Warmachine Terminology - a Guide

This is a new player guide to the terminology of Mk4. This Topic is a Wiki, so if you have any term you think should be included please feel free to add them. If you have questions about a term you’ve heard that isn’t included please ask in the replies; it’s probably worth including in the list.

Official Terms


An Army is a collection of models that work together and is the foundational building block of Warmachine Mk4. Your chosen Army dictates what models you can put in a list and what Spell Rack cards you have available to you.


Factions are a larger grouping of models above the Army level. These primarily exist as a thematic or narrative connection between different Armies. In previous editions of Warmachine your Faction dictated your available model selection, but in Mk4 they are largely external to the actual rules of the game. A Cygnar Storm Legion model and a Cygnar First Army model may share a Faction and may have thematic or stylistic similarities, but they cannot be used in the same list. The exception to this is Cadres.


Cadres are groups of models that are part of a Faction which can be added to lists of multiple Armies from that Faction. Cadre’s are still in development, so their exact composition is not yet known, however they are likely to include things like support models, battle engines, or colossals.


Legacy models are models that were released during previous editions of Warmachine. In short, any model released before August 2022 is a Legacy model. Legacy Armies are Prime Arena Armies made up of Legacy Models.

Prime Arena

Prime Arena is Warmachine’s main competitive format. All models released after August 2022 are Prime Arena models, as well as select Legacy models that are part of a Legacy Army (see above). Legacy models that are not part of a Legacy Army cannot be used in Prime Arena play. Events can be run as Prime Arena or Unlimited Arena events, so look at the details for an event before you attend.

Unlimited Arena

Unlimited Arena is Warmachine’s free play format. This format allows all models in Prime Arena as well as all Legacy models. Legacy models that aren’t part of a Prime Arena Army can be used alongside models from their Legacy Faction by building a Custom Army.

Warrior Model

All models are Warrior Models unless they are defined otherwise; all models are considered Warrior Models unless they are a Warjack, Warbeast, Horror, Colossal, Gargantuan, Structure, or Battle Engine.


This is a great idea!

Unofficial terms

Theme Force

Theme Forces were a list-building option in Mk2 and Mk3. A Theme Force would specify a subset of models within a Faction that you could play in the Theme Force and in exchange you would get bonuses such as extra abilities or free models. Theme Forces acted as a precursor to the idea of an Mk4 Army (with some Mk4 Legacy Armies based directly off of an Mk3 Theme Force) and as such you may see veteran players use the terms interchangeably, but as of writing Theme Forces do not exist in Mk4.


'Caster (or simply caster) can be used in a couple of ways. In common usage it is simply shorthand for Warcaster, however in earlier editions of Warmachine there was no official term for Leaders and so 'Caster was often used to refer to any warcaster, warlock, or master model.


In previous editions of the game, factions lead by Warlocks were marketed under the name Hordes as a separate-but-compatible game from Warmachine. With the release of Warmachine Mk4 the Hordes branding was dropped and all Legacy Hordes Factions switched to the Warmachine branding, but you may still see veterans referring to Hordes Factions or Armies. This simply means “Armies led by Warlocks” such as Brineblood: Marauders or Legion of Everblight: Ravens of War.

Pulse and Aura

You will sometimes see players refer to abilities or feats as a “Pulse” or an “Aura”. These terms are used to describe rules that have an effect on models in a given area from a model (i.e. within 5" of this model, while in this model’s control area) and specify the duration of the effect.

Essentially, a “Pulse” effect is one that takes place immediately. Generally in the actual text of the rule this is distinguished by the phrase “…models currently within…”. This indicates that all models that are in that area at the time the ability is used are effected by the rule regardless of what happens to the model that triggered the rule later in the turn. So for example a model who’s feat reads “Models currently in this model’s control area…” would be considered a Pulse effect and the models effected by it could freely leave that control area and still retain the effect.

On the other hand, an “Aura” is an effect that is continuously re-checked as models enter or leave the area. Generally the rules text for this is less specific than the wording for a Pulse, but a good rule of thumb is that if it’s not a Pulse it’s probably an Aura. These rules stay centered on the model that used them and new models can gain or lose the effect by entering or leaving the area, either by moving themselves or by having the source of the effect move. So a solo with a rule that says “While within 5in of this model…” could use the ability and then the models they want to benefit from the rule can move in to the area to gain the effect; alternatively a model could move away from an enemy model creating an Aura effect to avoid a debuff.


Double Boosted refers to an attack with both a boosted attack roll and a boosted damage roll. This will often be referenced in the context of rules like Powerful Attack which allow a model to boost both the attack and damage rolls with one Focus, Fury, or Essence.

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This topic is now a Wiki, meaning any user who is at least Trust Level 1 can make edits. If there’s terminology I’ve missed or you have a better explanation of please feel free to add or edit any of the entries.


I forget what the exact definition is. But you should probably include a clarification in terminology between warrior models and not warrior models I remember I was confused as a newbie at what a warrior model was

Also “friendly” vs. “Friendly faction”

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A Note on Rules Language

New players, especially those who have played other wargames in the past, will often have questions about rules language in Warmachine. Fortunately for us, @Michael has done an excellent job walking through some of the fundamental structure of how Privateer Press writes rules.
(note: this was originally written in response to a question about whether Feats count as Spells).

So, in Warmachine, it’s customary for rules to only say what they do, instead of what they do not do.

So, for example, let’s look at model types and bring up an old question that used to crop up in earlier editions fairly regularly: “Do warjacks and warbeasts generate soul tokens?”.

We start by figuring out what generates soul tokens.

So, from this sentence, we are told that every single model in the game is a living model, unless the model’s rules say otherwise. It gives us the blanket rule, and tells us that certain models might be different.

That’s pretty straightforward, as these things go. :slight_smile: If you’re a living model, you have a soul, and models are living models unless specified otherwise.

All warjacks (currently; things could change, mind you!) have the Construct advantage, which says:

So, this rule tells you what it does: it makes the model not a living model. It doesn’t make it, for example, Undead, because it doesn’t say it makes the model Undead.

Also, in this edition, the book spells out the living distinction even further in the Warjack section:


So, from this, it’s pretty clear that warjacks do not generate soul tokens. What about warbeasts?

So, models are living models unless otherwise specified. Nothing in the generic warbeast rules say otherwise, so therefore warbeasts are living models.

…except, of course, for Construct warbeasts (or warbeasts with the Soulless advantage), but you probably figured that out already. :slight_smile:
Long-winded, I know, but hopefully this supports the point that the rules only say what they do, not what they do not do.

Bringing it all back around to address your specific question: a feat would say outright “Feats are spells” if feats were spells. Or, alternatively, the “Spells” section would contain similar blanket language. Unless the rules says “This is X” somewhere, then you’re safe taking the rules at face value. :slight_smile:

A feat is a feat is a feat; it’s just a once-per-game thing that warcasters/warlocks/infernal masters can do. Sometimes they cause the leader to cast spells, but in and of itself, saying “I use my feat” does not mean you’re casting a spell. :slight_smile:

Hopefully this helps! :slight_smile: