Lesson 5: Factions

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This article is part of Warmachine University's Learn Objectives, Tactics, & Strategy (LOTS) series, which is "Intermediate Training" aimed at intermediate players who are trying to become better players.
(You may also be interested in our "Basic Training" series, LPG.)
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As of 2018.11 the LOTS articles are still a WIP. If you have a question that isn't answered, or a topic you'd like to see added, we'd like to hear about it. Post your thoughts on the Talk:Learning to Play the Game (LPG) page.

Elaborate on a lesson per faction.


Harnessing Lightning[edit]

Electricity, and its related effects, is one of the unique advantages that Cygnar armies enjoy. Other factions can use it sparingly, but no one else can concentrate their effects like a Cygnar player. When it comes to electricity, there are three general fields of concern: Electricity typed attacks, Disruption and Electro Leaps.

Electricity typed attacks[edit]

This is probably the most straight forward thing to understand. Basically, if it has an electricity typed attack, bring things to buff it. There are a ton of electric typed attacks in Cygnar, so you can refer to Category:Electricity Damage to see those models. When it comes to electricity buffs, there are fewer of those:

  • The Firefly is the premier damage buff for lightning. Giving +2 in a 5" bubble is huge. This also brings up the damage of the electro leaps, and the difference between POW 10 and POW 12 is significant when it comes to killing solos with boxes. Fireflies are even able to self buff, if they can get close enough to a model to shoot it without being in melee. Some top ranked players have brought veritable swarms (4+ fireflies) to buff each other. It also helps that the firefly is our joint cheapest jack, so he is a good one to bring with a Journeyman Warcaster, since he can buff so many different things.
  • The Storm Strider buffs the accuracy of electrical guns. Although not as ubiquitous as the firefly, this can be huge. For things like Dynamo, Thunderhead or a Stormclad, bringing them from RAT 6 to 8 means that they can often save their focus for boosting damage instead of attack. The Strider also has a phenomenal range, thanks to its huge base, and having command 10.
  • Silver Line Stormguard and Major Katherine Laddermore are more focused in their buffs, both being short ranged, and Laddermore only buffing stormlances. They certainly aren't as plug and play as the firefly or storm strider, but in the right list, their buffs can be well placed.
  • Nemo 3 is the undisputed king of lightning. His feat turn has the ability to do shocking (pun intended) amounts of damage. This obviously dictates that he bring a significant amount of lightning damage, but combining buffs like those from the firefly, storm strider and Laddermore, can make it that much more potent. He should fear any opposing lists that bring lightning immune models. Skorne Archidons can sit outside of your charge range, and be completely invincible to all of your ranged attacks. Facing either of the Kruegers in Circle can be nightmare, since one makes everyone close to him lightning immune and the other can hand it out to a unit. Earthborn Dire Trolls are also to be feared, since they can't be damaged on the way in, and have the power to utterly smash Nemo's models. Mitigating these models and lists can be a challenge for Nemo.


While not exclusive to electrical damage, disruption often comes on them. I will again refer you to Category:Disruption for those models with it. The amount of models with Disruption has been significantly reduced from Mark 2, with most being switched to critical disruption. Straight disruption in Cygnar is now solely found on Thorn and some Warcasters or their aides. Make sure you know which models have disruption in your army, since landing a key disruption can mean the difference between a dead heavy, and just a slap on the wrist. Disruption is absolutely crippling for warjacks, since most are designed with the ability to have and use focus to make up for their short comings. If you disrupt a jack, look for opportunities to capitalize on that, by knocking it down or taking out it's cortex. Doing so will mean the warjack will be completely out of the fight next turn, or will never be able to gain focus, spelling it's doom.

Electro Leaps[edit]

Refer to Category:Electro Leap for a brief of what they can or can't do. Understanding where and how to place electro leaps can mean the difference between success and defeat in a largely lightning army. A huge part of understanding them is knowing where your leaps will travel to. If you shoot a squishy, high DEF infantry model with the main attack, and it is standing next to a warbeast, that leap is just going to jump to the beast and (probably) do nothing. You are better off shooting the (most likely) low DEF warbeast with the main attack, and auto-hitting the high DEF infantry with the POW 10. Another thing to look out for is flags and objectives. Lightning will jump to flags (Infernal Ruling), and objectives will generally soak up a POW 10 easily. Shooting different models in order to avoid the lightning being wasted on a flag or an objective is something you should always be looking for.

