For other Chaos blog entries, try these:
Abaddon of Codex: Chaos Space Marines
First Among Traitors
Ten Millennia of Hate
The Bringers of Despair
The Black Legion Relics
The first thing to know about the Relics is that to use them is to preclude using those in the normal Codex: Chaos Space Marines. The second thing is that using them may cost you your life. Literally.
There are six of these monstrous artifacts: The Spine Shiver Blade, the Crucible of Lies, Last Memory of Yuranthos, The Eye of Night, The Skull of Ker'Ngar and The Hand of Darkness.
Each one seems tailor made for a certain approach to the game, or to solve a certain weakness that the Chaos Space Marines may have.
The Spine Shiver Blade is 5 points less expensive than the Murder sword, and unlike the Murder Sword, is a Daemon Weapon (and therefore OH so many attacks). It gives the bearer a +1 to initiative which is simply huge because INIT 5 which a Chaos Lord has is slower than even an Exarch with a Scorpion claw! In fact a great many bad things in the universe might pop a Chaos Lord before he swings. Further, it is cheaper than the Axe of Blind Fury(also a Daemon Weapon) by 5 points also, and though the Spine Shiver Blade doesn't doesn't get the axes +2 STR and is only AP 3, in the hands of a Daemon Prince, the Daemon Weapon feature makes the Daemon Prince a blender and makes it AP 2. So if you're tight on points, a Daemon Prince is a decent place to put a Daemon Weapon. Though the Initiative bonus means little to a Daemon Prince, an extra D6 attacks means a lot! Not only that but it can make a BOATLOAD of smash attacks with the sword and so you can pay more for the Axe if you REALLY think you'll need it buuuut...
The Crucible of Lies is odd. It took me some time to ponder when and then if you'd ever want to use it. On one hand it allows re-rolls of 1 on the Invul save. The Nurgle Daemon Prince would then be granted a 5+ cover save (and 3+ Jink save if flying) plus re-rolling 1's on invul saves. If you do this, you will need to take a shot at Biomancy Powers to compensate for the loss of Toughness because a Tough 4 Daemon Prince could rapidly get instant-killed.by a stinking Missile Launcher, Crimson Hunter or even a Hive Crone Vector Strike! Nonetheless, if you DO go with Biomancy, you might well be rewarded for this relatively valuable item. If you play a Sorcerer of Tzeentch, he can benefit as well in the same way, but a T3 Sorcerer had DEFINITELY better get a good Boon of Mutation or a Biomancy power. The Skull of Ker'ngar is a very good companion item for this.
Last Memory of Yuranthos is incredible and odd. It grants you a Mastery Level, though it doesn't come with a spell. This is great if you are a mastery Level 3 and want to match Eldrads 4 when Denying the Witch rolls are going off! So it has a nice defensive element to it. You may find it easier to use 2 Warp Charge spells as well.
At its core what it is is the Sunburst Psyker NOVA blast, in all direction D6" for EACH Warp Charge you spend (maximum of 3) You can literally hit everything within about a 36" line if you want to . Each Target takes the 2D6 STR 4 AP 5 Blinding Ignores Cover hits! Imagine this going off against an army that has 12 units deployed within 18 inches to either side of the Psyker! All enemies have to take an initiative test or be blinded plus the damage.Pretty awe inspiring. And if they don't kill its source... He'll do it again. A Tau army hit with this could be in serious doo doo.
Naturally if you FAIL your Psyker test, you are simply removed from play. D'oh. The price of power is indeed great. Careful who you put this on and include the Spell Familiar in your plans! Needs to be at least a level 2 Psyker to maximize its ridiculum.
The Eye of Night is truly a tool of war and its simple. It costs 10 more points than just the Chaos Lord who holds it. It is 5 points more expensive than even the dreaded Dark Angel Banner of Devastation. Unlike the banner, this is a one shot only weapon that fires a Haywire Maelstrom at the enemy. Only STR 4, AP 5 Large Blast Ignores Cover. That sounds okay but way too spendy for a one use item that can scatter. But wait. there's more to this Eye of Night, for it does D3 automatic Penetrating Hits on any armored target it touches. It can kill tanks with a lucky roll and it cuts right through all the cover shenanigans, so Mechdar will be in no hurry to cluster their tanks. This is the great equalizer against armored forces and the Black Legion have a long history of evening the odds at whatever cost.
It's highly recommended that a HIGH BS character fire it. So a Daemon Prince or a Chaos Lord are best. With this item, many weaknesses for a melee oriented army are resolved by being able to reliably threaten the shell within which lies the tasty morsels inside.
