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D.R.A.I.C.H. - Taming the Horse Lords - Beating Bretonnians 
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Joined: Thu Jan 29, 2009 4:55 pm
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Location: Ontario, Canada
Taming the Horse Lords - Part 1: Know your Enemy

Based On: Bretonnian Army Book dated 2003, Druchii Army Book dated 2008 and BRB v 7.0 rules.

The following is an analysis of the Bretonnian army from a Druchii standpoint or, more specifically, how to turn the horse loving humans into suitable slaves or hydra fodder!! By first gaining an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the Bretonnians, a druchii general will be better able to adjust their own battle plan so as to take maximum advantage of this knowledge in order to expedite their foe’s demise.


While the Bretonni are renowned for their cavalry, they have three major strengths:
1) Lance Formation (LF)
2) Characters; and
3) Peasants. Yes, that last item is correct and not a spelling error!!


First off, when arranged in ranks 3 wide, Bretonnian cavalry is in LF and not only gains rank bonuses but is also able to attack with all the flanking models on the charge. This means that a lance of 9 models, arranged 3 x 3, will have a +2 rank bonus and will have 7 models attacking on the charge. Furthermore, Bretonnian damsels (aka wizards) can hide inside the lance in the middle of the 2nd or 3rd rank and still function normally except for having line of sight. In a similar vein, command models can be placed in the 2nd rank if characters fill the front rank and still bestow all of their benefits. Therefore, thanks to the LF, even the weakest of Bretonnian knights are a significant danger on the charge and can break non-stubborn units quite easily. Supported by characters that can be tuned to specific roles and the regular knight lances become even more powerful and able to take on progressively tougher targets.

There are five different types of knights that can appear in a Bretonnian army and a quick summary is provided below. The non-flying cavalry all moves 8” and charges 16” even though they are barded and have a 2+ armour save – this means that an army that is not march blocked can be hitting your own troops on turn 2! If the army prays for the Lady’s Blessing after deployment, it grants choice of first move to the opponent but all cavalry benefit from the Lady’s Blessing, a 6+ ward save that improves to 5+ versus S5 or better. Of note, if a challenge is refused or a unit flees, this blessing is lost for the rest of the game:

1. Knights Errant – Very low cost core cavalry with WS3/LD7 that suffer from impetuousness (test on leadership or forced to declare a charge against a foe in range). They must pursue or overrun due to impetuousness. They can take a banner to make them S6 on the charge but then suffer a –2 penalty on their impetuous checks.

2. Knights of the Realm – Standard core cavalry with similar stats to druchii warriors except they have poorer initiative.

3. Questing Knights – Slightly more expensive than realm knights but they re-roll failed psychology tests, are S4 and I4 but have great weapons instead of lances.

4. Grail Knights – The elite of Bretonnia and only 1 unit can be fielded without a special character. High weapon skill and 2 attacks each make them extremely deadly in LF. They are immune to psychology, have magical attacks and gain the Lady’s Blessing even if the army does not pray.

5. Pegasus Knights – The army is usually restricted to only one unit and that is good news as these are hard hitting flying cavalry with 2 wounds, a 3+ save and the Lady’s Blessing. The mounts give 2 x S4 attacks each and thus even a unit of 3 can really hurt druchii both on the charge and in subsequent rounds if used on a flank. They move 8” on the ground and skirmish with 360 line of sight and thus are able to charge units in difficult terrain quite easily. If the Bretonnian general is mounted on a royal Pegasus, then the 0-1 limit is lifted and up to 4 units can be taken.


The Bretonnians must take a BSB and this does not count toward hero choices. While the Bretonnian fighting characters have standard human stats and don’t appear too dangerous, they can be tailored through virtues (deity like powers) and magic items to make them excellent character or monster killers. They can all choose a vow (knightly, questing or grail), which allows them to join the appropriate or lesser unit of knights and gives them similar abilities to those knights. The virtues are more important however and some of the most common virtues are ones that allow re-rolls to hit and to wound in challenges, killing blow vs large targets, additional attacks for every wounding hit on the charge, +1 to combat resolution, ignore panic from missile and magic and re-rolling all to hits and to wound versus S5 or better opponents. Combining the virtues with magic items that permit re-rolls of failed armour saves or a 4+ ward save can make a Lord level character very survivable and able to dish out wounds in a protracted combat. Due to point constraints, hero level characters are used in supporting roles and generally cannot have strong virtue/magic item combinations without making them fairly vulnerable.
Although the army BSB can take a banner to negate enemy rank bonuses and a virtue, this is rare since it is expensive and leaves the BSB very vulnerable to attack. The damsels cannot take virtues but give MR1 to any unit they join.


