When Games Workshop released the War Zone: Nachmund GT pack in January 2022, they were releasing the first book of their new season-based approach to competitive 40k. While Nachmund only made some minor tweaks to secondary objectives, it made major changes to army construction and overhauled the comp missions, giving us new primary scoring and removing subfaction soup. Six months later GW is poised to release its second update with Nephilim and this time around the changes are even bigger.
There’s a ton to run through here and in this article we’re going to talk about what’s changing, what it means, and how it will affect your games.
Before we jump in we’d like to thank Games Workshop for sending us a preview copy of Nephilim for Review purposes.
What’s in the Book?
War Zone Nephilim is a surprisingly hefty book, packing updated rules for almost every aspect of the game, and some surprising other updates. In this book, you’ll find:
- Updated GT Game Rules: New rules for army construction and the pregame sequence cover how players build armies and starting CP.
- Secondary Objectives: New rules for secondary objectives dramatically change how players score VP during games. This section includes new and updated versions of every faction secondary objective in the game, plus new faction secondary objectives for a number of factions, such as Space Marine chapters, Chaos Daemons, and the Astra Militarum.
- Missions: 9 missions each for each of Incursion and Strike Force games, and these are mostly the same as the missions in Nachmund. The big difference here is you get 1 CP per turn, rather than 1 CP per battle round.
- Updated Warhammer 40,000 Game Rules: For the first time ever, the 40k rules have been reprinted WITH UPDATED ERRATA.
That’s right, folks – after not having the rules at all in the little Nachmund book they’re back in Nephilim, and they’ve been updated to include errata and Rare rule updates up through December 2021. While sadly, there are still a few things missing from the February rules errata update, and we’d have liked to see the Designers notes around fighting first/last in here, this is a massive improvement that in my opinion makes the Nephilim book a must-buy for casual and competitive players alike.
The Key Points
- Command Points and Army Construction: Armies now start with fewer command points, but gain more over the course of the game. In addition, there are no more free Warlord Traits or Relics – you have to pay a CP for your first of each
- Generic Secondary Objectives: The generic set of Secondary Objectives has received a big update, reducing the overall number available and tweaking several of those that remain.
- Faction Secondary Objectives: Every Codex’s Secondaries are reviewed and (in many cases) updated in this book, toning down some of the very best, and breathing new life into lots of weaker options. In addition, you can now take more than one from your faction choices!
What Stayed the Same?
- The Missions (mostly): The War Zone Nachmund missions mostly return unchanged (other than the addition of a rule to provide the increased CP gain mentioned above)
- Mission Sequence (mostly): With one arguable exception around Dedicated Transports (which we’re still going to cover with Army Construction), everything that’s changed in the pre-game sequence is covered under Army Construction and Secondaries – once you’ve done that, preparing for a game works the same as ever.
What’s Not Here
- Updated Points: We heard last month that points were going fully digital and we’re excited to see that’s already the case – there’s no Munitorum Field Manual to go along with this one this time. That means that the full context of what’s here isn’t 100% clear – we can talk about how this will affect gameplay overall, and how it will likely affect some armies, but until we see updated points that nerf some armies and improve others, we won’t really know what the full impact of these changes will be.
That last one is a great point to reiterate: We don’t have any of the new points yet, nor do we have the text of the next quarterly balance Dataslate. Without those updates, it’s very, very difficult (if not impossible) to fully evaluate these rules. So as you read these, keep in mind that on a per-faction basis there are still likely many changes coming, and a faction that looks doomed may in fact turn out to be one of the game’s strongest.
Command Points and Army Construction
- Smaller Starting CP Pool: Your starting CP before you begin building an army is now 6CP rather than 12.
- More CP During the Game: In each Command Phase in a War Zone Nephilim Game, both players receive the Battle Forged CP bonus, meaning you’re gaining 10 over the course of the game rather than 5. Note this is outlined in the missions rather than the GT rules.
- No More Free Warlord Traits/Relics: In Warzone Nephilim, you never get a Warlord Trait or Relic unless you pay for it. Two new Core Requisition Stratagems are added providing you with the option to pay 1CP each for a first Trait and/or first Relic.
- Free Super Heavy Auxiliary: As long as the Faction Keyword matches your Warlord’s (with the normal restriction of it not being Imperium, Aeldari or Chaos or Tyranids) the first Super Heavy Auxiliary Detachment you add to your army now gains a Command Benefit of +3CP rather than the +2 from previous packs, making it completely free.
- No Empty Dedicated Transports: When you deploy your army, each Dedicated Transport must have at least one unit embarked in it – if it doesn’t, then it’s destroyed. No more empty Wave Serpents or Land Speeder Storms (the main culprits in the past).
War Zone Nephilim brings the biggest shakeup to Army Construction we’ve seen all Edition with a massive change to how the CP economy works, and in practical terms significantly reducing the number players have to work with at key points. While in theory the absolute number of CP you get per game has only gone down by one, in practice the drop will be far more impactful, especially once you factor in the departure of free Traits and Relics. Crucially, there’s now a serious tension between spending CP on upgrades, additional or costly detachments and pre-game/first turn Stratagems, and some current top armies straight up will not be able to operate as they currently do. In addition, while you do gain more CP over the game, some games are effectively decided by the third or fourth turn, and in that case you’re not going to get the value from the ones you get in the final turns. Expect to see some massive changes to the makeup of top army lists in the next few weeks as players start to get to grips with this.
The Key Impacts
It’s going to take a while for everyone to fully figure out what this means for their factions (and we’ll have a Roundtable with our team in the next few days covering some broader thoughts) but there are some big consequences of this that apply to everyone right out of the gate.
- Every CP is More Valuable: You’re working with fewer CP, especially early in the game, so each one is more valuable. You should make decisions accordingly. It also means that Stratagems costing any more than 1CP now need to have a serious impact to be worth using. Prepare for me to make “in this economy” jokes until someone makes me stop.
- The Battalion is King: You now really want to fit your army into a single Patrol or Battalion if at all possible, unless you have access to a Faction special rule like Raiding Forces that provides an alternative way to avoid spending your precious CP just on building your army. Factions that have great Troops choices get a big boost from this.
- Taking Extra Detachments Hurts: This makes one-per-detachment rules like Rare Organisms far harder to work around, and also means that even in the places where taking some soup options doesn’t impact on your Secondary choices, the price of adding an allied detachment feels steeper.
- Free Slots are Better: Any ability that allows you to include a unit in your army without it using up a Battlefield Role slot like Brotherhood of the Cog goes up in value, as they help you avoid adding more detachments to your army.
- Less Herohammer: 9th Edition is packed with Warlord Traits and Relics that are absolutely worth paying for, but you’re still going to end up with fewer in most builds than you currently see. That said, spending CP on something you’ll have for multiple turns passively can often be a better deal than spending it on a one-turn effect, so traits and relics might win out in this economy.
- CP Generation Gets Better…Mostly: With CP being more valuable, effects that give you more are obviously better as well – except the ones that trigger when CP is spent. With fewer CP flying around during the game, especially in early turns, the chance of just completely missing on effects like Seer of the Shifting Vector is now dangerously high, especially as you have to invest a CP to get them. Conversely, effects that just flat out give you a CP, especially ones like Wisdom of the Guides and The Seven-Fold Chant that don’t come from a Trait or Relic, are even better than they already were. This also applies to units like the Silent King who give you extra CP just for showing up.
