Chapter Approved 2019 Balance Changes – The Goonhammer Review

With the release of Chapter Approved 2019 comes Games Workshop’s annual points review of Warhammer 40,000. And while previous years have seen only changes published in the Chapter Approved Book, this year we’re getting our own standalone book with all of the game’s published points. With space marines currently tearing up the meta and showing no signs of stopping, Chapter Approved in many ways represents some factions’ best hopes for competing in the next 6-to-12 months, and minor points changes can make or break entire army lists. 

Chapter Approved represents a challenge for us from a review standpoint. While we try to be as complete as possible, we aren’t interested in reproducing the entire list of points or even changes here – we want to tell you what this means. With that in mind, we’re presenting a faction-by-faction analysis of the updates, looking at the most important increases and decreases for each faction, and how we feel that faction will be affected moving forward.

Overall Analysis

Let’s talk about the broad implications of this year’s Chapter Approved points adjustment, and where things are going. Specifically, a few trends we noticed:

  • GW seemed to think characters were too expensive: Characters from almost every faction got a reduction in points, with the exception of a few who were already considered to be either strong or very strong. This suggests that, overall, Games Workshop felt that characters were too expensive. We’re inclined to agree for most of the characters that got a drop, but there’s also a feeling that this could push the game more toward “herohammer,” and while we’re not making a value judgment on that at this time, it may be a departure from how some players want to play.
    Gunum Note: As you’ll see as you go through this. I’m one happy Gunum with this kind of focus. Dark Angels are going to be seeing a version of Hero Hammer that’s only been dreamed of since 5th edition. Now, that doesn’t inherently mean its good in anyway for us but if we added up the character point savings for my army. Well. The number is staggering. 
  • GW still feels like wargear should have the same across all factions and implementations: By our count, there are only five instances in the 40k rules where different models pay different costs for the same wargear (thunder hammers, storm shields, Astra Militarum special weapons, some Tyranid biomorphs, and Tau special systems). And while some of those are recent, this latest points update seems to point to ward GW preferring that pieces of wargear like meltaguns to have the same cost regardless of faction and unit taking them. There’s some upside to this, but we think it’s less than ideal, and it hurts units like Crisis suits quite a bit.
    Wings Note: Oddly they’ve broken this rule for actual units this time around – Daemon Princes are now cheapest in CSM/Daemons, a bit more in Death Guard and a lot more in Thousand Sons. This is actually totally reasonable, because DG and TSons ones are better, but part of what has made them so good up till now is that they’ve still cost the same price.
    TheChirurgeon’s Note: Nah I thought about it, and those units all have different names.
    Wings Note: 
    I mean yes, but they still insisted on unifying them anyway before. I’m glad they don’t any longer.
  • There is a hint of Power Creep: There’s no nice way to put it – when you look at the changes there’s vastly more stuff in the green than in the red, and plenty of units that were already fine got point cuts, often quite big ones. In the current environment that’s honestly probably needed to allow other factions to compete with Marines, but it does, overall, look a bit unhealthy. The flipside, of course, is that a bunch of units moving towards being viable is gold for list builders!
  • The rumour mill was extremely wrong: There were certainly some incorrect rumours bouncing around last year (5ppm infantry squads anyone?) but the volume of flat-out wrong stuff being stated with confidence this year has been baffling. Hopefully that’s just a sign of how much bigger and more engaged the 40k community is even compared to last year!
  • Goodbye Mounted Characters: Most of the units that appear to have been sent to Legends in this update were mounted characters who didn’t have models – Chaplains on bikes, Chaos Lords on Juggernauts, Sorcerers on Palanquins, and so on. That was pretty much what we expected. What we didn’t expect however was…
  • Forge World Dodged Legends: Our working assumption as a team has been that Forge World was going to get the same treatment as everything else – out of print stuff to Legends, in-production units stay. That doesn’t seem to be the case, unless there’s some PDF coming that we haven’t seen yet – everything from the Forge World indexes has a new cost and appears to be kicking around. The Chaplain Dreadnought, patient zero for many of the really horrible FW rules interactions out of the Marine codex, even got a point cut!
    Wings Note: I could share my thoughts about this in more detail, but Rob is shaking a broom at me and I hear the bells of Resin Town tolling to summon one of their legendary angry mobs, so suffice it to say “You win this time, FW lovers. I’ll get you next year! Nyaaaaah!”.
    *TheChirurgeon chases Wings out of the room using his broom*

Faction Analysis

While we’re not going to post the entire list of new points values and changes here, we’ve tasked the Goonhammer team with going through the changes and writing up an analysis of the faction, with winners, losers, and how things are looking for the faction moving forward. Over the next few weeks we’ll have deeper dives into various factions where we look at where we thing these changes take them for list building and what it might mean for the game as a whole.

Adeptus Custodes

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

James “One_Wing” Grover
Biggest Winners:

  • The Caladius Grav Tank
  • Contemptors
  • Pretty much all codex INFANTRY
  • The Vexilla Imperius

Biggest Losers:

  • The anti-Forge World conspiracy

They reverted the cost on the Caladius.

They reverted the cost on the Caladius.

The absolute madmen.

Obviously the Iliastus build does still have the nerfed weapon profile, but the Blaze Cannon build has been doing work in serious lists, and both guns are extremely good in the Marine meta. Given their partner in crime Trajan also got a minor cut, expect to see that particular Spearhead popping up again in an Imperium list near you. Isn’t that great?

Elsewhere, the changes are much more sensible and welcome. Pretty much all the non-BIKER units from the codex got a cut (either to the models or to their mandatory weapons) to bring them closer in line with what the Forge World choices offer, which is good and healthy. Basic Contemptors also got a nice little cut via their fist going down – it probably doesn’t make them competitive with the FW options, but it’s nice that it’s closer to being usable.

Credit: Pendulin

Finally, GW have finally noticed that no one takes any Vexilla other than the Magnifica, and dropped the Imperius down by a massive 30pts. I literally had to look up what this does (+1A aura) and…yeah, OK, maybe? Pure Custodes is still tough to operate with, but they’ve had a proper go at buffing them up, so fans of the golden host should be pleased.

TheChirurgeon’s Note: If I’m honest, I don’t know that this is nearly as big a deal post-marines. It all speaks to general power creep in 40k sure, but Custodes lists weren’t oppressive before and dropping them back down 20 points isn’t going to even threaten to tilt the meta the way marines have over the last two months. That said, this feels like an oversight, given that Chapter Approved 2019 was probably written and finalized before the emergency points change back in August. I wouldn’t be shocked if this got day 1 (or uh, week 2-4) errata, though it’s also weird that everything else has its post-finalization points included. This also suggests to me that the final points for Chapter Approved 2019 were probably set some time in June or July.
Wings Note: Having talked it over, I agree that this could have been because the tank getting a point change as well in the August update was a last minute addition to that PDF made after this unit suddenly broke out. I do think it’ll have a real impact on mixed Imperium lists if it keeps this change though – just look at Beth Taylor’s 4-1 Eggs list for an example of where these were already seeing play.

Adeptus Mechanicus

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Cyle “Naramyth” Thompson

Biggest Winners: 

  • Electro Priests
  • Useful HQ slots
  • Icaras Dune Crawlers
  • Ruststalkers

Biggest Losers:

  • Twin Heavy Phosphor Dune Crawlers
  • Uhhh?

