Welcome to Optimal Game State, this week we’re going to take a look at the Bretonnian faction in Age of Sigmar Warcry.
In the Age of Sigmar, this is one of the rare factions that have survived from the old world untouched. That’s because Bretonnia is blessed by the Lady of the Lake herself, their eternal patroness. They have preserved the noble traditions of their Bretonnian ancestors, resplendent in the glory of their chivalrous past. Though the realms have changed, these valiant knights remain steadfast in their devotion to the ideals of honour and righteousness.
As they march across the realms, with valiant retinues of courtly knights and fair maidens, they seek to defend the kingdom from the horrors lurking in every shadow. They valiantly charge into battle, banners fluttering proudly, riding on steeds and clashing swords with their enemies. With each victory, they reaffirm their faith in the righteousness of their cause, and the Lady of the Lake smiles upon them.
This is a relatively small faction with only 19 profiles in total, and of those 7 are part of an Underworlds warband. At the very bottom of the range, at a cheap 55 points, we have the humble Man at Arms, a lightly armoured fighter who makes up the bulk of Bretonnian Warbands. Without any armour, these are relatively fast and more importantly cheap.
There are two other standard fighters that we’ll get into later, squires either on foot or mounted. As this is supposed to represent a questing warband, there aren’t any ranged fighters like you’d expect in the wargame, that would be unsporting after all.
After that, everything is a hero, and broadly speaking this is split into three groups. The royals, so the king and the arch king, the knights on foot and the mounted knights. Those knights are split again into whether they are descended from noble lineage or not with the noble knights referred to as courtiers. These courtiers cost more but are tougher and doing more damage.
Broadly, you’re looking at light foot troops, heavy foot troops, or mounted troops. Then with the heroes, you get have the same decision but with more elite options.
All fighters in your warband will have access to the following three abilities.
Skilful Parry is a reaction you can take when targeted by a melee action but before the dice are rolled. As with all reactions, you’re losing an action which is a big deal, unless of course you’re in narrative play where you can use points of renown to trigger the reaction instead of using an action. A defensive action like this is actually decent, if you think you’re going down there’s no harm spending actions for reactions. Often that will be the reaction Counter which can get some damage in, but if you’re trying to save a fighter for a mission, maybe they’re carrying treasure or holding an objective, then surviving can be good.
The second action, Double Wind only triggers if you manage to kill a target, so not always available when you need it. That said, it’s a nice heal as it’s for the ability dice where often it would be half that. There is also the option of the universal reprieve, but you can only do that when you’re out of combat which is often quite difficult. Typically you’d like a more aggressive option with this but it’s a nice option to have and anyone in the warband can do it.
The last option open to everyone in the warband is The Royal Hunt, this is the Quad which as I always say should never be relied on. You’ve got a decent chance to get a triple and upgrade it, but you’re never able to rely on it. It’s a straight upgrade on Rampage, you get the same bonus move then attack as Rampage, but get an extra attack dice if you’re within one inch of a friendly fighter. Rampage is hands down the most common quad to use, so an upgraded version is nice to see.
There are only three non-hero fighters, so lets get straight into it.
First up we have the standard man at arms. Toughness only 3 and wounds at a low 8 but only for 55 points. That 2 average damage is fantastic for that. This is also a fast fighter, The move 5 is better than the average human, presumably these loyal men are used to keeping up with the mounted knights.
Moving up a level, we have the Squires, these are a little tougher but have a lot more wounds. At 185 points they’re more expensive than 3 men-at-arms. They do have more wounds overall, but slightly less damage. They’re nice, but I suspect most people will stick with the cheaper rank and file.
The mounted squire on the other hand presents some additional options. Much faster and with the Agile and Fly keywords, presumably to reflect their impressive mounts. The agile ability opens up two abilities, a Double Skewering Strike that will improve the strength by 1 to 5 and if you get a crit will pin the target in place. Net like abilities are nice and you’re doing this along with a damage boost which is nice. It only works for the next melee action though, so unfortunately you’re looking at rolling a 6 on 4 dice which is about 50/50.
