A new edition is the perfect time for 40k players to give Warmachine and Hordes a try.
Okay, 40k player. You’ve seen Warmachine and Hordes before. Maybe you’ve even tried it. It’s that game that goes on in the other wing of the convention hall. The one where the armies seem a lot smaller, and the boards are 4×4 rather than 4×6. The one where they’ve got the little stacked circles next to their models, and their rules on small cards (or often on their tablets/smart phones). The game with the cool mousepad-scenario zones and the occasional model drinking beer. Many of you have even tried Warmachine or Hordes before–back in the early 2000’s when it first dropped, or in 2010 when Mark II was released. But somehow it never clicked, and 40k is the space (literally) for you.
Well, take a moment to consider that it might be time to try Warmachine and Hordes for the first time (or a subsequent time). I’m not saying you need to sell your Space Marines, set fire to your Tyranids, and completely buy in to a Warmachine and/or Hordes faction right away. But this is a moment where Warmachine and Hordes may be perfectly placed for you to have a lot of fun with the game. There are two arguments here: one, that the start of a new edition (Mark III of Warmachine and Hordes) is a particularly great time to give the game a try; and two, that there are some things that Warmachine and Hordes does well that can be a respite from the fatigue that 40k as your dominant game can bring. I’ll deal with each in turn.
Warmachine and Hordes: Easy Entry and Even Playing Field
Privateer Press just launched a new edition of Warmachine and Hordes, two game systems that share the same world of fluff and are completely compatible–their rulebooks have a short section of rules that even covers the differences in the other. And with that, they’ve released new Battlegroup Boxes for each faction. And they’re a prime reason that this is the moment to try things out. The new starter boxes are $39.99; a REDUCTION in price by $10 (U.S.) from their prior introductory boxes, but come with so much more. Each contains a fully playable force that you can get started with, including a host of really competitive warcasters and warlocks (the generals of your force). But what comes with is even more important: the boxes contain a complete mini rulebook for the game, that has everything you need to play, as well as a set of tokens that you can use to track resources and buffs/debuffs in the game.
Everything you need to despoil your foes and bring the rise of the great Dragon Toruk to power.
This past Wednesday when they were released, I did my best to put myself in the mindset of a new player to the game–and more than ever before it’s simply super-accessible. The starter boxes also come with a short booklet that details some (but not all) tactics for the box, plus fluff for the faction and some ideas for where you might expand your army. And the advice is really good, not some dubious “add one of everything” kind of suggestion. It also comes with a set of 10 Basic Training missions that you can play through yourself that show all the different facets of the game.
So not only is the new kit at a good price point, and accessible to new players, but the game is fundamentally leveled right now. People are still figuring out what works well in the new edition–so it’s a great time to learn with everyone else (I’m still trying to puzzle out how many warbeasts I might need to take to make things work in my own forces–just a few and go troop heavy, or a great number to cope with heavy armor?). Many locations are also just starting developmental play leagues (called Journeyman Leagues) that are ideal for a brand-new player to get going with a first force and learning games. The best part of one of those leagues, is that you can start earning the amazing prize support that Privateer Press produces as you go (patches, metal enamel pins, accomplishment coins, etc.). The game isn’t without its detractors and complainers, and maybe it’s just the spot of the world where I happen to reside, but there’s a whole host of people playing to have fun with Warmachine and Hordes right now. So why not grab a starter box and at least see what the game is like now?
40k Woes: Burgeoning Rules and Boardgaming
If I was looking to get readers riled up, I’d jump right into a flame of 40k and welcome the railing against my comments. Note that I’m not particularly inclined to do that, as I enjoy 40k a great deal. I’m actually having more fun with my games of 40k this year than I’ve ever had in my 20-some steady years of playing the game. I’m involved in a growing campaign with a few friends, painting a new force for it, and simply having a great time every time my six-siders hit the table.
From a recent game I played with my Tau. Grimdark indeed.
That said, I think there’s a particular phenomenon going on with 40k and Games Workshop lately that may mean it’s at least worth your time to check out a different game. We’ll call it the “Formation Situation”. 40k is awash with a glut of formations, complications, interactions, and allies. There’s just simply SO MUCH out there. And while that’s really fun for a player like me, who wants to play 40k to tell a story and have interesting, epic-scale narrative battles, it bears a cost on the competitive side. Competition and tournaments in 40k follows the arms race mentality. It’s about buying a larger contingent of bigger and better weapons. Be really, really honest. In your last ten games, how many did you out-play your opponent on the tabletop, and how many did you out-spend them in army creation? And how do new players even start the game and manage that complexity?
Now Warmachine and Hordes does have complexity too–and people feverishly playtest their army lists to get just the right combination for success. But the game is tournament-focused by design to be a tight set of rules. It’s carefully curated by the company, judges, and the players to make certain problematic interactions are clarified, and there’s a regular errata schedule that’s followed. In the run-up to the release of the new edition, players would request info on rules and the lead developers themselves would respond in the forums. The game is increasing, but having played more than a few games now of the new edition, the rules are tighter than ever. There’s a current dispute about a new wording in the new rules, and already it’s being solved and decided by the designers and communicated to the players.
Not only that, but notice the trend that Games Workshop is taking right now. They’re putting a whole lot of effort into producing board game after board game, which is curious at best. They’re releasing dubious pairings of flyer kits with odd rules to sell to a demographic that isn’t exactly asking for that. Whether it’s a cash grab or an attempt to lure new players to the edition is unclear, but what matters most is that they’re expending effort in those directions rather than others. One way to send a message about that move (if it bothers you) is to take a brief break. While Warmachine and Hordes are in a good place to try things out, the same applies to X-Wing, Armada, Imperial Assault, Guildball, Flames of War, and 18mm Napoleonics, all of which are pretty good too–and places to rest in while GW decides if they’re going to make 40k more competitive and comprehensible. And I’d encourage Warmachine and Hordes simply because of the new edition and what I said above.
Warmachine: Give a Play, 40k
Again, I’m not saying set your Dark Eldar army on fire and become a convert to a new game system thanks to reading a single article on Bell of Lost Souls. But I am saying that it’s a particularly good junction of time to give the game a try. A new, cheaper-than-ever starting point with literally everything you need except card sleeves and a dry erase marker gets you into Warmachine and Hordes. And a moment when perhaps you might need a breather from your preferred system, some time to see where the game is headed and what you actually want to get out of a game. So why not take a chance, and give Warmachine and Hordes a play, 40k?
~ Interested in checking it out? What is keeping you from giving it a try? Am I being too hard on GW? Let us know in the comments section below!
If you want to see a gamer balancing between Warmachine/Hordes and 40k, check out Chalkboard’s blog at: