Roboute Guilliman: Building a Bodyguard for the Primarch (Part II)

One of the big topics among 40K players right now seems to be how to use the newly returned Primarch, Roboute Guilliman, effectively on the tabletop. More specifically, most of these discussions seem to center around how to keep him alive efficiently, since he is a Monstrous Creature and thus cannot join units, ride in transports, or even embark inside fortifications.

While the Victrix Guard formation exists and has special rules that allows Guilliman to use Look out Sir! with its members, it is an inherently expensive formation and perhaps not the most efficient way to keep him alive against powerful enemy shooting, especially the ever-prevalent Graviton weapons in the current meta.

As I have thought about, I think one of the best body guard “battle groups” for Guilliman might look something like this:

-Roboute Guilliman

-3-5 Bullgryns (with Carapace Armor and Slabshields)

-Sevrin Loth (selecting the Telepathy, Invisibility, Terrify, and Psychic Shriek powers)

The way this works is pretty simple: the Bullgryn squad (with Loth attached) “bubble wrap” Guilliman to obscure him from enemy shooting from all different directions. Because of their special Slabshields, they provide him with 4+ cover save, instead of the normal 5+ cover save provided by intervening models. Loth then casts The Shrouding, granting the Bullgryns a 3+ armor save/5+ cover save in the open and giving Guilliman a 2+ cover save (i.e. Bullgryn cover + Shrouded), which is a significant step up from his normal 3++ save against AP2/1 shooting attacks (like Grav and Plasma Weapons).

By itself, this would be a solid improvement in the Primarch’ survivability, but Loth has one more trick up his sleeve… Invisibility. If he can successfully cast this on Guilliman as well, then all enemy shooting is hitting on 6+, which drastically improves his durability, especially if successfully combined with a 2+ cover save from The Shrouding, as described above. With both of these powers successfully cast and the Bullgryns screening, it takes an average of 54 x BS4 Grav Cannon/Amp shots to cause a SINGLE unsaved wound on Guilliman (so 324 Grav Cannon/Amp shots to kill him outright).

An added benefit of this battle group is that the Bullgryns/Loth are a solid “anvil” unit in their own right and, aside from combining to give Guilliman enhanced protection, they can easily tie up (or even defeat) enemy “chaff” units, thus freeing the UM Primarch to use his assault abilities against the more important enemy forces, where his mass S10 AP2/S: D attacks can really make the biggest impact (Note: Loth can use his 2++ to tank low AP attacks for the Bullgryns and the Bullgryns can use their 3W per model and T5 to absorb high volume attacks away from Loth).

Now, there are some drawbacks to this battle group: first, while not as crazy as the Victrix Guard, it is still pretty points intensive for a normal 1750-2000 point game and also requires at least two CADs/Allied Detachments (i.e. one Astra Militarum for the Bullgryns, one Red Scorpion one for Sevrin Loth, with Guilliman taking up a LOW slot for either one of them). Additionally, it does require successfully casting two WC2 powers a turn to work at maximum efficiency, which is pretty hard to do reliably (even with a PML(3) caster like Loth). Finally, everyone (including Guilliman) is still on foot and so can only move up 6″ + D6″ run each turn, which means agile opponents can still avoid getting charged by these units (even if they have a very difficult time hurting them, especially Guilliman).

On the other hand, if these units do get into combat, they will wreck house, especially with the close combat prowess and buffs that the UM Primarch brings to the table, Perhaps equally important, this battle group has the capacity to absorb TONS of firepower away from the rest of your army, which in turn can allow them to maneuver, shoot, charge, seize objectives, cast powers, etc. etc. with relative impunity… I think a mechanized Astra Militarum force or an elite infantry heavy Red Scorpion army in particular could do really well with this kind of support, especially since the types of weapons they are vulnerable to are exactly the weapons your opponent will have to divert to trying to kill Guilliman.

Overall, this is battle group is definitely not an “auto-win” choice, but if you are planning to field Guilliman anyway and have a strategy built around keeping him alive and getting him into close combat, then I think it can be an effective addition to your Imperium of Man task force.

 

Castellans of the Imperium: Fielding a Competitive “Task Force”

So, I have been wracking my brains for a while to try and come up with a competitive, effective combination of units from the recent Castellans of the Imperium detachment to try out. In many ways, this detachment is kind of an embarrassment of riches, with so many options that it is hard to find a place to actually start. The ability to take 0-6 of the Elites/Fast Attack/Heavy Support from so many different factions, plus 4+ Troops, 2-4 HQs, and 0-3 Lords of War, provides a TON of different options. Finally, on top of all this, EVERYONE (even vehicles, like Dreadnoughts and Sentinels) get Hatred and your Troop units (again, according to my reading of the rules, this includes Dedicated Transport vehicles of Troops choices) get to “resurrect” on a 5+ and come back into the game on the next turn, which is pretty amazing!

After mulling over this a while, I decided that at the core of my “Castellans Task Force” would be three units:

[1] – Coteaz — A no brainer choice here, he provides so much value with  his re-rolls to Seize the Initiative, multi-use-per-turn “Interceptor” rule, and, of course, the ability to grant all non-vehicle models in his detachment Objective Secured (which is HUGE for this army). All of this plus a 2+ save, S6 AP2 Force weapon, and PML(2) for only 20 MBs is incredible value!

[2] — 5 woman Battle Sisters squads (with dual Meltas and MM Immolator DT) — This unit provides several benefits tot he army: first, it provides very solid anti-tank/anti-MC shooting with its multiple BS4 meltas and the TLed MMs on the Immolators; second, it gives you 8 small units that can “resurrect” on a 5+ if they are destroyed, which can be very important late game for taking back objectives (remember, because of Coteaz, the Sisters themselves are Objective Secured). Finally, it meets the minimum 4 Troop requirement without breaking the bank, leaving plenty of points for the rest of your army (four squads like this comes in at 560 points, which leaves you 1440 points left over in a 2000 point game, which is what I normally play).

[3] — 3 man White Scar Scout Biker squads (with Locator Beacon and Sgt with MB) — These squads provide so many functions, it is hard to capture them all. First, they can Infiltrate and Scout (or Outflank, if you need them to), getting them right where you want them before Turn 1 even begins. Second, they are Objective Secured (thanks again, Coteaz!), so they can use their 12″ move and 12″ Turbo-boost all game long to grab key objectives easily. Third, they have Skilled Rider (so 3++ Jink save and ignoring all Difficult/Dangerous Terrain tests) and Hit and Run (so jumping out of combat when needed. Fourth, with the MB and Hatred, they can be quite a sneaky good little Tank Hunter unit. Finally, with their Locator Beacon they can bring in ANY Deep Striking element (including Jump Pack units, Drop Pods, Gates of Infinity units, etc.) with no scatter, which can make a tremendous difference in the overall game (more on this later).

Alright, if I tally up the Army List so far, with 4 x Battle Sisters squads, 2 x White Scar Scout Biker squads, and Coteaz that is a total of 800 points, leaving us with 1200 left to play with. Now, we need at least one more HQ to meet the minimum Castellans of the Imperium requirements. We also need so hard-hitting ranged firepower against both hordes and heavy infantry/MCs, and I would like to work in a solid close combat element as well. Finally, to truly be a balanced TAC list, we need some form of anti-Flyer/Anti-FMC as well.

Looking at all this, I think another very potent (and perhaps under-appreciated) unit is the Wyvern Battery. For only 13 MBs, you get an artillery tank with AV12/10/10 that puts out 4 x TLed S4 AP6 Ignore Cover, Shred, Barrage, Small Blast shots a turn at 48″. This is obviously exceptionally against any kind of light infantry and can even force lots of wounds on MEQs if required (because it Ignore Cover, the Wyvern can be a great insurance policy against units that rely on strong cover saves, like Ravenwing Bikers, as well). Normally, a battery of  Wyverns takes up one of the three valuable Heavy Support slots, but in this case you have 0-6 Heavy Support choices, so you can take multiple “solo” Wyverns and still have plenty of Heavy Support choices remaining. Let’s take three Wyverns (each in a single vehicle battery), which costs a total of 195 points, leaving us with 1005 points left for the army.

Next, we need something to deal with those omni-present Wraithlords, Stormsurges, Dreadknights, Daemon Princes, etc. Of course, the best answer is Grav Cannons, especially Relentless ones coming off a Drop Pod. A squad of Devastators with 4 Grav Cannons (who happen to be Objective Secured… thanks a third time, Coteaz!) riding in a Drop Pod ought to fit quite nicely here. The problem, of course, is that they are not Relentless, and would normally only get 12 Grav shots at 12″ when they came in… enter the Terminator Captain in Cataphractii Armor (who is our second mandatory HQ choice, by the way).

