Mordheim Musings: Short Bows for Beastmen. October 01, Today's installment of Mordheim Musings, a spur-of-the-moment heading which has become a semi-regular column on here, deals with a question that's been on my mind for quite a while, but that I haven't collected my thoughts on until now: should Beastmen Raiders have the option of equipping ungors with shortbows? If you've read my other articles or, let's be honest, any article of this type , I'm sure you know where this is headed, but humour me. This turned out to be a bit deeper than I had first assumed.
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Mordheim Musings: Short Bows for Beastmen. October 01, Today's installment of Mordheim Musings, a spur-of-the-moment heading which has become a semi-regular column on here, deals with a question that's been on my mind for quite a while, but that I haven't collected my thoughts on until now: should Beastmen Raiders have the option of equipping ungors with shortbows? If you've read my other articles or, let's be honest, any article of this type , I'm sure you know where this is headed, but humour me.
This turned out to be a bit deeper than I had first assumed. I know this, not because I was in any way involved in Mordheim or Warhammer then, but because I obsessively pored through and indexed the issues of Town Cryer over my summer holiday. That's not strictly necessary information, but it is relatively interesting to note that the warband then was not quite in its final form.
It would be revised many issues and several years later, appearing in its final form in the final Town Cryer, 29 The warband is heavily focused on melee combat, and in fact has no shooting options besides spells. This isn't a big deal, thanks to the beasts' high speed and Toughness, but I can't think of another warband off the top of my head that entirely lacks shooting. Some are certainly better at it than others, and not every one has access to Shooting skills, but most at the very least have one ranged option.
To tell the truth, it isn't really. There doesn't seem to be any general negative sentiment about them online, anyway. I've seen several posts by new players asking whether they're a good choice for a first warband but other than praising their strong close combat attributes, one comment appears frequently among the posts I've read:.
When playing beastmen, it seems that BS stands for something else entirely, and with a cruel maximum of BS6, a player is risking wasting up to three advance rolls in a characteristic that's absolutely worthless. On the flipside, with everything the warband already has going for it, adding in any significant shooting risks turning them into a major powerhouse.
Not to mention that ranged weapons largely don't work thematically with the beasts. I've never seen a gor with any sort of ranged weapon, and while throwing axes or javelins might be appropriate, they offer a significant advantage to a high Strength, fast-moving character. In fact, in spite of this post's title, I don't think that any beastman hero should be given a shooting option.
Ungors, on the other hand, are a different matter. Mechanically speaking, the ungors occupy an awkward position in the Beastmen Raiders roster. The list as a whole has notable parallels to a variety of other official warbands, but for the sake of argument, the Witch Hunters serve as a good point of comparison.
The Chieftain is a combat-oriented leader, like the Witch Hunter Captain, and has the option to be accompanied by up to three heroes who are in many ways, lesser versions of himself though the centigor is notable unique , plus a spellcaster comparable to the warrior-priest.
In terms of henchmen, gors occupy a similar niche to flagellants as elite but limited warriors, and both warbands can field up to five warhounds. Ignoring the minotaur, it stands to reason that the ungors are the budget henchman choice, a cheaper alternative to the elites. While it may seem like a strange comparison, this sort of warband pattern is repeated with some remixing frequently throughout the official warbands.
And from a pure characteristic standpoint, ungors fill this role admirably. For 25 gold crowns, you get a standard henchman statline, albeit exchanging a point of Leadership for a point of Movement a pretty solid trade, seeing as Movement can't be improved by advances.
So what's the issue with ungors? They seem pretty good just judging by the profile, and have a fair cost. Based on my "research", there are two main problems with ungor in their current state. Both are significant for different reasons, but the first one I'll discuss is their special rule "Lowest of the Low", which forces them to re-roll "The Lad's Got Talent!
This means that, no matter how much experience they earn, ungors can never acquire skills, improve their Wounds, or increase any other characteristic more than once. Furthermore, their Serious Injuries are much less forgiving, meaning that the more experienced an ungor becomes, the more of a liability it is, being difficult and expensive to properly replace.
