Monday, 6 June 2011

In the grim darkness of the far future, there is only War(machine)

I think a lot of the Jacks in Warmachine look pretty cool. But things like this are a bit gangly for my taste...
I am going to be honest with you. I had barely even heard of Warmachine or Hordes (Warmahordes) before 8th edition Warhammer Fantasy was released. I am aware that the game has been around for years, and that there have been people playing it in the past. However, it was not until 8th edition was released, people tried it, and a lot of them found they didn’t like it, that Warmahordes really leapt into prominence for me.

I am afraid that my view of Warmahordes may always be coloured by the way the game came to be noticed. A whole swathe of Warhammer players decided to “jump ship”, in some cases selling all their Warhammer armies as they went, and took up this alternative game system. This could be seen as unfortunate from a Warhammer player’s perspective (the loss of a significant number of players is always going to be a blow), however there is nothing otherwise wrong with it. The problem came when these same players then made it their personal mission to try to drag everyone else with them.

I can understand having enthusiasm for a game, especially when it is new to you and the novelty is still strong. I can also understand wanting to tell other players about the game, to make sure they know the game is there, and what it’s about. However, there is a limit to how many times I need to hear about a new game, and when I feel like the invitation is delivered in the form of an attack on my current hobby, I feel I am entitled to get grumpy. Those people who have tried more than 10 times to get me to jump ship, this is directed at you. Admittedly, I don’t normally get grumpy. I normally just ignore you. But hey…

Pete Dunn has written something along these lines already today, over on Fields of Blood. This is not a stab at Warmahordes. It’s a stab at those stabbing incessantly at Warhammer. See it here.

Having seen a number of games being played (without paying too much attention), I can see the things people like in Warmahordes. However, what I don’t see is why the game gets bandied about by some people as a Warhammer killer. The game is completely different. Warhammer is (and has recently become more so) about large battles between potentially hundreds of models, generally moving in entire regiments of troops. It’s a battle game. Warmahordes is a skirmish-level game, with the models moving individually and the troops numbering in the dozens or less. How is this the same thing? It may be that the same player may have an interest in both systems, or both scales of game, but that does not make it a replacement in the proper sense.

I have never really gotten into a skirmish-level game. There are obviously financial advantages to playing a game that uses far fewer models. I suspect 8th edition pushing towards even larger regiments heightened this aspect of Warmahordes’ appeal. I have never pretended that Warhammer is an affordable game. However, it is the ranked up formations of infantry and cavalry that drew my attention to Warhammer in the first place, and a large part of its visual impact. I have played a handful of games of Mordheim and Necromunda, but they never really grabbed me. And this is despite the additional handle these games have for me, being set in the worlds I already game in. It’s possible the games would have held more appeal with a superior rule set, but this was only part of the problem.

I doubt I will ever play Warmahordes. Part of this will come down to the way the game has been pushed at me and my natural, irrational stubbornness. Part of it will come from my not really being interested in a skirmish-level game when I could be pushing around whole regiments and eating the other player’s regiments with enormous dragons. Part of it will be me persevering with my chosen game, even as many of those around me stop playing it, for fear that it might stop being played in our group altogether (something I confess fills me with dread, given my enjoyment of the game and my colossal over-investment in it). Part of it will be that I don’t really have time for another game system without playing it instead of Warhammer (something I will not do as I just stated above).

And part of it will be that I am a Warhammer player (albeit one who has been angry at GW for some time, and who sees little hope of that changing in the near future). It is part of who I am, and has been for many, many years. I am inclined to defend my hobby, warts and all, from the predations of others. I won’t try to stop other people from playing other games, and I know many people will play more than one game at a time. However, for the time being, given the limited time that I have and the resources I have already accumulated, Warhammer is the game for me.

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