Keep Your Enemies Closer – Part 4

The first thing I notice when I return to the ship with the others is that Mott approaches me with a plan to abandon Balthazar on this planet, having had enough of his antics. Strange, I thought that I was the only one who could not stomach the Sorceror to this level and never would have imagined that Mott would be the one to set this into motion. Wholeheartedly, I naturally agree with his plot to abandon Balthazar on the planet, his antics grinding against me like the voice of an annoying, spoiled child demanding attention. Without his presence, my vision should be much clearer and more free. With this in mind, I decide to take a liberal look through his book collection, being sure to thoroughly examine each before touching them, mainly to guard against any daemonic forces that may be lurking. Knowing him, that is a huge possibility. I come to them and spend a very long time checking them over. Of course, some of the books contain daemonic essences and I make sure to stay as far away from them as possible, not even using my abilities as a telekine to pick them up. I would rather not take the risk.

After initial examinations, I start looking at the others. Any that concern the ruinous powers I leave well in place, though there seem to be a number of books concerning various alien races. I spend hours studying from these books, taking the occasional break to head to the bathroom. I keep my interaction with the others to a minimum, though they seem busy with something. I am not all that bothered at the moment with whatever it is they are getting up to. I do notice that Balthazar appears to be getting closer with a large presence in the Warp. So, he is returning with an army of daemons. He does not know of our plot to abandon him, or by all means he should not, but this makes me feel uneasy. I continue to study from the books until there is an announcement that the ship is about to take off. Balthazar and his army of daemons are still a few kilometres away, so I am feeling pretty confident about the plan. I pack all the books that are not about Chaos or their daemonic allies into my bags and head to the bridge to strap in, putting my helmet over my head. I want to feel his frustration as we abandon him. This will be beautiful.

I get to the bridge as the engines power up, smiling under my helmet as I take a seat. My expression drops as I hear the crew speaking.

“Engaging Warp drives,” one of them says to the others. I immediately stand up from my seat and storm over to them.

“No, we’re only going into orbit. You do not need to use the Warp drives to get into orbit,” I explain, grabbing the man’s shoulder. He looks around at me and an argument ensues between myself and the crew. I come from a fleet based regiment, I know these procedures and I know that this is complete trash. We argue for a while, Mott joining my side of it, until the Chaos Space Marine strides in, asking us what the problem is. We explain that the crew are being idiots and we suspect that Balthazar has some part in it, so he takes the central crew member aside to question him. Instantly, Mott jumps into the seat and plugs himself in to the ship’s computer and the Chaos Marine instructs him to head towards Balthazar’s position before leaving the bridge. Again, my expression drops and I merely take my seat. I will have to wait this one out.

We reach Balthazar and his daemon army eventually, the sheer Warp presence almost overwhelming to me. I sit quietly in my seat, observing and trying not to look uncomfortable. It is difficult. I hear the Chaos Space Marine over the vox, contacting Balthazar and telling him that if he stops his stupid antics, we will pick him up. A shiver runs down my spine, though I am quickly confident when he replies, goading his daemons into chorus. I switch off my vox unit, lest the cacophony corrupt me. The next thing that I see and hear gives me a brief moment of ecstasy, for once I am happy in this situation. I hear the ship’s naval batteries hum for a brief moment, before firing directly at Balthazar’s position. I need not even turn my vox on to enjoy the sound of naval batteries hammering the position of my enemy. I feel the daemonic presences vanishing in large swathes, as well as my worries. For once, I am happy.

The Chaos Space Marine summons myself, Sigmar, Mott and an apparent stowaway that we had picked up into a conference. He asks me to make sure that the women and children ‘do not wake up’ from being cryogenically frozen. I am glad that I am wearing a helmet, because my facial expression right now betrays the sheer horror at this idea. Mott argues the case for women and children, which I appreciate, being too shocked and disgusted to speak back for myself, though the stowaway, named Lilliana, explains that she would like to experiment on the children. I cannot stay here much longer, this is only going to get worse. I have to get out of here. Soon.

Over the course of the trip to the forge world, Mott asks me for strong tranquilisers and laxatives. When I ask him what they are for, he mentions Lilliana, the child experimenter, and I instantly oblige. When I next walk past her room a few days later, I see Mott rifling through her items with her passed out on the bed, bound using what looks like a whip used in sexual activities. I chuckle slightly, though it does not sway me from my path. I ensure to consult the skeins of fate and plot my next course of action. The forge world will be a pivotal moment for me.

Keep Your Enemies Closer – Part 3

After the initial difficulties of entering the Warp and more of Balthazar’s downright childish antics, we settle down to space travel. I feel at home with this, surprisingly. Well, as at home as I can be in the middle of a Chaos warband, pretending to be one of them. I hate this place. I hate this crew. At least I seem to have them convinced that I am an asset and not an infiltrator. This could work, and perhaps I could gain some more knowledge concerning Xenos or at least my own powers whilst I am here. To aid me in my tasks, I start to make myself a cameleoline cloak; moving unnoticed would strongly work to my advantage here. I ask Mott if he could make me a suppressor for my las weapons, to which he obliges. Surprising, but I will not complain at that.

More reverberations in the Warp. Balthazar, childish as usual. I do not know why people fear Chaos Sorcerors and their apparent powers; if Balthazar is anything to go by, as psykers they are pathetic. I shake my head and continue my work. Mott, however, seems perturbed by Balthazar’s antics. I cannot blame him. This is getting rather tedious and were I affected, I would also be rather annoyed. The days pass without much else, until the last day. Sigmar, who had been training the men, had neglected to use blank rounds during training and reported eighteen injuries that required medical attention.

“And you didn’t tell me at the time, because…?” I ask, shocked at this man’s incompetence. He tells me that he did not want to disturb me. I honestly remain speechless for a few seconds.

“I can’t believe the shit I put up with,” I mutter to myself as I walk briskly out of the room. I pass by where the troops are staying; there is no way I can treat all eighteen patients alone.

“You fifteen. With me,” I point at a group of the troops who oblige, though not all willingly. I hate being the only medically trained crew member on this ship, but equally I do not want to teach the regiment’s methods to any of these people. That knowledge should not be shared with the heretics and traitors that we fight against in the God-Emperor’s name. Some may view us as renegades, due to the Inquisition’s modus operandi, but any Kyrallian who turns his or her back on the God-Emperor… I curse to myself as I lead fifteen of the men towards the medical bay. We treat the injured, I work over time to make sure the men are combat ready as to not irritate the Chaos Space Marine. I would rather not be turned into a fine paste in his rage, so efficiency is in my best interest, for now at least.

We eventually land on Berun-Asphodael, after a brief encounter with Sigmar where he asks me whether he is a disgrace to the Imperium. I sugar coat the truth, telling him simply that he is, without speaking my mind. A disgrace to the Imperium? He defaced his armour, spent years fighting against the servants of the Emperor and is now a part of a Chaos warband. Did I really need to answer that question? He is not like me, he is far too dense to be like me. When we disembark, I scan the horizon, wearing the hood of my cameleoline cloak as opposed to my helmet. I hate being on yet another feral world, though this one is also inhabited by disgusting greenskins. I have seen enough Orks to last me multiple lifetimes, so I am not really pleased with how this situation turns out. Sigmar takes a bunch of the troops, Mott heads off into the settlement and I decide to go for a bit of reconnaissance, see what we are dealing with here. I walk around for a few minutes to find the settlement mostly deserted. Mott’s servo-skull follows me around, but I do not mind too much. If I was going to do something in privacy, I would take measures to ensure that I was not being followed, but this is just harmless reconnaissance. Upon finding nothing of note, I head back in the direction that Mott went to eventually find what looks like a tavern with a few locals inside. He seems to be finishing his interaction with them, so I casually walk up to one of them.

“Hello, I was wondering if you had any form of commerce in this settlement,” I ask curiously. He tells me that there are some areas, but not what I want. “I am a collector of sorts. I specialise in alien items, so if you have anyone who specialises in these goods, could you point me in the right direction?” I elaborate. I do not wish to share what exactly I am searching for, the knowledge in itself being dangerous. He tells me to seek out a Madame Rosie, an apparent expert on these fields. I catch up to Mott as he goes on his way to find a Guard veteran named Red, but swiftly depart to find this Madame Rosie. Mott’s servo-skull follows me for a while, though then it peels off, shortly after I feel more reverberations of Balthazar’s. That man is making my job so easy. I smile as I reach the shack and knock lightly on the door. “Hello?” I call. A woman’s voice replies, telling me to come in. I open the door and instantly my jaw drops. This is not what I meant! Last I checked, alien artifacts was not synonymous with sex implements and toys. I clear my throat and resist the temptation to just turn and walk out of the door. “Excuse me, Madame Rosie? I was told that you were the person to talk to concerning items of alien origin. I am a collector, you see,” I explain, hoping that this detour has not been a complete waste of time. She responds with her stock of whips, chains, leather clothing and other fetish related gear. I grimace under my helmet until she mentions a set of runes that had been discovered on the planet. I instantly perk up. “Runes, you say?” I inquire, taking a step closer, “may I see them? I may be interested.” She produces some runes that I am unable to make complete sense of, however they seem familiar. The iconography is different, but I swear that I witnessed Eldar seers wielding such items in battle against the Orks and Daemons on Kyral’s surface, albeit through magnoculars or a rifle scope. The uneasy alliance led to a great many things being learned and is a likely reason as to why we were declared renegades in the first place. “What do you want for them?” I ask, rather keen to get my hands on them. The woman looks at me and explains that my cameleoline cloak would be an appropriate trading item. “Deal,” I immediately respond, taking off my cloak and placing my helmet back on my head. A cloak that can be made in a few hours for priceless Eldar runes? Yet again I am beset by the ignorant and the stupid, and it pays off. I stow these runes into a pouch on my webbing and leave after saying my thanks to find Mott. I will study these later.

