Welcome to my blog; Rage Against the Machine. This week I explore the current meta and shift from mk2 to mk3 as I attempt to relight the ‘rampager’ fire I was so fond of in mk2….enjoy…

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Rage Against the Machine – ‘Drain In Peace’

Author: Paul North

It’s late September 2015 in sunny Ireland, and I am sat after two days of solid Warmachine with a sense of complete relief. I am done. Four solid years of playing Warmachine which involved three back to back WTC appearances, two masters trophies, hours of podcasting for Epic FM and countless road trips discussing every caster under the sun. At that point I would have rather submitted myself to a dental procedure performed in a dimly lit cave than play another game of Warmachine.

Everything seemed broken, the meta was stale, the community had gone sour, skew lists were everywhere and Jim kept drinking enough alcohol to intoxicate a small town and urinating on the floor in our hotel room. I moaned a lot, quit and left it all behind.

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Looking back some of the above had a sense of truth in it. Jim certainly kept getting drunk and urinating on the floor (hours before the above picture). Skew lists were common and the community in the UK had gotten a little ‘messy’ due to various WTC politics and certain personalities. However, it certainly was not enough to put me off playing. The truth of it was that I was completely burnt out with Warmachine. Too many games, not enough breaks, and to help justify this I had dragged up a whole range of reasons to ease the transition. Now I am sure we have all been there in one form or another. A natural protective measure to reduce the psychological strain of walking away from something you care about. No different from that Tinder date you had where she never came back from the toilet, but you told everyone it was fine because you didn’t like the way she looked at you when you vomited in a plant pot anyway.

The part worth talking about in such a scenario (no it doesn’t involve the plant pot) is how such decisions are verbalised and the impact it has on the community. After a year out of the game I have eagerly returned in time for Mk3, dusting off old armies and purchasing more. Here in York, Warmachine has been thriving, we have more players than ever before and some cracking gaming sessions are taking place at the club. I have never seen such a buzz about the game with new players arriving and old players coming back. Outside of our walled, safe, slightly racist and often flooded City though I have been finding myself starting in disbelief at not only computer screens but the faces of fellow gamers as they verbalise opinions that contain less truth than the Daily Mail’s gossip column.

This year I had the privilege of spending Gencon with DC (one of PP’s old design team who worked on mk2/3) and we spent a little time chatting about the state of Warmachine. One evening we were sat round a table eating tea and one chap declared ‘Warmachine mk3 is broken now, its not balanced at all, mk3 is rubbish etc etc’. A few seconds later the realisation hit him that DC was sat two chairs away and despite jumping ship he clearly still holds the game close to his heart (who wouldn’t after years of working on it!!). As the guy turned from one person he was trying to impress to one person he had clearly not, DC’s responded. He pointed out that of course it’s the game is not perfectly balanced, when has it even been, how could it ever be!? From a design perspective creating perfect harmony is a nightmare, there are far too many casters and list options available to players. The reality is that the design team simply wanted to readdress the balance curve as much as possible and that the fact was some bits in mk2 had gotten way out of hand. Warmachine has never sold itself as a perfectly balanced game, few games outside of Chess truly can! It is however most certainly not broken by nature, the game presents opportunities for great competitive games, arguable far more so than mk2.

In terms of the launch, it’s obvious to all that it was one of the least smooth in the entire history of gaming. From epic fail launch video to half the stock not turning up in Europe, it was more James May than James Bond. However, I think beyond the launch the actual product has taken a massive step in the right direction. Sure, it’s not perfectly balanced, but when has it even been?! I remember mk2 and man there were some horrendous casters and lists knocking around. Bradigus, Denny2, Pskarre, PHaley (LOL CRYX), Lylyth2, Harby, Butcher3, just to name a few, list’s that were massive problems at event single event. Casters that would end the game turn 2/3 simply with their feat (ehaley, denny2) and lists that abused the hell out of the meta. I lost countless games at list selection and won a fair few just by running cryx infantry spam without applying a brain cell worth of focus to the table.

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The point I am making is that mk3 is another flavour of Warmachine. The inherent problems with having such a massive game exist but it’s most definitely not on the same level as mk2 in terms of broken casters. Even the ‘top tier’ crazy stuff I am seeing is decent but nowhere near mk2 horror levels of the above casters. So, what can we do about it?

Warmachine presents you with a toolbox. It’s unique in the sense that the options you have at your disposal are truly vast. Why not embrace it, try something new, write a list no-one is expecting, write a list that finds a way round the current flavour of the month or just work with your faction community to establish a way round some of this stuff. Or if you do see a problem get constructive with the designers and the community. However, please don’t forget mk2, it was far from perfect and had some of the most unenjoyable lists imaginable.

There is a lot to be said about how a person deals with a relationship that isn’t working. Do you quietly reflect or scream from the rooftops, do you point out all the flaws until they feel bad or do you provide a balanced critique, do you tell every single person you know how annoying the other person/thing is or do you just let them know things aren’t the same anymore? Creating the negative vibe might make give you some justification and make you feel better but in the long term you are going to look like a plant pot covered in vomit if you come back in 6 months time. Trust me, I know 😉 x

Northy