Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Comprehensive Sisters of Battle Review

Observations (somewhat revised):
1. I want to give special mention to a piece of wargear:  The Simulacrum Impirialis.  It is just a must for many units.  The Sisters of Battle can ill afford to be unreliable at their jobs.  Every unit needs to do it’s “thing”, a lot like Eldar, to be successful in this new codex incarnation.  Dominions in particular need them but other units like the Sororitas Command Squad also need it to function as well as possible.  With so few Acts of Faith to use at any given time, the added certainty is important.

2.  Battle Conclaves:  Thumbs up.  They give the army a melee punch that is very impressive and they are far more resilient than I imagined they would be.  I use a combination of 4 Assassins, 4 Arco-flaggelents and 2 Crusaders to fuel the madness of this unit.  It gives you the FNP uriah might have provided without needing him, the deadly speed of the Assassins in combat and the extra invulnerable throw away 3+ saves of the Crusaders on the approach.  Tough to kill and able to kill vehicles as well.

3.  Repentia Sisters:  Thumbs up.  Their ability to use Eviscerators even as they die to kill their hated foes has made this unit totally worth it.  You no longer need the large absorptive wound count you used to.  They are sturdy now with FnP and their 2 attacks instead of 1 is a totally necessary upgrade.  This is easily the most improved unit in the entire codex.

4.  Sororitas Command squads:  Thumbs up.  Much better than they look on paper with a Canoness leading them.  The ability to go Relentless with 3 Multimeltas will be popular and the unit has some staying power with the Sister Hospitallar in the unit.  Having this unit was almost like having yet another Dominion Squad because of it’s range and ability to be carried into “juice” range by the Immolator.  You'll notice comparisons to Dominions a lot here because ultimately they are the "game changing" unit of this codex, but you can emulate the utility of Dominions with other units as you will see.  Dominions still do it bets though.

5.  Exorcists are...Exorcists.  Unreliable but deadly.  Great for soaking fire singly or as an actual firing threat in two’s or threes.  Retributors will statistically kill Rhino’s and infantry better, but as the enemy becomes tougher, the Exorcist overtakes them.  The Exorcist range and mobility make it more immune to deployment tricks that allow armies to mitigate Retributor fire to some extent; and of course they just DO fire farther.  So a combination of the two seems a good idea.  Most NetListers are recommending three minimum sized units of Retributors and no Exorcists.  I personally would veer clear of that advice for reason too numerous and long winded to go into here.  But one or two Retributor Squads are certainly going to make it into winning lists.

6.  Penitent Engines are slower and more expensive than before.  What more do you need to know?  They gave them two flamers and that’s cool if they survive long enough to use them, and gave them a half-Blood Talon (basically) but that’s assuming they ever see melee.  Truly, the best use for them is as reserves where they have the best chance of impacting the battle.  If nothing else, enemies will think twice before getting too close to a long board edge until after it shows up.  If you rush them forth, they’ll need Rhino cover and frankly, I am really not sure if what you give up to do it is worth it.  Som use them to try and forestall charges on more valuable units.  That’s not meritless.  However that emasn they are out in the open and likely not to survive without staying back behind rhinos.   A catch-22 for sure.

7.  Celestians seem to be a "roadblock" unit and mayb better coices for the job than Penitent Engines.  They are JUST good enough to charge someone to stall them, and then break on the following turn to set up your shooting phase.  Probably don’t want to take them outside of a rhino nor in large numbers. They can also provide a low cost way to bring to bear 2 Melta’s and a Combi-melta.  They are only 10 points more expensive than Dominion Squads and do not get Scout, but are far more capable combatants.  So if you're wanting another Dominion type Squad but want to use the slots for Seraphim, this could be a viable alternative.  WS 4 and 2 attacks makes them a lot better than before and (when attacking only) they can be STR 4 and fearless.  So they might be perfect for rushing an enemy unit on an objective and hanging on to it or acting as a speed bump to set up your shooting.  Despite all this "potential" they strike me as a tweener unit that will take some practice.  Thumbs sideways?

8.  Canoness:  WS 5 is really nice, a much needed upgrade but her lack of serious wargear really makes her less attractive.  To get her STR up, you have to buy a go-last Eviscerator.  No more Blessed Weapon and no more +2 str Acts of Faith apparently, which was what made her okay before.  A 5-7 STR leader that didn’t go last was a decent deal.  So I think she's good for her points like she always was...but most HQ's will outclass her.  She also doesn’t really do as much for the army, but for her unit on the charge, she’s not terrible.

9.  Kyrinov:  good buy.   The Simulacrum Imperialis he comes with is, on its own, a very good reason to consider him.  In my mind he's really only 70 points, and both he and Uriah are better than the Canoness for the most part.  Unfortunately the Sororitas Command Squad is worth taking and therefore you really can only take Kyrinov or Uriah, not both in the preferred motorized version of most lists.  Kyrinov is adequate in combat, and makes his unit and those very close to him Fearless.  That makes the use of the Celestians that I mentioned an ideal unit for him because if they are fearless all the time, they need not worry whether they go first OR second and don’t need to waste what might be a valuable Faith Point elsewhere.  So I have been putting Kyrinov in the Celestian unit, mounted to increase his bubble.

10.  Uriah is…  Awesome.  My personal opinion right now, doing some serious math comparisons, is that he is far better suited for a 20 Sisters Squad than any other.  The “Uriah Bomb” as osme call him is when he joins a Battle Conclave, but I think this is overkill and just ends up leaving his unit exposed to shooting and counter assaults.  Better by far to put him in a unit that’s doughty but can mathematically win without blowing people out, giving them the maximum chance to stay engaged on the charge.  Don’t get me wrong:  such a unit will nearly wipe out a 10 man Assault Squad.  The key word there is “nearly”.  You want them engaged in the enemies shooting round and a big Sisters Squad is your best bet for that, gives you a points/KP denial unit and is of course scoring.

11. Dominion are now Scouts, as they always probably should have been.  They are really the most frightening unit in the codex now, and are as close to an auto-include as I will ever claim there is (while still not claiming it).  The unit can twin link 4 meltaguns, for a level of certainty in tank killing I don't think any unit except the Chaos Chosen can rival and even they can't twin link theirs.  Other armies have alpha strike capability but few (IG BombVets and Grey Knight henchmen perhaps) can do it so cheaply.  If you want more Seraphim, other units can step into this role, but none will have the accuracy and performance of this unit.

12. Serpahim:  The second most frustrating change in the codex is this.  They made these beautiful models more affordable, but at what cost?  The blow to initiative is a death sentence in melee when coupled with their loss of the general Acts of Faith that could protect them or augment them in that realm.  They are now in one of two roles:  Vehicle Assassins or Flamer Wenches.  Since Vehicle assassination is done so much better by other units which indeed may preclude you having any Seraphim in the first place, their role by default becomes Flamer Wenches.  The range at which you must strike with them necessarily means they will end in melee and that in turn means you will likely fire them once and lose them, with no guarantee that they will have done enough to justify taking more than a handful.  Their only value now might be the same as Fast Skimmers in other armies:  Zooming in to annoy objective holders near games end.  The fact that they can fire 4 STR 3 flamers (yes really) and re-roll to wound (fun) is certainly nothing to sniff at, so against hordes they have their uses.  But in the world of MSU minimalist unit sizes that we are in, well…  Their overall value has gone down.

I hope you found this informative!

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