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Hordes - a conceptional approach


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#1 TechVoid

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Posted 17 August 2012 - 09:36 AM

Hi fellows,

just another thread about hordes.

After a while I am just asking myself what the concept of hordes should be?

At first, from my humble understanding, the Deathwatch is an Astartes elite unit. Thus if the Astartes are the spea rtip, then the Deathwatch is the spear tip of the speartip. This leads me to the assumption: If the Deathwatch faces some huge number of lesser opponents, something went totally wrong.

Furthermore, hordes are supposed to be lesser opponents, meaning their only purpose is to distract or slow down the squad. They pose no threat to the space marines despite scratching their power armour which the have to paint again.

Which leads me to the mechanical question: Why should a lot of lesser opponents be able to really wound the space marines if they simply put together their effort. If a single weapon cannot harm the players, why a dozen of them? 100 x 0 is still 0. And to my surprise, such a horde of simple heretics does a lot of damage. Plus 2d10 extra damage? Insane!

And now I shall consider to simply build up a horde of Chaos Marines? A single or even two Chaos marines are equivalent to the players and will be able to put the space marine down in a single round. A 'horde' of them, or what you would call them, means just death and total party kill. But wait! While they are put together as a horde, the Devastator Marine can kill them more easily with his special abilites. Thus while chaos marines as single enemies are a threat they are very easy to overcome as a horde - thus why should I feel now heroic?

Isn't there a better idea how to think about hordes? And thus how to build a rule system around them? Deathwatch has so many detailed states like stunned and pinned and grabbled. Can't a horde just work with that? Maybe a horde of opponents does some damage but their threat is based on 'other factors'.

Has someone thought about such a different approch?

Cheers,

TechVoid.



#2 Nathiel

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Posted 17 August 2012 - 05:54 PM

One thing I think is that only 'troop' level enemies should ever be in hordes. this solves a lot of problems. No hordes of CSM who should be independantly challenging.  A squad of independant CSMs and hordes of cultists/heretic militia/mutants/whatever to get in the way and make life difficult for you. Just say NO to hordes of Carnifex(i…es? what is the multiple of Carnifex? you shouldn't fight them in multiples that's why we don't know!)

But to your main question. Remember the size gives you a bonus on things like grappling. I might just give them this for anything else like it.



#3 bogi_khaosa

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Posted 18 August 2012 - 07:41 AM

Magnitude 60 Horde of Bloodthirsters FTW.



#4 AlphariusOmegon7

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Posted 18 August 2012 - 08:36 AM

 Well, because what the horde attack rules represent is luck.  If you're hitting a guy in superheavy armour once then you're less likely to do damage than if you hit him two hundred times in different places.  It's about that one incredible shot in a thousand that's at just the right angle to slide between the armour plates, that blow that just slips past the marine's guard - because there's so many.  That's all it represents.  Or at least, that's all I use it as.  

Also, while the Astartes are the Emperor's Spear, the Deathwatch are NOT the speartip of the speartip.  That implies a direct combat role.  They are special forces.  They do sneaky black-ops stuff for the Ordo Xenos, which (yes) does mean that if a whole bunch of guys show up early on they've either done something wrong or stumbled into a warzone.  At the end however - well, on the way back to extraction all bets are off.  If the enemy finds out what they've done (sabotage something, steal something, kill something), they're going to send in a lot of guys.  Because they know Astartes are dangerous.  

And that's just assuming Astartes Spec-Ops operate like human Spec-Ops nowadays.  Given Space Marine tactics, their idea (unless they're Raven Guard), is probably just 'Run faster, kill faster'.  Because they can take it - with ease.  

Also, CSM hordes are dumb, unless the characters are all Rank 7+ Renown 80+.  Then they can take them, but that's because by then any librarians should be able to as a Half Action toss out a 12d10 Pen 12 Blast (12) attack that hits 1d10+12 people in any horde caught in its radius.  Suck on that, CSM Hordes.  



#5 kjakan

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Posted 20 August 2012 - 11:03 AM

TechVoid said:

Isn't there a better idea how to think about hordes? And thus how to build a rule system around them? Deathwatch has so many detailed states like stunned and pinned and grabbled. Can't a horde just work with that? Maybe a horde of opponents does some damage but their threat is based on 'other factors'.

At first glance the Horde rules seems okay to me. They provide a simple means for allowing the heroes to face off against multiple enemies witout getting bogged down with minutiae. However, their usage isobviously very much left ot the GM's discretion, and I don't think it's appropriate to turn every adversary into a horde. A horde of Hive Tyrants? Really?

About the horde's bonus to damage. First of all, the purpose is for the Horde to represent a threat in combination that the individual members cannot. If a screaming tide of traitor guardsmen are completely unable to even injure the Deatwatch Space Marine, then fighting them is only a dice-rolling excersise and essentially a waste of time: The Devastator might as well stroll into the horde and slap them around with his bare hands instead of wasting precious frag missiles against an enemy that can be defeated with the application of patience and elbow-grease. So a simple solution is that the horde focuses it's fire on a few select targets (or fires wildly about, hitting nothing), and that the sheer amount of fire allows for a lucky hit once in a while. Well, not lucky for the Deathwatch Space Marine.

