By: Vinny (VP18)
It has been a while since I played any games of Warmahordes. Life and work became busy, and I took a break from everything. Recently though a calm has manifested, and a much-needed return to gaming surfaced. A local convention with an Iron Arena event and Story Mode tournament gave me the opportunity to jump back in with both feet and find a local gaming group. More games played meant more learning and a better understanding of Warmahordes, creating new ideas and opinions, including what advice I would give to someone who is just starting out.
Iron Arena was a blast! The event had great prize support, provided entirely by former Press Gangers, and I received a free Khador Behemoth just for playing games of varied point sizes and with opponents from different regions. I also got a tournament miniature transport tray reserved for a new player. Then, a Story Mode tournament gave the first somewhat competitive experience, with lots of fun narrative rules and a hard puzzle someone solved long before most finished the first game. Through it all everyone was super nice. The community was inviting, understanding, and helpful and by far the best one in which I have ever participated. Warmahordes would be my first recommendation for anyone interested in miniature wargaming based mostly on the awesome people who play.
Once someone chooses Warmahordes, I would suggest sticking to a Warmachine faction rather than a Horde faction due primarily to the different ways Fury and Focus work. Fury is tougher to master and can be hard to keep track of for new players. Managing Fury requires constantly thinking about how much is generated, how much can be leeched, and how much remains on a Warlock. If you play with your ‘Beasts hot, or with more Fury than can be removed, you run the risk of a Frenzy, and a Frenzied ‘Beast can change battle plans and potentially kill friendly models. Also, as your ‘Beasts die your Warlock becomes weaker because less Fury is created, making the end game difficult. And while Fury does allow you to negate all damage done to your Warlock, it requires transferring that damage to a Warbeast. On the other hand, Focus replenishes each turn, is distributed rather than generated, and one Focus can be spent to negate five damage. Plus, Power-Up gives every ‘Jack a free Focus each turn in addition to what is given by the Warcaster, and less ‘Jacks means more Focus for ‘Casters, increasing their power late game. Overall, Focus is much simpler and easier to handle.
Another difference between the two systems comes in model cost. Warbeasts have a “‘Beast tax,” a community term for the added expense of a ‘Beast built into its points value. A heavy Warbeast is usually more expensive than a heavy Warjack, which is often the same points as a light Warbeast. List building for Hordes is harder, especially for someone with little experience, and a situation is created where the Hordes force feels smaller and more specialized, while the Warmachine side is slightly bigger and more varied. At thirty-five points I often find myself staring down at three Heavy ‘Jacks with a Light Warjack in tow, while I struggle to fit in more than one Heavy with a couple of Lights. This difference can demoralize and intimidate.
These added difficulties do allow for some significant advantages however. ‘Jacks can generate only three extra attacks with Focus, where ‘Beasts are only limited by their Fury. ‘Beasts also have animi, which are powerful abilities a Warlock can sometimes place on other ‘Beasts. Another is added survivability by transferring full damage as opposed to ignoring just the first five points. And Warlocks can heal damage by spending Fury or use “cutting,” a method of producing more Fury by taking damage. So Hordes factions do provide reward for the risks involved in Fury management.
Looking back I would have preferred to go Warmachine over Hordes, and I am still thinking about shelving the Trollbloods for a short time and picking up a Warmachine faction. Warmachine does not seem more powerful. It just feels easier. There is so much to think about and figure out, like spacing, threat ranges, POW vs armor, MAT and RAT vs DEF, command and control bubbles, dice math, special abilities, etc. Adding in more complexity while trying to remember the core rules and abilities slows down understanding and mastery. And the faster I can learn, the more I can play, and the more enjoyment I get. But I love Trollbloods models, and a new faction means more money and time that is already tight. So I have a decision to make. However, it won’t stop me from playing. In the long run, using a harder system may make me a better player.
Thanks for reading!