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Warhammer Beastmen Brayherds - The Old World lore and gameplay

Step lightly in the forests of the Old World, where Beastmen Brayherds lurk in their teeming masses - here’s what you should know.

A Warhammer Beastmen champion with purple red skin and great horns brays in triumph

The Warhammer Beastmen are a twisted melding of man and beast, brought about by the power of Chaos. The Beastmen Brayherds are true children of Chaos that exist only to tear down bastions of order, spreading across the Old World like a plague of horns, hooves, and matted hair. This guide will introduce you to Beastmen lore, their model range, and how they play on the tabletop.

If your heart quails at the thought of this primal desecration, we have guides to the other Old World factions that may better suit your temperament: the errant knights of Bretonnia, the mountain holds of the Warhammer Dwarfs, and wrathful Wood Elves, for example. We also have useful guides to the Old World rules, including to the Old World combat phase – the Beastmen’s favorite place to be.

Here’s what you need to know about the Warhammer: The Old World Beastmen Brayherds:

Warhammer Beastmen - a muscular humanoid with the head of a goat, wearing a necklace of bones

Beastmen lore

Some races who make the Old World their home arose naturally in its earliest history. Others arrived from the stars on board the Old Ones’ arcane vessels powered by forgotten magicks. Yet more, like the Elves, Dwarfs, and Men, were created by the Old Ones to help advance their great plan. The genesis of the Beastmen, however, was a terrible accident.

Long ago, the Old Ones built great gateways into the Realm of Chaos at the poles of the Old World to access that strange dimension’s magical power. But the gods of Chaos did not appreciate this intrusion into their domain, and worked to undermine the gateways, until at last they collapsed.

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Warpstone, raw magic in its crystalised form, spewed out across the world, corrupting everything it touched with spontaneous change. In the deep forests, the ancestors of man began to meld and mutate, becoming one with the beasts that they lived alongside.

Thus, the Beastmen were born. For millennia since they have raided and made war upon the civilised races, never truly organised except for their hatred of anything orderly. No-one knows how many Beastmen exist in the Old World but their attacks are felt everywhere, ambushing travellers and merchant caravans. Their camps can be found anywhere Man once roamed, and children are taught to fear the wilds.

True creatures of Chaos, the Beastmen rarely cooperate in social groups larger than raiding ‘Warherds’. Even these have a tendency to tear themselves apart through bloody squabbles over territory, riches, or the Chaos gods’ dark whims. On occasion, however, the Warherds can unite behind a single chieftain in a terrifying mass of overwhelming force – the Brayherd.

Warhammer Beastmen - a humanoid creature with a goats head holds aloft a sword and the head of a vanquished rival

When a chieftain receives a vision, he begins to summon the Brayherd by crafting a colossal pyre that is visible for leagues. Each Warherd that sees the conflagration will make a pilgrimage towards it, their leaders assembling to challenge the upstart chieftain for the right to rule and direct the Brayherd. Bloody single combat determines the victor who will take the title of Beastlord and drive the Beastmen Brayherd down upon civilisation like a swarm of death.

The Beastmen do not wage war in an organised manner. Imagine an army of berserkers, all braying and stamping, clouds of dust and a thick animal musk in the air, and you’re halfway to imagining the true terror facing a Brayherd causes in their foes. Beside the Beastmen themselves, colossal Minotaurs, feral Centigors, and primordial Dragon Ogres also charge into the fray.

Despite their lack of intelligence and organisation, the Beastmen’s dark magic, great numbers, and sheer lust for battle are more than a match for most enemies. To face the Brayherd is to face death and the end of civilisation itself.

An army of Warhammer Beastmen clash with Lizardmen

Beastmen models

At time of writing, official Beastmen Brayherds models are in an awkward spot. Game Workshop recently removed the Warhammer Age of Sigmar Beasts of Chaos range from sale, with plans to repackage and release at least some of the models for use in The Old World, but we don’t yet know which.

