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Unleash the Full Power of Bretonnia. Bret units PDF Print E-mail
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Written by SaintofVirtue   
Tuesday, 27 September 2011
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Unleash the Full Power of Bretonnia. Bret units
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This is a guide to help people get more from their armies.  I wrote this to help people get a quick overview of how to play a better game by giving some tactics and discussing how each of the phases of the game should be played.

It is my hope that this helps new players get their footing in the game and hopefully become a better player capable of competing even at a tournament levels.  I also hope that it can serve as a bit of a reminder to old veterans to help raise their level of gameplay and show that things can be very deep and complicated.

 What this is not intended to do is to be an absolute word on all things Bretonnia.  This is to get your foot in the door and give you a solid base on how to play the game.  It is YOUR job to take the army and make it your own.  Do not let this trap you into just playing what I recommend.  Take some tips but develop your own tactics. Play your game, not mine.

Lastly... Have fun!  We are playing a GAME.  Games are supposed to be FUN!

 This section is dedicated to the the units in our armyand what they can be used for and what they can do.

For the LADY!

 

Unleashing the Full Might of Bretonnia.                                                                                                                                                 Tactica By: Saint of Virtue (Nathan R)

There are 2 critical keys to playing with Bretonnia, 2 things that must always be kept in mind and I think are more important for us than anyone else.  The first is the classic "Know thyself".  This goes far... FAR beyond such simple thoughts as knowing your units and will be the first thing discussed.  The second is the compliment of the first "Know thy Enemy" discussed second and I will finish with General tactics.

KNOW THYSELF

Ask yourself: "How well do I know this army?".  Do you just know the units?  Do you just know how each thing performs?  These are the type of things we will discuss here.  I will start with an in-depth look at each of our units.

 

Knights of the Realm (KOTR).  This is the work horse of our army.

Let's look at the stats. Decent WS.  Average everything else.  Whee.  Well, stats are not where they shine.  In fact it shows a glaring weakness to spells such as "Purple Sun of Xerxes" and 'the Dwellers below"  Both such spell ignore the greatest strength about knights of the realm which is our armor.  They key component is the WS here.  It means that most of the large chinsy horde units are hit on 3's.  This contributes to the hard hitting power of the lance on the charge where we inflict most of our damage.  However in this day and age this alone is seldom enough to break heavy infantry units.  Other Cav stand less of a chance if we charge and it is almost certainly a death sentence or at least a break sentence due to the basic resolution of 4 going in.  Even the mightiest knights in the game would think twice about letting themselves be charged.  Where our knights really shine is in the survival section.  The heavy armor combined with the blessing of the lady means that most things will have a heck of a time killing them.  Or more specifically... ALL of them.  If even one survives he can run away to deny the opponent valuable VP.  Also one model is all you need to flank so even 1 knight can be effective.

When combined with other units they can contribute much needed kills to a combat.  I highly recommend flanking with them for extra resolution.  When it comes down to it Knights of the realm are our masters of combat resolution.  Hard to kill, reasonable point cost and the ability to cause actual damage all contribute to this.  One thing to consider is that even without lances they get a grand total of 10 S3 attacks, (as an interesting note this is the same amount of attacks a normal infantry unit 5 wide gets minus champion).  This is usually enough to cause a couple kills.  Combine this with the static ranks and you have a unit that is often quite hard to shift.  Because of this advantage I do not recommend fielding units smaller than at least 8 knights + character.  Basically you get the same number of attacks as the foe but you have better armor and often better WS.  This often adds up to a winning fight.

With the advent of hordes and the return of larger units even a unit of 12 is possible and decently effective.  Will this break units that are 10 deep? Not immediately but unless the unit is unbreakable there is a decent chance of breaking it eventually through sheer perseverance.  Elimination of the enemy general and BSB will certainly aid this endeavor.  A common tactic of mine is to charge an infantry unit about 25-30 strong head on.  Consider the lances on the charge as bonus kills and models you don't need to eliminate to remove steadfast.  Also due to the small frontage only 5 models will ever be in Base to base contact.  This limits the number of counter attacks that will be received taking a full 30 attacks from a horde to a mere 15.  

