Age of Sigmar Tactics: Gutbusters Units
Near and dear to my heart are the Ogre Kingdoms of Warhammer Fantasy. After the transition to Age of Sigmar and The General's Handbook, they've taken my army and given me two instead! While the Beastclaw Raiders are a low model count shock army, ploughing monsters and cavalry down the throat of your opponent, the Gutbusters take a different approach to pulverizing their prey... THEY BLAST 'EM! Not to say that they aren't a low model count army full of ogors that will bash their opponents in close combat, because they definitely are, they also however happen to bring along an array of ranged weaponry to tenderize the enemy first.
Ogors are defined by their sheer brutality. They're long-legged covering ground relatively fast, while being hugely resilient with a massive pile of wounds. In combat Ogors beat their enemies down with mighty clubs and meaty fists. It should come to no surprise that melee is their preferred method of fighting, and even the units which seem dedicated to ranged combat, still perform exceptionally well up close.
Chief among Gutbusters is the Tyrant, he's the biggest, baddest ogor in the army. First thing to look at, other than his impressive stats, is his Command Ability, Bully of the First Degree, and as the only unit in Gutbusters with one, makes for an obvious general. This command ability is very similar to Inspiring Presence, but it makes the unit immune to Battle Shock for the remainder of the game (though they suffer D3 mortal wounds when used on them), provided the Tyrant is still alive. Ogors across the board have kind of a miserable Bravery attribute, and while they aren't particularly susceptible to Battle Shock, losing any models is a huge pain. One particularly great use of this ability is to eat D3 Gutbuster Grots, making the rest of their massive unit an even more effective road block.
In addition to a very helpful Command Ability, the Tyrant is an absolute monster in combat, capable of going toe-to-toe with most behemoths, and even dish out a couple wounds at range. The three melee weapons seem to be pretty similar at first glance, the two slicers, and massive ogor club both having a max damage output of 12 wounds. If you aren't using Battle Brew, then the massive club is the winner for choice of combat weapons causing 6.66 wounds/turn, pair of clubs are at 5.93 wounds (assuming 5+ armor), and the great gouger comes in last at 5 wounds, with Battle Brew however, this all changes...
When it comes to Artefacts of Destruction, Battle Brew is almost always the one you go for first, and for good reason, as it drastically improves the damage output. The Talisman of Protection is another alternative, giving you a 4+ save against Mortal Wounds, that can help keep your Tyrant around longer, but for my money, I want my Tyrant to beat face in. If you're using the Battle Brew, all of your melee weapons will hit on 2+ and wound on 2+, this gives the pair of clubs an average damage output of 9.72 wounds, while the Massive Ogor Club will deal about 8.33 wounds. The massive club has a greater reach and rend, which is worth considering since a unit with a 5+ save will reduce the pair of clubs to about 8.10 wounds. Finally there is the Great Gouger, it's similar to the massive club, though with an impressive 3" reach, less attacks (3), and a special ability to cause double damage on 6's to-wound, giving a maximum output of 18 wounds! Needing a 6 to-wound would normally be a deal breaker for me, but when used with Battle Brew, it's going off on a 5+, or a 4+ when you take a double swig. After a single-swig, you should be dealing about 8.75 wounds a turn, though after a double swig your average damage goes up to an impressive 10. In the end, the Great Gouger has the higher average damage output, and with a double-swig can potentially devastate a unit.
The sole spell-caster of the Gutbusters, the Butcher is much more durable than most other wizards. Each time the Butcher successfully casts a spell, on a 2+ he heals a lost wound, though on that pesky 1, you instead suffer a mortal wound. Since you can only cast one spell a turn, you aren't going to be healing a ton each turn, but when you have 7 wounds to begin with, this can make you a bit more annoying to kill. As far as spells go, the Butcher has the standard Arcane Bolt and Mystic Shield, though he also has a unique spell, Voracious Maw. like Arcane Bolt, this inflicts D3 mortal wounds, but then you roll another dice, and on a 4+, you inflict yet another D3 mortal wounds, continuing this until you stop rolling a 4+, or when the unit is dead... A potentially devastating spell, and it only needs a 7+ to cast.
