Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Picking a faction - A NOOBs guide to Warmachine part 2

Picking a faction for Warmachine

As I said in the previous post, don’t rush into this. Play some games with friend’s models, learn the basics, read up on the factions and find what suits you best. 

I recommend starting small, with a battlegroup or warpack and building up your force relatively slowly. This will allow you to get a feel for what you like to play and not waste buckets of cash on models you won’t use. 

I’ll run through the factions quickly to give you an idea of what they are about. Consider this a starting point to look further into making your own decision. Actually…. That’s a good point. Make sure you play what you want to play and not what you’re told is “SUPER OMG AWESOME POWERED”.
I'll briefly talk about each faction, I won’t talk at much length about the warlock/casters as.... well... they are all so individual. There really isn't a "standard generic" caster for any faction. I'll just talk about some broad themes, and in some cases I’ll be dead wrong as I'm not an expert.   

Circle Orboros
Vicious Druids leading armies of feral monsters  

Why would I play Circle? 

If you like the idea of a hard hitting, fast moving force the Circle Orboros could be perfect for you. Also, if you like pagan blood rites and/or Morris dancing these guys could be right up your alley. 

What do they look like? 

The imagery for the Circle Orboros is made of a mixture of Celtic Druids, Werewolves, Barbarians, Tree Monsters, Hunters and Miniature Stonehenge’s. 

They are pretty much medieval eco-terrorists. If you like your models looking feral and barbaric, these guys are the way to go.  
How do they Play?

The Circle is all about speed and controlling battlefield terrain. Many of their troops have pathfinder, which allows them to move through rough terrain quickly. The Circle has ways to create forests on the board, slowing down their opponents but not themselves. They also have some ways of quickly moving troops around the board, such as teleportation stones. 

Circle beasts fall into two categories, fast and deadly (living) or slow and tough (constructs). Their infantry focuses on speed and accuracy over heavy armour and firepower.

Circle are considered a "high skill" faction by many people, as many units fall into the "glass cannon" category. Amazingly effective when used well, but if unsupported, they die very quickly. 

Honourable do-gooders with cannons and lightning.   

Why would I play Cygnar? 

If you like ranged firepower and high tech weapons, Cygnar is the faction for you. If you ever think “this unit would be much better if it had more guns… and lightning”… then Cygnar is the one for you. Also, if you like putting your fingers in electric sockets and have a picture of Nikola Tesla on your wall…. You’re probably a Cygnar player.  

What do they look like? 

Cygnar troops are a mix of Gritty World War I style ground pounding infantry, pistol wielding trenchcoat wearing Gun Mages, medieval knights and dudes wearing electrical power armour. That sounds like an odd mix but it does work. Just think of technology as another form of magic and its fine. 

Cygnar Warjacks have similar themes, ranging from gun platforms through to shield carrying/spear wielding melee monsters. Cygnar jacks tend to be quite mobile and moderately armoured. Their best traits are usually high tech kit, like massive guns or electrical projectors.  

How do they play?

You can play a Cygnar army full of melee troops, but it would be non-typical. Cygnar’s strength is with its guns. The key thing to understand is that you probably won’t shoot anyone off the board. Your firepower should be used to whittle down the opponent and snipe out the key targets. The key is to inflict enough damage with your firepower to win the assaults that come after. 

Cygnar tends to have expensive units too, guns come with premium pricing and you will almost always be out numbered. Cygnar are also pretty good at killing opponents Warcasters, as all that ranged firepower can easily be brought to bear on one target. (Note, this is how I win all my games as Cygnar, seems I suck at scenarios with complex rules but can kill casters)

Convergence of Cyriss 
Art-deco technomages and clockwork constructs    

Why would I play Convergence? (CoC)

When you watched the Terminator, Battlestar Galactica and the Cybermen from Dr Who, were you cheering for the robots? Does the idea of a ordered society ruled by the law of SCIENCE! appeal to you? Do you really like the imagery of Metropolis?

If you answered yes to the questions above you are probably already worshiping Cyriss the Clockwork goddess and should pick up a damned army.

