The codex is out, but what do I think? Is it time to shelve the Sisters, or are we looking at a revitalized army?
Well rather then spoil my thoughts here I'm going to tackle this one section at a time and give my impressions of this thing as I go. I'll be comparing things to their 5th edition counterparts to make things easier to relate to, so if you have that but not the new one yet, you can follow along and have an idea what I'm talking about. What follows are my unfiltered thoughts, though I will try to keep from getting to rant heavy. So let's dig into this and look at what we've got.
First things first, there are no new units. A lot of things changed at least a little though, some changed a lot and weirdly enough we managed to lose somethings. I'll go into details as we go though:
The Codex in General
Moving on from the general fluff we also get a number of Wars of Faith, and yes the Bloodtide gets mentioned. Every Sister who died there was made an honored martyr so they gained at little in their deaths.
From the unit descriptions we gain our first insight into some changes in the book. Gone now are the Confessors and in their place are Ministorum Priests, formly an Elites choice, these are now an HQ choice. But more on their other changes later.
Our second major change that we see here is Kyrinov is missing. Instead he gets some fluff in the book but he's sadly gone. Fret not though, his model isn't useless as we'll see later.
Special RulesYes, the special rules got a revamp, so let's take a look.
Act of FaithSo here's the big one: there are no longer Faith Points. Period. No rolling every turn, no worries about scaling, they're just gone. And with them went the 5th edition way of testing as well. Good news right?
Well, depends on your point of view regarding the fluff I guess as we now take leadership checks as if we where activating psychic powers. I can see some folks getting upset about this but I'm indifferent as they aren't psychic powers, they just activate the same way now.
As it stands, all Acts of Faith have a limit to 1 use. Now there are ways I'll cover later how you can get some extra uses, but generally speaking, each unit can use their Act once. So while the Acts are now more reliable, you get to use them less often. I'm okay with this as it builds in a limiter into the army to keep us from spamming the powers and using them tactically instead.
Now here's the real bad news: if you fail that leadership test the unit loses that Act of Faith attempt. It can't get it back. Thankfully there is wargear to help with this too.
Shield of FaithDid you like the 5th Edition Shield of Faith that gives you a 6++ Invulnerable save? How about the 5+ to stop psychic powers that Codex: Witch Hunters gave you? Well now you get both. Enjoy that Adamantium Will!
MatrydomAn old rule with a new spin, if a model with this rule is your warlord and they are removed as casualty all friendly units who consist entirely of models with the Acts of Faith rule automatically pass all Leadership checks. So yes, this means if your HQ with Matyrdom goes down you get a free turn of passing Faith Tests.
War Hymns (Priests/Jacobus)During the fight sub-phase models with this rule may choose to take a leadership test, if they pass they can activate one of 3 War Hymns, each which have their own special rules:
- Re-roll all failed armor and invunerable saves
- The Priest gains the Smash special rule until end of phase
- The Priest and his unit re-roll all failed to wound rolls until end of phase
Warlord TraitsI'm not going to get too in depth on each trait, but here's the list and my thoughts:
- Warlord causes Fear - Yes, the mandatory fear option. It's not a great option if you play against Marines a lot, but against other armies you at least get a chance to actually use it.
- Warlord's (and the unit they're attached too) Shield of Faith becomes a 5+ - I like this one. Sure it's not powerful, but it's a nice buff there and it makes Shield of Faith a little more handy
- Warlord's unit re-rolls failed Deny the Witch rolls - This one I see being less useful. Cool, but less consistently useful.
- Warlord has Rage - I like this one, a LOT. Getting extra attacks in combat is always fun.
- Friendly models in 12" use the Warlord's leadership value (if it's higher than the unit's) when making Act of Faith or War Hymns Leadership tests. - I rather dig this one as it's one of the ways to help make those Acts of Faith more useful since the Canoness and Celestine are both Leadership 10. Priests not so much.
- All friendly models within 12" of the Warlord have the Stubborn special rule. This does not override Fearless though, Fearless units stay Fearless. - Again, another good rule that just makes the army better. This one gets a thumbs up from me too.
WargearI'm not going to dig too deep here as most of this hasn't changed too much but there are a couple things that are different:
- Condemner Boltgun - Yup, this is still in, and now it forces a unit with a model with the \ Psyker, Brotherhood of Psykers or Psychic Pilot rule to suffer a Perils of the Warp upon being hit, in addition to any other damage. Not a bad improvement.
- Arco-Flail - The Arco-Flagellant's weapon of choice, these are now specialist weapons, and the model has 2 (by the rules too!). So yeah, extra attack there.
