Some of the new favorite games to play (that are not our own) this year has been the great games by Games Workshop under the banner of Warhammer. We like them all, from Warhammer Underworlds, to the Age of Sigmar, to 40K and Kill Team. Of course, you don't enter that hobby without it changing you some. Here's what Warhammer has done to AnSR Games.
What is Warhammer?
If you have never had the chance to experience a Warhammer game, here's a brief description that does little justice to the games. Warhammer is, at its core, a miniatures war game that you play with figures that you assemble like a model kit and paint in colors of your heart's desire.
Games of Warhammer 40,000 (the far-future version of the game) and Warhammer Age of Sigmar (the fantasy version of the game) take 1-3 hours to play (at least in our house), and include lots of dice rolling and finding ways to mitigate the luck (or lack therof) of the dice.
Warhammer Underworlds is a card and board game variation of the game that lets you build a deck like Magic the Gathering. You use that deck and your personal war band to compete with another player who has done the same in hopes to score as much points in 12 turns by doing things on your Objective cards. Those games are far shorter and feel different.
Warhammer Impact 1: Time
The first thing Warhammer has done to us is make us play a game that takes longer than 45 minutes to play. Generally speaking, we like shorter games. We make shorter games. Now, we have games that take 2 hours (or a couple of nights, depending on the time we have to play.) This has done 2 things to us.
The end result? Some of our recent designs are distillations and shorter versions of longer games we like, so we can play that kind of game more often. In fact, we have a really good deck-building game that plays like a longer one that we like, but is done in 20 minutes or less with up to 4 players. And, yes, we've started working on a miniatures game that is portable and shorter.
Warhammer Impact 2: Planning
Part of the hobby of Warhammer is building models with clippers and glue. Another part of it is painting the minis you made in various colors to evoke a feeling or ascribe to a certain group. this is terribly fun. In fact, it is something none of us really ever did or enjoyed, and we really like spending the time on it. It is kind of like taking time to build a deck of cards in a CCG or some such. It also is a process that has made us more diligent in our actions we take to make games.
For instance, there is a time to build models, and then, if you want to spray paint them outside to get a good undercoat on them for painting. You have to wait for the right weather conditions. Too cold, too hot, or too humid, and the paint will do bad things. You have to plan to do these things in a particular order.
How does this impact us? It has made us more diligent in planning our game projects. As such, we will have nearly 20 products for sale by the end of this year. we've finished more in the last year than we have in nearly a decade because of this new diligence and planning... and it happened by accident.
Warhammer Impact 3: Upgrades
While we really have taken a shine to this new hobby in our life, a few design things make the game more fiddly than we're used to. We're used to streamlined rules, games, and timeframes, so shortcuts for longer games really appeal to us. One of the things we really like are the cards used for Warhammer Age of Sigmar. It is a fantastic way to get right into the action. We also like the Learn to Play rules included with Warhammer Underworlds. It is a simple way to introduce players to the basics of a game. Unfortunately, Warhammer 40,000 starts off with cards and an easy way to play in the starter set, but then devolves to a series of book-flipping or app usage and small rules made to limit dice probabilities. Even the skirmish game, Kill Team, has some parts that we find a little fiddly.
If you compare the 2 games, the rules for Age of Sigmar have been far easier to teach new players, and the use of cards has made it a design favorite. The awesome world of 40,000 and some of the nuances of the rules and factions have drawn us to play a little more of that in the house. Underworlds is just a different game altogether, and we play in local tournaments for that game because it is so fast.
Being game designers, we became inspired by a lot of what we saw and things that we wanted to have when playing some of the games. To that end, we have made the following Fan Expansions that we plan to release later this year.
Thank you, Warhammer
If we never play another game of Warhammer, the various lessons and ways it has changed our inherent game design thinking has been worth it. That being said, we'll be playing more Warhammer... hopefully with some great little expansions we have in the works.
-Aaron from AnSR