Saturday, November 19, 2011

My Intro to the World of Warmachine and Hordes

Yesterday, I played my first miniature war game. I was introduced to Hordes by a friend of mine (thanks Brian, and thanks to Tenth Planet Games and Comics for hosting us, you guys are awesome!)

For those that aren't familiar with it, the world of Warmachine has sort of a steampunk/fantasy theme. Hordes takes place in the same world, but focuses more on the fantasy aspect. The two games are compatible, and you can mix factions from each in the same game, though the rules are slightly different for each. We played a small, purely Hordes game as an introduction to the basic rules. Judging by the size of the rule book, there were quite a few rules that we left out in our first play.

I liked the idea behind wargaming. It's liberating from the strict confines of traditional board games. I understand how some people could be turned off by having to use measuring tape to measure movement and range, but it also opens up all sorts of possibilities that are simply not possible in other types of games. Of course, with this newfound freedom also comes responsibility. The game is more difficult to master, and thus requires more careful planning of strategies and a greater level of understanding of the rules, each unit, and how they synergize.

To me, it seemed like a nice waypoint between a tactical miniatures game (like Dust Tactics or Earth Reborn) and an RPG. I do find it interesting that most RPGs have miniature skirmish rules more akin to a tactical miniatures game than a full-fledged wargame. For a class of games that defines itself on the ability to allow players to do anything they want, I would think wargaming mechanics would've been the way to go.

For Hordes in particular, I felt it was a solid game. The rules are detailed enough to allow a lot of flexibility, but not so overly complicated that one can't learn them with a reasonable amount of effort. After a couple of hours of play, even my 9 year old son grasped most of rules (at least the subset we were using). There are also enough unique elements so that it doesn't just feel like a thematically re-skinned version of another game. I particularly liked the three aspects to a unit's health - body, mind, and spirit. It adds a fun and variable element to the game.

The only thing left to do now is to decide which faction I want to buy. And, of course, which faction to buy for my son, too!