Sunday, May 20, 2012

Wolf or Elephant? No one said life's choices were easy.

My local game store is running a 'learn how to play Warmachine & Hordes' league starting in a couple days.

It's tempting me.

I remember seeing pictures of some warjacks before Warmachine was released, many many years ago.
And I loved what I saw.  I couldn't wait for them to be released and see what the game was like.
I saw the picture of the Cryx Slayer and loved it: it reminded me of the big evil beetle minions of the Skeksis from Dark Crystal.

I remember learning the game- it was very different than others I'd played and I did enjoy it.  Then they kept releasing new stuff, and it got more troop oriented, and most distressing to me, I didn't like the scene that was developing in my local area.  I went to a couple big tournaments and met great fun people, but most of the local people who picked up the game were the dreaded uber-competitive types. The attitude they brought to the game killed it for me: win at any cost, spew testosterone around the room like an unmanned fire-hose on full power, chest thumping, no story, no fluff, taking that page 5 nonsense to a very dark place.

This is a game I thought. If you have to get all Lord of the Flies to have fun then I'm out.

I also had a conceptual problem with the combos.

I had the same problem years before that with Magic the Gathering- a few friends got into that, I played a bit, but it wasn't the game for me.  I wanted to build theme decks like "the Goblins of Moria" deck, and fill it with goblins, dark shadows, fear and one big bad monster for the Balrog.
But it wasn't much fun when playing against abstract theme-less combo decks of "My $35 card interacts with this $25 card to defeat you". Yawn.  No story: no fun.

Warmachine started to feel like a game of abstract combos rather than a battle simulation: combos that didn't make much real world (or even fantasy world) sense.  It might not have been too bad if I'd liked all the miniatures- but I didn't.

I'd say I love about 1/3 of Privateer Press minis, and find about 1/3 to be alright, and 1/3 I wouldn't want to own: not worth my time to paint even if given them free.
Same with the troop & creature concepts: about 2/3 I like, 1/3 I don't.

That wouldn't be a problem in most wargames: use what miniatures you like.  If you don't like a particular troop type, then use another- most can fill what roll you need with some tactical choices. But the combo nature of Warmachine and Hordes might make this much harder.  When looking at a faction, it's tough when I'm told "oh you'll need these, they're too good to pass up, much better, you want them... but no, the minis are ugly, I don't want them.  Or the reverse- I love how some look, so I want A, B & C.. then told they don't work together, you'll get smashed. Well, that's no good: I want what looks good.

Despite all that, I'm tempted to give the game another try after many many years without having played it: Last played during Mark I, the release of the 2nd book.
Like I said, I do like a lot of the minis, have kept up on the news, have painted some armies for other people, so why not? If others are just learning it too, and it's limited to small forces with the battle box as a core must-take, then that might be the right environment for me to enjoy it.

I had a good deal on the circle box awhile back, so I picked that up for fun. I also have the Skorne box
- not playing hasn't meant I haven't collected :)  I like a lot of the minis and I like the background of the game

So I'm torn between these two.

Which do I take? The Wolf or the Elephant?

Circle:

Pro:
* I like the models of the battlebox.
* Would be easiest and fastest as well as fun to paint
* I like the richness of forest bases as I have them planned.
* I do like 'hit & run' play style.

Con:
* I like rocks better.  I have a 'counts as' army I made a few years ago. I love the concept of the wold constructs, but I hate the miniatures.  So I sculpted my own rock creatures and am very happy with them.
* A lot of the infantry for later I don't like: 'wolves' (guys with spears) and druids look horrible, but I do like the bloodtrackers & weavers.
* I've heard Circle is the least forgiving faction to play, other than the rocks, and the battlebox might be a poor set against Warmachine battleboxes.  Not a big deal, but I may not learn much if easily & quickly beaten all the time.

Skorne:

Pro:
* I like the models of the battlebox.
* Would be fun to paint.
* It would be a good start into painting Skorne that I was thinking would also make great Martians in a VSF setting: Venator Reavers just scream 'Martian' to me.
* I do like sturdy beasts that still have some tricks... probably why I've always liked Orcs, and Skorne beasts seem to fit that bill.
* Might be able to squeeze in a Bronzeback by the last 2 weeks, and he's tied with the metal dire troll mauler for my favorite mini in the game. I loved painting him for the Chaos Dwarf BB team.

