Why is the grass always greener for other Warmachine and Hordes factions?
Chalkboard here from Chalkboard War, with a quick rumination about why Warmachine and Hordes players are often subject to a particular form of envy: Faction Envy. Now that we’re two months into Mark III, it’s all the more apparent in the dialog that many players are having in local metas, on social media, and on the Warmachine and Hordes forums. Why do we get it, and what might we do about it?
Envy Grows from Desire to Win
We all like to win. Competition is some part of our reasoning for playing, and while it may not be the only thing, you cannot deny that people enjoy triumph on the tabletop. And that desire, when combined with a game with internal balance, is at the root of envy about other Factions. Because we want to win, we put undue pressure on the Faction(s) we’ve chosen to have all of the answers and all of the abilities that can lead to success. We clamor for everything to be given to the Faction of our preference, yet rail against moments when any other faction gets something that threatens our ability to continue to triumph.
Some players would sacrifice everything to win every time. Of course, the fact that we’ve got heroes that demonstrate that quality doesn’t help (I’m looking at you, Malakov2).
Where it gets all the more complicated is that for most players, resources are limited. We cannot own every single army and every single model. There are going to be things that we don’t ever get the chance to play. Yet we get exposed to them anyhow: we know their rules, we see others run them on the table, and we get defeated because of their abilities.
That combination: desire to win, plus inability to play everything, leads to a definite feeling at times of wishing we could be playing another faction (while not always having the ability to actually get the models and play that faction).
The Design of Warmachine and Hordes (Purposefully) Increases the Feeling
Warmachine and Hordes are balanced… for the most part. We can talk some about factions that may have a few better options than others, but ostensibly it’s a balanced system. The Factions are designed to keep each other in check, to ask certain questions of an opponent and answer certain questions themselves. And for that reason the factions cannot have EVERYTHING. By design, there are going to be gaps and flaws in forces–they’re going to do certain things well, and other things less well. We may want our faction to be able to win every single game always, but that wouldn’t actually be fun.
And let’s call a spade a spade here: it’s by design. I’m not faulting Privateer Press at all for this, but of course they make moves that keep every faction feeling like they’re missing a certain something. Mercenaries and Minions do a lot of this: lacking something? Why not add another piece that completes just that role? Get enough of them, and well… why not start a full Mercs or Minions faction? That increases sales. As does that feeling of envy that leasts to being finally too frustrated by that opposing faction that you decide “well, I might as well join them!” Again, this isn’t faulting Privateer Press about this, but if we step back from our moments of Faction Envy we can recognize and understand that it’s going to be built into the system.
What is a Warmachine and Hordes Player to Do?
I think there are two options. The first is, simply switch. Paint up a new force, build a new army, grab those pieces that win the way you’re envious of today. You wouldn’t be the first person to do it, and you won’t be the last.
That said, not everyone can make that move. There are sunk costs, armies we’ve already focused upon, scores of models we’ve already painted, and more. What is the person who is a bit more stuck with their faction to do?
My advice is: focus on unlocking what makes your faction special. A great start is to simply talk to others, and ask them what they are envious about when it comes to your faction. I was primarily a Skorne player in Mark II, and I’m at least 50% inclined to stick with them in Mark III. And Skorne players are notoriously envious of other factions (may have even contributed to this article topic). In playing some opponents recently, I tried to focus on talking with them about what they worry about in Skorne. It was a good reminder that the beasts are fearsome, the Fury management is top-notch and lets you do more with what you’ve brought, and that other factions wish they had the sheer amount of Shield Guard that many Skorne lists can manage.
So take a moment to ask others about what they are envious of in your faction. Trust me, it helps. Seeing that the grass is pretty green on your side of the fence as well does pretty well at slowing Faction Envy to a crawl.
Keep that in mind when the faction that seems to get all the nice things gets yet another nice thing. Picture entirely unrelated (with heavy sarcasm).
~ What’s your faction, and what are you envious of in other Warmachine and Hordes factions? How do we deal with the fact that our faction(s) of choice cannot have everything? What does your faction do that other players envy?
If you want to reduce your envy by seeing his Skorne flail wildly, check out Chalkboard’s blog at: