-By: Ross (Xarlaxas)

So, you’ve bought yourself a battlegroup, played a few games, maybe even joined in a Journeyman League, as mentioned in previous articles, but, perhaps, there’s an another aspect of the Warmachine/Hordes that you haven’t yet explored: the “hobby” side.

If you have come to the game from other systems, you might already be familiar with the idea of “converting” models, making distinct paint schemes, etc. however, the Privateer Press community tends to stick more closely to the rules that are posted in the Official “Steamroller” PDF, available on the Privateer Site here, so, first it is a good idea to get acquainted with the restrictions before letting your creativity go wild.

The most important caveat, before we get into the details, is that the Tournament Organizers (TOs) have final word on whether a conversion is legal or not at their event, so, even if it follows all the rules, they have the authority to say that the model is not suitable for their tournament. Therefore, if you plan to go to an event, it is best to see if you can contact the TOs in advance so they can approve your conversions. For casual play, however, just sticking to the rules should be fine for your opponent. After each section, there will be an image of a “correct” conversion as per the specific rules.

No using the intellectual property (logos, symbols etc.) of companies other than Privateer Press. If you want to make a sweet Star Wars-themed list, or maybe one based on your favorite football team, you *cannot* use any of the symbols, or anything that is clearly from the franchise/organization. If you want to do something like that, you’ll want to stick to painting your models to match the theme you want, or doing conversions that are similar, but not identical.


The majority of your converted model must be made of Privateer Press parts. Simply put: you can’t plop down a 3rd-party model, put a PP hat on it, and call it a conversion. You also can’t just use another Privateer Press (or 3rd-party model) without any conversion and say “this is X model.” You can use 3rd-party parts, but they should be used to accessorize rather than be the basis upon which you make your conversion. Another caveat here: don’t forget to use “iconic” elements of the model you are supposed to be representing. Your model must *look* like whatever it’s supposed to be.


You can convert (or swap) out weapons freely, as long as they are the same *type* of weapon: you can convert/swap an axe for an axe, hammer for hammer, sword for sword, etc. No turning that sword you don’t like into an axe because you think it looks cooler on the model. You also cannot remove a weapon entirely and not replace it with an equivalent. If you do that, your opponent won’t know what your model’s equipped with!


Some models are made by taking a Beast or Jack kit, and adding an “upgrade kit” to the model: Torch in Khador, or Blood of Martyrs in Protectorate are good examples. When you are doing conversions with such models, you *must* use all parts from the upgrade kit, and they must be clearly visible.


This may seem obvious, but it is written out so that everyone is aware: you must use the correct size of Base for your conversion (30mm, 40mm, etc.) and they *must* be round-lipped, like the regular PP bases. This means you can use 3rd-party bases if you want, so long as they match the dimensions and have that sexy round lip. Also, should you put some kick-ass scenic details on the base, make sure that they do not overhang the base, blocking the edge: this can result in it being impossible to accurately measure to the base.


Before a game begins, you must point out your converted models to your opponent, and make sure that they are aware what model it is meant to represent. Considering the effort you will have probably gone through to make your kick-ass conversion, you’ll probably be wanting to show off your models to whomever you’re playing anyway, but this just makes bragging an official requirement.

Now that we’ve gotten the boring rules part out of the way, let’s talk about the fun stuff: what sort of crazy things you can get up to with conversions! Say there’s a model whose rules you really like, but you think that the sculpt might be a bit, say, lacklustre? Well, let’s see what we can do to fix that!


As we can see here, a model whose original pose could be considered not so dynamic [LINK] has been given a whole world of dynamism, and really evokes the character as seen in the fluff, rules, and art! This is what I would call a master-class conversion, done by JarikSpiegel on the forums [LINK]. In the case of this particular model, there have been a lot of conversions floating around, and even I made an attempt.


As you can see, I did not go to quite the same extremes as our komrade above, however, both are clearly the same character, and, just with tweaking the posing of the arms, and adding something scenic to the base, you can make a model stand out a lot.

Of course, you may be inspired to do something “crazy” from time to time. Maybe you look at the remaining bits from some of your conversion projects, and go, ‘well, what if we took this literally?’ The result can surprise you sometimes:


Meet Yuri the AXE. What Tesoe made as a humorous addition to his Star Wars-themed thread [LINK]. Under the current rules for conversions, this model is completely tournament legal. Let’s go over the requirements quickly:

It’s all PP parts, with the iconic elements in prominent placement, the giant axe is being used as his body, and is clearly not being wielded, so it’s not an “extra” weapon, the scheme is perfectly legal, there’s no overhang on the base, and it’s safe to say that the model is recognizable! Of course, a TO could say no to the model, but, again, in a regular game, I don’t think anyone would refuse the AXE.

Now, I mentioned color schemes a couple of times before, but didn’t really go into detail. While each faction in Hordes and Warmachine has their own official colors, and you can usually find good guides in the Mk3 Battlegroups to learn the basics of painting them, I personally prefer to come up with my own unique schemes. For some this can be an expression of a particular interest, inspiration, or a chance to show off their skills; for me, it’s more a matter that I know that if I tried to paint the official scheme it would look awful in comparison *cough*. Knowing this, I will think about the faction, consider outside sources (mythology, fiction, real-life organizations) and how they could relate to the fluff for the faction I am currently painting.

For example, I wanted to do a Wolf-focused Circle army, and I didn’t want to use the official scheme. As I’m from Scotland, I thought “why not something Pictish” for my theme? Thus, my white-furred, blue-dyed Circle force came to be! Ironically, this is probably a harder scheme to paint than the classic Circle, but at least it looks unique!


Ultimately, it is up to you whether you want to paint the official color scheme for your faction, make one up yourself and write a cool back-story for why your Khador are pink, add extra spikes to your Jacks, or make a crazy diorama on the base of your colossal. The point of modelling, converting, and trying unique schemes is to have fun! If you want to give it a go, that’s great! There’s a board on the official PP forum [LINK] that has lots of modelling and painting advice. The posters are very friendly and give good advice. As well, you can always ask in the blog’s Facebook group, or the Facebook groups for your particular faction.

I hope that this has helped inspire some of you to try something adventurous with your models: as you can see, you don’t need to be a Warmachine master before you try this stuff out, the game doesn’t even require you to have a fully painted army to play at tournaments, but the satisfaction of a neat idea coming to life on the tabletop is something beyond words. Give it a shot and show us what you come up with!


Thanks to JarikSpiegel and Tesoe for allowing the use of their images in this post.