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Gnoblar Units and Characters

by Avian

This little article will go through all the available gnobbo units and characters available through the Ogre Kingdoms army book or the Gnoblar army list presented in UK WD 310 and give my biased and opinionated opinion of them.

Before I start, I would like to share a thought I had about gnobbo armies with you. It came to me late at night, as I was trying to think of a way of actually earning some Victory points with an army consisting of nothing but assorted types of little green gits. It went like this:

An ogre army is like a sledge hammer. Big, heavy and rather simple. People might think it requires no thought to use, and if the enemy simply stands there and lets you hit him on the head then it is indeed simple. However, most people will not let you do this, and it takes quite a lot of skill to fight with a sledge hammer against an opponent who ducks or tries to defend himself.

Assembling an orc & goblin army feels much like going into a kitchen, grabbing whatever you can get hold of and using it to try and hurt the enemy. Things like a butcher's knife have fairly obvious uses and can be quite good at doing damage, but even a teacup can be useful if you throw it at the other guy and he gets distracted enough to let you whack him over the head with a frying pan.

Putting together a gnoblar army, on the other hand, feels much like setting out to kill a guy by throwing kittens at him. Sure, with an unlimited supply of kittens and an opponent that doesn't dodge out of the way you might theoretically manage to do some damage, given enough time, but you do get a nasty feeling that all you will achieve is to make him laugh.

 

Contents

Gnoblar special rules and abilities

Gnoblar attendants

Gnoblar units from the Ogre Kingdoms army book

Gnoblar characters from the Gnoblar army list

Gnoblar units from the Gnoblar army list

 

Gnoblar special rules and abilities

These are a list of special rules and abilities that apply to nearly all gnoblar units (most notably they do not apply to the Scraplauncher).

 

Bicker

Unless you are playing a Gnoblar army, there is absolutely nothing you can do about Bickering (in a gnobbo army you get your Lucky Little Gits re-rolls, and of course Lucky Gits can re-roll Bicker tests), so you might as well learn to live with it and not expect too much from gnobbos. Don't expect too much from gnobbos and if you really need them to do something, take two units in case one unit decides to Bicker.

 

Largely insignificant

The best thing about gnobbos, next to their wonderful low points cost. Gnobbos can be sacrificed to your heart's content with no worry that ogres or other units nearby will have to take Panic tests. As so many of the uses for a gnoblar involves it dying in some nasty manner, this is vital. Ask any Chaos player how he feels about having to take Panic tests when a 30 pt unit of Warhounds die or flee and you'll understand how good this is. If an enemy unit is too nasty to deal with right away, it can be set to chew its way through a sucession of gnobbo units while you deal with the rest of the enemy army.

 

Nobody likes a Gnoblar

Another rule you cannot do anything about and which doesn't really present any new tactical choices. It would have been nice to hide a Butcher inside a gnobbo unit now and then to prevent him from being targeted with missile fire, but you can't.

 

Lucky Little Gits

This rule only applies to gnobbo armies, not to gnobbos in an Ogre Kingdoms army, and grants the army D6 re-rolls you can use for pretty much anything you want. Remember not to waste them on silly things like letting a Honcho re-roll a failed to hit roll or similar things - the re-rolls should be spend on the following:
1) re-rolling critical failed Bicker rolls (failing a glorious flank charge with a unit of Manbiters due to bickering is a royal pain)
2) re-rolling insufficient flee or pursuit distances
3) re-rolling failed Look Out, Sir! rolls for your General or Battle Standard Bearer
4) re-rolling vital failed break tests if the Battle Standard is not nearby

 

Sharp Stuff

Not all types of gnobbos come with this little missile option, but a lot of them do. Since it's a thrown weapon you will usually hit on 5+ if you go for two dice per gnobbo and there is frankly no reason not to always go double. Most of the time, a large handful of dice will only result in a very small number of enemy fatalities (0 being the most common, a very small number indeed), but with small, fragile enemy units they can do a bit of damage and often the risk of a bit of damage will cause the enemy to get out of the way and thus stopping him from going where he wants to go. That being said, if you have the choice between marching to somewhere you want to be and moving more slowly and throwing gerbils, broken bottles and old boots at the enemy, you will generally prefer to march.

