Psychic Awakening – Engine War Review, Part 1: Adeptus Mechanicus

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Today is a day to praise the Omnissiah extra hard, because if you are one of his most loyal servants you are about to get some gifts. How big an update each faction has received in their Psychic Awakening has varied considerably, and (as suggested by the name) Engine War’s boosts to the Adeptus Mechanicus are very much at the high end of that spectrum. Within this tome, the mechanical legions pick up whole new units, spicy new Forge World Canticles, custom Dogmas and a powerful set of stratagems and warlord traits to round everything out. The AdMech weren’t half bad as a faction before this book, but this really rounds them out, opening up a much greater variety of army builds and ensuring that an even greater portion of their unit list has a place in competitive lists.

As ever, we’re gonna break down the key new options in each category here, so if you’re trying to work out which of the new toys you need or how to get the most out of your existing collection, it’s time to prepare your data acquisition modules, incant the mantra of downward scrolling and read on. If you aren’t familiar with the faction and are thinking of getting into them with this release, it might also be worth having a look at our Start Competing guide for the metal men.

To address one last elephant in the room – 9th edition is coming, and as announced on Wednesday that’s going to include point changes. We aren’t going to go down a rabbit hole of speculating as to what exactly those will be for the units in this book, and can only rate them on their current numbers.

I’d also like to say a particular thank you to Pendulin – our talented team of painters does heroic work in filling out our media library at all times, but for this article he’s gone above and beyond and re-shot a bunch of his amazing AdMech. Thanks!

Canticles

Adeptus Mechanicus - Tech-Priest Enginseer

Adeptus Mechanicus – Tech-Priest Enginseer
Credit: Pendulin

First on the list are a set of Canticles for each of the seven named Forge Worlds from the AdMech codex. When it was previewed that special Canticles existed on WarCom people were a little uncertain exactly how they would work, as the Canticle system uses rolls on a d6 table to decide the effect. The most prevalent assumption was that you would be able to select them once per game rather than rolling, but it’s actually way better than that.

If your warlord is from one of the named Forge Worlds, then before the game you choose one of the six results on the canticle table to replace with the appropriate special one. It replaces that result for all purposes. That has a couple of big implications:

  • You can get rid of one of the bad results! Most armies are keen on Shroudpsalm (cover) and Benediction of the Omnissiah (re-roll shooting hits of 1), but there’s a drop off from there, and Incantation of the Iron Soul (re-roll morale) and Litany of the Electromancer are particularly weak. Replacing either for random rolls is great, and replacing the Litany especially good for Mars with Cawl as being on 2 gives you the most chance of being able to shift onto it.
  • All the normal tricks for changing or repeating results apply.
  • You can do some sneaky cross-faction stuff. This may get FAQed out, but as it stands you can run a list containing multiple forge worlds, and apply your warlord’s Canticle to units which want other abilities from another world. This can also be applied to Questor Mechanicus Knights via Knight of the Cog.

Obviously for this to be worthwhile these actually have to be good (though being better than IotIS is obviously not hard), so are they?

Yes! The big winners are Mars and Lucius, both of which are easy As.

Adeptus Mechanicus -

Adeptus Mechanicus – Credit: Pendulin

Mars gets the Panegyric Procession, giving heavy weapons +1S and ignoring the move/shoot penalty on them. That’s an exceptionally powerful effect with many keen beneficiaries. The ever-wonderful Skorpius Disintegrator (probably still the best AdMech unit) wants this on all of its guns, while autocannon Ironstrider Balistarii (big, big winners from this book) benefit massively from jumping to S8 and being able to stay mobile without penalty or CP spend. The new Stratoraptor gets a decent boost from it as well, and it’s also pretty spicy cross-applied to a Knight Crusader. This isn’t a complex effect, but it is very powerful.

Lucius is a more defensive boost, with the Luminescent Blessing. This improves the invulnerable saves of all units by 1, to a maximum of 4++. This is huge, and may actually be a big enough deal to build around in a different direction than Mars. All Skitarii tote a base 6++, so when this is active they’re all sitting at a 5++ minimum. This is probably especially good with the new Serberys Raiders, who put down lots of wounds at a cheap price. Some things take it further though – Corpuscari Electro-priests are probably worth a look after this book and already want to be Lucius, so having them at a 4++/5+++ is neat, while combining it with the Sevitor Maniple lets you make 4++ Kataphrons. You can even, if you’re feeling cheesy and the FAQ-police don’t catch it, push a unit of Kataphrons to an effective 3++ using Acquisition at Any Cost, as the wording on that is the old “plus one to saves” rather than modifying the save stat, so dodges the limit. Kastelans in Aegis Protocol get a similar payoff. Finally, Onager Dunecrawlers on a 4++ re-rolling 1s is gonna be a pain to shift. This definitely has the power to build an army around, and is also the one which probably has the most appeal to try and pull off Forge World soup interactions.

