Ogre Tactics: Stonehorn vs Thundertusk!
Hey my fellow fattie lovers! I was inspired by eating animal hearts (as well as about 15 pounds of other cuts of red meat) last night at a Brazilian BBQ to talk a bit about my favorite lummoxes. Today, I'm going to analyze the Stonehorn and the Thundertusk and talk about which one would be best for you! It's no secret that I love the new Ogre Kingdoms book, as well as the wonderful toys it has given my larders to play with. The biggest new units in the book though are no doubt the Stonehorn and Thundertusk. Each weighing in at 250 points, you've got a hefty decision to make, do you go for the direct offensive Stonehorn or the army supporting Thundertusk? To make our decision, lets take a look at each of the units in more detail.
First up we have the less subtle of the choices, the Stonehorn. This guy enjoys long walks on the mountain and eating rocks. Do you remember that kid in your 4th grade class that was ate rocks? He wasn't very bright, but he was also built like an ox, well that my friend was your first encounter with a Stonehorn in the wild!
Boasting an impressive statline, consisting of a healthy dose of 6's, the Stonehorn is no doubt one of the more superior units in Fantasy for close combat fighting. On the charge, you're inflicting 3D3 impact hits and if you roll a 10+ that goes up to 3D3+3; these impact hits are in lieu of your normal attacks (which is 5 +frenzy), but you still get the rider and Thunderstomps. The beast itself is a fair pain in the butt to kill, having 6 wounds a 4+ save and it's Stone Skeleton which halves the number of wounds suffered from multi-wound attacks, meaning it will take 3-4 cannonball hits to fell on average! On it's back you have an ogre rider, who boasts a regular ogre statline, except with BS3. The Ogre is equipped with a Chaintrap, which is pretty poor (12" S6 killing blow), but you can exchange that for a Harpoon Launcher (36" S6 D3 wounds) for FREE! I honestly can't see why you wouldn't take that later option, even though it is unlikely that you will be not marching or charging.
If all that wasn't good enough, you can take this guy as a mount for a Hunter. Now, a lot of people don't think particularly like this, I however think this is a very viable option. When you put a Hunter on this monster, 1/3 of the shooting attacks that would hurt your beast are now hitting your hunter, effectively increasing the number of wounds the whole unit has, additionally, the Hunter is LD9, so you are not as reliant on your General's LD or the BSB to get this monster into the enemy lines. When considering a Hunter on Stonehorn, you must consider two things: Survivability and Delivery. For survivability, I am giving my Hunter the Shield of Ptolos, which gives him a 1+ save to ranged attacks, meaning those pesky bow/xbow shots should bounce harmlessly off. As far as Delivery goes, I give my Hunter the Berserker Sword, which should ensure that the Hunter is Frenzied and thus Immune to Psych, that way you wont turn tail after a silly panic test. This combination means that your Hunter and Stonehorn are well suited to stampede down the flank of your enemies army and crush everything in their path. Another viable option is to give your hunter the Armor of Preservation and a Great Weapon, this will give the Hunter a 4+/4++ save and a nice great weapon, but is more susceptible to small arms fire and could run away before he gets in the fight, although it is still a very good equipment set up.
As far as tactics go, your first instinct is often to stick him on the flank where it can use it's M7 to make it down the flank of the enemy. Unfortunately, this is a terrible idea, the Stonehorn Rider is only LD7, so all it takes is a panic test or two and your 250 point beast is running back to the hills. This monster is best served in the middle of your line, where it can use your generals LD and/or the BSB re-roll to keep it in the fight long enough to hit the enemy. Once you get a charge off though, all bets are off, as this guy is going to crunch through enemy units and cause all sorts of destruction.
The Stonehorn is a rather large, comparatively slow moving mammoth thing, which has about 10 Aces up it's sleeve (or matted in it's fur). Still sporting an impressive statline, it has one less attack in close combat than the Stonehorn, but boasts an extra rider, so it can still deal out a punishing amount of attacks.
This monster, unlike the Stonehorn isn't meant though entirely for it's close combat prowess, instead it acts as a force multiplier, who can still step on some heads in a fight. The first ability I will mention is called the Sphere of Frost-wreathed Ice, which is a fancy way of saying a big frackin' snowball. Using it's freezing breath, the Thundertusk generates a (snow) ball of ice shards and hurls it at the enemy, this has the same effect as a Stonethrower, but with a range of 6-24", and nothing bad happens on a Misfire. Additionally, the monster can fire this on the move, meaning it has an effective maximum range of 30", combined with the Harpoon Launcher of one of the riders, you could actually cause 2D3 wounds on a monster at that range, which could catch a lot of people off guard, and since the Thundertusk is a smooth ride, the harpoon isn't going to suffer the penalty for moving and shooting as well.
The second special ability the Thundertusk boasts is probably the most imporant, it is called Numbing Chill. This ability makes all enemy models within 6" suffer from the Always Strikes Last rule. Ho-lee crap! Let me say that again. Any enemy within 6" is going to have it's spine realigned by the finest of ogre chiropractor (Dr. Spiky-club) before they have a chance to react! That is absolutely solid gold! Having this unit charge alongside a solid unit of bulls means that you will deal your full number of attacks before the enemy can reduce your numbers. I run my Thundertusk right inbetween my Ironguts and my Bulls, meaning that I can have it charge alongside the unit that needs the support the most, but in either case, the opponent is going to suck down the full 24+ ogre attacks before having the chance to do anything about it. I should point out that the rule does specify enemy "models" within 6", so until FAQ'd otherwise, if you're at one corner of a horde, the guys on the end may still get a few attacks through, but that will hopefully not be enough to cause any problems for you.
So... What should I take?
I hate saying things like "well, it's all down to your personal preference" so I wont. To break it down nicely, if you are running an army that has plenty of hard hitting attacks already, then the Stonehorn, as fun as it is, will probably be redundant. If your army has a lot of basic Bulls or Ironguts, and especially if you're facing an army with a lot of high initiative high strength attacks (I'm looking at you WoC), then the Thundertusk will really be a devastating choice. So take a good look at your list figure out if you're a little low on the hard hitting units, or if you'll be suffering from your low initiative more and take the one that fits.
On a final note, I own both, and either one is a great choice, so I really have to suggest the age old method of playing a few games with a headless, backless monster glued to a massive base and figure out which one works best for your list.