Why Play Beastmen
Let's say you like Chaos in Warhammer Fantasy, but you're not that hell-bent on winning every game you set out to play. A strange thought to many, I know but let's entertain this one. What would an army of this sort look like? I'll tell you what it would look like - it would look like Beastmen! Like Daemons and Warriors, Beastmen have all that cool chaos flair, like spiky bits, evil and malice, awesome looking models, etc. - and none of the cheese! If you like an army of angry, bitter, drunk pseudo-furries (it's actually a lot cooler than that sounds), you will like the Beastmen.
Also, if you like tough, fast-moving cores supported by awesome lords and heroes, one of the most bad-ass special units and literally terrifying rare choices, Beastmen are for you.
Sadly, Beastmen were written when 7th edition was in vogue and they are were able to go head to head with the other factions on a more balanced scale. Prior to the new army book the "only" way to play Beastmen was chariot spam and while the new book added more options, lists didn't change all that much. Today, they are overpriced and nowhere near as durable as they used to be. Essentially, they're now a casualty of 8th edition; pity that WHFB had to be rebooted because of an exceptionally OP army made by a particular cocksucker. As a side note, the Beastmen faction is still perfectly viable to play as, it just takes more manoeuvring, strategy, and brains then previously, much like how the Dark Pansies USED to be in this regard.
Update: So The End Times: Glottkin is out and with it comes a Beastman update, they can now have marks, ambush works a little differently, and you're given extra rules like Eye of the Gods (with Daemonhood becoming Spawnhood) and the Reign of Chaos magic chart. There's a different page for it here: Legions of Chaos. If for any reason you don't want to field other units alongside your Beastmen (and still want your Beastmen to be better) then you'd be better off with this tactica for a LoC Beastmen army (as the other assumes you want to mix units).
The first thing to note about Beastmen is that most of the army benefits from a rule called "Primal Fury." In close combat, the unit takes a Ld test and if successful, gets hatred for the round. If the unit passes on a double 1, they get hatred AND frenzy for the rest of the round. While this sounds good, you must understand that one of the Beastmen's major weaknesses is their low LD, so they won't be passing as much as you want them to. Keep close to a general and BSB to maximize results.
The other thing to note about the Beastmen is that a number of units can be held in reserve for a Beastmen ambush:
- Old (and shitty) version: Gors, Ungors and Ungor Raiders can all do this, which requires a duplicate unit of the one you want to ambush with (excluding characters and upgrades, it just has to be the same size). Ambushers can strike on the first turn if you roll well enough; after that, the table edge they come in on is determined by the roll of a die and if you roll a 6, you get to choose the side. Again, this sounds good but Gors and Ungors are still running with a weak LD, and the randomness of where they show up can often screw you over (I need them to show up on the left and they...show up on the right). Never mind that even if they show up where you want them to, they can't charge on the turn they arrive, giving everyone a turn to react to them being there. Therefore, this tactic is best used as a distraction, with shitloads of cheap, annoying surprise-attacking little cunts. You will however need many of them... Get ready to MSU (Multiple Small Units) the hell out of part your army, and now with the new Glottkin rules, you can also bring a big fookin' scary block of Gors in as a hammer in the ass of the enemy!
- Please note that while this would appear to be (and should be) the Horned Horde's superpower, it is deceptively underpowered instead. As noted above: the seeming randomness of their arrivals coupled with the requirement of having a similar unit on the board at deployment makes this a tentative proposition at best. If you are going to use this, be prepared to accept random outcomes, and use it for what it is good for: a monkey wrench with occasionally hilarious results for one of the players.
- New version: With the Glottkin book out now, Beastmen Ambush works out a little differently, you no longer need a duplicate unit (which was a very stupid rule), and since Beastmen can now take Marks of Chaos Beastmen Ambush can actually do something, Having Gors show up in the flank with extra hand weapons and the mark of Khorne can really fuck shit up even with an average statline, Ungor Raiders can now show up to shoot the enemy at close range (If you give them Mark of Slaanesh they'll never run away if they're getting shot back), and even Ungors can do something, ideally attacking somebody in the flank or rear and then getting them to pursue the Ungors off the board (if you're worried about them dying outright then give them Mark of Nurgle or Tzeentch).
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.
- Gorthor, The Beastlord: The Archaon of Beastmen, which is kinda sad when you think about it. Costs 125 points more than a Chariot mounted Beastlord and you are willing to pay that because of the 18 inches of Inspiring Presence. That is the ONLY reason why. Combat wise, he's okay, but unreliable. Killing Blow is nice, but his mediocre I and only slightly above average WS (especially for a lord) hurts him a lot. His magic casting ability is pretty useless (as you need to use dice to cast Bound Spells now) and the fact that he's hanging out on his own in a chariot is essentially an invitation for any Lord with a mount and magic weapon to walk up and take a swing at him (more on this later, under the Beastlord). He's still fairly useful, but you might need to keep him out of combat and behind your main units.
- Khazrak, the One Eye: Here we go. 80 points less than Gorthor, helps your Ambushing units to arrive better (never roll a 1 again) and can actually join units and help keep them from fluffing rounds of combat (and unlike Gorthor, he can actually survive the odd round of combat with another lord). If you want a special character Beastlord, this is the one.
- Malagor, the Dark Omen: Not too bad as far as Beastmen Special Characters. If he starts casting he gets hard to stop, he helps your guys around you get Frenzy and he helps hold up your enemy's general. Maybe a little on the pricy side, but worth it for his abilities, especially since he can fly around and troubleshoot. Not bad, not bad.
