Army deep dives and list building is something I do more with close friends and subscribers to my Patreon than in articles, but this time around I was so excited about the new Beasts of Chaos rules that Goonhammer managed to trick me into writing about it.
So this week I’m going to talk about building, testing, and working with the new Tome Celestial rules. How I’m working, what kinds of thoughts go into building the list, how I’m choosing uints, and why some options only work in one list while being dead weight in others.
Beasts of Chaos have suffered a lot since the last round of changes to Tzaangor Warscrolls: The loss of the Aetherquartz Brooch, paying for extra command points, the removal of Command Ability stacking, and the dreaded Save stacking. What’s left was an army with low base armor saves, some of the game’s most fragile heroes, low weapon skill, and low bravery. What could possibly bring this army back into the competitive fold apart from a miracle?
Well, Gavin Grigar of 2022 LVO fame and 1st place in the 2021 ITC season, with his rotating Battletome approach to choosing armies, managed to go 5-0 with them last year. Goonhammer’s own Liam_Jordan ran 3-2 even against dragons just before the new update went live. They clearly weren’t helpless and may have had at least SOME gas in the tank, no matter how close they were to Empty.
By now I imagine you have read the recent Tome Celestial, and if you haven’t, you’ve at least read the Goonhammer article on it. Right? ….Right?! (We shall continue as if you have, if you haven’t, go do that, and then come back here. We can wait.)
List Building and Win Conditions
Before we get into Beasts of Chaos in specific, let’s talk about how to build a winning list.
When building a list you have to have a planned win condition. Throwing units into your army “cuz they look cool” or because you heard they are “currently breaking the meta and are OP AF” does basically nothing for you unless you’re ok with dead weight. Anyway, what is a win condition?
Win conditions come in all shapes and sizes and are not limited to 1 total per army, build, or game mode. Lets take Stormdrake Guard for example: They generally have consistent output, mortal wound access, are tough and count as many models on objectives. Their Win Condition can be: Outscore on objectives/tactics, outlasting opponents, and tabling opponents, all at the same time. By contrast, Iron Jaws are a “Win Big or Lose Big” faction. They want to table you as fast as possible so you can’t score objectives. If that doesn’t work, they lose, hard. Other armies want to outlast the opponent (like OBR or Fyreslayers), control the game state, scalpel targets out one at a time (Lumineth) or some combination there of.
Again, these are all concepts to consider when building an army you wish to compete with. Planning for more than 1 victory condition in your list is ideal, but sometimes you can shoot for so many at once that it is next to impossible to lose. (I.E. Slaanesh 2.0)
Strengths of Beasts of Chaos
So with all that said here and previously, where do Beasts fall in all of this? The list of benefits we went over leads, me at least, to a few end results. The army has a surprising number of advantages to work with if you dig deep, including:
- Cheap goats. Horse goats, dragon goats, bird goats, daemon riding bird goats, magical goats, thicc goats…even regular goats.
- Quantity of attacks.
- Older book rules, like: Rerolls! (hit and sometimes wounds!)
- Plusses to hit.
- Plusses to wound.
- Reducing enemies armor saves
And, in case I forgot:
- Cheap goats.
The Tome Celestial change to the Herdstone gave this book the breath it needed to expand from cover to cover in what you can viably play. You will see elite armies of Dragonogors, Bullgor or Tzaangor. You will see Goat-Carpets, *angry* goat-carpets. Mixed lists, Monster Mashes, and cheeky allied Daemon Prince/Princesses. The toolbox pick of allying in Be’lakor or a Khorne daemon prince can go miles with an army like this. Especially one built to control the board by Body-clogging or who would rather fight on their terms vs the opponents. If fulminators miss the right charge, this army can pick them up in the return charge, no sweat.
Even the “junk” in this army are excellent screens, even if you are going for an elite army. This army is one of the factions that I feel really doesn’t care about battle regiments. Not a single army that I’ve seen/been sent to, or created on my own has that battalion in it. Could you? Absolutely. But, when you have 19 drops, with enough junk to fill everyones trunk, do you really care? It is easy in this army to push enemy ambush units (like Living City fulminators, or opposing beasts of chaos) 30ish inches away from your main army, without spending much more than 100 points. (x2 razorgor anybody?) with the right deployments and unit choices, alpha striking your real damage is almost impossible, so, double turns would be the right call, right? Except for giving the Beasts first turn means the get the chance to A: hit you first, and/or B: flood the board in bodies. All potentially not-good for your opponent.
This army will NOT be an army that auto-wins games. Have you ever tried to build a house with a glass hammer? Playtesting will be a requirement and you need to be ready to make decisions on the fly, and move models with not only accuracy but also urgency. Keeping track of all the monster reactions, summoning points, all your hero phase abilities, movement tricks and buffs, who can run and charge, adding to moves and pile-ins, will be tough. You will probably struggle. However if everything is piloted correctly, everything is remembered, you charge the right targets, move the right chaff pieces there, and get the summons here, this army will shine. For instance, in my first practice game, Ironjaws smashed and bashed their way to victory, Even when I was almost tabled, I felt if I had moved better, screened better/charged better, I’d have had the game. My opponent as well, knows his way around his Orruks and goats are very fragile.
List Building with Beasts of Chaos
Time to get to the good stuff. Like I said, you have a lot of options. You can flood the board with junk. Like, literally so much junk that you clog objectives, movement paths, summoning lanes, etc. that your opponent has no choice but to attempt to grind through it. For 700 points you can fit 100 Ungor, in 10 packs of 10 that can all move up to 16” and still charge (if you wanted to) and you can still take damage dealers and heroes behind that, with summoning on top of it! Gargants can deal damage for sure. But if they have 100 models to clear, and are fighting 10 units of 10, that have rend 1 base all at once. How fast can they really get through that? If those 100 bodies were also keeping them from stepping on the objectives, now they are a turn behind in scoring, while you summon more goats or monsters and cast your magic to buff your offense units or even turn enemy monsters on each other.
