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

I have been looking through all the different armies in 40K and here is my take on the top Relics in the game right now, the ones a competitive list should not leave home without (in no particular order):

 

[1] GORGON’S CHAIN (Iron Hands) — Gives Bearer a 3++, Eternal Warrior, and +1 to his FNP (does not replace a weapon); as the Bearer loses wounds, this item loses some of its benefits (but regains them it the Bearer regains the wounds somehow).

*Rationale: Not only is this one of the great durability enhancing Relics in the game (especially when combined with something like a Narthecium from an attached Command Squad or the Endurance power) but, unlike the Shield Eternal, you do not lose out on the ability to fight with two close combat weapons for +1A when using it. The classic way to use it is with an Iron Hands Chapter Master… give him a bike, Artificer Armor, PF, LC, and the Gorgon’s Chain and attach him to a Biker Command squad and you have a character that is 4W, T5, 2+/3++, with IWND and FNP(3+)… on top of this, he puts out either 6 PF or 6 LC attacks on the charge at WS6, so a true close combat beast on almost every level.

 

[2] HUNTER’S EYE (White Scars) / MULTI-SPECTRUM SENSOR SUITE (Tau) — Both of these relics do exactly the same thing, which is allow the shooting of their unit to Ignore Cover, with no test of any kind required (the Tau MSS only works if its bearer does not shoot himself, while the Hunter’s Eye still allows its bearer to shoot and benefit from Ignore Cover).

*Rationale: I don’t think I need to explain how powerful these two Relics are, especially when combined with a powerful shooting unit, since Cover Saves are one of the key forms of survivability for everything from hordes of light infantry to Jinking Bikes/Skimmers/FMCs to even vehicles using Smoke Grenade Launchers. Being able to remove this protection with 100% reliability is amazing and can be a game-changer in almost all circumstances. Some of the best uses for these Relics include attaching their bearer to Grav-Cannon Centurions, Missile-side Teams, Long Fangs with Plasma Cannons behind a Haemotrope Reactor, and Deep Striking Crises Suit Teams (with almost any weapons configuration), though the possibilities really are almost endless. Imperium forces probably get the most out of an attached White Scars IC with the Hunter’s Eye, since there are no limitations to its abilities and since Tau already have easy access to Ignore Cover via Markerlights, but these two Relics are definitely in the “don’t leave home without them” category.

 

[3] GRIMOIRE OF TRUE NAMES (Chaos Daemons) — Roll a dice, on a 3+ you cause the target friendly Daemon unit to improve its Invul save by +2, on a 1 or 2 roll, then they make it worse by -1.

*Rationale: Another of the most “famous” Relics (since several Chaos Deathstars are built around it), in conjunction with the Cursed Earth power (from Malefic Daemonology) you can bring a selected Daemon unit up to a 2++ (which becomes re-rollable if the are a Daemon of Tzeentch). Combine this with a powerhouse unit, like a Daemon Prince/Daemonic MC, a horde of Flesh Hounds, or even allied CSM Daemons (like Possessed, Obliterators, and Warp Talons) and you have a durable, mobile, and deadly unit which cannot be ignored, but also can shrug off entire armies worth of combat power. Of course, there is some risk associated with it, but that is why so many Daemon players us Fateweaver for the re-roll to the Grimoire (i.e. it goes from a 66% chance of success to an 88% chance with Fateweaver support).

 

[4] TALISMAN OF BURNING BLOOD (World Eaters) — Add 3″ to the Movement, Run, and Charge distances of the Bearer and his unit.

