|Go home, nobody loves you. Except Vetock.|
That's a question PP has been taking seriously to the betterment and detriment of WarmaHordes. While GW has made characters like Pedro Kantor, Farsight and now supplements to encourage players to play different styles of armies, the ability to play an army from three or more books leaves me a bit sour on armies having their own sense of identity. Not so with theme forces. They've got their own very distinct feels that make one caster feel radically different from another. Sometimes its' a list that shakes the earth of the competative metagame and sometimes it's "No, I won't buy your shitty Animantarax, PP. Stop trying to make me." So is the benefit of having these worth the unintended consequences that errors in designing these lists my bring?
Theme forces are deeply tied to the game structure that PP has made for Warmahordes. The best analogy I can come up with is to the governments of ancient Rome. In 40k, the headquarters are the equivalent of the Consuls, important leaders with more power than their peers, but essentially replaceable. In Warmahordes, the warcaster/warlock is the emperor in the Dominate, the absolute ruler, the center of every circle, without which there is anarchy and chaos. This difference means there can be Imperial Fists lists with no models in common (unlikely), but every pDoomshaper list will have pDoomshaper. The difference in structure leads to stronger characters being able to carry weaker ones in 40k. In WM/H, the only way to get a weaker caster to be carried is for you to be playing huge games (each point level has a dictated number of casters). Even with two or three lists available to your in tournaments, the casters who got the short end of the design or meta stick simply don't see play by competitive WM/H players.
|Cool theme, bad rules?|
Sure, why not?
So how does theme forces change the way casters work in the metagame? Generally by giving out rules or point reductions for meeting requirements. Initially, the only requirement is "Army uses only models/units that are among those listed above" with a list of beasts/jacks, units and solos that can be included in the army. Beyond that they generally move into "Army must include at least 2 [Unit]" or "Army must include at least 3 [solo]," with the occasional "Army must include [Character Solo]." These additional restrictions, "tiers," generally give you bonuses to the units you must include. When they don't they'll give you a bonus to some other unit that you aren't required to take. As you move onto higher tiers, you can get bonuses that sound awesome "Models begin the game affected by [Caster]'s upkeep spells and you don't have pay to upkeep them on round 1" to ones that sound bland "Your deployment zone is extended by 2 inches." If you're coming from a 40k perspective, 2" is nice, but negligible. In Steamroller games, PP's official annual tournament format, player 1 gets 7" of deployment off their back line and player 2 gets 10," so adding 2" is either a 20% or a 28% increase, and that's pretty nice.
|Rammus: Your sister's hotter|
Excepting Body and Soul, theme forces have pulled mediocre to bad casters back into the competitive discussion and put some good casters into the top tier of competitiveness. The theme force's power level is generally inversely correlated to the caster's power level. When they're positively correlated the turds get smellier and the gold shines brighter. So far there have been a lot more inverse correlation than positive correlation, but every positive correlation leaves a bad taste in my mouth. For the most part it feels like theme forces have been a positive force in WM/H, but when they're bad, they're really bad.