Stray Goats: The Forgotten Beasts of Chaos
After the further downturn of our winrate, per various tracking sites like Woehammer & official ones like Warhammer’s Metawatch, I feel it important to address the black sheep in the army’s vast herds. The new Beasts of Chaos book which came to us earlier this year had, in its majority, whole-cloth warscroll rewrites; this proved extremely potent for some units, while others were outright abandoned. One sentiment I hear very often about the army is that the points need to be lowered. While it’s true that we pay an exorbitant points tax for our universal ambush, that’s not to say decreases across the board would make the army healthier — far from it. As we saw at the tail-end of 2.0, the ‘race to the bottom’ points-wise was a net negative for the faction’s outlook & polarization, even if the winrate was inflated as a result. So now, let’s take a gander at the lost & forgotten, and see what might be done to fix these floundering foals.
Via Games Workshop
Category One is what I’d describe as units that simply do need a point decrease, for one reason or another. I feel the Thunderscorn, being Dragon Ogors & the Shaggoth, fall into this category. They lost their unique Hero Phase movement in the transition between books, which took away a good bit of their identity, although their streamlining wasn’t all for naught. Dragon Ogors have seen play in MSUs in some early topping lists, although the falloff was bleak. These units are ones Games Workshop, I feel, is reluctant to undercost; the apocalyptic Drogor Meta of Bounty Hunter season is reason enough to understand this trepidation. The Shaggoth, though, is particularly egregious. Being a somewhat-tanky Wizard, the most beefy Hero in the book, the Shaggoth should cost a decent amount, yet the actual price tag for a single cast Wizard is unexplainably high. In truth, I chalk it up to his ability to make Dragon Ogors Battleline, something they’re not keen to enable easily.
Next up is my favorite unit from the old book: Centigor. Centigor have always been an extremely mobile, cheap, and shockingly tanky unit for their cost, and this efficiency has now been traded for an elite, objective-control focus. I quite honestly love this change, and between their ability to shrug chip damage, throw spears, and multiply its output in a close game, this is a unit I’d love to play on the tabletop. It’s unfortunate, however, that 10W/4+ is priced at 170 points; this might make more sense if the shrug also worked at-range, but currently there’s not a niche for this unit, and maybe a 20pt discount could get the discussion going.
The Tuskgor Chariot is the last unit I’d definitely place in this category, though it’s only debatably a member. This is a swiss-army-knife unit, being able to deal mortals, eat Unleash Hells, and toss out an array of middling-to-solid attacks for an affordable cost. The issue mostly comes down to its comparison with things like Tzaangor Enlightened on Foot, or Morghurite Chaos Spawn; for a smattering of attacks and some ensured damage, you’re just barely overpaying for the body. Even moreso, Gors outcompete this model in a lot of ways, although that’s an issue largely served by something Centigors & Chariots have in common. Each of these units overpays for speed, in a book with universal ambush.
Unlike last battletome, speed is less valuable per point for units across the board, and if you absolutely needed it, the Slakefray Reveller is a solid Command Trait to make up for the deficit of taking largely slower models. Our models are much too vulnerable, especially for their cost, to simply sit onboard Turn 1 and potentially get shot off without any trading. Therefore, essentially every unit aimed at being fast not only overpays for ambush, they’re also being taxed for their movement characteristics.
Via Warhammer Community
Next up are models whose warscrolls put them in the unfortunate position of not doing…well, much of anything. These are Category Two, the inelastic wash-ups who’d have a hard time finding a healthy point cost, period. To briefly explain what I mean, Age of Sigmar has a general trend of what you can minimally pay for a given body, regardless of what it does. 2W/4+ infantry can only be so cheap before they’re undercosted, and can be spammed, so even if the rules suck, you simply can’t place them below a certain threshold.
Per that analysis, Bestigor are perhaps the most frustrating warscroll in the book: They’re built to punish commands, when we’re rife with command denial. There’s simply no reason to eat an Unleash Hell with your Bestigors when you could do so with an errant Morghurite Spawn, or similar chaff, and getting +1 to Wound doesn’t mathematically equal an All-Out Defense, so why not simply prevent it in the first place via Tzaangor Enlightened? The worst part is that, due to the 5+ Rally, +1 to Charge, and solid statline all around, it’s very difficult to think of a cost that would be good without being too efficient compared to their contemporaries.
