Friday, October 18, 2013

Codex: Adepta Sororitas

It's here folks and with it, change.  This isn't your grandma's Sisters of Battle codex and it is a whole lot more than a "cut and paste" change to the rules that so many pundits (wrongly) suspected it would be.

I began writing this and realized there was so much to it that I better chop things up a bit.  So this first post will be mostly centered on the HQ and army special rules sections.  I will talk a lot about what has changed in the codex and my thoughts on those changes.

As I moved through the codex, a notable omission caught my attention.  Kyrinov is no longer a named option in the codex!  You can still take a Priest and arm him with the mace of Valaan (which used to be concussive power weapon).  The Mace of Valaan is now solidly a master crafted concussive power mace which when within 6" of a Daemon is also Fleshbane and Armourbane.  So a better weapon in general.  Gone for now is his 6" Fearless bubble (Icon of Chiros), but he can take the Book of St. Lucius which is essentially a 12" fearless bubble.  So he actually can be better than his original form allowed.  Kyrinoiv's 1 in 6 chance to regenerate a Faith Point (Laud Hailer) and the re-roll on Faith tests(Simulacrum Imperialis) are gone.  However they are compensated for by giving him and his unit Fearless and Hatred (through the Zealot Universal Special Rule (USR).  You lose two wounds on the guy as well, but since he is only costing you 55 points with the Mace of Valaan and the book, that can be forgiven.  In addition, I have not even spoken of Priestly Battle Hymns he can use.

The three War Hymns by priests are quite powerful, and free!  They can notably be used every round in the assault phase unlike Acts of Faith (which I will talk about later).  They can make their unit re-roll saves (and with Power Armor, or invul saves, that's big), they can give themselves the smash USR or they can make their unit re-roll failed to wounds (which with STR 3 is also a big deal).  And before you ask, no.  Two Hymns cannot affect the same unit.

They dropped the cost of Priests 20 points, which makes all of this utility incredibly attractive.  Best part is, as before, the Priests occupy no slots, and you can take five of them as before so of all the things in the codex that changed, this was by far the largest decrease in cost for an increase in usefulness that I have seen in Warhammer 40K in an incredibly long time.  Will people take them now?  I can't see why not.

Let's move away from the omissions to the various changes people will notice immediately as they face this fearsome sisterhood.

Acts of Faith are a defining characteristic of the army and in the most recent (White Dwarf) iteration of the army, you needed a 5+ to do Acts of Faith, with various modifiers to that including having a faithful character leading them and/or taking losses.  All the units were "assigned" certain Acts of Faith and then allowed to use them as often as they could pull off the roll of 5+.  I personally found this to be perfectly reasonable way to handle it, just as i found that the way before that (the "Faith pool" of points) to be a fine way to do it...  After ranting to the contrary it is fair to say.  Change can be hard. 

In the new official edition however, the Acts of Faith changed yet again.  Not only can they not choose their Acts of Faith (as they could in the 4E codex) and they are again specific to their unit (as they were in the White Dwarf) but now they are useable but once per game!  To activate them, you make a Leadership Test (which is fine by me, as good as any system).  This nerf sounds worse than it is in some cases, though I suspect the knee jerk reaction by many Sisters players will be as violently vehement as the last change was before they realized that it really wasn't bad at all.  Consider three things before you throw the baby out with the bathwater as Acts of Faith go:
  • Acts of Faith can now be done on the enemy turn!  Time and again, I found myself helplessly watching a unit get butchered by being charged and unable to use an Act of Faith to respond.  The White Dwarf version limited Acts of Faith to your turn and never in your opponents turn.  This was a serious problem at times.  Now, the Acts of Faith are usable, by and large, in the enemies turn, which will let you "time" their use to be more appropriate.  Sisters Repentia really benefit from this new way of doing things, for example.
  • War Hymns are not just usable once per game.  With Priests in your units, it will often be the case that what you lost is more than gained back and the differentiation between Sister Superiors and Veteran Sister Superiors will further allow for the point expenditures and utility of the Priests to become obvious and as it is now an Ecclesiarchy army...
  • Consider the actual number of times you actually USED a particular Act of Faith in any particular unit. Honestly, only Retributers seem to be taking the short end of the stick on this change from an actual frequency of use perspective and possibly the Dominions, as they were high frequency users of their Act of Faith before this change.  Even Dominions will probably be okay because of the Simulacrum Imperialis rules, which was gear they already routinely took in the White Dwarf Codex and will again now.  More on that later.
Now that doesn't mean you won't occasionally have reason to curse that it can't be used more than once per game.  That day is coming.  However, it probably isn't the one-sided nerf most people will paint it as on other blogs and forums, for the reasons i mention.  Time will tell how weighty this change really was.  