I catch up to him, now with a grizzled Guard veteran as well, when we hear the sounds of combat. The sound of ordnance rings out and we head to the source. When we arrive we notice that Sigmar had engaged a large horde of Orks. I immediately take up a concealed position in one of the building and begin sending accurate, single shots into the Ork horde, targeting any Weirdboys that I notice. On the vox, I tell people to target the Meks, priority on the larger ones, but my advice is largely ignored. Idiots. I am the one who has spent years fighting these greenskins, and whilst my objectives in killing off the Weirdboys are my own… I sigh and just continue to send quiet, accurate shots into the Ork horde until it is largely blown apart by the sheer amount of firepower possessed by our troops.

Our guide, Red, the Imperial Guard veteran, was ready to take us to the mines, our vehicles were prepared. We were ready to depart to the mines until we discovered that Balthazar had departed for the mines by himself. When I think of it, there was a lack of massive psychic influences and general immaturity during the day and I come to realise that he is nowhere near us. I head into the ship to catch some rest while I can, but I sense that something is about to happen for the better.

Faith and Flames – Adepta Sororitas Heavy Support

The Heavy Support section is often hailed as the most effective part of the Adepta Sororitas list. With generally more options than the other sections, which is a rather desperate state of affairs when you consider that there are only three units.

Firstly, there are the Retributor squads. Retributor squads remain largely unchanged from the White Dwarf codex, though they did take a pretty sizable hit. This came in the form of a global change to Acts of Faith; now they can only gain Rending for one Shooting phase, as opposed to trying every turn. For this squad you just have to take a Simulacrum Imperialis because their Act of Faith is so central to their effectiveness as a squad, especially if you take either heavy bolters or heavy flamers. All the unit upgrades have the same tweaks in cost as the others and each Sister costs the same as a regular Battle Sister. Essentially, it is the same as the Battle Sister unit from the Troops section, apart from in squads of up to ten, rather than up to twenty, and can take four heavy weapons with no special weapon options. My opinion? Take a squad of ten Sisters with a Simulacrum Imperialis and either four heavy bolters or heavy flamers, depending on your poison.

The next choice is the Exorcist. The same armour as a Space Marine Predator tank, choice from the Adepta Sororitas Vehicle Equipment list, the Shield of Faith global rule and a Strength 8, AP1 Heavy D6 48″ range gun. Wow. Take them. Take two. It would have been nice if Games Workshop had given them the option of getting Skyfire, as the codex has absolutely no anti-air by itself. This tank was a competitive choice before and it remains so and even for fluff-based armies like mine, it will be right at home as it is the main, and only, battle tank for the Sisters. There is not much more to say concerning this. It is just good and should always be taken. It should also be noted that this is the only thing in the entire codex with a 48″ range.

Last, and unfortunately least is the Penitent Engine. Now, by no means is this a bad choice as it is only slightly more expensive than a Razorback, but it is competing with two very solid units. Taken in squads of one to three and wielding dual Dreadnought close combat weapons with built-in heavy flamers with the Rage, Shield of Faith and Unstoppable special rules; if they get into close combat with something, they will hurt it a lot. However, getting into combat may prove problematic as this walker only has armour value 11, 11, 10 with the Open-topped special rule. They are incredibly fragile, but hit like a truck in close combat, or even just using twin heavy flamers to burn things. If you’re looking to be really cheap, or if an opponent needs to learn a lesson in humility, take nine of them in a 1000 point game. You can fit nine into 1000 points, but this would be considered rather cheap. Their drawbacks are that they are incredibly fragile and only have Initiative 3, meaning that a squad of Space Marines may just wreck you with krak grenades before you even get a chance to strike at them in close combat. This is very much a unit that falls under the category of ‘take if you want to’ as they can have amazing games where they tear through all manner of opponents, or they can have bad games where they just die in turn 1 or 2.

Heavy Support is a great section for Sisters of Battle, though in my opinion it is still lacking. The Adepta Sororitas codex overall lacks variety, when you consider that Heavy Support has more units to choose from than Elites, Troops and Fast Attack, but only has three units to take. The Eldar codex, being the only other recent codex that I own, has a total of 40 units to choose from, across all the slots on the Force Organisation Chart. Adepta Sororitas have 16. That is one hell of a difference! Overall, I am not happy with the lack of interest towards the Adepta Sororitas on Games Workshop’s part. The codex is so obviously sub-standard in comparison to that of any other army, and the fact that we only have metal miniatures that cost an arm and a leg to buy will only help to drive this really great army into the ground. People wonder why Sisters do not sell? That combination pretty much cripples any development and interest for the army.

Faith and Flames – Adepta Sororitas Fast Attack

Now we get to one of the stronger sections, the Fast Attack choices. Featuring only two units, both units are very good at performing different tasks.

Firstly, I will start with my favourite looking unit in all of Warhammer 40,000. That unit is the Seraphim squad. These are Battle Sisters with +1 Weapon Skill, a jump pack and two bolt pistols, as opposed to the usual boltgun. Their Act of Faith gives all of their weapons the Shred special rule for a single Shooting phase which works wonders with the option of dual hand flamers. The dual hand flamers is the only real build for this squad as the inferno pistols are insanely expensive, especially considering the hand flamers, the weapons that were generally taken, have decreased in points cost. Inferno pistols are a nice idea, but for a horrible number of points you get two meltas with half the range, which means that you have to be within 3″ to get the +2d6 armour penetration. Paired with the fact that the Act of Faith does not synergise well with tank hunting, it is far better to outfit Seraphim with as many dual hand flamers as possible. With Weapon Skill 4, they may just have the punch to deal with the tattered remains of whatever they wrecked in the Shooting phase by charging in the Assault phase. This is aided greatly by giving the Seraphim Superior a power weapon of some description, to personal preference, and a plasma pistol can help though is not as important; the squad also has access to the Hit and Run special rule, allowing them to charge in, fight until the next Assault phase and then break off ready for your next turn of shooting. The only real drawback of this squad is that they cannot take a Simulacrum Imperialis, so they are only able to gain the Shred special rule for one shooting phase, however they are only Initiative 3, so this is not a reliable strategy. They retain the ability to re-roll their Shield of Faith invulnerable saves, which is nice, but not game changing. I will always take a unit of Seraphim because as I said, they are the best looking unit in the entire game.

Secondly, there are Dominion squads. Dominion squads are decent at the opposite, hunting down tanks with lots of melta guns and turning them into slag. Dominions are equivalent in statistics and special rules to Battle Sister squads, apart from costing +1 point and having the Scouts special rule. Their options are also the same, apart from being able to take no heavy weapons, instead being able to take up to four special weapons, and up to five additional Dominions; they may also take the same dedicated transport options. Their Act of Faith is definitely worth getting a Simulacrum Imperialis to allow them to use it twice. For one Shooting phase all of their weapons gain the Ignores Cover special rule, meaning that your melta guns suddenly ignore whatever kind of shelter your opponent has used to keep his vehicles alive. I play Eldar and rely on my 4+ cover saves afforded by Jink and holo-fields, my Imperial Guard vehicles all use camo-netting, even my strategy for my Sisters’ tanks is to keep them largely in cover; an Act of Faith that lets you ignore cover saves means that you could very easily wreck any tank within 6″. I do not believe that the flamers or storm bolters are worth the points, as Battle Sister squads can fulfill the anti-infantry roles alongside Retributors, though Retributors will be covered in my next article on Heavy Support choice, storm bolters are generally a bad choice as a special weapon for your squad and flamers ignore cover anyway.

Personally, I believe that every army could benefit from at least one of each squad from the Fast Attack section, potentially even two squads of either one. I will be taking one of each for my own army, though I would be tempted to take two squads of Seraphim because they’re beautiful models. The advantage of Dominions looking the same as Battle Sisters is that it gives you a lot of flexibility when building your army using your miniatures, much like Space Marine armies using generic Space Marine models for a couple of their units. Fast Attack is definitely one of the stronger sections of the Adepta Sororitas codex, which is nice, but I do believe that the Heavy Support section still holds the most power. That will be for the next article though.

