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Greenskin Chariots

by Avian

Orcs & Goblins is the only army with access to three different chariots, crewed by Orcs, Goblins and Snotlings respectively. Chariots are very useful in a greenskin army, as they provide a lot of hitting power (when they get to charge) on a very narrow frontage. This makes them ideal for teaming up with the larger greenskin units, who tend to be quite big, have a high static Combat Result (CR) bonus, while not being all that hard-hitting. Chariots help swing the combat in the favour of the greenies and add another pursuit move on 3D6 when the enemy unit breaks and flees.

 

Contents

Attributes of greenskin chariots

Selecting greenskin chariots

Uses for greenskin chariots

 

Attributes of greenskin chariots

Greenskin chariots mostly follow the same rules as those belonging to other armies, and are not subject to a lot of the special rules that the rest of the greenskin army is. This makes them easier to use for someone who is familiar with the game, but new to the army. As Pump Wagons are rather different from most other chariots, with more of the attributes of small monsters, this section will mainly concentrate on the Wolf and Boar drawn types.

 

Impact hits

This is the main reason why you are buying a chariot. When it charges, a single chariot tends to deal out about as much damage as a whole unit of cavalry, but on a much smaller frontage and at a lower price. When it isn't charging, however, a chariot tends to be limited to a small handful of Strength 3 attacks. Since it is so much better when charging than any other time, to get any sort of perfomance out of your chariot, you must be the one that charges and you must avoid being bogged down in combat. The disadvantages of not getting the impact hits in a round of combat are so great, that you normally want to avoid these situations alltogether.

Preventing the opponent from charging your chariot with anything that can defeat it (i.e. most units more powerful than a pack of skinks) relies mainly on three things: good deployment where you avoid the most obvious threats (such as small units of knights), using the narrow frontage of your chariot to your advantage by keeping it in between your other units where wider enemies cannot get to it and by using the reasonably high Movement rate of the chariot to stay out of charge range of enemy units. Chariots operating on their own far out on flanks are not only unlikely to find something worthwhile to charge, they are relatively easy pickings for faster enemy units.

As the impact hits of a single chariot are so random, you don't want to rely too much on a good roll. A single chariot might break a fully-ranked unit if it manages to get 7 Strength 5 impact hits, but it might just as easily get only 2. A good rule of thumb when you are considering what damage a chariot might do to an enemy unit, is to assume you will get 4 impact hits. This is slightly less than average, so if you get a different result, it will more often than not be better. Against infantry that will typically mean 3 or so dead enemies from impact hits, to which you can probably add one or two extra casualties from the crew and animals, for a total CR of around 5. Against a fully ranked unit with a standard, this will mean that you are not going to win, as they will most likely have a musician and you will not. Against tougher foes, such as knights, you can only expect about half as much damage.

A new rule in 7th edition is that fleeing chariots also cause impact hits to units they flee into or through. With greenies played in the classical way, with nice big units, this should not be a problem for you. Let elves worry about collateral damage.

 

Fast(ish)

As chariots have a good Movement rate but cannot march, they tend to fall somewhere in between infantry and cavalry in speed - about the level of big infantry or monsters - with Boar Chariots and Pump Wagons being on the slower end of the scale and Wolf Chariots up close to cavalry levels. Mainly you will find that it is the speed of your chariot that dictates what it is used for and this means that although greenskins have three different types of chariot they all work quite differently. The Wolf Chariot works well as a support or substitute for cavalry, while the other two types mainly work as support for infantry.

One thing that helps with the inability to make march moves, is the fact that chariots don't have to wheel and can just pivot on the spot (presumably doing some sort of hand brake turn...). To get the most out of your chariot, I suggest you carefully consider which way your chariot should end up facing when you move it. As they have a quite limited charge arc, due to their narrow frontage, they need to make sure they are facing the right direction if you want to be able to charge next turn.

Another thing to keep in mind is that a chariot is only fast when it charges - if it is forced to move around the battlefield for several turns with nothing to charge it can be quite slow and you are not getting much performance out of it. To remedy this, make sure you deploy your chariot in a good spot, preferably quite late in you deployment.

 

Narrow frontage

Unless you take the extra wolf upgrade for the Goblin chariot (which I suggest you don't), a chariot is only 50 mm wide. Furthermore, it only needs to be barely in contact with an enemy unit to be able to fight at full effect. This makes chariot ideal as support units. It is easy to throw in an infantry unit as well as a chariot against most targets, and that combination is deadly. Th chariot will do quite a bit of damage and the infantry will provide a lot of static CR - enough to defeat units that each would struggle to handle on their own.

