Traitor Legions: Death Guard “Nurgle Marines”

As I continue to review the new Traitor Legions options, I think it is becoming clearer and clearer that Death Guard is one of the most competitive Legions with its “Chapter Tactics” and, more specifically, that Death Guard CSM are one of the best Troops choices, pound-for-pound, in the game.

Let’s take a look… basic “Nurgle Marines” get the following:

-Free VotLW (so Ld10 for things like Psychic Shriek)

-Fearless, FNP, and Relentless

-Must take Mark of Nurgle (so T5 at +3 points/model) and have -1I, so I3 compared to most MEQs

Outside of this, “Nurgle Marines” have access to all the normal upgrades/options of basic CSMs and, importantly, are Troops choices, so they get Objective Secured in a CAD, Allied Detachment, and Chaos Warband.

Comparing this to, say, White Scars (who have arguably the best Chapter Tactics in the game) Tactical Marines and, for 2 points more per “Nurgle Marine” than for a “White Scar Marine,” you have:

-Ld10/Fearless (vs) Ld9/ATSKNF

-FNP/Relentless (vs) Hit & Run/Ability to re-roll Run distances

-T5/I3 (vs) T4/I4

-Access to Autocannon/CCW upgrades (vs) access to Multi-Meltas/Plasma Cannons/Grav Cannons

-Access to Rhino DT (vs) access to Rhino/Razorback/Drop Pod DTs

Overall, the “White Scar Marine” is slightly cheaper and has some better mobility options, like Hit & Run and access to Drop Pods, but the “Nurgle Marine” is SIGNIFICANTLY more survivable, with improved toughness, built-in FNP, and a guarantee to never fail morale tests (sometimes a bad thing, like when you need to Go to Ground). Since Troops are generally all about taking and holding Objectives and, in most cases, providing some supporting firepower, I think “Nurgle Marines” come out on top here, especially with their advantages in durability and their Relentless USR, which allows them to shoot their Heavy Weapons on the move and/or Rapid Fire and still charge in the same turn.

In terms of durability, it takes on average the following to kill a single “Nurgle Marine”, compared to a single “White Scar Marine:”

BS4 Bolter — 20 shots (Nurgle) vs 9 shots (White Scar)

BS4 Heavy Bolter — 14 shots (Nurgle) vs 7 shots (White Scar)

BS4 Plasma — 3 shots (Nurgle) vs 2 shots (White Scar)

BS4 Grav Gun — 4 shots (Nurgle) vs 3 shots (White Scar)

BS4 Scatter Laser — 10 shots (Nurgle) vs 6 shots (White Scar)

BS3 HYMP — 7 shots (Nurgle) vs 5 shots (White Scar)

BS4 Lascannon — 3 shots (Nurgle) vs 2 shots (White Scar)

As you can see, the difference in survivability is quite significant, especially against Small Arms like Bolters or Scatter Lasers. Combine this with the ability to ride in Rhinos and still shoot Heavy Weapons out the hatch at full BS when moving and you really have a versatile, tough-to-kill, efficient unit on the battlefield.

On top of all this, if you end up taking the special Death Guard “Sons of Mortarion” detachment, then these basic “Nurgle Marines” also get to re-rolls 1s for the FNP rolls and get Stealth for any ranged attacks 18″ away or further, making them even better at camping on Objectives in terrain and shrugging off all kinds of enemy combat power that is not S10 and/or Instant Death.

Based on all this, I think “Nurgle Marines” are going to be a go to choice for many CSM players and that they will be right up their with Eldar Jetbikes, Deathwatch Veterans, White Scar Bikers, Skitarii Vanguard, GK Terminators, and Genestealer Cult Acolyte Hybrids as some of the best-value Troops options in the game.

 

 

 

Traitor Legions: Fixing Cult Troops

Now that Traitor Legions is officially out (and is an outstanding release overall, I’d say, breathing whole new life into both the tactical abilities and rules-reflecting-the-fluff aspects of the 9 original Traitor Legions), I think there is a pretty obvious shortfall that needs to be addressed whenever the “base” CSM book finally is updated: the obsolescence of Cult Troops.

Given that even basic CSM now get buffs to bring them into almost complete parity with Cult Troops (i.e. Khorne CSM now get Fearless, Furious Charge, and Adamantium Will for “free,” meaning that they have everything Bezerkers have except WS5/access to Chainaxe upgrades and cost 4 points less per model; or, Nurgle CSM also get Fearless, FNP, Relentless, and -1I, just like Plague Marines, but cost 8 points less per model, with the only compensation for Plague Marines being their Blight Grenades, Plague Knifes, and access to 2 Special Weapons when at minimum squad size; etc., etc.), I think GW really ought to provide some improvements to the 4 different iconic Cult Troops to make them worth taking, and not just providing some special formations that give them buffs like they have already.

Based on that, here is  my idea for how to improve Cult Troops in a reasonable manner (while keeping their current points costs the same) so that they are not auto-take, but also are still a competitive option as compared to basic CSM with their respective Marks:

[1] Khorne Bezerkers — Give them back their old 2A base (so, that would be 3A base on the Bezerker Champion) and make Chainaxes a S: +1 AP4 Rending weapon.

*Rationale — Between WS5 and 5A on the charge, I think this would justify the 4 points/model higher cost of Bezerkers over basic Khorne CSM. Additionally, if they paid the extra 3 points/model for the Chainaxe upgrade, not only would they gain +1S and AP4 (so S6 on the charge), but the addition of Rending really increases their versatility and overall close combat hitting power, making them a more expensive, but more capable, close combat option to Khorne CSM (which is what they should be, as an elite unit).

 

[2] Plague Marines — Increase their FNP(5+) to FNP(4+) and add Poison (4+) Bolter ammo to their Wargear.

Rationale — At 8 points/model more expensive than Nurgle CSM, Plague Marines need a bit to justify taking them over their less “elite” counterparts. Based on this, I think they definitely need more than Blight Grenades and Plague Knives to set them apart from basic Mark of Nurgle Marines. Increasing their FNP one “step” I think would give enough of a boost in survivability to make them a strong option for taking/holding Objectives and giving their Bolters/BPs Poisoned (4+) ammo makes them kind of like a CSM version of Sternguard. Overall, with Defensive Grenades, Poisoned (4+) for both close combat and shooting, and enhanced FNP rules, I think Plague Marines would be worth considering over “normal” Nurgle CSM.

 

[3] Rubric Marines — Improve Inferno Bolts to (S:4 AP3 Armourbane, Rending), improve Soulreaper Cannon to (S:5 AP3 Armourbane, Rending), and improve both Warpflamer/Heavy Warpflamer to Torrent (6″) weapons (this would obviously impact Scarab Occult Terminators as well).

*Rationale — Like Plague Marines, Rubric Marines are MUCH more expensive (8 points/model more expensive) than their Tzeentch Marine counterparts, but also are a lot better than them out the gate (i.e. 4++ instead of 6++ save, AP3 Bolter ammo, access to Psychic Powers via their “sergeant,” etc.). What Rubric Marines really need, I think, is better shooting versatility, instead of being limited to just AP3 Bolters. Adding Armourbane to both the Soulreaper Cannon and their Inferno Bolts makes them MUCH more versatile against light-medium vehicles and adding Rending to the Inferno Bolts gives them a chance at dealing with Terminators, Heavy Vehicles, MCs, etc. Finally, making the Warpflame weapons into Torrent (6″) gives much more reach and versatility for these anti-horde options, especially since Rubric Marines are so slow outside of Rhino/Land Raider transports.

 

[4] Noise Marines — Give them BS5 and allow them to take one Blastmaster (30 points) or Doom Siren (20 points) per 5 models in the squad.

*Rationale — Noise Marines are currently only 2 points/model more expensive than their Slaanesh Marine counterparts, but they also have nothing to show for it, except access to Sonic Weaponry (which they have to pay even more points for, and Slaanesh CSM have access to normal Special/Heavy Weapons that Noise Marines cannot take). Giving Noise Marines BS5 would justify taking them instead of normal Slaanesh Marines and would make purchasing the Sonic Blaster upgrades even more worthwhile. Also, giving them options for up to 4 Blastmasters/Doom Sirens in a max squad of 20 (or 1 in a squad of 5, 2 in a squad of 10, etc. etc.) would help “customize” them as a solid option in competitive play.

Thousand Sons Terminator “Jump Star”

Looking back at the new Artifacts for Thousand Sons, what really jumps out to me is Astra Grimoire… being able to make a friendly infantry unit within 12″ into a Jump Infantry automatically (i.e. no psychic or leadership test required) every turn is amazing and adds the critical mobility to so many different units that are otherwise lacking in this area.

As I have looked at it more and more, I think the best candidate for synergizing with the Astral Grimoire is a Battle Group, drawn from a Tzeentch CAD, that looks like this:

 

-Chaos Lord with MoT, TDA, Chainfist and Lightning Claw, Astral Grimoire Relic

-Exalted Sorceror with MoT, PML(3), Spell Familiar, TDA, Seer’s Bane Relic

-10 Chaos Terminators with MoT, 8 x Combi-Melta, 2 x Reaper AC, 10 x Chainfist

 

Basically, the idea here is to make a squad that combines the attributes of Assault Terminators, Tactical Terminator, and Jump Infantry, while also throwing in some Psychic powers and Relics to make the battle group even more potent.

First of all, the Exalted Sorcerer rolls hard on the Sinistrum Discipline for Warp Fate ( Diabolic Strength and Death Hex are also solid choices here). If he gets Warp Fate, he casts it on the squad every turn, giving them 2+/3++ saves that can be re-rolled in all phases of the Turn (5++ from TDA, bumped up to a 4++ by MoT, and bumped up again to a 3++ from Blessing of Tzeentch when a Blessing is cast on the unit, with Warp Fate giving everyone re-rolls). Against non AP2/1 attacks, this makes the unit able to shrug off 97% of enemy attacks, on average, and even against those low AP wounds, they still ignore 88% of them with Warp Fate activated. Alternately, you can roll on Biomancy and go for Endurance, which provides very similar effects in terms of overall durability.

If you cannot get Warp Fate, then the Exalted Sorcerer can still use the Force power on his unit, which gives his Daemon Weapon (i.e. Seer’s Bane) Instant Death and also brings everyone in the squad up to a 3++, just like Loyalist Hammernators. On top of this, the entire unit uses the Astral Grimoire to move 12″ every Turn, make them vastly more mobile than most Terminators, and able to get in close rapidly to use their Combi-Meltas, Chainfists, and potent Armor/Invul saves to full effect. The Combi-Meltas and Reaper ACs provide solid high strength shooting against vehicles and tough infantry, while the Bolter portions of the Combi-Meltas and Reaper ACs also give you some “crowd control” options. On top of all this, the Exalted Sorcerer has his “Lord of the Silver Tower” ability, which acts like a poor man’s Orbital Bombardment (i.e. One Use, S9 AP2 Small Blast, Lance).

Finally, when the unit does get into Assault range, it can put out 35 x S8 AP2 Armourbane attacks on the charge, as well as between 7 and 11 AP2 Instant Death attacks from the Seer’s Bane Relic (provided you do not roll a “1” on the Daemon Weapon chart). Combined with 2+/3++ (possibly re-rollable, if you have Warp Fate), and this makes for an exceptionally dangerous, hard-hitting unit that can deal with everything from Imperial Knights to TWC to enemy MCs to even hordes of light infantry. Even more important, you opponent cannot ignore this unit, because of its mobility, firepower, and close combat potential, but he also can waste a ton of his combat power trying to stop it unsuccessfully, provided you have at least one Blessing activated on the unit. Don’t forget, you can also break off the Lord and Exalted Sorcerer to assault other units, if you need to, or just keep them altogether to maximize the synergy and keep everyone Fearless as well.

 

Traitor Legions: Alpha Legion Chosen

As I continue to review the new rules for the Traitor Legions, one thing that has jumped out at me is the rules for the Alpha Legion. Specifically, they get the following:


—Requirements—

*Alpha Legion armies cannot take any unique characters and cannot take any marks, but get VotLW for free on all units that have access to it, plus their Daemon Princes can take powers from their respective God’s discipline.

—Special Rules—

*Forward Operatives: Chosen become Troops. Chosen, CSM, and Cultists gain Infiltrate

*Many Heads of the Hydra: If warlord slain, pick a new friendly character from AL detachment or formation. He generates warlord trait immediately. You can do this as long as you still have a character left to assume the  mantle of Warlord and your opponent does not get Slay the Warlord if they haven’t killed last remaining warlord from this rule.

—Alpha Legion  Unique Detachment—

*Hidden Deployment: All non-vehicle units get shrouded 1st turn.

*Cult Uprising: Cultist units that are destroyed are placed into ongoing reserves on a roll of 4+.


Based on all this, I think one of the most competitive “all-rounder” CSM units in the future will be Alpha Legion Chosen squads. Based on these new rules, they now get:

[1] Ld10 and Hatred (Space Marines), thanks to VotLW.

[2] Infiltration USR.

[3] If they are in a CAD/Allied Detachment, they get Objective Secured. If they are part of the Alpha Legion special detachment (i.e. specifically, as part of a Chaos War Band), they get first turn Shrouded and Objective Secured.

In the past, many people considered Chosen over-priced and generally not a very competitive unit. These new abilities change that a lot, I think, and bring them up into a genuinely “go to” unit choice, especially given that you can access them quite easily.

If you go the CAD route, then you can have an entire army of Chosen with top-rate Leadership (to mitigate their lack of ATSKNF), plus the ability to Infiltrate and/or Outflank “in mass” and put their numerous weapons options to use starting Turn 1… and they can do all this without requiring any outside support from attached ICs, WL traits, etc.

Between the ability to take up to 5 Special Weapons (Flamers, Meltas, and/or Plasmas) in a 5 man squad, Infiltrate inside their DT Rhinos, and 3A base (with the option to take any combination of PW, LC, or PF), you can really do an effective MSU Infiltration “swarm” army that alpha strikes (pun intended! 😉 ) their opponents with massed short-ranged shooting turn 1 (remember, Tau don’t get Interceptor against Infiltrators, so they can’t counter them in the same way that they would, say, against a Space Marine Drop Pod army).

Imagine two squads of Chosen (and their Rhinos with Combi-Plasmas) unleashing 24 x BS4 Plasma Shots on an enemy Stormsurge or Wraithknight Turn 1, before the Xenos  forces can even react? Or imagine lighting up a Genestealer Cult/Tyranid army with massed Flamer templates turn 1, tearing up scores of Acolytes, Gaunts, etc. in a single volley? Or imagine alpha striking a mechanized Astra Militarum/Imperial Knights force with massed meltas before they even have the chance to engage you?

Even against a powerful melee opponent, like a TWC based Space Wolf army or a Blood Angels Lost Brotherhood Strike Force or a KDK army, Infiltrating Chosen give you the chance to “pre-emptive strike” such a force before they have a chance to charge and/or activate any Psychic Powers that they rely on for durability and/or mobility. For example, if you are able to unload massed Plasma weapons on a selected SW Wulfen/TWC squads and either destroy them or severely weaken them on Turn 1, you can remove critical “cogs” in the enemy army’s synergy before the game really gets going (a VERY Alpha Legion style tactic, I might add! 😉 ).

If the enemy survivors still try and charge you Chosen after this, you get to Overwatch them for some more possible wounds and, if you have sprinkled in a PWs/PFs into you Chosen squads, you have a solid chance of finishing off these weakened survivors with your high level of base attacks. Alternately, you can “bubble wrap” your Chosen with cheap Cultists (who also have Infiltrate and Objective Secured in an Alpha Legion CAD), thus allowing your elite troops to keep shooting for a couple more rounds unmolested by enemy assaults.

As I mentioned earlier, I think probably the best way to maximize Alpha Legion Chosen is to Infilitrate them INSIDE their DT Rhinos… not only does this give them great reach for their special weapons (i.e Infilitrate 18″ away, then move 6″ and disembark 6″, putting you a maximum of 6″ away from any enemy unit you are targeting), but it also provides another layer of protection for the Chosen that has to be stripped away before they can be engaged and it gives you even more cheap, mobile, MSU Objective Secured units (DT Rhinos of course count as a Troops choice themselves in a CAD, and so get Objective Secured as well as their passengers).

Finally, if you are not interested in getting up close early, you still have the option to Outflank your Mechanized Chosen squads, or you can even deploy them more conventionally, but with the advantage of seeing where all your opponent’s forces are already deployed, since they get to Infiltrate after normal deployment has been completed. No matter which way you go, Alpha Legion Chosen are exceptional flexible units that, in the hands of a competent commander, will be very effective in the 40K meta going forward, I think.

 

 

Traitor Legions: Daemon Princes and new Relics

There is so much to digest with the new Traitor Codex rumors, but as I look through them, one thing that consistently jumps out to me is how powerful some of the new Relics would be when paired with a Daemon Prince (fortunately, it appears that even though certain Traitor Legions cannot take Marked Units, like Alpha Legion and Iron Warriors, they all can still take Daemon Princes with their mandatory “Daemon of X” upgrades).

We of course do not know if any of the Relics are restricted in manner that Daemon Princes cannot take (for example, it looks like some of the Iron Warrior Relics are “Warpsmith only” choices), but we know that Daemon Princes provide a very solid “base” stat line, especially with Wings to make them FMCs:

-WS9 BS5 S6 T5 W4 I8 A5 Ld9 Sv 5++

-Rules: Daemon, Fearless, VotLW, Fear, Hammer of Wrath, MtC, Relentless, Smash

-Upgrades: PML(1-3), Wings, Power Armor, Chaos Rewards, Chaos Artifacts, Daemon of Slaanesh/Khorne/Tzeentch/Nurgle(required)

Now, looking at this within the context of the new Legion Relics, here are some potentially competitive combinations between them and a Daemon Prince:

 

—Black Legion—(NOTE: BL Daemon Princes all get Hatred(Everyone) and Endless Hatred (Imperium), which is quite a solid buff in combat)

[1] Skull of Ker’ngar — Gives Eternal Warrior and Adamantium Will, both very solid buffs a for any Daemon Prince, especially against opponents that can bring lots of S10 attacks against him. Combine with a Winged Nurgle DP with Power Armor and you have a VERY survivable “tank” type unit.

[2] Spineshiver Blade — Daemon Weapon that grants +1I to user. Upgrade a Winged Khorne DP with this Relic and on the charge you have between 8 and 12 S6 AP2 attacks at WS9/I9 (unless you roll a “1” for the Daemon Weapon), which should be devastating to enemy characters, squads, and MCs alike.

 

—Alpha Legion—

[1] Drakescale Plate — Gives bearer 2+ save and a 2++ against flamer weapons. Add this to a Wing DP of Tzeentch (for re-rolls of all saving throws of 1) and you have a very difficult FMC to kill without dedicated AP2/1 Skyfire shooting.

[2] Blade of the Hydra — S: User AP5 Daemon Weapon with Rending and Multi-Headed (every roll of 6 to Hit generates another attack until you no longer roll any 6s to Hit). Combine with a winged Khorne DP with Power Armor and you can potentially put out A TON of S6 AP2 Rending attacks each turn, depending on your “Daemon Weapon” and “Multi-Headed” rolls.

[3] Vipers Bite — Basically a Bolter with S5 AP2 ammo, this is a cheap and useful ranged addition to any Winged DP, especially when using their BS5 (remember, when they are flying, the can shoot at Swooping FMCs and Zooming Flyers at full BS). Combine this weapon with Psychic Shriek and your Winged DP can be an exceptional “dogfighter” FMC for killing enemy FMCs like Hive Tyrants, Chaos Daemon FMCs, Tau “Coldstar” Battlesuits, etc.

 

—Iron Warriors—-(NOTE: IW Daemon Princes get FNP(6+), which is a nice little boost to durability)

[1] Axe of the Forge Master — S:+1 AP2 Armourbane, Master-Crafted, Unwieldy. Since Monstrous Creatures ignore Unwieldy, a Slaanesh DP with Wings, Power Armor, and this Relic can be a premier Tank Hunter, using its 12″ Move + D6+3″ Run to get across the table turn 1, then charge a vehicle turn 2 with 6 x S7 AP2 Armourbane attacks (with MCed for a re-roll in their too).

[2] Fleshmetal Exoskeleton — Another Relic that grants a 2+ save to its bearer, but also IWND, which combines quite well with a the 4W on a Daemon Prince. Upgrade a PML(3) Nurgle Winged DP with this Relic and roll to get Fleshy Abundance power on the new Nurgle discipline (i.e. adds back D3 wounds lost earlier in the battle) and you have an exceptionally difficult to wound, and keep wounded, FMC to threaten you opponent with.

 

—Night Lords—(NOTE: NL Daemon Princes get free Stealth, which gives them a 3+ save when Jinking as FMCs)

[1] Scourging Chains — For only 2 MBs, you get Shred on your Melee attacks, which is an amazing upgrade on a DP that already has 6 x S6 AP2 attacks on the charge naturally. Almost a mandatory upgrade on a Night Lords DP that is not taking a different Relic already, I think.

[2] Stormbolt Plate — Gives bearer a 2+ armor save and +1 to its Cover save. Combine this with a Winged Tzeentch DP and you have a ridiculously durable FMC… 2+ armor, 2++ cover save when jinking (Jink + Stealth + Bonus to cover save from Relic), and re-rolls of all 1 to Save (so a 97% chance of saving wounds against any shooting attacks that are not both AP2/1 AND Ignore Cover!).

[3] Curze’s Orb — Re-roll all 1s for Run, to Hit, and to Wound rolls. Again, for only 4 MBs, this is a great buy on a Daemon Prince, as it makes mobility and hitting power that much more reliable for a very reasonable points cost.

 

—Word Bearers—(NOTE: WB Daemon Princes harness WCs on a 3+ for any Malefic Powers)

[1] Crown of the Blasphemer — Gives a 4++ and Adamantium Will. Combine this with a PML(3) Tzeentch Daemon Prince rolling hard on the Malefic table for Cursed Earth (i.e. +1 to Daemon Invuls and no Scatter for DSing Daemon units within 12″) and you can have a 3++ save, with re-rolls of 1s, to make quite a tough target to engage (on top of this, the DP can summon more Daemons to support your army and/or use Malefic witchfires to soften up nearby enemy units).

[2] Cursed Crozius — Basically a Power Maul that gives the bearer PE: Imperium, this not only bumps a Daemon Prince’s attacks up to S8 AP2 (or S9 AP2 on the charge for a Khorne DP), but also makes them much more dangerous against any Imperium forces, which accounts for a lot of the enemy armies you are likely to face (and all for 7 MBs, which is pretty reasonable as far as Relics go).

 

—World Eaters—(NOTE: Of course, WE Daemon Princes MUST have Daemon of Khorne upgrade)

[1] Talisman of Burning Blood — While this is most likely to be used on an Independent Character in order to boost an entire attached squad with its benefits (i.e. +3″ to all move, run, and charge ranges for a unit), allowing a Winged DP to move 15″ and charge 2D6+3″ means you have a very solid chance of a first turn charge with that FMC, especially if he comes from the World Eater’s special detachment that gives a free, pre-game 2D6″ move (not a Scout move, so you can still charge turn 1 after doing this) and free re-rolls of failed charges.

[2] Berserker’s Glaive — A two-handed Daemon Weapon that grants the bearer +2S, IWND, and FNP (at the cost of losing Independent Character, which DPs do not have anyway), this weapon means a Khorne Winged Daemon Prince with Power Armor can generate between 8-12 S9 AP2 attacks on the charge, all the while protected by 3+/5++, T5, FNP, and IWND abilities.

[3] Crimson Killer — Basically a Plasma Pistol, but with Soul Blaze and no Get’s Hot!, this relatively cheap Relic (4 MBs) actually goes quite well with a BS5 Winged Daemon Prince, as he can shoot at both ground and air units with a S7 AP2 shot at full ballistic skill each, even when Swooping.

 

—Thousand Sons—(NOTE: TS Daemon Princes with a Blessing Cast on them improve to a 4++ save; also, they must be Daemons of Tzeentch, of course)

[1] Seer’s Bane — A Daemon Weapon with Force that uses the bearer’s Ld for Strength and the opponent’s Ld for Toughness. If you successfully cast Force on the Tzeentch DP, then not only does it improve to a 4++ save, but you also gain Instant Death for this Daemon Weapon. Given that a Daemon Prince has Ld9, you will wound most enemies on a 3+ or even 2+, but against enemies with Ld9 you will wound on a 4+ and against opponents with Ld 10, on a 5+. Obviously, since the majority of enemy close combat beasts are Ld 10, this would not necessarily seem the best weapon for a DP in challenge (i.e. wounding on 5+s), but given that all wounds are AP2, occur at WS9/I8, and have Instant Death with Force activated, I think this is actually better than one might expect on first thought. This is especially good against very high Toughness opponents, like Wraithknights, which DPs would be wounding on 6+s anyways, since this gives you a real shot at killing them quickly (i.e. Instant Death eliminates their FNP rolls and removes D3 wounds per Unsaved Wound). NOTE: If you can get multiple Heldrakes from a Heldrake Terror Pack within 12″ of your opponent, or you can charge them with two units from a Raptor Talon, then you can lower their Ld significantly to make this an even more powerful weapon.

[2] Staff of Arcane Compulsion — This might actually be an even better option for a Thousand Sons Daemon Prince than Seer’s Bane. Basically a Force Maul (S: +2 AP4, Force, Concussive) with an ability that causes enemy charging the bearer to suffer a -2 penalty to their charge range), this Relic gives a Tzeentch DP 6 x S8 AP2 attacks on the charge with Concussive and Instant Death, meaning that is very strong against squads of infantry, light-medium vehicles, and even tough ICs/MCs (thanks to Instant Death from Force).

 

—Death Guard—(NOTE: DG Daemon Princes gain FNP, but also have -1I, so are I7 base)

[1] Pandemic Staff — Both a Ranged (Template S:1 AP5 Poisoned(2+)) and a Melee (S:+2 AP4. Concussive, Poisoned(2+)) weapon, for the costs of 6MBs this gives a Death Guard DP some solid versatility, with both anti-horde shooting and S8 AP2 Concussive/Poisoned attacks in combat (don’t forget, if your “natural” strength is higher than your opponent’s toughness when attack with a poisoned weapon, then you get to re-roll all failed to Wound Saves, so against T7 and below enemies, a DP equipped with this weapon basically also gets Shred for free).

[2] Plaguebringer — A Daemon Weapon with  S: User AP3 and Poisoned (4+), this combines quite well with a Death Guard/Nurgle DP. Daemon Weapon gives between 2-6 bonus attacks (all S6 AP2, thanks to the DP being a Monstrous Creature) on top of the base 6A on the charge, unless you roll a 1 for the Daemon Weapon, and poison allows for re-rolls to Wound against any opponents T5 and below, so a Daemon Prince equipped with this Relic makes for an excellent “squad killer” type HQ choice.

 

—Emperor’s Children—(Note: EC Daemon Princes all gain FNP(6+) and get one “free” attack before dying if slain in the Assault Phase)

[1] Intoxicating Elixir — For the price of 5 MBs, you get D3 rolls on the Combat Drugs chart, which means the Emperor’s Children DP can boost between 1-3 of hit stats in the following categories: +1WS, +1BS, +1 I, +1 A, +1S, or +1T. While WS, BS, and I are not that great (you already have super-high stats in those categories), buffs to number of attacks, strength, and/or toughness before the game even begins can take a Daemon Prince from formidable to outright devastating. If the DP is part of the Emperor’s Children special detachment, then he would actually get D3+1 rolls on the Combat Drugs table.

[2] Shriek Wave — A ranged weapon Relic with the following profile: 12″ S8 AP2 Assault D6, Mental Trauma (target takes leadership test and, if it fails, all wounds from this weapon gain Shred rule). With an average of 3-4 S8 AP2 attacks, this makes a Flying Daemon Prince a tremendous threat to everything from Flyers and enemy FMCs to medium vehicles and all kinds of enemy troops on the ground. One of the best ranged Relics in the game IMHO, especially on a highly mobile Winged DP.

[3] Endless Grin — Another very cheap Relic (2 MBs), this causes enemy units within 6″ of the bearer to have -1Ld. Combined with other Ld reduction shenanigans, or even with Psychic Shriek on the Daemon Prince himself, and you have a very solid force de-multiplier for very little points costs, especially when combined with the mobility of a Swooping FMC like a Winged DP.

 

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As you can see, there are A LOT of very competitive options here for Daemon Princes (and I did not even hit on all the Relics; there are still plenty of other combinations out there that might work well). Of course, we have to wait and see if there are restrictions on certain Relics (i.e. like “Sorcerer only,” or “Chaos Lord only,” or “cannot be taken by Daemon Princes,” but judging by the precedence set by the old CSM Codex and Wrath of Magnus, I expect only a few Relics to be restricted in this way. Hopefully this is true and we will see many powerful new Daemon Prince builds coming out in the near future (right now, I think the single most competitive one will be a Tzeentch Night Lords DP with Wings and Stormbolt Plate… being able to get a 2+ save, 2++ Jink save, and re-roll all saving throws of 1 makes for an almost invincible Monstrous Creature that already has very good mobility and close combat threat capacity!).

 

Traitor Legions: Emperor’s Children

Rumors are out in force now for the new Traitor’s Legion supplement for CSM and I am quite excited, both for 40K players who use CSM and for the game as a whole, since it appears that each legion is getting legitimate Relics, WL Traits, detachments, and “chapter tactics” unique to it.

One of the first things that caught my eyes is the special rules made available to the Emperor’s Children. Here are the special rules for Emperor’s Children we have seen so far:

—Emperor’s Children Restrictions/Requirements—

*Lucius is the only Unique CSM character they can take

*All units that can must take Mark of Slaanesh or Daemon of Slaanesh if they can

*All units that have access to it get VotLW for free

*All Psykers have access to the Slaanesh Psychic Discipline

 

—Special Rules—

*All units with VotLW gain Fearless & FNP (6+) (units with Icon of Excess get FNP (4+))

*All units with VotLW get 1 immediate :free” attack if slain during the Fight sub-phase

*Noise Marines are Troops choice

 

–Warlord Traits—

[1] Eternal Warrior

[2] +2 Initiative

[3] Add 1 to FNP of WL and his unit

[4] Gain Fear and opponents locked in CC with WL/his unit take fear on 3D6

[5] +1A each time you lose a wound (lose this if wounds are re-healed)

[6] Can auto-pass Look out Sir! rolls

 