I list them as decent at fighting monsters because they are cheap(ish) And due to the survival rating of these knights they often will win combat, so barring stubborn they may break the foe.  Also due to being Cav they are immune to Thunder stomp and stomp.  So just the base number of attacks against WS4 and 2+ armor 5+ ward saves.  Think that can break 3-4 combat res?  Not often but if the monster stays you may certainly be in trouble.

They also are quite good at being a character delivery or survival service.  Being difficult to kill means that they provide needed bodies to protect the valuable characters.  They can make sure that the lord gets in to cause damage or that the Prophetess stays alive.  Make sure not to make the unit too expensive by putting more than one hero in it because then it is just a target and will draw TOO much fire.

My personal recommendation for this unit is 9 strong.  Any less is ineffective, any more is just extra bodies though another rank may be nice and would certainly have its uses.  I prefer to keep my units rather cheap, Around 250 as opposed to 325.  That's a whole unit of Peasant bowmen.  Also run them in tandem with the rest of the army, they only should be alone in small games.  I run them straight up the center to bog  down and injure the expensive enemy units that live by numbers, or they target units with squishy characters because their loss doesn't mean the game is gone.  At the end of the day THIS is the unit I rely on.

What are they good for?  Supporting charges, Holding up things, Elimination of fire support, Bodyguard.

What are they ok at?  Combined charges, eliminating targets, Threats, Killing monsters.

What are they bad at?  Prolonged fights with powerful foes.  Armor piercing weapons.

 

Knight Errant (KE)   I often consider this the throwaway unit.

First off what makes this unit different then the Knights of the Realm?  They are cheaper, have a lower WS, a lower leadership, and are frenzied on the charge without the extra attack. So in my book I count one advantage: Cheaper; and one that could go either way: Frenzy charge.  I often find that the disadvantages to this unit are not worth the fact that they are cheaper by 4 points.  I know some people swear that the immunity to fear and terror is priceless.  It is nice, for a turn.  Most things that cause fear are also unbreakable, then the lower LD comes around and says they're WS 1.  So why take them?  Aren't KOTR better at everything?  Well in order to get the FULL value out of the Knights errant you need to consider the magic item section.  They have a banner that has been tailored specifically for them.

I never field a unit of Knights Errant without the banner of errantry.  This limits me to one per army and in essence means that they cost about 22 points per model which is still cheaper than KOTR.  It gives them the hitting strength of grail knights on the charge.  It is due to this lone banner that their purpose tends to be drastically different than that of the reliable KOTR.  It makes them more likely to go flying off after the enemy.

Once again let us look at their strengths which are similar to the KOTR.  They are pretty tough to kill.  Good armor and the blessing make them tough to shift.  That's where the survivability ends however, they suffer against the more elite infantry of WS 4.  Being hit on 3+ adds up quickly.  Also only hitting on 4+ (Usually) against most hordes means that they will kill less, which in turn makes them less valuable at breaking after the charge.  In fact the only infantry that I recommend charging with Knights Errant rather than Knights of the Realm are the ones that are elite enough to have WS 5.  This is where cheaper comes in, you lose less points when you would have lost the same number of models.

Where I find they shine the most is rather fluffy.  Monsters and other large targets fear the boost in strength to 6 far more than WS 4.  Giants can be hit and reliably wounded about 4 times in one turn of combat with a single lance of 9.  Once again they enemy is reduced to just their attacks. No stomp or thunderstomp. At the higher strength the very annoying Hydra gets no armor save, this helps offset the hatred first round.  Not only are their lances more effective against large monsters but the higher strength also means that monster infantry is a little more scared of them. (They score NEARLY identical wounds to KOTR)

The higher strength also means that they often hurt other heavy cav better than the KOTR.  Most heavy cav pack at least a WS 4 so the higher strength is useful.  The problem with this tactic is that if the enemy is within 20 you may try to make a nearly impossible charge and end up close enough for them to counter charge.  Which will likely hurt.  Their unreliability hurts them here.  Also due to the unreliability of Knights Errant I do not recommend putting character that you don't want to lose in the unit.

