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  1. #1

    Default My thoughts on the design of Warmachine

    Before I get to the meat of this overly-long post, I want to make two things clear:

    1) The people I play a game with matters more than the game itself (as long as it's not GW). I've got some good folks to play Warmahordes with, so I'll keep playing it - and when I move, I'll keep my army against the chance of meeting other good people to play with.

    2) I don't expect this post to suddenly make everyone slap their forehead and go, "OF COURSE THIS GAME THAT I LOVE THE STORY, THE CHARACTERS, THE MINIATURES, AND THE GAMEPLAY OF IS ACTUALLY THE WORST THING EVER! Where's my grandpa's Civil War minis, let's replay Gettysburg!" Everyone likes something different, and that doesn't make me right for disliking it and you wrong for enjoying it - and the reverse is also true. Everyone's Fetish Is Different (EFID). I just want to get my thoughts in order to help me persuade several locals to try something different, and as a resource in future arguments about 'which game is better'.

    That said...


    I dislike almost everything about the gameplay of Warmachine. It has multiple aspects of game design that I regard as useless, archaic, annoying, and BAD. The IGOUGO turn sequence, the importance of only one resource, the huge lack of model balance, the plethora of special rules in a big-army battle game, and the averageness of the rulebook editing all grate upon me.

    THE BASIC TURN SEQUENCE
    The basic turn sequence is 95% non-interactive; on your opponent's turn, it's almost guaranteed that you won't be doing anything to influence the board state. Alternating activations and rank-based systems like X-Wing have their problems, but "IGOUGO" is the worst possible in a wargame. Just the absolute rock bottom.

    Why? Because it gives the opportunity for boredom. Who wants to be bored during a game? A game should engage both players as much as possible, and should minimize even the chance of a player yawning as he checks his phone for the time.

    If I trust you, there is nothing for me to do on your turn but pull out my 3DS and breed more Garchomps - I may as well hand you my cards/tablet, leave the table, and come back at the end of your turn, because I can interpret the gamestate just as well then as by close observation during your turn.

    And then it's YOUR turn to sit with an opposable digit crammed in the most convenient orifice while I do everything.

    Compare it to an alternating activation game like Battletech. Every time a player moves a piece, the gamestate changes. A piece that was previously out of reach or had no use during the game might suddenly become important, and even low-value pieces or those whose moves are obvious (slow artillery unit?) can gain value via activating early to eat initiative and observe what the opponent does. It even balances the power of swarms by keeping the ratio intact: If I outnumber you 2:1, I move that many models until I don't outnumber you. Each player is invested in the entire game turn, without the slack moments that IGOUGO provide.

    Or Blood Bowl (not 2016, haven't tried that yet and won't until they release Goblin rules), where the mechanic is "IGOUGO" but adds an element of risk in that if a model fails at an action, it becomes the other player's turn - so you have to balance between doing what you need to score and other actions to get Star Player Points for your team, and if it's not your turn you're avidly watching for the other player to screw up.

    IGOUGO as a wargame mechanic is firmly rooted in the worst of the 1980s, and is embodied best in Warhammer and Warhammer 40k - though to be fair to GW, at least those games give you something to do on your opponent's turn with armor rolls.

    The most frustrating part to me is that Warmachine is well-capable of this style of gameplay (both sides could perform upkeep at the same time, then alternate activations); yet PP specifically chose to keep the archaic 40k-esque activation method intact with the latest version of the rules.

    Try a small game - 25 points - using alternating activations. You might be surprised at how entertaining it is.

    ONLY ONE RESOURCE MATTERS
    Your Warcaster or Warlock is the only piece that actually matters in the game. You can lose literally every other piece you have and it won't matter as long as you take out the other Warnoun.

    That's thematic. It makes perfect sense in the context of the setting that the Warnoun is a combination chess queen AND king: Most capable model, but also the linchpin. But at the level most people will play in (25-75), it also means that the scenario barely matters at all, and every single one may as well read "ASSASSINATION - WITH OTHER GOAL TO RESOLVE TIEBREAKER."

    The single-scenario Assassination (+Other Goal To Resolve Ties) makes the game feel stale: every time you're playing almost exactly the same game and the only thing that can change is how well you know the opposing side's rules.

    Compare that to Malifaux. Even setting aside the Story Encounters (one takes place at a fancy party where you wield poison and bad puns instead of guns!), the basic (Gaining Grounds tournament) rules have five different possible goals for both sides that vary from dragging an informant into your deployment zone to collecting enemy model's heads; also, they have a brilliant sub-strategy system where each side has two hidden goals chosen from five random ones at the start. This means that no two games are ever likely to be the same. Yes, there are killing goals, but there are also non-killing goals - it allows for a much larger design space.

    This leads to another problem...

    MODEL DESIGN IMBALANCE
    No game has perfect balance, and SHOULD NOT. Having some models be better/easier and other models be worse/harder gives noobs room to pick the good stuff to ease learning the game and vets room to pick the bad stuff in order to humiliate their opponent.

    Blood Bowl has teams like the Orcs, Undead, and Amazons that exist at the top of the spectrum: capable of doing just about everything well from running the ball to brawling. It also has bottom-spectrum teams, from almost-competitive (Goblins!) to "I'm going to lose and have fun doing it" Halflings.

    So, yes. A healthy game should have some tiers available.

    But Warmachine's problem here is that it's only got one scenario (with secondary goal to resolve ties), and that means models which are NOT helpful at that one scenario are invalidated. Warnouns fall into three categories: Can do assassinations, can survive assassinations, and can't do either. Stryker1 is recommended only because his Earthquake spell sets up assassinations and his feat lets his army survive long enough to do it. Played well, Wormwood is near impossible to kill via assassination and is one of the top warnouns because of it. Ashlynn is a frontline infantry-mulcher which does not have BLOODY AMAZING (for warnoun) defensive stats: therefore bad by the rules of the game, not as a designed model.

    While focusing on steampowered robots and slavering monsters in MKIII is a good thing and what the game should be about, it compounds the problem of model imbalance. Many of the models carrying over from MKII are still influenced BY MKII and its infantry bias: either being anti-infantry or buffing infantry in a now-useless fashion. In a game dominated by multibox models, they're dead weight cluttering the shelf.

    While it might be future-proofing design in case of a shift in meta, the problem is that there are multiple units out there capable of killing multibox models AND single-box infantry. Take Stormlances: Capable of killing big single targets, capable of taking out big infantry squads, and it means that the choices in Cygnar capable of doing only one or the other are invalidated. Why take them when you could take the zap-throwing knights?

    Making that even worse is the IGOUGO format: a cheap unit might have value as an initiative sink or bait that can't be ignored in alternating activations, but in IGOUGO it's wasted points.

    Speaking of that...

    THE POINTS SYSTEM
    This is a simple one: the points system is anything but straightforward, and filling holes is complicated.

    I don't actually mind the "Warnoun gets freebie points just for robots/monsters", that's simple enough in concept and gives a means of balancing the stronger/weaker warnouns without changing their stats (even if they're afraid to do something like give Haley2 15 points and Caine1 30 to balance out their relative power levels); the problem is that it's unclear why certain things are costed the way they are, and the lack of 1-2 point options, particularly solos, to fill holes.

    Oftentimes you're either running at a deficit of points to play the 'good' stuff or sacrificing one of the good options for an inferior one because that inability to fill the last few points annoys. The models most capable of filling those holes are both injokes and sources of irritation - the Gobber Tinker is HOW MUCH USD for a 2-point model? More than some Warjacks?

    Compare that to X-Wing. Yes, sometimes you can't quite spend all the points, but coming under gives you a minor advantage on the tabletop - and some players actually angle for that advantage by intentionally underbidding.

