White Dwarf 467: Sons of Behemat update

An article by and    Age of Sigmar Reviews        0

The Sons of Behemat came stomping right out the gates of AoS 3.0, with a range of podium finishes across the globe over the last few weeks. Given their recent successes, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the megagargants were in a good place and didn’t need any more help from the Games Workshop Studios, but you’d be wrong. Behold, in the mighty pages of White Dwarf 467 come new ways to make 35 wounds with a 4+ save and a 5+ ward even more oppressive! Admittedly, most of these updates are around allowing Sons the full range of options, since a lot of choices for grand strategies and core battalions simply were not compatible with the army, but I’m not entirely sure they needed the help. Will this turn the tide in the children of a godbeast’s favour? Is this a poorly disguised effort to post a lot of cool gargant pictures? Read on to find out!

Matched Play

Core Battalions

The Core Battalions in the GHB were a tad limited for Sons players, with only Linebreaker (one leader and two or three non-leader behemoths granting you a once per battle free All-out Attack or All-out Defence) legal for their Battletome. This update adds two more options: Bosses of the Stomp for your mega gargant only desires, and Footsloggas if you want to have a mega parent and a swarm of baby Mancrushers.

Bosses of the Stomp requires 2 Megagargants of any type (up to a maximum of 4), and grants either Unified or an additional enhancement. Given how hungry Sons of Behemat players are for artifacts (how many Amulets of Destiny have you seen lately?) I’d probably lean towards the enhancement to get an Enchanted Portcullis in there too, but a one drop swarm of megas is no joke either.

Footsloggas requires one megagargant and two or three mancrushers and offers you either a one drop battalion (theme, anyone?) or Swift, allowing you to use At the Double or Forward to Victory once per game for free, which is… actually pretty great. I was all set to play it down, but in an army that’s so low on units I’m now moderately scared of that mega rerolling its charge on a critical turn.

Mantic Giant by Fowler

Mantic Giant. Credit: Fowler

Grand Strategies

The article also includes a new Grand Strategy: Make the Land Tremble! I’m guessing we’ll eventually get more army specific grand strategies but for now it’s an oddity. Anyway, Make the Land Tremble! nets you 3VP if, during every battle round, any model from your army made a run or charge move. This is… really good, actually. It doesn’t need to be the same giant, so as long as someone is legging it then you’re likely scoring it. The problem is, why would you ever take a grand strategy that requires that you do something when Beast Master simply requires that you exist on the tabletop?

Beast Master is likely to maintain its position as the top choice because you score 3 additional victory points if there are any Monster units left from your army on the battlefield. Of course literally every model in a Sons of Behemat army is a Monster which makes this is the absolutely no-brainer pick to guarantee that your army nabs an additional 3VP at the end of the battle, unless your opponent tables you, at which point you probably don’t care because you’ve lost anyway.

Battle Tactics

Games Workshop looked at the list of Battle Tactics and decided that eight options for a Sons of Behemat army to complete wasn’t enough, so now we have three more. I’m not entirely sure why they felt it was necessary to turn it up to 11 when a Sons army can already complete everything already, but what the hell, here we go.

‘Thats Mine!’ is probably my favourite, requiring that a Kraken-eater kicks an objective that was fully outside your territory into your territory. This isn’t particularly challenging, and is likely an action that you’re looking to complete anyway, so neat to have this option.

Wrecking Crew asks that you demolish an enemy faction terrain piece. Firstly, as an Ossiarch Bonereapers player, rude. Secondly, this is one I strongly advise against taking, because it’ll only succeed on a roll of a 3+. If you can do nothing else feel free to take a chance but in general you really want to pick options you’re guaranteed to score.

Manskittles feels even worse than Wrecking Crew. You have to use a Warstomper’s Hurled Body ability to cause any mortal wounds to the Battleline unit you hurled said body into. This requires not one, but two dice rolls to go well. The first to pick up an enemy model is usually trivial if not auto-pass if you pick one wound enemies, but the second only triggers on a 4+. 4+ to get 1VP? No thank you.

It’s important to note here that none of these give conditional additional victory points like most of the battle tactics in the GHB grant you. Sure, they exist, but they’re all low scoring and two are a bit of a gamble. Do with this as you will.

