The Ghar force selectors at 500 points are limited to four (4) units in total: 2-3 tactical and one auxiliary. That doesn’t leave much in the way of options as the most expensive auxiliary unit takes up 30 points after upgrades. Which leaves three units for 470 points, one of which has to be a Ghar Battle Squad (184 minimum).

For the budding Ghar commander, this is a difficult choice.

As a useful reference, David Horobin has a number of Ghar army lists and admits he’s a list geek. There’s also a thread on the Warlord Antares Forum that lists some gotchas and tricks with Ghar. However, rather than point outside it might be worth sharing some of my own experience with Ghar.

Ten rules

Ten key things to realise as a budding Ghar Commander are:

  1. You are not commanding an Outcast Rebel army – ignore any advice based on the Outcast Rebel army as the two lists are totally different;
  2. You will almost always be out-diced by your opposition, especially late in the game;
  3. You will almost always be slower by your opposition;
  4. For your core troops, terrain is useful only as an line-of-sight blocker between you and your enemy (only Outcasts can cope with it);
  5. Pin-giving units are a pain;
  6. Designating a unit as a Distort Dump (one that can regularly receive the distort dice without upsetting your battle plan) is vital;
  7. Use Plasma Amplifiers – that extra MOD dice is soooo useful;
  8. Scramble Proof is excellent (the Subverter Matrix is really annoying to the high-tech armies);
  9. Disruptors are more useful than you might think; and
  10. Tectorists are like gold dust.

Given these, that mandatory Battle Suit squad I mentioned comes in at 224 points. With at least a basic unit of tectorists, thats 244, meaning you have to find 256 points from somewhere.

(Why 10 Rules? Because it’s the number to do, and its fun. There may well be a few more, but this 10 are almost certainly the most important.)

The Outcast option

Sometimes Outcast squads are mentioned as saving graces. But let’s cost them out and see. The basic squad of outcasts is 43 points for 6 outcasts. Adding another 6 costs bumps it up to 73 and adding a disruptor cannon with crew takes the cost up to 97. You could add a Leader 2, to make it 107, and you might consider plasma grenades – though the benefit compared with dual-firing lugger guns is probably not worth it: all your Ghar will get is +1 in hand-to-hand combat and a marginal SV bonus at close range.

So, even maxed out, that’s 214 points – we’re 42 points shy. Sure, we could spend 10 more on two tectorists, add in a Leader 2 to the Battle suit unit, and buy a couple of army options (Get up!, perhaps, or Block!). This gives a three-strong, ‘tough’ squad (1-2 dice), tectorists (1 dice), and two numerous, but fragile roadbumps (2 dice): four units, 4-5 dice.

Roadbumps? Yeah. The Outcasts have a Res of 4 and a Str of 3. In hand-to-hand they will struggle, badly, and will tend to lose an exchange of fire. The Outcasts only advantage is their numbers and the disruptor cannon. Whilst they will last a few turns, especially in placed in protective terrain, that Res is waaaay down on most other units in the game.

Further, the problem with having 14 Outcasts in a squad (one of which will be on the 40mm disruptor cannon) is finding a place where they can all fire without attracting attention. The need for uninterupted fire lanes means that very rarely can a maxed-out squad of Outcasts all fire at once. At least, not if your playing the terrain rules correctly.

Another problem with this setup is that the ‘Distort Dump’ unit is almost always going to be the tectorists. Sure, you can allow the Outcasts to go down, but that’s a third of your weaponised troops out.

The Mega-suit approach

Given the above, it seems we might have to look at the suits. I tend to see the minimum squad as 224 points: the basic three troopers with Plasma Amplifiers and a Leader 2. It’s often not worth upgrading the leader any higher as the allocation system spreads hits around the unit anyway.

The trouble is, a five strong unit is really powerful but will soak up a lot of points and will also attract a lot of firepower, especially Net ammo or pin-giving weapons  such as plasma lances or light support weapons. Given the units cost is 364 points (no dump), it means that only a little over 100 points can be spent on other options, most effectively perhaps an 11-strong  Outcast squad with Disruptor Cannon plus a separate Disruptor Cannon unit (you can only take one on its own unless you take a comand unit).

Such a configuration means 4-5 dice again and has real advantage of using the little Disruptor Cannon unit as a Distort Dump. Sure, it has a really tough main squad, but the speedbumps Outcasts and Disruptor cannon make it very vulnerable to dice shortage quickly, especially if the Distort Dump squad cannot find suitable terrain in/behind which it can hide.

Sure, it’s fun though: imagine the look on your oponents face when the five-strong unit of Ghar troopers comes trundling round an outcrop and lays down 15 SV2 shots with its scourer cannon. Or, perhaps worse, lays down 5 SV4 shots on a C3D2 or unit of M1s.

Learning lessons

The good thing is that both the above options have given us some good and bad options. The main lesson to learn is that the 24-point Disruptor Cannon team is a good investment as a Distort Dump: it is cheap, can be tucked away somewhere (just two crew) but if the opponent does get the dice, the disruptor cannon has a good chance of laying a few pins on your opponent or – really importantly – taking out their spotter or batter drones.

Dronicide? Absolutely. Whilst it may be tempting to take out a single figure on your opponent, often taking out a spotter or batter drone is a more useful option. Your opponent still takes two pins (ouch) but now has their protection or firing options frustratingly limited.

So, this gives us a solid core of a 3-strong battle squad (224) plus tectorists (20 or 30) plus the Distort Dump Disruptor team. This totals 268 points and gives us 3-4 dice. It’s this that is really the core of a Ghar, 500 point army. With the remaining 232 points we can now play around.

The trouble is, again, we can only select a single tactical option. Whilst adding a suit or two to the single, main Battle Suit squad may seem tempting, we pretty quickly come back to the Mega-suit option we explored above: fun, but fundamentally risky (see what I did there?).

The obvious solution is to add another Battle or Assault Suit squad, giving you two strike units and 4-6 dice, which is very nice and early on in the game removes the Ghar’s dice disadvantage. We could play around with Plasma Dumps instead of a Leader 2 on one of the two suit squads, but irrespective of such fine details we have two units our opponent cannotignore.

A few final words

Of course, the optimum mix and selection may not be the above because of the constraints of terrain or scenario: only you can tell. However, the core units are pretty much decided for us by the deliberately limited force selector options: it forces Ghar players to take suits.

This is very much in flavour with the faction, however: Outcast Rebels have loads of cheap bodies; the Ghar Empire have the resources, supplies and traditions to serve and keep suits in the field. If, as a player, you prefer lots of units with cheap, perhaps vulnerable but occasionally gutsy squads, they go Outcast Rebel. On the other hand, if you prefer an army that has focussed firepower, is very different and you enjoy the gaming challenge of finessing such an awkward force, then go Ghar Empire.

It is worth saying that, despite having a number of different BtGoA armies of 2000 points or more, the Ghar are still my favourites.

Go Shaltok!