Warmahordes: Difficulty Getting Going.

Hey all, This is Dok from www.3forint.com and lately I have been trying to get more into warmahordes. You may have seen my article last week here on Frontline Gaming or my article on house of paincakes last week. I really want to relate this experience so that anyone who wants to get into this game has something to draw on when considering it.

I have been having a bit of difficulty though for various reasons. I thought I was doing ok, but my eyes were opened a bit last night when I was showing a buddy of mine how to play. He was getting incredibly frustrated with the terminology and the need to plan your turn before you move anything when he didn’t know what anything did! Granted it was his first game, but it was interesting to see his reaction as someone who has only played a handful of games.

I really want to like Warmahordes. I love the models, I am starting to love the fluff, and I like the mentality of tournament games. However, there are some things holding me back from fully getting into it.

The first thing I noticed when I was looking into Warmachine is that the starter boxes are kind of bad. They seem to have little to no synergy and make for a poor army out of the box. My buddy was playing the Cryx starter which comes with Skarre, a couple of little Bonejacks and a Helljack. For those that don’t know, this is your caster (or HQ), 3 guys that expand your spell range (and not much else), and one big beefy dreadnought. I personally bought all my models individually, so I didn’t fall into this trap, but it seems like PP is trying to set unaware players up for failure.

The list above has some good components for starting to build a Cryx list, but it is not necessarily a good list to pick up and play. The same can be said for the Legion box. Most of the guys included in the box wouldn’t even be able to hurt anything in the Cryx box! And if your big beasty (The carnivean) were to die, you would pretty much auto-lose. While these boxes are good if you have an overall force in mind, they don’t seem to help a new player who has no idea what they want to play.

The second thing I noticed is that these models are spendy!  The common wisdom around town is that you can get into warmahordes for cheaper than 40k. That’s not entirely true… With 40k, you have many options to get your models and most places offer them at a discount or bulk rate. Hell, you can even go to eBay and dig around for deals and pick something up for 20% of retail sometimes! (You know, like Frontline Gaming!! -ed)  It seems for the most part, all Warmahordes models are pretty much retail price, except at places like Frontline Gaming. The secondary market hasn’t really exceeded the demand, so the models all bid up to retail or higher depending on PPs stock levels. Now, this is cool if you are trying to get out of warmahordes or you are PP, but for the consumer this is a bit rough. I fully support FLGS and continue to buy stuff from it, but sometimes you need to cut costs or get that  model that they can’t seem to get in stock.

The third thing that I’ve noticed is that a lot of the guys around the store aren’t really interested in showing new people “the ropes.” Maybe it’s a bit of bias against 40k players? Maybe they are just too involved in earning their sweet badges? Maybe they just don’t want to play with people they don’t know? Any way you look at it, it has been tough for me to find a game. Like I mentioned above, my buddy bought a Cryx starter box and we threw down last night. I explained the rules to the best of my understanding, but I’m sure we made some mistakes.  He was also not very impressed by the complexity of the game. In his words “None of this stuff is the same!” There’s something to be said for commonalities in abilities and statlines.

Finally, I’m not saying one system is better than another or that you wouldn’t run into these problems when trying to get into any other game. But these things were shining bright as faults the other night and I wanted to get them off my chest. Am I just dreaming these things? Are they common to other stores? Do you remember running into these problems in your first games or warmahordes?

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26 Responses to “Warmahordes: Difficulty Getting Going.”

  1. Kriegsspiele June 29, 2012 1:14 am
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    I think it all depends on the other players of your local community: if they suck, you’ll have a bad start with any wargaming system. – BTW: I think the battle boxes are a nice way to start. Start like: getting into the game mechanics and have fun.

    • Reecius
      Reecius June 29, 2012 10:25 am
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      I like the Battle Boxes too, but I don’t know the game well enough yet to be able to say how competitive they are. Most of the people playing at our store are using the Battle Boxes as an entry point.

      • Dok June 29, 2012 4:07 pm
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        I just don’t think they offer enough of the game to fully cover the game mechanics. They either focus on jacks/beasts or infantry.

  2. Kalamadea June 29, 2012 4:26 am
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    Um, what? I’ve heard many complaints about the game over the years (a good amount of them legitimate), but most of these are nitpicks at best and flat out wrong at worst.

    Point 1: starters. Once you’ve played through a couple games with the starters (especially the ones you listed) and have the rules and abilities understood enough that you aren’t confusing it with other game systems and can think more about what you’re doing then you’ll realize how crazy that point sounds. Most of the starters are wonderful buys, and they’re very well balanced around fighting other starters. A pick-and-choose army vs a battlebox will have an edge, mostly because the game has morphed over the years from “use the stuff you have really well” into more of a “only take stuff that synergizes really well”, but even so for $50 you get a solid, playable force that forms a solid core to expand on. For most of the starters every piece you get in one is at-worse average and usually very good for your faction, ESPECIALLY when you recall the starters are limited to what came out in the Prime/Primal books (which is when the starters were made created). Cryx and Legion starters are both FAR from bad and I find it odd you would use those battleboxes to point out a seeming imbalance as they’re actually a VERY good match up against each other. They both have warcaster/warlocks that like to stay away till they go all-in for the kill, both have some nasty spells (including the same spell, parasite), they both have a single heavy hitter and 3 lesser beasts/jacks. Specifically, those shredders you say have no chance of hurting a Slayer will absolutely wreck it, with a little planning. Cast Parasite on the Slayer and then use rabid and each shredder will get 2 boosted attack rolls needing 10+ to hit on 3 dice at power 10 + 3 dice against a slayer that is now armor 14. These 2 starters are probably the hardest for a new player to learn with as they’re both glass cannon armies that rely heavily on nasty tricks which aren’t very obvious at first. After some games you realize they have a lot more that they can pull off than other faction starters. Trolls, Skorne, Menoth and Khador are all incredible out of the box and are generally much easier to start off with, but only because they are so much more straight forward. Of every starter out there, I only consider Circle Orboros to be bad (kaya is poor in melee, has terrible spells except for her 1 defining spell, and arguses are still arguably the worst light warbeasts in game). As basic intro forces, they do a fantastic job.

    Point 2: cost. You need to look around more. I can’t imagine you even looked around much at all to say that everything online is full retail. Ebay has most stuff, new in box, for anywhere from 20% to 40% off retail (watch out for shipping). Amazon and Newegg both have heavily discounted items and there’s always the Warstore at 20% off too. I don’t generally buy 2nd hand models, so I couldn’t argue how much those auctions go for, but I’ve gotten quite a bit of my stuff online for much cheaper than retail, and even if you paid full retail it costs much less for a full, tournament sized army than buying 40k at a discount. In mk1 you could make a tournament army for under $150. Now it’s more like $200~$250, but that’s still half what a tournament army for Warhammer Fantasy/40k would cost.

    Point 3: Players. This has nothing to do with the game at all, and everything to do with your local community. Every gaming community is different, my own local scene is the exact opposite of yours, but a big reason for that is because I worked very hard to make it the exact opposite of your experience (I worked at the shop since ’04 and ran all the leagues and tourneys for both 40k and warmachine, so I had more than a little clout to do that). The guys around here are extremely welcoming to new players and are very awesome about teaching new players because all of them started with 40k and slowly switched over. In ’06 there were 4 of us playing warmahordes on a tuesday, by ’09 we had 32 people playing in the league and most of the weekend open gaming was Warmahordes. That only happens with a lot of help from the community. But that said, even here I know people that will only play other certain people, and I know people that are flat-out jerks to anyone and everyone outside their very small circle of friends. There’s always people that are the percieved leaders of the pack and they can heavily influence the entire community around them, and if those percieved leaders are shunning a game or a type of player it can really shift everything for the worse no matter what game it is. Hell, the Magic the Gathering players at the same shop are more like what you describe to the point that I don’t even bother with them. It’s a very large and active group filled with very good players, but I would hardly call it welcoming and this is the same shop.

    Your initial point about being hard for a brand new player is quite valid, there is a LOT of front-end planning that needs to happen especially in WM. I find Hordes to be much easier for new players simply because Fury is all done throughout the turn and is much more flexible in general than Focus. On top of that it’s actually harder for a 40k player to learn Warmahordes than a new player because somebody used to GW games has to unlearn a lot of things. You also really need to know what every element on the table can do, much more so than Warhammer. It’s extremely easy to be blindsided by an ability that you never knew you needed to plan against and lose the game because of it. There’s a LOT of little things you always need to keep in mind when playing whereas 40k you can afford to sit back a bit more, chuck some dice and just let the turns play out. There’s something to be said for both systems.

    • Sean Ireland June 29, 2012 8:14 am
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      I too see a problem with the Starters. They are great, as you said, core foundations. They don’t represent the game as a whole though. Most games you have almost all troops with a few jacks. The starters are jacks only, players get trained to play in a different way then they eventual will. I think the two player battle box does a better job of showing new players how the game will work, you at least get a unit. I think PP should consider doing larger boxes, like the Battle forces that GW does.

      • Dok June 29, 2012 8:33 am
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        They seem to heavily lean towards one aspect. The legion box, for example could definitely use a medium beast or a unit of infantry in place of a couple of the shredders. That would provide a beginning player a more rounded view of the game imo.

      • Kalamadea June 29, 2012 4:06 pm
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        There’s a few reasons for not containing infantry, however. First, it keeps the game simpler, you just have a caster and jacks. No orders, no unit cohesion, no command checks. Second is cost, PP would almost certainly have to raise the cost of starters, and $50 is kind of a magic number in the gaming industry.

        Also, PP is a business and they make most of their money off selling those units. The starters are designed to hook you into the system, get you a basis to expand from, and then you buy a lot of options. It’s how PP makes their money. It’s also how shops make their money. You come in for a game, maybe you lose and you start looking at what else you could have used that would have been better in that fight. Maybe you only have $10 so you pick up that solo that would have totally owned that battle. Or you have $35 and you grab a warjack kit. Or you just got paid and you pick up a new unit or a battle engine. Some gamers plan out their entire army before they buy anything, but most buy on impulse, myself included and I know better!

        That’s the brilliance of the starters, they get people into the game, every piece is fairly effective even in a large army, and there’s always something new that you can add to them at most any price point. And that $10 solo? He’s is a fully effective element on the table the next time you play. I don’t think I could name ANYTHING in Warhammer that at $10 adds anything of value to an army. A single 50 point army will cost much less than a 2k point Warhammer army, but most veteran players who play at 50pts will have over 100pts in their collection, and often spend more on PP games than they would on a warhammer army. It’s a fantastic setup that works great for PP, for the shops, and for the gamers. You may not like the game as much for any number of reasons, but PP is GENIUS in how they’ve set up their game.

        Plus, there’s already the 2 player starters which are even better deals (so long as you want both factions or have a friend to split the cost with) that include infantry, so PP is slowly covering more bases with their starters. As a retailer, I’m not sure if I’d welcome the single faction starters going to $65/$70+ to include 5 heavy infantry and a mini rulebook. Again, $50 is a magic number for this kind of thing, easy on the wallet and easy to talk parents into, and people don’t feel as bad if they realize they don’t like the game.

        • Dok June 29, 2012 4:17 pm
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          I am not trying to change your mind from liking PP or it’s products. In fact I said I really want to like the game. The only reason I compared it to 40k is because that’s what I know. Is 40k the most expensive hobby out there? No, not by far. You can spend 10’s of thousands of dollars on gas powered remote planes. But I don’t fly those, so that’s not what I used in my example. In the grand scheme of things PP and 40k are fairly similarly priced. (Or they were until that last price hike…)
          But that’s the thing about 40k. Even though the land raider is now $80 retail, I can find one in my local flgs bits bin for $20 sometimes. Again, this is just an example. And it’s a boon on PP models as they don’t seem to lose their value like a porsche I just drove off the lot!

          • Kalamadea June 29, 2012 5:24 pm
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            There are indeed more expensive hobbies out there, but GW is the top dog and everything in the gaming industry tends to be measured against it. And for good reason: it’s the top dog. I’ve played and sold both games extensively and enjoy them both very much for very different reasons, but I completely disagree on the cost to get into each game, whether it’s a new player or a veteran switching systems. Initial cost is simply no comparison, warmachine is hands down cheaper to get into with a full-size army.

            Now, a complete army with enough options to play competitively is a different argument. By the time you buy all those options, yes you’ll have spent close to the same amount on both games. The key difference is that with WM you can play full, complete games in the meantime while you’re fleshing out your options and you can build as fast or as slowly as you can afford once you hit that easily reachable 35/50 point benchmark. To play Warhammer while you’re still building up your army, you have to talk people into playing smaller games.

            I’m not arguing whether one game plays better than the other, that’s pure opinion stuff, nor am I trying to convince you that WM is a more enjoyable game. But the business model that PP uses, the way they get new people in, is absolutely better. I’ve seen it first hand a hundred times over, all else being equal the way that you buy into warmachine is leaps and bounds ahead of how you buy into Warhammer, and that might be one reason you can find more deals on 2nd hand GW than 2nd hand PP. I think a bigger reaosn is simply GW is older and there’s more people getting into and out of it, so you see the deals more often.

    • Dok June 29, 2012 8:30 am
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      Hey, thanks for reading and for the long reply!
      1. You are right, once I play more I will most likely realize that it is easier to figure things out. But I’m not at that point yet and the point of view of “the beginner” is what I’m writing from.
      2. I was able to make my current 35 point list on frontline (with that nice 35 point discout!) for $160. That’s a list that I can play in pick up games and mess around with. However, for a tournament that requires multiple lists and that require 50 points, you are talking about at least doubling the cost. Especially at the ones that require three lists. So far I’ve spent about $300 and have three casters and 50 points with options. But I’m still not done! This is a bit less than you could make a 40k tournament army for, but not by much. The myth that this game is extremely cheaper than 40k is just that.
      3. Yes, you’re rifght, it doesn’t have anything to do with the game. It has to do with my experience of trying to play the game!

      Thanks for taking the time to respond though. I definitely find that it takes a lot more planning of your turn than 40k does. In 40k, you can leave units to potentially take multiple shots at a trouble unit. And then if you kill it faster than anticipated you can move to something else. Perhaps I need to try a shootier army?

      • Kalamadea June 29, 2012 4:59 pm
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        Yeah, it kind of got away from me, I can be long winded at times. Nothing like a 1,000 word response to a 800 word blog post 😛

        I prefer PP leagues to the tourneys just because of the whole 3 list thing, which is fairly new. It’s been 2 lists for a long while, and they could be the same list if you wanted, you simply had the option for a 2nd one since there can be bad matchups. I’m not at all keen on tourneys that require 3 seperate lists that don’t allow you to share warcasters or named jacks/solos and I tend to avoid those tournaments. My point is that the initial expenditure is much, much lower for a new player than Warhammer, and it absolutely is. I’ve written a few other responses saying why that’s not entirely accurate, but getting that first army up to 35 or 50 points and playing full games is considerably cheaper than GW games, and then you can expand your options at whatever pace you can afford.

  3. D-ManA June 29, 2012 6:22 am
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    I understand where you are coming from. I have to travel over 40 miles to even play warmachine and the player base is small. I have played it a couple of times and decided it was not for me. I liked the complexity and some of the models are great, but I did not care for the if the warcaster dies then game over. So the combination of traveling, one win condition, and only being a few players making it hard to set a game up, has made me thow in the towel. I will stick with 40K as my primary game and Dust Warfare as my secondary. Sorry warmachine I gave you try :o(

    • Dok June 29, 2012 8:34 am
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      I’m gonna keep at it until it proves more difficult to get a game than it’s worth. I think i will be in for a culture shock once I start playing in timed games, haha

  4. Sean Ireland June 29, 2012 8:12 am
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    What I have found expensive about the game is that I am enjoying trying new units out I tend to just pick up a unit, paint and it, and try it out. Unlike 40k, I have a huge collection of models that I don’t use. I usually play 35 point games and I have about 100 points of Khador, unlike 40k where I tend to get an 1850 and that’s what I collect. Some of that could be inexperience, as I am pretty new to PP (only the last 3 months have I been serious about it).

    • Dok June 29, 2012 8:36 am
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      That’s true as well. If you find a unit you liked doesn’t really work with a particular caster, you can still use it with a different one. And if you want to play in a tournament, you will need that 100 points! Unless you have units that synergize with multiple casters. But how do you figure that out? By buying it and playing it, haha

  5. Adrik June 29, 2012 8:12 am
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    I have to agree with Kalamadea.

    Battleboxes: The Cryx and Legion battleboxes are some of the better intro sets for their respective games. As Kala said, they require a bit of planning. However, I know from experience just how nasty that Cryx box can. Those bonejacks that you said can’t do much else beyond extend spell range? I managed to kill a Khadoran heavy with just one. This was done, however, with Denny1’s debuffs and feat.

    You’ll learn that Warmachine/Hordes are games that require synergies and forethought to win. It’s not like 40k where the best tactic is to throw as many dice as possble.

    Everything else is exactly as Kala said.

    • Dok June 29, 2012 4:18 pm
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      That’s exactly what I’m trying to do! Learn! Gimme that knowledge!

      • Kalamadea June 29, 2012 5:32 pm
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        Gotta learn by doing, sometimes 🙂 There’s a lot of resources for WM, their official forums are usually pretty decent and there are sites like Battle College that will give you great overviews on how to use the different units, but a lot of it is simply practice practice practice. It’s the age old difference of knowledge vs experience. Gotta know when and how to put that knowledge into practice, and there’s simply no substitute for making mistakes and learning the hard way

  6. Blood Lord Soldado June 29, 2012 8:31 am
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    What I have found expensive are the Troopers.

    I guess I am spoiled by how relatively inexpensive a Box of Space Marines is compared to a full box unit of troopers.

    1 Tactical Squad is $37.25. Very poseable, detailed, plastic models that form a solid unit.

    (I play farrow so bare with me)
    Box of Farrow Brigands $34.99 + 2 Boxes at $11.99 for a full unit, which I feel is a reasonable way to compare these costs.

    The difference is, there are no transports in Warma-Hordes, but there are Battle Engines / Colossals so I think these may offset the costs.

    There is the argument that you need less stuff to play, but coming from a perspective of having only a few units to chose from because of my faction, having less stuff isn’t better.

    • Kalamadea June 29, 2012 4:12 pm
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      There’s a difference between needing less stuff to play and not having any options with what you can use. Retribution also suffers a lot from that, and Hordes was much weaker than WM until about the 3rd book, simply because they didn’t always have enough things to choose from to deal with every WM army. It’s actually my biggest point of contention with WM, there are simply bad matchups and you need to take something else. A Hard-Counter is a term that should never apply to miniature wargaming, but it does and I hate it and if you don’t even have the option of using something else it becomes that much worse.

  7. disdainful June 29, 2012 9:02 am
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    You have the best possible resource available to play this game: your LGS. Our store is probably the best in the area for WM/H; we had 25 people in here last night, and I know everyone who was in there and the one guy who might have ducked a game with a newb wasn’t in attendance. Did you ask anyone to play? Did you ask me to help you find a game?

    The specific points have already been addressed fully and effectively so there’s no need for me to weigh in there. The end of line here is that if you’re having trouble getting going, it’s on you. I’ve watched guys go from zero, never-even-touched-a-miniature-before to contending for places in a tournament in a couple months around here, and all those resources are available to you as well.

    Christ, I’ve even said, multiple times, that I’ll train you on this game Mr. Miyagi style, crane kick and all!

    So what’ll it be, Daniel-San?

    • Dok June 29, 2012 4:24 pm
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      Hey, no ill-will is meant against you or the store Dis! For fuck sake, I practically live at that place, haha. Maybe it’s just the time I get there, but everyone has been engaged in game time every time I’ve been there for warmahordes night or been too tired to throw down. Maybe I need to advertise free league wins or something? But the only people that seem to want to play me are Gint and Santino!

      I will gladly take you up on your offer bro. Teach me how to sweep the leg.

  8. Dave June 29, 2012 10:51 am
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    The training thing is my job as a Press Gang member but I can’t really afford to make it out that much. I’m glad to see people making an effort in the area though. I have not had an easy time getting the community over here at Battle Bunker going either. It seems only the veterans have been taking to it like water.

    The only better value out there than shopping at Front Line, that I have seen recently, is PP’s own summer sale they have on their site. It gives a player a little of everything you would need to learn from warcasters to troopers and comes with some play aids, like a book. It is a pretty steep discount but some of the sets were popular enough that they went out of stock.

    Up here we see a little bit of truth about all the points in these two blocks. Those who want to teach aren’t always around and that can make it hard on a growing community but we are glad it does or games would never get off the ground. This makes finding games hard some times. While starting isn’t exactly the cheapest of any hobby, in the long run you can form a competitive list for about the same. I’m trying to stay on the stores good side by sucking up to the price values while promoting my own group too.

    Usually the price difference is a lot less. Someone had formed a studdy and found that on average people had less invested in competitive tournament lists for this system than for the average 40k list.

    • Dok June 29, 2012 4:28 pm
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      Thanks for the info Dave.

  9. disdainful June 29, 2012 11:05 am
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    Based on actual cash-register ring-ups (at retail, and not accounting for GW’s most recent price increase), assuming a player is starting at zero for a game and is buying models, rules, accessories, etc, but has hobby supplies:

    Warmachine / Hordes clocked in at an average of around $350 for a full 50-point list with some options.

    40k was around $600 for a 2k list and some options.

    WHFB was close to $1000 for a 2250 list and some options.

    Startup costs are the least for WM/H. Long-haul, you’re probably going to end up spending more on PP, honestly, since the ease of getting multiple factions means most players will have a lot more armies for WM/H, like three or four, while they might only have one primary faction in 40k or WHFB and a smaller dabble or two.

    All of which is generalizations of course, but it’s pretty well supported by data from the store and community.

    • Kalamadea June 29, 2012 4:32 pm
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      Yes, it’s a MUCH cheaper game, but that’s kind of deceptive. It’s very easy to pick up pieces and not realize just how much you’re spending on the game, even if you stick to a single faction. It’s pretty inexpensive to build up to that first 35 or 50 point total, and then it’s just $10 for a new solo or warcaster. Y’know, just to mix it up a little. And it’s only $20 for that new light warjack or $35 for that new heavy, y’know what? I’m getting paid friday so why not splurge on that $50 unit I’ve been eyeballing for a while now. Every blister pack and box set you buy is an effective gaming element and each piece changes how your army plays just a bit.

      Pretty soon you have 100+ points even though you only ever play 35 point games, and you’ve spent a lot more than you ever would have on a Warhammer army. It’s an amazingly effective business model and it can REALLY sneak up on you, it’s usually weeks or months in a quiet moment at home or after a battle when you’re shifting foam trays around that you start adding things up in your head and realize just how much money you’ve spent. With GW, you’re usually very aware as you’re building the army, but once you have it you have it and you usually use all of it. PP is all about adding to what you have, even though you never use it all at once.