A while ago I semi-ranted about the Warmachine rules. This was shortly after I saw the Warmachine MkII announcement. Now, the beta rules are out for people to get their hands on.
I was excited. Now I am not.
You see, NOTHING IMPORTANT HAS CHANGED!
Warjacks are still shit despite a few buffs and the rules still represent a taxing level of minutia. In fact, there's some new stuff that makes the game even MORE detail oriented. The need for the FAQ/errata will be gone once the new rules go live, but I wouldn't count on it staying gone forever.
The good news is that the rulebook has been rewritten in much the same way MTG 6th edition was - things have been keyworded, the rules language has been standardized and more rules interactions have been covered. The writers also claim that most of the ability timing issues have dissapeared. The individual models have been altered in much the same way. Much more standardization across the board - both core rules and model rules. They've also gone out of their way to re-cost units more appropriately as well as fix useless models (cough, Necrosurgeon, cough - if I'm reading things right).
But, most of MY specific problems with the game haven't been addressed. The game is still unnecessarily complicated and rules heavy and the signature unit is still, by and large, a polished turd.
Here are my specific gripes despite the above good news:
1) Warjacks are still shitty. Despite all of them getting hefty stat line bonuses - specifically RAT and MAT, they're still focus hogs. Still gotta spend a focus to run and charge. Plus, jacks still have the same DEF stat. For most of them, it makes them easier to hit than the broadside of a barn. Essentially, the new buffs give jacks the ability to be able to hit models besides other warjacks. Guess what? Even if your warjack can reliable kill two Bane Knights, the other 8 are gonna fuck you a new asshole.
2) Compulsory units. Part two of the solution to warjacks disappearing from people's army lists is to give each warcaster a subset of army points that can only be spent on warjacks. No matter what smoke people may blow up your ass, these are compulsory units. Real great way to sidestep the issue of jacks being shit. Sure, lets make people take easy victory points. GW tried this years ago with troops. They're just now gaining ground with the idea.
To those of you who bitch and moan that no one is forcing you to spend the extra points on a jack: hurry up and graduate from kindergarten. If my opponent has access to the really useful warjacks - say, ones with arcnodes that also happen to be cheap (CRYX!!!!!!!), they basically get a free 'jack for every warcaster. If I play as any other faction, I have to take another jack just so I'm not at a 5 point disadvantage. If I want a good/useful one, I have to start dipping into my regular points.
Special bonus: If you play Khador then, apparently, fuck you. Because most non-epic warcasters give you 5 extra points. Even the shittiest Khador turd doesn't cost less than 6. Oops.
3) The new point system is eroding one of the key areas of fairness in a wargame - equal force size. Now, warcasters don't cost any points themselves. You just pick one. Guess what. The harbinger now costs exactly as much as the High Reclaimer (nothing). Plus, different warcasters give you different extra points - Epic Butcher (sp) gets 7, Mortenabra (sp) gets 4. Lame all around.
4) the New point system is kinda lazy. I like the effort to better balance the points systems - especially in light of things like bane knights being much better and slightly cheaper than bane thralls (and other such silliness), but dividing every point value by 10 and then rounding or raising as needed hasn't solved any problems inherent in the system. Its only solved the problems the system had created so far. Things are still going to be overcosted, its just less noticeable.
The simplification of the new point system intrigues me. However, free warcasters and compulsory crappy units thoroughly fuck this up.
5) The effective height and volume of a model are now important game concepts. Now matter how big the model, anything on a specific sized base has a specific height and width that count for line of sight. Smaller models now take up additional theoretical space and the biggest models are now functionally smaller. To an extent I get it - there's no need to penalize people who want to arty stuff that happens to make a model huge nor is theere a need to reward cheaters and their WAAC poses. But come the fuck on. There has to be something between true LOS and this.
There was already enough measuring and minutia in the game without having to measure the goddamn miniatures themselves to check LOS. Why the fuck do we now have to move into the realm of pretending that models are a specific size? The rules lawyers are going to have a field day as they bend this one to get whatever tiny advantage they need.
"you can't see my bile thrall, its behind a wall"
"Well, actually I can, because the wall is only 1.5 inches tall and the bile thrall counts as 1.75."
"But it's completely hidden behind the wall."
"sorry, empty space now counts as part of the miniature"
Despite what the writers say about fairness, it will not seem like it to casual players. Its also yet another fun way to break up the flow of the game.
So, there you have it. The game is still too complicated for a self reported "fast paced" game and is incrasingly geared toward the ass-hole tournament troll and his WAAC atttude rather than the regular gamers - tourny goers, casuals or otherwise. I played with rulesets like this when I played in M:TG events. Guess what, it blows.
Dunno know about you guys, but I've got better things to do