Think different

The Griffon has a pokey stick and a shield. What abilities will they have? Will the Griffon be keen enough to be named Jeffrey?

The Griffon has a pokey stick and a shield. What abilities will they have? Will the Griffon be keen enough to be named Jeffrey?

I’ve spent very little time reading that thread in General Discussion since the images went up Wednesday night. I’ve added some people to my ignore list, and I’ve thought about an exchange I was lucky enough to have with Matt Wilson on Thursday. And the more I look at the Retribution models, the more I hear people say they “don’t fit,” the more I can’t wait to get them, paint them and play with them.

I’m not just trying to be contrary. I’m not being a “fanboy” and liking everything that Privateer Press has done (Morrow knows I despise the Skorne trooper models, and um, Hordes tokens). I like the look and feel of the Retribution because they’re different from anything else in the Iron Kingdoms.

Yes, different is good.

But disliking a model doesn’t mean it sucks. The fact I don’t like the look of the Skorne Venators or Arcurii or Agonizer doesn’t mean they’re awful, it means I don’t appreciate the aesthetic. A lot of people on the forums (and yes, I get that we’re talking about internet forums) seem to think that because they don’t like the way something looks, it can’t play well or be a viable army. They seem to think that Privateer Press, the creators of the Iron Kingdoms, has no business introducing a faction that is “out of place.” Never mind that the setting was invented by Matt Wilson, Brian Snōddy and Matt Staroscik. Really?

Bullshit.

It’s their freakin’ world. Seriously. I suppose that if, storywise, they could find a way to add fuzzy pink trout that walk on land and eat Warjacks, then dammit, there would be Warjack-eating fuzzy pink trout in the IK. Doubtful that they ever would, but you should see my point.

I’m not trying to persuade people to come to the Elf Side. I’m just going to make my points, in my blog and call it good. For the record, I am an elf-hater. I do not like the pointy-eared bastards any more than Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy loved those green-blooded, pointy-eared Vulcan bastards. Sure, we can get along, but take the banana hammocks and the tra-la-la-ing through the forest and go somewhere else. Frolic with unicorns, play the pan flute, just do it elsewhere.

Here’s the thing: Matt & Crew changed my mind about elves. The Retribution doesn’t wear banana hammocks, nor do they tra-la-la through the forest. These are pissed off, ass-kicking, heavy-armor wearing elves. They have bad-ass looking robot friends called Myrmidons. And did I mention they’re angry? Very, very angry. That happens when you kill a civilization’s gods.

cover

"Now, for any of those who haven't figured it out yet, there is only ONE warcaster featured on the cover. You've got a couple solos, a couple examples of Myrmidons, and a bunch of other cool units and stuff. Again, this is just a taste. There is so much more where this came from." -- Matt Wilson

I said from the start that Myrmidons would be make or break for me. Remember that part where I said I hate elves? I really do (granted, I’m collecting Wood Elves, but that’s more for the angry trees than the fruity tree humpers). But I saw the cover art for the Retribution book and knew I was going to be adding another faction.

Seeing this quote from Matt in this thread served to steel my resolve further:

… I want to take my hat off to Chris Walton, staff concept artist. I think that this is actually the first book, and definitely, the first faction, that I personally didn’t do any concept work for. Chris is responsible for every bolt, blade and badass that you’ll see in the Retribution, and I’ve got to say that I’m in love with every single one of his designs. Which is good, because I put him through the ringer on this stuff. Chris spent months just exploring different ideas, shapes, themes and styles to bring the Retribution together, and this was no easy task. We’d discuss designs, experiment with different approaches, and he took my very difficult, if not sometimes uncertain direction with the grace and enthusiasm that only a truly talented professional like himself could muster. When we started, we didn’t have a clue where this was going to end up, and Chris has probably got as many pages of stuff you’ll never see as he does finished work. This faction, more than any other that has come before it, truly embodies a singular vision, and you’ll see that in the final composition of the army. We wanted something that was very uniform, very stylized, completely different from any other faction, and yet had the tech-fantasy look that we wanted to bring to life. When you look at the Retribution, you’ll see an army that was conceived of with a purpose, like none of the others so far. There’s no goofing around here, these guys are all business, and it shows. It was an incredible amount of work, and in the grand scheme of things, done on a ridiculously rigorous timeline, and it was all Chris Walton.

