Goonhammer Unhinged: An Adeptus Mechanicus Rant

Forget bringing a knife to a gun fight, Adeptus Mechanicus are bringing a wet fart to a shit storm. The shooting is bad. The melee is worse. The detachment ability outright helps your opponent in some matchups, and the faction ability is a band-aid on an active grease fire.

The index is bad and it should feel bad.

Welcome to Goonhammer Unhinged: An Adeptus Mechanicus Rant.

I want to start things off by saying that our index review was an objective, critical look at the opportunities and drawbacks of the new Adeptus Mechanicus index for Warhammer 40,000 10th edition. I pointed out some shortcomings, but I didn’t want to get stuck in the mud going over all the things that feel downright awful about this index. And there are legitimately some cool things in it, don’t get me wrong. But three cool things won’t put out the raging dumpster fire that is this index.

The Detachment is Bad

Adeptus Mechanicus First Army
Pictured: A very illegal 10th edition army. Credit: Pendulin

Oh boy, Rad-Cohort. Where do I even start with this thing?

Negative Agency

Your opponent gets to make all the decisions. This isn’t even a passive detachment ability, it’s an ability where you gift your opponent the benefit of choice. Choose the best outcome for you, please. I’ll wait. Take your time to figure out how to use my own rules against me.

Outright Helps Your Opponent

Sometimes this detachment ability will do nothing, but it can be worse than doing nothing. If you are going against Necrons, then it does nothing more than granting them a little extra maneuvering with reanimated models. If you are going against Adepta Sororitas, then they can choose for 2/3 of their army to start with a +1 to hit bonus on all their shooting. If you’re going against Dark Angels, you unlock a whole host of buffs with functionally no downside.

You don’t even have to wait for the their first turn to be at a disadvantage. Your opponent walks into the first battle round and sees you slack-jawed and bloodied, index in hand, and asks “What the hell are you doing?” while you look at them, “I’m kicking my own ass. Do you mind?”

Battle-Shock Doesn’t Matter First Turn

It turns off stratagems, I know. It shuts down some abilities, sure. But in the grand scheme of things, it’s a rounding error. If there is some crucial stratagem they plan on using during the first round, or a key unit for achieving secondary missions, then your opponent can just … choose not to Battle-shock that unit. You can’t score primary missions on the first turn, so that’s out. The Battle-shock wears off before either player’s command phase on battle round 2, so there’s no interaction there.

Some factions have abilities that trigger when their opponent is battle-shocked. Boy, it sure would be nice to have one of those. We rain down rad-bombs on the opponent and then just sort of ignore it. Maybe something like this:

Rad-Cohort – Irradiated: While an enemy unit is Battle-shocked, it is irradiated. Add 1 to the ballistic skill or weapon skill of attacks that target irradiated units. A ballistic skill or weapon skill cannot be improved to better than 3+ in this manner.

An ability like this would help shore up our terrible shooting (which we’ll also get to). The opponent is practically glowing with radiation, after all, why shouldn’t they be easier for our targeting computers to hone in on them. And we’ll get back to the “Irradiated” thing in a moment.

If a BS/WS modifier is too much, change it to a hit roll modifier. Maybe grant rerolls instead of a modifier. Or Sustained Hits. Or reducing the cost of stratagems used when shooting or fighting by 1. Or reduce their toughness, or save. Modify their hit rolls. Give Admech units a Charge Bonus (fights first) when fighting them. Literally anything.

Fallout Effects 1/4 of the Board

Fallout averages 2.6 mortal wounds over the course of a game. This doesn’t sound too bad. Two mortals and change for free? I’ll take that. Except your opponent has to stand in their own deployment zone for literally the entire game. A great ability for armies that rely on 0″ movement speed. Adeptus Mechanicus finally have an answer to the oppressive Hammerfall Bunker meta.

It’s a detachment ability that can be countered by moving 1 inch outside of the deployment zone. It’s a detachment ability that doesn’t interact with anything else in the faction. It’s a detachment ability that sometimes helps your opponent, and lets them make all the decisions on how to resolve it.

How would I fix it? I’d consider something like this:

Fallout++: At the start of the second, third, fourth and fifth battle rounds, roll one D6 for each enemy unit within your opponent’s deployment zone or within range of an objective marker. If that unit is within their own deployment zone, add 2 to the roll, otherwise if that unit is within no man’s land, add 1 to the roll. On a 5+, that unit is Irradiated until the end of the battle round. Additionally, on an unmodified roll of 5+, that unit suffers 1 mortal wound.

