The 8e Beastmen Handbook - Warhammer 40K Fantasy

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    LO Zealot rothgar13's Avatar
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    The 8e Beastmen Handbook

    The 8e Beastmen Handbook

    Hello there, and welcome to the 8th edition Beastmen handbook. The purpose of this thread is to provide a handy reference for anyone new to the Beastmen army to get a quick primer on conventional wisdom regarding what is known about the army, as well as a hub of discussion for more experienced players to provide feedback and ensure that we are presenting the most up-to-date and accurate thoughts on how to play this army effectively.


    Before we begin, I will point out a few assumptions made when making this handbook:

    1. No comp is considered when rating units. While I'm aware of certain popular comp systems such as ETC, I believe that the majority of environments actually play uncomped Warhammer, and it's also too much of a chore to tailor the advice for whatever restrictions any local group may or may not have. I'm not going to bother to do so, and I'm also going to give less consideration to any argument for or against a certain unit that begins with "Well, in my playgroup, we use [insert comp restrictions here]...".

    2. This handbook assumes you're making a competitive army.
    If you're making a themed list, maybe you can use some of the stuff that's in here, but know that you're not the target audience. The goal of this handbook is to present an objective view of what a Beastmen general can and should do to prepare a list that can win games. Themes often make sacrifices in playability in the name of aesthetic cohesion, so I don't think I have to explain how there could be some disagreement between that and what we're doing here.

    3. This handbook is made for all-comers lists.
    If you only play one army over and over again, there are certain choices that go up or down in relative value. In this case, we'll consider all armies when making our choices (including the mirror-match), as tailoring is looked down upon in certain circles and downright illegal in competitive tournaments.

    Ratings Scale:

    OK, with all that said, it's time to introduce the ratings scale. I prefer to do this in color-coding, as shown below:

    Red is dead. This is a choice that's so bad, it actively detracts from your army synergy and makes your list a worse one overall.

    Purple is conditional. It may shine in certain matchup or when used in certain ways, but in general it's a subpar choice.

    Green is the average. Not necessarily a great choice, but it's rarely one you'll end up regretting.

    Blue is an above-average or exceptional choice. These options frequently increase army synergy and overall list strength.

    Gold is the highest rating in this handbook, and it's reserved for choices that should be staples in virtually all competitive lists. Don't leave home without 'em.

    Here, we will collect references to threads that may provide useful information and/or mathematical support to the arguments presented in this Handbook.

    1. (Character Build Thread), by rothgar13 (me)

    Last edited by rothgar13; December 15th, 2012 at 18:24.
    "The best defense is a good offense." -Gen. George S. Patton

    My philosophy on gaming, courtesy of Herm Edwards.

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    Beastmen Overall

    The first thing that has to be established when talking about Beastmen in the competitive sense is their army identity. What does this army play like? What things does it bring to the table? We'll expand upon this below:

    1. Beastmen are a Horde army. We have infantry with above-average stats (WS4, T4, and even S4 are fairly easy to obtain in this army), but with below-average defensive equipment when compared to other troops with these stats, like Saurus Warriors or Chaos Warriors. This is somewhat mitigated by their lower points cost when compared to those same elite troops, so we can compensate for our poor armor with numbers, and take advantage of mechanics such as rank bonuses, steadfast, and Horde formation more effectively. Even our more elite builds benefit greatly from having lots and lots of guys on the table.

    2. Beastmen have a strong Magic phase. While our Lore access is relatively limited and our native Lore is in the running for being the worst in the game, the main rulebook Lores we do have access to are all exceptional, and we have access to several items that can generate additional power dice, which makes our magic phase quite formidable.

    3. Beastmen depend heavily on their characters. Because most Beastmen troops have average or below-average Leadership, little immunity to Fear, Panic, or Terror, and a Leadership test-dependent combat gimmick, a strong Leadership value is crucial, and that is invariably provided by characters. Additionally, the magical strategy that sets Beastmen apart is dependent on multiple casters, so this is an army that will put lots of investment into Lords and Heroes. This is especially true for any army that looks to use Minotaurs as its primary offensive unit, as they feature poor defense for their cost and thus depend on characters who can stand in front and take damage for them.

    Beastmen Ambush

    One of the more iconic abilities that Beastmen feature is the ability to put units in ambush, which on the surface sounds like something that's pretty useful to have - it provides an alternate means of deployment, it can get potentially get ranked infantry units in an opponent's flank or rear, and you start rolling for it at Turn 1. Unfortunately, experience has shown me that it's a conditional choice. The reasons why it's proven to be sub-par for mainline usage are the following:

    1. The chart is very unfavorable. Only have a 1/6 chance of going where you want (as opposed to a 1/3 chance of being delayed, and a 1/6 chance of showing up where your opponent decides) is not good odds, and it shows in play. The occasions when you get an Ambushing unit in a genuinely useful tactical position should be celebrated, because they are rare.

    2. The units involved need character support, and they likely won't get it. This alludes to the previous point I made - since characters can't ambush along with units, you're basically gambling on that your Leadership 6 or 7 troops can nail some tests and actually contribute. A quick look at the typical distribution of 2D6 will tell you those aren't good odds. The other table edge or the far flanks typically aren't where you have your big blocks (and thus your characters) jockeying around for position, so they'll be on their own for a bit. And gods help you if your opponent can cause Fear...

    3. Requires unit redundancy. Given that you need another unit of the same size or larger on the table to ambush something, this is a tactic that can either get really pricey quickly, or force you to water down your main units in order to pack fighting-caliber numbers on your ambushers. Neither of these propositions are appealing.

