Recommend
7 
 Thumb up
 Hide
5 Posts

Warmachine» Forums » Reviews

Subject: User Review rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Kurt Weihs
United States
Tacoma
Washington
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
wow, I was surprised to see this game unreviewed. Here is a brief one that will hopefully let you know if this game is one you want to sink your hard earned bucks into.

Warmachine is a fantasy skirmish miniatures game that revolves around powerful wizards, called Warcasters who lead small squads of soldiers and steam-powered machines called Warjacks. The game comes from the "Steam-Punk" genre. The best way to describe it is a medieval society that has been given guns, steam power, and magic.

There is no consolidated starter set, but this isn't a bad thing. There is one rulebook (Warmachine Prime), four faction packs (a set of 4-5 miniatures that provides a good core to build an army around), and several different packages of miniatures needed to build the units in the game.

The rulebook is one of the best in the genre. It contains five different army lists (each faction plus mercenaries), rules of play, well written fluff text, and a real index! The rules are concisely written with clearly drawn or photographed examples. The authors are artists with extensive experience in the gaming field and it shows in the artwork in the book. The painting guide at the back of the book is very good. It gives great advice on basic to advanced painting techniques along with sound recommendations for materials and paints. Amazingly enough this is all done for $20.00 and done in 200 pages. Compare this to the major miniatures game on the market today and you could easily pay over $100 for the various rulebooks and painting guides.

The fluff or Flavor text is well written in first person accounts of how the four factions came to be. Characters are described in dramatic detail and backstory is woven into the game in a fairly unobtrusive fashion. You don't need to know the backstory to play the game, but I have found after reading it that my enjoyment while playing has increased. In addition there are several story threads that have been left hanging. The games creators have indicated that this arc will be added to as time goes on. I am intrigued to see what becomes of some of the primary characters and their factions.

The four factions described in the book are unique both in story and in performance of their armies. They represent the major nations/states of the day while a fifth represents various mercenary groups for hire. The brightest star of the Iron Kingdoms is Cygnar. This nation just survived the overthrow of an evil despot and now represents all that is good and technological in the world. Their army tends to focus more on ranged combat, but can still mix it up fairly good in melee. The Protectorate of Menoth is a small desert kingdom that recently seceded from Cygnar. Impoverished and fanatically religious this theocracy's units focus their power in their magic and tough warjacks. Their weapons of choice are fire and the mace. The third faction is the opposite end of the spectrum from Menoth. Khador is in the frozen wastes north of Cygnar. Where Menoth likes to toss around fire Khador plays with ice. Soviet style fur hats, red painted jacks, and coldly served revenge are the order of the day in Khador. Where Cygnar prefers a ranged fight , Khador's warriors prefer their combat up close and personal. The final faction is Cryx. The Cryx are the undead of the Warmachine world. They originate offshore from and island ruled by an evil dragon of divine proportions. Their warcasters manipulate the dead as if they were machines and their vile spells and abilities graphically demonstrate this. Finally, there are the mercenaries. While not really a faction they do possess an army list and back story. Most of these are non-humans who have found that war pays. They range from the goblin speculator cum charletan Reinhardt to the traitor warcaster Magnus with his three warjacks. Each mercenary group brings special abilities and weapons to the faction willing to pay for their services. Because each faction emphasizes a certain aspect of the game there is something for everyone here. Because of these differences some like Khador are easier to play at the outset while others (Cryx and Menoth) require a bit of experience to develop some proficiency.


One of the things that I particularly like about the game is that Privateer Press has decided to toss the idea of generic leaders. Each of the warcasters from each faction is individual. They each come with a set of specific spells, abilities and weapons that helps personalize the figure. This also allows the leaders to be unbalanced in some fashion. Each caster has a feat that when applied right could win the game for them. This is balanced by weakness in some other area. This imbalance has led to several accusations that the game system is broken. The creators revel in this complaint and quickly retort with "it's all borken (sic.)" If it's all broken the playing field is level and leads to a Paper/Scissors/Rock way of looking at some units. It is this uniqueness that really makes the game work in my mind.

Privateer Press is producing models that are described in the Prime book but that might not yet be available at a rapid rate. If the mini you’re looking for doesn’t exist yet---be patient--in a couple of months it will. Think of it as a gracious extension so that you can get all the stuff you’ve bought painted up.

Each model/unit has stats that tell its special abilities and how well it moves, defends, shoots, attacks, etc. Warmachine is d6 based (in general, you roll 2d6 and add a stat then you compare the result to your opponent's appropriate stat to see who came out better). Stats cards are provided with the models to aid in tracking these stats including the points value of the model. When you play a game, all players agree to a points limit and each army can then field up to that number of points in troops, jacks and warcasters (requiring at least one warcaster as the core for any army).

The stat cards are a good idea because they keep record-keeping from becoming too burdensome and they also summarize the unit/model’s information so you don’t have to keep any pages tabbed. The authors recommend the cards be used inside trading card sleeves so you can make notations in dry-erase without ruining the card.

Warjacks are a unique addition to the game, each represented on the table by an impressive model and in the player’s hand of stat cards. Like modern tanks, Jacks are classed as light (usually quicker but usually with less staying power) and heavy. These steam-powered, magically driven bots have a number of boxes to represent systems like movement, arc nodes (which allow a warjack to serve as a retransmitter for his war caster’s spells), cortex (the magical brain of the beast), weapons and hull. As systems go down due to damage, jacks become less effective (slower, easier to hit, less able to shoot or defend in melee, etc.). These systems can be repaired by certain forces’ mechanics but a jack with enough damage becomes immobile or is destroyed outright.

