Not a long time ago I had my eyes drawn towards some models which had popped up on the web. Out of the blue marched incredible juggernauts which were obviously aimed at wrecking carnage on the battlefield. The thing that immediately came to my attention was the similarity between those models and a character named “Calibretto”, a war golem, from a comic book I really liked (still do) named Battle Chasers by none other than the great Joe Madureira.
Tempted to know more I went after information on those models soon finding out they were being produced by a hitherto unknown company (hey at least to me it was) named Privateer Press (PP for short from now on) for a new game they had come up with: WARMACHINE.
The name doesn’t fool you as the game is all about huge lumbering warmachines, named “Warjacks” (or jacks as they’re known ) tearing each other apart with powerful blows. PP describes the game on it’s website as a game in which “…the very earth shakes during fierce confrontations where six-ton constructs of tempered iron and steel slam into one another with the destructive force of a locomotive, where lead-spewing cannons chew through armor plating as easily as flesh, and where a tempest of arcane magics sets the battlefield ablaze with such Armageddon-like proportions that the gods themselves fear to tread such tormented ground!”. That surely has appeal right?
Set in the steam-fantasy world of Immoren the game puts the players in control of one of the warring factions fighting for supremacy after the fall of the Orgoth conquerors. The uneasy truce born with the creation of the Iron Kingdoms lies at stake as old pacts are broken, new alliances are forged and it’s up to the players to fight the battles for their scheming lords.
Don’t let my simplistic description of the background story fool you. The Iron Kingdoms has a large, well thought, compelling background story which only adds to the enjoyment of the game giving sense and purpose for the battles fought on the gaming board.
In fact so rich and diverse is the game’s background that PP has also developed and successfully launched a RPG based on it aptly named “Iron Kingdoms” which lets the players explore in detail the intricacies of the kingdoms which often come to a head on the tabletop wargame. It’s worth a good read even you don’t fancy such games if only for the added flavor and extra info on the game’s storyline.
Back to the wargame. I have already mentioned the game let’s you control one of the many factions fighting over land, souls, gold or pure and simply survival in the Iron Kingdoms. So far we have five options in army choices:
CYGNAR: The “boys in blue” are the good guys of the kingdoms. After the fall of the Orgoth the kingdom of Cygnar emerged in a central position which helped its thriving but also put it in a delicate position besieged by enemies on all sides. Boasting the most advanced magika and mechanika surely helped Cygnar securing its place of prominence and gaming wise results on a well rounded force with a little predominance of firepower over brute strength.
KHADOR: “For the Motherland” echoes the cries of the Khadorans when they march for war. The northernmost human kingdom of Immoren is home to cold hearted warriors bent on the quest of reclaiming the lands of their forefathers. Claiming they had been wronged by the treaties which gave birth to the Iron Kingdoms Khador now lurks ominously on the north eyeing it’s neighbors for the first sign of weakness so it can strike mercilessly. Not as rich nor advanced as Cygnar Khador has fewer warjacks at it’s disposal but it makes up for this with the dedication of its winter guard and the extra punch of their heavy warjacks when they get “up close and personal” with the enemy.
PROTECTORATE OF MENOTH: The church of Menoth had a say in Cygnaran politics for a long time until a recent schism, the coup when Vinter Raelthorne was cast away from the throne, led to the creation of the Protectorate of Menoth. Even tough it’s still formally a part of the kingdom of Cygnar the church of Menoth has been secretly pursuing it’s own agenda intent of purifying Immoren of all infidels in the name of Menoth. The forces of Menoth took advantage of its Cygnaran ties stealing and smuggling whatever pieces of arkana or technology they could. They now have a force capable of meeting head on any of the other kingdom’s armies with the added bonus of being able to lay horrendous destruction form afar with the use of its rocket weaponry ant the alchemical fire developed in recent years.
CRYX: The undead servants of the dragon lord Toruk march forward from the dreaded Cryxian Isles to do the bidding of the Dragonfather. A horrifying mix of magika, mechanika and necromancy gives birth to thousands os undead warriors, bonejacks and the rightly feared helljacks that torment the broken coast in search of villages to attack and souls to reap. With every defender that falls the Cryxian army grows even stronger so it’s only a matter of time before the armies of the dragon claim dominancy over the Kingdoms. Fueled by strange magiks the easily replaced bonejacks give support to the heavier variety of Cryxian jacks aptly anmed heljacks. These already formidable forces are aided by the unrelenting undead in battle as they wreak carnage among the living. All in the Dragonfather’s name.