By that same notion, the Chimera lost out on arguably its defining feature: Charge consistency. Finally, in an edition where it can pop onto the board edge, spew flame, and get in, they decided to remove its +2 to Charge Rolls, placing the model in a tricky situation. If you ever fail a charge, this unit is dead — 12W/5+ is exceptionally easy to chew through even before you hit combat — but getting in means you’re allowed a barrage of brutal, versatile attacks. For its cost, the Chimera is close to viability, but the polarization as to whether you make or fail your charges is forever a problem in units without that guarantee, like Bestial Cunning Bullgors, or rerolls via the Krondspine.
Finally, there’s the Chaos Gargant, which was expected to be extremely solid before the book actually dropped, instead falling by the wayside. In truth, this comes down to its need to be ‘babysat’ by a Hero; when the Gargant is by a hero, it’s the most efficient Monster in our book by far, and acts as a mini-Herdstone on top of that, but without a guiding hand, 150pts skews a bit too high. That said, if this went down more than 20pts, we’d see a ton of them, I wager. It’s close, but between the need for a nearby melee Hero, and our lack of a cheap, all-rounder unit that fits that bill, it’s not good enough.
Finally, there’s the garbage bin, which I say in the saddest way one can muster. Like every battletome, there’s some units which simply don’t make it, and feel left-over, forgotten, or otherwise aimless. In brief, this is Category Three, the Jabberslythes, Chaos Spawn (Not Morghurite, mind you), Razorgors, and now the Cockatrice. Each model was either robbed of its role or hasn’t ever been good, so let’s do a run-down.
First off, there’s never been a point in Age of Sigmar’s lifespan when you were happy to play a Jabber or Razorgor in your list. Each attempt to fill a role Games Workshop hasn’t ever gotten right, from a damage-reflecting sponge, to a weird synergy piece with Ungor. The Razorgor is certainly a flavor win now, and there’s better conversion bases than ever with the new Ironjawz, but why would you? Anything it does, a Chariot does better, and that’s already a fringe unit. The Jabberslythe, meanwhile, negatively impacts a list by existing within it, made as a trade piece, but one that cannot trade-up, like Tzaangor Enlightened.
Chaos Spawn used to have a role in the army within Gavespawn, as you needed some for the expected Hero transformation gimmick that subfaction provided. Many people miss that effect dearly, and while it’s lucky our Spawn now work incredibly well as Morghurites, the actual Spawn warscroll is a conundrum. Why does it exist, if not only because it must?
The Cockatrice similarly took a fall from grace, being an outright amazing model with the old Monstrous Rampage, then a solid model when you could double-up its effects in a crucial melee, but now it’s a ludicrously squishy (I mean paper-thin) tech piece that’s essentially an overcosted coinflip. If you wanted to chance a key combat on the charge, why not simply do it with Gors, now, who even have a greater chance to resolve in your favor?
Via Warhammer Community
All in all, it’s a weird spot to be in, for Beasts of Chaos as a playerbase. Many feel spurned by the fact that our best trade piece is explicitly a Tzaangor unit (In Enlightened on Foot), that so many weird offshoots outcompete the classic kits like Bestigors. I feel there’s a hint of hope on the horizon though, especially given the recent changes in the latest Battlescroll Update. Games Workshop finally took some factions (like Idoneth Deepkin) and added or changed rules on their models, not just points. Skaven saw their iconic Bell/Furnace lose its downside, and Sharks got even better for the sea aelves. This is great news for those clamoring to see more diversity in BoC rosters, but even so, there’s perhaps tech in the book already that’s gone unexplored. The Krondspine-Rupture combo I covered was nipped in the bud, but what else may exist? It’s up to us, the loyal herd, to figure that out.
Until then though, that’s a wrap on a few of BoC’s most curious units! It’s been a blast to go over niche picks within our tome, and I feel the army’s a perfect size to have both mainstays, while being deep enough for pocket-picks as well. Unlike Stormcast or the like, there’s not so many units that it’s impossible to cover them all. Let me know any thoughts you have in the comments below, or anything you’d want me to talk about in the next article!