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Hold Out!

Ogre Magic Items

by Avian

Some silly people tend to compare how many magic items an army has access to and use that as some sort of scale where a lot of magic items is good and having only a few is bad. Naturally, this is a pretty ridiculous thing to do, as having a heap of useless items is not an advantage at all. When it comes to Ogres, in my opinion they have 2 useful Big names, 2 good magic weapon, 2 Talismans, 3 Arcane items, 2 Enchanted items and 1 Magic standard. A total of 12 overall good items out of a list of 38. This matches most other lists, where a third of the items are good, another third are passable - against some armies at least - and the last third is items nobody in their right mind wants to take.

What I want from my magic weapons is something that will have an effect all the time, without all those ifs and buts that tend to crop up in a lot of complicated but not too good items. Thus a good magic weapon is one you would prefer having at least 90% of the time when whacking enemies. If you keep wishing for a normal great weapon instead of the overpriced piece of gear you are stuck with then it's not a good item.




Magic Weapons

A good thing about a lot of ogre magic weapons (at least for those you want to take) is that they count as great weapons in addition to whatever special effect they have. Therefore you can avoid the problems a lot of other armies have, where often they would want to put away their magic weapon and draw a mundane one instead.


Thundermace (great weapon, single special attack that hits like a stone thrower)

Not recommended unless you are feeling lucky. Since you only get a single attack, then a third of the time (or worse, half the time, if you fight against something with good WS) your expensive character will do nothing at all. Of course, when it does hit it's likely to do considerable damage, provided you are fighting a large enough unit - against cavalry units in one rank, for example, a great weapon will probably do more damage.


The Tenderiser (great weapon, D3 Wounds)

Probably the most used Ogre magic weapon. Great against other character or big things and also great in challenges, even against puny champions, since you get a bonus for overkill. Compared to other items that do multiple wounds it is also great value (the Chaos Rending Sword is much the same without counting as a great weapon and only 10 pts cheaper) and as it counts as a great weapon it is also useful in those cases where D3 Wounds per wounding hit makes no difference. Heartily recommended.
Combine with Kineater and a Thiefstone and you get one of my favourite item setups.


Siegebreaker (great weapon, +3 S, strikes against Initiative)

Leaving aside its use against things without an initiative, Siegebreaker gives an extra -1 to enemy armour saves compared to a normal great weapon and lets you hit those high WS / low In characters on 3+ instead of 4+. Very useful against Dwarfs, for example, and for those extra armoured knights, halving the chance that a Chosen Chaos Knight is going to save the damage you do.
It is also fun to give this weapon to a Butcher or Slaughtermaster, since they lack mundane weapon options and 3 or 4 Strength 7 attacks on a wizard can come as a nast surprise to your opponent. It's especially useful if you do this against Dwarfs or Saurus Warriors, who have very low In, letting your Butcher hit them on 3+.
Not too expensive either, being roughly twice the cost of a great weapon for a Tyrant.


Skullplucker (killing blow)

There is a reason this weapon is not taken very often and that is because whenever you don't roll a 6 to wound (which you usually don't, after all) your simple, free ogre club would have been better. Heck, against Empire Knights, for example, hitting them with your free club will on average produce more kills than using the Skullplucker (1.4 compared to 1.3 kills for a Tyrant). Useless item.


Bloodcleaver (wounds inflicted are wounds healed)

I keep wanting to try out this weapon more often, but generally my Butchers spend all their magic item allowance on Arcane items, which I believe are overall more useful. And that comes from a player who has no qualms about getting his Butchers get into close combat and even involves them in challenges quite often.


Magic Armour

I find ogre magic armour to be a bit odd, many of them having abilities that would be more home on a Talisman. Thus there are few that actually protect the wearer from physical harm, mostly increasing your armour save to a 4+ if combined with heavy armour. That, as well as the fact that the items often have special abilities that don't come into play all that often, makes me skip this category entirely most of the time.


Mastodon Armour (effectively 2+ Ward against your last Wound)

I guess what is stopping me from taking this item is that those characters who have free magic item points to spend on it are not usually shot at (and vice-versa). And of course you have the little problem that even if you are saved, you are still down to 1 Wound. It is tempting to use it on a Hunter, though this will limit him to both moving slowly and fighting badly.


Greatskull (enemies miscast on double 1s, 2s and 3s)

I've used this a fair bit and current thinking is that two Gnoblar Thiefstones is a better buy. Okay, so the Greatskull basically trebles the chance of the enemy miscasting (for odds on Miscasts, see Casting Spells in 7th edition), but if only two or three dice are used, the chance for a Miscast is still rather low. Admittedly Miscasts have gotten nastier in 7th edition, but over all I'd rather have the Magic Resistance.


