Solving the Gobbapalooza Problem

Well I hope you had a good Christmas and New Year – I had a blast on my trip to the UK, with the gaming highlight being an MCP session with the legends from Newcastle Warlords.  I managed to retain uncharacteristically tight discipline on my hobby spend – came home with just one box of Gluttons and the Xenos Rampant rulebook to show for my troubles – although that was offset by a pretty generous drinking budget.  There were loads of people I hadn’t seen in years, so I was always going to enjoy myself, but it’s back on the straight and narrow in 2023 and I’m determined to keep smashing out those kilometres in my sneakers and on the bike, instead of smashing back the beers.  Wish me luck.

Anyway, I’m clearly here today to talk about my favourite subject: relentless whinging about Order armies Destruction. 

Are Gloomspite top tier?  Gimme a hell yeah! 

It’s an S Tier book in my opinion, albeit not without its frailties, but there’s one unit in particular I want to focus on today.  Five little legends with the sexy warscroll their minis have long deserved – but is that warscroll too good?  And if so, what should get picked up in the FAQ?

My answers are, in turn, yes – and probably not what you’re thinking.  Let’s take a look at the details and see if you agree.

What do they do?

The app has been updated and you can read the full thing in there, but what 145 points gets you is effectively a 2 cast, 2 unbind wizard (with no bonuses though), along with one Not Prayer (from a choice of 3) that just happens, no rolling required.

The Not Prayers

Each of these is subject to a Wholly 12” bubble:

  • While Scaremonger is in the unit, you can give a Gloomspite unit +1 to run and charge
  • While Brewgit is in the unit, you can give a Gloomspite Hero +1 to hit and wound in melee
  • While Spiker is in the unit, you can improve the rend on one Gloomspite unit’s attacks

Being a unit has its upsides and down:

  • You can apply wounds first to the models you need least (thank you for your service, Scaremonger)
  • You can Rally models back into the unit
  • You can bring back 3/5 models through the Loonshrine once per game, on the roll of a 4+

But on the flipside:

  • They effectively bracket quite hard in their abilities as they remove models
  • We’re talking about a Bravery 5 unit here – kill a couple and watch the rest of those 3 wound models flee
  • You need to remain coherent, which can cause conflicts in the placing of various models on the board (more on this below)

So what’s the problem?

Well, there are a few – and they all circle back to a pretty abusive build that has nothing to do with the Hoppers ‘n’ Herds moral panic sweeping Twitter. Forget Squigs, it’s the Shoota spam list you should be worried about.  First (and to my mind biggest) issue is that Spiker’s rend bonus is not locked to melee weapons.  This is a pretty big deal, because Shootas should be terrible at shooting.  Their existence (and the implied threat of Curse) is presumably why the book lacks a Priest keyword, despite Gloomspite’s entire schtick being the physical presence of their deity on the Battlefield. 

Now, I’ve heard the question asked “should I put Nettas in my unit of Shootas?”

I’d flip that around and ask “Should I put Shootas in my unit of Nettas?”

Fact is, once you’ve got a block of 40 or 60 Grots with at least one Netta, you’ve already got a generically useful block of bodies.  These guys put a huge number of small, Battleline bases on Objectives at negative 1 to hit.  They are, and will always be, cheap bodies and strong at scoring the primary win condition – for that reason, their shooting cannot and should not be more than incidental chip damage.  Shootas are making a big contribution just by existing, so giving them gunline output would just be silly.

And yet that’s exactly what Spiker does.  The Loonboss’s enhanced All Out Attack and the Moonface Mommet have both been carefully curated to affect combat only, so making this one open slather just looks like a mistake to me. But even if shooting at rend -1 is too much for these guys, it doesn’t stop there.

Which brings us onto the second problem – Spiker stacks.  Yup. You can take two Gobbapaloozas, and jack rend -2 on your Shootas.  It might not sound like much when they natively wound on 5s (a clear indication, in my mind, that they are designed to have a low ceiling) – but with two blocks of 60, both getting All Out Attack (which can be achieved in multiple ways), that’s a huge volume of dice at 20” range, with combat output still to come.  That’s the key thing – even equipped with Bows, these guys can take the Loonboss ability for MWs in combat, and punch out a whole bunch more dice – getting another benefit from that stacked up rend -2.

