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.

Reborn Warhost: Wraithguard, WWPs, Harlequins, and the Yncarne

I have been looking at the new Reborn Warhost detachment from the Fracture of Biel-Tan book some more and trying to come up with an army that maximizes the many options provided by this force structure.

A few things that jumps out to me, now that the various “Reborn” Eldar can mix and match from Eldar, Dark Eldar, and Harlequins as a single faction (i.e. they are the Ynnari faction now, and so lose Battle Focus/Power from Pain, but gain Strength from Death and the related ability to use “Soulburst” when a unit is destroyed within 7″ of one of their units) are the following:

[1] Wraithguard with attached Dark Eldar ICs and WWPs are very deadly, especially now that they can “chain” together bonus Shooting phases in a single turn via Soulburst, if they kill a unit outright when they arrive by Deep Strike (which they are almost guaranteed to do, given massed D weapons). Being able to Deep Strike with no scatter is in and of itself exceptionally potent, but when you combine that with T6/3+ save model who are all packing 12″ range D weapons, you have a squad that can basically “point and remove” enemy units at well, even if they are Deathstars, Super-Heavies, etc. I think Wraithguard squads combine particularly well with an attached Succubus with Archite Glaive and WWP, since the Ghost Warriors give the unit majority T6 (thus allowing it to soak up lots of small arms fire that would normally be a major threat to the Succubus) and the Wych HQ provides very potent close combat ability that the Wraithguard inherently lack (i.e. 5 x WS8 S4 AP2 attacks at I8 on the charge).

[2] Harlequin Troups have always been top-notch in melee, but in their stand-alone codex lacked the combination of mobility and mass (i.e. they could not take max size squads in their transport, since the Starweaver only carried up to 6 passengers) to get into combat reliably and you were usually limited to 3 or less Troups anyway, based on what Formation or detachment they were taking. Well, the Reborn Warhost solves both of these problems, allowing you to take up to 6 Troups if you desire and, for three of these squads, you can include 10 models and load them into Ynnari faction Dark Eldar Raiders from the Fast Attack slots, which gives you some target saturation and lots of mobility to get your Killer Clowns into close combat, where they belong. Finally, since Harlequin Troups did not have “Battle Focus” or “Power through Pain,” they lose nothing by becoming Ynnari faction and in fact gain the bonus of “Soulburst” abilities, which can make them go from strong to down-right devastating (i.e. imagine a Troup of 9 Harlequin players and attached Shadowseer moving up 6″ in their transport and disembarking 6″ , then the Shadowseer casts the “Word of the Phoenix” power from the new Revenant discipline, which allows them to Soulburst and get a “free” additional 6″ move, followed by a 2D6″ charge, with re-rolls from Fleet, giving them a charge threat range of between 20-30″ in a single turn, with an average charge threat range of 27″). Additionally, if the Harlequin Troup destroys an enemy unit in close combat, then it can use Soulburst to try and charge another nearby enemy unit in that same assault phase, which both keeps the Harlequins in combat (and clear of enemy shooting, which is very dangerous for them) and ties up/destroys another enemy unit altogether.

[3] At first the Yncarne is not an overwhelming powerful looking Lord of War choice, especially given its high points cost (40MBs) and somewhat limited abilities (i.e. no Shooting ability outside of Psychic Witchfires, a MC with only 6″ movement per turn, etc.). Where he really shines, though, is his ability to “teleport” with no scatter to any location where a unit (friend or foe) was just completely destroyed (he can do this all game long, as many times as he wants, and can even use it to come out of DS Reserve onto the table as early as Turn 1). Additionally, he has an aura which gives all friendly Ynnari forces within 12″ Fearless and FNP, which is a big deal, especially for some of the units I have mentioned above (i.e. Wraithguard, Succubii, and Harlequin Troups all benefit significantly from these buffs). Finally, while it cannot charge on the same turn that it “teleports” to the site of a unit that was just destroyed, on the subsequent turn it can charge and the Yncarne can put out some very significant damage with its multiple S6 AP2 Fleshbane/Armourbane attacks, all at very high WS and Initiative.