- Taurox, the Brass Bull: THIS RAPE TRAIN HAS NO MODEL! An awesome chance for you to practice your modelling by upgrading and NMM painting a Doombull model. So - Taurox is really here for those players who want to run a megaton-grade Minobus (see tactics). Probably not seen in games less than 2500 points, Taurox really comes to the fore when supported by egregious spending of points and magic, and a horde of Minotaurs following him in. Some feel that he is quite worth it his high price tag: Tons of S6 attacks that are magical, flaming and ignore armor saves. He hits like no other and is more then capable of destroying entire units by himself, but other players feel that a kitted out Doombull beats Taurox, as you can emulate him fairly well with the Armour of Silvered Steel and the Ramhorn Helm (works out to 40 points less, you get more attacks but are slightly less durable). His weak spot might look scary considering his points, but it doesn't happen that often (it'll only happen about 7.40% of the time against normal and Strength 4 Spearmen Hordes, and 5.55% of the time against normal S3 and S4 hordes). One of the better special characters in the Beastmen book without a doubt. Remember though that the amount of points invested into the Bus means that your Gors now will be less well led, so you'll need some buffs for those Gor blocks.
- Morghur The Shadowgave: Unbreakable and kinda fun in the stats department. He kills one friendly (AND ONLY FRIENDLY) model per turn and turns it into that which shall not be named. If you want to take him, keep some Ungors near him to try and turn them rather than something more worthwhile and be aware that if no other friendly model is near enough, nothing happens. Can be fun in a non-competitive list, especially if you really wanted to run some grblrlgrbrlrlgrrrr but were turned off by the points cost. Kill 5 or 6 Ungors and get 3 chaos spawns on average? Yes please. Chaos Spawns may not be great for 50+ points but they're amazing for 5 points. Wait, I said it, didn't I? FFFFUUUUUUUUU- BRLARGMURLRLRLRLRFUCKYOHBFLFLFLL
- Slugtongue: Slugtongue costs nearly 80 points more than a level 2 Bray Shaman for a 50 percent chance to cause up to D6 wounds (usually D3) to all enemy units within 36" before the game begins, which is awesome against heavy cavalry lists or MSU spam. Other pros are that he has Regeneration (making him marginally less squishy than a normal Bray-Shaman) and has poisoned attacks (for what that's worth). Sadly, he loses access to Lore of Beasts which is one of the main reasons you take a shaman. On the other hand the lore of Death isn't all that bad, nor is Lore of the Wild. He is a situational Bray Shaman, but doesn't mean he is useless.
- Moonclaw, Son of Morsleib: Just what you need, something to make your units worse. As low LD is one of the major weaknesses of a Beastmen army, his Stupidity causing is MUCH more likely to hurt you than your opponent. His once per game ability to drop stone throwers could be fun, if he's inside a unit, you're gonna end up firing at the same unit 3 times (and if you're in combat then your opponent is just going to laugh at you). Oh and did we mention he's Level 1 for 125 points more than a Bray Shaman? Skip him hard.
Note: While named characters are judged against their generic counterparts, generic characters are examined based on their role in your army.
- Beastlord: Leadership 9 is what this guy brings to the table and holy shit are you paying for that privilege. He has a respectable S and T of 5, but that's really the most outstanding part of his statline. Properly kitted out he can bring the hurt just like any other combat Lord but toe-to-toe he will get put down like... well, like an animal. Having to pay for Gifts and Magic Items from the same pool limits your ability to outfit him a lot. Almost mandatory for that Ld 9, though.
- Great Bray Shaman: The wizard lord of the Beastmen. Useful as far as Wizards go, but a tiny bit on the pricey side. His LD8 could help in a pinch, but don't rely on it. Lore of Beasts is an incredible choice for him for reasons which should be obvious. Expensive for what he does, but still useful.
- Doombull: Doombulls bring the murderfest to the table for those players who really want to center their army around the Special Units section (MINOTAURS, BABY!). These powerhouses have a gnarly stat line, are mean as a starved dog, and give a LD buff to any unit of minotaurs that they lead. There are some detractions: they're expensive and hard to keep in line (Frenzy plus Bloodgreed means he and his unit are easy to strand, and will be abused by experienced opponents). As well, being Lord level, you now have less access to that LD9 that your Gors need. LD8 makes him unreliable after a fluffed round of combat, BUT they can become a rape train under the right circumstances: kit him out to the max (Ramhorn Helm and a magic weapon are almost mandatory here) and engage trollface while you steamroll rank and file troops. They should almost never be run as solo characters - they're not the lone ranger and can be crushed or led astray too easy. He needs to be stuck in with Minotaurs, but remember that when you do this you need to think about screening units: odds are you're spending a lot on that unit, you don't want it to get isolated and shredded. However - with back up and screening, you are looking at a lawnmower that can really bring the pain to the enemy. Kit him out with some gear and consider some sort of magic banner to boost that LD8/buff his unit, and you could be looking at the reason why the Beastmen have one of the most awesome Special Units in the game!
- Wargor: What with Beastmen LD being both critical and piss poor, and your Beastlord being unable to be everywhere at once, you're going to be buying a lot of these guys to do unit babysitting and troubleshooting. As with Beastlords, most people can kick their teeth in, so be careful with them. Also, get a BSB. Seriously, you need it. A lot.
- Bray Shaman: Cheap level 2 wizards are always useful for when things go tits up for your Level 4's and Bray Shamans fill that role nicely. Worth taking. Don't be fooled though, they can't fight in combat so don't try it.
- Gorebull: He has all the issues of a Doombull with none of the advantages. At least a Doombull has a brutal statline and higher base LD than the Minotaurs' weak base LD of 7. Combined with limited access to magic equipment, makes the Gorebull just a fucking awful choice. Frankly, the only reason you should ever see this is in a Minotaur themed army, specifically a Minobus (see the tactics section at the end of this article), where you want a Minotaur Hero as a BSB. Otherwise ignore with prejudice.
- Gors: Toughness 4 infantry, a good stat line save for their poor Ld, and aggressive in h2h. Take them in big hordes and buff them with Lore of Beasts (preferable) or debuff their enemies with Lore of Shadow. Throw in leaders in the form of heroes and lords to try and bolster that weak LD - you'll need it so you don't lose a huge block due to a flubbed round of combat. If you're gonna buy additional equipment (you should), make it Extra Hand Weapons, Shields might as well not exist for them. Extra hand weapons become worth it when you consider you'll be rerolling your hits almost every turn if you took a BSB and a Lord (which you should have). Keep these blocks near or with the BSB and El Jefe and you have a really good hammer/anvil for killing the enemy.