Electro leaps are also a great way to get around normal defensive tech such as stealth, high DEF, or models that can't be targeted. Your first step is to look for another enemy model that you can shoot that it will leap off of. These obviously need to be within 4" of the target. Objectives are a great target, since their ultra low DEF makes the hit nearly guaranteed, and support models tend to be hanging out near them anyway. Also, be on the lookout that the leap will go for the closes model to your initial target. Choose your initial target accordingly - or remove any "excess" model between your initial and leap target. If your target is in the middle of nowhere, with nothing within 4" to jump from, you can run up a friendly model within 4" of the target, shoot the friendly model, and leap the bolt onto the real target.

Most lightning guns are relatively low power, so if a non-immune heavy warjack is stuck in with some infantry, you can usually safely shoot him in the back to clear the infantry. He may take a box or two of damage, but it will be worth it to unjam him. Also note that immunity: electricity does NOT make warjacks immune to disruption. Keep this in mind when you target such a model with a critical disruption gun (like Arlan Strangewayes' Voltaic Gauntlet to clear jamming infantry).

IMPORTANT: as of the errata from 2018.06, lightning cannot bounce to and from models with immunity to electricity, meaning that the so called "Spark node" trick (shooting your lightning-immune model with a gun with electro-leap to hit another model with the leaping bolt) won't work anymore.

Leaps come from either the Electro Leap rule or from the Lightning Generator rule. A key difference between these two is that Electro Leap says can and Lightning Generator says must. For instance, if a Storm Lance (with the electro leap rule) shoots an enemy, and your Eiryss1 is within 4", you can forgo the electro leap to not fry your pointy-eared assassin. However, if Major Laddermore does the same thing (with her lightning generator), she cannot choose to not have the electro leaps, and will electrocute Eiryss. Pay careful attention to where the non-immune models are standing.

Mastering Electro-leaps and lightning damage can be the mark a Cygnar veteran, and "seeing the angles" can be decisive in many games.


The Debuff Kings[edit]

At face value, most of the models in Cryx are either too slow, too puny, too easy to hit, too easy to damage or have too few boxes. As a result, their style of play is somewhat "Underhand" - Stealth, raising the dead and reducing the enemy's stats are the name of their game. Spells such as Crippling Grasp and Parasite on their Warcasters and abilities like Dark Shroud means that if they want something dead, they're going to reduce your armour to paper and then hit you with whatever is in range. Suddenly, those fairly average troops or, even worse, the handful of good quality units are beating your Colossal down like it's a small toy.

I'm not going near their Warcasters, then!

Bad news, their spells are coming to you.

All the Arc Nodes, All the Time[edit]

Cryx light Warjacks (Bonejacks) are cheap. Very cheap. They even have a theme where you can get them as free models. Most Warcasters will have at least two in their battlegroup, if not more. Even worse, they're fast and have decent DEF. Since they're Arc Nodes, they'll run up to you and let their Warcaster slap their debuffs on you. What do you get as revenge? A 7pt model...that has a friend not far away to repeat the process next turn.

A Corrosive Effect[edit]

Cryx's "element" is corrosion. While other factions will set your or fire or electrocute you, Cryx will melt you with acid thanks to Continuous Corrosion. This means they can often have a very strong game into single box infantry units, regardless of their armour. They can slap on a load of corrosion to your ARM18 infantry and just wait for two thirds of them to die in their own turn.

The Definition of Recursion[edit]

Cryx has a good number of units that can return casualties to the table. Revenant Crew of the Atramentous get a number of models back each turn. Blackbane's Ghost Raiders can kill models then add what they kill as more Ghost Raiders. Knocking them down is easy, it's making them stay down that is the problem. Those are just two examples in the faction, they are more you can find to make your opponent's attempt to grind you down a depressing and fruitless affair.

Ghosts! Woooooooooooo.[edit]

With all that living dead, it's no surprise they have a few ghosts in their ranks. A range of models, including their Battle Engine, are Incorporeal. This reduces what can take them out and you can pick and choose when to attack and leave them more vulnerable. With some armies only bringing magic weapons on their Warcasters or Warlocks, this can give Cryxian armies a strong advantage when claiming table space and contesting scenario.


No Awards for Subtlety[edit]

Khador apply manpower and armour to their problems. Lots of manpower. Lots of armour. Their infantry may not be particularly skilled or have very good weapons, but they come in large numbers with some decent weapon attachments and artillery. The enemy can't beat you if they run out of bullets.

As a nation, Khador doesn't do light warjacks. They have access to exactly one, which is the Old Witch's personal Warjack that she has cobbled together, Scrapjack. Everything else is a hulking mass of armour, with their typical Warjacks toting an impressive ARM20...but generally DEF 10 and SPD 4.

