Warmachine Hordes Editorial: Is Warmachine worth the money?

Too many people spend money they earned..to buy things they don't want..to impress people that they don't like.

I'm not sure when it happened, but at some point, Warmachine, and tabletop games, in general, got really expensive! I've been playing Warmachine on and off since Apotheosis and was a Ganger for most of mki. My speal used to be, "This is a solid game, with a bell curve mechanic that's cheaper than 40k, and more rewarding for anyone who likes consistency". I'd dress it up a little more but that was the core part of my schtick to get people into the game. The recent policy changes in PP, and the 'sticker shock' of the Hooch Hauler got me thinking, when did this game become so damned expensive?

I started playing Warhammer Fantasy when I was 12 years old. My buddy, Danny was a dirty high elf player, and I was a dwarf player. I remember being envious of his fast-moving cav, but relished in that perfect cannon shot I'd get every so often. Fast forward that a decade and I discovered Warmachine. I remember buying a tournament pair for cryx for under 150 dollars. A battlebox, two blisters of pistol wraiths, some additional bone jacks were the core, and all really cheap. Now we have models that cost more than that. I just played at a local event here in Colorado. After the event, I had dinner with a mate and we got to thinking, the retail value for my pair was over 1000 dollars. I realize this is on the high side. But when did the game shoot skyward? How do young players get started in the game? Are we really still cheaper than Warhammer?

I'll start by saying Privateer Press has done some solid things to help players get into the game. A 40 dollar battle box is a great reasonable entry point into the game. The 2 player 100 dollar starters are fantastic values. The 50 point all in one army box is also a solid deal. But these only get you started. You need to drop 35 bucks a jack/beast or roughly 50 dollars per unit you decide you need. I know they've helped with the entry point, but I've seen us lose quite a few local players once the 'real' price of playing the game hits home.

Why did the game go so pricey?

  • Price increases over time is expected, and certainly play a part in why it's escalated. In mki Jacks were under 20$ and now the equivalent kit is around 35. The quality of the models now is hands down better, but thats a large price jump in 15 years. 
  • Game Size. If we compare 500 points in mk1 to 75 points now the games are much larger. "Free" battlegroup points and edition changes all play a part in this.
  • Army Diversity/List Pairs. With the number of options, players have now. There are fewer and fewer redundant pieces between lists. I often want a pair that asks different questions, which normally means different pieces. 
  • Widgets, devices, and templates oh my. While this isn't directly Privateer Press's fault, have you looked at the average players "kit" now. I have a set of 50$ tokens, 40$ in movement sticks, proxy bases, a laser, 2d terrain, 2d Steamroller zones, and a travel chess clock in my bag. Lets not forget that bag with foam was over 150 dollars itself. All of that literally adds up to more than my mki Denny1/Coven tournament pair cost me!

So how do we pitch this game to new players? How do we grow? Hey man here is this game we all love, cause I still love this game. It's around 50-150 bucks to get started, but if you get serious you really need to budget around a grand for it. How is a high school kid supposed to afford that? I know we're targeting an established crowd, and miniature gaming has never been a cheap hobby. But is this movement really good for the future of the game? Well lets take a look at the other miniature game options.

  • Well Warhammer is honestly cheaper, but for one list. A casual list of 40k can happen for 250 ish dollars. With competitive lists falling in around 600 bucks. A large difference here is Warmachine is a pair system, where 40k is a single list.
  • Guildball is a super cheap, and very successful skirmish game. "Teams" come in at under 100 bucks, and thats really all you need to play.
  • Infinity, again another skirmish game. It's 10-20 models a side, and normal requires multiple lists. The armies themselves are much cheaper than Warmachine, but it's easy to get caught in buying terrain or other supplemental items.
  • X-wing is deceptively expensive. They are cheap to buy into, and offer great starter products. However once you're in the game fancy move sticks, additional factions and multiple list options can run the game price up. I would still consider this a skirmish game though.

Other games aside, the increase cost to play the game has driven more players to shop online for discounts, often bypassing their local play stores. This is a slippery slope, more players is certainly good for the game, but without the local game store where will you play them, or meet the next new player? About two years ago Privateer Press announced the Free Rider policy, which limited online discounts to 10%. This was in an effort to force more growth back into the community. Just this past year Privateer Press changed this a bit, allowing some stores the ability to dig deeper for discounts, but they can't advertise them. Either way the escalating cost of the game, has driven players to explore alternatives to the local game store for aquiring product. 

So TT if it's more expensive, why do you play it? Well it's two things. I do really love the bellcurve, no other game handles odds as well as Warmachine in my opinion. It's still a dice game, but more often than not the odds play themselves out. The other is the community, all of you. Both my local group and the national meta that I've seen are filled with really nice players, who I enjoy being around.

So is Warmachine isn't the cheaper date, but it's the most fulfilling one I've found yet. I am certainly concerned as it continues to grow, but right now I'm happy to enjoy the journey. I try to be honest about the cost, and time spent needed to "get up to speed" when talking to new Warmachine/Hordes players. I go over the negatives, but always end by saying it's the game I love the most, and spend most of my time on. So what do you guys think? How is your local meta growing? What do you guys think of the cost of the game?