Adeptus Mechanicus - Kastelan Robots and Cybernetica Datasmith

Adeptus Mechanicus – Kastelan Robots and Cybernetica Datasmith
Credit: Pendulin

The next best is probably Stygies, whose Plea of the Veiled Hunter lets units fall back and shoot at -1 to hit. A Canticle is the perfect way to apply this sort of effect – it’s a nice army-wide emergency get out of problems button. It isn’t a build around like the first two, but is useful to have if you want to be Stygies for other reasons. A solid B+.

The others are.

  • Graia lets you overwatch on 5s and 6s. Fine, but your best overwatch solutions (cognis weapons) can already do better. Can be good in a pinch – remember you can switch this on with Gloria Mechanicus in response to your opponent declaring a charge. B
  • Ryza gives you +1AP in melee. Not really enough to make an all-in melee army worth it, and partially-in melee armies tend to lean on tricks from other FWs. C
  • Metalica gives your opponent -1 to hit within 9”. A nice flip on an ability we’ve seen before, but way, way less good than the outside version, as most things can retreat to a safe distance to do this if needed. The fact that it does (as it stands) work in melee makes this an OK defensive boost against combat armies. B-
  • Agripina lets your INFANTRY and CAVALRY shoot a gun or make an attack on death on a 5+. This ability isn’t fantastic in Admech – you’re all about trying to line up layered buffs, so impromptu out of phase shooting will underwhelm. C

Overall, while some Forge Worlds do better than others, this is a great start to the new abilities, with at least two likely to play key parts in successful strategies.

Custom Forge Worlds

If you aren’t a fan of the more mainstream Forge Worlds and want to engage in the mechanicum-chant version of prog rock, AdMech have joined a number of other factions in getting the ability to build custom Forge Worlds. These have a novel structure – while you still pick two abilities for your custom design, rather than just free-picking from a single list, you now pick one of three primary abilities, and each of these have an associated list of secondary abilities, which you pick one of.

I’m a big fan of applying a bit more curation to the structure here – it potentially allows them to push a bit more with the power level of some of the abilities without worrying about the combo with some others being overwhelming. One of these is great, and probably competitively relevant, and the other two are at least OK, which is a pretty good first attempt. I hope this lands well and we see more experimentation in this space.

Adeptus Mechanicus - Skitarii

Adeptus Mechanicus – Skitarii
Credit: Pendulin

We’ll start with the first of the two OK ones – Expansionist Forge Worlds are tuned towards playing a relatively aggressive game, with their primary ability granting you +1AP when your units charge. That’s a decent bonus, and though AdMech don’t ever really want to run a pure melee army there are things this is nice with, notably including the new cavalry units, who have the volume of attacks to go with it. The main thing holding this one back is that none of the secondary options quite follow through. There’s an option that gives Skitarii Rangers a pre-game move, which is decent but probably not broad enough, a boost to the range of rapid fire weapons, an advance and fire assault weapons option and finally a leadership modifier. None of these sync up well enough with the primary to push this over the top as an option for a skitarii heavy list, and this gets a C+ overall – it isn’t outright bad, but it never brings quite enough to make you really, really want it.

Next up, we have Rad Saturated Forge Worlds. The primary here was previewed on WarCom, making ranged attacks on your INFANTRY -1S from outside 12”. This is good for keeping your tougher soldiers alive, and combining it with the Omnissiah’s Shield secondary to give attacks against them -1AP in melee could give you some very spicy Kataphrons. Unfortunately, none of the other abilities here are fantastic, largely only affecting basic Skitarii, and the impact on Kataphrons pales in comparison to what we’re about to look at, giving a C overall.

Adeptus Mechanicus - Ironstrider Ballistarii

Adeptus Mechanicus – Ironstrider Ballistarii
Credit: Pendulin

The breakout hits are Data-Hoard Forge Worlds, which bring us not one but two seriously powerful combos. The primary is good but somewhat innocuous – vehicles get a 6+++. Nice, but not setting the world on fire by itself. However, two of the secondaries are standouts. Servo-Focused Auguries lets you re-roll hit rolls with Cognis weapons within half range. This is very powerful with Ironstriders in particular (who also like the primary), and has benefits for the Stratoraptor to. For as long as you can cross-apply the Mars Canticle, I think there could actually be serious play from a Ironstrider spam list with this, and it might be OK after.

Even that pales in comparison to Trans-Node Power Cores, which causes Arc weapons to score an additional hit on an unmodified 5 or 6. This is, to be clear, totally monstrous. Arc-rifle Kataphron Breacher spam was already a viable list, and this boosts their damage output by 66% both at range and in melee (thanks to the Arc claw). This isn’t even the only boost they get in this book, and the tools (this included) should now exist to push them up to a top tier army. It’s potentially also worth looking at with arc rifle heavy Skitarii builds, and part of why the other two custom worlds fail to land is that they both push a Skitarii list, but arc rifles in boats with this is probably just a better version. Expect to see this used in earnest, and an easy A.

