Continuing from last week, this week’s Hammer of Math looks at the Weapon Enhancements and Relics available to all armies in the Crusade system.
Last week we covered Battle Traits and Psychic Fortitudes, and this week we’ll focus on on the Weapon Enhancements and Relics in the Core rulebook. Where Traits and Fortitudes can apply to entire units, Enhancements and Relics are limited to one model. This makes these options much more appropriate for centerpiece units or characters.
As before many of these abilities provide a flat modifiers, so the helpful chart below can provide some useful guidance.
Weapon enhancements come in ranged and melee options, and your number of available enhancements depends on the type of unit being upgraded. TITANIC units roll a D3 and are limited to the first 3 options on each table (which are the first three options listed below), while CHARACTERS, VEHICLES, or MONSTERS, roll a D6, and if you’re any other model, you roll a D6 and a D3, re-rolling if you get doubles. So if you’re giving your upgrades to a squad leader or otherwise a rank-and-file model, they’ll get two upgrades.
Auto-loader / Heirloom: Every unmodified hit roll of 6 scores one additional hit on the target. The impact of this ability depends on the original hit roll. For a 2+ it’s a 20% improvement, 3+ is 25%, 4+ is 33%, 5+ is 50%, and 6+ is a 100% increase. This makes the increase identical to getting bonus to hit (assuming you aren’t already capped out) and less effective than a re-roll outside of a 2+ to hit.
Armour Piercing / Razor-edged: This ability improves the AP by 1, so the impact of this ability is dependent on the core stats of the weapon and the save value of the target. You can apply the chart above by subtracting 1 from the Save value of the target, and then referencing the appropriate row. For example a 3+ save is equivalent to needing a 5+ to penetrate the target, so getting a +1 AP would increase the probability by 50%. Going from a 2+ to a guaranteed penetration is a 20% delta.
High Calibre / Brutal: The third of the three bonuses available to TITANIC units, this Weapon Enhancement is arguably the least useful as it increases the Strength characteristic of the weapon by 1. Since the wound roll system is tiered based on the disparity between the attacker’s Strength and the target’s Toughness, small jumps in Strength will only have an impact if it crosses the threshold between tiers. It’s particularly ineffective when the bonus modifies an even number; going from S4 to S5 means that the only change is against T4 opponents.
Improved Sights / Finely Balanced: Applying a +1 bonus to the hit roll is generally useful, outside of situations where another bonus is present or the attacker is already capped at a probability of 2+ to hit. This bonus is not available to TITANIC units, although they can get an equivalent improvement to probability with the auto-loader / heirloom enhancement.
Master-worked / Fleshbane: If you’ve read my column for any length of time you’ve likely seen me mention driving and gatekeeping rolls, and how powerful the driving rolls are in terms of impacting the end result. This enhancements adds 1 to the Damage characteristic of the weapon, which depending on the weapon and target can either be completely irrelevant or a massive game changer. It works best against marquee threats which have a lot of wounds.
Accelerator: A flat 6″ improvement to the Range characteristic of weapons is always useful, especially since that improvement will also translate to adding range to abilities like melta or rapid fire.
Shredder: Since melee weapons have no range they get Shredder, which guarantees that an unmodified wound roll of 4+ is always successful. Ideal for units with a low Strength characteristic which might enjoy the idea of wounding a Titan.
Overall the bonuses are mostly useful, but players should exercise caution for units which would receive no benefit from an enhancement. A perfect example of this is a unit with a 2+ to hit getting finely balanced, or a volcano cannon getting high calibre. Depending on your players and campaign a re-roll mechanism may not be a bad idea, maybe in the form of using Requisition Points.
For models that get two upgrades, there are definitely some combinations that work better than others but again, this will depend on the model and what weapon they already have.
Crusade Relics are unique in the Crusade system in that there are no limits to the number of Crusade Relics that an unit can carry, and unlike all of the other Battle Honours these bonuses are not random. This provides an immensely powerful way to carefully cultivate your heroes and make them truly terrifying.
These Crusade Relics can be taken at any time as a Battle Honour by a CHARACTER unit.
Artificer Weapons: This bonus is limited to weapons which are not Relics or have been enhanced by the Weapon Enhancement Battle Honour. Every unmodified hit roll of 6 inflicts a mortal wound on the target in addition to normal damage. Assuming the target doesn’t have an ability to ignore wounds this means that at least 17% of the attacks will deal damage, and possibly more depending on the presence of re-rolls. Note that abilities which grant an extra hit on a 6 will not result in a second mortal wound; GW has ruled that an actual roll has to be made for a triggered effect to work.
