With the release of the MkII Field Test for Hordes I’ve been looking forward to getting some games in. I’m not a particularly good Hordes player, but I wanted to see how the Legion had fared with the rules changes. I should probably qualify what ‘not particularly good’ means. Around Dublin, and in Ireland generally, there is a very active Warhammer Fantasy Battle scene and the game is played to a pretty competitive level. When it comes to Warmachine and Hordes we tend to be a little more relaxed – we don’t try to build the horrible lists or do gamesmanship things like declaring a charge or trample you know you cannot make in order to gain an extra 3″ of movement. In other words, we don’t try to pull off the weird little tricks that are possible in the rules, but that seem unlikely to occur in ‘real life’. We have a pretty soft meta around here. The reason I’m mentioning this is that you rarely saw a conga line of Idrians or Drakhuns flying through the air, so some of the changes in MkII, for example the new formation rules, have practically no impact on the way Warmachine/Hordes is played around here.

Anyway, during the week Harry, a Skorne player, and I fought a 35pt game using the new rules. I had Thagrosh leading my force with a healthy balance of beasts, units and solos. I wanted to try out a bit of everything. Here’s my list (which I wrote up on Forward Kommander as it now supports Hordes) –

  • Thagrosh, Prophet of Everblight
  • Nephilim Soldier
  • Carnivean
  • Shredder
  • Shredder
  • Blighted Nyss Archers (Leader and 5 Grunts)
  • Blighted Nyss Legionnaires (Leader and 5 Grunts)
  • Blighted Ogrun Warmongers (Leader and 4 Grunts)
  • Blighted Nyss Shepherd
  • The Forsaken

That’s exactly 35pts (when you factor in Thagrosh’s +5 Warbeast points). I’d have to be careful to keep my non-fearless troops away from the abominations in the army, but other than that it’s pretty straight forward. Thagrosh, the Carnivean and the Warmongers can hit pretty hard. The Legionnaires are a great defensive unit and the Archers are decent at taking out lightly armoured troops or combining ranged attacks to threaten moderately armoured enemies. The Nephilim is a decent counter punching beast and the Shredders make good transfer targets with a useful animus.

Harry’s force (which I wrote up in iBodger and emailed to myself) comprised of –

  • Tyrant Xerxis
  • Cyclops Brute
  • Rhinodon
  • Titan Gladiator
  • Agonizer
  • 4 Cataphract Arcuarii
  • 6 Paingiver Beast Handlers
  • 6 Praetorian Swordsmen

I’m not very familiar with Skorne having only fought them once before, but Xerxis seems like a solid beat stick as are the heavy beasts. I really wasn’t familiar with this army (I even forgot to ask Harry what Xerxis’ feat was until he was about to do it!), but there’s nothing like learning what a unit does by plying against them!

I’m going to write the report in my terrible narrative style again, but I’ll comment on the MkII changes at the end.

Several days ago Thagrosh had send a scouting party of Striders ahead of his force to kill all of the inhabitants of a small mining settlement. His army needed to rest and recuperate after the long march south and the supplies, and fresh meat from the slain miners, should sustain his force for a couple of days. As they approached the miners’ huts the Striders seemed to have done an efficient job as there was not a living person in sight. Thagrosh had been distracted for the last few hours. Everblight’s ever active mind was revealing an intricate plan that sucked him deep into the Dragon’s vision and away from what was going on around him. The real world was a dream through his eyes. Even in this trance like state one unsettling thought began to surface, why had the Striders not reported back to him.

Pain pulled him from Everblight’s mind into his surroundings before he fully registered the significance of the missing Striders. He felt the Carnivean howl as brutal blows smashed the life from it at the edge of Thagrosh’s senses. He tried to see through it’s eyeless vision, but it was too late. Something had destroyed the creature. Thagrosh focused all his will to draw it’s energies back to him. He was at the fore of his army and he could not afford the time it would take to bring another beast from the rear. They had been ambushed.

Black and gold armoured troops appeared on his right. He recognised them as the Skorne, desert dwellers from the East. Maybe they were drawn to this settlement for supplies too and the presence of the Striders had alerted them to his approach. It did not matter. He needed to react quickly. He ordered the Warmongers and Archers forward on the left, hoping to outflank his unseen opponent. The Legionnaires were hopelessly outnumbered on the right, but he ordered them to hold to the last Nyss. He forced the Nephilim Soldier forward and through it’s sight saw the Skorne Titan that had destroyed the Carnivean.

Seeing it made his outflanking plan seem foolish. This Titan could rampage through his moving troops without rapid intervention. He moved forward and called the Warmongers back to take on this beast. The charge from the Warmongers was brutal tearing chunks from the Titan, but still it stood defiant and struck two of the blighted down. To make matters worse a lumbering Rhinodon appeared between the houses. Thagrosh forced the Nephilim forward to finish the Titan which it did with a grace against which the Skorne beast could not defend.

Thagrosh was aware of the Archers shooting at something on the left, but neither he nor his beasts could see at what. On the right the Legionnaires were faring poorly. They had taken down a couple of the large armoured Skorne, but their numbers were dwindling quickly and another unit of the enemy was closing in.

That was the least of his problems, the Rhinodon was now hurtling towards the Warmongers and Nephilim. With a swipe of it’s tail it dropped two more Warmongers, but failed to hit the Nephilim. Thagrosh urged the Nephilim to the right to block the units of Skorne and hoped that the spiked Skorne beast would not strike it down. The gamble paid off and the Nephilim swooped to engaged the enemy troops.

Now was the moment for him to join the fight. He barrelled towards the Skorne beast and swung with all his might. His repeated blows struck home, but it’s impressive armour prevented him from taking it down. In the distance Thagrosh could see the Skorne warlock approach with his maces held ready for combat. Now he needed the Carnivean back in action. Using Everblight’s gift he brought the destroyed beast back by his side.

The enemy warlock urged his force to inflict brutal damage and charged in damaging the Carnivean, but failed to destroy it. The spiked beast attempted to break it too, but was having difficulty hitting the Legion creation. On his right the Nephilim Soldier miraculously held and blocked the advancing Skorne troopers. This was his opportunity. He forced the Carnivean to make room for him to engage, but in it’s fury it started to strike the Skorne warlock. Between it’s vicious jaws and powerful claws the Carnivean, which was the first victim of this encounter, finished it. The Skorne warlock had been felled by it’s anger. The settlement and supplies were Legions to exploit.

So, that is MkII then (well, at least the Field Test). Unsurprisingly it plays much the same. I forgot Vengeance on the Legionnaires twice during the battle, so there is more to be considered during the Maintenance Phase. I also forgot about Abomination early in the battle, resulting in the Archers not taking a Command check when the Warmongers strayed close to them. Neither of these were game changing. Harry got pretty unlucky at the end. He should have wiped the Carnivean out a second time, but then again my damage roles on the Rhinodon were terrible! He also should have taken out the Nephilim soldier, but again his dice abandoned him. When the Carnivean struck down Xerxis he was had four fury for transfers, but Harry had run too hot in his turn and both of his beasts were fully loaded. That said, Thagrosh was sitting on full fury and could probably have finished him too. It was an excellent game, but without any beasts frenzying (there was only one Threshold check in the whole game, and it was successful) or the need to Shake Effect we didn’t get to test out most of the newer aspects of Hordes MkII.