    Now, don't get me wrong - ambushing is not useless. If you already out-chaff your opponent handily and he has some squishy stuff (like war machines) in his back line, an ambushing squad of Ungor Raiders is a great way to put some early pressure on it. It's also useful in a tournament setting, because it allows you to throw a deployment curveball at your opponent without actually editing your army list (remember, you choose ambushers at deployment). But, as you can see by all the qualifiers in my statements, there has to be quite a bit that goes right in order to get good mileage out of it.

    Beastmen Magic Analysis

    Herein, we'll have a discussion of the Lores of magic that Beastmen have access to, which are Lore of Beasts, Lore of Death, Lore of Shadow, and Lore of the Wild.

    Lore of Beasts

    Lore Attribute - Wildheart:
    This Lore Attribute is quite literally made for us to take advantage of. Lower casting values on a buffing Lore that is characterized for having rather pricey spells is a welcome boon.

    0. Wyssan's Wildform:
    Arguably the best signature spell in the game right now. The range is a bit short on the default version, but +1 Strength and Toughness can swing a combat in a major way, and you can always cast the augmented version if you need a bit more distance. An excellent spell to have, as even a Level 2 Wizard has a decent chance of casting it on 2 power dice.

    1. The Flock of Doom: A magic missile with decent range that inflicts a handful of low-Strength hits. Very vanilla and kind of weak, but it can be useful on occasion.

    2. Pann's Impenetrable Pelt:
    A major Toughness boost for one or more characters, depending on whether you cast the boosted version or not. It can be useful for keeping a character alive during a crucial turn where he's in a tough challenge or getting wailed on by an entire unit, but it's not going to do much more than that.

    3. The Amber Spear:
    Our version of an artillery shot, you can use it to replicate the effects of a bolt thrower, or a cannon if you use the boosted version. Can be useful for threatening monsters, fliers, and other problem targets.

    4. The Curse of Anraheir:
    An excellent spell to either hamper your opponent's combat or shooting effectiveness or make him very apprehensive about his movement. Remember that open terrain counts as terrain, so every single instance of movement that is not a normal move or a reform will provoke these tests, no matter where he's standing.

    5. The Savage Beast of Horros:
    A whopper of an offensive spell, this can make one or more characters absolutely murderous in combat. It can swing challenges even more easily than Pann's Impenetrable Pelt as well as help you kill enough rank-and-file infantry to negate a crucial turn of steadfast, and it combines especially well with any Shaman that is equipped to fight and holding the Jagged Dagger, as it can result in a self-perpetuating power dice engine (kill guys, get power dice, cast Savage Beast, kill more guys...).

    6. Transformation of Kadon:
    The first thing to point out is that the monsters offered by this spell aren't really much to talk about unless you cast the boosted version, so we'll approach it from that perspective. The Great Fire Dragon is a great way to get a one-time dose of Flaming Attacks if you desperately need them, and the Mountain Chimera is an absolute blender of a monster. That said, this spell is a bit of a gamble unless you cast while your Shaman is safely bunkered in a unit, and even then you're flirting with the miscast just to get it off. It can work, and it's spectacular when it does, but use it with caution.

    Overall: This is a pretty strong Lore to have around. My recommendation is to either bring a L4 Great Bray-Shaman who can exploit the buff spells to generate more power dice using the Jagged Dagger, or multiple L2 Wizards who can cast Wildform over and over again and really make your troops monstrous.

    Lore of Death

    Lore Attribute - Life Leeching:
    A Lore Attribute that has good potential synergy with the Beastmen book, as it can allow you to string together a potentially devastating magic phase. It isn't something to be relied on, though.

    0. Spirit Leech:
    A roll-off modified by Leadership is not quite as good for Beastmen wizards as it is for those of other races, but it can still be useful to hunt monsters or to attack Hero-level characters. The boosted version has a longer range, which helps out a lot (most Wizards don't want to be within 12" of an enemy unit, and the ones that do usually want to charge it). And at the end of the day, it's a dangerous ranged attack on an army where that is in very short supply.

    1. Aspect of the Dreadknight:
    While Fear and Terror aren't really all that and a bag of chips, one neat thing it will do for you, though, is make you immune to Fear and/or downgrade Terror to Fear for very cheap. That has some potential in an army that just doesn't have that much stuff that's Immune to Psychology, but overall the spell is a bit conditional.

    2. Caress of Laniph: An interesting spell you can use to go after enemy characters (monsters are usually a bit too beefy for this). The boosted version has a longer range, which helps it out a lot, as does its potential synergy with the Hagtree Fetish.

    3. Soulblight:
    An absolutely amazing spell. -1 Strength and Toughness is a devastating blow for an enemy unit, and the boosted version can turn the tide in even the ugliest combat situations. This is a spell you'll never regret having.

    4. Doom and Darkness:
    This spell can be useful to help break an otherwise immovable block of Steadfast troops, but the average Beastmen army won't have all that much to exploit this with. It's an absolute gutpunch to land it in a mirror match, though - this spell gives us all sorts of issues.

    5. The Fate of Bjuna:
    A more powerful version of the sniper spell, this one is both more likely to Wound and leaves a nasty aftereffect even if it doesn't finish the job. Unfortunately, the fact that it doesn't have boosted range is a major strike against it, though (as before) anything that has range at all helps. Also has synergy with the Hagtree Fetish.

    6. The Purple Sun of Xereus:
    One of 8th edition's infamous "nuke spells", the Initiative-test-or-die can be absolutely devastating against armies like Dwarfs, Lizardmen, Orcs & Goblins, Ogres, both flavors of Undead, and most monsters, and it's not exactly a picnic for armies like us, Bretonnia, or the Empire, either. One nasty thing about this one is that since it's a magical vortex, you can fling it right into a combat and watch the ensuing carnage. That said, its range is a bit unreliable, the casting value is monstrous, and it can hurt you quite a bit if it backfires. Use with caution.

    This is a strong Lore in that it can help us do things other than fight while providing spells that are useful in fights, but I strongly recommend a high-level caster in order to get good mileage out of it.

