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):

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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+

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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)

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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.

Triumvirate of the Imperium: New Relics

I am excited about the arrival of the new Triumvirate of the Imperium characters (i.e. Celestine plus her bodyguard Geminii, Belisarius Cawl, and Inquisitor Greyfax), especially since it appears that ANY Imperium army can choose to take any of these three as a HQ choice, so Space Marines, Dark Angels, Blood Angels, Grey Knights, Deathwatch, Militarum Tempestus, Astra Militarum, Cult Mechanicus, Skitarii, Inquisition, Sisters of Battle, etc. can all take them in their armies.

Aside from what the characters themselves bring, which is significant, Celestine and Cawl both “unlock” special Relics that can be taken by any friendly characters in the same army. Here are my thoughts on what I think are some of the best of these:

—Unlocked by Belisarius Cawl—

[1] Memento-Mortispex (5 MBs) – At the start of each of your turns, choose a rule 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.

*APPLICATION — Perhaps the best new Relic available, I see this in the same class as the Hunter’s Eye and Gorgon’s Chain and Astral Grimoire (i.e. very competitive, don’t leave home without it). Being able to give an entire unit Cognis Weapons, Skyfire, Monster Hunter, or Tank Hunter, without any kind of Ld test/Psychic test/dice roll, is exceptional. Right out the gate, some of the best units to use this on include Grav Centurions, Astra Militarum blob squads, Kataphron Destroyers, Sternguard, Deathwatch Veterans, Deathwatch Terminators, Grey Knight Purifiers (with max Psycannons), Long Fang Packs (with max Lascannons), Blood Angel Gunslinger Vanguard Veterans, Sanguinary Guard with max Inferno Pistols, and Repentia Squads (with max Multi-Meltas).

Probably one of the very best options would be on a Dark Angel Biker Interrogator Chaplain leading a 10 man squad of Black Knights… the entire squad already has 18″ Rapid Fire TLed Plasma Weapons, so they can greatly benefit from Tank Hunters against vehicles, Monster Hunter against MC/GMCs, and Skyfire against Flyers and FMCs. On top of this, even if the squad Jinks (to take advantage of re-rollable Jink saves, from the Ravenwing special rule), you can use Cognis Weapons to make them Snapfire at BS2 which, combined with TLed, gives them a 50%+ hit rate even after Jinking, making them survivable AND potent in the same turn (usually you can only have one or the other).

[2] Omnissiah’s Grace (2 MBs) – Bearer has 6+ Invulnerable Save.  If they already had an Invulnerable Save, they get a +1 to their Invulnerable to a max of 3+.

*APPLICATION — Not that great on a character without an Invul save already, but on one that already has a 5++ or 4++, like most Space Marine Captain equivelants or models in TDA, this in essence gives you a “free” Storm Shield without the drawbacks of losing attacks in close combat. Grey Knight Grandmasters, Thunderwolf Lords with PF/Wolf Claw combos, Tech-Priest Dominus with Conversion Field wargear, Interrogator-Chaplains and Chaplains of all flavors, Cataphractii Terminator Captains, Imperium Psykers that can cast Forewarning on their unit, Watch Masters, Skitarii Ruststalker Princeps with dual Transonic Blades/Chordclaw and Conversion Fields, and TDA Inquisitors all can benefit quite a bit from this very affordable Relic.

[3] Saint Curia’s Autopurger (5 MBs) – Models charging the bearer and their unit do not get extra attacks for charging.  All models that are locked in combat with the bearer and their unit must pass a Toughness test at I10 step, or suffer 1 Wound for each test failed (can take saves as normal).

*APPLICATION — The debuff against enemy charging units is quite handy, especially against strong melee squads like Wulfen, Death Company, and Khornate unit which rely on Rage to increase their attack numbers, but where this Relic really shines is against low Toughness opponents (i.e. Eldar of all types, most T3 “human-based” forces, Gaunt/Ripper swarms, Necron Scarabs, etc) due to the second half of this rule. Forcing a wound for every failed Toughness test can be a game-changer, ESPECIALLY if you can combine it with Enfeeble (from the Biomancy discipline), Rad grenades (from an attached Inquisitor), and/or Skitarii Vanguard, with their “Rad-saturation” rule to reduce enemy toughness even further (imagine charging Eldar units reduced to T2 by Rad Grenades from an attached Inquisitor and then using this relic, causing Wounds on rolls of 3+ for every model locked in combat with you!). Overall, this is best used as a “crowd-control” Relic to rapidly thin out enemy hordes, especially since it inflicts these wounds at I10, before your opponents can strike back (I think this Relic is particularly potent against Genestealer Cult, who have high Initiative and close combat output, but low T and weak saves, meaning you can be charged by them and inflict massive damage before they even get to swing).