The Butcher also has another piece of optional wargear, the Great Cauldron, the Skragg the Slaughterer model has found a new lease on life. In each of your hero phases you may use the power of the cauldron and roll a dice: 1 means you suffer D3 mortal wounds; 2 heals the butcher for D3 and all ogor models within 14" for 1 wound; 3-4 gives one unit within 14" +1 to hit; and 5-6 inflicts D3 mortal wounds on each enemy unit within 7". Overall a pretty great piece of equipment, though it may not always give you what you need when you need it. Additionally, it replaces your Cleaver or Tenderizer with a pair of Stump Blades, slightly increasing your effectiveness in close combat.
One non-standard use of the Butcher would be making him your General, instead of a Tyrant. This allows him to sit back safely and use Bellowing Tyrant to grant some of your longer-range units a bonus to hit, as well as the potential bonus from the Great Cauldron. The only magic item I'd consider on a Butcher is the Talisman of Protection to help protect you from yourself, though that's only if I'm not taking a Tyrant with Battle Brew (and why wouldn't I be doing that?). Even if I had a Battalion, granting me a second magic item, it would just make me more likely to take a second Tyrant, haha.
Now we get to the meat and potatoes of the army. A natural Battleline unit, Ogors bring a lot of hitting power for a moderate price tag. Sporting 4 wounds each and marching along at a healthy 6", these meat heads get into combat surprisingly quickly, especially with Rampaging Destroyers. Their command options are fantastic, the Bellower reducing enemy Bravery, while their standard options either cause extra enemies to run from battleshock, or allow you to re-roll 6's for your own battleshock tests and lets you ignore wounds and mortal wounds from missile weapons on a 6 (hint, take this one if your local meta only allows a single choice). The melee options are either a pair of Ogor Clubs and Blades, which allows you to re-roll 1's to hit, or you can take an Iron Fist, which inflicts a mortal wound on enemies within 1" for each save roll of 6+ you make. Personally, I prefer the later choice, but that's because I love anything that can inflict some mortal wounds. Finally, if all that wasn't enough, on the charge Ogors re-roll 1's to wound, and in the rare case you have 10+ ogors in the unit, they can re-roll all failed wounds, though I don't see that happening often. Since each model has 3 attacks, which cause potentially 2 damage each, buffs to hit and wound can really go a long way in increasing the damage output of a unit.
Overall, Ogors are a fantastic Battleline choice, you really can't go wrong with units of 6, though even in units of 3 can still deal some serious damage. I probably wouldn't run all 3 of my Battleline as units of 6 Ogors, but if you're mixing in other non-Gutbuster choices, it's not a bad option. At first glance they seem expensive, but when you actually do the math, they're very comparable to Brutes, you can get 9 Ogors for the price of 10 Brutes, which is pretty damn good if you ask me.
When bashing heads isn't enough, try blasting 'em! The primary ranged unit of Gutbusters, and the second Battleline option (though only Battleline in a pure Gutbusters army), they wield a short-ranged, though fairly hard hitting Leadbelcher Gun. Firing at 12" with D3 attacks, hitting on 4+, wounding on 3+, with -1 rend causing 1 damage, at times their output can feel anemic, while at others it can be devastating. Since all of your other units are going to be fighting to get in melee range, it is kind of nice to have a unit that is less concerned about taking up space at the front. If you're in a position that's within range of the enemy, though not within 3" yourself, Leadbelchers can unleash Thunderous Blasts of Hot Metal, increasing their attacks from D3 to D6. In melee, they're much like regular ogors, though less an attack, but gains -1 rend. Like most Gutbuster units, they have abysmal to-hit rolls, and would love +1 to hit by any means.
I can see running them in 3's or 6's, just depending on the points you have available. While they are carrying around massive cannons, don't forget that they're still ogors, and definitely don't mind using those same cannons to bash brains in with. The Thunderous Blasts of Hot Metal rule is fantastic, but don't go overboard trying to use it, if you have the chance to charge into combat, getting two attacks that cause 2 damage each is better than trying for the D6 shots.