    Lore of Shadow

    Lore Attribute - Smoke and Mirrors:
    While you do have to get a bit clever to wring any use of this thing, it can potentially get your mage's skillet out of the fire, or help put characters in better situations, and all effectively for free.

    0. Melkoth's Mystifying Miasma: Remember when I said that Wyssan's Wildform is arguably the best signature spell in the game? Meet its competition. The ability to lower enemy movement puts all sort of unit avoidance shenanigans into play, lowering Ballistic Skill is a fantastic way to combat small-arms shooting, and debuffing Weapon Skill and/or Initiative can swing a combat your way. An absolute gem of a spell.

    1. Steed of Shadows:
    Useful for advancing characters such as lone Doombulls to enemy lines quickly. Otherwise... not much to see here.

    2. The Enfeebling Foe:
    Reducing enemy Strength can swing combats and help keep a lot of your guys alive, and its being a Remains in Play spell means that it will sap enemy dice before it goes away.

    3. The Withering:
    A potentially backbreaking spell, this spell can help even the humblest regiments of Gors chew through big tough monsters with little trouble. Being Remains in Play means that your opponent has to expend resources to make it go away, which is always nice.

    4. The Penumbral Pendulum:
    A "cannonball" that has unreliable range and allows an Initiative test to avoid. There's better stuff to be had in this Lore.

    5. Pit of Shades:
    Another one of the infamous "nuke" spells, this one has several perks, one of which being that you get to choose the unit you're going to dump it on, and that the range and casting cost are pretty decent. You can't cast it into combat and the template does have a chance of scattering, but those are mostly nitpicks. A great spell to have.

    6. Okkam's Mindrazor: Another amazing spell, this spell will give even the most humble Ungor a massive boost to their effective Strength, making Beastmen's already accurate attacks exponentially more dangerous. While we're not as fast or as high up on the Leadership scale as some of the other armies that use this to great effect (notably the Elves), we usually have a heck of a lot more guys benefiting from it.

    I consider this the best Lore we have access to overall. I heartily recommend a few low-level Bray-Shamans so you can cast Miasma multiple times per turn as the absolute minimum you should bring.

    Lore of the Wild

    Lore Attribute - None:
    This is a Lore from an older edition, so it doesn't have a Lore attribute. Started off on the wrong foot, here...

    0. Bestial Surge:
    The fact that this spell makes you turn to face the closest unit makes it very difficult to use if your opponent brings any stripe of chaff, and the range and magnitude of effect are quite weak. Only truly useful against gunlines.

    1. Viletide:
    The Strength of these hits is very low, but Beastmen have access to the tools that you need (like the Hagtree Fetish) to actually make this spell a threat, and it will definitely spell doom for squishy chaff units. Not amazing (and worthless against armor), but solid.

    2. Devolve:
    This spell can be useful for picking off chaff and flankers that could be threatening your main blocks, but given its range, it's unlikely to affect anything that's not within range of the enemy army's General and/or Battle Standard-Bearer, who will make passing the test easy.

    3. Bray-Scream:
    A decent spell from the shooting perspective, but it would be much better if it could be cast into combat for a shot at free combat resolution.

    4. Traitor-Kin:
    The emergence of Monstrous Cavalry has made this a solid spell, but it does suffer from being mediocre or worse against any army that does not have that unit type.

    5. Mantle of Ghorok:
    A less reliable, more expensive, shorter-ranged, and more dangerous version of The Savage Beast of Horros. Not really my cup of tea.

    6. Savage Dominion:
    Arguably the best spell in this Lore, it can be a great potential boon to bring in a monster from any table edge that doesn't provide any Victory Points when slain. The key problem is that your Shaman will be out of commission while the Beast lives, and unless he's a Great Bray-Shaman, he's more than likely to die with the monster if it falls. Not a spell for the risk-averse.

    Overall: This is a very difficult Lore to use effectively, and the main reason why is because the spells are either conditional or mediocre. However, a L4 Great Bray-Shaman with this Lore and a casting partner in crime to help get the debuffs across could work.
    Last edited by rothgar13; January 16th, 2013 at 05:18.
    "The best defense is a good offense." -Gen. George S. Patton

    My philosophy on gaming, courtesy of Herm Edwards.

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    Beastmen Units


    Beastlord - This guy is the heart of a standard Beastmen army. His high Leadership makes Primal Fury work and makes him solid offensively, and he's tough enough to take some punishment. He's at his best when running around with a large Horde of Gors or Bestigors and keeping them pointed in the right direction, which is usually full speed ahead.

    Doombull - A Lord for more aggressive players, this guy trades in some Leadership ability as compared to the Beastlord for sheer combat muscle. The only characters that are in the same combat zip code as a kitted-out Doombull are Chaos Lords, Greater Daemons, and a Red Fury Vampire Lord, and even then they should be apprehensive of the Minotaur wrecking ball.

    Gorthor the Beastlord - He's forced to be on a chariot, costs a motherload of points, and has negligible saves. This conspires to undermine all the positives his enhanced Leadership range, Killing Blow weapon, and free bound spells could have ever provided him.

    Great Bray-Shaman - The one constant in the majority of Beastmen competitive lists, he can be equipped to fight as well as cast, which gives him an added dimension of versatility that sets him as the premier Lord choice in the book.

    Khazrak the One-Eye - While not having a Ward save and his price tag give me a bit of pause, he's a fantastic troop-muncher, has a fighting chance against some enemy characters thanks to his high armor save and ability to shut off magic weapons, and his ability to turn Beastmen Ambush into something resembling a reliable mechanic is not to be underestimated.

    Malagor, the Dark Omen - While he has no saves of any kind, his ability to fly should help keep him out of trouble, and his other special abilities make him well worth the price of admission, in my opinion.

