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December 1, 2010

Warmachine: How to Choose A Faction - Part I

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There are many ways to pick a faction when starting a new army: background, aesthetics, playstyle.  Now I can't tell you which design styles you should like, and we've already written a bunch of articles detailing the backgrounds of the major Warmachine and Hordes factions, so this one will focus on the playstyles of each of the main forces.
So you want to start playing Warmachine, but you aren't sure which faction is for you.  I realize that most of you reading this will be coming from a Games Workshop background, probably 40k.  When most of us think of playstyles in 40k-land, we think of the shooty factions (IG, Tau, Necrons, etc), the close combat factions (Orcs, Nids, DE....), the fast factions (Eldar, DE.....), and so on.  While most factions will have a few units that break from that overall style, for the most part the armies will play a certain way.  There aren't many people who can turn IG or Tau into a fully close combat force.

Warmachine and Hordes armies don't work that way.  I see numerous posts around the internet asking for advice on which faction is best at running Warjacks, for example.  The nice fact about the game is that there isn't one answer.  Every faction has shooting, and can play a solid shooting list.  Every faction can do well with lots of beasts/jacks, or lots of combat infantry.  The trick is that they all do it in a different way.

Warmachine versus Hordes aka Fury versus Focus
If playstyle is your only consideration, then you need to decide whether you prefer Warmachine or Hordes.  Warmachine is the older game by several years, and so the factions have a few more casters, and a few more options in units, solos, and Warjacks.  Warmachine also uses Focus, which makes it more of a resource management system.  You'll need to carefully decide each turn where and how to use your limited Focus points to get the most from your force.

By contrast, Hordes utilizes the Fury mechanic.  Fury is a lot more flexible than Focus, since you can effectively make more of it as needed, however, you are essentially required to run multiple Warbeasts in order to keep your Warlock fully fueled up with Fury.  But, the flexibility of Fury means many Warbeasts are 1-2 points more expensive than their Warjack counterparts.  As you lose Warbeasts and access to Fury sources, your Warlock loses power, whereas, a Warcaster in Warmachine will always generate Focus.  Additionally, Hordes forces tend to have more all-terrain abilities than Warmachine factions and the Warbeasts tend to be faster than Warjacks.  I find this gives a slightly larger element of maneuver warfare to a Hordes faction than to a Warmachine one.  Lastly, except for a couple special exceptions, Hordes has no Arcnodes, meaning the Warlocks will have to stay closer to the front in order to use their spells, and that means a greater risk of assassination.  So if keeping your caster in the back slinging spells is more your style, you may want to look towards Warmachine.

Warmachine: More options.  Warcasters maintain their power even without Warjacks.  A resource management system.  Warjacks are often tougher than Warbeasts.

Hordes: Fury is more flexible.  Tends to be faster and more mobile.  No Arcnodes.

Breaking Down the Factions
Cygnar: Is good at lightning and long-ranged direct-fire weapons (think rifles).  Infantry tend to be a little slower (SPD 5) & need a little buffing from the Warcaster in order to get the most out of them.  Otherwise, Cygnar is pretty solid at every type of play.  It can take some time to get the most out of your units and Warcaster.  Note- Cygnar is often considered the "good" faction in Warmachine.

Menoth: Likes fire and buff's.  Warjacks and infantry are comparably weaker on paper, but can be made fantastic with a bit of help.  Shooting tends to be either very short ranged with high POW, or very inaccurate long ranged AOE's, with flaming spray attacks on several units.  The trick is learning how many points and effort it's worth spending on the support units versus your main units.  Can be either an elite force of excellent troops, or horde of cheap guys, or a mix.  The slower speed on most of the 'jacks, along with all of the aura buffs mean this faction tends to brick up more than most others.

Khador: Ice Ice Baby!  Cold is everywhere in this faction with lots of ice effects.  Tends to be more of a melee faction with heavily armored infantry and Warjacks.  Ranged weapons are a mix of everything- long ranged AOE's, medium ranged rifles, sprays, and short ranged  No light Warjacks and no Arcnodes mean the Warcasters have to play farther forward.  They make up for this by having some of the highest statlines in the game.  Infantry tend to be self-sufficient and on the faster side, with lots of all-terrain.  The Warjacks are all SPD 4, however most of the Warcasters have some means of increasing the speed of one or more 'jacks in their control.

Cryx:  Who doesn't like evil undead pirates?!  This faction features slower infantry with fast Warjacks (SPD 6 heavies!).  Higher defenses and lower armor values are common.  Many units have either Stealth or Incorporeal.  The Warcasters are fantastic at de-buffing the enemy, and great attack spells along with cheap, fast Arcnodes mean magical assassination is a go-to tactic.  If the faction is weak at anything, it's long ranged shooting attacks.

Retribution:  Angry, pissed off elves.  Retribution is a bit between Cygnar and Cryx.  Lots of magical attacks, with good shooting and higher SPD 'jacks.  This is the newest Warmachine faction, so it doesn't have all the unit options available to the other factions.  The infantry is awesome, but tends to need help from support/buff spells to get the most out of them.  Nearly every Warjack has a ranged attack.

Mercenaries: Depending on the route you go, they can do a bit of everything!  Dwarves are slow and heavily armored, with great shooting.  Pirates feature lots of solos and shooting.  Steelheads have solid cavalry and infantry similar to Cygnars.  However, the available mercenary contracts will limit what you can take with certain casters, and that means you'll have fewer options available to you than a "standard" faction.  The plus side is that even more than every other faction, by simply switching out your caster, you have access to an entirely different playstyle.

That's the rundown for Warmachine. So what faction do you think best fits your playstyle, regardless of what gamesystem you play right now? Coming up in part II we'll discuss the Hordes factions!  Find out even more by clicking that giant Warmachine/Hordes banner to visit Privateer's homepage. -Lux
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