Battletome Review: Sons of Behemat

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Something big this way comes…

After a long wait and a ton of hype the Sons of Behemat are finally here! The Sons of Behemat are an army of all Monsters of staggering size, so named because they are the followers of the now-dead god of giants in Age of Sigmar, Behemat, also known as The World Titan. Now followers of Gorka-Morka (for he has the biggest feet and is therefore the most powerful. No that’s actually in the book) the gargants are a diaspora ranging from the isolationist tribes of Ghur, to raiders and despoilers and a few clever enough to understand the basic concept of currency that became mercenaries, hiring themselves out as warriors for the smaller folk of the Mortal Realms. Are you ready to harness the power of the gargants to squish and grind the short ones into dust?

Why Play Sons of Behemat?

In short, you want to be able to push giant monsters around the table, but not worry about pushing squads of 30 little ones to do it. Since the army was announced the immediate comparison that was hard to avoid was that they were like Imperial Knights in Warhammer 40k but for Age of Sigmar. This isn’t far off the mark, they’re marketed as something that can be slotted into any army but also function as a standalone force of all big models, including baby sized ones to round out the list while maintaining the behemoth feel which is something that Imperial/Chaos Knights also do. The same challenges are also there, such as how to maintain the firepower and board control that only having giant models comes with. Still, look at those models! If you just want to push around giant models this is your one stop shop, so lets take a deeper dive and see how it actually works on the table.

Warstomper Credit: Games Workshop

What’s in the Book?

  • The Lore behind the Sons of Behemat. Their origin and what they’re doing now.
  • 4 Warscrolls
  • 3 Allegiance Abilities
  • 3 Subfactions (Tribes) each with their own 2 allegiance abilities, 6 Command Traits and 3 relics for each tribe
  • Rules for using Gargants as Mercenaries in other armies.

And that’s it! There aren’t even any battalions. As you might expect from a very specific niche army like this, this book is extremely thin. Barely reaching 80 pages, I can’t fault them too much. Most battletomes are padded out by warscrolls, some being questionably distinct from each other when they should be compressed into one. This book is very space efficient, each Mega-Gargant and tribe plays very different, but we’ll get to that as we approach each section.

The Lore

Largely due to the rules section being so thin, the lore takes up the vast majority of this book, well over half of it if you include the naming and background tables. The good news it’s really good! I genuinely found myself enjoying the adventures of these dorks. The lore is written in a very irreverent tone that oscillates well between epic stories of mythology and oral tradition that lost a lot of details along the way, and at times it is genuinely funny and compelling. One story, in the Age of Myth, states that Behemat and Gorkamorka had a friendly rivalry for each other and challenged each other to an eating contest which resulted in them running out of stuff to eat, so Behemat went to Shyish to eat the ghosts of the things they had already eating, making him to the winner and that’s why the undead don’t got flesh on their bones no more. A more epic story states that Sigmar and The World Titan did battle and spilt so much blood that the torrents caused mountains to form and knocked Behemat out for well over a millenia.

Behemat’s demise came when Archaon sought to use the plagues of Nurgle to infect and confuse the World Titan, rousing him from his slumber to crash into the gates sealing Azyr off from the rest of the Mortal Realms. When Alarielle warned Sigmar that this was happening, he dispatched his Stormcast to kill Behemat once and for all. They were successful in their mission which left the gargants lost and confused. Ever since his death, the gargants have slowly gotten bigger, some over a hundred feet tall. Tales have been told that one day a gargant will be born so big, it will become the new World Titan.

The rest of the lore breaks down how their society is structured, which is about as complicated as you’d expect. Some form tribes which are frequently avoided by the smaller races (some of the cities of Sigmar have fallen because they failed to scout if there were gargants who would be stomping through), some are loners who will wake up, destroy a city to get enough to eat and then go back to sleep. A scant few have worked up the intelligence to figure out that pillaging, but not destroying, a city is the best way to have a constant source of food and shiny things to return to. Others still become mercenaries, seeking payment for their services or just wanting to embrace the thrill of battle. I genuinely enjoyed reading it and it’s clear whoever had a hand in it had a good time with it.

Warscrolls

Brace yourself for the 4, count em’ 4 warscrolls in the book. Yeah we all knew there wasn’t going to be a huge variety here. The warscrolls themselves are, as you’d expect, rather complex to make up for the lack of diversity. So let’s take a look at all of them

Mancrusher Gargants

Credit: Games Workshop

These guys have jumped around a lot over the years. Previously known as Aleguzzler Gargants, who had no home other than as allies for Destruction armies, eventually found a place in the Gloomspite Gitz battletome. A chaos variant, the Chaos gargant is also in the Beasts of Chaos battletome. Now they return yet again as the smaller gargants that function as the battleline of the army. Comparatively speaking it’s certainly an impressive battleline at 180 for 1 and 480 for 3. They have a unique rule that a unit of 3 counts as 3 battleline slots, which does create a bit of a dilemma. Do you save the 60 points so you can buy a CP, or divide them up so you don’t have to maintain unit coherency?