    As far as points pricing, I personally don't care for black box systems, where a unit goes in one end, a points cost comes out the other end, and we players have no idea what the mechanics of that black box is. It's closed source and because of that may have fundamental flaws - Warhammer 40k is most famous for this, but X-Wing springs to mind with so much of their stuff simply not making sense as to why it costs this and that.

    Compare such systems to Battletech, where they at least released the (overly complicated) formulae by which they determine points costs, and via open-source input have gotten it reasonably accurate: you pay for something, you can be sure it will give that much value on the tabletop. The special rules are weighed and rejudged in a broader context than just the narrow playgroup of the developers, and valued accordingly.

    Oh, speaking of special rules...

    TOO MANY SPECIAL RULES
    So Malifaux 1e had a HUGE problem: too many special rules per model. Each mini had a little booklet listing all its special rules, some of which were on multiple models like "X" Expert or Harmless, and some of which were specific to that miniature only. In one way, that was bad because it meant too much to keep track of; in another way, it was fine, because Malifaux games had 6-10 models maximum per game.

    Warmachine only avoids needing those little booklets by resorting to iconography: if it were required to physically print out the text of each special rule on the card of that unit, many of them would require two cards. All too often, missing one of those special rules when you once-over your opponent's army at the start of a game can make the difference between winning and losing because you lacked information, or momentarily forgot a special rule YOU had during the game.

    Yes, that's on you as a player; however, it's also on the game designer for making their system too complicated. For Warmachine it's the worst of both worlds: A lot of special rules to keep track of (like Malifaux), a lot of miniatures to move and keep track of (like 40k).

    It also raises the bar for entry when a new player has to keep flipping around and around the rulebook to understand various interactions and how his own models work, let alone his opponent's models. Yes, a good community can ease that, but there are an unfortunate number of wargamers whose hateful emptiness can only be filled for a fleeting moment by the 'joy' of victory, and beating beginners who don't understand anything is the easiest route to that - and that sort of behavior permanently alienates said beginner.

    Compounding the problem are rules and attacks which are never, ever used. When was the last time you fired an Arcane Bolt with a Warcaster instead of stacking that two Focus? And yet it's on multiple cards as a 'dead spell' - worthless 98% of the time.

    Compare that to Malifaux 2e, where they decided to place a finite limit on what each model could have on their card, that each special rule HAD to be explained clearly on the card, the rules that apply constantly (Defensive triggers, damage reduction, and so on) are on the front, and the rules you only need during the model's activation (Attack/Tactical Actions) are on the back. It was a conscious choice made for clarity and simplicity.

    Going on the subject of clarity and simplicity...

    WHY NO LISTS OR TABLES?
    I don't ask for much in a rulebook, really. Clear rules with as little cognitive dissonance as possible. An index that can at least point me in the right direction. A comprehensive table of all modifiers that can apply to an attack roll if it's that sort of game. A simple checklist outline to follow step-by-step so new players and old can make sure they don't accidentally miss something important.

    Warmachine, at least the little rulebook I have, scores on the index and that's it. The rulebook doesn't have any unified table anywhere, something like:

    Attack Roll = 2d6
    +MAT (for Melee)
    +RAT (for Range)
    +Focus (if spellcaster with Focus)
    +Magic Ability (if spellcaster without Focus)
    +1d6 (if boosted)
    +/- xd6 (for Special Rules)
    +2 (if Back Strike)
    +2 (if Free Strike vs Melee)
    +2 (if Aim vs Range)
    +x (x=models using Combined Attack)
    -2 (if intervening obstacle vs Melee)
    -2 (if target has Concealment vs Range)
    -4 (if target has Cover vs Range, does not stack with Concealment)
    -2 (if target has Elevation vs Range)
    -4 (if target in melee vs non-spray Range)
    Would be nice.

    The rules also have minor niggling issues throughout - why are some modifiers bonuses to attacker and others bonuses to defender, instead of simply listing the latter as minuses to the attacker? Why is it that ties go to the attacker on Attack rolls, but defenders on the Damage roll? Dropping DEF by 1 universally and making a single unified rule (beat the number on the defender's card) would be great for reducing that dissonance.

    The rulebook is also way too wordy. Flip to the section on Combined Melee Attacks and Combined Ranged Attacks. Read them. Then compare how identical they are, and how they could have been combined into a single section called "Combined Attacks" with short sub-paragraphs describing the minor differences between the two.

    IN CONCLUSION
    The only huge issue I have with Warmachine is the IGOUGO turn structure, and aside from that it's... adequate.

    But that's the problem: it's adequate, and this just after a supposed design overhaul. In software terms, it's not Warmachine 3, it's Warmachine 1.4 (counting for the introduction of Hordes). That would be fine if the basic engine itself were good, but it's clunky with known flaws and problems - and there exist alternatives that are more than adequate.

    For a while I thought the problem might be playing at too low of a point value, not seeing the 'real' game at 10, 25, or even 50 points, but 75 point games are even worse. It's getting harder and harder for me to smile as I belly up to the table and roll for first/second player.

  2. #2

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    Your critiques are very fair. I do like more individual special rules, but I do find that scenario is pretty dull.

    I like the game, but im not gonna attack you just because you said it. But be prepared for everybody else to dogpile you.

  3. #3
    Destroyer of Worlds Octavius_Maximus's Avatar
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    THE BASIC TURN SEQUENCE
    No system is perfect. In IGOYOUGO systems it allows for larger synergy chains to come into the game undisturbed (in general) and it allows players to control their pieces interactions in a more comprehensive manner.

    It isn't boring, either, you need to be planning your own turn on your opponents turn. If you sit there on your phone during your opponents turn its because your deciding to 'just wing it'. Terrible strategy. While i'm waiting for my opponents turn I'm generally creating a general gameplan and changing and altering parts of it while my opponent moves his pieces and removes mine. As soon as your opponent finishes their casters activation you can start working out what they are camping, what you can reach them with and the odds of your assassination. Its why I like having a card folder to write on and erase.

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    The shortest leash ever is on this thread. Anyone violating the Terms of Service will be squashed.

  5. #5
    Destroyer of Worlds Cannotcope's Avatar
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    I agree with many of your points. But as you noted, I still like this game and will continue to play it in the near and probably also distant future, Some thoughts.

    IGOYOUGO is one of my biggest bugbears, as the boredom of watching my opponent take 15+ minutes to design, plan,a dn execute their turn is a bit boring. This can be horrible in games without a clock, and I remember one stand out game where my opponent took 45 minutes to allocate focus (nevermind play his turn). I've been on the other of that though, and remember one game (my first with Testament back in mk1) where my interlocking teardrop shaped formations, designed to protect unit leaders for his Revive ability, meant that my first turn (after taking some 15 minutes to deploy) also took 15 some minutes to untangle (and I seriously considered blowing his feat top of one just to move on).

    That said, this issue tends to become much less of an issue as you and your opponent's gain experience and also begin to use a clock. While my opponents and I still have the occasional 15+ minute turn on deathclock, that turn usually leads to the end of the game.

    Another point in favor of the massive IGOYOUGO turn format is the ability to create detailed and involved plans to execute. Many of us who enjoy this game, love creating those turns where you pull off XXX, then YYY, then ZZZ, and finally roll around to AAA and assassinate the opposing caster (despite his attempts to create an impregnable defense) or push your opponent out of a zone and win on scenario. If units (units & large models/solos) individually alternated activation, it would be harder to set up massive combinations and the game would be very different.

    It might be better as an alternating activation game, but would need a total rewrite of model rules and interactions and costs, and the current crop of players might not enjoy it as much.

    Another issue I have, that you touched on, tangentially, is the disconnect between size of game and rules. This was far less of an issue in Mk1 when we played battlebox games or 250pt games and considered 350pt games to be large tourney games. It also wasn't much of an issue in Mk2 when my group played battlebox games or considered 25pt games to be a reasonable tournament level. These days and in the later parts of Mk1 and Mk2, where 750pts or 50pts were considered more standard (and 75 in the current meta, with a push from some players for 100pts) I feel there is a disconnect between the rules.

