Thursday, June 5, 2014

Astra Militarum Tactics part I: Bullgryns and Ogryns

The new codex now has an identity that is forming over the course of games and I have observed a number of them as well a played them with the new codex now.

One of the hotbed topics seems to be utilizing Bullgryns and Ogryns, as well as the math to justify them or else fail to justify them.

My first question when thinking about them was the same that most players ask themselves:  How do they compare to each other, truly.  When you ask that question you need to understand (if you aren't already familiar with them) that they are taken for entirely different reasons.  So a simple analysis of their killing potential isn't enough.  On the other hand, you can't ignore that component and be intellectually honest.

Both are stubborn, possess Frag Grenades, and gain the Hammer of Wrath special rule (at their strength which is really good), adding potency.  Being Very Bulky severely limits the number that can be transported, though as you will see, this affects Ogryns more than Bullgryns.

The stat line remained unchanged from the Imperial Guard codex to the Astra Militarum version other than the armor.  Armor and armaments vary a great deal between the two.

The 4+ armor on Bullgryns is instantly the first thing you notice.  That elevates their suitability against an enormous amount of the 40K universe weaponry.  As this seems to cost 5 points per model and isn't optional, it's good to note that the armor upgrade does protect 3 wound models so the uptick in armor at 5 points is quite worthwhile.  Bolters, Shuriken Cannons and a large number of other nasty weapons become far more mundane against them.  The Slab Shield makes their armor 3+ when they stick together (base to base) making them even more insane when it comes to getting shot up by the enemies.  The Bullgryns start to look like a really good deal.  Add to this the cover bonus to units that are obscured by a Bullgrun and you realize you have a mobile Aegis Defense line in the form of Bullgryns, for tank formations and for normal ones!  If you were to, say, take the cost of an Aegis line at 50 points and distribute that among the models, I think you begin to see real value here.  They are hearty enough to obviate the need for a Land Raider, which the Ogryns really benefit from to proceed across the war torn battlefields of 40K.

Their weapons are different also.   Ogryns have the Ripper Gun while the Bulgryn carries the Grenadier Gauntlet.  I would argue that the Ripper gun which is STR 5 and Assault 3 using 12" range is the superior weapon over the Gauntlet STR 4 AP 6 small blast.  Anyone who spreads out can limit the blast to one model being hit and that's if it doesn't scatter.  The lesser strength of the Gauntlet also means it does nothing to vehicles.  That's important because you'd prefer whenever possible to have the unit blast the rhino open and then charge the unit inside.  The Bullgryns can't do that against the vast majority of vehicles.  Not at all if they get pinned down (since you now cannot Overwatch when you are pinned).

Ogryns and Bullgryns can take a Taurox or Chimera to battle.  The Taurox firing points can give the unit a pretty useful way to fire while staying protected.  With Tough 5 not many are going to die if the Taurox does blow up, especially the armored Bullgryns, and blowing up transports in 7E is simply not as easy to do anyways.  The new rules make the Taurox and Chimeras both take a goodly beating with little or no risk to those inside honestly.

The Bullgryns can take a Brute Shield and Power Maul instead of lugging the other big shield around  They lose their shooting capabilities and it's not cheap at 15 points per model.  You're more or less taking Bullgryns at 60 apiece.  That starts to get expensive.  Now I am not one who strictly looks at points as much as I look at whether a unit CAN do its job and then secondarily, can it do any other jobs.  As I've said before, making sure plan B is almost as solid as plan A is actually important and sometimes a unit that may not look "optimal" in plan A suddenly can look pivotal in Plan B.  Philosophy class ended.

Assuming the Bullgryn upgrades, he's losing all shooting ability.  In addition, he is actually easier to wound.  The Brute Shield really only helps against AP 3 or better weapons in comparison to the Slab Shield on the approach.  Only STR 10 weapons are of concern other than Ap3.  So what you kind of conclude is that the only time these guys will be worth their salt is when you REAAAAALY want to pound armor into the ground and expect a plasma storm.  But Astra Militarum already has this ability to pound armor in spades.  You can ride Bullgryns up in a Land Raider using 7th edition rules on allies which I suppose would be attractive.  It's certainly aesthetically pleasing to see them with Power mauls, wading mercilessly and efficiently through the enemy and taking wounds like champs.  I just don't know if I'd want to spend an extra 75 points on five Bullgryns and the cost of expediting their arrival etc...

So when all is said and done, Ogryns being able to kill vehicles in the shooting phase and their lesser cost along with their better use of transports means they are going to be a decent shock troop for you.  They benefit from now getting to roll against being forced to Snap shot when ejected from their Transport also and even if they fail it, are not as affected by that as Bullgryns who prefer to hoof it.

