My player review of the game that I posted on my community facebook page. (I reference another article i wrote there, that is not here, so when you see that initially just be aware i was referring to that which they had the link to in the group)
Warlords of Erehwon - a player review
When asked what I think of Warlords of Erehwon, I wanted to put a good list of things that I consider when picking games to play and how I think that this one pans out.
I did a review on the five commercial fantasy warband games out right now (AOS
, Middle Earth SBG, Dragon Rampant, Warmachine, and Warlords) that I am familiar with and gave a side by side comparison.
This post will be more about the system overall and how it operates as well as some things that I personally like about it and where I can see things possibly being a downside for players.
The game is warband scale. Its default point cost is 1,000 points, and for 1,000 points you get about what you'd get in Age of Sigmar for 1,000 points.
The undead army that I posted came out to be 33 models.
The game can be extended up to 2000 points per the book.
Armies have no real restrictions in terms of having to pay a core tax or anything like that. You are typically going to have one warlord (of which you must have one, and typically only one) which is the most powerful hero, and then anywhere around 1-2 extra heroes depending on the army list. The undead army as an example can only have one extra hero.
This prevents the game of hero hammer from happening largely as you will only have 1-3 heroes and the rest of your force will be composed of everything else.
It can be possible to get some overbearing lists put in place. Some of the more powerful monsters have a cap of one in the warband max, but other entries can be spammed. For example, the undead could take nothing but carrion beasts or artillery as there are no caps on those.
The balance overall remains to be seen as the game is brand new and minmax exploits have not yet hit the internet to be copied.
The game has no official model line and openly embraces any model line that you may have. Bases also do not matter, so bring your squares or your rounds or anything in between.
Scenarios typically last six turns OR when your army is deemed broken. A broken warband is when you have reached a point in the game where you have half of your starting units remaining on the table. At that point, unless you are in the sixth turn of the game and the game is over, you will roll a D6
to determine if you go to the next turn or not.
Broken armies can never score more points than unbroken armies. That means once an army is broken, it will be playing to break the other army to try to win on score in what little time it has left or it auto loses no matter what the score actually is (barring a scenario changing that win condition up)
The game eschews the traditional IGOUGO
mechanics of classic games and many modern games. Instead, for every hero or unit that you possess you will drop a colored dice or token into a dice bag, as will your opponent.
During a turn, you will draw a token from the bag. If it is one of your tokens, you will activate a unit that has not yet activated. If it is one of your oppoenents, they will do the same. There are some exceptions where you can keep orders activated on a unit and not put the dice in the bag, but ultimately the game will be bouncing back and forth between players activating different units as opposed to standing there for an entire turn (or two if you are playing AOS
and fall prey to their double turn mechanic) taking it on the chin with no way to respond.
The orders you can give correspond to a facing on a D6
. Warlord games sells special order dice for Bolt Action and Antares, which uses the same system.
You can choose to Advance with a unit, where they can move and shoot any missile weapons. You can choose to fire with a unit where they shoot without moving (some larger weapons or artillery can only receive this order to fire for example). You can choose to run which lets you move double or even triple your movement (unless you are wearing heavy armor which slows you down).
You can choose to issue a rally order which will help that unit and any unit near it remove "pins" from it to make it easier to stop fleeing and recieve orders. Pins are a mechanic where losing combats, taking damage, and exhausting oneself (or miscasting spells) add to a tally that is much like morale. Once you reach an amount of pins equal to the units command score, they flee the table. Rallying helps remove some of those pins. (pins also make issuing orders to those units more difficult)
You can issue a Down order which makes your unit hit the ground and make it harder to be hit.
Last you can issue an Ambush order which lets you put a unit's action in wait. They can then later activate in response to an enemy unit activating, as an Interrupt, provided they pass an initiative test.
This lets you weave more complex tactics and strategies into the game where units can lie in wait for an opposing action and then activate to spoil that action. Or perhaps just simply dive into cover with a Down command if they are being targeted by a nasty missile unit.
The game uses D10s
as its primary random number generator though also uses D6
sparingly as well.
To charge into combat, units must be issued a run command and they can run (double movement) or sprint (triple movement) into an enemy unit. There are no random charges, though terrain can spoil your charging as it has an impact in the game and can slow you down.
Shooting and combat both function off of the same mechanics. You roll a D10
for each model to hit based on either an accuracy score or their strength score, and all hits are allocated to the enemy unit. Hits must be spread out across the unit. There is none of the tanking shennanigans that other games employ where an indestructible front model soaks up all damage.
Once hits are assigned, the player taking the damage rolls a resistance dice (a d10
) for each hit. Armor raises a resistance score, though some strikes ignore armor. Strikes also have a strike value which can lower resistance, and you will find an assortment of weapons that have various strength or sv
Models that fail to save are removed as casualties. Everything in the game has a single wound, except for heroes which can buy extra wounds.
A tough skill allows you to reroll a failed resistance roll, and heroes can buy several of these to use throughout the game (as they count game-wide, ex: if I have tough 2 that means I can twice in the entire game re-roll a failed resistance roll with that hero)
Units can run away and if they flee must be rallied or can run off the table.
There are a variety of modifiers to both shooting and combat. These are covered in the quick reference sheet in the back of the book and is worth copying and printing out for your games.
