Outside the Box: Spring Broke
In times past I have heaped praise upon the Warhammer 40,000 world and minis game. The world is just a whole lot of fun to play in and interact with, the models for the game are by and large great little models, and I really enjoy painting them when Iím not playing WoW, or other video games, or other board games, or working. However, I am, at heart, a poor college grad and as such I find myself unable and unwilling to fork over 150-200 dollars for a field able army. I also find myself without the time required to paint the many dozens of models such an army would encompass. To further simplify the issue I have been handed a dictate from one of my many employers to return to the first miniatures game I ever played: Warmachine. So while I donít plan to give up 40k, my budget and my boss demand that I take my war gaming elsewhere for the time being.
You might have heard of Warmachine, a steam-punk techo-arcana-inspired miniature war game, since some friends of the gaming community have recently gotten into it. Either way, I started dabbling in it a few years after its emergence in 2005. At its core, Warmachine is a very different game from Warhammer, so it is really hard to compare the two. I wonít even attempt any sort of argument as to which one of the two is ďbetter,Ē but, I will at least give you some idea as to the pros and cons of Warmachine, its system, its models, and its world. So join me as I re-explore my first love, so to speak.
40k tries its best to be as realistic as it can be under most circumstances. Warmachine, on the other hand, knows itís a game, and as such has very gamey mechanics. This is neither good nor, bad in my opinion; it is simply the way it is. Playing Warmachine is a lot like playing Final Fantasy Tactics or Disgaea. 40k is run in phases; players basically have a movement phase, a ranged combat phase, and a melee combat phase. Warmachine, however, is run in a series of activations, like many tactics. Players ďturn onĒ a unit or model, move it, attack with it, and continue until they have activated all their models and end their turn.
Another big difference between 40k and Warmachine is how units work within the game rules themselves. In 40k, players field units of troops that work together for the most part. Not so in Warmachine. Troops within a unit in Warmachine mostly act individually rather than cohesively. Also, whereas 40k troops have a vast range of weapons and armor they can be equipped with; troops in Warmachine are pretty much set in stone. A 40k Space Marine may have a rocket launcher, a bolter, a heavy bolter, or a flamer, but a Khador Man-o-War Shocktrooper always has a Shield Cannon and an Annihilator Blade.
So, in short, 40k strives for a more realistic system with high customization, while Warmachine has a more gamey system with more stability. What this translates into is that Warmachine tends to feel a little more accessible, while 40k can more hardcore and intimidating. Both systems are great for what they aim to do, and as always it just depends on what you want out of a game.
The models in 40k and Warmachine follow the same break-down really. 40k models are almost all made out of a resin these days, and while this did little to drop their price, they have great detail and the plastic models allow for a great deal more customization. Warmachine still follows the old way, though. Most of their models are still made of metal, for better or worse. This makes them feel more substantial and beefier, which really suits a game based around giant techno-arcane mechs smashing each other.
The major area of difference between the models is in the sheer number of them. In 40k you need a lot of models. A LOT of models. But in Warmachine you need relatively few. Sure, to have a sizable army in either game youíll be dumping 150-250 bucks but in Warmachine you can actually start playing with one $50 kit. Granted, while in Warmachine $50 is only about four models whereas in 40k that can be upwards of twenty, you canít really play 40k with twenty models.
In general you get more models with 40k and they are more customizable. Not only in terms of gear, but color as well. Players are encouraged to make their own chapter of Space Marines with their own colors and standard, while in Warmachine your colors are basically locked by faction. This isnít to say you canít give your Cygnar mechs camo, but it would be a little odd. However, if you have a time constraint, it is way easier to paint the five models it takes to start playing Warmachine than it does to make your army list, put on the correct weapons, and paint the numerous models it takes to start playing 40k on any scale.
My last word on the difference between the two games models: the Warmachine bases are WAY better. They just are.
In my opinion, 40kís world is better. Itís just a deeper setting and far more developed, but 40k has been around for almost 25 years and Warmachine for only about six. And from what little history I know of the 40k setting, it was pretty slipshod in the beginning. However, Warmachine does have steam-punk going for it, magical steam-punk no less, and who doesnít love that?
Itís really hard to compare both settings when it comes to their story and world design. This is partly due to one having been around a lot longer and partly because I donít know a whole lot about Warmachineís lore. What I have read of Warmachineís lore is very interesting, but it just doesnít feel like itís up to the same level. Think about trying to compare Riftís lore and story to World of Warcaftís. What I know of Riftís lore is cool and interesting, but itís only just come out, while Warcraftís lore has been around for twentysome years.
Really there isnít much of a conclusion. Both games are great, and should you find yourself sitting on wads of cash both are worth playing. 40k and Warmachine are solid games and great hobbies. It comes down to a matter of scale, time, and rules preference. Do you like large scale battles with highly customizable models with a more realistic rules system? Or, would you rather play a smaller game that works more like FF: Tactics with predictable models? And while this article barely scratches the surface of the two games, it should help you familiarize yourself with the two biggest miniatures games out there right now.
While I plan to finish painting my Agrothraxx Space Marines, the purchase of the rest of my army will be going on the back burner for a while. In the meantime, I hope youíre ready to hear of my exploits with various mage hunting elves, religious zealots, and lightening wielding blue Warjacks.