Use the pointy end!

An excursion into the Phalanx unit for Age of Fantasy (OPR) by Jachymor

The spear, as both a tool and weapon, is so engraved into Human culture, every toddler instinctively
knows how to use a long stick to poke another human. In combat, this expresses a need to poke
someone from a safe distance without getting poked back. In Human military history, rows of
professional and exceptionally long spears dominated the field of poking until gunpowder-poking
was invented. Silly intro aside, I will explore the Phalanx rule and unit applications in Age of
Fantasy. I hope you find this entertaining and maybe inspires you to field pointy pokers yourself –
or how to counter them.

General Observations

The Phalanx rule is a defensive ability which punishes and discourages charging. The charger loses
Impact, Furious and similar skills. Also, they must take a difficult terrain test, with possibly up to 21
dice! This means the attacker loses a lot of damage potential while also getting weakened before the
fight even starts. This makes blocks of spears decent “anvils”, which either can take a melee charge
or block paths to more vulnerable units.

The average Human spearmen unit comes in at [10] 5+/5+, 1A Phalanx for 110p. Phalanx comes at
a steep price of usually 30p per 10 models. But even with competitive rules, you can easily combine
units and usually add a hero for more skills, but more on that later. However, most armies are
limited at one Phalanx unit type. Offensively, this unit is lackluster, with base 10 attacks on a 5+.
We can expect 3-4 hits against full defence. However, these units can always be upgraded with the
usual command units to get a 4+ attack and +2 to combat resolution. And since Phalanx only works
when the unit itself is charged, it would be a waste to attack with that unit itself. Right?

On a strategic and psychological level, few units would be willing to charge a Phalanx unit. A
perfect counter would be units with Regeneration, to lessen the impact of the Dangerous terrain test,
and units with Poison, which works regardless of charge. Trolls come to mind and other similarly
buffed monsters. Shooting is a natural counter to Phalanx as well. This way, we have a sort of rockpaper-scissors design: Spears defeat Knights, Knights defeat Archers, Archers defeat Spears.But most other units will try to avoid a unit with Phalanx anyway.

This grants the Phalanx a vital strategic advantage of “being left alone”. Even better, a careless opponent might even leave other
melee units within charge range, oblivious to the potential danger emanating from the pointy
pokers. Allow me to show you a few interesting combinations which can be achieved within Age of
Fantasy to turn your defensive roadblock into a spiked wrecking ball.


Examples of Offensive Phalanx

Staying with the Humans to set a baseline, we can add a Champion with Spear and Cleric upgrade.
A spear is required, since all models in a unit need the Phalanx rule for its effect to apply. Even if
just one model doesn’t have Phalanx, the entire unit forgets how to point their spears forward. But
this is a necessary rule, so a single model with a spear doesn’t negate an entire charge for the whole
unit. Secondly, the Cleric upgrade grants the entire unit Furious, basically doubling its damage
output. Let’s look at the unit:

Champion [1] Q5+ D5+ | 55pts | Hero, Tough (3), 1x Cleric (Battle Chant)
Spear (A3, Phalanx)

Infantrymen [20] Q5+ D5+ | 220pts |
20x Spears (A1, Phalanx)

This way, we have a unit with 23 attacks, but incredible 44 attacks on the charge! Even with Q5+,
this equates to an average of 14-15 hits for 275p. You can add a command unit for extra flair and get
a smooth 300p, which fits perfectly into a 1000p list. This unit is both hammer and anvil,
“unchargeable” and a serious threat to charge with, with enough space. But wait, there is more!
The Goblins come around with more customizable units and heroes than the Humans! A Goblin
Leader with Brewer in a unit of Cave Warriors results on this lovely stabby bunch:

Goblin Leader [1] Q5+ D5+ | 55pts | Hero, Tough (3), 1x Brewer (Magic Potions), 1x Cave-
Clan (Furious)
Spear (A3, Phalanx)

Warriors [20] Q5+ D6+ | 210pts | Cave-Clan (Furious)
20x Spears (A1, Phalanx)

Trading Defence for Magic Potions, this unit deals 44 AP1 attacks on the charge for 265p, 10p less
than the Humans. An incredible deal! Alternatively, make the Leader a Shaman to grant the Poison
rule to this unit, although on a 3+ and one fight only. The Poison rule is very powerful and highly
debated. It will probably be nerfed, but for now let’s see what Poison can do.

Skeleton Leader [1] Q5+ D5+ | 65pts | Hero, Tough (3), Undead, 1x Venom Expert (Poison
Spear (A3, Phalanx)

Skeleton Warriors [20] Q5+ D5+ | 220pts | Undead
20x Spears (A1, Phalanx)

The Mumified Undead grant you 23 attacks with Poison. While harder to shift due to Undead, the
Poison will average in 7-8 hits + 4-8 poison hits. Of course, this is reliant on 6s, which either never
turn up or roll all the time, so the potential damage can be lower or higher than Furious. As a bonus,
Poison is very effective to counter Combat fatigue and grants your unit punch even after it already
fought. A neat 285p package. Alternatively, give the Leader the Herald ability for unit-wide Furious
and grant Poison through a Wizard to wreck whatever your unit looks at.

Examples of Defensive yet Fighty Phalanx

Some units of Phalanx are quite hard to shift, yet can still dish out some damage. These unit
configurations trade offensive for staying power. Their use is to keep areas under lockdown, but
with the option to pitch in if the need arises. Apparently, the Ghostly apparitions can wield spears as

Grim Leader [1] Q4+ D6+ | 85pts | Ethereal, Furious, Hero, Tough (3), Undead, 1x
Executioner (Grim Reaper)
Spear (A3, Phalanx, Reap)

Ghost Horde [20] Q5+ D6+ | 270pts | Ethereal, Undead
20x Spears (A1, Phalanx)

Reap causes enemies to suffer an extra wound for each 1 rolled when defending. The 7-8 hits will
cause more damage than expected, especially to high defence units. Additionally, Ethereal grants
Strider, Regeneration against most damage and Stealth. With Undead, this unit will take a lot of
work to remove, but is also quite expensive in return for 355p.

