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Ogre Unit Sizes

by Avian

The best way of developing good tactics is trial and error. Having played greenskins for a number of years I can tell you that ogres play rather similar to Orc Boar Boyz and tactics who have worked well with them are so far working well with the ogres also.

This is not really a "How to do it" article, it is more of a "Let you find out how to do it for yourself" article. I will provide some suggestions and tips, as well as some links to other pages that lets you find out what should work for you.


Hey, Boss, I've been considering branching out inta ogres fer a bit. Don't ya think I'd's be a good ogre? Me bein' all big and tuff an' all?

You're a gnobbo. Now go fetch my slippers.

'Ere dey iz, Boss.
But I really wanna start wiv ogres and I wuz wunderin'. 'Ow big should me ogre units be?

The short answer is that they should be as big as they need to to get the job done, and probably not a whole lot more, because ogre units tend to get expensive rather quickly.


I know what your next question is going to be: "How big is big enough to get the job done?" Well, there are a lot of jobs you can send ogre units out to do, but mainly they fall into two categories, both involving defeating the enemy and breaking them.Other jobs range from shooting things, deflecting enemy charges, etc. etc. but I'm not going to talk about that now. This bit concerns defeating the enemy in the noble art of bashing in heads.

The two main ways of doing this are:

  1. Deafeating the enemy and auto-breaking them due to outnumbering and fear.
  2. Defeating the enemy by enough to make it very hard for him to pass the Break test. Typically this means you have to win the combat by 4 - 5 points, adjusted a bit for enemies with very high or very low Leadership, Battle standards nearby and so on.

Some enemy units are immune to fear, in which case method #1 will not work and you have to go for method #2. Other units can never be broken at all, in which case you goal is most likely to massive destruction while preventing the enemy from reinforcing his doomed unit (ie. similar to #2). There are even a few units that are Stubborn but not Immune to fear, in which case both methods have a chance to work, but #1 is more effective.

I will deal with the first method first. There are two considerations here: winning the combat and outnumbering the enemy. How tough an ogre unit needs to be to win against a given enemy varies a lot, but if you want to play around with numbers the Unit Combat Calculator might be just the thing for you. To take an example, four Bulls with additional hand weapons will typically defeat a ranked unit of normal infantry (WS and Strength 3, 5+ armour), doing 4 to 5 wounds in damage and not suffering many in return. Of course, with tougher or more skilled enemies this will be somewhat harder. In any case, a Bull unit is not likely to win by very much, typically only a point or two. Of course, if you are unlucky you might be losing by a point or two, which is bad news with the ogres' less than impressive Ld. You can help this quite a bit by always ensuring you have a standard in the combat (if you can get the War Banner I suggest you do that as well) and making sure you outnumber the opponent. Another solution is to include a Tyrant / Bruiser in the unit to add a few kills, though this is very expensive and obviously limited by the army size.

The good news is that it is generally possible to win slightly and it is generally possible to outnumber the opponent. If you don't think either of these are likely to occur, consider not charging. So, back to the original question: How many? That depends on the people you play against, so it's impossible for me to give an exact number. One thing you should consider is how many opponents you are likely to kill. As said, against a normal "grunt" unit you are going to kill around 4 or 5 just using 4 normal Bulls. If you get to Bull charge then you'll kill 2 to 3 more, so it's around 7 dead. If you don't get to Bull charge but you have a fighty character in the unit, or the unit has Bullgorger cast on it, then it's also another couple of kills. We will assume that you kill 7ish models and that the enemy started at 25 models, meaning that he is now down to 18 or thereabout. A quick calculation should tell you that 7 Bulls should be about right, less if you think you will have more than one of the following advantages: Tyrant / Bruiser in the unit, Bull Charge, Bullgorger. If the enemy is likely to have units greater or smaller than this, you will need to adjust accordingly, or bank on some of the other factors.

Method #2 is somewhat easier, since it only involves one question: How much carnage can I pack into one unit and still have enough points left for the rest of the army?

Yur, I've always wonderd dat meself, Boss.

Fortunately, you don't often meet large enemy units that are immune to fear and can actually fight. In most cases only one of these happen and the exceptions tend to be rather expensive units (hordes of Zombies with a Vampire, large units of Chosen Warriors of Slaanesh or Nurgle, etc.). Often the solution to these units is simply to avoid them, since they typically do not have very high Movement. Other methods involve redirection, ganging up on them and shooting the bastards. That's a bit outside the topic of this article, though.

The first and possibly the most important part is that you will need to charge. Against infantry you should be able to pull this one off, against cavalry, chariots or similar you might need to redirect the enemy with a bait unit-

Gnobbos, hur, hur, hur.

For example, though cheap ogre units can also do the job at a higher price. As I said, that's not the topic of this article, so I'll deal with it on a later date. For now we will assume that you get the charge. A decent fighty unit will often have several of the following abilities: Tyrant / Bruiser in the unit, Bull charge, Bullgorger, Ironguts / Maneaters. To start with, four Ironguts that get to strike first will most likely mow down the front rank of any enemy infantry unit, leaving none to strike back and probably winning you the combat. For excessively tough or armoured targets you will want to either boost the Ironguts with Bullgorger, have a fighty character join them, or take a unit of (admittedly very expensive) Maneaters instead. Four Ironguts will lose to 6 Chosen Knights, while four Maneaters with great weapons will generally beat them. Alternatively three Maneaters and a fighty character will also deal out a lot of damage.

