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Old 09-19-2011, 01:10 PM   #1
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(Because if I can get people interested, I might finally be able to get arsed about learning to use Vassal).

Because I'm tired of talking about my miniatures gaming crack habit and having everyone be "we don't know what you're talking about but that's nice, Blastoise," it's time to learn ya'll some Warmachine and Hordes. If it's anything like my old League of Legends thread, this thread will lie fallow for several months until people pick the game up and realize that I was nothing less than a prophet speaking the Great Truth to the ignorant masses. But enough of how awesome I am.

What the fuck is Warmahordes?

Warmachine and Hordes are skirmish-level miniatures games developed by Privateer Press. The game centers around characters called warcasters (Warmachine) and warlocks (Hordes), powerful battle wizards/priests/shaman/sapient undead KEIKAKU DOORI liches capable of controlling the powerful warjacks or warbeasts that are the cornerstone of each force's military might in the Iron Kingdoms setting. Most Warmahordes games focus on a battlegroup (a warcaster/lock and the warjacks/beasts he or she controls), supported by infantry troops and specialist solos.

What the fuck is the difference between Warmachine and Hordes?

The games are similar in a lot of ways: the two games are in fact compatible, so you can play Warmachine armies vs. Hordes armies and vice versa. The main difference between the two is how the warcaster/warlock interacts with their battlegroup:

Warmachine warcasters use the FOCUS system, where every turn a warcaster receives a certain amount of FOCUS that he can spend on spells, use for abilities, or to "boost" (roll an additional d6 on attack or damage rolls) his attacks and make them more effective. A warcaster can also give FOCUS to the warjacks he controls, which they can then use for their own purposes.

Hordes warlocks use the FURY system, and a warlock can spend FURY in similar ways that warcasters use FOCUS. However, instead of automatically generating FURY themselves, warlocks rely on leeching the FURY their beasts generate in the process of beating face in order to power their own abilities. This means that while Hordes generally has more FURY to play around with than Warmachine has FOCUS, they don't weather attrition nearly as well: a Victoria Haley with no warjacks is still a threat, while a Saeryn with no warbeasts is a pretty sad sack.

And also, warbeasts who generate too much FURY have the tendency to fly off the handle and chew the face off the nearest pud. Great if it's an enemy, not so much if it's your guy.

Game mechanics are boring, it's the factions that titillate me

Prepare to be titillated then, I guess.

Warmachine Factions

The Warmachine factions represent the major industrialized powers of the Iron Kingdoms setting. These are the guys with the big armies, the fancy uniforms, and the gritty trench warfare where thousands of lives are bled out over three inches of ground and their souls are harvested by undead abominations to use as fuel for their horrific industries. Yay gritty steampunk!


The "crown jewel" of the Iron Kingdoms, the nominal good guys, and therefore the fiction whipping boys, Cygnar is a wealthy, technologically advanced kingdom that is dedicated to finding ever more ways to make shit shoot lightning. Even in the face of Khador's imperialist warpath, even in the face of unyielding Menite zealotry, and even as Cryxian thrall hordes run riot, Cygnar will proudly eschew cost-effective, practical solutions in the quest to create ever more ridiculous bullshit.

In game terms, Cygnar is an "elite", combined-arms faction, focused more on troop quality and buffing spells/abilities than their ability to shove sheer numbers of troops down the enemy's throat. The most "shooty" of the Warmachine factions, they enjoy the ability to pump large amounts of accurate lead relatively far down the field, and even have some tools to ignore common ranged counter-abilities such as stealth. Unfortunately their melee units aren't the greatest, but that's the natural consequence of things when even your swords can shoot lightning (not far or well, but still).


An imperialist, manifest destiny-obsessed army from the icy north that makes absolutely no reference to Tzarist Russia in any way shape or form and you should be ashamed for even thinking so. The leadership of the mighty Khadoran war engine is in the capable hands of Supreme Kommandant Gurvaldt Irusk, a general so brilliant that he launched a major assault on a major Cygnaran city with like a bajillion undead in his army's backfield.

