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.

Sisters of Silence Deployment Tactics

Well, just like Custodes, Sisters of Silence now have a formation that allows players to field them without going the Unbound route. Sisters of Silence have the following stat line:

WS4 BS4 S3 T3 I5 A2 Ld 10 Sv3+ (15 points cost per model, +10 points for Sister Superior)

Additionally, they are Fearless, cause Fear, and have “Bane of Psykers” (get Precision Shots and Precision Hits and may re-roll at to Hit rolls against any enemy units that contain at least one model with Psyker/Brotherhood of Psyker/Psychic Pilot rules) and, more importantly, Psychic Abomination, which is basically the same as the Culexus Assassin’s special rule (i.e. ALL Psykers, friend or foe, within 12″ have -3Ld, do not generate any Warp Charges, and can only harness Warp Charges on a 6+; also, units with this rule can never be affected by any kind of Psychic Power, good or bad, and ANY blessings or maledictions that are “active” within 12″ of a model with this rule are immediately cancelled).

In terms of Wargear, Sisters of Silence come stock with Bolters, CCWs, and Psykout grenades, but can trade out their Bolters for Executioner Greatblades (S: +1 AP2, Two-handed) for free or for Flamers (+2 points per model), giving them solid options for both close range shooting and combat.Obviously, their real value is their ability to shut down enemy psykers (and the Deathstars dependent on them) for a very economical points cost.

Aside from their fragility (T3, 3+ armor saves means they are pretty much like Aspect Warriors), Sisters of Silence’ greatest weakness is mobility, since they lack any form of special deployment like Deep Strike, Infiltration, Scout, etc. and also do not have any inherent access to any dedicated transports.

Out the gate, here are a few ideas on how to get Sisters of Silence “into the mix” and close up to the enemy where they can effectively employ their Flamers, I5 S4 AP2 Greatblades, and/or anti-Psyker abilities:

[1] Lias Issodon — Taking him as your Warlord gives you the guaranteed ability to Infiltrate himself and three friendly units… this obviously works amazing with Sisters of Silence, getting them at least within 18″ of the enemy (as close as 12″ away, if they can find LOS blocking terrain)… on Turn 1, the Sisters move up 6″, then run another D6″, basically guaranteeing that you are within 12″ of a selected enemy unit (or units) and cancel any Blessings cast on it (we are thinking Deathstars here, especially ones that rely on durability buffing spells like Invisibility, Endurance, Warpmetal Armor, Veil of Time, etc.)

[2] Allied Stormraven (with Locator Beacon) and Skyshield Landing Pad — The Sisters cannot start the game in the Stormraven, but they can mount up turn 1 and the flyer can then “dash” forward turn 1, using Jink to help keep it alive. Turn 2, the Stormraven can switch to Zooming mode, making it able to get almost anywhere on the board, and then use Skies of Fury and the Locator Beacon to basically “precision drop” the Sisters of Silence wherever you need them, whether to unleash mass flamer templates on tightly packed enemy infantry or to neutralize enemy Psychic capabilities.

[3] Allied Land Raider Spearhead formation — If you want to go the expensive route (and equip the Sisters for close combat via Executioner Greatblades), then you can use this formation to get three Land Raider transports (which ignore all vehicle damage table results except for Explodes if they are within 6″ of each other) that can safely an entire three squad Null-Maiden Task Force to the front safely. Not only can they get the Sisters of Silence in range to pop out and unleash multiple anti-psykers “bubbles,” but since they are Assault Vehicles the Sisters can also charge in the same turn, putting their 3 x S4 AP2 I5 attacks per model to good use (this should wreck almost any MEQ squad, especially with the Sisters of Silence’s high initiative, but can also be great against 2+ saves enemies that strike at lower initiative, such as Devastator/Assault Centurions, Terminators, Mega Armored Nobz, Broadside Battlesuits, etc.). As with the Stormraven tactic described above, the Sisters have to start the game outside the Land Raiders, but can jump in turn 1, then have their transports move up 12″ + 6″ from Flat Out to get into position quickly.

[4] Allied Fortification with Escape Hatch — As I have discussed a number of times in previous articles, the Escape Hatch trick is a relatively secure (and cheap, points-wise) method to get a friendly foot-slogging unit between 19-24″ across the board turn 1 (i.e. Escape Hatch is deployed 12″ toward the enemy DZ before the game begins, turn 1 the unit disembarks 6″ from it, then run another D6″). While this is not a foll-proof method, it can reliably “sling-shot” a squad of Sisters of Silence toward the enemy DZ and allow them to begin shutting down enemy Psychic abilities/powers as early as Turn 1, in turn making the rest of your army much more powerful against opponents that rely heavily on these abilities.


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).