I am well known in the local gaming circles as being someone who likes variety in their gaming. I love the thrill of the new model, faction, tactic, etc.
Yes, there are some styles I will generally gravitate to, some aesthetics I will prefer. But overall, I just love to game. And I want to try out everything I can while gaming. Mostly as an exercise for myself, to clarify in my own mind why I need variety in my gaming, I figured I would talk about some of the benefits and drawbacks behind playing a lot of different factions.
1. Breadth of Knowledge
Because I have played most factions at least nominally (sans Trolls and Minions, I have played at least one game as every faction at some point in MK2), I am able to get a gauge for a model very quickly, even if I haven’t played it personally. This breadth helps when facing newly released models, seldom played models, or just a faction style I am not used to seeing.
As I mentioned earlier, I tend to gravitate towards certain play styles – attrition and Rube Goldberg machines being my flavors of choice. However it is easy to get into a rut when playing only one type of style, especially when doing it within one faction. There are only so many ways I can attrition within Skorne, for example, and Convergence of Cyriss has obvious limitations in choices.
By being able to switch between factions, I don’t tend to get bored very quickly. It also means that I am forced to try and play in different styles, which is challenging and enjoyable for me.
Because of my Press Ganger status, I am often asked to help new players who are just entering the hobby. I like being able to give them some basic advice on a faction, even if it isn’t a preferred faction for myself. If I have played that faction on the table, even if only a few times, it makes it much easier to talk about the key pieces of a faction, and what to avoid when first picking up the faction.
1. Depth of Knowledge
Because I am switching somewhat consistently between factions, I don’t tend to have as deep of an understanding of a faction’s tricks and tactics while playing them. This means some of the more subtle or edge-case scenarios I will sometimes miss, whereas someone who specializes in a single faction would see it, and likely have used it.
I love to play games, but unfortunately my time has a premium on it anymore. This means I only get a few games a week on a good week (2-3 is on the high end right now). So switching factions can make it so that I don’t actually get through everything I wanted to play in a faction before a new shiny comes along.
3. Competitive Edge
Related to #1 in the cons, but I often feel that I lose some of my edge when playing competitively when I don’t stay focused on one faction. This is expected – the best way to get good at a faction is to play a LOT of games as that faction. Given my lack of desire to play at a competitive level right now (and knowing my own personal time constraints) this isn’t as large of an issue for me, but certainly could be for others.
This can, of course, be mitigated by playing more games during a single week, which leads us back to con #2, but in general people have a finite amount of gaming time.
What Does it Mean?
What does this mean for others around me? Not much, except that they generally expect I won’t stick with a faction for very long, especially now that I have playable amounts of many of the factions.
If you have faction envy, and like to hop around to different factions, maybe this can help you figure out what it is you enjoy by hopping factions. It is the newness? The variety? The new tricks to learn? Breaking up the monotony? Or just because you like different things depending mood? All are valid (as are many other reasons).
For those who have found one faction they love, and want to stick to it, more power to you! Some of the best Warmachine/Hordes players in the world do exactly that. Some people like to perfect one thing to the exclusion of others. This is a very good trait to have, and in gaming it can make you an absolute powerhouse. But, if you find yourself thinking “man, I love Trolls, but I really like the way Protectorate runs their ‘jacks” then maybe it is time to branch out to just … ONE more faction. It couldn’t hurt, could it?