Keep Your Enemies Closer – Part 2

We set about town once we had gathered our forces, if they can be called that. We decide to investigate the eight-foot tall armoured figure. We do not get very far before we hear gunfire down the road. I brace myself against the wall and peer around the corner to see a bunch of our troops engaging some of the locals. I mutter a curse under my breath as Sigmar steps out with his hand raised, his other placed on his laspistol holstered on the back of his belt. One of the thugs mirrors Sigmar, though his attempts to hide a full size sword is rather entertaining, whilst leaving their intentions wide open. Useful. I take aim with my lasgun from around the corner, ready to put a lasbolt between the primitive’s eyes.

“What is the meaning of this? Why are you attacking our men?” Sigmar inquires peacefully.

“They attacked us. We’re just defending ourselves,” the primitive man spits back, quite obviously in a foul mood.

“Look, we’re sorry,” Sigmar waves placatingly, still trying to appear the good guy, “We’ll punish the one who did it, will that satisfy you?” he asks. The primitive merely shakes his head. “Well, fuck you then,” Sigmar curses, pulling his laspistol around and squeezing the trigger and sending a bolt of las energy into the man’s chest. His armour seems to absorb most of the bolt. The man then roars and charges at Sigmar. One of the mad man’s friends unloads a burst of autogun fire into the ensuing melee, catching his friend in the back though he does not seem to notice. Mott’s combat servitor charges in, chainswords whirring, to help Sigmar with the melee fight as another primitive also charges into the fray. I adjust my aim towards the one with the gun and squeeze off a couple of las shots, though before much can happen, he turns and flees, not comfortable with seeing his friends carved up by two chainsword wielding adversaries who literally tore the two primitives that they fought against into bloody ribbons. I prepare to squeeze the trigger once more on my lasgun, though there is a loud bang and his head turns into a fine mist. I hit the dirt, as is standard practice when faced with an unknown sharpshooter. I start to look in the obvious places for a sniper. The alleyway seems clear, I casually glance at the rooftops in case we are just facing an amateur with good aim but I see no one. Mott seems to be trying to talk the mayor down, both sides suspicious of one another, until the mention of the Imperium.

“Did someone say Imperial Majesty?” comes a booming voice. I look over to the source, one of the windows, to see a large, armoured figure literally walking through the wall to find Mott and the mayor. I heart skips a beat and I duck behind the corner to the alleyway. A Traitor Legionnaire? Here? His armour does not look like that of any loyalist that I have seen, a dull metallic colour with iconography that I have never seen before. He strides up to Mott and starts to speak, though I do not listen, now in a mild panic. Emperor, what do I do? I am no match for a Traitor Legionnaire. My lasgun would just bounce off his armour, whereas one shot from his behemoth of a weapon would do to me what it did to the fleeing local. I consider my options, though my train of thought is interrupted as I feel a tugging on my arm. I turn to look around and notice a young girl, no older than eight years old, sobbing and crying. I glance back to the conversation to see Mott get slapped by the Traitor Legionnaire, sending him crashing against a wall to which I recoil slightly. That certainly looked painful. I turn my attention back to the little girl.

“There, there,” I say quietly, trying to comfort the girl and stop her from crying, turning around to embrace her gently. I am no mother figure, but this is too much and is certainly no place for a child. I begin to usher her down the alleyway, away from the Chaos Space Marine. “Where are your parents? How about I take you back to them, away from this place,” I ask, stroking the girl’s hair. My blood freezes in my veins as I hear the heavy thud of footsteps getting closer to my position. The crying girl had attracted the attention of the Chaos Space Marine. I hold her tightly, keeping her curious eyes away from the sight of the Chaos Space Marine. I shut my own as I hear the sound of him unsheathing his combat knife. The girl has stopped crying by now at least, though I fear it may be short lived. I feel an inhumanly strong force taking hold of my helmeted head, tilting my gaze backwards. I open my eyes to see, the looming figure of the Chaos Space Marine standing above me with his large knife drawn. The blade gets closer and I close my eyes again. Hopefully it will be quick.

With a swift movement, he slices off the Imperial Aquila from my helmet and simply turns away, walking back towards the others. I briefly consider standing, aiming and firing as many las rounds into his back as possible for defacing my armour in such a way, but sense gets the better of me and I keep still, waiting for the steps to get a bit quieter. The girl seems to be lightly sobbing as I hear more footsteps, this time human in origin. I slowly look around to see the figure of the mayor, with a smile on his face. I take the girl’s hand and stand up.

“Excuse me, but would you know who this child’s parents are?” I inquire, barely able to get a sentence out through the feeling of fear that I had just experienced. The mayor explains that it is his daughter. Of all people, the mayor’s own daughter happened to be wandering near the battlefield. She walks over to him and a brief conversation ensues. I am not listening that much, however, much more curious as to what I am doing to do. I am stranded on this planet from where I will not be escaping alone. I deduce that my only option is to tag along with the Chaos warband. I catch up to them as they are leaving, catching the momentary gaze of the Chaos Space Marine. Emperor give me strength.

Throughout the rest of the day I do my best to keep to myself. I get to work making up some medicinal drugs in the room next door to Mott as he gets to work on weaponry. I need to keep a strong illusion that I am no more than a renegade Imperial Guard medic from a light infantry unit. I maintain concentration through my work, sustaining a psychic effort keeping a metaphorical eye on the near future and my surroundings. I do not want anyone sneaking up on me. Myself and Mott occasionally converse and exchange exasperated looks as we hear that Sigmar managed to lose one and a half thousand troops due to poisonous algae. How that man was an officer in the Imperial Guard, I will never know. The armour is scavenged and I am ordered to sterilise it. Unlike the incompetents who died, I wear gloves when handling it and sterilise them all to the best of my abilities. I am on a feral planet, so I hope they are not expecting any miracles. During the evening, I head out for a breath of fresh air and notice a horrifying spectacle. The neighbouring city, where the planetary space port was located, was raining blood. I immediately go back inside. There is a powerful, albeit irresponsible, psyker at work. I shudder at the mere thought.

Later that night, the Chaos Space Marine decides to summon us to a meeting and talk about his plan. He tells us that we are to take a hovercraft over to the city to assess the situation, gather some supplies and see how possible it is going to be for us to leave the planet. I sleep as well as I can, but I constantly wake in a sweat, my dreams plagued by nightmares of the Warp. The effects of whatever is going on over there is evident, though I remain silent the following morning as everyone prepares to leave. As I step onto the hovercraft, I aim for the controls, but turn away as a voice penetrates my mind.

“I see you,” the voice echoes, causing me to falter in my step. I turn from the controls and sit in the corner. I feel physically drained and this voice persists, but I am able to ignore it. I am not ignorant to the potential of psykers. It is obvious to me that there is another psyker at play on the island, so I will need to be at my best. I am in no condition to pilot this vehicle in this state and Mott makes the best he can of it, though he seems to falter and takes another backhand from the Chaos Space Marine, who takes over the controls. As we arrive, the Chaos Space Marine orders myself and Mott to set up a perimeter, taking Sigmar and a squad of men on some sort of reconnaissance mission. neither of us used to this, myself and Mott set about deploying the rest of the men who were left with us. We spy some bunkers which I check out and make sure are clear. This irresponsible psyker continues to try and contact me, though I do not listen. I could have saved the Chaos Space Marine a lot of time by just telling him about the psychic presence, but I would rather not tell a Traitor Legionnaire of this. Also, if he happens to die on his mission, I would consider it a boon. As we search through some buildings, we chance upon a crate of weaponry. It looks entirely normal, but I see a black aura surrounding it. I tell the men to leave it alone, but five decide to take weapons from it anyway, each pulling out a lasgun from the box. For about five seconds, they seem completely unchanged and I start to wonder if I was correct to tell people to leave it alone; however, after those five seconds, the men collapse to the floor, completely out cold. When Mott asks me to check the bodies, I go over and take a look, not touching them or even examining them. I already know what this is.

“Medically, there is nothing wrong with them. In the Guard, this situation would call for summary execution; a las round through the head,” I gesture at the unconscious men and pull out my laspistol. Mott contacts the Chaos Space Marine, not trusting my analysis as I am no expert on matters of the Warp to him. The fool. The Chaos Space Marine tells me that I am no longer in the Guard, but that I am also correct. Mott orders his servo skull to execute some of the men, unable to bring himself to do it and I dispatch the rest. I turn to the others, who seem to be eyeing the second box which, to my knowledge, has no such aura around it, but a believable lie must be consistent. I tell them to not touch the second box and this time, most of them oblige. A few, however, go up to the box and take out some weapons. I turn to face them, appearing as if I were inspecting them. Mott asks them how they feel, to which they respond that they feel just fine. “If the same happens to you as happened to these five, do not think I will hesitate to render you the same judgement,” I tell them, walking back to the coastline and back to the hovercraft. We wait for a while until the Chaos Space Marine, Sigmar and the men who went with them come rushing back. They tell us that there is a Sorceror named Balthazar who was in control of a lot more troops than we had available and, whilst they had been diverted after a small firefight, this would only buy us time. We needed to retreat for now and think of a battle plan. Again, a wave of terror swept through us. Balthazar was pulling off more psychic abilities to which I steel myself against. I do not care how powerful he is, I will not yield to such a childish practitioner. Mott seems to scurry onto the hovercraft much faster than everyone else, starting up the engines. The event proves rather taxing for me, the reverberations through the Warp constant and brutish, like an Ork pounding at the armour of a Sentinel over and over; unsophisticated and barbaric, but tiring to deal with. Some of balthazar’s men try to board our hovercraft, though they are gunned down by our own and Mott, now more comfortable with the controls either through fear, experience or both, guns the engines and we speed away. I take my position in the corner once more, slumping against the walls and cradling my head in my hands. Balthazar continues to send out messages, but by now I have no energy to expend on his constant bugging. Are we dealing with a Sorceror, or are we dealing with an amateur? The question rolls around my mind, well into our landing as the men unload the hovercraft, until there is another reverberation through the Warp. I stand up from my position and cast my gaze towards the horizon. Balthazar himself is following us on his own boat and appears to be trying to manipulate someone in our group.