- Ungors: Ungors are a tough core unit to swallow: they are supposed to be this army's skavenslaves/goblins but are overpriced for the role at 5pts, and generally don't perform as well as their counterparts. Beastmen don't make use of tarpits, they make use of MSU flankers - which is how these should be used. Blah upgrades (a spear, kind of meh) means that they are less than appealing than their raider counterparts (see below). You're probably going to need some just to keep your Gor/Bestigor units from getting flanked, just be aware: Without a general/hero nearby they can't even function as a Horde (be Steadfast all you like, you're still likely to break when you lose combat at LD6). You shouldnt be blocking them up anyway - they underperform in combat and make a horrible tarpit. Keep them near the General and pray. Tip - if MSUing them, try to keep them 6" apart because they will break, and you don't want a chain reaction to wipe all of your flankers off the board and possibly upset a core block. Your enemy's laughter mixed with your tears of bitterness makes not for a fun night.
- Ungrel Four-Horn:A 75 point upgrade that occasionally turns into a Wargor and allows you reroll Primal Fury tests against Empire, Bretonnia and other Beastmen. Oh and he traps you at his basic LD, IE 7. Spending 75 points on a unit that will still break under any direct pressure is not a good call. Skip him hard, middle finger raised high.
- Ungor Raiders: Skirmishers got nerfed in 8th edition and these lads are no exception... BUT, these guys are probably the best chaff we have. For 30 points you get a small unit that can pepper lone characters, ambush, and march 10" to protect your flanks. These are great for turning enemy elites in the wrong direction, sniping war machines, trying to appear in the rear with the gear as ambushers, and in general making a giant pain in the ass out of themselves (fitting, as that is what they would be good at in the fluff). Take 4+ units of these in MSU form and get to work.
- Warhounds: The main reason to take Core units in a Beastmen army is to try and hit the minimum requirement as fast as possible and since Warhounds don't count towards that, these guys are iffy. They make okay screening units, but are vulnerable to Panic and cause Panic in others. Also, they are good with flanking, as well as hunting down siege weapon crews and being distractions for lone Lords and Wizards to deal with.
- Tuskgor Chariots: Tuskgor Chariots are exactly as the lore would describe them: utterly brutal (if used properly, of course). Be advised, there will be that one guy who thinks that you can never have enough of these filling out your core choices...don't be THAT guy. You're not Tomb Kings, you can't make an entirely chariot army (at least have it work efficiently). They are effective at flanking and skirmishing, but they are not going to replace the Gors, Ungor Raiders and Bestigors any time soon. Also remember that the primal fury works on the beasts pulling the chariot as well. This is no doubt not intended but as things are written now, the entire chariot gets primal fury. No reason in not taking full usage of all your available effects after all.
- Minotaurs: The true glass hammers of the Beastmen. Minotaurs are your blunt force instruments and are indicative of the army as a whole: Powerful on the face of it, weak in the details, overpriced, prone to running away on tough rounds of combat or unlucky rolls. Killer models, they are brutal in hand to hand, but this contrasts with their shitty Ld, Bloodgreed and weird movement to role ratio within the army as a whole which makes Minotaurs a hard unit to use right. If you're willing to invest the points and the time (not to mention a necessary hero), they can truly maul the enemy. Be careful about how you move them, and investing in a screening unit or two is mandatory. They won't be chasing down any units (read bloodgreed again - it puts the brakes on what could be a brutal unit otherwise), so try to get a Razorgor in the flank to help run the fleeing enemy down.
- Bestigors: If you want to take Bestigors, you're going to have to commit to them. Units of 10, 15, even 20? Fuck that, who do you think you are, Elves? No, if you want Bestigors you're going to want HUGE units of 30+. Yes they're overpriced for their abilities, but at least at that size they're unlikely to get shot to pieces. In units of that size, they can actually accomplish quite a bit, but don't let them operate on their own. You're going to want a Beastlord nearby and a BSB in the unit would not go amiss. And you definitely should use their magic banner allotment - the only infantry in the list with one (Get the War Banner, Standard of Discipline, or Banner of Swiftness). As we said: Commit.
- Razorgors: Two units of 1 should always be an auto include. For 55 points you get a unit that can kill lone characters in the front ranks of units, such as wizards. Good at clearing chaff, combo charges to help run down units, and as flank protectors. Only LD6 so keep 6" away from other units so they won't flee; for this same reason, never take razorgors in units of 2, because if one dies, the other little piggy will run all the way home.
- Razorgor Chariot: For 15 points more you could get 2 Tuskgor Chariots, which is the better choice. Overall though, not a bad choice, as it provides a fairly nasty blunt-force hitter. Just, as always, be careful. As with the Tuskgor Chariot, the razorgor all of the sudden got primal fury if you make him pull a chariot, making him more nasty.
- Centigors: Not very good. They're overpriced and they'll crumble if they hit a unit head on that's not made of cardboard, if you are getting them then give the throwing axes (almost mandatory) for a S5 shooting attack, and make sure they cover your flanks! Don't ever give them great weapons because that wastes one of your drunken results (all three of which are good in their own way).
- Ghorros Warhoof: Spend 155 points to make your Centigors slightly less shit! Honestly, this guy would be 100% better if you could field him and then just cause him to die out of nowhere, and you actually can if you take Morghur (an expensive sacrifice, but it makes you far more likely to pass Primal Fury rolls), but as it is, he's not very good. He's so shit his main advantage to your list is the +1 to Primal Fury checks every else gets after he dies. While this strategy likely won't make your army all that competitive (unless you're playing the higher points games) it can be very fun in casual games, and is the only way in your basic army to take Primal Fury checks on LD 10.
