Insider 04-18-2016

In the weeks leading up to what could easily be described as the biggest announcement in Privateer Press history last Monday, I’ve been thinking a lot about the art of bonsai. While this is partly because my wife and I are once again going to take the plunge and try our hand at this living art form, it’s also because I’ve realized how apt an analogy bonsai is for the upcoming new editions.

Mk II has experienced six years of steady and sometimes explosive growth. We’ve seen our amazing community of players grow exponentially; we’ve expanded the ways and opportunities people have to play and enjoy the games; and perhaps most important to the discussion of this Insider, we’ve seen a ton of new models, model types, and (by extension) rules added to the game.

While growth is undeniably a good thing because it keeps the game experience fresh and interesting, there comes a time when, if left unchecked, it overwhelms the desired vision. Therefore, there comes a point when, just as in the art of bonsai, you must bring out the clippers with an eye to reshaping the new growth in order to maintain and clarify the overall form of the tree.

In most cases, a simple trimming or reshaping of rules was all that was needed to make the game experience better and stronger. In HORDES, the rules for Frenzying were significantly simplified and yet, at the same time, brought back in line with the original intent of this risk/reward system. In the new edition, the Frenzy rules simply state that a frenzying warbeast shakes all effects that can be shaken, then charges the closest model and makes a single attack against that charge target, using its highest P+S attack. That’s it. No more long if/then chart to check against. Just shake, charge, and attack.

In other cases, we discovered whole branches of the tree no longer fit the ultimate vision we had for the shape of the games.

One significant pruning was the removal of model psychology from the games. While we had made significant changes to how psychology functioned and its overall impact on the game experience from Mk I to Mk II, we soon realized during the development of the new editions that model psychology really didn’t fit the vision we had for the tabletop experience and for the world of the Iron Kingdoms. By removing psychology entirely, we were able to significantly reduce the total volume of rules and create a more fun, rewarding play experience.

In other cases, we took the opportunity of the new editions to better bring WARMACHINE and HORDES more in line with each other, such as by removing wreck markers from WARMACHINE.

Perhaps one of the most noticeable cuts that added a huge amount to the games was the removal of skill checks from both games. The removal of this random element created a huge shift in some very underutilized models, as they were now guaranteed to be able to do what they were meant to do without having to worry about a random die roll to determine success. Of course, this cut did not come without some serious retooling and testing of former skill check abilities to account for the now guaranteed success.

And of course, we spent a huge amount of effort in reviewing and scrutinizing every single model rule and ability. Our goal was to achieve a total rebalance, better realizing each model’s specific role and purpose both within its faction and on the tabletop. But we also significantly streamlined the vast repository of model rules, combining and eliminating rules that had only minor differences.

Through it all, though, we kept the solid trunk of WARMACHINE and HORDES at the new editions’ centers. We knew, based on both our internal tests and the vast repository of community feedback, the core of the games was healthy. And while the new editions are truly new thanks to the sweeping rebalancing and retooling they received to make them faster and more fun, they are still very recognizable as the games you have known and loved for the last thirteen years. So, we all hope you will enjoy for the next thirteen years and beyond.