Okay, so I am a little excited. I have branched out and picked up some Hordes models to add to my war-gaming collection. The sculpts are really pretty good. They fit together at least as well as my familiar Games Workshop models. Some of the kits I've picked up so far were pretty easy to put together. Not a lot of flash to trim, mold lines, stuff like that. I used a little putty here and there, and after reading on the internet that Privateer plastic kits don't assemble with Testors' plastic glue I saved myself the headache of trying that. I think the only models that frustrated me were the gun boars (who have a very heavy metal hand to glue on a weird angle) and the spikes that come with Lord Carver. There are several contact points on the spikes, but they are kind of flimsy and they fell off the first time I transported the model to the local store.
We have started a short five week league at Earth 383 Comics in Elizabeth City, and I had picked up some Farrow Brigands half price there this summer. They were the older MKI models, so I needed to eBay me some cards to have the correct rules. I decided to run the minions from the Thornfall Alliance since I had already grabbed some troop units. Carver, two Gun Boars, and a War Hog is my initial set-up for the first five weeks. The painting is coming along swimmingly. I almost have finished two units of Brigands, so I can run bigger force once we finish up this round of Battle Box tournament.
A few things I want to mention off the bat. I love Games Workshop. I always have enjoyed the games. Time and time kids at the game stores have told me- Warmachine is so much better. It is cheaper to get into. The rules make sense. There are all of these contentions that my beloved GW just is some horrible evil company around a certain crowd of people. It is like the dudes who were all like 'PATHFINDER RULES, D&D SUCKS!' I guess at heart, play what you like. I am not an employee of Games Workshop or Wizards of the Coast. I just don't see that just because you like a certain game better than something else is horrible. My older brother has been writing his own wargames forever and has been published a bunch as an illustrator and most recently writing credit for Donnybrook. I'd hate to see someone trashing his system, but the world is what it is.
My personal Hordes experience has gone like this:
Against a good friend of mine we laid out the table. Thornfall battle box versus Cygnar. He is completely inexperienced and had probably read even less than I had before starting the game. We had a bit of terrain on the field including a hill to my left as we deployed. I knew he had pretty good range with the Charger, so when he set up in the center of the field I set my troops up to my left to hide behind the hill. If I could make it there and scramble on top, he would have a penalty for shooting at me and I could ignore closer models and shoot small base models behind the big guys.
He swept forward at a full tilt to beat me to the top of the hill. Pretty good that all of his models were buffed and looking pretty scary on the hill, but he was really close to me now and didn't get off any shots because he ran them to take the high ground. I had read all this cool stuff about how awesome Lord Carver's feat was, so I was really excited about trying it. Bringer of Mass Destruction indeed. I charged a gun boar into the Ironclad after popping Carver's feat and was pretty impressed that I hurt the heavy Cygnar jack. I didn't waste a bunch of Fury with the Gun Boar because I knew my War Hog hits a lot harder. I popped Aggression Dial to increase my strength and wiped a quarter of my enemies force off the board with my big guy. I seriously did a pile of damage. I think my last Gun Boar fired off a shot, but my opponent was seriously disheartened by losing his big guy.
Next up was a last ditch effort, and I really don't know why he was so upset after I burned my feat so early. His Charger skipped down off the hill and had a clear shot at Carver. He didn't hit me, or rolled terrible on the damage dice or something- so after I wrecked his Lancer on my following turn he just threw in the hat.
My second game Day One (my buddy running Cygnar, just boxed his models and didn't play a second match) was against the Circle. We didn't play on the same table we had set up from the previous match. We moved into the front of the store where there is a 4ft x 4ft table near the register where the guy who was working could assist a little in running the game. This table had a hill in what the far left of the table, a forest in the center, and the right side had a building mid-field. My opponent was very clear that he didn't set up the terrain. I didn't understand exactly what he talking about at the time, but after the game started rolling I completely realized why the center forest was such a bad placement for a starter game.
