Warmachine: Dealing with Change

I’ve been off the comms for a few months now, but I have been looking for a good way to get back into writing. Lock and Load happened last week, and the Warmachine community got a glimpse of what the next six months will be like. Between that and a conversation I had with a friend today, I figured it was time to write.

Post Lock and Load Thoughts

Even as a player who started Warmachine right after the launch of MK3 two years ago, I have seen plenty of change in this game. The first year was a wild ride of broken models and a clunky themes. The second year was a constant gear check as more and more themes were added, balanced, and rebalanced. We also witnessed a massive wave of releases and more community involvement in the development process. A lot of people had a hard time adjusting, and I can’t blame them. Warmachine has over 1000 model entries, and around 15% of those models have had specific changes to their cards since the start of MK3. That isn’t even counting changes in “global” rules, like “Unyielding.”

But I have some good news. Privateer Press indicated at Lock and Load that new model releases are going to be slowing down a little for the foreseeable future. They have burned through all the models they had queued in production, and now they basing their release cycle on whether or not they can actually make the models in a reasonable timetable. Because of this, some ideas have been shelved for another day. That might not sound like good news at first, but the releases aren’t stopping, just slowing down a little. The meta will have more of a chance to reach an equilibrium, and the community has a chance to slow down and enjoy the game.

Let me just summarize a few quick points to wrap this up so I can get on to my main topic.

  • There should be only one new theme force released this calendar year.
  • The developers plan to work on improving legacy models while waiting for production to catch up.
  • Theme level development cycles should now be spaced a month apart at least.
  • There should be fewer nerfs this year as few models are in the “nerf danger zone” according to devs.
  • Development cycles are more focused as the dev team has learned a lot from previous cycles.
  • Dynamic updates are getting smaller and smaller.
  • There isn’t a better time to be learning or returning to the game than right now.

Change and You

Whether you are a new player or a returning player, a casual player or competitive, the dynamic nature of Warmachine is something we all have to cope with. So far, 2018 has been more stable than 2017, but a lot has changed already this year, and we are only halfway through. I think one of the first things a player should know about Warmachine is how fluid rules can be at the model level. Global rules tend not to change, but models are added or adjusted constantly. As a community organizer, I do not dance around admitting that at all. It is a fact every potential player should be provided with up front, otherwise we just aren’t being honest.

How should a person respond to a dynamic rules set? I think that is up to the player. I will never tell someone that it is “easy,” because it is not. Like I previously said, there are over 1000 models in this game already, so there was a high learning curve before introducing change. There is nothing wrong with setting the game down for a while because you do not have the time or desire to keep track of everything. Even casual Warmachine players have to commit a certain amount of time to maintaining their grasp on the game. I don’t think that people acknowledge that enough.

Tips for Managing Change

I have a few pieces of advice for helping Warmachine players, especially new or returning players, navigate the inevitably changing rules set that Warmachine has become.

  1. Know what you want from the game. Some people enjoy learning on the fly. Some people need to have all of the information before they even build a list. Do you have an easy going approach to the rules? Does your enjoyment of the game involve intensive mastery of the rules? Are you somewhere in the middle? Know where you stand on this.
  2. Read your cards between games, especially for models you haven’t used in a while. Keeping up to speed with your faction is the first step to efficiently handling change in Warmachine. It has the additional effect of helping you find better model interactions, and it can help you with time management in competitive play. Also make sure your physical cards are up to date if you have them.
  3. Avoid CID if you feel the least bit concerned about keeping up change in the game. CID rules are not real rules, so any time spent learning them can be better spent learning existing rules. In short, CID requires a massive amount of commitment and experience for it to be the least bit profitable, so players should avoid dabbling with CID rules unless they can properly allocate the time to make it worthwhile. CID games are not practice. CID is designed to make the game better, not the player.
  4. Avoid social media. Social media tends to lack necessary context most of the time. People also like to talk about CID on social media, and I view that as harmful to the learning experience. Check out battle reports or even take a peek at tournament results instead.
  5. Look up winning lists. Even if you do not plan to copy and paste lists from the internet, looking at winning tournament lists will give you a little bit of an idea of where the game is right now. Look up the card for the warcaster or warlock and read the theme benefits. Even if you don’t see a faction in your local meta, knowing how one list works usually helps you learn how another works.
  6. Talk to your opponents about what their stuff does. Do this before the game if you can. Talking again after the game is even more important. If you were able to make the time investment to get the game in, make sure you are getting the most value from it.
  7. Read the dev notes. Each dynamic update is accompanied by dev notes. These summarize the changes that were made to models in that update. If you have been out of the game for a while, go back through the dev notes for the updates that happened since you last played.
  8. Be patient. You learn your army one card at a time. You learn your opponent’s army one list at a time. You learn interactions one game at a time. It all adds up over time.

I hope this has been helpful and productive. I intend to continue writing with an emphasis on helping people keep up with the game. Hopefully the result will be something between a refresher course and SparkNotes. If you have any questions for me that you would like me to write about, leave a comment or email me at corridorwmh@gmail.com. Until next time, let’s keep those dice rolling!


Micah Walker

Wargamer, miniature painter, and now blogger for Midwest Wargaming. I love crunching numbers, and I can nearly guarantee that my articles will be the most boring, but you will learn something, damn it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *