Warmachine MKIV Review

Authors note: No product has been provided for this review. It was entirely funded by me personally.

The History

Warmachine was probably in the running for #2 miniature wargame in the world for a number of years. At the tail end of MK2, its second edition it was massively popular. It lacked the “mainstream” appeal of warhammer 40k, but at game stores across the world you could always find multiple people enjoying a game of Warmachine and Hordes. MK3 had a rough start. Rumors abound that it was rushed to release and was really only half completed. Though I cannot prove those rumors true or false, it was clear that the entire Hordes half of Warmachine was very underbaked in its rule development leaving some factions (Skorne specifically) in a state near unplayable.

But then they got hordes up to speed and MK3 started to go down a better development path. Overall, MK3 was a good rule set that eliminated unneeded complications, streamlined the game. Steamroller missions got some great changes and it was seemingly a great game in a healthy state. Then we had CID, community Integrated Development (correct me if I am wrong on the acronym definition. This was where before releases a major balance change or new (or updated Army) they would publish the beta rules online for the community to test and provide feedback. Well, if you know anything about the warmachine community, its that there basically isn’t a casual community

The App

Mk2 and Mk2 both had excellent, if sometimes clunky apps. They really were trailblazers in the field that companies like Games Workshop are still trying to play catchup on. Lets discuss the MK4 app as it stands today.

The App seems to me to be quite high quality. I quite like the integration of rules, and list buidling. Building your first army is easier than ever and rules not being paywalled is fantastic. I thoroughly enjoyed the included fluff pieces and would recommend everybody read them if you are interested in the world of the Iron Kingdoms. The connectivity features are good, and I love that it was built with Unity. I trust that this app will be stable and easily expanded upon in the future.

There is a downside… The paywall. So the app is free, the rules are free, but you are limited to a very small number of saved lists on your phone if you don’t pay a monthly subscription. The subscription is not that expensive but this is an annoying limitation to have.

You get additional access to fluff pieces and some fun scenario stuff but I hate this version of a paywall. I actually preferred the older model of one time purchases per army. If Warmachine is your main game the price is fine, but if it is one of your many side games this is just going to annoy you.

None of that is a dealbreaker, I just wish they found another feature to paywall. App PDF versions of no quarter would have gotten me when I was a Warmachine player for sure, but PP has the market research and maybe this is the only thing they could do. Hard to say.

Overall, this is a very good app, but is not in the same conversation as Corvus Bellis app for Infinity which continues to be the gold standard. Props for being free though for sure.

The Models

The models…. The models are the hardest point for me to really talk about.

The sculpts: I love these. The new Winter Korps models look SO dynamic, unique, and awesome. The Arcanists are cool, and man the scattergunners are sick. And the warjacks… The warjacks are awesome. The magnetization is easy to do and really a great feature!

So why am I mixed? The Quality control and some of the layer lines of 3D prints.

So, in my limited experience I have gotten at least a few models or pieces of models with minor issues with their print quality. These issues aren’t big enough for me to care to bother with PP service desk. I have also had a few pieces arrive broken, but with clean breaks in them that were easily mended.

Additionally I think expert painters may have issues with the layer lines affecting the quality of their paint jobs. They don’t affect me, but I did notice them as I painted…especially using the airbrush.

So do the models suck? Well… no, its just complicated. They are a very good quality print when the quality control is there.

Why can’t they just be better? Well, 3D printing looks cheap except when you ignore the costs of labor and time. These prints probably take 5-8 hours each and each failure costs a lot of time and manpower. Injection molded plastic is hugely expensive upfront, but very cheap and easy* to mass produce. Resin, Siocast, and metal and much cheaper upfront costs but have higher materials cost and are not nearly as efficient and cheep to mass produce as injection molded plastic. 3D printing is very expensive in manpower, cheap in materials, but prone to misprints. The big advantage is low upfront costs of a new model (as long as your printing infrastructure is in place) so the big advantage is ease of on demand production.

Overall, the models are delicate and prone to miscast of some kind. But are ultimately very nice sculpts that look great painted up on the table. The models are delicate (inherent to 3d printed resin), but the details are great.

I am really unsure of this. I think you will have to look at my pictures and decide for yourself.

