Thursday, July 7, 2011

Why Not Warmachine?

by SandWyrm

I was reading through VT2's embarrassing rant on 3++ today when I started wondering why I haven't given Warmachine a proper try. I've been trying Kings of War. I've bought into Malifaux (We need to play Uberdark!!!). And yesterday I picked up the rulebook for Flames of War to scratch the itch that World of Tanks has started. At some point Farmpunk and I will try out Warpath. But why not Warmachine?

I mean, I have a starter set and rules that I was given at Adepticon...

...and I like Full Metal Alchemist as much as the next guy...

So what's the problem?

Issue 1: The Models

There's something just off-putting about the models. They're detailed enough, but the basic designs (shapes, silhouette, poses) are just not very good. Yes, there are exceptions, but as a whole the models just don't speak to me.

And pink? Really? I'm supposed to assemble and paint a faction with pink trim? Sure, I could change the colors, but what the heck?

Issue 2: The Fluff

I watched a few videos on Beasts of War today where Alessio and Mantic's founder discussed the upcoming fluff for Warpath. It was cool and interesting. The humans are the sci-fi equivalent of the British East India Company. Basically the group leading the edge of human expansion outward into the galaxy. The Rebs are an alliance of anti-corporate humans and their displaced alien allies. The Orcs Orks Orx and "Plague" (undead) are the unintended blowback from the corporation's meddling and other experiments. The Squats "Forge Fathers" are age-old mass-strippers of worlds, who leave nothing but worthless husks of planets in their wake. While the Eldar Asterians flitter about mysteriously on the edge of human space.

It's a bit rough, but I can get into it. It's interesting to me.

But when I look at the fluff for Warmachine... Blah, blah, blah. Nothing stands out. There are details, nations, and whatnot. But no sweeping narrative that pulls me in.

Is it because most everyone is human? No, Malifaux is just dripping with cool stories that make the skirmishes come alive. Hmmmnnnn...

Issue 3: The Players

During it's early days, you tended to see Warmachine played alongside 40K at our local stores. The reflexive anti-GW talk was a little off-putting, but what really made me cringe was the arguments. I've seen 40K players at 'Ard Boyz yell a bit on occasion, or stomp away in anger. But that's the exception. Outside of tourneys, things in 40K-land are usually pretty relaxed and chatty. Even tourneys are more relaxed now with the general shift to various versions of win/loss.

Not so with Warmachine. Where I've often seen 'Ard Boyz level arguments in CASUAL games. I once even saw two Warmachine players go at it so hard that one actually picked up a chair to beat the other one over the head with. If I and others hadn't stepped in to physically separate them, the Cops would have had to show up with an Ambulance in tow. All because of an argument about cover on a hill.

Now, I've played 40K with both of those guys. They were as relaxed then as any other 40K player. But something about Warmachine just encourages heated arguments. Which is the primary reason I'm hesitant to play.



  1. Dwarf strippers, sir? Umm... to each their own?

  2. Hrm. there's unrest. we need more TEA and Spice.

    yes, that will do it.

    Warmachine as both a game and fluff seem bland and droll to me.
    I've never liked the warcaster controlls everything, kill the caster, and you've more or less won the game, but the caster needs to be kind of far forward to do anything...

    now Flames of War and heck, even Warpath look interesting. almost more interesting than GW's fluff stuff.
    which is sad.

  3. I play both 40K and WM and I have to agree about the fluff for WM -- it just leaves me kind of flat, and the models are just OK.

    They do try to address the mechanic of kill the caster win the game somewhat in tournament scenarios by awarding more VP's for winning by scenario rather than by Caster Kill, however I'm still not all that fond of the mechanic.

  4. That was rant yesterday. I also cannot quite get behind the model design but the hitting someone with a chair over a toy soldier game is over the top. No wonder you do not want to associate with such individuals.

  5. I've played both for a while, I guess it really depends on your local group... We had a pretty good group for WM/Hordes in Champaign at Valhalla and the Gopher... Yes, the players at Gen Con seemed a bit "more intense", but to me not any more so than the hordes of young teens screaming "Waagh" when GW used to come to cons...

  6. The game (Warmachine) is designed to be highly lethal and very competitive. Tactics, not the models' stats, make the game. It's very player-centric and that means it can become very personal for some. In 40K when your squad of Smurfs gets eaten by a pie plate, well, that's what happens when you play against Dark Eldar. You shake your head at how broken their codex is, shake the hand of the guy who just obliterated you, and chalk it up to crappy die rolls and unbalanced game mechanics. In Warmachine/Hordes there's no safety net. If you lose, it's cause you got beat. Or you suck. Either way, you feel like ass and it can create tension. I'm in no way excusing the idiocy of threatening bodily harm over a game. If you can't take the prison rape, don't buy in. I rarely play WM/Hordes but I love the models. I bought into Hordes because I'd been painting power armor pretty much exclusively for 6 years and was desperate for some fur and claws. I have never played WM/H competitively and I don't think I will. I have a great attitude about gaming, but I tend to bristle when the guy across the table is purposefully stomping a mudhole in me because that's how the tournament and game are designed. Play like you got a pair, certainly. Just don't kick me in mine while you're doing it.