- Expect to see a ton of armies starting on 0-3 CP. Any army taking a second detachment or trying to pack in Martial Legacy units or just buying extra traits and relics is going to quickly end up dropping most or all of that starting 6 CP. Chaos Daemons in particular get screwed by this new system, as paying for exalted greater daemons will now use all of the CP available to what are already CP-thirsty armies.
- Morale will be more important early-game. As a corollary, this also makes Morale slightly more important – you’re less likely to shell out 2 CP on turns 1-2 for Insane Bravery, or even have the CP to spend if you started on 0-1.
- Alpha strikes may move back a turn. It wasn’t uncommon to see armies in 9th edition that would go aggressive on their first or second turn, blowing 7-8 CP on effects in order to try and deliver a knockout blow to the opposing army and cripple them before they could retaliate. Those types of impacts are still possible, but likely to shift back a turn when they require lots of CP. Naturally, this advantages armies capable of delivering those knockout blows without CP.
- Named Characters Get a Bit of a Boost. Named Characters tend to already have special tricks equivalent to Warlord Traits and Relics priced into their cost. Paying a few extra points for them compared to generic options now looks like a more attractive tradeoff when CP are more precious.
- Datasheet and Secondary Balance Matters More: This is potentially a downside to this change – while it certainly closes off some angles for doing overpowered stuff, it arguably means there are fewer ways to work around some factions having a set of datasheets or secondary options that have been pushed too hard. Games Workshop have been getting more responsive and (generally) more accurate with their balance adjustments, so hopefully the points update will ensure that this doesn’t bite too bad.
In practice, you’ll see armies frequently start on 3-4 CP, aim to conserve them in the first turn, then aim for big plays once they hit the second Battle Round.
Generic Secondary Objectives
- Fewer Generic Choices Across the Board: A merciless cull has taken place here, with both popular choices and fringe picks being removed entirely. Most notably…
- Stranglehold and To The Last Are Gone: Two of the most important Secondaries in the last few seasons of GT play are gone, seriously shaking up the landscape for some factions. Other absent Secondaries are less likely to be missed, as Titanslayer has been rolled into Bring it Down, Pierce the Veil only worked on a tiny subset of missions, and even the augmented versions of Investigate Signal and Teleport Homers in Nachmund rarely compared to safer options.
- Engage on All Fronts Gets Some Sidegrades: Engage gets several shakeups. On the downside, it no longer counts Aircraft, and similar to Retrieve NachmundNephilim Data, requires the units to be more than 6” from any other table quarters rather than the board centre. However, in tradeoff the 3-model limit from Nachmund has been softened – this now keys off a unit’s Starting Strength rather than the current number of models, so even a single survivor from a big unit can pull this off.
- Psychic Interrogation and Banners Get Buffs: These two get flat-out better:
- Psychic Interrogation still scores in the same way, but now gives you a CP if you beat the leadership of the character you’re targeting on your psychic test, a fantastic bonus thanks to the CP changes.
- Raise the Banners High gets two improvements that make it harder to mess with – you can now raise a Banner on an objective you control even if the enemy is within range of it, allowing you to start scoring more reliably, and the Banner only comes down if the opponent controls it at the start of a Command Phase rather than any phase. That makes it harder to use out-of-phase movement to safely neutralise a banner, and means a doomed charge by sacrificial ObSec models is no longer a reliable answer to a strong position.
- (Edit) Assassination Gets a Small Fix: Assassination now rewards you for each CHARACTER Unit rather than Model, so is less brutal against Celestine and the like.
- There are Some Default Options: This doesn’t really impact how the game plays most of the time, but it’s now explicit that your “default” options are Assassination, Behind Enemy Lines and Grind Them Down. Potentially helpful if you hit that awkward moment or realising half way through a game that one player’s combination of Secondaries is illegal.
Note: Eagle-eyed readers of the book may notice that there seems to be an issue with the page numbering for the options you have for replacing your default Secondaries. These numbers only refer to the Faction pages, rather than including the other generic options. For the purposes of our review, we are assuming this is an error, as otherwise it is literally impossible to make use of some of the non-default generics.
War Zone Nephilim appears to have three goals around Secondaries, put more of a spotlight on the Faction options, reduce how intimidating the process of picking them is for new competitive players, and remove some options that were too often the “correct” ones. For the first goal, with fewer generic Secondaries (and some good ones removed) it’s far more likely that you’ll want to make use of your Faction ones, especially as there are far fewer that are outright bad.
For the second goal, Secondary Objectives are one of the things that’s commonly cited as an example of 9th Edition being “too complicated”, and fear of making the “wrong” choice is likely to be at the root of that for many players. With that in mind, culling a lot of the trap choices from the generic list, steering players towards their Faction choices, and providing some workable defaults for players that are starting out is a good move.
Finally, RIP to some real ones in the form of Stranglehold and To The Last. Stranglehold was the “correct” choice an unhealthy amount of the time, rewarding you for doing what you’re already going to want to do to score the Primary, and becoming exceptionally powerful in combination with other choices that rewarded similar play. In addition, it constrained design space – a lot of Factions have Stranglehold-like options in their Secondary lists, but they’re rarely actually better and often lost out in a head-to-head, because making a Secondary better than Stranglehold and still balanced was tough. To The Last also had some game-warping impact, especially around list design – in factions that wanted to build for it, it created some fairly artificial-feeling limitations on which units were worth taking. It also created some play patterns that were definitely interesting in high-level play, but perhaps felt a bit unfun or non-interactive for the broader community. Removing it will definitely shake things up, especially for some of the top performing current builds.
The Key Impacts
- Faction Secondaries Matter Far More In General: You can still build a set of decent picks from generic options only some of the time, but if you want a reliable game plan you need to be leaning on your Faction options.
- Faction Stranglehold-like Options Get Massively Better: We’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve basically said “just pick Stranglehold over this” in Codex reviews, but all those Secondaries need an extra look now.
- Banners Should Get Picked Way More: Banners could be fairly high-risk before, as a skilled opponent with the right tools could make it very tough to score, restricting it to certain missions and matchups. Now that it’s a bit safer, it has more broad utility, and Stranglehold going away probably helps a bit too, as the point swing your opponent can get by pushing onto one of your Banners for a turn will often be smaller.
- The Death of To The Last Shakes Up Some Factions: Aeldari and Hive Mind forces in particular could do some very powerful stuff with To The Last, and now need to make other plans – but a whole bunch of units and options that were essentially disqualified from top lists for having awkward points costs are now worth another look.
Faction Secondary Objectives
- A Full Balance Refresh: Warzone Nephilim presents a complete set of Faction Secondaries to pick from, replacing the original versions that appeared in the 9th Edition codexes. The design team has taken the opportunity to give them a once-over, reducing the power of some top choices like Herd the Prey and Purifying Ritual, and tuning up some choices that previously underperformed, especially in factions like Orks where the original set was a bit sub-par.
- Take as Many as You Want: No more limit of one Faction Secondary – now you can fill as many of your slots as you want with these (as long as you still only pick one Secondary per category).
- 8th Edition Marine Supplements Get Secondaries: The six Marine Supplements from 8th Edition get one Secondary option each, some of which (cough White Scars cough) are very strong.
