I can not believe I am sitting down to write this one. The time of the Beasts is upon us and we have a new shiny battletome, Beasts of Chaos. Games Workshop have been kind enough to send me an advanced review copy for this one. They clearly herd me braying loud enough! So happy to be able to share my thoughts of the book with you guys. Disclaimer, this is slightly late as I wanted to give the review justice plus I also wanted to get a review game played against Kye Baker (a fellow Narrative Event Organiser and part of the Only the Faithful team). I will dive into the Lore, Narrative possibilities, the Organisations of the new Greatfreys, the Marks, Artefacts, Battle Traits, Command Abilities, Spells and finally changes in the warscrolls.
So about me and my history of Beasts. I am an avid Beasts player. I collected them initially when I was like 12 and again when I got back into the hobby on the back of 7th ed. I have collected and sold 3 time before and this is currently my 4th Herd. The army calls to my inner wild nature and I connect with it more than anything else. I have always loved the fact they worship Chaos as a whole entity, they have no purpose other than to destroy Order and descend the Realms back into Chaos, growing up as a Punk Rocker, anarchy sits very nicely with me!
It is so refreshing reading Lore for Beasts of Chaos, it has been sooo long since the last book and it is great to finally see what the Beasts of Chaos have been up to since the dawn of the new Ages. The Lore does not disappoint, as you would expect the Beasts live in the wild areas of the Realms, they infest every nook and hole.
Their origins are unknown, they have been part of the Mortal Realms for as long as the Mortal Realms have been in existence, they create the balance of things, for all order in the worlds, there is equal anarchy. This is the Beasts of Chaos, pure Chaos undivided, their purpose to despoil and send the lands back into their primeval states. Sigmar found the Mortal Realms already in existence, these lands were primordial and ripe with Gor-Kin and all manner of strange creatures, this was the Time of the Beasts. Then Sigmar created order and started pushing the Creatures into the hinterlands and into a state of almost non existence, think of this Age of Myth as the Beasts Age of Chaos.
Many believe it was the already present Chaos of the Beasts in the realms that called the Chaos Gods gaze upon them and so began the Age of Chaos (The Beastmens Age of Sigmar).
Because of the nature and anti-order of the Beastmen, records are non existent and therefore the true origin is guessed upon at most. Some believe that all Beasts are created from one monstrous being, descendants of the Godbeast, Ravenak. Whilst some believe they came from the Realm of Chaos and spread like a disease. Others believe it was a curse upon men, the devolution of these men meant they were cast out of society and into the wilds where they devolved further into the raw instincts of animals. They begun to represent the creatures of the forests, mountains and even underwater. (Some Beastmen have Eel and Shark heads and swim underwater, the Idoneth are even documented as seeing these beings as the soulless ones).
For the most part, Beasts of Chaos do not follow any Chaos God in particular and it is even seen as a weakness to dedicate yourself to only one god. They believe they are the true children of chaos as they are not tied and can worship Chaos as to what it is in its entirety. Leaders are chosen on the powerful and fighting skills. The life of a Beastlord is normally short lived.. there is always a challenger to try and kill.
Apart from Nomadic warbands, most of the Gor-kin and Thunderscorn belong to a Greatfray. These Gratfrays are vast and stretch continents, the greatfrays are made up of many Beastherds all led by a Beastlord or Doombull or even a Shaggoth. The largest Greatfray is probably the AllHerd, savage beasts who prey upon everything including all other freys. The other two Greatfrays are the Dark Walkers (shadow beastmen) and the Gavespawn (just wanna see the world devolve into madness and decay), but there are many many many lesser frays and the books shows you colour schemes and small tidbits on these to get your juices flowing.
There is so much more to the lore but even if you don't plan on doing a Beasts army (Why?) then get the book and read up, you wont be disappointed. Did I mention about the banished Thunderscorn being the true rulers of Azyr?
The Allegiance Abilities:
We see, like Legions of Nagash, an over arcing Battle Trait of the Herdstone and three separate Battle traits depending on which keyword your models have. Brayherd, Warherd and Thunderscorn. The difference is... you get all of them! So you can field an army containing Brayherd, they get the Ambush Trait, Warherds, they get the Bloodgorge trait and Thunderscorn which would get Creatures of the Storm. This is amazing and expands the choice of Beasts and what army to take 10 fold. You of course also get access to all the big gribblies in Monsters of Chaos to add in too.
The new Bloodgorge ability is really cool, really fits the theme of the Bullgors gaining strength from flesh. Its work very much like the Huge Maw attack from the Ghorgon. Great for Doombulls too and makes them slightly more survivable.
With the Creatures of the Storm you gain an ability that allows your Thunderscorn to move an additional 3", simple but mega affective especially as Shaggoths are now wizards. You may need to cast a spell but are slightly out of range. Now.. no problem!
You gain 18 new Command Traits, 6 for Bray, 6 for War and 6 for Thunderscorn. All pretty good but some better than others of course. But it does give you choice to theme how you like. Standout ones for me are Bestial Cunning for Bray which allows up to half your units to arrive in the second movement phase (same as current), Rampant Juggernaut for Warherd means you re-roll failed charge rolls for Warherd units wholly within 12" and Ancient beyond knowing for the Shaggoth gives you an additional D3 Command points at the start of the first battleround (key here means you get command points even if you don't go first) and works great with AllHerds GreatFray.
