Confessions of a Warmachine Noob: The Journey Begins

I am an Alpha Gamer. I run my own blog, host a bi-weekly board game night and the majority of my friends play the games they play because I introduced them to the hobby. My board game cravings are mollified by this arrangement but my miniature wargame addiction continues to rage. An attempt to convert some friends with Deadzone failed and it is now time for desperate measures.

What follows is a journal of my journey to finding a miniature wargame that I can actually play. It is not advice on how to get started on a game, it is a confessional of the mistakes I will make. As an Alpha Gamer I don’t have someone to guide me, I am that someone. So, I will go it alone, forge my path and report back here.

Looking for GAME

The first step along my path was deciding on a game. I had a fully painted set for Deadzone, Heavy Gear: Blitz!, a platoon of WWII Canadians in 28mm and a handful on Infinity. Should I try to find opponents for these games or start a new one?

A chance encounter sealed my fate. As an Alpha Gamer keeping a bi-weekly game night running for six years requires constant recruitment. When I catch wind of a fellow boardgamer, or even of a potential boardgamer, I pounce like a hunting animal. A friend who doesn’t like boardgames mentioned I should meet another friend of his who does. Quick as a flash I had his email and was inviting him to my game night, which we call Nerdnight, with only two days notice.

Now I had three new gamers (they often travel in packs), one of whom mentioned playing Warmachine. At the time I thought that it was unfortunate that he didn’t play any good miniature wargames. I had seriously considered playing Warmachine back in the 2nd Edition Beta but I just couldn’t bear the aesthetic of either the miniatures or the rules. I was too stubborn and wanted to play the game I liked with the miniatures I liked.

The next day I kept thinking about how I might convince this utter stranger to adopt one of my own game systems when I realized that perhaps it was time to swallow my pride and give Warmachine a try. My closest local game store sells only Warmachine and Hordes miniatures and it always filled me with sadness that I couldn’t support this recently opened store because they weren’t stocking the games I was interested in. I must admit that having a modest amount of money earmarked for hobby spending burning a hole in my pocket may have had an influence.

Warmachine Khador Battlegroup Starter Box by Privateer Press
I love the idea of starter sets, so this box really appealed to me. Wamachine Khador Battlebox Copyright Privateer Press, Inc.

That day, a Saturday, I went out of my errands fully intending to pick up the Khador Battlegroup starter if the store carried it. When I had previously looked at Warmachine I liked the look of the Khador ‘Jacks so I already knew what I wanted to play. That day I visited four other hobby stores and an art supply store before I finally stopped into The Kessel Run.

I looked at the Khador box. I looked at some Trollkin. I thought and thought. I wandered around the board game aisle and the rpg aisle, I wandered through the Magic PPTQ happening in the back. I saw that there was a dedicated Warmachine night posted on the store calendar. I made the mistake of picking up a Vlad booster. Oh, the shoulderpads! They hurt me, right in the soul. I left. I just couldn’t handle the shoulderpads.

Warmachine: Vladimir Tzepesci - The Dark Champion
This guy looks tough, as long as you don’t attack him from the sides where he is completely blind. Warmachine Khador Warcaster Vladimir Tzepesci, Copyright Privateer Press, Inc.

It took me until Sunday to work up the nerve to return. I would only pick miniatures that I liked, I told myself. If I didn’t like the game I’d have two cool robot miniatures to look at, so it wouldn’t be a total waste, It’s more important to play, even if sometimes people ride around the battlefield on a chimney.

Warmachine: Eiryss - Angel of Retribution
Actually, according to the lore Eiryss is a chimneomancer, able to magically summon chimneys to give her the high ground advantage in combat. Warmachine Mercenary Solo Eiryss, Copyright Privateer Press, Inc.

All By Myself

So now I have a box of miniatures, some starter rules and a new game to play. It’s a good feeling, that new game feeling where anything is possible. Now I have to paint my miniatures and introduce myself to the local group and see if someone is willing to play a low point game.

