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The Swords of Ulric

"The Swords of Ulric, also known as the Sons of Ulric are a Middenland regiment of Templar's and fanatics dedicated and funded by the Ulrican Church of Middenheim. The formidable training of the Swords of Ulric consists not of marches or military drills, but instead on patrols and war parties led out of the city itself and into the hazardous regions of the Drakwald Forest, where they hunt out the tribes of beastmen that have taken residence in the land. Initiates hoping to join this famed regiment must accompany such excursions into the forest; only those that fight with honour (and survive) in the gruesome endeavour shall be admitted into the regiment.

It is left to each soldier to equip himself in the blue and white colours of Middenland, but once he becomes a full member, most of the funding for equipment and supplies are administrated by the Temple of Ulric. Since the regiments founding, in the days when Count Mandred Skavenslayer rallied the Empire behind him and became Emperor, the Sons of Ulric have borne yellow shields into battle, a tradition that still hold true today. Also by tradition, each shield must bear a variation of the same device; a red wolf, signifying Ulric embattled. The grim northerners have little room for formal ceremony, but what they lack in parade-ground discipline, they make up for with uncommon savagery and dedication on the battlefield." - Uniforms and Heraldry of the Empire

The heart of any Free Peoples army is the humble Freeguild Guard.

There is something intrinsically cool about some basic human dude running into battle with little but a sword, shield, floppy hat and scant armor (let along some without shoes). This is one of the main reasons I love this army, normal humanity fighting against giant daemons, superhuman Chaos tribesmen, ferocious Orcs and the ethereal ranks of the undead. It's all well and good, being a superhuman Stormcast running into battle with god-forged weapons, but when you are Hanz the baker from Middenland with your hand me down panoply of war and facing a Greater Daemon of Slaanesh, things are a little different.

Stats are similar to the Crossbowmen I previously covered: 1 wound each, 5+ save (better than the Crossbow 6+), Bravery 5 and a move of 5". Nothing great. All Freeguild Gaurd with Halberds, Spears and Swords can take Shields.

The Freeguild Guard have a variety of weapons to take, each with their unique traits:

Stats are the same for all Melee weapons: 1" range, 1 attack, 4+ hit,  4+ wound = 1 damage

  • Halberd - Has -1 rend.
  • Spear - Has a 2" range.
  • Sword - Has the parry ability - +1 save in the combat phase.
  • Militia Weapons - get a shooting attack.

Ranged - 

  • Militia Weapons - 14" range, +5 to hit, +4 wound = 1 damage.

For this blog I will be referring to Swordsmen only, as I believe they are the strongest option here.

Positives

  • Shields - "You can re-roll save rolls of 1 for a unit equipped with Shields."
  • Parry - "You can add 1 to save rolls for Freeguild Guard equipped with Swords in the combat phase."

These two abilities make Swordsmen the best anvil for your Free Peoples army. In combat they are now a 4+ save re-rolling 1's. Add the Freeguild General on Horse with the Indomitable command trait and that is how a 3+ re-rolling 1's. Taking these guys in a 40 man unit with this kind of save is a serious lump of wounds that your enemy has to deal with.

  • Standard Bearer - "Models in this unit may be Standard Bearers. If you roll a 1 when taking a battleshock test for a unit that includes any Standard Bearers none of its models flee. "

As with the Crossbowmen, their Bravery of 5 is horrendous. Luckily these guys also have the Standard Bearer allowing for rolls of 1 to be an automatic pass for the unit in Bravery checks. Again i'll re-affirm how important this is as it stacks with the Order Battle Trait Defiant Avengers (allowing you to re-roll battleshock tests) and the Freeguild General on Horses banner (roll two dice for Freeguild units with 24" of the Freeguild General). In brief, ALWAYS keep these guys within range of the Freeguild General with Banner.

NOTE: Couple the Parry, Sheilds and Standard Bearer and the +1 bravery for each 10 models in the unit and this makes this unit highly resistant to basic damage and battleshock.

  • Massed Ranks - "Add 1 to hit rolls for Freeguild Guard if their unit contains 20 or more models. Add 2 instead if their unit contains 30 or more models, and add 3 if it contains 40 or more models."

This can make the Freeguild Guard very killy against other horde units they will encounter. A 40+ man unit is hitting on 2+ and wounding on +4. Add a Hold the Line! from the Freeguild General on Horse and/or a Wildform spell from an Amber Battlemage and you are looking at 2_+hit, 2+ wound on 40 attacks. Couple this with a Knight-Azyros (Re-rolling 1's to hit) nearby and you have some scary Freeguild Guard just through highly reliable weight of attacks.

Negatives

  • No save's against mortal wounds. You'll need a Luminark or Jade Battlemage (with Lifesurge) to help them with this.
  • Lose the +1 save from Parry ability in the shooting phase.
  • Low movement - 5".
  • No rend (unless you take Halberds, but then you lose the Parry).
  • Awkward in large units.
  • Weak combat in small units.

Recommendations / Comments

  • Take them in units of 20+ as core battleline for your Great Companies.
  • Protect your shooting units!
  • Use them as an anvil. Whilst the Massed Ranks ability is nice I recommend keeping them alive as much as possible, retreat them from combat when you can to increase survivability and to draw the enemy into ambushes (from your shooting, cavalry or Griffon Generals). 40 wounds with these defensive characteristics is hard to move.
  • 40 dudes is very awkward to move around the table, especially in a Great Company that may include 30+ other models. Practice using large units (that's a rule for any horse army player). You can c**k-block your other units (*cough* Demigryphs) by not manouvering these guys correctly.
  • Remember, they get +1 bravery for each 10 models in the unit when taking battleshock, therefore a unit of 40 is Bravery 9. 
  • Always support with a Freeguild General on Horse with a banner. Keep them blobbed if you have an Indomitable general as it states wholly within 12" for this unit to benefit from the +1 save.
  • Use the Knight-Azyros (Re-rolling 1's), the Freeguild General's Hold the Line! ability and the Amber Battlemages Wildform to increase their combat potency
  • Take them in units of 10 for screening units. 80 points is super cheap and they don't lose any significant defensive capabilities from 10 to 40 man units (except the stacking bravery from 20+ models).

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