...hey, everyone has a bad day now and then.

Khador is a bit of a strange bird. Their big, slow, heavily armored warjacks (that will kick your ass if they get there, hey stop running so fast) give the impression of an army that is slow and heavy, but the Khadoran army also has access to speedy, lightly armored troops and abilities such as Pathfinder are relatively common. Of course, there are also Man-o-wars (dudes in slow, steam-powered armor) if you feel like you need your slow grindy infantry fix. Khador also loves them some inaccurate AOE weapons, and they also have the distinction of having one of the few light artillery pieces to actually be worth a shit (the Winterguard Mortar). Bombard then crush with overwhelming force is the Khadoran way.

The Protectorate of Menoth

A bunch of fire-obsessed religious zealots who live in the desert and are perpetually butthurt that not everyone thinks their Lawful Neutral Asshole god is the best god ever. No references to Abrahamic religions whatsoever, no siree. Also, they don't like wizards because Menoth is still butthurt that Thamar went behind his back during the annual Christmas party and gave magic to humanity while he was sleeping off the hangover. Given that warjacks are made using wizard magic, this raises a lot of theological questions that the priesthood does its best to not really think about.

Menoth is the synergy/buffy faction: many factions can buff, but nobody does it like Menoth. A prominent example is the Choir of Menoth, which sings songs that allow warjacks to hit like even bigger trucks and even avoid bullets because Menoth loathes semi-accurate shooting. There's also a strong theme of vengeance with Menite forces: killing a member of the faithful often causes side effects like "Blood of Martyrs just crushed your heavy like a tin can because it's mad that you killed Timmy the choir boy". Fighting Protectorate armies has sometimes been likened to carefully peeling an onion, if onions were pyromaniacal and fundamentalist sociopaths.


It's a faction full of steampunk zombies. I mean, there's more to it, like how Cryx was created by Toruk the Dragonfather to aid him in his quest to reclaim all the anthancs from his rebellious dragon brood and thus crown himself king of Dragon Highlander, but really if you're not here for the steampunk zombies why would you even bother?

Also allegedly the pet faction of Privateer Press' lead designer, which is not a particularly hard rumor to believe.

Cryx is the tricksy/debuffy faction. Of all the Warmachine factions they have access to the cheapest arc nodes (warjacks carrying equipment that let them fling spells from ridiculous ranges and angles), which helps quite a bit with Cryxian warcasters' wide access to debuff/offensive spells. Cryx units don't necessarily impress on paper, but with access to Cryx's wide array of debuffs (and a bullshit solo or two) they're more dangerous than they appear. And also undead is a stupid rule that ignores a ton of stuff (including common anti-infantry spells/abilities) so there's that.

(above: elves trying their best to appear manly)
Retribution of Scyrah

The Tau of Warmahordes in the sense that the designers felt there wasn't enough animu bullshit in their wargame. The elves of the Retribution brings their highly advanced myrmidons and ludicrously impractical sword designs to the battlefields of the Iron Kingdoms for the first time in recorded history, because human magic may or may not have been involved in the loss of their gods but they know a guy who knows a guy and they're elves so they need to prove they actually have balls and what better way to do that then some clean, wholesome genocide?

As the newest official Warmachine faciton the Retribution is still being filled out with releases, but they're a combined-arms force similar to Cygnar with highly specialized troops in each discipline: elites like the Dawnguard beat face in melee (or at ranged with their sword guns that were absolutely not inspired by a FFVIII bender), while Mage Hunters skulk from the shadows before filling the enemy with crossbow bolts that they can fire through fucking walls at models they can't even see (but not Stealth troops: don't ask me why, I don't know either). Of course, as a newish faction there are still some holes that need to be filled: enjoy having epic Lylyth be a hard counter to most of your tourney lists!


Mercenaries, as you might expect, can be hired to various official factions, offering unique skills and abilities that a faction might not have "in-house". Epic Eiryss is a popular choice for her crossbow bolts able to drain focus and remove buff spells from enemy models, while Gorman di Wulfe is a popular warcaster buddy who drops smoke clouds to protect his employer homies.