There’s that Irradiated status again, we’ve come full circle. Now both halves of the detachment ability work together, trigger the same status effect, tie into Battle-shock, and directly benefit the Adeptus Mechanicus player. Your opponent can’t run away from it, because they need those precious, precious objective markers. I even dialed down the mortal wounds to account for the ability affecting more of the battlefield.

Is this a good rule? Is this a bad rule? Is it even close to balanced? I don’t know, I’m not a game designer, just someone who likes playing games. And what I can tell you is that I don’t like playing with Rad-Cohort.

The detachment is bad and should feel bad.

The Shooting is Bad

Admech is a shooting army. That’s the idea, at least. Mindscrubbed zealots of the Omnissiah wielding archaic weapons from the past. Too lethal for their own good and too wrapped in half-forgotten religious sacrament to change.

Adeptus Mechanicus - Skitarii
Skitarii Rangers. Credit: Pendulin

Army-Wide 4+ Ballistic Skill

I’m bad with real guns, it’s not my thing. But if you give me a rifle and tell me to hit the broadside of a barn, I’ll probably land two shots out of every three. In other words, better than the trained military of the Adeptus Mechanicus who can only manage a coin flip unless the proper hymn is chanted and they brace themselves for an entire movement phase.

A 4+ BS is terrible in Admech, especially when we were sitting comfortably in the dumpster with a 3+ BS in 9th edition. We even had access to a one-round-per-game 2+ BS, and despite that transcendent round of shooting, Adeptus Mechanicus was still in bad shape. Clocking in with a win rate of around 40% (, Admech was still scraping the bottom of the barrel. But this new index found hitherto unseen depths of the barrel and scraped even further.

Skitarii Rangers and Vanguard: Look How They Massacred My Boy

Skitarii Vanguard
Skitarii Vanguard. Credit: Pendulin

Native AP, gone. Rapid Fire, gone. Assault, gone. Hit rolls of 4+ automatically wound, gone. Bricks of 20 models, gone. MSU of 5 models, gone. 3+ ballistic skill, gone. One round of 2+ BS, definitely gone. Boosted AP from being within half, gone. Boosted AP and range from Manipulus, gone. Wound rerolls, gone. 4+ save, gone. 5+ invulnerable, gone.

But hey, if you also get rid of [IGNORES COVER] and take an Enhanced Data-Tether instead, you’ll get a 1/3 chance of generating 1CP when you use a stratagem on them! A stratagem on one of the worst units in the faction.

How would I fix them? Try this on for size: replace the Skitarii Marshal’s Servo-skull Uplink ability (Once per turn, you can select this model’s unit for a Stratagem even if that Stratagem has already been used on another unit from your army this phase.) with something closer to Rites of Battle from a Space Marine Captain. Something like this:

Skitarii Marshal’s Hotfixed Servo-skull: Once per battle round, this model’s unit can be targeted by a Stratagem for 0CP, even if another unit from your army has already been targeted by that Stratagem this phase.

And with that one sentence change, Skitarii are back on the menu. In addition to hit reroll from the Marshal, they get the choice of +1 to wound with all ranged attacks from Lethal Dosage, -1 to be wounded in the fight phase from Baleful Halo, advance and charge from Aggressor Imperative, a 4+ invulnerable save in your opponent’s shooting phase from Bulwark Imperative, or shooting back after being shot from Vengeful Fallout. They could overwatch for free, heroically intervene for free, or autopass battle-shock from Insane Bravery.

Skitarii Marshal
Skitarii Marshal. Credit: Pendulin

They’d be able to do exactly one of these per battle round, per unit of Skitarii with a Skitarii Marshall. They paid the character tax, just let them have a really cool, dynamic ability. It gives the player a puzzle to solve – which buff is best, and when should they use it. It makes Skitarii extremely responsive to the state of the battlefield, ready to be reprogrammed for peak efficiency.

