Center Stage
Part Two – Maldire Mongrels

Center-stage is a series of articles spotlighting a particular model or unit in Godslayer. In this article we will look at the often underestimated underlings of the Banebrood Beastspawn sub-faction – Maldire Mongrels. In my opinion the Mongrels are one of the most fun units to play in the whole game because of their speed and offensive capabilities. Although their life-expectancy on the table-top is brief, they can cause a whole world of carnage during their short lives!

Interbreeding between subspecies of Fomorians spawns hybrid degenerates known as Mongrels. Although they are humanoid in form, their intense savagery leaves little room for sentience. Mongrels are despised by the pure-bred Beastspawn, and kept as slaves to do the menial tasks of hunting, gathering, and scavenging. Regular bullying is required to keep them in line due to their constant cruelty, selfishness, greed, and aggression.

Mongrels are foul beasts which sleep and root in their own dung. Their fur is matted with urine, sweat, vomit, feces and last week’s carrion. Consequently their immune systems developed a resistance to disease, making them ideal carriers of virulent plagues. As a natural part of their primitive fighting skills, Mongrels bite their foes, thereby infecting victims with these horrific pathogens. Many victorious human champions have smashed Mongrel hordes in battle only to fall ill and die on the journey home. Indeed, entire armies have been struck down in the aftermath of a war, and worse yet even carried the plagues back to their homelands.

In battle, Mongrels constitute expendable troops, thrown at the enemy in wild charges. Nevertheless they represent a considerable threat due to their speed and agility, enabling them to close rapidly with foes. When they do pile into the enemy line, they strike powerful blows with multiple weapons. Mongrels are brainless, diseased brutes, both poorly trained and poorly equipped, but for thousands of years they have formed a relentlessly rising tide, slowly eroding the walls of civilization.

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The Mongrels are a staple for Banebrood warbands and in fact, it is possible to field up to four units of eight models in a warband (below 500 points). That’s 32 slavering miscreants to do your bidding if you so desire. At 11 points per trooper the Mongrel constitutes a cheap eggshell armed with a hammer – highly offensive but rather squishy. Used correctly, they are well worth their points. Let’s have a look at what they can do.

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Let’s start with a look at their profile.
MOV 3 – Normal humanoid movement value, but don’t be fooled. More about their crazy speed later.
MEL 5 – Mediocre; 5 indicates inexperienced soldiers or motivated amateurs.
MIS 4 – Essentially inexperienced with missile attacks.
MAG 2 – Low, reflecting their mental weakness.
DEF 12 – Lower average, showing that they are relatively offensive and think little of their own defense.
ARM 5 – This poor level of armor reflects the leather and various scraps they wear.
LEAD 7 – Average.
ACT 4 – Average for normal troops.

So not very impressive at first glance, but first impressions can be deceiving.

Abilities and Tactics

Furious Charge – This sub-faction ability exemplifies their offensive animalistic nature giving them +2 inches charge range. Consider that most models have a charge range of 8 inches, so +2 inches is an extra 25%, and can really give them the edge since few models are fast enough to charge Mongrels.

Infectious Bite – This is one of the greatest benefits of the Mongrels; this ability enables them to infect models they hit with plagues. Note that you only need to hit to infect the enemy model, not cause damage. The Banebrood have a number of dire plagues they can unleash. More about that later.

Loose Formation – With a unit formation of 3 inches instead of the usual 2 inches, the Mongrels are much more flexible in terms of model placement during melee, and allowing the unit potentially to spread across half the width of the table like a net. Loose Formation is also useful when facing an opponent with lots of template attacks, such as Mortan Technostratum, since the wide spacing means few models will ever be hit with a template.

Plague Host – A necessary rule enabling them to carry the plague of your choice. In order to gain a plague to carry, you will need a model with the Plague Infector ability. In wave one, that means either the Pestbringer or a warlord equipped with item Bubonic Fleas.

Stench – Living Enemies in melee reach attacking you suffer -1 to hit. This essentially gives them DEF 13 (except against MAG attacks).

Duck and Weave – A handy tactic which can be used when thundering across the table to savage enemies armed with missile weapons. Duck & Weave gives you +1 to your DEF against missile attacks. However, you should save it for crossing open ground when closing in on shooty foes since it costs one action token to use. Better to use cover if possible and in this way save the ACT for extra movement.

Light Infantry – Okay now we get to one of the most important aspects of the Mongrels. Being light infantry, they can move up to five times per turn. For that you will need to assign them an action token from the warlord since they only have 4 ACT. This means they will be able to cover 15 inches per turn at MOV3.

More importantly being light Infantry means the Mongrels can always make long-charges (3XMOV+2 inches). When you add to that their sub-faction ability of Furious Charge, they have a charge range of 13 inches plus 1 inch melee range. That’s 5 inches – or 62.5% more charge-range than an average trooper has!

Now let’s have a look at how they perform in melee. The Maldire Mongrels are armed with various different items which are classified simply as “hand weapons”. As you can see from the models, they have a weapon in both hands and their profile card says they can make ambidextrous attacks. That means two attacks for the cost of 3 action tokens. Not bad. When buffed with an action token assigned by the warlord (giving them a total of 5), they can then also make a normal 2 ACT attack, giving them three attacks per turn. No other cheap model can make three normal attacks per turn (Kinswords don’t count because their 3rd attack is a low POW1 attack). That means with a unit of 8 Mongrels, you can get a whopping 24 attacks.

Another point of note: Mongrels possess six life-points each, which is one point more than regular humans. In melee against comparable units (Hoplites, Legionnaires, Fjell, Warriors, Kinswords, Reaver Runts etc) this extra life-point can often mean the difference between life and death and enable the Mongrels to go one extra round in combat.

Before proceeding further we should take a deeper look at their plague-carrying function. Mongrels form the ideal agent for delivering the warband’s plagues to the enemy since they are relatively cheap and can infect a model with every one of its (potential) three attacks per round! 
Looking at the various plagues on offer we have:

Bubonic Plague – This one causes 1D3+1 points of direct damage. That’s an average of 3 points of extra damage which go directly onto the opposing model, ignoring armor. Against mediocre infantry which generally have 5 life-points, this is a devastating bonus combined with their regular attacks. It represents a great way to finish a model off. When attacking with their POW3 weapon against a model with average armor (7), and rolling an average damage of 7, they will score an average of 3 points damage, so the D3+1 points direct damage from the plague will probably finish the victim off. And so it becomes realistic for a Mongrel to slay an average model with a single attack, which is fantastic for such cheap troops. Bubonic Plague is a must when facing high-ARM models like Hoplites, Legionnaires, Einherjer and warlords, since the D3+1 completely bypasses the target’s armor.

Gutrot Plague – Moving on, we come to this plague which is more useful when fighting models which will go many rounds in the ring. Gutrot Plague causes the target to suffer -1 to all stats including ACT. This is particularly useful against elite units like Carnifexors, Sons of War, Hill Ogres, Ironhide Brutes, and characters. (But keep in mind that at least half of a units models must be infected to reduce ACT).

Robbing them of one action token will often mean they can make one less attack per turn. It is also great against creatures, since many tend to have relatively average stats except for their life-points. Think about it another way, the -1 to all stats suffered by the target is equivalent to the Mongrels gaining +1 DEF and +1 POW. That’s a decent bonus. 

Heartkill Plague – This is another great advantage, ideal against characters, warlords and creatures. The effect is to cause the victim to spend an extra +1 ACT for all actions they make, that means Warlords will struggle to make 2 attacks per turn, creatures and characters will probably only manage 1 attack per turn. It also affects other actions, including movement, charging, spell-casting, shooting and using tactics! This essentially cripples a model. Heartkill Plague can also be effective against units of elite troops, but you will need to infect at least half of the target unit to switch the effect on – this is a very realistic possibility when you have a unit of 8 Mongrels attacking 2-3 times per turn!

Black Plague – This is a truly awesome benefit to the Mongrels. Any model hit in melee needs to take a LEAD test at -2 or become knocked down. Knocked-down models cannot make attacks, use tactics, or make counter-attacks, and suffer -2 DEF. This is great against any model, but particularly against high-points models like Warlords and creatures.

Plagues in General
There is another aspect to Plagues which should not be overlooked. All of the above are continuous toxic effects, which means that if the model becomes affected, the effect can be suffered again next round when the model activates again. One might think because it is a continuous effect, the target model has a chance to escape the effect and so the plagues are not such a threat. This is true but the target model making its Affliction Test must score 5+ to escape the effect. The same is true of the Expiry test at the start of their next activation, so you have a 66.66% chance of making the plague work when you first use it on the target, and then the model is stuck with it. The chances of getting rid of the plague during an Expiry Test can be improved by the victim by spending action tokens, but this is not a bad thing for the Banebrood player, since it encourages the opponent to waste his ACT to remove the effects instead of attacking your Mongrels!

Overall, Plagues are a huge advantage that Mongrels can employ and so it makes sense to always include a model in your warband with the Plague-Infector ability in order to gain access to them. Remember, your Mongrels, once infected, will carry these deadly diseases for the entire game. Additionally, Plagues do not count as ordered tactics, so they can additionally benefit from a tactic from your warlord simultaneously.

Keep in mind that Plagues work only against living models!!!! So no use against undead and war-machines and Shadow Trolls.

There are seven useful spells which the Mongrels can benefit from. In fact, Banebrood are one of the best factions for straight buffing. Remember that spells can be stacked – although each spell can only count once, you can stack any number of different spells. Let’s have a look at them.

Bugstalk Eyes: +1 DEF; upgrade means the unit cannot be charged. Pretty cool.

Bulging Biceps: +1 POW; upgrade additional +2 POW when charging or using Powerful fighting style, so +3 POW! That would give them POW6.

Exoskeleton: +1 ARM; upgrade means -1 point to every damage received.

Long Legs: +1 MOV; upgrade makes a unit light Infantry. (allow long charges), but since they are already light infantry, no need to upgrade that spell. However +1 MOV means they can potentiall move 20 inches per turn. That’s a staggering speed reserved for Light Cavalry models.

Grotesque Abomination: Causes fear; upgrade causes terror. This is exceedingly useful against standard units. A failed Fear test means that the enemy suffers -2 to hit, so effectively the Mongrels would gain +2 DEF. Terror is even better and can cause enemies to flee or fail to charge.

Gigantic Jaws: +1 MEL; upgrade means any enemy taking damage suffers an additional 2 points damage. This works exceptionally well in combination with the Bubonic Plague meaning that the opposing models suffer D3 +3 points damage. That is usually enough to kill an enemy model. 

Spiked Horror: Causes a hit on attacking enemies within 1 inch; upgrade, the hit benefits from Poison (-1 to all basic stats).

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Putting it all Together
There are a great many ways to use your Mongrels within your warband; below are a few to get you thinking.

The all-or-nothing Plan:
This is the standard recipe for mayhem. To bake this cake of carnage you will need one Gorelord, one Pestbringer, two Fallow Shamans and two units of Mongrels. Deploy large units of Mongrels with 7-8 models each. This warband adds up to around 350 points.

Deploy the entire warband in a cluster so that the individual models are close to both units. In the first round, activate the Fallow Shaman and cast the mutation spell Long-Legs on both units. This will give your Mongrels a MOV of 4.

Next activate your Pestbringer and infect your units with your chosen plague, then send him forward.

Activate your Gorelord and assign each unit of Mongrels an action token. This will then allow them to move 5X4 inches for an astounding 20 inches movement this turn! Move your Gorelord forward 16 inches with his remaining 4 ACT.

Now activate your Mongrels and advance them forward. There are normally 32 inches between the two opposing deployment zones, so if you place your Mongrels at the front edge of your zone and then move them up to 20 inches, then you will be about 12 inches from the edge of your opponent’s deployment zone, (which is already 8 inches past the centre line). If your opponent is sitting back and not moving, then this is a fine place for your Mongrels to be, but if your opponent is moving forward at full speed too, then he might also be halfway between his deployment zone and the table-middle. In that case, moving 20 inches is too far. Make sure that when you place your Mongrels units that you are not within the charge range of the enemy models. Since they are the last models of your warband that you are activating, you should already be able to assess the right place to put them. You want to be outside your opponent’s engagement range (movement + Melee range; normally 13 inches for most models) so that he cannot charge or move and engage you, but less than 17 inches away. This massive charge range of 17 inches should give you 4 inches leeway for getting it right.

At the start of round-two, sustain the Long Legs spells on the Mongrels during the initiation phase (each mage can sustain one spell). Ideally you now have several charge options. Activate your Warlord and buff both Mongrels units with your warlord. Howling Mad is a perfect tactic to order to them both. If the units LEAD test for receiving the order is failed, then try it a second time. Then assign both units an action token.

Now your first unit is ready to go. Unleash the mangy Mongrels on some juicy target, and try to engage several enemy models/units with the single charge. Now that your Mongrels have 5 ACT and Howling Mad plus the charge bonus, your unit of 8 guys will be making 24 attacks this round with +2 to hit and +2 to wound. And each attack will be with a plague! This is enough to take down a large unit of elites.

Okay let’s do the math. Against an average DEF of 13 you will be hitting on a 6+, and against guys with a typical arm of 7, you will be averaging 5 points of damage (which is enough to kill a normal human with one attack). These numbers produce a 72.23% likelihood of an attack hitting. From 24 attacks, that’s an average of 17 hits, causing an average of 5 points of damage each. Of course against tougher foes they will have a harder time, but even against un-buffed Einherjer (DEF12, ARM9) 83.33% average hits = 20 hits causing an average of 3 points damage = 60 points of damage. Since a full unit of Einherjer has 44 life points in total, statistics say they would be wiped out too.

In your next activation you can use your shamans to buff these victorious heroes using the spells Exoskeleton and Bugstalk Eyes to give them +1 DEF and +1 ARM. This will stand them in good stead for the charge they are likely to suffer. At the same time, you can buff your second unit of Mongrels with Bulging Biceps (+1 POW) so that they have +2 to hit and +3 to wound! Then charge them into the next juicy enemy unit.

If you are you are fighting an elite unit that still has action token left, then keep in mind that it can and surely will counter-attack, so it helps to have those DEF and ARM buffs in place. However, if your cheap unit of Mongrels massacres a unit of Einherjer and gets wiped out in return, you should still consider that a decent result. 

The Downsized all-or-nothing Plan
Want the same plan on a smaller budget?

Use one unit of Mongrels and take a Bisotaur Shaman as the Warlord, equipped with the Bubonic Fleas item. The Bisotaur can cast the Long-Legs spell, assign the needed action token and infect your Mongrels unit with a plague. It’s a little slower because the Bisotaur also needs to spent ACT to move in order to keep up with the Mongrels to buff them in round 2, but it can be made to work with just a little juggling. If your Bisotaur warlord uses 2 Act to cast the spell and assigns one act, then uses the other 3 ACT to move, then he will be 11 inches behind the Mongrels. This is too far to receive assigned action tokens, but when you activate the Warlord first in round two, you can simply move him once to get him into LEAD range, then assign the action token.

Keep in mind that he does not possess the tactic Howling Mad that the Gorelord has, but he can cast Bulging Biceps on the Mongrels before they charge since the spell has a range of 8 inches plus 6 inches from his ability Trail of Malice. This means your Mongrels unit can charge 16 inches and will have 24 attacks with +1 MEL and +2 POW. The math says they will have a 58.33% chance to hit typical DEF13 troopers (so 14 hits from 24) doing an average of 5 points damage against ARM7. This is still some serious carnage even without the Howling Mad order of the Gorelord.

The Classic Plan
So you want to take a well-balanced warband with other units but still want to include a unit of Mongrels?

In this case it you need to assign a role to your Mongrels. Let’s say you take a large unit of Guthackers and a couple of creatures, plus a Gorelord and a unit of 6-8 Mongrels; so what’s the best use for the Mongrels?

Well you will surely find many good uses for them but one I recommend is using them to bind enemies. Move the Mongrels slightly ahead of the rest of your warband and use their awesome speed to charge enemy units and models. It helps if you use the Long Legs spell for this.

