We’ve had the forces of the Imperium and Chaos – now everyone else. Perhaps unsurprisingly given how many armies the definition spans, Xenos have had a mixed time of it in Nephilim, some factions thriving thanks to powerful rules or Secondaries, some struggling a little to keep up. There are some big changes here, so let’s find out how things are looking as we prepare to confront the Arks of Omen.
Thanks to Games Workshop for providing us with review copies of the Arks of Omen material.
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Craftworlds & Ynnari
- Probably the biggest winners from the Arks of Omen detachment structure, as they’ve previously struggled with a combination of mediocre troops and wanting four HQs in most lists. Almost every Craftworld list is going to have at minimum +2CP to play with.
- Floor on price for Troops if you just want some ObSec is now lower, as you can take Corsairs.
- Being able to take Travelling Players for free provides some interesting options (with the caveat of Harlequins catching some nerfs).
- Updated Behind Enemy Lines is great for them.
- Wraithknights with Craftworld Traits is at least fun.
- Ynnari are confirmed to get access to Asuryani Secondaries thanks to the updated wording.
- Scry Futures as a decent somewhat defensive Warpcraft option will see more use now.
- Shroud Runners get a points decrease, and are very good at the new price.
- AP-1 on regular Shurikens matters more now Armour of Contempt is gone, which boosts options like Windriders.
- Once-per-game limit on Fire and Fade is gone.
- No buffs to the relatively weak Secondaries, and Hidden Path gone.
- Losing the old version of Psychic Interrogation is a blow.
- Hefty point hike on Swooping Hawks makes them harder to fit in (though you still might).
- Ynnari can no longer take a Phoenix Lord in an Auxiliary Support detachment.
- Point increases on Farseers and Warlocks hit every list.
- One of the few factions that might plausibly struggle for slots on occasion – lists running both 3+ Fast Attack and 3+ Elites have definitely existed.
Despite having relatively few changes made directly to their army, the Asuryani get a fairly massive shakeup in the Arks season thanks to updates elsewhere. The bad news for Craftworlds is that a few of their staple units, Swooping Hawks, Warlocks and Farseers, see a point increase, and a fairly hefty one in the case of Hawks. The good news is that a lot of the rest of the changes add up to a massive liberation in how they can build their armies and how many CP they’ll have left at the end. No more troops tax if you don’t want it, plenty more CP to spend, and Armour of Contempt going away, making a lot of tools in the faction significantly more reliable. Shroud Runners also get a point cut that switches them from a utility one-of to being one of the better units in the faction, and extremely good with Behind Enemy Lines. Lots of fun things to explore for Asuryani players, which is as it should be.
The Extremely Bad
- All Invulnerable saves reduced by 1, so 5+ on most things, 4+ on Solitaires and via Prismatic Blur. Yuck.
- Nine Starweaver lists fit in a single detachment now, freeing CP for other things.
- Updated Behind Enemy Line is fantastic for them, probably beating out Take Your Places, which catches a very minor nerf.
- Deadly Performance and Weave Veil get slightly weaker (the former can only have the Deployment Zone bit scored by CORE, the latter goes up a WC), but not enough to stop them being top tier Secondaries, especially as Weave is now more unique in not needing line of sight.
- No once-per-game limit on Fire and Fade.
- No bomber alpha strikes helps make foot Troupes more viable.
- Armour of Contempt going away makes it easier for them to kill Marines and Sisters in melee.
- The classic version of Mirror Architect and the Favour of Cegorach/Harvester of Torment combo are both restored, albeit at high prices.
- Loss of old Psychic Interrogation isn’t great for them.