In addition to being a tremendous “tank” character with his 2+/4++ (and re-rolls of failed Invul saves of 1), he has Slow and Purposeful, which conveys to the entire squad he is attached to. This means they cannot Overwatch, Run, or conduct Sweeping Advances, but is ALSO means they shoot at full capacity with Heavy/Salvo weapons (like Relentless) after moving, which is obviously very good with Grav Cannon Devastators. So, take a 5 man Devastator Squad with 4 Grav Cannons and a Drop Pod (take the Isstvaan V Dropsite Massacre legacy of glory for no scatter Deep Strike), then attach the Cataphractii Captain (and give him a Relic Blade and the Hunter’s Eye Relic, for Ignore Cover goodness) and you have a unit that can drop in Turn 1 and unleash 20 Grav Cannon/Amp shots with Ignore Cover for a total of 420 points (this unit should statistically kill a Wraithknight in a single volley)… this leaves us with 595 points left to use, and still a need form some anti-Flyer and close combat capability in the unit.

In terms of Anti-Flyer, I think pound-for-pound the Stormhawk Interceptor is one of the best “all-rounders” in the game (assuming we are NOT using Death from the Skies supplement, as per the current ITC FAQ). For only 29 MBs, you get a Flyer with Av12/11/11 (so cannot be hurt by lucky Bolter shots, unlike the Stormtalon) and 2HPs that puts out 2 x S9 AP2 shots at 24″, 4 x TLed S6 AP4 Rending shots at 24″, and 2 x Krak or Frag Missiles at 48″ a turn. Taking one of these and you have some very solid anti-Flyer, anti-tank, anti-MC, and anti-horde ability all rolled into a pretty survivable platform, thanks to ground units only being able to Snapfire when shooting at them, so a very versatile option here. This leaves us with 450 points left to spend.

Finally, we need some close combat punch… while there are lots of options in the Castellans of the Imperium detachment, I think this is where we reach out to an allied formation, namely the Shadowstrike Kill Team formation from Angels of Death. You must include 2-4 Scouts and 1-3 Vanguard Veterans (must take Jump Pack upgrades), but in turn get the option to choose (rather than roll for) when your Vanguard come in from Reserve and also the ability to charge on the same turn they arrive by Deep Strike (if within 9″ of two Scout squads from this formation, they do no scatter).

So, based on that, I would take two squads of White Scar Sniper Scouts (for holding backfield Objectives and providing a bodyguard to Coteaz), which costs us 24 MBs, leaving 330 points. With those remaining points, I would then take a pair of White Scar Vanguard squads with, each with 5 models, two Storm Shields, a Power Maul, and two Power Fists, which is exactly 330 points on the nose. Being able to automatically charge out of Reserve on turn 2 (and use the Scout Biker Locator Beacons to prevent scattering) makes for a very solid melee counter-punch and gives lots of flexibility against a variety of armies (and Hit and Run gives them the ability to get out of combat and charge again, as required).

Taking all this together, you have the following for a 2000 point army:

CASTELLANS OF THE IMPERIUM

—HQ—

*Coteaz

*Cataphractii Terminator Captain

—TROOPS—

*5 model Battle Sisters with dual meltas and Immolator DT

*5 model Battle Sisters with dual meltas and Immolator DT

*5 model Battle Sisters with dual meltas and Immolator DT

*5 model Battle Sisters with dual meltas and Immolator DT

—FAST ATTACK—

*3 model Scout Bikers with Locator Beacon and MB

*3 model Scout Bikers with Locator Beacon and MB

*Stormhawk Interceptor with CML upgrade

—HEAVY SUPPORT—

*5 model Devastators with 4 Grav Cannons, Drop Pod (with Isstvaan V Dropsite Massacre legacy of glory upgrade)

*Wyvern

*Wyvern

*Wyvern

SHADOWSTRIKE KILL TEAM

*5 model Scout squad with Sniper Rifles

*5 model Scout squad with Sniper Rifles

*5 model Vanguard squad with JPs, 2 PFs, 2 Storm Shields, and a Power Maul

*5 model Vanguard squad with JPs, 2 PFs, 2 Storm Shields, and a Power Maul


Overall, I think this gives us a very versatile army that has answers for hordes, Flyers/FMCs, heavy infantry, vehicles, and Monstrous Creatures/GMCs, plus has solid assault abilities and lots of units for taking Objectives. Not a perfect list by any means, but a very flexible one that can genuinely take on almost any opponent with a fair chance of success, I believe.

Triumvirate of the Imperium: Belsarius Cawl, Imperial Knights, and the Emperor’s Talon Recon Company

So, the other day I saw a showcase of an Imperial Knights army supported by Sentinels as their “men at arms” and I thought this was a very thematic army, as well as one that had some tactical merit (i.e. the Sentinels fill in some of the weaknesses of Imperial Knights, being relatively cheap and able to provide board control, screening, and engagement of multiple targets a turn; conversely, IKs complement Sentinels well by providing high-threat targets that distract enemy attacks from the fragile walkers, strong close combat abilities, and high end firepower to boot).

