Wargear Analysis: Top Relics in the 40K Universe (Part II)

Continuing to look at what I consider the “top 10” Relics in 40K right now:


[6] KUROV’S AQUILA (Astra Militarum) — Taken by Company Command Squad Officer only, this gives all friendly AM units within 6″ Preferred Enemy and also allows the Bearer’s squad to re-roll a single failed Ld test per turn.

*Rationale: A very simple, but exceptionally powerful, Relic. There are so many application to being able to give out a Preferred Enemy “bubble” in your army, but some of my favorite include giving it to nearby Leman Russ Executioner squadrons (PE allows re-rolls for Get’s Hot and also make the Plasma Blasts wound on a re-rollable 2+ against most infantry), infantry blob squads (this works for both shooting and close combat, don’t forget), nearby Basilisk batteries (basically auto-wounding anything they hit), and even the Command Squad itself (i.e. jump out of a Chimera or Valkyrie and unleash 9 x S7 AP2 Plasma shots, all with Preferred Enemy). This is especially outstanding because it is not limited to just one unit, but applies to all units with even just a single model within 6″ of the Bearer…. entire Astra Militarum gun-lines can improve both their accuracy and damage output with shrewd positioning of squads around this Relic. Finally, that re-roll of an Ld test can apply to an Officer of Fleet in the Command Squad, making his Ld7 much more reliable when trying to improve your Reserves or deny your opponent’s Reserve rolls. While it is expensive points-wise (12 MBs), I think almost any AM commander would do well to find a way to bring Kurov’s Aquila in their army list.

[7] PURETIDE ENGRAM NEUROCHIP (Tau) – Gives Bearer the ability to choose one of the following abilities each turn: Tank Hunter, Monster Hunter, Stubborn, Furious Charge, and Counter-attack.

*Rationale: While Furious Charge and Counter-attack only apply to the model and are generally not that great in a Tau army (where you almost never want to be in combat), Tank Hunter, Monster Hunter, and Stubborn all impact the entire unit that the Bearer is attached to. Stubborn is the worst of these three, since it is mostly useful for the Assault Phase and, again, it is already a very bad thing for Tau if you are having to use it there. All that said, being able to give “free”/automatic Tank Hunter and Monster Hunter to any unit that an IC attaches to is exceptionally useful, especially in the current Meta, where MCs, GMCs, and Battle Companies with loads of free vehicles abound. One excellent application of this Relic is attaching a Buffmander (Commander with Puretide Engram Neurochip, MSS, and C2 Node) to a max squad of Sniper Drones with an Ethereal attached as well… this gives you 27 TLed BS5 Sniper Shots at 24”, all with Ignore Cover and access to Monster Hunter… if you target an enemy Wraithknight, that averages 26-27 hits, 7-8 AP2 Wounds, and 5-6 Unsaved Wounds after FNP rolls… in other words, Sniper Drones with PENchip, Ethereal, and C2 Node support can straight up kill a Wraithknight in a single shooting phase, which is quite impressive! Alternately, if they can engage Magus the Red before goes into Swooping mode, they average 6-7 Unsaved Wounds on him a shooting phase (and that is accounting for a 3++ save for him), which should almost kill him or outright destroy him in a single volley. Against vehicles, combing the PENchip with Crises Suit Teams, Broadsides, or even Breacher Squads can dramatically improve their performance against armored targets. IMHO one of the best options is a 5 man Crises Suit Team with dual Missile Pods and Velocity Trackers and an attached Buffmander… this unit puts out 20 x S7 AP4 shots at 36”, all with built-in Ignore Cover, Twin-linking, and Tank Hunter… even against AV13 armor, that is an average of 4-5 stripped HPs a turn, without requiring any Marker Light support at all, and it can cause this same damage to AV13 Flyers as well, thanks to the Velocity Trackers on the Crises Suits.

[8] MEGA FORCE FIELD (Waaagh Ghazkull) – All models within 6” of the bearer get a 4++ save against Shooting attacks (if embarked on a vehicle, then only the Bearer’s vehicle gets a 4++, and not any nearby units).

