Friday, 30 September 2011

WarmaHordes: The bandwagon trundles on - gameplay

I said I might do it.

I'll try to look at a few of the significant traits of WarmaHordes as a game, and tell you why I do or don't like them. So, part actual fact, part opinion piece. Business as usual.

WarmaHordes is a skirmish game.

This is 13 points. Which is one of the little guys away from a viable, small army
 What does this mean, in practice?

One of the guys at the club likes to make the statement that WarmaHordes is a skirmish game - sarcastically - whenever someone brings a bundle of miniatures recently bought. And he has a point. A lot of us buy far more models than are needed.

This aside, a reasonably sized army counts between maybe ten and thirty models (you might get higher if you go with infantry rather than 'jacks or 'beasts, but what's the fun in that?). The action is a lot more detailed than for the much larger-scale Warhammer siblings; the amount of damage caused by one attack can exceed one (or the occasional D3, D6 or 'you're dead'), the chances of hitting depend not only on the attacker but also the defender, models can get injured cripplingly without being dead, and so on.

Well, for one thing, you need less models. Economically, this is somewhat offset by the lack of 'cheap' boxes of plastic models, but I think (without doing any of the necessary research) that WarmaHordes is easier on your wallet than the GW alternatives.
For another, it means two things for your painting endeavours. You need to paint a lot fewer models. And those models have a very small likelihood of being a few dozen repetitions of the same basic trooper. This keeps me going. Mass producing Empire State Troopers or painting two different large monsters? I'll go with the monsters every time.

WarmaHordes is character focussed.

You have a named character. This is not negotiable.

I currently use Calandra. Gotta love those 7 points of FURY.
 If he/she/it dies, it's over. This is slightly less non-negotiable, but still rather definite.

I'll admit it straight away, I wasn't that keen on the notion of mandatory 'special characters' (see, I've been playing 40k since they required your opponent's consent to use). I've come to like my grumpy old Hoarluk, and gypsy queen Calandra. I've also come to realize that this focus means a greater variety of viable lists, as each caster ('Lock or 'Caster) does well with different armies.

However, and this is still not a huge problem for me, it means that the risk of facing 'your' special character across the table is that much greater. Two different Space Marine Librarians facing off? Happens every day. Deneghra having a split-personality day and kicking her own incorporeal arse? Less in the sense department.

WarmaHordes armies are constructed differently.

You have to have a caster. That caster gives you a handful of points that can't be spent on anything but 'Jacks or 'Beasts. Once that's done, the rest is up to you.

Okay, so you can't have as many of everything as you might want (if you're not in luck and have access to a suitable theme list), but you could build an army with nothing but Warbeasts. Or every solo you can lay your hands on. Like infantry? Nothing actually forces you to get anything but (though it would be a waste of those extra points).

There are no mandatory models beyond your caster. There are no limitations on any category of model, beyond specific entries' FA values.

This means, especially when taken in conjunction with the smaller number of models involved, that there is a much larger number of fundamentally different possible armies. And by fundamentally different, I mean that there are different entries involved. A Space Marine Tactical Squad is a Space Marine Tactical Squad whether it's got a melta gun or a flamer. A unit of Kriel Warriors is a unit of Kriel Warriors whether there are six or ten of them.

Rarely will two Imperial Guard armies face each other without at least a few entries making an appearance on both sides. It is possible to build two armies that replicate none of the choices found in the other, but this will only happen at the expense of playability.

Two Khador armies, on the other hand, might well face each other at 35 points and see each choice unreplicated not only between the armies, but within each (i.e. each entry only appears once on the table). This, too, might be a bit restrictive, but one player running 'Jack heavy while the other focusses on infantry might actually achieve it naturally (that is, without coordinating the lists). At least if you don't go into ├╝ber competitive lists, where some things might be 'must-haves'.

WarmaHordes is Character focussed.
Yup, I did that heading before.

It has a second implication, though.

Most scenarios are won or lost on one of two criteria. Objective control, and caster kill. You control X objectives for Y period of time, you win. You kill the opponent's caster, you win.

Even if the latter isn't written into the scenario, killing the opposing caster takes out the primary spellcaster and whatever large things it controls. All the opponent's 'Jacks just went limp. Tell me that isn't going to help your chances on the objectives.

I'm not sure about this. I don't know if I like it. It might be the fact that I'm crap at keeping my less-than-frontline-worthy Warlocks safe. Or it might be something with the mechanic itself.

This is pHoarluk. I've got him killed ten times. I've kept him from getting killed eight times. Not a good record.
My problem is that often, due to the importance of one piece, one crap turn is enough to doom your entire army. With the relatively small number of dice, the standard deviation is large enough that these crap turns happen far more frequently than in a 100+ dice rolls a turn game.

Or I might just be crap.

And there we have it.

Another Wall of Text with a few pictures for good measure.

That's it for now, folks. Stay safe.

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