I still need to finish painting the warjacks, and I am really excited to do so but I can’t wait for that to publish this article.

The Price Point

This will ultimately depend on if the community settles on 75 point games or 100, but the value here is pretty reasonable. $200 gets you a 50 or so point army that is perfectly legal to play at 50 points. you end up getting 2 Warjacks, 15 winter guard, 3 arcanists, 3 shock troopers (medium base infantry) and a Warcaster. To compare to Infinity, this is akin to 2 action packs and 2 tags of models. For infinity that is actually a ton of dudes, for Warmachine its half an army, but I do think it demonstrates a price point that is in fact reasonable.

Lets break it down in a more 40k perspective. In this $200 box you get two 6 man infantry squads ($50 each), a support box (containing the arcanist and Winterkorps officer) ($35), a 3 man heavy infantry box (probably valued around $50 see the guard weapon box) a character model ($35), and 2 dreadnoughts ($60 each)

So if we were buying individual 40K boxes, it would probably be a value of about $340

It is even better when you compare the cost of entry. To play a full size game of Warmachine you really only need this and the $100 expansion set coming soon (maybe?) and maybe an extra jack and some mercenaries. To play a full size game is about $350 MSRP which is honestly…pretty fair these days.

Warhammer 40k is… way more than that, Legion is a bit less than that with the cost of entry being much closer to $200. MCP is $100, X-Wing around $100, and Infinity just above $100 (Under $100 if you can split the starter boxes and beyond starter boxes). For the scale game that this is though, you do get some pretty good value here, I do just wish we had a two player starter box OR an old school style battle box. The Preview boxes that had two Warjacks and a caster could have been a retail product, and if they were priced down closer to $50 or $60 instead of $70 I think that could have been a really successful loss leader for PP. Instead, for you and a buddy to even try this game you are looking at $400… and that is the big problem here. Had they created a $200 two player box with slightly better value but forcing you to either buy two armies (like I have done constantly) or split with a friend (thereby gaining an extra player) I think it would be both better for the consumer and the growth of the game.

Though there is still time for PP to create a two player box, I don’t think we will see one anytime soon.

Overall, the value is good, but not great.

The Fluff

So I spent some time reading the fluff for all the factions on the App, and started reading some of the short story entries. Overall I quite like most of the fluff. I was pleasantly surprised at how I felt the “Squatting” of winter guard and the formation of the Winter Korps was reasonable and not done purely to sell new models. A lot of hard work, love and care went into the fluff as far as I can tell. I am left wanting to know more! Which is fantastic.

If I had complain about something (and ask my friends, I will always find something to complain about) its the Orgoth fluff. Boring Khorne Blood for the Blood God unimaginative evil super hitler villain bullshit. Don’t waste your time reading it. They murder because satan told them too and theres vague internal struggles over who can murder more people. Its lame.

Overall, for a time skipped story that is still in its infancy… its good! I think there is a ton of potential here for growth and it is definitely enough to keep me engaged and excited about the fluff of my army!

I am surprised to say that this was a total win for me in MK4. Kudos!

The Image

This is probably the biggest problem with Privateer Press and Warmachine MK4 right now. Privateer press is doing an abysmal job selling the game. Booths at conventions are dull affairs. Employees there have no enthusiasm and don’t seem to have that spark of passion needed to attract players who have been spooked by years of watching a game spiral off the rails.

Although I didn’t get to go to Adepticon this year due to having daughter #2, my friends did. One of them was actually very interested in Warmachine and wanted to get hyped into the game at Adepticon. Instead, he left confident he would never buy into the game as a direct result of their pathetic showing at Adepticon. This isn’t an isolated incident. Their showing at LVO was extremely lackluster.

It goes beyond just their staff at these events seeming uninterested and checked out, but it even goes as far as the contents of the VIG swag bags at Adepticon this year. Last year it was some lame paper expansions product for Warcaster. Whatever, that was a year out of covid. This year, the year you have launched the new edition of your mainline product, the very product that will be the make or break of your company you choose to give out your leftover, unsold, MK3 Garbage that is currently not legal in MK4 at all. You should have been giving those out in some other way. Buy X amount of product and spin a wheel to earn some random prize. Oh look you got a $100 Prime Axiom isn’t that neat?