Warlord Traits

Next up we have a very important addition – new warlord traits. AdMech had one of the first 8th edition codexes, and it’s very noticeable if you look back at the early books that Warlord traits and Relics seem to be the last things the rules writers properly figured out, leaving old ones looking pretty mediocre. In Engine War, AdMech get four cool new traits to choose from, representing membership in one of four holy orders. It’s worth saying just before we look at them that the faction also now has an “extra warlord trait” strat, so you can have more than one of these!

These traits are a bit different to ones we’ve seen before (which is great, as above I’m always happy to see more experimentation). Rather than a single effect, each provides three different aura abilities, which you select between at the start of your turn. Each individual effect is perhaps not as blowout powerful as you’d see from some Warlord traits, but the trade off comes in the flexibility. That’s the theory anyway – in practice at least one of these will be used but largely in a single mode. It is worth noting that one of the ways the power gets dialed back is that a lot of these auras affect models within 6” rather than units, meaning they require more careful planning to use. All of the auras are also <FORGE WORLD> locked, I’m just not going to write that out every time! A final thing to say is that several of these are a really good combo with the Lucius relic The Solar Flare, which allows the bearer to teleport 30” once per game. You can use it to place them exactly where the effect you’ve chosen has most impact, and get more benefit from the ones that have slightly contradictory effects.

Adeptus Mechanicus - Kataphron Breachers

Adeptus Mechanicus – Kataphron Breachers
Credit: Pendulin

With that out the way, let’s talk about Learnings of the Genator. The big payoff here is front and centre – while the first mode is active, Kataphrons and Servitors models within 6” get a 5+++. We’ve already seen one huge boost for the Kataphron spam tactic and this is another, adding substantial extra resilience to go with their extra killing power. It isn’t the easiest thing in the world to use because it’s model-based rather than unit based, but even managing to string a few models from each unit into the aura (which I think is the way to use this) provides them with a hefty ablative screen against incoming attacks. Feel no pains are also fantastic on multi-wound models, as they create a high chance for multi-damage incoming attacks to narrowly miss the kill and waste substantial damage. The only severe drawback on this is that if you go second it isn’t active until you take a turn – but Kataphron spam armies have the resilience to weather an initial turn of fire before this comes up just on baseline. The other effects here are a boost to melee AP, which you’ll probably turn on occasionally, and a morale effect that you probably won’t – I guess maybe 9th edition changes morale enough to make it matter, but the timing is super awkward. The second and third effects being less stellar doesn’t matter though – I expect to see this in lists, and it gets a firm B+.

Analysis of the Logos is likely to see it’s primary use as a flex pick via the stratagem against Grey Knights and Thousand Sons. The second effect here gives units within 6” a 4+++ against psychic mortal wounds. That’s an outrageously potent defence, and this will do fantastic work combined with either Kataphrons or daisy-chained Serberys Raiders to shut down the output of psychic heavy armies. Not coming online till you take a turn matters less here as well, as heavy Mortal wound output generally happens turns 2 and 3. The other two effects are somewhat better here too, having out 5+ overwatch for INFANTRY and extra AP on unmodified 6s to hit while shooting. The overwatch effect is cute but only affecting infantry holds it back, but the shooting boost is decent. For pure output you wouldn’t pick it over either of the next two, but it’s a good effect to fall back on if you’ve dealt with your opponent’s mortal wound output and want some value. Overall, this doesn’t break out from being a strict counterpick, but it’s a very good one, and gets a B.

Divinations of the Magos is powerful, but pulls weirdly in two directions. The most eye catching effect is the shooting boost – giving models within 6” an additional hit on an unmodified 6 to hit. That’s no joke on something like a Skorpius Disintegrator, especially as it’s easier to get parts of multiple vehicles into the aura to benefit, and it seems plausible that this is good enough on rate by itself to put on a TPD who is babysitting a gunline of Skorps and Dunecrawlers. The other effects are charge re-rolls and the ability to roll 2d6 and pick the highest on advances. The charge re-rolls don’t feel like they come up most of the time, but I think there’s some play from the advance boost – something gunline armies want is the ability to switch gears to grabbing objectives once the opponent has been softened up, and this can provide a marginal boost to that. Overall, I think the raw power of the shooting boost here just about gets this to a low A, but I could see it being clunky enough with the model restriction to fall back to a B+. There is also a possibility that a Lucius list could use the charge re-rolls here, activating that effect then teleporting the character up to join deep strikers. It was pointed out to me on our editors chat that in Lucius you could potentially teleport a guy up to boost a squad of 5 punchy Kastelans coming in from deep strike with +3 to their charges. There are probably better ways to spend an entire 500pts, but it is extremely funny.

