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

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

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

—IMPERIAL KNIGHT HOUSEHOLD—

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

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

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

—EMPEROR’S TALONG RECON COMPANY—

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

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

—CULT MECHANICUS ALLIED DETACHMENT—

*Belisarius Cawl (200)

*3 Kataphron Destroyers with Heavy Grav Cannons (165)

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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


 

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

Assault Vehicles for All!

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

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

—————————————

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

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

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

WAR GEAR:

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

-Siege Shield

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

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

SPECIAL RULES:

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

—————————————

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

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

Transport Capacity: None

WAR GEAR:

-Gatling Psycannon

SPECIAL RULES:

-Deep Strike

-Drop Pod Assault

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

—————————————

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

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

Transport Capacity: 20 models

WAR GEAR:

-Pintle-mounted Quad Heavy Stubber

-Smoke Launchers

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

SPECIAL RULES:

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

—————————————

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.).

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:

—————————————————————————————–

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

—————————————————————————————–

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.

Belial: Master of the Deep Strike

So, reviewing the rules of Belial, he has all the standard Deathwing rules (Fearless, Hatred (CSM), Grim Resolve), plus some bonuses to fighting in challenges and the option to use a Relic Sword (Sword of Silence — S: User  AP3  Fleshbane, Master-crafted)

What really stands out about him, though, is the Tactical Precision rule which states “Belial and his unit do not scatter when arriving by Deep Strike.”

As you can see from the rule, there is no restriction on what unit Belial is joined to, and thus no restriction on what friendly units can benefit from his “no scatter” deep strike ability.

This opens up numerous tactical possibilities across all armies that can ally with Dark Angels as Battle Brothers, specifically all the Imperium codices/supplements. Below is a list of allied units/formations that could benefit from having Belial attached and conferring his “Tactical Precision” rule when they come in via Deep Strike:

(1) – Ultramarines Strike Force Ultra — Attach Belial and Marneus Calgar to one of the 10 man Tactical Terminators squads equipped with dual Heavy Flamers, then Deep Strike in with no scatter and release 4 Flamer templates and 24 Storm Bolter shots (Strike Force Ultra allows the formation add one more shot to all weapons when the unit arrives by DS), all with Rending (thanks to Calgar using the Storm of Fire WL Trait)… even Wraithknights will have trouble absorbing that kind of firepower and “normal” infantry will just evaporate… plus you will have a massive Terminator squad right where you want it in the enemy’s face turn 1, thanks to no scatter DS.

(2) – Deathwing Knights and attached Brother-Captain Stern — While they cannot put out any shooting the turn they come in, they are super tough with the potential for 2++ saves and T5 all around, thanks to Sanctuary from Stern and the Fortress of Shields rule. They should be able to absorb all kinds of enemy shooting (even Grav weapons, with a 2++ save), and then charge turn 2, using Hammerhand from Stern to strike with WS5 in either “Normal mode” S8 AP3 I4 or “Smite mode” S10 AP2 I4 (but only one attack per model), which will bring down just about anything they encounter.

(3) – Wolf Guard Terminators with Combi-meltas and attached TDA Rune Priest — The ability to land EXACTLY where you want is invaluable for this combo, as it means you can put the WG Terminators precisely in melta range of whatever high-value target you want to bring down (i.e. Imperial Knight, Monstrous/Gargantuan Creatures, AV14 vehicles, Grav Cannon Centurions, etc.). You then use the Rune Priest to cast Prescience on the Terminators, twin-linking their meltas (and making them better in assault if they are charged in the next turn) for even more reliable destruction.

(4) – GK Paladins with 4 x Special Weapons — Being able to put a squad of Paladins exactly where you want them provides exceptional flexibility and offensive capacity, whether you equip them with four Incinerators and “burninate” down a unit with multiple S6 AP4 templates or four Psycannons and cut loose with 16 x S7 AP4 Rending shots into a vehicle squadron’s rear armor. On top of this, like with Strike Force Ultra, DW Knights, and WG Terminators, you also have a dangerous CC unit right on the enemy’s doorstep with no risk of scatter.

5 – GK Terminators/Strike Squads/Interceptors with dual Incinerators — A cheaper, more “economy” version of the Paladin build above, this still is a viable battle group that can put multiple Incinerator templates and lots of SB fire right where you need it, plus provide lots of threat from force weapons in the next turn, with Belial attaching to the squad and bringing them in precisely.

