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.

Hidden Gem: Centaur Weapons Carrier

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

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

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

*Heavy Stubber, Searchlight, Smoke Launchers

*Transport: 5 models

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Counter-Genestealer Cult Tactics: Eversor Assassin

We are just starting to see how competitive the new Genestealer Cult faction is and, from initial impressions and battle reports, it may actually be one of the top tier armies, especially in the hands of a skilled commander. Specifically, the unrivalled mobility provided by the “Cult Ambush” and “Return to the Shadows” rules, coupled with top-notch close combat abilities (i.e. lots of Rending attacks and the ability to Charge when arriving from Reserve/Turn 1), very reasonable unit costs, and highly competitive Psychic Powers all make them a very dangerous army to face.

Based on all this, I think one of the keys to dealing with a Genestealer Cult opponent is the ability to wipe out an entire unit in a turn, before they have a chance to “Return to the Shadows” to reappear somewhere else on the board and also, potentially, replenish their casualties, thanks to the Cult Insurrection rules. Some of this can be done via shooting, especially given the poor armor saves/low toughness of almost the entire army, but if you can beat Genestealer Cults at their own game in close combat, then this is potentially even more effective, since they cannot “Return to the Shadows” if they are within 6″ of an enemy unit (and, thus, cannot do so if they are locked in combat).

As I have thought about ways to effectively deal with Genestealer Cults, the Eversor Assassin stands out to me as a very solid “counter” option for any Imperium armies. Like all Imperial Assassins, the Eversor has the following stats:

WS8 BS8 S4 T4 W3 I7 A4 Ld10 Sv 4++

In terms of wargear, he comes with a Power Sword, MBs, an Executioner Pistol (can shoot with either a Poisoned Shot with no AP or a Bolt Pistol profile and can Overwatch at full BS, thanks to the Eversor’s Sentinel Array), and a Neuro-gauntlet (S: User AP- Fleshbane, Shred). He also has Frenzon, which allows him to charge 3D6″, vice the normal 2D6″, and gives him +3A on the charge, vice the normal +1A.

Finally, in terms of Special Rules, the Eversor has all the standard Assassin Rules (i.e. Fearless, Independent Operative, Infiltrate, Lightning Reflexes, Move through Cover, and No Escape), plus he has Fast Shot (may shoot his Executioner Pistol with 4 shots instead of 1), FNP, Furious Charge, and Bio-meltdown (when he dies, all models within D6″ suffer a S5 AP- hit).

As you can see from all these rules, the Eversor is really geared to be a “one man army” that takes down hordes of enemy light infantry all by himself… which is exactly what most of the Genestealer Cult faction is! 😉 Since almost all Genestealer Cult units have a 5+ save and T3 (the Patriarch is an exception, with T5 and 4+ save), the Eversor can do some amazing damage to almost any squad, if he gets the charge (which his Frenzon drugs help a lot with, giving him an average charge range of 11″).

For example, if an Eversor charges a 10 man squad of Hybrid Metamorphs (with Metamorph Claw upgrades and a Cult Icon), he can shoot 4 times with the Bolt Pistol profile of his Executioner Pistol, getting an average of 3.66 hits (thanks to BS8), 2.44 wounds, and so 2-3 dead Metamorphs from shooting. He then strikes at WS8 and I7 with 8 x S5 AP3 Power Sword attacks, yielding an average of 5.33 hits and 4.44 Unsaved Wounds, so another 4-5 dead Metamorphs, for a total of 6-8 Genestealer Cult models killed total. Assuming 3 Metamorphs survive, they get 9 x S6 AP- attacks back at WS5, yielding 4.5 hits, 3.75 wounds, and 1.25 Unsaved Wounds after the Eversor’s 4++ and FNP. Based on this, the Eversor survives and the Metamorphs lose combat by -7, meaning they have to run unless they roll a double 1… with I7 vs I4, the Eversor is quite likely to win the Sweeping Advance roll, wiping out the remaining Metamorphs if he does so. That is 110 points worth of models destroyed in a single turn by a single Assassin, who himself only costs 135 points… more importantly, the entire unit is wiped out (or at least severely wounded and locked in combat), meaning it cannot Return to the Shadows, replenish its casualties, and pop up somewhere else on the board.