If Ogors weren't beefy enough for you, don't worry, Ironguts are here for you. They're far more expensive than a regular ogor, nearly double, but man do they pack a wallop. Their melee weapons have an improved 2" reach, -1 rend and inflict a full 3 Damage per wound. The 2" reach is amazing when you can use it, allowing your Ironguts to fight over the heads of even other ogors, or over two-deep ranked grots, and giving them +1 to hit from Bellowing Tyrant or your Great Cauldron, a unit of 3 will on average inflict over 10 wounds against a unit with 5+ saves. For command options they have the typical champion with extra attack, and bellower to reduce enemy bravery, though their icon is a bit unique. It combines the ability to force extra enemies to flee from battleshock that regular Ogors can get, with an extra bonus that allows them to ignore the effect of enemy spells on a 6. Their special ability, Down to the Ironguts, can mean sheer devastation for your opponent, once per game in the Hero Phase you can activate it, until your next hero phase you can re-roll hit, wound, and save rolls of 1... the caveat being that you can only use this ability after at least one ogor model has fled the battle (failed battleshock).
A big unit of 6 Ironguts is going to run 440 points (220 for 3), or just over 20% of your army at 2000 points, which makes them quite the investment, and taking multiple units seems almost crazy to me, but the odd unit of 3 might have a place to sit behind other ogors or grots to add to their damage potential. Keeping them out of striking distance of the enemy will help keep them alive and get the most for your investment, so use that reach!
Near and dear to my heart are the Gnoblars of old, now rightfully delegated into another category of Grots. Unlike the Gitmob or Moonclan variety, Gutbuster Grots are not battleline, which is probably just fine for the most diminutive of their species. As to be expected by their cost, their stat line is pretty lack lustre with low bravery, and a 6+ save, and in a fight they aren't anything to write home about. That said however, when their numbers increase, they suddenly become a force to be reckoned with. The Screeching Horde rule increases the number of attacks they make (both melee and ranged) the larger the unit is (2 attacks for 20+, 3 attacks for 30+). Now your unit of 40 Grots is firing 120 shots with their sharp stuff, and generating just as many attacks in combat.
Coming in at a mere 100 points for 20, you can put quite a few on the table with minimal investment. Personally, I prefer taking a single large unit to multiple smaller ones to make best use of the Tyrant's command ability, Bully of the First Degree. Grots make an ideal screen for Gutbusters, protecting them from things like Skyborne Slayers and tunneling Stormfiends. Additionally, being on 25mm bases, your 1" reach weapons can swing over their heads, so you can put them 3" in front of your other units to pile in and attack with.
Far more deadly than your typical ogor, a Gorger is a brute in a fight. In combat they put out 4 standard ogor attacks (4+/3+/-/2) plus a distensible jaw attack (4+/3+/-1/D3), so they pack a mean punch in a small package. Gorgers have an extra wound, though slightly lower 6+ save, but overall are resilient enough, what makes them truly deadly though is their unpredictability. Instead of setting up normally, in your first movement phase you can deploy them anywhere on the board, more than 12" from an enemy model. Sadly the 12" distance makes a turn 1 charge very difficult with them, from then on they're free to move, run and charge in the same turn. If your opponent doesn't have them in mind, even a single Gorger can be disruptive to their plans, shredding enemy support characters and artillery alike. Despite Gutbusters having a lot of ranged attacks, Gorgers offer a different, possibly more reliable, method of killing lone characters and small units alike.
Since they only cost 60 points, and can cause so much disruption, I always like taking 1-2 individual Gorgers in an army. I'd like to try bigger units of them some day, and if you have experience running multiple units of 3, please share your experience!
A rightfully feared unit from fantasy past, the Leadblaster is a gigantic cannon, slung to a Rhinox drawn chariot. It has a moderately long range of 6-22", which combined with it's movement of 7 gives you a respectable 29" range. You're firing a single shot, which like most other weapons in the Gutbusters is plagued by a 4+ roll to hit, though mercifully it wounds on a 2+ with -2 rend, causing a solid D6 damage. If you're firing at a unit of 10"+ your chance to hit increases significantly thanks to a re-roll from the Cannon Shell rule. In combat the Ironblaster is still crewed by an ogor, with the same melee stats (3 Attacks, 4+/3+/-/2), plus a single gnoblar attack (1 Attack, 5+/5+/-/1), and a Rhinox (1 Attack, 4+/3+/-1/D3) which also causes an additional point of damage on the charge. Not terribly impressive in combat, but on par with many other chariots, and can cause enough damage in a pinch to help out or defend itself against a small unit sent out to kill it. The Ironblaster is also impressively resilient with 9 wounds and a 4+ save, so even if it does get caught in combat, it can take a while to take down.
