Beastmen Review: initial thoughts

Games Workshop has been doing a fabulous job on army books recently. They include tons of options, multiple army builds, and a dazzling web of synergistic units, heroes and magic.

Last night, I started combing through the Beastmen book, looking for the good stuff. Firstly, the new army is a home run for modeling possibilities: Razorgors, Jabberslythes, Cygors and so forth are a modeller's dream come true. It's too bad that most of them are in the coveted Rare slots. It's a toughie.

First off, you've got to remember that Warhammer Fantasy is the game of winning combats, not the game of "killing things". Though the two go hand-in-hand a massive Shaggoth is still statistically unlikely to win against a mob of peasants (ie six attacks, of which two will miss, won't win against the magic five).

Ungor Raiders
That said, remember that there are 400 points on the table from table quarters. A properly played Beastmen army won't ever have this problem. And that's because of another magic five; the minimum unit size of Ungor Raiders. A unit of five, at six points each, is a throwaway unit of thirty points. Oh man, it's delicious. Better yet, they have Beastmen ambush which means for every unit on the board, a similar unit can be lurking off board and come in from the side or back.

For the studio Beastmen army I plan on running six or eight units of them. Their job? Stay alive and take table quarters. And then pitch in wherever possible. Even better they have bows. There's a psychological effect to that. If they cause a 200+ point unit to divert for a turn, that's well worth the cost.

It gets better. They get a musician for a modest three points. This means a better chance for rallying if they have to flee a charge. I wouldn't waste points on a unit champ. Who cares? Just buy another raider.

Will they never learn!? Units that pay a huge price for offensive power, while ignoring any sort of defense, are compromised. They look good on paper, but any opponent with half a brain cell will just take care of them in another way.

Minotaurs are Toughness 4 with light armor. Fifty-five points. Throw these losers in the garbage. Too bad, GW could have done it right this time.

Same for Chaos Spawn. They insist on putting these pathetic lumps in every book. Make them good for pity's sake! And they're in rare choices swimming with three really cool new entries. Forget it.

All that said, Minotaurs do get this new thing where they get Frenzy, but after they get into close combat. That's a nice feature.

Here's a winner. A Bray Shaman L2 is 110 points. For 80 points he gets poisoned attacks, Regeneration (woot), and Curse of the Famine Fiend. This last power is what makes him a must-take in any army in my book (nevermind the cool conversion possibilities). Wounds on every enemy unit within 36" of him at the beginning of the game. It's a complicated chart, but let's say there's an outside chance he could vaporize a unit of Chaos Knights before turn 1. And the juicy possibility of hitting an exposed character. This is a good example of what to look for in a unit: sure he has a great ability, but what keeps him alive? Regeneration. And even better, the full benefit comes into play before the game even starts.

Doombulls no longer make Minotaurs Core. Sad. And there was no reason not to carry that over since Minotaurs are completely pitiful. So, congratulations "guy who made a minotaur army" you're screwed.

On the other hand, Ghorros Warhoof makes Centigors Core. Yippeeeee! you can make an all Centigor army! Too bad Centigors blow chunks now that they are no longer fast cavalry. Additionally, the Centigor model has the left arm fused so forget about doing any conversion work. I predict you'll see Chaos Marauder Horsemen ($4.40 each) with Bestigor ($4.10 each) bodies. Cheaper and better looking than metallics.

Tuskgor Chariots are Core. That's pretty slick. Of course you don't need to really worry about filling your Core choices now that you have six Ungor Raider units.

Bestigors. Awesome models. Solid, but they're no Black Guard!

I am here making a mistake. I'm looking at each unit standing alone and not how they work together.

Maybe I was too hard on the Minotaurs. They really are killing machines, which makes the different than other ogrish models (eg Kroxigor). They have S7 with great weapons, and increasing attacks if they keep winning combats, potentially turning them into an unstoppable massacre. They just need to get in there with another unit with ranks/banner/outnumber.

OK, definitely going to at least try the Minotaurs.

I'm liking the Razorgors. They're like the cavalry for the Beastmen. Like Toughness five.

Liking the idea of a squad of three chariots. Maybe six. Definitely got to use plastics for that because the new models are so amazing. I'd use warhounds to pull the chariot.

Magic items.

Pathetic. I thought I was reading the Ogre Kingdoms book for a second. "Hey, here's a good thing about this magic item, but then we'll give it a crappy drawback, but you have to pay points for it." Blarg. Re: the banners.

But that's OK, because maybe Beastmen aren't supposed to have earth-shaking magic. One notable exception: Stone of Spite. This little bastard means that your opponent will have to keep two dispel dice on standby every magic phase or else you're going to turn every Dispel Scroll into a pine-apple-sized grenade.

More to come.



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