“There’s a boat out there!” I call out, pointing towards Balthazar’s ship, barely visible to the human eye and surrounded by lights, which I deduce are of Warp origin. I do not, however, share this information with the others. Mott stands up.

“Corporal?” he asks curiously.

“I can see it, over there on the horizon.” Mott peers over to where I point.

“Good eyes,” he remarks.

“Light infantry. It’s one of the things we do,” I reply, shrugging as if it were nothing of note.

“Perhaps it’s my ally,” Sigmar interjects, causing Mott to draw his las carbine and aim it at Sigmar’s head.

“Corporal, arrest him. Soman, your ally?” he says warily, glancing briefly at me.

“Yes, ah… My ally. The one who spoke to me in my head,” Sigmar responded, blissfully ignorant of the mind games going on inside his head.

“Las-round to the head in the Guard, is it not, Corporal?” Mott rhetorically asks, “disarm him.” I do not know who made him the boss of me, but if he was being mind-controlled by an enemy psyker, it was in everyone’s best interests if we co-operated in this. Before I can do anything, the Chaos Space Marine strides forward.

“Stand down. We are going to negotiate,” he boomed.

“With the Sorceror?” someone asked, gaining a nod from the Chaos Space Marine. “Soman, with me. We will handle the negotiations.” He turns to us, “you may listen on the vox.” With that, our men stand down; Mott and myself retreat to a safe distance and watch as the ship docks. Another large, blue power armoured man disembarks, bearing a force sword, a daemon cage and a bolt pistol, quite obviously a Chaos Sorceror. He was greeted by the Chaos Space Marine in our group and was directed onto the hovercraft. Myself and Mott huddle around the vox unit, which we set to only receive. What we hear of the negotiations are equally amusing as they are horrifying. Balthazar’s antics had been merely to get our attention, his antics including firing at our men and causing it to rain blood from the sky. His psychic presence when he casts anything is powerful, but his usage of power is like that of a five year old. We truly are dealing with one of the most incomprehensibly childish and irresponsible psykers I have ever seen. I smile to myself under my helmet as he states that he tried to contact us through a psyker, leaving everyone clueless. For one so powerful, he is easy to defeat. Eventually, the vox link is cut and Mott and myself are left with nothing but each other’s company.

“You know,” he turns to me, “ganger activity has been rife. It would be best if we stood the men to, ready to repel them.” I chuckle and nod, and so we order the men to be ready to defend themselves. After another short while, he shares the story of why he fights the Imperium, a freedom fighter after a change of government, a tale that I can sympathise with. I in turn share my story as to why my regiment had been declared renegades, though I omit many details, such as our loyalty to the Emperor. We both look over at the daemon cage that Balthazar had left behind. Mott turns to me once again, after we both take a while to gaze uneasily at the cage. “You know,” he starts, “I have a demo charge.” I smile and tap my helmet.

“Keep your cards close to your chest,” I reply with a smirk, though my helmet fully obscures my facial expression. What I do not tell him is that using a demolition charge on a daemon cage would likely just set it free, which is bad for everyone. All we can do then is sit and wait. I fall asleep much easier this time, a combination of physical and mental exhaustion, as well as the lack of Warp entities entering my dreams.

The following morning, we pack up and board a ship that appears to belong to Balthazar. I hesitate in going along with this plan, but it is my only way off this planet and this all-powerful Sorceror seems very easy to out maneuver. I will stay with them as long as it serves my purpose, but I need to get back to Imperial space. The longer I am here, the more corrupting powers of Chaos I will be exposed to and the less likely I will be able to return. As we take off, I feel an overwhelming wave in the Warp. I do not need to look out of any windows to know what just happened. All the people that we left behind were ritually sacrificed by Balthazar to aid our transit into the Warp. Being from a fleet based regiment, I know that this was entirely unnecessary and honestly horrifying. I feel the bile rise in my throat and I rush to the women’s toilets. I spend a while throwing up with a pounding headache, the screams of thousands of souls being sacrificed to the Warp overwhelms my senses and my constitution. I have never felt this terrible in my life.

Just as I finish, I make sure to clean the latrines to the standards that I had found them in. I do not want to raise suspicions and go to exploring the ship. I eventually find the workshop where Mott appears to set up and decide to set up in the corner. I would much rather sleep in the knowledge that there is a chainsword wielding combat servitor watching over me on this ship. I would prefer to not wake up with a Chaos Sorceror probing my mind, although if he did I would probably notice. That man is about as subtle as an Ork Deff Dread or squad of Shootas.

Then I learn that we are heading to a planet with a huge Ork problem. Emperor… Why me?

Faith and Flames – Adepta Sororitas Troops and Dedicated Transports

So, the Troops section. The main concentration of your army. The main units for holding objectives, most of the time the only units that can do so. A section that should, in any list, feature a lot of squads so that you may control multiple objectives and accumulate victory points. Therefore, one would hope that these units would contain some decent units, right? I audibly sigh as I write this opening paragraph. Sisters have but one Troops choice, the humble Battle Sister squad.

Battle Sister squads have definitely been improved since the White Dwarf codex for one massive reason: we can now take squads of 5 Sisters. Surely this is a blessing from the Emperor as he declared that the Ecclesiarchy was being idiotic in sending out Sisters of Battle in large squads, sometimes with dedicated transports that cannot even house them. Now we can take squads of 5 Sisters as a minimum and do not have to take a Veteran Sister Superior. They may still take a special weapon, heavy weapon or further special weapon and equipment on either the Sister Superior or Veteran Sister Superior, depending on which you choose to take. The Simulacrum Imperialis and the heavy flamer have both halved in cost, though the heavy bolter has been brought up to the same cost as the other codices. This means that many different types of weapon load-outs can be used. Firstly, there is the simple ‘sit on objective’ squad. This consists of 5 Sisters, one heavy bolter and a Simulacrum Imperialis. It is horrendously cheap, gives you a Ballistic Skill 4 heavy bolter and has a 3+ armour save to just sit on an objective in your deployment zone. There is also the spam type squads, again consisting of 5 Sisters but this time with one of two choices. Either giving your squad a heavy flamer, a flamer, a Simulacrum, a combi-flamer on the Sister Superior if you feel so inclined and putting them in an Immolator with twin-linked heavy flamers. This is a 145 or 155 point unit, depending on whether or not you go with a combi-flamer as well, with a ridiculous number of template weapons. You can also do the same, but replace all mentions of flamer with melta and you have a ludicrous number of anti-vehicle in one squad. Being an Eldar player as well, I find that specialisation serves better than generalisation, so potentially a mix of the types would work. I have yet to try this tactic out myself as I would need more Immolators, but I could see it being fun to field. There is also the potential to take up to 20 Battle Sisters in a single squad, though I believe that they lose effectiveness past 10. It is best to take two squads of 10 Sisters than a single squad of 20, as there is a lot more flexibility without giving away too many kill points. I believe that Battle Sisters benefit greatly from dedicated transports, depending on their squad size. Their faith power is mediocre, though it actually has some use. For a single shooting or assault phase, you can give your Sisters the Preferred Enemy special rule, allowing you to re-roll 1s. Very useful, hence I would advise taking a Simulacrum in these units as re-rolls of any kind are always welcomed.

On the topic of dedicated transports, we have the Rhino and the Immolator. The former is near-identical to the Space Marine equivalent, having the same armour value, same hull points, same equipment and the Repair special rule. Where it differs is in the fact that it can take from the Adepta Sororitas Vehicle Equipment list, allowing for such things as Laud Hailers, which grant re-rolls to Act of Faith leadership checks, a very useful boon as it means that, on Leadership 8+, you will almost definitely manage to get your Acts of Faith off when you want. It is also 5 points more expensive, but sports the Shield of Faith special rule. 5+ Deny the Witch, which I am not even sure works as I have yet to see a psychic power target a vehicle, and a 6+ invulnerable save. Nothing to rely on, but it could just save you from that lascannon penetrating hit and cause your opponent to reconsider his or her faith in whatever heretical power they believe in. Surely, the Emperor protects!

