I feel as though I'm not understanding the Horde rule. I was wondering if someone could walk me through a Horde combat. The way it seems now is two frag grenades can wipe out 120 Termegaunts as they would be magnitude 4. Is this even remotely correct? If yes why even bother with a horde. I assumed the intention of the horde rule was to create a risk of danger to the space marines, but it doesn't feel that way to me when I read the rules.
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The ratio of individuals to Magnitude has always been kept deliberately abstract to keep people from dwelling on how realistic/unrealistic it is; I'm not sure where you are getting the number that 120 'gants = 4 Magnitude. If it becomes necessary to apply real numbers to Magnitude, most people take 1 Guardsman as the 'base' for 1 Magnitude, with weaker creatures requiring more bodies to equal 1 Mag and more powerful creatures requiring fewer. So, 120 'gants would probably be close to 100 Magnitude…
From the GM's point of view, the key to fielding effectively menacing Hordes is to pay close attention to the '10s' digit of their Magnitude. Less that 10 Mag is going to be largely irrelevant, over 10 but under 20 is usually a modest threat, and over 20 is a legitimate threat.
Before starting a Deathwatch campaign, I would recommend that new GMs run a 'practice game' (or two…) to get a feel for what constitutes a threat to the Killteam. When I started my campaign, after roleplaying the new recruits' first meeting with the Watch Commander, I sent them to the Watch Fortress' training arenas, to fight wave after wave of combat servitors- both invividual 'Astrates-grade' Battle Servitors (based on the stats from the Adversaries section in the DW rulebook) and Magnitude 10-30 Hordes of 'commercial-grade' Gun Servitors (based on the stats from the Adversaries section in the Dark Heresy rulebook). This was very useful for getting an idea of just how much punishment a Killteam can take, before they started going on 'real' missions…
My 'fan-created content':
120 Gaunts would probably be at least a Magnitude 40-100+ horde (depending how "tough" you want each guant to be). You really shouldn't be too concerned over the exact number of characters comprising a horde (special weapons, masters, or special characters notwithstanding). This is what the magnitude stat is for. Now most have settled upon more than 1 mag per character simply to get away from "joe took 1 damage to his arm so he dies now," situations. Although many times when damage is done to a horde the amount of damage a single horde character takes is usually more than a measly 1 point.
What this means is, if you want to surround your kill-team with around 50 civilian humans you'd throw a 50 magnitude horde at them. 20 Eldar warriors would be a 40 or 60 magnitude horde. Once you get the approximations down you can feel it out for each situation. 500 enemy troops rushing down a street at them, lets call it 5 big 200 mag hordes. A 10-man squad of Green guardsmen, well we'll call that a 20 mag horde. Only once the horde is breaking or gets really low on magnitude should the numbers be an issue. Then you just got to say, "The horde drops to mag 10, the 4 characters left in the horde fail a break test and run for cover." Or, "the 4 guys go nuts and each runs towards the nearest kill-team member with bloodlust in their eyes."
I wouldn't say "most" believe 1 guardsman = 1 mag. Thats pretty insulting to mankind. Sure humans aren't as tough as Tyranid Warriors but if an eldar would count as magnitude 3 per character when the only difference is more agility its not very fair. It also limits the GM's ability to represent "weaker" humans like civies or techs, who wouldn't be as strong as a guardsman (example: Joe and Jane just took 1 point of damage shared between them since civilians count 2 characters to 1 mag, so they both die).
But lets not get into an argument over "what they really should be." I prefer to judge my character to magnitude on an adjusting scale. Normal Guardsmen are normally around 3 or 4 mag each. Veterans, stormtroopers, and other stronger troops rate higher numbers to represent training, equipment, and experience. Same thing for xenos and daemons.
What magnitude really allows you to do is represent a large group of enemies which act in a relatively uniform manner, and bring in "weight of fire" for your enemy forces.
Remember, Even hordes have a base statline that determines their basic individual component. Thus a horde of standard civilians is already going to be weaker than an equal magnitude horde of guardsmen. I have used the base size characteristic as the general Base number for hordes. Thus a squad of guardsmen (Size medium thus base 3) with no special or heavy weapons would be magnitude 30. Orcs on the other hand are hulking in size and thus with a base size of 4 (I think. My books are not with me ATM), a squad of them would be magnitude 40.
The Emperor protects! (The GM does not!)
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