Privateer Press – Warmachine

Last August (2012) I decided to finally get off the Games Workshop bandwagon and give some other wargames a go. Now I’ve always liked the look of Privateer Press’s Warmachine game, so I figured what the hell?

I approached my local Press-ganger and asked him to teach me how to play.

Now I don’t know if you know much about Warmachine, so forgive me if I repeat stuff you already know. Warmachine is a steampunk esque game mixing giant steam powered robots with magic. The factions are pretty straight forward, you have the gunline and electricity loving Cygnar, the undead soul munching Cryxx, the relgious ‘burn the heathens’ Menoth, the Soviet-esque brute force and cold Khador and the ancient and shielded Scyrah. Each faction has its own favourite weapons and tactics, but somehow its all really well balanced. (As a separate aside, Hordes, PPs fantasy wargame, is completely compatible with Warmachine – the only differences are in damage and the primary power mechanic – focus for Warmachine, Fury for Hordes. However if you know how to play one, you can play the other! The other really ncie thing is you CAN play Hordes vs Warmachine and it is still balanced though with different power curves; however I’ll talk about Hordes and the power curves in a later post).

So for my demo game, I grabbed a Cygnar whilst my Pressganger grabbed Menoth. We used the basic ~£30 battlebox (each contains a warcaster and a 2-3 Jacks – Jacks are the steam powered robots of awesome).

Anyway, my press-ganger did his job, was suitably enthusiastic and explained the mechanics and rules really well, I even won the game. So I signed up for our local wargames club’s Journeyman league.

A Journeyman league is a fantastic way to get into Warmachine/Hordes. It’s a 6 week league with points for games played/won and points for painting your models (I love this idea)! Basically choose a faction and buy the battlebox – in week 1 you use this. In week 2 you now have a budget of 15 points (A battlebox is about 15 points, some just slightly under) so you can add a solo to the team if you wish but you must still use the models in the battlebox. Week three bumps the points to 25 – still using the stuff in the battlebox, but now you can add some neat stuff like infantry, some more solos, maybe even another jack if you want. In Week 4, it remains at 25 points but you can replace the warcaster from the battlebox with any other warcaster for your faction – you still have to keep the rest of the box though. In Week 5 points climb again, to 35 (pretty much what I think is standard points for most games), you can use either of your casters but you have to keep on using the battlebox. In Week 6, the final week, you can go nuts 35 points, free for all on the faction model choices.

Now, I was the newest player for our league,  was outclassed by everyone else who was playing – I won 1 game out of the 8-9 I managed to fit in over that time but I came first for the painting ( decided o go with purple over the usual Cygnar blue – see the bottom of this post for some examples (I’ll discuss the paint scheme later too)). The points that got me propelled me to 2nd/3rd in the league – not bad for a noob, plus I learned a on about playing Cygnar.

In terms of how Warmachine compares to 40k, well, I like both. 40k has a simplicity of tactics that makes it much easier to learn; generally you go towards the enemy and first one to charge usually wins, in my experience this is not true for Warmachine. However, as with all warames, the movement phase is the most important. In 40k you can be sloppy and the game will forgive you; in Warmachine the movement for each of your models, the order in which they activate (each model gets to move, then do an action like punch someone, cast a spell, shoot, etc. before you do the same for the next mode, until all  your models have activated), all of which can be critical and Warmachine does not forgive you for making mistakes.

It may sound like Warmachne is just plain nasty when described like that but I’d argue that its closer to the equivalent of going from playing with duplo to lego – both are fun, but we all know that lego is for the big boys and gals, who know the basics of how it should fit together.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to insult 40k – what it does, it does really well, but for me, and this is just an opinion, I’m drifiting away from it, mostly on principles but I’ll discuss that in a later post I think as it’s a tad to detracting to put here.

In any case, don’t take it from me – get out to your local clubs, find out who your local press-ganger is and ask for a demo game – join a Journeyman league. Just give it a try.

Oh, and by the way, now is a good time to do this. Privateer Press announced a new faction earlier this month – looks kinda like cyborg spell casters to me – all very awesome looking and as part of it, PP are doing a year long story campaign split over four seasons, each lasting a month, to introduce them. Go check out the preview video for the Convergence of Cyriss on youtube.

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