With Codex: Adeptus Mechanicus releasing this weekend, former ITC champion and Art of War tactical genius Richard Siegler sat down to pen his thoughts on the new book and building lists to take advantage of the new rules.
The wait for the new Admech Codex has been a trial in patience as Games Workshop originally teased its release in April through Binharic Code last year only for the inner workings of supply lines to fail. Having chanted the appropriate rituals and sung the sacred hymns, the Omnissiah’s exaltations bless the competitive Warhammer 40k world’s Adeptus Mechanicus players this week! In this article I am going to start by giving a very brief, big picture run-down of what the new Codex has changed and then spend the rest of the article discussing the powerful Mars archetype that I believe is exceptionally powerful and how to best utilize it.
So what changed?
Most things in this book are new, with very few holdovers from the 8th edition style and rules of Admech. The overlapping auras of powerful rules affecting all nearby units are a thing of the past, and instead have been replaced by a plethora of immensely useful and synergistic Command Phase buffs to individual units. Between the Manipulus, Skitarii Marshal, Holy Order designations, and certain warlord traits and relics, the amount of unique command phase abilities is staggering.
But that is hardly the only change. Many of the arcane weapons of the Mechanicus have been dramatically improved from 8th to 9th edition. Highlights include the Twin Cognis Lascannons and Autocannons on the Ironstrider Ballistari, the Galvanic rifles of the humble Skitarii Rangers, the Corpuscarii Electro-Gauntlets, arc weapons in general, and many of the army’s melee weapons were improved among other positive changes. While the old Divinations of the Magos 6-inch aura of 6s to hit counting as additional hits is gone, in general Admech units hit harder before you start placing additional buffs on them.
Furthermore, in 8th edition, Admech were a faction well known for having an abundance of one command point utility stratagems that were situationally very powerful—the ability to automatically explode a vehicle, cognis overwatch to hit at ballistic skill on overwatch, plus one to saving throws at the end of a turn if the unit was on an objective, allow a vehicle to operate at top tier, tactical obliqua allowing a Serberys Raiders unit to move after being declared as a charge target, Seismic Bomb to limit the mobility of enemy units, and so forth. The 9th edition Codex continues this theme of Admech swiss army knife stratagems that will cause headaches for opponents. An updated version of Tactica Obliqua remains alongside Seismic Bomb and the ability to auto explode a vehicle, but a host of new stratagems join them that I believe will be mainstays in a typical matched play game. New strats that will be utilized often include the 1 command point Booster Thrust to send a Pteraxii unit back into reserves at the end of your turn with no chance of return damage, Acquisition at any costs to auto pass morale on a particular objective for 1 command point, and the Electro-shocked stratagem to have an enemy unit fight last if engaged with a Cult Mechanicus Core or Character unit. Galvanic Rifles and Radium Carbines receive an additional power boost with Galvanic Volley Fire and Enriched Rounds, respectively.
And finally, the updated Canticles, fresh Doctrina Imperatives, and Holy Order protocols round out the powerful core of the Admech Codex. Canticles, while having fewer ways to manipulate them, benefit Cult Mechanicus units (and Mars Skitarii units!) and include the ever popular Shroudpsalm and Benediction of the Omnissiah to reroll a hit, wound, and damage roll per unit with canticles. The Doctrina for Skitarii units adds a once per game optimization and depreciation, with highlights being +1 to saving throws and +1 ballistic skill with the new Skitarii Marshal allowing certain units to ignore the downside. Lastly the Holy Order protocols, particular Logi and Artisans offer incredibly useful and potent abilities to a unit in your command phase ranging from being able to fall back and shoot, ignoring armor penetration of 1 or 2 (not just against ranged attacks but also in combat!), the ability to ignore cover which was a weak spot of 8th edition Admech, and finally the potential to add +1 strength to a unit’s ranged weapons bringing galvanic rifles to strength 5 or Twin Cognis Lascannons to strength 10 against pesky durable units like Deathshroud Terminators.
Building a List
So let’s put all of these new rules together and try to build a list. I am going to start with Mars as the foundation because their Forge World trait grants Skitarii units, the majority of your datasheet options, Canticles of the Omnissiah, and thus it plays the most similar to 8th edition Admech. Additionally, Mars comes with an exceptionally deadly stratagem Wrath of Mars, which has become 1 command point for units of less than 11 power level and capped at a max of 6 mortal wounds. Combined with the volume of fire of Skitarii Rangers, Vanguards, Corpuscarii Priests, Pteraxii, Infiltrators, Serberys Raiders, and other units it is at times simply 1 command point to do 6 mortal wounds to a target. This allows the humble infantry units of the Admech to cripple heavier targets without having to commit dedicated anti-tank like Ironstrider Ballistari. With a larger unit of Serberys Raiders, who already do mortal wounds on 6s and can ignore look out sir, activating Wrath of Mars on such a unit almost guarantees a dead character if there are no friendly bodyguard units nearby.
What else makes Mars tick? Well, the other half of their Forge World Trait is reroll a hit roll each time a unit shoots or fights. So for lower volume of fire units like Ironstrider Ballistari, if you have a Skitarii Marshal nearby with Examplar’s Eternity, your unit will be rerolling ones to hit, along with one 2, and ones to wound. Or because your Ironstrider unit in Mars can benefit from Canticles your units could be affected by the Benediction of the Omnissiah canticle to reroll a hit, wound and damage roll each time it shoots. This dramatically increases the efficiency of twin cognis lascannons, which already became more reliable with flat 3+d3 damage, offering some of the games best and most affordable anti-tank weaponry.
