Part Five – Legionnaires
Center-stage is a series of articles spotlighting a particular model or unit in Godslayer. This article takes a look at the iconic Mortan unit of Legionnaires, a unit which embodies the militaristic nature of the Mortan culture.
The steel-booted behemoth known as the Legions is composed of career soldiers who are well-equipped and thoroughly trained professionals paid for their bloody work. The mainstay of the Legions is the regular Legionnaire, who is used for every conceivable dirty, dark and dangerous job the empire needs doing. Such assignments include pitched battles against terrifying monsters, making suicidal frontal assaults on fortifications, patrolling unstable borders, garrisoning outposts at the edge of civilization, policing occupied cities, torturing spies and performing random executions to quash revolts. Legionnaires can be proud that their dedicated service expanding the Empire is another step taken towards saving mankind.
For poor Mortans, the hardship of the Legions presents an attractive alternative to starvation, and upon completion of a twenty-year career, they muster out with citizenship, a pension, and a land-grant in a newly conquered territory. Being a legionnaire is more than just being a soldier; these men form bonds of brotherhood during their ordeal and are pledged to aid each other survive in the turmoil that is life on Calydorn even after mustering out.
The standard Legionnaire is armed with gladius (short sword) for close-quarter fighting and pilums (throwing spears), which are hurled during assaults. Legionnaires enjoy effective protection from blows due to their banded armor of lorica segmentata and large scutum shields. A soul-stone, called a Lapis Manali is carried by every Mortan soldier on a chain around his neck; these house and protect the Mortan’s soul when he dies, representing every legionnaire’s ultimate safeguard. The stones of the fallen are collected by the cohort Soul Wardens and taken to the caves of Lamentation beneath Mount Ashgod, to await the prophesied day of resurrection.
Due to the immense size of the empire, Legionnaires routinely suffer deployment in extreme climates, from the icy forests bordering the northern Skannfyrd to the humid rain-forest of Trans-Cephalos, and from the deserts of Pancephalos to the mountains and prairie of Annyrion. In whatever barbaric cesspool or urban hellhole the empire places a standard, Legionnaires must be present to defend it.
The first point of note is that Legionnaires are part of the Mortan Legions sub-faction, and are heavy infantry models. With a DPL of 4, it is possible to deploy up to four units of Legionnaires in a warband up to 499 points, each unit containing 4-8 models.
A quick look at their profile will give us an overview.
MOV 3 – This is normal humanoid movement value.
MEL 6 – This is the level for professional soldiers, better than most other basic units of other factions.
MIS 5 – Indicates some basic training in missile attacks.
MAG 3 – Average for unit models
DEF 13 – Above average. Without their shields, they have a basic DEF of 12, which does not indicate poor defensive training, rather it reflects their lack of maneuverability dues to heavy armor and shield.
ARM 9 – This is perhaps their greatest advantage being 2 points above average.
LEAD 8 – Above average for regular units.
ACT 4 – Standard for normal troops.
These are decent stats for a basic unit - clearly the Legionnaires have good melee skill and fantastic armor with average defense and some missile ability.
Abilities and Tactics etc.
Gladius – Range 1, POW 2. The Gladius is pretty inferior in terms of power, but remember that you will usually be fighting with a fighting style bonus, and you have a MEL of 6, which is good against average DEF13 models (7’s to hit). Therefore you should usually chose the “powerful” fighting style to give you +1 POW.
– As with all models which have their equipment listed on their card, the benefits of the Scutum shield are already calculated into their DEF of 13 and ARM of 9, providing DEF1 and ARM2.
– As heavy infantry, Legionnaires have an exhaustion limit of 3, meaning they can make up to three movement actions per round, giving them a total movement of 9 inches per turn. This means they are going to be arriving to the battle behind most of your other models and will be slow at capturing scenario objectives. This restricted movement does not have to be a big problem if you work with it. For example, if you force the enemy to come to you, then it doesn’t matter how fast you move, (by deploying war-machines behind your Legionnaires). Your Legionnaires will certainly be less maneuverably but if you play to their strengths, then this does not matter. Don’t be tempted to rush around and worry about the movement of the enemy warband; just be methodical and position your troops in a good defensive position, and keep the models in base contact so that you can easily put them in Testudo
without having to reposition them first. And don’t worry about faster models with long-charges – they are fast and have long-charges to compensate for their lack of armor, which is your strength!
