Originially published at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2011/11/16/tabletop-
Privateer Press has been like the Smiths, for me. I discovered the Cure first, at a young and impressionable age, and they monopolized my music budget for years and years. As a fan of the Cure, I was aware of the Smiths, but I never really listened to them. I grew to admire and appreciate the Smiths, but I could not get into them the way I did the Cure. I always figured that if I had heard the Smiths first, the relationship would have been flip-flopped. The analogy extends to Games Workshop and Privateer Press. If I had encountered Warmachine before Warhammer, I think I would have been a big fan, but I came to it a little too late.
What I know about Warmachine could fit on a business card. The models are chunky, with a steampunk and anime aesthetic, like the best possible Final Fantasy. The scale is somewhere around 28mm, though I think it creeps into 32mm territory. The scale of engagement is more akin to a skirmish game than a full-on war game. Oh, and they have a beautiful house magazine: No Quarter. I am reviewing the PDF version, but it is also available in paper form.
I’ll start in the most logical place, the cover. The painting on the cover is both striking and stereotypical of the Privateer Press aesthetic. A steam and magic powered mech, crackling with bright blue electricity, is tussling with a skeletal machine that looks to be made of bronze and green fire and malevolence. I say striking, because it is an attention getter. I saw this issue at Tabletop Games and, despite not being a Warmachine player, I picked it up and flipped through it. There is a dynamic power in the image, one that extends to the miniatures. Stereotypical because the amazing quality of the painting seems to be par for Privateer, as I have never seen an ugly product from them and the aesthetic has been consistent for years. Andrea Uderzo is a very talented painter from Italy, and I look forward to seeing more of his work.
Opening Salvo is what No Quarter calls the editorial page. Aeryn Rudel wrote a nice, concise editorial on the upcoming Unbound rules. Unbound is the large-scale engagement version of Warmachine and Hordes. A pretty amazing painting adorns the header of the page, with two ships blazing away with their cannons.
The Table of Contents follows and manages to do something I thought was undoable. The editorial staff of No Quarter have managed to make a Table of Contents visually pleasant. Each article gets a small piece of art and a blurb, along with a big page number. This is such a nice touch that it makes me wish other magazines would steal it.
News From The Front is a two-page news column. The coverage is of two conventions, so I consider it skimmable. The photographs are nice enough, it just lacks a point of interest.
The New Releases are as you would expect. The photos are impeccable, a running theme with No Quarter. It is a kindness that they include the retail price, something White Dwarf stopped doing several years ago. That each release credits the sculptor is a nice touch. It is four pages of miniatures porn, but it is well produced porn.
The most noteworthy miniature in the New Releases, at least for a non-player like me, is the Wraith. The Wraith also gets a page of rules, as does Captain Damaino, the Arcantrik Force Generator, and the Farrow Slaughterhousers. While I am not overly familiar with the Warmachine rules, the statistics pages were clear and easy to read. Each is well illustrated, particularly the full-page painting of the good Captain Damaino. The character and personality of the game is very in your face and I can definitely see the appeal.
Forces of Distinction III is, obviously, the 3rd installment in a series of articles that explore theme forces for Warmachine and Hordes. I am big fan of theme forces in every game I play, so I was really looking forward to this piece. The two forces presented are quite interesting. Both are shaped by personality and have a place in the history and setting of the Privateer Press games. I may be a stranger to the universe these games are set in, but I was able to slide right into it with this article. I have to say, if I was going to start playing Warmachine, I would take a hard look at what these armies have to offer.
Guts and Gears is a deconstruction of a specific character or warmachine, something I can definitely get behind. I enjoy detailed articles covering one particular aspect of a miniature. That this edition covers an armored steampunk pig man, the War Hog, has me chomping at the bit. I love pig people, particularly Bebop from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The history of the War Hog in the Warmachine world gets several pages. There is also a piece on in-game tactics for using the fantastic War Hog miniature. There is a painting piece which is my introduction to the Privateer Press painting technique. Their miniatures look very good and the high-contrast paint schemes the house painters favor does wonders for the sculpts. While this is not a beginner’s model, the article does a great job of showing the process for painting a good-looking War Hog. I would buy the blow-up picture of the War Hog as a poster in a heartbeat.
Shattered Grounds: Rotterhorn is the organized Warmachine league and several pages of printable cards for it are included. Since I know neither the rules nor the league, there is not much I can add about these.
If there is one article that justifies the $7.50 cover price, it is Studio Secrets with Matt DiPietro. Covering the techniques for painting a coherent large army, this is one of the best hobby articles I have seen in a long time. Using only 15 paints, three of which are spray primers, Matt does a great job demonstrating the techniques necessary to make a large army look good on the table. Just the trick of using rust colored spray paint over black primer to create highlighting is an amazing trick, one that I will be stealing. The results are both beautiful and attainable, inspiring me to pick my brush back up after a rough day of painting.
The bulk of the issue is consumed by the Unbound article. As a non-player, I was still able to decode the gist of the rules, though I cannot comment on the quality of them. What I can comment on is the accompanying photography of huge battles. If there is a better advertisement for the Warmachine line and playing a game with the Unbound rules, I cannot imagine it. There is something entrancing about large scale engagements and the photos do a great job capturing that energy.
Power Progression: Circle Orboros covers the Celtic inspired force. I cannot think of a similar army in any other game and I am entranced by the models. They have a stony, earthy aesthetic that looks good on the table and makes me want to see some in person. While I could not make heads nor tails of the article, because of my ignorance of the rules, it was inspiring and gave me a hint what is going on with Warmachine.
Strategic Academy: Cygnar is a dense, illuminating piece on the Cygnar army. Going character by character and unit by unit, the forces of Cygnar are analyzed and explained with great care. The artwork is, as always, lush and characterful. As with the Power Progression article, it is a great read even if the rules are not crystal clear. I am anticipating a chance to read the rulebook and perhaps play a few games. The world is even more expansive and interesting than I had guessed.
The Modeling and Painting article covers a subject every fantasy miniatures painter has struggled with: gems. Going step by step on a white undercoated red gem and a black undercoated green gem, the technique is familiar, but better expressed than I have seen elsewhere. I would enjoy seeing more articles from this series, as it is well done.
Terrain Building: Top of the Heap covers a subject I am keenly interested in. Building hills for tabletop scenery is a seemingly simple subject, but one that can use refinement. The stone face and junk heap hills that are made in the article are quite nice and far different from the lumpy green hills I am used to making. I look forward to trying out the foam sculpting technique they illustrate so well.
The Player Gallery finishes this issue with a couple examples of fan made miniatures. There are some well painted examples, which differ from the house style.
In the end, No Quarter is an interesting look into another world of gaming for me. I had not considered playing Warmachine before reading this issue, but I am not so sure now. While the content is very dependent on being a Warmachine player, it is an attractive and well-written magazine that does a very good job selling me on the Privateer Press product. I would definitely read another issue, for sure.