- Harpies: It's amazing how much the omission of one special rule can change the Harpies from being pretty good (in the Dark Elves book) to being a risky difficult proposition. They cause panic. Remember, Panic is the easiest way to get your units heading for the hills and never returning, and Beastmen don't exactly need a reason to panic. But they make okay screening and war machine hunting units, so if you're running Minotaur heavy, you could think about investing in a small unit or two.
- Putrid Blightkings (End Times) : Not part of the Beastmen list. Move along, citizen.
Beastmen Rare choices are overpriced and (somewhat) underpowered, like all of the Beastmen book right now. However, unlike most of the rest of your army, they operate just as well with or without Hero/Lord supervision. Thus they can fill gaping holes in your army, cause casualties where you normally can't and hit the flanks. Don't feel bad if you wind up with no Rares in your army - quite often, the points are better spent on buffing your Cores and Specials.
- Giant: You know him, you love him and he's slightly over priced (225 pts. vs the Ogre Kingdoms' or Orcs and Goblins' Giants' 200 points, because those two armies' Giants aren't immune to Panic. However, contrast that with ALL of the Ogre Kingdom's Giant's Pick Up And... resulting in auto-death for the target). In all seriousness, the Giant is a safe and colourful rare choice and combines with any of the other big choices for a perfect 500 points in Rare units. In most cases, you will want the Giant!
- Chaos Spawn: Worthless here. Their inherent movement unpredictability might work with another army but since everyone in your army has Movement 5 minimum you'll usually be zooming right past them by just by marching and even if they do stay ahead of the rest of your army somehow (you'll need to consistently roll 11's and 12's) they'll be destroyed by any competent combat unit (T5 and 3 wounds does NOT make them survivable since they have no save). Maybe if they could take marks they might have some use but as it is they're outdone by literally every other Rare choice. Every time you take a Chaos Spawn, Tzeentch kills a kitten. Think of the kittens.
- Cygor: Cygors are useful but somewhat iffy and probably require more careful use than most of the other monsters. Basically they are your ONLY semi-reliable form of long range attacks, which can be ridiculously useful for softening up key units before combat. The downside is that this will make him a big target for your enemies shooting. Next to being an overpriced movable stone-thrower, Cygors also have some anti-magic abilities. In close combat they can re-roll their attacks against anything that smells like magic (mages, magic items, undead, demons, ward save, hexed/augmented enemies,...), although with a WS of 2 you better not expect miracles here. Also with a T/W/A of 5 each and no saves he's rather fragile for a monster. Lastly, he has a thing for enemy mages, making that any failed casting attempt also counts as a miscast, thus the potential of blowing both the mage and part of his unit to bits. Sadly enemy mages need to be within 24" AND fail a Ld test so again...no miracles. Overall you're probably better off with a Ghorgon.
- Ghorgon: This (insert derogatory term about 'your mom') is scary and under the right circumstances can cause a lot of carnage, but requires careful use. For starters, Frenzy and Bloodgreed increase the possibility of him being led by the nose (yes I know you need to fail an LD test to accidentally charge, but he will still pursue that unit of Fast Cavalry that flanked him, whose asses he kicked in return. Trust me, canny opponents know how to use Frenzy against you if you aren't careful), and being stranded in a bad situation (if he gets into combat with 2 ranks of Swordsmasters, White Lions, Witch Elves, etc, you might as well just remove him). His swallow whole is of limited usefulness and his mediocre WS makes him an possibly risky proposition. Most importantly: the Ghorgon has NO ARMOUR SAVE. On the other hand, he's one of the 2 units in your army that can operate entirely self-sufficient (even Jabberslythes and Cygors need general or unit backup, the Giant is the other) which might make him worth it all on it's own. Be careful with him though, he's expensive and can easily be put in a situation where he'll drop like a fly. Hence it's best to take advantage of the Ghorgon for being one of the very few monsters in WHFB with WS4 that can be an efficient flanker, as much as possible. Use some of your smaller chaff/finesse units (harpies/other fast warmachine hunting units) combined with the Ghorgon to get rid of the main threats to the Ghorgon and position as required to rip out some kidneys.
- Jabberslythe: This thing is so hideous it drives your enemy insane (and it's model costs so much it drives YOU insane - not to mention it's the ugliest thing ever to come out from GW. Probably intentionally, but still). Not as all around good as the Giant, Cygor or Ghorgon, due to a lack of Stubborn and comparatively low S and T, but he flies, he shoots, he causes wounds when he gets wounded, he thunder stomps and he drives enemy models insane. Will probably be worth his points so long as you don't use him carelessly and keep him away from Vorpal Swords. VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: Despite being a flying monster, he is NOT, I repeat, NOT qualified to go head to head with a Dragon without backup. A Dragon with a halfway competent rider will knock his ass down. Sending him up against anything above a Manticore qualifies as using him carelessly.
Building Your Army
Play Legions of Chaos instead.
Okay, that's harsh so I'll explain. Legions allows you to fix a lot of the problems of this list by adding WoC units that are, let's face it, more reasonably priced and better at fighting and standing their ground. Sad but true.
What's that, you say? Playing Warriors is for chumps? Okay, you mad bastard. I like you, so listen closely.
Your Core choices are shitty so you'll have to deal with that. Big horde units will give you some holding power (you brought that BSB, right?), small units making the most of the Ambush rule may help by throwing a wrench in your opponent's plans. Tuskgor chariots are handy and will bring some pain but not if you send them in one at a time like ninjas in an episode of Walker: Texas Ranger.
Your real tools lie in the Special slot so when you get to list building your eyes are going to start here. Razorgors for flanking, Minotaurs for smashing. Bestigors will fuck some shit right up but if you expect them to do work all by themselves then you deserve the spanking you're about to receive.
Gifts of Chaos:
- Crown of Horns: Steadfast makes this mostly pointless unless you're taking on Horde armies.
- Slug-Skin: Not very good, you're paying 30 points for a S3 hit on 1-3 models (unless you are on a chariot which makes it a lot better), usually the casualties don't add up enough to make the points back.