– this classic tactic turns your already tough cookies into a wall of steel. A defensive formation of locked shields covering front, back, flanks and heads. For 2 ACT, each Legionnaire gains +2 DEF and +2 ARM against melee and missile attacks as long as he is in base contact with at least one other Legionnaire of his unit in Testudo
. This is a fantastic bonus, buffing your Legionnaires to DEF15, ARM11, which is incredible for a model costing 12 points! Even elites like Cromlech Guard and Guthackers will struggle to inflict casualties on a Testudo
cannot be performed in a turn the Legionnaires charged, so Testudo
is a defensive-only tactic. While in Testudo, the Legionnaires cannot benefit from a fighting style, may not charge and may not perform counter attacks. Note that it forbids counter-attacks, not regular attacks in your standard activation. In fact this is not a problem because it improves your armor, and so Testudo
will mean few of your models are killed during a round when they are charged or attacked. So it make sense to wait until your own activation to fight, when you can benefit from buffs from other models.
– This is their other tactic and one you will probably use less often, but also very cool. During a charge, the Legionnaires launch a volley of pilums at their enemy in order to cripple, kill or at least hinder them prior to engagement. It costs 1 ACT, so before using it you should give the Legionnaires an extra ACT from your Warlord, otherwise don’t bother, since it will prevent you making a regular MEL attack. Since your MEL is better than your MIS, you will anyway have better chances to hit in melee. So it’s a great bonus to be used if you assign them an extra action token from your warlord. Pilum Assault
give you a POW2 missile attack against the models they charge. This attack is completely resolved before any charge attacks are applied. In addition, enemy models hit by a pilum assault
attack lose their shield bonus for this round! This is a fantastic advantage since it effectively improves the Legionnaires MEL and POW against those models. Imagine Legionnaires assaulting and then fighting a unit of Hoplites, even if you just hit a Hoplite with a pilum, and do not even cause damage, he still loses +1 ARM and +2 DEF for the rest of the round, effectively giving you a +1 POW bonus and +2 MEL on top of your charge bonus!
– The Legionnaires gain +1 LEAD for any LEAD-based tests. In addition, the Legionnaires never need to test for performing or receiving a tactic. This is a sub-faction ability and represents how well they perform when part of a legion force. With a LEAD of 8 +1, the Legionnaires will prove exceedingly dependable since this means you will be making fear, horror and bravery tests with an 83.29% probability of success.
Combining Legionnaires with other Models
Several models in the Mortan warband work well with your Legionnaires.
– the Centurion is the clear choice for a Legions sub-faction warband, especially one with lots of Legionnaires. With his ability Centuria Commander the Centurion doubles his LEAD range for ordering tactics to friendly living models to 20 inches. Also consider that because of their sub-faction ability, Legionnaires will not need to test for receiving orders.
Ancestral Pride is a great bonus for Legionnaires in melee since it gives the target model/unit either +1 on melee attack or +1 on melee damage rolls.
Coordinated Charge allows a target friendly model/unit to measure its charge range in any direction. This can be critical during rounds 3 and 4 of most games. It can also be used in a sneaky way to judge distance for something else you want to know that happens to be standing nearby.
– the Princeptor is mostly a one-man killing machine and not a supporting character, but he does have one cool tactic he can order to the Legionnaires - Campaign Veteran. With this the Legionnaires who score a hit with an attack can roll an extra D6 to see if they score a critical hit. Assuming they need 6+ to hit, then they will be hitting on 72.18 Probability. So you will have a 24.17% probability of scoring crits – essentially quarter of all your hits. Since their crits do 2 points direct damage this is a nice little bonus especially considering their low basic POW.
– Although he is best suited to supporting undead models, the Necromagus has 4 awesome spells he can use to buff Legionnaires, so it is well worth taking one along in a Legions warband:
– gives Defiant in Death
, allowing your Legionnaires to be removed at the end of the round. This is particularly useful for legionnaires in Testudo
, since they are not allowed to make counter-attacks. Therefore with Defiant in Death, they survive long enough to be activated with your normal activation and to make their attacks before dying.