The Bretonnians have some special characters that may arise from time to time, especially in larger battles.

The Green Knight is a terror causing, ethereal stalker who arrives on a random roll in any natural terrain piece or can move from one natural piece to another during the remaining moves phase once he is on the board. He is a significant threat to missile troops and RBTs both for the terror checks and lack of static combat resolution of these units. However, he suffers instability like undead if beat in combat and may return but suffers a penalty each time he is killed on his appearance roll. Apart from hoping your opponent rolls poorly to have the Green Knight appear, magical attacks or static combat resolution are the best approaches after ensuring that natural terrain pieces are located away from your deployment zone.

King Louen Leoncoeur arrives on a slightly improved hippodonkey, provides 18” leadership, has regeneration, is very good in challenges and allows multiple units of grail knights to be taken. If he is killed, the entire army checks for panic and any surviving units become stubborn but don’t let that stay your assassin’s hand when the opportunity arises :twisted:

The Fey Enchantress also allows extra grail knights to be taken and is inserted into the unit as it forms her bodyguard. While she can take any lore in the book, she is most effective with the lore of life. Her other great advantage is that the Lady’s Blessing comes for free, without praying, so the Bretonnian player will have a chance of going first. Both the Fey Enchantress and the King are very expensive and are unlikely to appear in anything less than a 3,000 point battle.


The peasants have very low stats (WS2 and LD5) and many Bretonnian players disdain them, taking only a single unit of skirmish archers. However, the value of peasants is that they are very cheap, gain the LD of any knight unit within 6”, do not cause panic in the knights and any standard taken by them works normally but does not grant victory points if captured. The archers can be a lethal threat to druchii, especially in large numbers, as they have 30” range, can have flaming attacks and cost about half of what repeater crossbows cost. This massed fire can wipe out dark riders, cause numerous wounds on elite druchii infantry or drop a few wounds on a hydra, making its breath attack far less effective.

The peasant infantry is armed similar to spear warriors and while less capable, still grant the same SCR for far fewer points and without the chance of giving up another 100 VPs for the banner. The last great value of peasants is the strategic advantage of being able to deploy them first so that the cavalry can be better located where it is most needed. The army can field a peasant infantry unit called the grail relique and battle pilgrims that gains the Lady’s blessing, is stubborn and has hatred but it is fairly expensive and subject to psychology, hence rarely taken.


There are 3 major weaknesses to the Bretonnian army:
1) Cavalry focus
2) Magic
3) Psychology


Even with relatively inexpensive knights as core choices, the cavalry focus and extra BSB character means a Bretonnian army will likely only be able to field 6 or 7 units, meaning a more numerous force can gain a deployment advantage. Adding to this the usual requirement to pray for the Lady’s Blessing, and an opponent is also granted the choice of first move in the game. The cavalry focus also means that most of the army cannot enter buildings and the LF gives the unit HUGE FLANKS. Apart from a poor lord mount choice in the hippodonkey, the army has no fear or terror causing units. Lastly, the army has no offensive infantry that can operate on its own and, worse yet, has no scouts whatsoever.


Bretonnian damsels may only select from the lore of life or beasts, both of which are very poor in terms of offensive spells. The default lore of life spell is annoying as it goes off on 4+ and cuts movement to one-half but the offensive spells require line of sight (impossible for a damsel in a lance unless the target is on a hill or in a building) and, at worst, do d6 hits. The lore of beast default spell is useless as Bret characters must come mounted unless a virtue is taken which puts them on foot and no self-respecting Bretonnian noble would ever lower themselves to join the peasant rabble in the mud!! However, beast cowers is effective at freezing a cavalry/monster unit ANYWHERE on the board from moving and the wolf hunts can give the knights a 2d6” extra move on top of the 16” march or 20” fly for the Pegasus knights!! Notwithstanding the good spells in the two lores, the lack of offensiveness and randomness of spell selection mean even a magic heavy Bretonnian army (an extreme rarity) is not much of a threat.


Only grail knights and characters are immune to psychology and thus most of the army can be subject to terror bombing, panic or other psychology tests. While the knights have decent leadership, the peasants are very vulnerable on their own and can be readily broken or made to panic – a good thing to keep in mind when facing an extended line of flaming archers.


