Sons of Behemat: Battletome Analysis and Review Guide

You know why I love playing Destruction? Because I want to be King Fucking Kong, not the dickhead in a biplane. Nothing – nothing – in the game has the same potential for rule of cool, rule of epic, rule of pure fun as a whole army of giants, but gianter. I’m all in. Does the book deliver on that promise?

Well the week leading up to the review embargo being lifted was quite the rollercoaster on social media; but now Man has Read Book, and the full rules are out in the public domain. The purpose of this article is not to regurgitate the contents of the book: there are plenty of other people who received review copies and then essentially keyed them back in for you, so there’s no value to be added by me paraphrasing what they’ve already done.

So rather than covering the same ground, what I’ll be doing over the course of a series of articles this week is sharing my thoughts on the structure of the book, and steering you towards some of the excellent coverage that is already out there. In forthcoming articles I’ll be jumping into each Tribe with some initial list building archetypes and how the army might go about winning games. And I’ll wrap it all up with a final article reflecting on what I believe went well, and what perhaps went less well with the release.

Ready? Let’s go.


The Lore

Honestly…I dunno, but if I was a gambling man, I’d say it will be excellent. The Battletome lore for Destruction books is consistently engaging and imaginative, and it really shines through that the writers have a true affection and affinity for these armies.

As the proud owner of God Beasts, I’m keen to know what the Sons’ relationship with Order is like (seeing as the Celestant Prime murdered Behemat himself, and Sigmar murdered his father), and even how they view and interact with Aleguzzlers. But that will have to wait until I’ve got the book in hand; for today, it’s the rules we’re focussing on….


The Art

…But not just yet. I can’t skip past the fact that there has been some sensational artwork revealed for this army already. When I was a kid, staring at the classic Space Marine epics for ages was one of the things that hooked me into the hobby, and I can definitely imagine a new generation of Megabosses being lured in by this. Truly epic.


How Sons Work

Once it became apparent that Mega Gargants could be allied outside of Destruction, I had two wishes:

  • That the Warscrolls were only OK
  • That the Allegiance kit was exceptional

It’s quite a different prospect to have a big, ass-kicking centrepiece surrounded by 100 Skinks or 100 Marauders. In Sons, when you’ve got nowhere else to, you need the big boys to really carry the water. How did that turn out?

The way this book functions is actually more in line with a standard book than you might expect. Each Mega Gargant has their own Tribe; to use that Tribe, that particular genre of Mega must be your General. There is no option to go without a Tribe, and no table of generic artefacts, so if you take a Breakers Tribe (for example) you will never be able to give a Warstomper an artefact.

Honestly, I think that’s pretty lame. For an army with a wafer-thin number of Warscrolls, I did find it surprising that the structure of the book seeks out ways to limit your choices further, rather than finding creative ways to give you free reign and customization tools.

Speaking of Warscrolls, there are four of them. Yep. One of each Mega Gargant, and the Mancrusher (which is a repurposing of the existing Aleguzzler kit). This is also weaker than it needed to be, because the Battletome could easily have included named character versions for example, or multiple Mancrusher variants based on how they are equipped.

There are no Battalions in this book, so no way of getting extra CPs and Artefacts, and no extra Battalion rules to layer onto what you already have. You’ll get one Artefact that is keyword-locked to your Tribe, one CT and that’s your lot. Let’s hope the Battle Trait and Tribe rules are amazing.

The Warscrolls

As teased on the Community site, all of the big boys get 35 wounds on a 4+ save:

This might sound like a lot compared to other big monsters, but that’s not really a fair or relevant comparison. A Terrorgheist, or a Maw Krusha, or a Carnosaur, or a Griffon does not have to carry the water for the whole army: they can have units of troops in front of and around them, often summoning extras where needed. But these guys are your army: they’re the only thing that your opponents have to focus on, and they can only be in one place at a time. In that context, 35 wounds is a baseline expectation rather than generous.

Also worth commenting on is that their melee output in general is poor. Vince has done a good job of breaking it down on Warhammer Weekly (link below), and the maths didn’t change much for the Megas even with the full suite of rules. I won’t go back over old ground, but those facts do inform a lot of what’s to come.

Common Rules

We’ll look at each variant more specifically in the context of their Tribe, but there are a couple of common themes to explore first. Every Mega has a special rule that means they can’t be insta-jibbed, and instead takes D6 Mortal Wounds, which is nice to have but only really an edge case. They all can splash some Mortal Wounds on the charge, and all crush individual models, which is superb for breaking coherency or removing unit banners and the like.

They also get the Longshanks rule on their Warscroll:

This weak version of Fly is so badly undercooked that it’s important not to skip over just how bad it is. Let me break it down:

  • It’s impossible to skip over even the smallest of screens. By definition, you need to start your move 3″ away from enemies (unless you are retreating), so even a single model on a 25mm base will stop you getting over the top by the time you lug that base across (3″ buffer + 25mm base + 3″ buffer at the other side + 130mm base = 12.10″ of required movement, whereas your fastest Mega moves only 12″)
  • It doesn’t work in the charge phase or pile in phase (they aren’t (normal moves”), so you can’t leap over the top of a screen even if you get a good charge
  • Endless Spells do not have a Wounds characteristic of 10 or less (they do not have a Wounds characteristic at all), so you can be blocked in place and completely unable to do anything by the likes of Shackles

Just about the only use for this will be retreating onto an objective, which while still welcome, is pretty fucking weak relative to how the rule might have read at first look.

Next up we have Timberrrrr!:

Urgh. Could we not have just been allowed to have a fun thing to do with our own big, expensive model? Memo to the rules writers: this kind of RNG crap is not “fun”, nor is a D6 damage weapon. Please, enough whacking us with the “fun” stick.