    Taurox, the Brass Bull - Essentially a Doombull with a "locked-in" build, he sports above-average Toughness and a considerable armor save in return (although that Brass Body insta-kill clause freaks me out a bit). His ability to deal with Regenerators and heavily armored troops with equal ease makes him a pretty good character, when you think about it.


    Bray-Shaman - These guys are essential if you're going to use the Shard of the Herdstone, and having some Lore versatility (or a second chance at a great signature spell) never hurts.

    Gorebull - His limited magic item allowance combines with his extremely high base cost to only make him useful in a Minotaur-centric army, but it should be noted he's quite good in that context.

    Gorebull Battle Standard-Bearer - Outside of a Minotaur army, I wouldn't consider him a good idea.

    Moonclaw, Son of Morrslieb - A disjointed, confused mess. Horribly overpriced with terrible abilities and nothing resembling the stats to make it up. Avoid like the plague.

    Morghur, Master of Skulls
    - While his aura is certainly a boon to the shooting-hating Beastmen, he costs a truckload of points in a slot that typically doesn't have many to spare, and that's a strong mitigating factor when it comes to considering him as an option.

    Slugtongue - Very expensive for a Shaman (and his Lore selection is limited), but he can Regenerate, and the Curse of the Famine-Fiend is a nice way to get the game started, especially against enemy war machine crews.

    Wargor - Rather overpriced in base cost, which limits his utility. Still decent if you need a certain magic item (and higher Leadership) in a certain unit at higher points totals.

    Wargor Battle Standard-Bearer - An anchor of the overwhelming majority of Beastmen lists, he provides the almighty re-roll on Leadership tests that every mortal army needs, and can supplement the prowess of a unit (especially Gors) if he carries the Beast Banner. Additionally, access to Gifts of Chaos means that giving him said banner does not deprive him of all defensive options.


    Chaos Warhounds - Cheap and fast units are always handy, but not counting toward minimum Core is a strike against them when compared to the equivalently priced Ungor Raiders.

    Ghorros Warhoof - Making Centigors Core makes them significantly better, and he provides a source of Multiple Wounds attacks at a solid Strength value. His fragility means he's rather likely to die, but that may not always be that terrible an outcome.

    Gor Herd - A very solid unit when fielded with additional hand weapons, it becomes even better when supported with magic and the presence of the Beast Banner.

    Tuskgor Chariot - A decent flanker who can provide combat resolution in a pinch as well as be a magnet for artillery fire, its only flaw is its inability to march.

    Ungor Herd - A decent unit you can field in numbers to slow down anything scary by going in a narrow formation and forcing the enemy to kill them all before he can move on. Bear in mind they'll need your General nearby for that sort of duty, though - Leadership 6 means they're not likely to hold on their own.

    Ungor Raiders - Skirmishing archers make for a very nice screening unit, as well as an expansion of the army's capabilities (shooting!).

    Ungrol Four-Horn - He would be decent on a unit of ambushing Ungors, but the only thing a unit of Ungors will accomplish by ambushing on their own is an ugly death. He's a liability in any other situation. Avoid.


    Bestigor Herd - Solidly priced, tough great weapon wielders that only need steady Leadership in order to be devastatingly effective.

    Centigors - Very solid offensively, but their mediocre defense combined with their high points cost, low Initiative, and the unreliability of Drunken conspire to undermine them in my mind.

    Harpies - Warmachine hunters and screeners extraordinaire, they don't cost much and are more than a match for most other chaff as well as weak infantry.

    Minotaurs - Very destructive, but their fragility combined with their middling Leadership means they require careful planning or character support in order to be truly effective.

    Razorgor Chariot - This is the big-boy version of the Tuskgor Chariot, and it's worth the points to upgrade. It will usually produce a higher Wound differential than 2 Tuskgor Chariots, and it's fairly tough to kill in combat. You don't want to run these into Hordes on their own, but in tandem they can probably do some real damage.

    Razorgor Herd - Don't be fooled by the unit name - these guys are meant to be fielded solo. With that in mind, it's the beefiest chaff unit we have access to, and he can quite easily double as a flanker and even duke it out with enemy monsters if you give him a bit of support.


    Chaos Spawn - T5 and Unbreakable sound appealing, but all that good is undone by its low speed and pathetic offensive ability. One look at the Razorgor will show you why almost no one takes this unit.

    Cygor - Far too expensive to be fielded as mere artillery, and it's too unreliable to be considered a true combat unit, with its puny Weapon Skill and lack of saves. A wasteful choice.

    Ghorgon - Bloodgreed can be a mixed blessing, having no saves makes him a very expensive fire magnet, and he needs to get going a bit before you can throw him into a big infantry unit (and even then, he'll need help). Still, if you can get him into the fights you want reliably, he can be a big help.

    Giant - Formidable against enemy monsters and most of the things he'd run into while occupying a flank, but he faces difficulties when shot at en masse or confronted by ranked infantry with the equipment to get past his Toughness. His price doesn't do him many favors either. Not bad, but limited.

    Jabberslythe - Like most monsters in the Beastmen army, a high points cost combined with a relative defensive fragility really limit what you can use him for. Fortunately, flight and an aura that can threaten units on the flanks without actually engaging them in combat (a rarity in the Beastmen army) enhance its stock somewhat. It can probably do well if you're using it to clear chaff and hunt down enemy mages, though it's a bit pricey for that job.
    Last edited by rothgar13; December 15th, 2012 at 19:38.
    "The best defense is a good offense." -Gen. George S. Patton

    My philosophy on gaming, courtesy of Herm Edwards.

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    Magic Items

    In this section, we'll break down magic item choices from both the main rulebook and the Beastmen rulebook. One thing to point out is that we'll take this opportunity to review the Gifts of Chaos, even though they're not technically magic items.

