Codex: Adepta Sororitas Crusade Review

A bit less overwhelming than the hand-cranked weirdness of the Adeptus Mechanicus, and substantially more whelming than the Adeptus Astartes, the Adepta Sororitas are coming in with their own Crusade rules. If you like miracles and/or suffering, prepare yourself, because there’s a lot going on here.

Agendas

Test of Faith is for the Crusade force that went heavy on Miracle Dice. Here you keep a tally of each time a unit performs an Act of Faith using a Miracle dice, at the end of the battle a unit will gain 1 XP for every Test of Faith tally to a maximum of 3. But, should that unit fail a Morale test, their Test of Faith tally resets back to zero.

Facing the Grey Knights, some Thousand Sons, or Big Bird and his horde of friends? Then Burn the Witch is the Agenda for you. Every time you destroy an enemy Psyker unit you add 1 to this tally. Unless, of course, you do it with a flame weapon, in which case you increase that tally by 3.  At the end of the battle a unit will gain 1 XP for every Burn the Witch tally, to a maximum of 5.

Atonement in Battle is pretty useful on its own, allowing you to choose a unit before the game to try to work off its shame if it can destroy an enemy unit with a higher Power Rating in melee. To be eligible for the agenda, the unit has to either have the SISTERS REPENTIA keyword or one of the Loss of Reputation, Disgraced, Mark of Shame, or Battle-Weary battle scars. If you’re successful, the unit loses one of those Battle Scars (if it had one), gains 5XP, and (if it’s a Repentia unit), gains 1 “Redemption point.” More on those later.

The Seed of the Imperium is the blood of martyrs, as the saying goes, and so this agenda gives your units experience for getting killed. Getting killed is definitely an experience, so this checks out. You get to choose 3 units for this agenda at the end of the game, and each will gain 1 XP if they’re below full strength, 2XP if they’re below half, or 3XP if they were destroyed. However, dying in vain doesn’t help anyone, so in order to be eligible for this agenda, your chosen units have to have either destroyed at least one unit over the course of the battle or ended the game within range of an objective. Giving your life for the Emperor is always appreciated, but you’re much more likely to be remembered fondly if your sacrifice results in victory. As a result, each unit you chose gets one less XP if you lost the game. 

Notably, since the units are chosen at the end of the game, rather than the start, you don’t have to plan around it, and can decide afterwards which of your mauled-but-successful units get to cash in their suffering for XP. It’s thematic, it’s fluffy, and it’s an easy way to farm XP across a few units. 

Reclaim the Relic is exactly what it says on the tin – one of your characters can go out to perform an Activity for 3XP and a free (that is, 0 RP) relic from the codex. Very useful, but also probably the least interesting of the agendas here. Also not the easy lay-up it sounds like, as your opponent gets to place the objective marker, anywhere outside their deployment zone, so your game plan is probably going to revolve around digging up the relic they buried right in front of their massed guns.

Sisters of Battle Seraphim

Sisters of Battle Seraphim. Credit: Corrode

Requisitions

Saintly Benedictions is how you’ll get access to Blessings of the Faithful in your Crusade roster. You’ll have to get your Canoness or Palatine to Battle-Hardened, but then for 1RP you can give it the Blessing of your choosing. As with the other similar upgrades, it’ll increase the unit’s Power Level, so make sure you’ve got enough Supply Limit before choosing this.

Devout Warrior is for when your Saint Potentia gets martyred, and lets you choose another character to become a Saint Potentia.

Having trouble getting your Saint Potentia past one of her trials? Holy Pilgrimage is here to help. When your Saint Potentia gains a rank, you can dump 1-3 RP to give her that many Saint points, speeding up the process of her ascension to Living Sainthood and eventual Dead Sainthood. This is probably where the majority of your RP will go, as the remainder of your requisitions have some precondition to using them. If you’re capped out and don’t know what to do with the points, dumping them here will almost never be a bad idea.

Greg: I think the restrictions on when this can be used are pretty limiting, and your best bet is to load up on Benedictions, but if you have Saint leveling up and some RP in the bank, throwing 3 RP at this isn’t a bad bet. I do agree that it’s going to soak a large percentage of your RP, but it’s situational.

The Penitent Path is an extremely flavorful option here, letting you choose to change a squad of Battle Sisters, Dominions, or Retributors into Repentia if they suffer a Devastating Blow or get the Disgraced, Mark of Shame, or Battle-Weary battle scars. They’ll keep their XP, Battle Honours, and Battle Scars, and gain a Crusade Point. In addition, using the Desperate for Redemption stratagem to fight on death drops to 0CP for the squad, making them even more dangerous for your opponent and giving them that many more opportunities to pick up Redemption Points from the Atonement in Battle agenda.

Being made into a Sister Repentia is an opportunity for Glorious Redemption, if you can seize it. This requisition lets a Repentia unit with 3 or more Redemption Points return to their order as a Celestian, Celestian Sacresant, Seraphim, or Zephyrim squad with the same XP, Battle Honours, and Battle Scars as they had as a Repentia unit. They’ll gain an additional Crusade Point, and get to use the Exceptional Proficiency, Embodied Prophecy, and Deadly Descent stratagems for free. 

