Privateer Press Announcements – The Frugal Perspective

I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that Privateer Press have been busy little bees.  Lots of people have been reposting their announcements and talking about them. I’ve been holding off because… well, two out of three things I don’t care about, and the third is one I’ve been having trouble articulating my thoughts on until I had four lovely hours to think out loud.

I don’t own an iPhone or Android and probably never will (I don’t like, or work well with, touchscreens) so I don’t, personally, give a toss about War Room.  I think it’s an awesome idea for them that are riding the wave of progress and it’s the sort of thing that I think tabletop gaming needs to embrace so long as it doesn’t become the only way to play (see previous re: touchscreens).

The IKRPG? A few years ago I’d have been mad excited, but I think I’m more interested in inventing an industrial fantasy world of my own that draws on the Iron Kingdoms and other influences than I am in playing in the Iron Kingdoms themselves, and in a generic system I already own rather than one specifically built for One Company’s Vision that I have to buy another book to get.  Good luck to ’em though, it’s a good setting and people have been waiting long enough.

As for Colossals… I have a comment that I’ve been wanting to make but that I’m having trouble articulating without it descending into entitled whining, or something that can easily be misinterpreted or dismissed as such. Still not quite sure I’ve managed to work out what I want to say and say it yet, but the closest I’ve come was yet another conversation with Lex at stupid-o-clock in the morning.

[05:30:33] Von: So. Colossals.

[05:30:51] Von: I confess myself unsurprised but weirdly uninspired.

[05:30:55] Lexington: Quite…colossal?

[05:31:03] Lexington: Indeed. I’ve got mixed feelings.

[05:31:16] Von: I’m mentally filing this away under ‘great, so I can’t just say “I don’t want to play your disposable income arms race” like I can with 40K.’

[05:31:28] Von: See, I have no problems with big stupid expensive powerful stuff that I can’t afford.

[05:31:55] Von: But I like there being brackets within a game system that mean I can avoid having to play games where someone else can afford access to certain rules and capabilities, and I can’t.

[05:32:43] Von: It’s not even about winning, it’s just about being able to do the same sort of stuff on the same sort of level.

[05:32:47] Von: Play the same game.

[05:33:55] Lexington: Indeed.

[05:34:11] Lexington: I’ve no idea how these will fall within that spectrum.

[05:34:18] Lexington: As I understand, Battle Engines are…okay?

[05:34:29] Lexington: Certainly not must-haves.

[05:34:50] Lexington: But this is more “there is a class of model I cannot afford, and others can bring with regularity.”

[05:34:52] Lexington: Yes?

[05:35:05] Lexington: Thus blocking you from access to a whole class of game object?

[05:37:12] Von: Yes.

[05:37:31] Von: And unlike 40K, there isn’t a variant of the game where it’s socially appropriate to [ask for the playing field to be levelled].

[05:37:38] Lexington: Indeed.

[05:37:41] Von: I haven’t been told to Play Like I Have A Pair in years, mind.

[05:38:08] Von: But there’s that underlying ‘everything can play against everything else’ ethos that [to me] suggests wanting a negotiated experience is somehow missing the point of the game?

[05:41:50] Von: It’s just that there are some people for whom ‘owning your game experience’ is ‘taking your lumps’ and not ‘straining the lumps out as if this were custard’.

[05:42:01] Von: And that in my experience Warmahordes is attractive to those people.

[05:42:35] Von: And that may explain why I’ve been more about GW than usual lately, because at least I feel comfortable saying “no, I don’t really want to play Storm of Magic, unless someone has some Tomb Kings I can borrow.”

If you can afford a Titan and I can’t, that’s groovy, you are by luck or judgement better off than I am and I don’t resent you for that too much provided you remember that I’m poor and don’t rub my nose in it. I certainly don’t resent GW for selling you an awesome model, not if you can afford it and want to buy it. We can still play 40K and there’s a stricture and structure in the rules of the game that makes it okay for me to say “can we not play Apocalypse?” and for that to be the end of the argument.

I don’t see that option in Warmahordes, beyond asking for a 15 or 25 point game, which has its own problems given the scene’s focus on 50 point tournaments and prep games for ’em.  It’s not part of the game’s mechanics or ethos, and that makes initiating the conversation a bit hard.*

This wouldn’t be a problem but for one thing. The scale of Warmahordes is creeping up and up – more than ever, it’s an army-scale games with skirmish-scale mechanics.  Bigger, more expensive, harder-to-store-and-transport models** are becoming the norm.  It’s “mech is king” 40K all over again.  The rules don’t matter – I accepted that mech was king within about a month of 40K.5 coming out. What matters is this:

Another of the games that my friends play is becoming a game that I can’t play in the same way, on the same level, that they do. That makes me sad. I don’t like being left out, and I’m not overly keen on being reminded that I’m poor. It’s the old dilemma facing the frugal gamer who wants to actually, y’know, play and enjoy playing games…

But what gives me the right to drag other people down to my level? They can afford these shiny toys, and they want to play with them, and they want to play their tournament prep games, and that means they want to be playing with people who are engaging with the game on the level that they are. I’m not entitled to say ‘stop having fun, I can’t keep up!’… right?

