The Betrayer Speaks! Warmachine and Hordes Guide Part 2

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 second article in a series of eight that will cover:

  1. Introduction to Warmachine and Hordes [link to I]
  2. II.                  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

Faction Descriptions – Warmachine


Warmachine is based around Warcasters, warjacks and the focus mechanic and contains the following factions: Cygnar, Cryx, Protectorate of Menoth, Khador, Mercenaries, Retribution of Scyrah and the newest Convergence of Cyriss.

Warcasters generate “focus” at the beginning of each turn and this is used to cast spells and can be given to warjacks to enhance their abilities.  If not used, a Warcaster’s focus will add to their armor.  Given that focus is a limited resource, Warmachine armies tend to not have a lot of warjacks in the army.  One to two is common and more than that will generally be too much of a strain on your Warcaster.  For this reason, many Warmachine armies run a lot of infantry, thus the nickname of infantry-machine.  So, if you prefer more models to fewer, than Warmachine is for you!



Cygnar is sort of the “good guy” faction of Warmachine and Hordes, though I suppose “good” is a matter of opinion.  Cygnar at the very least is the ruling faction and everybody wants to take down the guy on top!  In the fluff, Cygnar is constantly fighting with Cryx, Menoth and Khador, among others on a more limited basis.

Cygnar, as a faction, is most known for their guns; they are a well-rounded faction, but range is their specialty.  Gun mages and stormwall in particular, are the faces of the faction, so if you like those, then give Cygnar a good look.  Stormwall is the Cygnar colossal and really changed the faction when he was released in June, 2012.  He is big and expensive and he earns his keep! Cygnar is also known to have some rather powerful Warcasters and they generally help to make the gun line and warjacks more potent.

Cygnar infantry is where the faction comes up a little short.  Their range units are solid and put out a high volume of low power shooting, but low power only gets you so far.  Their melee infantry is on the weaker side and is not generally bolstered by their Warcaster.  The ability to engage in the midfield and to protect the gun line is where the faction lives and dies.  Often, the faction will look to Mercenary allies to help in this cause.



Ahh Cryx, a faction after my own heart.  Cryx is undoubtedly the evil faction in Warmahordes and generally consists of legions of undead and pirates.  If Warmachine is also known as infantry-machine then Cryx is leading the infantry-machine way!

Cryx, as a faction, is most known for infantry.  Plain and simple, Cryx has a lot of boots on the ground.  Cryx is also a melee dominant faction with very little shooting and very powerful Warcasters… probably the best in the game.  Lich Lord Asphyxious, shown above, is the principle bad guy and considered one of the most OP Warcaster in the game.

Cryx is the noob-stomper faction of Warmahordes and that means the faction carries the stigma that they are just OP, easy to play and will crush any opposition.  “Lol, you are playing Cryx, how do you ever lose?”  Well, just because Cryx clubs baby seals does not mean that it also clubs top players at the top tables.  Cryx runs infantry skew better than anybody and what do skew lists do really well?  They crush people that are not prepared to handle the skew.  Players move to a more advanced stage when they realize that they ALWAYS need an answer for Cryx.

Protectorate of Menoth


Protectorate of Menoth… well every story needs a religious zealot I suppose.  Menoth used to be part of Cygnar, but they were divided over religious issues and have basically been at war ever sense.  Menoth is a fantastic faction, great models, interesting characters and amazing on the table.

IMO Menoth is the most well rounded of all the factions; they can run a gun line, a melee force, an infantry spam, a warjack spam and anything in between.  I also feel that Menoth is the most powerful faction in Warmahordes, though it doesn’t always feel like it when you play against them; the faction just works very well.  Unlike most of the Warmachine factions, Menoth really likes its warjacks and it is not uncommon to see 3-4 in a list.  If you really want to run some big robots, Menoth is a great place to look.

