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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Beastmen Book Review, Part Two (Army Special Rules and Magic)


Now that we've talked about the fluffy and pretty stuff in the book, we can move on to the meat and potatoes (or in the Beastman's case, meat and more meat).  An army book eventually boils down to the last few pages of charts, numbers and fancy items, and while the Beastmen may not have received the feast that some other books have enjoyed, they aren't left to starve either.  

Army Special Rules:  We've got two special rules.

Primal Fury - Beastmen (but only the actual Beastmen and not Minotaurs and the like) take a leadership test in close combat.  If passed, they gain hatred.  On a double one, they gain hatred and frenzy.  This test is taken in every round of combat. 

So remember when the Dark Elf book was coming out, and there were a lot of cries that Hatred would make the army awful, because overruns and such would become unmanageable?  Hatred actually makes the army fantastic.  There's whining now about Primal Fury, and how it's awful and terrible.  This is like Super Hatred.  Sure, our leadership is low, but important units will most likely have a character or be near the General, while smaller support units (little Ungor units) shouldn't count on passing the check all the time.  When they do, what a fantastic bonus.  I think Primal Fury is the hidden gem of the book, in that people haven't realized how great it is yet.  I give it an A.  

Ambush - Units are held back to ambush.  Each turn a d6 is rolled per unit.  On a one, the opponent places the unit on a board edge.  On a two or three, it doesn't come on at all.  On a four, it comes on anywhere on the left side, and on a five, the right.  On a six, it enters whatever board edge you like.  

At the moment, it's a bit unclear how this rule will actually work.  There are two interpretations.  The first interpretation is that you can have a unit of one type not ambushing, and then multiple units of the same type and of equal or lesser size ambushing.  The second interpretation is that for each ambushing unit, you'll need an equal or greater non ambushing unit of that type.  I'm going to play my army under the second, more conservative interpretation until GW FAQ's the issue.  

The question will become whether to ambush at all or not.  Especially under the conservative interpretation, it's an all or nothing deal, because you'll need plenty of ambushers to make it work.  I plan on attempting multiple small units of ungor raiders and perhaps a small Gor Heard in order to try ambushing effectively.  If it works, being able to put any kind of distraction in the opponent's backfield on Turn 1 is incredible. 

If it turns out that the more liberal interpretation of ambushing was somehow the case, this ability will become amazing.  As it is, it requires big investments and is shaky, but can have a great upside.  For the vagueness of the rule, and under the conservative interpretation, I give it a B-.  

The Wild Lore:  So Beasts got their own magic.  It's kind of like how Warriors of Chaos have their own three lores, except we got one, and it's not very good!  Oh well, let's see how what works and what doesn't.

0.  Bestial Surge - Our default spell, which casts on a 7+...which is a lot!  All units within 6" move d6+1 inches towards the closest enemy.  They can't charge.  This spell is pretty garbage with it's high casting value and restrictions (nearest enemy, can't charge).  I give it a D.

1.  Viletide - 7+, 5d6 Strength One Hits.  Absolutely terrible for a cheap magic missile, F.

2.  Devolve - All enemy units within 12" take a leadership check and take wounds for what they lose by, with no armor saves.  Casts on a 9.  Pretty great situationally, and for protecting a shaman.  B+

3.  Bray-Scream - 10+, Str. 3 breath weapon from any character within 12", no armor saves.  Nice spell.  B+.

4.  Traitor-Kin - Makes monsters and mounts attack crew and riders, casts on a 10+.  This can be very useful for things like Hydras and against certain armies like Bretonnia.  A-.

5.  Mantle of Ghorok - Casts on a 13, +D6 Str and +D6 Attacks for a turn.  If sixes are rolled, take a wound.  C+ for a high casting value and the drawbacks.  

6.  Savage Dominion - On a 16, summons a Jabberslythe, Ghorgon, or Giant.  The shaman can't do anything while the monster is summoned, and takes toughness tests as the monster is wounded.  A B for coolness, although the effectiveness of the spell is questionable, as I can't see getting it off very often.  

The Lore as a whole suffers from high casting values, and will have trouble working unless you go extremely magic heavy with all the bonus items.  For smaller magic, I'd go with the other available lores.  I'll give the magic a C.

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