Based on this, I put together the following 2000 point list trying to maximize the strengths of such a combination:

—IMPERIAL KNIGHT HOUSEHOLD—

*[Warlord] Knight Crusader with Avenger Cannon, RF Battle Cannon, Stormspear Rocket Pod, Memento-Mortispex Relic (495)

*Knight Crusader with Avenger Cannon, RF Battle Cannon, Stormspear Rocket Pod (465)

*Knight Crusader with Avenger Cannon, RF Battle Cannon, Stormspear Rocket Pod (465)

—EMPEROR’S TALONG RECON COMPANY—

*3 x Scout Sentinels with Multi-Lasers (105)

*3 x Scout Sentinels with Multi-Lasers (105)

—CULT MECHANICUS ALLIED DETACHMENT—

*Belisarius Cawl (200)

*3 Kataphron Destroyers with Heavy Grav Cannons (165)

 

So, that is a 2000 point force on the nose. The Imperial Knights are all Crusaders with Stormspear Rocket Pods because of the versatility of firepower it provides (i.e. between them, they can target up to 9 different units with 36 x S6 AP3 Rending shots, 9 x S8 AP3 shots, and 6 x S8 AP3 Large Blasts; on top of that, they can shoot their Heavy Stubbers at different units to enable them to charge something other than what they shot at).

On top of all this, my Warlord would be a Baron (getting WS5/BS5 for free) and the ability to re-roll WL traits (aiming for Landstrider or Ion Bulwark)… combine this with its multiple shooting options and you have a very potent ranged and close combat unit. Lastly, the Warlord also takes the Memento-Mortispex Relic (thanks to Cawl being in the same army), which gives it the choice of Tank Hunter, Monster Hunter, and Skyfire each turn, making it exceptionally versatile and potent against a whole range of targets (i.e. imagine shooting at a Flying Hive Tyrant with 12 x S6 AP3 shots and 3 x S8 AP3 shots, all at BS5).

As for the Sentinels, they provide cheap firepower (18 x S6 shots a turn, with Preferred Enemy against a selected enemy target), objective grabbing while the Knights take care of business (it helps that they have Scout/Outflank and Move Through Cover for this role), and even a form of light screening to “tarpit” enemy units in close combat so that the Knights can keep shooting unmolested, if required. Finally, Cawl and the Kataphron Destroyers provide a small “firebase” unit than can hold Objectives in the backfield and shoot out to 30″ with 18 Graviton shots a turn. In this unit, Cawl can tank for the Destroyers with his 2+/5++, FNP, and 5 wounds, while also providing potent close combat abilities in case they are assaulted, and the Destroyers can deal with TEQs, Monstrous Creatures,  etc. so the Knights can maximize their combat power against other units.

Importantly for the entire army, Cawl can use his special Canticles to “buff” all friendly Cult Mechanicus units and also all Imperium vehicles within 12″ (so that means both the Knights and Sentinels) with +1BS for a turn (so all Knights in range become BS5, Sentinels in range become BS4, and the Destroyers become BS4), a 6++ save for a turn (great for the Sentinels and for covering the sides of Knights not protected by their Ion Shields), and IWND for a turn (again, great for a chance at restoring lost HPs in this army). He can also use the “normal” Canticles to buff himself and the Destroyers, so there is lots of versatility in the ways he can force multiply the entire battle group.

Overall, while this may not be a “top tier” competitive army, I think in the hands of a savvy commander in has all the tools to both defeat enemy units in combat and also grab Objectives in games where those are vital (remember, the Imperial Knights and also the Kataphron Destroyers are Objective Secured).

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.

Assault Vehicles for All!

While I think there is a need for “macro-changes” in 8th edition to help rectify the current discrepancy between shooting and assault, one thing I think that would help accomplish this at the more immediate level would be to provide an additional, affordable assault transport for every major faction so that their close combat troop are not stuck with either footslogging, riding in non-Assault vehicle transports, and/or paying 200+ points for Assault Vehicles.

