Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Sisters of Battle sacrificed for Ward?

This is not so much a review as something which has come to mind lately. Many Warhammer 40,000 players reading this will know of the general opinions of Matt Ward and what he has done in each codex. Those of you who don’t he’s created the two worst written armies in the last several decades, both of which can easily win just about any battle they get into. They’re called the fifth edition Blood Angels and Grey Knights.
The armies he does not like tend to get shunted to one side and are either presented as incompetent or reduced to simpering fanboys for his favourites. One force above all others has suffered badly under him: the Sisters of Battle.

In the fifth edition they have suffered humiliating defeat after betrayal after mass slaughter. A few examples of what they have suffered are:
-         An entire Order of their number being utterly slaughtered/corrupted by a Slanneshi Keeper of Secrets (As told in a short story within the Black Library magazine)
-         98% of their number being retconned out of existence due to a small paragraph within the Fifth Edition Rule Book. (Contributed by Matt Ward)
-         A whole shrine-world of Sisters killed by daemon. Said daemon shrugs off meltas, meltabombs and multiple Exorcist volleys, a Living Saint even gives up her divinity to stop it, and only manages to slow it down. It's destroyed instantly when a Marine throws a thunder hammer at it. Though in fairness it killed plenty of marines as well. (Firedrake audio book)
-         An entire detachment of Sisters are found fighting a chaos item which spawns something called the Bloodtide. It violates their bodies, massacres them and despite this a few are holding on and remaining pure due to their faith. The Grey Knights then turn up and butcher the loyal Sisters in a heretical ritual, paint their armour with their blood so their faith can protect them (apparently forgetting they are already incorruptible) and banish the daemon. (Fifth Edition Grey Knights codex by Matt Ward)

With the worst of those two incidents being written by Ward, you can imagine how the fandom felt when he took over writing their new codex. A White Dwarf codex which was apparently squirted out because the Necrons have been delayed by a month.

It goes without saying that the whole thing blew chunks and the Sisters are now arguably the worst Warhammer 40,000 army aside from the Tau. To add to this they have lost almost all of their special characters, given to the Grey Knights, and they are obviously being phased out. There is no word on them getting new models, no mention of them being updated to Finecast and they are being scapegoated to make new armies look more formidable at every stage. The thing is, I think they’re being phased out for Ward’s armies rather than anything like unpopularity.

Think about this for a moment: He writes the Grey Knights as being the only militant force used by the Inquisition and gives them almost all of the Witch Hunters special characters.

He then gives the following to his new Blood Angels:
>makes them a religious themed army balancing faith and rage
>gives them inferno pistols and lots of fire themed weapons
>from the skies assault squads with a focus on pistols
>flamethrower centric assault tanks
>assault dreadnoughts with flamers that are better than the pseudo assault dreadnought
>The Sanguinor, a winged spiritual figure who appear in times of great need.
>angel themed every god damned thing, down to winged jump packs
>eviscerators given to special troops and characters
>rage-filled fallen battle siblings who seek to die in assault.

The Blood Angels and Sisters are practically mirror images of one another, right down to a Saint Celestine rip-off. There were always similarities bettween them, but Ward has made them all but completely identical. 
Speaking personally, I think they’re being phased out because Ward wanted to give his caricatures of armies all their best traits and characters. Considering all he has done in the past, it would not be beyond a hack like him to try something like this.


  1. Ye Olde Ordo Hereticus5 September 2011 at 01:18

    Suddenly it's all too @#$%&-ing clear! I finally get back into the brilliance of 40K, only to find that some jackass has stripped my army of everything that made it worthy and heaped it onto the two most cheddar-laden forces in the Imperium...awesome...

    1. Bravo, i think that you have summed it up perfectly, M.W is a DICK

  2. Bit Harsh really.

    I will agree that ward has certainly let his imagination run away in the BA and GK books, at the expense of balance, but I don't think that the new WD 'dex for Sisters is all that bad in viability terms, its just severely lacking in options.

