Saturday, October 22, 2011

Selecting a tabletop game: part 1 (Looks)

It has been a while since I last posted about the differences between Warhammer and Warmachine/Hordes or any other game system, and for the next few blog posts, I would like to try something different.

Before I did a price comparison between Warmachine and Warhammer and in the end said that it really comes down to how you feel about what you get for the price for the number of games and playstyle you got for the money, but that also came a few months before the most recent GW price hike, which furthers skews some things. I won't be going back into pricing here, as it is easy enough for people to get their own price comparisons for forces they are interested in. Some folks try to blow each systems spending capacity out of proportions by saying that you will start Warmachine cheaper but spend more on it in the long run, or that Warhammer is too expensive to start at all. Fact of the matter is it all comes down to you are your pocket book. There is no difference between the wargaming hobby and RC helis, weaving, whatever. If you want to spend a ton then you are going to spend a ton either way.

When it comes to wargames, you basically have a few choices you have to make between many, MANY various tabletop games.
 I'll tackle one of these at a time.

Looks: For me looks are always a big factor. I always loved the GW High Elves, just something about that armor style really clicked with me, which of course means that when I think of scale mail armor, thats the first design I think of, and wish more games used it. The GW Lizardmen are also amazingly beautiful and detailed, but I can NOT stand the Slann's looks and wish I could build a Skink or Saurus lord of equal potency. Of course you also have the Tau and the Eldar which I also love the looks of and would be the first forces I go play if I went back to 40K. While the other forces are generally okay looking to me, I'm not an overall fan of any of the looks of the other choices.

Now zip across the sea to Privateer Press and their models, and you have an interesting issue at hand. I didn't choose to play WarmaHordes for a good number of years simply because of the way it looked, but eventually I wanted to give it a shot. Once I actually had the minis in my hands I found that they were actually decently sculpted, but a bit fiddly. You can really tell that PP minis are from a much 'younger' generation of sculptors then GW has, as the minis are generally a pain to put together or in some cases look slightly awkward once together. In the end though, the minis do look well together, and the pictures in many cases simply do not do the minis justice. I enjoy my Menoth force's looks greatly, and want to start either a Circle force or a Retribution force, as those are the next minis I like the looks of.

Looks don't stop there.

Both those systems use the same 28mm scale called Heroic scale, this is where hands and feet are enlarged. There is a much more common scale used for historical wargaming and many other fantasy games called True-Scale. This generally means that the minis look as much like normal human proportions as possible. Because many players are used to GW and PP games, many find the true-scale minis of Mantic's Kings of War/Warpath, Cipher-Studios Anima Tactics, and the many historicals slightly off putting for a couple reasons. These minis like everything else do take some getting used to, but honestly there is a certain charm to them once you get used to it.

Next thing you need to see what you are interested in is the scale of the minis themselves. I have played many games from 10mm to 28mm scales, and all have their own form of entertainment and rules. Heavy Gear is a 12mm scale ruleset I am currently looking at getting into, Warmaster is a 10mm scale, Epic 40K is 5mm. The scale comes down to a few things, how the game plays, and how easy it is to paint. Obviously smaller the minis, the less required you feel details like eyes are teeth become needed. The smaller scale games also focus on ARMIES rather then FORCES, letting you see a much bigger battle picture then the standard 28mm scale lets you see. On the flip side of that the 54mm scale games (which are VERY limited without really digging into the web) focuses much more on the skirmishes on an individual level rather then force or army level.

As you can see, looks is a very broad term, which certainly makes it hard for people to agree on which looks best in any particular situation. There is no right or wrong way in this regard, simply personal taste, but one must be aware that each game will have a different playstyle involved, as you will find out in my next blog post.
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