Category Archives: Warmachine

Conventions in Gaming – Army Lists


This post has been blowing around in my head for a while. I’ve known that I wanted to continue through the various aspects of tabletop gaming under the “Conventions in Gaming” moniker as I believe that we can gain valuable insight into the things we take for granted and look at ways to make our games more interesting or perhaps just to see something in a new light. However, the structure to this post has eluded me for the past couple weeks so we’ll see how this goes.

I am sure we have all been there, pad of paper, calculator, rulebook/army book spread out over the table crunching numbers to try and come up with a list that is full of synergy as well as butt-whoopin’ awesomeness. Assigning costs to models has long been an established way of making sure that a fight can be “balanced.” I am using quote marks there because of the general cries that go up around the Internet when something new comes out that means that you can come up with an unstoppable force that seems way too powerful against a normally balanced all-comers force. Yes, I do play Chaos Daemons and no I have not taken an all Tzeentch army or Skulltaker. Army lists provide a way for us to develop forces and in many ways will determine the purchases we make as there are a number of factors that can influence how we build our armies.

For instance, some people will start off picking armies through the models that they like. We’ve all been there, a company comes out with a model that is 17 kinds of awesome, we have to have it, yet, when the rules are read, or it is put onto the battlefield it stinks the place up. Others will pore over the stats and rules for an army and try to squeeze those models into a list of the appropriate value. Some people may even take a mix of both methods. Different companies also release to us the means by which we can mould our forces in differing ways. For instance, Games Workshop has gone down the route of releasing a main rulesbook and then you have to buy a separate Army Book to be able to use your force in the game. Privateer Press when Warmachine and Hordes came out released all the information for their models in the rulebook itself, you didn’t have to buy another book to build a force to put on the table, they then released expansions to the main rules that added in new ones but also released new units for each faction. With the development of Mk 2 they are actually bringing out rulebooks a la GW but after that initial release it’ll be back to the original format of new releases being covered in expansion books. Uncharted Seas and Malifaux both contain all the details for their respective forces within the main rulebook. I’ll give a shout out to Spartan Games (makers of Uncharted Seas) here because the new fleets and rules they release for free on their website. Kudos to them for making things available so readily.

There are alternatives to the pen and paper approach, there are various pieces of software you can download to make the process easier. Wolf’s Lair’s Army Builder is a decent program (you have to pay for it) that allows you to create army lists for loads of games and there is an active community that creates the files that allow you to build the armies for certain games. Then there are things like Armies of Immoren for the Iron Kingdoms worlds, it’s a free download that makes army building a little easier, I even have iBodger on my iPhone which allows me to make Warmachine lists wherever I am. I know there are people with Excel spreadsheets that they have set up for the express purpose of creating lists to play with.

Now, speaking more specifically about what happens with GW books there is a common misconception out there. With 40K or Warhammer there are established points limits that are the “ideal” game size, 1500pts for 40K and 2000pts for Warhammer. Yet, although the armies are supposedly balanced around that points values there is no way to perform a direct comparison between the value of a model in one force and that in another. For example, in the Warriors of Chaos book the standard Marauder is 4pts and is a bargain. I have heard complaints from Bretonnian players that their Man-at-Arms costs more than this for a much worse profile. While both are rank and file infantry they are different in terms of how they fit into the armies, Marauders are a lot more offensive than Men-at-Arms and once both armies are fully arrayed things should be balanced, but comparing points costs from one unit to another in a different army cannot be done, the points values are the cost to the army that they are for and are not meant to be taken in any way as a broad comparison of the value of that troop type. This is one of my pet peeves with GW stuff, when a new army book comes out people inevitably look at something and declare it to be undercosted because “I have to pay X for X.” It’s not a good argument.

There are also different ways of costing things. GW and Privateer use Points costs whereas Malifaux uses Soulstones and this offers a slightly different mechanic into the game. Working with points generally means you have a limit that you cannot go over. Personally I have spent much time trying to squeeze something into those last few points or having to make hard decisions about what to axe to fit into the agreed limit. With Malifaux you have a set number of soulstones to spend on recruiting your crew, any unspent stones go into your pool and allow you to Cheat Fate during the game, which I quite like, it gives you a small bonus in some ways if you do find yourself with something left over.

