Friday, December 2, 2022

Why You Should Collect and Play: Ogor Mawtribes

With the release of the new Ogor Mawtribes book I decided I would take a new approach at covering it on my Mengel Miniatures. Since I caught the Ogor bug myself with this release and started my own army of them, I figured why not cover the reasons to collect and paint them?

First off, a big thank you to Games Workshop for sending me both the battletome and the new Bloodpelt Hunter model for review. I actually almost started an army of Ogors with their last release, but lost steam along the way. With this new book though I fully bought into the enthusiasm. To start things off, this cover is amazing. It's a big improvement on the last one and a great throwback to the old 6th edition Army Book, which was their debut in Warhammer. For the rest of this article I'm going to break it down into the lore, the rules, and the models.

The Lore

When it comes to the background lore, the Ogors are a bit more simple in some ways when compared to other factions, and actually a tad bit more complex due to how they were developed. I'll start with the more complex reasons, since it has some "real world" reasons. When AoS first came out, it appeared that the direction GW was going to take was to break down formally larger factions into a bunch of smaller one offs. That's why with Death, which was formally the Vampire Counts, we instead got Flesh-eater Courts, Deathrattle, Nighthaunt, Deadwalkers, Deathmages, and Soulblight. Now all of those keywords still exist, but the Deathrattle, Deadwalkers, Deathmages and Soulblight have been reconstituted as the Soulblight Gravelords. Orruks went a similar route with Bonesplitterz and Ironjawz each having their own unique books before coming back together in Orruk Warclans. Ogors had a similar thing happen. The Ogre Kingdoms got split up in Beastclaw Raiders, Gutbusters, Firebellies, and Maneaters. Out of these, the Beastclaw Raiders got their book first, coming out fairly early in AoS1. This then stayed the only Ogor book until about halfway through AoS2 when we got the Ogor Mawtribes, which brought all the various Ogor parts back together. The "consequence" of this, is that since the Beastclaws were initially supposed to stand on their own, they were given a rather unique identity that bore little resemblance to the overall Ogor cultural aesthetic of previous editions. Where the Gutbusters kept the more traditional Ogor themes, the Beastclaws became a heavily Scandinavian inspired force with their own customs, names, and even language. Their first book was really cool in this regard, since it even showed you some of their runes and unique words they use to talk about themselves. We also got the Everwinter, a really cool, and totally off the wall AoS fantasy element that I love.

Now with Ogor Mawtribes you had the Beastclaws reunite with their Gutbuster brothers. The Gutbusters are very much your traditional Ogors from Warhammer Fantasy. They're all about eating, they worship the Gulping God (the Great Maw reimagined as an aspect of Gorkamorka to tie them into the Destruction pantheon), and are generally raucous rabble rousers. In comparison the Beastclaw Raiders seem more refined and civilized, in my opinion at least. They're essentially two different armies under one roof now. Not so much because of the models, which all go together wonderfully, but because of the route the lore took.

How do you reconcile these two competing elements of Ogor culture? Well, this may be my favorite bit of the lore from the last two iterations of the book. The War of Ice and Gold. On the Gutbuster side of things you have the Meatfist tribe, they're the largest and most powerful of all of the Ogor tribes, including the Beastclaws. To be clear, there are Beastclaws who identify as Meatfist as well. Think of it as a larger tribe absorbing smaller ones, allowing them to retain their customs and some of their individual identity, but having to pay tribute to the larger one. The Meatfist have the biggest fort and are ruled over by an Overtyrant named Globb Glittermaw. On the Beastclaw side you have Ice King Braggoth Varduk, leader of the Boulderhead tribe, or Svard as they call themselves, and a vassal tribe of the Meatfist. Varduk is rather unique in that he actually hails from the Age of Myth, but was frozen in place by the Everwinter catching up to them. When the Age of Sigmar dawned, he was freed from his icy prison due to the Stormcasts' lightning. He then swiftly took control of his tribe again and began to accumulate power and smaller tribes to his banner. Eventually he grew tired of the Meatfist's rule, and launched an attack on the Great Gutfort in a bid to take power as the new Overtyrant. This became the largest civil war in Ogor history. Neither side was able to gain the upper hand, and eventually a truce of sorts was called to stem the blood shed. Varduk renounced all ties to the Meatfist, and burned the blood off his right arm in a cannon, charring it black and giving the Boulderhead their new iconic look. As it stands right now, Varduk and Glittermaw are basically ignoring each other, but are bound to come to blows again. I thought this was not only a really interesting story point, but a great way to tie the two competing cultures together in a thematic, and narrative way. It's like Game of Thrones but with Ogors, so a lot more grunting and belching I'm sure.

Going into a bit more depth with each of these sub-factions, like I mentioned before, the Gutbusters are your "standard" Warhammer Ogors. They're all the ones on foot. They worship Gorkamorka as the Gulping God and their entire culture revolves around eating. Back in the Age of Myth when Gorkamorka was on the Pantheon the Ogors weren't allowed to eat any of the sentient races. As soon as Gorkamorka left the alliance though that dinner bell rang and they turned the Mortal Realms into an all you can eat buffet. 

