For those of you that are not familiar with the term “Dark Horse”, it is often a term used to represent a candidate or competitor that is the underdog or not the favorite to win. This is a category in wargaming that I love to dabble in.
In Guild Ball, the infamous creator of “Don’t Touch the Beard” created a snowflake index. This was data that marked what factions and models were being used most in the game. This always inspired me to play the least popular captains and factions in the game. This is the reason I would play Orcs and Goblins in fantasy, Ravenwing in 40k, Ratcatchers in Guild Ball, Guild in Malifaux, and so on.
So why should you think about playing the unpopular or “bad” factions and models in a game? What could possibly be a positive in playing these misfit models?
- Your opponents are not going to be as familiar with what your models do and what their rules or mechanics are. This may seem like a gotcha, but it’s their own fault for scoffing at your dark horse models! I have often played these models, and since my opponent didn’t know what they did, I wrecked them. These dark horse models are often not played because it is hard to master or difficult to orchestrate their gimmick. However, if you get the gimmick down, you can routinely wreck overplayed meta garbage!
- The Flavor! These dark horse models, crews, and factions are often rediculously fun to play. Look at the Apex keyword. By all means, it is not the most powerful crew in explorers or Malifaux. However, Apex is ridiculously fun to play and you are hunting people and animals. I loved playing ratcatchers in guild ball because they had a cool disease mechanic that you just didn’t see anywhere in the game. Dark horse models usually give you a lot of the fun mechanics in the game.
- You get to be a snowflake! I went to Spring Fling in 2018 and I was the only Union Player there. I got to feel special and unique and i went 4-2 in the tournament with an underpowered faction!
- You get to test your metal and skills in the game. When you play an underplayed or underpowered faction, it really tests how good you are at the game. Especially if you can beat the new hotness and OP models with your Dark Horse models. I’ll never forget beating the overpowered demons of chaos with my orcs and goblins in 7th edition Warhammer Fantasy. Man were they surprised!
This all sounds great! However there are some negatives to playing a Dark Horse faction. You are going to lose a lot at first! A lot of these dark horse models are dark horses because they are either hard to play, underpowered, or overpriced. It is going to take a while for you to figure out how to best use these pieces to beat models that are just flat out better. A lot of people just don’t have the will to grind out a bunch of games with bad models!
I bring up the Dark Horse because I love the underdog and we are going to start recording a series at RQW focused on Dark Horses that we love to play in Malifaux! The first one will come out this week and it is focused on WONG! Bolo! (Be on the look out for you non military folk)