Another point where Warmachine truly differs from other games, and excels in this difference is the Warcaster and his/her use of “FOCUS” points. While warjacks are the coal-smoke belching mecha of the game and they are incredibly powerful if used properly, it is the use of the Warcaster’s focus points (some warcasters have more points than others) that raises the strategy bar for this game. Warjacks can move faster, fight and shoot better and hit harder IF their war caster spends his focus points on them but spells cost focus, too. Since focus points are limited each turn, players have to choose whether to cast spell X OR to cause his biggest steam-tank to go plowing through enemy infantry.

To make things even better, FOCUS allocation is made before you activate your models. You need to think ahead so that when you need that spell handy, you will have enough FOCUS left to use it (at the same time you’ll hope you gave your ‘jacks enough FOCUS to move and attack efficiently). Beads or coins can serve as helpful reminders of just where you've spent your caster's FOCUS for the turn, by the way.

In addition to any melee or ranged weapons, each warcaster has spells and a special ability called a feat. The feat is a nasty ability that basically jams up or seriously damages the enemy if the feat is used properly. So, you begin the game knowing that you and your opponent each have an ace in the hole. The spells range from personal effects to attacks and are pretty standard for a fantasy skirmish wizard’s repertoire. Focus, however, is the key to these spells AND to warjack operation.

Besides 'jacks and waracasters, each army has also has access to ground troops (played as "units") and individuals with exceptional ability who are just a notch below character status---these individuals are called solos. Units behave as, well, units. They have to maintain a certain coherency or suffer in their ability to carry out orders or function in combat effectively.

Solos function on their own and represent a broad range of capabilities--specific to each faction. The Cygnarians have an apprentice warcaster who can perform some warcaster functions (he's just not fully trained in the jedi arts yet). The Cryx have a nasty undead thing they can summon. The Khador use a deadly Hunter fella while the Menoth faction can call upon a holy Paladin to help defend their lands. And as was said before, there are mercenary troops (both units and solos) that can be hired to fill certain gaps (though merc troops have political agendas of their own and refuse to work for some factions).

The game turn is divided into three phases. The maintenance phase is first during which certain effects continue to work and models which are trying to flee continue their flight, hopefully to rally.

The control phase is next---this is where your caster(s) get FOCUS and decide how they will use them. Some spells (from previous turns) require the caster to pay FOCUS in order to maintain them---otherwise they go away. The control phase is one of the more challenging parts of the game because you can make a dumb decision here that tactics or your warjack's hides can't make up for later.

The final phase is activation during which models and units move, shoot and attempt to get into melee range so they can bludgeon enemy models. Turns go fairly quickly and because this is a skirmish game, players tend to stay engaged in the game instead of waiting 30 minutes for the other player to complete his/her turn.

Hand to hand combat is a lot of fun in WarMachine because you can do things that a lot of minis games rules won't allow. You can plow into other 'jacks and infantry units with a properly stoked up warjack. You can pick up enemy models and chuck them into other things--hopefully causing them even more damage. You can even push your enemy off a cliff if you're fighting on a ledge.

With all these options, it's easy to get cocky when things are going well. DON'T! As soon as you think you've got the game sewn up, your opponent will play a feat or get particularly brilliant in his use of FOCUS points and it's back to biting your nails as you figure out how to counter his latest tactic. I'm notorious for doing dumb things with FOCUS while my friends seem to know just when to boost an attack or damage (boosting is use of a FOCUS point to add another die so your chances of success are increased). But I get a little smarter every game

Being well-rounded folks, PP included an excellent tactics section which covers strategies for the various forces and the effective use of mercenaries. This section can be helpful to those who can never seem to beat an opponent and helps players identify strengths and weaknesses they might not have discovered through gameplay.

There is also an eye-catching modeling and painting section that demonstrates all the steps necessary to take a raw model through assembly, priming, painting and basing. Very useful if you have never really played minis-games before or assembled these monsters---and some Warmachine miniatures require some advanced modeling skill in order to build properly.

Overall, the game succeeds in providing quality on every level. As in all miniatures games, building larger forces can get expensive but because Warmachine’s focus is skirmish (smaller than mass combat games), you really don’t need to have a lot of models to have fun. The models are very well done and for $100 you can get 2 starting forces (all metal miniatures by the way) plus the Prime rulebook. The rulebook is very professionally done with well thought out rules and exceptional game balance noted by most players. If you are a fan of skirmish games, this one is highly recommended.
 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brian Sherry
United States
Great Falls
VA
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Re:User Review
Sturmkraehe (#28615),

This is an excelllent review.

Full disclosure: I am a "Press Ganger" for Privateer Press, which means I run demos and events in return for free product.

WARMACHINE is one of the best miniatures games I have ever played, and I have played a lot. The rules are very fun and streamlined. The miniatures are amazing, and the concept is novel. Anyone who loves tabletop games should give this a try, I think you'll be hooked!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Thrall 1138
United States
Unspecified
Unspecified
flag msg tools
mbmb
Hey great review, this told me a lot that I didn't know. I will have to get this game now!

It is also good to know that it isn't as expensive as WH 40k. The money was the only thing keeping me from playing any GW games...
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Greg Dufner
United States
Okemos
Michigan
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmb
I honestly had hoped that you would say horrible things about the game a the end, but I have to admit that I fear Warmachine is in my future...

The review was very helpful, it seemed like a concentrated browsing of the book.

Thanks for helping me make up my mind and encouraging my debt.

Greg
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mark Crane
United States
Orem
Utah
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Warmachine is calling me as well, and I can't resist much longer. I've seen starter armies for $26 and the basic rules for $17, which is a pretty cheap beginning, and, of course, the combat sounds so much more complex and interesting than Heroscape!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.