There are a grand total of 11 Warmachine factions and 6 Hordes factions. These are divided into the "Main Factions" and the "Minor Factions".
- 1 The Main Warmachine / Hordes Factions
- 2 Minor Factions
- 2.1 The Convergence of Cyriss
- 2.2 The Crucible Guard
- 2.3 Mercenaries
- 2.4 Minions
- 2.5 Grymkin
The Main Warmachine / Hordes Factions
Cygnar are the mostly-good guys who aren't too morally objectionable, though they did pick up a good number of grudges over the years. They are really good with technology, which have translated to a generally "shooty faction"; they have loads of big guns with long range and high power, and the support abilities to make them better. Keep in mind, however, that Warmachine is very melee-focused. When Cygnar fights in melee, they don't deal huge amounts of damage; instead, they rely on weapons with special abilities that take the enemy at least partially out of the game for a turn.
The nation of Khador fights mostly for its own imperial ends. Khador's tech isn't nearly as sophisticated as Cygnar's, but they make up for it by slapping five tons of armour onto anything going remotely near a battle. They don't have the same flashy infantry equipment as their arch enemy Cygnar, relying instead on conscripts and nationalism. Khador is easy to hit, but hard to hurt, and usually slow. Though dont allow their turtle-vibe to fool you, and don't think of Khador as a melee-only army, either, because they actually do a decent job at range -- mostly in the form of grenade launchers, rockets, and other things that go boom.
A robed, religious and inquisitorial theocracy who seceded from Cygnar after a major sectarian conflict. Warjacks are technically blasphemous under the Menite religion, so the Protectorate has nowhere near as much expertise as the other factions -- something which translates to a generally sub-par stat line. However, they make up for this blasphemy by sanctifying every square inch of their warjacks, something which shows in their fine range of support units and buffs. Put the right buffs on a Menite warjack in the right order, and it can brawl with the best of them. There are also numerous fire-based attacks, and can find ways to bring back dead warriors (or put their souls to good use)
Cryx is a faction of necromancers, ruled over by Toruk the Dragonfather, the oldest and most powerful dragon in the world. Rather than creating warjacks from steel and animating them with coal, they instead create Bonejacks and Helljacks from steel and bone, and animate them with souls. Cryx is something of a horde army; bonejacks and helljacks are fast, strong, cheap, and good in melee, but fairly easy to destroy. To back up their 'jacks, however, Cryx fields some of the nastiest warcasters in the game, who love to cast spells that debuff the enemy's pants off and absolutely ruin their day, as well as reaving the souls and corpses of their fallen enemies.
The Retribution is an Elven religious militant sect. The elf-kingdom of Ios does not officially endorse them, but they still manage to recruit enough troops and warjacks from the major noble houses of the nation to be a serious military power. It is central to the Retribution's dogma that humanity's use of magic is responsible for the dying state of the elven gods, and that all non-elves who use magic should be destroyed. Scyrah is a dualist faction; they can be either top-class tanks or première glass cannons, but never really both in one game. Their choices of warcasters, infantry and solos reflect this duality; most of them are either tough combined-arms units, or squishy assassins. They are good at both melee and ranged combat, and shoving the enemy around the battlefield and locking down their movement options.
The Trollbloods are probably the least morally objectionable army in the game. They are a nature people fighting the spread of hostile human civilization. Trolls are extremely Scottish, complete with kilts, sporrans, kegs of ale, and a guy named "Grim Angus". They've been shoved around by the human nations for years, but have recently learned how to command the truly monstrous Dire Trolls, and are now on the march. The Trollbloods are a fairly slow army that's easy to hit, and easy to hurt, but much harder to actually kill. They're excellent at healing and buffing themselves, and Dire Trolls are in the habit of eating models they kill for some quick and easy health. Between self-healing, buffing, and the near-ubiquitous Tough rule, they are quite resilient.
The Circle is a mostly-human order of druids, charged with protecting the balance between the human god Menoth (Law and civilization) and the feral god Orboros, also known as The Devourer Wurm (Nature, red in tooth and claw). As civilization is on the rise in Immoren, that means the druids act to stop it. Do not think, however, that this makes them nice people; the Circle believes that their ends justify their means. The Circle is a maneuverability- and terrain-based faction; quite a few circle warlocks can create forests and/or teleport themselves and their armies about the place. Most of their troops are not hindered by forests the way that other factions are.
An honorable but brutal nation of warriors marching into the Iron Kingdoms with conquest on their minds, supported by torturous blood magic and armed with angry pachyderms. Skorne are the slowest, tankiest army in Hordes, nearly as tanky as and but slightly faster than Khador. They have several "retaliation" effects, allowing them to take a hit and strike back afterwards. For this reason they excel at "attrition melee", wherein the longer you fight them, the more they gain the upper hand -- partially through their tankiness, partially due to their special rules.
The Legion has been formed by Everblight, one of Toruk the Dragonfather's surviving demon dragon progeny. Everblight's great desire is to conquer Cryx and consume Toruk, so he created large quantities of blood spawned monsters and enslaved an entire subrace of elves to do his bidding. Legion is the alpha-strike faction of Hordes - to avoid being ground down in protracted combat, they sport outstanding mobility, which helps them strike first, and strike hard. If you want an army that can charge towards the enemy at ridiculous speeds and punch through their front lines like rice paper, look no further.
