Castellans of the Imperium: Fielding a Competitive “Task Force”

So, I have been wracking my brains for a while to try and come up with a competitive, effective combination of units from the recent Castellans of the Imperium detachment to try out. In many ways, this detachment is kind of an embarrassment of riches, with so many options that it is hard to find a place to actually start. The ability to take 0-6 of the Elites/Fast Attack/Heavy Support from so many different factions, plus 4+ Troops, 2-4 HQs, and 0-3 Lords of War, provides a TON of different options. Finally, on top of all this, EVERYONE (even vehicles, like Dreadnoughts and Sentinels) get Hatred and your Troop units (again, according to my reading of the rules, this includes Dedicated Transport vehicles of Troops choices) get to “resurrect” on a 5+ and come back into the game on the next turn, which is pretty amazing!

After mulling over this a while, I decided that at the core of my “Castellans Task Force” would be three units:

[1] – Coteaz — A no brainer choice here, he provides so much value with  his re-rolls to Seize the Initiative, multi-use-per-turn “Interceptor” rule, and, of course, the ability to grant all non-vehicle models in his detachment Objective Secured (which is HUGE for this army). All of this plus a 2+ save, S6 AP2 Force weapon, and PML(2) for only 20 MBs is incredible value!

[2] — 5 woman Battle Sisters squads (with dual Meltas and MM Immolator DT) — This unit provides several benefits tot he army: first, it provides very solid anti-tank/anti-MC shooting with its multiple BS4 meltas and the TLed MMs on the Immolators; second, it gives you 8 small units that can “resurrect” on a 5+ if they are destroyed, which can be very important late game for taking back objectives (remember, because of Coteaz, the Sisters themselves are Objective Secured). Finally, it meets the minimum 4 Troop requirement without breaking the bank, leaving plenty of points for the rest of your army (four squads like this comes in at 560 points, which leaves you 1440 points left over in a 2000 point game, which is what I normally play).

[3] — 3 man White Scar Scout Biker squads (with Locator Beacon and Sgt with MB) — These squads provide so many functions, it is hard to capture them all. First, they can Infiltrate and Scout (or Outflank, if you need them to), getting them right where you want them before Turn 1 even begins. Second, they are Objective Secured (thanks again, Coteaz!), so they can use their 12″ move and 12″ Turbo-boost all game long to grab key objectives easily. Third, they have Skilled Rider (so 3++ Jink save and ignoring all Difficult/Dangerous Terrain tests) and Hit and Run (so jumping out of combat when needed. Fourth, with the MB and Hatred, they can be quite a sneaky good little Tank Hunter unit. Finally, with their Locator Beacon they can bring in ANY Deep Striking element (including Jump Pack units, Drop Pods, Gates of Infinity units, etc.) with no scatter, which can make a tremendous difference in the overall game (more on this later).

Alright, if I tally up the Army List so far, with 4 x Battle Sisters squads, 2 x White Scar Scout Biker squads, and Coteaz that is a total of 800 points, leaving us with 1200 left to play with. Now, we need at least one more HQ to meet the minimum Castellans of the Imperium requirements. We also need so hard-hitting ranged firepower against both hordes and heavy infantry/MCs, and I would like to work in a solid close combat element as well. Finally, to truly be a balanced TAC list, we need some form of anti-Flyer/Anti-FMC as well.

Looking at all this, I think another very potent (and perhaps under-appreciated) unit is the Wyvern Battery. For only 13 MBs, you get an artillery tank with AV12/10/10 that puts out 4 x TLed S4 AP6 Ignore Cover, Shred, Barrage, Small Blast shots a turn at 48″. This is obviously exceptionally against any kind of light infantry and can even force lots of wounds on MEQs if required (because it Ignore Cover, the Wyvern can be a great insurance policy against units that rely on strong cover saves, like Ravenwing Bikers, as well). Normally, a battery of  Wyverns takes up one of the three valuable Heavy Support slots, but in this case you have 0-6 Heavy Support choices, so you can take multiple “solo” Wyverns and still have plenty of Heavy Support choices remaining. Let’s take three Wyverns (each in a single vehicle battery), which costs a total of 195 points, leaving us with 1005 points left for the army.

Next, we need something to deal with those omni-present Wraithlords, Stormsurges, Dreadknights, Daemon Princes, etc. Of course, the best answer is Grav Cannons, especially Relentless ones coming off a Drop Pod. A squad of Devastators with 4 Grav Cannons (who happen to be Objective Secured… thanks a third time, Coteaz!) riding in a Drop Pod ought to fit quite nicely here. The problem, of course, is that they are not Relentless, and would normally only get 12 Grav shots at 12″ when they came in… enter the Terminator Captain in Cataphractii Armor (who is our second mandatory HQ choice, by the way).