Another constant across the Tribes is the Mancrushers. These are essential as Battleline (there’s no 4 Big Boy Tribe), but I wouldn’t go as far as calling them a tax: the Warscroll is a significant upgrade over the Aleguzzler, albeit that’s starting from a low base.

Perhaps the biggest improvement is that you no longer fall over when you roll a double to charge: these guys are military-minded warriors, not drunken idiots shambling around. That’s been replaced by the ability to run and charge when a Mega is nearby. Hell yeah! Well that is quite the improvement.

Their melee output, on the other hand, underwhelms. Their random number of attacks has been switched to a static number, which is a welcome change, albeit the conversion rate was not a generous one. Their main profile starts with 10 attacks and rend -1 damage 1. Damage 1 is honestly quite puny for a Giant (almost to the extent of being immersion-breaking), so let’s hope that gets significantly better in Allegiance.

They do have a small amount of MW output on the charge (D3 if you roll well enough), the classic spiky attacks from ‘Eadbutt and Mighty Kick, and the (excellent) opportunity to pluck out models if you roll at least double their wounds characteristic.

Five separate lines on their damage chart seems frankly ridiculous for a 12-wound model, and with a measly 5+ save they will go down like a sack of shit. Underpowered and easy to kill, but reasonably fast and great at scoring objectives. The Mancrushers are in some ways a pretty interesting proposition, as long as the rest of the army’s rules can deliver the output and durability they can’t.


Battle Trait

You get two things here: bonuses to capture Objectives, and a trash-tier shooting attack on one single model.

The former is outstanding, and essential to make the army in any way playable. Big boys count as 20, babies count as 10, and that’s us off to a great start. Already ticking that box for the Gargants being way better inside Allegiance than out of it.

The latter is garbage: D3 shooting attacks, hitting on 4s really is wafer thin. There are ways to buff it in one specific Tribe, but in general it does precious little for the army.

Worst of all, there’s no inherent survivability bonuses for playing in Allegiance. I would argue that this is probably the key weakness in the book, and puts a hard ceiling on how this army will perform: not just how many tournaments people will be winning with them, but how many close, exciting fun games you will have, and even how often you will just avoid being tabled by Round 3.


The Tribes

Sons are coming at you in three flavours, one for each Big Boy. These are definitely thematic and push you towards a distinctive playstyle, but are also weirdly restrictive.

Each Tribe unlocks 6 Command Traits, of which the first three are common to all. The pick of these generic choices is an extra 5 wounds, taking your General up to 40 wounds overall, and it’s certainly something I’d consider in any Sons army.

One common theme is that any given Tribe will actively lock other Megas out from taking their own keyworded artefacts, so there’s little to no incentive to mix and match your Megas. From a hobby viewpoint, this is a crying shame, because we all want to see “one of each” on the table; from a theme perspective, it makes no sense, because if any army should have agency in its heroes, it’s this one. Running two different types of Mega Gargant is hardly some kind of Grand Alliance soup army.

There’s also no Tribe that allows you to run nothing but nothing but Megas, so you will always need at least three of the (divisive) old Aleguzzler kits, which is also a shame. But when we come to take a look at the individual Tribes, you’ll see that there is some real juice in there, and some pretty exciting and thematic rules.


Summary

So there you have it, that’s a wrap on the army-wide rules and Warscrolls. There is some solid gold in there – particularly the bonuses to capping Objectives – but I’m honestly pretty nervous about the lack of both punch and durability in the army.

I can cope with an army being underdone and underpowered (although I’d obviously rather not), but it does feel a little sad that these guys are a million miles away from the rampaging powerhouses that they should feel like to play.

The good news is that the Tribes which we’ll be exploring next do layer on some really interesting rules, so all is not lost. I’ve bought into this army, I’m playing this army, and I’m not someone who is in the habit of chucking in the towel when GW sets Destruction to Hard Mode.

Let’s see what we can come up with, hey?


Content Guide

Let’s wrap up today’s article by pulling together the best content that’s already out there. There are podcasts, blog posts, YouTube reviews, unboxings and batreps all over the internet, and the book isn’t even out yet…what a time to be alive!

YouTube

First up, Warhammer Weekly has served up an analysis of what kind of damage output you can expect from Sons, along with a typically enlightening discussion of ludonarrative dissonance. Fair warning, it makes for some pretty grim viewing from a Sons perspective; and although it was broadcast before the whole book was out, I think it still stands up. Keep an eye out for their full book review in a week or two.

Where would we be without Man Reads Book? If you want the scoop, without any obfuscation or bullshit, here’s the place to go.


Next up, we have Dark Artisan, who have performed a huge service to the community with this excellent magnetizing video. Great to see somebody do something actually insightful and useful with their free review kit.

Websites

40K big fish Goonhammer have been expanding their AOS side, and are off to a flying start. Check out their full review here:

https://www.goonhammer.com/battletome-review-sons-of-behemat/

Next we have Sprues and Brews, a good reference source to swot up on the rules before you get the book:

https://spruesandbrews.com/2020/10/10/sons-of-behemat-battletome-review-and-mega-gargant-unboxing-warhammer-age-of-sigmar/

And finally 1d4chan have posted an excellent piece on the finite number of combinations you can fit into 2000 points:

https://1d4chan.org/wiki/Age_of_Sigmar/Tactics/Destruction/Sons_of_Behemat#2000_points


So check out the links above, and join me tomorrow as we start deep diving into the Tribes, and looking at some specific lists and tech.

Until then: May Gork bring you strength, may Mork bring you wisdom.

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