9th Edition Faction Focus: Unaligned Fortifications

9th edition is here, and with it a whole raft of changes to the factions of Warhammer 40,000. With the Munitorum Field Manual out in the wild and the Faction FAQs released, now’s a good time to start taking a look at what’s changed for all of our favorite armies. Today, Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones is talking about the game’s most important faction: Unaligned Fortifications.

Welcome, dear reader! I know what you’re saying. You’re saying “Rob, what the hell? Buildings aren’t a faction? Where are Orks?” Well, we did Orks yesterday, actually. And we’re still working on T’au so while we attempt to keep our unbroken streak of “one Faction Focus Every Day Except Sundays Until They Are All Done” alive (until Wings and Richard Siegler conspire to shatter my dreams by turning in a completed article on Saturday), I’m here today to talk about VEHICLES. And by VEHICLES, I mean “BUILDINGS,” which are also VEHICLES under the 9th edition Keyword system, only they have feelings. Wait that’s probably not true. Whatever, we’ll talk about why being VEHICLES matters in a moment.

You may also be saying: “Wait, Greg and Rob are writing this? Is this some kind of stealth ‘Your X sucks’ article?” To which I say: “No, those are much funnier and better-researched than this will be. But maybe in our floundering, meandering look at buildings, just maybe, we’ll learn a few things along the way. Have a few laughs, make a few friends, who knows?

WING’S NOTE: I don’t approve of any of this, and am shocked, shocked I tell you that the entire faction focus series was nothing more than a ruse to maneuver the content plan to a place where I’m forced to allow this. Anyway, back to the T’au content mines.

OK Fine, Buildings I guess

First a history lesson: Fortifications used to be a staple in 7th edition 40k for a number of reasons, but the two biggest were giving every army cover saves and anti-aircraft fire (mostly via the Aegis Defense Line) and giving armies with bad shooting access to cheap big guns via the Vengeance Weapon Battery. Then in 8th edition Fortifications mostly went away in serious games, owing to the need to put them in their own detachment and robbing players of the ability to generate extra CP through a third detachment. The notable exceptions to this were the the occasional Galaxy Brain list running a Skyshield Landing Pad to give vehicles an invulnerable save (like Scott Horras’ Iron Hands LVO list) and Sterling Battrick, who ran a list at LVO that was 12 Assassins and a Firestorm Redoubt, Aquila Strongpoint, and an Imperial Bastion. Absolute King Shit.

What Changed?

So there are a few things to note about how fortifications have changed in 9th:

  • Army Construction changes the costs for Fortifications. In 9th edition taking additional detachments costs CP instead of giving them to you, This means armies are likely to build with fewer detachments whenever possible. The Fortification Network detachment notably costs 1 CP, but this is refunded if every fortification in the detachment has the same faction and they share a faction with your warlord. That’s good news for faction-aligned fortifications and not so great for the unaligned ones. The good news is that 1 CP is not so tough a cost to pay, and fortifications are easier to field in 9th than 8th.
  • Fortifications can screen Characters with the Look Out, Sir Rule. You read that right. Until something changes – and it very well might – Fortifications with the BUILDING keyword almost all have the VEHICLE keyword as well, meaning that those with 10+ wounds qualify to protect characters with the Look Out, Sir rule. This is surprising, stupid, and hilarious, and as we’ll see later, can nearly single-handedly make fortifications like the Vengeance Weapon Battery worth considering.
  • Fortifications cannot be deployed within 3” of a terrain feature (except hills). A new development from the 9th edition FAQs published this week prevents fortifications from being deployed within 3” of a terrain feature unless it’s a hill. This has some major consequences, particularly for tables where players aren’t placing terrain, since it basically means that fortifications with a large footprint like the Fortress of Redemption may be unplayable without some kind of concession from the TO or a rule change. Most of the smaller fortifications should still be playable however, and the Webway Gate can likely sneak by as well. Suddenly the wide open spaces of Moon Base Klaisus don’t feel like such a mistake.