Reducing all invulnerable saves by one is up there with the first set of Custodes nerfs for one of the most brutal to be handed down all edition, though outside that there are probably enough upsides for Harlequins, in combination with their very strong position going into this, that they can still compete. The suite of strong Secondaries that makes their scoring tricky to stop remains good, only getting modestly tuned down, and adding the updated BEL to the list, which Harlequins can actually farm meaningful CP off, is fantastic. Bringing back Mirror Architect and the murder Death Jester as premium-priced options is also good news for the faction, as there’s a genuine chance both are still valuable enough to take even at eye-popping prices. Finally, uncapped Fire and Fade means you can bring a single unit of Voidweavers and use them to continually upset the opponent if you’re finding yourself short of shooting, and with Armour of Contempt gone the incidental damage from shuriken cannons matters a lot more into some armies. It feels bonkers to be saying it, but despite catching an absolute salt the earth level nerf, Harlequins are probably still a >50% army.
- Just how do you build a Drukhari army now? Do you basically have to run a Realspace Raid? We’ll find out, we guess.
- Small discount on Wyches.
- More discounts on the Forge World Vehicles, so there’s probably a stupid Reaper/Tantalus Dark Technomancers list you can build.
- Definitely like Armour of Contempt leaving.
- Good at scoring Behind Enemy Lines.
- More plausible to run some infantry without Transports with fewer bombers about.
- Can take a Travelling Players patrol for free if they want.
- Mild cost increase on Wracks.
- Secondaries still a little lacklustre.
Nothing particularly terrible happens to the Drukhari, but nothing particularly great either. We honestly need the FAQ to get the full picture on them, as how Army Construction works for them is a pretty key piece of the puzzle. As it stands, they’re still OK, but it seems likely they’ve been left paying for their older sins a little too much.
- Small but welcome discounts on the base price of units that should add up to a reasonable overall point gain.
- Plenty of equipment discounts, including free special weapons for Neophytes, 5pt rock saws on Acolytes, and cheaper cult icons, making lots more unit builds viable.
- Broodswam unchanged, which is very, very good news.
- Ambush first condition (Crossfire Marker) now gives 2VP, and the per-turn cap is 5VP, making it way easier to max.
- Sabotage Critical Location gets a notable increase in scoring, especially at the lowest end (6VP rather then 4VP), making it much more feasible to max.
- Departure of bombers is very good for faction.
- Can take a Brood Brothers patrol for free, which opens up some real options.
- Can never double up on Characters, as they’re excluded from the Stratagem explicitly.
- Loss of old Psychic Interrogation makes passive scoring slightly harder.
- Bikes get their power weapons baked into their cost, which leaves them as still a fine unit, but harder to spam if you just want lots of bodies and/or to pistol people to death. Wolfquads are slightly cheaper and grenade launchers are free though, so this ends up as a something like a sidegrade.
Good news for fans of glorious revolution – (almost) everything is coming up Genestealer Cults. You get more stuff on the table, have some gangbusters Secondaries where all three are now worth a look, and a well-tuned set of equipment discounts should broaden strategic options considerably. People had, finally, found ways to put moderately competitive Cult lists on the table in Nephilim, and although one of the plans (spamming bikes) is a tiny bit harder now, it seems likely you can get enough extra value elsewhere to mitigate that, and should have broader options such as building round big tooled-up Neophyte bricks or bringing small trade units of Acolytes with Rock Saws to play with. Cheap access to Brood Brothers is also plausibly interesting – taking a cheap Officer with a unit of backfield Troops and a couple of Mortar units seems like a plausible inclusion, just to help chip away enemy stragglers, as with the departure of bombers it’s likely more lists will be skipping on transports (also great for Cults themselves). Go forth and conquer.
- Getting a second Tyrant in is actually easier and cheaper than taking a patrol was.
- Spore Mines cost Reinforcement Points now, so are essentially worthless.
- Apocalyse-tier points nerfs on top of that.
- Overrun now CORE-only.
- Losing old Psychic Interrogation sucks.
- Can’t even take a Genestealer Cults Battle Brothers detachment, for some reason.