*Rationale: Given Orks overall fragility to shooting (thank you T-Shirt saves), both in terms of troops and vehicles, the “normal” Kustom Force Fields carried by Big Meks are quite a valuable asset to any Ork army, since with savvy positioning of units you can reduce incoming damage by an average of 33%. Well, with the Mega Force Field Relic, you reduce enemy damage by an average of 50%, which obviously is a major force-multiplier for the army. While 6” makes for a somewhat limited “bubble” for this ability (and it only applies to MODELs, not entire units), it still can be a game-changer for everything from Trukk lists to Mek Gunz to War Bikerz to even foot slogging hordes, if you place the Mega Force Field Bearer in the right location. I think this works especially well with, say, a Big Mek on a Warbike riding behind multiple Battlewagons… you can probably fit 3-4 Battlewagons inside the Mega Force Field 6” radius, if they are packed tight together, and now you suddenly have multiple AV14 vehicles that shrug off 50% of the penetrating/glancing hits from shooting attacks against them, which in turn dramatically increases their chances of delivering their passengers into combat, which is where all Orks want to be of course! Another effective use of this Relic is attaching it to a group of Nob Bikerz and using it to help them get across the battlefield safely, especially since there are multiple threats these days that can ignore the Nob Bikerz’ Jink saves (i.e. Wyverns, Tau units with MMS Relic, Imperium units with Hunter’s Eye Relic, Leman Russ Exterminators, any Tau units with ML support, any units with the Perfect Timing and/or Phase Form power cast on them, Necron Tomb Blades with the right upgrades, Template weapons of all kinds, AM units with the Fire on my Target! Order, etc. etc.)


[9] MASK OF SECRETS (Harlequins) / ARMOUR OF MISERY (Dark Eldar) – The Armor of Misery reduces the leadership of enemy units within 6” by -2 and also gives the Bearer a 4+/6++, which is a boost for most DE characters. The Mask of Secrets makes the Shadowseer carrying it Fearless (only Shadowseers can take it) and reduces the leadership of all enemy units within 12” of the Bearer by -2 (Note: Nothing prevents the effects of these two Relics from stacking for -4 Ld).

*Rationale: The uses of these two Relics are myriad, whether used separately or in conjunction with Dark Eldar/Harlequin allies. They can improve the chance of breaking enemy units in close combat, they can allow you to inflict lots of wounds with Dark Eldar Phantasm Grenade Launchers, and they make all kinds of Psychic shenanigans possible. I think one of the best applications for these Relics is as follows: take a Succubus with WWP/Armor of Misery and Shadowseer with Mask of Secrets. Use the WWP to Deep Strike them both with no scatter 1″ away from the enemy model/unit that you want to “assassinate,” in this case, let’s say it’s a Riptide. You subtract -2Ld for the Armor of Misery and -2Ld for the Mask of Secrets, making the Riptide/Drones Ld5. You then either use the “Mirror of Minds” power from the Shadowseer or, if you did not roll that up, use Psychic Shriek (which is guaranteed, as a Primaris power). If you have and successfully cast Mirror of Minds successfully, then the Riptide is basically guaranteed to die, since the Riptide has Ld5 and, adding a D6, the highest it can get is a “11,” while the Shadowseer has Ld10 and adding a D6, the lowest it can get is an “11.” This means that the Shadowseer will always tie or be higher and so will keep inflicting wounds on the Riptide until it dies, since there is no way to stop the “chain” by having the Riptide get a higher “sum” than Shadowseer. If you do nor roll up Mirror of Minds, then at least you can use Psychic Shriek, which with 3D6 gets an average roll of 11. Subtract Ld5 from this and you have automatically inflicted 6 wounds on the Riptide with Ignore Armor and Cover (so only Invuls and FNP, if it has Stimulant Injectors, can protect it). I think using Psychic Shriek like this can work well on other MCs or even on dangerous enemy units like Wulfen, Grav Centurions, Dreadknights, etc. and remove a lynchpin unit in an enemy army with high reliability.