With other factions, such as Orcs and Goblins, Games Workshop has announced the return of older models with a few new models peppered in. This is the most recent Beasts of Chaos miniature range available for Age of Sigmar, likely to return for the Beastmen Brayherds:

  • Beastlord
  • Centigors
  • Tuskgor Chariot
  • Jabberslythe
  • Ungors
  • Bestigors
  • Ungor Raiders
  • Gors
  • Dragon Ogors (Dragon Ogres)
  • Cygor
  • Ghorgon
  • Doombull
  • Cockatrice
  • Dragon Ogor Shaggoth
  • Bullgors (Minotaurs)

These units are all supported with rules in the Ravening Hordes rulebook for Warhammer: The Old World and will help form the backbone of your own Beastmen mob.

How to play Beastmen Brayherds in The Old World

If there’s one thing Beastmen Brayherds do better than almost any other army in The Old World, it’s hit hard. Light on ranged weapons but utterly deadly in close combat, Beastmen Brayherds are the epitome of a melee focused army that punishes anything that steps too near.

Warhammer Beastmen - ungors, lesser beastmen with furry legs and diminutive horns

Beastmen Ambushers

That isn’t to say they’re a simple army. Many Beastmen units and characters can be given the Ambushers special rule, meaning they can be held in reserve and deployed during the battle from the flank or even rear of the enemy army.

While every Brayherd wants to get into melee as soon as possible, the Ambushers rule gives you far more control over the time and place of your melee, rather than just lining up and marching towards your opponent.

One way to ensure your ill-disciplined rabble arrives in something like a fighting line is to choose a Beastman Beastlord or Wargor as your general. These Beastmen Chieftains bring a cacophonous Brayhorn with them. They can sound the Brayhorn by passing a Leadership test – this allows you to roll again for each unit of Ambushers that didn’t make it out of reserve.

A Warhammer Beastman champion roars in triumph in front of a huge army

Beastmen common rules

Most Beastmen are afflicted (or blessed) by Primal Fury. Each time the unit fights in melee, it makes a Leadership test. If it passes, it will be subject to Primal Fury and able to re-roll to hit rolls of a natural one. Since most beastmen infantry units are Warbands, an ability that gives them a bonus to Leadership equal to their rank bonus, the Primal Fury buff is quite reliable while your units are fresh.

The larger beastmen, like Gors, Bestigors, and Minotaurs also experience Blood Rage. Should they roll any doubles on their Leadership test for Primal Fury, they become afflicted by Blood Rage, and enter a state of pure frenzy. This gives them extra attacks and means they automatically pass panic checks, but forces them to declare charges at enemy units if they have an eligible target, and always pursue in combat. Once Beastmen join the fray they quickly become reckless.

Beastmen are sworn to Chaos Undivided (though we expect variants pledged to the different Warhammer Chaos gods will arrive in their Arcane Compendium). This lets them re-roll Fear, Panic, and Terror tests, making them hard to deter without breaking them outright in combat.

Warhammer beastmen - small ungors, powerful gors, and mighty bestigors, each with cloven hoofs and horns

Beastmen infantry

There are three main classes of Beastmen infantry. The smallest, Ungors, are as feeble as men, and typically fight as chariot runner skirmishers, or as ambushing ranged troops equipped with javelins or shortbows. They can distract enemy units and spoil their charges, and they’re able to move through without pentalty.

Gor Herds make up the majority of Brayherd forces – at least one unit is mandatory. They’re tough, with T4, but unarmored except for optional shields (and cannot gain the useful Shield Wall ability). Their Bestial Charge special rule means that when they charge at least 3” or more, they get +1S in the ensuing combat. Gors are also able to Ambush. They’re not a unit that takes a charge well, but they hit hard.

Bestigors are the largest of the regular beastmen. With S4, superior leadership than Gors, great weapons and heavy armor, they hit hard. They’re also a Close Order infantry unit, whereas Gors and Ungors can only be fielded as Open Order or Skirmisher troops. +1 combat resolution never hurts. The tradeoff is that Bestigors are too ponderous to ambush.

Minotaur Herds are similar to the lesser Beastmen, but bigger and tougher in every way. These colossal warriors excel in dealing damage, with a huge S5 and 3 Attacks. When they’re subject to frenzy (due to Blood Rage), they also have the Blood Greed special rule; they gain +2 attacks rather than the +1 as is standard, but because they will always pause to feed if they break an enemy during combat they will roll a pursuit roll of D6 instead of 2D6.