Here is my stab at making this kind of vehicle for each faction (minus Chaos Daemons):

—————————————

RETALIATOR APC — (FAST ATTACK choice for Space Marines, Space Wolves, Dark Angels, Blood Angels, Deathwatch, Sisters of Battle, Inquisition, and Chaos Space Marines) — 100 points

BS4   AV13/11/10   3HP (Vehicle, Tank, Open-Topped)

Transport Capacity: 10 models (no Bulky/Very Bulky/Extremely Bulky models)

WAR GEAR:

-Pintle-mounted TLed Flamer (may upgrade to a TLed Melta Gun or TLed Plasma Gun)

-Siege Shield

-Omni Grenade Launcher — Every turn may choose to use Smoke Grenades (not limited to one use, unlike most vehicles) OR Concussion Grenades (enemy forces may not fire Overwatch at any unit that has disembarked from the Retaliator APC for the rest of the turn)

[***May take normal vehicle upgrades, per parent Codex***]

SPECIAL RULES:

-Advanced Repair Servo — Can repair Immobilized or Weapon Destroyed results or a lost HP on itself each turn (instead of shooting or moving Flat Out) on a successful roll of a 5+

—————————————

TELEPORTATION POD — (FAST ATTACK choice for Grey Knights) — 80 points

BS4   AV13/13/13   3HP (Vehicle, Immobile)

Transport Capacity: None

WAR GEAR:

-Gatling Psycannon

SPECIAL RULES:

-Deep Strike

-Drop Pod Assault

-Psychic Pilot (3) — Always knows Force, Banishment, The Shrouding (from Telepathy), and “The Summoning” powers (“The Summoning” is a WC1 blessing with 72″ range and no LOS requirements that teleports one friendly Grey Knight non-vehicle unit or Walker unit to within 6″ of the caster with no scatter, using the rules for Deep Strike; you can upgrade it to a WC3 power which acts in the exact same way, except that the teleported unit can charge on the same turn that it is teleported)

—————————————

CERBERUS APC — (FAST ATTACK choice for Astra Militarum and Genestealer Cult) — 75 points

BS3   AV12/12/10   3HP (Vehicle, Tank, Fast, Open-Topped)

Transport Capacity: 20 models

WAR GEAR:

-Pintle-mounted Quad Heavy Stubber

-Smoke Launchers

[***May take normal vehicle upgrades, per parent Codex***]

SPECIAL RULES:

-Suppressive Fire — Any non-vehicle units hit by the Quad Heavy Stubber must take a Pinning Check at the end of the Shooting phase

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CHAMELEON — (FAST ATTACK choice for Craftworld Eldar and Harlequins) — 90 points

BS4   AV12/12/10   3HP (Vehicle, Skimmer, Fast)

Transport Capacity: 12 models

WAR GEAR:

-TLed Shuriken Cannon

-Specter Holo-Matrix — Vehicle may re-roll failed Jink saves

-Star Engines

[***May take normal vehicle upgrades, per parent Codex***]

SPECIAL RULES:

-Assault Vehicle

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SCORPION (FAST ATTACK choice for Dark Eldar and Harlequins) — 110 points

BS4   AV10/10/10   3HP (Vehicle, Skimmer, Fast, Open-Topped)

Transport Capacity: 18 models

WAR GEAR:

-6 x Black Venom missiles (72″ S6 AP1 Fleshbane)

[***May take normal vehicle upgrades, per parent Codex***]

SPECIAL RULES:

-Unrivalled Assault Vehicle — Any units that charge into combat on the same turn that they disembark from this vehicle add +3″ to their charge range and gain +1S to all their close combat attacks during that fight sub-phase.

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KROOT WAR SKIFF (FAST ATTACK choice for Tau) — 60 points

BS3   AV11/11/11   3HP (Vehicle, Skimmer, Open-Topped)

Transport Capacity: 16 models

WAR GEAR:

-2 x Heavy Kroot Guns

SPECIAL RULES:

-War Totems — Only Shapers, Kroot, Kroot Hounds, and/or Krootox may embark on this vehicle. On any turn that a unit disembarks from this vehicle, it gains Hatred, Rage, and Furious Charge for the rest of the turn.

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DA CHOPPA’ WAGON (FAST ATTACK choice for Orks) — 110 points

BS2   AV14/11/10   4HP (Vehicle, Tank, Open-Topped)

Transport Capacity: 30 models

WAR GEAR:

-4 x TLed Big Shootaz

[***May take normal vehicle upgrades, per Ork Codex***]

SPECIAL RULES:

-More Dakka! — All vehicle weapons can fire at full BS if the vehicle has moved 12″ or less

-Da Biggest to da Front! — Every Nob, Mega Nob, and/or War Boss in a unit that disembarks from this vehicles gains +1A until the end of the phase.