Never thought we’d be saying this, but they nerfed Tyranids too hard, to the point where the faction is probably dead competitively. The vast majority of competitive mainstays get significant additional point increases (including some atrociously brutal ones like +20pts per model on Zoanthropes), on top of free Spore Mines going away and a major nerf to the survivability of Flyrants. This is, bluntly, too much – the Dataslate changes here seem small, but have a massive impact, especially in combination with Harpies catching the general aircraft nerf, and because nearly every list was using at least a unit Biovores, amount to taking several hundred points away from most armies. Quite genuinely, with weaker factions getting nerfs, not much was needed beyond that, probably 5pts for some of the better kit on Warriors and 10pts on Zoanthropes, but this? Absolutely brutal. Gimmick Screamer Killer ObSec lists is probably the only place left to go with the faction.
- Benefit from being able to cut down on their Troops spend, and having the option to take all four Characters.
- Void Armour’s AP reduction is likely to do more than it used to because lists will have more AP-1 weapons without Armour of Contempt.
- They have a lot of AP-1 and AP-2 weaponry, which is better as Armour of Contempt leaves.
- More point nerfs, with 10pts added to Kahls, Grimnyrs, Einhyr Champions and fortresses, 3pts on Beserks and a point on the basic infantry.
- Change to Psychic Interrogation hits them particularly hard, as they’re less good at Warp Ritual than most armies.
- No changes to their Secondaries, so they’re reliant on staying on the board, harder as points increase.
Votann have been doing pretty well in Nephilim, even with the nerfs they caught previously, but not so well that these additional changes aren’t a little surprising. The good news for them is that you can mitigate pretty much all the point increases via cutting out a Troops unit, and have an easier time dipping into their juicy selection of relics and upgrades, but because their game plan is very reliant on managing to grind the opponent off the table, every unit subtracted from them hurts. They’re also probably the biggest losers from the change to Psychic Interrogation, as there’s a hard cap on how fast their only Psyker can move. On a brighter note though, the bikes are unchanged on points and are big winners from Armour of Contempt departing, so bike-heavy build should still do well. It’s certainly not great for Votann to take another hit, but at least it’s fairly proportionate rather than what happened to Tyranids.
- Huge winners from detachment changes, freeing them up to cut down Troops without spending CP…
- …though Necron Warriors also get a 2pt cut, and Ghost Arks get another cut, making Troops less painful to take.
- A few other welcome point drops, including decent cuts to Vehicles and a further 2pt cut to Tomb Blades.
- Taking a second C’tan comes at a lower cost.
- Monolith is probably the biggest winner from in-detachment Lords of War, as it is extremely good as Novokh.
- Weaker Psychic Interrogation is particularly advantageous for them.
- Eternal Conquerors now takes both your trait picks, so can’t be comboed with Relentelessly Expansionist (meaning you just take Nihilakh instead).
- Secondaries get toned down – not as badly as they could have been, but it will have an impact. Treasures is 2/3/4, Machineries requires you to be CORE INFANTRY, CORE BIKER or CANOPTEK (so not a VEHICLE), and Purge doesn’t score turn 1.
- Code of Combat is gone, which is an actual blow.
- Plasmaceptors being very good is extremely bad for them.
- Silent King needs an FAQ before he can be taken outside of Szarekhan.
- Triple C’tan lists are gone for good.
- Doom Scythes can’t be used for alpha strike shooting.
Necrons have been a bit of an odd duck in Nephilim – hovering around a 50% win rate, but heavily overrepresented in terms of winning events early in the season, and with the Eternal Expansionist builds being able to score in a very linear and non-interactive fashion if they went first thanks to strong Secondaries and army-wide ObSec. Given that, the changes GW have made here seem pretty well thought out – Secondaries have been toned down a bit and Eternal Conquerors has taken a nerf, but some units have received buffs to compensate, and combining that with the changes in Army Construction being pretty good news for Necrons means there should be routes for them to go, though it’s probably still a loss for the faction overall.
