Friday, February 25, 2011

let's try this again: Throwing Axes

Yesterday I posted about Throwing Axes, and got a whole lotta stuff wrong. Thanks again to the fine Mr. Trollhoer of Troll Tales for setting me straight and true. In my defence I've never actually taken Throwing Axes, still my beard has taken on a decidedly orange tint after that last post.

Now then, let's hope I get this right.

birthday axes
used without permission
Throwing Axes (p91):
Range 6", Strength +1 (i.e. 4 for Warriors, 5 for Longbeards), Quick to Fire.

Quick to Fire (p73)
[paraphrasing]...does not suffer the -1 penalty for moving and shooting...can always be used to stand and shoot - even if that charging enemy is too close for stand and shoot to normally be used.

Well holy crap, this allows Dwarves to move and shoot. (That's move and shoot now, not march and shoot).
I never realised. I don't honestly know if it'll be any good with such a short range, but the strength 4 (possible 5 with Longbeards) might be tempting - and you can use double ranks in 8th ed.

The cost? Well only Dwarf Ranger units can have them.
Find the Dwarf Ranger rules on p53 of the Dwarf rulebook. 
You can only have 1 Ranger unit per army list. Warriors, Longbeards or Quarrellers can be upgraded to Rangers for +1 point per model.
Only Warriors or Longbeards that have been upgraded to Rangers can be equipped with Throwing Axes for +1 points per model.

The lost rangers
I used to have some Rangers, to bad they're
away from the hold 'ranging'.
To hit on BS3 is 4+, -1 to hit (long range at 6") is 5+, so only 3 or 4 hits out of 10.

Stand and shoot (p17)
[paraphrasing]...can be declared when a unit starts it's charge outside the firing units maximum weapon's resolved as if the enemy is just within maximum range.
You can ignore the first part about 'outside the maximum weapon range' thanks to Quick to Fire - which may always be used to stand and shoot.

If you're being charged and you 'stand and shoot' it's another -1 to hit and it counts as long range, which means you need a 6 to hit.
(See p40 of the rulebook for the shooting modifiers.)
I think the only way this could count as short range (and therefore roll to hit on a 5) is if the enemy unit is inside 3" when declaring the charge - normally you wouldn't be allowed to stand and shoot, but with Quick to Fire you can.

If you're rolling those 6's to hit, then out of 10 dice you'll generally only get 1 or 2.

Is that right? It seems very low to me. How would Throwing Axes ever have been worth it in 7th ed where you could only fire with the front rank? (I'm clearly paranoid after getting so many rules wrong in my last post). With 5 shots you'd have to be lucky to get more than 1 hit. I'm not even sure they're worth it in 8th ed where you can fire 10 shots.

Unfortunately it's quite likely that you'll only get a round or two off with the axes; I can't imagine ever using this for harassment: a 3" move simply isn't enough to keep up with other units. It also isn't enough to move into the 6" range and shoot that turn - pretty much anything would have charged you the turn before when you were 9" away.

Assuming I'm right about the 6's to hit against chargers, I'd much rather spend the 20 or 30 points on more models or runes.

So in the end, throwing axes come as a nasty surprise charge reaction.
You might give your opponent a fright, but it won't last long as (s)he laughs at your pitiful to hit rolls.


  1. Very true, it's quite an expensive upgrade... But say that you're running a Longbeard Ranger Horde of 30+ dwarfs, equipped with throwing axes. Deploy them 12" away from the enemy, join a Thane with Rune of Brotherhood and Rune of Challenge to them, then force the enemy to charge you and throw S5 axes at him!

    I don't know, it might still not be worth it but at least it'd be cool :D

  2. I was thinking of something along those horde lines all right - it's just such a tough roll, 6's to hit a unit that's charging you.
    Nice touch with the RoChallenge, it might be worth it to try pull the line out of shape.

    What happens to stand and shoot if it's a failed charge? I'd assume the enemy don't make it to 6" you don't get the range, and don't get to stand and shoot?

    What would happen then if the enemy what charging the the front, but on the very left of your unit, so that the right flank models are more than 6" from the enemy. Do only models in range get to shoot even though the whole unit is being charged (as the enemy unit aligns to maximise base to base contact)?

  3. Hehe, good questions! You solve the stand and shoot reaction immediately once someone declares a charge, with all models able to see the enemy getting to shoot (or throw in this case). If they're out of line of sight they don't shoot. You don't move your units yet. Once all charges have been declared (with following reactions) you roll for distance and move your models/units.

  4. Yeah I get that 'stand and shoot' is resolved when the charge is declared - it just would seem a little unfair if the charge failed and the unit didn't even get to within 6 inches,
    i.e. your unit is 14" away,
    your max charge distance is 16" so you declare the charge,
    I stand and shoot, and immediately resolve it and you take some wounds,
    your charges have all been declared so you roll for the distance, and you only get 7" (unlikely I know), which means you're still 7" away.
    The max range of throwing axes is 6", so how could they even hit you?

    I know it's a technicality, it just seems odd!

  5. Definitely does, but it's the same with a lot of things. It's weird that not a single axe, no matter who tosses it, only goes 6" and never further.

    I guess you'll just have to imagine the battlefield as more fluid and rules only as representations of this. As you know, you'll be able to throw things a lot further if you run a few steps before you hurl it. So imagine the Rangers, once they notice the enemy charging towards them, instead of standing still and tossing axes at them like if they're small rocks,, runs forward and hurls their weapons with all force they can muster (explains the +1S) while preparing their great weapons for the upcoming skirmish, if their throwing axes didn't force the enemy to a halt already.


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