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Warmachine: Command Books Opinions

4 Minute Read
Jan 16 2017

Bell of Lost Souls Warmachine Command Books Menoth

Everyone has an option on the new Warmachine and Hordes books. What’s yours?

Chalkboard here from Chalkboard War, with a quick inquiry into the newest product line from Privateer Press. Their “Forces of ___” Command books. Now that the Protectorate book has come out, people are making judgments about the value and use of these tomes. I don’t want to dwell on the two sides being expressed on social media and the forums. Instead, I want to think about what the books actually accomplish: and what that means for their usefulness.

So What Do The Command Books Actually Include?

Fluff. Lots of fluff. Sure, they have rules. Rules for all of the current Warcasters or Warlocks (hence the “Command” in the title). And they have rules for some of the models of the the faction: those models that are usable in the theme lists. Because that’s another piece of what’s in these. The Command books have so far contained a pair of Theme Lists: a set of limits that if you place them on your force, you get some benefits.

Bell of Lost Souls Warmachine Command Books Trollbloods

The extensive part, though, is honestly the fluff. And most extensive is a good hint at purpose of the book. There’s a sort of history account of the faction in question. So far there have also been portions detailing the military organization of the faction. That’s what the lion’s share of these books are bearing: fluff. And that’s what, I think, is making them so divisive.

Remember: New(er) Players Exist Too

We’re running a Journeyman league again at the store where I play a lot of my games. This might seem unrelated to the Command books, but it came as a good reminder. We had three brand-new players show up to join in the fun and one veteran who hadn’t played since Mark I. And as I watched them set up, play, and asked questions, I realized: I was like that at one point. I didn’t know the game, I was unaware of all the rules, and I definitely didn’t know the fluff.

And in that, I think that’s the group that these Command Books are primarily aimed at. Remember: it’s been nearly six years since Mark II was released, and that’s a lot of time for the natural rhythms of the player base to draw new players into the game. The Mark III release also brought in new players. And that means that there are people who may not have been as invested in the stories and narratives that Privateer Press has built in their continued printed releases.

Bell of Lost Souls Warmachine Command Books Cygnar


Likewise, don’t forget that a great number of people have jumped factions with the start of Mark III. I know I have, and many of the players in our meta have as well. Given that, the demand for another compiled book containing the background and stories of the factions could certainly be welcome. Warmachine and Hordes have a lot of lore to learn. While some players don’t care about it, other players have a strong and active interest in learning about a faction if they start playing it.

I recognize the complaints that some are making about the Command books: that they don’t have much new in them, there are only two theme lists, and they’re not even a full catalog of the faction’s models. Those are legitimate concerns. For the long-time player, that might be a reason to skip the books. But for new(er) players, either to the game or to a particular Warmachine or Hordes faction, I think there’s a great deal of value in these Command books. Perhaps it’s the simple instance of remembering that not all products cater to everyone. If it’s designed for someone else rather than you, it’s not a problem–it might actually be helping to grow the game.

~ What’s your take on the Command books for Warmachine and Hordes? Are they worth it for all gamers? Useful for new players? Handy for those changing factions? A waste of money? Let us know what you think about them in the comments section below. 

If you’re looking for some other good reading material, take a look at Chalkboard’s Warmachine and Hordes blog at:

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