Even against more elite combatants, like the Patriarch, the Eversor’s super high combat stats will allow him to hold his own… if the Patriarch is by himself (say you stripped off his Purestrain Genestealer bodyguard via shooting), the Eversor gets 8 x S5 AP3 attacks on the charge at WS8 I7 (so he and the Patriarch strike simultaneously and the Eversor hits on 3+s, while the Patriarch hits on 4+s), resulting in an average of 5.33 hits and 2.66 Unsaved Wounds, which might be enough to kill him in a single phase, if you roll lucky. Striking back simultaneously, the Patriarch gets 4 x S6 AP3 Shred/Rending attacks, resulting in an average of 2 hits, 1.94 wounds, and .64 Unsaved Wounds after FNP and Invul saves for the Eversor. As you can see, the Eversor is clearly set up to win this fight and, even if he doesn’t finish off the Patriarch in the first round, he should be able to finish off the Genestealer Cult HQ eventually with his WS8, 4++, and FNP shrugging off most of the damage from the Patriarch in subsequent Assault phases. Finally, even against Genestealer Cult vehicles, the Eversor has access to his MBs and, in a pinch, 8 x S5 attacks on the charge, which can wreck even Leman Russes (with their AV10 rear armor) with some luck, meaning he is a threat to everything from transports like the Goliath and Chimera to heavy tanks.

The key to all this, of course, is delivering the Eversor safely across the battlefield to charge range of the Genestealer Cult forces. His ability to Infiltrate can help here, as can tricks like borrowing allied transports (he can’t start in them, but can jump in them Turn 1), using fortifications with Escape Hatches to “sling shot” across the battlefield, and even Psychic Support (an allied Space Marine Librarian can drop in right next to a Genestealer Cult target with a Drop Pod, then cast Electrodisplacement to “swap” places with the Eversor on Turn 1, after which the Eversor can immediately charge the enemy that same turn). Alternately, if you have more of a long-range “gun line” army, you can simply have the Genestealer Cult army come to you and, once they are close, use the 3D6″ charge range on the Eversor to counter-assault them. While the Eversor is certainly not an auto-win choice against an enemy Genestealer Cult, his ability “remove” an entire squad (or Patriarch) per turn makes him a very solid, and decently affordable, addition to your army when facing this dangerous faction.

Counter-Tau Tactics: Vindicare Assassin

As I review the new Tau Codex, it appears that the Tau Empire will continue to be one of the top armies, given the buff to current units and new units/formations that they gained. I see them competing quite handily with Eldar, SM Battle Companies, Necrons, etc. as one of the more competitive armies out there.

In order to combat Tau, I think the key is to “de-synch” their synergy, especially with Marker Lights and their new rules that give bonuses for multiple Tau units engaging the same unit(s). One of the best unit, IMHO, to execute this “de-synching” is the Vindicare Assassin.

Reviewing the Vindicare’s stats, he is basically an advanced sniper with BS8 and AP2, Ignore Cover shots, always has Precision Shots (so can always pick the model he is hitting) and adds -2 to enemy Look Out Sir! rolls against his attacks. He also can pick his ammo, either Hellfire Rounds (Wound on 2+, vice normal 4+), Shield Breaker Rounds (Ignores Invul saves), or Turbo-Penetrator Rounds (S10 vs vehicles, D3 wounds inflicted on non-vehicle models for every Unsaved Wound caused).

So, how can these abilities be put to use against the Greater Good? Here are some tactics:

(1) Ethereal Sniping — Using the Turbo-Penetrator Round and the -2 to Look Out Sir! rolls, the Vindicare can reliably Hit, wound, and kill an Ethereal hiding in an enemy squad/in cover in a single shooting phase. This not only removes his Ld10 bubble, but also prevents the Tau player from using Invocation of the Elements to increase the firepower of his Fire Warriors (it also gives a bonus VP for killing the Ethereal).

(2)  “Signature Systems” Surgical Strike — Since Crisis Teams Shas’vres can take Signature Systems (like the PENChip and MSS) and buff their squad, thereby freeing up Tau Commanders to focus on other tasks, the Vindicare provides an excellent “antidote” option and, using the Turbo-Penetrator Round, has an excellent chance of “one-shotting” these Shas’vres and their invaluable Signature Systems. This can greatly reduce the efficiency of the unit, especially if it loses Tank Hunter/Monster Hunter, Ignore Cover, and/or Twin-Linked to all of its shooting.