  7. I'm really surprised about the rules arguments though. Even the 40K rules lawyer nutjobs here, where one of them actually is a lawyer, mellow out when they play wm/h. They try, but ever single rule issue has been "it does what the card says, literally" or been a terrain issue that they themselves didn't classify before the game started like in ever table top game. I've personally never had to dice off on an issue.

    The rest of the stuff though, I can understand. Ascetics are a big reason why I simply don't play chess. I need to by immersed in a game to enjoy the game, no matter how competitively focused I am, it's the IP's atmosphere that keeps me playing and playing the faction/army I do.

  8. You're looking at a warm off white and a nice wine color, not white and pink. Take it a bit deeper to add more contrast to the white, and you're golden.

    You seem to have a bunch of douche bags playing WM/H around you. I've never seen anyone get into a fight like that over any game, and I sure play a lot of them (Malifaux, Infinity, Wargods, Pulp City, WM/H, Confrontation 3/3.5, Mordheim, et al). It is certainly not the game system that is causing that kind of reaction to something in the game. It would be much easier to chalk that up to not getting laid enough than it is to claim the game is at fault.

    As for the sculpts, I'm with you there. I got into the game because I had friends playing, and I was getting tired of my 40K games being so repetitive (and this was back in 3rd). The majority of the WM sculpts still leave me feeling flat, but I can over look it for some of them, especially as game pieces are only representative of a set of stats and abilities. With my Trollbloods that I just got from a friend who has had them in his basement for a couple of years now since our local store closed, I'm taking a totally different view. These guys are awesome in a slightly overdone TMNT kind of way. Since they're not human it's a lot easier to overlook some things that jump out with other models. I feel this way about Hordes in general, actually. Even the human/Skorne/Nyss models seem much more believable than a lot of the WM models (especially the early models that are receiving new sculpts these days).

    The fluff has never really grabbed me. I've met people who have followed the fluff from book to book as the story developed. I didn't find it engaging at all. The overall fluff behind the factions was decent to give me a background. The actual progression from book to book and regular casters to their epic versions was lackluster. People who think Doug Seacat can write amazing fluff aren't looking at the fact that he can't write a story. He can come up with amazing ideas and details, but his actual storytelling is on par with a lot of the Black Library authors; good enough to get by, but nothing that will win awards.

    Since you're in Indy, why not swing by Gen Con for a day (if you're not already going), and play a demo or two? Maybe Menoth isn't the right faction for you, but the game mechanics might turn you on with the right group of players.

    If you're just playing with friends, there's no reason to get hung up on caster kill ending the game, either. Steamroller 3 (I think) eliminated caster kill as a victory condition in all but 1 of the scenarios in that tournament/league format. It certainly made the game more interesting. You might kill me, but if I'm winning the scenario, I still win. (The same thing applies for Malifaux. Kill my stuff all you want. You'll still need more VP's than me at the end of the game to be the winner.)

  9. I've always thought the same thing on the looks of the models, specifically the Warjacks. The whole big back, giant hands, tiny everything-else (/giggle) never really appealed to me. That and almost no one around my area plays.

  10. @Lantz

    I'm fine with some of the Jacks being that way. But all of them? Yuck.


    Like I said, these players were fine when playing 40K. But again and again I've seen bitter arguments over Warmachine from all sorts of guys. This case was exceptional, but even the norm bothers me.

  11. I've actually been on the supply end of the rules angst. It's much more than just the people being jackasses (though that is part of it).

    The game can be exceedingly frustrating - PP has, for whatever reason, decided to try and couple very unforgiving win conditions with a tedious and overly complicated rule system and call it 'competative'.

    A win will literally come down to whether or not a SINGLE rule was properly implemented more than I think is even remotely fun.

    Sure, if that's your bag, then go for it. But one of the reasons I quit was because I didn't like what the game seemed designed to bring out in me.

  12. Anybody here play infinity? I'm curious to read something from a person about it. All I can find online seems to be marketing material.
    The models look pretty sweet on the infinity website, but I can't find any build photos, either.

  13. head on over to fire broadside. good stuff there.