So, taking all of these things together, I think a competitive “Reborn Warhost” detachment could look something like this:

HQ

-2 x Succubus (each with Archite Glaive, WWP) — 260 points

TROOPS

-3 x Harlequin Troups (each with 9 members, all with Harlequin Caresses) — 681 points

ELITES

-2 x Wraithguard Squads (each with 10 models with Wraithcannons) — 640 points

FAST ATTACK

-3 x Raiders (each with Night Shields and Disintegrator Cannons) — 210 points

LORD OF WAR

-Yncarne — 200 points

 

This list comes in just under 2000 points (which is the level I almost always play at) and, while a little light on model count (i.e. 3 vehicles and 50 infantry), it has very solid mobility, decent durability, and above average hitting power in both close combat (Harlequins/Succubus/Yncarne) and shooting (20 Wraithcannons!). While I don’t think this would be an easy, “point and shoot” army, in the hands of a skilled commander I think it could be very dangerous.

 

Gathering Storm II: Ulthwe Strike Force

Pulling out an oldie but goody from the Eye of Terror, with Gathering Storm II we have the “rebirth” of the Black Guardians, both as part of the Reborn Warhost detachment and a special formation called the Ulthwe Strike Force.

Black Guardians, Black Guardian Windriders, Black Guardian Vyper Squadrons, and Black Guardian War Walker Squadrons are based on their their “normal” Eldar counterparts, with a bump in points cost (+2 points per model for Guardians, +3 points per model for Windriders, +5 points per model for Vypers, and +5 points per model for War Walkers) and no access to Warlock squad leaders. For this extra points cost, the Black Guardians get a little more flexibility (they can either be equipped liked Guardian Defenders or Storm Guardians) and, more importantly, all four units gain the “Webway Assault” special rule, which gives them the ability to Deep Strike with no scatter, as long as they are more than 9″ away from any enemy units.

This ability to Deep Strike with no scatter, IMHO, is well worth the extra points costs and really bumps up the tactical flexibility and capability of all four of these units. What really makes them a competitive choice, however, is the Ulthwe Strike Force formation, which has the follow special rules: number one, if there are any Forces of Chaos units in your opponent’s army at all, the all members of the formation gain Stubborn and Preferred Enemy, which are quite useful but largely situational based on who you are fighting against. Second, and the real reason for taking this formation, is that if you include the max of four units, then you can begin rolling for them to come out of Reserves on Turn 1.

So, taking this all together, this means you can have four units of Black Guardians, Black Guardian Windriders, Black Guardian Vyper Squadrons, and Black Guardian War Walker Squadrons (in any combination) that can all come in from Reserve Turn 1, Deep Strike with no scatter, and then unleash massive firepower exactly when and where you want it… I think this is going to be a game changer formation and that it will work very well alongside other Eldar, Dark Eldar, Harlequin (Battle Brothers), Tau, and Imperium forces (Allies of Convenience ).

Here is are some thoughts on using each of the different Ulthwe Strike Force units:

[1] Black Guardians — I think the key with these ones are “go big or go home.” Given their relative fragility (i.e. T3, 5+ save) and the short range of Shuriken Catapults, you really want to Alpha Strike whatever your target is with maximum combat power and leave nothing left to attack you back with. Understanding that, if you take a squad of 20 Black Guardians with eighteen Shuriken Catapults and two Shuriken Cannon Weapons Platforms, you have the ability to put out 42 x BS4 S4 AP5 Bladestorm shots a turn at 12″ or less. That gives you the following average damage output:

*GEQs — 19 Unsaved Wounds

*Orks Boyz — 14 Unsaved Wounds

*MEQs — 8 Unsaved Wounds

*TEQs/Centurions — 5 Unsaved Wounds

*Riptides/Wraithknights — 3 Unsaved Wounds

*Daemon Princes — 6 Unsaved Wounds

*Hive Tyrants — 5 Unsaved Wounds

As you can see, from just one squad, that is some VERY significant damage output, so imagine pairing up two of these squads and Deep Striking them in with zero chance of scattering to vaporize a key enemy unit (or two) on turn 1. Of course, the key with this is to combine it with plenty of other dangerous threats so that you opponent doesn’t simply shoot your Black Guardians off the table the next turn in retaliation… I think things like massed Astartes Drop Pod units, massed MSU Eldar Jetbikes and Warp Spiders, Tau Battlesuit MSU lists, massed Astra Militarum Mechanized Veterans, Dark Eldar Raider spam, and/or Harlequin Troupe spam, can achieve this by providing so many targets that your opponent is over saturated (especially if you took out 1-2 of his key units turn 1 with a Black Guardian “alpha strike”).

[2] Black Guardian Windriders — We already know how great Windriders with Scatter Lasers are already, perhaps being the most under-costed unit in the game for the combination of mobility, durability, and firepower they possess. While Black Guardian Jetbikers cannot get Objective Secured and cost more than their conventional brethren, the ability to Deep Strike with no scatter Turn 1 makes them exceptionally potent units. Not only can you basically “null deploy” them (which takes away your opponent’s best chance of shooting them turn 1 and either destroying them or forcing them to Jink before they can shoot), but with no scatter deep strike, you can put their Scatter Lasers in EXACTLY the right place to engage enemy units with minimum threat of retaliation, hit the rear armor of enemy vehicles (usually AV10, which Scatter Lasers Glance on a 4+ and Penetrate on a 5+), and/or grab Objectives with no risk in a Maelstrom or Objectives heavy type mission. They get all this and still have all of the ridiculous mobility that Eldar Jetbikes are infamous for, making them a threat the entire rest of the game.

[3] Black Guardian Vypers — While not quite as dangerous (or cost efficient) as Black Guardian Wind Riders, a squadron 6 Vypers with dual Shuriken Cannons still puts out 36 x S6 AP5 Bladestorm shots at 24″ a turn, whether they are moving normally or arriving from Deep Strike, thanks to being a Fast Skimmer. Like with the Windriders, being able to Deep Strike with total precision means you can tear up the rear armor of an opposing vehicle squadron with maximum efficiency (i.e. on average, against AV10 rear armor, this squadron can drop 12 HPs a turn, which means they can kill an entire squadron of Leman Russes in a single volley). Additionally, due to the versatility of S6 and Bladestorm, a Black Guardian Vyper squadron can bring down enemy MCs or Heavy infantry with ease and even deal well with enemy hordes (i.e. a single 6 vehicle squadron with kill 20 Orks/Guardsmen/Cultists/Gaunts in one Shooting Phase, on average). Again, the problem is vulnerability to enemy return fire after they arrive, so placement and mutual support from friendly units is key to maximize the efficiency of Black Guardian Vypers. Finally, as a Fast Skimmer, Vyper squadrons can rapidly redeploy up to 30″ a turn, which makes them very useful for grabbing/contesting Objectives, getting into new firing positions, and/or escaping enemy forces that are closing in on them.

[4] Black Guardian War Walkers — Just like the three mentioned above, Black Guardian War Walkers are “glass cannons” with low survivability and very high damage output. War Walkers are the most expensive of the four options for the Ulthwe Strike Force, but in some ways they are the most versatile, with built-in Scout (so Outflank too), a 5++ save, the ability to tie enemy units up in melee in a pinch (since they are Walkers), and the ability to take two Eldar Heavy Weapons per model… this means you can kit them out for various roles, with everything from Heavy Infantry killers (i.e. dual Star Cannons, meaning a maxed out Squadron puts out 12 x BS4 S6 AP2 shots at 36″ a turn), Vehicle Hunters (i.e. up to 6 x BS4 Bright Lance shots a turn), or General Purpose Fire Support (i.e.dual Eldar Missile Launchers with 6 x Starshot, Plasma, or Starhawk missiles a turn for anti-tank/MC, anti-horde, or anti-flyer duties, respectively). Combine all this with Turn 1 no scatter Deep Strike and, in the hands of a skilled commander, they can be a finely-tuned “scalpel” for eliminating linchpin units of your opponent’s army before they even get a chance to engage.

