Why Play Bretonnia
Bretonnians are a tactically unique army with impressive models, interesting fluff and a fun playstyle. They currently have the most workable cavalry in the game but their units tend to run either overpriced (Knights) or under powered (Peasants). Still they're not as under-powered as some armies and if you can get them to work they will run roughshod over the competition: the army is highly mobile, most units have excellent armour and a ward save, characters are cheap and the magic items can make characters or units really, really good at something.
The army itself has evolved over the years from a rather straightforward charge-focused army to a combined arms force with cheap but effective shooting to wither down the enemy, knights who can outlast weaker infantry but have a potent enough charge to destroy smaller elite units when working together, as well as characters and specialized units to deal with the threats the knights cannot easily handle. Finally, they are regular humans who discard the technology of the empire and instead fight with faith and chivalry. And that is pretty badass.
Lords & Heroes
Note: Under the current edition, named characters tend to be overpriced; you can pretty easily emulate most named characters from scratch and save yourself some points. That said, a few named characters do have abilities and wargear or wargear combos unique to them, so if you absolutely need to have them, go ahead. Just make sure you're really getting your points worth.
- The Green Knight: An ethereal unit with M8, decently killy for price and with the ability to teleport. 2+ armour and the ward means he's reasonably tough against magic attacks too. Can lose wounds via combat resolution but he can also return each time (House rule: if you don't resurrect him with the immortal words "tis but a scratch" he is immediately removed from play). So why isn't he a no brainer? The issue with him is that he excells at killing things Bretonnia can usually handle well (cavalry and monsters, basically: things without static combat resolution) but sucks at killing the things that usually give you trouble (massed infantry, tho his Terror may help). He has his niche, but he shouldn't be a first pick. It is worth noting that he may have some use as a warmachine hunter also if there is a skullky wizard skulking around he can pop out of the nearest puddle murder them and then dash off into the nearest hedge.
- The Fay Enchantress: She has an incredibly high price of entry and given that one of the major advantages of a Prophetess is they're cheap, it's not usually worth it. On the other hand: +2 to cast Lore of Life is a great bonus, she grants 1 extra power and dispel dice every magic phase, she drops a random Lore of Heavens spell for free every turn and has a multitude of special abilities (fear, automatic blessing for your army,...). If you can pay for her unreasonable price of entry at say, 3000 points and up, she could easily be worthwhile. Not a great choice however.
- King Louen Leoncoeur: Cost well over 700 points when you put him on his hippogryph Beaquis. For all his cost, he doesn't do enough, especially against troops that have a decent leadership. He also does silly things to the rest of your army and usually not things you want to happen (eg. the entire army takes a panic test when Louen dies). Plus, for all of his cost, he'll get knocked out by someone who costs about 2/3rds of what he does. He may be fun to field against another hugely overpriced named general, but in terms of winning a battle: skip him.
Note: Bretonnian knights are already deadly as hell on the charge. Therefore, every character in your army, from lords to damsels, are best used to protect knights, help them get the charge or give them some killing power after the charge, NOT make the charge deadlier (although there's nothing wrong if they can do both).
- Bretonnian Lord: Basic combat Lord, nothing special. Magic equipment and Vows will be discussed elsewhere, but just be aware that any Lord or Hero you take should be kitted out for bear, as he can't refuse challenges without losing the Blessing of the Lady. If your enemy is aware of it he can and will use it to kick your Lord's head in, so he needs to be ready to resist challengers. This guy's basic function is to provide a LD 10 leadership bubble (give his unit the banner of discipline), so he has to have good survivability. After that, there are many options available to him, but favour character (and monster) killing potential over rank and file murdering, because the only other unit capable of damaging combat heroes/lords consistently is one of Questing Knights, and they are too expensive to lose against things that outright ignore their armour.
- Prophetess of the Lady: Prophetesses are your basic Lord level caster so all the usual rules apply: Always tick up to Level 4, protect her in a unit, usual shit. What's important to understand is that you are not, repeat NOT, High Elves, Tzeentch Chaos, Vampire Counts, etc. You can mount a solid defense and do okay on your own casting, but don't try to out-magic the big guys. Still, this gal's cheap and effective for her cost. They get the ward save from Blessing of the Lady just like your knights, plus an additional magic resistance(2). Lore of Life is a favorite, though Lore of Beasts can be used to create some nasty tricks if you build your army appropriately.
- Paladin: You are required to have at least one Paladin to act as your BSB. Apart from that, they're a solid combat Hero but be careful taking too many for unit babysitting. Remember, like the Bretonnian Lord, if they ever refuse a Challenge, the ENTIRE UNIT, ALONG WITH ALL THE OTHERS IN THE COMBAT, loses Blessing of the Lady, so you need to kit them out for combat, because with their basic statline, a lot of Heroes can kick their skull in (Empire, Beastmen, Skaven and Wood Elves are pretty much the only ones you don't have to worry about, and even Beastmen and Skaven can be threats under the right circumstances). Remember that with the lance, most units are forced to allocate at least two attacks to your paladin: this is usually to your advantage.
- Damsel of the Lady: Cheap and good for beefing up the LD of your background Peasants. Benefit the most from Lore of Beasts, always tick up to Level 2. They also get the ward save from Blessing of the Lady, along with magic resistance(1) that can't be lost. Scroll caddying and item bearers are fine. As with above, don't get drawn into a big magic duel with any of the magic-heavy armies, they can and will outcast you. But Damsels are still a damn (HAH) fine choice. While you usually want them in a lance of knights for support, they can be placed in a unit of Men at Arms or even Bowmen if you intend to roll power dice left and right for miscast damage control. Another note: it's usually a good policy to have the damsel take the same lore as the prophetess and roll for spells first, so you have the spells you need on the prophetess (mainly throne of vines if you pick life).
- Bretonnian Warhorse: You know it and love it. Most of your Paladins and Lords are gonna be riding these, so learn to love 'em.
