Saturday, 6 June 2015

Cult Mechanicus review part 1

Thought I should get this review in quick as there's a Space Marine Codex on the Horizon that will be demanding my complete attention in the near future. The Cult Mechanicus book is the third in the trilogy of AdMech books which, in no small part due to the Chapterhouse saga, have come as three books instead of one. So, what does this latest installment have to offer? Let's find out.

The release:

Spread over a series of weeks, the release was roughly akin to that of the Skitarii book. A £20 codex  (+ltd ed), cards, 3 boxed sets (none of which were vehicles) and a clamshell. Neat little package what with the multi-builds and all, yet one can't help but wonder if this would all have been rolled into one bigger, better book (along with the Skitarii, knights and much more) if not for the Chapterhouse case. Still, I dare say in the next 2 years a codex ad-mech will rock along with both books contained therein alongside another wave of models. Overall though a nice release that covers a faction as well as complimenting the other two recently released books nicely. Shame no tech priests/magi but you can't have it all.

The book:

Same format as per the Skitarii book. We start off with a general introduction to the faction plus info on the main Forgeworld - same ones as in Skitarii but with a slightly different spin on things. Legio cybernetica even gets a proper mention. We then move onto the colour sections detailing the individual unit entries. This is a trend that started in Grey Knights IIRC and effectively is a backtrack to the old days of a separate bestiary with fluff and art, except that now the rules are all on the datacard to save having to flit back and forth between them - a good thing if you ask me. The new trend of CGI pics to illustrate different colour schemes also continues here, shortly followed by the colour photos and eavy metal showcases we are now used to. Lastly comes the datasheets, army rules and wargear. I like the way the new codexes work TBH as they clearly delineate 3 sections of the book - fluff, hobby and gaming, with very little overlap between them.

The models:

As with most GW releases these days, the models particularly deliver with this release. The Magos Dominus may be expensive but you get multiple weapon and head options as well as him being perhaps the most awesome GW model in years. I love everything about this model and hope it is a sign of things to come with multiple weapon options in HQ clamshells. How about the troops then? Again, some of the best models in a long time come in the form of the Kataphron battle servitors. Bulky, armed to the teeth and everything you would have hoped for, these models are superb and I hope to be adding some as soon as possible.

Next up are the electro-priests, who are now subdivided into two distinct categories - in effect one clubs you to death and steals your electricity while the others go all Sith and start shooting guys with lightning bolts coming out of their fingers. Really cool models with the electoos and all, but quite a pricey kit. Lastly we have the big guys: Kastelan Robots. It took me a while to warm to these guys as they're very different from the FW take on the old Castellan robot. These guys look more like something out of a 1930s sci-fi than 40K. But they do have a certain cool factor about them, plus the datasmith is an awesome figure too. I only think it's a shame regular tech priests didn't make it into this army too.

The rules:

This section will look at the broader army rules, encompassing Warlord traits, Maelstrom mission, Special rules and wargear.

Warlord traits:

1. Reinforced exoskeleton - Eternal warrior
2. Artificer armament - one (non-relic) weapon is master-crafted
3. Masterwork bionics - can re-roll FNP rolls
4. Archeotech specialist - can choose results for mysterious objectives
5. Inside the mind of the machine - warlords CC attacks have haywire
6. Layered psalm-code - warlord and unit always benefit from the maximum canticles result.
So all of these are actually pretty good, except maybe for 4 as most people tend to ignore these. Still, even they have their place if you need a skyfire nexus or twin-linked at that moment in time.

Canticles of the Omnissiah:

Add up the total amount of units on the battlefield (excluding falling back) with this rule and choose one canticle to apply for that turn. (one use each only) The tiers are 1-3, 4-7 and 8+ (units)

Incantation of the Iron soul
Stubborn +re-roll failed tests
Litany of the electromancer
1 S4 AP- I10 hit for each CotO unit in melee
2 S4 AP- I10 hits for each CotO unit in melee
3 S4 AP- I10 hits for each CotO unit in melee
Chant of the remorseless fist
Reroll 1s to hit in melee
Re-roll 1s/2s to hit in melee
Re-roll all to hit in melee
Invocation of machine might
+1 strength
+2 strength
+3 strength
Benediction of omniscience
Reroll 1s to hit shooting
Re-roll 1s/2s to hit shooting
Re-roll all to hit shooting

So what should be clear from looking at these is that they're all pretty darn good and they favour larger armies made up exclusively of Cult Mechanicus units. Each also has its own place in the game, so for example you may choose to invoke Shroudpsalm early on to protect units from ranged attacks as they advance, then Benediction as you close with the enemy, where the others mostly have benefit in melee later on. Pretty awesome little ruleset which, as we'll see later, has particular implications for certain units.