The warscroll is surprisingly different from their alcoholic cousins. They keep the Stuff em’ in Me Bag rule which lets them insta-kill a model if you roll double it’s wounds, and the Timber! rule, where players roll off to see which direction a fallen gargant falls, dealing mortal wounds in the process. Other than the same 12 wounds and 5+ save these guys start to diverge. First, no Drunken Stagger. These guys are sober after all and more disciplined, for gargants anyway. In exchange they gain Keep up! which allows them to run and charge if they ended their run within 12″ of a friendly Mega-gargant, and upon charging deal D3 mortal wounds based on a dice roll that diminishes with wounds. The number of attacks for the massive club and ‘eadbutt are more consistent. While they do diminish as wounds are taken, you’re no longer rolling for it. The number seems about the average of what would have been rolled on an Aleguzzler (e.g. 3D6 at full health  for the Massive Club is now 10 attacks). Move characteristic no longer diminishes with damage, at a flat 8″.

Overall it’s an improvement on the old Aleguzzler. While on average they should perform about the same on what was previously random dice rolls, there are less peaks and valleys in their effectiveness. Additionally, not needing to worry about edge cases with Drunken Stagger which some might argue is “fun” randomness definitely hurts when it gets you off guard. It’s hard to get too excited because most people are seeing these as an obligation, something to fill the battleline slots so you can have the real fun, the Mega-Gargants.

Mega-Gargants

Each Mega-Gargant is surprisingly distinct, each having unique traits that differentiate them from the other 2 and help them serve different roles. There are a few traits they share in common. They all share approximately the same statline, with 35 wounds, 7 bravery and a 4+ save. All 3 have a diminishing movement attribute which starts at different numbers between 10 and 12″ but otherwise mostly the same. I think it’s also worth noting that none have a command ability, not innately.

Abilities uniform to all three include Crushing Charge, which deals D6 mortal wounds to every unit within 3″ on a 2+, or D3 if its a Monster. Almighty Stomp/Jump which lets them reroll 1s to hit with their Almighty Stomp and Jump Up and Down attacks, Death Grip to reroll 1s to attacks against enemy Monsters and Terror, which gives them a -1 Bravery aura within 3″. Combined these help their damage output. On the defensive front they all get Sons of Behemat which makes any auto-kill spell do D6 mortal wounds instead. With their 35 wounds you can easily weather several of these. All gargants also have the Timberrrrr! rule which as you might expect is like Timber! on smaller gargants but reaches much further away (A point 5″ away instead of 3″). Finally there is the Longshanks rule, which allows them to ignore all models with less than 11 wounds and any terrain below 4″. This helps keeping them from boxed in by large hordes.

I’m not entirely sure how well the damage output stands up. A mega-gargant is just a few points shy of 500 points and many armies often will not include a model that expensive unless it has a lot of utility due to the damage output not always standing up to a couple of squads of monsters. They get their fair share of attacks, which solid hit and wound stats and they do a lot of damage with high rend but I’m not sure if it really makes up for the lack of sheer volume of attacks. Sons of Behemat have no Wizards (at least not by default) and not very many opportunities to buff. The diminishing statline also means they will suffer as the fight goes on so it’s going to require some proactive play to get the most of them. A lot of what makes them good is the unique utility each mega-gargant brings to the table.

Kraken-eater

Credit: Games Workshop

A utilitarian, middle of the road option, the Kraken-eater gets fewer attacks than the other 2 and has average speed and a ranged attack, the ranged attack has diminishing range as wounds are taken but ios a whopping 24″ at full health! Their first unique ability, Stuff Em In Me Net. Which is a supercharged version of the similarly named Maneater Gargants. This one lets you attempt to kill off D3 models but you still have to roll double their wound score to actually kill them. It’s not great but its free. The most interesting one to me is Get Orf Me Land! which actually lets you kick an objective you control 2D6″ away! This is done in the Hero phase so you can kick the ball into your own court and then move up to guard it. Certain game types will get a lot more interesting with this around.