With this strategy you are not looking to crush the enemy with your Mongrels, only to hold them in place by engaging the enemy while your heavy hitters lumber in from behind. Be sure that your big guys can definitely join the battle in the following round, because if the Mongrels are left to fend for themselves longer that a single round, they will be massacred.

When you charge with your Mongrels, you need to pick your targets carefully and try to engage as many enemy units and individual models as possible without spreading yourself too thin. For example, with 8 Mongrels you can charge a unit of regular troops plus a character and a warlord. Most of your Mongrels will die, but it will enable you to move up your muscle so that you can make some devastating charges in the next round.

Remember that each model in a unit designates a separate target for its charge, and it is possible to charge multiple models and units as long as you maintain unit formation. So spread them thin but not too thin. You want some of your Mongrels to survive the round and still be binding as many enemy units/models as possible at the start of the next round.

Charging a warlord with two Mongrels might seem suicidal, but it will probably keep him tied up for the entire round and prevent it from charging your Mongrels. So even in death they can be extremely useful.

The Guard Dog Strategy
A single unit buffed with Long Legs represents a strong deterrent protecting your warband from charges by fast units of the opposing warband such as Amazon Hunters, Bladeslingers, Bloodvargs, Cerberoi, Reaver Runts and Lighteaters.

Again the Long Legs spell you may ask???

Yes! At the risk of sounding redundant, this spell amplifies the already considerable advantage of the Mongrels – their speed. Sure it’s fine to buff them with other spells, but most of those spells will be compensating for the deficiencies of the Mongrels (ARM, MEL and POW) rather than capitalizing on their existing strengths.

Other Strategies
Mongrels can be used effectively as flankers in small units of 4 models (costing 48 points). Because of their potential 20 inches movement, on turn three they can charge archers, war-machines and cowardly spell-casters channelling spells from the back of the table.

Although they do not have Wildwalker or Woodwise abilities, their sheer speed enables them to flush-out annoying pests from difficult terrain.

Another possibility – use a core unit of four as a bodyguard for your Bisotaur Warlord or to guard a pair of Fallow Shamans.

Mongrels can also function as a horde type warband since 8 models X 4 units = 32 Mongrels (costing 368 points). A potential 96 attacks per round is enough to overwhelm almost any opposing warband. Of course to be most effective they will need a Gorelord and a couple of characters, so such a monstrous horde is realistic for a 499 point warband.

Combining Mongrels with other Models
Various models in the Banebrood Warband have useful synergies with the Mongrels.

Gorelord – His Howling Mad tactic (+1 MEL & +1 POW) is a great benefit for Mongrels since their basic POW and MEL are relatively low. 
Perhaps even more useful is the Gorelord’s ability Intimidating Growl. This one gives models and units within LEAD range (8 inches) Hardened Will. This not only makes them immune to fear and horror tests but also makes it impossible for the unit to break and flee!
Fallow Shaman – Shamans have access to numerous spells which can boost the Mongrels. Try Gigantic Jaws (+1 MEL and [upgrade to D3 damage from all attacks) Grotesque Abomination (making them cause fear, with upgrade to horror). Spiked Horror is particularly effective since all models that hit the Mongrels inside 1 inch MEL range suffers a POW1 damage roll automatically with no roll to hit. And so if a unit counter attacks them twice in a turn, they effectively make two guaranteed successful “attacks” in addition to their normal 2 or 3 attacks per turn! 
Bisotaur Shaman – The Bisotaur Shaman is an even more powerful spell-caster and the great thing is – he has the same sub-faction as the Mongrels, allowing them to use their sub-faction ability.
Ursapine/Cyclops – Mongrels are well-suited to forming the bulk of a warband, but sometimes you may need some seriously high-POW attacks. It makes sense to take one of these killers along for the mayhem.
Pestbringer – As we already covered above, Plagues are a must for a Mongrel-based warband due to their infectious bite. It is possible to equip the warlord with Bubonic Fleas in order to get the requisite plague for your warband, but that takes up the warlord’s only Talisman item, and that can be a tough choice since there are other talismans which can help the warlord stay alive longer. Since the Gorelord is primarily a melee-warlord, it makes sense to give him a protective Talsiman and leave the Bubonic Fleas to a support warlord (Bistoaur Shaman). The solution is to take a Pestbringer, who can even carry up to two plagues.
Ravager – For 1 ACT, the Ravager can order his tactic Gore Oath to the Mongrels, giving them the ability Resilient so that if any model is killed, on a D6 roll of 5+ it actually survives with 1 Life-point! This is great for Mongrels since they are quite fragile.

