LPG - Steamroller

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Unique Faction Rules


This article is part of Warmachine University's Learning to Play the Game (LPG) series, which is "Basic Training" aimed at new players who are still learning the core rules.
(You may also be interested in our "Intermediate Training" series, LOTS.)

We have two articles regarding Steamroller, you're reading the first.

  1. LPG - Steamroller - The version you're reading is aimed at new players, and explains the concept and rules of the Steamroller system.
  2. Lesson 6: Steamroller - This version is aimed at intermediate players, and gives advice on how to win a Steamroller game and tournament.


What is Steamroller

Steamroller is rules for running a Warmachine/Hordes tournament. It comes with a bunch of new scenarios (that are updated annually) and changes the rules for how you score scenario elements, how you lay out terain, how many rounds the game can go for, etcetera.

Although Steamroller is not part of the official core rules, it is the way that most players play games. Not only because they're practicising for their next tournament, but simply because if you play a Steamroller scenario it creates a more balanced, fast-paced, fun game for both players.

Steamroller rules

The rules are a 13 page document, and it changes a little each year, so I'm not going to regurgitate the entire thing here. You can find a download link in Useful External Links. (That said, in 2018 I did make a newbie-friendly version of Steamroller which cut it down to 3 pages. If you want me to update that, pester me about it.)

As of the 2019 version, the key differences between a Steamroller game and a "core rule" game are:

  • Each player has two army lists, and they pick which one to play after seeing their opponent's two lists.
  • There are three ways to win: Assassination, Scenario, and Clock.
  • Scenarios contains a mixture of flags, objectives, circular zones, and rectangular zones in different layouts. These are used to earn "Control Points (CP)". Different model types have to be used to control different types of scenario elements.
  • If a player scores 5 CP more than their opponent, they win the game on Scenario. Neither player can score any CP until the second player's second turn.
  • Players use a "deathclock". You can take as long as you like for each of your turns, but each player only has 60 minutes to play their entire game. Your clock is paused during your opponent's turn. If your opponent's clock reaches zero, you win the game on Clock.
  • The game only lasts 7 rounds. If both players finish 7 turns without winning or running out of clock, there is a series of tie-breakers to determine the winner.

Download link

Refer to Useful External Links.

How to Win a Steamroller

This is covered further in Lesson 6: Steamroller of the Intermediate Training section.

Steamroller 2019

2019 Scenarios


2019 Objectives

All objectives share the following rules:

  • Immobile - This model has no Normal Movement or Combat Action, cannot become knocked down or be moved, and is automatically hit by melee attacks.
  • Objective - Cannot be placed, cannot channel, cannot be a Prey target. Cannot be targeted or damaged until the 2nd player's 2nd turn. Cannot be engaged or engage other models. Models cannot get back strike bonuses vs it (although they can get Backstab). Friendly models ignore this model for LOS and can move through it.

Each objective then has a unique rule:

  • Armoury [Superior Ammunition] - During your Control Phase, choose a friendly Faction model within 4". Its weapons gain Damage Type: Magical for its next attack.
  • Dug Out [Anchor] - During your Maintenance Phase, you can choose one friendly Faction model within 4˝ of this model. That model cannot be placed, and cannot be moved by a push, slam, or throw for one round.
  • Fuel Cache [Fueled Up] - During your Control Phase, choose a friendly Faction model within 4". It gains Pathfinder for one round.
  • Observator [Rangefinder] - During your Control Phase, choose one friendly Faction model within 4˝ of this model. That model gains Eyeless Sight for one round.
  • Stockpile [Surplus] - During your Maintenance Phase, choose a friendly Faction model within 4". It removes d3 damage points.
  • Treasure Chest [Good Fortune] - Once per game, during your Maintenance Phase choose a friendly Faction model within 4˝ of this model. The chosen model can reroll one attack roll and one damage roll this turn.

Comparison to SR 2018

  • New scenarios, as always.
  • Scenario elements have been spread further apart, rewarding casters with large control areas and increasing the worth of models with Ambush.
  • 6 objectives instead of 3.

