Info for returning players
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- Beware, gentle reader, for you have stumbled upon an article hidden within The Vaults. These dim and dusty halls are a resting place for articles that are seldom read, seldom updated, and sometimes woefully obsolete. Plus, you know, all the other junk we can't find a better place for.
This article is written for players that stopped playing several years ago, started again recently, and want to know what's changed in the meantime.
- 1 Mk2 Reboot (2010)
- 2 Mk2 Expansion (2011-2016)
- 3 Mk3 Reboot (2016.06)
- 4 Mk3 Expansion (2016.06 - 2019.08)
- 5 Oblivion Remix (2019.08)
- 6 Post-Oblivion Expansion (2019-08 to current)
Mk2 Reboot (2010)
- Point scale changed more or less entirely. What used to be a 500 point game in mk1 was a 35 point game in mk2 (and is a 50 point game in mk3)
- LOS entirely dictated by model volume.
- Clouds now provide concealment.
- No more screening.
- No more "waterfalling" damage from charges.
- Many special rules simplified. If there were multiple similar rules, they got condensed into a single version. Some special rules were eliminated.
- Many common rules are now icons on the front of the card.
- Introduction of Retribution of Scyrah and Minions as full Factions.
- Warcasters no longer cost points to add to your army. They also come with extra points that can only be spent on warjacks.
- Warjacks need to be completely destroyed to be removed. Crippling a warjack's system(s) now has some different effects.
- Warlocks have battlegroups now
- Warlocks no longer cost points to add to your army. They also come with extra points that can only be spent on warbeasts.
- Warlocks can no longer reeve from beasts they transfer to.
- Frenzy simplified.
- Formation just in CMD now
- Units come in specific sizes. Normally you can choose between a "Minimum" or "Maximum" sized units, but some units are a fixed size. No spending points on individual dudes.
- Theme Forces introduced. They are rules which restrict which models you can take in your army, but give you in-game benefits as a reward.
- Theme Forces were completely restructured in the mk3 reboot (more detail below). In mk2 they were weak and optional rules, in mk3 they are strong and all but compulsory rules.
- Steamroller became official ... I don't know when exactly.
- Steamroller started out as one player writing a guide for "If you are going to host a tournament, this is what you should do." It has become the default way for people to play, whether or not you're at a tournament, and affects the way players design their army lists.
- It has custom scenarios that change annually.
- Side note: The player who wrote the guide went on to eventually become lead developer at PP.
Mk2 Expansion (2011-2016)
- New model type Ranking Officers
- An attachment for mercenary units which makes them a Faction unit, letting them be targetted by "Faction-only" buffs and spells.
- New model type Battle Engines
- A huge-based (120mm) model with a power level approximately equal to (or slightly above) a heavy warjack/warbeast. But they're not part of your battlegroup.
- New model type Colossals
- A huge-based (120mm) warjack with a power level to match.
- New mini-faction Convergence
- A cult of machine-worshippers who have managed to transfer their souls into robot bodies.
- New model type Gargantuans
- A huge-based (120mm) warbeast with a power level to match.
- New Mercenary contract Cephalyx
- Cephalyx dwell underground, are powerful psychics, and capture live creatures and transform them into mindless drudges to be their combat troops.
New model type Warbeast Packs
- A mixture of the unit rules and the warbeast rules.
- The rules for Warbeast Packs were removed in 2019.07. The models were updated to be Lesser Warbeasts instead.
Mk3 Reboot (2016.06)
- Rules (both the core rules and the model rules) can be downloaded from the PP site for free. See the Useful External Links article.
- Point scale basically doubled, and more points shunted into either your warcaster/warlocks free points, or into your theme free points.
- The standard games size that was 50 points in Mk2, now equals a 75 point game (plus about 45 points of free models)
- 25 and 50 point games are also somewhat common, especially for new players.
- You can premeasure everything.
This led to the knock-on effect of people putting down approximately one bajillion blank bases so they could mark out everything in advance.
The marketing team weren't ecstatic about how that made the game look, so the game devs added rules to Steamroller to reduce the use of proxy bases. Now most people are pretty good at only using 2 "markers" at a time (proxies for when a model can't physically fit are unlimited).