    Players on these forums (and people who listen to them and related podcasts and even PP in a way) like to point to 75pts as the current balanced level, or 50pts in Mk2, and maybe 750pts in Mk1, because you get to bring everything you need. What this also means, however, is that you end up playing a game that is closer to "army" level in number of models (yay for 50+ banes or other massive piles of models), but uses rules that are more appropriate for a low-detail skirmish level game.

    In a proper army game, units fight other units, with big important models having slightly more rules/detail, but otherwise being an important unit. In Warmachine & Hordes, units might activate together and be forced to follow the same order, but otherwise each model fights individually. You can have a unit of Trenchers have some models shoot, some models fight in close combat, some models dig in, and some models drop clouds. This isn't a bad idea for a skirmish game, but when you have have 7 minimum size units of Trenchers in a "standard" game (or 4 max units), you're beginning to talk army style game. The detailed rules, but larger number of models is an issue that feeds into the overall timing issue.

    That said, this level of rules is what allows players to come up with their detailed and involved plans, so again, I doubt most current players would enjoy having units change to function as blobs of models rather than as the individuals they are.

    Conversely, PP and players with larger collections may not want to see the game size decrease towards initial Mk1 or Mk2 levels (250-350pts or 25pts). While the level of rules WMH has is appropriate for a current 40pt game (2 jacks 2 units and a solo), that doesn't sell as many models. There are also players who will argue that the game would not be balanced as smaller levels (ignoring how "balanced" it is at 75...).

    There's also some clumsiness in the ability to attack friendly models sometimes, but not in certain ways. It makes zero sense that a Warcaster might be perfectly happy to murder his own models to gain souls, but is unwilling to charge the same models before murdering them. I understand that the ability to attack friendlies exists for a reason, but...

    Another game design issue I have with WMH is the immunity system used (not just the damage types, but other "immunities", like immunity to freestrikes, and conversely thinks that completely turn off other effects, like True Sight vs Stealth). I'm guessing that flat out ignoring all damage from specific sources or otherwise flat out ignoring rules, is part of why balancing this game seems so hard. Cryx might be too good against shooting when you had all stealth/incorporeal armies, but if True Sight & Magic weapons are too easily available, then the converse happens and Cryx becomes to vulnerable. It seems really hard to find some kind of middle point when you're using such black and white on/off rules.

    This said, the game is still fun to play, but you might be right in that it is the opponents who are fun to play, and another game (even GW, as I'll be joining a Bloodbowl league soon) can be just as fun with the right opponents
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  6. #6
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    Since you bring it up...

    I personally quite enjoy the overall complexity of the game. In my opinion it's what allows skill-based play in a dice-based game. This includes formulating plans during my opponent's turn, memorizing my cards beforehand so that I don't forget rules or abilities, and even browsing other factions in War Room for rules familiarity and trying to catch fun or synergistic interactions before I see them on the table. I agree with Cannotcope that, when playing on a clock, some of the most important time spent in a game is the time when your opponent is moving models.

    Overall you do have fair points, they are just points that I don't have any problem with- and some of them I even enjoy.

  7. #7

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    Overall, fairly said, but there are, naturally, counter-arguments to be made.

    Octavius approached point #1, so let me try and go over point #2: I LIKE the "only one resource matters" situation, even though that's not, strictly speaking, what's going on. Even if the only viable scenario goal was caster kill - it's most frequently not, really, but that has variable factors so let's grant you that - it's still true that every model, scrap focus or fury, and any other asset (or "resource") at my disposal is turned to that goal. Two fist-fulls of throwing axes may all have the same ultimate target, but each axe is a unique threat and each of the other mooks in the way is a little bit of ablative meat armor. So it really can't be true that nothing "matters" but the target.

    Maybe what you're trying to say is "only one objective matters" - and, again, that comes down to scenario, matchup and other variables. The (steamroller type) scenarios tend to be rather basic - go root through some old NQ issues and you'll find a pretty wide range - but they serve a particular purpose, and many of them are very much live in a wide range of matchups. I'm not sure how the Mk. 3 ratios are shaping up, but people do win on scenario.

    Anyhow, the reason I like the "perpetual assassination objective" is because even if I know the matchup and scenario mean I don't really have a decent chance of winning straight, I can always try to stymie your grinding win just long enough to kill you to death. In a game with as many possible matches as this, I find that to be a great proof against mis-matches that in, say, Warhammer Fantasy Battle, were a slow slog of praying for dice. There may be other games that handle the entire process of scenario, army selection and so forth differently, but for a game where I can pack up 75 points of whatever-I-want and, maybe even unreasonably, leave my house expecting to at least hang in the game against 75 points of whatever somebody else wants, it's not a terrible leveling factor.

    I'm sorry you don't care for Warmachine, and I know counter-arguments are not going to change your mind, but I'm at least glad you've got some decent mates to play with. That is, as you say, the most important thing.
    Last edited by plungingforward; 01-07-2017 at 09:25 PM. Reason: Clarity

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    I am an old man who has played mini games since the pieces were made of lead. MK3 is easily in the top 3 hottest messes ever made.

    Core rules, turns, basics... I'm good with. But the imbalance is just crazy bad and rarely are nerfs good. They way over do them. And the theme forces are uninventive and dull.

    but man, my local meta is full of awesome people and friends.

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    Quote Originally Posted by iamfanboy View Post
    "IGOUGO" is the worst possible in a wargame. Just the absolute rock bottom.
    This seems to be at the heart of your complaints, but your assertion as if there is anything objective about non-alternating activations being "worse" than the alternative is wrong. It's just different. You consider it non-interactive, but in return it allows for detailed plans, sequences, and synergies without the worry that your opponent interfering. That's not better or worse than alternating. It's just a different style. It's a style I prefer. I like that in my turn, I will have almost total control over what happens. I only rarely need to account for enemy attacks or movements or anything like that. It enables a style of game that I enjoy more than needing to account for enemy reactions.

    Not better. Not worse. Just different.

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    I've been hearing the "assassination is all that matters" critique very frequently lately. I still don't get it. I've always seen assassination thusly : you win on scenario, you lose by assassination. Because of this, you obviously need to have ways to keep your Warcaster safe. This has been the case since mk 1, to me in order for the all important assassination complaint to be accurate there would be no reason to push scenario. Which, as an avid tournament player/organizer is definitely not the case.

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    Destroyer of Worlds Grey Templar's Avatar
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    IGOYOUGO is a perfectly fine system. Not every game needs to involve both players actively doing something at all times.

    Besides, anybody who thinks there is nothing for the inactive player to do hasn't played vs a protectorate player. We're always doing stuff on our opponents turn, like Monks walking around, Seneschals getting angry and not dying, etc...

    I certainly wouldn't mind more stuff like this, but its definitely not a requirement for a good game. Nor is it some archaic artifact of game design that needs to go away just for the sake of going away.
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    Destroyer of Worlds jdeckert's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schwenckenstein View Post
    I've been hearing the "assassination is all that matters" critique very frequently lately. I still don't get it. I've always seen assassination thusly : you win on scenario, you lose by assassination. Because of this, you obviously need to have ways to keep your Warcaster safe. This has been the case since mk 1, to me in order for the all important assassination complaint to be accurate there would be no reason to push scenario. Which, as an avid tournament player/organizer is definitely not the case.
    This. I don't see many games truly end on assassination any more. If there's a caster kill, it's either because 1) at least one of the players is pretty inexperienced, or 2) the game has already been effectively decided based on scenario, so someone is forced to take an extraordinary risk with their caster. I can think of maybe two or three games I've played in the last several years that really ended on a caster kill where one of the players just didn't see it coming.
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    Destroyer of Worlds jdeckert's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grey Templar View Post
    IGOYOUGO is a perfectly fine system. Not every game needs to involve both players actively doing something at all times.

