't made just to screw over their fans. I think they should get involved in the independent cons again, but I'd rather see GW be profitable, than throw big events and declare bankruptcy.

    There is a flip side to Privateer's convention presence; especially at Gencon. Gencon is hard on the local Indy game stores. Money that would otherwise go to the LGS's goes to Gencon, and when Privateer has their advanced releases it can effect the Warmachine sales at the local stores for months.

  11. Warmachine was popular around here, then one of the LGS's decided to stop promoting it for one reason or another. (Mainly because the guy who runs it, only promotes what HE is interested in at the time, and bashes everything else.) Now, he cut back the PP section by like 95% and is planning on phasing it out compeletly. That being said, I don't want to even get started down the path of I hate GW because of "x" I will just put likes and dislikes of each.
    Like GW for background and minis, love the 5th ed rules (didn't like 4th, liked 3rd.) can't stand the pricing...
    Like PP for the genre - background is ok, don't like the fact the everytime a new book is realeased, it "changes" the basic rules of the game like MTG. ("Reach" doesn't count, but I will use that as an example.) Me: "Wait, what does that guy do?"
    Opponent: He has reach- so he can hit you from 2" away.
    Me: Whoa, that's new, this sux.

    I can't afford to buy a book everytime one is released to learn new rules.
    PP Minis are awesome though.

  12. There seems to be a lower barrier to entry cost-wise for Warmachine since the armies seem smaller. On a per-model basis I just looked at tha Khador starter box and saw two Jacks and Caster for $50? Meh...

    In my area there are three stores I visit. The one I visit the least seems to only ever have Warmachine going on when I visit. But there again, they have 4x4 tables and I guess that is the normal size for that game.

    In all three Flames of War seems to be waning and card games are king. Kids are spending a regular tithe on booster drafts and buying rares but nobody wants to paint minis it seems. One kid was proxying a pair of paper-template rhinos.

    Wow, this post wandered...


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