- Royal Pegasus: It's decently priced and has a good statline, but you can't join units, which makes the Rider a bullet magnet. A paladin on a pegasus is not as effective as pegasus knights in most cases, but since without using a (mostly non-competitive) RAF you are limited to one unit of those, take him if you need two units covering the skies. Other than that, there are two reasons for taking a pegasus (and always on a paladin, never a lord). The most obvious one is to give him a bit more of a punch: the bloody horse has 2 S4 attacks and Stomp (the lower armour, 3+ instead of 2+, is mostly compensated by 3W instead of 2W, especially with lore of life). The other is to get yourself a wizard killer: a paladin on a pegasus, equiped with the gauntlet of the duel, can fly over the enemy, strike a mage's bodyguard and then force said hapless mage into a challenge (after killing the unit champion). He will then either flee combat or die, but it will be worth it for you either way, since dominating the magic phases is so important. And don't let your opponent trick you: even if you aren't in base contact with the mage directly, he will be forced to accept the challenge so long as he is in the unit in combat with the paladin.
- Hippogryph: Buckbeak is a good Hippogryph. Too bad it's not a good mount choice. It's expensive (200 fucking points, only 10 less than the Lord itself) and it's statline is strictly mediocre for such an expensive choice. It can do alright against basic units, but so could a bodyguard unit of Knights of the Realm that cost about the same. Nevermind that your EXTREMELY expensive Lord now has a target on his head the size of a 'worth 500 or so victory points' sign and that almost any other monstrous mount, from Manticores on up, will rip your Hippogryph's head off. Skip it. Except if you're playing just for fun. Then grab it.
- A note on monstrous mounts: Remember that they get the blessing of the lady as long as the rider has it too. While this doesn't make them any more decent in melee combat, if you want to troll your trigger happy dwarf/empire opponent, get a couple of bowmen, place them in front of the lord, and get him the insignia of the quest. Then watch him scream as two cannon balls are stopped by the fences and the third one triggers insignia of the quest. Bonus points if the ward saves the monster too. Again it isn't a competitive choice, but it's worth doing at least once for the amount of miniatures that will get thrown in your direction.
- Knights of the Realm: FAQ'd to remove the 1+ requirement, but they're not a bad unit, so it's alright either way. Best in units of 9, or rather 8 with a Hero/Lord, with a 2+ armour and the Blessing save, they're decently survivable. Beware, like all knights in this army, their striking power tends to run out after the charge and heaven help you if you get flanked. Still, overall a good core unit that should, through sheer perseverance, eventually route hordes of low S opponents.
- Knights Errant: Young, headstrong knights eager to prove themselves. Kinda like Silver Helms from High Elves, only cheaper with worse stats. While their Impetuous rule looks bad on the face of it, there are VERY few situations where you don't want these guys charging, and even if you do get pulled into a bad charge, you can usually do okay so long as you don't get flanked. They can replace knights of the realm as your main unit as long as you keep them near your BSB and general: otherwise their impetuousness may well cost you the game. Remember that one of these knights can carry an errantry banner while still remaining cheaper, meaning they are actually better against heavily armoured infantry (and high toughness buggers, particularly so when you take into account their immunity to fear/terror when they charge) for a lower cost. You can skip 'em, but taking one unit is helpful against most armies.
- Men at Arms: Yeah, they've got terrible stats. On the other hand, they can grab LD from a nearby unit of Knights (which, given that Bretonnian Knight units tend to be realy long is not as far as you might think it is) and don't cause panic to your knights. Also you can grab 4 of them for the cost of 1 Knight Errant. Their job is to grind through hard hitting units that your knights can't break on the charge, occupy buildings or move through difficult terrain. Beware: they are very ineffective for their points unless you give them the blessing via the Prayer Icon of Quenelles: then they become one of the meanest tarpits against S5+ units. The ruby goblet, while not as potent, can give a similar buff to a second unit. Without either, you are better off just taking knights.
- Peasant Bowmen: Throw enough mud at a wall... At 6 points a pop, with Defensive Stakes and Longbows, these are among the most cost-effective archers in the game. They work well in either minimum sized units, to help you in the deployment, or in 20 ish units to have some standing power (good units for casters if you want to spam power dice). And remember, any effort your enemy puts into killing them is effort not put into killing your Knights. Give them Braziers. It's less than the cost of a single guy and it means that they can fuck up Regenerating and Flammable units, cause fear in cavalry and warbeasts and get a reroll to wound against buildings. Also, never ever, ever, ever give them Light Armor or make them Skirmishers, or bother about musician or standard bearer. If they get into close combat they'll die anyway so don't waste the points. You should always take a few 10 men units, if only to protect the trebuchets behind them from shots/cannon fire.
- Questing Knights: 4 points more than a Knight of the Realm and all you get is 1 point of Strength (That does not require a charge and can stay at high str even after turn 1, making them ideal against unbreakable/stubborn troops). Oh and 1 point of Initiative, not that it matters. Under 8th, if you have Great Weapons you have to use them, meaning they'll Always Strike Last, oh really? Okay, so what's the good news? For one, the lower armour isn't that bad against S5+, when the blessing becomes important. Second, the fact that they strike hard even if charged helps them face high mobility units (silver helms, flying monsters). Third, they get to reroll fear/terror. These three factors make them ideal at protecting your flanks, where they will likely be away from the BSB and facing the likes of Vargheists and Chaos Knights. Even if they die, they will bring the pain to whatever attacked them. The icing on the cake is that their shields can be used for shooting, so they can't be shot off the field any easier than normal knights. Many players ignore them, but they do fill a role.
- Pegasus Knights: At 55 points a pop, you better be willing to sink some points into them. On the other hand, if you are they can be an absurdly deadly war machine/small unit hunter and can protect an entire flank on their own. 8th edition gave them a boost by giving them stomp, so on the charge each knight is dealing 1 S5 attack, two S4 attacks and one S4 automatic hit. With skirmish and T4, they are tough to kill too without resorting to magic. Do right by them, by keeping them away from things immune to their stomp and by making sure they only attack massed infantry when supported, and they will do right by you, guaranteed. Oh, and NEVER take a standard bearer. Losing 70 points for fleeing combat is not fun.
- Mounted Yeomen: They seem like one of your worst choices in the army because they compete with the vastly superior pegasus knights. However, this would be looking at them the wrong way: make them work WITH the pegasus and they become much better: their LD becomes 8, their shooting helps deal with the extremely annoying redirectors and you can safely take a standard without worrying about extra victory points. They can also grant cover to the pegasus or be shot in their stead, and both scenarios favor you. Also, unlike what is commonly believed, it is unlikely that they will lose combat against elven or dwarven warmachine crews assuming you take at least 6 men with a champion and buy them shields (still cheap enough to consider them). If you have the spare points, however, it can be worth to take a unit of up to 12 (two ranks of six) assuming, again, that they are working in synergy with pegasi.
