Wheeeeeeeew, man I have so many things to say, let’s see if I can keep it focused …
The first thing to note is that Mantic’s Herd is more akin to Narnia, while GW’s Beastmen are Chaos marauders. Whether this informed the units available to it or grew out of Mantic’s allocation of resources is anybody’s guess. But onward.
I really dig the new Herd list. I also really dug the old Herd list … which frankly the new Herd list is a lot like, except without the Stampede crutch and super efficient Shaman. I hated the Stampede, because it was an Obviously Good Unit in the GW style, where you’re purposely kneecapping yourself by not taking it, and TFGing it if you take 2+. And yes, I’ve killed plenty of them, typically by trapping them with chaff, but that’s what every Herd game (the few I got to play, the army is not particularly popular, and I’m a Sally player!) came down to, killing the Stampede. Also if you look at the Stampede’s profile, and look at how units have been toned down in 3E (look at Brock Nv drop, look at the global decrease in CS/TC with the addition of hill charging for +1TC), I think you can see that the unit you end up with is pretty much either a Minotaur Chariot horde or a Guardian Brute horde. 3E has removed many redundancies, and once the Stampede was rebalanced, I feel like it became redundant - PLUS Mantic doesn’t likely want to make minis for such a unique, easily-represented-by-toy-animals unit. Obviously they’re looking to get the most use out of the number of sculpts they already have or are able to produce.
It’s weird to see the Great Totem gone - but come on dude, that’s so a Herdstone, staple of GW’s Beastmen for a long time now - however what did it do, grant Rally (2) and inspire? Have you noticed the decrease in Rally in the game? Sure, it could have still projected Rally around the board, that could be a cool thing … but it might be working against a general de-Rallying in the larger game. All the other terrain-style units in the game stayed tho, so seems like a miss. Unless the point was to distance from Beastmen (who just got an official Herdstone mini!)
Great Eagles, following the plan we see across all Mantic armies, would now need to be Scorchwings. Clearly fire doesn’t have a place in this Herd version (because Earth / Trees), so one assumes they were dumped because there’s no plans to make a second, very similar flying cav unit. Hot Take: What if Herd got Air elementals instead of Earth? Bam, there’s your Great Eagles. But no, it’s Earth instead (I’m guessing the RC felt that the low Def but higher Sp Herd would benefit more from a hard, slow anchor than a (fairly redundant) low Def high Sp light hammer). They wouldn’t have gotten Water (TR + Brohood) or Fire (Sallies), but Earth (Dwarfs) is ‘taken’ too? Air is actually the odd one out (I could have missed it tho).
Wild Gur Panther troops do feel a bit redundant against Harpies troops … but maybe those were specifically included so y’all could use your beast packs / warhounds?? Everybody who played Chaos mortals or beasts in WHFB had these units, and honestly this feels like Mantic throwing y’all a bone. As for internal balance, I’mma go out on a limb and say Panther regiments are probably where you should be looking. 3E seems to love nimble light cav (I’m skeptical they play out on the table but many armies got these buffed or added as regs), and Harpies do not regiment.
Minotaurs seem very well served as Minotaur ‘Chariots’ - at only Height 3 this is basically a, well, a stampede of minotaurs! And weren’t y’all using minos as a unit called “Guardian Brutes”? Brutes are still in here, guys, except better! I honestly don’t get the angst there.
I’m surprised nobody brought up the Avatar of the Father being gone. Personally, I like Moonfang much more, however I agree, they aren’t all the comparable. I don’t have a great answer there, but I also don’t know the Herd’s lore at all, if there’s a clue in there. Maybe it’s something to do with Mantic, again, not having resources for one-off monsters or units? Moonfang is, after all, both smaller and a Lycan, so is easier to produce new or upgrade from existing (eww).
I’m also low key surprised nobody is praising the changes to infantry, which I think are great. I was interested in Longhorns before, now they’re pretty immense! Previously all I ever saw were Spirit Walker hordes, and maybe a token Longhorn regiment (because peeps had bestigors around) or lil’ shooty troops (Trappers now).
Lycan spam too is alive and well, I know several pure Lycan lists that simply got better with the Alpha points drop + Moonfang.
In the end, I do really feel for the Herd players who have to rebase their models or had units wholly invalidated (looking at the Avatar and Totem primarily; I haven’t found a great replacement for Great Eagles, but maybe the answer is allied Sallies? Rhinosaur horde + Scorchwings? Wholly crap, did somebody say Stampede??) However I think the list is interesting and has legs (hooves) in a way that the 2E one didn’t really, at least when it comes to variety. In my experience, 2E Herd armies relied on going hard on the most efficient units (stampedes, chariots, spirit walkers, harpies, centaur chiefs, shamen) or straight up spammed lycan *
*There was a time I was going to make one of these too