Friday, April 8, 2011

From 40K to MERCS

In my opinion, the biggest problem with GW Wargames

I was initially attracted to 40K because it's the dominant sci-fi miniatures wargame (I'm totally into sci-fi miniatures, although I prefer fantasy novels/movies to sci-fi... go figure) and there are lots of players in my area, with a large online community for support. So after trying my hand at 40K, I've decided there are fundamental elements to game that do not suit my lifestyle. This statement is in no way derogatory towards 40K or it's players - it's a great game and the people I've had the pleasure of gaming/hobbying with over the past year are awesome. 40K is just not the game for me.

The biggest factors for me are the costs - both the financial cost, and the time spent getting an army ready for the tabletop. The gift of hindsight grants me the ability to assess my protocol when it comes to my 40K miniature wargaming. It goes something like this:
  1. Browsing through various forums and websites eventually leads to: "Wow, those look sweet! Gotta get me some of those!"
  2. This is followed by online research as to the playstyle of the army, searching through forums for tactica and sample army lists (this probably takes a week for me - between full-time work and family commitments).
  3. Then it's time to buy the army in bulk, in order to save on some of the financial costs, as shipping from the UK isn't cheap. So that'll probably be a AU$250 cash sink right there for the miniatures.
  4. Waiting for the miniatures to arrive. Coming from the UK, where it is significantly cheaper than buying from local retailers (this takes 3-4 weeks from the UK to Sydney, Australia). During this time my wandering eye usually piques my curiosity, and is likely that this entire protocol will trigger again from step 1 - resulting in a recursive loop of fail. This explains why I have four half-painted 40K armies sitting on my shelves and in boxes.
  5. The minis arrive! I usually aim to paint one mini a day, which means in an army with on average 50+ minis - this takes me well over a month, if not two. During this painting process I tend to get bored of the repetition, it is again entirely likely possible for step 1 to occur again - hence triggering more recursive fail.
  6. The army has been painted/based and is tabletop ready! Now, to get to the tabletop, I need an opponent and a venue (I don't have table big enough at home) - so it's off to the local gaming club! They meet once a fortnight, and should life-commitments take priority, it becomes entirely possible that I'll only get to play once a month. Once I'm on the table, the whole process seems like a really big anti-climax - which is probably completely my fault for having unrealistic expectations from the 3-4 months it took me to get to the table. I guess a lot of people in the hobby gain most of their enjoyment out of painting and preparing the army, as well as gaming with them. While I do derive a lot of enjoyment out of painting, with so many figures to paint, army painting really does take the joy out of it.
After a year of spending lots of time and money, I reassessed the hobby and decided it was time for a change. I guess my age is showing, and with full-time work and my family I just can't commit to army wargaming. So I ventured out into the world of skirmish wargaming. I thought that Skirmish wargames would solve a lot of the problems I had with 40K - the lower model counts meant that I could still paint and play, but with significantly less of the costs.
GW games definitely dominate the wargames around here, so I needed to find skirmish games that still had a following as I would still want a community to game with.
The first wargames I looked into were Warmachine/Hordes and Malifaux, as they seemed to have the largest followings in my area.  I bought some Warmachine models, but didn't really enjoy painting them. They're cool but steampunk didn't have a place in my heart that sci-fi would. I got a Maulifaux starter box, which I realised too late would have the same result as the Warmachine. I looked at the Inifinity models, and felt nothing. They're sci-fi, and there's nothing wrong with them, but they just didn't do it for me.

Then I came across MERCS ( Apparently, a rulebook had just come out and there was a small community growing in the States. One look at the models and I was drawn in - they just look fantastic.

The flagship MERCS squad - CCC Yellowjackets
KemVar squad

Reading the fluff was refreshing too - it wasn't the dark, grim future of 40K, but a relatively bright and properous future (even though it's one dominated by corporate greed). A bit of research into the game, and I found a LOT of my issues with 40K would be solved:
  • Low model count, which means a playable force would be significantly cheaper (around AU$60 for 5 models + game cards) and take a much shorter time to paint and get on the table.
  • I found a local retailer that sells the MERCS line at VERY competitive prices. This means no need for huge orders to save on postage, and postage time is 3 days instead of 3 weeks.
  • Encourages collecting multiple armies - with only 5-6 miniatures per faction, I could collect all the factions and it would still cost less than a 40K army, and also take less time to paint.
  • The games are played on a 2'x3' table - something I could host at my place, meaning I wouldn't need to wait for fortnightly club meets and arrange games according to my schedule.
  • Games are shorter, 60-90 minutes as opposed to the huge 3 hour affairs 40K is. This makes it easier to squeeze in a game after work or before heading out for the night. 
    After reading reviews, it seems the gameplay is overall easier than 40K, which has a lot of rules. This suits what I'm looking for in wargaming - a more casual game over a beer with mates :) This is what I want to get out of my hobby - something that suits casual players, with fun gameplay and that I can fit into my ever-decreasing free-time. Between the awesome models, and the relatively simple ruleset (or so I've read), I might even be able to get my non-wargaming mates into the game, and (fingers-crossed) the wife.

    So that leaves me with my ideal skirmish wargame, but without any other players in my area! I'm hoping that MERCS takes off around here - there have been a few threads here and there on local wargaming forums, and seeing as this a new wargame still heavily based in the States I'll have to wait and see how it pans out.

     I'm considering trying to establish a community here for MERCS myself, but seeing as I haven't even read the rulebook yet - that's something that I'll consider later. Worst case scenario, I'll have a bunch of sweet models sitting on my shelves, which I will thoroughly enjoy painting.

    Artwork from the MERCS website

    Sync out.

    1 comment:

    1. You are lucky you got out of GW stuff so fast. Took me years of trying, stopping, trying, failing, stopping to finally break my addiction. It was easier to quit smoking.