Warstomper

Credit: Games Workshop

The raw carnage option. The Warstomper is slower and has no standard ranged attack but gets the most melee attacks of any of the mega gargants, including its Titantic Boulderclub has a number of attacks equal to all models within 3″, plus a few more based on wounds sustained. This comes with a caveat that the total can never exceed 10 but as long as he’s fighting groups the number of attacks will remain high throughout the battle, no matter how wounded he gets, which is more than can be said for the others.

The last unique ability is Hurled Body which is a more convoluted Stuff ’em in Me Net mixed with a ranged attack you otherwise don’t get. You pick an enemy model up and if you roll double or more of the model’s wounds, roll another die and on a 4+ you can huck the body at something 12″ away, dealing a number of mortal wounds equal to the model’s wounds.

Warstompers are likely to be the workhorse of the army. What they do isn’t pretty or graceful but it’s most likely to rack up the most kills against large numbers.

Gate Breaker

Credit: Games Workshop

The gatebreaker is an interesting wild card. It has the best movement stat and while its ranged attack isn’t as long as Kraken eaters (18″ at full health) it does a shocking 4 damage when it hits with -3 rend. I figure its role is meant to be more of a Monster hunter than the warstomper’s anti infantry based attacks. It gets fewer attacks but they all hit like a truck, but because damage carries over they can work against hordes in a pinch too. They have one unique ability which will turn a lot of heads, which is is Smash Down. Smash grants +1 damage to attacks for units on or within terrain or garrisoned inside. The really interesting part is you can destroy scenery! Based off a diminishing value (starting at 2+) at the end of the combat phase you can destroy a piece of scenery. This turns it into Rubble and grants it the Deadly trait, removing all other traits of the scenery. Gargants are monsters so they care not for cover, they just want to destroy. If your opponent’s Skull Altar or Bone-Tithe Nexus is causing you problems, just smash it!

Battle Traits

Only two universal allegiance abilities. Don’t worry, the actual tribes get way more interesting.

The first and most important is Mightier Makes Rightier. Each Mancrusher counts as 10 models for purposes of capturing objectives and Mega-Gargants count as 20. The point of this is obvious, your opponent is almost always going to outnumber you in models so you need this to stand a chance. Although I’m sure the Gargants think different but you don’t always win by killing everything.

The other is Chuck Rocks which grants one Mancrushers within 12″ of a Mega-Gargant a ranged attack, which is basically just Hurled Debris from the Kraken-Eater datasheet with a consistent 18″ range. Not terrible, and helpful in the early game before the charge.

Tribes

The subfactions are called tribes and are where things get really interesting. There are 3: Taker, Stomper and Breaker and tie into the Kraken-eater, Warstomper and Gatebreaker respectively. Whichever one is your General affects which tribe you get, although you can include any other gargants. Each one comes with what you’d expect, new battle traits, 6 command traits and 3 Artefacts of Power. The first 3 command traits have some overlap, and its not that exciting: 5 more wounds for the general, reroll 1s to save and +1 attacks for their melee weapon. Practical sure but not exciting. I’m only going to cover what’s exciting because you don’t need to hear about the 500th +1 to rend artifact of the game.

Taker Tribes

Taker tribes are for Kraken-eater Generals. They have an easier time securing objectives, with Get Rid of ‘Em! Mancrushers now count as 15 models and Mega-gargants count as 30 models for securing objectives, guaranteeing nobody is going to steal objectives from you unless they force you off. Combined with the Get Orf Me Land! of Krakens you have unparalleled control over the objective game. Another nice little perk is More Stuff for Me Collection which lets you roll for a triumph if you kill an enemy Hero with an artefact. It would have been more interesting to steal the artefact but I get why they went with this. Free Triumph is nothing to sneeze at.

On the Command Trait front there’s a lot of interesting stuff to look at here. Strong Right Foot lets you kick an objective 3D6″ away instead of 2D6″, further allowing you to be a huge jerk to your opponent. Very Acquisitive allows you to take a second artefact and lets the general hold 2 artefacts instead of 1. Which, to my knowledge, is the first time we’ve ever had a way of taking 2 artefacts on one character.

Speaking of artefacts, takers fit their lore by having more artefacts than the others, they are takers after all. They get 6 instead of the three others get, some standouts include the Glowy Lantern which allows them to cast and unbind one spell per round like a Wizard with mystic shield and arcane bolt. Very important in an army with otherwise no casting. The other really good artefact that sticks out to me is Jaws of the Mogaladon, which lets you reroll 1 hit, wound or save each round. I can see a lot of potential taking these two with Very Acquisitive.

