New Beasts of Chaos Battletome Review (2023) – Warhammer Age of Sigmar 3rd Edition
The realms tremble with bestial fury. Ever since The Everqueen unleashed her spell upon The Oak of Ages Past, a surge of life magic has surged over the realms having some unexpected side effects. In Ghur, amberstone has coalesced into Incarnates, and these have in turn radiated an aura of savagery. Of all the creatures of The Mortal Realms, it is the Beasts of Chaos that have heard this call the greatest – desecrating the lands and ambushing forces unawares as they surround the foe with surprising skill. Rumours even circulate that mortals are even undergoing horrific changes, with entire outposts being transformed into new herds of these vicious creatures. As war spreads across the realms, the Children of Chaos are ready to make the charge.
In Chaos Battletome Beasts of Chaos, up for pre order today, we have the brand new rules for the 3rd edition of Warhammer Age of Sigmar! In this review we will be checking out the new abilities, taking a look at what has changed and seeing how the units will perform on the tabletop.
Massive thanks to Games Workshop for sending us a free review copy ahead of launch to check out. If you would like to support the site then why not order your Beasts of Chaos from our affiliate Element Games and save yourself some money too?
We will also be following up with a full video taking a look at the new book too – so stay tuned to YouTube for that!
But let’s venture into the wilds as we take a look at the new Beasts of Chaos Battletome…
Chaos Battletome: Beasts of Chaos Review
I think it’s safe to say that the previous White Dwarf updates helped Beasts of Chaos a lot and have propelled them into being a formidable force on the tabletop since that was published. Until the White Dwarf update, the Beasts of Chaos had stuggled due to having a much older Battletome that couldn’t quite keep up the pace with the newer books – however since the update handing out considerable rend bonuses, the beasts have been pretty scary!
So what has changed in the new Battletome and what does it mean for our army?
Well first off the bat, quite a few things are mechanically different for how the army plays. Primordial Call is no more, and outside of a one use enhancement there is no way of summoning new units to the battlefield. This is a pretty big change, and will have an impact on how people build their lists, as currently players will be constructing their lists around doing blood rituals to summon more units.
Instead, the ambushing mechanic has been reworked into “Beastherd Ambrush”. This rule allows you to deploy any Beasts of Chaos off the board at the start of the game, and bring them within 9″ of a board edge and more than 9″ from enemy units in either turn 1 or 2 – units deployed in this way also get a +1 to charge bonus making it more likely they will get those above average charge rolls off. There’s two cool things here – firstly, it means that you can put any unit in the book in reserve, not just Brayherd like in the previous tome. Want a big unit of Dragon Ogors to pop up on the opponent’s backfield? Sure, deploy them on the back board edge turn 1! The other really cool thing here is the fact that if you want to you can deploy your entire army off the board – you do not have to deploy a single unit if you don’t want to, making your opponent have to make some careful moves in the first few turns in order to not get surrounded. Though I would advise a little caution, as quick armies may be able to move in such a way that makes it difficult for you to deploy your units!
Due to the fact that your general may start the game off the table the Beasts of Chaos have a special rule that allows you to receive command points while he is off the board.
Rituals of Ruin is a powerful new ability that allows EVERY Beasts of Chaos hero on the table to do 1 of 4 unique heroic actions in addition to your usual heroic action. With the current series allowing a hero to do 2 heroic actions, this results in a lot of cool stuff happening within the hero phase. There is a cost to this however, with each hero doing so taking D3 mortal wounds. In addition, a single hero that is ambushing can also perform one (However they also take D3 mortal wounds for doing so) – in order to resolve this they pick a point on the board edge to represent where they are and measure from that point. All of these are really good picks, so I can see most players aiming to have multiple characters in order to maximise the effectiveness of this rule.
Warping Curse – Causes D6 mortal wounds to a target unit within 12″. Don’t forget you can use this on a unit off the board and pick a point on the opponents deployment edge to potentially hit a rival hero and get around the limitations to shooting characters in this season!
Blood Taunt – this forces an enemy unit within 12″ to move 2D6 inches towards the hero, and they have to get as close as possible to them and outside of 3″ of all other enemy units. This is brilliant and can be used to pull units out of position, or even force the opponent off an objective completely!
Brand of Wild Fury is a 12″ bubble granting a 6+ ward save to all Beasts of Chaos wholly within the range
Alphabeast Instinct gives a target friendly unit immunity to Battleshock.
The fact that you can do each of these every turn is amazing and will make Beasts of Chaos a really dangerous army to face, especially as you can do your standard Heroic Action on top of these too! You do have to be careful with the Mortal Wounds caused to your units, but there’s lots of sneaky stuff that can really impact your foe.
We get 6 Command Traits rather than the 18 in the previous book, but there are some good picks here –
Bestial Cunning allows you to deploy a single ambushing unit anywhere on the battlefield outside of 7″ of the enemy (And don’t forget your ambushers get +1 to charge making this rather scary!)
Propogator of Ruin allows your hero to make a second Ritual of Ruin a turn, and not suffer mortal wounds for doing so which is really nice for daisy chaining some of these abilities – for example you could give everything within 12″ a ward save, then drag a unit 2D6 inches towards you to put them within range of another hero to do D6 mortal wounds to them, and have that hero benefit from the ward save to mitigate the damage from performing the ritual.
Skullfray Gorehorn is a really nice ability that gives all Brayherd within 12″ +1 attack as long as the hero is within 3″ of the enemy. This is awesome when used in conjunction with a fully buffered up unit of Beastigor for example.
Twistfray Cursebeast is a caster flavoured enhancement that adds the number of the battle round to casting attempts
Rotfray Plaguepelt dishes out D3 mortal wounds to units within 3″ at the start of the combat phase on a 2+
Slakefrey Reveler is an interesting one that gives all Beasts of Chaos within 6″ of a terrain feature +3 to their movement – not that this is NOT wholly within, so lots of potential for having a model or two skirting near enough to terrain in order to have this whenever you need it.
Like with Command Traits, the Artifacts have also reduced from 18 down to 6 and we have some interesting stuff:
Slitherwack Helm makes your hero give Strikes Last to a charged enemy unit on a 2+
Brayblast Trumpet is our only source of summoning in the new book, and I don’t think its the greatest – Once per game you can summon a unit of 10 Gors, Ungors or Ungor Raiders – on a 2+ you can place them at the end of the movement phase, but on a 1 you can’t deploy them until the following movement phase – making this a little unreliable
The Knowing Eye does different abilities depending on if you go first or second in a turn – if you go first you get a command point, but if you go second you get a free 6″ move in the hero phase
The Axe of Morghur is a nice weapon, as it ignore Ward Saves
The Bleating Gnarlstaff is sort ranged at 6″, but allows you to pick an objective or terrain piece and on a 2+ deal D3 Mortal Wounds to all non-Beasts of Chaos units within 6″ of it
Finally the Blackened Talisman allows the bearer to ignore the effects of spells, endless spells and incantations on a 4+
Finally we get 2 lores of spells
For the Lore of Twisted Wilds we see Viletide and Titanic Fury stay the same, but we get some changes to the other ones:
Vicious Stranglethorns now stops a target unit from piling in
Primal Dominance is going to be the bane of Mega-gargants as it makes monsters count as a single model for the purposes of objectives and also turns off Monstrous Rampages for them!
Tendrils of Atrophy now makes a target unit take +1 damage from any attacks
And Wild Rampage makes hits of 6 count as 2 sixes!
The last two spells in particular can be used to brutal effect with Bestigors
We also get 5 spells for the Lore of Dark Storms up from 3 in the previous book – Thunderwave and Hailstorm remain the same but we get some new ones too:
Fulgorious Blades makes enemy units attacking a targeted Beast of Chaos unit reduce their attacks by 1
Furious Gale is similar but reduces the attacks of missile weapons within 18″ by 1
Finally Raging Storm heals every Thunderscorn on the battlefield by 1 and causes 1 Mortal Wound to every enemy unit on the battlefield! Against low bravery armies this could force battleshock tests and also pick away at support heroes. The healing element is also a nice way of repairing up after the effects of Rituals of Ruin too!
We get 4 Greatfrays in the new book, and these are all very different to the old incarnations
Allherd – At the end of every battleshock phase 3+D3 models are returned to every unit of Gors, Ungors and Ungor Raiders. This is great if you have massed Gor units, and keeps your harassing ungor units topped up, but it’s a shame this does not regenerate Beastigors
Darkwalkers is a nice pick – it allows Gor, Ungor and Ungor units within 9″ of the edge of the battlefield at the end of your movement phase be redeployed anywhere else within 9″ of the edge of the battlefield (subject to the usual restrictions)
Gavespawn get access to a unique unit – Morghurite Chaos Spawns. These are better than usual Chaos spawns boasting a D6 shot damage 2 ranged attack, a fixed profile of 8 attacks, they hit and wound on 3s, can run and charge and reduce the attacks of anyone in combat with them by one! These are bought as a unique set of 3 individual units for a fixed cost of 230 points that also count as 3 battleline picks. In addition they also unlock regular spawns as battleline too!
Finally we have the Quakefray, this is the monster list that unlocks Cygors and Ghorgons as battleline and also makes every Cygor into a priest with a unique prayer that can be used to cause D3 Mortal Wounds to a target near an objective, and then also count as half as many models for the purposes of controlling it!
Like with all 3rd edition books, the Beasts of Chaos get unique Grand Strategies and Battle Tactics – however interestingly they do not have any Core Battalions
For Grand Strats we have:
Protect the Herdstone – At the end of the game there has to be no enemy units within 9 of the stone and it must not suffer any abilities that cause it to be destroyed or unusable
Desecrating Brayherd – This is a pretty achievable one that just requires you to be controlling 2 objectives with Brayherd units at the end of the game
Flanking Warherd is similar, but requires 2 Warherd units within 9 of the board edge
Finally Age of the Beast requires you to end the game with 2 Cygors or Ghorgons that have not suffered more than half their wounds.
Obviously these will depend on your army build, but with cheap units able to hop up where you need them to then I think the Brayherd one is probably the easiest to do.
As for Battle Tactics we have some pretty straight forward ones:
In The Shadow of the Herdstone requires you to kill a unit near your Herdstone
Bestial Wrath can only be done in the 1st or 2nd turn and is achieved if the general and 2 other units are within 3″ of the enemy
Reduced to Savagery needs a unit targeted by a Ritual of Ruin to be destroyed by the end of the turn – note that the ritual itself doesn’t need to destroy the unit, so you can tag it with one of those abilities then charge them with something to finish them off
Trampled to Mulch requires you to kill a unit via impact hits on the charge (Can be done with chariots and Bullgors)
Aid of the Wilderness is a pretty simple one just requiring two Beasts of Chaos units in terrain outside of your territory
Path To Glory
We do get a form of summoning mechanic in the Path To Glory section – after each battle your units can gather offerings from fallen foes and offer them to the herdstone to appease their gods. You get to roll a number of dice based on what you have killed, and for each 4+ you get to add 1 to this resource pool. This can then be used to add units to your Order of Battle without having to spend the glory points.
This is a cool way of keeping the theme of “summoning” units within the framework of Path to Glory without it having an impact within the battle itself.
We’re starting to see more fun stuff like this within Path To Glory, but I’d love to see more fleshed out narrative content here like some of the more involved elements seen in Crusade.
So let’s take a look at the units in the book and see what has changed!
Herdstone – So we had to start with the Herdstone as it was so integral to the success of Beasts of Chaos in the White Dwarf update! And yes, it does still improve rend of Beasts of Chaos, but it has been toned down a little. It now improves it by 1 from the second battleround and by 2 from the fourth battleround. It’s still very good, just slows down that rend ramp up that they previously got. It also no longer has the locus of savagery, with a better form of Rally being now added to banners of units instead (and on a 5+ not a 4+)
Een with these
Beastlord – We see some decent updates for this unit alongside the awesome new model. He has dropped to 5 attacks, but they now do 2 damage with any hits of 6 causing 2 Mortal Wounds. His Hated of Heroes has also been reworked – now while he is within 3″ of a hero, all Beasts of Chaos (including himself of course) get +1 to hit and wound! This is massive, making Bestigor into an absolute blender unit hitting and wounding on 2s! Best of all, he also is able to make a friendly Brayherd unit fight immediately after him, combo-ing him nicely with a large unit to hang out with him.
Games Workshop sent us the new Beastlord to paint up, and he is an awesome model! Can’t wait to add to his herd!
Great Bray-Shamen – This guy has changed quite a bit, and is no longer used to boost the movement of other units (As that now exists in the earlier mentioned enhancement that requires units to be near terrain). Instead, the Great Bray-Shamen now has an 18″ range on Ritual of Ruin abilities making them into somewhat disposable batteries to power these. His spell now is also used to halve moves, runs, retreats or charges on a target unit. I think a couple of these are still worth taking due to the excellent spells available and using as 18″ 6+ ward batteries. May be worth taking a ward save artifact or an emerald lifeswarm to keep them topped up.
Gors – As with a lot of other units these have changed somewhat, now having an extra attack on their profile rather than when they are in larger units. They also gain an additional attack for two hand weapons rather than getting a reroll – giving them 3 attacks each with double blades. They also hit a little harder too wounding on 3s (Which means a Beastlord can make them a pretty reliable 3 to hit and 2 to wound!) They also now make whoever they charge Strike Last on a 3+, which is pretty great as between this and the Beastlord making another unit fight immediately means you can fight with a lot of your units before the opponent swings. All of the Brayherd units also rally on a 5+ if they have a banner!
