Ogre Kingdoms: In Defense of Hunters
So hopefully by now, all of you who enjoy sweaty larders as much as I do, have played a few games with the new book and tried out everything there is to offer. After playing a few games, I feel that the Hunter is an underutilized unit in the army book. You may disagree, but hear me out...
So what does this hunter look like on paper? For 130 points, you have a Bruiser stat line, but with a boost to LD9 and a respectable BS 4, he comes with a Hand Weapon, Light Armor and a Great Throwing Spear (12" range, S+1, Quick to Fire). The Hunter is a Loner, which means that nobody can use his LD (except Sabretusks), and he can't be the general. A Hunter's equipment options include an Additional Hand Weapon, Ironfist, Great weapon, Harpoon Launcher and Blood Vulture (pick 1 from the list). A Harpoon Launcher is usually a decent choice, offering you a 36" S6 D3 wounds weapon, though when you're not mounted it becomes Move or Shoot. The other unique equipment option is the Blood Vulture, which gives you a S4 Sniper weapon, if it didn't have to roll to hit, I'd consider it, but since you only get one choice from the list, I would skip it.
On top of the equipment options, your Hunter can take 50 points of magic items and big names. Lastly, your hunter has the option to take a Stonehorn, which I'll go over later. So after looking over the equipment, and realizing that your awesome Hunter can't fight in units, you need to figure out exactly what you can use them for. There are are 3 options on how you will run a Hunter: alone, with Sabre Tusks, on a Stonehorn.
All by myself
Taking a Hunter on foot with no back up may seem like suicide, but it can actually be a wonderful use to get a cheapish monster running around and being a huge pain in the neck. At the end of the day, a Hunter still has an impressive stat line which rivals many actual monsters in the game. When running alone, I would recommend Long Strider, to move up to M7, and some sort of ranged protection like the Shield of Ptolos, plus whatever close combat option you fancy. This allows him to shrug off most ranged shooting long enough to charge someplace tender.
Run with the Wolves
Building on the same idea of a Hunter being a speedy torpedo of fat and fists, you could run a Hunter with some Sabretusks. At 21 points a piece, these guys are pretty cheap and have a very impressive stat line. With the Hunter, the unit's typically low LD of 4 is increased to 9, and they gain the ability to Vanguard, though as a down side, the Hunter is going to be slowing them down significantly with M6. Increasing the Hunter's movement with Long Strider is again a good idea, which makes the unit M7 Swiftstride. Running a Hunter with Longstrider, some magic items and 8 Sabretusk is going to run you a mere 348 points to have a unit which is dishing out as many attacks as an Ogre, on a more narrow frontage and has WS/I 4. On top of that, they're making Vanguard moves and have Swiftstride, so if you go second, you could end up with a very nice first turn charge.
The last option I'm going to talk about is the wonderful and dreaded Stonehorn. This guys stats are sporting multiple 6's, and it does a whole boat load of Impact hits. You can read more about the strengths of the Stonehorn by itself on my article "Ogre Tactics: Stonehorn vs Thundertusk!" There are a few reasons to consider taking this as a mount for your Hunter; for me, the biggest reason is that the Hunter is LD9, meaning that your monster is much less likely to run when things turn sour, there is nothing more embarrassing than a massive Stonehorn running off the field because he got a little spooked by some Night Goblins. Another reason for taking a Stonehorn as a mount is that it means you're not using up your precious Rare points, so you could still take a pair of Ironblasters and a Thundertusk without going over your limit. The last benefit of being a Hunter mount is the Hunting Beast rule, which until a FAQ comes out, seems to overwrite the normal way that characters on mounts are affected by shooting attacks ("any shooting attacks against he model will hit the Stonehorn on a D6 roll of 1-4, and the Hunter on a roll of 5+" - p.53, Ogre Kingdoms), this means that 1/3 of all the weak shots that would normally wound the Stonehorn are now hitting the Hunter instead, and 2/3 of the cannonballs that would normally splatter the Hunter across the field impact into the Stonehorn instead.
When running a Hunter on Stonehorn, I typically give him the Shield of Ptolos (1+ save to range), the Berserker Sword (Frenzy and thus Immune to Psychology). The only down side is that at 425 points, it puts a large strain on your Hero choices, meaning you have to choose between a L2 caster and a BSB in normal 2500 point games.
So there you have it! Hopefully you'll give these fur clad fatties the credit they deserve on the field and give them a try!
Extra credit to anyone who knows the bands who play the songs I used for titles.
Featured photo credit to Carl of 40kOnline.com