Tuesday, May 8, 2012

8th Edition Rule Change Redux - The Horde Formation

One of the new rules from 8th that got a lot of attention when it was first released was the "Horde Formation". This gave you the opportunity to get a second rank of supporting attacks. This meant you were rewarded from going wide by getting a bazillion attacks. I saw it initially used but then it fell out of favour as people focused on depth to break Steadfast.

Lately though it has made a comeback, particularly where your front rankers have a high A characteristic. So we see it on Savage Orcs and Ghouls where going 10 wide can result in an awful lot of attacks. For instance a unit of 40 Ghouls 10 wide can generate 29 attacks against a Clanrat unit.

But the real value in Horde is when you have the synergy of Buffs to improve your troops. Anything that gives you ASF, high initiative, increases WS (e.g. Light Magic), or the ability to transfer WS (e.g. Tomb Prince), or re-rolls (Vampire Lore) or Poison - increases the effectiveness of your points investment.

So we are starting to see the Horde Formation used as a force multiplier.

Now the biggest bane of the Horde, are template weapons. Because you need to be at least 30 models you have a huge footprint. With that footprint comes risk - no more than going deep - but the size of the unit attracts much template interest. Similarly any spells that affect "per model" are very dangerous for the Horde particularly if they hit before it has managed to get into combat.

Overall I think the Horde Formation is a great addition to the game. It is certainly not overpowering, as it has downsides as well as benefits.
Rule Change: B


  1. I like the Horde formation and the notion of wider units. My only problem with it isn't with the horde formation itself, but the way that Warhammer still stresses depth over width, hordes notwithstanding.

    I would prefer it if the combat system favoured wide units over deep ones. To do this, the CR bonus for ranks and Steadfast would need to be amended to take the focus off depth. Bringing back the Unit Strength mechanic would allow Steadfast and CR to be calculated from US rather than ranks. Lapping round is something that should be revisited as well, as troops wouldn't stand there scratching themselves, ignoring the enemy flank, just because they have a wider frontage.

    I think this will be better from an aesthetic viewpoint as well as a realism one. Yes, it's an imaginary game with ratmen, dragons and wizards, but it still needs to have its own internal logic. And we know that units of troops with spears and axes fight better in wide lines, not buses. I don't like the 10 deep buses you see these days as it breaks my sense of disbelief; it's not how it would look on a 'real' battlefield, so why do it that way.

    Anyway, failure to do this has the effect of making the Horde only really useful for cheap-mid point troops with high-strength attacks or easy access to buffs (like frenzied, Mindrazored Corsairs). The troops who are meant to be horde, cheap infantry, can't, as it's not worth the extra casualties and loss of Steadfast just for 10 more S3 attacks.

    I do realise that wider units aren't as maneouvreable as narrow ones in many cases. I accept that, and think it's a small price to pay for something that would look like a period wargame (complete with wizards) rather than a demolition derby for buses.

    So I'd give it a B-. Not bad, could do better, but will take a more fundamental change to the rules.

  2. It is rare that I write lists/use armies that dont take advantage of the horde rule. I love that it means I can kill more stuff...steadfast be damned!

    My only issue with hordes is the potential abuse regarding combat reform once wiped out opponent. However this is not an issue with hordes.

    I agree with Tane that there should be better defensive bonuses for horde formation - the Saxons had their shield "walls" not shield "deep formations", Hopilite phalanxes were a wide formation etc - but I do see that there needs to be a level of abstraction somewhere and a reason to move your units around.

    B+ for me as they did increase the fun and reduced the need to play 40k for my "need to roll 40 dice at something" fix.

  3. Maybe the "Shield wall" defensive bonus is something that Dwarfs will get in their new book? Would be a reasonable addition.

    I like Hordes just need more models to do it right. But they are not always useful given that they either (a) result in 3 files not getting into combat against 5-7 wide opponents and (b) charges by them nearly always result in charges against multiple enemy units, not ideal.

    Mind you horde vs. Horde combat is always fun and a dice rolling highlight of most games that I look forward to.

  4. To be honest, I really only use horde formation to stop other blocks from getting in to my flank during another combat (combat reform), I used that tactic about a million times last weekend and it seemed to work quiet well. But sometimes I use it to get more attacks(such as my Hammerers), if it kills more mice, that's fine with me! :D

  5. Shieldwall to make Dwarfs even more defensive....Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!

  6. I would like to see more options available for unit formations. One that come to mind is the cavalry "square" for defense vs cav.
    As for hoard, cant remember the last time I didnt use it. With no benifit of steadfast and little care about casualties and breaking, go wide or go home for the Tomb Guard