*Rationale: Another very powerful relic that you can build an entire Khorne army around. One of the best builds I can think of for this is a unit of World Eater Bikers from the Butcherhorde detachment, along with up to five attached Chaos Lords on Juggernauts… give the Talisman of Burning Blood to one of the Lords and outfit the rest with close combat Relics and you have a unit that is T5 across the board, hits like a freight train thanks to Rage + Furious Charge + Khorne Relics (and can even split into six different units to charge multiple elements of your opponent’s army), and also has ridiculous mobility. How much mobility? Well, this unit gets a free 2D6″ movement before the game begins (which does not prevent charging on turn 1, unlike Scout), can move “normally” up to 15″, then charge another 2D6+3″ (with re-rolls for failed charges), which gives it an average Turn 1 charge threat radius of 32″… pretty impressive! As I mentioned, the whole unit can use this, then split up later turns to maximize the “choppiness,” and generally cause all kinds of problems for an opposing army, especially a shooting-based force like Tau or even Eldar.

 

[5] ASTRAL GRIMOIRE (Thousand Sons) — The bearer can make one friendly unit within 12″ (this can be his unit, if he wants) into Jump Infantry for the Movement Phase each turn, with no requirement of any kind of Psychic or Leadership test.

*Rationale: This is one of my favorite Relics, and one that I have already tried building an army around, because it is so reliable and literally doubles the mobility and flexibility of otherwise slow-moving units, be it Scarab Occult Terminators, Obliterators, 20 man blobs of Rubric Marines, Possessed, or even Tzaangor Warherds. Add in some Psychic support to make the unit even more durable and potent in shooting and/or close combat and the Astral Grimoire can really turn a good unit into an elite, “flagship” battle group for your whole army that will be a threat to all kinds of opponents. So far, my favorite build is 10 x Thousand Sons Terminators with Combi-Meltas, Chainfists, Reaper Autocannons, and an attached PML(3) Sorceror (he carries the Astral Grimoire for the unit)… if you get a blessing off on the unit, then the Terminators can move 12″ a turn, shoot either Bolters/Reaper Autocannons or Meltas/Reaper Autocannons, and charge in with their Chainfists, all while rocking 2+/3++ saves to make for a unit that can really do a mix of everything well.

 


OK, that’s it for now, will look at the remaining Top 10 later, plus some honorable mentions in there as well 😉

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+

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

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

Transport Capacity: None

WAR GEAR:

-Gatling Psycannon

SPECIAL RULES:

-Deep Strike

-Drop Pod Assault

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

—————————————

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

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

Transport Capacity: 20 models

WAR GEAR:

-Pintle-mounted Quad Heavy Stubber

-Smoke Launchers

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

SPECIAL RULES:

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

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

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

Transport Capacity: 12 models

WAR GEAR:

-TLed Shuriken Cannon

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

-Star Engines

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

SPECIAL RULES:

-Assault Vehicle

—————————————

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

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

Transport Capacity: 18 models

WAR GEAR:

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

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

SPECIAL RULES:

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

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

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

Transport Capacity: 16 models

WAR GEAR:

-2 x Heavy Kroot Guns

SPECIAL RULES:

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

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

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

Transport Capacity: 30 models

WAR GEAR:

-4 x TLed Big Shootaz

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

SPECIAL RULES:

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

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

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

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

Transport Capacity: 10 models

WAR GEAR:

-Gauss Cannon (may upgrade to a Tesla Cannon)

-Quantum Shielding

SPECIAL RULES:

-Living Metal

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

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BROODOFEX (FAST ATTACK choice for Tyranids) — 130 points

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

WAR GEAR:

-Acid Spray

-Stinger Salvo

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

SPECIAL RULES:

-Fearless

-Instinctive Behavior (Hunt)

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

Counter-Magnus Tactics: Space Marine Edition

I was recently at my local gaming store and, while playing a game of my own, watched a couple tables over as a player using the new Thousand Sons and Magnus handily defeat a pretty competitive Space Wolf player, who himself was running Wulfen and lots of vehicles (I had lost to that same Space Wolf player in past games myself). Ever since he was released, I have thought Magnus would be a very competitive LOW choice for any CSM players and, the more I look at him, the more I think he is very tough to deal with, even for very competitive tournament armies.

