Recently I played against Captain Obvious of Dark Future Games fame and his Daemons. This was the second game using my “Lelith Fair” list. In this incarnation of the list though I had dropped the Harlequin squad and added a Ravager. I also added a squad that I have previously never used. The web forums and blogs are a buzz with how awesome this unit is as well. This of course is the Beast Master pack.
The battle with Captain Obvious was quite the carnal house of slaughter. If it had went to turn 6 He would have been tabled. The rolls were going my way and I was pretty much in full control of the direction of battle. I won't go into details with a full battle report as I am pretty sure Captain Obvious's pride is wounded enough after the brutalizing his Daemons took at the hands of the Wych Cult of Strife. One of the lynch pins of the battle was the Beast Master pack. Lets delve into this unit a bit as it has changed quits a bit since the last incarnation.
The Beast Master pack occupies a Fast Attack slot. You can have up to 5 Beast Masters in the unit. Each can have up to a certain amount of beasties. This means that the unit can get very very large and has quit the mix so you can benefit from a little bit of wound allocation cheese. So first we will look at the Beast Masters themselves and then the beasties.
The Beast masters are the only part of the unit with the Power From Pain rule. This means only they benefit from pain tokens according to the newly published FAQ. They are armed with a close combat weapon and a Hellion Skyboard. You can upgrade one of them to have a special weapon. I prefer to give them an Agonizer just to have a power weapon in the mix that does not rely on strength. You can also give them a power weapon or Venom blade.. You can have up to 5 Beast Masters as part of the unit. Each can one type of beast up to the limit set on the beast type. You can have 0-5 Kymerae, 0-1 Clawed Fiends and 0-2 Razor Wing flocks. The number of beats masters is important because this limits how many beasts you can have. They also give the unit the ability to shoot. The Skyboards have the Splinter pods equipped so you have a poison 4+ assault 2 weapon with an 18 inch range. Not to bad for a close combat unit. This lets you soften up your targets and at the same time measure a charge range on the sly. Granted a 12 inch charge range will get you there pretty easily, but it never hurts to be sure.
Kymerae are the classic Warp Beasts from the last codex. They are quick and strong with a decent number of attacks. They also have a 4+ invulnerable save. This lets you wound allocate the high strength and instant kill weapons away from your multi wound models. These guys will strike with the Beast Masters at initiative 6 . I like to take 5 of theses just to increase the survivability of the unit.
The Clawed Fiend is a bruiser. With a toughness and strength of 5 he can dish out a nice number of wounds and take hits as well. The fiend starts with 4 attacks and gets an additional one per wound it has. This maxes out at 7 attacks as it has 4 wounds. This guy can take the high strength wounds the Kymerae can't take. Its beneficial as you gain attacks when you put wounds on it. Despite the 40 point cost I take at least one to round out the unit and add in yet another type to help with would allocation.
The Razor wing flock is a wound sync. At 5 wounds it can take some punishment, just as long as its not strength 6. The flock also has 5 attacks that are rending. Each beast master can take up to 2 flocks. I load up 3 of them with Razorwings for a total of 6 bases. Thats 30 rending attacks, 36 on the charge. These guys will make up the bulk of your unit unless you are going for an invulnerable save wall.
There are a couple of obvious weaknesses to this unit. There are also a couple not so obvious. The first real blatant weakness is the fact the best save in the group is a 4+. The second is that all but one of the beasties is toughness 3. This means you really have to watch your deployment. This is one of the not so obvious weaknesses. This unit is big. In fact its huge. It takes up a ton of room in the deployment zone and is prime for blast templates. It is defiantly a unit you want to deploy via web way portal or hold in reserve. You also really have to watch what you engage. Remember they only have a leadership of 8. Given the amount of wounds this unit has it is easy to forget that it can be easy to loose a combat to a very tough unit like terminators or plague marines. If a unit has awesome saves and FNP you must choose your battles very carefully. There is no real option, if you want the unit to be unhampered, to raise their leadership. Be careful about close combats near the edge of the board as well. With a retreat move of 3d6 you will loose them if you are to close to the board edge.
Now the unit is, pardon the pun, a beast. The sheer number of attacks you get is in the crazy range. Combine this with its ability to shoot at a good distance and move fast across the board you have a very lethal unit. It takes some finesse to use though.
So there is my take on Beast Masters. I should have my battle report against CSVinton and his Salamanders up later in the week.
Until next time...................
Blood Runs, Anger Rises, Death Wakes, War Calls!!!!!!!!!!!!!!