    Beastmen Army Book

    Gifts of Chaos

    Crown of Horns - Very expensive, but can be interesting in larger games, when the Crown of Command has already been taken.

    Gnarled Hide - Can be combined with armor, magic items, and/or a shield for a quite formidable save. No reason to not take it.

    Gouge-Tusks - Armor Piercing is an interesting ability to have, and it's not costing much.

    Many-Limbed Fiend - A free attack at basic Strength. You can do worse.

    Rune of the True Beast - Too conditional to truly be of mainline use.

    Shadow-Hide - A conditional benefit, but a good one given the price.

    Slug-Skin - A handful of Strength 3 hits really isn't worth as much as this gift is trying to charge you for it.

    Uncanny Senses - Can be nice to get your Great Bray-Shaman or Wargor up to that Initiative 5 he might need to improve his odds at fighting at a crucial time or dodging a nuke spell.

    Magic Weapons

    Axe of Men
    - Can potentially be interesting, but takes a bit too long to do anything remotely worth its points.

    Axes of Khorgor
    - A nice weapon for a Doombull, as it provide condition-free re-rolls along with an extra attack.

    - A puncher's chance at getting a free Wound. A bit expensive for what it does.

    Hunting Spear
    - The ability to fling Bolt Thrower-style shots is nice, but Beastmen characters only having Ballistic Skill 3 really puts a cap on how awesome this can be.

    - Terror and a Leadership-sapping effect on Wounds. Could be worse, I guess.

    Primeval Club - Far too expensive for something so conditional.

    Stonecrusher Mace - A formidable Strength boost, with a conditional aftereffect. Decent enough.

    The Brass Cleaver - A decent troop-munching weapon, though it's at its best when put on guy who has a wide frontage, like a Beastlord on a Chariot.

    The Steel-Claws - A variable number of extra attacks, along with a puncher's chance at ignoring armor. Not bad.

    Magic Armor

    Blackened Plate - Protecting an entire unit against fire can be a great boon for anyone going monster hunting, or to protect yourself against attacks that must be flaming.

    Blade-Blunter Armor - An interesting property... if your character survives to reap the benefits.

    Pelt of the Shadowgave - Such a minor benefit against shooting or spells shouldn't be this expensive.

    Ramhorn Helm - A great "bite-back" sort of ability, when combined with a properly high armor save.

    Trollhide - It's weaker than the Armor of Destiny in most aspects, but any way to get a strong save can be useful in a large enough game.


    Chalice of Dark Rain - A potential back-breaker against gunline armies, this can buy you a turn of respite against even the nastiest shooting.

    Eye of Night - Magic resistance is rather conditional, as is an effect that only works against the Lores of Life, Light, and Heavens, and only if they miscast. I am unconvinced.

    Arcane Items

    Hagtree Fetish - Can be very interesting on a Death caster, who can use it to put a little extra punch behind his sniper spells. Also useful with direct damage spells like Viletide.

    Jagged Dagger - This item can be combined with a Beasts Great Bray-Shaman that is built to fight in close combat for a source of even more bonus power dice, and that's always worth noting.

    Skull of Rarkos - Very pricey, but a casting bonus that can affect multiple characters is worth considering.

    Staff of Darkoth - Pricey, but getting another go at Viletide can be useful for the right sort of list.

    Enchanted Items

    Cacophonous Dirge - A bit conditional for its price.

    Horn of the First Beast - While I would normally consider anything with such a huge range useful, this really costs a lot of points for something that's redundant with a Battle Standard-Bearer and not as good a blanket effect (plus, what units are getting into combat 36" away from your characters? Chances are they're in trouble, Primal Fury or not).

    Horn of the Great Hunt - Very pricey, and while it fixes one of the issues of Bestial Surge (the range of effect), it doesn't address the others.

    Shard of the Herdstone - Additional power dice for having Shamans? Don't mind if I do...

    Skin of Man - This can set up some interesting tricks when combined with factors like the Lore of Shadow Attribute, or can simply act as a mechanism to get a nuke caster in range to deliver his payload quickly.

    Stone of Spite - This item has potential, given the amount of magic-users who tote their precious Arcane Items around. It has to be used carefully, as your opponent does get to try and stop it.

    Magic Banners

    Banner of Outrage - I can't fathom a scenario when giving an opponent re-rolls to hit will help me. If you want to pass Primal Fury all the time, bring characters.

    Manbane Standard - A nice effect, but the range is a bit short.

    The Beast Banner - An absolute gem. A unit-wide +1 Strength is too good to pass up.

    Totem of Rust - It can be interesting, but the only unit that can field it without a Battle Standard-Bearer (Bestigors) are both unlikely to need it and affected by its downside.

    Warhammer Rulebook

    Magic Weapons

    Berserker Sword - Keeps a Minotaur unit nice and angry for eternity, provided you bring a Minotaur character with it along.

    Biting Blade - You could do worse than this.

    Fencer's Blades - A great weapon for characters you want in combat, but you don't want getting hit often.

    Giant Blade - A huge bonus to Strength, though I am of the opinion that it's a bit of overkill.

    Gold Sigil Sword - If you want to go faster on the cheap, this is a good option.

    Obsidian Blade - Chances are you can slice through most armor by increasing your Strength, rather than having to resort to this.

    Ogre Blade - A nice Strength bump at a reasonable price.

    Relic Sword - Chances are you're doing better than what this sword would on just about anything by default.

    Shrieking Blade - Not a bad price to pay for Fear (and its attendant immunity to Fear).

    Spellthieving Sword - I'd rather focus on killing the mage than on stripping his spells.

    Sword of Anti-Heroes - Sure, it's conditional, but it's already a bargain if you get the effect once. One of my favorite magic weapons.

    Sword of Battle - Beastmen get a discount on this item, and it makes a difference.