Like the other Warmachine factions, Menoth’s Warcasters and warjacks still share the focus resource and therefore have limits to their power every turn.  Menoth does have a great buff for their warjacks though in the Choir of Menoth.  The choir does not provide focus to a warjack, but they are able to increase a jacks ability to hit targets and their damage output, make them nearly immune to shooting or make them immune to spells.  It’s funny to think that an entire faction hinges on four guys in robes with staves that just pray a lot, but that’s Menoth for you.



Khador is basically the Russian faction and all of her troops fight for the Motherland! Khador sits to the north of Cygnar and they are always fighting along their borders, though Khador has more to deal with than just Cygnar these days.

Like Menoth, Khador is another well balanced faction, though they are very much different than Menoth in their use of warjacks.  Khador is known for big, defensive, high damage and slow warjacks.  The Warcasters of the faction can support them some, but Khador usually only runs one warjack in an army.  Khador has amazing troop options and can field both range and melee units.  As far as infantry-machine, Khador separated itself from Cryx in its ability to bring a combined arms approach.  Khador is also known for their ability to field very hard to hit troops, so keep a steady hand, because you will need it.

One of my favorite pieces in Khador is their colossal, Conquest.  Conquest is the biggest and hardest hitting of any colossal or gargantuan.  In a faction that loves its big robots, Conquest is clearly king.



Mercenaries are a truly unique faction and Privateer Press has done a great job of making the faction feel like a bunch of mercenaries working together.  Mercenaries are not one of the core factions, but that doesn’t not mean they are not competitive.  Their mercenary nature does make the faction difficult to balance though and can leave them wanting in places.

Although Mercenaries are a faction, their initial purpose was to provide out of faction additional unit choices for the other factions to pull from.  Mercenaries pull some allied units from the major factions to join their ranks also.  Mercenaries are another rounded faction, though they do fall into the infantry-machine category.

One of the main draws for Mercenaries is the diversity that allows you to play pirates or dwarves, among other things.  Pirates and dwarves tend to be the popular choices, though not generally because they are super competitive, but because they are flavorful and fun.

Retribution of Scyrah


The elves of Warmachine are about the same as any other elves, a dying race.  They are fast, agile and pack a punch, but their defensive statistics tend to be lacking, unless they are facing ranged attacks.

Retribution are generally considered to be the range dominant faction in the game, much to the dismay of Cygnar.  This is not to suggest that other factions can’t build a competitive range list, but Retribution does it without really trying.

Retribution was released in 2011 with the release of the MKII rules, which makes them the second newest faction.  Because they are still relatively new and Privateer Press releases new models for all factions equally, Retribution is a smaller army than the core factions.  There are still options within Retribution, but the bench is a little cold.  For any army not ready to face a very strong ranged opponent, Retribution can really cause some problems, even if they have fewer models to choose from.

Convergence of Cyriss


Convergence is the newest faction in Warmachine and was pre-released in June, 2013, with a wider release in August, 2013 and beyond.  The faction largely consists of machines, including warjacks and their troops.  The faction has ways of generating additional focus and can therefore run more warjacks than any other faction.  Beyond this, I don’t know a ton about the faction because they are so new.  If you like the models and you like the idea of a lot of robots, then give them a look.


About Reecius

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

4 Responses to “The Betrayer Speaks! Warmachine and Hordes Guide Part 2”

  1. white925 November 15, 2013 2:45 pm #

    Great article I am having a lot of fun reading them. Please keep them coming!

    • Reecius November 15, 2013 10:06 pm #

      Yeah, i am enjoying these very much as well.

  2. Ty November 19, 2013 12:52 pm #

    Are there any factions that struggle to be competitive with the others?

    • The Betrayer November 20, 2013 11:40 am #

      Yes and no. At the top level, the factions are rather balanced and real problems show up in paper, rock, scissors games… though this can be offset by the fact that you bring two lists.

      At the more entry level of the game, a faction like Cryx and Legion are rather powerful and other factions like Skorne and Trollbloods can be difficult. This is based on how player skill interacts with the faction, its more learning curve than actual model balance.

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