The Points Changes

As with everything else in 9th edition, the points update changed the costs of Fortifications, though some more than others. Most Fortifications saw a 10-20 point hike depending on their base cost, though there are some notable exceptions here: 

  • Vengeance Weapon Batteries went up by 8 points base cost, but Battlecannons came down by 10 points, making Battlecannon batteries cheaper, while Punisher Gatling Cannons went up by 15, for a 23-point increase. 
  • The Imperial Bastion went down by 10 points base cost, though it includes 4 heavy bolters, and the costs on those went up by 5 points each, so the bastion overall is 10 points more expensive. Still a decent deal. Same for the Chaos Bastion.
  • The Skyshield Landing Pad went up a modest 10 points. That’s fine for the stupid shenanigans it can do.
  • A bunch of the big gun fortifications went up but had their gun costs folded in, making their net increases more in the 20-30 points range, and on-par for the points increase in 9th edition.
  • Quad Guns kept the same cost, while the Icarus Lascannon came down 5 points. These are options on a lot of fortifications, so that’s helpful overall.

 

Let’s Talk About Some Buildings

OK now that we have all of the general rules and the like out of the way, let’s talk about some of the key buildings you could field and how they help signal to your opponents before the game starts that you’re an “easy win.”

Look, Fortifications are still stupidly overcosted in 9th edition with a few potential exceptions and even those are dicey since we’re talking about units that can’t move and help you complete primary objectives outside of potentially something like While We Stand, We Fight. But if you bought one of these and just want to know a good way to use it, this article is for you. That said, if you do end up with an army where three Bastions are your three most expensive units and you’re able to deploy all three every game then yeah, While We Stand We Fight is suddenly a bit less terrible as a secondary option.

Vengeance Weapon Battery

If there’s a bright shining beacon of “POTENTIALLY COMPETITIVELY VIABLE TRUST ME ON THIS” in this mess of models, it’s the Vengeance Weapon Battery. A Battlecannon Vengeance Weapon Battery now costs 108 points, which is a lot for an immobile unit with a gun but the battlecannon has now improved thanks to Blast and the battery’s 10 W (with no degrading profile) means it can comfortably babysit any characters within 3”, keeping them safe thanks to the Look Out, Sir rule. Is this a strategy for every army? Of course not – Astra Militarum can easily put cheaper tanks next to a character. But if you just need a relatively cheap gun to take the heat for your characters and you don’t own an empty transport, then the Vengeance Weapon Battery may be for you.

Fortress of Redemption

GUNUM’S FORTRESS OF REDEMPTION

AH HA! I made it. Before the editors notice — HEAR ME OUT!

Slaps the side of a Fortress of Redemption This monster right here is one of THE stand-out units in the unaligned faction. Back when 8th first dropped, I was running two of these along with max units of Scourge with Dark Lances, which made me an unstoppable force for months! (Then my teammates started to bring things like, Necron Pylons and that era quickly ended.) The wild thing about fortifications like this one is the sheer size of it. Measuring at 26” inches wide this thing has quite the footprint to fill up our deployment zone with the hot goodness of Redemption. Now, I realize this thing looks like its a very Dark Angel piece of terrain, but thanks to GW realizing it’s so awesome, any faction can take it! You lucky sons’ of guns.  

So, I can hear Cyle rolling his eyes already, as he has seen this thing in all of its glory more than once, but let me go into what this thing can -do-. For a mere 440 points, we get a T10 (!) 30W (!) LD 9 (!!!) we get a model that can protect up 2 infantry units, up to  30 models total. Are you worried about your two 10 man blocks of Heavy Hellblasters getting shot off the table? Not with all of the Marines you can fit in this bad boy. 

Along with the massive footprint for zoning enemy units out of our deployment zone, we also get some pretty crazy guns on it. And this is what makes this unit -really- stand out. First off, we have the Missile launcher, which can fire either Krakk or Frag missiles. These are -fine- a small range of 18”- 96”. Being able to drop Krak missiles on your friends Moonbase Klaisus table is a small joy. The only issue here is that the Krak this is armed with, is only D3 damage. For an additional 60 points, you can buy 4 heavy bolters as well. We all know how great these heavy hitters are at clearing hordes. 

(It is only BS 5+. But we’re gonna ignore that due to the rule of cool.) 

The big deal though? The -game breaker-. Is the Twin Icarus Lascannon. At range 92” with 2 tank-busting, S9 -3 D6 damage shots that hit flys on 4s, what else do you need? Tons of flyers are floating around the game right now, and being able to just dump reliable Anti-tank into them is something that brings me untold joy. 

