Tactical Debrief: Ravenwing, Raptors, and the Archangels Orbital Intervention Force

I recently played a game with a new 2000 point army list that I have wanted to try out for a while.

Specifically, the list looked like this:

—RAVENWING STRIKE FORCE—

*Interrogator-Chaplain with Bike, Mace of Redemption (Relic)

*10  x RW Black Knights

*RS Land Speeder with TML and HB

 

—RAPTOR COMBINED ARMS DETACHMENT—

*Lias Issodon (WARLORD)

*Chapter Master with Bike, AA, SS, TH, Shield Eternal (Relic)

*5 x Bikes with 2 Grav Guns, Combi-Grav on Sgt

*5 x Bikes with 2 Grav Guns, Combi-Grav on Sgt

 

—ARCHANGEL ORBITAL INTERVENTION FORCE—

*5 x Assault Terminators (3 x TH/SS, 2 x Dual LC)

*5 x Assault Terminators (2 x TH/SS, 3 x Dual LC)

*5 x Assault Terminators (2 x TH/SS, 3 x Dual LC)

 

I was playing against a Death Guard Traitor Legion force, using their “Nurgle-specific” Decurion (i.e. the Death Guard Vectorium), which had lots of Plague Marines and CSM, plus a unit of Bikes, a squad of Havocs, a squad of Terminators, a Helbrute, and a Spawn (my opponent used the Chaos Warband and the Plague Colony as his two Core choices and the Spawn took up the mandatory Auxiliary choice).

As you already know, all Nurgle forces get +1T (from their Mark), FNP, Fearless, and Relentless as their “Legion Tactics” (but at the cost of -1I penalty to all units too). Additionally, the Death Guard Vectorium allowed them to re-roll FNP rolls of 1 and to gain Stealth against any shooting attacks 18″ away or greater. Finally, the Plague Colony has a 7″ aura of -1WS/-1I to all enemy units (he did not have the max number of units, so he did not get the -1T debuff, which would have been quite brutal). Taken all together, even though I think he was lacking in offensive hitting power (i.e. from Chosen, Obliterators, more Havocs, Heldrakes, etc.), my opponent’s list was VERY durable and ended up shrugging off significant amounts of damage from my army.

In term of my list/strategy, I attached Lias Issodon, the Biker I-C, and the Biker Chapter Master to the Black Knights and infiltrated the entire unit after he deployed, using Issodon’s WL Trait (we were playing The Relic and he had won deploy first/go first roll). I also placed the RW Land Speeder in LOS blocking cover in my DZ (since he has going first) and kept the two Bike squads and the Archangel OIF in reserve.

Looking at each of my units/battle groups, here is how they performed:

[1] Black Knights(Grade: A)/Issodon(Grade: A)/Biker I-C(Grade: A-)/Biker Chapter Master (Grade: B) —

My “deathstar” unit, but one that did not depend on any Psychic Powers to function. I had Infiltrate, Scout, Hit and Run, and Zealot on the unit via the various members and their rules. More importantly, I had a 2+ cover save on all the Bikers (Jink + Shrouded from Issodon), which was re-rollable due to the Ravenwing special rule (well, for all the Dark Angels, but not for the Raptors). Overall, this unit performed quite well, with solid shooting, close combat, and, most of all, DURABILITY… it absorbed all kinds of enemy shooting with no casualties and was able to move to the center of the board, pick up the Relic, and then eventually win combat with a bunch of Nurgle Marines (though I did lose the Chapter Master to his Nurgle Lord in a challenge)… once they won combat, I had Issodon take the Relic and start moving back to my DZ while the surviving Bikers shot/charged more of his remaining units. In the future, I would definitely take them again in conjunction with Issodon, but perhaps take only 5 in a Command Squad (Apothecary for FNP makes them even more difficult to shift) and trade out the Biker Chapter Master for something else. Finally, they also did a great job of “vectoring” in the Archangel OIF for no scatter DS (and charge) on Turn 2, using their Teleporter Homers.

[2] RW Land Speeder (Grade: A-) —

A very solid unit that jumped around all game and provided solid supporting fire with its two missile and 3 HB shots a turn. If there had been Objectives, I think it would have been even more useful, given that it has a 30″ displacement range (i.e. 12″ Move + 18″ Flat Out) each turn, but overall, I would consider taking it again.

[3] Grav Biker Squads (Grade: A-) —

These squads performed quite well also, coming out of Reserve and using their Relentless Grav to destroy his T6/FNP Nurgle Bikers and, in subsequent turns, shoot/charge other Chaos squads (though they were not too spectacular in close combat, especially against T5/FNP Nurgle troops, who were difficult foes for even my Terminators). These were my only ObSec units in the army and, given their relative speed, would have played an even more vital role if we were in a Maelstrom or Objectives focused game.