[10] MOMENTO-MORTISPEX (Belisarius Cawl unlocks for Imperium Armies) — At the start of each of your turns, choose one of the following rules to apply to the Bearer and their unit (or weapons as appropriate): Cognis Weapons (BS2 Snapfire, Flamers do 3 hits rather than D3 with Wall of Death in overwatch), Monster Hunter, Skyfire or Tank Hunter.

*Rationale: This may be my favorite Relic in the entire game, just for the sheer diversity it provides and how it plugs a kinds of gaps in an arm without being super expensive (i.e. need some way to deal with Flyers/FMC, but don’t want unbalance your carefully crafted army list with otherwise one-dimensional AA Tanks… take this Relic; need to have a potent anti-tank unit, but you do not normally have access to Tank Hunters… again, take this Relic). Some of the best units to use this on include Grav Centurions, Astra Militarum blob squads, Kataphron Destroyers, Sternguard/Deathwatch Veterans, Deathwatch Terminators with CMLs, Grey Knight Purifiers with multiple Psycannons, Devastator/Long Fang squads, Gunslinger Vanguard Veterans, Sanguinary Guard with Inferno Pistols, Quad Mortar Batteries, AM Command Squads, Ravenwing Black Knights, and even on a Techpriest Dominus in a Cohort Cybernetica. For only 6 MBs, this Relic provides so much flexibility and is guaranteed to work every turn, with no leadership test or harnessing of Warp Charges required. Aside from the high “tax” of taking Belisarius Cawl to unlock it, I think this would be useful in pretty much every Imperial Army. (Note: I am not sure this is intended or that it will be legal after future FAQs, but right now it appears that an Imperial Knight which is a Character, like the High King in an Exalted Court, can take this Relic, which would make it IMMENSELY more powerful in a number of different applications… i.e. imagine Avenger Gatling Cannons, Rapid Fire Battle Cannons, and Stormspear Rocket Pods all firing with Tank Hunter, Monster Hunter, or Skyfire, for example).


Later I will post some “Second Team All-Pro/Honorable Mention” Relics that are still good, but not quite as universally amazing as these 10 that I have already looked at.


6 comments on “Wargear Analysis: Top Relics in the 40K Universe (Part II)

  1. WestRider says:

    I don’t rate the Aquila that highly, just because a CCS is so ridiculously fragile. Since the FAQ killed aura effects from inside Transports/Buildings, you have to have those 5-8 GEqs just sitting there for it to take effect, which is a horrible combination of high-value and easy target.

    Wyverns, TFC, various Renegade Artillery Units, Tau Smart Missiles, even just relatively mobile stuff like ScatBikes, pretty much whatever you try to do with them, that Unit isn’t going to last to provide more than one Turn worth of that buff, tops.


    • greysplinter says:

      Excellent point and I agree with you, a Company Command Squad outside of a vehicle/building is exceptionally squishy and vulnerable to all kinds of attacks, especially Barrage type weapons that ignore LOS (and Intervening Cover).

      That said, I still think this is an amazing Relic and that you can mitigate some of the CCS survivability issues (well, really, just the Company Commander’s survivability… he is the only one you have to keep alive to keep the Aquila in business) with some of the following techniques:

      1) Void Shield Generator — For a relatively cheap price, this gives your CCS, in essence, the benefits of being in a transport without actually being in a transport… stripping 3 AV12 Void Shields is like stripping 3 HPs of a Chimera, so this basically gives you the same protection a Chimera did for the squad, pre-FAQ, while still being able to put out that 6″ Preferred Enemy bubble (better yet, the Void Shields have a chance of re-generating themselves, which a Chimera cannot do).

