Welcome to part two. For the lore, please click here.
The further in we go to this book, the more confusing it gets. While there is obviously an intent, and a general idea to use it as a single auxiliary codex, many of the choices here are very suspect to say the least. In some cases, you have a few squads who make thematic sense to join a bigger army.
After all, the Inquisition, Deathwatch and Officio Assassinorum? Those make sense, as we have all seen them link up with bigger militaries in the past. There are plenty of stories depicting kill teams and strike forces backed up by anything from an individual warrior to a few dozen of each detachment. If you stretch things, you can even argue that the Adeptus Mechanicus have their place here for the same reasons, and that the Legion of the Damned might be justified as they have been shown to respond to multiple war zones bereft of the astartes.
The others though? Not so much.
The Grey Knights here are just baffling, as they have typically kept largely to themselves and will only link up with Inquisitorial troops. Plus, ever since they were re-written, they have been presented as only hitting targets en mass and in force, rather than sending in single squads. The Aeronautica Imperialis are such a necessary and widespread organisation that featuring them as a minor bonus seems redundant to say the least, and they are already featured quite heavily with the Imperial Guard. Then we have the Adeptus Astra Telepathica, who would be kept on a tight leash to say the least. Even trusted and sanctioned as they are, masses of Astropaths and psykers would not simply be tacked onto an army at the drop of a hat. Even ignoring the obvious dangers, and need for someone to shoot them in the head if one should succumb to daemonic infestation, this is an asset too valued to simply be tacked onto an army. Plus, and like the previous example, this is a unit already heavily integrated into the Imperial Guard and other forces.
Then we reach the pinnacle of ridiculousness, with almost the entirety of the Adepta Sororitas being shoved into this book. Really, this undermines the entire point of the codex built up thus far: To feature small, bonus figures and squads to combine into a bigger army. Shoving an entire army into this book is not only self-defeating, but it's quite frankly insulting to Sororitas players in more ways than one. Yes, we'll get to that reason in a minute.
Between the choice of squads, the selection of special rules and how the codex itself has been structured, it seems less thrown together than constantly rewritten. This is just a personal theory, but much of the book looks as if it repeatedly changed direction as it was being produced. At first it looks as if it was supposed to feature individual squads, flexible and dynamic choices to add onto other armies as a good alternative to certain units or to give it some flavour. Then, going from how many specialist troops started to appear, it almost looked as if this codex was trying to be an army of various armies. We have a force that exists purely to help provide airborne transports and another to provide massive attack walkers. Then, given how the entirety of the Inquisition and Sororitas were tossed in, it almost looks like it became an excuse to shove the online exclusive forces into a published book.
So, in short, it's a mess. A big one which was cobbled together from too many varied and different ideas; until it unfortunately just becomes a half-done book which recycles far too many old set-pieces and not enough thought to help cement them into a coherent unit.
Because of this book's unique nature - rehashing many, many units from other books - the structure here is going to be a little different than usual. While we will be going through them section by section as usual, with detailed analysis of their special rules and relics, the rest will be more of just a general examination. It won't be a unit-by-unit examination so much as a look into how they would function with this "army" and can offer a bigger force when taken on their own strengths.
So, with that done, on with the show.
Forces of the Cult Mechanicus
There are few direct or actual special rules here outside of the Canticles of the Omnissiah, which was lifted from Codex: Cult Mechanicus. The rules themselves effectively boil down to a series of semi-random special rules and buffs, which help to give the units here a few general benefits. Rather than relying upon random number tables it instead hinges upon the number of units it is affecting at a time. So, let's say that the player activates the Invocation of Machine-Might to buff the Strength of the forces involved. If it's activated on one to three units, it's just a +1 bonus, but add it to eight or more, and you have +3 Strength to all involved. So, yes, that's Strength 6 Servitors.
Each one only lasts for a single turn, and it's intended to be used as a very rapid buff. In effect, it's a far more focused and widespread version of the Ultramarines' chapter traits, intended to scale with the size of the army. However, the weaknesses of that design are evident here more than anywhere else. Limit it to a small scale detachment, or even one where you can only take certain units, and it not only reduces it to a series of minor buffs, but many of them become relatively useless. In this particular case, you're never going to have more than two Mechanicus units present at a time to help augment another army. As such in this particular case you're limited to the weakest version of these Canticles, and the units here are never going to require bonus Strength or melee capabilities.
Overall, it's a good if very general idea for a system, but one which is hampered by an extremely flawed execution.
