I’ve always wanted a Warmachine or Hordes army. I actually have a fair few miniatures from this range and have played a handful of small games, but I’ve never really put together a coherent army. Also, if I did do an army, I wouldn’t want a big, all-encompassing force with everything the faction has to offer. No, I’d go for a themed force.
Themed forces in Warmachine and Hordes are armies that are built around a particular idea and are limited in their recruitment. This is a tradeoff that sees the player get theme-specific bonuses in exchange for the limitations they accept. Themed lists have gone from being an interesting option to, in the current edition, the default state of list building.
So, let’s take a look at some of the themes that really appeal to me. I will not be doing a full look at the forces and the various bonuses you get for adopting a theme, but rather just my own thoughts on making an army along these lines. My judgments are largely based on the visual appeal of the army because, hey, that’s what I like and it’s what I’m here for.
We’ve previously taken a look at a few themed forces from the Cryx and some from Cygnar and Khador, so this time let’s take a look at the forces of Hordes. I am interested in one list each from Circle of Orboros, Trollbloods, and Grymkin. Let’s start with the Circle.
The Bones of Orboros
Also known as the ‘Sticks and Stones’ list, this themed force eschews the messy beasts and whatnot of the typical Circle force and replaces them with the far more orderly constructs.
The biggest of these constructs are found among the warbeasts. I love the Aesthetic of the stone constructs. The light warbeasts are cool and it will be worth including one or two, but the heavy warbeasts have the really impressive models.
The Woldwrath is a thing of true beauty but, as a colossal, it’s a big expense. it’s also expensive in points, so who knows if I’d actually get to use it. The other stone-based constructs all look great. The Wold Guardian, with those massive hammer-fists, is particularly cool.
The available units are a mix of druids, stones and a lovely Battle Engine. They’re not as exciting as the Warbeasts, but they’re nice nonetheless.
The shifting stones are really cool, as is the Keeper that goes with them. The Blackclad solos are, I am told, some of the better options available and have pretty models, too. That Celestial Fulcrum, though… oh, it’s so pretty. Most of the Colossals and Battle Engines are, but this one just stands out as being particularly beautiful.
There are loads of options for Warcaster in this force, but I’d personally stick with something that looks the part. A hooded druid, ready to harness the power of the earth.
I’ve picked out four good options, but it’s Bradigus who really appeals to me. He’s built for this list and, from what I understand, is not widely used outside such a force. The miniature is pretty epic, with those flying stones. It’s a pretty clever sculpt, really.
I think that if I did this list, it would feature Bradigus and a generous helping of Warbeasts. They are where my heart lies in this force. I’d also use a few Blackclad solos and some shifting stones.
Next up, the Trollbloods!
Storm of the North
Trollbloods are one of the more visually interesting species in Hordes. The miniatures tend to be bursting with personality and also have a healthy helping of humour. How’s that for alliteration? The Northkin are my favourite part of the Trollbloods, largely because they have the most personality and, hey, I’m from the north! One of us! One of us!
The Northkin can use most of the warbeasts available to the Trollbloods, but there are a few with a specific Northern twist. Generally this means adding ice and beards. I’m okay with this.
All of the bearded Trolls and Dire Trolls look great. Rök, the Basher and the ice Troll are particularly cool. I also learned to paint Ice when I did my Malifaux stuff a few years back. Then again, it’s been a while. I may have forgotten. The colossal, the Glacier King, is breathtaking. Beautiful.
As with the Warbeasts, many of the units and solos from the Trollbloods are available to the Northkin, but I’d really focus on the most north-y of them. Here are some of the minis that I’d look to add:
Those Raider and Fire Eaters are gorgeous. Being relatively recent sculpts, I do think they show us how far Privateer has come over the years. These would form the core of any force I’d build. The chieftain model is similarly impressive. The billowing cloak gives him a real heft and presence. And, finally, bears! Both the bear handler and the Battle Engine have them and they look great as part of the army. Who doesn’t love bears?
In terms of Warcasters, any of the Trollblood leaders can be used, but there’s a few that I prefer. Any with a northern or particularly Scottish theme are up for consideration.
I’ve always loved the Doomshaper miniatures too, so he’s in. One of the Warcasters even rides a bear. How fitting! I think this is an army where I’d probably pick up a couple of Warcasters and rotate them. This is partly because the various Warcasters each bring something to the table and are all viable, and also that the miniatures are so nice that I just wants them!
This force is a strong contender. It’s bursting with personality, character, and humour. It’s fun, and it’s got enough variation to be interesting.
Now, onto the nightmarish forces of the Grymkin!
The Grymkin are one of the newer armies for Hordes, having only come out a couple of years ago. The aesthetic really appeals to me. They do feel like a slightly chunkier version of the sort of miniature you’d expect to get from Wyrd, publishers of Malifaux.
The Dark Menagerie theme is the warbeast-centric Grymkin theme, so the monsters are the most important part of this force. Thankfully, there’s not a bad model among them:
The staples of these lists seem to be Skin & Bones and Cage Rager. Both miniatures are pretty, but I do prefer the Cage Rager. I like the chunkiness of it and the pose. Of the light warbeasts, I think the Gorehouse looks great and I love the quirky Crabbits. I’d be hesitant to take a Frightmare, as I find that model a bit creepy. It unsettles me!
Infantry isn’t used as much in a Dark Menagerie list, but there are a number of interesting solos that can be taken. They all exude character and have their own little quirks.
I love the miniatures for the Dread Rots. They’re one of my favourite infantry units in the game, at least visually. Of the solos, I like Baron Tonguelick, the Twilight Sisters, and Lady Karianna Rose. The Gremlin Swarm looks alright, but I think it would look better with a different, perhaps more vibrant, paint job. The Death Knell is also a cool Battle Engine. I like the little band that walks alongside it, too.
Now, to lead the force I can use pretty much any of the Grymkin Warcasters. Again, they all look great. Well, I’m not that keen on the look of the Heretic, but otherwise these all look fantastic:
The King of Nothing is a great miniature. I love his little scrunched-up form. The Child is also cool, and a total melee beatstick from what I understand. She also ties in really well in terms of synergies with the warbeasts. The dreamer and her pals are really nice. The big yellow one reminds me of the chubby Chocobo from Final Fantasy 7! In terms of sheer impressive presence, though… well, that has to go to Zevanna. How amazing does that walker look?
This force is one that I’d be quite interested in pursuing. It’s got some of the best models in the range and would be a joy to paint as it’s definitely not repetitive. The warbeast models are impressive and the warcasters are all incredibly unique and interesting.
And that’s all for the various forces of Hordes and their theme forces. Next time, I’m going to take a look at some of the themed forces featured among the Mercenaries faction. At the end of all this, I might even pick up the starting miniatures for the theme I end up on. We’ll see!