Admech received several huge points cuts last year and it looks like GW wanted to make it a tradition. Almost every melee option in the book received points drops, punchy Kastellans Robots and Rustalkers went down quite a bit making them come in at 100ppm and 11(!) respectively. Robots were already almost there since they can fight twice once they change protocols and are annoying tough to kill. Ruststalkers were never take since they are so fragile and do not have a delivery mechanism, but a squad of 10 coming in at only 110 points makes me at least pause: they are a 4+/6++ with 2 wounds a model, and do cause mortals on 6+ to wound in combat. They aren’t Fulgurite Priests or anything, but they are almost there. 

Credit: Pendulin

Speaking of Fulgurite Priests. Holy Moly. 2ppm drop puts a squad of 10 for 140. I’m already playing two squads so this is, uh, pretty good. The other flavor of Priests, the Corpuscarii, also went down 2PPM. Now they have always been in a weird spot: having “Tesla” S5 AP- shooting and close combat is fine however is a great way to catch people with Admech’s own “intercept” strat Infoslave Skull and a platform to use Wrath of Mars and at 12PPM they might get put over the edge to be given a shot, especially with a Dunerider delivery.

Another huge win are Icarus Dune Crawlers just going down 10PPM to 100 base. I already like them more than Neutron Lasers, so another 10 point separation makes them a no brainer if Cawl is running around. 

Mars didn’t get all the wins though: Tech Priest Dominus and Manipulus went down 10 and 25(!) points respectively. The Dominus drop is huge, a 10 point drop on a practically required model is fantastic. The Manipulus I was always dubious on: most Admech shooting can move and shoot without penalty, and a +1move/advance/charge bubble is good however it has to be activated at the top of movement so it is difficult to get cheeky, especially on a 90 point platform. But at 65 points, there might be some play. Also both Tech Priest wargear options now free swaps among the options.
Wings Note: The Manipulus was pretty decent in the Kataphron Breacher spam lists, and is obviously now even better!

On the Forgeworld side Secutarii Peltasts also dropped to 1ppm to 80 for a squad of 10. As they only source of indirect fire pre Skorpius I frequently considered them but they have definitely lived in the shadow of the melee focused Hoplites. I’m not sure I would use them even at 8PPM without them being troops or something but here we are.

But wait, there is more! Grav Destroyers went down to be 3ppm cheaper than plasma destroyers, making them at least worth looking at. 135 for a consistent 15 grav shots (and some rapid fire phosphor shooting) is not nothing and can be splashed into armies easier than trying to include a Ryza or mixed detachment. Marines are everywhere so the d3 damage will happen frequently. Perhaps instead of a Ryza detachment these bois could be put into the the Lucius Legio Teleportarium and dropped in next to a cheap Dominus and/or Daedalous. 

Skitarii Ranger

Skitarii Ranger. Credit: Pendulin

Finally a bunch of wargear has dropped: transuranic arquebus went down 3PPM. I don’t like arquebuses since you can’t move and shoot them but they are good, hit hard, and are now only cheaper. Arc Rifles dropped from 4ppm to 2ppm. It’s not much, but having Rangers being able to threaten vehicles with S6 -1 d3 damage shooting is something I experimented with at 4ppm so at half price I would certainly consider them again with some filler points. Speaking of filler the Enhanced Broad Spectrum Data dropped to 1PPM. Rerolling morale checks on MSU Rangers isn’t exciting but at least Admech now have an option to fill the gap when the list is at 1999.

Also the never taken Twin Heavy Phosphor Dune Crawler went up 10 points for reasons. Cool.

I already think Admech is low key one of the better factions in the game and my current list drops 58 points (RIP Assassin nerf) without changing anything. Cutting the Assassin just gives me a now reduced Armiger or Morax with points to spare to give out 12 arc rifles. That is bananas. If I get out of Mars there might be enough points to put in a real knight without cutting nearly as much as I should. The other builds I’ve already kind of covered but they also only improved since most of the book got cheaper. I’m franky surprised that the Disintegrator and Daedalous didn’t get some changes. Maybe CA was printed before the greater community really caught on that the Disintegrators are like the best model in the game. It’s shaping up to be a great year for Admech.

Assassins

Vindicare Assassin in jungle temple

Vindicare Assassin by Corrode

James “One_Wing” Grover

Biggest Winners:

  • N/A

Biggest Losers:

  • Assassins

Something of a surprise here, all Assassins go up by 10pts. That feels a bit heavy handed honestly – they were certainly very good but the 2CP tax to bring one and incompatibility with Marines meant they felt like a pretty fair part of the ecosystem, so a point hike is a bit out of the blue. Sad times for people who were combining them with Knights as a way to hold backline objective in a Marine world I guess.

Astra Militarum

Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Biggest Winners:

  • Baneblade / Banehammer / Banesword / Doomhammer
  • Leman Russ Tanks
  • Non-mortar heavy weapons
  • Tempestus Scions

Biggest Losers:

  • Ogryns
  • Wyverns
  • Mortars
  • Vulture Gunships
  • Punisher Gatling Cannons

Astra Militarum were in a pretty solid place and so the tweaks they’ve received are more about adjusting playstyles rather than completely nerfing the army or trying to catch it up competitively. The army’s super-heavy tanks – the Baneblade and its variants – all dropped between 20 and 40 points. Tempestus Scions also won big, getting a 2 ppm drop, and Leman Russes came down 15 points.

Valhallans by SRM

Valhallans. Credit: SRM

On the losing end, Ogryns (+6), Wyverns (+10), and Mortars (+4) all saw significant increases, with the latter seeing some mitigation in that lascannons (-5) and missile launchers (-5) both got cheaper. In the case of lascannons, they got cheaper for the entire army, so the cost of some tanks will also have gone down.

Overall, these changes amount to more of an annoyance for Guard than a true challenge. They’ll squeeze the points out of other detachments in a soup army, but monofaction guard should easily regain anything lost to mortars with other units.

Wings Note: The hike on Mortars is very painful, as you’re looking at a ~40% increase in the cost per squad. That hurts both the option of putting them in on rate and also filling out a Brigade, as you can’t just write off your need to have three HS options for 100pts any more. The punisher gatling cannon change was also potentially needed, but feels a bit harsh on the Vulture given that it got a chassis hike too – punisher Tank Commanders will kick around, but I expect Vultures to vanish. I also don’t quite know who has been bullying the GW design team with regular Ogryns, but I confidently predict their big cost increase will take them from “seeing no play” to “seeing no play”.

On a brighter note, there’s a random, fairly sizeable cut to astropaths, which is nice since they were already used, and Catachan named character Sergeant Harker gets a spectacular point drop that probably makes him good somewhere. My guess is that, if a list that wants the newly discounted Baneblade exists, it’ll be Catachan and Harker will be a big part of it. Edit: Nope, we had his old cost wrong for some reason – Harker stays the same.

Finally – Scions were nearly good, seeing a lot of play in lists that were just on the fringes of being able to compete at the top, and the big cut on them quite plausibly pushes them over the line.

Blood Angels

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Biggest Winners:

  • Dante, Mephiston, Gabriel Seth, the Sanguinor
  • Death Company
  • Sanguinary Guard (weapon drops)

Biggest Losers:

  • Thunder Hammers, and Smash Captains holding them

Most of the Blood Angels points changes brought them in line with Space Marines, giving them drops to units like Land Raiders (-20) and Drop Pods (-20). They also got drops to several notable characters, including Commander Dante, who dropped 25 points to 150 in a move that makes him much more competitive, Mephiston, who dropped 15 points despite getting a better, Primaris profile, and Gabriel Seth, who came down 25 points. The Sanguinor also got a 20-point drop. 

