Age of Sigmar Tactics: Beastclaw Raiders, part 2

Recently, I broke down all the units in the Beastclaw Raiders army and discussed their strengths, weaknesses, and role on the battlefield. Today I’m going...

Recently, I broke down all the units in the Beastclaw Raiders army and discussed their strengths, weaknesses, and role on the battlefield. Today I’m going to take a step back and talk about the special rules, abilities, and equipment of the Allegiance. Following that, we’ll go over their Battalions, and finally a few sample army lists using what we’ve learned.

Aperitif

The Beastclaw Raiders are among the most elite Allegiances in the game, and definitely the most elite that has a fully fleshed out Battletome. Their armies are extremely low model count, though they’re all resilient, incredibly hard hitting, and fast. You’re going to get up in the enemy’s face quickly and start eliminating enemy units, often in a single round of combat.

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Beastclaw Raider Allegiance Abilities

Like the other, newer Battletomes, the Beastclaw Raiders have their own selection of Battletraits, Command Traits and Artefacts. They reflect the nature of the unrelenting avalanche, hitting hard, fast, and like a force of nature. Like other Allegiance Abilities, your entire army will need to have the Beastlaw Raiders keyword to use them, and you can always fall back on using the regular Destruction Allegiance Abilities instead.

Battletraits

There are two Battletraits for the allegiance, the first of which is Beastclaw Stampede, when the Beastclaw Raiders charge, they may re-roll all to-wound rolls of a 1 for that combat phase. Not terribly bad considering how many attacks and wounds they can inflict, though it would be nicer to be on the to-hit roll. This ability insures that the attacks that do hit, will almost certainly wound.

Their second ability is The Everwinter’s Blessing, the magical ice storms that follow the Beastclaw tribes, which can freeze enemies where they stand. At the beginning of each turn you roll a D6 and consult a table to see the effect… The most common results will either allow you to re-roll saves of 1, or immediately move 3″. If you roll a 5-6 you will start freezing the enemy, and roll a dice for each enemy unit within 3″ of one of your Beastclaw Raiders, on a 6 they will either suffer D3 or D6 mortal wounds (depending on if you rolled a 5 or a 6 on the table).

Overall, their Battletraits are pretty decent, though they compete heavily with Rampaging Destroyers. Causing mortal wounds is nice, but I wouldn’t rely on it to cause significant damage, however the chance to re-roll 1′s for saves is handy for keeping your models alive longer, and the extra 3″ move is nice early in the game, while re-rolling saves and causing damage is better after turn 2.

Command Traits

The Beastclaw Raiders Command Traits reflect the nature of a bellowing tyrant atop his favored hunting steed, and actually covers a wide variety of options. The Command Traits that stick out the most to me are Everwinter’s Master, which allows you to re-roll the Everwinter’s Blessing, potentially making that chart a bit more useful, Avalanche Voice which adds 8″ to your Command Abilities (handy on the Frostlord especially), and Massive Bulk for that extra wound. The others are a bit too situational, making them less likely to be useful every game.

Trophies of the Alfrostuns

The artefacts of the Beastclaw Raiders are pretty well varied, most of which actually seem pretty solid and usable. The Tokens of the Everwinter are a great example, they’re one-use only, and until your next hero phase, your Hero will re-roll all to-hit, to-wound, and save rolls, a great choice if you’re facing the potential of a double turn for the enemy, and if used on a Frostlord in cover, will make him incredibly difficult to shift until you regain the initiative. The Ice Mammoth Skull Plate can also make him insanely difficult to hurt, allowing you to re-roll all saves against Rend ‘-’ weapons. Because Beastclaw Characters aren’t hard enough to kill, there is a third item which can be used to make you tougher, the Pelt of Chargnar, which has a 50/50 chance to heal you for either 1 wound, or D3 wounds each of your Hero phases. The last few items include an Elixir to cause mortal wounds to the opponent at a 9″ range, an item to allow you to unbind a spell (which is the only source of unbinding in Beastclaw Raiders), and a magic item that increases the damage of one of your melee weapons by 1 and forces enemy heroes and monsters to be the last unit to activate in a combat phase. Overall, the best artefacts are based around improving the survivability of your characters, which is really ugly when on a monster that halves the amount of damage it takes with a 3+ save…

Destruction Allegiance Abilities

I didn’t want to skip out on the fact that as a Destruction allegiance, the Beastclaw Raiders (at least as of the first General’s Handbook) can take the generic Destruction Allegiance Abilities. Rampaging Destroyers is an amazing tool early in the game for Beastclaw Raiders, giving you an extra D6″ boost, ensuring that you are across the board by turn 2, and improving your odds of turn 1 charges. Their Command Traits are also fantastic for Beastclaw Raiders, especially Bellowing Tyrant, which will give a unit within D6″ +1 to hit, compensating for the Allegiance’s poor to-hit rolls on many models. Artefact-wise, the obvious choice is Battle Brew, which is absolutely devastating on any form of Stornehorn, and frankly will likely be nerfed (my guess is affecting the rider only). In the meantime, it’s a hard sell to use the Beastclaw Allegiance Abilities over the raw power of Battle Brew, and when you’re running a Battalion, doubling up on Battle Brew is just crazy.

