Sons of Behemat: A Review of the Preview

“Freedom is being in charge of your own destruction”

~ Lindsay Lohan’s Last Fan

Well Preview III was the one we were all waiting for!  At 11pm Saturday night, Melbourne time, we got a good look at the new Gargants and learned a little more about them.  The Sons of Behemat Whatsapp was going haywire as you would imagine, and we got plenty of visual on the models.  Let’s take a look both at the army, and where they fit into the wider game.

The Models

gatebreaker
Gatebreaker
warstomper
Kraken Eater
kraken-eater
Warstomper

Holy Guacamole!  These boys are THICC.  As predicted, GW have done a great job tying in with the existing Aleguzzler aesthetic, while thoroughly modernising them.  One quirk of the old Aleguzzler models was they had wide hips, which is echoed in the new guys; I also like that the sculptors have ran with the three fingers and toes, which I just love because it makes them something subtly different than just “big humans”.

My own favourite aesthetically is probably the Executioner, not least because he reminds me of the old Bragg the Gutsman model, which I’ve had a lot of fun running as my Tyrant over the years. 

 

What I really love is that people all have their own favourites, rather than there being a single, obvious standout.

One note of caution is how distinct they might end up looking on the tabletop, since their status as a single kit is pretty evident from the waist down in particular.  Will multiples of these guys will look too similar in practice?  We’ll have wait and see, but I’m pretty optimistic, because the top-half poses (and associated bling) vary significantly between each model.

In terms of size and stature, there are a few comparisons floating around, but the best one I’ve seen is this piece of art from Ibere Machado (@minimute on Insta):

IMG-20200423-WA0002

Ibere has gone to paintstaking lengths in Photoshop to measure and scale everything based on the one official size comparison we did get (Mega Gargant vs Aleguzzler).  In the background we can see a grey-scale image of how big the Mega Gargant would be if the broken skull from the OBR base was to scale, so somewhere in that range looks like a solid bet.  Great work Ibere!

I think they look fantastic, and Twitter duly lost its shit: these things are going to sell like crazy.

How the Army Works

Honestly – I dunno, and the preview left us none the wiser.  This really was an unabashed preview of the models rather than the rules, and that’s fair enough – if you were expecting them to read the Battletome cover to cover, that was probably an unreasonable expectation. 

I have no problem with that – but although it does leave a lot of unanswered questions, there was one area of their rules that they did discuss and focus on.

Unanswered Questions

The big one is – is there a big one? 

There was no mention of any other models to come, nor even an implication along the lines of “let’s take a look at the first lot of models”.  Taking this at face value, the Battletome would be a pamphlet based on 2 kits, which is a little thin to put it mildly.  Smarter people than I have pointed out that this Rumour Engine item didn’t crop up in the reveal:

Gutplate

Here’s hoping that this is a looted gutplate from King Brodd’s kit, rather than just a bit on one of the sprues for the Gargants that were already revealed. 

Looking at the size of the model, they are a fair bit smaller than the Bonegrinder, so there’s room in the range (both visually and rules-wise) for a big daddy giant.  Let’s hope that it just hasn’t been revealed yet, although to be honest I’m not counting on it.

Aleguzzlers were referred to indirectly as being part of the army, but we don’t have any indication whether the Bonegrinder’s Warscroll will be updated on the FW website.  Worst-case scenario, you could slap him on a 130mm base and use him in the army as a stand-in for one of the new guys – he certainly wouldn’t have any trouble filling up the larger base – but I really would have liked their status to at least get a mention.

The Mercs Question

The one rules area that was focussed on and discussed was that you can take a new Gargant in any army – not just Destruction GA.  In fact, pretty much the only way that using them was discussed on stream was in the context of the presenters using them in their Order armies. 

Now I’m not blaming the hosts for that – if you told me Gunhaulers could be used in any GA and shoved a mic in my face, I’d start talking about converting them up and using them in Destruction.  But as a message about the focus of this release, I’m not sure how keen I am on that. 

If I was a betting man, I’d say that this will be along the lines of Gotrek – they can be Allies in any army even if they are over 400 points, and take up your whole Allies slot on their own.  The key difference being that we now know that unlike the Wee Man, they are open to the entire game, and not just their own GA.  Hmmm.

“Why don’t you want other GAs to have access? That’s just petty”

Yep, I can’t really disagree with that.  But pettiness is not the only (or even the main) reason why I’m a bit cautious about that development. 

There has been a fair bit of debate on this point in the community, so let me explain how I personally feel about that and why.  If we take a bit of time to cover that, bear in mind that they also took a bit of time to cover it in the Preview, which is what makes it relevant.

The Fluff

It doesn’t really fit the fluff. The Celestant Prime murdered Behemat. Sigmar murdered his father. Sure, you can make up a story about “your” Gargant being a slave, which would certainly fit the crypto-Fascist theme of Order as “empire builders, colonists and settlers”:

What’s more, I can imagine that the book will give context to the death of Ymnir; for example maybe he was duped or enslaved by Chaos, so the tragic story of Godbeasts was a case of history repeating itself. 

Regardless, if the main way in which Sons of Behemat see the tabletop is acting as stooges within Order armies, I think that will be a little bit sad.

