Thursday, June 11, 2015

Adeptus Mechanicus: Cult Mechanicus

It looks so cool...

I purchased the Cult Mechanicus codex because it had robots in it that reminded me suspiciously of awesome robots from comic books (and Games workshop knows who I'm talking about…).  I was immediately intrigued of course. not only by the similarities but also by the theme.  It's been a dream for a lot of players to see the Adeptus Mechanicus become a reality and now it has in the form of the two Codexes.  The Cult Mechanicum in particular made me take notice aesthetically speaking.

Does Size Matter?

My first observation is that the units as you'd be likely to gear them pretty much all come in at least at 300points.  So this is an elite army and you're not likely to crest over seven or eight units and that includes your Warlord.  That isn't to say that you could not, but that you probably won't as the way the force fights becomes more clear.  For those who don't like elite armies or low model count type risks, this army will scare you mightily.  In Maelstrom missions, I have the feeling that this force could struggle right out of the gate if a canny opponent focus's fire on the easier to kill units to reduce the number of scoring units to a dangerously low level earlier in the game.

The number of models is actually a bit misleading because the Troops and the Heavy Support, which will eat up a bulk of your points, are all multi-wound models and pretty tough as well.  Kataphrons (both Breachers or Destroyers) cost as much as a Heavy Destroyer, have two wounds, act as if relentless and can fire both weapons.  Their weapons are mean.  Breachers focus on anti-armor type duties while Kataphron Destroyers are much more anti-personnel oriented.

Devastting Offensive Power

No army I can think of has the absolutely devastating array of weaponry this force can boast on its basic troops.  One Kataphron Destroyer, a Troops choice, can fire two Plasma Cannon shots plus the dreaded Cognis Flamer which is a flamer that also automatically gets 3 hits on Overwatch!  The Kataphron Destroyers can also take on a Heavy Grav Cannon if you don't like the Plasma Cannon shots.  How does 6 Grav shots sound instead?  It has other options as well.  BS of 3 is somewhat of a counterbalance.

Now imagine a unit of 6.  I don't care who you are, that is a frightening amount of firepower. 

Kataphron Breachers come with better armor than the Destroyers and their Torsion Cannons are silly pants awesome.  They will drop armor dead in its tracks.

The force also has some really fun Electro Priests you can take, of two varieties in fact.  These look like they are out of the Mad Max movie, and again if one didn't know better one might question whether GW might have been scoping out some new movie releases while they sculpted.  Anyways, they come as either Fulgurite or Corpuscarii Electro Priests.

The difference between the two is the Fulgurites are WS 4 and melee oriented while the Corpuscarii are BS 4 and shooty.  They both can come in units of 20 and the Corpuscarii shooting is a really impressive Twin linked Assault 2 weapon at STR 4.  Both kinds get Hammer of wrath.  Both effectively ignore terrains effects on charges and they both get a bonus to their str in melee.  So overall a pretty scary couple units but they become far MORE scary once you view them through the lens of the Army wide Canticles of the Omnissiah chart which we will discuss.

Death Robots From Outer Spaaaaaaaace!

The last piece of the codex concerns the aforementioned cool looking Sintinels…. I mean Kastellan Robot Maniple unit.  Ahem.  Yeah that's it.

Anywho, These are bad mamma Jammas.  They are as expensive as Talos, and in fact are similar in a lot of ways stat wise (not QUITE as strong but that’s made up for using the Canticles).  They are like Meganobz in combat with their large number of Power fist attacks, only they actually have an invul save and FnP; so entirely better in that way.  They are accompanied by a Cybernetica DataSmith which has Artificer (2+) armor which they can use to "tank" wounds they don't want to take.  EACH Kestallan Robot can fire off 6 (or 9 if using the Kastellan Battle Protocols, see below) vicious str 6 AP 3 shots apiece, 3 of them twin linked, should you build the robots without their power fists.  Who needs the Power Fists anyways since they are Monstrous Creatures that can have their STR augmented through the Canticles when it matters.  In short they are killing machines of the most brutal sort, able to be ordered into close combat in which case they smash through resistance and leave no survivors or else they can be programmed to battle at range and make paste out of a sound majority of the enemies they might fear.

Kastellan Battle Protocols allow the Datasmith character leading the unit to either Double their attacks, gain Feel no Pain OR stay immobile but fire one of their Carapace mounted weapons again.  Interestingly this is DECLARED at the end of the phase but does not take effect until the beginning of your next phase as the Datasmith diligently removes and replaces your protocol chips.

