Age of Sigmar: Beasts of Chaos - What to Expect in the New Battletome

Carter Kachmarik
December 07, 2022


There hasn’t been an era since Warhammer Fantasy when the Beasts of Chaos (or in early days, Beastmen) acted as a cohesive whole within the world of Warhammer.  Passed between various superfactions before eventually settling into their own Army Book, with the most notable iteration being Fantasy’s 7th edition version, BoC have some of the greatest unit turnover per-capita of any army to be produced by Games Workshop. Over long stretches, marked Beastmen such as Khornegors have come and gone, with newcomers like Dragon Ogors being added to the great herds during Age of Sigmar.  But now, with a new Battletome on the horizon, how will AoS 3.0’s take on the goats we adore play out among its predecessors?  I think there are some fantastic clues already lying just outside of view!

Beasts of Chaos have had a rough time in terms of meta contention in all but the most recent of times. Throughout Fantasy, they were among the lowest-rated armybooks, and even in AoS, only after their White Dwarf Update (which I touch on in a previous article) did they get a hoof in edgewise against meta armies.  That said, from data we’ve seen GW provide in their Metawatch articles, they have internal fears about the BoC’s winrate.  Because they draw from such a small sample size, at RTT-upwards tournament play, the few BoC players represented tend to be quite competent with the army, as I’ve experienced in my multiple top-placements this past year.  Unlike armies like Nurgle, or Seraphon, the sheer number of players is substantially lower, which makes GW’s internal numbers of ~63-56%WR so skewed.  All that’s to say, I expect this tome will be a toning-down of the overall strength held within Beastmen, and focus more on giving them a cohesive flavor as an army, which is something they’ve sorely lacked in the Mortal Realms.

Having delved back into old Warhammer Community articles concerning the 2.0 release of the BoC Battletome, one particular theme emerged: What I will dub the ‘Herd Triad’.  Much of the hype generated by these posts from 2018 concern the disparate groups that make up the greater Beastmen herd, being the goat-like Brayherd, minotauresque Warherd, and draconic Thunderscorn (which, while being around since Fantasy, was newly added to the range in Age of Sigmar).  Words like ‘compiled’, ‘overlapping’, and ‘umbrella’ are all used, signifying the design choice to err towards pushing players towards mixed forces, which was an overall success for most players.  The Herdstone (A new release at the time) was the point of focus for this unification which any given BoC unit, regardless of their subgroup, could use to increase their Rend and prevent routing.  Yet still, each of the given Leaders in the army only benefited their own subgroup, and that fact, coupled with the now-defunct focus on Warscroll Battalions, meant it was often simply better to choose a single group, and pepper the rest between a core of Brayherd, Warherd, and Thunderscorn.  In stark contrast, one aspect of the army that was of minimal focus in 2.0 is among the first words in their new reveal: Ambush.

Fulfilling the fantasy of a given army is perhaps the hardest part of a game designer’s job, given how much goes into making a player ‘feel’ as though they’re in command of, say, a roving tribe of gluttonous Ogors, or noble, armor-clad Stormcast.  For Beasts of Chaos, this modern iteration on their tome brings back one of the core features of their Fantasy days: A truly ambush-centric playstyle.  While the current battletome uses ambush tactics for Brayherd units, ambush was just a way to plant glass cannons like Bestigors, or summons, across the table.  In fact, the one ambush-focused subfaction, Darkwalkers, sold itself as such by allowing a greater diversity of units to emerge from ambush, while not especially benefiting those that already could.  A faction like Warhammer 40k’s Genestealer Cults comes to mind, when I think of a modern ‘guerilla tactic’ army, using similar wording to the BoC 3.0 announcement, ‘tricks’, ‘surround’, and of course, ‘ambush’.  Given all that I’ve touched on thus far in the article, I want to dedicate the following sections to predictions founded on the research I’ve done, and I feel many of my takes will be spot-on, come January 2023.

First off, I want to touch on what I believe are the most thoroughly-supported predictions:

Battletome 3.0: Beasts of Chaos will be, like the recent Lumineth Realmlords tome, focused more on flavor & consolidation of existing mechanics, and will power-down the faction on the whole.