[4] Archangel OIF Assault Terminators (Grade: B-) —

These guys all came in on turn 2 and used the Black Knight Teleporter Homers to land with no scatter and then charge multiple Nurgle squads that were moving toward the Relic in the center of the table. Two squads charged his Terminators (who had themselves just arrived) and wiped them out in a single turn and the third squad multi-charged two Plague Marine/CSM squads (they had to conduct a Disordered charge anyway). Over the course of the game, I think I lost almost all (if not all) of my Terminators to combat with the Nurgle forces, in part because they had limited attacks on the charge, in part due to their durability with T5/FNP, and in part due to the Plague Colony debuff which made all my Terminators WS3/I3, which allowed his forces to strike simultaneously and to hit on 3+s (versus my hitting on 4+s). While the Assault Terminators did their job by destroying his Terminators and tying up several units, overall they were not as effective as I imagined they would be… I really think they need to “force-multiplied” somehow to maximize their useful in a competitive game…. I have been pondering this and I think I might try and swap them out for a Shadowstrike Kill Team with JP Vanguard, which can still use Issodon’s Locator Beacon for no scatter and do not suffer the drawbacks of a Disordered Charge when they assault from Reserve.

 

Overall, it was a good game with a very nice opponent and I learned a lot about what works (and what doesn’t work) with this new army list.

 

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.).

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.

Lias Issodon and the Deathwatch

I still consider Lias Issodon one of the best Independent Characters in 40K, in particular due to the versatility of his special rules and wargear, and I think he pairs up especially well with the Deathwatch faction, which right now is struggling in the competitive meta due to its extreme “glass cannon” nature.

In particular, here are some things about Lias Issodon that mesh well with a Deathwatch force:

[1] “Master of Ambush” Warlord Trait — Being able to GUARANTEE infiltrating himself and three other non-vehicle units is a very big deal for Deathwatch, not only because they have limited mobility options and they cost a lot for even their base units (meaning it can be prohibitive to purchase lots of transports for them), but also because it allows them to maximize their close ranged shooting and assault abilities, which really are the Deathwatch’s main strengths. Lias Issodon allows you to potentially put up to three Kill Teams with max Frag Cannons, or three units of Terminators with max Assault Cannons, or three units of Combi-Grav Veterans, 18″ away from their target before the game even begins. Turn 1, you either move the units up 6″ (i.e. for Frag Cannons, Heavy Flamers, etc) or stay still and unleash full powered Grav Gun Salvos, thus maximizing your “alpha strike.” Significantly, if one of these units has a DW Independent Character in it (like an Aquila Kill Team with a Librarian), then you can equip him with the Beacon Angelis Relic and “summon” a fourth DW unit in close to concentrate your close ranged firepower even better turn 1.

[2] Shrouded USR and Locator Beacon — Since Issodon has Shrouded in his special rules, he confers it to any squad he joins. This means that he can attach to an allied Deathwatch unit and give it a 3+ cover save in even basic terrain (Note: this will make him lose his Chapter Tactics and the squad he is attached to lose its Mission Tactics, so there is a drawback to this). This obviously works well for a “fire base” unit like a squad of Veterans with Stalker Boltguns camping back in your DZ. Alternately, if you Infilitrate him along with a DW Biker squad, then even in the open they will get a 2++ Jink save (i.e. 4++ save from Jink + Shrouded), helping them survive until they can charge in on Turn 2 with their cheap PWs. Finally, since Lias Issodon has a Locator Beacon as part of his Wargear, he gives a DW army the ability to have two separate units for bringing in Drop Pods, Terminators, Jump Infantry, Kill Teams, etc. with no scatter (i.e. Lias Issodon can bring in one and a DW character with the Beacon Angelis can bring in another), thus increasing the flexibility and precision of a Deathwatch force, which is critical for them, given their low numbers and lack of durability.

[3] “Cunning Strategist” and “Infiltrate, Isolate, and Destroy” rules — The “Cunning Strategist” rule basically gives your forces free Reserve re-rolls and causes enemy Reserve rolls to have a -1 modifier, in turn giving you better control of your reinforcements and improving your chances of out-massing your opponent at the critical time and place on the battlefield, even if he has a bigger overall army than you (which is almost guaranteed when playing Deathwatch). As for “Infiltrate, Isolate, and Destroy,” this gives you small bonus chance to sabotage/weaken an enemy unit or vehicle before the game begins. While it is not necessarily a game changer, I once got lucky with this rule and “Haywired” to death a Necron Triarch Stalker before the game even began, which meant that my opponent did not get to boost the BS of his surrounding Necron forces the entire game, helping my cause significantly.

[4] Allied Support — Of course, you can only include Lias Issodon with a Deathwatch army by taking him in a Space Marine CAD or Allied Detachment alongside the main DW force. While this can reduce it the points you have to spend on DW units, it also opens up the possibility of bringing some very solid reinforcing units that synergize quite well with the enforcers of the Ordos Xenos. Examples include Space Marine Scouts in Land Speeder Storms (great as cheap Objective Seizers and harassment forces to take the pressure off your main DW squads), Drop Pod Centurions with Grav Cannons (to provide heavy ranged fire support against TEQs, MCs, etc.), Quad Mortar batteries (for a versatile, long-ranged fire base to mitigate enemy hordes and even deal with light vehicles), Ironclad and Siege Dreadnoughts (to soak up enemy attention, provide good close combat punch, and serve as a “shield” for nearby DW squads), and Bike equipped Chapter Masters/Chaplains/Librarians (to lead the mobile DW Vanguard and Bike squads, since currently no DW characters can take Space Marine Bikes and only a Watch Captain can take a Jump Pack).