– gives +1 to damage rolls. This is simple but awesome. Use it at every opportunity!!!!
Foul Wind causes -1 to enemy MEL, MIS, and MAG within 1 inch of the unit. Cast this on Legionnaires in Testudo and you effectively increase their DEF to 16!
– Try to cast this spell on the front models of a unit in Testudo and have a small unit of Legio Mortum behind (be sure they are in LOS). The enemy faces the immense DEF and ARM of the Legionnaires, and any damage they do inflict gets transferred to the Legio Mortum because of the spell. Because of the Legio Mortum’s ability Invulnerable, any model not destroyed gets its life-points re-set to full at the end of the round! If any Legio Mortum are destroyed, just awaken them again with the spell Raise Legionnaires. In this way you can make your legionnaires almost immune to damage!
• Praetorian Carnifexer
– in a warband composed mostly of Carnifexors you can use a few Legionnaires to absorb the initial charge of the opposing warband, since any destroyed models will cost you 10 points less than a destroyed Carnifexor. In a warband composed of more legionnaires, a small unit of 3 Carnifexors is a great hammer to use against the hardest enemy models.
• Xisteri Bombers
- Legionnaires are perfect to protect the vulnerable bombers from melee and missile attacks. Hide them behind a wall of steel, move once and throw their bombs, then hide again with their Skirmish Order tactic. This way you can weaken the enemy then destroy them with a hard strike.
• Libarum Technocrat
– He is also a useful warlord with his tactic Carborane Concentrate, effectively improving the POW of the legionnaires by 2 points plus 1 point direct damage!
Putting it all Together
The Shooty Plan
This one works well with maximum war-machines plus some Xisteri Bombers and a Technocrat Warlord. For best results add small units of Carnifexors or Molochs.
Place your Legionnaires in front of your war-machines and Xisteri Bombers. You should be able to get everything inside the rear 10-12 inches of your table side. Put the Molochs/Carnifexors on the flanks and slightly behind. Let the enemy advance across the table for a few turns, sustaining relentless punishment from your war-machines and missile troops.
Most models can move up to 12 inches per turn, while Dwarves can move around 8 and Banebrood will be moving up to 20 inches per turn. They will have a deployment zone of 8 inches, and so will need to traverse around 30 inches to reach your battle-line. So average warbands will be in position to engage or charge your battle-line on turn-4. During the first 3 turns your Technocrat will be best used giving action tokens and tactics to the war-machines. But once the enemy turns up on your door-step, he should instead be assigning action tokens to your melee units.
If the enemy warband foolishly comes within charge range of your Legionnaires, then use Assault and charge! Most likely it is your Legionnaires who will be charged, so be sure to put them in Testudo
as the enemy comes close. When the enemy charges you they will be facing a DEF15, ARM11 wall of steel. Let them smash themselves upon your Testudo
, remembering that you may not counter-attack while in Testudo
After the first impacts activate your Libarum Technocrat, assign ACT's to the melee units and use his tactic Carborane Concentrate
to give your Legionnaires (and Carnifexors) Acid
. This causes enemies to suffer -2 ARM and 1 point direct damage. Now activate your Legionnaires and make two attacks with their 4 ACT, benefitting from fighting styles. If the enemy his really good armor, consider using Powerful fighting style, otherwise, use Offensive style. Models affected by Acid
will be easy to finish-off in the second round of attacks or next round. From the flanks, charge with your small units of Carnifexors or Molochs and finish the enemies off.
The Moving Wall
This is useful for capturing objectives or for a legions sub-faction warband which is primarily designed for melee. This works best with a Centurion warlord, a Princeptor and a small unit of Carnifexors. Ideally works best with units of Legionnaires 7-8 members strong. The “Moving Wall” is probably your best option when facing a faster and/or shooty opposing warband.
In each round, assign your Legionnaires an action token from the warlord. Move three times and then go into Testudo
. When the enemy is close, check if the opponent’s units are in range of your Legionnaires using the Centurion’s tactic Coordinated Charge
. This allows you to measure the distance.