What makes the change to Acts of Faith perhaps more bearable is that the Simulacrum Imperialis allows you to do your Act of Faith twice, so long as you keep it alive.  If you don't, you lose the units Act of Faith!  So keeping that flag flying high and proud is job one for some units; a cool concept from a fluff perspective.

In addition, Uriah Jacobus allows you to use yet +1 more Act of Faith with him in your unit.  So obviously, he and St. Celestine will be seeing a lot of action together.  Before you ask, this ability works once for Uriah, so bouncing him from one unit to another as you play won't allow multiple units to reuse their Act of Faith.  Sorry chums.

St. Celestine is a beast.  She allows her fellow Sisters within 12" to use her LD for Acts.  She has the same awesome statline, and her weapon no longer does the wound on a 4+ thing, but instead gets +2 STR.  That will not always be awesome, but will at least help her eliminate paltry opposition that by all rights she should have vanquished rounds ago (like Gaunts).  Hit and run comes stock on her now, which also makes her extremely useful to any assault unit she wants to join.  She therefore no longer needs Seraphim to get her out of the tough "tie her up" combats.  St. Celestine can now operate in a powerful way with units like Celestians, jumping them in and out of combats they don't want to be in for example and allowing them to charge as they should be doing.  It was a gross oversight in the White Dwarf to leave Hit and Run off of her.  Now the 40K world must truly tremble at her passing!  Her price went up 20 points but so what.  Still worth it.

Since we're on the subject of HQ's, I think we should also talk about Uriah.  He's the baddest of the bad when it comes to Priests.  Just look at the immense list of USR's and special goodies he brings with him, shall we?  Fearless, Hatred, and the Indomitable Belief Warlord Trait (5+ invuls for his unit) if you choose not to use the Celestine Acts of Faith bubble Trait instead; a free Act of Faith for a unit, Martydom (Adepta Sororitas rule for HQ's wherein if they die, everyone auto-passes morale tests until the end of your next turn), 12" Banner that gives +1 attack and re-rolls for morale, fear and pinning checks...  Zowee.  The dude is awesome.  Oh and by the way?  He has the War Hymns too.  Geez louise...  

What amazes me is I am this far down the page and there's still more for you to know just on the HQ side of life.  Both Uriah and Celestine come with their awesome sauce Warlord Traits (which I mention above in that text wall that grows by the moment) and you're likely to want them.  But I am happy to report that the Canoness is actually worth taking too which makes a Warlord Trait chart at least relevant enough to bring it up a little later!  They really poured a lot into the HQ section here so bear with me.

The Canoness was much maligned and in any event, easily edged out for more "useful" HQ's in most lists.  In 4E it was not so, but in this brave new world of 40K?  The Canoness was an afterthought and that's being kind.  I can count on one hand, and I include my unorthodox self in that count, how many times I saw anyone use a Canoness from the White Dwarf edition.  I happened to like what she and her staff could do, but can easily see why others did not give her a chance.  

The new Canoness has a lot going for her though.  PLEASE NOTE:  there WILL be controversy over her ability to take multiple items from the Ecclesiarchy Relics list because of the poor wording, which is noted and discussed below in the comments.  She's really a carbon copy of the White Dwarf Canoness in cost but she possesses more options than before and that makes her dangerous.  Her Rosarius went down by 10 points which was a MUCH needed change.  She can now gain re-rolls to her saves (Cloak of Aspira) and gain Eternal Warrior from the Mantle of Ophelia.  Couple with her natual invul save which can be made into a 5+ with the Warlord Trait Uriah grants (Indomitable Belief) and you have one hard to kill Canoness. She regained access to eviscerators!  Hooray!  And lest you forget, the Book of St. Lucius is ridiculously awesome, as it was before, and VERY affordable at 5 points.  A Canoness with cloak, Mantle, Book and Eviscerator is 135, same as St. Celestine, so one has to give the nod to Celestine for the points, but they are different enough in what they do that you can see uses for both.  But what made the Canoness a decent choice in the White Dwarf and still now, is her Sororitas Command Squad.

The Sororitas Command Squad dropped by 35 points, which is not a small thing.  In addition, the Dialogus became more useful than it was before and that was also not a small thing.  Now you have a unit with Feel No Pain from its Hospitallar, 3 Celestians, a dialogus that has the Laud Hailer (2 Acts of Faith instead of 1 per game) and the price for the Simulacrum came down by 10 points also; plus it's now a 12" radius instead of just affecting the unit!  This could be a VERY important unit to have at the center of your approach as you are attempting all those Acts of Faith at a critical time, and the price is definitely improved.  Actually, to be honest, the price for the way this unit was normally built went down in another way also:  The Immolators 65 point base cost came down 5 points and its weapon options are FREE now!  So this squads value has just really risen with the reduction in the cost to deliver it to the battlefield where it needs to go.  Also I noticed that the whole unit can take Meltabombs.  Yahoo.  Great for fighting a Monstrous creature with a Hatred fueled charge or perhaps bombing an IG tank Squadron.  Good times.