6 – Sanguinary Guard with multiple Inferno Pistols and JP Sanguinary Priest — A combo that is perhaps not very conventional, this unit benefits greatly from being able to get all of its Inferno Pistols within “3” melta range because of Belial’s DS accuracy and then, in subsequent turns, use its superior 2+ armor and 12″ Jump Pack moves to continue to deal significant damage to the enemy lines.

7 – JP Death Company with attached Astorath — Similar to the Sanguinary Guard, you can add Inferno/Plasma pistols or Hand Flamers to taste, but the real benefit is having up to 15 bloodthirsty Death Company models on your opponent’s doorstep, ready to charge with 5A per model and re-rolls to Hit/to Wound, thanks to Astorath’s buffs.

8 – JP Vanguard Vets gun slinging massed Grav Pistols and attached JP Librarian — A more mobile alternative to Grav Centurions or Grav Bikers, you can potentially have up to 20 Grav shots at 12″ with this battle group, all twin-linked via Prescience from the attached Librarian.

9 – Blood Angel JP Assault Squad with dual Special Weapons and dual pistols on Sgt — With only 5 members, this squad can pack quite a bunch of specialized firepower, be it two flamers and two hand flamers <or> two meltas and two inferno pistols <or> two plasma guns and two plasma pistols/Grav pistols. Any way you do it, Belial can bring this squad in precisely and deliver all the firepower exactly where it needs to be.

10 – Militarum Tempestus Command Squad with 4 x Special Weapons — You have multiple options here, including Flamers, Grenade Launcher, Meltaguns, HS Volley-guns, and Plasma Guns (plus a Plasma Pistol for the Tempestor Prime, if you want it), all of which combine well with Orders that either Twin-Link the shooting or give the squad Preferred Enemy. Add in the fact that the squad has Move through Cover and you have Belial Deep Strike them into terrain with no scatter and no risk of Dangerous Terrain tests, significantly improving their survivability as they deliver all that shooting exactly where you need it.

11 – Sisters of Battle Seraphim with 4 x Inferno Pistols/Hand Flamers and attached Celestine — Another great utility unit that can be configured for clearing hordes (Hand Flamers/BPs and Celestine’s Heavy Flamer) or bringing down vehicles/MCs (Inferno Pistols). On top of this, the whole unit has Hit and Run and, between Belial and Celestine, is actually quite a dangerous close combat threat in subsequent turns.

12 – Cult Mechanicus “Holy Requisitioner” formation — A bit of an unusual battle group here, this formation consists of a Tech-Priest Dominus and 2-3 Kataphron Breacher squads and gives them all the ability to Deep Strike. Additionally, they all come in on a single Reserve Roll (which can be re-rolled if desired) and the Breachers do not scatter if they DS within 6″ of the Tech-Priest Dominus. Now, the Tech-Priest can “organically” deep strike with no scatter, provided he lands within 6″ of an Objective, but attaching Belial to him means he has the option to deep strike ANYWHERE, objective or not, and then bring in the Breachers around him with no scatter, making for a much more flexible battle group. Once they arrive, the Breacher can put out significant anti-vehicle firepower with Heavy Arc Rifles (i.e. 2 shot Haywire weapons) or anti-MC/TEQ shooting with Torsion Cannons (S8 AP1 shots that inflict D3 wounds for each unsaved wound or D3 HPs lost for each penetrating hit). Also, while not exceptional, the Breachers have decent close combat capabilities for future turns, especially if they take the Hydraulic Claw upgrade for S10 AP2 attacks.

 

 

Lias Issadon and the Cohort Cybernetica

As I study the new Cult Mechanicus book, one of the formations that jump out at me is the Cohort Cybernetica. For those who are not familiar with it, it consists of (1) Tech-Priest Dominus and (2) Kastelan Robot Maniples, all grouped into a single unit (which the Dominus cannot leave).

In practice, this means you have a minimum of one Dominus, two Data-Smiths, and four Kastelan Robots, with the option for up to four more Datasmiths and eight more Robots, though that becomes ridiculously expensive very quickly.

