Some time ago I promised Thorbjørn (one of my few regular readers!) that I'd compare the different wargaming systems to one another, and post my thoughts. Specifically, he asked "when should I play X game?". So, inspired by a recent poll posted on BOLS, I decided to pick up on that lead...
I'll look into Warmachine/Hordes, 40k and Fantasy. I might also drop a mention of Malifaux at the end...I would also cover Flames of War except I really, really don't know anything about it.
I'll rate the games in four categories: Cost To Play, Hobbyism, Playability and Support. Cost To Play This category is just that - the cost to play.
40K For all of 5th edition, 40K has been running per the "dual-unit" system. You cannot suffice with just 10 Space Marines on foot, you need to buy them a transport - hence the second unit. This applies to a large part of the game, across most armies. The problem with this is typically the cost of said transports "in-game", e.g. the aforementioned transport (a Rhino) costs about 35 points base value for a vanilla Marine player. The kit itself costs you 225 kr (which in dollars is about 37 $), which is kinda steep when you think about the ingame value of said Rhino. 40K falls in the "expensive" category. Add that you might need items from Forgeworld to make 'good' armies...
Fantasy 8e is upon us, which means you have to invest in the rules - something you CAN avoid in 40K if you're a good learner. That's easily the first 500 kr. Then, you're looking at buying an army of at least 2250 pts. I even think that 8e will push the average tourney-sized force up to 2500-2999 pts. Now, I compared a few armies a while back - here's what I found: A 2250 force of Wood Elves with a dragon, and semi-optimized stuff comes in at 2700 kr, or about 450 $. A 2250 force of Warriors of Chaos, all with Mark of Khorne and thus very expensive per model, came in at 1500 kr, or about 250 $. So, I need to lay down somewhere between 2000 and 3200 kr, and still have to buy brushes, paint, flock and so on? This is at least as expensive as 40K.
Warmachine/Hordes In the world of Privateer Press, they're just getting back up from overhauling the game systems to Mark II. Hordes is coming this month, and the parent game Warmachine is finally up and running again. Both games seem to have benefited from this change, but what about the cost? Well, a starter-box for either game comes in at 300 kr, or 50 $. Sure, you can't really go to tourneys with that, you need about 50 points of stuff to play. That will be about 2000 kr. Couple that with SR2010 which typically allows you to field two lists, so you need to add a bit to the previous range you bought, say 800 kr. more. That's about 470 $, for two armies, which will allow you to compete in the large events - you could probably make do with 35 pt lists if you area plays that the most.
By far, Warmachine/Hordes is the cheapest to start out with, but in the end the cost should be the same.
Hobbyism This category will explore the hobbyist aspects of the game systems. Ie, is the game suited for conversions, custom paint jobs, nice custom bases and so on?
40K This is both one of the highlights and downfalls of this game system. Sure, you can convert your models, place them on nice scenic bases and so on, but there's a cost: You might be labelled a cheater, 'modelling for advantage'. Or, you might just hamper yourself, by e.g. enlarging your vehicles through means of conversion. However, this game is also very much suited for custom paint jobs. The marine chapters are the best example of this - if you have a nice theme in mind, it will almost always look great on a marine force. Or Tau. Or Eldar. Or...you name it. 40K is, non-competitively, very good for the hobbyist. Competitively, it's one of the worst, because of how the rules treat the models (e.g. TLoS).
Fantasy Same as with 40K, this game is moving into the TLoS territory. Therefore, the same mentions made above goes here as well. Except, custom paint jobs usually look horrid in Fantasy, because of the mass units with spears, swords and shields sticking out everywhere. I'd say Fantasy is actually worse off in this category than 40K.
Warmachine/Hordes Historically, Privateer Press did not allow conversions of models in any way. They have softened up a bit to this, so now there's actually an official document stating how much conversion is allowed. They do require you to use the original model as the base of your conversion, however. That means that you only had the bases to be creative about...and even those had a problem: Warmachine/Hordes has a lot of focus on model sizes, movement, placement etc., even more so than 40K which is also a skirmish game. Warmachine/Hordes scores the lowest in this category.
Playability This category looks at the rules for each game system. Are the games fun? Are the rules concise and written well? Is the game too simple and therefore gets boring to play?