Taming the Horse Lords - part 2: Know Yourself


With a solid understanding of the Bretonnians, we can now apply some druchii cunning to exploit our own army’s abilities. While numerous possibilities exist thanks to the many excellent druchii units, the field will be narrowed to examining how to use each phase of the turn to best advantage.

Deployment Phase - Knowing that you are likely to go first, ensure that there is blocking terrain in the middle of the board to help force the lances into channels and to provide a midpoint for your own mobile troops to occupy without being exposed to a lance charge. Your own missile troops need to be set up to allow concentrated fire into the channels while allowing your own close combat forces to threaten any encroaching lances. Additional terrain in or near the Bretonnian deployment zone will also allow for later placement of scouts.

Movement Phase – If possible, try to march block part of the army with scouts or flyers (terrain blocking LOS helps harpies live longer!!) and move to deal with the remainder, advancing missile troops just enough to be in range and any hydra and/or dark riders to the mid point terrain pieces established during deployment. In later turns, the hydra (or dragon/manticore if you have one) can be moved to flame and terror bomb from flanks while the fast cav dance around the lances and shoot but beware of the Pegasus knights. Bait units can be used to redirect lances away from high value units or to set up a hammer and anvil for the next turn’s close combat phase.

Magic Phase - Parking sorceresses in buildings gives them immunity to the lances, large target and 360 line of sight and an ability to attack any lance within range so a building near a board midpoint is ideal. Most Bretonnian armies have 1-2 scroll caddies and thus are well protected for the first couple of turns. However, in a prolonged battle, the lore of metal is deadly to knights and will eventually start causing serious harm. However, dark magic, death and fire are all effective as even S4 magic missiles will bring down T3 knights eventually while soul stealer and black horror can readily devastate a unit with a bit of luck. Doom and darkness is excellent if used in conjunction with terror bombing or panic checks caused by other magic or missile fire.

A very different approach is to exploit the Bretonnian weak magic phase and bring extra missile and combat troops instead of sorceresses. For the cost of sorceresses, druchii can field a lot of RXBs or excellent close combat troops with little risk of suffering much damage from the enemy magic phase.

Missile Phase – The ability of RXBs to mass fire armour piercing shots make them very effective at dealing with T3 Bretonnian knights, who will fail their armour save one third of the time and then only get a 6+ ward due to S3. RBTs are even more effective with excellent range and –2 to the armour save and also have a dramatic psychological affect on most knights, who will go to extreme lengths to avoid being targeted by them. Pegasus knights should be the #1 target as there are no penalties for shooting at them, their mobility and hitting power is a severe threat to your own missile troops, they threaten your own army’s mobility and a single casualty will cause a panic check. Grail knights would be a #2 priority although a character on a royal Pegasus or Hippodonkey is inviting as the steed can be readily shot out from underneath the character, leaving them on foot and neutering both their movement and any magic lance they might be carrying. A black dragon breath attack can hit an entire lance and has the added bonus of a –3 LD check to declare a charge if it is not a unit of grail knights - assuming that it passes its terror check and does not flee!

Close Combat Phase – Due to the ability of lances to charge 16” or Pegasus to go 20”, the most likely case is that the Bretonnians will get in a charge on your own troops, which is usually very bad unless you have ASF. Units without the ASF banner, full of assassins or stubborn (black guard or khainites within 12” of a CoB) are likely to be seriously beat by such a charge and subsequently run down. However, there is a way to allow such a charge and still win by using a hammer and anvil tactic as follows:
Move a sacrificial lamb (dark riders or small unit of spears) forward and have them hold against the charge. Ensure the lamb is aligned to redirect the lance overrun/pursuit onto a close (~6” away) PoK character or hydra with the result that the ensuing combat will be fought during your own next turn. By positioning a real hammer to hit the flank of the lance during your own turn’s charge phase (in such a location that a lance that chooses not to overrun is still going to be flanked), you will have simultaneous charges. Since druchii have higher initiative (except for grail knights, who are still beat by witch elves, black guard and cold one knights), the charging flanking unit will attack first and lay some serious hurt on the lance. Witch elves with the AP banner, execs buffed by +1 attack from the CoB are both excellent hammers on their own while the PoK character or hydra will surrender the fewest wounds to the charging lance’s surviving models but even a block of spears will suffice as the anvil if the hammer is hard enough. A cold one chariot can actually form a surprise anvil (most people expect it to be used as a hammer) as its weapon skill, toughness and armour save mean it can survive the charge (except from grail knights) or, at worst, give up only 4 wounds. The lance flank is huge and the hammer can be 9 infantry or 8 cavalry models wide to hit the three Bretonnian knights awaiting them.