The narrow frontage also makes it easy to find a good place to deploy the chariot and to move it around. When I deploy my army, I tend to leave a gap between my larger units a little more than 2" wide, to make room for my chariots and other support units. Later on, when my opponent has deployed those juicy targets I want to charge with my chariots (Saurus Warriors, Witch Elves, Chaos Warriors) I can place my wagons where they will do most good.

 

No Animosty

Along with war machines, chariots do not have to test for Animosity, which is a great advantage. For a unit that is so vulnerable to getting charged as cavalry and chariots are, squabbling for a turn and losing the initiative can be fatal. On the downside, chariots benefit from none of the improvements to Animosity and the new Waaagh! rule this edition (unless they are ridden by a Black Orc character), but Waaagh! doesn't benefit units without ranks much anyway. Happily, chariots are affected by the Waaagh! spell.

 

Leadership

Unless ridden by a character, greenskin chariots have decidely unimpressive Leadership, which can be a problem. Fortunately, Orc chariots don't have to take Panic tests due to Goblins and Pump Wagons are immune to Psychology, so the problem is lessened somewhat, but Fear tests can be a problem. Similarly, if your chariot does get charged by a small, fast unit, it will probably lose by about 1 point (due to being outnumbered), which means that an unassisted Break test is most likely going to be failed. To lessen the problems of Leadership, it helps to have your chariots close to the General. Of course, most units in the greenskin army wants to be close to the General, but with chariots coming on such narrow bases, they do have a decent chance of getting a place in the sun. However, it is not essential to keep your chariots within 12" of the General - they don't take Panic tests for taking 25% casualties (due to being a single model), so they don't have to test all that often.

 

Unit Strength

Chariots have a Unit Strength of 4, or 5 if ridden by a character. Personally I consider the lower value to be more useful, and would have preferred chariots to remain US4 even with a character. The primary advantage of a lower Unit Strength is that you do not cause Panic in friendly units if you run or are destroyed. As greenskins often spend a considerable portion of the battle in this state, not causing Panic is an advantage and one I think weighs up for all the downsides. What you can't do with a Unit Strength lower than 5 is to hold table quarters and negate ranks when flank charging something. Not being able to hold or contest table quarters isn't really a problem in a greenskin army, which should have heaps of units able to do this job anyway. When it comes to the flank charge (top of my list of things that are more easily said than done), the chance of pulling one off with a model that only moves 7 or 9 inches per turn are slim. Panic tests, on the other hand, can be a real problem for a greenskin army.

 

Single profile

Ever since 6th edition, chariots have used a single profile, which I on the whole find to be much more convenient than the old system where each component could be killed off separately. One change here in 7th edition is that enemies striking the chariot use the highest WS of the crew or animals, which means that Wolf Chariots now benefit from enemy attacks being against the higher Weapon Skill of the wolves. (In 5th edition a chariot would even benefit from the WS of a character riding in it - very convenient if you used a cheap Goblin Big Boss.) The main effect of chariots having a single statline, is that they become more like monsters and fight at full effect until completely destroyed. This makes chariots much better than fast cavalry for charging missile units, who will often be able to cause a Panic test on a wimpy unit of Wolf or Spider Riders. Should a chariot get shot up a bit, though, I tend to find that charging the first and best target next turn is a good idea. Waiting around will probably mean that you are shot completely to death next turn, so you might as well take some enemies with you. Amusingly, the CR an enemy unit can get from destroying a wounded chariot will often be lower than the damage the chariot does when crashing into the enemy ranks. This means that a suicidal charge into an ongoing combat is often not such a bad idea, even if the chariot is likely to be wrecked in return.

 

S7+ auto-destruct

I was really hoping that the writers of the new rulebook would ditch the silly rule that lets a single hit with a Strength of 7 or more that wounds a chariot automatically destroy it. It is not even limited to war machines or anything like that. Stupid! This rule makes your chariots excessively vulnerable to buff gits with great weapons, Dwarf bolt throwers with the Rune of Penetration and other junk like that. As there is nothing you can do about this rule, you should comfort yourself with the fact that as the greenies have such cheap chariots, this rule is much less of a disadvantage for them than it is for armies whose chariots cost 150+ points and are just as easily destroyed. It does, however, make no sense that a Boar Chariot is about twice as tough as the Wolf Chariot against all attacks below Strength 7, but just as easily destroyed by S7+ weapons. Heck, a hit from a cannon ball is more likely to kill a Boar Chariot with Toughnes 5 and 4 Wounds than it is to kill a Goblin Shaman with Toughness 3 and 2 Wounds. Hopefully this idiotic rule goes away in 8th edition.