All of a sudden, that Canoness and her Act of Faith The Passion (which grants Hatred) looks so much more affordable than before when viewed through the lens of the unit that she unlocks.  The utility of that unit at the center of the fray is pretty impressive, popping out of her Immolator and leading the battle cry for a lot less points than before.  I'm eager to try it.

The second command squad you could go with if you wish is the dreaded Battle Conclave.  Each Priest unlocks a unit of these monsters of nightmares past.  Arco Flagellants form the core of the unit, minimum of 3 as before and you can switch them out for the Assassin or the Crusader for the appropriate cost.  The cost of the unit went down significantly.  The arcos are reduced in cost by 1/3, while the others stayed the same cost.  So if you built yours like I did (4 Arcos, 4 Assassins, and 2 Crusaders) you would find that your cost has dropped 20 points for the unit.  One change that was interesting is that the Assassins no longer have two Power weapons.  They are now specifically Power Swords.  I must assume that this is literal since it was written for 6E.  Regardless, this unit was a serious performer for me when they got out there.

Well I think I have said enough here on the HQ section.  Hope you enjoyed reading it and Happy Hunting.  I will say more on the rest of the Codex here:

Monday, October 14, 2013


I'd really like to see a lively and serious discussion on what an ideal way to deal with sportsmanship is.

At the shop I play at primarily, though I admit to fidelity issues in that regard, they are very very big on sportsmanship, a reflection of the owners own feelings on the matter.  Sportsmanship awards are almost always the second largest at our tournaments and I really have zero beef with that point of view.

The rub comes when you think back to all your games, can't remember doing anything that would bother someone in game, and yet they give you 7's out of 10...or worse!

It's probably happened to everyone at some point.  So then how should we go about this because we all obviously benefit from having a mechanic to award as well as punch for sportsmanship.  We all know it's necessary to restrain certain types from being completely difficult.  Doesn't solve everything so lets not go down the path of complaining because "No system fixes everything".  We should go in knowing that, accepting that and then moving on to the next logical thought which is "yes, but if we set it up right it CAN do a lot"

A few key attempts we've seen through history:

1.  1-10 systems, each number linked to a certain achievement such as "Had all his materials ready" or "showed up for his game on time"
2.  3-2-1 system, where you can give the 1, the 2 or the 3 to only one person each.  The idea is to give a comparative number, with a lot of people getting 6's and the outliers are getting truly high scores so they stand out.
3.  Linking sportsmanship to a nebulous 1-10 which is left entirely to the players imagination.  essentially unlike option 1, the person doing the rating is deciding what those achievements had to be.
4.The "Would you play him again?" type system where barring a no to that question, we just kind of accept that most people are generally cool to play against or at minimum tolerable.  This system is more punitive because it really only serves to punish players, not to reward them.

And then there are the tie breaker scenarios to be considered  different tourneys use VERY different tie breakers for the Best Sportsman award.  Should the award be totally separate from all others or should it be part of the overall scoring?  Should a tie be decided by who had the least success?  Or the most?

And lastly, doers sportsmanship extend to army composition.  Ive seen on more than one occasion, people claiming that they will forfeit games against certain builds.  I was right next to one who forfeited without even pulling his models out and told the judges to give his opponent a zero for sportsmanship, all because the dude hated Mechdar lists.

So how do we deal with this problem.  The following goals should be part of any discussion.

1.  The solution should not allow someone to lose 2/3 of their games and still win Best Overall.  Weighting is important
2.  The measure or meter for this scoring should be easily understood
3.  The solution has to stop the"I wont mark you down if you don't mark me down" love fests we sometimes see.

I'm very interested in what you people might say to that.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Necrons: Horrors from the deep

So you wanna' play in shooting dominated Warhammer 40K with a melee oriented force, but you don't know where the frakk to start.  

We've all seen the horrors of a landscape blackened by the shadows of Night Scythes and all have wondered not if but when the end would come.  Your sole consolation?  At least they aren't Dark Eldar raiding parties...right?  Famous last words!

Even the most horrified escapee of the tender Dark Eldar mercies would tell you that the idea of a million nanobots infiltrating your skin and animating your body to do things while you watch far exceeds the horrors even the Dark City can visit upon one.  And such a victim would surely recall with absolute blathering insane laughter how he wanted to sleep but never could...  he would speak of the madness that ensues for those who never sleep again yet are doomed to live fully aware.  Nay.  It is the Flayed Ones who truly embody the full cruelty of the star Empire the Necrons gave up so long ago.

