Tuesday, March 8, 2011


I was able to play another game with Minute last week (I won this time, but we had a few errors in rules that we realized after the fact).  I do not really intend to focus very much on the content of that game.  What I do want to talk about is strategy.  Our 25-pt game took an embarrassingly long amount of time (measured in hours).   A number of factors could have contributed to this (I was not feeling well that day and had not eaten in many hours), but the greatest factor I feel was my lack of strategy.

As a quick aside, I would like to (re)define strategy and tactics in the context of a game of Warmachine.  In the traditional military sense, the actions taken during a game of Warmachine is likely to be considered entirely tactical; however, that is not to say that the game is without strategy.  Strategy is what you thought about when deciding what elements to include in your army and how you generally intend to utilize them.  Tactics is then the turn-by-turn choices you make.

To me, every turn of Warmachine is an optimization problem where the variables are all of the possible actions my models can take with a goal to maximize my expectation of causing hurt to my opponent (while minimizing the risk of me losing the game on the following turn).  The problem with this is that many-variable optimization is prohibitively expensive to solve absolutely so is usually solved efficiently by heuristics.  For me, this is where strategy comes in to play.  Strategy is the types of scenarios I have considered previously and planned for.  Thinking about and preparing a strategy for my army should be a critical component in creating my army list.  My strategic plan should be my heuristic for deciding what actions to take and in what order to achieve my goal: To lay a serious beating down on my opponent (as Asmo might say).

Now this is where I return to talking about the small game that took a very long time.  I lacked strategy.  For instance, I had to think for too long about my deployment (something that should be relatively automatic for someone comfortable with their army list), but that was the smallest of my problems.  While I felt I was relatively familiar with the abilities on all of my models, I was woefully under prepared to make decisions quickly about how to apply those abilities.  If my opponent had not been so generous in letting me spend quantities of time making up my mind throughout the game, the outcome would have likely been different.

So where does this leave me.  First, I feel I need to reread the rules for the whole game system now having finally played 3 games.  Second, I need to become better acquainted with the abilities of the models I own and definitely be very comfortable with the ones I intend to include in an army list.  And lastly, I need to make it a requirement of myself that whenever I make an army list that I also devise (and write down) a strategy for playing that army to include deployment, potential weaknesses (specific to particular models once I have more experience playing), notes on any tricky or difficult to remember rules concerning abilities, and lastly a plan concerning under what conditions I am willing to take particular actions during a game.  What I mean by this last point is that I need to consider the statistical analysis concerning particular actions prior to playing the game.  For example, the full range of DEF and ARM values I can expect to encounter is actually relatively small, so I need to decide a priori what DEF/ARM values I am unwilling to waste shots firing at for a given model so that I can make better snap decisions.  Doing all of these things (in addition to just playing more often), I hope to significantly speed up the rate at which I play a game of Warmachine.

To anyone reading, feel free to provide suggestions to speeding up game play or if you completely disagree with my assessment of strategy in the context of Warmachine, I suggest you provide alternatives so that we can grow a discussion on the issue.


  1. A good post man! Very good points.

    For speeding up the actual play, I think your overall strategy here will certainly help you, but I think the thing that helped me the most, when starting out, was something done during the games.

    Sure, spend the time on your opponent's turn figuring out what you want to do, and even a few seconds to decide what to do at the beginning of your turn, but after that- just play :). Even if you don't make an optimum move, or hell, even a good one, you'll learn. You don't need to worry overly much about the numbers- after a few games you'll KNOW what to do without having to worry about the math behind it. Many of my early games were spent making bonehead moves in the interest of 'playing like I have a pair', and now, although I'll still make mistakes, I can quickly determine what my guys' best choices are without having to spend much time deliberating on it. All those times I sent Deneghra charging into Parasited Ironclads. Ugh.

    For the most part, none of us are overly competitive- everyone loves to win, of course, but we don't run the 'power armies' (except for my Cryx ;) ) or even play in tournaments. Use the chances playing against us softer guys to try out some random things. You'll enjoy it, and the game will go quick enough that you could just play again.

    Besides, unlike in real war, there's no consequence to making a mistake. Pewter soldiers don't bleed :).

  2. My strategy so far has done well for me:

    1. Move guys around.
    2. ???
    3. Profit

  3. BK: I almost sure that you have never profited off of Warmachine =p.

  4. Sure he has- we always have to bribe him to get him to actually play ;)