The Immolator, on the other hand, is what would happen if the Adepta Sororitas got a Razorback. Again, same armour, same hull points, same transport capacity, same Ballistic Skill, but 5 points more expensive for the Shield of Faith special rule and able to take from the Adepta Sororitas Vehicle Equipment list. However, it also largely changes in weapon options. Being of the Adepta Sororitas, your weapon options are either a twin-linked heavy bolter, much like the Space Marines, or the choice of a twin-linked heavy flamer or twin-linked multi-melta, neither of which will cost you any points. For me, this is wonderful as it means that I can put multi-meltas on them and have relentless, twin-linked multi-meltas. As long as they do not get shot, an Immolator can dish out a lot of pain, depending on how it is outfitted. Heavy flamers often spell its demise if not supported, as most units have krak grenade equivalents or at least Strength 4 in melee. Multi-meltas give some nice, short ranged anti-vehicle firepower on a fragile frame. Heavy bolters give some decent range, but lack the sheer amount of stopping power as the other two options; the Adepta Sororitas excel at short range firefights, so in my opinion that is where they should concentrate their efforts.

Adepta Sororitas hurt for Troops. Anyone who faces them know that they will come across at least two squads of Battle Sisters, probably more as games get larger, so it is very easy to counter. In my opinion, we really need our Inquisitorial units back to add some variation to the codex, as well as options beyond Battle Sister derivatives. If there is one thing that I have noticed so far about the codex, it is that it lacks any variation and everything is much the same with a few different rules. Hopefully things will look up in the next two articles as we examine the two sections that were previously very strong. Fingers are firmly crossed here!

Faith and Flames – Adepta Sororitas Elites

The Elites section of the old White Dwarf codex was a little lacking. Celestians just could not justify their points cost and Repentia went from being a massive joke to a suicide squad. Past these two squads, that is all we used to have for Elites. First, I shall talk about Celestians.

Celestians are your veteran sisters. They are the same as old-school Space Marine veterans, back before they were split into Vanguard and Sternguard variants, in the Sister of Battle list. They have the same statistics as a normal Battle Sister, except with +1 Attack and +1 Leadership. In my opinion, they have become a lot worse. True, they have dropped to 14 points, but their Act of Faith is horrendously bad. Now, for one turn, they get the Furious Charge skill. In my opinion, this is a terrible Act of Faith. They, if they charge, become Strength 4 for a single turn which means that they may not horribly mess up in melee combat for that phase. They do, however, remain Initiative 3, so some of your elite Battle Sisters will probably be killed before they can do anything. From a fluff perspective, they are a wonderful addition to any army and I personally take one unit in most scenarios; they are, however, competitively a waste of points that could be spent better elsewhere. Their effectiveness at range is decent, however they shoot just as well as their non-elite Sisters whilst costing more. They can take identical upgrades as Battle Sister squads, being a special weapon, a heavy or special weapon, a Simulacrum Imperialis and the Celestian Superior could take melta bombs, Melee Weapons and Ranged Weapons from the armoury. They may take a dedicated transport of either a Rhino or Immolator which, in my opinion, is largely worth it due to their very small points and potential to get more heavy weapons mounted on vehicles. A lot of people take hordes, so a lot of people gear their armies against lots of infantry. When you show up with a load of tanks, it forces your opponent to think on their feet and puts you in a comfortable position. This is entirely hypothetical as I have yet to field this and have not played enough games to make accurate guesses as to the current meta. Also, the meta in one place is likely to be different to the meta in the other, so this could be a terrible strategy for some as much as it would be amazing for others.

Finally, because the Adepta Sororitas codex only contains two Elites choices, we come to the Sisters Repentia. Repentia have, in my opinion, been nerfed. The largest punch to the face is that they have lost their Feel No Pain special rule, which made them not just die quite as much, now only possessing a 6+ invulnerable save due to Shield of Faith. They still have Rage, Fearless and Fleet, their Act of Faith gives them 3+ Feel No Pain which makes them incredibly durable for one Assault phase and they all still wield eviscerators. They may now take their own dedicated transport which you will always do for this squad. If you do not put them in a Rhino, they will be wiped out in the first or second turn due to having only Toughness 3 and a 6+ invulnerable save; they make Howling Banshees look durable, which should never, ever happen. For 14 points per model, they can not withstand any firepower from any unit unless driven into the opponents face using an equally suicidal Rhino. Taking this squad will likely give your opponent First Blood, so it should be seriously considered when thinking about taking this unit.

All in all, I like taking a squad of Celestians for fluff reasons, but otherwise I tend to stay away from Elites in general. They are expensive and largely inefficient for their points cost, but very apt for most fluff based armies. Competitively, they are rather terrible and pale in comparison to units later on in the codex, but that is for another article.

Keep Calm and Purge Heretics. Preferably with plenty of flamers.

Faith and Flames – Adepta Sororitas HQs and Armoury

Down to the details of the codex itself, the first section we shall look at are the HQs, as well as the equipment and relics in the armoury section as the HQs generally have the most access to these. Overall, I do not mind the HQ section, though there are places where I believe it could improve. One place it could improve is a general, overarching theme with the codex which can only be summed up as ‘give us our Inquisition choices back’. However, these gripes are mildly off-topic so without further delay, I shall dive into what we do have.

As I will be referencing the Ecclesiarchy Relics often, I will briefly outline them here to save on space. Firstly, there’s the Book of St. Lucius. This gives a 12″ bubble of Fear ignoring and auto-regrouping. It is cheap, has a useful effect, but as you can only take one Ecclesiarchy relic, it is largely overshadowed by the others. Litanies of Faith give the bearer, the bearer’s unit and any other independent characters that have joined the unit the ability to automatically pass their Act of Faith or War Hymn Leadership checks. Useless in my opinion as the general Leadership of the Sisters is high, around 8 or 9 for most units and with so many other ways of buffing Acts of Faith, I feel that this is not only a waste of points, but also a waste of your one Ecclesiarchy Relic that you can take. The Cloak of St. Aspira gives the bearer the ability to re-roll armour and invulnerable saves, which is rather nice, but again I feel it is overshadowed by other items. The Mace of Valaan is only available to Ministorum Priests and is essentially just an expensive, master-crafted power maul with the Chaos Bane special rule, giving it Armourbane and Fleshbane when within 6″ of one or more models with the Daemon special rule. Considering that Ministorum Priests are pretty weak anyway, being more like Warlocks are for Eldar in the sense that they are not HQs as much as unit leaders, I do not see why anyone would take this when there are better choices out there that you can take on more important models. The Mantle of Ophelia is simple, but expensive. It gives the bearer the Eternal Warrior special rule which can help a lot, though it is only worth taking on the Canoness as Ministorum Priests only have 1 Wound anyway. Finally, we have the Blade of Admonition. This is my favourite Ecclesiarchy Relic, though that could be because it reminds me of the old Blessed Weapon in the Witch Hunters codex. It is a master-crafted power sword that adds +2 to the wielder’s Strength. For me, if I were to take an Ecclesiarchy Relic, it would be a toss up between the Cloak of St. Aspira, the Mantle of Ophelia or the Blade of Admonition on my Canoness.

Firstly, the Canoness. For people who enjoy building a fluff friendly army, this is a necessity as the Canoness is the military leader of the Convent. If you dislike using special characters, this is your only HQ choice! She is a mere 65 points and sports a lower-than-average stat line when compared to the commanders of most armies, but for her points I would say she is worthwhile, but not exactly a powerful choice. Her Act of Faith, named The Passion, gives her and her unit the Hatred special rule, which is nothing to write home about, but it could swing a round of close combat so that you do not horribly fail; Sisters of Battle are not the best army for melee combat. Her starting wargear consists of power armour, a bolt pistol which she may exchange for a boltgun, a chainsword and frag and krak grenades. She has all the special rules that you would expect of a Sister of Battle, plus Stubborn and Martyrdom which, on Leadership 10, is rather useful for sticking around. Her options are a rosarius for 15 points, getting a 10 point reduction, which I would always take, giving her a 4+ invulnerable save as opposed to her 6+ granted through Shield of Faith, and melta-bombs for 5 points which, again, I always take. She may then choose items from the Melee Weapons, Ranged Weapons and Ecclesiarchy Relics lists. This means that she an replace her bolt pistol and chainsword with any two of the following: A power weapons, which I think is a no-brainer as you can give her a power maul, sword or axe depending on preference; an eviscerator, effectively giving her a two-handed chainfist, which is not worth it in my opinion since they removed the Act of Faith that added +2 to your strength and let you insta-kill Space Marine HQs; a storm bolter, which is not worth it in my opinion; a combi-flamer, -melta or -plasma which, again, I do not see as being worth it; a condemnor boltgun, which is effectively a middle finger to psykers, functioning as a combi weapon where the combi part of it causes perils if it hits; a plasma pistol which is an all around decent choice, or an inferno pistol which is just too short ranged for my liking. The Ecclesiarchy Relics are, whilst competitive, something I will not be touching in anything below around 2500 point games. Why would a small force of Sisters be entrusted with such a relic? As a result, anything I say here is purely hypothetical, so take my words with a pinch of salt. As stated before, for a Canoness it would have to be either the Cloak of St. Aspira for armour and invulnerable save re-rolls, the Mantle of Ophelia to stop her getting flattened by Strength 6+ weapons or the Blade of Admonition so that she may carve heretics up at Strength 5 AP3 in melee. My real opinion though? Take a Canoness with a rosarius, melta bombs, power weapon of choice and a plasma pistol at the most. That’s a solid leader of the Sisterhood for a whopping 110 points. Some HQs start at more points than that without any equipment!