The Skull of Ker'Ngar is very cool. It is a good companion to the Crucible of Lies. The lowered toughness by 1 caused by the Crucible ceases to matter when this Skull is around to give you Eternal Warrior. Not only that but because it is likely that a Tzeentch Daemon prince is where these artefacts would go together, he now would enjoy a whopping 3+ save against Psykler powers (5 for being a Sorcerer, +1 for the Skull and +1 for having more Mastery Levels). Now this makes for a fairly tough to kill Daemon who can swoop in to take any foe out without the usual fears involved.
Chaos Lords would do equally well with the two but brings those gifts to bear a bit slowly compared to Winged Daemons.
The Hand of Darkness is awesome. No Murder Sword ever thought about being this cool. It takes all your attacks and makes them into one single AP 1 Powerfist strike. Since its armourbane and fleshbane, as well as instant Death, well... The enemy that gets hit with that has a very poor chance indeed. It goes at normal initiative order too. Not awesome for its prey. The Hand of Darkness is actually the perfect weapon for a lesser Lord to carry. The Dark Apostle becomes an absolute terror, with his Zealot re-rolls with such a powerful weapon. His two attacks, normally not something to write home about, cease to matter. A WarpSmith might catch an enemy napping too. Imagine the surprise when a Sorcerer takes the Hand of Darkness, and casts WarpSpeed, which can add D3 initiative. The sorcerer could conceivably kill Mephiston with his last breathe! A Chaos Daemon Prince with this weapon would end him with no delay.
The Relics are very good reasons to try out a Black Legion army as is the fact that Chosen are now your TROOPS and you can take a unit of beat stick Terminators who don't miss.
There is another issue.
The Missions. The Codex: Black Legion book forces a roll off when using it. If the Black Legion player wins, he gets to use the Alter of War Missions in the Black Legion Book instead of the Eternal War missions!
The missions themselves are quite fun. There are regular missions that any force can play against the Black Legion and then there are themed Echoes of War missions which are army specific ones recreating battles the Black legion has really fought in books and lore. The rules do not force you to roll off for the Echoes of War missions, only the Alter of War ones.
Mission Breakdown:Speartip Strike
This is a Dawn of War Deployment mission. Kill Points are the Victory Condition, however Elites/HQ's are worth TWO victory points and the Slay the Warlord secondary Objective is worth 5 points. The enemy of the Black Legion player makes the unit that his Warlord is in a Zealot unit. The Black Legion units can Deep Strike on turn 1 or 2 without having to roll (though they must write this down secretly before the game)
In this mission it's as if your Deep Strikers are getting the Dark Angel Deathwing Assault rule more or less. It is mildly helpful, albeit it doesn't help you scatter any better =).
We played this mission and it was fun. The game was in doubt to the end because the Warlord alone was worth 7 points (2 as HQ, 5 for Slay the Warlord Secondaries), so if either one went down, it was game changing. Fans of Warmachine will recognize the bloody game this becomes and it's really quite cool to see armies adapt to this.
Kill Them All
Enemies Deploy within 12" of the center. In this mission, those enemies in the center are doomed. Black Legion forces are allowed to start the game at least 24" from the board center, which really gives the enemy a lot of problems as the Black Legion can come from both sides!
To help emulate the enemies resolve all enemy forces are Stubborn in this mission. Hooray!
Black Legion reserves come on from ANY table edge and flee towards the NEAREST one though so be careful! Enemies fall back to the center of the board to hold the line.
Without Number: Black legion units that are destroyed can come back at the start of their next turn from ongoing reserve (though may not CHOOSE to remove units, as was/is the case in some missions and in the IG book for example). The Black Legion must table the opponent or lose! If even one model is alive, the Black legion has failed.
Now this mission seemed like fun after the mini-Campaign called Conquest of Kaiserslautern VI. The idea of endless Chaos coming at you until you succumbed and the objective in that campaign was to see how LONG you could last, not IF you would last. Chaos effectively had to end you in 4 turns to avoid a loss, though that is not a rule in this mission. Still, tabling an army is no joke. Enemy Deep Striking and Outflanking will be interesting to watch on a mission like this one.
Capture the Artefact
Another Dawn of War deployment zone.
The enemy places an objective somewhere in his deployment zone, worth 3 points.
All non-vehicle units get the Zealot rule.
This is the only mission amongst the three that DOES use mysterious objectives, albeit there is only one Primary objective so mostly, the defender is advantaged!