40K I think 40K hasn't had better rules in years. I know some people preferred the infantry-armies of 4e, and some still cling on to 2e for the sheer customization available in that system. Me, I really dig the tank-wars currently being played. I mean, even by todays standards we use tanks for anything but the most basic patrols, or fly over stuff with helicopters and planes. Yeah, ok - you shouldn't compare reality with a sci-fi game and draw any conclusions based on that, but I still like the fact that the current version actually promotes the use of vehicles - the main thing that separates 40K from it's counterpart, Fantasy. The rules are more concise than ever (bar the usual period between when a new Codex comes out and the FAQ/Errata for it is posted), and the game can be played competitively as well as friendly games. Heck, the tourney I just went to had a semi-competitive event which was duked out by four-man teams. One problem you could point out in 40K is...it's pretty simple. I mean, there's not much in the game, actually. You could become bored with the rules kinda quick, especially if you just stick to the basic principles of the game, and play your army like it's supposed. Overall, I think 40K is good for playability, but has a tendency to become boring over time. And, there's alot of stuff lurking in the horizon of 40K which really ruins the game, e.g. Imperial Armour rules and the new Spearhead rules.
Fantasy Since GW hasn't sent me the new rules yet, and I haven't had the pleasure of having any 8e games yet...I really don't know about this one. What I can say, though, is how I feel about the confirmed rule changes. I think they're GREAT! There's not a single thing I've heard that I haven't thought "yes, that sounds like a good change". Even the TLoS part, I think it's a fresh breath of air to the game. Random charge range? Sign me up. Premeasure and just place templates etc? I'm in. More killing overall? Sure, why not. Magic made even more powerful, but also more volatile? Hooray! Less fiddling around with unit movement? A long overdue, needed optimization.
Yes, I'm biased.
Warmachine/Hordes Mark II has been served...and it tastes great! So far, I think the 'new' and improved version of Privateer's flagship game is simply amazing. There's and endless variation of units and combos to try out, in a myriad of possible scenarios, against an equal amount of possible scenarios. While you might argue that no two games ever will be alike in either system, this really is the case with Warmachine/Hordes. The rules are some of best I've ever read, and the streamlining which has been done really let the game come together.
This game scores the highest in this category, by far. That doesn't mean that I don't enjoy the other systems, I do. I think there should be room for the more simple game, and besides, GW's games have other qualities beyond just their typically awful rules.
Support Quick on the heels of the review of game rules and so on, of course comes how much dedication the backing company puts into the game. Especially in the form of support for the system. Since two out of three of these are made by the same company, GW, there will be similarities...
40K GW regularly sends out new codices for this game, adding new rules, updating armies and models and so on. Of course, this makes good sense on a business case, but also serves to keep the game alive. New builds enters the game, new options, and everyone has to adapt to face the new threat. However, already existing content isn't updated once released. There's the mandatory errata and FAQ, but beyond that almost nothing is done until the next codex comes out. Add to this the fact that the errata and FAQ is usually months underway, and you have a less than perfect situation. In the end, the slow erratas, faqs and long time between new blood being added to your chosen faction really hampers this for 40K. Also, any rules questions can be answered by their call service. These are, however, not official answers, and you're really just better off debating it to death or doing a 4+ and wait for an official errata.
Fantasy Any case made 40K is, unfortunately, also true for Fantasy.
As such, I won't get into any more details.
Warmachine/Hordes Once again, the evil bastard-game of the small company excels. And why shouldn't they? They are more flexible given their smaller size, and their chosen update model is way better than GW's.
If you're unfamiliar with this, please let me inform you of how PP updates their games:
They release one book, which contains updates for all factions in one game system (Warmachine or Hordes) in it. This ensures that everyone gets something new each time someone gets something new. Keeps players happier overall, if you ask me. Now, the newer players of this game will say something like "that's not true, look at the faction books released in 2010". Sure, but that's something PP did to evolve their game into Mark II, and is a one-shot update to the existing model range from Mark I to Mark II. In the future, they will release collective updates, as they have done previously.
Also, the rules support is some of the best I've experienced. You just go to their official forums, and ask the Infernals there. Or, find your local Pressganger (who is not always right, but at least represents a player who should be a veteran player).
Conclusion Well - it really depends on what you want out of your game. Me, I'm playing all of it - focusing on a single system for a couple of months before changing to another one...and as of right now, I'm looking into Malifaux as well.
I haven't read the rules in-depth yet, but so far the game seems solid enough. I have to do some playtesting before I'll post anything decisive about it, however.blog comments powered by Disqus