The Long Game

As the proud owner of a Gotrek model, every time a new Order book is released, I keep half an eye on it, since I already automatically own 25%+ of the army in that one model.  I’ve never made the jump to play outside of Destruction, but that doesn’t mean I never would – I do like other armies (loads of them), it’s just that when push comes to shove, I don’t like them quite as much as orcs.

Similarly with Stormcast Eternals, they are the most-supported faction in the game by a long shot.  It’s not just because of the number of Battletomes and releases they’ve had; they also get constant exposure and an automatic installed base through their inclusion in starter set after starter set. 

Crucially, people are nudged to cross-pollinate through their Allies status.  Stormcast can be taken as Allies for the whole of their (huge) GA, and get special status in Cities of Sigmar armies to boot.  A lot of people end up owning Stormcast models almost by accident, and once you have some, they are the gateway into building up a full SC army, or (importantly) a gateway into starting any new Order army, since you already have a head start.

Sons of Behemat is a huge launch for Destruction, and could have brought a lot of new players into the Destruction ecosystem.  People would buy the New Shiny either because they wanted the model, or to do a full army; and they then have a big headstart on every Destro release coming out in the future. Without being locked into Destruction GA, there’s less reason to expand into a whole army and join the Destruction family.  This in turn perpetuates the whole feedback loop of “why give them releases when they don’t sell”, because they haven’t been put in a position to succeed.

Or looking at it another way: We’re being punished for a lack of historical support by receiving a lack of present support, which impacts the likelihood of receiving future support. 

So it’s not (just) me being petty here, there are specific and real reasons why this is not an unambiguously good thing for the future of the armies I love.

“It’s just smart business, they want to sell a lot of these”

Of course.  And who would blame them for that?  Not me. 

I want GW to be successful financially; I want them to thrive, to keep generating funds that they can reinvest in hiring extra staff including rules writers (like they have been), so that they can keep creating and expanding the great worlds that we all enjoy so much. 

I want Sons of Behemat to be a huge commercial success, as I’m sure they will be.  But at the same time, there are competing imperatives for what will make this a successful launch long-term that need to be considered.

On the one hand, having a broad portfolio of armies each with their own distinct character is healthy for the whole game and makes the setting that much more rich.  

What’s more, by structuring Sons as open to any army, you also make it easy for people to buy one model (as an Ally) instead of three models (as an army).  

But at the same time, they also don’t want another Gorkamorka on their hands, which (rumour has it), almost bankrupted the company back in the day.

So there is a balancing act here, and it’s a fucking difficult one.  

Now, I believe these things would have sold in huge volumes regardless, but I am of course wildly biased.  And I do think that GW deserves some credit here, given that AOS is a hugely successful system.  So although it’s not the decision I would have made, I have to accept that opening Sons up to other armies was the right decision made for the right reasons. 

Think of it like an artist who works flipping burgers to pay the bills, which in turn allows them to create true beauty on their own terms. 

And yes, in this example, playing Order armies is like flipping burgers.  Accept it.

Where will the power sit?

What I’m really interested to see is whether the true power sits on the Warscrolls, or in the Allegiance.  It can go either way.

To use one example, when Triple-Kipper Slaanesh was a dominant force, you still didn’t see Keepers getting allied into every Chaos army under the sun.  Why not?  Because their true power lay in the Allegiance – they needed Locus and Depravity Points to truly shine.

On the flipside, look at Gunhaulers.  Their Fly High rule is baked into their Warscroll (as opposed to being a KO Battle Trait), so they can be Allied into Fyreslayers (for example) and still do what you need them to do.

This is where the comparison to Knights in 40K falls over.  In 40K, you can throw in a detachment of Knights, and they bring the bells and whistles with them – Allegiance Abilities are determined on a detachment by detachment level, not an army level. 

So there’s no downside to putting Knights in with a heap of Imperial Guard, or Blood Angels – compared to pure Knights, it’s just better.  That’s not the case in AOS – not having access to any Allegiance Abilities can be a significant brake on the effectiveness of some units.

I know what I’d prefer – I want this to feel like a proper army, moreso than Mercs with a pamphlet tacked on.  My gut feel is that this will prove to be the case: Sons will need bonuses to durability, movement and scoring objectives to compete as an elite army, and my bet is that those perks will be mostly locked into the Allegiance kit.  I look forward to finding out more.

The TL:DR

Some people who are excited about this army weren’t delighted about them being open to all GAs.  Others found that perspective hard to identify with, so hopefully this post has helped to articulate why some of us had those misgivings.

But let’s take a step back here.  GW could have just chosen to make the new Gargants nothing but Mercs, rather than giving us a Destruction Battletome at the heart of the release. 

They could have just not done this army at all, skipped it and done Malerion’s Shadow Aelves. 

The fact is, GW have chosen to give us an army of Giants, and that’s something really special.

If they made the judgment that the way to make that work commercially was with the Mercs / Allies thing, then you know what?  I can live with that. 

It might not have been my own first choice, but sometimes we just have to be grown-ups about these things – even when it’s toy soldiers we’re talking about.

Now…how about that King Brodd model please?

Until we see The Big Fella – May Gork bring you strength, may Mork bring you wisdom.

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