While a rule like this might seem innocent enough, it hobbles a henchman's potential to a significant degree over time, and definitely merits a discount from the standard 25 gc.
The second major flaw in the ungor builds off the first, and I've seen it cited as the reason why they aren't generally taken in a warband in the first place. For 25 gc not to mention the investment in equipment, a minimum of 3 gc extra , an ungor is a pricey liability with limited uses.
Compare this to the Beastmen Raiders' other henchmen choices, the gor and the warhound, and the ungor loses even more appeal. A gor, at 35 gc, is fairly priced for its profile and comes with no hampering special rules.
While the low Leadership isn't ideal, gors are fast, tough, and have a solid WS of 4, more than worth the investment. The warhound, at the other end, is extremely cheap at 15 gc, doesn't require equipment, and boasts high speed, WS, and Strength. On top of all of this, a warband of Beastmen Raiders has a maximum size of 15 warriors.
For a warband that hasn't lost their chieftain, that means that after five heroes, five gors because you likely want all five , and a minotaur, you have four spaces to work with. Warhounds seem like a more reliable choice to fill those slots based on their stronger stats and ability to fill the specific niche of fast, powerful combatants. Assuming the chieftain is dead, that only frees up one more slot, and it's hard to find a reason to fill that with an ungor over a warhound.
But for anyone who isn't convinced that ungors under-perform ungor-perform, if you will , take for a counterexample the informer, from the Black Dwarfs warband out of Border Town Burning. Sure, it isn't technically official, and was written several years later, but I can't imagine too many people outside of absolute purists taking offense to the comparison. Similarly to the ungor, the informer has an average set of characteristics, and also has a special rule, "Drudgery" that is functionally identical to "Lowest of the Low".
What they also have is a price tag of 15 gc. And while this might be written off as a case of power creep and different ideas of balance, I think it highlights an idea that may not have been considered as much in the early days of Mordheim: becoming a hero means something. There is a clear division between henchman and hero, and a clearly-defined progression from one to the other.
Being barred from ever achieving their full potential may not be crippling to a henchman in the middle of a fight, but it's an ever-present bugbear in a campaign that makes that henchman feel bad to run unless there's some leeway given. Do I think that discounting the ungor is appropriate though? Not exactly. At least, not to the same degree as the informer. If one were to consider a discount, I would maybe argue for knocking 5 gc off the price, since Movement could be seen as more broadly applicable than Leadership.
I think it's a risky proposition, however, to give a warband two henchman options at the 15 gc "bargain" slot. While it can work thematically in certain warbands see goblins and squigs , I don't think that beastmen are one of them. I don't think the solution to the ungor's plight is to make them cheaper, but to diversify their application and give them a clear niche. To be frank, short bows are bad weapons. Adding the short bow to almost any warband's roster shouldn't be seen as giving them an advantage, but more as an awkward and cumbersome option that misleads new players and confuses veterans.
Maybe that's harsh, but hear me out. The short bow has a range of 16" and Strength 3. Not terrible, but even then you have to be at most 8" from the enemy, which is a very important number in that it is within the charge range of anything with longer legs than a dwarf. Almost anything is better than this. Bows and longbows increase their short range to 12" and 15" respectively; crossbows have longer range and higher Strength; handguns have longer range, higher Strength, and armour-piercing capabilities; pistols and crossbow pistols can be used in close combat; throwing weapons can move and fire without penalty; repeating crossbows and long rifles have their own exotic strengths One of the few things short bows have going for them is their cost, coming in at a very economical 5 gc, but even here they aren't the best, as slings cost 2 gc!
There are only a few times when a short bow is a practical choice: your archer is better in close combat than at a range, you want your archer to die, or there is no other option. Much like the ungor, it may not seem terrible on paper, but weighed against the other available options the short bow is clearly inferior.
My comment earlier about misleading new players and confusing veterans was a bit of hyperbole, but I believe there's still some truth in it.
A new player looking at the short bow might be drawn in by its low cost, thinking that 16" of range is plenty for a game like Mordheim, and the savings are worth it. As discussed above, however, while they might be better than nothing in terms of ranged weapons, most factions with the option to take short bows can also take regular bows.
