Author Topic: Warhammer Fantasy Army Review: Orcs & Goblins  (Read 9095 times)

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Offline Scuzgob

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Warhammer Fantasy Army Review: Orcs & Goblins
« on: June 28, 2012, 11:02:04 PM »
Yes, Warhammer Fantasy isn't as popular on 3++ as its sci-fi brother, but now that 3++ has a forum I can post stuff about it without having to bug Kirby!
If anyone remembers, he did post my review of the Common Magic Items on the blog, and since then I've been on-off writing reviews for the 8th edition army books. At the moment I'm doing Orcs & Goblins (yes its behind the times a lot but who cares) and after that's done I'm open to suggestions. I'll even review the two Warhammer Forge books if enough folks want it. So lets get this going then. Also if someone can tell me if there is a limit to the size of a post here that would be super helpful.

Part 1. Introduction & Army Rules

Poor Orcs & Goblins. Nobody seems to give them much attention. Here is their new book, much like the old book, it seems, still rumbling along on the most basic method of Warhammering; line up loads of green guys, run them at the enemy, and punch them until they stop rolling dice at you. Ho hum, seen it before, move along, nothing to see here.
This is not true. Well, it is, but it’s not quite that straightforward for the greenskins.

Orcs & Goblins can be seen as the Space Marines of Warhammer Fantasy in more ways than one. Like Space Marines, tradition dictates they get the first updated army book each time a new edition rolls around and thus may bear the brunt of the designer still being stuck in the previous edition. Like Space Marines, they welcome beginners, being numerous enough and tough enough to punch through early mistakes as you learn the game. Like Space Marines, they have ready to go units that can do a variety of jobs adequately and with little fuss, but can’t do any stellar performances. And, like Space Marines, they don’t have much that sets them apart from the more unusual and more specialised forces. They’re basic, solid, dependable, and some would say boring. They do their job and they do it well, but not many would say they do it with any flair. But with a bit of close inspection, their 8th edition outing may just change this viewpoint.

So what are the strengths of Orcs & Goblins? Their units pack a big punch, sending handfuls of medium to high Strength attacks into enemy faces, and their characters can hit even harder. Orcs & Goblins also boast some of the cheapest units and characters in the game, letting them swamp their enemies under a sea of green. Only Skaven, Tomb Kings and Vampire Counts will be able to outnumber them, and even then, only just. They’re also surprisingly shooty, having a large number of bow-wielding units in their ranks, and many other armies will struggle to throw down as many war machines as the greenskins. They can be fast too, with plenty of mounted units and chariots to choose from.

And choose you will, for Orcs & Goblins have, hands down, the most units of any army book in both Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40,000, to the tune of fifty two different unit entries, each with its own role to play. You could base your army around about six or so different themes: you could have normal Orcs in a big pile, normal Goblins in a big pile, an all mounted force of Wolf Riders, Chariots and Boar Boyz (in a big pile), Night Goblins in a big pile with the addition of weird spinning buggers, a big pile of Orcs that have ward saves and frenzy, or even a big pile of Goblins riding varying sizes of spider, if there’s an arachnophobe you need to piss off. However, for Orcs & Goblins to truly shine, a mix is needed. Taking nothing but Orc units denies you war machines and most of the faster units, taking nothing but Goblins denies you blocks of solid face-punching infantry and powerful beatstick characters. It can be quite difficult to get a good balance, and as we’ll see in this series, to get the most out of Orcs & Goblins you have to utilise the vast and varied list of units together as a true army rather than just keeping to the idea that Orcs & Goblins is just four separate greenskin armies in one book.
This, my friends, is going to take some time.
But first, the army rules. Like the other WHFB armies, Orcs & Goblins has its own collection of army-wide special rules.

Animosity
Unfortunately, many Orc & Goblin units are governed by some ‘hilarious’ random dice rolling antics, and as we all know, random dice tables are why Possessed and Chaos Dreadnoughts are so widely used. At the start of your turn, every unit that suffers from Animosity rolls a D6, with some exceptions. ‘Suffers’ is the right word, as rolling a 1 on this dice can stall or at worst severely mess up your battle plans. Units have to be more than 5 models strong, not in a fight or building, and not fleeing or off the table to test. So obviously the best way to avoid Animosity is to get stuck in with the enemy, but until then it’s going to have its merry way with your units.

If a unit rolls a 1, it goes on to roll on the Animosity table. The Animosity table is mostly bad, of course. Heaven forbid a roll of a 1 has the greenskins become inspired by Gork & Mork and get improved for a turn, no.

A second 1 on the table results in your unit having a go at another friendly unit that suffers from Animosity. They pelt each other with rocks and suchlike, dealing D6 S3 hits to each other, with hordes dealing 2D6 hits instead. Not entirely that bad, as every unit that suffers from Animosity should be able to easily soak up these hits. After this, both units can’t do anything else for a turn. Suffice to say you don’t want this to happen, your army has the enemy to deal with without having itself start shooting at...itself. At least this result is unlikely.

