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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Armies in 8th: Orcs and Goblins: Part Two: The Boyz

In Warhammer Fantasy, typically armies are defined by their choices for a particular Force Allocation slot.  For example, Dark Elf armies are differentiated by their Specials.  The Rare and Core slots are usually very similar from army to army, with the Specials slot being the lynchpin.  Ogres are very similar in that their Specials and Rares are the flavor that dominates the soup.  High Elves are specifically designed to be defined by their Specials.

Orcs and Goblins are one of the ‘working class’ armies, which is to say they are one of the armies defined by the Core choices.  The theme/fluff, tactics, and strategy are determined in a very real way by the Core that fills out your list.  Since the Core is so important, I’ll go into the options and explain how each works.  I’m going to stick to the more competitive choices for the most part, but I will explain why the non-competitive choices are the way they are.

Savage Orcs are the Core heavy hitters in this book.  They are wholly superior to normal Orc Boyz.  They cost two points more, but for those two extra points you get: a 6+ ward, an extra attack, and immunity to psychology.  That’s quite a deal.  The things you lose, like Light Armor, is completely irrelevant.  It is sad that normal Boyz offer nothing to the force besides being cheaper, because the Orc Boy should (in my opinion) be the star of the book.  Either way, Savage Orcs are a fantastic unit.  Most folks kit them out with Additional Hand Weapons.  Combined with Frenzy and the ADH they have three attacks at Strength 4 (thanks to Choppas) which is exceptionally powerful for a core unit.  Sure they only have a 6++ ward for defense, but they are cheaper than most other Core units and ItP so their losses are much less painful. 

Arrer Boyz are much maligned, but I feel this is totally unjust.  Sure, when thrown into an established balanced list a unit or two of them don’t add much.  But when you have an entire army based around a Core of a hundred or so Arrer Boyz, suddenly you have a very powerful unit.  At 7 points each they are a steal, because they come in quantity enough to overcome the quality issues of their shooting.  Add to that they are no slouches in combat, since they are the same stat line and basic equipment of normal Boyz.  So if your opponent does get to your like despite you ridiculous amount of shots, he still has to fight against Str4/T4 Orcs, which is rather intimidating in Fantasy.

Goblin Wolf Riders with Spears are a very useful unit.  They are fast cavalry in your Core, which is always nice, and with spears they are Str 4 on the charge which makes them a definite threat to enemy warmachines.  They have drawbacks: low leadership.  A staple maneuver of Fast Cavalry is breaking in response to a charge and then rallying next turn, which is used to essentially tarpit and slow down more expensive slower enemies, or to get them out of position thanks to the failed charge.  With a leadership of 6, even with a musician upgrade your chances of rallying are not excellent and it takes away a huge reason to bring fast cavalry that other armies have.  That said, OnG are a slow army that is rather vulnerable to enemy warmachines.  Fast cavalry is so essential to a balanced OnG list, that even if they come with serious flaws they have a place in the army.

The last noteworthy Core unit is Night Goblins.  They are the same points as normal Goblins but have one less leadership.  So why on earth are NG competitive but normal Goblins aren’t?    Night Goblin units are almost always going to have a character (or five) in the unit for leadership, so that drawback is irrelevant.  Secondly, they come with excellent upgrade options.  Netters is an expensive upgrade, but having an 84% chance to lower the strength of the unit in combat with you increases the survivability of your unit greatly.  It is especially valuable in Goblin-star units where your entire front row is Night Goblin Heroes with Great Weapons.  It is hard enough for your opponent to kill 5 individual characters, before they get chopped up Str6 attacks (plus lots of normal spear attacks from the back rows) but taking away a point of strength makes the job significantly more difficult. 

Fanatics are the other Night Goblin uber-upgrade.  Everyone who has played Fantasy has a story about Fanatics doing something absolutely devastating to them.   A maxed out 3 Fanatic unit can absolutely devastate even super tough deathstars with the amount of high strength wounds they can put out.  It should also be remembered that they have excellent bluff power too.  Most opponents go out of their way to avoid Fanatics, and a crafty general can use this to his advantage.  By bringing only one Fanatics (or none!) you gain all the deterrent advantage of 3 Fanatics for a much lower price.  This sneaky, very Goblin-like tactic only works in closed list games, obviously, but it can pay tremendous dividends.  No one is dumb enough to send a unit of Knights headlong into a Night Goblin unit if he fears Fanatics, so you can deploy your Night Goblins in such a way as to funnel their Knights exactly where you want them.  Sneaky sneaky.

Orcs and Goblins have a variety of competitive choices in their Core, and how you select them will color your force.  By focusing on a Core of Savage Orcs, you’re going to play a more aggressive, in your face close combat list.  By taking Night Goblins, you’re going to be trending more towards a defensive list.  Arrer Boyz as your primary core means you will probably be playing some kind of gunline list.  That’s a wrap for The Boyz, in Part Three we will discuss The Toyz.

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