Summarizing all this, you have to be careful and skillful when employing such fragile units, or your opponent will make you pay the price, but the ability to Deep Strike at the beginning of the game with no scatter is an exceptionally valuable ability for the entire Ulthwe Strike Force, making it a high-value ally for your army. One small note on maximizing this formation is that, if you can fit it in, I think it would be tremendously valuable to include an Autarch (via an Eldar CAD or Allied Detachment) in your army list, since his “Path of the Command” rule provides tremendous control over your Reserves and lets you reliably either bring in ALL of your Ulthwe Strike Force turn 1 for a massive Alpha Strike or, if necessary, keep them back until later in the game until certain conditions have been met (i.e. if you are playing Tau, eliminating some of their key units with Interceptor so they do not murder the Black Guardian forces as they arrive via Deep Strike).

Overall, I think this is going to be an exciting formation to play with and I am looking forward to trying it out as an ally in a couple of my current army lists.

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

—————————————

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

—————————————

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.

—————————————

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.

—————————————

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.

—————————————

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

—————————————

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.).

Genestealer Cult: Counter-Eldar Tactics

As I continue to look through the new Genestealer Cult rumors, I think more and more that they will be a very solid, competitive army, especially in the hands of a skilled player who can maximize their special rules, wargear options, and unit choices. Since Craftworld Eldar are generally considered the most “powerful” codex out right now (with Tau right behind them), here are my initial thoughts on how the new Genestealer Cult army can counter the Space Elves:

[1] Webber weapons — These are new (or “rebooted” old, really) weapons that Genestealer Cult units have access to. Web Pistols are S3, Webbers are S4, they are both Assault 1, Small Blast Weapons whose AP is determined by the the strength of their target… if a target is S3, for example, then they are AP3, if it is S4, they they are AP4, etc. Given that the entire Eldar Codex, except for Wraith constructs, Phoenix Lords, and the Avatar of Khaine, are S3 and have 3+ saves or worse, this makes Webber weapons very effective against almost all Eldar non-vehicle units. I think they will particularly shine against Eldar Jetbikes and Aspect Warriors, as their S3/$4, AP3, and multiple Small Blasts can really put out the wounds.

[2] Purestrain Genestealers — This guys cost the same as “normal” Genestealers from the Tyranids Codex, but are better in multiple ways, including coming stock with Stealth, 3A base, and a 5++ Invul Save. They also get access to the Cult Ambush and Return to the Shadows rules, which makes them MASSIVELY more dangerous; about the only advantage “normal” Genestealers have is Objective Secured in a CAD from their Troops status. Additionally, Purestrain Genestealers gain Furious Charge if they are joined by a Patriarch. Taken all together, especially with the potential to get VERY close to enemy units (and even possibly assault the turn they arrive, if you are lucky) when arriving from Reserves via Cult Ambush and the ability to go back into Ongoing Reserves and “rinse and repeat” via Return to the Shadows, and you have a truly deadly assault unit (their massed WS6 I6 Rending attacks will even strike faster and better than most Eldar) who can actually catch the mobile Craftworlders and tear them up in combat (i.e. 15 Genestealers with Scything Claws upgrades get 75 attacks on the charge, about 50 hits, 8-9 Rends, and about 6 Unsaved Wounds on a Wraithknight after FNP rolls, all before the Wraithknight even has a chance to strike).