–Relics–

[1] Intoxicating Elixir (25 points) — Make D3 rolls on combat drugs table (cumulative)

[2] Shriek Wave (20 points) — 12” S8 AP2, Assault D6, Mental Trauma (before shooting, Target takes Ld test and, if failed, this attack re-rolls to Wound rolls)

[3] Soul Snare Lash (20 points) – Ranged – 6” S4 AP5 Assault 2, Soul Snare; Melee – S: User AP5 melee, Soul Snare (Soul Snare: To wound roll of 6 is AP2/Instant Death)

[4] Endless Grin (10points) – Model has Fear and enemies within 6” have -1 Ld

[5] Bolts of Ecstatic Vexation (15 points) – Bearer’s Bolt Weapons gain Blast, Ignores Cover, and Pinning

[6] Blissgiver (30 points) – S: User AP3, Catatonic Trance (target must pass Ld test/per wound or be removed)
—Unique Emperor’s Children Detachment Rules—

*Re-roll WL Trait

*Combat Drugs (roll on table for all non-vehicles before game starts):

1- +1 WS

2- +1 BS

3- +1 I

4- +1 S

5 – +1 T

6- +1 A

-Core Choices: Chaos War Band, Kakophoni (Lucius/Chaos Lord, 3-6 Noise Marine; get Split Fire and all Sonic Weapons gain Shred; if you take 6 squads of Noise Marines, they also get +1S to their Sonic Weapons)

-Command Choices: Lord of Legion (Lord, Sorcerer, Dark Apostle, or Daemon Prince)

-Auxiliary Choices: Lost and the Damned, Hellforged Warpack, Heldrake Terror Pack, Cult of Destruction, Fist of the Gods, Raptor Talon, Terminator Annihilation Force, Spawn, Daemon Engine

—Slaanesh Psychic Discipline (Updated)—

[Primaris] – Sensory overload — Witchfire 24″, S4, AP4, Assault 4, Blind, Concussive, Pinning

[1] – Hysterical Frenzy (WC1) — Blessing 12″, Friendly units rolls on table for either +1I. +1S , or +1 A

[2] – Delightful Agonies (WC1) — Blessing 12″, Friendly unit gains FNP(4+)

[3] – Symphony of Pain (WC1) — Malediction 21″, Enemy unit loses -1 BS/WS and any Sonic Weapons shooting this targeted unit add +1S (cumulative)

[4] – Sonic Shockwave (WC1) — Nova 9″, S5 AP4 Assault D6, Pinning, Ignores Cover

[5] – Aural Onslaught (WC2) — Beam 18″, S8, AP2 Assault 1, Mental Anguish (before attack, target takes Ld test and if fails you reroll to-wounds here)

[6] – Apoplectic Glee (WC2) — Witchfire 24″, S: Special AP- Assault 1, Ignores Cover, Ecstasy (no roll to wound, rather all non-vehicles hit themselves using their own unmodified strength)

 

Based on all this, I think there are a lot of excellent possibilities, but what has me really interested is something like this:

(CORE) –Kakophoni Formation with Terminator Lord  (Mark of Slaanesh), 6 x 10 man Noise Marine squads (all with Sonic Blasters, dual Blastmasters,  and Icon of Excess)

(COMMAND) — Terminator Lord  (Mark of Slaanesh)

(AUX) — Terminator Annihilation Force with Terminator Lord (Mark of Slaanesh), 3 squads of Terminators with Combi-Meltas, Power Mauls/Power Fists, Icon of Excess, Mark of Slaanesh)

Right out the gate, this gives you 6 squads of Noise Marines with Fearless, FNP(4+), S5 Sonic Blasters with Shred, and a roll on the Combat Drugs Table to form a very potent “firebase anvil” for any CSM army you are building. On top of that, you have 3 x Terminator squads with attached Terminator Lords, all with 2+/5++, Fearless, FNP(4+), Combat Drugs, and lots of Melta to take out vehicles/MCs when they Deep Strike in as a “close combat hammer” element of your army.

What I really think makes all this work, despite the somewhat high cost of Noise Marines with Sonic Weapons and Terminators with Combi-Meltas, is that they are automatically Fearless (mitigating their lack of ATSKNF compared to loyalist Astartes) and they have FNP(4+), which basically doubles their survivability against any S7 and below attacks. Finally, they have solid offensive punch, with lots of I5 in close combat, S5 AP5 Shred, Ignore Cover, Sonic Blasters, S9 AP3 Small Blast, Ignore Cover, Pinning, Blast Masters, and combi-Meltas.

 

Custodes Caladius Grav-Tank

While the Caladius is being released by Forgeworld for 30K only right now, I think it is highly likely to be added as an option for the Agents of the Imperium codex (which will include Custodes) in 40K in the future. Based on that possibility, here are some initial thoughts on the tactical employment of this advanced combat vehicle, if it does indeed port over to the 40K universe:

In terms of stats, the Caladius is a Fast Skimmer with BS5 AV13/13/11 and 3HPs. It also comes with POTMS, Deep Strike, and Outflank (the 30K version also has Flare Shields and Grav-Backwash, but I doubt that will be included in a 40K version). In terms of weapons, it has:

[1] TLed Lastrum Bolt Cannon (36″ S6 AP3, Heavy 3, Heliothermic Detonation) on its hull

[2] TLed Iliastus Accelerator Cannon (60″ S7 AP2, Heavy 3, Rending, Rapid Tracking, Heliothermic Detonation) on its turret (Note: Rapid Tracking allows the Iliastus Accelerator Cannon to ignore Jink saves and Heliothermic Detonation allows both weapons to add +1 on the Vehicle Damage table for penetrating hits and force a Toughness test for Unsaved Wounds, with any model failing that test suffering Instant Death).

