Monday, October 12, 2020

REVIEW: Sons of Behemat

Stomping into the Mortal Realms, the largest AoS army ever is here, the Sons of Behemat. Well, the largest, and at the same time, smallest AoS army ever. So what does this gargantuan Battletome contain?

Like all my reviews, I'll start off with the cover art. I really like the perspective used to portray the gargants. By using the worm's eye view, you really get a sense of their size. Also, the very classic looking castle tower that's destroyed in the background does a good job of reinforcing that classic image of giants rampaging through towns that we're already familiar with from stories and myth from the real world. It's also nice to see a normal looking sky and background every now and then. Though the Mortal Realms are fantastical, they also have plenty of areas that are relatively normal where the majority of humans live.

The lore section on this follows a slightly different format from what we're used to. This is largely due to the nature of the Sons of Behemat themselves. The gargants don't really have a civilization or any kind of shared history besides that of Behemat himself, so it becomes more about their society on a tribal level and individual stories. This works wonderfully though, and like most of the Destruction Battletomes, there's plenty of great humor scattered throughout the lore. We start with a general overview of the gargants themselves. Like I said previously, they don't really have a civilization, and most of them either live in small groups or entirely on their own. One interesting bit is how they're more or less constantly starving. This is due to their gigantic size and how much food they would need to eat to maintain their metabolism. Due to this they're largely driven by hunger and are drawn to battles due to the multitude of combatants there that they can then eat. This makes total sense, but seems like something that may be overlooked in a fantasy setting. So, it's nice to see it included. It's little things like this that help bring in a sense of realism to something so fantastical. We also learn about their god, which like all the factions of Destruction, is Gorkamorka. Many of them see Gorkamorka as just a pair of giant feet, partially due to having seen Orruk shamans call down the Foot of Gork in battle multiple times. There's the Gorkfoot, which is stompy but kicky, and the Morkfoot which is kicky but stompy.

The one shared societal element that all gargants share is their past from the Age of Myth. They all hail from a truly gigantic godbeast known as Ymnog, who is the father of Behemat. Behemat is said to have grown from the stones inside Ymnog's belly and escaped one day by bursting through the godbeast's teeth. Ymnog was slain by Sigmar early on, and Behemat, a godbeast himself known as the World Titan became the father of the gargant race as a whole. Behemat was a champion of sorts to Gorkamorka, and the god of destruction grew jealous of his champion's prowess. He challenged him to complete many of the amazing feats that the orruk god had completed earlier. Somehow Behemat was able to come out the victor each time, either on purpose of accident. Annoyed, Gorkamorka challenged Behemat to complete one final task, win a battle against Sigmar himself. Sigmar laid him low, beating him so badly that Behemat vomited out a bunch of gargants before collapsing in Ghyran and falling into a deep sleep for centuries. This brings us to the events from the Realmgate War series, where Archaon sought to rouse Behemat from his slumber and enslave him to his dark purposes. After a great battle where the godbeast began to awaken, he was finally killed for good by the Celestant-Prime with Ghal Maraz, saving the giant godbeast from a life of servitude to Chaos.

The next section goes over Ghur, the Realm of Beasts a bit. Some of this has already been covered in other books, but it also talks about how the gargants interact with it. This is mostly just toppling any settlements they find, except for the Kraken-eaters who prowl the coast lines instead, attacking boats. There's also a nice map of Ghur, which unless I'm mistaken, is the most comprehensive one yet. It's cool to see where places like Excelsis are in relation to say the Meatfist Mawtribe's keep, or the fortress of the Ivory Host of the Bonereapers.

The Sons of Behemat have largely been unaware of the going ons of the other races, since so little affects them. There are some humorous bits about them trying to catch Endless Spells after they appeared, but the first big impact on them were the Nighthaunts. In one of their first encounters with them, Lady Olynder turned the Mega-gargant warlord who attacked her into a bunch of black roses blowing away on the wind. This event, witnessed by the rest of the tribe shook their faith in themselves, and then after that found they could no longer stomp the ghosts. They just passed right through them. This fear was spread throughout the entire gargant society until the Drakkfoot Bonesplitterz showed them that if you believed in it enough you could harm the Nighthaunts. Amusingly the gargants refer to these times as the Sole Wars. Another great bit about how they fight is that in general the gargants aren't super enthusiastic about fighting Chaos armies since they're so spikey and they hurt their feet to step on them. Some particularly cunning gargants have started making sandals to protect their feet against this.

