I’m going to rant for a little so feel free to skip all of the next paragraph if you don’t know or care what I’m talking about.
Its been a long time since I talked about wargames that were non-Games Workshop-related. Actually I don’t think I’ve ever talked about them, but I play Privateerpress’ Warmachine and Hordes as well. They’re companion games to one another and run on fundamentally different systems, one focusing on the inexhaustible power of the self while the other concentrates more on the symbiotic relationship between man and beast. I prefer Hordes as a system, because of the way that I envision the game being played. Theoretically, a balanced army in either game system is going to be composed of a mixture of Warjacks (or warbeasts), infantry, and solos with the Warcaster (or Warlock) tying the army together and defining the purpose of each unit within the grand scheme of things. Often, though, what happens is that the balance of Warmachine shifts in favour of one or the other and people will often end up using overwhelming amounts of one type of unit over the other. Infantry are the biggest example in recent years, they have numerous benefits over warjacks; they can be fielded in overwhelming amounts and will often do as much, if not more damage than the ‘jacks themselves while simultaneously being harder to hit and being more likely to hit the enemy. As a result of this, it was not uncommon to see warjacks omitted from armies entirely, thus freeing up precious focus to turn the warcasters into one-man armies. I personally hate this style of play and see it as an example of Page 5 taken to its logical extreme, which it should not be. However, at the same time, I recognise that this is the way tournaments are conducted so I’m not going to grumble about it, and limit myself to playing amongst people who agree with me. I like to win, but not if I didn’t feel that my opponent had an equal chance of doing so.
In this respect, Hordes feels like a much better designed game. The symbiotic relationship between Warlocks and Warbeasts means that you cannot simply flood your opponent with infantry and that beasts also have a place in lists. In the same way, Warlocks do not become overwhelmingly powerful or impossible to kill as the game goes on and their focus is freed up to cast spells. Anyway, this is where the rant stops. I could talk at length about why I prefer Hordes to Warmachine but they’re both good games and at the heart of the matter they are both good fun as long as you play with a group of people who share your ethos, whether it’s casual or competitive.
I recently got my hands on the epic version of Lylyth, apart from having a lovely model I think the way I would use her is different. She’s definitely changed for the better I think, and there is more I can do with her than I could before, where she would simply stand behind my battle line and take pot-shots at important targets. She definitely supports and unifies the army more in her epic incarnation; although the Blood Lure and Witch Mark rules are gone from her bow, her special Arcane Archer rule more than makes up for their loss, coupled with Pin Cushion and Snare to target anything she likes and Shadow Pack to give her beasts and infantry free run of the battlefield. The Elite Cadre was something everyone on the internet expected, and Privateerpress has not disappointed, the addition of boosted stats and the Hunter rule to Striders is a boon that will perhaps make them worth using now (common complaints before were “costs too much for what they do”), combined with the addition of the Strider Deathstalker in Metamorphosis. It’s a book I definitely have to pick up when it comes out, and the new models look beautiful.
Really looking forward to the release in 2009!