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NECRONTYR WAR BARGE (FAST ATTACK choice for Necrons) — 80 points

BS4   AV11/11/11   4HP (Vehicle, Skimmer, Fast, Open-Topped)

Transport Capacity: 10 models

WAR GEAR:

-Gauss Cannon (may upgrade to a Tesla Cannon)

-Quantum Shielding

SPECIAL RULES:

-Living Metal

-Combat Protocol Beacon — Any friendly Necron non-vehicle units within 12″ of this vehicle gain Hatred

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BROODOFEX (FAST ATTACK choice for Tyranids) — 130 points

WS3 BS3 S6 T6 W4 I2 A2 Ld8 Sv2+  (Jump Monstrous Creature)

WAR GEAR:

-Acid Spray

-Stinger Salvo

[***May take normal Biomorph upgrades, per Tyranid Codex***]

SPECIAL RULES:

-Fearless

-Instinctive Behavior (Hunt)

-Brood Beast — Up to 30 Termagaunts/Hormaguants, 15 Genestealers, or 10 Tyranid Warriors may ride on a Broodofex exactly as if they were embarked on an open-topped transport vehicle (i.e. they can all shoot their weapons, they can disembark 6″ and assault the same turn, they are vulnerable to Template Weapons due to the No Escape! rule, etc.).

Hidden Gem: Centaur Weapons Carrier

Something which all the different Imperium factions have lacked, and still lack, is an affordable open-topped transport that provides their infantry with some mobility and protection, but still allows all the embarked models to shoot and/or assault when required. The closest thing to meeting this criteria is the Land Speeder Storm, but while an excellent multi-purpose transport, it is only allowed to transport Space Marine Scouts, so its utility in this role is quite limited for anything besides those Troops.

Enter the Centaur Weapons Carrier, a Forgeworld Astra Militarum vehicle that can be taken as a Fast Attack option in a CAD or Allied detachment (not to mention as a DT for certain DKOK and Armoured Battle Group units). The Centaur has the following stats/rules:

BS3 AV11/11/10 HP2 (Transport, Fast, Open-Topped)

*Heavy Stubber, Searchlight, Smoke Launchers

*Transport: 5 models

*1-3 Centaurs per Squadron, costs 8 MBs per model

On first glance, this vehicle costs the same points as a Land Speeder Storm and seems inferior in almost every way, with less mobility (Fast Vehicle vs Fast Speeder), less firepower (BS3 Heavy Stubber vs BS4 Heavy Bolter and Cerberus Launcher), and roughly the same survivability (AV11 on the front vs the ability to Jink).

So, why even consider taking a Centaur Weapons Carrier? Well, number one, it is not restricted to SM Scouts, so ANY Imperium infantry that can fit into it can load up as passengers (note: unlike Rhinos/Razorbacks, there is no restriction against Bulky models as passengers) and, number two, since you can take up to three Centaurs in a squadron, you can get a lot of them cheaply with even a “bare bones” AM Allied Detachment. On top of this, Centaurs are Fast Vehicles, meaning they can move 12” and then Flat Out another 12” turn 1, setting up an almost guaranteed Turn 2 charge if they are not destroyed (also, almost guaranteed to be in range of short-range shooting like meltas and flamers on turn 2). Combine this with some Psychic support, like say casting Invisibility on the Centaur squadron, and you can rapidly and reliably have up to 15 models in your opponent’s face by Turn 2 of the game.

So, based on all this, what are some tactical applications for the Centaur and allied Imperium units? Here are some ideas that come to mind for each major faction:

[1] Grey Knights – The Centaur makes an excellent little transport for a 5 man Purifier squad, since not only can the entire unit shoot out of it with SBs/Incinerators/Psycannons, but they can also using Cleansing Flame and assault out of the vehicle all in the same turn, thus maximizing all their different strengths while mitigating their lack of mobility and durability issues.

[2] Dark Angels – A Centaur makes for an excellent “mobile bunker” for a DA Command Squad with 5 Grav Guns and Relic Banner (making them Relentless). The Centaur can move up-field and have its passengers put out 15 Grav shots at 18” all game long, all the while protecting them from small arms fire and even serving as a LOS blocking vehicle for other DA units (i.e. say some RW Bikers moving up behind the Centaurs).

[3] Space Wolves – Whether using Centaurs as cheap Bunkers for Long Fangs (all five Heavy Weapons in a Long Fang squad can shoot out, since it is Open-Topped) or as cheap, mobile transport to “Rhino Rush” Blood Claws or close combat oriented Wolf Guard up-field, the Centaur can synergize quite well with a SW force (and again, the Centaur(s) can form an excellent LOS blocking shield for foot slogging Wulfen as they advance toward the enemy as well). Finally, even Lone Wolfs and Wolf Scouts can grab a ride in a Centaur to make them more effective on the table-top, especially in getting into assault.

[4] Blood Angels – BA Vanguard Vets (whether of the melee or gunslinger loadout) and Death Company without JPs both benefit tremendously from having a mobile assault transport that can move 24” Turn 1 and get them in range to assault the rest of the game. Similarly, basic BA Tac squads (with Heavy Flamers and dual Hand Flamers on the Sgt) and BA Assault Squads (with two Meltaguns and dual Inferno Pistols on the Sgt) get much better when they have a cheap Open-Topped transport to shoot and assault out of.

