Warhammer - Age of Sigmar Meta Insights: Beasts of Chaos Part 1

Carter Kachmarik
March 07, 2023


We’ve had just over a month since the release of Battletome: Beasts of Chaos, which came out alongside Battletome: Gloomspite Gitz this year, and there’s plenty of games being played with the brand-new rules.  More than most factions, the Beasts needed quite a few full rewrites in this new tome to bring them up to the Age of Sigmar 3.0 standard, and Games Workshop delivered.  While not everything is perfect, from my experience playing over a dozen games with my teammates in preparation for upcoming tournaments, the minutiae that goes alongside AoS’s new winner for ‘most punishing army’ is something that new players might have trouble picking up.  That’s why, this week, I want to start a deep dive into what’s been working at the tournament level for Beasts, and how you might shape your own lists as the meta progresses.  This article is going to cover the fundamentals, BoC 101, with further articles going into actual lists, and gameplay strategies.

Via Games Workshop

As a bit of background, I began playing BoC mid-2.0., attending & placing in my first GTs at the advent of 3.0.  In preparing for this article, I’ve spoken with army experts with similar credentials, and we’ve crafted & tested lists based on available data & the math surrounding damage/survivability per point.  All that’s to say, I want to position this article as something for the individual looking to get better with the faction, and optimize what can be described as AoS’s ‘Genestealer Cult’ equivalent.

Beasts of Chaos has a few core tenants given the new book that I feel are helpful to outline as we dive deeper into army construction & play.  There’s some vital considerations when it comes to crafting a good, well-rounded army, and they’re not necessarily the same as other factions, so it’s of special note. 

1. Identify your charge consistency.  Beasts are the premier positioning army in Age of Sigmar, due to their ability to ‘null drop’ turn 1 (placing 0, or essentially 0, units on the board), placing units as ‘answers’ to opposing strategies as the game goes on.  While we have a native +1” charge bonus the turn we deploy, that’s not always enough; you’re going to want to have means of ensuring your charges hit that magic 9. 

2. Know whether you intend to contest, or cede, first turn.  This is a bit of a universal rule for AoS, but in the case of BoC, it’s far more of a genuine question: Given we can essentially ‘blank’ turn 1 with a null drop, and the Vanguard Battalion provides charge consistency, there’s a real argument for going far beyond 1-Drop.  Finally,

3. Take a Krondspine Incarnate, and have a plan regarding its Wild State.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a non-faction model so obviously designed to synergize with a book as the Krondspine is with modern BoC.  It does everything we want (more on that later), and knowing how best to utilize it is paramount.

If you can settle on where your army should lie, in terms of those 3 commandments, you’re well ahead of most players in terms of knowing Beasts to a competitive degree.

Ensuring you hit your charges is vital to BoC, as the army loses most of its games from whiffing charges, or worse still, charging their ‘missile’ units improperly.  Charge Consistency comes from a variety of places, however, and each has their own merit in terms of army building.  First off, you have the most obvious, the Bloodthirsty triumph: This is a simple, universal once-per-game charge reroll that helps 1-Drop lists land their devastating hits.  Like any triumph, Bloodthirsty asks you to be down on pts versus your opponent, and usually 1950 is a good margin to ensure that, essentially spending 50pts on a universal charge reroll.  Your next option is the Vanguard battalion, which forces you into multiple drops, and can be taken multiple times.  This battalion gives you a free use of Forward to Victory, another charge reroll, however this one is once-per-phase, unlike Bloodthirsty.  While much easier to take, and allows you to hit a clean 2k, this of course means you’re not 1-Drop, and that leads into numerous other list choices.  Next are the options that don’t necessarily exist as mutually exclusive takes: The Doombull has a fantastic Command Ability that allows for a charge in the Combat Phase, the Krondspine Incarnate assists in charges hitting, and the Command Trait Beastial Cunning makes your most important charge base 7” away, rather than 9”.  That said, every bit of this section is dependent on your missile choice(s), so let’s focus on that now. 

The next choice will be, more than anything, what pushes you towards a given army list than any other single aspect of Beasts of Chaos’ roster: Slaangor, or Bullgor?  These are the aforementioned ‘missile’ units, units you’re taking in blobs of 6, sending at the most important flank your opponent has, and tearing them apart the turn either option emerges from ambush.  The math very much agrees that these two units form the most efficient, lethal component of our toolbelt, as an army, though they differ in key ways.  Tzaangor Enlightened on Disk, the darlings of our prior book, are objectively less efficient than Slaangor, and Dragon Ogors, in a tremendous fall from grace, are worse in every way when compared to Bullgors (or really, any prior-listed option).  You’re going to be taking either Slaans and/or Bulls, when you build for a tournament, so let’s dive into the conversation.