The Mechanicus units players are limited to this time around consist of the Tech-Priest Engineseer and a group of Servitors, with each taking up an HQ and Elites slot respectively. Unfortunately, as you can't have one without the other, (both due to the mini-formation and the risk of mindlocking the Servitors and leaving them at a standstill) this does mean you're limiting you're lumbered with an HQ choice you might not want, just for a bit of extra firepower. It's less an auxiliary force thanks to this and more a very small part of an army which has been tacked on.
It also doesn't help that neither squad choice is all that interesting. The Servitors have very middling stat and, save for the options to take two heavy weapons with the unit, not all that much firepower. The Engineseer is largely the same, and many upgrades such as melta bombs run counter to his low Toughness and the fact you'll likely want to keep him out of harm's way. As such, this combined unit has one specific use above all others - To repair tanks. While you can throw them into combat, there are dozens of far more effective units in this regard, and many of their bonuses link to repairing tanks or other machines. As such, this is largely an aspect of the codex which can only be recommended for heavily mechanized lists, or players wanting to give certain artillery pieces a little more durability. It has its place, but it's more suited to armoured companies than anything else.
Nada. Next please!
Unlike the above example, there's little in the way of truly dynamic or expansive special rules this time. Instead, what we have is a series of upgrades and bonuses to help any troops using these things, each carried over from the Imperial Guard book. For grav-chutes make a return allowing for rapid disembarkation from the vehicles, and the twin killers of Hellstrike Missiles and Rocket Pods have been listed. There are ultimately no changes of any real note here from the past codex, and the weapons themselves are just a one-to-one translation of the past book's own listings.
The actual mini-formation itself has the command benefit of re-rolling your own reserves, which can stack against the positive buffs noted below.
Now, this is where things get more than a little odd, as the writers seemed to have skipped something obvious. We have an Officer of the Fleet here, conferring his usual bonuses (+1 to all allied rolls on Reserves, -1 to all enemy rolls on Reserves, the usual useful things based on Leadership tests) and the usual airborne APCs known as the Valkyries. So, where's the rest of it? Really, given this book and quite a few other armies lack a devoted strike fighter, would it really have taken all that much to add in the Vendettas as well? As this is supposed to represent the full support and capabilities of the Aeronautica Corps, it seems odd that they would be limited to an airborne taxi service.
Still, the actual idea here honestly isn't all that bad. The Imperial Guard have always benefited from a more diverse and varied force on par with the astartes themselves, and the Valkyries would definitely benefit quite a few otherwise grounded armies. The Officer of the Fleet is also a useful bonus for just twenty points, and while there's little reason to upgrade him beyond the Refractor Field, his sheer presence is something quite a few people could easily benefit from.
Honestly, this one is actually one of the better formations on here and many armies who typically lack Fast Attack choices can benefit from this addition. It's just bizarre that there's no truly offensive option to help back it up.
Adeptus Astra Telepathica
Once again, there's little to nothing here in terms of special rules worthy of any note. Most of the more unique elements have just been carried over from the individual unit rules, such as Commissars shooting psykers who are about to go nuts. There aren't even any truly unique upgrades this time around, and the only thing which could be counted at all is the sole Command Benefit "Empyric Luck" to bolster troops. In effect, it's the use of having the psykers augment one another to a lesser degree than what we've seen in Wrath of Magnus. If there's a Primaris Psyker or Astropath within 12" of five Wyrdvane Psykers, they automatically harness Warp Charges on 3+.
There's nothing inherently wrong with the Command Benefit, and it will be quite useful to many people, it's just that there's little to really comment upon here.
Imperial Psykers have typically always been glass cannons save for the likes of Inquisitors or the odd Librarian. This is true again here, where most of the units have a very basic stats line save for the Primaris Psyker, who retains two wounds, two attacks, and both WS and BS 4. It has also very clearly been built with the idea of focusing upon only the big name psykers, while the smaller guys are used as living resonators rather than heavy hitters. While they certainly can spam psychic powers at Mastery Level 1, but they have access to a wide variety of disciplines, from Biomancy and Pyromancy to Divination and Telekinesis. By comparison, the Astropath is limited to Divination and Telepathy, while the Primaris Psyker retains all the spells of his underlings.
Given the increasingly psychic based focus of the game, this sort of upgrade is far from bad, and the fact the writers managed to offer something limited yet versatile is definitely appreciated. After all, you have to somewhat carefully consider how you are going to use them, certain units only have access to certain spells, and the fact they can't take too many hits means you can't simply lob them into battle. This is definitely made for fans who want to take a mob of mind-bullet lobbing freaks without the need for two Imperial Guard Veteran Squads and a Lord Commissar to be purchased first.
