Beasts of Chaos – they’ve been around a little while. Brought from the Old World along with a lot of the more traditional fantasy armies they still maintain their roots while looking for new ways to act and despoil in the Mortal Realms. A Shamanic and Tribal force built up of half human, goat creatures affectionately known as different varieties of “Gor”, larger more mythical minotaur style creatures known as the “Warherd”, distant draconic relations of massive creatures known as the “Thunderscorn” and finally a collection of monsters from many different linages.
Armies can fall into different categories: They can be numerous with lots of cheap bodies, lean heavily into the bulkier creatures or bring lumbering monsters few can match in any number. Of course you can also mix and match, bring different elements from the different factions. If you want a force of brutish savagery made up of the pure true Children of Chaos without any allegiance to any single god, this is where you want to setup camp. Join us, for the Brayherd is the place to be.
The FAQ changes for Beasts were decidedly brief. The army got a nice, but minor upgrade in the final Broken Realms book which is the last of the updates you can reasonably expect until an updated Battletome is released.
What did change from 2nd edition is the core rules, and Beasts join everyone else in playing. The game itself changed immeasurably, you no longer have to kill opponents to win games, delaying and playing a smarter game is now much more possible than ever before. The slow build of scenario points through objectives and battle tactics suits the BoC Army, if you’re able to deny an opponent a battle tactic or deny them scoring a turn or two of objective control then you’ve usually build enough of a lead into the early game to hold out until the late, and if you manage that you’re in a decent position.
The major change for BoC from their older playstyle comes from the inability to use multiple command abilities and stack buffs. Gavespawn’s +1A Command Ability used to be able to be applied multiple times to the same unit and more than double the attacks profile of a hard hitting unit such as Bullgor, turning them up from a possible 6 Damage from their Axes to 12-15 or even 18. But with the loss of that you have gained many new tricks, some we’ll go into later.
One thing I would take the chance to point out here however is that if you’re looking to play BoC what you aren’t doing is picking a top tier army but people underestimate what you’re capable of. People don’t really know how the army plays and you can take advantage of that. But be aware, all of those advantages rarely balance out the fact that your army isn’t powerful enough to win any fight on your opponents terms, you need to stack the odds in your favour and even then it might not be enough to actually win games.
Sub Factions – Great Frays
So in 2.0 just about every Beasts army you saw was aligned to one of the three Great Frays. Darkwalkers allowed for non-Bray units to be placed into reserves giving you greater tactical flexibility. All-Herd allowed for the spamming Command Points into Summoning Points so you could easily bump up the amount of models in your list, with a good roll you could even get the bigger monsters onto the table in your 2nd turn! Finally you had Gavespawn, which allows characters on a 2+ to, upon death, give in to spawndom and appear as a Chaos Spawn, plus an excellent command ability allowing you to stack +1A multiple times onto your big units.
Fast forward back to today and we’re in a position where command stacking is out of the game, removing the best ability of all 3 frays. In addition as these are all 2.0 “subfactions” they lock your artefact and command trait, and none of them has a good one of both of these under the current climate. This gives you real choices to run outside of the Frays to pick your own artefacts and traits and really flex the army and the new AoS3 tools. Want to try magic heavy? Take a Shaggoth with Master of Magic and the Arcane Tome. Want a really tanky general take one with Adamantine Scales and the Amulet of Destiny instead. There really are options out there now. However the utility of a clever player using the ability to make Spawns appear out of nowhere isn’t to be underestimated. Charging a suicide beastlord into a Gargant T1, getting it killed but now engaging 2 of the 4 Mega Garents in combat and denying them the ability to run for easy battle tactics is 100% a thing which works.
Personally I’m a fan of playing without a Great Fray and building how you want, but if you’re taking multiple Doombulls or 3 or more melee Beast Characters then I really feel Gavespawn is something you can look at.