At 160 points they aren't a cheap ranged attack, and despite causing D6 wounds, isn't great for sniping characters or monsters thanks to it's poor to-hit value, but against units of 10+ with good saves, this beast can blast a few apart before the rest of your army closes in. It is hungry for +1 to hit, but what isn't in the Gutbusters? I'll be experimenting with a pair of them, but they'll probably be keeping up with the army instead of hanging back to gain that +1 to hit from Bellowing Tyrant.
Similar to the Leadblaster, the Scraplauncher is an artillery unit that is very resilient, but with a not terribly exciting ranged weapon. More accurate than the Leadblaster, the Scraplauncher hits on 3+, though only wounds on 4+ with no rend at all. Should you manage to score a wounding hit on an opponent, it will deal D3 wounds, but against units of 10+ that increases to D6, and against units of 20+ now we're talking with 2D6 damage. In combat they have all the might of 7 Gnoblars and a Rhinox, which isn't much, but at least it's tough enough to survive until help can get there.
A tad cheaper than the Leadblaster at 140 points, unbuffed it only has a 1/3 chance of doing any damage at all, and even with +1 to hit, it is still plagued by it's lack of rend, and it's poor to-wound value of 4+. It can fire out of line of sight, with a staggering 33" range, though odds are any units of 20+ are going to be visible from one angle or another. Unfortunately though, unless you know you're fighting against opponents who regularly run units of 20+ models with poor saves, you're really going to be better off with the more effective Leadblaster.
Other Notable Ogor Units
While this article was meant to cover the Gutbusters, I figured I could also tack on a few other units that you may be tempted to run, especially if you're like me and have a large collection of Ogre Kingdoms from Warhammer Fantasy. I didn't include all the compendium units, mostly because I don't think they're that helpful, and it's looking like they may not be around in the game a whole lot longer, but I have included their Standard Bearer, as it is an incredibly handy unit to have, as well as the Gutbuster Wartribe, the only Battalion available to the Gutbusters.
Some of the most characterful models made by GW for the Ogre Kingdoms were the Maneaters. Each model totally unique, wielding a variety of melee and ranged weapons, it was impossible for me to not end up with all 6 of them. When the General's Compendium hit, I was delighted to see that they weren't listed as a Compendium unit, but rather as a modern allegiance in the game, hopefully meaning one day down the line, we may see some more of these great models.
Maneater stats are similar to a standard ogre, 4 wounds, 6" move, 5+ save, though with Bravery 7, but their weapons are an entirely different story. At range they each have a single attack that hits on 3+, wounds on 3+, has -1 Rend and causes D3 Damage, so if you get lucky, even a small unit can cause some heft damage even before swinging their swords and clubs. Once they're in arms-reach of their enemy, they're dishing out 4 attacks, hitting on 3+, wounding on 3+, with -1 rend and 2 damage, making them considerably more deadly than a regular ogor, on par with an Irongut. To top it all off, at the beginning of the game you can pick one of four special abilities: re-roll 1's to hit in the combat phase; re-roll 1's to hit in the shooting phase; be allowed to run and charge; or not be required to take Battleshock tests. While I don't think re-rolling 1's to hit in shooting is all that great, in combat that's fantastic, running and charging is also pretty awesome, giving you an average 16.5" charge distance.
The cost of a Maneater is a bit on the steep side, at 220 for 3, the same as Ironguts, for that package you have higher damage output (slightly higher in melee, plus their ranged attack), at the expense of a point of armor, and the lack of a Bellower to lower enemy Bravery. Like the Ironguts, I would love to run them in units of 6, but they are quite cost prohibitive, so their minimum unit of 3 is much more likely to get time on the table. It's also worth remembering that if you go this route, your Leadbelchers will no longer be battleline, which is a pretty big deterrent.
