Tactical Mayhem

I’ve been bit, and I don’t really know the cure.

I backed Warmachine: Tactics for a cool single player game and a bad ass multiplayer game that I’d probably never use. I didn’t back at the beta level because I never wanted to be, or expected to be, a tester. Instead, I got in at enough for the price of the game and then some minis.

Then, in August, we recieved the news that the single player game was being delayed for a while, and the multiplayer release was going to be delayed a short time. I was a little frustrated, but they gave all the backers their codes right then and allowed us to play the game. I loaded it up and played a time or two on the one single player mission, but I was satisfied with that experience.

But I’m not satisfied with just playing the single player anymore, and I’m not sure I’m ok with it. Just a week or so ago the bug bit me, and I played a game with an opponent who spammed Brute Thralls into my face and just blew me up. That was really demoralizing, but it got me thinking about what other things could be cool to run piles of. I created lists and banked them as thought experiments, hoping to one day get a chance to try it out. My computer was running it fairly slow, but that was OK, this was a turn based game, not some FPS.

Recently, though, they updated and the system runs buckets smoother. I had a friend who couldn’t load prior versions boot right into the game, and started playing me.

Damn it, but I shouldn’t have.

My first game was against Siege, recently introduced, with Asphyxious and a horde of Brute Thralls. Give as good as you take, right? While the game didn’t go as planned, I did learn that Asphyxious is just as deadly in the game, as on the table. Two shots with Scything Touch and Parasite ended Siege, and the game was over.

We booted up again and I thought I’d try the same thing with another faction. I pulled up Protectorate, grabbed Kreoss and filled that list with a Crusader and as many Cinerators as I possibly could grab. I was all sorts of confident. As it turns out, Cinerators are not nearly as good as Brute Thralls at smashing face. Stryker kept Earthquaking them onto their asses, and I was never able to gain advantage. Instead of letting me loose with dignity, though, the game crashed when I tried to trample, taking a critical freestrike, which imploded the game.

This was my first taste, and I just kept on going. Over the next few days I tried some different lists, almost all spam, to see what I could do. Strakov and 5 Maruaders is great, but I’ve got a terrible loosing record with them. Stryker and 4 Defenders ins’t anything close to ok, and the swarm of overlords I tried out made the game both long and terrible.

Five Marauders in a cloud

Five Marauders in a cloud

What I did find out, though, is that the game really scratches that itch to immerse yourself in the Iron Kingdoms and reignite your desire to play the tabletop game. It has the same characters, the same models, and many of the same powers. It does, however, change some and add others to make the game very different from playing on the tabletop. Disruption is the removal of a possible allocated focus, for example. The UI needs a little bit of polish, still, but that is to be expected. Spells, attacks, and special abilities are all laid out well, but the possible targets of the spells and abilities are not. I would love to see a spell-cast icon for movement much like there is a ranged attack icon.

See, the game is based on a grid, and the grid determines your LOS. When determining your possible final position on the grid, you can hover your mouse there and have icons pop up above the heads of possible targets for your ranged attacks. This does not happen with spells, making them much harder to use than a rifle, even if the character has both.

The big problem that I see with the game is the spamability of models/units in the game, and the thought that it will lead to a much less diverse model pool when playing online. This is exemplified in my playing the game with as many of the same model as I can, because I want to see how it all pans out. Brute Thralls work well, but Marauders don’t. Cinerators are terrible at it, but Defenders are gods.

This can all be a little bit depressing when you start to realize some of the crazier things, including a billionty Scarlocks and a ton of ranged jacks with Khador. This is amplified by the fact that there is nothing to do on your opponent turn except sit and watch them take their turn running 5-10 models across the field or attacking impotently. Its can all get very frustrating.

Regardless of the problems that exist, what I have now, is a great desire to play the game every time I sit down at the computer. That is a great testament to Whitemoon Dreams for making a game that’s so enjoyable that it keeps pulling a skeptic back into the fold. This desire is so great that I am considering playing right now instead of going to bed, and that could have tragic consequences.