But that isn’t what you did. You chose to give out old garbage currently incompatible with your new game system. This is TERRIBLE advertising. This should have been a free MK4 Warjack. Those kits are super cool, and a great showcase for your new production methods and magnetization model. You need to be selling your new game, not handing out the garbage from MK3. Having experienced the Mk4 product, I imagine if you had given out a Warjack instead you would have convinced a lot of people in the future of the product and that your game was worth their hard earned dollarbucks.

Just to harp on the small details, you guys need to buy yourselves new MK4 banners. Having posters with old dead MK3 Warcasters currently not in MK4 is a bad look. That’s not even to mention the fact that the people working the Broken Egg Tokens booth were visibly distressed over something during the convention. When your top third party seller is visibly stressed out at a big gaming convention… it does not help with the image that this game is on it’s last legs.

I am not here to start a witch hunt against those employees, so please don’t be a dick to them. I just want them to have the proper support they need to enthusiastically pitch their new game system. I don’t know what that means, but something there needs to change. As a rule, I blame systems, not people, so I believe that whatever system those employees are constricted to work in is not conducive to properly advertising their game, and is ultimately hurting the future of Privateer Press and Warmachine.

The Future

The future is currently not bright for Privateer Press and Warmachine. This has been an abysmal edition rollout and it needs a desperate change before it fully collapses. I don’t pretend to know the internal financials of Privateer Press, or their current management structure or business plan. They are a privately owned company and have no requirement to make public knowledge any of that information.

That said, from an outsider looking in, it reads like Privateer Press is in a Dire financial situation. Giving out old obviously unsold product (After years of effectively giving it away in their loot box scheme) is clearly a problem with massive overstocks. Massive overstocks directly translates to the perception that MK3 was failing, and continues to be an anchor dragging down the future of Warmachine going forward.

Privateer press needs to significantly change their course and public perception. For years I have been openly hostile to Privateer Press’s decisions. For years, fans (stans really) have defended Warmachine and PP, ignoring the evidence of entire communities disappearing, game stores dropping their product (often selling at %50+ off and still having product for years at that sale price), and general community feeling that Warmachine is a dead game.

If the community thinks your game is dying, it doesn’t much matter if it is or isn’t. That perception will absolutely manifest itself and those chickens have long since come home to roost.

Privateer Press needs to absolutely go all in on MK4. It needs to be the future, it needs to be great. They need to have the confidence in their product and sell it to an entirely new customer base. If they aren’t confident in it… they should honestly just wrap it up now. I fear they will find themselves trying to cling onto a dying product that will ultimately destroy the company and the IP.


So, should you buy this product?

The answer… is probably no. The miniatures are good but prone to problems. The rules are solid looking, but the community is a toxic cesspool and is absolutely dying but is in denial about it.

If you love the world of the Iron Kingdoms, and have a friend to play with, and love the models and the rules, this is a great product. The price point is fair enough, and I don’t want to tell people that love Warmachine that their game is shit. Honestly, the game itself is good. The models are good. The price is good. The global community is terrible, but yours might be fantastic.

If you are on the fence on this game, I think you should stay there for at least another 6 months to a year. The game is really in critical condition and is showing all the signs of being in a terminal flat spin.

If you have actually read this far you have seen a lot of good not greats. Lots of mixed thoughts. Ultimately this is a good product in an unhealthy ecosystem. It is a game that could have been great if it could have shed its baggage and found a new player base.

It still can be great again, but there’s a long road ahead to that greatness, and I am afraid one of the wargaming greats will soon be a distant memory. Waiting to be resurrected when the IP is sold and the game rebooted by another company in 10 years.

Post Script:

This was hard to write. Warmachine was the first wargame I truly loved. 40K was my first, but Warmachine was that game that I loved the lore, I loved the models, and I adored the gameplay. After that there was X-Wing, and currently Infinity is my true love, but there is something special about that first wargame that really scratches that itch. I want it to be different, and hope it can. If anybody from Privateer Press is reading this, I know you are working hard on making this game great. I can still see the passion your developers and artists still have for the game, and I hope it will be reborn from the ashes of Oblivion to once again stand among the greats of wargaming.

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