 

Gnoblar attendants

No group name is given for those gnobbos that attend their Ogre masters in battle, thus I have chosen to term them "attendants". They all cost 5 pts, which makes them suitable as something to spend spare points on. I know that the army book tells you to attach these attendants to the base of the owning Ogre, but I prefer to have them on separate 20 mm bases (Look-out Gnoblars are attached with blu-tack). They don't have any other game effect that way, but it lets you for example take a Luck Gnoblar in one battle and not in the next without causing confusion and for those that can be used once (Luck and Tooth gnobbos) it lets you remove the model to show that they have been used, saving you from keeping a note of this.

 

Sword-Gnoblars

The most pointless type of gnobbo attendant. Sure, its an extra Attack at quite good WS and not too shabby Initiative, but their miserable Strength of 2 makes them pretty much useless, since an ogre fighter character will usually be employed to beat up tough enemies with plenty of armour, which S2 has next to no chance of cutting through. Spend the points on something better.

 

Luck-Gnoblars

If you have the Wyrdstone Necklace or have spent the points to give your Tyrant or Bruiser an armour save better than 5+ you probably want one of these to give him an extra try to save a Wound. They are not strictly neccesary, both because often an Ogre character won't suffer all that many Wounds (when mine die it tends to be because they are broken in combat and run down) and because Ogres can't really get very good saves, so even with a re-roll you are quite likely to fail. At only 5 pts, though, they are not a bad investment.

 

Lookout-Gnoblars

First of all it needs to be said that not all armies you will face have access to template weapons and thus a lot of the time an item that grants a protection from such weapons is pointless. The average High Elf army, for example, will have no weapons that allow for a Look Out, Sir! roll in the first place.
Against those other armies, though, a Lookout-gnobbo can be quite useful. The Empire will often be the worst in this regard, with their Strength 10 Great cannons that cause D6 Wounds per hit. If you suspect that your opponent might pack one or more of these weapons, a Lookout-Gnoblar in those units you will include characters in should be considered mandatory. There are other ways of avoiding war machine fire, but a 5 point extra insurance is well worth it.

 

Tooth-Gnoblars

Five points to get +1 to a casting roll might not seem very impressive compared to getting an average of +7 for 25 pts with a Power Stone (and Power Stones are not generally considered very good value for the points), but as with quite a few things in the ogre army it's often a question of paying more to have things work at all. One of the main problems with Gut magic is that it is generally very easy to dispel due to the limits on how many dice you can spend, and that extra +1 to one roll can make a difference. Personally I always take as many Tooth-Gnoblars as I can for my Butchers.

 

Gnoblar units from the Ogre Kingdoms army book

 

Gnoblar Fighters (I)

Since I have written a separate and lengthy article devoted entirely to these little gits (Uses for Gnoblar Fighters), I will make this entry rather more brief. I find gnobbo fighters very useful and always take as many units as possible with 25 to 30 gits per unit to limit the chance of Panic. Their main advantage is that they can do a lot of the jobs Ogre units can do (plus a couple they can't do) at around a third of the cost of Ogre units. That in itself is plentty of reason to take them.
Command options: It's sad to say, but even at only an additional 2 pts, a Groinbiter struggles to be very useful, because gnobbos are not primarily used with an intent to get into combats or win. If you have a couple of spare points and nothing better to spend them on you might indulge yourself, but you are getting what you pay for (i.e. not a lot).

 