Con:
* More time consuming to paint.
* Just like circle, I don't like a lot of the infantry that might come later: nihilators (horrible) and I don't like the medium based infantry with 500 pounds of armor, but I like venator rievers, swordsmen & bloodrunners
* Slower speed on the table.

Skorne might have a bit more Pull & a bit less Push than circle, but that easy & fast to paint is a pretty big draw for Circle.  I do like 'natural animal' painting. So I'm still undecided still.

Here are the minis as they stand now:

Circle:

Skorne:

I have 2 days to decide...

13 comments:

styx said...

Well, if you could snag a set cheap it would not be a huge loss if you don't like the game after you give it a try.

The battle boxes are not a bad investment point wise. Still you would have issues against veteran players (much light Magic) that has played for some time and will have some nasty combos waiting....

Personally, I like the game mechanics, concept and such. I think the fluff was a bit limited in some repects and they painted themself into a corner with fluff. The model line is great but again you end up with the one model is better than another. I did some reading and really wanted to do the Pirates for Warmachine only to find out they are hard to play and really requies alot of tricks to be a useful army. I had enough of trick building in Magic to fill my lifetime.

Bill said...

Personally I like the Puppies. I am only marginally slightly familiar with the rules. I think I peeked at the book for 5 minutes while visiting you ages ago. If the infantry sucks replace the minis with some nice Viking figs.
It has a nice Ragnaroky feel to the wolves. Definitely Puppies.

tomogui said...

Take the necromantic Persian vampire samurai invaders from the desert, with added pachyderms! You won't look back. Their backstory is far more interesting than Circle too.

I've played a lot of Warmahordes — although less so these days — and I think Mark II was a excellent fix to the excesses of the previous edition. The combos are still there, but far less outrageous and a lot more balanced. And the way they ran the MkII Field Test (lots of critical playtesting by the player community) was really interesting.

Paul´s Bods said...

Circle..that large wolf mini alone does it for me.
Chers
paul

Anne said...

For me as a person who paints but doesn't game I'd say Circle. But you have to consider all the angles and it looks like you've got some good input from other players here.

Paul of the Man Cave said...

"reminded me of the big evil beetle minions of the Skeksis from Dark Crystal." - thats exactly what I thought too!

My solution is to do both of course :-)

Michael Awdry said...

I've got to say both look amazing and I’m quite giddy with excitement at seeing what you do with them. That said my vote goes to Skorne.

Laughing Ferret said...

Well of course I agree with Paul: I will do both, already have really... I have the wold rocks I sculpted and painted- just need to do some infantry for them, and adding these wolves only expands it. And I own a bunch of Skorne, so just a matter of painting those too. But which to chose for this league? 28 hours left and I still can't decide.

I keep going back and forth- I start thinking of what i could do with Skorne and I feel I made my mind up, then I start thinking about the natural tones & forest bases, fast moving army elements, and I get dragged back to circle- but then I start thinking of cool looking reiver weapons, the bronzeback and maybe the cute new archidon flying dino and I get dragged back to Skorne.

I think I'll bring both and leave it to the last minute ;) It may come down to their policy on counts-as. Warmachine is notoriously bad about allowing conversions and counts-as minis... if they don't allow them, then that might make circle out of the question.

For the league it grows the army options each week. Week 2 goes from box to 15 points. Both of the ideasI have for 15 pts of Circle would require allowing proxies, because I do not like the official minis at all, but have some great mini choices in mind if other minis are allowed. Skorne isn't as much of a problem... I have some alternate mini ideas for cavalry and the big battle engine for them, but I wouldn't be using either of those in this league anyway. So it may be they make up my mind for me- if they don't, well I'll still have to make my sophie's choice.

Thanks for the input all, appreciated :)

Fiendil said...

To be honest, unless you're planning to play strict Steamroller tournaments, I'd not worry quite so much about replacing the models you don't like with alternatives.

If you sit down to play someone in a games store, and they say "those nicely painted, correctly based, spear wielding, lightly armoured infantry aren't the proper Wolves models, so you can't use them", then you're much better off playing someone who's not a massive ass in the first place...

Aaaand, in Hordemachine, in general, there's very few really bad options. (And that's usually just combinations that don't gel well.) Everything has its place, even if the intertron has decreed it sub-optimal, and if you learn to use something well, you'll do better than someone who doesn't know what they're doing with something that's "optimal".

