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"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
"...generalship should be informing list building." - Sir Biscuit
"I buy models with my excess money" - Valkyrie whilst a waitress leans over him

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Newbie's Thoughts on Warmachine - Part 1

With the battlebox in hand as well as all the little toys I could pry loose with my wallet, it was time to play some Warmachine - finally. By now I've had about three solid months of just looking at the Menoth book, specifically the units I was getting and wanted to get, as well as the basic rules. So what are my thoughts after getting into the game?

The rules are easy - the core concept of the rules are pretty damn easy to understand. One or two read-throughs of the rulebook and you should have everything down pat. You compare two stats with 2D6 rolls - if the attacking roll beats the defending roll, something happens. The basis of 2D6 can be also be improved (or worsened) by simply adding another die. Whilst this is obviously simplifying it to the extreme and there are a lot of rules, the core premise which Warmachine is based on doesn't seem that difficult to grasp.

There is a LOT of information to absorb - the main rules may be easy and relatively quick to digest and in terms of starting play, you can get down to it fairly fast. However, there are a ton of rules and information you need to know that you aren't going to pick up the first run through the rulebook. This of course deals specifically with factions and something we generally don't see in 40k - combos. The ability to chain initiations/activations or whatever odd thing you can think of, can often lead to an unsuspecting player being floored. Even without these combos, not knowing what your opponent's units can do to the very letter is going to see you surprised. Whilst this of course the same with any wargame, the small number of models on the table which can be drafted from a very large choice off the table makes this task a little more daunting.

Recovery can be non-existent...or come from no where - continuing on from the previous point in relation to information, not knowing things will not only catch you out but can likely cause you to lose the game. Whilst the game can swing back and forth between sides just like any other game, if you screw up or don't know about something your opponent can do - the game can just end. This ends from the game ending (even in scenarios) if your caster/lock dies. At the same time, you can have only a few models left compared to a whole army but if those models can pull off an assassination run...well you win from out of the blue.

Unit by unit activation is...good different - one of the major differences between 40k and WM/H is each unit has it's entire activation before another unit goes and each model is moved as an individual who is part of a whole. This means you can spread your attacks around where they are needed and individual models are targeted rather than squads. From someone used to whole army moves, whole army shoots, whole army assaults mechanics and must do so at a single target, etc., this is a very nice change and feels more intuitive for a smaller game. I don't think it would translate as well to bigger games like 40k/Fantasy but the mechanic is nice in itself.

Army list design is more about support than straight up killing - I've found time again, particularly in watching games, the best lists aren't ones which have the best raw damage or damage capable armies but ones which can apply it the best. Most things die in Warmachine/Hordes when shot/hit - the Jacks/Beasts obviously take a few hits to do and are more likely to survive a turn of concentrated firepower but not much else does WHEN it's targetted by an appropriate weapon. This is really setup in army list design I feel by generating support so your weapons can do what they need to do. This can be very different from 40k/Fantasy where getting as much firepower/close combat power as possible is often a basis of list building.

Which brings me to my final point so far...

Movement. Movement. Movement - Most wargames based on dice are won on movement, it's not a hard concept to understand. This is highlighted in Warmachine/Hordes by the reduced speed/ability to engage enemy models compared to 40k/Fantasy and where out of activiation moves are possible. In 40k/Fantasy it's rare that you can move/target your own guys for benefit - in Warmachine/Hordes it appears to be a necessary skill to do well. Something as simple as moving a Jack into shooting range and then somehow pushing it back out of threat range of their target brings a whole new dynamic to the game. Even a 1" move can be big. And this is what I think differentiates good and bad players - knowing how to manipulate the battlefield within the core rules and what you have available to you.

Anywho, that's all for now. Most of this is from observing games though I have gotten a few in on Vassal myself. If only Vince would come over and IDK - play? I'll be posting more up as I delve deeper into the game but any other beginners who'd like to drop their experiences - I'd love to hear them. And players with more experience...well you know - enlighten =D.

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