[3] Broodmind Powers — With the ability to nerf Eldar stats (i.e. Mass Hypnosis), hurt them with solid Witchfires (i.e. Psionic Blast or Mental Onslaught), or buff friendly units to be even more dangerous (i.e. Psychic Stimulus and Might from Beyond), especially when charging out of Cult Ambush arrival or a friendly Goliath Truck, this discipline can work very well against Eldar in the hands of a Patriarch and/or Magus. Even better, if you roll up Telepathic Summons you can keep bringing in more free reinforcements (with free upgrades, to boot!), but the best is Mind Control. If you manage to get this ability off on a unit of enemy Wraithguard, Scatbikes, Warp Spiders, Dark Reapers, Fire Dragons, or Dire Avengers (or even an enemy Wraithknight with dual Heavy D Cannons), you can turn the Eldar player’s potent firepower against himself and potentially even change the course of the game in a single Psychic Phase.

Strategery…Grey Knights and allied Eldar (HQs)

As I have been looking at how to maximize a competitive Grey Knights army (they were my first 40K army, back in 4th edition, and thus my “first love” in Warhammer), more and more I think that in their current iteration they need to take some allies to be competitive, unlike in 5th edition, where they could take on top-tier lists and win with one Nemesis Force Weapon tied behind their backs! 😉

So, there are plenty of options for Grey Knights among the forces of the Imperium, but I think, perhaps a little surprisingly, that one of the best potential allies for the Astartes of the Ordos Malleus is actually the Craftworld Eldar. While they are Allies of Convenience, and so cannot share benefits, Psychic Power Blessings, or have ICs join allied units like Battle Brothers can, a small Allied Detachment of Eldar can bring several things to the fight to substantially enhance a Grey Knights primary force built around a Nemesis Strike Force:

[1] “Commando” Autarch — Give a lone Autarch Swooping Hawk Wings, a Banshee Mask, the Celestial Lance relic (from the Iyanden Supplement), and a Power Axe. Turn 1, move up 18″ (thanks to Swooping Hawk Wings), shoot with the Lance (S8 AP2 Lance at 6″)and then charge another 2D6″ (with re-rolls from Fleet) for a very solid chance of getting into assault. On the charge the enemy cannot Overwatch, thanks to the Banshee Mask (this is great against Tau, especially) and the Autarch hits with 5 x S8 AP2 attacks, all at WS6 (so hitting on 3+s against all but the most elite opponents) and at I6 (so striking first 95%+ of the time). Against many opponents, that is enough to win the combat out-right, even running solo, and even if you do not win/Sweep the enemy squad (good old I6 means you will almost always winning a Sweeping Advance roll-off), you have at least tied up that critical unit for a round (or two or three) of combat, preventing them from shooting (imagine using this against, say, a squad of Grav Cannon Centurions).

So, how does all this help a Grey Knight army? Well, the ability to assault, defeat/tie-up a key enemy unit Turn 1 can be decisive when used in conjunction with a DSing Nemesis Strike Force. For example, say you Deep Strike your Grey Knights in (with the +1 to Reserve Rolls from the Autarch, of course) Turn 1, but your opponent has a Stormsurge just waiting to unload Strength D Destroyer Missiles and other massed shooting on them in the subsequent shooting phase… instead, you get the Autarch “stuck in” with the Stormsurge, preventing it from shooting for a turn, which buys the Grey Knights time to deal with other threats and then to charge the Stormsurge themselves on Turn 2, where their Nemesis Force Weapons can handle it quite easily. Put another way, this Autarch build allows you to potentially “neutralize” a disproportionately powerful part of your opponent’s army for a turn (or two), which thereby allows your GKs both a better chance of surviving and also let’s them get into position to maximize their strengths (i.e. Psychic abilities, close range shooting, close combat hitting power, etc.).