When Minotaur herds charge, the Bull-gors special rule means their Impact Hits have an AP of -1, and the Foe Render special rule grants them -1 AP on melee weapons while they’re in Primal Rage. Naturally, these monsters cause Fear. They’re also a Close Order unit, and they can even be upgraded to become ambushers. Nobody expects 6,000lb of prime beef in their flank.

An army of Warhammer beastmen advance

Beastmen ranged and magic

The Beastmen army is light on ranged units, with the exception of the Ungors we noted above. One way to deal with enemy firing lines is with cheap, fast moving units like flying Harpies or Chaos Warhounds which can flank the enemy force. Your opponent must either direct real forces to deal with them, or accept harassment in their back lines – either way, they’ll draw the pressure off your melee infantry.

As creatures of Chaos the Beastmen Brayherds have access to powerful magic. Beastmen Shamans don’t have access to the same winged mounts as other races, but they can ride in a Chariot for a 360 degree line of sight. They’re also not defenseless in combat, able to wield their Bray Staff as a great weapon or defensively for a 5+ armor save – and it can be worth sticking them into a unit of Gors or Bestigors so it can benefit from some of the Enchantment spells they may roll up.

Their three spell lores – Dark Magic, Daemonology, and Elementalism – all have a lot to recommend them, but to start with, try Daemonology. As well as a solid magic-missile signature spell and two excellent debuffs, it comes with Gathering Darkness. This extremely potent debuff reduces a target unit’s Leadership by two. That synergises with the Beastmen signature spell Devolve, a magic missile that forces a unit to make a leadership test and “lose wounds” for each point it fails by. If you want to double down on Devolve, the Manbane standard projects a 6” aura of -1 leadership: perfect to put on a unit of Ambushing Gors.

Alternatively, a Beastman shaman with the Hagtree fetish magic item becomes a lethal artillery piece. This grants rerolls to wound with magic missiles. The Beastmen signature spell Viletide is a magic missile that inflicts 5D6 S1 hits on an enemy unit with no armor saves allowed. As these will wound almost every unit on sixes, re-rolling your wound rolls will double its effectiveness – on average rolls it can kill five Knights (without Ward or Regeneration saves) in one attack.A massive Warhammer beastmen Cygor, a massive boulder-hurling monster with great horns and only one eye

When it comes to going big or going home, the Cygor has a good chance of sending your opponent packing. Costing a whopping 215 points and classed as a Behemoth, these giant Minotaur-esque creatures are Chaos made flesh. Their stat line is respectable, with S6, T5, W6, and 4 Attacks – but they’re primarily a front-line bruiser

Cygors come with the special Hurl Attack, which lets them heft a colossal stone and toss it at their foes. Acting like a stone thrower, with a 3” blast template and using the Bombardment rule, this long-range attack can smash foes into a fine paste. Should a Misfire be rolled the Cygor only takes a single Wound in damage as opposed to rolling on the Misfire Table.

If they do find themselves in melee, their Ghostsight ability lets them re-roll any failed rolls to hit enemy Wizards, opponents with magic items, or anything with Ward or Regeneration saves. Your foe thinks they’ve got a fancy spellcaster or a character sewn up with healing stuff? Think again, the Cygor is here.

Spellcasting is also tricky around a Cygor as their Soul-Eater ability takes effect. Should an enemy Wizard attempt to cast a spell within 12” of a Cygor, they must make a Leadership test. If the test is failed, and the Wizard subsequently fails to cast the spell, it automatically counts as a Miscast.

A great Warhammer Beastman lord with a whip and and blade

If you don’t have the patience to build and paint your own horde of unruly furbags, our guide to Total War: Warhammer III factions explains which DLC you need to unlock them in Immortal Empires mode.

If you have a hankering for Chaos but don’t want it to be quite so cloven-hoofed, check out our guide to the Old World Skaven army – about to receive a gorgeous model range update thanks to Age of Sigmar 4th edition.