Of course, since some people have to be special fucking snowflakes, they wanted to play mercenaries all day every day. And so mercenary contracts were born, allowing players to feel morally superior for playing "the underdog" even as individual models such as the Thunderhead proved to be hard counters to their entire list. The contracts in no particular order:

The Highborn Covenant
Llael was a country that got its fudge packed by Khador early on in the fluff, nearly fully occupied in the space of less than a year because the Llaelese failed to realize that their love of court intrigue was a poor shield against Khadoran bullets. The Highborn Covenant contract represents the flailing efforts of the few rebel and noble holdouts, but they have a logo that bears more than a passing resemblance to a fleur de lis so you may as well wear pants with a back flap to more easily enable your buttfucking.

French-bashing aside, the Highborn Covenant is one of the "primary" contracts you'll see most merc players use. They have less selection in absolute terms than the Four Star Syndicate, but they get access to a few Cygnar units and a couple other benefits to compensate.

Four Star Syndicate

A contract the represents the ability of some crimelords to put enough money together to hire mercenary armies that can stand toe to toe with regular factions but nonetheless conduct profitable raids and other actions. Don't try to think about how the economics of this whole thing works.

This is as close to a "generic" contract as you get for mercenaries, since it has the widest selection of options.

The Searforge Commission

A contract full of dwarves who make sure that war doesn't interfere with the real business of makin' dat money. The fact that it's the "dwarf contract" alone means that many players will play it sight unseen.

Dwarves tend to be slow ("slower than Khador on a bad day" slow) and heavily armored, which would be good if their design was not completely antithetical to how Warmachine is actually played. With relatively limited options, only two warcasters and mediocre 'jacks the people who play this contract tend to be masochistic, dwarf lovers, people still butthurt that GW canned the squats, or some combination of the above.

The Talion Charter

The pirate mercenary contract. The company's called Privateer Press, for fuck's sake; it was bound to happen eventually.

The design of pirates tends to focus around a unit of Sea Dogs, with a variety of solos raising them from "cannon fodder" to "holy shit" levels. There's some fun to be had in this, but it does make them rather one note: it'll be a cold day in Hell before you see a pirate army that doesn't include Hawk, Grogspar, Lord Rockbottom, and Doc Killingsworth. Also, they don't much fancy fighting heavy armor, which kind of sucks when you see a Behemoth and a couple Devastators on the other side of the table.

Hordes Factions

The factions of Hordes represent the armies that prowl at the edge of the wilderness. What they lack in the raw numbers and resources of Warmachine factions they make up with gumption, the aid of ferocious warbeasts, and their huge fucking balls of steel.

And, in the case of the Skorne, the weaponized screams of tortured baby elephants. Seriously. That's an actual thing.


The "good guy" faction of Hordes, the trollkin were content to live in their villages drinking, feasting, and partying hard until the humans/undead/Skorne had to have themselves a big war and fuck it all up. After getting some raw deals from humanity, the trollkin decided they were going to have to fight for their right to party, and maybe have a party while they were fighting as a bonus.

The trollbloods are a buffy, "endure and retaliate" army. All their warrior models have Tough, a rule that allows them to avoid snuffing it on a d6 roll of 5 or 6, which means that you will make few friends when you inevitably have a hot streak and your opponent is forced to kill that same goddamn kriel warrior five fucking times. Their warbeasts are full-blooded trolls, which make up for their lack of brains with the ability to rip dudes in half, heal themselves, and heal themselves in the process of eating dudes that they just ripped in half.

Also, since most of the army is on medium (40mm) bases and above, they're a good army choice if you hate money.

Circle Orboros

A cabal of druids that believe that humanity is dangerously encroaching on the strength of Orboros, the primal embodiment of Caen. The druids believe that if humanity spreads too far and saps too much of Orboros' strength by building titty bars, tourist traps, and porta potties on important ley lines, Orboros will basically come back and fuck up everyone's shit to regain his strength. In order to ensure this doesn't happen, the druids engage in some good old fashioned eco terrorism, except where IRL eco-terrorists firebomb Hummers the Circle wields the forces of nature to blow towns up.

