It is looking like it is about to be a big month (or two) for Chaos Space Marines, which is great, since they sorely need some boosting to make them a top-tier competitive faction. Today I want to look at the tactical possibilities for the new Tzeentch Relics that will be available for CSM in the upcoming Wrath of Magnus book:
1 – Astral Grimoire – Makes bearer and nearby friendly infantry unit in Jump Infantry — This Relic has lots of applications and makes all kinds of units either significantly better, or at least competitive, by granting them greatly increased mobility without even requiring a Psychic Test. Imagine Obliterators that can move 12″ before shooting each turn, or Tzeentch Mutilators that actually have the mobility to get into combat reliably, or a horde of 20 Possessed that suddenly count as Jump Infantry, or even the new Scarab Occult Terminators, who can move 12″ a turn and then unleash their S5 AP3 Flamers and S4 AP3 TLed Bolters on hapless enemy MEQ units… there are all kinds of possibilities with this one and I think it will be seen in MANY competitive CSM armies.
2 – Seer’s Bane – Daemon Weapon (S: User AP2, Force) that uses bearer’s Ld for Strength and target’s Ld for Toughness (uses normal strength against vehicles and target’s normal toughness for ID purposes). A top notch Relic Weapon here, perhaps one of the best in the game. Given that the bearer will almost 100% of the time have Ld 10, then this weapon will wound basically any opponent on at least a 4+, with many opponents being wounded on a 3+ or 2+. Add in AP2, the Daemon Weapon rule for up to 6 bonus attacks, and Force for Instant Death you have an amazing all around close combat Relic (except against vehicles, of course). I expect to see a lot of armies with an Exalted Sorcerers on a Disc of Tzeentch with this weapon, as this gives you a very fast moving unit (Jetbike, remember) who can dash around the board, activate Force, and then tear up Wraithknights and Stormsurges with an average of 7 attacks on the charge, all with AP2, 4+s to Wound, and Instant Death (so no FNP and D3 wounds lost per Unsaved Wound on these GMCs). This artifact combines especially well with anything that lowers enemy Ld, like the Terrify Power from Telepathy, certain WL traits, etc.
3 – Helm of the Third Eye – Allows bearer and his unit to Overwatch at BS2 (or fire Overwatch normally at BS1, if the unit has Slow and Purposeful). While this is not as amazing a buff as the Seer’s Bane or Astral Grimoire, it is definitely useful on a solid “shooty” unit, like Plasmacide Chosen or Havocs or a 20 man blob of Rubric Marines… combine this with a successful cast of Prescience and the unit in question is firing Overwatch at effectively BS3 (or BS2, if the have Slow and Purposeful, like Rubric Marines), which makes it very dangerous to charge them.
4 – Staff of Arcane Compulsion – Force Maul (i.e. S: +2 AP4 Concussive, Force) that causes any enemy units charging bearer’s unit to have -2” to their charge range. Like the Helm of the Third Eye, this is not a super-powered Relic, but it can make quite a difference when placed in the right spot. Especially in mid-late game, a failed charge can be the difference between holding an objective and losing it, which in turn can be what swings a game toward one side or the other. A very handy relic, especially since it does not require any Psychic or Leadership tests to work, but is simply always “on.”
5 – Athenaean Scrolls – If bearer passes a Psychic Check that includes any doubles on the Warp Charge Dice, then opponents cannot stop that power via Deny the Witch rolls. This Relic is useful I think, especially if you are going to throw a lot of dice at a power that you absolutely want/need to go off, and provides that “insurance” potential for the Psychic-heavy gameplay of most Tzeentch based CSM armies. I think you will this in a lot of CSM armies, provided it is not too costly points wise, just because it allows for more certainty when planning out how to use various Psychic powers (i.e. normally you have to pass several hurdles: roll up the ability you want, get in range to use it, successfully harness enough WCs, have enemy fail Deny the Witch rolls, and actually roll to Hit if it is a Witchfire… this Relic removes one of those hurdles, which makes it worth it in many instances, especially with Witchfires).
6 – Coruscator – Pistol with S4 AP3 Small Blast, Soul Blaze shot at 12”. Probably the least “splashy” of any of the Wrath of Magnus artifacts, the Coruscator is something you can throw on a Tzeentch IC if you have a couple of points left and want to maximize the AP3 shooting of a unit he is attached to, say a block of Rubric Marines or a squad of Occult Scarab Terminators. With such a short range, this weapon is not usually a major threat (and, being a Blast weapon, it cannot fire Overwatch), but once in a while it causes a couple of extra AP3 wounds when you need them, say just before you charge a large MEQ squad that needs some “whittling down”).
Overall, I’d say that GW did an excellent job with the Relics, making them all useful, with some being especially competitive, but none being “game-breaking” or overpowered like, say, the White Scar’s “Hunter’s Eye” on a Librarian or the Iron Hand’s “Gorgon’s Chains” on a Chapter Master.