- Grail Pilgrims/Grail Reliquae: At a glance, costlier Men at Arms with worse weapon options; they lose out on the Men At Arms' Halberds, and cost almost twice the cost , but in turn, have significantly better Leadership and a Ward save courtesy of them gaining the Blessing of the Lady if you pray. This gives these guys a go-to role as objective-holders and makes them pretty good screeners; their balls-out toughness (for a Peasant unit) is often enough to make weedier units think twice about fighting them. They are, however, very expensive for such a role, so make sure that whatever you use this unit for, it's worth it. Otherwise they aren't really worth it.
- Grail Knights: These guys can be uber destructive but oh BOY are they expensive (one of the most expensive Knight units in the game). While their worth has been somewhat reduced in an edition that favours massed infantry so much, they remain a great option to kill monsters and smaller, elite unit. Chaos Warrior statline means they are decent enough in prolonged combat too (although this is a waste of their potential and should be seen as more of a last resort). Like Questing Knights, their immunity to fear and terror helps them greatly in protecting flanks, although they cannot receive charges from monsters as well. Unlike questing knights, they can also be used in the center of your army to punch through enemy units or simply to intimidate your opponent. An option to consider.
- Field Trebuchet: Do you like winning? Then take this 90 point stone thrower that hits on S5(10). It's one of Bretonnia's only real weapons against Elite infantry who otherwise could tear your low Initiative Knight units apart. Hell, take 2, it'll still cost less than a single unit of Knights of the Realm. An excellent choice. If at all possible, place them behind bowmen so they get the cover from the fence and get the craftsman (to help with the indirect fire).
Building Your Army
Start with a BSB Paladin on a horse (dur), any other Hero/Lord character on a horse and a unit of 9+ Knights of the Realm. These are the basics of the Bretonnian army. After that do whatever you feel, use peasants if you want to recreate a peasant rebellion or a Crusades era army.
Buying Your Army
Unfortunately GW knows that you will need boxes of Knights to build your army, you will get neither enough in a single box nor a decent price. The basic plastic set can do either of the Core choices, but in typical GW fashion you will pay much more for Questing and Grail knights. Convert your own out of bits from the basic knight's box instead, the grail knights should be stripped down in terms of heraldry and you'll need to find a set of arms with two handed weapons for Questing knights, who also have less heraldry than Realm Knights. (Actually it's not that bad for Questing Knights. As long as the weapons you give them look big and chunky it doesn't matter if the arms you use are a pair. Putting a hand on the reigns or pointing heroicly will do fine.)
There is an alternative for those who love mass conversions for themed armies and that is the "Legion of the Grail Damned" route.
Basically you can use a large chunk of the Undead models from Mantic Games' Kings of War game as undead Bretonnians, they're way fucking cheaper than GW prices, they look very similar to French Medieval armour designs and the models can cover most of your unit types: the Trebuchet, Grail Reliquary, Pegasus Knights, Lords and Prophetess/Damsels of the Lady are the only ones you can't do, or rather you can but the model designs look less like fallen from grace and more like actively embracing the dark side.
Another route for obtaining cheap knights is fireforge games. They do; Teutonics (KOTR or Grail knights), Templars (KOTR or Errants), Mounted Sergeants (Yeomen) and Sergeants on foot (MaA/Bowmen as each pack comes with 24 crossbows) each box has decent size units (12 knight per pack and 48 infantry per pack), what makes it even better you say? They are also PLASTIC and come with a fuckton of extras for conversions (Questing knights?). All in all a perfect way to say fuck you GW! Although smaller than current GW plastics (what isn't?) they do scale perfectly with OOP bretonnians who can also be bought dirt cheap off ebay and used as grail knights... just an idea. Whilst I'm shamelessly plugging other miniature companies i have used in my own collection (proof) i might as well give a shout out to the lazy forger who does the best (and cheapest in terms of appearance at 10 euros) trebuchet on the market.
Another good thing to remember; if you use 3rd party miniatures in GW stores staff members will tell you to fuck off out the door and ban you, all before your models get out of the carry case. However, Perry Miniatures do some War of the Roses and Hundred Years War minitures that you *might* be able to pass off as GW archers- just don't draw attention to them. Actually who gives a shit, it's not like you'll play in a GW store anymore.
Aim for a majority of knights, Knights, Knights and Knights. You cannot play this army without Knights, so embrace the men of horse and steel.
Peasants are a secondary concern, but there's room in most armies for some Bowmen and Men-At-Arms. Grail Pilgrims are a solid flank unit.
Trebuchet are good take 2 and surround them with
- Vows of Bretonnia: Remember that a character may not join a unit with a vow higher than his own (ex: lord with knight's vow joining questing knights). Take that into consideration when planning your characters and their bodyguards. In addition, you won't confer the benefits of your vow to your unit, so you can't have Knights of the Realm immune to psychology (sorry).
- Knight's Vow: Your standard vow, it allows you to ignore panic from peasants (who are the most likely to run anyway). Nothing special, but it comes for free and most magic item options are available without the other vows, so this should be your pick unless you want something specific.
- Questing Vow: In addition to the Knight's Vow benefit, you can reroll failed psychology tests. This is mostly useless unless your battle standard bearer is far away or dead, but you never know. Still, there are two reasons to pick this vow: access to great weapons instead of the lance, which provide the much needed punch after the charge, and access to two solid magic items (check below). Also, remember that human initiative is crap compared to that of most other races and you don't have ASF, so always striking last isn't as big a disadvantage as it sounds, only not taking a shield is.
- Grail Vow: Immunity to psychology is good and so is being able to join grail knights. The vow also makes all your attacks magical attacks, which is mainly useful on paladins as your lord will most likely take magic weapons but still opens new combo choices for lords (for instance, you can take the virtue of knightly temper and still be able to take ethereals down). The grail shield is also a very solid defensive item (10 points cheaper than the talisman on the book). Overall a good choice, but it costs as much as a knight of the realm, so have a clear goal in mind when taking it.
- Virtues of the Chivalric Knight:
- Virtue of the Penitent: Oh boy, a more expensive crown of command that doesn't allow you to join units or take additional items? Yeah, skip it.