You also get 18 new artefact's. Again to me stand out ones are Volcanic Axe which gives your Beastlord +1 damage and additional Mortal Wound on unmodified (this is pretty much the norm in this book now) 6 to hit. For Doombull, my favourite is Cleaver of the Brass Bull (Taurox's weapon from 8th ed) which improves the Rend by 1 and also an unmodified hit roll of 6 adds 1 to the damage of that attack as well! For Thunderscorn you get Horn of the Tempest which means Dragon Ogors gain run and charge ability.
Your Great Brays and Tzaangor Shamans gain access to 6 new spells, giving you a fresh arsenal of buffs, debuffs and mortal woundage. Vicious Stranglehorns stands out to me. Cast on a 7+ pick a terrain feature wholly within 24" and each enemy unit within 3" of it takes D3 Mortal Wounds.
I think it common knowledge that the stand out in the Lore of Dark Storms is Sundering Blades, rend is a big thing in AoS and improving it by 1 is huge. -2 rending Bestigors with 3 attacks a piece is brutal!
In addition to the abilities, Beasts also gain access to summoning. If you remember my post a few months back when AoS2 dropped, I was gutted when they removed the ability off the Great Bray Shaman, Savage Dominion. Now I know why! Summoning is amazing now! Kicking Ungors and sacrificing goats to build up summoning points to summon on more units or Monsters from the wilds. Perfect in my opinion narratively speaking. I think a unit of sacrificial Ungor is must now in your army and I cant wait to play more with this.
We have seen in recent battletomes the introduction of an over arcing force. Deepkin had them, Stormcast have them and now Beasts of Chaos have Greatfreys. It give you a benefit for free for just nominating and theming your army in a particular way. Whether that is the filth of the lowly Brays, to the shadow goats or just part of the AllHerd it means you can theme your army better and gain a benefit for doing so.
If you do pledge yourself to one of the Greatfrays you limit yourselves in some respect by having to use that Command Ability and Artefact.. its a good job they are awesome then! For instance The Darkwalkers artefact is the Desolate Shard, At the start of your Hero phase if your within 3" of a terrain features, roll a dice for each enemy unit within 1", on a 4+ they suffer D3 Mortal Wounds. You also get an additional Battletrait and another option for a Command Ability.
The bit I was most excited by, the battalions! You get 4 main ones. One for each allegiance and 1 mixed Beasts. The Brayherd one works great for ambushing tactics. You can add 1 to charge rolls if set up on the same turn. Looking forward to trying out Bestigor with Cogs and this and destroying the enemy back lines.
Desolating Beastherd sounds cool too, unmodified hit rolls of 6 count as 2 hits instead of 1!
In addition though you also get the god battalions. Think Everchosen ones but better and for goats. So these are the ones that give your Beastmen marks. You pay a little price, give your units the Mark of say Khorne and you get a benefit as well as then being able to synergies with Khorne armies. It looks like you can take a Blades of Khorne army, using that allegiance and add this battalion in keeping your Khorne allegiance and gaining all that books benefits to your Beasts. So again if you play Chaos, this book is for you to gain access to that too. But, as the lore says, Marked Beasts of Chaos are seen as weaklings in the eyes of the True Children of Chaos.
Changes in Warscrolls:
Of course there is a few changes to warscrolls, some of the key ones are:
Beastlord.. loses the Great Axe and Shield options but gets a better Command Ability, triggers in combat phase if you slay an enemy model, re roll failed wound (and possibly hit) rolls of Bray wholly within 18"
Gors.. Anarchy and Mayhem now straight up +1 attack if enemy unit has 20 or more models.
Bestigor.. +1 to hit if targeting enemy unit with 10 or more models, re roll 1s against order. +1 attacks if they charged that turn.
Doombull.. loses shield and pair of axes, gains Bullhorn attack. Bloodgredd does not generate extra attack now, just cause 1 MW on an unmodified 6 to wound. Command Ability toned down to only affect 1 unit wholly within 12" at start of combat phase.
Ghorgon.. unmodified Wound rolls of 6 inflict D3 MWs and Swallow Whole: pick a model within 1" and roll equal to or higher than its wound characteristic and the model is gone. Breaks enemy coherency beautifully.
Bullgors.. Like Doombull, Bloodgreed change.
Centigors.. now have Brayherd keyword! and infinitely better.. they were poo before..
Shaggoth.. now a wizard!
Jabberslythe.. few changes, slightly toned down but aura of madness now effects everyone within 6"
Gargant.. gains Whipped into frenzy rule given them +1 attack to all melee weapons.
Tzaangor Skyfires.. now Brayherd! (Ambush) and Judgement from Afar now unmodified roll of 6
All Tzaangor now have Brayherd keyword.
Enlightened now cheaper on foot.
Harpies: MIA (Where have the harpies gone?) - Currently building 30 of them so really hope they get FAQ'd in...
So conclusions... Amazing. Everything I have dreamt about. If you want to play an army that has everything, play Beasts. If you like goats.. play Beasts, if you currently have a Nurgle, Khorne, Tzeentch or Slaanesh army.. get this book. If you love Cows, play Beasts, if you wanna summon Monsters from the wilds.. play Beasts.
Seriously, this book is amazing, the options are limitless and it looks to be a pretty strong board controlling army, still a little glass cannon but a few ways to negate that now.
The Review Game!
Coming on Wednesday... keep you posted!