Rules Clarifications

Setting up the game

The correct order to do things is:

  1. The Event Organiser (EO) sets up the terrain, chooses the scenario, and determines which player will be facing whom and on which table.
  2. After arriving at your assigned table, set up the scenario zones etc.
    • If you believe the terrain setup is not suitable (pieces too close together, too far apart, too symmetrical, or blocking off the scenario too much) then call the EO over to adjust the terrain.
    • Terrain can get out of whack when players shuffle it around to set up the scenario zones, but the EO should be the one to shuffle it back.
  3. Each player can look at each other's lists and secretly select which they will be playing this match.
  4. Players simultaneously reveal which list they've chosen.
  5. If you're using objectives, players choose which one they'll use for that game.
  6. Roll to determine which player will go first.
  7. Start the clock.
    • It is only after you start the clock that players can declare abilities that are used "before deploying models". For example placing a wall from a theme benefit, or a Grymkin player choosing their Arcana.
  8. The first player starts deploying their models.

To speed the process up, players can get their models out of their case and arrange them outside their deployment zone at any time after step 2.

Current version

None yet.

Previous years

Tip lightbulb.png

Tip !
About 75% of these clarifications are still relevant in today's version of Steamroller, because it doesn't change that much from year to year. However, I'm too lazy to sort them into relevant vs not relevant.

Steamroller 2017


  • Terrain that normally randomly expire (Dense Fog & Burning Earth) does not expire as per the Steamroller rules.
    • It doesn't randomly expire, regardless whether it was part of the original terrain setup or put into play by a Theme bonus (such as Dark Host). (Infernal Ruling)
  • The clouds can, however, be forced to expire by spells/effects that make clouds disappear.
  • If a "terrain cloud" is dispelled, the entire terrain piece is removed from the table.
    To reiterate: if you have a Forest which is also Burning Earth, it counts as a cloud. If that cloud is dispelled, the entire Forest is taken off the table. (Infernal Ruling)


  • Scoring is done very very last, even after stuff that happens "at the end of the player's turn" (such as triggering Last Stand). (Judge Ruling)
  • Units that contain non-warrior models (such as the Legion Spawning Vessel) are not eligible to score circular zones. (Infernal Ruling)
  • Any kind of solo is eligible to control flags, even if it is Immobile and/or Created (like the Stormwall's pods).

Tie Breakers

  • Crabbits are a warbeast that come in pairs of two Crabits for 7 points (normally), and can be taken singly for free (in theme).
    Scoring for them is done the same way as multi-model solos. (Infernal Ruling)
    • Destroy 1 crabbit = 0 points
    • Destroy 2 crabbits = 7 points
    • Destroy 3 crabbits = 7 points
    • Destroy 4 crabbits = 14 points
    • Etc

Steamroller 2016

  • You do not need to spend all of your Warjack points, but cannot play an army more than 4 points lower than the point level at which you are playing. Ref: niceas, 2016-06-17.
  • Terrain may be placed in such a manner as to block line of sight to a zone or flag from a deployment zone. Ref: niceas, 2016-06-20.
  • Ghetorix: The new model is tournament legal. The fact that one hand is open and it doesn't have a separate claw attack does not matter. Ref: DarkLegacy, 2016-06-29. Ref: PPS_Hungerford, 2016-08-11.
  • Objectives are a friendly faction model to the player who owns them, and models with the repair skill can repair objectives. Ref: bulldog, 2016-06-30.
  • Any player may score at the end of any player's turn, starting with the second player's second turn. Ref: DarkLegacy, 2016-07-07.
  • If you are going so fast your opponent cannot verify your dice rolls, you need to slow down. You cannot speed up in such a way that it is unreasonable for them to check. If you roll the dice and then immediately switch the clock to your opponent, you will get a warning for sportsmanship. Ref: DarkLegacy, 2016-07-07.
  • It is possible to get a tie in a game. Ref: rydiafan, 2016-07-08.
  • If you forget to prey, and you and your opponent cannot agree on the resolution of such, it is lost for the game. Ref: LEJ, 2016-07-11.
  • Flags are valid targets for chain lighting and e-leaps. Ref: bulldog, 2016-07-18.
  • Steamroller objectives do not have an activation. Ref: DarkLegacy, 2016-07-18.
  • Models not yet released cannot be used in organized play, including conversions. Ref: LEJ, 2016-08-11.
  • Theme forces in NQ are legal in pp organised play on the street date of the NQ issue. Ref: LEJ, 2016-08-13.
  • Arc Nodes are not weapons so you could remove them without falling foul of the official guidelines. Ref: LEJ, 2016-08-26.