Where do we start here? The army doesn’t have access to a lot of leader options. The traditional Beastlord is great for armies which are focusing on the Brayherd aspect of the list, making Bestigore Battleline opens up new list building options. However don’t for a moment expect anything of greatness from the Beastlord, that path is full of disappointment. The Bray-Shaman is nothing if not sensible. The cheapest magic user in the army and a really important buff piece. Having an aura which increases the movement of all “Brayherd” models around them turns the armies movement and redeployment capabilities up to 11. A bonus 3” on an already fast army is great, I’d highly recommend not leaving home without at least one, if not more of these, both for their magical support and army movement enhancing abilities. The last of the Bray heroes is the Tzaangor Shaman on Disk, a capable spellcaster having the ability to once per game cast an additional spell with a re-roll if he needs it. They also provide a damage output boost to both Enlightened troop options, if you’re bringing either of those then this chap comes with them, however without unless you really need to cast a single spell reliably you’ll usually leave at home.
Away from the Bray options you have the Warherd and Thunderscorn options. Historically the Doombull has been great value for points, and despite his points going up by 15% he’s still a very capable melee fighter and will usually kill far more than his points cost in value. Taking one as your general also allows for Bullgor to be taken at Battleline, which is not bad as they’re one of the more hard hitting options in the army. Finally the Shaggoth: Historically a terrible choice but now living his best life. For 185 points you get a 10W Monster Hero, who’s a wizard and has multiple ways of healing. Now you’re no longer always looking to one of the 3 Great-Frays. You’ve also opened up basic command traits, including Adamantite Scales for +1 to your save characteristic, allowing for a 3+ base save, or the ability to go to a 2+ or 1+ save in a multiple range of ways. Add in the Amulet of Destiny for a 5++ and you’ve got a tanky little General, certainly the toughest option you can field in a BoC list. He also brings along one (or more if you take the right enhancements) fantastic spell. Both Hailstorm and Sundering Blades are great for different reasons and it’s something you could even build an army around if you so deemed fit.
The final hero is the spellcasting Tzaangor Shaman on Disc, brings buffs to the mounted Tzaangor units in the army so if you’re taking them this guy is coming along for the ride. Does cast a spell more reliably once per game which is always handy, especially if you’re trying to get off something like the imposing Wildfire Taurus.
Gor and Ungor’s warscrolls haven’t really changed. What has changed again is the game around them. Not many armies can pick up 10 wounds for 70pts (Ungor). Even less can pick up 10 wounds of 4+ save for 75pts (Gor with Shields in melee). You’ll want to make sure you have a couple of these in the army, they won’t kill anything but they’re very fast (6” move, D6+1” Run, Charge, 3”+1” Pile in) and the Gor with their 4+ save in melee (able to make it 3+ via All Out Defence though you’ll only need this against Rend as the shields provide +1 already). These are your only two basic Battleline units.
Your general will also add some optional options. If you take a Brayherd General you’ll gain Bestigore as Battleline. Both are underwhelming in offensive output for their cost but if you’ve got a Bray General it does save on you having to have a 3rd unit of Gor or Ungor as that 3rd Battleline. Bestigore aren’t terrible in combat, but are casualties of the new coherency rules, being 32mm bases with 1” reach weapons. Raiders do add one of the few ranged elements into the army, but to say they’re average at best is being generous. They’re best thing is their pre-game move, something not many units can do. The problem however is that Untamed Beasts can be allied in and do that for cheaper so all you’re really missing out on is that handful of rubbish arrow dice.
A Doombull General will grant you Bullgor Battleline. These are arguably the best melee troops in the army. With 2 attack profiles, one of which is Damage 3 and -2 Rend they can really put the hurt on their opponents. However they only hit on a 4+ base, so you’ll be wanting to All Out Attack them when they go in and 40mm bases with 1” reach (a reoccurring problem in the army) you lose models attacking in most scenarios unless you keep units small. If they do hit they will break through most things, just need to find a way to make them hit or roll well when you get them into combat. Only packing a 5+ save as well means they’ll take wounds to light arms fight or average melee attacks, so I find holding them back and using them in the 2nd or 3rd wave is the best way to make the most of them.
