When it comes to taking on Games Workshop, companies have taken a variety of strategies. Privateer Press chose to stand up and fight GW on the home turf with their game WARMACHINE. In the five years since WARMACHINE's release, Privateer Press, has built a game which can compete with any of GW's products on an equal level. It is a game which features detailed rules, an amazing universe, highly detailed all metal figures, and even a full line of paint products.
WARMACHINE is designed to be a skirmish level game which can be played in a relatively short time once the rules have been learned. Most armies will feature less then 25 models and starter armies can have as few as 3 models. Many of the mechanics are shared with other games. Movement and ranges are all measured in inches. When an attack is made, LOS is checked, and separate rolls are made for hitting targets and damaging targets.
Where WARMACHINE really shines is in the amount of tactical options each character possesses and the player's ability to influence dice rolls at critical times throughout the battle. Every unit type has a set of standard actions which can be performed. Also, most units have a host of special abilities and attacks which be performed instead of the standard attack and movement options. Thanks to these diverse options, how an army is played is often far more important then what units are included in an army.
Armies of WARMACHINE consist of Warcasters, Warjacks, Troops, and Solos. Warcasters are incredibly powerful wizards which function as battle force commanders. Warjacks are steam punk versions of Mechs which are controlled by the Warcaster through a telepathic link. Troops are squads of soldiers and creatures which must fight in the ground between the massive Warjacks. Solos are individual characters who fight by themselves. Often time these solos are unique characters.
One of the coolest features of the game is called boosting. Most attack and damage rolls are resolved using 2d6 where higher rolls are better. Warcasters can use a magical power called focus to boost the attack and damage rolls of Warjacks. When an attack is boosted, it is resolved using 3d6 which can potentially result in much larger rolls. Therefore, instead of relying purely on luck in those critical moments of combat, a boosted roll can help ensure that important hit is delivered on target.
Getting started in WARMACHINE seems simple. Each of the four factions has a starter box which contains a Warcaster and several Warjacks. Despite the small figure count of these boxes, the experience they offer is fantastic. Thanks to the diverse amount of tactical options, WARMACHINE excels at small battles. Once a player is ready to expand on the starter boxes, all the advanced rules and unit stats can be found in a single rule book. Unfortunately, there really isn't an easy way to learn the game. Many games come with a set of training scenarios to learn the game. While these scenarios usually range from lame to stupid, they really help in teaching the mechanics of complex games. WARMACHINE does not have training materials in either the starter boxes or the complete rule book.
Despite the learning curve, which can be difficult to players who are new miniature war gaming, learning WARMACHINE is well worth the effort. This is one of the best games I have ever played. It is cheap to get started and battles are dynamic and different every time thanks to the diverse strategic options each figure possesses. Do not pass over this game because battles may only involve a few figures. Instead, give it a try out and chances are, you will have a heck of a time.
Overview: WARMACHINE is a skirmish level miniature war game with diverse tactical options and unique character types.
Quick Summary: WARMACHINE is one of the best games I have ever played. Find someone who owns the game and play it.
Anything bad? - Yes. The lack of training material can make the game difficult to learn.[Addition: You can get everything to get started here for Free!]