- A Sneak Preview of Chaos Space Marines, Chaos Daemons, and Astra Militarum: Not to be outdone by their loyalist brethren, all the Chaos Space Marine legions that don’t get their own Codex get a Secondary in this book, alongside a new set for the faction in general. The Astra Militarum and Chaos Daemons also get a complete set of Secondaries for the first time, so players of those factions don’t have to limp along with a single secondary any more.
Faction Secondaries have, bluntly, been a bit hit and miss in 9th Edition. Some Factions get very good ones, plenty get one excellent choice, and a few Factions have struggled under the weight of being landed with a full suite of duds. War Zone Nephilim finally takes a swing at addressing that, reprinting all Faction Secondaries, and taking an opportunity to provide an update to all but the more recent books. The very best choices get toned down, but the big change here is likely to be that many previously bad choices now look far more appealing. With Faction options being brought centre stage by this Mission Pack, that’s great timing.
The Key Impacts
- Soup Is Mostly Dead: Outside of soup options like Traveling Players that don’t break Secondary access, the Faction secondary refresh and increased focus on them basically kills any prospect of souping just for an efficient combination of units.
- Some Factions Get a Shot in the Arm: The Adepta Sororitas make out like bandits, and all Marine factions benefit from having a broader set of choices than everyone else. Orks also get some worthwhile choices for the first time, and the new set of Necron options looks extremely exciting.
- Some Factions Get a Tough Break: A small number of Factions with fairly mediocre options…are still pretty mediocre. Mostly looking at Craftworlds and Adeptus Mechanicus here, and to a lesser extent Tyranids (though one of theirs got a very tangible boost).
There’s a ton of impact here. One of the big things to note is that the meta will shift dramatically following this update, likely pushing heavily toward factions with 2+ strong secondary options.
To our earlier point – this absolutely puts the nail in the coffin for non-exemption soup lists. Chaos Daemons riding with Death Guard/Thousand Sons/Chaos Space Marines look like an awful addition after you give up access to faction secondary objectives. Though again, summoning an Epidemius still seems to be an option for Death Guard or Chaos Space Marines players who want to go heavy on Daemon Engines.
Diving Into Each Faction
Alright time for the lightning round. We’ll go into detail in these and how to play with them in a new series of faction focus articles but for the moment we’ll do a quick pass on what’s changed and what you need to know about each faction’s secondary options.
There’s three general trends in how older Secondaries have changed that are worth calling out before we dive in, which all serve to make some previously weak options worth a new look. Firstly, secondaries that previously let your opponent choose a unit, such as Martial Interdiction or Blade of Sanguinius now usually have you pick an enemy unit to target, making them much easier to score, or at least giving you greater control over your destiny. Secondly, many Secondaries that let your opponent select an objective for you to target get a bit easier too – while it’s usually still the opponent’s choice, they can often no longer pick objectives in their deployment zone, making these far more achievable. Finally, in line with the change to Raise the Banners High, Action-based secondaries that previously required the opponent not to be in range of an objective now mostly just require you to control it, making them harder to mess with. This last change actually cuts both ways a bit, as this rider has been added to some Warpcraft options like Purifying Ritual, making them a bit harder. We’re generally positive on all these trends – the design team have clearly recognised that giving too much agency to the opponent is a recipe for a dud secondary, and applying these principles has ensured that far more of the choices across many factions are genuinely worthwhile.
Let’s start with the big one: There are a ton of space marine secondary objectives. Four that any marine army can use, one for each of the small supplement chapters, and then 3-4 each for the larger supplements, i.e. Black Templars, Blood Angels, Dark Angels, Deathwatch, and Space Wolves.
TheChirurgeon: The names here haven’t changed – you still have Codex Warfare, Shock Tactics, and Oaths of Moment – but the rules for them have. Let’s start with the big one: Oaths of Moment got scaled back, only scoring 1 VP if you have a CORE or CHARACTER unit wholly within 6” of the center of the battlefield. This is a big change, and makes scoring 15 for Oaths much less likely – though it’s still a very strong secondary. Shock Tactics now both scores at the end of your turn rather than the Battle Round, and only needs the opponent to have controlled the objective at the start of your turn, substantially improving it, and Codex Warfare now scores 2 VP for enemy units killed by Heavy or Grenade weapons while the Devastator Doctrine is active. This is another big tweak that will help mitigate the fact that the Devastator Doctrine is usually only active one turn.
With Oaths looking more like a 10-12 point secondary, it’s gone from a must-pick for the faction to something that will likely be part of a larger strategy. You’re still likely to take it in the No Mercy, No Respite category over No Prisoners, since it’s going to be far easier to score 10 points on. Shock Tactics is now also a better pick than it was previously, though potentially something your opponent can play around if they have off-phase movement tricks or just don’t need to hold a particular objective.
Where things get really spicy now is the ability to combine Oaths with other marine secondary objectives to create a trio of very solid options. And while the overall value here will be heavily dependent on what the faction secondaries look like and how easy they are to score, a number of tweaks, small and large. Let’s start however, with the six new secondary objectives, one for each of the Codex chapters:
- The Imperial Fists get Bolster Barricades, a Shadow Operations secondary objective that they can perform on objectives you control (once per), with an action that one CORE INFANTRY unit can attempt per turn and will finish in your next Command Phase. Bolster an objective in your deployment zone for 1 VP, in No Man’s Land for 4 VP. Once you barricade an objective, your Fists Infantry wholly within 6” of the objective get Light cover and Heavy cover, which is pretty nifty. It’s a solid secondary on the 6-objective missions and will be acceptably fine on some of the 5s.
- Iron Hands get Cold Fury in No Mercy, No Respite. This one will score you 1 VP each at the end of your turn for having vehicles in the opponent’s deployment zone or 6” of the centre of the battlefield, and for killing 1+ unit with ranged attacks from vehicles and 1+ from melee attacks from vehicles.
- Raven Guard get a Shadow Operation called Secure or Sabotage which allows their CORE INFANTRY units to plant explosives on objectives you control via an action that completes at the end of the turn. Once you have explosives down you can detonate them to do mortal wounds to nearby models or leave them on there. Each objective with explosives is worth 3 VP at the end of the game.
- Salamanders have The Promethean Creed, which has you pick one marker outside your deployment zone during your first Command phase. From then on you’ll score VP if you control it and have a CORE INFANTRY unit in range of it (2 VP), if an opponent attacks an INFANTRY unit in range of the objective but doesn’t kill it (1 VP to a max of 3 per turn), and if the INFANTRY units on that objective kill enemy units (1 VP, +1 if you destroyed it with flame/melta weapons). Wings: This one seems really good in some games – it absolutely puts your opponent in a “damned if they do, damned if they dont'” situation.
- The Ultramarines have We March for Macragge, a Shadow Operations objective that gives CORE INFANTRY the Claimed for Macragge action to do on unclaimed objectives outside your deployment zone. This finishes at the start of your next command phase and each objective you claim is worth 4 VP.
- Finally the White Scars get Lightning Strike in Purge the Enemy, one of the most powerful new secondaries in the book. At the end of your turn, you score 3 VP if your White Scars destroyed an enemy character or monster after charging, 1 VP for each other enemy unit killed in melee by a charging unit, and 1 VP for each enemy unit killed by a ranged attack from an Advancing White Scars unit, to a maximum of 5 VP per battle round. It’s a nice little reward for doing the things your army wants to do naturally.