Looking at his basic stat line, he has the following:

WS7 BS7 S8 T7 W7 I7 A6 Ld 10 Sv4+/4++ (Flying Monstrous Creature) — Costs 130 MBs

*Special Rules — Adamantium Will, Deep Strike, Eternal Warrior, Fearless, Fleet, IWND, PML(5), VotLW, Daemon of Tzeentch (so re-roll saving throws of 1), Omniscient Eye (has LOS to all units on battlefield when using Psychic Powers), Unearthly Power (harnesses WCs on a 5+)

*Wargear — Blade of Magnus (S: User, AP2, Force, Soul Blaze, Transmogrify –> 6+ to Wound causes ID and models slain by this become Chaos Spawn) and Crown of the Crimson King (4++ save and ignore Perils of the Warp)

On top of all this, Magnus know all 7 Tzeentch powers, all 7 Change powers, and the unique Gaze of Magnus power (18″ S: D AP1 Beam power which requires harness 5 WCs successfully). As you can clearly see, Magnus is very durable (T7, W7, EW, re-roll saving throws of 1, can Swoop as a FMC, and 4++, which can boost to a 3++ whenever he has a Blessing cast on him), mobile (all the mobility benefits of being a FMC), strong in close combat (7 x S8 AP2 attacks on the charge, all at WS7 and I7 with the ability to make them ID via Force)), and, most importantly, able to put out ridiculous amounts of damage in the Psychic Phase (i.e. using up to 5 powers a turn, with everything from activating his Force Weapon to taking control of an enemy unit and shooting other enemy units with it to multiple Destroyer strength Witchfire abilities).

So, all of this begs the question, how can non-CSM players counter Magnus? Today I will look at this question from the perspective of a Space Marine player. Specifically, I think you have to break this question into two parts: (1) how to counter Magnus if you have first turn, before he go into Swooping Mode and cast a Blessing to up his Invul save to a 3++, and (2) how to counter Magnus the rest of the game, when he will almost always be Swooping and have a 3++ save due to casting blessings:

 

[1] Countering Magnus when you have 1st Turn — This is the significantly easier option of the two, since you don’t have to Snapshot at him (or use a Skyfire weapon) and since he only has his base Invul save. Solid options for Space Marines include the following:

a) 1st Company Task Force — Since Magnus is not a GMC, he does not have FNP and also is still vulnerable to Poison Weapons. Based on this, 2-3 squads of Sternguard in Drop Pods from a 1st Company Task Force can DS in turn 1, target Magnus with Preferred Enemy (thanks to the formation Special Rules), and then unload up to 20 Poison(2+) shots per squad on him while he is still in Glide mode. With even just one Sternguard squad like this, they average 20 shots, 15-16 hits, 15 wounds, and 6-7 unsaved wounds, which with some luck with bring down Magnus in a single volley.

b) Skyhammer Grav Devastators — Like above, if you bring in two squads of Grav Cannon Devastators turn 1, they have 40 shots, 26-27 hits, 19-20 wounds, and 8-9 unsaved wounds on average, which should statistically kill Magnus in Gliding mode before he can even get into the game.

c) Two Predator Annihilator Squadrons — With maxed out squadrons giving them Monster Hunter, two squadrons of 3 Predators each can put out 6 TLed Lascannon shots and 12 regular Lascannon shots. This averages out to 13-14 hits, 12-13 wounds, and 5-6 unsaved wounds after Invul saves on Magnus… not quite enough to kill him by themselves, but this still brings the LOW down to 1-2 wounds, which the rest of your army ought to be able to finish off with reasonable certainty.

d) 10 TH/SS Terminators and attached Inquisitor (with Rad Grenades and Relic that allows Hatred once a game) and Librarius Conclave (with Electrodisplacement) — Drop Pod in a unit right next to Magnus turn 1 (say a Tac Squad), then have the Librarius Conclave to use Electrodisplacement to “switch” themselves/Chaplain/Hammernators with the Drop Pod unit and subsequently charge Magnus that same turn. The Stormshields will help the unit absorb Magnus’ attacks and then, with 30 TH attacks they will average 22-23 hits (thanks to Hatred), 18-19 wounds (thanks to Rad Grenades bringing Magnus down to T6), and 7-8 Unsaved Wounds, which will kill him before can do any more damage to your army in later turns.

