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Cave Bear

My First Army List

by Avian

For those who are interested, you can find the first greenskin army I ever fielded below. It was written for 5th edition (it was in the autumn of 1998) and the only reason it has been preserved is because that version of the army book had a blank roster sheet in the back where you could write down your army list. Ah, the nostalgia.

For the record, the battle was against the Dark Elves and I won it, though we played a lot of things wrong and I forgot a lot of stuff, so it probably doesn't count.


1000 pt 5th edition Orcs & Goblins army list

The army was based on my Hero Quest collection, with some additions I had bought after moving to Trondheim. It was a rather typical mix of units. I didn't own the Warhammer Magic supplement at the time (the rules for spells and magic items were not in either the rulebook or army book in those days), so it included rather few items as I had to quickly choose some from a borrowed magic book just before the battle.



Back in 5th edition, characters were not limited in number, only in that you could spend no more than 50% of your points on them (including the cost of any chariot or monster mount). Character points have stayed remarkably stable over the editions, compared to how the cost of troopers have varied, the exception being gobbo level 1 shamans, who now cost twice as much as in 5th edition. Note that I did not include any Shamans, something I'd agreed with my opponent as it was my first battle and I was still learning the basic rules. Had I been more experienced I would probably have taken better weaponry for my characters.

Orc Warboss @ 135 pts
- Hand weapon
- Armour of Meteoric Iron (2+ save, included a shield)

Yes, a Warboss of some type was compulsory, regardless of army size! Note that his magic armour turned into the Dead 'Ard Armour in 6th edition, but gave a 1+ armour save and didn't include a shield, for only 5 pts more. Later in 5th edition I realised that Orc Warbosses had a Ballistic Skill of 6(!) and could get a crossbow for only 3 pts, so they became standard issue. Other popular items with my generals was the Ogre Blade (+2 Strength) and the Jade Amulet, which gave the bearer a 2+ Ward save (the term was not invented until 6th edition, which cased some problems) against the first wound suffered, for only 5 pts.

Goblin Big Boss @ 37 pts
- Spear
- Light armour & shield

Dead cheap (the same cost as an Orc Boss) and you could have plenty of them. Gobbo Big Bosses were great in those days! One nasty little trick was to take a Night Goblin unit with the Bad Moon Banner (all models in the unit strike first, -1 to hit it with missile fire) and fill the entire first rank with Big Bosses armed with great weapons. Giving a Big Boss on foot a spear, on the other hand, was pointless, though I did not realise that at the time.

Orc Boss @ 46 pts
- Spear
- Light armour & shield
- Boar

Yes, Bosses were characters as well in those days, though they couldn't leave the unit they were assigned to. This guy led my Boar Boyz unit. Note also that boars gave the riders -1 Leadership (they were so pig-headed) back in those days, but characters paid next to nothing for regular mounts (8 pts for a boar). The downside with a steed for a character was that they could be picked out with shooting if they were in a unit of infantry. This was also true in 6th edition, but then the steeds were much more expensive and mounting your characters have never been less tempting.

Orc Boss @ 41 pts
- Hand weapon
- Light armour & shield
- Enchanted Shield

Champions had to have the same equipment as rank and file models, but could in addition buy magic items. This is one of the odd consquences of this - a model with two shields. Note that the Enchanted Shield has gone up five points in each of the last two editions.

Night Goblin Boss @ 16 pts
- Hand weapon
- Short bow

A bit useless, but at least gobbo Bosses got WS3, BS4 and S4, in addition to having two Attacks. It is worth noting that in those days, Lord-level characters cost 20 times as much as a basic trooper, Heroes cost two thirds as much as a Lord (and thus around 13 times as much as a trooper) and a Champion cost one third as much as a Lord (and thus six to seven times as much as a trooper).



You had to spend 25% of your army points total on mobs (basically anything that wasn't a character, war machine, chariot or monster other than Giants) and there was no upper limit other than the points you spent on your Warboss. Minimum unit size was five (including Bosses) for infantry and cavalry and a bit odd for things like Trolls, Giants and Snotlings.

19 Orc Boyz @ 197.5 pts
- Hand weapon
- Light armour & shield
- Standard bearer & musician
- Standard of Shielding (+1 armour save to unit)

A bit disappointing in 5th edition, Orc Boyz were not good fighters, had some resilience, but were rather costly. Strangely enough, you could get an Orc Big 'Un for only a single point more, which didn't make any kind of sense as the only difference was that the Big 'Uns had somewhat worse(!) weapon options.
Compared to those times, Orc Boyz now have +1 Strength in the first round of combat, +1 armour save, have better Animosity rules and cost 2.5 pts less per model! In 6th edition, though, Orcs may have been cheaper, but their choppas were just inferior hand weapons while they still had all other disadvantages, more expensive weapon options and could no longer get a magic standard.

