John Lennon Talks About Playing Sisters of Battle with the New Codex

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Hello, readers! I’m John Lennon, here to talk about the Adepta Sororitas. Specifically, the list I recently took to first-place finish at the Lone Star Open! I’ve been working on cracking the new Codex: Adepta Sororitas since the day it was released, and now it’s time to share the secrets of the Adeptus Ministorum with all of the Emperor’s Servants. In this article, I want to cover the army I took to Lone Star and the play style that it is built for, as well as how I believe Sisters should look and operate on the table in general with the new book. If you want to see my Sisters in action, feel free to check out the Art of War on YouTube or in the War Room, where we have video battle reports and streams.

Now, let’s start off with the list! 

My Sisters Army - click to expand

+++ Bloody Rose Patrol Detachment +++

+ No Force Org Slot +

Repentia Superior [2 PL, 40pts]: Relic: Litanies of Faith

+ HQ +

Morvenn Vahl [13 PL, 265pts]: Warlord

+ Troops +

Battle Sister Squad [3 PL, 55pts]

. 4x Battle Sister: 4x Bolt pistol, 4x Boltgun, 4x Frag & Krak grenades

. Sister Superior

. . Bolt Pistol & Boltgun

+ Elites +

Sisters Repentia [6 PL, 112pts]

. 8x Sisters Repentia: 8x Penitent Eviscerator

Sisters Repentia [6 PL, 112pts]

. 8x Sisters Repentia: 8x Penitent Eviscerator

+ Fast Attack +

Zephyrim Squad [4 PL, 90pts]

. 4x Zephyrim: 4x Bolt pistol, 4x Frag & Krak grenades, 4x Power sword

. Zephyrim Superior: Bolt pistol, Zephyrim Pennant

Zephyrim Squad [4 PL, 90pts]

. 4x Zephyrim: 4x Bolt pistol, 4x Frag & Krak grenades, 4x Power sword

. Zephyrim Superior: Bolt pistol, Zephyrim Pennant

+++ Ebon Chalice Outrider Detachment +++

+ HQ +

Celestine and Geminae Superia [10 PL, 200pts]

. 2x Geminae Superia: 2x Bolt pistol, 2x Frag & Krak grenades, 2x Power sword

+ Elites +

Celestian Sacresants [6 PL, 131pts]

. 8x Celestian Sacresants (Anointed Halberd): 8x Anointed Halberd, 8x Bolt pistol, 8x Frag & Krak grenades

. Sacresant Superior: Bolt pistol, Spear of the Faithful

Dogmata [4 PL, 65pts, -1CP]: 4. Litany of Enduring Faith, 5. Verse of Holy Piety, Relic: The Sigil Ecclesiasticus, Stratagem: Saint in the Making, Warlord Trait: Terrible Knowledge

+ Fast Attack +

Dominion Squad [4 PL, 80pts]

. Dominion Superior

. . Bolt Pistol & Boltgun

. Dominion w/ Special Weapon: Artificier-crafted storm bolter

. Dominion w/ Special Weapon: Artificier-crafted storm bolter

. Dominion w/ Special Weapon: Artificier-crafted storm bolter

. Dominion w/ Special Weapon: Artificier-crafted storm bolter

Dominion Squad [4 PL, 80pts]

. Dominion Superior

. . Bolt Pistol & Boltgun

. Dominion w/ Special Weapon: Artificier-crafted storm bolter

. Dominion w/ Special Weapon: Artificier-crafted storm bolter

. Dominion w/ Special Weapon: Artificier-crafted storm bolter

. Dominion w/ Special Weapon: Artificier-crafted storm bolter

Seraphim Squad [4 PL, 90pts]

. 2x Seraphim: 4x Bolt pistol, 2x Frag & Krak grenades

. Seraphim Superior: Bolt pistol, Bolt pistol

. Seraphim w/ Special Weapons: 2x Ministorum Hand Flamers

. Seraphim w/ Special Weapons: 2x Ministorum Hand Flamers

Seraphim Squad [4 PL, 90pts]

