keskiviikko 29. maaliskuuta 2017

Animal handlers in 3rd ed. WFB: Chaos Beastmasters

This part of ´Animal handlers in 3rd ed. WFB´ -series of articles is about Chaos Beastmasters. It discusses rules, models, tacktics, pictures, links, pro´s and con´s and everything related to Chaos animal handlers. Please click here to find the other arcticles.

This article is mainly about WFB rulebook and WFB: Armies but I´ve included a shortish look into the Realm of Chaos material too.

WFB and WFB: Armies

At first the chaos beastmasters look like a very simple case - just two types of beasts available. But as one digs deeper there are so many sides to them. And pretty many inconsistencies too. I´ll start with the most obvious - it says beastman animal handler and the profile is normal beastman but the picture is clearly of a chaos warrior or a marauder. And as we see later the handler model produced is surely not a beastman but resembles the picture above. So once again someone within Citadel/GW has changed his mind. The chaos beastmaster model was there before the book but then something happened. Perhaps they felt that a chaos warrior or a marauder is too expensive for a handler with pointsvalues of 74 and 39 respectively.

As we see a chaos army can include 0-8 Beastmasters divided into units each with 1-3 handlers and 2-6 animals / handler. You can choose either chaos hounds or spawns for a pack.

Beastmen with T4 and W2 make chaos beastmaster teams a lot less vulnerable to missile fire than what the other races have to offer. Their biggest weakness on the other hand is the below average psychology profile. Your expensive pack may end up running sooner than you think. But good toughness helps to prevent casualties and using a big pack allows you to take some damage before having to check for panic/rout.

The beastmen units get D6-3 chaos attributes. I would count the beastmaster as a beastman unit roll the attributes. This is clarified in the Slaves to Darkness as we´ll learn later. Some GM concideration could be in place here - just to make sure the game does not get broken by mutations.

 Color add of handlers and chaos hounds. Here we see that the handler 
is infact a chaos warrior/marauder not a beastman.
Casting room miniatured did produce this set but it was
discontinued in 11/2016. There we have a beastman
animal handler.

The Citadel chaos hounds are just great and there are so many to choose from. The chaos warrior handler has a good threatening pose. It´s a very nice set as a whole. But the lack of a beastman handler is obvious. You could always use a normal beastman or a slightly converted one as a beastmaster if you wanted.

Citadel chaos warrior handlers with 2-4 dogs can be obtained from ebay with BIN price of around 40€. In a recent auction a handler and three partly painted hounds sold for 15€.

This is the Marauder MM93 Chaos Beastmaster set. One of the better Marauder sculps in my opinion. Again the handler is clearly a chaos warrior/marauder. The pose suggests that he is just about to motivate the pack with that whip of his. Mixing this set and Citadel produced one you could create a unit of two handlers and twelve chaos hounds with no dublicate models!

Cost of a set of a Marauder handler and two hounds is around 25€ in an auction. BIN prices can be as high as 60€.

The idea of producing a set for chaos spawns is a bit of a paradox. Spawns receive D6+6 chaos attributes when generated and there are tens of possible starting profiles so making a set for something like that is just impossible. I understand that not all players are willing or capable (me for example) of creating such conversions a spawn may require.

But if you want to buy yourself a chaos spawn set there are infact some alternatives to choose from. The grandmother of all chaos spawns has to be Ngaaranh.
A painted example of Ngaaranh: Spawn of chaos
from Rogue heresy blog.

She or it dates back to 1983 when released as limited edition. Ngaaranh appeared in this Compendium one article.

 Exerpt from Compendium one.

 Ngaaranh was sold as a chaos harpy in this add from WD49 (1983).

This one is an unreleased Bob Olley chaos spawn painted by
one Mike McVey. Picture from Eldritch Epistles.

Then it´s all the way to the catalog of 1997. I´ve included
this chaos spawn set as I think it´s quite oldhammeresque.
Lot´s of heads and tails to choose from but still quite limited
as the basic form is what it is. But a good base for conversions perhaps.

The 1997 spawn will cost you about 12€. When writing this there were two Ngaaranhs on ebay for BIN prices of 37€ and 83€.

There are multiple newer set in both 40k and WFB/AOS lines but the afore presented are the most oldhammery ones available if you are not that into converting a chaos spawn from scratch yourself.

