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Learning Warmachine

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A couple of the friends that I play D&D with, are big on tabletop war games as well. Warhammer, Warmachine, Song of Blades and Heroes, that sort of stuff. For a while now, they've been trying to get the rest of the group to try out those games. Their main hurdle is that when all of us get together we'd rather progress the D&D campaign instead of try something new.

As I've recently had twin babies move in with me, my free time has been drastically cut short. Which means getting together for the regular D&D sessions doesn't happen so much now. I do occasionally get a few hours off here and there, and that seems to be the right amount of time to get a couple skirmish matches in. with that, they've finally talked me into playing with them. Now if only I knew what I was doing.

The first of these games I've gotten a chance to try is Warmachine. I still haven't read through the rulebook, so I was relying on them to explain the mechanics to me. They broke out the models from the starter sets and quickly set up a game. I think I had the Protectorate of Menoth and my buddy was playing the Cygnar army. They had these nice little cards that listed all of the powers and abilities each of the models could do, which seemed great since it was a great quick reference.

Two things I learned about teaching someone a new game, you should never use the phrase "What you should have done...". We kept running into situations where he would see a move that would give me a tactical advantage and keep quiet about it, not mention it to me that it was an option during my turn. Then on his turn, he'd point out the mistake and them proceed to destroy several of my units. I'm not saying he should let me win or anything but this sort of conversation:

My Buddy: "What you should have done there, was have your Warjack thrown my unit over here. Then it would have knocked my range units prone, and they wouldn't have been able to get in range to wipe out these two units of yours."

Me: "The card for that Warjack doesn't list a Throw power, must be a different model that can do that."

My Buddy: "Oh, no, all Warjacks can throw other units."

Me: "I see. Wish I'd have known that before."
is no fun at all when learning a game, in fact its really frustrating. Later on in the match he used some special attack that destroyed my Warjack's Cortex, what that means is that your Warcaster (essentially the leader of your force) can't boost the unit so a whole list of cool fun abilities are cut off. While this was probably a great strategy in a real match, and simplified the game by taking out a whole slew of rules I didn't understand, it did take out a lot of what makes Warmachine unique and different than other miniature games.

I don't think he meant to take advantage of my ignorance of the game and get an easy victory, I just don't think he was in the right mindset for teaching. It would be pretty boring to start off by listing off all the possible actions you can take. However, during the game it would have gone better had he mentioned the other choices available when I could use them, instead of when it was too late. Its probably also best to try to leave the new guy with all his options open to him, this way when he's ready to try some new things its there for him. The point of these instructional games isn't to win, but to let the new guy explore the game.

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