It is ultimately up to the GM to use the Hordes wisely. The rules makes some suggestions with regards to numbers and the magnitude of the horde, but this is subject to the GM's discretion. It's not as if the GM is bound to only ever use the adversaries listed in the book "as is" - he can make enemies stronger or weaker as necessary, and with regards to a horde he can alter the effective numbers/magnitude ratio as he sees fit: A horde of relatively few elite troops may deserve a greater magnitude due to their bad-ass-ness!

The GM should of course be mindful of the power level of the horde. A horde that cannot damage the Deathwatch Space Marines is a pointless excercise beyond the hurr-hurr of the players gorging themselves on an easy kill, but a horde that is likely to kill off a Space Marine with each hit is even worse!



#6 WittyDroog

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 11:00 PM

Nathiel said:

Just say NO to hordes of Carnifex(i…es? what is the multiple of Carnifex?

Like sheep or fish, I guess.

A "cavelcade" of Carnifex. 



#7 N0-1_H3r3

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 11:55 PM

WittyDroog said:

 

Nathiel said:

 

Just say NO to hordes of Carnifex(i…es? what is the multiple of Carnifex?

 

 

Like sheep or fish, I guess.

A "cavelcade" of Carnifex. 

 

 

Carnifex is actually the latin for 'butcher', and the plural is Carnifices. I imagine that the collective noun for them can't be expressed in polite conversation, though it rhymes with 'clusterduck'.

Most old-school Tyranid names (that is, ones found in the 2nd edition codex and publications from the same era - the newer ones don't tend to follow this pattern) are latin words for various things. Look them up… it can be quite enlightening.


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#8 Chastity

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Posted 16 September 2012 - 08:21 AM

TechVoid said:

Which leads me to the mechanical question: Why should a lot of lesser opponents be able to really wound the space marines if they simply put together their effort. If a single weapon cannot harm the players, why a dozen of them? 100 x 0 is still 0. And to my surprise, such a horde of simple heretics does a lot of damage. Plus 2d10 extra damage? Insane!

Basically the extra 2D10 damage eliminates a rounding error.

When one lasgun fires at a Space Marine, their Unnatural Toughness and Power Armour absorbs *nearly* all of the damage. Indeed it absorbs *so much* of the damage that we effectively *round it down* to zero. You can imagine, if you wish, that the average lasgun shot actually does 0.1 Wounds, it's just that the system doesn't track wounds in that much detail.

But with lots and lots of lasguns, that rounding down suddenly skews the results in an unrealistic direction (any tabletop player will attest that lasguns absolutely *can* hurt Space Marines) because we've made a classic maths error - we've rounded down before multiplying.

Assuming that each lasgun "really" does 0.1 wounds, and we only round each one down to 0 for convenience, then 100 lasguns suddenly does 100*0.1 = 10 wounds, very different from the zero wounds you would take if you'd rounded first.

As for Hordes of Elites - I'd strongly advise against it, we had exactly the problem you describe in the first adventure of The Emperor Protects. Five Genestealers are really scary, a Magnitude 5 Genestealer Horde is toast in seconds.

My more detailed thoughts on using Hordes are here: dreamersanddicepools.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/hordes-of-things-further-thoughts-on.html

 



#9 Minnjitsu

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Posted 23 September 2012 - 06:45 AM

TechVoid said:

Hi fellows,

just another thread about hordes.

After a while I am just asking myself what the concept of hordes should be?

At first, from my humble understanding, the Deathwatch is an Astartes elite unit. Thus if the Astartes are the spea rtip, then the Deathwatch is the spear tip of the speartip. This leads me to the assumption: If the Deathwatch faces some huge number of lesser opponents, something went totally wrong.

Furthermore, hordes are supposed to be lesser opponents, meaning their only purpose is to distract or slow down the squad. They pose no threat to the space marines despite scratching their power armour which the have to paint again.

Which leads me to the mechanical question: Why should a lot of lesser opponents be able to really wound the space marines if they simply put together their effort. If a single weapon cannot harm the players, why a dozen of them? 100 x 0 is still 0. And to my surprise, such a horde of simple heretics does a lot of damage. Plus 2d10 extra damage? Insane!

And now I shall consider to simply build up a horde of Chaos Marines? A single or even two Chaos marines are equivalent to the players and will be able to put the space marine down in a single round. A 'horde' of them, or what you would call them, means just death and total party kill. But wait! While they are put together as a horde, the Devastator Marine can kill them more easily with his special abilites. Thus while chaos marines as single enemies are a threat they are very easy to overcome as a horde - thus why should I feel now heroic?

Isn't there a better idea how to think about hordes? And thus how to build a rule system around them? Deathwatch has so many detailed states like stunned and pinned and grabbled. Can't a horde just work with that? Maybe a horde of opponents does some damage but their threat is based on 'other factors'.

Has someone thought about such a different approch?

Cheers,

TechVoid.

