Winter has arrived with the new Beastclaw Raiders Battletome! The first reimagining of the Ogors in AoS is just as good as you would have hoped for. They feel very unique, believable, and exciting with new units and army specific abilities. What are you waiting for, hop on your Stonehorn and let's get going!
The cover for this Battletome has an ogor atop a Mournfang with several others behind him. I really like how he has a sword pierced through his shoulder's skin like it was just a handy place to keep it. Very ogor-ish, I'm sure he doesn't even feel it there anymore. The colors surrounding the ogor are very fitting for this army, sticking mostly to dark blues and purples. I wish it had a bit more white snow or something to make it a bit brighter, but overall it's a very cool cover.
Diving into the lore behind this army you'll soon find out that these are not the ogres you remember from the Old World. Instead, this smaller section of the ogor range have their own very unique and really cool backstory. The ogors no longer worship the Great Maw, in fact, as far as I know that doesn't even exist anymore. Instead they follow Gorkamorka just like the orruks. Back during the Age of Myth the Beastclaw Raiders were Gorkamorka's hunters, the warriors who ranged out in front of the main army and harried the enemy. The chief Frostlord displeased his god in some way that has been lost to time, and they were cursed with the Everwinter.
This has to be one of the coolest things I have seen so far in AoS. Not only do the Raiders like to make their home in snowy areas, or just exude an aura of cold. They are instead constantly followed by a phenomenon known as the Everwinter, a bone chillingly cold winter storm that will freeze or kill everything in it's path. This includes the ogors themselves, who while somewhat immune to its effect, would eventually succumb to the weather if they stayed in one spot for too long. This mean the Beastclaw Raiders are constantly on the move, heading from one hunting ground to the next, merely to stay alive and ahead of the storm that is cursed to follow them. I mean, that's just plain awesome and definitely explains their affinity for everything cold. If the storm ever does catch up with them for to long they will become frozen solid, but not die, for you see the cold cannot truly kill them.
Unlike other races the Beastclaw Raiders prospered during the Age of Chaos since they had no real civilization to speak of. They were constantly nomadic and always on the hunt. In fact, with Chaos invading everywhere else and breaking down walls it just made it easier for the Raiders to get to fresh targets. So while other races drew close to the edge of extinction, the Beastclaw Raiders actually grew stronger. With the arrival of the Stormcast Eternals they were at first annoyed, since there was no meat for them to eat once they killed the warriors. That is one thing these ogors have in common with their Old World predecessors, they are always hungry. They soon came to appreciate the Stormcast though since they would often drive enemies out into the wilds for the Raiders to attacks. So while they might not have much interest in attacking the Stormcast themselves, they definitely like to hang around them to claim the spoils of war afterwards. The Beastclaw Raiders are also mercenaries when it benefits them and have been known to fight on both sides of the war. There's a cool little story in here at one point about an ogor who fought for Archaon alongside his Varanguard for awhile and learned a lot of valuable tactics and battlefield knowledge from it.
The individual unit entries delve further into their backstories. First off we get the Frostlords, who are the leaders of the Beastclaw Raider's tribes, which are known as Alfrostuns. They are highly skilled and respected warriors, with some of them being centuries old. They have to rise to this position through hard work and years of battle, since no ogor would respect a leader who gained the position through underhanded methods. Each of these either ride a Stonehorn or Thundertusk. Below them they have the Huskards, basically their second in commands, who lead either the Jorlbad or Eurlbad from the back of a mighty Stornehorn. The Jorlbad, or Fighting Hand, is the more prestigious of the formations and often forms the spearhead of the Alfrostun's attack with its Huskard next in line to be Frostlord. The Eurlbad, or Eating Hand, while not as esteemed, is just as important. Their job is to follow in the Jorlbad's wake or provide a swift counter attack. They basically come through and ensure that everyone is dead.
These two formations form the bulk of the army with all of the Stonehorns and Mournfangs belonging to one or the other. Outside of the main bulk of the Alfrostun is the Torrbad, which consists of the Thundertusks. The Huskard of the Torrbad is seen as almost a priest of the Everwinter, with him and his ogors being even closer spiritually to the Everwinter that follows them. In their wake numerous Yhetees are also found, drawn to the cold that they exude. Lastly we have the Skal which is really just the Hunter and his Frost Sabres. They often range ahead of the Alfrostun to seek out prey and are also a valuable advisor to the Frostlord. It's all presented very well, and yet again, I can totally see this existing as a real culture. I also really like the more nordic sounding names they have used for everything. It's very fitting for the Beastclaw Raiders.
