AoS Tactics: Latest Free Peoples Tactics

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Hey everyone, Reecius here to discuss the lessons I’ve learned playing with my Free Peoples’ army in Age of Sigmar! Check the Tactics Corner for more great information.

The Free Peoples used to be what makes up the Empire in Warhammer Fantasy, and you probably heard me make fun of them endlessly on the podcast over the years for looking so funny, but for some reason in the context of Age of Sigmar where the setting takes place in a multiverse filled with immortal gods, daemons, monsters and gun-slinging techno-dwarves (er, I mean Duardin!) the idea of some regular humans going out to earn their place in a hostile universe dressed in pantaloons armed with nothing but sharp sticks and a bad ass attitude really appealed to me.

First of all, I have to say that I have LOVED playing these little buggers. The army is a ton of fun to put on the table and it is all about synergy, which is my favorite way to play any tabletop game.

Individually, these units are super flimsy with fairly poor stats across the board. However, they lend themselves very well to being played as a shooting  horde army which is quite good in AoS. They also have a ton of interactions between your units which is another key part of making a good army in this game.

My latest list has moved away form using a Battalion as I have in the past to simply accepting I will more often than not lose first turn initiative but packing insane firepower.

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Current list:

  • Freeguild General on mount with banner, Phoenix Stone and Inspiring.
  • Celestial Hurricanum with Mage
  • Freeguild Swordsmen x 20
  • Freeguild Crossbowmen x 30
  • Freeguild Handgunners x 20
  • Freeguild Handgunners x 20
  • Helstorm Rocket Battery
  • Helstorm Rocket Battery
  • Helstorm Rocket Battery
  • Empire Cannon (still a little confusion on if this Warscroll is valid, but easily swapped out with yet another Helstorm if not!)

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So, obviously lots of shooting. Pretty savage firepower and I can often destroy most key units in one volley. The Swordsmen with Mystic Shield have a 3+ save in melee, rerolling 1’s which is very good defense in AoS. For 8pts per model that is some awesome defense. Other than that, though, they’re really bad, lol. However, a good screening unit in AoS is critical to success for an army like mine. 20 is the lowest I have found to get the job done. However, at 20 you don’t have to worry about Battleshock as much, either. I have found in this game that if you take enough casualties for it to really matter, a 20 man unit is often dead or wounded to the point of being nearly useless, anyway. Their banner plus the Freeguild General do give them four chances to roll a 1 and ignore Battleshock entirely though, which you will pass more often than not.

The artillery units are just murder! So dang good but they are quite vulnerable to units that can pick them off form range (the Stardrake especially is just murder to them). Deployment with them is very important. You really want to protect them to get as many turns of firepower out of them as possible. If I get first turn, I sometimes deploy them very aggressively to try and alpha strike an important enemy unit but typically it is better to deploy them conservatively.

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The Freeguild Crossbowmen and Handgunners though, are the real killers. Free People having shooting units as Battleline is awesome! One of their best characteristics for sure. And these are excellent shooting units. They’re paper thin, with only a 6+ save and low bravery, but they pack a wallop! The ability to increase their shots to 2 per man with Crossbowmen, or wounding on a 3+ with rend -1 on the Handgunners makes them so vicious. Plus, and the real benefit, is the ability to buff them up to a 2+ to hit through a combination of the Freeguild Genera’s command ability (+1 to hit and wound for 3 Free Peoples units) and the Celestial Hurricanum is amazing.

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If you’ve read my Free Peoples’ articles in the past, or played the game much, you know the Hurricanum is one of the best units in the game. Probably a bit too good to be honest, lol. It was two mortal wound attacks and buffs both casting and attacks of nearby units. So ridiculously powerful. IMO, for what it’s worth, he should have to roll to hit with his Storm of Portents of Battle ability should only work on Human units, but that’s just me. In the meantime, he is incredibly good and the ability to deal mortal wounds helps to deal with the truly nasty things that get too close to me.

In two list formats (which I am quickly coming to prefer in AoS) where you have a 500pt difference between the two lists you can plan in a game, I swap out some of the artillery units which are mega vulnerable against some opponents and 10 Hangunners for Karl Franz, to buff my army and provide some savage melee ability! Plus, he helps a ton in 3 places of power, too. This also lowers me down to 7 drops, increasing my odds of getting that first choice for initiative.

And there you have it! It’s a fun, powerful army and I have had very good success with it, defeating some of the best net lists out there. But, I certainly don’t always win, I have lost a couple of tough games but never felt overpowered or outclassed. What have been your winning tactics with Free Peoples?

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About Reecius

The fearless leader of the intrepid group of gamers gone retailers at Frontline Gaming!