Please. Please, just give me this. And don’t limit it to a single unit of Skitarii getting this either, like how it works with Rites of Battle. We don’t have a dozen flavors of Marshal we can spam: Skitarii Marshal on Bike, Skitarii Marshal in Gravis Armour, or Skitarii Marshal in Dungarees and Tank Top. We’ve just got the one, the only, Skitarii Marshall; and we’re limited to taking three of him. Even if you take the maximum of 3 Marshals, the scope of this ability is quite limited. Marshal can only lead Skitarii Rangers and Vanguard. The upper bound of this ability is pretty easy to calculate, meaning it could be factored into points fairly easily. We want to throw money at Skitarii Marshals. The model is amazingly cool. Let them have an ability that hits the battlefield with a wow factor, and helps bring an identity to the faction.

Fear of the Psychic Phase Over, Now Fear the Movement Phase

Putting Heavy on all our weapons isn’t the same as having a 3+ BS. It’s just not. You’re forced to stand still to get that +1 to hit with Heavy and, when I think of Warhammer 40,000, I think of moving plastic models around the table while two people throw fistfuls of dice at each other. That all starts with moving models around the table. If your cunning strategy is “oh ho, you fell into my trap – you positioned all your models so that I can stand perfectly still and shoot you” then congrats on training Martin the chessbot to play Warhammer. But for the rest of us, it’s rough.

Additionally, Heavy is a hit roll modifier, not a ballistic skill modifier. Meaning it doesn’t stack with the Disintegrator or Stratoraptors native hit bonuses, as the modifier gets capped at a cumulative +1. Even if the faction ability modified BS, it would still be bad. At best we’d be back to a 3+ BS – right back to where we left 9th edition. We don’t need any more BS, the index is full to the brim with it.

Ironstriders Feel Bad

Adeptus Mechanicus - Ironstrider Ballistarii
Ironstrider Ballistarii. Credit: Pendulin

As I mentioned in The Goonhammer Review: The 10th Edition Adeptus Mechanicus Index, the Ironstrider costs $60 USD for a single 4+ hit roll each battle round. This just feels terrible. And I’m not talking about the abilities of the attack, the damage consistency, its position on the tier list, or anything like that. I’m talking about the feeling you get when you spend a week building a relatively large, expensive, fiddly model. Painting it up and being proud to show it off to your friend on the battlefield. You unpack it, set it up, take your first turn, grab one single die for its attack and have a 50% chance of it doing literally nothing.

Now I get the math. You can get +1 to hit with Heavy by standing still in Protector Imperative. You can get reroll hit rolls of 1 from Belisarius Cawl. You can reroll all wounds from Twin-Linked and you’ve got Sustained Hits 1 with the chance to double your hits. I get it. There’s a surprising amount of consistency with this one attack roll, especially when you have these buffs. But that doesn’t change the fact that without those buffs, or if (heaven forbid) you have to move the model and lose your +1 to hit bonus, then its shooting phase is basically a single coin flip. It just feels bad.

Sulphurhounds Weren’t a Problem

Serberys Raider
Serberys Raider – close enough to a Sulphurhound. Credit: Pendulin

Flamers are great. Autohitting guns are fantastic for overwatch, letting you screen out deep strike under the threat of burninating the countryside. But Sulphurhounds flamers had their range reduced from 12″ to 9″, meaning they can’t be used against deep strike. Why?

And Sulphurhounds weren’t tearing up the battlefield, dominating the meta. But let’s pretend they were. If the goal is to make them less lethal, then why drop the AP on all their attacks and lower the range of their flamers, and then give them an ability that averages 5 mortal wounds per charge? You know what is the standard way of dealing damage in Warhammer 40,000? Attacking. With weapons. Could we move some of their damage output onto those oft forgotten things called “their guns” and get our range and AP back?

Why Do Sterylizors Need To Roll For Their Movement Debuff?

Tyranid Barbgaunts
Tyranid Barbgaunts. Credit: Pendulin

Why? Tyranid Barbgaunts get an identical movement debuff on every unit they hit. Every unit, which means that if you split fire with them, then it can shut down movement for an entire army. But we have to pick one model, and then make a dice roll to see if it even happens. Why?

Okay, we’ve gotten to know each other, right? Keep this between the two of us – I’m going to level with you. I actually think it’s actually fine for a dice roll to be required for the Sterylizor’s movement debuff. Unconditional, guaranteed debuffs aren’t good for the game in my opinion. The consistency and lack of counterplay make it feel bad to play against. I’m actually mad at the Barbgaunts here. Each Barbgaunt has D6 attacks hitting on 4+ with a 24″ range, and you can take 10 in a unit. If you want something to have the movement debuff, it will have the movement debuff, and there’s nothing that can be done to stop it short of hiding models behind terrain. The problem here is Barbgaunts, not Sterylizors. I just wanted to rant about them for a moment.