In addition to being a tremendous “tank” character with his 2+/4++ (and re-rolls of failed Invul saves of 1), he has Slow and Purposeful, which conveys to the entire squad he is attached to. This means they cannot Overwatch, Run, or conduct Sweeping Advances, but is ALSO means they shoot at full capacity with Heavy/Salvo weapons (like Relentless) after moving, which is obviously very good with Grav Cannon Devastators. So, take a 5 man Devastator Squad with 4 Grav Cannons and a Drop Pod (take the Isstvaan V Dropsite Massacre legacy of glory for no scatter Deep Strike), then attach the Cataphractii Captain (and give him a Relic Blade and the Hunter’s Eye Relic, for Ignore Cover goodness) and you have a unit that can drop in Turn 1 and unleash 20 Grav Cannon/Amp shots with Ignore Cover for a total of 420 points (this unit should statistically kill a Wraithknight in a single volley)… this leaves us with 595 points left to use, and still a need form some anti-Flyer and close combat capability in the unit.

In terms of Anti-Flyer, I think pound-for-pound the Stormhawk Interceptor is one of the best “all-rounders” in the game (assuming we are NOT using Death from the Skies supplement, as per the current ITC FAQ). For only 29 MBs, you get a Flyer with Av12/11/11 (so cannot be hurt by lucky Bolter shots, unlike the Stormtalon) and 2HPs that puts out 2 x S9 AP2 shots at 24″, 4 x TLed S6 AP4 Rending shots at 24″, and 2 x Krak or Frag Missiles at 48″ a turn. Taking one of these and you have some very solid anti-Flyer, anti-tank, anti-MC, and anti-horde ability all rolled into a pretty survivable platform, thanks to ground units only being able to Snapfire when shooting at them, so a very versatile option here. This leaves us with 450 points left to spend.

Finally, we need some close combat punch… while there are lots of options in the Castellans of the Imperium detachment, I think this is where we reach out to an allied formation, namely the Shadowstrike Kill Team formation from Angels of Death. You must include 2-4 Scouts and 1-3 Vanguard Veterans (must take Jump Pack upgrades), but in turn get the option to choose (rather than roll for) when your Vanguard come in from Reserve and also the ability to charge on the same turn they arrive by Deep Strike (if within 9″ of two Scout squads from this formation, they do no scatter).

So, based on that, I would take two squads of White Scar Sniper Scouts (for holding backfield Objectives and providing a bodyguard to Coteaz), which costs us 24 MBs, leaving 330 points. With those remaining points, I would then take a pair of White Scar Vanguard squads with, each with 5 models, two Storm Shields, a Power Maul, and two Power Fists, which is exactly 330 points on the nose. Being able to automatically charge out of Reserve on turn 2 (and use the Scout Biker Locator Beacons to prevent scattering) makes for a very solid melee counter-punch and gives lots of flexibility against a variety of armies (and Hit and Run gives them the ability to get out of combat and charge again, as required).

Taking all this together, you have the following for a 2000 point army:

CASTELLANS OF THE IMPERIUM

—HQ—

*Coteaz

*Cataphractii Terminator Captain

—TROOPS—

*5 model Battle Sisters with dual meltas and Immolator DT

*5 model Battle Sisters with dual meltas and Immolator DT

*5 model Battle Sisters with dual meltas and Immolator DT

*5 model Battle Sisters with dual meltas and Immolator DT

—FAST ATTACK—

*3 model Scout Bikers with Locator Beacon and MB

*3 model Scout Bikers with Locator Beacon and MB

*Stormhawk Interceptor with CML upgrade

—HEAVY SUPPORT—

*5 model Devastators with 4 Grav Cannons, Drop Pod (with Isstvaan V Dropsite Massacre legacy of glory upgrade)

*Wyvern

*Wyvern

*Wyvern

SHADOWSTRIKE KILL TEAM

*5 model Scout squad with Sniper Rifles

*5 model Scout squad with Sniper Rifles

*5 model Vanguard squad with JPs, 2 PFs, 2 Storm Shields, and a Power Maul

*5 model Vanguard squad with JPs, 2 PFs, 2 Storm Shields, and a Power Maul


Overall, I think this gives us a very versatile army that has answers for hordes, Flyers/FMCs, heavy infantry, vehicles, and Monstrous Creatures/GMCs, plus has solid assault abilities and lots of units for taking Objectives. Not a perfect list by any means, but a very flexible one that can genuinely take on almost any opponent with a fair chance of success, I believe.

Triumverate of the Imperium: Celestine, Teleporting Grey Knights, and the Deathpack

Here is an idea for a battle group that I have been playing around with a bit lately:

-Celestine (and her bodyguards of course)

-10 x GK Interceptor Squad (with 2 Psycannons and 2 Daemon Hammer)

-“Deathpack A” formation from the Space Wolves starter kit (Wolf Lord on TWC with Runic Armor, Thunder Hammer, Wolf Claw, Shroud of the Anti-Martyr Relic; 10 x Grey Hunter with Drop Pod, +1CCW, Power Axe, 2 MGs, WGPL with Combi-Melta and Wolf Claw, Wolf Banner; 4 x TWC, all with PF/SS)

-“Deathpack B” formation from the Space Wolves starter kit (Wolf Lord on TWC with Runic Armor, Blade of the Worthy Relic; 5 x Grey Hunter with Drop Pod, Flamer; 4 x TWC, all with PF/SS)

So, basically, the way this works is that Celestine and her bodyguards attach to the Interceptors and the two “Deathpack” TWC squads (each with their respective TWC Wolf Lords attached) set up on either side of her.

