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Monday, May 24, 2010

Why Not Warmachine?

Ben from Combat Resolution sent me the following (paraphrased) question:

"I was curious about something else, and would be very interested to hear your thoughts on it.  I've noticed you've been painting up some warmachine/hordes stuff.  Now, i know I the 2 minions were specifically for your Beasts army, but I also noticed you painted up some Khador stuff as well.  Now, in your blog, you claim you painted them b/c you liked them, but you don't intend to play warmachine.  I was wondering why."

I'm going to paraphrase a lot of my response, but it came down to this:

I picked up Warmachine/Hordes a couple years ago thinking they could be my second game, kind of a side thing to Warhammer.   I already played WFB and the odd game of 40K, so I was pressed already, but I really liked the models and the company philosophy of player responsiveness.  I still really like the models and the company, but several things have conspired against it as a game I would play.

First, having played it a few times, I can't say that I like the mechanics any more than I do WFB's.  I don't think they have tighter, better rules, and instead would argue that they have their own set of problems and imbalances.  Just like in Fantasy, certain armies/builds are far better than others, and while PP tries to fix things, it's been like that since before I started playing and hasn't really progressed.  Both versions of Khador's Vlad, for instance, have always been tournament winners.  So yeah, it's not a better game on paper than WFB, it's just different, with it's own problems. 

There is also the basic fact that we have a pretty tight group of people here playing WFB, and there's a big social aspect there.  Unlike in other groups, the level of satisfaction with the game is pretty high, and we've been playing together for a long time.  While we hang out outside of the game at this point, WFB is the central theme that brings us all together, and it would be rough to change things.  WM/Hordes is a big game, and with the limited time that most of us have in our late 20's/early thirties, playing it at this point would probably mean giving up WFB for the most part, which I just don't see happening. 

I have some problems with some of PP's philosophy as well.  I hate how the Page 5 "play like you've got a pair" plays out.  The idea of always playing hard is great in theory.  In practice, I really don't like how PP's events don't have any soft scores, especially painting and sportsmanship.  I think that in the same way that GW pushes balance to the side by arguing that their game is for fun, PP excuses their imbalance often by actively cheering it on.  Sure, they might make changes down the road, but the basic philosophy remains intact.  For most people, I don't think this is a problem, but for that certain kind of player who is a jerk during games / doesn't paint / brings cheese everytime, PP games are a haven.  It's like 'Ard Boyz all the time.

So to sum up: 

Rules and Balance:  Both have their issues.  Draw.
Game Philosophy:  GW is too soft, PP allows for the wrong kind of behavior too easily.
Local Group:  I like WFB, and my gaming group.  Win for GW there, although they had little to do with it.
Time:  I have time for one big game.  I have time and relationships invested in WFB.  

I think that Warmachine and Hordes are great games.   Comparing them to my favorite game, Warhammer Fantasy, and saying that they are just as good is high praise.  Maybe I'll play down the road, but I'm not interested in playing anything but (crazy eighth edition) fantasy in the immediate future.