- Virtue of the Knightly Temper: A bit on the pricey side, but on a Lord, this one could really help you stack up the casualties. This is one of those virtues that can be really effective, but you need to build your army around it. With the savage beast of horros, you are looking at a lord that will kill 8 or more models on the charge, or an enemy general if you took the tress of Isoulde. This makes your lord excellent at obliterating small elite units like chaos warriors, characters and, most importantly, if you give him a morning star he becomes one of your best solution to dealing with units in buildings. Just remember that if he doesn't get the charge, well, you've spent 40 points for nothing. One of the few charge-only "items" that can be recommended.
- Virtue of Heroism: Received a righteous buff in our FAQ. Killing blow against all targets? And we can now take magic weapons with it? Yes please. This is a great way to not rely solely on trebuchets to deal with the toughest nasties while still providing a bonus against enemy characters. Take note that your lord is also the general of your army, not a killing-blow delivery system: builds like the armour of agilulf + sword of striking may seem fun, but if your lord does not survive long enough to kill the enemy then there is no point in bringing him.
- Virtue of Stoicism: Good for a flank unit that will be out of the range of your BSB. Mainline units should be in range of your BSB, so use this guy for peasants in the flank (assuming the enemy does not have template weapons), if at all.
- Virtue of the Ideal: Make your guy a chaos lord/exalted hero without the strength, toughness or armour in exchange for making his unit and all units near him more likely to break from a fluffed round of combat. He can't be the general either. It can work (namely on a paladin on a pegasus), but in most cases it's a pass.
- Virtue of the Impetuous Knight: Not a bad choice, not bad at all. Remember, if you don't get the charge, you're probably fucked, so anything that helps you get the charge is good. If your opponent moves up turn 1, this could help you get a Turn 1 Charge, which is always funny.
- Virtue of Audacity: Since the base Strength for a Bretonnian Hero/Lord is 4, this is only going to be worthwhile against Monsters and really nasty units (you wouldn't even get it against most Monstrous Infantry). That said, it works wonders against many lord-level characters that would otherwise give you trouble: chaos, lizardmen and vampires mostly, as well as dragon-mounted elves. Don't expect it to be of use every game, but it can be a lifesaver.
- Virtue of Duty: Once you've gotten the charge, you need to break the enemy and a free point of static CR (as long as your general is breathing) is always worth 30 points. That said, giving your paladin a better weapon so he inflicts more casualties usually does the same.
- Virtue of the Joust: Decent choice and not too pricey, can be combined with items like the lance of artois to make your charge more deadly. The thing is, Bretonnia needs help AFTER the charge, so you have better choices out there.
- Virtue of Confidence: Challenges are a place where Bretonnian Lords/Heroes need improvement, but I can really see this one coming back to bite you when you end up in combat with a Tyrant kitted out for Bloodthirster. Or waste all your lord's attacks on a champion that keeps coming back thanks to healing magic. It can be excellent, but it can also be exploited by some armies. The problem tends to be that in friendly games your opponent knows he can exploit you. In non-friendly games challenge heroes will murder the shit out of your lord and use his ribcage as an attractive toast rack. That makes paying anything for a challenge specific (and double edged) bonus has a hard time justifying it's cost.
- Virtue of Noble Disdain: Good for a Paladin on Pegasus who you want to go War Machine/Shooting Unit hunting.
- Virtue of Purity: Well it's paying 20 points to up his Ward save from 6+ to 5+. Probably not worth it.
- Virtue of Empathy: Very questionable. You never want a paladin on foot: their stats are just too crappy and they will become free points for the enemy without the 2 extra armour from being on a horse. So the only reason you'd take it is if you want to help peasants who are away from the General or BSB (who both have 12 range to their abilities already). That basically means it will only find use helping archers/trebs who are dead if they get sneezed at anyway.
- Magic Weapons:
- The Silver Lance of the Blessed: Holy Lady, look at that price tag. On average, you are hitting with two more attacks while not boosting your ability to wound/ignore armour for an outrageous amount of points. Losing this item if you lose the blessing doesn't help at all either. Like the Virtue of Knightly Temper, it has some great synergy with the Savage Beast of Horros, and it is in fact more reliable as it works every turn, but for the same price you could get the aforementioned virtue and the Tress of Isoulde. Or a sword of bloodshed which would provide more damage against non-hero enemies.
- Sword of the Quest: The mandatory "ignores armour" item of your army. It costs the same as the one in the Big Red Book, but the key here is that you can use it either as a one-handed weapon or a two-handed weapon, so it provides a good deal of versatility. An absolute joy to have against dwarven lords and the like. A Lord with this and the Gromril great helmet is equipped to deal with most things by either tanking (using a shield) or obliterating (using the weapon two handed).
- Sword of the Lady's Champion: An alternative to the virtue of heroism. Instead of being an all or nothing deal, this weapon allows you to reliably wound everything, so it can be used along with a knight charge or a trebuchet shot to deal with the most resilient monsters. Unlike the virtue of heroism, it is of little use against common soldiers (even against dwarves it's just an overpriced sword of might), and most lords immune to killing blow will blast you to kingdom come if you don't have a weapon specifically made to kill them (tip: this one ain't it). A decent weapon for dealing with monsters and very tough characters and while it can be better than the virtue of heroism in very specific instances, it's not as good overall.
- Sword of Heroes: Hmpf. Your third and final choice for dealing with high-toughness enemies and not nearly as good as the others. While it can be hilarious against T5 characters if the lady is on your side (as instant kills always are), not only does it not help against most enemies (like the other two do), but it is nigh-useless against really tough monsters. With the savage beast of horros or even a modest potion of strength you may very well kill even a star dragon in one turn of fighting. The problem is that unlike the virtue of heroism, there may be many games in which it will do nothing (even the sword of the lady's champion is nearly guaranteed to give you at least +1S in near every battle).
- The Heartwood Lance: Decent choice, makes your lord more deadly on the charge for a decent price, especially if coupled with items or virtues that allow him to hit more often. That said, during the charge against the rank and file, and even most characters, the cuirass of fortune does the same for a lower price, so this is only a better alternative in subsequent rounds of combat (when you are unlikely to wound on a 2+) or against tougher enemies. Works nicely with the virtue of heroism, if you don't mind skipping on defense.
- Birth-sword of Carcassonne: An all-around good choice. The extra strength is always welcome after the charge and the armor save reroll is not too bad either. Of course, if you know the enemy will only have 5+ armor saves, you are better off buying a sword of might or the like, but if you are running an all-comers list this is a good item to take, if only to help against characters who will likely have a decent (and possibly rerollable) save.
