Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Out of Our Element: Starter Sets

In this installment of OoOE, I'll take a look at the two starter sets for WM/H, one for Warmachine, one for Hordes.  This dips into four different factions and two different rules sets, each with an iconic casters and a list that can touch on many different aspects of the rules sets and relative power levels of the different models.  Some of these things won't be immediately obvious to new players, but some will.  Let me say that as I've been trying to get my feet under me, I've learned some of the models I thought were utter ass at first look are actually some of the most useful.  So I'll be doing a brief overview of all four boxes and then talking about the models in relationship to each other.

Warmachine Starter

Complete Prime MkII rulebook (travel-sized booklet, 86 p.), introductory guide, dice, ruler, 17 models with stat cards.  Khador pSorcha, Juggernaut and Destroyer heavy warjacks, 5 Man-O-War Shocktroopers.  Menoth: pKreoss, Crusader and Vanquisher heavy warjacks, Repenter light warjack, 5 Exemplar Cinerators.

Let's start with Warmachine, the older of the two systems.  In the box you'll find an 86 page mini-rulebook, a basic intro guide, dice, rulers, models and the stat cards for each model you get.  This means you don't need to buy the books to have any rules relevant to your models.  The two factions in the box are Khador (Mother Russia) and the Protectorate of Menoth (the Black Templar of the universe) and each is bringing the same caster you would get if you bought the faction-specific starter box, but not the same models otherwise.  The casters are High Exemplar Kreoss (pKreoss) and Kommander Sorcha Kratikoff (pSorcha).  Kreoss brings two heavy jacks, a light jack and some heavy infantry; Sorcha likewise brings two heavies and some heavy infantry.

Internally, we have two casters with nearly identical feats: Kreoss knocks down every enemy in his control area (CA) while Sorcha makes every enemy in her CA and line of sight without Immunity:cold become stationary for one round.  Models that are knocked down or stationary are always hit in melee, are never able to make attacks of opportunity, and are basically always hit in melee.  The difference is that knocked down models have to forfeit either their movement or action during its next activation while a stationary model must forfeit their entire activation.  Both of these caster have feats that make it so you can make your opponents easier to hit and either kill the opposing caster or gain a significant attrition advantage.  Out of the box they'll look very similar, but as I'm becoming more aware of how Privateer Pres designs their game it looks like there aren't any casters whose feats, spell lists or even battlefield roles are identical.  It's refreshing, but means sometimes there are just really bad caster and/or feats.  While having bad things isn't as good as having good things, it does help you determine what makes a unit good or bad.

Hordes Starter
Complete Primal  MkII rulebook ( 88 p.), introductory guide, dice, ruler and 20 models with stat cards. Circle Orboros: pKaya, Feral Warpwolf heavy warbeast, Argus and Winter Argus light warbeasts, 5 Warpborn Skinwalkers.  Legion of Everblight:  pLylyth, Carnivean Heavy warbeast, 4 Shredder lesser warbeast (distinguish light from lesser), 5 Blighted Ogrun Warspears.

The Hordes starter box is a bit harder for me to evaluate as my meta is WM heavy and I've not faced either of these factions, let alone these casters yet.  This one contains a travel sized copy of Primal  MkII rulebook (because flavor),  introductory guide, dice, ruler and 20 models with stat cards.  Our two factions here are Circle Oroboros (Pissed off tree huggers) and Legion of Everblight (Lovecraftian mutants), again with the same caster you get in the battle box.  The Circle Oroboros force is Kaya Wildborne (pKaya), a  heavy warbeast, two light warbeasts, and five havy infantry.  Legion brings Lylyth, Heral of Everbligh (pLylyth), a heavy warbeast, 4 lesser warbeasts and five heavy infantry.  

First thing we see is that legion doesn't have light warbeasts in it's box but has lessers, so what's the difference?  Essentially lessers are smaller and can't make power attacks while lights can.  Power attacks can win games, so not having those is a downside, but these little guys have a personal spell they give their caster that makes its target both harder to hit and damage.  In Hordes your beasts have spells your caster can use as long as the beast is alive and has one of its three aspects has a hit point in it.  The legion box does a great job of illustrating how useful models that don't deal much damage can be in this game.  

Again, the feats of these two casters are very powerful, but in different ways.  Lylyth's feat is very simple and powerful: ranged attacks in her CA roll an extra die to hit for a turn.  In the box, it's not great because there aren't many ranged attacks, but she can be built into a terrifyingly accurate ranged army.  Kaya's feat allows her to put up to three fury on each of her beasts and then leach up to her maximum fury.  This can turn her into an effective fury 12 caster for a turn (most casters are fury/focus 5-7).  Or she can activate her warbeasts first, pump them up to full fury buying attacks and boosting, spend all her fury, then leach the excess of her beasts and then spend more, leaving some to leach next turn.

Lylyth and both warmachine casters want to activate and feat before their army activates, but Kaya is a good last activation feat caster also.  Each army has ranged and melee units, multi-wound infantry models, casters whose weapons have critical effects.  The models in the boxes allow new players to explore and familiarize themselves with lots of different aspects of the rules.  I wish I could say I've had the chance to play with either of these boxes, because they look like a lot of fun.  There isn't a bad caster in the lot and there are a lot of options for cross-system play.  If any of you have played these, let me know what you thought of them in the comments.


  1. As a Legion and Warmahordes player of about 8 months now, I will say that pLylyth is a fun caster that can benefit almost any Legion force she is brought with. She is not as obviously powerful a Saeryn or either Vayle, but playing her aggressive early game can help you gain an early attrition lead. She can help hit high def. models with the feat, reduce arm. on tanky models/units with parasite, removes swathes of infantry with eruption of spines, and has the longest non-arcnode spell threat ranges with witchmark. I do want to point out that her feat benefits all friendly faction attack rolls. In the battlebox, this means the carnivean hits def 16 models on average and rabid shredders are neigh guaranteed to hit anything they attack save for the heighest def models, and even then at a ~50% chance. Non-battlegroup models also benefit from the feat.
    Both Circle and Legion gain the most benefit from terrain and like hit and run tactics, but in different ways. Circle likes to create terrain to slow their opponent down and hit key targets before running away. Legion, for the most part, doesn't suffer the penalties for moving through terrain and ignores the benefits their opponents gain from it. They also like to hit you first and run you over before you have a chance to kill them back.

  2. From what I've seen, you've got a much better break down of the Hordes factions than I did. Part of the difficulty is I've been playing for about 2 months with Skorne and the majority of the games I've played have been against Menoth, Retribution, and CoC. I've probably undervalued Lylyth's feat because, the highest defense of models I've got, besides pMorghul and his gobbers, is 13, so most people hit me easily enough. I've been trying to get in more games against a wider field, but my playgroup is heavy WM.