Tactical Objectives:

11 - Praise the machine God - 1VP if you used Invocation or shroudpsalm
12 - Networked archeotech - Roll 2 dice - 1VP if you control either of these objectives. (D3 both)
13 - Study the machines of the foe - 1VP if you destroy a vehicle but not explode/crash and burn.
14 - Reclaim lost knowledge - 1VP if you take an objective from your opponent. (3+ = D3)
15 - The will of the Omnissiah - 1VP if you used Invocaation, Chant or Litany and destroyed one enemy unit in the assault phase.
16 - Destroy, record, rejoice - 1VP if one unit destroyed in shooting phase. Vehicle + non-vehicle = D3 (+3 if SH or gargantuan)


There's plenty of exotic weapons and wargear in the book so I will summarise them here, though the units they belong to will be seen in part 2 of the review.
Electrostatic gauntlets - 12" assault 2 twin-linked / S+1 melee
Eradication ray - S8 AP1 heavy 1 (0-12") or S6 AP3 heavy 1 blast (12-24")
Gamma pistol - S6 AP2 pistol with armourbane
Heavy arc rifle - 36" S6 AP5 heavy 2 haywire.
Heavy grav-cannon - 30" salvo 4/6 concussive, graviton, AP2
Cognis flamer - like a flamer but always gets 3 hits on overwatch
Incendine combustor - torrent flamer
Macrostubber - S4 AP6 pistol with 5 shots instead of 1.
Phosphor serpenta (18" S5AP4 assault 1), blaster (24" S5AP4 rapid fire) and heavy (36" S6AP3 heavy3) - all have luminogen meaning when you wound/glance/pen a unit it then gets -1 to cover and units can reroll to charge it.
Plasma culverin - 24" heavy 2 blast plasma weapon.
Torsion cannon - 24" S8AP1 heavy 1 weapon that strips 3 hull points/wounds instead of 1.
Volkite blaster (yay, FW) 24" S6AP5 heavy 3 weapon that causes additional hits for every unsaved wound.
Arc claw - S+1 Ap5 melee haywire
Dataspike - I10 attack at user strength with haywire.
Electroleech stave - S+2 AP4 2-handed and concussive melee, also causes instant death on to wound of 6.
Hydraulic claw - S+2, melee, unwieldy - can instead perform a single double strength AP2 attack.
Conversion field - 4++ and units in 6" take blind hit (friendly can reroll) for every save made,
Infoslave skull - +1Ld and acute senses.
Mechadendrite harness - can fire all weapons in shooting phase and gains a dataspike.
Refractor field - 5++
Scryerskull - can reveal a mysterious object each turn.
Stasis field - 2++ while gone to ground but WS/BS = 0.
Voltagheist field - 5++ plus a S4 HoW and no initiative penalty to charging.

Arcana Mechanicum:                                                                           

Raiment of the Technomrtyr - 2+ and all weapons gain cognis (overwatch at BS2 / auto 3 on wall of flame). A reasonable choice on the Magos seeing as he has a couple of weapons but there are better options out there for him as below.
Anzions pseudogenetor - D6 additional attacks at S4 AP5 with shred. Would add extra clout to either a Magos or Datasmith in Melee at their normal initiative.
Mask of the Alpha dominus - can instantly change the battle protocol of a robot maniple in 12", though that protocol can't be used for the rest of the game. Probably useful if situations change radically but losing the protocol is pretty bad.
Autocaduceus of Arkhan Land - IWND for bearer and unit. Very good if used in a large unit or formation of Kataphrons or (even better) Kastelans.
Uncreator Gauntlet - interesting one - roll to hit with a single attack (instead of normal CC attacks) in the assault phase Vs a single friendly or enemy vehicle. On a 1 your opponent chooses it to regain or lose 1HP, 2-3 same but you choose, 4-5 you choose and it's D3, 6 = D6. An interesting concept and pretty darn useful if allied in with some vehicles such as Knights.
The Scryerskull Perspicatus - Can reveal a single mysterious objective OR spy on a vehicle, allowing CM and Skitarii units to re-roll to pen against that vehicle for a turn. Pretty decent in acombined force.

Cult Mechanicus Battle congregation: This is the FOC for the army 1HQ and 2 troops mandatory (so a Magos Dominus and 2 squads of Kataphrons) With a further 6 troops, 4 elites and 2 Heavy (plus a fort) optional. As usual this arrangement allows you to re-roll your Warlord trait and the Divine Chorus rule allows you once per game to resuse a canticle - handy for that 7th turn or if there is a particular one granting you an advantage in that particular game (Shroudpsalm for example).

Phew, well that wraps up part 1, part 2 will be here in a day or two and will cover all the units and formations in the book. Cheers.

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