- Morning Star of Fracasse: A personal favourite and an absolute must when dealing with many enemy lords. Since your lords and paladins have a pretty good armor save and a ward save on top of that, usually the biggest threats against them are magic weapons that ignore armor or offer killing blow, and you can nulify these (usually much more expensive) items for only 25 points. The +2S in the first round of combat is always welcome too, since it works even if you are charged. Just make sure that you either strike first (hint potion of speed hint) or that the enemy character cannot kill you in round 1 (yeah, some of them can do that if you don't take care in with your defense/buff your character with magic).
- The Lance of Artois: Killing blow on the charge for only 25 points. Works best if you have multiple attacks obviously and if you can reroll misses (hint virtue of the joust hint). Same problem as all items that are useful only during charges. Really not much else to say.
- The Wyrmlance: It is a cheap source of a breath weapon that, sadly, cannot be used in close combat. However, it can work great in either a paladin on a pegasus or your battle standard bearer (who cannot take mundane lances, or any magic items if they take a magic banner) to mess regenerating units up: as long as he gets one wound in, the other knights, who strike later, will ignore regeneration as well.
- Magic Armour:
- Gilded Cuirass: Regeneration, you have to pay a bit more than most of those who have an equivalent item in their armies. Since regeneration no longer stacks with ward saves, ignore this and skip right ahead to the grail shield.
- Armour of the Midsummer Sun: Way too expensive on the average lord or paladin. That said, if you plan on taking a monstrous mount for some reason (there is no reasoning with you, is there, you just want to field that hyppogryph), THEN it becomes worth its points, as it will help protect your mount too.
- The Grail Shield: Upgrades your ward save to 4+ against all attacks for a very good price. If you want to boost your general defense, this (and the item we will get to next) are your best choices. There are two problems though: first, your save is already 5+ base against most powerful attacks (so you are paying for a somewhat small upgrade), and second, you have to take the grail vow, which does not cost against magic items points but does mean two less knights in the army.
- Gromril Great Helm: One of the best items in your armory, period. It allows you to have two characters with rerollable armor saves. Combine it with the crown of command and enjoy your enemy's tears. If you take this and the Morningstar of Fracasse you can hold characters on dragons for the whole game (especially if there's someone with the lore of life nearby) and even kill them if you take the virtue of heroism.
- Armour of Agilulf: An interesting item. Most enemy combat character will hit you on a 3+ while you hit them on a 4+. Now you've turned the tables around. You've also made yourself more resistant to melee attacks of non-elite infantry and cavalry (and heck, even some monsters). And for a low price too. Essentially, a compromise between offense and defense, don't expect it to be as good at deflecting blows as the gromril helmet, but in exchange it will help you kill things dead. As a side note, the Armour of Agilulf is far more useful when used on a paladin.
- Cuirass of Fortune: Pretty good. It's cheap, and on the charge it's basically a reroll failed wounds. Really, the only reason this item doesn't shine is Bretonnia has other very good choices in this category.
- Orcbane Shield: Take it if you are facing orcs, don't take it otherwise. Simple, no?
- Sirienne's Locket: Far too expensive. It seems like a good idea, but really the gromril great helm would do the same or better in 90% of the cases. The only way this thing can justify its points is if you decide to have your lord parade alone in front of a cannon to take shots instead of your unit. And even then, your opponent will fall for it exactly once, so you are saving at most two knights... which are cheaper than this item.
- Token of the Damsel: Meh. Can help you against a cannon ball or something, but are you really willing to spend 35 points to prevent the first wounding hit before knowing if your armor or regular ward save would remove it anyway?
- Insignia of the Quest: 3+ ward save as soon as you hit 1 wound? For 30 points? Hell yes! Also, nothing prevents you from healing those wounds afterwards. The only problem here is that it requires the questing vow, which prevents the use of lances, but otherwise this is a great item. This is one of the few items that actually works better on a paladin, as he will reach the 1 wound faster and your lord will likely want less risky (although not as balls-out powerful) defensive items.
- Braid of Bordeleaux: Too situational to be recommended. It can help you get a charge you otherwise wouldn't be able to (and if you charge a ranged unit they will have a hard time hitting you if they stand and shoot) and the bonus leadership can be handy. But, again, too situational.
- Dragon's Claw: Like the virtue of purity,
only for 5 more points you also get immunity to fire. This one might actually be worth it if you don't have anything else to spend your points on (how did you do that?) due to the amount of breath weapons and flaming attacks in this edition. FAQ states it no longer grants immunity, but a 2+ ward save vs flaming attacks. The dragon helm in the book is 15 pts cheaper, grants extra armor, and doesn't lose effectiveness if you lose the blessing. So unless you really love virtue of purity, skip this.
- Mantle of Damsel Elena: The Morningstar of Fracasse usually does the same and then some for only five points more. The Mantle does protect you against the few killing blows that don't come from magic weapons and from poison, so it's not a bad item by any stretch (it costs about as much as items that grant immunity to killing blow in other armies). The problem is that it will not make your defense by itself and may leave you with too few points to spend on offense, but it's always fun to have a lord hold a horde of grave guard or bloodthirsters for a game.
- Enchanted Items:
- Falcon-horn of Fredemund: Another one of those "what were they thinking?" expensive items. Now, it is true that flyers are faster than your knights, but remember that they are usually either too weak to deal with our knights or, if they are too strong (think star dragon), they are incapable of breaking you since you are steadfast and will have something akin to a 5+/5++ save. Not to mention you have the virtue of the impetuous knight, which is cheaper and works against non-flyers. This is not to say this is not a solid choice if you have points floating around and it can really mess an opponent's plans, but never take a hero just for this item. (The Horn made more sense back when the army book was written, at that time all fliers moved 20 inches instead of 10, but couldn't march, and as charging wasn't randomised then they could pull of 20 inch charges. Then add in that most fliers had infantry level ground movement and you can kind of see where they were coming from. Still very situational even then).
- Holy Icon: No. If you want protection from hostile magic, get one more damsel, as this item is far too expensive. A paladin with this costs almost as much as 6 (!) errant knights while having far less hitting power and sustainability. That leaves the lord, since he has a higher budget. So now you have a lord more resistant to magic, except you'll likely have to keep him out of combat against serious opposition (even some combat heroes) since he just spent half of his magic item points on this item. And we are not even taking into account how nerfed magic resistant got this edition. So no, avoid like the plague. Considering the fact that the paladin is a mandatory "choice" and you WILL be taking one regardless, the holy icon really only costs as much as 2 knights errant, not 6. The holy icon is also much cheaper then taking an extra damsel (30 points cheaper in fact). It's not the best enchanted item out their, but it can be useful.
