I’ve played Warmachine on and off now for… geeze, six or seven years? I have a lot of money tied up in little metal men, and even more hours than I’d care to count in painting them. It’s safe to say it’s a game I really enjoy.
I was a little skeptical when the Warmachine game was first announced, as a third-person action game. I was thrilled when they shifted gears on the project and announced the Warmachine: Tactics kickstarter, not only because I love turn-based tactics games, but because it felt like a much better fit for Warmachine as a whole.
On the other hand, the similarity makes it more difficult for your brain to differentiate the two. Playing Warmachine Tactics, deploying like you do in Warmachine, allocating focus like you do in Warmachine, running and charging like you do in Warmachine, it’s easy to expect the game to just be Warmachine in digital form.
But it isn’t.
Naturally a tactics game, and morever a video game, is going to have different requirements from both a technological and balance standpoint. Moving units together, for instance, works in the tabletop game but may slow down or impede the flow of a tactics video game. And so there are differences.
Six years of playing Warmachine, and I find myself fighting a lot of my natural instincts in Tactics. Moving some individual troopers, then a warjack, and then more troopers screams against all of the rules I know playing the tabletop game. You’re not allowed to do this, you’re cheating.
Were it a third-person action game, it would be far easier to approach it for what it is: a video game wearing the skin of Warmachine, in the same way the Space Marine game wore the skin of Warhammer 40k. But this… this is taking some getting used to.
And that’s not to say Tactics is bad, or foreign. In fact it captures the feeling of Warmachine tabletop as best as I could hope for, and manages to keep about 80% of the actual mechanics intact. The remaining 20% throws me for a loop some of the time, but the more I play it the more that will fade. I’m curious to see if, sometime down the road, I’m playing Warmachine tabletop and start using Tactics rules by accident.
It’s currently in early access, and to be honest it’s one of the rougher early access games I’ve seen. The UI looks like it was ripped straight from an Excel spreadsheet, the graphics are muddy, matchmaking is pure chance at best. Only two factions are represented and you can’t currently modify your squad (for a more focused testing experience). It’s got a long road to go, to be sure. But I think it’s on the right road, at least.