Sick models though. 10/10. Can’t wait to paint more.

Servitors Are Arbitrarily Worse

Adeptus Mechanicus Servitors Kitbash
Adeptus Mechanicus Servitors Kitbash. Credit: Pendulin

Astartes Servitors would be among the best units in our index if we could take them. Native 4+ to hit, buffable to 3+ with Mindlock, then standing still with Heavy to be hitting on 2+. But no, we can’t have our Skitarii outshone by Servitors. So rather than buff the skittles, instead our Servitors hit on 6+ for no reason.

A joke unit, relegated to being forgotten and left on the shelf in Space Marines armies, would be considered top-shelf in Adeptus Mechanicus. However, when taking literally the same models in our army, they get worse for seemingly no reason. Admech shooting is so bad that it makes Servitors worse by proxy.

This isn’t even looking at Grey Knight servitors, who can deep strike and Fly. FLY! Our faction has had their wings burned off, Icarus too close to the sun. When we awoke in 10th edition, concussed and delirious, we see Grey Knight servitors cartoonishly flitting in circles around our heads. Clearing our vision, we see only the truth.

The shooting is bad and should feel bad.

The Army Rule is Bad

Okay, this is a “soft” bad. There’s nothing actively harmful about the Doctrina Imperatives, unlike the detachment ability which can be better for your opponent than for you. My issue with the army rule is the logistics of who gets it and who doesn’t.

Why Doesn’t Belisarius Cawl Gain the Admech Faction Ability?

Belisarius Cawl
Not Pictured: The Adeptus Mechanicus faction ability. Credit: Pendulin

I’ve been too busy screaming in the angry dome to read every index, but it might be that Cawl is the only named character in the game that doesn’t benefit from his own factions ability. Why? He doesn’t even really need the benefits – in my opinion he’s got a pretty decent set of abilities already. But excluding him from his own faction’s ability just feels petty.

Why Don’t Tech-Priests Natively Gain the Admech Faction Ability?

I justified this in the review by saying that the priest needs their congregation, but that’s hand-waving and justifying an entirely artificial problem. Just give them Doctrinas. What’s the downside? A couple single-model units have their miniscule damage buffed by a pittance?

Think how this would feel in other armies – where characters don’t get the faction ability unless they are leading a specific half of the faction. Imagine if Space Marine characters didn’t get Oaths of Moment unless they were leading Primaris marines. What happens with characters that can’t lead units from that half, like how Datasmiths can only lead Kastelan Robots? It would look downright silly. Roboute Guilliman would never be able to get Oaths of Moments. Would that feel correct? Would that feel intended? Because that’s how Adeptus Mechanicus feels.

If this is done for lore reasons, then just change the name of the faction ability. Call it “Children of Mars” or something, calling back to all Admech’s ancient Martian heritage, and let everyone have it. Call it “Aspect of the Machine Spirit”, “Binharic Voice”, or “Servants of the Omnissiah”. Make up a term and give the ability to everyone.

Why is it So Awkward for Electro-priests to Gain Doctrina Imperatives?

Adeptus Mechanicus - Corpuscarii Electro-Priests
Corpuscarii Electro-Priests. Credit: Pendulin

I’m not even mad that they don’t have it natively. If anyone in the faction should have different, unique rules, it should be the smoothpriests. But they don’t have those rules, just a “Faction Ability” shaped whole on their datasheet. The fact they can gain the benefits of Doctrina Imperatives, if they are led by a Tech-Priest Enginseer who is also leading a unit of Servitors, is just so, so awkward.

And to be clear. The fix isn’t to further nerf Servitors to remove this loophole. When compared to Astartes Servitors, our have already been windmill-slammed headfirst into a toilet. We don’t need to flush it afterward.

Maybe the army should go back to having two different army rules. Maybe the fix is to have a single army rule, and give the Electro-priest an ability that changes how it works to reflect their place in the lore. Maybe the fix is to make it so that more than 20 out of 29 units have their own faction’s ability. It’s not really an “army” ability when it’s not on a third of the datasheets in the army.

The Melee is Bad

This one hits hard for me, as I loved playing Ryza in 9th edition. A sneaky Ruststalker bomb assassinating a pivotal character. Vanguard pivoting on a dime from chaff clearing machines to unexpectedly powerful melee threats. But no, we don’t have any of that now.

