Defenders of the Free Cities
In the sea of Chaos, Death and Destruction that is the Mortal Realms, the Cities of Sigmar are scattered islands of Order. Behind their walls, humans, aelves and duardin work together to spread civilization and reclaim the Realms for their God-King Sigmar.
The first of the Cities of Sigmar to be represented in Warcry is Hammerhal: A twin city located both in the Realm of Fire and the Realm of Life, with a Realmgate portal acting as a bridge between the two. Like all Cities of Sigmar, the Hammerhal military consists of both sturdy duardin, skilled Aelves and ranks after ranks of Freeguild humans.
If you want to fight for the ordinary people of the Mortal Realms with a mixed force of classic Warhammer miniatures, this might be just the warband for you!
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Background and Lore of the Cities of Sigmar: Hammerhal Warband
Hammerhal is the most famous of all the Free Cities, and serves as something akin to a capital for Sigmar’s holdings outside of Azyr. Its two parts, Hammerhal Aqsha in the Realm of Fire and Hammerhal Ghyra, keep each other alive: Nothing can grow on the Great Parch where Hammerhal Aqsha is located, so it is dependant on food deliveries from Ghyran, while Hammerhal Ghyra is kept from being consumed by the evergrowing forests of Ghyran by a moat of molten rocks from Aqshy.
In the same way that the two realms make up the foundation for the existence of Hammerhal, its military is a diverse symbiosis of different martial cultures.
Human soldiers from the Freeguild companies of Hammerhal fight like a European Rennaisance army, with ranks of pikemen, warriors with greatswords and other disciplined melee infantry advancing under a blanket of covering fire from simple rifles and crossbows.
Plate-covered duardin of the Dispossessed clans fight with axe, shield and gunfire, singing their Khazalid hymns and grumbling about the declining quality of enemies to fight nowadays.
Aelves from the Darkling Covens and the nomadic Wanderers are as opposed to each other as day and night, but both factions lend their martial skill and deadly blades to the defense of the place they call home.
All of these diverse fighting traditions come together in warbands that are rarely as brutally powerful or durable as the foes they meet on the battlefield, but their faith in Sigmar and the fact that they have everything to lose inspires them to band together and conquer impossible odds shoulder to shoulder.
Let’s have a look at their fighters and abilities first.
Overview and Points for the Fighters in the Cities of Sigmar: Hammerhal Warband
Note: if you haven’t read the basic rules for Warcry before reading this article, it might be helpful to know that the game’s abilities are activated by using 6 dice that you roll at the start of your turn.
If two of the dice show the same value, they can be used to activate a Double ability. If three show the same value, they can be used for a Triple ability, and so on.
So, when this article refers to an ability being a Double, a Triple or a Quad, it refers to this system. It might sound a bit confusing, but takes no time to get used to when you start playing
There are 18 different fighter types in the Cities of Sigmar: Hammerhal Warband roster, and they fall into the following categories:
Freeguild fighter types (55-200 points):
There are 10 fighter types from the Freeguild in the Cities of Sigmar: Hammerhal Warband roster:
The Freeguild Guard comes with three different weapon loadouts, as well as a Leader version.
Freeguild with spear: 65 points
The Freeguild Guard with Spear costs 65 points and is the cheapest fighter type in the warband. Like all the unarmored Freeguild fighters, it has a low Toughness of 3 and a decent 10 Wounds, as well as a standard move of 4. Its best feature is a 2 inch Range spear attack with 3 attacks and a critical damage of 4.
The combination of range, number of attacks and a high critical damage for such a cheap fighter makes this fighter type something I think most warbands should bring along. They’re expendable, but with the right positioning (and dice-rolling) they can do more damage than their points’ worth.
Like every Cities of Sigmar: Hammerhal fighter type, they have access to the Double Reclaim for Sigmar which gives them extra Strength and Attacks near objectives, which is a very good Double ability for them, since near objectives is exactly where you’ll want them. They also have access to the Quad ability Righteous Purpose which gives the fighter and one fighter within 3 inches of them a bonus melee attack action. This is also a very good ability, but since it’s a Quad, it’s better to use it on a couple of stronger fighters than the basic Freeguild fighter.
Freeguild with haldberd: 75 points
The Freeguild Guard with Halberd costs 75 points, and it’s identical to the Spear version with the exception of an extra point of Strength (increasing it from 3 to 4). Since the basic damage of its melee weapon is still 1, this isn’t a great improvement, so only take these over Spear fighters if you really like the look of them (or have some spare points for the upgrade).