Turn 1, Celestine uses her ability to give the two TWC squads/TWC Lords Fleet and Crusader. Then, everyone (i.e. both TWC packs, Celestine/Interceptors) move up 12″ in the Movement Phase. Meanwhile, the large Grey Hunter squad (with the Wolf Banner) drops in and shoots up a target unit with their Meltas and sets up their Wolf Banner (more on this later).

In the Shooting Phase, the Interceptors can add their Psycannons and Stormbolters into the mix while Celestine shoots with her “one shot Battle Cannon” orbital barrage. Simultaneously, the two TWC squads run forward as well…. thanks to Crusader and Fleet, there is quite a solid chance of the getting a 5-6″ Run per squad (roll two dice and pick the highest, due to Crusader, and re-rolls of any dice, due to Fleet)… this should put the two TWC at 17-18″ across no man’s land (and about 6-7″ from the edge of the enemy DZ).

During the charge phase, the two TWC squads attempt to charge any enemy units deployed along the edge of the DZ (the “Deathpack” formation allows these units to charge after running), which means that they have to make an average of 6-7″ charge, with re-rolls thanks to Fleet (and no slowing due to Difficult Terrain, thanks to being Cavalry)… between the two squads, there is a very solid chance of one or both squads getting the charge off and laying down lots of S10 AP2 attacks… with proper positioning of the Grey Hunters and their Wolf Banner, you can give the one or both of these units +1A, making them even more deadly in close combat.

In subsequent turns, you can use Celestine to give the Wolf Lords (and their units) Zealot with her aura, plus you can have the Interceptors shoot or charge themselves (they can use Hammerhand to give themselves, Celestine, and her Gemini bodyguards +2S, which can make a major difference for the whole unit) and Celestine can give the entire squad Hit and Run. Alternately, you can “shunt” the Interceptors across the board to an Objective and have Celestine/the Gemini bodyguards attach to one of the TWC packs to add durability and attacks (and Hit and Run as well). Finally, the second Grey Hunter Pack can come in on its Drop Pod and grab an Objective and/or put down a Flamer template while the “original” Grey Hunter pack can continue to shoot or even charge into combat (between +1CCW and the Wolf Banner, each Grey Hunter gets 4A on the charge).

Finally, the TWC Lords use their respective Relics (Shroud of the Anti-Martyr for EW on one and Sword of the Worthy for +2S AP2 attacks at I5 for the other) “unlocked” by having Celestine to make them even more potent in combat and, along with their TWC escorts, able to continue to wreak havoc in enemy lines in subsequent turns.

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.).

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.

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.

 

 

Penitent Engines and the Steel Host

One of the stronger synergistic combinations using Astra Militarum and Sisters of Battle is as follows:

-Astra Militarum “Steel Host” Formation (Leman Russ Command Squadron, 3 x Leman Russ Squadrons, 1 x Hydra). Besides all the heavy armor this formation brings to the fight (which is critical when combining with a SoB force),  all models in this formation also gain Preferred Enemy as long as they are within 12″ of the Command Tank.

-Squadron of three Penitent Engines, costing just about the same price as a Land Raider total. They are fragile and take up a HS slot, but have outstanding damage output (6 x Heavy Flamer Templates followed by 18 x S10 AP2 attacks striking at Initiative 3 on the charge).

So, how do these two units work together? Well, in term survivability, the Steel Host Formation can be placed in front, using its AV14 and high threat value to absorb attention away from the Penitent Engines (who can also gain a cover save by staying obscured by the Leman Russes). Each turn the Steel Host moves up 6″ and pounds the enemy with formidable firepower (you have to take at least 5 Leman Russ variants, all of which can target different enemy units because of Tank Orders and they fact they are in different squadrons) while th Peninent Engines move up behind them. If an enemy unit moves up to assault the tanks (which is one of their primary weaknesses), then the Penitent Engines run forward and “counter-assault” the enemy close combat troops. With their tremendous strength against both hordes (i.e. 6 Heavy Flamer Templates, plus close combat attacks) and elite infantry (i.e. 18 x S10 AP2 attacks at initiative shoul dmake most TEQ shake in their boots), they can reliably protect the Leman Russes from close combat threats. Also, if the enemy does not pay attention to the Penitent Engines as the whole battle group advances, then eventually (i.e. by turn 3-4) they should be able to get into assault in the enemy DZ, since they are moving up 6″ every turn.

Either way, these two groups of units are quite good at mutually supporting one another and covering their respective weaknesses, thus forcing your opponent in to a dilemma on how to deal with them. Finally, you can flesh out this entire army with more SoB troops from a CAD and use the Steel Host formation’s mandatory Hydra to provide the SoB Primary Detachment with much needed anti-flyer/skimmer ability (e.g. put the Hydra on a Skyshield Landing Pad along with a pair of Exorcists to provide a durable, long-range fire support base for the entire army).