Goonhammer Reviews: The Warhammer 40k Pariah Nexus Missions

After nearly a year marking the first twelve months of tenth edition, Games Workshop is releasing a new Missions Pack for Warhammer 40,000. Pariah Nexus marks the second season of competitive play for tenth edition, and brings with it an entirely new missions deck, plus a number of major changes to the matched play process. There’s a ton going on here, and the changes are going to have a massive impact on competitive play for the next year, shaping not just terrain and missions but also how armies are built and played. And as usual, we’ve got the full rundown of what’s in the new rules, what’s changed, and what it means for your games of Warhammer 40,000.

Thanks to Games Workshop for providing us a review copy of the Pariah missions.

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The Overview: What You Need to Know

There are six key things you need to know about these new missions:

  • Changes have been made to the play sequence. They made a bunch of changes to the game overall – there’s now a step for redeploying units and you can use the “New Orders” Stratagem more than once per game.
  • Actions are back. Actions now have formal rules associated with them, and they’re not just tied to being able to shoot.
  • New Mission Rules. Mission rules return and they’ve received a major overhaul. The biggest change? There’s no more Chilling Rain, so every mission you play will have some added effect. About half of these give a bonus to Battleline units.
  • New Primary and Secondary Missions. The Pariah Nexus deck has completely reshuffled the missions, both primary and secondary. There are some new primary missions, and almost every secondary mission has changed – some have been replaced (goodbye, Capture Enemy Outpost), while others have been renamed or tweaked.
  • Gambits are Gone. Those things no one took? Well, they’re gone now, replaced by a new Secret Missions mechanic. You still make a choice after round 3, but now you have options which can actually be scored, and all of them have real counterplay. 
  • New Deployment Maps. There are now six deployment maps. One of them, Tipping Point, is new, while Sweeping Engagement and Dawn of War have changed.

There’s a lot here, and these changes are going to change how the game is played – even small changes like how scoring is done on the Bring it Down Secondary Mission can have massive impacts on how players build armies.

The Game Sequence/Pregame

A few notable changes have been made to the game sequence and what happens when you’re setting up for a game. 


Deployment is largely the same as Leviathan, with one key change: Players still alternate deploying units, but when a player deploys a TITANIC unit, they skip their next drop. So Titanic units count as two for the purposes of alternating deployment.

Redeploying Units

There’s now a Redeploy Units step (10), done after Deployment but before Determining the First Turn. Unless otherwise stated, abilities which allow a player to redeploy certain units after armies are deployed happen in this step.

Generating Missions

The New Orders Stratagem is still around, but can be used more than once per battle. This is a big help to Tactical players, who are less likely to get stuck with two bad secondary missions per game.

Secret Missions

We’ll talk about these more in their section – these replace Gambits, and are selected after the third Battle Round.


Actions are back! We now have formal rules for actions instead of the weird pseudo-action rules we had in Leviathan. A unit cannot perform an action if:

  • It’s an AIRCRAFT unit
  • It’s Battle-shocked
  • It has OC 0
  • It is within Engagement Range of one or more enemy units (unless it’s a TITANIC CHARACTER)
  • It Advanced or Fell Back
  • It’s not Eligible to shoot this phase, including units which have already shot

Also, TITANIC CHARACTER units can still shoot after they start an action. They can’t do a second action. If a unit performing an action makes a non-Pile-in/Consolidation move or leaves the battlefield, the Action fails.

This was a much-needed addition to the rules, and closes some nasty loopholes, like units with ASSAULT weapons being able to advance and action, or units with PISTOL weapons being able to action while in Engagement Range of an enemy unit. Also OC 0 units can’t perform actions anymore, making Nurglings suddenly a whole lot worse – pour one out for my stinky little turdboys. 

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Mission Rules

There are ten mission rules and they’ve been massively overhauled from the Leviathan GT missions pack. As we mentioned above, the biggest difference is that there’s no longer Chilling Rain, i.e. a Mission Rule which does nothing – so every game you play will have an add-on effect. There is exactly one returning Mission Rule from Leviathan – Hidden Supplies is back, and before you ask, that’s the one that gives you an extra objective marker in the middle of the table.

