lauantai 25. helmikuuta 2017

Animal handlers in 3rd edition WFB

In the comments part of my previous posting LM suggested that I should write about Animal handlers in 3rd edition of Warhammer Fantasy Battle. After doing some research I´ve decided to write not just one but several articles about them. Putting everything in one place would make that single article a very long one. And very time consuming to write. Tackling this beast is better done in smaller steps.

This first posting will discuss the animal handlers in general. The rules, who gets them, pro´s and con´s in general etc. Later on I will look more closely to each army list in WFB: Armies and show you some examples for all the armies that can use animal handlers. And of course look at their strenghts and weaknesses.

The article for Wood Elf Beastmasters is here.
The article for Dark Elf Whelp masters is here.
The article for Chaos Beastmasters is here.
The article for Skaven Beastmasters is here .
The article for Slann animal handlers is here.
The article for Hobgoblin houndmasters is here.
Oddities can be found here.

 Wood Elf animal handler with war hounds. One of the first sets
I painted after discovering Oldhammer and getting back to painting miniatures.

Animal handlers are introduced in the WFB rulebook under the advanced rules part at page 95.  The rules copied here from the rule book are in italic. My thoughts on rules are written below each section.
Some smaller animals may be used in units led and controlled by a single human, or any other intelligent animal handler. Armies permitted to employ beast packs are indicated in Warhammer Armies together with the number of handlers available. Typical examples include wolves used by Goblins and reptilian warhounds used by Slann.
There are five armies in the WFB: Armies book that can take animal handlers: dark elf, wood elf, chaos, skaven and slann. In addition to that Hobgoblin mercenary contingent can have hobhound handlers.

In this opening paragraph we see yet another minor change from the original  rule book to the Armies. Rule book uses goblins with wolves as a typical example, but there are no animal handlers in Orcs & Goblins army list.
1. A pack of beasts must have one or more handler models, one of which is nominated as the unit´s leader.
Well, this is pretty obvious.
2. Beast models must be placed in front of the handlers during movement. A typical beast pack has one or more ranks of beasts in front of one or more handlers. The unit´s leader is placed in the center of the first handler rank.
Again, nothing special here. Just like in the picture above and below- beasts in the front, handler(s) behind them.

A big pack of rat ogres and their handlers by LM.
3. All psychology test are taken using the leader´s profile. If the leader model is slain another handler may take over, and a new leader´s profile is used. The beasts´ profile is not used for psychology unless pack reverts to a wild disposition (see 7 below).
This makes sense to me. It´s the handlers who keep the pack together. If they break and run the pack will do the same. On the other hand it´s the handlers´ will (and whip) that can drive a hesitating pack forward.
4. A pack of beasts may make a single free maneuver during the movement or reserve phase. No additional maneuvers may be attempted.
This rule can be concidered as one of the weaknesses of a beast pack. They are not that maneuverable. You can´t send them on a tricky route that would require multiple wheeling etc.
5. If the unit sustains missile hits the GM must determine whether beasts or handlers are hit. This can only be done fairly by randomizing each hit. For example, if there are 4 handlers and 8 beasts the chance of hitting a beast would be twice that of hitting a handler (eg roll a D6 - 1 or 2 = a handler, 3, 4, 5 or 6 = a beast). If the proportions are not convenient (eg 2 handlers and 7 beasts) always round up the number of beasts to a fraction dividable by a dice roll. This represent the fact that beasts are a more immediate targer and are marginally more likely to be hit.
Another weakness of a beast pack. You can lose the whole unit with some lucky missile shots. For example a unit of three wood elf handlers with total of nine bears is 39 + 180 points when no additional equipment is chosen. Just three (un)lucky shots can take out the whole unit putting the bears to a wild pack mode (see rule 7 below).

Rat ogres lost their handlers to ship company´s arrows and went home.

You can take optional armor for handlers but choosing both shield and light armor will slow you down.
edit.  As brought up by LM in the comments you can add some staying power to a handler team by using animal handler champions as per WFB: Armies page 6.
6. It is likely that a pack´s beasts and handlers have different movement rates. However, we do not wish to seperate handlers from their beasts as this would lead to confusion. Therefore, a pack normally moves at the rate of it´s handlers or beasts whichever is slower. However, a pack charges and pursues at the movement rate of the beasts regardless of whether handlers are faster or slower. This is an exception to the normal movement rules.
edit. I had missed some part of the rules in part 6. This way written they are clear.
7. If all the handlers are slain, beast automatically revert to a wild disposition. Beast models are subsequently moved by the GM towards the nearest table edge. Models leaving the table do not return. A wild pack will fight if attacked, but will not charge of it´s own volition. A pack involved in a combat engagement will not revert to a wild state until the engagement and subsequent pursuit is completed.
This is of course connected to rule n:o 3. If the handlers are no longer there to tell the pack what to do it goes away. In a GM´d game you could concider giving GM some more control over the pack - wild beasts could attack their former masters or the nearest unit - friend of foe.
8. Handlers may not fight in hand-to-hand combat during the first round of an engagement. Handlers may be moved into the front rank during any subsequent round of combat and may fight as normal. An enemy model may choose to strike at beast or handler if in base-to-base contact.
Again a very logical rule. Keep in mind that putting the handlers in the front row will make them vulnerable.
An Animal Handler costs as additional +5 points. This is added after points have been calculated for equipment.
For skavens and hobgoblins the points cost for a model in doubled which seems a bit high. For elves, chaos and slann the raise is about 50%. But as with war altars the beast packs look good on the battlefield and because of that can always be concidered worth taking.