Adeptus Mechanicus - Tech-Priest Manipulus

Adeptus Mechanicus – Tech-Priest Manipulus
Credit: Pendulin

Finally, we have Fabrications of the Artisan. This provides another powerful shooting effect, giving models within 6” +1AP when firing within half range. That’s a big boost when you can turn it on, and while it’s clearly aimed at more mid-board shooting, given the high range of a lot of AdMech stuff will even be active a surprising proportion of the time when used with gunline elements. You can also tip the scales in your favour by bringing a Tech Priest Manipulus, effectively giving you +3” range on the extra AP. This, as we know full well from Space Marines, is really, really good. The second effect is a bit too fringe, letting arc weapons plink MWs off vehicles (which is cute, but any vehicle taking a meaningful number of 6s to wound from Arc is probably dead anyway) but the last one is good – letting vehicles fall back and shoot. That’s a great emergency effect to go with your gunline, and I think this one just about crosses the line to another A. The fall back effect is also, oddly, not <FORGE WORLD> locked, and in fact just applies to friendly VEHICLES, so until/unless that gets FAQed this is a very relevant soup inclusion with Astra Militarum.

New Units

Not content with adding a whole bunch of new rules, Engine War also stands out as adding one of the biggest crops of entirely new datasheets of any Psychic Awakening book, adding a mighty seven new unit options (as well as finally mainlining the datasheets for the Manipulus and Skorpii). These fill out two sections of the Admech roster that were pretty badly underserved before – fast attack and flyers. Fast attack brings us two variants each of robo-dog cavalry and bird men, while three variants on the Archeopter chassis suddenly give the faction a decent breadth of choice to build an air wing.

Overall, my take on the units is that they are pleasantly restrained. Several of them are good and I think one of them crosses the line to excellent, but I won’t lie, I was expecting that at least one of these would have some nonsense ability that made me sigh deeply, and that hasn’t happened. I do think my favourite may prove over-pushed, and some of the plane builds are a bit under-tuned, but in general there’s a bunch of neat options here that are basically fine at their jobs, and will be enjoyable for people who like the (lovely) new kits to use without being oppressive. Mostly. Let’s talk about the giant metal dog in the room.

Serberys Raiders

Credit: Warhammer Community

Serberys Raiders are outrageously cheap for the amount of board control they bring to the table, to a degree that I think makes them easily the best unit in this crop and maybe just a bit much overall. On a first pass these looked fine – they’re fast (12”), get to do a pre-game scout move (which they can advance in, but cannot take them within 9” of the enemy), have alright damage output (some sniper shots at 18” range that can proc mortals, and 3A each at S4 in melee, which they can spike up considerably with Conqueror Doctrina Imperative) and have 3W each. They are still only T3 4+ 6++, but a full squad puts a lot of wounds and controls a lot of space.

The point where these turn up to being extremely interesting is once you look at their cost. These come in at 14 points per model (with a few extra points for leader weapons), so all-told a full unit of 9 comes in at only 128pts (or 133 with an enhanced data tether, which is probably worth it). That is cheap for a unit that provides high wound screening and board control, harassment shooting that does actually threaten T3 characters, and enough melee capability to at least pick up a unit of scouts in a pinch. There are also a few ways to make them tougher – the Lucius canticle and Shroudpsalm being the most notable. Finally, they get an extremely good dedicated stratagem that’s going to cause complete mayhem until people learn to deal with it, and will remain good even then. The first time they’re charged in a turn, they can spend 2CP on Tactica Obliqua, which lets them move or fall back as if it was the movement phase (though no advancing) instead of firing overwatch.

This is wild. Just on it’s baseline use case of “avoid combat” it does a very good job – unless your opponent has managed to largely surround your unit in the movement phase, or can boost their charge above 12” and rolls well, they aren’t going to catch these guys when they bug out, This makes them even better at their job of acting as a skirmishing screen, and you can follow through onto the the next level of sneakiness by using it to do things like move onto an objective during your opponent’s turn. Where it can get silly though is using the move to take your unit towards the enemy, and use the huge amount of space a full squad of these can cover to completely interfere with your opponent’s charge and/or wrap plans. They’re on 60x35mm oval bases, so a full unit of nine can comfortably create a wall upwards of 24” long (allowing for 24mm gaps between them) that non-flying units can’t move through, and they can get right up into your opponent’s face while doing so. Sure they’ll probably get pasted, but if in doing so they ensure that your opponent can’t follow through on their plans to tag into your lines, then it’s a job well done. For any army planning to make complex use of the fight phase, a charge that includes this unit becomes absurdly high risk, making them top tier screens against melee lists.

