Ogre Kingdoms Tactics: Food for Thought
To say that I love the new Ogre Kingdom book would be an understatement, there isn't anything about this book which doesn't thrill me to the very bones. My enjoyment of the fatties has seen me play quite a few games with them, which in turn has given me quite a bit of experience with these lovable lummoxes, that I will now impart upon you. Every week I will be adding more articles about my fatties, and hopefully allow any aspiring larder to get started on the right foot with the Ogre Kingdoms. Ogre Kingdoms are an elite army above all others. Their troops are resilient, fast and pack a huge punch, though they are not terribly skilled or disciplined. When you're playing a game with the Ogre Kingdoms, or with any army for that matter, it is very important that you build on your strengths while mitigating your weaknesses.
The first stat on the Ogre line is quite an impressive one, a Movement of 6" means that it is much easier for Ogres to pull off a successful charge than their slower enemies. If you haven't already, you should take a look at my Charge Distance Chart from a previous article of mine. Lets imagine that the enemy is 12" away, M4 armies will complete that charge 42% of the time, while M5 armies will succeed 58% of the time, neither of those odds are really fantastic, but the fast M6 Ogre Kingdoms will make that charge 72% of the time! That is a massive advantage, especially compared to M4 armies. To put that in prospective, an Ogre will make a 12" charge as often as a human will make a 10" charge. Using your extra movement, it is easy to put yourself in a position where the opponent has unfavorable odds of success, while you have very good odds. Also, I should note that having that 2" advantage, and getting the charge will mean you get Impact Hits, which are extremely important to the Ogre army for grinding down a foe. Ogres may be fat, but they're still quite spritely.
Ogres have raw strength and toughness values of 4, which makes many elves quite jealous. They're often wounding on 3's and being wounded on 5's, making them a tough force to fight in melee, not to mention their characters who often sport 5's, which are wounding on 2's and being wounded on 6's when compared to your standard 3/3. It's because of these relatively superior stats that charging into a fight with a bunch of spearmen, which can often be intimidating, really isnt' that bad and you'll often win with just your raw power.
On top of good S/T values, Ogres also sport an impressive 3 wounds and 3 attacks, while being monstrous infantry also means that they get 3 supporting attacks as well as a stomp attack! They will take a lot of hits to take down, and because of this, you will often have a lot of supporting attacks. Combined with their high S/T, Ogres are really a hard troop to face down.
Troops aside, the Ogre army has access to devastating monsters, insanely heavy cavalry, versatile Maneaters, the occasional warmachine, and cheap troops to absorb charges, deny steadfast, or add ranks. There are definitely a few ways to play the Ogres, just pick your flavor. You can use the fast and extraordinarily resilient Mournfangs against hordes of low strength troops and just laugh as you grind them away, killing rank after rank, or alternatively, you can something like the Thundertusk, which will make enemies strike last, or even make High Elves lose their lovely re-rolls, or what the hell, take both and really stick it to 'em!
Not all is overpowered stomping for the Ogre Kingdoms. While their troops have fairly impressive stat lines, they are also extremely expensive, weighing in at 30 points for a stripped Bull or 43 points for the slightly more beefy Irongut. Your typical unit of Ogres will probably be about 8 strong, which means you will only have 1 rank when it comes to calculating combat results, and also means that enemy units will almost always be Steadfast.
Aside from their low numbers, Ogres really do lack much of a ranged presence. As far as it goes for hitting the enemy first, you're pretty much restricted to certain Maneater builds (which means expensive), Leadbelchers, Ironblasters and Thundertusks. While this sounds like a lot, with how many points everything in the Ogre army is, you end up spending a lot of points to get a decent ranged presence, and often times, these points are better accentuating the strengths of your army, rather than trying to compensate for the weakness. Thundertusks are always an amazing choice though because they help out your combat blocks, while adding a mobile stone thrower to the army.
The Lore of the Great Maw is a very impressive lore to have, since it is full of AOE buffs, it ends up resembling Lore of Life in a way. The problem with Ogre magic though is that their casters are extremely expensive. If you want that coveted level 4 caster in your army, get ready to suffer the consequences of having a LD8 general in your army. Also, unless you want Lore of Fire or Lore of the Great Maw, you will need to have 2 casters before you have access to the other lores, since at least one of your Butchers must have Great Maw. While not hugely terrible, it is frustrating.
While Ogres do have some impressive raw damage output and resilience, there are a couple stats that really hurt them. The first is their poor WS 3. Almost all ogres in the army, even the elite Ironguts are WS3, meaning that unless the enemy fails a fear test, their impressive number of attacks will be hurt by their low skill, additionally, this also means that enemies will frequently hit you back on 3's, which doesn't feel good. In addition to their low WS, they also have a low Initiative, so they'll be striking at the same time as Orcs and Dwarfs, which frequently results in a few good Ogres dying before they ever get a chance to strike. Possibly the most dangerous low stat for the Ogres though is their Leadership.
Many Most Ogre units sport a LD of 7, which means that if they lose combat, even by 1, they have a good chance of running away, thankfully it should be rare that you lose combat. Ironguts and Maneaters are the exception to this poor LD rule, as they both have a respectable LD of 8, so if you feel like a combat might be risky, it's probably better to use your more strong willed troops, instead of risking having your ~250+ point unit of Ogres get run down by some girly High Elves.
Overall, the Ogres do offer a variety of play styles, though they will almost invariably be based around beating your opponent into paste and grinding their bones for your bread in viscous close combat. If you have been on the fence about the Ogres, I definitely say that they are a very rewarding army to play, for both new and veteran players.
May the feast begin!