If you don't have a chance in hell of defeating the opponent, you do not (usually) want to charge. It will give the opponent a free pursuit move and since it's his turn next he can charge the unit again even if he doesn't catch it. If you can't get the unit away, angle it so the enemy unit will end up somewhere he doesn't want to be (this is particularly easy with units that have to pursue) and / or flee from the charge (even if you get run down you don't lose your banner) and have any characters leave the unit ("Impact alert, abandon unit!").

Giving the opponent the benefit of a Break test is always risky. How risky? See for yourself here: Leadership Calculations. What you reasonably want is for the enemy to be reduced to taking the Ld test on Ld 5 (with no re-roll) or Ld 3 (with a re-roll). If you expect to win by less, make sure the opponent does not have a support unit ready to flank your unit in his following turn.

But what if der enemy is da wunz doin' da chargin'?

If you do get charged then obviously you are struggling more to win, as the opponent strikes first, but with normal basic infantry you should still be able to win with a large enough unit (having a fighty character certainly helps). If you reckon that you are going to lose considerably when you get charged and you don't have a Battle standard (or similar) nearby and you are not Stubborn, consider fleeing from the charge instead. Though always risky, particularly with expensive units, fleeing from an enemy unit when they charge often gives you more chance of survival than when attempting to outrun pursuit. Apart from that, the enhancement spells will be of good help, unless they are dispelled, which they often are.

And wot if some of the ogres get shot, wot denn?

Obviously, if you expect to get shot, then bigger units can be a good thing, or you can take multiple units or you can hope that the opponent doesn't dispel Toothcracker / Trollguts before his Shooting phase (in my experience: not very likely to happen). Often a mix of the above will be the best, as it leaves you with more options. If everything hinges on that one vital unit reaching combat unscathed you will probably find that after a while the opponent wisens to your plan and starts doing something about it. My standard army contains one unit of 8 ogres (one of which is a Butcher) and one of 6 ogres (one of which is a Tyrant / Bruiser), alongside several smaller units. The larger unit can also get a rank bonus (if it doesn't get shot), but that isn't essential, it's the high number of ogres and the relatively nasty Bull charge that makes the difference. Of course, if that unit does manage to get into combat with enemy unit of 25 models or less which is not immune to fear, it only needs to do 2 more wounds to the enemy than it takes in return to autobreak it. Nasty, though quite expensive.

OK, I fink I've got it. Loadsa different sizes, denn?

It keeps things nice and flexible. Now, lets say you have a unit of 6 Ogres, which may or may not contain a character. How do you deploy it?

In two ranks ovv three ovv course.


Uh... It looks more neat that way?

Ogres win combat mainly by causing enemy fatalities. By having less models in the front rank you reduce the amount of attacks you get and you get a lower Combat result. I know that a lot of Warhammer players instinctively deploy their models with the same number of models in all ranks, regardless of how useful this is.

And ya fink dat's REALLY stupid, don't ya Boss? Snotling class stupid?

I do indeed. There is no rule saying that models need the same number of models in all ranks. Heck, I know people who, when presented with 12 Witch Elves will automatically deploy them in three ranks of four (stupid) instead of two ranks of six (better) or one rank of seven and one rank of five (best). Ogre units, who tend not to get much of a rank bonus in every case, should primarily deploy to maximise the number of models who will get to attack. Usually this means a unit four models wide. Against some units you might even consider five-wide units, though units that wide will have to rely on reforming instead of wheeling if they want to stop going in a rather straight line and has a chance of bumping into things.

There are of course disadvantages to a wide formation. The most immediate, and one which doesn't really apply to ogres, is that it reduces your rank bonus. The second is that it takes up more space in your deployment zone and a wider unit may bump into terrain or other units. This is admittedly a problem, though with the typically low number of ogre units and the fact that they move rather quickly means that this is not typically a crippling one. If necessary units can start in a more narrow formation and expand frontage when they have room for it. A third problem is that wheeling takes longer, which means that your sideways movement is reduced. If you are doing fancy manoeuvring this might be a problem, but big blocky units don't do much of this anyway, so it's again less of a problem. Smaller support units  consisting of minimum-sized units of Bulls or Leadbelchers, should have a more reduced frontage, though. Something that people often bring up as a problem and which rarely is one is that a wider frontage allows more enemy models to get into combat.

Why is dat not usuallally a problem, Boss?

Because often the opponent will get the same number of models in base contact anyway. If you deploy your ogres 3 wide then he can get a total of 8 models on 20 mm bases or 6 models on 25 mm bases into contact with you, and very few units are bigger than that. In some cases a wider frontage will mean that more a enemies get to attack, such as when you are charged by a Chaos Chariot and 6 Chaos Knights, but in those cases you are generally screwed to begin with and it's not as if an additional enemy fighting that's going to make much difference. On the other hand, having a wider frontage than the enemy means that if you do lose the enemy can't lap around you.
As above you might want to fiddle around with the Combat result calculator, to see if three ogres fighting will actually accomplish anything. Remember that you should always be flexible and adopt the formation that is most beneficial at the moment.


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