The aim in this series is to talk about the core “psychographic” profiles as originally dreamed up by the Wizards of the Coast R&D department to try to encompass clusters of traits that they had begun to identify in particular players and which they used to help be sure that each set released contained something for everyone. The profiles have been covered with more authority than I can provide there, but rather than try to further hijack the concept I’m going to explain each very briefly and then suggest what factions and within them particular themes and warcasters might be suited to a player who leans towards each profile. Hopefully doing so will help players getting into the game to have a better sense of what might most appeal to them while also providing more experienced players food for thought, and direction when they get the urge to expand.
The first profile is the first to have been named – Timmy (“Power Gamer” is Timmy’s title, though not because he “power games” as the term is usually used in tabletop games, but because he likes big things). Timmy plays for emotional experience and is drawn to excitement and to things that are big and dramatic and which create narratives in a game. Timmy wants to win big when he wins, to win in one huge swoop, to wipe his opponent out entirely; Timmy sure isn’t worried about overkill. Younger players are often a Timmy, but that doesn’t mean that older and experienced players can’t be, or that there’s anything wrong with being a Timmy (or that it’s something that you do or should outgrow).
In Warmachine then, Timmy would be drawn to things that are big, that look intimidating, that hit hard, and have high stats. Timmy is a player generally not interested in paying costs for benefits (doing so feels bad) nor necessarily in being responsive to what the other player is doing (seeing cool and impressive things happen is part of the fun, as is a social experience, so Timmy would most naturally want everybody to do what they’re trying to do and see what happens). So, naturally, the factions that we should recommend here are those that are the biggest, the meanest, and which look as much.
Timmy’s Top Factions
This is the easiest Timmy pick. How many times have you heard the story of someone being drawn into the game by the chunky, brutal look of Khador heavies? Khador in MKII was a faction that was more likely to seduce and then disappoint Timmy players than anything, but the faction is much closer to delivering on the desired play experience in MKIII. Jaws of the Wolf and Armored Korps are perhaps the two most Timmy-friendly themes in the game. Warcaster suggestions: Butcher I, Butcher III, Karchev, Vlad III, Sorscha III.
Khador also doesn’t obviously pay for its strengths, not in a way that is immediately, viscerally apparent in game. Khador generally pays in having fewer abilities that interact with enemy models to prevent them from leveraging their rules and strengths, or which allow the Khador player to solve problems that an enemy list might present (problems that aren’t models with DEF, ARM, and boxes, things like Incorporeal). Khador is also a faction largely without rules that provide incentive to allow harm to come to your own models – relatively few instances of rules like Vengeance and Battle Driven, and very little in the way of alternative resource mechanics. This also suits Timmy, who doesn’t generally like having to accept downsides in order to get benefits. The general heartiness of Khadoran warcasters also suits Timmy. Warcasters are often provided the stats and tools to be relatively potent combatants, but aren’t necessarily best used to make anything more than opportunistic attacks in many cases, but it is more often a good idea to get stuck in properly in Khador than in just about any other faction.
Troll warbeasts are probably the closest Hordes analog for Khador warjacks in being visually intimidating and exciting in a way that often draws in players (though they have competition in Hordes in Legion, more on that upcoming). The extreme Mauler has long been a favorite of painters and a model that draws oohs when done well. The Mountain King (and now the Glacier and Sea Kings as well) is also still often lauded as one of the best and most inspiring sculpts in the game. These models visually reflect the Troll identity of being bigger and meaner – and as Troll infantry has gotten bigger over time Troll heavy infantry lists similarly have a very satisfying beefiness. The Mountain King is also a model which naturally creates very cinematic activations (in addition to being a strong huge base) between Bulldoze, Assault, and Kill Shot it can generate productive activations that might appeal to other players for other reasons, but which Timmy likes because they involve a huge monster being a huge monster.
A number of the other features of Khador also apply here – the relative lack of rules that benefit from taking damage (despite it being a feature of the faction’s style that it often takes the first hit in a fight – something that might cause tension for Timmy), the number of buffs possible (which can appeal to Johnny in a different way – in creating synergistic combo play), the number of high durability brawling warlocks available.