Kings of War Tomb Giant

Wait, hang on, wrong kind of giant! Credit: Craig “MasterSlowPoke” Sniffen

Wrapping up

Such a huge deal was made out of removing core battalions that it feels a bit of a kick in the teeth for a faction that’s already doing so well to get an extra boost. They’re not exactly oppressive as an army, but this does feel a little like we’re giving the haves more and ignoring the have-nots. Given how battalions/detachments/armies of renown have historically gone for all kind of Warhammer games, I’m not sure that it’s entirely healthy for the game, especially one so young as Age of Sigmar 3.0, to give one army a unique options unavailable to any other. Hopefully this isn’t a pattern we see repeated for the Kruleboyz and Stormcast; 40k is a great example of how badly unbalancing faction specific objectives can be.

On the other hand, while the core battalions are pretty neat and powerful, and give Sons of Behemat armies more options than just the one they had previously, no competitive army is going to pick anything other than Beast Mater for their grand strategy, and none of the battle tactics feel particularly meaningful either. They’re cute, sure, but I’m not sure how much I really care about giving one army more unique options that don’t really… do anything.

Overall, this is actually a hugely positive step. Even though, and I can’t reiterate this enough, Sons of Behemat armies are really good, you guys, it shows that Games Workshop is looking at the armies to see that one is lacking the new toys that other armies get to play with, or perhaps a bit of kick, and is more than happy to remedy. On the other hand, maybe they should look at Beasts of Chaos or Hedonites of Slaanesh first.

Narrative Play

For those of you who decided to stick around, there’s a bit more to talk about here. In addition to the Matched Play, this Tome Celestial includes some new rules for playing Sons of Behemat in Path to Glory. This is a bit exciting because as stated in our review of Path to Glory the base options are a bit…dry. With the Stormcast and Orruk Warclans battletomes still on the horizon we don’t really know how the game will differ if your army has a properly updated battletome so this gives us a potential glimpse into what the future could hold.

Designing your Warband

From the outset, your rules for creating a Sons of Behemat Path to Glory Roster have some unique quirks compared to a standard roster. Due to Sons of Behemat’s unique makeup normal Path to Glory design sort of falls apart for them, so instead of a Starting Size you choose the power of your Warlord. There are 6 ranks in ascending size: Rising Gargant, Bull Gargant, Adult Gargant, Mighty Gargant, Elder Gargant and Ancient Gargant.  You only get one command Trait at Bull Gargant size (equivalent to “Mighty Hero” in the core book), and the points required to rise in rank past that are much higher.  Ancient Gargants cap out at a whopping 75+ renown! This is probably some insight into how progression is going to happen in the future, as currently there isn’t any benefit for a Hero past 15 renown for other armies.

Normal unit limits don’t apply here. It wouldn’t make much sense since the core book doesn’t allow more than one Monster. Instead you have a Megagargant and Mancrusher limit. Your “cap” goes up as your Warlord gains ranks, gargants follow the biggest and strongest after. The Megagargant limit is pretty generous and likely allows more than you’d ever need, but the Mancrusher limit can get restrictive. You aren’t allowed to use mobs and you cannot reinforce, but you can form them into mobs at the start of a battle.  Mancrushers still earn veteran abilities like a normal unit would but they only get the one of whoever you nominate as the “boss” of the mob if you put them together. The key benefit of this is that any renown the group earns is given to each Mancrusher within. Hey, communism works!

Starting Size & Territory

Your warlord’s Rank you get a certain number of points with which to add other Gargants. Bull Gargant up through Elder Gargant slot neatly into the 600/1000/1500/2000 point limit that is present in the core book and are shared here. So if you decide to start with a Bull Gargant, you will get 600 points to play around with and so on. Rising Gargants and Ancient Gargants cannot be chosen from the outset, they’re for particularly fresh or experienced Warlords.

You also don’t get to choose your territory, you only get the Wildlands, and that’s all you’ll get. Since you don’t care about the Monster limit it’s a bit of a waste here and a missed opportunity. Gargants don’t care about keeping territory, but it doesn’t mean you can’t reap the benefits after battle.

Gatebreaker Megagargant. Credit: Magos Sockbert

Aftermath Sequence

The aftermath sequence follows the same general path as Path to Glory in the core rules, but with even more changes from the initial warband setup.

Resolve Injuries and Casualties

The process for resolving injuries doesn’t fundamentally change. You roll two dice for each injured model or unit, and consult a table. Gargants get their own special table, as the one in the core book isn’t really appropriate for them. Losing a mega gargant on a 2-3 is going to set you back a lot more than many other army’s heroes will, and D3 wounds shaved off (as a worst case scenario) isn’t punishing enough. So instead, the dying option is removed, and is replaced with taking 2D6 “lingering” wounds with a D6, D3, no wounds and a gain 2D6 renown entry.