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Beastclaw Raider Warscroll Battalions

Jorlbad

One of the two standard battalions, the Jorlbad represents the spearhead of the Beastclaw Raiders army. A very playable battalion consisting of a Huskard on Stonehorn, 1-3 Stonehorn Beastriders and 2-4 Mournfang Packs, the Jorlbad specializes in getting close to the enemy as quickly as possible. Jorlbad units are able to run and charge in the same turn (though Stonehorn could already do this), additionally, any Jorlbad units within 12″ of the Huskard can also re-roll failed battleshock tests (also for the Mournfang). When combined with Rampaging Destroyers, you end up with Mournfang that can charge up to 33″, with an average of 23″, or up to 30″ with an average of 20″ if you get the right Everwinter’s Blessing result. This is one of the cheapest battalions in the game, reduces the number of drops in your army, and makes sure you reach the enemy very quickly. Almost always the staple of my list building, the Jorlbad is tons of fun on the battlefield, and the second magic item (more brew!) is very welcome.

Eurlbad

The second standard battalion, with an identical composition to the Jorlbad. These guys pack an even harder hitting punch than normal, causing additional mortal wounds to the enemy on any to-wound rolls of 6+ in the combat phase, and to take it a step further, the Huskard adds 1 damage to all of his melee weapons (not sure if this applies to the mount). Overall, a pretty solid battalion, and one of the more reliable sources of inflicting mortal wounds outside of a Thundertusk.

Torrbad

If you really, really like Thundertusks, then the Torrbad was made for you. Comprising of a Huskard on Thundertusk, 3-9 Thundertusk Beastriders, and 0-3 Icefall Yhetees, this wall of freezing fat and fur is bound to make some frowns among your friends. When you get up-close with the enemy, you make it so that they cannot retreat, additionally you roll a dice for each enemy unit within 3″ of a Torrbad unit, adding 1 for each additional Torrrbad unit within 3″ of the unit, if you roll a 6 or more, you’ll cause either a mortal wound, D3 mortal wounds, or even D6 mortal wounds. All of that freezing sounds nice, but if your Thundertusks are that close to the enemy, it does mean that you’re in combat, not exactly the ideal place for these snowball tossing behemoths.

Skal

My second favorite Battalion in the Beastclaw Raiders, the Skal is a group of Hunters and their Frost Sabres. This battalion allows the Sabres to ambush alongside the Hunters, setting up when they do, within 18″ of the hunter, but not within 9″ of the enemy. Combined with Rampaging Destroyers, or Everwinter’s Blessing, you can then move up D6″ or 3″, getting well within charge range (don’t forget they get +3″ to their charge when near a Hunter). When held back until turn 2-3, you can often open up a spot in the enemy line to charge through, or set up on an important objective (great for Gift from the Heavens). The Skal adds a bit of utility and surprise to an otherwise straightforward army.

Alfrostun

The generic combi-battalion of the Beastclaw, which you are unlikely to see in Matched Play, it consists of a Frostlord, Jorlbad, Eurlbad, Torrbad, and a Skal, and allows you to re-roll all to-wound rolls on the charge. It’s not bad, but really reserved for very high point games. Overall, I would rather run one of the two themed Alfrostun, they all gain the full benefits of the regular Alfrostun (when maxed out), but will just have to take a couple extra Stonehorn/Mournfang, and lets face it, if you’re playing that big of a game, you probably don’t need to conserve the points.

Olwyr Alfrostun

The smallest of the combi-detachments, the Olwyr weighs in at a minimum 1940 points, making it actually usable in Matched play! The downside however is that you’re using a Frostlord on Thundertusk, as well as an Eurlbad (not Jorlbad), and have basically no options for list building (either stay 60 points under for the Triumph, or take 2 Frost Sabres). The bonuses you get are fairly interesting though, gaining a second Command Trait for your general, re-rolling 1′s to-hit for the Mournfang Tusks, and being able to re-roll run dice (though you can’t run and charge with Mournfang in the Eurlbad). Additionally, since you have 2 Warscroll Battalions, you’re generating 3 Artefacts, though only have 2 Heroes to put them on. Overall, I would pass on this in games of 2k, and most likely continue to pass in games of 2500 points.

Svard Alfrostun

Essentially a self-written 2500 point army, and probably my preferred list for 2500 points, the Svard is a powerhouse of an army. Led by a Frostlord on Stonehorn, and also containing a Jorlbad with 3-9 Stonehorn, the Svard at minimum has 5 Stonehorn in the army. They only have one bonus ability, but it gives all of your Stonehorn models an additional wound, which combined with Massive Bulk can mean your Frostlord will have a whopping 15 to chew through (remember, that’s almost effectively 30 wounds). They do have their own bonus magic item, which gives a 5+ save against Mortal Wounds, but really, that’s not why you’re taking this, you’re taking this because you love Stonehorn.