The second ability, Intimidating shout, is a triple that has a chance of doing damage to fighters within 8 inches. On a 5 you do 1 damage, and on a 6 you do damage equal to the ability. Typically these aoe like abilities end up being underpowered. That’s because they have to be balanced around the chance of getting a lot of targets. If you do manage to get 6 targets, then you’re still not doing much damage unfortunately, you’d expect 1 target to take 1 damage and one target to take the dice value, so maybe a 3 or a 4. Probably better to look for a better use of triples, but something to consider as an option.
Overall the Mounted Squire is a nice fighter but probably to expensive, especially when the damage is below the curve. At this kind of price range I think you hold on for one of the heroes instead.
Lets move over to the heroes, these are the most important part of the Bretonnian list. While the fighters will provide the numbers, all the real work is going to get done by the heroes. Every hero has access to this triple ability Bringer of Victory. This ability increases the move characteristic of nearby fighters by half the value, so that’s up to 3 inches. This does also include the hero, so it makes for a nice boost. The trick with this ability is getting the double use out of it. So you want other fighters to start within 6 inches of the hero, then end up their first move still within that big bubble. On a first turn, that might mean your hero has to limit their own movement so the rest of their battlegroup are within range. This warband is already pretty fast, so this extra boost should having them zooming around the map.
The first of our heroes is the Archregent, a direct descendent of Leoncoeur himself. Since we’re just playing Warcry rather than Age of Sigmar, we only have the foot version rather than the Age of Sigmar mounted on a Griffon. Damage at 7.33 is pretty nice, it’s not amazing by Warcry standards but it’s actually pretty great within the alliance overall. So this is probably one of the better heroes you’re going to see.
The Berserker ability gives access to two abilities, Heroic Vitality which is similar to the Second Wind ability but doesn’t require killing a target. And Stir of Righteous Fury which will add 1 to the attacks of friendly fighters within 9 inches. As a quad you’re unlikely to use it, you’re more like to just use the Royal Hunt with the Archregent to get a bonus move and attack, but there can be situations where spreading out the damage would work better. So again, a nice option to have.
If you don’t have the points, you can scale that down to a cheaper King, maybe not as fancy as the Archregeant, but still a regeant who rules over a kingdom in the mortal realms. This fighter has the same sets of abilities, but lower damage and wounds. It’s a nice option to have.
Having a king or an archregeant in your warband gives can be key, as we can see with this Knight on foot, they have the Chosen of the King ability. If they’re within 6 inches of a king. They can use a double to increase their melee actions by 2 until the end of the turn. As they have 4 dice normally, that’s a 50% damage increase, and if they don’t need to move and can get two attacks, then that’s a double for essentially a free attack.
There are two options in total with this Chosen of the King ability, after the Knight on Foot we have the Knight Courtier on Foot. Slightly more wounds, slightly more damage.
After that we have 5 options. This Sergeant at Arms is an upgraded version of the Men at Arms. Almost twice the price with double the damage but not double the wounds. Having a cheap hero is a nice option to have but never is exciting.
The next step up is the Squire Courtier, it’s another 30 points with damage up to 5.33 and wounds up to 16. This is actually the best damage per points you can find in the warband, so don’t discount it just because it’s relatively plain.
Next up we have the Questing Knight, this is a variation on the Mounted Knight Courtier, but rather than having the Chosen of the King ability it instead has abilities similar to that of the Mounted Squire, so Skewering Strike and Intimidating Shout. Moving from 4 strength to 5 strength is pretty nice and it will have a decent increase on the damage.
Again, the triple probably isn’t worth it. You only have a 1 in 3 chance of actually doing any damage on a target but you may find situations where that will ramp up.
You can also get this option with the Mounted Knight Courtier, even more points but you get a big boost in manoeuvrability, both in actual movement to 10 but also with the fly keyword. This is the sort of problem solver that sometimes was called a Dragon. Tons of damage and quite capable of getting to any target you need to delete.