Gnoblar Trappers

If deployed as Scouts then Trappers will have the double misfortune of being uncomfortably close to the enemy and rather far away from the comforting presence of the army General. Thus when the battle ends the Trappers will often have been turned into a green smear or scampered from the table several rounds earlier. Trappers are mainly used for the same purpose as Fighters, but thanks to their increased mobility and the possibility to start contesting enemy table quarters from the word go, are sufficiently different to warrant a place in the army list. Another thing they do decently is to walk in front of war machines (stone throwers and bolt throwers in particular) and stop them from targeting much more expensive and vulnerable Ogre units.
Unless there is some scenario special rule that makes units of more than 8 interesting, I suggest you stick with the minimum number of models - they are slightly more difficult to Panic at 9 models, but not noticeably so. I know a guy who took 80(!) once and, not surprisingly, it didn't work.
Some people argue that one of the good things about Hunters is that they let you have extra units of Trappers, which I think says more about the crappyness of the actual Hunter. I would certainly not take a Hunter in order to have more Trappers, but on those rare occasions I take a Hunter I also take another unit of Trappers - with a little luck you can claim or contest all four table quarters from the start of turn 1.
Command options: Realistically, 6 pts to get an extra Trapper is better than 4 pts to give one of them +1 BS, but not so much that it makes a lot of difference. A Snarefinger does allow you to have the (official) greenskin with the highest BS in the game, which can be fun in itself.

 

Gnoblar Scraplauncher

A generally very useful all-round unit, with one crippling downside, namely that as a chariot it dies on a 2+ if hit with any ranged or close combat attack with a Strength of 7 or more. 165 points down the drain at next to no effort from the enemy. If you ask me, this is the most stupid rule in the game. It's dull, dull, dull and makes the scrappy a complete no-go against some armies out there (Dwarfs and Empire in particular), and it's the reason I would not recommend one in a generic army list.
Scraplauncher tactics otherwise involve a steady plod forward with the rest of the army, shooting as it goes, before charging in alongside an ogre unit. As with a lot of other big stuff, the scrappy can pack quite a good punch on a quite narrow frontage, which makes it good in support. On it's own the scrappy is a bit prone to not doing enough damage to defeat enemy units (especially if you roll low for the number of impact hits). This often happens if it's allowed to be more than 12" away from the General when charges are declared, in which case the Bad-tempered rule will kick in far too often and it ends up charging something much too tough for it to handle.
The launcher itself is the longest ranged missile weapon available to the army, with an effective range of 54" (6" move + up to 48" guess). Don't let the Killing blow ability fool you into thinking that it's good for killing tough enemies, because it's not. Against all but very heavily armoured opponents, a simple -1 to enemy armour saves, like the Empire Mortar has, is better. The scrappy is best at targeting blocks of enemies with low Toughness and little armour, elite elf infantry units, for example (these armies also have little in the way of S7+ weapons, which is doubly good for you). It can also splat those annoying Skink units that can easily shoot up Ogres with their poisoned darts.
In Ogre armies I struggle to find the points for more than one, while I can heartily recommend two if you have the points (in a gnoblar army this is generally not a problem).

 

Gnoblar characters from the Gnoblar army list

Gnobbos get the option of having a heap of very cheap characters, and I recommend you do just that. Take as many as possible and keep them cheap. Don't be fooled by the fact that a Honcho can have 50 pts worth of magic items to think that this is a good idea. You want to bury the enemy army under a thick layer of small green bodies and you can't do that if you spend hundreds of points on magic gear.

 

Gnoblar Head Honcho

The only thing this guy actually has going for himself compared to a Honcho is that he has one point more Leadership (very useful) and one more Wound (less chance of losing the benefits of that Leadership due to being dead). A Head Honcho is not a fighter, he is there to ensure that not too much of the army runs away. Put him safely in a decently large unit of Fighters behind the battle line yet close enough to grant a decent number of friendly units the use of his Leadership of 7 and you are doing it right. Don't bother with weapons or armour, you want him out of combat and if he does find himself in one he's probaly dead anyway.
Item-wise a Rhinox Horn is really all you need. The other magic items available to him might be cute, but aren't really that useful and hoarding up on more gnobbos should be considered a greater priority. Thus, instead of spending 45 pts to give him a 4+ Ward save, keep him out of harm's way and buy another unit of gnobbos with those 45 pts instead. It's more effective and also more in character for the army.
On rhinox: No! Nonononono.You do NOT want to mount your fragile little General on something that might send him racing into the enemy alone and unsupported. I don't know why the author of the army list thought that this might be an attractive option. If you really feel you must choose this bad-tempered mount, then at least remember to put your General and his Rhinox inside a unit. That way he cannot be singled out with missile fire (he only has unit strength 4) and he'll make the unit Immune to Fear.