To avoid auto-destruct occurences, have some care for your chariots. Firstly, do not charge units that have a Strength of 7 or more (Kroxigors, Dragon Ogres or Maneaters with great weapons or similar) or who contains a character with a Strength of 7. Thankfully, such characters tend to be more rare in 7th edition, since it it is more attractive to put characters on steeds than it used to be and mounted characters now get little benefit from great weapons. For those characters who can get Strength 7, assume that they will have this - even if they don't, they are not the type of model you want to be in contact with anyway, unless you get to charge them all by themselves. Mainly this will be Chaos, Ogre, Vampire and Saurus characters, though pretty much all the "evil" races can get up to Strength 7 if they want to, at least with Lords.

The second tip is to screen your chariots from enemy war machines who have (or can have, for some Dwarf and Skaven machines) Strength 7+. When deploying, make sure there is terrain or other units blocking line of sight for the enemy war machines (they tend to be more limited in this regard in 7th edition) or deploy far away. If your opponent has a cannon on a hill where it can see over intervening units, then deploying your chariot close to this hill is just handing your opponent easy Victory points. Some people will argue that at least when the opponent is shooting at your chariots he is not shooting at anything else in the army, but nailing a chariot is one of the best ways to use a cannon, so that is not really a good thing. Taking out enemy artilery as soon as possible (using fast cavalry, for example), is naturally advisable.

 

Limited

Chariots have been getting more limited lately, which is probably a good thing. Maybe when all Core chariots and 2 per Special chariots have gone away the designers will remove the silly S7+ auto-destruct rule. We can only hope. In the greenskin army, if you want a chariot, you will most of the time have to spend a Special choice to get it. Alternatively you can take a chariot-mounted character, in which case you don't need to spend any extra choices at all. Finally, you can get Pump Wagons for your (usually) much less fought-over Rare choices, though they are hardly normal chariots. Typically, though, each of your chariots will cost you a Special choice and as Orcs & Goblins have so many attractive Special choices, this tends to be what limits how many chariots you include. Points cost is much less of a problem - sixty points for a Goblin chariot or eighty points for an Orc chariot or a pair of Pump Wagons is not that hard to come by.

Traditionally I have spent half my available Special and Rare slots on chariots and the other half on war machines. In 6th edition this often meant one Boar Chariot, two Wolf Chariots and one Pump Wagon. In 7th edition, the Wolf Chariot is rather less attractive, since their job can be performed more or less by a unit of Wolf Riders and Boar Chariots have increased in my affection now that they are as common as the Goblin variant. Thus you will more often see me using two Boar Chariots and two Pump Wagons nowadays.

 

Selecting greenskin chariots

As the three types of greenskin chariots are so different, it is important to chose the right type according to their planned task.

 

Fast and fragile - the Goblin Wolf Chariot

Being an imbodiment of the old saying "live fast, die young", Wolf Chariots rarely survive the battle, but will often do a whole lot of damage before they expire. Their higher Movement means that they will often be able to charge a turn before the slower Boar Chariot is, and Wolf Chariots work brilliantly toghether with Wolf Riders. In particular they are quite good at taking out war machines who have been deployed a bit too far forward. Beyond the higher speed, the other main advantage of the Wolf Chariot is that it tends to do approximately the same damage as the Boar Chariot, while costing 20 points less. On the whole, though, I tend to hold the Boar Chariot higher in regard, mainly because the Wolf Chariot is no longer 2 per Special choice.

You must realise that the Goblin Chariot is very easy to destroy and a single D6 Strength 4 magic missile can take one out without too much luck. Therefore you cannot hang around with the Wolf Chariot, you must send it forward and into battle as soon as possible. If you are going to be slow and careful with it, you might as well have bought a Boar Chariot instead. Beyond the extra range (a Wolf Chariot can charge something that was initially 27" away in turn 2, as opposed to 21" for the Boar Chariot), there isn't really anything the Wolf Chariot is particularly better suited for than the Boar Chariot.

Extra crew is highly recommended for Wolf Chariots (it shouldn't even be too hard to fit them all into the cab), while an extra Wolf should be considered an option left in to please players with chariots they still have in use from 5th edition.

