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Welcome, dear reader, to part two of our review of the upcoming Codex: Adeptus Mechanicus. Today we’re reviewing the new Crusade rules for Admech, talking about what their campaigns look like, the cool bonuses they get, and how they can assemble a host of zany contraptions to use to stymie and obliterate the enemies of the Omnissiah.
As expected from past codex reviews, we have four new Agendas on offer for the Adeptus Mechanicus. There are two that will assist you in discovering more Archeotech Treasures (more on them in a few) and the other two give you the opportunity to gain additional XP for either your Skitarii or their robot friends.
Tech Scavengers will let you select your opponent’s most powerful Vehicle and slap a juicy three XP bounty on it for anyone in your Adeptus Mechanicus force to claim should they succeed in destroying it. Once the Vehicle is gone, a marker is left behind and you can now try and perform the Tech Scavenge (Action) to gain an archeotech part… assuming you can survive until your next Command Phase. This is a pretty solid choice that will help you get some quick XP for your key tank-destroyers so they can hit the ground running.
Break the Seals is for the rare Adeptus Mechanicus Character that wants to leave the safety of their deployment zone and sally forth to a randomly determined objective marker (that isn’t in your deployment zone) and perform the Search the Vault (Action) for one XP. On a 5+ you score a random archeotech part, and another XP. Beanith: I’m iffy on this one. On one hand it’s repeatable until you succeed at rolling the 5+ so hurrah XP farm! But on the other hand you have a character doing nothing each turn with all their fun aura abilities turned off. And to top that off that poor hand, there’s a very real chance that objective is in the enemy’s deployment zone too. Greg: Archaeotech parts, as we’ll see, are very useful, and anything that lets you get more of them is worth looking at. The random objective (I can certainly see certain matchups and objective layouts where it becomes borderline impossible to actually complete) makes this less than an auto-take, but the secret bonus of this one is that if you fail to wrench the part free, you can use it as a decent little XP farm, which takes the edge off. Condit: I’m actually a huge fan of the fact that this exists, as I think the Tech-Priest Battle Traits are some of the coolest in all of Crusade, and this is the most reliable way to try to pick up another 2-3 XP on a Tech-Priest who’s close to levelling up. You won’t take this every game, but if your Dominus is on the cusp of picking up another Battle Honour, it’s worth considering.
Omnissiah’s Will. Beanith: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Greg: Pick a Canticle, and if you destroy 3 units while it’s active, every model that either a) destroyed a unit, or b) is a tech-priest, gains 1 XP. This doesn’t seem impressive at first, and in my lust for Parts, I still don’t think it’s as good as Break the Seals or Tech Scavengers, but if you run a lot of tech-priests it could be a nice way to spread some XP around to all of them. Being able to choose your target Canticle after deployment, and to choose which turn it goes off, makes this one pretty easy to score: just save that Canticle for the decisive turn, when a bunch of enemy units have been whittled down already. This agenda, and the next, seem tuned more for wider XP gains, rather than being able to go deep power-leveling one unit. That’s not bad, but it means you’ll probably be a couple of games in before anyone gains any ranks, and then see a few level up at the same time.
Cold Logic is a great Agenda for the more Skitarii-heavy armies. Depending on which Imperative is active, your Skitarii units can increase a Dominion Tally by doing certain things (eg, destroying an Enemy Unit with ranged attacks in the Protector Imperative). At the end of the game, the three Skitarii units with the highest tally gain one XP each. Beanith: This one sparks joy. Much like my go to Agenda Reaper, I can do everything wrong in game and my dice can betray me as much as they want. I’m still going to achieve these Agendas and get that tasty XP. Greg: There’s too much bookkeeping here, on top of everything else this army has to keep track of, for me to really love it, but I do like it.
These are a trip, reader. We start with some fairly bog standard requisitions, and then spiral into unfamiliar territory.
Body Donor replaces a tech-priest with a different tech-priest. Everything except Battle Scars carry over, so this is maybe just a convenient 1RP way to re-spec or let a character weasel out of their scars. Holy Orders gives a tech-priest a – wait for it – holy order, though unlike most of the similar upgrade options we’ve seen before, you don’t need to wait for them to level up and can just slap it on a fresh tech-priest when you add them to your roster.
If it seems like we rushed through those, it’s because we did. We’re trying to get to the fun part as quickly as possible. The other three requisitions have to do with archeotech, a versatile and incredibly thematic way to build your own relics. There are three of these, which allow you to acquire or disburse incredibly powerful and rude technology.
