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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 


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

Hunting Force allies to Grey Knights

Grey Knights make excellent allies for many armies and they themselves benefit significantly from allies of their own, especially given the somewhat “elite/specialized” nature of most GK units.

One formation that I think pairs up particularly well with a Grey Knights primary detachment is the Hunting Force from the White Scars Scarblade Strike Force. The Hunting Force requires all models to be mounted on Space Marine Bikes and consists of:

(1) Captain

(0-1) Chaplain

(0-1) Command Squad

(2-5) Bike Squads

(1-3) Attack Bike Squads

(1-3) Scout Bike Squads

In addition to these units, it gains two special rules:

**The Hunter’s Prey — Select a Primary (this must be an HQ unit), Secondary, and Tertiary target. Models from this formation re-roll all To Hits/To Wounds and gain Furious Charge when attacking the primary target, then if it is destroyed, gain the same benefit against the secondary target, and so on with the tertiary target.

**Thunderous Assault — Models from this formation inflict two Hammer of Wrath hits instead of one if their unit has five models or more.

While the special rules are quite nice, the mixture of unit types is what is especially beneficial to a GK army. Basically, the Hunting Force provides multiple capabilities that shore up weaknesses in the GK line-up:

(1) Mobility — With all units on bikes that can move 12″ + Turbo-boost, as well as Hit and Run  and use Skilled Rider due to White Scar Chapter Tactics (and gain Scout if Khan is your Captain), the Hunting Force provides multiple fast, relatively durable objective seizers that can supplement the slower (and generally more expensive) GK units. Their enhanced mobility also allows them to rapidly threaten an enemy flank or even support Interceptors and shunting NDKs with possible Turn 2 assaults.

(2) Anti-tank/Anti-MC firepower — With lots of potential access to Meltas/MMs and Grav weapons (i.e. Command Squads,  Bike Squads, Attack Bikes), not to mention potential re-rolls to Hit/to Woundfrom The Hunter’s Prey rule, this formation provides fast moving, reliable anti-tank that Grey Knights need due to their lack of melta weapons and expensive Lascannon options (i.e. Razorbacks, Stormravens, and Land Raiders are about the only place GKs can get access to these). Against MCs, Grey Knights have to rely on Psycannon Rending and getting into close combat normally, but the Hunting force provides access to fast moving units that can take melta, plasma, and especially relentless Graviton weapons. For example, a Command Squad with 5 Grav Guns that has “marked” an enemy Wraith Knight as one of its targets gets an average of 13-14 hits, 11-12 wounds, and 7-8 unsaved wounds after FNP rolls… i.e. the Wraith Knight is dead in a single volley.

(3) Deep Strike Enablers — Given that GKs rely heavily on the Nemesis Strike Formation and its ability to start bringing in units from Deep Strike Reserve turn 1, it is only logical that a GK force would benefit tremendously from access to 1-3 Scout Bikers Squads, which can Infiltrate and Scout before the game begins, then bring in ANY DSing Grey Knight unit with no scatter from turn 1 on.

(4) Mobile IC support — The Captain/Khan and Chaplain can choose to attach to GK squads, providing multiple different potential buffs, For example, the Chaplain could attach to an Interceptor squad, giving it Zealot and Hit and Run (remember, Grey Knights do not “negate” friendly Chapter Tactics like normal Space Marines do), massively improving the squads efficiency in close combat. Similarly, the Captain could take the Hunter’s Eye relic and attach himself to a “Gates of Infinity” squad of Draigo/Paladins… once the squad “bounces” (likely using Scout Bikers to bring them in with no danger of scattering), the Paladins can unleash a mass Psycannon volley that Ignores Cover thanks to the Hunter’s Eye.

(5) Mobile Close Combat Capability — While this is mainly limited to the Captain (with relics like the Blade of Vengeance or even the Burning Blade), the Chaplain, and the Command Squad decked out with PWs/SSs and the Banner of the Eagle (for Fleet and Furious Charge), this still provides an invaluable rapid moving “counter-assault” unit to support the GK squads once they deep strike in. Also, don’t forget that even lowly Scout Biker squads with 5 models that are part of the Hunting Force and a Scarblade Strike Force have the potential to get 10 x S5 AP- (Shred) Hammer of Wrath attacks on the charge, plus their normal 10 x S4 AP- close combat attacks, which is more than enough to beat up on non-dedicated Assault units in the enemy army. Hit and Run means that these unit can “rinse and repeat” as required.

In summary, for all of these reasons, the White Scar Hunting Force is an excellent counterpart to any GK army, particularly one built around a traditional Nemesis Strike Force.