Another unit that managed to get it's own allegiance is the Firebelly. As to be expected, he's a decent spell caster, plus has the fighting capability of an Ogre. Slightly longer reach than a Butcher, the Firebelly dishes out 2 attacks at 2", hitting on 4+, wounding on 3+, with -1 rend, causing D3 damage. While this alone isn't impressive, their special spell, Cascading Fire-Cloak, will boost their damage a bit. This spell, cast on a 6, wreaths the Firebelly in flames until your next hero phase. At the end of each combat phase, each enemy unit within 3" of the Firebelly will suffer D3 mortal wounds on a dice roll of 4+, meaning this wizard wants to get in the middle of as many enemies as possible. On top of a decent spell and melee attack, the Firebelly also has missile weapon, Fire Breath, which has a 6" range and will cause D3 mortal wounds on a 4+ to the targeted unit.
Costing the same as a Butcher (140 points) the Firebelly gives you a bit more offensive of a caster that can be up close with the rest of your units, dishing out Arcane Bolts, and Mystic Shield, until you're close enough to use Cascading Fire-Cloak. If you're looking to add a second caster, then the Firebelly might not be a bad choice instead of a second Butcher in Matched Play (since you cannot attempt to cast the same spell twice), but I'm not sure if that's worth losing Leadbelchers as Battleline.
Bruiser Standard Bearer (Compendium)
This is the only Compendium unit I bother with, largely because I'm very happy with the one I converted for my old Ogre Kingdoms army, and is thankfully still classified as Gutbuster. The Bruiser Standard Bearer is the only Totem in the army, though it's the only one you need! If your Bruiser plants the standard (in the hero phase), he may not move until your next hero phase, but until then, all Ogor units within 18" of him are imbued with the hunger of the Great Maw. This power causes any wound rolls of 6+, inflicted by Ogor units within 18" of him, to cause an additional mortal wound, on top of the normal damage. With the amount of wound-rolls you'll be causing in the combat phase, this bonus could be tremendous. On top of this, he is still an Ogor hero in a fight, bringing 4 attacks that hit on 3+, wound on 3+, have -1 rend and cause 2 damage (same as a Maneater), plus a single pistol shot, hitting on 4+, wounding on 3+, has -1 Rend and causes D3 Damage.
For the cost, the Ogre Bruiser Standard is a fantastic asset and will be included in most of my 2k lists, so long as Compendium units are allowed.
Gutbuster Wartribe (Compendium)
Okay, the last thing I'll be reviewing for the Gutbusters, we have their lone Battalion, the Gutbuster Wartribe, which consists of:
- 1 Tyrant
- 1 Butcher
- 3 units of Ogors
- 1 unit of Ironguts
- 1 unit of Leadbelchers
The large number of units required by this battalion means your'e looking at 1040 points worth of units, plus the 60 points for the battalion itself, making it a minimum of 1100 points... Ouch! Fortunately none of the units in the Battalion are really bad, but it does mean a majority of your army composition has been decided for you. In exchange for buying this mighty wall of ogors, you are given the Ogor Charge special rule. After making a charge move, models from this battalion pick a model within 1" and roll a D6, on a 4+ that model's unit suffers 1 mortal wound, if you rolled a 10+ for your charge distance, or the unit of ogors contains 10+ models, it will inflict the mortal wound on a 3+ instead.
It's not an awful battalion overall, and thankfully it's fairly cheap, units aside. One advantage to taking it is that it severely lowers the number of drops your army will have, making it more likely that you can get your choice of turn order at the beginning of the game. For that reason alone, I'll be testing it in my upcoming games, plus hey, getting a second Tyrant with Battle Brew is never a bad thing.
Gutbusters are an unruly horde of fat brutes that win games by bashing apart their enemies and eating their bones, making them right at home in the Destruction Grand Alliance. Currently, the primary reason to run a pure Gutbuster Allegiance is to make Leadbelchers into your Battleline, so if you're not running Leadbelchers, or if you're running 3 units of Ogors anyhow, you may as well look and see what the rest of the Grand Alliance has to offer for support (such as Ironjawz and Beastclaw Raiders). In my early games with them, I've found that they can be very effective, having more bodies than Beastclaw Raiders, but still having the devastating combat ability you should expect from an ogor.
I'll be back again soon with some battle reports and army lists, so stay tuned!