14 Responses to “AoS Tactics: Latest Free Peoples Tactics”

  1. Novastar April 18, 2017 7:15 pm
    #

    You forgot how awesome they make as basing decorations

  2. DustyK
    DustyK April 19, 2017 4:50 am
    #

    I actually put together a list recently of free people myself. Mostly because I always hear how terrible the cavalry units are, so I wanted to make a list focusing on the cavalry. I played it once so far and it was an absolute blast! Here is what I had:

    Heroes
    -Free Guild General on Griffon (Sigmarite Greathammer, Legendary Fighter, Obstinate Blade)
    -Free Guild General on Horse (Great Weapon)
    -Bretonian Lord (on pegasus)
    -The Fay Enchantress

    Battleline
    -Handgunners x 3

    Artillery
    -Field Trebuchet

    Other
    -Grail Knights
    -Grail Knights
    -Pegasus Knights
    -Pegasus Knights

    This list was so much fun to play. The cavalry are all so fast, and the pegasus knights having both a 16″ FLYING MOVEMENT and charging using 4d6 and picking the best two, makes them very easy to get into combat, in fact I had them in combat against some dwarf cannons bottom of turn 1.

    The Fay Enchantress’s spell gives +1 to hit or +2 if they are noble (both knight units are in fact noble!). Giving that to the Grail Knights who have a 3+/4+/-1/1 with 2 attacks that get bumped to 3+/3+/-1/2 on the charge gives them some serious damage output. Oh did I mention these guys charge with 3d6 and choose the two highest? That’s also after a 10″ movement!

    While this list isn’t dirty and would likely get stomped by the likes of Lord of Change/Archaon, or the destruction mix, it’s a really fun way to play a friendly local game.

    Not to mention all the fun lore stuff you can do with them. I personally hate the Stormcast (because we have a lot of them playing and they are so damn good!) so my free people also hat the Stormcast, so much so that (in the story) when Sigmar sent them to get things in order, my free people kicked they ass back to the celestial realm. I even had my general on a griffon steal a greathammer from a lord celestaint XD

    • Reecius
      Reecius April 19, 2017 8:14 am
      #

      That looks like a lot of fun! I have heard nothing but good things about Grail Knights. Gah, I wish Demi-gryph Knights were good…

      And i love your backstory, hahaha, that makes building an army a lot more enjoyable.

      • DustyK
        DustyK April 19, 2017 9:14 am
        #

        Surprisingly the Grail Knights were the MVPs of my game. They can dish out serious damage if you put them in a good spot. Also they get to reroll hits as long as you have a chalice and raise it proclaiming “For the Lady!”

        One unit of them with the Fay Enchantress buff was able to take out a Fyreslayer Runeson on Magmadroth in only two combat phases, only losing one guy in the process.

        However they aren’t going to be the kings of the LVO anytime soon. If you are looking to play against someone new or just a for fun game then it’s a good way to play and both people have fun 😀

        • Reecius
          Reecius April 19, 2017 9:28 am
          #

          Yeah, that sounds awesome! I want some good cavalry units but as stated, the Demigryph Knights are just not getting it done. They need a boost big time. I have some Empire Knights, I could use them as Grail Knights to fit in with the Aesthetic.

          But, I do have to say, I have had really good results with Pistoliers, too.

          • DustyK
            DustyK April 19, 2017 9:48 am
            #

            I think what cavalry in general really need is some kind of manipulation of charging. Most of the cavalry seem to be designed as shock cavalry.

            In Total Warhammer, that’s easy, charge, run out, charge. Maybe if they add a “Hit and Run” type mechanic from 40k to the cavalry designed this way they would prove to be more effective.

          • Reecius
            Reecius April 19, 2017 9:58 am
            #

            Yeah, agreed. In general terms cavalry units in AoS just don’t hit that hard.

          • AbusePuppy April 19, 2017 7:10 pm
            #

            My poor, poor Saurus Knights are weeping in their case. 🙁

          • Reecius
            Reecius April 19, 2017 8:56 pm
            #

            Lol, too true. I think they were balancing them against equal wounds of infantry but that just doesn’t translate well, IMO. Cavalry should be scary, and in most cases now, they simply suck.

  3. James April 19, 2017 11:12 am
    #

    Love the newer list! Switching from halberdiers to swordsmen is great, having two 20man units of handgunners is brutal, and you know my position on hellstorm rockets: Those things are INSANEly devestating. Love it! Well, from the perspective of reading it. Playing against it would be a different story…

    • Reecius
      Reecius April 19, 2017 11:36 am
      #

      Oh yeah, this is a competition list for sure. I wouldn’t bring it to a friendly game unless my opponent specified they wanted to play a tournament practice game.

      But yeah, every unit in the list is an all-star.

      • James April 19, 2017 3:09 pm
        #

        Great list for sure.
        However, the article was more just talking about your list specifically. Nothing against that(It’s great to see solid lists dissected), but would you maybe write an article in the future about general Free Peoples tactics? General army composition would definitely be an element, but not necessarily focused on your list.

        • Reecius
          Reecius April 19, 2017 3:11 pm
          #

          Good point. This was actually more strategy with some tactics talk. I can do some basic tactics with it for sure.