Warmachine Reckoning is the latest release from Privateer Press for their flagship game Warmachine. For those of you who are unaware of how new releases and books work for Warmachine, I figured it would be prudent to take a few moments and explain what the book represents and what it is before breaking down the new goodies players can look forward to in this release.
Like many other miniatures games, each faction or force in Warmachine and Hordes has an army book. The books contain all of the background for the faction, what players refer to as “fluff” or the story of the force, as well as all relevant data for each of the units available. However, as time marches on and things change the books become not so much outdated as they require supplements to stay up to date. The base stats and rules remain the same (for the most part, barring errata or edition changes), but new units are released, new characters, new theme forces and new fluff. Most other game companies simply re-print the army book to contain all this data, invalidating all of the older editions. Privateer Press, on the other hand, releases update books that cover all of the new rules and models for every faction in one book, while at the same time advancing the narrative of the world. Back when we first touched on what is colloquially known as WarmaHordes, I talked about how this is a living game world and the narrative is constantly advancing. This is still true, and releases like Reckoning are exactly where they march forward. Here, the story and units are focused around the Warmachine factions, with a release later this year for the Hordes players.
The book is 115 pages long, comes in both hardcover and softcover, and is beautifully printed in full color. There is a large selection of new art as well to accompany the new rules and units. The pictures range from full spread battles, images of the new casters and colossals, to concept sketches for models that haven’t yet been released or fully conceptualized. One of the interesting things about these books is the inclusion of the concept sketches and art, which allows players a bit of insight into the design thought and process of the artists and designers. Most game companies tend not to include those types of items in their book releases, or if they do, they sell them as their own individual book.
The start of the book opens like all others that Privateer Press has produced, in which you are treated to part one of a story that encompases the theme of the book. Here we show the united forces of Cygnar, Khador and Menoth in a tenuous alliance against the necromantic army f Cryx and the new Mercenary Contract, Cephalyx. It is a story that harkens back to the roots of the game, and reminds you of the root of the conflict between the four main Warmachine factions. They were the first, after all, and a lot of events throughout the game world’s history have been caused by these four groups. It’s also a great primer if you are unfamiliar with the story of the world, as it spells out the deep-seeded animosity, the state of the current war, and how the lines are drawn. It’s a handy primer for those looking to get started in the Warmachine story without having to do too much backtracking.
Alongside the fantastic art, and the continuation of the story, there is also a short hobby section showing the basic techniques for painting up a small selection of the signature models released with this book. They show the colors used and give you step by steps from Priming through to final highlights. It’s a very good step by step for beginners, and they do a great job of keeping it simple for easy mental consumption. It’s a common practice for most miniature wargames to have a hobby section like this. This isn’t a bad thing, as having a visual guide to help people that are potentially new to the hobby and looking for a quick start into how to paint. While it won’t help everyone, for those that want to learn how to paint these are a nice bonus feature.
With every new Warmachine book there are always a plethora of new toys to play with, and Reckoning is no different. This new book release actually has quite a bit. One of the reasons that advancing the narrative is important to the Warmachine universe is that it allows them to introduce not only new characters, solos, units and Warjacks, but new version of old Warcasters as well. Warcasters are the heart and soul of a Warmachine force, and not only are they the leader of your force, but they are also powerful combatants. Unlike many other mini wargames, where special or named characters have only a single definitive stat block, Privateer Press has a couple of options for most characters. Additionally, they continue to introduce new casters, or evolve old casters into new versions. In reckoning we get several new versions of some old favorites, including one of the more intriguing casters, Major Prime Victoria Haley, whose new version comes as Warcaster unit that can summon past and future versions of herself to fight alongside her, which allows her access to more spells and more offensive punch at a cost of focus. It’s a really cool concept that I know quite a number of Cygnar players are looking forward to. There are new warcasters, such as Anson Durst, the holy paladin of Protectorate, and Thyron, the sword master for Retribution of Scyrah. Each adds varied new options for their respective factions with additional depth, and access to different theme forces for use.
Reckoning also marks the addition of a new faction, or contract as it were, in the form the the Cephalyx. These are not quite the undead of Cryx, but they aren’t quite the living either. This contract consists of those that break the minds of captured forces from all over Immoren and combine them with machinery and mutation to make them into monstrosities. They are a “perfect” fusion of living flesh, metal, and bone. They represent a fate worse than death for those captured in battle, and have been attributed to several missing persons cases. They are a faction unto themselves, though they will work for Cryx, and they operate as Mercenaries while they continue their grotesque works. Players have been flocking to this new mercenary contract since they were announced earlier this year, but now that Reckoning is out we can see the official theme forces, and the first two Warcasters available. All-mercenaries forces got quite a bit with this new contract, with new units, solos, abominations and casters as well as theme lists.
While I haven’t had time playing as Cephalyx, I have played against the faction many times since their first introduction. They have incredible attrition play, and once they dig in are difficult to dislodge. It’s not impossible, but with all of the regeneration they have, and the ability to move damage around, they have solid staying power. Psycho Surgery allows the regeneration of D3+1 points of damage on their monstrosities, and the ability to move damage off of their unit leaders unto the thrall fodder is also unique. This makes them great at playing control games and playing into scenarios where you have to take and keep control of objectives or zones. They really feel like playing against a blend of Warmachine and Hordes factions, offering a set of unique challenges to play against.
Each faction also got a number of new solos, or special characters that buff or boost units, and there are several new Character Warjacks. The new Character Warjacks all have distinct personality and quirks, and really compliment the new Warcasters.
The stars of the book are the Colossals. Colossals are giant machines of war, like Warjacks, but on a much larger scale. There aren’t a lot of truly large scale models in the game, but these are massive. The original Colossals are titans of war that are either loved or hated by players. They carry a high cost, but can usually make up for that cost by taking out an equal number of points from your opponents or giving you a significant tactical advantage.
Here, in Reckoning, we get Colossals 2.0, the next evolution. Each one builds off the originals, adding new features and abilities. Every faction received an upgrade to their colossals, and each looks to be just as dangerous as their predecessors. The Cygnar Hurricane looks particularly fun with the ability to summon gale force winds, punch things with electrified fists, and launch shells from its dual cannons.
There’s been some concern about some factions getting better Colossals than others, in fact when they were first revealed and the Cygnar Hurricane was displayed shouts of “The Rich get Richer!” could be heard. That said, I think that the concerns are not quite as valid as they used to be. The first incarnations of Colossals (and Hordes‘ Gargantuans) came at a time when the game was still relatively new, but we’ve come a long way since then and Privateer Press has come a long way in balancing the game. The stats and the abilities of all of the new Colossals seem to be right in line with each other, with none of them really breaking away as heads and shoulders above the rest.
It is a turning point book, and a milestone, with the introduction of a large amount of story elements and the introduction of a whole new faction and the new breed of colossals. This is one of those books that is worth picking up for the story, as well as all of the new units and models for all of the factions. Mercenary players in particular will be very interested in this book, as Mercs received the largest selection of new solos, and an entire new contract to play with, essentially constituting a new faction.
Bottom Line: Reckoning is a fine addition to the Warmachine line up, with fantastic narrative alongside cool new units and casters.
Recommendation: While it is certainly true that you do not need the book to play, there is solid value here. The story, the new rules, and the artwork make it well worth the cost. If you have any interest in playing as mercenaries, I cannot recommend Reckoning enough.[rating=4.5]