Unorthodox Acquisition costs either 3RP (select a type and roll for a random part) or a whopping 5RP (screw it, just pick the exact part you want). Expensive, but a quick way to get your grubby mecha-dendrites on some upgrades without trying your luck against the random tables. Similar to Necromunda skills, we’d recommend springing for the more expensive option here – 3RP to get a random part is a pretty steep investment to leave to chance, and as much as we’re loathe to recommend putting your entire max-sized stash into a single part, it’s worth getting exactlywhat you want.
Assemble Archaeotech (1RP) is the mechanism to bolt archaeotech onto other archaeotech until you get a new gun. This is covered in detail later, but all you need to know here is that once you have a power source and anything that isn’t a power source, buying this requisition is how you get something useful out of it.
Consecrated Upgrade is a different way to use archaeotech, and is going to lead to some absolute bullshit. When a unit gains a weapon enhancement, for 1 or 2 RP (depending on the PL of the unit), plus 1 or 2 each power sources and not-power-sources (again, depending on unit PL), everyone in the unit gets that upgrade.
Since it doesn’t matter what parts get used, just that one is a power source and the other isn’t, this is doable with just 7RP and 6XP (hitting a rank upgrade and spending the advancement on a weapon upgrade). The numbers line up so well: start with 5RP, lose your first two games but gain 1RP from each, and pick a unit of Skitarii to Mark for Greatness twice, advancing them to Blooded even if they accomplish nothing at all. Burn your archaeotech and wham, you are now two games into a Crusade and have a unit of 20 Skitarii Vanguard with Radium Carbines that get free Enriched Rounds every turn (Greg: and / Condit: or) inflict -1S and -1T on any unit that loses a model. Obviously this is pricey, at a total of 7RP and adding 4 Crusade Points to the unit, but still, being able to spread a weapon upgrade around to an entire unit is incredibly powerful. So much so that it makes the main, intended, use of archaeotech parts seem almost criminally wasteful.
Condit Disagreement Box: I’m not sure that it works this way, actually. While the intro in the codex here isn’t clear, the Crusade Rules in the Core Rules are clear that, when you roll twice on one of the tables in that book, each result you get is a separate Weapon Enhancement. Now, you might initially think that all this means is that you’ll have to spend again, upping the cost of adding both traits to your Vanguard to a total of 14RP – 12 total for the 4 pieces of archaeotech, and another 2 for the requisitions – but the last sentence is there to stop you: once you use Consecrated Upgrade on a unit, none of the models in the unit can get any more Weapon Enhancements. This means you probably get one of the two upgrades for the Alpha/Princeps only, then get to spread the rest over the remainder of the squad. Still good, but not as over-the-top as it could have been.
Greg: If Condit is correct, and given that he’s notably less dumb than I am, he probably is, it brings this Requistion back down to earth (Mars?) a bit. Having to choose between free Enriched Rounds and handing out -1S/-1T does take the edge off, but I still think Consecrated Upgrades is the standout requisition here, and probably still the best use of your Archaeotech Parts.
Beanith: Im a big fan of Consecrated Upgrade as well but I see it as more of a long term goal rather than rushing out the gate to grab right at the start. You still need to burn your Requisition to expand your forces, get Warlord traits and obtain Relics etc, and with the Hard Cap on 5 Requisition I wouldn’t be too concerned about large squads of Vanguards with Folding Stocks flooding the field early game.
We get four sets of traits here. Tech-Priests get a full suite of 6, but Skitarii Marshalls, Vehicles, and CORE/Kataphron units will have to make due with 3 each. There are your usual boilerplate options – “auto-pass Out of Action tests”, “ignore wounds on a 5+ or 6+” and “improve invulnerable saves by 1” – and then a few frustrating ones where you roll a d6 and maybe get something, or maybe get nothing.
That seems to be a trend in this book, mostly seen in the stratagems, but Skitarii Marshalls can take Secutor Class Blade Implants, which gives a sort of Hammer of Wrath. Roll a d6 after charging: 1-2 you get nothing, 3-5 deals 1 Mortal Wound, and a 6 does d3. I’m admittedly not the math guy here, but every time you charge, which on a good day might happen twice a game, you deal:
- 0 MW 33% of the time
- 1 MW 55% of the time
- 2 MW 5% of the time
- 3 MW 5% of the time
Is this really worth blowing a Battle Trait on? Given that one of the other possibilities is a 4++ invulnerable save, I’m not seeing how “1.6 extra Mortals a game if you put yourself in danger” really stacks up. There’s also the System Slave Trephination, for tech-priests, which sounds cool, but involves, you guessed it, rolling a d6. On a 4+ (at +2 if your Ld beats theirs), one gun on an enemy VEHICLE within 9” has to shoot one less shot, for one turn. There doesn’t appear to be a minimum to that, so it sure sounds like this could completely disable a single-shot weapon for a turn. These upgrades aren’t bad, but the conditions attached to them sap a lot of the excitement.
