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I want to start playing Warmachine but I'm not sure what force I want to play. I am stuck between Cryx, Mercenaries, and the Protectate of Menoth. I've played Warhammer 40k for years and I'm tired of having suchhhhhhhhh huge armies and having to pay so much money for just a small force. I know a lot of Warmachine is pewter but I also know its becoming more and more plastic. Which of these armies would you suggest for someone who's trying to save money and finish his army as soon as possible.
Hmmm Deathwing...or...Grimmnar's Wolf Guard Termies...I think I'll be depressed rather then Barbaric. Deathwing!
Dark Angels 2/0/1
Well, I'm not sure how much help I can be...
I know nothing about the protectorate, really. Or Mercs.
I've played a few Cryx games - they're a faction that tends to rely on buffs and debuffs, and aim to kill the enemy caster as quickly as possible rather than fight a war of attrition, as far as I understand. But I'm not sure which faction (if any) is the most cost efficient.
I think the best way to save money is to try playing the game with proxy models - play as much as you can, try some different lists (although play enough games to get some experience with each) and work out what really suits you and the way you play. Then just buy that stuff. Cuts down on unnecessary spending.
Cryx can be a bit of a swarm army, although that term can be misleading. If you run lots of Warjacks any army will stay low on model count, but running more units will bring it up. I don't know too much about Mercenary armies, but I have found through research that Menoth is very much about having your units work as a team. It has a number of solos who help either units or other solos, just by being in play, same for some units, and warcasters.
How much you spend will depend on what kind of point values you want to play. You can spend $40 for the battlegroup and have a lot of fun and interesting games at just that point level of 15. If you want to go bigger then you're obviously looking at a larger investment.
Consider this. You can get a Cryx faction warjack that costs 7 points for about $25, that's one single model. Or you can get a Cryx unit that consists of 6 models, and costs 7 points, for about $50.
I would have to agree with the above poster, in telling you to try the armies and units out before buying. The rules for every unit of at least the four factions are available online. I'm not sure about mercs. Just search "[army name] Field Test Cards". That will find you the rules for the armies under the current edition of warmachine. Every model out at the release of mk II should be on that list.
If you want to save money, then I'd recommend getting the models online. Around here a 35 point game is pretty standard. I can't say much about Cryx since I'm fairly new to the game myself and have so far only faced Khador, Mercs and Cygnar. I can, however, say a thing or two about the Protectorate. As mentioned above, the PoM works on team synergy and buffing your own troops whilst denying boosts and buffs from the enemy.
A good place to start with them -or any Warmachine army- is to get the Battlegroup box. The Menothian battlegroup nets you a VERY good Warcaster for rookies (High Exemplar Kreoss), plus three Warjacks. Add to that a couple of heavy warjacks (Guardian and Vanquisher work well) plus one full Choir of Menoth and a unit of Exemplar Bastions. Use the Repenter light 'jack you get from the battlegroup as a paperweight and there you go! A full 35-point Menoth army with a grand total of 16 models for less than $200 (I used Maelstrom Games' site to check the price out. They are having a sale so it's worth checking out!)
I'm going to second the recommendations for Protectorate - you can have quite a small, but powerful force with them. Kreoss is the warcaster most people learn to play with when getting into the faction (since he's in the battlebox); and he's great with all the Protectorate's Exemplar models. Forgive me if you already knew this, but among the different types of Exemplar units are Bastions and Cinerators; huge armoured dudes who don't take no lip from anyone. They're slow, but incredibly durable and capable of wrecking face with extreme predjudice. They're also (in my opinion) some of the coolest looking models Privateer Press have produced. Kreoss also loves his warjacks, as others have said. Throw in a couple of support pieces like the ubiquitous Choir of Menoth, Vassal, and the forthcoming Vassal Mechanic; and I think you'd be set.
If you like the Protectorate's warjacks...and I can see why you would, they're essentially funky walking robotic churches...then this is another fellow you might be interested in using:
This is Servath Reznik, he's pretty boss.
Really though, I think any faction can put together a small but powerful force - it just generally involves using lots of 'jacks, something the Protectorate are quite good at that. Though Cryx has a couple of warcasters who are also good at running 'jack-heavy armies, and/or small forces of elite infantry - Master Necrotech Mortenebra and Goreshade spring to mind.
Like Deadstar said, see what you like before you pick up any models (through proxying or with Vassal), then once you've decided what you like go from there.
King Kong is my hero - causing property damage and scaring the middle class are two of my favourite things