- Many-Limbed Fiend: Useful on anybody S5 and higher, not so useful on others. Combines nicely with a Gorebull with an extra hand weapon for 7 S5 attacks.
- Gouge Tusks: Here we go. Helpful for breaking through heavily armored fuckers and keeping you from fluffing those important rounds of combat.
- Gnarled Hide: This one is excellent, 10/10 WOULD BANG, especially when combined with existing armor.
- Rune of True Beasts: Slightly more useful against the combined profile characters, but unless it's on a Doombull with the Armour of Destiny (or Glittering Scales), they are unlikely to survive against even the weaker ones or regular monsters and their rider/handlers. With that armour though they can Doombulls can kill the weaker Combined Profile characters.
- Uncanny Senses: Good if you're combining it with The Swift Sword of Slaying and might face initiative 5 troops to make sure you get those rerolls. Just be sure to NOT combine it with a Great Weapon.
- Shadow-Hide:If you have 5 points to burn on a Gorebull or Doombull you could do well with this to prevent archer spam against him, making him virtually impossible to hit with normal troops.
- Primeval Club: Beastmen lords usually don't need help wounding, they need help hitting, not to mention this one weapon uses your Lord's ENTIRE points allowance (who thought that was a good idea?) and its effects can almost always be replicated with a great weapon or the Ogre Blade for far less.
- Axe of Men: A little on the expensive side and lacks a way to make the enemy accept the Challenge. Maybe if he could take a more proactive role in Hero killing (IE, if he had a mount). As it is? Nah.
- Stonecrusher Mace: HERE we go. Great for a combat Lord, especially if you're going to face Empire and you want to see the look on your opponent's face when you break his Steam Tank. Still a bit on the pricey side.
- Mangelder: Very pricy for very little effect. Now Terror only really sometimes stops enemies from charging you and combat is where you want to be.
- Hunting Spear: Having been officially FAQ'd to be a throwing weapon, this one can actually be worth it, just of it's potential for Monster Hunting (big scary monsters that fly, like Dragons, are one of your worst enemies). Best for a cheap Hero, just be aware that your BS will cause you frustration.
- Axes of the Khorgor: Good on a Doombull to make sure you get those attacks in, but it will really eat into his magic points with its high cost.
- Steel Claws: Wielding this weapon comes with a cigar and a penchant for calling people Bub. Amnesia is optional. Seriously though, a good item for it's points, combine with Gnarled Hide for an effective combat Hero, or with both Gnarled Skin and Trollhide for an effective Lord.
- The Brass Cleaver: It's 30 points for on average two or three extra attacks. Not a bad value at all compared to the extra attacks weapons in the core book. A Doombull carrying it around will mince infantry.
- Everbleed: Considering how many attacks your Lords can get on average, you'll be getting one to three unsavable wounds per game and so it's only really worth if you combine it with several attack increasing items, and if not there's other things you can spend your points on.
- Blade Blunter Armor: Worth it considering the large increase in heroes you'll be fighting, put it on a Wargor, run him at Tyrion/Karl Franz Ascendant/Malekith to get rid of their magic weapons as your hero doesn't need to survive in order to make combat monsters a lot weaker.
- Trollhide: Not as good an item as others, for example the Armour of Destiny outstrips it in every way, but if you've already put that on somebody else and aren't going to be up against many flaming attacks then go for it.
- Blackened Plate: Good on Minotaur Bloodkines, but could be good just because of the ubiquity of Flaming Attacks. Still, you could very easily buy this and have it not do a single thing.
- Ramhorn Helm: AWESOME, again 10/10 would bang. Sweetness when combined with Gnarled Hide, Heavy Armour and Shield, giving you 1+ Armour Save that gives you an extra attack every time you make an armour save. Very good with this combo. Send a Doombull out on his own with this combo while he's saying "come at me bro!" and watch him decimate rank and file troops.
- Shard of the Herdstone: Extremely awesome, but keeping all your Wizards in one place is just begging for a unit of flyers to come eat them, though with your statlines and lore buffs available you should be able to handle them.
- Horn of the Great Hunt: Great in a Chariot list or if you need to get into combat fast. Beastmen resist shooting damage in the same way an infant fights Mohammad Ali, you want ANYTHING that will get them into combat faster.
- Horn of the First Beast: While your Battle Standard Bearer already gets you those Primal Fury rerolls on Higher Ld, this has far more range and is a lot more useful if you plan on spreading out your forces.
- Stone of Spite: Could be fun, especially against Dark Elves/High Elves but it's worthless against Daemons or Dwarves (though, see above). Not a bad item though, especially for friendly play and with the increase on Heroes and Lords you'll be getting more uses out of it.
- Skin of Man: Perfect for a Bray-Shaman who, in your opinion, should not live past turn 2. If you have some silly desire to keep your Shaman alive long enough to affect the game, you should probably skip this one. If you want to use it effectively though, get a Bray-Shaman, try to get Bray-Scream and then fuck up some flanks. Keep in mind this still works if your Shaman is mounted on a Chariot, so if you have the points try out a scouting Razorgor Chariot.
- Cacophonous Dirge: Since Musicians only work in combat if you've drawn (and ONLY if you've drawn) this one is limited in usefulness, but it could be okay at ending drawn out combat.
- Eye of Night: Overcosted and weirdly specific in its effect. If you really want Magic Resistance then the Obsidian Lodestone does the job better but costs the same.
- Chalice of Dark Rain: Fucking fantastic, nearly everything in your army favours combat over shooting and unless you KNOW you're not facing an army that's not using shooting (and it can be useful against some of those: Read it, it says that Banshees can't scream except on a 4+), you should really be considering this.
- Skull of Rakos: Odd, but effective, especially if you grabbed Shard of the Herdstone. Probably worth it even it only affects the one Shaman.
- Staff of Darkoth: Remember how we said that you want to tip the odds in your favor? This item is exceptional at helping you do that. Well worth taking.
