Faction Overview

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This article describes the various Factions. Each description is relatively short, and serves more to whet your appetite and help you narrow down your choices, rather than describe the Faction in-depth (in-depth descriptions can be found on each Faction's own dedicated page).

Factions vs Theme Forces

A "Faction" in Warmachine and Hordes is an army where the soldiers all belong to the same country, culture, or species. When you play a game of Warmachine/Hordes, all the models in your army must belong to the same Faction (although Mercenaries and Minions can hire themselves out to other Factions).

Choosing which Faction you want to collect, before you even begin playing, can be a tough decision! This article tries to give a "broad brush" description of each Faction.

Factions are further subdivided into Theme Forces which restrict which models you can field but give you various theme benefits in exchange. Most Factions have one theme which specialises in warjacks or warbeasts, and 2-4 other themes which each specialise in a different genre of troop. Warjacks and warbeasts can be taken in the troop-heavy themes, you just don't tend to get any bonuses for them, so players take far fewer of them.

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Tip !
There are several themes which blur the lines between Factions, allowing you to take a plethora of models from two or more Factions. This can be a good or bad thing, depending on whether you want to get "tournament ready" as fast/cheaply as possible (which requires two army lists from the same Faction); or whether you prefer to explore models from several Factions before settling down.

See the Crossing the Themes article for more info on these blurry themes.

Core Factions vs Limited Factions

Factions are classified as either "Core" or "Limited Release".

    Core Factions    

A Core Faction is one that has been around since the start of the game (or very close to the start). Core Factions have a lot of models to collect, a steady stream of new releases each year, and 3 to 6 theme forces.

There are 6 Core Warmachine Factions and 5 Core Hordes Factions.

    Limited Release Factions    

A Limited Release Faction is much newer. They have a small range of models, an intermittent dribble of new releases, and only 2 theme forces each.

Although they have fewer models to design a competitive list with, they are more well-rounded (ie they have good synergies) and often have unique rules that alter how the game is played. Some veterans recommend that newbies steer away from Limited Factions because those unique rules make them "harder to learn" but I disagree - they're not that harder if you're learning everything else as well. Also, the smaller range of options makes it easier to plan purchases.

There are 3 Limited Warmachine Factions and 1 Limited Hordes Faction.

Note: "Limited Release" doesn't mean, like, "Limited Edition". They're no harder to find/buy than the core factions.

Faction Complexity

Every Faction includes at least one complex caster and/or theme which will be tricky to master. However, some Faction's baseline of complexity is higher than others, and as a new player you might want to steer clear of them (unless you like a challenge, of course!).

Mostly this complexity comes down to how many "support models" the army is reliant on. Support models normally have 2 or 3 different buffs but can only use one per turn; so you need to know which buff you need on any given turn, when during your turn you need it, and where the support model needs to stand to apply the buff. All armies use some support models, but the more your army needs the harder it becomes to plan your turn.

Somewhat complex

  • Protectorate of Menoth - Lots of support models to manage.
  • Skorne - Lots of support models to manage.
  • Circle of Orboros - A fair amount of support models. Also, outmanoevering your opponent is extra important for this faction.
  • Trollbloods - Lots of support models, and lots of "auras" which mean your troops have to position around the support models just right. Lastly, the troops are on bigger bases making it easier to accidentally block yourself in.

More complex

  • Infernals - Unusual rules
  • Convergence of Cyriss - Unusual rules
  • Grymkin - Unusual rules

Core Warmachine Factions

The Kingdom of Cygnar

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Cygnar are often depicted as the good guys who aren't too morally objectionable, though they have picked up a good number of grudges over the years. They are really adept with technology, which has translated on the tabletop to a "shooting faction"; they have many big guns with long range and high power and the support abilities to make them even better. A lot of their signature weapons and spells are themed around lightning and electrical damage.

On the other hand when Cygnar fights in melee they don't deal huge amounts of damage. Instead they rely on weapons with special abilities that damage multiple models and/or stun them, taking the enemy at least partially out of the game for a turn.