[5] Deathwatch – Unlike most factions, Deathwatch can take Terminators in squads of 1-2, which means they can load them into a Centaur (despite each TDA model being Bulky) and move safely up-field, all the while shooting with whatever Heavy Weapons they are packing (i.e. CMLs, Assault Cannons, Heavy Flamers, Melta PFs, etc.). On top of this, they can subsequently charge out of the Centaur later on, maximizing their value as close combatants as well. Aside from Terminators, DW Veterans also benefit tremendously from grabbing a ride in a Centaur, whether using it as a static Bunker for a Stalker Boltgun squad, an Assault Vehicle for a squad loaded up with PWs and Heavy Thunder Hammers, or a mobile firebase for a squad with maxed out Frag Cannons or Infernus Heavy Bolters. Even if you just keep the baseline Bolters/Special Issue Ammo or the DW Shotguns, a 5 man Veteran squad in Centaur is much more durable and mobile than normal for a relatively cheap points investment and suffers no loss in firepower in the process.

[6] Space Marines – Honor Guard, Command Squads, Devastator Squads, Vanguard Vets, Sternguard Vets, min-sized Tactical and Assault squads, Crusader squads, and even Sniper Scout squads can all take great advantage of a squadron of 1-3 allied Centaur Weapons Carriers. Of all of these, I think Honor Guard are one of the units that truly get the most out of riding in Centaur APC, as it allows them to rapidly move across the battlefield and assault into combat, thereby maximizing their tremendous points-value while mitigating their weakness, namely lack of mobility and no Invulnerable saves. Alternately, a Devastator squad with max Grav Cannons can move into mid-field and set up a massive, 48” “area denial bubble” with their 20 Grav shots fired safely from within the Centaur “bunker” (at least until your opponent takes out the Centaur itself). Finally, the Centaur makes an exceptional transport for a Librarius Conclave, which can use it to move into position to disembark and cast their powers, cast Witchfires from inside the vehicle, and even assault out of the vehicle if you have Iron Arm and Endurance up on the squad!

[7] Skitarii – Both Rangers and Vanguard can make excellent use of Centaur support, especially since they lack any organic transport of their own, and also because it mitigates their poor durability while simultaneously letting them still use all their firepower to full advantage (especially with their Plasma Calivers, Arc Rifles, etc.).

[8] Imperial Assassins – Whether it is a Vindicare using a Centaur as shooting bunker or an Eversor/ Callidus/Culexus using it as an “assault taxi” to get the quickly across the board into combat, I think Centaur squadrons can be quite a force multiplier for Imperial Assassins (especially in new detachments, like the Castellans of the Imperium, where you can have up to 6 Assassins on the field at once).

[9] Sisters of Battle – Dominion squads, Retributor squads, Battle Sisters squads, and Command squads all can benefit from an extra layer of mobility and protection while they employ their ranged attacks to best advantage. Additionally, Centaurs can take Repentia from almost unplayable to very dangerous, since it protects them from enemy firepower and allows them to get into assault reliably, even against units on the other side of the battlefield.

[10] Inquisition – Henchman War Bands, whether they are close combat oriented (i.e. like DCAs, Crusaders, and Priests) or shooting oriented (i.e. like Acolytes, Joakeros, and Heavy Weapon-toting Servitors), can all benefit from the Open-Topped nature of Centaurs, especially if you take multiple War Bands riding in a squadron of multiple Centaurs (attached Inquisitors can also shoot and/or assault effectively from these vehicles).

[11] Militarum Tempestus/Astra Militarum – Whether as a transport for Scions/Scion Command Squads or as mobile Bunker for AM Command Squads, Ratlings, and/or Wyrdvane Psykers, there are lots of applications for the Centaur with a MT/AM list proper, especially if you flood the battlefield with them (i.e. up to 9 Centaurs if you take three squadrons of them in CAD Fast Attack slots). In particular, I think Scion Command Squads with four Hotshot Volleyguns and AM Command Squads with four Special Weapons are excellent candidates for grabbing a ride in Centaur APCs.

As you can see, there are numerous options for utilizing Centaur Weapons Carriers with Imperium allies, and I did not even touch on using them as a “Hero Hammer APC” to ferry around 1-5 Independent Characters for shooting, Witchfires, and/or Assault (i.e. imagine, say, an AM Priest and four Wolf Guard Battle Leaders with Runic Armor and TH/Wolf Claws all assaulting out of a single Centaur). Bottom line, while this is a little known Forgeworld vehicle, I think it could be a tremendous boost to the competitive lists of most Imperium armies out there.

