Stompers Tribe: Zoning Boards and Clearing Hordes

Stompers Tribe

What if giants, but smashier? Make the Warstomper your General, run your Sons in Stompers, and all your dreams of stamping on puny infantry like insects can come true. Kinda.

Before I launch into the details of this army and how I see it winning games (or otherwise), let me steer you towards Alex Butler’s excellent batrep. Although I’m still struggling through the cognitive dissonance of what these guys are versus what they could have been, which will no doubt come across in this article, Alex put together an excellent showcase of Stompers and what they can offer on the tabletop, which did help me turn that frown upside down.

Why Run Stompers?

At heart, this army’s main strength is capping objectives. Anyone who has played with or against Stonehorns will tell you how game-defining their Might Makes Right rule can be: get them down to one wound, and with barely a toenail on the objective, they still count as 10 models and instacap. It’s hard to overstate the importance and impact of that rule.

Sons of Behemat are essentially the Hearthguard Bezerkers of scoring objectives: if you push your models towards each other, they automatically come out on top, every time and against everything.

But with Sons, you will lose models, and most likely quite quickly; so then the whole balancing act with this army becomes trying to insert at least situational damage output on the one hand, and on the other hand foregoing that almost entirely, to focus instead on scrambling to stay alive and on the objectives for just long enough before getting tabled.

In the real world, you’ll always be doing both: fighting and dying, capping and retreating. So which way do you want to lean on that sliding scale? Stompers pushes the needle more towards mixing it in melee, and staying alive by killing their shit first, but it’s important to note that you’re still unlikely to run right over the top of any half-decent opponent.


The Warstomper

In common with all Megas, your Warstomper is surprisingly (and disappointingly) feather-fisted in melee. Let’s take a moment to appreciate how truly pathetic that Damage 2 is on his main weapon, the spectacularly oversold Titanic Boulderclub. A profile similar to some relatively cheap support Heroes (looking at you, Arkanaut Admiral) is one thing, but even at its peak number of attacks, it’s lower than a minimum unit of Fellwater Troggoths can deliver. Last time I checked they weren’t exactly dominating the podiums, and this is honestly just sad.

This thing does scale up, depending on what you’re fighting:

Why? Why cap it at 10? That rule has “It’s Destruction, better not make them too good” written all over it. This guy is meant to be an anti-horde specialist, his core stats are already underwhelming and then you put a hard cap on his upside too? Well at least he always gets a minimum of 1 attack, I guess. How very generous.

Relative to other Megas he has more stamping attacks (labelled as Jump Up and Down here), although 4 damage D3 attacks isn’t going to shake the world; and his pluck attack (which works on both players’ turns) can parlay into a mid range shooting poke, if you get lucky and hit a 4+:

Long story short, we’re going to have to find different ways to win games with Sons, and if you’re up for the challenge, that’s fine. But without labouring the point any further, I think it’s important to manage your expectations about what this epic beast of destruction will actually do for your army; and for a lot of people the gulf between what these guys are supposed to be, and what they actually deliver, will be vast to the point of immersion breaking.

Stompers Tribe Abilities

Damage Bonus

What do we get for running Stompers? What it actually does is turns your Mega-G into a force multiplier. He’s here to crank up the little giants, and get them firing on all cylinders.

First up, the Mancrushers get a welcome damage bonus: +1 damage against units of 10 or more models, +2 damage against units of 20 or more models. That’s really not hard to trigger, and so is of excellent practical benefit.

Whilst very welcome, it does (in my opinion) often only get Mancrushers back to where they should have started: 10 attacks at rend -1 damage 2 is in no way excessive for a unit that costs 180 points on a 5+ save. Nonetheless, it may well be your best chance of actually killing shit with this book.

In another stroke of pettiness, these damage bonuses don’t apply to the Warstomper himself (“Better not make them too good” klaxon); but on the plus side, it currently applies to all Mancrusher attacks, including chucking rocks. Look out for that one disappearing in the FAQ, but if not, enjoy it!

Big Shouts

The second thing that Stompers gives you is a set of unique Command Abilities, called Big Shouts, which only affect your Mancrushers. These include strictly-better versions of the generic CAs we all have access to (since they affect every Mancrusher within a decent 12″ bubble); of particular interest is the one that lets you run 6″, since they can run and charge natively, making your army pretty fucking rapid.

Also worth a close look is the Big Shout that lets all of your Mancrushers throw rocks. If you’re running the full complement of 9, that starts to add up to a decent bit of output, although you’ll need to be wary of thinning out a chaff unit to the point that you lose your extra damage. It does give you something you can usefully do on the first turn too, because you’re otherwise foot slogging, and not particularly quickly.

Another thing to point out is that you can only use Big Shouts, and no other Command Abilities. This rules out Realm Commands, which sucks if you do play Realms.

Command Traits

Alongside the generic options (40 wounds is always worth a look), Stompers get 3 of their own. I’d be seriously tempted by Very Shouty for D3 extra CPs, because you’ll want to fire up those Big Shouts early and often.

Eager for the Fight, providing a 3D6″ charge, is probably my other pick, on the basis that your Warstomper is otherwise the slowest of the Megas. Getting him onto an objective mid-game onwards could be clutch. Any of those three CTs will contribute to your win condition.

Artefacts

OK, this is where it gets exciting. The Warstomper is probably blessed with the best set of kit in the book. Remember how a minute ago I was moaning about those weird pre-nerfs? Well GW have flipped the script here, and given each Artefact a dual benefit. In each case, I would argue that there is one rule that on its own would make the artefact top tier, and the secondary benefit is just the icing on the cake.