  • Fog of War gives every unit the Benefit of Cover in the first round, and also players cannot use Core Stratagems except for New Orders. This is huge – not being able to use Smokescreen, Grenades, Fire Overwatch, or Command Re-roll on the first turn is a big deal, and knowing you’ll have cover can impact your deployment.
  • Adapt or Die lets players on Fixed Missions trade out one of their secondary cards once per battle (trading it for another fixed mission), and twice per game lets Tactical players draw an extra card when drawing a secondary mission, then shuffle one of those two cards back into their deck.
  • Inspired Leadership – As long as your WARLORD is outside of your deployment zone, then friendly units within 9” visible to it get +1 to their Battle-shock tests. This is uh, I’m not really sure Battle-shock tests needed to get easier, and it just further puts a finger in the eye of armies like Chaos Knights.
  • Smoke and Mirrors was previewed on WarCom; After players deploy, each player can place one unit on the Battlefield into Strategic Reserves (bypassing points limits), and that unit can be up to 500 points in a 2,000-point game.

In addition to those five, there are five mission rules which give benefits to BATTLELINE units:

  • Swift Action – BATTLELINE units can perform an action after Advancing or Falling Back. 
  • Stalwarts – BATTLELINE units are still eligible to shoot if they perform an Action, and can perform an Action while within Engagement Range of enemy units.
  • Rapid Escalation – Also previewed on WarCom. In the first battle round, players can set up BATTLELINE units from Strategic Reserves in the Reinforcements step of their Movement phase. They can’t be set up in the enemy Deployment Zone, and the total points value of units you can do this with can’t exceed 200 in a 2,000 point game.
  • Raise Banners – At the end of each player’s turn, if a BATTLELINE unit from their army is in range of an objective marker they control, the player scores 1 VP and they can no longer raise a banner on that marker. So this one puts an additional 5-6 Secondary VP up for grabs, depending on the mission.
  • Prepared Positions – BATTLELINE units can be targeted with Go to Ground and Heroic Intervention for 0 CP.

This is a hefty set of mission rule changes and there are a lot of possibilities. Depending on how these are applied to the mission packs, you can either end up at an event where BATTLELINE units are much more powerful, or where it just may not matter. My gut tells me that Hidden Supplies will become the new “default” mission rule for a lot of players, since having six objective markers feels a lot less offensive than buffing Battleline units or giving units free redeploys into reserves. That said, it also has a massive impact on the scoring dynamics, and increases scoring on a lot of primary missions. I can also see Fog of War seeing lots of use, as the notion of turn 1 cover has some value, but there are a number of things in this mission pack which already boost melee armies and this might be too much.

The BATTLELINE rules here are interesting; in a random environment you can’t count on any one effect coming up but if you’re playing an event where you’ll know the mission rules in advance you can plan for specific buffs. Of these Rapid Escalation and Stalwarts are probably the biggest deals but if Prepared Positions can make units like Plague Marines and Berzerkers very nasty.

Deployment Maps

Sweeping Engagement

There are now six deployment maps in the deck – three return unchanged, two – Dawn of War and Sweeping Engagement – have been changed, and one – Tipping Point – is all new. The best part about these new layouts? They all now show measurements from the table edges, rather than the middle. This is theoretically bad news if you’re one of the weirdos still playing on a 4’x6’ table, but great for everyone else.

  • Dawn of War now has deployment zones which go 12” into the battlefield, meaning that they’re now only 20” apart, as opposed to 24”. 
  • Sweeping Engagement has left its objective markers in the same place, but replaced its diagonal deployment zones with a new stepped deployment zone, which goes out 8” and 14” on the long table edge. This creates an interesting “close zone” at the middle of the table, where the corners of the two deployment zones are only 16” apart.
  • Tipping Point offers a Hammer-and-Anvil version of the same concept, with stepped deployment zones which are only 20” apart in the middle of the table. It otherwise uses the objective positioning from Crucible of Battle.

Sweeping Engagement and Tipping Point combine with Search and Destroy to give us three maps where units can be deployed much closer to each other than 24”, with Sweeping Engagement in particular putting players extremely close to the middle of the table. Depending on how often each map shows up, this can push players toward more melee-focused armies capable of pulling off much more reliable turn 1 charges. And even if you decide to deploy further back, they’ll still have that much more early movement to move into staging positions.