 

Slow and sturdy - the Orc Boar Chariot

The main selling point of the Boar Chariot is the improved Toughess, Wounds and save it has over the Wolf Chariot. Against anything with a Strength of less than 7, this means that the Boar Chariot can take about twice as much punishment as the Wolf Chariot. This means that the Boar Chariot will most likely take less damage as it moves across the table, which to a great extent makes up for the fact that it will probably get there later than the Wolf Chariot. It also tends to take less damage in close combat, though as chariots tend to kill everybody in base contact when they charge, this mainly makes a difference when the chariot is charged or fails to break the enemy on the charge - both being situations you should hope to avoid.

Other advantages of the Boar Chariot is a slightly higher Leadership and an immunity to Panic caused by Goblins. Neither is terribly great by itself, but taken together they give you a much more robust chariot that it much more difficult to blast or scare away than the Goblin Chariot.

As Boar Chariots is rather slow, its ideal partners are infantry. A decent unit of Orc Boyz are the best, with each complimenting the other magnificently. Boar Chariots can also be used to support Boar Boyz, but are not ideal at this task, due to their inability to march.

An extra crewman for a Boar Chariot is a good buy, provided that you can find room for him (I have not been able to do this).

 

Random and rickety - the Snotling Pump Wagon

Pump Wagons should really be considered half chariot - half small monster. They are (usually) slow, don't fight very well, is even easier to destroy than a Goblin Chariot, cannot flee if charged and will almost certainly break if charged by a pack of skinks. So what are the good points of a Pump Wagon? Firstly, they are dead cheap. So cheap, in fact, that you can toss in one or two just for fun with little risk. Secondly, they can charge all round, something few other things in the army can do. Thirdly, they are not afraid of anything (silly gits).

Combined this makes the Pump Wagon something best used out on the flanks, where they can worry skirmishers and other light units. This is also for the safety of the rest of the army. If the Pump Wagons are deployed close to more important units, they have a tendency to get in the way of friendly units and enemy units can get a chance to charge a Pump Wagon that moved a little too fast (yet not fast enough to make it into contact with the enemy), defeat it and overrun into the main Orc & Goblin battleline. Out on the flanks, though, Pump Wagons can easily fall prey to fast units that charge it, win the combat and break the Wagon that does not have the General close at hand (most of the time, the modified Ld of the General will be better than the unmodified Ld of the Snotlings).

Generally speaking, Pump Wagons should be considered very much a "fun unit". You cannot rely on them to do anything, not even to break and flee as required. Thus they are something you include if you have some points to spare and nothing better to spend them on. See my Small Monsters Tactica for more tips.

 

Uses for greenskin chariots

As you will see, chariot tactics mainly revolve around what to charge.

 

Supporting other units

Many of the attributes listed above make chariots great as support units, that is to say unit that work together with other units. They can defeat larger units on their own with a bit of luck, but they need a lot of luck if they are going to win by enough to break them. as mentioned above, the Movement of the chariot generally dictates what they work well with. Wolf Chariots work well with cavalry, such as Boar Boyz or Wolf Riders, while Boar Chariots work better with infantry. Pump Wagons, if you can say that they work well with anything, should also be teamed up with infantry.

In this sort of teamwork, the task of the chariot is to deal out a decent amount of damage, while the other unit will provide ranks, outnumbering and / or a standard. Alternatively the other unit can remove the ranks of the enemy unit with a flank charge, something fast cavalry is great at. By throwing a unit of Wolf Riders into the flank of something and a Wolf Chariot into the front, quite powerful units can be brought down easily enough. As mentioned above a flank charge is not usually easy to get, but a unit that can move 18" in one turn can help a lot.

When units are working in support, it can be wise to hold the chariot a bit further back than the other unit. A chariot tends to be much more vulnerable to getting charged than just about any unit you team it up with, so you don't want to give the opponent an easy target. The chariot can usually charge further than the unit it is supporting anyway, so holding it back is rarely a problem. A lot of the time the chariot's inability to march will mean that it moves slower than the other unit anyway.

Finally, it is worth mentioning how well two chariots work together. Against most standard infantry, two chariots charging together will do about ten casualties, leaving the footsloggers to struggle with a -5 penalty to their Break test even if they had full ranks, outnumbering and a standard. Furthermore, two pursuit rolls on 3D6 means that they infantry will almost certainly be run down. This is a great tactic against armies with little in the way of firepower.

