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…