New crossbows and rifles, do you use them?

Dear fellow generals,

As my main army is humans, I was exited to learn our shooters have been buffed quite a bit last Clash of Kings. Our crossbows (and their upgrade -rifles) have lost the Pot Shot! rule after they lost the Reload! in 2nd edition. This is quite a buff, as our shooters now can move-and-shoot and still hit on sixes. (in contrast to sevens, which used to be the case). This same rule also applies to Basilean crossbow men at arms, dwarf ironwatch and many others.

My question to you: do you actually use these new units?

Recently, I’ve been toying with a new army, a classical pike-and-shot army which features the newly buffed pikemen in conjunction with a horde of riflemen. (This army needs some fast-moving support from knights and the KoM flying heroes to work well, but that’s another matter). My army started out with a horde of bowmen which have since then been upgraded to crossbows and then to rifles and I must say I’m not disappointed.

They will do damage even to heavily armoured units if left alone (averaging 4 wounds to def 5+ if not in cover, 2 if in cover) and their nigh nerve means they stick around unless serious resources are diverted to kill it. That said, it’s over 200 points which is very expensive for what they do. Their saving grace is that they unlock.

A wizard + pegasus + alchemists curse will do more for fewer points, but requites an unlock. It’s that I don’t have the unlocks at this moment that this is not an option.

I’m curious how you look at this and if any of you use the new ranged weapons?

Finally: I’m bothered more than I should be by the moniker “rifles”.
A rifle is a type of firearm that was not used for war until the late 18th century (first used in the American war of revolution, 1775-1783) an does not fit the midieval-renaissance theme Kings of War has. The firearms used on the European battlefields during the 15th-16th century were either arquebusses or muskets. The latter has the musket-and-bayonet implication of the 18th and 19th century, which makes it (IMHO) unsuitable to the Kings of War “feeling”.

In 2nd edition, this unit was named “aquebussier” which is the correct name. I’m not sure why it changed, but probably because a lot of people couldn’t pronounce it. If this is the case, why not name it “handgunner” or simply “upgrade the unit with firearms/matchlocks/handguns” instead of the incorrect “rifles”.

I realize this is a form of history nerd bother, but as long as I’m not name calling, why not? :stuck_out_tongue:


Think generally that non-specialized infantry shooting is pretty poor, even after the removal of potshot.

To easy to shut down, not good in combat (at least dwarf ironwatch equivalents are competent line troops).

Back when you could buff shooting I’d often use a handgunner horde, but now the most I’d run is the odd xbow regiment as an objective sitter.

Agree really with the naming convention point, especially as the mounted sergeants upgrade is to blackpowder weapons?


I used them a few times now and the results are kinda weird. Here’s my battle line of pike-and-shot, using hordes of guns, pikes and polearms to complement each other.

Pike and shot armies are possible these days and can even approach competitive levels. (at least, for Kingdoms of Men levels, that said). It requires some thought to be built well and can take some armies better than others.

My first observation is that two hordes of shooters are too much. They take up too much space to be used effectively. Their damage is pretty low for a 225 point horde (~4 wounds vs defense 5+ on the best of days) anyhow and jockying for space would invalidate them pretty much always.

That said, these shooters have wonderful synergy with an infantry line, especially when combined with artillery. The combination of pike-regiments/hordes with long ranged artillery and static 24" shooting makes for a great battle plan.

My only gripe is that our shooting is too unreliable. stealth/cover is easy to come by, so our 5+ shooting is invalidated too easy.* This led me to switching the artillery out for balistae and lightning-wizards. I just have no alternative for the human handgunners which I do need for this kind of army. That blasted 5+!. At least there’s something to be said for upgrading bowmen to crossbows or handguns these days.

*The widespread availability of stealth invalidates both the cannon and the siege artillery. These days it’s either 4+ or nothing at all.

The tests I’m running whether to run this kind of army with humans or elves.
Humans use pikes and polearms, shooters are handguns and arbalests and the army is supported by two regiments of knights for the counterpunch and the inevitable general on flying beast.

Elves use spearelves (lack ensnare, damage is higher due to elite, point cost is comparable), archers (Better average damage than rifles at cheaper point costs) and bolt throwers (20 points more expensive for elite) and the counterpunch is stormwind.

As I see it, the human pikemen are superior to spearelves due to ensnare and waver migitation, human balistae are better than elf bolt throwers (cheaper) and the general on winged beast is much better than the lord on drakon. On the other hand elven archers are much better than human handgunners and stormwind is better than the human knights.

For now, I’m running this army with Kingdoms of Men, even though the handgunners suck balls, but I have no alternative. Unless, of course, there’s a tournament that allows allies, but this is exactly the reason why these are skipped.


Nice looking army mate.

One of the better combined arms armies now is actually halflings. 18" handgunners with steady aim (so threat range is 23" v 24" but more mobile); spears over pikes but cheap; blackpowder cavalry and artillery; poachers are gladestalker equivalent and nothing KoM have is comparable; engineer is a great support hero.

I will look at the halfling list one of these days. You make a solid point why they do this better than humans.

That said, I own a Kingdoms of Men army and can -possibly- borrow an elven one. Playing halflings would require me to paint a complete new army and a horde army at that. Since I have four 2k+ armies already (and a few smaller forces), I don’t think I’ll be starting another anytime soon.



I definitely welcomed the removal of Pot Shot, but it took me a while to get around to actually testing it, and I just got my first game in with a Crossbow horde in the other day. (The report itself is here and forum thread here for details.) I had a bit of a combined arms approach as well, with the Crossbowmen, three balliastae, two infantry hordes, some Knights, Giants, and flying Generals. I think the humans need the fantasy elements to compete – monsters and such are pretty strong.

Unfortunately, I did not use the Crossbowmen very well. Fortunately, they still managed to do ok, landing some decent chip damage and surviving into the late game to help me with the scenario with their unit strength. I don’t think the human versions do enough to justify a second horde, but I could see the Dwarfs experimenting with two, since they are more effective fighters and can better punch back if chaff is charging in to disorder them.

Also, I’ll second the opinion on the Halflings. I played an Ambush game in an escalation league against some recently, and while the shooters were not all stars, their mobility is a huge asset and the army has a lot of impressive synergies with their auras. I am excited to see how they do in the league going forward and they seem like fun to pilot.