Freeguild with sword and shield: 80 points
The Freeguild Guard with Sword and Shield costs 80 points. It doesn’t have the Range of the other Freeguild fighters, and it does less critical damage, but it has a Toughness of 4, which can be boosted to 5 by the Leader ability Form Shieldwall, which effects fighters with the Bulwark Runemark like this one.
The shield-carrying Freeguild Guard is one of the cases where I think Toughness can actually make a difference. You have to be within 3 inches of the Leader using the Form Shieldwall ability to benefit from its bonus, so it’s clearly designed for a Leader’s bodyguard to survive for an extra round so the enemy can’t get to the Leader.
Having a Toughness of 5 is good in this case, since the enemy will often send their best fighters at your Leader, and elite fighters often have a basic damage of more than 1, so you have to beware of more than their critical damage (which ignores Toughness). In short: This fighter type is good for protecting Leaders, and for holding objectives if accompanied by a Leader.
The Freeguild Sergeant: 130 points
The Freeguild Sergeant costs 130 points, and he is the cheapest Leader of the Warband. He has most of the same statistics as a Freeguild Guard with Halberd, but with 1 Range, 20 Wounds and a normal damage of 2. He has access to the Leader Double ability Form Shieldwall which I just described in the above paragraph.
He also has access to the Triple ability For Sigmar and for Hammerhal, which gives a +1 to Attacks characteristics for melee attack actions made by friendly fighters within 6 inches of the Leader until the end of the battle round after the Leader takes down an enemy fighter. This means the Freeguild Sergeant needs to get into melee to trigger this ability, which is a bit of a problem since he only has 3 Attacks, 3 in Toughness and only 20 Wounds. He is neither strong nor durable enough to be a reliable “lead from the front” Leader, so if you’re going for a Freeguild Leader, I would recommend the Guild Champion instead (see below).
There are two Freeguild Greatsword fighter types in the Cities of Sigmar: Hammerhal warband, a standard version and a Leader version.
Freeguild Greatsword: 95 points
The Freeguild Greatsword costs 95 points. It shares most of its characteristics with the Freeguild Guard with Sword and Shield, with the one exception that the Greatsword’s damage is 2 normal damage and 4 critical damage, rather than 1 normal and 3 critical damage.
This a decent elite fighter profile for its points cost, even though the Wounds characteristic are a bit low. What sets it apart, though, is its access to the Double ability Pulverising Strike, which adds half the value of the dice roll used for the ability to the damage of each critical hit from this fighter’s next attack action.
Even though it is a bit high-risk for a Double ability (it might do nothing at all if you don’t roll any critical hits), I think this is a really good ability, especially if you can get it to synergize with your Leader’s For Sigmar and for Hammerhal ability to gain a +1 to Attacks. You’re not going to pull it off every time, but since it’s only a Double, you can almost always try, and suddenly having a critical damage of 6 or 7 is amazing for a 95 points model!
Guild Champion: 175 points
The Guild Champion costs 175 points, and is the same as the Greatsword, but with 4 Attacks and 20 Wounds. Like the other Freeguild Leaders, it’s not that durable, but having access to Pulverising Strike as well as the general Warband abilities and the Leader abilities makes him a very versatile Leader for his points cost. I would always recommend him as your Leader if you want one from the Freeguild Roster.
There are 4 different Freeguild Fighter types with ranged weapons:
Freeguild Crossbowman: 80 points
The Freeguild Crossbowman costs 80 points. It has two different attacks: A 3-16 Range attack with 2 attacks, 3 Strength and a critical damage of 3, and a 1 Range melee attack with 2 attacks and a critical damage of 2. The melee attack is mostly a last resort, but the range on the crossbow attack is good for the fighter’s points cost, even though it will rarely do a lot of damage on its own.
The Crossbowman has access to the Triple ability, which lets you add half the value of the dice rolled for the ability, rounding up, to its ranged Attacks characteristic for its next attack action. If you have a high Triple roll, this has a chance to improve the damage output of the fighter by a great deal.
Freeguild Handgunner: 80 points
The Freeguild Handgunner also costs 80 points, and is almost the same as the Crossbowman, but with shorter Range (3-12) and a higher Strength of 4 on the Ranged attack. This isn’t a significant improvement as long as the standard damage is still only 1, even though you will do a bit more normal damage on average but at closer range, so take the Crossbowmen if you’re planning for long range combat, or the Handgunners if you just like them better (they do look a lot cooler in my opinion).