    Sword of Bloodshed - Lots of extra attacks, but the price tag gives me pause.

    Sword of Might - A cheap bonus to Strength. A pretty nice item.

    Sword of Strife - Extra attacks are nice, but the math favors quality over quantity.

    Sword of Striking - Primal Fury makes its effect less dramatic, and it costs extra for us.

    Sword of Swift Slaying - A great way to get a Doombull re-rolls to hit over most infantry, as well as maximizing his impact by having him go first.

    Tormentor Sword - An interesting ability, though only relevant if the enemy manages to disengage somehow.

    Warrior Bane - Pretty neat for the price.

    Magic Armor

    Armor of Destiny - Arguably the best armor to keep a character alive in. I don't leave home without it.

    Armor of Fortune - Pretty close to the Armor of Destiny at first glance, but the dropoff from a 4+ save to a 5+ save is steep.

    Armor of Silvered Steel - A formidable save, but the price tag is rather high.

    Charmed Shield - Any character who sees cannonballs heading his way in the near future should consider this item.

    Dragonhelm - It's cheap, it improves your armor save, and protects you against flaming attacks. What's not to like?

    Enchanted Shield - We get a much more expensive version of this item than most armies, which greatly reduces its otherwise considerable appeal.

    Gambler's Armor - The odds on this gamble aren't favorable enough.

    Glittering Scales - A penalty to hit can be as good as a strong armor save in some cases.

    Helm of Discord - Can potentially turn a challenge on its head, but it relies on characters failing Leadership tests, which doesn't happen much by default.

    Shield of Ptolos - The kind of shooting characters should be worried about usually doesn't allow armor saves.

    Spellshield - A bit of magic resistance isn't really that impressive a benefit.

    Trickster's Helm - A good potential deterrent, if you face attacks that are unlikely to wound you the second time around.


    Dawnstone - This item has great synergy with the Ramhorn Helm and a strong armor save.

    Dragonbane Gem - Virtual immunity to flaming attacks, for next to nothing. Pretty nice hedge bet.

    Luckstone - A one-time do-over on an armor save can come in handy.

    Obsidian Amulet - A decent bit of magic resistance, and it's not terribly expensive.

    Obsidian Lodestone - Magic resistance isn't much to write home about in most cases, but this is a sizable value and it affects an entire unit. Could be worse.

    Obsidian Trinket - Chances are this save is too weak to matter.

    Opal Amulet - One good shot at making a save is usually better than multiple bad shots at it, especially if you don't have that many Wounds to start with.

    Pidgeon Plucker Pendant
    - Conditional, but the save it grants is pretty good.

    Seed of Rebirth - While the chance of actually making the save isn't good, it is pretty cheap.

    Talisman of Endurance - The gap from 4+ to 5+ is significant, so this item only comes into play when the big boy saves are taken.

    Talisman of Preservation - Another excellent defensive item that should make its way into most, if not all, lists.

    Talisman of Protection - A puncher's chance at making a save is a bit too low for me.

    Arcane Items

    Book of Ashur - Very expensive, but that bonus could add up.

    Channeling Staff - The average Beastmen list has enough channel attempts as to make this unnecessary.

    Dispel Scroll - The essential component of any magic defense. I'd never leave home without it.

    Earthing Rod - If your caster is the lynchpin of your strategy, a little insurance never hurts.

    Feedback Scroll - Looks appealing at first glance, but you'll rarely have a good chance to use it.

    Forbidden Rod - Beastmen have easier and safer ways of making power dice.

    Power Scroll - If you're aiming for a huge casting value on a few dice, this is a huge boon.

    Power Stone - Extra dice on demand is nice to have.

    Scepter of Stability - A pretty solid item to try and make sure a key spell doesn't get through.

    Scroll of Leeching - This is a bit of a gamble that can be seen coming and thwarted by your opponent, and that's before irresistible force rears its head. And it's not cheap.

    Scroll of Shielding - Dirt cheap, though it only protects against damaging spells.

    Sivejir's Hex Scroll - Not always useful, but it can be potentially devastating with a little luck and timing.

    Staff of Sorcery - A bump to dispel attempts is probably worth the price of admission.

    Trickster's Shard - Simply won't come up enough to be useful.

    Wand of Jet - Pricier than the Power Stone, and for less juice. That's not quite worth the fact that you can decide when you use it if you ask me.

    Enchanted Items

    Arabyan Carpet - If you're looking to get a Doombull or a Great Bray-Shaman to enemy lines as fast as possible, this item is an option to consider.

    Crown of Command - Stubborn is a great ability to have, but I consider it a bit of a luxury these days. It does expand the capabilities of the unit that has it, though.

    Featherfoe Torc - A bit expensive, given how conditional it is.

    Fozzrik's Folding Fortress - Outside of gimmick points-denial lists, Beastmen don't stand to gain all that much by cooping themselves up in a giant building.

    Healing Potion - A Doombull is the only sort of character in this army that stands to gain any real benefit from this item.

    Ironcurse Icon - Dirt cheap, and it protects against shooting that hits enough people for a 6+ save to actually matter.

    Potion of Foolhardiness - Very cheap, and +1 Attacks is nothing to sneeze at.

    Potion of Speed - Initiative between otherwise evenly matched characters can decide who lives and who dies, and it's dirt cheap.

    Potion of Strength - This gives you one turn of awesome combat potential when you need it the most.

    Potion of Toughness - If you need a character to hold out for one crucial turn, this wll help you do it.

    Ruby Ring of Ruin - This will usually draw out a couple of dispel dice, but don't count on it to do much more than that.

    The Other Trickster's Shard
    - If Ward saves on enemy characters concern you, this provides a quick and easy solution.

    The Terrifying Mask of EEE!
    - Hilarity aside, this item can be solid on a character that was never expected to provide Leadership in the first place.

