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ByzantineFalcon

Hordes

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Running my players though a somewhat modified version of Final Sanction, now that I have a bit more of a handle on the rules. At first, I was thinking "ok, this one should give them a real fear of the possibility of death" with encounter after encounter of Magnitude 30-50 hordes. Basically the stats of Guardsmen, with Autoguns rather than lasguns.

The thing is, there is almost no real threat to them, and I think I am doing something wrong as a result. Lets say you have a Magnitude 30 horde. Using the weapon stats from the Errata, that horde can make 3 attacks, lets say as a semi-auto burst. You are not likely to get more than 2 hits each time, and even with the size bonus, your only looking at 3d10+3. With toughness and armor, I would need to do more than 18 damage for them to even notice, which does not often happen even when they do hit.

First encounter, they found cover (which pretty much meant they didnt take a scratch), but after they saw how little the horde could do to them, they basically just stand in the open and gun them down. Ok, fair enough, they ARE Space Marines. So, later on I set up an ambush with a few gun teams with heavier guns, but it was the same deal. In this case, the fact that they were not hordes meant they did even less damage.

Any idea what I can do to spice things up? Other than tossing in the odd weapons team with a missile launcher, or having a "horde" of teams with heavy weapons (like Heavy Bolters maybe?). Kind of at a loss for what to do even to whittle them down a bit. As it is going, they are going to all but wipe out any and every horde they come across, without much fear of damage, and in record time. The only other option I came up with was to supplement them with some of the IG equipment from Only War (which I have). Anyone else run into this when sending waves of 'human' opponents at Deathwatch Teams?

Am I missing something?

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Isn't this was Hordes are meant to be used for, and indeed a (somewhat) important thematic element in the Deathwatch RPG? Masses of faceless, dispensable opponents of all sorts being gunned down by nigh-invulnerable Astartes in an epic, bloody battle the likes of which can otherwise only be found in various legends, novels, or the Space Marine videogame. In this case it's a hail of autogun rounds harmlessly ricocheting off the armour. The true threats are individual enemies (including, but not necessarily bosses) that often deploy alongside Hordes.


 


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pictured: Kill-team Andreia under command of Deathwatch Captain Leonidas


 


If, however, your group indeed feels this is boring, perhaps out of taste or because they've grown tired of similar encounters, you can always tinker with the rules. You already mentioned the missile launcher (which as per the book can even be an integral part of a Horde), and you could "abuse" the Horde rules by having those Guardsmen throw grenades which, thanks to the damage bonus, are rather dangerous. You could also tinker with the guns themselves and simply give them different stats (given that equipment stats change all the time between the various books anyways), such as adding a flat +X bonus to the damage. You could also have the troops use armour-piercing ammo for a "rules-compliant" way of increasing their damage. You could even discuss tweaking the resilience of your Marines and/or their armour.


 


Ultimately, however, be aware that the many dice that tend to get thrown as part of the Horde rules can pose a huge risk for your player characters. If you roll "lucky", you'll have your player suffer 33 points of damage even just using the numbers you posted. One of DW's problems that keeps getting mentioned time and time again is the interaction between the Marines' high resiliency in FFG games in combination with the inherent risk posed by rolling multiple d10s, each of whom means a result between 1 and 10, resulting in extremely random damage and thus a tendency that Astartes characters either shrug off attacks with complete immunity or almost(?) get instakilled by the GM rolling high for a single attack.


 


It's certainly something to be aware of, although I would assume/hope it does not pose too much of a problem for most games…

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To 'spice things up', attach a Special and/or Heavy weapon to the Horde (treated as individuals, but using the Horde for cover, i.e. requiring a Called Shot to single them out), plus maybe a leader-type with some dangerous Talents and a high-end 'heirloom' weapon… Also, you can try fielding multiple smaller Hordes instead of one big one, forcing the Killteam to split their fire or make tactical choices about what order to target which Horde.

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I currently am running a variant of Final Sanction myself and have a comment to add and also a question regarding Hordes in melee (:

Firstly, my commentary: My initial battle ran the same way, when they first encountered the Rebel Hordes. My Librarian single-handedly sliced away at a Rebel Leader who was wielding a Chainsword. Even though the Leader landed hits on him twice, the damage was totally unable to pierce his armor (even remotely). They mopped up the rest of the Rebels without too much of a fuss, but the Assault Marine took a few hits after engaging in melee with a 50 magnitude horde (that +2d10 damage adds up fast!). Nothing too bloody though. But honestly, throw your Hordes into melee… they'll become a bit more dangerous and will actually be able to inflict a decent amount of damage.