The other Battleline if option open to Beasts players are the Dragon Ogres unlocked by taking a Shaggoth General. They’re chunky models with a high wound count and a reasonable save, but lack rend or high damage on their weapons which means they’re not the best at providing damage output. However if you need a real anvil to hold the line this is the unit which performs this the best in the book.
There are a few different groups of other units in the book which hark back to the days of WHFB when the Beasts had a variety of unit types available to them. The “old style” ones are the Chaos Warhounds, Razorgor and Centigor. Centigor are the standout of the 3. They’re maybe the best unit in the book. Ruinously fast, reasonable in melee and a 4+ save in combat for protection for only 90pts for 5x2W models? If you’re looking at something to round out your army (or even start it), you can do far worse than picking up 2-4 units of these chaps. Warhounds aren’t terrible but they’re just a fast screen without any real damage output or survivability. Having a unit for summoning is great but that’s usually where it ends. Razorgor are a unit in the book.
Tzaangor are the Tzeentch touched units in the book. The foot block have a nice banner and are slightly above average in melee, however they aren’t cheap. You can certainly base an army around them if you want to, even though it’s not my preferred option. Then you have a couple of mounted options in the Enlightened and Skyfires. The melee focused Enlightened are good in combat, one of the better options we have and they’re (like most of the army) fast. However their main buff in melee needs someone else near them to have fought in combat already so you need make sure you plan your combats around it. They also come in an unmounted version if you want to lose all their speed, most of their combat attacks and the really important fly keyword. The Skyfires are the ranged option, even though they do far more damage in melee than at range. They work different to the Enlightened in that they do more damage in combat if no one near has already fought, plus their arrows will occasionally pop off and remove support heroes. These however never leave home without their disks and there isn’t a foot version.
I’m going to mention the Slaangor Fiendbloods here as well as a god marked unit. They’re nice models.
The last set of units are the Monsters and this is where the army can really shine. Cockatrices are the budget option: they’re not a Behemoth like the others but are quick, have a great ranged attack and allow you to complete battle tactics at +points without major point investment. Did I mention they have a good ranged attack? D6 Mortal Wounds on a 4+ might be spikey but when it works they take out whatever they look at.
Chimera are on the opposite end, they’re the expensive option, but a ranged D6 Mortal Wounds (no roll required) is amazing and they’re no slouch in melee. The Premium option for sure but they’re worth their cost and as I’m going to keep saying for a lot of options here, having one ready for summoning if you need it is really good if you’re worried about it not making it into your lists on a regular basis. The other stand alone kit is the Jabberslythe, this beast actually got worse in it’s Broken Realms Kragnos Update, which is unfortunate since it wasn’t great before. Unless you love the model just stay clear and look into what we’ve got next.
The Dual kit and the one you’ll have plenty of via the Start Collecting is the Ghorgon/Cygor. Build them as the former not the latter. The Cygor’s damage will mean it occasionally one shots a wizard, but you’re talking a 4+ to hit, with a reroll against Wizards, so 75% chance base but less when the targets getting a Look Out Sir. Then you’ve got to wound, then the enemy fails their save, then you’ve got to roll a 5/6 on damage to kill most wizards. Just not worth it? The Ghorgon however might actually be priced too cheap. It doesn’t have loads of rend and at movement 8 it isn’t the quickest, but it’s got 5 Damage 3 attacks with a base 3+ to hit, a D6 damage mouth attack and the ability to eat specific models to break unit coherency. They’re excellent for their cost and building 2 of them won’t even come close to being a waste of your time. Most of my lists have 2 in and I’ve just built my 3rd!
