Friday, August 3, 2012


Heya all and welcome back!

Today I am just going to look at an unit that has quite a number of things going for it even during 5th edition and now even more so in 6th; Beastmasters.

A Beastmaster unit is an unusually durable unit that does not need to ride in vehicles and will hit like a ton of bricks at the same time. They are also considerably quite mobile and actually balls out and kick people in the groin despite their apparent fragility (looks wise).

The beastmaster unit comprised of several units, each with their own purposes and role within the Beastmaster unit.

The first unit that needs to be mentioned is the beastmaster (s) themselves. They are the units that allow the other choices to be unlocked, and each Beastmaster allows a certain number of the other beasts to be included into the unit so you will see several of them running around. One of them can also be equiped with other weapons that could complement the function of the units in regards to stuff like killing monstrous creatures with their agonisers and/or Venom blade. They also provide the unit with their leadership score, as the beast by themselves are really bad at the leadership department. Unfortunately he is a very fragile unit and they are characters, which means that they could be challenged by a sergeant or something.

Next up would be the brute of the team, the Clawed Fiend. Boasting the highest toughness and strength from the entire group, they are supposed to be the 'tanks' of the Beastmaster unit. In addition, they also have a rather unique rule that for each wound that they take, their attacks will increase. So the more wounds that they take the more dangerous they become. In this regard, they are the best unit to do a 'Look Out Sir!" on, as they would only get more powerful with each wound that they take but you do not want to take too much wounds at the same time and kill them. Weaknesses would be that they are expensive and you can only take one of them. Not to mention that they can only tank some kinds of hits and the other two units actually does its duty much better.

The Khymeara on the other hand is the guy you would want to take it for the team when the beastmasters are forced to take some low AP weaponry, which is the bane of the entire unit as a whole as they boast a 4+ invulnerable save. In addition they are also able to hold their own in combat with their decent amount of attacks and high initiative. Last but not least, they are the most spammable of all the beast units as you can take five Khymearas for each beastmaster. Unfortunately they are one wound a piece and they do nothing else in the overall dymanic of the group unless to spam even more attacks.

The last unit is the razorwing flock, which is the only swarm-like unit in the whole of the Dark Eldar book. These little birdies are unique that despite their fragile nature, they are also the units with the highest amount of attacks and also the highest amount of wounds which made them more durable than they look. In addition they are also one of the very few units in the Dark Eldar book to have rending which means that they could kill even Terminators with their attacks. In many ways, this unit is awesome, but the only thing with them is that they can't take a str 6 or higher weapon to their face and also you can only spam a limited number of them in an unit.

With all these elements combined, the Beastmasters is unbelievably tough for a Dark Eldar unit despite comprising of many nonsensically fragile units and they can be used in a wide variety of roles.
 They are also a very nasty tarpit unit which they do share with wyches and interestingly enough, with the advent of 6th they are one of the very few units (and by few I mean Incubi Klaivex with Demiklaive and the Clowns) that could actually engage terminators due to the rending units from some of the members of the Beastmaster pack. In fact thanks to 6th as a whole this unit is perhaps the best assaulting unit in the book. Wyches are still good due to Haywire grenades and their 4+ invul, but due to the way FNP and Agonisers work now they are now relegated to torrenters rather than a slow grinder. In this regard, Beastmasters trumps the Wyches.

Another interesting thing to note is that they are perhaps one of the Dark Eldar's most readily available contesting units (and scoring unit in 'The Scouring' mission), as the rules for capturing and contesting objectives have now changed in more ways than one. And thanks to their tough nature, they can take the brunt and become the linebreakers of a Dark Eldar army. Combined this their speed, they can actually storm the citadel and hold the center.

However they are without weaknesses. Firstly for an assault-based unit, they do not have any grenades. Bummer for they need this to become effective. In addition, wyches could do their job for so much more cheaper and also gives a Dark Eldar general an additional skimmer. Last but not least, they may be fast, but they are inherently much slower than the rest of the Dark Eldar army and in this sense they do not do their offensive duties as hard as the other units. Also they can be expensive if you spend too much on them.

Nonetheless there are ways to make this unit even more awesome than it is and one of them is actually to just introduce a single character into the unit. That unit? The Baron.

What does the Baron give the unit of Beastmasters? First things first, grenades. Lots of grenades. Both offensive and defensive ones. Secondly, he gives them stealth which for a footslogging unit is a godsend as the additional +1 to cover saves makes the difference between life and death. Thirdly, he increases their survival by becoming the tanker for the group with his 2+ invulnerable save. Last but not least, he is a very big beatstick. For his point cost, he have boosted the capabilities of a beastmaster unit by a significant amount. Only weakness about this in particular is the unfortunate loss of Move Through Cover for the unit, but personally for that one loss, they gained so much more.

As for their 'mobility' issue, a Webway Portal could be used to allow them to have a better position upon the battlefield a turn before they pounce upon their target and beat the crap out of it. As for my own personal opinion about their 'mobility', they may be slower but they sure hit like a ton of bricks and I prefer not to play with a reserve gimmick to reduce their effectiveness. I prefer to use them as soon as possible within the first three turns rather than waiting for at least turn 3-4 to do my magic.

Several ways that one could use this unit would be to;

1) March them across to hunt down units like infantry blobs and the likes as they are tough enough to take the punishment.

2) Overwatch soaking bag for another more fragile assaulter, where the beastmasters would take the overwatch for the other Dark Eldar squad, and once the Overwatch is triggered the other Dark Eldar unit can proceed and assault the squad.

3) Counter-assaulting unit. Self-explanatory.

4) Objective contester/grabber. Also self explanatory.

In my personal opinion, it is in role #4 that I find them most useful in my list, with the secondary function of role #1 as my list lacks a proper contesting unit that can dislodge those that are sitting on their objectives. The way in which I would use my Beastmaster unit is shown below;

Beastmasters x 3, One with Venom Blade
Khymearas x 5
Razorwing Flock x 4

For this squad, I would be able to take on a number of things while also be quite durable against any other unit. Of course, if I were to assault terminators or something of that nature, I would first weaken the unit before I proceed on assaulting the unit. In addition, I could also take the Baron to make further utility of the Beastmaster unit.

As of this moment, I am going to substitute one of my wych unit and also the Haemonculi for a Beastmaster unit and see how the unit fares out in my games to see how they function within the construct of my army and if they proved to be very effective, I may even opt to take another Beastmaster unit and beat face!

What do you guys think?

EDIT: Thanks Rantucket for noticing the mistake. Editted.


  1. That beat squad is illegal, you would need 5 beast masters.

    4 masters: 6 flocks, 5 khymera is workable

    1. Oh, thanks for pointing it out! I reread the section and noticed my mistake.

      It is a very foreign unit for me hence the mistake. Time to reedit the post!

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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