As you might have noticed there’s rather a lot of exciting new content to talk about at the moment, but amidst all the chaos and joy of 9th Edition the final book in the Psychic Awakening series, Pariah, is also upon us.
Somewhat mercifully, from my point of view, there isn’t that much in the way of matched play content in this book – it was clearly anticipated that 9th Edition would be stealing the limelight by the time this landed – but there are a few cool new datasheets to talk about and some updated rules for the Inquisition. We’ve done reviews of the other eight books and much like the aforementioned Inquisition we aren’t a fan of loose ends, so let’s do this!
Pariah contains the following new matched play rules:
- Updated rules for the Inquisition, featuring a new datasheet and a few changes from the White Dwarf version.
- A datasheet for Ephrael Stern and Kyganil, heroes available to any Imperium warlord.
- A new datasheet for Illuminor Szeras to go with his fancy updated model.
There is also a decent amount of narrative play content in here, and one thing that’s worth flagging is that a lot of that is a collection of Theatres of War, sets of rules you can apply at the battlefield level to give your games a twist. That’s a good choice, because unlike the narrative play missions, those should be largely portable to 9th, and indeed some of them even use some 9th edition terminology like “normal move”. If you’re a fan of these this looks like a pretty good collection of them.
The bulk of the rules in this book cover the forces of the Inquisition, following through with GW’s goal of getting most of the rules pushed out via White Dwarf into print somewhere. They mostly haven’t changed – it’s definitely worth taking a look at our in-depth review from when these first landed, as most of it holds. However, there are both tweaks and improvements within, which is what we’ll focus on.
All INQUISITOR models now gain the “AGENT OF THE IMPERIUM” keyword, and now have the same rules for army inclusion as we saw for Assassins in War of the Spider.
That means that you can include one model with this keyword in each IMPERIUM Patrol, Battalion or Brigade detachment in your army, without it breaking any detachment abilities or army abilities that rely on everything having the same keyword. That’s not as much of a change for the Inquisition as it was for Assassins (barring it being less ambiguous whether you could take one per detachment), though it does mean you can’t trivially include one alongside a Knight list any more. The “slot” used for an Inquisitor or an Assassin is the same – so if you want both, you’ll need multiple qualifying detachments in your list. I think unifying this is a good thing – it forces Imperium players to be a bit more discerning about how they pick and choose from their dizzying array of options. It also provides a neat tool to slot in any future esoteric weirdos GW decide to make models for, and it’s a bit of a missed opportunity that they didn’t go ahead and do this for Stern and Kyganil.
Outside of this, the army-level rules for the Inquisition are unchanged – you still pick an Ordo for the same benefits, they can still ignore faction keywords when getting into IMPERIUM transports (though not other ones, so the inside of an Impulsor is still a great place for Primaris marines to hide their heresy) and you can still only take one INQUISITOR in an INQUISITION detachment (though sadly with the cost of a Vanguard now being high, you probably almost never want to).
One of the marquee new models for this book is a brand new named Inquisitor, Kyria Draxos. She’s a Radical member of the Ordo Xenos, which is expressed by her being way too into elves (which, you know, relateable) and having a cool psychic dragon. She weighs in at 80 points with her wargear, and what she offers over a regular inquisitor is a decent suite of wargear (a souped-up shuriken catapult, power fist and power armour) and two special abilities – her dragon lets her target her smites rather than having to hit the closest, and she has paralysis grenades that let her make one unit she charged fight last.
The abilities are cool, and Kyria is basically fine overall, but falls down in only being a one-cast psyker and not being able to use the new Alpha Class Pskyer ability to increase that, and being locked in to the Radical warlord trait (one re-roll per battle round) rather than being able to take Esoteric Lore for CP farming. Sniping with Smite is cute, but the Inquisition has a targeted smite option available already.
A popular use of Inqusitiors is running alongside Repentia in Sororitas armies, and Kyria is pretty decent at that (plus the model whips), but I don’t think she immediately leaps ahead of other options here.
There are almost no changes to other units in here. All the INQUISITOR units gain the AGENT OF THE IMPERIUM keyword (but not the hangers on, so they still need a dedicated detachment), and Jokaero get a princely discount of 4ppm, as their weapons are now free.
That isn’t quite the full story, because “vanilla” Inquisitors get a bit more attractive now that the Alpha Class Psyker stratagem exists. For 1 CP, this lets you update a non-named inqusiitor with an additional known power and deny (though not a cast). That lets you make a Xenos or Hereticus inquisitor a bit more flexible, or make a Malleus Inquisitor a deny monster, but missing out on the additional cast still leaves them a litlte behind Coteaz, Eisenhorn, or Hector Rex if what you want is a total psychic monster. It is a nice recognition that the Telesthia discipline is the main attraction of this ruleset, and could become more important if 9th increases the costs on some of the named options.
The changes through the rest of the rules are pretty limited – outside of stratagems a few things have been renamed, but the effects are all still the same. The psychic discipline is still pretty hot, though 9th changes the balance a bit. With free Overwatch going away, Terrify is a bit less good (though still highly relevant in some situations), but on the flipside the updated character targeting rules make Psychic Veil (the Xenos power) a bit more useful, as it lets an Inquisitor essentially give themselves the old character targeting rules. That makes an Alpha Class Psyker Xenos Inquisitor a pretty good supporting unit, as they can use the Veil to keep themselves safe until they’re needed, then move up to drop Terrify if needed.