- Neural Whip - Now only Strength: User, this is also a specialist weapon but has a new rule: against non-vehicle units with leadership values lower than 8 it has the Shred special rule. And if there is more than one leadership value in the unit you use the majority leadership value. Frankly I think this got a lot better now.
- Blessed Standard - Friendly units in 12" re-roll faith Morale, Fear and Pinning. Not bad.
- Laud Hailer - Remember how I said there was a way to buy more reliable Act of Faith attempts? This is how you do it. All friendly units within 12" of a model with a Laud Hailer re-roll failed Leadership tests when attempting Acts of Faith. It's in the vehicle wargear too.
- Simulacrum Imperialis - Remember how I said you could buy second Act of Faith uses/attempts? This is how you do it. The downside is if the model carrying it dies the unit loses all ability to use their Act of Faith for the rest of the game (attached Independent Characters who have Acts of Faith are unaffected).
RelicsWe have some old options returning! I was rather excited when the preview came out, though the rules aren't quite as exciting as I'd hoped for some of these.
- Litanies of Faith - The model with this, their unit and any Independent Characters with Acts of Faith or War Hymns automatically pass all leadership tests to activate them.
- Cloak of St. Aspira - The wearer re-rolls all failed armor saves and Shield of Faith invulnerable saving throws. Yeah, no 2+ saves anymore.
- Mantle of Ophelia - Eternal Warrior. I like as before this was a 1 use item and now works all the time.
- Blade of Admonition - It's a mastercrafted Relic Blade that doesn't count as a two-handed weapon. Weeeeee. Yeah, not impressed on that one. Oh, and the Canoness is the only HQ who can buy this.
- Book of St. Lucius - All friendly units in 12" auto-pass Fear or Regroup tests they need to make. Another nice item for keeping the army together.
- Sacred Banner of the Order Militant - Same as the Blessed Standard but it also adds +1 Attack to it. Not too bad I think.
- Mace of Valaan - This is a nasty bit of work and is the reason why Kyrinov isn't a useless model. It's a power maul with mastercrafted and a rule called Chaos Bane which gives the wielder Fleshbane and Armorbane when its within 6" of one or model with the Daemon special rule. This is the kind of thing I was hoping for with the Blade of Admonition, something that really feels like a really awesome and rare weapon.
The GalleryI rather like and dislike this gallery. The pictures are nice and detailed and look like some of them might be new, but at the same time there isn't a single 360 view for any of them which tells me if any new pictures were taken as quickly as possible.
The Army List
WargearOnly a couple big notes here, first is that the Eviscerator has gone even further up in points. For the low low price of 30 points this thing is not likely to be purchased for the 3 models who can take it (Canoness, Seraphim Superior and Priests only). So not only has it gotten worse, but it didn't even become more available.
The second is The Blade of Admonition replaces a single weapon carried by the Canoness but the Mace of Valaan doesn't. I can only assume that that it's a possible error. And relics seem to be limited to 1 per model (and of course 1 per army). I'm not sure how I feel about this honestly.
HQsSaint Celestine has gone up 20 points, Miraculous Intervention is now an Act of Faith (and yes, is only one use, so no tanking her forever) which brings her back with full wounds, in exchange she gains Hit and Run, and Matryrdom and her sword in close combat is now +2S and AP3 and Mastercrafted. She has the Warlord trait that allows units to use her leadership for Faith Tests.
Jacobus has gone up 10 points, can use a bonus Act of Faith automatically and can do this even if the Simulacrum has been died. He also has the Matrydom, Zealot and War Hymns special rules, comes with the 5+ Shield of Faith special rule and his banner now gives friendly models in 12" Fearless and Counter-Attack.
The Canoness has become the cheap Warlord option less, not because of a point break, but instead because the Special Characters went up in cost. Her Rosarious is now a delightful 10 points cheaper and her Act of Faith now gives Hatred and can even be used on the opponent's turn.
Sororitas Command Squads are now made of 5 Celestians, may take the Blessed Standard or the Sacred Banner and a Simulcrum. Any model not upgraded to be a Dialogus (who can take items from the Relic list) or a Hospitaller make take Melee, Ranged, Special and/or Heavy Weapons (so yes, you can give all of them power weapons if you wish). Their Act of Faith now gives them Fleet, Move through Cover and Crusader.
Ministorum Priests are 20 points cheaper than their previous versions, but lose 1 poinf of Initiative in exchange for Zealot and War Hymns. You may take up to 5 in a single detachment (they don't take up a FOC slot, and don't count as mandatory HQs anymore). Each one unlocks a Battle Conclave unit. And yes, they can take Relics too.
