It only makes sense to review the Beastmen next because, in short, they are what the Warriors of Chaos should have been. On some levels they are quite similar in that both are melee focussed factions with monsters and mages to offer support. But the key difference is that the Beastmen are capable of bringing about the end of the world, while the Warriors of Chaos simply aren’t.
This is because when Beastmen raze a settlement, they can actually prevent it from being recolonised. This is done by placing herdstones in a ruin, which will make all surrounding settlements uninhabitable once destroyed and a ritual is completed. By causing more destructions in this area – a place called the blood grounds – you earn currency toward unlocking higher tier units and a higher cap for how many of those units you can have. Yes, unlike most other factions, there is a limit on how many of a certain unit you can have as these guys. Sounds bad until you consider every unit in your army is free to recruit and upkeep, and that (with some specialised levelling) I’ve found you can recruit 19 units into one army in a single turn – a full stack. And given that all these mechanics work together to ensure you’re wreaking as much destruction as possible, you won’t often find yourself short on currency to upgrade your unit caps.
One of the most fun things about playing the Beastmen is their ambush playstyle allowing you to surprise most armies you fight and using vanguard deployment to send your troops behind enemy lines, even in regular battles, before the action kicks off. It makes for a very mobile playstyle as your soldiers need to move from destroying one target and to the next as soon as they can, given that their absurd damage output goes hand in hand with their low armour. It’s relatively easy to lose late game units like minotaur’s if you just forget to give them an order after micromanaging your heroes, but then again the fact all units are free means that, provided you can actually win the battle, the losses on your side aren’t all that important, even those of elite units
There’s a lot of fun legendary lords for this faction too, all of which feel unique to one another.
Kharzak the One-Eye is an angry bull. He has a whip, an axe and an urge to vanguard deploy his entire army behind the enemy – a tactic I used to beat the campaign’s supposedly difficult final battle for this faction. Being able to deploy just about anywhere before a fight means you take less missile damage before going in, so your beefy bulls can rip everything apart. He’ll spend most of the campaign killing French people in Brettonia, German people in the Empire and maybe a handful of Dwarves too.
Malagor the Dark Omen is an angry bull with wings. He flies, he shoots magic and gets tons of map-wide buffs that apply whenever he is casting a spell. So the more you cast, the more map-wide buffs your dudes will get. He has a somewhat tedious start position as the swamp terrain limits his campaign movement, but he has good expansion options (if you can call destroying the world expanding). He can fight a bunch of Orcs and Dwarves in the north, Skaven rats in the east or the hordes of undead to his south. And the more options you have in a game like this, the better the campaign generally is.
Morghur the Shadowgrave is an angry bull who likes abominations against nature. He routinely sends Chaos Spawn, units of mangled flesh, to eat his foes while he does magic stuff. He’s not as good in melee as Kharzak or as good at magic as Malagor, but sits in the middle as a sort of balance between the two. He gets unique poison attacks in his upgrade tree, and stuff to boost unit caps that are probably his most notable upgrades.
Finally, there’s Taurox the Brass Bull who is so well balanced and fine-tuned that he can easily destroy 5-6 settlements single handily in one turn, in part because he’s insanely powerful on the battlefield and also because he can spend unique rage items to refill his campaign movement range. How does he get these items? By winning battles. So if you win enough battles in one turn you end up gaining more back than you spent to refill your movement in the first place, and the only limiting factor to how much destruction you can dish out is how much of a beating your army can take before it needs to refresh itself. He starts in what I think is a lame part of the map – stuck fighting dark elves for most of the early-mid game – but is easily the most fun of all the Beastmen lords. After dealing with the Dark Elves his options open up to High Elves, Lizardmen and the Vampire Coast.
So if you like anger, being slightly edgy and breaking things in uncontrollable fits of rage to appease dark gods who would be rid of you in a second, then the Beastmen may well be the race for you.
NOTE: This is the last faction review I’ll be doing for Warhammer II as the Immortal Empires Campaign for Warhammer III drops soon in its beta stage. I’ll be playing a lot of that in preparation for a full Warhammer III review, and maybe after I’ll continue the faction reviews for Immortal Empires. Might be a while though.