On the unit side, the big winners here are Death Company. Death Company on foot and with jump packs each went down 2 points per model, and Death Company Dreadnoughts came down 10 points. The losers here are Smash Captains, who have to pay 40 points for their Thunder Hammers now.

There’s not a lot here but that’s fine — the real sparks for Blood Angels are in the Blood of Baal update, which essentially makes them a special Space Marines supplement, including giving them access to Combat Doctrines. For more on that, check out part 1 of our Blood of Baal review.

 

Chaos Daemons

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Biggest Winners: 

  • Greater Daemons of Khorne, Nurgle, and Slaanesh
  • Brimstone Horrors stayed the same
  • Winged Daemon Princes
  • Flamers, Exalted Flamers

Biggest Losers: 

  • Plaguebearers
  • Heralds of Tzeentch

The one rumored change that actually did happen, Plaguebearers went up to 8 points per model. This is a devastating blow to daemon armies and armies that relied on 30-model blobs of plaguebearers moving up the table. Likewise, the Plaguebearer-heavy Chaos soup army took another crippling blow as Tzeentch Heralds, including Changecasters, Fluxmasters, Fateskimmers, and the Blue Scribes, all got 10 to 20-point bumps in cost, making them much harder to include. This, along with the changes to Thousand Sons, should completely kill the current Jim Vesal-inspired Chaos daemons list.

On the upside, Winged Daemon Princes dropped to 155 points, though it may feel like scant consolation for the increase to Thousand Sons Winged DPs, and Greater Daemons dropped in points across the board, usually around 30-40 points. It’s a big adjustment but I’m not sure it’s enough to make them playable. Also, brimstone horrors stayed the same, so they’re still a dirt-cheap option for players who need to fill Daemon battalions with insanely cheap screens to protect other units.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Somewhere in the middle are the Khorne daemons. Bloodthirsters (-30) and Bloodcrushers (-7) got cheaper, and it might be worth looking at the latter for Khorne detachments now, given that they also got a stat boost earlier this year with Wrath and Rapture. Khorne Winged DPs being cheaper is also a big boost. And while Nurgle daemons got brutal nerfs to Plaguebearers and Beasts, they got a big drops to Great Unclean Ones (-35), and GUOs with bells (-45) may now be a viable combo with Myphitic Blight Haulers (more on that below). 

The big winners here are the burgeoning forces of Slaanesh. We recently saw a Slaanesh Daemons army from Asa Carlson finish 3rd (5-1) at the Renegade Open and many key units in that list, such as the Keeper of Secrets, dropped 30 points (saving the list 90 points), while Shalaxi Helbane dropped 40 points, and Fiends dropped 5 points per model. If you’re Asa looking at bringing the same list to the next event, you’ve suddenly got 150 extra points to work with. And in addition to the new points, Chapter Approved 2019 gives Slaanesh players access to three new Slaanesh Herald options – Heralds on Seeker Chariots (90), Hellflayers (100), and Exalted Seeker Chariots (120). Of these, the Seeker Chariot and Hellflayer variety are more likely to be useful, giving you sub-10-wound chariots that can zip around providing a Locus aura to nearby Slaanesh Daemons. 

Overall, Daemons got a massive shake-up. It’s difficult to see how there’s a path forward for traditional plaguebearer-heavy lists, but there’s good reason to believe that Slaanesh lists using greater daemons that suddenly dodge the anti-vehicle firepower of Imperial Fists and don’t really care about the added AP of Combat Doctrines may suddenly be an avenue for Daemon players to take.

Wings Note: Chaos is where the action, both good and bad, is this time. I’m not going to shed a tear for the Plaguebearer/Tsons lists – I understand that they weren’t easy to play or master but they were so aggressively miserable to play against that them being gone from the metagame is a good thing in my book. I’m a fast player and it’s extremely rare for my games not to finish 6 turns, and I think more than half the times where that’s happened for me it’s been thanks to Plaguebearers. Good riddance.

Slaanesh though. Slaanesh could definitely be a thing now. Monster mash Chaos lists trade on putting tough to answer threats in your opponent’s face early and often, and the ability to advance and charge with high movement values makes Slaanesh monsters an appealing option in this strategy, albeit one where the price hasn’t quite been right up till now. With the big cuts they’ve picked up, expect serious testing of Keepers of Secrets, especially as the Contorted Epitome is a great backup to them and low-key one of the single best units in the game.

Finally, Bloodthirsters and Winged Princes coming down is very nice for Khorne. All told, there’s definitely some real upside here for people who want to play Daemon armies with stuff that hasn’t been on the top tables, but it’s definitely an upheaval from what Chaos was used to.

Chaos Space Marines

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Biggest Winners: 

  • Daemon Princes with Wings
  • Berzerkers
  • Noise Marines
  • Obliterators
  • Chaos Space Marines
  • Cultists
  • Possessed
  • Greater Possessed
  • Warp Talons
  • Terminators
  • Heldrakes
  • Maulerfiends
  • The Lord of Skulls

Biggest Losers: 

  • Plague marines staying the same

Chaos Space Marines are a very, very strong contender for the “Big Winners of Chapter Approved 2019” title, seeing significant points reductions for a number of key units in their arsenal, plus a few points drops to bring other units in line with Space Marines. Both of the army’s line Troops dropped in cost, with Cultists going back down to 4 points per model after numerous rules nerfs to curb their uh, dominance and Chaos Space Marines have gone down to 11 points per model now to reflect that they’re really inferior compared to their loyalist, combat doctrine-backed counterparts. Both are good changes that give Chaos marine armies more to work with, even before you consider the other units that dropped in costs.

Night Lords Chaos Space Marines By Tyler "Coda" Moore

Night Lords Chaos Space Marines By Tyler “Coda” Moore

Cheaper cutlists means cheaper battalions and a potential use for 30-model squads that now clock in at 120 points. On the other hand, 5-man chaos marine squads now come in at a tasty 55 points, which makes Spiky 17 detachments even more attractive as CP generators. People will ask if this makes Chaos Space Marines playable, but in my heart of hearts, I know that the drop to Cultists means more, since filling out a detachment Troops slot can now be done for 40 points instead of 50 or 55. Chaos Space Marines are more playable than they’ve ever been, but still not really worth fielding. The other unit to watch out for are Chosen, who now for 12ppm give Chaos Marines +1 attack and Ld and a buttload of weapon options. If they were troops, they would be playable.

Wings Note: My gut instinct is that this analysis is broadly correct – Cultists are going to be filling out detachments a lot, but the Spiky 17 probably has real game now, especially as the Master of Executions got a cut to act as another low cost HQ filler.