The amount of utility these give you at a bargain price is considerable, and my suspicion is that much like with Atalan Jackals out of GSC, it will turn out that the sheer volume of wounds and early pressure these give you means that it’s viable to just put lots of them on the table. One of the tricks available to the Atalan spam lists was that given the first turn against an unsuspecting opponent they could just race up the board and box the opponent into part of the table, and these do a stellar job of that thanks to the scout move, and can even have one squad live to tell the tale thanks to the strat. Given the power of AdMech shooting, that’s probably worth looking at as a strategy, which really caps these off for me. I think these are fantastic, and if I were an AdMech player I’d be looking to get some (though given the eye watering £ to point ratio, maybe wait to double check I’m right on this before going all in).

Serberys Sulphurhounds

N.B. We are working on the assumption that there’s been a mix up in the points and the heavy phosphor blaster should have the 15pt cost currently assigned to the upgrade guns on these.

The other build of the cavalry kit also has its charms – mainly the charm of flamethrower dogs. These come in a bit pricier than the Raiders, working out at 169pts for a full squad with the default loadout or 166 if you swap some of their pistols out for carbines. The defences are the same as the Raiders, and they don’t get the scout move, but the payoff is that if you manage to get into your opponent’s face they can do quite a bit more damage, packing phosphor breath on their dogs (pistol d6, S4, AP-1 ignore cover) plus the Skitarii Vanguard ability to reduce the toughness of enemies within 3”. Adding in their pistol shots as well (which they get to use even when they advance), when thrown into the face of enemy hordes they’ll do good damage, and the T modifier plus AP on all their weapons means that even Space Marines do actually need to worry about getting blasted by the firepower. Without the scout move delivery might prove a challenge, but they also get a good stratagem in Olfactorum Aggressor Imperative, which lets them auto-advance 6” and shoot as if they remained stationary. That should usually let them get off a strike if you plan carefully.

My main strike against these is that while they’ll do decent damage on a turn where they absolutely go for it, it isn’t usually game ending damage – if you can get a full squad firing into exactly a horde of 30 Boyz they might pay for themselves on the spot  but otherwise they’ll struggle to pull that off, and they’re short ranged enough that the alpha turn is the main thing they have going for them. Throwing a wedge/wall of bodies into your opponent’s face has a value of its own, obviously, but I basically prefer the cheaper, more flexible option of the Raiders if that’s my game plan. These ain’t bad, but I think they’re a bit less likely to turn out to fill a niche AdMech want. I could imagine a small unit being used as a way to tag an emergency toughness reduction onto something if you’ve taken a Rad-saturared world mind.

Pteraxii Skystalkers

The first of the two Pteraxi builds is a dakka one, with each model packing 5 S3 AP0 shots. That’s a bunch, and the extremely obvious down the line combo with this is Wrath of Mars, helping to turn that volume of firepower into a decent handful of Mortal Wounds. Sicaran Infiltrators occasionally turn up in lists aiming to do this, and a full squad of these runs you the same price for more shots and more mobility on the board, making that a tempting swap. They also get access to the Steelrain Fusilade stratagem, which lets them tag an enemy unit with -1 to hit. Finally, they have the ability to return to deep strike (similar to Swooping Hawks) and can drop EMP bombs on units they fly over, giving them another angle to throw out some mortals, and threatening to do serious damage to an enemy vehicle that strays too close. Defence-wise, they’ve got a standard Skitarii T3 4+ 6++, and pack two wounds each – so not as outrageously cost efficient as the Raiders, but not terrible for their 15PPM either.

I think there’s probably a place to try these in Mars solely thanks to the Wrath interaction, but I’m a bit less sold in other places – I worry that much like Swooping Hawks, there will be a decent number of matchups where they just don’t do anything, as S3 AP0 shots really need wound re-rolls to start threatening most things. They do provide some decently mobile objective grabbers that don’t immediately melt simply by dint of having wounds, and being able to skyleap is nice, so I don’t think these will ever be bad, just not out and out good.

Pteraxii Sterylizors

Credit: Warhammer Community

Similar to the cavalry, our second option’s most obvious distinction is that they are more expensive and have flamethrowers. Here however I like this option more, because the price jump is less substantial (from 15 to 17ppm), the flamethrowers are tasty (Assault d6, 12”, S4, AP-1, ignore cover) and these have a nasty melee trick they can pull.

Being able to dropped massed flamer shots out of deep strike is always nice – people tend to overrate just how nice, and these are expensive enough that you don’t just want to blow them straight way, but they’re a great counterpunch option against lists that want to bring hordes in from reserve. The only real annoyance there is that the leader has to take a flechette pistol instead of the flamer, but I suspect full squads of these are what you’re looking at if you want them, as the output from a 5-model unit drifts back towards being too anemic to be worth it.

