Since my pre-order turned up this morning I wanted to do a quick take on what’s changed and what’s the exact same with the new Acastus terminal and model.
The Acastus Knight – A Brief History
The Acastus has seen some significant changes to its rules since its initial release and it says a lot about a unit that goes from costing 100 points to nearly 200 points that it is still incredibly good. In support of Titan maniples it’s an incredibly small but powerful artillery piece, and being a Knight doesn’t have to worry about weapon arcs or a reactor either. In Knight Households it can easily feel like a necessary evil, bringing some firepower to the table that other banners generally lack.
In the FAQ and later the Loyalist Legios book they also “gained” the Auxiliary Knight Banner rule, limiting the number of banners of Acastus you can take to 1 per maniple, or if you’re playing a Knight Household then to one per lance as reinforcements. They also cannot be taken within a Lance except for the Knight Seneschal’s Banner.
Not just for their damage output are they strong though. They are also surprisingly hard to kill. With a 7 pip long structural damage track these little guys stick around on the table much longer than you want them to. Needing a 10-14 to cause a Direct Hit, 15-16 for a Devastating and a 17+ to Crit means you’ll need to fire a Belicosa Volcano cannon on a Warlord and hope you roll a 5+ to one-shot them. Smaller arms like mega-bolters, gatling cannons, and even S8 laser blasters can only cause direct hits, needing S9 to start having a chance to cause devastating hits. Since knight banners don’t have armour penetration modifiers like Titans do you’ll need to continuously bombard them with high strength attacks to remove them, taking away firepower that could be going into other important targets.
Essentially, this unit is all reward with (almost) no risk.
The New Acastus
There isn’t much change on the new Asterius terminal. It’s the same damage track, same arm and missile weapons (conversion beam cannon and karacnos missile battery) and the same ion shield saves. Same stats across the board really, with the 5+ command and special rule that if put on First Fire or Split Fire orders then the Ballistic Skill is increased to 3+ making it as killy as ever. Going on Split Fire of course comes with no downsides to the Acastus since it doesn’t need to turn, without any facing or arcs, and so you can hand it the order every turn without penalty.
What is different though is the points and the tiny tiny tertiary guns on the model. Instead of autocannons or lascannons it has twin volkite culverins which are a 2 shot weapon at S4 with voidbreaker and a fairly short range. So if it somehow gets close to something it can force up to 3 shield saves with them before firing the big guns, which could be handy. The Ion Shields also reflect the reality of only having up to 2 per banner as well, which was expected but the shield saves themselves haven’t changed.
Now, the points. With no weapon options at all the cost is just baked into the model, coming in at 210 for one Acastus, and a further 190 to add a second to the same banner following the normal procedure for the initial cost being higher and the added extras being a bit cheaper. This means it’s a whopping 10 points more on both base cost and extra knight, but you get the volkites instead of the auto-hitting autocannons so it’s probably accounting for that.
These are in a really tough spot in a lot of ways. They are clearly very, very, good at what they do and when accompanying Titan Maniples can seem incredibly unnecessary to field, and potentially for your opponent can be very not-fun to play against. In Knight Household lists you probably want (need) to take at least one of either type of Acastus to have a fighting chance against Titans.
The only thing that’s not clear is if this replaces the old terminal/options. Generally speaking you always use the newest iteration of rules, but it’s also not a straight replacement of the old terminal in every way either. Expecting (hoping) for an FAQ on this soon.
Overall this is pretty much what I expected and am not surprised that there haven’t been any massive changes to the unit.