Theme 1: Warcaster/Warlock

Warmachine and Hordes has a distinct advantage over other game systems when it comes to constructing themed armies.  This is due to the nature of Warcasters and Warlocks.  For those who wandered here from outside, Warcasters and Warlocks are the leaders of your army.  Every army must have one.  Each one is very powerful, able to strengthen warjacks and warbeasts, cast spells, use powerful abilities, and fight like a true Greek hero.  The warcaster/warlock is also like a king in chess, whose death usually ends the battle the instant it happens. 

All of these things easily make a warcaster/warlock the center piece of an army.  But there’s another facet to these models that makes this even more appropriate.  They are characters.  Each warcaster and warlock is a named character within the background of the world setting.  They are leaders of soldiers and masters of machines or beasts.  They have a story, a history, passions, wants, loves and vendettas. 

In terms of building a themed army, there is a lot to work with here.  A warcaster or warlock themed army operates on a simple principle.  Chose your character, and select the army around them.  This is done in three easy steps:

  1. Pick your favorite warcaster or warlock.  This character can be chosen by looks, story, abilities, or even the roll of a dice (you like them all too much!).  The important part here is to pick one and stick with it till the army is done. 
  2. Hit the books.  You now need to immerse yourself in this character.  You need to look for histories about them within the setting.  The MK II Rulebooks and Forces books are great for this, but do not neglect the MK I rule books.  No Quarter Magazine is another good source of information.  If your chosen general has been profiled in the files of Gavin Kyle consider yourself blessed, you now have new insights into their character and motivations.   
  3. Build an army.  You are not limited to certain kinds of troops or warjacks in the same way as other varieties of theme armies.  The only limitations are the ones that your background research has revealed.  Often these are not hard and fast limitations, but rather insights into the character’s personal preferences and past history.  Stay true to these insights and you’ll have an army with a strong character feel.  **NOTE – you will often find that warcasters and warlocks work with different sorts of armies at different points in the background.  This should be taken into account when building your army. 



All of the above is really theory and guidelines.  The best way to drive home what I mean about a warcaster/warlock themed army is to build one as an example.  Of course, there are 10 whole factions out there, and nearly 100 warcasters and warlocks.  How is one to decide what army should be an example?  Here at The Theme Workshop, we roll dice to do such things!  ::roll:: ::roll:: ::roll::  Hmm?  36?  Alright then!

Theme: 1 (Warcaster/warlock)

Faction: Cryx

Warcaster: Lich Lord Terminus

Points: 35 pts

Step 1: Completed

Step 2: So the dice came up Terminus (yes I did roll).  Let’s do a bit of a fluff run down.  What do we know about Terminus? 

  • Terminus is a huge freaking monster made of flesh, bone, and metal
  • Terminus is a Lich Lord, immensely powerful and thousands of years old. 
  • Terminus is tasked with overseeing Cryxian operations on the main land (Western Immoren)
  • Terminus hates Asphyxious with a passion
  • Cryx’s operations on the main land consist of gathering raw materials for their war machine. 


I’ve got the feel for Terminus now.  He feels to me like a classic villain.  He’s immensely powerful, evil to the core, and likes hordes of minions to back up himself and his trusted subordinates.  He’s a sledge-hammer to the face.  Not for him the sublte assassinations of Denegra, or the pirate raids of Skarre.  Terminus is all about getting up close and personal and breaking skulls with some heavy hitters at his side and a swarm of minions to his front.  A look at his personal abilities confirm this.  All of his abilities either help keep him alive, help him tear warjacks in half, or keep the minions going.  His spells either shoot magic at the enemy, or make them more susceptible to being killed by Terminus.  His feat powers him like he just plugged into a nuclear plant.  No doubting it now, Terminus is a monster, and an army themed around Terminus is all about Terminus.  The following things in my opinion fit well with him in a 35 point army.

Hell jacks: If it’s one thing Terminus needs, its more monsters.  Every true villain needs trusted right hand men, or machines in this case.  All non-character Helljacks are good to go here.  Seethers, as insanely powerful necrotech creations, fit very well in this theme.  The aquatic jacks fit less well.

Thralls: Mechanithralls, Bile Thralls, Bane Thralls:  If it has thrall in the name it works well with Terminus.  This creature is a lord of the undead, and what is a lord without his minions?

Harvesters: Necrotechs, Necrosurgeons, scrapthralls: Terminus’ main mission on the continent is to gather raw materials.  These are the guys that help him do it.

 So, with these in mind….

The List 

  • Lich Lord Terminus +4
  • Slayer – 6
  • Seether – 9
  • Reaper – 7


  • Mechanithralls (10) – 5
  •             Brute Thrall – 1
  • Mechanithralls (10) – 5
  •             Brute Thrall – 1
  • Necrosurgeon – 2


  • Necrotech + Scrap Thrall – 1
  • Scrap Thralls (3) – 1
  • Scrap Thralls (3) – 1

 35/35 points

So there’s the army.  The Lich Lord and his personal Helljacks are at the center, forming a strong core of murderous iron and hate.  Ahead of them is a swarm of thralls, with Brute Thralls playing the role of light jacks and a Necrosurgeon keeping the pack on its feat.  As an element of necromantic randomness, you also have scrap thralls, and a Necrotech to keep the jacks moving.  The army can be adjusted easily for more bodies as well, simply swap out the Slayer for more Mechanithralls. 

How it looks

There’s a very clear theme to this army.  You have vast waves of mechanized and expendable undead running full tilt towards the enemy.  They won’t stay down, they get remade like new each turn, and it’s going to hurt like hell when this fleshy fist-toting tide hits.  What could be worse?  The towering Lich and his trio of black iron murder machines coming behind them.  Terminus really feels like a general in this army.  He’s the one leading the swarm, and his monsters are backing him up on this.  This is a villain through and through.  You have a swarm of minions and a quartet of bosses for anyone who gets through the pawns. 

How it plays

This army will play simple, direct, and unavoidable, much like Terminus himself.  It moves across the table in a single mass, with the Thralls running every turn.  Terminus and the Jacks should run to keep up, as should the Necrosurgeon.  As you move up, try to keep as many thralls as possible in CMD range of Terminus so they gain tough.  The ones that don’t make it should be brought back by the surgeon as quick as possible. 

The impact of this wave of bodies is going to be the build up to the crucial turn.  The Mechanithralls should run, not charge, the enemy, getting as many into combat and tying down as many things as possible.  They’ll die in droves, but they are minions, this is their purpose.  Directly behind this should be Terminus, close enough to some thralls that he can use sacrificial pawn, and with his jacks keeping things from easily reaching him in melee. 

The next turn is the kicker.  Bring back any thralls you can, move terminus close, feat and just start killing.  It doesn’t matter what it is, kill it, then bathe in it’s entrails.  Filling Terminus with souls is task number one.  Full of souls he’ll be safe for one more turn (hella high armor), so try to protect your jacks (or kill the things that can kill them). 

The final turn?  The end game.  Spread that now massive focus pool around and break the last of the enemy under a tide of iron monsters. 

The key to playing this way is to play like a cartoon villain.  Your enemy doesn’t matter, your troops don’t matter.  In the end, the battle will come down to you and your closest associates, suitably powered by the slaughter of armies, mercilessly pummeling the heroes into the dirt.

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One Response to Theme 1: Warcaster/Warlock

  1. ORPin says:

    Thanks for this – wandered here from the PP forums and this is exactly what I have been looking for. No experience with WM/H so I wanted to get a feel of how it played.


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