Ruststalkers Have Rusted Away

Why do Ruststalkers hit on 4+? Why? Doctrinas don’t help you there. You can’t aim Transonic Blades better if you stand still. Why was their AP nerfed to the ground? AP-3 made these cyber ninjas scary, but we can’t have that now, can we. Why was “mortal wounds in addition” changed to “mortal wounds instead”? Why did they lose their double cover save? You can’t even pair them with a Marshal for hit rerolls.

Admech were losing more games than they were winning in 9th edition. If the goal was for the new edition to launch with an even 50% win rate across the board, why would you start by cutting the hamstrings on one of the best melee unit in the army? And those hamstrings are hydraulic pistons – they must have been hard to cut.

Kastelan Robots Were Fisted

Adeptus Mechanicus - Kastelan Robots and Cybernetica Datasmith
Kastelan Robots and Cybernetica Datasmith. Credit: Pendulin

Robots were another top pick for melee in 9th edition. They worked by virtue of hitting on 2+ and having full wound rerolls from Supervisory Radiance. Well, they kept the wound rerolls, but they now miss half their attacks. But that’s only the beginning of how low Kastelan Robots have sunk.

Kastelan Robots – Vulnerable to Anti-Infantry

Why? In what world does this make sense? You know it’s bad when Skitarii Vanguard, a butchered unit in a butchered index, leave Kastelan Robots shaking in their robo-boots. Robots, who are supposed to be unstoppable warmachines, programmed for death and destruction, laying waste to entire cities if left unattended, can be shut down by any horde-clearing gutter trash.

Kastelan Robots – Changing Protocols Only Works 58% of the Time

Why? Looking at their protocols: +2 ranged attacks, +2 melee attacks, or +1 toughness. These wouldn’t even be that notable if those buffs were just natively added to the Kastelan datasheet. Would the game really bend over and break if Robots had a native 10 toughness? But instead, not only do you have to pay the character tax of bringing a Datasmith, you also have to play Leadership Test Lottery. A 58% chance at gaining a buff that could arguably just be part of the base datasheet. And if you fail the test, good job. Your datasmith just stands there like an idiot until he gets to try again next round.

Want a bold take on how to fix this? Try this on for size:

Battle Protocols++: At the start of the first battle round, if this model is leading a Kastelan Robots unit, then that unit’s battle protocol is set to Aegis Protocol.
In your Command Phase, if this model is leading a Kastelan Robots unit, it can attempt to change that unit’s battle protocol. If it does, take a Leadership test and add 2 to the result; if that test is passed, that unit enters a protocol of your choice from those listed below. Once a unit enters a protocol, it remains in that protocol until it enters a different one.

Start them off in Aegis to give them just a touch of durability against a turn 1 alpha, and  then give a bonus to the Leadership test. Simple, and significantly more consistent, while still allowing a chance of failure. This gives the Leadership test roughly the same odds as rolling a 2+ on a D6, which seems fine for abilities like this. Trust me, the world won’t end if punchbots are more consistent.

Kastelan Robots – Can’t Be Strategically Reserved

Okay, technically they can. But because changing protocols only has a 58% chance of success, and only happens in your Command Phase. This means you need to start playing Leadership Test Lottery as soon as possible, on the first battle battle round. If you reserve your robots, then you can’t change protocols until round 3. If you do that, don’t get better than a 2/3 odds of having protocols set until the fourth battle round.

And if you decide to forgo protocols entirely, then fine. Just be happy with having 1/3 of the melee output disappear. Dashed to the wind, like a Kastelan lookin down the barrel of an anti-infantry weapon.

Kastelan Robots – The Datasmith Doesn’t Do Anything

Assuming you luck out and get a turn 1 Protocol with your Datasmith, congratultions! He’s now useless. His ranged output is 1 pistol shot, 12″ range, with an upper bound of 1 damage. He does have two swings with a power fist, which is cute I suppose. But that’s it. End of data sheet.

When I first read the index, I thought that the Kastelan Robots gained a Feel No Pain 4+ while being led with a Datasmith. “Wow” I thought, “these guys are super durable!” I said to myself, “this feels great!”

But then I realized I misread it, and instead the Robots are granting the Datasmith the 4+ FNP. A Datasmith who, as mentioned, doesn’t do anything.

