Saturday, January 30, 2010

Of Minotaurs and Beastmen

So I have finished the Minotaurs, here they are in all their glory. I found painting them to be a real nice change of pace from the usual 28mm stuff. You will note I kept them fairly clean, but I bet they would look even better all tore up, bruised and bloody from the constant battles they wage. Their bases are base coated in P3 Idrian Flesh with drybrushes of Jack Bone and Marrow White. The flock is the green static grass and summer meadow ground clutter form Gale Force 9. I know the official photos of the Minotaurs have made them seem ill made, but I believe this is more a trick of how they were painted than the models themselves. If you are looking to make a Beastmen army, I would recommend these models to you.

As I was painting these fiends, I really gave the Beastmen Army book the once over, and I have to tell you this army looks like it will do pretty good. The two big special rules for the army are Primal Fury and Beastmen Ambush. Primal Fury allows the unit with the rule to make a Ld. Test at the start of each round of close combat. If the unit passes then they are subject to Hatred against all units they are fighting until the end of the close combat phase. They get to reroll failed to hit rolls even if it is not the first round of close combat. If the unit passes the Ld. Test on a double one (otherwise known as a 2), then the unit is also Frenzied until the end of the close combat phase, even if the unit lost a combat earlier in the battle.

Beastmen Ambush allows the unit with the rule to stay off the table at the beginning of the game so long as the player has a second unit of the same type and size or larger that is deployed as normal. You must tell your opponent what units you are holding back under this rule. Now you can arm and armor these units however you want so long as both units are the same type and size (or larger) so do with that information as you will. Now you get to roll each turn for these reserves (even on turn one) during your Remaining Moves Phase. On a 1 or 2 the unit enters from a table’s edge of the opponent’s choice, 2 or 3 roll again next turn, 4 the unit on the table’s edge to the Beastmen player’s left, 5 the unit enters on the table’s edge to the Beastmen player’s right and a 6 the unit arrives on the table edge chosen by the Beastmen player. Yep they can come in right behind or next to the opposing player’s troops right off the bat in turn one if the rolls go well. The down side is if the units in reserve do not get on the table by the end of the game then they count as being killed for determining victory conditions.
The Units are really well thought out with, of course, the Gors, Bestigors and Ungors making an appearance. I was somewhat saddened that there was no kind of Minotaur unit as a Core choice. With the Minotaur Lord (Doombull) and the Minotaur Special choice, I was really hoping for some kind of Minotaur unit to allow and entire Minotaur army. This is really a small argument from what looks at first read to be a very solid army book. The ability to run a complete Beastmen Chariot army is a nice touch. With your Lord or Hero choice in a chariot, the Tuskgor chariots as a Core choice and then new Razorgor chariots as a Special choice, the idea of lots of chariots can again be realized.
The addition of unique ‘monsters’ for the Beastmen army was a welcome surprise. The retro but fun Jabberslythe (jabberwocky), the four armed Ghorgon, the one eyed mage killing Cyghor, and of course Giants give the army a unique edge only seen before in Dark Elf armies. I imagine that Beastmen players will be salivating at the thought of so many choices. Finally the Special Characters are overwhelming in this book. Nine Special Characters are available to the Beastmen player, from the classic Khazrak and Gorthor to crazed newbies Taurox and Moonclaw, the choice just keep coming. A nice thing about the Special Characters is that they can definitely give you a theme to carry through your army, be it a predilection to a particular chaos god, a feel for the classic lines of Beastmen, or a desire for powerful magics can all be found here.
The Gifts of Chaos and Treasures of the Herdstones offer even more chances to not only give your Beastmen more power and ability to thwart your opponent’s plans, but also to theme your army a particular way. Say you enjoy the idea of a group of Beastmen who follow the edicts of Nurgle, you could offer such Gifts like Slug Skin and Gnarled Hide to your Lords or Heroes (remember each Gift of Chaos can only be chosen once per army, but they are not magic items so they are not affected by things that neutralize or limit magic items). Then you can equip your Lords or Heroes with Everbleed or Trollhide to continue the effect. Needless to say there are plenty of Gifts and Treasures to offer a wide variety of advantages to your army.

Overall I have to say this army book has given me a lot of faith and hope for future army books. While the details of this book do give the Beastmen some fantastic battle ideas and themes, it by no means overwhelms earlier army books, which is a relief. Is there a chance to be ‘beardy’ with this army book, yes there is but it will be up to the player to make it that way as it will take some work to do such a thing. On a scale from one to ten, I give the Beastmen army book an 8.5.