Tipping Point

It’s worth mentioning that both of the stepped deployments are kind of bonkers with Hidden Supplies, and we’re kind of surprised there isn’t a rule about how it works with them.

These changes are also good news for big models. Now pretty much any unit you could bring, including things like the Tesseract Vault, can fit in every deployment zone.

Primary Missions

There are nine Primary Missions in the deck, offering a mix of old, unchanged missions – Take and Hold and Supply Drop are both back in the same form – new missions, and revised or reskinned versions of older missions. Priority Targets, Sites of Power, and Vital Ground are gone entirely.

Let’s start with the original missions which have been adjusted:

Purge the Foe

  • Score 4 VP for hold one / hold more in the Command phase
  • Score 4 VP for kill one / kill more at the end of the turn/round
  • You no longer score Kill More in round one, so going second doesn’t give quite as big an advantage

Scorched Earth

  • Score 5 VP for each marker (max 10)
  • Burning an objective is an Action, and now finishes at the end of the game
  • Burning just requires control – no 1” distance requirement
  • No cap on VP for burnt objectives (can score up to 25 for burning objectives)

Going second has a lot more value here, since you can burn an objective on the final turn and score it before it burns.

The Ritual

This is the mission where you can create objective markers

  • Creating an objective is an Action and completes at the end of your turn, so you can’t Cleanse an objective you just made
  • Markers now placed exactly 12” away from one marker in No Man’s land, more than 6” from any other markers

This makes it a little easier to get your first objectives on the table, as they can be a little further to the sides of the table (though there’s still no restriction on how close they can be to a table edge). It also reduces how much you can cluster objectives up, which could previously make durable infantry bricks that could sprawl across two objectives a bit of a nightmare.

Now let’s look at the new batch of Primary Missions:

Unexploded Ordnance

This is basically Servo Skulls in a new, better format. 

  • Moving objective markers is an Action which completes at the end of your turn (no more kicking objectives twice per round)
  • When you move a marker it can’t end up in impassable terrain, on top of a model, or other objective marker. 
  • Score 2/5/8 VP for being wholly within 12”/6”/inside your opponent’s deployment zone

This corrects a major problem with Servo Skulls, in which objectives moved in both player turns, creating insane blowout wins for the player going first as they kicked objectives across the table (even worse if they could sticky them – they’d just keep kicking themselves!). This new version is much more restrained (and forces you to seriously reduce your damage output to move multiple in a turn), though it prompted the veterans in our crew to lose their minds at the idea that you’d pick up and move unexploded ordnance around the battlefield, which was pretty hilarious.

Having played a couple of test games now on Unexploded Ordnance, I can say that it’s an entirely different beast from Servo Skulls. It’s a much more infantry-intensive mission, requiring much more careful thought around how you’ll action with units, while still rewarding control as you need to control the objective to complete the action. This makes it both safer to kick an objective toward your opponent and much harder to move them back. This is likely to substantially reduce scoring on the mission, and in some cases it may just be worth just holding something where you can keep it over kicking it. No longer having objectives move each turn is also a massive improvement.

Burden of Trust

A new mission requiring you to hold objectives after controlling them.

  • Score 4 VP for each objective you control out of your deployment zone, then you pick one unit in your army on that objective (excluding aircraft) to guard that objective. 
  • At the end of the opponent’s turn, you score an extra bonus 2 VP for each non-battle-shocked unit that’s still guarding their objective marker.
  • You have to control the objective marker you’re guarding

This mission puts more of a premium on durability than most, and advantages shooting/castle armies over forces who want to sticky their objectives and move on. 2 bonus VP aren’t necessarily enough to hold back a key unit, but given you’re only scoring 4 VP for each No Man’s Land objective, defending an objective can make a huge difference.


An action-based mission.

  • The Terraform action is done on an objective marker outside your Deployment zone which you control 
  • Done in your shooting phase and finishes at the end of your opponent’s next turn or the end of the battle. 
  • Can be done by multiple units per turn. 
  • Each objective can only be terraformed once
  • Score 4 VP for each objective marker you control and an extra 2 VP for each objective marker you terraformed during the battle. So if you terraform three objectives early you’ll just keep scoring for those even if you lose them. 