      2) Carapace Armor/Med-Packs/Aegis Lines — Carapace Armor, while not amazing, does give each of the CCS members a 50% chance of saving themselves and, importantly, still functions even when hit by TFCs, Smart Missile Systems, Wyverns, and other LOS ignoring weapons that are threat to “normal” Flak Jacket clad Guardsmen. Add in an Aegis Line and the ability to Go to Ground (the Aquila still works when a squad has Gone to Ground, plus the Company Commander can use the Get Back in the Fight! Order to get them up again each turn) and the squad has a 2++ cover save against any non-Barrage/Direct Fire weapons (like the Scatterbikes your mentioned above, or massed Tau Missile Pods, or Hive Tyrant TLed Devourers, etc. etc.). Finally, add in FNP from a Med-Pack and you have one more level of survivability to keep your CCS alive and slow the attrition rate of the unit so the Company Commander can stay alive.

      3) Invisibility — If you can cast this successfully on the CCS, it is a game-changer. Not only does it make it very difficult to hit for normal shooting, but all Small Blasts, Large Blast, Templates, etc. (which are the biggest threat in this scenario) cannot even fire at the CCS (at best, they can target a nearby unit and hope for a lucky scatter). You can use the Astropath from the squad itself, a nearby Psykanna Division, an allied Libarious Conclave, or even an allied Sevrin Loth (who can guarantee to have Telepathy) to try and get Telepathy and then cast it on the squad, so there are a couple of different ways to approach this tactic.

      4) Attached ICs as Bodyguards for the Company Commander — While the normal Guardsmen are on T3 and have at best a 4+ save/FNP, with attached allies you can use Look Out Sir! to absorb a good bit of damage away from the Company Commander (just be aware that he is a Character, but not an IC, so he only can Look out Sir! on a 4+ roll). Some strong candidates for this “bodyguard” role include an Iron Priest with TWC mount and 4 Cyber Wolves (this actually makes the whole unit majority T5 against shooting, on top of providing lots of extra wounds and also 2+ saves from the Iron Priest), St. Celestine with her bodyguards (for all kinds of regenerate-able wounds backed by a 4++ and Eternal Warrior on Celestine herself), or Sevrin Loth (not on does he have automatic access to Invisibility or Endurance if you need either of these powers, but he also can give himself a 2++ Invul, in turn shrugging off all kinds of firepower directed at the CCS). There are obviously other good “tank” characters out there that can be used, but you get the idea, with some decent Look Out Sir! rolls and a strong IC to pawn the shots off onto, this can help the CCS be much more survivable while still using the Aquila to maximum effect.

      Overall, the CCS is still vulnerable when in the open and must be used with care (one tactic I didn’t mention is keeping the CCS/Aquila in a transport, then jumping out on the critical turn with a ton of AM Veteran squads and unleashing Preferred Enemy buffed fire and brimstone in a kind of “late game alpha strike”), but I think using some or even multiple of these tactics described here can go a long way to keep the Aquila operational, which can be well-worth the risk, given how powerful it can be in buffing multiple units/squadrons at once with Preferred Enemy.


  2. mika says:

    Did you forgot about Mindveil or do you not rate it that high?


    • greysplinter says:

      I actually have the Mindveil as one of the “honorable mention” Relics… I think it is quite nice, but I don’t see it as a universal, always take piece of gear, since it basically provides automatic Hit and Run and, on average, a 7″ move (vice the normal 6″ move of most infantry), but I find it hard to build concrete strategies around, except as “insurance” for getting a unit out of combat when you want to.


  3. mika says:

    It’s average 10.5″ actually, and it is a lot better then just hit & run.
    I personally rate it very high because it is probably the best “glue” item to almost every CSM death star, or for normal people ( 😉 ) a strong unit. Especially since it will be on a unmarked character who can join any chaos unit, be it khorne guys with the talizman, a strong deathguard unit with all the buffs, a slanesh star with 4+ FNP, or a really big unit of KDK hounds 🙂


    • greysplinter says:

      Wow, somehow I missed that it was 3D6 instead 2D6, that definitely does make a BIG difference! Also, you make very strong points about its utility in all kinds of different CSM Deathstars, especially since the bearer cannot have a Mark and so is eligible to join any unit. With 3D6, with a little luck, you might even be able to pull off a first turn charge (especially with the Talisman of Burning Blood, as you mention).


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