The Goreblade Warband
And here we are, the other half of the starter set. I admit, in my days as a WHFB player, I never really "got" Chaos. Sure, the sculpts were cool, and even with my mediocre painting ability I could make them look decent on the table, but something about wanting to see the world burn never really resonated with me. I hate to say, but that hasn't changed in Age of Sigmar.
It might be the lore side of things -- or, having devoured every bit of the stuff from the Black Library available, I should say that it's definitely the lore side of things. Even Call of Archaon, which I genuinely enjoyed, just made me want the followers of the Dark Gods to die even more. I don't have this problem with Death or Destruction (even if Nagash is a backstabbing ******...)
All that baggage aside, though, I cannot deny the effectiveness of Chaos armies on the table. If anything, I appreciate them more for it, as they provide a worthy challenge for my preferred champions of Order. With that in mind, let's take a look at the first battalion of Chaos: the Goreblade Warband.
Mighty Lord of Khorne
1 Unit of Blood Warriors
1 Unit of Blood Reavers
This is a narrative battalion, drawn from the starter set, or, if you prefer, from the pages of The Gates of Azyr. It represents the forces of Khorgos Khul, Mighty Lord of Khorne, tyrant of the Brimstone Peninsula in Aqshy, where Lord Vandus Hammerhand struck the first blow of the Realmgate Wars. According to the novel, the hordes were without count, but on the hand that same novel labels Vandus' Thunderstrike Brotherhood at 10,000, so a grain of salt might be required.
In either case, the functional lore for the Goreblade Warband is simple -- a chieftain of Khorne worshiping savages leads his men, including his shaman / standard bearer (Bloodsecrator), a horrific monster (Khorgorath) and its tamer (the Bloodstoker.)
Each unit of this battalion has a specific battlefield purpose. To best utilize the Goreblade Warband, a good general needs to understand those roles and either utilize them or take advantage of the threat they generate to manipulate the enemy out of properly utilizing their army.
The Mighty Lord of Khorne: General (obviously), Champion
Use this general to hunt down those large, multi-wound enemies your lesser units are too afraid to fight, because if he wounds someone and they survive, his Reality Splitting Axe means that there's a 33% chance that they'll end up being sucked into the Realm of Chaos. Considering his 3+ to both hit and wound and -1 rend, the chances of landing at least one wound is pretty decent; D3 damage means against normal enemies the ability will probably be wasted as it is. Run him into a Lord-Celestant, though, and there is a fairly decent chance that with a couple of turns of fighting that shiny little hero will end up fading away into an eternity of suffering. The Flesh Hound also provides an infinite number of unbinding opportunities, which is neat, and, if that weren't enough, the Gorelord Command Ability gives 3 units within 24" a better chance of landing a long charge. That last bit synergizes particularly well with the Batallion's Blood Rivals ability, which allows units in the battalion to re-roll failed charges if another unit from the batallion has already succeeded in a charge of their own.
The Bloodsecrator: Buffing Platform
Let's get this out of the way: a Bloodsecrator is useless on his own. If you are relying on a Bloodsecrator to fight for himself, you're doing it wrong. Using this guy effectively means parking him in the middle of your army, out of combat, and opening the Portal of Skulls. Immunity to Battleshock for all Khorne units within 18", and all those units get an additional +1 attack to boot. The only downside is that the Bloodsecrator doesn't get to move, which means that unless he is attacked there will be no combat, hence why you shouldn't be wasting this guy fighting -- doing so would make it so that the portal remains closed, and that's a huge waste of potential.
The Bloodstoker: Support melee
His whip is insurance for those long charges, which stacks well with the Mighty Lord's Gorelord and the battalion's Blood Rivals abilities. Because he is one of the few units in this battalion with a ranged attack and gains no real advantage on the charge beyond initiative (which is less significant in this case than in others given his 5 wounds), it makes more sense to get in close, take a few cracks with the whip, and then pile into whatever combat his earlier encouragement forced. The 12" range on Whipped to Fury does mean that the Bloodstoker will be in the thick of things, so it's best to make sure he never ends up too exposed. Lore says to use stick him with the Khorgorath-- tactics says that's a decent plan. The fact that that same ability also cause re-rolls on 1's to wound also stacks nicely -- that means that each of the Khorgorath's 5 attacks goes from 67% to wound to somewhere around 75%.
The Khorgorath: Hammer
If ever there was an example of a hammer unit, it is the Khorgorath. Sure, it can shoot, but only 6", and let's be honest, with 5 3+ 3+ -1 attacks, you want this monster in close combat. If he kills a model, he heals a wound, and if you inflict any wounds (and you will) then every other enemy unit within 12" loses 1 bravery in that turn's Battleshock Phase. In conjunction with the Bloodstoker, that means this unit has a pretty decent chance of wiping a unit (and thus triggering the battalions special +1 attacks clause).
The Blood Warriors: Anvil
2 wounds, 4+ save, an ability that punishes enemies when they make a save, and an ability that punishes those same enemies when they don't. No doubt about it -- that is an anvil unit. Stick them where your opponent doesn't want them, and then leave them there. Their 2 attacks aren't great, (3+ to hit, 4+ to wound) but with support from the Bloodsecrator, which you should definitely be taking advantage of, that goes up to 3 attacks, and on turns where the Khorgorath finishes off a unit or one of your Bloodreaver units is wiped out, that's 4.
The Bloodreavers: Chaff, Flanking
Bloodreavers are an interesting unit. On one hand, they have no save and their bravery is pretty much nonexistent: if they end up in combat they won't last long. In dying, they'll help out the rest of the army by adding an attack for the rest of the turn, so that's something, but they'll still be dead. When within 12" of a deployed Bloodsecrator though, this unit is an absolute monster -- for a full 10 model unit that's 21 attacks. 21. Sure, those attacks are 4+ to hit, 4+ to wound, and no rend, but still, 21 attacks in one turn.
Overall, the cornerstones of this battalion are extra attacks and charge assuredness.
Blood Rivals -- Re-roll charge rolls for units in this battalion if another unit from the battalion has already made a successful charge this turn.
in conjunction with... Gorelord (3 units roll 3D6 and choose highest 2 numbers on charge roll) and Whipped to Fury (3" increase to a unit within 12"). For Bloodreavers, the hornblower can also add 1 to run and charge rolls.
Khorne Care not...: If a unit is wiped out, battalion units get an extra attack.
Deployment -- The key to this unit is the Bloodsecrator. With his 18" Portal of Skulls, he can define the use of Bloodreavers and Blood Warriors. Make sure he is in the center of the army from the start. Put the Khorgorath and Bloodstoker on one flank, and the Mighty Lord of Khorne on the other.
Opening Moves: Close the gap fast. Run everyone forward, use Gorelord ability on the Reavers and Warriors and Whipped to Fury on the Khorgorath. Spread the line out to maximize coverage, but don't over extend, because the Bloodreavers will get wiped out by missile units and, so weakened, end up crushed by an early charge. Find the scariest enemy unit and charge the Blood Warriors into it. Attack the flanks with the Bloodreavers.
Development: Once the Bloodreavers and Blood Warriors are engaged, open the Portal of Skulls, whip the Khorgorath into a frenzy, and hunt down the enemy general with the Might Lord of Khorne. The Khorgorath will do what it does best, the Blood Warriors will hold the line, and the Bloodreavers will die in droves.
MATCHED PLAY: YEP
NARRATIVE PLAY: ABSOLUTELY
OPEN PLAY: SURE
Minimum Points (Matched Play): 700
Cost: $165 (Starter Set)
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