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Army-Specific Tactics - Beastmen


Staff member
True Blood
Nov 26, 2008

This thread is for archiving the various tips, builds and strategies that can be of use when fighting the Beastmen. This first post will periodically be updated to include the input that has been given in the thread. The categorization is the same as with the earlier threads,

Effective Tactics / Units to Use

Tactics / Units Not Recommended to Use

Enemy Items / Units / Tactics to Watch Out For

:siren:Note that this is not the place for in-depth discussion in regards to the advice that is shared. If you wish to debate on any specific topic, you're free to start up an independent thread in the main section of The Teachings of Abhorash instead.:siren:

Thank you. :)


Vampire Count
True Blood
Jan 26, 2012
All right, guys, this section hasn't been updated in forever, and there's not really much being said here. So I'll put my experience piloting the army at your disposal, as Beastmen is my primary army.

Army-Specific Tactics - Beastmen

I. What does a Beastmen army look like?

In order to describe the tactics to employ against a typical Beastmen list, we must first describe what a typical Beastmen list is. In this army's case, there are two main flavors of Beastmen list, commonly referred to as "Herdstone + Hordes" and the "Minobus".

The Herdstone + Hordes list is pretty much what it says on the cover - a Horde of Gors with additional hand weapons, a Horde of Bestigors (who have Great Weapons), and a nasty little item called the Shard of the Herdstone, which places a terrain feature that gives them an extra power dice for every Wizard within 6". This is obviously accompanied by a posse of L1 Wizards, typically using Lore of Shadows for its signature spell (Melkoth's Mystifying Miasma). The list is then rounded off with an assortment of chaff units (Chariots, Harpies, Razorgors, Ungor Raiders), or a tarpit unit of Ungors. Characters tend to vary a bit, but the staple ones are a Beastlord (in the Bestigors), a Great Bray-Shaman (in the Gors), and a Wargor BSB (in the Gors).

The Minobus is a whole different animal - as the name implies, it's centered around a unit of Minotaurs. The way the setup typically goes is that the front rank of this unit will be composed of Minotaur characters, which will be beefed up to the gills and extremely difficult to kill, with the Minotaurs providing support in the form of static combat resolution, ranks to break Steadfast, and bodies to absorb shooting. This is complemented by a couple of big units that are mostly around to take punishment, and the above mentioned chaff. You won't see the Herdstone here too often (too expensive).

II. What are the strengths of a Beastmen army?

All right, we've looked at what the Beastmen lists look like; now we'll talk about what they're good at, separated by the particular list. But first, we'll talk about the common factor that they share, which is the following:

1. Hitting hard. Consider that the BSB in a Herdstone + Hordes army will be carrying a banner that gives the entire Gor unit he's in +1 Strength (so they swing at S4 base), that Bestigors have S4 and Great Weapons (similar to Grave Guard, but with +1 WS), and that even their chaff units have punch (Chariots with S5 Impact Hits, Razorgors are S5 and S6 on the charge, even Harpies have 2 I5 attacks per model), and you can see that this army has plenty to boast about on offense. The Minobus may not have the Hordes or the re-rolls to hit, but it does have a unit of Minotaurs swinging at S5, a Doombull at S6 with the ability to hit back every time he makes an armor save, and the aforementioned chaff. This is the one thing you can rely on when facing a well-built Beastmen list.

The Herdstone + Hordes list is good at the following things:

1. Generating insane amounts of power dice. Not only do they get +1 PD for every Wizard within 6", but they also can have their Shaman suit up with the Lore of Beasts and a nasty little item called the Jagged Dagger, which lets them use their kills for extra dice (think Shang Tsung from Mortal Kombat). If he doesn't go that route, chances are he's taking full advantage of the Life Leeching Lore Attribute from Lore of Death and lobbing snipes and Purple Sun at you. Either way, they start out with a large dice pool, and have the ability to refill it as they go, which makes for a terrifying Magic phase.

2. Spitting out tons of re-rollable attacks at a high Strength. The Beastmen special ability (Primal Fury) gives them access to a souped-up version of Hatred, provided they keep passing Ld tests. This combined with character support and Horde formation means that every Beastmen fighting unit will be throwing bucketfuls of dice at you in combat.

The Minobus shares in the hard-hitting potential of the Herdstone + Hordes list (having Minotaurs at S5 base and a Doombull at S6 will do that for you), but it has a distinct set of strengths, which are as follows:

1. Hard to get points out of. An underrated aspect of having a deathstar-style unit such as the Minobus is that it's mighty tough to get points out of anything else in the army, simply because the rest of the army doesn't cost that much. Then there's the fact that you have to allocate attacks against the individual characters, which really limits the damage you can do to any one of them, or to the Minotaurs behind them.

2. Great combo-charging ability. The worst part about the Minobus is that if the Beastmen player has his way, you'll rarely face it alone - its smallish frontage allows them to sneak in Chariots, Razorgors, Gor blocks, and other complementary units to help ensure the enemy breaks and is run down.

III. What are the weaknesses of a Beastmen army?

Of course, a Beastmen army has its fair share of weaknesses. Let's start with the army-wide ones:

1. Average to below-average Leadership values, outside of characters. The curious thing about Beastmen is that it's an army that does really well when it has a strong Leadership value… and most of the units don't have it. Ld6 and Ld7 is pretty common in this army, which is problematic when you consider that they are subject to a lot of tests regarding that attribute.