So, what is the point of this whole post? Well I suppose it is to try and get your thoughts about how you go about preparing a force for the tabletop. I know for our Uncharted Seas games at the minute we are just using the starter boxes however, we each actually have a second starter box each (hence my rolling out of a Broadside Reaper in our last game) that we can use to expand our fleets which will mean we start working to points limits rather than arbitrary collections. In the real world of course there are no careful balancing of forces and history is replete with heroic stands made by vastly outnumbered forces. However, there is nothing stopping us from actually creating our own battles based on these ideas. Just because we do actually have an army list doesn’t mean we can’t throw it away from time to time and just have a game purely for the fun of it. It can provide an interesting diversion to your usual scheduled games.

While we do rely on these things for the majority of the games we play, cutting ourselves loose may help to reinvigorate an otherwise stale gaming environment. I believe this is why things like Apocalypse have become so popular. As I said at the beginning I have struggled with this post for a couple weeks, knowing I wanted to discuss army lists but without knowing where it would take us. I hope this post has been of some benefit other than me pumping out 1300 words of nonsense.

Who knows what I’ll come out with next time?

Conventions in Gaming – The Female of the Species


This was always going to be something that came up, however, we may not be discussing what you think we are. I could also start by saying that all three authors here at 6 Inch Move are involved with members of the opposite sex, two of us being married for a number of years. My intent here today is not to discuss the abject look of horror that crosses most ladies faces if they have to step foot in their local Games Workshop while every face stares at them in confusion as to what this figure is that has invaded their sacrosanct domain. No, more about the way in which the female form is represented through various mediums in game terms. We’re going to touch on stereotypes for sure, it would be difficult not to considering the genre and the male bias that our hobby most definitely caters for.

As you are more than likely aware if you check out any of the plethora of Fantasy movies that came out during the 80s (to be honest, probably the only good things to come out of the 80s were a lot of sci-fi/fantasy movies) women are portrayed in one of only a couple of ways. These include; being draped over some (no doubt well paying) gent, a girl who has no idea of the outside world and is therefore completely dependant on the hero (normally she’ll end up naked at some point too) and the warrior women that can kick anybody’s butt and normally does it while half naked and without getting so much as a scratch on her. OK, I’ll admit that Conan doesn’t wear much but if you read Howard’s work it fits the background, although in most of the stories the chicks are the second type listed and they pretty much are all naked half the time.

You may notice a theme developing here, this is no doubt down to the fact that products in the Fantasy realm are normally aimed at the male half of the population and are also created in the majority by those men. Now, I’m not dumb enough to postulate that these characters fulfill the whims and lusts of the creators who have a lack of experience in dealing with the female half… I don’t think that’s it at all, even though we can all picture a stereotypical gamer locked in his parents basement fantasising about conquests with amazingly hot women. We’ve all been teenagers after all. Yet, being in my third decade upon God’s Earth I obviously have different sensibilities than when I was younger and still, even though I know a large portion of gamers exists these days that are not in their teens, many have even left the confines of parental subterranean domiciles, we find that a large proportion of models showing females are less protected than might otherwise be reasonably expected. Whether this is a mere continuation of something that has existed since gaming first crept from the fiery chasm whence it came or a deliberate design philosophy is not something I am in a position to declare, but in Fantasy in particular, this theme occurs again and again. I know of a great many companies that make astoundingly detailed models and yet when you get down to representations of women, well, they must spend a lot of the time a little on the chilly side. My wife tends to be cold when we set our central heating to “African Summer” so I can only imagine what these poor model ladies go through if their physiology matches that of my wife and other ladies I know.

In Sci-fi things get a little better. The Sisters of Battle for 40k are equipped in the same kind of armour that protects perennial GW favourites the Space Marines, but even here we have a unit of silk shrouded lunatic chainsaw-wielders in the form of the Sisters Repentia. Filling a stereotypical need? Maybe, the models are good but the rules suck so you don’t often see them. Privateer Presses Iron Kingdoms universe with its Steampunk theme also means that we get women who wear a little more, however, as anyone who plays Cryx knows, that doesn’t hold true for all factions. Most of the Cryxian Warcasters are a little less armoured than other factions and we even have a triumvirate of teenagers with side-boob capacity the envy of women twice their age.