Further tips:
• Remember that when you make a melee attack, the target models can counter-attack if they have action tokens. So ordinarily the Mongrels attack, then the enemy counter attacks; the Mongrels make a second attack, then the enemy makes a second counter-attack. However, if instead you use the ambidextrous attack option, then the two attacks count as a single action, so the enemy can only make a single counter-attack! So it makes sense to always, always, always use the ambidextrous attack, even if you have nothing to else to do with the extra action token.(Both attacks must be made against the same target, so sometimes it is still useful to make two normal attack if you want to attack two foes).
• If your warlord assigns the Mongrels an action token, they can make an ambidextrous attack, plus a normal 2-ACT attack. In this way you make three attacks and the enemy can only make two counter-attacks, so it’s still advantageous.
Or you make a normal attack, move once and make another round of normal attacks. This is very useful against large and squishy units like Gnolls and Bladeslingers.
• If during melee, your warlord cannot assign the Mongrels an action token, then you will have one ACT left over (assuming you will make your ambidextrous attack). With this remaining action token, always consider repositioning your models. Often the extra ACT allows you to get more models into melee range or allow your models to gang-up on a few enemy models. It can also allow you sometimes to engage other enemies and prevent them from charging. I lost count the number of times I wished I had an extra action token to reposition my models in melee. This may sound like a minor advantage but it really can make a huge difference since models often end up with no viable target after 2-3 of turns of combat.
• With a 3-inch unit formation, you can stick one Mongrel 3 inches back behind the main unit, in the direction of the warlord or spell-casters. This extra 3 inches can often mean the difference for the unit being within range for receiving orders, action tokens and spells. I call this guy the spell-catcher.
• Duck and Weave costs an action token to use, so only use it when you are facing serious missile attacks or if you find yourself with an extra action token left over. 
• Remember that due to their maximum possible movement of 9 inches per turn, heavy infantry cannot reach you if you keep your Mongrels 11+ inches away. Bear this in mind when fighting Mortan Legions troops. Against such models/units you can pick and choose your charges.
• Beware other fast models such as Amazon Hunters, Bloodvargs, Cerberoi and Bladeslingers. Don’t let them charge your Mongrels or these offensive killers will get wiped out due to their poor armor. The ultimate deterrent for opposing fast models is an Ursapine with Long Legs spell and upgrade – such a beast can move 25 inches per turn and charge 19 inches!

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Designers Notes
It was clear when designing the world of Calydorn that a bestial faction of Minotaurs, Cyclopses and Satyrs would be an ideal faction, and when we first envisioned this bestial army of Banebrood, we imagined them as a really diverse faction with many types of bestial creatures rather than the usual bull-headed Minotaurs and goat-headed beast-men.

By extrapolation, interbreeding between the many different classes we imagined, as well as genetic instability from the Baneplague, would result in mixed progeny, and thus came into being the Maldire Mongrels. We then saw that they were the perfect choice to become the cannon-fodder, rank and file unit, but rather than create a simplistic, boring unit we wanted to endow them with a flavor of the Godslayer world and some interesting aspects which could be used to lift them from mediocre throwaways to qualified killers through intelligent play. Due to the low technology of the Banebrood it was clear that they would have poor armor and consequently fit as light infantry.

It was rather by accident that they became superfast troops (through their light status, sub-faction ability and long-legs spell), since all of these aspects were imagined separately. However, after we saw the combinations tested we were eminently pleased with the flavor and style of the unit. The Mongrels had developed their own uniqueness. This original concept was tweaked only very slightly during the course of three years play-testing and remains today one of my favorite units.

Used offensively and buffed with spells, tactics and action tokens, the Maldire Mongrels are an effective tool and represent great value for points. Conversely, when used defensively and left un-buffed they are really wasted.

I hope you could extract some useful ideas out of this article or at least some inspiration to play Banebrood