Concept art by Chris Walton

Dawnlord Vyros concept art by Chris Walton.

Dawnlord Vyros

Dawnlord Vyros studio master.

One of the things I really like about Chris Walton is his art style. I can’t draw to save my life. OK, if I could save my life with stick figures, I might survive. Seeing Chris’ sketches on his Deviant Art page really got me to appreciate his talent. The other thing I like is how well his concept art translates into the finished models. Take a look at Wrong Eye & Snapjaw, or Calandra or any of the Monsterpocalypse concepts. The models are dead on.

On top of all that, Chris is a nice guy. I like nice guys. And he has a cool looking Khador army. My one regret from the Invitational was not getting to chat with Chris enough or play against him.

Dawnguard Invictors concept from www.privateerpress.com

Dawnguard Invictors concept from http://www.privateerpress.com

Dawnguard Invictors unit. Yes, they are plastic.

Dawnguard Invictors unit. Are they plastic? We can hope, right? Edit: Sorry kids, these aren't plastic. That's official from Biggie. Apologies for any earlier confusion.

More from Matt:

We knew, by the nature of what the Retribution was supposed to be and the fact that we’d barely seen the tiniest glimpse of Iosans so far, that we were going to be throwing out some radical new content in the Iron Kingdoms. The point was to really make them stand apart to shine the light on the disparity between the Iosans and the human kingdoms. They have so very little in common, of course they’re going to want to exterminate each other! That said, we knew some people wouldn’t be into the stuff as well, and that’s a good thing because if everyone all of a sudden starts playing Retribution, the battlefield is going to get a little monotonous. More than anything, though, I want to say how pleased I am at how it has come together. While we’re always concerned with what our audience will think, we first and foremost believe in being true to ourselves. I can honestly say that I don’t know of a single person at Privateer who isn’t completely psyched by how the Retribution has turned out.

Bill Cosby has a great quote: “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.”

So, we set out to please ourselves, and my theory is, that because we are a lot like you, then a lot of you are going to be pleased as well. That’s how we approach everything, and so far, I think it’s working.

Viva la Retribution!

Still, a good number of people are missing the point that the Retribution is supposed to be different, that it’s not supposed to appeal to everyone. Some folks have gone as far to say it will ruin the game and they “ban” the faction from their tables when they play because they can’t stand the look of the models. You know, I can’t stand the way some people look, smell or act. Do we get to ban them from life? I’ll say it here because I’ll get in trouble on the big boards: Get a fucking clue. That’s got to be one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard. Ruin the game? Mk II was supposed to ruin the game. Plastics were supposed to ruin the game. Higher prices were supposed to ruin the game.

Guess what kids, they’re still here. The building is still standing and Matt & Crew are still making games. Did you read the above quote? “So, we set out to please ourselves, and my theory is, that because we are a lot like you, then a lot of you are going to be pleased as well. That’s how we approach everything, and so far, I think it’s working.” The naysayers will disagree with this, but they’re wrong. Privateer Press has done something very few companies are able to with its customers: They have earned loyalty. Loyalty and respect are very much on the same page. You don’t start out with them, you earn them. Don’t forget that these guys are gamers — don’t you think Matt & Crew would make miniatures they would want to paint up and play with? It’s not some grand conspiracy to sell more models; these guys love what they do. I’ve talked with them, I’ve played with them. They genuinely love and believe in their products. Don’t believe me? Ask them.

Even before I became a PG, I felt loyalty to Privateer — Warmachine is my first tabletop miniatures game, so being first, it will always be special (this isn’t always the case with all firsts, if you know what I mean). First and foremost, I’m a gamer. I like cool toys to play with and paint. The fact I get to promote the game I love and interact with the folks who make it is an added bonus. When new models come out, I react to them as a gamer. How would I paint that? Can I afford it? Would it be fun to play?