I’m going to very quickly mention some standout allies here – Bel’akor, Slaves to Darkness Daemon Prince with the Mark of Khorne and the Untamed Beasts. I’m sure they’ll all be spoken highly of in our Slaves to Darkness review but they’re all excellent control pieces and once you decide to look at allies these are where you’ll start looking.
That’s it for the quick rundown on units, now we’ll go through a few things you need to know about the army.
How to Play
Let me get this straight out the way: If you try and fight a fair fight most of the time you’re going to lose the game. You’re average in melee unless you stack the odds in your favour, you have some good ranged output, but it’s at short range or incredibly spikey with D6’s involved … a lot. Finally magic, you have no casting bonuses, so you’re asking your 6’s and 7’s a lot with spell, and the chances are enemy casters have bonuses to unbind your casts, so trying to rely on spells to do your damage isn’t the greatest move.
If this is putting you off, don’t worry, it would any sane individual, but this is where you get to play real Beasts of Chaos.
If you haven’t got magic, you haven’t got loads of range and you need to really pick your fights then what do you have? You have movement and numbers. When playing Beasts you need to make the most of what you’ve got and the hand you’ve been dealt, and that’s an edition of the game which really plays into what the Beasts can consider their only real strength. They’re able to move incredibly quickly and secure territory past the objectives in a lot of scenarios. They’re able to claim objectives your opponents wouldn’t think you can get to with units like Centigor or making the most of your summoning options. They’re able to react to your opponent, able to use the Summoning options they have (and it’s still about the easiest way to summon in the game). They’re able to actually bring power where needed to fight on your terms. If you can learn to use this well you’re in with a chance of a reasonable game of Age of Sigmar against most opponents and you’ll have a great time while you’re doing it.
In most games you’re able to push out quickly, even if going second and force your opponent into choices. The more choices you present to your opponent the more opportunities they’ve got to make mistakes and that’s the core of it. Make sure you give them bad choices and worse choices. Don’t give them the easy options. If you need to fall behind a few points early on to protect units don’t be afraid to do it. Just because you can stick your entire army 3” away from the enemy army before it’s moved doesn’t mean it’s the right choice.
It might be. But it might not. You’ll learn when’s right to make these decisions the more you play and the more you get to know your army and it’s limits.
The Herdstone is an excellent terrain piece for the army. The Battleshock Immunity aura will protect the centre of your lines early on and by T3-4 you’ll have a 42” diameter aura of battleshock immune, -1 rend aura. Tzaangor Enlightened going to rend -2 is brilliant, bullgore going to rend -3 is bonkers. Heck, remember those 4+ save 75pt Gor? They’re now Rend -1 as well, as the saying goes, every little helps right? Use this to your advantage, if you’re playing a scenario with 3 objectives across the centre line diagonally then place it between two of the three. If you play the game for those two objectives everything important will be close enough to benefit from the stone on turns 3 at worst, turn 2 if you’re lucky. It’s Warscroll changes in AoS3 really let you make the most of it, so push that advantage.
As I mentioned earlier Monsters are where the army can shine if you want to play towards that advantage. It’s important that if you take monsters that you run the risk of giving away VPs when the enemy kill them so play cautiously and make the most of it and make sure you pick up battle tactics with them. For example, Ferocious Advance is an easy to achieve Round 1 Battle Tactic, might as well get a bonus point for it. Broken Ranks is usually doable, when you try and do it make sure you do it with a monster and so on. You’ll need to push your advantages when you have the opportunity to do so with Beasts, more so than most armies.
Finally, the last point I need to make is that the army is unforgiving. You’ll need to learn to screen, how to make the most of redeploying and when to use your limited CP’s as you’ll rarely have enough to get you through a turn. However there are different viable builds and the army really plays well into most scenario’s and we’ll talk about a few of those builds below.
I keep saying there are options for Beasts, so time to actually give you some of them.