Bestigors – These guys finally get 2 wounds each making them more survivable, and now hit on 3s with a range of 2″ making them a lot better in combat. Like the Gors they rally on a 5+ and have some nice new tricks, gaining 1 attack if the enemy uses All Out Defense and it is -1 to wound them from Unleash Hell, which is a nice little mechanic! Stick them near a Beastlord with the trait to give them +1 attack, get him near a hero and cast the spells for +1 damage and exploding 6s and you end up with a unit that gets 3 attacks each (4 if the enemy calls all out defense), hits on 2’s (with an extra hit on every 6) wounds on 2’s and deals damage 2 at between -1 rend to -3 rend depending on the battleround. Yes, that’s 3 heroes supporting them to get that combo off – but a unit of 30 dropping 7 inches away with +2 to charge will worry a lot of units.
Ungors – They now get a 8″ ranged attack if they take the spear, or 2 attacks each if they take blades, giving you a couple of different uses for them. They now also have the ability to retreat when selected to fight, which also means you can use them to slingshot them onto objectives then retreat out of combat before the enemy can strike
Ungor Raiders – Raiders have a reduced range of 12″ but now get 2 shots each. A cool new addition they have is the ability to shoot from off the board at the start of the movement phase (You select a point on the board edge to shoot them), then deploy within 9 inches of the edge using the ambush rules then shoot a second time in the shooting phase. They are not the best shots in the world, but a couple of units throwing enough dice at a target can still be a huge threat to models trying to hide at the back of the table
Tuskgor Chariots – Chariots now hit harder, hitting on 3s and gaining a ranged attack too. They also do impact hits on the charge with a dice being rolled for each inch of the charge and each 5+ dealing a mortal wound
Centigors – These are now pretty cool, they have a base 4+ save and get rend and hit on 3s with their spears in addition to getting a ranged attack. They also get an additional attack when they are near an objective they do not control – and as they are really quick they are able to get into position to take advantage of any aura buffs. They also ignore the first 2 wounds or mortal wounds caused in combat, making them pretty resilient.
Razorgors – These have had a bit of a buff, now doubling their attacks to 8 if nearby any Ungors and healing a wound if they are near a unit that has taken any casualties
Slaangor Fiendbloods – Finally the gorgeous Slaangor have been improved and added to the Beasts of Chaos book! Now boasting base 4 attacks and damage 2, they will be more of a threat in combat – and also benefit from the improving rend from the herdstone. They also once per battle can fight a second time after fighting.
Doombull – The Doombull has lost the ability to make a Warherd unit +1 to wound, instead they now enable Warherd units to make a charge at the start of the combat phase. They have also lost a pip of rend on their axe, but have gained damage on the horns and do now cause impact hits on the charge. He also now causes mortal wounds equal to the damage of the weapon on a wound of 6 rather than 1 mortal wound.
Bullgors – These guys have seen similar shifts to the Doombull with rend reduced to 1 but damage on the horns increased to 2 and similar rules regarding impact hits and mortal wounds on 6s. They have also had their profile tidied a little with distinct weapon profiles for 1 or 2 axes with double axes now granting an additional attack. These will ramp up a little slower than they did previously, but I still think they are a decent unit.
Ghorgon – The Ghorgon has seen some decent improvements, now getting 7 attacks with his blades on his top tier and 2 attacks with his maw, with both now wounding on a fixed 2+. He keeps his swallow whole rule, but now gets to heal wounds equal to the wounds characteristic of whatever he has just eaten too! In addition to now having 16 wounds, he also now gets a unique monstrous rampage, Feast of Flesh which improves his rend by 1 and heals him 3 wounds at the end of the combat phase if he kills anything. This means that from turn 4 onwards you can have this guy at rend -4!
Cygor – The Cygor has also been reworked, now hitting on 3s and wounding on 2s, He also has a more reliable degrading damage on his ranged attack starting at damage 5 rather than D6 damage, though the range has decreased to a fixed 12″. He can also eat Endless Spells as a rampage by rolling over the cast value on 2D6, and also regains this many wounds. Sadly he doesnt get to reroll hits against wizards any more.
Dragon Ogor Shaggoth – So I can see a lot of people doing Dragon Ogor themed armies, as they are still really good and in some ways have even improved! The Shaggoth has gained attacks, with a total of 9 +D6 attacks all at damage 2! They all also hit on 3+, though he has lost the rend on his limbs. He has also gained a 2D6 shooting attack that hits and wounds on 3s with -1 rend. He now gets a 4+ ignore against spell effects, a 2+ roll to heal D3 wounds at the end of combat and a separate 2+ roll to deal D3 mortal wounds to enemy units within 3″. This passive heal every turn makes him a great choice for doing Ritual of Ruin abilities. In addition to this he also has his spell to heal Thunderscorn – it no longer grants rerolls to wound, but instead heals D3 units D3 wounds.
