Tuesday, October 25, 2011

From 0 to 60: A year in Wargaming

Hello wargamers, painters, blog tourists, and random friends checking this out because a link popped up!

This is the first of hopefully many posts from a collection of Warmachine and Hordes players. I thought I would start us out by summarizing my first year as a wargamer. It is a chronicle of gaming on the cheap but still spending way too much money!

I first played High Elves in Warhammer Fantasy Battles. I probably spent $200 (most starting costs are higher but I saved some using ebay and taking advantage of unwanted halves of the 2 player starter box). I did lots of assembly and horrible paint jobs and played about 4 games total (against one Skaven opponent). The pace of the game is so slow. You have 2 big cool armies marching at each other but with the way movement works and such, it feels more like naval combat where big boats kind of lumber at each other, bump hulls and one eventually wins. Magic is interesting but too powerful and chaotic at the same time. A few dice rolls determine the win when you bring wizards. I abandoned WFB for 40k and my High Elves were exiled to The Closet

So 40k... I picked up probably $400 worth of Tyranids (the realistic minimum starting cost including the codex). I liked the game more from a rules standpoint. My armies moved better, looked cooler, took to the magnets in the bases better and thematically, 40k is fantastic. I really enjoyed my first games but a few things started to really bug me. The pace is very slow. My 1500 point games vs 10 year veterans still took 3 or more hours to complete. I also found that once my models were on the table I had very little in the way of real choices to make. Tyranid models have very specific strengths and weaknesses. They also have no in-game options (like the grenades, ammo choices, tactical choices that various Space Marines get to make). So once they're down, you've pretty much committed to a script to follow. You've already either won or lost, the only real variables are the dice, your opponent, and your own mistakes. I'd look across at the various space marine flavored enemies and see them shoot from 40 inches away, select bullet types, give tactical orders... meanwhile my guys just march across and chew face.

I was also frustrated by the lack of support from Games Workshop. List building is a difficult process made even more annoying by the lack of any assistance. I had a 3rd party simple piece of software (thats technically illegal thanks to GW's draconian property control) that really helped by having a simple GUI take me through army building. Included were all options and it gave me a print out with all of the (pages of) special rules for the models I have chosen have for quick reference.

Ultimately, I was having too little fun with the game to continue and started to stray and explore another system. Warmachine. Tyranids joined the High Elves in The Closet.

I came into Warmachine as Privateer Press was celebrating their 10 year anniversary with a big sale. They were selling bundles for armies that included the starter kit for the faction of your choice + tokens for your faction + the main rule-book for the game for about $60. Less than the price of JUST the rule-book for 40k. I and 6 other folks from the office, including people who had never played war-games before, jumped in on this deal and we all started putting things together. Of the 7 of us, 3 chose Hordes armies. In the past 4 months, we have all constructed and expanded our armies and have probably played a dozen games each.

I'm playing Cygnar. I have probably spent $500 so far and have a well rounded collection (including the starting bits of a new Skorne army)

We are all enjoying the game immensely. The rules are well built and allow for matches at a faster pace. One of the main differences I am enjoying is that your units themselves have no pre-game options but plenty of in-game options. For instance, my dual-chaingun wielding warjack, the Cyclone, has 2 ranged attack options. One is laying down covering fire, placing 2 AOE templates on the battlefield which will trigger on any unit that enters it during my opponent's turn. The other is straight gunning. Then there's the melee combat options. He could do a power slam to knock an opponent back into his buddies, doing lots of collateral damage. He could trample attack over a swarm of infantry. He could pick up an infantry and chuck him at his buddies. He could do the same to an enemy warjack and potentially crush some baddies. He could headbutt a guy to the ground and start wailing on him. Finally, he could just walk up and start pounding on him.

On top of a fun game, Privateer is much more liberal with its permissions than Games Workshop. People have created web and smartphone apps for army building, rule reference and collection management with the blessings of the company. I can sit in bed and poke away at my phone to noodle around with army ideas.

So for months we have been playing and we are all 7 still heavily interested in the game. Some of us are continuously buying new models as temptation becomes too great (me!). Some are getting deeper into the hobby aspects of building and painting. Some are staying fairly close to the starting kit but still playing with the rest of us every time, just taking expansion slowly and utterly ignoring the painting aspect. Everyone gets excited for game night and we all wish we could play more often and that is a rare amount of excitement and dedication from a jaded pack of gamers like us.

That includes the two 10+ year Warhammer vets. They miss 40k, but they agree that Warmachine is just more fun as a game.

In the coming days, I'll post images from that first year. Being the first year as a wargamer also makes it the first year as a miniature painter. I'll post it all, from the awful High Elf Sword Masters, to the full unit of Nihilators that I just finished and am quite proud of.

Stay tuned!

1 comment:

  1. I agree with pretty much all your points on Warmachine. I am new to the hobby as well and am enjoying it immensely, a lot of it due to simply the community.

    Looking forward to see some of your models!