At this point, we definitely want a couple Skitarii Ranger units, some Serberys Raiders, Ironstrider Ballistari for the main anti-tank, and Skitarii Marshals and at least one Holy Order Manipulus to further buff the offense and defense of our skitarii units. What else can we fit into a list. Well, Pteraxii Styrelizors fell practically automatic considering the Booster Thrust stratagem to place them back in reserves at the end of your turn. You could make this unit a potential While We Stand, We Fight in your list and ensure your opponent never has a chance to damage them, but you also have the game changing ability to force an opponent to screen for all five turns, something most armies will struggle with. This forced screening will place a continued flow of your opponent’s units into your firing lanes and allow you to more quickly remove their resources from the board.
Our army thus far does quite a bit of damage from range and can dish out reliable mortal wounds? Let’s continue with that trend and add some speed as well in the form of Archaeopter Fusilaves. These bombers are some of the best flyers in the game and they have become even more deadly as they roll 6 dice per vehicle or monster in the targeted unit instead of only 3 (still capped at 10 dice total). But it means a trio of Fusilaves can reliably take down the ever-present relic contemptor dreadnought with twin volkite blasters at the end of your movement phase. The flyers also offer easy access to engage on all fronts points, can reduce the mobility of crucial enemy units with the Seismic bomb stratagem, can prevent powerful units like Noise Marines from benefitting from aura abilities. Positionally, the larger flyer bases can be a nuisance for your opponent to work around because even though enemy units can move through the aircraft bases, they still have to end an inch away. Moreover, the threat of the Machine Spirit’s Revenge stratagem to automatically explode an Admech vehicle when it is destroyed can force an opponent away from particular objectives or an area of the board due to their fear of potential mortals. The threat alone could mean they do not take the risk of destroying it in the first place. Not to mention their ability to screen out your opponent’s reserves and clear landing zones for future Pteraxii shenanigans.
With this core in mind, here is a list that puts together some of the best datasheets and synergies that the new Admech Codex has to offer:
Siegler’s Mars List
Mars Patrol Detachment (0 CP, 1,225 points)
Forge World: Mars
HQ: Skitarii Marshall, Warlord: Programmed Retreat, relic: Exemplar’s Eternity 45
HQ: Manipulus, Torsion Cannon, Holy Order: Logi 110
Troops: 20 Skitarii Rangers, Galvanic Rifles, Omnispex 165
Troops: 20 Skitarii Rangers, Galvanic Rifles, Omnispex 165
Elites: 5 Sicarian Ruststalkers 85
FA: 4 Ironstrider Ballistarii, Twin Cognis Lascannon 300
FA: 3 Ironstrider Ballistarii, Twin Cognis Lascannon 225
FLY: Archaeopter Fusilave 130
Mars Outrider Detachment (-3 CP, 771 points)
HQ: Skitarii Marshall, -1 cp trait: Firepoint Telemetry Cache, -1 cp relic: Raiment of the Technomartyr 45
HQ: Manipulus, Magnarail Lance, Holy Order: Artisans 95
FA: 3 Serberys Raiders 48
FA: 8 Serberys Raiders, Enhanced Data-Tether 133
FA: 10 Pteraxii Sterylizors 190
FLY: Archaeopter Fusilave 130
FLY: Archaeopter Fusilave 130
How does this list function? Well, its damage is spread over many different units and the damage that it can do is primarily in shooting and through mortal wounds. Tough armies built on defensive mechanics such as good armor or invulnerable saves will truly feel the wrath of Mars! Conceptually, the list is designed around placing powerful defense bonuses like counting as in cover and ignoring ap -1 and -2 on a brick of Skitarii Rangers that begin to fortify themselves on objectives and trundle up the field. In order for the opponent to deal with such a defensible objective secured unit, they are going to need to dedicate a lot of volume of fire or a lot of anti-tank firepower that will reduce the efficiency of the defensive bonuses placed on the unit. They could shoot at the Archaeopters, but the combination of Shroudpsalm and the Bulwark Imperative make it so that there is no guarantee that they die turn one, and if the opponent tries, at the very least pressure is taken off the Ranger units.
This is important because the Rangers are not simply a bait, but also a damage dealer in their own right. They can, with several command phase buffs and stratagems, have their Galvanic Rifles up to strength 5, ap -2, 36 inch range, but could become rapid fire two with the Galvanic Volley Fire stratagem so within 18 inches each model would fire four shots with its rifle. Additionally they can be ignoring all hit and ballistic skill modifiers from Raiment of the Technomartyr and dishing out up to 6 mortal wounds from Wrath of Mars while rerolling hits and wounds of one from the Exemplar’s Skitarii Marshall. Take a shooting phase from this unit at your own peril.
If the opponent commits to attempting to kill the flyers or ranger units you can then respond with a second ranger unit and the Ironstrider Ballistari on your next turn. If they do not? Simply continue the push up the board with your defense buffs while utilizing the planes, Pteraxii, and Serbery’s Raiders to get angles on your opponent’s units and wait out their firepower while threatening their ability to play the mission.
Overall, this list is made possible by the highly synergistic and combo-oriented Codex which Admech have been granted by the Omnissiah. While Mars is far from the only Forge World that will be seen at the top of the meta, it is a consistent set of rules and allows you to get the most out of any Admech unit in the book, making it a great choice to begin building competitive lists.
That wraps up this look at building armies with the new Codex: Adeptus Mechanicus. For more on the faction’s new rules, you can check out Goonhammer’s review of the book here. And for more content from Richard Siegler, including battle reports, streamed games, analysis, and Q-and-As, head over to The Art of War 40k.