    Besides, anybody who thinks there is nothing for the inactive player to do hasn't played vs a protectorate player. We're always doing stuff on our opponents turn, like Monks walking around, Seneschals getting angry and not dying, etc...

    I certainly wouldn't mind more stuff like this, but its definitely not a requirement for a good game. Nor is it some archaic artifact of game design that needs to go away just for the sake of going away.
    I agree with this, too. I've played alternating systems, and I actually like them far less. The thing that I love most about Warmachine is the crazy complex Rube-Golberg machines you can set up starting with list building and then pull off in-game. Alternating activations really reduce that. Lower complexity really reduces that, too. It's not bad design, it's just not for everyone.
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  14. #14
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    I would start be saying I disagree with you on many levels.

    First, for me, the main problem of the Turn-by-Turn sequence was the "first hit break it all" that can be seen in GW games. Like when I was playing my dwarves gunline: "oh, I won the roll to go first, then good game, I won". This thing is not present in MK3. And as far as the boredom goes, I find MK3 to be very interactive. Sure, I don't get to roll dice, but if my opponent trigger a free strike or one of my model has counter-charge, then I'm better keep a sharp eye on the game. Plus I build be next turn in my head during my opponent turn, considering what his models are doing, he is going for scenario, which is a thing, and also what he didn't do. My opponent also tend to ask question about my models since they don't know my army by heart, which is also part of the interaction. Also, since there is almost a way to get back in the game with the assassination possibility, I rarely get bore, because I don't feel like I'm "out" of the game. Someone can technically give his opponent his cards and leave the table, but then it's not like he's trying to be into the game.

    Second point, I agree that the Warcaster/Warlock is the only model that really matter, since if you lose him you lose the game. But since they are also very powerful, as long as you have yours, there is something you can do. The assassination is a way to win a game, but Scenario are very important too. At first, I was also thinking "why even bother, just hit the face until the caster die", but the more I play, the more I see that sometime, playing the scenario is more entertaining to do since it requires more preparation and more strategie. Also, Scenario came in before Assassination as a tie-breaker, if someone did 3 Scenario win vs someone with 3 Assassination win, the Scenario guy is first. A good way to explore that is to focus on trying to win by scenario. Rather than go face, try to score point and see if you can do it. That's also why there is control casters, because scenarios are a big deal.

    Third thing, the game balance. Mk3 is what I would call a relatively well balanced game. Of course, there is models better than others, but the game is consistent. Each new release don't break the game, nor are a power creep style, and there is balance in there. Maybe not the one you are looking for, but still. Which bring the point cost. As you pointed out, some people play 1, 2 or even 3 points down because they don't have model that cost those point. As a PPS have stated somewhere, they don't design a model to fill a specific point slot. They start with a general concept of the model they want to make, give him stats and rules accordingly, and then adjust his point cost so that he's balanced.

    Overall, I believe MK3 is a great game, but I guess it's different strokes for different folks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grey Templar View Post
    IGOYOUGO is a perfectly fine system. Not every game needs to involve both players actively doing something at all times.

    Besides, anybody who thinks there is nothing for the inactive player to do hasn't played vs a protectorate player. We're always doing stuff on our opponents turn, like Monks walking around, Seneschals getting angry and not dying, etc...

    I certainly wouldn't mind more stuff like this, but its definitely not a requirement for a good game. Nor is it some archaic artifact of game design that needs to go away just for the sake of going away.
    100% agreed, I find that as a Protectorate player, I've got a great deal of things as well as responsibilities to execute on my opponents turn.

    Even though MKIII has kicked us in the shin a bit in terms of denial, I still find I get to say "no, you can't do that" a lot to people I play.

    Maybe it's just the faction but I'm always doing something, at the very least I'm monitoring board state and planning my next few turns.

  16. #16
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    With whichever perceived 'flaws', this game, and the accompanying fellowship (varying over time), has held my attention and entertained me for 11 years, and counting.

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    Fair and constructive arguments, I will try a 10 pts game with alternate activations.

  18. #18
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    I almost can't abide any comparison of anything to Malifaux. I loved Malifaux for a long time, and played both editions, but man, they both sucked so hard and I just couldn't stay in it. Any difference between Warmachine and Malifaux is a boon to Warmachine (and the ability crunch in Malifaux 2e was also garbage as hell. You had fewer rules, but the overall cohesion was still terrible and there were STILL plenty of nonsense rules that didn't belong. I remember the open playtest thing and the discussion on the Friekorps Sniper guy, and he randomly gained a 'get out of dodge' ability because a few people asked for it, it was tacked on in the most lazy fashion possible, and his cost was unchanged otherwise. Man that was stupid.)

    Ultimately, the only really good thing about alternating activations is it reduces the power of an initiative roll/roll for first player. Otherwise, I think what you call IGOUGO is the superior and more fun activation method near universally. You just don't get the fun, flashy plays in alternating activations that you get in standard turn taking, and also model type diversity is worse in alternating activation games because of the stress it puts on the system.

    Assassination (warcaster importance) is not boring and does not lead to games feeling the same to me at all, so no comment there since we're clearly on different levels.

    We agree in some way on model balance. Your example is correct; within Cygnar, Stormlances may be designed poorly. I also think Behemoth is designed poorly, maybe a few more things are too. Those are outliers though, and the game in its current form is still young, so I guess it's not as big of a deal to me as it is to other people (except Behemoth, who cannot be fixed via points adjustments at all, while things like Stormlances can to a greater extent). I don't really understand your point about warcasters being judged entirely on how they handle assassination and being assassinated.

    There are not too many special rules in my opinion.

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    I agree with you on only the one point, the IGOYOUGO style was a big let down when I first started playing. I actually liked the system GW had with old fantasy, with armor saves and the ability to the "dispel" mini game. It provided me just enough to feel like I was engaged on my opponents turn.

    Now that being said the more I play warmahordes and the more we move into more of a the deathclock steamroller type scenarios I find that I'm busy constantly calculating what I'm going to do next. Like Chess, which oddly you point at what would be percieved as a flaw in chess (arguably the most popular "miniature" game ever made by a very large margin) as well, the king is the only piece that matters. I really like this about warmahordes, it provides an entirely other element to the game.

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    Also, the points system has always seemed pretty translucent to me, but w/e. I don't need PP to tell me their methods in order to see their patterns.

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    Re: Assassination vs Scenario Play
    I'm personally good at scenario play, it's just something that makes sense to me. However I'm not fantastic at protecting my caster (I'm getting better...Slowly...) and I typically lose more games than I win because of that fact. One of the reasons Warmachine is an interesting and fun game to play is the threat of assassination couple with other victory methods. I started my days of tabletop gaming with 40k and I don't miss them. 40k was (and to my knowledge still is) a game based around rolling a larger quantity of better dice sooner than your opponent. Since that game was scored via destroyed models, there really isn't any point to playing a game out after determining who gets the first round of rolling (I was usually chucking a minimum of 108 dice during every shooting phase in smaller scale games...).

    It's vital to the health of the game that assassination exists as a victory condition in addition to Attrition and Scenario (and Time if you're on a death clock). I'd actually prefer a few more methods of victory if I'm honest. Without assassination, every game would turn into a grind-y game of averages and zone/flag swarming and that gets old fairly quickly.
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    I disagree with pretty much everything you said, but yeah, MKIII is lacking in balance. I think this is most noticible because one of the biggest selling points was that PP would fix the absurd power discrepancies of MKII.

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    "I go you go" is superior to other system at the scale Warmachine is in. Turns are relatively fast, and aren't much faster than the time needed to process what your opponent did most of the time. If you're decently quick, it allow you to go to the toilet, or fetch a quick snack or something. Some armies however have a ****ton of trigger during your opponent turn, which depending on the situation can be good or rather annoying. Alternate activation would be good for bigger point scale than 75 - didn't Unbound basically do that ?

