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Free Peoples AoS 1.0 Wrapup

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someone2040

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Been a while since I posted a blog entry, but nows a good time with the conclusion of AoS 1.0 rapidly approaching.

For last 9 or so months, I have been rocking my Free Peoples army. AoS so far for me, has been about doing armies that I didn't get around to doing in older editions of Warhammer. First was my Chaos Undivided army, and after being a little frustrated about lack of shooting with that, next on the bucket list was the Free Peoples.

I've dabbled with Humans before, back in 7th edition I started a small Empire army as well as a decent sized Dogs of War army, some of the models have even made it into my army today. So I definitely like the idea of your regular old humans standing together to fight against the horrors of the world (Whether for Sigmar or for gold and glory!).

 

In total, to date I've painted up 2060 points of Free Peoples as well as 980 points of allies. So I've got a somewhat rounded collection, which has meant in the 3 tournaments I've played my Free Peoples I've played a different list each time. Each one slightly stronger than the last in my opinion.

With my last AoS 1.0 tournament now behind me, and likely those games being the last under AoS 1.0, I thought now would be a good time to talk about the state of Free Peoples under AoS 1.0, as well as perhaps some initial thoughts about the future.

 

In general I think Free Peoples lists tend to boil down into 2 types. The first is the mega company, a list that centres around a singular great company that tends to be maxxed out. This usually runs the Luminark to further protect the investment into those units. This in my opinion, is likely the stronger list as it tends to focus on the 3 best units in the Freeguild and once in the right place, you tend to have 3 units close by that you can use Hold the Line on.

However, I have run instead a Double Company list. This list tends to have 2 smaller great companies, although my latest iteration had 1 larger one and 1 smaller one. This IMO allows me to spread out a bit more as I have more drops in my army. I've also bolstered my list with a smattering of allies, including a Hellstorm Rocket Battery, a Battlemage and a Knight Azyros.

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My Badgacon army, the last AoS 1.0 games played

So for the most part, I'll talk to my experiences with the lists I've been running but also extrapolating that to Free Peoples as a whole.

In a sort of TLDR, I'll say upfront that I think Free Peoples are at current, a purely Tier 2 list that while having some strong components, just has too many weaknesses and not enough options in particular areas to edge their way into Tier 1 (Not even talking about the S Tier armies that sit at the top of the meta). So let's just talk through some components of the army and why they're strong or not strong, and how it impacts the army as a whole.

Freeguild General on Griffon - These guys are super good. I think the best armies have 2 of these in. It's super hard to squeeze in a 3rd one, but if you could, I think you would. They basically fulfil the role of both mobile tank and mobile damage due to being able to take a great weapon as well as a shield. This gives the only rend -2 in the army, and due to lack of mortal wounds available it makes these guys super important.

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MVP of the Free Peoples?

Freeguild Guard  - Swordsmen rock. Combined with the current Indomitable, big units of Swordsmen are just super hard to lodge. I haven't had any experience with the others, but at a guess I'd say Halberdiers are probably alright as well. In general the Swordsmen see the most use because the damage in the army is more efficient coming from the other places, so it kinda edges out stuff like Halberdiers and Spearmen.

Freeguild General, Handgunners, Crossbowmen - These guys are basically 'the thing' that makes Free Peoples semi competitive. Handgunners and Crossbowmen (assuming they're out of combat) basically double dip with the Freeguild Generals Hold the Line. Not only do you get the +1/+1, but the disadvantage of not moving is actually and advantage as these guys get to add +1 to hit or double tap. Combined with the Great Company rules of an additional shooting phase, the whole army really promotes using these guys to the most effectiveness.

But I would also argue, it's one of the armies largest weaknesses as well. The best part of our army is basically the only part of the army that works at a top tier level, and it promotes such a static style of play (Commonly known as the "Free Peoples Gunline"). The issue is that being static is a huge disadvantage in AoS. Especially since we have almost no battalions, we can't dictate the pace of the game by deciding who goes first or second.

A common occurence I've had when playing is I outdrop my opponents, but I'm given the first turn. This puts me in a super awkward position, do I move all my shooters up (losing my Crossbowmen double tap bonus) so I can get into a better position? or do I sit back and buff up, but then I'm not able to get myself onto objectives. The 2nd turn priority ends up being one of the biggest priority rolls in the game no matter what you do.

In some ways, it's why recently I've been thinking that Crossbows may not actually be the way forwards. Because Crossbows basically have to be immobile to get their 2x shots, while Handgunners are able to move and still take advantage of their large unit size bonus (even if they're in combat as well!).

