Thursday, January 24, 2013

State of the Game (long post)

(note: I have not edited this for errors, sorry, i'll do it later)

So, off the Skaven for a minute (they are coming along, don't worry) I want to hit on something I have mixed emotions on.

Warmachine and Hordes... or as I call it Warmahordes.

I started Warmachine when it launched ever so long ago. My account on the forum was so early in the forum's existence it was numbered in double digits. I really liked the first edition of Warmachine the game played well and brutal (true Page 5) and was enjoyable. The models were fresh and heavy and fun to paint and people generally had a good time playing it.

I have a medal from an even at Origins even, I played Cryx then so it's a cool Cryx medal.

BUT (you knew that was coming right?) I'm not experiencing this anymore with this game. In general the models are still nice although I will admit I dislike the plastics over the metal and I seem to be a lone man there. It is the rest of the experience that seems to be lacking and I don't know whether to take a deep breath and try some more or throw in the towel and let them all go and put that resource towards a different game.

In general I feel as if the game is almost requiring me to buy new models to be able to play, and I don't mean competitive play either, I mean game club play. My most recent collection is a small body of Trollbloods and I like the models and the rules but in general I'm not winning. Recently this has changed to "not playing" as in I get to do so little it borders on an actually, literal, was of my time. My last game I put down 25 points (15 models) with light and heavy war beasts, solo, and healthy size unit of infantry and did not kill one enemy. I only got to make 2 attack rolls. I'll admit that part of that was I emotionally threw in the towel about 50% into the game but it was because I found my hands so tied I didn't feel like I was playing a skirmish war game. I felt like I was playing a miniature form of Magic the Gathering and I had cards from 2009.

But booster packs are about 4 bucks, even the cheapest solo is three times that.

There is something else too. I don't have fun and it doesn't look like the people around me are having fun either. With the exception of the individual who is dominating the game everyone else is either bored, depressed, angry, or distracted. I know that in general these happen in any gaming from RPG to board games. In war games it is usually indicative of the game taking too long, or the game being just plain boring. My last game I was detached in turn two, my team mate was ranting pissed, one of the opposing team was so bored he could have fallen asleep, and only his team mate was engaged, and he was literally controlling the field. I was so stopped in my tracks I felt as if I had no point in even playing. My desire to try to over come the tactical challenge was gone. I threw in the towel and stood there while he pummeled me. I didn't want to do anything more. My friend across the table saw this and quickly killed Madrak to release me, but damn that is such a different experience from when I started that game.

Seriously, even when I'm loosing at other games I can have fun. Point in fact, last game of 40k I played it was my Ultramarines against my Chaos Space Marines (my friend forgot his armies). Well my dice rolls really couldn't get much worse and I was slaughtered. The game, someplace around end of turn 4, was my friends by point alone. I couldn't take an objective and I was down to a single squad. I went from trying to win to trying not to be tabled and I had a good time doing that. I took down some more enemy models and survived some wild saving throws. At the end of the game it was four models left on my side facing a full tactical squad, a couple scouts, a dreadnought without his multi-melta, and half a terminator squad with an angry chaplain.

I did not, at any point in my last ten or so games of warmahordes have that feeling of switching gears. I will admit, when my terminator chaos lord when down to THREE LUCKY OVER-WATCH BOLT GUN SHOTS I could have broken things. I wanted to! I wanted to break that terminator lord actually. I'm sure you've been there. But I didn't and then I changed gears. That was insultingly bad luck. At that point I knew I was not going to win but I wanted my lord to get to fight and he didn't because of that foul luck.

My entire game of warmahordes for a long time now has been that feeling the entire game. Seriously that is some terrible way to feel playing a game for an hour plus. Turn one is fine, but then the newest epic caster or war jack does something wild and my heavy warjack is blown to pieces, or my army can't move for a turn, or they have their ability to charge removed, or the enemy surrounds himself with 8" of difficult terrain, or, or, or, or.... seriously it doesn't feel "good" to play warmahordes I think.

I'll get a lot of slack for this, either in print in the comments or people thinking i'm stupid. Fine fine. They'll just say I'm a bad player. Fine also, I'm not a good player. I'm just a player. I don't even have a 50% win ratio of any game. Also I'll get a lot of "GW fan boy" hate, but you'll note I'm not saying GW games are better. I actually really like the warmahordes rules and models, but I feel like you can trace the state of this game to the making of Mk.2. When they changed the rules (every company does it) they seemed to change their objective. All model companies are out to make money, period, i'm not stupid that is how you pay off stock holders. But I will come right out and say that I think PP has embraced the MtG style of power creep to require you to buy new models to be able to play.

I'll give a caveat though. It could all be me. I could not have the mind for warmahordes, or the disposition, and just not "get it" in general. This could be the best game ever and i'm the one who walked away from Omelas.

I will not likely avoid the game though. I have a size-able mercenaries collection, some nice trollbloods, and the start to a Menoth force so there is no reason to let them gather dust. But I suspect I'll be a poor opponent who just doesn't have the fire to provide a challenge.

How sad is that?


  1. I started playing Warmahordes with MK2 so cant really see this change in the game like you do, but I do think its the most fun Ive ever had playing a tabletop game. Still, I do sympathize with some of the feelings arising from some of the abilities the models have. Maybe that's a good subject for game design study someday: "the psychology of exception based special rules" :)

    But it does look like you should take a break from it. Having the models doesn't mean you should play it all the time, and you can certainly hold onto them for a while till you make up your mind. I got burned with Dust Warfare very close after its release, all the anticipation and such burned me down. Now I'm going back to it and having a blast.

  2. I can empathise with you here, Adept. I started at mkII. Everyone in my group started at the same time so we were all learning and force building - so no uber-units crushed the game. Funnily enough I likened it to Magic at that point as well. But I don't play very often and as time went on I found the huge raft of different abilities, my lack of practice and not managing that "killer combo" (ala Magic) means that I spend most of the game trying to focus on what my own soldiers can do (as my opponent cripples them with special abilities) instead of enjoying the spectacle of the game unfolding on the table.

    Like you I won't give it up though. Like you I like some of the models too much and can remember that I really liked the game when I started. I'll have to just play lower (25pt) level games and seek out less experienced/sympathetic opponents.