Naturally it elicited comments and now we are ready for the second portion of my analysis. It takes me a little more time to blog on these things because I tend to prefer less knee jerk reactions. I have been scanning the interwebz diligently for other peoples opinions, and testing those against what I see before me. After some consideration, I have come to some conclusions about the codex and its units that I will share for what they are worth. =). I leave the HQ's to the previous post I did.
The Exorcist came down 10 points and is pretty much exactly where it should be in that regard. It hasn't changed: it is a deadly adversary. Firing it's D6 STR 8 AP 1 symphony of destruction across the board and into your armor plating is just cause for all to tremble. It is a notoriously unreliable toy. No one should use just one if you take them at all UNLESS... You just want something to draw enemy fire away from better targets. I am guilty of having just one in my list quite often and running it up alongside all the other hulls I use, allowing me a tough piece of mobile cover to advance behind. One can EASILY argue with oneself whether the one shot it might have fired would do more than its movement would for the force. Fortunately both movement and its gun both serve it well. It tank shocks harder than Rhinos (and you all know how I feel about attacking morale at every turn), is better armored when turned to give other tanks cover and its ability to block line of sight is very useful if you're using certain units in a Sisters of Battle army. Don't JUST consider what it's gun does. but it's gun does a lot potentially.
The 48" range makes it ideal, when taken in twos or threes, to force the enemy into your much shorter range troops. Standing back and plinking away at the Exorcists can be a really low rate of return for enemies unless they are blessed with 48 inch range guns and a fair number of them (and they may have). Just the threat that the Exorcists could all go off buck wild in unison forming a death dealing crescendo is going to get the enemy moving into your Ecclessearchy forces a little sooner than they'd prefer.
The Penitent Engine is not perhaps improved in many ways. It has 3(4) attacks, so you no longer need to be especially lucky to hit with force. Rage adds two to that on the charge. So really, it's doing 6 Dread CC attacks on a charge AFTER it hits you twice with its heavy Flamers. I consider that no walk in the park. it will annihilate a unit of whatever it needs to. Most Marines can Krak grenade them to death because for all their fearsome aspect, the Penitent Engine still suffers the INIT 3 that has hamstrung it for a long time. It's open topped nature only adds to the efficacy of certain attacks against them. Their Shield of Faith 6+ invulnerable save is important to them, as is Unstoppable. If it gets to swing at all, no one is going to like what happens next but you. It's a blender. A pair of them can annihilate the best part of a unit and send them screaming away if they survive at all.
To properly use them, you need to keep them behind Rhinos for cover or reserve them for backfield support after the enemies ranged anti-tank abilities have ebbed some and the enemy is inexorably closing in. Many generals will attempt to rush the enemy with them but I feel they are incredibly effective guardians to help your Sisters of Battle deny the enemy easy access at or around the central core of the force. Why is that important? Well because Sisters have very short range and must torrent to win and are not very hearty frankly against many weapons. You don't want enemy units distracting or diluting their efforts in this regard.
The bottom line? They are far better than the Internet would have you believe but they are a unit that cannot be used without care. Newer generals should shy away or include just one at first so you can get the feel of using them without over commitment. But experienced generals will come to find that a unit of two can wreak serious havoc when properly deployed and used. It's just not a choice I'd recommend for every list. The list would have to be tailored around it. And that could be fun.
"Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord"... Deuteronomy 32:35
The forces of Retribution are heavily and economically armed. They are a FORCE, whether deployed forward via Rhino with their deadly Multimeltas, or placed with Heavy Bolters... Or my personal favorite, trucking along and blazing things into oblivion from within their Rhino with Heavy Flamers until a suitably juicy target can be found for their full tender mercies.
The Heavy bolter option is somewhat nerfed by the Act of Faith being only once (or twice with the Simulacrum) per game to make them Rending. I'm not entirely convinced that this was as big a nerf as some say, but I am convinced that it is one. Grey Knight Purgation Squads do a similar wrecking ball act as the Sisters of Retribution and their Heavy Flamers but cheaper, which is somewhat odd to me (STR 6 for GK's instead of Rending) There's a trade off there on the AP I suppose (both AP 4, but rending on some), but nonetheless, this unit can output the damage you need it to with most configs other than Heavy Bolters. I foresee a drop off of Retributors that use Heavy Bolters and an uptick on ones that use Multimeltas. Multimeltas are just so deadly once at midfield and Sisters of Battle have no problem getting them there usually. Riptides and other threats like it make such an option fairly attractive, though they will still need support from other units to finish such beasts. Luckily you'll have that support most likely. =) My overall recommendation on this is to use the Heavy Flamer option when you take them if you are down to one slot and you really want them included.
