Monday, 21 June 2010

Fanboy Fights and Gaming Gear

There's an ongoing nerd fight between Warmachine/Hordes and Warhammer (40K) players - or more accurately, consumers of Privateer Press products and consumers of Games Workshop products - over which game works out cheaper in the long term.  It's pretty much a wash - you can play a Privateer game with less miniatures, but they're more expensive than the Workshop equivalents and the game pretty much requires you to own a variety of pieces to meet a variety of tactical needs if you want to do well.

Anyway, what with the new Warhammer coming out in July, and the new rulebook costing a hefty £45 (incidentally, I won't be buying one - it's more expensive than I need, too heavy to cycle around with on my back, and contains a lot of stuff that isn't game rules and so gets in the way of using it as a reference document.  It's a lovely looking book, but it's not appropriate to my needs), the battleground of the week has been start-up costs.  You can read the nerd fight that inspired this post over at Stelek's rather confrontational blog (probably not safe for work, or the thin-skinned - he swears a bit and doesn't suffer fools gladly).

Wargames do frequently have quite a steep start-up cost, but there are always going to be ways of mitigating it.  Privateer Press do half the work for us, printing the rules for the entry-level pieces in their games in the core rulebook and providing some easily-photocopied templates and markers in the back.

The nice chap who makes Forward Kommander does a bit more work, as the printouts from that will have the damage grids and tracks you'll need on it.

There are always cheap options for tokens and templates - I use a lot of Gale Force 9 and Litko tokens, for my sins, mostly because my clear glass stones didn't go down to well at the club I used to use in Manchester (it was a dark space and it was difficult to read my handwriting, it smudged all the time, and yes, some of the lads were part of the Cult of Official Supplies), and paper ones would have gone mouldy in that cellar full of fish that we played in.

I have made my own for other games, though, and most of the online communities for wargames have links to PDFs that helpful people have made that you can print off and stick onto card or spare bases or what-have-you.  (Da Waaagh do a nice set of very Orky 40K ones, for instance.)  My smoke templates are all cardboard (I need a lot of them for most of my armies, more than it would be reasonable to purchase plastic ones for) and my new spray template probably will be too.

As far as rules materials go, it's like roleplaying - you have to learn to spot the difference between an essential core rulebook and a frivolous supplement.  Once you have a set of rules once, there's no sense in buying them twice - which is, incidentally, what the local Workshop staff have been trying to persuade me to do (actually, three times - collector's edition for owning and cherishing, regular one for background and using until the book comes out, and the little one for actually lugging around and taking to games, once it's come out).  What kind of mug do they take me for, eh?

Lest it be thought that I'm taking sides here, I should add that we Frugalists are not biased towards any game system: we make our own terrain and try to keep it good for everything, we make our own tokens for PP games and our own movement trays for GW games.  We don't buy anybody's overpriced hobby products when there are art shops in the world, and the only thing we get into Internet Fights over is people spending more money than they need to.

That and Blogger's text wrapping and inexplicably adding extra blank lines to my posts every time I try and do something clever with images.  IT WOULD WORK IF YOU'D STOP ADDING EXTRA BITS, BLOGGER!  Tch.  Anyway, hope you enjoyed the accessory tips.


arabianknight said...

A well timed post, Von, as I'm just now taking intrepid steps into Warmachine. Funnily enough when I mentioned this a the local club the first question back was "How does it compare with 40k for price?" - couldn't answer as I don't play 40k. Luckily everyone is starting at the same time, so battlebox games will be order of the day, at least until we/I can figure out what I can get away without buying or at least finding acceptable cheaper alternatives.

Snickering Corpses said...

To get rid of the extra blank lines, find the img tags in your post and delete any spaces between them and neighboring text except your intended new lines. That seems to be the typical culprit, though not always, for extra blank lines.

Von said...

@ arabianknight: what I've found is that the Warmachine miniatures are a) too nice and b) too specific* to do without.

You'll keep the money under your control by proxying before you buy, thinking about what tactical niches everything fills so you don't buy two things that do the same job, and not shelling out through the nose for official hobby equipment and game accessories.

I might do a thingie on planning purchases and expansions for army-scale games down the line. Still got the notes I did for my Dark Elves somewhere...

* - partly due to the Iron Kingdoms being very different from generic fantasy/pseudohistorical settings, and partly to the Privateer Press party line that discourages conversions in tournament play - they want your opponent to be able to recognise everything in your army, and they want you to spend money and not cut corners by scratchbuilding.

Von said...

@ Snickering Corpses: MY HERO. I'll be sure to try that out on the next one I write.

Sam Spooner said...

Warhammer is so much better and more successful than war machine, it's not even a contest. I know I sound like a fanboy, but this is coming from a guy who's played both many many times.

Von said...

@ Sam - you're right, it's not a contest. It's a false comparison.

One's a long-established army scale game with a quirky, old-school rules set that lends itself very well to campaign play, along with a design system that preoccupies itself with background over balance and encourages creative-to-the-point-of-demented modelling.

The other's a relatively new skirmish game, with a much tighter design philosophy and more value as a tournament game due to the developers putting balance before background (well, mostly), but it clunks like hell with large forces and actively discourages conversions.

They're different kinds of miniature game that suit different needs and priorities. I play both so that I have a tournament game and a casual game, rather than trying to force one system into a niche it's not designed to occupy.

Warhammer is absolutely the more commercially successful and widely played, though - can't argue with that. It's the big daddy of fantasy wargaming and it'll always have a place in my heart.