What is Warmachine?
What is Warmachine and Hordes?
Warmachine is a tabletop wargame set in a semi-industralised fantasy world. A player's army is centred around a powerful warcaster who controls a group of giant robots called warjacks, backed up by a few combat units and support solos.
Hordes represents the untamed wilds of the same fantasy world. It is a compatible game system with different aesthetics and background, but the only real in-game difference is that your army is centred around a warlock with giant beasts called warbeasts. How warlocks control and interact with beasts is fundamentally different to how warcasters work with warjacks. The games are compatible, in that they use the same rules for movement and combat etcetera, and a Hordes army can play against a Warmachine army with no handicap on either side.
What is a tabletop wargame?
A tabletop wargame is a hobby where people collect armies of small miniature soldiers, paint them, and then play a game versus each other on a large table. During the game players take turns to move their miniatures and make 'combat actions'. The results of the combat actions are determined by rolling dice, with more elite models requiring a lower dice score to succeed (for instance, you roll 2 dice and an elite model may only need to get a total of 3 or higher to succeed, whereas a non-elite might require a 7 or higher).
Each player plays with an army made up of a variety of models, each with different abilities and skills. The elite models are better, but you must pay a higher 'points cost' to add it to your army. Both players armies have an equal number of points at the beginning of the game. A model's points cost is not related to its real-world purchase cost.
The goal is to eliminate your opponent's models and/or outmaneuver them to claim an objective.
What makes Warmachine & Hordes different from other tabletop wargames?
The game is very competitive, and has a lively tournament scene. Right from day 1, the producers of Warmachine and Hordes (Privateer Press Inc.) aimed to design a game that appealed to competitive players. Their focus is producing rules that are well-worded and smooth-flowing so that players don't get bogged down in arguing over ambiguous rule interactions. If rule interactions become problematic, official rules and erratas are published.
Warmachine & Hordes games are a moderate size: larger than a squad-based game like Infinity, but smaller than battalion-based games like Age of Sigmar. A typical game is played with about 20-30 models on a 4 foot by 4 foot (1200mm by 1200mm) board and takes at most 2 hours, often much less when one player wins by 'assassinating' the other.
Where should I start?
If you're interested in playing Warmachine and/or Hordes, there are many people willing (and wanting) to help you. For starters, you could read the Long Version (below), then start reading the Faction Overview to decide which faction(s) appeals to you (a faction is essentially an army or race or species). You should also create an account on the Privateer Press forums and post in the New Members Area and Community and Game Clubs to find out how you can meet local singles in your area. Oops I mean local players. You can also post on the Privateer Press forum to get advice on which Faction you should choose to play.
The Universe of Warmachine
Warmachine is a game about industrialized "Full Metal Fantasy" minatures combat. The Warmachine universe is about the warring nations of the Iron Kingdoms, or Immoren in the world of Caen. Each faction has its own attributes, such as the advanced technology of Cygnar or the proud patriotism of Khador. Magic is real in Caen, and due to the perpetual state of war, it is mainly harnessed to improve the war industry of each nation. Huge, lumbering "Steam Jack" robots are given a sort of semi artificial intelligence by a magical node called a "cortex" that animates it and allows it to function somewhat independently. When armed, they are known as War Jacks and are deployed amidst the soldiers and used to wage wars on rival nations. The limited cognitive capacity of 'jacks demands guidance and instructions however, so they are led by battle wizards known as "Warcasters". Every game of Warmachine revolves around the Warcasters. If your 'Caster is defeated, you lose the game.
Far from the civilized borders of the human nations there are other, less civilized factions. The resolute troll-kin that refuse to succumb to human civilization, or the distant empire of the Skorne, to name a few. Both reside far beyond the culture and great cities of men, and are described in Warmachine's rural sister game "Hordes". These savage factions lack the level of industry to create the intricate War Jacks, so they rely on furious War Beasts in stead. The battle wizards of these factions are called "Warlocks", and they harvest the wrath of their beasts to unleash their deadly spells.
The Epos of Immoren
The great chronicle that is the story of Immoren is progressed through different iterations of each 'caster and 'lock. The current edition of the game is called MKIII (Mark3, as in the third iteration of the rulebook). Two years passed between MKII and MKIII. As time goes by, some of these characters' stories progress in some of the fictional pieces that are released by Privateer Press. New versions of some of these characters appear and can be used in the game, affected by the clashes and drama between them. The characters change and develop new abilities and affinities. Sometimes they change a lot. The story of Feora is a story of humility. A brutal career Protectorate priest who sees defeat on what was supposed to be the greatest hour of victory. The defeat shapes her ambition into devout fury. Her story is closely linked to that of the ascension to power of Grand Scrutator Severius, who becomes the leader of the Protectorate. The Warlock Tyrant Xerxis is a general of the Skorne, but when he is defeated by Kaya and Grayle and left for dead, he did not die. He was broken and maimed, but he survived, scarred and battle hardened. Now he rides a huge Rhino to war instead, and he is known as Xerxis Fury of Halaak. So he changes priorities from infantry general and warrior to being infantry and beast supporter (on an angry rhino no less). A common misconception by new players is that the later iterations of the casters (previously known as "epic" casters) are more powerful, brutal, or easy to play than their former, but this is not the case. Both warlocks can be fielded legally, and while they are tremendously different warlocks, the general idea is that one should not be better than the other. While their priorities shift due to the stuff that happens to them, they change, rather than improve. The main role of the developing warcasters and warlocks is to develop that grand story that is the Epos of Immoren. A huge story where the main protagonists meet each other, fight each other, form friendships and suffer betrayals, and shaping a narrative for the entire world of Caen. Privateer Press has even indicated that there will be casters than may be killed off in these stories - which equates to making any future versions of that character non-existent. Unless it is warranted by a colorful and dramatic story of course: The noble hero Commander Dalin Sturgis is a swashbuckling gunslinger from Cygnar. He dies however, and resurrected by the Dragonfather, efficiently changing him into the undead cryxian warcaster Sturgis the Corrupted. The warcaster is suddenly available to a completely different faction, and while he resembles a bit of the same flavor as the living and swashbuckling Sturgis (and even retains quite a few of his living powers and his feat), the dead version is tougher and hungrier for souls. Immoren is a huge canvas, and the warcasters and warlocks set the ever changing stage.