 

[2] Jetbike Farseer with “Spirit Stone of Anath’lan” relic and Doom (Runes of Fate discipline) — While several of the Runes of Fate powers are blessings (and so cannot be used to support Grey Knight allies directly) or witchfires, and so can only indirectly support them by attacking the enemy, if PML(3) Farseer rolls up Doom, this can be a game changer for Grey Knight allies. Since Doom is a Malediction that causes re-rolls to Wound/to Penetrate against an enemy model, no matter the source, this can be a tremendous benefit for a Grey Knight army, which can put out lots of S4 Storm Bolter/Psilencer, S6 Incinerator, and S7 Psycannon shooting, but needs to maximize the damage that this firepower does, given the low model count and lack of longer-range firepower that generally define them. With Doom successfully cast, GK Storm bolters and Psilencers (both types) in essence become S5.5, Incinerators/Heavy Incinerators become basically S7.5, and Psycannons/Heavy Psycannons become S8.5 against all targets, except for purposes of Instant Death and against vehicles that their “base” strength cannot hurt (i.e. S4 Storm bolters will still not be able to damage AV11 vehicles, even with the re-rolls from being Doom cast on them). This also combines very well with Rending Psycannons, making them MUCH more effective against high toughness and/or heavily armored enemies that they would normally depend on Rends to hurt, such TEQs, Monstrous Creatures, enemy Warlords, etc. While normally costing 2WCs to cast, a Farseer with the “Spirit Stone of Anath’lan” can reduce that to only WC1, making it much easier (and safer) to get off, especially when combined with the “Runes of the Farseer” rule  and Ghosthelm Wargear that every Farseer comes with. Finally, a Jetbike Farseer can use his great agility to get around the board rapidly and seize objectives in a pinch, making up for another of the Grey Knight weaknesses.

 

[3] Warlock Conclave with Jetbikes and Singing Spears — Using Runes of Battle, the Biker Warlock Conclave can “debuff” Grey Knights opponents in many ways, including removing any Stealth/Shrouded (Reveal), -3 to any enemy unit’s leadership (Horrify), -1 to an enemy unit’s WS/I (Drain), -1 to an enemy’s armor save (Jinx), and -1 to a target enemy’s strength characteristic (Enervate). Imagine a Dreadknight charging a Chapter Master with the Burning Blade relic and “Drain” cast on him… not only would they strike simultaneously now, but the Chapter Master would only hit the Dreadknight on a 4+ (vice 3+ before), giving the NDK a much better shot of killing the enemy warlord. Similarly, imagine shooting at a unit of Tau Ghostkeels with Shrouded/Stealth removed by Reveal, in essence leaving them with only their 3+ Armor save for protection? Or imagine Paladins charging an enemy TH/SS Terminator unit (which would normally cause ID to the Paladins with their S8 TH attacks) that has Enervate cast on it (the unit would still wound the Paladins on a 2+ and ignore their Armor saves, but the Paladins would only lose one wound at a time and would still get FNP from their Apothecary). Finally, imagine shooting at a Wraithknight, Stormsurge, Daemon Prince, or Hive Tyrant that has Jinx cast on it with massed Psycannon fire (i.e. those enemy MCs now have a 4+ save, which the Psycannon ignores even without Rending hits) or at enemy Wulfen with Jinx cast one them with massed Storm bolter fire (the Wulfen are reduced to a 5+ save, which the Storm bolters’ AP5 ignores). On top of all this, while a bit expensive, a Jetbike War Conclave is very fast, durable (3+/4++ and a 4++ Jink save, made even better if they cast Protect, for a 2+ armor save, and/or Conceal, for a 2++ cover save), and can seize objectives, shoot decently with their TLed Shuriken catapults (with good old Bladestorm for quasi-Rending) or Singing Spears, and hit solidly in close combat with their Fleshbane Singing Spears (these combine quite well with several of the buffs and debuffs from the Runes of Battle already described, and are particularly strong against vehicles, with S4 + Armourbane capable of hurting even Land Raider and Super Heavies with lucky rolls).

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As you can see, while somewhat subtle, these different Eldar Allied Detachment builds can measurably (and cheaply) enhance a Grey Knight primary detachment, in turn allowing the Knights in Silver to be more effective themselves and giving you a better chance of competing with some of the higher tier opponents out there.

