Legions Imperialis: The Great Slaughter – The Goonhammer Review: Solar Auxilia

The Solar Auxilia get three new Formations and seven new Detachments in this supplement, and the formations range from decent to incredibly good and the detachments cover the full spread from terrible to “Achilles Leaves His Tent.” So let’s get into it.

Thanks as always to Games Workshop for providing us a preview copy of The Great Slaughter.

Solar Auxilia Formations

Solar Auxilia get three new formations in this supplement, and they’re all welcome additions, though at least one of them may be a bit much. 

Solar Auxilia Artillery Company

Take a spare command stand and two boxes of the new artillery tank, because that’s all you need. You can go Full Basilisk in Legions Imperialis, and honestly, we’d recommend it for reasons we’ll get into in a bit. Your compulsory detachments are a single HQ and three artillery, with the option to take two Support and two Bastion choice, giving you your choice of some defensive infantry and some Rapiers or Tarantulas for close in defence. Thanks to the Barrage rule on most of your options here, you can safely park the entire formation behind cover, and a couple of Tarantulas can give you some air defence that’s nothing to sneeze at. 

Now that we’ve covered the good parts of this formation, let’s get to the better: the Pulverising Volleys rule means your units can use the Barrage rule without taking the penalty to hit. Expect to see at least one of these show up in most Solar Aux lists, and as an ally in most Legiones Astartes forces, as they offer reliable ranged firepower that can threaten to wipe entire enemy formations off the table with impunity.

The downside to this formation is that it’s probably too good: the strong formation rule combines with the raw power of the Basilisk detachment to create a force-building option that might be just too damn strong. Proceed with caution.

Thundercloud: For the reasons we’ll go into later I would seriously consider limiting Artillery Companies to 1 per 3000 points in friendly games. They aren’t a friendly Formation.

Solar Auxilia Mechanised Infantry Sub Cohort

This is the Solar Auxilia’s answer to mechanized Legion Demi-Companies. Every infantry unit without Deep Strike has to take Dracosan transports. (Thundercloud: What a tragedy.) Compulsory detachments are a single HQ, two Core and one Support, so exactly the same as the Sub-Cohort formation, but this time with rides you don’t buy as separate Transport detachments. The optional detachments are 2 Vanguard, a Support and an Air Support, so you lose the flexibility of the Sub-Cohort taking Battle Tanks or Light Armour, but you can have a lot of Aethon Heavy Sentinels if you like.

Solar Auxilia Stormhammer, now with added trim – credit Warhammer Community

Solar Auxilia Super Heavy Company

Remember Epic three model Super Heavy tank companies? I do, they were great, and now they’re back. You have to take 3 Heavy Armour detachments, and have the option of taking two more, which means you can have a ridiculously big formation, or you could go with a lot of single tank detachments, which limits your vulnerability to things like Warp Missiles for example.

We still think the Armoured Company with two Leman Russ and a Baneblade is great, but the Mobile Fortifications rule increases the Tactical Strength of detachments in the formation when you have two or more models close enough to an objective to capture. It makes parking on objectives easier, though you’ll still have a tough time contesting them against even a single stand of infantry holding that objective (you’d need four super heavy tanks at tactical strength 3 each to get over double an infantry stand with tactical strength 5).

Solar Auxilia Detachments

In addition to new formation rules, Solar Aux players have a slew of new units to play with.

Transport Detachments

Auxilia Dracosan Transport

At 37 points a model these are a pricey but very good transport. Space Marine Rhinos may be cheap at ten points, but with an additional 2 transport capacity (for a total of 4), a 2+ save instead of 4+, and CAF +2, the Dracosan already makes a case for its higher points value. Add in a lascannon for reliable anti-tank firepower across a detachment, and you start to see why you’re paying for these. All that said, they only have an 8” move, so they’re a little slower than Rhinos, but they’re a lot more survivable and have a gun that might do anything, ever. 

And while the 2+ save with a lascannon dice to fire back at the enemy make this not the world’s worst choice for a tank, you can pay 5 points to swap the lascannon for a Demolisher cannon and drop it to Transport 2 from 4. In other words, 42 points buys you a tougher Rhino that can pack a 12″ range AP-3 weapon with Ignores Cover and Demolisher, ready to be used for winkling out enemies in cover, knocking down buildings, or just blowing holes in anything else that gets in your way. There is absolutely no reason not to do this for the transport holding your HQ unit, since it will almost always be the odd unit out.

Dracosans are great, and I foresee a lot of Auxilia infantry getting mechanised. 

Support Detachments

Auxilia Cyclops Battery

Everyone loved the little Cyclops tank from Forge World, and now it’s coming to Legions Imperialis. These are Compact, so you can pop two of them in the back of a Dracosan if you want, and you could even sneak them into Arvus Lighters and airlift them around if you wanted. You could move 25″ in the Arvus, Disembark and move another 18″ with a March order. You will need a nearby Commander so the Cyclops can remote detonate though, but it’s possible with an Arvus Lighter-transported Sub Cohort Commander, or an Infiltrated Pioneer Company. It would be a very aggressive move, but these are a suicide unit, after all.