In terms of Special Rules, as long as the Dominus is alive he allows the Kastelan Robots to change their Protocals instantly at the end of your turn (rather than waiting until the start of your next turn for the change to take effect) and every Dominus/Data-Smith in the unit can sacrifice its shooting to allow a single Kastelan Robot to shoot a different target than the rest of the unit. Finally, the whole unit yields (3) Victory points if it is completely destroyed (which is quite difficult to do) and also counts as three units for the purposes of calculating Canticles of the Omnissiah.

So, how to use this unique formation? First of all, I recommend having all the Kastelan Robots replace their Incedine Combustors (i.e. Torrent Flamers) with Heavy Phosphor Blasters. Not only do these have 36″ range, S6 AP3, and 3 shots a piece, but they also have the Luminagen rule, potentially serving as “quasi-Makerlights” if they inflict an unsaved wounds/glance/penetrating hit). While the Torrent flamers are nice, I think the Heavy Phosphor Blasters are much more versatile (they can even be used against light vehicles in a pinch) and force multiply the rest of your army as well.

Shooting aside, where the Kastelan Robots really shine is in close combat with the Conqueror Protocol activated (this doubles their base Attacks, but at the cost of not being able to shoot at all). This means that, with Conqueror Protocal on, each Kastelan Robot has T7, 3W, a 3+ save, and 6 x S10 AP2 attacks on the charge, all at I2 (so still slow to strike, but importantly striking before any enemy PFs, THs, or other Unwieldy weapons). Using the Cohort Cybernetica, with its minimum of four Kastelan Robots, that’s 24 x S10 AP2 attacks on the charge, plus another 6 x S8 AP2 Unwieldy attacks from the attached Datasmiths and another 4 x S5 AP2 Power Axe attacks from the attached Dominus. Given that the entire unit is Fearless and goes with majority T7 (at least until two of the Kastelan Robots are killed), this is a brutal formation in close combat which can threaten any and everything it gets close enough to assault.

The difficulty, of course, is getting this formation of Monstrous Creatures and attached characters close enough to the enemy to get into combat to begin with. Since it can only move 6″ a turn, cannot ride in vehicles, cannot DS, and cannot have additional ICs attach (ICs cannot attach to a MC or unit containing MCs unless given special rules to do so, as is the case of the Dominus in this formation), thus preventing use of Psychic Powers like Gates of Infinity or Levitation to improve its mobility, there is a very real possibility that a savvy opponent will simply “kite” this unit all game long, shooting it to death or ignoring it while never allowing the Cohort to get into close combat.

This is where Lias Issadon comes in. With his WL Trait allowing him the ability to Infiltrate himself and 3 other non-vehicle units, he can Infiltrate the Cohort Cybernetica to within 18″ of the enemy DZ (or 12″, if you have blocked LOS) before the game even begins. Better yet, he can infiltrate the unit into cover and turn 1 you can activate the “Shroudpsalm” Canticle, giving them either Stealth, Shrouded, or Stealth+Shrouded, depending on how many Cult Mechanius units are in you army.

Combined with terrain, that means the unit has between a 4+ and 2+ cover save in addition to its 19 wounds at majority T7, 3+/2+ armor, and the Dominus’ ability to repair a single wound each turn on a roll of 2+. Use the Aegis Protocol in conjunction with all this to give the Kastelan Robots FNP and give the Dominus the “Autocaduceus of Arkhan Land” relic to give the entire unit IWND and, even if your opponent dedicates his entire army’s firepower toward the Cohort, you will likely be able ot weather the storm with plenty of combat power left in the unit.

Once you get to turn 2-3 move up, shoot as required, and charge your opponent’s DZ with the force of a unit of T7 Monstrous Creatures. Basically, infilitrating a Cohort Cybernetica is what Carnifex Broods would kill to do, but the Cohort does it AND still has effective shooting between the Kastelan’s Heavy Phosphor Blasters (switch to Protector Protocols if you need to shoot and then you are putting out 24 x S6 AP3 shots a turn), the Datasmith’s Gamma Pistols, and the Dominus’ Eradication Ray and Macrostubber. Intelligent use of the Canticles of the Omnissiah and split firing the Kastelans as required only makes this battle group even more effective and truly adds a balanced, capable, and potent “anvil” unit to your army.