Chaos hounds


 As with dark elf chaos hounds we meet the basing issue. Rules say 25 x 25mm but models are supplied with 25 x 50mm and propably won´t fit a smaller one less rank up at all on those. The profile is strong for close combat. Chaos attributes can be a curse or a blessing. And in any case should be generated as mentined under GM´s supervision. We don´t want to take the fun away from anyone by some lucky/unluncky rolls before the game has even started.

A very large pack of chaos hounds from Steve McCallums collection.
And he has both Citadel and Maraudet handlers too.


These dogs are deadly in close combat so you want to get them engaged. They are hard to kill with T4 and W2 and as their handlers are likevise resilient so your hounds are not very likely to be send on their way to wilderness. 

As chaos hounds are pretty valuable I wouldn´t waste them on harrassing skirmishers or war machines. They are a decent alternative for heavy cavalry so a simple staright forward advance followed by a charge should work. But once again - a large pack takes a lot of space.

Chaos hounds are pretty valuable: a pack of ten hounds and two beastman handlers will cost you almost 260 points. A pack with dark elf handlers will cost you even more. And darkies are a lot more vulnerable to missiles.

The chaos attributes might affect the way you use the a hound pack. Most of the dominant chaos attributes (rulebook page 207) are quite helpfull but for example enormously fat chaos hounds would be nearly unusable. GM discretion is definately needed here. Don´t break the game before it starts.

Two packs of six hounds with beastman handlers equipped with shield.
Total of 308 points. Picture from the Tales From the Big Board blog.

Nice models
Look good in large packs
Very powerfull in close combat
Good speed
Strong overall profile
High points value

Chaos spawns

Ok, this is where writing this article got pretty tricky. As the WFB: Armies refers to Realm of Chaos -books so I´m using a few exerpts of both The lost and the damned and Slaves to the darkness here.
There are so many different chaos spawn pictures around the net so I just chose to use some iconic ones from WD magazine.

The rules and creating table for a ´instant chaos spawn´ can be found at the Slaves to the Darkness book. You can either choose a starting profile or roll for one. Likewise you can choose nine rewards or D6+6.

The chaos spawns are first mentioned in Slaves to the darkness on page 52 under the title of Fate of champion of chaos - Becoming a chaos spawn. That part is just for chaos champions and does not reflect to games of normal WFB. On page 62 we learn that a creature in a champion´s retinue can become a spawn by rolling that result from follower´s reward table. Then on page 65 we meet the generation table for an ´instant´ chaos spawn. This is the table to be used when generating a spawn to be used in a game of WFB with chaos army list.


As mentioned before chaos spawn come in almost infinite shapes and profiles. Just this random table gives you 60 different starign profiles including the other part which can be basicly anything. And then you roll for the minimum of seven chaos attributes.

Chaos spawns are subject to stupidity. This means that in the beginning of each of your turn you have to make a stupidity check. As described under thr psychology rules in the rulebook the test is taken vs. unit´s CL. And as per animal handlers rules the unit´s leader´s profile is used for all psychology test. With beastman´s CL 7 you are pretty likely to fail a few of those tests. You could try to help this by taking a hero as a unit leader but the cheapest options to boost your CL is a level 5 wizard that costs 80 points more than a normal beastman.

Spawns and other creatures of chaos by Pete Taylor from WD117.

Here we finally get the points value for a chaos spawn: 100 per model. Depending on how you roll this could be from very cheap to total waste of points. Imagine one legged, obese, coward, bunnyheaded, albino, puny, hunchbacked halfling vs. mechanoid vampire with fire breathing, teleport, scaly skin, weapon mastery, horrible stench etc. If someone is using a chaos spawn I would really suggest that it´s the GM who creates it to make it somehow reseble it´s point value.

I personally don´t like the idea of a unit of chaos spawns with dominant attributes. It´s just against the whole idea of chaos spawns being randomly warped beyond recognition. Like where´s the chaos in having for example four identical spawns? I would take the time and create each spawn in a unit individually. That may give you some strange combinations but once again - serious GMing is recommended.

In my opinion packs of chaos spawns should propably be used only in narrative battles where a GM has created them to suit the setting. There are too much randomness to their creation that can ruins your gaming experience if you just go by the creation tables.

An iconic Pete Taylor chaos spawn from WD119.
Guess they had too many Fimirs just lying around and
had to do something with them.


