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35 or 50 Points?


Like all wargames, Warmachine seems to come together at a certain size of games. This sweet spot is either 35 or 50 points, but so far, I haven’t decided which is the best.

As a game, Warmachine (and Hordes) is really cinematic and basically a small skirmish game. This is a little different coming from the Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40000 background I have where most games were epic battles involving between 50 and 200 models on the table. In contrast to these, Warmachine has greater complexity and a really tight set of rules. As I have never subscribed to the ‘bigger is better’ approach to gaming, it is interesting to consider the sweet spot for this system.

Unsurprisingly, I started playing Warmachine and Hordes at 15 and 25 points, and whilst great for learning the mechanics of the game, certain abilities become very unbalanced very fast. Anyone who has played against Goreshade at 15 points will know what I mean.

Last year, I started playing a lot more 35 point games. This is the minimum level for most tournaments and seems to be the standard at our club.  At this level Warmachine armies tend to be lean and mean, and quite focused. As a synergy based game 35 points seems to provide just enough room to include some tricks and synergies, but not enough to cover a whole lot more. This forces some tough army selection choices which I like.


Two 35 point Ret lists

In the big wide world, 50 point lists seem to be the norm. This gives is enough points to cover more different tactical scenarios, but not so much that you cover everything, which is fine because in a tournament setting because you will normally have two or three lists. And certain lists, especially in Hordes but also including Rahn’s No Quarter theme, need the points to fit stuff in.

So which is best?

Well, in my experience 50 point games seem to flow better. The threat of assassination is somewhat diminished and the ‘gotcha’ factor of certain synergies is less of a thing. On the other hand, 35 point games are more accessible, both financial and in terms of managing models on the table.

So readers (or at least the ones that play Warmachine), this seems like an excellent opportunity for a poll and I want to know your opinions!

3 thoughts on “35 or 50 Points?

  1. What you have to realise is that it is a totally different game at 50 points from a multi list/shoring up weaknesses point of view. Also in general list makeup is fairly different either side of the discussion. 35 point lists seem to be designed with 1 or 2 major skew points to force the game, whereas 50 points seem to have the space to work more generally on the board.

    I think whether you enjoy either more comes down to the following

    – Your play it painted values, obviously 35 points is easier to achieve personally and from your opponents perspectives
    – Your faction, some factions (think Trollbloods) have to have more support which makes their 35 point lists feel more lean.
    – You addiction to the big and expensive stuff (points terms) if your cool factor is having a big stompy thing in there (Garg-ossal) you are likely going to enjoy the more points
    – Your ability to see the way to push your list tactic to extreme, I cant seem to stop myself from building lists which are generally good but lack the razors edge in a particular area. Its why I lose to well thought out skewed 35 point lists.
    – How long you have been in the game. Generally if you have been kicking about within this game for over a year, getting to 50 points (even fully painted) isnt the hardest challenge and when you do get all these models to give you options the natural inclination is to fight with more of them at the same time.

  2. I’d agree with Daniel on all those. Something else to consider is that 35 vs 50 points also changes which casters you might want to use.

    Some of the casters who can do lots of work on their own become proportionately more powerful at 35 points than 50 because they present a strong threat to a smaller opposing force, albeit less powerful than they were at 15 and 25 points. More supportive casters often become better with larger points values as there is more for them to support. I always end up in a bit of a bind here – I like the pace of 35 point games and the difficult decisions in list building, but I prefer to play support casters.

  3. Thanks for the comments guys, all excellent points! I suspect the preferred points levels are also determined by local metas. For example, SPIF includes a very large range of games, and not just Warmachine, so building bigger armies is just not a priority for most people.
    On the other hand, a few Colossals are beginning to make an appearance so that might change. I suspect I will slip back to more 35 point games while I’m building my Convergence or if I return to Cygnar; but I think I prefer 50 point games with the elves now a have a good selection of models.

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