- Many special rules simplified. If there were multiple similar rules, they got condensed into a single version. Some special rules were eliminated.
- Many more common rules are now icons on the front of the card.
- Incorporeal models:
- They still ignore non-magical damage rolls,
- They no longer ignore non-magical effects. For instance a non-magical gun with knock down will make Incorporeal models be knocked down.
- They cannot make free strikes any more. They can still engage enemies in melee, though.
- No more distinction between Light Cavalry and Heavy Cavalry (other than their base stats, and how good they are at Repositioning).
- Models need to be completely within forests/clouds/hills to benefit from it. No more "toeing in" for the concealment/elevation bonus.
- You can still "toe in" for scenario zones.
- No more fear and morale rules.
- The same spell is now more often found within different Factions.
- More spells and effects are "Friendly Faction only". This has decreased the use of Mercenaries & Minions in other Factions.
- Rather than "Prime" and "Epic" versions of characters, models just have numbered versions (Deneghra1, Deneghra2, etc).
- Speed debuffs no longer prevent charges by default. (Some speed debuffs also have an anti-charge clause though.)
- You can't declare charges vs friendly models.
- Melee weapons range changed
- They now have a RNG stat. 0.5", 1", 2", or very rarely 3".
- Ranged weapons ROF changed.
- In mk2 a ROF 3 gun would have 1 initial attack, and you could spend focus to buy another 2 attacks.
- In mk3 a ROF 3 gun has 3 initial attacks.
- Most guns cannot make any more attacks after that, but some can. For example with the Reload rule.
- Many mk2 special rules like Multi-Fire, Strafe-Fire, Quick-Fire, etc were made into ROF 2, ROF 3, or ROF d3 guns.
- You can't make Power Attacks vs friendly models.
- Push and Weapon Lock Power Attacks removed from the game.
- Throw rules simplified.
- There is now a better distinction between Throw caused by a Power Attack, Throw caused by a weapon/spell, and Being Thrown. Similar clarity for Slams.
- You can't cast a friendly spell on a model that is out of formation. (Offensive spells can target out of fornation dudes just fine.)
- Unit Attachments (UA) are now called Command Attachments (CA).
- Command Attachments had their Field Allowance (FA) altered to always match the unit's FA. Character attachments are still limited to one, though, for obvious reasons.
Warcasters and Warjacks
- Warcasters no longer gain extra ARM for camping focus. Instead they can spend focus to reduce damage (up to 5 damage ignored per attack).
- Warjacks no longer leave wreck markers.
- Warjacks gain 1 free focus each turn. They need to be in a battlegroup (not controlled by a Jack Marshal) and be in CTRL range during the Control Phase.
- 'Jack Marshal rules rewritten, they're a fair bit better now.
Warlocks & Warbeasts
- Warlocks can leech fury from warbeasts that are already long dead. During the Control Phase they can gain a fury for every non-lesser warbeast destroyed in the game.
- Warbeast animi are always spells, whoever casts it.
- Frenzy simplified.
- Theme Forces were completely restructed. They're no longer "one per warcaster/warlock". Now they're "4 to 6 per Faction" and can be led by any caster.
- Bonuses aren't locked into tiers anymore - if you play in the theme, you get all the bonuses.
- You get "free cards"
for taking specific stuff. For instance, taking 20 points of Bane models in Dark Host will let you get a free solo. Taking 40 points will get you two free solos, etc.
- The way "free cards" are allocated was changed in 2019.07. It is now much simpler. See the Remix section, below, for more detail.
- Most themes only allow up to one Mercenary unit, and up to one Mercenary solo. This has decreased the use of Mercenaries & Minions in other Factions.
Mk3 Expansion (2016.06 - 2019.08)
New Factions & Model Types
- New mini-faction Grymkin
- A Hordes faction, they're sort of creepy fairytale creatures. Their warlocks don't have feats, but have 3 weaker "Arcana" instead.
- New model type Structures
- A huge based, immobile model. They tend to be support-orientated, with a powerful gun.
- New mini-faction Crucible Guard
- A Warmachine faction, they have straightforward rules (nothing like Arcana or Induction). They have an emphasis on guns and debuffs.
- New mini-faction Infernals
- Nominally a Warmachine faction, they use neither focus or fury but instead have essence. They sacrfice friendly troops to replenish essence. They have horrors instead of warjacks. They can summon new horrors during the game (one per turn).