Dragon Ogors – Dragon Ogors now have a generic weapon option rather than having to pick between different types, and its the best of both worlds with 5 attacks at range 2″, hitting and wounding on 3s and dealing 2 damage at rend 1. They still also get their foreclaw attacks in addition to this! They now get an ability where if they make a charge any hits of 6 now automatically wound, and they have the same end of combat healing and damage abilities as the Shaggoth. At 225 points these are a lot more expensive, but still a fantastic battleline option!
Chaos Warhounds – Now a little tougher with 2 wounds each, and now wound on 3s too!
Chaos Spawn – These are now faster at 3D6 movement and can also run and charge giving these a large if random threat range. If they roll a double for their 2D6 attacks they also hit and wound on 3s rather than 4s. Nice cheap battleline option if you are Gavespawn.
Jabberslythe – This now has an interesting role in that he can worsen the save of Heroes – basically he has a unique monstrous rampage where you roll a dice, on a 1 nothing happens, on a 2-5 the hero’s save is reduced by 1 and on a 6 it is reduced by 2. As this is separate to rend this allows you to massively soften up a high save hero and manage to crack through some of the save stacking in the game.
Cockatrice – Like with the Jabberslythe, this has had some interesting tweaks. It still gets it’s gaze, though much reduced to 6″ now and happens in the combat phase, and still causes D6 mortal wounds on a 4+. What’s changed however is the fact that anything that takes mortal wounds from that attack can only hit on an unmodified 6! Each unit can only be affected once per phase however, so no sending a flock of cockatrices on a target! Still worth taking a couple to hinder your opponent’s fighting abilities though!
Chimera – The Chimera no longer has a degrading profile, which makes it much more reliable – though the rend of the Avian head has been reduced to -1 with a flat 3 damage. It also gets a unique rampage that increases all it’s attacks by 1 as long as it targets the same enemy with all attacks.
Tzaangor Units – These remain the same as those in the Tzeentch book, though the addition of the Brayherd keyword gives them synergy with other units in the book
Chaos Gargant – These have a similar profile to a mancrusher, though with less rend to account for the bonus rend they get over the course of the game. They have a few cool unique features though such as gaining extra attacks if they are near Beasts of Chaos heroes and reducing save rolls for nearby units by 1.
Grashrak Fellhoof and Despoilers – We see attacks increase across the board, and Fellhoof has the extended range on Rituals of Ruin with Fellhoof himself – He still has his spell granting +1 to hit, making him a nice and easy way of getting Dragon Ogors hitting on 2s for example
Ravenwing Direflock – Now has a much reduced aura to 6″, but now in addition to stopping Inspiring Presence and Rally, it also stops ANY Command Ability on a 5+ and causes the command point to still be spent, which is great for 40 points.
Doomblast Dirgehorn – This on the other hand has had its aura increased to 6″ and still increases by 6″ each turn. Instead of affecting hit rolls, it now reduces enemy wound rolls by 1, which is excellent as less buffs tend to exist to improve wounding! Again, another great thing to add to your list for a bargain 30 points
Wildfire Taurus – This is still the same, big angry cow causing mortal wounds!
So what do I think of the new Battletome? Firstly, I know people will be disappointed at the lack of summoning, but I do feel the changes to ambushers better captures the feeling of the army, with units shooting and causing abilities from off the board before crashing in to smash the enemy! While the improved rend from the Herdstone has been slowed down a little, I again think this is a good thing, as it encourages you to spend those first few turns harassing the enemy before charging in when the extra rend starts to kick in. I also really like the rituals and feel the risks of doing these are well worth it for some excellent abilities and control.
There also looks to be a few different list types possible in the new book with options for Tzeentch lists, Dragon Ogor lists, Bullgors, classic hordes of beastmen, monster mash or even lots of Chaos Spawns – I suspect leaning into one area but including support from others will make for a fun list though, with Dragon Ogors and big buffered units of Bestigor supported by harassing Ungor Raider units looking decent lists to have a play with.
I’m looking forward to getting some games in with these and seeing how players react to an empty battlefield at the start of the game for Genestealer Cults style psychological effect!
Chaos Battletome Beasts of Chaos is up for pre order today and is released Saturday 4th February
Games Workshop provided Sprues & Brews a free copy for review purposes
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