Learning one model at a time.

People often ask: “How do I learn this game?” And you’re going to hear or read lots of answers. Play games. Lose 100 games, then you can get gud. Memorize all the models. Be a savant.

While there is validity in practicing, practice without a goal can lead to frustration. Think about learning an instrument. Usually, you start by learning about the instrument, where the sound making plunker sits in relation to the screechy bits. You start by making some basic sounds, and run a few of those together to make a tune. Your first lessons are about the basics in how to handle the instrument, and your practice is about repetition.

When learning a game as complicated as warmachine, it is important to learn the turn order, how to move models and how to make attacks. This applies to any wargame, whether it’s Star Wars Legion, Shatterpoint, Infinity, Tanks or Troops, and all the Warhammers. The first few games are about basic mechanics.

To facilitate learning, the game objectives need to be simple, and the moving pieces limited to a small number. This is one of the things I like about Warmachine. The Journeyman document includes four weeks of basic training games set up as a league, but it doesn’t have to be played as a league. You and a friend can play through the scenarios in the kitchen. And while it’s not a challenge to an experienced player, walking through with a new player is good for older players. It encourages a second read of the rules, when showing the new folks how things get done.

Basics down, now what?

At this point, things should be clicking together. Maybe you realized one of your support models can grant a bonus to damage being dealt, or you have a card that acts like a trap, triggering when your opponent does something specific.

This is good, because now you’re starting to learn your army. My advice here is to pick out a specific model, and start testing it. Look for synergy with other models. Include it in every game for a while, and really push its usefulness. Try it with different leaders, against different armies and try to figure out what its preferred role is.

What about winning?

Well, that’s a different objective. It can be worked in parallel with working on learning models. And again, I’m going to suggest a slow burn technique. In Warmachine, we have different ways to achieve a win. Primarily, they are assassination of the enemy leader, or securing a scenario win. Some people would argue that attrition is a win condition, but I disagree. Attrition of an opponent’s resources is a means to an end. It is an explanation of how to achieve an assassination or scenario victory.

I believe working through the assassination victory is probably the easiest and most exciting method of winning. Focusing on this brings hyper awareness of model threat ranges, extensions to that threat range, and the layers of buffs that are needed to end an opponent’s leader model. You start paying attention to how much damage can be diverted, and looking for opportunities to exploit. Understanding the assassination helps you avoid overexposure your own leader, as you begin to gain an appreciation for certain key abilities that lend to a successful play.

And while staging this one turn big victory, it is important to continue contesting an opponent’s objectives. Doing so eventually draws the enemy leader out, and by removing key models, they become vulnerable. After working toward an assassination run, you might notice that in setting it up, you’ve managed to out score your opponent

The thing is, when you remove resources, as you get rid of shield guards, healers, and tanks, you start limiting your opponent’s opportunity to score. When you turn this around, and start building armies to take advantage of a scenario, you’re playing a longer game, and at a higher level.

Scenario wins demand scenario lists

Your army will evolve, not around forcing the assassination, but around scoring and holding objectives. Your lists should apply layers of buffs to your models or debuffs to your enemy, or may incorporate a control leader who seeks to shut an opponent out of the scoring area.

This type of play is more advanced, in my opinion, and needs some understanding of the basic mechanics of the game, how to press and defend against assassination, and lastly, how to keep a scenario presence.

Lose 100 games, get gud?

Essentially, yes. If you play against players who have more experience tha. You, this will be likely, unless you’re some sort of savant who is able to see multidimensionally. I run into a few of these types of players now and again, and it’s funny to watch them burn through that curve like a match doused in lighter fluid.

If you’re lucky to play against people at your skill level, then your real match count will be more even.

To early for steamroller?

Absolutely not. Got the basics? Play a steamroller. You may lose by your clock running out. That’s fine. Your focus as a new player should be how to deploy your army, and finding that turn 1 and 2 rhythm. Your goal should be slowly reducing the amount of time it takes to deploy your army and get it up the table. If you start making it to turn 3, that’s awesome!

The great thing about steamroller is that it means you’re going to get 3 fast games in, and be able to practice a set of movements over and over. Let people know you’re new. They often are willing to help with rules, letting you know if you missed something.


Print out screenshots of the turn order, activation and attack order. It is in the app. Spam the same model as much as you can in your first armies, so you get used to that one thing. Build all your modular warjacks the same way, so you have fewer options tripping you up. Say aloud your intent as you play, so if you have a more experienced player, they can correct you as needed.

And most of all, have fun, and be a good sport. Don’t worry about impressing people with your skillz. Winning is meaningless if people don’t want to play with you.


That’s all I’ve got. Thanks for joining. May your tough checks matter.