Phew, They're Slow[edit]

You have much to learn, komrade. Don't let the low speed on their Warjacks fool you, various feats and spells such as Boundless Charge, Quicken or Energizer means that they go a lot further than you would expect.

A Song of Ice[edit]

It's pretty much winter all of the time in Khador, so they have a thing about, big coats, snow and ice...with no friendly snowmen involved. Khador's preferred element is Cold and many of their spells, particularly from Greylord models have this damage type. Many models are also immune to damage from cold-typed weapons.

They have various effects such as Freezing Grip that cause models to become Stationary, which is particularly crippling for anything that can't shake it.

You Don't Need Accuracy if the Town Explodes[edit]

A great deal of Khadoran AoE weaponry is literally Inaccurate. But in return there are many of those weapons and some are even High Explosive. So although enemy Warjacks and Warbeasts will often be relatively safe, they will reduce infantry to a fine mist quite consistently. With such low effective RAT values, they will even take a punt at drifting those AoEs into Stealth troops.

But don't think those high ARM models are safe. With the ability to apply Stationary, those normally inaccurate weapons can suddenly start applying their full hitting power to key targets. At that point, things start to get ugly.

Protectorate of Menoth[edit]

The Power of Faith[edit]

Compared to Cygnar or Khador, the Protectorate is a veritable medieval faction. Spearmen and knights make up much of their infantry while crossbows and ballistae are the weapons of choice outside of their Warjack guns. Their Warjacks are functional, but are just as slow as their Khador equivalent and not as durable.

But the power of prayer is their saving grace. The Choir of Menoth says a few words and your Warjacks are immune to your opponent's biggest ranged threat, be that magic or guns. Want to get some stellar melee damage? The choir has you covered too.

Their piety is also made manifest by their weapons and spells. The filthy heathens and unbelievers use magic to aid their cause, so the Protectorate has access to Purification as well as more than their fair share of Blessed weapons.

Excruciating Flagellation[edit]

Strong themes in Protectorate is the notion of sacrificing yourself for others as well as resurrection. Harbinger can save models from death at a cost to her own health, Exemplar Errants can sacrifice themselves in place of another in their unit (Quite useful to stop your opponent triggering rules such as Overtake) while Testament can resurrect a large chunk of his army and then send it back into the fight...often from an unexpected angle.

Let's Set the World on Fire[edit]

What is the best way to purge the unclean? Fire, of course. All consuming fire. BURN THEM FOR THEIR HERESY.

Their ranged spells and quite a few ranged weapons are fire typed and Continuous Fire is a fairly common buff to a lot of their weapons. Feora2 stops models suffering Continuous Fire from going out while Malekus can make any fire damage roll more damaging. With all that fire, it's probably not a big surprise that spray weapons are not uncommon in the Protectorate.

Does anyone have a sudden urge for barbecue?

Retribution of Scyrah[edit]

Fascist Elves Who Want You Dead[edit]

They're Better Than You[edit]

Shields Up[edit]

Convergence of Cyriss[edit]

Nominative Obfuscation Archetype[edit]

Outside of Convergence players, no one is really sure which name goes with which model. Since the goddess Cyriss, Maiden of Gears, is all about science, the naming policy of their vectors and units focuses around using highly scientific sounding vocabulary. You might have heard the term Corollary, but Transfinite Emergence Projector? Transverse Enumerator? Even the support unit is called the Optifex Directive. You're glad when you face Clockwork Angels...you can probably guess that they fly, if nothing else.

But to talk about the faction, they literally need to work like clockwork. Each element of the force must have a place and a role to fulfil - if it doesn't do that, or the unit selection doesn't work well together, your ability to win the game will be seriously hampered. When the list is chosen carefully and played right, Convergence lists are among the top armies in the competitive game right now.

Theoretical Limitation Directive[edit]

They're a limited faction. As such, they don't get regular releases like the "Major" factions - they can literally go for years without any models being released.

This is not all bad, though. As a result, they have a tool to solve every problem. They have good ranged and melee options, while their casters offer the main archetypes you'd want in terms of offense, defence and control.

Statistical Cascade Implementation[edit]

The MAT and RAT of their Warjacks (Vectors in the background) is the same as their controlling Warcaster. This plays into the theme of working like clockwork. Taking a bunch of ranged Warjacks with a RAT4 Warcaster will hamper your ranged game no end. As a result, your Warcaster's stats tend to dictate what style of play you have when you use them. A low MAT/RAT can be mitigated by Flare, which Convergence has in abundance thanks to their Attunement Servitors, but it still means that a high MAT Warcaster will skew towards a melee game while a high RAT Warcaster will favour a ranged game.

