Warcry – Understanding your Warband’s Strengths


Today we’re going to do a Warband review, and although I’m going to focus on the Horns of Hashut this is a process you can take when looking at any warband.  In an earlier video we looked at the basics of putting a warband together, so stuff like 1 leader, 2 allies, 3 thralls, etc. If you’re completely new to building a warband, check that video out first.

Due to a viewer request, we’re looking at the Horns of Hashut. This warband came in the Heart of Ghur starter pack but you can now pick them up in their own box. Hashut is a god of Fire and Darkness, typically associated with the Chaos Dwarfs. The Horns of Hashut are the forward scouts, the vanguard for the Duardin Legions. So that explains the flamehurler and ash bombs. Images of Hashut often have him with bull like horns, the bull centaurs featured quite heavily in the old Chaos Dwarf line which does explain the helms.

The warband comes with 10 fighters in total, a Ruinator Alpha as the Leader,  one Ruinator, 5 Demolishers including one with a Flamerhurler, and 3 Shatterers. When putting together a warband it’s good to ask ourselves how is this warband unique? What’s special about them?

This first thing I like to do, is take a look at the numbers and compare them to other fighters. For this I use scatter plots. Showing damage and wounds versus points. I’ve talked about this before in the understanding fighter characteristic videos and others, but the version here is a dashboard that you can play around with yourself, link in the description. Comparing your fighters to the entire pool is important as the numbers by themselves don’t tell you much.

Here we’ve selected the Horns of Hashut warband. Each of the fighters appear as a darker dot and you can hover over them to see the name. For this video I’ve added labels to make that easier. The most expensive model in this warband is the Ruinator Alpha at 165 points which in the more elite warbands would be considered a cheap model. We can see a few of the models have two options, that will either be where there are two weapon profiles or where they have a ranged and melee option. That very low damage dot around 125 is the melee option for the Flamehurler. 

So what can we see? 

Well, the Shatterer is looking pretty good near the top for the 55 point cost. The Demolisher is pretty average damage, certainly not bad but not near the top. The Ruinator is near the top of the 125 point range, but if you look to the left you can see that from about 180 to 125 the damage is relatively flat. The most efficient models will be at the first peak of those steps, so while the Ruinator is doing good damage compared to other 125 points models, you can get cheaper models doing the same damage. The Ruinator Alpha sits at a similar damage to the Ruinator but hopefully has some more advantages.

To get a better idea of what the Flamehurler is like we change the selection to range 6+ fighters. Here we can see the Flamehurler is relatively competitive when it comes to ranged attacks, the majority of the cheap ranged attacks are in the Kharadron Overlords. If you exclude them, then the Flamehurler is sitting at a pretty good spot.

Looking over the wounds we can see the Ruinators and Demolishers are probably a little below average especially when you pay the extra for the Flamehurler. The Shatterer on the other hand is looking pretty good. This isn’t taking Toughness into account though, so if we see high toughness on the Demolishers and low toughness on the Shatterers that would change things.

Of course, looking at the numbers in a vacuum does not give an accurate reflection of whats going on. We should also take some time to look at the abilities this warband has.

There are 4 abilities that are core to this warband, a Reaction, 2 Doubles, and a Triple. Of those 3 require the Warrior runemark which as we’ll see later, everyone in this warband except the Shatterer has. So out of these four, the Shatterer can only use the Merciless Cruelty.

A lot of abilities in this game are damage focused, often with a lot of hoops to get through to finally get to the actual damage. When looking at abilities like this it is always worth your while actually working out the average damage. I always calculate versus a toughness 4 target but you might find recalculating against different targets might be useful.

Looking at Stampede of Iron for example, this is a pretty standard Charge ability that we see across many warbands. You roll 1 dice and on a 4+ get to do 1 damage, on a 6 that damage is instead the ability value. So best case scenario we have a double 6. On a 1-3 we do 0 damage, on a 4-5 1 damage, and on a 6 we do 6 damage. We can map out that dice roll, add up all the damage there so 8 and divide by the number of sides on the dice so 6, to get an average damage. In this case only 1.3 damage.

The default to compare a double ability against is Onslaught which will give an extra attack dice to a melee attack. So depending on the fighter there will be cases where Stampede of Iron will be useful, and it’s worth out while working that out ahead of time.

When looking at Reactions, we also need to factor in the cost of an action. For many reactions, you’re only going to use them if it looks like your fighter is about to go down, since getting any sort of advantage now is better than nothing. Also, you have to factor in that during narrative play, you will have points of renown which will let you activate reactions without spending an action, so often in matched play where you don’t have that option reactions seem a little weak.