Greg: I love the combination of these two. You can’t go back and forth, since the inputs on the Becoming Repentia requisition don’t overlap with the outputs of the Stop Repentia-ing one, but that kind of makes sense: if you screw up badly enough to get repentia-ed twice, they probably just throw you in a Penitent engine or set you on fire instead.

Rob: The redemption arc stuff is very cool and I like the the way these interact. It’s a good alternative to having custom battle scars.

Battle Sisters Squad

Battle Traits

As we’re seeing more codexes with Crusade content, trends are starting to emerge, and some options are starting to look like the kind of boilerplate abilities that will appear over and over – this isn’t bad, it’s actually nice to have the same set of tools for every codex – but if it sounds like we’re repeating ourselves or being unenthused on some of them, it’s just because the novelty has worn off, not because the traits themselves are in any way bad.

There are four sets of traits – ADEPTA SORORITAS infantry and Paragon Warsuits share a table with the full six entries, CULT IMPERIALIS units get three to pick from, and HOSPITALLER and ADEPTUS MINISTORUM PRIEST get two each.

Given our deep appreciation with the Paragon Warsuit, we’ll start with them. The first two options here give extra miracle dice for doing things the unit would be doing anyway – denying the witch or passing morale – and are a nice little tip (or, in keeping with the fleur de lis all over the place, call it a lagniappe) for doing their dang job in the first place. The insane value picks for Nundams are Armoured with Contempt, for an improved invulnerable save, and Exemplars of the Creed, that allows the unit to double-dip on Sacred Rites. The other two are variants on ones we’ve seen before – one that grants Zealot (re-roll hits on charges/interventions/being charged) or, if the unit has Zealot already, +1WS, and another that gives +1 A/Ld/W to a unit sergeant. All of them are very good on Nundams. I’m sure regular infantry would benefit as well.

Hospitaller units get an aura, Last Rites, to let MINISTORUM units (so uh, most of them, but notably also Paragon Warsuits) auto-pass morale checks on a 1-3, and the increasingly solid utility pick of auto-passing one Out of Action test after a game.

Priests can choose between two buffs to their hymns, which makes them better at buffing your Paragon Warsuits. They are allowed to become smarter (knowing an extra hymn) or louder (getting a +1 to the ones they already know).

The Cult Imperialis traits are centered around binding units – broadly speaking, these are the Imperial Weirdos – to the Adepta Sororitas more closely. The first two traits allow them to benefit from the Shield of Faith and Sacred Rites abilities of the army. If that sounds like it’s playing fast and loose with the Decree Passive that limits the Ecclesiarchy from going hog wild and was put in place after the last time they went hog wild, you can pray to the Emperor that you get the third choice, which upgrades your Zealot ability to an always-on re-roll for hits. None of these really affect Nundams, though.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Crusade Relics

Sisters get a bumper crop of 7 relics. As usual, they’re broken up into levels that unlock based on rank and XP. They’re all locked to Ministorum characters, which is to say every character in the codex.

Artificer Relics

There are three here, and they all rule. The Praesidium Rosarius seems like the most outwardly useful to slam on a new character, giving them a 4+ invulnerable save. Even a Cannoness or Palatine, who already have the 4++, will benefit from being granted a 4+ against Mortal Wounds. Between this and the built-in 6+ Deny the Witch, you can stand in the open and dare people to smite you. 

Then we have the Tears of the Emperor, a grenade that does d3 Mortal Wounds. It might be more accurate to say that the tears are grenades, plural, as the relic doesn’t seem to be limited-use. Finally, the Phial of Dolan, a bottle full of something incredibly powerful and, highly concerningly, not described. Yes, it gives you +1 S/A/Ld, but without knowing what’s in there, we cannot recommend chugging this.

Antiquity Relics

There are two of these, the Mace of Valaan (a Dogmata-specific mace that basically turns their default weapon into a goddamn Thunder Hammer), and the Icon of Sanctity, which apparently anyone can take. It’s not a bad Icon, as Icons go, giving the user two Auras that work on both CORE and also CHARACTERS, which means they benefit from it themselves: -2” to being charged, and +3” to pile-in/consolidation. Neither aura is amazing, but they’re still pretty good, and considering that your other option at this level is locked to one specific character, this will show up quite a bit more often.

Legendary Relics

The Rod of Grace is fun. It essentially works in two different ways based on who has it. In the first case, if they aren’t a PRIEST, they become one, with the usual rules – War Hymn and one other, effective on a 3+. If they’re already a Priest (specifically a Dialogus or Dogmata), they know every hymn in the book. Of all the Chaplain-like characters we’ve seen in the game, having one that just straight up knows every possible type of inspirational screaming is a new ability, and it owns.

The other one is a sword.

