I regularly see posts about faction hopping, pewtercrack addiction, people complaining about how they can't stick one faction long enough, the game is too complicated, they have to eat ramen noodles every day, got kicked out of their house for not paying their rent, have loansharks hounding them for missed payments and so on. Well, maybe not that regularly, but I have seen some.
I think faction whorism is all a matter of perspective and asking yourself what you really want out of this game: do you want a sense of completion from collecting everything? Do you want to spent time painting and modelling lots of small projects? Do you want to play one of the best and tightest strategic miniature games on the market? Do you want to have an opportunity to drink and whine about how broken Molik Karn is? Do you want to throw money away somewhere to take your mind off the fact that the housing market and costs of living in your city are massively over-inflated and you cannot afford anything anyway? These are all important questions if you want to enjoy pewtercrack while still maintaining a healthy financial status.
My faction history in this game
I started playing about halfway between the release of Superiority and Mk1 Remix. My first faction was Cygnar - I chose them because they seemed to have the most versatility and I liked the look of their Prime heavies the most out of the Big Four.
After playing a bit of Stryker, Caine and Darius, I became romantically attached to Kreoss2's art in Apotheosis. I sold all my Cygnar and bought a crapload of Menoth. I decided to play Kreoss2 with heaps of weaponmasters, and HR/Testament with soul abuse mechanics. But I still really sucked at the game since I liked taking warjacks, which were downright bad in Mk1. I then bought into Skorne, which I loved because they took ridiculous amounts of time to paint (I quite like painting - it's a relaxing way to spend time), had big elephants with cannons, and Death March was an insane spell.
Then Mk 2 Field Test came out. I didn't get to participate much in the Field Test as I was busy moving continents, but the period between the release of the FT and the release of the final WM document was easily the most fun I have had playing the game, even though Kreoss2 became even more boring to play (dunno how that could be done, but they did it).
Then the Hordes Playtest came out. Unlike the WM FT, this was an actual playtest, and it was clear that not all that much work had gone into updating the models and they were looking for design advice more than they were looking for feedback. This period was the least fun I had playing Warmahordes. I got burned out on my factions and sold my Protectorate and Skorne to pay for various life expenses, and bought some used Khador based around a heavily-playtested 35pt eButcher list I had been toying around with for months, and played for almost a year:
|The Most Interesting Warcaster in Immoren|
Min Demo Corps
Yuri the Axe
This list was incredibly fun and flexible to play at 35pts, but didn't scale very well when brought up to 50pts. I found that didn't really enjoy the 'competitive Khador' playstyle of the time, namely using faceroll high-def infantry to jam. So I stopped playing for a few months. I sold my Khador at a good price, and did other things. I kept in touch with people I played the game with, and the desire to hang out and play games once or twice a week brought me back into it. But this time around I consciously made decisions that would restrict my time, mental and financial investment in the game.
The point I am making is that I have spent what I would consider to be a good chunk of my disposable income and time on this game over the last 6 years, and I have learned a few lessons along the way. I've never really been willing to spend enough money to be really competitive, and I tend to choke at tournaments anyway which would make such an investment unwise. Despite this, I have been back in the game for nearly a year, and sticking solely with the one crappiest, most incomplete faction in the game, and doing alright.
1 - Calculate $ per game
This is bound to shock and/or depress a lot of people - total up all $ spent on the game including models, paint tools, modelling tools, cases, card sleeves, etc. and divide that number by total games played. Scary stuff. Almost enough to make one consider cheaper alternatives, like Class A drugs.
An example in my case:
Minion models = $400 (Minion models only)
Case + foam = $15 (plastic toolbox + foam from a mattress factory)
Paint + modelling = $100 (accumulated over decades of wargaming, but as an approximation)
Gaming tools = $50 (card sleeves, measuring tape, templates, tokens, etc.)
Games per month = 9 (average 2 games a week + tournaments)
Months of Minionhood = 10
= 90 games
550 / 90 = $6.1 per game.