 

—Unlocked by Celestine—
[1] Blade of the Worthy (6 MBs) – Replaces a melee weapon.  S User / +2, AP3 / 2, Melee, Divine Fury:  At the start of the Fight Sub-phase, the bearer makes a Ld test.  If they pass, the sword uses the second profile for the duration of the phase.
*APPLICATION — This is basically an AP2 Relic Blade (with no draw-back from being Two-Handed) that requires an Ld test to use which, given that most characters potentially wielding it are Ld10, is pretty darn reliable (i.e. 91% chance of passing an Ld10 check). I think there are several ways to go with this… a Grey Knight Grand-Master could take NF Falchions, then replace on of them with this Relic, giving him the option to use an AP3 Force Weapon or a S+2 AP2 blade each turn (and both can be “buffed” up by +2 with Hammerhand as well)… alternately, you could give it to a Biker Captain Master (with AA) for a cheap, hard-hitting, mobile IC that can attach to a unit or go solo if required. Finally, you could give the Blade of the Worthy to an Astra Militarum Company Commander to make a surprisingly punchy combat unit that your opponent will likely not be expecting.
[2] Desvalle’s Holy Circle (7 MBs) – Bearer has a 4+ Invulnerable.  Enemy units cannot Deep-Strike within 12″ of the bearer.  If they scatter within 12″ of the Bearer, they suffer an automatic Deep Strike Mishap.

*APPLICATION — Like the “Saint Curia’s Autopurger” Relic, the first part of this piece of gear is solid (i.e. giving a 4++ to the bearer), but the real reason for taking it is for the second part of the rule, preventing Deep Strikes within 12″ and causing an auto-Mishap if they scatter to within 12″. This is such a potent piece of Wargear, especially when use to protect key units/vehicles (like your Warlord or an Imperial Knight, for example), against threats like Drop Pod Meltacide units, Wraithguard with an attached Dark Eldar IC with a Webway Portal, deep striking units with massed Flamer templates, enemy units that can assault on the same turn they Deep Strike (i.e. CSM Raptor Talon, Skyhammer Annihilation Force ASM), etc. etc. Putting this Relic on a mobile character, like a Bike or Jump Pack equipped IC, allows you to move this 24″ circle of “no Deep Strike” rapidly all over the table-top, thereby denying you opponent significant real estate and greatly hampering his tactical options.

Genestealer Cult and allied Astra Militarum Stormsword

I have taken a little break from Genestealer Cult, but as I take another look at them, it hit me that a very solid ally for their faction would be an Astra Militarum Lord of War, such as one of the Baneblade variants. Specifically, as I reviewed the different kinds available, the Stormsword jumped out to me as one of the most competitive super-heavy tanks and one that would work quite well with the Genestealer Cult units/tactics.

Looking more closely at the Stormsword, we have the following:

-Super-Heavy vehicle — This means that, among other things, it can shoot all its weapons every turn and can fire them each at a different target, if you wish (and it can do all this even after it moves up to 12″). It also means that it Ignores all Crew Shaken/Crew Stunned/Immobilized/Weapons Destroyed results and that Explodes results do not destroy the Stormsword outright, but instead inflict D3 additional lost HPs on it.

-Stats/Upgrades — With BS3, AV14/13/12 and 9HPs, the Stormsword is quite survivable and generally takes massed melta weapons and/or massed dedicated anti-tank attacks to bring down. Needless to say, combined with the Super-Heavy rule, this makes it an ideal “fire magnet” type unit to soak up enemy combat power away from the rest of your army (more on that later, as it relates to Genestealer Cult allies). In terms of upgrades, you can add a H/K Missile, a SB/Heavy Stubber, and up to four Lascannon/TLed Heavy Bolter Sponsons (which are purchased two at a time for 10 MBs each). Given the ability to independently target every one of these weapons, and combined with the stock TLed Heavy Bolter and Stormsword Siege Cannon, if you take every upgrade possible, the Stormsword can shoot at 11! different targets each shooting phase (and 12 targets for one shooting phase, if you use the Hunter-Killer missile).