I’ve defended Ogor gunlines because I think there’s no (good) reason why an army with looted, underslung cannons used as sawn-off shotguns and a magnificent artillery piece named The Cannon of the Sky Titans shouldn’t have meaningful dakka.  That’s not the case here.  I’m not going to go out to bat for a Gloomspite Kunnin Rukk because I just don’t think it’s what this army is meant to be.  I’ll take an S Tier combat trading army, thanks very much, and happily see this NPE shooting build nipped in the bud.

And that still leaves a third problem – or at least a perceived problem.  Because they’re not Unique, you can summon the Gobbapalooza back through the Loonshrine. 

Credit: Games Workshop

So let’s just make them Unique?

This is where I will go out to bat for the unit, and for the army.  Making Gobbapalooza unique would seem to solve a lot of questions here – by definition they could no longer be spammed (and therefore stacked), and you couldn’t attempt to bring them back through the Shrine.

Sounds great!  Let’s do that!

I would still argue that there’s a better way to fix the unit.

Being in a “unit” of 5 has downsides as well as up.  As well as the Battleshock problem running through this army, there’s an inherent tension in how you position them: they’re crap wizards, so you ideally want your Hand of Gork piece pegged back out of Unbind range.  This conflicts with the need to keep Spiker prominent with your fighting units, and this whole tension will reward thinking one turn ahead and therefore catch out the filth chasers.  Gobbapalooza are quite technical to use and therefore making them a prominent part of the army raises the skill floor, which is to everyone’s benefit.

They are also in competition with a lot of other cost-effective, useful buff pieces which are also not unique.  Sporesplatta Fanatics and Sneak Snufflers both come back through the Shrine, so why shouldn’t these guys?  They have the same bad armour save and same low bravery.  Kill a few, watch the rest run, and hopefully get a handful of them back through the Shrine once per game.  It’s how the army is meant to work – bringing back your pieces is a feature and not a bug for Gloomspite.

So be careful what you wish for, because if you make Gobbapalooza unattractive relative to Sneaky Snufflers, I can tell you what will happen – we Gloomspite players will be steered to drop the Palooza (which we can’t bring back) in favour of more Snufflers (which we can).  Sound familiar?  Pushing the army down the route of massive wound swarms standing around on objectives with 5++ wards just means you’ve got another Gargants on your hands, and nobody wants that. 

Gobbapalooza incentivizes the army to be aggressive and dynamic.  Snufflers incentivize them to be passive and static.  If you want a whole bunch of boring non-games, nerfing Gobbapalooza too hard would be a great way to achieve that.  And in the context of how the unit works and what options this army has, making them Unique would do exactly that.

See? They’re not Unique
Credit: Games Workshop

Not an erratum then?  But muh Battletome!

So really, my argument here is to address the real source of the issue – Spiker’s rend shouldn’t stack, and it shouldn’t apply to missile weapons.   Making Gobbapalooza Unique fails to address rend being applied to shooting attacks, which as a point of principle should not be a thing – I just don’t believe that was anything other than an oversight.   So the truth is, Unique or not, this unit is going to need a minor erratum either way – and if we’re doing that, we might as well do it right.

I’d love to see a change to the Nasty Poisons ability as follows:

Improve the Rend characteristic of that unit’s melee weapons by 1 until the start of your next hero phase.  A unit cannot benefit from this ability more than once per phase.

There ya go, job’s a good ‘un. If you’re really worried about someone spending massive chunks of their points on stacking a few +1s to charge, you can easily tag similar wording onto Glareface Dance too, and I wouldn’t have any problem with that.  But really the important message here is let’s fix the Gobbapalooza properly, and address the problem at source.

Well thanks for reading, and feel free to tell me I’ve got it all wrong either in the comments or on Twitter.  Also just want to say that I’ve had loads of DMs asking me plans I had to cover Gloomspite on the site, and I’m afraid you’re looking at it – I’m still on hiatus and this post is a one-off.  That being said I appreciate everyone who has taken the time to get in touch, and it definitely means a lot to know that people value the blog. 

Keep it real, keep painting those Squigs and have an awesome weekend, nerds.

Credit for the cover image to Games Workshop


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