Confessions of a Warmachine Noob: The First Game

After a few attempts I managed to arrange my first game of Warmachine. Since then I’ve played a couple of times against different opponents, each time using my Khador Battlegroup. Before I get into my opinions about the games I want to write about my experiences joining a new group. It’s not always easy so I have some tips to help out those who may have problems. Someone beat me to the punch but here we go anyway.

False Starts and First Games

The Warmachine group in my area uses Facebook to coordinate games. This helps members make sure that there’ll be someone at the store to play with in an otherwise unstructured community. I knew about the Facebook group but wanted to see what would happen if I simply took the store’s event calendar at face value and showed up on Warmachine night, painted models in hand and no idea how to play the game. Not everyone wants to spend time researching their hobby on the internet and wouldn’t know about Facebook groups.

Unfortunately for me there had been a large Warmachine event the night before and decided to take the day off. I sat watching E3 coverage for a half hour before heading home. Yes, these articles are being written in advance so expect a little bit of a time warp.

Tip 1: Don’t Give Up

Wargame communities are build by gamers with a passion for the game. Often they are putting a lot of time and effort into the community without much reward. I could easily have decided I didn’t want to waste my time waiting for a group that didn’t show up but then where would I have been. Instead I packed up my miniatures the next week and tried again.

Warmachine Khador Destroyer
My Warmachine Khador Destroyer Heavy Warjack on the snowy field of battle.

Tip 2: Be prepared to play, but don’t expect it.

The next week I had better luck as there were two players from the Warmachine community having a game when I arrived. Once again I had brought all my stuff, ready to play, even though I didn’t think it was likely to happen. I’d rather bring my stuff and not use it than to have someone offer to give me a teaching game and realize I didn’t have my miniatures. It’s likely that most gamers will have already arranged their games before coming to the store so unless you’ve arranged a game you shouldn’t expect to play. Then again, you never know when there will be an extra player in need of an opponent.

I was able to meet people from the community where I was officially invited to the Facebook group. This allowed me to request a teaching game for the next week. In the meantime I watched their game and tried to follow it the best I could.

Tip 3: If you make plans, honour them.

I didn’t run into this issue but it is important for a list of tips for joining a community. If you make a commitment, honour it. This doesn’t mean that you have to show up if something important comes up. However, in the world of smart phones there is no excuse for not letting people know you won’t make it. Obviously letting them know in advance is best but if it’s not possible dropping them a line when you are already late is still helpful.

Warmachine Khador vs Cygnar
Squaring off over the objectives. Warmachine Khador vs Cygnar.

Tip 4: Learning before winning.

This is another tip that I didn’t come across playing Warmachine but is still important. As an Alpha Gamer and primary rules-knower amongst my friends I am usually responsible for teaching games. When I play a game I’m not familiar with I like to just try things and see what happens. I’ll learn more playing the game through than I will by analyzing every option with imperfect knowledge, or getting salty when make a mistake or lose due to a lack of rules knowledge.

Do I Like Warmachine?

Now that I’ve played four games of Warmachine I feel like I can honestly judge whether I like it or not. When I said before that it wasn’t a game I liked I was basing my opinion completely on a vague understanding of the rules and the miniatures. I don’t like people who judge a game just on reading the rules, sometimes you just don’t know until you’ve played. Here are my thoughts.

Warmachine Is Fun

At the end of the day I have to admit that Warmachine is a fun game. I had fun when I played it using very small forces and I expect that it will be better with a proper army. The rules work and most of the thinking you do during a game of Warmachine is trying to evaluate whether one action or another is the best play. This is a good sign of a well designed game.

I also like that Warmachine is very tactical. When I play most wargames I try to manuever for advantage, gain local superiority and the other things that win wargames. In Warmachine those choices are clearer and if you are good enough you can evaluate the best course of action. I appreciate that and do enjoy it.

Warmachine Khador vs. Cygnar
The ‘casters square off. Warmachine Khador Sorscha vs. Cygnar Stryker.

Warmachine Is Math

Depending on how strong a person is at math Warmachine can easily become a headache. Even rolling the dice involves a lot of addition and subtraction. I think I would get quicker at it the more I play but I find I’m really slow when I try to come up with what I need to make an attack or to figure out how much damage I just did.

Warmachine Lacks Narrative

The tactical puzzle that is Warmachine takes away from the story that I like to see in a wargame. I know some people may argue but I find that the game feels more like a puzzle than a battle. There is plenty of room to interpret the events of the game in a cinematic manner but there isn’t time. I also find that everything is a pawn to the end-game. Partly this is the caster-kill mechanic where no matter how far behind a player is if they manage to kill their opponent’s caster they win. This is fine and it is possible to win through objectives. It does give the game a feeling that nothing before the caster assassination attempt really matters, like those game shows where the final round is worth so many points the earlier rounds didn’t really matter.

Warmachine Is Not For Me.

As much fun as I had playing Warmachine it still isn’t my game. Primarily it’s the lack of narrative and overburdened tables that leaves me wishing I was playing something else. There are other games where I have more fun, win or lose, than I can in a game of Warmachine. Throughout this whole experience I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d much rather play something else.

It’s still a fun game and I think I’ll still play but this experience has spurred me to look further afield for a community playing the type of game I like. This is my first experience picking up a game, playing it with people and then deciding to move on to something else. It is strangely bittersweet. Leave a comment if you’ve ever done the same and why you made that decision.

I hope you enjoyed this series on my journey into Warmachine. You can keep up with my next games on Google+, Twitter or my blog, The General’s Tent.

  • That seems like a very fair opinion of the game. I can’t comment, as I’ve never played it, but I can understand the narrative thing. For me 40K is that way and I can find to be a very thematic game. Some might say too thematic at times but without it a game just isn’t fun. Chess is a great game from a rules perspective and balance but has no narration, no theme, it’s just a game and just a game only goes so far for me.

  • BenitoSenence

    Yeah as popular as Warmachine/ Hordes is, the Magic deck building mechanic and executing the caster’s feat are challenging and not something that leads to story. I recommend Infinity or Malifaux. Both those games are ripe for story and rules are pretty balanced. We at Spectre Studios cant get enough Infinity. There isn’t pawn pieces any model with a gun can kill somebody which feels real and cover is the survival difference in most cases. It’s big with Math but after awhile you get used to it. Keep up the articles. I really enjoyed your series!

    • Tyler Provick

      Thanks Benito. It is because I found a group playing Infinity that I’ve decided to drop Warmachine. I’ll see about writing another series for Creative Twilight. I just have to balance between my own blog and here.

  • Per Hagman

    Something that could give some more narrative is to pick a diffrent caster and chose to play there themeforce. That can both be intersting but also more narrative.

    As you pickted Khador as faction, I would chose to play the hag, a wonderful miniature with fun mechanics.

    • Tyler Provick

      Thanks for the advice. The Old Witch does look like a very fun caster. Playing Warmachine made me want to play games like Infinity so badly that I looked harder for an Infinity group and found one who plays on my schedule.

      • Per Hagman

        That´s sounds great that you found a new group to try out Infinity with. I hope you write about that journey too ;)

        Myself got inspired by you and started up warmachine again! Crazy but I bought today an all in one box with retribution of Scyrah. This should be intresting :D

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