Next I will cover the Sororitas Command Squad. You make take one per Canoness in your army and it does not use up a slot on the Force Organisation chart. My opinion on this bodyguard unit is that you take it and do not question your choice ever. It starts rather cheap, consisting of 5 Celestians with no upgrades, but you should take upgrades for them, even if just using them to soak up bullets. In my opinion, this squad can be outfitted in a couple of ways. Firstly, the bullet sponge; you upgrade one Celestian to a Hospitaller, giving the squad Feel No Pain for 10 points and leave it otherwise untouched. 75 points for Feel No Pain and power armour? I’ll take it, but remember that anything Strength 6+ will ignore the poor Hospitaller’s attempts at tending to wounds. Another way is to use them as a 12″ buff bubble, giving the squad a Hospitaller to aid survival, because 10 points for Feel No Pain is worth it almost all the time, and a Dialogus for re-rolls to your Acts of Faith within 12″. You can, and should, also take either a blessed standard, granting re-rolls to Morale, Fear and Pinning checks, or a Sacred Banner of the Order Militant for hilarious trolling, limited to one per army. The latter grants the same 12″ bubble as the blessed standard, however it also grants every model within the bubble +1 Attack. That means that your Celestians have 3 Attacks each as standard. Cluster up nicely, unless there are lots of blast weapons on the other side of the board, and enjoy Ork levels of attacks from your Sisters. Pair with a Repentia unit for hilarious amounts of rage as your opponent realises that he or she is about to get a righteous ass-kickin’ in close combat against Sisters of Battle. Whoever said that we could not fight in close combat? The third way to do it is to death star. As any of the Celestians may take anything from the Melee Weapons, Ranged Weapons, Special Weapons and/or Heavy Weapons you could just outfit all five with heavy bolters, or power weapons and the loadout mentioned above. This, however, will attract a lot of firepower and will likely die, being Toughness 3 with a 3+ armour save. Also, the Dialogus can take Ecclesiarcy Relics. Do not take Ecclesiarchy Relics on a Dialogus. The Emperor disapproves of this. This is one of the few squads where a Simulacrum Imperialis is not a must-buy, as their Act of Faith is not that great and this unit has much better ways of being used.

Next up are the Ministorum Priests. To put it briefly, I do not like them. You pay 25 points for a Guardsman’s stats, +1 Attack, a rosarius and some close combat buffing powers. Actually, forget that, I just read what they do. Ministorum Priests are great when put in a unit like Repentia, Battle Conclaves or Celestians. They give the unit they are in the Fearless and Hatred special rules and one of their War Hymns allows them to re-roll their To Wound dice in close combat, something that Sisters really need at Strength 3. Another allows them to re-roll all failed armour and invulnerable saves, which makes all non-Repentia units rather durable with re-rolls to power armour saves, though the third that allows the Ministorum Priest to use the Smash special rule is rather useless. He is not there to do damage and thus should not be given any upgrades whatsoever, least of all should be Ecclesiarchy Relics, and should never accept challenges, he should hide behind his unit and inspire them with his War Hymns. You may take up to 5 in one detachment and they do not take up an HQ slot. Take one per close combat squad you have in your army as he is cheap and offers some really handy buffs in assault. Pair with the banner discussed above for more tear drinking goodness. His War Hymns, however, are not too reliable, requiring a Leadership check on his rather paltry Leadership of 7 that do not gain re-rolls from a Laud Hailer. They are, however, capable of being used more than once. Just cross your fingers and hope that something does not get stuck in his throat when you need his oratory the most.

Following up from the Ministorum Priest is the Battle Conclave, a unit that can be taken once per Ministorum Priest and does not use up a slot on the Force Organisation Chart. A great unit to accompany a Ministorum Priest into battle, though rather pricey when considering all the upgrades that they require to really be good. There are only two real ways to take this group. Crusaders at the front for potentially re-rolling 3+ invulnerable saves due to storm shields and the Ministorum Priest’s rantings and the rest as Death Cult Assassins to hand out the pain to MEQs or Arco-flagellants to kick hordes about with a storm of attacks at Strength 5. Paired with the Sororitas Command Squad’s banner of +1 Attack goodness, Death Cult Assassins get 5 Attacks on the charge with power swords at Strength 4, but Arco-flagellants get 6 Attacks at Strength 5 that do not ignore armour. Depending on what you need beaten up in close combat, a Ministorum Priest in a Battle Conclave will kill whatever gets into combat with it with the exception of units like Genestealers. A very painful combination, but rather pricey, although a 200 point close combat death squad is definitely worth taking, at least for counter-assault tactics. Beware though, they are all Toughness 3 with generally bad saves, barring the Crusaders’ 3+ invulnerable, so large amounts of boltgun or lasgun fire will whittle them down quickly. They can also take a Rhino or Immolator as a Dedicated Transport. In my opinion, it is generally always a good idea to take a Rhino as they are so cheap and provide some mobile line of sight blocking at the very least.

Now, onto special characters. Firstly, I will visit everyone’s favourite HQ. She’s like Marmite, you either love her, or you hate her; heretics gonna hate, I guess. Yes, it is Saint Celestine. A lot of non-Sisters players, translation: the unclean and impure, will rejoice that she has been toned down. Her points cost has gone up by twenty points and her resurrection ability has also been toned down, now unable to constantly resurrect every time she gets knocked down. Now her resurrection mechanic is an Act of Faith, so a Leadership 10 check that can be re-rolled if she is within 12″ of a Laud Hailer and she automatically returns with all her Wounds replenished. This does, however, only happen once. She can only revive after the first time she gets killed and with Toughness 3 and no Eternal Warrior, this is very possible. Her Warlord Trait is preset to the 12″ bubble that allow everyone within the bubble to use her Leadership for Acts of Faith or War Hymns, her weapon no longer auto-wounds on a 4+, sporting a Strength +2, AP3 master crafted power sword which still includes a heavy flamer. Think the Blade of Admonition with a heavy flamer attached and you have Saint Celestine’s weapon. She is still a very worthwhile HQ choice in competitive lists, taken with a squad of Seraphim as Uriah Jacobus watches over the slow units, but she is a special character and for that reason alone, I will not be taking her.

Uriah Jacobus, I am not a fan of. He’s a better Ministorum Priest that costs four times as much. His shotgun is fairly weak, his Warlord trait is fixed at improving the Shield of Faith invulnerable save to a 5+ for him and his unit and his banner is not game changing, as Ministorum Priests can spread Fearless to squads a lot better than he can without blobbing up. His special rule “Protector of the Faith” is quite nice as it gives more faith powers, but would I take him in my army? Probably not, as he is a special character. He synergises fairly well with Celestine as they are very different types of HQs, but I just have a severe dislike of him. A lot of people swear by him as an HQ choice, but I do not see the allure. Perhaps because he is a more reliable Ministorum Priest at Leadership 9 with more buffs? I could see him working, but I could not see him working in my list, where I only really need two Ministorum Priests to spread their abilities. He does, however, allow you to take a Battle Conclave as Ministorum Priests do, which is a bonus.

Overall, the HQ section of the codex is not great from a competitive perspective. For me, it is acceptable for a fluff friendly army as all you need is a Canoness and her Sororitas Command Squad, but it is not as central to the army as, for example, an Eldar Farseer or an Imperial Guard Command Squad. The Ecclesiarchy Relics are fun and give you the potential to make your Canoness fairly competent in close combat, though no other units in the HQ section should ever take Ecclesiarchy Relics. I like how few points the Canoness with all her equipment has become and I will definitely be working on converting a Canoness with a power sword and a plasma pistol to lead my Sisters to glory or martyrdom in the Emperor’s name!

Death to the heretics! Cleanse them in fiery retribution, my Sisters! In the Emperor’s name!

Codex: Adepta Sororitas – First Impressions and Global Rules

Hooray! The Daughters of the Emperor finally get some love from Games Workshop! It may not be the same amount of love as all the other armies get, but it is at least some attention. As you may already know, the new Adepta Sororitas codex was released at midnight and those of us who pre-ordered it have had a little time to have a quick look through by now. I will be doing the same for the Sisters of Battle as I did for the Eldar when they had a re-release; I will start with a first impressions look, which will be this article, and then take a detailed look at each unit, dedicating an article per slot on the force organisation chart.

So, what do I think of the codex on the whole?

