“Hunt the Hunter”
“The Untamed Beasts” is the name of one of the two warbands in the starter set for Games Workshops’s new skirmish game Warcry. They are a good warband for beginners with reliable damage output, a good variety of fighter types and some spectacular abilities.
If you like hunting down your prey with a horned lion, pinning it down with a harpoon made of monster bones and swarming it with half-naked barbarians armed with primitive weapons, the Untamed Beasts might be your thing.
This short introduction takes you through their lore background, the fighters of the warband, their abilities, and a few tips on strategy and painting the models.
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Background and Lore of the Untamed Beasts Warband
The Untamed Beasts are originally from the Jagged Savannah in Ghur, the Realm of Beasts. At first glance, they might look like barbarians of the Noble Savage type with their tattoos and elements of native American aesthetics, but they are just as evil and chaos-obsessed as everyone else in the Bloodwind Spoil.
More than anything, the Untamed Beasts hate civilization. Buildings, governments, thing not made by tearing them off the dead carcass of a wild beast – it all needs to be destroyed in the name of the Great Devourer. For example, in the novella “The Great Devourer”, the Untamed Beast Thornwinder ends his ascension to leadership of his tribe with killing of his own kinsmen, because even just being loyal to your tribe is too civilized.
This means that the Iron Golems, the other Warband in the starter set, are the natural enemies of the Untamed Beasts, since they are governed by a strict hierarchy, build fortresses and forge weapons out of iron. The Cypher Lords, who live in great cities in Hysh and spread chaos through intrigue and intelligence, are another warband the Untamed Beasts would attack on sight.
The only thing that matters to Untamed Beasts is the raw fury of carnivorous animals, and they practice a form of shamanism where they adapt the strength and cunning of the beasts they hunt down in order to become stronger warriors. As such, their horned helmets and skull hats are more animal costumes than actual armor.
All in all, the Untamed Beasts have more in common with the Beasts of Chaos (formerly known as Beastmen) or with the Orruk Bonesplitterz than with any of the other Chaos factions, which is fitting as they come from Ghur, The Realm of Beasts.
Overview and Points for the Fighters in the Untamed Beasts Warband
Note: if you haven’t read the basic rules for Warcry before reading this article, it might be helpful to know that the game’s abilities are activated by using 6 dice that you roll at the start of your turn. If two of the dice show the same value, they can be used to activate a Double ability. If three show the same value, they can be used for a Triple ability, and so on. So, when this article refers to an ability being a Double, a Triple or a Quad, it refers to this system. It might sound a bit confusing, but takes no time to get used to when you start playing
Heart-Eater: 180 points
The Heart-Eater is the leader of your Warband. He does solid damage (4 attacks at 4 Strength with 2 damage and 5 critical damage), but he isn’t as powerful as the Thrallmaster of the Cypher Lords or the Blissful One of the Unmade.
He is, however, one of the cheapest leaders among the Chaos Warbands, which lets you field more fighters overall. He also has a cheap (Double) ability, All-out Attack, that lets him make a bonus attack action after slaying an enemy fighter. You can almost always use it since it’s only a Double, and it’s great for clearing out mobs of enemies with low Toughness and Wounds.
First Fang: 140 points
The First Fang is the Brute of the Untamed Beasts. He carries a bone axe like most of his kin, but the real star of his load-out is his Harpoon. It only has 2 attacks but does as much damage as the Heart-eater’s axe and has a range of 8.
The Harpoon also stars in the First Fang’s ability, Harpoon Snag. For a Triple, Harpoon Snag gives you a bonus attack that allows you to move the target as many inches closer to you as the value of your Triple roll – and you don’t have to score any hits to do so! It’s a great ability for dragging an enemy leader out of cover and into attack range of your slower fighters (=anyone but the Rocktusk Prowler).
The only downside to the Harpoon is that it can’t be used in conjunction with the Untamed Beasts’ Quad ability, Unleash the Beast, which only works on weapons with a Range of 3 or less.
Beastspeaker: 125 points
The Beastspeaker has both a melee and a ranged attack, just like the First Fang, but her best ability is Beastmaster (Double) which gives the Rocktusk Prowler a bonus attack action if it is visible and within 4 inches of the Beastspeaker.
This makes her and the Prowler the power couple of the Untamed Beasts: As you will see below, the Prowler is one of the stars of the warband, and the Beastspeaker makes it even better while still being able to dish out some damage on her own.
Rocktusk Prowler: 180 points
Technically a Tamed Beast, the Rocktusk Prowler is the pet lion/ram hybrid of the Beastspeaker. With its 8-inch move, 20 wounds and serious damage output, it is one of the main threats to anyone going up against the Untamed Beasts. You can give it bonus attack actions outside of its turn with the Beastspeaker’s ability, and the Prowler itself can use Pounce (Triple) to damage any model within an inch of the destination of its move action.
All of this means the Prowler is great for taking down one of your opponent’s strongest characters and any weaker enemies next to it. It doesn’t survive a sustained melee very well, but just think of it as your own furry, horned cruise missile.
Preytaker: 105 points
The Preytaker is your average barbarian stereotype. He is tough, he hits hard with a two-handed weapon (the sword gives extra attacks and the axe gives a +1 to Strength) and he wears a pretty silly horned helmet and not that much else. Where most of the other warriors of the Untamed Beasts need to be used in pretty specific ways, the Preytakers are great to have if you need to hold and objective or just hit something in the face really hard.