    Abilities could get standardized a bit more. But it's not exactly super overwhelming at the moment. An official term for warbeast and warjack would help for the formulation of some spells.
    ONLY ONE RESOURCE MATTERS
    Your Warcaster or Warlock is the only piece that actually matters in the game. You can lose literally every other piece you have and it won't matter as long as you take out the other Warnoun.
    You should try to actually play warmachine, it would help. Sarcasm aside, you say Malifaux have five different goal, but Warmachine have a lot of goal too:
    * scenario. There is actually more than 5 different scenario, but for me there is basically 3 scenarios : the one where I defend something on my zone and contest the same from my opponent, the one where I contest something in the middle, and the one where there is basically no realistic scenario play.
    * kill the opposing caster
    * destroy most of the army of your opponent
    * destroy the key pieces who will make your opponent unable to finish you off. It's usually the warjacks or beasts, but Makeda 2 for example is on the look out to kill quickly anything with a lot of attack, which is often solos or ranged units.

    But Warmachine's problem here is that it's only got one scenario (with secondary goal to resolve ties), and that means models which are NOT helpful at that one scenario are invalidated. Warnouns fall into three categories: Can do assassinations, can survive assassinations, and can't do either. Stryker1 is recommended only because his Earthquake spell sets up assassinations and his feat lets his army survive long enough to do it. Played well, Wormwood is near impossible to kill via assassination and is one of the top warnouns because of it. Ashlynn is a frontline infantry-mulcher which does not have BLOODY AMAZING (for warnoun) defensive stats: therefore bad by the rules of the game, not as a designed model.
    You should play ... I already made that quip ? Sorry. It get repetitive to see affirmations who aren't really reality-based. For example, you forget that Ashlynn don't have bloody amazing actual defensive stats, she's just not super-fragile, and die easily to a determined opponent. You also misrepresent Stryker 1, since he isn't an especially good assassination, just a versatile caster able to do different things. The strength of wurmwood isn't in being resilient (and he isn't *terribly* resilient, especially for its mobility), but because of a variety of reason like his ability to prevent attrition or the fact his feat is basically perfect for scenario play.

    There is quite a bit of models who are answers to not-commonly seen problems. I am unwilling to say it's a problem, because if, say, the meta suddenly jump on the infantry train, it mean we already have some solutions everywhere, while if we errata them in being anti-warjacks you would need new anti-infantry ref if infantry come back. Internal balance for most factions is a bit whacky at the moment, but it's not like it's something a lot of game get well.

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    I agree with a lot of what you said, albeit IGOUGO isn´t much of a problem in my experience if both players know their pieces. But that´s a YMMV issue, I suppose.

    However:
    So Malifaux 1e had a HUGE problem: too many special rules per model. Each mini had a little booklet listing all its special rules, some of which were on multiple models like "X" Expert or Harmless, and some of which were specific to that miniature only. In one way, that was bad because it meant too much to keep track of; in another way, it was fine, because Malifaux games had 6-10 models maximum per game.
    I´m just getting into Malifaux M2E and the special rules density is staggering. Sure, crews are smaller, but since you only choose your stuff after determining strats and schemes you´ll have to know a lot of special rules anyhow (unless you restrict your collection to whatever feels comfortable, but that´s something you can do in every wargame).
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    I've played Battletech since 1996, and I've never had a game run less than three hours if there were more than four models per side.

    Why does that game take so long?

    Partially because of alternating activations (including two minutes every turn of the players making calculations about the current force disparities and re-calculating how many models each player gets to move during their activation).

    Partially because of an over-reliance on tables instead of individual model special rules. There are literally more pages of tables in Battletech's six-volume rulebook than there are pages of rules in the MkIII prime rulebook, because the tables need to cover every possible situation (despite each model having a full page record sheet associated with it, the game has no model-specific special rules, so everything every model can do has to be included on every universal rules table).

    Partially because the entire system is so reliant on the player-base instead of the developers that everyone can create and generate point values for anything they can imagine, and every army has access to every unit if a player can come up with a fluff justification, because it's fine if the points are balanced, right?

    Partially because as "scenario-driven" as Battletech is, 90% of official scenarios rely on attrition-based force depletion as an endgame condition, and the rest require you to do 5 minutes of calculations while cross-referencing a "victory conditions table".

    I don't mean to dump on Battletech, it's a good game, but it has a lot of problems resulting from the kinds of design choices that you're asking Warmachine to adopt.
    Last edited by BlackOpsElf; 01-08-2017 at 01:58 AM. Reason: grammar

  26. #26
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    Surely the place for this is with your local group to convince them to play a game that is well designed in your view?
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    I don't like assassinations too much as a game condition but they have an important part of making the game tense to the end and not automatically snowball when one side gains an upper hand. I never (unless the game is decided already) do assassinations myself as I prefer safe, methodical approach to a risky one. My advice to newer players is actually "forget your ability to assassinate even exists, only remember your opponent can do it. Play attrition, play scenario. Assassination is a last ditch effort when you played worse game and as such is still only half a victory if it succeeds"

    With me learning about opposing armies' abilities I see almost no games ending with a premature assassination nowadays. If it happens it is a "put me out of my misery already" assassination, not a "good winning move" one.

    So, I don't agree with the stance on assassination at all and I think good players only use it as a threat and a factor to limit opponent's options but still go for scenario and attrition first and foremost.


    I agree on the complication part, though. I was hoping the rules would be much lighter but still preserve the depth of the game. In a YT video on game depth I watched today it was said that complication (in the shape of variety of options and impactful decisions) should come from the game's depth not the other way around. WM&H achieves it's depth from it's complication so it's the cheaper way.

    Also, even though common opinion says base rules are easy, I don't agree. While basic mechanics of 2D6 rolls and MATs and RATs are easy, ask new players how well they understand things like Throws or being out of formation and if they even know such bolt on exceptions hidden in the block of text that is the rulebook like CRAs into combat being forbidden or what can or can't be done while engaged compared to while in meele...
    There's no such faction as "Menoth". You can't "play Menoth"

    There's the Protectorate.

  28. #28

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    To be honest, chess can be quite boring if not played on clock, and that is a piece-wise game. Playing on clock, and with Steamroller scenario is pretty much compulsory at this point. And I don't see this as a bug. From how you describe your games, it sounds like you have not been doing this.

    I feel bad if you are not enjoying the game. But I'd urge you to get your players to take up an additional game rather than try to convince them that WMH is a bad game, as many people do find it fun.

  29. #29
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    I've read your post, and will reply to it briefly, as following the whole rest of the thread is currently not possible for me.

    First, I have played or am playing WarmaHordes, Warhammer Fantasy, Battlefleet Gothic, Malifaux (both Eds), Infinity, Guild Ball, X-Wing and Eden, so my experience with these games strongly influences my opinion as stated below.

    Second, please understand that I don't mean to sound condescending or patronizing, but when I read some sections of your post it looks to me like you do not have much experience at the game, at least the more competitive side of it where scenario play is really key. It feels to me like your experiences have led you to believe that the whole game is about only assassination, which I cannot agree with. I see new players in my community often share this opinion (as in the beginning most games end with assassination), and that's why assume that you might not have played the game as much as some, but none of the veterans in my community that play somewhat competitively share that opinion, and neither do I.

    For example, I have played about 20 games with both Irusk 1 and Strakhov each in Mk3. Strakhov won about 80% of his games by assassination, while Irusk won 80% by scenario. Warnouns can do much more than assassinate and not be assassinated.

    Now on to the points.