MERCENARIES: Though not a faction per se the mercenaries of Immoren are a force in themselves. Fighting for glory, gold or their own inscrutable agendas mercenaries can be fielded as allies by any of the other forces. Not only that but mercenaries can be fielded as an “all merc” force proving that not only the established kingdoms have objectives or plot in the dark for supremacy in the Iron Kingdoms.
Having read thus far you’re bound to agree with me that the appeal from a game like this is huge no matter what your background in gaming is. Well, sadly I should report that even the huge appeal couldn’t help me getting some models and getting into some warmachine games straight away. Mind you I’m from Brazil, and even tough we have a thriving wargaming community down here it’s still pretty small if compared to European or Northern American standards and the small amount of players we have is scattered all over a country with continental dimensions. To add insult to injury whatever we have down here has to be imported. Stores which carry wargaming products, like those made by Games-Workshop and Privateer Press, are close to non-existent so every single models has to be bought online or in trips abroad.
Given those peculiarities back when I first saw “Warmachine” despite feeling the game was awesome I felt buying those models would only lead to more pewter gathering dust on my bookshelves. How I regret that now.
Fast forward a few years into the future. I’m happily trolling the brazilian warhammer forum (devoted mainly to GW’s games) when I’m surprised by some friends over in Rio de Janeiro saying how much they liked this new game they’d been playing: “Warmnachine”!!!
A few months later, while vacationing on Rio, the very same friends invited me to one of their gaming sessions where I could finally experience a game of Warmachine. And I had a blast at it!
One thing that immediately caught my eye was the amount of models involved in the game. It was a small clash of titans pitting the contents of a Cryx and a Cygnar starter boxes (roughly 350 points a side) which accounted for nine models in total (5 cryxians and 4 cygnarans). Some of you might say that’s too few models to play a nice game with. I would probably agree with you a while back but right now I must say that’s just enough models for a fun game.
This brings me to the second aspect that appealed to me on the game: The gameplay itself. You see I’m no stranger to wargames but playing a new game should demand at least a couple of hours reading but that wasn’t the case. The game is rather simple involving rolling 2D6 (two six sided dice) and comparing these rolls with attributes and stats. So no cryptic tables and damage charts to ascertain what happens in the game making for a very fluid game overall.
I once more beg you not to be fooled by my words. Even tough the game itself is simple it doesn’t mean it’s simplistic. There’s tons of combos and abilities to explore in it which in turn make for very exciting moments during a game, when a few lucky rolls or the use of a special ability can completely turn the tide of battle. Ever felt like grabbing an enemies arm while pumping lead on it’s head at the same time? Or maybe holding the other player’s general aloft just to throw him towards another of his units killing him and the unlucky guys hit by the unwilling “missile”? Then this might just be the right game for you too.
What about these “warmachines”? After all the game is named “Warmachine” after something right? RIGHT and what a hell of warmachines they are. The game has basically 4 kinds of units:
“Warcasters” which are your generals and can unleash powerfull spells as well as controlling the warjacks.
“Units” which pure and simply are a bunch of soldiers which act together during the game.
“Solos” that are powerfull individuals stalking the battlefield.
“Warjacks” which are the huge steam driven armoured behemoths which the game is all about.
All this units have a part to play in a “Warmachine” game but the show clearly belongs to the Warjacks and Warcasters. Remember me mentioning all this nice stunts like throwing, arm locking etc? Well ‘jacks are the ones doing it in the game and they’re pretty damn good at it but you can never be too good at something so that’s when the casters come in. Warcasters are the guys who show magical aptitude to control the warjacks in battle. Not only they control ‘jacks but they’re also able to boost a warjack’s ability in battle, by giving it focus points, effectively letting it roll more dice to decide the outcome of a given action, say hitting or damaging the enemies units.
So the key thing in the game is managing your resources, the warcaster’s focus points, while blasting the enemy to smithereens. Sounds pretty nice hun?
Well if this quick article on the game has wetted your appetite for more make sure to download the “Quickstart Rules” and the “Demo Cards” offered by PP on their website so you can experience the game first hand before spending some hard earned cash on even more models. Other than that have fun, maybe we can meet on the fields of battle of Imoren next time you come to Brazil.