Review: Warmachine

So here is my review of Warmachine. The game had its second edition released in January.

The idea of Warmachine is best encapsulated by Privateer Presses own statement:

“Play like you’ve got a Pair”

The game itself is brutal and violent and very tactical.

The Core Rulebook is £25 with a starter Battleforce costing £33. This gives you enough to play the game and you will only need to add a select few extra models as you go.

Personally I think it is far cheaper to play than 40K and it does offer a different way to wargame.

So, onto the game play itself.

The Stats.

The Stats in Warmachine work in a different way to other games. Here is a quick break down of the Standard stats you will see:

SPD: This is how many inches the Model can move per turn
STR: The models Strength, this is used to calculate how much damage they do in Close Combat
MAT: This is their Melee Attack Rating. You add this to a 2D6 roll and compare it to your targets Defence. If you beat it then you hit them.
RAT: This is their Range Attack Rating and functions in the same way as MAT, except it is used for ranged weapons.
DEF: This is how hard it is to hit the model. The higher the better.
ARM: This is subtracted from the enemies damage roll to determine how much damage you take.
CMD: This represents a models willpower and leadership.

The Turn.

The way players take their turn is the same as 40k, each player moves, shoots and fights with all of the models or units in their force until they are done, then play switches to the opposite player.

The player who goes first is either decided by the Scenario, or by a roll off.


So when it is your turn… what do you get to do?

Well the first thing is the allocation of FOCUS. Each Warcaster has a set amount of Focus per turn, and their Warjacks require Focus to perform certain actions.

This is actually the hardest part of the game to learn. Each Warjack can have a maximum of 3 focus allocated to it, and this Focus is required to Charge, Run, Perform Special Attacks, Boost Hit or Damage rolls and to get Extra Attacks.

Planning your Focus allocation is very important, because once you have done it you cannot change it, at least not until your next turn when you have to do it all over again.

Focus is also used by the Warcaster, they use it for Boosting their Hit or Damage rolls, extra attacks and for Spells. Any unused Focus is left on the Warcaster and gives them a boost to their ARM stat. +1 for each focus left on them.

Once you have allocated all of your focus you get to activate each model in your force one at a time. You have to complete all of your actions with model before moving onto the next.


So what can a model do?

When you activate a model it gets to Move and then perform another action.

Movement options consist of just moving upto your Speed, Running or Charging.

Charging gives you a special bonus for the first attack you perform after the Charge, but you do not have to charge to be able to make a Melee attack. You can simply move in range of the enemy to be able to hit them.

Running forfeits all of your actions and allows you to move faster than usual. This tends to be used early in the game rather than later as the two sides try to close the gap.

A Range attack is an action you can perform after your movement. You can perform as many Range attacks in your models activation as your its weapons Rate of Fire (ROF). If the weapon has a ROF of greater than 1 then you can make additional shots with it if you are able to spend FOCUS.

Melee Combat is where the most damage is done to and by your forces (at least in my experience). If you manage to get into combat then you get to make 1 attack with each of the Weapons your model has that are for Melee combat. So if your model has a Fist and an Axe then you get to make two attacks, one with each. Any additional attacks above and beyond this cost FOCUS.


As I touched on previously, damage works in a different manner to how Warhammer players are normally used to. Role-players will probably be more familiar with how the Warmachine damage mechanic works.

You basically get to take the POW of your Weapon and add your Models STR (unless it is a ranged attack then you just take the POW) and you roll 2D6. You add it all together and take the models ARM value from the Total. This determines how much damage you have caused.

Against a normal model they then lose that many hit points. Against a Warjack the person that caused the damage rolls a D6 to find out which column on that Warjacks Damage grid the damage is applied to.

The Damage Grids for Warjacks are just that, 6 Columns normally with no more than 6 rows in (a fair number have less than 6 rows). This represents how much damage that Warjack can take.

Some of the boxes on the Grid are marked as system boxes, with a C (for Cortex), L (for Left Hand) and so on. When all of the boxes with one particular letter have been filled then the Warjack loses the use of that system.

This can make the game a bit more confusing with more information to track. Thankfully each of the models comes with a Stat card which has the grid on it. Putting this card in a Transparent plastic sleeve means you can easily tick the boxes off with a wipe off marker pen.


So I have covered a quick overlay of the rules, there are a couple of things I haven't mentioned.

The first are FEATS. Each warcaster has a unique feat that they may use once per game. These range from getting to roll an extra dice when doing damage, to being able to perform certain actions that normally require Focus for free. Each of these FEATS can have a huge effect on the game, so timing your use of them is crucial to get the most benefit.

The other thing is that as powerful and useful as your Warcaster is... they are also the only thing making your Warjacks work. This means that no matter how dire the game is going for you... if you can kill the enemy Warcaster you win.

In Summary

This game is a lot of fun, with some amazing models for use in it. It also isn’t hard to pick up the rules, although I know for a fact that it takes a while to master.

My Score: 10/10. I have no issues with this game, the rules are sound and luckily for me I have several opponents at my local store. It also doesn’t require 20+ dice to play with four D6 being the most I have ever seen rolled at once.


Raptor1313 said…
I think 4d6 is about as much as it takes. Some folks can chuck 4d6 on an attack, and if you're throwing an area-effect attack you can get the to-hit, scatter distance and direction off 'em provided you have the latter two in distinct colors.

I've recently picked up the game as awell as a second game to 40k.

The game plays MUCH faster, as the basic 50pt army is like 20-30 models for the most part.

I'll second you that the Focus part is a tricky one, but it's giant robots beating the crap out of each other, so I can live with it.

On the up side, a lot of the sculpts are pretty sweet and the game is a lot more characterful in 40k in that a 'horde' army is probably 40 models tops, and you've got unique warcasters and probably a few named Solos in there as well.

On the downside, it's mostly metal, but that's what pinning's for. You may not have a lot of options for models, but you don't care when there are 4-5 Bane Thrall models available to you when you're gonna field 10-20 or so tops. Compare this to Sisters of Battle, with an amazing 3 sculpts for Battle Sisters and the need to field a good number of them in a Witch Hunter force.
Kraggi said…
Yes some good points in there Raptor1313. The Game is ALOT faster.

I managed 4 games this week, that was alongside a 2 hours Firestorm Armarda demo I ran and a 2 hour Warhammer game (I go for the long haul when gaming lol).

While Focus seems tricky at first it does get a lot easier as you go along.

I also have to say that the Idea of the giant robots hitting each other is the main reason I play too.

I do have to amend the 4D6 tho, as using the Butcher, when he pops his feat and charges in the same turn his first attack (assuming it hits) uses 5D6 for damage. Kinda funny against a model with only 5 hit points but oh well lol.
Mike Howell said…
Warmachine (and Hordes) has a different flow than WHFB/40k to be sure. Setting up your activations in the right order to maximize synergy is the fun challenge. One things I've noticed is that the games make great stories. We've talked about WM/H games much more than WH/40k once we were playing both.
Charles Feduke said…
Warmachine is certainly one of my favorite tabletop games. I have been playing since its release when I was looking for something other than 40K to play. Though I have resumed 40K (intermittently) largely to model and paint GW's models.
Kraggi said…
I have to agree that diversity certainly helps with Gaming.

The lore of 40k, Warhammer, Warmachine and Hordes are all excellent and I really enjoy my games of each (well when the dice god doesnt totally desert me lol).