The Theme Force Effect
What didn't become clear until about a year after mk3 launched was just how big theme forces would become. Nowadays, everyone plays in a theme force. Although you can play non-theme if you want to get a specific combination of models, the benefits of playing in-theme drastically outweigh the drawbacks.
Also, most themes only allow up to one Merc/Minion unit and one Merc/Minion solo. This has decreased the use of Mercenaries & Minions in other Factions.
There have been 4 key changes that have affected how people play the game and design army lists:
- Game length limited to 7 rounds.
- Terrain set out rules implemented, which require a LOS-blocking piece of terrain at the centre or near the centre of the board.
- To win on scenario you need to get 5 points more than your opponent, instead of just 5 total.
- Although any non-warcaster non-warlock model can contest a scenario element, to control it you need a specific type of model.
- Flags can be controlled by solos.
- Rectangular zones can be controlled by warjacks, warbeasts, and battle engines
- Circular zones can be controlled by units.
- Warcasters and warlocks can control anything they like, but can contest nothing.
Community Integrated Development (CID)
CID is a PP-run forum separate to their main forums, where every now and again they have a 2-week window where they ask players for feedback on new models about to be released and existing models that are about to be errata'd. The group of models will always be related - normally they're all in the same theme force.
Refer to Community Integrated Development (CID) for a more detailed explanation.
PP Forums Downsized & Pressganger Programme shut down
At the end of mk2 PP closed down parts of their forum; General Discussion and all the Faction-specific subforums are no more. In the years since, players have migrated to a mixture of Lormahordes, Discord, Facebook, and Reddit. There has been a bit of community splintering as a result.
Around the same time, PP shut down the Pressganger programme (the mostly-volunteer-run recruitment/marketing/tournament-organising group). They shut it down because another game company with a similar programme had a lawsuit made against it and PP didn't want to be in the same boat.
No more paper publications
PP has moved to a digital-only format. In Mk3 they intended to release "Command books" for each faction followed by "Theme books" for each new theme, but not enough people were buying the books (why would you when the rules are free) so they stopped producing theme books and moved the "theme content" into No Quarter Prime.
But not enough people were buying the monthly No Quarter magazine so it was briefly discontinued, then came back as a once-every-3-months No Quarter Prime, only for that to get discontinued as well because people still didn't want to buy it.
The current plan (as of 2018.11) is to put that sort of content on to their online Privateer Insider. The Insider is a series of articles which are a cross between a blog, and news announcements, and "behind the scenes" articles, each written by different staff member.
BAHI models & Mini-Crate models
- Black Anchor Heavy Industries
BAHI is the name of PP's direct-order only range of models that they started in 2017. BAHI models can only be purchased from PP's own online store (or bought 2nd-hand).
Don't be (too) alarmed, not every new model is BAHI. BAHI is only used for huge-based models, and it's not every huge-based model (although it is most of them that have been released since 2017). There are more details on the Category: BAHI article.
Mini-Crate is the name of PP's subscription-only range of "bonus" models that started in 2017, one new model released every month plus a few extra models to encourage new subscribers. There are more details on the Limited Edition Sculpts article.
They're not new models, they're alternate sculpts of existing models. They're mostly mercenary or minion resculpts.
Oblivion Remix (2019.08)
- Theme Forces got a major update.
- The core rules to the game got a minor update.
- Riot Quest game and models hit the market.
Oblivion Campaign Book
The campaign book introduces three key features that are interlinked: A branching campaign structure, asymmetric scenarios and Omen cards.
- Branching campaign
In the Oblivion campaign, you work your way through several missions, each one a larger points value than the last. The players are divided into two teams - Guardians, opposing the Infernals, and Corruptors, supporting the Infernals and/or simply opposing the Guardians. Neither side has certain factions assigned to it, so there's no reason why a Cryx player might be a Guardian or a Morrowan might be a Corruptor...even if canonically it may not make sense - if that's what people are playing in your area, the campaign doesn't restrict you as a result.
There are three types of mission:
- Prologue missions
- These are small points game with no Warcaster or Warlock and only access to Battlegroup Controllers, light warjacks and warbeasts in the 3rd and final prologue mission. The winner typically gets a benefit for winning in their next game. After these are complete, players from each team follow the branch for their missions.