I don’t want to harp on the negatives too much, because these are, generally, pretty good. Vehicles get an auto-6 on Advance rolls, Kataphrons and Skitarii will see some great benefit from +1S or never being wounded on a 1-2, and even the fairly staid “ignore wounds” or improved invulnerable saves are all solid utility picks. It’s just those couple of “roll a dice and hope it wasn’t a waste of time” ones that rankle.
There are four relics here. At the Artificer level, we have the Multiplexed Neural Inducer, which projects an aura that lets any CORE unit within 6” Heroically Intervene, and the Kardiocore Galvanus, which is an aura of +1 to advance and charge for SKITARII CORE. The cyber-Peloton seems like an auto-take on anyone babysitting either type of Sicarian, but you could probably say the same thing about the neuro-poker as well. Presumably these are also good on other units, too.
Giving someone a Transinduction Body (Antiquity relic) is kind of a FLY-light: they ignore terrain when moving, can shoot or charge after falling back, and charge after advancing. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of dealing with Necron Wraiths, well, prepare to return the favor. This might actually offer more utility, in a quiet sort of way, than the top-tier relic.
That said, the Legendary relic certainly lives up to its billing. The Autocaeduceus of Arkan Land is no joke, as befits the name of the Imperium’s best-known tech-priest. I’m sure Cawl is real catty about not getting to lay claim to this one, but: once per battle, when a friendly <FORGE WORLD> vehicle within 6” dies, roll a dice. On a 3+, actually, no, it didn’t die. In fact, it has 6 wounds (or whatever its maximum was, if that’s less than 6) now. The fact that it will do literally nothing a third of time stings, especially since you don’t get a second shot at it, and keeps this from dethroning the bonkers Drukhari one for Most Absurd Crusade Relic, but it’s still real good y’all.
This section, in both quantity and quality, owns. We’re given seven different tables based on weapon type. The codex does helpfully define what category weapons fall into, and it’s based on both the mechanism (Arc, Radium, Cognis, Plasma, or Phosphor) and form factor (Rifle or Carbine). So an Arc Rifle can be upgraded to be either arcier or more rifled. Neat!
To balance out the bewildering array of options, each table only has two options. The language from previous books is still here, namely that INFANTRY or CAVALRY units have the option to either choose two options or roll twice on the table, re-rolling duplicates. It’s unclear why you would ever roll in that situation, since the only possible outcome is getting both.
The upgrades themselves are generally good to great. Plasma weapons becoming overcharge-proof is wonderful, and the other option of “making an extra shot when stationary” isn’t bad either. On a unit of Plasma Kataphrons, you won’t be able to get both, but it’d be hard to be upset about rolling for either. The real sauce might be Carbines getting to advance and shoot without the -1 to hit, and also fire in Engagement Range (albeit at -1). These seem to have been designed with the Consecrated Upgrade requisition in mind, as many of them seem decent on a Skitarii sergeant or tech-priest, but become outrageously desirable when they can be applied to an entire unit.
Condit: Another example of something that’s disgusting across an entire unit is the Thorium Rounds upgrade on the Radium Weapons table. This lets the unit use the Enriched Rounds stratagem for free, automatically causing wounds on a 4+ to hit. It only affects the models that have this enhancement, but being able to pour on the auto-wounding fire for 0CP is totally worth the cost of Consecrated Upgrade.
There aren’t any battle scars.
Condit: You can’t have any Battle Scars if you don’t have any flesh
Greg: Counterpoint: Necrons
Condit: Why do you think Flayed Ones collect skin
Now we get to the real meat of the Codex: AdMech Crusade rules. These are easily some of the most interesting and most complicated Crusade rules we’ve seen for any faction so far, and the book devotes a full page to explaining how they work. Remember those Archaeotech parts we mentioned in the Agendas and Requisitions? This is where you actually find out what to do with them.
Basically Archaeotech parts fall into four categories:
- Power source
- Weapon part
- Force field part
- Techno-arcana part
As you acquire parts you can assemble them into contraptions by combining a Power source with one of a Weapon, Force Field, or Techno-Arcana part. Then you lose the parts, gain a piece of archaeotech, and give it to a TECH-PRIEST, increasing their Crusade Points by 1. A Tech Priest can have up to one each type of Archaeotech (force field, weapon, techno-arcana) and they don’t count as relics.