4 Orc Boar Boyz @ 116 pts
- Spear
- Light armour & shield
- Standard bearer & musician

The Leadership penalty for riding boars has already been mentioned. Also worth noting is the fact that standard bearers and musicians each cost twice as much as a normal trooper (i.e. if the cost of a trooper was 27 pts, as it was in this case, it cost you +27 pts to upgrade one to a musician). Moreover, this was in a time when musician were of less value than they are today. Points values truly did often not make any sense in those days! And as mentioned, Bosses counted towards the minimum number of models in the unit.

24 Goblins @ 89 pts
- Spear
- Shield
- Standard bearer & musician

One thing they got right back in the old days was half-point equipment for really wimpy troops that could not use it very well - gobbos for example. They started at 2.5 pts and could get spears, shields and short bows at a half point each. Not only that, but they could get great weapons or halbers for 1 pt each. Back in those days, all gobbos shared the same statline (that of a current Night Goblin, but with Initiative 2) and the only difference between the three types of Goblins was that only common gobbos could have light armour and forest gobbos could not have halberds.
And of course all types could have magic standards, though only one unit of each type, in a unit that could be as small as five models...

23 Night Goblins @ 164 pts
- Short bow
- Standard bearer & musician
- 3 Fanatics

In a time when there was no such thing as an Outnumbering bonus and no extra armour save for hand weapons and shields in close combat, gobbos were of course a bit hopeless, so Fanatics were great to have. Along with a lot of other things they changed very little from 5th to 6th edition (apart from becoming 5 pts cheaper) and they were much improved in their latest edition, when they could always be released in the direction you wanted and units that ended on top of them took double damage.

4 Snotling bases @ 60 pts

Back in the old days, Snotlings were rather akward to use, since their 'Mimic' rule made them do the same as the closest friendly unit did, causing plenty of frustration and odd rules discussions. Amusingly they became frenzied if the closest friendly unit was also frenzied, but they only had a Strength and Toughness of 1(!), so they were absolutely hopeless in combat. On the bright side, they only broke from combat if the closest friendly unit did so.


War Machines

This category included war machines of various types, as well as chariots. You could spend up to 25% of your points on them, which could be annoying when you faced the High Elves or Dark Elves with their overpowered (four S4 shots that penetrated ranks, compared to only a single S5 shot for normal ones) and underpriced (50 pts!) Repeater Bolt Throwers, as they could potentially take ten(!) of them in a 2,000 pt list. Things were improved a bit when their points cost got doubled during 5th edition.
War machines were commonly limited by the type of regiments you had, but with the unit size of 5+ models even for infantry and considering what units allowed you war machines (any type of Orc mob let you take an unlimited number of Rock Lobbers, Bolt Throwers and Boar Chariots), this was not usually much of a problem.

1 Bolt Thrower @ 46.5 pts
- 3 Orc crew

You will notice right away that Orcs crewed the war machines (apart from Doom Divers, which did not actually have a crew as such) back in the old days and it was only from 6th edition that gobbos got that task. Secondly, you will notice the odd points cost. As with most things back in those days, points cost was a strictly mathematical formula - though a formula that often did not make much sense, which is why Big 'Uns only cost 1 pt more than Orc Boyz and got +1 WS and S, while light armour cost +2 pts. Bolt throwers, for example, cost 30 pts plus the cost of any crew. Compare also the original 50 pts Repeater Bolt Thrower with the Orc Bolt Thrower for only marginally less cost. Insanity!

1 Snotling Pump Wagon @ 40 pts

If you had at least one mob of Goblins, you could include as many Pump Wagons as you wished, which was ridiculous as these things were absurdly good for their cost. I've never had more than two, but if you scraped together the cash for, say, ten of them, you could demolish pretty much anything. You see, they did 2D6 hits as now, but the hits were Strength 7(!) instead of 4.


Monsters and Allies

There were two additional sections of the army list I pretty much never used, which you could each spend 25% of the army on. Monsters were pretty much any unridden monster (Giants were, as mentioned, mobs) while allies were units or characters freely chosen from a selection of other army lists. Greenskins could ally with Chaos, Chaos Dwarfs, Dark Elves and Skaven and so you could spend 25% of your points on Chaos Sorcerers, for example. It should by this point be obvious that the problems with 4th/5th edition was that the army lists often did not make any kind of sense. It was ridiculously easy to create absurdly powerful army lists that made no sense background-wise and points cost and availability had often very little to do with how powerful something was.


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