Needless to say, druids never get invited to any of the good parties.

What druids lack in punch and staying power they make up with in movement shenanigans: all warriors in the army have pathfinder, and common teleport/place effects allow the Circle to strike from unexpected angles and exploit even the smallest openings. This makes Circle very powerful in the right hands, but not an easy army to master: if you are a crybaby manbitch the Circle is not for you.


An alien race invading from the east that blah blah blah blah blah.

Look, the "war-obsessed, ethically fucktwisted alien invaders" trope exists in like half of all sci-fi/fantasy settings. Let's go through the checklist, shall we?

Does your generic warmongering alien culture/faction:
[X] Believe that might makes right?
[X] Believe that might makes right, and also that the weak exist to be shit on just because they can?
[X] Do bad evil things to show the world how bad evil they are?
[X] Have some fucked up obsession with pain/masochism?

So there you go. But it's all okay, because the Skorne have no gods and unless their souls are preserved in sacral stones they go to the Void and suffer torment unyielding for all eternity. And their home is a harsh wasteland in the east where everything's trying to kill them all day every day. Needless to say they're still kind of pissed about it.

In fiction, the Skorne are the largest and most organized Hordes faction, so in theory they're a combined arms army that relies on syngery and exploits pain/suffering for their own ends. In practice the faction is the namesake for the term "skornergy", or the idea that a model(s) has abilities that are supposed to work together but often instead work at cross purposes or create a sum less than their parts. Also, the prevailing attitude is that PP sort of didn't know what to do with the Skorne when they were playtesting the Mk II rules, so the faction has a wild oscillation of really cool stuff (Molik Karn, Nihilators) and total dogshit (Rhinodon, Karax). If you need your faction to be masochistic in the fluff AND in play, the Skorne are for you!

Legion of Everblight

In the Iron Kingdoms, the core of every dragon is a heart stone called an athanc. This is the true form of the dragon: its flesh and blood are merely convenient mechanisms for moving about and ruining people's shit. So long as the athanc endures so does the dragon, and the only known way for an athanc to be "destroyed" is when it is consumed by another dragon, obliterating the vanquished and adding their strength to the victorious.

This background knowledge is kind of important, since technically the dragon Everblight has no body. Incidentally, he lost his body when it was destroyed by elves. This may or may not be one of the primary reasons that other dragons think he's a fucking chump.

Anyways, after a lengthy discussion between the elves of "well, we're not keeping it at MY house," Everblight's athanc was deposited in a warded vessel on top of a mountain to ensure that Everblight would not be able to regrow his body and fuck up the elves some more (because they're elves: just because they technically won doesn't mean they didn't get their shit pushed in in the process). They didn't do a very good job, since Everblight managed to break free AND use his blighted energy to corrupt nearly the whole of their winter elf cousins into his service. Aware that regrowing his body will take a long time and leave him vulnerable without allies and converts, shards of Everblight's athanc reside in each of his chosen generals, who command mighty dragonspawn created through their own spilled blood to rip and tear anything that stands in Everblight's way.

So basically it's an army with fucking dragons, which immediately makes it awesome and also helps you overlook the fact that the army also has some elves tagging along.

Anyways, despite being named the Legion of Everblight, the LoE is not much of a zerg/numbers army: instead, this is the army you play if you want to monster mash. The dragonspawn of the Legion are stupid fucking fast, hit stupid fucking hard, and commonly have Eyeless Sight, Wings, and Pathfinder (ie "rules are for other people"). Solos like the Forsaken and Shepherds help further increase the Legion's beast superiority by allowing to push your warbeasts far harder than any other Hordes faction can hope to match, and many of the Legion's top tier warlocks are heavily focused on warbeasts with their feats and abilities (Vayl, Saeryn, epic Thagrosh being notable examples). All this love and attention on warbeasts means that any infantry you take has to be relatively self-sufficient, since they won't be getting much support. Regardless, it's easy enough to make a Legion army with more dragons than elves in it (admittedly depending on whether you think the Forsaken still qualifies as an elf), and therefore this is the super best faction ever and if you don't think so you are wrong.