e) Shadowstrike Kill Team with two squads of 8 Vanguard Vets (all with PF/LC combo) — Since the Raven Guard Talon Strike force allows you to bring in Reserves starting turn 1, and the Shadowstrike Kill Team allows you to auto-pass Reserve rolls, you can Deep Strike and charge with the Vanguard Vets on turn 1 (with the Scouts able to prevent them from scattering, if properly positioned). Magnus will kill on average 4 Vanguard before they strike, meaning that the remaining 12 models get to hit back with 48 PF attacks, 24 hits, 16 wounds, and 6-7 unsaved wounds on Magnus when the dust settles (so he would either be dead on 1W at the end of the combat, which makes him easy to finish off next assault phase).

 

[2] Countering Magnus when he is Swooping and has a 3++ — This is the much harder path to travel, especially since it means you have to get a very high volume of powerful Skyfire shots to bring Magnus down:

a) 6 Grav Cannon/Missile Launcher Centurions with Land Raider Excelsior and Culexus Assassin support — The LR Excelsior can “cast” Skyfire on the Centurions and the Culexus, if moved within 12″ of Magnus, can “turn off” his Psychic abilities (including downgrading his 3++ back to a 4++, since the Blessing on him would be cancelled). Taken all together, the Centurions can then put out 30 Grav shots which average 20 hits, 15 wounds, and 6-7 unsaved wounds on Magnus. Throw in the additional 6 Krak Missiles with 4 hits, 2-3 wounds, and 1-2 unsaved wounds and you should be able to bring down a Swooping Magnus in one shooting phase, with average rolling.

b) 10 Sternguard with attached Librarian (with the Memento-Mortispex Relic) and Culexus Assassin support — If the Sternguard squad can get within 12″ of Magnus, the Librarian can give them Skyfire ( with the Memento-Mortispex Relic) and cast Prescience on them, in turn allowing them to unload on Magnus with 20 TLed Poison(2+) shots. On average, 20 shots like this yields 17-18 hits, and 14-15 wounds. Provided the Culexus is also within 12″ of Magnus to downgrade his Invul to a 4++, then the Sternguard would inflict about 6 unsaved wounds, leaving the Tzeentch LOW with 1W left, which the rest of your army ought to be able to bring down.

c) Two full batteries of Quad Mortars from the Red Hunters Chapter, a pair of Stormhawk Interceptor, and Culexus Assassin support — The Quad Mortars can use their Chapter Tactics on Turn 2 to both gain Skyfire, which allows them to put out 24 x S8 shots, resulting in about 16 hits, 10-11 wounds, and 4-5 unsaved wounds (if the Culexus Assassin is within range of Magnus). That leaves 2-3 wounds left, which the Stormhawk Interceptors ought to be able to finish off reliably between their 4 x Lascannon shots, 8 x Assault Cannon shots, and 4 x Krak Missiles (all firing at full BS on Magnus).

 

As you can see, taking on Magnus with Space Marines is quite difficult, especially if he is Swooping and has his Invul save bumped up by a Blessing, but these are some ways to try and deal with him early in the game, before he can do too much damage to your force. If you do succeed in killing him early, you should have a strong chance of defeating the rest of your opponent’s army, since Magnus is about a third of the total points in a 2000 point game.

Traitor Legions: Army Analysis

Normally, in the past, I have been an almost exclusively Imperium player, but recently I have been trying out some different Chaos Space Marine lists, based on the new Traitor Legion options, and I was able to try out the following 2000 point army during the holidays:

—-Night Lords CAD—-

HQ

*Daemon Prince of Tzeentch with Wings, Stormbolt Plate armor (Relic) [WARLORD]

TROOPS

*2 x 5 Raptors with 2 Meltaguns, Power Axe on Champion

 

—-Iron Warriors CAD—-

HQ

*Daemon Prince of Tzeentch with Wings, Fleshmetal Hide armor (Relic)

