torstai 22. maaliskuuta 2018

Animal handlers revisited

This is the 100th published posting in this Vanhaa Vasarointia blog and to celebrate that I wanted to return to one of my favorite subjects - the animal handlers.

I came across this document on the other day and noticed that I had completely forgotten it ever existed. It´s the ´get-you-by´ army lists for 4th edition Warhammer fantasy battle. As you might have noticed I´m not a fan of the great dumbing down othervise known as 4th edition. But this ´get-you-by´ list is well worth looking into as it bears many echoes from 3rd edition that were later removed from the official army books.

 Elven boar handler I painted for this posting. Looks
like he´s really into bench press and bicep curls.

Let´s take a look at skaven, wood elves and dark elves as those were the races that still had animal handlers in the ´get-you-by´ army list.


That´s a pretty odd profile for a skaven there.  Both WS and BS are 4 compared to normal skave 3 and L7 is full two points higher than what the skaven normally have.
No number for how many pack masters you can take here. Unit name has been changed as they used to be called beast masters. Handler has gained a light armor and with that a point value raise from 9 1/2 to 10. Here we get a number for how many pack beasts a single handler can lead. For some reason giant rats have lost their poisonous bite and gone from costing 2 points to 2 1/2. I my opinion they used to be a pretty good choise in the 3rd edition but like this they´ve certainly become a lot worse.

With WS raise from 3 to 4 the rat ogre is even more fearsome than it used to be. 5 point raise in point value is pretty justified.

Special rules for using Skaven packmasters can be found in the Battle Bestiary p.68. The rules are pretty much the same as in 3rd edition. There is no rule for where to Place the packmaster in the unit but the logical Place would be the back rank.

Check out what I wrote about 3rd edition Clan Moulder beast masters.

Same bulky arms from another direction.


Wow! Wood elf beaster master is a beast himself in this list: S4, T4 and 2 attacks! And the Battle Bestiary includes a beastmaster champion too. This is explained in the Battle Bestiary. Some of the elves have the ability to change form and fight alongside their animal companions. An interesting connection to elven shapechangers here.

Special rules for hand-to-hand fighting, leadership and shooting are pretty clear and in line with earlier edition. Oddly a single beastmaster can only lead one beast. This renders then pretty close to useless.

Bears, Wild hogs, Wild cats and Hunting dogs are listed only here and under the wood elf beastmasters in the Battle Bestiary. That means that bears have lost the cause fear ability and wild cats no longer can leap upon their enemies. Pretty big nerfing of both, especially bear losing the cause fear.

Bears have gained one point of both strenght and toughness but now they cost 30 points vs. 20 points they did in 3rd ed. And as said no fear now.

Wild hogs compared to Boars have better WS and higher T. Costing just 2 points more than before they have become a pretty good choise of troops actually.

Wild cats have gone down 3 points in value losing that leap attack. A big loss and even if they still are quite effective with WS4, S4 and 2 attacks I would propably take two hogs for smaller cost. But as we see that is not possible as you can only have one beast per handler.

Warhounds of the old have become hunting dogs which in my opinion suits the elven style. It´s a very different dog now with higher M, WS, T and A than warhounds. But they are triple the price and as with Wild cats I get the feeling that you are not getting that much bang for buck here.

You can compare editions here.

The elf boar is a really small one compared to
an orc war boar.


Number of handers has gone down from 0-8 to 0-6. And now they are called beast masters instead of whelp masters. Points value for handler is the same as in 3rd edition but now you get a light armor for that same amount. Shield option has been removed. War hounds are just the same as in 3rd edition. Chaos hounds have lost a wound and are 7 points cheaper than in 3rd edition.

What is strange is that there are no rules for using beastmasters here or in the Battle Bestiary. But that is not a big problem as you can follow the rules given for skaven and wood elves.

Nothing said about unit size - is it like with wood elves or with skaven?

Want to compare editions youself? Click here for my article on 3rd edition dark elf whelp Masters.

As a conclusion we can see that there has been some thought given to carrying the animal handlers from 3rd to 4th edition but in the end it did not happen at this scale. I sort of like the idea of combining the elf shapechangers with their animal handlers but sadly that was dropped too. The list has clearly been put together quite hastily as it carries multiple confusing details as shown above.


As the last thing for this posting I want to promote another thing of my interest - the baggage trains. There is a Legacy Crew project going on in the Oldhammer Forum with a baggage train theme. If not a member of that forum yet - please sign in and join the project! Check this posting for inspiration!

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