I honestly dislike the fact that it is a digital codex. I like my hard copy to flick through and would gladly pay that extra bit for a tangible codex as opposed to, what I deem, a bit of a cop-out codex. The pages are very plain, lacking the same design style of the hardback codices, such as the Eldar book where the pages all had that blueish tinge to them, alongside the border and pronounced page numbers. If I were to be brutally honest, the whole codex looks like something that I could have put together in LaTeX in a week or so. The plain black text on a plain white background, occasionally interspersed between the occasional picture, looks rather amateurish. The titles of each section is consistent, which I believe is a good thing, however it is the only part that stands out, featuring some mild decoration and page styling which is very easy to point out where it starts and ends, looking like the designers just pasted a premade picture for the title above the plain black text. Even its White Dwarf predecessor had styled pages, featuring a beige, parchment style on each of the pages. This codex is just a large, aesthetic disappointment.

Secondly, the content. The content itself is largely accurate. I have only skimmed over what has been written and will undoubtedly have a longer, more in-depth read later down the road, but what I have seen is largely good. There is a section, named “876.M41 The Bloodtide Martyrs” that comes across as very awkward. Some of you reading this article will understand why this is a touchy subject for a lot of Sisters fans, but for those who do not know, I will elaborate. Basically, Chaos comes to the Basilica of St. Mariel on the planet Van Horne when a Bloodthirster corrupts virtually the whole planet and turns it into a massive orgy of blood. A single convent of Sisters remains pure, their faith being so strong that they resist the daemonic influences. The Grey Knights are dispatched to the planet and, instead of rallying the faithful Sisters behind them and kicking some daemonic backsides, instantly slaughter all of the Sisters of Battle and use their blood to anoint their armour, to protect themselves from the daemonic corruption. This is mere pages after the same book states that Grey Knights are immune to daemonic corruption anyway due to being the Imperium’s daemon killers! This part of the codex comes across with a sense of shame, in the same sense that an inbred family does not go around flaunting their heritage, despite questions being asked about this fact. Terrible analogies aside, this small part of the codex comes across with the same awkwardness when it is left obviously vague, stating that “every Battle Sister on the planet [had] been killed. The slain [were] officially elevated into the ranks of the honoured martyrs in the eyes of the Sisterhood.” I may not know a lot about martyrdom, but I do not believe that being stabbed in the back by your allies and then being used for armour paint is the kind of martyrdom that Sisters aspire to. Long story short, the only way to stop a Khornate blood orgy is to make another blood orgy and then stab them with force weapons. That and being in-bred is bad.

The artwork, I have to say, is quite good. The front cover is well drawn and the numerous pictures among the bland text makes the codex readable. A lot of the artwork is very well drawn, though some of it is a copy-paste job from the third edition Witch Hunters codex, which in my opinion is still the best Sisters codex to date. My favourite picture in the whole codex is either the picture of what I assume to be a Canoness, as it is at the end of the Canoness’s rules, striding out of a temple, or the picture of the Arco-flagellant looking incredibly like something from a cyberpunk graphic novel. I am not an authority on art, but as this is a first impressions article, my first impressions of the illustrations are good, unlike the actual text and design that it is sandwiched between.

The global rules have seen a buff, in my opinion. Now not only does the Shield of Faith rule incorporate a 6+ invulnerable save, but it also adds in the Adamantium Will special rule from the Warhammer 40,000 rulebook. This means that most of your units are going to be enjoying at least a 5+ for any and all Deny the Witch roles as this adds +1 to your roll. In addition, faith points are gone. This is both a blessing and a curse and I will outline why. it is a blessing as Acts of Faith have become a lot more reliable, now testing on a leadership test instead of the terrible 5+ on a die roll; considering your Sisters of Battle units will have a minimum of Leadership 8, 9 if you take a veteran superior, the chances of pulling off an Act of Faith have dramatically increased. However, the new rules are also a curse as you can only do an Act of Faith once, and no unit can do more than one per turn. Whilst this is partially mitigated by the Simulacrum Imperialis allowing you to perform an Act of Faith twice per game, units like Retributors have become less useful. I will cover each unit in detail in future articles, so more will be discussed concerning this as Sisters of Battle have always revolved around faith powers. The third special rule is the Martyrdom special rule. If your Warlord has this rule and is slain, all friendly units wholly comprised of models with the Act of Faith special rule automatically pass all Leadership tests until the end of your next turn. For me, this is a very inconsequential rule, as I often strive to not lose my Warlord, however it is a nice buff if things go south during a game.

Having our own Warlord Traits is a nice addition, which for the most part are very solid. One gives your Warlord the Fear special rule, another increases your Warlord and her unit’s Shield of Faith invulnerable save to a 5+, another lets you re-roll Deny the Witch roles that target your Warlord and her unit, another gives her the Rage special rule (in before sexist jokes), another allows all units within 12″ of the Warlord to use her Leadership for Acts of Faith and the last gives all models within 12″ of the Warlord the Stubborn special rule. For me, all of those rules are going to see use, which is something that I am unable to say for my Eldar.

The Adepta Sororitas codex also features an armoury system similar to the Space Marine codex, though more light will be shed on this when I cover units. What I can say is that, whilst I would rather have the old armoury system of third and fourth edition, this is a step in the right direction and gives a lot more customisation options and new opportunities for people like myself who love to convert our models. There is also a section for Ecclesiarchy Relics, the typical one-per-army powerful pieces of wargear that I will not be taking ever. Why would my small band of Sisters be entrusted with such a relic for a comparatively trivial task?

Finally, there is the Altar of War section. I really like this section as it gives three Sisters themed missions that you can play with your opponent. These could be used to fuel a heavily narrative based game, or spice up a campaign that you may be partaking in. Thematically, these missions make a lot of sense as “you would expect to fight a very different sort of battle as an Adepta Sororitas Canoness than you would as an Ork Warboss.” These missions try to give that feeling, which is a nice touch in my opinion.

Overall, the codex is not a terrible codex. The content is generally good and it adds some nice flavour to the Sisters of Battle as a whole, which we were in dire need of. The design still leaves a bitter taste as I do not feel that £19.99 is a fair price for something so poorly designed and so aesthetically sub-par, but I shall look on the bright side. It is a sign that Games Workshop are not just going to retcon the Sisters out of existence. Now if only we could get some plastic model kits so it became affordable to actually play this awesome army…

Keep Your Enemies Closer – Part 1

A second attempt at turning a pen and paper campaign into first person narrative. This time, however, I can do it on a week-by-week basis as opposed to all at once. Hooray! (saying that, I’m two weeks behind and have the third session coming up tomorrow)

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I sit in my jail cell alone. The air is damp, the atmosphere reeks of hopelessness. I clutch my Uplifting Primer tightly and close my eyes. Emperor give me strength. I sit alone in my cell, surrounded by criminals, heretics and traitors with only my Uplifting Primer and faith in Him to comfort me, waiting for my turn to confess my false sins and fabricated lies. When an innocent is interrogated, no truths will be settled on. I cannot blame them though. I do not blame them. I was brought in by the Inquisition, after all. My pleas of innocence in this matter will fall on deaf ears. I ask myself, who would I trust? The Inquisition or a Guardswoman from a regiment that nobody knows who is accused of being a traitor? An alleged traitor, or members of an order who answer to the Emperor himself? I know who I would trust in their shoes, and unfortunately it leaves me out to dry.

I hear the sound of footsteps down the corridor. I try to get a good view of what is going on. I hear one of the guards arguing with a pair of prisoners a cell or two down the hall. He is a new recruit, judging by his voice. I merely sigh and continue to read through my Uplifting Primer, though I continue to overhear part of the conversation which causes me to giggle slightly as I read. First time I have laughed in a while.

“Hey, you,” comes a voice from outside my cell. I look up to see the guard looking in on me. I stand up, straightening my fatigues a little.

“Yes, officer?” I answer politely, taking a step closer to the bars, but keeping my distance as to avoid random beatings.

“We have an offer if you’re willing to hear it,” he continues. I keep my finger in the page I was at in my Primer and raise my eyebrow.

“Of course,” I reply, keeping my demeanour constant. This restraining collar clouds my vision, leaving me unable to see what he wants so that I may formulate an adequate response.

“Do you wish freedom?” he asks, his arms folded.

“Who doesn’t?” I respond rhetorically.

“Do you wish to serve the Emperor?” he continues. I wonder if this guy is for real, but I do not need my gifted vision to see that this will not continue to be all wonderful.

“Of course. My life is to serve our Emperor,” I answer, still trying to look as harmless as possible. At this point, I am not even lying.

“Then you agree to let us take you to the Inquisition’s Black Ships?” he inquires, a grin now on his face. I sigh and shake my head.

“The Black Ships are designated for psykers. I would serve no purpose by going there,” I reply with a frown, shaking my head as I sit back on my bed. The guard also frowns.

