The Horde rules in Deathwatch have three basic functions.
- Provide a way for comparatively weak enemies to threaten powerful player characters.
- Simplify the handling of large groups of enemies.
- Allowing scenes where you fight overwhelming hordes of enemies.
|OMG ZERG RUSH|
The Price of Hubris attempts to use the Horde rules for a fourth purpose: making scary enemies even scarier.
The problem is that this doesn't work.
The first reason for this is one of naked game mechanics: a Magnitude 10 Horde of Genestealers is flat out less dangerous than ten individual genestelers. I have no idea what the stats for the 'stealers were in this setting, but they hit for about 10 points of damage through Power Armour and Unnatural Toughness, implying a Damage + Penetration of about 25. Now a Horde gets an extra D10 damage (let's say an average Dam + Pen of 30) but there's no way that a single Damage 30 hit is worse than ten damage 25 hits (admittedly a Horde can attack everybody it touches, but there were still only three of us), and Hordes are easier to hit than equivalently-sized groups of individual enemies.
The second reason for this is a bit more subtle, which is that large numbers of undifferentiated enemies are just less scary than smaller numbers of differentiated enemies. The scariest fight we had in the entire scenario was with four (count 'em: four) Genestealers that came at us out of the treeline.
Paradoxically, making an enemy literally be everywhere actually undermines the "they're everywhere" factor of this kind of alien-hunt. The tension in this kind of scenario comes from never knowing where the next attack will come from. If the attack is always coming right now there's no time to worry about it.
All of which leads me to the following conclusions:
- It is only really appropriate to use the Horde rules with individually weak enemies.
- Individually dangerous enemies are scarier in small but unspecified numbers than in large but well defined numbers.
- There's a cute Easter Egg if you Google for the term "zerg rush".