It’s important to terraform early and on multiple objectives with durable units, but you’ll need to screen or protect them for a full turn. This can give the player going first a big advantage, particularly if they’re faster or able to put higher-OC units on objectives in spots which are out of line of sight.


An interesting mission in which your primary scoring is dependent on holding your home objective.

  • Each round, score 3 VP for controlling your home objective marker. 
  • If you don’t control it, you score 3 VP for each marker you control outside your deployment zone
  • if you do control it, you score 5 VP for each other marker you control. 

One of the oddest missions in the bunch, putting more of a premium on holding your home and just having more of the board. There’s no cap on this so if you have a really good turn one and snag three objectives uncontested you can walk away with 18 VP. This suggest this can be a really high-scoring mission, as most players should be able to score at least 8 per round.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Secondary Missions

There are 18 Secondary Missions in the deck, with some returning favorites, some adjusted, and some entirely new. These can be split into two categories:

Fixed Secondary Missions

There are now nine Fixed Secondary Missions in the deck – two more than we had in Leviathan, and outside of Assassination, none of them score you more VP for running Tactical missions over Fixed. That said, many are now more flexible than before, and objectives like Storm Hostile or Bring it Down can be optionally discarded if they’re unscorable, making it harder to have completely dead draws in Tactical.

Kill Secondaries

  • Assassination Destroy a character to net 4 VP on Fixed or 5 VP on Tactical. Also scores you points if your opponent has no more characters left in their army.
  • Bring it Down – One of the biggest overhauls, Bring it Down now scores each time you destroy an enemy MONSTER or VEHICLE unit (not model), and scores 2 VP, plus an additional 2 if the unit had 15+ total wounds, and another 2 if the unit had 20+ total wounds. There is no longer a turn cap on this card if you’re playing tactical, and if your opponent has no eligible targets when this secondary is drawn, you can discard it, which is another welcome change.

This basically means that Crisis Suits are no longer victory point piñatas, and it’s a big boon to Chaos Knights lists, where War Dogs now only give up 2 VP per destroyed model. This means that if you want to max out Bring it Down against them you have to score the full 20 VP.

  • Cull the Horde – Each time you destroy an enemy INFANTRY unit with a starting strength of 20+ models or 25+ total wounds, score 5 VP. Note that attached leader units are ignored for this math. This more resembles the old Ninth edition version of No Prisoners, though actually finding units which give up points for this may be difficult.

Like Bring it Down, this secondary objective isn’t capped per turn and like Bring it Down, you can get rid of this if your opponent has no valid targets.

Action Secondaries

  • Cleanse – Scores 2 VP if you cleanse (Action) one objective marker outside your deployment zone, 4 VP if you Cleanse two. Note that each unit now cleanses a single objective marker, so you can’t double up on this with one large unit.
  • Establish Locus – This is the reskinned version of Deploy Teleport Homers, giving you an action that one unit from your army can do if it’s either within your opponent’s deployment zone or 6” of the centre of the battlefield. Complete the objective and it’s worth 2 VP if you’re within 6” of the centre and 4 VP if you’re in an opponent’s deployment zone. The lower scoring for dropping a locus near the middle of the table significantly narrows the number of armies which can make use of this, so while it’s still a reliable 16-point clock if you have a repeatable up/down strategy, it’s not really an option if your plan was to repeatedly drop a homer at the middle of the table.
  • Recover Assets – One of the new Secondary Missions, Recover Assets lets two or more units from your army do an action if they’re wholly within different zones of the battlefield – your deployment zone, no man’s land, and your opponent’s deployment zone. The action finishes at the end of your opponent’s next turn or at the end of the game. Complete the action in two zones for 3 VP, or in three zones for 6 VP. Scoring 3 off this seems pretty easy, and endgame scoring means you can do this the first four rounds for 12 VP, then fire it off at the end of the game for 6 if you’re going second. While scoring for this seems easier in some respects the action is much harder than Locus and has legitimate counterplay so it just may not see use in competitive lists as a fixed option. That said, on some layouts and with some armies, 15 is pretty achievable most games with a unit in your deployment zone and one just inside No Man’s Land.