It's worth noting that PP have said that CoC is not a "main" faction and may not be getting as many updates as the others in the future. If the idea of having a list that will expand slower than others appeals, then CoC sounds like a good option for you. Also good if you just want to get in on the newest thing,

What do they look like? 

Giant art deco robots.......

Yep, its pretty much an entire robot army, but that has a lot of possibilities from tiny killer robots, to colossal killer robots.

They also have some breathtaking winged models as well.

How do they play?

From my limited exposure to this list it's hard to say much more than this.

They seemed to be quite jack focussed and their jacks stats and abilities change based on the Warcaster. They are extremely focus efficient compared to most other Warmachine factions as they can pass off some focus to another jack when they spend it. Coordination and timing of attack sis integral to the CoC game style. They don't seem to be a faction where you can really run off models by themselves to do wacky things.

Beyond that, I can't comment much more until i play them some.

Evil techno-necromantic undead with a side helping of piracy

Why would I play Cryx? 

Are you a ruthless evil bastard? If you answer YES, YES I AM, AND I HATE PUPPIES! Then Cryx is certainly a faction for you.  Cryx is a high risk/high reward faction with a list of dirty tricks as long as your arm. If Resurrecting forces, making them invisible and incorporeal, launching magic attacks from any angle, cursing and using people souls and corpses against them sounds like a good time, then Cryx should appeal. 

What do they look like? 

The undead of the Iron Kingdoms are a little different, there’s a lot of steam powered necromancy, big dark gothic soul engines and undead with mechanical parts. They also have a good number of nautical themed units to appeal to those of you who wish to play “Ghost Pirates” 

There is a Gigeresque biomechanical feel to most of Cryx. Machine and dead flesh merged into horrid monstrosities. 

How do they play?

Cryx can play many ways and have many many options. Speed and numbers are two major strengths and Cryx can overwhelm with hordes of undead that refuse to stay down. They also have a lot of stealth and ghostly (incorporeal) units that are incredibly hard to deal with for some armies. 

A lot of Cryx powers are fuelled by corpses and souls; the more the kill the more powerful they become. This can lead to some devastating combos and Cryx Warcasters running around with godly amounts of power. They also have a high level of resurrection and replenishment mechanics. Sometimes, you have to kill a Cryx trooper a lot more than once. 

They also have these fast moving annoying little Warjacks called “bonejacks”. A lot of bonejacks have these things called Arc Nodes that allow their Warcaster to cast spells through them. This allows casters to sit back and use their bonejacks to attack from any number of annoying angles.  

Imperial Russians with REALLY BIG WARJACKS

Why would I play Khador? 

Consider the following scenarios and contemplate your response. 
1.)    Your opponent is dug in on a hill with long ranged weapons
2.)    Your opponent has a fast moving force and will try to outflank you
3.)    Your opponent has a horde of melee troops and is rushing at you

If you answer “I SMASH THEM FOR GLORIOUS MOTHER RUSSIA” to all scenarios, then Khador is the faction for you.  

What do they look like? 

The Warjacks are big hulking slabs of metal, the biggest and baddest machines in the setting. Khador doesn’t have light Warjacks, only super heavies. They are supported by men in “manowar” battlesuits, so their heavy infantry is almost the size of a light Warjacks. 

In addition to the battlesuit infantry they have a great range of other troops, including the winter guard (soviet peasant soliders), Widowmakers (Soviet peasant snipers), greylords (Mages with furhats and massive beards!) and Reavers (masked maniacs with enchanted swords). 

You really have to like big armour and fur hats is all I’m saying. 

How do they play?

Khador looks like an Iron fist faction. But they do tend to play a little differently to that. For the most part, you are unlikely to field more than 1 or 2 of their big stompy powerful warjacks. And while the big power armoured infantry look cool, lighter infantry tends to be the core of the average Khador force.
Many of their Warcasters allow their otherwise slow Warjacks to move with disturbing alacrity. And they hit as hard as anything in the game. They lack arc-nodes and ways to project spells, so casters are either "sit back and command" types, or hand to hand monsters. No one in the Iron Kingdoms is scarier at close range than the Butcher, in all 3 of his incarnations.

