Insider 12-21-2016

Dear Players of WARMACHINE & HORDES,

Today we are publishing the highly anticipated WARMACHINE & HORDES errata document, along with several announcements concerning some progressive and exciting innovations to the way in which we develop and publish these games. While we are not pleased with ourselves over the necessity to readdress rules so soon after their original publication, the effort to correct our mistakes has illuminated the need for a different approach to the way in which we collect and analyze data as well as how we communicate changes in the rules to the players of WARMACHINE & HORDES. Some of these modifications to our process have been looming on the horizon, though we had expected to take more time to implement them. But over the past three months, we have come to the conclusion that there is no time like the present to adapt and evolve.

This errata update represents our best effort to address the most widespread balance and model interaction issues in the new edition rules. (Note: Skorne errata to follow within a few weeks. Please see the FAQ for more info.) It has been largely informed by community feedback and interaction, but as the publisher we are ultimately in the position of having to make the final decision on what course to take. While some issues have consensus among the community at large, there are still differing opinions on specific points, and not everyone will agree on every single decision. That is the nature of a community of people who are passionate about a common interest. Although we strive to meet the approval of as many of our players as possible we also know that, as with any complex tabletop game, there will always be some disagreement over the rules of WARMACHINE & HORDES. But this does not mean that it cannot still be the best game experience on the tabletop.

Privateer Press remains committed to the ongoing development and refinement of WARMACHINE & HORDES, with the goal of providing the absolute best miniatures gaming experience whether your primary interest is competitive play, casual play, or simply enjoying the hobby. As always, we will continue to pour our effort into improving the methodology of our development and production in pursuit of delivering the highest-quality product. Our desire is to provide our players the confidence that their models will continue to be worthy of the time, talent, and money they invest in them. Where we have fallen short of this goal, we have learned how to do better, and we will continue to spare no effort in addressing any issue we feel undermines the game experience for our players or our ultimate vision for WARMACHINE & HORDES.

Part of what makes this game compelling is the layered complexity that allows for discovery and creative strategy. This is also what makes it difficult to perfect the game, for the ever-expanding, living nature of the game introduces a constant stream of new variables into the environment, and the potential outcomes are sometimes beyond our resources to predict. The WARMACHINE & HORDES community has unparalleled passion for the games they play, however, and is attracted to the experience in part because of these complexities and the exciting opportunities they offer. While we have always striven to deliver the game that our players want to play, and while we have always valued and incorporated community feedback into our development, after nearly fifteen years of growing both the game and the community around it we have come to recognize that the two are inseparable: the quality of the game experience is intrinsically dependent on the feedback of our community.

Instead of isolating ourselves as the publishers and developers of the game, we have decided to truly embrace our community in the continuing development of WARMACHINE & HORDES and revise our game development process to include community collaboration at its core.

Many years ago, when developing the Mk II editions of WARMACHINE & HORDES, we conducted a public field test of the rules prior to publication. The experience was overwhelming and difficult, and while our community waited for the verdict on the models they had playtested, we observed a lull in our business that ended only once the final product was released. When we approached the new editions, now expanded with six years of development since the release of Mk II, the prospect of conducting a similar field test was too daunting, and we also felt confident in the new directions we were taking the game. In hindsight, we wish we had found a different way to tackle the massive development process of the new editions that incorporated community feedback along the way, for while we still believe we made great strides in elevating the game experience, enough mistakes got past us to cause consternation. So going forward, we’re going to do things differently and embrace what made Mk II so successful out of the gate.

Beginning March 1, 2017, we will launch the first public field test as part of our new Community Integrated Development initiative, beginning with the new HORDES Faction slated to release in July. From then on, we will be conducting public field tests of all new model rules for all future releases. Each field test will last approximately four to six weeks, depending on the volume of content to be tested, and each cycle will occur around three to four months prior to the release of the models. This time frame will provide our internal development team sufficient time to work on the new rules while also minimizing the gap between field testing and release dates. During the field tests, our game developers will be in contact with participants to collect data and discuss adjustments and revisions. Once the field test closes, our developers will use that community feedback to make the final changes to model rules.

Our goals with this initiative are to make sure all released models have undergone a vastly more robust cycle of playtesting and vetting and that the fidelity of the rules will meet the exacting standards of our community. In short, we hope to do away with errata. But we also know that evolution is a cornerstone of our ethos, and as new content is introduced into the meta, as a community we will make new discoveries that lead to new changes, and that also requires a fundamental shift in how we produce and deliver products.