Scarblade Strike Force, 1st Company Task Force, and the Land Raider Spearhead

If you are looking for a Space Marine army that can rapidly and reliably put close combat units in the enemy’s face, then a solid option is to take a White Scars “Scarblade Strike Force” detachment that includes the following:

-Battle Demi-Company (TDA Chaplain, 3 x Tacs with Grav Cannon, ASM with double Flamers, Devastators with quad Grav Cannons, all in Drop Pods)

-1st Company Task Force (3 x TH/SS Assault Terminator squads)

-Land Raider Spearhead (3 x LR Crusaders with MMs)

Three of the Tacs/ASM/Devs  arrive by Drop Pod Assault, filling the enemy DZ with targets and firepower Turn 1. Simultaneously, TDA Chaplain and Assault Terminators ride in the LR Crusaders and move up as fast as possible… that translates into a 12″ move, 6″ Flat Out, and another D6″ Flat Out because of the Scarblade Strike Force “Ride the Wind” special rule (so a total of 19-24″ move across the board toward the enemy DZ).

Additionally, as long as the LR Crusaders stay within 6″ of each other, they ignore all Shaken, Stunned, Weapons Destroyed, and Immobilized  results due to their “Armoured Behemoth” special rule. This, combined with their extra movement, all but ensures that they will get across “No Man’s Land” safely and in good shape to deliver their Assault Terminators into combat Turn 2. Once the Terminators do get into assault, they benefit from Fear, Fearless, -2Ld to enemy units within 12″ of all three squads, and Preferred Enemy against a selected enemy unit (chosen before the game begins). They also have Hit and Run at I4 (re-rollable, due to Scarblade Strike Force rules), which makes them even more potent and flexible in combat.

Even the mightiest Tau gun-line and the most elusive Eldar Jetbike Host will have trouble stopping a force like this, due to its enhanced mobility and survivability, not to mention the raw power it packs once the Assault Terminators actually get into combat.

Stormseers and the Black Tide (Death Company style)

Looking at Kor’Sarro Khan’s “Master of the Hunt” special rule, it specifies that, as long as he your Warlord, ALL friendly White Scars models that have the Biker unit type have the Scout USR.

This means that White Scar Independent Characters, as long as they are equipped with a Space Marine Bike, have the Scout USR. In turn, this means they they convey Scout to any unit they are joined to in deployment, per the wording of the Scout rule.

One way to capitalize on this ability is as follows:

1 – Take Khan with Moondraaken as your Warlord (either in a CAD or GSF)

2 – Take a White Scar Librarius Conclave made up of (3) Librarians (Stormseers, in White Scar lore), all equipped with SMBs and using the Divination Discipline.

3 – Take an allied Blood Angel Baal Strike Force with (4) full squads of 15 Death Company each, all equipped with Jump Packs and PWs/PFs “to taste.”

Now, attach Khan and each of the three WS Stormseers to a separate Death Company squad. Prior to turn 1, use the Scout move to have all four Death Compay squads get a free 12″ move toward the enemy battle-line. Turn 1, move another 12″ and run a further D6″.

At this point, your horde of 60 superhuman, blood-thirsty (literally), raging, Jump Pack-wearing Death Company maniacs should be on top of pretty much any enemy unit they are targeting, even sneaky Eldar Jetbikes. Turn 2, move another 6″, then charge (with re-rolls for distance from Jump Packs) and rip apart the enemy lines with your 300!!! S5 I5 attacks on the charge (plus all Hammer of Wrath attacks)

To make this combo even more potent, the White Scar Librarians can cast Prescience on their units for Re-rolls to Hit. Khan and the Librarians also add some power weapon attacks into the mix and can, if necessary, break off and charge separate units if the tactical situation calls for tying up as many enemy units as possible.

Overall, this is a very specialized, assault-focused build, but for those looking for a fun, competitive, and unique list built around massed Death Company, I think this battle group could be a decent option.

White Scars, Khan, and massed Graviton weapons…

Since White Scar armies with Kor’sarro Khan as their Warlord still maintain the ability to Scout all Bike units and all units embarked on Rhinos/Razorbacks, that opens up some signfiicant possibilities for a first turn, Graviton weapon “Alpha Strike:”

1 – Take the Gladius Strike Force with a Full Battle Company as follows —

a) Khan on Bike and Chaplain

b) Command Squad with Bikes and 4 Grav Guns and Apothecary

c) 6 Tac Squads with Free Rhinos and Grav Cannon

d) 2 Bike Squads with Dual Grav Guns

e) 2 Devastator Squads with Free Rhinos and 2 Grav Cannons each

2 – So, altogether, that gives you 3 Bike squads with 24 Graviton shots a turn, plus Scout to get within range turn 1. You also have 6 Tactical Squads that can Scout in their Rhinos and then let loose with 48 Graviton shots total, as well as 2 Devastator squads that can Scout in their Rhinos and put out 20 Graviton shots a turn. Total, that is 92 Graviton shots from Scouting units turn 1!

3 – Since you have so much anti-vehicle/heavy anti-infantry shooting, about the only thing missing is anti-horde capability and anti-flyer capability. To deal with this, you can supplement this force with a Storm Wing formation (i.e. Stormraven and 2 Stormtalons), kitted out with Typhoon Missile Launchers and TLed Assault Cannons (Stormtalons) and TLed Lascanon/TLed Multimelta (Stormraven). This should provide a very versatile options for dealing with enemy armor, massed infantry, and flyers/FMCs, providing the ground elements with all the support they require.