- The Ruby Goblet: A potentially interesting item. Since your knights have elven toughness this item is more useful than it would be for, say, chaos, but it is held back by the fact that it requires you to lose models for it to take effect (although you can always use regrowth later). This means that it would only get its points back in a very large lance or in a unit of men at arms, but unlike the prayer icon of quenelles, in order to get the benefit on the unit the damsel would have to follow the unit to combat, which will likely lead to painful results for you. On the other hand, it can be used to troll gunline armies and turn the tide against great weapon wielding units.
- Mane of the Purebreed: You know you are playing Bretonnia when you have an item that boosts not your soldiers but your horses. This is an interesting item. In a typical lance against most infantry, this item will on average get you one or two kills. This is not enough to earn its points back, but the edge in combat resolution may be what you need... assuming you are able to remove steadfast in a single charge, which will not likely happen unless the unit in question is of Grail Knights or a 12-15 men lance. Thus, it competes with the more reliable virtue of duty, and should only be taken in the two cases above.
- Antlers of the Great Hunt: Not really needed, you can usually catch enemy infantry anyway and if you need to use this to catch enemy cavalry you have to consider if you are not getting too far away from the main battle line. Not a terrible choice, but you can do better.
- Tress of Isoulde: Fun little item. Since Bretonnian WS is not very high, you will hit most characters on a 4+, so for 20 points you are basically doubling your hits for one turn. As mentioned before, it combines well with the virtue of knightly temper against a single target (whatever it is you are targeting, 4 hits at S6 that generate additional hits BEFORE SAVES will hurt). While it only works for one turn, it does not have restrictions like the virtue of the joust and the virtue of confidence (which basically do the same in certain conditions), so whether you take it or not is a matter of preference (and if you have not used those up in another character). Extra points if your unit has the razor standard (Bye bye monster/any lord without a 3+ ward save).
- Gauntlet of the Duel: Interesting item combined with the virtue of confidence. While this seems like a pretty fun combo, the problem with it (and to expand a bit on the aforementioned virtue) is that not only can you get stuck facing a big bad while the rest of your unit does nothing, but you have no control on who accepts the challenge. If the unit has a champion, well you just wasted your uber lord/paladin's charge killing a miserable champion. This is extra fun if your opponent can restore wounds to the unit. It can be put to great use, just don't count on it to always work.
- Arcane Items:
- Silver Mirror: Like the feedback scroll, only better (unless a truly enormous amount of dice were used, and even then this item has the advantage of dispelling besides dealing damage). Sadly, you cannot take two to troll your opponent, but this is a great item as long as you have some way of dealing the remaining one or two wounds (a trebuchet, archers or yes, a feedback scroll). If you do not, then this item is still useful to have two auto-dispels per game, which can really ruin the day for some armies (a vampire player who is suddenly unable to resurrect a single warrior for a turn may well have to rethink his game plan and force his hand).
- Sacrament of the Lady: This item does not exist and neither does this entry. Or you.
- The Verdant Heart: A fun item, but sadly very expensive. Our FAQ says it only effects enemies now, so that's a plus (it would be kinda ridiculous otherwise) and in the right circumstances can be a real thorn on your opponent's side (is he really willing to risk a unit to kill a bunch of archers with a damsel/prophetess? And, if he is, isn't that an advantage for you?). The +1 to lore of life spells is fun too. But again, it costs a lot and requires the terrain to be in your favor, but it can make your bunker all the more fun.
- Prayer Icon of Quenelles: The good stuff. Have you ever wanted to turn your men at arms into a true combat unit? Then this is where you should go. As long as you have a big enough unit (why yes, even horde), they WILL hold anything with 5 or more strength. Since they will survive long enough to attack back, they will also hurt whatever bastard dares to attack them (never underestimate an absurd amount of S4 attacks). A very, very solid item for a good price. They also become better at dealing with lots of low S attacks, but in this case you should take spears instead and the item isn't as effective (6+ instead of a 5+ save), but remains decent.
- Chalice of Malfleur: The Russian roulette of dispel. While it does not guarantee a dispel like the scroll does, it works every turn, so it has the potential of being far more useful for a lower price. It also has the potential to kill you. So yeah, take this if you are confident the Lady will be with you.
- Potion Sacre: Cheap, and you can never argue with cheap, can you? Since it can no longer prevent a miscast, it is not as high a priority as it once was. Still, the chance to turn a normal spell into an irresistible force (or a failed spell into a successful cast) is very good, even if you can do it only once per game. Take it if you can spare the points.
- Magic Banners:
- Banner of the Lady: Too expensive. +3 (at best) bonus in combat resolution is not worth 100 points especially since it does not remove steadfast. It might be fun from time to time in friendly games but should be avoided in tournament lists.
- Valorous Standard: Don't bother. It's too expensive and you already have good leadership: just keep your units near your bsb and you will do fine.
- Banner of Defense: Not a bad choice for a unit of Grail Knights, or for your Battle Standard Bearer if you don't have any Grail Knights. Artillery is a big threat to knights even with the blessing and anything you can do to lessen its danger until you charge is welcome. The problem is that you already have a 5+ save against artillery, and against magic missiles you're better of getting a damsel. Still, far from terrible.
- Twilight Banner: No, not a statement that you love horrible movies and books. It is, in fact, a rather nasty banner that will catch many players by surprise: few people expect twelve knights to go through impassible terrain and right into their army's flank. If you have the spare points, take it.
- Conqueror's Tapestry: For its cost this is a great banner, and on a unit of grail knights it can really help you get the extra edge you need to win. Still, banners that actually help you win combat take precedence.
- Errantry Banner: If you take knights errant and don't take this, you are doing it wrong. True, their initiative is not great, their WS is not great, but their high armor and the blessing and the lance formation (which ensures low frontage) means that at least a few knights will get in S6 attacks. That's enough to ignore the armour of most infantry and wound on a 2+. A must have.
- Banner of Châlons: For its price it is incredibly effective, as it will help stop armor piercing ranged weapons and if you save even one knight you are earning your points back. Another recommended choice.
