CircleVSkorne.jpg

by Zac Belado

Introduction

If you’ve heard the buzz about Warmachine and Hordes, that’s because they’re two of the most popular and quickest growing tabletop miniature games on the market.

These two 30mm fantasy skirmish miniature games produced by Privateer Press (which produces both miniatures as well as rulebooks and expansions for both games) are distinct in their game mechanics and approaches to fantasy gaming, but are nevertheless designed for combined play.

Warmachine and Hordes are set in the same fantasy world, called Caen, and have many of the standard fantasy tropes, including elves, dwarves, trolls, ogres and dragons. While Hordes is aimed at a more standard fantasy market, Warmachine introduces steampunk elements like gunpowder weapons and Tesla-inspired electric weapons.

Each game consists of four core factions. In Warmachine, the factions are Cygnar, Khador, Cryx, and Protectorate. Each faction in a game has a particular focus that helps to set it apart from the others. Cygnar has high-tech electrical weapons; Protectorate focuses on sacrifice of its troops as well as fire-based attacks; Khador relies on brute strength and ice-based attacks, and Cryx attempts to corrupt the minds and bodies of its opponents.

In Hordes, the factions are Circle Oroboros, Trollbloods, Legion, and Skorne. The Trollblood faction uses offensive and defensive boosts as well as spells that add new physical capabilities to its units; Circle Oroboros are Druids who favor earth based magic and constructs made from natural materials; tbe Skorne are a brutal race of slavers who gain power through physical pain, and the Legion of Everblight uses draconic energy to create new, twisted creatures to fight for it. In addition, each game includes a series of mercenary models that can be used by other factions or as armies on their own.

Getting Started

Each faction has its own starter set, which includes a Warcaster or Warlock and two to five Warjacks or Warbeasts. These starter sets all retail for $49.99, and the figures in the Starter Sets are made of the plastic/resin material that Privateer Press uses for some of its popular models. The sets include all of the cards required for the models, a poster, and a Quick Start Rules sheet that lets gamers play without having to buy the core rulebook.

Privateer also sells a Two Player Battle Box for Warmachine, which includes a Warlock, a full medium based Troop unit, two Khador Warjacks, three Menoth Warjacks, a travel sized rulebook, dice, and a ruler.

FireOfSalvation.jpg

Privateer Press has also released a similar Two Player Battle Box for Hordes that includes miniatures for the Circle and Legion factions with Warlock, medium based infantry, and three or four Warbeasts. Privateer has priced these very competitively at the combined cost of two Starter Sets, because for the price of two starter sets, players will also get the rules, dice and some additional printed material, introducing them to the game as well as the fictional universe in which Hordes and Warmachine are set.

New players then have two entry points into the Hordes and Warmachine games. The most inexpensive are the individual faction Starter Sets, but the Two Player Battle Box comes with the full rules and also a variant starter army allowing players to pick a starting army that fits their playing styles better, all Warjacks or Warbeasts or a combination of infantry and Warbeasts or Warjacks.

Doomshaper.jpg

The plastic Warjack and Warbeast models that come in the Starter Sets and the Two Player Battle Boxes are the same as the individual Warjack and Warbeast models that Privateer makes available, but they only come with the parts and cards for a single unit. So, the Khador Heavy Warjacks in the Starter Set only allow you to build two of the Heavy Warjacks, unlike the Heavy Warjack boxed model, which includes the parts for three models.

Building an army

Each army in both Warmachine and Hordes is centered on a main spellcaster: either a Warlock (in Hordes), or a Warcaster (in Warmachine). Games almost always end when one Warlock or Warcaster is removed from play. Players can also add Warjacks and Warbeasts, Solos, and units of Troops to their armies.

Warjacks and Warbeasts generally come in two sizes: Light and Heavy. The larger the model, the more damage it can take and dish out, and the more abilities it has. Players can include as many Warjacks and Warbeasts in their armies as they can afford. There are some unique units called Character models that can only be included in a force once. These Character models are primarily Warjacks or Warbeasts.

Solos are models that represent individual spell casters, non-magical soldiers, and monsters  that can be included in armies. Some of these Solos are also Characters (like the Character Solo Arlen Strangeways for the Cygnar faction) and can thus only be included once in a force. They aren't as powerful as Warcasters and Warlocks, but they allow players to add addition spells or abilities to an army.

Generally, players can also include Mercenary and Minion Solos in their armies. For example, a Cygnar player could add an Ogre bodyguard to his army to guard his Warcaster, or a Circle player could supplement his army with an expert marksmen.

