Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Preferred Enemies: Ironguts

This installment of the Preferred Enemies will deal with the Ogre Kingdoms Core Unit: The Ironguts.  The Ironguts are one of the most durable units in the Ogre Kingdoms book and have the potential to be one of the most damaging.  The Ironguts possess two features which make them above and beyond better than your standard Ogre.  The Ironguts are able to wear heavy armor and wield a Great Weapon.  Whenever a Core Troop choice is allowed to wield a weapon that is +2 Strength…Houston we have a problem… 
Let’s examine the annoying attributes that a Wood Elf general will have to deal with when combating a unit such as the Ironguts. 
  1. The units has a movement of 6: While this is standard for all Ogres, having a movement of 1” faster than a Wood Elf is definitely problematic because it also allows an Ogre player to nullify your ability to capitalize on speed and maneuverability.
  2. The unit is always Strength 6: The Strength 4 Ironguts become Strength 6 due to the oversized cleavers/axes/etc that serve as great weapons.  Since most of the Wood Elf units have a toughness of 3 and little or no armor save, the Ironguts are able to cleave through them with their great weapons and not need higher than a 2+ to wound.
  3. Ironguts now have amazing synergy with other units in the Ogre Kingdoms army – namely the Thundertusk and it’s Aura of Cold(Frost?/Ice? Oh to hell with it - Aura of ALWAYS STRIKES LAST).  Great weapons are already fantastic, when you get to swing with everyone without taking any casualties – they become even better.
  4. Ironguts are generally the first choice for character buses.  Due to the durability of the Iron Guts, characters often find solace hiding within their ranks.  It has become very common to see either a close combat character or a firebelly housed within a large unit of Ironguts.  The unit serves as a fairly effective bodyguard.
  5. Ogre Charge, Stomp, Fear and the nature of Monstrous Creatures – As you would with any Monstrous Infantry.
  6. The ability to take a magical banner of up to 50 points.  This provides the unit with various options – none of which are favorable to Wood Elves.

So let us do an analysis of an average unit of Ironguts that you would encounter in the local metagame here in Portland.  Folks here normally run them either 4 wide by 2 deep with a character such as a Tyrant or Slaughtermaster.  This set up can be very effective, especially if the unit takes the +1 Leadership banner with a Tyrant wearing the Stubborn crown (granting LD10 to everyone within 12”) or they take a Flaming Banner and go Treeman hunting.  Against your standard 5x5 formation of Core troops, the unit could possibly be pouring out around 21 Strength 6 attacks (in addition to whatever character housed in the unit also strikes with).  Even against another unit with higher initiative and Strength of 4, the Iron guts need to suffer 3 wounds to lose attacks, 6 to lose more and so on.  The combat effectiveness of Monstrous Infantry really shrines through with the Iron Guts.  The other popular method to run Ironguts is the 3x3 where you put a spell-casting character or BSB in the center, this unit type usually is to provide flank charges so that the Ogres are able to disrupt ranks and negate rank bonus.

Wood Elf generals find themselves in a curious position since they can not really deal with Ironguts the way you would the rest of the Ogre Kingdoms army.  The unit has to be softened up with missile fire first before any close combat units considering charging them.  If there is a Thundertusk nearby that will also require some attention since that will more than likely be tied to whatever strategy the opposing player has in mind for his Ironguts.
  1. Ranged Firepower – Glade Guard need to rain down arrows while maneuvering out of charge arch.  They need to get 14” away and on the side as soon as they can in order to take advantage of the Glade Guard bows at short range.  Treemen on the sides using Strangleroot attack to whittle down or cause mayhem.
  2. Magical Offense – if your Spellweaver is using Lore of Beasts then you can attempt to cast Curse of Anhair and then Amber Spear.  The problem with using Amber Spear is that if you fail to wound or the Spear doesn’t do enough wounds to kill, it stops.
  3. Magical Defense – it is not recommended using your heavy close combat units against Ironguts.  The Ironguts are a high strength unit which means that the high toughness units in the Wood Elf army such as Treekin and Treeman lose an advantage that they have against other units.  Namely: Toughness 5/6 and a 3+/4+ armor save.  It is not recommended engaging Ironguts in close combat unless the Treeman or Treekin have been augmented with the Lore of Life spell “Flesh to Stone” providing +2 or +4 toughness or the Lore of Beasts “Wyssan’s Wildform” providing +1 Strength and +1 Toughness.  The advantage that the Treeman and Treekin have is that they are able to negate the armor save of the Ironguts and also they are initiative 2 and 3 respectively which means they strike first. 
  4. Flank Charging – you never want to engage Ironguts in the front.  It is recommended charging the flank or rear.   If you can minimize the amount of attacks that Ironguts can dish out you reduce the amount of damage you will take.
  5. Close Combat – My favored tactics when dealing with Ironguts is to slam into their flank with either Flesh to Stoned Treekin or Wild Riders.  The Treekin will provide a greater effectiveness since they have a higher toughness but you also run the risk of dealing with a unit possessing a flaming banner ( i.e. Flaming Banner? = Wild Riders, no Flaming Banner? = Treekin.  But make sure they are augmented after you resolve your charge)
  6. If there is a Thundertusk nearby – that model gains target priority.  It is better to engage a unit of big Ironguts and strike first rather than a unit of slightly diminished Iron Guts where they strike at the same initiative as you and get all their attacks as well as dealing with a Thundertusk.  The Thundertusk will be fairly susceptible to ranged attacks since it is a Large Target.  The issue with dealing with the Ironguts/Thundertusk combo is that it affects all models within 6” of the Thundertusk which can affect more than one unit.
  7. Tailored Tactics for specific characters –
    1. Firebelly in unit – Ranged attacks to whittle down unit then engage with non-flammable models (i.e. Wild Riders, Dryads or Eternal Guards)
    2. BSB in unit – Ranged attacks to whittle down then flank charge.
    3. Slaugthermaster/Butcher in unit – When there is a spellcaster of this level in a unit, you will want to multi-charge on both flanks and if possible the rear.  You do not want to allow a Slaughtermaster to get their augment spells off if possible
    4. Tyrant in unit – a sneaky yet fun tactic which can frustrate any opponent is to use a Treeman Ancient w/ Annoyance of Netlings or an augmented Elven Hero with an Ogre Blade and Annoyance of Netlings to declare a challenge on a flank charge and not only reduce the amount of attacks to the Wood Elf unit but also makes the hero have to strike the attacker on 6’s.

To summarize the Ironguts Preferred Enemies post, you will need to fully utilize the Wood Elf strengths of Mobility and Ranged Attacks to reduce the unit down in number then you want to flank charge to reduce the amount of attacks the Ironguts can dish out to the attackers.  You never want to allow an Ogre unit to charge due to their new Ogre Charge rules.  Lastly, when making the decision to charge the Ironguts you will need to remember that it requires 3 wounds to reduce the units attacks and that number continues to increase to 6 then 9 etc.. since the Ogres have 3 wounds each and 3 attacks each. 
                Example: You attack a unit of Ironguts and deal 7 Wounds – that unit loses 6 attacks.  You attack the unit and deal 5 wounds it only loses 3 attacks.  It’s important to hedge your bets and use the flank to your advantage against the models with 40mm bases. 

As always please feel free to leave feedback or comments – if the tactics or advice proves helpful then excellent!  If they ruin your hobby well…you should know better than to trust someone who plays Wood Elves as their main army cause there is obviously some shenanigans afoot!

Also, please feel free to download and listen to our podcast “The Deployment Zone” (link in upper right hand corner of blog or on iTunes) and leave feedback.  Thanks!