Triumverate of the Imperium: Belisarus Cawl and the Astra Militarum

Belisarus Cawl  is one of the new HQs available via the Fall of Cadia and, at the cost of 40 MBs, he has the following profile:

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WS5, BS5, S5, T6, W5, I3, A3, Ld10, Sv 2+

WARGEAR:

-Arc Scourge: S+1, AP4, Melee, Haywire, Master-Crafted, Machine Scourge (can re-roll the result of the Haywire rule)

-Solar Atomiser: Range 12″, S10, AP1, Assault D3, Master-crafted, Melta

-MCed Power Axe

-Mechadendrite Hive:  When a model with a Mechadendrite Hive makes it attacks, it makes an additional 2d6 attacks with its Mechadendrites (S4, AP-, Melee), and a single attack with its Dataspike (S User, AP-, Melee, Haywire), at the initiative 10 step (this does not grant an additional Pile In Move).

-Scryerskull

-Refractor field

SPECIAL RULES

-Canticles of the Omnissiah

-Feel No Pain

-Independent Character

-Very Bulky

-Artificer Self-repair Mechanisms: At the start of each of your turns, Belisarius Cawl recovers D3 Wounds lost earlier in the battle

-WL Trait – Masterwork Bionics: Belisarius Cawl can re-roll failed FNP rolls.

-Canticles of the Archmagos (they can only be used if he is on the battlefield, in the same way as regular Canticles, except they also affect friendly Army of the Imperium vehicles within 12″ of Belisarius, even if they don’t have the Canticles of the Omnissiah rule):

Harmony of Metallurgy:

  • 1-3 Units: It Will Not Die
  • 4-7 Units: It Will Not Die.  Make two ITWND rolls for affected units instead of only 1
  • 8+ Units: It Will Not Die.  Make three ITWND rolls for affected units instead of only 1

Utterance of Neutralization:

  • 1-3 Units: +1 Ballistic Skill
  • 4-7 Units: +2 Ballistic Skill
  • 8+ Units: +3 Ballistic Skill

War Hymnal of Fortitude:

  • 1-3 Units: 6+ Invulnerable Save
  • 4-7 Units: 5+ Invulnerable Save
  • 8+ Units: 4+ Invulnerable Save

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So, you can see, Belisarius brings a lot to the fight, both personally and in terms of buffs and, even though he is pretty expensive points-wise, he can be taken as a HQ choice for ANY Imperium army CAD or Allied detachment. He also “unlocks” Relics that can be taken by Imperium HQ choices in the same army as him.

All this got me thinking about Astra Militarum and how he could work if we taken as an HQ for their faction. Right out the gate, he can serve as a powerful “anchor” unit for an AM gun-line, especially if you put him in a big blob squad and use his Ld10 and high survivability (5Ws at T6 with 2+/5++, re-rollable FNP, and the ability to “regenerate” D3 wounds a turn) to keep them in position and “tank” for the unit (he can also use certain Canticles, such as giving himself Stealth for a turn, to force-multiply the entire unit, especially if it is in some cover). If the unit is charged, he provides some very respectable close combat hitting power, both against hordes (Mechadendrite Hive), more elite troops (Power Axe), and vehicles (Arc Scourge).

On top of all this, he can use the Canticles of the Archmagos to make AM vehicles around him significantly better: imagine a squadron of three Vendettas that are bumped up to BS4 for a turn, or a squadron of Leman Russes that all have IWND for a turn, or even an artillery battery that has a 6++ for a turn. You can even use him to buff AM Lords of War, like Baneblade variants or Imperial Knights (imagine a BS5 Avenger Gatling Cannon on a Knight Warden, or a BS4 Vulcan Mega-Bolter on a Stormlord), making them more potent over the course of the game. Finally, he also comes with a Scryerskull (for uncovering Mysterious Objectives at a distance) and what is, in essence, a S10 meltagun with D3 shots a turn (at BS5, don’t forget, with the option to re-roll misses via Canticles once a game), so those give him some additional utility.

In terms of the Relics that Belisarius unlocks, if you take a Commissar Lord with the Memento-Mortispex and attach him to the same blob squad as Belisarius, then you can have a 50 man unit that can choose to Skyfire, use Monster Hunter or Tank Hunter USRs, or fire Snap-shots (including Overwatch) at BS2 each turn, making it even more versatile and dangerous on the tabletop. Combine this with the Belisarius and the buffs he can hand out to neighboring AM vehicles and you can create a really effective Imperial Guard task force against almost any opponent, I think.