 

Charging and hoping to win

Though a single chariot will usually need to be very lucky to defeat a large, solid unit by enough to break it, it does have a chance against less solid units. A single chariot has a decent chance against any unit which does not have the full +5 static CR (ranks, standard, outnumbering) and which also does not have too much armour. Good targets are war machines, missile units, fast cavalry and other chariots. Knights and small units of very tough infantry (Dwarf Hammerers, Flagellants, etc) are not targets you are likely to break, or even defeat using only a single chariot. Chariots are one of the best things to employ against units of missile infantry, such as Empire Handgunners. This is because the chariot will usually be able to start the charge at long range, giving the missile unit a -2 penalty to hit. Furthermore, unless the chariot is completely destroyed by the stand and shoot reaction, it will be able to complete the charge, and will almost certainly decisively beat the enemy unit. Similarly, chariots can be used against war machines, though here fast cavalry will often be better, since a lot of war machines are quite good against chariots, but less good against fast cavalry - a cannon can for example only kill a single Wolf Rider per turn, and will kill a Wolf Chariot a lot easier than even a single Wolf Rider, thanks to that stupid rule.

Fast cavalry make decent targets for chariots, though it is more common for fast cavalry to bait a chariot and try to distract it. Thus you might easily end up chasing fleeing fast cavalrymen with a chariot for most of the game, only to be charged by something nasty instead. On the bright side, chariots cannot march anyway, and so will move no slower with a failed charge move than if they were able to move normally. And with their good speed they have a decent chance of running down the fast cavalry if (or when) they flee. In my experience, people often do not think of chariots as being particularly good at taking out other chariots, but quite often they are. This is thanks to their high Strength, which means that even quite tough chariots will on average suffer two Wounds to a charging enemy chariot. Similarly, the enemy chariot will rarely be very good at damaging an enemy chariot that has just charged them, and a chariot will very rarely have any static CR at all. Finally, with their high Movement and narrow frontage, a chariot can more easily get to lurking chariots than other units can.

Additionally, there are a lot of other weak units you can send chariots against. Empire detachments make great targets, and one of the best ways of dealing with them is by using chariots.

 

Charging and expecting to lose

Sometimes you want to send a chariot into a combat you reckon it will lose. There can be several reasons for this, the most immediate being that you want to take out some enemy models. Perhaps your chariot is damaged and you want to take some enemies with you before you go. This can be a very dumb idea, as you may simply be giving the enemy a free pursuit roll in his own turn, but if you do a good deal of damage to a unit and get destroyed in return by a nasty character in the front rank, the enemy unit will just have to stand there. Of course, sometimes you do want the enemy to pursue you. One of the few times I got a real benefit out of being hated by Dwarfs was when a Wolf Chariot pursued into the flank of some Slayers. It killed a handful of stunties, but still lost the combat and broke. Thanks to hatred, the Dwarfs had to pursue, which set them up nicely for a flank charge in my turn.

The second main reason for a suicidal charge is to have a go at a character cowering in the enemy unit. You are not allowed to redirect impact hits onto characters in units (you could in 5th edition), but as long as you have a corner touching a fragile Wizard then all the crew and animals can attack him. Though you might very well end up with a soundly beaten chariot, you will have a good chance at taking out most low-level Wizards and even some Battle Standard Bearers. Furthermore, the chariot's 3D6 flee move will usually mean that it can outrun any pursuit by enemy infantry.

 

Characters in chariots

The main reason to mount a character in a chariot is to get another chariot without spending a Special choice on it. If this is not a priority for you, then I suggest you don't mount characters in chariots, as I belive that on the whole it is not a good setup. Instead, I would suggest that having a character on a steed next to a chariot is a better idea. You would place the mounted character in a unit, for example a unit of Orc Boyz, and then you have him charge out against the same target at the chariot. I recommend this setup mainly because this will give you two pursuit rolls whereas a character in a chariot naturally only gives you one. The single character / single chariot also fights a bit better, getting an extra crew and steed attack, though you essentially pay for that, so it's no biggie. What you lose is a chariot with Unit Strength 5, but as I explained above, I don't think this is an advantage at all.

There are a couple of interesting setups, though. The first is to place your General in a chariot, which gives it an additional D6" move when you declare a Waaagh!, which can be very nasty with a chariot. The second setup is a Battle Standard Bearer in a chariot with the Waaagh Banner, which is essentially the same thing. The third is a Savage Orc character in a chariot, which gives you a Frenzied Boar Chariot, which is very hard-hitting, though with the downside that you have to be very careful with how you screen him, or he may end up charging something inappropriate.

The main reason for going for chariot-mounted characters, though, should be to get extra chariots without using up your precious Special choices.

 

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