In advance of the upcoming release of Codex: Space Marines and as promised, Games Workshop dropped a massive FAQ update on us today (remember when we said fifteen books needed a FAQ? Turns out it was more). There’s a lot to digest, so we’re poring over every word of the updates and noting what’s changed and our thoughts on what it means for the faction. In this article we’re looking at Sisters of Battle and the changes to their Codex.
The Holy Trinity
So, what weapons changed and got better? What’s that? Heavy Bolters, Flamers, and Meltas? And they didn’t get more expensive? I think that’s uuuh… checks codex …Yes, that’s ALL that sisters use. Everything. Apart from small arms, the occasional combi-weapon, and exorcist missiles, pretty much every significant gun that Sisters of Battle use got significantly better. You probably know these already, but I’ll go through the changes to these weapons briefly.
- Melta weapons went from 2d6 take the highest for damage within half range to 1d6+2, and Multi Meltas went from one to two shots. This is a slight buff to standard Meltaguns, barely noticable to Inferno Pistols, but Emperor almighty, the big winner here is Multi Meltas. Doubling their shots (the single shot always misses), and with a 24″ range meaning you’re more likely to actually be within half range, these got a massive buff. Expect to see these constantly now.
- Heavy Bolters went from one to two damage. Suddenly they’re a credible threat to Primaris Marines, and a lot better against light tanks. These go from a somewhat fringe weapon whose best prey, 1 wound MEQ, are increasingly rare on the table, to a flexible, excellent workhorse gun capable of threatening a lot of different target profiles.
- Flamers all went to 12″ range, including hand flamers. This is a nice bit of extra reach for infantry with flamers, though 4″ extra is not massive if they’re starting on the battlefield. The big bonus is being able to outflank with flamer armed squads and shoot on the first turn you arrive. (Or descend upon wings of fury, if you’re a Seraphim)
These are big game changers for sisters, and fundamentally transform their shooting game.
I’ll briefly go through a few more changes that are nice, but have somewhat less impact on the faction:
- Power Weapons got +1 Strength. This takes the Maul up to +3 (S6) and the Sword up to +1 (S4). This is a pretty big buff to Zephyrim, and makes putting a power weapon on a sister superior a bit more attractive. Especially in crusade where they can get upgrades.
- Plasma (Pistols, Combi-Weapons and on a Priest) overheat on a natural 1. Nice, but confined to a couple units. Sisters don’t have too much +1 to hit shenanigans, so there isn’t much downside here.
- Storm Shields are now a 4++ and +1 to armor saves. Was anyone taking crusaders anyways?
- Hunter Killer Missiles are Strength 10 now.
A few units come out of this FAQ quite transformed, and all for the better.
- Zephyrim are all armed with power swords. Which got +1 Strength. Going from S3 to S4 (rerolling) works out to +1 to wound against everything except T1, T5 or T9+ models. The only question is “Will it Blend?” and you already know the answer.
- Mortifiers are armed with 2 Heavy Bolters or Heavy Flamers. The extra range on heavy flamers is nice, but the +1 damage on Heavy Bolters is a much bigger deal. A unit of 3 with Heavy Bolters can put out 18 S5, AP-1, D2 shots at 3+ to hit. (Or 4+ if they want to advance for a 9″+d6″ movement, plus the ability to charge after moving for 1 CP, which you do if you can get a charge off.) These are suddenly looking like a much more credible contender for heavy support slots compared to the Exorcist. The only downside is that everyone else’s Heavy Bolters got better too, and you’re T5. Wings: Remember how the most recent winning Sisters list already ran 3×3 of these? Yeah get used to it.
- Retributors got better. Heavy Bolters are almost twice as good. Multi Meltas got exactly twice as good. Something particular to watch out for is that if you are within 12″ of your target (Such as by outflanking), your Sister Superior has a combi-flamer, you can use the Holy Trinity Stratagem for +1 to wound. With 8 Multi-Melta shots. Doing D6+2 damage each. For 150 points. They even ignore the move-shoot penalty for heavy weapons thanks to Faithful Advance. You can make these deadlier point for point than 3 eradicators, but it’s a bit more CP intensive and they are far more fragile. They definitely give them a run for their money, though.
- Dominions can pull similar tricks to Retributors. A few loadouts to consider are:
- 4 Flamers outflanking (80 Points)
- 4 Flamers and one Combi-Melta outflanking and using Holy Trinity (90 points)
- 4 Meltas and a Combi-Flamer using Holy Trinity (110 Points)
- The Holy Trinity Stratagem as a whole is much easier to pull off with flamers getting 12″ range, and is probably going to become a staple faction tool instead of an occasional gimmick.
- Bloody Rose. Among the Orders, I think Bloody Rose might come off best from this. Zephyrim got increased combat performance, and Mortifiers can now be a very credible shooting platform to supplement their main use in close combat, adding a lot more flexibility to Bloody Rose lists that go full angry nun.
- Celestians are generally just all-round flexible good units in Bloody Rose, and a unit with a power sword on the sergeant and some meltas get even better in that regard.
A few things got significantly better, but not quite to the point where it’s completely transformed their utility on the tabletop.
- Immolators, at least their Multi-Melta and Heavy Bolter variants, have improved greatly. I can definitely see all three configurations having a serious use, and with the extended flamer range, Dominions and Retributors have a bigger threat range if they pop out of them.
- Rhinos. Suddenly the Heavy Bolter stuck on the front is looking a lot less like a points sink.
- Penitent Engines. These got the same buffs as mortifiers, but forgoing the extra 2″ of movement, access to the stratagem to advance and charge, and WS4+/BS5+ instead of 3+ for both are NOT worth saving 10 points, especially with Heavy Bolters being good now.
- The Battle Box Cannoness. It’s not huge, but getting up to STR 4 with a power sword gives her a bit more oomph as a back line buff bot with a rod of office in case something gets into your lines.
- Seraphim don’t really benefit from the change to Inferno pistols, out of deep strike as they need to survive a turn to get within 3″. That said, the 4 Hand Flamer squad is now something to look at. It was never going to be worth 1CP to get them to shoot when they dropped in, but 4d6 strength 3 autohitting shots anywhere you want them is decent horde clearing potential at 83 points, and especially if you use them to clear a screen for a charge, there’s a much better chance they won’t get focused down over the next turn. In addition, an inferno squad hiding behind terrain is now that much scarier.
- Geminae Superia are probably still not worth it most of the time, but being S4 makes it much more likely they can do something. They’re OK for some actions too (though not the ones that prohibit CHARACTERS), so maybe there’s fringe uses for them.
- Your Opponents
- I really wanted to only have that one line here, but there are two minor losers. Crusaders suffer from the Storm Shield change, though they aren’t a big part of the army.
- General Infantry Survivability went down. There’s going to be a lot of Heavy Bolters around, and they didn’t get worse at killing sisters, even if they’re far more efficient at killing marines. They got better at killing Repentia, as the 5+++ Feel no Pain save only shrugs off one in 9 unsaved wounds, rather than one in 3.
Overall, Sisters of Battle win big in this FAQ. Many of their unit configurations got massively better, and the changes open up a lot of flexibility and new list building options. Notably, you can now put down real ranged firepower without bringing Exorcists. It’s a brave new world out there, now go set it on fire in the Emperor’s name.