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"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
"...generalship should be informing list building." - Sir Biscuit
"I buy models with my excess money" - Valkyrie whilst a waitress leans over him

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sisters of Battle Codex Review: Part 1 - Introduction & Faith

Well let's look at this lovely White Dwarf enigma. We'll not reminisce about what was lost (but will compare to the past) nor lament what could have been in this review but rather look at what options the book has and how best to use them. We will readily admit there was a lot of promise with this codex but as expected with a White Dwarf release, it fell short. Rather than dwell on that let's see what we can pull together for the Nuns with bolters and power armor!

The Sisters of Battle are a Marine like force with 3+ saves being common with bolt, flame and melta weapons the main weapons of choice. Whilst 3+ armor makes the units durable as a whole, T3 means they are taking a lot more saves than your average Marine. They are cheaper than Marines to compensate for this but their statline is worse in other ways such as weapon skill, strength and initiative. This means Sisters of Battle are much worse in combat than your standard Tactical Marine (already pretty shit) but are very point efficient in terms of shooting firepower at the cost of durability. A reliance on bolt, melta and flame weapons also makes them a very short-ranged army in terms of where they deal the most damage (~24") and with their poor combat status movement and blocking becomes very, very important.

Common lists are going to still see the proliferation of vehicles with 10+ being common at 2000 points and an increase in bodies over your average Marine list. 50+ wouldn't be uncommon though lists can go as high as 70 whilst maintaining a balanced list with some hope of competing. Against opponents unable to sweep units in combat or deal with masses of pretty tough infantry are going to have a hard time against lists like this.

A key aspect of any Sisters list is Faith but it's very different from before. No longer is there a set pool which can replenish and the whole army can use it as needed. This enabled generals to save their Faith for a specific couple of turns and make their Sisters super effective for those turns. Now, you get D6 points a turn no matter the points being played at for your whole army. Those points have to be used that turn or lost. This really turns Faith from a swiss army knife which can be applied as you see fit with the option of using lots of Faith at the same time to hammer the opponent, to something which is only effective for a couple units at a time. Whilst there is some utility in Faith still (like rolling a six at a very important juncture), the inherent randomness of the new system means you're better off expecting and planning for only a couple units a turn to be able to use acts of Faith. Add in the further roll to activate Faith (generally a 4+) in conjunction with Jacobus, who allows you to re-roll the number of Faith points you get each turn, and you can reliably plan for a couple units to get an Act of Faith off each turn.

This is a massive change from the old system and it can be debated over which system is better or worse but it does influence army design to a certain extent. The change in Acts of Faith being unique for each unit also dictates this and is the reason the new Faith system is generally perceived as worse than before - only a couple units have good Acts of Faith and these are the units you look to plan your use of Faith with. With average rolls including Jacobus you can plan to have multiple units of whatever being able to use their Act of Faith each turn with the chance you'll have some extra points left-over for other units. The point is don't expect high numbers consistently as they won't come and therefore don't grab four-six units expecting they can use Acts of Faith each turn. Jacobus minimises the risk of getting very low numbers regularly but isn't going to ensure you get high numbers. When you do get the high Faith points consider them a bonus.

This overall change, specifically the actual Acts themselves, has morphed Faith from an integral part of any Sisters army to something that only a few units are ever going to really use. It does provide some utility (like the couple times you rally below 50% Sisters of Battle squads) but it's not a driving force of an army list anymore. I feel the system itself is okay with some tweaks (2D6 pick the highest?) but the Acts themselves have left something to be desired. Each Act will be covered in their respective unit's review.

Next up we'll look at the HQ and special characters.

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