(3) Vehicle Hunter — With a BS8 S10 AP2 shot and 72″ range, the Vindicare can reliably penetrate any vehicle in the Tau Empire arsenal (remember, no Cover saves from Jinking as well). This means stripping a HP, at best destroying the vehicle outright on a lucky 6+ roll, and at worst reducing the vehicle to Snapshots, which can neuter the offensive capacity of Hammerheads, Sky Rays, Flyers, etc.

(4) Squad Leader  Eliminator — Using his Hellfire Rounds, the Vindicare can easily remove Firesight Marksmen (reducing the Sniper Drones from BS5 to BS2), Fire Warrior/Pathfinder Shas’ui, Kroot Shapers, Stealth Shas’vre, etc. This not only reduces the Ld of the squad, but also reduces its combat power and also removes any special Wargear, such as MLs, that the squad leader might be carrying.

(5) Battlesuit Team Nemesis — While the Vindicare’s single shot per turn is not enough to threaten entire Battlesuit teams of Crisis, Broadside, Stealth, Riptide, Ghostkeel, etc., there is a way to make him an exceptional threat to these Tau units: Emplaced Gun Turrets! Having the Vindicare man the Krakstorm Missile Launcher on a Fortress of Redemption, the Plasma Obliterator fortification, or the Macro-Cannon on an Aquila Strongpoint turns any of these weapons into a BS8, Cover-Ignoring, Look Out Sir! reducing super Gun Emplacement that can literally destroy entire Battlesuit Teams every single shooting phase. This is not cheap points-wise, but if you build the rest of your army correctly, it can produce devastating results against a Tau army.

(6) Force “De-Multiplier” — While in most cases killing a single model will not be game-changer, sometimes the Vindicare’s ability to surgically remove a key unit can make all the difference. For example, if a Ghostkeel team is down to a single Stealth Drone, it still has an automatic 2+ Cover Save against any shooting greater than 12″ away. However, if the Vindicare picks off that last Drone, then the entire Ghostkeel Team is reduced to a 5+ Cover save, which obviously is a massive difference in its survivability. Similarly, if that Riptide is on its last wound, but has powered up its Nova Reactor for a 2+/3++ defensive posture and has Early Warning Override/Ion Accelerator and is about to Intercept your Drop Podding Centurions next turn, then the Vindicare can use its Shield Breaker Rounds and BS8 to Ignore the Riptide’s Armor, Invul, and any Cover saves and remove that final wound, thus saving your Centurions from eating a S8 AP2 Pie Plate when they arrive from Reserve. Finally, if a Stealth Team Shas’vre is about to bring in an entire Retaliation Cadre Turn 2 with no scatter using a Homing Beacon, you can “plink” that model (and his Homing Beacon) with a Hellfire Round (AP2, Ignore Cover, 2+ to Wound), thus making the arrival of the Tau Formation much less precise (and much more risky).

(7) Marker Light Suppressor — As mentioned, Marker Lights are key to a competitive Tau army. Thus, removing them can be the key to unhinging the Tau battle plan. Whether working solo with his Turbo-Penetrator Rounds, or manning an Emplaced Turret as described above, the Vindicare can potentially kill multiple MLs a turn, even if they are in cover and/or have some models “tanking” for them (the Vindicare can ignore the “tanking” model and shoot the ML models because with his ability to always have Precision Shots). Even if the Vindicare only kills 2-3 ML bearing models a turn, over the course of a game this will quickly add up and, say by turn 3-4, the Tau Army as a whole will have measurably less combat power.

 

 

Imperial Assassins and neutralizing the Craftworld Eldar Jetbikes…

Another upcoming Craftworld Eldar unit that us getting lots of attention as “overpowered” is the Windrider Jetbike squadron upgraded with Scatter Lasers (every model can choose this upgrade).

Throw in a Warlock “squad leader” upgrade, which can give the squadron Shrouded or other Runes of Battle powers, and an attached a Divination Jetbike Farseer (for Prescience, ignore cover, all attacks becoming Rending, etc. etc.) and you have the makings of a cheap, robust, highly mobile, hard-hitting unit that makes the already top-level Eldar even more competitive.

This of course begs the question, how do you cost-effectively counter the new Windrider Jetbikes? There are several different solutions, but for any Imperium army, the option to take Imperial Assassins provides a versatile tool in combating this Xenos threat:

-Vindicare – With the ability to ignore armor, cover, and Invul saves with his Shieldbreaker rounds, not to mention his top level BS, the Vindicare is ideal at taking out Warlock squad leaders… this not only removes a 50+ point model, but removes Leadership, supporting Psychic powers, and the ability to make their Jink save into a 2+ cover save (which is key for them holding onto Objectives). Alternately, you could use him to finish off the last wound on a Jetbike Farseer, again debuffing the unit significantly. Finally, you can use the Vindicare and Hellfire rounds to strip one Jetbiker a turn, if all else fails.

