A local craze, Warmachine is like chess…with dragons

Written by: Ken Napier

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With a commanding view from the top of her Throne of Everblight, a Nyss sorceress surveys the battlefield. She spots her target and spurs the throne forward. Tentacles as thick as trees uncoil and creep across the land, driving the 40 foot tall living siege engine onto its target.

Crossing tree and swamp with equal ease, the throne comes up against a 10 foot stone wall separating the forest from the scorched and blighted remains of a farmstead.

From the opposed side of the wall comes the distinct duel-octave baying of a two-headed wolf the size of an Escalade, armored with bonded iron plate. Today, the armor affords no sanctuary. A tentacle snaps over stone the wall and wraps around the wolf, crushing the life out of it and drawing the corpse to the rank and twisted pit of teeth at the throne’s base.

As the engine eats, the Nyss focuses her attention to a group of archers caught in the open. She channels the power of some dark god and unleashes a shower of frozen shards. The dice are rolled… the archers, lightly armored, easily evade the ice storm and begin nocki

ng arrows.

This is Warmachine, a turn-based fantasy game that harkens back to Dungeons and Dragons, in which armies of small scale models wage war on kitchen table sized battlefields. Designed by Privateer Press as a competitive and tournament oriented game, Warmachine leagues have sprung up all over New Jersey and weekly tournaments are held across the state.

Set in the fictional realm of the Iron Kingdom, where electricity has stayed undiscovered and steam and magic reign supreme, 10 equally well armed factions are locked in constant battle for control of the land. There are the 6 central armies that range from the shuffling undead Cryx, and the crusading Protectorate of Mennoth – paladins in golden armor and slinging holy fire – to parties with a more familiar feel like Khador, slow plodding communists in a veneer of proletariat victory red (complete with bears). They are rounded out by 4 expansion factions, which are free of technology and represent untamed hordes of the wild.

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At the core of the game are finely detailed and intricate models that represent the soldiers, sorcerers, knights, wolves, dragons and robots of the different warring factions. Each one of the hundreds of models is an individual character in the game and comes with statistic cards  loaded with information.
Victory is achieved by eliminating the enemy commander or through achieving predetermined objectives.  A typical games lasts for a dozen or so turns over the course of an hour.Before each game, players take turns placing forests, swamps, walls, buildings and other terrain features around the battlefield. The armies are then set up in designated deployment zones which, outside of a few specialty scenarios, are rectangular sections at opposing corners of the field.  Play commences with each side taking turns, moving each unit, activating special abilities and most often engaging in combat.

Winner of the February 11, 2012 tournament at All Things Fun in West Berlin, NJ, Shane Philippi of Washington Township says he plays “Because girls don’t like me….” He stops and laughs, then continues, “No, it’s the most balanced table top game I’ve ever played.”

“I like Dragons… and I like the look of all the models” says Mike Musterer (35) of Berlin NJ. He also describes the game in comparison to Warhammer 40k, another popular table top game, as the difference between chess and checkers.

For people looking to get into the game, each faction has its own starter kit, known as a battlebox. The boxes contain a warlock unit and 12 points of supporting troops. A small additional unit purchase will be required to start play, as tournament play starts at 15 points.

While leagues can be found at most comic and hobby shops, two locations that host Privateer Press sponsored tournaments are All Things Fun in West Berlin, NJ and The Only Game In Town, located in Somerville, NJ.

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Ken Napier
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