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Ailing Warhammer 40k rival Warmachine bought up by competitor

Warmachine’s competitive scene once dominated gaming conventions, but a flubbed fourth edition and flagging sales put it in jeopardy.

A steam-powered red Warjack robot with twin gattling guns and a giant claw, from Warhammer 40k rival Warmachine

Warmachine, the steampunk fantasy wargame that once had a competitive play scene to rival Warhammer 40k, has been acquired by Steamforged Games. The UK-based firm has also picked up the Iron Kingdoms setting, its tie-in RPG, and the Formula P3 painting range as part of the deal.

If you cut your teeth on Warhammer 40k 8th edition or later, you might not realise quite what a big deal Warmachine used to be in the miniature wargaming hobby. It offered unique gameplay, manageable army sizes, great tournament support, and high quality FAQs and balance updates.

A lightning powered Warjack robot from Warhammer 40k rival Warmachine

This was a big deal at a time when Games Workshop put so few resources into game balance that some Warhammer 40k factions would go multiple editions without getting a new Codex.

Warmachine’s popularity has tailed off since then. While the competitive scene was vibrant, it didn’t have much in the way of a casual player base, which was bad for recruitment. When the fourth edition launched in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, much of the game’s legacy model range was marked for retirement, pissing off enfranchised players. The launch of Warhammer 40k eighth edition, and Games Workshop’s sudden interest in competitive wargaming, pulled over many players.

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It’s hard to think of a better home for Warmachine than Steamforged Games. Steamforged’s founders, Rich Loxam and Mat Hart were once organisers in the UK Warmachine tournament scene, which inspired their first game, Guild Ball.

Soldiers with blue armor and lightning swords from Warhammer 40k rival Warmachine

Hart says that the team at Steamforged is taking the prospect of this new IP seriously: “There’s a profound sense of duty to nurture its growth and potential, and we take that responsibility seriously”. What kind of support Warmachine will receive remains to be seen – Steamforged primarily makes board games with videogame licenses these days.

A joint press release asserts the firm is “positioned to elevate Warmachine and the Iron Kingdoms to new heights”. Current players should expect a transition period as products move from the Privateer Press webstore across to the Steamforged one.

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Color us excited – Warmachine may be past its heyday, but the game is a hoot, and it has been incredibly influential – check out this follow-up article to understand more.  Some of the key staff behind Warmachine’s success, notably designer Will Shick, moved on from publisher Privateer Press to form Atomic Mass Games, where they’ve continued to make great work – see our effusive Star Wars: Shatterpoint review for an example.