A 2-5 on the table of fun results in the unit either declaring a charge or doing absolutely nothing for a turn. There’s not really much you can do about this, but you can at least declare a charge, even against something you’ve no hope of reaching, so the unit can bumble forwards. If it does make a successful charge, chances are you were planning to do that anyway.

A 6 is the only good thing on the Animosity table. The unit pivots on the spot to face the closest visible enemy (the visible enemy before it pivots, subject to the usual forward arc sight line, so the unit isn’t going to spin around in case there’s an enemy behind it), moves directly towards said enemy unit, and must then declare a charge against this enemy. The bonus here is that it essentially doubles the unit’s movement for charging, great on the faster units. If there’s somehow no enemy in sight, the unit gets a free bit of movement and then can carry on with its turn as normal. However, it’s definitely not something to depend on. You’re lumped with Animosity, whether you like it or not, but it won’t totally wreck every game.

Choppas
Luckily, we have the Choppas rule to even things out a bit for the Orcs. Every unit with this rule gets +1 Strength during its first round of combat, not too shabby at all. The best part is where it stacks with any other Strength bonuses the unit might be getting. Orcs with great weapons get a meaty +3S in the first round, and it’s quite easy to reach S10 with Lord characters. You don’t even need to make a charge for this bonus; you’ll still get it on the receiving end of a charge too. A nice rule, and better when you consider that it’s a free upgrade from the previous edition.

Big ‘Uns
Not really a rule and more of an upgrade. Several Orc units in the army have the option of being upgraded to Big ‘Uns, though only one unit may have the upgrade per army. Big ‘Uns get a bonus to their Weapon Skill and Strength, and while expensive and not vital to an army, they can pack a punch, especially with the Choppas rule above. For example, when upgraded to Big ‘Uns, even the basic Orc unit strikes at a respectable Strength 5 in its first round of combat. Not bad for one of the cheaper Core units in the game. However, due to being a once an army deal, you might want to save this upgrade for a powerful alpha striking unit, like a fully upgraded mob of Boar Boyz.

Size Matters
A little rule that goes a long way to helping the greenskins. Goblins, being Skaven with none of the ratty advantages, will be running away a lot. Orcs, quite rightfully, don’t give a damn if this happens.

Fear Elves
Just to lower the Goblins even more, any unit of High Elves, Dark Elves and Wood Elves (and any other manic variety that Forge World might decide to pump out) counts as causing Fear for them. Fear isn’t as big a deal as it used to be, and with the Battle Standard around, this won’t have as big an impact as you might think. Besides, they’re Goblins, their Weapon Skill is already so bad it doesn’t matter if they fail the Fear test anyway!

And those are the special rules for the greenskins. Next post will be about their Core choices. Usually in a review you might expect to see characters first, but I believe that the O&G Core choices define the army more than their characters do.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2012, 11:04:24 PM by Scuzgob »

Offline Scuzgob

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Re: Warhammer Fantasy Army Review: Orcs & Goblins
« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2012, 01:29:17 AM »
Part 2: Core

Orcs & Goblins have a good variety of Core units available. They have some average combat and shooting units, which due to their cheap cost allows them to be easily horded up. Savage Orcs are a slightly better combat unit than normal Orcs, and two fast units are available with Wolf Riders and Spider Riders.

Orc Boyz
The most basic of the basic Orc units, Orc Boyz are the simple foot soldiers of the O&G army. Their statline is mostly the same as the standard human statline in Fantasy, except they lose a point of Initiative and gain a point of Toughness. Given that the average Strength value in WHFB is S3, this makes them sort of tough. Added to this, they get a hand weapon and light armour, and with the Choppas rule they’ll be striking at S4 when they get into combat. For an extra point apiece, they can be outfitted with spears or extra hand weapons, and shields. So far so average, but nothing to write home about. The unit can do well with hand weapons & shields for the parry save, or just Orcs with spears in a large block. If you want to give them pairs of hand weapons, you may as well go all out and get Savage Orcs instead.

Things get interesting with the Big ‘Uns upgrade. For 2 points per Orc you get to boost their Weapon Skill and Strength to 4. Not so flashy, but combined with Choppas they hit at S5 in the first round of combat, which is pretty good for a Core choice. The Big ‘Uns also get the option for a magic standard too. This means that a unit of spear-wielding Big ‘Uns can pack quite a punch for a Core choice, while still being relatively cheap. Such a unit is a good place to start when building an army, but you might want to save the Big ‘Uns upgrade for other units.

Orc Arrer Boyz
For a point more than normal Orc Boyz, you get Orc Boyz with bows and none of the options apart from command. It’s...not that great. You can get roughly double the Goblins or Night Goblins for the cost of Arrer Boyz, and the only downside is slightly shorter range as Goblins use short bows. Arrer Boyz are only here if you want a shooting unit in an all-Orc force, otherwise it’s best to pass on these and get a big unit of Goblin bowmen.

