Warmachine: Two Months of Pre-Measuring

 

Bell of Lost Souls Two Months of Pre-Measuring Measuring Tools

How has the change to pre-measuring been affecting your games of Warmachine and Hordes?

Chalkboard here from Chalkboard War, with a quick question for the Warmachine and Hordes community: now that you’ve been pre-measuring for about two months’ worth of games, how is that change affecting your gameplay?

In my local meta, many people seem pleased by the fact that they can pre-measure. There’s a bit of grumbling, mainly from those who admit that they were good at distance estimation in Mark II, which comes from losing a potential advantage over opponents who didn’t have that skill. But most have expressed that they like the change for reasons of fairness and simplicity. Online, as always, there’s a small and vocal segment of people for whom this change has “ruined the game” and/or their entire lives apparently. It seems to be the minority, however it’s always hard to sort out majority belief on forums and social media.

Like it or not, pre-measuring is a part of the game. So I’d like to move past the reactions and focus first on what the actual changes in Warmachine and Hordes gameplay are from the swap. In my own games, I’ve noticed two distinct changes that link to the fact that my opponent and I can pre-measure: many people are taking more time to decide their turns, and I’m looking more particularly at threat ranges when thinking about what to include in my force. I’ll explore each in turn.

Game Time and Proxy Basing

I think pre-measuring has lead to some players increasing their thinking time in the game–particularly in their planning of each turn. Most of us have the first first turns of our various forces down like clockwork, but later turns are where the plotting and planning comes into the game. We need to figure out what to do, how the battle will flow, and what pieces are in danger or can press the advantage. That rumination time has always been a part of the game, but how does pre-measuring affect it?

Bell of Lost Souls Two Months of Pre-Measuring Chess Clock

Watch the clock, folks. Decide and go. 

I’m seeing a fair number of opponents who spend a lot of time thinking through their turns. They pre-measure out every maneuver, thinking through all of the exact landing zones for their models. Many players are using proxy bases more often too: measuring to a point, placing a proxy base, and asking me “okay, do you agree this is where that model can reach?” I’ve done the same myself–I’m finding I do a fair amount of setting down my 1×4 wall template marker as a rough “this is as far as that unit/model can reach” marker to guide my subsequent movement.

Overall, I think that’s all good. Pre-agreeing where a model can reach, or knowing how close you can get without danger, improves the game. Yet it comes at a cost: it increases the time of the turn. Sometimes a little, sometime massively. In a friendly, non-timed game which some players choose to play, there’s no real problem. It may merely limit you from getting a second game in during an afternoon or evening session. But for those of us who prefer to play with a chess clock, it adds a new wrinkle to games. Pre-measuring becomes a commodity, and choosing it comes at a cost of your time in the game. The more I work out the exact positioning in advance, the more time I’m spending off my clock.

I think that players will get to the point where they’re generally estimating distance in their heads for most moments, but sorting and recognizing moments when pre-measuring will be important–and budgeting time for that portion of gameplay. It’s a new skill to learn (balancing time vs. certainty), and that’s exciting.

Gameplay and Warmachine Keep-Away

Okay, so let’s start with the fact that we’ve always played “keep-away” in this game. Units with greater threat ranges have hung just outside of the range of their opponents’ ability to charge them. That’s not new. What is new, is explicitly knowing that models are out of range. Purposefully measuring and hanging at distance that keeps foes from getting to them. This might be affecting people’s attitudes about liking pre-measuring–it’s feeling certain that you’re out of range, rather than likelihood of being out of range.

More importantly than the feeling, however, is how that certainty affects our choices in the units we take. Slow units were always slow, but somehow the certainty of them being out-maneuvered in the Warmachine keep-away game. They’re in the same spot they always were–we just feel their lack of speed more. And thus I for one seem to be skipping over models that suffer in a certain-distance world when constructing lists.

Bell of Lost Souls Two Months of Pre-Measuring Skorne Immortals

Sorry Immortals… But your methods of getting there faster can be avoided by my foes or force me to kill my own models, so the pre-measuring world isn’t right for you right now. 

I’m seeing people opting for very quick lists, for options that effectively keep foes from reaching them. Casters who can speed up one warjack/warbeast are good, and those who can move the whole group faster all the more so (except Xerxis2… because the Skorne Mark III motto “Mobility is a trap” is so very, very true) are being highly prized. Likewise abilities that can reduce effective range are all the more cruel in the world of pre-measuring. Spells like rift and terrain abilities/movement penalties were always nasty, but now they’re all the more ugly in the mind of your foe.

~ So how has pre-measuring changed your game? Does it affect the time you’re taking? Are you using Proxy Bases in the process? Does it affect the gameplay itself? Is it affecting your list construction choices (e.g. including threat extenders, leaving slow units on the shelf, etc.)?

If your opponent is taking too long pre-measuring, why not use the moment to check out Chalkboard’s blog at:

www.chalkboardwar.com

  • ZeeLobby

    I definitely enjoy pre-measuring. I didn’t mind eyeballing it either, having come from old-school WHFB, I was pretty good at it. No one in our group proxy bases though. We simply measure, try to make sure we’ll be in range, and then see how it plays out. I do think basically playing a whole turn before playing a whole turn is just kind of silly.

