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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sisters of Battle Codex Review: Part 2 - Headquarters

This is one of the slots which actually has multiple half-decent choices. What a shame it's also the slot with only two options allowed, two of the better choices require unlocks and the others are special (commence hating). I've not included the Special Characters in this part and will look at them next post but the unlockable squads (Command and Conclave) have been. Let's take a look at the two standard HQs available to Sisters first and then we'll look at said unlocks.

Canoness -

Pretty standard statline with BS and WS benefits as usual for HQ but still Strength and Toughness 3. We also see an increased number of wounds (3) attacks (3) and initiative (4) but still not a great statline. At 65 points it's a bit steep but you do get the joyful +1 Faith roll benefit for whatever squad she is in as well as her very own Act of Faith...+1 initiative and Preferred Enemy for one assault phase. Yay? One can get re-rolls to hit on the turn they charge with Priests or Confessors without needing a Faith roll and it doesn't exactly make Sisters scary in combat. This Act can at least be used in successive phases to maintain combat momentum but again, for the most part Sisters aren't scary in combat so woop de do.

No invulnerable save and 25 points for a 4++ is pretty steep (consider you pay 20 points for a Storm Shield). Options for power sword and eviscerator are the only combat upgrades really worth considering and the power sword lacks the strength behind it whilst the Eviscerator is pretty expensive. Lost jump pack option and 2+ save which made her a great disruption unit. The Cannoness is now a female Marine Captain - lacklustre, expensive and doesn't actually bring anything to the table. The only reason you'd take her is access Sorotias Command Squads and that extra combi-weapon option.

Confessor -

Same statline as the Cannoness but with a 5+ save instead of 3+ and 10 points more expensive. Luckily the Confessor comes with an ability which warrants such a price increase and that is of course Righteous Rage - or re-roll failed to hits on the turn you charge. He also comes standard with a 4++ which contributes to making him a better buy than the Canoness. Whilst again there aren't many great options to buy (power sword and eviscerator), the Confessor is all about unlocking the Battle Conclave and giving them re-rolls to hit on the turn they charge. He's lacklustre himself again but he does benefit the army by unlocking a very good counter-assault unit and makes them better to boot. As a bonus he can be an accurate plasma gun shooter (or combi-weapon) but his main purpose is accessing and improving the Conclave.

Soroitas Command Squad -

This is a great unit. The problem is access is only granted through the Canoness (one Command Squad per Canoness). For 115 points you get five Celestians with FNP and a laud hailer (can get more Faith but unlikely) though only three of them can take weapon upgrades. This squad then has the usual plethora of weapon options available to Command squads with stormbolters, meltaguns, flamers, heavy bolter, multi-melta and heavy flamers. The melta weapons are what we really want here, specifically the MMs. You can take up to three of these babies but when using a Rhino two is probably best so you can utilise the top hatch. You then have a Rhino bunker with not one MM but two. Ya sounds good to me. Their Act of Faith also allows them to be Relentless which uniquely lasts the whole phase. There are situations when it can be beneficial to use (i.e. first turn, NEED to contest objective, etc.) but don't plan for the firepower to be available as those Faith rolls aren't a sure thing. If you do, the roll will fail ^^. A Simulacrum can make this option more reliable but I'd only consider this if you have points leftover.

Otherwise a 170 point double MM Rhino bunker is pretty decent and durable with FNP but isn't scoring and requires a minimum 65 point investment in a Cannoness... this relegates this unit to probably not being used much as the Canoness adds little to the army and isn't exactly cheap. If only Celestine unlocked this unit as well...

Battle Conclave -

This is also a great unit and the unlock for them (Confessor and Confessor special characters) are much more useful to the army and therefore likely to see use. The Battle Conclave is a big part of this and includes the three 'combat' henchmen from the Grey Knights book - Death Cult Assassins, Crusaders and Acro-flagellants. Each is a paltry 15 points and adds a unique counter-assault or assault unit to the Sisters of Battle lines. Sisters of Battle are terrible at combat so having such units with the added benefits from Confessors is a great way to shore up weaknesses of the army.

Death Cult Assassin - what really needs to be said about this unit? S4, A2, 2x power weapons, I6, WS5 - um I'll take 200 to go thanks. DCA are very killy and very much a glass cannon with only a 5++ for defence. They also lack frag grenades which really hurts them in a lot of situations as an offensive threat and they often become a counter-assault unit because of this. Use tank shocks as much as possible to force units out of cover and remember your assault rules.

DCA squad size is also a delicate balancing act - they are so efficient at killing when they don't charge through cover that a squad of five with re-rolls is going to munch through ten MEQs relatively easily (it's around 1.8 dead MEQ per DCA with re-rolls to hit). This is going to leave the squad high and dry and they aren't very durable. The less DCA you get the less likely this is to happen but the more damage you are likely to take in combat and a couple losses before hand can render the unit useless. Take a lot of DCA and you'll munch through units easily, can take some casualties without losing effectiveness but are still likely to get shot off the board after you assault something. A personal preference is to have a small squad with attached IC and use Rhinos to block LoS to the combat.

Crusaders - These guys are often considered the 'answer' to the DCA squad size problem. At the same point cost, Crusaders trade initiative, weapon skill and attack numbers for a storm shield. This makes them a lot more durable than their DCA counter-parts with a 3++ compared to a 5++ but with a lot less killing potential as well. They still have power weapons but are S3 with only one attack. I prefer not to take these guys and rather just keep the DCA small or get a bunch more but it should be noted with Jacobus they are pretty decent on the charge (3 attacks) and their survivability increases with FNP. I'd still prefer more DCA but they can absorb some initial wounds away from DCA if you are so inclined.

Acro-flagellant - Acros' are torrenting monsters with WS5, S4, and A4, each of these puts out five attacks on the charge. The problem is that's all the day. They have FNP to make them a bit more durable but this lowers their usage with Jacobus who gives his unit FNP anyway. At the end of the day DCA have just one less attack than them, are nearly as durable with a 5++, strike first and have power weapons and therefore much higher damage output (if lower potential). Add in Sisters of Battle armies generally don't have issue dealing with mass infantry at short-ranges and Acro's don't really bring anything super special. DCA carve through power armor like butter and Crusaders are at least semi-durable against all firepower.

With this in mind DCA are a clear winner and conclaves made up solely of them (plus their babysitting IC) are a good choice. A smattering of Crusaders can increase the durability of the squad but nothing is going to make them really durable - they are a squad of T3 guys afterall. The lack of frag grenades generally makes these guys a counter-assault unit against aggressive armies but can be used aggressively themselves as part of a Sisters advance. They are Ld8 though so don't like multiple tank shocks or losing combat - keep an IC attached at all times to ensure some random Rhino doesn't run them off the board.


Command Squads and Battle Conclaves are great but require the Canoness and Confessor to unlock them. For the Conclave this isn't an issue as the Confessor helps them out with re-rolls to hit and Ld10. For the Command Squad though...well the Canoness really brings nothing other than their unlock and 115+65 points makes them pretty expensive. That's before weapons and transport options added in. I would recommend steering away from this option unless you somehow have those extra 65 points spare or really want to use the Command Squad/Canoness or have a full Soroitas army (without Celestine). The only way I would recommend using the Command Squad is if Celestine get's FAQ'd to unlock them - then you actually have a useful HQ and the Command Squad. Otherwise, stick with Conclaves and Confessors to lead them.

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