Ecclesiarchy Battle Conclaves are now made up of 10 point Arco-Flagellants, but those can be upgraded to a Crusader or Death Cult Assassin (both of which are now locked to Power Swords so any conversions you've made now only look cool and nothing else). On the flip side you have the ability to spam up to 60 Arco-Flagellants on the board through Priests and Jacobus for 600 points (plus the costs of the Priests, Jacobus and whatever you put on them). While not practical it does make for what might be the best massed screening option the codex can pull.
TroopsQuite sadly Battle Sister Squads are indeed the only option here. Though they can be taken in units as small as 5, the Simulacrum is now half its old cost and the Heavy Flamer has gone down to 10 points as well so not all of it is bad (the Heavy Bolter went up to 10 though so there was a bit of a trader there). Their Act of Faith now gives them the Preferred Enemy special rule in either your shooting phase or either assault phase. They can also take a Special and a Special or Heavy at any squad size (which goes to 20), so 9+Priest might be a common build in the future for people looking to hold objectives without breaking.
Dedicated TransportsRhinos went up 5 points. Apparently GW decided that we couldn't have a free 6++ on them anymore. They can now take Laud Hailers again so it's not all bad.
Immolators went down 5 points (did this just get shuffled onto the Rhino?), the Heavy Flamer is still basically broken, the Heavy Bolter lost it's re-roll to wound ammo, and the Multi-Melta is now a free option. It does not have any Firepoints because someone at GW apparently forgets that's what the back hatch is for though. It too has access to the Laud Hailer.
ElitesCelestians are 10 points cheaper base, and a point cheaper per model. Other than that, they get Furious Charge now for their Act of Faith.
Repentia went down 5 points base, but are now 3 points cheaper per model (making them cost less than half as much as the Eviscerator they're carrying). They now have access to dedicated transports, and their Act of Faith which gives them Feel no Pain on a 3+. Otherwise they don't have it anymore. Despite getting cheaper mine might be sitting in the case more often now.
Fast AttackSeraphim also went down 5 points base, but stayed the same for points per model. They now have to buy their Superior but hand flamers went down to half price so overall most people will see a point break on this unit. Angelic Visage now only gives a re-roll on Shield of Faith saves (and no, they can't buy an Simulacrum). Strangely the wargear section says the Seraphim Superior can take an Eviscerator, but the unit entry doesn't give her access to the Melee Wargear list. I expect that to get an errata one way or the other eventually. Their Act of Faith now gives them Shred.
Dominions went down 5 points base. but stayed the same for purchasing extra models. 4 Dominions can take Specials, even at the base unit size and their Act of Faith gives them the Ignores Cover special rule.
Heavy SupportRetributors are 5 points cheaper base, but still cost the same for extra models. Their Act of Faith gives Rending.
Exorcists are 10 points cheaper (11 if you count the free Searchlight) and otherwise unchanged.
Penitent Engines went down 5 points, but now only have 3 attacks base. Otherwise they have no other changes.
Altar of WarNone of these are new, but it's nice to see the rules make it back into the game. There are 3 missions and all of them are pretty interesting so if you haven't seen these before I won't spoil them.
ApocalypseAh yes, Stern makes her artwork appearance here, which seems fitting honestly. There are only 3 formations so let's give them a quick rundown:
Purge Squadron - 3-6 Immolators with 3-6 Retributor Squads (all of which need 4 heavy weapons which must include a heavy flamer, bolter and a multi-melta, the last one is a second of any of the three options). Models in this formation are Relentless have a special shooting attack called the Wall of Fire and a rule called Fire and Faith which allows any unit to succeed their AoF to give the Wall of Fire shooting attack the Rending Special Rule.
Repentant Host - Ever want to put large numbers of Repentia and Penitent Engines on the table? This is the formation for you! Consisting of 3+ units of Repentia (10 models each) and 3+ Penitent Engines this formation has Rampage, It Will Not Die and gets to re-roll all Feel no Pain rolls.
Angelic Host - Made of Celestine and 2-5 Seraphim Squads (of 10 models each) this formation is Fearless, can deep strike at the start of any friendly turn (and gains Shred the turn they do so) and re-rolls all Invunerable saves. Not a bad gig really.
Final ThoughtsHonestly there are a few things I don't particularly like. The lack of availability of Eviscerators still bothers me, as does their points cost increase. Similarly the points cost increase feels a bit jarring and almost like we're being punished seeing as we gained nothing really to show for it in return.
On the other hand changes like what where done to Celestine and Jacobus feel right, the Canoness looks more attractive as an HQ option and there are parts of this book I really like. The general points cost drops work for me and despite the limitations of the new Acts of Faith system it doesn't really feel all that off.
I'm not saying I'm sold on this book just yet, but I am definitely giving it a solid chance and I'm willing to see where it goes.
Though some Skyfire built into the book would have been nice.