Another variation of the hammer and anvil is to use a stubborn unit as the bait. Keep a BSB nearby and let the stubborn unit handle the first charge and then counter charge. This is more expensive than the lamb approach and the stubborn unit must be of a robust size to survive the initial charge, keeping in mind that a lance of 9 grail knights with 2 characters can dish out 21 x S6 and 9 x S3 attacks on the charge.

The last part of the combat is the victorious pursuit. After breaking the lance, you will be forced to pursue due to hatred. For this reason, you may need to block your own pursuit path with friendly troops to limit the pursuit to prevent your own troops from exposing a flank. In addition, the blocking troops will auto-destroy the lance when it flees through them, making the round up of new slaves all the easier!!!


While it is generally best to be ready for any foe, there are times when you will be raiding Bretonnia directly and will not have to worry about any other foes. In these instances, you can tailor your own force to bring the most effective troops available. Simply decide on how you would best like to defeat the foe and choose your troops accordingly. Shades and harpies are must haves to assist in limiting mobility and redirecting charges or for taking out lines of peasant archers but after that depends entirely on personal preference. If you want missiles and magic, avoid blocks of infantry except for a large block of spears to provide extra power to the sacrificial dagger armed supreme sorceress. Want to go a combat route, a CoB and a BSB are must haves and the CoB can support elite, ASF infantry or hammer units such as cold one knights or hydras with the knights and hydras able to autobreak lances through outnumbering with a fear and/or terror causing opponent.

Mon Feb 15, 2010 4:42 pm

Joined: Mon May 22, 2006 2:13 am
Posts: 518
Very nice article, enjoyed it a lot.

I play against Brettonians so I have some input to beating them.

1. Delay, Delay! Most Brettonian players love to charge quick and hard and often on turn 2. The more you delay them getting into combat the more nervous they get and the more likely they are to make dumb charges. Brettonia has to win the game in the combat phase, if you take that away you steal the initiative.

2. Combined charges are your friend- yes this applies to everyone but must be emphasized here. In addition to very good armor and possible ward saves they also have very good passive combat resolution with various virtues and rank bonuses. Just charging straight up in the front isn't always enough and even a flank charge by some dark riders in the flank can tip the scales in your favor. Note: Do not do this against grails or questing knights as you are likely to give up more kills than is worth it

3. A sneaky trick to get the charge off against a lance is to park a unit of harpies or dark riders directly in front of it. They will charge it and you will flee- but will also get run down. This ensures that they will go their full charge distance- and right into your trap. All you have to do is set up your hammer roughly 18-20" away, far enough to avoid getting charged but close enough to charge them on your turn. I have charged many a lance this way and believe it or not our extreme mobility means that we can get off charges that otherwise seem unlikely.

4. Cauldron! Again not really specific against Brettonians but it can really help bolster your units to get past all that annoying armor. +1 Attack on Cold One Knights or killing blow on some corsairs or witches will put the hurt on them.

5. Surgery- Take their army apart one piece at a time. You are the surgeon and your army is the scalpel. Concentrate fire, concentrate combat ability and take out the smaller support lances first. In the later turns you can take out the larger lances with nothing to worry about.

May Khaine bless your blades when dealing with the Brettonians!

Mon Feb 15, 2010 7:54 pm
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Joined: Fri Mar 14, 2008 10:00 pm
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Location: Hag Graef
I took the liberty to reassemble the initial two posts into a single one, and add some colours, for the sake of being easier to read (Gee, it's good to have Mod's powers, sometimes!) It rather is, yes - Green Ninja.

Thank you, Stonecutter, for answering the call! :D
I will surely read again and again your counsels in order to improve my effectiveness against my son's overpowered Brets!

A few tricks to add, courtesy of champion_re and Stonecutter:

- Lord on manticore + the "no armoursaves" sword and bretonnians die by the droves.

- Otherwise a unit of executioners with death hag BSB (ASF banner) can take a charge from 2 lances and mince them to dust over a couple of combat rounds. (if you have a cauldron to make them stubborn and give +1A).

