Thursday, April 28, 2011

Beastman Special Abilities: Primal Fury and Bloodgreed.

Beastman Special Abilities – Bloodgreed and Primal Fury.

The purpose of this post is to evaluate the special abilities of the Beastman army.  There are three primary abilities that the Beastman army can take advantage of: Ambush, Bloodgreed and Primal Fury.  Of the three abilities, we will be covering Bloodgreed and Primal Fury. 

Various armies have certain defining characteristics that make them unique.  Wood elves have the ability to move and shoot without penalty and have forest strider, just to name a few.  Vampire Counts are unbreakable and cause fear, not to mention they can also resurrect dead allies.  Lizardmen have scaly skin and cold blooded.  High elves always strike first and have high magic.  Every army has some advantage to give them a unique feel and purpose.   

Beastman Special Ability: Primal Fury

                The Primal Fury ability is perhaps one of the most underestimated abilities in the entire army.  The ability itself provides the unit the Hatred special rule whenever they unit passes a leadership test also known as a Primal Fury roll.  Now unlike normal Hatred, the Beastman units that are able to benefit from this special ability are allowed to roll for Primal Fury every round.  In addition to the standard Hatred rule, if a unit rolls double 1’s for it’s Primal Fury roll they also benefit from Frenzy.  In essence what has now happened is that Beastmen’s combat effectiveness has now matched that of the High Elves with their Always Strikes First special rule.  Every unit engaged in close combat that can use Primal Fury now has the chance to reroll all their misses.  This ability makes the core choices for the Beastmen army even more effective.  Gors, Ungors and Tuskgor Chariots (not to mention also Bestigors but they are Specials) now have the chance to counteract the lack of armor and strength they have with an increased number of hits in close combat.                 
                This ability is generally overlooked when a new player encounters the army.  It isn’t until they see the Hatred in action every round (if lucky) that they realize how effective the Beastmen can be in close combat.  Having Core units suddenly rerolling all their misses and making your opponent suffer more wounds is a huge game changer.  Also this ability is not dependant upon a character in the unit, the basic core units come with the ability standard. 

Synergy:  The Primal Fury rule has several options within the army book to be even more potent than the first casual glance would notice.  Here are a few of the many examples:
1.       Character with Brass Cleaver – now the character has +1 attack per model in base to base contact.  Couple this will the ability to reroll misses and you have a lot of hits and more than likely a lot of wounds to deal with from a character model.
2.       Character with Steel Claws – again like the Brass Cleaver you know have 1d3+1 additional attacks to get Primal Fury rerolls with.
3.       Lore of Beasts: Savage Beasts of Horros – Granting a character in a unit +3 Str and +3 attacks, coupled with any of the items listed above can and will grant a character up to 10+ attacks in a round with high strength.  This can lead to the “blender” effect where Primal Fury makes an already potent character even more deadly.
4.       Gors using two-hand weapons instead of shields – Gors using 2 hand weapons granting them an additional attack only continues the trend of making your opponent roll more dice for saves.  Combine this with the Lore of Beasts spell “Wyssan’s Wildform” and a Totem of Rust and put your Gors in a wide formation (or Horde formation) and you could be swinging with Strength 4 attacks and -3 to armor saves and be Toughness 5 to boot.  That is not a combination that any heavily armored unit would want to deal with.
5.       Ungors with spears and shields – Granting your Ungors an additional rank with spears (or another if in horde formation) allows even the “no-horn” Beastmen to really capitalize on the Primal Fury ability and I can guarantee your opponent won’t underestimate them again. Especially if you use any of the combinations mentioned in example no.4.

Beastman Special Ability: Bloodgreed

                The Bloodgreed special ability is perhaps one of the most devastating abilities in the game.  Not because it reduces armor, or changes a model’s toughness or even kills a model outright.  The Bloodgreed ability turns whatever models that affect it into absolute killing machines.  I dare say that this ability should be a character only ability after seeing how insane it ramps up during normal games.  
                The Bloodgreed special ability grants the model the Frenzy special rule upon winning a round of combat.  If the models continue to win combat and do not lose a round they will gain an additional attack for every round they win.  The ability to earn additional attacks each round that are cumulative until you lose a fight is for lack of a better term insane.  This ability being only available on certain character choices, a special selection (Minotaurs) and a Rare selection (Ghorgon) is probably a good thing. 
                This ability is generally underestimated until it is seen in action and then both sides of the table see exactly how this power changes the face of the battlefield. 

Example:  4 Minotaurs armed with Light Armor and an Additional Hand Weapon will turn out 4 attacks each normally or 16 attacks total.  Let us say that these four minotaurs charge a unit of 20 skeletons and win combat.  The Minotaurs next round will each gain Frenzy as a result of Bloodgreed and now will have 5 attacks each or 20 total.  Now let’s say this combat ends after 3 more turns (due to the Vampire building the unit up each turn with Invocation).  Each Minotaur provided they have had no casualties will now be swinging with 8 attacks each for a total of 32 attacks.  32 attacks at Strength 5 and Weapon Skill 4 will literally kill almost anything it touches.  This is not a rare occurrence either, in my game last night against Orcs and Goblins my Minotaurs were swinging with 8 attacks each at the end of the game.