Sisters of Battle have been the bedrock of my own lists, and remain so. They now are able to be taken in 5's, which most people now know, and the Special Weapons junkies of the 40K world are much rejoicing over not having to pay the "troops tax" in a Sisters list by being forced to take 10 at a time minimums. Moreover they retain their pistols from the White Dwarf rules and they now use an Act of Faith system that, once per game, allows them to get preferred enemy for a phase, so more limited by far in that regard than before.
You'll notice they took away the lower points cost on Storm Bolters (it was 3 points in the White Dwarf) and interestingly now come with a character for challenges that can OPTIONALLY be upgraded to an LD 9 sergeant. Their ability to come in smaller units also now makes Immolators more common and the Immolators themselves as I mentioned in my previous article, now costs less to upgrade, so all in all, a lot of extra Special Weapons and transport borne weapons can be carried into battle.
But that may not be the biggest change. The blob is back. Thanks to the Priests, Uriah and even the great St. Celestine I already covered, it is VERY attractive to take a Sisters blob once more. That's big news for someone like me who always used the extra sisters AS my Rhino before the White Dwarf came out and was forced to go mechanized during the brief time the White Dwarf was our codex.
One downer for sure was that...again... They missed their opportunity to reintroduce or unlock more troops choices. While I think Sisters of Battle are an enviable choice, the Kasrkin models are great and many people purchased them for their armies. No reason they couldn't have used the Adepta Sororitas codex as a proving ground for a new incarnation of them in the IG codex to come. Further, the Celestians REALLY needed to be troops and are once again absolutely wasted in the elites section.
Bottom line: unless you use allies, you got no choice in troops. However, I do suggest IG allies for them if you do take allies. IG Veterans bring special weapons to the board and they can deliver them from Vindettas.
Speaking of Celestians, lets start with the good news: Furious Charge is their Act of Faith. I'm not going to lie. Str 4 on the charge of a 2 attack model isn't terrible but it's not inspiring when you consider the damage bolters do. It's just "ok". Granting Counter attack with it might have made them more usable. But honestly, I foresee more of the same non-use in store for them, which is really a shame. I can also see them being a great beneficiary of the Banner that grants +1 attacks. At 3 attacks with Power armor to defend them, there are far worse options in the 40K verse. But on their own as a unit... It's tough sledding. I did ask some of the Sisters of Battle players I converse with for ideas on their use, but got the usual defeatist hyperbole about them I was expecting. Perhaps we will explore their use once I have more time to see them in action.
They continued to slide down in price, and in survivability, but at least you know what you're losing as the price went down and for the price, I really find little fault with the unit other than that it is extremely squishy. Anyone whose played with squishy but rewarding units won't be intimidated by this, but a lot of the Space Mariners out there may not like the complete lack of protection these gals fly around with, flaunting their Emperor given gifts to any man with eyes.
They now have a transport and can get quite close if the enemy lets them. It also means something to run behind as they approach. in fact, moving the Rhino 18 inches and running them up behind it could work pretty well. Just make sure there's cover for the Rhino itself. An exploding rhino is VERY bad news for a Sisters Repentia unit. Getting caught in one is not good times. So as moving cover it serves more admirably perhaps.
The way to use them is to shroud them in a cloud of other rhinos and obscuring things until they can prepare themselves for the charge. I recommend you take them right alongside a second hammer, perhaps a Blob squad of Sisters OR a full unit of Battle Conclave. The reason is because it forces target priority nightmares. While they may not be super survivable, They also aren't probably priority one as targets. Sisters of Battle in general are quite good at sowing confusion with their saturation stratagems. Rely on this. Sisters Repentia can do massive and decisive damage to a priority target. Plus afterwards there's not likely to BE anything left when they are done so they can bullet magnet for you for a round while scoring units get into position round 4. Only extreme luck would allow them to stay in combat with their target if they charge, and even if they get charged (invoking their 3+ invul Act of Faith of course) they could probably win the fight. So it's important to think about that and provide them cover for after their fight is over if you can. Rhinos and blobs both can serve to offer protection post-fight. Like many things in Warhammer, anticipating what will happen and positioning are critical pieces to the winners strategy. Shielding a unit of Sisters Repentia with other units as they charge is wise.