There are other big winners in the new changes – both Berserkers and Noise Marines got very nice points drops, 1 point and 2 points per model, respectively. Berserkers dropped 1 point to 15ppm (16 now with chainaxes), making them even more efficient and one of the game’s best troop options (for World Eaters). An even bigger surprise was Noise Marines however, who dropped 2 points per model and had their Blastmasters (a heavy weapon option) go down 8 points (to 12 points). This is a huge boost to a unit that was already borderline in the Chaos Space Marines Codex and poised to get much better with the release of Faith and Fury. Rhinos also got cheaper, if you weren’t sure about buying a Termite Drill to transport your lads yet. Both World Eaters and Emperor’s Children players have a lot to be happy about with this. Oh and Terminators also dropped to 23 points per model (-3) base cost, making them even more playable, particularly as World Eaters players have started eyeing them up for conversion into Berserkers.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Oh yeah – Obliterators dropped to 95 points per model, a 20-point drop that absolutely pushes them over the edge into respectable, tournament playability. Windmill slam the Mark of Slaanesh onto these bad boys and deep strike them next to whatever target you want to delete, then fire them up again with Endless Cacophony to delete another target. They’re great in Black Legion with Abaddon, in Iron Warriors, or in Word Bearers going hard on Daemon tricks.

Speaking of Daemon Tricks, Possessed drop 3 points per model to 17 and Greater Possessed drop 10. Again, when coupled with Faith and Fury, this drop makes Possessed bombs suddenly viable, particularly in armies that can load up a Termite drill full of monsters and reliably charge after it tunnels its way up onto the table. Warp Talons also went down 3 points per model base, and then lightning claws went down another 2, making these daemons a much more attractive 19 points per model. Plan on seeing a “Hear Me Out, Cyle” in the near future that uses these guys.

Character drops appear to be a theme across the board in Chapter Approved 2019 and here Abaddon (-30), Haarken (-23), and Fabius Bile (-10) all got meaty drops. The drop to Abaddon is particularly noteworthy given that he powers a lot of Cultist shenanigans. It also makes it less painful to drop him next to some Obliterators for some full re-rolls. Winged Daemon Princes dropped 15 points per model (though only for Chaos Space Marines), making them even more attractive. Dark Apostles dropped 28 points to be in-line with their inferior loyalist counterparts. And Sorcerers, Masters of Executions, and Masters of Possession all dropped a few points, giving you room to fit other stuff in your armies.

Finally, let’s talk daemon engines. The Lord Discordant stayed put – hooray! That’s great because he’s an important part of the army. Heldrakes also went down 17 points, thanks to their claws becoming free, while baleflamers dropped to 20 points (also good for Lords Discordant). That’s a big, helpful change for a unit that is about to become a 2-of or 3-of in a lot of lists in order to buy access to Night Lords stratagems. The Venomcrawler dropped 15 points, which is a big assist to a unit that sometimes saw play, while Maulerfiends also got a slight drop (-10 to the base model), but if you want to take Magma Cutters instead of Lasher Tendrils, that option is now cheaper. Forgefiends also got a drop but they’re still terrible. And the Lord of Skulls got a major drop (315 for the base model, -65 points, and a 94-point drop on the Hades Gatling Cannon while the Daemongore and Skullhurler options also came down), but I’m still not sold on it as a competitively viable choice.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Overall, this is a massive boost to an army that was suddenly struggling to compete with marines and boosts us in many of the right places just as Faith and Fury is about to re-energize the traitor legions. It’s hard to not to be giddy about all the options Chaos Space Marines have going into next year.

Wings Note: Honestly? I love it. I massively enjoyed working on our F&F review because of how innovative and interesting a lot of the rules were, but the whole time I was mildly dreading it all coming to nothing because of the units just being a bit overpriced.

These changes should open the floodgates. Chaos fans now have a wealth of things to play with and the fallback of being able to fill out a Battalion with 120pts of Cultists, and I’m super excited to see what they come up with.

 

Chaos Knights

Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Biggest Winners: 

  • Desecrators
  • War Dogs

Biggest Losers: 

  • None

Chaos Knights got two adjustments, the first being a 15-point drop on War Dogs, which is great, since it makes them much more playable, and a 45-point drop on Desecrators, who previously hadn’t seen any action. And while I’m still not convinced the Laser Destructor on the Desecrator is quite good enough, the reduction in points for both units makes me much more hopeful that a Relic Destructor Desecrator combined with two Helverin War Dogs may in fact be a viable option now. At least, I really hope it is because I’ve already built these models.

Wings Note: The cut on the Desecrator is very substantial, and especially with how uniquely good War Dog Moiraxes are in Infernals, I do think it’s possible there’s a heavy shooting list to try around a Desecrator and a lot of Moirax and Helverin War Dogs.

Craftworlds

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

James “One_Wing” Grover

Biggest Winners:

  • Character cuts
  • Grav Tanks
  • Wraiths
  • Aspects

Biggest Losers:

  • Crimson Hunters
  • Core infantry unchanged
  • Phoenix Lords still suck

Biggest WTF:

  • Nightwings unchanged

Not going to lie, I’ve been dreading this – around the time this must have been being finalised Eldar were dominant and had been for a while, with the true horror of Space Marines not yet being apparent. With that in mind, I’m delighted that only Crimson Hunters and Eldrad have taken a hit (turns out cutting him to 135 was, indeed, a bit much) and many lists are going to recover some of their losses on planes from characters. GW have finally gone in and partially undone some of the nerfs to Runes of Battle casters that old Ynnari mandated, likely immediately refunding 15-25 points to most lists. Them remembering that the Bonesinger exists and giving him a cut is nice too, and could even be relevant if you need a cheap way to fill a Brigade or something.

Elsewhere the stuff that’s historically been the core has been largely untouched (and none of the Troops dropping hurts), but a lot of stuff that was on the fringes and in emerging lists has picked up a minor cut, especially the tools used by the Expert Crafter go-wide lists like Gaz Jones’ that we looked at last week. I think I’m going to have to finally buy those Vibro Cannons.

Shining Spears

Shining Spears. Credit: Wings

Shining Spears and Fire Prisms have also picked up large drops, making the Christensson list from that same article look even more attractive. Dark Reapers got a cut too, but they’re kind of on hiatus until something gets done about Marine artillery, as there’s simply not much you can do with them currently. Shadow Spectres also got a surprisingly huge cut (via their guns), so I probably need to at least consider buying some again, as a full unit is now priced to move. My largest robot son also got a decent cut on the Wraithcannon build and a big one on the sword build, ensuring that I will be lured into a series of bad list-related decisions at least twice over the coming year.

Finally, another pass has been taken at making some units that see no play look worthwhile, and some of the cuts are notable enough that it might actually work. Among the other Aspects, Banshees, Scorpions, Warp Spiders and Fire Dragons all got cuts. The latter two are still overpriced, but I’ve run and been happy with spoiler units of Banshees, and Scorpions are so cheap now that at least testing a full unit of 10 with Scorpion’s Sting feels plausible. 

The two really eye catching ones are Wraithcannon Wraithguard and Axe Wraithblades. The former got a more substantial cut than last year and are now priced to move at 165 for a unit. They’re tough models to crack, they’re decent line defence against enemy planes and work well with Expert Crafters, so I expect to give mine another go. Axe Wraithguard though…I have no idea what they’re thinking bringing them down to the same cost as sword ones but being able to put together a full squad of these for 350 and immediately Protect them when they come in is totally mental and I expect to see this tried as a serious strategy. 

Finally, the WTF section. Several of the Phoenix Lords got cuts but they’re still largely terrible. I want to understand the process that has Jain Zar at 10pts more than Drahzar but my mind can’t grasp it. The biggest screaming horror here though is the Nightwing. Liam and I chatted about this at Eggs last week and concluded the only plausible reason it got cut to 138pts was that no one at GW knew what they were. The fact that it has remained at this cost suggests that’s still true.