Condit: The interesting thing is that the number of Crusade Points added to your Tech-Priest is based on the number of pieces of archaeotech in their collection, not the number they’re actually bringing with them. On the one hand, this is cool because it basically means you’ve got no reason not to take them, since you’ll be handing out CP to your opponent regardless of whether you do. On the other hand, if you decide to give the same character two different Techno-Arcana so you can flex between them from game to game, you’re paying a premium for having that flexibility. Fortunately, if you find yourself with a glut of one particular sort of archaeotech, you’re not forced to actually make anything out of them, so you’ll probably want to focus on getting one of each type of device for each Tech-Priest before you start doubling up.
The effect of each is determined by the type of part you used and the type of power source. There are 6 different power sources, each with 3 possible effects based on what kind of part they slot into, and there are 6 different parts in each category. This means that there are 36 possible combinations per part type, for a total of 108 different contraptions your tech priests can assemble for use.
What do these look like?
Take the Induction Node as an example: The Induction Node gives you three different potential bonuses:
- Weapon: Each time a model in an enemy VEHICLE unit loses 1+ wounds from an attack from this weapon roll a D6. On a 3+ pick a ranged weapon that vehicle has at random and until the start of your next Command phase that weapon makes 1 less attack each time it shoots.
- Force Field: The bearer gains an aura that gives friendly <FORGE WORLD> CORE units within 6” the ability to re-roll one hit or wound roll whenever it shoots or fights.
- Techno-Arcana: The bearer gains an aura that gives friendly <FORGE WORLD> CULT MECHANICUS units within 6” the ability to Advance D3+3” instead of D6”.
After you stole/unearthed/reappropriated your fancy Induction Node, you’d combine it with one other part to get a final Archeotech treasure to put on your Tech-Priest. Let’s say we picked a weapon – the Digital Cannon. That’s a Range 24” Assault 2 S6 AP-1 3 damage gun that can be shot per battle and now, thanks to the power source, whenever it damages an enemy vehicle, it’ll reduce the shots of a random weapon on that vehicle by 1 for a turn. This isn’t game-breakingly good but it’s pretty neat and gives us an annoying ranged weapon for turning off the shooting on a Drukhari Raider since dark lances are only 1 shot and there’s no minimum for the Induction Node effect.
This is a great little set of rules and allows you to build all kinds of crazy things, and for the most part they don’t seem too powerful; I likely missed something but nothing jumped out at me as “whoa how did this get past them” – all of the weapons are single-use, and the Techno-Arcana are both tied to a particular Canticle and limited to one per battle across the entire army. The Force Fields probably have the most powerful set of effects, and overall this gives AdMech players a bunch of crazy things to build toward as they assemble a bunch of wacky contraptions for their armies.
Greg: This is all incredibly on-theme for AdMech. Everything is complicated, and all the moving parts can either come together into a fully insane power-build, or just result in a temperamental pile of scrap that looks cool but derails itself before really taking off. It owns.
Rob: There’s a lot of cool stuff here. I love the archaeotech stuff, and it plays into the idea of tech priests as tinkerers, giving Adeptus Mechanicus players a lot of ways to do cool little customizations and name their contraptions accordingly. The one thing I worry about is that these are the most complicated Crusade rules we’ve seen yet, and they’re piled on what’s easily the most complicated codex we’ve seen yet. If you’re the kind of player who struggles to remember Canticles every turn already, then these rules have “ah shit I forgot about that relic/archaeotech” written all over them. It’s really cool stuff though and if you’re trying to figure out if running an AdMech Crusade force is worth it, I say “absolutely.” These are some of the more inspired Crusade rules we’ve seen, even if they could use a little streamlining.
Condit: One of the things that always sort of rubbed me the wrong way about AdMech lists was that, in a faction full of zealots devoted to replacing their various body parts with bespoke and custom parts that assist them in their specific pseudo-scientific endeavors, there was so little customization for the Tech-Priests. And while that’s probably a good thing for competitive games from a balance perspective, I was hopeful that the Crusade rules would really let players build Tech-Priests that stand out. These rules deliver on that fantasy perhaps better than any crusade supplement has to date. And while there may be a lot to track here, any true devotee of the Omnissiah would relish the opportunity to create spreadsheets and track data, right?
Beanith: That’s why you should be using Charlie B’s most fantastic Crusade Roster Condit. I think it’s great that the Admech have some more Battle Trait options to upgrade Troops as I’ve found in my Crusade games after the first few upgrades there wasn’t a lot of appealing choices. I would have loved to have seen more wackiness with the Archaeotech especially with the Weapons where they are a little more powerful but have the potential to misfire due to poor soldering job or loose wire. It’s another fantastic set of fun shenanagians to Crusade with and I’m sorely tempted to start a 5th Crusade Force full of my Admech robot children.
If you have any questions or feedback, drop us a note in the comments below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.