CYLE: Four hundred and four-(score)-ty points for a model that can’t be placed within 3″ of terrain on boards that have gotten smaller and denser that has two skyfire BS 5+ lascannons and a BS 5+ d6-shot worse Krak missile. I should dismiss this out of hand but Rob keeps telling me that Chase has “feelings” and “has valuable photos of Spider-Man” so I have to give comparable ways to spend the points.  Buy some transports and things with real guns. In Marine land, it’s a Relic Contemptor and a couple of Impulsors with shields. More wounds, better shooting with better BS, adds mobility and can hold things you care about.

Chase: As always Cyle, thanks for giving us all that HOT TAKE and “Voice of Reason” that we can all ignore in the spirit of fun! 

In closing. Take these things for their ability to exist on the table and screen for characters and protect your anti-elite infantry. Stay for the pure BS 5+, reliable, firepower. Thank you.

Imperial Bastion

A surprising winner of the points update, the Imperial Bastion gives you a T9 (!!), 20-Wound building with 4 heavy bolters for 210 points that can hold 20 models and let 10 shoot out. It’s also well-equipped to protect characters within 3” who just want to hang out and with something like a 6” square footprint, it’s potentially deployable on most tables where terrain features are 12” apart. It’s more expensive than the Vengeance Weapon Battery but offers a ton more upside if you have a unit you can put inside it like Flash Gitz, Devastators, or Havocs. Generally you want models with a 36” or better range so they’ll still be able to shoot out of it.

Imperial Bunker

OK wait no hear me out – Bunkers are where it’s at. One of these will set you back 110 points without any guns but they can hold 10 models, allow 5 to shoot out per turn, and have 12W so they can shield nearby characters who don’t want to get in. Also they’re relatively small so if you want a sturdier, less mobile transport that your squad can shoot out of, the Imperial Bunker is probably your safest bet since it doesn’t force you to pay for any BS 5+ guns.

Look at this shit. Credit: Scott Horras

Skyshield Landing Pad

With only a 10-point increase from 8th edition, the Skyshield Landing Pad is just as useful for doing stupid bullshit in 9th edition, though the points you’ll need to field the triple Repulsor Executioners/Gladiators/Whatevers have gone up. The Skyshield now serves a double-protection role, giving units on top a 5+ invulnerable save in Shielded configuration and protecting characters within 3” thanks to being 20 wounds. Though if you’re loading it up with vehicles to protect you may not have needed that particular trait. Maybe it’ll be a good platform for Firestrike Turrets when those are released.

The big problem of course is that the Skyshield is basically a 12” square platform and will be impossible to place with the new terrain rules.

Void Shield Generator

This thing was real hot shit for a minute in 7th edition when they were impossible to get and absolutely necessary for protecting half of your army from summoned daemons, flyers, or barkstars or whatever the insane list du jour was at the time. Now, not so much. For 200 points, this T8 18W bad boy will give a 5+ invulnerable save against shooting attacks to everything wholly within 12″ being shot by things outside that range. If that seems like a lot to pay for that effect well, it is. Kustom Force Fields and Noctilith Crowns can do the effect for cheaper and with 9th edition favoring a push to the center of the table to hold objectives, there isn’t as much use for this.

Firestorm Redoubt

Basically two bunkers strapped together with a pair of quad Icarus lascannons on top. You’ll notice that a lot of these have anti-air guns. That’s a running theme from the Great Before Times when the only way most armies had to interact with flyers was to pay for terrain pieces with guns their armies couldn’t get any other way. Good times.

Plasma Incinerator

The Plasma Incinerator has it all – it combines the toughness and capacity of two Imperial Bunkers with a massive gun: The Plasma Obliterator. Like all the other fortifications, the Obliterator is BS 5+, but it has the advantage of being Heavy 2D6 with Blast, meaning that against the right targets it can likely get as many as 12 shots but will probably average 4 hits against big squads. OK so that probably isn’t worth 210 points. FINE.

 

The Real Unaligned Fortifications Were the Friends We Made Along The Way

Look, so maybe unaligned fortifications aren’t the secret cheat code to winning more game with this One Weird Trick. But there’s probably a way to use bunkers that isn’t completely awful, just merely suboptimal. And think about the EVERLASTING GLORY you’ll achieve if you win with a Fortifications list. Nobody remembers the asshole who won the Wheat City Open Major, but the person who wins literally anything with a Fortress of Redemption? That’s true immortality right there, my friend. 

 

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