Now what I find their greatest tactic involves losing them.  I have often referred to them as a "Fire and Forget Missile".   Since I know they will charge at SOME point I just ram the unit into the single most dangerous unit in my foes army.  And by "dangerous" I mean dangerous to my army not on a unit to unit basis.  This often involves a powerful wizard in the other unit. On the charge they should remain in combat and may even win.  After that you simply hope they stay locked in combat for as long as possible so keep the BSB and General near.  If it is a wizard then the knights just may kill it or wound it severely.  That's their points back right there.  After that it's just bonus what they do.  I find the greatest part is the dilemma that it puts the enemy player in.  If he leaves them alone the KE may very well do enough damage to kill a wizard, or break the unit especially if it was just a mage bodyguard unit.  If he decides to flank them he exposes his side and rear to the rest of our army.  If he chooses the 2nd option... Your unit is most likely dead but the game may have just been won. And all for less than 250 points of KE.  It is surprisingly reasonable to field them at 12 strong if you plan on doing this.  Harder to shift with the extra rank means that your foe has a bigger dilemma.  If you think this is worth the cost of 10 peasant bowmen is a matter of preference.

At the end of the day the key to using Knights Errant effectively is in the deployment phase.  Deploy them across from what you want them to fight.  Otherwise they will end up fighting what your foe wants them to fight which is bad for you.  They MUST have a plan at the beginning of the fight.  Are you going to try and run the flank?  How about Right into the gut?  Are they monster hunting?  All of this MUST be decided when they're placed on the table.  Just make sure to keep your throwaway unit cheap enough to throwaway.

How I field them: One unit, 9 strong, banner of Errantry and Full Command.  Either they Monster hunt, flank or suicide.

What are they good for?  Supporting charges, Killing monsters, Distraction, Sacrificing themselves.

What are they ok at?  Combined charges, Elimination of fire support, Killing Cav.

What are they bad at?  Prolonged fights with foes.  Armor piercing weapons, Staying in one place!

  

Men At Arms (M@A)  The Bretonnian horde!

And the first of our lowborn units.  Once again stats leave something to be desired but 3 dramatically stand out.  WS, LD and the low point cost.  Again average I and low S show a weakness to certain spells which are the most effective way of killing these guys.  The biggest thing this unit has is the incredible cheapness of this unit, followed by the equipment.  This unit is our only viable horde unit and they are decent at it.  They are packing decent armor, for light infantry, (which is better against shooting) and with halberds they pack a decent punch.  Never underestimate the power of large amounts of S4 attacks.

As our "go to" infantry unit in a non infantry army I've found this unit to be rather unique.  Want steadfast?  Go here.  Want ranks to break enemy units?  Here again.  The problem?  They're not all that good at it... By themselves.  Their own Leadership will seldom keep them around  so a nearby knight unit must be nearby to herd the peasants and keep them in the fight.  The knight unit must also stay nearby to prevent panic tests.  Since they are slow compared to the rest of the force. This may present problems with the knights going ahead.  The other problem is people tend to avoid them in favor of attacking the knights, if they can't get in combat steadfast does nothing.

They do not fare well when fighting other horde units.  Most others are cheaper and can afford more bodies which lends itself to the M@A losing and breaking as soon as anything else comes their way.  Combine this with most enemy units avoiding them and having lots of extra ranks doesn't not help this unit all that much.  Most infantry of the same size will cut them down without a second thought.  Fortunately if you're fighting an infantry unit you should be much bigger.

 A key thing about M@A is being able to take hits and lose people without you caring.  I often laugh when my M@A suffer casualties and mock my opponent if he missed any swings.  Because of the need to be able to take wounds I highly recommend fielding units with more ranks than they need. I recommend you go for 5 ranks, 6 at most, in their typical formation be it normal or horde.  They are cheap enough that the bodies are useful but make sure you don't spend too much on a unit, Keep them cheap so if they break you don't lose much.  In fact name one peasant Bob and challenge your foe to kill him.

As for damage output there are 2 formations I recommend.  The first is 7 wide, the second is full blown horde. At 5 deep this is 35 and 50 M@A respectively.    The first formation grants you an impressive 14 attacks to the front because just about every unit will be frontage 5 and the extra attacks from being frontage 7 instead of 5 helps counter the poor weapon skill.  It has a wound absorption of 21 before attacks are lost.  22 before they have no ranks.  This I find to be a cheap but effective unit that is more designed for direct damage.  It works great for supporting your flanks or even throwing it in to bail out knight units.  I consider it a great unit to work as your reserves.  This plays perfectly into the fact that they are slower.  By the time they catch up they're needed.  This plays into more aggressive strategies very well.  If you are playing defensive you could also keep them in the flank and act like they will flank any enemies that charge.