The Eternal Wardens have a very interesting spear-unit, being both smaller and barely buffable by
their own heroes. However, their base stats are rather good and have a decent price. This unit works
well on its own and might be a useful ally to fight on your flanks:

Guardians [10] Q4+ D4+ | 170pts | Fearless
10x Spears (A1, AP(1), Phalanx)

5 average hits, decent defence and Fearless, but with a maximum size of 10 models and no Heroes
with spears, this unit is probably best used as a cheap defence with enough punch to dominate other
base units. However, the Kingdom of Angels can top the mix of offence and defence:

Champion [1] Q3+ D4+ | 85pts | Hero, Regeneration, Tough (3), 1x Judge (Harsh Master)
Spear (A3, AP(1), Phalanx)

Infantry [20] Q4+ D5+ | 330pts | Regeneration
20x Spears (A1, Phalanx)

Harsh Master grants +1 to hit in melee, regardless of charge. Instead of increasing the amount of
attacks, the Angels go for quality combined with Regeneration and a 3+ Moral test. I wager 13 hits
plus 2-3 AP1 hits are reasonable, while the unit itself is well-suited to counter other Phalanx units.
The price tag of 415p means you can only field half a unit in lower point games, though.

‘oo ‘as ‘da best stikkas?

Oh, that is strange. What does that title mean? Looks Orcish to me, but that can only mean…


When it comes to variety, the Orcs offer three different spear units in different flavours and sizes.
With army-wide Furious or even Frenzy (+1A and +1AP on the charge) and Heroes granting either
extra Speed or To Hit bonus, the Orcish spears gives your opponents two reasons to not get into
melee with them. You don’t want to charge them, but you don’t want them to charge you as well! To
show the variety, I didn’t combine any units:

Orc Boss [1] Q4+ D4+ | 100pts | Furious, Hero, Tough (3), 1x Chieftain (War Cry)
Spear (A3, AP(1), Phalanx)

Wild Leader [1] Q5+ D6+ | 55pts | Frenzy, Hero, Scout, Strider, Tough (3), 1x Chanter
(Violent Trance)
Spear (A3, Phalanx)

Orcs [10] Q5+ D5+ | 125pts | Furious
10x Spears (A1, Phalanx)

Wild Orcs [5] Q5+ D6+ | 75pts | Frenzy, Scout, Strider
5x Spears (A1, Phalanx)

Brute Orcs [3] Q4+ D4+ | 125pts | Furious, Tough (3)
3x Spears (A2, AP(1), Phalanx)

You get big and small Orcs, nimble and fighty Orcs and can field a potentially all spears army. These
green hedgehogs might be vulnerable to ranged attacks, but they can get into melee quickly and will
win these fights for you. With War Cry, you can add +2”/+4” range to your move and charge, while
Violent Trance grants +1 to hit in melee. A Shaman can even grant the useful Rending or even more
speed to your Boys. Who would have thought that the most unruly rabble fields the most diverse
and fastest phalanx?

Interestingly, the Beastmen have two different spears units. While the Hunters can give you one of
the rare Strider Phalanxes, the Warriors are the real force to be reckoned with:

Beast Lord [1] Q3+ D3+ | 75pts | Furious, Hero, Tough (3), 1x Despoiler (Bestial Hatred)
Spear (A3, AP(1), Phalanx)

Warriors [20] Q4+ D4+ | 340pts | Furious
20x Spears (A1, Phalanx)

These Warriors come at 4+/4+, Furious and may attack two extra times per 6 rolled thanks to the
Beast Lord. Offensively, you will get loads of hits in at a hefty price of 415p. For massed
infantry, this unit may be the gold standard for killy pointy sticks. However, if you prefer scales to
fur, check out the Saurian Warriors:

Saurian Veteran [1] Q3+ D3+ | 90pts | Fearless, Hero, Predator, Tough (3), 1x Temple
Protector (Ancient Wrath)
Spear (A3, AP(1), Phalanx)

Saurian Warriors [20] Q4+ D4+ | 330pts | Fearless, Predator
20x Spears (A1, Phalanx)

Predator is similar to Bestial Hatred, but granting just one extra attack per 6 rolled, while Ancient
Wrath grants Furious. They trade a bit of offense for Fearless for just 5p more. Ultimately,
you have to decide what kind of spears you like best, but at least you are spoiled by choice.

In conclusion

The Phalanx upgrade comes in many different flavours. You are able to field fleet, tough or stabby
warriors which protect themselves on the offence. Phalanx means more than just a guy with a long
stick. Being able to stop charges from any side is a mighty tool to set up charges yourself or force
the enemy into engagements unfavourable for them. This turns the static spearline into a flexible
and dangerous unit, able to claim and hold objectives or challenge the opponents big hitters.

A fully upgraded and stacked Phalanx unit makes an impressive and effective core unit. Supported
by ranged attackers and agile ambushers the opponent will soon find themselves between a rock and
a cactus. Most factions can deploy a Phalanx unit, but I focused on a few especially noteworthy
examples. Feel free to check other factions for their version of a “spiky meatball”. So enjoy the
crazy hedgehogs you can field and torment the charge-heavy armies with your unassailable moving
fortresses. Just beware regenerating monsters and ranged attacks yourself.


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