Nothing bad, but nothing great overall, it's just a generally nice attachment for some armies.
Oh boy, this one is not fun to look at. The Sisters of Battle have been badly mistreated over the last ten years, so seeing them rolled up into this codex in what's effectively a job-lot codex was not a good sign. The fact that the previous formations and listings we have examined lacked any real edits or upgrades made things all the worse, especially given how lacking the Sisters are in terms of real firepower or updates. Still, there could have been hope. Perhaps, you might think, the reason those others lacked any substantial re-writes was because they didn't need it, and because they were focusing all their efforts upon improving this army, this substantial chapter of their new book.
Then, like everyone else, you probably realised who we're dealing with here.
For starters, many of the special rules here place a heavy emphasis on enhancing saves in one way or another. The Shield of Faith grants many units a 6+ Invulnerable bonus as standard, and the Army of Faith rule listed in the Command Benefits permits the army to re-rolls all ones on their saves one full turn per game. Both have their uses, but the only reduce an issue rather than truly resolving it - The odd nature of price and durability in regards to the Sisters. While they might have power armour and bolters, their relatively low Toughness stat is often going to work against them. The sheer volume of hard hitting weapons - especially plasma ones - is going to fell far more of them than it would other armies with this buff. In all honesty, this is an army which desperately needed a more varied Feel No Pain or something akin to it to help endure enemy firepower, or even to lift a few ideas from the old Faith Points system such as buffing a single stat for a time.
Now, you might think that this is an odd criticism given the Craftworld Eldar tend to get by with Toughness 3 units with 3+ saves, but they have far more working in their favour. They have a much broader variety of units, each capable of carrying out more specific tasks such as anti-vehicle duties or close combat. They have more tanks to back them up as well, far better equipment and beneficial special rules, and even a few truly durable units (Wraithguard for one) to hold vital locations. Plus, even when all that fails, they have very cheap and very numerous Troops choices to fall back on to buff out their force with meat shields. These are all aspects the Sisters lack, and without them these special rules seem like only a half-measure solution to their problems.
The other more notable special rules (because the only other Command Benefit was the usual "re-roll Warlord traits" option) tend to vary from one unit to the next, as each Act of Faith confers a different benefit. For example, the Seraphim gain Shred while shooting when this is activated, and the more standard squads gain Preferred Enemy for one turn. The actual idea itself isn't bad as the brief bonuses and timed buffs have been handled well in other armies (the Ultramarines being one such positive example) but the problem is that many equally as expensive armies tend to gain such rules as standard these days. So, you're left often paying just as much for an army which can only occasionally use the same benefits a lot of bigger name ones often take for granted. If the army itself offered a variety of choices for each time that might be something, or perhaps even a single massed upgrade for the entire force at once, but in its current state it's just a very half-done solution to a big problem.
Finally, we have Martyrdom, which is effectively the old Ethereal rule with a slightly different benefit. Knock off this army's Warlord and the Sisters are going to begin passing all Leadership tests until the end of the next turn, and can even begin spamming their Acts of Faith. Given that the Warlord in question tends to be more expensive and much more useful than the average Ethereal in direct combat, this is not something you should do intentionally, but it is a nice bonus. Oddly enough, it's one of the few points on here I personally have no problems with.
Finally, to cap this section off, we have the Warlord traits table. Unfortunately, save for one or two exceptions the usefulness of these bonuses is marginal at best:
Executioner of Heretics: The Warlord gains Fear. Until that rule gains a substantial boost, you should skip this one entirely.
Indomitable Belief: The Warlord and her unit now have a Shield of Faith 5+ invulnerable save. Jacobus has this as a standard bonus, so it's a simple replication of another character's ability.
Pure of Will: The Warlord and any unit she is attached to may now re-roll Deny the Witch tests, something which is especially helpful against psyker heavy armies such as the Thousand Sons.
Righteous Rage: Now your Warlord has Rage. That's all there is to it.
Beacon of Faith: In effect this is what Saint Celestine used to grant automatically. This allows all units within 12" of your Warlord to use her Leadership on Acts of Faith or Hymn tests, and can be somewhat useful. The problem is that as most units have a basic Leadership of 8, this is an exceptionally minor buff.
Inspiring Orator: All friendly units within 12" gain Stubborn as a special rule. This is something the Canoness has as standard so it's little benefit to her personally, and the Priests also tend to fulfil a similar role within the army by granting a similar benefit. This can be useful in certain situations or spearheading certain attacks, but for the most part this won't be all that useful in the grand scheme of things.
