3 Things I Learned from the Beasts of War Mercs Week

A week or so ago, a few people contacted me to tell me the guys from Beasts of War had given me a brief shout-out in one of their shows. Funny enough, found myself skulking around the Beasts of War website and videos a bit as a result. I’ve not followed them closely before (being less of a YouTube person, I guess), but they clearly produce quality content. Well worth watching!

Notably, I tuned in on their “MERCS Week”, promoting the miniatures game of the same name. It makes for a good intro about a game I know (or knew) absolutely nothing about. The MERCS miniatures game itself, well, I think I will save my thoughts on that for another post.

Either way, there are three important things I learned (or was reminded of) watching this week’s Beasts of War MERCS coverage.

Beasts of War MERCS Giveaway!

Mercs Week on Beasts of WarYou can also win some MERCS bundles from Wayland Games through them. Either leave a comment on this video from them and/or put a badge like the one to the right up on your own blog or website (I know I’d love to have some!).

So what did I like about it?

#1 – It’s the terrain, stupid!

Beasts of War’s sefadu MERCS in Village Terrain

I’ve never been much of a “big” army player. 1500 points of 40K is plenty for me, and the charm of those gazillion-points Apocalypse games wears off quickly in my experience. MERCS, as a game, is build around even less. Only 5 miniatures per person, less than good ol’ Necromunda actually.

Seeing the MERCS action on those beautiful, professionally made tables over at Beasts of War really drove the point home that it isn’t the necessarily the amount of miniatures you can field, but the amount of quality terrain you can field them on, that makes for great games.

I don’t have professionally made tables like the guys over at Beasts of War. Still, I really need to get crackin’ and build some more, better terrain for the games I do play, and not pile on ever more miniatures that duke it out, again and again, over the same old, worn-down hills of mine!

#2 – Use the rules to tell the story…

One thing I liked a lot about the Beasts of War MERCS-demo-games was how they used the rules in creative ways to support the story they were trying to get across.

The “Games Workshop”-side of the hobby (in particular) appears at times to be irreconcilably split between “follow-the-rules-to-the-letter” and “throw-them-all-out“, as if only those extremes existed.

I believe Beasts of War guys found a really good balance there, better than the White Dwarf team for example. They used the rules as tools to build their game/story, employing them to create the best game possible. But they didn’t let the rules dictate what to do at the expanse of having fun.

It’s admittedly a hard concept to convey, and the “right balance” might be very different to different people. It’s still something worth striving for.

#3 – Named miniatures are more fun!

For some reason, I really love to have some details, a “face”, for the miniatures to make a game involving. Silly as it may be, “Vinícius Ferreira” (to use a MERCS example) triumphing against long odds or biting the dust feels more “meaningful” than Trooper 5 doing the same.

Part of why I Warhammer 40K 5th Edition sucked my back into the game after, years of indifference, was that they made it “more personal” again. They added lots of cool new characters such as Gabriel Seth or Trazyn the Infinite. They also started writing more character-centric fluff again (some Codex authors more, others less), which was great.

Unfortunately, Games Workshop seemingly stopped doing that for Warhammer 40K 6th Edition.

I know that in the old days (Necromunda again) I did it all by myself. I might still do it. Yet it seems hardly worth doing so, if noone else does it and everyone’s only looking for the “optimal load-out”.

The MERCS-approach of giving you personal details on every (!) miniature in the range hits all my buttons there, whatever else the game may or may not do.

Well, so much for my personal Pins of War MERCS appreciation day.

Have you played MERCS? Have you followed Beasts of War’s MERCS week?

If so, let me hear your opinion!




I am Zweischneid. Wargame Addict. Hopeless painter and founder of Pins of War. I hope you enjoyed this article. Don't forget to share your favourite miniature pictures and wargaming videos at www.pinsofwar.net.
GW's Latest Teaser Has Bretonnian Minis In It - Still Wood Elves Tough! http://t.co/EKQo1UaIta #wfb #youtube #teaser - 5 hours ago
  • Josh Powers

    I really enjoy MERCS as a side game it’s quick and fun. The rules are also really customizable to fit what you want to do for example I made up a zombie outbreak ruleset the worked great and has become an annual Halloween event with my group.


    • http://pinsofwar.net Zweischneid

      Cool. Looks like a fairly simply add-on! Thanks

    • http://pinsofwar.net/ Zweischneid

      pretty cool. Looks like an easy plug (as far as I can tell with no knowledge of MERCS)

  • Bruticus

    Whenever I see people get nostalgic for Necromunda and then compare it to these new skirmish games I can’t help wonder why not just play Necromunda again? It’s still a great game and the advantage it has over other games is that it has all of the GW miniatures line available to plunder. I play Necro most weeks, not really tempted by these other games.

    • http://pinsofwar.net/ Zweischneid

      I just don’t work this way in my entertainment.

      The original Star Wars trilogy were some of the best films I’ve seen. Doesn’t mean I don’t watch new movies or compare newer space-opera stuff to them. In fact, I probably haven’t seen the original trilogy in a decade or so.

      Game of Thrones was one of the best fantasy books I’ve ever read. Doesn’t mean I don’t read new books or compare newer fantasy books with it. In fact, I probably haven’t read Game of Thrones in a decade or so.

      The same applies to my gaming. Just because a past project was particularly memorable, doesn’t mean I didn’t finish it, sell it and went on to a new project. I never really understood people who think that they need to commit to a game .. or worse … to a particular faction within a game as if it was some sort of a marriage-style-commitment for life.

      I keep my hobby-projects around for 6 to 12 months usually, depending on size and my other commitments. After that, I wrap it up and start something else (or take a break for a year). In the long term, that worked out a lot better for me. YMMV.

      • Bruticus

        That’s interesting, but unlike say, reading Game of Thrones, you don’t get to the end of Necromunda. There’s always more you can add to it or do with it. I agree about the committing to a faction point and I don’t think it is sensible to blindly commit to a game system without trying others. But if you haven’t tried Necro in ages then surely coming to it again it would feel quite fresh. To be honest though I am also too invested in Necro to swap to something else too quickly, it has taken a year just to make the scenery.

        • http://pinsofwar.net/ Zweischneid

          True. But if I am going back to Necromunda, it would in many ways still be a “new” project. I’d likely want to paint a different gang. I’ll likely play with different people, since I moved. It would be a different campaign. Etc.. . And it too.. would likely “end” at some point.

          I am not saying that each “new project” has to be the latest new game.

          On some measure, I’ve been playing Warhammer 40K since 2nd edition.

          But I haven’t played it at a “constant level” for 15 years. Rather, it would probably more accurately be described as about 3 hobby projects I did in that time with (very different versions of) Warhammer 40K.