Savage Orcs
The mad southern jungle Orcs cost 2 points more than their normal Orc brothers, and those two points net you Frenzy and a 6+ ward save, two big bonuses for a Core choice. If you want lots of proper combat units for Core with no regards for theme, go for Savage Orcs over Orc Boyz every time.

They have roughly the same options as Orc Boyz, but some are better for these Orcs than others. Extra hand weapons are worth taking over spears as the Savage Orcs will put out three attacks per model with this option. A horde of Savage Orcs, at least 30 models, gets three ranks of attacks in a fight. 30 Savage Orcs in three ranks of ten puts out 90 attacks, while the same unit armed with spears gets 60 attacks. 40 Savage Orcs in the same formation with spears will put out 80 attacks from four ranks, while the same unit with extra hand weapons still gets the 90. However, the unit will be taking wounds as it moves towards the enemy. The 40 Savage Orcs with spears will start losing attacks from the start as they suffer casualties, while the ones with the pairs of weapons have to be dealt 10 wounds before they lose any. I’m not the mathhammer sort, but extra hand weapons are better for the Savage Orcs no matter their unit size.
Shields aren’t needed at all as they have no light armour to stack the save with, so any S4 shot will ignore it. The Parry save is pointless because they already have a 6+ ward, and even if they didn’t have the ward save, they wouldn’t get the Parry save due to being Frenzied anyway. Pass on bows for the same reasons you pass on Arrer Boyz, and anyway, a shooting unit with Frenzy is just silly.

Savage Orcs also get a totally new option in the form of Big Stabbas. For a relatively paltry cost to upgrade the unit, you can have one of the models in the front rank make D3 S5 impact hits when the unit charges. Technically, S6, as the errata notes that the Choppas rule does affect the Big Stabba as it is the Orcs themselves causing the hits instead of any chariot or beast they may be riding. That’s pretty good for its cost, and it also gets D3 multiple wounds when poking a Large Target, for 9 potential wounds when you hit a big thing. Since Savage Orcs are a good combat unit that likes charging, Big Stabbas are never a bad idea.

Savage Orcs also get the same upgrade to Big ‘Uns as Orc Boyz (except with no option for a magic standard) which raises their cost a little more. However, a horde of Savage Orc Big ‘Uns, armed with pairs of hand weapons and Big Stabbas, puts out a surprising number of Strength 5/6 hits when it charges, not bad at all for a Core choice.

Mechanium

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Re: Warhammer Fantasy Army Review: Orcs & Goblins
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2012, 09:27:09 AM »
Your numbers are off with the savage hoard there, its only pumping out 50 attacks with either option. The xhw takes the cake though for letting each boy throw 3 attacks into a flanker, whereas the spear is all frontal.

Don't get me wrong, savages are probably one of the best hoards in the game (and unchallenged for that title in core) but they're not that good.

Offline Scuzgob

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Re: Warhammer Fantasy Army Review: Orcs & Goblins
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2012, 12:17:00 PM »
Your numbers are off with the savage hoard there, its only pumping out 50 attacks with either option. The xhw takes the cake though for letting each boy throw 3 attacks into a flanker, whereas the spear is all frontal.

Don't get me wrong, savages are probably one of the best hoards in the game (and unchallenged for that title in core) but they're not that good.

you're completely right there, i forgot about that limit to supporting attacks. i'll update that part of the review when i have time, but unfortunately real life has pretty much postponed this for the moment.

Mechanium

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Re: Warhammer Fantasy Army Review: Orcs & Goblins
« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2012, 10:51:15 AM »
Makes sense, I'm a little rusty on WHFB too thanks to the 40k edition swap eating all my brain time, usually I prefer WHFB, and I really hope we can get some good discussion rolling on this forums.

Offline Zero

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Re: Warhammer Fantasy Army Review: Orcs & Goblins
« Reply #5 on: August 30, 2012, 06:34:29 PM »
Personally I'd go with extra hand weapons or shields on standard Boyz, and would never touch the spears. The hand weapons simply have far too many advantages over the Spear's mere single advantage, and the Spears + Shields comes at a higher cost too.

First of all, the hand weapons get you an extra attack both when you charge and when you get charged.

Then there's the point about losing attacks from losing models. A unit of 20 Boyz, 4x5, only needs to lose 5 models before it starts losing attacks with spears (and that's only if you get charged, otherwise you lost those attacks anyway), while the enemy needs to chew through 10 of them before they can start hurting your offensive abilities with the extra hand weapons. So a unit with 10 Boyz left will get 10 attacks with spears and 15 with Hand weapons, 5 will get 5 with spears and 10 with extra hand weapons. So the extra hand weapon Boyz are clearly vastly more offensive.

The only benefit the Spears have is that they can be combined with Shields for a slightly better save, but they miss out on the Parry Save and it comes at a higher cost.

If you want your Orcs to survive, just take shields and hand weapons. If you want them to kill stuff, take extra hand weapons.

I do agree that Savage Orcs are better in terms of killing power though.
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