Positional/Board Control Secondaries

  • Behind Enemy Lines – At the end of your turn score 3 VP if you have one non-AIRCRAFT unit wholly within your opponent’s deployment zone and 4 VP if you have 2 or more non-AIRCRAFT units. Mercifully, you can now choose to re-shuffle this if you draw it turn 1. Also there’s no more bonus point for scoring this in Tactical mode.
  • Engage on All Fronts – At the end of your turn, score 2 VP if one or more non-AIRCRAFT units from your army are wholly within three different table quarters and more than 6” from the centre of the battlefield, or 4 VP if you have units in all four quarters (and more than 6” from the centre). This is much easier to work with than the old Engage, where you no longer have to be more than 3” into a table quarter to make it.
  • Storm Hostile Objective – Storm Hostile gives you 4 VP for controlling a marker your opponent held at the start of the turn, or 4 VP if you control one or more markers and your opponent started the turn not holding any. As a subtle change, re-shuffling this when you draw it turn one is now optional, though you can still only score it from turn 2.

Tactical Missions

The remaining tactical set are a mix of new and old options. Capture Enemy Outpost, A Tempting Target, and Investigate Signals are gone, while some others have been adjusted.

Generating Missions

If you’re playing Tactical Missions you can use the New Orders Stratagem more than once per battle. This is a big help to Tactical players, who are less likely to get stuck with bad secondary missions. A number of secondary missions also now allow a player to discard or reshuffle them if they cannot be scored.

Board Control/Positional Secondaries

  • Area Denial has been fixed, adjusted from its original, insane wording. Now you score 2 VP at the end of your turn if you have one or more non-AIRCRAFT units within 3” of the centre of the battlefield while there are no enemy units within 3”, or 5 VP if you’re within 3” and there are no enemy units within 6”. 
  • Extend Battle Lines is back, scoring you 5 VP if you control an objective in your deployment zone and one in No Man’s Land, or just 2 if you only have one unit left, and control one in No Man’s Land.
  • Secure No Man’s Land is back, scoring you 2 VP for controlling an objective marker in No Man’s Land or 5 for controlling two or more.
  • Defend Stronghold is back and unchanged. It still stinks, and it can’t be drawn on the game’s first turn.

Kill Secondaries

  • No Prisoners is back, scoring you 2 VP for each enemy unit destroyed this turn, up to 5 VP max.
  • Overwhelming Force scores you 3 VP for each enemy unit you kill that started the turn within range of an objective marker, to a max of 5 VP.
  • Marked for Death has your opponent pick three of their units on the battlefield when it’s drawn. At the end of either player’s turn if one or more of those units has been destroyed – or removed from the battlefield for any reason – you score 5 VP. 

Action Secondaries

  • Sabotage is a new Action-based secondary. In the Shooting phase one of your units outside your Deployment Zone can start this action, which finishes at the end of your opponent’s next turn or the end of the battle. Complete the action in No Man’s Land for 3 VP or in your opponent’s deployment zone for 6 VP.
  • Containment is a new Action-based secondary. In your Shooting phase, one or more units from your army can do this action while it’s wholly within 9” of a battlefield edge and outside your deployment zone (each one has to be near a different edge). This one completes immediately and you score 3 VP for each edge contained, to a max of 6 VP. Note that on some deployment maps it’s possible to still hit your own battlefield edge.

On the whole, Fixed secondaries have become better, and there are more options to choose from. While Bring it Down is no longer the slam dunk it used to be, it’s still plenty valuable if your opponent is skewing heavily into vehicles, and it’s still likely the right choice against knight armies. Establish Locus is the biggest factor here – only scoring 2 VP in the middle weakens it as a pick, meaning there’s no longer an easy path to 15 VP with it, and it may be that Recover Assets replaces it as a pick for armies which can easily drop a unit into the enemy Deployment Zone late in the game – getting 3 VP per turn with Recover Assets feels pretty easy and getting one 6-turn drop will give you 18 VP.

Wings: I’m a bit less sure that fixed is the play – I think Tactical goes up in value overall. Several of the failure case early draws are gone, and New Orders isn’t restricted to once a game. Not being able to Advance/Action also reduces the number of units that can play for some of the fixed missions, and Establish Locus only giving 2VP in the middle weakens the most common pick. I do wonder if Recover Assets ends up as a replacement in some cases – it feels very easy to do this at home and No Man’s Land (just outside your zone) for 3VP, and unlike almost every other Fixed option, you can pull this back up to max late game (though it does require heavy commitment). It’s particularly strong (maybe too strong?) with Lone Operatives, as your opponent is going to have a decent lift to stop you scoring with one fractionally outside your Deployment Zone. I think my overall take is that the armies that are best at Fixed might find a few new strategies, but the threshold for being an army that’s “good at fixed” is higher, and with Tactical a bit smoother, you might not bother a lot of the time?