He moved his models first. Kaya is this cool druid model. He had a Warpwolf and a pair of Argus. They scooted up the table heading directly for the forest. My placement had me a little to my left which was kitty corner across the table from where he set up. Had I known to avoid the forest entirely I would have been better off. Or even better since I can drop Pathfinder on my models, I could have rushed straight to it like he did. I was assuming he would need to leave the cover to come after me. What happened next I can only pass of to my inexperience.
The Warpwolf charged out of the forest. He slammed into one of my Gun Boars shoving him directly into my caster. Two for one isn't a bad attack at all. We did make a mistake in the rules because the slammed model should have moved the entire distance. We just inched him back after he contacted my warlock, so that was a mistake. The big guy was within Kaya's control area, so immediately after the charge he teleported back to the forest. The next turn I had no one within range and line of sight to shoot or charge. I attempted to heal my Gun Boar, but my opponent told me I could only heal my warlock (remember that it was only my second game, or we were using the front table so we could get some assistance from the clerk). I later discovered it is entirely possible to heal a warlock or warbeast using Fury.
The second Warpwolf charge was just as bad, except he didn't use the Slam power attack and dented up my other Gun Boar. I was busy casting spells and using Anami as I tried to come up with a plan. One of the Argus models was out of control range and looked to be circling my battle group. I did what anyone would do when things were going badly. I knew I wanted to close on them, so I could get into melee and advanced toward the forest. It just never seemed to get better after that. I was already damaged and with LoS being restricted to 3" inside the forest I couldn't use my ranged weapons. Kaya just ran away from me. She used her pets to take out my Gun Boars, and I had very little in terms of focus to keep my spells going after that. I just couldn't get the push I needed.
In hindsight, like I said moving into the forest wouldn't have been a terrible idea. I could have just stayed further than 12" away from the whole thing and they would have been forced to fight me on the open ground. If I moved away on turn 2, I could have at least healed up my injured Gun Boar if I had a better grasp on the rules. Instead I just stood there and took another strike which I couldn't retaliate against. Ah well, you live and you learn.
The weirdest thing for me- neither of these games were actually balanced. Which after all I have heard about this being a better system kind of annoys me. If this game does have some game balance it might come in later. They weren't particularly fun really. In the first match, I blasted through everything my buddy had. I was half expecting him to flip the table. In the second match, I just felt like there was nothing I could do. I've already been dreading facing off against a Khador rush, but hopefully that will happen this week. Sorsha gets within 12", pops her feat Immobilizing all of my models and running full on Focus just slips in and assassinates my caster. I have absolutely nothing to counter that. Her heavy jacks just act as blockers for this list, and with six focus she can kill every caster in the game.
You could argue that running three to six models isn't really the full Warmahordes experience. It is like running a small Warhammer game. If Player A fields a balanced list some infantry, archers, a wizard, and small unit of cavalry, but Player B runs 1000pts of heavy cavalry in one unit with Banner of the World Dragon with two Repeater bolt throwers, Player B is going to win. It is almost like I don't see how this game is supposed to be more balanced than a Kill Team game in 40k. You need to have enough stuff on the board to have some counters to what your opponent is doing. These games have been very informative thus far and for me that is really the point. If two player games are just about winning someone will always feel slighted. I have enjoyed painting and modeling everything up. I have brilliant plans for expanding my forces. I guess that smashes the it is cheaper argument entirely out of the box
The Farrow Brigands my six man troop units retail for $35. Each unit is 5pts. To field two warlocks I need to have 100pts. Even in a 50pt list I need to pick up quite a few more models and books to have enough things to play a standard game. The rules are scattered over each new release in Warmachine. You probably don't need to pick up everything, but I just got a copy of Mk II Primal and have plans to buy at least my Faction book - Minions. I am not exactly sure what is that book, but hopefully it will fill in some of the blanks. I like that each unit comes with a stat card. I have a solid start to my list now, and every game will get me closer to understanding some of the intricacies of the game. I guess I need to get back to painting. Still have to finish my second Brigand unit and Lord Carver himself.