Demigryphs, Outriders and Pistoliers - These guys just don't do their roles efficiently enough at the moment.  This doubles up with the fact our best synergy basically says "Stay still and get better!" and these guys are like "I want to run around a lot and make use of my high movement!". It's super sad to see Outriders and Pistoliers not get a price drop for AoS 2.0. Demigryphs I think just have the stigma attached that they used to be super good cavalry in prior editions, and now they rubber lance more often than not. I think at their new price point, if people can get over them and ignore their hitting, they might make useful mobile tanks.

The Allegiance Abilities - The allegiance abilities in my opinion, are the biggest Free Peoples blessing and curse. It's a blessing because it's quite a strong ability for our shooting units. Ultimately, a free shooting phase where you know your stuff is going to be in range.

However, I think it's the ultimate curse of the army as well. I would much rather that the Great Company rule was a warscroll battalion and we had another battle trait instead. The main reason is, it basically forces you to build your army in a static gunline way.

The ability to charge as if it was the charge phase, just doesn't tend to be a very powerful ability in a game where players alternate activation of units in the combat phase. In prior editions, it was super useful to get a flank charge or have a chaff unit take the charge with your heavy hitter coming in swinging. It's just not as useful as an ability in Age of Sigmar in the same way that flank charging isn't necessarily as strong anymore either.

So ultimately, the free shooting phase you can get, coupled with the efficiency of our shooting units and the hold the line ability promotes building a great company with a swordsmen frontline backed up by 2 shooting units. This basically promotes building the core of the army around at least a single great company. Which ultimately means a core portion of your army is encouraged to be immobile and a static gunline.

And if you're not using the battle trait, there's not really much of a reason to be playing a Free Peoples allegiance over generic Order.

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Midway through the game... and the army has barely moved

Just to finish up the summary of the army. One thing I will specifically say about the double company, and in particular my version is that I tend to have a weaker flank and a stronger flank. Double company encourages you to split your deployment into 2 because you want to keep your great company units nearby each other. What this means is if one flank crumbles, it tends to be hard to reclaim it because the army doesn't have enough mobility in it.

 

The Future

Now that AoS 2.0 is coming up, and some things have been leaked, here's some early thoughts on the army.

I think sadly the army has only gotten weaker in AoS 2.0. None of the rule changes in particular benefit Free Peoples that much (or no more than any other army in the game). The army received some fairly minor points decreases on Demigryphs and Greatswords. To top it all off, the allegiance abilities are definitely nerfed in trying to prevent tailing back units to gain benefits (Something I certainly agree with, but makes them harder to use for sure).

 

Overall, does the future look bleak? I don't think it really looks any different than before, a middle table army that dreams of glory days of a united Empire.

I would love to see (Although, that ship has sailed in GHB2018 at least) a way to combine Collegiate Arcane and Ironweld Arsenal beyond the 400 points of allies while still keeping the Free Peoples allegiance abilities. I think a bit part of the reason why the army 'builds itself' currently is that the army basically boils down to a few different ways to do the same thing (output a bunch of low rend attacks). So of course, you choose the best tool for the job. 

If there were more options available (Builds a more magic centric human army, build a more artillery focussed army, build a classic board and sword army, build a mobile army with stormcast allies) I think the army would certainly feel a lot fresher and interesting to collect.

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So after having slept on it, it sure does sound a bit negative doesn't it!

Having thought about it more, I think really the difference is the fact the Empire was split up. In old editions, the 'battle trait' was pretty much the same, you could create detachments (Basically Great Companies). So why do I think that it felt better in old editions?

Ultimately I think that comes down to choice. It wasn't just infantry you purchased, you spiced it up with wizards and artillery and cavalry. You sadly can't fit a lot into 400 points of allies considering the current costs of wizards and artillery pieces, and our cavalry choices aren't super competitive currently (And certainly don't pack much of a punch).

 

That being said, I think I may be blinded a bit by what I feel tends to be the strongest lists, and what models I have available to me. At the end of the day, I have been tuning my army slowly towards what I feel is best which has tended towards a static gunline army. And of course, my biggest issue with the play style is it's a static gunline army! This has led to units like Greatswords, Demigryphs, Pistoliers and Outriders falling by the wayside which perhaps has meant I haven't given them a fair enough chance (Although I definitely ran the 2 former for a while, but a second griffon won out on that front).

