This may come to a shock to some of you, but there is certainly one thing that Games Workshop (GW) players do better than Warmachine players, and that’s conversions for their models. Some of you may play both games, or maybe like me you started with one and went to the other, or maybe you just play one of the systems, but I’d like to go over what GW does that makes their players so good at converting, and where Privateer Press is lacking.
As I said I use to be big into GW games. I played 40k and Fantasy for years, and loved it. One of the best things about the game was how open it was for the imagination, and how many options you had in crafting your army and even individual models, and because of this, you would see beautiful customized armies. Don’t get me wrong, you see these in Warmachine too, but nowhere near the scale of GW players.
Before you light your torches, and sharpen your pitchforks, let me explain…
Much like in Warmachine, in GW games you have the freedom to determine where you spend your points to create your army. Want an army full of X? Cool, do it! Want to fine tune your list to bring in some support pieces? Awesome, do it! But here’s the difference: GW does it at the model level. You can take a unit of Space Marines just like you can take a unit of Gun Mages, but the Gun Mages have no options other than taking a Unit Attachment or not. The Space Marines have the option of having different weapons in the unit, upgrading the unit leader, and even getting upgrades for the entire unit. Imagine of you could tool up your gun mages with +1 defense, and three members had ‘mage shotguns’, and the leader had a sword that ignored armor, and a banner that let them move faster… sure you’d be paying more for those options, but the point is that you would have those options. More importantly if you wanted to show these options you would need to change the models to show it, and that’s where conversions can come in.
Privateer Press has their own conversion rules, but for GW it’s a lot more simple: WYSIWYG, or in other words What You See Is What You Get. Past that you are pretty much open to do whatever you want as long as it clearly shows what the model is and has.
This comes in more with their army leaders. Unlike Warmachine where your warcaster is what it is, in GW you would have a plethora of options for your weapons, armor, mounts, and other upgrades. Imagine if when pick to lead your Cygnar army with Stryker you could then decide what combat and ranged weapon he has, if he’s going to use Darius’s army, and if he’s going to be on foot, ride a horse, or even ride a storm strider (all you have to do is pay the points for each option). Sounds amazing right? Well it is, and was one of my biggest regrets when I moved from GW to Warmachine. The inability to customize my leader felt extremely limiting, and that also means it’s another opportunity lost when conversions come in. Sure you could convert your Stryker model, but there just isn’t the need for it like what you need with the incredible amount of permutations that the GW system offered that the model range couldn’t hope to cover.
Then we get to the models themselves. Because of this general need to convert, GW designed their models to be easily converted. Kits were developed where the model was broken up into many pieces, allowing for customization, with options that allowed for customization of poses, and of course a range of extras that all allowed for common weapon and gear customization. Privateer Press models on the other hand are generally very static, meaning there is often only one way to put them together. Hell, in a lot of cases the models are basically one piece! Slap that thing on a base and done! That appeals to those who aren’t into that hobby aspect of assembly, but clearly heavily hinders conversion ease and potential.
I’m happy to say though that things are getting better. Much like before where Warmachine was known as people who didn’t paint their models, and I’d go to a tournament and see half of the armies be unpainted, now I go to tournaments and maybe one new player won’t have a painted army. I think this was a jump start to seeing more conversions, as Warmachine players are now going to the next step and converting more of their models, and it’s awesome to see.
Will Privateer Press ever get to the point where their game allows you the option to take Makeda in cataphract armor, wielding Tiberions club and Soulward’s Spirit Eye, while riding a ferox? Probably never, and that’s ok. They manage options in other ways, with currently three versions of Makeda to pick from. And as they move to plastic kits rather than metal ones they are creating products that are much easier to do conversions with.
So although GW players do currently outclass Warmachine players with their conversions, please take that as a challenge rather than an insult. Read the conversion rules and then get inspired to make a unique model conversion that will be a center piece of your collection, or maybe even come up with a theme for your entire list! For myself, I have decided to convert the Thexus model as I can’t stand the withered body, and want to put the necessary pieces on a man in a wheelchair and call him Professor TheX, but that will be a future article.
Thank you for reading, and I hope you embrace the chance to bringing your ideas to life on the table!