Well, a couple of nights ago I played a proxied Sisters of Battle army to give the new WD Codex a bit of a test drive. There’s been a tonne of shit talked about this since (at least) the second part came out. I’m not really on side with the hate of it though.
First, I’ll get things out in the open right away. I’m not wholesale defending the ‘dex. The production of it was poor, they didn’t seem to give it more than a cursory proofreading (resulting in many errors and problems with the rules) and there are many FAQ problems right off the bat. I’ll get to them in a bit. The Battle Report was also bad, which was a shame, as we haven’t had a good Sisters report since time (almost) immemorial. The armies weren’t listed although we got photos. The big problem is that even by just looking at the photos, you could tell that the list was, in at least one place, illegal. I won’t go full in-depth on these points, as my podcasting colleague Dagmire has already outlined them in his ‘Letter to the Editor’ style complaint on the Overlords forum. I advise you give it a look over when you get the chance. It’s far more balanced than he is.
I will confess to being a bit of an optimist here. These problems are significant, and I’m not overlooking them, but underneath these concerns lies what looks like a very usable list. I’m not going to go through all the choices, though. I really don’t know them all that well yet. I looked it over and immediately started constructing a foot-horde list. I was fairly pleased with the results. In 1,000pts, I managed to cram in 56 power armoured bodies, which is an impressive number by any standards.
2 x Cannoness: Inferno Pistol, Power Sword
2 x Sisters squads (17): 2 x Meltaguns, Power Sword on the
2 x Seraphim (5): Meltabombs on the
2 x Retributors (5): Heavy Bolters x 4
All that came to 1,000pts exactly. I like it when lists end on a round number. Basically, the Retributors would hang back and provide suppressive fire/light vehicle takedown. The Seraphim would provide backfield harassment and the two anvil squads of sisters would do all the real work. The game a played was against a Guard list, featuring a couple of chimeras, a blob squad of guard, some autocannon teams, a meltavet squad, a hellhound and a bog-standard Leman Russ. Setup was pitched battle and kill points. So far, so crappy. I was foot-slogging across a sparse board towards an IG gunline. End result was a win for me. I’m not sure how, though!
The two anvils were almost a waste of time. One of them got the shit beaten out of them every turn and were finally killed on turn 6 after having achieved pretty much nothing and the other squad survived well, but only because all the IG shooting was concentrated at the first squad. Maybe acting as a fire magnet was the point. With a squad size so large, they’re bound to attract a lot of fire and the slow movement speed of the footsloggers hampering them significantly. The approach of the two Sister squads did force my opponent’s vehicles into a retreat though, as the meltaguns in each squad are nearly impossible to get rid of at range with so many ablative wounds available.
The Retributors took a while to warm up, seeing as their shooting can be quite spotty when you’re trying to take down vehicles (even with the Rending), but managed to get quite a tally for themselves by the end of the game, totalling a sentinel squadron a chimera, the Leman Russ and about 20-odd guardsmen. Overall, I do like this unit, but they can be very brittle, and they take up an entire Heavy Support slot on their own, while Exorcists provide longer range and Penitent Engines have a higher potential for carnage. Nevertheless, the squad much more multi-purpose than either of the other options and (provided you get the Faith off when you need to) good and effective at nearly all targets.
The Seraphim were definitely a bit of a wild card in my army. I like Seraphim; they’ve got a great aesthetic going and the doubling up of their weaponry for shooting was definitely one of the nicest parts of the Codex for me. As a unit, they were definitely designed for the short-range firefight. I kept them pretty bare bones though and used them as throwaway units to cause distraction and jump on unsuspecting vehicles with their meltabombs. I have to say, this tactic worked for me this game. Landing them in difficult terrain next to the Russ forced it to move, revealing its side armour to the Retributors, which ultimately killed it. I plan on running more of these girls for sure, probably kitted out for horde, as that’s what their Faith power is more geared towards (rerolling 1s to wound during the shooting phase). I’ll probably be filling out the other Fast Attack slots with Dominion squads and playing around with abusing the Scout move (something I’ve never really got to do with the Dark Eldar). The seraphim acquitted themselves well, with the aid of some deep strikes into difficult terrain to protect me from AP3 fire.
At the end of the game, I’d lost a seraphim squad and one of my Sister squads. My opponent had lost all his vehicles and had a platoon sergeant and a couple of vets left, all of whom were in combat. And they were not going to win those. So the first game was a fun and interesting one. I’m definitely curious about what can be done with Dex as it stands. Who knows? I might go for a Rage list! Penitent Engines and Sisters Repentia. Let’s try and out-Ork some Orks!