Now they participate in a migratory ritual called the Mawpath. Most Ogor tribes have some kind of home base, whether that's a giant fortress, a small settlement, or even just a particularly spacious cave system, they all have somewhere to call home. From here they'll depart on a circular path, called the Mawpath, eating everything in their way. This will circle back to their home, where they'll relax, have feasts, etc, before departing on another Mawpath, larger than the last. In this way the continually expand outwards. While the Tyrants are the leaders of the tribes, the Butchers and Slaughtermasters control the direction, and timing of the Mawpaths. They interpret the will of their god, and even the Tyrants will listen to them. 

The majority of the tribe is made up of various Ogors, and they're all served by the Gnoblars, a race of grots who escaped persecution by larger greenskins, and fled to the Ogors for safety. The Ogors find them helpful for day to day life and carrying out more fiddly tasks, and also luckily find them rather disgusting to eat, unless they're particularly hungry. This has led to a nice symbiosis between the two races.

The Beastclaw Raiders are the mounted Ogors, and they're organized into tribes called Alfrostuns. They're perpetually trying to outrun the Everwinter, a magical winter storm that's always chasing them and will freeze solid anything caught in it. While the Ogors would last a little longer, even they would eventually freeze. There are several myths as for the origins of this curse from the depths of time, but whatever the reason, winter is never to far from their heels. The Beastclaws have their own unique culture and dialect. Despite this, you'll often find Beastclaw tribes mixed with Gutbusters and vice versa. A single Mawtribe can contain multiple Gutbuster tribes and Alfrostuns, though sometime the Beastclaws get sent off on their own so as to send the Everwinter away from the rest of them. They also appreciate the cooking of their Gutbuster cousins with the Butchers.

Some of the most interesting units are the more unique ones. For instance, Firebellies are strange priests who worship the Gulping God in a fire aspect. The other Ogors like to keep them around though because they make some of the best spicy food. Then you have the Maneaters. They're Ogors who have hired their services out as mercenaries, and during their travels have picked up some of the clothing and customs of the other races. In fact, Ogors have a long history of being mercenaries. They're always willing to sell their services for the right price, sometimes even entire tribes do this. Worst comes to worst, they can just eat their employers. 

Lastly, we have the Gorgers. These guys may seem like an odd inclusion in the Ogors. What are they? Some random monsters? Nope, they're Ogors themselves, but ones who were born without the prodigious gut of their kin. Shunned at birth they're often abandoned in lightless caves. The strongest survive and hang around the edges of the Ogor camps to eat any scraps. Part of their curse though is that they're always hungry, but can never be satisfied. To become one is one of the worst fears of Ogor kind.

Unlike most races in the Mortal Realms, the Ogors don't influence the "big picture" a whole ton. They don't have any grand political goals, and at best are wary of Kragnos, but respect him all the same. They mostly exist and pursue their own goals, which mostly consist of eating various things. They were involved in the Siege of Excelsis, and a band of mercenary Ogors who turned on their employers was key to the walls getting breached. The Dawnbringer crusades are seen both as an opportunity for more employment as mercenaries, and also a nuisance/nice meal delivered right to them. That isn't to say they won't be major players in the future though. It feels like GW is building Braggoth Varduk up to something bigger, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him take overall control at some point. I'd love for him to get his own model too. They could even just put an add on sprue in with the Stonehorn kit to give it a new rider and maybe a new head.

The Rules

Being one of the latest armies in AoS to get a new book, the rules for the Ogor Mawtribes definitely aren't bad. In fact, they're pretty good! A good overview of them is that they're low model count, high damage, and resilient. If that sounds like your jam then you'll have a good time. The downside to a low model count army is board control, and once you start taking losses, you'll feel them a lot more. A lot of the basics from their last book have stayed, such as all the Ogor models being either hungry or eating. One new addition they got though is the Gulping Bites rules. Previously this as an attack profile on most of the Gutbuster models, now it's just an extra rule where on a 4+ a Gutbusters units does D3 mortal wounds at the end of combat. Keeps it nice and simple and everyone loves mortal wounds. Trampling Charge is pretty much the same, and the Everwinter rule and Might Makes Right are both back as well, except with the addition of heroes counting as 5 models. This rules allows your models to count as more models for the purposes of holding objectives to offset their low numbers. The Stonehorn and Thundertusk both got a unique Monstrous Rampage as well, with the Stonehorn one being particularly good. After you're charge you can now move an additional 3D3 inches across enemy models, as long as you end within combat of enemy models, and do mortal wounds to the units you pass over. It basically gets to bull charge through everything.

All of the command traits and artifacts have been stripped back as is usual for AoS3, with some good choices in most categories. In my opinion, the Butchers have one of the best spell lores in AoS, with almost every spell being worth taking. The Firebellys got a few good spells too, with a really good anti-horde spell. You also have 6 Mawtribes to pick from, which is the same as the last book. They've all been stripped back to make it super simple, which I love. The Meatfist adds 1 to your Trampling Charge rolls and Bloodgullet still lets you know and cast extra spells with your butchers.

