Stemming from an interesting discussion on the BH subforum, I wanted to further expand on an idea posted there and propose a consistent AB with the same approach. It emphasises strong, mobile BH, is definitely melee and charge-oriented and relies on bursts of violence rather than a predictable damage output.
Remark: a number of concepts, entries and ideas are not from me but from the general discussion. My role was mostly to put them all together and harmonize around the book direction, and in many cases this is a direct copy/paste: big thanks to @Davian particularly who proposed many concepts that were included straight. From the 2nd iteration on, this is definitely not a single-author book and the community is the one to be thanked, taking part either by proposing or challenging ideas, giving opinions or directions!
It is meant to be an invitation to brainstorm and explore what could be done to adjust some aspects of the book, with a tangible support so anyone can try out, see if it translate correctly in game and improve it. Pricing should be adjusted and enable pleasurable play sessions for all that allow to test out the various concepts and ideas in good conditions.
Link to the Doom Beasts - A BH Homebrew!
For those interested in testing other configurations, PM me and I'll send you the editable file.
Here are some of the key elements that IMHO caused issues and that were consequently altered significantly, to bring BH closer to this vision:
- Primal Fury? PF feels actively "anti-beast", inherited from the infamous BH 7th edition of WFB... With this near-certain to-hit reroll, BH currently are the most predictable damage dealers in the game. They should be excellent at bringing the pain, but "consistence" is the opposite of what I expect for wild, violent beings. PF is so embedded in the current AB that this change itself implied largely reworking a lot of entries! The main rule that replaced it is Brutal Instinct, which translates into less predictable bursts of damage and represents the lack of a proper fighting technique meaning that some of the hit only glance while others strike true.
- Glass hammers? a recurrent complaint and one which contributes to the army being badly RPS, is that if BH hit hard (cf PF above) they die in drove versus a decent shooting or, even worse, anything hitting before them thus making them magic-junkies to palliate this issue. In this homebrew I tried several approaches to answer this aspect and always looked at it in combination with the replacement of Primal Fury as those two issues are closely related, and in a way that made sense fluff-wise.
- Blocky army? I don't know if others are unhappy about it but I am ! Many elements in the army feel too "blocky" (not sure how to word it properly), with above-average movement but meh maneuvrability, and the propension to require large blocks if one wants to field good infantry. More or less connected to this blocky aspect, BH infantry-based armies are too populous compared to what a hunter-gatherers and partly nomadic sheperd society could sustain (I expect mongrels would tend to war hogs that could be used as cattle). Although a BH warhost could in fact be the anomaly that happens precisely when their population grows too big or when they consumme all their resources, then turning into a dangerous host that must be stopped lest it consumes more and more resources and land. For that reason, I tried to up a bit the army eliteness, but keeping them in the "strength in number" territory.
As for general concepts structuring the army:
- Craftsmanship: being naturally tough and strong, BH do not need advanced armour or weaponry. Consequently and as in the current LAB, only their most advanced troops and character have any form of armour. I pushed this further by removing the Beast Axe, of limited availability anyway and which feels out of place (boosting Def feels artificial / like a crutch), replacing it by more armywide rules.
- (De)Buff wagon: I see BH culture as extremely individualistic, so them boosting others would feel out of place. There are some ways to achieve it, but more in the form of a shout or one-time thing rather than a sustained buff. In this optic, Banner of the Wild Herd has been reworked to push the models' bestiality rather than simply boosting them up. On the other hand, their predatory nature and dreadful reputation - which they cultivate well - meant that debuff aura are on the table!
- Of Beasts and Men: instead of giving flat Primal Fury replacements, I tried to build archetypes based on the original beast: goat, boar, bull, etc. mixed at various degrees with cultural/social aspects (particularly for mongrels)
Now a quick review of some of the hallmarks of this homebrew:
- Brutal fighters with little regard for unit cohesion [skirmisher-like, hard target (1) & light troop].
