On June 14th's No Quarter Prime press release, we caught the first spoiler of Privateer Press's intention to release a new faction annually, with a corresponding Forces book. This tiny, almost nonexistent little announcement (really just a few words in the middle of an explanation of something largely unrelated), was further verified by PPS_Pagani through facebook and twitter.
Well, this is some crazy news for Warmachine players as a whole! There hasn't been a lot of information around the announcement just yet beyond that more will be revealed at this years Lock and Load Keynote, but it has already been met with some pretty... mixed... reactions, and I think that's not entirely unjustified. Let's talk a bit about what exactly this means for WarmaHordes players as a whole.
-Potential for Faction Bloat
This is sort of the obvious one that comes to mind. A yearly faction release schedule is pretty extreme. With twelve factions currently on the roster and the thirteenth on the near horizon, we've got a pretty solid diversity of factions already. Over the next five years, an annual faction release puts us at 18. The game goes on another ten years, we're past twenty. Is there a point at which there's just too many? Well, PP has the power to reevaluate year by year and decide if they need to stem the tide. It's not like announcing this means everything is doomed to spiral out of control, just that the possibility is there in the future and needs to be watched.
Can the PP development team maintain good, unique, interesting ideas for an entire faction on a yearly basis?
The answer, I think, is yes. Privateer has been around for over a decade, and over the course of that time, I can't imagine their team hasn't had dozens upon dozens of really interesting, unique ideas for a faction that their development process and schedule just didn't allow. The team now has the opportunity to let those ideas run wild, and do so in a relatively contained format. New factions are expected to be releases akin to Grymkin, ie they're smaller, contained factions with likely limited release schedules. This lets the design team play with some pretty interesting ideas, and they'll be keeping an eye out for fun ideas throughout the community to pull in as well, I'm sure!
-Pulling From Other Factions
I've seen this one quite a bit. Does this mean the main factions are going to see reduced extra content?
Well... I can't speak for PP on this, but I would say the answer is no. There has always been development of non-primary faction stuff going on, these new factions are just likely to be the focus of that secondary effort. We may see gaps in the release schedule in which the new factions will be getting released, but overall we're looking at a much more cyclical, burst-style release schedule in Mk. 3, and each faction will get their time when they're scheduled to. If there is an impact on the amount of new stuff for the old factions, well, I think it will be pretty minimal.
-Nobody Can Keep Up
I've seen a few say that nobody would be able to financially keep up with a new faction every single year. Really though, let's be honest... I don't think people are really intended to. A smallish, self contained faction drops in a year, and you aren't into the aesthetic or rules? It's not meant for you, really. One comes out that really speaks to you? You can throw down the admittedly sizeable investment but have that to play if you want. At the end of the day, we play a niche hobby of a game. Factions on this design are going to be a bit more of a 'take it or leave it' concept, and maybe even be more approachable as secondary factions rather than "main" ones. Some people do it but... there are few tabletop minis games (especially ones as large and long lived as Warmachine) where owning every single faction is really the intention.
Really there are any number of arguments or points I've seen about whether a faction a year is going to be ok for the game. As it is, though, the best we can do is wait for more information, and trust that PP can continue to make as awesome a game as they have for years to come. There will be factions the community will respond well to, and there will likely be some they won't. If Grymkin are a good example of the sort of interesting faction designs we can expect in the future though... I'm optimistic and excited for the possibilities. Plus hey, it sure gives us here at Line of Sight a lot to talk about in the future!
What do you think about the push for an annual faction? In my opinion PP is walking a razors edge but has the chops to do it if they really put their heart into it, but what are your concerns? Let us know on twitter, facebook, or the comments of this post! We'd love to hear what you think!