When you think “beastly,” do you think “largely pointless and underwhelming even in their dedicated role”? If not, perhaps someone needs to notify Merriam-Webster about the inaccuracy. Click to read on, or check out the Tactics Corner for more reviews and strategies.
Although we’re listing them as a single entry here, the various Beasts that you can bring along are all technically different units- and, in fact, you cannot mix them together, though of course you’re free to bring units of each of them if you want. However, we’ll be grouping them all together here for a couple reasons, most importantly that none of them are really very good and thus it’s a bit of a waste of time to repeat the same handful of words about all of them over and over again. Note that all three types have abysmal leadership (Ld4) and no ability to fire ranged weapons at all.
Clawed Fiends are the “biggest” of the three types. They come with a 10″ movement, weapon skill 4+, strength and toughness five, four wounds, five attacks, and a 5+ save. They are available in squads from one to six models and 32pts apiece.
Khymerae are the middleweights of the beast options, with the same 10″ movement as Fiends but a better weapon skill (3+). Their other stats are much lower, however, with strength and toughness four, one wound, three attacks, and a 6+ save. At 10pts each, though, they are significantly cheaper, and available in squad sizes from two to seven models.
Razorwing Flocks (not to be confused with the Razorwing Jetfighter, mind you) are the most distinct of the three, having a 12″ movement with the Fly keyword as a significant point in their favor. However, the rest of their statline is pretty garbage- weapon skill 4+ is fine, but strength and toughness two is absolutely terrible, even with four wounds as compensation. Four attacks and no armor save also do not impress, and at twelve points per model (in squads of 3-6) they are rarely going to be seen.
Special Rules and Wargear
Each of the three beasts comes with its own melee weapon, although none of them are terribly impressive. Clawed Fiends attack with S+0 AP-1 Dmg2, making them the hardest-hitting of the crew. Khymerae get nothing of note, swinging with a perfectly ordinary melee weapon. Razorwings get AP-1, at least, though their awful strength limits this a lot.
Fiends and Khymerae also have an extra minor rule they each get. Clawed Fiends get Berserk Rage, which gives them +1 attack once they’re below their starting wounds. Khymerae get Otherworldly, which gives them a 5++ save. Neither are huge boosts, but they offer at least something additional.
Unfortunately, all three of the beasts are extremely underwhelming. While their basic statlines are not unusable, their lack of most of the defining special abilities for Drukhari as well as their inability to benefit from Obsessions is a major strike against them, as it denies access to a lot of useful special rules.
They also suffer from being quite fragile for their cost, in part due to lacking the special rules that other Drukhari benefit from. A Clawed Fiend, for example, is 32pts for four T5/5+ wounds- or in other words, it takes about fourteen Heavy Bolter shots to drop it. However, a squad of five Kabalite Warriors (30pts) has almost identical durability against the same gun, but occupies a troop slot, comes with guns, and actually has more attacks (albeit with worse stats.) And needless to say, the Fiend is comically more vulnerable to Lascannons, Autocannons, and other multidamage weapons, virtually all of which will tear it apart in short order. Similarly, Khymerae have a roughly equivalent durability to Warriors on a model-for-model basis as Kabalites… but cost half again as much as them and lack the aforementioned options. Razorwing Flocks, who are wounded on 3s by Lasguns of all things, need hardly even be discussed. Even comparing the three of them to Wyches turns out poorly, as it happens that the 6++/4++ that the gladiators carry is actually very useful when attempting to get into close combat with any degree of effectiveness, especially combined with Power From Pain.
We should also note that these models are not Infantry, and thus will struggle to move through ruins as well as lacking many of the benefits of cover that might otherwise help them. (They are, at least, not cavalry and thus can scale the upper levels of such structures, but have no special permission to pass through them.) This can be a critical weakness for assault units, as hiding behind large pieces of terrain and then moving out to pounce is a very standard strategy for such units- and being unable to do so must be seen as a huge weakness in virtually any format. Razorwing Flocks, however, can largely bypass this thanks to their Fly keyword, which gives them significantly higher mobility than the others despite only having a marginally higher movement value.
The Razorwing, in fact, is the only one of the three that has any chance of being useful in a competitive list. I will emphasize the word chance here, as I don’t think they are currently at all useful, but I can at least envision scenarios where you might want them. The Razorwing has an extremely weird niche in that it is cheap-ish, comes on a big base, has a bunch of wounds to soak up damage, and has the Fly keyword- in otherwords, all the ingredients for a perfect screening unit. Indeed, it’s seen some sporadic use this way in the past, but it’s been some time since it’s seen such play and I’m not expecting it will come back particularly soon, although the potential does still exist. Drukhari aren’t an army that often needs dedicated screening units, especially because its transports and other vehicles can often do a pretty decent job of it themselves, but in metas where the need arises (or potentially when allying into other armies), it is at least something that the unit can accomplish.
All three Beast units are pretty easy to get rid of with the basic firepower that almost any army will bring- S5+ weapons of any sort will devastate them, especially ones with multiple damage. They are vaguely fast, but not exceptionally so and even the most casually competent of countercharge units should be able to easily break them if they get into your lines.
The beasts, although very cool conceptually, are a real mess from a mechanical perspective and showcase some of the problems with designing units from an entirely top-down perspective. There are very valid reasons why, from in-universe, they have the stats and abilities they have- and why they lack other ones, but the result is a unit that is grossly subpar and play-wise very uninspiring, not living up to its descriptions at all. With a little more flexibility it would be easy to justify some changes or reconceptualize the unit to be a bit more useful, but sadly that is very rarely the way GW operates, even at the best of times.
As always, remember that you can get your wargaming supplies at great discounts from the Frontline Gaming store, whether you’re looking to expand an existing army or start a new one.