Ross finishes his army, but does 3rd edition have other plans..?
A little while ago now I finished up my 2,000 point army and then a few things happened; Krangos and (of course) 3rd edition Age of Sigmar. But first, the original challenge – 2,000 points from a standing start. It’s remarkably difficult to capture an army in one photo, but you can see a little fly through of the beasts here.
Some of the last bits I needed to finish up the main army included a ‘chariot’ to complete the Desolating Beastherd battalion and Grashrak’s Despoilers. I’m happy with how the simple chariot conversion came out and really happy with the job on Grashrak and his axe-man.
Out to pasture
I was lucky enough to get a game arranged the weekend after I completed the army. Tabletop Republic in Hemel Hempstead, which happens to only be half an hour away, is a great local gaming store with lots of tables and a good community. I was able to arrange a pick up game with a gent called Callum, who had a force of Lumineth Realmlords lead by Teclis.
This was my first time playing a 2k game of Age of Sigmar since about November 2019 (!) and the first ever of this size with the Beasts. Callum was a great player with a razor-sharp list based around Teclis, 20 Archers, and the incredibly annoying god of wind.
Now I won’t go into the details, but the Beasts acquitted themselves well, racking up an early and significant points lead. Learnings, however, were to be had as Teclis’s magic tore great chunks out of the herd. I committed too early, instead of sticking to the objective game, and suffered for it. That being said, it was a close game that didn’t have a clear winner till the 5th battle round.
Main lessons were to be more respectful of mega units like Teclis, that it’s better to get a perfect round 2 charge off than a slightly wonky round 1 charge, and always play the points.
As a side note, the Broken Realms expansion Krangos included a few updates for Beasts of Chaos. Some of these are good, albeit not revolutionary, such as Bullgors getting the ability to cause mortal wounds on the charge. They also revamped the Beastlord warscroll. Anyone who has followed the blog from the start will know that the model is one of the key reasons I settled on the army, he’s just too damn cool.
Games Workshop decided to add 5pts to his value, which I think you’d safely assume would come with an overall improvement to his warscroll, right? Yeah, about that. He did gain run and charge, which is a common ability amongst Brayherd units and nice to see. However, he also swapped out his re-rolls on both hits and wounds for exploding 6s on the To Hit roll. Without being too harsh on Games Workshop, the evidence that their games designers don’t understand basic maths continues. He is sadly now consigned to the display case and a Doombull is awaiting painting.
All for an extra inch
And then 3rd edition was announced. This wasn’t much of a surprise to anyone in any social media groups related to Age of Sigmar and generally I was excited. Despite all the chatter about the age of beasts and the teased artwork, solid rumours had it that it wasn’t Beasts of Chaos as a launch faction. That wasn’t too much of a big deal but then the rules happened, or specifically, coherency happened and warscroll battalions stopped happening.
There’s a lot to like in 3rd edition. Monster abilities are cool! Hero abilities are cool! Command abilities kicking off squad leaders is great. But warscroll battalions are gone from matched play. Well, that’s a problem. As I wrote at the start, the Desolating Beastherd battalion helped make up from some of the weaknesses in the Beasts of Chaos list by making a one or two drop army easy and bringing a mild benefit with it. That’s gone now, and there’s no way a Beasts of Chaos army can fit into the new one-drop core battalion – so we’re going second most games now. That’s … fine I guess, we have ambush but it’s going to make the turn 1 points play a lot harder.
And then they changed the coherency rules. I apologise for what sounds a little salty, but having had to explain a rule to an actual codex writer during a 40k tournament at Warhammer World, I’ve never had much faith in the competence of Games Workshop’s games designers. If you haven’t already seen it, the coherency rules for Age of Sigmar are changing with third edition so that for units of more than 5 models, each model has to be within 1” of two other models from the unit instead of one.
The intention of this rule was probably to stop the conga lines of screening infantry which were prevalent in a couple of armies as they gave great, cheap board control. What they’ve accidentally done is absolutely castrate any combat unit with a base size bigger than 25mm and a combat reach of 1”, which just happens to describe Bestigors and Bullgors i.e. the units that carry the Beasts of Chaos faction.
Beasts units are squishy, and the charges you get off have to count. That means getting as many of your boys within 1” of theirs. That becomes mechanically challenging as your attacking units are stuck fighting in a loose two rank formation at best. This doesn’t significantly affect small base units with 1” weapons, or anything that already had a 2+” combat reach.
Without labouring the point, if you take two units – 10 Bestigors and 10 Lumienth spearmen. The spearmen went up 25 points for 10, and Bestigors went up 15 points for 10. 30 Bestigors as a single unit went up 105 points with the loss of the max unit discount which is the equivalent of 35 points per 10! Alternatively, Bladelords (who are two wounds a pop) went up 10 points per 5 models.
Spearmen and Bladelords are, by and large, unaffected by the changes to coherency. Spearmen are closely packed by design to benefit from shinning company and they both have combat weapons that enable the entire unit to fight in multiple ranks easily. By comparison, with careful stacking, Bestigors are probably getting a maximum six out of a ten man unit attacking during combat due the requirements of coherency. Bullgors are getting about four in from a six man unit.
Between the Beastlord getting gelded, the ability to react to charges, and significant drop in the efficiency of two key units for the army, I’m deeply hopeful for a generous FAQ (probably optimistic) or a more assertive Battletome soon.
As a minor point, one of the 12 new Battleplans switches off the Brayherd ambush ability completely and means summoned units can’t charge from reserve, which seems almost malicious.
The extremely narrow light at the end of the tunnel is coming from a series of flying magic discs. Enlightened on Discs didn’t suffer a points increase, were already quite good and come with a 2” combat weapon. The Tzaangor Shaman, also disc borne, actually went down 15 points and remains an efficient use of points.
With easier control of the Wildfire Taurus predatory spell and cheap access to monsters, there are ways forward as the rules currently sit. I’m pretty down about Age of Sigmar right now, or at least the faction for which I’ve just put a lot of effort into, but I will reserve judgement until the new Battletome for the Beasts of Chaos lands.
There’s a tournament to prepare for at the start of August, and it looks like I’ve got about 700 points of models to paint to get ready for it. I’ll be stunned if I get one win out of three games.