Let's just deal with the bloody great mammoth in the room first, shall we? Saint Celestine is nowhere to be seen. Really, there's no sign of her at all. As the single most enduring and powerful character in the entire book, not to mention their best looking model, this was surely something GW wanted to keep. No, instead, the Sororitas themselves have been completely stripped of any and all characters wearing power armour, and are left only with Missionary Jacobus to their name; a character who, canonically, is also already dead.
The reason this is such a creepy thing is that the Sisters of Battle were one of the few armies actually lacking in the character department. Both due to their separation from Codex: Witchunters and the unusually determined culling of all named characters, they effectively have no heroes at all anymore. Hell, this was a trend has become so bad that a previous article noted that fixing this should have been a priority, not to carry on, full steam ahead!
With that done, the army besides this can honestly be summed up as one thing: Decent as a supporting army. Really, that's about the best which can be said for them overall, as the descriptions of many units might as well begin with "Sort of good but..." for all their effectiveness. You can always see how they might have been somewhat useful, and can even justify their deployment in certain situations; but their rules aren't capable of wholly covering what the army wants for them, and they can be countered by a few obvious means.
For example, Repentia do have the standard 6+ Invulnerable save and can even benefit from Feel No Pain when using an Act. Furthermore, the sheer number of eviscerator hits they can put out is simply staggering and you can be certain any standard Troops they hit will be reduced to chunky salsa. The problem is, they can easily be brought down at range by massed firepower or template weapons, and since that Feel No Pain bonus can only be occasionally activated, they can easily be caught in the open.
The same goes for the Retributors, who seem to have been devised to cover a dozen different heavy weapons roles at once, but aren't one hundred percent effective at any single one. Okay, give them heavy bolters and they'll chew through troops like there's no tomorrow, and they can be decent transport poppers, but against dedicated heavy armour or airborne attackers, they're going to fall woefully short. Furthermore, because they're limited to heavy bolters, heavy flamers, and multi-meltas, they lack the extreme range the likes of Devastators or Havocs often benefit from. So, you need to place them towards the forefront of your army, and risk putting a small semi-expensive heavy weapons totting squad within charge range.
There are thankfully a few exceptions to this however. The Seraphim in particular are often extremely effective against most targets. Thanks to their ability to Deep Strike, Hit & Run, their use of jump packs and the variety of hand flamers/inferno pistols, they can be exceptionally useful for mopping up enemy troops and ambushing large scale vehicles. Equally, the Exorcist is arguably one of the single best things of the entire book, capable of serving as both a long range transport popper and wiping out multiple high Toughness troops at a time. They're a very effective counter against a number of incredibly hard hitting Elites choices as well, and units like Tau Battlesuits will fall quite quickly to concentrated fire from two such tanks.
The codex has also gained a number of extremely welcome additional units, with the welcome return of Death Cult Assassins, Crusaders, and Arco-Flagellants. Each of them is fairly effective in their role but even then, once again, they retain a number of very noted flaws; with Death Cult Assassins in particular offering a low cost multi-attack power weapon unit, but one which needs a transport to get into close range and cannot immediately charge out of the vehicle.
This is a codex which really needs to be done in detail, because it honestly isn't bad so much as near-fatally unfinished and built with a past edition in mind. The more effective units can definitely win battles and perform their jobs well, but are often one trick ponies and lack the support they need to be truly effective. Combine all this with a lack of psyker presence (yes it's in their background, but they still can't fully account for them), an emphasis upon close range or melee combat, and the inability to counter Overwatch, and it's not hard to see why they've yet to break the stigmata of the Sixth Edition.
Unlike the past examples, we do actually have a few relics to look into this time. As before, some are good and some are bad, but most are better thought out than the Warlord traits.
The Book of St. Lucius: With a 12" range, this one permits any friendly unit close by to automatically pass Fear or Regroup tests, and they immediately on the spot. This is helpful for working alongside Imperial Guard units or catching fleeing troops to turn them around, and with only a five point cost, it's a useful thing to have with the right army.
The Litanies of Faith: Focusing upon the unique selling point of the army, this item permits the wielder and the unit holding it to immediately pass Act of Faith and War Hymns tests whenever they are called. If you're stuck without a lower Leadership Warlord or even a Conclave Priest this can be quite helpful, and the ability to offset those unfortunate dice rolls cannot be denied. This is extremely situational, admittedly, but there are more than a few games which will benefit from the addition of this item.
The Cloak of St. Aspira: This is your common or garden defensive buff, permitting the wielder and her unit to re-roll standard armour and Invulnerable saves. A useful thing to be sure, especially if you pair up the Warlord with an expensive squad.