    I can see why people would do it in an uber-competitive event, but if I’m not as close as I thought I was, or the position I picked puts me outside of my casters control range, so be it. Proxy basing, for me, is like putting out 8 additional chess pieces on the board to plan your next 8 moves. It just seems silly to me.

    That said, what I’m most excited for is Runewars, and the idea of actual initiative based turns, and unknown pre-planned actions. I could see how this would become my favorite version of wargaming rules.

    • crcovar

      While I’ve not played myself, I’ve heard that shifting of range disputes to before an action (thus not wasting it) instead of after has emboldened player tactics. Which sounds like a good thing to me.

      • ZeeLobby

        It’s a huge plus. Being able to say “Do you agree that my guy is in range right now” and having a verbal sign off from your opponent solves a lot of the later games argument. It’s something our group did in 40K a lot as well with shooting.

    • shaydozer

      I am losing my mind waiting for Runewars I almost wished they had waited to announce it closer to release.

  • zeno666

    I’m ok with it.
    Not a huge fan, but there was some strange ways to pre-measure stuff in Mk2, so now you don’t have to jump through hoops to get it done. And its easier if you’re a beginner.
    The only people whining about it so far where just the more experienced players who was good at eyeballing it. They think it was a player skill.
    At one of the local clubs there are some players that really don’t like just because they lost the advantage they had before, so they’re really trying to abuse it and measure as much as they can. So I only play these guys with a timer (which I prefer anyways, in one way or another) and they run out of it quite fast 😉

    • ZeeLobby

      Yeah. Timers are a must when playing these people. Personally I just think it’s crazy. Maybe because I came from a bunch of games where pre-measuring existed, but pre-planning was never really done because, hey, it’s just a game. Sometimes that meant things were out of range, but oh well. I just think people spending 5 minutes at the beginning of each turn measuring and placing proxy bases down just sounds crazy.

      I also think it’s funny that these people were the people who could already eyeball well already. I eyeball pretty well, so I never use proxy bases, because I’m pretty good at knowing where things end up.

    • Grafton Is Dust

      IMO eyeballing it isn’t really a skill per se, as you can do it pretty easily on tiled boards anyway, and the amount of times I saw people saying, “I am now going to measure my control range,” just to see whether their Carnivean would make the charge made it irrelevant in my eyes anyway.

  • Richard Mitchell

    With most of our gaming scene here in Texas consisting of games that allow premeasuring it was not a big deal. What it did change was the lists. Ranged and combined arms approaches are more important now as lures to move the enemy closer or force them closer to you.

    • ZeeLobby

      Yeah, pre-measuring changes the ranged game a lot. Now it’s mandatory to play scenario if you want a good game in WMH at least. But that’s always been the case to some degree. I’ve played 40K without objectives or scenarios, and usually it just came down to who could wipe the other person first with superior firepower. It’d be cool if GW introduced more scenarios that required models to get into the thick of things. Might promote more CC in lists.

      • zeno666

        Yes please!
        Then it might even be somewhat amusing to watch some 40k games. As things are now its way too static.
        Thats one of the great things (imho of course) with Warmahordes, that there is movement even when things are in close combat.
        They just don’t stand around, you have options still to free up space, block and engage.
        Its not a clutter of rules that wants the game to turn into autopilot.
        Also run to engage and choose to disengage and sacrifice models to make space for others to do the work. Those two are very valuable lessions for newcomers to learn.

      • Drpx

        Being able to take objectives and earn points before the end of the game was a step in the right direction imo. Gave gunlines an exploitable weakness and made assaults something that had to happen even if only to stop an enemy from scoring.

        • ZeeLobby

          Yeah, it was definitely a good step. Maelstrom is interesting, but winning through luck doesn’t mean the game is really improved. Scoring each turn is good though.

  • Jay Mort

    I think we’d be better served with less effeminate r-selected outgrouping and more objective look at both sides of the issue with equal and unbiased fairness.
    I don’t like pre-measure, in any game system… as a general rule used whenever you want.
    It tends to slow gameplay.
    It tends to make people play the rules, instead of playing the game.
    It takes away both skill and uncertainty.

    • Grafton Is Dust

      What does effeminacy have to do with pre-measuring? Like, at all?

      Also how is not measuring a, “skill?”

    • JN7

      Baloney. You use movement to force your opponent to react. That occurs with or without pre-measuring. Eyeballing distance is not a skill that should be required for playing a game. The only people that really don’t like it were the ones that depending on having that knack to beat new players. I don’t even know where you’re going with the “effeminate” nonsense.

      • Grafton Is Dust

        I mean, all it does is check if you have decent eyesight, depth perception and spatial reasoning. It’s also a piece of cake if you know the average size of the board, any tiles used, the size of terrain, etc, etc.

  • ChubToad

    Premeasuring helps the game a lot. I cannot forget how many times I failed a charge by 1/50 of an inch only to have my opponent say “Ha! Failed Charge!!”