Without any specialties of their own, the Preytakers are also good candidates for the top and bottom abilities of the Untamed Beasts ability card, Savage Fury (Double) which gives an Untamed Beasts fighter +1 move and +1 attacks for one activation, and Unleash the Beast (Quad), which adds half the value of dice used to attacks and Strength. Both synergize well with the Preytaker, who suddenly hits a lot harder than his point cost with these abilities.
Plains-runner: 55 points
The best feature of the Plains-runner is that he/she is really cheap, clocking in at only 55 points. If money isn’t an issue, you could make a huge (and very thematic) warband of a Heart-Eater, a First Fang and 12 Plains-runners. You would have to buy 4 sets of Untamed Beasts, but you would be swarming your opponent with howling barbarians or harpoon-dragging them into a mosh pit of death – and how Chaos is that?!
If you, like me, have limited funds and need to stick to what one set can build, the 3 Plains-runners you get are still great as cheap runners covering ground or delaying a strong enemy fighter in getting to where you don’t want it.
The Plains-runners die easily (3 toughness, only 8 wounds), but they fill out your warband, and every model on the board is two additional activations per turn, so numbers are always good.
Finally, like the Preytaker, the Plains-runner benefits from both Savage Fury and Unleash the Beast, and especially Unleash the Beast can turn a lowly Plainsrunner into, well…a beast. This is great if you have lost some of your best fighters and you need to take someone down in the last battle round, for example.
Abilities for the Untamed Beasts Warband
- Savage Fury: (Double) +1 to Move and Attacks for 1 activation
- All-Out Attack: (Double) (Heart-eater only) Bonus Move and Attack action once after killing an enemy.
- Beastmaster: (Double) (Beastspeaker only) Give bonus attack action to Beast withing 4 inches.
- Pounce: (Triple) (Rocktusk Prowler only) For 1 activation, when you finish a move with the Prowler within 1 inch of an enemy fighter, pick a fighter within 1 inch and give damage equal to the value of the dice used for the Triple
- Harpoon Snag: (Triple) (First Fang only) make a bonus attack action and then move the target closer to the First Fang by a number of inches equal to the value of the dice used for the Triple.
- Unleash the Beast: (Quad) for the rest of the battle round, add half the value of the dice used for the Quad to Attacks and Strength of the fighter on weapons with a range of 3 or less.
Strategy and Tactics for the Untamed Beasts Warband
The Untamed Beasts are generally a good all-round warband. They have speed and mobility through Savage Fury and the Rocktusk Prowler, the great range of the First Fang’s harpoon, cheap fighters to control the battlefield and good options for buffing fighters through abilities. This means you can adapt to most victory conditions, and do good damage with whatever combination of fighters you have in your battlegroups.
One thing the Untamed Beasts don’t have is a lot of specific synergies between fighters. Of course, the Beastspeaker and the Rocktusk Prowler should go in the same battlegroup and stay close for as long as possible, but none of the other specialists have any auras or buffs that require other fighters to be close to them. This gives you a lot of freedom when you set up your warband.
It’s always a good idea to have a couple of fighters ready to fall upon enemy fighters exposed by the First Fang’s Harpoon Snag, but otherwise you’re free to experiment.
Note that while other warbands might use the universal ability Inspiring Presence (which lets you activate another fighter immediately after your leader) a lot for their Leader, the Untamed Beasts’ Heart-Eater has a cheap and very useful ability in All-out Attack, so you don’t have to set him up with any fighters next to him for use with Inspiring Presence.
The Untamed Beasts’ also lack a lot of 2 inch weapons, unlike the Unmade, Splintered Fang, Corvus Cabal and Cypher Lords, so make sure you get into melee range before you end up getting poked to death like the Stark forces in the Battle of the Bastards in Game of Thrones.
In short, play like a hunter. Get your prey cornered, and close in for the kill as fast as you can.
Tips on painting the Untamed Beasts
If you are familiar with using the new Contrast Paints from GW, you can have the Untamed Beasts tabletop ready in no time: Using a classical method such as the ‘eavy metal schemes shown in GW box art usually means models with a lot of bare skin take a long time to paint in a way that looks good, but with Contrast it’s more or less the other way around.
A white or bone-coloured undercoat with a wash of one of the Contrast skintones such as Guilliman Flesh, Fyreslayer Flesh or Darkoath Flesh will produce a nice skintone on the Untamed Beast models – but if you’re going for a higher standard, the warband can be quite time-consuming to paint (but it will end up looking great!).
The furs, horns and bone weapons are easy targets for Contrast as well but can also look really good with only a basecoat, wash and a light drybrush. The leathers and hides on some of the models are great for showing off the spot color that makes your warband stand out from other Untamed Beasts you might meet in combat.
Chris Peach’s video tutorial provides instructions for combining Contrast and edge highlighting to achieve a paint job that looks surprisingly like the box art with not that much effort here (you can find the video here)
How to buy the Warband
The Untamed Beasts are part of the Starter Set for Warcry. If you want the warband, you either have to buy them second hand or get the starter set (and maybe sell the Iron Golem warband that you get in the box).
Pros and Cons of the Untamed Beasts Warband
+ good all-round warband with no significant weaknesses
+ The Rocktusk Prowler and First Fang have excellent ability combos
+ cheap basic fighters
– lacks Range 2 weapons for melee
– as a balanced warband, they don’t have anything they really excel at.
– weak basic fighters