Large beasts march across Immoren, driven by the Warlocks linked with them. They are dedicated to taking back the land they feel is rightfully there, and to take it back by any means necessary, even if that means tearing other beasts apart, limb by limb. In HORDES High Command, you will command a faction against 1-3 other players in a deck building game of capturing locations and using strategy to earn more victory points than your opponents. Fans of the HORDES miniature war game will see familiar warlocks and beasts to use at their disposal, taking the battle for Immoren into a new format.
Out of the Box
Inside a copy of HORDES High Command you’ll get:
- 386 cards
- 89 Skorne cards
- 89 Circle Orboros cards
- 89 Legion of Everblight cards
- 89 Trollbloods cards
- 15 Winds of War cards
- 15 Location cards
Playing the Game
In HORDES High Command, players compete with each other to earn the most victory points. These are gained by capturing locations and purchasing particular cards with a victory point icon into your army. Locations are captured by purchasing and deploying various cards to battle for supremacy in their effort to gain control in Immoren.
Because the rules and turn order in HORDES High Command are the same as those in WARMACHINE High Command, instead of reiterating the extensive rules in this review, I’ll direct you to the WARMACHINE High Command Review posted by Raine for a detailed description on the rules. The term ‘warcaster’ would be replaced with ‘warlock’ for HORDES.
Is The Deployment Cost Worth It?
I’ll start the final thoughts of this review by saying this – I can see that a lot of work was put into this game in regards to the details of rules and turn order, which make sense, are clear, and the mechanics are tight and precise. What I also want to say is that if a game has all of that going for it, but isn’t captivating during game-play, a serious problem arises for the re-playability of the game.
If you were to dive into this game without any previous knowledge of the factions or deck-building, I think gamers will be overwhelmed and well, bored. The game was described as something that anyone could pick up and play, but after many, many games, I found that only certain combinations work in the game, but those are only learned by experience or by talking to others that have discovered the best combinations. One could argue that the point of games like HORDES High Command is that you get better as you play, and I would wholeheartedly agree if this was my only issue.
First of all, if you look at all the cards available for each faction and add up the number of cards with victory point values and add them up, you’ll see a lack of balance across the factions. For example, both Skorne and Circle have a combined total of 51 victory points across their cards, while Legion only has 50, and Trollbloods pulls ahead with 54. I feel this makes the game unbalanced in regards to fairness.
Personally, I find the action of purchasing a card into my army and having to pay the purchase cost again to deploy the card to be irritating. I’ve already paid for this card, and possibly discarded other resources or units in order to acquire the card I just picked up, and then face the possibility of having to throw away more resources or units in order to play it on a location. I’ve seen games where players have given up on deploying cards altogether and just focused on buying cards with victory points, which in itself causes an issue because of the victory point imbalance among the factions that I mentioned before.
Maybe I’m just expecting more out of something called a “Battle step”, but the battles are just a matter of math equations. No instant speed triggers to affect the battle to the favor of either side. Due to limited hand size, I can see where some people may like this feature so that the only “actions” are already on the table before the battle step begins, but if it is not your turn, battle is a pretty dull part of the game. Battle is pretty frustrating as it is with two players, but it becomes a chaotic mess when there are more players.
Let’s talk about visuals in the game, now. The artwork in the game is beautiful, however, from what I can tell none of the art is new. I do enjoy the card layout, but I feel they could’ve re-sized some things like the faction symbols and attack/defense scores in order to make the card text larger. I wear glasses for detail, and I still had some issues reading cards unless I pulled them in close. Sleeving was an issue for us, as we found it logical to sleeve each faction in a different color, but when it comes to adding Location cards to your deck, there was a constant re-sleeve issue. Your options at this point are to sleeve all the contents of the box in the same color sleeve, or don’t sleeve them at all. Not to mention the fact that if you don’t sleeve the cards, you’ll find the nicely organized game you spent 20 minutes placing into their own slots look like this.
I wanted so badly to enjoy this game. I jumped on board with the hype surrounding it, but found myself frustrated and/or bored in every game. As a core game, there is nowhere near the level of “custom deck-building” as was advertised originally, but I see potential for the game as expansion packs come out and people begin to truly make their own personalized decks. As it comes, though, I feel that $44.99 is a bit much unless you’ve already played the game and enjoy the mechanics and game-play with what it comes with.
Thanks to Privateer Press for providing a copy of HORDES High Command for review!
- HORDES fans will enjoy the familiar artwork and characters
- The mechanics are tight and clear
- Has potential with future expansions
- Battle doesn’t capture attention
- Not a high level of customized decks as advertised
- Victory points aren’t balanced across the factions
- Gets tedious and boring when it is not your turn
- Organization system only effective if cards are sleeved
- Not likely to be interesting to people who don’t already play HORDES