With a new army-book arriving, it’s time to take a close look to Beast Herds in 9th. I didn’t have the opportunity to playtest yet, but studying the book gives quite a good outlook on the opportunities in future battles.
1. Basic description – first impression
Many players might still have the 7th ed Beastmen–book in mind, which made Beast-armies consisting of big blocks of infantry, hard to manoeuvre in narrow terrain and, biggest drawback of all, gave very few options to vary the army.
The first thing that stands out in the current version is, that the changes to the army have obviously been made with focus on giving Beast Herds a unique character of cunning, vicious forest-sneakers, waiting for the right moment to make a brutal assault.
This hasn’t been achieved by building a new army from the ground, but by introducing a lot of clever little alterations.
So far, no new units have been introduced. Instead, the existing and sometimes overpriced or completely useless choices have been fixed.
Only new thing is the Centaur-Lord, a hero-choice, making your Centaurs core units if used as the armies general.
3. Development of army-character
In past, I always wondered why there was no advantage at all for the Beasties to fight in their very own terrain, the dense woods of the old world. By the generous use of the special rule Strider (forest), this lack of logic has finally been fixed. From now on, basically every single unit in the army is equipped with that special rule, allowing the Herd to march, pass dangerous terrain tests and keep their rank bonus while fighting within the woods.
Consequently, an army living and fighting in the woods isn’t expected to fight knightly in open battle. Instead, Wildhorns, Longhorns and Mongrels got the special rule pack tactics, giving them swiftstride when charging the flank or rear of an enemy unit.
Another nice addition to the character of Beast Herds is the special rule Sleeper, which was given to the Briar Beasts. This nasty little trick allows you to awake the unit at the start of an friendly remaining moves sub-phase within a wood.
You can imagine the terror caused by some creepy thing awakening in the back of your militia-patrol, when you are out to clean the darkness of the woods near your village from the things inside.
Another important change is the introduction of totems, which allow your Wild- and Longhorns to specialize for certain tasks.
There are the following totems:
- Gnarled hide totem: protection against close combat attacks
- Blooded horn totem: additional attacks plus armour piercing
- Clouded eye totem: protection against shooting and magic
- Black wing totem: increasing initiative and charge range
There are two magical items which should be mentioned when looking at the army's character:
First, the Seed of the dark forest allows you to place a single forest before the battle within 12 ‘’ of the bearer and after vanguarding units have been moved. Designing the battlefield in your favour can definitely confuse your opponents plans to some degree.
Another fine thing is the Pillager icon: units consisting completely of Razortusks or chariots gain vanguard, increasing the mobility of your herd even more.
After going through the book, I definitely expect Beast Herds to offer some different ways of playing the army than those we knew from the past. Some of the biggest weak points have been eradicated, without strengthening the army undirected.
Instead, the weaknesses match the army’s background, so the herd still has some big issues with low/ not existing armour-saves and of course their low morale.
Their now increased mobility allows the general, to avoid close combat as long as needed to bring your main units into position for a coordinated killing blow. Compassing of enemy units and attempting to launch attacks to the flank will be the way to go for my first battles.
Also, specializing of own units regarding their purpose on battlefield seems an attractive option to adapt to an opponent’s army.
This book is surely an enormous step into the right direction, I am really looking forward to command a guerillia-like force of tribesmen. The whole army, which was torn appart in the past by removing dragon-ogres and their formation special rules, is now back with a ruleset, which is in my opinion the best so far for the Beastmen-armies over the last 15 years.
Feel free to comment and let me know your thoughts, discussion on Beast Herd topics is highly appreciated by me.
Kjell [Read More]