Finally, the Caladius can take Armoured Ceramite for 4 MBs and/or Extra Armor for 1 MB as upgrades (the entire vehicle without upgrades is just shy of 40 MBs in price).

In terms of tactical employment, this is basically a more expensive, more capable Sicarian Predator tank. With BS5, TLed on both of its weapons, and its status as a Fast Skimmer, the Caladius can move 12″, shoot both of its weapons (each at a different target, thanks to POTMS), and have 97% accuracy for all of its shots. AV13 on its front and sides mean it is quite durable, as long as you keep enemy forces away from its rear arc, and can ignore S6 and below shooting attacks from the front/sides (this is especially true if you take Armoured Ceramite for Melta immunity). Finally, if you need to get it into a specific firing position (or to grab an Objective), it has superior mobility options from the ability to Deep Strike, Outflank, or move 30″ in a single turn (12″ normal move + 18″ Flat Out for being a Fast Skimmer). All in all, you pay quite a lot for this vehicle, but in return you get a VERY capable vehicle all three key classifications of mobility, durability, and firepower.

Speaking of firepower, I think there are several very good targets for the Caladius:

[1] Bikes and Jetbikes — With the ability to ignore Jink saves for the Iliastus Accelerator Cannon, coupled with TLed BS5 and S7 AP2, you have a VERY good chance of killing two to three bikes a turn with this weapon, despite their T5 and access “built-in” cover saves. Add in three BS5 TLed more shots from the Lastrum Bolt Cannon and this tank can reliably kill (or at least reduce to just one or two survivors) an entire Biker or Jetbike squad every Shooting Phase (the long range of these two weapons, coupled with the ability to move 12″ and still shoot, makes this even more effective). If you are able to successful cast Phase Form on the Caladius, then it gets even better at this roll, ignoring both LOS and enemy cover saves with BOTH of its weapons.

[2] Monstrous Creatures and Hero ICs– Combining the high strength/low AP of both its weapons and the built in superior accuracy makes the Caladius quite good at chipping wounds off of MCs and ICs, especially at long range, before they can get in close to shoot and/or assault. What really makes this tank shine in this roll, however, is the Heliothermic Detonation rule; while T5+ MCs are unlikely to fail a Toughness test, if you inflict unsaved wounds enough times in different shooting phases, the odds are the will and, on that one time that they do, they lose any FNP they have (i.e. Riptides) and they also lose all their remaining wounds in a single shot. Against T4 and below ICs, failing a Toughness Test is even more likely (casting Enfeeble on the target can make this even more probable), which means that Warlords without Eternal Warrior have to be very wary of the Caladius.

[3] Medium/Light Skimmers  — Ignoring Jink makes a big difference here, as does lots of accurate S7 and S6 shots that chip off HPs rapidly (or cause an Explodes! result on a roll of 5+, in the case of a Penetrating Hit from the Iliastus Accelerator Cannon). Many Skimmers also tend to use mobility and long-ranges to avoid enemy shooting, but the Caladius can often outmaneuver and outrange these opponents, thus negating these tactics. Finally, if using Deep Strike or Outflank effectively, the Caladius can get good flank or even rear armor shots, making even its S6 AP3 TLed Lastrum Bolt Cannon a threat. Basically, all Eldar, Dark Eldar, Tau, Necron, and Astartes Skimmers have to be very careful when an enemy Caladius in on the field.

[4] Heavy Infantry — Units like Tau Battlesuits, Centurions, Terminators, Meganobz, Wraithguard, Lychguard, Ogryns, Obliterators, and (ironically) enemy Custodes are all excellent targets for a Caladius’ weapons load-out. Combine this with the new Null Zone power, to reduce enemy Invul saves by -2, and you kill several dangerous/expensive enemy heavy infantry models each turn at quite long-ranges (i.e. for example, a Caladius could reliably kill and entire 3-man Crises squad each Shooting Phase, which would be pretty devastating for a Farsight Enclave army based around lots of these).

In terms of survivability, there are a couple of ways to enhance the Caladius’ chances of surviving enemy attacks directed at it. First, you can use a friendly Sky-Shield Landing Pad to provide it with a “free” 4++ save on top of its AV 13/13/11, without having to Jink (and so lose most of its firepower). Second, you can cast Warpmetal Armour on it, bringing its stats up to AV14/14/12 (so basically a Land Raider from the front and sides). Finally, you can repair it with the Reforge power (and grant it IWND in the process) and, if you have to, Jink for a 4++ cover save if you are desperate. Probably the best defense for this Grav-Tank is to use its range and mobility to keep it out of range/LOS from the most dangerous enemy weapons and take Armoured Ceramite to protect if from enemy meltacide squads.