What Makes Great Warstories Great?

By Audiosurfer. Art by Andrew.
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In this time where a battle can be shared in a matter of seconds through a single click, enabling people to watch games as though they were happening live as opposed to having to strain their eyes pouring over a log, it might seem downright silly to suggest that there's any point to having warstories anymore. After all, what could be more antiquated than a whole thread for a glorified log? If a warstory really was nothing more than a glorified log, then the answer would be nothing. However, there are many benefits to warstories that people seem to have forgotten about. The difference between a replay and a well-written warstory is similar to that between a Twitter post about a news incident and a long-form article about the incident. While both will tell you what occurred, one will do so in a more informative and engaging fashion than the other could hope to. For example, watching a replay would tell you what moves were made in a battle, but this won't tell you why those moves were made, which is every bit as important (if not more so) than what occurred when assessing a battle.


One benefit to warstories as opposed to their video-based cousins is that there's more information to be found within a good warstory than within a good replay. For example, take the following excerpt from the warstory Dragons, Dinos, and Donkeys (I mean ponies):

Turn 13
The foe's Moetios used Draco Meteor!
It's not very effective... Jirachi lost 17% of its health!
The foe's Moetios's Special Attack harshly fell!
The foe's Moetios lost some of its HP!
Jirachi used Wish!
Jirachi restored HP using its Leftovers!

(25%), SR

(80%), SR

I'm somewhat surprised that he stayed in here, as he's not doing much and that was a somewhat amateurish move, but OK. I'm hoping he just made a mistake and that I'm not somehow falling into an unseen trap. I have two options here. My moveset is stealth rock, wish, thunder, and iron head. My first choice would be to use thunder on latios for that 60% paralysis, but he's almost certainly going to chomp, so iron head is the better option. But wait. He has rough skin (bye bye SV) can rachi survive that? Yeah, I'm at 26%, I should be fine, rough skin only does 12%. Wait—what's his item? No lefties, but I assume it's yache berry or focus sash, right? Even if it's that residual damage one—iron helmet or something, 12.5 + 12.5 = 25, so I should survive even that, right? Oh well, I'll go for the iron head...

If you were watching a replay, you would know that Latios used Draco Meteor and Jirachi used Wish, but nothing beyond that. However, thanks to the commentary that can be provided in a warstory, you gain valuable insight into what Kidogo was thinking at a given time, which makes for a much better read than simply watching the animations for a Draco Meteor striking a Jirachi on-screen. It's the difference between reading "The sky unleashed a torrential downpour" and "It rained a lot". In addition, for those looking to improve their playing ability, there's much more to be gained from being able to see how a top player thinks through the match than there is from just seeing what the end result is at a given time. For example, imagine if you needed help on a homework assignment and your teacher simply wrote down the answer without explaining any of the steps to get there. By the time the next test rolled around and you had a similar problem, you'd be completely lost. In a similar way, seeing how people apply concepts such as risk vs. reward in an actual battle is always more useful and more readily applicable to future battles than just seeing the plays that they make.


Now you might be wondering how reading a whole thread could possibly be more entertaining than just watching a replay in a few minutes. The answer is that when making a warstory, the writer has a chance to express their own personality and sense of humor in the writing. If you were watching a replay of a hilarious person's battle, it'd be no different than that of someone who was completely dull, since they have no impact on how the battle is presented in the replay. However, if that person had written a warstory, they'd actually have a chance to be, you guessed it, funny. Here's an example of how a Bronzong being hit by a Leaf Storm from Roserade was described in "A Warstory Devoid of Skarm/Bliss/Electivire" by Eo Ut Mortus:

The titanium robot shrugs off the whirlwind of leaves like McDonald's shrugging off reports of childhood obesity.

Anyone who thinks that lines like that aren't orders of magnitude better than watching the same PS! animations over and over again is crazy. The ability for the writer to add their individual voice to a warstory in a way that is impossible with a replay makes the warstory much more exciting as a medium, allowing for a greater range of expression and more engaging content. This is something that warstories will always have over replays. Just as even the most mundane tales can be made exciting by an expert storyteller, having a good writer retelling a battle is always bound to be more interesting than simply watching it as it happened. While it might seem like people will just skim through whatever you write and look for what happened, in reality they'll appreciate the effort you put forth into writing an entertaining piece and respond accordingly.

More Selective

This one might not seem to make sense at first, but think about it. Given how long it takes to make a warstory, people would be less likely to just pump out a bunch of bad warstories, and would instead try and polish a more interesting game. While this doesn't always play out in practice (looking at you, Gen 6 Warstory forum), it is certainly less of a problem than it is for replays, where the ease of sharing makes people likely to just take whatever semi-viewable battles they've had that day and post a link to them on a replay thread. At the very least, with warstories we can expect to see less of things like "I got 3 full paras and a crit on his main check to my sweeper, but other than that is was a pretty good game," which is something we can all be thankful for.

Example Warstories

If you still don't believe me, try reading a few for yourself. Here are some high quality warstories that you should check out:


While it might seem like replays are better than warstories, in reality there are many advantages held by warstories that allow them to deliver a much more enjoyable experience than any replay ever could. If you're interested in creating a warstory but don't know where to start, I'd recommend this article, which is a great way to learn what makes for a good warstory. While right now warstories are all but extinct, if we're lucky we can bear witness to a revival of an amazing format.

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