In my last article I said that this week I would discuss my invalidated Age of Sigmar tournament list, and changes that I am considering due to the release of the General’s Handbook 2019. But I’ve decided that the arrival of Gotrek Gurnisson to the scene (he appeared in multiple lists at the 81 player Facehammer GT over the weekend) is enough to push that topic out another week.
Gotrek is a relic from the Old World, thousands of years old, and avatar of the duardin god Grimnir. The lore sets lofty expectations for Gotrek, and at first glance he seems to live up to the hype. (Note: I have not actually had a chance to field Gotrek in a game, but I plan to rectify that soon.)
- Wounds: 8
- Move: 4″
- Save: 4+
- Bravery: 10
- Range: 1″
- Attacks: 6
- To Hit: 3+
- To Wound: 3+
- Rend: -2
- Damage: 3
His stat line and weapon are good, but not earth shattering, especially when you consider that he will cost you slightly greater than a quarter of your points in a standard 2000 point game. But it is his abilities that really move the needle.
- Avatar of Grimnir: This ability reduces damage characteristics that would normally inflict multiple wounds on Gotrek to one, this applies to attacks, spells, and abilities. It also changes spell and ability affects that would normally slay a model to instead inflict a single mortal wound. The downside to this ability is that Gotrek may not be deployed in reserve and he cannot be affected by spells or abilities that would allow him to be set up again after the battle has begun (no teleportation spells, etc.).
- Krag Blackhammer’s Master Rune: Allows Gotrek to reroll all hit and wound rolls, and all unmodified hit rolls of six inflict D6 moral wounds in addition to normal damage.
- Unstoppable Battle Fury: Gotrek is able to fight again at the end of the combat phase if he is within 3″ of an enemy unit.
- Shoulder Plate of Edassa: Additional 3+ roll to ignore any wound or mortal wound inflicted on Gotrek.
When all of these abilities are applied to Gotrek, he becomes a melee beast. He is able to put out a high volume of quality re-rollable attacks that have mortal wound potential. He is also able to withstand a large amount of punishment with a decent save, a 3+ to ignore damage, an awesome ability that reduces damage dealt to him, and a relatively small base that will make it difficult for many models to get into range to strike him back in the combat phase. His obvious Achilles heel is his 4″ movement characteristic.
In addition to everything listed above, Gotrek is also allowed to be included in any Grand Alliance Order army list as an ally, and is allowed to exceed the normal ally point limit. But just how does one use him effectively in competitive play?
I think the best use for Gotrek is as a bully unit to deny a portion of the board to your opponent. He is slow, it might take multiple turns to get him into combat, but there are few units that any opponent will want to move or place within his threat range (especially expensive melee units that rely on a low number of high quality attacks to do work). He will also excel in any scenario where only models with the hero keyword can claim objectives.
There will likely be many games where Gotrek runs on turns one and/or two in order to get into a better position, meaning he won’t be fighting right away. One way to get him into combat faster is by casting the Chronomatic Cogs endless spell, which can add 2″ to run and charge distances to all units on the table.
Another potential way to buff him is to ally him with Idoneth Deepkin, specifically Ionrach enclave. The command trait for this enclave allows all allied units to be able to utilize the Tides of Death allegiance abilities, which would prove very useful for Gotrek. (Turn one he would gain +1 to his save, turn two he would run and charge, turn three he would fight at the start of the combat phase, turn four he could retreat and charge, turn five repeat.) There is probably a very clever Deepkin list out there somewhere that can make the most of him.
While Gotrek certainly appears to be a potential game changing inclusion in any Order army, there are definitely ways to deal with him.
The first counter is to simply ignore him. In any game where the objectives are spaced out, you should be able to spread your army out enough to not allow an opponent to chain attack Gotrek through your lines while you play for points. Another strategy would be to feed him smaller units that you don’t mind losing, especially if said units can be summoned back (Death and Chaos), while you again play the objectives.
Any army that has ways to quickly move around the board should also be a decent counter to Gotrek. Sylvaneth jumping through Wyldwoods, Skaven escaping through Gnawholes, and Seraphon blinking in and out of reality are a few that come to mind.
If you really want to kill Gotrek, your best bet is high volume shooting, especially if the shooting has any rend or an ability to deal single mortal wounds (Kharadron Overlords, Freeguild Handgunners, Celestar Ballistas, etc.), anything to negatively affect or skip his initial saving throw. If your army doesn’t have access to that type of shooting then apply the same thumb rules to melee. Units like Grave Guard, Daemonettes, and Orruk Brutes should be able to sneak some damage through, just understand that Gotrek’s return swing(s) will be devastating (do what you can to pull casualties in such a way to not allow him to fight a second time).
It is too soon to really know how Gotrek will affect the competitive AoS meta. That being said, he is a model that I would expect to see on the table top, which in turn means one more thing to think about when list building for a tournament.
Have you seen any other combos for using or countering Gotrek effectively? Let me know below.
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