NQ70: Back to the Grind

Grind has a long and storied history in the world of Warmachine and Hordes, from its initial introduction in earlier No Quarter magazines to the board game with its “generic” Cygnaran and Khadoran warjacks and plug-and-play exotic weapon fits, including the only incidence we have of Khadoran light warjacks outside of the Scrapjack, which we already know breaks all the rules (I love you, Scrappy). Now, with No Quarter 70, we return to the Destructodome.

Grind takes your warjacks and warbeasts and lets you play them in a pseudo-sportslike environment that’s still based around beating the snot out of each other, and this incarnation may be the best to date. Previous versions have all had their pros and cons, but they’ve all been missing something, one of the pieces of the puzzle that makes sport variants on tabletop wargames so attractive to me personally.

If I can jump ship for a moment, the reason Blood Bowl was my favourite game of the 90’s – despite my playing literally every game GW was producing with the exception of Gorkamorka – was that (a) it retained the feel of Warhammer, (b) it didn’t require a ridiculous number of models, (c) it gave me a reason to actively care about the outcome of each game.

When you’re only playing with a handful of models, they can develop… personalities in your head. Thorg the Dire Troll has scored successfully in several games – he’s a rock star in your head, you’re very fond of him – and you lean on his improved skills as he becomes stronger, more accurate, whatever – and then an opposing Juggernaut breaks his leg! Oh noes! Can he still limp his way to victory??

It’s moments like that, that help the player actively engage mentally in the game, and become not only excited about the combination of models he’s put on the table but also about each and every member of the team individually. It’s things like that, that leave you with stories and memories that extend beyond the season. No, it wasn’t just another game when your Crusader killed a War Hog, it was that time when Heretic’s Penance utterly destroyed Skreerunt the Bloody, driving across the field and leaving the opening that your Galvanizer, 9-Alpha-Tangerine, exploited and scored the winning goal. To this day I can still name at least half of the Blood Bowl team that I played in my first season at University in 1992, and this is why I think the MkIII Grind Rules are the best to date.

  • You can build your team from warjacks OR warbeasts
  • You can build your team from options from various factions
  • Your team has active support staff, from the coach’s spells to emergency response gobbers
  • Your team improves with their successes
  • Your team suffers the consequences of serious injuries

Your team can even benefit from sponsorships – if you can prove you’re worthy of them, and if you can maintain them. Warmachine and Hordes are amazing games, and Grind doesn’t change what isn’t broken – the rules for Warmachine and Hordes are largely in effect, except for some minor variances, and everything that the new rules present just add more flavour to this variant on the game, rather than stripping stuff away.

I think it bears repeating that you can mix factions. This is a huge thing. I mean, personally I’d be perfectly happy doing All Menoth All The Way, but I *do* like the House Vyre myrmidons, and there’s a lot to be said for the nautical feel of the Freebooter, and sometimes it’s just plain fun to be able to paint a different style of model from a different faction. Now I can team the Freebooter and a Daemon up with my Castigator and Vigilant to form a brutal hit squad in garish sportsball colours dedicated to sinking the Grinder. The idea appeals… Bonus points to the first person to build a team out of an Angelius, Archidon, Scarsfell Griffon and a Neraph and paint them red… The Destroy’t Redwings! Muhahahahahahah!

(*ahem*)

No Quarter #70 is on shelves, with the rules for Grind MkIII including everything you need to know to run a league, a modelling article, and even a match report. There’s other shiny stuff in there too, including new fiction, tactical articles even if they areabout Cygnarans, IKRPG shiniess and more. Go pick it up, it’s a solid read, and maybe we can get a game of Grind in sometime.