The minor factions are not as fleshed-out as the main armies in terms of number of models available, and they never will be. If you decide to start playing one of these minor factions, be aware that each release they typically get something like half the number of releases that the main factions do. That's just they way it is, though over time the available models will eventually reach respectable numbers. Most of the minor factions are Mercenaries or Minions. These represent secondary powers and private forces within the Iron Kingdoms, who fight out of a desire for justice, revenge, or money. Mercenary and Minion models can be "hired" to add to your main-faction force, or you can build an army consisting entirely of mercenaries or minions. Check out our Mercenaries and Minions pages to get an idea of how to build an all-merc or all-minion army.
The Convergence is a minor warmachine faction. Cyriss is the goddess of science and mathematics, also known as the Maiden of Gears. Inhabiting a celestial realm far from Caen, Cyriss was recently discovered by human scientists. These scientists formed the Convergence of Cyriss, a cult dedicated to changing the very planet so that eventually Cyriss can be summoned to inhabit Caen itself and bring in an eternal age of perfection. Most followers of the Convergence seek to transcend human flesh and live on as a soul inside a machine body, a clockwork vessel. The Convergence has a unique type of warjack, the Vectors, and are unusual in that most of their models are constructs.
These are the alchemists who used to reside in Llael before Khador invaded. They use alchemical drugs to give a normal human arcane powers...but at a great cost to their health. They are due to be released in mid 2018.
Mercenaries are generic troops that most warmachine factions have access to, so they will appear in a great many collections. You can also create full-fledged mercenary armies if you add a merc warcaster. In this situation you will also need to create a battlegroup of mercenary warjacks. In previous editions of Warmachine, different mercenary contracts dictated the models you could take and, in terms of the background only, that is still true. The theme forces of the current edition largely follow the same lines, but in addition they have the Kingmaker's Army theme force which represents the mercenary army in the Blood of Kings novel.
The Four Star Syndicate
An international crime syndicate based in Ord which commands quite a bit of power, including private armies and large number of serviceable (if antiquated) warjacks. The Four Star Syndicate is a fairly generic contract with a wide variety of models to tailor to just about any situation. This is currently best represented by the Irregulars theme force.
The Highborn Covenant
The mercenary army of the peaceful nation of Llael, recently invaded by Khador. While nothing much before the invasion, with the hostilities of Khador, the Highborn Covenant has found a reason. This contract is fairly similar to the Four Star, but carries a bit more ranged proficiency. This is represented by the Llaelese Resistance theme force.
The Searforge Commission
The standing army of the dwarven nation of Rhul, created to protect Rhulic shipping and trade interests. Rhul is not your typical dwarven nation; while it is mountainous, the dwarves live on the surface in soaring towers. While they have miners, they are more considered with trade and commerce. The nation also has a very high population of Ogrun (ogres). The Searforge Commission is slow, and lacks ranged attack options, but packs some of the heaviest armor in the game. Their warjacks are immensely difficult to disable, and generally work at two speeds; "full efficiency" and "smoking wreckage". This is fielded using the Hammer Strike theme force.
The Talion Charter
The pirates that raid the coasts, loosely led by Phinneus Shae, captain of the Talion. The Talion piles synergies not unlike the Protectorate, using many models in tandem to great potential! A great strength of the Talion Charter is flexibility: they can redeploy in an instant and change strategy with ease. This uses the Talion Charter theme force.
The Cephalyx is a minor warmachine mercenary faction, and they are quite unique. They work like the other mercenaries, but they have little to do with them, and they will only work for warcasters from Cryx or Cephalyx. So while they function as an extension to the rest of the merc society, they have absolutely nothing to do with them and practically they form their own faction. They are humans from distant ages, forced underground by a great catastrophe. They evolved great psychic powers and live to dominate and experiment on other living beings. The Cephalyx bring their enslaved drudges and monstrosities to fight their battles for them, as the Cephalyx themselves are fragile and not great fighters. This faction started off as part of the Cryx faction, and a good number of their units can be taken in Cryx as well. Their telepathic nightmare body horror show is fielded through the Operating Theater theme force.
Minions are generic troops that most of Hordes' factions have access to, so they will appear in a great many constellations. You can also create full-fledged minion armies if you add a minion warlock. In this situation you will also need to create a battlegroup of minion warbeasts.
The Blindwater Congregation
Stirred by a few visionary leaders, the Blindwater Congregation consists primarily of Gatormen, which are exactly what they sound like; big bayous crocodillians who can use voodoo! With terrain manipulation similar to the Circle (albeit with swamps rather than forests), a proficiency in debuffs second only to Cryx. Most of their units and solos are good and work for all four main Hordes armies which makes it very easy to pick them up as a secondary faction.
The first serious attempt at nationalism by the Farrow, led by the rather ambitious (but very murderous) Lord Carver, and his mad-scientist-in-residence Dr. Arkadius. The Thornfall Alliance features some solid troops and some really first-class warlocks.
Gators and pigs are well known for their appetite, bacon and cooking pots...so it won't surprise you that they Will Work for Food.
The Grymkin is a minor faction in Hordes. As Menoth returned to humanity after battling the Devourer Wurm, a few willful individuals led by the one known as the Heretic defied him. As punishment they were cast into the parallel dimension of Ur-Caen, where they have suffered since. Now they have returned, and with them the nightmares and tormented souls of Ur-Caen. This is the stuff of legend, folk lore and nightmare. This is the grymkin.