Secret Missions

Gambits were terrible and now they’re gone, and in their place we have Secret Missions. Secret Missions are much more an underdog mechanic, designed to give a player a way to catch up. Here’s how they work:

  • At the end of battle round 3, starting with the player who had the second turn, if your Primary VP is less than or equal to your opponent’s, you can do a Secret Mission.
  • If you do, pick one of the Secret Mission cards and hold onto it, face-down.
  • Your VP from the Primary mission are now capped at 20.
  • At the end of the battle you reveal your Secret Mission and if you achieved it, you score the listed VP (it’s always 20).
  • This means your primary scoring for the game is now capped at 40 (and your max score 90).

There are four Secret Missions:

  • Command Insertion – Have your Warlord in range of one or more objective markers in your opponent’s deployment zone that you control.
  • Shatter Cohesion – Your opponent has no units on the battlefield, or if they do, those units are either Battle-shocked, below Half-strength, or more than 3” away from all objective markers.
  • Unbroken Wall – You control 3+ objective markers not within your deployment zone.
  • War of Attrition – One or more BATTLELINE units from your army is in your opponent’s deployment zone, and they have no Battleline units on the battlefield, or if they do, they’re all within (not wholly within) their deployment zone.

As a sharp contrast to Gambits, these feel very realistically scorable in a number of games, though the challenge will be bluffing your opponent or stopping them from realising which secret mission you are going for. Though note that if someone takes a Secret Mission, you will know they have one – they can hide which, but not that they have one to begin with!

Of these, the most scorable feels like Unbroken Wall in games where you’re going second, especially on maps running the Hidden Supplies mission rule. Stealing objectives at the end of the game can be pretty easy, though most of the time you’re in a position to hold three in No Man’s Land at the end of turn 5, you’re already in position to score 10+ VP on the final turn, so scoring 20 won’t necessarily be a big deal. Additionally, capping your primary VP at 20 before the secret mission means you’re capping your total primary at 40, so if your opponent scored 91+ you’re still not going to win.

Generally that’s kind of the issue with Secret Missions, or at least their deal – in a lot of ways they feel like a “win more” tactic, a way to pull a come-from-behind victory when you’ve managed to stay up on secondary VP but fell far behind early on primary. A Secret Mission like Shatter Cohesion requires nearly tabling your opponent, and the situations where you do that and lose aren’t super common (though they do happen). War of Attrition may be the most interesting here, just because it can be a slam dunk against armies with no BATTLELINE units, but it still requires making it into their deployment zone.

Wings: I think the subtlety here, and why I’m hotter on them than Rob, is that although going for a Secret Mission caps your Primary Mission scoring at 20VP, it doesn’t stop you scoring towards it for the rest of the game. That means that if you’re up against a heavy melee pressure/jail build that’s going to zero out your Primary or keep you to fives on turns two and three, you can lean into that – forget scoring in the first window, focus on eliminating them, then shoot for Unbroken Wall and two 10VP turns later on. I strongly agree that Unbroken Wall is by far the best here, potentially to a problematic degree – realistically, unless War of Attrition happens to be a near freebie, I’m just always assuming that the opponent is aiming for Wall.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

What Does All This Mean for Competitive Play?

There are a ton of changes here, and it’s not always obvious how they’re going to change competitive play – often very small changes can have huge impacts on how armies are built. Here are some things we think will shift as a result of these missions:

  • A greater emphasis on melee armies. With four deployment maps now offering short distances between deployment zones, the sage is set for fast melee armies to set up for easy turn 1 and 2 charges. This is one of those areas where a little goes a long way. 
  • More vehicles. It’s a good time to be a Knights, Crisis Suits, or Soulforged Warpack player. The change to Bring it Down really tamps down the amount of scoring you can do off vehicle units, particularly smaller units with fewer than 15 wounds. This is great news for Retaliation Cadre lists, but also a big boost to armies running heavy on vehicles or transports and knights lists. While I still think you take Bring it Down against a Chaos Knights list, having to kill 10 War Dogs to maximise Bring it Down instead of 7 is a big deal, and gives the knights player a lot more counterplay.
  • A shift toward fixed objectives. There’s a bit less reason to take Tactical objectives over Fixed now, particularly if you can build effectively for Fixed. That said, the kill secondaries are much harder to score now, so Fixed armies will likely continue to focus/focus even more on Behind Enemy Lines + Establish Locus (Homers). We’ll likely see top players using Fixed more often and just building for those secondary objectives, though building an army that’s good at fixed will be a little tougher.
  • Fewer dead draws in Tactical. On the other hand, if you are sticking with Tactical, there are some upsides. You can now use New Orders more than once per game, and more of the secondary missions can now be discarded if they can’t be scored, making Tactical much more forgiving. Anyone who’s ever had a three-card dead draw turn has to be excited about this change, and if Tactical becomes less luck-reliant, it might balance out the scoring changes.
  • More Battleline. This is a bit of a weird one, because it’ll depend heavily on which mission rules are going to be in use. For events where multiple rounds use mission rules which benefit battleline units, you’ll see more of them in use. That’s a boost to armies with great battleline units, such as Orks, Death Guard, Chaos Space Marines, Thousand Sons, and Chaos Knights.
  • (slightly) Less need to stay home. With Capture Enemy Outpost out of the mix, leaving your home objective behind is much safer, particularly on the 4/9 missions which don’t let you score off your home objective. While it’ll still be important to keep an opponent from using an empty deployment zone or home objective for their own scoring, you don’t have to worry nearly as much about someone drawing into a surprise 8 VP if you leave your objective undefended.
  • The Action Economy is more important. Four of the primary missions have actions associated with them, as well as five secondary missions, making actions a much bigger part of the game in Pariah Nexus. If you’re on Tactical, that can mean needing to do three to four actions in a single turn, and that can put a big strain on more elite armies. As you build your army, think about how you’ll do actions, who will do them, and what you’ll do if those units die.
  • An emphasis on cheap action units. As OC 0 units get dropped, it’ll be in favour of other cheap OC 1 action units. With more action secondaries – and primaries – than before these units are more important than before, though without Investigate Signals the need for them to have Deep Strike is less. Depending on the mission, you’ll likely want these to be Battleline units, and ideally they’ll still have good base movement (or Scouts) – because you can’t Advance and Action most of the time, so being able to flexibly reach midfield positions without Advancing is important. Warp Spiders do, of course, stay winning.
  • The Death of OC 0 units. Outside of some units like Wulfen which have other uses, we’re likely to see a sharp reduction in usage for OC 0 units like Nurglings. While they still have some utility, being unable to do actions really kills their value as a unit in Tactical missions.

Secret Missions Will See Play

Unlike Gambits, Secret Missions will see a lot more play. They’re much more reasonable in terms of what they’re asking, and because they still cap your total VP at 90, they feel less like something which can turn around a nasty blowout and more like a way to win a game where you fell behind early but ended up crushing your opponent.

Of the four Secret Missions, the most scorable feels like Unbroken Wall in games where you’re going second, especially on maps running the Hidden Supplies mission rule. Stealing objectives at the end of the game can be pretty easy, though most of the time you’re in a position to hold three in No Man’s Land at the end of turn 5, you’re already in position to score 10+ VP on the final turn, so scoring 20 won’t necessarily be a big deal. War of Attrition may be the most interesting here, just because it can be a slam dunk against armies with no BATTLELINE units, but it still requires making it into their deployment zone. But unless that one’s a near-freebie, we’re just always going to assume our opponent is aiming for Wall.

Final Thoughts

We’re generally excited for these missions – a lot of these changes are just flat-out great for the game, and some are things we’ve been hoping would happen for some time. There are some warts – we don’t love that The Ritual still exists, for example – but on the whole these fix a lot of issues we had with the Leviathan missions.

