The Necrotechs Workshop – LXII – CID Fatigue

Every week on Thursdays – or as often as I can – I muse on the state of Cryx, the lists I’m building, casters I’m taking, problems I encounter and generally everything to do with the Nightmare Empire of Warmachine.  

This week, I want to talk about the CID Cycle, and how it affects my enjoyment of the game. 

I believe we can all agree that the CID has been a boon to the game in term of overall balance, by both creating a meta-cycle that, at least from my view, addresses boogeymen in the meta without strong nerfs, and touches each faction, bringing up some of the low performers and adding new models to the fray, for both well used and under loved themes. 

I cannot say enough about the concept, and I think that it has been an overall positive force for the game. I cannot say the same, however, about its effect on me, and the community. There are a number of problems that I feel the CID Cycle has created and, unfortunately, exacerbated. 

The first and largest effect on myself that I have heard echoed through conversations with others, is that of a mental drain. CID Fatigue is a very real affliction on the people most engaged in the game, and I think this manifests in a couple of ways itself. 

When I talk about CID Fatigue, what I am not talking about is Battle Report and Fake Rules fatigue. What I am talking about is the mental energy needed to keep up with the game, and its ever-changing and completely amorphous state. In the old days, we would have a book drop once a year, Twice if that year was fuckin’ Crazy. This time of year would see the unending cries of doom and fear resounding through the Warmachine world. We would lament and beat our chests, tear our hair out and weep tears of frustration and anger. Then, in about 2 months, it would all quiet down. We would come to grips with the models that were going to “destroy” our game, and we would all talk, together as a community, about ways to overcome the inevitable end times. Sometimes, we would talk about a way to defeat a certain forthcoming model that, while it was the scourge of the community and the game when it was revealed, it was already irrelevant by the time it was released because we’d come together and found ways around it.  

Then, about 3 months later we would encounter the speculation phase, where everyone started wondering what would come out that would make the current meta a non-factor. We talked about a cycle that was three years ahead of the current game, and of how far into the future the devs and playtesters were compared to what we played. we’d come to grips with the doom, and decided it wasn’t all that bad, and by the time another doom cycle came around, a year later, we were ready for it. 

Those times are long gone. 

Now, we have a constant stream of new releases that are only months or sometimes days old, released into the wild without knowledge of their final rules or of their status. We can no longer come to grips and discuss with those around us the ways to combat a current threat, because by the time that model is a clear and present danger, there are other looming threats and we must move on, hoping that we are able to fix the issues on our own. This leads to a near constant doom cycle that propagates itself. There is no downtime with which the community as a whole can take a breather, gather itself, and ready for another combat with spoilers, new rules, and new models. Instead, we have an endless stream that threatens to drown all within its currents, and few who have the stamina to withstand it. The fatigue, it cuts to the core. It makes me enjoy Warmachine not more, but less, each CID comes out. 

I don’t know how this gets corrected. CID needs to happen to many of the models in the game, and this most recent Skorne Theme force revision shows it. There are portions of the game that make themes feel and play like a shitty bolt on process on top of a game that worked perfectly fine without them. It was being crushed by the weight of its own models, I get that, but it was surviving, not dying. 

Three years into the MKIII system, the system I assumed would never need another revision, I feel ready for MK IV. It feels like 4e D&D, or 6th edition Warhammer 40K – a system that was heralded as a new way of doing thing that could change the game, that ultimately drags it down. 

Now, I’m not a complete doom and gloom type of human. I think that MKIII has the best and strongest gameplay and that many of the games are the most fun I have had in any edition, but themes, combined with the inevitable barrage of CID information, makes this edition the most fun to play, but the least fun to think about, and the way a game grows is not in the playing, it is in the obsession, the hours thinking about the game outside of playing it that keeps people involved. 

CID has also created a perspective to entitlement and an air of howling to get what is desired. Thankfully, I believe that both of these perceptions are incorrect, but there are portions that I feel there are a grain of truth to. 

In terms of entitlement, it feels more and more that the community doesn’t feel like they are part of the games development cycle, but are the drivers. Instead of talking about a model that could be released, or a possible solution that conversation often steers toward getting a CID and making the model functional. This is an admirable goal, but I also think that the vast majority of people don’t have any desire or place in their hearts for game balance, and instead desire their faction to have cool toys, and not to have to suffer the cool toys of other factions. Its inevitable, and its why the field test for MK II was such a raging disaster. 

Howling to get what is desired is perpetrated by the strong and constant voices of the people who are able to participate in the CID cycles the most often and most vocally. This is on top of the fact that the CID cycles are maddeningly short, without even a hint of reasonable design time frame. This leaves almost all players with only the Theory and List building forum to vent their ideas on the models, with the hope that either someone will test them, or that they will yowl loud enough to make it seem like there is a community call for a model to have one certain ability or another. This, too, contributes to CID fatigue, with most people growing tired of these screaming yahoos and not participating. 

I have noticed that the CID forums seem to be a small, vocal core of people with fairly clear biases. They push their agenda and other people either fight hard and achieve nothing, or like me, bail completely from the system because CID is not worth the time or the energy expended to help make the game better, and I feel more people like me, who are interested in trying to make the game as a whole better and stronger, are getting pushed out in favor of a minority of gamers who can stay engaged. 

Lastly, and I just want to touch on this briefly, it does feel like there is some sort of power creep coming into the games through CID, though it always felt that way just a shred – new things area almost always seen as being more powerful than the old – but I think its in small placed that have large ramifications. MAT 7 and DEF 14 are great, but not if everyone has them. P+S 14 being a benchmark is good, but not if everyone needs to hit that benchmark. It seems like the community has decided that they know what is best for the game, and the developers have agreed, for the most part. I do not think its a good direction for the game, for CID, or for the company. 

I once said that if anything was to drive me away from this game forever, it would be cygnar. I was wrong. I now feel that, if the day comes, it will be because of CID fatigue. 

Lemme know what you think. I’d love to talk about this more. 

Until Next Time

_Jonathon