- Know your limits - pretty much your main concern in the magic phase should be protecting yourself. Knights have terrible statistics for their points and a single Purple Sun can earn your opponents tons of points, and the last thing you want is to charge an infantry unit with 3 knights kept alive by the power of love. Accept the fact that many armies will shut your magic phase down, not only dwarves. So for the love of the Lady, take damsels, even if you want to keep them level 1. They can do fine on foot with your peasants but if you have an expensive unit (like grail knights or a particularly large lance) take a warhorse (don't bother with barding) and send her with your knights: she is protected from combat due to the marvel that is the lance but she will still be able to cast spells (just don't spam dice to get the miscast) and has line of sight (FAQ) but, more importantly, she will provide precious magic resistance to the unit (which in the current edition isn't anything otherwordly but is still helpful: think lore of light). Now that you are protected, before you can do decently on your phase you'll have to kill the enemy's casters. Fortunately Bretonnia has her pegasus: a suicide unit of pegasus knights or a suicidal paladin (possibly with the lance of artois and virtue of the joust) are a price worth paying for being able to cast spells at will and to negate the enemy as well. As for your own spells, lore of life is a favorite and should be taken by at least one damsel, preferably by a damsel and a prophetess for that sweet sweet throne of vines -- dweller's combo. Beasts of course has the very useful buffs for your relatively weak characters/knights and is in no way a bad choice (also, you are the horses: you'd be surprised how much difference +1S makes with all those horse attacks on the charge). Heavens is interesting because your army has low static resolution (again, unless you like large lances) and only one unit with magic weapons, so the damage spells are a good way to deal with ethereals like Hexwraiths, and are a godsend against flying redirectors.
- Prayer: Using Religion to Smash Face - Pretty much you should be praying to the Lady every single battle. Yes this does give your opponent a significant advantage but remember that many players who play defensive armies would rather you go first. The Lady's Blessing gives you some major buffs to units that are already pretty good. Those Knights of the Realms now get a ward save, meaning your basic Knight unit, the most common unit in your army, is now harder to kill. Losing the blessing sucks but its good while you do have it, and because the conditions for losing it aren't exactly signs of an impending victory you shouldn't get worked up if you do lose it.
- Dysentery, or the power of the lowborn: Many Bretonnian players ignore the peasant units (other than the trebuchet) and to be fair it's not hard to see why: they are slow moving units in a fast moving and generally offensive army, made all the worse by the fact that their leadership is miserable if they are away from the knights. Unlike the shinier nobles, they also die to a swift breeze and deal low damage. However, each of them (with the exception of Mounted Yeomen) can do something that no other unit in your army can. The role of men at arms and pilgrims was already discussed: they are the only units in your army that can die without you caring. Sometimes the best way to deal with some units is simply to send these peasants their way: a horde of men at arms with the prayer icon is more effective than the pilgrims but will suffer without a knight nearby, while the latter are more independent and start with the blessing (and stubborn to replace the steadfast). Archers fill a completely different role. While they are still expendable, they are even squishier than the other two and their higher price (compared to men at arms) means they should not be used the same way unless absolutely necessary (but DO charge a unit that is threatening your knights if you can get away with it). Besides the already mentioned distraction and light ranged damage, there are two things archers can do: they can help you in the deployment, and they can scare your opponent. Now, starting with the latter as it apparently makes no sense: who would be afraid of such weak ranged units? Well let's say you have then fire against a dwarven warmachine crew. Statistically speaking, they will deal very little actual damage, but the warmachine is expensive, and the dwarven player does not want to risk losing an expensive unit to a few lucky shots: you've forced your opponent to deal with a throwaway unit, and you've gained an advantage. Using bowmen against expensive units that are relatively squishy is a good bet. The other use for bowmen is to take them in 10 men units, since unlike men at arms they can still do their job in low numbers. Place them first during the deployment: your opponent will have to place at least a few of units vital to his strategy and, since you are deploying your knights after them, you can place your own important units to counter them. So, while your peasants are not vital to your army and you can play Bretonnia without them, they offer you new tactical options and are far from useless. As always, play your army your way, but don't shut your eyes to potential opportunities.
- Using the Lance: The lance is essentially unique amongst warhammer formations and most of your hammer units need to form it in order to be effective. Minimum viable size for a Bretonnian Lance Formation is usually 9 or so (even Grail Knights are liable to get hammered in lower unit sizes) Here are a few tips about using it:
- Mind the Flanks: The usual minimum viable size for a Bretonnian Knight unit is 9 guys in 3 ranks of 3. A Cavalry model has a flank as long as 2.5 to 2 and 2/3rds the size of a usual infantry unit, meaning a 3 by 3 unit has a flank the length of a unit of 7 to 8 ranks (for context, instead of 9 models, they would have a minimum of 35-40 models). What does this mean? You are ABSURDLY vulnerable on the flanks. A unit that gets pinned doesn't get lance formation, is easy to break it's ranks and will generally start to take casualties REALLY quickly. So you need to watch the fuck out on the flanks. Pegasus Knights on the flanks are great at discouraging small units but will crumble in the face of dedicated combat units above a certain size and strength (20 man units of High Elf special units, for example, will fuck your shit up). This problem can largely be avoided by playing a multiple small unit army, since knights are surprisingly effective tarpit and a lance of 9 is not that expensive.
- Minimum Frontage: The Lance Formation is only 3 guys wide which, aside from compounding the above problem, gives you reallllly small area you can draw line of sight in. This only comes into play with fast moving MSU armies (Elves mostly) but it can cause issues. Seeing you set up a next turn charge could cause a unit to go marching out of your Line of Sight and you wheeling to try and get them back in could screw up your battle line or leave you open to flank charges. A couple ways to avoid this is to stay far off (the farther you are away, the larger your line of sight) and to not be too proud to take a charge you're not as fond of. Unless it's not a fight you can win, taking the charge you want less is better than losing the unit wheeling around too much.
- Lance Size: Most people prefer lances 9 men strong. Smaller lances generally can't beat anything (ranged units aside) on the charge and their only possible use would be to tarpit things with the knight's 2+ armour, a job that is best reserved for the peasants. Bigger lances have a few advantages. The first is the ease with which they break steadfast: a 15 men (including heroes if you want) lance will generally remove steadfast from nearly every elite unit that costs the same as them. They can also lose a few models without losing their efficiency and have a good synergy with items like the mane of the purebreed and the ruby goblet. The problem is that you will have fewer units, which means that you really have to make the most of the charge, trebuchets and archers to rout the charged unit on round 1 of combat, or you will be flanked and destroyed.
