a guest column by relasine
The preview for the Thornfall Alliance in this month’s issue of No Quarter provides Hordes players with an exciting new play option: armies composed entirely of Minion models. Like Mercenary Contracts in Warmachine, Pacts allow players to take up arms with oft-ignored Minion models representing specific, non-faction interests.
The Thornfall Alliance, the first of several Pacts to be previewed, represents the interests of Lord Carver and his host of squealing Farrow, most easily described for the uninitiated as “pig men”. While this list only became truly playable just a few weeks ago and is consequently limited in scope, it’s a blast to run.
Lord Carver, the only currently available Minion warlock, is the star of the show. He comes with a fantastic set of abilities and spells that let him support both his warbeasts and accompanying infantry with surprising prowess. He has two battlegroup spells that greatly increase survivability and swiftness. Quagmire, his debuff spell, is a fine way to both reduce enemy DEF for melee attacks and to tarpit things that might be otherwise hard to deal with. His feat, Hog Heaven, transforms the nature of the army by both increasing damage in melee and allowing your forces to move every time they destroy an enemy model. Hog Heaven grants models like War Hogs and Brine the means to tear through infantry formations, to dispatch enemy heavies with ease, or a way to run amuck straight to the heart of your opponent’s army. Brigands turn into effective Weapon masters, able to put out the damage needed to take on high-ARM targets. Carver himself becomes a terror capable of cutting his way through an opposing army to deliver a death blow to the enemy warcaster/warlock.
The War Hog and Gun Boar fill two pretty important roles for the Alliance. War Hogs are obviously your wrecking ball due to their multiple attacks and internal STR-boosting mechanics. With Batten Down the Hatches, War Hogs become extremely hardened models able to take a serious beating before
going down. While their SPD value leaves something to be desired, Mobility is a great help for getting them where you need them, and Hog Heaven can allow you to set off a series of attacks that can potentially get the War Hog chaining 7 attacks, moving an inch each time it kills a model. This can be an unexpected way to close the distance on an enemy warcaster or warlock if they clump their trooper models up too much.
The Gun Boar’s role is pretty obvious; it dispenses POW 13 AOEs with a decent threat range. It’s a great gun platform for attacking a variety of targets like single, high-ARM models, clumps of low-ARM infantry, or vulnerable solos, warcasters, or warlocks. Its relatively low cost also makes it a good transfer target for Carver.
While Farrow Brigands are the only “core” troop available to Thornfall players, they have respectable ranged and melee applications, access to some great internal defensive abilities, and can even mitigate rough terrain in a pinch. With Carver’s Elite Cadre and the ability to Advance Deploy under the Thornfall Alliance, Brigands get even better. Thanks to the increased field allowance, one can field up to 30 Brigands in a single-warlock list. Chewing through that many infantry models that can Advance
Deploy, Dig In, and get Tough is an enormous challenge, making them a superb vanguard for your force.
The other currently available unit is the Farrow Bone Grinders. As they are more of an utility unit, they probably shouldn’t be often taken in droves, but a single unit isn’t bad if you have room for it. Craft Talisman will give Carver a bit of extra range for hitting a unit with Quagmire or for throwing out a Rift, Bone Magic is a nice way to get a free, late-game Massacre up, and Arcane Bolt is a nice, ancillary magic attack that is pretty darned accurate.
Where solos are concerned, the Alliance has some nice choices. With Rorsh and Brine, a solo accompanied by his character warbeast, you get a scalpel to the War Hog’s sledge hammer, capable of penetrating deep into your enemy’s lines or reposition before a slam to disrupt your opponent’s
formations. However, what Brine gains in speed and flexibility of movement, it sacrifices in damage output. Fortunately, you can greatly increase Brine’s damage output vs. warbeasts and other living
models with Pig Farm and against everything with Carver’s feat.
Aside from Rorsh, you have a four other solos to play with. Gudrun is a nice road block and antiinfantry solo. Saxon Orrik makes an excellent “eleventh Brigand” and can provide Pathfinder for the unit so that it can also benefit from Heroic Call or Hog Wild. Alten Ashley brings a nice gun to the field, allowing him to effectively move-shoot-move with a nice added bonus against warbeasts. Finally, Viktor Pendrake can buff a model/unit’s accuracy against warbeasts and has a ranged Knockdown ability. Just remember that because these last four solos are not Farrow, they do not get the benefit of Carver’s feat.
While the Thornfall Alliance may be difficult for some newer players to grasp, veteran players will find an exciting and rewarding army that many opponents will underestimate, often leading to their ultimate demise. Current speculation is that we’ll see the mad scientist Dr. Arkadius, the warlock responsible for the creating War Hogs and Gun Boars, as well as another unrevealed Farrow model or unit before the year is out. We’ll also be seeing rules for the first Gatorman warlock, Bloody Barnabas, along with rules for the next Minion Pact, the Blindwater Congregation in the September issue of No Quarter. Stay tuned!