 

Overall, while Lias Issodon is an excellent addition to any Imperium army, I think he combines particularly well with the forces of the Deathwatch and really bumps them up from “struggling” to at least the “moderately competitive” level in terms of competing with other armies, especially if you flesh it out with some of the supplemental Space Marine units noted above. Since they are all Astartes, from a fluff and painting perspective, you can easily represent Lias and his Space Marines as “counts as” Deathwatch in order to not break up the flow and visual presentation of a pure Deathwatch army.

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.

Grey Knights and Allied Skyhammer

One of the combinations I have used in the past, to good effect, is allying a Grey Knight Nemesis Strike Force with the infamous Skyhammer Annihilation Force formation from the Space Marines faction (usually I go Ultramarines with this, for the “free” rerolls via the UM Chapter Tactics). Generally, I found that these two elements synergize quite well, especially if the GKs use the Nemesis Strike Force, which combines quite well with the Skyhammer Annihilation Force’s ability to choose what turn it will arrive on.

Here is the “foundation” of the list I used:

—Nemesis Strike Force—

[1] GK Librarian with PML(3)

[2] 5 man GK Terminator squad (with one Daemonhammer and one Psycannon)

[3] 2 x Nemesis Dreadknight (both with PT, Heavy Psycannon, Heavy Incinerator, and Daemonhammer)

 

—Ultramarines Skyhammer Annihilation Force—

[1] 2 x 10 man Devastator squads (both with Drop Pods and 4 Grav Cannons each)

[2] 2 x 5 man Assault squads (no upgrades)

 

The idea with these two lists is to maximize the Alpha Strike potential, especially with the potential for all units to come in from Reserve Turn 1 (or in the case of the Dreadknights, more often than not, start the game on the table and shunt 30″ upfield on Turn 1 to provide threat overload alongside the arriving Skyhammer units.

In terms of synergy, the Grey Knights bring the following to the army:

[1] Psychic Powers/Dice — Even this small force generates 6 WCs a turn and, between the automatic powers on the Terminators/Dreadknights and the wide-range of powers to choose from on the PML(3) Librarian, you can have tools to deal with any situation. You can even buff the Skyhammer units with power such as Prescience, Invisibility, and Phase Form, or alternately you can “debuff” the enemy with powers like Misfortune, Null Zone, and Subvert Machine.

[2] Anti-horde shooting — With Psycannons, Heavy Psycannons, Heavy Incinerators, and Storm Bolters, plus strong close combat abilities across the board, the Grey Knight half of this force can deal with hordes of light infantry that the Grav-heavy Skyhammer units might otherwise struggle against.

[3] Close Combat Power — The Librarian and Terminators hit solidly in the Assault phase by themselves, especially with guaranteed access to Hammerhand and Force Weapons, but the real threat here is the two Nemesis Dreadknights, who on the charge can generate 10 x S10 AP2 Force weapon attacks at I4 and WS5. Combine this with their superior mobility (from the Personal Teleporters) and strong durability (4W T6 protected by 2+/5++, which can bump up to a 4++ with successful casting of Sanctuary) and you have a close combat threat that can handle even the toughest units in the game, which is a strong compliment to the Grav shooting prowess of the Skyhammer Devastators.

As for the Ultramarine Skyhammer units, they bring to the army the following:

[1] Massed Grav-Shooting — With 40 Grav Shots a turn (including coming out of their Drop Pods, since they are Relentless), with re-rolls to Hit from Devastator Doctrine, and re-rolls to Wound/to Penetrate due to Grav Amps, all of which can be targeted at up to four different units a turn (thanks to Combat Squads), the Skyhammer Annihilation Force provides a threat that can be devastating to medium/heavy infantry, Monstrous Creatures, and even vehicles all game long.

[2] Mobile Skirmishers/Objective Grabbers — The two “bare bones” ASM squads have the ability to charge the same turn they arrive, making them an excellent “bully” unit for tying up enemy shooty unit or even a “sacrificial lamb” unit to assault powerful enemy combatants that you need to occupy for a turn or two while the rest of your Devastators and Grey Knights do their work. Additionally, with their inherent mobility, you can use the ASM to grab far-flung objectives all game long.

[3] Synergy Enhancers — You can also use the special rules of the Skyhammer formation to effectively “suppress” enemy units before they are charged simply by shooting at them; either they are forced to Go to Ground if they fail a 3D6 leadership check or, if they pass it, then they still cannot fire overwatch, making even Bolter armed Devastator Combat Squads quite solid at neutralizing key enemy units for a turn. Additionally, the ASM can be used as cheap skirmisher type units, screening other elements of your force from enemy assault and/or harassing your opponent’s plans with their maneuvering.

As you can see, the Skyhammer Annihilation Force is already a potent formation (one of the best in the game), but combined with these elements of a Nemesis Strike Force, they can make for quite a competitive Imperial “task force.”