Marksman with Repeater Handgun: 145 points
The Marksman with Repeater Handgun costs 145 points, and is a Handgunner with an extra Attack in both melee and ranged combat, as well as 20 Wounds. It has access to both of the Leader abilities, as well as Volley of Shots, and it looks great, but I wouldn’t recommend it as a Leader since the Leader abilities are tailored for melee combat, and its ranged damage output isn’t anything special.
Marksman with Long Rifle: 200 points
The Marksman with Long Rifle costs 200 points. Tactically, it’s hard to recommend it as a Leader: It only has 1 Attack in ranged combat; it’s not tailored for melee, so the Leader abilities are largely wasted on it; it’s not very durable, and it’s pretty expensive.
However, it’s ranged attack does have a Range of 6-20 and a normal damage of 4/critical damage of 10 (!!), so if you are in range of an important enemy and roll two critical hits on a double attack action, you have a serious hero moment on your hands. Most of the time, that’s NOT going to happen. In fact, there’s only a 2,7% chance of pulling it off and a 97,2% chance of doing no damage, some normal damage and/or one critical hit, but if you’re a “never tell me the odds!” kind of player, I’m guessing you’re already planning to bring this guy along in your warband.
Unless you see the release of the Cities of Sigmar Warcry rules as a chance to finally field your old duardin of aelf miniatures in the game, the Freeguild fighters are your best bet for the core of your force. You can get a lot of versatility from just a Freeguild Guard box and a Handgunners box, and with Pulverising Strike, the Greatswords are fun to bring along as well.
The main downside of the Freeguild fighter types is their low Wounds characteristics. Even the Leaders go down fast, so deploy them carefully and use your Range, both on missile weapons and spears, to your advantage.
Dispossessed fighter types: (95-190 points)
There are 4 different Dispossessed duardin fighter types in the Cities of Sigmar: Hammerhal warband roster:
There are 2 different Dispossessed Ironbreaker fighter types in the warband:
Ironbreaker: 95 points
The Ironbreaker costs 95 points. It is quite simply the same as a shield-wielding Freeguild Guard with a 5 in Toughness, 1 less Move and 2 more Wounds. It’s all there is to it. This means that Form Shieldwall will make it a Toughness 6 for a battle round, but as Iron Golems players will know, high Toughness on low Wounds fighters is rarely worth it.
This doesn’t change the fact that these are beautiful models (recurring readers will know I am a big fan of Games Workshop’s duardin models in general) and that a shieldwall of Ironbreakers will look intimidating on the battlefield. Take them along if you need duardin in your life or you’re facing opponents with high normal damage values.
Ironbeard with Drakefire Pistol and Cinderblast bomb: 175points
The Ironbeard with Drakefire Pistol and Cinderblast bomb costs 175 points and utilizes some of the weirder bits in the Ironbreakers kit: It has a pistol attack with 8 Range (no minimum Range!), 3 Attacks and a critical damage of 3, and a bomb attack with 3-5 Range, 2 Attacks, and normal damage of 2/critical damage of 4. He also has 22 Wounds and access to the Leader abilities.
While it might seem odd with a short-range missile fighter Leader for the Ironbreakers, it does mean that he can stand behind a shieldwall and hopefully do double attack actions with his good bomb attack. If he manages to kill off an enemy fighter with these attacks, he can buff the Attacks of his defenders with the For Sigmar and for Hammerhal! Leader ability. I would still prefer a Guild Champion to the Ironbeard as a frontline Leader, but if you want duardin, you have a versatile short-range Leader in the Ironbeard
There are two Dispossessed Irondrake fighter types in the warband:
Irondrake: 95 points
The Irondrake costs 95 points, and has the same attack profile as a Freeguild Handgunner, but with a critical damage of 4, which is a good improvement. This means it can put the Volley of Shots ability to much better use, and since it also has better Toughness and Wounds, I would actually recommend Irondrakes as the thing to build if you buy the Ironbreakers/Irondrakes kit.
Ironwarden with Grudgehammer Torpedor: 190 points
The Ironwarden with Grudgehammer Torpedo costs 190 points, and it has a much better ranged attack with a range of 3-16, 2 attacks, 5 Toughness and a normal damage of 2/critical damage of 5. While I still hesitate to recommend ranged Leaders for this warband, the ranged attack profile on the Ironwarden, combined with its decent survivability, makes it the best of the two duardin Leader options.
The Dispossessed fighter types don’t fill significantly different roles than your Freeguild fighters, so taking them in your warband is mostly a matter of what you think is cool, and whether you want to go slower, more expensive and durable, or faster, more brittle and more numerous in your warband setup.