In a best case scenario for victim and Ogryn during a charge, what are we expecting?  The 5 Ogryns cause 5 wounds against MEQ, and 6.25 against squishies before saves with shooting.  On a good day, the Bullgryns get half that.  On the charge they are both the same but Bullgryns will take less damage at times against mundane weapons, yet will suffer more hits because their shooting isn't as good at whittling before combat.  They also probably take more casualties before they get to the fight.  Bullgryns are more expensive so it's not as if the losses are equal in value.  Tough call.

Which vehicle you would prefer probably factors in.  More can fit in Chimeras and yet more can fit in Land Raiders but it requires an allied detachment.  Personally I'd probably rely on the hard working Taurox.  More firepower, and the Chimera can't hold any more Ogryns if they are accompanied by someone than the Chimera can.  Whoever leads the Ogryns in one will no doubt be a hammer also.  The Lord Commissar or Yarrick choices make sense.  They can both help the unit become even more dangerous, you need an HQ anyways and there's worse places to put one.  Kurov's Aquila makes the Ogryns and their master awfully scary in lesser numbers.  All in all, the smaller unit looks a LOT bigger when the Lord Commissar is in town.  Yarrick is an equally annoying prospect as he seems to like to live through the most mortifying wounds and gets back up, plus he has slightly better stats, can give orders etc...  Tough choice but its good to have tough choices isn't it?

Bullgryns probably are better off in a Crusader but lets face it:  that is a LOT of points to commit.  I won't say it wouldn't be fun, but the Bullgryns best role may just be as your walking wall behind which the tide flows, with Chimeras running interference.  I mean whats the diff between spending hundreds of points on Psykers to protect units when there's a more visceral, more sure version of that via the Bullgryns?  They DO crush face if not stopped so they draw fire well.  They are hearty and can probably absorb quite a but of it before the enemy finally finishes them and your whole army is able to fire weapons free in the meantime.  Two rounds to fire pretty much unabated is pretty nice to think about. As reserved backfield defense you could do tons worse and if you can get them outflanking with Warlord traits or something?  Good times!

Scions and Ratlings are your only other Elite alternatives.  Now that Snipers don't even pin targets, and Scions are basically just better Veterans (which you can actually just take as troops), the slot really feels like its the Ogryns and Bullgryns to lose.  I think in a more mobile warfare, I'd want Ogryns, but for defense or blob type armies, Bullgryns can have a pretty valuable role.

Whatever role you decide for them in your armies, report back here and tell us what you're seeing out there as friend or foe to Ogryns.


  1. With the new rules and psychic power invisibility, I wonder if they could be used as amazing body guards. Throw a minimum squad fitted as you want and attach characters that can beat face and be annoying...perhaps Loth as he guarantees invisibility or some librarians/primaris psykers and a chapter master or something else that can really go to town attacking something. The key really is invisibility as it means your 3 wound T5 beasts are just going to last that much longer!


  2. The character needs to be the gem in the unit though. The Ogryns provide the value buy and better shooting weapon. If you have a character that can make the unit better without spending the points on Bullgryns, that's what I suggest people do. If their characters aren't in that boat, then the Bullgryns could make soem sense. I really think that if you can get a unit upfield behind some terrain and cut off that side of the board, then rush with them, It could serve as a really good way to tie up important assets and heavy supports. Terrain matters so much in considering whether these will be of maximum usefulness.

  3. Honestly if I wanted this type of bullet sponge unit, I would simply ally in some GK Terminators who have no problems dishing out firepower from range (compared to the 12" of Ogryns/Bullgryns) and on top of that also have higher initiative and their weapons also ignore armor saves and strike at better strength.

    The only thing Ogryns/Bullgryns have going for them is 2 extra wounds per model, but a 2+/5++ save for the GK termies makes up for it.

    1. I don't think it does. I think you're vastly underestimating what an extra 2 wounds means. I see this same underestimation when talking about Magenobz and similar units. Yet I have proven with Grotesques that a 6+ save on three wounds does not invalidate the value of the unit when you look much deeper. The inability to sweeping advance and other factore make me suggest that perhaps another look is in order?

  4. Replies
    1. Escape hatch = cool. Not allowed in a lot of quarters. but cool.

  5. The issue I see with Bullys *and I really want to love them!) Is there their cover save goes both ways. It's granting the bonus to ALL models on both teams that are partially obscured.

    1. Interesting point. Though I think I would argue that a pretty good chunk of the targets in the case of IG wont care much about a lot of the shots coming from behind those shields. The tanks can fire over the Bullgryns so no problem there for the most part. But I dont think thats an invalid point at all. it is something to consider.


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