Magic is pretty straight forward. You can give magic levels to the heroes that can have magic. The higher your magic level, the more potent the spells can be. However you only cast one spell a turn with that hero so the power level of magic is nothing like in other games where it can easily tip the game over.
Spells can also be dispelled by enemy wizards. Its more of a utility than a primary tactic.
You get one spell for your caster free that you pick and additional spells cost more points (even though again you can only cast once a turn no matter how many spells you decide to take)
There is a small selection of extra magic weapons you can give your characters. It is not really a big list but gives you some extra options should you wish to take them.
There could definitely be an expansion that gave more magic armor, standards, potions, etc, but currently its just limited to a small handful of weapons.
There are bound monsters in the game the same as existed way back in the day of 5th edition whfb
. The monsters section is listed as player optional and requiring player permission to include, but gives you access to the classic beastiary of yester-decade with things like dragons, ogres, giant spiders and scorpions, etc, plus things like ghouls and swarms.
Monsters have their own reaction chart to damage, just like they did in 5th edition whfb
, so you can have a monster hurt enough to be enraged and tear through everyone's forces, or it simply walks off the table.
Another key unit type are chariots, which many warbands have access to. Chariots have their own damage chart as well that they roll on and heroes in chariots can continue to fight on foot if their chariot is destroyed.
Terrain matters in this game. Obstacles can stop you in your tracks, terrain can slow you down, and hills block line of sight. The game functions in an intuitive manner. If you have models in cover, they gain a bonus to their resistance as you'd expect.
Warlords of Erehwon obviously takes a lot of things from classic Warhammer of the 90s and early 2000s. The army lists remind me greatly of Ravening Hordes, which was seen as the golden age of Warhammer in terms of balance back when 6th edition came out in the fall of 2000.
Some of the paragraphs in the book seem lifted from my 5th edition WHFB
rulebook, which is not surprising since Rick Priestly was part of that design team.
PROS (for me, in my opinion)
Intuitive gameplay that centers around maneuvering and playing the game over wombo-combo building and listbuilding skills. Your excel powers will not be as useful here as they are in 40k
There are really no combos to exploit in terms of taking Unit A gives Unit B and C a boost. There are no free abilities to exploit like having more than 20 models in a unit gives you a free +1 to hit. There are no ways to really raise up double your points values with unbalanced summoning mechanics.
The initiative system alternating from player to player instead of the much outdated IGOUGO
system means you aren't standing there for 30-45 minutes watching your opponent move while you just take guys off the table. It definitely means you don't have to suffer two turns in a row and up to 60 minutes of watching your opponent attack you while you take models off the table like in AOS
At 1000 points and roughly 30-50 models a side, the game also should play out really fast.
The ambush system where you can set up interrupts is also a huge positive for me as it creates layers of interaction that can weave a powerfully tactical tapestry where you can set up traps and responses (and which can fail!) as opposed to knowing your turn will always go off without any interruption at all.
The fact that you can use any models you want is also positive, and the fact that bases are listed as not relevant means that someone wanting everyone on the same base or getting angry has no leg to stand on. Rebasing entire armies to try and keep up with the latest base size is quite frankly annoying, especially if you put any work into your models appearance and don't want to destroy a finished base to put a bigger circle on it to appease someone that gets upset because 7mm extra is to them a huge advantage.
Thats personal taste I realize.
Also a big pro for me is that this game does not give you the ability to really alpha strike someone off the table. You can't get engaged in turn 1, you have to position for it and risk falling in opposing traps. There are no teleporting into combat units here nor are there units that are going to charge across the table in turn 1 (though speed can still get you close!)
The game has no fluff or narrative. For some thats also a huge PRO and that may even be for you. For me, the lack of story means that every game is set somewhere different. I like persistant stories and settings, so thats just a niggling issue for me.
For pick up gamers though that don't care about such things, the gameplay alone is more than enough to stand on in my opinion.
Additionally, there are some key armies missing here. The skaven, lizarden, and chaos warriors especially will find it hard to proxy their models in for one of the existing warbands.
Also, much like the cons levied against Ravening Hordes in 2000 by the warhammer community back then, you pay for the balance with lack of flavor. It would be nice to see a supplement really flesh out these army lists with their own spells and some magic items of their own. Games Workshop really does a good job at giving each faction its own place in the world, and I think that would go a long long way with Warlords of Erehwon.
Now the book states in the beginning that things that may be missing can easily be added as you wish. Rick encourages you to be creative. I know that come summer if we are still missing some skaven or demons or chaos warriors that I'll likely put my own in the game for campaign sake. He even has posted in their facebook explaining the design principals that he used to help you design your own units, but hopefully those formulas make it to a publication to help us tinker with the game more in a better and more knowledgeable way.
For a lot of players also the lack of the wombo-combo list building is a huge CON. Fans of popping synergies off and combo chaining with units that feed off of each others' abilities may be turned off by that lack of ability here.
Additionally players that enjoy alpha striking and dictating how a game is played by virtue of bringing an alpha strike list that gets stuck in on turn 1 will also likely be turned off by having to employ maneuver to get where they want.
For me this is one of my favorite systems at the moment. Its rules are solid, and what weaknesses it has can be remedied by the community should Warlord Games not pursue the game much past the initial rulebook.
I look forward to writing some material in this game universe and getting some campaign time in with Mr. Priestly's work.