"Great!" I thought… now they are getting overly confident and will begin to underestimate their enemies! In their second excursion, they did just that and the Librarian paid dearly for it, as he now has 2 critical damage and the party is without an Apothecary! But I'll be helping them out in that aspect next session (:

Anyway, my point in case is that Hordes can be quite scary (even wielding "Crude Weapons") when you mass them against even a Space Marine. Their melee damage points can add up very quickly. If you're not against rolling in secret, then maybe allow them to roll the needed 25 or under Weapon Skill at least a few times so that you can add some tension in the battle. Yes, it's fun to decimate waves of enemies, but it is boring if there is not some sort of risk involved. Anywho, on Page 33 of The Final Sanction, it states that the PDF Base is under siege and that the Rebels have brought in "Siege Guns." I don't know what that quite refers to, but I decided to make them Autocannons >=D! 

The mistake my Librarian made was that there were 3 groups of men armed with Autocannons and not being entirely familiar with the game, he decided to charge towards one. He couldn't make it in one round, but would in two. Two of them shot at him with full-auto. The first one missed, but the second one hit (only once though, no degrees of success). The stats for an Autocannon are listed in the supplement, "Rites of Battle." They are: Range 300m, Heavy, S/2/5, 4d10+5 I, Pen 4, Clip 200. It isn't too surprising to think of Autocannons being used either, since they see a lot of use in Imperial Guard regiments (or so I've read). Anywho, you can imagine a 4d10+5 with Penetration 4 hurt him pretty dang badly. I rolled kinda average-ish but still managed to hit him for 16 damage in a single shot. Now, keep in mind, in retrospect, I may have gone just a little overboard (whoops! hahah!). But I taught my players a valuable lesson (myself a different one!) and one they will NEVER forget: NEVER underestimate an enemy, especially one with a heavy weapons emplacement meant for "sieging"! Any opponent can be dangerous, given the right rolls or opportunity! That being said, the next turn he completely obliterated the autocannon after pushing a force power and nearly one-shotted a nearby horde. 

Just keep in mind that your campaign should be about "attrition" (at least, that is how I am running mine). They may be able to get away from a few battles here and there with just a minor scratch or two, but those scratches will start to add up (especially with how fast-paced the campaign is--they can't afford to rest). Anywho, if all else fails, just wait until you're able to sneak in a Genestealer or two and just make sure (at least, as well as you can) that they get the jump on the Space Marines (+30 against unaware targets makes a massive difference!). You'd be amazed what a difference getting caught with your pants down can do to a party in a PnP game!

Okay, now my questions about Hordes:

Flamers/Grenades used vs Hordes in Melee - Would the "AoE" nature of the attack inflict damage upon the nearby Space Marine as well? Thematically and mechanically, how do you have a "swarm" of enemies all attacking a single target relentlessly? I'm currently using a few figurines placed on a black-painted cardboard circle (CD sized+shaped) to represent my hordes. But this question came up in our last session. I currently ruled that the AoE doesn't hit the Space Marine just for time-consumption sake. I'm actually trying to figure out how to make this work though in regards to friendly fire (which is always a possibility in my games). Should the (we use minis) Space Marine model be actually caught in the "center" of the circle, if he gets thrown into melee with the enemy horde?

Being that flamers shoot in a cone shape, we're also wondering if we have two hordes engaged in melee with a nearby Space Marine, if it is possible to hit BOTH hordes in a single flamer shot? I would rule no, because I just can't realistically imagine a flamethrower having that kind of reach--the kind it would take to flame 20-40 chumps in a single spray (okay… maybe a heavy flamer?).

Thanks, and good luck with your campaign!

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I don't use miniatures in my games, but rule that AoE weapons can only attack a single horde as a grenade needs to land in the centre(ish) to be effective and a flamer needs to devote it's full attack to one mob. I guess I would allow a player to attack two adjacent hordes dealing half damage to each but it hasn't come up.

 

As for friendly fire, I rule that a player using a flamer can make a Challenging (+0) BS test to not hit his allies. If a grenade thrower only hits because of the hordes size bonus then I say that hits any friendly models engaged with the horde.

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