Well, other than make your Robots vulnerable to Anti-infantry. He does do that.

And you might be thinking “But what if I want to change protocols each round to react to the current state of the battlefield?” See above – changing protocols only has a 58% chance of succeeding. It’s simply not consistent enough to plan on doing it every round. You have to rush to the one protocol you plan on using for the entire battle, and then pray you don’t need to change it.

Kastelan Robots – The Datasmith Does a Big Sad and Just Dies

You can’t deploy a Cybernetica Datasmith by himself. He dies from loneliness if you do. Why? What about this datasheet is so brokenly powerful that it must be accompanied by robots to maintain game balance? Is it the staggering upper bound of 1 damage it can deal in the shooting phase? The average of 0.74 damage it can do in melee against marines?

If the answer is “It’s a single-model unit that could hold a backfield objective” then … okay? Yes. Yes it is. This is a game in which holding the objectives is a goal. Should all single-model units across the entire game Do A Big Sad if you deploy them without bodyguards? That would prevent the unscrupulous behavior of *checks notes trying to win in a game.

Kastelan Robots – The Best Tactic with the Datasmith is to Self-Destruct

I touched on this in the index review. But because the Infantry keyword can do so much harm, you might find it advantageous to purposefully kill your own Datasmith via unit cohesion. Just imagine a world where I have to write the following sentence as a feature of a faction:

Position your Datasmith so that it’s only in cohesion with a single robot, and allocate all wounds to that robot. When that Robot dies, so too does the Datasmith (at the end of the turn) by virtue of being out of cohesion.
– Me, an absolute clown, in our 10th edition review of Adeptus Mechanicus


Kastelan Robots – Six Inches Of Movement

Hmm, the Datasmith has 6″ of movement and needs to keep pace with Robots moving 8″ away. How can we solve this? Maybe something like this?

I’m Hunting Robots: While this model is leading a unit, add 2″ to the Movement characteristic of this model.

Don’t want the Datasmith to have an 8″ move characteristic? That’s fair. An 8″ move on a Datasmith would honestly be a little odd. How about something a million times cooler, like this?

Neurolinked: At the start of the battle round, if this model is within 3″ of one or more friendly Kastelan Robots units, then this model is neurolinked until the end of the battle round. While a model is neurolinked, it has the following:

• Weapons equipped by this model have the [ASSAULT] ability.

• This model is eligible to declare a charge in a turn in which it Advanced.
• This model has the [LONE OPERATIVE] ability while within 3″ of one or more friendly Kastelan Robots units.

This would let the Datasmith sprint down the battlefield, pistol in hand, with a retinue of ancient war machines in tow like an absolute badass. You’d have to modified Battle Protocols to work as a “within 3 inches” type of ability, but okay. Do that. That also removes the Infantry keyword from robots. I consider this an absolute victory.

But no, instead of a cool ability like that, they just reduce the movement of Robots by 2″ and call it done.

Kastelan Robots are a huge missed opportunity in 10th edition. They’re an iconic model for the faction, big lovable Baymax 6 machines of war. And yet every rule for them, every chance they have to stand out in the faction, left them slow, vulnerable, and prone to getting unceremoniously picked off the battlefield with chaff-clearing spray-and-pray. All of this to say:

The melee is bad and it should feel bad.

The Transports Are Bad

It’s not like we’re juggling a dozen different options, we’re not drowning in transports. There are only two in the index, and both have problems.

Dreams: Crushed; a Novel by Skorpius Dunerider

Skorpius Dunerider
Skorpius Dunerider. Credit: Pendulin

When I first heard of the Firing Deck ability, I dreamt of a unit of Skitarii zipping around the battlefield in a Skorpius Dunerider, wildly firing through the openings on the side and the completely wide open top. Pew pew pew, drive-by transuranic arquebus. But no, we didn’t get that. Okay fine, we can’t have nice things. I get it.

But at least the model quite literally has an assault ramp on it. As previewed on Warhammer Community, this would imply that the Dunerider can transport move, and then units could disembark from it, shoot, and charge. This sounds pretty nice on a couple of our units, especially Sicarians. But no, we can’t have that either.

Instead the Skorpius Dunerider comes equipped with the “Dunerider” ability. It can advance, then models within it can disembark and shoot. It’s better than nothing, I suppose. But given that our Skitarii shooting doesn’t do anything, why even bother? Plus, outside of Conqueror Imperative, the Dunerider’s guns don’t have Assault, meaning it can’t shoot its own guns after it advances. So if we want to use the Dunerider ability, then we’re just trading our tank’s shooting for our infantry’s shooting. Very cool.