    THE BASIC TURN SEQUENCE
    I agree that opportunities for boredom should be reduced. However, I have never been bored when playing timed turns, as I usually need to plan ahead for my turn while watching my opponent move, or else I won't be able to execute the best plan properly and promptly most of the time.
    With Deathclock there are occasions when sometimes "I have nothing to do", mostly when my opponent goes "into the tank" for more than five minutes or so. It would be good if these occurrences could be reduced or completely avoided, but it is not a strong detriment, and it is also something that can happen for example in Malifaux or any other game that uses chess clocks.
    Also IGOUGO does provide the opportunity to plan more in depth, and executing these plans and combos is a pleasure that alternating activation systems rarely provide. I believe it difficult to judge any of the options as "the worst" or "best" option here.

    ONLY ONE RESOURCE MATTERS

    In absolute terms I guess you could say that only Warcasters/Warlocks matter, but in reality that is not the case. Sure, one can have only their caster alive while their opponent has their whole army on the table and one may have not lost yet, but in most cases you have lost and are just waiting for the finishing blow, which may come in three shapes - caster kill, scenario point loss or time out.
    Regarding the comparison to Malifaux, I believe that the scenarios are probably Malifaux' strongest point, especially in the way that they manage to pull one into the story. However, I also feel they sometimes provide too many options, in turn not allowing players to master the fine strategic points of each strategy/scheme/opponent combination, as it would take too much time to gain sufficient game experience to cover all the options. This is pure personal preference, but with limited game time I like feeling like I've gotten the hang of a certain WarmaHordes scenario and the applicable match-ups without having to play 50 games to get there. This is much more difficult to achieve in Malifaux in my opinion, but in exchange one gets the pleasure of really being sucked into the world and story, with is equally rewarding.

    MODEL DESIGN IMBALANCE
    I agree that their is model design imbalance than needs to be corrected to a degree, but cannot agree with most of your specific premises and conclusions. I won't go into the details here, because this would be a long discussion that has already been had in the recent errata threads.

    THE POINT SYSTEM
    I have no issue with the system, and it being black box designed. As long as it works well and is easy to use, which for me it currently is, I see no issue here. If I were to pick another game where I like the point system more, it would be Infinity, where you have two point costs (one for model, one for special equipment/weapons), but this is also pure personal preference.

    TOO MANY SPECIAL RULES

    I agree with this. I was expecting more from Mk3. I was expecting more from from Malifaux 2E too, though. I hope in the future this will get better, if not during Mk3, then during Mk4 or some other time in the future.

    WHY NO LISTS OR TABLES?
    I'd like to see more lists, tables and reference sheets as well.

    Last by not least, thanks for the post. Although I do not agree with most of it, it was an interesting and engaging read.

  30. #30
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    I think a large volume of the problems with Alternating Turns instead of Alternating Activations are solved with a clock, or just players who don't fart about. The guys I regularly* play with are all tournament players and it's rare our game would go over 2 hours, even for something super grindy, because we're all used to running on a clock anyway. So the time they spend on their turn lets me formulate a plan, identify order of activations, and know exactly what I want to achieve (right in time to immediately screw it up when they pass turn to me...).

    I think the other issues you might have with Alternating Turns would be solved by more reactive abilities in the game. I enjoy Infinity, a lot, and their "it's always your turn" design style is awesome, and it's something I think Warmachine could potentially do with a small dose of. More Admonition, Counter Charge, Counter Slam (but, you know, make it not trivial to bypass), Retaliatory Strike, and the like - put Counterblast type effects on Units so that as a model charges a ranged unit they light it the heck up. When the onus is on the reactive player to track and utilise those effects, it keeps them engaged when it's "not their turn". I don't think full on AROs would be good or anything (if nothing else it makes Gunlines even more powerful), but just giving people more things they can do on their turn - even as special orders or minifeats - would increase ongoing engagement during the game. Or make casual players scream when they don't realise that Hammerfall High Shields are using their "Hold The Line" mini-feat and can make ranged attacks at anything that comes within 6" of them, ignoring penalties for melee (or, you know, whatever).

    I also enjoy the special rule density - it was one of the big draws to the game for me. When I started Wargaming as a hobby I looked at Warhammer Fantasy (the big game a lot of my buddies were playing) and everything was just so... homogeneous? I like a deeper game with a lot of nuance, especially between choices (which likely also shows in my love of Infinity, and the fact that I enjoy Guild Ball but never got to play more then one or two actual games). Heck, I'd go with more special rules then less. I'd give passive type keywords special rules - like all Northkin get +3 Armour vs Cold Damage (because frozen north...), or Steelheads all have build in Wall of Steel, because pike hedge?


    I do 100% agree on the issues with balance, the game has some big issues with internal faction balance. I also kinda hate the way that PP handle nerfs, doubling down on things instead of using a light touch. I know that they really don't want to have to errata their errata (as stated by Will Shick), but I'd have much preferred to have seen Mad Dogs get a small tweak, with the statement of "We don't want to invalidate anyone's purchases and potentially might need to do another tweak later", then just be blasted into "why bother, spam Marauders instead" territory (and casually hit Karchev with a bit of a collateral nerfing). I also personally believe that my personal favourite faction, Trollbloods, is in almost as bad shape as Skorne is, but is blessed with a couple of crutches that Skorne was missing, so we don't get the attention they do and are left flapping in the breeze. Yes, Skorne needed the attention. They're not alone. External or cross-faction balance is pretty good, just a shame that it achieving it effectively reduces each faction to maybe 20%-30% of it's models as actually viable or worth fielding.


    * In theory. Real life has conspired to keep me away from the table for the last like month and a half now, which makes me a sad panda...
    Last edited by Sletchman; 01-08-2017 at 02:39 AM.

  31. #31
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    I can see where you are coming from, but something I'm still trying to get through my thick skull is that the things I don't understand are not necessarily bad and that a better understanding can help me either appreciate them more or accept that a game is just not for me.

    World of Warcraft recently added what many players call their best expansion ever, and I came back to the game to check it out, but after a couple months, I realized that the problems I had were more fundamental than anything any expansion would ever fix. Indeed, I had serious problems with mechanics and tropes that are fundamental to the way the entire genre has always been structured. Could someone theoretically craft an MMO that didn't have these problems? Maybe, but at that point, would it still really be an MMO anymore? I realized that even a game completely superior in every technical sense like Wild Star just wasn't what I wanted to play.

    Before that, I quit Magic for what I hope is the last time. I could rant for an hour about how terrible the game is, again at a fundamental level, but again, a CCG just isn't what I want to play.

    It's here that I have found something that I can tinker with, only more so. I can build my own armies and actually be better off rather than worse like I would be with either of those two genres. List building and even the choice of which faction to play are highly intuitive and models will often literally perform better because you like them more and you're more interested in learning their quirks.

    Painting is, of course, another level of customization, and I love being able to put my minis in a different pose or do something interesting yet practical with the base or tweak the colors to where it's still like the studio scheme but maybe a little more cartoonish, and so on. It can be fun in its own right and sometimes helps to calm my nerves. I really did miss it.

    I got so frustrated with MK 2 that I finally sold all of my minis and quit, but I came back for MK 3 and I really do think it's a huge improvement. There are of course some real problems, but they are not fundamental to the basic design of the game, at least not at the level of my other two examples. Quite the opposite, the game is finally free to be what it always wanted to be.

    As for your criticisms:

    A) WMH has closed turns because it is meant to emphasize offense over defense as well as combos like what you'd have in a card game. This way you can combine your tricks and build momentum without much disruption.

    B) Assassination always wins the game because:
    1) It builds tension and helps keep the game interesting.
    2) It balances the high power level of the casters themselves and keeps the focus on them as the stars of the show.
    3) It provides a failsafe to keep defense from becoming overpowered- even if a Mountain King or Stormwall is unkillable Doomie or Darius still isn't.
    4) It allows the game's emphasis on aggression to function. You can go all out but you might risk your caster and lose anyway, and it keeps you in the game if your opponent had a huge turn and got to 4 CP and killed all but three of your models but you just might be able to get that Angelius onto their caster and pull it off after all...
    5) It would suck to have to keep playing until every last Kriel Warrior were killed even though my beasts can't really do anything. Casters are so powerful that losing yours would basically take you out of the game anyway, especially with the way battle groups work.

