Warmachine: The Prime Directive

Can we take a moment to talk about how freaking gorgeous this book is? I mean, other than the fact that it’s thick enough to choke a mule and  weighty enough to stump a 3rd year philosophy major, this book is just lovely. I mean, I get that we have the rules digests in the battleboxes (which I love for portability and reference) but there’s something just that much more significant about holding a hefty tome with a subtly embossed cover, that I’m even willing to overlook the complete lack of a Menite warjack on the cover. Next expansion book cover art, Privateer… I’m just sayin…


So I guess the big question for non-bibliophiles like myself is, why buy this book if we get the rules in the battleboxes and each model comes with its own rules card, or is otherwise available in the War Room app (which I also heartily recommend). The answer, quite simply, is more.

Warmachine is so much more than just pushing models around on a tabletop. It’s the modeling and painting. It’s the community events. It’s an entire world with depth, conflict, and other important sounding words, and if all you’re going to do is read a rulebook, you’re going to miss out.


Ignore all the pretty, wonderful, magnificent Menite warjacks, and look in the bottom corner there. Iron Kingdoms History.

Now, I’ve been playing Warmachine for over half a decade at this point, and it’s a world that I love. I rode the MkI tsunami into the Cliffs of MkII. I climbed those cliffs and when I got to the top the whole world had changed. Things I had understood as foundational to what was going on in the Iron Kingdoms had dramatically changed. Skull Island is full of wonderful stories to give me an idea for some particular individuals, but what’s the actual current geopolitical state of the Iron Kingdoms? Have the Skorne smooshed Ios? Are there any Cephalyx left after the Butcher was pointed at them and Karchev was given a new body to walk around in?

IMG_5364Even ignoring the new rules shininess, like terrain that is actively trying to kill you (man, I really want to park some Cleansers in a Burning Earth piece), the simple ease of having a book with full-sized text can help an old man like me read effortlessly while also luxuriating in the fact that it looks amazing on my gaming bookshelf 😉

And then there’s the other major component the rules digest is missing: Model entries.

Yes, you get cards with your models, yes, there’s the Introductory Guides in the battleboxes, but even after you’ve pored through War Room and looked at the rules, you’re missing so much flavour without the model entries. It’s like having your packet of ramen noodles without dumping that overly salted flavour pouch in there. Sure, you get the starchy pseudo-food, but you don’t get the zing on your tongue.

Major Beth Maddox – who is she, where has she been all these years that she’s only a feature in the game now, what sort of personality does she have? What Stormsmith Grenadiers, or the Arcane Tempest Rifleman? It’s to the point where I’m even using Cygnaran examples! Gah! Even if you ignore the fluff side of the book, simply having it in front of you to flick through as you discuss the points variance between a Reckoner and a Vanquisher (ahhh, Menite examples, that’s better…) is that much easier, and you can leave the book open on the coffee table as a conversation starter when your partner’s parents are over and meeting you for the first time. “So, he tells me you play … Cryx…”


And that’s when you whip out your rulebook and get to work helping them understand how Gunfighters like the Satyxis Gunslingers interact with the Free Strike rules, thus proving that you truly are forward thinking, able to comprehend deep and IMG_5368potentially complicated model interactions, and thus truly are suited to be a suitable partner/provider for their offspring, and will be able to safeguard any future progeny of your own from those imperialistic Khadorans.

Side note, who the heck is this mysterious saviour who fought against Ghyrrshyld? “A mysterious and as yet unnamed champion of Scyrah”… The smeg? Seacat, I demand answers!!

Of course, the hobby and painting section of the book is not to be dismissed either, and then – because Warmachine and Hordes really are two sides of the same coin – there’s an appendix with a summary overview of how Fury works, etc, so that as a new player you don’t get completely blindsided when a Bronzeback Titan smashes into your Steelheads and makes an absolute mess of them.


There are about 388 reasons to pick up the Prime rulebook for Warmachine in MkIII. You may not immediately need it as a new player, thanks to how well the Battleboxes are put together, but in the end? You’ll want it.

Oh yes, you will.