TROOPS

*6 x Obliterator (1 model per squad)

FORTIFICATION

*2 x Haemotrope Reactors

 

—-Thousand Sons Allied Detachment—-

HQ

*Sorcerer with PML(3), TDA, Spell Familiar, Mark of Tzeentch, MB, Astral Grimoire (Relic)

ELITES

*1 x 10 Terminators with Mark of Tzeentch, 10 Combi-Meltas, 10 Chainfists

TROOPS

*1 x 10 Tzaangors

—————————————————————————————————————

I was playing against a Word Bearer’s army with lots of Cultists plus a Dark Apostle (Lost and the Damned formation), triple Forgefiends and Warpsmith (Helforged Warpack formation), two Heldrakes (Heldrake Terror Pack formation), and three Helbrutes that could deep strike (Mayhem Pack formation, I think its called), and two PML(3) Sorcerers (Lords of the Legion for the Grand Host detachment). Since everything was part of the Grand Host detachment, except for the Helbrutes, they all benefited from the Crusader and giving a free boon each turn to a character in addition to their specific formation rules and the Word Bearer “Chapter Tactics” (i.e. Dark Apostles have a 6″ Zealot bubble and harnessing Warp Charges for Conjurations in the Malefic discipline on 3+s).

In terms of my army, the plan was to keep all the one man Obliterator squads in the back, around the Haemotrope Reactors, and “power up” their Plasma Cannons into S7 AP2 Large Blast pie plates for fire support to the army. Meanwhile, the Tzeentch Terminators and TDA Sorcerer formed a mini-deathstar and advanced quickly on my opponent, using the Astral Grimoire relic to make them Jump Troops in the Movement Phase and Psychic Blessings to “power up” to 2+/3++ saves as they advanced. Simultaneously, the two Tzeentch Daemon Princes Swooped forward 24″ on turn 1 and used their re-rollable 2+ armor saves (and re-rollable 2+ cover save, in the case of the Night Lords DP) to survive incoming enemy firepower until they could transition to Gliding mode (Turn 2) and charge into the enemy ranks (Turn 3). Finally, the Raptors started in reserve and dropped in to meltacide enemy units and charge if they survived while the Tzaangors were just a cheap ObSec unit that might tarpit another enemy force.

In terms of actual battlefield results, the Obliterators did not do so well, as several of them suffered Get’s Hot! on turn 1 (Haemotrope Reactor powers up their Plasma weapons, but also causes Get’s Hot on a 1 or 2, not just 1), meaning I lost a lot of firepower there. On turn 2, they were out of range for most of their weapons, so I had to use Lascannons, which was not ideal against tons of Cultists, though it did make for some humor at the time 😉 Overall, I think I kept the Obliterators too tied to the Haemotrope Reactors, meaning they did not have as much impact on the game as I expected, and in the future would advance them as they fired, or even DS them closer to enemy lines.

The Raptors did surprisingly well, with good scatters for their Deep Strikes, and one Raptor squad was the Hero of the game, killing the Warpsmith Warlord on the turn they dropped in and then killing another Sorceror in Overwatch as he charged them and a Forgefiend on turn 3 with their Meltas. In the future, I might invest in one or two more Raptor squads and continue dropping them aggressively around the enemy forces like I did this game.

The two Daemon Princes also did well, shrugging off almost all enemy combat power easily, except for Vector Strikes by my opponent’s Heldrakes, which ignore both armor and cover saves of course. They both survived long enough to get into combat, where they tore up units as expected. I think, if I were to change anything about them, I would have given them each PML(1) and then have them roll on Telepathy for Psychic Shriek, since right now they lack any kind of shooting and have to drop into Hover Mode to make any kind of impact on the game.

Finally, the Tzaangors didn’t do much, as they were pretty much ignored, but the Tzeentch Terminators performed pretty well, absorbing a decent bit of firepower (I think I lost one of them as a casualty) and being able to close quickly with their Chainfists and 2+/3++ saves, thanks to the Astral Grimoire. In the future, I might drop several Chainfists and use the points for some other units in the army (like PML(1) for the DPs that I mentioned above).