Wanderers fighter types (85-140 points)
There are two Wanderers fighter types in the warband:
Wildwood Ranger: 85 points
The Wildwood Ranger costs 85 points, and the best way to explain its use is to compare it to the Freeguild Greatsword: They both have access to Pulverising Strike, 3 Attacks, a normal damage of 2/ critical damage of 4, and 1 Range. The Wildwood Ranger has less Toughness and Wounds (all the way down to 8 – aelves are brittle), but a better Move of 5 and an improved Strength of 4. This means it will die faster, but also get to the enemy faster with a better chance at doing more normal damage.
Since Pulverising Strike is all about your critical damage, this doesn’t mean the Ranger is better than the Greatsword, but having a better Move can actually mean a lot in Warcry, so if you want fast shock troops, this is your best option in the otherwise rather slow Cities of Sigmar: Hammerhal warband roster.
Wildwood Warden: 180 points
The Wildwood Warden costs 140 points. It’s a Wildwood Ranger with twice the Wounds (still not impressive), 1 more Attack and access to the Leader abilities.
This means there’s a case to be made for fitting the Warden and a bunch of Rangers in one of your battle groups, running them up to the enemy, and then hoping to trigger extra attacks for everyone off an enemy takedown by the Warden combinged with the For Sigmar and for Hammerhal ability earlier in the game than what’s possible with any of the other Leaders and fighters in your warband roster.
The Wanderers fighter types are even more brittle than your Freeguild fighters, but they are fast and hit hard, so they’re a good option for cheap shock troops in your warband.
Darkling Covens fighter types (105-170 points)
There are two Darkling Covens fighter types in the warband:
Black Guard: 105 points
The Black Guard costs 105 points, and it’s basically a Freeguild Greatsword with 2 Range, which is great, and the aelven Move of 5, but without the Pulverising Strike ability.
This makes the Black Guard good, if a bit expensive, objective takers: They’ll get there fast, do good damage, and their Range of 2 will make them survive a bit longer. While the points cost can limit your warband options, and these models are sold out in some areas, I don’t think they’re a bad choice for the elite slot in your warband.
Capain of the Black Guard: 170 points
The Captain of the Black Guard costs 170 points and has 1 extra Attack and 10 more Wounds than the Black Guard. I don’t think his added survivability makes him better than the Warden, since he has no special abilities, so unless you’re limited in your choice of models by what you can buy or already own, take another Leader.
The Black Guard are some of the least specialized elite fighters in your roster, with no special abilities, but they combine good damage with high movement and decent survivability, so they can be useful in aggressive, objective-capturing missions.
Abilities for the Cities of Sigmar: Hammerhal Warband
- Reclaim for Sigmar (Double, Everyone) Can only be used if the fighter is within 3 inches of an objective. Add 1 to Strength and Attacks characteristics of this fighter’s attack actions of Range 3 or less for the rest of this activation.
- Pulverising Strike (Double, Guild Champion, Freeguild Greatsword, Wildwood Warden, Wildwood Ranger) Add half the value of the dice roll used for this ability, rounding up, to the damage of each critical hit in this fighters next attack action with a Range of 3 or less.
- Form Shieldwall (Double, all Leaders) Add 1 to the Toughness of friendly fighters with the Bulwark runemark (the one that looks like a cross-shaped shield) while they are within 3 inches of this fighter until the end of the battle round.
- For Sigmar and for Hammerhal! (Triple, all Leaders) Use only if this fighter has taken down an enemy fighter this activation. Add 1 to the Attacks characteristic of attack actions of Range 3 or less made by visible friendly fighters that are within 6 inches of this fighter until the end of the battle round.
- Volley of Shots (Triple, Marksman with Repeater Handgun, Freeguild Crossbowman, Freeguild Handgunner, Irondrake) Add half the value of the dice rolled for this ability, rounding up, to the Attacks characteristic of this fighter’s next attack action if it targets an enemy fighter more than 3 inches away.
- Righteous Purpose (Quad, Everyone) Make a bonus attack action of Range 3 or less with this fighter. Then pick 1 friendly fighter within 3 inches of this fighter and make a bonus attack action of Range 3 or less with it.
Strategy and Tactics for the Cities of Sigmar: Hammerhal Warband
Playing as Hammerhal in Warcry is all about using your abilities well: None of your fighters are that great on your own, so you will want to have a large contingent of your fighters in the same battle group as your Leader, so you can make a Shieldwall (for defense) or pull off For Sigmar and for Hammerhal on as many of your fighters as possible.