Though their troops don't match up to other Factions' elite warriors in terms of resilience, Cygnaran soldiers are highly trained or armed with state-of-the-art weaponry (and in some cases, both).

Cygnar is subdivided into four theme forces:

Cygnar players also have access to 1 "extra" theme force. It is an extra because very few Cygnar warcasters are allowed in this theme:

  • Flame in the Darkness - This is the Morrowans and Thamarites from three different factions (Cygnar, Khador, and Mercenary) banding together to fight the Infernal invasion.

The Khadoran Empire

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The nation of Khador fights mostly for its own imperial ends. Their tech isn't nearly as sophisticated as Cygnar's but they make up for it by putting five tons of armor onto anything. They don't have the same flashy infantry equipment as their arch enemy Cygnar, relying instead on their conscripts' number and nationalism, canny assassins of their merchant lords and hulking steam-armored troops. Khador is easy to hit, but hard to hurt, their low basic speed may fool you to consider them slow. However, Khador is neither slow, nor a melee-only army. They actually do a decent job at range - predominantly in the form of AOE attacks. Living in the cold north, many of their spells are themed around cold damage and freezing enemies in place.

Khador is subdivided into 5 theme forces:

Khador players also have access to 2 "extra" theme forces, although very few Khador warcasters are allowed in these themes:

  • Flame in the Darkness - This is the Morrowans and Thamarites from three different factions (Cygnar, Khador, and Mercenary) banding together to fight the Infernal invasion.
  • Warriors of the Old Faith - This is the Menites from two different factions (Khador and Protectorate) banding together to fight the Infernal invasion.

The Protectorate of Menoth

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A robed, religious and inquisitorial theocracy who seceded from Cygnar after a major sectarian conflict. They are knights templar in word and deed. Warjacks are technically blasphemous under the Menite religion, so the Protectorate has nowhere near as much expertise as the other factions -- something which translates to a generally sub-par stat line. However, they make up for this blasphemy by sanctifying every square inch of their warjacks, something which shows in their fine range of support units and buffs. Put the right buffs on a Menite warjack in the right order and it can brawl with the best of them. There are also numerous fire-based attacks and they have ways to bring back dead warriors (or put their souls to good use). The Protectorate also has ways to field zealous infantry in every size and shape: be it an unstoppable tide of fanatics massed together, a group of swift assassins, or a cadre of a few elite knights ready to defend their faith unto death and beyond.

The Protectorate is subdivided into four theme forces:

Protectorate players also have access to 1 "extra" theme force, although very few Protectorate warcasters are allowed in this themes:

  • Warriors of the Old Faith - This is the Menites from two different factions (Khador and Protectorate) banding together to fight the Infernal invasion.

The Nightmare Empire of Cryx

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Cryx is a faction of necromancers ruled over by Toruk the Dragonfather: the oldest and most powerful dragon in the world. Rather than creating warjacks from steel and animating them with coal they instead create Bonejacks and Helljacks from steel and bone, animating them with stolen souls. Cryx is something of a horde army; bonejacks and helljacks are fast, strong, cheap, and good in melee, but fairly easy to destroy. To back up their 'jacks, Cryx fields some of the nastiest warcasters in the game who love to cast spells that debuff the enemy's pants off and absolutely ruin their day. As well as reaving the souls and corpses of their fallen enemies. They really like applying corrosion to enemies. Their infantry is mostly undead that is designed to mess with the enemy: half-mechanical wretches stitched together from corpses, ghostly Bane knights, corrupted Ogruns, and lethal pirates sailing the black waves of the Cryxian shorelines.

Cryx is subdivided into four theme forces:

The Retribution of Scyrah

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The Retribution does not represent a national army, but rather a militant religious sect within the elf-kingdom of Ios. Central to the Retribution's dogma is that humanity's use of magic is responsible for the dying state of the elven gods and that all non-elves who use magic should be destroyed. Officially the rulers of Ios do not endorse the Retribution, but the sect still manages to recruit troops and warjacks from the major noble houses in sufficient numbers to be a serious military power.