Coming out of deep strike, doing some damage and then being a pain to charge is an OK place to be, but these have one more trick. First up, they have OK melee on the charge, hitting at S5 AP-1, and once they’ve in combat with enemy infantry they can spend 1CP on Deeply Sunk Talons to prevent them from falling back on a 2+. This makes these nifty little harassment units, because if your opponent isn’t careful they’ll pop up somewhere in their lines, roast one chaff unit, charge another and then make themselves unshootable, before popping out next turn to do more mischief. As these have the INFANTRY keyword, you can also drop them onto an objective and pop Acquisition at Any Cost, which can combine with Shroudpsalm for a 2+ or the Lucius canticle for a 4++, both of which provide modest staying power.

The other quick thing to say about both these and the Skystalkers is that, bizarrely, they aren’t prevented from riding in transports. That’ll probably get FAQed, but having a Flaming Bird Man Clown Car in your lines is a not inconsiderable deterrent to the first turn plans of quite a few lists, so I thought it was worth a quick mention.

With these I think it’ll basically come down to whether Raiders fully block out the need for a harassment unit in Admech. I think these are pretty decent, and vying with the Stratoraptor for second best unit in the bunch, and should be fun to play around with.

Archoepter Stratoraptor

Credit: Warhammer Community

N.B. As above, this is working on the assumption that heavy phosphor blasters are 15pts. If they are actually free, or the chassis cost goes down to compensate this becomes a lot better.

The first of our planes is the Archeopter Stratoraptor, a gunship. All three of these share quite a few features, which we’ll cover first. Movement-wise they have a souped up version of the standard flyer move, being able to pivot 90 degrees and move in a straight line as normal, but make one additional 90 degree turn at any point in the move. Given there’s no requirement to travel a minimum distance before using this, they can use this both to pull a sick zig-zag and effectively do a 180 on the spot, which since they also have a hover jet makes them pretty much the most maneuverable flyers in the game. I weep as yet another crown is taken from the Eldar codex. They also all have BS3+, though notably don’t have Power of the Machine Spirit, so need to either use Rage of the Machine or the Mars canticle to ignore heavy penalties.

On the defence, these have a sturdy (for a flyer) T7 3+, and can up their resilience substantially by spending 20pts to buy a chaff launcher, giving them the Wave Serpent rule of reducing multi-damage shots by 1 (I’m not mad, you’re mad), which combined with the standard Hard to Hit and their ability to play keep away with movement makes these very tough to kill. Taking the chaff launcher does cut you out from having a command uplink, which provides an aura of Ld9 for your units and also grants access to the Electrofilament Countermeasures stratagem, which shuts down enemy auras in a 6” bubble. There are some armies (notably Tau) who get disastrously wrecked by this stratagem, but my current feeling on it is that it is mostly a trap – in order to activate it you have to make the plane vulnerable by not taking the defensive option and flying close, which means if you’re trying to shut down offensive auras your opponent can often just pop the plane first then go back about their business. Also, they can, you know, move out of the radius. I realise that some things (e.g. litanies) can’t easily avoid this, and as a counter to key defensive auras it’s wild, but the absolute cheapest these come in at is 100pts, and I’m struggling to recommend that outside of very skewed metagames, and I would normally recommend the chaff launcher on all of these.

That’s the general stuff out the way, so on to the specifics. The Stratoraptor is nice and simple – it blasts things. To aid in this most noble mission, it packs a twin cognis lascannon, two heavy phosphor blasters and two cognis heavy stubbers, letting it apply modest threat to both infantry and heavy targets. It can also get +1 to hit ground targets via the Raptorial Strafing Fire strat. That’s all…kind of fine? It isn’t a groundbreaking volume of shots, but isn’t nothing either, and gets pretty good either as Mars or hovering in re-roll auras (or both). The damage output isn’t as hefty as the planes of some factions, but the trade off in how hard it is to kill while playing keep away, meaning it’ll get longer to rack up some kills. I do think that outside of Mars the price is probably a little too steep (at 164pts with chaff) to hit the top tiers, and I’m not certain the faction needs these, but they’re far from bad, and in Mars might tip over into good (and definitely will if they get clarified to actually cost 134pts).

Archeopter Fusilave

Next up we have a bomber. The Fusilave (rocking in at 130pts with the chaff, 110 without) is considerably less heavily armed than the Stratoraptor, with only four cognis heavy stubbers to its name, but has bombs. Each turn it can drop a bomb on one unit it moves over, rolling up to ten dice depending on the number of models and dealing a mortal on a 4+ for each. It can also use a Seismic Bomb for 1CP to halve the movement, advances and charges of one unit it flies over (which doesn’t have to be the same one as the mortals). That’s kind of it – you are 100% leaning on the bomb to get big damage here.