Bullgut (unit strength 6 when charging)

Only actually usefull if your character is running around on his own. If only my opponents would be careless to let me flank charge something worthwhile, I would have gotten much more out of this than I have so far, which is not a lot. Not strictly speaking a bad item, but as with most ogre magic armour, it's a bit too expensive and there are other things you'd much more like to buy.


Gut Maw (gain wounds from slain enemies in a challenge)

Fun item, but for me, my characters don't generally die because they run out of Wounds, they die because they break from combat and are run down. As with the Bullgut is't a bit too expensive and limited in use for my taste.


Greddy Fist (eats magic weapon on a successful save)

For this little item to actually do anything for you, not only do you have to face enemies who have bought magic weapons instead of the ever-popular great weapon, you also have to pass an armour or Ward save. Sounds just a bit too rare if you ask me. Not only that, but negating enemy magic weapons after your opponent has had a chance to attack is a bit pointless usless you are reckoning on a combat that lasts for several turns without the opponent being turned into a sticky patch on the ground. Remember the Wyrdstone Necklace and a Luck Gnobbo if you decide to go with this plan
The part about enemy wizards hit losing magic levels is cute, but most wizards you'll run hit will tend to die anyway, so it's not terribly useful.



Presented here in order of decreasing cost, which incidentally is also in order of increasing usefulness.


Cathayan Jet (3+ Ward against magic)

If you ask me, spending the same amount of points on Thiefstones will probably keep you safer from spells and also protect your unit from damage. Added to that, the Cathayan Jet doesn't stop those nasty spells that don't do direct damage, such as spells that stop you from moving or which makes you worse in combat.


Spangleshard (roll better than to wound roll to save)

I guess the reason people think this sounds good is because they think: "Wow, if my opponent rolled a 2 to wound, it's effectively a 3+ Ward save!" This is true, but it's missing the point - it is only a 3+ Ward if your opponent needs a 2+ to wound and then rolls a 2. If he needed a 2+ to wound and rolled a 6, it has no effect. The Wyrdstone Necklace is not only a better item, but it is also cheaper. The chance of preventing a Wound with the Spangleshard is as follows:
Opponent needs 6+ to wound: 0%
Opponent needs 5+ to wound: 8%
Opponent needs 4+ to wound: 17% (effectively 6+ Ward)
Opponent needs 3+ to wound: 25%
Opponent needs 2+ to wound: 33% (effectively 5+ Ward)

Thus even at it's best, it only has the same chance of preventing the wound as the Wyrdstone Necklace. At other times, the Necklace is better.


Wyrdstone Necklace (5+ Ward)

Whenever you don't roll a 1 at the start of the game this item is quite a deal compared to the 5+ Ward saves other armies get, which generally cost 50% more. However, if the opponent doesn't go after your character repeatedly with something nasty, you may well find that over time the Necklace causes more Wounds than it prevents. It you ask me, ogres do not really need Ward saves and it's better to rely on enemies being dead and unable to strike back at you.
Putting the Necklace on a Butcher or Slaughtermaster is an interesting option, since it can prevent a lot of the damage from casting Gut Magic (not Trollguts, though) and if you roll a 1 at the start of the battle, you can heal it with Bloodgruel.


Gnoblar Thiefstone (Magic resistance 1-3)

A really good item and it can be tailored to your preferences as well. I love the option of throwing in a Thiefstone if a character has 15 pts to spare on his magic item quota and if you are very worried, you can go for two. Three, in my opinion, is more than you need, since an opponent will usually decide that MR2 is hard enough to get through and cast his spells on other units.
Remember also that just because a character can take more than one Thiefstone, you cannot give Thiefstones to more than one character in the army, since there is no exception in its rules that allow for that.


Arcane items

Ogres actually have some rather decent arcane items, and annoyingly the limit of 1 per Butcher keeps you from utilising all of them.


Hellheart (opponents miscast on all doubles)

I guess my opponents generally do not rely on magic enough for this item to be worth it for me. The most likely result of using the Hellheart is that your opponent chooses not to use magic at all that turn, or only casts spells using two dice or less. To me, that doesn't sound all that great and I'd rather have two Dispel scrolls which can be used in different turns against those spells you have to avoid and then relying on your Dispel dice for the other spells or going for Magic resistance. An item that will probably shut down magic for one turn, but which has no effect beyond that is not very attractive to me. And there is of course the chance of your Butchers taking damage if he miscasts and rolls a 1.
The odds of rolling doubles are as follows:
One dice: 17% (6 out of 36 combinations)
Two dice: 44% (90 out of 216 combinations)
Three dice: 72% (936 out of 1296 combinations)


Grut's Sickle (cause wounds on own unit to get Power dice)

Who in their right mind would want to pay 35 pts for the option of causing wounds to your own 35 pt (or costlier) models in exchange for Power dice? Not me, that's for sure. If you want extra Power dice, get a Power Stone instead.
Allows you to perform the very rare "mercy killing" where you kill off a Bull reduced to 1 Wound, to prevent the opponent from killing off an ogre easily in close combat or with shooting.