It is fitting perhaps that we should wish to explore melee oriented Necrons and be starting with Flayed ones.

Why?  Well lets put 6E melee in perspective:  the key to making it work is unit strength and reducing the time between when you're enemy has you in its sites and when you can launch the offensive.  More and more, infiltrating is proving a valuable tool to bring arms to bear.  Uniquely the Flayed ones can operate forward and pounce on a flank very quickly.

First off, Flayed ones get a whopping 3 base attacks.  That, friends, is the most of any basic infantry type troops.  Their 4+ saves and Reanimation protocols make them a very tough nut to crack in the time you have to try.  This makes up, somewhat, for the fact that they are like most Necrons, I2.  But they are very inexpensive compared to many other mainline troops with comparable attacks.  Now the reason why these intrigue me is that they can infiltrate and be charging in turn 1 if I choose to go second; and they can outflank if I go first.  That's great tactical flexibility.  As there are invariably better targets to fire at than engorged packs of Flayed Ones if you want First Blood, they force a real priority problem for enemies.  On one hand, the enemy sorely wants to end the Flayed ones parked right in their flank, knowing they cant really move forward safely until the Flayed once are gone.  On the other hand, more serious threats are moving and running forward even as the enemy ponders this problem and it wont be long now before the horde of fairly hearty Necrons are in striking distance.  The Flayed ones are the pincers, keeping the enemy where they are while the rest of the force can approach and bring the pain.  It limits the effective range of the enemy somewhat because if unable to move forward safely, with many weapons being 24", that gives the Necrons a round of lesser fire into their numbers for a round unless they just throw caution to the wind.

I am taking two units of 17 because I need bulk to make this work realistically.  Attrition will happen but if I can hold the bookends up for long enough and maybe even get some lucky breaks at the right time It will go a long way to freeing the rest of the army up to form an impenetrable blockade against enemy intrusion of my side of the board.  And objectives are hard to get to once mired int an endless sea of chittering nanobots.

As we are trying to go melee themed here, the meanest close combat monsters are probably the Canoptek Spiders.  Monstrous Creatures that tear tanks and people apart like spongecake sounds good, and they don't go down so easily.  You can equip them with a fairly good ranged weapon, although it is awfully expensive as such things go and is a blast weapon, which means no overwatch can be done with it.  Still, it allows them to affect the battle as they approach behind Scarabs.

The Spyders will feed the Canoptek Scarabs.  Though FAQ's and common sense have tamed them, they are still one of the most terrifying armor killers in the game and with a ton of wounds, it takes higher powered weaponry to mill through them.  However, they have no fear of the milling because for one, the Canoptek Spyders can reinforce the unit quite quickly, and secondly. Nemesor Zhandrek can make even the innocuous little scarabs into actually respectable assault units.  They can be given furious charge on their turn using his Adaptive Tactics rule and steal the Space Wold Counter=Attack ability as they come in using the Nemesors Counter Tactics special rule.  That's just one example he allows (albeit at a stiff premium).  All this combines to make for a very bad day.

We need First blood and we need mobility.  We get that through outflanking, infiltrating and through the beast movement of the Scarab swarms.  But we need the insurance later in the game that we won't get caught in our own mire.  So i recommend at least one Night Scythe for a late game troop drop in a nice safe place.  For First Blood, there isn't much better to try it with than Destrukteks.  their mobile lances allow you to skirt the action at maximum distance, ensconced in a Warrior Squad while blasting the Rhinos and various and sundry metal threats.  5 Lances per round will do a lot of damage ot preferred targets and can pot shot the big boys like Wraithknights from 5 separated platforms.

So we have melee, we have objective stealing power, we have a small bit of anti-air, we have speed, we have anti-TEQ and MEQ, and we have the element of surprise.  What more can a general ask for?

Nearly this entire force is two fisted to the very end.  

221pts  17  Flayed Ones

221pts   17 Flayed Ones

175  3 Canoptek Spyders (1 x TL Particle Beamer)

175  3 Canoptek Spyders (1 x TL Particle Beamer)

175  3 Canoptek Spyders (1 x TL Particle Beamer)

120pts  8 scarabs

120pts  8 scarabs

65pts  5 Warriors
65pts  5 Warriors
65pts  5 Warriors
65pts  5 Warriors
65pts  5 Warriors  

185pts  Nemesor Zhandrek
175pts  5 Destrukteks  =1925
100pts  Night Scythe

Thoughts?  Tweaks?