The Mantle of Ophelia: This is an essential purchase as, while it's expensive at twenty-five points, it grants Eternal Warrior to the wielder. Given you're stuck with Toughness 3 for some expensive close-combat orientated armies, most armies will definitely benefit from this one.
The Blade of Admonition: Well, with the more defensive or additional buffing choices done, we now have the more directly murderous options. In this particular case, you have a Master Crafted sword which hits at +2 Strength and AP3. This is useful against astartes, but most of the time Eternal Warrior will be the better choice for a relic.
The Mace of Valaan: This is limited to Priests, and an odd one for a few reasons. While it matches the +2 Strength and Master Crafted qualities of the previous weapon, it also retains Concussion, Armourbane and Fleshbane. However, those last two only come into play when there is a daemon within 6" of the model. The odd thing? It doesn't specify whether it needs to be an enemy unit, so you could shove a Daemonhost next to him the entire time, and watch him chew through Terminators for the rest of the game. Okay, he'll probably die before the end, but he'll make back his points at least.
The Sacred Standard of the Order Militant: Limited purely to the Sororitas Command Squad, this grants all friendly units within 12" of the banner +1 Attack in close combat and the ability to re-roll Leadership, Fear and Pinning tests. This is fairly generic, and the unfortunate thing is that it costs a full forty points to gain. So unless you're going to keep your Command Squad at the front but can ensure they'll live for at least a few turns, it's one you might want to skip.
The special rules this time are relatively limited, as the Deathwatch's greatest benefit is the sheer number of special weapons and items they can attach to a single squad. This is, after all, a unit which can be adapted, altered and ultimately tailor made to suit just about any role they need, and most special rules are present to trigger minor buffs or benefits more than anything else. These are fairly basic as well, simply re-listing the mission tactics which were so lazily intended to cover any and all kill-team missions:
Furor Tactics - When targeting Troops choices, re-roll 1s to hit on all dice.
Venator Tactics - When targeting Fast Attack choices, re-roll 1s to hit on all dice.
Dominatus Tactics - When targeting Elites choices, re-roll 1s to hit on all dice.
Malleus Tactics - When targeting Heavy Support choices, re-roll 1s to hit on all dice.
Purgatus Tactics - When targeting HQ choices, re-roll 1s to hit on all dice.
Finally, the sole Command Benefit of this particular formation is a standard re-roll to Wound any and all targets, and the ability to re-roll penetration tests. This lasts the entire game and is not limited to any target, with no mention of whether or not this stacks against the aforementioned secondary special rules.
I would reiterate the point about the Sisters of Battle having to work far harder to briefly earn the same benefits other armies get for free; but the chances are all of you were already thinking of that anyway.
What we have here is a single Veteran squad backed up by a single Corvus Blackstar, with effectively all the adaptability and alterations you would expect. This is actually not too bad a choice on the whole, as it's typically how the Deathwatch have been presented in past books. They'll deploy single squads or strike teams against lone targets, and use the bulk of another army to further augment their attacks. Let's face it, short of assaults upon Watch Stations, the only Black Library conflict which featured massed Deathwatch involvement divided up their squads to one marine per few dozen Guardsmen.
Much of what was said about the two units in their own review still rings true here. Really, the units themselves are ultimately unchanged. They're a solid single-unit choice for striking and targeting single objectives or squads, and tailor making the unit to your needs, even if the Blackstar itself is a little too fragile for its own cost.
Not a damn thing.
The Grey Knights
Most of the special rules here are your standard fare of excuses for extreme firepower. Covering the essential basics, the codex copies across the rules for the Aegis (which allows units to re-roll Deny the Witch saves) and Purity of Spirit (which thankfully prevents them using Malefic Disciplines, the fact they only take Perils of the Warp tests by rolling two or more sixes). The Sanctic Discipline is also listed on the page to the right as well, just to streamline things a little.
The only thing the formation here offers is a few bonuses to reserve rolls. In effect, you can drop them in from the first turn on a 3+ and permits each unit to Run and Shoot from the moment they arrive on the tabletop.
Of all the armies included in this codex, this one is easily the most bizarre. Really, it's as if Games Workshop went through and just selected the biggest sellers over everything else, plastered them together and tried to justify players fielding nothing but those choices. So, rather than any standard troops or basic options, what you have is a Dreadknight, Terminator Squads, Interceptor Squads, and Land Raiders of all the typical flavours (Standard, Crusader or Redeemer). These don't quite link up really, as you have a variety of very expensive units built to kill very large and very tough creatures, and then Interceptors just tossed in there as well. It would be understandable if they were present to bog down or perhaps even cut off a single target, slowing them down so the Dreadknight could get involved, but we have nothing of the sort here. Plus, because the formation is limited to a single Heavy Weapons choice, over half the units listed in this book cannot be deployed in a single formation.
