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Why you Should Play Zarbag's Gitz, and Why you Shouldn't

Zarbag's Gitz are a unique warband in Warhammer Underworlds. With a wizard, a net wielding cheerleader and a fighter who almost defies description, they have a playstyle all of their own. But it can be something of an acquired taste. Should you throw down for the Gitz?

Positioning and Passivity
The Gitz are one of the best warbands in terms of being able to score glory without rolling dice. Their high model count, Scurry-based shenanigans, and in faction push cards, make them ideally suited to playing the objective token game. Further, their low wound count means there’s little in the way of incentive to bring fighting upgrades, leaving plenty of room to invest glory boosting ones such as Hero’s Mantle, A Destiny to Meet, Slumbering (and other) Keys, and Katophrane Tomes. All this combined with some recently released objectives (Calculated Risk, Warning Shot, Shortcut) which can be easily and immediately scored, mean that few warbands have as reliable a Glory Engine as the Gitz. Given how reliably they can score, your opponent is going to have to do well even to keep pace with you, let alone getting in front.

The Gitz also reward good positional play. Now, I can’t claim to be anything like a master in this area of the game, but the sheer number of models leaves lots of opportunity to set up supports, create chokepoints and generally disrupt the opponent’s play. As Tony Field (an LA based Gitz player of some repute) pointed out on the Path to Glory podcast, Dodge based fighters may look weak, but with a single support it’s as good as a shield, but with immunity to cleave. Factor in the second dodge Gitz get when they’re inspired, (Except you, Drizgit. Sorry) a pair of goblins supporting each other can keep the world at bay. Leading to…



You’ll always be That Other Guy (or Woman)

Everyone likes Goblins. Part of that is a hangover from AoS/Warhammer where Goblins are largely comic relief, and have a well-deserved reputation for being almost maliciously incompetent and having a life expectancy somewhere between Spinal Tap Percussionist and Die Hard FBI Agent. The models nicely convey underdog status too- In a world full of massive Orruks, Masculinity-So-Fragile Stormcast, and the Batsquig’s hired muscle, 7 shaved chimps in bathrobes and two angry cabbages won’t strike fear into anyone. That’s laying it on somewhat thick, but what I’m driving at is that there’s rarely going to be anyone who doesn’t want to play against the Gitz, and that’s a deadset advantage.

Now, I’ve not used either warband, but I imagine the tournament experience of Mollog and Cursebreaker players can be somewhat isolating. Either you’ll smash opponents flat, and endure the moaning of the other player or your dice will abandon you and you’ll need to grit your teeth through some victory celebrations dripping in catharsis.  Casual play is likely even worse – you’re That Guy (or Woman). Not so with Goblins.  The Gitz are full of interesting rules, and despite being a strong faction, aren’t likely to disrupt an opponent’s plan too much. You’ll maybe find that you end up scoring more than your opponent, but unlike Mollog, you won’t burgle their agency, doing so.
Play the Gitz, and suddenly you’re That Other Guy (or Woman). The one that’s super fun to be around and always finds something to laugh about. Everyone smiles around you. You’ll make friends and influence people. Best of all,  you will evoke seething rage in That Guy/Woman, silently hating you because you remind them of exactly how dead they are inside.


The Imperial Guard Effect

Call them Astra Militarum if you will, but anyone who has played 40k will know the effect I’m talking about – Guard players will celebrate their successful armour saves (5+ on D6), whereas Space Marine players (3+ on D6) will rage at their failures. The same thing happens in Underworlds. I’ve seen more than one player go on tilt when their leader or favourite fighter is taken out (or in the case of Mollog players, concede). Not so with the Gitz. Unless you’re playing Acolyte of the Katophranes and your Git is carrying the complete works of J. R. R. Katophrane, you’ll either shrug as one is taken out, or score Martyred and then shrug.

The Gitz are the largest warband in the game. This can be a weakness, which we will get to later, but also one of the warband’s biggest strengths: The more models you have, the more activations the opponent will need to kill you, and perhaps more importantly, the more models you will have remaining to achieve your objectives. There are precisely three other warbands in the game that could lose 4 models and still score Supremacy.

Why Shouldn’t You play Gitz?

Blood for the Blood God??
A fundamental reason not to play the Gitz is that the playstyle isn’t for everyone. Michael Carlin made the point on What The Hex?!, that as many Underworlds Players have a 40k or AOS background, Aggro warbands are very much the default play style, and many players, particularly newer players, tend to perceive the game through an Aggro lens. If that’s you, then you’re unlikely to gravitate to 2 wound fighters who do 2 damage maximum.  If you want to equip Tome of Offerings to your Leader and rampage through your opponent’s territory like an Industrial Orphan Machine, you should probably look elsewhere.


Goblins don’t pay taxes, but they sure do die.

Losing Goblins is inevitable. They’re gonna die. Anywhere between 3-7 casualties is a normal day at the office for the Gitz. Given the fundamental injustice of the core rules of Warhammer Underworlds, i.e., that a dead Dibbz gives up as much Glory as a dead Mollog, this can be a Very Bad Thing.  That’s not to say there aren’t ways around it, of course. The Gitz are particularly vulnerable before they gain their second defence die upon Inspiration, and as such, you should strongly consider using Last Chance and/or Rebound early on, if you have them in hand. This is doubly true if you’re facing Mollog or Magores or another Warband whose source of early glory is killing folks.  Other ways to mitigate the glory you might give up include the ever-reliable Martyred (basically a must-take card, as you’re highly unlikely to be doing much killing youself), and Crown of Avarice which has been FAQ’d into relevance with the determination that the reaction occurs AFTER the opponent gets glory from the kill. This is huge, as unlike Martyred, which effectively gives both players +1 glory, Crown of Avarice results in a two glory swing. It’s best on Skaven or Skeletons, but we like it very much too.

The Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Fortune.



Remember how I said how reliable Gitz were without needing to roll dice? That’s a good thing, because when it comes to rattling the bones, they can struggle. Offensively, the warband really struggles to make a mark. Zarbag and the archers require Swords to hit anything, Snirk is entirely at the mercy of bad dice, and while the squigs’ Inspired attack profile is amazing, getting them Inspired is, in my opinion rarely worth it. All told, you won’t be doing much in the way of damage with Attack Actions; and how much you do with Snirk will largely depend how willing you are to take a gamble. Myself, I tend to be quite risk averse, and so my Snirk often doesn’t wrack up many kills.
Speaking of Snirk, his three defence dice can seem impenetrable, but there is nothing so fickle as a defence dice.  While casualties should be seen as a fact of life for the Gitz, when their black dice blow hot or cold, it can be somewhat frustrating for the player that is on the wrong side of the odds. Occasionally, one goblin will soak up a tremendous amount of punishment, and make it to the third end phase with all scrawny limbs more or less in place, other times Zarbag or Snirk won’t survive the first blow thrown their way.  It’s really important to keep your plans flexible and to remember that even though you have lots of fighters, it’s best to keep them alive by avoiding any unnecessary risks.

The Basis of an Analysis Paralysis Crisis

The Gitz have a lot of moving parts. Maximising Scurry, plannning Keep Them Guessing, plotting potential Snirk paths and even choosing which fighters need to be activated within a round can seriously tax your mental faculties. Even when you’ve been playing them for a while, you’ll still realize too late about something you could have done better or a play you could have made.  This is true of most warbands, but the sheer number of options presented by the Gitz can be off-putting for some. As ever, your play will improve with experience, but if you like to have a straight-forward game plan, or if you’re prone to overthinking/slow play  you may want to look elsewhere.  

Similarly….
Deployment can be hard

At the time of writing, there are three warbands that will occupy each starting hex on a standard Warhammer Underworlds board. All three suffer from a very obvious problem. Your opponent will know that someone must be deployed in each hex. Aggro Warbands can set up on the leading edge of their board, safe in the knowledge that they will be in charge range of something – or worse, if they’ve set up the boards, they might start next to a Git! This problem only becomes more glaring when you consider they’re much more likely to win the roll off for first turn. That’s not to say there aren’t advantages in this situation too, as you’ll have three objectives to deploy, and if they’re overly eager, may have the last activation in the first round, great for moving onto objectives!


In addition, Scurry is arguably the most restrictive of all three of the 7+ model warbands’ movement abilities (for reference, the others are the Sepulchural Guard Warden’s ability to move 2 friendly fighters, and Varclav the Cruel’s ability to push all friendly Chainwrasps), as only the Gitz’ ability hinges on where models begin their move, making effective deployment crucial.  It is my intention to devote a future article to Gitz specific deployment strategies for various boards.



In conclusion

Gitz are an incredibly fun, diverse and engaging warband to play with and against. They score glory like no-one’s business, and are capable of absorbing a few casualties without effecting their overall performance too much.  On the other hand, they’re not exactly the most heroic of fighters, and their playstyle may seem gimmicky to some. They can drop like flies if the dice go against you, or weather an absolute pounding if you’re on a hot streak; and the options can seem a bit overwhelming early on, but if you persist, you’ll likely have 9 friends for the rest of their (very short) lives.


Please stay tuned to this blog, I’ll try and keep content coming fairly regularly.  The next article is likely to be a review of Power Unbound, and what it brings to both the Gitz, and what implications it has for them in terms of supplying the other warbands.

 Also feel free to reach out over Facebook or leave a comment below.

Cheers

Rowan




Comments

  1. I've played the Gitz for while, but couldn't make them work for me.

    First build was a flex build, but I found I couldn't kill enough or stay alive long enough to get enough Glory.
    The second, which I threw together lastminute for a tournament, was a Snirk-centric Tome deck. Even in games where everything came together, I was scoring 21 Glory. That's great, but my Gitz-playing opponent scored 24...

    I've retired them for now, but they'll undoubtedly return. I'm particularly keen to see you write about some of the more divisive objectives: Pure Carnage, Malicious Kill, Mad Scurry. Keep Them Guessing is still great, but with the arrival of both Calculated Risk and Warning Shot, I'm not sure that Change of Tactics still makes the cut.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The gitz are currently my favorite warband for most of the reasons that you have already gone through, no one feels bad about a chance to flatten some goblins! The other guy will inevitably smush a few gobbos from the board and walk away with a smile regardless of the out come.

    I have been finding that the gobbos play a great aggro game in terms of working the support game to stay alive while dealing out reliable damage with weapon upgrades. Scurry makes for some excellent counter punch situations where a goblin can bring his own supporting fighters to really make some high odds attacks.

    I like the idea of trying the dice less glory game, I am just a little leery of letting my opponent pick every engagement to see fewer supporting fighters. Goblins on their own can get pounded to paste with some reliability, where as a ball of goblins supporting each other skews defense dice very favorably.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great article! I have recently returned to playing Gitz because more than other warbands they offer the possibility of playing at multiple speeds simultaneously, achieving passive goals in the back keeping the offensive with drizgit, squigs and snirk. I wanted to ask you what you think of the Volley caller card. At the moment I'm testing it because, after the latest FAQ, it helps me to achieve "Keep them guessing" easily even though Scurry no longer counts as an action.

    ReplyDelete

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