 

 

 

 

Codex Deathwatch: Hunting Space Elves

So, one of the first things that always comes up for competitive players in the current meta, no matter what army you are running, is how to deal with Tau and Eldar, as they are generally some of the most dominant and difficult factions to face currently. This is true of Deathwatch as well, both in terms of fluff (they are Xenos hunters, after all), and in terms of likely opponents they will have to deal with on the tabletop.

Today I am looking at how Deathwatch armies can combat Craftworld Eldar. More specifically, I am coming to realize that Deathwatch Veteran Squads/Kill Teams are basically the Imperium’s version of Crises Suits… highly customizable, very potent, especially in shooting, but still somewhat fragile, especially with the baseline MEQ profile (you will notice below that I took a page out of Tau player’s book and have started naming different configurations of Battle Groups based on their “parent” Kill Team type and weapons load-out; i.e. all Battle Groups based on Aquila Kill Teams have “Eagle” in the name, Battle Groups that rely on Grav Weapons a lot have “Ghost” in the name, etc.). For this analysis, I am going to focus on Veteran squads and Kill Teams that are part of a Black Spear Strike Force (i.e. in other words, they have Deep Strike and the ability to change Mission Tactics at least twice a game, potentially even more if you are running a Watch Master and/or have the “Vigilance Incarnate” WL Trait).

So, let’s take a look at what some of the most likely (and dangerous) threats the Deathwatch might encounter when facing the Craftworlders and, of course, how they might counter them effectively:

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[1] – Eldar Jetbikes with Scatter Lasers — For their points, these easily compete for some of the best, if not the best, Troops in the game, with amazing mobility (I think the phrase “Eldar Jetbike” speaks for itself here) and firepower (4 x S6 shots at 36″ and BS4 PER MODEL is better than many vehicles or MSU squads by themselves) and respectable survivability (e.g. T4, 3+ save, and the option to Jink). Since they are so effective, even in small units, many Eldar players run multiple squads of between 3-6 Jetbikes

So, how can Deathwatch efficiently counter MSU Windrider spam? Obviously, the ideal way is to hit them with mass Frag Cannon templates and/or charge them in CC (where they are horrible and cannot use their dangerous Scatter Lasers), but given Jetbike mobility and Scatter Laser range, this is likely hard than it looks (Drop Pods can help, but even those can’t get DW Kill Teams into assault and, for any units containing Bikes or Jump Infantry, they cannot be used). I think an ideal build is as follows —

“FIREBOW” Battle Group configuration:

-Furor Kill Team with 6 Veterans (1 with Frag Cannon, 5 with Stalker Boltguns) and Terminator with CML.

This squad can put out 10 x SX AP3 Sniper Shots, 2 x S7 AP3 shots, and 2 x S8 AP3 shots at 24″ range (or longer ranges, with the Krak Missiles from the CML) a turn. With Furor Tactics and Furor Doctrine activated when shooting at Eldar Jetbikes, that translates to an average of 10-11 hits, 8-9 AP3 wounds, and 4-5 unsaved wounds after Jink saves. Against that vast majority of Eldar Scatter Bike squads, that is enough to either wipe the entire unit out in a single volley or at least cause so many casualties so as to make it combat ineffective (especially when forcing the Eldar to Jink). While this “FIREBOW” build costs 230 points, it can statistically bring down 135 points of Scatter Bikes a turn, which means over the course of a typical 5-6 turn game, you could potentially eliminate five different 5 man Windrider squads, for a total of 675 points worth of models (or about three times the points value of the FIREBOW Battle Group). The advantage of this Battle Group is that it not only works against Eldar Jetbikes, but has the versatility to be effective against almost any type of MEQ based opponent, can threaten vehicles and MCs, is Fearless, can Deep Strike or ride a Drop Pod, can tank AP3 shooting with the Terminator, and has reasonable capabilities in close combat (Terminator PF, double Wall of Fire with the Frag Cannon, etc.).

