Embrace The Dragon: Advice for the Beginner

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Welcome back my blighted friends to yet another edition of embrace the dragon.  This time I have decided to open up the focus of our time here to a topic a little broader than just Legion tactics and unit discussion.  Now this doesn’t mean that my blighted brethren may not find this useful.  The topic of our discussion is more or less some words of wisdom and teachings for the newer players of the great game of Warmachine and Hordes.  Truth be told even as a player for over a year with a few Con events under my belt I still find this information useful and worth returning too when I get down on myself or my forces for poor play.  I also want to put this out there to help the newer players that may be struggling with the game.  Looking back to when I first started playing I wish I had found an article geared like this to help me through those difficult early learning stages.  So without further hold up from yours truly let’s get into the good stuff.


got a pair


As a new player to Warmachine and Hordes there is one important concept that you need to remember.  This game is highly competitive; page 5 in the rule book is always a great manifesto to this point which can be summed up into the concept of “play like you got a pair.”  While this serves as a good introduction I think a little more insight can be given here.  Privateer Press has taken it upon themselves to make this game as balanced as possible from a competitive stand point.  Meaning they made this game to be played in a structured fashion dictated by Privateer Press, often in a tournament format.  They also expect their players to give it their all in playing the game, holding anything back will often serve to only be a detriment to you and your game play.  The balance in this game isn’t about keeping everyone equal but rather by creating counters to the opposing forces.  While 1 caster may seem entirely broken to you when you play against it I can assure you that a counter for it exists somewhere in the forces your chosen faction can field.  Part of the mastery of this game is being able to recognize these counters and knowing where and when to employ them.  Yes this game can often be won and lost in the stage where you choose who leads your army but that is also why most competitive formats use multiple lists and even allow for what many MTG players would call side boarding with specialists.


While understanding the competitive nature of the game is vastly important I also want to point out that mastering this game will take time.  It can take months to learn your own faction and its capabilities let alone all the opposing factions.  Play often with as many different opponents as you can find.  Don’t be afraid to lose, it will happen and will happen often especially as you are starting out.  Also seek out more veteran players than yourself for games.  For me part of the best learning experiences I have had with the game is when I went to events outside of my local area or when we had other players travel to our events.  Seeing how people outside of my Meta approach the game and how they played against me helped me to not only learn how their chosen factions can play but also how I could improve my own game.  Take time to talk with the experienced players and ask them after a game what could have been done differently, where did you go wrong if you lost or even have them help you break down a win you had against them.  In addition to your local players or talking with your local Press Ganger there are also resources on Privateer Press’s forums as well as sites like Mid South Gaming, Muse on Minis as well as many different pod casts to choose from.  One amazing advantage you have in playing Warmachine and Hordes is that this community is amazingly rich with people who want to help out other players.  Take advantage of this resource, it is invaluable and personally I still use it regularly.




Don’t be discouraged with losses, it has been said that you will learn more from a loss than a win.  I can attest to the statement’s truth.  Also if you find yourself losing frequently it is usually a good idea to look at what you are doing.  Break down your game turn by turn and see if you and your opponent can spot where you gave away opportunities.  Sometimes it’s your list, sometimes it’s the caster and sometimes it’s just you.  For me I prefer to start with myself over looking to my lists or my casters.  Because at the end of the day I am the one who chose to place the model where I did or chose to attack the wrong target etc.  Often times a simple adjustment in play style or overall focus of how I want to play the game can make all the difference in the world to my list’s success in games.


Play style is also very important to the game.  Here I am not talking about being aggressive or passive.  For me play style in this game is about your focus on the game.  Unless you are playing Hardcore format this game can be won by more than just assassination, this is where the concept of play style I am talking about comes in.  This game is built around scenario play.  Meaning that the 4×4 board you are playing on has objectives to be held, destroyed, dominated, controlled or contested.  In fact most of the casters in this game are designed around this concept.  Yes assassination is a part of the game and all casters will have a way to perform one if the opportunity arises that doesn’t mean it is their strength or how you should always play.  A good player is one that has a plan for the table while protecting his or her caster from assassination attempts.  Is it good to always be on the lookout for assassination?  Of course, but if it is your only focus then you will be out played a lot by other players.  This is my one issue with Journeyman leagues.  They are fun and great for teaching some of the basics but I often find they hammer in assassination too much.  My best piece of advice to those in a journeyman league currently is to talk with your Press Ganger about playing objective games once you’re past the 15 point level.  They change the game entirely.  Once scenarios hit the table, casters that you thought were weak start to shine and the dynamic of the game completely changes.  Learn the scenarios early and when you sit down to make new lists think about the different scenarios and how that caster would attack them best.




Finally and perhaps the most important lesson I can pass on is to be a resource for your fellow players.  Help them as you may have been helped by another.  The community behind this game is so strong because as players we want to give back to others along the way.   The passing on of playing advice will only move to help you in the long run.  Helping a regular opponent improve will give yourself better games in the future which will help to improve you as a player as well.  Keeping this kindred spirit of players looking to help one another going is what separates this game from any other Wargame I have ever played.  Not partaking in this practice will only serve to hinder your own progression as a player and more importantly the community and game as a whole.


This brings us to the end of this segment of embrace the dragon.  As always my friends I look forward to your comments and insight.   Join me next time as we continue the journey that the blight takes us on.  Until then may the strength of Ever Blight be with you always!


Author: Caen

Paul is another well rounded Geek. An avid computer gamer for League of Legends and anything blizzard Paul is also an avid hobbyist and competitive player for both Warmache/hordes and Warhammer 40k. Recently Paul has been dedicated to the revival and growth of the War Gaming scene in Central Arkansas with the creation of the Conway Gaming Group with co founder John Booher.

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