So far my friend and I are five games deep in Winter Korps vs Sea Raiders, and honestly these are the best products PP has ever produced, top to bottom. And probably some of the best in miniature gaming period right now.
Physically, the models are awesome. The first run of Sea Raiders and Storm Legion was kinda mid, but pretty much everything after that with the darker resin and single piece models has been fantastic. My favorite model bundles ever. It takes little time to get them playable, and they look so good.
And a special shout-out to the packaging. While I did prefer PPs attempt to move to wax paper packaging to cut down on plastic, the bubble wrap sleeves are good to keep around for my own shipping needs, and the four little boxes are great for holding various things like cards and tokens. And the templates, even. No “scan this page” stuff, just good cardstock with a nice finish that you can cut out and they look great. Seriously, cut out the cloud/wall/trench templates the bundles come with.
In terms of gameplay, the MKIV specific armies feel like the most deliberately designed armies PP has ever made. Pretty much every aspect of the army seems thought out, which is a good change of pace from the “concept above all” feel the game has always had, and evening it out into a more holistic approach. Basically there’s no fat on the armies themselves, the models definitely have a type and power curve awareness to them, and every new army follows a structure template with size/release parity. That kind of parity makes games better, and it was a shame when MKIII abandoned it. Glad to see it’s back.
The new armies are fairly distinct too, with Winter Korps adopting a purely gunpowder focused fighting style and Sea Raiders being more balanced in their approach options, with an emphasis on harpoons and area-based enemy debuffs. Storm Legion seems more focused on beef this time around and sports some extreme gun ranges, while House Kallyss has a lot of healing and recursion combined with big damage buffs to play attrition.
Then finally, on the table, the game is Warmachine but faster (as in takes less time). Threat ranges and lethality are still pretty high, but everything still feels more measured. I think it’s mostly the new cards, racks, and defenses giving players a lot more agency in keeping certain models around. Kind of a “proactive defense” adding a new layer of interaction to the game. This is all very good, as Warmachine is a great game, and these additions (deliberate army design, more player interactivity, faster play) all make the game better.
Last, I want to point to the Battle Forge series in the app. After taking detours to half a dozen other miniature games (and other types of games) I have an appreciation for more ways to enjoy a game/product, and the app giving me cool alternative scenarios.
Now alternative scenarios aren’t anything new in Warmachine, but these are a little different. They tend to cover the board in terrain (like 20 pieces) and give you special, but not TOO special, objectives. So far one is asymmetrical with one person in the middle, which I don’t care for, but the rest are like… what if you got some Malifaux in your Steamroller. Fighting over hills with LOS blocking everywhere, each player having a tower with spotlights and barrels of oil you can make fire terrain with, etc. Basically they still feel like good well made game modes with a healthy dash of cool thematic play to them, so if you’re a pure Steamroller person, you can still get practice out of these since they have strong elements of fundies.
(Credentials: my group and I have played MCP, Shatterpoint, Malifaux, Ice and Fire, Arena Rex, Warcaster, and AoS and 40k in the past few years. In that list, Malifaux is the overall best game)
Thank you for reading.