Black Templars get a boost in this new book in a few ways – Bathe Your Blade in the Blood of the Foe now lets you choose the enemy character to accept the challenge and gives you an extra CP if you satisfy all three conditions. Allow Not the Worship of Unclean Idols now goes off at the end of your turn, triggers if your opponent held the objective at the start of your turn, and can be scored by CORE units and CHAPLAIN units, making it an actually useful battlefield supremacy option.
TheChirurgeon: The Blood Angels are some of the biggest winners here. In part because Death From Above is now easier to score, starting at 3 VP and netting you bonuses for Character kills and killing a unit the turn the unit arrives, making it possible to score 5 VP in a turn. Relentless Assault is relatively unchanged and may be a solid replacement for Stranglehold against armies and deployment zones where screening out your units is difficult or impossible. And Blade of Sanguinius gets a similar overhaul to other challenge Secondaries, making it easier to score as well.
Gunum:The Dark Angels got some nerfs on the other hand – Stubborn Defiance now scores only for objectives outside your deployment zone, meaning if you want to score 15 points for it you’ll need to put a unit on a No Man’s Land objective during deployment and keep it there all game. That means you absolutely have to have some sort of Infiltrating unit (or use the Ravenwing pre-game move) if you want to max this, and you still need to keep the same unit there all the way through, meaning that you can no longer use ultra-tanky Deathwing for max points (Wings: Note that the wording has changed here in a way that looks like they’ve removed this part of it, but on a close read it does still need to be the same unit, which makes this much steeper a challenge). The next big one, Death on the Wind verbiage remains unchanged, but don’t start driving in big circles again guys! Martial Interdiction got some adjustments as well. Adding in if the chosen enemy unit was plain old destroyed for 3 points, instead of just by Deathwing/Ravenwing units. Overall, fine changes.
TheChirurgeon: The Deathwatch had a real rough set of Secondary objectives and Nephilim doesn’t do them a ton of favors. Suffer Not the Alien is still the best of the bunch, and great in a meta dominated by Tyranids, Eldar, and T’au, but it’s not clear how long that will last and it’s very situational. The Long Vigil is likely the second best of the lot, and there are some minor tweaks to it that make it a bit more manageable – it only scores you 4 VP per turn (except the first) if you can keep enemy units from being wholly within your deployment zone and keep one of your units in – a big improvement from when enemy units just had to be within 6” of your DZ. Cull Order is still nothing to write home about – Cull lets you select all three categories now but that isn’t enough to make it viable. Cripple Stronghold offers some interesting potential; it now has your opponent pick one marker out of their deployment zone to be a stronghold, and if you control said marker you can do an action on it to score 4 VP and, on a D6 roll of a 6, take away one of their CP. Whether it’s playable will be extremely dependent on the map.
Wings: Secondary objectives are good again, awoooo. Heroic Challenge gets the general change to this flavour of secondary that you now choose the target, and given that your Character is often going to be sporting a jetpack or bike, hunting down their prey will often be very doable. You might not bother in many matchups though, because your other contender in Purge, Glory Kills, also sees a spectacular improvement. The Character hunting half of this has stayed the same, but the 3VP award now comes for taking out a Monster or Vehicle (rather than just the former), and you get 1VP on that bit for dealing any wounds. In the current metagame, however, the really important bit is that a CHARACTER MONSTER or CHARACTER VEHICLE now counts for both halves – so punching out a Hive Tyrant is a cool 5VP, straight up. Don’t worry about your Warlord feeling left out of the fun if you’re picking Glory Kills over Challenge though, because A Mighty Saga has also seen a massive uplift, extremely relevant given Oaths has dipped in power. The structure is still the same – there are some goals for your warlord, you get 2VP for each you achieve in the Battle Round, to a maximum of 5VP, but it’s vastly easier to pull off. Notably, “destroy a unit” has been added to the list, and the previous goal of holding an objective in the opponent’s deployment zone in your Command Phase has changed to holding an objective outside your deployment zone at the end of the Battle Round which is, uh, quite a bit easier. All your warlord has to do is punt a sacrificial enemy unit off an objective and stick around to the end of the round and that’s an easy 4VP, and you can get more if they were a Vehicle, Monster or Character. In payment for this, Warrior Pride gets the tiniest downgrade in that it only applies to units outside your deployment zone, but who cares – this looks excellent, and should give Wolves a real fighting chance in some key matchups.
JONK: The overall changes are rough for the current meta builds due to how many warlord traits and relics we take and the fact that we rely on stranglehold/engage/oaths. However the codex-specific secondaries are now very legit and being able to double up on them opens up interesting new ideas. I like the changes.
Space Marines received most of the love here, but there’s plenty to talk about with the other Imperial factions.
TheChirurgeon: The Sisters of Battle are some of the big winners in this GT packet. Slay the Heretic offers much more potential now, rewarding VP at the end of the battle round for each enemy unit destroyed by a bolt weapon (1, to a max of 5 per battle), each enemy unit destroyed by a flame weapon (1, to a max of 5), and each enemy unit destroyed by a melta weapon (1 to a max of 5). You no longer score bonus points, but now you can snag points for off-phase shooting and you can score multiple VP for each per turn. Defend the Shrine is another big winner here – now you pick the objective marker outside of your DZ to be the Sacred Shrine. You still score 3 VP at the end of your turn for holding it, but you lose 3 VP if your opponent controls it at the end of the battle. Still, it’s an easy 9-12 points in many missions even if you lose it the final turn. Sacred Grounds got a huge buff, now being doable by multiple units on objectives you control. This is another common change – many action objectives that previously could not be attempted with enemies in range now just require you to control the objective, making them easier to complete.
TheChirurgeon: With Stranglehold and To the Last out of the picture, Custodes need some secondary help if they want to stay in the game and they get some. Auric Mortalis loses its -2 VP rider for units killed by the chosen unit and now scores you 5 VP as long as that unit is destroyed outside of your deployment zone. Might of Terra loses its ANATHEMA PSYKANA rider, so you can lose sisters and still score it, making it a better option than Grind for armies that want to bring a unit of Sisters of Silence or two. Stand Vigil remains unchanged but it’s much more useful and valuable in a world without Stranglehold.
TheChirurgeon: The Mechanicus walk out of this update as some of the bigger losers – their secondary objectives don’t get a ton of help here. Accretion of Knowledge is otherwise unchanged but adds a rider that only units killed by Adeptus Mechanicus units count, making it harder to score if you bring allies. Uncharted Sequencing gains a similar requirement for holding the objective. Likewise for Hidden Archaeovault, though that now scores you 4 VP at the end of each round for holding the objective your opponent picks. Eradication of Flesh is the lone upside, scoring you 3 VP at the end of any battle round in which you destroy more enemy units with Mechanicus vehicles than they destroy mechanicus vehicles. Though while this new version is better, it still seems to rely on Kastelan-heavy armies.
TheChirurgeon: The Imperial Guard finally receive a full complement of secondary objectives here rather than a singular one to tide them over… and they’re all new. For the Emperor!, first introduced in Nachmund, is gone. Instead we have four new secondaries to replace it, each in a different category.
- By Lasgun and Bayonet – Scores 1 VP each time you kill an enemy unit that started the turn in range of an objective marker.