- Hagtree Fetish: Beastmen magic is lacking in offensive spells, but this could help in a pinch. Worth taking in larger lists.
- Jagged Dagger: If your Great Bray-Shaman is trying to run touchdowns or getting into combat, he'll have to be built correctly or he's gonna bite it too quickly to make use of this. Keep in mind it's not actually a magical weapon, so if you want to use it effectively get a Great Bray-Shaman, put him on a chariot, give him Skin of Man and whatever other Weapons/Armour you find is appropriate (Ramhorn Helm really helps here) and send him into small vulnerable units.
Please note that the only unit that can take magic banners is Bestigors. This may seem like a losing proposition since you already sunk a lot of points into that HUGE unit of Bestigors (to bring the large number of guys you need to have to keep them from getting shot to pieces/cut to ribbons before they get to combat) and you don't want to sink more points into one unit. To that I say: Bitch, did you think I was kidding? You ARE sinking more points into those Bestigors.
- Beast Banner: Really good for a unit you NEED to survive or cause casualties, especially a large Gor unit. Great for a BSB.
- Totem of Rust: Well, here we have a dilemma. -2 armour save for the unit and enemies in close combat, -1 save for all units within 6". Now you have two choices. A) give it to a BSB in a heavy unit of gors. You can soak a decent amount of damage simply by being T4 and a lot of enemies will seriously miss those two points of armour. Toss in some buffs and your blender is good to go. The downside to this plan is that you miss out on being able to take the pretty solid Beast Banner listed above. Since the Totem doesn't effect Scaly Skin saves your BSB really needs to be sporting that Gnarled Hide. Option B) give it to your Bestigors. Doing so will be a total waste of their heavy armour but will give you a unit that can make Chaos Knights go bye-bye. Definite high risk, possible high reward. Think about this item carefully. If you are going the ToR path you will want to be casting wild form on the unit every turn as T5 is better than a 5+ vs anything over S3.
- Manbane Standard: Could be worth it on the Bestigors, especially a center-field one.
- The Banner of Outrage: So let me get this straight: The Beastmen
get the chance to reroll their opportunity toautomatically get Hatred every turn and your enemies also get Hatred, just not every turn. You also lose the chance to get Frenzy from Primal Fury, at least according to the FAQ. What is it with these banners helping out the enemy, it's not like they need the help.
Beastmen magic is generally too situational, just like the army itself and (unless really dedicated to magic) can be beaten down by any dedicated magic armies. However, taking the Shard of a Herdstone with some Shadow level 1 casters can change this around, you can miasma the BS of shooty armies, and the WS, M and I of the fighty armies. Even gutstars are no good if they have a movement of 1. Prepare to pay a lot of points for a decent magic phase though. However with a L4 and a power scroll, you can potentially force through a couple of spells at crucial times. In general the biggest problems with Lore of the Wild is what the spells work on and the fact that some can be done better by your own armoury (more on this in the spells themselves).
But it's not all bad, your casting Heroes and Lords are cheaper than MOST peoples and can hold up acceptably in combat (not on their own, never on their own). You're going to want your lower level Heroes to concentrate on Lore of Beasts and grab multiples of it's Signature Spell (and maybe try to grab an offensive spell or two) to try and tip an important combat in your favor. Lord level wizards should be nabbing Lore of Death right out, for it's usefulness at sniping enemy heroes and weakening enemy units. Lore of Shadows is okay if you want to try for Occam's Mindrazor, but Death and Beasts are more all purpose. Note that the Beastmen's personal lore is situational, the casting values, and low range (4/7 of the spells have ranges of 6-12) means it has to be a high level Shaman near the front to make proper use of them, which is usually NOT where you want him.
Here is a breakdown of the spells of the Lore of the Wild. Remember, you'll get more bang for your buck (in terms of longer ranges, lower casting values, and over-all benefits/effects on the targets) by taking spells from Lore of Death and/or Lore of Beasts. Also note that with Lore of Beasts, you subtract one from each casting value, so it's like it's custom made for Beastmen! Also, Beasts is where Wyssan's Wildform is... which you need very much. With each of these spells - look at the ranges (generally too short) and the casting values (generally too high) and you'll see why, for now, the Lore of the Wild is not as good as some of the others (though it does have its high points).
Lore of the Wild
- Bestial Surge (7+): Signature spell - Allows ALL friendly units within a whopping 6" to get an additional 2-7" in movement directly towards an enemy unit. Useful if you are under threat of missile fire or you just need that little extra bump to get into charge range. Remember that Beastmen survive by being aggressive, so this can't hurt. However, when compared to other Lore's signature spells, this spell leaves a Beastman underwhelmed, unless you are using more than one Bray Shaman to cast it per turn, in which case it decently useful.
- Viletide (7+): A 24" magic missile that hits an enemy for 5D6 S1 hits. Great for hunting warmachines, as a S1 hit is still a hit on a 6+, horrible for everything above T2 which is nearly everything else, for those you want Flock of Doom (Beasts) instead (5+ 2D6 S2 and boostable to 48" range).
- Devolve (9+): You know the Jabberslythe's Aura of Madness? This is the spell version of that. All enemy within 12" take a Lead test, if they fail, the unit takes wounds equal to the number failed by. Considering the number of LD10 units out there, this spell is probably best used on... Beastmen and Undead. Combos nicely with Doom and Darkness from Lore of Death.
- Bray-Scream (10+): Already into high 2 dice land, the third spell gives one friendly character within 12" a S3 breath weapon, no armour saves. Fuck awesome, use on Malagor after flying into a flank to turn those Phoenix Guard or large hordes into mincemeat (the breath weapon can get a fuckload of hits in 8th edition), or use it on a character in close combat against any well armoured enemy, gaining 2D6 armour ignoring hits against Heavy Cavalry is huge.
