March 27, 2015 by crew
As I have described in my previous ramblings, Warmachine and I had a few bad dates in the beginning. I would say something stupid, Warmachine wouldn’t call, you know the story. We danced around like this for months before committing to the current arrangement of complete and utter infatuation…
What Keeps Me Coming Back?
This is something I have given much thought to. I sometimes get asked if I actually like playing and my answer is a complicated ‘Yes!’
When I first started, I thought I’d be a painter. I’m a digital artist by day, so the idea of playing around with traditional mediums on a 3D canvas was very appealing. I assumed I would enjoy the painting and hobby side of the beautiful game and that the gameplay would be a secondary, obligatory pursuit. I would never have guessed that, years later, my army would remain unpainted and here I am, writing this article after playing in my very first competitive tournament! Don’t get me wrong, it took some slow breathing, but having come out of the other side of Organised Play, I’ve been bitten by the bug!
Heavy Metal Combat
I couldn’t have imagined just how much fun it would be to play this game. I completely misunderstood just how much intelligence is involved. It’s so… thinky!
I have played in exhausting games that have commanded every ounce of my intellectual capacity. I have spent hours thinking about tactics and scenarios when I’m not playing. I’ve even spent time analysing and discussing my own psychology whilst gaming, with others who understand the consuming nature of being a wargamer.
The gameplay is, frankly, thrilling. I love how two games will never be the same. The delicate balance between calculated tactics and unpredictable dice rolls can have simultaneously soul destroying and uplifting effects on the same table. There are multiple ways to end the game which keeps every bout feeling unique and exciting.
The ever present tantalising glory of pulling off a desperate assassination attempt in a seemingly orchestrated sequence of perfect moves is enough to keep me hooked. Now that I have had a taste of tournament play and experienced the hit of elation upon the end of the day, I can say with confident authority that I want more. I am somewhat terrified of the high level of competitive players in my community, but I understand them. Warmachine in general promotes that quick, brutal win and lends itself perfectly to a competitive environment. Despite all that however it’s also a brilliantly tactical, fun, relatively small game for casual play!
Getting The Most Out Of The Game
Setting goals is a great way to get more out of the hobby. My goals have grown in line with my ability. I remember thinking it would be my ultimate goal to play a total stranger, in a club, on a proper gaming table. I was living alone in Bristol at the time and I was poking around the Internet looking for the local scene, before stumbling upon a wargaming forum for The Bristol Vanguard. Hallelujah, they had a Warmachine board!
Posting in that forum is definitely what kick-started my slippery descent into the hobby, good and proper! I had previously played my boyfriend exclusively, so playing a new army in a new environment was such an exciting and equally scary prospect. Luckily, the Bristol scene was the friendliest, most welcoming and understanding bunch of players I could have hoped for!
On the night of my first game, the atmosphere was positively party-like! It gave birth to my next goal and I started on the Journeyman League run by the club, playing regular battle box games against different opponents on a regular basis. I have grown my whole army on the advice given to me during that league and I still meet up with and chat to the friends I met there. It has had the real world application of helping me with my nerves and confidence in general!
I have another friend who booked himself into SmogCon in order to spur him into fully painting his army! There are many events and goals you can set throughout your wargaming journey and I think it can really cement your relationship with the game. I’m certain I’m not alone!
Another aspect of the game that I couldn’t have guessed would become a major interest is the fluff. My impressions of wargaming were founded in my youth and largely consisted of big, manly Space Marines and tanks. Neither of these things caught my imagination then and continue to fail to this day. Sorry Space Marines.
Warmachine is chock full of interesting, fleshed out and utterly bad-ass female characters. As I have written before, my partner bought me my first starter Warmachine army as a present on the basis that I might appreciate the background of the game. I have found this to be increasingly inspiring. I can really buy into the characters and the world.
Sure, it’s pretty straight forward. There’s a war on, did you know? Many of the armies in the world of Warmachine are led by powerful female Warcasters who are every bit as awesome and destructive as the male Warcasters and just as fun to play! As a fictional world, that equality is important to me. I can see myself as a member of the armies I play as. Are there any other Sci-Fi or Fantasy wargames that employ such a large amount of female backstories? I’d love to know!
The stories of the individual characters in Warmachine has had an effect on my purchasing habits! I have enjoyed the fluff and become loyal to my faction. I don’t just buy into the girls because I am a girl at the expense of well written male characters either. I do appreciate the gender equality in the storyline of Warmachine and the interwoven nature of their narrative. I have bought into Asphyxious as a caster, because of his connection with Deneghra.
I would say, however, that the actual game is quite removed from the fluff, with no story campaigns to play through. On the table top, it’s a very linear format. Maybe Warmachine could benefit from a mechanic where you could imagine yourself as a Warcaster and influence your battles with your own fluff? I know this touches upon RPG territory and maybe Privateer Press’ Iron Kingdoms could scratch that itch, but it’s something that I would love to see implemented! Do you invent your own fluff?
The craft of wargaming has, without doubt, been a surprising feature in my journey. I am someone who didn’t even realise I had to assemble the models myself! Learning the art of cleaning up mould lines, gluing and basing, are skills I never thought I’d possess nor need. I’ll be very honest here and confess that my partner, Ian, is a model maker by trade and it’s largely his handy work on display on my side of the table!
We have just moved home and set up our very own hobby lab! I’m sure that I’ve, for now at least, tapped the well dry and I’ll be fixing my models up under guidance only from here on out! Still, you never know when you might have to pin your way out of a sticky situation, so I’m sure they’re valuable, transferable skills…right!?
I couldn’t write about what keeps me coming back without mentioning the community and the affect it has had on me. I hope it’s become clear by now that I think the very best single aspect of wargaming is the welcoming, inspiring, friendly community spirit of the Local Gaming Club. No people means no games. Bad attitudes means no games. Luckily I have experienced only abundant and brilliant people playing wargames in both of my local clubs since I started playing.
From my first tentative posts on a wargaming forum to my recent completion of a proper-grown-ups tournament, I have felt nothing but encouraged, uplifted and surrounded by friends.
I hope that if anyone reading this was undecided or curious about the world of wargaming, that my articles might offer a peek into just how awesome a community we find ourselves in. If you’re new in town, have an army but don’t know what to do with it, like games but have no idea where to start, I highly recommend locating your local gaming club, group or shop and making contact.
Whether they’re highly organised and big enough to house a huge store with gaming space, or they meet upstairs in a local pub for small games and a chat, they’re out there! They’re out there and they’re rolling dice. You could be too.
What keeps you coming back?
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"Don't get me wrong, it took some slow breathing, but having come out of the other side of Organised Play, I've been bitten by the bug!"
"Warmachine is chock full of interesting, fleshed out and utterly bad-ass female characters..."