But I digress.

I want to see how the Retribution plays, I want to see the rules for the Manticore and the Phoenix, the Sentinels and the Invictors. I want to paint the models and play them at my LGS. Most importantly, I want to give them a chance.

This isn’t about what I feel Privateer owes me or what I’m entitled to. This is about the game I’ve been playing for four years and the game I want to keep playing for years to come. I think the Retribution will be good for Warmachine in that the models are unlike anything we’ve seen. There’s very good reason for this.

From Chris Walton’s deviantart.com page:

So one of the major complaints that I’ve been hearing about the look for the Retribution is that they don’t look like they “fit in” with the rest of the Iron Kingdoms, or that they don’t have a steampunk “feel”. Make no mistake, this was purely intentional from start to finish. The elves of Ios are a cloistered xenophobic race that has had very little to do with the rest of Immoren for a very long time. This is a society that trades with no one and kills any who dare to cross their borders. For a time their gods walked among them helping their empire reached undreamt of heights of power, and their technology base is radically different from anything anyone has seen in the rest of the IK. It would have been very easy to throw some rivets and chunky plates on them and call it a day. But that would have cheapened the entire faction – totally disregarding the mystery and alien qualities of the elves in the WARMACHINE setting. In the end, I’m really glad that we took them in the direction we did. The new and the unknown are often scary, and that’s exactly how nature intended it.

Even with a word from the artist, it’s not good enough for some people. I really don’t get it. I guess people are afraid of change, and like Chris said above, the new and unknown are often scary. So we’re dealing with a bunch of chickenshits. Got it.

One kit, three choices of models. It's new and unknown, and not a damn bit scary.

One kit, three choices of models. It's new and unknown, and not a damn bit scary.

As I mentioned earlier, Myrmidons were make or break for me. In the end, it was this model that sold me:

I love the sword. I can't wait to paint the Phoenix.

I love the sword. I can't wait to paint the Phoenix.

I’m not 100 percent certain where Myrmidons fall in Iron Kingdoms. It seems as if they’re somewhere between constructs and Warjacks. It will be interesting to see if they have a cortex and use focus. Some quick searching on wikipedia yields the following:

The Myrmidons (or Myrmidones; Greek: Μυρμιδόνες) were an ancient tribe of Greece. They were very brave and skilled warriors as described in Homer’s Iliad, and were commanded by Achilles.[1] Their eponymous ancestor was Myrmidon, a king of Phthiotis who was a son of Zeus and “wide-ruling” Eurymedousa, a princess of Phthiotis. She was seduced by him in the form of an ant. An etiological myth of their origins, simply expanding upon their supposed etymology — the name in Classical Greek was interpreted as “ant-people”, from μυρμηδών (murmedon) “ant’s nest”[2] and that from μύρμηξ (murmex) “ant”[3] – was first mentioned by Ovid, in Metamorphoses: in Ovid’s telling, King Aeacus of Aegina, father of Peleus, pleaded with Zeus to populate his country after a terrible plague. Zeus said his people would number as the ants on his sacred oak, and from the ants sprang the people of Aegina, the Myrmidons.

And:

The Myrmidons of Greek myth were known for their loyalty to their leaders, so that in pre-industrial Europe the word “myrmidon” carried many of the same connotations that “robot” does today. Myrmidon later came to mean “hired ruffian” (according to the Oxford English Dictionary) or “a loyal follower, especially one who executes orders without question, protest, or pity, unquestioning followers.” (Dictionary.com).

Myrmidons is also the title of the first of a trilogy of plays by Aeschylus, collectively known as Achilleis. The other plays in the trilogy are Nereids and Phrygians. See Achilles (play) for more.

I suspect this use of the term hits closer to their role in the Retribution. But I like the idea of skilled warriors that are loyal to their leaders. Again, the fact that Myrmidons look nothing like Destroyers or Ironclads seems to rankle some folks. I doubt the Phoenix will rival the Centurion for my affections. Then again, if the stat line supports it, I could very easily end up with four of em.