Tune in next time for miniature painting and my thoughts on the miniatures.

Please let me know what your thought of this article in the comments below. Also, I’d love to hear anyone’s adventures in starting a new game. You can also find me on my own blog, The General’s Tent, and on Google+ and Twitter.

Images originating from the Privateer Press website are © 2001—2015 Privateer Press, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Warmachine and their logos are trademarks of Privateer Press, Inc. Images and trademarks used without permission. This website is unofficial and is not endorsed by Privateer Press.

  • Loquacious

    HAHAHA. I love the shoulder pads on the Dark Prince, and HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE (did I mention HATE yet?) Sorscha and her squinty face and terrible stumpy body. Plus, while her abilities are powerful, they are overdone. No one thinks about any other ‘caster in Khador and it’s a shame. I totally understand about the visual element needing to strike your fancy- I refuse to play Cygnar because they are just plain ugly =P

    I haven’t played in quite some time, but WM is a game of interactions. If you play or are familiar with MtG, there are some similar elements in WM/H to MtG. Much of having a good list depends on having pieces that interact together and support each other.

    You have a store full of folks who are willing to help you learn if you let them, and that’s a positive thing. It might be worth your while to watch a game or two just to get an idea how things work before you actually jump in, but that’s a personal choice.

    Have fun if you can!

    • Tyler Provick

      Thanks, the plan is to focus more on how playing Warmachine allows me to play a miniature wargame with people and less on the models and rules.

  • Welcome to the last miniatures you’ll need to push around a table. At least I hope so, with all the time I’m putting into my army.

    • Don’t we always think that of any gaming system we try?

      • We’ll get the rest of your site converted yet….

        • haha!

          I’ve nothing against the game itself but it’s just not my style. I like the squad based combat of 40K and don’t care for skirmish games unless they are campaign oriented like Necromunda or Mordheim. Just personal preference.

          • Yup, for sure. I sometimes miss the interaction with terrain of 40k. Terrain seems to be an add on in Warmachine, while I used to love ducking my Eldar through buildings and forests, hopping up to second and third stories, etc.

            • Terrain is everything in 40K with true line of sight and cover. It really can make or break a game.

    • Tyler Provick

      I am always in awe of people who focus on a single game. It’s not in my nature. How much Warmachine do you have?

      • For the cost of these games, I am always in awe of people who focus on a bunch of games. It’s not in my budget.

        And it’s not really “how much do I have” as it is the effort I’ve put into my army:

        • I’m with ya, man. I would rather be fully invested in one game I love than spread myself thin EVEN if I had the funds, which I don’t anyway.

  • Welcome to the blog and a great first article.

    I have never tried Warmachine but I’m familiar with it, having watched how to play videos before when I was mildly interested. Be interesting to see how this all pans out for you.

    • Warren Falconer

      It is a system with some really interesting ideas I’ve just only enjoyed a few games. As with most wargames the group you play with is the important thing and from the groups I’ve played with and around it was a more take killer combos game. I’m sure it doesn’t have to go that way but I ran into games where you hit a hard counter and the game is over turn 1 or 2 and there was no amount of play or strategy that could have stopped it. I do really like how they use stats around two dice to determine outcomes gives you a much more stable and predictable dice game.

      • Tyler Provick

        I’ve heard that about Warmachine. It is not my preference but I think as long as you go in knowing that about the game it is fine.

        • I actually have to disagree with that statement. I’ve never felt I was cornered into a situation I had no options to deal with, without recognizing I made a mistake and learning from it. Also, no Warmachine game is over turn 1. (Other games like 40k have a long marriage with the alpha strike, where the person who wins the dice off for first turn can do serious long range damage.)

          The combo system is real though. We usually compare it to Magic: The Gathering. You’re building an army with synergies that play off your other models. Convergence applies this on an almost entire army scale. For me, that’s fun, but I can see how others don’t want to mess with those kinds of details and would rather toss handfulls of dice.