In this case, the Breath of Cinder and Smoke ability might do a little damage and might reduce the targets strength. Interestingly, you can stack this with multiple fighters reacting to try bring the targets strength further. It’s random, and as it’s locked into the higher cost Warriors the loss of an action is big, but it could have a lot of utility in a situation like holding an objective where you’re looking to tank through some damage. Losing 1 strength typically means losing 1 average damage, although once that strength is under the toughness of your defending fighter any more won’t make a difference.

Last, for abilities, I want to talk about Triples, and to a certain extend Quads. 

At the bottom we have a bunch of dice. Ignore the numbers on them, what we’re interested in is the chance of getting doubles, triples, and quads. The chance of a quad is about 5%, so pretty unreliable. The chance of a Triple is around 30%, so Doubles are going to be your bread and butter. Now the Wild Dice do let you upgrade your dice, but you can only upgrade a set of dice once, so you can’t take a double and use two wild dice to turn it into a quad. This means wild dice turn Triples into something pretty reliable, but not quads.

The Universal Triple abilities are Respite and Inspiring Presence, both powerful abilities that have won games for me. They are not abilities you will want to use every turn however, unlike say the Double Onslaught. So the triple for your warband really becomes a signature ability. You’ve got a good chance of popping it every turn and it should have an impact.

The Triple for the Horns of Hashut is Ash Bomb. It has 6 inches range, and sets up a token. Enemy fighters within 3 inches of the centre of that token lose 1 attack dice and 1 toughness. So you’re reducing their damage and potentially increasing your own. As the token is static, this does mean they can just walk away from it, but if they’re already locked in combat or have already acted this round that’s less of an issue.

In comparison to other Triples, Ash Bomb lacks the raw power of others but the combination of offense and defense at the same time is very rare and in a key fighter, between two leaders for example, Ash Bomb has the potential to win games.

Okay, we’ve looked at some, but not all of the abilities for this Warband. The next thing we’re going to do is focus on each of the fighter options starting with the Leader.

The Ruinator Alpha can be built in two different ways, either with a War Bident or a Heavy Flail. You can see they are the exact same points and are identical apart from the weapon profiles. If we look at average damage then we can see the Flail wins out. I suspect the reason for this is the designers were valuing the higher crit of 5 in combination with the ability Lay to Waste where you could crit on 5s as well as 5s. 

It’s easy enough to work out the numbers though, against T4 the average damage would move from 4.5 to 6 for the Bident and from 5.33 to 6.66. So even with this ability the Heavy Flail is better. Worse still, just getting an extra dice with Onslaught brings the Heavy Flail to 6.9 so we’ll stick with the Heavy Flail and Universal Onslaught.

Looking over the fighter, at 165 is in the mid range which makes him an interesting fighter. He’s not going to be an enemy Leader killer but we can also get an Ally to fill that role if needed. My baseline in a fighter is 4 move, 4 toughness, 3 wounds per 25 points, and 1 damage per 25  points. So everything but the damage is about where expected, we have damage of 5.3 but were hoping for closer to 6.6 although we do have that against T3 targets. We are getting reach 2 on this fighter which is very nice, in theory we’re paying the minimal cost but are still able to stay at range when attacking so denying the enemy an attack. 

There is a Quad here specific to the Ruinator Alpha, I’m not going to read it but would recommend ignoring all Quads until you have the warband together and then work out when using this quad would be better than Rampage which is the gold standard for Quads.

Next we have the Ruinator, who is very similar to the Alpha but 40 points cheaper 5 less wounds and loses the reach. That last part is the kicker, if we still had that reach 2 this fighter would be fantastic. Still, the damage is over the 5 we’d look for at this points cost so that’s really good and everything else is on target, so I’m happy enough that this is a solid fighter.

Next we have the Demolisher who comes in two forms, with shield or with two weapons. Shield gets you 5 armour while two weapons brings the average damage up to the expected 4. Again, solid but uninspiring fighters. The two weapon variety certainly ticks all the boxes I’m looking for in a fighter, maybe at 5 more points that I’d hope but that’s just because all my hopes and dreams are in 25 point segments. Whether 5 armour is worth it or not really depends on your own meta and what you’re expecting to see. Due to the way Toughness and Strength interact there is a bit of a meta game with them. If in doubt, go with more damage.

Last out of the Warriors we have the Flamehurler. As we saw earlier on the plots, this is actually one of the best ranged fighters in chaos and is competitive with the Kharadron Overlords who essentially have the monopoly. It is only ranged 6 though and as the fighter only had a weapon swap and points increase, the wounds are much lower than expected. That said, two of these are going to be able to drop on average 16 damage on a target within 6 inches of them, so you could get a lot of work done with that. As it is a ranged attack, they can’t target enemies who get into melee with another friendly fighter but thankfully the new FAQ does give them the option to still target enemies within 3 inches even if they are in melee.