Halfling Cookbook (reduce damage from Gut Magic)

The third best ogre Arcane item, and as I usually field no more than two Butchers, not an item that I use very often. It's not that it isn't useful, it's just that the Bangstick and Skullmantle are better. Combine this little item with the Wyrdstone Necklace and a Luck Gnoblar and you have a Butcher that just keeps going.


Bangstick (bound spell)

Very good item, especially since it has a decent range, a trait that is lacking in most ogre spells. There is nearly always something interesting to zap with the Bangstick, most notably those annoying support units, such as skirmishers and fast cavalry. Use it at the start of the magic phase to make the opponent drain away his Dispel dice, giving you other spells a greater chance of getting through. Of course, the first time you use it should be at the end of your magic phase, when the opponent has spent all his Dispel dice, as a nasty surprise.


Skullmantle (-1 to all enemy Ld tests)

A great item that has saved my neck plenty of times. An extra -1 to all enemy Leadership tests which involves the character or the unit he is with is just amazingly good (apart from against Undead, that is) and at a ridiculously low price. Obviously, a Butcher with this item will cast Braingobbler quite a lot.
Combine it with the Fistful of Laurels and a Thiefstone and you get a very good support for whichever unit you place your Butcher in.


Enchanted items

Personally I find most of these too expensive for what they do.


Brahmir Statue (-3 to psychology tests for Chaos and Skaven)

As a rule, I don't like items that only work against specific armies (though in this case it's an item that doesn't work against some of the armies it has an effect against - Khorne and Slaanesh armies not usually taking many Psychology tests). OK, so it might be useful against Nurgle, Tzeentch or Skaven, but it just feels like a cop-out to me - you are fighting against Army X so you take the Anti-Army X item. Bah! I wish there were fewer such items out there.
Another problem with this item is that at 35 pts, it's hard to combine it with other items that you want to have.


Daemon-killer Scars (Terror)

When I read the description of this item, I was disappointed that an item with such a cool name was only warpaint and not actually scars your Tyrant had gotten from battling Greater Daemons. Dull!
Anyway, Terror is a very variable special rule to have, relying on the opponent being unlucky on a few, vital dice rolls. It's just not for me. I don't mind Terror when it comes "built in", such as with large monsters, but I would not spend my characters magic item quota on getting it.


Greyback Pelt (Yhetee-like abilities)

I have probably said it before, but the opponent should not get much of a chance to attack your nasty combat character, he should be dead. Going by that, an item that reduces his chances to hit is not particularly good. That leaves the ability to scale terrain, which is only really useful if there is plenty of terrain on the table and your character is running around on his own or with his trusty Sabretusks. Personally I would rather have the Longstrider Big name.


Jade Lion (re-roll psychology tests)

Commonly bought together with the Mawseeker Big name, to lessen the chance of Stupidity. As a side effect to this, it also lets the unit the character is with re-roll failed Panic and Terror tests, which can be handy. Not really a bad item as such, but skipping Mawseeker and trading Jade Lion for a Kineater tends to be better, in my opinion.


Rock Eye (spot magic items)

Should be considered near-mandatory against Dwarfs and avoided against everyone else. Against nearly all armies out there, this item is seriously overcosted and has the glaring disadvantage that even if you find out what items an enemy unit is carrying, there isn't much you can do about it. Dwarfs are an exception, not only do they have a lot of good magic gear and a lot of units that can have it, they are also generally slow enough to let you avoid those units that have geared up the most on anti-ogre items.


Fistful of Laurels (re-roll one break test)

With the primary cause of death for my characters being run down after breaking from combat, it is little wonder that I really like this item and will make certain I have it if I don't take a Battle Standard, often giving it to a Butcher. Current thinking also holds that the best item combo for a Bruiser General in armies below 2000 pts is the Laurels and two Thiefstones (along with a great weapon).


Magic Standards

Sadly, these are mainly rubbish and not worth it compared to the good old War Banner (but then, few magic standards are).


Dragonhide (re-roll 1s when charging)

It's monstrously expensive and to be honest, when a unit with my Battle Standard charges, they tend not to need much help. I would rather have an item that gave me a bonus when I was charged.