In my opinion the pro´s and con´s for animal handlers and beast packs are:

They look good on the battle field
Not everyone gets them
They add character to an army
Some of the animals are pretty powerful

A bit pricey
Not very maneuverable
Somewhat vulnerable
In the following posting I will take a look into each army list including animal handlers. The order will be (the list is subject to changes if I so decide):
  1. Wood elves
  2. Dark elves
  3. Chaos
  4. Skaven
  5. Slann
  6. Hobgoblin
  7. The Oddities
Please let me know if you want you pictures to be shown in one or more of those. Or if you have a blog link to share. Or any other material you would like me to include.

lauantai 18. helmikuuta 2017

War altars revisited

One of the things that I love about the Oldhammer community is it´s ability provide you with new ideas or different angles of a view. In my previous posting I wrote about the war altars in WFB 3rd edition. That article created some discussion both here at my blog and at couple of Oldhammer facebook groups. I was happy to note that at least some of my readers had been inspired by my article and were resurrecting their war altar projects or starting new ones.

Because of that discussion and the feedback I received I felt that there was a need to revisit the concept of war altars and the parts I missed writing that first article.


Thantsant who is the author of a wonderful Somewhere the Tea´s getting cold blog commented my article in the Oldhammer community facebook group telling me that he has built a war altar for his hobgoblin army. He also remembered reading something about hobgoblin war altars in the 3rd edition rule book. I had to take a look and he was right.

In the bestiary at page 221 there are special rules hobgoblins. It says that:
  1. Hobgoblin forces always carry their army standard into battle. This takes the form of a staff or pole bearing a trophy or sign, and is carried in a small wagon drawn by a span of fierce Hobhounds. So long as their standard remains intact, any Mournguls are subject to frenzy. The army standard, its wagon and crew must be included.
  2. The Hobgoblin standard is the symbol of a tribe´s honor. Any enemy engaged in close combat against it is hated by all Mourngul units on the table.
  3. The standard is a potent magic symbol to the Hobgoblin wizards. Totems always have the ability to act as magical reservoir as described under magical standards. All Hobgoblin wizards on that side must surrender half of their magic points before the battle and place them in the standard.
Even if it is called an army standard that resembles a carriage mounted war altar a lot in my opinion.As far as I know the hobgoblins are the only race presented in the original rule book to have this kind of army standard/war altar special rule.

Somewhat sadly the hobgoblin army standard/war altar concept was dropped from the WFB: Armies book. The hobgoblin mercenary contingent can still include a contingent standard bearer who has a option for 100 point magic standard. But the standard is no longer something you have to take nor it is automatically a magical reservoir. In the psychology part for hobgoblins it still says that:
  • The contingent standard is a sacred tribal fetish. As long as the standard remains intact, all hobgoblins are subject to frenzy. Any enemy unit engaged in close combat with the standard bearer will be hated by all hobgoblins.
Even with the similarities with the original rule the new ones are missing the war altar aspect and therefore feel sort of diluted.

Thantsant gave me permission to use his pictures here. Please check out the rest of his hobgoblin force. They even have a baggage train - I might be time to update my baggabe train posting. Or do a similar revisit.

Thantsant´s hobgoblin war altar and it´s guards/crew.

A closer look at the center piece.

Undead Plague Cart

In Oldhammer Finland facebook group it was pointed out that the undead Plague cart has a lot of similarities with war altars.In the WFB: Armies the rules for Undead Plague Cart are these:
  1. Any undead unit with models within 12" of the undead cart may add +1 to the D6 score in the instability test.
  2. The Plague Cart causes fear in living creatures.
  3. The Plague Cart has a movement allowance of 5" and may move over all terrain and through all obstacles except buildings with no penalty; movement through solid walls and in/out of buildings costs half of the cart´s movement for that turn.
  4. The undead cart may be attacked like an ordinary wagon.
Of course the plague cart does not give any psychological bonus but a +1 to instability test is very nice. And the fact that it can move through any terrain without penalty makes it possible for the cart to keep up with the rest of the troops. Losing a plague cart to enemy is not penalized meaning that you can take closer to enemy than you would do with a war altar. In a way plague cart is a war altar for the undead.

A thing of interest is a fact that there is also a different set of rules for a plague cart. They were presented in WD94 with this advertisment.