Dark Angels

Chase “Gunum” Garber

Biggest Winners: 

  • Sammy on Bike 
  • Ezekiel 
  • Azrael
  • Nephilim Jetfighter
  • Death Wing Characters
  • Ravenwing Characters

Biggest Losers: 

  • Chapter Ancient 
  • Smash Captains 
  • Talon Masters

In Dark Angels, wIth this grouping of point drops we are looking at the time of Heroes. All of the Dark Angels characters went down a lot, with Sammel on Corvex going down almost 50 points. Now, with the focus on characters for these point drops, I think shows just how out of sync our heroes were with everyone else’s. Azrael’s 4++ aura was good and all, but without the full rerolls other Chapter Masters receive his cost was way too high at 180. Seeing him brought down any amount is a huge step in the right direction and a welcome inclusion for any die-hard Angel fan. 

I really can’t stress how much the characters have dropped in points and what that has the possibility to affect our builds moving forward. We might actually see Raven Wing champions and Death Wing champions on the table. As a unit that you can only have one of in a list, having them at a cost of 130+ was just rude. They didn’t have the survivability nor the damage output to justify their cost. Now that both those units are dropping over 30pts each. Does that make them playable? Eh? Kinda? In a more casual game space, being able to toss these kinds of bullies out is pretty nice. But in the ITC giving out a bunch of Head Hunter targets as well as some easy kills. Still, probably not worth taking.

Ravenwing Dark Talon

Ravenwing Dark Talon. Credit: Greg Chiasson

A thing I know a lot of our Dark Angels readers are going to be looking for are the specific units to our army line, that I have famously not been the biggest fan of. A lot of that comes from not being cost-efficient in the least. Dark Talons (-15), Jetfighters (-33), Deathwing Knights (-2), and Ravenwing Black Knights (-4) are all going down in cost. Will it be enough for me to play them? You’ll have to check out my next Hear Me Out, Cyle! to find out. Spoiler: There’s some sort of WING in it.

Hell, even Ezekiel and Asmodai saw point changes, and those are currently huge parts to some of my lists. I’m pretty excited to use drop pods along with some certain characters and get them to where they need to be!

The big miss I feel is Talon Masters, who received no point decrease at all. Cost at 188 still and with no Invulnerable save, they are still are hard take for me. Also, one of the oversights that were applied to other Marine books was fixed, by bringing our Smash Captains cost up to match. Luckily for me, the Vanguard Book still hasn’t been brought to match the Space Marine Codex. 

Just as a quick, Hear Me Out! Reader, Ravenwing speeders with Typhoons Missile Launchers went down around 10 points. Not a lot, but when I run my squadron of 5 I’ll be saving 50 points! New speeder Meta, here I come!

Death Guard

Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Biggest Winners: 

  • Deathshroud Terminators
  • Foetid Blight Drones
  • Myphitic Blight-Haulers
  • Typhus

Biggest Losers: 

  • Plague marines stayed the same
  • Blightlord terminators stayed the same

OK, let’s address the big ones. Plague Marines got neither a points drop nor +1 wound, and that really hurts a unit that needed to be just a little bit better. On the other hand, Plague Marines were merely borderline, not unplayably bad, and so they’ll largely be OK post-update. The same goes for Blightlord Terminators, who also saw occasional tournament play at their current cost. Necrosius, the army’s best casting option (via Forgeworld) got 10 points more expensive (but he’s still playable at that cost!) edit: no he didn’t, we missed that he changed last year, but sorcerers and Malignant Plaguecasters got 10 points cheaper.

Credit: Zuul the Cat

But while those let-downs are merely minor, there are some big, good developments for Death Guard in Chapter Approved 2019 that make mechanized Death Guard a hell of a lot more attractive. Myphitic Blight-Haulers, the adorable little daemon engines that almost could, got a 15-point drop to 60 points per model, making them much more viable, particularly when you consider that the bell-armed Great Unclean Ones that can bring them back to the battlefield are now 45 points cheaper as well. Foetid Bloat Drones also got a significant drop, as the mandatory Plague Probe weapon dropped 20 points, bringing them down to 138 points with double plaguespitters. Plagueburst Crawlers were already strong enough to compete, and between the three options here, it’s not hard to imagine some very nasty Death Guard armies shoving a bunch of high-toughness, Disgustingly resilient vehicles down their opponents’ throats while tough units sit on objectives.

Credit: TheChirurgeon

And while Plaguebearers got more expensive, they haven’t gone up in power, meaning there may actually be some viability to the notion of summoning them now.

Finally, Typhus went down 20 points, Cultists also dropped to 1ppm, and Mortarion stayed the same. That’s OK for Morty, especially because his Deathshroud Terminator bodyguards dropped a whopping 10 points per model, making them cheaper than Blightlords and a more viable way to protect Mortarion in the early turns of the game.

Overall, the changes are a net positive for Death Guard, who look to be more competitive as a stand-alone army now and more able to compete with the likes of The Purge. While it remains to be seen how they’ll fare after whatever Psychic Awakening has in store for them, we’re excited to see what players can come up with using cheaper daemon engines.

Wings Note: Don’t sleep on the Blight Hauler and Bloat Drone drops here – I’ve played against these enough to know that they’re surprisingly good on the table, and have been really only held back by being slightly overcosted. Being efficiently costed with defensive stats that work against Marine firepower should give them a real chance of a breakthrough.

Deathwatch

James “One_Wing” Grover

Biggest Winners:

  • Characters (other than Smash Captains)
  • Corvus Blackstar

Biggest Losers:

  • Smash Captains

Everything’s pretty quiet for the Deathwatch. Too quiet. No really, that’s not just a joke, they probably needed some boosts.

There are a few point standardisations here to bring things in line with the rest of Space Marines, and quite a few cuts to the characters, making detachments a bit easy to build, but nothing that really deals with the fact that there’s really no reason to run them over regular Marines right now. Smash Captains also now have to pay the full price for Thunder Hammers. Having seen the treatment Blood Angels get in Blood of Baal, hopefully that’s on the horizon for Deathwatch too, as that’s what they need to get back in the game.

The one unique bright spot for Deathwatch is the big cut to the Corvus Blackstar. It still looks a bit silly next to mainline Marine fliers, but it’s at least closer to a competitive thing now, and nice for people who want to try and make pure Deathwatch work.

Credit: TheChirurgeon

TheChirurgeon’s Note: Deathwatch need more than just some point drops and these are fine. I’d prefer if they weren’t paying full price for Thunder Hammers, given how they haven’t gotten any of the other improvements to go with the new cost. I look forward to trying to field my Blackstar now.

 

Drukhari

James “One_Wing” Grover

Biggest Winners:

  • Archons
  • Drahzar
  • Reivers

Biggest Losers:

  • Ravagers
  • Razorwing Jetfighter

Things are relatively quiet in Drukhari land, other than the arrival of some nerfs that are, sadly, past their sell by date. Ravagers were definitely dominant at one point, but haven’t really been a problem for a while and nerfing them to be effectively the same cost as a goddamn Fire Prism is just weird. The Razorwing nerf is a bit more defensible just because it’s clear that GW, not unreasonably, wants flier spam gone – but forgetting to nerf the Nightwing is going to totally undermine that.

Credit: Corrode

It isn’t all doom and gloom though. A bunch of unloved units get some cuts, with Reivers probably being the most notable just because of how cheap it now is to flood the board with a lot of them. This works well for GSC with their bikes and there are quite a few similarities, and I think them being usable is pretty plausible. Incubi and Hellions probably had more fundamental problems that needed solving, but I guess maybe a truly massive blob of Hellions is an OK spoiler to Primaris gunlines?