- Traitor-Kin (10+): All enemy cav within 12" (basically, anyone on a mount or chariot) gets attacked by their own mount at its strength and attacks (KILL THE STAR DRAGON RIDER!). Engage trollface when playing Bretonnia or up against a monster happy army (monsters with handlers on it like Sphinx's and Araknaroks attack themselves)... otherwise sit down and wonder why you didn't take Lore of Beasts. With the new Nagash book though, this is one of the few spells that can help you take down the new mounted heroes, since the FAQ states that the spell works on combined characteristic models.
- Mantle Of Ghorok (13+): One friendly character within 6" gains +D6 S and A.... but takes a wound for any 6s rolled for those characteristics. It's useful for making that Doombull into the unholy rape train he was always meant to be without paying for magical weapons, but if you're packing a quite a few strength/attack boosting weapons (aka what every weapon in the beastmen armoury does) then you can safely skip it. You could use it on your caster if you get stuck in combat- takes him from S4 and A2 to possibly S10 and A8 (although at that point He's dead
- Savage Dominion (16+): This spell had awesome potential, it lets you summon one Giant, Ghorgon, or Jabberslythe (your choice). Sounds good so far... but any wound suffered by your beastie means that the caster has to make a T test for each wound taken, and a failed test means taking a non savable wound, that's not too terrible, also - the caster cannot cast or attack after this point as long as the monster is alive. If you use this spell with anything higher than a normal Bray Shaman at all you've effectively wasted the points, you might as well have bought the monster instead and placed it with your army rather than try to cast it, have it start at the table edge, then run it to the enemy while it most likely gets shot. Pretty good though if you're lucky enough to get it on lower level wizards.
Let's get down to brass tacks here eh? Beastmen, as an army, have some gaping holes. The biggest and most egregious: They have a terrible LD across the board: every single one of their infantry units faces the prospect of easily panicking and bolting. This means that you need, need, NEED most of your units to be either within your general's LD bubble or to contain a Lead boosting Hero (and even then, don't get excited, your LD max is just about equal to Dwarf base LD). This means you're going to be concentrated in huge blobs towards the center of the board and thus very vulnerable to flank charges.
Here are some favorite unit designs that Beastmen players have used. You'll notice that the first three are Special Units - welcome to Beastmen:
- Bestigor Herd: Remember how we told you to commit? Here it is. Take 30+ Bestigors (the optimal number is usually 35, but some players go large at 40+ or 50+!). This is a WS/S/T 4 warrior with a great weapon and heavy armor in a unit that can have a magic battle standard. Got a Great Bray Shaman, Wargor or Morghur? You can pop him in here along with a Standard of Discipline, and suddenly you have the Same Ld (9) as if you were in the General's bubble, but are now independent of that bubble and free to wreak havoc. Other options are possible, but make sure you utilize your magic banner allowance. COMMIT.
- The Minobus: A favorite of players who like the awesome Minotaur models and want to field a rape train capable of boosting their murderboner into orbit. Minotaurs can be fielded in multiple orientations such as 2x2, 3x2.... but if you really want to bring the beef, the minobus is a generally minimum of 3x3. Again, commit (just like with the Bestigors) and get at least one hero/lord - you need it because if the Dice Gods frown on you, this very expensive unit of stone killers suddenly turns into a stampede for the rear that is fast enough to get off board before you can rally it! Quite often you will see a Doombull, a Gorebull, and a second Gorebull as BSB in the front row, and 6+ minotaurs in the back. Don't just run the three characters, you need ranks to maintain the bus's ability to combat. Insane players will field 9 to 16 Minotaurs along with Taurox and a Gorebull (or in bigger games, a Doombull) BSB along with a second Gorebull for a unit capable of class 5 hurricane levels of destruction. Remember - canny players KNOW how to redirect this thing, so make sure you are screening it with ungors/gors/razorgors/harpies so that they don't get led around by that ring in their collective snouts. Obviously this unit becomes a risky proposition as a potential one hit wonder, but it can be a thrill to see once the killing gets started. A unit this involved is around 1000 points, so the enemy must engage it if they want some serious VPs. This means a retarded amount of incoming will be directed at the bus: missiles, engine fire, magic, foul language. This will allow your Gore blocks, harpies and chariots to go and assault forward. This also means that your bus needs some serious support - Gores on the wings, and at least 2 wizards trying to keep it alive!
- Want some load outs? Here ya go: Doombull with Heavy Armour, Shield, Sword of Striking, Ramhorn Helm, Dawnstone, The Other Tricksters Shard, Gnarled Hide; Gorebull with Heavy Armour, Shield, Battle Standard, Beast Banner; Gorebull with Heavy Armour, Shield, Sword of Swift Striking, Dragonhelm, Ironcurse Icon. Obviously, tinker with moving the Sword around, different banners are a possibility as well (but that beast banner is nice).
- Bacon cruise missiles: We told you before, and here it is again - get two units of one Razorgor each. Use them as flankers, wizard hunters or war machine hunters. They also excel at redirecting, chasing down and pinning units so your Minobus can finish omnomnoming them, and in general running around like a .... greased pig. Single model units only: don't buy doubles because the second one will bolt with that Ld 6.
- Ungor Ambush Spam: MSU (Multiple Small Units - usually 6+ units of 5) of ungors or gors with the sole purpose of being meatshields and redirectors. Spam These guys into your enemy's rear. Now, with Glottkin book, you don't need an equivalent unit anymore! Make sure to get Khornate or Slaaneshi upgrades for them for staying/killing power. Multiple units of these little bastards means that eventually you'll wind up a few of them in the enemy's knickers. Best used in conjunction with Kazrak as your General so that you are really effective on landing these where you need them. Again, risky in that each unit is essentially 25-40 points that you are giving to the enemy, but you should think of that as you are spending it so that you can cause havoc and get the enemy looking in the wrong direction or turned for flank attacks.
- Big Block Gors: Get two units of 40+ Gors and kit em out. Remember, no shields - you want AHW, and try to keep them near the BSB for re-rolls. This becomes the anvil for the enemy unit that your hammer will flank charge. Doesn't hurt to screen them - they can get weak in the knees if charged on the flanks. And you are prone to that.