Credit: Games Workshop

Stomper Tribes

The aptly named Stomper tribe comes in next lead by Warstompers. Passing the Warstomper’s penchant for crushing hordes to his little brothers, the Getting Stuck In ability lets Mancrushers join in the fun and deal an extra damage on attacks to units with 10 or more models, or 2 more damage for units of 20 or more! The other trait, Big Shouts gives you 6 command abilities (which is notable because the warscrolls do not contain any). You can’t use the generic command abilities, which is a bit of a problem because while it does reproduce a lot of those generic command abilities like reroll 1s to hit or guaranteed 6 on a charge, they’re rewritten to affect all Mancrushers within 18″ instead of one unit of your choice. They’re all reproductions like this, except Grab Those Rocks and Chuck Em’ which lets all Mancrusher units within 18″ of the general throw rocks instead of only one unit.

The command traits aren’t much to write home about, Inescapable Grip lets you reroll dice on the Hurled Body and Eager for a Fight allows the general to charge on a 3D6″ from up to 18″ away are possibly worth looking at.

The artefacts are much more intriguing. Ironweld Cestus grants the bearer rerolls on all saves and deals a mortal on a 6. Club of the First Oak heals 1 wound per round and also give them one chance to survive death on a 4+. Mantle of the Destroyer grants a 12″ Bravery 10 bubble and rerolls on the charge.

I find this one a bit underwhelming. To maximize its power it seems like you need to bring a lot of mancrushers which feels like it’s missing the point. Mega Gargants seem more powerful than 3 small boys and just generally more fun and interesting. I could be wrong here, perhaps theres a hidden gem. I can see the niche they’re going for I just don’t see it being popular.

 

Breaker Tribes

Breaker tribes are the last, lead by, predictably, a Gatebreaker. Breaking Down the Houses gives a watered down version of Smashdown which allows Mancrushers to destroy scenery with a 7+ dice roll (They get to add 1 to the dice roll for each model in the unit, so those units of 3 look even more appetizing). Fierce Loathing is a pick your own battle trait, granting +1 to hit against a specific foe, ranging from Heroes to Monsters to anything with a save better than a 4+. You have to chose this when list building which feels like a bit of a missed opportunity, people will likely tend to favor safe bets like units with a 4+ or better save.

This is alleviated slightly with the Command trait Extremely Bitter which lets you pick a second loathing, but it only applies to the general. Smasher lets the general reroll the dice roll for Smash down which seems the best to me. Sees Red lets you treat the general as having 0 wounds for all purposes when within 9″ of a garrison. This is one of those traits that has potential but because most tournaments require Command Traits to be picked for list building, its too niche to be picked commonly.

The artefacts aren’t exciting but theres some nice interplay here that makes them more interesting than they might be normally. Enchanted Portcullis is a 6+ feel no pain which actually means a lot on a 35 (potentially 40 if you took the command trait) model and The Great Wrecka is another “Add one mortal wound to the damage on a 6 artefact” that also lets you add one to Smash Down rolls, making your role as scenery destroyer supreme unchallenged.

I like this one the most, though its a tough pick Takers have a lot of utility due to the number of artefacts but Breakers have a lot of synergy that plays off of each other, making me feel like they’ll be a very popular pick.

Gatesmasher Credit: Games Workshop

Mercenaries

So far discussions around gargants have been solely under the assumption you were treating them as a stand-alone army. Well there’s another appeal here, taking them as allies! The basic jist is like this, each Gargant can ally with one of the other grand alliances, and all 3 can potentially ally with Destruction. Like Gortrek Gunnison, they get to ignore the usual restrictions regarding point values, although you cannot take any other allies. An important caveat that is tucked away here is that if you bring a Gargant their disruptive presence causes your army to lose their first turn command point! This can be a big ask for such a model so expensive and will require people to plan around it. CP are hard to come by and losing one in the first turn can make a big difference.

Games Workshop did seem to acknowledge one of the major flaws of allies. Battle Traits are not shared with allies and most units are designed to synergize with their own army, usually through auras and spells designed to buff the army. Its rare you absolutely need an ally to fill a role that cant be better worked around or filled with a unit within your army. As a sort of consolation prize here, each mercenary gets a new trait unique to them. I don’t think this really makes up for its shortcomings, but “35 wound Monster” is certainly a role not every army has so if you want to fill it, there’s value here.

Order armies get access to a Kraken-eater Gargant. He is Uncannily Cunning which you can declare at the start of the combat phase, allowing the gargant to fight at the end of the phase but re-rolls all hit rolls. This would be clever to use against Slaanesh, if they force you to go second, make the most  of it.

Chaos armies get a warstomper. It’s unique trait is Shake the Earth which not only re-rolls hit rolls of 1 but all enemy units within 6″ have -1 to hit him, making him a little more resilient.