    For example, Conclaves are probably one of the deadlist assault units in the Imperium, Jacobus and Kyrinov are a rediculous steal at 90 points a pop, Dominions are one of the best sucide units in the game and how many other armies can have 3 Mutli meltas in a relentless 'free' FOC slot unit?

    A lot of people were complaining at the removal of attached guard regiments and loss of Storm Troopers as cheap scoring units, however that all seems to make sense now with Sisters being battle brothers with Guard, thus you actually have MORE choice now in what to include. It would appear that the release of 6th edition and the inclusion of allies force GW's hand into releasing a 'stop-gap' codex update to ensure there were no clashes with the new rules.

    As for phasing out, there are new PLASTIC battle sisters sat in warehouses ready for distribution in 2013, Which I assmue will herald the release of a new, proper codex.

    Fear not, the time for repentance is at hand...

    1. "Let his imagination run away"? That is all you have to say about it? He writes some of the worst scribbling I have seen in any tabletop game in my twelve years of avidly playing just about everything I can get my hands on.
      He dumbs down everything he gets his hands on, turns anything he has a problem with into outcasts, mutants or steals whatever he finds useful in them and then kills them en mass. He created the Sanguinor, a blatant rip off. He created Draigo, a badly written mary sue character who even a twelve year old on a sugar high would stop and think "wait, that's stupid" while reading it. He doesn't care about balance, he doesn't care about making good gaming or decent rules, he just cares about writing whatever the hell he likes and ignoring the consequences.

      The Sisters codex isn't just lacking in variety, it's only half done. The faith system makes them unreliable, the codex itself is damn near impossible to get via legal means and just about all their characters have been stolen by a man who verbally masturbates over his favorite army at the drop of a hat.
      For every strength you have listed, and they are strengths, the Sisters have had at least one thing nerfed. The Canoness is an overpriced joke now. Penitent Engines are even more unreliable than they were in the third edition. Immolators have few to no benefits for taking them lacking firepoints, no option to move and shoot and a low transport capacity. Celestians fall to bits in melee even faster than Devastators or Sniper Drones and require you to expend faith points just to become moderately effective. Preachers are completely and utterly useless as a choice. And finally the only halfway good tank they might have has to be bought from Forge World.
      Can a skilled person make them win? Certainly. But you're left with an army which you're having to spend even more than usual on for each unit, limited choices, and every time someone brings a Land Raider or enough tanks you're utterly screwed most times.

      The removal of Guard regiments and additional forces was a major blow to the list and removed it of a lot of much needed flexibility. While the update might have repaired some of the damage it also shows a continual bias and dislike for the force. They are only battle brothers with the Imperial Guard. The space marine chapters they share ideologies with? Don't count. The Inquisition, a force they have been written to ally with in almost every tale they are in? Don't count. The Grey Knights, a force which, in the last piece of proper fluff written for them, they have mutual respect for one another and understand one another's devotion through faith? Don't count.
      The allies force might be a step up, but it’s not a step forwards or goes to any great length in repairing all the damage done to the Sisters of Battle in the last four years.

      GW's hand wasn't forced into releasing a stop gap update, lord knows they've never felt rushed to do so with almost any codex before now, it was a rushed codex update to keep people distracted when their shiny new Space Tomb Kings were delayed. If they cared so much we would have seen something far similar for the Black Templars and Tau long ago. Hell, if they cared they would have stamped down on Ward and prevented him writing fluff after he brought back Codex: Ultramarines in all but name.

      If the rumour of Sisters receiving plastic models proved to be true it might be a step forwards and a sign they are being kept. But it wouldn’t be a sign Games Workshop would be going any further to correct their status as the universal sacrificial lion and whipping girl for every force they need to look strong.

      Repentance is not at hand. When Games Workshop gets its head out of its arse, starts to treat both the army and its customers well again, and keeps the defiler of fluff which has mimicked or outright stolen almost all they have away from any writing duties – Then, and only then, would that be a sign that things are genuinely improving.