From a painting stand point, I’m looking forward to something new. I think that’s why I started Wood Elves (who are really fruity to the extreme despite a lack of banana hammocks); they’re a painter’s army, much as I believe the Retribution will turn out. Smooth, flat surfaces will be a challenge and encourage lots of smooth blending and freehand — two techniques out of many that I really need to work on.

From a gaming standpoint, we’ll just have to wait for the Retribution book to drop at Gencon. Cygnar is my first faction and my true love, followed by Protectorate, Trolls and Mercenaries. The Retribution will be the “new shiny” for quite sometime after they release in September. Although the naysayers seem to be the most vocal, there are plenty of people who are excited about the new faction — really kids, it’s a new faction — and can’t wait to get started.

Look familiar? Yup, another Iron Kingdoms character crosses over. Say hello to the darker, angier Narn.

Look familiar? Yup, another Iron Kingdoms character crosses over. Say hello to the darker, angier Narn.

Warmachine is my game. While I like many of the Wood Elf models, every single time I purchase something from “the other company” I feel like I’m cheating. It might sound silly to some of you, but that’s how deep my loyalty runs. Privateer Press has given me a world to play in. They’ve given me models I enjoy playing with and models I get paid to paint. They’ve given me a hobby that has brought me joy for the past four years, and introduced me to a group of people I never would have met otherwise. I don’t love every single thing Privateer has done, I don’t agree with every single rules change in Mk II. I do trust Matt & Crew to do right by their fans and customers, as they have since the beginning.

I’m not sure what I’ve achieved with all of this. I guess I just wanted to write about the Retribution again. But there are three important points I want to leave you with in closing: 1. I will be joining the Retribution. You have been warned. 2. A Myrmidon shall be named Jeffrey. 3. Just say no to War Dancers!

Matt, I swear on my Privateer Press bandana that I will not allow this model, or any of its ilk, into my Wood Elf army. Cross my heart, swear on Voyle's grave.

Matt, I swear on my treasured Press Gang coin that I will not allow this model, or any of its ilk, into my Wood Elf army. Cross my heart, hope to die, shove a Dervish in my eye. This elf should be angry — angry at that 'do and choice of wardrobe.

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16 Responses to Think different

  1. gdaybloke says:

    A fuzzy pink trout, you say…

  2. Aranan says:

    While I certainly don’t think these will ruin the game like some doomsayers are crying on the PP forums, they just don’t appeal to me. I haven’t been able to narrow down exactly why, but I think it’s just the general shape of the armor and the myrmidons–the hands seem a little small, some of the heads look a little off, and the codpieces are… impressive. 🙂

    I also think it’s perfectly reasonable to be able to say something doesn’t fit into an established setting, even if it is introduced by the creators of the setting. What people mean by “fitting in” is that it meshes well with the established feel. Just because it is proposed by the creators doesn’t mean it automatically melds with the rest of the setting. That said, I think the Retribution of Ios -does- fit in the IK. They pull off the alien technology look well.

    • bobaferret says:

      I’m not proposing that the Retribution is an auto-fit in IK. But I am pointing out that if anyone is going to know what fits in that world, it’s going to be the people who created it — not the folks arguing that the models are “too anime” for steampunk or any of that nonsense.

      I really think once we get the book in hand the reasons why the models look the way they do will be very apparent. 🙂

      • Aranan says:

        Okay, I’ll agree with you there.

        Also, sorry for my first post on your blog being somewhat negative. I found this place a week ago and I’ve been reading through the archives. It’s a good read and I love your models, so they’re always great to see. 🙂

      • bobaferret says:

        No worries, Aranan. If everyone agreed with me, I’d be doing something wrong. 😉

        Glad to have you aboard!

  3. Elliott says:

    Imagine how I feel: I started with the “other company”, and I still feel like I’m cheating on PP when I look at their models.