* – I’m not a complete Martin, I swear. If you’ve read my roleplaying posts you’ll understand that I can actually invent and negotiate. It’s just initiating that’s the hard part. This is why I like to play games – because they’re an easy introduction to people and I’m scared of introducing myself. Interacting is fine, it’s just that initial “I don’t know you and know of no reason you’d want to know me” bit that’s terrifying.

** – this may sound like a tangent but it’s really not, not if you can’t afford a car. There’s an upper limit on the amount of stuff you can carry on a bike, a bus, or glomming a lift in someone’s car. This is less of an issue if you’re able to host games in your house. I can just about fit a 4’x4′ board into Schloss Von, with some terrain that… let’s be blunt here… isn’t up to the challenge of true-line-of-sight games with big looming models in them..

14 thoughts on “Privateer Press Announcements – The Frugal Perspective

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  1. Has anybody seen statlines for the Titans?
    Er, Colossals, I mean…
    Does anybody know what kind of points investment they’ll require, whether or not you’ll be able to slip them into a list, or will they require you to build around them with support?
    Are they breaking the game yet?

    I wouldn’t throw up my hands and sell that HoMachine army just yet, Von.

    Being a ‘broke hobbyist’ is a horribly ironic fate, like…being a vegan who gets turned into a Werewolf, or something.
    Still, I think PP is smart enough to not totally throw their game outta wack.
    There’s time for a lot of additions and changes between now and whenever the Titans arrive.
    Colossals, whatevs…
    Once models reach the ‘over a hundred dollars for a single fig’ level, I just call ’em Titans.

    1. Oh, I won’t be selling them. I’m very attached to my Cryx.

      I’m hearing 18-20 points, and I’d be very surprised if they didn’t slot into the standard game experience.

      I’d just like to point out that ‘broken’ is not a word I used at any point.

      1. My friend, if I had the money, I’d have…well, everything, really.
        But I have to pick and choose my purchases, and make sure they’re actually things I’ll use, not just stuffs I want.
        It borders on cruelty to see awesome models and such I know I’ll never be able to genuinely afford.
        I mean, I could buy them, but I gotta eat, y’know?

        I don’t think PP is gonna ‘price you outta the game,’ Von, I guess that was my point.

  2. A lot of these thoughts, though, were being bandied about on the internets before battle engines came out too. That they’d break the game, that they’d be strictly better than warjacks, that it was a new big expensive piece that people needed in order to be competitive. So far, that hasn’t been the case – if anything, people are complaining that some of them are underpowered. So I give PP the benefit of the doubt, at least until we see the rules for them.

    Supposedly, they’re around 18-20 points each, with roughly the same stats as heavy warjacks but with about twice the boxes and a lot more weapons. Seems reasonable, and it definitely seems like they could be taken down using just a normal army. PP has been good at balancing new additions so far in MkII, so I for one am looking forward to them, even if I myself don’t buy one.

    1. I’d like to point out that ‘competitive’ is not a word I used, nor ‘balance’, nor ‘underpowered’. I think you’re responding to an argument I didn’t make, and that I was careful not to present the appearance of making. I just want that on record in case That Boring Argument starts up. You know the one.

      I’m not especially worried that they’re going to be too good/not good enough. That really isn’t the point I’m trying to make here, and if that’s what you took from my post, either I need to rewrite it or you need to reread it.

      1. Fair enough – that may be simply my kneejerk reaction to arguments in this vein, lord knows I’ve seen enough of the DOOM posts these days.

        I disagree that it’s in the same vein of “mech-is-king” that 40K tends to be in, and perhaps that’s where I picked up and interjected my viewpoint, as that phrase is often used to assume that armies without heavy mech can’t be played competitively. I also disagree that the large, hard-to-transport pieces are the norm – there will be 10 battle engines and likely 11 Colossals across the whole game? Out of how many units, solos, and warjacks/warbeasts? Now, it may be that they’re preparing to advance to better Unbound rules and larger games and such, which is perhaps an understandable business move, but I daresay that these large models will be the exception rather than the norm.

        I do understand that in some ways, it’s a “if I don’t have the money, I can’t play this game in the way my friends can,” but I doubt all too many people will be buying these things in the first place, and regardless that argument holds for pretty much all hobbies – 40K, warmachine, even M:tG (I stopped playing Magic years ago when I realized I couldn’t afford to buy a box or two of cards every time a new expansion came out). I suppose you miss out on the experience of running a Colossal for yourself, if you choose not to invest/save up for one, but cost wise consider the price of a full unit of Bane Thralls with UA and perhaps Tartarus. That’s about $110 right there, same (probably) as a Colossal. Only instead of 13 models you get one very large one. The choice is yours as to where to invest the money.