Both Hordes and Warmachine have a single core rulebook available for purchase. These softcover books are lavishly illustrated and include the core rules, stats and fiction for about a third of the units available for each faction, as well as some Mercenaries and Minions and some background fiction to introduce players to the games’ universe. Privateer Press is unique in that the storyline for their universe is not static and expands and develops with the release of each new expansion or supplement. Unlike games such as 40K or Warhammer Fantasy, the Warmachine universe is dynamic and players can keep up with that changing storyline.

ConvergenceOfCyriss.jpg

Each army usually has a number of troop-based units that can be added to an army. Troops are either of available in units of 6 or 10 for smaller based models (based on 30mm bases) or 3 or 5 for medium based models (based on 40mm bases).

Privateer Press has updated its packaging, and troop units are available in boxes that have a full compliment of models. Previously the unit boxes contained the minimum number of models needed (six at the time) and upgrade packs were available as individual blisters, but now there is a single SKU for each Troop unit.

Some Troop units can also have Unit Attachments (typically abbreviated as UA) or Weapon Attachments (abbreviated as WA). Unit Attachments are typically officers and standard bearers, or similar models that add new abilities to a unit. Weapon Attachments are typically single models that add a new type of weapon to a unit. UAs are restricted to one per Troop unit but WAs can often be added to a unit up to three times.

The base army building system in Warmachine and Hordes is quite simple, so most gamers will pick it up quickly. For more experienced gamers, or players looking for a challenge, Privateer Press offers what it calls Tier Lists for each Warcaster or Warlock. Each Tier List is a set of four restrictions and accompanying advantages, which players can use to limit their army building options and also unlock advantages like price reductions for certain units, free Solos etc. Of course, Themed Forces are optional so new players can enter the game without needing to understand them.

Rulebooks and Expansions

Both Hordes and Warmachine have a single core rulebook available for purchase. These softcover books are lavishly illustrated and include the core rules, stats and fiction for about a third of the units available for each faction, as well as some Mercenaries and Minions and some background fiction to introduce players to the games’ universe. Privateer Press is unique in that the storyline for their universe is not static and expands and develops with the release of each new expansion or supplement. Unlike games such as 40K or Warhammer Fantasy, the Warmachine universe is dynamic and players can keep up with that changing storyline.

Ravagore.jpg

Each game, Hordes and Warmachine, also has a series of supplements called Forces or Warmachine or Forces of Hordes. Each book provides background for a single faction including full color art, stats, and tactical tips for all of the units for that faction. These books are printed in full color and include the same vibrant artwork and design that is a hallmark of Privateer Press. These supplements also include the Tier Lists for each Warcaster or Warlock.

Since the revision of the Warmachine and Hordes into the Mark II (or MK II) rules, Privateer has released two expansions for Warmachine; Wrath and Colossals. Both books have added new units to the Warmachine game as well as rules and stats for the Battle Engine and Colossal models. Battle Engines and Colossals are new types of units in Warmachine that are significantly larger than the existing Warjacks. They are hybrid resin and metal model kits that provide gamers with a new, challenging, expansion to the game as well as an exciting modelling and painting challenge. Hordes has two expansions currently available, called Domination and Gargantuan, that include new units and the Hordes Battle Engines.

Warmachine currently has a range of nine books available (the core rulebook, six Forces of Warmachine books, Wrath and Colossals) and Hordes has eight (the core rulebook, the five Forces of Hordes books and the Domination and Gargantuan expansions). These books are available in softcover versions and at the time of release they are also available in special hardcover editions.

Release Schedule

LegionOfEverblight.jpg

Privateer Press has a novel way of introducing new models to its player base. While the supplements such as Wrath and Domination include rules and stats for new models, the models themselves are released in small increments prior to and after the release of the printed supplement. Units and rules are also often previewed in Privateer Press' bi-monthly No Quarter Magazine. During the course of a year Privateer will continue to release models (all of which contain the required stat cards) either in anticipation of or after the release of a supplement. This means that gamers will have a near constant set of releases for their Warmachine or Hordes factions. This helps to keep players interested in the game while also reduces the glut of new releases that is traditional for some other games when supplements are released. The game's increasing complexity is kept to a minimum for current players and retailers do not have to worry about the influx of an inordinate number of new SKUs.

Images originating from the Privateer Press website are © 2001—2013 Privateer Press, Inc. All Rights Reserved. WARMACHINE ®, HORDES, and their logos are trademarks of Privateer Press, Inc. Images and trademarks used without permission. This website is unofficial and is not endorsed by Privateer Press.

Comment