Braggoth’s Beasthammer

A newer trend among the Battletomes, Braggoth’s Beasthammer is a Warscroll Battalion that combines both Beastclaw Raiders, and Ironjawz. Braggoth himself is a Frostlord on Stonehorn, and he is accompanied by two units of Gore-gruntas, and two units of Mournfang. The special abilities of the Battalion grant an extra wound to Braggoth, any Beastclaw unit in the battalion gains +1 to hit so long as they’re within 6″ of an Ironjawz unit, and vice versa. Finally, and probably the biggest bonus is that once per game, you can call a stampede, which lets any unit that charged pile in and attack for a second time at the end of the combat phase. It is a bit weird running Gore-Gruntas in a Beastclaw army, but this is a pretty fun Battalion. The only downside is that you’ll still need an additional unit of Mournfang, or a Beastrider to fulfill your minimum Battleline requirement.

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Beastclaw Army Lists

I’m personally a big fan of the reliable Stonehorn. It doesn’t have the alpha-strike potential of the Thundertusk, but they’re incredibly resilient, fast, and hard hitting… everything I adore about the Beastclaw Raiders. Because of this, you’ll notice the Stonehorn as the cornerstone of most of my lists.

1000 Points

At 1000 points, it gets pretty tricky, and you don’t end up with a ton of options. The Huskard and Mournfang though work well together, with a bit of synergy from the Huskard’s Line-breakers ability. This small army epitomizes the feel of Beastclaw Raiders charging head first into the enemy to make a dent.

Leaders
Huskard on Stonehorn (380)
- General
- Trait: Big and Brutish
- Artefact: Battle Brew

Battleline
2 x Mournfang Pack (200)
2 x Mournfang Pack (200)
2 x Mournfang Pack (200)

Total: 980/1000

2000 Points

My current favorite 2000 point list, much like my 1000 point list, the obvious plan is to charge the enemy and smash them to bits. It’s straight forward and efficient, spending little time or effort on fiddly things like Thundertusks and Yhetees. That’s not to say you can’t make a good list with those, I just prefer to bash the enemy off the board before they know what hit them.

Leaders
Frostlord on Stonehorn (460)
- General
- Trait: Bellowing Tyrant
- Artefact: Battle Brew
Huskard on Stonehorn (380)
- Artefact: Battle Brew
Icebrow Hunter (160)

Battleline
2 x Mournfang Pack (200)
2 x Mournfang Pack (200)
2 x Mournfang Pack (200)
Stonehorn Beastriders (360)

Battalions
Jorlbad (20)

Total: 1980/2000

Another concept I’ve been playing with lately, though haven’t had a chance to get on the table, was to run a large number of Mournfang. They get a bit of a bad rap, overshadowed by their bigger brutish friends, Mournfang are quite fast and resilient by any other standards, plus pack a mean punch with their Gargant Hackers. Taking a pair of Huskard on Stonehorn means that with only two activations in the Combat Phase, you’ve attacked with nearly every unit in your army. The downside is that this list has a fairly high number of drops for Beastclaw Raiders, making it more risky for dictating the first turn order.

Leaders
Huskard on Stonehorn (380)
- General
- Trait: Bellowing Tyrant
Huskard on Stonehorn (380)
- Artefact: Battle Brew

Battleline
4 x Mournfang Pack (400)
4 x Mournfang Pack (400)
4 x Mournfang Pack (400)

Total: 1960/2000

2500 Points

The pièces de résistance, of unadulterated Stonehorn brutality, at 2500 points I get to take 5 of these hard-hitting monsters. Initially the list was written as a Svard, and still wouldn’t be a bad choice, though by getting rid of the Svard bonuses, you’re able to fit in a Hunter, giving you a very valuable utility piece… Or you could go all out, drop him and a Mournfang pack to take a 4th Stonehorn Beastrider!

Leaders
Frostlord on Stonehorn (460)
- General
- Trait: Bellowing Tyrant
- Artefact: Battle Brew
Huskard on Stonehorn (380)
- Artefact: Battle Brew
Icebrow Hunter (160)

Battleline
2 x Mournfang Pack (200)
2 x Mournfang Pack (200)
Stonehorn Beastriders (360)
Stonehorn Beastriders (360)
Stonehorn Beastriders (360)

Battalions
Jorlbad (20)

Total: 2500/2500

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Digestif

So there you have it, the Beastclaw Raiders. As you can tell, even when you try and make a horde-like army, you will still have very few models y comparison. The Beastclaw Raiders are THE army that hits hard and fast in Age of Sigmar. They are not as much a glass cannon, as much as they are an iron sledgehammer. There is little in the way of subtlety to their strategy, though you cannot be totally careless. Picking the right order to fight your combats in is necessary, similarly knowing how to mitigate enemy double turns. If totally unsupported the units can be singled out and picked off, and it is crucial that you keep your eye on the prize. Objectives are difficult to capture, even more difficult to defend when your army only has a dozen or fewer models.

About Adam B

An avid player of Infinity (Ariadna & Combined), Age of Sigmar (Destruction), Heavy Gear Blitz (Northern Coalition), plus Blood Bowl (Humans)! I've been in this hobby for 20 years, and have played more games than I care to admit.