And that is as far as we got with this game before it fell apart due to our general frustration with understanding this rule set. I am convinced that there is indeed a game to be had here but we are struggling to find it. Warmaster seems to be the kind of game you have to play in a large group of gamers in order to get some general house rules consensus on how the hell it is actually supposed to run. We found the rules about pushing units back due to missile fire to be silly frankly. Archers and war machines are basically the same thing to this gamers mind with the exception of a tiny bit of range. When you are moving in such grand sweeping motions the extra 10cm of the Elf bolt throwers seems to be utter pants to my mind. Why would I not just take some faster and more solid archers? I am probably just not getting this game which is a pity as I have great respect for Rick Priestly’s stuff over the years. I feel that I need to have a copy of the rules without all the fluff crap so that I can read the damn things quickly in the heat of a battle to learn the game in the first place. Well over half of the text is fluff to explain where they are coming from design wise. This should be in italic or differentiated from the important text in some way so I don’t have to keep reading it again and again. In addition to the large volume of text in the main rules there are a load of Q&A’s in Warmaster magazine which I would be expected to read to clarify the damn game. This game is starting to feel like way too much effort for our needs. We don’t play it all the time and so forget stuff which takes time to look up in the wordy text meaning less time enjoying playing toy soldiers. Perhaps if we lived in Nottingham and gamed in a big group we might get some reward from this system but as it stands the barrier for entry is set too high. There is no way that I can sell this to my other gaming buddies with my current understanding of the rules, they will just give up in frustration.
For me the Warmaster game algorithm basically runs like:
- Set up troops in whatever fashion, it largely matters little as one can usually redeploy like an Elf catcher in Blood Bowl – unless you balls up a command roll.
- Try to get enough of them moving in the direction of the enemy before I mess up a command roll.
- One they are in range of anything, charge into combat (always with all heroes preferably with terrifying monster and magic weapon – more the merrier). The key thing here is jumping on the enemy with your demigods before she does the same to you.
- Effectively lose control of my troops as combat seems to be a matter of following a rules flowchart with some dice rolling thrown in.
- Try to make sense of the inevitable mess that ensues and go back to step 2 ad nauseam.
If you are reading this and get and love Warmaster and think I am being a prat about it fair enough. This is not meant to be a review of the system just a very subjective opinion based on effort to play it. If you get great pleasure from this game then I am honestly very happy that you do. I really wanted to get this working but have failed on every attempt. It’s not like I am new to this wargaming as I have played most of the GW systems since 1st edition RT was young.
Our next action will be to try out the Kings of War rules using the lovely Warmaster models as they look awesome and it would be a shame to not game with them. Kings of War is penned by Allesio Cavatore who was involved in Warmaster’s design. It seems like a much simpler system, a framework which I can use to build on. I want to be able to create interesting story driven scenarios involving lots of models that play quickly. It seems like they have the abstractions of reality in the correct places to allow a large battle game to resolve speedily whilst having sufficient scope for character. Well we will see how that turns out next week!