[2] Eldar Wraithknight with dual Heavy Wraithcannons — Another classic “power” unit that many competitive Eldar players field, this GMC has buckets of mobility (12″ move and Jump Gargantuan Creature status), durability (6W, T8, 3+ save, FNP, and “Unstoppable”), and combat power for its points cost and can be very difficult for most armies to deal with, including the Deathwatch. Really, a player needs the ability to bring it down in a single “volley” so that the Wraithknight cannot continue to shoot and assault and so you can use the rest of your army to deal with the rest of the Eldar force. To accomplish this, I think one of the best options for the Deathwatch is the following:

“GHOST EAGLE” Battle Group configuration:

-Aquila Kill Team with 7 Veterans (all with Grav Guns and Bolters) and Librarian with Grav Pistol, “Dominus Aegis” Relic, and Divination discipline, all riding in a Drop Pod or a Rhino.

This squad puts out 16 Grav Gun shots at 9″ on the turn it disembarks. If you successfully cast Prescience, plus throw in Aquila Doctrine for re-rolls of 1s to Wound, then coming out of the Drop Pod or Rhino the GHOST EAGLE Battle Group averages 12-13 hits, about 9-10 wounds, and about 6-7 Unsaved Wounds on the Wraithknight after FNP rolls, which is more than enough to bring down the Eldar Lord of War with average rolling. In subsequent turns, the unit can engage other infantry targets with its Special Issue Ammunition or target another high armor unit with its 21 Grav shots at 18″ (provided it did not move), making it an excellent “forward firebase” unit to hold objectives and maneuver the rest of your army around. Additionally, if the unit stands still, then the Librarian can activate the “Dominus Aegis” and give the whole squad a 4++ save, making it much more durable against AP3/2/1 attacks. The entire GHOST EAGLE Battle Group comes in at just about 400 points, so VERY expensive for a single squad, but if you can take down a 300 point Wraithknight turn 1, then kill another squad or two the rest of the game, you will have made your points back and, more importantly, taken out one or more crucial elements of the enemy army, which has psychological impact all its own.

[3] MSU Warp Spider squads with BS5 (from Aspect Host formation) — Another very deadly, mobile unit that “pound for pound” outclasses most other units in 40K, Warp Spider squads have seen a large spike in popularity since their recent success in the tournament scene. With some of the best mobility for a non-flyer unit in the game, plus lots of S6 shooting (with quasi-Rending) at BS5, these Aspect Warriors are a threat to everything but AV13+ vehicles. To counter lots of minimum sized Warp Spider teams bounces around the board, I think Deathwatch have to “fight fire with fire” with min-sized Kill Teams of their own, as follows:

“EAGLE SABER” Battle Group configuration:

-Aquila Kill Team with 5 Veterans (all with Bolters and DW Shotguns) and two Terminators with Assault Cannons, all riding in a Drop Pod.

Upon disembarking, they use Aquila Doctrine and Venator Tactics to fire 10 Vengeance Rounds, hit with about 7-8, and inflict about 6 AP3 wounds, resulting in 6 dead Warp Spiders on average. The Terminators also fire their assault cannon, averaging 6-7 hits, about 6 AP4 wounds, and about 2 more Unsaved Wounds, for a total average of 8 dead Warp Spiders (or 152 points worth of models). Even against a 10 man unit, that should effectively neuter the Warp Spiders for the rest of the game, allowing the EAGLE SABER battle group to turn its attention to other targets (like additional MSU Warp Spider squads, for example). Again, the versatility of this Battle Group is nice, since the combination of Bolters and DW Shotguns enables it to deal with a variety of foes and the two Terminators provide strong tanking power and CC punch, beyond their effective Assault Cannon shooting.

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There are obviously a myriad of other Deathwatch Battle Groups that you can create/use, as there is also plenty of other dangerous Eldar units (Farseers, Hornets, War Walker, Wave Serpents, Dark Reapers, and Wraithguard with D-Scythes all come immediately to mind) to counter, but I think you would have a hard time going wrong with these three Battle Groups if you face Eldar opponents on a frequent basis.