Since you have access to many ranged fighters as well as cheap spearmen of different kinds, think of your warband as the closest Warcry ever gets to “rank and file” gameplay: use spearmen to keep the enemy at bay while your ranged fighter whittle away at the enemy ranks, and then use Greatswords or Aelves as your “cavalry” that charges into the enemy lines to do damage and take objectives.
If you feel a great need to primarily use aelves or duardin, you just have to specialize in one branch of the strategy outlined above: Aelves will play much more aggressively, striking first whenever they can, while the duardin should play like a living fortress of shields and guns. The latter isn’t a very dependable strategy in Warcry, where there are often objectives you need to get to, but if you just want to annoy and/or table your opponent (kill all their models), a combination of Irondrakes and Ironbreakers (or just a ton of Irondrakes) have a chance of doing that.
Optimally, though, you’ll mostly use Freeguild fighters and then use some of the variant fighter types for tweaking your strategy towards offense or defense as you see fit.
Finally, don’t forget to always bring more than one of your best damage dealers in close combat, so you can pull off the Quad Ability Righteous Purpose which lets you do a bonus attack action with two fighters within 3 inches of each other.
This is thematically really cool (your somewhat weak fighters teaming up on their enemies), but as Quads go, it’s also very versatile and useful: Anyone can use it, so situations where you can’t use it at all are very rare, and it will mostly do more damage than any of the “do damage equal to the value of the dice rolled for the ability” abilities that can also take up the Quad spot.
Two Greatswords/Rangers/Black Guard doing an extra attack action on top of what they would otherwise do that round could mean a lot of damage, and any ability letting a fighter (the second one who gets a bonus attack action) outside of its own activation is something that your opponent probably doesn’t have, and as such is always an advantage.
Pros and Cons of the Cities of Sigmar: Hammerhal Warband
+ excellent abilities that increase both the damage and survivability of the fighters (and which express the lore of the warband in cool ways)
+ very diverse fighter types built from only a handful of kits
+ strong in great numbers and tight formations around objectives with support from good Leaders
+ many options for missile and spear attacks
– The Aelven and Duardin fighter types are just variations of the archetypes used for the Freeguild fighter types, leading to some redundancy
– Low Wounds characteristics compared to many other warbands
– Lacks a fighter or Leader type with a consistently high damage output.
Different build options and how to buy the Cities of Sigmar: Hammerhal Warband
Even though there are so many different miniatures in the Cities of Sigmar: Hammerhal warband roster, it doesn’t have to be an expensive warband to collect, thanks to the fact that many of the models are different build options from the same few kits:
The Freeguild Guard kit lets you build 10 Freeguild Guard with either spear, sword and shield or halberd, including a Freeguild sergeant. That’s a good portion of the Freeguild range for the warband covered in one cheap box.
The Freeguild Greatswords kit lets you build 10 Greatswords, including a Guild Champion. That’s probably more than you need, but you can keep the rest for warbands from other Free Cities (which will probably share the Freeguild fighter types with Hammerhal)
The Freeguild Handgunners kit lets you build 10 Handgunners/Crossbowmen, including a Marksman with Long Rifle and a Marksman with Repeater Handgun.
The Ironbreakers kit lets you build 10 duardin fighters, with the option to assemble them as either Ironbreakers (including the Ironbeard) or Irondrakes (including the Ironwarden).
The Wildwood Rangers kit lets you build 10 Wildwood Rangers, including a Wildwood Warden.
The Black Guard kit lets you build 10 Black Guard, including a Captain of the Black Guard.
Tips on painting the Cities of Sigmar: Hammerhal Warband
With such a diverse selection of miniatures, it’s hard to say anything specific about how to paint your Cities of Sigmar: Hammerhal warband. There’s cloth, chainmail, steel, feathers, wood, leather, bone, hair and skin textures to paint, and you can find video tutorials for all of those, but I do have one tip:
Try to find a color scheme that’s consistent across both Freeguild, Dispossessed and Aelven models in your warband, rather than painting each race in different schemes.
You can see how Games Workshop’s studio painters paint the “official” Hammerhal colors of blue and gold on the image and in the video above, but until we have more Cities of Sigmar warband rules available, you could easily just paint them as soldiers of another free City as well.
The Cities of Sigmar battletome is a great resource for inspiration in this regard, with examples of how to paint miniatures as hailing from any of the major free cities.