Drukhari Characters. Credit: Wings

The real good news here is on the core characters, Archons getting a big cut (presumably reflecting their diminished utility without blasters) and Drahzar going to a very attractive looking 100pts. A sinister 17 (original detachment name, do not steal) now comes in at a minimum cost of 204, making it easily the cheapest way to load up on CP in Aeldari – a nice option for the wider faction.

Oh, they also seem to have missed out costs for the Drukhari vehicle upgrades. Whoops.

Genestealer Cults

James “One_Wing” Grover

Biggest Winners:

  • Achilles Ridgerunners
  • Hybrid Metamorphs

Biggest Losers:

  • Aberrants
  • Bike Bombs
  • Kelermorphs

Ouch. GSC are among the biggest losers in CA, with the hits laser-focused on some of their best units. Aberrants get absolutely kicked in, going up in cost per model and having the “good” Hypermorph weapon go up by 15pts. All told, the “standard” Aberrant squad loadout is now 60pts pricier, and at that point you probably just don’t bother – I expect most lists to switch back to Acolytes. I’m honestly unsure what to make of this – the finalisation process for this book myst have been happening just as Nanavati’s double Aberrant list was on the rampage, because while they’re good, they aren’t so much better than Acolytes that 60pts per unit is a sensible hike.

Aberrants

Aberrants. Credit: Soggy

The pain doesn’t stop there, with both the Kelermorph and the bike bomb going up in cost (the latter via increases to the price of demo charges). Both of these acted as “scalpels” in the GSC arsenal, letting them take out key targets pretty reliably, so an increased cost to include them hurts. It also makes Telepathic Summons a bit less good, as keeping 75pts back for a Kelermorph is a tougher sell. Finally, just for an extra little kick, Mortars have gone up (in line with their hikes across the board), so GSC Brigades get an extra tax.

It isn’t quite all doom and gloom. It has been correctly identified that Hybrid Metamorphs needed to be cheaper to be worth looking at, and while they don’t really have a role in the current metagame (they’re mostly a counter to the mirror and other deep strike hordes) it’s nice to have them as an option.

The potentially more relevant change in the metagame is the massive cut to Heavy Mining Laser Achilles. Waaaaay back when we were an adorable baby website that tried real hard, I put together a gimmick Hivecult build that spammed these in my GSC review to show off some of the alternatives in the book. These things have gone down 25pts each, and you can apply a very tasty set of buffs to them as Hivecult. These are potentially very well tuned to the current meta, maybe as an add-on to give some ranged anti-tank punch to a Tyranid list, as you really, really want stuff that can reach out and murder enemy vehicles turn one right now. They aren’t even too bad defensively against some Marine lists thanks to Cult Ambush – both stalker bolt rifles and planes operate under range constraints, so you might be able to at least partially dodge an alpha strike on these.

With Tyranids getting a huge shot in the arm with Blood of Baal, I think this detachment is worth a look – but they don’t sugar coat the fact that GSC have a real rough time of it in these changes.

Grey Knights

Grey Knight Kill Team

A Grey Knight Kill Team. These guys are psychic powerhouses – Credit: Pendulin

James “One_Wing” Grover

Biggest Winners:

  • Paladins
  • Dreadknights (GM and regular)
  • Interceptors
  • Purifiers
  • Purgation Squads

Biggest Losers:

  • N/A

Grey Knights have been perpetually vying with Necrons for title of “worst pure army” and have been getting the “better” of that argument since CA2018 gave Necrons a decent build, but there are a few lists that people have just about been managing to make work and they usually lean on checks notes Paladins, Dreadknights, Interceptors, Purgation Squads and Purifiers.

Well OK then.

Grey Knight Gunner

A Grey Knight Gunner armed with Psilencer – Credit: Pendulin

Huge point cuts to all of the units that make up the only successful lists in a faction is definitely one way to try and give an army a shot in the arm I’ll grant you that. One of the few GK lists I was able to find on 40kstats is, by my count, over 250pts richer after this change, enough to add a whole additional big unit. Grey Knights are probably still in a tough spot even with this, but they’ve been pretty bold with the changes here and I think it’s likely we’ll see a few more people making their way to podium places with the army.

Harlequins

James “One_Wing” Grover

Biggest Winners:

  • Starweaver
  • Skyweavers
  • Troupes
  • Characters

Biggest Losers:

  • N/A

Pure Harlequins have it real rough right now, because their competitive gimmick of “good against everything except volume shooting” gets a bit of a yikes right now. Having said that, there is a pretty aggressive attempt here to at least try and get them on the table. 80pt skyweavers is massive, as is the drop in Troupes. Before you start buying special weapons, you can fill out the “standard” Harlequin core of 5 units of Troupers in transports and one unit of 12 in deep strike for just over 800 pts, where before you’d have been at closer to 1000. That isn’t nothing, and the fact that relevant Battalions of Harlequins now come together at a pretty aggressive price is another thing that’s interesting for the wider Aeldari faction. Skyweavers, which were already seeing a lot of play, going down 5PPM is also very nice.

A Harlequins Troupe

Harlequin Troupe. Credit: Flavivirus

Does this get pure Harlequins on the board? Probably not. I don’t want to completely rule out them finding some sort of breakthrough, because anyone who was previously running pure Harlequins probably finds themselves with 200+ more points to spend. That’s honestly pretty eye watering, but I still expect it to be uphill for them because of just how good Marines are at dunking them.

Imperial Knights

Credit: TheChirurgeon

James “One_Wing” Grover

Biggest Winners:

  • Armigers
  • Preceptors
  • Canis Rex

Biggest Losers:

  • Gallants

Same story as over in Chaos Knights, with Armigers getting a cut and the Armiger buffing Questoris options getting cheaper. Sadly I think the Preceptor/Canis is less of a relevant thing here – their gun is less well suited for babysitting long-ranged Armigers, and without the Infernal buff spamming baby Knights is a lot less exciting.

Edit: We missed Gallants on the initial pass here – they went up 20, and that kind of sucks, as they probably didn’t need it any more.

Imperial Knight

Imperial Knight. Credit: Jack Hunter

Warglaives have been seeing a decent amount of play in Imperial detachments, so making them a bit cheaper is certainly nice for people who want to soup in a full detachment, but I don’t think anything here is really going to light the world up or unlock new builds, whereas I think there’s a slim chance the same changes in Chaos actually might.

 

Necrons

James “One_Wing” Grover

Biggest Winners:

  • Characters
  • C’tan
  • Heavy Destroyers
  • Wraiths
  • Ghost Arks

Biggest Losers:

  • Destroyers staying the same
  • Warriors staying the same

Dammit they’re trying. Necrons have been perpetually in a rough spot since their book dropped, and while last year’s Chapter Approved cutting the points on pretty much everything unlocked at least one valid build (the Doomsday Ark/Doom Scythe list) the variety has been dire and pretty much everything in the army folds hard to Marines.

That last part is still true but they’ve had a good go at giving the faction a shot in the arm by…cutting the points on pretty much everything again. Sure, why not? That does exclude the current good stuff (Doom Scythes, Doomsday Arks, Immortals) but everything else? Go wild, take some points off, see what happens!