So yeah, use the models you like the look of. I always have.

And, if you're sticking with Kaya for the time being, Bloodtrackers and Bloodweavers are a pretty good option, as Kaya doesn't help her infantry, and as they don't need buffing from the Warlock to be useful.

Oh, and if I remember right, Steamroller rules say that a model must be at least 70% of the original PP model to be allowed, so you still have room for conversions and still be tournament legal.

Laughing Ferret said...

Thanks Fiendil, that's good to know, thanks!
I still don't know which I'll play.. am trying to resist the sudden switch to pigs ;) I do like the look of carver, the war hog & the brigands: very fun minis. the gun boar is alright, if only he looked just like the concept art, if he did: more hunched over, open mouth yelling.. I'd not be able to resist. the mini is ok, but kind of static... the art, well, too bad they didn't copy the pose exactly from that art.

Fiendil said...

Carver is nice and straightforward to play. Roll forward, kill everything, charge with Carver if necessary. Those hogs make a mess of almost anything. And they look awesome.

Hmm. Ok. I'm not quite accurate on the Steamroller conversion rules. The proportions aren't 70%, it's more fluid than that. From Steamroller 2012:

"Playing with a uniquely individualized and painted force is one of the most rewarding aspects of the hobby.
Just as with information disclosure and sportsmanship, players are expected to be unambiguous about model
representation. The following rules must be adhered to when using converted models in organized play.
These rules are meant not to limit a player’s modeling options but rather to allow creativity without generating
an environment that could become confusing during game play. At his discretion, an event organizer can
make exceptions to these rules to approve any reasonable conversion.
A converted model must contain a majority of parts from the WARMACHINE or HORDES model for which the
rules were written. For example, a Testament of Menoth conversion must be composed mostly of parts from
the Testament of Menoth model. The end result of any conversion must be clearly identifiable as the intended
miniature and accurately represent its weapons and equipment as listed in its rules. Any conversions must be
clearly pointed out to your opponent before the game to avoid confusion.
On warrior models, converting and swapping weapons is acceptable provided the new weapon represents
the same type of weapon replaced (like swapping one sword for another). Anything relating to a weapon’s
specific rules must be maintained to avoid confusion on the tabletop. For example, a weapon with Chain
Weapon must still be modeled as a chain-style weapon, and a weapon’s length must be considered when
converting weapons with Reach.
Weapons cannot be swapped on warjack and warbeast models. Since many of the ’jacks and beasts utilize
the same chassis or torso, the weapons are the most identifiable part of the model when looking across the
tabletop. Converting warjacks and warbeasts is still encouraged, but the aesthetics of the weapons must be
maintained. Modifying weapons is permitted, as long as the end result is easily identifiable as the intended
warjack or warbeast’s proper weapon.
The models with ―upgrade kit‖ blisters are an exception to the standard conversion rules. Because the parts
in these blisters define an entirely separate model for rules purposes, all parts must be clearly visible on the
model for legal tournament use. For example, a helljack with one claw and one harpoon is not Malice. The
model must have the correct head, harpoon blade, and all three spirit parts from the Malice upgrade kit in
order to be considered Malice.
Miniatures must be on their appropriately-sized WARMACHINE/HORDES base, but scenic details can be
added. The base’s perimeter must always be considered when modeling scenic details. While it is acceptable
for scenic elements to overhang the base’s edge, the base itself and not the scenic elements is used for all
measurements. The edge of a model’s base must not obscured to the point that accurate measuring
becomes difficult or impossible."

Fitch Face said...

Hey hey hey! Not all theme-decks in Magic the Gathering are rubbish. I had a deck where every creature was either a squirrel or had a specific effect on squirrels. I barely ever lost!

On the subject of Elephant vs Wolf, I wouldn't be able to choose. All those miniatures look astounding.

Laughing Ferret said...

Fitch: Sounds like a fun deck :) My favorite deck wasn't too bad, it was 'The Land that Time Forgot": red & green: dinosaurs, giant insects, lightning, lava, lots of apes. The problem wasn't so much that theme decks were rubbish or powerful, but that I'd play a theme deck against ones with no theme-just an engine for winning, didn't feel like a 'story' if that makes sense. I'm too much of a fluff gamer ;)

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