The Retribution is a dualist faction; they can be either use top-class tanks or première glass cannons, but never really both in one game. Their choices of warcasters, infantry and solos reflect this duality; either tough combined-arms units, or squishy assassins. They are good at both melee and ranged combat, shoving the enemy around the battlefield and locking down their movement options. Their Myrmidons (the Elven equivalent of warjacks) further strengthen the combined-arms approach by bearing both ranged and melee weapons on themselves. Many of them also sport force fields, a signature trait in this faction.

Retribution is subdivided into four theme forces:


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Mercenaries are auxiliary troops that most Warmachine factions have access to. But you can also create a Pure mercenary army if you add a mercenary warcaster and his warjacks. It is hard to talk about Mercenaries in general, they are an extremely diverse faction. The psychically powerful Cephalyx who use mind-control to enthrall their opponents, the Dwarven nation of Rhul with their Ogrun auxiliary forces, and the reckless raiding parties of the Privateers. As well as the remnants of the Llaelese Resistance fond of guerrilla-warfare, or the run-of-the-mill sell-swords of the Steelhead regiments all fall under this category. Various mercenary solo models are often highly sought-after, as they provide efficient ways to fill gaps in your army composition. Mercenary armies have the largest selection of solos to choose from.

Mercenaries are subdivided into seven theme forces:

  • The Irregulars - An army of characters which can only take a handful of units
  • Hammer Strike - Dwarves and Ogrun from the nation of Rhul
  • The Kingmaker's Army - The rebels that overthew the Cygnaran throne under Magnus
  • Llaelese Resistance - A guerrilla force which opposes the occupation of Llael by Khador & the Protectorate
  • Operating Theater - Cephalyx, psychic creatures that live underground, and capture surface dwellers to experiment upon and turn into an army of mindless Drudges.
  • Steelheads - A well-organised military force which makes extensive use of combined arms
  • The Talion Charter - Human pirates bases in the neutral nation of Ord

Mercenary players also have access to 2 "extra" theme forces, with fewer traditional Mercenary models and more non-Mercenary models.

  • Flame in the Darkness - This is the Morrowans and Thamarites from three different factions (Cygnar, Khador, and Mercenary) banding together to fight the Infernal invasion.
  • Strange Bedfellows - An eclectic mix of Cryx, Convergence, and Cygnar forces teaming up to fight the Infernals. And it's a Mercenary force because... reasons?

Core Hordes Factions

The Trollblood Kriels

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The Trollbloods are probably the least morally objectionable army in the game. They are a people fighting the spread of hostile human civilization. Trolls are depicted as extremely Scottish, with kilts, sporrans, kegs of ale, and a guy named "Grim Angus". One of their battle engines is a huge booze cart, carrying an inhumanly large keg from the finest hooch. They've been shoved around by the human nations for years but have recently learned how to command the truly monstrous Dire Trolls. And they are now on the march. The Trollbloods are a fairly slow army that's easy to hit/easy to hurt but much harder to actually kill. They're excellent at healing and buffing themselves, with Dire Trolls in the habit of eating models they kill for some quick and easy healing. Between self-healing, buffing, and the near-ubiquitous Tough rule, they are quite resilient. Their Trollkin warriors come in all shapes and sizes from man-sized to monstrous.