First is their respective point cost, with 6 Slaangor coming in at 260, and 6 Bullgor coming in at 390.  For their pts, you’re getting more survivability from Slaangor, assuming the correct choice of weapon (Dual Axes) on Bullgor, but putting more eggs into one basket is something 1-Drops natively want to do, regardless.  Still though, 24 wounds at 5+ save will melt in the face of most opposition, which makes Bulls far more costly once the ‘missile’ explodes.  Next is their damage, which per pt is roughly the same, however Bulls deal a significant portion of this damage in Mortal Wounds, additionally as well via their hammer of wrath, causing them to be far better against units with high armor.  That said, Slaangor have one last trick up their sleeve: They are the best models to receive buffs in the entire book, up there with the Chaos Gargant, being able to two-tap once per battle, shredding anything in front of them.

To summarize, Bullgors are a greater investment, but more self-reliant, and ultimately deal more damage into anything with a 3+ save or higher while alone.  Slaangor, on the other hand, are more disposable, and while less powerful on their own, can be built around to emerge as one of this army’s most lethal threats (Namely, via the synergies between Slaangor, Beastlord, and the Skullfray CT).  This should be obvious by now, but those pros & cons neatly separate Slaans & Bulls between multi-drop and 1-Drop lists, respectively.  That said, in the next article, one of the lists I’ll be going over uses both to great effect, so just know it’s not necessarily an either-or.

Finally, we need to touch on the Krondspine Incarnate, a model that any tournament grinder knows well, and most players tend to loathe.  Every single component of the model’s rules synergizes with Beasts, to the extent I’d consider it a genuine must-take, and I feel it deserves elaboration despite not itself being in our book.  Given every single Beasts player is going to essentially Null Drop turn 1, we’re often at risk of scoring fewer than max points in the initial battle round; this can snowball into later rounds being far more close shaves than they ought to be, and generally it’s a bad policy to plan on potentially hitting fewer than 4VP turn 1.  The Krondspine of course alleviates that, being literally impossible to kill in a single turn, massive, and able to handle the midboard on its own to contest objectives and help us score, at minimum, hold 1, hold 2, and BT (often Desecrate their Lands).  The Krondspine also presents our opponent with a Catch-22: They either need to stick models in the midboard and get tarpitted by the Krondspine, or stick to the flanks, and present clean charges for our ambushed units.  There’s no win, and combined with Blood Taunt, one of our Rituals of Ruin, we can disrupt auras & castles with extreme consistency.  The Krondspine also debuffs opposing magic users, and helps us land charges, but there’s one last point I need to touch on: The Wild Form.  When the model the Incarnate is bound to dies, the Krond gets a huge slate of buffs, as well as being less controllable, making it a liability in the midboard.  Most armies have issues provoking this form early-on without the opponent’s mistaken help, but BoC can very cleanly kill the bound model (often a Great-Bray Shaman, or GBS) by turn 1, 2, or without fail by turn 3.  Each of our Hero Phases allows us to use a Ritual of Ruin on each onboard hero, and 1 offboard hero, in turn inflicting d3 MW to the user.  Normally this gets passed-off, or healed, but to our Bound hero, we’re actually hitting them with their own, and other heroes’ own, Ritual damage.  With a meager 5 wounds (or 6, for a TzShaman), 2d3 kills that model just over 80% of the time, with 3d3 being nearly assured.  If the gamestate favors it, Wild Form is attainable with absurd ease for a Beast player, and learning if & when to employ such a ‘Turbowild’ strategy is paramount.

Via Warhammer Community

While the next article is going to look into individual lists, and key units, I want to lay out a few vital model choices that exist within BoC, as to provide background information.  Gors saw a tremendous facelift from the last book, and with MSUs (Multiple Small Units) you can readily apply fights-last to heroes, monsters, and elite infantry.  Chaos Gargants are absurdly efficient monsters, and work well in multi-drop lists centered around putting heroes into the fray.  Ungors with Spears are also fantastic, being a cheap poke-heavy Battleline that can be shockingly sticky alongside the Allherd subfaction (the best one).  And finally, Chariots are the premier choice for Unleash-Hell eating, able to always make back their pts through poke, MWs, and suicide charges.  The next article is going to place most of these units front-and-center, but the good news is that, barring units like Bestigors & Dragon Ogors, our book is chock-full of playable options.  While some might shine brighter than the rest, especially with specific Command Traits or Relics, such as the ‘Helmbull’, a good skeleton of units can allow for flex slots dependent on your local or expected meta.

I am sincerely excited to be able to discuss all the innovations surrounding Beasts in the new edition, and I hope to increase the knowledge base for goat-lovers the world round!  What specifically do you want me to cover in the next part?  I wasn’t able to touch on everything here, so expect even more insight as we continue this series!  Let me know any thoughts you have in the comments below!


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