Stratagems is the one place where there’s some new stuff. The four existing ones are all still here (though some are renamed), but two new ones are added. We’ve already talked about Alpha Class Psykers, and the other new option is Clandestine Operation, which lets you bring an Inqusitor and one of each of the hanger on units in from deep strike. It’ll mostly be used for solo inquisitors, but it is basically just pure upside to have access to, and good now that it’s harder to keep characters safe in general.
There isn’t a massive amount to say here – Inquisitors were already a good niche option for the Imperium and they still are, with a few additional bits of flexibility to boot. Not being able to easily bring them with Knights is a little bit of a blow, but as it happens, Knights looking for some extra characters get another new option in this book…
Stern and Kyganil
Emerging from the Webway, where they wander in search of newer and more powerful forms of hero-rock technology, Ephrael Stern and Kyganil can join any IMPERIUM detachment for 115pts without taking a slot or breaking any rules, and can deep strike as a pair to represent their sudden appearences. Once they’re deployed they can work independently, but you’ll often want to keep them together as we’ll see.
Once on the table they’re pretty nifty, and relatively pushed for their point cost. Stern is a bit of a beast, packing defensive stats more in line with a Primaris Captain than a battle sister while swinging away with four S5 AP-3 D2 attacks. In addition, at the start of your shooting phase she effectively automatically casts a slightly better Smite, dealing d3 MWs to the nearest unit on a 5+ on 2d6, upping to d6 on a 9+ and adding two to the roll if there are any CHAOS units nearby. Finally, she has a 4++ and all attacks against her are at -1 to hit.
Kyganil is slightly less impressive but works in a very complementary way with Stern. He can attack with either his blades or his harlequin’s kiss, the former giving him 8 S3 AP-1 attacks to scythe through chaff, and the latter letting him at least threaten characters, especially when working alongside Stern. He also has a 4++, always fights first, and finally gives Stern a 5+++ while within 3″, a strong incentive for them to tag team.
This duo seems pretty great – they’re not really doing anything entirely unseen but they’re priced to move. I’ve included Yvraine in Eldar armies just as an efficient MW battery at 115, and these feel like they’re in a pretty similar ballpark for overall utility, probably even being a bit stronger. Getting to deep strike for free is further upside and there’s one more cute interaction – Stern herself has the ADEPTA SORORITAS keyword, so if you run her alongside a Sororitas Detachment she’s eligible for a few stratagems. For a brief period this includes, hilariously, the ability to get back up with Miracle dice, because the way they have excluded it from being able to affect Named Characters is by explicitly listing the units that can’t.
We’ll need to see how much 9th changes the value of characters to find out if these will have a place, but my sense is that they’re one of those units that’s good enough that they’ll never feel too horrible to have around – so if you’re an Imperium player who is a fan of the models and/or herohammer, go wild.
Last, but as a firm member of Team Xenos definitely not least, we have a big upgrade for Illuminor Szeras, a Necron named character.
Hmm? What’s that? You were expecting someone different?
Don’t know what you’re talking about, pretty sure that’s him.
At least unlike some previous big model changes, Szeras appears to have actually had an in-universe upgrade, which means we don’t need to ask too many questions about him being three times the size he once was.
I’ve long enjoyed putting Szeras on the tabletop – the weakness of Necron Warriors as a strategy has generally kept him from being top-tier, but if you do want to use them in a more casual game his ability to drop stat boosts on them is definitely welcome. Acting as a “wildcard” character that could go in any detachment and act as a Cryptek to multiple dynasties was also helpful, and packing an extra wound and a better save was useful against snipers.
The buff capabilities stay pretty much the same – Szeras can still tune up one unit of Warriors or Immortals at the end of your movement phase, giving them a random one out of +1S, +1T or +1BS. You’re usually hoping for the toughness, but neither of the others is terrible. The ability is a bit easier to use though – it used to have a paltry 1″ range, forcing some very fiddly positioning, and that’s now changed to a healthy 6″. He can also use this ability immediately another time if he ever destroys an enemy unit in the fight phase. Gonna be honest, that is basically never going to come up.
The real changes here are to his size (being on a big base is actively helpful for his aura) and his statline – he’s now vastly more dangerous in combat, sporting 4 S7 AP-3 D2 attacks, and a couple of additional swings with his legs if he’s being bothered by pathetic insects. He’s also nails on the defence, with T6 and a mighty 7W. He does still lack an invuln, but T6 is a great defence against Eliminators and makes him a real pain to burst down – also helpful if he ever gets isolated. His ranged weapon has also changed – it’s traded half its range to become d3 shots. With his decent combat stats and 9th looking to encourage aggression on the table, that probably works out to a net buff.
Finally, any enemy psykers within 9″ of him perils on any double rather than just a double 1 or 6. Minor, but pure upside, so hey, why not.
For all of this you pay a princely premium of 20 points on top of his old cost and I’m gonna say yeah – that’s probably worth it. Necron Warriors get a decent buff in their Indomitus datasheet, so if anything else new pushes them further then I think Szeras has the potential to be a competitive choice, providing a nice mix of buffing and damage output that Necrons are sorely lacking.
Wrapping Things Up
That’s it for Pariah and closes out our matched play reviews of Psychic Awakening in general. If we have time amidst all the 9th coverage we’re going to see if we can put together a general round-up of how we felt about the series, but it’s definitely been nice to have a constant churn of new options that have shifted the metagame over the final stretch of 8th edition. Time will tell how many of them stay useful in 9th.