Trollbloods are subdivided into four theme forces:

The Circle Orboros

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The Circle is a mostly-human order of druids, charged with protecting the balance between the human god Menoth (Law and civilization) and the feral god Orboros, also known as The Devourer Wurm (Nature, red in tooth and claw). As civilization is on the rise in Immoren, that means the druids act to stop it. Do not think that this makes them nice people; they believe their ends justify their means. The Circle is a maneuverability- and terrain-based faction. Quite a few circle warlocks can create forests and/or teleport themselves and their armies arpund the field. Their warbeasts range from shape shifting warpwolves to the birds of prey of the skies, their druids can summon even the rocks and stones of the earth to do their bidding, and stride forward in the form of relentless wold constructs. Most of their troops are not hindered by forests the way that other factions are. Among the troops you will find druids wielding the powers of the very elements of the nature, merciless hunter tribes of the Tharn, or the de-facto military arm of the Circle in form of the Wolf-Sworn units.

Circle is subdivided into four theme forces:

The Skorne Empire

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An honorable but brutal nation of warriors marching into the Iron Kingdoms with conquest on their minds, supported by torturous blood magic and armed with angry pachyderms. Skorne are seemingly the slowest, tankiest army in Hordes. However, with outstanding support tools at their disposal they can make their slumbering warbeasts to run forward from downtown and with the strength buff available to them they will hit like a freight train. They have several "retaliation" effects, allowing them to take a hit and strike back afterwards. For this reason they excel at "attrition melee", wherein the longer you fight them, the more they gain the upper hand -- partially through their tankiness, partially due to their special rules. For the infantry you can choose between the venerable Immortals, the elite rank of hulking Cataphracts and the legion-like Praetorian warriors, or the aspiring but less trained Venators who prefer to hunt prey at range.

Skorne is subdivided into four theme forces:

  • Disciples of Agony - Warbeast-centric, with the Skorne bossing around Minions, and enslaving Minion warbeasts
  • The Exalted - Walking statues, housing the honoured souls of deceased Skorne warriors
  • Masters of War - The Praetorians & Catephracti, the most elite Skorne soldiers
  • Winds of Death - Rank and file Skorne infantry called Venators, who specialise in ranged combat

The Legion of Everblight

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Everblight is one of the dragons spawned millenia ago by the Dragonfather Toruk. Everblight was never the strongest but has proven himself the most cunning, and the most adept at controlling his blight. His physical body was destroyed centuries ago by an elven army, but instead of regenerating it as normal he has managed to spread his athanc through hundreds if not thousands of his blighted followers, controlling their every action.

Everblight has now amassed a Legion of blighted creatures and twisted dragonspawn and uses them to further his own aims: to consume the athancs of his brother dragons and thus become powerful enough to challenge the dragonfather Toruk directly.

Most of the Legion's warbeasts can navigate terrain with frightening ease and are bound to do so in order to make an alpha-strike. They must avoid protracted combat, and to help that they sport outstanding mobility tricks beside their innate abilities. Infantries can be summoned from capable elven fighters, twisted Grotesque herds or brutally effective, wild ogrun tribes. If you look for a fast army of twisted dragon creatures, and a bias toward hit-and-run warfare, look no further.

Legion is subdivided into four theme forces:



Minions are auxiliary troops that most of Horde factions have access to. Pure Minion armies can be fielded using monstrous Gatormen and pig-like Farrow. Gatormen can be fielded, along with Bog Trogs & Croaks the other peoples of the swamps, in the Blindwater Congregation led by the living demigod Barnabas Lord of Blood. Farrow, along with bigger pigs, can be fielded in the Thornfall Alliance, led by Lord Carver and the sinister Dr Arkadius. Both sub-factions play hard and fast, with a selection of warbeasts and some of the best Lesser Warlocks around.

Minions are subdivided into three theme forces:

  • Will Work For Food - Allows all Minion Warlocks (although each still has a limited battlegroup), at the cost of most of the unique units & solos of each subfaction.
  • The Blindwater Congregation - Gatormen, a brutal & shamanistic race who have enslaved the Bog Trogs & Croaks in service to their living god, Barnabas Lord of Blood
  • The Thornfall Alliance - the Farrow (Pigmen), brutal tribesmen united by the charismatic Lord Carver. They use a variety of simple weaponry alongside crude machinery & guns.