    Wizarding Hat - A fun item for sure. How useful it is depends on the day.

    Magic Banners

    Banner of Eternal Flame
    - Beastmen have poor access to Flaming Attacks, so you may need this to counter the Regenerators of the world.

    Banner of Swiftness
    - Extra movement is certainly interesting, though its utility is debatable on infantry that already moves fast.

    Gleaming Pennant - An emergency do-over on a Leadership test can be useful for a unit that's striking out on its own.

    Lichebone Pennant - I can think of better things to do with my magic banner slot than take a weak and conditional save.

    Rampager's Standard - A bit too pricey to truly be useful.

    Ranger's Standard - Most units that can take this banner aren't really concerned with terrain, and this is a lot of points to ensure the safety of a single chariot.

    Razor Standard - Armor Piercing can make Bestigors capable of chopping through most armor out there.

    Scarecrow Banner - Conditional, but that's not all bad, given how cheap it is.

    Standard of Discipline - Provided you put your General in this unit, this item can help you solidify your Leadership base even further.

    Wailing Banner - Causing Terror could potentially be useful against armies with weak Leadership values, and it also works defensively as it protects you from Terror and Fear. That patches up some bad matchups, and as such I value it highly.

    War Banner - We get it for cheaper than most, and +1 CR is useful. Not a world-beater, though.
    Last edited by rothgar13; December 15th, 2012 at 19:52.
    "The best defense is a good offense." -Gen. George S. Patton

    My philosophy on gaming, courtesy of Herm Edwards.

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    Recommended Unit Formations and Tactics

    Since different units in our army have different roles, I'll include a brief primer on what I think our units do best on the battlefield, and what size and formation I think our units are most efficient in.


    Beastlord - This guy goes front and center no matter what - he's fighty enough to give and take hits, and his Leadership is also very important. I mostly recommend him being in a unit of Gors or Bestigors, but even putting him up on a chariot isn't a terrible idea, provided you protect him against artillery.

    Doombull - This guy has 2 main options on how to reach the enemy - he can either strike out on his own as a wandering force of destruction, or he can lead a unit of Minotaurs to battle. Each has their merits, and it really depends on whether you're willing to put down the points on Minotaurs or not.

    Gorthor the Beastlord - If you must field him, field him defensively. His saves are very poor and his Leadership bubble is very large, so you can hide him behind another chariot and pop him out when there's a unit he has a good chance of rolling over without getting hurt.

    Great Bray-Shaman - The options here range from either sitting him in the back so he doesn't get targeted (preferably near a Herdstone), or gearing him up to fight and throwing him in there. Each has their benefits.

    Khazrak the One-Eye - Same as a Beastlord.

    Malagor, the Dark Omen - Take advantage of his auras and Flight, and have him hover just behind your units, where he's relatively safe. If he's targeted by small-arms fire, just put him into a unit while you eliminate the threat.

    Taurox, the Brass Bull - Same as a Doombull.


    Bray-Shaman - In general, you want these guys around the Herdstone giving you power dice. They're not incompetent at combat, though, so if you want to bunker one in a fighting unit with some gear, it can be done.

    Gorebull - If he's in your list, you should also bring Minotaurs, in which case he rolls with them.

    Gorebull Battle Standard-Bearer - Same as a Gorebull.

    Moonclaw, Son of Morrslieb - Don't bring him at all.

    Morghur, Master of Skulls - If you must, run him near units like Gors or Ungors, so that his ability to generate Spawn doesn't come at the opportunity cost of expensive troops. Beware of what he runs up against, though - 2 Wounds with no save won't last long.

    Slugtongue - A bit different from a typical Bray-Shaman in that he can handle the heat of being in close combat a bit, so you don't have to be apprehensive about sitting him in the front rank of a Gor unit that's getting into fights.

    Wargor - A good way to boost the Leadership and provide a little extra bite on a unit of Gors or Bestigors.

    Wargor Battle Standard-Bearer - Place him in a big unit of Gors, and watch him work his magic.


    Chaos Warhounds - These guys work best as dummy drops, screeners, redirectors, and general annoyances. As such, squads of 5 with no upgrades are the order of the day.

    Ghorros Warhoof - A decent-sized unit of Centigors (9 + him) is what I'd go for. As long as you choose your targets wisely, they should be all right. Remember that even if Ghorros dies, your opponent doesn't get points unless the entire unit gets axed (he counts as a unit champion, not as a character).

    Gor Herd - These guys will form one of your mainstay combat units, and can also be fielded as ambushers to disrupt your opponent's backfield. Mainline fighting units should number at least 40 strong once characters are included, but I would run ambushing units at about 15-20. Horde formation is a good idea for the mainline unit, not so much for ambushers.

    Tuskgor Chariot - Its job is run into a fight that would otherwise be hotly contested and turn it in your favor with some valuable combat resolution from a flank charge and impact hits, or to clear out a chaff unit trying to block you from a matchup you can win head-on. As such, run it close to your blocks and rush it out as necessary.

    Ungor Herd - In general, these guys are there to get punched in the face so that your better troops don't have to. They can also serve as a secondary combat unit, should you face troops weak enough for them to overwhelm, especially if they get some magic on their side. Either way, you want at least 40 of these guys, with a bit of command (musician for sure, standard-bearer is nice, champion is unnecessary).

    Ungor Raiders - These guys fill the dummy drop/screener/redirector/general annoyance role, and provide a bit of shooting while they're at it. Units of 5 with no command are the order of the day.

    Ungrol Four-Horn - Don't.


    Bestigor Herd - Arguably the best choice Beastmen have to offer in the list anchor department, a big unit of 40 (counting characters) and a nice magic banner is how I would field them. You could use them to hunt monsters as well, but character support is strongly recommended for that s well.