-Culexus – With great survivability against shooting, multiple S5 AP2 shots at BS8, and dangerous close combat abilities, not to mention Infiltrate, the Culexus can get in close, shoot, and even charge Windrider Jetbikes and take them out of the game early on. As mentioned, he also wreaks absolutely havoc on Psykers, so he can strip the Windriders of any psychic buffs and effectively snipe out their Warlock/Farseer. Better yet, he can (and likely will) absorb lots of the shooting attention from the Jetbikes, preventing them from focusing on the rest of your army.

-Callidus – With only Snapshots at her the turn she arrives or Turn 1, she is survivable like the Culexus (at least early on) and her ability to position exactly where she wants to be means her Neural Shredder (SX AP2 template that always wounds on a 4+) makes her ideal for roasting down half a squad of Windriders turn 1 and, if she survives, Neural Shredding them again turn 2 followed by a charge with 6 x S6 AP2 attacks with her C’tan blade, giving her the potential for neutralizing or even destroying multiple Windrider squads a game.

-Eversor – The most maligned of the Assassins, the Eversor is the ideal counter to Windrider Jetbikes…. With 8 x S5 AP3 attacks on the charge and (if he starts in an Assault Vehicle like a Land Raider) a potential 30” charge range turn 1, he can potentially get into combat turn 1 and, between winning combat/Sweeping Advance (assassins have better Initiative than Eldar even), carve a path through multiple Windrider squads over the course of a game. Throw in his multiple BS8 pistols shots a turn and his MBs (to threaten any nearby Eldar vehicles and you have a unit that is ideally equipped to disrupt the synergy of Eldar Jetbike heavy armies.

Put all these assassins together (if you take the Assassin detachment) and you can potentially “defang” a Saim-Hann battle-group from the get-go and provide your Imperium army the ability to deal with the rest of his force effectively.

Assassins and Killing the Necron Phalanx

With the changes to Reanimation Protocals, Necron Warriors (especially in blocks of 20 models) are exceptionally durable and difficult to take down. Throw in a few Ghost Arks to regenerate additional models and a Cryptek for a 5++ save against shooting and 4+ rolls on Reanimation Protocals and many armies will struggle to deal with large Warrior Phalanxes over the course of a game.

For Imperium players, one potential solution is the use of Assassins, with each of the four different types playing a different potential role in defeating the hordes of metal space zombies:

1 – Vindicare — With the ability to choose his target (and to reduce enemy LoS! rolls for ICs to a 4+), the Vindicare can use his specialized ammo to potentially “one shot” any Crypteks attached to the phalanx, taking away both a potentiall 5++ save and reducing the formation’s Reanimation Protocals back to a 5+.

2 – Callidus — Being able to pop up right next to the formation with no scatter (or even infiltrate right next to it) and then hit it with a strong template weapon turn 1 can significantly weaken it. Additionally, since the Necrons can only snap shot at her the first turn she arrives, the Callidus has solid chance of surviving until the next turn and charging in, where she can wreak havoc in close combat.

3 – Eversor — Potentially the best option, this one man wrecking crew was made to take down Necron Warriors. With a 3D6 charge range, if you start him in an assauslt vehicel, the Eversor has the ability to get off a Turn 1 charge against the Necron phalanx, basically negating their powerful shooting and either tying them up or downright destroying them in the assault phase. On the charge he has 8 attacks at S5 AP3, all at WS8, meaning he can cause multiple casualties and very likely recieve little to no damage in return from the Necron Warriors. This in turn, coupled with his high initiative, means he can quite possible charge the phalanx, win combat, and sweep the entire formation before Turn 1 is even over, completing taking them out before the game even gets going.

4 – Culexus — An awesome unit, but since almost all of his abilities are best used against Psykers (and Necrons have none), he is probably least useful against a full phalanx. That said, his Etherium means it is very difficult to shoot down and he is surprisingly good in close combat, even against non-Psykers, so he could potentially tie up a phalanx in combat for many turns, thus keeping them from shooting, claiming objectives, or other important actions.