Death armies get the executioner hooded Gatebreaker. Grievous Halitosis is a commonly seen power, letting the gargant choose a unit within 3″ and roll a die for each model, on a 6 it deals a mortal wound. This offers some crowd control, usually the role of the Warstomper

Don’t forget that Destruction can use any of the three. None of these are real game changers and I think people buying the book solely to use as allies will be a bit disappointed. Monsters suffer in Age of Sigmar with some notable exceptions and without the synergy of a Sons of Behemat army behind them these guys will struggle to get their points back outside of some armies which lacking heavy hitters.

List Building

So there’s likely only one way to go on this and it’s what 90% of lists are going to look like. Sure you can make some argument for removing one of the mega-gargants to double up, and some might argue 6 Mancrushers with 2 Mega Gargants offers more flexibility than 3 and 3 but the fundamental process of the list doesn’t change as there’s so few units to allow diversity and the point cost of the mega-gargants are all about the same. Each mega-gargant fills a specific role that is otherwise lacking due to not having tons of units like most armies, so I think most people will want to take all 3, plus the mandatory battleline.

Taker Tribe List

Leaders

Kraken-Eater Mega-Gargant (490)
-General
-Command trait: Very Acquisitive
-Artefact: Glowy Lantern
Gatebreaker Mega-Gargant (490)
-Artefact: Jaws of the Mogalodon
Warstomper Mega-Gargant (480)

Battleline

1x Mancrusher Gargants (180)
1x Mancrusher Gargants (180)
1x Mancrusher Gargants (180)

Total: 2000 Points

Straight forward relic list. With the glowy lantern you have a Pseudo-wizard and the Jaws of Mogalodon benefit the fewer but harder hitting attacks of the gatebreaker. I split the mancrushers up for diversity but you can easily combine them and get an extra CP, which is valuable as it would be to any army.

Stomper Tribe List

Allegiance: Sons of Behemat

Tribe: Stomper Tribe

Leaders

Warstomper Mega-Gargant (480)

-General
-Command trait: Very Shouty
-Artefact: Mantle of the Destroyer

Battleline

1x Mancrusher Gargants (180)
1x Mancrusher Gargants (180)
1x Mancrusher Gargants (180)
1x Mancrusher Gargants (180)
1x Mancrusher Gargants (180)
1x Mancrusher Gargants (180)
1x Mancrusher Gargants (180)
1x Mancrusher Gargants (180)

Extra Command Point (50)
Total: 1970/2000

Let’s get weird with it. The Stomper tribe abilities seem mostly designed around a Warstomper leading a bunch of Mancrushers into battle so lets take that to its extreme conclusion. One warstomper and as many Mancrushers as we can fit in. The Mancrushers are kept seperate for one reason, with the Throw Rocks At Em’! command ability every mancrusher unit can throw a rock within 18″. By splitting them up into seperate units that allows us to throw a serious volley on turn 1! Splitting them into 8 seperate units is only one less model so it’s not a huge loss, and the command abilities affect an aura rather than one unit so there’s little to be gained by grouping them.the Very Shouty command trait gives us D3 command points first turn so this list becomes about using your Warstomper as a focus point to make your Mancrushers more killy. Optimum? Probably not, but the closest thing this comes to a Horde army.

Gate Breaker List

Leaders

Gatebreaker Mega-Gargant (490)
-General
-Command trait: Smasher
-Artefact: Enchanted Portcullis
Kraken-Eater Mega-Gargant (490)
Warstomper Mega-Gargant (480)

Battleline

3x Mancrusher Gargants (480)

Extra Command Point (50)
Total: 1990/2000

Grouping the Mancrushers this time because Breaking down the Houses gives a benefit to groups, so using those extra points for a CP. This list is all about smashing through everything with wanton abandon, don’t let them hide behind cover, knock it down! Like most Gargant lists you know the drill, soften them up from afar and push on through. The upside here is you don’t have to worry about cover, just knock it over.

Kraken-eater Credit: Games Workshop

Conclusion

The book is pretty much what’s on the tin. If you want to push around giant monsters with zero disregard for finnicky 30 man units, this is for you. I question the feasibility of them as a competitive army, as despite some attempts to rectify it they still suffer from a lot of the same stuff giant base Monsters do in Age of Sigmar: difficulty with board control and not having the sheer number of attacks to fend off a horde. Their 4+ saves aren’t…great and even with 35 wounds will start to crumble under concentrated rend. Still I think they did the best they could short of rewriting the entire game and if you know what you’re getting I don’t think people will be terribly disappointed.

Let us know what you think, are you excited for the Sons of Behemat? Email us at contact@goonhammer.com or on social media.

 

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