- Special Orders – Gives you an action that one infantry unit can perform per turn if it’s within 12” of a friendly officer and in range of an objective marker you control that hasn’t already been claimed. Finishes at the end of your turn and each time you do it you can roll to get an extra Command point. You can score 2/5/10/15 for doing this on 1/2/3/4+ objectives.
- Boots on the Ground – Scores you VP for having <REGIMENT> INFANTRY wholly within a battlefield quarter and 6” from the center, plus 1 if you have a unit wholly within 6” of the center or your opponent’s DZ. It’s like an improved, variable Engage just for guard.
- Inflexible Command – Scores you points at the end of your turn. 2 VP if every one of your INFANTRY units is within 6” of a friendly OFFICER, 1 VP if every vehicle is within 12” of a friendly VEHICLE OFFICER, and 1 VP if you killed any enemy units by a unit that was being affected by an order or tank order. There are some extra allotments here for transports and Vox Casters, which can extend your range.
On the whole, this is a very good set of secondaries – Boots is a strong upgrade from Engage, and Special Orders is one of the more powerful effects we’ve seen of that variety. The real question is whether they’ll be enough to overcome an army that gives up so many points on Bring it Down and No Prisoners. It’s a good start, at least.
TheChirurgeon: This is the easiest section to write – the Secondary Objectives for Imperial Knights haven’t changed much (Yield No Ground dropping to be a bit less good each turn, but working turn one is the only update) – they were likely too new to merit a big rewrite. What has changed is that you can take up to three of them, which means you can combine Renew the Oaths, Honour of the House, and Yield No Ground, which is a solid play in a post-Stranglehold economy. Honour had always seemed like free real estate but now you don’t have to choose between it and something else.
TheChirurgeon: Minor adjustments were made to the Grey Knight Secondaries. Destroy The Daemon is still there (and annoying), but not reduces your score by 1 for each remaining Daemon unit on the battlefield that isn’t below half strength/wounds, making it much less of an auto-include against Daemons. Teleport Assault improved, now scoring you 4 VP for killing an enemy unit by a teleporting GK unit in a round. And Purifying Ritual got a small but necessary nerf, now requiring that you hold the objective and capping out at 5 VP (instead of 6) in a given turn. It’s still incredibly powerful, but it’ll be harder to max it out and can’t just be stolen away from armies that are good at holding objectives.
Here to help talk about Chaos is Mike Pestilens, renowned Daemons player and author of the excellent Warphammer blog.
Mike P: Chaos has such a wide variety of playstyles and units that the impact of the Nephilim mission pack will vary widely by army. On the whole, Chaos armies are generally winners–but certain styles of lists will have to be rebuilt to adapt to the new missions.
Mike P: Let’s start with one of the biggest winners: Mortarion’s sons. Death Guard needed some Secondary help to help overcome their slow speed in the Primary game, and that is exactly what they got. Fleeing Vectors and Spread The Sickness are both massively improved, to the point where I could easily see a Death Guard list running all 3 of their bespoke Secondaries. Fleeing Vectors in particular went from one of the very worst Secondaries in the game to the very best. It no longer relies on Morale checks, instead rewarding you generously for killing models with Plague Weapons… with the added bonus that you are also handsomely rewarded if they do end up failing morale checks. Despoiled Ground also got a stealth buff, now only requiring <Death Guard> units instead of <Bubonic Astartes> units.
Because of the change to Despoiled Ground and Fleeing Vectors, Death Guard players can shift to more aggressive lists that pressure Primary harder. Add on the durability boost that Death Guard received with Armour of Contempt and the benefits of Objective Secured Terminators, and Death Guard are likely going to make a strong return to the competitive scene.
TheChirurgeon: Spread the Sickness went from being an average secondary to a legitimately strong one now that you can easily score 10 VP on it. Now you score 4 VP for corrupted objectives outside your deployment zone and you no longer take Mortal Wounds – you instead roll and spread on a 4+ if your unit doesn’t have ObSec, making Poxwalkers once again incredibly valuable. Fleeing Vectors still gives you bonus VP for failed morale checks, and I suspect that this will make Break Their Spirits a very powerful Stratagem in a meta that is less likely to spend CP on Insane Bravery.
Mike P: Thousand Sons come off better than most factions in the new mission packet. They received a significant nerf to Wrath Of Magnus, which is honestly fair. That one Secondary was having a big impact on other factions’ list construction, and many people avoided bringing a Librarian just to not give up Wrath Of Magnus (as well as take Abhor themselves). Nerfing Wrath of Magnus will have a net positive impact on the game overall. In exchange, Thousand Sons received an equal buff to Sorcerous Prowess. That Secondary no longer requires you to kill Psykers, giving you 2 points for killing any unit in the Psychic phase–with further escalators if the units you kill are Psykers. This makes it very appealing in MSU matchups, as Thousand Sons can pick up trade units like Kroot and Wyches trivially in the psychic phase. Losing Stranglehold is annoying for Thousand Sons, but they have plenty of other strong Secondaries to pivot towards.
TheChirurgeon: Wrath of Magnus now scores you 1 VP each for casting more Warpfire/Malediction/Blessing powers than the opponent, which is a huge change. It’s still doable but probably requires a bit too much building to be viable, and will only likely be a pick against armies with 1 psyker. The good news is that Mutate Landscape gets a bit of a sidegrade in that it no longer increases in difficulty but now requires you to control the objective you cast on. Likewise Burn Empires needs only be done on a controlled objective, not one with no enemy units in range, making it slightly easier to accomplish. On the whole, I don’t love these changes, but Mutate seems like a safer pick than it was and while Wrath of Magnus is worse, Sorcerous Prowess helps keep the army afloat with some legitimately solid play against Grey Knights now that Wrath of Magnus isn’t much of an option.
Mike P: Chaos Knights benefit more than arguably any faction in the game from the ability to bring three faction-specific Secondaries. Like Death Guard, Chaos Knights players could easily run 3 faction secondaries every game and be in a solid spot.
Ruthless Tyranny went from a redundant Secondary to one of the most valuable in the game. Even though it is a slightly better Stranglehold, CK players rarely selected Ruthless Tyranny because it was smarter to pick a faction secondary from a weaker category. Now that Stranglehold has been removed from everyone in the game, Ruthless Tyranny has become an incredibly valuable Secondary.
Path of Darkness returns unchanged. That is not a bad thing. It’s one of those Secondaries that you will rarely score 15 on, but will almost always get a decent score. It competes with Grind Them Down which will generally be the better pick for lists running a big Knight or two, but Path to Darkness is always a decent option for people who will swarm the board in War Dogs. Storm Of Darkness is a key part of how Chaos Knights will play. It gives them a great action secondary in a category where Knights don’t usually expect to find value. The interesting part is the Nephilim printing kept the “Morale phase” wording that the codex had, which indicates that it’s the intent for CK players to be able to start this action in both player’s Morale phases. The fact that you also get big -1 Leadership auras from this secondary stack very nicely with the Chaos Knights overall gameplan. Scoring you VP, making Dread tests harder, and forcing more opponents to run from morale or the Ravenous Pterrorshades stratagem? What’s not to love!