    As for Wood Elves: a while back, I bought a copy of White Dwarf, which is GW’s version of No Quarter! (it’s so terrible, it’s not even funny.) That said, it had a really interesting article where alternate Wood Elf schemes were discussed; they were all based off of different seasons of the year! Just a small inspirational thought.

    • bobaferret says:

      It’s funny that you mention that issue of White Dwarf… I bought that when I was first looking at Wood Elves since I wasn’t sure I wanted to invest money in the army. For the money, I’m really not impressed with WD these days. $9 for a magazine? I’ll pass.

    • Aranan says:

      I’m another convert from “that company” to Privateer Press. I was kind of wary of buying NQ since my previous experiences with wargaming magazines was limited to WD. After I grabbed my first issue, I was pleasantly surprised. Then I went and backordered issues from the last two years so I can have things to read while on break at work. 🙂

    • Elliott says:

      Preaching to the choir, guys. I was wary about NQ, for the exact same reasons – and then I realized that it was ACTUALLY a hobby magazine made for hobbyists.

      Then only reason I mentioned that piece from WD was because the superb painting of the Wood Elves had stuck with me – the piece presented interesting, reasonable alternate schemes.

      But otherwise – yuck. Why pay $9 for a catalog with no fluff and almost no hobby material?

  4. relasine says:

    You don’t really know that they aren’t wearing banana hammocks. I mean, how could you? 🙂

  5. Jared says:

    I’m not an avid gamer. I don’t even focus on a single game. You should see my work table at home. Covered in warjacks, warcasters, Space Marines, Flames of War tanks and machine gun platoons. I paint what I like but I don’t play much.

    In spite of my gaming ADD though, I actually spend a fair amout of time reading other peoples’ accounts of their exploits on the table top, both in blogs and on the forums and it astounds me just how many people seem to mistake passing judgement for offering an opinion.

    Offering an opinion is fine and everyone is entitled to do so. Trying to convince me that your way is the right way is fair and fun as long as it is done in a respectful manner. I’m a rational man and I can be convinced.

    However, when YOU tell me that something is flat out wrong/won’t work/is teh suxxor when you yourself have never, ever developed an entire gaming universe yourself, that is just passing judgement. At that point, you are attempting to take away my ability to choose for myself.

    I think that is what so many of the whiney tits on various forums do. They don’t offer opinions. They pass judgement. They have no clue what Matt Wilson or any other game developers actually do but since they “buy” the models, it entitles them to pass summary judgement. That shit wears me out.

    Offer your opinions clearly and succinctly and leave it at that and I promise you, people will respect that. If all you want to do is spew out your personal brand of vitriol when you really have no clue, take it somewhere else because I’m not buying.

    I’ll get off my eSoapbox now. For the record I am in complete agreement with you, bobaferret. I wish folks would just let me know what they think but let me choose for myself.

    • bobaferret says:

      I like the way you think, Jared, and I need to remember to make it over to your blog more often.

      One of the things I wanted to do was get the quotes from Matt and Chris in the same spot along with the concept art and the studio models. It’s the journalist in me that likes to have sources to support my point. Yet hearing from Matt and Chris still isn’t good enough for some people. *sigh*

      You are 100 percent correct about people mistaking passing judgment for offering an opinion. I can take the folks who say “I don’t like X because it looks funny.” Or “I don’t think the armor is realistic on unit Z.” I’m really tired of reading “I don’t like X and it will cause the ruin of Warmachine and turn Privateer into GW” or “I don’t think the armor is realistic on unit Z and they suck and so do you for liking them.”

      Internet forums are a blessing and a curse. But I’ll tell ya, “ignore” makes them a lot more bearable. 😉

  6. Jared says:

    Haha. I wouldn’t bother with my blog. It’s crap and really will ruin Warmachine if you read it. 😛

    I think I just appreciate the rational arguments that you, the Lost Hemispheres group, and several others make both for and against various aspects of the tabletop hobby. It makes it easier for those like myself (the clueless) to enjoy the hobby too.

  7. […] response to this post. Come to think of it Myrmidons would look pretty darn awesome in hot pink  for the Breast Cancer […]

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