-Stormsword Siege Cannon — Outside of the incredible durability/”tanking” ability (literally 😉 ) of the Stormsword, this is why you are taking this Super-Heavy. This weapon has a range of 36″ (so a threat radius of 48″, with the 12″ move of the vehicle included) and puts out a single S10 AP1 Primary Weapon, Apocalyptic Blast. Ignore Cover shot each shooting phase. Translated into English, that is basically a Railgun Shot with 10″ diameter blast that ignores all saves except Invul Saves, causes ID to anything T5 and below, and Penetrates AV14 armor on roll of 5+ (with re-rolls for failed penetrations, due to being a Primary Weapon). Outside of Destroyer Weapons, this is one of the most powerful shooting attacks in the game and can be used every turn (unlike, say, a Deathstrike Missile).

So, how does all this relate to being an allied force-multiplier for a Genestealer Cult main army? Well, first of all, to access a Stormsword, you have to take an Astra Militarum Combined Arms detachment (for the LOW slot), which means you have to take at least one HQ and two Troops as well. Combine with the nearly 500 points for the Stormsword and you have a lot of points invested before you can even begin making your main Genestealer Cult army… so, this begs the question, why do it? Really two reasons, I think, but they are very solid reasons:

[1] Firepower — On its own, the Genestealer Cult faction has some decent firepower, but it largely short-ranged and there is really nothing that can just devastate entire units in the shooting phase (Genestealer Cults are strong on terms of mobility, Psychic powers, and assault to make up for this). An allied Stormsword changes that whole equation… with such potent firepower built into a 10″ Ignore Cover blast, Genestealer Cult players can use it to deal with enemy Deathstars, hordes, massed vehicles, MEQs in cover, MSU Jetbikes, you name. About the only target that the Stormsword has trouble with is MCs/GMCs with T6 or above (and multiple Lascannon Sponsons can help with that)… with all their Rending close combat attacks and the ability to assault from Reserve with the right rolls, Genestealer Cults are already very well equipped to deal with these opponents, so the Stormsword Siege Cannon becomes to a them a force-multiplier against all other targets.

[2] “Tanking”/Distraction ability — More than anything, this is where I think a Stormsurge brings advantages to a Genestealer Cult army. Both in terms of actual combat power and psychologically, a Super-Heavy vehicle like this, especially one that cannot be ignored because of its amazing firepower, can “pull” focus away from the relatively fragile Genestealer Cult infantry/vehicles and allow them to operate with little to no impedance, thus maximizing their abilities. Put another way, the “anvil” nature of the Stormsword compliments the “glass cannon” nature of the Genestealer Cult and, used properly, both can make the other better and the army more effective as a whole. Now, while it is true that a lot of the firepower that is strong against Genestealer Cult units (such as small arms shooting, flamers, blast weapons, etc.) will not be effective against a Stormsword, and so the Super-Heavy will not be able to “pull” that kind of shooting away from its Genestealer Cult allies, because the Stormsword is such a threat, it will in many cases force your opponent to drastically alter his normal battle-plan against the traditionally light infantry Genestealer Cult army, which can create opening for your forces to exploit.

[3] Synergy Abilities — Finally, there are several ways in which Genestealer Cult and the Stormsword can synergize. The Lord of War can act as a physical shield for Genestealer Cult troops with its massive bulk, protecting them from enemy shooting attacks. Conversely, cheap Acolyte Hybrids and Neophyte Hybrids can make an excellent “bubble wrap” for the Stormsword, protecting from enemy assault and also preventing “meltacide” units from physically getting clos enough to it to destroy it with massed melta shooting. Additionally, Genestealer Cult psychic powers, namely maledictions from the Telepathy and Biomancy disciplines, can enhance the Stormsword (e.g. if you can Enfeeble on a T6 enemy MC, like a Riptide, then hit it with the S10 Stormsword Siege Cannon, if it fails its Invul saves it will be instant-killed). Finally, the Stormsword can use the Thunderblitz table, in conjunction with the hyper-powered tank shock/ramming capacity of the Goliath Rockgrinders, to actually do very significant damage to enemy forces via “melee” attacks, which gives you an alternate option for how to inflict lots of damage (note: the Rockgrinders can use the Super-Heavy for cover as they advance, until they get within Tank Shock range).