This is more baffling than outright bad as you're likely to be able to find a way to use it. Whether it's dropping a group of units in on the first turn to cause all kinds of hell, or even just arriving for a flanking tactic, there are enough benefits here to justify looking into it. Just be sure you have more of an idea of what you're going to do with it than the writers here.
Nothing, once again.
The Legion of the Damned
This is easily going to be the shortest of the bunch as there's honestly little to nothing to this one. Really, it's just a single unit, and whereas Deathwatch at least had a couple of special rules and a transport, we don't even have that here. Besides the individual unit special rules which have gone largely unchanged for years now (you know the ones - Ignores Cover when shooting, and a 3+ Invulnerable save against incoming fire) the only new thing is the Command Benefit offered by the formation. This just permits you to determine when they arrive with no rolls at all, permitting the player to just say "I fail" or "I win" to bring them onto the board. It's not bad, but it's just not very remarkable either.
It's decent if very, very basic. Once again, this is something we have covered in full before, so this is just going to be a link back to a past review.
Surprisingly, we have nothing here at all. Given Codex: Legion of the Damned did list a number of relics to be used by the squad itself, it's surprising they didn't bother to actually carry anything over to here.
Welcome to Codex: Imperial Assassins Mk. II, with a few minor tweaks here and there. It's what you would expect really, where we have a single assassin per formation rather than a group, thankfully. Really, if the writers pulled yet another A-Team stunt with this lot, it would seriously start to lose its appeal.
Anyway, that aside, the special rules this time come down to more of a unit-by-unit basis rather than the entire group at once. The only real one of note here at all is a brief highlight citing how players will gain a bonus victory point if the Assassin lobbed into the battle inflicts a wound on the enemy Warlord, specifically the killing one. They wouldn't be very good assassins if they needed someone else to finish off their dirty work, after all.
What we have here is largely what you would expect from the main book, with each assassin filling out a single general role. We have the sniper, the axe murdering suicide bomber, the infiltrator, and the horrifying anti-psyker. Each of them has their own individual role and benefits to the army, but unlike other examples on here this one has at least been re-written to fix some of the older issues cited with the assassins.
The Culexus in particular has undergone a few changes, with the effects and impact of his powers having been re-written to make a little more coherent sense. Oh they still do the same thing - cause all kinds of hell for psykers, cause daemons to dissolve into thin air, and ignores all armour saves in melee range - but you have less oddly indistinct points surrounding how his powers work.
This is actually another solid example of the sort of detachment which really should have dominated this book, as they are perfect for the "Imperial Agents" brand. Not only do they frequently team up with other armies, but each and every one can offer a substantial bonus to many of these forces. The Sisters of Battle in particular would substantially benefit from the involvement of any assassin, as each helps to cover their own blind spots. Take a Vindicare? Now you have a tank buster working at a range they lack. Take a Callidus? Infiltration combined with extreme lethality. An Eversor? Well, it speaks for itself really. It's a suicide bomb on drug fueled legs armed with a sword. Plus, again, with daemons and psykers dominating the game, there's always going to be room for a Calexus.
The cost for each is also fairly reasonable at just over a hundred point, and while the prices do vary, the rules are written solidly enough to ensure no one here is useless. It's a choice which can easily be added to another army as a secondary or bonus force, but isn't so intrusive that it soaks up half your points like the Grey Knights.
Not a thing.
The Inquisition here is odd to say the least. It's a reworking of the online rules, with a few minor tweaks like the Assassins before them but sticking to the core of the original concept. The formation itself consists of one HQ choice and one Elites option, but with the unit as a whole operating as a single squad. This is mixed for sure as it both accurately reflects the nature of the Inquisition but also proves to be somewhat problematic when it comes to being effective on the tabletop. This is more a case of the model by model basis not quite matching up, admittedly, and the actual special rules themselves for the group aren't that bad.
Their formation's Command Benefits allow them to roll on their own Warlord table while still allowing for a second Warlord for the rest of the army. This is actually quite good as from a lore perspective it reflects how Inquisitors are often a "second General" acting in supreme command either alongside or directly over the true commander. On a tabletop perspective, it also allows for a few more buffs, all of which are actually quite good this time. Better yet however, there isn't just one table but three, which individually accounts for each different Ordos and their mentality. A nice touch given how often tabletop focused fans tend to lump the Inquisition together as one group.