Warlock Suggestions: Madrak I, Madrak II, Borka II, Grissel II, Ragnor
Honorable Mentions – Skorne & Legion
Skorne is an honorable mention here because it has some claim to being the Hordes faction of big angry monsters in lieu of Trolls. Titans appeal to a slightly narrower range of aesthetic sensibilities, in my experience, than do Dire Trolls, but they’re similarly impressive. Skorne are, however, a faction that looks to use debuffs and denial more often than Khador or Trollbloods, and one that does have a significant soul collection subtheme. That focus on cost-for-benefit play doesn’t suit Timmy nearly as well, and Cataphracts are less often seen currently as well – which is another aspect of the faction more likely to appeal to a Timmy.
Legion is here partially because there’s something about dragons for some people and because they have traditionally been the go to answer to anyone very new to the game who asks to be directed to a faction which doesn’t have to play any boring infantry – big monsters or robots only. That last element of the faction’s identity has been somewhat eroded, and there are other elements of Legion which are not particularly in line with a Timmy experience (incremental damage and yo-yoing beasts), leaving Legion as a less pure Timmy draw.
Timmy’s Bottom Factions
The factions that populate this list are those that don’t necessarily create visually striking lists (Mercenaries, Cryx), which tend to have heavily responsible or denial based play (Circle, Grymkin, Mercs), which tend to focus on leveraging efficiency and cost-for-return rather than out and out exceptional stats (Cryx, Mercenaries) and which often focus on winning without a full blown engagement (Circle, Mercennaries). This is not to say that each of these factions have nothing for a Timmy – waves of undead Cryxian warriors do appeal to a certain kind of Timmy in particular – but these are probably the factions that are farthest from the core Timmy experience. I have to particularly note Cephalyx – which are control oriented, which have a strange aesthetic, which focus on cost effectiveness, and which have a heavy emphasis on paying significant costs for significant benefits, might be the farthest thing from a Timmy experience in Warmachine.
Top Timmy Warcasters for Each Faction
Cygnar – Lord Commander Stryker (Stryker II).
There’s not much more cinematic than overloading for three dice, and Stryker is a warcaster who is great at creating evocative experiences (though also a very Spike friendly option).
Honorable mentions – Siege II, Nemo III.
The Protectorate – Feora, Priestess of the Flame (Feora I).
Randomness is something which appeals to Timmy more so than any of the other player archetypes, and there are few things in the game which can lead to the stories that Scorched Earth (Feora’s feat) can.
Honorable Mentions – Reznik I, Feora III.
Khador – Karchev the Terrible
Karchev needs very little justification here – he’s a warcaster who is also a warjack (which has long been a very Timmy thing to be, even though it generally just makes him more vulnerable to more things in the game than he would be absent Man in the Machine).
Honorable Mentions – Butcher I, Butcher III.
Cryx – Lich Lord Venethrax
Countercharge is an ability that is very viscerally fun to pull off, and Venethrax, even when more niche and much more boring in MKII, long appealed as a warcaster who could brawl with battlegroups of warbeasts. Cryx is a faction that is generally a little less well suited to Timmy experiences, and so while Vengeance of the Dragonfather (Venethrax’s feat, which is weirdly named given what it does), Deadweight, and Lamentation aren’t really Timmy rules to have, he is still probably holistically the best fit here.
Honorable Mentions – Terminus, Skarre III.
Retribution – Vyros, Incissar of the Dawnguard (Vyros II)
Retribution is another faction that isn’t perfectly suited to the Timmy experience, but Vyros II is a pretty solid offering. Synergy is a Timmy-friendly spell (in making for good stories, in leading to big numbers and dramatic activations, in supporting battlegroup heavy play) and he is himself a pretty bad dude. Tide of War (his feat) is, again, not a great Timmy fit, but it can sometimes suddenly create assassinations, which potentially creates exciting stories.
Honorable Mentions – Vyros I, Thyron, Ravyn.
