torstai 2. maaliskuuta 2017

Animal handlers in 3rd ed. WFB: Wood Elf Beastmasters

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

As per WFB: Armies book you can take 0-6 Beastmasters to a wood elf army. You can divide them into units made up of 1-3 handlers each with 2-6 beasts they lead. A single beastmaster has a normal elf profile and is armed with a hand weapon. Basic cost includes no armor but there is option for light armor and shield. Handlers may lead bears, boars, warhounds or wildcats. A dedicated set was produced for each animal type by Citadel.

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As we see the sets were originally sold with one leader and three beasts except for bear keeper who had just one bear. Later blisters had just the handler and a single animal in them.
Another thing of curiosity is the name- in the rule book everyone is called animal handler, in WFB:Armies we have wood elf beastmasters and the miniatures were sold as elven animal keepers.


Wood elves are the only race that can use bears in beast packs. Looking at the description, rules and profile two think stand out immediately. First the base size. Here it says 25 x 25mm but the bear in the Elf Bear Keeper set is provided with a 25 x 50mm base and is such a large model that it would not fit a 25 x 25mm base by any means sane.

The other thing is movement. In RL a bear can run at 60km/h where as the world record speed for a horse in a sprint is around 88km/h. Usein Bolt can reach almost 36km/h on a 100m dash. He wouldn´t stand a chance agains a bear. At least on a longer distance. Therefore the M4 feels very low. As in real life a bear´s speed should propably be somewhere in between human speed and horse speed. Giving the bear a M6 would have made it a bit more believable.


Tactically bears can be somewhat tricky to use effectively. I would propably use a largeish pack of bears in a straight frontal attack agains enemy infantry. Or as wood elf armies often rely on ranged attacks I could place my unit of bears either in the center between archer unit or to flanks to protect those. They would stay still until enemy moved closer and then engage.

If I chose to go on offence with my wood elves I would propably deploy bears in support of my treemen or warrior kinband. As rules limit maneuvering with packs the attack would be pretty much a straight forward advance and charge.

Keep in mind that the bears cause fear ability is very helpful in many situations and should not be forgotten.

The bears will draw missile fire and that fire is away from the fragile elves. With T4 and W2 you can expect the bears to handle that at least better than elves. Taking the optional armor is a must for bear handlers to give them some protection agains missiles. Having a hero as unit leader would be another thing worth concidering just to add some resilience to handlers.

With S4 and A2 bears are formidable in close combat even though WS3 will force you to pick your opponents carefully. A smaller force of WS4 dwarves could tie down your bears for a long time.

A unit of three handlers with nine bears is around 220 points. If you take a LVL10 hero as the unit leader the price goes up to 300 points. That is quite a lot. You can get a treeman or a unit of eight elven lords including a hero for that. But as wood elf army lacks good infantry with some staying and slaying power bears could be a choise to concider.

A beautiful bear keeper from Thantsants´ collection.

The bear handler set is not very common and you should be prepared to pay around 20€ for a set of a single bear and handler in ebay.

Bear Pro´s:
Jes Goodwin models
No one else gets them
Good S, T, W and A stats
Cause fear

Bear Con´s:
Tactical limitations
Model´s can be hard to get
The Masterwork Guild blog brings us these four bears and their master.


Another type of beast pack that is only available to wood elves. The description says that boars in Old World are much bigger than the ones in RL but that does not seem apply to the Jes Goodwin sculpted wood elf boars. The are smallish especially if compared with orc warboars of the same time. They are mounted on 25 x 50mm bases but will fit 25 x 25mm ones nicely.

The special rules do not apply when boars are in a beast pack. It would be quite logical if the negative leadership modifier for boars being difficult to control would apply to packs too but the rules state that it´s in effect only for riding purposes.

The profile for a boar is pretty close to a human with differences in movement and psychological stats. And as we know all tests are made with the handlers´ profile. So low boar scored here don´t count.

The boars as beast pack animals suffer from their special rules. Their cost is affected by stubborn rule which has no use for them in pack mode. In my opinion their right value should be somewhere around 4 points.


A boar packs best asset is their speed. They can charge 14" which means that they usually can choose to charge enemy infantry instead of getting charged themselves. They are pretty weak in close combat with their average profile. And with T3 and no save thay are vulnerable to missile fire.

