|by Lew_b81, not me!|
As some of you might have noticed, I play Ogres. Part of the fun for me is looking around the interwebz and seeing what other people are writing about the big bullies. Mostly I look at tactics and reviews, often I look at rules queries, sometimes I look at cool models, and very occasionally I get mixed up in silly power level debates...
Now, Nike is doing a review on his blog, which you can find here, and I think so far he's doing a good job. I don't always agree with him, but hey, there isn't a person in the world I agree with all the time. It's nice and refreshing to read other people's views, especially if they differ from mine.
One of the points we differ on is on how we view leadbelchers. In short, I feel they are a valid choice. And I thought I should write a more in depth post on why I feel they are.
Firstly, let's look at what you get. For the price of an Irongut you get a model that is comparable to a Bull in combat, but who cannot take any useful combat upgrades, apart from a musician (who by itself isn't more than mildly useful in combat, if that).
However, for those points you do get a fairly good missile weapon. It has the same range and S as a handgun, armour piercing, can fire D6 shots (with no modifier), and can move and fire without penalty.
Now, obviously the gun is the unit's defining feature and the reason you take them.
How good is it though?
If we look at it purely in a vacuum, which I don't particularly enjoy doing, a unit of 8 Leadbelchers on average puts out 28 shots. Assuming a -1 modifier (cover, long range, or skirmish), that's 9.4 hits and 6.3 wounds on T3 models. That's 1.4 less than High Elf archers (same points, same modifiers). Dark Elf xbowmen do even better. Still, I'll argue that still makes them fairly competent shooters.
But looking at naked stats like that isn't the be all, end all of unit analysis. Far from it. What more do Leadbelchers have to offer?
Leadbelchers provide you with reliable, mobile missile support. They hit just as often moving as standing still, something very few other dedicated missile troops can do. And moving 6" means they'll be that much closer to short range. Their mobility effectively also increases their range from 24" to 30", which is right up their with some of the longest range weapons (long bows, crossbows).
Another advantage Leadbelchers have is that they carry black powder weapons. This S4 armour piercing means they suddenly become a lot more effective vs certain units than other missile weapons are. Anything with T 3-4 and no better than a 5+ save will learn to hate Leadbelchers much more than they will regular archers. Even knights will think twice before deploying opposite Leadbelchers.
Thirdly, Leadbelchers fill a definite void in the Ogre Kingdoms book. Obviously Ogres are a combat army and you want you combat units thumping away as soon as possible. But Ogres are also an elite army, by which I mean that they cannot bring that many effective units to the table. Ogres will most likely be outnumbered, unit-wise. Leadbelchers can help do damage to those excess enemy units from T1. They can keep pace with the rest of your force and blast away at smaller units while your Ironguts sprint for the enemy elite.
Now, the Ogres book is definitely not lacking in the ranged attack department, but no unit can put out the sheer volume of fire that the Leadbelchers can. The Ironblaster can fire at big monsters, Maneaters can snipe charcters, and the small templates of the Scraplauncher or the Thundertusk can hit small-base units, but the Leadbelchers shine vs 1w targets wearing a bit of armour
Fourthly, Leadbelchers have a large amount of potential. Being extremely random in their number of shots, your opponent will never know how many bullets will come flying his way. Of course, the odds are just as great that the Leadbelchers will do very little, but the potential will force your opponent to keep in mind the maximum number of shots. And if this forces him to, for instance, change his deployment or influence his movement phase, you're ahead. You always want your opponent reacting to what you do instead of the other way round. If he starts reacting, you can start dictating.
On a side note, the random shots is why I prefer one bigger unit of Leadbelchers over multiple smaller ones. It offsets the chance you are completely ineffective with your number of shots.
Also, try combining Leadbelchers with the BSB with flaming standard and see how fast you can kill a Hydra/HPA.
Fifthly, and finally, after all that, Leadbelchers are vastly superior in combat to most all other missile troops. Sure, they are just naked Bulls, but it will take more effort killing Leadbelchers in combat from the normal missile support hunters than usual. A big plus? Not really, but a plus nonetheless.
One of the disadvantages of the Leadbelchers is that they cannot stand and shoot. If an opponent charges you, you cannot unleash your guns as he runs towards you. But if you do not mind giving up a little movement, you can get a surrogate S&S attack. Just place a unit of Gnoblars (with trappers, obviously) in front of the Leadbelchers, wide enough to cover the front of the LBs. Gnoblars are small enough so that shooting over them won't impede the Leadbelchers' fire, and if an enemy wants to charge your LB, they first have to charge the Gnoblars and take the obligatory Dangerous Terrain tests. Voila, insta-stand and shoot attack!
And after all this, do I think they are worth 43 points? Maybe that is a tad pricey, but not vastly overcosted. Should they be an auto-include? No, the OK book is well designed in that it allows for multiple effective builds.
But I hope this post has explained that there is a definite place for Leadbelchers in an OK army. Maneaters and Mournfangs might be great, but do not forget about the Leadbelchers!