The immediate win for most armies are the character cuts. Other than the vanilla Cryptek and Trazyn, every other HQ went down by at least ten points, meaning that the vast majority of armies are going to have at least a few more to play with, and aiming for a dual battalion isn’t quite as hateful as it once was. Catacomb Command Barges are notably very cool at their new price.

Catacomb Command Barge

Catacomb Command Barge. Credit: Wings

Elsewhere, big point drops were handed out to most elite infantry, most of the monster mash stuff and quite a few vehicles. The elite infantry still get a big “meh” from me – most of the Necron offerings here are just fundamentally unsuited to 8th edition, and even at 20ppm I’m looking at Triarch Praetorians and shrugging. 

The monster mash is considerably more interesting – Wraiths get a bit cut on top of last year’s, and are one of the few things in the army that matches up decently to Marine shooting. The weirdest change is Heavy Destroyers dropping by 13pts – I assume the thinking is that only being able to run them in 3s makes them way less good strat users than the regular ones, which does kind of bear out. You have no excuse not to put one in every Destroyer unit though. The Vehicle changes are all kind of “nice-to-have”. Ghost Arks would now be insane if Marines didn’t melt them, but they do so the new cost is only mildly rather than extremely exciting. Triarch Stalkers are at least fine now, but the other random stuff probably doesn’t matter.

Finally – C’tan. Oh yes. Oh yes indeed. At least 20pts off every C’tan other than the vault, and a massive 45 off the Deceiver. It is safe to assume that my silly Monster Mash list will be going out to play again soon.

C'tan Assemble!

WHAT’S THE SAME ABOUT EVERYTHING IN THIS PICTURE? IT ALL GOT CHEAPER! COWER FOOLS! Credit: Overlord_Wings

 

Orks

James “One_Wing” Grover

Biggest Winners:

  • Orktober Buggies
  • Smasha guns only getting a mild hit

Biggest Losers:

  • Losing bike characters to Legends

You know how last week we looked at a list that spammed some of the Orktober buggies and did extremely well in Marine meta? Well good news Ork fans, it just got more than 100pts cheaper, as all of them got cuts reflecting the fact that, up until recently, no one has touched them. The Shokkjump Dragster (the premium shooting option) and the Mekatrakk Scrapjet (able to flex into strong melee) were the best performing options before and I think that’s probably still true, but the Rukkatrukk Squigbuggy going down by almost a third makes me at least want to look at it seriously. 

The other good news for Orks is that an expected nerf has arrived, but way more softly than expected. Smasha guns were waaaay too good at 31PPM, and a mere 2 point hike leaves them still probably too potent. It would seem Ork players have been lucky, and no one has at any point slapped an 18-smasha army down against the design team so that they can discover just how miserable it is first-hand, Flyrant style.

That’s not to say Orks are completely unscathed though, because more than anyone else the loss of Index Bike character options hurts them like hell. Big Meks and (especially) Warbosses on warbikes were competitive mainstays in the horde-style lists, and the loss of them is probably only going to accelerate the shift towards shooty/buggy based Ork lists with a tonne of grots as the big competitive players. The one, frankly weird silver lining here is that despite being, as far as we can tell, an Index only option, the basic foot Big Mek with Kustom Force Field has stayed around. We honestly don’t know what’s up there, but I guess if you were using one good news – you probably still can!

Wings Edit Note: A reader has pointed out that Warbosses on Bikes appear to have points in the Forge World section and thus survive, apparently? At this point we have no idea what’s going on with some of this, and will need to wait for the Legends PDF to really understand it.

Sisters of Battle

Sisters of battle just got a new codex. They are the only army for which there is nothing to report. Their points are in Chapter Approved 2019, but identical to what’s in their codex. Check out our review of the codex here.

Wings Note: Technically there is news here – the Repressor is safe after all. We’ll update our review with a note about it once we’re done with all this nonsense

Space Marines

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Biggest Winners:

  • The Astraeus
  • Chaplain Venerable Dreadnoughts
  • Land Raider Achilles
  • Mortis Dreadnoughts
  • Badab Wars Characters
  • Relic Leviathan Dreadnoughts
  • Relic Contemptor Dreadnoughts
  • Everyone worried by the rumours of core cuts.

Biggest Losers:

  • Everyone hoping Space Marines would be less oppressive

Despite a series of ‘hilarious’ rumors prior to Chapter Approved 2019 saying marines were due for massive point drops, that was never really the case — remember that, as a print book, content for Chapter Approved has to be finished at least 3 months before it comes out, and is probably completed more like 6 months out. This means that the content was done before Codex: Space Marines released, and so it was incredibly unlikely they’d adjust points for a faction before it even came out. That means what they could adjust reasonably would have been Forge World units. And while it would have made sense to move the long out-of-print and oft-broken Venerable Chaplain Dreadnought to Legends, that inexplicably didn’t happen. In fact, it got cheaper by 15 points. Thanks, I hate it.

Imperial Fists Leviathan Dreadnought

Imperial Fists Leviathan Dreadnought. Credit: Jack Hunter

Relic Leviathans and Contemptors also avoided a points increase, with the former getting cheaper close combat weapons and cyclonic melta lances, potentially to entice players toward non-storm cannon builds. It may be worth considering for Salamanders. Speaking of which, Bray’arth Ashmantle dropped 75 points for no reason, so if you wanted to start some insane Salamanders strategies with him, now’s as good a time as any!

The biggest changes are the drops in points costs for the Land Raider Achilles, which could be an interesting unit for marines to play with, and the Astraeus, which with a 100-point drop, may suddenly be playable for Iron Hands and Imperial Fists armies.

Wings Note: Ah yes, the 100pt cut, for when you want to fire something all the way from “mediocre” to “potentially too good” in one go. The Mortis and Chaplain dreads getting cuts is also a bit exhausting, since they’re already in top lists. There’s also huge cuts across the board to the FW named characters to the point that, since they don’t seem to be going away to legends, we’ll probably need to put together a dedicated review of them.

Space Wolves

Credit: RichyP

James “One_Wing” Grover

Biggest Winners:

  • Wulfen
  • Characters
  • Thunderwolf Cavalry

Biggest Losers:

  • Losing stuff to Legends

Pure Space Wolves are definitely in the waiting room with Dark Angels and Deathwatch for a Blood of Baal/Supplement treatment, but their stratagem sheet is pretty powerful and some of their unique units (mostly Wulfen) are pretty good, so they’ve had a bit more to recommend them than some of their off-brand brethren, and that’s definitely still true.

Their way-too-extensive list of characters got cuts left and right, and given that the Space Wolf chapter tactic lends itself well to herohammer there’s a good chance of there being something worthwhile amongst them. If not? Well, it at least tees things up well for when their Psychic Awakening upgrade comes.

Much more definitively good is the point cut to Wulfen – almost everyone using Space Wolves competitively is leaning on them heavily so a 5ppm cut and an additional discount on the weapon for the pack leader is very nice. Minor cuts to infantry elsewhere is also good, as is the discount Thunderwolf cavalry get on their storm shields, making these iconic models a little bit less painful to pull in.

The only mild downside is that various bike characters were pretty good in Space Wolves, so them catching the legends bullet hurts. Having reviewed successful lists, most recent ones largely eschewed these, leaving these changes as a big net boost overall to tide things over until “Psychic Awakening 7: Let’s All Howl at Magnus” or whatever it’s called.