 

More like 100 x 1 is a better way to look at it.  Some enemies (orks and nids) just come in big groups that way.  Melee can be a really bad way of dealing with hordes as you get 0% chance to parry or dodge unless you have talents and abilities that say other wise.  Hordes are basically cannon fodder.  One horde isn't a problem but 4 hordes is alot of enemies to deal with. On Oblivion's Edge my group of players stongpointed the hell out of the spaceport with a devastator with hellstorm rounds and an assault marine with a flamer.  Nids just kept sending wave after wave.  Throwing Nid Warriors with the hordes made a difficult encounter.  Having to choose between targets and space out hordes in another approach.



#10 Face Eater

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 04:29 AM

 I also think it's appropriate to the 'feel' of the setting that anyone (even power-armored superhumans) can be brought down by a massed wave of zealous infantry. I hate the idea that that only a named character or special character can kill a PC Space Marine, that's an annoyingly D&D or Comic book way of looking at the setting that supposed to be Grimdark IMHO.

Whether or not you actually want it to happen to your PC's is another thing but the impression that a well led army, well motivated dangerous is part and parcel of the background. If you don't want a PC killed by random group of Orks that's fine, but to there's no dishonour is saying that Brother Ezekial was lost fighting the savage Ruglugz Scar Boyz of the Black Skull Rayderz tribe. Of course as essentially throw away NPC squads you won't want to put so much detail into your Hordes that you get attached to them.



#11 kjakan

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 10:33 AM

WittyDroog said:

A "cavelcade" of Carnifex. 

A carnival of 'fexes?



#12 Alekzanter

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 07:43 AM

I've actually taken some time to refine the Horde rules. I was never entirely happy with them, but they work as is for the purpose intended. Using the Horde Traits presented in the DW Core Rules and in Mo/tX as a basis for refinement, the Hordes I use have more tactical flexibility than just "big tar pit unit doing big inconvenient Damage". Hordes I use are also threatening down to the last dozen creatures or so, though only to a single Marine.

Conceptually, Hordes make sense, as there are many instances in "fluff', short story, and novel where one can read about hundred, thousands, even hundreds of thousands of troops being thrown at the enemy (or vice versa). With Only War looming on the horizon, it's only a matter of time before someone organizes an all-day war zone, with tactical dispositions, assault and counter-assaults, supply and communications, counter-intel, etc. I know Hordes aren't meant to represent specific numbers, but if one looks at the creatures in a Horde relatively (1 Magnitude equaling 3 Scrawny creatures or 2 Average creatures) then the volume of fire placed downrange (or meted out in melee) to eliminate the threat of a Horde puts a new perspective on Mag 42. With this in mind, Space Marines could be used as Hordes, too, but as they're Hulking it equalizes at 1 Marine per point of Mag…42 Chaos Space Marines wouldn't be used in Horde format though, each one of them would be the near equal of a Deathwatch PC, and getting over on them by doing Mag Damage to them would do them (and the PCs) a disservice. It's bad enough trying to run 9 adversarial Chaos Space Marines, however, so I can't imagine the headache of using 42. Hence the advent of Hordes. Hordes rally around 4 or 5 CSMs, and the PCs have something more to worry about than just Traitors: lesser troops blocking their LoS, climbing all over them, clawing at their legs and generally being a nuisance to their movement and ability to address the threat of the CSMs. I have yet to do it, but…

Grappled opponents are easier to hit. I've been thinking about having CSMs Grapple PCs, giving the Hordes to +20 to hit. Or having the Hordes bog down the PCs (again with Grapple, since 10-12 Average-sized individuals could "peel away" from the Horde specifically for the task) and giving the CSMs the bonus to hit. Raveners, Tau Crisis Suits, anything really, could Grapple a Space Marine, and there's nothing they can do about it until they take control of the Grapple or break free, leaving them exposed, vulnerable, and preventing them from contributing to the demise of Horde/Elite foes. But this is the stuff of Space Marine legends, and if a Space Marine had only tales of "I bested this creature in one-on-one combat, and this creature…" and so on, it would be kinda boring. Being able to relate the epic last stand against the final assault of Oberron Galt and his Horde of Ur-Clatch at the Battle of Moniker Wall is not so boring…at least not to the soldiers of the Imperial Guard. "A Space Marine would go on to say "Oh yeah? Well I…"

The other thing to remember is that the Horde rules are the biggest set of Guidelines in the whole game. They can't possibly meet every GMs' needs, even with the addition of more Horde Traits in Mo/tX, and become rather blah after a while…telling the Players they are up against another "Massive" formation becomes a set of statistics (+30 to hit, and so on). Telling Players that a Horde formation is spilling into the burnt-out shells of the buildings to their right, hugging heavy cover and preparing for an assault that will likely take them from multiple directions, that is capable of dividing their attention between specific targets within the Kill-Team, and seems to be utilizing specialized assault gear (nets for Grappling) means they Players have to think about more than, "I shoot. I get +30 to hit".

If anyone is interested in seeing what I've done to refine Hordes feel free to PM me. 



#13 Penpen

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 11:19 PM

kjakan said:

WittyDroog said:

 

A "cavelcade" of Carnifex. 

 

 

A carnival of 'fexes?

In deep Carnifeces.






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