Formations and Force Multipliers

In newer codex' we all know that it’s the army wide special rules and formations that can be the scariest manifestation of the armies potential so let's talk about it.

First is the Cohort Cybernetica.  If you take two sets of Kastelan Robot Maniples (Maniple is what they call the robot units as a whole) with a Tech-Priest Dominus (the HQ choice the book provides) the Dominus can make the Kastellan Battle Protocols take effect IMMEDIATELY.  That’s powerful because you could have fired everything using the extra shots, and then activate the "double attacks" protocol in anticipation of being charged for example!  In addition you could charge someone and then revert to the "added shooting" protocol" which will increase overwatch if you feel that’s wiser.  In addition the Datasmiths in the unit can allow Split firing  with this Formation!  The Canticle (see below) I can see helping this unit the most given that they are Monstrous Creatures, is the Invocation of Machine Might which can add as much as +3 to their STR.  This Canticle will allow you to take shooty robots without really losing anything in their melee ability when it matters most.

The Elimination Maniple Formation is cool too.  By taking 2-3 Kataphron Destroyer units, and 1-3 Robot maniples (and why would you not?) you can use this formation.  That means that if the Robots hit a unit and cause an unsaved result of some kind with their "Luminagen" weapons (which reduces cover saves by one) then the Destroyers in the Formation Ignore Cover instead and gain +1 BS against the "lit up" target!!!  Kinda' like Markerlights, only the Robots have markerlights that actually do damage.  You want this to count when it happens so the Canticle called Benediction of Omniscience will allow them to re-roll missed shooting attacks.

The Numinous Conclave is great if you dig the Electro Priests.  By taking an even number of both types (minimum 2 each) You gain one of the funnest abilities I've seen in a codex in a while.  As my readers know, I am a big fan of synergies so this one is quite excellent to me anyways.  What happens is they essentially empower each other when the two types are within 6" of each other.    The shooty Corpuscarii gain yet ANOTHER shot with their electricity as they leech power from their Fulgurites fellows who aren't using it yet.  And their attacks ELECTRIFY the enemy unit weakening it, thus allowing the Fulgurites to re-roll to wound rolls against the electrified lot of them!  Too cool.  They gain Crusader also which makes their sweeping advances pretty awesome.  This formation bnefits from several Canticles, possibly all of them in equal measure at different times in the game.  As the Electro-priests are not tough I would venture that giving them Stealth and/or Shrouded as they come into the open is probably the best Canticle for them, which is called ShroudPsalm.  The Litany of the Electromancer is straight up sick on a large unit of these guys as well, giving them as many as 4 additional attacks at INIT 10.  Yes really.  Even Flayed Ones will cringe.

The Holy Requisitioner Formation is for the Breachers so they can shine.  A Tech-Priest Dominus and his Breacher buddies get to flawlessly Deep Strike, on a single roll, within 6" of an objective.  They gt Counter Attack and Zealot which is great because their job is to kill tanks and they WILL be charged right after they drop in all likelihood.    They also benefit a lot from ShroudPsalm on the Deep Strike as there isn't always cover to hide in.

The force multiplier for the list comes in the form of the Canticles of the Omnisiah, of which there are six.  Each one is intoned at the start of the phase and may be used only once.  Each one utilizes a table that will parcel out an ability based on the number of units you still have alive.  GENERALLY these decline in value as the number of units diminishes and the Flames of Industry are extinguished!  Though I won't go through the whole thing here, suffice it is to say there are certain Canticles I can see helping certain units a great deal which I have made some mention of here.

Some Thoughts

After reading through the Codex I think that every unit is good enough to take into battle.  It's flavorful enough that long standing fans of the concept will really be aesthetically pleased.  The true test will be on the battlefield.  Nothing in the codex is cheap so you REALLY have to milk every opportunity and give strong consideration to how you would play it.

Tactically there are some worries about it.  It's not a fast army by any stretch of that definition.  Everything in the force walks like infantry, even the Kataphrons who look like they are on treads but don’t let it fool ya'.  They are just infantry.  So pure toughness will have to overcome that disability.  Hugging terrain and cutting off the parts of the battlefield you're not ready to engage will be a key skill for its players.