Achaeopter Transvector Can’t Hold Electro-priests

Why? The Dunerider can, but the Transvector can’t. Just why?

I’m half tempted to paint a Transvector with a No Priests Club sign on it. “But you let in Tech-Priest Dominus!” Well, it says no Priests. We’re allowed to have one.

The Aerial Deployment ability is a crummy knock-off a Drop Pod. The Transvector is a Deep Strike transport that can come onto the battlefield on round one. Except we can’t disembark with those unit on that round. So in practice, it shows up on the battlefield, just hovers there, and gets torn to shreds in your opponent’s shooting. It’s got a 3+ save, no invuln, no damage reduction, and a wingspan that covers half the board. Anything and everything can shoot it. And they will. And it will explode.

It, like the Dunerider above, doesn’t have a Firing Deck. Now I’m no ornithopterologist, but I’ve seen enough movies to know that hanging out the open door of a helicopter, shooting wildly below you is not only practical, but also incredibly bad ass. Think how cool this would be. A Transvector flapping down the battlefield, Skitarii clinging onto the doors and legs like a Barrel of Monkeys, wildly shooting in every direction. I love it.

But no, we can’t have that. Instead we have a helicopter whose doors are welded shut, a Drop Pod that can’t do Drop Pod things, a plane that will absolutely evaporate at first contact with the battlefield, and one that just specifically and arbitrarily excludes two units.

The transports are bad and they should feel bad.

The Durability Is Bad

I don’t even really need to say which datasheets I’m taking about. You already know them. But for posterity, let’s get this over.

Skitarii Vanguard Taking Cover
Skitarii Vanguard Taking Cover. Credit: Pendulin

Skitarii Rangers and Vanguard Don’t Deserve a 5+ Save

Imperial Guard’s entire shtick is that they shove the untrained masses into an endless meat grinder. Of course their saves are bad. Guardsmen are armed with flashlights and false hope. But why, oh why, do they have almost identical stats as Skitarii? Skitarii have replaced their weak flesh with the certainty of steel. They have armored chests and backs. Pauldrons and helmets. They even have adorable little armor plates on the back of their hands.

If you need to draw a parallel to Astra Millitarum, then it should absolutely be to Tempestus Scions. Who are currently rocking a 4+ Save, native hit rerolls, a 3+ BS, and a chance at a 2+ BS via orders. It sure would be nice if the warriors of the machine spirit held a candle to them, but no. They’re busy holding flashlights with Guardsmen.

Skitarii Really Don’t Deserve a 5+ Save

I want to stress this again, this sucks. You can’t even point at their invulnerable save in their favor anymore, because that got nerfed to a 6+. Do you know what a 6+ Invulnerable Save is on T3 1W model? It’s a flavor ability. That model is getting blown away by a stiff breeze anyway. A 6+ Invulnerable Save just means the unit is only overkilled by 3 models, instead of overkilled by 5.

Servitors are More Durable Than Skitarii, Who Don’t Deserve a 5+ Save

Servitors are more durable than Skitarii. Literal servitors. Brainscrubbed janitors who were programmed to hold meltas and squeeze the trigger. They have a superior 4+ save. Why? Why are the Omnissiah’s trained legion of soldiers demonstrably more fragile than Biff the Janitorbot?

And again, the fix here isn’t to nerf the Servitors. They don’t need that. Admech servitors have already been beaten and bruised. Left behind in the dust of all other servitors. The fix is for Skitarii to have a 4+ save.

The durability is bad and it should feel bad.

The Index Is Bad

This doesn’t feel like Adeptus Mechanicus. This feels like Guard with extra steps. This feels like Admech At Home. This feels like an imposter, Adeptus McAmungus.

Adeptus Mechanics are a faction of tactical decisions and long-term plans. Ever-faithful servants of the machine spirit, hard-wired for war, controlled by tyrants who have long given up their humanity. They should feel archaic and bleeding-edge. They should feel dynamic and responsive. They should feel like they’ve calculated all the possible outcomes from the coming conflict, and among the 14 million alternate futures, they’ve set upon just one.

This, however, doesn’t feel like that. This doesn’t feel like Adeptus Mechanicus.

This just feels bad.

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