So while Khador looks like a heavy jack army, in order to get the best out of your lumbering monsters they will need to be supported by infantry and buff. Khador also has one of the best "core" infantry units in the game and the levels of buffs that can be added to a regular group of "winter guard" is dazzling.

Legion of Everblight
Bioengineered and corrupt dark elves and dragonspawn

Why would I play Legion of Everblight? 

Ask yourself, who would win in an arm wrestle, you or God. If you answered you, WELCOME TO THE LEGION!  Everblight is an evil Dragon with a massive god complex, who corrupts everything he touches and loves bioengineering new and interesting forms. His followers are all mutated in some way and his beasts are his spawn.

If you really like creepy looking monsters covered in spikey bits, you’re gonna love the Legion. If you also like creepy dark elves you’re also gonna like them. And if you’re the guy who cheers for the serial killer in horror movies …. well enough said really. 

What do they look like? 

Kind of horrible really: The beasts are all giant eyeless monsters with very big fangs and claws. Some are built very solidly, like walking biomechanical warmachines, whereas others are lithe and nimble. Some of them slither like snakes and some fly. All in all, the unifying theme is creepy dragon monsters. 

The infantry fits into three major categories:

·         Corrupt Dark elves; wearing light armour, moving quickly and carrying deadly weapons,
·         Corrupt Ogres; wearing heavy armour, moving slowly and carrying really deadly weapons.
·         Really Corrupt things. Creatures that are so deformed and mutated you don’t really know what they started as….. carrying a range of weapons.

How do they play?

The Legion are fast moving and have very good ranged firepower.  Their signature power is eyeless sight, which allows them to ignore smoke/forests and other forms of concealment. So if your opponents thinks cowering in trees or behind smoke grenades will keep them safe, they are very much mistaken. 

The Legions beasts have some devastating ranged attacks, but they can also back that up in melee quite well, not the toughest beasts in the game but the combination of speed, ranged firepower and melee strength more than compensates for their below average toughness. They also have access to cheap tiny warbeasts that can swarm and are annoying hard to kill for very cheap models.

The Legion hits hard and plays dirty. They also have a lot of fury management skills that mean they can run more warbeasts than other factions. In fact, some people play with only a handful of troops and all beasts. 

Mercenaries and Minions
War pigs, Sell swords, renegades, rogues, pirates, dwarves and Voodoo Gatormen

It’s pretty much impossible to do justice to both mercenaries and minions in a few paragraphs, just because of the variety of models and units. What I will mention is some of the themed forces available, and let you dig deeper if any of them appeal
  • Steelhead force  - Prototypical mercenaries, hardened soliders fighting for coin
  • Highborn Covenant – Displaced nobility fighting to reclaim a homeland
  • Magnus – Rogue Cygnar warcaster on a crusade against his homeland
  • Privateers – Pirates, complete with nautical warjacks and deck guns
  • Searforge – Power armoured dwarves with mining warjacks
  • Thornfall alliance – Pig men and biomechanical pig monsters
  • Blindwater – Voodoo gatormen and swamp monsters
  • Cephylax - Evil mind controlling morlocks from the underearth. 

If any of these weird and wacky themes touches you in that special place, look into it more. One cool thing about mercenaries and minions is they can be used in other forces as supplemental troops. Mercenaries tend to work for Warmachine factions and Minions for Hordes factions. 


Protectorate of Menoth
Religious zealots with a thing for suffering and fire.   

Why would I play the Protectorate? 

Is your back covered in welts from where you flagellate yourself? Does smiting infidels fill you with intense pleasure? And do you consider fire a close personal friend? If you answered yes to any of those questions, pick up a Protectorate of Menoth battlebox on your way to the asylum. 

What do they look like? 

Well, to put it bluntly, the protectorate look like crusaders in power armour carrying massive icons and plenty of napalm. 

There are numerous orders of knights within the Protectorate and they wear different suits of ornate armour. The warjacks are solid looking and tend to be decorated with religious iconography. 

