Tabletop gamers know that wargames usually take up a large chunk of time. Even after you've learned the rules, chosen an army, learned the rules for your army, created a playlist, bought your models, painted your models, and are ready to play, games can take about two to four hours. However, two relative newcomers to the wargaming scene produced by Privateer Press have become very popular: "Warmachine" and "Hordes."
"Warmachine" was released in 2003 and has become renowned for its balance and speed of play. Currently on its second edition of rules, "Warmachine" pits small forces against one another for domination of a battlefield. One of the most important distinctions between "Warmachine" and other tabletop games is that your leader unit, called a warcaster, is the most critical piece in the game. Warcasters receive focus points each turn which can be used to use certain abilities that can boost your army or harm your opponents. If the warcaster is killed, you lose the game.
Released in 2006, "Hordes" is a nearly identical game to "Warmachine" with a few key differences. The leader unit is still the most critical, but is called a warlock instead of a warcaster. Your warlock leads warbeasts which generate fury, and if you don't take the fury generated from your warbeasts, they are liable to lose control and attack you. There are other minor differences, but "Hordes" was built from the ground up to interact seamlessly with "Warmachine."
"Warmachine" and "Hordes" both take place in the fictional setting of the Iron Kingdoms on the planet Caen. The forces represented in "Warmachine" can be described as steampunk while the "Hordes" forces fall in line with high fantasy. There is no singular story to the setting, but it's rich with inter-kingdom wars, resurrecting dragons, and destructive steam-powered robots. Many fantasy conventions are present in the setting such as dwarves and elves, but Privateer Press put enough of a twist on each concept to make them unique.
Where to find it:
Both "Warmachine" and "Hordes" are popular enough to find in local tabletop gaming shops. Most stores that do carry them will have basic units and rulebooks, but specialized items like army-specific tokens and unique units may not be stocked. Most major online tabletop retailers carry the full line of products, but there are a few exclusives that can only be ordered through the Privateer Press website.