Monday, August 30, 2010

Paingiver Beast Handlers: Thoughts/Tips

Beast Handlers are a vital component of the Skorne war machine. They are used to train and condition the beasts Skorne use in battle. On the tabletop, they are a necessary part of your army- healing, enhancing, and just making those warbeasts easier to handle for your warlocks.

For the most part, their stats aren't the reason you take these guys. They have SPD 6, which is perfect for keeping up with the Skorne beasts. Their DEF and ARM are very low, which means the unit has almost no survivability, but since you'll be tagging along with your beasts you can use them to provide screening for these guys. CMD 8 is a little concerning as well, since they are very fragile. It's not low enough to be in danger of constantly failing, but low enough to be worth noting. Finally, these guys are cheap. 3 points for a full unit (of 6!). That's a tremendous value!

Very low P+S, but it does have reach, and with Anatomical Precision it can still kill single-wound infantry. The Barbed Whip also has the Inflict Pain rule, allowing the handlers to place or remove a fury point on the target warbeast. That can be very handy for either starving your opponent of fury... or overloading his beasts with it.

Of course, if your beast handlers are in combat, you're probably doing something wrong. Their attacks are really a last resort.

Special Rules:
Anatomical Precision: Great for killing single-wound infantry, assuming you hit. Since these guys aren't likely to break ARM on their targets, this gives them the potential to chip away a point of damage apiece. Of course... they still shouldn't be in combat.

Beast Manipulation: The entire reason to take this unit. Each member of the unit can perform one of these, and each beast can be effected by one each turn.

- Condition: A friendly beast can have any number of fury put on it, or taken off it. This ability is key to keeping your beasts running efficiently. You can easily drop fury off of beasts to make it easier for your warlock to stop Frenzy, or even to give the beast some room to use Fury for its abilities on the opponent's turn (useful for the Cyclops Brute, for instance). I can't see much use for putting fury ON a friendly beast, but I've had to do it because I'm careless, so it's not wholly useless.

- Enrage: Another help on beast efficiency, it gives a bonus to STR as well as forces the beast to charge, slam, or trample on their next activation for free (which basically saves the beast another Fury). Pretty fantastic on some beasts once they get up close the opponent.

- Medicate: Heals a beast. Fairly useful throughout the game, both to keep your beasts alive after rounds of shooting, or to fix a critical aspect before charging in to unleash a beating.

Obviously, which of these is used depends wholly on circumstances. All are useful though, and will get plenty of use during the game.

Kind of a strange thing here, since the Beast Handlers are there solely to make your beasts better. That means they have very simple rules for synergies with beasts: They make them better!

Master Tormentor Morghoul: No real synergies. They do make Abuse better though- +4 STR is downright nasty. They can also heal the damage Morghoul's abilities cause.

Titan Gladiator: Enrage makes this thing scary. Add on another one of the STR boosts, and the Gladiator can wreck Khador heavies. Spirit and Mind are the most likely to be destroyed aspects, and the Handlers can keep them healthy.

Cyclops Savage: I find the most useful beast manipulation for the Cyclops is Medicate. Extra strength is nice, but P+S 15 isn't terribly scary. Healing these guys is always nice though, since they are handy to keep around.

Tier Thoughts:
They can be taken in all theme forces aside from Void Seer Mordikaar's and Supreme Aptimus Zaal's.

Master Tormentor Morghoul's theme list requires two units of them for one of the tiers, which causes heavy warbeasts to be cheaper.

These guys are absolutely worth taking in nearly every Skorne army. They make your beasts easier to run, and that makes the beasts better overall. They are also so inexpensive that it isn't a point sink to include them. They are extremely fragile, and will certainly draw the attention of your opponent, but that's just another way to help the beasts out, I would think. 100% take them in every army.


  1. although a little off topic, I'd like to ask you what you think of this 15 points warmachine list... I've only just started getting into warmachine, and I'd like some feedback from an experienced cryx player, so if you don't mind could you take a little look? thanks :)

    Cryx Battlegroup

    Warcaster: Iron Lich Asphyxious (+6 Warjack Points)
    - 2 Nightwretches................... 8 (4 each)
    - 1 Slayer.......................... 6

    - Bane Thralls with 6 Troopers...... 5

    Skarlock Thrall..................... 2
    (Attached to Iron Lich Asphyxious)

    Total: 21 (15 Army Points + 6 Warjack Points)

  2. Bah, off topic doesn't matter one bit to me. I'm happy to help!

    One day, I do have a goal of going through the Cryx casters, and doing a writeup of how to start them, kind of escalation-style, but that's going to have to wait until I have some time.

    This list, however, is pretty solid for a starting Asphyxious list. He's such a solid all-around caster- there's not much you can take wrong with him. That said, what you have is pretty much all perfect to use with him.

    Nightwretches are much maligned in MkII, because the Defiler, with its spray, is considered so much better. I don't buy it. You get a decent AOE attack on a 4-point arc node. That's fantastic! And Asphyxious needs them to get his spells in place.

    The Slayer is a fine jack, fast and it hits hard. Use Asphyxious to get him to hit even harder!

    Bane Thralls are of course amazing. The Skarlock Thrall is also a perfect match, since there are so many good spells he can cast.

    Really, it's a perfectly good 15 point list. I even ran something similar at 25 points here:

    Let me know how it goes! I love reading battle reports where Cryx are involved :)

  3. thanks I had no idea that I made a good list :), nightwretches seem fantastic and besides are a point cheaper then defilers. how easy is it for bane thralls to take down a 'jack? cause they combined with parasite, cast by asphyxious, gives the target model a -5 ARM penalty, and they have weapons master... any thoughts?

    thanks :)

  4. Nightwretches are absolutely fantastic. Your other choice at 4 points is the Deathripper, who isn't nearly so good.

    As for Bane Thralls- they are perfect for taking down jacks! Without charging, a unit of Bane Thralls does something like 35+ damage on average to a Khador heavy. That number goes down the higher DEF an opponent's jack has, but overall, you're not going to have an issue killing his jacks with them. Scything Touch + Parasite virtually insures that if you get them into combat, they are going to wreck things.

  5. I couldn't believe it when you plopped down these guys in a 15 point game and didn't have to drop any of your beasts to do it. They really are a FANTASTIC value. I hate these guys with your Titan so much. Makeda being able to bring them back with her feat is also really annoying.

  6. Yeah, these guys are amazing! I am really considering buying a second unit for bigger games. mmmm....