On the flip side of the junk hordes, you have access to expensive multi-wound, fast moving aggression pieces. Take a Tzaangor Shaman general, which makes Tzaangors Battleline and you can double reinforced them. With max Greatblades and Twist brays you’re looking at a unit with almost 150+ attacks at a base rend of 1 and greatblades base that are at rend -2, damage 2. Turn 3 they get -2/-3 base on Attacks/Greatblade attacks, again, still 150 attacks, and hitting on 3s wounding on 3s and 4s (4’s for the beaks). If that isn’t enough you can cast the spell Sundering Blades which grants the whole unit and additional +1 rend to every profile and Wild Rampage which lets them reroll Wound rolls. That’s 30 goats threatening 200 damage at base rend 2-4 depending on spells active and which turn you are in. With access to multiple +1’s to hit AND to wound, and rerolls to wound those attacks are unlikely to miss. Like many Brayherd models, these Tzaangors can also run and charge, and get the +3” bonus to moving from the Great Bray-Shamans, meaning for a CP or a naural roll of 6, they move 15” and can still charge on the first turn. And they can still have 1500 points sitting behind this. Summon a Cockatrice or regular Gor unit who reroll charges (base) off the board edge behind you. With these 30 Tzaangors, and the above mentioned 100 Ungor, you still have about 800 points left in your list to play with. The sky’s the limit.
Do you want to focus on secondaries in your games? Going for max “done with a monster” bonuses for objectives. Not only did most of the monsters now get their own monstrous rampages, but the book also has access to sub-100 point monsters (who aren’t behemoths, so you can take as many as you want). So for under 300 points you can have the 3 monsters needed for a 3 point Ferocious Advance. If you are keeping track, these all fit in the same list together, and you can still take heroes.
The build above probably wouldn’t survive the top tables, but at the moment if played well enough, and you summoned in some more offense, and dog-(goat?)piled enemies with x3 cockatrice and 30 tzaangor fully buffed, most things are not surviving.
Army Faction: Beasts of Chaos
– Army Subfaction: Allherd
– Artefacts: Volcanic Axe
Dragon Ogor Shaggoth (155)
– Artefacts: Tanglehorn Familiars
– Spells: Sundering Blades
Grashrak Fellhoof (150)
– Spells: Titanic Fury
Great Bray-Shaman (100)
– Spells: Savage Dominion
Tzaangor Shaman (135)
– Command Traits: Dominator
– Artefacts: Blade of the Desecrator
– Spells: Wild Rampage
– Gor Blade and Beastshield
– Gor Blade and Beastshield
– Ungor Blade and Half-shield
– Ungor Blade and Half-shield
1 x Tzaangors (350)***
Grashrak’s Despoilers (150)
Ungor Raiders (90)***
Ungor Raiders (90)***
***Hunters of the Heartlands
TOTAL POINTS: (2000/2000)
After my first game with them, Gors should have shields, no other weapon loadout is nearly as effective. Screens are so important and you are basically always running. Utilize Gor reroll charge on the ambush, If you take beastlords, make them swing first vs their target, they are very fragile. And my army had 19 drops, I think I even used half the warscrolls in the book.
Since Razorgors aren’t always easy to find, they can also be a spawn. The Ungor raiders could also be Untamed Beasts allies to save points. I wouldn’t reccomend it though, sometimes the bow shots aren’t bad! It can make people think about burning their CP early ‘just in case”. This list is flooded with junk. This junk, however, moves before the game starts, is small, is fast, can shoot, can do mortal wounds, has rend in combat, outflanks, rerolls charges off the outflank, screens, screens outflanks and clog the board. Sometimes, the Junk can sometimes punch back.
Ultimately I decided to settle for a 20-bird Tzaangor blob guarding the herd stone in order to add more chaff. nd 4-6 heroes sitting behind them. The three Cockatrice can hangout on their own behind other screens or just on a flank, posed to guarantee Ferocious Advance for 3 points turn 1 while you focus all the junk to screen objectives, alpha charges, etc. and build summoning points.
Every turn you should burn a CP for a summoning point and smash some goat heads against the herdstone (or the Shaggoth cutting itself to heal later) for even more summoning points. Every combat phase one of your 4 monster should use the new Monstrous rampage to get more points. Outflanking with the pack of Gor and using them to just harass enemy flanks, by either locking them in combat or not letting them march forward because of them. By turn 2, your tzaangor should be fully ramped up to go charge whatever has been clearing your junk in the midfield. Plus, whatever your summoning pool has to offer at this point.
The Shaggoth, if able to move freely behind the screen of junk can shut down an enemy caster for an entire round once per battle. The Beastlord has 6 damage 2 attacks and can explode mortals or just more attacks depending on his target. The general flys 16” and gives the Tzaangor +1 to wound wholly within 12”, and if the shaman charges the enemy before the Tzaangor does, the Tzaangor (And all friendly Allherd units within 18”) get to reroll charges. On top of all this, the x2 warlord battalions comes with a free CP once per game each as well, meaning you are +2 CP during the game that you can burn for some incredible rallying potential and/or for a free summoning point from the Allherd Command Ability. If your rolls are average, you should have around 6 Primordial Call points per battle round, and if you spike hard, you can get 11 per battle round, which is a free chimera every turn.
If you want to go more into detail about things like deployment strategies with fragile armies, or how to manipulate win conditions in your army, Hit me up on Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/TitanWargaming Till then, thanks for looking!