Chaos Space Marines
TheChirurgeon: There’s an entire host of new Chaos Space Marine secondaries here, and if the WarCom previews are any indication, they’re essentially the same ones we should expect to see in the upcoming Codex: Chaos Space Marines. That makes sense, because when that book does publish, its secondary objectives will not be matched play legal; only the ones in Nephilim are legal for play. Though again, we suspect they’re the same. It’s hard to evaluate these without the new rules, but we’ll at least run through them.
Mike P: It will be very interesting to see how the upcoming Chaos Space Marines codex interacts with the new Nephilim mission pack.
TheChirurgeon: OK so there are three TRAITORIS ASTARTES secondaries that any of the codex legions can use. First off, The Long War returns here from Nachmund and hasn’t changed. It’s still only OK. In Purge the Enemy we get Rise to Glory, which scores you 2 VP at the end of the battle round for each enemy character, monster, or vehicle model killed by your Traitoris Astartes characters in melee, with bonus points if the model had 10-19 wounds (+1) or had 20+ or was the enemy Warlord (+2), to a maximum of 5 VP per round. Also, whenever your characters destroy one of these units in melee you roll 2D6 and if you roll under their wounds characteristic you get +1 CP, which is a nice little bonus. This is a neat secondary that pairs very well with Lords Discordant. It’ll be enemy dependent, and dependent on Lords Discordant being good, but there’s a lot to like here thanks to the vehicle/monster rider.
In Shadow Ops we have For the Dark Gods, a secondary which gives your infantry and bikers an action to devote a quarter of the table to one of the four chaos powers if you’re within 3” of the middle of the table quarter. Complete it at the start of the next Command phase and that quarter is dedicated to that god, and any unit of that god gets +2 to its Ld. Also, at the end of the game you score 2/5/9/14 depending on how many table quarters you dedicate. This one is… only OK. It’s a one-per-turn attempt, and not finishing at the end of your turn really hurts it. It’s probably going to be best on quarters deployment maps.
After the generic ones we get nine legion secondaries – the seven Codex legions plus one each for Red Corsairs and Agents of Bile.
- The Alpha Legion have what is hands-down my favorite secondary in the whole book. Infiltrate and Subvert gives your non-character Infantry an action they can do while they’re wholly within 6” of your opponent’s deployment zone, and it finishes at the start of the next Command phase. It’s worth 3 VP each time you do it, or 4 VP if you were wholly within your opponent’s DZ.
But wait, there’s more – each time you complete the action, if there are any objective markers within range of your unit you roll a D6; on a 3+ (or a 5+ if you’re a cultist unit), that objective is subverted – it can never be held by the enemy again, and any actions done in range of it automatically fail. That’s just incredibly wild, and I love it. Sure, the secondary is just OK overall but man that extra rider is so much fun. More of this, please.
- Good news! The Black Legion do in fact get “more of this.” Despoil Dominions is another Shadow Ops objective that Infantry and Bikers can attempt while they’re in range of a non-despoiled objective marker as long as there are no enemy units nearby (not sure why they kept the old wording, as it sucks). It completes at the start of your next command phase and from then on it’s despoiled. It’s worth 1 VP if the marker was in your DZ and 4 if the marker was outside your DZ. On top of that, any time an enemy unit tries to do an action in range of a despoiled marker you roll a D6 and on a 4+ the action fails. Again, great stuff, though this is another objective I’m not likely to actually take.
- Creations of Bile have Specimens for the Enemy in Purge, which scores them 3 VP in a battle round if you kill an enemy character or monster in melee, and 2 VP if you killed a non-vehicle, non-character, non-monster unit in melee. Then at the end of the game if you killed 1+ marine units in melee, you get an extra VP.
- The Emperor’s Children had to be extra with their secondary, Adorn the Canvas Electric. This one scores you 1 VP at the end of each round for controlling more objective markers than your opp, destroying more enemy units with ranged attacks than your opp, destroying more enemy units with melee attacks, and killing more characters. Do all four and you score a fifth bonus VP. This one is honestly pretty solid. It’s in No Mercy, and I think it will be better than No Prisoners a lot of the time.
- The Iron Warriors get screwed here. Their secondary, Masters of Demolition, was previewed on WarCom and seems to mostly be a waste of time. It has your opponent set up three objective markers on the table, more than 6” from a battlefield edge and 9” from each other. Only one of which can be set up within 6” of their deployment zone, and your mission during the game is to do an action to “demolish” them, and these are worth 4 VP each, plus 3 if one was within 6” of your opponent’s DZ. Letting the opponent pick the locations for these is some old wording nonsense and it stinks – the only upside here is that the action finishes at the end of your turn.
- The Night Lords on the other hand get a very cool secondary – Sow the Seed, Reap the Fear is a No Mercy secondary that scores you 1 VP each time an enemy unit fails a morale test, falls back, or fails an action. In addition, each time you destroy an enemy unit you roll 2D6 and if you beat their Ld you get an extra bonus VP. Simple, and solid, and likely combos well with what I assume will be a Night Lords Legion trait that gives an Ld debuff. Also units that rez count for this multiple times, which is good stuff.
- The Red Corsairs get a secondary that’s potentially more fluffy than useful – Raid and Reave is a Shadow Ops secondary that lets one or more of your Infantry or Bikers “raid” an objective marker with no enemy units nearby (again, old wording that makes this useless) by doing an action on it that completes start of your next Command phase. From then on that unit is carrying spoils, and the objective has been raided. Each time a unit completes the action score 1 VP if the marker was in your DZ, 3 if it was in your opp’s, and 2 otherwise. At the end of the game you score 1 VP for each spoils unit still on the table, or 2 if they’re in your DZ. I love the flavor on this, but it’s just not a good secondary. Too many hoops to even get the action off, and then you need those units to survive the rest of the game to have a chance at maxing it. This one should have been an Agenda.
- The Word Bearers get their own Shadow Op as well, Exalt the Dark Gods. This one has you keep a dark gods tally for each time your Infantry do its once-per-turn action within 6” of the center of the table. This one has a cool call-out to let your psykers still cast while doing the action. If the unit doing it has an Icon, is an Apostle, or a Master of Possession, this one completes end of your turn, and only completes if no enemy units are wholly within 6” of the battlefield center. End of the battle you score 2/4/9/15 for your tally. Being able to go to 15, the wholly within rider for enemies, and being able to start with enemies on the objective and finish end-of-turn make this a solid secondary to pick, and probably more viable than For the Dark Gods.
- The World Eaters have Skulls for the Skull Throne, a challenge secondary identical to Bathe your Blade in the Blood of your Foe and Blade of Sanguinius and the Space Wolves one. It’s fine. You’re gonna melee things anyways.
Mike P: Let’s talk Secondaries. All 3 of the Daemon Secondaries are viable to varying extents, which is a nice change after having 0 Faction secondaries for most of the edition and only 1 for a long time after that.
Reality Rebels is an upgraded version of Engage On All Fronts, which synergizes nicely with the overall Daemons gameplan. While it will be tough to score on the opponent’s side of the board in most games, you should be able to reliably score it on your half of the board. The ability to also pick up additional points in the center of the board will make this an extremely common pick for most Daemons players. You want to spread out and take the center–why not get rewarded while doing that?