Plenty of the models carry censers, tomes, banners and icons. There are a lot of cool details to paint if you are inclined to.  

How do they play?

The Protectorates strengths are their holy magic, solid warjacks, units of knights and ridiculous amounts of fire throwing weapons. They can be the most resilient force in the game, using their combination of hardy armour and defensive magic to create a solid block that is difficult to budge.

The Protectorate has interesting effects within units. For example, one unit can share damage amongst themselves, and another gets tougher for each one of its members that die.  There are also buff units like the choir that can make warjacks immune to ranged attacks. Your statlines tend to be quite low, but this is more than made up for by special effects and buffs.

Denial is another strong suit, and Menoth have numerous counters to many tactics. From preventing shooting, to increasing the cost of spells, to making units immune to magic. Menoth can shut down a lot of options for their opponents. 

Retribution of Scyrah
Xenophobic warrior elves who hunt mages and use power fields

Why would I play The Retribution? 

If you have a thing for elves, and I understand a lot of people do, then this is your faction. That being said, these guys aren’t your prototypical elves. They are on a crusade to wipe out humanities mages and are really good at doing it. If you like high tech weapons, cool armour and elves being ninja assassins, then the retribution should work for you. 

What do they look like? 

There are two major themes in the models for the Retribution. One is the mage hunters and other sneaky units, they tend to wear long flowing coats and carry an assortment of sharp stabby things and crossbows. The other theme is the dawnguard, and they wear big suits of high tech looking armour and carry weapons like gunblades. 

The warjacks (or Myrmidons) of the Retribution have a lot of smooth lines and look very high tech compared to the steam belching monstrosities of the other factions. 

How do they play?

The Retribution is a pretty elite force, you’re almost always going to be outnumbered. Their infantry is pretty solid and can multi-role quite well, but they tend to be quite expensive compared to other factions. Your solos are quite good as well, many fast moving hard hitting units that are hard for enemies to hit.

The warjacks are on the expensive side for what they do, but they do have some impressive armaments and powerfields which can regenerate during battle. That being said, the strength is in your units and solos and the Warjacks should be complimentary to these guys…. Also, most of your casters excel at assassinating the other players casters.

Later release Warjacks have considerably improved retribution, and i now feel their jacks are on par with most other factions.

Skorne Empire
Inhuman and vicious sadomasochists from the east     

Why would I play Skorne Empire? 

If you have a thing for brutality and pain then Skorne is for you as these guys are nasty pieces of work. Its all about pain and suffering, cutting yourself and blood/death/pain magic. If you like a faction with an incredibly brutal play style that says “I’m gonna mess you up” then Skorne could be for you. 

What do they look like? 

The Skorne Empire looks like an organized martial force, albeit  an inhuman one. Their soliders are well armed and well equipped and they can carry some of the heaviest armour in the game. Other units look like sword wielding maniacs who cut themselves. All in all they have a very “middle eastern” look to them. They also have units that are golems animated by the souls of dead warriors, these things look like giant killer statues. 

The beasts are wild animals that the skorne have trained (abused) to fight for them. They have basilisks, Cyclops and Titans (like 6 armed elephants). Their beasts are armoured and most have been taught to carry weapons. Some, like the Cyclopes, look like super heavy infantry models with their heavy armour and big swords. 

How do they play?

Brutally! Well, I’ve seen two major themes with the Skorne. One is the Brick of doom, where the Skorne force is made up of the toughest nastiest units they can field. This massive wall of meat and steel implacably advances towards the enemy and just wears them down in a battle of attrition.

The other approach is to be more mobile and to create a fast moving strike force that hits incredibly hard. Skorne have many tricks that allow their other ponderous Titans to move with distributing speed across the battlefield.

Skorne also has a tendency to have effects that damage or kill their own units in order to gain powerful advantages. A strong emotion attachment to your warriors and beasts is not encouraged. 

One thing is sure, the Skorne empire is unlikely so just sit back and wait for the enemy. This is a faction that loves getting its hands dirty. They also have many effects that are powered by death, so getting stuck in helps fuel their power.

