On Criticizing Models

If you have been a player of Warmachine or Hordes long, you have no doubt become excited about the pending release of some model only to find yourself disappointed upon its release.  It is certainly a feeling we all know.  We want every new model for our faction to be game changers.  We wait for their release, pay no small sum of money to buy them, painstakingly assemble and paint them.  Of course we want them to be great.  But the fact is, not every model can be, and not every model should be.  With the recent release of Gargantuans, I know I have personally seen more wailing and gnashing of players’ teeth than ever before.  I want to take a moment to address these types of players, and why I feel that their complaints are not valid.

First off, as Warmachine progresses, there is an ever-increasing amount of models in the metagame.  This makes balancing new models harder than ever before, as there are exponentially more combinations and synergies that can be unleashed with every release.  In the beginning, when there were just three warcasters, a few warjacks, and a handful of units for each faction (and in the beginning, only four factions!) judging and testing balance repercussions for new models was relatively simple.  But now, most factions have 4-5 x the choices in each category as they did originally.  So, I believe Privateer Press is conservative with new releases because of how volatile the game balance can be.  I for one appreciate a cautious approach at this point.

Second, as diligent as Privateer Press is to avoid balance issues, new releases are often used to address already-existing problems.  Take the release of Colossals as an example.  Prior to said release, Cygnar was consistently under-performing other factions in competitive play.  You would have been hard pressed to find tournament-worthy Cygnar lists that made anyone worry.  So, it was a natural remedy to provide Cygnar with a relatively powerful colossal.  Enter the Stormwall, who is clearly better than comparable options in this category.  While the Judicator, Conquest, Kraken, and Hyperion are fine warjacks, none of them quite measure up to the firepower and versatility of a Stormwall and its lightning pods.  Some people have used this last point as their proof:  ‘The Stormwall is soooo much better than the other Colossals’, they complain.  Damn right it is, and I would bet money that was on purpose.  Cygnar needed the boost.  Deal with it.

Finally, there are no greater experts on model decisions than the game designers at Privateer Press.  While we might think ourselves the experts, we have a sliver of the perspective that D.C., Jason Soles, Will Schick and company bring.  This is their job; this is what they do.  None of us have any idea how much play testing goes into these models before they even hit the external playtesters, and how many iterations are done once those testers are involved.  Furthermore, PiP staff have the added perspective of the models queued up for release for the next several years.  Let me reiterate that:  PiP is releasing models to us today while attempting to balance those models in the context of the game two years out.  There is no way any of us can know what is coming down the pipe, and we need to respect the perspective PiP has.  For example, many Legion players howled when the Archangel was released.  ‘It is just speed 6’, they whimpered,  ‘That makes it the slowest gargantuan’.  But then a few months later we see the stats for Lylyth3 and realize that PiP knew about the presence of Escort in her spell list.  They were balancing that gargantuan against a warlock we didn’t even know about.

While these are several reasons I think we should avoid complaining about models, the largest is this.  As a Press Ganger, I have introduced several players to the game.  These players’ opinions are often shaped by those of more experienced, and vocal, players.  Every time we complain about a model, a faction, a release, etc, we threaten to turn away these and other new players.  One of the biggest goals we should have is growing our player base, and such complaining doesn’t help us at all.  At the end of the day, complaining about new models doesn’t contribute to the game in any way, period.

Keep that in mind next time you think you have the game figured out better than its creators.  I understand how it feels to disappointed, but let’s try and keep it in perspective.

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2 responses to “On Criticizing Models

  1. This, in all honesty, is the most annoying thing about the WM community. If it isn’t the BEST THING EVER then it is clearly the worst thing ever.

    It’s like how there are only 5 star reviews or 1 star reviews when the public is allowed to rate things.

    • Agreed. I don’t think people think about how bad it would be, for the game, if every new model was as groundbreaking as people seem to want. Some models are great, some as so-so, and that has to be true for new models as well.

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