2. Lack of armor. As can be accurately surmised from one look at their model range, Beastmen don't really carry much in the way of armor. When the best save outside of a character model is a 4+, you know you have armor issues.

3. Several overpriced units. As cool as Minotaurs are, it takes only one look at an Ogre Kingdoms Maneater to show that they're not accurately priced, and the same is true of large portions of the army. Even the rock-solid Gors with AHW's just aren't all that great minus the Beast Banner, and most Beastmen players will tell you that for competitive purposes the Rare section of the book may as well not exist. Even the characters aren't immune to this phenomenon - the base prices for Gorebulls and Wargors are over the top.

Now, we'll dig into build-specific weaknesses, starting with Herdstone + Hordes:

1. Vulnerable to backfield infiltration. Needless to say, having a bunch of character models prancing around in their back line means that they will cough up an awful lot of points if someone gets to them. They can hang back some chaff unit to cover them for a bit, but this is still a major sore spot in this build.

2. Reliant on the Magic phase. Hanging your hat on the least consistent phase in the game means you'll have good days and bad days, simple as that. While the Herdstone + Hordes Magic phase is one of the best in the game because it takes some of the randomness out of the Winds of Magic roll and relies on casting lots of spells on few dice instead of 6-dicing stuff through, it only takes one Dimensional Cascade or a couple of Feedback results to ruin their day.

Now, we'll talk about the Minobus' weaknesses:

1. No comeback potential. If you wipe the bus by whatever means, the game is over. Simple as that. They cannot recover from the loss of this unit. That means it's got a big target on its back, and should be targeted with everything you have to throw at it.

2. The bread and butter unit is Frenzied. While Bloodgreed is great for the purposes of having your unit smash face in combat, Frenzy can come back to bite its user in a number of ways, and there's no real avoiding it for this army list.

IV. How does a Vampire Counts army go about attacking the weaknesses of a Beastmen army, while minimizing its strengths?

Now we reach the crux of the argument - how can we use the information I described above to a VC player's advantage. Allow me to provide some general tactics on how to counter Beastmen:

1. Pick at their characters. Most Beastmen lists depend heavily on their characters, and VC is one of the armies that is better suited to getting rid of said characters. Lone characters should be very afraid of the Terrorgheist, and even ones in units will be wary of a Spirit Leech sent their way by a caster in a unit containing a Vampire Lord. There's also the option of blending them to death with said Lord. Either way, if you get rid of key characters like the Wargor BSB, your chance of success rises dramatically.

2. Spook them off. Beastmen are rather infamous for their shaky Ld values, so running something that causes Fear (or better yet, Terror) into their chaff units and anything outside Inspiring Presence range tends to bother them. At worst, you force a test he'll find a bit hard to pass. It's also a solid idea to try and Leadership-bomb them, given that they depend on the stat for their combat prowess even more than most.

3. Use Ethereals. Beastmen don't have much in the way of magical attacks (a handful of direct damage/magic missile spells and magic weapons is literally all there is), so the humble Spirit Host base actually gives them a world of issues. Put that base in front of whatever chaff unit you want taken out of the game for the foreseeable future, stand back, and watch it work. This is also one of the armies Hexwraiths can be rather useful against, as S5 swings are the caliber of attack required to put a dent in stuff like Chariots and Razorgors.

Now, let's move on to build-specific advice, starting with Herdstone + Hordes:

1. Scatter the Herdstone posse. Note that this doesn't necessarily mean you've failed if you didn't kill them - getting them far enough from the rock such that they don't generate power dice is a perfectly acceptable outcome, and it's a heck of a lot easier to do. I suggest employing Screamers for this purpose if at all possible, as even a Banshee is very likely to make a Bray-Shaman pop in one go.

2. The BSB must die. Every non-Undead army relies on its BSB, but the importance is magnified for Beastmen, where this character drives the transformation of Gors from solid-but-unexceptional troops into formidable fighters capable of handling many things on their own and even more with the aid of their magic engine. As such, he should be priority 1 for any ranged attacks you possess, especially sniper spells (he doesn't have a Ward save). I recommend a Necromancer or two with Spirit Leech to be in the same unit as a Vampire Lord for this purpose, though in case of a true emergency you could potentially direct the big guy's attacks against the BSB (I'd advise trimming the usually-large numbers of the Gor Horde first, but sometimes axing the BSB is the only true option).

Now, let's handle some Minobus specific advice:

1. Bait and smash. Chances are a VC list will have enough chaff to win out on both deployment drops and in their head-to-head matchups with the Minobus chaff. If you can do that, it shouldn't be too hard to make the Minobus go where you want or not go anywhere at all, and even that kind of unit doesn't take too kindly to getting flanked. For this purpose, Spirit Hosts, Dire Wolves, and minimum-sized units of Zombies all do a heck of a job, as can Fell Bats and Screamers to pop the chaff.

2. Pick on the ranked units. While the Minobus is quite formidable in combat, the army list does need to fill out minimum Core with much less dangerous infantry units, both for points allowance purposes and because it's awful hard to break Steadfast without ranks (which they provide). While they're usually not worth that many points, they can give you enough to dredge up a minor victory provided you can pop enough chaff, which is a good option for an army that just doesn't have the Vampire build you need to take that Minobus on. To do this, most units in the army will suffice, but Ghouls and especially Crypt Horrors excel at it - Poison and high Toughness do not treat Gors kindly.

So that's what I have so far. I'll add more if I think of it later.