Wednesday, 5 October 2011

WarmaHordes: The bandwagon trundles on - Focus versus Fury

And it's that time again.

Unless you've tried it yourself, you've no idea how much of a motivation it is to actually get some traffic.

Which is why I write this now; I was expecting to wait at least till the weekend.

The third instalment of my look into the world of WarmaHordes will deal with the only truly fundamental difference between Warmachine and Hordes, the Fury/Focus mechanic.

So, if you didn't know, WarmaHordes is two games: Hordes and Warmachine. The two are entirely compatible, which is why I treat them as one game. However, the two systems have different core resources - Fury for Hordes, Focus for Warmachine.

Let's look at what this means.

The use of Fury and Focus - Basics
The point of Fury and Focus is basically the same. It is the resource your Warcaster or Warlock use to fuel spells and many special abilities. It is also the limiting factor for Warbeasts and Warjacks, as your caster's ability to handle it is what determines how much you can make your big guys do.

Resource acquisition
Perhaps the most striking difference between Fury and Focus is how you acquire it.

Focus is given to you. Easy, isn't it? Basically, your Warcaster generates his own Focus. There are a few other means of getting it too, but you're all but guaranteed a certain amount of Focus from your 'caster (there are ways of messing with this, but they're few and far between).

For Fury, however, you need Warbeasts. Your Warlock starts the game with his/her/its full complement of Fury, but then that's basically it, no more Fury from the Warlock (unless he decides to hurt himself for it). Instead, every time your Warbeasts do something dramatic (charge, run, make extra attacks, add extra dice to attacks, throw people, and a bunch of other, more obscure things), they generate Fury. This can then be leeched by the Warlock to fuel spells and whatnot.

This also means that while a Warlock remains as individually powerful throughout the game, a Warlock without Warbeasts has been rather effectively neutralized.

The dangers of running low (or high)
As the resources are different, the consequences for poor management of them also differs.

Focus is a pure resource. You might run low, and not have enough Focus to do everything you want, but if you have too much, that's maybe a little wasteful, but in no way dangerous. So, you might find that your Warjacks can't do much more than look menacingly at the opponent, or your Warlock might have less power for spells than a half-drained Duracell.

Fury, on the other hand, is not a pure resource. Once it is on your Warlock, it's more or less the same as Focus (except it stays until you get rid of it, whereas the Focus pool is emptied and refilled each turn). However, while the Fury is on Warbeasts, it is a liability. This comes down to two things: Frenzy and damage transfering.

If your Warbeasts can't be rid of their Fury (by the Warlock leeching it, or by one of the Fury management support models available) they might go nuts and start eating your guys. Or just be a lot less useful for a turn. This means that, while a Hordes army might be capable of doing more (as there is a much higher limit on the amount of Fury that can be on the table than there is on Focus) by forcing their Warbeasts to their max, this will cause trouble during the next turn.

Let's give an example.

Grim Angus has a Fury stat of 6. Sorscha has a Focus stat of 6.

If Grim Angus has three heavy Warbeasts (say a Bomber, a Mauler and an Earthborn)...

... his warbeasts could do enough things to cause fifteen Fury. Translated into simple extra close combat attacks, this means those three Warbeasts would manage seven attacks a piece (two intial, and five extra) for a total of twenty one attacks. Apart from this, Grim Angus himself could use six Fury (assuming he had enough from last turn) to cast spells or boost his shots. If Angus activates last, this means that, right before he does, there might be twenty one Fury on the board.

If Sorscha has three heavy Warjacks (say a Devestator, a Juggernaut and a Spriggan)...

... she would still be the only one producing Focus. If she doesn't cast any spells herself, and instead spends all her Focus to fuel her 'Jacks, this translates into a total of twelve attacks (two initial ones each, and then six for the Focus). No matter when Sorscha activates, there will be no more than six Focus on the board.

However, when Grim's next turn rolls around, he'll only be able to deal with six of the fifteen Fury that are still in play, making it highly likely that one, and not unlikely that two, of his Warbeasts will Frenzy, possibly killing something from its own side, and only getting one attack in the best-case scenario. Sorscha's Warjacks, however, will be none the worse for the wear.

Both resources grant some form of defensive benefits.

Once more, the Focus variant is more straight forward. A Warcaster gets +1 Armour for each Focus still on him/her/it. For some Warcasters, this translates into ridiculous potential amounts of Armour.

Fury, however, can be used to move damage taken by a Warlock to one of his beasts (assuming that beast doesn't have too much Fury on it). The Fury is spent, and the Warbeast takes all the damage. If it can't, because there's too much damage, the remainder goes on the Warlock.

Therefore, Focus is a better defensive mechanism for multiple low-power attacks, but Fury might save a Warlock from that single massive damage attack.

So, which one's better?
That is a difficult question. On the whole, the two systems are well balanced. Warjacks might not be able to do as much, but are generally a bit cheaper than equivalent-stat Warbeasts. Also, Warcasters have a higher average Focus stat than Warlocks have Fury.

In the end, the two different resource systems carry different benefits, and have different challenges built in. The Fury mechanic is perhaps the more flexible, as not only can you take the risk of maxing things out, but you can make the distribution decisions later (when things activate, rather than in the Control phase). On the other hand, Focus is much more reliable, and also has a greater threat range, as a Warjack need only be in range of its Warcaster during the Control phase, and can then happily leg it away, with its allotted Focus, without bothering about Control ranges.

I, of course, prefer Hordes, but that has nothing to do with the mechanics...

So, another instalment at an end. I believe my focus might be slipping, so the next post I write is likely to be another rant, whimsy or meandering speech about something irrelevant.

See you then.



  1. "This also means that while a Warlock remains as individually powerful throughout the game, a Warlock without Warbeasts has been rather effectively neutralized."

    "So, you might find that your Warjacks can't do much more than look menacingly at the opponent, or your Warlock might have less power for spells than a half-drained Duracell."

    "Also, Warlocks have a higher average Focus stat than Warlocks have Fury."

    WarCASTER, you twat. =P

  2. Indeed.

    You wretched gummy bear.