 

Gnoblar Honcho

For 24 pts you can add a guy with three Strength 5 Attacks to your Manbiter or Lucky Git units to give them that extra punch in close combat. I suggest you take as many of these as possible and give all except one (who will carry the Battle Standard, see below) flails and nothing else. As with the Head Honcho, the funny Gnoblar items might sound amusing but all they really do it reduce the size of your army.

 

Gnoblar Battle Standard Bearer

You absolutely want one of these guys. Stick him beside your General (you know, in that safe unit where nobody will splat him) and he'll do great - the combination of the +2 Ld from the Rhinox Horn and a re-roll of break tests should mean that your units have a decent chance of hanging in there in the first round of combat, giving you time to bring in more gits. The BSB doesn't need any extra stuff at all.
More thoughts can be found in my generic tactics article on Battle Standard Bearers.

 

Gnoblar units from the Gnoblar army list

It is sometimes painfully apparent that a lot of these units are ideas that struck the writer of the army list as a good idea and which has then not been tested sufficiently (or at all). Out of six new units, only three (Flingers, Manbiters and Lucky Gits) are actually worth taking, let alone going to the bother of converting them up.

 

Gnoblar Fighters (II)

(See the entry for fighters in the Ogre Kingdoms army for more info. This entry will only deal with the differences between those two units.)
With the Gnoblar army list, fighters get a lot of new options, nearly all of which are rubbish. Even in a Gnoblar list, these guys are fodder and (despite the name) not fighting units. It's probably needless to say, but you want quite a few units of these gits in a gnobbo army, a good rule of thumb being at least as many units of Fighters as you have Manbiters and Lucky Gits combined.
Additional hand weapons: 20+ pts for a handful of extra S2 Attacks? No way, no how, not ever.
Shields: Do you want more expensive fodder? No, you do not. Get more gnobbos instead.
Light armour: Even more pointless than shields since this option doesn't give an extra save in combat (not that you often want fighters in combat other than to sacrifice them).
Command options: Ah, the sorely missed option for a musician. If only they could have those in the Ogre army as well. Consider them mandatory. Standards are too risky in a unit that on its own will lose combats anyway. Groinbiters are still only something you get if you have spare points and run out of useful options.

 

Gnoblar Flingers

In an army filled fodder you have the option for an even cheaper fodder unit (30 pts for a minimum-sized unit, rather than 40 for Fighters). Great! They even have a somewhat better ranged attack. Take as many units of these as you can (though no more than 10 per unit), deploy them 5 or 6 wide and plod them towards the enemy (or hide them in a corner to hold a table quarter) using the slings when you don't want to march. Can be sacrificed with even less care than normal gnobbos.
Command options: With the primary advantage of this unit being that it is so ridiculously cheap, you don't want to ruin that by making it more expensive. Their actual skill at killing things with their slings is secondary anyway.

 

Gnoblar Manbiters

Quite a good unit, being effectively Common Goblins with flails and light armour. If you want units that can deliver a punch, then these guys are it (though you still want a couple of Honchos with flails in the unit). Their WS is a bit miserable, but they'll still typically hit on 4+, which is not too shabby. They die about as easy as much cheaper gnobbos, though, so make sure you screen them, preferably with a throwaway unit of Flingers or similar (you can use Trappers, but they are more expensive and just as vulnerable to spells). As with all gnobbo units, you want to gang up on the enemy 3 to 1 or more, preferably with a unit in their flank if you possibly can. You can have up to two units of Manbiters and I suggest you do just that.
Shields: If you ask me, not really worth it and another rank of Manbiters is preferable to giving them all shields which only really protects them from missile fire you should know how to avoid anyway.
Command options: May I suggest you take them all? At only 20 pts for the lot it's rather cheap for what you get and they are all quite useful options. The option for a magic standard is also worth considering. You only have two to pick from and they are both good.