. 2x Seraphim: 4x Bolt pistol, 2x Frag & Krak grenades

. Seraphim Superior: Bolt pistol, Bolt pistol

. Seraphim w/ Special Weapons: 2x Ministorum Hand Flamers

. Seraphim w/ Special Weapons: 2x Ministorum Hand Flamers

+ Heavy Support +

Retributor Squad [6 PL, 130pts]: 2x Armourium Cherub

. Retributor Superior

. . Bolt Pistol & Boltgun

. Retributor w/ Heavy Weapon: Multi-melta

. Retributor w/ Heavy Weapon: Ministorum Heavy Flamer

. Retributor w/ Heavy Weapon: Ministorum Heavy Flamer

. Retributor w/ Heavy Weapon: Multi-melta

Retributor Squad [6 PL, 130pts]: 2x Armourium Cherub

. Retributor Superior

. . Bolt Pistol & Boltgun

. Retributor w/ Heavy Weapon: Multi-melta

. Retributor w/ Heavy Weapon: Ministorum Heavy Flamer

. Retributor w/ Heavy Weapon: Ministorum Heavy Flamer

. Retributor w/ Heavy Weapon: Multi-melta

+ Dedicated Transport +

Sororitas Rhino [4 PL, 80pts]

Sororitas Rhino [4 PL, 80pts]

++ Fortification Network -1CP (Imperium – Adepta Sororitas) [4 PL, 80pts, 12CP] ++

+ Fortification +

Battle Sanctum [4 PL, 80pts]

 

Understanding the How the Adepta Sororitas Play

In this most recent iteration Games Workshop have blessed the faithful with a deep and diverse codex, such that I don’t think that the Sororitas have been in any way solved or “figured out” yet and I’m happy with how the new book turned out. To understand my list, let’s start by examining the Codex as a whole and how it plays. 

With the loss of an army-wide ability to Advance and charge, players have (correctly) realized that Sisters are now a slower force on the table. In addition the combination of Simulacrums no longer being free, changes to the Triumph, and a general decrease in availability of Miracle Dice have led many people to believe that the Miracle Dice mechanic would not be as reliable as before (mostly true). But these negatives are balanced by a remarkable array of buffs and improvements in the new book that turn Sisters into a very different army than before. After a few failed experiments with new builds, units, and orders I’ve come to understand a few key concepts about the army that I wanted to build my list around.

Morvenn Vahl is an excellent buff character, and one of my To The Last choices! Credit: John Lennon

Let’s break them down in order:

Sisters are slower than before, but are very reliably able to move and charge targets within 24” if you have the right dice showing. 

To take advantage of this, guaranteeing yourself one 6 on an MD with Terrible Knowledge ensures you’re never left out in the cold. However, this is only a strength if you have enemy units within 24” to charge! I need to build a list that can win on the scoreboard in a stand-off, therefore encouraging my opponent to come close the gap in games where terrain won’t let me do it myself. Alternatively, I need to be able to move upfield and get within 24” safely if my opponent doesn’t want to come over themself. 

The bodyguard rule is one of the best ways to protect yourself as you move forward.

Saint Celestine can be almost 11” in front of a Celestian squad without being shot if her Geminae are alive, which is important for both closing off no man’s land to the opponent and for holding objectives. This means I need to be able to protect my Celestians, and also move them around the board to keep pace. Vahl is also a great shooting platform and can hang around in line of sight to deal chip damage without repercussions as long as the bodyguards live.

Sisters can deliver a much harder punch in shooting than people think!

Many opponents thought that losing Storm of Retribution and taking a penalty to hit for moving and shooting with heavy weapons would make Retributors a less threatening unit, and they tended to be the only shooting units that Sisters armies would run before the new book. However the new Ebon Chalice Rules allow a second Sacred Rite to be taken for the detachment, which means I can take Divine Guidance for the Detachment, which boosts the AP of shooting attacks by 1 whenever they roll a 6 to wound in shooting. This is a big help for heavy flamers, hand flamers, and storm bolters, helping them punch above their weight class. This combos well with the Ebon Chalice Stratagem, Cleansing Flames, which improves the range of the flamers and can add up to 3 mortals per phase. Crucially, all of this shooting will have 12” to 24” range, which feeds back into my first point.

Sisters Miracle Dice are still pretty darn good, and Ebon Chalice provides a great outlet for bad rolls.

I took the Litanies of Faith relic, allowing me to re-roll one Miracle dice per battle round, but I was basically fishing for 5+ dice throughout the game. Anything else was likely being saved for morale checks or being slammed together with another low die to generate a 6 via the Order of the Ebon Chalice subfaction trait to benefit units in that Detachment. Notably, I’d use this to combine two “low’ Miracle dice into a 6 when using Blessed Bolts on a Dominion Squad to guarantee two mortal wounds, or when resolving damage from any Multi-meltas that happened to score a wound. I really don’t want to use my naturally high dice for these, as those need to be saved for Bloody Rose charges or to use on my tanky characters.  

God dammit.

Using Miracle Dice

One of the things that I have found with “new” Miracle dice is that I am typically better off saving them for later in the game rather than spending them early. My damage output is usually quite consistent as the Mortal Wounds I’ll generate will cover up for randomness in damage, so I almost exclusively use my early dice for charge rolls or saves, and then once I have built up an excess the spare dice can be used more freely.