Keeping the afore mentioned in mind I still think that there are several ways to use boars in battle. One could sacrifice them to screening more valuable units from missile fire. Or to tie down enemy units to give your other unit time to take them on flank or rear. Or you could send them to a flanking move to harrash enemy war machines or missile troops.

The size of a boar pack depends on how you want to use them. With their 25 x 50mm base a large pack of boars takes a lot of room on the battle field. That might not be good if you want to move fast around enemy flank and go after warmachines. But for screening own troops or delaying action you need some durability. And elf profile should keep the pack from routing even if they losa a round or two of combat.

The maximum unit including three handlers with no armor and 18 boars for screening or delaying action costs roughly 150 points. For flanking and war machine harrassing you could take a more nimble set of two handlers and six boars for just 62 points.

A pair of piggies and a handler from Wee Blokes blog.
They look better on 25 x 25mm base than on the cavalry one.

There aren´t that many painted examples of a boar handler unit in the internet. The set propably wasn´t very popular at it´s time. With some luck you could get a single boar from ebay just below 5€ where as a handler could go for 6€. But it´s more common to see BIN prices of 10€+ for a model.

Boar Pro´s:
Jes Goodwin sculpts
No one else gets them
Good speed

Boar Con´s:
No very effective in combat
Costly compared to war hounds (see below)

Handler and his pack from Lead and Paint.



 Here we meet the 25 x 25mm base issue again. The models produced are on cavalry base and as with bears won´t fit a smaller one. The elven warhoud model is a pretty long one and I believe it would be quite impossible to set them up as a unit if on 25 x 25mm. Orcs and norse are mentioned as users of warhounds alongside with elves but warhounds never made it to their army lists.

Profile is very close to that of a boar. M is one lower and I one higher. Once again there is no reason to look at the LD, INT, CL and WP part. So for two points less than a boar you get a slightly slower beast that can hit a human first with it´s higher initiative. I would take warhounds over boars any day.

Warhound pack could be used in the same way as boars above. Higher initiative given you a bit more room on what targets you should engage. Keep in mind that your dogs won´t last very long with their T3 and no armor. Don´t take both shield and armor for handler as you don´t want to slow him and the pack down.

With just about 110 points you can get yourself three handlers and 18 dogs. That´s 40 points less than with boars.

Thantsants´ war hound pack with their master.

A single warhound can be sometimes found at 5€ or even below. The price for a handler is usually up from 8€. BIN prices for a full set seem to be around 30€.

Warhound Pro´s:
Jes Goodwin sculpts
Good speed

Warhound Con´s:
No very effective in combat
A pack of war hounds from The Masterworks Guild blog.

Wild cats


Another type of animals that is available to wood elves only.
M8, WS4, S4, A2 and leap special rule all means that this kitty is one mean killer. As the text says they are formidable fighters indeed. On the other hand it has T3 and just one wound.

Look at picture from WFB: Armies - does that look like a killing machine? No! That´s the face of a little naughty kitten who has just been disciplined by it´s owner IMO.


You need to get your cats to charge an enemy of lower initiave. You can´t afford being shot at as your costly cats will be killed. Be carefull with your deployment as you can´t maneuver much. It´s pretty much straight forward towards an enemy you can leap at. Against a not shooting enemy you could concider holding back and protecting your archers not engaging but at the latest moment. But make sure you charge and against lower I.
Wild cats can be an alternative for cavalry but they are not as versatile as horse mounted troops. They cost a lot and require quite a lot of concideration on where to use them effetively. But they sure look good as a unit. Taking a hero to lead wild cats could be a good idea as with bears.

A wood elf wild cat handler and his pack by Thantsants.

Perhaps the most sought after of the wood elf animal keepers. But they seem to be a bit more common than the bears. In any case be prepared to pay at least 10€ for a single cat or a handler.

Wild cat Pro´s:
Jes Goodwin sculpts
No one else gets them
Great speed
Killing power

Wild cat Con´s:
Model´s can be hard to get

A big pack of cats from The Masterwork Guild.

3 kommenttia:

  1. I see my boar handler there! ;) I have the dog handler too, but I always wanted to run a unit of bears. I always found it strange that you could buy the handler with 1 bear, but never the bears by themselves.

  2. Derek - Hope you don´t mind me using your pic without asking first? Sort of wished referring to your blog would do the job and not make it look like I´m stealing someone elses work... I agree with the strange packing policy with the bears - one ends up with a lot of bear handlers with no use...