          We tend to also make the comparison: 40k’s rules to play are more complicated, but army rules are simpler. Whereas Warmachine’s game mechanics are easier to learn, but the armies have a steeper learning curve.

          • Warren Falconer

            ive got no problem saying the privateer press rules are tighter and easier to learn. Perhaps the issue I had was the person that was supposed to be helping me learn the game. Turn 2 he has a caster kill however there was no place to put my caster that turn2 he couldn’t get the kill. I was playing a fairly beginner army but I also don’t consider myself a slouch. Anyway turn 2 game over. The Mage hunters or what ever it was were tooled up to end my list and I got the feeling he tooled up my list after seeing mine. but anyway that and seeing a few tournaments soured me on it. Again I think the group makes the game the same thing could easily happen in 40k but I find the setting more fun than the pp universe. But i bet with another decade or so of development the pp universe will be much more fleshed out and characterfull

            • It’s always about the community. Hell, the internet bitches and complains about 40K 7th edition and I think it’s the best edition yet. The difference though is we have a cool laid back group of guys playing to have fun. I can see 7th sucking for competitive play but it’s not what we do really and we have no real power gamers so it’s all good.

            • Sounds like you had a poor teacher.. which might speak to your local Warmachine player base if watching tournaments were also a negative experience. Nobody should have a tailored list to teach or go all in. Mind you, a small game does often leave your caster exposed because there’s less to screen with.

              The group absolutely makes the game. My experience though was being in a new strange city with no friends having moved for work and being embraced by an amazing gaming group. That probably does improve my outlook on Warmachine.

              40k does rule in the fluff. But they’ve got decades of writing. Still, the Warmachine fluff is something IveI’ve read a little of, but never felt invested in.

  • Very funny :). Great first post. I hate the thought of war machine and the models make me want to puke, but you had me engaged and I am eager to read more, although I will never even consider playing it.

    • How do you really feel about Warmachine? ;)

    • Warren Falconer

      There are some pretty cool models even if your not into the steam punk deal. The gators and troll bloods are interesting. And the menoth harbinger I think that’s the name are some very interesting models.

      • I may have come a bit strong on my dislike of the models. A few are not too bad ( like the wrack type models) and I am aware that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but overall I have a severe dislike of the general aesthetic, and find the gameplay type of super combo’s less than appealing. Each to their own :)

        • Warren Falconer

          I am with you for the most part and I am quite sure the space marine centurions are a straight up challenge to privateer presses trademark on pauldrons. “I see you like pauldrons bro so I got you some pauldrons for your pauldrons that are on your pauldrons”.

    • Tyler Provick

      Thanks. I think you’ll enjoy my next post where I talk about my first impressions of the models.

      • Cool. I look forward to it :)

    • See, even if you dislike the system, you have to recognize the sculpts for what they are. Compared to the Games Workshop baseline, there’s a ton more detail and expression in Privateer Press’ sculpts. When you look at an army, there appears to be a battle going on… not a bunch of stoic figures standing calmly.

      • I hear ya, but my dislike for the aesthetic really does colour my judgement on their sculpts. Their newer ones for sure are a vast improvement but I still do not like it.

        Having a more skirmish based game really does mean you can lavish more detail onto the minis as there are not so many models on the board, but that would not work for 40k so much, apart from more characters ect.

        Now malifaux have got it right for me in terms of posing and movement of their sculpts. It all comes down to personal preference. I also have no interest in the type of game that warmachine is, so that is also a factor in my distaste of it.

  • BenitoSenence

    Great article, I had played WM before and wish I could get back into it. Although if you can get your group into Infinity they won’t be disappointed

    • Tyler Provick

      I would love to find a group of Infinity players. I had trouble finding people willing to play with small armies amongst my town’s Infinity players.

  • This will be an interesting one to follow for sure. Good luck with it.
    I actually quite like a lot of the looks in Warmachine. To be honest I only got models at the start based on the looks. I have never played a game of it and I am ok with that. I still have my fully painted Magnus with his mechs and Croe with his Cutthroats.

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