Ironweld Cestus is very, very hard to look past. Reroll all saves…and every save roll of 6 does a MW back. Hell yeah! And you’ll be getting the benefit across a lot of dice rolls, especially if you take the 40 wound Command Trait.

Club of the First Oak heals 1 wound every turn, but get this: when your Warstomper is slain, roll a dice, and on a 4+ you don’t die, and all remaining wounds to be allocated are discarded. Holy shit! Are you a gambler? Keep rolling those 4+s, keep refusing to die, turn after turn!

This is exactly the kind of fun and powerful rules I was hoping for with this book. Although perhaps not as consistently useful as the reroll saves, it’s a straight-up game changer when it does deliver, and you’ll get some great stories out of it. Charge a pack of Death Frenzied Plague Monks when you’re on low wounds, clean house and then shrug off their infinite damage to hold the objective. Hell yeah!

Alex Butler’s meme sums this one up perfectly:

Last but (arguably) not least, Mantle of the Destroyer gives you a decent 12″ bubble of immunity to Battleshock and rerolling charges. This might not be as sexy as the other two, but don’t sleep on it: what it does is liberates your CPs to be spent on aggro actions such as rerolling 1s to hit, and chucking rocks with your Gargant gunline.

It makes your Mancrushers stick around, get where they need to go, and do what they need to do with consistency and style. So if it looks boring, don’t be fooled!

List Building Considerations

So how are we going to go about winning games?

First thing to say is that we need Mancrushers, and plenty of them. Everything we get for running Stompers benefits them, and them alone. We’re looking for at least 6, and probably 9.

We need multiple units, to be in multiple areas of the board at once. Capping as 10 or 20 is great, but to challenge for multiple objectives, we need to threaten in multiple directions – otherwise we’re too easy to screen off. So we’ll probably want a few individual Mancrushers.

We also want a big, scary unit to deliver the pain. If we’re not trying to kill shit at all, there are other tribes (Takers) that work around objectives better; Stompers is going to work by clearing off threats as well as scoring. So we also need at least one big unit of 3 Crushers, to benefit from the Big Shouts and issue a devastating burst of damage in one activation.

This army is Command Point hungry. Big Shouts place heavy demands on that resource, and you do not want any 180-point, 12-wound models fleeing to Battleshock, so you’ll generally want one up your sleeve if your opponent has bravery debuffs.

So what this is telling us is that we need to invest in and support our Mancrushers: you want your Warstomper to deliver for them, but part of that means keeping him around, so his loadout needs to bring a combination of durability and support.

I’d be looking for either two sets of Durability items, or one Durability and one Support. It becomes dealer’s choice at that point, but my preferred combinations currently are:

  • 40 wounds and reroll all saves
  • 40 wounds and the bravery / reroll charges bubble
  • D3 extra CPs and reroll all saves

I’d be happy taking any of those three loadouts on my list. That Club of the First Oak does keep calling me though…

The Lists

The Gargant Gunline

  • Warstomper (General) 480
    • Command Trait: Very Shouty
    • Artefact: Ironweld Cestus
  • 3x Mancrushers 480
  • 3x Mancrushers 480
  • Mancrusher 180
  • Mancrusher 180
  • Mancrusher 180

1980 Points, 143 Wounds

One Mega-G and 9 Babies, chucking rocks like they’re going out of fashion. D3 extra CPs to keep those big blocks firing on all cylinders, and reroll saves on the Warstomper to make sure he sticks around to use them.

Those triple-blocks will be legitimately scary to a lot of units, bringing 30 attacks at rend -1 damage 3 a pop, plus all the ancillary pain from plucking models and spiky Eadbutts.

Look to use your solo Crushers as the world’s most inefficient screen when required, but also as utility pieces to bomb down the flanks, stretch your opponent’s attention and steal objectives wherever they can.

Loads of nice keywords and Battlefield roles for those bonus VPs, and you’ll utterly annihilate the right opponent in combat. Look out for chances to make essentially your whole army run 6″ with a single Big Shout, and rearrange the status quo around objectives dramatically.

Smash Mouth Football

  • Warstomper (General) 480
    • Command Trait: Monstrously Tough
    • Artefact: Ironweld Cestus
  • Kraken Eater 490
  • 3x Mancrushers 480
  • Mancrusher 180
  • Mancrusher 180
  • Mancrusher 180

1990 Points, 142 Wounds

The list that Alex showcased in yesterday’s batrep, bringing all of the above but subbing out one unit of Mancrushers for a second Mega-G.

Not only will this look cooler on the table, the Kraken-Eater brings some serious utility…and serious fun. Kicking objectives around is the shiny new game mechanic that will get you out of a hole on certain missions, and create great war stories. Overall a nice blend of punch and tech.

Final Thoughts

If you want to fight, Stompers might be the best Tribe to do it in. When the stars align, Mancrushers can be true wrecking balls, even if the concept of those old models doing the heavy lifting won’t appeal to everyone (and wasn’t why they got into this army).

Some people will be OK with that, and it might even suit a person who has a lot of the old Aleguzzlers in their collection; it can be a cheap buy-in with only one Warstomper required.

If you want double the big boys for double the fun, then Alex Butler’s batrep demonstrated that you can chuck in a Kraken Eater for some objective jank and have some really exciting games with this Tribe. That combination of tech and punch might well hit the sweet spot for a lot of people who want to make this army work, and have fun doing it.


We’ll be back tomorrow for a look at Takers, which is the Tribe I’m most excited by, following up with Breakers and then a wrap up of the whole release.

Until then, May Gork bring you strength, may Mork bring you wisdom.

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