That said, with a movement of 9” you can just March around the board without putting them in a transport. Their 5+ Save and CAF -8 means you need to keep them safe so you can get them in position to detonante, but you could hold them behind your advancing troops and armour support, March them forward as they approach their targets and detonate them before your assault formations Charge into Combat or Advance into close range firefights. 

You have two choices, Demolition or Incineration charges, and they’re both 3+ to hit AP -1 and 3” Blast. Demolition has the Demolisher rule, so can affect buildings, but AP -1 isn’t going to do much (though AP-1 against vehicles is nothing to sniff at if they’re light vehicles like Rhinos). Incineration Ignores Cover and has Light AT, so it can damage vehicles but is good for getting infantry garrisoned in buildings. 

Remote Controlled Detonation is an interesting rule: if there is a Commander within 12” when the Cyclops finishes it’s movement, it can choose to Detonate. You don’t have to detonate every Cyclops in the formation, but given that they are Blast 3” you’ll have to position them carefully to not catch other Cyclops in the unit in the blast (where they’d only get a 6+ save) and get them killed without doing anything. Also bear in mind the individual model has to be within 12″ of a Commander, not one model in the detachment.

The high speed means if they are roving about on their own you need a Command that isn’t a footslogger and can keep up with them nearby to tell them when to blow up. At 40 points they’re a good distraction unit, but you could go crazy and put six in a unit for 120, or have separate units to waste enemy fire but fill up your support detachments.

Battle Tank Detachments

Solar Auxilia already have a really good Battle Tank option in the Leman Russ, but now they’ve also got something fun with the Malcador hull. These can be taken as single model squadrons, which means a tank company minimum cost now drops to 250 points (including command tank upgrade) for all the compulsory slots. These variants are both better, cheaper, and more focused than the standard Malcador.

Auxilia Malcador Infernus Squadron

Malcador Infernus – Credit Warhammer Community

Do you hate large groups of enemy infantry, especially in cover, or really large groups of anything? For 70 points you can dig out the Flamer template from 40k and burn them all to death. 

Remember that with the Pioneer company formation these gain Forward Deployment and start even closer to the enemy. There’s a Battle Tank Detachment in the optional detachments. Think about it. 

This is an incredibly useful support tank for clearing buildings as the Inferno gun ignores penalties against targets in cover and ignores cover saves. 4+ to hit anything under the template, AP -1 and Light AT means it’s better against infantry, but get enough hits and you’ll broil a tank or two, especially light ones like Rhinos. 

A 3+ save and 2 wounds means it has reasonable survivability, and a detachment size of 1 means that not only is it super cheap, it’s 25 points cheaper to buy two of these than standard Malcadors. 

You can take lascannons or autocannons as sponson weapons, and the rules for the Inferno Gun mean you can fire these at any eligible target, making them a bit more flexible. You’ll need to get them in close to get the most value out of them, but that’s a small price to pay for the potential upside.

Auxilia Valdor Squadron

Valdor Tank Hunter. These look great to me, like a WW1 version of a tank destroyer – credit Warhammer Community

What if the Malcador got rebuilt around a Neutron Laser? The Malcador loses the turret and belly gun, but gains a Range 22” 4+ to hit -3 AP gun with Shock Pulse. That rule means if you hit a vehicle, super heavy vehicle, knight or titan, that unit’s movement is halved and it can only fire one weapon for the rest of the turn (if it’s already fired, for example Point Defence weapons during movement, then it can’t fire at all). Not only does this mean that you can shut down super heavy vehicles or knights with a hit (not a wound, so even if they save they’re in trouble), but if you happen to be shooting an enemy with active void shields it loses 2 shields, not 1. 

All that and a sponson weapon (your choice of autocannon or lascannon) for a grand total of 70 points. That makes it cheaper than standard Malcadors, and much better for ripping off shots at Titans. 

You can pair these up with Leman Russ Vanquishers, and have one or two Valdors and a squadron of Russes that can bully small Titans or super heavies. The Valdors can strip shields and shut down return fire, while the Vanquishers use their AP and Armourbane to pile on the wounds. 

It also looks like Solar Auxilia players are going to find it hard to justify fielding a Direwolf Heavy Scout Titan now, if only because its unique trick (Shock Pulse) is available to them at a fraction of the price.

Heavy Armour Detachments

Auxilia Stormhammer Squadron

An interesting alternative to the Baneblade, this is a little slower and a little worse in close combat, but in exchange lets you roll a small bucket of dice. 

The main weapons (Stormhammer cannon and dual battlecannon) are two dice each and aren’t Anti-tank or Light AT, letting you put out solid firepower into any target. As a bonus, the Stormhammer cannon has Shred, forcing infantry, cavalry or walkers to reroll successful saves, which can be useful given how much everyone loves Dreadnoughts because AP-2 means they’d be saving on 6s anyway.

You’ll have a decision to make about whether to have multi-laser turrets or lascannon turrets: multi-lasers have Point Defence, while lascannon turrets give you 4 lascannon dice to play with. Either is a solid choice, and all in all this unit is great as a light vehicle/walker/infantry hunter and adds greater variety to heavy armour detachments. 