T’au Empire

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Biggest Winners: 

  • Riptides stayed the same
  • Shield drones stayed the same
  • Stormsurges
  • Kroot and Vespid
  • Piranhas
  • Crisis suits
  • Fusion Commanders
  • Ghostkeels
  • Stealth suits

Biggest Losers: 

  • Forge World options

Look, T’au didn’t need any help. They’re arguably the game’s strongest non-marines army, and the recent marine buffs haven’t hit them nearly as hard thanks to Riptides not being vehicles. And so the biggest good news for T’au would be “no changes.” So let’s start with the biggest details: forget whatever dumb rumors you heard, Riptides and Shield Drones stayed the same cost. Honestly, everything after that is gravy for the T’au but the good news for the Empire is that a bunch of other units got points drops to potentially make them more viable.

Tau Riptide

Tau Riptide. Credit: Jack Hunter

Let’s start with the stuff that already saw some play: Crisis Suit Commanders didn’t change, but Fusion Blasters dropped 4 points, meaning that a quad-fusion commander is now 16 points cheaper. And Stormsurges dropped 20 points in base cost, plus 10 points for their cluster rocket system, and another 20-25 depending on which Pulse cannon you’re using, giving them a monster 50 point reduction across the board. Too bad they’re vehicles. And speaking of vehicles, Piranhas got a tasty 6ppm reduction as well.

On the subject of units that weren’t seeing much play, we’ve got a lot of drops — Kroot got drops across the board, including a 1ppm decrease for basic Kroot, though Shapers and Krootox also got some decreases, and Vespid dropped 3ppm to 11 points in a move that I hope causes players to consider them, since they can tear marines up. Crisis suits (-3) and Stealth suits (-6) also got significant drops, and the drops to fusion blasters may convince players to give them another look. Finally both flyers got a decent decrease in cost.

Overall the T’au didn’t get nerfed, and that’s good — while many people hate playing against them and I think they need a conceptual re-write, they didn’t need a nerf in their current form, and the changes should encourage a greater variety of play, especially if the Piranhas change can get them on the table more often. I’d rather see a greater variety of T’au lists playing with a more mobile plan than seeing them nerfed into oblivion and this update does that.

Tau Stormsurge

Tau Stormsurge. Credit: Jack Hunter

Wings Note: Let’s talk about the Stormsurge, because I think the changes on this might turn out to be this year’s “mistake”. These were already aggressively costed as Lords of War go, and while they’re definitely less durable than similar units, the overwhelming evidence from two and a half years of competitive 8th ed is that being able to go wider with high powered units is better than one big tough one, and the price for these with shield generators is now so ludicrously pushed (under 1000pts for the three with a sensible loadout) that I’m expecting these to break out. A big part of that is that their destroyer missiles get loads better when you’ve got three kicking around – put three of these next to Shadowsun and drop 5 markers on something and that’s 21MWs (i.e. nearly a dead Knight) into it right there. Obviously Tau killing things with 5 markerlights on them isn’t hard, but that’s effectively a “free” kill for turn one, and when their main weapons point across at the next target it’s probably going in the bin as well. Add to that the gigantic number of anti-horde shots each mounts, and you have a recipe for a real list. 

Thousand Sons

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Biggest Winners:

  • Scarab Occult Terminators
  • Tzaangor Enlightened
  • Helbrutes
  • Heldrakes
  • Rubric marines

Biggest Losers:

  • Daemon Princes with Wings
  • Tzaangors

Ouch. While it wasn’t a major surprise to see Thousand Sons get hit with a points adjustment, it still hurts. Two of the biggest units in the army, Winged Daemon Princes (+15) and Tzaangors (+1), both got points increases, and the 1-ppm boost to Tzaangors really hurts the notion of a pure Thousand Sons army. It’s also a major blow to Chaos soup with Daemons, which often depended on a Thousand Sons Supreme Command or Battalion tooled out with Winged Daemon Princes. 

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Rubrics also win big, finally getting the point cut they’ve long needed via a discount on their guns. They’re now pretty decent for their cost, and might actually see the table. Scarab Occult Terminators are also now reasonably priced, and the idea of dropping a unit to shred marines with AP-2 bolter fire and Veterans of the Long War is pretty enticing.

Also on the upside: Magnus stayed put, Tzaangor Enlightened got cheaper by 2ppm, Maulerfiends came down 10 points, Cutlists dropped 1 point, and Baleflamer Heldrakes are now 27 points cheaper. Cheaper Rubricae go a long way to mitigating the increases on Tzaangors, and leaning more heavily on Scarab Occult Terminators isn’t the worst thing ever–they’re a good unit and are now priced to move. Thousand Sons are one of the game’s most powerful codexes, and while the current strategies take a bit of a hit here, hopefully the improvements to their iconic core units gets them out and about.

Tyranids

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

James “One_Wing” Grover

Biggest Winners:

  • Malanthropes
  • Gun Bugs
  • Especially the Exocrine
  • Raveners

Biggest Losers:

  • None

Honestly this is just an appetiser for the all-devouring adherents of the Hive Mind – check back tomorrow for the really spicy stuff when we look at the Tyranid half of Blood of Baal. In the meantime, pretty much all the backline shooty bugs got nice point cuts, with the knew jerk emergency nerf on Biovores finally being partially undone. A cut to Malanthropes goes very nicely with that, helping to babysit and protect your gun monsters. The 15-point drop to Exocrines in particular helps make an underappreciated unit a bit better right before other boosts will drop for them. Raveners are also big winners – we had an error earlier where we were giving them the points increase assigned to Pyrovores – and have dropped to 18 points per model, a 5-point drop that should help boost them into playability.

Pure Tyranids haven’t been in a great spot competitively and they definitely needed more than a few point cuts to break through, but hoo boooy have they picked up some spice in BoB. Have patience my hungry friends, the good times are about to roll.

Ynnari

The Visarch

Credit: Alfredo Ramirez

James “One_Wing” Grover

Biggest Winners:

  • Cuts to a lot of the stuff that’s good as Ynnari

Biggest Losers:

  • N/A

None of the actual Ynnari units changed, but a lot of the stuff that got cheaper in other Aeldari factions was the stuff that worked at least pretty well as Ynnari, with Reaver Jetbikes in particular getting a nice cut. That doesn’t really deal with the problem that there’s just far too few things that get better synergy out of Ynnari than they do their own Codex, but at least it makes them a more viable army to kick around with on kitchen tables.

It’s a New Day

Phew. That was a lot to go through, but we did it! These changes should substantially change the meta lists for a bunch of armies. While none of them are likely to push an army to the level of dominance marines are currently enjoying, they do help a lot of armies get there, and they encourage a lot of new builds. Especially compared to last year, we’re much more excited about what we’ve seen in this year’s Chapter Approved points update, and ready to start building with this and the new Psychic Awakening stuff.

Wings Final Note: Overall I like this a lot. There’s a few things I would like to have seen done differently (notably Smasha Guns and the Stormsurge being cut more cautiously) but it’s clear the designers have learned a lot over the last year. Last time around there were plenty of point cuts that still left the units totally irrelevant, whereas this time they’ve realised that, at least for the early Codex armies, there’s a very clear divide between top tier and everything else, so you need to be bold with the boosts when you apply them. I don’t love that the direction of travel is so clearly towards buffing everything to keep up with power creep, but that’s what needed to happen to keep the game interesting, so well done to GW for an overall very positive round of changes.

As always, if you have any questions, comments, edits, or thoughts, feel free to shoot us a note in the comments below, or email us at contact@goonhammer.com.

 

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