- Do not single bolt them. If we calculate short range we get:
6 shots --> 6*2/3*2/3*1/2*5/6= 1.11 knights killed
singe bolt --> 1*2/3*5/6*2/3 = 0.37 knights killed, and thus it's unlikely it will carry on and kill a 2nd knight.

- Run a hydra up to a non-grail lance and flame it at very close range so that it will be forced to charge you (remember, a hydra can march and still breathe). Toss in some extra shooting to reduce ranks so that the hydra will start combat down only 3 (rank, banner, outnumber). The lance will likely have to take 3 leadership checks (panic, terror and fear to charge). Even if they get in the charge, the hydra is very likely to hold with a BSB and ld 10, allowing you to flank charge with something next round.


There is plenty of additional wisdom in the following quote, from Lakissov

The most important strengths of Bretonnians:
- Resilience to shooting due to good armor and a ward
- Potent hitting power of the lance on the charge, combining both static and active CR
Additionally, their strength is high speed, which helps them deliver their lances where they are needed

However, Bretonnians also have a couple of very serious weaknesses that a dark elf army has the ability of exploiting:

1. Low manoeuvrability of lances; the lance is really big, so when you wheel it, the models in the back row move quite a lot, thus reducing the amount that a bretonnian player can move. Roughly, a 30 degree wheel means that the lance uses a bit more than 4" of their movement allowance. To turn 90 degrees, they'd have to use up 12.5" of the movement allowance. This means, that bretonnian lance are not good at recovering after having been redirected - if they are march-blocked, thy can only wheel a bit less than 60 degrees - which means that they'd have to use full reform or turn the facing and then reduce rank width (giving up 75% of movement).

How to use this? You do have units with good redirecting abilities - harpies and dark riders.

The trick of charging the rear with harpies doesn't always work - your opponent can succeed on the roll to restrain pursuit and just ignore your fleeing harpies. However, there is another trick with harpies - using them as a screen for redirecting. In essence, you put your harpies in front of the bretonnian unit in such a way that the bretonnian lance can't really move forward normally and either gets stopped or has to charge the harpies. The closest harpy visible to the lance should be positioned in such a way that the line from the center of the lance going through this harpy would go at a severe angle to the movement of the lance - preferably making an angle of at least 60 degrees. If the lance charges the harpies, then the flee move is made along this line, so the harpies fly away at an angle, making bretonnians pursue at an angle and exposing a flank.

A similar trick can be done with dark riders - but the difference is that for good redirection they would have to hold, not flee. You place the dark riders at such an angle of the battle line, that the line of flee and pursuit would expose a flank to the battle line. If the lance charges (if it doesn't, it should be prevented from charging anything it wants to charge), then it has to align with the charged dark riders, and then, when pursuing (and even if restraining pursuit), it will stay with an exposed flank.

2. The second weakness lies in the so-called "rubber lance syndrome". Bretonnian lances are formidable on the charge because of the combination of static and active CR, but, while the static CR comes regardless, the active CR is conditioned by the combination of +2S due to the lances charging and the ability of models on the flanks to strike, not only models in BTB.

Both of these active CR strengths disappear, if the bretonnians are not the ones making the charge (or if it's not the first round of combat). What we would look at in this case is just a couple of S3 attacks - nothing to be too scared of.

Additionally, some of the static CR can be negated - I mean the rank bonus. You can be almost sure to win the combat by 2-3 if you charge a 12-strong bretonnian lance with a 20-strong unit of warriors with banner in the flank (from static CR, you have 5 and he has 2, and he doesn't have too many scary attacks). Of course, if the lance contains the BSB of doom or a fighty hero who is going to get in base contact, then you need also to add some punch to the equation from your own side.

Thus, exploiting these two weaknesses would mean trying to do the following:
1. Try to use your manoeuvrability to divert the lances from charging you head on
2. Try to flank charge their lances with combat units of your own
3. When needed, make combined charges to be sure that the lance loses by 2-3, better by more, so that it would surely flee and get run down.
4. For 2&3 to work, you will also need to use your manoeuvrable units to separate the lances and deny them the ability to countercharge your countercharge.

Winds never stop blowing, Oceans are borderless. Get a ship and a crew, so the World will be ours! Today the World, tomorrow Nagg! {--|oBrotherhood of the Coast!o|--}

Mon Feb 15, 2010 10:34 pm
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