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"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Things to know for those beginning WarmaHordes

A lot of the times when I start a new game I enter into in to it with certain preconceptions I have about games based on games I have played in the past. Usually these preconceptions will transform into actual knowledge of the game system. However a lot of times these result in pain and heartache (and Night Elf melee Hunters!) before you reach a point of comfort with a new game. Here are some basic things that one should know as they get into WarmaHordes so they can make educated decisions right from the start.

1) When deciding on a faction to start off with make sure that they fit your play style.

I started playing WarmaHordes with Cryx. I love undead. I would say that 90% or more of my movie collection involves either zombies, vampires, or some other miscellaneous undead-ish type monstrosity. If Ed Wood came back to life and decided to co-direct a remake of the Twilight series with Uwe Boll I would probably be the first person (maybe only person) in line to see it. I also happen to like shooting heavy armies. Which is a major problem as when was the last time someone was worried about being shot by a zombie? You could name a couple of Romero movies where a zombie used a gun, but that is the exception and not the rule. Generally the undead are the ones being shot at and not the other way around.

The exception!
Whats the point of all this? I started off with an army I loved thematically but I tried to fit the square peg into the round hole and found myself deeply dissatisfied. Cryx has the least amount of shooting out of the five main Warmachine armies. If you are torn between an army that you really like the fluff of and an army you really like the play style of you are better off choosing the latter unless you are absolutely willing to change your play style to better fit in with the former.

2) When building your first list try to include a fair mix of melee and shooting options.

With the exceptions of a few archetypes, WarmaHordes tends to favor a combined arms approach. Melee is quite high risk/high reward and is generally the most reliable way to take down heavy targets like jacks, beasts, and ridiculously hard to kill warcasters. Ranged is low risk/low reward and is generally the most reliable way of taking out infantry, support pieces, and squishy warcasters. However both types have ways that they can be shut down hard and some armies are even built around it. Ranged units are horribly prone to being tied up by incredibly fast units while there are plenty of setups where running your units into no man's land is pretty much certain death.

A unit of trenchers approximately one minute before
going over the top and assaulting a Cyclone warjack.
This in a way seems to contradict my first point to a degree at first glance, but even melee heavy armies like Cryx and Skorne still have ways of affecting the parts of the battlefield that remain out of cutting, biting, and slashing distance(often times through spell casting).

When you have a list that can both mix it up in close quarters and at long distance you are less likely to have bad matchups in both scenarios and opponents. When your melee and ranged units work together fluidly then you make it dangerous to stay away and even more dangerous to get up close.

3) Get ready for objective based games that force you to leave your zone of comfort.

For the first few weeks when people play WarmaHordes they tend to play the basic assassination type scenario where the only objective is to kill the enemy warcaster/warlock while learning the basic rules. Once you move past the beginning stage and start playing with more experienced people you will probably never see a straight assassination scenario ever again(with the exception of Killbox).

The Steamroller format is the template that most tournaments go by. Most scenarios have objectives you can hold to win and even the games where turtling on an objective is an acceptable strategy will at the very least have said objective outside of your deployment zone. There is no spend-six-turns-blowing-up-your-enemy-and-contest-the-other-objective-at-the-last-second strategy. It is entirely possible for someone to win a steamroller game before the bottom of the third round if his opponent is unwilling to fight for objectives.

This further emphasizes point two from above. If you are a pure shooting army then you will have trouble moving onto an objective. If you are a pure melee army then you will have trouble dealing with some contesting enemy units without leaving the objective.

4) There is such a thing as too many warjacks/not enough warbeasts.

There are exceptions to the above especially to the former. Some warcasters like Karchev and Amon have special abilities or spells that let them run way more warjacks then their focus would normally allow. However for most normal warcasters/warlocks the above rule generally applies.

Sometimes you want a 'jack caster and
sometimes you can just cut out the
For the first statement a general rule I follow is take the Focus score of your warcaster, subtract one for each upkeep spell you plan on upkeeping the whole game, divide this number by two and round down. This is the most number of warjacks I will generally take with that caster. Exceptions to this apply of course. Some warjacks are so focus efficient that they won't need much focus from their warcaster, if any, to perform their main role. Some factions have support pieces(Arcanists, Vassals, Arlan Strangeways) that allow warjacks to run more efficiently and allow the warjack to function without having to be supported by the warcaster himself. Some warcasters want to keep all their focus to themselves for either spell slinging, face beating, or some other purpose. Just remember that focus is shared between the warcaster and warjacks. You don't want to be constantly focus starved but at the same time you don't want to be sitting on a boatload of focus every turn because you don't have much to do with it.
Adeptis Rahn has eight focus and will personally
use every single one.
With warlocks and the fury mechanic you need to remember that a minimum number of beasts are usually necessary to keep your warlock from being fury starved. The fury mechanic is often harder to plan for. A low fury warlock with the aid of support solos can support quite a lot of beasts but will find themselves in a sticky situation if they have to function if those solos die. Assuming your warlock has no way of generating fury outside of beasts or cutting(such as Thagrosh), a reasonable number would be at least one beast for every two fury of the warlock. This not only allows you to maintain a steady supply of fury, but allows for you to lose a beast and still have a decent fury supply.

5) Find two warcasters/warlocks to practice and build experience with instead of just one.

The steamroller format allows for someone to bring two different lists from the same faction. This prevents people from just bringing the "most balanced" warcaster/warlock from their faction and mostly stops RPS matchups from occuring if someone brings two warcasters/warlocks that cover each other's weaknesses.

There are multiple ways to choose a second caster. If your favorite caster is offensively oriented then you might pick a second caster with movement or control shenanigans that are great for scenario games. If your favorite caster tends to do very well against most opponents except for a certain popular faction then you might pick a caster who is more suited for taking on that faction. For instance if you play Legion and really enjoy eLylyth but are having a hard time with incredibly durable melee oriented armies(Skorne, Karchev Khador, Menoth Jack Walls) you may pick Vayl for your secondary caster for her raw damage boosting capabilities or Saeryn for her round of granting immunity to melee to your battle group.

In conclusion I would say that the most important thing is to be open minded and enjoy yourself. Some things won't be readily apparent when you first get into WarmaHordes and, much like when starting 40k, expect to lose most of your first games unless you are learning it together with a relatively inexperienced group of people. Always have a policy of full disclosure before a game as it is no fun to win just because your opponent was blindsided by something they've never seen before. Finally, if something seems like complete and utter bullshit try to put it into context and look at it from your opponent's perspective even if it means swapping armies with him for a game or two.

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