I’ve always wanted a Warmachine or Hordes army. I actually have a fair few miniatures from this range and have played a handful of small games, but I’ve never really put together a coherent army. Also, if I did do an army, I wouldn’t want a big, all-encompassing force with everything the faction has to offer. No, I’d go for a themed force.
Themed forces in Warmachine and Hordes are armies that are built around a particular idea and are limited in their recruitment. This is a tradeoff that sees the player get theme-specific bonuses in exchange for the limitations they accept. Themed lists have gone from being an interesting option to, in the current edition, the default state of list building.
So, let’s take a look at some of the themes that really appeal to me. I will not be doing a full look at the forces and the various bonuses you get for adopting a theme, but rather just my own thoughts on making an army along these lines. My judgments are largely based on the visual appeal of the army because, hey, that’s what I like and it’s what I’m here for.
The faction with the most individual themes that appeal to me are the Cryx. As such, let’s begin with them.
Black Industries is the most ‘Vanilla’ of the Cryx themes that I’m interested in. This theme focuses heavily on the weird technological-horror aspect of the Cryx. It’s full of Warjacks and techno-zombies.
First up, I like the focus on Warjacks, as I think that if you’re playing Warmachine, it’s really about the ‘jacks and you should have at least a couple! I also like the idea of big, mechanical brutes surrounded by a swarm of techno-zombies.
Of the heavies, I love Deathjack, the named character Warjack. The model is just so pretty. But then, all of these Warjacks look great – though I’m less keen on the Harbinger. I do think it’s important to the theme to have at least one of these guys, preferably two. Heck, if I went with Slayers I could even do a bit of spamming.
So, those are the Warjacks, but what else is in the army? There are a lot of options, but these are the ones I’d really consider, just to keep that theme as tight as possible:
I love the technological-horror theme at play here. I’d definitely want to pick up a unit of Mechanithralls to really capture the shambling hordes image. The Bloat Thrall is another classic Cryx miniature that would be very much at home in this list. The Bile Thralls are likewise thematic and would give me some really nice short-range firepower. The sheer damage that their Purge can do is sickening. The other unit I’d strongly consider is the Necrosurgeon – again for thematic reasons – who can really give other thralls some staying power.
Finally, who would lead this force? I’ve picked out five different Warcasters from which to choose. There are a few considerations about which to use, largely based on army composition.
Asphyxious is one of the classic Cryx Warcasters and in this incarnation he can really make your Warjacks sprint their way into combat. Speaking of Warjacks, both versions of Mortenebra are great at buffing them up and they really fit the theme, especially with a Necrosurgeon chucked in there, too. Were I to go heavier into infantry and thralls, then Terminus would be my man. The model is beautiful and imposing. He fits the theme and does well with leading infantry. I’ve included Goreshade in here as well, but he doesn’t quite fit the theme as well as the others. I just love the sculpt…
All in all, this theme captures the classic view of the Cryx that I adore. It’s got that weird, dark technology and big ol’ Warjacks to smash stuff up.
Scourge of the Broken Coast
Pirates! Lady pirates, no less! This is, visually, a very cool theme and one which I would follow very tightly. There’s a lot you can add to this list beyond the Satyxis ladies, but I think I’d want to keep it relatively pure.
There are a few Warjacks that I’d consider for such a list, but really this is not a Warjack-heavy army.
The Kraken is a Colossal and is clearly nautically themes, as is the Kharybdis. They fit the theme, but not perfectly. I really include them just to keep some Warjack options on the table. The Kharybdis is the best fit for me, and I don’t mind the little Scavenger.
There are loads more units available to this list, but I’m keeping it to the Satyxis and other female pirates. The Misery Cage – a tool to help with Focus management – is in there too:
All of these units look great. I’d base any list around one or two big units of Satyxis before adding in some Gunslingers, a Priestess and maybe some Dirge Seers. All of these sculpts are fantastic and really thematic. They also create a fast-moving force that hits consistently but might suffer from low armour.
Now, who should lead my force? As with the units and Warjacks there are a lot of options. Warcasters like Asphyxious work really well with the units but, thematically, there’s only one choice for me. Well, one character but three different model choices:
The two smaller miniatures seems so practical and affordable… and yet… The Admiral miniature with the massive chunk of boat attached is just a thing of absolute beauty. It’s also a rather extravagant expense, especially for a miniature I know I could never paint to anything near a good enough standard to do it justice.
The Ghost Fleet
More pirates! This time, we’re looking at undead pirates – be they ghosts or skelebones. Again, this is a visually stunning list with lots of really cool miniatures with a tight theme.
As with the previous theme, there aren’t really Warjacks that fit the bill perfectly. That said, with a slightly more generic, perhaps robust visual style I’d be happier including generic Warjacks here than in the Satyxis force.
I think I’d be keener to use light Warjacks here than in the other lists to extend the range of my Warcaster. I also think the Kharybdis looks a lot more at home in this list.
In terms of other units, there are a lot of really nice sculpts that fit perfectly into this theme. There’s also a lot of range (visually) in these models, which is is nice.
Any force would be based around a nice big unit of Revenant Crew, the Ghost Raiders and the Hellsinger Phantom, who is both a great model and works really well on the table. My favourite miniature in this selection is the Pistol Wraith, so I’d probably do one of these, too. You know, just cos.
In terms of leaders, I find this force to be more open than the Satyxis one. I include a few familiar faces in my selection:
The Admiral Skarre mini is great, of course, but I’ve already outlined my concerns re: cost and my ability to do it justice in pigmentation. Deneghra is a classic Cryx Warcaster who would look the part and synergise relatively well with the army. The focus on infantry over Warjacks also makes this a good fore for Terminus to lead.
And that’s all for the Cryx. Next time, I’m going to take a look at some of the other themed forces that appeal to me from other factions. At the end of all this, I might even pick up the starting miniatures for the theme I end up on. We’ll see!