This take comes off of the heels of Games Workshops’ recent FAQs, which nerfed various aspects of BoC’s summoning and unit-spam power, and given the data they’re publishing almost universally has BoC as a top-5 army, whether it’s deserved or not, I expect this next tome to be about flavor, and ease of rules (given our faction currently needs 2-3 books and a magazine to function).

Battletome 3.0: Beasts of Chaos will reduce the specificity of buffs, and remove or consolidate the army’s many re-roll-centric rules.

This should come as no surprise to anyone who’s seen their army’s re-roll abilities disappear in a 3.0 battletome; game designers have been shaving off ways to elongate the combat sequence, and nixing re-rolls is a huge part of AoS 3.0’s design ethos.  Silently, however, they also removed the ‘Brayherd’ tag from the new Beastlord’s Hatred of Heroes ability, consolidating the bonus from his Grisly Trophy ability.  The +1 used to only be for Brayherd, and the fact that he can benefit any of the herd means many other Leader abilities may get similar treatment.

Battletome 3.0: Beasts of Chaos will remove or rework the Darkwalker subfaction, and re-introduce ways to play ‘Marked’ Beastmen.

On a similar note to the last point, because this battletome is going to be evidently ambush-focused, the premier ‘ambush subfaction’ might go the way of the dodo, split between the faction’s existing rules, or instead, receive a rework.  Another much-beloved part of BoC is also almost certainly coming back, being the ability to dedicate ones’ army to a Chaos God; this fan-favorite ruleset became illegal in tournaments following the sunsetting of Warscroll Battalions, and it’s a sure bet to see it return in 2023.  Lastly, because all ‘normal’ battletomes have been upped to 6 subfactions, it’s convenient that keeping Allherd & Gavespawn, and adding one new subfaction for each Mark, could round us out to that number.

And now, I want to present a few more out-there theories, given the trend of 3.0 tomes:

Battletome 3.0: Beasts of Chaos will see ways to benefit the Monsters of Chaos, which have been until now a mere oddity within the army.

While I’ve mentioned the three main subgroups within BoC, the fourth is something of a stepchild, feeling like a last-minute addition to the 2.0 tome.  Unlike the other subgroups, Monsters of Chaos lacks any universal rules, despite being a popular way to play the army, with beloved lists like Cockatrice-spam and Chimeras being mainstays among tournament players.  Thus, I hope Games Workshop remedies this in the upcoming battletome.

    Battletome 3.0: Beasts of Chaos will have its summoning greatly diminished, if it is not the focus of your specific force (via Allherd). 

      Summoning in 3.0 has overall taken a backseat, which has left summon-heavy armies like BoC from 2.0 to pick up the slack, and see tournament-topping results as a consequence.  Therefore, much like Tzeentch, unless your subfaction is dedicated to supplementing your force with summons, I have a hunch that this will be one of the primary ways BoC is powered-down in 3.0.

      Battletome 3.0: Beasts of Chaos will, for the first time ever, allow Slaangors to be a legal unit choice.

      The odyssey of Slaangor Fiendbloods is something of a legend among BoC players, and within the community it serves as a reminder of our place as a relatively-forgotten force in AoS.  While we’ve always been able to use Tzaangor units, Slaangors were never legal for us on launch, and even after multiple FAQs, they weren’t merely illegal, they were also one of the weakest units for their points in the game.  This slight has been a niggling dig at goat players, myself included, and seeing the leather-clad crabgoats as an option to play would mean the world, even if they remain a bad unit.

      As you can likely tell, I am ecstatic to see Beasts of Chaos get a new book in 3.0, after a long stretch of being the oldest book in the system’s history.  Being paired alongside another relatively-bad army, in Gloomspite Gitz, for the Q1 2023 AoS releases is a blessing for all the players, and shows commitment to everyone who adores AoS (and might not play a popular or high-selling force).

      What predictions do you have for the BoC Battletome?  Do you think the army will resemble its 2.0 self, or undergo heavy reinvention for the new edition?  Is there a chance the army emerges more powerful than it is, even now?  Let me know any thoughts you have in the comments below!


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