 

Certainly if I get around to doing more Freeguild models, some of those units are on my list (As I tend to already have enough of everything else) and I'd like to try out different styles to see how they might work.

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The fragmentation of our army is very regrettable. The 400 points of allies is very precious and for that reason there are some units that I will just never use again, Flagellants are a good example. GW need to  get their act together on this. As bad as Freeguild have it, it's just outrageous if you're an old High Elf player.

 

We also suffer from their refusal to spruce up old warscrolls. You mentioned Demigryph Knights. They went from being tough, reliable damage dealers to ... what? What are they supposed to do? A lot of  the old monstrous cavalry such as Demis,  Bloodcrushers, Skullcrushers and Dragon Ogres have pathetic damage output and have all become this strange low damage, medium durability, reasonably fast, totally boring units that have big cool models.

Demis at the very least need 3+ to hit on their lance, -1 rend on the halberd and -2 rend on the Talons.

The Steam Tank is down to 240 points so I may try to use it again but alas it feels so feeble compared to the engine of destruction that it was.

I have no idea if a battletome is on the way. I look at the model range and I just don't see GW promoting it. Maybe we get a whole new set of models for our core units but I just don't see it happening.

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Interested to know how you know about them in gh18? Just from faction focuses, or leaks I haven’t seen?

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1 hour ago, Creezy said:

Interested to know how you know about them in gh18? Just from faction focuses, or leaks I haven’t seen?

There are leaks around, the let's chat free peoples topic has a bit of a summary in the last few pages of certain aspects. 

 

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@murphs

I don't think they need to go so far. Most of the warscrolls are fine and interesting enough. The Demigryphs are a little lacklustre, but ultimately they're handicapped by 4+ to hit on all their attacks (and lack of rend on knight weapons). But at the same time, they can't go much better because GW want to push Dracoth Knights. So it's a tough call, at the moment they're that step down. Personally I would like to see either the Knights or Demi'****** on 3's, and the lance gains rend on the charge.

The main problem is the faction just has different options to do the same thing - output low quality attacks. For it to be a better faction, they need things that ultimately do other things like high rend or mortal wounds. That's IMO why the Griffon is one of the best pieces, because it offers mobility but also the high rend damage.

Because the faction does one thing well, you basically spend 1600 points trying to do that one thing as best as possible which leads to static gunline play.

 

Anyway! I've said my piece on that above. Overall I think the subfaction divide is a good thing for synergies, but a bad thing for army building. It's mean it's quite boring to build armies for some factions. Free Peoples at least have a variety of units in the army, it's just the play style tends to be forced in a single direction.

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What's your guys opinion on Greatswords?

On the facebookpage i'm on they get a lot of criticism, due to their price cost. But in my games I always get a lot of bang for my buck.
In the last two games i played against Sylvaneth they took Drycha down in a single Combat round. 

People seem to dislike them because they're only 10 wounds for 150 points, but when used offensively they can turn out a whooping
21  2+ 2+ -1 Rend attacks. 

I make sure they attack first, so that there's no attacks coming their way after that. 

The new edition will come with certain warscroll updates, We've seen many abilities change due to the "wholly within" updates.

Do you guys think that other factors may be affected like rend on weapons or, hit and woundrolls?

 

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@stekr

Sorry it's taken a little while. I was gonna post this in the Free Peoples chat since it might gen some discussion, but our 2.0 thread isn't around yet.

My thoughts on Greatswords is that they might be good enough now due to nerfs in other aspects of the army.

Part of their problem is they can't be the leader of a Great Company, so you need at least a unit of 20 Freeguild Guard. Given most the damage in the army comes from shooting (Since they're the easiest ones to put the buff on), it basically made sense to take Swordsmen and just put forwards a frontal line to tank the damage.

Nowdays it's a bit harder to mega company due to the changes in the Great Company rules. In addition, due to the Mystic Shield nerfs Swordsmen aren't quite as tanky anymore.

So Greatswords can come in now as the hybrid unit which is both tanky (and can benefit from Mystic Shield) and outputs damage. I've been underwhelmed with units of 10 in the past, as they have basically been glorified objective holders (Although they did go in and wreck the celestant prime once). I think a larger unit of 20 or 30 could potentially do quite well as a combat unit in our army.

There's also the fact that I'm a little bit concerned with the static nature of the army currently, and part of that is due to the emphasis my army (and most freeguild armies) have on the static shooting units. Having a combat unit in the army that can go out and put threat on the enemy could be just what the force needs.

They're definitely something I'm going to be looking more into when AoS 2.0 hits.

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