If the enemy is within charge distance (8 inches +1 inch MEL RNG), then execute step A below; if the enemy is within engaging range (9 inches +1 inch MEL RNG) and are likely to charge you, then follow plan B; and if they are out completely out of your engaging range, but can still charge you, use plan C. If the enemy still cannot charge you and you cannot charge them, use plan-D.
A) Buff the Legionnaires with an action token from the Centurion as well as the Centurion’s ordered tactic Ancestral Pride
. Remember the Centurion has an effective LEAD range of 22 inches for issuing orders, and your Legionnaires never need to perform a test for receiving an ordered tactic because of their sub-faction ability. Ancestral Pride
gives them a +1 either to Hit or for damage. If the enemy which the Legionnaires will charge is using a cool melee tactic like Phalanx
etc, then use the Centurion’s tactic Counteract
, which will prevent any new tactics being performed. Now charge with the Legionnaires, performing Pilum Assault
. Now they will be attacking with MEL 7 and POW3 from the charge bonus, with +1 to either one of those from Ancestral Pride
. Generally it makes sense to put the +1 on to hit, so you will hit average DEF13 guys on a 5+ (83.29% probability of hitting).
B) Move forward 3 times and engage the enemy, then activate Testudo
. Works best if the enemy unit has already finished its activation and has no ACT left. Nevertheless, it can also be used against units which have not activated. Although you will not be able to counter-attack the enemy when they make their attacks (because you spent all of your action tokens), you will have robbed them of their charge bonus and they will be facing your DEF15, ARM11 Legionnaires. If possible, place your Legionnaires so that only one or two are engaging the enemy (forcing the enemy to waste an ACT to move more troops into range before attacking you). Also, if you have the opportunity, engage other enemy models and units with the same unit of Legionnaires, preventing them from charging too.
C) Hunker down. Activate Testudo
and prepare to be charged. Keep your Carnifexors / Molochs close to charge units which charge your legionnaires.
D) Move forward and then activate Testudo
. Same as above regarding Carnifexors / Molochs.
The Offensive Plan
Even though they are heavy infantry, Legionnaires can be used offensively. This strategy works best with several units of Legionnaires, each 6 members strong. Also take 1-2 Princeptors.
Advance forward with your warband using Testudo
if necessary to protect from missile attacks or fast flankers.
When you get close to the opposing warband, use the Princeptors to engage the nearest most dangerous models. Remember that the Princeptor is not heavy infantry, so he can move 4 times per turn, and engage models 13 inches away. Be careful to place him in contact with only 2 enemy models. Your Princeptors are able to defend themselves very well with their Parry
tactic. Now that they are engaged, they will be unable to charge your models, so you can position your Legionnaires and charge with them.
If you have two or three units of Legionnaires, you can also use one of the units as a lure, placing it in Testudo
while the other two stand a little further back preparing to charge. Once this lure has been charged then charge the chargers with your remaining Legionnaire unit/s.
Before charging, buff the Legionnaires with an action token from the Centurion as well as the Centurion’s ordered tactic Ancestral Pride
(or Campaign Veteran
from the Princeptor). If possible, also buff them with the spell Imperial Blessing
(+1 to hit). In this case you will be attacking with charge bonus too, so you will be able to fight with an effective MEL of 8 and POW of 4.
Remember to also use the Centurion’s tactic Counteract
, to prevent new enemy tactics. Now charge with the Legionnaires, performing Pilum Assault
. Be sure to place your Legionnaires in base contact so that you can go into Testudo in the following round if necessary.
The Warlord Trap
4 Legionnaires costs 54 points, and as we have seen they are a very hard nut to crack with DEF15, ARM11 in Testudo
. This makes them ideal for tying up powerful warlords. If they can detain an enemy warlord worth 70+ points during the 3 most critical rounds of the game, then they have really taken the teeth out of the enemy warband. Let’s assume a typical kick-ass combat warlord has the usual MEL of 8 buffed to 9 with Offensive fighting style. To hit your guys, he still needs to score a 6+ (72.18% probability). Now let’s assume he has a typical average warlord-POW of 4 buffed to 5 with some tactic or spell etc.
Against ARM11 he still needs to score an 11 (08.32% probability) on the damage roll to kill a single Legionnaire with one attack. With 3 attacks per turn, he will probably kill one Legionnaire and wound another each round. Even heavy warlords with POW8 need to score an 8+ (41.64% probability), and these heavy warlords only have 2 attacks per turn generally (or 3 with slay movement). So in most cases your Legionnaires will last 2-3 rounds against a warlord. They might even score a few points damage on him.