Artisan Bionics: This works on everything but VEHICLE units (sorry, no Imperial Knights with custom leg pistons). The model increases their Strength characteristic by 1, and ignores all wounds on a 5+. Abilities that ignore wounds are extremely powerful, and a target value of 5+ is equivalent to increasing the number of wounds the unit has by 50%.
Conversion Field: In the 40k lore conversion fields absorb the energy of an attack and convert it into light, producing a blinding pulse that can daze nearby enemies. It’s particularly fun in Necromunda. In Crusade this translates to a 4+ invulnerable save for an INFANTRY unit, and every unmodified saving throw roll of 6 inflicts a mortal wound on the closest enemy unit within 1″.
Frenzon Injector: Another option that is not available to VEHICLE units (sorry, no crazed Imperial Knights running on space PCP), this Crusade Relic allows Advance and charge rolls to be re-rolled and adds 1 to the unit’s Attack characteristic when they charge, are charged, or perform a Heroic Intervention. The bonus is significant, improving the probability of hitting a 9″ charge from 27% to 47%.
Laurels of Victory: If the unit is included in the army list then the player receives 2 bonus Command points. If the unit is subsequently destroyed then player immediately loses 2 Command points. The heroic solution is to give this to your most impressive model so that they can forge the narrative of leading their armies to glory. The effective solution is to find the cheapest CHARACTER you can find and hide them in reserve until you’ve run out of CP.
Master-crafted Armour: This armour improves armour saving throws by 1 (not Saves, as was the original text) and allows the unit to ignore mortal wounds on a six. Notably for being the only Battle Honour that GW has applied any errata to, in the bonus from Artisan Bionics is superior.
CHARACTERS need to have reached Heroic or Legendary status before they can select these options. They also increase the Crusade points by the bearing model by 1 (in addition to the increase gained from a Battle Honour).
Archeotech Nano-med: An INFANTRY unit that is destroyed can be resurrect on a D6 roll of 2+; if successful they’re set back up as close as possible to the previous position with D3 wounds remaining. On average this translates to an extra 1.67 wounds, with the added benefit that any overkill from the killing blow is ignored. Against high damage attacks this means the equivalent extra wounds could be much higher.
Blackstone Shard Amulet: Units can pretend they’re a Culexus and never be targeted or affected by psychic powers in any way. Should the player running the campaign be sufficiently dumb as to place this on a psyker then they will not be able to manifest psychic powers nor perform psychic actions.
Dark Age Displacer Belt: I need to come up with a quantitative way to define fun, because this is without a doubt the most entertaining and awesome Crusade Relic you can get. The ability to move anywhere that’s more than 9″ away from the enemy gives you hilarious levels of mobility.
Xenotech Digital Lasers: When an option for Astartes, Digital Lasers generally suck. When an option for Crusade Relics, the xenotech variety can be absolutely hilarious. A single shot pistol with a 12″ range, they inflict D3 mortal wounds on the target if they hit. Hopefully the Genestealer Cultists book doesn’t do too much to Kelermorphs, because I really want to see one equipped with this.
The pinnacle of Crusade Relics, these items require the CHARACTER model to have Legendary status in order to get them. They add an additional 2 Crusade Points to the unit (plus the Battle Honour one), and cost the player a Requisition Point as well. Since Legendary Status only happens when you have 51 or more Experience Points units will only ever get one Legendary Crusade Relic.
Null-field Disruptor: Invulnerable saves can’t be made against attacks made with the model’s melee weapons, which frankly seems like a bit of a let down given how far you have to travel to get to this point.
Vortex Grenade: In the lore of Warhammer 40k there is no weapon more feared than the vortex grenade. These artifacts of ancient antiquity open up a hole directly into the warp, and anything nearby is immediately sucked into the Immaterium to be promptly eaten and ripped to shreds by beings of pure psychic energy. In older editions this took the form of a 3″ diameter template of pure terror which would stick around the battlefield and move in random directions. In 9th Edition it’s a bit of a gag, requiring a hit roll in order to function. If the target does happen to be hit then it suffers 3D3 mortal wounds, and every other unit within 6″ (including the bearer, since the grenade has a 6″ range) will suffer D3 mortal wounds on a 4+. Good luck.
Hopefully these last two articles have provided you with some guidance on the Battle Honour system and the benefits of the different options. While not perfect, the ability to gain XP and see your units evolve is a lot of fun. I recommend allowing players some flexibility when it comes to their Battle Honours, possibly allowing re-rolls when the result is not usable or perhaps collaborating with your opponent to select Honours which best fit the narrative.
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