The gem of the codex is here and the Dominions still are the best thing about this part of the FOC. Scouting is still in the bag, they now can Ignore Cover with their Act of Faith which makes their melta strikes much more effective against "toe in cover" monstrous creature shenanigans, and they still heft a whole lot of firepower loving. I was not a fan of losing twin linking on them. The unit isn't AS devastating as before but at the same time, IS going to do damage in more situations more consistently. So pick your poison really. The way to use these babies is, if going first, scout them up and then unleash hell on the enemy round one, FORCING their target priority onto them. Use the Rhinos to shield them from the lions share of return fire and hopefully get two really devastating rounds of disruptive killing in with them. If going second, outflank them. this is a very strong play and with an Aegis Line with Comms Relay, it will play havoc with enemy deployment and pressure the enemy a great deal to make strides early, so if it isn't an aggressive type army you're facing, it plays into your hands very well. Either way, a pair of these in any army is no waste of time.
Now the Ignores Cover Act of Faith has a VERY useful application. Consider two Rhinos in a V pattern (the V is open towards you). The Rhinos shield the Dominion from incoming fire. Other rhinos come in behind to help with the wall on either side. The FLAMER Dominions hop out right in front of the Aegis line and flaminate an entire unit to near Cinders, perhaps with Exorcist help. Then the Dominion BEHIND the flamers (which already Ignore Cover) strike the Land Raider or Leman Russ or whatever, and because of Ignores cover, they can safely do so BEHIND their flamer sisters. Anyone charging the Flamer Dominions Gets hit with wall of death and Bolter Fire. The Rhios have ensured that very little can hit the Dominion. So in round one, the Melta Dominion are safe on all sides, the flamer dominion very limited in who can hit them and then in the next round, what's left of the Rhinos walls can scatter. This can mean FOUR kills on significant units for the price of 2-3 Rhinos. A very fair trade indeed. Further, you now have a serious hedgehog of Sisters to deal with.
The Victorias Secret Angels of the Ecclesiarchy! No longer necessary to give St. Celestine her Hit and Run, and now their weapons get Shred which is more or less what it was anyways before though not quite. They re-roll their invul saves and of course can Deep strike and all that good stuff like they could before. What I like is the points reduction which makes them just a tad more attractive and certainly even though I like the idea of two Dominion squads better than one by a fair margin, the FOC has one more slot available and the Seraphim are a worthy line breaking unit that can cause disruption and hold the enemy up when it's needed like Celestians were decent at in the White Dwarf codex when coupled with the now defunct Kyrinov (disappointing). Use these as speed bumps to slow enemies down and use them to absolutely FRY hordes. Their damage output is so good against hordes it's silly.
I think that the future looks bright for the Adepta Sororitas. Nothing in the codex changes the meta, a welcome surprise for some, but all of it is more competitive because of the price modifications. The army is definitely one of those that is the sum of its parts more than being filled with singular super stars. Tactically minded Generals will really enjoy how it works. Those who want push button armies may find it difficult to adjust but this army is FLEXIBLE. It deep strikes, Scouts, outflanks, it has horde elements, hard hitting hammer units, long range tank killing and so on. It lacks anti-air in any form and that must needs be overcome with allies.
The look of this army is awesome, the whole theme appeals to my inner angry Christian (See Deuteronomy for details on that) and the army allows for real internal balance where you can kind of play different lists without a lot of trouble. Mechanised works, gun line works and even yes an assault oriented army works! Allies are great too, especially Imperial Guard Don't forget that the Ecclesiarchy had long had the authority to command units to its service. Including IG is kinda like playing it old school.
Amongst Imperial Guard, EXCELLENT additions to the Sisters army are a pair of Vindettas. they fill the anti-air slot and are excellent really, all the way around. Against the Multiwoud tough 5 monstrosities that the Sisters may struggle against, the Manticore presents an EXCELLENT compliment to the straight shooting Exorcists. Guardsman Marbo is almost a must. For Psyker Defense perhaps a Primaris Psyker? And since the army cannot infiltrate, if you want to add that dimension, the IG have an option that also allows for pinning.
So really, the Sisters of Battle can cover all their bases, and is an army to be reckoned with.