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Morglum Necksnapper

Ogre Weapon Options

by Avian

Ogres have some unique items of equipment at their disposal and thus an often recurring question on Internet fora is which is better. In this little article I will crunch some numbers and give you my opinion.



Bull weapon options

Maneater weapon options


Bull weapon options

If you ask me, a Bull unit should get additional hand weapons pretty much all the time, unless you are fighting against armies with almost exclusively high armour saves and even then you probably want to stock up on Ironguts instead. Even against only moderately tough enemies, such as Dwarfs Warriors with hand weapons and shields, an Irongut will do more than twice as much damage as a Bull with a club for only 13 pts more. Thus the Ogre player will use Bulls with additional hand weapons for anything soft and Ironguts for anything moderately tough (against very tough enemies you want Maneaters).


Ogre clubs vs. additional hand weapons

The question of when to use what pops up a lot. The answer is that for a Bull (or a Bruiser / Maneater), they are equally good versus 3+ armour saves, with the clubs being better against 2+ or better saves and additional hand weapons being better against 4+ or worse armour saves. On a Tyrant they are equally good against 4+ armour saves, again with the club being better against better armour saves and additional hand weapons being better against worse saves.

Proof? Additional hand weapons and clubs both have the same chance of hitting and wounding, the only difference is the number of attacks and the chance to save. We therefore ignore hitting and wounding and concentrate only on the interesting bits. A S4 Bull with additional hand weapons will have 4 attacks. Against a 3+ save half will be saved (4+ to save), so 2 Wounds are inflicted. With an ogre club he will only have 3 attacks, but only one third will be saved (on 5+), so again 2 Wounds are infliced.
A Bruiser or Maneater will make 5 Attacks with additional hand weapons and against 3+ saves one third will be saved (on a 5+), so 3.33 Wounds are infliced. With 4 Attacks with a club, only a sixth are saved (6s to save) and again 3.33 wounds are inflicted.
Tyrants hit at the same strength as Bruisers, but have more attacks, a whupping 6 Attacks with additional hand weapons. Against 4+ saves one sixth are saved (on 6s), meaning that 5 Wounds are inflicted. With an ogre club he would have 5 Attacks and the opponent would not get a save at all, so 5 Wounds here also. Obviously, for a Tyrant, there is not a lot of point in going for the extra Attacks as they'll only pay off against enemies with 5+ saves or worse.

It should be mentioned that even before the two weapons break even, there isn't that much difference between the two, and it's up to the player whether he thinks the cost for additional hand weapons is worth it when dealing with enemies that mainly have 4+ armour saves. Ogre clubs, after all, are free.

Notes: If you boost the ogre's Strength then the spot where they are equal will obviously shift one step for each +1 S, ie. with a Bull / Bruiser they are equal vs. 2+ saves, while they are equal vs. 3+ saves with Tyrants.


Ironfists as additional hand weapon vs. ironfists as shield

This is another comparison that crops up a lot. The short answer is that ironfists should be used defensively against enemies with heaps of Strength 3 or 4 attacks, and not against very many other opponents. A lot depends on how many ogres you can save from dying. It should be realized that ironfists used defensively are mainly a defensive weapon - when you charge you will nearly always kill enough enemies to make you reasably safe from return attacks.

Another snag here is also that against enemies that can throw that many Attacks against you, you probably want to avoid the combat anyway, since you are likely to lose the combat regardless of how you use the ironfist.

This question also has two parts. The first is: Should I buy light armour or not? While the second is: When does it pay to use Ironfists as shields? Naturally the two affect each other. If you did not buy light armour and you're facing S5 attacks, then there is no chance to save anyway and the only real quesstion is whether you should use additional hand weapons or ogre clubs (see above). If you did buy light armour there is a small chance to save, but to be honest it probably isn't worth going for. A good rule of thumb is that if you think the light armour will actually have any effect in one out of every twelve times you're hit, then at least it's worth considering (since light armour costs approximately 1/12.of the cost of a Bull). If you think most hits will be S4 or more and you don't intend to use the 'fists as shields, then light armour is a waste of points.

Personally I have used my ironfists as shields exactly three times in the last year and a half - two times because I desperately wanted to avoid losing an Ogre so that I could preserve my unit strength and get the outnumbering bonus (against Saurus Warriors, winning the combat by 1 point and automatically breaking the opponent is a lot better than winning by 1 point and hoping he'll fail a Ld7 cold-blooded break test) and the third time was against a Spirit Host, which I couldn't hurt anyway, so there was no point in the additional Attacks.

To sum it up, there is a reason you only pay one more point for an ironfist over an additional hand weapon. Happily, this also means that if you like the look of an ogre with an ironfist, getting them won't set you back very many points.