Just like in the Bonesplitterz book we get a look at the Beastclaw Raider's language, with a bunch of their most important glyphs displayed and explained. This gives a ton of material for hobbyists to work with when it comes to painting banners and tattoos. We also get a look at some of their most important moments in the timeline we see in every book. There is a section here that takes a brief look at some of the more prominent Alfrostuns. While they are from Ghur and certainly have a large presence there, the Beastclaw Raiders are all over the realms, including Aqshy and a desert.
Something that's unique to this book so far is a quick little painting guide section. Over two pages they show you how to paint tattoos, glyphs on banners, and what I think is the coolest, how to paint your weapons to look like ice. I think I would go this route if I were to paint my own.
There's also the army display section, showing off the studio army as well the 'Eavy Metal models. It looks like instead of just rebasing the old 'Eavy Metal models onto rounds they have actually painted up a whole new set of models. All of the Stonehorns, Thundertusks, and Mournfangs have a snowy white pelt which I absolutely love. This coupled with the very convincing snow bases they have given everything just looks great with this army's theme. They have even painted the Frost Sabres a cold blue color, which in theory doesn't sound like it would be that cool, but actually looks really good. The artwork in this book is another home run for GW with a ton of standout pieces. There's a really nice one of some Thundertusks in front of a massive realmgate, and another one with a whole army shot that would look great framed on a wall.
After all of this we move onto the Battleplans. The first one has the Beastclaw Raiders hunting a group of gargants. They have pursued them across Ghyran and are now trying to herd them over a cliff to kill them. First off, that's just cool that they are aping cavemen tactics, it fits their character a lot. Unfortunately for them their gargant herding has taken them a little to close to a Sylvaneth enclave. Feeling threatened the Sylvaneth attack, trying to repel the invaders. No longer interested in the gargants, the Alfrostun turns its attention fully on the Sylvaneth. Even though they do not have meat, a lot of ogors have acquired a taste for Sylvaneth heartwood. With the winds of the Everwinter at their back the ogors proceed to completely steamroll the Sylvaneth, tearing them to pieces then stomping those pieces into the ground, before just continuing on their way. They also took it upon themselves to eat as many of the soulpods as they could find along the way, particularly enjoying the sappy contents within.
The scenario for this has the defender deploying on almost the entire board, with only 12" along one of the short edges left clear. You also need to deploy a minimum of one terrain piece per 2' square section for the Precious Morsels to be within. The ogors want to overrun these terrain pieces to eat the morsels which heal them. The Raiders then have the first turn and move on from the short board edge that the defender was not allowed to deploy along. To win they have to wipe out the entire enemy army. The defender though has several conditions to win. The fewer Precious Morsels the ogors consume the greater their victory. If the defender has any units left at the end of the fifth turn then the worst outcome they can have is a draw. This is definitely hard for both sides. The ogors have to do a lot of killing, but the defender likewise has a lot of area to protect. I like that this scenario takes the Beastclaw Raider's speed into account. I can see them steamrolling across the opposing army just like in the story.
The second battleplan had an Alfrostun pursuing a group of Bloodbound in Shyish. When the Khorne worshippers get a little to close to a tomb-city the deathrattle army within slaughtered them. Claiming the corpses as their own the Death army brought the bodies within the city walls. Outraged that they have been denied their kill and their feast the Alfrostun attacks the city in retaliation. It's a rather cool story with plenty of skeleton goodness as well as some neat bits with some Morghasts. A Skal also gets prominence in here. The artwork for the tomb city with its soul vanes and towers is fantastic as well and reminds me of something from the Dark Eldar in 40k.
The scenario has the defender deploying in a square along one of the long edges with the ogors splitting their forces between the two opposing corners. The victory conditions are straight from the core rules, but what makes this scenario interesting are the special rules. To represent the encroaching Everwinter each turn the defender's move is decreased. The first turn they subtract one from their movement, the second turn two, and so on, to a minimum of zero. This represents them gradually getting frozen solid. The ogors of course are immune to this since the cold doesn't bother them. The defender gets a bonus though in that each of their units heals D3 wounds a turn as long as their general is alive. This represents the undead units drawing power from the city and the land. I really like the race against time the Everwinter rules provide here and the incentive the ogors have to take out the enemy general as quickly as possible.
