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!
You 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!
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!