Each table does start with the same three rules before splitting off:
Unquestionable Wisdom: The Warlord effectively turns into Calgar lite, and can choose when and when not to fail morale tests. This applies only to the warband itself though, and does not extend across the entire army, so it is potentially useful if quite situational.
Reader of the Tarot: This one is odd, and potentially either somewhat useless, or one of the single most beneficial traits in the entire book. In effect, if the Warlord is still alive and kicking, you're permitted to roll two dice for your reserves, along with units Outflanking, and rules involving Mysterious Terrain, and Mysterious Objectives. The odd thing is that, if it applies only to this group then there's little which it really helps with. If it can apply to allied Detachments, well, suddenly your entire army can further buff the Officer of the Fleet's own skills.
That said, this is the sort of thing I would have personally argued should be down to an upgrade rather than something decided on a D6 roll. After all, as it's decided by random it's hard to develop tactics or a reliable list around this sort of thing.
Burner of Worlds: This is the Exterminatus button those Inquisitors love to mash so much. While it's limited once per game, it allows your Warlord to bring down an orbital bombardment hitting with Strength 10 AP1, Ordnance 1, Large Blast, Barrage, and Orbital. So, it's a one-shot weapon but there's plenty of opportunities for it to be useful.
Next up they start breaking up into one Ordos and another:
Xeno Hunter: This causes the Warlord and the unit he's with to have Preferred Enemy (Xenos) so it hits half the game. While it doesn't cover Genestealer Cults, every primary army from Eldar to Orks is covered by it. While it looks a little unique at first, this is the sort of thing we see quite often actually, usually just as Preferred Enemy (Whoever the hell is in front of you). That's not to say it's not good, it's just something we tend to see a hell of a lot these days. The more irritating point is that this is repeated for the other two Ordos as well, just with different targets, when this was supposed to be among the more individually unique rules of the book.
Xenotech Collector: This is another odd one but quite helpful as a very high grade buff. In effect, the Warlord immediately gains a 6+ Invulnerable save, and one of his ranged weapons immediately benefits from +1 Strength to its stats, and Rending as well. This is supposed to reflect a more radical approach to the Inquisition, and while it is good for the rules, it's a shame we don't see more to reflect this against more puritanical units. Even a small note like "Grey Knights will shoot this man on sight" would have been nice.
Purity of Mankind: The Inquisitor and his unit gains Hatred. So, yeah, they're now combat monsters who can beat the living hell out of most things they bump into.
Daemonhunter: The Warlord and his unit now have Preferred Enemy (Daemons). Coteaz has this by default, so if you always want this just take him, and just see the above comments on Xenos Hunter for the rest.
Incorruptible: Now, this is quite a fun one actually, especially against some of the more infamous new units wheeled out by the daemons. So long as your Warlord is still standing, any demon within 12" of him immediately suffers from a -1 roll to their invulnerable save, which also stacks atop of other modifiers. This effects anyone and everyone, so it's helpful nailing stuff like Horrors or Bloodthirsters, and it's exceptionally good when doubled up with the Grimoire of True Names.
Forbidden Lore: Welcome to a very, very useful one, but once again one which seems like it should have been an upgrade in all honesty. If you do make your Warlord a psyker, then he generates an additional Warp Charge per turn without the need to roll for them. If you decide to keep him as a normal hellspawn slaying bloke, he gains Adamantium Will. Suffice to say, the psyker option is much more useful.
Witch Hunter: The Warlord and his unit gain Preferred Enemy (Psykers), and this is the same as before just with Karamazov in place of Coteaz. The only difference this time is that a Psyocculum can render this bonus quite useful in all honesty, and unlike other options you can't re-roll your Warlord tests.
Will of Iron: Again, this is similar to a past option. If your Inquisitor is a psyker - an oddity to be sure among the Hereticus - then he has Deny on a 4+ and if he isn't then he and those around him gain Adamantium Will. Not too bad at all and probably the thing you might want to get the most. Admittedly, again, it would have been better saved for an upgrade you could actually purchase, but it's not as irritating as others on this list.
Master of Interrogation: Enemy Infiltrators cannot be set up within 24" of your Warlord, or those with him. This is quite, quite useful if you know how to place your units and you're up against an Infiltration heavy army like Genestealer Cults.