Switching straight across to Nihilakh with some of the Lokhust-heavy ObSec builds is certainly viable, and detachment changes make Novokh or (maybe) some skew Szarekhan lists with a bunch of hulls look valid too. From my (Wings) own experience trying to make Novokh work, Troop tax was very real and very painful, so removing that (or making the Warrior option more attractive) rules, and I think there’s a very real chance that a Novokh list using a Monolith is good now. Being able to chuck a big unit of Lychguard into Strategic Reserves for free, then bring them in for an effective 5” charge using Prismatic Dimensional Breach when the Monolith deep strikes seems really good, and +1” charge on the Monolith itself plus AP-4 on its attacks means it’s a reasonable threat in its own right. I can’t believe I’m going to have to paint a Monolith, this is violence.
There is one alarming question mark for Necrons, mind – they are uniquely terrible against plasma Inceptors, as anyone playing at the start of the edition will recall, and the return of those as a real force is going to be pretty rough for the Dynasties. We shall see if 2.5 years of accumulated points drops is enough to mitigate that.
- AP-1 on Choppas actually matters again.
- More CP to spend on herohammer.
- A few scattered but welcome point drops, most notably some major discounts on equipments for basic Nobz and 5pts off Flash Gitz and Killa Kanz, which makes the former plausible and the latter very strong.
- Cheaper to get a second Squigboss into your list.
- They…buffed Get da Good Bitz? Why?
- Green Tide is also significantly easier, with the table quarter exclusion zone only being 3”.
- Maybe someone, somewhere wants an in-detachment Gorkanaut or Morkanaut with traits? They got cheaper too.
- Da Biggest and Da Best is gone.
- Max one Specialist Mob per list.
- Can’t triple up on Bosses/Ghaz
- Taking Ghaz needs an FAQ out of Goffs, and uses one of your boss picks.
- High rate-of-fire Marine units get heavily pushed.
- Can’t alpha strike with Wazboms.
In a vacuum, things look pretty good for Orks here. They’ve been doing decently in the last few months, keep all their Dataslate boosts, Armour of Contempt going away helps them a bunch, two of their usable Secondaries get boosted, and they’re likely to have more CP to spend on creating horrendous combat monstrosities, always good if you’re an Ork. The main concern, if you’re an Ork player, is that some of the Marine units that get heavily pushed are extremely strong against Orks, with Aggressors and Gladiator Reapers standing out as particular concerns. The other issue that hurts is now only ever being able to take a single Specialist Mob unit in a list, which means many builds will lose their ObSec grot unit, and you can’t go all-in on Trukk Boyz with an accompanying Warboss. Shouldn’t have a massive impact, but does take out some potential plays. All-in-all, mostly fine for Waaagh fans, with only the huge improvements to Marines potentially souring that.
- Don’t have to bother with Troops at all if they don’t want to.
- Riptides unchanged, so Triptide very much on the menu.
- An in-detachment Stormsurge with Sept Traits probably has some play in Bor’kan.
- Updated Engage or BEL might have some play for them.
- Cheaper to add your second Commander in non-Farsight lists.
- Point increases on most Crisis and Commander units, plus Kroot and Ethereals.
- Everyone now capped at two Commanders max, even Farsight (who now just dodge the 1CP tax on it).
- No more Sun Shark bombing early game.
Tau definitely take a hit here, getting slightly worst on a number of fronts, and in particular having the extreme alpha-strike builds reined in significantly by Sun Sharks having to start off-board. You know what that means – Riptide was already on the way back into the big leagues, and this probably just locks that in, especially as they’re very good at killing Space Marines. Triptide is inevitable. Triptide is eternal.
What Does it All Mean?
A lot! Tyranids look like they’re finally going to drop from the heights they’ve been occupying, and while Harlequins look to have a better chance of riding these nerfs out, they’re still going to have to work a lot harder for their wins. Some factions have reasons to be a lot more cheerful though – liberation from the traditional detachment structure is great for a lot of Xenos, especially Craftworlds and Necrons, and Genestealer Cults get some strong buffs that may finally make them real players. Everything to play for in a new season, and we can’t wait to see how it shakes out.
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