The timeline has a bunch of cool events on it, but my favorite is probably the one near the end called Old Ropey. This is just an entry about a Mega-Gargant who is said to have his muscles and flesh hanging off of him like moss from a tree. It's truly disgusting and perfect for a gargant touched by Death. It also reminds me of real fairy tales from the real world and how utterly grim they can be.

Though gargants are usually not ones to group together, the presence of Mega-Gargants has changed that. A particularly tough or bossy Mega-Gargant can group together a gaggle of other Mega-Gargants, as well as some Mancrusher Gargants into what's called a Stomp. The organization of this is based off, what else, a foot, with the leader called the Big Heel. Below them are the other Mega-Gargants, with the Mancrushers called the Footsloggers and are often considered expendable. Another great bit is how gargants came across the mercenary lifestyle. The very first gargants to do this were taught by a Mawtribe of Ogors they were following. They quickly learned you could get more to eat by working for someone instead of just eating them. This revelation quickly spread throughout the rest of gargant society, and now many gargants hire out their services in return for plentiful food and battle. It's not unheard of for a gargant to just turn on their employers afterward though, or even switch sides in the middle if they're presented a better offer. 

Next we get the individual unit entries, which in this case comprises of just four. Each of the Mega-Gargants also has a little boxout with some lore for the mercenary gargant of that type, such as Bundo Whalebiter for the Kraken-eaters. I particularly like the lore for the Mancrusher Gargants, which are just the "normal" sized gargants. It talks about how many gargants spend most of their time drunk, like the Aleguzzler Gargants. Something about the Mega-Gargants draws them though and they find purpose in following these behemoths beyond just drinking. Soon they sober up and become even more deadly and focused. It's the sobriety solution for gargants!

The gallery sections has some photos of the 'Eavy Metal models as well as some really nice scenic shots of the gargants. I really like some of the askew angles and perspective shots used here to really show off the scale of these giants. There's a shot later on in the book of a Mega-Gargant facing off against some Stormcast with meteors falling in the background that I particularly like. After this we have the hobby section with some step by step guides for painting some common things across the models, such as several different skin tones, cloth samples, etc. 

The rules section for this goes a bit quicker since it's such a small army, but there's a bit more than you'd initially think, with three different tribe rules, each with their own set of traits and artifacts. To start with, all Sons of Behemat armies have two unique rules, Mightier Makes Rightier, and Chuck Rocks. Mightier Makes Rightier has each Mancrusher Gargant counting as 10 models instead of 1, and Mega-Gargants counting as 20 models instead of 1 for the purpose of scoring objectives. This means you won't be at a disadvantage against horde armies even though you may only have six models in your army. This is overridden by any special objective scoring rules a battleplan may have. Chuck Rocks gives 1 Mancrusher Gargant unit in each of your shooting phase an 18" shooting attack that does D3 damage. Each gargant gets to do this too, so if you have a unit of 3 then you get to do 3 Chuck Rock attacks from that unit.

You then have to determine which tribe your army will belong to. This is determined by which Mega-Gargant is your general. If it's a Kraken-eater then you're a Taker tribe, if it's a Warstomper then you're a Stomper tribe, and if it's a Gatebreaker then you're a Breaker tribe. The Taker tribe has two special rules, one which makes your Mancrushers count as 15 models instead of 10 and Megas as 30 instead of 20, and another that gives you a triumph each time an enemy hero with an artifact is slain. They have 6 command traits to pick from, with the first 3 being the same across all of the tribes. Strong Right Foot and Very Acquisitive are probably the two stand outs. The first one lets you roll 3D6 instead of 2D6 for the general's Get Orf Ma Land! rule, more on that later, while the latter lets you take two artifacts instead of just one. They also have 6 artifacts to pick from, which is more than any of the other tribes. Their whole theme is they like to take things, hence their name. Glowy Lantern will probably see a lot of play since it makes your general a wizard, and that's the only way to get a wizard in this army.