Last up, we have the Grail Knight. This continues the theme of the mounted knight although with slightly less speed than the others. Using it’s lance, this fighter has a reach of two which is quite handy but with 35 wounds you’re probably not too worried about getting hit back. The key part of this fighter is the Powerful Strike ability, a triple that gives 3 extra dice to the next melee attack. So this is similar to the Chosen of the King but instead of a double it’s a triple and you get one extra dice. It is essentially one extra attack as a triple which is crazy good.
I did go slightly out of order here, the Grail Knight is actually the second most expensive behind the Mounted Knight Courtier who is 20 points more and does just 0.3 more damage on average. Deciding between either might depend on whether you want to have a king in your warband or not.
There is one Bretonnian bladeborn warband, and that is The Grymwatch lead by the Heroic Duke Crakmarrow.
The duke is an interesting variant of the King, he loses that key Berserker runemark which is needed for other fighters to use Chosen of the King but he does instead get Royal Decree an ability that lets him give a bonus attack action to a member of the Grymwatch. I suspect the Chosen of the King is going to be better in the long run but this is still nice. Comparing stats, you pay 25 points less and only lose 1 toughness, you also gain reach which that Great Axe the Duke favours.
The rest of his hunting party are largely variations on the Man at Arms. All are 5 move and most have 10 wounds, 2 more than a normal man at arms. The Man at Arms is 55 points doing 2 damage on average. Unfortunately none of these are doing big damage, so the Duke giving them an extra attack isn’t great. They do make for interesting options if you have points to spare, I’d probably avoid the Tracker but the Herald is at least 2 more wounds for 10 points. The most interesting are probably the Harriers who are much faster and have fly.
To skip us along to the Thrall options, the Harriers at 75 are a good deal cheaper than these larger hunting birds at 130. With so many mounted options we probably don’t need the cheaper flyers but they can still be handy for missions. The Hunting Dog also is an interesting option comparable to the Man at Arms, a good chunk more expensive but faster and with that very nice reaction that can be useful when you have a leader to protect.
I also briefly want to mention the monster option, where the Bretonnia list has access to these two amazing Dragons. These are the adjusted cost, and they’re crazy expensive almost certainly costed out of competitive play (probably). You can still take the cheaper Dragon at 500, a cheap leader like the Sergeant at Arms and fill out the list with 7 Men at Arms. So you’ll have a decent number of bodies but only really the Dragon to get work done. And it certainly could get work done. This could be a fun list and it’s not too often you get to run Dragons, more importantly, you do get the Dragon as an option in the old Start Collecting Bretonnia box set so it might be something you already have.
As I did during the Skaven video, I want to avoid giving actual lists, mostly that’s because I don’t have the experience with these warbands but also because the meta game is still relatively young and there may be top lists we’ve yet to see. Instead I’m going to talk about the main components, and for this warband which is relatively small in options the primary components are going to be A king of some sort and an Elite hero to use the Chosen of the King ability. You can play around with these options, you have two king options and two elite options to select from. This will give you something incredibly powerful to spend your doubles on and they should be kept together.
Another component would be the Grail Knight, who can use that Triple to great effect. These two options combined will give you two pretty scary battle groups. Both combined will cost you between 675 and 795 points so you’re going to be going straight to the men at arms to round out the numbers. Even at a worst case situation, that would be another 3 bodies so your warband is sitting at 6 fighters in total. That would be a Grail Knight, an Archregeant, and a Knight Courtier on Foot any of which would be terrifying to deal with.
As a faction overall, Bretonnia are pretty straight forward. They have some fantastic elites and a great chaff fighter to round out the numbers when they need to. That said, there’s nothing wrong with simple. Often the challenge is going to be where to strike the balance. I suspect you’re always going to have that triple hero combo of King, Knight, and Grail Knight to maximise double and triples. It’ll depend on what scenarios you’re expecting to face on how many points you’re going to sink into them and how many of those cheap men at arms you’re going to want on the ground.
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