Well - how to tell you how to use a bunch of creatures that can be anything from complete rubbish to almost unstoppable killing machines. The Slaves to the Darkness suggest that spawns can be useful for soaking up enemy charges and overrunning less numerous enemies. But it really depends on what you get. Hopefully you are playing with GM created spawns that should have at least some kind of use in the scenario you are going to play. You just have to figure it out that use.

Nice models if you make them so
Good for narrative battles where they serve some purpose
Chaotic naturel suits a chaos army


Daemonic Legions and Armies of Chaos

Daemonic Legions

Daemonic legions and Armies of chaos for each power are presented in the RoC books. Daemonic legions can have units of chaos spawns and packs of chaos hounds in their auxiliaries contingent. Chaos spawns must have a pack handler but the hounds can be fielded with one or just by themselves.

In The Slaves to the Darkness book we find units of both Khornate and Slaaneshi spawns. For Khorne you can take 0-3 units of spawn each with 8 monsters and a leader that can be either a bloodletter or a champion of chaos. This means that the value of a unit at it´s lowest is a whopping 860 points. Slaanesh can have 0-4 units each with 6 spawns and a leader. Lowest cost for that is 660 points. For some reason I believe that those points could be much better used elsewhere.

Creatures of chaos from WD109

The idea of daemonic legions having spawn units has been dropped at some point as they do not appear in The Lost and the Damned book. There is however a note that a daemonic legion can invlude troops drawn from the mortal world i.e. from the Armies of Chaos list. That allows fielding beastmasters/handlers too.

Armies of Chaos

Khornate armies of chaos can have beastmaster units each with 2 handlers and 8 chaos hounds or chaos spawns. Here it becomes clear that the handlers too are subject to chaos attributes. And that the spawn is created using a human profile as basic. The unit point value is quite odd. A normal beastman in SttD costs 8 points so a single handler should be 13. And chaos hounds as part of a host are 23 points which is normal. Adding up 2 handlers and 8 hounds gives you 210 points but the points per unit value is given as 120?!?!

And the handler in the picture looks more like chaos thug than a beastman.

What I wrote above about the Khornate army hadlers stands for Slaaneshi handlers too.

Personally I could think about adopting the human-profile-as-starting-point-for-rolling-a-chaos-spawn -principle to using spawns with WFB: Armies Chaos list. But only if there is no GM available to create the spawns and you absolute must have to use them in a game.

Nurgle and Tzeentch armies can have packs of chaos hounds. They are special in that they can either operate independently or be led by chaos champion. If acting independently I believe that they are not bound by the animal handler movement rules. And if they are lead by a chaos champion he is concidered to be an animal handler with all the applying rules for him and the pack.

Nurglesque pack of chaos hounds. As you see the style of the army list 
has changed somewhere between SttD and LatD.  And notice the base size.
Now it matches with the models.

 Tzeentchian chaos hounds unit.

Nurgle and Tzeentch packs differ in size (7 hounds for Nurgle and 9 for Tzeentch) and in number of chaos attributes. Both roll for D6-4 attributes but for Tzeentch the special rules say that: All the chaos hounds in the unit can be given up to the number of attributes rolled - thay can always be given less if you prefer, but must be given at least 1.

As with the hounds, Nurgle and Tzeentch armies can field chaos spawn as an independent pack or with a chaos champion leader. What strikes me is the points cost which is only 25 compared to 100 points in WFB: Armies. And the unit size is unlimited!

Chaos spawn unit of a Nurgle army.

Tzeentchian spawn unit.

A pair of ´eavy metal chaos spawns.

Writing this article was a pretty chaotic process. New things seemed to pop up around every corner and I´am pretty sure I missed something on the way here. Please sound up if you want something included.

3 kommenttia:

  1. Cahos hounds are very good for the points, even more so if you indulge in chaos attributes. Naturally gaining a bonus to an already expensive unit should have draw backs, enormously fat being just one of the balancing possibilities. If you roll it you should use it just as much as you would iron hard skin or great fangs after all your opponent coudl cry fowl at those. No GM discretion required, a gamble with chaos lead to greater power or not...

  2. Hi Erny! Nice to have you around. I feel that in some cases GM discretion could be required but there are as many ´right´ ways to do this as there are players and GM´s. I feel that as long as everyone agrees on something and it doesn´t take the fun out of someones experience everything is acceptable.

  3. For some reason the text color in this article has a mind of it´s own... chaos at work?!?!