The Betrayer Speaks! Warmachine and Hordes Guide Part 1

The Betrayer is a top level Warmahordes player and is bringing us an excellent article series on the basics of Warmachine and Hordes! Be sure to give him some feedback and check out the Tactics Corner for more tactics, bat reps and articles!


This is the first article in a series of eight that will cover:

  1. I.                    Introduction to Warmachine and Hordes
  2. Faction Descriptions – Warmachine
  3. Faction Descriptions – Hordes
  4. Steamroller and Tournament Scene
  5. The National Meta
  6. Melee  and Ranged in Warmahordes
  7. List Design in Two-List Format
  8. Playing to NOT Lose

Introduction to Warmachine and Hordes


Warmachine and Hordes (together “Warmahordes”) is a miniature game based around Warcasters and Warlocks that control powerful machines and monstrous creatures and lead their forces into battle.

As a miniature game goes, Warmahordes is more of a skirmish game with a medium sized army, generally consisting of between 20 and 50 models for a standard tournament sized game.  The size tends to be larger than something like Malifaux or Infinity and smaller than Fantasy or 40k.  Warmahordes is known for its generally tight rule set.  It’s not perfect, but it’s well enough that I don’t know anybody that carries a rule book with them.  Quick start rules can be found here (

Game Play

I would describe Warmahordes as a game of positioning and movement.  I say this because this portion of the game is much more dynamic than a game like 40k, where armies can be fairly static.  Measurements in Warmahordes are relatively precise and most will range from ½ inch to 10 inches, a far cry from a 48” missile launcher.  Warmahordes is also a system based on 2d6, which gives you an actual bell curve when you roll dice.  Additionally, Warmahordes has some instances where more powerful pieces are able to add a third dice to the roll via a “boost.”  This allows for a better opportunity to accomplish those things that you really need to go right.

Warmahordes is also similar to chess in that you lose when your king dies; the “king” in Warmahordes is either a Warcaster (Warmachine) or a Warlock (Hordes).  Warcasters and Warlocks are very power pieces who are able to control warjacks and warbeasts and lead their armies with an array of abilities and spells.  As powerful as Warcasters and Warlocks are though, if they die then you are done; game over.


In addition to the above, the game uses units and solos to round out an army.  These are exactly what they sound like, a unit generally consists of 5 or 9 grunts and a leader and solos are well… solos.  In either case, they can add a great deal of depth to an army.  Some Warcasters and Warlocks specialize on supporting infantry and can create an entirely different game experience from one that excels at commanding either warjacks or warbeasts.

In addition to winning the game when you defeat your opponents Warcaster or Warlock, the game can also be one via a scenario.  A packet of various scenarios (currently there are 12) are published each calendar year and the game is meant to be played with one of these scenarios.  While being essential to the game, scenarios are not a basic game mechanic and will be discussed further in another article.

The Hobby


I love the models in Warmahordes, that and the rule set is what brought me to this game.  The Dire Troll Mauler (shown above) is one of my favorite models and is a great example of what the model range is capable of, even though this is one of the older sculpts in the line.  At the same time though, I really like all of the warjacks; big robots, what’s not to like!  The Warcasters and Warlocks are also fantastic and full of character.  The Warmahordes rule set is much stricter on modeling, so you will see some models with mods and interesting poses, but you will rarely see a completely unique model that was highly altered from other bits and pieces.  A big part of modeling involves basing; since this is not a true line of sight game, you can feel free to put your Warcaster on a 2” tall base without fear of him being sniped out while behind a small building.

The Brand

Warmahordes is produced by Privateer Press ( and is very much a growing brand.  In addition to being a table top game, the Warmahordes brand also appears in novels, video games and a living card game.  Like 40k, Warmahordes has a large amount of fluff to dive into and explore.  One item about the Warmahordes fluff that I appreciate is that we are living it right now.  There are story lines evolving within Privateer Press that will change and shape the models that we get to play on the table.  Warcasters and Warlocks even “level up” as the story evolves.

Privateer Press in conjunction with white Moon Dreams recently successfully funded a video game called Warmachine Tactics ( via kick starter.  The game is due to launch in August, 2014.  I was a backer and I am very excited for this one!


About Reecius

The fearless leader of the intrepid group of gamers gone retailers at Frontline Gaming!

13 Responses to “The Betrayer Speaks! Warmachine and Hordes Guide Part 1”

  1. Justin D. November 13, 2013 12:14 pm #

    Glad to see some Warmachine and Hordes articles up on the site. Definitely keep them coming.

  2. White925 November 13, 2013 12:56 pm #

    Yeah we are hoping to get more. Awesome article by the way.

  3. Dahlvash November 13, 2013 1:21 pm #

    I have been playing Warmachine/Hordes for about 2 years and really love it. Coming from a background of 40K for the prior 11 years, Warmahordes is a massive departure in almost every way. From the deep tactics of the game itself to the way Privateer Press interacts with its customer/fan base.
    One thing that may be worth mentioning are the PP forums. Any rules disputes or confusion can be brought up there and be answered by those more knowledgeable or by official PP rules quantifiers. I really love this aspect, compared to GW’s style of making rules that contradict out the wazoo and then not fixing them for months or even years on end.

  4. Stompspath November 13, 2013 3:43 pm #

    LOVE IT! Keep the WarmaHordes coming! This is a great game and I’m excited to see more attention being devoted to it!

  5. The Betrayer November 13, 2013 8:45 pm #

    Thanks for the comments. The other seven articles are done and will be posted in the coming weeks. Introductory articles for now and we will see where they go from there.

  6. Desert Hack November 14, 2013 1:22 am #

    I’ve always been interested to learn warmachine but couldn’t find a good starter guide. Delighted to see one here!

  7. benn grimm November 14, 2013 10:28 am #

    Cool article, keep em coming, been thinking about giving this a go, what would you suggest as a good purchase for a starting player?

    • The Betrayer November 14, 2013 2:07 pm #

      The privateer press forums can be a great resource for something like this. I suggest poking around a few faction forums to get a good idea of a good starting place for the faction. Also, my next two articles will be have a basic description of all the factions, maybe another good place to look as you feel out a faction.

  8. Chris November 14, 2013 10:39 am #

    You guys down at Frontline really should be getting down on the Warmahorde tip. Once you see the solid rules and just how the game plays in general odds are you’ll be all about it. I used to be predominantly a 40k player until I was introduced. Slowly but surely the scales tipped in Warmahordes favor and at this point I play maybe 10 games of Warmahordes to every 1 game of 40k.

    • The Betrayer November 14, 2013 2:09 pm #

      I started the same way, thought it didn’t take long for me to get rid of all my 40k. As for the frontline guys, I understand they will be running a league at the store starting in January.

      • Reecius November 14, 2013 4:37 pm #

        Yes, we will be doing a learning league starting next year!

  9. Vidar November 14, 2013 7:10 pm #

    My 40k game really improved playing war machine. Model activation and synergy are really the by-words for both games but it really took becoming decent at war machine to get that. A much cleaner game.

    • Reecius November 14, 2013 7:52 pm #

      Yeah, games that require strict model positioning and order of operations in order to win at really help to improve your game in 40K, too.

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