 

The Game Plan

So where does this leave us, and what play style does the army want to adopt? Basically, I thought that Sisters were going to operate best as a “trap-door spider,” ready to pounce on anyone who provoked them but unable to just cast a net all the way across the table in one turn. I needed my army to lurk behind terrain and be unshootable in a meta with relatively low access to indirect fire, and score a ton of points while doing so. Then I’d need to be ready and capable of counter attacking with extreme prejudice as soon as the enemy crossed that magical 24” line into my killzone. 

The way this will usually play out is that, after a couple of turns of me inflicting chip damage while outsourcing my opponent, they’ll usually realize that they have to be more aggressive and act to change the state of the game. At that point it’s my job to punish them! This plan doesn’t work nearly as well if I’m up against an enemy that has access to lots of great indirect fire, but it’s a great baseline strategy for today’s meta, where Eldar, Imperial Guard, and Tyranids are all very rare, and Admech and Death Guard lists are unlikely to take three Scorpii or Plagueburst Crawlers. In those cases, I can usually weather one or two turns of shooting but I will need to set up my own push, coinciding with reserves, into my opponent’s territory.

Saint Celestine is a melee monster and a key part of my plan for primary. Credit: John Lennon

I had honestly reached this conclusion before I had even heard about player-placed terrain at the Lone Star Open, and I was having doubts about taking Sisters on what I was assuming would be terrain similar to the Atlantic City Open. At the time I was waffling between AdMech, Sisters, and Astartes before the terrain packet descended like a gift from the Emperor to cement my faction choice. Executing this game plan and working with this play style really depends on good, plentiful obscuring terrain to play the way I envisioned, and I immediately thought that I would be able to use the LSO terrain set-up to guarantee that my girls would survive the first Shooting phase. 

Then inspiration struck and I realized that placing my own terrain would allow a Battle Sanctum to be deployed as well! Castle Greyskull – as we affectionately call it – would play perfectly into my need to hide Sacresants and would also grant me additional miracle dice to help the army run more smoothly. It was an immediate addition to my army list draft, no questions asked. 

I love what the Battle Sanctum does for this army, but I don’t think that it is the only way forward for the faction. If I were to cut it, I expect that a Bloody Rose rhino would make its way into the list, just to help shore up the weakness to indirect fire that I mentioned earlier. I certainly think that heavy terrain (such as what you may find at the WTC), benefits this style so I may retool it to be a little more aggressive if I were attending a local event that I didn’t think would allow me to deploy the Sanctum.

The Battle Sanctum provided ample room to hide my army from this Deathwatch army Credit: John Lennon

Building a Plan for Scoring

With all of the above factors in play, I looked into what my plan for scoring would be. I always like to plan a few secondaries into the list, and I built this list such that it could score three secondaries with relatively little interaction: 

  • First off, I made sure that my To The Last choices would be rock solid. Saint Celestine and Morvenn Vahl are very durable characters that are hard to dislodge, and I snuck an upgrade into my Celestians to make them exactly 1 point more than my Retributors. Now, I’m in a great spot to hide the bodyguards and their charges for a clean 15 points. 
  • Next, my ability to dominate the 24” gap makes me feel very good about Stranglehold and Raise the Banners, as it is playing into my hands for my opponent to try and fight me here. If they just let me raise banners and tag center objectives, my secondaries will start to run away, and player placed terrain should let my primaries score fairly naturally. 

On Celestine and Assassination

Many players may see Celestine as daunting to take, given that she and the Geminae can be worth 9 points for the Assasination secondary objective. In my experience, there is usually a point late game where my opponent runs out of ways to kill my two named characters, and at this stage I can commit those characters aggressively without needing to fear for them. If I have a few miracle dice handy to stop high damage attacks, then their inherent damage reduction will do the rest. If Celestine commits to the heat of battle on turn 4, it is nigh impossible for a depleted army to kill her twice in time to score! I also find that most people don’t take Assassination into me, as I usually telegraph how well my army can protect its characters when needed.

 

Summing Things Up

Overall, I really liked how the army played, and it felt very well suited to take on the meta at Lone Star. I can’t deny that the unique setup here really helped the army, but I believe that Sisters (and this archetype) can be successful in any format where the terrain is known in advance and adequate to hide a decent chunk of the army. Between bodyguards, reserves, and rhinos I was pleased by how small the footprint of my army was and how easy it was to hide from direct shooting on turn 1. 

Have any questions or feedback? Drop us a note in the comments below or email us at contact@goonhammer.com. And you can read more from John Lennon and follow his battle reports on the Art of War site.

 

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