Nourished By Terror is an upgraded version of Malefic Terror, the old Daemons faction secondary. The big difference is that Nourished By Terror has lost the cap of 4VP per turn. This is a really great upgrade. A Secondary that relies on Morale is always going to be very swingy. Some turns you’ll score 0, and some turns you could potentially score 5+. Now you’re able to rack up the points in a hurry if you have a turn that goes your way, and a few units fail morale and run in multiple places. This Secondary is far from amazing, but it’s a very decent option. Think of it as a replacement for something like Grind Them Down against horde type armies.
Despoilers Of Reality isn’t great. The fact you have to perform the action on objectives outside of your deployment zone makes it tough to justify on most missions. The one upside is it isn’t limited in how many units can score it. If you’re wiping your opponent off the board, you can start it on every single objective at the bottom of turn 5 and score 15 at the end of the game. Unfortunately, this isn’t a realistic outcome for most Daemon lists at this point as they rely on board control over killing power.
Daemons players will likely take some combination of Reality Rebels/Banners or Grind Them Down/Ritual or Psychic Interrogation most games. That’s a perfectly fine gameplan, and one that is certainly an improvement from where Daemons were before the Nephilim mission pack.
Gunum: This army is my current passion project, so I was pretty excited to see how their secondaries got buffed. It’s hard to say they’ve gotten as strong as a secondary game as say, Blood Angels, but the Necrons got a real glow-up. The Silent King’s favorite secondary, Code of Combat, changed a bit, for the better. Instead of getting 3 points every time you kill any unit, you get 3 for killing something in shooting and 4 for killing a unit in melee. Very cool. Next, Purge the Vermin changed to 1 point per table quarter that has no enemies wholly within, and an extra point if no enemies are within your deployment zone. Toned down a little, but I think the add on is a good one for your home area. Next, Treasure of the Aeons got a pretty substantial buff as it now disallows your opponent from picking the objective in their deployment zone. Since it scores at the end of your turn, obsec units and pre-game moves will be huge here. Finally, we have Ancient Machineries.This has been adjusted a little bit. A core unit or a Canoptek can start to wake up an objective marker that is not in your deployment zone, with obsec units completing the action in your turn. Every time you wake up an objective, you get 4 points. This action can be done if you control the objective, regardless if enemy models are there. Done right, a Necron player can do an Ancient Machinery action, and get their treasure points for huge 9 point first turns, not including a Code of Combat kill, pretty sick.
Wings: Yeah these are incredible. Not only is Treasures of the Aeons now a better Stranglehold, it’s been moved from Battlefield Supremacy to No Mercy, No Respite, meaning you can take it and Purge the Vermin. That can now be scored turn one (and is essentially three free VP if you go first), so you’re very reliably going to get at least a moderate score from it, and the overall picture for Necrons is very, very positive – this is in contention for being the outright best set of Faction Secondaries.
Wings: As a relatively new codex there are, unsurprisingly, not that many changes here. Scout the Enemy and Wrath of Khaine stay unchanged (though they have tidied up the wording on the latter so it’s much clearer how it works, which is nice), while Scry Futures is sidegraded in a way that probably ends up as worse – the Warp Charge is lower, and no longer increases, but you now have to control the objective to do it, making it harder to pull off in a pinch. Given Psychic Interrogation got better, you should go ahead and keep picking that over Scry. The one big boost the Asuryani get is that the Webway Gate version of The Hidden Path is massively improved – rather than having to completely prevent the enemy from being near it, if you have more models than them within 3” of the gate, or any models with ObSec, you score the points. Note that opposing ObSec doesn’t interfere with this, so as long as you can keep a Phoenix Lord chilling out near the gate, your opponent can’t stop the points rolling in. That probably does open some options for army builds, and outside of bthat the departure of To The Last means you probably need to build for Wrath of Khaine a lot of the time.
Wings: The diabolical clown menace somehow hoodwink their way into getting some significant boosts here. A Deadly Performance was already a strong Secondary and gets even better, with the melee kills condition dropping down to two units from three (and no other changes). You should go ahead and continue to pick this a lot. Weave Veil gets arguably an even bigger boost, dropping down to a starting Warp Charge of 3 and increasing to 18” range, making it worth actual consideration over Psychic Interrogation in some matchups. Finally, Take Your Places hasn’t changed, but rides the general wave of improvement that faction Battlefield Supremacy options get in a post-Stranglehold world. A great set of options.
Wings: Rob’s bête noire, Herd The Prey, finally gets taken down a notch here, changing to only score 1VP for each quarter each turn, but at least being able to be scored in the first turn in tradeoff. That still significantly weakens it, as even if you pick up a couple of points for this turn one, you’re still needing to clear out three quarters for turns 2-4 then table your opponent to max it. It’s probably still pickable some of the time, as letting you play the game on your terms rather than the opponent’s is still great, but you need to be finding points from elsewhere.
The good news on that front is that the other three Drukhari Secondaries, which were pretty much pure trash previously, all get a boost. In Purge the Enemy, both choices get big improvements. Take Them Alive!, which previously gave you 3VP for killing at least one Character/Monster in melee in a battle round and 1VP if you killed at least one other unit in melee, now provides VP for each unit in both cases, to a maximum of 5VP per battle round. This is a huge deal, as it means that you can maximise this over three explosive turns if things go right, and can make up the numbers by taking out multiple weak units if the opponent isn’t exposing Characters or Monsters. Still not an auto-pick or anything, but far, far more plausible. Beasts for the Arena also gets a big boost, in that you can now score it (for 2VP rather than 3VP) with non-Wych Cult units, so you don’t have to be nearly as skewed to make it practical (and Wych Cult stuff still gets the full 3VP to boot). In practice, Cavalry and Beast are still rare enough Keywords that Take Them Alive! Is almost always going to be better than this, but it’s nice that it’s at least gotten a look.
Finally, Fear and Terror gets one of the biggest overhauls in the book. Rather than rewarding you for each model that flees (a truly atrocious option), this now has four different ways to score it, each worth 1VP. An enemy unit failing a morale test gives you 1VP, which might be worth a few, and you might occasionally pick one up for them failing an Action, but the two big ones are that you get a VP each time the opponent falls back, and each time you kill a unit in melee you get to roll against their leadership, and if you beat it you get a point. That mechanic was tried out with the Daemon Secondary in Nachmund, and admittedly there didn’t really do much, but pairing it with the scoring opportunity of the opponent falling back makes it far better, as do tools like Grisly Trophies to tank the opponent’s Ld. This one’s hard to get a feel for overall, honestly – opponents do fall back a lot against Drukhari, but it’s possible that this is only great in matchups you were already favoured to win, and won’t do much in harder games. It’s certainly better than it was but may not be by enough.
The overall picture for Drukhari is that Herd drops in value a bit, but is probably still decent which is more the target for Battlefield Supremacy picks now, while Take Them Alive! jumps to being a legit Purge choice in a lot of games. Certainly not a blowout success like some factions, but could certainly have been worse.
Wings: There is actually one significant change here, surprising given how recent the book is, but welcome (at least for Tyranid players) given the set in the book was pretty weak. Cranial Feasting gets the critical boost that each CHARACTER you destroy with melee attacks now awards 3VP rather than 1VP, and the rest of it stays the same. If you’re a melee-heavy army, that switches this from being hard work to being “better Assassinate” a lot of the time, and should see very heavy usage. Synaptic Insight also gets a small boost in that it no longer excludes Dedicated Transports, but is still capped at 12, and still bafflingly terrible overall. Finally, Spore Nodes doesn’t change from the FAQed version, but does at least put the updated (and better) version into the printed rules, so it’s doable for some Troops-heavy armies. Not much else to say here – having a Purge option that is now pretty good is a decent boost to the Hive Mind.