  14. My point of view:

    *GW models > PP models. That's said, that's some sanguine-scarlet, not pink. Like this:

    Also, I completely get people simply not liking the minis. I don't play Infinity or FoW for a reason :D

    *Warmachine "strategy" simply comes to buff/debuff stacking and positioning. Is not that complicated but players tend to take their "competiviness" seriously, despite that is mostly a joke. Two-list tournaments are lame, same as the Gencon comp restrictions.

    *The fluff is meh, but that's the Black Library level. But then, I don't care about the fluff too much.

    *PP is barely better than GW as a company. Why I say this? For starters, is really hard to respect a company that came on top by riding the wave of angst caused by the Chaos Gav-dex and people not wanting to buy tanks for 5th edition with the original ultra-douchey Page 5.

    That out, they have backed off of many of their stupid statements (and rewritten the Page 5), so they have gotten better.

    *PP fanboys on their anti-GW jihad can go die on a fire. I think that we all agree there.

  15. I don't know I've looked at picking it up but then I remember how we used to joke about the players who couldn't win at 40k jumping ship to play WM. :)

    From what I hear though the oldest home to 40k in the city has pretty much left that ship behind in favor of WM. Sure they will always sell it and I am sure there will always be players but the group there has been fading for a while and in my experience stores reflect the tastes of the staff. I am just glad that other stores have picked up 40K and keep the community thriving around here.

    Beyond that my biggest turn off is using 2D terrain. I don't know if everyone does but at the local shop everything is 2D and it isn't that exciting. 40K just seems to pick at a players imagination more than most games and that is what makes it so captivating to me.

  16. wyrmy: when i can afford to drive to indy you will be the first to know. :D and will play malifaux. :)))))

  17. Warmahordes suffers a bit from what I call Blood Bowl Syndrome: it's been marketed as "WOO HOO NERDY FUN TIME LET'S GO BASH EACH OTHER'S DUDES' FACES IN!" despite favouring reading comprehension, an accurate memory and a lack of emotional investment. It is pretty much the exact opposite of what the marketing claims it is, in other words.

    The first edition rules were often quite unclear, which combined with that high level of detail and difficult win condition that Lauby was on about to create a lot of tension. Mark II has eased back on the unclarities but at the cost of becoming more detailed and harder to parse.

    chaplainaerion's point that you can't really hide behind the game's design is related to that - if you lose it's because you did something wrong, if you misunderstand a rule it's (usually) because you didn't understand it correctly and that's not something which everyone's capable of accepting, admitting or dealing with gracefully.

    I have more to say but not enough time to say it in. A Read and Respond post may be forthcoming.

  18. "*PP fanboys on their anti-GW jihad can go die on a fire. I think that we all agree there."

    As someone who plays both 40K and Warmachine, I hate hearing comments like this.

    I can understand liking one game more than the other. They are very different games, with distinct models, atmosphere and play-styles. And I understand, with all the preparation, assembly, painting and playing, that we have huge personal investments in our miniatures. So a preference for one game or the other comes with some very strong feelings.

    But I don't get the vitriol between the players of one game system and the other. As miniature gamers we have a lot in common with each other, no matter what game we're playing. Even if you don't want to play, it's worth treating other games (and the players who have deep personal investments in them) with a small measure of good-natured patience. It creates a great atmosphere in your local gaming community, and makes a great hobby even better.

  19. @Muppet

    Which store has given up on 40K? The North Store kicked us out of our regular night (Wed) in favor of D&D Encounters. Which reduced our regular attendance.

  20. Yeah I wanted to like warmachine for all the same reasons. You'd think that a good Giant robot mini game would be easy. How amazing would a 15mm (1/144thscale) Gundam game be?! Giant robots are why I got into 40K with space marines. Why I bought Tau. WM I likes the human or the Mechs but never both out of the same set. So I went with malifaux.
    40K is still my favorite, tho.

  21. Warmachine is a pretty good game. It is unforgiving, and you can't expect to win regularly without a very firm grasp of the rules and all the unit abilities.

    The one real Achilles heel is that it's not a closed system. New rules and units are continuously getting added to the game. This is what bogged down Mark I. They removed all the cruft for Mark II, but in my opinion didn't fix the underlying problem.

    As for the games aesthetic, someone at PP must have a disturbing fetish for shoulder pads.

  22. I had sort of the same opinion as you on this matter. At Adepticon earlier this year I too picked up that free starter box, and on my shelf it sat. I personally just don't give a crap about steam punk and I think that is specifically what turns me off. These giant robots running on steam and magic...

    I traded it in for a Skorne box, and while hordes looks kind of like World of Warcraft (gag) it has a much more interesting feel to it than the basic Warmachine stuff.

    Have you tried Infinity yet?

  23. Nope, not yet. I like the models, but I want something that would work with the models I have. Other players would be nice too. ;)


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