Maneater weapon options

The third common question (there are only two units in the ogre army with weapons, so there is a limit to how many questions on equipment there can be) is whether to give your Maneaters great weapons or cathayan longswords or possibly handguns (which count as additional hand weapons in close combat). I'll skip the shooting abilities of handguns for the moment, as they really depend on whether or not there is a worthwhile target. After all, if all you have to shoot are goblins, you don't want to waste time by moving more slowly so you can kill the odd 3-point git with your 90-point hardcases.


Cathayan longswords vs. brace of handguns

To see which is better, cross index your victim's weapon skill with his armour save to find the best weapon for causing his demise. Note that the Toughness of the enemy is of no consideration here, both weapons have the same chance of wounding so if one weapon is better against Toughness 3 enemies, it's better against T4 enemies as well.

  5+ saves or worse 4+ saves 3+ saves 2+ saves 1+ saves
WS3 or less Handguns Handguns Even Longsword Longsword
WS4 Longsword Longsword Longsword Longsword Longsword
WS5 or higher Handguns Handguns Even Longsword Longsword

As you can see, when you are not dealing with enemies with WS4, in which case the extra to hit modifier makes the longsword best against all opponents, the longsword is best against 2+ saves or better, while the handguns are best against 4+ saves or worse. This is as mentioned not considering the shooting abilities of the handguns, so if you expect many worthwhile targets, you may consider the brace of handguns even when it is slightly worse in close combat. Neither is the boosted Initiative considered, though to be honest that only makes a difference against enemies with WS3 and they tend not to hit all that hard anyway, so it's a minor issue.


Great weapon vs. brace of handguns

To see which is better, cross index your victim's Toughness with his armour save to find the best weapon for causing his demise. Note that the Weapon skill of the enemy is of no consideration here, both weapons have the same chance of hitting so if one weapon is better against WS 3 enemies, it's better against WS4 enemies as well.

  5+ saves or worse 4+ saves 3+ saves or better
T3 or less Handguns Handguns Great weapon
T4 Even Great weapon Great weapon
T5 or higher Great weapon Great weapon Great weapon

In this case there is less to think about, the great weapon being at least as good against everything that has a 3+ save or better or T4 or more and being progressively better than a brace of handguns the tougher and better armoured the victim is. Again, the shooting abilities of handguns or their ability to strike at Initiative 3 instead of last in later turns is not taken into account, so if you think you will strike first in a second turn (with Maneaters there often isn't a second turn) or if you have something worthwhile to shoot at, you may want handguns.


Cathayan longsword vs. great weapon

In this case there are more variables involved, since both chances to hit, wound and save differ between the two weapons. I will simplify it somewhat, though, but informing you that when the two weapons both hit on the same dice roll, versus enemies that do not have WS4, the great weapon is better in all cases except against T3 4+ armour save troops, in which case the two are equal. Against WS4 enemies, you may cross reference the victim's Toughness and armour save in the table below to find the best weapon.

  4+ saves or worse 3+ saves 2+ saves 1+ saves
T3 or less Longsword Longsword Longsword Even
T4 Longsword Great weapon Great weapon Great weapon
T5 or higher Great weapon Great weapon Great weapon Great weapon

A little simplified we may say that for WS4 victims, the longsword is best against models with Toughness 3 or less, while the great weapon is better against models with Toughness 4 or more. In nearly every other case, the great weapon is better, unless the strike order makes a difference, which it of course might.


Overall comparison of Maneater weapon options

As I've mentioned before, a lot depends on if there is anything worthwhile to shoot at or if the differences in Initiative make a difference. That aside, the different weapons are at their best in the following cases:

Brace of handguns: Toughness 3 enemies, 4+ saves or worse, not WS4 - horde infantry (skaven, goblins, orc boyz, skeletons), very elite elf infantry
Great weapons: Toughness 4 or higher and decent armour (3+ saves or better) - knights without WS4, heavy infantry (dwarfs, chaos warriors, saurus warriors), monsters, chariots
Longsword: Toughness 3 enemies with 2+ saves or better and / or WS4 - knights with WS4, decent infantry (normal elves, chaos marauders, empire swordsmen)

Okay, so the option to mix weapons might be fun, but most of the time I just max out on great weapons. I have experimented with the odd longsword-armed model in the unit, but he tended to be the first model I removed as a casualty, without getting to strike very much. Nowadays I field a trio of great weapon toting Maneaters and I'm quite happy with them. Remember also that against whimps (i.e. models you'll wound on a 2+ with no armour save when using just a hand weapon), a Maneater with a great weapon may choose to not use his primary weapon and thus not strike last next turn. Convenient against swarms, for example.


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