This first list was ran by Gavin Grigar and went 4-1 at an event in the US. I’ve tried to work out how he managed it and luckily Gavin was able to share some of his secrets with me. It uses it’s MW output to take on things it can’t melee with rend -/-1 attacks, of which it actually has a fair amount of. It’s still a control list and that certainly going to become a thing through these lists (in the most part) utilising the Khorne Marked Slaves to Darkness Daemon Prince to effect alongside Hailstorm while putting out a reasonable amount of MW’s a turn.
Once the enemy gets close you’ve got the ability to get the Tzaangors to a decent amount of attacks through natural internal buffs and the gavespawn command ability boosting their attacks by +1 (on every profile, so +2A per model) and you can always fall back on just blocking with the spawns or by sending a hero to die, roll that 2+ and spawn a Spawn in the most annoying possible place for your opponent to deny them doing what they want in their turn. Anyway, the list is below:
Allegiance: Beasts of Chaos - Greatfray: Gavespawn - Grand Strategy: Hold the Line - Triumphs: Leaders Dragon Ogor Shaggoth (185) - Artefact: Mutating Gnarlblade - Lore of Dark Storms: Hailstorm Tzaangor Shaman of Beasts of Chaos (135) - General - Command Trait: Unravelling Aura - Lore of the Twisted Wilds: Titanic Fury Tzaangor Shaman of Beasts of Chaos (135) - Lore of the Twisted Wilds: Wild Rampage Great-Bray Shaman (100) - Lore of the Twisted Wilds: Savage Dominion Grashrak Fellhoof (150) - Lore of the Twisted Wilds: Tendrils of Atrophy Slaves to Darkness Daemon Prince (210) - Sword - Mark of Chaos: Khorne - Allies Battleline Units 10 x Tzaangors of Beasts of Chaos (175) - 2x Pair of Savage Blade - 4x Savage Greatblade - 2x Savage Blade & Arcanite Shield 10 x Tzaangors of Beasts of Chaos (175) - 2x Pair of Savage Blade - 4x Savage Greatblade - 2x Savage Blade & Arcanite Shield 10 x Tzaangors of Beasts of Chaos (175) - 2x Pair of Savage Blade - 4x Savage Greatblade - 2x Savage Blade & Arcanite Shield 10 x Tzaangors of Beasts of Chaos (175) - 2x Pair of Savage Blade - 4x Savage Greatblade - 2x Savage Blade & Arcanite Shield 10 x Tzaangors of Beasts of Chaos (175) - 2x Pair of Savage Blade - 4x Savage Greatblade - 2x Savage Blade & Arcanite Shield 5 x Grashrak's Despoilers (0) 1 x Chaos Spawn (55) - Mark of Chaos: Khorne 1 x Chaos Spawn (55) - Mark of Chaos: Khorne Endless Spells & Invocations Umbral Spellportal (70) Total: 1970 / 2000 Reinforced Units: 0 / 4 Allies: 210 / 400 Wounds: 155 Drops: 14
Following on from Gavins list I’m going to share what I’m currently playing with. This is again a control list but uses the more traditional line of models to achieve it’s goals rather than leaning into Tzaangors quite so heavily.
With the solid foundation of the tanky version of the Shaggoth supported by the ever present Slaves to Darkness Daemon Prince of Khorne to add board control I’ve really enjoyed playing this into melee armies with some very big, but limited in number, threats. Speedy Gors provide the 4+ save in combat as do the even quicker Centigor while the Cockatrices (ranged), Bullgor and Ghorgons (melee) give the army it’s punch. It’s very much a case of not fighting unless you need to and then only on your terms. It certainly struggles in some scenario’s (Teclis and a Spellportal means you’ll be taking ~45 Mortal Wounds a turn) and it’s certainly more suited to the newer style of scenario’s where you score 1/2/more, but it’s performing above expectations for me so far.