- Guardian missions
- The missions completed by the players opposing the Infernals. The outcome of the game determines which scenario the Guardian player will play next. If a Corruptor player wins, they gain an Omen card.
- Corruptor missions
- The missions completed by the players supporting the Infernals. The outcome of the game determines which scenario the Corruptor player will play next. If a Guardian player wins, they gain an Omen card.
These culminate in a multiplayer game of 100 points. Winning the game prior to this final mission can give the players a benefit. Which scenario they win determines the benefit they get - the more wins, the better the benefit.
- Asymmetric scenarios
This isn't Steamroller. Some scenarios are far harder for one player to win at than others. Some scenarios are attacker/defender based, so don't always encourage coming forward for the defending player. Although some scenarios have a scoring mechanic, some score at the 'start' of the turn or even at the start of a Warcaster/Warlock's activation. As a result, your tactics and list building can end up being very different.
- Omen cards
When a player wins a scenario of the opposite team, they gain one or more Omen cards. These can be played before a game to acquire different benefits.
- Future Plans
Privateer Press intends to release more campaigns with different scenarios. These will also make use of the same deck of Omen cards.
Theme Forces & Requistion Points
- The amount of "free stuff" you get in a Theme Force was completely rewritten.
- You used to have to field "X points of Y model to get Z for free".
- Now you get "One free Z thing per 25 points". So a 75 point game lets you have 3 free things.
- These free things are referred to as your "Requistion Points".
- What you could choose as "Z" was re-evaluated. Now sometimes you can get a "two cheap solos for one" deal. Most armies end up with about 6 points of free stuff per 25 points of game size.
- Some theme forces got merged
- Some theme forces got their restrictions relaxed.
- Some theme forces got access to many more minions.
- Ranking Officers removed from most themes
Core Rule changes
- Hills removed from the game.
- Warbeast Packs transformed into Lesser Warbeasts. Packs were removed from the game.
- When you shoot into melee, and miss, you no longer randomise to a new target. Instead you just miss. (Sprays and AOEs still work the same as they used to.)
- 'Jack Marshals gained a new ability, Shake.
- Gunfighter and Pistoleer clarified so they work properly vs models that "can't be in melee" (such as knocked down models).
Riot Quest is a spin-off boardgame. The models released for RQ can also be used in Warmachine and Hordes. To help identify them I've put the following generic label on them. You can click the link to get a list of all of them.
Riot Quest - Although this model has rules which allow it to be played in Warmachine and Hordes, it was primarily designed for the Riot Quest game. RQ is set in an alternate and/or future timeline where the Infernals won the war. Some of the RQ models have a deliberately goofy aesthetic.
Post-Oblivion Expansion (2019-08 to current)
2019.08 "Blended Themes"
- Blended themes are ones which allow you to take casters & troops from other Factions. Also, they can often be used by more than one Faction for list pairings. Blended themes normally have heavily restricted Warcaster options.
- Infernals: Hearts of Darkness gives access to one of either Cygnar, Cryx, Khador, Protectorate, or Mercenary forces.
- Khador/Cygnar/Mercenary Flame in the Darkness gives access to each other troops, but not each other's casters.
- Khador+Protectorate Warriors of the Old Faith gives access to each other troops and casters.
2019.08 New model "genre": Archons
- Although Archons are only solos, they represent a new level of super-solos. They are angels sent to fight Infernals.
2020.02 New model "genre": Super Juniors
- Although not a new model type, the two Battlegroup Controllers released at this time (Asphyxious4 and Nemo4) are at a new level of power; halfway between a Junior Warcaster and a full warcaster. They have a statline like a warcaster, but lower focus and no feat.
2020.02 Blended theme
- Convergence+Mercenary Strange Bedfellows is a very eclectic blend of Cryx, Cygnar, Convergence, and Mercenary models.
You've just finished reading one of the articles in our Introduction series. The other articles are;
- What is Warmachine and Hordes?
- What do I need to buy/borrow?
- Faction Overview
- Starter Products
- Online Retailers & Secondhand trade groups
- Cheat Sheets
Once you've finished those, you may want to check out the Basic Training series.