Also I play Legion, so I am not at all biased.


Minions are the Hordes equivalent of mercenaries, except where mercenaries are hired to do work for pay minions might have been enslaved or coerced by their masters to be used as cannon fodder. Yay gritty steampunk!

Like mercenaries, minions have contracts that allow special fucking snowflakes to play something different from everyone else. By and large this is cool, since what minions currently lack in breadth of selection they make up for in pure fucking awesome:

The Thornfall Alliance

A bunch of boar men marauders being led by Lord Carver, a combination of Conan the Barbarian and General Butt Naked. This faction also hosts Dr. Arkadius, the de facto ethically lax mad scientist who one day woke up and said to himself, "you know what would be cool? Sticking a fucking steam engine in a giant boar."

The Blindwater Congregation

A minion pact/cult full of voodoo gatormen, led by a leader who's convinced that by having his people worship him and provoking a huge, huge, HUGE bloody battle he can use their adulation and the energies of death to become a god. But really, if I didn't have you at "voodoo gatormen" you probably don't have a soul.

Okay, sounds good. How do I get started?

1. Find a rulebook at your friendly LGS or...other places. You'll want the Warmachine/Hordes Prime Mk II rulebook(s), depending on what faction you plan on playing. You might also want to pick up a Forces of Warmachine/Hordes book for your faction, although it's not strictly necessary (since stat/rule cards come with models and units you buy).

2. Find a press ganger/player to teach you how to play. This is a good time to be learning the game, since GW has pissed off its playerbase so badly that it's now possible to have a Warmahordes thread in /tg/ without constant sages and "warskub" references. Press gangers in particular will usually have at least a couple battle box sets that they use to teach new players the game.

3. Buy/find/trade/steal/play on Vassal a battlebox for your faction. Note that the Retribution, mercenary, and minion factions don't have a battle box, so getting started with them will be more expensive since you have to buy everything individually. Alternatively there's the two player battle box which is a nice deal if you and/or a friend want to get into the game and you're interested in Khador or the Protectorate.

And with those three simple steps, you'll be well on your way to spending hundreds of dollars on little metal men, sacrificing your dignity and respect to be the king of the 4'x4' table. Go you!
"It does not matter anymore. We cannot change the past. The future will have to do."
-Windham Khatib
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Old 09-19-2011, 01:29 PM   #2
Lonely Cubone
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I'll be honest and admit I haven't actually read your post yet, but Privateer make some gorgeous minis. Want to grab some to paint up, but that seems a little unwise.
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Old 09-19-2011, 02:27 PM   #3
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Holy fuck this looks amazing.

Fuck my friends who don't like miniature based games. I WANT THESE RIGHT FUCKING NOW
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Old 09-19-2011, 02:49 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by deoxys View Post
Holy fuck this looks amazing.

Fuck my friends who don't like miniature based games. I WANT THESE RIGHT FUCKING NOW
I've found that games like this are niche enough that you generally have to find people who play rather than hoping you can get your friends to bite.

Googling "tabletop gaming stores (your state here)" is a good start, as is using stuff like PP's Retail Info forum to find out where events (and by extension, the game) is played. Alternatively if there's enough interest I could probably be arsed to learn Vassal and teach/play with people that way.
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Old 09-19-2011, 08:20 PM   #5
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So yeah, read the thread properly and it inspired me to go back and look at various miniatures games/companies I used to have an interest in.

Pretty depressing picture really, Rackham having gone bust totally is a real shame because they made some of the best models going around a few years back.
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Old 04-11-2016, 10:04 PM   #6
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I know you kids love your edition wars, so Warmahordes is coming out with a new edition in June with the base rules free online before release. Also new starter boxes with playmats and fewer "ah shit, what do we actually have cast and lying around in the warehouse" loadouts.


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