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Monday, February 8, 2010

Beastmen Book Review, Part One (Fluff and Pictures)


Each year, I switch to a new Warhammer Fantasy army to work on for the year. This year, as of this past Saturday, I switched from Dark Elves to Beastmen.  I've been following the Beast rumors for the past few months, so it was with some nervousness that I actually got the book this weekend.  Is the army really terrible?  Should I have to assemble a couple hundred models through tear filled eyes?
After reading through the book, I'm fairly confident that I can make Beastmen work well for me on the table, although there will be some colossal failures caused by incredibly low leadership and randomness.  The army seems fun though, with the aforementioned randomness and some big fun monsters.  So lets dive right into the book, starting with the background and painting sections, and see what this whole big bag of furry craziness holds.

Background:  So this whole section is a bit weird, coming from the old Beast background.  In the old Beasts of Chaos background, Beastmen were mutated people from the Chaos Incursion, who were savage followers of the Chaos Gods.  Nowadays, Beastmen are neanderthals mixed with beasts, who naturally from birth follow Chaos.  Chaos doesn't need to really pay attention to Beastmen, as they instinctively have to follow...which is a fancy way of explaining how Beastmen don't get Marks of Chaos or any of the fun Chaos items anymore.  

On the whole, the background section is well done, though.  It's got 20+ pages of heft, and some neat stories dealing with attacks on mankind, especially Empire and Bretonnia (The Brets show up a lot in this book, which is a good sign that my first army is coming soon, I hope).  The fluff on the new units, like the Ghorgon and Jabberslythe, explain them well.  I especially liked how the vicious and cruel character of the Ungors and Gors were fleshed out.  

I could have done with a bit more background on some of the Special Characters.  Morghur, one of the big characters of the old book, is relegated to small time status now.  Moonclaw, who seems like a cool idea for a special character, only gets a couple paragraphs and one of those fuzzy John Blanche drawings.  I like Blanche and his art, but to get a character who isn't really well described (he looks kinda like a Beastman!) and then an unclear drawing to go with it is a bit rough.  Apparently there's a Beasty looking guy who is not a Beast.  He flew down from the moon and rides a weird mount.  GW, I could do with a bit more description.  

I also miss the timelines.  Man, those things are awesome in the books they've appeared in, because they allow for all kinds of tiny fluff droppings (heh) to happen.  This book lacks the little name drops that are so fun elsewhere.  

Of course, any complaints I have about the background section are pretty much null as I remember that there's a story in here about a Beastlord who gets drunk on Dwarf ale, mauls an entire Dwarf clan, and then randomly wanders away in the morning with a hangover.  Quality stuff.  

Overall, I'm going to give the background section a B+.  A lot of the fun is there, just not to the optimal level that I've seen in many of the recent books.  

Painting:  Take your television and jack the contrast up to the highest level possible.  Welcome to the new Beastmen paint job.  I know I've mentioned this before, but GW sure shows the ability to maul nice looking models with a garbage paint selection (see Witch Elves).  Here, they've chosen a flesh color for all the Beastmen, and highlighted and shaded until things look completely absurd.  On the Gors and Ungors, there are a few terrible examples, but most things look okay.  On the Minotaurs, which I have and aren't bad models, I think they've managed to make the models look awful, and probably cost themselves some customers in the process.  

And then there's the conversion front.  This is an army with a ton of new monstrous choices.  You've got your Cygor, Jabbeslythe, and Ghorgon.  Instead of showing any awesome conversions, which GW used to do, we get a million pictures of the basic Giant kit.  This is not exciting stuff at all.  

Overall, the painting section is nothing special, and a real missed opportunity.  You've got some technically well painted but badly painted models, and a complete lack of the cool conversions that could have been shown.  I give it a C-.  

The list beckons, and we'll start digging into it tomorrow! 

1 comment:

  1. I agree with the lack of conversion ideas regarding the Cygor, Jabbeslythe and Ghorgon miniatures. Its almost as if GW didn't give a damn about this book !!