    Centigors - Can either be fielded in 5-man squads to take advantage of their speed to hunt war machines or enemy redirectors, or bulked up to 10 if they expect to see combat in the flanks. I prefer them in the latter role.

    Harpies - These guys are at their best hunting war machines, though they can screen or redirect in a pinch. Units of 5 do the job well, and Scout is worth the points if you have them to spare.

    Minotaurs - I'm a "go big or go home" proponent with Minotaurs - either you bring a block of them and support it with characters, or you leave them on the shelf. If you do bring them, just slam them into whatever you want dead, and watch the limbs fly.

    Razorgor Chariot - Fills the flanker and chaff killer role well, though its being more formidable in combat than its Core cousin means you don't have to be as apprehensive of throwing it into tougher units.

    Razorgor Herd - They can redirect and kill enemy redirectors, and in a pinch, they can hit a unit's flank pretty hard. Units of 1 is where it's at.


    Chaos Spawn - They are limited units overall, but they make decent flank guards, as Unbreakable means they have to kill it in order to get past it.

    Cygor - They seem to be designed to lob a few rocks as they close into combat, but I would advise against that, as their combat ability is rather poor. Only charge things that are going to charge you next turn anyway. I wouldn't field this guy at all, though.

    Ghorgon - I am of the opinion that these guys are at their best on flanks, where the opponent will have to direct mainline attention to them (and thus not to the rest of your army), because most units that occupy flanks don't have a prayer against it. Additionally, every cheap unit it eats makes it a better fighter.

    Giant - Another monster that does well on flanks, it also has the benefit of performing spectacularly against most monsters. It's also priced such that running 2 of them (one on each side) doesn't break the bank.

    Jabberslythe - If you are fielding this unit, I recommend taking full advantage of its flight in order to seek targets that can't easily fend it off. It can be an effective mage, war machine, and chaff hunter, as well as a decent secondary combatant, provided it's not in anyone's front arc.

    Sample Army Lists

    Here, I'll provide a couple of army lists that I've brewed up, mostly based on the lists that I've taken to battle in my games. Feel free to use them as a base for your own army.

    Herdstone + Hordes - 2500 points

    Core - 708 points
    48 Gors, Additional Hand Weapons, Full Command [Wargor Battle Standard-Bearer and Great Bray-Shaman go here]
    40 Ungors, Musician, Standard-Bearer
    3 x 5 Ungor Raiders

    Special - 673 points
    39 Bestigors, Full Command, Banner of Eternal Flame [Beastlord goes here]
    2 x Razorgor
    5 Harpies

    Heroes - 546 points
    Wargor, Battle Standard-Bearer, The Beast Banner, Gnarled Hide, Heavy Armor, Shield
    Bray-Shaman, Chalice of Dark Rain [Lore of Shadow]
    Bray-Shaman, Dispel Scroll [Lore of Shadow]
    Bray-Shaman, Shard of the Herdstone [Lore of Shadow]

    Lords - 573 points
    Beastlord, Armor of Destiny, Dragonbane Gem, Potion of Strength, Shield, Sword of Battle [General]
    Great Bray-Shaman, Fencer's Blades, Hagtree Fetish, L4 Wizard, Talisman of Preservation [Lore of Death]

    Grand Total: 2500 points

    Minobus - 2500 points

    Core - 638 points
    2 x Tuskgor Chariot
    2 x 40 Ungors, Musician, Standard-Bearer
    2 x 5 Ungor Raiders

    Special - 644 points
    2 x 5 Harpies
    6 Minotaurs, Full Command, Blackened Plate, Shields [Minotaur characters go here]
    2 x Razorgor

    Heroes - 601 points
    Bray-Shaman, AHW, Dispel Scroll, L2 Wizard [Lore of Beasts]
    Gorebull, Armor of Destiny, Battle Standard-Bearer, Shield
    Gorebull, Heavy Armor, Ironcurse Icon, Shield, Talisman of Preservation

    Lords - 617 points
    Doombull, Dawnstone, Gnarled Hide, Heavy Armor, Ramhorn Helm, Shield, Sword of Swift Slaying [General]
    Great Bray-Shaman, AHW, Chalice of Dark Rain, L4 Wizard [Lore of Shadow]

    Grand Total: 2500 points
    Last edited by rothgar13; January 16th, 2013 at 17:45.
    "The best defense is a good offense." -Gen. George S. Patton

    My philosophy on gaming, courtesy of Herm Edwards.

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    Thank you for a truly 100% useful and useable post. I really appreciate the time you took to put this info into a format that a new guy can easily assimilate. This is going to make it so much easier and more fun for me to pick up on Beastmen. Much appreciated.

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    Yeah, I hope people find it to be useful. That way I can stop re-posting the same arguments over and over, if nothing else.
    "The best defense is a good offense." -Gen. George S. Patton

    My philosophy on gaming, courtesy of Herm Edwards.

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    I'll also throw in my thanks for this comprehensive list of beastly awesome! Having always wanted to start up a Beastmen army, this primer is very helpful! Kudos sir, kudos!
    (WH40K) Dark Eldar - (12,000pts) Sisters of Battle - (5000pts) Dark Angels -(3500pts) (WHFB) Dark Elves - (10,000pts) Beastmen - (5000pts) Empire - (3000pts) Wood Elves - (1500pts)

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    Glad to hear it. That's what it's here for. I'll try to put up a couple of sample army lists there as well.
    "The best defense is a good offense." -Gen. George S. Patton

    My philosophy on gaming, courtesy of Herm Edwards.

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    Senior Member SheBeast76's Avatar
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    Always great to see players, still having faith in the Beastmen . And an updated guide to boot !

    As stated before, the guide is smoothly structured, so even the most green-horned beginner can understand its teachings .

    Rep for you, sir !

    ( Sends out a raiding party, to hunt down a "Mod of Civilization" , and return with sticky spoils ... )

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