- Harpy Havoc: Facing a ton of wizards or warmachines? It may behoove (nyuk nyuk) you to acquire some harpies - they make descent warmachine and wizard hunters. YMMV. Use with caution as when they are broken, they can cause a chain reaction of panic and fleeing in your flanking units. It's an unfortunate reality that they can break, but their ability to fly allows you to pick off loners. Also act as backup redirectors and meatshields.
- Ham n' Hoof Drag Racing: New Beastmen players are usually so worried about how underpowered their army allegedly is that they forget that there is some awesomeness here: Chariots, baby! Piggy powered wheeled death means that you get some fast and powerful core choices capable of fulfilling multiple roles: flankers, anvil, hammer, warmachine/wiz hunter. Take in 2+ units in smaller games, but try to go large here as this is a powerful core choice for you. Remember that CHARIOTS CAN'T MARCH (pg 86 BRB), so use their ability to wheel while moving to get them into prime charging position. Get aggressive with these, they can be the start of something beautiful if you can get stuck right in early before the enemy brings his magic and missiles to bear.
- Free magic dice: Take a great shaman who is correctly kitted out. On average, you can get around 7 "free" power dice as long as you are in combat. Try running a 35 man gor unit with a wargor with the beast banner. Your wizard is then level 4 using beasts, he is equipped the jagged dagger and the steel claws. If you cast Wyssan's Wildform and The Savage Beast of Horros he then can potentially get up to 9 strength 9 attacks re rolling to hit. and each kill counts as a power dice. Even with the power dice cap, this is a nice regenerator for an army that desperately needs buffs.
Strategy and Tactics
The best strategy is to concentrate your Minotaur and Gor blocks towards the center and play big monster/screening units on the flanks. There should be no giant blocks of ungors - this is not their forte, they're not Skavenslaves: they function better in MSUs and as flankers for cheap hits or to force a unit to turn it's own flanks. Minotaurs do flank duty alright, but are unreliable and easy to strand; inherently, put them in the middle (army general helps their low LD) and put the Gor blocks nearby. Cores and Special blocks need flank support: screening units (these are your Ungor/Ungor raiders both on board and ambushing, also your razorgors and harpies, and even MSU gors) are all key to that.
Your Bestigors will likely fall into the above paragraph unless you set them up as stated earlier - with the Standard of Discipline and a Character, at which point they become independent of the General's Ld bubble (this is good). Even then, they cannot be run as a solo problem solver, or the inevitable paddling they get will be well deserved.
Cygors are decent flank units, but need the screening unit to keep dedicated combat units away. Ghorgons fair a little better but have the same problem that Minotaurs have in that they are easy to pull off in a bad direction. Jabbers are great mobile trouble-shooters, but automatically become winged shit magnets. Remember, keep all of these monsters away from dedicated combat units with lots of attacks, great weapons or poisoned attacks. They should be slamming into the flanks, not going nose to nose.
Avoiding your opponent's heaviest units is also important to your success, which naturally is easier said than done. Beastmen are at a disadvantage against pretty much everyone, so you need to strike the weak points hard with magical buffs from Lore of Beasts and huge blocks of Gors/Bestigors, while using lone Razorgors and Ungor Raiders to redirect the enemy's elites, get in the way and basically make a nuisance of themselves while your heavy-hitters crush the enemy's weaker units for the points. Don't fight defensively: you're not Warriors or Dorfs, you can't sit back and let them come to you. Strike hard, strike fast, and melt away before any real opposition comes to get you. Learn from the Beastmen in the lore, they know how it goes.
A nice big meaty unit of Bestigors (35+) or Gors (50 at the least) is very effective as a hammer for this purpose. Kit out the gors with additional hand weapons, a few heroes and Wyssan's Wildform, and run like hell towards the enemy. You should be buffing your Gors with either the Beast Banner for killing, or with the Totem of Rust when facing armies with plenty of disposable income. You need to get as many kills as possible to force Insane Courage from your opponent on the charge. Don't pull your punches, go all out on the offense. March everything forward, move to within inches of the enemy to guarantee charges, because you can't do jack sh*t when you're not in combat.
Now that you're stressed for points, let's not forget to add the fact that you should have 2-3 wizards if possible. Remember - be prepared to pay 600-700 points for a decent magic phase. You need buffs more than other armies and the way to get that is via magic. All of your magic characters will find their points allotments for magical items to be a bit tight - beastmen are poor from living in the woods after all. Buy those casters and try your best to buff buff and buff your units. And ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS try to pop Wildform.
Don't be afraid to stack the odds, no one came along and gave you a 175 point Hydra or decent cavalry. For instance, Gors will almost ALWAYS lose to their equivalent points in (fill in here)Elf Warriors. But, you toss in a Cygor or even a Chariot on the flanks, and suddenly you're doing okay. Gang up on enemy units, don't play nice.
Much of Beastmen playing will involve heavy maneuvering, unit redundancy, draw and counter-charge and avoiding getting shot to pieces. Welcome to Warhammer on Hard Mode.
VS Vampires - Kill the LoV wizards asap, kill them all. Do not challenge or accept a challenge from a Vampire with anything you will miss, there is a good chance that unless it is a Minotaur that it's going to get butchered. If you can do these things you drastically increase your chance of winning.
VS Tomb Kings - Due to your own low LD you will want to make killing skull catapults and boxes of doom (casket of souls) a priority, also Tomb Kings usually have a weak core, unless its buffed by a hero/lord or magic. Stopping the enemy's spell casters is a must.
VS Elves - If you can live through the first round of combat, your generally higher S and T will start to show, so you should use your numerical advantage to it's fullest. Get into combat fast: Elves tend to have a fair amount of shooting, the less they get to shoot at you the better.
VS Dwarves - Don't waist points on monsters, there will be far too many cannons for anything that does not fly or have good regeneration/ward save to be worth the points, unless it's there as a distraction. Due to Dwarves' generally high armor saves, any thing that reduces armor is valuable (Totem of Rust comes to mind).