Is it purely down to male flights of fancy that all these female figures are defined by a pretty standard set of guidelines. They are invariably thing with large chests, many of these bosoms on display as part of the model, sometimes even fully exposed rather than just a prodigious cleavage. Is there a need for it? I don’t think so, I am sure that sales of female figures would not dramatically decrease if we suddenly saw a reduction in the output of such things. Do we want to see fat chicks modelled? Well, probably not, we play in a stylised environment that is heavily male dominated. Male figures with wang all over the place would not be nearly as endearing to the female audience as busty beauties are to men. We use these games as an escape from our humdrum every day lives and therefore having scantily clad babes all over the place caters to the most base of male instincts. It’s amusing that a hobby that has matured over the years still sticks with those themes that may have piqued the interests of those of us who still play during those formative teenage years. Things probably haven’t changed to entice a new generation of players. It amuses me though that we can still stick to these things that inevitably draw criticism from other quarters regarding the portrayal of these characters. Now, it may be that women in the universes we play in are happy with their lot but if we want to encourage ladies to engage in our hobby and not feel objectified as soon as they step into a store perhaps we need to change how they are portrayed upon the tabletop?

THOSE models!


Yesterday afternoon before being carted away to the in-laws I got some time to sit down and assemble some of those models I’ve been Twittering about for what seems like an age. Kind of needed to at least make a start as it looks like this weekend is going to produce some gaming, not least of which is the Fantasy grudge-match between the Vampire Counts and my Daemons. I’ll be talking more of a concept in this post as well as providing specific examples, the reason behind this may get posted after things have appeared on Saturday as I don’t want to give away too much before the big day, so to speak.

Now, I’m sure everyone out there that has been involved in making models for their games is about to give one of those knowledgable bobs of the head confirming their consent to what I am about to speak about, you know what they are, THOSE models. These models you have glanced at, either in glossy magazines or on the pages of the geeky depths of the Intarwebz and declared that you must own it. Either due to its amazing quality of craftsmanship or its unbridled power on the tabletop. We all have models we really love and the sculptor obviously took his time when putting it together. However, when the manufacturer took decisions on how to break it down in order to be packaged and then assembled by you or I that person seems to have had an overwhelming case of the brain farts! I’ll give you a specific example as a starter for ten, the Tomb Kings Screaming Skull Catapult, in game terms it’s pretty evil and the model it decent too, however, trying to put that thrice-cursed model together is an exercise in futility. Now matter how much glue or green stuff you chuck at that thing you still need about four additional sets of hands to hold it together and it’s quite a substantial size of model,

I’ve also heard things about Mortenebra from Warmachine, she has loads of little spider legs that go (or don’t go as the case may be) around her base. Problem is that these things are tiny, therefore not conducive to being pinned and with a very small contact area for any glue to hold. I was assembling a new model over the weekend that fell into just this kind of category, not matter which way you choose to build it the pose and bulk of the model make it hard to hold together, this gets even worse when some of the parts are ill-fitting and are going to need a lot of green stuff later on to plug the holes before I get around to painting it. If the model looks good (or at least should when it’s finished) I find this adds even more frustration to the process of trying to get the damned thing to stick together.

I know lots of techniques, pinning, adding a small blob of greenstuff into the join, cleaning the parts first, scoring each side of the join to give the glue a better surface to grip to, but still, this thing almost got thrown across the living room. Bits fell off at various points even after vigorous attempts to get it to hold. What really gets my goat are joints where all the weight is at the other end of the piece, thus naturally the parts try to snap the bond you are trying to create, I just know that if this thing is unfortunate enough to ever have a brief relationship with the floor that I’ll be picking up the individual parts again even once I have filled in all the gaps with green putty. I thought therefore I’d add here my own list (in no particular order) of some of the most evil models I’ve ever had the misfortune of trying to assemble. Please feel free to comment and add your own;

  1. Any Warmachine Cryx spiderjack, those legs are evil and they don’t ever stick to their base.
  2. Witch Coven Egregore, not so much of a problem to put together but mine is no longer attached to the base as the whole ball is supported on a stick thin piece of bendy white metal.
  3. The aforementioned Screaming Skull Catapult
  4. The new contender from yesterday….
  5. Pink Horrors, one piece models that get incredibly annoying when they come with horns or extra arms that need attaching…
  6. Obliterators, stupidly fiddly little weapons that need gluing into their fists… &*¬£%!@* annoying I tell you.