Mercenaries – Bartolo Montador
Bart runs a Galleon and makes it do crazy, impressive things. He produces some pretty intense numbers and, generally, effectively allows (nearly requires) you to play with the colossal as your de facto warcaster. Broadsides can also create some unpredictable and dramatic effects (especially if Bart’s battlegroup has more ranged warjacks in it than it should). Typhoon (Bart’s feat) is not a very Timmy effect, but it is very evocative, at least.
Honorable Mentions – Drake MacBain, Durgen Madhammer.
Convergence – Forgemaster Syntherion
There isn’t really a perfect Timmy fit in Convergence. Each of Synthertion, Lucant, and Axis offer some features that appeal, but Syntherion’s Axiom on his feat turn likely is the most Timmy-centric experience in Convergence, and that pushes him over the edge. Very few other models in the game can do the damage across the area of table in a single activation, and that kind of dramatic knockout punch play is big, flashy, exciting, and a great story afterwards (Timmy likes to win big when he wins, recall).
Honorable Mentions – Axis.
Trollbloods – Madrak Ironhide, World Ender (Madrak II)
Desperate Hour (Madrak’s feat) is one of the most quintessentially Timmy effects in the game – it can be hugely swingy and can win the game outright and very emphatically when it swings high. Madrak is himself can brawl about as safely as any Warlock or Warcaster in the game (though Grim Salvation is a bit of a cost, which Timmy might not love). Blood Fury is another fairly Timmy-friendly effect, though the DEF debuff might rankle Timmy more than say Spike – who is more likely to view the cost as close to irrelevant based on the spell’s impact.
Honorable Mentions – Madrak I, Borka II.
Circle Orboros – Kromac, Champion of the Wurm (Kromac II)
Kromac is here because he is by far the Warlock in Circle I’ve most often had people speak about their desire to put on the table and make work based on coolness factor (Borka II is also way up there in the game on Timmy factor for the same reason). He was also a payoff to a call in Circle for a warbeast-as-Warlock release that a subset of the faction’s players had been crossing their fingers for. He’s big, he’s impressive, he brawls, he has dramatic, intimidating activations.
Honorable Mentions – Baldur II.
Skorne – Xerxis, Fury of Halaak (Xerxis II)
This is another very self-evident pick. Xerxis is a huge brawler on a giant Rhino (and as an aside – Battleengine warcasters and warlocks generally are much more a Timmy thing than a Spike or Johnny thing). Ignite and Rapport are Timmy-friendly spells and Hand of the Ancients (his feat) is an enabler for the dramatic swings that let Timmy go home happy. Makeda III did get a long look here because her feat is also a very Timmy effect.
Honorable Mentions – Makeda III, Hexeris I.
Legion – Thagrosh the Messiah (Thagorash II)
Another large monster man to win fairly safely. Thagrosh is an intimidating melee presence in his own right and runs an aggressive, high damage battlegroup. As with Stryker II he appeals to Spike because he enables more complicated lines of play and (at least historically) was high on raw power, but while Spike can feel smart about using Dragon Storm (Thag’s feat) to back up and avoid trading, Timmy can dig that much deeper, and have a very exciting turn.
Honorable Mentions – Lylyth II, Absylonia II.
Minions – Helga the Conquerer
This is actually something of an upset in my own mind, as Barnabas II felt like the most immediately obvious pick (another frontline monster). There’s not much in the game that is as good for chaos, for excitement, and for creating memorable game experiences than Grand Finale (Helga’s feat), however, and that’s what pushed her to the top for me. Helga is also very Johnny friendly (Minions generally are). Cyclone when used for to actually generate attacks is also a very Timmy spell.
Honorable Mentions – Barnabas II.
Grymkin – The Child
Grymkin are really another of the factions that seem fairly far from Timmy’s core interests, but the Child is another big brawling Warlock, and Wrath is a very Timmy-friendly Arcana. A fair amount of what the Child does otherwise is benefit for cost (if minor costs – e.g. Tantrum, Abuse, and Pain Response) which aren’t really what Timmy is normally looking for, but that’s also something that’s really very core to how Grymkin play, so it’s hard to avoid and part of why Grymkin aren’t a faction with a ton of good picks here.
Honorable Mentions – The Heretic.