This is, as you might expect, a listing with a lot of old favourites such as the aforementioned Coteaz and Karamazov, each of who retain most of their rules from past editions and a lot of their firepower. Those who accompany them consist of a varied group of Jokaero, Daemonhosts, Acolytes and a Chimera. You can also take servo skulls if you wish, but you need to find a way to buy the damn models these days.
What we have here is the other side of the Deathwatch's coin. Whereas that army consisted of a lot of varied units who could be adapted and altered depending upon their equipment, this one is supposed to work depending upon individual units. Each of them is wholly unique and with their own benefits, stats and special rules, allowing you to tailor make your own mob of heroes. It's a nice choice on the whole as you can even take characters or figures from other lists on here, such as the Tech-Priest or Crusaders, and the chances are if you have something specific in mind you can make it. Oh it'll be an expensive squad to be sure, and you might even find far, far more effective standard ones in other armies, but the customization options are a welcome thing indeed.
Each of the special characters also comes with their own general benefit or bonus option where you can trade out the more exciting or unique units for a squad from the Militant arm of each Ordos. So Coteaz can take Grey Knights Terminators, Karamazov can arrive with a bunch of Sororitas etc. and you can just adapt and upgrade them from there. It does rob the army of its key selling point admittedly, but for those looking to just throw a famous character in with another army, it's not the worst option in the world. In fact, many of the special rules for the characters align nicely with those units, so you're rarely going to be wasting your cash or points pairing the group together.
The only negative point - and a serious black mark - against this particular listing is the fact it seems to once more ignore the differences between radical and puritanical sects. So, you can happily have an Inquisitor carrying a daemon sword, accompanied by multiple Daemonhosts and using heretical devices, and still have him stroll up to the Sororitas without them batting an eye. Call it a minor thing if you wish but this is hardly a difficult thing to get wrong, and there seems to be an almost gleeful willingness to just ignore the big differences between the Inquisition's two big groups.
There are a few specific relics here this time, but there's a few much more pressing items which need to be addressed first. The sorts of items which should have been tossed into a deep dark hole and forgotten about by the rest of the game, never to be spoken of again. Yes, you know the ones, the Plasma Siphon, Rad Grenades, and Psychotroke Grenades. These sorts of things are basically the "I win" buttons of the old Codex: Grey Knights, and adding them in here is only a marginal improvement. An improvement which is instantly forgotten given they have kept all their beneficial buffs from last year's errata. So, yes, the Plasma Siphon specifically says that it will work on all tau pulse weapons, and each can effectively win entire battles for you. Why in the holy hell someone thought it was a good idea to bring these damn things back, we'll never know.
As for the actual relics themselves however, they're almost tame by comparison. Actually, no, they are tame by comparison. As bad as some get, they don't delve into the rampant bullshittery of other examples here.
Liber Heresius: This is essentially the "Inquisitor's Guide to Heretics" which can be used to great effect with a few slightly risky roles. For one Leadership test at the start of any phase of any turn, you can gain either Scout, Split Fire, Counter-Attack, Fear or Hatred until your next turn rolls around. For fifteen points this is an excellent purchase, and given some of the benefits it can inspire among the squad, it's a definite one to grab for such a cheap option. Well, unless you're going with the next choice, of course.
Grimoire of True Names: This is something you pick up for five points and use to make the lives of daemons a living hell. In effect, target one model with the Daemon special rule and it immediately suffers from -5 penalty to his Weapons Skill, Initiative and Leadership. Normally this is the sort of thing I would have previously railed against, but given some of the things introduced in Wrath of Magnus, this is open season on infuriatingly insane daemons. Sure, Chaos players will probably hate you, but it'll be worth its weight in gold once Mortarion, Angron and the others show up here.
The Tome of Vethric: Useful for a xenos army, but not much else. Once again, the wielder and his squad gain a few benefits from this, but it's now heavily dependent upon just who you are facing. It's also one which might be entirely useless given the fact you're limited to just one skill per army, some of who might not even have squads this can hurt. To list them in full:
Eldar: Split Fire
Dark Eldar: Night Vision
Tau: Furious Charge
Necrons: Tank Hunter
Tyranids: Monster Hunter
Overall, it has a few useful bits here and there, but for twenty points it's ultimately skippable.
This codex, as the opening said, is still a mess. It still has plenty of big and very notable shortcomings in many places, but it's not entirely worthless. There are good formations to be found here and for those looking to add a bit of life to their army, or even a few unique traits, you could do far, far worse than this book. While I would personally advise you seriously examine what you're going to be buying it for first, and several armies should not have even been here, there are still reasons to buy this.
Overall, well, consider this one to have a reluctant recommendation from this end, odd as that sounds.