I really like the Stomper tribes though, since they have all of the cool command abilities. Their first special rule adds 1 to the damage of your Mancrushers' attacks if the enemy unit has 10 or more models, or 2 more damage if they have 20 or more models. Their second special rule is Big Shouts, which gives you 6 command abilities to use, but you lose access to any of the generic ones. That's okay though since many of these cover the same things but better, like Get a Move on, You Slackers! which lets ALL Mancrusher units within 18" do an auto 6 for their run. So it's like the generic command ability, but lets you do more than one unit at a time. I really like the ability that lets all Mancrusher units within 18" use the Chuck Rocks ability instead of just one. That's a lot of shooting attacks. All of these are within 18" as well, not wholly within, so it makes it even easier to use. This tribe definitely encourages you to use more Mancrushers and less Megas. There are 6 traits to pick from, with Very Shouty being my favorite. It gives you an additional D3 command points at the start of the game, which will come in handy with this tribe. There are only 3 artifacts to pick from, but they're all pretty good. I like Ironweld Cestus, which lets you re-roll all saves for your general and also lets you bounce back mortals on the roll of a 6 in melee.

Lastly we have the Breaker tribes. They also have two special rules. The first, Breaking Down the Houses, gives your Mancrushers extra damage when attacking units in cover, and also gives them a rule similar to the one that the Gatebreaker has, allowing them the possibility of destroying terrain features on the board. You'll have an easier time doing this if the unit of Mancrushers is larger. I really like the idea of an entire army of gargants going around just kicking over all the scenery on the board until it's all rubble. It just seems really fun and funny. The second special rule, Fierce Loathings, lets them pick from a list of 6 special rules that apply to all Gatebreakers and Mancrushers like Bossy Pants and Clever Clogs which gives you +1 to hit against heroes and wizards. They also have 6 traits to choose from with Extremely Bitter standing out to me. It lets you pick two Fierce Loathings instead of just one, but the second one only applies to your general. There are 3 artifacts to choose from with Enchanted Portcullis essentially giving your general a Death save.

This is followed by the narrative battleplan called Forlorn Hope, which appropriately enough has some forlorn defenders trying to hold out against the Sons of Behemat player. We also get three sets of name and background generators for the army, one for each tribe. I really like narrative bits like this, with some real gems amongst them. One of the background bits for the Breaker tribes has your Mega-Gargant resurrected by their Necromancer allies. There's also a little story to go along with each of these. There are a good amount of narrative stories scattered throughout this book in general, which I really enjoyed.

Next we have the Mercenary rules for the army. These follow the normal mercenary rules except that you can ignore the points cap for allies since all of these Mega-Gargants exceed that. That's it for allies and mercenaries in your army though. Destruction has access to all three of the Mega-Gargants, while Order gets the Kraken-eater, Chaos the Warstomper, and Death the Gatebreaker. They each have a special rule as well since they are supposed to represent a particular named gargant, like the Kraken-eater, which can choose to fight at the end of the combat phase if it wants, but can then re-roll all of its hits rolls.

I'm not going to spend much time on the warscrolls since you can see them online, but they're pretty beefy. All of the Mega-Gargants share a bunch of common rules amongst them, like being able to walk over enemy units, falling down when they die, and doing mortal wounds on the charge. The Kraken-eater has one of the coolest special rules with Get Orf Ma Land! This lets him kick an objective marker 2D6 inches away in the hero phase as long as he's within 1" of it. You can only kick an objective once per turn, so no playing soccer with another Kraken-eater, and it has some rules on where it ends up, but it's still really cool, fun, and super powerful in Matched Play! The Warstomper is best against horde units, getting more attacks when there's more models within range, and the Gatebreaker has a special rule where he can destroy scenery. It's a pretty pricey army points wise, but if you take a unit of 3 Mancrushers that fulfills your battleline requirements for the army. You can take one of each Mega and a unit of 3 Mancrushers and have it all fit in a 2,000 point army. There are no allies in here, but these gargants don't want any help from some scrawny stumpies anyway.

I know this is a release that people have been waiting for over half the year, and I have to say it seems like a lot of fun! The Mega-Gargants themselves seem like they could be fairly quick to paint using Contrast and Drybrushing, and with the low model count I could see this being a fairly quick army to paint. I was sent a Mega-Gargant along with my review copy of the battletome, but I haven't had a chance to build or paint mine yet. I'm still trying to decide whether I want to do something for Destruction or if I want to convert something up cool to ally into my Death armies. The inclusion of the mercenary rules was a great idea since now every army can take one of the Megas if they want. I know the price of the models is a bit of a concern, but it works out to be about the same as most 2,000 point armies. You're just paying more per model. I really enjoyed the lore in here and all of the little story vignettes. It's proper fun, as all destruction armies should be, and due to the mercenary rules, everyone can get in on the fun!

Until next time,

Tyler M.

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