Overall, I think this army did a decent job of combining three different elements of the CSM Legions, with lots of ObSec units (in this case, it was actually all Kill Points, so this didn’t matter, but in most games I would have 9 ObSec units) and a solid amount of durability, mobility, and firepower all around.

 

 

Traitor Legions: Black Legion Raptor Talon

Whereas you would probably think that Night Lords are the best Chaos Legion to make use of the Raptor Talon formation, I actually think that the Black Legion Speartip detachment may  be one of the best ways to field this particular formation. First of all, let’s look at the Black Legion and Speartip detachment special rules:

—Black Legion Faction—

[1] All Black Legion units that have access to it get VotLW for free. If they have this rule, then they also get Hatred against everyone and, if they are fighting against any Imperium armies, they get to re-roll ALL to Hits against them (i.e. not just the first round of combat).

[2] Abbadon is the only Unique character that a Black Legion formation/detachment can take but, unlike other “undivided” Traitor Legions, Black Legion units/characters can choose to upgrade to any Mark they want.

—BL Speartip Detachment—

[1] All non-vehicle members of this detachment get free Fear and Crusader USRs

[2] Any units from this detachment that have Deep Strike may attempt to come in from Reserves starting turn 1, and your WL and his unit may choose to automatically come in from reserves on turn 1.

Now, combine all these rules with the Raptor Talon (Jump Pack Chaos Lord, 3-5 units of Raptors and/or Warp Talons) itself, which provides the following benefits:

[1] Units from this formation can charge on the same turn they arrive from DS Reserve, but count as having made a Disordered Charge if they do so

[2] If two or more units from a Raptor Talon charge an enemy unit, that enemy unit has -2Ld until the end of the turn.

Finally, since Black Legion units can take any Mark they want, you can “upgrade” your Lord/squads to maximize a specific role in this “kick in the door” style formation. Taking all of these synergistic rules together, I think you can make a very potent battle group that looks something like this:

[1] Chaos Lord with JP, Mark of Nurgle, Sigil of Corruption, PF/LC, and Skull of Ker’ngar (Relic)

[2] Three squads of 10 Raptors, all with Mark of Slaanesh, Icon of Excess, 2 MGs, and PF/LC on the Champion

[3] One squad of 10 Warp Talons with Mark of Nurgle (Jump Lord attaches to them)

So, once you combine all the “cascading” bonuses, each of these squads gets Hatred (or re-rolls every round against Imperium units), gets Crusader/Fear, gets a chance to arrive by Deep Strike on turn 1 and still charge that same turn (the Jump Lord and Warp Talons will arrive automatically turn 1, if you need them to), and can inflict -2Ld on enemy units while getting “free” Ld10 (from VotLW) on themselves. The Raptor squads also can hit their target with 2 MGs each before charging, strike at I5 (so likely before most opponents), and get FNP as long as the Icon bearer is still alive.

As for the Jump Lord and Warp Talons, they are Fearless (thanks to the Lord), can potentially Blind nearby enemies (thanks to the Warp Talon “Warpflame Strike” rule), and are all T5 to better absorb enemy Overwatch/attacks in CC. The Lord himself has a 3+/4++ and can either use his PF or his I5 LC with 4A base which, combined with the 20 x S4 AP3 Shred attacks from the Warp Talons on their Deep Strike charge, ought to deal with almost any MEQ or below that doesn’t have a 2+ armor save.

Now, you obviously don’t want to target enemy uber close combat units with this task force since, while they hit pretty hard, compared to things like Hammernators, Wulfen, Necron Wraiths, Meganobz, Genestealer Cult Purestrain Genestealers, etc., etc., they are relatively fragile and will get clobbered by dedicated assault units.