- Eager to prove their worth, caring little for objectives [no scoring].
- When they charge, they go head first in a ram-like manner using their reinforced skull to deal damage and for protection [impact hit & res +1 on charge].
- The brutality of this initial impact can badly destabilize an enemy formation [anarchy & mayhem].
- As the fight transitions to a melee, their lack of technique and their beastly mania shows: some hits land at full power while others glance [brutal instinct] and they take any opportunity to gore enemies with their horns [battle focus].
- Finally, if having a herd behind them may ensure they do not break from fight, the damage they deal is the main criteria they go by to evaluate if they are on the winning side [anarchy & mayhem].
- In terms of damage, wildhorns are at a similar level as before on average: if in protracted fights they are strictly inferior, the also are significantly more brutal and resilient in charge. Outside of a fight, their resistance to shooting is improved thanks to their skirmisher-like formation. Globally these wildhorns trade reliability (hit & static CR), some utility (scoring) and grinding capability for a devastating charge, better maneuvrability, and improved resistance. Speaking of resistance - the Res 5 reached by wildhorns on charge is the soft cap for all BH in the book, representing their skull resistance: even minotaurs and characters are unable to go beyond naturally, with Gortach being the only exception.
- They have the same inclinations, cultural background and "fighting technique" or lack thereof as wildhorns [brutal instinct].
- Their lesser strength and resistance means they cannot charge as effectively, survive strong attacks or use their horns like a wildhorn would. Instead they have to rely on a better unit cohesion, although this is looked down by other BH [lack of other wildhorn rules].
- Their frustrated agressivity turned into bitter cruelty which they let go when facing weaker than them [repressed cruelty].
- Lesser tasks -by BH standards- are forced onto them [scoring] while their life or death is irrelevant to all [insignificant].
- They are on average inferior to the official version. However, their uniqueness makes them more valuable: they are the only way to have a true static CR in the whole army and are the only scoring unit in core; add to that that when fighting along another unit, or somehow ending up on the winning side of a fight they can actually grind quite a bit.
- They turn around their prey, charging in then breaking away if they could not take the advantage immediately - only to reform and wait for a new opportunity [opportunistic predator].
- When fighting, larger packs will overwhelm the enemy, each hound pushing forward to attack [FiER].
- Fast and maneuvrable, their damage output is less than before as they hit their usual targets on 4+ instead of 3+; but FiER means that bigger packs become more interesting, and especially the improved maneuvrability makes them easier to use than before. Careful though, they will rarely stand in place if they get charged and make for poor redirectors if left unchecked!
- Similar to wildhorns but stronger and better at curbing their violence in melee. As longhorns, the urge to prove themselves individually is lesser and physical strength is not the only criteria to move further in the hierarchy: the ability to plan ahead and ensure victory becomes determinant [scoring].
- Their damage output, similarly to wildhorns, is tied to their ability to charge. A key difference is that they trade maneuvrability for power. Where wildhorns count on a loose formation to stand shots, longhorns trust their impregnable armour (by BH standards!)
- These mountains of muscles charge enemies on sight, driven by pure rage. If a wildhorn's impact is powerful, a minotaur's one is another level yet as their massive body and mighty horns let them to gore and trample multiple enemies even before striking.
- Their rage grows as they get wounded and are nearing their death [rage].
- This version of the minotaurs lacks the all-powerful battle focus + primal fury combo, and even on charge this version is weaker in terms of damage output. They are still very powerful and this reduced damage dealing ability allowed to match the minotaur resistance with their bulk for an overall similar impact. Rage is a perfect fit for bulls, getting more dangerous the dire their situation becomes. Overall the unit remains extremely threatening, the same way a bunch of 500kg bulls with axes would be in real life.