Managing Territory

Gargants don’t hold land, they don’t really have the cognitive function or organization to do such a thing. As a result, you don’t have a stronghold and you only ever have one territory. After a battle you get to make a roll for exploration if you lost and two if you won. You immediately choose one and replace your current one. They don’t grant the normal benefits, as most would be pretty worthless to you anyway. Instead all of the terrain is either Slim Pickins or Big Pickins. 

The only real benefit is that Slim Pickings let you heal D3 Lingering Wounds and Big Pickins let you heal D6. If you take more damage it makes sense you also gotta heal it more too. You don’t need to roll to see if it works, just spend the renown and heal up. As stated in the core book, the 61-66 result is a special territory and we get to see our first one! The Alehouse counts as Big Pickins and gives 2D6 renown too.

Conclusions

I also am not a huge fan of this, it all makes sense from a fluff perspective. Instead of acquiring territory you’re wandering trying to find a place with the good stuff. The problem is it strips back player choice. Ideally these expansions should be giving players more choice, not less. The way injuries and recuperation works isn’t exactly interesting either. it’s going to be damned near impossible to kill a gargant, and Heroes dying was already pretty hard.

I think the goal was balancing, as the roster system didn’t function properly for Sons of Behemat so it made sense to reform the roster system to function with Gargants, and also to increase  the damage taken for injuries to be a little more appropriate for our 35 wound monstrosities. The lack of new veteran upgrades or quests is a sorely missed opportunity and I’m hoping those are something we’d seen in a proper battletome because if this is all we have to look forward to I’m not super jazzed about it.

Veteran of the Sole Wars

Gorlagg Knight-Kicker, Gatebreaker Gargant. Credit: Raf Cordero

Campaign Arc: The Stomping of Mattah

One last thing. This Tome Celestial throws at us a new way to play narratively, the Campaign Arc. These have some similarities to the narrative campaigns of recent White Dwarfs, a series of missions back to back detailing specific forces fighting it out. In this case it is the Sons of Behemat (of course) vs the Lumineth Realmlords. The campaign’s story is pretty straight forward, Matah is a sea port of Zaimetrica, one of the Lumineth’s nations. It has, like many similar bases, become a base of operations for war material and the Sons of Behemat are drawn to it for the spoils and shinies within.

The Structure

Those of you who’ve read my past reviews of Tome Celestials may have noticed I have issues with how Games Workshop does their narrative campaigns. Frequently, they are disconnected asymmetrical battles where winning and losing doesn’t change the outcome, making them feel rather tenuously connected. Well good news, they actually got it right! Whoever wins or loses causes the campaign to deviate (if ever so slightly) and there are small rewards for the winner to take into the next fight.

Even better, you are not locked down to one asymmetrical fight. You can play this as part of a Path to Glory campaign, but you also can do these using Open War or Matched Play rules. Whichever you chose, the exact battleplans will be given to you for setup, streamlining the process. There are three battle plans, representing the exterior of the the city of Mattah, and one final battle plan for the city itself. The Sons of Behemat player gets to choose where the fight is. If they win the campaign immediately transitions into the final battle at Mattach. If they lose they get one last chance to choose a second location and if they win they can continue to Mattah or walk away in shame.

Whoever wins each fight gets a little prize on the next fight, such as gaining an extra enhancement or using All Out Defence one per turn for free. Both armies are pretty strong and will do very well against each other in this match up, so it would be interesting to see how it plays out.

The final battle takes place using the long sides of the board as deployment. Sons of Behemat players are hoping to get to the Lumineth’s deployment zone, while the Lumineth keep them back. If a Megagargant enters the enemy deployment zone and isn’t engaged they can leave the battle to gain 3D6 victory points, while a Mancrusher can do the same to gain 3D3. Lumineth only gain D6 VP for killing a Megagargant and D3 for killing a Mancrusher so it is imperative they keep them died up at all cost!

As a nice little reward, Path to Glory players get to walk away with a nice bonus. Everyone involved gets D3 renown and the winner receives a new Artefact for their trouble. Lumineth receive it as a gift for defending the city while the Gargants, naturally, stole it.

Team Zissou Mancrusher Gargant. Credit: Fowler

Conclusion

This is great! Like I said above I never liked how the structure of the campaigns were 3-4 seemingly unrelated battles that didn’t affect each other. Now they not only do that, but give 3 ways to play. I hope to see more campaign arcs in the future as I’d love to see these for armies I play. Keep up the good work!

If you have any questions or comments leave them below or email us at contact@goonhammer.com.

 

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.