 

Gnoblar Pigback Riders

Out of the three Gnoblar close combat units, this one is a complete waste and also the hardest to convert, so stay away from it. Why are they a waste? Well, for 40 pts you can have a unit of 20 Gnoblar Fighters with a +3 rank bonus and unit strength 20. Alternatively you can have 10 Pigback Riders with a mere +1 rank bonus, though at least the unit strength is still the same. As a replacement for those two points of CR you get a bunch of weakly attacks that will amount to about 1 dead enemy if you are lucky. More often the enemy will get to attack first and eliminate many of your return attacks, or the puny gnobbo attacks will bounce off. In addition, this unit is much more prone to Panic than the equivalent unit of Fighters. If the Pigback Riders had something more going for them (such as +1 Movement or shields) or were a point cheaper they might not have been so pointless, but they don't. Avoid this unit.
Command options: Avoid these as well...

 

Lucky Gits

Another interesting and fun unit. These are in many ways the opposite of Manbiters - Manbiters can deal out a bit of punch but drop like flies if attacked in return, while Lucky Gits struggle to harm anything more resilient than Toughness 3 no armour, but are very hard to kill in return. For this reason I recommend attaching a Honcho or two with flails to this unit, to add a few dead enemies. Spend half your Special slots on these guys and half on Scraplaunchers and you won't go far wrong.
The ability to re-roll anything is, needless to say, very good and it's worth remembering that you aren't just allowed to re-roll dice rolls of the hit / miss type, you can re-roll anything. Some examples include flee and pursuit distances (very, very useful), the dice to see who goes first if the previous round of combat was a draw and the units have equal initiative or randomisation rolls if they throw their sharp stuff at a war machine and want a greater chance of hitting the crew. If the Lucky Gits are rolling the dice, it can be re-rolled.
Shields: Having the option of two tries at a 4+ armour save and then two tries at a 6+ Ward save in close combat against Strength 3 or less is just too good not to pay the extra point per gnobbo, as it's the equivalent of a single 2+ save! Even against Strength 5 you get four tries at a 6+ save, giving you more than a 50% chance of saving the Wound.
Command options: As with Manbiters, the option for Standards and Musicians are very good and should be taken. A Very Lucky Git, on the other hand, is rather less so. With units that struggle to do damage in close combat, a Champion isn't particularly useful and though the Very Lucky Git is extra resilient with his boosted Ward save, that doesn't make up for paying 8 pts for the upgrade.

 

Blood-Gnoblars

Are these guys Special or are they Rare? The bestiary says one thing and the army list entry says another. It's not really important, though, since the unit is not really worth wasting any type of choice on. For the cost of a Trapper you lose the Scout ability, but gain +1 BS and the Cunning traps ability. Personally I don't rate sharp stuff as a very good weapon, so a unit that is a bit more accurate with their S2 ranged attacks doesn't really impress me. The traps might have been useful, if the restrictions on how to trap things were not as restrictive and if there was any way of forcing the enemy to enter the terrain piece. Sadly, enemy skirmishers will just avoid it, and non-skirmishers tend to shun difficult terrain like the plague anyway. And then there is the problem of getting over to a worthwhile terrain piece to trap it (Blood-Gnoblars aren't scouts). The Cunning traps is also my nominee for the worst written rule out there: When are the hits worked out? Do units take hits the next turn also, if they haven't moved out?
Command options: As with Trappers, it would be more effective to get another gnobbo, though as suggested above, the best option is not buying this unit at all.

 

Boglars

As with Blood-Gnoblars, you really want to spend you Rare choices on something other than these guys (Goblin Wolf Riders, for example), even if they are half-price Trappers without the Scout ability. The ability to move across watery terrain with no penalty is also not very impressive for a skirmishing unit that can do this already.
Toad-Gnoblars: Contender for most useless option anywhere. You pay for the option of possibly getting more models. I will explain why this is not a good option: For 50 pts you get 10 Toad-Gnoblars and after two turns spent in water the unit should on average be increased to 17 models. Alternatively, you may spend 51 pts to start the battle with 17 basic Boglars from turn 1. Only if you spend at least half the battle in water does this upgrade pay off and without the Scout ability you may have to spend time getting to the water in the first place. A complete waste of points unless you know you are playing on a battlefield filled with water features.
Command options: A missile unit that gets a Champion with +1 Attack. No, thanks.

 

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