As for the other formation, horde, it certainly is not practical to consider flanking.  This unit packs a whopping 30 attacks against a frontage of 8 or more.  It has a wound absorption of 20 before attacks are lost and 35 before all ranks are lost.  And even if you suffer down to there you can reform to absorb even more.  The extra attacks from a large frontage are often lost since you usually should not be fighting a horde, but you do gain an extra 7 swings on average.  Decent.  And if they decided to field frontage 7 wide for the previous reasons I mentioned... You get 27 swings to their 14.  This is ideal for destroying enemy units, almost double the attacks received.  The benefit of this formation is you often can out muscle non-horde infantry provided that they do not have a WS5 or higher.  Since the unit tends to be unwieldy again deployment is key. Get them where you need them and keep them there.  This is a unit that I tend to keep near the middle for leadership purposes, as well late game damage.

Another great use for them is in late game enemy units should be weakened enough that even elite units with powerful characters will not be able to break the large unit which will often be untouched.  Even enemy hordes are fightable if you've dropped a couple rocks into the middle of their lines.  What this means is that while your knights are great early turn fighters before they've lost enough wounds to neutralize them, your peasants are excellent late game fighters where they can capitalize on enemy units that have lost too many wounds.  There have been many times where things look bleak until my M@A hit and then the day swings in my favor.  Keep them near the enemy but don't commit them unless you need them to grind the enemy down, are capable of doing just that and the enemy won't annihilate them.

It is unlikely that the M@A will draw a lot of fire with knights still on the table and if they do, well your knights are not getting shot at.  Still a key thing about the M@A is the ability to take wounds.  As such anything that can be done to improve it late game when they reach combat helps.  Stat boosts are especially effective, but perhaps the easiest thing is to give them the blessing.  This is done by adding a damsel with the prayer icon to a unit. This improves the units survivability by a lot.  Which leads me to comment on the effectiveness of a damsel in a M@A unit.

She won't be killed by shooting of course and most magic won't touch her.  But compare this to a damsel in a knight unit.  If the damsel miscasts in knights it could kill a full 8 models in base to base which is most of the unit.  If she miscasts in a unit of M@A if she is correctly placed on a corner the damage is 3 peasants in base to base, 8 if it's the template and who cares if they all die?  This lets you cast with less fear of a miscast, it causes much less damage to your units.  With magic being as powerful as it is being able to try and get an irresistible force can be a powerful tactic.  More on this in the Damsel section.

If they have the blessing then this becomes a legitimate combat unit, at full strength capable of fighting just about every unit out there.  I highly recommend getting them stuck in with units that are packing great weapons.  Several monsters also suffer against the M@A with the blessing though peasants are stomped and thunderstomped good and dead.  For the most part though they just become better at what they did before just don't overextend them.  Though they do become better at holding the line.

How I run them: 50 strong. Banner, musician, damsel to give them the blessing and to miscast for pure damage.

What are they good for?  Supporting charges, late game heroics, taking hits, wearing down foes.

What are they ok at?  Combined charges, Stopping charges.

What are they bad at? fighting bigger hordes, fighting high WS things.

 

Peasant Bowmen (PB) The Blind Hedgehogs... Yes, that's what I name my unit.

Bretonnina has its primary fire support provided by these guys. Surprisingly cheap, they come with the range but lack power to crush many targets.  I'll cover their target priority in the shooting section.  If you take a unit of these, go into the battle and expect them to kill nothing.  Through sheer kills they seldom will earn their points back but that doesn't mean that they are not worth taking.

It used to be just a gimmick and in many ways it still is but defensive stakes have now turned out to be much more useful than at first thought.  They count as a fence according to our FAQ.  This means that the bowmen have deployed soft cover for themselves and units behind them.  In essence... This means that any unit shooting at peasant bowmen has a -1 to hit.  Let me explain what that means a bit more. Elves shooting at Peasant bowmen basically have the same BS. In fact the average BS 3 model will only hit on 6's if you keep them at long range.  Combine this with the overall cheapness of the unit and they can reliably win most ranged duels.  I don't think I need to mention how much the units behind appreciate the fence too.