The biggest upgrade to the army though came in the form of the warscrolls. Almost everything has been improved. Starting with the core of the Gutbusters, the Gluttons now have 2" reach on their weapons and -1 rend. All Ogors now have at least a 2" reach, which is huge when most of the army is on 40mm bases. That means they can now fight in 2 ranks, even when the Gallatian Veteran rules go away. Rend and accuracy has generally gone up across the board. Even stuff like Gorgers and Maneaters have gotten better. Gorgers now have an ability called Gruesome Devourers, which makes it so enemy units within 9" of him when he's in combat don't get to use Inspiring Presence or Rally. He's a little fragile, but since he can deep strike I would just bring him in later and pair him up with another unit or two to debuff a key enemy unit. Maneaters now also have a special command ability that lets them count as 3 models each. There's a way to make them battleline too if you want to go for a really fun and thematic army build.

I guess this thing called the Ironblaster has gotten really good too. More shots, more damage, more rend, etc. I expect it'll either go up in points soon or get an errata to the rules. I'm a bit disappointed with seeing how many people are jumping on the Ironblaster bandwagon. Please don't try and break the game and make it not fun for your opponent. No one enjoys that. In the end, building and collecting a well balanced force will be more rewarding in the long run. Rules change every edition, but if your army is balanced, or full of the models you think are cool, you'll probably be okay with the changes.

You also have all of the Beastclaw Raider units, so if you want to do a monster mash army with a super low model count you definitely can, and it'll hit super hard too. The Stonehorns and Thundertusks are great in combat and very resilient too. I like that this army gives you several different build styles. You have the basic three, all Beastclaw, all Gutbuster, or a mix of the two. Beyond that though you can specialize even further, by focusing on shooting with Underguts, doing Mournfang heavy with Thunderbellies, or Yhette heavy with Winterbite, or even do a Maneater heavy army. There's a ton of choices that are all thematic, and fairly effective.

I don't want to say this army lack finesse, because you definitely can put some finesse into it, but it's also a fairly straight forward destruction army. Move them forward and smack them with your club. There's elegance in the simplicity. You can also take Kragnos as your warlord and add in the ultimate bonk. Also, who doesn't enjoy having fewer models to carry around, deploy, and move? Speaking of the models...

The Models

I'm not going to lie, a majority of the models for this army are still the original ones from the 6th edition launch, which means they're all nearly 20 years old. Having said that, I think they have held up remarkably well! All of the plastic models from then, which are the Gluttons, Ironguts, and Leadbelchers, are still great, and refreshingly easy to put together compared to most modern models. You have the bodies, shoes, arms, head, hands with weapons, and gut plates. All of this is interchangeable, which makes the whole range a breeze to mix and match. This was carried through to all of the 8th edition plastics, which are the Mournfang riders, Ironblaster, and the Stonehorns. All of the heads and arms on all models can be switched, which allows you to make some pretty cool Ironguts using the Mournfang Rider arms for example.

Of the non-plastic models, the majority of them still have a ton of character, though if you're not used to working with resin there can be a bit of a learning curve. I just finished up a Butcher and I personally think it still looks great (though there's no doubt a plastic update could do something amazing with it). In fact, out of all of the resin models for the army I think the only one that really looks dated and out of place is the Gorger, and maybe the Frost Sabres. Oh, and the Yhetees. Okay, so there's a few, but the majority of them are still good. The Maneaters are some of the most characterful models GW has made, and the Firebelly is just plain awesome though.

Since the release of Age of Sigmar this army has only gotten 4 new models, 2 of which have been for Underworlds. Of the two released exclusively for AoS we got a new Tyrant, and a brand new model in the form of the Bloodpelt Hunter. The Tyrant is a terrific update on the model and fits in pretty well aesthetically with the rest of the range. My only critique is I would like to see him with a bit bigger of a gut. He's a bit more in shape looking compared to the older models, as well as any of the new artwork depicting Tyrants. Even just look at the new cover for the Battletome for example. 

The Bloodpelt Hunter is a pretty nice model, but I'm not going to lie, it's proportions are completely different than every other Ogor model. His head is smaller, his gut is way smaller, and in general his proportions are more that of a large man as opposed to an Ogor. I will say, once painted, he fits in pretty well, but I really hope this isn't the new direction for Ogors. I definitely prefer the old look as it's much more iconic and unique to Warhammer. Having said all that, I still had a great time painting the model.

One of the biggest benefits of collecting this army is the relatively low model count, unless you start adding in units of Gnoblars. You could easily have an entire army with less than 30 models, and if you go the Beastclaw route it could even be less than 10. They're also fairly quick to paint up and quite forgiving too. I'm really excited to get my lot painted up for Adepticon, and I don't even feel too stressed about the time commitment. Also, in my opinion, they have one of the absolute coolest faction terrain pieces in the form of the Mawpot. It's just so thematic and cool looking.

As you might be able to tell, I'm rather excited about my Ogor army. The mix of lore, rules, and models just hits that sweet spot for me and has me on the Mawpath. What do you think about the Ogor Mawtribes? Do you hear the call of the Gulping God too?

Until next time,

Tyler M.

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