For any warband intending to get serious about shooting, the bow is the way to go. A veteran, however, looking at a short bow among a plethora of other ranged options, might ask themselves why it was included at all. Unless a warband has a henchman option that obviously fills the niche of expendable archer, one might wonder what its purpose is at all.
I'd go so far as to say that any warband at least the official ones can have the shortbow added as an option for any henchman that already has at least one other ranged option, and not see any meaningful shift in balance.
It's such an underwhelming weapon that I can't imagine a situation in which it's game-breaking. Let's look back at those practical situations I mentioned though, and imagine the short bow as an option for ungors. Not all beastmen, just ungors. An ungor with a club could pose enough of a threat in close combat to make enemies think twice about getting too close, and a short bow added into the mix makes it even better.
However, with a 10" charge range, do you really need to be stopping 8" away to shoot? I'm not so sure. Ignoring the second "practical" situation since we obviously don't want the ungors dying , given no other option for shooting, the short bow becomes appealing, especially considering the interplay between it and other beastmen.
A minotaur can charge up to 12", warhounds up to 14", and a centigor up to 16". Add in a 16" threat radius for short bows, and beastmen suddenly become even scarier from an area control perspective.
More importantly, however, the short bow lends a new definition to the ungor's role. Instead of a mediocre melee fighter, ungors now have the option of using their impressive movement to claim high ground and cover, controlling it with missile fire while the rest of the warband advances or flanks.
Furthermore, their Ld of 6 is less of an issue, since they're ideally staying out of the fight anyway. Suddenly, the 25 gc price tag might not seem so bad. Maybe 30 gc for an ungor with a short bow is actually a bargain, and not a ripoff. Maybe, but I'm still in favour of the 20 gc ungor if that's the way you want to play it.
The simplest point for ungors having shortbows, in my mind, is that the models exist. Not to say that everything that has a model should be in Mordheim, but the ungors are a particularly important case.
In , when the first beastmen warband appeared, the rules for beastmen were collected in a book titled Realm of Chaos. In this book, ungor had the following options: hand weapon, spear, shield. These are very much in line with the warband's options albeit that, while you could technically equip an ungor with a sword in WHFB, in Mordheim they aren't allowed.
The next beastmen army book would come in , Beasts of Chaos , which was largely the same story. At the time, ungors seem not to have had their own kit, but to have been created by putting a different head with smaller horns onto a gor. The Mordheim warbands, therefore, are reflective of their time.
Beastmen Raiders Complete Reference With House Rules
Alrighty, so after Taak grilled my last Dawi warband, I changed it up a bit to include some of the better Dwarf things, namely Gromril hammers and a suit of Gromril armour. Perhaps its just me, but I like to have a balance in my warband. Taaks idea of 3 guys and banking with armour and weapons would seem to me, the unbalanced approach to starting a warband. In order to progress, they will start out fairly imbalanced, having only 3 guys and not full heroes, like I suggested. You will have to tank a few early games but then the warband will be tough with armour and nice weapons.
Beastmen are brutish creatures, the Children of Chaos and Old Night. They roam the great forests of the Old World, and are amongst the most bitter enemies of mankind. The raging power of Chaos has given them a ferocious vitality which makes them shrug off ghastly wounds and carry on fighting regardless of the consequences. Even the Orcs are comparatively vulnerable to damage compared to the awesome vitality of the Beastmen. Beastmen are a crossbreed between men and animals, usually resulting in the horned head of a goat, though many other variations are also known to exist. The Beastmen are divided into to two distinct breeds: Ungors, who are more numerous, twisted creatures that combine the worst qualities of man and beast, and Gors, a giant breed of Beastmen, a mix between some powerful animal and man.
Mordheim – Beastmen Raiders
You have Gold Crowns which you can use to recruit your initial warband. The maximum number of warriors in the warband is 15, though some buildings in the warbands encampment may increase this. Beastmen Chief: Each Beastmen warband must have one Chief: no more, no less! Shaman: Your warband may include a single Beastmen Shaman. Bestigors: Your warband may include up to two Bestigors.
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