Trolls of all sizes fighting for their freedom and a homeland.  
Why would I play the Trollbloods? 

If you really like the idea of downtrodden people forming together to create their own homeland in the face of horrid oppression, then the trolls could be for you. Also, if you like the idea of giant slabs of flesh and rock who eat people, then you will also like the trolls. Practice singing the line “I get knocked down, but I get up again, you aint never gonna get me down”.

What do they look like? 

Trollbloods are a grouping of peoples. They start with very small pygmy trolls, who possess low cunning and rifles. The core of the force are trollkin, who are slightly larger than humans, and equally intelligent. The Trollbloods are an interesting mixture of Scottish themes and Cygnar guns. In the story Cygnar gave them some left over weapons, crud they didn’t want. What Cygnar didn’t expect was for them to don their war kilts, crab the bagpipes and carry in their arms weapons normally reserved for gun emplacements.

The hard hitting part of the force are the full blooded trolls and dire trolls, and these guys can get pretty big. Trolls come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some are rather intelligent and have learned to wear armour and carry weapons. Others have changed and warped based on their environments…. For example a troll who lives on volcanic rocks changes over time to be immune to heat and can belch fire. 

How do they play?

Trollbloods are tough, tough as nails. Every single unit has someway of healing damage or recovering from being killed. THIS CAN ANNOY THE STUFFING OUT OF OPPONENTS! Nothing is more frustrating that shooting the same guy 10 times while screaming “WHY WONT YOU DIE”. Of course, the reverse can happen and none of your guys will make regeneration rolls. Its very hit and miss.

Dire Trolls are as nasty as anything in the game, they hit like mack trucks, have massive strength and can regenerate. Normal Trolls are also very hardy for light warbeasts.

The troops are a mix of magical buffs guys (FROM MAGIC RUNES DAMMIT) , melee guys (Think braveheart… if they were all 8 foot tall trollkin) and guys carrying army surplus (More 8 foot guys…. Carrying really big guns). Most models are medium base sized, which means your forces take up a lot of space.

It all combines to create a force that can do just about any battlefield role, while being quite tough to remove in the process. 


Well holy footy sock down the jocks batman, that was a huge post. I'm gonna continue this series, next i'll look at what you need to start playing and those first few games.

See also

Part One -  An Introduction to Warmachine and Hordes

Read this to see if the game is for you

Some helpful advice on what things to pay attention to during your first few games. Or.... how I learned not to suck so hard. 

A quick highlight of the differences between the two systems, what they have in common and how they differ. 

A quick guide with some advice on how to put together an army list, and some of the common pitfalls new players fall into. 

Part Six - Tournaments for Noobs

Considering going to your first tournament? Don't be too scared, read the helpful guide!


  1. Nicely written. There are a couple of errors showing on your post though where pictures are missing.

    If only my Trolls rolled 10 tough rolls in a row :)

    I would also say that one of Menoths strengths is denial. They basically shut down other factions abilities, reducing their capacity to hurt the menoth army. A well played menoth army is very frestrating to play against.

    1. Cheers for that, the pictures seem to be working on my browser, No die why they wouldn't show up.

      I'll add in your comments about Menoth and Denial, thats a great point.

  2. Nice guide. I think that it gives good insight into the forces. Good job.

    1. Cheers gamer. The intent was to say a bit about each faction without over cooking it and getting too technical. I hope that worked.

  3. The cygnars are more like corrupted americans. They have more trouble from the inside than the outside. Most of their casters are commandable and honorable but as a nation, they have been falling for almost half a century. Pretty cool post nonetheless! I'll forward this for my friends to read and start playing

    1. I don't really see that comparison personally. I always viewed them as being the western European nations, a combination of France and the United Kingdom. The US is a poor fit for Cygnar with its borders with other nations, its feudal nature and its low key religion.

  4. What is your feelings on the Convergence of Cyriss faction?

  5. I've been on hiatus from the game for a while, haven't had a chance to play against them yet.


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