This review will focus on what has been something of an awakening for me in gaming terms. Before two local lads looking to start up their own business decided to hawk something other than Games Workshops fare, nobody in my group (that were not Warhammer Ancients players, spending more time looking in the rule books than playing the game…) had fully committed to another game. There was some dabbling in Full Thrust but nothing solid ever took off there. Only a couple of us got fleets to play with and one of the ancients players who had played it before and already had a fleet, took me and a friend on and introduced us to what, exactly, Phalons can do. It was not pretty, and it was slightly unfair the way it was done to us. I’ll leave you with an analogy regarding posterial invasion to give you an idea of the feeling. But i digress…
When Warmachine, brought to you by Privateer Press, was first introduced to me, pictorially via No Quarter Magazine, I really took to the look of the Menites straight away. Primarily due to The Harbinger Of Menoth. An utterly astounding model even 4 years later and one I have never had the “Sputniks” to buy let alone paint. Anyway a game was duly proxied and much filth ensued on both sides. What is not to love about steam powered psychically controlled robots, controlled by powerful warrior wizards? Since I was facing a Cryxian army, with the inevitable Banes (Essentially Skeletal warriors 2.0. Start playing with, or against, Cryx and you will see what I mean.) I took great joy in popping Harbingers feat (Once only spell type effects with a large effect on the game) and watching them die. The next game, due to the wording of the feat, lead to them marching towards me backwards, which was even funnier and solidified this games place in my heart.
The Warmachine setting is immersive. The Iron Kingdoms, part of the continent of Immoren, is the setting for Warmachine. The Iron Kingdoms consist of :
Cygnar: I always thought of them as Americans though thats not completely accurate. Excelling at a combined arms approach mainly, with a heavier lean towards ranged weapons, as well as bringing advanced (in Warmachine terms) Electricity based death leaping from person to person. Not my favorite faction by any means.
The Protectorate of Menoth: Originally a part of the Cygnaran nation, consisting of masses of religious zealots following the True Law. They were forced to break away after a civil war they lost. Gods are a fact in Immoren, the Menites want you to pay proper homage to the creator of mankind, Menoth. If you don’t, they will find you, Wrack you and burn you. So watch it!
Khador: Psuedo Russians, very much interested in the motherland. Lead by an expansionist Empress seeking to reclaim lands previously annexed by them. Their combat doctrine is big heavy things to smash you aside with. Its all basic but Huge! *mild spoilers* The story line as it stands has Khador invading parts of Cygnar and largely crushing the nation of Llael completely, except for the bit the Menites took over.
Cryx: Not strictly an Iron Kingdom, but who’s going to argue with a nation of Dragon worshipping dead people? Toruk, the immortal dragonfather, sits waiting for one of his children to mess up so he can track it down and consume it. Essetially your undead faction with copious amounts of Iron thrown in. The Nightmare Empire, as it is known is off the mainland and heavily piratical. But no nation is in a hurry to try and go there.
The Retribution Of Scyrah: Again, not an Iron kingdom, or even a nation per say. The Elven nation of Ios believes their gods are dead, mostly. The one they had remaining is slowly expiring in her temple. Another one was recently found and recovered however. Basically the Elven gods left their people to save them but it didn’t work. The Retribution was a rogue sect that believed that human magic is responsible for the death of their gods and the arrival of “souless” elven children. For this reason they intend to kill all human spellcasters, and most other humans as well. Just for good measure. The rediscovery of their gods has caused an upsurge in popularity for the Retribution to the point that they have gone on a far wider offensive, invading sovereign lands, if temporarily, in an effort to save their remaining gods and find any others that may be out there using their highly advanced technology and magic. My present second faction.
Mercenaries: Obviously not a Nation really. It does however account for the remaining Llaelese forces and introduces this settings Dwarven people, The Rhulics. As well as various soldiers for hire and ner-do-wells and… Pirates!. There is really not much more to say about them. There is to much character within the faction that I couldn’t possibly bring it all here in one go. This is my main faction at the moment and I love ‘em!
Click on the faction images above to visit their gallery pages on the Privateer Press website.
The fluff in general is very well written throughout the various books and differs to anything GW related (or anything else I’ve come across so far) in that each book progresses the story line of the Iron Kingdoms as well as for each faction at the same time. One of the best things about this is it makes it very difficult for the background to just be wiped out and re-written (*cough* Necrons *cough*) Another advantage is that you can see a coherent progression throughout the books and it is worth your while getting each one as they come out, since they will all have something for your army in fluff as well as in models and rules.
This is an area that Warmachine really opened my eyes. Before Warmachine I did not know that you could have a coherent rulebook. Games Workshop had only just found out about indices and gave it a half hearted go, pretty unsuccessfully. The Warmachine rulebook in Mk1 was clear. There was very little ambiguity compared to GWs offerings at the time. There were problems no doubt, not least the sheer number of special rules. But they resolved this with the Mk2 release. The rules as they stand now are once again very clear for the most part. As with any game of this nature, stuff crops up. There are FAQs that deal with these issues but there has not been a need for masses of these. Playing Warmachine I have not spent nearly hours arguing with people about how a rule works with Warmachine whereas games have had to be abandoned due to rule disagreements in Warhammer. The mechanic is based on 2D6. I found this can take a bit of getting used to but you do everything flows very nicely.
An example of this mechanic: You use your models MAT statistic (Melee ATtack) and add this to the roll of 2D6. Then compare this to the targets DEF statistic. If your total is equal to or higher than the targets defence then you have hit! Very simple really.
A central mechanic of this game is the Focus mechanic. Focus is the resource your warrior-wizard has to spend each turn. He can allocate up to three to each Warjack (or massive steam powered robot if you prefer) he controls to improve their combat ability; add a die to any “to hit” and/or “to damage” roll he makes; buy additional attacks or cast spells. This warrior-wizard, known as a Warcaster, is the commander of your army and most important piece. If he dies, in most game scenarios, you lose the game. This adds a strategic element to the game that few other games offer. You want your warcaster involved for their spells and abilities and also their “feat”. But at the same time your warcaster will not survive out on his own. A feat is a type of spell that you can only use once per game. It will often give you a large advantage for a round or effect you opponents in some way. Some will allow you to complete the game, others will allow you to recover from the precipice.
Individual models have rules of their own and these are covered by stat cards. I have found stat cards to be a very good way of keeping track of things in the game. Far easier than an enormous books with endless page flipping. The cards are there in front of you. This brings me to possibly the best thing about this game. Its in the rules that you MUST share the info on your models if asked to. So if someone wants to look at your cards, you have to give them up. There is no excuse for failing something because you did not know the rule. Any time you ask to see your opponents cards, he must show you them. So you can plan appropriately. If you fail due to a rules quirk, its your own stupid fault.
The artwork for Warmachine is truly fantastic…
Warmachne truly has some of the best artwork I have ever seen for any game…
Here is a selection of Warcaster and Warjack models..
And thats all for now. Be sure to keep a look out for reviews of other games that I have planned, including Gruntz, Three Plains, and Dystopian Wars!