Genestealer Cult: Allied Artillery Company

As I have thought about the new Genestealer Cult codex and how to apply it competitively, one of the things that occurred to me is to try and maximize their access to Astra Militarum as Allies of Convenience. Thinking of this and looking at what the AM have access to, the best ally for a Genestealer Cult army that I can think of is the “Emperor’s Wrath Artillery Company” formation, for the following reasons:

[1] Ignore Cover Basilisks — With the ability to give Orders to artillery units in the formation, you can have up to 6 x S9 AP3 Large Blasts with Ignore Cover shooting each turn (and a 7th S9 AP3 Large Blast from the Master of Ordnance, if you take him in the Command Squad). This rectifies one of the weaknesses of the Genestealer Cult force, namely long-range high strength/low AP shooting and also provides them with very solid options against enemy infantry and light-medium vehicles at range. Put another way, Basilisk batteries from this formation provide excellent “fire base” support to an otherwise light-weight, assault focused, guerrilla tactics “horde” army that the Genestealer Cult forces specialize in.

[2] Multi-purpose Command Squad support — While they cannot directly help Genestealer Cult units, being only Allies of Convenience, the mandatory Command Squad from the “Emperor’s Wrath” formation provides multiple indirect aids to a Genestealer Cult army. First, if you take an Officer of the Fleet, he can use his ability to subtract -1 from enemy Reserve Rolls in conjunction with the -1 to enemy Reserve Rolls from the Genestealer Cult “Decurion” to cause enemy Reserves to come in on a 5+, which can be pivotal against opponents that keep a lot of their strength off the table during initial deployment. Second, the Astropath can cheaply add additional Warp Charges to your pool for use by the Patriarch and/or Magus and the Master of Ordnance, as mentioned above, can add a cheap additional S9 AP3 Large Blast to your fire support. Finally, besides issuing orders to the Artillery vehicles, the Command Squad can provide up to 9 x S7 AP2 Ignore Cover Plasma shots a turn to deal with MCs or 4 x S8 AP1 Melta shots a turn against vehicles, both of which capabilities  are general lacking in the Genestealer Cult arsenal.

[3] “Nuclear Option” Deathstrike Missiles — While being a One Use Only weapon and not able to shoot until Turn 2 at the earliest, the Deathstrike Missile provide a S10 AP1 Ignore Cover shot with a 10″ Apocalyptic Blast that combines beautifully with a Genestealer Cult army by putting your opponent on the horns of a dilemma… if they concentrate on shooting at your mobile close combat units like Purestrain Genestealers, Metamorphs, or even Neophytes with supporting characters to buff their assault abilities, then that leaves the Deathstrike free to launch its very powerful attack (i.e. imagine hitting an enemy Thunderwolf Cavalry squad or  Grav Centurion squad with the Deathstrike Missile… the S10 AP1 Ignore Cover doubles out their T5 and ignores everything but Invul saves)…. on the other hand, if your opponent focuses on destroying the Deathstrike to prevent if from firing, then that means their is less combat power to deal with the massed “Cult Ambushing” Genestealer Cult infantry that can then shoot/charge into combat on the following turn.

[4] Manticore, Hydras, and Wyverns — A Manticore provide additional S10 Ordnance pie plates at long range for dealing with both vehicles and infantry at an economical points cost, if you choose to take this instead of the Deathstrike, while Hydras provide air-defense/skimmer defense that Genestealer Cult armies otherwise have very limited capabilities in. Hydra squadrons combine especially well with the Ignore Cover orders in dealing with Skimmer heavy armies like Mech Eldar, Mech Tau, Mech Necrons, Ravenwing armies, or even Chaos Daemon “Flying Circuses” and enemy Tyranid “Monster Mash” lists, since they can put out a high volume of accurate S7 shooting that ignores enemy Jink saves. Finally, Wyverns provide incredible fire support for any force and are a threat to any enemy infantry, even TEQs, due to their accuracy, high volume of shooting with the Shred and Ignore Cover USRs, and cheap points costs (they provide a very strong supplement to Genestealer Cult forces when combined with the Pinning order, since they “suppress” enemy shooting units for a turn, thus buying the Genestealer Cult forces time to survive before getting into assault, where they belong).