                This ability is also not dependant upon having a character in the unit, 2 of the selections in the Beastman army get it as part of their point cost.  I believe however that Games Workshop intentionally put some drawbacks or limitations on the use of Bloodgreed by simply altering the load out on Minotaurs.  Minotaurs and Ghorgons may not take Heavy armor (well the characters can).   They are very expensive models, the Minotaurs are only Toughness 4 with light armor and the Ghorgon is Toughness 6 with no armor.  So while the units can and do turn into incredible killing machines, they are not invulnerable.  Also, due to their point cost and selection type, you are rather limited on how many you can take in a normal game.  That said, let us examine some synergy you can utilize Bloodgreed with in the Beastman army.

Synergy:  The Bloodgreed ability can be capitalized on easily by creating a proper environment for the models affected. 
1.       Bloodkine with Frenzy sword – By using the unit champion and giving him the 10-15 point magic weapon that gives the him (and by extension his unit) Frenzy to begin the game with will allow you to automatically increase the number of attacks before even getting into combat.  This way as soon as you win your first round you begin to gain the additional attacks right off the bat.
2.       Gorebull with Minotaur unit – The Gorebull automatically starts out with Frenzy just like the example above.  The difference is that you can begin to kit out the Gorebull or make him the Battle Standard Bearer as well.  There are also several methods you can kit out the character which I’ll list in the next example.
3.       Doombull with Minotaur unit – The Doombull is your ultimate wrecking ball on the field.  You surround him with his 5-7 Minotaurs and point him in the direction of a unit that needs to die.  There are also several options on how to kit out a Doombull/Gorebull to maximize your Bloodgreed and Killing Spree.   Here are a few ideas.
A.       Doombull with Axe of Swift Slaying and Uncanny Senses – This option is self explanatory.  You give the Doombull or Gorebull +1 to Initiative making him 5/4 and equip him with the Always Strikes First weapon.   This is an alpha strike style kit in which you are sure to maximize the carnage of your character and then allow the blender that are your supporting Minotaurs to bat clean up.  This build ensures that you begin to build up attacks quickly for the unit.
B.       Doombull/Gorebull with Brass Cleaver or Steel Claw – once again you are increasing the amount of attacks your character unleashes which will further increase your chances of winning combat and gaining more attacks with the Minotaurs.
C.       Doombull/Gorebull w/ Axes of Khorgor – this option allows you to ensure you have a high hit percentage since the Axes of Khorgor allow you to reroll misses.  Not the most point economical method since the Uncanny Senses/Axe of Swift Slaying will generally grant you rerolls to hit anyway.  The bonus you get is the +1 attack.
D.       Gorebull BSB w/ Beast Banner or Banner of Rust – one banner makes your Minotaurs Strength 6 while the other increases their mortality since they would have absolutely no save but at the same time makes any unit they fight suffer a -4 to their armor saves.  Either banner augments and increases the effectiveness of Bloodgreed.
4.       Lore of Beasts spells that benefit the Minotaur units – Wyssan’s Wildform and Savage Beasts of Horros.  Augmenting the unit making them Str 6 and Toughness 5 increases their durability and survival.  Granting the Doombull/Gorebull +3 Strength and +3 attacks sends the power level of that unit into ridiculous levels.
5.       Placing the Bloodgreed Character (Doombull/Gorebull) with 20mm/40mm footprint models.  You can always spread Frenzy around the army – try placing the Gorebull with a unit of Ungors or Razorgors.  Granting them Frenzy never hurt anyone and gives some punch to the unit.  The downside is units that have a Doombull/Gorebull in them and are affected by Bloodgreed can not benefit from Primal Fury as well. 
6.       Orchestrate proper Flank/Rear Charges with your Minotaurs/Ghorgons.  Ghorgons and Minotaurs shine when they are presented a flank to slam into.  The Ghorgon who starts out with 6 attacks (7 with Frenzy) can easily ramp up to 11-12 attacks after a few quick rounds of eating some basic core troops.  Minotaurs relish in slaying from the flank, it provides them the full deadliness of their unit without having to worry about a large amount of attacks swinging back at them.

I feel that Minotaurs and Ghorgons should get Frenzy and leave the Bloodgreed to the Doombull/Gorebull models.  That ability is way too good to be a standard ability for a 55 point model.  However I’m not going to complain since I’m going to use the hell out of it until a new army book is released for Beastmen. 

In closing – I hope this information has been helpful.  If anything it will provide those who do not play Beastmen with a little bit of information on what to expect so that you don’t get caught with your pants down.  Nothing sucks worse than having a unit of 5 minotaurs and a doombull smash into your unit with each of them sporting 11 attacks.  You have been warned!