Monday, September 15, 2014

Impressions on Warmachine: Tactics

About a year ago, I backed the Kickstarter for Warmachine: Tactics. It was pretty exciting to see it fully fund in less than a day. In fact, I believe it may have funded faster than Reaper's last Bones release. Either way, it was exciting to see a game that I was interested in, since Privateer Press' initial attempt was kind of lame. A lot of people I know went in for beta access, and many of the other bells and whistles. I was a bit more conservative, and opted for the art work, and alternative color scheme...because the 5th Border Legion is the shizz. The game was slated for release in August 2014, so I kind of forgot about it, especially since I didn't opt for beta access.

Fast-forward to this summer, and the announcement of beta access. I was excited because I knew the game was right around the corner. Then I heard that there would be a slight delay. I can live with that, since I'd rather have a finished product that was delayed, than an on-time product that sucks. However, Privateer Press announced that those who backed the project through Kickstarter, but didn't get beta access would get "Backer Access." Sort of a beta-lite?

I downloaded it, and jumped right into a PvP game against a friend (Khador vs Cryx). I was immediately impressed with the graphics. While not 100% perfect, the detail is still really good. I also loved the camera. It is very easy to use, and allows you to zoom in for all of the individual action, or out to take in the grand scale of a game. I was slightly disappointed that I could only choose Sorscha from the start. No offense to her, because she's a very good warcaster, but I prefer a more melee-centric warcaster. Still, she offered an interesting counter to my opponent's choice of Deneghra.

My initial warjack options were...interesting. I had the choice of a Juggernaut and a Marauder. I have honestly never used my Marauder in the tabletop game. In fact, it's not even assembled. Yes, people do seem to be a fan of it. I still prefer a Juggernaut or a Berserker hands down. I took a Juggernaut and a Marauder for the first game though. I planned on using the Marauder to block LOS, and to be a shield for Sorscha. I then turned my attention to infantry "units." Each character/warrior in the game is considered a "unit." It's not something I'm a fan of, because spells that affect a unit will only benefit/hinder a single character. I know it's a limitation of translating a tabletop game to a video game format, but it is still a little frustrating. Although, to compensate, units have some innate abilities that they would only receive through unit/weapon attachments in the tabletop version. For example, a Winter Guard unit has the option of a normal ranged attack, or the special "grape shot." In the tabletop version, they would only have the option of grape shot with a Winter Guard Standard Bearer. So, it's a weird trade-off, but it seems to work.

The game plays like a standard turn-based tactic game. In this, it's similar to the tabletop. Dice rolls are handled automatically. I'm sure that may piss off the purists, but I enjoyed it. Spells look really, really nice. Sorscha's Fog of War, and her feat were especially well done. I noticed a few bugs where defeated/dead characters disappeared from the game, but seemed to remain in other matches. I reported those bug, and I assume others have as well, so it shouldn't make it into the final version. I was bothered by the lack of chat options. Relying on Steam's in-game chat is frustrating, because I have to pause the game in order to interact. While it would be nice to have an integrated voice-chat option, I'd settle for text-based. Hell, even pre-scripted like in Hearthstone. I see the game as a great way to introduce people to the tabletop experience, but I can't do that if I can't communicate with them.

Overall, the game was fun. There are a few issues here and there, but many of them will be resolved as development on the game wraps up. For the others, it's easy to run a voice-chat server, and just invite an opponent into it. I'm eagerly anticipating the game's release, along with additional factions...and the eventual Hordes expansion.