So somewhere along the way the plague cart has changed from being a randomly appearing or summonable wagon of terror and undead raising that lumbers uncotrollably across the battlefield to a war altar like unit that can be included to your army by spending points. I think both concepts are cool in their own way but the original rules for a plague cart are less war altar like than the newer ones.

As citadel produced a model for plague cart the painted examples of them are a lot more common than war altars.

This is LM`s plague cart deployed with his beautiful undead army.

The creaking cart brings naught but doom and despair. This one is
by Subedai of The Lost and The Damned blog.

Nathan Firth´s plague cat from Oldhammer Melbourne blog.

Orlygg´s plague cart with a spectral driver at Realm of Chaos 80´s blog.

So just a few examples here. This would be a very loooong article if I included all the cart that come up with just googling: plague cart.

Let´s see if I can actually get something painted worth showing here. ´Till next time!

tiistai 14. helmikuuta 2017

War altars in 3rd edition WFB

This article is something I have wanted to do since I wrote about baggage trains a few months ago. I´ve been working on it slowly and now I was able to found myself time to finish this.

War altars are another great element that add character to a 3rd edition WFB army. As the WFB: Armies book tells us they are small portable altars carried onto the battlefield and guarded by religious fanatics. Their presence encourages friendly troops meaning that you get special benefits for troop spychology.

As per rules the war altars are carried around by 2-5 religious fanatics called altar guards. They defend the altar with their lives and are immune to all psychology and rout test while within 6" of the altar. Carrying the altar reduced the altar guards movement by half.

There are two nice bonuses that come with a war altar. First, all friendly troop within 12" of the war altar receive +1 bonus to their hand-to-hand combat resolution score. The other benefit is that all friendly troops within 12" of the altar receive +2 bonus to their leadership, up to the maximum of LD10.

But losing a war altar can be a disaster. If a war altar is captured or desecrated all friendly troop within 12" must make an immediate rout test.

Some armeies may mount their war altar on a wagon. A wagon mounted war altar is treated as a wagon but retains it´s psychological effects.

In the WFB: Armies book there are four armies that can field a war altar. They are dark elves, chaos, bretonnia and slann.  In this posting I want to present material regarding war altars for all those four armies. I´ve included only such projects that are clearly for 3rd edition WFB so newer concepts like cauldron of blood and war altar of Sigmar are out.

I´ve looked for both complete sets and WIP projects. And as with the baggage train compendium almost all are not my projects. I´ve added a link to owners blog or site when I´ve managed to find one. Please let me know if you want you pic or blog or whatever added. Or if you don´t like you picture used here.

Dark Elves

Goblin Lee disected the pro´s and con´s for a dark elf war altar in his blog.
This is my list that differs a bit from his:

Psychological bonuses
Chance to take magical standard and/or instrument

Slow movement

I don´t think that altar guards having both hatred and frenzy is a problem as the war altar rules state that altar guards are immune all psychology and rout test while within 6" of the altar. Please let me know if you think that my intepretation of the rules is wrong.

Even though it is in WIP stage I wanted to have Willmark´s war altar here as the first one to be presented because of the resemlance between to picture in WFB: Armies and the scratch build altar. Progress of this project and rest of Willmark´s dark elf force can be followed on Oldhammer forum.

This is a war altar/cauldron of blood by Pahvivalmiste. The cauldron itself is scratch build and altar guards are midhammer witch elves. Check out Pahvivalmiste´s gorgeous dark elf army here.

My own humble dark elf war altar project is in a really early WIP stage. The idol itself is painted and I´ve started working on the altar guards but there is still a long way to go.


Psychological bonuses
Heavy armor gives some endurance
Increased mobility and combat ability if mounted on carriage
Chance to take a 100 points magic standard

Normal humans as altar guards are pretty weak in combat
Slow without carriage

Perhaps the grand mother of all chaos war altars. War altar of Nurgle by Ivan Bartleet from WD125.

Wheel of Pain - War altar of Chaos by Bluey Zarzov. For more pictures chech out his blog.

This one is by Asslesman. Presented in this thread at Oldhammer forum.


Psychological bonuses
Heavy armor and optional shield gives good protection
Optional halberds boost combat ability
Chance to take a magic standard
Increased mobility and combat ability if mounted on carriage

Normal humans as altar guards are pretty weak in combat
Slow without carriage, superslow if using shield too.

The Round Table of Bretonnia site has this war altar. Another picture on the site.

A very nice carriage mounted war altar by Warhamster. His Bretonnian collection is presented on Oldhammer forum.


Psychological bonuses
Warrior priests as altar guards (WS4, S4, T4, A2)
Chance to take a 100 points magic standard
Chance to be placed on litter

Only shields for protection
Just four altar guards

Again I shall refer to Goblin Lee´s blog. And as with dark elves I don´t fully agree with the frenzy rule here. But again - let me know what you think.

Goblin Lee´s Slann war altar on a litter. Carried by lobotomized humans and guarded by warrior priests. Very nice!

 Hope that you enjoyed reading and perhaps got some inspiration to your army building.