As ranged fighters they cannot use Onslaught, so here the Merciless Cruelty double is pretty nice. Although it is only for 1 attack and only works if you have an extra damage. The Flamehurler then is probably your best candidate for the Ash Bomb, although due to the high strength of the Flamehurler already they will only see benefit themselves if the target is 5, 6, or 7 toughness. That will free up the doubles for use with the melee fighters though, letting them get extra benefit from both abilities.

Last up, we have the Shatterer who really is the star of this warband. For 50 points we’d expect 6 wounds and 2 damage. We’re getting 10 wounds and 2.5 damage along with a reach of 2. If you pull up the dashboard and play around you’ll find there are a few other cheap fighters with reach 2 but they’re typically 3 move so the Shatterer having all this and move 4 is big. The only down side is the 3 toughness, but of all the possible problems to have that ones not so bad.

The Shatterer has no runemarks and notably lacks the Warrior runemark, so no Breath of Cinder and Smoke Reaction and although they can benefit from the Ash Bomb the Shatterer’s cannot throw it.

So we’ve highlighted 3 potential strengths for this warband. First is the Demolisher with Flamehurler, it’s a little more expensive than we’d like and doesn’t compare well against the Kharadron Overlords, but within Chaos this is one of the best ranged fighters around.

The Shatterer is probably the strongest element of the list, good stats and damage for very few points along with reach 2 which sets them apart.

Last, the Ash Bomb, the ability selection for this warband hasn’t been very exciting but if we can get an Ash Bomb up every turn we can debuff a target and boost all attacks against them letting us pick off key enemy units in relative safety.

So what next.

Okay. So now we have a better idea of what the warband is like. Luckily this is one of the Bespoke Warbands so there arene’t a lot of fighters to get through. Bespoke means made for a specific person normally talking about clothes, in this context we mean the Warband was made specifically for Warcry rather than being one of the Age of Sgimar factions.

If you have just one box, you go with what you have. The only option seems to be with the leader, but as we saw the Heavy Flail is really the only option. If you’ve already built your leader as the Bident, I’d suggest just running it as the Heavy Flail anyway. 

If you get two boxes, then you have a few more options. I’d suggest this as an initial setup. We’re playing all the Shatterers we have, and all the Flamehurlers. Everything is relatively cheap, so we’re able to take 11 fighters in total. That will give you a lot of board coverage.

I’d keep the Flamehurlers together, aiming to double up their damage whenever they can.

We have 2 of the Ruinators. They’re not super exciting, but they are very good. What I love about this warband is that apart from the Ruinators, everyone has a reach of 2. So we’re forcing out opponent to waste actions come to us.

Now that’s not to say the Demolishers are bad, quite the contrary, but in this list we’re trying to focus on what’s unique about the Horns of Hashut.

We also have options for Allys and Thralls. For more on this check out my Chaos Allies video and as we’ve recently gained the Underworlds fighter, there’s another video for just those options. For the Horns of Hashut, there really are only two choices, Horns or no Horns. We probably want something super dangerous to deal with enemy problems and the Centaurian Marshall, Ogroid Myrmidon, and Doombull all meet the dress coat of horns.

Alternatively, we could go with some of the other popular options like the Slaughterborn or Varanguard.

When developing your warband, you should also keep in mind exactly the kind of battles you’re going to be facing. The Horns of Hashut aren’t slow, but they aren’t exactly fast either. So if you’re expecting to play a lot of games where movement will be important, then you maybe some fast thralls or allys would help. Similarly, if you’re expecting more kill missions then having something scary could be more important.

Another thing to consider is whether you should double down on an existing strength or try cover a weakness. So here we’ve got the Varanguard who is a fast scary fighter, and the Chaos Warhound who is a cheap but fast Thrall. They both cover a gap for this warband. On the other hand, the Ogroid Myrmidon has reach which is a strength, even if he’s also adding some much needed killing power. The Infernal Rapturess is a different take, her double subtracts 1 from attacks of enemy fighters near here, so you could combine her with Ash Bomb to create a small bubble removing 2 dice from enemy fighters.

Here is a sample warband. We have 9 fighters in total, so even though we have the expensive Centaurian Marshall we still have bodies to cover the board. Everything is reach 2 or better. The Marshall adds some speed and a net ability which is nice. More importantly, he’s got horns.

Hopefully you enjoyed this. While we have focused on the Horns here, this is something you should be able to do with your own favourite warband. Look for a niche and go with it. You might find that there isn’t anything in particular that your favourite warband is best at, but that’s okay too, as the most important part is putting together a warband you’ll enjoy playing.

If you have any comments or feedback please post them in the comments section below. Check us out on the Optimal Game State website, Mastodon, and YouTube channel for more discussion about the Games Workshop Specialist Games.