Monday, January 24, 2011

From a Goldfish to a Shark: Helping new Warmachine & Hordes players get started!

As with any game, new players are often the lifeblood of Warmachine & Hordes, but the sheer number of models and options can be overwhelming. Which honestly is the reason I have not started FoW… there is so much stuff that I don’t know where to start!

My plan for this post is to go through what I typically go through when new players ask me where to begin. Keep in mind, as with everything, these are just my thoughts on the subject. It is by no means completely comprehensive, and you may not completely agree with in some spots. Either way, this is some of what I have been telling some of my local players, and I’m putting this out there in the hopes it may help some other people out there as well.

Most players usually seem to have their faction(s) already chosen. Choosing a faction, or at least narrowing it down to 1 or 2 choices, is honestly the 1st step in getting started, and unfortunately you are kind of on your own on that one!

To start off with, usually I tell people to start off small, often at 15 pts for the 1st several games until they get a “feel” for the game and their chosen faction. Fortunately, there are a couple of formats that I feel a new player can take advantage of, each with some of their own pros and cons. If you do plan on starting with an alternate format, it may be better if you can find another player who is willing to conform their list the same format to keep things balanced. The formats I tend suggest as possible options are:

- Mangled Metal/Tooth & Claw
- 1-1-1-1
- Or just any standard 15 pt list

I’ll explain the differences of each:

Mangled Metal/Tooth & Claw- Essentially is a Warcaster/Warlock and either all warjacks or all warbeasts depending on which system you are playing. The nice thing about this format is cuts out all the infantry and solos, and allows the new player to focus all his attention on the heavier elements of his faction. In this format, the player will focus on using their jacks or beasts, but will get little or no experience with things like units and solos. It helps simplify the game to an extent in this way, but the player is not getting the full rules in this format.

1-1-1-1 – Is basically where your army is 1x Warcaster/Warlock, 1x Warjack/Warbeast, 1x Unit, and 1x Solo… hence the whole 1-1-1-1 thing! One of the plus sides of this format is that you can basically pick up whichever are your favorite models of the above types and just give it a go, thus eliminating some of the overwhelming feeling from all the different choices and combos. You also get the benefit of getting experience with the ENTIRE rules set in your game on a slightly smaller, more manageable scale. This can also give you a good base 15 pt to expand into some high levels by filling out units or adding more jacks/beasts. The one downside is that certain casters/locks as well as unit + solo combos can lend themselves more to having an advantage in this format, and some models can legally break the 1-1-1-1 rules by coming with a “companion” model that does not count towards the 1-1-1-1 limit. (Old Witch, Epic Kaya, Mortenebra, and any of the minor caster/locks to name a few)

In addition to the above 2 alternate formats, there are a couple of other potential ideas that I like to point new players towards that can help give them something to focus on in their early lists or just to get them off to a good start. Namely, those are the battlegroup boxsets, and even in some cases the army’s faction book as well.

The battlegroup Boxes - Basically, I boil it down to this: If you are planning to play MM/T&C and you like the caster that’s in your faction’s box then it’s a great buy an easy head start. I also find that if your list uses the beasts/jacks that are in the box then it’s also a good buy as the warcaster/warlock then just because like a “bonus” extra model in a lot of cases once you add up the costs of each individual model. If you don’t like the caster/lock or won’t use all or most of the jacks/beasts in your lists, then you should definitely look elsewhere then!

The faction book- Sometimes, I get someone who just wants to jump right in with a 35 pt list, but has no clue where to begin at that level since the options are limitless. I’m one of those guys that will never tell someone “oh you want to play Mr. X, well then you should make an army out by using X, Y, and Z or you are doing it wrong!” as I think it can ruin a good amount of joy from the game. However, if someone says: “I really like Warcaster X, and unit Y, can a viable army be made around those 2 things?”, it is at that point where I find the army books, and more importantly the tier/theme lists to be extremely helpful. Sure, they may not be the most competitive (although sometimes they can be depending on the list), but again they give a new player a focal point to start their larger army since they limit what you can and cannot take. There is a catch, while it drastically slims down what you can use from your faction’s model range, they can often alter the normal maximum field allowance for certain units/solos which may mean you’ll have a few models that cannot be used outside of that tier/theme list. (i.e. Unit attachments are often FA 1, while most tier lists allow you to use an extra one that doesn’t towards the FA 1 limit) The other downside is some lists see you buying 2 unit boxes of a specific unit for that tier/theme lists when in a normal list you can usually get by with just fielding one… in some lists, these units can also be 2 of a faction’s more expensive units. (Both cash & points wise) The final downside of going the theme route is that you have to have an idea of which Warcaster/Warlock you want to play, and also you may not be able to use a certain favorite model/unit within the theme list depending on which caster/lock you chose. The final added bonus for picking up faction books is that you then have access to all the model’s stats in your faction at any given time (save for new releases done after the printing) which will also let you explore potential combos and rules for your army at your own pace as well as give you a ton of fluff and other reading material!

I will also offer up one last bit of advice. Once you have your Caster/lock picked out, stick with him/her/it for a while before branching out. Ever caster/lock has a few good match ups, a few bad match ups, and balanced match ups out of all the rest. The goal being to learn all the ins and outs of your army’s chosen leader, as he/she/it is often what sets the tone, pace, and theme for your force. That, and they are often subtle, and certain ones are more difficult to master than others. If you don’t believe me, then conduct a little experiment… after several games of playing with the same caster/lock, swap only that model with a different one but keep the rest of your army the same and see how drastically different it will play. That is one of the most interesting aspects of the game; by literally swapping out a single model, you get what will feel like 2 distinctly different lists.

Well, hopefully all this information helps give any potential new players some ideas to help them get started. As I said before, the key I think is give them something to focus in on so they can start making choices geared towards the type of army they want to play. The other thing to remember is that all the above information is simply just a suggestion, so feel free to ignore it all, pick a Warcaster/Warlock and just start building an army out of whatever catches your eye. In the end, that is also always a viable option as well! I will leave you with one final statement: Unlike other games, the learning curve of Warmachine & Hordes can feel steep at times, especially if the opponent isn’t willing to help you with the subtle nuances. Once you can get a handle on the steep learning curve, the game’s rewards are just as steep… if not even more so! I hope some of you out there will find this barrage of info helpful!

Feel free to let me know what you guys/gals think. Is there anything else you find helpful that you would like to add?

- EBC -


  1. Highlander and 1-1-1-1 shouldn't be confused. 1-1-1-1 is as you described. Highlander is 1 solo, 1 unit (with any attachments), 1 warcaster/warlock, and then any number of jacks/beasts up to the point format limit without duplicating any model types (ie you can't take 2 Juggernauts).


  2. ahh, thanks for pointing that out! I've amended my post by removing the reference to the Highlander format.


  3. I haven't played 1-1-1-1 in YEARS. Thanks for reminding me it exists! It might be an entertaining route to go down with my Skorne for a while, once I pick a solo to add...

  4. Yeah 1-1-1-1 (or "Quad 1's as its known here) is probably one of the more popular alt-formats here locally... and Skorne could definitely abuse that format! =P

  5. If you are looking for buy floor locks & appliance caster online.I think this place provide any kind of casters accessories to get at affordable price.

    floor locks & appliance casters