The last battleplan has Braggoth, the legendary Frostlord from the Age of Myth making a return. He never died and was just frozen due to the Everwinter catching up to him. Now hundreds of years later he and his Alfrostun were freed from their icy prison by the Stormcast landing too close to them and the lightning melting the ice. With the ancient Frostlord now back amongst the mortal realms, one of Khorne's hunters senses the opportunity to claim a skull long denied him. Tracking Broggoth's Alfrostun to a narrow stretch of land in the Gorewrack Sea, the Bloodthirster Ugor'eth thinks he is laying the perfect trap, but instead they are the ones tricked. As soon as the demons step into the shallow water over one part of the land bridge the ogors freeze it, trapping the demons.
The scenario has the defender deploy in the center of the board. After they are all deployed the ogor player gets to pick any of the edges and deploy their entire army within six inches of it, except for any Yhetees which get to ambush later on. The entire defender's army is frozen at the start of the game and must roll for each unit in the hero phase to see if they break free or not. There is a possibility of them suffering wounds too if they stay frozen for too long. If at the end of any battle round all of the defender's units are still frozen then the ogors win. Otherwise it goes for five turns and if the defender still has any models left on the board which are not frozen then they win. I really like the frozen mechanic in this battle and think it would be a ton of fun to play.
Now we get to the rules, which once again include a whole host of allegiance abilities. If you take a pure Beastclaw Raiders army you gain the ability to re-roll wound rolls of 1 on the charge and there is also a cool Everwinter table to roll one each turn. The various effects gives your army different boosts. There are also six command abilities to choose from and six different magical items. Since there are no wizards in the army we don't get any arcane items or spells. The command traits all seem very useful as do the magical items.
Like the past two battletomes, the battalions here are broken down by the way the army, or in this case Alfrostun, is structured. I really like this approach since it seems more fitting with the army's lore. For the Beastclaw Raiders we get the Jorlbad, Eurlbad, Torrbad, Skal, and the entire Alfrostun that contains everything. The Jorlbad and Eurlbad are actually identical in their composition, which struck me as odd at first until I read the lore behind it. Essentially if you have all of the units that compose it you can decide which set of special rules you want to use each game. The Jorlbad is punchier, while the Eurlbad has more endurance. The Torrbad has the Thundertusks and Yhetees, while the Skal is just the Icebrow Hunter and Frost Sabres. They all seem fairly attainable as far as collecting goes. For example, the Jorlbad (and Eurlbad) consist of one Huskard on Stonehorn, one to three regular Stonehorn riders, and two to four Mournfang packs. You could easily build this with the boxed army coming out. There is also a historical battalion consisting of a combination of Ironjawz and Beastclaw Raiders. I really like the idea of including these historical battalions in the battletome since it brings in a bit more of the lore and ongoing narrative.
We also get two unique Alfrostuns that you can build. The first is the Svard, which is Broggoth's Alfrostun and is really heavy on Stonehorns. All of the Stonehorns are more resilient as well since these ones are supposed to have been from the Age of Myth and were frozen with Broggoth. It may be a little hard to play in Matched Play though, due to the number of behemoths you need to use, but will be a ton of fun for Open and Narrative play. The other is the Olwyr, an Alfrostun that makes it's home on the Sky Bridges of Chamon. This one interests me the most. They are renowned for being skilled riders, a necessity on the sky bridges. To reflect this their generals get two command traits, their Mournfangs are more vicious, and all of the army's units get a bonus to their run rolls.
Lastly we get all of the warscrolls which consists of five heroes, four of which are on monsters, two non-hero monsters (which are battleline in a Beastclaw Raider army by the way), the Mournfangs, Yhetees, and the Frost Sabres. If you want a low model count, tough, and beastly army, then this is for you. You really wouldn't need many units to have a full army, so it's perfectly okay that there are only five kits to the army. Plus, I feel like all of the Stonehorn and Thundertusk riders provide plenty of opportunities for unique conversions. With an army this small you can make each ogor as characterful as you want. You can check out all of the rules for these guys in the App. The whole thing then finishes off with the four pages of core rules.
Games Workshop continues to impress me with how they are taking these rather small sub-factions and turning them into really compelling armies in their own right. Here is yet another army I want to start and it mostly has to do with how well they handled the lore for them. The Beastclaw Raiders have a ton of character and a believable backstory within the mortal realms. If you want a pre-historic feeling hunting party that runs down everything before it then these guys are for you! If you're a destruction fan I would recommend picking up this book, and especially if you are an ogor fan. This has me excited for what they will be able to do with the Gutbusters as well. If you want a great read then you wont go wrong with the Beastclaw Raiders.
Until next time,