Artillery Detachments 

Legiones Imperialis Basilisk Kit. I’ve left the Medusas in the picture because I don’t think you’ll ever see them in real life – Credit Warhammer Community

Auxilia Medusa Battery

These are a thing that exist, and it’s nice they gave you an option to build something else on the Basilisk sprue. 

For 32.5 points you can get a 12” range gun with AP -3, Demolisher, and Barrage (but not Ignores Cover). So a cheaper (by almost ten points) Demolisher Dracosan without the better save, better CAF, ability to ignore cover and ability to transport troops. However you can fire indirectly from up to 12” away

If you spot any of these in a game, you know you are playing someone who just loves the models, because these aren’t that great. If they were cheaper by say another ten points then yeah, I’d take them, but these are competing with Basilisks for slots and artillery are generally meant to be far away from the enemy, which these can’t do but Basilisks can.

I suppose you could use the parts for conversions?

Auxilia Basilisk Detachment

These are a problem. 

For 140 points (so that’s 35 points a model), you get 4 tanks with a range 90” AP -2 gun with Barrage, and you can put it in a formation where it ignores the -1 to hit from indirect fire. 

Now picture these parked at the back in a little fortified artillery company, behind buildings or hills or whatever so nothing can see them, with a couple of air defence Tarantulas sat next to them to make air striking them more difficult, and some screening Auxilia infantry to make assaulting them more difficult. Now picture 12 or 16 AP-2 shots hitting on 4+ raining down on your lil’ guys every turn wherever you are on the table and how upset that would make you. 

A minimum size artillery company would be 430 points (HQ + 12 Basilisks), which isn’t a lot, and it’s really good, so I would expect to see artillery companies even in games as small as 1500 points, where 12 Basilisk shots dropping on you every turn is going to give people some real bad feelings. 

But that’s the vibes-based look at it. Let’s see some Excel tables: 

Number of Basilisks Average Hits Average Wounds
Save 2+ Save 3+ Save 4+
16 8 4.0 5.3 6.7
12 6 3.0 4.0 5.0
8 4 2.0 2.7 3.3
4 2 1.0 1.3 1.7

 

So as you can see, a 12 model Basilisk company (430 points of models) can kill a mint Warhound Titan (330 points) with slightly better than average dice, or a Warhound without Voids on below average dice, or a Reaver or Warbringer without Voids on average dice. They can wipe out a 4 model Predator or Sicaran detachment on average dice, or 1 ½ Kratos. 

But is it so much worse than, say, lascannon Predators? Compare 9 Predators vs 8 Basilisk (300 vs 280 points).

Number of Lascannon Predators Average Hits Average Wounds
Save 2+ Save 3+ Save 4+
9 9 3.0 4.5 6.0
6 6 2.0 3.0 4.0
4 4 1.3 2.0 2.7
3 3 1.0 1.5 2.0

 

Lascannon Predators do almost twice as many wounds. Doesn’t sound so bad.

The main issue though is the range. Imagine the Predators start on the other side of the table, and need to get to within 22” and also line of sight. The Basilisks have deployed behind buildings, and the Predators, even Marching, will need to move twice at March speed to get line of sight to hit them. So 9 Predators take two rounds of shooting before they can hit back, and 9 Predators becomes 3, and they get wiped out in the third turn of shooting in return for killing 1.5 Basilisks on average rolls. 

Basilisks can drop shells from a range where they can’t be hit back and from where they can’t be seen. And at 35 points a model they’re an absolute steal. 

Conclusion

The Solar Auxilia have got even more good tanks and possibly the most horrible unit in the game, the Basilisk. There are some stinkers (the Medusa) but it solidifies Solar Auxilia as, in my opinion, the stronger faction in the game. With the solid infantry of the core book you now get some incredibly useful battle tank detachments and the most broken formation in the game, the artillery company.

Thundercloud: Basilisks were very unpleasant in 2nd edition Epic, and those had a shorter range. I strongly feel that making these AP-2 and 90″ range for 35 points a model is going to be something the design team rue when they go to events. I can see restrictions getting house ruled (1 Artillery Company per 3000 points would be one way of doing it, or a limit of 4 Basilisks per 1000 would be two options) because of just how good they are in Artillery Companies.

The additional units in The Great Slaughter give Solar Auxilia even more flexibility in list design in building forces with large numbers of activations, as you now have Battle Tank detachments that cost 70 points. How much of an advantage you can build up in forcing your opponent to move all their models and you being able to react to his move is debatable, considering they could then do all of their shooting long before you do.

There are some great list building options, and it further solidifies Solar Auxilia as a coherent faction that reflects actual military thinking (artillery, armour, infantry, close support, aircraft) while the Legio Astartes are still waiting for a lot of units (artillery like Whirlwinds, light armour, close support tanks like Vindicators) to give them a more complete set of army building options. Astartes may have a selection of great dreadnoughts, but they’re liable to get blown up by artillery they can’t even see, let alone shoot at.