I almost feel like the Holy Requisitioner Formation is going to be a must in many armies.  How can you really look at hitting dead bang on target with anything but joy in a Maelstrom contest and/or in almost any contest?  That ability is found in VERY few places outside this codex.  Swooping Hawks have it and the Living Tomb Formation has it in a way. but it is by and large hard to find and a welcome answer to the seeming frequency you will be without the ability to get anywhere on foot.

That brings up a list building point.  In general it may be wise to save points on a couple of Kataphrons weapon options and treat them as they they are "going to die".  Upgrading them, especially if they choose the shoter range weapons may simply prove a waste.  So understand that in such an army loses will be inevitable and losing a bunch of upgrade points across multiple units mounts up in elite type forces.  So always eyeball opportunities within the list to have a "Carl" whose job is simply to lead the charge, but we all know how that ends for Carl.  No sense sending him with any expensive equipment while he's at it.

I also think that because of the lack of mobility, you're going to struggle between your wish to be able to maximize the Canticles (which again are based on how many live units you have left) and the simple math of attrition.  MSU will seem the way to go with this force probably to some.  I might respectfully suggest that ten units should be your cap.  The entire army can only benefit once from a Canticle and I'd rather have twenty STR 6 Electro-Priests than 10 benefiting at a time from a combat, if you see my meaning.  UNtil I see this army played more I'll be a bit of a waffle on that list design issue but ten feels like the absolute most you should attempt to bring to the table.  Just an opinion.  Holding an objective is hard to do with tinier units and at games end I am guessing you will need every body you have left to complete the game. 

Your thoughts are welcome as well.  Any questions, comments corrections or concerns, post eem here and thanks for reading!


  1. Owning and having played a lot of cult mechanicus. Their forces are deceptively priced aND stated. While 6 destroyers granting you 36 shots of Grav at 30 inches is great, they are actually a glass cannon and less likely to earn their points back as a drop-pod centurion squad with Grav once the initial shock of Cult Mechanicus wears off of your opponents. The diffrence between Breachers and destroyers showcases the IMMENSE diffrence between the survivability of 3+ vs 4+, destroyers you won't want in the open EVER, Breachers will roll across the board like Sherman tanks their haywire S6 shots forcing saves and killing vehicles. Next are our favorite robots, Kastelans actually are a good all around troop, their shooting can possibly point and kill a 3+ squad and the 6+ reflection is amazing however smash and the relative weakness of most squads melee in 7th edition means the robots will always be looking to assault to both get a speed boost and to hopefully get away from the inevitable spam of high Strength high AP we all know eldar, tau, space marines and even guard can put out, which that brings back the value of the power fists as it adds 1 attack, and due to monstrous creature goes at inititive (f*** you terminators) also the robots make for an amazing distraction carnafex in the fact that they don't go down, and you don't shoot them and they will hit you line almost as hard as a knight would.

  2. Hey thanks for sharing your knowledge with me. In answer, I will address the comment on assault. I disagree on that end. Assault is very much a component of a solid list. sometimes you must shut something up and fast. Killing them isn't as sure as melee is. Fearless melee units are valuable for locking units down. Consider some of the units you fear most: Wraith Knights and StormSurges, Castigators and Gravgunbikes etc... The common theme here is: left alone they will do more damage so shut them up. Even if it costs you a unit, taking away 2-3 phases from such things is invaluable work. So i am not as down on that component of the game as you might feel.

    I really found this codex interesting and was a little perturbed that someone suggested they might ALREADY be working on a combination of the two Mechaniucs codex's. Sigh. Wasted money? Hope not.

    1. It's a horrible suggestion and basically only Skitarii benefit from it. They (the skitarii) having no HQ and less staying power in their basic squads than a SoB squad, while their speed is a welcome addition, the Skitarii have been a pain to properly ally when my bots do the same but almost better, or the presence of my bots means the skitarii dont get their shinny bits.
      But to showcase my own point with the kastelans as a melee first note I run them as a 2 to one 1 in favor of shooty build, but allowing them to stomp across the table and hopefully making charges with squads they had already thinned with their own shooting has brought them closer to objectives, warlords, ect than normal admech -4 speed can do, and in some case's faster than some atimes can run. While I'm biased against the electro priests (them dying before doing anything of note all thanks to blasts) they are the only unit really that you're going to "run" with...otherwise your dropping the holy Requisitionor on targets or begging someone to loan you their seraphim/drop pod/ect.

    2. yip, we'll see if they do merge them.


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