Now imagine if I hadn't been playing almost the exact same list for almost a year. I would suspect the number would be closer to $35-40 per game for the average Warmachine player. I know that would be my number in Mk1.
|How hobbies often appear in restrospect|
2 - Only buy new models once all your other models are painted and based
Painting, basing and modelling take up a lot of time. For me, the amount of time I invest in preparing and painting models is almost as important as the time I spend playing the game in terms of my investment. I find it's a good creative way relax in the evenings while watching TV, listening to music or podcasts.
Because it takes up so much time to do a good job with painting, use that as a way to slow down your pewtercrack addiction.
3 - Playtest stuff 3+ times before buying
A lot of times you end up buying models that suck balls and either sit on the shelf looking shiny or frustrate you whenever you do put them on the table. An easy way to avoid this is to proxy or borrow some models to playtest potential additions to your army - sometimes things that look really sweet on paper should stay on paper (I'm looking at you, Assault Kommandos!). Sometimes you just won't like playing a certain style that a unit or warcaster entails.
|SUCH AWESOME ART! MUST BUY QUICK!|
Therefore - proxy, and save the heartache.
4 - Plan ahead - and set (reasonable) limits as to what you want to actually play
When I started playing Khador, I was all about eButcher. I wasn't really interested in playing anything else. Then I started to up my game a bit, expanding slowly into other casters (Vlads, Butcher1, Irusks..) and buying new models to fit with those casters. Then I came to realize that Khador has pretty huge gaps that need to be filled with mercs (Eyriss, Midwinter, Bokur...) and mercs that are too good to not play (Gorman, Alexia, Nyss...), then this caster fills in that caster's gaps, etc... And the slippery slope doesn't end until you've got almost every merc and Khador model in your arsenal.
One of the reasons I picked Minions for my faction was that it was the smallest and most limited "faction" available at the time*. It is so limited that you can in fact only really play half of it at any given time, and I think it is a safe bet to say most people who play Minions play Pigs or Gators but not both. The downside is you have very few new releases (Shamblers - coming at you in Oct/Nov/Dec 2013!), but the upside is you don't have to buy too much to be the best you can be within those limits. Unless you decide you want to play Skorne a.k.a. 'Minions 2.0' of course.
You don't have to pick only one faction and stick with that - maybe your boundaries are to put together two complete compete 50pt Circle Orboros lists, each with a 15pt specialists sideboard, play that for a year, then move on to another two 50pts lists + sideboard in Mercs next year. Then another faction the year after. One year is a long time - about the release schedule from one WM expansion to the next.
5 - Study your enemies
New stuff comes out all the time. Instead of thinking 'wow, it'd be awesome to play that!' think 'wow, it'd be awesome to kill that!'. This game has so much design and tactical depth which results in an almost infinite number of possible tabletop interactions and tactics - even when you're basically playing the same list every week. Get the books, read them, write lists to figure out how things work and so on. But keep it platonic.
6 - Budget!
This ties in well with the previous points - if you put aside a small amount of money each month (say enough to buy a solo or two + a full unit), then you can slow grow your army while playing and painting it up and really learning how things work. A lot of new players want to rush in and jump to 50pt games straight away, which I think is a mistake. You really need to take your time if you want to get the best results. The initial investment to 25 will probably take up a couple of months out of your budget, but is necessary and gives you time to really learn the basics before delving deeper into the muck.
7 - Focus on other things - take breaks, other hobbies, save up for a holiday or a guitar.
Hell, you can even play DotA 8 hours a day if you want to! If you can compare your time and money investment in Warmachine with other stuff you could be doing and buying, it gives you a good perspective of opportunity cost, and hopefully makes your decisions in the greater Warmahordes hobby appear more valuable.
8 - WWJVMD
Probably the #1 Warmahordes player in the US has been playing only one faction for years. It is probably the best faction in the game without eLich, but it has its own weaknesses and matchup problems.
WWJVMD? Play a single faction and learn it back to front, then crush his enemies, see them driven before him, and blight all their women to use as warlocks.
* This was pre-CoC, and Retribution was not an option because elves are the scum of the universe and their jacks are total ass to paint.