If the Warlord is ordering tactics and assigning action tokens to his units, then he will not be able to make his full attacks every round. There are therefore good chances that 4 legionnaires can detain a Warlord for 2 rounds, possibly even 3 rounds. It’s even better if the opponent spends all his ACT on attacks to kill your Legionnaires because then his warband is not benefitting from the warlords biggest advantages – ordered tactics/spells and assigned action tokens.
Keep them buffed by your Centurion with Ancestral Pride
so they are always fighting with POW 3. Of course the trapped warlord could disengage and risk the free-strikes, but then he will be risking 4 attacks at MEL8 and POW5. That threat is enough to prevent most Warlords trying it, but if they should try it, you will likely either kill or cripple that warlord. Most likely the opponent will probably try to kill half the Legionnaires before attempting such a risky move or try to rescue his warlord by sending other models to join the melee. This is also a good thing since you tie up even more models for a round or two.
Of course to get the real benefit from this strategy you need to use the rest of your warband effectively in chopping up the rest of his warband, but with the opponent’s warlord out of the way, this should be much easier.
The Fallen-Legion Strategy
This one works best with a Mortifex but can also be accomplished with the other warlords assuming you take one or two Necromagi. You will also need one small unit of Legio Mortum for each Legionnaire unit. So let’s assume you are playing a 300 point warband, take one unit of 7-8 Legionnaires, one unit of 6 Legio Mortum, and one unit of 6-8 Legio Mortum, one Necromagus, one Mortifex and 2 Molochs (or Carnifexors).
Place your Legionnaires in Testudo
and march them towards the enemy. Behind the Legionnaires unit place a small unit of Legio Mortum (their undead brothers in arms). 5 inches behind this formation place your Mortifex and Necromagus, surrounded by the smaller unit of Legio Mortum (which will act as their bodyguard). The Necromagus should be within 7 inches of one of the Legionnaires. As you move across the table, use the spell to add extra models to your Legio Mortum units and also cast Ancestral Rites
to gain Ancestral Tokens (to boost your magic). March the Molochs (or Carnifexors) up the flanks.
When the enemy gets close, form up your Legionnaires 4 models wide and cast the spell Transmortis
4 times. That should be possible with both a Mortifex and a Necromagus. The spell should be cast on each of the four front models of your Testudo
. Hopefully you can tempt the enemy to charge your legionnaires with his most expensive, elite unit plus his warlord or a character/creature. The more the better!
The enemy faces the immense DEF and ARM of the Legionnaires, and any damage they do inflict will now be transferred to the Legio Mortum by the Transmortis
spell. Because of the Legio Mortum’s ability Invulnerable
, any model not destroyed gets its life-points re-set to full at the end of the round! So even if 24 points of damage get through the DEF15, ARM11 of the Testudo
, it will all be completely healed for free at the end of the round! If any Legio Mortum are destroyed, just awaken them again with the spell Raise Legionnaires
. In this way you can make your Legionnaires almost immune to damage! This is an unbreakable wall. I dare you to break it!
No, I double-dare you to break it!
When the Legionnaires make their normal activation they can make their one attack each then re-activate Testudo
. Try to buff them beforehand with the spell Imperial Blessing
if your mages have remaining ACT left over, and of course use your fighting style bonus. If you manage to squeeze in a Princeptor into your waband, then buff the Legionnaires with his tactic Campaign Veteran
Now charge with your Molochs using the tactic Flesh Hammer
of course or with Praetorian Carnifexors.
Pretty soon the enemy will try to get around your wall to attack the rotten, un-beating heart of your warband (the spell casters). But they must also reckon with the Moloch on either flank. These beasts are near indestructible because models must pass a horror
test and before each attack must pass a LEAD test because of its Reek ability. It also has 18 life-points. When a Moloch is destroyed, be very sure to use the Soul Bound
ability of the Mortifex to reanimate it! This is immensely frustrating for the enemy).