In order to execute this bold plan and achieve the goal of a smooth and balanced meta, as a community we must be willing to accept that when something doesn’t work, we’re going to need to change it so that it does. It is clear to us now that a major barrier to achieving the desired state of universal game balance is the nature of the printed product. When we commit to a final decision in print and that choice is later found to be incorrect or problematic, the only solution is to publish the dreaded errata, which undermines the integrity of the printed product and necessitates printing replacements for components used during gameplay. By contrast, the video game industry has long enjoyed the advantage of being able to digitally patch software due to the absence of a physical product. A video game can be continually expanded and updated to maintain the balance and integrity of the game experience. It is that flexibility we want to bring to WARMACHINE & HORDES and to our community.

What we love about miniatures games is that there is a physical component; it’s what draws many of us to the tabletop in the first place. We also know that players invest their time and money into the models, and we’re committed to protecting that investment. Unfortunately, when rules are associated with a model, the perceived value of the model is affected by its performance on the tabletop based on those rules. If the rules fail to stand up to scrutiny, then the model itself is condemned. But by moving away from rules printed on paper and embracing the technology that will allow us to deliver and update rules digitally, we can maintain a gaming experience on the tabletop that is as up to date and balanced as any video game.

To achieve this result, we need to make two significant changes to the way we publish products. First, we will stop printing model rules and stats in books. The long lead times for layout, proofing, printing, and shipping are counterproductive to the idea of involving our community in the field testing of models that will be available a short time later. Separating model rules from books allows us to deliver relevant print materials alongside related models while closing the gap between the field tests and the model releases. We have also learned over time that books are seen by our community as the least efficient resource for communicating game rules. After the remaining Command Book releases, our Force books will focus on the in-depth exploration of the featured Faction’s themes. Our efforts will go into developing the books as an immersive experience in the Iron Kingdoms setting as well as offering more robust hobby resources. Game content will be included in the form of theme forces and engaging scenarios that highlight innovative ways to play WARMACHINE & HORDES, but the model rules traditionally found in our books will no longer be present. We hope the players who care about the background, characters, and conflicts of the WARMACHINE & HORDES setting will view the Force books as an ever-expanding library of content that deepens their understanding of the different Factions, their strategies and methodologies, and the world they inhabit. For us at Privateer, creating the world and the stories within it has always been just as important as developing the rules of the game, and uncoupling the conceptual content from the rules development will give more breathing room to both.

The second significant change to the way we deliver products is that stat cards will no longer be included with most WARMACHINE & HORDES models. Packing cards with all products is not compatible with the goal of creating a game environment that can be maintained at the speed of modern digital content delivery. As with books, the printing and packing of cards increases the time between the field tests and the delivery of models. Moreover, our data suggests most of our players use the War Room mobile app for card collecting, army building, and game play, and War Room does allow us to maintain the game rules at digital speeds. We realize that not everyone has a mobile device suitable for the app or even necessarily wants to use War Room as a reference tool, so we will also be providing our entire stat card library online as downloadable, printable PDFs for free. And for those who prefer good old-fashioned card stock, we will make the cards available through a print-on-demand service for a nominal cost.

The PDFs and print-on-demand cards will be managed and updated alongside War Room so that all of the avenues that deliver the model rules for WARMACHINE & HORDES will be consistent and up to date, with clear version identifiers. Cards will still be available in certain products, such as starter boxes, and we do plan to use cards in organized play events and special promotions. But by removing cards from nearly all products we can ensure that no product ever sits on the shelf containing out-of-date information and that improvements to the WARMACHINE & HORDES meta can be disseminated as quickly as the files for War Room, the online PDFs, and our print-on-demand outlets can be updated.

We are hardly the first company to realize the restrictions of print or to embrace the digital information age; indeed, we may have come to it a little late. Nor is the idea of beta-testing a gaming product novel, even for tabletop products. What we have realized is that the best possible version of WARMACHINE & HORDES lies at the intersection of directly integrating our community into our development process and leveraging the speed and flexibility of digitally delivered information. And we’re going all-in.

We thank you for your patience. We thank you for your support. We look forward to making WARMACHINE & HORDES the best possible tabletop gaming experience, not just for you but also with you.

Matthew D. Wilson
Chief Creative Officer
Privateer Press, Inc.

Link to FAQ
Link to our Developer's Notes
Link to Errata PDF
Link to Updated Cards