It gets better too.  Stakes are still fences, which are obstacles.  Any Cav unit, Monster Cav or Chariot has to take a Dangerous terrain test if they charge our peasants, this could flat out kill a chariot.  And it gets better still!  In the first round of combat enemies suffer a -1 to hit in close combat.  It just means they hit on 4+ due to the poor WS but that's better than nothing.  I personally find the dangerous terrain test is a dramatic deterrent.  Most effective bowmen hunting units are Cavalry 5 wide, they may very well lose a couple models before the fight even starts and for cheap bowmen that's their points back right there.  It also may reduce the damage taken by enough so that the Bowmen may stay in combat that round and are able to be saved in the coming rounds.  Not only that but if you gave them braziers they cause fear in cav as well.

Which brings me to unit size. I have only found 2 sizes to be effective at all: 10ish and 20ish.  I'll talk about the 10 first.  What I mean by 10ish is that you could bump it up to 12 or even 14 if you have a few points floating around.  The principle is that it's two lines of models, just don't make it too big.   Peasant bowmen are the only unit that are effective when bought cheaply.  Take 10 M@A and you can't do anything... but 10 Bowmen on the other hand can still do their job.

The job of the smaller unit is twofold. Fire support is nice but not very damaging.  Where this unit comes into play is as a deployment.  It's a cheap unit that helps you see where your foe will be deploying. In fact I rarely put any upgrades with the smaller units just to make sure they stay really cheap.  Knowing what is where before you get to the power of your army is a wonderful advantage.  And after deployment they still can deal damage with their bows.  I like to deploy these at the far edges of my flanks.

The reason behind that is, most people don't consider them a very great threat.  Rightly so.  But they will either ignore them or have to send far too much after them.  Either situation is a win in my book.  If they are ignored that is 60 points that your opponent didn't kill so just by staying alive the peasants have done their job.  If your foe sends things after them well that's one unit that is not bothering your knights for a few turns.  It also would have to be a considerable force to truly shift the peasants.  A small unit of fast cav won't cut it anymore.  Even if you do lose them it's not a big deal.  They're dirt cheap and unlike the bigger unit they function quite well as a throwaway unit.

As for the big unit it works a bit differently than the small ones.  It is deployed with actual ranks usually 4 deep.  Keep in mind there is nothing stopping it from expanding for more shots if there are no threats.  This unit can still be deployed on the flanks but one thing has changed.  It is now a decent threat. It becomes more likely that units will be sent after them but it also becomes more likely that they can handle it.  You also lose 5 shots a turn when ranked up that wouldn't be lost in two units.  I do recommend a command on this unit, at least a banner.  A unit this size can actually be deployed in the middle of the forces and have a chance of survival.  In essence you have changed the means of survival that the bowmen have.

The smaller units survive because they are not a great threat and are thus ignored.  The bigger unit requires that an actual combat unit be sent after them and if you deployed correctly it will have to get through your powerful knight units.  Not only that but who would bother sending a combat unit after bowmen when there are the knight units around?  Once again the fact that they don't cause much direct damage plays into their favor.  It's just the bigger unit does cause more damage and may attract more attention.

Speaking of attention, keep the big unit near the knights.  The little units are not as critical to keep nearby since they draw less fire. As for actual characters the only one I would even think about recommending for joining the bowmen would be a damsel for many of the same reasons that she would be deployed with M@A.  She works best when deployed with the larger unit since the smaller ones tend to die to quickly and with a damsel they become a valid target.  It is not unheard of for the damsel to grant the blessing to the M@A and then run to the bowmen.  With the bowmen she is surprisingly safer since the unit is trying to avoid combat.  It can be risky to keep your fire support with your magic but it also can work well.

As for deployment this ties into the last option for the bowmen. Skirmish which I would only consider for a small unit. Since the stakes grant you the same defense against shooting why take it at all?  Only 2 reasons.   The first is if you intend to move and shoot.  The second would be if you intend to place them into forests.  In a forest they gain steadfast.  I still counter with "If they're in combat they're dead." So the only real reason would be move and shoot.  Which I find rather useless more often than not.  They already have long range and if there are no targets in range then advancing is quite safe for them.  So I honestly can't recommend having a skirmish unit.