What I think this battle group can excel at is, number one, as the ultimate “bully” unit for turn 1 assaults (and hopefully Sweeping Advances, with the help of the Crusader USR) against weak “shooty” opponents (Tau, Eldar, and Astra Militarum all come immediately to mind) and, number two, very capable “tar pit” units for very dangerous opponents that you don’t want shooting and/or assaulting the rest of your army. With the ability to reliably charge on Turn 1, you can “suppress” dangerous threats like Stormsurges, Wraithknights, Imperial Knights, Devastator Centurions, Astra Militarum “Blob” Squads, Tau Pathfinders, Eldar Jetbikes, Loota Boyz, TFCs, etc. etc. before they can every really get into action by tying them up in close combat right away: if you are lucky, you might even kill them off, but at the very worst you keep them from moving, shooting, and/or assaulting for several turns, thereby allowing the rest of your army to operate without danger from them.

Traitor Legions: Talisman of Burning Blood and World Eaters Bikers

Looking at the new World Eaters rules today and something that really jumps out at me (and which I have seen discussed in other forums/blogs) is the Talisman of Burning Blood, which gives +3″ to the Move, Run, and Charge distances of the bearer and his unit. Very simple, but very powerful, especially when combined with the free 2D6″ move given to non-vehicle units by the special World Eater’s detachment.

In terms of how to apply this Relic tactically, there are tons of options, but I think one of the best will look something like this:

-Chaos Lord with MoK, Juggernaut, Sigil of Corruption, LC/PF, and Talisman of Burning Blood (Relic)

-Chaos Lord with MoK, Juggernaut, Sigil of Corruption, and Axe of Blind Fury (Relic)

-Chaos Lord with MoK, Juggernaut, Sigil of Corruption, and Gorefather (Relic)

-Chaos Lord with MoK, Juggernaut, Sigil of Corruption, and Bloodfeeder (Relic)

-10 CSM Bikers with MoK, 2 x Meltagun, Champion with LC/PF

 

If taken as part of the World Eaters “Butcherhorde” detachment, then this unit gets the following:

-Free 2D6″ movement before Turn 1 + 15″ Move (12″ move as Bikes/Cavalry and additional 3″ from Talisman of Burning Blood) + 2D6+3″ Charge

This translates to a minimum Turn 1 Charge Threat Radius of 22″, a maximum Turn 1 Charge Radius of 42″, and an average Turn 1 Charge Threat Radius of 30″ (with Re-rolls for failed charges, thanks to the Butcherhorde detachment special rules).

Combine all this with Fearless, Furious Charge, and Adamantium Will on the unit, thanks to World Eater “Chapter Tactics,” and the four very “choppy” Juggerlords, and you have a unit that can very reliably cross the table and get into combat on Turn 1 and wreak some serious havoc. The Khorne Bikers themselves put out 36 x S5 attacks on the charge, plus 5 x S5 AP3 Shred or 5 x S9 AP2 Unwieldy attacks (from the Biker Champion), plus the following on the charge:

-Juggerlord 1 (Talisman of Burning Blood) — 7 x S5 AP3 Shred or 7 x S9 AP2 Unwieldy attacks

-Juggerlord 2 (Axe of Blind Fury) — 7-13 x S7 AP2 attacks

-Juggerlord 3 (Gorefather) — 6 x S7 AP2 Armourbane, Murderous Strike (i.e. 6+ to Wound = ID)

-Juggerlord 4 (Bloodfeeder) — 4-14 x S6 AP2 attacks (with 1s to Wound hitting friendlies)

Since the assault of this battle group cannot reliably be countered by things like Interceptor (Tau) or shooting for a turn or two before they get into combat (everyone else), due to their amazing speed across the table-top, I think this will shake up the meta pretty significantly in the future. Honestly, this reminds me a lot of the old, 5th edition Biker Nobz deathstar lists that were so hard to deal with, except a little less durable and bit more mobile/choppy.

Overall, I think this will be a good thing for anyone who wants to play a very aggressive, assault-based CSM army that relies on speed and hitting power to win the day, vice the shooting and psychic power shenanigans that are so in vogue right now.

Traitor Legions: Fixing Cult Troops

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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