“When your turn comes you’ll wish you just accepted our generous offer.” He walks off again. The Black Ships? Generous? The ignorance of these guards astounds me. I sit back down on my bed and continue reading my Primer for a while before I hear an explosion somewhere, feeling the vibrations reverberate through the walls and bars of my cell. I stand up from my bed again and rush to the front of my cell to try and understand what is going on. There is panic everywhere as inmates start to notice water flowing in, the level rising at a slow but steady pace. The same people who were arguing with a guard seem to be debating something again, though I am unable to make out the exact words over the cacophony of panic that has taken root over the prison. After a brief discussion, the guard lets them out of their cell, before coming over to mine and opening the door. Early interrogation? Or the Inquisition do not want their precious captives being drowned too early.

I follow the arbite alongside a scrawny looking man and a robed individual seems to blather at the guard, pointless words spilling from his mouth. I look around and notice one thing: there are no other guards watching us. This psychic inhibitor has clouded my vision, but perhaps… I deem it is worth a try. I reach out to his shotgun with my mind. I feel the textures of the grip, the holster, the cold metallic edges. This clouds my vision, but not my mental prowess. Wonderful. I look at the ground, a sombre look on my face as I move the shotgun slowly, but surely, out of the holster, getting it to fall almost literally into the scrawny, grey haired man’s hands. He takes control of the shotgun and I wait for him to pull the trigger, point blank into the guard’s back. I wait. I wait. He is hesitating. I am about to grab the gun from him before he pulls the trigger with a dull click. The gun jams.

“Excuse me. I think you dropped this,” the man uttered, I grimace and start to think about how else I could escape from this situation, but the man smacks the arbite with the butt of the rifle. He hits the floor hard and I immediately go over and grab the laspistol from his belt.

“Get his key and hide the body,” I hastily say, looking up at the other two who seem to be exchanging some brief words and passing the shotgun between the themselves. We take the keys from his belt and decide to quickly set about freeing the prisoners, if only for a distraction to aid our escape, before dragging the arbite’s unconscious body to a now unoccupied cell and one of them kills him as I ensure to stop the blood from flowing too much. Nothing leads you to a dead body like a blood trail. We briefly exchange names before going on our way; the robed man is a tech priest named Mott and the grey-haired one, Sigmar Soman, some military family aristocrat. I should be more phased. We just murdered one of the God-Emperor’s servants for no just reason. For no real reason, come to think of it. I mutter a quiet prayer under my breath, out of earshot of the others. I do not know what they are in here for, so I naturally do not trust them.  We continue along, following signs that we believe lead us to an armoury. I do hope that my equipment is still here. Us Kyrallians do not have the privilege of great forge worlds and manufactorums, our equipment is important; perhaps even sacred to us. Mott fiddles with the locks, though he seems unable to open the lock before Sigmar eventually steps forwards, taking the keycard we lifted from the guard before and sliding it neatly into a slot on the door. Mott and I exchange mildly embarrassed expressions before we all head in. Sure enough, the room is an armoury and we all set about arming ourselves. I manage to locate my flak armour and weaponry, ditching the guard’s laspistol and grabbing my own, along with my lasgun. I quickly slip into my flak armour, standard Imperial Guard uniform, and attach my webbing, ensuring all of my medical gear is still present. It feels good to be back in my armour, though I notice the other two seem to take a micro-bead each as well. Primitive though it may be, I also take one and fix it over my ear before I slip my fully sealed helmet over my head. Back in the regiment, we communicated psychically, not using easy to intercept electronics. I will acquiesce to the wishes of these two for now, if only to aid in the disguise. Sigmar now wielded a fancy looking boltgun, an equally fancy chainsword and an officer’s breastplate, though it had been largely defaced.

We continue to head upwards, pandemonium now spread across the lower levels. We dispatch another, more senior looking guard with a volley of fire, though it is mainly Sigmar’s boltgun that tears into the poor, unsuspecting man. I mutter another prayer to the Emperor as we repeat the process of taking his keycard and some more keys that we use to unlock even more cells. We eventually reach another room that appears to contain a large metal detector guarding some boxes. I remove all of my metallic items, as Sigmar seems to hesitate again, and step through the detector; it is obvious that the tech priest could not remove all metal objects from his person as Sigmar or myself, and I would rather we did not trigger unnecessary security systems. I quickly browse the boxes and shut down all the security features in the room before gesturing at the others to enter as I pick up all of my metallic equipment once more. One box contained what appeared to be tech priest mechadendrites, units and keys that I can only imagine fit devices like the collar around my neck. I rifle through the box as Mott seems to re-attach parts of himself, giving out disturbingly pleasured sighs. No matter, my task is to find the key that fits my collar. I try three before one clicks into place and the collar falls off. A breath a sigh of relief. It is as if a veil has been lifted from before my eyes and I can see clearly once more. I immediately cast my gaze to the immediate future and tell Mott that the last crate is not worth bothering about. Truth be told, it is because of what I foresee. A gory end at the hands of a servitor wielding a chainsword. I grimace slightly and make my way to the door, it is never easy to cast one’s gaze into the future and see their own potential demise. I am about to reach the door, just as Mott opens up the last crate and a servitor pops out, chainswords whirring. I take a further step away from it, aim my lasgun and crack off a single shot. If the others had listened to me and not opened the box, we would not be in this situation, caught in a small room with a servitor that wants to acquaint its chainswords with our torsos. I am locked into this course now, so I just have to make sure that it does not cleave me in two. Sigmar half draws his own, rather elaborate looking chainsword, though the servitor charges straight at him. He tries to dodge its swing, though the chainsword connects, cutting through his equally elaborate carapace armour and tears into his flesh. He lets out cry and seems to just lose it, swinging his chainsword at the servitor with frightening force, carving a great gash into the man-machine. Mott seems to be watching the servitor quite closely before running towards it with a shock maul, making unintelligible noises at it. I am unable to hide my surprise when it seems to stand down and stop attacking. I take another few steps back before I send a wave of telekinetic force at the servitor’s leg, causing it to fall over amidst the chaos as Sigmar’s second swing goes over its head. Mott now takes a position over the servitor and Sigmar looks at him like he is an enemy. He is about to swing his chainsword down upon the tech priest before I call out to him, verbally and mentally. His mind is weak, full of exploitable clauses and I focus on making my spoken words sound sweet to his ears.

“Calm down! I’m a medic and that wound needs tending to. I can’t help you if you’re swinging around like that,” I call out to him, running over as I take out my medi-kit. Breathing hard, he lowers his chainsword and lets me tend to his wounds. I make sure there are no infections and bandage him up as Mott tends to the servitor. It was just a cover up though. I notice out of the corner of my eye that we have attracted quite some attention. Hordes of bedraggled prisoners seem to be looking in on us, so I wave and walk up to them. Mott and Sigmar start arguing once again, this time over Sigmar owing the servitor an apology.

“Can I help you?” I ask the nearest prisoner. We exchange a few words, though it is mostly pointless. That is, until he mentions two scary men. I look behind me, identifying one of them being Sigmar, but I do not know of a second, so I ask about it as Mott proudly strolls out of the room with his new ‘child’ as he calls it.

“And there was this figure in armour. About eight feet tall. I saw it running.” My expression behind my helmet drops instantly. The description matches that of a member of the Adeptus Astartes, the Emperor’s chosen, the Space Marines; though I do not know why a loyalist Space Marine would be running around a prison like this one by himself. I have never seen a member of the traitorous Astartes, having only fought with cultists and daemonic allies in the past, though the description would fit them as well, I imagine. Could the forces of Chaos be working on this planet? I shudder at the thought.

“What colour was his armour?” I hazard, though no one could answer. This situation just became a lot more complex. At that point, Mott strides up to where I was standing.

“Pass round the spare weapons. Who has combat experience?” A few people raise their hands and we worked to arm and armour as many of the combat capable inmates as possible before heading to the top and the exit to the surface. I thought that I would be more excited to see the open sky, but the sight of a red sky and eerily calm waters was unnerving; not to mention the fact that we were sinking with no life-boats remaining. Sigmar clambers to the top of the nearby watchtower, though the prison-ship rocked suddenly, despite the complete absence of winds. Mott inquires as to why the boat rocked, to which one of the locals responds that there is a large creature called the Leviathan that lived in the bottomless waters of the world. Primitive folk-tales or truth, we have no time to give it thought. Our ship was sinking and we needed to reach land soon.

Mott, his servo skull and I set about finding the controls to the ship and, once we had found them, begun piloting the sinking behemoth. The controls are surprisingly similar to those of the scout sentinels that I had piloted with the regiment and Mott seemed to get his side under control with equal efficiency. We rather quickly make it to another settlement, with Sigmar standing amidst all of our apparently trained Imperial soldiers. Not much more intimidation was needed than that for the locals to let us in, though they did not have much space to offer us. When we mention the God-Emperor, the town mayor seems clueless. My expression drops again, though luckily I am wearing a fully face concealing helmet. Mott decides that our band needs a name and, having all met on the Magellan frigate, comes upon the name ‘The Brotherhood of the Magellan’. I cough with a grin and we decide on the ‘Magellanites’ though I do not plan on keeping with this merry band of traitors and heretics to the end. Speaking of which, I need to cast my gaze to the future, to try and ascertain who this wandering Chaos Space Marine could be and how best to avoid him.

Emperor be my light in the darkness.