So without skirmish the best places to deploy are in buildings.  They are steadfast in there and have wonderful protection.  The second would be smaller units on the flank angled slightly inwards so they can cover more of the center field.  The benefit being that this position is almost always useful and can be done early on in the deployment stage.  Larger units I recommend more centrally based.  Also a unit in between the Treb and enemy fire support never hurt either.  Since the Treb is taller and can fire over the archers but it is still behind a fence and becomes harder to hit.

How I field them: At least 3 units of 10 no upgrades.

What are they good at? Being ignored. Being Annoying. Seeing Deployments.

What are they ok at? Shooting to remove ranks.  Shooting to cause panic.

What are they bad at? Fighting.  Passing leadership checks because units flee through them.

  


Last Updated ( Friday, 30 September 2011 )
 
Discuss (10 posts)
Unleash the Full Power of Bretonnia. Bret units Oct 16 2011 18:47
This thread discusses the Content article: Unleash the Full Power of Bretonnia. Bret units

hay mate first time posting for me and thanks for the help, i as yet havent played a game of whfb but have 3k pts of brets. at what pts level do you run M@A and bowmen? do you run them from the get go? like your self i can see the use in them but under 2k it looks to me like i should spend the pts else where.

cheers
Re:Unleash the Full Power of Bretonnia. Bret units Oct 16 2011 19:15
As a few people round here will know, I worship bowmen. I always have at least 20-25. However against poorly armored foes ie ogres (I saw you main opponent was going to be ogres) then I take far more, they will always pay you back, men at arms are less useful I find but each to their own.

NB I haven't played ogres in 8th yet

Ingund
Re:Unleash the Full Power of Bretonnia. Bret units Oct 17 2011 15:23
thanks very much ill probably start with two 16 man arhers and fingers crossed
Re:Unleash the Full Power of Bretonnia. Bret units Oct 18 2011 02:43
This article was well done and very informative. Thank you very much!
Re:Unleash the Full Power of Bretonnia. Bret units Oct 30 2011 09:39
SaintVirtue, you are a godsend from the Lady herself. I was so frustrated with my beloved Bretonnians and all your articles have given me great insight into fielding and using them, far more effectively, when I felt utterly screwed by 8th edition armies.
Re:Unleash the Full Power of Bretonnia. Bret units Oct 31 2011 03:52
I'm glad you guys have gotten some use out of my humble tactica. I hope the Lady blesses your games!
Re:Unleash the Full Power of Bretonnia. Bret units Oct 31 2011 14:30
rampantgoat wrote:
This thread discusses the Content article: Unleash the Full Power of Bretonnia. Bret units

hay mate first time posting for me and thanks for the help, i as yet havent played a game of whfb but have 3k pts of brets. at what pts level do you run M@A and bowmen? do you run them from the get go? like your self i can see the use in them but under 2k it looks to me like i should spend the pts else where.

cheers


You will find a great variety. Some players run men at arms at low points (1000 points or less), while others always avoid taking them. Big blocks of men at arms can do something nothing else in our army is capable of: sit in combat, absorb losses, and grind down the enemy.
Re:Unleash the Full Power of Bretonnia. Bret units Nov 30 2011 20:20
Out of curiosity, where in the rules exactly does it say that cavalry are immune to stomps/thunderstomps? I've searched and haven't found anything, though you mentioned it when you spoke of KOTR.
Re:Unleash the Full Power of Bretonnia. Bret units Nov 30 2011 20:25
In the rules for Stomp, on page 76 of the main rulebook, it says that it only affects infantry, war beasts, and swarm units. Cavalry isn't mentioned at all, so they're unaffected, which is really good for us!
Re:Unleash the Full Power of Bretonnia. Bret units Dec 06 2011 19:29
I'm curious about a line from the "Grail Knights" section. It says, "a charge from 9 of them grants you 15, S6 attacks and 7, S3 at WS 5 and Initiative 5." I'm still getting used to 8th edition, so please excuse me if I flubbed the math. Shouldn't it be 14 S6 attacks (7 GKs with 2 attacks each) and then 7 S3,W3 attacks from the warhorses?

If I'm missing something, please let me know.

Thanks,
Sangfroid
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