On the plus side, any buffs to a Warcaster's MAT and RAT during the game improves the effectiveness of their battlegroup no end (and is the whole point of Iron Mother Directrix's feat). Conversely, if you debuff the Convergence Warcaster, their Warjacks suffer the consequences as well.

On top of adjusting their offensive stats, all Convergence Warcasters have a Field Marshal ability. This changes how each Warjack plays even more when you switch between the Warcasters. From becoming Arc Nodes to gaining Shield Guard, how you make use of those abilities is just as important.

Optimal Allocation Application[edit]

Induction Nodes make for a highly efficient use of focus, to the point that their Warcaster need not allocate any of their focus (although that is still an option). Every time a Convergence Warjack spends a focus point, it can pass it to another Convergence Warjack within 6".

For example, on turn 1, you allocate a single focus point to a Warjack at the very end of your line. It runs and passes the focus to the Warjack next to it. That Warjacks runs and passes the focus to the next model...and so on. Really creative players can send it all the way along the line and then all of the way back if they pass the focus to every other model down the line.

That focus point usually ends up in the Corollary, which can gain a focus point for just being near its Warcaster. Quite quickly (if not from turn 1!) it will be the Corollary handing out focus and not the Warcaster at all, who can then spend their time casting spells instead.

Since Convergence Warjacks use Induction Nodes and not a Cortex, they can't be affected by spells such as Domination. They can, however, suffer the effects of Disruption, which can cause havoc with their plans if they can't make optimal use of their focus by passing it up their line. If a Convergence Warcaster has to allocate focus, some of their spells will go uncast.

Technical Metaphysical Containment[edit]

Not all of Convergence models are alive - They are mostly Constructs. However, they still have souls. Despite all that Art Deco Mechanica, the Convergence want to transfer human consciousness (Well, at least those they deem worthy) into mechanical vessels. As a result, enemy forces that can collect souls can continue as normal when facing Convergence.

If you're relying on corpse token collection, you're out of luck.

Crucible Guard[edit]


Circle Orboros[edit]

Legion of Everblight[edit]


Pain and Suffering[edit]

Skorne philosophy revolves around achieving enlightenment through pain, like a sort of sadomasichistic take on Taoism. In game, this manifests in granting benefits from being damaged, like Archdomina Makeda cutting herself to keep her troops alive during her feat, or the Mammoth gaining +2 SPD when damaged by an enemy attack, and the model / faction exclusive concept of Rage (Siege Animantarax and Blood tokens (Master Ascetic Naaresh). Thematically, pain alone is also how their warbeasts are inducted into the faction, which allows Skorne to take Minion warbeasts as friendly faction in the Disciples of Agony theme. Gameplay-wise, this dictates that Skorne tend to bring more of and have some of the best support models in the game, in order to whip their beasts or harden the flesh of their troops, layered such as to make them one of if not the most durable brick factions.

Death Was Merely a Setback[edit]

Skorne do not have a patron deity, and as such do not have any protection against the horrors in Urcaen (the Iron Kingdoms afterlife). Skorne have a culture of exaltation; wherein individuals, having proven themselves worthy through combat, may escape this fate by having their souls captured in rocks. In game, this manifests in friendly models being able to contribute to the fight even after being destroyed, through soul tokens on other models. Supreme Aptimus Zaal takes this concept to the extreme by having his feat be maximised by having just about half of his army be off the table at the time of use. These gems can be embedded in stone golems to animate them, which also allows Skorne the privilege of bringing the closest thing to a Terracotta army in the game in The Exalted theme, which is visually quite captivating.

Masters of War[edit]

Skorne (players) love pain, but it is through martial discipline that they achieve exaltation. As such, the Skorne train their whole lives to be soldiers, boasting as a faction the most organized and regimented military in the Iron Kingdoms. In game, this gives them some of the better Shield Wall units, as well as abilities like Tactical Supremacy and Battle Plans that give additional movement on full advances. Aesthetically, this gives the impression of a united and well oiled military machine, which can be quite an awesome sight to behold.



Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don't[edit]


Lesson 1: Lists / Lesson 2: Tactics / Lesson 3: Resources / Lesson 4: Strategy / Lesson 5: Factions / Lesson 6: Steamroller / Lesson 7: Meta