Limited Factions

The Convergence of Cyriss

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The Convergence is a minor warmachine faction. Cyriss is the goddess of science and mathematics, also known as the Maiden of Gears. Inhabiting a celestial realm far from Caen, Cyriss was recently discovered by human scientists. These scientists formed the Convergence of Cyriss, a cult dedicated to changing the very planet so that eventually Cyriss can be summoned to inhabit Caen itself and bring in an eternal age of perfection. Most followers of the Convergence seek to transcend human flesh and live on as a soul inside a machine body, a clockwork vessel. The Convergence has a unique type of warjack, the Vectors, and are unusual in that most of their models are constructs.

Convergence is subdivided into two theme forces:

They also have 1 "extra" theme force with fewer Convergence models, and more models from other Factions:

  • Strange Bedfellows - An eclectic mix of Cryx, Convergence, and Cygnar forces teaming up to fight the Infernals.

The Crucible Guard

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The Crucible Guard is the military wing of the Order of the Golden Crucible, the largest and most respected alchemy guild in Immoren. The alchemists of this ancient and venerable society used to reside in Llael before Khador invaded. After the loss of their key fortress they had to flee into the Kingdom of Ord, furthering their operation under this - seemingly neutral - state's aegis. They use alchemical drugs to give a normal human arcane powers...but at a great cost to their health. Much like Cygnar, the Order is pretty adept at ranged warfare. Being the masters of the arcane sciences, they rely mainly on fire and corrosion-based attacks, while robbing away the enemy's protection against said weapons. They also have various ways to de-buff the enemy via alchemic substances, especially undead and construct targets.

CG is subdivided into two theme forces:

  • Prima Materia - Guard’s armour theme, which allows Railless & warjacks but no mercenaries
  • Magnum Opus - Guard’s everything theme, which means lots of Rocketmen & Infantry

Grymkin, the Wicked Harvest

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When Menoth returned to humanity after battling the Devourer Wurm, a few willful individuals led by the one known as the Heretic defied him. As punishment they were cast into the wilds of Urcaen (the afterlife realm) where they have suffered since. Now they have returned, and with them are the nightmares and tormented souls of Urcaen. This is the stuff of legend, folk lore and nightmare. This is the Grymkin.

On the battlefield they are an army with a strong bias towards melee. Grymkin armies rely heavily on gathering the corpses, the enemy's and their own, to further strengthen their own forces.

Their unique mechanism is the Arcana system which they have instead of feats. Arcana are like 3 mini-feats that the Grymkin player can change each game, which trigger when the opponent performs specific actions - they're effectively "trap cards".

Grymkin is subdivided into two theme forces:


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Infernals are evil beings from a mysterious realm that is beyond both Caen and Urcaen; Caen being the mortal world in which Warmachine and Hordes is set, and Urcaen being essentially the afterlife world.

The inhabitants of Caen lack deep knowledge of the Infernals, only knowing that they are ruthless predators with a thirst for mortal souls. They have moved in the shadows of civilisation for millennia, but they have now come in force to claim the debt humanity owes them for receiving the gift of magic (that helped free mankind from its Orgoth oppressors). While staved off by the Wicked Harvest, the Infernals have not been deterred, and are here to reap the souls of two-thirds of humanity.

With the power to summon their beasts and warriors right into combat from their own Infernal plane, nothing like these creatures has ever been seen on the battlefields of the Iron Kingdoms before.

Infernals are subdivided into 2 themes:

  • Dark Legacy is the "pure" infernal force, with the powerful Infernal Masters and their Horrors.
  • Hearts of Darkness is a "corrupted" human force, but only has the lesser Master Infernalist Princess Regna and Lesser Horrors available. Instead of a Master you get a warcaster from another Faction, their warjacks, plus up to 2 units and 3 solos from that same Faction to supplement your Infernal units/solos. With six factions to "steal" troops from it is an incredibly diverse theme that is hard to describe.

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Once you've finished those, you may want to check out the Basic Training series.