    C) Balance still isn't great but it's not nearly as bad as it was in MK 1 or MK 2, and I don't think that it ever will be again. Will Pagani is very good at this and the increased transparency of development and involvement of the players will help too. PP has shown a tremendous increase in their willingness to communicate and to address problems as they arise, and I find that very encouraging.

    D) Speaking of communication, yeah, the rulebook is kinda terrible. I can't argue with you there. For example, it turns out that battle engines can gain stealth now, but I couldn't find anything mentioning that in any rulebook. Since they are transitioning to more of a "digital-first" business model, they should replace the PDF rulebook to which War Room links with a sleeker, faster HTML-based wiki-style rulebook where everything is hyperlinked to definitions, other relevant rules, tactical tips, and FAQ. And yes, much should be rewritten for clarity. In fact, just go the whole nine and bring Battle College on board as an official resource, with full stats, integrated with War Room, which really should have a browser version anyway while we're at it.
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  32. #32
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    iamfanboy: First of, I'd like to say that I admire the thought and time you put into the post, and that I understand this is your personal opinion.
    On the other hand, even if you did not spell it out verbatim, it would be obvious, that you grown apart of the game, and do not enjoy it anymore, and that IMO just adds to the "grass is greener" paradox, that your post is packed with. Please do not take this offensivly - I'm the first one to acknowledge that I sometimes do the same, especially when the matter at hand is important for me.

    Much have been already said, but still:

    ad "THE BASIC TURN SEQUENCE": while the actual fact of "most of your opponent's turn is non-interactive" is true, I really can not agree with it being "worst possible in a wargame. Just the absolute rock bottom". I understand it is a hyperbole, but ont the other hand, you really seem to believe it.

    I'm not sure what was your usual game "scene", but from some level of play (that I do not think is very high), and especially if you play with clock (IMO quite important even in friendly pick-up games - I'm not saying that the game should end with the clock, but both people should strive to play fast, and feel the pressure of time _a bit_), the "off" turns are anything but passive most of the time. Or at least for me - in the beginning of the turn, I usually check whether my opponent felt for any of the traps I set, and as his turn unravels, I start to plan on what I'm doing next, so I can execute fast, and with precision.

    This said, I had games, when I absolutely felt bored, because the other person just could not make his mind, kept going on and off with what he would do, and was just an unfocused, indecisive ball of misery. But I've had these in every game I played, disregarding of the activation system. Honestly, it felt even more miserable with Malifaux where I got to play for 20 seconds, and then watched the other guy take 10 minutes to play his 2 SS model...
    But that is a problem of expectations - never ever have I ever been bored in game with a new player, or somebody that wanted to come up with the best strategy vs some kind of problem - because these games, albeit slow, are interactive. You discuss about the game, you both strategize on _both_ turns, it's just that only one of the people actually makes the final decision and moves the models. But for me, that is fun.

    The other unfun games (even with clock, and being played fast) of warmachine are more connected to the rock-paper-scisors nature of Warmachine - I played games where I only could run forward and hope that I survive long enought to force a mistake on my opponent, and I was in the situation, where my opponent could do mostly nothing but remove models from the table (MK2 Haley1 vs. Doom Reaver spam). That was unfun, but has less to do with how stuff activates, and more with list chicken.

    Note: I maybe should have to say this at the beginning - I was a huge fan of Malifaux. I started and grown the Czech Malifaux community, known all the rules of the first trhee books almost verbatim from the top of my head, organized tournaments, and even went to the UK WM/H Nationals wearing the Henchman T-Shirt [yeah]. I've over the time grown bored of it, and started playing other games, but for a long time, I played WM/H and Malifaux in parallel.
    Funny enough, when we first played WM/H with my best buddy, it was the first I-go-you-go game after maybe three years of gaming, and the first thing we tried to "house rule" was the activation order, and we pretty fast got to the point where it stopped making sense, and we just accepted how it is.

    But honestly - I agree that trying to play WM/H using alternate activation makes it absolutely different game - if the rules did not change but for the alternate activation system, many overlooked models would be stars, and many great support solos/units would be trash.
    And that, I think, is important to understand - WM/H is often about layered buffs/debuffs and interactions, and while i.e. Malifaux is absolutely not a shallow game (I think it might be even more complex in some aspects than WM/H is), you rarely see long combo-chains, and when you do, it was (don't want to say 'is' as I have not played the new edition enough to judge) mostly based on simultaneous activations (i.e. when you activate multiple models, instead of one, while your opponent does nothing). And those combos which are not, but span over three+ models to activate are insanely powerfull - because it's easy to disrupt those in the middle of "powering up".
    WM/H on the other hand requires (most of the time) that you use combo chains to buff that one (two, few..) model, which is then the star, and it has it's beauty.
    What I loved when I came to WM/H was the fact that I can game my odds, and that I can make sure stuff happens, if I'm willing to invest enough resource (models, focus, mini-feats... you name it). It still is one of the defining factors of WM/H for me, and why I love the game.

    ad ONLY ONE RESOURCE MATTERS: I kind of agree here, it always is about the 'Caster. And yes, you could be 4:0 on scenario, and just plain lose as if you did nothing the whole game, because you were a bit too ballsy, and let your caster in front too much. Or maybe your opponent just went for the hail-mary because he had no other option than to try... But it still meant that you put your _only relevant resource_ in the harm's way, and so you evidently played "wrong".

    And once again, while I agree with Malifaux having a bit more interesting scenario possibilities, it is important to say how tournaments (mostly) work - you come to the tourney with _faction_ (sometimes a subset of "Casters"), and before each game, you get to build your list based on what the objectives are, and what your opponent's faction/Caster is. And when the whole faction could be stored in a single KR case, that's done with ease.
    I'd love to have this amount of freedom in Warmachine, but it could easily fall down the "who can throw more money on it" hole (aka "who can fly with 10 bags"). So I think that Specialists are a good middle ground
    .
    What I'd really want though, is for Specialists to become the standard. I know there is ADR, but I really hate it. Mostly for the fact, that most of the time some of the factions (looking ad you, Convergence and Elfs!) have the good options there just because of the low numbes of 'Casters available (grass is greener thing here, as I said in the beginning), but also because most of the tournaments just don't do ADR - so even if I went through the trouble of making two good lists, using two not-my-favourite Casters, it would mostly be fruiless.


    ad THE POINTS SYSTEM: What I liked about Malifaux was, that (to some extent) the unspent "points" got you an advantage in the game - for those of you who don't know mailfaux, unspent points went to the Caster's resource pool, like if you had an extra focus token per X points unspent. This is a bit of a moot point in Warmachine, as you can't go more than few points under anyway, but it would be interesting to be able to buy "upgrades"/extra rules for extra points.

    What I absolutely agree with, though is that I'd love to know a bit more about how models are costed (regarding game points, not money). The devs did talk about it to varying level of detail on podcasts during the MK3-pre-release time, but I guess it was all a bit cloudy, because PP considers the "formula" their IP/secret sauce. And while I don't blaim them for doing so, I'm just enormously curious, that's it

    ad TOO MANY SPECIAL RULES: I just want to point out, that while Malifaux 2e "simplified" the cards (and I'm glad they did), it's a sleight of hand a bit - yes, you have "all" the rules on a card (that has more space than the WM/H card for the text of rules) but then you also have multiple other "cards with rules" that you add on top of that. Now I'm not saying I don't like the system of upgrades. Just that you should acknowledge, that they sort-of lied their way out of it by making "stuff" cheaper all around, and then letting you "make it complicated" by paing points. In the end, you usually get to a similar level of complexity you had in MK1 (malifaux), but just in a different way.