I am sure there are others but these are the ones that stick out in my mind as the royal pains in the lower back!

Conventions in Gaming – Dice


From my history page it’s clear that I have grown up with Games Workshop, therefore this post will present a pretty clear bias to that fact, historical gaming isn’t my forte and I’m sure old man Servitob can chime in with some extra points once I’m done.

Classic board games and pretty much every tabletop war game I’ve seen all use dice. Varying quantities of dice to be exact. You can get by with a mere 6d6 if you’re playing Privateer Press games whereas in 40k you can easily end up rolling over a hundred. I remember reading a copy of White Dwarf where the author of an article describing the new War of the Ring game was using the fact that you got to roll an ill-fated Southampton built cast iron behemoth load of dice to decide combats. One of the things that can help you pick out closet gamers is the fact that, more than likely, there are various boxes of dice scattered around their house and the odd errant wanderer lodged under a TV cabinet of sofa.

So, why are dice used? Normally this is to add in an element of chance that exists in the real world, just because you line up a perfect head shot doesn’t take into account that at the last minute a random gust may take the bullet off target, or the mark may find some extra cover to protect themselves. Dice naturally represent the vagaries and random elements that can and do take place in normal real life activities (not really just talking about actual combat here, I have much more experience with the virtual kind and am thankful to not have had to experience it in real life). Yet some games let you roll way more than others, some people also seem to be unlucky at certain kinds of rolls. Personally I struggle with Instability tests with my Chaos Daemons and Power Klaw attacks from my Ork Nobs. Servitob has a reputation for unerring accuracy with a blast template too. While obviously the dice do not favour one person over another, we see patterns in the fate we receive. But surely, there can be other mechanics that we can use other than dice? I like dice and sometimes there is something sadistically satisfying as getting a full mob of Orks into combat and then rolling enough dice to reconstruct the Hanging Gardens of Babylon in 3d, however, is this the best way to do things or just an accepted part of our hobby?

We’ve already talked about how different games require different numbers of dice, I’m pretty certain that if there was a game where you just compared the stats of one thing to another¬† Top Trumps style, it’d be a pretty crummy and boring game (just like Top Trumps). This is why I’m so interested currently with Malifaux, it forgoes the use of dice and instead uses a pack of 54 cards, being a money making venture of course you can buy official faction themed Malifaux decks, but there are rules in the main book that cover using a normal deck of cards, you just need to have two Jokers in there as well. With cards you need a slightly different mechanic than with dice, but just as dice can be re-rolled due to certain rules, in Malifaux you get rules that allow you to add additional cards to a total as well as having a hand of cards that allow you to “Cheat Fate” by swapping the card you drew with one you possess in your Hand. With dice you’re completely at the whim of chance as to whether your re-roll is higher than the previous, but with the mechanic in Malifaux if you really need to cast that spell or win that combat, if you have the cards in your hand then you’re in a much better place to predict the outcome of the action.

I don’t know whether you can call it lazy game design that leads a lot of our games to rely on dice, after all, dice have been in use as games in their own right for millenia and now we use them to add that randomness to our games. Is being able to control things using cards better than the pure random chance of a dice roll? Well, that’ll be down to personal preference and I’m not leaning either way, it’s just nice that someone has come up with another way to play and I believe it to be a nice change of pace from the staple that I’ve seen over the past almost 20 years of war gaming.

As long as whatever system is developed is non-intrusive and doesn’t detract from the ebb and flow of a game I’m all for trying out something new. I’ve played dice games and I’d played card games. I’ve even played card games that have used dice, but I do think that while it’s easy to fall back on using dice as Malifaux demonstrates, using something a little “out of the box” can add an extra dimension to a game that makes it stand out against the ever increasing crowd.