- Same spirit as the official version, with a twist on Sober which improves the centaurs' self-control and ability to land good strikes as represented by a better brutal instinct, while light troops becomes a normal unit rule in an attempt to globally improve BH maneuvrability. They can include hounds in their unit in an echo to the mixed units of old, and in a consistent way as I'd expect centaurs to be the closest to hounds in BH society, hunting together. This is also meant to improve centaurs resistance to shooting in a fluffy way as hits get partially distributed onto the hounds, while the hounds' FiER lets them bring some support in melee.
- A single, sizeable difference: similarly to boars, they won't shun a fight and if they decide to charge in, it is not for running away straight after - hence the stubborn on charge. After this initial contact, if the fight turns at their disadvantage they probably won't stick around though!
- A bit stronger and more resistant than mongrels, yet they do not possess the wildhorn attributes that would let them have such a mighty charge. In addition, their inelegant body prevents them from forming even basic, coherent units like mongrels. These creatures, some kind of nasty in-between that lives on the fringe of BH society, are nonetheless a threat in large flocks and should not be ignored.
- Gargoyles suffered the most from losing PF as they could not get wildhorns perks (the ram-like bone structure that enables a wildhorn to charge head first is not compatible with a flying creature of this size), nor could they form a "normal" unit like mongrels. Their maneuvrability is capped already, and I'd even consider reducing it to 8"/16" considering these are mostly forest dwellers where maneuvrability is far more important than peak speed. With the addition of airborne predator, representing their ability to fight in 3 dimensions instead of just landing a hit from behind their comrades for support, bigger units are significantly stronger than their previous version.
- Unique take on the unit, which I envisionned as the idea of a terror rather than a true, purely physical entity. It is meant to be an indecipherable, looming threat. Even when it is not really there, its rumour spreads around a forest, like a shadow in the magic; insects and vermins around it become restless and aggressive, damaging and destabilizing enemies around. This is also a good incentive for enemies to exit the forest and give way for this horror to take on a physical form and enter the battlefield!
- After toying with the idea of a buff wagon, I focused on why some players like it: it fills a role that BH badly need, being a tool to dent big monsters, dangerous infantry or zone big dangerous flyers; and why I (and maybe some others) don't like it: it does not feel BH.
- In this new take on the BH AB, the cyclops' hurl attacks is still fully relevant. So I kept it, but tweaked it to better match the army identity and behave less like a generic artillery: its range got culled but it gained QtF, being essentially a big throwing weapon; misfire was removed, making it more a "living thing throwing stuff" rather than a mechanical device that malfunctions. To counterbalance that, the AoE got reduced (a lot).
- In melee I opted to something unique and consistent with the shooting attack: if it throws rocks that deal (2x3) AoE damages, most likely it throws (2x1)-sized rocks that roll a bit upon landing... then why wouldn't the cyclops use those rocks in melee? Well, this one does exactly that!
- Similarly to the minotaurs, losing BF + PF was a nerf that couldn't be made up for reasonable. Some of this "credit" went into thickening its fur to Arm 2, giving protection against small AP attacks. Then, similarly to minotaurs, Rage fits like a glove... and is even more potent on such a creature. To push further in this direction, Strength from Flesh had a single word changed: instead of recovering HP, it now gains HP! Although getting fatter means losing attacks... so don't feed it too much!
- Aura of madness was changed to have a much more direct effect. Instead of sapping morale, it now brings true madness to enemies in its grasp who will occasionally mix friend and foe, feel abandoned... this new version does not necessarily requires a tailored list to use at its fullest and can bring a decisive advantage even by just staying near combats.
Regarding the pricing, some thought went into it but it is definitely wrong!
To give a quick explanation at how it was made, I considered the variation in offense & defense for each entry compared to their current official counterparts, against several sets of common characteristics representing their main and secondary targets. Then pondering 3:1 in favour of melee (grinding) over charging, and reassessing (quickly) case by case what seemed reasonable.
Please comment, share your views, awe and critics!
The post was edited 20 times, last by Idum ().