Ragbanner (extra dice for Panic tests)

For the same cost as this banner, you can have the Kineater Big name, which not only does pretty much the same thing for the unit, but which also protects other units nearby. Not very useful.


Cannibal totem (re-roll to hit and to wound against other big guys)

When two ogre armies face each other, the Ironguts on each side both tend to have this banner. Against nearly all other armies, it's useless. And of course, having no choice in when to overrun or pursue can lead you into nasty situations.


Bull Standard (re-roll wounds from Bull charge)

Bull charge is pretty easy for an opponent to avoid, so this item will often do nothing much for you. And as mentioned before, ogres who get to charge don't need that much help. Realistically, a War Banner will tend to be just as good, even when you charge, and also work when not charging.


Rune Maw (redirect spells on a 2+)

The only ogre banner that is actually worth considering. With a nice unit of Gnobbos nearby it actually makes the unit pretty safe from spells. Not too shabby, though I usually rely more on not being targeted by spells at all, if I can avoid it.


Big Names

Big names are unique to ogres, possibly because most are so useless that no other races want them. There are a couple of decent ones, though.


Kineater (re-roll Panic tests within 6")

The best of the lot and very common in my Ogre army. 6" is not very far, but since ogres are so expensive, they should lump together and attack all at one place anyway, so it's not a big problem. Kineater keeps your missile screen of Bulls going for longer and helps the more expensive ogres following behind from getting shot up.


Mountaineater (never wounded on better than 3+)

Who wants to pay 25 pts for this rubbish? Only vaguely useful against the nastiest attacks, and not very good against those. Compared to the 20% chance it gives you to save Strength 7+ attacks with the flat 33% chance to save the Wyrdstone Necklace gives you against all attacks (and I don't even thing the Necklace is all that good) and you'll see how crappy it is.


Longstrider (+1 Movement)

The other good Big name, if you want my opinion. No ifs or buts present, just gives you a flat +1 Movement increase. It's slightly overcosted, if you ask me, possibly to make sure you don't give a Hero the Longstrider as well as the Bullgut. Longstrider is great on a solo Tyrant or even for pulling off surprise solo charges out of units (one of my favourite tactics). Most importantly, it gives him that extra D6 for running down things (or getting out of trouble if you charge him into a combat that was too much for him).
A classic option is to give Longstrider to Hunters, but then you might want to take a unit of three Yhetees instead and save the character choice. They have the same Movement, two points higher unit strength and 9 S5 attacks compared to 4 S5 and 6 S4 attacks while costing slightly less.


Giantbreaker (+1 Strength)

Okay if you want to take a Slavegiant anyway, but I rarely want to take a Slavegiant, so I rate it rather low. The condition that you cannot refuse challenges or flee from a charge is a minor point and not something to worry about, you don't want to do this very often with your expensive charcters anyway. The good thing about Giantbreaker is that it gives you that Strength of 6, which makes you wound pretty much all foes on a 2+, letting you concentrate on upping something other than your character's Strength for once. Thus, a Giantbreaker might want a Cathayan longsword, or one of the common magic weapons.
It is also worth considering that you can also give this ability to a Hunter, making him S6 and all attacks having a -4 save modifier.


Deathcheater (one enemy must re-roll to wound once per battle)

I chose this for a campaign character once and was forced to take the useless thing every battle for half a year. Not something I will repeat anytime soon. The limit on only actually working once and against a single opponent makes this one not worth it at all.


Beastkiller (Immune to Psychology and double wounds against Large targets)

Firstly, in 7th edition, Immunity to Psychology only works if the character is on his own and the character loses it if he is in a unit that is not Immune to Psychology. And on your own you don't really want to be Immune to Psychology, since you have decent Leadership (thus being likely to pass those test anyway) and being forbidden from fleeing from a charge is not a good thing.
And of course, the chance of getting into combat with a Large target is rather low.


Wallcrusher (double hits from Bull charge and ignore defended obstacles)

Again not a good item, since it is rather difficult to get a Bull charge against a competent opponent and there just aren't that many defended obstacles around (at least not around here). On the good side, this item is at least rather cheap and doesn't come with any downsides, so I occasionally bung it on my Battle Standard Bearer.


Mawseeker (+1 Toughness and Stupidity)

I have quite a lot of experience in using this Big name on a Bruiser and with his Leadership of 8 I don't think it's worth it, not even if you also buy him the Jade Lion. On Ld9 characters it's a bit different, but overall I feel that it's not a good buy, since you will almost certainly also buy the Jade Lion and that eats up 40 pts of your magic items quota for what effectively amounts to +1 Toughness and a re-roll of Panic tests. I tend to say it a lot, but I don't think that stocking up on items that makes your fighter character more resilient is really all that effective.


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