- Dealing with Infantry: In the age of the infantryman the Bretonnians have suffered, but not as much as some people would have you believe. However, you do have to play smart because a bad charge will, at best, get your knights stuck in a pointless combat against a tarpit or, at worse, kill your expensive unit. So, know how to identify what kind of block you are facing so you know what you can use against it.
- Deathstars: By "deathstar" we mean an extremely large unit of potent troops that is often the center of the opponent's strategy. These often have at least one character, often multiple strong ones, and have many ranks so they can have steadfast even after losing a lot of models. An army could technically have multiple deathstars, but this is usually to your advantage as such an army has extremely poor map control and little flexibility. In any case, your opponent expects you to engage this unit, so don't. I don't care what you think your grail knights will do, they won't break them on the charge and then they will get slaughtered. Focus all your trebuchet fire and dwellers bellow on it but otherwise don't engage it unless you must. If you must, delay them with a mob of men-at-arms with the blessing. The knights should only attack if the deathstar is weakened enough and there are no other threats. The only exception is a suicide unit if killing a specific character in the deathstar is worth losing the unit.
- Tarpits: Tarpits are units designed to keep your units busy so, again, try not to engage them if you can. The problem here is that, unlike deathstars, tarpits are relatively cheap so you will likely have to deal with one of them sooner or later. How you do so depends on the tarpit. If they are a horde of weak, cheap units, soften them up with archers and then charge with a unit of knights of the realm. The knights will have to grind through it but they are unlikely to suffer losses and as long as they are not flanked they should win combat and eventually break the enemy (key here being eventually). We do not recommend men-at-arms simply because most tarpits are more cost-effective and have more ranks, so the low leadership peasants will cost you. Grail Pilgrims, on the other hand, work well. The other kind of tarpit are things like warriors of tzeentch with shields or dwarven hammerers. These are taken in smaller units and survive by not taking damage (warriors) or by being stubborn/unbreakable (the latter). These should be avoided at all costs by the knights and like the deathstars make good trebuchet targets. In melee they are good targets for men-at-arms, especially if they have the blessing, as they will lose combat but, being cheaper, will have steadfast and won't break for a decent amount of time, and with their halberds they might just deal some damage back. In a pinch, as mentioned before, send your lord: even the likes of white lions/hammerers will struggle to hurt 1+/1+/5++ when only 3 models can attack.
- Elite Infantry: Warriors of Khorne, Saurus Temple Guards, Black Guard. You know 'em, you hate 'em. These guys are expensive but not enough that there are so few on the battlefield you can ignore them. They usually have good initiative and/or armor, two attacks and good strength and leadership. And they are still cheaper than knights errant! These guys are of course still good trebuchet targets but the two former kinds of infantry take priority and thus you will be forced to fight these guys. Men at arms will simply be butchered and knights of the realm will lose models even before they attack, and after the charge it will quickly turn into a massacre. You have three options to deal with these guys. The first is to multicharge. This is the worst of the three because you lose the advantage of the low frontage of the lance formation, but you might just kill enough to break them. The second option is a "massive" unit of Knights Errant. Yes, it is expensive but a unit of 15 knights errant with a damsel with the mane of the purebreed will beat a 25 men unit of khorne warriors with halberds and remove their steadfast at about the same cost while taking relatively few casualties. Not a lot of units can do that. The third is of course grail knights. They are more vulnerable than chaos knights but on the charge they pack the same punch or more by virtue of the lance formation and since they benefit from ranks they can actually remove steadfast on round 1 of combat. Flanking with questing knights is great but of course depends on you outmaneuvering the opponent.
- Other Infantry: As the name says, your average infantry. Not too cheap, not too expensive, not too deadly, not too weak. These are the ones you want your knights of the realm targeting, on the charge they will deal decent damage and, as with weak tarpits, will grind through them eventually. Multicharging works great here and two units of knights of the realm can punch through the enemy lines if they choose their targets right. They will likely deal little damage to your 2+ armor save and WS4 and ward save. The exception is infantry armed with ranged armor piercing weapons. Either flank them with pegasus knights, or have one of your units carry the banner of Châlons, otherwise your knights will die before they even get close.
- Heroic Wall - The lance only requires three models to count as a full rank. Bretonnian paladins and lords are dirt-cheap. What does this mean? Well, it means that you can protect your T3 knights from melee attacks by making a wall of characters. This is mostly useful for questing knights (and is the only way I found to make them a competitive and not mostly fluff choice), but can work on non-grail knight unit (because the grail vow costs a lot). Get a paladin with an enchanted shield and a dawnstone, another with the insignia of the quest and finally one with the Gromril great helm. If you want to be safe from characters, upgrade one of them to a lord and get him the morningstar of fracasse. You still have to watch out for attacks that ignore armour of course, so unless you want this unit to dine on all of the enemy's cannon balls from turn 1, give the enemy other desirable targets (preferably with other characters)and don't make the unit too big. Again, 6 questing knights + characters, with a unit of grail knights in the army, is a good idea. Ideally, have a damsel with life nearby (but not in the unit: don't want to lose those S6 attacks!) to recover the odd wound or with beasts to make the unit stupidly dangerous. And the best part? This unit does not lose effectiveness if charged. If you don't have the spare points, two characters also work, as the enemy will be forced to either attack them or the unit champion (against whom the extra attacks are wasted).
- Agincourt Gambit - You are Bretonnia. You have the cheapest longbowmen in the game and 6 points a pop can buy you a lot of arrows. Your longbowmen are the main killers of your force, you knights in position to counter charge and hammer units that have been softened by arrows. Your enemy will focus on the knight since, obviously!, that is the threat of a Bretonnian army, when it's the archers that will whittle down his units so your knights can lance them to bits.
- Dealing with Undead - These armies are unbreakable by default. This leave you with some issues in that while you will most likely win the first round of combat you will get mauled trying to finish off the unit. The best way to deal with them is unit by unit. Crush each one completely before moving onto the next. As far as kill priorities generals and Wizards should be at the top with things like Grave Guard or other elite infantry avoided or blapped. Challenges are a very unwise move unless you are ready to face one of the strongest duelist champions/lords in the game, the other being Chaos lords/champions.