Wings: Speaking of boosts to the Hive Mind – let’s go. All three Cult Secondaries get big improvements. The smallest change, but still potentially important is Sabotage Critical Location. This benefits from the general change that starting the Action now only requires you to control the objective rather than the opponent not being within 3” of it, so it is actually doable now. Does this make it viable over Retrieve Nephilim Data? Hard to say for sure – on the one hand, you do still have to push pretty far into the opponent’s half of the board to pull it off, but on the other there are definitely going to be games where you can tick off both of them on turn 3 for a locked-in 14VP. Technically, the restriction on not doing this turn 1 has also been removed, but given there’s nothing in the scoring chart for that, it’s probably just a typo.
Next up, Broodswarm gets a fairly spicy change, with a fourth condition added to the list – have more models on the Battlefield than the opponent. While the GSC hordes of 8th are no more, this is still going to be extremely easy in some games, and while having four conditions technically makes the point for satisfying all conditions harder to get, it seems extremely unlikely that you would successfully pull off the existing three without landing the new one, and this change means you can very easily pick up 3VP for this in early turns, and can quite plausibly finish the whole thing by turn 4, helping claw a victory from the opponent if you get tabled.
Finally, Ambush also gets a fairly substantial improvement – both the Exposed condition and the condition for destroying an enemy unit with one of yours that arrived from Ambush or Underground now provide 2VP instead of 1VP (and a cap per turn of 4VP is added). This is extremely good news – you’re no longer capped at 13VP even when you play a perfect game, and can now aim to max this out by spiking some high scoring turns with Kelermorphs. Given that Grind is dire for Cults, and No Prisoners very situational, expect to see this taken quite a lot, because it’s fundamentally going to give you a pretty solid score just for playing the game you already wanted to.
Good stuff for Cults, and if they pick up some point drops too, this should help them overcome their current challenges.
Wings: Almost completely unchanged here – the one update is a small boost to Aerospace Relays, where the Action now completes at the end of the turn if a Fire Warrior Team is performing it. This was already a very playable Secondary, and while it won’t change that much, it’s certainly welcome. It does mean that armies with a couple of Devilfish in them can immediately lock in 9VP on this if they go first on Dawn of War or Hammer and Anvil deployments, which can help put the opponent under scoring pressure in some games. Fun fact too – Pathfinders also have this keyword, so if you’re happy to use them, you don’t even need the Devilfish thanks to their pre-game move. The other two choices stay the same, but both are likely to see quite a lot more usage – no To The Last means you’re sometimes going to want A Clean Victory, while no Stranglehold means you’re definitely going to use Decisive Action in some games.
Wings: Orks is last, but never least. Or something. Anyway, do you know what any of the existing Ork Secondaries do? I barely do, (Rob: I do – Stomp ‘Em Good is OK, but if you say that out loud, an ork player shows up and screams at you until blood comes out their ears) and I know far more of the rules of this game than is probably healthy, so there’s probably room for improvement. The one Secondary that was already OK, Stomp ‘Em Good, returns unchanged, and while it probably needed a little bit of a boost (maybe changing the reward for doubling your opponent’s score to 2VP) you’ll still pick it sometimes. The other three secondaries all see significant changes. Green Tide is definitely better, but still asks quite a bit of you. Rather than rewarding you for putting Ork units with at least 11 models in two or more table quarters, you now get 1VP for each quarter where there are at least 10 Ork models that are >6” from any other quarter. That’s far harder to shut down than the old version, and requires less specific targeting in list construction, but Orks want to be brawling in the mid board, and this specifically pulls you away from that. The faction also has a tonne of cheap vehicles and infiltrators/deep strikers that can be used to tee up Engage, so maybe just take that?
Anyway, on to the two significantly improved ones. Get Da Good Bitz gets a massive glow up – it switches to the standard language around controlling an objective rather than the opponent not being in range of it at all, and if you perform the Action with GRETCHIN or LOOTAS, it finishes at the end of the turn. There’s a small trade off that it does now cap at 5VP per battle round, but given that you couldn’t score any points for it in BR 1 previously, that’s extremely fine. Also, if you’re feeling kunnin’, remember that if you start this with a unit that completes it at the end of the turn on one objective, and a unit that completes it in your next Command Phase on another, the points for each will roll in on different Battle Rounds, so won’t hit the cap. This feels particularly strong on six objective maps, where it feels like you’ll often be more than half way through this by the end of your second turn. Finally, Da Biggest And Da Best changes to match the updated version of A Mighty Saga in Space Wolves, which means that it rules, and it’s in Purge the Enemy still, which makes it even better. Do you want to score 4VP because your Squigosaur boss charged onto an objective and killed the unit that was holding it? Yes. Yes you do. The best Ork characters are far harder to punk out than Space Wolves ones, and this feels like a huge pickup for the army.
There are a few other things we need to note here as well that don’t quite fit into the above categories because they combine things from multiple sections.
- Infiltrators and pre-game moves are incredibly important now. And by “infiltrators,” I mean units that can deploy outside of your deployment zone. There are both missions and secondaries now that key off having units outside of the deployment zone – on Recover the Relics, you still only gain your battle-forged CP bonus at the start of the Command phase if you control an objective marker in No Man’s Land or enemy territory, but now if you go second you’ll likely miss out on two CP as a result – one in your opponent’s Command Phase and one in your own. Secondaries like Purge the Vermin and Herd the Prey can also start you on 3-4 CP in missions with quarters deployment when you’re going first. For armies that can take infiltrators or pre-game move into other deployment zones, doing so will be even more important.
- Scoring is likely going down a bit. Removing Stranglehold and To the Last significantly reduce the number of 15-point secondary options some armies have and make scores of 100 less likely unless your faction has some truly bonkers options and your opponent is handing out free points. This should theoretically create a more level playing field, but a lot of that will depend on how things shake out from a secondary balance standpoint.
- Building your army to avoid the Generic Secondaries is Better. With fewer choices overall, if you can dodge giving up lots of points on Assassinate, Bring it Down or No Prisoners, you probably should, as it’s more likely to leave your opponent in the position of having to take something they can’t max.
Look, if you’re playing competitive 40k, you need this book. If we have one qualm with the book, it’s that it’s not spiral-bound (why, GW?), but the mere fact that it contains a hard copy of FAQ-updated rules alone makes it worth picking up to have as a reference. It’s a solid book with a lot of exciting new rules that are going to have a seismic impact on the meta.
That said, it’s still really early to talk about these impacts until we’ve seen the upcoming points update and Q3 balance dataslate – both of which we expect to be right around the corner. Once we have those, we can really start to visualize what things will look like. Though even then, Nephilim represents such a drastic change-up – and that’s also not considering the upcoming Codex: Chaos Space Marines – that we’ll likely see everything turned on its head in the next few weeks. For our part, we’re excited as hell – the meta needed a massive shake-up.
We’ll be doing a competitive Roundtable this week, followed by some deeper analysis and Faction Focus articles after we get updated points, at the very least, and we’ll likely have the Art of War crew back to help write those. Stay tuned!
Have any questions or feedback? Drop us a note in the comments below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.