If any enemy does get through, you have the bodyguard to unit of 6 Legio Mortum to use as a shield. Four of them should be placed in front of the spell-casters and 2 behind. If the Necromagus takes damage, use his Mortal Sacrifice
tactic to drain life-points from the living Legionnaires (who should be within his LEAD range of 7 inches). If the Mortifex becomes engaged, swap him with the unengaged Legio Mortum models in the rear using his Bodyguard
This strategy will likely have drained the impetus out of the opposing warband, and by the time they get through your front line to attack the bodyguard unit, they should already be seriously mauled.
• Beware of models with morning stars (especially the Duskborn Chieftain who has high MEL and POW, combined with up to 6 attacks per round and Ignore Shields
ability. He can butcher a whole unit in a single round). Direct damage can also be bad, but they have to beat your immense DEF first.
is your greatest advantage, use it!
• Remember that Legionnaires have low basic POW, so it usually makes sense to take a few Carnifexors for dealing with high-ARM enemies.
• Against models with high ARM you can do the following: use the +1 from Ancestral Pride
along with Powerful fighting style (or charge bonus) giving you a POW of 4. Alternatively, order the Princeptor’s tactic Campaign Veteran
to the Legionnaires which allows you to roll an additional D6 to see if you score a critical hit. Critical hits for your Legionnaires means 2 points direct damage on the enemy; if possible, also cast imperial blessing
on them, meaning they have POW 4 with a good chance for a crit! Generally in melee against average guys you will need 6+ to hit, and that means any double-3, double-4, double-5 or double-6 (using 3 D6) will be a critical. Even better – if you roll for example a 1 and 5 (scoring a hit), you can still roll the 3rd die, and if it comes up either a 1 or a 5 it still counts as a critical hit. This is an important difference to note!
In developing the Legionnaires we often used the Halodyne Hoplites as a useful gauge to judge them by. We wanted to bring in a degree of emulation with their real-world counterparts to include aspects that would mirror the real battlefield situation when Roman Legionnaires faced Greek Hoplites.
Historically pilums had a bendable front metal part on the shaft which deformed on impact so that the pilum point would penetrate the shield but the rest of the heavy pilum would be bent and awkwardly hanging onto the shield rendering the shield useless. For this reason we included the rule that models hit by the Legionnaires Pilum Assault
lose their shield bonus. There was some thought if it should rather cancel Phalanx
bonus or both, but to cancel both would have been too hard and to cancel only Phalanx
would have been too situational. In the end the cancelling of shield bonus was a perfect solution and allowed also for similar situations (for example Legionnaires vs. Dwarven Fjell Warriors in Shield Wall etc).
We wanted to make the Legionnaires better fighters than the Hoplites and their MEL 6 shows that they are professional soldiers rather than trained farmers wearing good equipment as the normal Hoplites are. It was important to get a differentiation and a balance between Testudo
. For that reason we decided Legionnaires could not make counter-attacks while in Testudo. This also seems very realistic too.
So with their great DEF, ARM and Testudo
tactic, the Legionnaires really captured the flavor of Roman Legionnaires, and to prevent them being unbalanced, they were created as Heavy Infantry. In addition to making them balanced, this also provided them some interesting character and playing style.
In order to prevent players using Legionnaires the same way in every game, we gave them an offensive tactic. This makes the unit more rounded and also encourages players to use Legionnaires offensively.
Their main disadvantage is of course their low POW attacks. We wanted to make the short sword POW2 in order to bring a greater variation to all the weapons in Godslayer. But they are far from helpless since their damage can be increased with the charge bonus, fighting-style bonus, the tactics Campaign Veteran
, Carborane Concentrat
e and Ancestral Pri
de, as well as the spell Imperial Blessing
. So players have plenty of options to increase the Legionnaires’ POW with intelligent play by using other models to buff them before they make their attacks.
They performed nicely over the couple of years of test-gaming and the final point to be argued about was their points (which varied several times). In the end it seemed they were worth between 12 points and 13 points each, but closer to 12, so as an accurate compromise we set the basic trooper cost to 12 and increased the core unit price by an extra 2 points on top of the 2 points for the unit leader.
I hope I have been able to convince you that Legionnaires are a versatile unit which can be used in a variety of ways including offensively. Perhaps you will find other cool strategies in which to use them in your games.