Wait, no, come back, it’s still cool! It’s S+3, AP-3, damage 3, and automatically hits when pointed at a character. It’s the Sword of Admonition, and according to the fluff is the sword that beheaded Goge Vandire.

Rob: Ok that rules.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Battle Scars

There aren’t any battle scars. Seems like an odd choice, considering all the different ways that the ecclesiarchy know about how to get hurt.

Beanith: Unless you count having the Eurythmics “Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves” stuck in your head playing on repeat whilst writing this article?

 

Weapon Upgrades

There are also not any of these.

Beanith: Standin’ on their own two feet

 

The Path to Sainthood

Order of Barry

The Sisters of Barry

Rob: Like each of the Codexes before it, Codex: Adepta Sororitas introduces its own long-running narrative element for Sisters armies, laying out a path for Adepta Sororitas characters to become living saints. When you create your Crusade force you can pick any non-named ADEPTA SORORITAS character who has the potential to become a living saint. They gain the SAINT POTENTIA keyword and from then on they track Saint points and Martyr points in addition to xp and kill tallies. It’s a lot but it’s worth it – read on.

Greg: I previously thought that FALLEN POINTS were the most ridiculously-named thing in Crusade, but I think SAINT POINTS might have dethroned them.

Also worth noting here: you can only have one Potentia at a time, and unless you add them at Order of Battle creation, when it’s free, you have to use the Devout Warrior requisition, which costs 1RP. 

Saint Points

Your Saint Potentia can undertake trials to gain Saint Points. There are five trials – Faith, Suffering, Purity, Righteousness, and Valor – and each one gives you different ways to earn Saint Points. Earn 10 or more and you complete the Trial and that unit gains a reward. Then you can choose to put them through a new trial (you can also give up your points and abandon a trial if you’re a coward). You can’t have more than five of these rewards and you can’t double up. If you do get all five, congratulations – you become a LIVING SAINT. 

The Rewards are pretty dope, ranging from giving you extra miracle dice each round (Trial of Faith) to a once-per-game “fight twice” (Trial of Righteousness). It’s a cool story mechanic for telling the tale of one Sister’s ascension. Not all will pass the trials however.

Martyr Points

Each time your Saint Potentia or Living Saint dies and fails their out of action test, you get 1 Martyr point and you have to take a Martyrdom test: Roll a D6 and add its Martyr points. Roll higher than your Leadership, you “pass” and your Character becomes a Martyr – they’re just full-on dead and are removed from your Order of Battle. The good news is that their death was not in vain – they become a powerful signal for your cause and every other unit in your Crusade army that battle gains XP equal to the number of Saintly Rewards that your Saint Potentia/Living Saint had collected.

Greg: I absolutely love that the “passing” outcome of the martyrdom roll is the one where you die. 

Types of Saints, ranked:

3. Potential

2. Living

1. Regular (dead)

Becoming a Living Saint is pretty cool, and it hurts that once you’ve paid the cost to be the boss you just die and can’t do saint stuff with your friends anymore, but this is also extremely the most Adepta Sororitas Thing you can possibly do. The rewards aren’t bad either – the Trial of Suffering asks only that your potentiate get owned repeatedly, and in exchange their battle scars disappear and they regenerate d3 wounds every battle round. There’s no speed-running these: you can only progress on one of the five tracks at a time, and even with aggressive play they’ll each take a couple of games to finish out. It’s possible to burn RP for Saint Points (see Requisitions, above), but only being allowed to do this when they gain a rank, and at a 1:1 exchange rate, makes this more suited to pushing them over the edge for that last point than something you want to plan around.

 

Final Thoughts

Greg: This owns. A lot of the space is devoted to the Living Saint thing, which leaves it a bit thin on other aspects – that this codex, the one about the people who love suffering, doesn’t have custom Battle Scars, is baffling – but that one mechanic is so cool that I have a hard time not getting excited about it. Absolutely love that there are competing requisitions that can toggle a unit back and forth between Repentia and regular Sisters. Huge fan of penitence as a concept, one of my favorite things to do is penance, and it’s in huge supply here.

Rob: I’m a big fan of the Saint rules. They give you a very cool narrative through line for your army, doing a continual treadmill of trying to create living saints (and presumably failing over and over). It’s a really neat mechanic that gives you some cool bonuses and has actual stakes for dying in a way that they haven’t satisfactorily done yet in most of the Crusade books. I do wish Sisters had some unique Battle Scars but it feels like they get most of the way there with the repentia concept and the Requisitions that you can take to represent your sisters redeeming themselves in battle. Overall it’s a cool book with some great narrative elements and I’m looking forward to doing a Crusade force with them when I finally start painting my sisters models.

Beanith: And ringin’ on their own bells, we say… Sorry, got lost there for a second. This is another fantastic set of Crusade rules and I love the interplay between Sainthood and Martyrdom. I can’t wait to see what they come out with next.

If you have any questions or feedback, drop us a note in the comments below or email us at contact@goonhammer.com.

 

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