Specifically I’m looking at the bestial might of the Banebrood. Regular readers will remember that I took a look at the Banebrood Reavers back in December so it seemed only right to give the main starter set a shakedown.
The Banebrood are a complex society of twisted, lost, creatures. They are driven by an engrained need to wreak terrible violence on the world. They have no interest in conquest beyond subjugation and murder. They simply want to watch the world burn.
Whereas the Reavers were men driven to savagery, the beasts of the starter set are savages driven to excess. The expressions on each of the Banebrood is a mixture of mindless blood lust and crazed pleasure. The malice and determination is etched into every crease and facet of their heads. And the fact that the sculptors managed to convey all that whilst wrapping the features in matted fur and leather straps.
Aside from the obvious shagginess one would expect from beastmen type…er…beasties, the balance between the low cunning weapon design and ragged clothing, leather strapping and crude armour does a brilliant job of saying that these furry bastards are more than just beasts. That they know exactly what they’re doing and they’re going to bring all kinds of hurt on you and yours.
I also love the varying look of the brood. The influences are between myths, modern cultural references like Pans Labyrinth, and a dozen other sources. The result is something familiar to those long immersed in wargaming and fantasy but still something refreshing and unique. And hints at a species and society rather than the bland and faceless hordes that ‘just appeared one day from the magical place’.
The individual contrast amongst the Banebrood is probably the most interesting thing. The Gorelord is a hulking bastard of a brute with all the shiniest toys and best armour. The Pestbringer is smaller and whilst taller than the Mongrels he’s physically comparable but still covered in baubles and his flail means business. Not to say the Mongrels don’t. They’re pretty bad ass and the irregular appearance of them is just awesome.
The quality of the models is superb. I couldn’t spot any mould lines and considering the top part of the heads on most of the models are separate the small bit of flash is entirely excusable and fits well. Sure any spear cast in metal is always gonna bend in the box but I can’t blame the model for that. I do wish Megalith Would look at resin or rastic for that reason alone.
In the game the Banebrood are absolute monsters. Not because they’re stats are excessive, although they’re still pretty tasty, but because the upgrades and special rules are horrid. They get bonuses to their already high defence because they’re wily, goat legged buggers who leap about. Infectious Bite, Bloodlust, Horror, are personal favourites on the special rule front and the ability to wield two great weapons is harsh. Oh and there’s disease options… It adds up to a force that chases brutality with biological warfare and the result is a faction that could give the Troglodytes a run for their money in the face kicking stakes. I’m starting to regret my decision to collect Mortans because they’re so very very squishy in comparison.
Throw in high Melee – especially the Gorelord – strong defence and a healthy number of actions and they’re scary. Very scary. Interestingly, though, the edge the Banebrood gives you isn’t the obvious physical ones. It’s the Pestbringer. And his ability to host and spread plagues. Which are all…gross. And stuff. The really nice touch is that the plagues aren’t a straight forward ‘roll a dice or your dead’ but a short shopping list of damage, special statuses or physical effects which, if timed correctly, can tip the balance of the game. Add in the ability for the Pestbringer to pass contagion on to Mongrels and formations for larger games begin to form. A couple of Pestbringers, loitering behind Mongrels, passing on bubonic plague and the like is a very useful ability. The point less movement, which I originally thought was bullshit now makes complete sense as it can spread some plague then get stuck in itself.
The Banebrood are a far more intriguing force than I first gave credit for. I’ve always liked the models but I kind of assumed that I wouldn’t be missing out on much when it came to actually using them. I expected a cavorting blunt instrument of a faction. I was wrong. Whilst the agility special rules does suggest a degree of cavorting, the emphasis is much more on the disease riddled manginess of the creatures. I’ve been struck by the sneaky streak the faction possesses whihc is far more tactically minded than I at first realised. The Banebrood, despite their outward appearance, are really rather tasty.
The Banebrood start box set is available from Firestorm Games priced £33.08.