I’m kind of torn on this one. I would normally write it off straight away, as the problem with deploying most bombers is that they have to put themselves in harm’s way to do their thing, and a single turn with this is unlikely to be worth it. Here, however, the ability to turn mid-flight changes that calculus substantially. With up to 70” move while advancing and a mid-move pivot, if deployed carefully this will often be able to drop a bomb and bug out to relative safety on turn one, and since it can then spin effectively 180” on the spot in either direction, can do a straight line bombing run on turn 2 as well. If you can get value out of both flavours of bomb on bot turns that kind of starts to look worthwhile? If you are very, very sure that your metagame needs access to the countermeasure strat, this is probably where I’d put it as well – if you’re going to throw away a plane to switch off some auras you may as well drop some bombs on the way.

I think this works out to be a bit better than it looks, but I’m not sure if that’s good enough to justify spending the points on it – bear in mind that you can have a Dunecrawler or Skorpius for a similar or lower price and those units are extremely efficiently costed. I think you can have some fun with it, but I wouldn’t rush out to paint one for my tourney lists.

I would potentially want to flag this as one to watch for 9th. They’ve mentioned flyers leaving the battlefield and returning, and if this can drop bombs then fly away to total safety, returning later to drop more bombs, it gets much more interesting.

Archeopter Transvector

Sadly our last entrant, the unit-transporting Transvector, is a bit of a disappointment. It’s cheap (100/120pts with/without chaff) but kind of doesn’t do anything – it only carries 6 models, doesn’t have any fancy ability to drop them off after moving or anything, and pays for the capacity by only packing 12 cognis stubber shots. This, bluntly, just isn’t good – low-gunned transports need to make up their value by playing board control and bumper cars once they’ve dropped off their cargo, and this is terrible at the job thanks to being a plane. AdMech have a great cheap 10-capacity transport in the Skorpius Dunerider, and there just doesn’t seem to be any reason to run this. Probably build this kit as one of the other two.

Stratagems

Last but definitely not least – stratagems! 14 new stratagems no-less, and they’re generally really good. We’ve already talked about:

  • Olfactorum Aggressor Imperative: This is the thing that’s stopping me being quite a bit more down on Sulfurhounds, so it gets a B+
  • Steelrain Fusilade: This, on the other hand, is more the kind of effect I’d like on a unit I was already keen on, and isn’t enough to get me off Skystalkers being a little mediocre outside Mars. It’s nice to have, but not world beating, especially as the upcoming switch to capped modifiers means Stygies can’t abuse it. B
  • Deeply Sunk Talons: You do have to be a little careful with this, as Pteraxi will get pushed in if they try and lock something like Intercessors in combat, but it’s a hugely powerful harassment threat. B+
  • Raptorial Strafing Fire: Decent efficiency boost on a Stratoraptor, but merely good rather than outrageous. B+
  • Tactica Obliqua: Boy do I think this is going to be one of the most hated stratagems in the game in a few months if I’m anywhere close to right about the Raiders. A+
  • Seismic Bomb: As discussed above, the Fusilave is in a weird space value wise. I think it needs this to get anywhere close to worth it, but I’m still sufficiently uncertain on that point that I’m gonna go ahead and give this a B.
  • Electro-FIlament Countermeasures: I am gonna get my requisite controversy in here and say this only gets a B, and I’m real tempted to poke the Reddit comment ant nest by going C+. The opportunity cost of packing a plane without the chaff launcher is really high and you’re almost always sacrificing the model to do this, so unless you expect to go to a GT where you play against Tau every round, I’m not convinced.
  • Mechanicus Locum: Extra warlord traits, and I do mean traits because it isn’t capped at once per battle. Thanks to several good choices in the new set, I expect this to be used almost every battle. A
Skorpius Disintigrator

Skorpius Disintigrator
Credit: Pendulin

That leaves us with:

  • The Skorpius Disintegrator, which if it shoots all of its guns at the same target, for 1CP gets +1 to hit and ignores cover. Ah yes, the classic genre of “make one of the best units in the army better”. Has the mildest of drawbacks that it may require you to put the stubber shots into a non-ideal target, but still an easy A.
  • The Skorpius Dunerider, which can bail out passengers without rolling to see if they’re killed…for 0CP. I mean, this is a marginal effect but it’s also literally free, and Duneriders are good, so yeah, sure have another A.
Adeptus Mechanicus - Corpuscarii Electro-Priests