    As for WM/H - what I'd really like is if rules/special abilities/spells that effectively do the same, but affect different stuff (warbeast/warjack) were named the same. It is weird, that sometimes this is possible (and the wording is changed to beast/jack as "needed") and sometimes we have the exact same wording, but with different names of the spell.
    I think PP did a great job during the MK3 transition, but I'd love if this particular thing was given more effort/resource/whatever you want to call dev/proof-reading time.




    All in all, you have some good points, and I hope that with some time off of Warmachine/Hordes, you'll be able to appreciate it once more. If for nothing else, then for the great community we have.

    Best of luck in your next endeavours, and once again, thanks for the effort of structuring your thoughts, even if you knew, you probably would get mostly contradictory feedback.
    Perfect is the enemy of good!

  33. #33
    Destroyer of Worlds
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    Quote Originally Posted by Big Fat Troll View Post
    In fact, just go the whole nine and bring Battle College on board as an official resource, with full stats, integrated with War Room, which really should have a browser version anyway while we're at it.
    YES!

    Make it like Infinity's Army with hyperlinks right to the relevant rules in the wiki. That'd make me stupidly happy, and I already know all the rules (he said, smugly).

  34. #34
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    I don't agree with the IGOUGO, critique. Among else, it makes playing solitaire games perfectly viable. And, as noted, it makes space for planning, which is a crucial part of the game.

    I agree with the "one-scenario" aspect. I really believe that PP should produce books with peculiar, asymmetric and narrative-based scenarios.

    One thing I am still uncertain about is the "rock-paper-scissors" aspect. Really, bad matchups can be similar, but if you are a good player you can almost always play your game and have good chances to win.

  35. #35
    Destroyer of Worlds RandomThoughts's Avatar
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    Let's see:

    THE BASIC TURN SEQUENCE

    I enjoy that. It allows for the kind of complex turns where you can line up all kinds of shenanigans.

    And yes, I've tried things like Malifaux, but I didn't see what is so great about alternate turns.

    ONLY ONE RESOURCE MATTERS

    I have to disagree. Scenario is life in most of our games, and assassinations usually happen when a player gets hard pressed to defend their scenario and come too far forward with their caster.

    MODEL DESIGN IMBALANCE

    I agree that there are still gaps that need closing, but I also think the gaps are a lot smaller than many forumites make it sound.

    THE POINTS SYSTEM

    Same thing as model balance, some things are not quite there where they should be, but it's a lot closer than many people say.

    Also, with the finer scale, I'm perfectly happy leaving a point unspent now, just like 1000 points MK1 armies often enough came in at 997 points or whatever.

    TOO MANY SPECIAL RULES

    Perhaps it's just not your kind of game then? Sure, some special rules could go adding more hassle than worth to the game, but overall it's a game that gains complexity through special rules, I'm fine with that.

    WHY NO LISTS OR TABLES?

    Yeah, would be nice, but it'S easy enough to make for yourself it's enough of a concern, or just build one once for the community and post it somewhere where it becomes a community resource.

    IN CONCLUSION

    I like the IGOUGO structure of the game, it is what it is. You might also argue that chess would be more like checkers if all the pieces moved in the same way...

    "As I often say, variety is the spice of wargaming" (Cyel)

  36. #36
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    I play a few different wargames. Some utilize You-Go-I-Go (for short i'll abbreviate this to UGIG), some utilize strict alternating activations, some utilize randomized activations.

    They all have merit. As Octavius mentioned early on, UGIG allows for a greater depth in player strategy and synergy with the greatest potential for that synergy to remain undisturbed for the greatest possible length of time ; meaning, barring surgical piece removal, its possible to keep your list's "shtick" intact for the longest possible time. Due to this UGIG games tend to be heavily dominated by combo oriented lists which apply conjunctive effects for maximum benefit ; the threshold for application is just the randomization mechanic (dice, cards, etc), and if you make it to your turn with your pieces intact you only need to contest against counter-placement, counter-threat, and randomization.

    In a strict alternating activation scenario (also known as binary alternating activation), usually there is some "trigger" that decides who takes the first activation in a turn (typically an "initiative roll" or draw or something). Then each player takes turns ; because of this, each "pass off" creates an opportunity for a turn plan developing to be disturbed, but its usually small chunks of disturbance at a time allowing for adjustment with your next "pass off" etc.

    Randomized alternative activations is a rarely used but pretty cool system: Bolt Action uses it. Each "entity" gets an order die. Tank, unit, lone sniper, whatever - each individual "thing" that you paid points for (even if its a unit of 10 dudes) gets an order die. Ditto for opponent. All order dice (friendly and enemy) go into a sack, and dice are randomly selected out of the sack. Whoever's dice is picked allocates it and an order on that die to something they control, and then issues that order according to the rules. Once its done, pick another die, repeat process (removing dice when things have been wiped out that have not gone yet). This can create some really unique situations which fluctuate closer to further from either UGIG or AA, and allows for the least amount of near future combo planning, as there's no telling how many orders you'll get in succession.

    Thing is... these systems are all designed around these activation schema. You may prefer one or the other, but if you took bolt action and forced it into a UGIG schema, it would lose some of its charm. If you took WM/H and forced it into randomized AA, many combos would not work as well, and some would not work period. The reason is that these games and the pieces in them have been designed around what kind of Activation Scheme they are going to use.

    Saying that WM/H is a badly designed game because its designed around a UGIG is a premise that is faulty from its inception ; it was designed around UGIG on purpose, and continues to be designed around UGIG on purpose (with exception of that one large scale format in MK2). AA has been around for a while. They could have easily redesigned the game into an AA or RA format from Prime, Prime Remix, MK2, or MK3. They chose not to.

    You can dislike UGIG, and that's 100% valid, but claiming that because the game is UGIG, its badly designed, is not a tenable argument. Its designed to be UGIG. This would be akin to criticizing Malifaux for using its card system because a 2d6 - 5d6 system has an easier to manage probability distribution in your eyes. That's all well and good, but the game was designed around its card mechanic. Calling it a badly designed game (unless that card mechanic is bad, which it is not) because it uses a different randomization method over the one you like is an opinion, not a fact, and its not a terriblly defensible opinion either (i.e. - an opinion is not objectively a fact, its inherently subjective). By that i mean saying "i don't like it" equates to "this method of radomization has inherent structural and mechanical issues which can be mathematically proven".

    The game, being designed for UGIG, is a well designed UGIG. Yes, downtime / inactivity / participation peaks and valleys is an inherent weakness of UGIG, but the system also has strengths.
    Last edited by Mod_Haight; 01-08-2017 at 06:23 AM.
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  37. #37
    Destroyer of Worlds Cyel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mod_Haight View Post
    (with exception of that one large scale format in MK2).
    Actually, the multiplayer battles in mk3 also have alternating activations, as described in the main rulebook.
    There's no such faction as "Menoth". You can't "play Menoth"

    There's the Protectorate.

  38. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyel View Post
    Actually, the multiplayer battles in mk3 also have alternating activations, as described in the main rulebook.
    I thought that was alternating team activations?

  39. #39

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    All this criticism is fine, I'm not going to defend the game design because all of the things you want are in other game systems that make this one the odd ball out that I happen to enjoy.
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  40. #40

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    I totally agree with part of your position on the IGoUGo. One of the big flaws in this game is that you are pretty much doing nothing in your opponents turn. The problem becomes even worse when you play against people that take 20+ minutes a turn. This more than anything else has caused more people to quit the game in my meta. I think PP realized this was a problem as well when they introduced the Steam Roller format. If you read through the packets it states that 10 minute timed turns are the standard which I find vastly superior deathclock. Unfortunately deathclock has become the norm in all official PP events so everyone else wants to do deathclock as well. Long story short give us a timed turn official event like the old hardcore format PP.
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