Rules House: Warmachine – High Command Part 2

Okay, so following on from part 1, let’s actually discuss the changes I’ve made to Warmachine – High Command to make my “High Commander” variant.

Here’s the link to the actual nitty-gritty rules.

And for giggles, here’s my card list for each faction.

Let’s talk about the big changes.

The Turn/Round Structure and the High Commander

In the original rules for High Command, one player takes their turn in full; purchasing cards, deploying units to locations, and then initiating battles. I found that this made the game a little slow and lacking in player interactivity; now, players alternate buying and purchasing units (the Orders phase), before there’s one combined Battle phase, and finally finishing with the Capture phase.

The obvious change I made was to drop the need to pay a unit’s Purchase cost to deploy them from hand; this makes the game a lot quicker, and ensures that a decent number of units see play, resulting in bigger, more satisfying combats. To offset this, nothing can be rushed until at least one Location is captured; this represents the escalation of the war, and how each faction becomes more committed to send warcasters, soldiers and ‘jacks to the front lines.

The holder of the High Commander title changes turn by turn, and represents the faction who has the particular edge in the war at that time. It may seem strange that they actually go last in the order, but this allows them to react to the deployments and purchases of other players, and how best to assign damage in battles.

Other than that, the core intent of the phases remain. I didn’t mention it in Part 1, but one thing I really love about High Command is that you can use your best units to capture a location, but then those units are moved to Occupying Forces and are then out of the game; it definitely creates an interesting dynamic.


Blame this on years of playing Magic: the Gathering and Fantasy Flight games; both of these games have very tightly written rules, and I’ve tried to keep to the same model and write fairly comprehensive rules. Some of it may seem more complicated than it actually is, but that’s just because I’m trying to cover all situations; when you tweak fundamental elements of a rule-set, you need to be careful to clean up your mess!

Card Abilities

This was the annoying bit; with so many cards with different abilities, it was a pain to make sure that they all matched up with the new rules. Most of them just need tiny tweaks as to when they work in the revised turn structure, but some abilities (Create Scrap Thrall in particular) simply don’t work as intended and needed a more thorough rewording.

Also, I changed the feats for Sorch and Witch Coven; their abilities were simply too good as written; they can cripple a player totally for a turn, and are obvious no-brainer picks over other warcasters because of how strong the ability is. Their amended versions still allow for a lot of dickery without being too overpowering. Fuckin’ Sorcha…

Bonus Sub-Variant: Patrol Commander!

High Command is a great game, but it takes a while to play. Darryl and I are looking to play some games during our lunch hour at work, so we’ve come up with the “quick-game version” of the High Commander variant rules.

  • Two warcasters per player (meaning only two detachments each).
  • Five Locations. No Home Turfs.
Final Destination.
Final Destination.

The result? A much faster game, perfect to satisfy that all-consuming cardboard craving when you’re on a strict time limit; funnily enough I don’t think my manager won’t accept “I was waiting to rush my Decimator and Winter Guard Artillery into Fort Falk!” as a valid excuse for being late back to my desk.

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed my rambling about High Command; I certainly have.

Next time, we’ll be looking at saving the universe… no, wait, scratch that; the Multiverse.



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