Adeptus Mechanicus – Corpuscarii Electro-Priests
Credit: Pendulin

  • A huge one in Electrostatic Overcharge.  For 1CP, a unit of Corpuscari Electro Priests gets AP-2 when they shoot .This is a heck of a glowup. I must admit I had to go lookup what these did because historically they’ve tended to be less popular than their Fulgurite Brothers but I now know enough to think that this is a hell of a glow-up and almost certainly enough to get them into lists, especially in Lucius who can deep strike them and boost their invuln. A
  • Ironstrider Ballistarii – for 1CP, when the unit fires they just get straight up +1 to wound against anything that isn’t Titanic. That’s incredibly good on the autocannon build, and layered up with the Mars canticle turns them into absolute monsters. Not even having to concentrate their firepower to benefit is just gravy. Between this and a few other things that work very well with them, I would anticipate a real chance of autocannon Ballistari making it into competitive lists. Who even needs lascannons when you have access to this? A.
  • A redeploy effect for Sicaran Ruststalkers. This doesn’t get there but it still isn’t terrible, and if you really want to run these guys then definitely use it, but they still don’t feel like they quite hit a niche they army wants (though they are pretty cheap these days, so it’s plausible I’m off base on this) C+
  • Sydonian Dragoons can give the enemy -1 to hit against them in combat for 1CP. This is a perfectly decent boost on a unit that’s been powerful in the past, but the glory days of the Dragoon are over, and outside of this there’s not a tonne in this book to push them back into lists. B

Overall Thoughts

Adeptus Mechanicus - Daedalosus

Adeptus Mechanicus – Daedalosus
Credit: Pendulin

This book is gold, and should leave AdMech in a fantastic place as a faction, and hopefully well set up for the transition to 9th. They already had some pretty decent builds available, and there’s a bunch of stuff I’m newly excited to see out and about. The conventional gunline builds and Kataphron spam both get absolutely turbo-charged by the Mars Canticle and the Arc Boosts/Kataphron FNP, and will naturally be the first place people look, but I think there’s a tonne of depth to play with around the Serberys Raiders (who continue to be outrageously pushed) and the big improvements to Ironstriders and Corpuscari Priests. I think the sleeper hit is the Lucius Canticle, which combined with the excellent synergy its other abilities have with some of the new stuff can potentially lead to some fantastic builds.

Obviously when I say “sleeper hit” and “potentially” I mean we’re going to try and make it happen right now. Saddle up your robot-dog-horse kids.

List – The Charge of the Dog Brigade

Now, a caveat here. I mathed out the RRP of this list and it’s uh, a lot. Like, a lot, and honestly the fact that 2K lists this expensive are a real thing is probably part of what’s driving the point increases in 9th. Buying some Raiders is cool and good (robot dog cavalry would struggle not to be), but maybe wait just a little bit before going all in on this. Think of this as an intellectual exercise. AdMech love those. Got it? Cool.

Army List - Click to Expand

Lucius Brigade

HQ – 197
Tech Priest Dominus w/eradication ray, macrostubber, Mechanicus Locum – Divinations of the Magos, Relic – The Solar Flare
Tech Priest Manipulus w/transonic cannon, Warlord – Fabrications of the Artisan
Daedalosus

Troops – 246
2x 5 Skitarii Rangers
4x 5 Skitarii Vanguard w/2 arc rifles

Elites – 400
20x Corpuscari Electro Priests
10x Fulgurite Electro Priests
4x Servitors

Fast Attack – 399
3×9 Serberys Raiders w/enhanced data tether

Heavy Support – 537
3x Skorpius Disintegrator w/belleros energy cannon
2x Onager Dunecrawler w/icarus array

Dedicated Transport – 219
3x Skorpius Dunerider

This list is all about pressure. Thanks to the Lucius canticle being able to give them a 5++ and having ignore AP-1 from the Forge World Dogma, the Serberys Raiders are a huge pain to efficiently blow off the board, and aim to seize space early and pick off enemy screens (or snipe out incautious characters). A second wave of board control follows in the form of the transports packed with arc rifle skitarii and one nasty counter-charge squad of electro priests. Finally, waiting in the wings for the big alpha strike we have the full unit of Corpuscari Priests, who can come out of a Legio Teleportarium and blast damn near anything off the board, especially as the Tech Priest Dominus can teleport up the board to grant them re-rolls and even more extra hits. They’re also a 4++/5+++ with the canticle up, and are more than capable of blasting away hordes in melee too if the situation calls for it.

Backing this all up, and sitting in the Tech Priest’s aura until he goes away are five super efficient ranged threats. Further enhanced (and protected from getting tagged) by layering Fabrications of the Artisan as well, these should prevent the opponent from being able to hang back in safety, forcing them to commit to the mid board where the rest of the army shines.

This is one of those lists that’s just a lot on the table, and all of it should be pulling its weight, threatening to just overwhelm your opponent with efficiency, value and many, many dogs.

Wrap Up

For me, the clearest sign that there’s some real power in a new book is when I’m looking longingly at the sample list I’ve cooked up and fantasising about a world where I had access to infinite money and painting time, and I’m currently feeling that harder than at any point since reviewing the Raven Guard supplement, and we all know how that turned out. I’m sure the considerable AdMech brain trust is even now dissecting the incredible array of new tools they have access to, and it’s an exciting time to be on team robot. Don’t forget to check out the other parts of our Engine War review, and if you have any comments or feedback do drop us a line at contact@goonhammer.com.

God I hope Pariah is this good.

 

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