Allegiance: Beasts of Chaos - Grand Strategy: Dominating Presence - Triumphs: Leaders Dragon Ogor Shaggoth (185)** - General - Command Trait: Adamantine Scales - Artefact: Amulet of Destiny (Universal Artefact) - Lore of Dark Storms: Sundering Blades Great-Bray Shaman (100)*** - Lore of the Twisted Wilds: Vicious Stranglethorns Great-Bray Shaman (100)**** - Lore of the Twisted Wilds: Tendrils of Atrophy Slaves to Darkness Daemon Prince (210)***** - Axe - Mark of Chaos: Khorne - Allies Battleline 10 x Gors (75)* - Gor-Blades & Beastshields 10 x Gors (75)* - Gor-Blades & Beastshields 10 x Gors (75)* - Gor-Blades & Beastshields Units 5 x Centigors (90)*** 5 x Centigors (90)*** 5 x Centigors (90)*** 1 x Cockatrice (95)**** 1 x Cockatrice (95)***** 3 x Bullgors (155)**** - Great Axes 3 x Bullgors (155)***** - Great Axes 9 x Untamed Beasts (70) - Allies Behemoths Ghorgon (170) Ghorgon (170) Core Battalions *Hunters of the Heartlands **Linebreaker ***Vanguard ****Vanguard *****Vanguard Total: 2000 / 2000 Reinforced Units: 0 / 4 Allies: 280 / 400 Wounds: 165 Drops: 17
There is however something to be said for sometimes just going for the jugular and Beasts of Chaos can certainly do this. Fellow UK TO Charlie took this to the London Open recently and enjoyed going Ham, going 2-1 before dropping out (as he was the spare player). This list also makes use of the Slaves to Darkness Daemon Prince as a replacement for a large number of bodies, opposed to in addition to them like in the previous lists. This list has a large melee presence, between the Ghorgon’s, Bullgore and Doombull’s almost anything can and will be taken down in melee, however as with any alpha melee list which can’t take a hit back you need to ride a little luck if you’re hoping to track down a good tournament finish.
Allegiance: Beasts of Chaos - Greatfray: Gavespawn - Grand Strategy: Beast Master - Triumphs: Leaders Doombull (115)* - General - Command Trait: Unravelling Aura Doombull (115)* - Artefact: Mutating Gnarlblade Doombull (115)* - Artefact: Cleaver of the Brass Bull Doombull (115)** - Artefact: Arcane Tome (Universal Artefact) - Universal Spell Lore: Flaming Weapon Doombull (115) Slaves to Darkness Daemon Prince (210)** - Axe - Mark of Chaos: Khorne - Allies Battleline 3 x Bullgors (155)*** - Great Axes 3 x Bullgors (155)*** - Great Axes 3 x Bullgors (155)*** - Great Axes Units 10 x Ungor Raiders (90)* 10 x Ungor Raiders (90)** 1 x Chaos Spawn (55)* - Mark of Chaos: Khorne Behemoths Ghorgon (170)**** Ghorgon (170)**** Ghorgon (170)**** Core Battalions *Warlord **Warlord ***Hunters of the Heartlands ****Alpha-Beast Pack Total: 1995 / 2000 Reinforced Units: 0 / 4 Allies: 210 / 400 Wounds: 151 Drops: 15
If nothing else from the above lists sticks, its that you might want to pick yourself up a Daemon Prince if you’re going to be playing Beasts of Chaos. It gives you so much that it’s almost mandatory. However from that point you’ve got a wide variety of units at your disposable and there is certainly room to build and expand your collection.
Beasts have been a stable of Warhammer for years and I can’t see them going anywhere soon. But what they aren’t is a top tier, easy to learn or an hyper competitive effective army. However they’re a great army to pick up, the Beast of Chaos community is great, full of players who want to try and prove the statics wrong. They’re an army which gives you a lot back and an army I’ve always enjoyed playing and will continue to play moving forward and hopefully you’ll come on the journey with me.
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