The Good

  • Tactical Missions feel much better – the ability to discard more dead draws smooths things out and ensures games are more about being able to score than drawing scorable cards, and will have fewer “feels bad” moments.
  • More variety on fixed – There are more options on fixed with a little more difficulty than before, giving players who hate the cards more ways to build while curbing the worst parts of Homers + Behind Enemy Lines. 
  • Bring it Down was scaled back – This makes more armies viable, and is a big help to Retaliation Cadre, Dread Mob, and Chaos Knights lists.
  • Priority Targets is gone – We aren’t going to miss that one.
  • Unexploded Ordnance is legitimately worth a look – it’s just much better and more thought out than Servo Skulls, and may be a mission we don’t hate any more – though it may still advantage players going first.
  • Secret Missions – We’re tentatively putting these in the “good” category – they’re a big step up from Gambits in that they’re actually playable, and we like the implementation for the most part.

The Bad

  • Supply Drop is still here – We’re not big fans of Supply Drop, which feels like it heavily advantages the player lucky enough to have the objective closest to them be the last one leaving the table. 
  • Cull the Horde – This secondary mission feels like the only dud in the new set – it feels laser-targeted at one or two armies which aren’t that common (Endless Swarm Tyranids, mostly), and even then you aren’t going to take it against a Green Tide list where actually killing four units of 20 Boyz just isn’t going to happen. I’m also not sure we needed another reason to take smaller units – actions already do this.

The Ugly

  • The new deployment maps – These seem like a poor replacement for diagonal deployments, and both the new map and the adjusted maps for Sweeping Engagement and Dawn of War put armies even closer together, giving melee armies a bigger advantage. That’s not necessarily bad on its face, but being less than 24” apart has a lot of implications, especially when you don’t have the room to back up within your deployment zone that Search & Destroy offers.
  • No Chilling Rain – We’re not sure if this is good or bad so much as going to have a major impact on the game. More than half of the Leviathan GT games recorded in Tabletop Battles were played with Chilling Rain 

Rob: There’s a lot going on here. On the whole I’m excited to try these new missions, while also dreading how they’ll actually play out. I’m not a big fan of the new deployment maps, and I’m torn on the reintroduction of Actions – I’m on the record as thinking that removing actions from the game initially was a HUGE MISTAKE and bringing them back now, while welcome, comes with a host of problems. The largest of these is that Actions are now bolted-on to the framework of the game rather than incorporated into the rules. This means that we won’t see actions referenced in Datasheets for a long time, if at all this edition. That’s a shame because I think abilities which involve actions are a great way to give utility units like Intercessors value where they might otherwise struggle.

One of the big missing pieces here is the way these will be combined in Games Workshop’s recommended mission sets. We expect to see that packet drop in the next two to three weeks, around the time this releases. How these are used will ultimately be heavily dependent on that Tournament Companion pack and the twenty or so mission presets it outlines for tournament play.

Wings: Order and balance is restored to the universe, because I get to come in and be way more positive. I think the core of the new set of missions is great, there are lots of nice refinements to Primary and Secondary scoring, and I think the new Secret Mission option is a massive improvement on Gambits that I’m excited to try. I’m also glad to see Actions coming back, though Rob makes a very valid point that not having the design space to play with elsewhere sucks.

I also like the theory of mandatory mission rules, and think they’re generally in the right sort of place impact-wise, but am not convinced they’ll land in practice. My first concern is that TOs will run screaming from special rules and just put in lots of 6-objective missions, which would be a huge mistake – 6 objectives changes a bunch of game dynamics (not least making the new Unbroken Wall Secret Mission really easy) and will skew the experience in a bad way. My second point is more subtle – I really like the various Battleline boosts, but because you’re only going to get access to each one in a single round of a tournement, there’s not enough of an incentive to build around them, so they end up somewhat incidental. Honestly I might have just separated these from the mission rules entirely, and let players pick one when building their army list for Pariah events. They’re still fun, and I like that they’re here, but more could have been done with them.

Like Rob, I also do not love the new stepped maps. I am willing to be proven wrong on them, but the risks feel way higher than the payoff, especially for Sweeping Engagement (with the honourable exception of prompting me to finally finish my Tesseract Vault). Tipping Point looks a bit more like it could play interestingly, so maybe the plan is to focus on that one, but then it’s also very similar to Crucible, which is a good map we still have! Wait and see on all this, I guess.

None of that mild griping stops me being very excited for this – it’s definitely a better set of missions than Leviathan, and adds some novelty at a point that the old options feel distinctly played out.

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