        1. I could have written the mech-is-king comparison with more qualifiers and explanation, so that’s fair enough. When 40K.5 came out I looked at the Chaos army I owned, looked at the Codex, looked at the core mechanics, and quit before it stopped being fun. The collection I had was not conducive to the having of fun without reshuffling all the squads and buying a lot of transports. That’s basically it. Competitive viability was never a thing – I’m crap at these games on a very fundamental level, far beyond list building.

          Yes, the argument does hold true for all hobbies. Some scale down better than others, though. Some communities are more open to scaling down than others. That’s sort of the point I’m making. Warmachine does scale down well but I don’t know if Warmachine as it is played in the UK clubs around the West Midlands does.

          The problem I have is that I’m not an evangelist – I won’t ‘fight my corner’ to encourage small games or – yes I’m going to say it – comped forces, because, well, what gives me the right? RPGs are a bit different – if I’m running the game, I feel that the amount of work I put in gives me the right to restrict the number of supplements in play and set some expectations about playstyle.

          To address your last point, which I admit has gotten my back up a bit: there is a difference between the large single model and the unit. Units are a scalable, manageable purchase. Single big kits aren’t. You could buy a box of six models – that’s a usable unit. You could add four more models. Usable unit, more options. Then the UA, then the patch solo, get the idea? More combinations and okay, yes, immediate playability for lower cost, but don’t take the instant-gratification cheap shot please, not here. I angst for months over buying a single blister and all my expensive single models are event swag or second-hand. Instant gratification and I are not friends.

          What I suppose I’m saying is that Warmachine is getting bigger – not just the size and expense of the models, but the lack of scalable purchases (a move away from box + blisters to full unit boxes, for instance) and the kinds of game being played. This is not a good thing, or a bad thing, just a thing that happens to mean there’s less room in the scene I have access to for cheapskate casual players. I’m trying to state this in a matter-of-fact tone and not whine, and I hope your mind’s ear is hearing it like that.

          If there’s a whine, it’s the “I hate quitting games and losing touch with people” one, and I agree, it may not come to that. I hope it doesn’t.

          1. You do have a point, and I tip my hat to it – Colossals are in no way scalable. Unlike the unit I listed above, which would go min-max-UA-tart (though with the repackaging of the entire bane thrall unit at $90 at least one step of that is lost, but the corollary there is that the reboxed unit does cost a bit less than buying everything separately), a colossal is simply that.

            I suppose I have simply a different perspective – I see no need nor desire to buy a big centerpiece, though I certainly wouldn’t mind having them. Most of my purchases as well are through trades for models I no longer want, or through ebay or some other remarkably discounted seller, save the few I buy at my FLGS to keep them happy and in business, and I definitely have had months at a time where I don’t buy things because of being short on money. Rent and food are a bit more important!

  3. I would be worried about facing the colossal in hardcore. As a game machanic, having a single monstrosity soaking up such a proportion of points, whilst still being repairable and focus boostable, in my mind, makes the ‘frugal’ gamer at a huge disadvantage in the time-rushed hardcore format.

    Just tuppence worth :-)

    1. Noted, and yes… that’s a legitimate concern.

      It’s sad really, because I like Hardcore – but I pitched my tent in the ‘comp is for whiners’ camp many years ago, and here it stays. Can’t afford the good shit, stay off the circuit. It’s a rich man’s game, really.

      (Although, that said… ever seen Blackball?)

    2. Not really. If you’re fighting against one, it also reduces the number of activation on the other side of the table that you have to worry about, and the massive base means the potential moves it makes will be more predictable than anything else on the table, due to the need to not end movement on top of any scenery.

      And, if you’re really that worried about much about someone with a collossal being at an advantage in Hardcore due to having less things to activate, then your 50 point list should look something like: Karchev, Behemoth, Beast 09, Black Ivan, Spriggan, Spriggan, War Dog…

      1. The Hardcore list that completely thrashed me last month did look a bit like that. Mine, which failed out twice, was too dependent on me a) remembering to activate everything properly and b) having time to activate everything properly.

        1. Yeah, that’s why I won’t be playing Hardcore, ever. I’m too slow at processing activation sequences, especially when there’s people talking anywhere near me. I get better with practice using a specific list, and the sequencing becomes more fluid, but I shift factions too much to ever get fast enough for Hardcore.

          One of my regular opponents, on the other hand, has been playing Menoth for his entire time playing, with only occasional dabbles in other factions, never goes looking for assassinations, and has a near photographic memory. So he’s been trying out the Hardcore format on club nights, with his normal lists (which, admittedly, usually include 2-3 heavies by default), and plays without actually needing to use the turn time extension.

          Horses for courses an that. Works for some people, doesn’t for others.

          And also, why I don’t think the collossals will be a Hardcore game-breaker.

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